Sometimes writing is really hard work for me. Today is one of those days. I have a book chapter I want to finish a solid first draft on by the end of this week and it's going so very very slowly. I wasn't involved in the original research on which the chapter is based, so it all feels a bit weird as I compile information from a bunch of places about something I don't know well. Usually in my research I've collected and analyzed the data, read all the relevant background materials and had my hand in the work. This time while I'm familiar with the work, I didn't do the analysis and it's just weird.
So I've been giving myself the stern two pages a day disciplinary rule and today's two pages sure are taking a long time. I'm nearing the end of chapter which is good, but as I do, I want to spend more time revising the first part instead of finishing the rest.
One part of the paper discusses the idea of Ironic Consumption talked about by Naomi Klein in No Logo. (It's a great book, go read it if you haven't yet. Ironic consumption is only two pages of a cogent treatise on corporate branding.)
It is the idea that we consume (products for her, media for me) in multiple ways sometimes ironically twisting the consumption process away from it's original intentions. So we may listen to Stayin' Alive and enjoy those falsetto notes, but also laugh at the cheesiness of the whole BeeGees phenomenon.
Or we eat at McDonald's (as I will do tonight before another trip to the pool for a refreshing swim) and also hate all it's horrible corporate ways by explaining to our children that the Pirates of the Caribbean Happy Meal is an insidious form of advertising designed to have you cajole me into taking you to a movie I know will freakin' scare the pants off you and that I know what's better for you than a money-hungry, obesity inducing restaurant (and no you're not having pop but milk with your dinner).
Instead of resisting the act of consumption (as was the more liberal practice of the past achieved through boycotts) we surrender to consumption, but with the awareness that we can and do shape that process in our own sometimes subversive ways (how subversive it is I'm not all that sure). Like how I bought another bathing suit today (not a little two-piece, but a tankini with board shorts) after expressing my disdain for how women's suits are designed and how they create angsts and desires in me which I dislike. I'm still going to have mixed feelings about being in a swimsuit, yet I continue to happily spend my cash on them.
In terms of health media audiences, they will watch news reports about physical activity and understand and appreciate the stay-fit, stay-healthy messages put forth by various agencies. However they will also respond to the neo-liberal aspects of these messages which position the pursuit of good health as an individual responsibilty that is good not only for oneself but also to save health care dollars and possibly interpret that as a government ploy to save money or get us ready for a looming health care crisis. The thing about audiences is they are actively intrepreting messages and we need to ask them what they think instead of just deciding that as academics that people take up messages the way we want them too just because they can remember the name of your health agency.
Today I also feel like I'm doing some ironic production too. I'm spewing out loads of words on the blog, but so very few on my chapter--I keep counting the lines to see if I'm going to achieve my two page goal. The writing comes easily here, more difficult in the spaces where I earn my living. I'm also interpreting someone else's data and analysis in ways which she may not have intended as the cycle of meaning making continues.
Now if you add some comments I'll have some audience reception and we'll complete the circuit of communication. Nifty eh?