The amateur can now create and distribute content easier than ever before thanks to the decreasing price of equipment and software and technology in general. When thinking about this topic, a statement from grime legend Crazy Titch comes to mind. In 2016, he agreed to take part in a recorded phone conversation from prison with Michael “Stormzy” Omari which was eventually included in the latter’s highly successfully debut album. The conversation is attached here.
In the conversation he says he is a fan of Stormzy’s work but has noticed the massive change in media distribution since he was incarcerated in 2005 for murder. He tells Stormzy that as a musician that we are now able to cut out the middle man, so to speak. That great music can be made without the studios interference. The amateur is truly in charge. In summary, a musician who started in the genre in the early 00s remembers the struggles associated with depending on a distributor or studio when trying to get your work out there. The fact that grime music was more of a niche market and that the internet hasn’t fully found its stride yet really effected the commercial success that grime founders such as Crazy Titch, Wiley or Dizzee Rascal could have been capable of achieving. Now things are different.
Many successful artists are now well able to record and produce music by themselves with no help. Chance the Rapper regularly releases his own work for free and is not signed to any label. Stormzy has come from the disadvantaged London boroughs to now running his own label. He has stated “we used to just be hanging out in the estate and I was the best at rapping over the beats on my friends phone”. As of April 2017, his freestyle in the local park now has fifty four million views. The amateur raw feel of the video and lack of big-budget sound and visuals is also another factor that often aids the amateur. We as consumers have become tired of the ultra-polished music videos that are in an abundance on the web. Less is often more.
Personally, an amateur who did not receive former technical or ethical training but is still able to produce great content from just talent and hard work alone is all the more satisfying.
In this case study I will focus on what i believe to be the most dominant form of screen media today; memes. I am of the opinion that professional figures and organisations are able to engage the public in the most effective way through the use of memes. However, this is where they are also setting themselves up the most. Time after time. Memes have become a vastly powerful medium that has become increasingly popular each year. That being said, Jenkins statement that “with great power comes great responsibility” rings very true.
Due to the ever-changing relevance of memes and how quick they spread, a big corporation or famous political figure can use a meme intending to relate to the young generation, only to meet with disastrous results. It seems the more someone has their ear to the ground the better they are at creating, contributing and discussing the countless formats and variations of memes. Big corporations cannot keep up.
Politicians, celebrities and big companies in the higher rarified atmosphere are unaware of how powerful this form of screen media is and how simple but important the rules are. The young generation on social media have a seriously short attention span, therefore a meme has an extremely low lifespan. There have been numerous instances where a company has tried to cleverly use a meme to promote their products but were instead met with harsh backlash by a young generation who had already moved onto the newest format. It is always totally obvious when the person behind the advertisement has not had their ear to the ground and is not with the times. One particular example that comes to mind is @ToshibaUSA unsuccessfully promoting their earphones with their “normie” humour by tweeting “#TwerkAsYouWork”.
There is a real disparity between using a meme to be “down with the kids” or just trying to be funny.
Understanding the context of a meme and the responsibility that comes with this great meme power is gigantically undervalued. Sites such as KnowYourMeme.com would be a great start for anyone in helping them engage the public in a way that does not make them seem out of touch. On a site like this, all origins and connotations associated with every popular meme is explained in depth. I am of the utmost opinion that knowledge is power to the professional and that he/she should also do their research on any potential meme they may use before attempting to engage the public with it.
“When a company tries to use a meme to reach out to the young generation”
The example of citizen journalism I have chosen is “Cleveland Bus Driver Uppercuts Lady” which became a viral sensation in 2012. It is significant in the fact that the video recording was used as evidence in the eventual prosecution of the former RTA bus driver, Artis Hughes.
The video sees the passenger, Shi’dea Lane refuse to pay her fare and spit on Hughes. Hughes, in return, informs both the disruptive Lane and onlooking passengers that he is “old school” and that “yur going to jaaiill nowwwww” before dealing her a savage uppercut of Cesaro proportions. The video went viral in unprecedented proportions and it was not long before the case was receiving national and international attention.
It is striking that none of the passengers try to defuse the situation but instead howl in the background like a pack of rabid dogs. However, one bright spark was clever enough to record it all so there could be no denying the truth about the actual events that unfolded.
Pay your fares you guy. Except on the 226. They don’t deserve it.
John Canigli. “www.cleveland.com”. Web.
“Cleveland Bus Driver Uppercuts aggressive Girl”. YouTube. TheWogsChannel. Web.
In 2017, I firmly believe that social media is dangerous only to the weak. When one has no fear, there is only a constant reward of progression when using social media.
Forget anonymous posts and threads. Putting your name firmly on something you said or produced is where the reward lies. Anonymous posting is also for the weak. One should be proud of his/her opinions. Social media allows the lonely forty year old man living in his mother’s basement to become a virtual warlord in the maelstrom of daily feudal online society. There has never been a way in which the strong, silent type can so easily rise to power. Where once before the strong, silent type would have to simply take the beating from his/her enemy, they can now directly challenge the oppressors. To put it simply; social media is a weapon.
The most significant example is “The Great Meme War” of 2016. Where a cartoon frog was resurrected from the depths of Facebook and used to elect a “had-been” celebrity as the leader of the most powerful country in the world. What funding did this campaign have? Nothing. Just a basic version of Microsoft Paint with a cropping tool and a dead format of networking. Every dying website used for socialising was set ablaze with this cartoon frog. This frog may not have gotten the result that every single person wanted but it signifies how progressive it is. The only danger lies with those who did not fight their part, on both sides. Those who remained silent and voiceless. If you do not also use the social media weapon whilst your enemies do, then yes, you are in great danger. Social media enables you to always be proud of what you say. And you should always be proud of what you say.
Whether it is progressive depends on whether or not you play the game. I play the game.
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