media

All posts tagged media

Violet was screaming, “Look at us! You don’t have the feed! You are the feed! Your feed! Your being eaten!”

In the novel Feed by M.T. Anderson, media plays a huge role due to its integration into the human body. By getting rid of external technology, the internal construction of the human brain becomes a media playground with the “feed” constantly probing and advising the user.   It’s often hard to disguise between personal thoughts and the feed, because there often are none. There is just the feed!

Feed takes place in a futuristic dystopian society in which everyone had “the feed”. The feed is a micro-chip that is imbedded in the brain, “feeding” the user any information they want or would want to know. Everything is available with in a blink of an eye…literally. No remote, no phone, no TV needed. So, in having the feed you basically have a built-in mind computer. As such, you are frequently bombarded with advertisements, commercials, TV shows, social updates, and the news.

Example of what the feed does for the user.

Part of the book describes, when accessing the feed, the user seems to dazing off, leaving behind a blank expression. Another response happens involuntary when the user looks at products, merchandise, or thinks of something they want. The feed is the brain, and it allows direct media access from corporations to their target consumers. All the time.

In this case, the feed is the media, and it’s an intimate part of you. Not only does the feed facilitate your desires, but it also allows corporations to have a literal voice in your head in the form of Nina your personal shopper.

She works much like an algorithm. Every sensory detail helps Nina construct a personal profile that better aids “the feed” to distribute information to you,  while also assisting corporations to distribute products that you might want and ultimately buy.

With the feed’s cognitive integration, Nina is able to construct a profile that relays everything that you find interesting, without you even asking.

“All you must do is want something, and there’s a chance it will be yours.” But, the primary job of the feed is to serve as a distraction. It become evident towards the end of the book that reality is not so great as the feed perceives it to be. The Earth is dying, and the environmental conditions are gradually causing physical degradations to its inhabitants. Viruses, lesions, even hair balding is happening. Slowly, the people are being consumed by the dire conditions that they have ignored , and even embraced. They are being eaten alive, but its all up to the feed to make sure they don’t realize it.

 

Anderson, Mathew. Feed. Candlewick Press, 2002.

Propaganda seems to play a large role in dystopian fiction, as it promotes specific societal standards, plays on social tensions, and relays messages over media to masses of people. In Feed, by MT Anderson, the role of propaganda dominates all others, as society and trends are controlled by the Feed, with implanted brain chips guiding every individual’s thoughts, opinions, and free time. In Anderson’s novel, a group of American corporations regulate and control all things relating to the feed: installation, fees, maintenance, qualitative material, and customer service. From an economic standpoint, this makes the Feed a monopoly, allowing it to charge above market prices and avoid innovation, since there is no competition. This creates a dependence on these corporations, since all business, social, and leisure activities are centered around this technology. The corporations behind the Feed are therefore incredibly powerful and influential, supplying the public with their main medium of communication. This then allows the Feed to display advertisements, images, and propaganda that guide their users to buy more and more from the Feed, making the technology a necessity in their society.

Brain chips are slowly emerging from a fictional impossibility to a realistic scientific endeavor. Does dystopian literature reflect and critique the possibility of this advancement in our modern world? (“Brain Chips”).

Anderson clearly illustrates that public opinion and societal trends are greatly controlled and influenced by the Feed, and specifically through the media that the Feed provides. Flashing advertisements pop up in the character’s minds when they reach any new destination. They’re constantly updated on sales, clothing trends, and TV show updates that pop up in their feeds. The customization of shopping also guides the individual towards what the Feed wants them to like, through advice from online helpers and visual stimulation on the network. All of these images, videos, and updates serve as propaganda that the Feed literally plants in the minds of their users, guiding them towards a specific outcome or sale. The Feed does not only serve as a way of communication between users, but also a way of control and communication between the user and the corporation.

This specific form of propaganda exemplifies the typical government/corporation totalitarian control that often occurs in dystopian fiction. For a non-democratic government system to work, all citizens and participants must consent to their government, or be forced to consent. The Feed serves as the media that subconsciously forces their customers to continue using their services, since the technology has become a social survival necessity. The Feed also reflects on our own modern world, serving as a critique of the rapid advancement of technology and how it will affect our intelligence, communication, and language. Anderson’s Feed is a sort of pessimistic prediction of how society will adapt to technological change, and how personal intelligence and personality may be wiped away.

Anderson’s “Feed” explored a technological advancement that impacted society, government, and individual rights, with propaganda as the center of the technology. “Feed” exemplifies how media can control, not only society, but individual minds. (ISawChannel).

Works Cited:

Anderson, Matthew Tobin. Feed. Candlewick, 2002.

“Brain Chips.” Information Stash, 1 Feb. 2017, www.informationstash.com/Blog/brain-chips.html

ISawChannel. Memory Brain Chip? Episode 13. ISawChannel.com. 19 Mar. 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sKpjCyz8I8

Propaganda is arguably the most important element in dystopian literature. Propaganda, or biased media usually published with a specific agenda, is essential to the type of authoritarian government so often seen in dystopian novels. Since the beginning of time, people have gotten their information about the world from other people. As technology and social media have spread, this access to information has gotten quicker, but still many people remain informed by the words of others. Even in the world of “alternative facts” today, the idea that anyone can share news with anyone else has remained a central theme to democracy and freedom. The multitude of news sources today’s generation sees (FOX, CNN, twitter, etc.) ensures that many different opinions on a single topic can be shared. This in incredibly important because if only one source was reporting, many Americans (or other citizens of the free world) would only hear one side of the story. Imagine how different elections would be if debates weren’t live for the people to watch? If every sentence spoken by a candidate was carefully structured and only released by a single news source, people would have much different opinions. Thus, it is easy to see how he (or she) who controls the media can easily control a large group of people.

Propaganda is utilized in dystopias because it is easier to control a group of people that doesn’t know they’re being controlled. “Any” utilitarian government with the right resources can force people to work or force them to live in designated areas; but a government that controls the people’s media (and thus, their opinions) can make the people willingly take themselves to laborious work.

The chilling effects of propaganda are best seen in George Orwell’s novel, 1984. Even home is equipped with a telescreen (basically just a TV) which sounds cool at first, until you realize you can’t turn it off. Even in the “privacy” of one’s own home, the government and their messages cannot be escaped. A citizen of this dystopian setting is constantly bombarded with biased messages about amazing feats their government has achieved. While a citizen might be suspicious, since constant success seems unlikely, they have no other news source to check their facts against so they must have faith in their government. Every newspaper and handout is also only from the government as well. This, combined with the military music that often accompanies the boastful news, inspires patriotism in the citizens. Thus, they begin to trust and rely on their government and desire for rebellion is essentially extinguished.

Media is perhaps the easiest way in controlling people into doing what is desired of them. Although very applicable in the real world, any dystopian novels show the severe effects of this weapon on unsuspecting citizens. It is an indirect form of control targeted at what the most elusive area: their minds. Mind control has always been an obsession for totalitarian governments: it plays with their fear and hints at the limits of their power. It is simple to monitor the everyday actions of a prisoner but can we really get into his head? Media seems to be the answer for this glitch.

A specific example of media slowly insinuating itself parasitically into people’s minds can be seen through the emails in the novel After by Francine Prose. The book takes place after a massacre of a nearby school, prompting the one the main protagonist (Tom) is attending, to implement a new authoritative figure charged with the safety of the students. The school sends out a series of emails to the parents with counsels of how to ‘help’ their children. However, the real malevolent nature of these emails starts to emerge when the school turns into a totalitarian society. Instead of standing up for their children, the adults passively watch the whole thing unfold, their minds under the influence of these mind-controlling emails. At first, the changes are subtle, but eventually they end up acting like robots, quoting and obeying the orders sent to them.

Media in this example is very effective in many ways: it strips away the sense of security the student have, alienate them from their parents, and indirectly insinuate itself into the homes of its subjects. By using the emails, the school is using the students to control the parents and but the other way around works as well. Media in dystopian societies functions to blind the citizens from the truth of their situation and filter into their everyday life. The parents become brainwashed and are thus are easier to manipulate. This gradual dehumanization is the perfect result. The citizens cannot think for themselves but can only obey and be used as tools in which to control others.

See my vlog at https://youtu.be/s64hrqGRY6Q

Picture Sources:

“Capitol TV.” Digital image. Fandom. Wikia, n.d. Web.
http://thehungergames.wikia.com/wiki/Capitol_TV. Accessed: 30 Jan. 2017.

Ross, Gary, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Elizabeth Banks, Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth,
and Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games. United States: Alliance Film, 2012.

“The Capitol.” Digital image. Fandom. Wikia, n.d. Web.
http://thehungergames.wikia.com/wiki/The_Capitol. Accessed: 30 Jan. 2017.