Magazines

Andrea Mayer

Professor Josephson

COMPSTD 2367.04

4 March 2015

Magazines

                In 1741, the first two magazines in North America were published by Benjamin Franklin and Andrew Bradford. Franklin competed with Bradford to see who could publish their magazine first. Bradford’s American Magazine, or Monthly View of the Political State of the British Colonies beat Franklin’s The General Magazine, and Historical Chronicle for all the British Plantations in America by just three days (American Magazine). Magazines have come a long way since the 1700s and target specific audiences in today’s society. As a medium, magazines are tangible, book-like bound packets of information on any possible topic. Magazines target specific audiences such as pre-teens/teenagers, young men, young women, expecting parents, middle age parents, and grandparents. By targeting a specific audience, the publishers of magazines are able to relate to a certain genre and topic.

The first “teenage magazine” created in the United States was Seventeen in 1944 (History). Pre-teen and Teenage directed magazines such as J-14, Girl’s Life, and Seventeen use vibrant colors to gain the attention of their desired audience. They typical portray a well-known celebrity on the cover with a flashy headline. Magazines for this age group express themselves as a medium by containing posters that you can tear out and hang up, surveys for the reader to take, and quizzes such as “What actress are you most like?” By using such tactics in the set-up of the magazine, the publishers are able to acquire and keep the attention of the reader. However, teenagers do not stay teenagers forever and grow up into young men and women with magazines directed specifically for them.

Men’s Health and Sports Illustrated are two of the most popular magazines that target young men, ages 18-35. These magazines relay information about recent Sports topics and also give tips for men to use on how to lose weight or stay fit. Built like any other magazine, Men’s Health grabs the eye of the reader by having a shirtless man with chiseled abs on the front.  Sports Illustrated is known for either having a recently important athlete on the cover, or a woman in a bikini for sex appeal.  Sports Illustrated is credited with the first photographs through the use of an object in sports for a better angle (for example, in the net at a hockey game or through the glass backboard during an NBA championship) in 1965 (Sports Illustrated).  Contrary to these genres of magazines are magazines directed towards a young women audience.

Vogue and Cosmopolitan are two of the most famous magazines focused towards young women, roughly age 20-40. Vogue made its first appearance in American in 1892 and contained basic yet direct titles such as the 1916 September issue, “Forecast of Autumn Fashions”. Although modernized, Vogue is still directed towards the same audience as it was in the late 1800s and keeps women up to date on the latest fashion trends. Magazines as these typically portray a beautiful woman in appealing clothes on the cover to make the reader want to know how to have a body image like the model. Through the use of neutral colors with a pop of red or pink, magazines such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan bring the reader in to what’s “hot” in the fashion world. Many times, these magazines will have multiple pages of perfume samples where the reader can lift a tab and smell a fragrance. This hands on experience is one of the many reasons women still love to get their magazines at the end-cap at the grocery store. For the women who are a little bit older and ready to start a family, a different category of magazine is specifically for them.

Fit Pregnancy and Babytalk are two of the most popular examples of magazines directed towards expecting parents (mothers in particular). By using big names such as Kourtney Kardashian on the cover, publishers are drawing in readers not only for the reason of parenting advice, but also to see what the celebrities are doing during their pregnancies. These magazines give expecting mothers an idea of what vitamins and supplements they should be taking, what vaccines are said to be controversial, what is fashionable to wear when pregnant, and what to expect when having their baby. They are also known for giving advice for the first year of parenting and have been referred to as the “Bible for new moms”. These magazines use pictures and description to let the reader know what is normal and when to seek help with a new baby in the house. Many new parents immediately think the worst when they hear their baby’s first cough, but with the help of magazines like Babytalk, they may learn at what point they should begin to worry. There are also references to designers when coming up with ideas for decorating the baby’s new room.

Magazines like People and Bon Appetit are directed toward the middle age parent. By providing entertainment for the reader, People keeps its audience up to date on all the drama in Hollywood.  People is also a fairly new magazine as it started in 1974 featuring photos of the beautiful Mia Farrow, a major star of the era. A magazine like Bon Appetit is designed to enlighten the reader on cooking habits by providing recipes, how-to’s, photo’s, and responses of those with first-hand experience. These magazines are perfect for a reader who has some extra time on their hands to try some new things. The Bon Appetit website even has a link to its own archive, showing each monthly magazine and its main topic (Thanksgiving in November, Christmas in December, etc.).

Good Housekeeping and Grand are two examples of magazines designed for older individuals. These magazines relate to the life of a grandparent and provide the reader with activities and ideas to try when watching their grandchildren next. These magazines also include family friendly recipe’s and “self-improvement” articles. The information is portrayed in an organized manner, making the magazines easier to follow and seem more professional. There are also images that show real-life examples of the topic at hand.

By targeting certain audiences, magazines are made to relate to any individual. Each magazine is set up a little different, but has the same book like design. In Marshall McLuhan’s, The Medium is the Massage, he argues that the context is what we take away consciously, and the medium is what we take away subconsciously. This is seemingly perfect in terms of a magazine. McLuhan continues to share that the way information is portrayed is just as important, if not more important than the actual content of the information itself. Magazines of each genre portray themselves differently as stated before. Through posters for teens or perfume for women, each magazine does something a little different to relate to its target audience. Having a medium with such strong variety, the magazine industry is still thriving even with the advancements of technology.

Magazines are also used for companionship. In Alone Together, Sherry Turkle states, “We are lonely but fearful of intimacy…We are psychologically programmed not only to nurture what we love but to love what we nurture. So even simple artificial creatures can provoke heartfelt attachment” (1). This can relate to how some people thrive off of the information found in magazines. Readers can become so consumed in the lives of others and the drama portrayed to them that they seemingly find companionship in such an artificial item. Magazines can become a source of information and entertainment for many that essentially eliminates them from reality. They are in their own fairytale world simply by feeling involved in the lives of other people whom they have never met.

In the Archive of Feelings, Ann Cvetkovich states that an “archive of feelings” is, “an exploration of cultural texts as repositories of feelings and emotions, which are encoded not only in the content of the texts themselves, but in the practices that surround their production and reception” (7). If we view magazines as an archive of feelings, we are allowing ourselves to question the meaning behind magazines and also the messages being portrayed. This becomes much more apparent in terms of controversial tabloids. If the reader explores the cultural text and the feelings and emotions encoded, it becomes much more than just the latest drama. In terms of magazines such as Sports Illustrated, the reader may begin to look into much more detail than they would have originally. It begins to twist the interpretation of the reader.

The onset of technology and internet has made many forms of writing suffer. Almost all magazine articles are online now and can be viewed with the just the click of a mouse. This will lose the true affect that magazines have on readers. Readers will not be able to rip out posters or write in their answers to a survey, and they will not be able to lift a tab and smell the designer perfumes and colognes. Although the industry is suffering, magazines will never fully leave the paper-back world. Whether it’s in line at a grocery store or in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, magazines are everywhere waiting to be picked up and enjoyed.

Works Cited

“”American Magazine” & “The General Magazine,” the First Magazines Published in North America: Both Very Short-Lived (January 1741).” : HistoryofInformation.com. Jeremy Norman & Co, n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2015.

Cvetokovich, Ann. Archive of Feelings. N.p., n.d. Print.

“History.” Teen Magazines -. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2015.

McLuhan, Marshall, Quentin Fiore, and Jerome Agel. The Medium Is the Massage. New York: Bantam, 1967. Print.

“Sports Illustrated.” Sports Illustrated. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Mar. 2015.

Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

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Alone, and Educated, Together: Loneliness in College

The college environment is perhaps one of the most technologically and socially dynamic in our modern society. Tens of thousands of students, most within 4 years of age of each other, live together in a kind of quasi-city going to classes together and living together. Usually, these same students are extremely technologically adept as well. Applications like facebook, twitter, instagram, tinder; all are household, common names among the population of college students. In “Alone Together,” the author often referred to various technologies as barriers to social interaction, rather than promoters. In our modern college world, I think that this ia a possibility that need consideration. As the author Peplau details, “loneliness is most common among teenagers and young adults and appears to decrease in older age groups. College students are one of the groups most likely to suffer from loneliness.” (1) In this blog post I’ll discuss why this might be.

The classroom is the staple of an educational environment, and a university is no exception. However, the classroom of a college is often quite different from that of a high school or grade school. Hundreds of students are sometimes packed into the same room, giving the feel more of a seminar than a personal experience. Many classes such as our own still offer a more intimate environment, but even despite this they are sometimes likely to feel impersonal. In large or impersonal groups, the effects of loniness are often exaggerated. When students grow so absorbed in their education that they are unable to socialize, or they simply feel uncomfortable meeting to people, it is expected that they will soon grow lonely. I think that like in the article “Alone Together,” huge numbers of people actually accelerates these effects.

Another issue that I have seen college students face is the idea that romance is a necessity for happiness. In the same Peplau article, she writes, “putting all your energies into any one relationship or assuming that one person can satisfy all your social needs is a risky strategy. Unfortunately, the myth that true love solves all our social problems is widely accepted. Hence, young adults may tend to neglect friendship in search of romance. Rather than developing a close relationship with a best friend or nurturing close ties with companions at work or school, people may focus on “falling in love.” (1) Young people place so much emphasis on “finding the one” or discovering romance that they often times neglect other parts of their lives that actually will give them happiness. I have seen friends find a partner, and then simply fall off the map once they continuously spend all their time with them. In the college environment, balance is key. Though it may often seem that perfect grades, or great friends, or an awesome relationship can all individually lead to happiness in truth it is a combination of factors that cure loneliness.

College is often described as the best time of a young person’s life. However, there are many studies which show that this may not necessarily be the case. As with any time of a person’s life, loneliness is often inevitable. I believe that as is detailed in “Together Alone,” the technologies and situations we encounter are not necessarily what will define our emotions. What will is our interpretations of them.

1. Peplau, L A. “Loneliness and the College Student”. 1987 Advancing Psychology. 475-479.

Netflix is the Massage

As mentioned before, Netflix was able to change the television industry. But how was it able to change it in just about 25 years? From having good marketing strategies to the timing. When Netflix was founded it knew that people enjoyed buying and renting movies. To make it even more convenient, Netflix started a DVD delivery system. As Marshall McLuhan mentions that we focus on the obvious. We know that there are changes, the advantages and disadvantages of a new system but rarely do we know that the new system or invention had changed our lives. Sometimes it is a long change, other times it is a subtle change that we don’t even realize it (Mark Federman)  “Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication” (page 8) bring up a good point on how Netflix works. The content of Netflix is great but the reason why it could become so big wasn’t because of its content but the nature of the media. It is convenient. We don’t have to store physical DVDs or go to a store to get a movie. We can see anything easily anywhere.

Netflix being electric technology could change the way society is now because “electric technology fosters and encourages unification and involvement. It is impossible to understand social and cultural changes without knowledge of the workings of media” Which is true, Netflix was introduced in 1997. There were a lot of technological improvements but we still didn’t understand it well enough. We didn’t that it was slowly changing the DVD industry because we couldn’t understand it well enough.

McLuhan also mentions that a medium is the message; it is an extension of us. It is proven to be true with the analysis of different mediums. In this case, Netflix is an extension of us. We might deny that it isn’t an extension of ourselves but we are the reason why that medium is so big. Even the content of the medium is tailored to our preferences and our likes. By watching certain movies and television shows, Netflix can give you a suggestion of other movies and television shows that you might like to watch. That isn’t the only thing that it is a part of us. It tries to be like us by having a “brain”. It categorizes the contents into different parts very much like our brain. Netflix is also able to tell you the likes of others by getting information from other social media like Facebook.

McLuhan argues that the message is the medium. The content or the use of the innovation is not the message. The message is the “change in inter-personal dynamics that the innovation brings with it” (Mark Federman) In the case of Netflix, it isn’t the content of Netflix or how it was founded but possibly the changes of lifestyle of us as humans and the changes in users in the internet because of Netflix. It is the change of point of view in people because of Netflix. Because of Netflix, people have found ways to learn about less known shows and movies and some have a positive attitude toward the movie industry when knowing it isn’t all “Hollywood”. The point is that the obvious changes aren’t the actual message. The message is hidden, it is not obvious.

For McLuhan, the changes, the innovation was television. It is interesting to see how that had change over time. Television is still around but the way it is watched has changed a lot. But I also believe that McLuhan knew that there would be changes. Just like he said “the medium, our process, of our time- electric technology – is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and reevaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted” Many innovations have change the way our society works from our personal life to our social life. The changes have its advantages and disadvantages but many things that we took for granted in the past and in the present might not be there anymore in the future because of the many changes.

In conclusion, like many different mediums, Netflix was able to change the way our society is. It reshaped and restructured how our personal and social life is. It changed the way different industries that we took for granted, disappear or restructure.

Footnotes:

  1. Mark Federman, “What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message?”. Utoronto.ca. July 23, 2004. http://individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/article_mediumisthemessage.htm
  2. McLuhan, Marshall. “The Medium is the Massage”
  3. Image: http://s3.amazonaws.com/digitaltrends-uploads-prod/2013/12/netflix-movies-expiring-jan-2014.jpg

Audial Memories

Imagine driving on the highway, zoning out from reality as you pass by the lamplights that line the side of the highway. As your mind begins to drift, you may start to tap to the beat that your subconscious hears. You notice your tapping foot when you realize you’re listening to a familiar song that you haven’t heard in years. Maybe you feel excited because it was your favorite song; maybe you reminisce on the times you were with your friends when listening to this song on repeat. This song brought up feelings; whether they are good, bad, sadness, excitement, or nostalgic. You felt something. Was it the song that made you feel this way? Maybe. Perhaps, it was your mind triggering a vague familiarity that gave you some flashback on a memory that is special to you. Throughout this blog, I will explore the ideas of music and how it reflects our feelings.

Music has a way of portraying the way we feel. When we want to get hyped for an exam, feeling like we can conquer the world, we might put on upbeat music. When we feel sad, or maybe calm, we might put on acoustical music. These genres have different effects for different people, but whichever genre you listen to, it sparks something intangible. I know that I listen to specific artists when I want to feel a certain way, and different albums represent different timeslots of my life. For example, when I listen to the artist, Emarosa, I instantly recall all the campfires that my friends and I had in high school, specifically my junior year. One could argue that the medium of music itself is a portal into a different reality; a different thought process; a previous time; a way to think on the good times, and perhaps the bad.

Today, it’s hard to imagine a life without music, and it truly has impacted our lives in a dramatic way. Music has adopted its way into our culture and maybe it’s to help us think on those past memories, so that we don’t forget them. Music is the stimuli for the brain to throw back those thoughts to an exact moment in which we lived. Ann Cvetkovich says, “Cultural artifacts become the archive of something more ephemeral: culture as a ‘way of life’” (9).[1] This “artifact” she speaks of could mean music; and, music is not just a way to think, it’s a way to live.

Cvetkovich illustrates this idea of “trauma,” and the choices and the memories throughout our lives can result from one trauma or another. In this case, music can represent trauma, or be used as an escape from trauma. For example, some people grow up in a rough household and their only escape from the tough times is to zone out through the access of music. Another example is the music itself is an outlet for trauma, meaning sometimes people listen to angry-sounding music to illustrate how they feel; thus, trauma is shown through music. If you think of artists, some artists write about the trauma of their past, which can relate to listeners in the same type of situation. Thus, a community is built around trauma with people who experience the music the same way that you do.

Music is a way to escape from reality by enjoying the melody, but also to create an archive of our feelings that we can access through this outlet of sound. For example, whatever favorite artist you enjoy listening to now, will most likely not be your favorite artist two or three years from now, and if you were to hear the melody of your favorite song from this artist in four years, you will most likely think back to this current year. Scholar Jérôme Daltrozzo said, “The feeling of familiarity evoked by a melody may reactivate emotional or associative concepts carried either by the melody itself or by the memory representations of this melody.”[2] Here, he means that a melody is more than just a sequence of different notes; it has a way of carrying itself into a state of the familiar, a state of memory, a state of meaning. I believe that music is more than just music notes and lyrical sounds: It’s a way to access a library of thoughts, a way to live in the moment and in the past, a way to capture who we are through sounds of enlightenment.

[1] Cvetkovich, Ann. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2003. Print.

[2] Daltrozzo, Jérôme, et al. “Temporal Aspects Of The Feeling Of Familiarity For Music And The Emergence Of Conceptual Processing.” Journal Of Cognitive Neuroscience 22.8 (2010): 1754-1769. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 Feb. 2015.

Facebook as an Archive

Ann Cvektovich’s An Archive of Feelings was very interesting to me, in a variety of ways. Going off the title, the book is about the story of women and their accounts of trauma, as an archive. The book is very powerful and resonates with many audiences, not just women that faced the same struggles and conflicts seen in the book. While looking at this “archive of feelings”, I decided to look at an archive of modern technology, with social media.

It seems that a large variety of technologies may be considered an archive in this day and age. Many technologies, in their nature, record activity over short and long periods of time, which can be considered an archive at a basic level. In definition, an archive could be described as a history of information. Think about all the things or technologies that may fit this definition. Think about the things you use everyday. Look at simple things such as your computer. This is an accumulation of many of the works you have done throughout your’s and it’s life. Going off of this, a phone works in the same way. Your phone has messages, pictures and conversations that have been created over its history, and a portion of your life. An archive I’m interested in speaking about is social media, and Facebook in specific.

It seems that everybody has a Facebook these days. In fact, a recent count shows that there are over 1.23 million active monthly Facebook users. 1 This number is mind-blowing, especially when you think about the fact that many people don’t have access to computers. People are spending huge chunks of their lives on Facebook. In this way, it’s not hard to see why Facebook is an archive.

I want you to think about the ways in which it would be Facebook is an archive. Think about the day that you first got a Facebook, and how much of your life you can review. You can hop on Facebook and you have access to years of pictures, and conversations. It’s crazy to think about this stuff. Look back and see how much you’ve changed. Some people put photos from their everyday lives on Facebook to look back at it later in life. Years of people’s lives are captured on Facebook, and they will continue to be captured until Facebook completely falls apart. In many ways, this is a great thing but it can also be sad to think about. Some people may get on Facebook and look back at pictures just be reminded of tragedies that occurred earlier in life. Others may have had Facebook for half of their life, and be able to look at pictures from when they were a child and recall how fast they grew up.

Sometimes it is crazy to look at technology in different ways and many people choose to see it only at a basic level. However, the ways in which we view technology are only going to grow as the technological age advances.

1.) http://thenextweb.com/facebook/2014/01/29/facebook-passes-1-23-billion-monthly-active-users-945-million-mobile-users-757-million-daily-users/