The Media Theory Toolbox – My Public Sphere

The Media Theory Toolbox – My Public Sphere

I wake up and am immediately checking Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in an endless circle until I finally drag myself out of bed. I turn my car on and Triple J comes blaring through my crappy speakers. I chat with my friends through the day about anything from our upcoming festival outfits to world politics. I sit down with my family at dinner and watch Nine News and then maybe The Project. Maybe I’ll watch a little bit of ESPN later for my basketball fix.

Here are the parameters of my public sphere, or my “18th century coffee house” as Jurgen Habermas may have put it, although my public sphere doesn’t really stick to his “no women or minorities” rule. Anyway, this is where my knowledge of the outside world is learnt.

This week’s BCM110 lecture on this topic definitely made me think a little deeper about the ideas, values and beliefs that I choose to surround myself with on a daily basis, how I interact with them, and how they have shaped me and my views. It also made me think a surprisingly high amount about Big Brother, but I’m slowly learning that these lectures can be extremely random in terms of examples.

I’ve been involved in my fair share of debates online, and offline. I have quite a strong political opinions if that wasn’t obvious from my previous blog posts. I’ve had discussions with fellow students from my high school, teachers, friends, and family about LGBTQ+ rights, racism, xenophobia, feminism, the use of the n-word, and so on. Whilst not all ended on a mutual understanding of the other’s beliefs, sometimes there was a “breakthrough” with each party coming to a shared agreement. These “conversations” opened my eyes to just how large of an impact the public sphere has on an individual.

I have come to realise that I have definitely made solid decisions about my public sphere, whether that be subconsciously or deliberately. The media definitely plays a massive role in all of this. I choose to follow Instagram accounts and Facebook pages which relate to my interests and my beliefs. I unfollow old classmate’s babbling on with support for Pauline Hanson and sharing misogynistic jokes. I have no room for that negativity in my “coffee house”. I choose to surround myself with people and media that reflect my personal views on the world.

Gif: x

Representation and Interpretation – Pepsi

Representation and Interpretation – Pepsi

For some, these images may just look like Kendall Jenner handing a police officer a Pepsi. You may see her surrounded by friends, having a laugh. Maybe you aren’t able to see anything wrong.

The truth is, there is something deeply wrong with these images. Start by comparing them to the photos below.

Another simple offering handed to police officers. Only this time, it isn’t met with the same reaction. The woman is taken away. This is the reality.

Kendall Jenner starred in a Pepsi ad, first aired in 2017, that went viral, but not for a good reason. The ad depicted Jenner defusing a protest situation by handing a police officer a Pepsi, after witnessing the protest from a photoshoot. The ad was released at a particularly hostile time in American politics. Black Lives Matter protests were in full swing across the nation and people had a range of opinions on the issue. It was poor form of the company, and Kendall Jenner for agreeing to star in the ad. After much opposition from people across the world, the ad was removed from distribution after just one day.

The Black Lives Matter movement is incredibly important, in America, and here in Australia. It brings awareness to horrific and unjustified deaths of so many black people by police and civilians. In America, in 2012, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed after a man thought he looked suspicious walking through the neighbourhood of relatives he was visiting. In 2014, Eric Garner was selling cigarettes on the street when he was put in a chokehold (against NYPD protocol). He yelled out “I can’t breathe” multiple times until he became unconscious and later died.

In Australia, Ms Dhu, a Yamatji woman, was arrested for unpaid fines after calling police on her partner who was violating an AVO. She died in custody 2 days later after multiple complaints of poor health were ignored or overlooked by supervising officers. Sadly, this is just a small example of hundreds of similar deaths.

It is understandable however, that many would not see anything wrong with Pepsi’s ad. They may not be up-to-date with the political climate of the United States. They could be unaware of the sadness and anger surrounding the deaths of so many, innocent black people from gun violence and the poor judgement, or even prejudice, of the country’s police. Maybe they are opposed to the Black Lives Matter movement, maybe they’re a police officer.

This is where the theme of this week’s blog post comes in. Interpretation and representation. Without background knowledge, or with our own preconceived opinions on certain topics, we may not be aware of an issue with a certain topic or action that may have a major impact on another community of people. Everyone will interpret this ad and group of photos in a different way. It can start a discussion or debate, but education is the key to understanding, empathy and action.


Kendall Jenner –

Black Lives Matter Rally, Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA –

Media Audiences – Christchurch

Media Audiences – Christchurch

TRIGGER WARNING: this post contains information about the Christchurch terrorist attack.

Artwork by Ruby Jones
Instagram: @rubyalicerose

Whilst sitting in my MGNT102 lecture on Friday, I admittedly was having a quick scroll on Twitter when I came across the devastating news of the Christchurch terrorist attack. I sat in complete shock for the rest of the lecture, and that day. Today (Sunday), even as I write this, it still doesn’t seem real. 50 confirmed dead and many more injured in what can only be described as a horrific act of white supremacist terrorism. My heart goes out to the victims, their whanau and friends, New Zealand, and the Muslim community around the world.

Originally, I had planned to write this blog post about my experiences as a member of an audience to concerts and music festivals, but that simply did not feel right after what had taken place on Friday. The past few days have emphasised to me the major role media plays in tragic events like this, and how we, as an audience, influence it.

It has been hard to miss the constant bombardment of information seeping through our televisions, phones, computers, conversations and radios over the past 48 hours. It has contained floods of love and support for the Muslim community and victims, and heartbreaking news updates. It has also contained the complete opposite. Racist opinions and hate speech also leaked into our news and social media sites. The world, as an audience to the media, have watched on with intrigue and disgust.

From a national perspective, I was infuriated when Australian Senator Fraser Anning excused the terrorist act. I could go on for days about how predominant figures using their platform to spread xenophobic views are a major reason as to why attacks like Christchurch take place.

However, I was glad to see I was part of a majority of the media audience when (as of 4:21pm Sunday 17th March) over 856,000 people had signed a petition titled, ‘Remove Fraser Anning from parliament’. Australia’s new “national treasure”, known as “Egg Boy”, also gave many people watching the media intently a reason to smile in a dark time as he cracked an egg over Senator Anning’s head during a live interview.

Overall, with the attack happening so close to home, and the way it has deeply affected such a large amount of people worldwide, it has highlighted to me the role in which we, as an audience of national and international media, impact the way in which news is shared. Our varying values and ethics as an audience influence our reactions to events, and what we decide to support or speak out against. We shape the media. It is our responsibility to take action against discrimination within it.

I would like to end this post with some words Osman Faruqi posted to his Twitter page in the wake of the Christchurch attack:

I feel so sad. We begged you to stop amplifying and normalising hatred and racism. But you told us we were ‘politically correct’ and ‘freedom of speech’ was more important. The more you gave the far-right a platform, the more powerful they got. We begged you.” –

Kia Kaha, Christchurch.

DISCLAIMER: I refuse to promote the agenda white supremacists try to spread through media, so certain names and information are missing from this blog post. I’m not sure this really counts as a disclaimer but I would just like to say that we as an audience to the media need to stop allowing racists to have a platform. We are all responsible. Speak up if you know something isn’t inclusive. If you excuse racism and xenophobia committed in any form, you are part of the problem. Any comments on this page featuring hate speech will be deleted.