Media & Money: Crash Course Media Literacy #5

Media & Money: Crash Course Media Literacy #5

Did you know Finding Dory made 486 million
dollars in 2016? Or that Barack and Michelle Obama received
65 million dollars in advance of writing their
newest books? Or that Beyonce made 105 million dollars in
2017? Those are the big bucks, people. Sure, media is a form of communication and
the foundation of our shared culture. But it’s more than a collection of songs
and books and movies and newspapers. It’s also a lot of money. The media is a big collection of massive,
money-making industries. That means most of the media you digest was
made by specific people with specific paychecks. And that money has a specific impact. Understanding how and why media is produced, the
business of it all, is key to the full media literacy picture. If last episode was about your mind on media,
today is all about your media on money. [Theme Music] Pretend for a second you’re a superstar movie
director with a string of award-winning hits. Hollywood anxiously awaits your next film,
but you’re feeling the pressure. First you’ve got to land on idea – should it be an
original film? A remake? A sequel? About what? Who’s gonna write it? You? That woman
with the funny webseries you love? A studio hack
paid by the word? Speaking of studios, who are you going to
work with? Will they have a say in what you make, and
how it’s written? Or who’s in it? Then you’ve got to shoot the thing. Find the perfect cast, build all the sets or find
locations, pay the CGI company, hire a costume
designer, make sure the schedule runs on time. And then it’s not even over!
Hopefully a distributor will pick it up. Who will see it?
How will it be advertised? Will your cast end up on every late night
show to promote it? That’s a lot of questions to answer. So instead of making decisions, you’re sitting
on your couch eating cereal and watching Scandal
reruns pretending your problems don’t exist. But you’re not a big-shot Hollywood director. (Well if you are – hit me up in the DMs.) Anyway: have you ever thought about how much
goes into a movie before it gets to your screen? Or before a video game gets to the store or
a newspaper onto your doorstep? Media is made. Every bit of it is constructed by someone,
or groups of someones. Each step of the way they’ve made choices,
too, about what to create and how to create it. And they’ve made those decisions based on
life experiences, preferences and money – who
has it, and how they can make more of it. But those choices affect you, the consumer. First, let’s focus on why media is created. Its purpose, like to entertain, inform or
persuade. The reason a piece of work is created can
be really helpful in understanding its impact. An advertisement’s purpose is to convince
the viewer to buy a product. You see an ad for soda, you know the
company created and paid for it in hopes
that you will buy their soda. Great, that’s an easy one. What about movies? You might say they’re made for entertainment,
duh. They’re for fun. And yes, movies are made to make money and
entertain. But if that was their only purpose, a lot more
movies would just be remakes of Titanic, the
greatest and most entertaining film of all time. Some movies are made to bring up important
topics and encourage cultural conversations. On the outside, Pixar’s Inside Out looks
like a film made to bring families together
through entertainment. But if you’ve seen Inside Out you know it’s really
a film designed to make you cry while contemplating
the complexity of human emotion, and how we’re all so different and yet the same. Or think about the film “Get Out.” On one level, it’s a horror movie about a man
whose girlfriend’s family wants to kill him. But along the way, the film unpacks issues
of contemporary racism and how horrifying
the modern world can be to black men. Every piece of media has many purposes, and they
each impact how the work is made from day one. If purpose is the “why” of media creation,”
the “what” is focus. Focus is the topic or subject, what we’re
including (and at the same time excluding)
when we create. Sometimes deciding what to focus on is the
name of the game – like when a newspaper can
only fit so many stories on the front page. They’re deciding what news is the most important. But sometimes focus can be a bit more…manipulative. Like that soda ad you saw earlier; it didn’t
mention how much sugar each bottle contains
or how it will affect your health. It just wants you to think about that crisp,
refreshing taste. Or a government report that touts how many jobs were
created last month, but conveniently leaves out that
most of those jobs were low-paying, temporary ones. The thing is, the purpose and focus of media
can affect how you think about other people,
especially when they’re not like you. Let’s head into the Thought Bubble to wrestle
with that a bit. Media texts have the power to impact your
understanding of things like race, ethnicity, gender,
age, disability, or sexual orientation. The way they deal with and present these topics
is called representation. Like everything else, the way different people
and places are represented in media is always
a choice. And since the mass media is disproportionately
run and created by straight white men, that means
the representations of everyone else can skew
toward stereotype. Think about a pretty common TV trope, the
“gay BFF” stereotype. There’s Kurt and Blaine from Glee. Cameron from Modern Family, Justin from Ugly
Betty. Or, throwback, Jack McFarlan from Will & Grace
and Stanford from Sex and the City. What do they all have in common? Well, as I mentioned, they’re gay men. They’re all the BFF to a major female character. Also, they’re all fashion-conscious, they
all love theater. Most of them have really broad personalities,
too. Weird how they’re all so…similar. Media representation of gay men has historically
skewed toward these stereotypical depictions, where
only one type of gay man is found on-screen. Our brains love familiar things since they’re
easier to understand. So why invest in shows written by and about
complex gay men or women, or LGBTQ people of
color, when you could save time and money by
lazily using stereotypes instead? Plus, as a familiar stereotype, this representation
can be used in mainstream media without ruffling
too many conservative feathers. That means more viewers and more money. This is a big problem for diverse cultures
that have trouble understanding each other. When minority groups are frequently stereotyped in
the media, people may start to believe the associated
stereotype is even more true. They reinforce themselves. Paying attention to how different groups and
people are represented in the media is critical. Each representation is a choice made by the creator,
sometimes because of money, and they can be used
to positively or negatively impact how we think. Thanks, Thought Bubble! Of course, every production choice isn’t part of
a grand scheme to sell more pop music or prevent
more women of color from directing films. The media is a nebulous group of individuals
all doing particular jobs. But there are people and systems at work within
the business of media that help block or perpetuate
certain stereotypes and ideologies. For instance, cultural theorist Stuart Hall
wrote about how racist ideologies are spread
through the media. He said, “It would be wrong and misleading to see
the media as uniformly and conspiratorially harnessed
to a single, racist conception of the world.” The idea of “the media” monolith doesn’t
exist. If it’s not some grand conspiracy, how do
stereotypes and ideologies like these persist? That’s right, it’s money again. Who has it, and where they want to spend it. If you’ve ever posted on Tumblr or doodled
in a notebook, you were probably able to do
that for free. But somewhere along the way, someone had to pay for
your internet access and phone or a notebook and pen. Maybe you paid for it, or your parents did. But without that money, you couldn’t have
even doodled. All types of media creation require some kind
of money. The big, fancy, mass media kind, like publishing
a newspaper or making a movie, requires a lot. And not everyone has the money to create media. When you don’t have the money to create
media, sometimes you can get other people
to pay for you to create it. Like a patron or an investor. But because media creation costs money, and
not everyone has money, it’s most often done by
people who already have it. And those who have it often want to spend
it on people and things they already know
will make more money. How do they decide who to give it to? They consider who has experience making media
that makes money. And usually that’s people who have already
had the money to make media to make money. It’s a cycle that prevents different voices
from creating different kinds of media, keeping
cultural power in the hands of a few. Critical theorists Theodor Adorno and Max
Horkheimer believed that this closely held,
homogenous mass media was dangerous. “Culture today is infecting everything with
sameness” they wrote…in 1944. They thought that mass-produced popular
culture created for profit lulled consumers into
passive contentment. No matter your situation, you’d be happy as a
clam if you could access the easy entertainment
of pop culture. At the same time, it manufactured needs in the
audience – like I need to see this movie, I need
that brand of shampoo to be happy – that could only be solved by buying more stuff. In many ways, social media has helped break this
cycle by lifting up diverse voices and challenging the
ways media is traditionally made. Social media campaigns have even
thrown the spotlight on negative or non-existent
representations in mass media. But the mega media players still tend to dominate
the scene. That’s not to say every creative decision
is based solely on money. Plenty of decisions are made for practical
reasons, or by people just doing mundane jobs. Each one may not seem like a big deal,
but when strung together they create all the
media we absorb. We spend most of our day with media, so it’s
crucial we understand what is created by who,
how, and for what reason. It’s almost as important as constantly reminding
each other that media is created. It didn’t just appear out of nowhere;
humans did that. And humans do some weird stuff, especially
for money. Next time on Crash Course Media Literacy
we’re talking about people who do it all for that
cold hard cash: advertisers. But until then, I’m Jay Smooth.
I’ll see you next time. Crash Course Media Literacy is filmed in the
Dr. Cheryl C. Kinney Studio in Missoula, MT. It’s made with the help of all of these nice
people and our animation team is Thought Cafe. Crash Course is a Complexly production. If you wanna keep imagining the world complexly
with us, check out some of our other channels like SciShow, Animal Wonders, and The Art
Assignment. If you’d like to keep Crash Course free for
everyone, forever, you can support the series
at Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that allows
you to support the content you love. Thank you to all of our patrons for making
Crash Course possible with their continued


100 thoughts on “Media & Money: Crash Course Media Literacy #5”

  • Michael Floden says:

    this should be taught in elementary school. no joke this is a huge blind spot on all 8 and 9 year olds. not every parent even thinks to explain this reality to their children.

  • If you want to learn more about the way money affects what the media says, read Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky.

  • Please do multiple part videos on Stuart Hall and representation. I need all that to be explained before my exam send help

  • Awesome piece. You should talk about social values. Like what films can and cannot show or describe about society. Political and Non-political portrayals. Religion and secularism, and indecision between them.

  • Matthew Downes says:

    There seems to be two underlying arguments/perceptions here that I find false/bigoted. 1) There is somehow an issue that "straight white men" make the majority of decisions in media creation; as if some other group could do it without influencing culture with their own biasses. 2) Conservatives supposedly take issue with the existence of homosexual character portrayal in media, though for some reason not as much when the character(s) are tropes.

    Maybe, this was just a poorly edited video; ironically however this is the kind of "media bias" that leads consumers to believe producers/creators often purposely skew their products to gender unfair/narrow-minded/untrue points of view amongst their audience. Unintentionally though, I suppose you guys proved your own point regarding the immense responsibility of artists/directors to paint a more realistic and less ignorant portrayal of the world.

  • I think showing those gay characters and simply pointing out their similarities would have made the point well enough. You can say 'We can achieve much broader representation going forward' without painting those characters as lazy, completely two-dimensional stereotypes. It's a little obtuse and disrespectful to the people who they represent.

  • So you mentioned Adorno and Horkheimer, are you going to mention Siegfried Kracauer's thesis of how the sameness of media and the idyllic Weimar Republic films lead to the rise of Nazism?
    Otherwise, I wonder if this series will also touch on Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman's book Manufacturing Consent?

  • TheGr8stManEvr says:

    Social media has changed things, which is why the ruling elite are cracking down on independent voices on social media. Adpocalypse is an example of this.

  • Arguably the representation of subgroups in Hollywood are designed to benefit those subgroups, even if they are/were written by straight, white men. The stereotype of the quick-witted, fashion-loving, girl's best friend, gay man, for instance, was crafted to combat the decidedly dark and more sinister image of gay men in media before then. The change in the that public image allowed equal rights legislation to go forward. Often when the histories of such things are written, there is tendency (of academics in particular) to go after easy targets, condemning these simplistic stereotypes rather than contextualising their role in changing public discourse about minority groups. Often progressive changes are viewed in hindsight as inevitable; they are not.

  • Jennifer Isaacs says:

    Supply and demand? I think besides wealthy there are some things that leave more power to all sorts that decide with money. Advertising , symbolism, and propaganda sure influences money. Though there is more to how money works per culture, place, government, education system, and entertainment from media.
    Some things are given censorship or banned. Not all translation of language is easy. Such as at times there isn't even words that translate exactly, but one can only get close in such communication.

    With money it does make some difference in what people see most, and even when money has media on it in creation by money. Yep all the words on pictures and money most just really pay no attention much , but pay attention to what worth it represents whatever currency.

  • This series is great! Unfortunately, you've probably attracted the wrath of the 'rational skeptics' and their alt-right dislike brigades now that you've mentioned Frankfurt School theorists. Take cover! It's a good thing you didn't mention The Devil Herself, or you'd be getting right-wing death threats and mass-flagging by now.

  • It's Amazing this guy admits media can be used to "persuade" a viewer.But Republicans will say Russia working thru Facebook, Cambridge Analylitica,WikiLeaks and Fox news had no effect on the 2016 Election in favor of the Kremlin Imposter ,Donald Dump.

  • Seriously the talking points and information presented in this series is increasingly important in today’s day and age I think so many others would benefit from exposure to this show.

  • Good show. But its not lost on me that THIS is media created by a "who, how, and for what reason" – and I don't think its a purely selfless effort to educate young people. I did enjoy it though!

  • Minh Trang Đặng says:

    Just purchased Youtube Red to watch BTS's show (the Asian boy band that was awarded Top Social Artist 2017) right before landing on this series of CrashCourse. Seems like I would learn a lot through watching both shows simultaneously.

  • Don't leave out how most are christian. There are religious stereotypes of minorities too. The jerk Atheist, the weird new-age Wiccan, the evil Satanist, the good christian, and the token Jew thrown in to show "diversity".

  • Kew Gardens Station says:

    I can remember back in the day that people were more interested in the content of media (such as movies and books), rather than how much money that media made.

    The Obamas received 65 million dollars advance for their book? Great. Has anyone read it? How was it? What did you learn?

    Finding Dory made 486 million dollars? So what. The highest movie gross adjusted for inflation is still Gone With The Wind, and that was released in 1939! Would you say Finding Dory is a better movie?

    Beyoncé made 105 million dollars last year? Great. Unfortunately, I don't care much for her music.

    The idea that media should be judged on the amount of money it earns simply means that most people today are cynics. You know what a cynic is?

    It's someone who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.

  • Mass media is run predominantly by leftist virtue signalers intent on social justice nonsense. Their gender and race is irrelevant to anyone with critical thinking skills. This is why establishment media sources are foundering and losing subscribers hand-over-fist. Including virtue signalling nonsense like Crash Course…

  • I couldn't name a singular CrashCourse series I love either. I love them all too! I can't even imagine the amount of time and effort that goes into the scripts, but that does not stop me from appreciating them every episode I watch ^^ Have a great day everyone!

  • On the one hand, I'm very happy that a CC video that mentions race is a thing that affects society isn't vote-bombed like CC Sociology.

    On the other hand, the comments are still full of angry people, and the fact that this show is hosted by a guy instead of a woman might have something to do with the numbers.

    Cue angry people responding to this post that points them out, invariably proving the argument I'm making with knee-jerk defensive responses…

  • DrMatthewPhilipps says:

    As a point of clarification: it’s the homogeneous nature of Hollywood that creates a lack of representation, and not necessarily that Hollywood is straight white men.

  • Imho, while it's the responsibility of the consumers to analyze their media properly, I firmly believe it's also the job of content creators to be responsible for the media they create. Stereotypes will always exist regardless of your political leanings or values, but I think it'd be more helpful for the industry's creativity if such ideas were not constantly recycled or other ideas were explored. Ideally, content creators should be more worried about the message of their products rather than making money.

  • It's incredible how many times I've had to explain myself. "Yes, I'm gay but no, I don't care all that much about fashion or musical theatre and no, I don't wave my hands all over the room. Those are stereotypes, that is one of many ways to be gay. There is no single way to be an engineer, there is also no single way to be gay."

  • Disappointing. One more CC series took the predictable route of identity politics. Goodbye, educators. Hello, ideologues.

  • The core motivation is making money – obviously. If a company putting hundreds of millions of dollars into a production is expected to inject nuance in representation of peoples it causes risks of negative reception. That's why you have stereotypical short-hands that go the least controversial route. It's an issue by design that's what we get.

  • Oh wow. CrashCourse never fails to amaze me. You guys are making a media literacy course! Perfect timing for it. In this day and age we live in.

  • I love this. As a design student, it feels super relevant to everything I am learning and doing right now. I really appreciate your discussion of the need for more empathy driven representations of diverse peoples and cultures. Will the series get more in-depth into visual rhetoric and semiotic theory?

  • The Bass is Loaded says:

    I really appreciate this episode, in particular that the depiction of gays in the media is addressed specifically. As a gay male who was a teen when Will & Grace was at its height, I was really put off by the show because I couldn't identify with the characters, and it's not the only example, just the most vivid one. While I enjoy watching a play or musical from time to time, I've never been one for showtunes; I like rock, jazz, classical, and even a little bit of heavy metal. I may have a good eye for color and be able to help friends pick out clothes, but I don't dress like it–I'm more interested comfort and budget. I'm not skinny, I don't have short carefully trimmed hair, and at the time I wasn't clean-shaven. (I've also never liked light beer, but we'll skip over the underage drinking part.) I've heard people praise the show, but it left me with more feelings of alienation: in the early 2000s there were still plenty of negative things going around about gay people, but I didn't see any gay people like me in the media, even the supposedly "positive" examples, who were often reduced to punchlines anyway.

    Even a couple of years later in college near Philadelphia, I found it hard to fit in with the actual gay community, and I can't help thinking that popular media portrayals of gay stereotypes, no matter how "positive" were reinforced so much that they were internalized by the gay community, whether as ways of identifying each other or as ways of being a "good gay." There were no examples of an overweight, long-haired rock & roll type of gay guy in the media, and nobody knew what to do with me. (At least it's a bit better now.)

    Things like this have given me more appreciation for characters who are well-rounded, where such a piece of identity is a trait rather than the defining feature of the character. It's also opened me up to looking more critically at how other groups are portrayed in the media, especially in comedy: is someone's identity part of their character, or is it just a punchline?

  • When this video says "the media is owned by white, straight, men," it seems to be quilty of creating the same problems this seris was originally created to help prevent. Also is this video implying that a group of black men could somehow better identify with gay men? This video is the worst in the series, it is filled with biggoted opinions, but they produces are to blinded by their ideology to see this.

  • Speaking of media, I just watch the weirdest ad before this video, featuring clay Spider-Man putting mini red and pink Spider-Men to sleep and then hulk, jack and Elsa were in a race without anything said???????

  • Christian Nielsen says:

    reeaallly appreciate the fact this subject was added to this channel. When I first saw this guy i was thinking "WTF? Where's Hank?!" but after watching all 6 episodes released, I like Jay Smooth a lot. Anxiously awaiting the next episode today…

  • ciaraa bridget says:

    i absolutely love this show, this series is so informative and tackles so many current issues that i really believe it should be compulsory in schools

  • Watching the video sped up by 1.5 seems more natural than watching it at the normal speed. Did they slow down the audio? Or is Jay just that Smoooothhhh

  • Jack is a stereotype, but Will isn't. And Will is the best friend and a main character. I feel like Jack is almost making the same point but in a meta way. Will is the the character that is implied more gay characters should be like.

  • Conner Bradley says:

    I don’t like it when my education is biased. Hard to avoid though. Good and important series otherwise.

  • I think another factor behind representation is the experience of writers in their chosen medium. For instance, if someone is a playwright and they want to write a gay character, chances are the people they’ve surrounded themselves with are also into theatre and some may be gay. Because of this, even gay characters based on real people can fulfill stereotypes (such as the gay theatre buff) because of the writer’s limited worldview.


    A good reminder of why people lean on using stereotypes, and to always critique the creator. We all have agendas, if you go in with eyes open, you can choose what you want to take or leave from each piece of media. Where/who the money comes from can tell a lot about the agenda. Good to teach our kids how to critically evaluate media too! Doesn’t mean not curiously exploring other viewpoints, but to be aware of how certain messages trigger us, your mind on media, and to be aware of them so not sleepwalking through experience.

  • Umeshkumar Patil says:

    whatever they talk we don't understand very bakwas…😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴 and very boring and feel like to sleep if we hear….😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😱😰😨😧😱😱😱😱😷😷😷🤒🤒🤒🤕🤕🤕🤧🤧🤧😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴

  • Representation. So all straight white men have the same perspective and tell the same story; Hitler, Schindler, Bono, the uni-bomber… all the same. Same goes with all black women… all gay X… It's almost as if "representation" puts people into stereotypical identity groups and assumes that they can be collectively "represented" because they are, of course, all the same.. based on arbitrary cataloging performed by.. who? And here I thought every human being had a unique voice, silly me.

  • What is the biggest reason that there is poor representation of minorities in media? Also social media has helped break the cycle of sameness and poor representation of minorities by lifting diverse voices true or false

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