As previously mentioned, I am, unfortunately, a media student – well, a Communication, Media and Culture (CMC) student. Not unfortunately for me, but unfortunately to a large group of people. A group of people who, I discovered last Friday, include one of my elderly relatives. Ouch. I was at a family gathering and I’d answered the dreaded “what are you going to do with your degree/life” question more times than I care to count, and so the conversation with my relative unsurprisingly went down the same route. When I answered the question with “I have no idea”, I waited for the obligatory “oh you silly sausage” laugh, but instead I was faced with this; “well that’s what happens when you take a completely pointless degree”.
Double quadruple ouch. I was completely and utterly
gobsmacked. Also involved in this conversation were my older sister and my dad,
both of whom just nervously laugh (as did I) and, bless my dad, he did try to
stick up for me but I think we were all abit shocked at such a blunt (and,
let’s be honest, downright rude) response that we did the very British thing of
ignoring the remark and swiftly moving the conversation on. But I won't lie, I
just wanted to burst in tears (something which I did do when I was finally home).
The idea that my degree is pointless is by no means news to me. The media (ironically) spend much of their time slamming media students, believing they could be doing something a little more worthwhile, like Maths, or Science. Where, may I ask, is a maths degree going to get me, not just for the fact that I CANNOT DO MATHS? I think plenty of students will nod in agreement with me when I say that during the first year of A-Levels, I had absolutely no idea of what I wanted to do with my life (nothing’s changed, then), and at the young age of 17 we are asked to make one of the biggest decision of ours lives; leave education and enter the working world, or soldier through yet more education. I chose the latter, meaning that I then had to decide exactly what I was going to study. I’ve always been interested in the media, how it works and the effect it has on society (which, might I add, is a lot more than most people realise), and I had been doing well in my media class, so I thought, hey! Why don’t I study something I’m actually interested in? I don’t tend to make the best decisions, but I truly believe that the decision to study media was a great one, for me, even if it wasn’t for anyone else. Because I’m actually interested in what I’m learning, I’m willing to put a lot more effort into going to lectures, writing my assignments and doing the vast amount of background research that is required of any degree. I do not appreciate it when people tell me that my degree is pointless, because they are effectively telling me that my life itself is ‘pointless’, my future is ‘pointless’; I am basically a big bag of pointless-ness. Grrrreat.
These events led me to feel the need to defend my degree. I know many who read this (if there are any, at all) will not be interested in this sort of thing, but someone’s gotta stand up for the Mickey Mouse club! So I present to you:
Reasons why Media Studies is anything but ‘pointless’:
· The study of media, communication and culture (my degree, specifically) is said to stem from Psychology and Sociology i.e. they are all interested in society, how media plays a part on both society and the effect on the media users. Now I don't know about you, but I've never heard anyone call these subjects pointless, so surely media isn't either? So I fail to see how a subject that stems from such well-respected degrees can be classed as pointless.
· Unfortunately, one of the more common misconceptions of media studies is that we spend all day watching television and reading magazines, and sit in a classroom chatting about it. Whilst looking at film, television, magazines, newspapers and advertising are all part of the teaching aspect, students are also taught to look behind the scenes of the media. Examining why these forms of media are structured and produced the way that they are leads to questions of social and political issues. Why does The Daily Mail present such positivity towards the Conservative Party, yet criticise most actions of the Labour Party? It’s all a question of the politics surrounding the media and this is something which is key to society.
· It has been proven (through a study by the University of Sunderland in 2008) that media graduates are in one of the best positions employability-wise when they leave university. Our degree teaches us so many valuable industry skills, such as how to research communication, being aware of different cultures and the way in which communication between them is important, the politics of the world, the importance of the media in how it portrays the everyday world, and how this portrayal can be so influential in society. Obviously advertising is one of the key ways in which society is influenced by the media, but consider how the way in which news stories are portrayed on television and in the newspapers will alter our view on a particular topic.
· Media studies are not merely based on fact, but allow a creative element. Students within the field are encouraged to use their imagination and their input is widely recognised. However, in a subject such as maths there is only one definitive answer, meaning little room for creativity. It is also open to the concept of new ideas and theories, unlike many academic practices. The field welcomes debates and contradicting theories, believing this it only adds to the value of information, and provides students with different perspectives.
So there you go, rant over! I really am rather sorry that you had to put up with a post like this, but if I can stop one person from thinking I am completely wasting my life away, then I’m happy.
I promise my posts will begin to get a little more interesting from now on…I hope.