Media Criticism: Peer Reviews

Hi again everyone! I’m back with another post for you all.

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Assignment Description and Thoughts:

For our third and final assignment in my Media Criticism class we were to review our peers blog posts, which was something I was very much looking forward to. And let me tell you, I was not let down by my peers. They were very critical as well as personal with their readers, making it a fun assignment for me to do. According to Dr. Nichols and our Blog Assignment #3 assignment sheet, we were to comment on our peers Blog Assignment #2 post that analyzed a media text of choice. Our comment was to include what we enjoyed about the post, what we learned, what we previously knew about the topic that was not gone over along with additional information the writer could add, any disagreements and why and finally how the writer could improve. I think peer editing and critiquing is vital, to learn from someone who is in the situation with you, around the same age with similar experiences. Below are comments I left on three of my peer’s blog posts.


Brandon L.:

“You did a great job at introducing Media Criticism and how impactful media is in our everyday lives; how much media affects us and our behavior and many times we are not even aware. I also enjoyed that you mentioned the creators of ‘Westworld’, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. I also appreciated that you stated the three different types of Narrative Criticism, giving readers the opportunity to investigate further about Narrative Criticism. I certainly learned much more about lighting and the different color hues in scenes inevitably creating a mood or instilling feelings in viewers; I did not see or consider a blue or orange tint at first glance. Also, generally when I think of lighting I’m thinking about actual lighting or shadows, not color tints, which is now something new for me to keep an eye out for. Discussing the Visualist Approach is important because consumers should be aware that simply the visuals, something that many people look past and do not analyze, is meant to create emotions in viewers. One could think, why do I feel sad watching this? It could be a sad media text, but also could be due to the visual aspects intentionally done by producers. I would’ve liked to read a bit more about Semiotics to open the topic of Media Criticism. Although, you did a great job explaining how important it is to recognize media and its effects on us. Overall, this was a fantastic blog post on Media Criticism.”

Zhanae A.:

“Zhanae, I really enjoyed reading your blog post. Right off the bat it is very eye appealing, the way you broke it down into sections. You did an awesome job at breaking down and explaining our class, Media Criticism, Media Criticism as a discipline and the purpose of it all. I think having the statistic from Pew regarding media usage and Facebook really gave you credibility and showed the force in which media has on us daily and non-stop. I learned more about Propp’s 8-character roles especially now having read how you applied it to ‘Homeland’ really helped me to further understand the concept and be able to apply it to characters in show that I watch and how it creates a new dynamic; how it can intertwine with the theme. In this case being the “good versus evil binary” you mentioned. Maybe adding more info on Propp, who he is and his work would be a good addition to your post. Ending with the “what now” I thought was a great way to close. It came full circle to encompass everything you discussed as well as reinforced the importance of analyzing media texts as the last sentence the reader ends with, having that stick in their mind in hopes readers too will be more critical. Overall, this was a great blog post and I very much enjoyed reading.”

Taylor M.:

“Taylor, I very much enjoyed reading your blog post. It was upbeat, professional, but also very personable which made it very easy to stay interested and attentive when reading. That is a very good skill to have when writing, the ability to keep the readers interest. Using Modern Family was a great choice, due to it being a modern show, with non-traditional family dynamics. This is also something you mentioned, the three types of family dynamics in this media text, breaking it down for readers to better understand the show, but also to remind readers of different family types opposed to just the traditional family seen in media texts. Giving the definition of media criticism was a nice touch and way to introduce the topic. You relating with the reader, that the definition is a bit difficult to understand at first but broke it down nicely for readers to be able to better digest what media criticism is. Stating the idea that the camera being tight on someone’s face, for this Claire and Alex, creates intimacy is not something that I considered before; I learned to now think about a tight shot and if the purpose is to create intimacy and make it personal for the viewer. The only thing I could see that you could add that would give viewers more info, is a short background on the other Narrative Analysis approaches; Aristotelian and Structuralist. Ending by reminding the reader to keep on a “critical lens” on is very important; it is the last thing they read so something they will remember. You did a great job expressing the importance of being critical. Overall, this was a great blog post and I really enjoyed reading!”

Wrapping it up:

All in all, I have learned countless new ideas and tools taking Media Criticism with Dr. Nichols and my peers. Not only have I learned new skills to apply when analyzing media, but also how to stay critical and continue to analyze the things I see, hear, feel and experience. I enjoyed very much using a blog for class. It provided me opportunity to write freely and I value writing and language to a very deep degree. We were also provided the space to make a lot of our own executive decisions, from the design on our page to the topics we discussed. It was also enjoyable to see my classmates’ blogs and get a better taste of who they are as individuals.

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Narrative Criticism of Media Texts

Hello fellow media lovers and consumers! My name is Russell and I am a Towson University student studying Mass Communication Public Relations and Women’s and Gender studies. Today, I am here to guide you all to better understand messages in media “text”.

Media “texts” are any type of media, television, a print ad, internet and the list goes on. I am currently in a class, Media Criticism, which is centered on learning to critically think about media and media messages.

The goals and objectives of the class once completed according to Dr. Nichols include the ability to critically thinking in terms of media, utilize terms, know “theories and approaches used in media criticism”, analyzing media, evaluate media and apply knowledge to critically thinking about media.

Media criticism is a systematic process which one may utilize to analyze and further interrogate media to understand deeper meanings, such as societal norms and ideologies which play a role in our daily lives. According to Dr. Nichols, the process involves selecting media text, describing the messages, analyzing trends, interpreting deeper meaning, evaluating force of message to viewers and finally writing on these findings.

It is important to mention what media criticism is not; media criticism is not an opinion, not negative by nature nor quantitative (empirical research) according to Dr. Nichols.

Why does all this analyzing of the media matter, one may ask. Media plays such a huge role in our daily lives in today’s world. We are consuming media even when not actively seeking it out; one may walk by an office and hear a radio show talk or be driving down a highway and see a billboard. At first, the message may seem clear, it did to me. A big billboard for a mattress store? “They” want me to buy a mattress, simple, what else could it mean? But, what colors was the billboard, was it red to instill a feeling of urgency? Media texts carry deeper meanings than what initially meets the eye, and that’s what media criticism is all about.

All media is intentional. For instance, where items may be placed on an ad (text, picture, etc.) or perhaps the lighting and camera movements in a TV show or movie- it’s all intentional.

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Media controls much of our lives as well as the messages, whether direct or indirect. Media shapes the way we think. What feelings are associated with the color red? Emergency, urgency, passion, love, violence? Why do we think this way and associate feelings with colors? Society, culture and media.

Media perpetuates ideas and “norms” in our culture, therefore carries the messages from top influencers. Media carries the messages top influencers want society to have; dictates the current society “buzz”, if you will.

“Understanding media as a source of cultural education,” is a cultural pedagogy (Dr. Nichols). What is a pedagogy? A pedagogy is an implemented teaching style or ingrained “way of learning,” (Dr. Nichols). Cultural pedagogies train us how to think and behave to the “norms” of society.

A media text we will interrogate today is That 70s Show. That 70s Show is a television show that can be categorized as comedy. It tells the story of a high schooler named Eric, his family and his friends. This is a mature TV show, for young adults and adults. Eric and his friends have high school problems that were more typical in the 70s, chores, following gender roles and respecting authority. It incorporates modern day high schooler worries such as homework and partners but does not include a big technology aspect that is common for today’s world.

Eric and his friends often have times cut out to sit in a circle and discuss high school experiences without the presence of adults, therefore much less censored.

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I would like to demonstrate for you how to analyze a media text, such as That 70s Show, and provide you some tools to find the deeper, embedded meaning in media through evaluating texts using the approach of Narrative criticism. Narrative criticism is analyzing the “story” that the creator is portraying, according to Dr. Nichols. Storytelling is a basic way humans explain the experiences in their lives. “Narrative criticism is systematic study of texts and how they are structured into a cause-and-effect chain of events with a beginning, middle and end… stories are how we make sense of our lives,” (Dr. Nichols).

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Some terms to know is story, which is the whole story, for example so and so was born, lived their life (experiences) then died. The plot is what is directly portrayed and seen visually and audibly. Emplotment is the deliberate sequence of events to make a understandable story.

The Aristotelian approach of narrative criticism explores the story through the presence and evaluation of drama. This includes plot, character, setting, language and performance, according to Dr. Nichols.

John Fiske, a philosopher, says there are “codes of television”, reality which is the visual and audible make-up of the story; what is presented. Representation is the not-so noticeable or first thought about factors such as lighting or camera position. Ideology is a “norm” or way of thinking in a culture.

Some cultural “norms” or ways of thinking, ideologies, common in the United States of America are patriarchy, femininity/ masculinity and gender roles, ideologies portrayed in storytelling and media texts. These ideologies are portrayed explicitly as well as inexplicitly in media, perpetuating the norms of the “right” ways to perform gender, women being feminine and men to be masculine. What does it mean to be feminine? Reserved, dainty, reliant, quiet, obedient. To be feminine and female is to listen to males and engage in caretaking roles. Men are to be independent, breadwinner, emotionless, strong, active, among many more characteristics, according to society, its messages and portrayals.

That 70s Show is a media text that incorporates and portrays strong gender roles and what it means to be feminine and masculine, which was an extremely prevalent ideology in the 70s. That 70s Show Season 4 Episode 8 Eric’s father, Red, is startled when his friend Bob’s girl friend Joanne would like to grill steaks, opposed to stay in the kitchen and make salads. Kitty, Red’s wife keeps quiet, as a woman should do. Joanne on the other hand speaks out, challenging Red and his sexist, yet common thinking, in the 70s and in modern day.

Visually and audibly a consumer of this media text can hear and see Red’s discomfort when Joanne asks to grill. His facial expression portrays confusion as his eyebrows crumble and his lips quiver. He explicitly states women are to cook in the kitchen and make salads, that grilling is for the men. The scene takes place in Red’s kitchen, the setting or place where women are supposed to be according to this media text, but even bigger, in society.

This media text portrays the ideals and ideologies of patriarchy, that men dictate the rules and that women are to passively listen. This media text perpetuates gender roles through the presentation of the story, plot and emplotment.

Why is this all important? It is critical to notice the messages we are consuming as viewers. Top influencers want to keep power over the masses and repeatedly portray messages of “norms” for how women and men are to express their femininity/ masculinity.



Carsey-Werner Company ; Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, LLC ; created by Bonnie Turner, Terry Turner and Mark Brazil. (2012). That ’70s show : Season four.

Dr. Nichols (2018). Lecture.

Fiske, John. The codes of television. Television culture (London & New York: Methuen, 1987). Pp. 1-13.


Paideia. (21 July 2013). Mapping out media messages.

Russell Review.

Up and Coming EDM Artists, Erin and Avior

Erin (left) and Avior (right) posing for a signature picture after discussing what EDM means to them (Photo by: Colby Ann/ TU Student). 

Erin and Avior are two young people making their way into the music world. More specifically, the world of EDM, Electronic Dance Music. Both have been DJing for at least a year and are furthering their practice in producing music. They hope their music and talent will take them places, allow them to travel and perform at a large-scale. 

See the full story on Erin and Avior and what EDM means to them:

Creating the Mood with EDM (Electronic Dance Music)

Avior Z. (left) and Erin S. (right) listening to their decks (music) planning when to switch tracks to produce new music/ sounds. (Photo by: Colby Ann/ TU Student).

Music is a universal mechanism that can dictate the way one feels but also is an outlet to listen to certain genres when in a particular mood. Erin Shea, Towson University student’s mood is at its high point when DJing, producing EDM (Electronic Dance Music) or even when at an EDM concert/ event.

“It’s a lot of positive energy,” said Shea. “I’m never happier than when I’m at an EDM show.”

Continue reading Creating the Mood with EDM (Electronic Dance Music)

Getting Involved with Brandy Hall

Brandy Hall discussing the fun and importance of students getting involved at Towson University and any campus. (Photo by: Colby Ann Russell/ TU Student). 

Brandy Hall discusses how to get involved on campus but also how important it is to get involved. Joining the right clubs and organizations that fits one’s interests will allow them to grow as well as have a better experience.

Get Away With More: Effective Packing

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Packing effectively involves wrapping of clothes around the core such as the gray tshirt in the middle. There are rolled shirts and socks on the left side, another way to conserve space when packing. (Photo By: Colby Ann/ TU Student).

Feeling the sun in your face, sand between your toes, and condensation from you ice beverage sitting on the beach during vacation is a relaxing feeling, but what about the hassle it took to get there.

Packing for vacation is the most dreadful part. It is no simple task, lots of time, energy and thought goes into packing, much like an art or science. Yes, packing is comparable to a fine art, making all items fit perfectly and neatly.

“The technique I use, folding clothes inside of each other then placing my clothes vertically in my suitcase opposed to stacked on top of each other, really creates a lot of room allowing me to fit all my clothes and toiletries neatly,” said Allie Ruddy, Towson University Senior who has traveled abroad multiple times. “I always would get very nervous my suitcase would be over weight or not close correctly, but with the folding method I really don’t have those fears much any more, everything is really consolidated.”

There are different methods to packing ones clothes in a suitcase or carry on bag in a tidy, space- conserving way and with summer right around the corner, now is the time to brush up on ones packing skills. Continue reading Get Away With More: Effective Packing

Local Job Opportunities for Towson University Students

Students approach tables to talk to potential employers about internship, job and career opportunities. (Photo by: Colby Ann Russell/ TU Student)

Not only does the Career Center at Towson University provide jobs for students, but also assists students in resume building and finding a career that fits and applying for that position. Continue reading Local Job Opportunities for Towson University Students

David Peake the Pilot- Flying Drones

David is flying his drone at a local high school, looking back and forth at the drone he is flying and his control system. (Photo by: Colby Ann/ TU Student).

David Peake speaks of his personal experience of flying drones not only as a hobby but for his profession. He gives insight on the “spark” of his interest in flying in general then flying drones.

Activist, Performance Artist performs at Towson University

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An audience of about 150 people await performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña to take stage. Before the performance started, Gómez-Peña’s wife stood on stage selling books, tshirts, etc. (Photo by: Colby Ann Russell/ TU Student).

An audience of about 150 people attended an activist, storyteller performance who discussed disputable topics of the ‘American life’ and current societal issues on Towson University’s campus February 23. Continue reading Activist, Performance Artist performs at Towson University