ambiguous morality 2

How Do You Judge Ambiguously Moral Characters?

We are fascinated by murderers, drug dealers, and other criminals—or at least that is what the media landscape and my interviewees’ marathoning behaviors suggest.
I just finished drafting the final media marathoning content chapter, which focuses on moral ambiguity. My analysis is framed by the conscious or unconscious criteria we use to evaluate such characters. Here is my current iteration of the “test” of morality:

1. What circumstances does the character find her or himself in?
2. Is there a way out that avoids violence?
3. What is the impact of one’s violent or illegal actions on collective society?
4. What of the character’s history evokes viewer sympathies?


Will You Get the Reference?

The recent ice storm that crippled Atlanta had me thinking about The Walking Dead. The lines of stranded cars do evoke scenes from the zombie apocalypse, but my mind drifted to one small line from the show. In “18 Miles Out,” Rick recalls that when his cousin got stuck on I-85 for a whole day,…


Binge on Love This Holiday Season

Holidays are a time to indulge–in decadent desserts, bacon-wrapped appetizers, mulled wines, and media. Articles in Slate and The New York Times have chastised those who over-indulge in media, giving these people the derisive label “binge viewers.” We know that the substance of those sugar cookies and pork bellies isn’t healthy, but what about the…

March Madness

Binge-Watch: Almost the Word of the Year

According to Time, “binge-watch” just missed out on being the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year. “Selfie” is the champion. (Is it worse to see a selfie or to lose to “selfie” in the lexicon contest?) Here’s how the OED defines binge-watch: binge-watch: (v.) to watch multiple episodes of a television program in rapid succession,…

A Convergence Culture Rebuttal to Neil Postman

In the previous Neil Postman-inspired blog post, I attempted to demonstrate that our culture’s dominant means of communication infiltrate the fantasy worlds that captivate our imaginations. It was an argument in tacit agreement with Postman’s claim that the dominant medium becomes our cultural “command center.” In this post, however, I am disagreeing with Postman’s essential…

Media Marathoning at NCA

My family and I are heading to Washington, D.C. tomorrow to attend the National Communication Association’s annual conference. I am excited to return to the conference circuit after a one-year hiatus. I spent the previous academic year writing the first two-thirds of the media marathoning manuscript–and gestating a baby. This year is one of debuts:…

Fantasy Texts and Communication Anxieties

My Introduction to Media Studies course is currently grappling with Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death. Comprehending the medium as metaphor for our culture is challenging, so I present a lot of examples in class to help them see the reading in a new way.  In this first of two media marathoning blog posts, I…