Media Criticism—- With a peek to “Mad Men”

Hello everyone.

I am Yuanyuan Wang and you also can call me Lexi. It was easily to pronounce. I transferred from China one year and a half ago. It took me 19 hours to fly from my city to Baltimore. You may ask, “Why? Why bother to go this far?  And why it has to be America? ” The answer is quite simple.

I fall in love with this country because of “Friends”.fr

I watched this Television show since the first year I went to middle school. I was addicted to this show immediately. All the symbols and signs of American culture in “Friends” opened a whole new world to me, a world very different from where I was born and grew up. However, because of some special politic issue and government policy, this show never released on Chinese Television. I watched the whole ten seasons on the Internet and it accompanied me even when I was preparing for my College Entrance Examination. One day, I would talk about this show in detail to prove how legendary it was and could not easily be replaced by some “father looking for mother” stories (No offense, also a good show).

There is no doubt that everyone in our generation had the experiences of reading newspaper, listening to radio, watching television and films. No matter if you are in America or in China, media is a popular culture and influenced people imperceptibly. Before you notice, your world is shaped by media.

Let’s use  tel2evision as an example, there are numerous television shows released everyday all over the world. There are plenty of symbols about value, fashion, social identity, economy, and politics expressing in each TV show. We, as the audience, are guided, informed, and educated while we thought we were just relaxing and having fun. Imagine you are watching the commercial of Heineken on TV; you think you should try it one day, maybe now. Come on, the gorgeous guy just got a bottle of Heineken from James Bond. All the cool dudes drink Heineken.

Media, as well as television, has its own power.

Media literacy is a legitimate skill need to be developed and that is the reason I decide to take the media criticism class. Before we jump to media literacy skill, let’s talk about what is media criticism. Dr. Sandy Nichols taught us on the second class that media criticism is a systematic process used to understand media texts as meaningful sociocultural symbolic forms and forces. At that moment, I had no idea what this sentence meant (the Chinese translation of it is “用来理解媒介文本有意的社会文化符号形式和部统进” which has no sense at all).

                 Now, as far as I am concerned, media criticism is that you read media with more deep, critical thinking. Having media literacy skill means you are no longer a “couch potato” watching television for entertaining and gaining weight, you are on the way to revealing the meaning and myths behind these media text and exploring how media shaped and influenced on human beings. You would know how to select a media text, describe the message on the texts, analyze the patterns, interpret the meanings, evaluate the impacts and write a professional essay of what you find. All of these are what I want to learn after this semester.

It was an old joke tha2t one of my American friends used to suggest me to watch “Jerry Springer” show as a way to know American people. It really freaked me out at the very beginning. I tried stay as much as possible at my apartment and avoid interacting with the “crazy Americans” such as the people from the show. I changed my opinion once I was getting to some friendly, nice, wise America
n people. My views of American culture shaped by the messages I got from television.

Now, “Mad Man” is one of my favorite American TV shows. This show is a self-portrait of the United States when she was about one hundred and eighty years old. The symbols and signs we see in that small Sterling Cooper company are the epitome of those occurring throughout the whole country in 1960s.


 The handsome 4Don Draper wears three-button suit, puts hair gel, always keeps a cigarette or a glass of wine in his hand. The ways he talks, walks, sits, and even communicates with different women are full of signs.

The ideologies and representations of class, gender, and race also appear in this show. In this show, people still call African- Americans “Negros” and their jobs are usually maid, janitor, or lift-man. Women are usually regarded as a toy or a possession of men. The female characters such as Betty, the attractive housewife; Peggy, the ambitious copywriter; and Joan, the sexy office manager are extremely vivid and worth to discuss.

Another fact about this show is it also influences today’s society by affecting the standard of fashion and beauty and calling the memory of history.

 In the future blogs, I would like to use what I learn from the media criticism class to discuss more about great television shows with my special perspective as a Chinese, weird, nerdy, good at mathematic individual. Stick around!                          5


2 thoughts on “Media Criticism—- With a peek to “Mad Men”

  1. I absolutely enjoyed your use of links throughout your blog post. You used a lot more than I did. I feel like I’ve been lazy when it comes to my blog posts. Within the first few paragraphs you taught me that media influences everyone and that it doesn’t only affect a particular culture. I must admit that I’m somewhat misinformed to the world around me at times. I often only see things as an American instead of considering other cultures and countries. You have definitely helped me in opening my eyes.

    One thing I disagree with in your post is Don Draper’s choice of drink. I’m pretty sure he has stronger alcohol in his glass such as, Brandy or Scotch, instead of wine. I’m only pointing this out because alcohol drink preferences play a huge role in relation to gender roles and stereotypes. It’s rare for a man to be addicted to wine. It’s especially rare for a man of Draper’s status to drink wine. Wine is more of a feminine drink. It has a lower percentage of alcohol by volume in comparison to Brandy and Scotch. Wine typically has a 12-15% alcohol by volume. Brandy and Scotch have approximately 40% alcohol by volume. Brandy and Scotch are popular drinks shared by men in general, but especially businessmen. Therefore, I highly doubt Draper is drinking wine.

    Overall, I really enjoyed reading your post. I’m happy you eventually overcame your fear of Jerry Springer and left your apartment to experience more realistic American behavior instead of behaviors seen on tabloid talk shows. Trust me. The people on there scare me too.

  2. Pingback: Au Revoir | Cierra's Calle

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