Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Presentations of Judaism in Media

In weeks 6 we will explore presentations of Judaism in Media. Specifically we will consider how religious Jews have been framed in popular films and how these characterizations and the messages they send have evolved over time. We will read and discuss Nathan Abrams, article entitled’ “My religion is American”: A Midrash on Judaism in American Films 1990 to the Present’, which provides an overview of framings of Jews in cinema over the last three decades. Then we will focus on the images and messages communicated about Judaism in the 2004 film "Meet the Fockers" through reading Samatha Baskind's article entitled The Fockerized Jew?: Questioning Jewishness as Cool in American Popular Entertainment. As you read please reflect on what seem to be the dominant narratives told about religious Jew in film and what shifts, if any there seem to be in the representations of American Judaism


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Judaism 101 & and the Media

In week five we will be discussing Judaism and its relationship to media. In class we will be unpacking some of the core beliefs and practice related to religious Judaism and how they inform their response to and perceptions of various media technologies and context. Drawing on a book chapter entitled "History and Media Tradition: Discovering Baselines for Religious Approaches to New Media" we will consider how the history of Judaism provides a backstory of how and why religious groups, especial within Orthodox Judaism have responded to the media in particular ways. It argues that by paying close attention to how religious groups define their community, authority structure and negotiate their relationship with the printed word provide a basis for a particular group’s media values and tradition. Happy reading and I look forward to hearing your comments in class.

Walter Armburst's "The Riddle of Ramadan: Media, Consumer Culture and the 'Christmas-ization' of a Muslim Holiday"

               Walter Armburst’s article “The Riddle of Ramadan” focuses primarily on the Fawazir Ramadan, a television program that tells a riddle each night of the month of Ramadan. It includes dances, caricatures, and jokes in a very surreal indescribable way, and gives a prize to the correct guesser of the riddle. Then, interludes, such as a Christmas carol-like song sung by a woman who is not properly hijabed, emphasize a more modernized, Christianized Islam. The show does not specifically mark the end of fasting for the day, but it does mark the beginning of socializing. The show is not technically Islamic, but it still has importance due to its structure around Ramadan. Armburst compares it to the way Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer do not contain Christian stories, but are still heavily associated with the holiday. Although the Fawazir began as a way to entertain children, it has manifested into promoting corporate and state interests, made evident by the prizes given to those who can guess the riddles. While the fasting during the month is meant to install piety and humbleness in those who abstain during daylight hours, Armburst argues that the materializing of the Fawazir encourages a more materialistic worship. When people are more focused during their fasting on what they’re going to eat and what prizes they could win, instead of how the poor and unfortunate are struggling, it takes away the important significance of Ramadan. People are not meant to overeat after fasting and show off their wealth during Ramadan, rather the holiday is meant to instill an understanding of the poor and the hardships they face. 
                Armburst compares this phenomenon to the way Christmas is becoming more and more centralized on materials and corporate gain, rather than the birth of Christ. People who want to see the holiday more Christ-centered dislike how the focus of the holiday is not on how God gave his only son to die for us, and the miracle of his birth, but instead upon what gift to get and give, and what kind of sides to serve with the Christmas turkey.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Anderson: The Internet and Islam's New Interpreters

Anderson's article about the integration of media into Muslim culture shows how the media can be both a good and bad source. But more than anything Anderson highlights how with increased access to media comes increased responsibility on Muslims to represent their faith in the correct light. One century ago books were the new media, but now the people of Islam are beginning to adapt their views on modern technology see that the internet can be a useful tool in allowing them to address and reform the image of Islam. The networks that are created online are promoting religious and political conversation, expression, and representation of the Islam that has previously been confined from the public eye. Also, Muslims are using webpages to reach out to both believers and seekers creating a wider audience and network for knowledge to be spread. The internet has allowed the use of websites,  news groups, email lists, and bulletin boards, but other technologies have helped bring Islam into the age of modern technology as well. Muslims now have easy access to Education material such as the Quraan App on their phone, self help/ advice hot lines, prayer timer apps, maps with mosque locations, cassette sermons, etc. 
However, in this modern world many Muslims are having to find the balance between trying to live a Muslim life in a non Muslim society. It can be hard to interpret religion in a world of competing voices, authorities, and legitimacies. And although media is allowing a broader range of people to view Islam their interpretation could easily be skewed by miscommunication. The responsibility of the new generations of Islam is heavy in the sense that the public eye is watching their every move. Anderson writes that "interpreters, emboldened by confidence in and command of the channel" of media must be careful not to overstep the line between what is an appropriate and respectful debate and what is not. Not only that, but whether or not the author of the information that is now public is representing Islam in a way that will be interpreted correctly. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

cartoon crisis

Cartoon Crisis

This Article focuses on the infamous depiction of Muhammad that appeared in the Jyllands-Posten article "The Face of Muhammad" in Denmark on September 30 2005. The image depicted the prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban, which obviously was viewed as horribly offensive by the Muslim community. The image lead to backlash as Danish embassies were burnt down in the Middle East and Terrorist attacks were encouraged by Osama Bin Laden. It was Denmark's worst political crisis since World War Two.
The Muslim community viewed this image not only as blasphemy, as the image of Muhammad cannot be shown, but also as a attack on the religion itself. the image of Muhammad with a bomb implied that not only are all Muslims terrorists or have the capacity to become one, but also that Islam is a religion of violence and aggression and that Muhammad is used as a symbol to incite violence and persecution. The text referred to the image as "one of the most severe examples of hatred for islam. It can be said that this image was a attack on the Muslim faith due to comments a month before the article was released stating that a "medieval" muslim culture would never be held as valid as Danish culture. Many Danish politicians have also spoke out against muslims, calling them "cancer".
Although this can be viewed as an attack on Islam, it can also be viewed as freedom of expression. Even if it is offensive to some it should still be able to be expressed. This is similar to how in the United States the KKK is allowed to have riots and demonstrations, even though they are obvious attacks on minorities and are incredibly offensive. 
The author concludes by stating that the EU should not attempt to adopt Denmarks policies and to do more to stop racism. He also states that downplaying religion and culture in social integration would do wonders for acceptance of Muslims into socket

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Islamic Responses to Media

In week 4 we will consider how Islamic communities have responded to the use of various forms of media, paying specific attention to the ways media can be used to present religious beliefs and rituals and the debates surrounding religious media practices. The reading by Walter Armburst on “The Riddle of Ramadan: Media, Consumer Culture and the ‘Christmasization’ of a Muslim Holiday” looks at media use during Muslim festivals and debates about how religious media messages may impact perceptions of religion. The article by Jon Anderson on “The Internet and Islam’s New Interpreters “will help us reflect on how the presentation of Islam online may challenge traditional religious structures and authority roles. Come prepared to discuss how media may both help and challenge religious communities’ communication and behavioral practices.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Poole Part 2, Media Literacy

The second part of the passage written by Poole, is focused on media literacy and how three groups interpret the media that they read. The people represented were categorized intro three groups, Muslims, Contact, and Non-contact. Poole shows how these people interpret the media that they read and what is "important" to them in the text, specifically their knowledge of media bias, and the misrepresentation of Muslims in the media.

Depending on which of these three categories that the person can be placed in, how they used the media to support their "claims" varied (Poole 233). For non-Muslims that were part the non-contact group, meaning they have no contact with Muslims, relied on a certain media source heavily for their information. They displayed "selective perception" where they would choose on quote form the text to focus on and make it fit to their needs or claims (Poole 233). Though the groups presented different ways of using the information, they all had the mistake of misreading articles in common. They all have a tendency to skim read something if it is of no significance or value to them, which results in only pulling information they need that most appropriately fill the blanks they need for their view of the event.

A major part of how informed a person is has correlation to what they read. For example, participants that read regularly, but only picked up a tabloid were far less informed. People who showed little interest in reading news, listening to news, or watching the news had little knowledge about current issues (Poole 237). Some cultures have such close ties to their newspapers, that the papers only printed what that particular group of people wanted to read. Little historical knowledge, as well as the inability to argue for their readings was extremely evident in the non-contact group. For shear lack of any minority groups, there was a since of the "Other" group and the issues plaguing them (Poole 238).

Poole wants to reiterate that we are not only influenced by the media, but our ability to decipher the media and recognize the bias in it, as well as, the direct influence around us directly affects our perception of a particular group of people, particularly Muslims in this case.

Reaction/Summary of Poole's "Media Representations of British Muslims" Part I

I went over 300 words, but I feel this is the best I can do for such a long article (46 pages).

Simply put, this text by Elizabeth Poole (pt. 1) is the analysis of various groups of British people surveyed based on their reactions to four different articles regarding Islamic faith in the media. The people surveyed were aligned into different groups: Muslims divided by gender, non-Muslims who experienced interaction with Muslims, and non-Muslims who experienced no interaction with Muslims. They were all British from around the same area of Leicester and aged 16-18, however, socioeconomic statuses and education levels varied among the participants. Muslims were economically disadvantaged but educated, the contact-group possessed a higher economic status and more liberal views, and the non-contact group held more conservative views and were wealthy also. The articles these people were asked to respond to dealt with Islam in marriage, blasphemy, education, and fundamentalism.

Results from the survey showed that Muslim men had more political knowledge to base their arguments on, and there was less fear in giving “right” answers, whereas the Muslim women surveyed gave more reserved answers centered around “portraying a reasonable face of Islam” and answers were less about explaining their own opinions (p. 203). The Muslim people of both genders both shared equal concern about how the media often failed to explain their values accurately and how this affects the majority population’s opinion. In this case, the concern was often Islamic violence in other parts of the world and how the media’s coverage of these stories threatened the image of British Muslims. The contact group of non-Muslims showed more hostility toward Muslims than did the group with no contact with Muslim people, despite the fact that the group with contact to Muslims were more liberal (associated with tolerance, in my opinion). The texts states that “non-Muslims who have no contact with Muslims are more likely to discuss Muslims positively than those with contact” (p. 198). It seemed as though there was a gray area dealing with the sentence prior, for as I continued to read through the report, the conservative group of non-Muslims with no contact were portrayed to have a lot more racism and prejudice than the more liberal non-Muslims with contact. The opinions from the Muslim participants were predictable, but I can’t help but feel like the hostilities toward Muslim people should be switched between the liberal and conservative samples.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Perceptions of Islam in Media

In week three we will be exploring how Islam is framed and perceived within mass media news outlets and the implications of these framing for public understanding of Islam.  There are two set readings. The first is Elisabeth Poole's exploration of how Muslims have been framed by news media in her chapter “Representing Islam in theory & Practice” from the book. The second focuses is a reflection by Tim Jensen on the Danish Cartoon Crisis of 2006 of a controversial political cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed that resulted in international protests and debates regarding the treatment of Islam by media and the West.  Please read and reflect on the arguments these articles make about the perception and presentations of Islam in news media.