Reflecting, Reliving, Remembering & Reminiscing
Throughout the past six weeks, UOW BCM110 students have studied a series of topics that all relate to the media. The topics studied include media effects, semiotics, the public sphere, media control and issues relating to children and the media, all of which are very opinion based and subject to the ideologies of many different people.
The media was a somewhat unknown and uncertain concept to me at the beginning of this course. However, the more I practice blogging and the more contacts I make within the University, the easier it is to adapt to the expectations of constructing an informative, opinion based and well written piece of research. The topics have all been of great benefit to me, even though I feel a more favourable pull towards certain topics we studied. I have discovered that the media can be very controlling in the way they influence and present concepts through public discourse, and that there is a lot of work behind the scenes that most people are unaware of. Semiotics are interesting to me as they are subjective and require less research when discussing and analysing them. When I completed the blog task, I could interpret the text with ease because I could use my existing knowledge. The concept of the public sphere was quite difficult as terms such as “The Mediated Public Sphere” are fairly technical and required a lot of research in assurance that I was portraying the correct concept. The topic that intrigues me, to a greater extent more than the other topics, is issues relating to children and the media. Therefore, I am going to take this topic and use it as a case study to reflect what I have learned so far.
Sarah Burge was in the public sphere constantly in 2012 and is labelled as “The Real Life Barbie.” Sarah is obsessed with plastic surgery and has generated a lot of public discourse because she subjects her young children to these superficially adult practices. As reported in this article (by the Week Staff), Sarah injected her then-15-year-old daughter, Hannah, with Botox. She also bought her daughter, Poppy, a gift voucher on her 7th birthday for breast augmentation surgery, and at Christmas she bought Poppy a gift voucher for liposuction, both of which Poppy could use when she was older.
Below is an image of Poppy, then 7 years old, excitedly displaying her breast augmentation surgery voucher. The denotations of this image would be that it promotes insecurity, lack of self-esteem and may create body image issues. Poppy is standing next to vibrant red underwear that juxtaposes greatly against her as a child and inappropriately portraying her as a sex symbol. This image is clearly controversial in that its connotations show a child appearing delighted to be owner of something that basically says she is not good enough. The media would argue that Poppy should not even know what breast augmentation surgery is, and her exposure to such concepts not only affects her ideologies of body image and appearance, but may also affect other young girls’ ideologies of themselves if they view Poppy in the media and strive to be like her, which is called the cultivation theory.
Sarah denied many of these accusations, which brings up the concept of the moral panic, and whether the media is promoting child exploitation by covering it as a story. The media is very powerful and does have the ability to monitor and alter public discourse to suit their intentions. You will note from the video interview below that Poppy does not speak at all, which is a concern because talking to children to get their perspectives is a key issue. This could be seen as over-controlling on the media’s behalf.
Upon completion of these blog posts, I have learned that feelings can be affected by mood, perspectives can change over time and it is encouraged that everyone’s viewpoints differ; even my own is subject to change. I found the topics we studied to be interesting, informative and intriguing. I hope I have improved my blogging significantly over this short but educational period of time, and I will endeavour to learn new things and put my knowledge to good use in the future.
The Week Staff. 2012, ‘Human Barbie Sarah Burge: 5 reasons she’s the worst mother ever’, theweek.com, viewed 9 April 2014,
Waterlow, L. 2012, ‘Controversial ‘Human Barbie mum set to launch daughter onto U.S. pageant scene’, Daily Mail, viewed 9 April 2014,