Philip K. Dick’s World of Advertising: Branded Dreams

 

Philip K. Dick’s visions of an intrusive manipulated reality is portrayed in this short piece by Studio Smack . Dick explored the concept of consensual reality and the potential conflict between “two levels of reality” – one “objectively” determined, the other a world of appearances imposed upon characters by various means and processes.

 

“Reality is that which , when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

“It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.”

“Don’t try to solve serious matters in the middle of the (long) night.”

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep ?

“This is on a level, and it goes to show you

that you should never take your dreams too seriously.

Or else it shows that the unconscious

or the universe

or God

or whatever can put you on. ”

Studio Smack are Ton Meijdam, Thom Snels and Béla Zsigmond. All three of them studied at the AKV|St.Joost in Breda (Art Academy), The Netherlands. Their animated films gained awards at international film festivals. Studio Smack produces work that in the first analysis has an autonomous value, but often also responds to developments in society, the so-called Design for Debate.  Some of their happy clients are Dutch TV Networks VARA, VPRO and MTV NL, Greenpeace, MOTI, Next Nature, GOD, Graphic Design Festival Breda, Festival Mundial,..and many many more.

 

Here are the creators’ comments on this short media piece. 

“The real question is not: How many ads do we see? The real question is: What do we have to do to see no ads? And the answer is: go to sleep” (James B. Twitchell)

We see ads everyday and everywhere. They have become part of our life. While some people try to avoid seeing ads, advertisers keep finding new ways to reach us. However they are unable to reach us when we sleep. Our dreams are the last safe and add-free place so it seems.

But what happens when advertisers have the possibility to enter our dreams? Based on recent developments in brain science and technology this might be possible in the near future.

This animated short is an impression of a dream infected by a brand we all know…….

 

The question I pose is, … should we view this short a social commentary warning on Mass Media intruding into private consciousness, as Dick speculated on ? Or is it a deconstructed advertisement, masquerading as social commentary – a metaphor for subliminal imagery that is being planted in you dreamscape for later reference ?

 

 
 

 

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Bryan Hitch on Batman

Comicbook characters such as Batman are part of contemporary iconography – a modern mythology on which we project  values, beliefs & ideologies in the forms of hopes & fears. Batman, being one of the earliest comic superheroes ( 75 years ), has his roots in the Pulp Magazine  & Pulp Hero tradition.

He blends the qualities of characters such as The Shadow & The Spider with the master savant detective first crystallized in the character of Sherlock Holmes. Batman’s comicbook universe setting  ranges from  Hard Boiled Noir to Gothic Fantasy, with  stop overs in the cosmic metaphysical realms associated with speculative fiction. This  makes the character both flexible and challenging, whether being portrayed in print or other media, such as movies and television. Bryan Hitch‘s observations, as writer & illustrator of the current JLA comic, provide some insight into this creative balancing act.

— I wasn’t sure about Batman. When I had that abortive attempt to do “Justice League” 15 odd years ago with [Mark] Waid, I couldn’t figure out, visually, how to handle Batman. And I kind of translated that mentally into, “I probably wouldn’t be able to write him, either.” The odd thing, when I started writing the story out, was just how much Batman took care of his own business for you. You just find a situation, drop Batman in it, and he writes his own dialogue. It’s hilarious.

JLA - Bryan Hitch

Batman, at the same time, he’s the guy that has the detective skills, and the analytical skills, to be able to look at all this stuff, and start putting the picture together with the jigsaw pieces, and make that leap that some of the other characters may not be able to — because they’re looking very closely at the individual points, where Batman’s experience is a little wider, I think. I was worried about Batman, but I’m actually having such a nice time writing him in the context of these stories. And he’s such a useful character, because he’s the guy that figures everything out.

Batman - Bryan Hitch &  Paul Neary

I actually find him hilarious to write. He’s got that kind of grim visual, certainly, but I find that he’s the guy with the sarcastic one-liner — not necessarily because he’s trying to be funny, but you have a funny situation, and he nails the line at the end of the scene. And it’s funny because of that, not because he’s trying to be funny. I find that in that group environment, there’s a lot of humor to be had. I’ve been writing him a scene between him and Aquaman, and they’re actually talking about magic crystals, and just these two characters talking about magic crystals, they realize that they’re having an absurd conversation. FULL INTERVIEW at CBR: Bryan Hitch Stays Put at DC with “Justice League of America”

 

 

 

 

 

Media Literacy: Personal Cultural Space & The Vampire Maman

 

Today I discovered Vampire Maman, a fascinating blog about   The Musings of Modern Vampire Mom by the author Juliette Kings.

Kings’s blog is full of quirky humour and insight. One post that got me thinking in tangential directions was Thank you for pissing off my teenage daughter . It was an open letter to her 14 year old daughter’s  English teacher. As a retired  teacher (English/Spe.Ed/Media Literacy), I found it delightfully refreshing in how it both expressed parental concerns and showed a depth of understanding of a teacher’s difficult role in a child/teen’s life. The ironic humour was very effective and the observations were insightful.

Of course it brought up a number of ideas that I would like to address. The first thing that jumped out at me was how her daughter was not allowed into the Honours English and that as a consequence she was in a mix of students whose life/academic goals & classroom behaviour/attitude were disappointing.

spssatan

Here in Ontario ( Canada), the educational goal/challenge levels currently Academic (University & College), Applied ( College & Workplace), Open, Essential ( Locally Developed) and Life Skills. While a student and their parents are given guidance and suggested educational pathways to choose from, they are free to select their own pathway. This means if you want to take an Academic rather than Applied or the reverse there is nothing preventing you.

 

bookworm

Applied students are motivated to succeed and have a wide range of life & educational goals, as they come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. As a consequence, it is more difficult to create a programme that satisfies and engages them all equally. There also tends to be more students within the demographic requiring Special education support, creating even more diversity in learning styles and motivation.

 

lemur_trap

I am not sure of what kinds of choices in educational programme were offered in this situation (American), but from the description of  frustrations expressed, I think Vampire Daughter is more Academic oriented than many of her classroom peers. This is challenging both for her and her mother. It will also mean her teacher has a challenge as well in engaging the girl and any other students who are in similar circumstances .

black_white_tv_salesman

One of the concerns in Juliette Kings’s post  was about how her daughter’s reading interest and attire could have been misconstrued by the teacher.

 ……She reads books about drugs, suicide, cancer and mental illness. These books are dark. These books don’t have happy endings. Nobody celebrates at the end.

Her reading list includes: Go Ask Alice, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Thirteen Reasons Why, The Fault in Our Stars.  ……………. No doubt you noticed that my kid wears a lot of black and too much black eye liner as well.

Source: The Doll in The Wall – Click Image to read

Fortunately, this Maman  could see both her child’s unease and positive aspect of the teacher’s concern. She responded with a post that acknowledged both the child and the educator as partners with valid issues.  She accomplished this with humour and a balanced understanding of her child’s needs and the professional needs/duties of the child’s teacher. Very well done.

This brings me to where education, Media Literacy and Personal Cultural Regions meet – sometimes in an uneasy conversation. We all have our own Personal Cultural Space that we live in. It comes with its own idiolect that we use when expressing our Self to those around us. It includes not just our language(s), vocabulary, gender, age, race, ethnicity and personal interests, values &beliefs, but also our body language including dress, the accoutrements of our daily life ( key chains, wallets, cellphones, tablets, actual printed text, recorded music, vehicles, pets). 

analyzing_computer_tv_head_md_wht

 

As you can see, this Personal Cultural Space is heavily saturated with Mass Media ( both content and devices). We need to keep in mind the Principles of Mass Media when we encounter and interact with others and their Cultural Space. All Mass Media convey intended and unintended messages.  Mass Media always has context, but that context may be altered.  A team logo or religious symbol has specific meaning for different individuals.  In effect, each individual creates/carries context with them, as a part of their own Cultural Space.  The transmission of messages has to cross Cultural Spaces that can disrupt context.

 

 

Click link for Shakespeare’s Sonnets III & XXIX

When the English teacher became concern with her student’s choice of reading material and style of dress, the teacher’s Cultural Space was influencing how she parsed the message that her student was expressing through within the student’s own cultural Space.   This is part of the daily interaction that  educators, students and parents must negotiate.

Click Image to see source – They Say Chivalry is Dead

We can take this a step further, and consider wider generational and social communities. We then see that many conflicts within North American society  ( Canada & America) can be seen as form of Mass Media interactions. The use of Media Literacy as a means of interpreting the messages of Personal Cultural Space will go towards breaking down misunderstandings & averting potential conflict.