Discipline: Mass Communication, Media
This essay combines theories expounded by four scholar-theoreticians to critique the implications of today’s new media technology. Those theoreticians and their works are: Walter Benjamin’s seminal writing, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936), Jurgen Habermas’ concept of the public sphere, Marshal McLuhan’s Technological Determinism, and Vincent Mosco’s concept of Commodification. It posits that in today’s digital culture, the Internet – as the new public sphere – enables people with access to it to become producers of their own cultural texts. The essay specifically points to YouTube as the site where these texts can be found. Since YouTube provides its users with the freedom to upload anything, these videos not only feed the myth of instant fame and success through the commodification of the self, but in the process erodes the concept of aura as defined by Benjamin since the power to reproduce such texts is in the hands of the consumers.