Google Goes Gaga

Earlier this week, Lady Gaga dropped by Google for an exclusive interview with Marissa Mayer, the vice-president of consumer products at Google. The interview mainly centered around Gaga’s outlook on her fame and her life, with the conversation occasionally straying into the topic of the convergence of technology with pop culture.

It is common knowledge that the Internet has propelled so many aspiring musicians to a successful career. There’s Google, Youtube, Myspace and the list goes on and on. All these different types of media forms have helped everyday people garner fame through their videos on Youtube, or songs posted on Myspace. Think Justin Bieber, and of course, Lady Gaga. Even Rebecca Black, who, yes has become completely famous overnight though for all the wrong reasons, got to that stage with the help of Twitter and Youtube. The fast development and wide adoption of new communication technologies has led to media globalisation, so basically anyone, anywhere has easy access to everything that is going on in the world. You could be living in the most remote location in, let’s say, Africa but if you’ve got a computer and access to the Internet, even you would be suffering from Bieber fever, or dancing to Gaga’s Born This Way, or unfortunately have Friday by Black stuck in your head.

In the Google interview, one of the things that Lady Gaga talked about was how with the advanced technology we have now, it is so easy for people to have a taste of fame just by, for example, posting videos on Youtube. For instance, Maria Aragon, a ten-year-old Filipino-Canadian singer instantly shot to international fame when a Youtube video of her covering Gaga’s Born This Way was discovered by the international popstar herself and Gaga retweeted a link to the video to her eight million followers. This caused the video to reach over 10 million views in five days, and this has now increased to over 25 million views. This is a perfect example of how powerful the Internet is, with the creation of websites like Youtube and Twitter.

There was also a question by a fan that was posted to Gaga regarding the ability to garner fame through Youtube and the effects that come with it, and she asked, “I’m curious about your reaction to YouTube as a form for new artists and for some of the criticism that maybe young people get for going online and on the other side, there is the Justin Biebers that are getting famous through YouTube, so what do you think about the future of fame through YouTube?”

To this, Gaga replied, “I think it’s fantastic. I think Rebecca Black is a genius and anyone who is telling her that she’s cheesy is full of shit.”

The Pokerface singer has not watched the video by Black, however. She was only referring to Black’s ability to generate 50 million views and become an Internet sensation. The story of the “amazing” singer that is Rebecca Black also goes back to my point of the Internet as a powerful form of new media. It is beneficial in so many ways but it also causes a lot of negative effects, as proven by Black. But if you choose to use the World Wide Web in hopes of becoming the next Internet sensation, you’ll know there will be consequences to bear, be it good or bad.

For your entertainment, here’s a video (don’t worry it’s not Friday) by Maria Aragon with her cover of Born This Way by Lady Gaga.

Sources:
Undercover News
Youtube – Google Goes Gaga

Overdose of Sheen

Two and a Half Men star, Charlie Sheen, has been making countless headlines in the news with his crazy antics, from his stints in and out of rehab to his radio rants on the Alex Jones Radio Show that resulted in his termination from Two and a Half Men after he made an anti-Semitic comment on the show’s creator. The media has been lapping up all these juicy news, continuously updating the public on the latest Charlie Sheen happenings.

It is evident that the agenda setting theory is taking place here. This theory refers to “the media’s ability, through repeated news coverage, to raise the importance of an issue in the public’s mind”. People who set the media agenda, also called gatekeepers, select the issues they feel are most worthy of coverage and give those issues wide attention. Usually, the agenda setting theory is used in the context of the news industry but it can also be applied to entertainment news such as in the case of the numerous Charlie Sheen news.

Obviously, the gatekeepers of the radio programs, television talk and tabloid shows, Web sites, magazines and newspapers that have been covering all the Sheen-related gossip think that this is what the public should, and want to know. This is kind of true. People take pleasure in feeding on another person’s problems, especially when that person is a celebrity. An article in the Huffington Post, written by Ed Martin (television critic for JackMyers.com, MediaBizBloggers, and TV Worth Watching) talks about this very issue. In it, Martin highlighted an interview that Piers Morgan had with comedian Howie Mandel on the former’s CNN talk show regarding the Sheen saga.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

When Morgan asked Mandel what he thought about “our warped news values,” in which Sheen is so dominant in news cycles, Mandel replied, “It’s a sad statement on humanity … that we all love a train wreck. I’m a parent, and I look at him and I think this must be torturous for his father and his family and the people who love and care about him and this is horrible for the children.

“You’re in television, you’re in the business,” Mandel said to Morgan. “We have to talk about it and show clips. [The fact that] we’re mesmerized by it is kind of a statement of who we are.”

A probable reason for all the coverage on Charlie Sheen’s antics is that the editor of a newspaper or television news broadcast have seen similar stories achieve high ratings. It’s an ugly truth. The public (including me, embarrassingly) love to read about a celebrity’s problems. (Lindsay Lohan, anyone?) It’s comforting to know that amid all the fame and fortune these celebrities have surrounding them, they are not immuned to the obstacles life throws at them. Believe it or not, the number of news surrounding Sheen has been so large that it has even led to the birth of a new verb. Apparently, the terms “sheened” and “sheening” refer to the act of partying.

So, if you guys have been following all the Charlie Sheen news, what are your opinions about it? Should the media continuously feed the public with all the Sheen-related issues?

Sources:
The Huffington Post

John Galliano’s Anti-Semitic Rant

All you fashionistas out there would have known that earlier this week, British fashion designer, John Galliano, was fired as the head designer of Dior because of his anti-Semitic rant that was caught on video and released on the Internet. The video showed Galliano hurling insults to a group of Italian women at a Paris cafe, and saying “I love Hitler”. The designer formally denied the accusations that were made against him but after this video, this might seem a little bit hard, no? The designer has since apologised for his behaviour, stating that “Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society”, and is now facing trial in Paris on charges of “public insults based on the origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity” against three people. If found guilty, Galliano could face “up to six months in prison and $31,000 in fines”.

This incident follows the star of Two and A Half Men, Charlie Sheen’s comments on the show’s creator, Chuck Lorre. Sheen verbally attacked Lorre, and referred to Lorre repeatedly as “Chaim Levine”, which is the Hebrew version of Lorre’s real name, Charles Michael Levine. The executives at CBS and Warner Bros considered this as anti-Semitic.

These two incidents show that prejudices still exist in this day and age, in this case, anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is a “prejudice against or hostility towards Jews often rooted in hatred of their ethnic background, culture, and/or religion.” Prejudice refers to “a negative social attitude held by members of one group toward members of another group”. It is one example of an attitudinal barrier to intercultural communication.

Now, all of you might be disgusted by the comments that Galliano and Sheen made but let’s face it, all of us are prejudiced in one way or another. For example, in Singapore, some people might be prejudiced against ah lians and ah bengs, mats and minahs. If people see them hanging out at void decks, people automatically assume that they are up to no good, even if that’s all they’re doing, hanging out. Others interpret their actions negatively and cognitive biases such as this allow us to maintain our prejudices even though our assumptions are unwarranted.

Another cognitive bias used to maintain prejudices is fundamental attribution bias, whereby people interpret “another’s negative behaviour as internal rather than external”. Going back to the Galliano incident, other fashion bigwigs have given their own opinions regarding the incident. Diane Von Furstenberg, who said that she was disgusted by the British designer’s offensive remarks, also said that Galliano was probably provoked, causing him to lash out at the people in the cafe. Hilary Alexander, the Fashion Director of The Daily Telegraph attributed Galliano’s behaviour to the stress and pressures of the fashion industry.

Galliano himself said that he was “subjected to verbal harassment and an unprovoked assault when an individual tried to hit me with a chair having taken violent exception to my look and my clothing” at a Paris cafe last week.

Think about this though. If someone who was not in the fashion industry hurled anti-Semitic comments, or any kind of offensive comments for that matter, against other people, would these people who defended Galliano have said the same thing?

Both John Galliano’s and Charlie Sheen’s anti-Semitic comments show that prejudice is still prevalent today. Although it is impossible to eradicate all prejudices completely, people should make an effort to understand others who are from a different culture and see things from their perspectives.

Sources:

Toronto Sun
The Hollywood Reporter
Telegraph
John Galliano (Wikipedia)