The role of media studies when attempting to make sense of political, economic and cultural meaning in everyday life is not only most significant, but is the centerpiece of such aspects. To fully understand the true meaning and worth of media studies, the origins and complexity of the subject must be explored. Media studies has been described as a ‘controversial, unstable and yet hugely important field’1, and while the unpredictability of the subject may cause concerns of controversy and instability for some, it is this very aspect that makes the subject so unique and valuable.
Media studies’ political and economic meaning of everyday life results in our cultural understanding of Australia. The direct link to everyday life is what makes studying media so attractive. This is seen in the case of exploring the field of children’s computer games, and answering many relevant questions to this topic. The popularity, exemplification and notoriety of a text have the power to form a strong argument for or against studying one text over another.
Many will argue that media studies does not possess the rock-hard grounding that Shakespeare provides to an English subject, and there is no doubt that when compared to English, media studies looks somewhat ill-defined. It is also this comparison, however, that brings to light many poignant facts most relevant to studying media today. Political and economic meaning of everyday life goes hand in hand, and as a result creates cultural meaning. ‘News creates politics – politics creates news!
‘2 When politics is discussed from a media perspective, there is no mention of government, parliament or the Prime Minister. Media studies can create politics between two or more entities, in the sense of tension and underlying disagreement. It is fair to say that politics of the media affect our lives just as much as the politics that occur inside Parliament, and as Bazalgette argues, ‘can be more satisfying to investigate since the evidence is all around you everyday. ‘3 Economics will almost always create a political division of some capacity, especially when differing ideals collide.
In a media sense, there is no better example than the ABC, both on television and on radio, for true economic division, causing political and cultural debates all across Australia. The economic decision presented and governed by the media on a day to day basis affects all our lives, regardless whether we choose to accept it, and indeed, whether we know about it or not! With political and economic ideas and meanings of media studies so intertwined, the culture of Australian life is greatly influenced by the political and economical stances of all Australians.
Many view media studies as trivial, with an emphasis on a lack of established cultural values. How can media studies make sense of the meaning of everyday life is such cases like sitcoms, the commercial worth of Donald Duck and sporting articles? Gary Bazalgette argues that if one wants to constitute a valid argument for studying one text rather than another, there are five main answers that need exploration; Popularity, Exemplification, Notoriety, Turning Points and Aesthetic Value. ‘Popularity is a powerful argument and the one that most confidently asserts the difference between media studies and other subjects.
‘4 Bazalgette claims that studying the effect of popular items such as Star Wars movies, chart singles and computer games are justified because, put simply, a lot of people like and use such things. Here we see a direct link between media studies and the political, economic and cultural meaning of everyday life. ‘Both the media and everyday technology are rarely as powerful as they are when they have the joint talent to exploit the popular new invention. ‘5 Exploring the overuse of computer games by children today, opens up a whole new range of theoretical arguments.