Role of the Professional (Q.4).

The popular use of new screen media has changed the role of the professional opening a direct line of contact for politicians, activists, celebrities and even companies like movie studios to convey their message be it, promotion, protest or art.

For the 2016 American presidential election social media was a valuable asset utilised by all presidential candidates during the race. President Donald Trump is infamous for his twitter activity posting at least one tweet a day. He now holds two twitter accounts after he created a new profile in January when he took office as president. From viewing both of his profiles it is evident he is well versed in the language of new popular screen media categorising his posts with hashtags and hyperlinks. Many of his most recent posts are centred around the dismantlement of Obama’s health care system in favour of a new system.


It’s not just professional individuals using social media to engage the public with popular media/culture to promote themselves, multinational corporations are using the same screen culture to promote their content/products an example of this is universal pictures Ireland who use their Facebook page which has under 200,000 likes. Universal use their Irish page to share trending topics  often heavily linked to one of their properties which are relevant to Irish people so as to attract consumers. Universal shares trailers of its upcoming movies coming to Irish cinemas on its Facebook page changing the way in which we consume movie trailers as just over ten years ago the only place to see trailers was either on home video or in theatres.


Activist groups often use references to popular culture as a means to spread their message. Peta (People for the Ethical treatment of Animals) for instance linked a video of the liberation of a lab monkey to the 2017 film Okja a story of a little girl who ventures to save her friend the giant pig Okja from slaughter which was critically acclaimed and seen worldwide by millions. This was a very efficient technique of propagating their animal rights agenda to the public.





Progressive/Regressive Media (Q.1.)


Today it may be far too early to concretely determine if social media is progressive or dangerous. Social media is everywhere in todays world and is used by millions of people worldwide whether their sharing photos sending messages or just wishing someone happy birthday. Social media has its dark side such as stalking or cyber bullying but because in my opinion it fuelled revolutions in the middle east during the Arab Spring in 2011 I accept that social media has aided in changing the world for the better.

The Arab Spring began in late 2010 when dissatisfied youth Mohamed Bouazizi burned himself alive in protest against Tunisia’s authoritative government for the countries high youth unemployment and weak economy. Bouazizi’s extreme demonstration was the catalyst for widespread revolt against Tunisia’s government which soon spread to the countries neighbours Morocco, and Libya in particular where protest escalated to war and eventually the toppling of its dictator Gadaffi. The wave of social and political unrest spread from North Africa to the Gulf states and the Middle East to countries like Syria and Yemen who are both still being ravaged by civil war as a result of the Arab Spring uprising 5 years ago.

arab spring map

Through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, activists were able to communicate enabling them to recruit and to assemble themselves for mass protests. The hash tag #sidibouzid became the viral rallying banner of revolt in Tunisia on twitter which later began to trend across the globe. Social media carried the message of revolution across the Arab world and although media blackouts were incurred in Egypt it did not stop the momentum of the revolution which overthrew the authoritarian government of Hosni Mubarak.


The Arab Spring was an event which inspired the people of the planet that they can strive to change how they live in society by connecting and co-operating with others online where in the real world this maybe impossible in countries where human rights are infringed. The Arab Spring evolved how we use social media and since then politicians use it to directly address the public or activists use it to spread their message like in the yes campaign during the marriage equality referendum.



Role of the Amateur (Q.5.)


Democratisation of new media has given consumers a whole new view on our modern society and the terms amateur and professional has become far more hazy since the beginning of the decade. Youtube was originally a video sharing website designed to let the general public share home made content which was majorly zero budget low quality content for example early viral videos such as star wars kid (2002), numa numa guy (2004), and leave brittany alone (2007) were all made with low quality cameras with very little to no editing. Today youtube has users ranging from top selling music artists and multinational corporations e.g. Fox and Disney to smaller producers such as film critics and to users who just unbox merchandise who today have access to affordable yet high spec equipment and software that enables them to garner millions of views. This has greatly expanded the role of an amateur  to distribute their content. An example of one of these semi-professional-semi-amateur producers is the Youtube channel comicbookgirl19. This independent channel was created in 2012 by two lovers of art and entertainment who create content around topics such as comics, animation, tv, movies, special effects and offer rare insights behind the politics of making art/entertainment in an increasingly algorithmic corporate industry. Since the channels conception they have garnered almost half a million subscribers which isn’t huge in comparison to other non-independent youtube channels such as IGN which boasts over 8 million subscribers. Although the channel is small it is capable of producing high quality content through crowd funds like patreon.

In 2016 comicbookgirl19 (cbg19) gave her and her channels opinion on the ghostbusters remake, a controversy which begun when sony pictures released the trailer featuring an all female cast was panned making it the most disliked movie trailer ever. Across mainstream media it was being circled that the reason it was received so poorly was because the new ghostbusters were all women. James Rolfe another film critic from the youtube channel cinemamassacre who gave the trailer a negative review was quickly labeled a sexist and a misogynist by several media outlets. Cbg19 comments that she was not attacked online for her similar opinions because she was a women, she iterates the reason the movie sparked a gender representation controversy was because sony focused on misogynist ‘trollesque’ comments to market the movie to the widely feminist general public as a way to cover up the fact they made a mediocre movie, in her words “this movie is blasé as f*ck and should never have been made”.


The honest yet raw review and opinion surrounding the ghostbusters film and its marketing by channel cbg19 was a rare opinion not found on many mainstream media outlets whose main function is to garner as much views/reads possible. The consequences of media democratisation has allowed smaller semi-amateur producers to offer their own uncensored critique on popular media which poses new challenges to our current media environment as these new smaller media outlets now have the means to better challenge mainstream media through their own independent content that can now be made and distributed to the same high quality specifications as large companies.


Power of Bloody Images (Q.2.Citizen Journalism)

No one video can sum up the horror of the brutal civil war in Syria though the footage of a pre-school boy, Omran Daqneesh being pulled from the rubble in Aleppo in August last year went viral on social media causing massive outcry world wide calling for an end to the conflict . This video became a rare icon in the sea of never ending video trends on facebook and has been compared to the chilling photo of Alan Kurdi a little boy who drowned while en route to Europe. Much like Kurdi’s  infamous posthumous photo Daqneesh became a literal poster child for intervention in the crisis. This video along with countless more that followed paved the way for the Aleppo ceasefire and evacuation.

As the city of Aleppo in 2016 was ravaged by conflict it was up to its citizens of the city to get news out as many journalists had previously fled the besieged city. These testimonials from the cities residents enduring through the bombardment were invaluable to news agencies like ITV who interviewed a teacher on his experiences trying to reassure his students during the air strikes. These citizen testimonials from the people on the ground in Syria brought the conflict into peoples consciousness as news has become so participatory thanks to social media especially youtube where Aleppo resident Lina Shamy regularly uploaded videos to her channel during this time. Citizen journalists proved themselves invaluable during the ceasefire exposing to the world that Syria and it allies held disregard for the internationally sanctioned peace agreement when they began to restart bombing the city a day after the ceasefire was agreed upon.

Were it not for the citizens of Aleppo I hold that the conflict may have gone by without the widespread recognition and outcry of the international public whose activism prompted international countries to convince Syrian forces into a ceasefire saving numerous civilian lives.