What is your relationship with media technologies? When we say things like “I love television,” “I hate the internet,” or “I can’t live without music, ” we implicitly answer this question without explicitly asking it. In her new book, 20th Century Media and the American Psyche: A Strange Love (Routledge 2021), Dr. Charisse L’Pree (MIT SB ’03 CMS, SB ’03 Course 9) addresses the strange love that we have with communication technology – specifically over the past 150 years – and how these relationships with past mediums inform our relationships with newer technologies.
In this talk, L’Pree discusses the role of interdisciplinary research and how she has maneuvered a wide variety of methodologies, including quantitative, qualitative, critical, and applied, in order to answer life’s questions.
About Charisse L’Pree
At Syracuse University, Charisse L’Pree teaches classes on communication and diversity to professional media students, specifically how do media affect our understanding of different social categories and how do the social categories of media producers affect the media with which we all engage. She has mentored over 50 McNair Scholars across disciplines at the University of Southern California, Loyola Marymount University, and Syracuse University since 2008 and was awarded Teacher of the Year from the Newhouse graduating class of 2017.
The following is a transcript generated by Otter.ai, with human corrections during and after. For any errors the human missed, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vivek Bald 00:47
Charisse is an associate professor of Communications at the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She holds bs degrees in brain and cognitive science and comparative media studies from MIT. I am assuming that you were one of the earliest majors, undergrad majors and CMS. Technically, my degree says humanities because CMS was not yet a labeled major. So I do have a Bachelors of Science in humanities from MIT. It’s a very proud piece of paper I keep on my wall. So you were ahead of your time. There was, I think, four of us who graduated in my semester, one of which is in our attendees.
Charisse L’Pree 01:38
But yeah, there’s only Yeah, there’s only four of us who graduated last semester.
I think it became a named major two years undergrad, Major, two years laters maybe 2005.
Vivek Bald 01:48
Wow, great. Well, um, so then Charisse went on. To get a master’s degree from the School of Cinematic Arts and a PhD in social psychology from the University of Southern California. Charisse’s work focuses on how media affects the way we think about ourselves, and others, as well as how we use media to construct and reaffirm positive identities. Her most recent book, 20th Century Media and the American psyche, about which she’ll be speaking today investigates changes to the communication environment over the past 150 years, and how these rapid yet pervasive shifts have affected our psychology at Syracuse University. Charisse teaches classes on communication and diversity to professional media students, specifically how to do media. How do media affect our understanding of different social categories? And how do the social categories of media producers affect the media with which we all engage? She has mentored over 50 McNair Scholars across disciplines at the University of Southern California, Loyola Marymount University, and Syracuse University since 2008, and was awarded Teacher of the Year from the Newhouse graduating class of 2017. So welcome, or welcome back.
Charisse L’Pree 03:19
Thank you. It’s very exciting to be here. I feel like my face a little red. Comparative Media Studies and frankly, MIT in general, And since then, like my overall goal in leaving or at that time, you know, 18 years ago, this dream can now draw this dream can almost vote was to make media better to make to improve the media environment. And I feel like I’ve really had that opportunity specifically with teaching critical thinking skills to media producers. So I knew how students can’t major in theory, they major in
broadcast journalism, newspaper, journalism, advertising, PR, television, radio, film, or like photography and multimedia design. So by imparting these skills to people who are actually going out and making media and affecting the discourse, I feel like I’m really having a direct impact on the quality of media, and fostering producers that can create content that is disruptive, and encourages other people to meet more deeply about media and the world in which they live. So that’s it. So that’s, that’s kind of I don’t know if that’s an introduction, but it’s a real context for what I’ve been doing over the past 18 years. And for, and I assume everyone to read the scan took a listen, that was thoroughly enjoyable. So out of curiosity, quick show of hands, how many of you listened to the thing? Okay, cool. And how many of you read it? Okay, a few other few different ones. Okay, cool. Thank you. I’m really curious as to the experiential difference in these spaces around. In this case, audio, only media versus visual media, I feel like I make the argument in the third, second chapter, second chapter, section one, on the role of the power of audio, to enact enable, activate feelings of presence, and the way in which we have become so accustomed to having, for example, our favorite musician, in our home, in our bed in our shower with us in the car, right, singing just to us, technically, they’re singing to a whole bunch of people, but they’re singing just for us. And that,
that personal intimacy that comes with audio media is, frankly, 150 years old, and yet it has become so normalized. So it was a delight to read that and create that content and thinking, well, this is for everyone, but knowing that people would be listening to it by themselves. So you know, you spend so much time writing a book and putting all your words into happy little text, and then to suddenly hear yourself talk through it is, it was really striking and kind of an embodiment of the claims that I make in the book in the first place. But I did get an email from a buddy of mine who’s reading it was like, reading this book is awesome, it feels like I’m in a conversation with you. And so, you know, being able to actually bring that to fruition through the power of recorded audio, I talked about recorded music, but in the power of recorded audio, was a delightful opportunity. So, um, well, what I had promised to you today in the talk was to kind of talk a little bit about the book, but also to chart this sort of cross methodological journey. And so I use the term cross methodological, more than mixed methods. because traditionally speaking, when we say mixed methods, we’re saying, you know, I’m doing a study here in this fashion, in this fashion, and in this fashion, and combining multiple methodologies into one larger setting. When I say cross methodology, I literally mean, well, what did we learn from this method? And how can we combine this method with this other method to get at a more nuanced explanation of some global or psychological or media phenomenon? And I will say, you know, I feel like it’s an absolute privilege to be able to do that, especially when we talk about academia that’s so desperately siloed. Right? That if your methods don’t fit into the methods that have been done, that may work against you later. So I put that out there that it’s very much a privilege that I’ve had the opportunity to do this and I’ve had
Charisse L’Pree 09:46
advisors, including Professor Ravel, I’ve had advisors the kind of like my current stuff, and it’s kind of cross methodological approaches. And then I could talk a little bit about what is media psychogeography is and the goals of the book itself. And then I’m happy and excited to talk about your research. Like I said, like Professor ball said, I am. I’ve mentored dozens of McNair Scholars. McNair Scholars. I don’t know if anybody know what a McNair Scholar is. Okay. McNair. So McNair is the Ronald E. McNair program. We don’t have one at MIT, which is fine. It’ll become ironic. As soon as I tell you why. Ronald E. McNair was a PhD graduate from MIT, first black man in outer space. It was not George Clinton, or Sun Ra. Don’t worry about those are jokes at the expense of afrofuturism. So yeah, first black men in outer space. And he died on the challenger. And so it’s a federally funded program to encourage students of color first gen college students, low income students to pursue PhDs and pursue research. So I’ve had the privilege of working with literally dozens of students who are
not generationally familiar with the phenomenon of research, but are very excited about it. And what I’ve noticed in these conversations is this eagerness to answer questions that have come through their mind through through their lives come through their eyes, in unique ways, but also a general frustration with the structure of,
of what is traditional research, right? So I’ve spent a lot of time talking students through, you know, sociology, students, history students, media, students, psych students, business students, engineering students, through ways in which to answer the questions that plague them in ways that will fit into simultaneously the expectations of academia and to fulfill their own to seek out the answers that they find most fulfilling.
Charisse L’Pree 12:23
I will say, and I talked about this in the book, you know, like, just those early observations that first time when I had a real epiphany about media biases, when I realized that little boys were always the ones who screamed, I won in game commercials. And it’s funny, because they always have these very diverse groups. And so this willingness to think differently and ask more questions and not be satisfied with the answers that you’re getting, I think are so essential to life. And then when we talk about media, as this is Comparative Media Studies, the extent to which we’ve been asked not to question media is really striking. Write that. And as somebody who teaches media students, now media producers, asking why something is, is not necessarily a good use of time, when you need to turn out an article in 24 hours, it’s not a good use of time, when you need to turn out a news package in 12 hours, right media moves so fast, that we’re not allowed to even stop and think more deeply about it. And so that was part of what brought me to this exercise. Actually, before we get to that, going through
MIT, I was a core seven, which is biology. And I wanted to be a geneticist, I went to all those nerd camps in college like brown and Columbia, and did genetics. And then I got to organic chemistry, which was 512. And it kicked my butt. Because organic chemistry is not chemistry. It’s physics. And I suck at physics. So that happened. I ended up dropping out of school because I was in a not a good position for a wide variety of other reasons. I actually started college, I actually started MIT at 16.
wouldn’t recommend it.
But not necessarily because 16 is inherently a bad number. But my mother was very protective. So when I went to college, it was like the first freedom I ever experienced. And it was it was a lot there.
Charisse L’Pree 17:02
So anyway, I end up dropping out of school without real direction and work suddenly becoming hard. And then I had this epiphany with which the whole book starts and I went back and got degrees in Brain and Cog and Media Studies. And for me, I was always asking questions across these two disciplines. You know, using brain and cog to think about media, using media to think about Brain and Cog. One of my favorite course 9 papers I ever wrote was for animal sex behavior. And I don’t remember who taught the class I should look that up. And I wrote a paper on the multiple mating habits of human beings, and basically closed it with a critical psychological investigation of pimpin culture, which was quite big at the time, you know, 50 cent p i m p, Jay Z, all those really big in, in the pop culture and thinking through how women are framed as a commodity. Both in the animal world The bigger your harem, the you know, more impressive male you are and applying that to mediated culture. I got a C in that class, but it is still my favorite paper.
So then, when I graduated from MIT, I tried to write a book called The media made me crazy. It was gonna be a critical autobiography about how the media caused me such emotional strife. I wrote up a proposal I sent it David Thorburn David Thorburn responded and said it was the most naive thing he’d ever read. I broke down in tears, and realized I need to learn how to write. So I went and got a Master’s at USC, and critical, critical studies in the School of Cinematic Arts, and then a PhD in the social psych department. And again, I was privileged to have advisors my advisor was Steve Reed and Lynn Miller, who’s in Annenberg at USC. Never tell me No. And even though Steve’s area, Steve Reed’s area was not media. He was constantly just saying, Okay, if that’s the question you want to ask, this is how we will answer it from a psychological perspective. And that was that kind of support is what I tried to bring, not just to the students, but also to myself. So this book now the psychology of 20th Century Media, or excuse me, 20th Century Media in the American psyche. The goal is really to think about how these new communication capacities, the ability for us to be looking at each other real time miles apart, is remarkable. And frankly, There’s been a lot of discussion about like how zou popped off out of nowhere, but now literally within a year, since pandemic and we can talk about how pandemic accelerated everything. Zoom is now a verb, right? It took Google at least 10 years to become a verb. Now, it’s, you know, we, we expect to zoom. In fact, I think it wasn’t with press one, I was calling somebody else. And we had a zoom meeting, and I called him on his phone. And he’s like, oh, are we doing this on the phone, I’m like, yeah, I’m in the car, we’re doing this on the phone. And like, just the idea of going backwards in communication strategies was so foreign, right, we’re always having meetings, on the zoom. Now. I also like to save the before platforms, it makes me feel delightfully old, like the Facebook and the Twitter.
So really thinking through these technologies that have become so ingrained in our lives, the phone, the ability to connect with loved ones, and talk to them in real time, across distance, again, is frankly, only about less than 100 years old, when we start to look at how quickly it was adopted, and when it hits saturation, and so on and so forth is less than 100 years old. But it just becomes so normal to the point where my three year old is like, yeah, let’s call so and so. Right. And so I really wanted to think about this, this historiography, or to do a historiography. And I’m probably using the term incorrectly, but I really like it, to do a historiography of how media has impacted our psychology over time. Because psychologists for the most part are so distanced from history, they really like to say, you know, this is what we do. This is how we think, and kind of map that onto how we have always thought, but one of the arguments I make in the interview with Henry, I think that was also shared is, so much of psychology is based in people like manipulations, psychological manipulations, are based in media usage. So reading a passage and then manipulating this passage to feature one name or another different argument, showing you a picture, right, all of that has become so normalized. But literally 150 years ago, literacy was way, way down. And we didn’t have photorealistic pictures. So everything that we measure in psychology is largely based in a world that we have forgot, is based in today. And we’ve kind of forgotten about what happened before the world we live in today existed. And so that was always very troubling to me. And especially as we talked about it with media, you know, that communication, specifically communication technologies, in this case, mass media, for the most part, media that disseminate mass messages are, there’s so new, they’re very new, we talked about just a blink in the human eye, and you know, human history, they’re new. And yet they’re so normal. And so it was a delight to sit down and kind of collate all of this research in a conversational way to think, you know, how do these technologies actually impact us? And change how we engage with the world? And how have they done that so remarkably, in such little time? So I’ll just say, and then I can pause or stop. I don’t want I want to answer questions like I want to make myself available and hear about the work you guys are doing. Y’all are doing read somewhere else like oh, y’all is a much better term, you guys. Let’s see here. Oh, hold on. Let’s see. Sure. So as we think about this, I’ll just hit a couple quick slides.
Charisse L’Pree 24:04
When we talk about a media psychography, I’m talking about the examination of how the collective psyche impacts and has been impacted by media psychologies,
by media technologies. So literally looking to our own history with media, how did you come to understand yourself through the communication technologies that have become available to you over your lifetime? It’s very easy for us to talk about how writing or reading impacted us. But we often don’t think about the other dimensions, the other technological affordances. So by looking to our own histories with media rather than succumbing to the allure of newness, I think this is right out of the intro, we can further unpack relationships that users develop with media and provide insight into how people might build future mediated relationships. So this whole book also is rooted in a class that I teach called psychology of interactive media. ask students to production students to think upstream about why people use media so that we can anticipate what people might do downstream. And I’ll just, I’ll close with that. I’ll stop talking with this one. I can also show you my lovely little, actually got a couple a couple more.
Um, I’ll just all come here that, yeah, I had a whole order, and then I’m not using it. So I apologize, I will say. So for those of you who read it, I didn’t technically include the images or describe them. So that’s on me. But this is also basically my argumentation, that we have a new technology that’s developed. This technology enables novel strategies for communication, widespread adoption of the technology, then those novel communication strategies become social norms, social norms, change culture, customs and institutions. And then we demand new communication strategies which relate to new technological development.
I will say as we think about as we think about and I’ll close with this slide,
as we think about oh, this is terrible. Alright, well, it’s just a very small, so I apologize. As we think about the different ways. media can be conceptualized, I can’t I argued for this fit taxonomy. Let me see if I
get a better picture.
That’s not working anymore. No, okay, I’m gonna get a better picture perception.
As we think about technologies, we can start to break them down into different structures. So what I’m going to do is actually, I’m just going to zoom in here and then blow this up for you. I apologize again, for not having a better image.
Okay, so that we have a format. It’s non visual audio, static text, static images, synchronize video and interactive video, and whether that’s delivered in analog electronic formats or digital formats. And then we get into industry and content journalism, advertising, entertainment, and peer to peer. So we see in this graph in this image, we see that the gray areas are basically areas where there is no research on the impact of race and gender in those dimensions in those media platforms. And so we start to see when we think about media differently, where the questions have been answered and where they have not. And I think that that’s a really important component for any media scholar to consider is, what questions have been answered. But more importantly, which questions were we unable to even consider because we weren’t thinking about media in this format. So I can stop here, this probably seems like a good place to stop, I could also walk you through the outline of the book and the different claims that I make in the three different sections intimacy, regularity, and reciprocity. Very briefly, I’ll show you this, this happy little graph, which is what I presented at MIT 10 when Andrew and I met in 2019. But basically, I make the argument that intimate media like theatrical film recorded music and consumer market cameras, as well as regular media. So media that is integrated into our daily lives, like radio network television and cable television, and reciprocal media. So media that responds to our actions like magnetic tape, video gaming, and dial up, ISP is
Charisse L’Pree 29:06
all impact 21st century media practices. And we can only see how they do that by spending more time with media that we effectively now called defunct.
Let’s start with that. I like the word default. So I’ll happily pause here, stop here. and invite questions, thoughts here a little bit about your research. Or we can keep talking so I’ll throw to Professor ball to to moderate from here. Thanks for letting me tell my story though.
Vivek Bald 29:43
Thank you. I wanted to just ask with regard to you in the introduction, you you talk about you know the this historical process of of, you know, of groups of people becoming accustomed to particular particular forms of interaction around particular forms of media that then that then conditioned the way that we understand and use initially new forms of media. And there’s there’s sort of a back and forth between what your, what you’re describing as, as new and what you’re describing, as as old. Right? That there’s not a not a clear break, but this this kind of, ongoing process of, or cycles of adaptation and change. And so I just wanted to ask if you could talk a little bit about this, the tension between sameness and newness, right, that that sort of appears in, in what you’re describing? And there’s, there’s sort of a follow up question to about about generations. But but we can get to that in a second.
Okay, cool. So I was about to start writing down your questions. Once you get into two parts, I’m like, I’m gonna write that one down. So same, same, but different, and I think is one of my favorite averages that somebody said, I think is on because traveling with some Aussies, and they kept saying same same but different. You know, I think was Brits Same, same, but different. So I will say, and one of the points that I make is I only ever use new and old as relative terms, right? One media is newer, in the grand timeline of things than some other medium. I try not to categorize media as new. But at the same time,
Charisse L’Pree 32:04
new technologies, rhetorically speaking, we use new technologies as an easier way to fulfill old habits, right, so […], New Media engaged with old brains, that we use new media to fulfill old habits. So when the cell phone was the cell phone, it was a phone. And like, we got to use a phone wherever we wanted to use this phone. And then we learned that there was this thing called text messaging. And Americans were way late on that game, right? We were so consumed with using the phone as a phone.
And now we don’t even use the phone as a phone anymore. Because these these other opportunities, email, social media, video games, all of those things, become the dominant use of the computer in our pocket, even though we still technically call it a phone. So I think that to come back to what I was starting to write is the tension between the idea of sameness and different is that we, and this is the claim I make about it being in a relationship with media, we lead in every, in every new relationship, we expect to at the very least have all the good things that we had from the last relationship. And so that’s, that’s the baggage we bring to every new relationship. And I probably shouldn’t use baggage. So flippantly, but you know, that’s the baggage we bring to every new relationship is the joys and fears of our last relationship. And I argue that if we think about media technology in that relational lens, what is the baggage that we’re bringing to every new relationship? And how does that impede us frequently from being able to see the potential everything in this new relationship that could happen? When in reality, we’re looking at this new relationship through the lens of our old relationships? And if we map that on to media, how are we looking at this new, temporarily, temporarily, right, time wise, new media medium, through the baggage of our old mediums. And I think that that baggage of our old mediums is not just how we engage with it technology, but it becomes a way of understanding ourselves, right? There’s what you bring to every new relationship is a residual from the old relationship, but it’s a residual of the old relationship, because it still resides within you. And so that’s basically the argument that I’m trying to make that with every new technology, the only constant is us. And in that constant, but that constant itself has been evolving, because we have all been moving through these technologies, arguably together. For as I argue, in this case, 150 years and earlier, that answer your question.
Vivek Bald 34:54
Yeah, and it kind of it connects somewhat to the second part. We Is that that, you know, also in the introduction, you you speak about you draw a distinction between different regions of the world, for example, that are differently resource that have different motive are amounts of access to different kinds of technologies. And you draw a distinction in terms of the being able to sort of make make statements about the psychological relationship to media in one place based upon another. Right. You sort of cautioned against that, right. What what I was curious about in reading that, and thinking about the, like, aspects of generational change is, is that, you know, what you’re describing in terms of, you know, bringing the baggage of our past media use to each new medium, of course, generationally, there will be, you know, folks younger than us whose engagement with with the new media is actually their originary engagement. Right. to, to the extent that, in some ways, you might argue that the generational differences might start to look more like the kinds of geographic distance differences that you are, are speaking about as well. And I was wondering, you know, about, about that, or, you know, what can we say about? You know, is there a kind of essentially different psychological engagement with technology from one generation to another?
Charisse L’Pree 37:06
I mean, I would say, Yes, I will say, I’ll make a point that, I do caution against generalizing a small sample, right, because I, ever since I read that weird article from Heinrich at all, Heinrich, something and Nora […].
I apologize for forgetting the second author, but that weird article about social science, and that is that social science researchers look at Western educated, industrialized, rich, democratic nations, and that and then they go and say, Oh, this is generalizable to everybody. Like, as somebody who has largely been outside of the intersectional space that is generalized. And as somebody who has been taught to study those who are in that intersectional space, I’m very salient. It’s very salient to me about what I should and should not be generalizing to, by which I mean to say, I’ve definitely had reviewers asked me where my white control is, right? Why don’t you have a white control when I’m doing research literally on black and Latino populations. I’ve looked at my own datasets and just seen dominance of white women, in the case of psych research, that are at private institutions studying college, right, like this sample is so narrow, so I’m just always very hesitant of saying that this is generalizable to everyone. At the same time, the whole book is called the American psyche, right? Having said that, I try to acknowledge my own generational situatedness. Like in the very first paragraph, this is where I am. And I tried not to include it just in the interest of, you know, privacy. But I do talk about it in the third part with Henry about watching my own child, engage. And like my husband, and I was five years older than I am, right. And that’s when I are sitting here just like watching him, come up on the Alexa and be like, Alexa, I want this song, and Alexa just plays it, I will have you know that he has now discovered Who let the dogs out. And so that is playing on loop in our house, which is not cool. And in case you don’t know about it, that song is totally about sex. And it makes me very uncomfortable. But he loves it. And you know, it’s it’s just remarkable to watch his desires be met immediately. And us know that when we were his age, the only desire that could be met immediately was probably the book that was on the floor. Right But he his infinite desires are met immediately and he will grow up with and we’re just trying to instill you know, some level of delayed gratification. I’ve just heard I’ve run them through the marshmallow test every few days. But because everything is so immediate to him, I can’t even begin to think about what his generation will be like when it comes to this expectation of on demand. Like, we came into on demand culture, we came to understand it as adults, we’re like, oh, I can watch this now. Instead, this new generation is like, I should be able to watch this. Now, I’m guaranteed to watch this now, how dare you not let me watch this now? And I’m, I’m fascinated by it. I do think that generational differences because of the speed at which things advance do have the power to become divisions on par with geographical distances and geographical distances seem to be collapsing. Right. So our understanding of different groups of people and what we have known groups of people to be geographically disparate, for example. What’s his name? Is it Friedman, who wrote the world is flat, right? That the geographical distances have fallen, have become less impactful, less impactful, still less impactful, whereas the generational differences become striking. And it is left up to us, you know, a generation coming into content to move faster, because the generation born into the content, right, what is it? digital natives, that the phrase they use, are and that’s got all sorts of problems unto itself. But let’s keep going for now. Like, their expectation of what is normal in the world, is something that we have to learn to be normal. And I think that
i think that that difference has the power to have some really interesting and important intergenerational conversations and connections, it just doesn’t seem as evident when you’re, you know, when your child can do more on your iPad that you can.
Vivek Bald 42:16
Um, well, let me let me open things up to questions from our students or from, from our attendees via the q&a.
I’ll also while we think about it, I’ll just go ahead and just describe, just give you a little bit of some of the research that I’ve done most recently, very briefly. So my research interests fall across representation of groups in media content, using media to construct identity and disrupt discourse and testing the potential of technology. And these are some of the pubs and auto ethnographic textual analysis of all American Girl, qualitative analysis of Caribbean, multiracial Caribbean and how they use social media, satirical education, or educational satire, learning and laughing on Last Week Tonight, I’m actually working on a textbook right now on satire and diversity. So that’s pretty interesting. content analysis of early youth created music videos on YouTube. avoidant engagement, which is a collection of quantitative studies arguing for a theoretical and practical model of interactivity and persuasion. So basically, what happens when you can skip ads, it makes you like the platform more and hate the brand, like the platform and hate the brand. And then this is a fun little cross section, we look at a qualitative, quantitative or critical. So these are just some of the things I’ve been working on over the past couple years, and the diversity of research questions. But in the end, all of them are to get at the same question, which is to talk about your slip of the tongue at the beginning. How do we media, right, how to media how do we media? So I was still readable. Awesome. I think that was my I’m sorry, I’m bad with chats. That was my table from Forever Ago. Thank you, Andre. questions, thoughts? Angry rejections of my theory. I want to go Tomas, can you pronounce your name for me?
Tomás Guarna 44:36
Um, and yeah, the question was around that about the pronunciation. So, um, so something that we’ve been thinking about lately in in the department, we have a small reading group that’s concerned with letting American media studies just reading media studies from Latin America, and understanding how these traditional media studies kind of goes with all that America studies with understanding cultural studies, that kind of stuff. And I think I understand your work goes in its directions, right? You address terms of Latina Latina x media, and the things that I think the last few years are getting more and more attention. And I was wondering if you could give some insights on whether on road you see that going, if you think there’s a How do you approach understanding Latino audiences? And maybe if we were thinking about what advice you could give to students, we’re approaching this topic maybe?
Sure. Thank you. I will say that. My expertise is in processes of subgroup media. So I will I will outright say that my expertise is not in Latin x media. I do look at subgroups specific and how subgroups use media. So if we were talking about how observations of Latin x people in the United States I’m not going to talk about in Latin America, because I will not be able, that’s not my expertise. And I hope that my perspective and methodology inspire you to ask similar questions around different media practices. I think a big piece of how we’re talking about it. I will also say so I do have work on multiracial Caribbean’s, but my family is British Caribbean, I’m British guy knees. So it’s always funny people like, oh, you’re from South America, so you must speak Spanish and like, No, you don’t. You’ve missed some points here. That it’s a much more complicated thing, then you’ve come from this geographic region, therefore, you must be this. But and I think that that sentiment is still very much is. In my observations, I think that sentiment is very much pervasive in New Media discussions, new media’s and digital social media, user generated content in the subgroups, any given subgroup where they’re demanding people to think differently about their existence. And that’s what we’re talking about Latin x media in the United States, where many of these that have been marginalized for such a long time. The content that I’m observing is very much about pushing back on faulty understandings of a group. So I think that the question needs to be divided between what happens with Latin x media, where Latin x is a numerical minority, and I put their culture on that, and we can get into that and changing numbers and so on and so forth. But where it has been either a numerical minority or historically marginalized group, and how we see media being used to talk back to these norms, both for people who have internalized those norms, like remember, that stereotype you saw on television, isn’t you? And to people who are not part of this group, right? That there’s a very complicated question there. And I look forward to your work if you’re doing research on Latin x populations in Latin x media in Latin America. how those voice what voices have not historically been heard, and how one of the papers that I have is on target versus total marketing, and basically the oxymoron of the total market, that inevitably we have this idea that we are all x, whatever x is, but at the same time, we’re constantly pursuing this individuated conversation. So I look forward to hearing about how media technologies are used to tell which stories and which stories are getting more coverage
Charisse L’Pree 48:46
in any given community and population. So the answer your question is
Tomás Guarna 48:51
yeah, and definitely some issues that we’re we’re speaking about, and it’s a small group that with that might have questions was also years ago, grad students, and gave us also all things here, too. But yeah, we’re definitely talking about this issues about also what it means to be that to America and Latina x, and what maybe the ideas of globalization or presentation mean there. So definitely, thank you for the answer.
Charisse L’Pree 49:13
Absolutely. And I would also always, always invite you that every theory that you read, regardless of who wrote it, ask yourself what does this mean for our population? And what does this mean our population of interest, right? Our population of interest and our media, does it fit? Does it not fit? And if it doesn’t fit, how does the theory need to evolve? And that is the voice that I’m very excited to hear from you. Whoo. Yes Professor Ravel?
Jeff Ravel 50:00
Hi, Charisse great talk. Thank you. I’d like to hear more about your critical research on Romeo and Juliet. Could you share that with us?
Charisse L’Pree 50:10
I would thank you. I research is a big word. American and human values, right, very much a Richard Dyer star study, classic celebrity star study. So then we were stuck like, well, what are we going to do next? Well, we wanted to do something that’s a bit more feminine, because we had done fast and furious, very masculine. And we do talk about Keanu Reeves playing with gender roles, but it’s still kind of masculine dominated. And so that brought us to how the choices of the writer and director as well as the cultural time, right what’s happening in the culture at the time, infuse and change and reflect the story. Because Romeo and Juliet is such a, it’s such a go to that anybody can layer something on to it. So we start with Romeo and Juliet. We start with West Side Story. And then we do the Zeffirelli. Right. So these two very early ones. Definitely is very true to the narrative, and it’s generally critically acclaimed, then we jump ahead and do Romeo and Juliet. I don’t know if anybody is familiar with trauma films, but they are Toxic Avenger, like grossed-out B movie, really inappropriate stuff like incest and mutilation and basically all the stuff that made Shakespeare great. That’s the tagline of the film. But then thinking through how this kind of grows out punk culture of 1996, directed by James Gunn, by the way of Marvel fame,
We did Shakespeare in Love. We did gnomeo and Juliet, we did Private Romeo. So if you haven’t seen Private Romeo, it’s also an independent film.
But it was shot basically it was released three months before don’t ask don’t tell is repealed. So it’s shot in the midst of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and features to boys, two young men in a boy’s Military Academy, falling in love while simultaneously performing the play. So at any time given time, you’re starting to see how the play itself is simultaneously
work in the classroom and like trying to understand this language, but also very much intimate and lived through this young love. So that was great. We also watched David and Fatuma which I was very honored to be able to expose that to Bob for the first time, he never knew that film. And it’s basically Israeli Palestine in Romeo and Juliet, in Jerusalem, starring Martin Landau, Martin Landau, his last film along with Tony Curtis, his last film. So it’s, it’s really weird, but it’s it’s fascinating and just looking at how this story has been retold over and over and over again. And I’m trying to remember who the the character from Gossip Girl. He’s British, and he plays like the evil one I can’t remember. Anyway, he plays Tybalt in the 2013 version, and in an interview, he said, the thing about Romeo and Juliet is that every generation deserves their own. So we take that language and start looking at how are we telling generational stories through this story that we all know. And it has been a joy, and thank you for asking.
Tomás Guarna 56:22
So you know,
like, comment, subscribe, you can find it at critical incurious.com. I’m about to release episode nine, which is Shakespeare in Love. And then Episode 10, which is gnomeo, and Juliet. And then we close with the 2013, and Romeo and Juliet in Harlem. If you haven’t seen that one, that’s the first one it was sold as you know, advertise as the first all cast of color to do Romeo and Juliet. So they’re all the who’s doing a Romeo and Juliet remix? Anybody, everybody, please get to it. Give me more.
Vivek Bald 57:08
We have a question from the QA. Yes, couple of them, actually. So this is from Hamidreza Nasiri. Hello, and thanks for the talk. In that chart that is also on page nine, where you consider the evolving interaction between top down and bottom up norm setting. So for example, Twitter first started to adopt hashtags in a systematic, systematic way, after Iran’s 2009 protests, and then leader in the protests in Arab countries, and that change the structure as well as the use of Twitter. And also the whole adoption of hashtag, even in our everyday conversations of interaction is especially more powerful in the new interactive media. As for example, the norms of filmmaking were mostly set by a few studios in a more top down manner. As a result, the norms of filmmaking have also changed and evolved very slowly. And actually, mostly unchanged since then. But the norms of new media and hence our communication is evolving faster, due to this constant two way interaction.
Charisse L’Pree 58:21
Yeah, no, I completely agree. And again, I think the accelerated speed at which we see things change are is essential. Like we have to acknowledge that what is current today will not be current tomorrow, and that that level of evolution is not, is new, it’s definitely new. I will also say it’s funny that you bring up film because one of the papers, that is it’s in a book called mediated millennials, and looking at how youth generated music videos, and from 2007 and 2013. And looking at how in 2007, it was very much adopting tropes from film and kids were just trying to like remake their favorite music videos. But then by 2013, we see this real emphasis on kind of individualized and selfie culture, which was not necessary, which then like, wrapped into the music videos that were being made at the mainstream level. So two, things advanced quickly, because they can be shared in my opinion, can be shared so quickly, right? So you have that back and forth. And now you see that older mediums, desperate to survive or mining whatever the young people are doing, in hopes that that will bring them into the theater. I think it really comes down to institutionalization right film was institutionalized before it was required to change. I had 35 years before television came along and intelligence, like, we’re taking this good luck. And then film was forced to change, as opposed to other technologies, as opposed to like Twitter and Social Media. Their institutional power just comes from the number of users they have, in my opinion, you know, and the fact that they’ve got whatever, hundreds of engineers that can turn around a new, a new skin, like every six months, stop at Facebook, just stop it. Sorry. Thank you.
Charisse L’Pree 1:00:36
Kelly has had that for a while and so did Ambar. I believe I’m pronouncing this correctly. please correct me if I’m wrong. Yeah.
Kelly Wagman 1:00:42
Thank you for the talk. I was curious when you’ve been thinking about relationships with media. If you’ve thought about people’s relationships with media that talkback like robots, like how do you think from a psychology perspective, people should be thinking about their relationships was like that level of interactive media?
Charisse L’Pree 1:01:02
Sure. And I think before we even get to robots we can talk about we can I guess Alexa is a robot.
We can talk about GPS, right, we can talk about reciprocal, and I would argue that those are very much reciprocal media. I love talking about magnetic tape, right? Because I push play and it goes I pushed up and stops and like that was I was I argue unprecedented. At a mass level. I think what’s really similarly with video games, I think, you know, before we jump into what was it, her she her with Scarlett Johansson or this Futurama episode where fry falls in love with a robot? I think we have to think about this nuanced expectation of communication. And the fact that I say go, and it goes, I want something and it gives it to me. The fact that two things, you know, the fact that we can have our emotions immediately our needs, not emotions, but our needs emotion immediately gratified is something that we have to remember, like we have to be conscious of it. And so I’m not saying don’t use robots. I’m saying that robots are not humans, Reeves. And NASS would say we might forget. And secondly, oh, crap, did I lose it at such? Oh, I do talk about the availability paradox. And this idea that when the world is at your fingertips, we don’t pursue it. Right? I track this back to like cable news, right? cable news channels are all within the same, like 10 channel spectrum, right? Like, if you go up to channels, you go from msnbc to Fox News. So you can literally push a button and have a completely worldview, completely different worldview presented to you, but we don’t. And I have so many students that come into my office, like they don’t know what this word means. I’m like, yo, you’re literally sitting with your phone. You all you have to do is say Siri, define this word. And it will tell you that this word, but instead, we’re like, oh, just there’s just too much stuff. It’s just too much. So I would argue that a we have to realize that that responsiveness is is a privilege, right, as opposed to the norm as opposed to the standard. But at the same time, how are we using that responsiveness to improve our own lives? Or how are we becoming a little bit lazy? By not utilizing the full potential coming back to potential promising practice using the full potential of a given responsive technology? And in the case of robots? I mean, do we have robots that aren’t connected to the internet anymore? I mean, I assume so. But
Yeah, the question comes down to what does the robot do? What does the robot do for you? And why is that robot in your life? And I would argue that that’s the same question we need to ask for any technology. That is that a good answer?
Kelly Wagman 1:04:14
Yeah, thank you. Thank you, Ambar.
Ámbar Reyes 1:04:18
Yeah, thank you. Well, mine is a little. Like, it’s about my thesis in my work. So I don’t know like if everybody will want to hear it, but here we go. So basically, what I’m trying to do is like comparing the way people create their out of biographical narratives, without biographical biographies generated by algorithms in social platforms. Oh, yeah. So you But the thing is, like, I don’t have a psychology background. And like I am trying to think about, like, you know, in psychology, it has been recognized that the formation of life narratives plays a crucial role in the construction construction of personal identity, right. I was like I was wondering if you could give me like an insight where to look at like I saw your like, what’s your talk like your TED talk? And you’re like, anyone health explores itself using like different media. Or you see how, like algorithmic narrative,
Charisse L’Pree 1:05:21
you’re good keep going?
Ámbar Reyes 1:05:24
How can like algorithmic narratives can be used as a tool for reflection, rather than a way in which like machines and companies like limit our reflectivity? So I think you could give me a good insight.
Charisse L’Pree 1:05:37
Well, I do discuss in chapter three on consumer market cameras, and basically how consumer market cameras allowed us to create our own autobiographical visual narratives easily, right, like I push a button, I have a picture of this moment, and I can line them all up and create an autobiography. And so I do talk a little bit, you’ll like that chapter because it gives you a little bit about the psychology in how we construct memories through visual images. And I do explicitly talk about algorithmic
Ámbar Reyes 1:07:24
Charisse L’Pree 1:07:25
Vivek Bald 1:07:28
There’s so there’s another question in the q&a from Cory Schwaitzberg. You argue in the chapter that we should avoid overly determinist understandings of how media technologies influence human behavior. For example, social media makes you depressed. Considering how interdependent and convoluted psycho social and technological effects are on people slash users. That said Facebook’s business model is to establish and strengthen predictable profitable casual relationships between data targeted advertising and user spending. You use the social media platform to pursue psychosocial needs. Facebook, collects your data targets ads to you, hopefully influences your consumer behavior and makes money makes money if they succeed, incentivizing Facebook book to optimize their social media experience to make you more useful as a data mine and add consumer. How do you reconcile the general idea that technologies don’t dictate behavior with the fact that the tech giants successfully measured by multibillion dollar profits, use AI scientists, data analysis analysts and UX researchers to deliberately influence user behavior?
Charisse L’Pree 1:08:48
Okay, so very quickly, two or three things I want to say one, I don’t think they determine behavior, they encourage behavior. And then when we feel good about it becomes a cycle unto itself, right? So they’re encouraging this behavior, but at any given point, you could turn it off, right? We have that freewill. You could delete Facebook and it keeps going, like goes viral on Facebook to delete Facebook. You know it but it encourages this behavior. And when that behavior feels good, then we engage in that behavior. So it is a cycle in which the platform’s create one trigger. And then that continues to spin on itself, like some kind of
technological cotton candy. And it’s sweet. I’ve already gotten lost in this metaphor, I’m really hungry. I’m it’s dinnertime. Um, so I think it’s not necessarily the technology. But when we look at it from an outside perspective, it would appear that the technology is determining our behavior. But when we’re in it, we realize that we’ve only been pushed in one direction, and we keep going in that direction because momentum. And then until we see that we’re being pushed in that direction. We cannot stop. The other thing I wanted to mention regarding Keanu Reeves is, you know, as you talk about Facebook becoming a model using human users, as a mind, I’m automatically like thinking about those shots from matrix where the humans become the battery from the robots, right. And until we realize that we’re in this space, we cannot walk away from it. And I would argue that this is something I say over and over and over again, if social media is not meeting your needs, if a given platform is not meeting your needs, you got to let it go. You gotta like this, you have to. And it’s, it’s easier said than done. I will say I. So when I, when I had my child, three years ago, I started a new Instagram page for him, because I didn’t want to be one of those people who’s like their baby just took over their social media feed. And that’s not to crap on those people. I just didn’t want to be that person. So I created a new profile for him. And I post a picture every day. So like, he’s got his own page. It’s private. We’re not trying to make the baby go viral, right? It’s private. It’s only family and friends. So we use a very limited circle. And now I’m on that one all the time, because all it is is family, and like Smithsonian Zoo pictures, and Dolly Parton’s imagination library. And so regularly, I get to the end of the internet, like that’s not a thing. You’re never supposed to get to the end of the internet. That’s the amazing situation of infinite scrolling. But I get to the end of the internet all the time and Instagrams, like you have nothing new to look at, like, great. Alright, so I would just encourage, you know, we have to be able to see how our behavior is being manipulated. It’s been manipulated since you know, newspaper newspapers, right, this sensationalism, yellow journalism, all of that stuff was trying to foster outrage and anger and policy change and popular change. Through encouraging it now. It’s much more interactive, it’s almost infinite. You know, it’s just accelerated, but those same, that same willingness we have, and I feel like I’m using willingness wrong. So let me just finish the sentence. That same willingness are willing acquiescence. And I do talk about this willing acquiescence, I tie back to the theatrical film, like we willingly give over our consciousness to theatrical film, we sit in there, we turn off our phones, we separate ourselves from the outside world, and we say to the filmmaker to the screen, show me what you want me to see. Is it surprising that we would do that for social media as well? That’s it, I got deep, I got deep. And I feel like that’s where I got to end. Anything more. It’s just I’m only going to be repeating myself.
Vivek Bald 1:12:54
Well, actually, I wanted to just follow up on that. And I think it connects somewhat with the follow up question that that’s in the q&a. And it is, you know, while I was reading, I was thinking about all of the the kind of public conversation about, about the 2016 election and about just the siloing of different sectors of society through social media. And I’m just curious to hear your, your take on that kind of conversation about like, whether, you know, in some ways it’s similar to, you know, the, I don’t know if you remember the organization that PMR sees that was
Oh, yeah, the parents music resource coalition. We watched that Zappa congressional hearing in class.
Vivek Bald 1:13:56
Yes. So, um, you know, is this is the conversation around the the kind of very dangerous fracturing and polarization of society via social media. Is it were their actual, potentially very negative effects broadly in society?
Charisse L’Pree 1:14:54
Well, just to let you know, you guys all know that to harken back to the pmrc. Prince
sex. You know that that right? Like that’s that’s what happened. And tipper gore was angry about it, Prince invented sex. I think that. So I do make the argument about silos as it relates to cable, because usually when we’re talking about these siloing, and these echo chambers, we’re comparing them to the three network system when it was ABC, CBS, and NBC providing all national content. So when we had three outlets, three television outlets, yeah, you it was a consensus conversation. But we’re not talking about, you know, the hundreds of partisan papers that were happening in 1700. And there’s a great visualization, I’m happy to find it, I’ve got it in there. And some of my class notes about the rise and fall of American newspapers. And you start to see like how many there were just like everybody had a newspaper that was every partisan perspective that they wanted, between 17 118 100. And then around 1800, they start to homogenize, and like, what a homogenized but you know, aggregate into your big papers, and then around like 2000, they just start to die off. But it’s a really beautiful visualization. And I think that what’s lost in this dots is that each of those newspapers was a unique perspective. And each of them were warring against another newspaper in a given area. So when we see the siloing, of communities, and I was just participating in a Reddit science panel on social media, political ideology and identity, that we see this siloing rise and fall, when is it going to fall? Again? I don’t know. I can’t predict that. But I think it’s important to realize that when we’re talking about partisanship, now, we’re comparing it to television, we’re comparing it to network television, we’re not comparing it to cable television, which you know, diversify the spectrum to the point where people could find whatever they wanted. We’re not comparing it to partisan newspapers from the 18th century. So I think that that that historical lens is important that we consistently drift into our ideological echo chambers because it feels good.
Charisse L’Pree 1:17:19
One of the arguments I make I was delivered the faculty address to my to the incoming class at Syracuse in 2017. I make this argument that we are not amoebas. But we will behave like one. So in the mass will inevitably go in directions that make them feel better and away from things that don’t make us feel better. But as humans, we have that ability. And I think someone here who is at Victor ZT Zhang says I’m not sure if we have free will. We’re just pieces of a complex machine that seems Facebook and platforms have our behavior. Right? The problem is we can’t let it go because of how it stimulates us, right that we see. would never engage with. Because they because they’re demographically different because we tend to homogenize into groups that are similar with us. But then in these conversations, they’re realizing about how much similarity they have. So if anybody wants to participate, you can go to charisselepree.me and fill out the form I think it’s right below the book promotion, scroll down like the second post or something. And I would love to pair you with a student, a media student and professional media student who would like to turn your auto biography Ambar into, into bite sized media content. I also was part of a conversation. I was a consultant for BuzzFeed and Procter and Gamble, doing this thing called talk about bias, where people were paired with strangers to talk about bias. And I think the potential versus the promise versus the practice of social media is one where in the potentials we can engage with anyone around the world. The promise is we will be told that our needs will be met. And the practices we engage with the people we want to write, but I think we need to revisit that potential but the potential itself is scary. And I will mention this briefly my stepfather when he got on Facebook friended everyone, everyone. And he was like, I’m going to talk to the world and I know people here hearing everyone, Felix, I’m sorry, if you’re watching everyone. Then all of a sudden, they start messaging me with their creepy messages and they’re like, I’m friends with Your father and I’m like, dude, stop.
Then he realized that it’s a weird, weird, weird space. And now he’s not on Facebook anymore. So I think, you know, we have to, we can use social media. As I say, as Victor mentioned in the chat, we can use social media for our own needs. And we have to remember that we can take control. And at the same time, if we need, like, start a new Facebook, I have another Facebook for my cats that only has 10. Friends, it’s great. You know, like, do with it what you want. Remember, you don’t have to let Facebook or Twitter or whichever other algorithm based platform is satisfying to define your only usage. That was a long walk. I don’t remember what the original question.
Vivek Bald 1:20:56
Right, are there any we’re almost out of time. But I just want to just see if there are any other questions out there.
Charisse L’Pree 1:21:03
I will say there’s a couple in the chats. And so I’ll just hit those roya apparently a distant relative of ours work on Romeo and Juliet and Yiddish. That’s cool. I will say one of our choices on the Romeo and Juliet, one was only was American. So there are a lot that we did not get into it had to be. So you know, like, there’s literally 200 in our database, globally. And so we just had to start cutting things down. So we cut them down for American productions or joint that they had to have American production. So I look forward to watching that one. Amardeep. Again, correct me if I’m wrong, I come from a decade of an engineering background and Media Studies a bit foreign yet fascinating. During your talk, you repeatedly thought or purely thought how I my dad and my four year old interact with serious media forums. Loved it awesome. Absolutely. And like, just how my book is dedicated to Diane and Constantine. Diane is my mother and Constantine is my son. And the line I say is, And, and as a last comment, I find it really interesting the notion the end of the internet, I’m an editor based in Mexico City and one of my collaborators suggests that the end or limits of the internet may be where there is no signal, for example, in indigenous communities. Yeah, sure. Do you think critical thinking may be useful, or which methodological tools to integrate them on the internet from an anti non post colonial perspective? Well, that is a conversation for a talk unto itself. And I hope, Professor Bald when you do, you’ll you’ll bring me in on that conversation as well.
You know, I just I, participatory media, also something I learned at MIT, we have to bring in the people who were using it to have these conversations. And so you know, the only anti colonialist perspective that involves a colonized group for grounds and centered said colonized group, or previously colonized group, I should figure out that language later will correct that post. And I think that so much coming back to some of our other points about media companies mining us for data, there’s something to be said, there’s a.to be connected with the way in which we have historically treated certain groups, mining them for their resources, mining them for their labor, mining them for their land and leaving them barren. If we start thinking about this phenomenon across perspective, across time across groups, I think that we can begin to tackle the questions of today with a more nuanced approach.
Charisse L’Pree 1:23:53
Ooh, that’s good. Let’s close there.
Vivek Bald 1:23:55
That’s fantastic. Thank you so much, Charisse.
Charisse L’Pree 1:24:00
And always, Andrew brought his. Okay, let’s get my phone. Let’s see here.
He’s very sweet.
Charisse L’Pree 1:24:46
Here he is.
I’m sorry. This is probably not a good use of our last minutes together, but
he had a really good one the other day.
Charisse L’Pree 1:25:10
Oops in the potty.
I’m sorry. Yeah. So anyway, yeah, is we’re working on potty training. And I don’t think there’s any technology that helps you with potty training. That’s that’s what we’ve come. You know what, folks with potty training m&ms. That’s pretty much it. It’s like if your diapers dry, you get m&ms. That’s all. We’re very low tech.
Vivek Bald 1:25:38
Yes. Okay, well, thank you so much Charissee and I look forward to reading the rest of your book.
Thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me. I really, really appreciate it. It was an honor to come home.