Children’s Television Controversy

By Mary Kate Buckman

Over the years, there has been a significant rise of indecency in the media. Parents have fought for regulation of this material because there can be harmful effects on children when they are exposed to violence and foul language. On the other hand, many believe that increased regulation of the media is a violation of free speech. The opposing ideas about the issue has created controversy regarding laws about the media.

In 1973, a father complained that his child had heard obscene language on the radio. Following the accusation, a Supreme Court case, FCC vs. Pacifica Foundation, lead to implementing “safe harbor hours”, which are hours that broadcasters are legally permitted to air indecent material. The hours are 10pm-6am because children are unlikely to be viewing during that time. Safe harbor hours is one of many solutions enforced in attempt to regulate the media content that children are exposed to.

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In 1990, the Children’s Television Act  was passed to further monitor the television content of children and aimed to increase the educational programming available to children. It required that broadcasters air at least three hours of educational programming for children each week (3 Hour Rule). This obviously aimed to have positive impacts on children’s television, however, there were less diverse educational shows as a result of the act. Furthermore, a report shows that during the first eight years that the act was enforced the number of television programs considered to be highly educational dropped from 43% to 29%. Although there are some positive effects of the act, there are many unforeseen negative effects. The Children’s Television Act is still enforced, which impacts the viewing of Americans today.

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Although the regulations of television programming for children has somewhat successfully monitored the exposure of indecent content to children, there will likely be further revisions to the policies as well as new policies enforced.

 

Video Game Rating Controversy

By: Thomas DiMarco & Omar Haque

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In 1993 a video game rating system was created due to a heated controversy that arose, primarily, because of a single game: Mortal Kombat.  It was deemed to be too inappropriate for many to play, so, through Senate hearings, the government enforced a rating system for video games.  This is where private companies were formed, in order to uphold the law yet keep the industry free from too much government intervention. Prior to its release, there was no system set in place to rate video games. Therefore, there was no way to regulate the content that every game contained and, in turn, there was no guard set in place to prevent young people from buying products that were deemed too inappropriate or indecent for them.  The two largest private companies are PEGI and the ESRB. Combined, the two companies have rated and evaluated the majority of video games in the last two decades.

In the recent past, the ESRB have had some complications with games like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Manhunt where the content, when compared to other mature rated games, contained excessive, intensified graphic content. The ESRB rated these games “Mature,” giving potential customers the idea that those games were on the same level of graphic content as others with the same rating.  The ESRB was criticized by the government-created National Institute on Media and the Family for that rating, saying that the content should have been rated differently, arguing for those to be “Adult Games.” Hilary Clinton even requested the FTC to investigate whether or not Video Game makers respected the rating system.

Companies like the ESRB and PEGI have undergone serious scrutinization from government institutions and civil groups and are mistrusted by such groups.  With differing perspectives, the continuous change of content, and an overall lack of good communication between the differing parties has leant to continued mistrust and the creation of a difficult environment to solve the problem mutually.

Legalzoom.com/articles/the-controversy-over-video-game-ratings

ncac.org/resource/a-timeline-of-video-game-controversies

wired.com/2009/07/dayintech_0729/

Blade Runner

By: Thomas DiMarco and Omar Haque

The movie has received a huge cult-like following, amassing critical acclaim due to its revolutionary style, influencing the genre of science fiction to modern day, due to its visionary style and the central question it poses, “what makes it that makes someone a human being?”  The visual style of the film reinforces the mechanical, over-industrialized nature of a society which places ahead efficiency and productivity above all else.  It does this by creating a bleak and dirty Los Angeles.  While there were flying cars, cities in which every building was a skyscraper, and extraterrestrial colonies, it was all still a dystopia. The atmosphere in LA was smoggy and constantly raining.  The streets were crowded and much of the city was full of condemned buildings and the discarded remains of everyone’s waste.  This style grabbed the attention of many critics for the dark, dystopian world Ridley Scott created.  The question that the movie asked, “What makes a human being, essentially, human?” By showing that Replicants have intense emotions and are driven by those emotions just as human beings are, and comparing the Replicants with Harrison Ford, the question arises with how far an extent one is able to determine humanity.

The movie comments on humanity and ethics by using the tone of this movie to show a gloomy, dark, and near desperate future; which can be a possibility in the near future due to the idea of over-industrialization over the idea of having a healthy and pretty city. So, the movie’s exaggeration of the future of society comments on humanity and ethics can be interpreted as a sort of shout at today’s society saying, “Hey, wake up America!” because if society keeps this up, then everyone is going to be smoking all the time just like in the movie.

The question of what makes us human is relevant in today’s society because everyday people are exposed to various stereotypes in today’s world. For example, take the “basic white girl”, you might imagine a young, attractive female that probably spends a lot of time at Starbucks and posting pictures of her UGG boots on her Instagram. It’s those stereotypes that give an illusion of robotic like behavior. Society is what made a stereotype predictable. If what determines what a human is is to have self-created hopes and dreams and be motivated by our emotions and intellect to accomplish those goals. The Replicants are able to experience feeling and emotion; they fear death and are motivated, through means not programmed by their creator, to search for a solution to their short lifespans. They are highly motivated by their self-created goals, are emotional, have a need to stay alive, and are capable of changing their mindset due to the circumstances that they find themselves in.  In doing so, they act just as humans do, creating a parallel between the two.

 

 

The Blade Runner

Sydney Comber, Megan Fitzgerald, and Chris Piterski

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The Blade Runner has been so influential and critically acclaimed in Sci-Fi circles, mostly because it is the first of its kind. Prior to the production of the Blade Runner, no movie had the same production design, dark atmosphere, and special effects as the Blade Runner did. The movie combines a high-tech future with a dirty, anti-utopian, twist which takes place in the year 2019. Many directors have been influenced by the monumental film because of the new tendencies it showed. Directors like James Cameron were very influenced by the movies high-tech vibe, as shown in his Terminator movies. Twenty-five years ago, the Ridley Scott film, Blade Runner, became an instant science fiction classic. The neo-noir masterpiece influenced a generation of filmmakers and video-game designers. The Blade Runner is unmatched and so famous for the director’s ability to make to viewer feel like they are in an environment which they understand.

Throughout the movie, the theme of human identity arises when discussing the different characters. The differences between humans and replicates throughout the movie pose slight differences among what it really means to be human. From the start of the movie, it is portrayed that the replicates seem to be stronger than the real humans. Living with the technology around us while trying to maintain our humanity seems to be a large issue here. Since the replicates do not exhibit any characteristics of emotion or empathy towards others, it can pose the question of how new forms of technology are taking over the world and turning us into human robots. This question is probably even more relevant today due to the upheaval of technology that is continuing to revolutionize the world. For example, cell phone usage has decreased the amount of face to face interaction time humans get now, and has begun to dehumanize society. We are meant to talk and interact with each other, but the increase in technology has led to less and less of this.

Blade Runner

By: Hari Roth, Kate Mazza, Regina McCormick, Julia Mulry

1.) After watching the movie Blade Runner and reading the texts posted on Moodle we can safely say that I agree with both of the articles we read pertaining to the movie. The article that resonates the most after reading about and watching the movie is “The Blade Runner Experience: The Legacy of a Science Fiction Classic” In particular a quote that we found to be accurate was, “this collection of essays explores the various platforms literary, fan, digital, and theoretical where the film continues to resonate.” From the essay the quote summarizes one of the main aspects of Blade Runner that still makes it still well-known and famous today; the fact that it still has a following because of the fact that it contains deeper meanings and thought provoking aspects. In addition, we also liked how the article further proved the ideas of mortality and morality. In general, both of the articles provided a great source of supplementary readings to the movie and provided great insight further into the film that helps prove and explain its ideas, clear and unclear, further.

2.) Blade Runner is credited as one of the most influential and monumental movies to enter the Sci-Fi world. It distinguishes itself from prior Sci-Fi films and stories because of several factors. It has been critically acclaimed and analyzed by many Sci-Fi circles. A primary factor that distinguishes Blade Runner from other Sci-Fi films is its dark, dreary, and dirty setting. It is very different from the clean, white, and gray settings of other Sci-fi movies of the time, such as Star Wars. It presented a world in the future that was dystopia rather than utopia. Another key component that distinguishes it from other Sci-Fi movies is the introduction of an intelligent Android (tag “intelligent android”) that is virtually indistinguishable from the humans that created it. These factors add up making BladeRunner the most influential science fiction film of the 1980s.

http://cinemaddicts.org/blog/2007/11/23/blade-runner-the-most-influential-science-fiction-movie-of-the-1980s/

http://www.computerworld.com/author/JR-Raphael/

3.) The movie comments on humanity and ethics by Roy Batty , who is in fact a fairly perfect “human”: strong, handsome, and honest. There is also the monstrous uncanny of Sebastian’s creations, the strange and ungainly precursors to the replicants he designs for Dr. Tyrell. Monstrosity is also present in the human characters. For instance, the coldness with which Deckard, along with Bryant and Gaff, respond to the assignment of “retiring” the replicants; the use of the verb absolving them of any moral wrongdoing. To say “kill” would be to grant the replicants some outward appearance of autonomy, even if merely the status of a living being; to “murder” them would be to tacitly admit their humanity. Replicants are indistinguishable from adult humans and are banned from Earth because they are exclusively utilized for dangerous or menial work on the “off-world colonies.” Replicants who ignore the ban and go back to Earth, are hunted down and killed by the police, known as “Blade Runners.” This comments on humanity because it’s saying that if people don’t follow the laws by the government they will be punished. The Replicants start to show compassion and fear for one another and are put together against human characters who lack empathy, while the mass of humanity on the streets is cold and impersonal. The film goes so far as to put in doubt whether Deckard is human, and forces the audience to re-evaluate what it means to be human.

http://www.philfilms.utm.edu/1/blade.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blade_Runner

4.) The Blade Runner is an exceptional movie because of the question it poses about humanity. The question of what makes us human is quite intricate as it can never really be answered. Is our humanity defined through our actions and thought? If so, this remains to be incredibly relevant because of the existential question of why we exist. However, what if we’re here because were being controlled by a higher being? Does that change our humanity? While these questions are all posed by this movie, it is clear by the movie’s climax that our humanity is questioned, but must be earned.

The Blade Runner, and Its Legacy

The Blade Runner was actually a Sci-Fi movie that I had never seen before. It was always something that I’ve always wanted to watch, but never got the time to get to. I had heard countlessly about the many movies that were inspired by Blade Runner and the countless animated films taking exact scenes deliberately from the movie. So going into this movie I had an idea of what to expect, and it fulfilled that expectation to its highest potential. The Blade Runner is a film that not only delves the viewer into a world that could potentially be ours, but a world full of questions of what makes someone truly human in the eyes of everyone else and what makes us a monster, almost like a mistake made by God. Do we have the right to take the lives of someone or something that we created in our own image? Or is that up to the judgement of God?

As for the readings for the movie, I agree with both of the articles. Both of the articles describe the movie as “essential to rethinking our relationship [with] the world around us”, which perfectly describes the film. In the film, the character being played by Harrison Ford, left the police force because he questioned his line of duty. This duty being to exterminate these androids that are so closely related to humans they’re almost one in the same. They are said to be eliminated because according to society “they are a danger to everyone and aren’t truly human”. Harrison Ford though questions this immediately finding out that some androids just want to live their lives peacefully as humans. Is it really up to Harrison Ford to take the life of someone like that? The articles also state that the film lies “far beyond the fascination of its special effects”. The Blade Runner doesn’t just rely on special effects to make a quick action movie, the movie goes deeper then that. The world described in the film is very much like modern day and the characters are each individually developed by one another. The androids don’t have any unique traits other then their super strength, so they actual resemble normal people adding to the questionability of exterminating them.

As for the movie commenting on humanity and ethics, it questions the law and how the world easily wants to destroy what’s different. Like I said previously, the androids in the film act very much like humans minus their super strength. Also, the women android Racheal even (to an extent) falls in love with the Harrison Ford character which is a very humanistic character trait. This asks the question what makes us human. Are we human if we act, talk, and feel it? Or are we not if were just a puppet made by the genius of mankind? This would be a relevant question even for today because throughout politics we question our actions against countries we don’t truly understand. Do we attack if were attacked without reason? Or we negotiate in a civil manner? Fear is the reason why we attack, and even though the fear of the androids isn’t true in reality, who says it isn’t true with everything else.

Net Neutrality Obama

Sydney Comber, Megan Fitzgerald, Chris Piterski

The main players in the issue with net neutrality are the large companies (who sometimes block customers from blocking or slowing down legal content, the Federal Communications Commission, and the opposing sides who favor or oppose open internet.  Obama feels that a free and open internet should be open to all consumers, and the FCC needs to adopt the most strict rules in order to prevent companies from blocking or slowing down legal content.  With net neutrality, any blog or website is available online, and it also promotes innovation and competition.  It ensures that large companies do not have advantages over small startups and that google cannot pay faster access for its websites.  On the other hand, the internet service providers have less money to spend on upgrading their networks.  Also, some people argue how easily accessible leg and age sensitive material would be.

This issue impacts regular Americans today because everyone who goes online, does so through an ISP.  Without specific regulated rules, large companies, such as Comcast and Verizon, could handpick which content is easiest for consumers to access.  As a result, consumer access to specific online content could slow down or speed up.  The FCC voted to enact the Net Neutrality, ensuring that IPS’s cannot blocking or slowing some content while offering faster service for those willing to pay.

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Looking ahead on this issue, the plan of net neutrality and an open internet is smart. Large companies can make money through many other ways besides charging users for “fast lanes” for faster speeds. If the fees were to rise in the future, the competition among the internet websites would decrease, and initiate a disadvantage to companies that do not charge the fee. Keeping the internet free and regulating what companies are allowed to do is in the best interest for our country, and new president Donald Trump may vote against this rule in the future.

The controversy over net neutrality is that all traffic on the internet should be treated equal. This means that internet providers cannot block or slow down services or applications that you use over the web. Providers are not able to add an extra fee to companies like Netflix because of the amount of bandwidth they use. These fees are called “fast lanes”. Simply put, A broadband provider can’t block lawful content, applications, services or nonharmful devices.

Video Games and Controversy

 

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Mike Filardi, Aaron Petit

Prior to 1993 there was no standard rating system in place for video games, that changed when games like Mortal Kombat and Night Trap caused a social conversation concerning what kind of effect games could have on kids. While earlier games featured questionable content, it was likely the growing popularity of video games as a medium and the use of digitized actors (as opposed to drawings) in these games in particular that brought about controversy. The content like the “realistic” violence Mortal Kombat became the center of a series of congressional hearings from 1992 through 1993. The focus of the debate was whether or not children should have access to video games with explicit content, and if not how could that access be denied. In the end it was decided that either the video game industry would regulate itself, or the government would step in and do it themselves. This decision strongly resemble the controversy surrounding the regulation of Hollywood, which was at one time regulated by the Hay’s Code, and of comic book publishing, which was regulated by the Comics Code Authority.

The video game industry followed this precedent and the first ratings standard was created with Sega of America’s Videogame Rating Council in 1993. This standard would be replaced by others, each time changing the rules and regulations to find a ratings system that worked. This also has a precedent in film and comic history, as both have changed the way they rated and regulated content over the years. The current standards are the ESRB rating created in 1994 and PEGI in 2003 and while there is still some concern over the effects of video game content, the controversy has largely died down now that video games have entered the mainstream. Looking at this history in the larger context, taking into account the controversies of other mediums, a pattern becomes clear. Once the majority of people become familiar with a medium, nearly all of the fear around it goes away.

Net Neutrality and President Obama’s Plan

Regina McCormick, Kate Mazza, Julia Mulry, Hari Roth

Throughout modern times there have been a number of controversies and discussions that have come directly as a result of modern forms of technology and communications. Many controversies today come from arguments over censorship and what should and shouldn’t be allowed on television, the internet, or video games. Among these controversies one of the most famous recent one’s includes net neutrality. Net neutrality is a battle between Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) and almost the rest of the world including President Obama and most internet using citizens. It is a battle that arises from the fact the man ISP’s want to provide data for the internet differently, while the idea of net neutrality, and specifically President Obama’s is that there is no blocking of data, no throttling of internet speeds, no paid prioritization, and there will be increased transparency between customers and ISP’s. This policy has been fought for by President Obama and his administration by filing a plan to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to put into place against the popular ISP’s in America. These proposed policies were eventually approved by the FCC and were put into place in 2015.

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Without even knowing it, this decision impacts many Americans in many ways. It will not change their everyday internet usage in a substantial way but it will provide a more equal and safe internet experience for all users and stop large companies from taking away many aspects of the internet from consumers. However, despite the progress made with net neutrality under President Obama the laws enforced by the FCC may be repealed or adversely affected with the election of President Trump. Trump’s new chair of the FCC, Ajit Pai, strongly disagrees with Obama’s plan of net neutrality and does not think the internet should be regulated like a utility. This new appointment does not bode well at all for the previous idea of net neutrality and the future should be very interested in regards to this argument. However, despite this Obama’s first acts passed by the FCC should serve as a somewhat strong basis and great set of initial rules despite whatever the future holds.

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Sources: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/feb/26/fcc-approves-net-neutrality-plan/

https://www.upcounsel.com/blog/president-obamas-plan-for-net-neutrality

http://dailysignal.com/2016/03/02/after-1-year-the-effects-of-the-net-neutrality-regulations/

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/06/court-upholds-obama-backed-net-neutrality-rules-224309

http://www.forbes.com/sites/nelsongranados/2017/02/01/the-fcc-hints-at-the-future-of-net-neutrality-under-trump/#429ef7664036

 

 

Blade Runner and being human.

Mike Filardi

Blade Runner is a great film, it can entertain and confront its audience with complex moral questions. One of these question asks what is it that makes us essentially human. Our status as human beings, as opposed to a machine or an android, is the basis of our identity. Being human means that we can think for ourselves, make choices, and are emotionally aware of the world around us. The movie presents this early on with the Voight-Kampff test used to determine replicants from humans, assuming that a replicant would not be able to make appropriate emotional responses to the scenarios presented to them the way a human would. It may not be possible to physically test if something is thinking for itself and exercising a free will, a machine follows programing after all, however the test can detect heart rate, eye movement, and other reactions to emotional stimuli that the test assumes could not be faked in real time due to the rapid-fire nature of the questions. The question that the movie apparently answers has been important to human thought long before computers and the idea of androids, many ancient philosophers tried to reason what made humans different from other animals, Plato for example concluded that our ability to reason was the answer.

Unlike Plato, the movie initially claims that our capacity for emotional empathy, not rationality, makes us different. As the movie goes on however, the ways that this takes effect is changed. Characters introduced as human, like Deckard and the inhabitants of Earth, are shown to be cold and detached from each other despite living in such a crowded place. On the other hand, the audience sees that the replicant characters are more than capable of having feelings. In the movie we see replicants empathize with each other and with non-replicants, particularly in the climax when we see the replicant Roy empathize with Deckard even as they are fighting. The movie’s triumph is that can offer a compelling argument that humanity is an identity that must be earned while also showing how important these questions still are.