Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Today in class we had a group give their presentation on Facebook specially, but really about social media in a broader sense. I have to say that I think this was the most successful group presentation out of them all. It didn't feel contrived (like they were trying to create 'an activity') and all the discussion came very naturally. I think the reason for this success is that Facebook and social media is something that we all understand and come into contact with on. a daily basis. Even those who do not have a Facebook account are still extremely aware of it. Many of the people I have met who do not have them is a direct rebellion against the idea of Facebook as opposed to a disconnection from the entity that is Facebook.

We talked a lot about the extent to which social media is involved in our day to day lives, and the impact it has on our interpersonal communication. We talked of the pros and cons that come with internet communication, but ultimately came to no conclusion as to whether it is a positive or negative thing; with the good, comes the bad. This is not surprising, as something so complex can never really be a black or white, but ultimately comes in varying shades of gray.

Because of Facebook, we are able to build relationships across states and countries, keep in contact with family members and old friends, and give certain people who would normally have social nervousness that would prevent them from being involved in social situations be involved. But at the same time, the ease with which we can 'connect' to people through a series of status updates and pictures can take the need out of actual face to face communication. We reduce our relationships to these short term snip its of life and can end up having completely empty (but seemingly meaningful) relationships with 'friends'

I had about two years during high school when I was a self proclaimed Facebook addict, but I feel like I have been able to distance myself from it since then. I still have a Facebook, and I often use it as a crutch to entertain me when I am bored, but I do not rely on it as an alternative to communication. I sometimes feels like I am falling out of the technology line because I often I have no idea what is new or 'trending.' I have no idea how twitter, instagram, snapshot, pinterest, or soundcloud work and I do not have accounts for any of them. Maybe some day I will try to catch up, but for now I'm going to continue my to hone my face to face communication skills and entertain awkward social interactions.

Monday, October 28, 2013

First Comes Love

For my presentation to Pop Culture works I will be pitching a romantic comedy that takes elements of the classical romantic comedy and aspects of radical romantic comedies. First Come Love is a story that focuses on a somewhat nontraditional couple trying to make sense of themselves and their relationship in the 21st century.  The female, Maggie, is a 24 year old college student and the male, Daniel, is a 47 year old student of life and theatre technician. This couple is trying to make their way through life in the disorder of the new world and find comfort in themselves as people. The male will be played by George Clooney and the female by Jennifer Lawrence and it takes place in 2013 in Los Angeles over a year period. It goes through the trials and tribulations of the two main characters during this year.  By the end, the characters still do not fully understand everything about themselves, but through the examination of their relationship, they are on step further down their journey of life.

The movie is set up as a traditional romantic comedy in that the girl and the boy end up together at the end, but it also has aspects of the radical romantic comedy genre. Although there is the traditional ‘boy meets girl’ characteristic they are not the traditional boy and girl that one would expect to end up together and a couple that people may not want to end up together when they walk into the film. “As [a] romantic comed[y], [it] wants to bring about the happy union of a woman and man” but it is modern and radical in the sense that it is “beyond
the naivety” that their ending up together is the only outcome (McDonald 69). For the lead male character, this relationship takes a leap from his usual relationships with women and he finds himself feeling almost immature at the fact that he is in “an old fashioned love affair” full of traditional romance with such an unexpected woman (McDonald 68). He does not always know how to show his feelings because he is not used to the emotions he has with her. The lead female is also new to this type of relationship, never having fully committed to anyone due to insecurities and feelings of  self-consciousness, but finding herself in a situation that “seems too good to be true” (McDonald 68). They are both head over heels in love, but are still learning the ropes of how to express it.

This comedy will be more realistic than the traditional romantic comedy. It will use “more realistic language and discussion of sexual matters” focusing on both the male and female characters which is characteristic of the radical romantic comedy (McDonald 70). Along with the realistic language, the setting of the film will be used to create an “underlying sense of realism” by being set in a very recognizable Los Angeles (McDonald 71). Because Danny works in theatre and they are both lovers of art, many of their scenes will take place in identifiable places. The characters will be forced to go through much more serious situations like loss, death, issues of control, self-consciousness and more given their life in the chaotic new world disorder.

Both characters are influenced by the time in which they were born and grew up and are constantly struggling to understand each other from these varying points of view.  Danny was born in 1966. It was during this time that the Fordism of the old world order really began to experience problems that caused the shift to the new world disorder. He was born in a time of crumbling certainty where the life style and economic times of his parents were changing dramatically and he had to deal with this mixing of old and new worlds during his adolescence. Because of these “aims at multi skilling workers and eliminating rigid job demarcation lines” he grew up to be a jack of all trades (Barker 147). He does not rely on the idea of life time careers from the old world but its influence is still visible in his life. He has done many jobs throughout his life and relies on his ability to adapt to whatever a situation may need. For the past twenty years he has worked in theatre, which lends itself to this new sense of disorder. He started out building sets for shows, and worked his way up to scenic, light and sound design and has been the technical director for various theatres in Los Angeles. It is because of his adaptability that he has been so successful in his profession.

Maggie was born in 1989, well into the chaotic world of the 21st century. She has never known anything else than to be prepared in a world of certain uncertainty, increasing globalization, and service sectors. She is intuitively more tech savvy as she is a product of a world that has seen a “shift from industrial manufacturing to service industries centered in information technology” (Barker 150). She has often relied on technology for social interaction, but is trying to break free from that. Growing up in the ever changing world she has, our lead is often struck with cynicism and confusion about how to proceed with life and where her life will lead and can often be seen railing against this society she has been born into. She is completely aware of her generation and the generations before hers and often feels out of place in her world of disorder, which is one of the reasons why she finds herself in a relationship with someone closer to the world she thinks she wants.

Because of her inner conflict, Maggie is constantly struggling with her self-identity and social identity. One of the major character downfalls of the lead female is her self-deprecation and self-consciousness that stems from her lack of knowledge of self and her fractured identity. She often has differing views of herself, wanting to be and do conflicting things at the same time. She is a postmodern subject “assuming different identities at different times” and these identities “are not unified around a coherent self” (Barker 225). She can often be struck with the desire to run off and live a life of romantic partnership somewhere exotic and beachfront while simultaneously wanting to raise a family in a house with a white picket fence. Occasionally Danny gets frustrated with her constantly seeming to be driven by whims and consumerist ideals. This in turn makes her question her ‘self’ even more at times, not knowing if she has a core self or if she is simply a product of her disordered world.

Danny is far more concrete in his self-identity. He is more of an enlightenment subject. He is very rational and considers himself a “unique unified agent” “endowed with the capacities of reason, consciousness and action” (Barker 123). It is because of this strong sense of self-assuredness that Danny can often come off as arrogant. He is extremely confident in his abilities and who he is as a person, but he is also always changing and growing. The part of his life that is out of balance, in a similar way as Maggie’s self-identity, are his cultural practices. In the case of Maggie her self-identity is changing rapidly, but her cultural practices are relatively stable. Danny on the other hand has a fairly stable self-identity, but his “cultural and religious practices are changing” (Bader 261). Because of his relationship with Maggie, the way he relates cultural practices is different. For instance, Danny was never very big on holiday celebration or decoration but because it is something important to Maggie, he is changing the way he interacts with holidays by putting lights up during Christmas time and getting pumpkins for Halloween.

Danny deals with many things in his life in a modernist way, that is “with enlightenment rationality” and with a strong “belief in the objectivity of scientific investigation” (Flynn 141). He values rational thinking to work out problems as opposed to irrational whims or ideas that manifest without any practice and research. He can get very annoyed with people in his profession that have a lot of opinions about how things should be done, but with no knowledge or practice in the actual field they are speaking about. Despite these feelings of inadequacy towards certain people he has, he is a very patient person that strives to educate those around him. He usually internalize his stress and tries to make situations work without making a big scene, but this causes him to have a bunch of pent up stress that he must deal with at some point.

Despite this aspect of enlightenment that pervades Danny’s profession, there is also an element of romanticism in his personal life, especially in his relationship with Maggie. As much as he relies on science and rational thought, he is also an artist, musician and lover of truth and beauty who relies on “intuition, feeling, emotion and imagination” (Kendrick 133). Early on in their relationship both characters struggled over whether to follow their heads that said society might not approve and this might not be the easiest relationship, or their hearts that said they truly felt something for each other. One thing that they have both come to understand more fully is that “human behavior, creativity and even knowledge [is] found not in the head but in the heart” (Kendrick 133).

The characters also struggle with the societal consequences of language. Defining their relationship presents a problem. To define them in a structualist point of view depends entirely on the culture and the arbitrary relationship between the words themselves (signifier) and the ideas behind the words (signified). To the young Maggie, boyfriend/girlfriend sounds almost juvenile and she constantly has difficulty defining what they are in words. They way in which they live is like that of husband/wife, but that cannot be used either because it does not match the traditional signified meaning. She chooses to define them as ‘partners’ in an effort to articulately describe what they are and move away from the political connotations of the other terms. The traditional relationship of men and women is always political with one part of the binary inherently superior. In the case of these two the established, older, sure of himself male culturally and linguistically lords over the young, often floundering, still finding herself, young woman. She often tries to fight these ideas, but at the same time internalizes and finds comfort in them. Danny on the other hand has more of a post structuralist idea of how they relate to the language about their relationship. To him, the words are not as important because there is no sense of presence in the meaning of them; the meanings are unstable, as are the binaries involved. He sees words as able to “carry multiple meanings, including the echoes or traces of other meanings from other related words in other contexts” (Barker 86). There are often communication issues based on these different understandings of language that lead to humorous and heartfelt situations.

            Through this relationship the audience sees a denial of Foucault’s idea that disciplines regulate sexuality. By most academic discipline’s standards these characters go against the normalization that is created in an effort to keep society ordered. Based on society’s perceptions, of ‘normal’ this couple might be viewed as bad or immoral; the male being the creepy older man in a mid-life crisis lusting after a young woman, and the female would either be using her sexuality to find a sugar daddy or she has severe father issues. Many audience members may go into this film with these preconceived notions about right and wrong, moral and immoral, weird and normal, but when they finish the film they will be rooting for the couple and possibly questioning society’s standards.

            First Comes Love is an unconventional, radical romantic comedy about two people from different generations and with different world views. We see them struggling to make their unexpected love work in a chaotic and uncertain world and trying to understand themselves as independents and as a complete unit. Sometimes they are put down by society trying to normalize them, sometimes they are conflicted, and sometimes it would be easier to quit. Ultimately however, they know they are soul mates who will go through life in a constant battle trying to find peace. For them, love is worth it and will conquer all.
Works Cited
Barker, Chris. Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice. 4th ed. London: SAGE, 2012. Print.
Bader, Viet. “Culture and Identity: Contesting Constructivism.” Ethnicities. 1, no. 2: 251-273.
Flynn, Elizabeth. "Rescuing Postmodernism." College Composition and Communication 48.4
            (1997): 540-55. JSTOR. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.
Foucault, Michel. "The History of Sexuality." N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. CSU Northridge. Web. 22
            Oct. 2013.
Kendrick, M. Gregory. The Heroic Ideal: Western Archetypes from the Greeks to the Present.
            Jefferson, NC: McFarland &, 2010. Print.
McDonald, Tamar Jeffers. "The Radical Romantic Comedy." Romantic Comedy: Boy Meets
            Girl Meets Genre. London: Wallflower, 2007. 59-84. Print.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Orientalism, Orientalism Everywhere

According to Edward Said, orientalism is a cultural misrepresentation of the east, including the Middle East and Far East countries. In nicer terms, it can be seen as the stereotypical romanticsism of the east, where the east is seen as exotic, mystic, religious, primitive, etc. The east is seen by the west as an "other," and by defining this other, the westerners are better able to understand themselves. This goes back to Derrida's idea of defferment; everything is defined by its binary. The west is able to understand what it means to be a westerner by defining what it means to not be a westerner. This in turn creates some sort of definition for the easterner as well. Those defined by orientalism internalize some of the stereotypes about themselves and in some way it becomes them.

We can think of Orientalism in two ways: the middle east as the orient, and the far east as the orient. Although both types of cultures are lumped into the same category, we often see them as very different. We view the far easterner as more technologically advanced (like China), business oriented, smart, and even give them some sort of respect. The middle easterner, however, is often demonized and seen as evil, religiously extreme.

We see these stereotypical portrayals in everything; music, movies, comics, books. You might think that Orientalism is a thing of the past in movies like The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (made in 1958), but we are still seeing it today from mainstream performers like Nicki Minaj.

Monday, October 14, 2013

New World Disorder

The idea of new world disorder ushered in a new era of workplace relations. There were new innovative technologies, replaceable 'temp' workers, flexible labor and a moving away from the old world order of Fordism. The old world order consisted of the division and specification of labor and lifetime careers for workers. In this new world, everybody is responsible for knowing and understanding the whole product and being able to perform all aspects of the job related to that product; unlike in the assembly line of Fordism where each worker is only responsible for their specific job

 This clip from Glengarry Glen Ross is the perfect example of this shift from the order of the old world to the disorder of the new world.

Alec Baldwin perfectly showcases the shifting values of this new world. He criticizes the men who pride themselves on being good fathers, loving husbands, and nice guys. These are not idealized characteristics in this 'get the job done or get out' way of life. He forcefully lets the men know that everyone is replaceable. If you can not do the job, then you can not work there. In his attempt to motivate them, he uses tactics that seem very harsh but they are not meant to mollify the men, they are meant to light a fire under their butts. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Create A Superhero!

My superhero is named Talia Tauber, often known as The Muse. She is a female humanoid shape shifter. She identifies as female, but because she is a shape shifter she can become any gender. Her birthplace is unknown; she was found floating in a boat in the area known as The Bermuda Triangle in 1983 when she was a baby. Her birth date is celebrated on the date she was found, December 21 1983. Talia was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Tauber and grew up in Florida, but has moved around a lot in her adult life. She was the perfect child growing up, but as she got older she began to encounter problems. She became ‘too’ popular wherever she went and people would become jealous of her and other’s attention toward her. As she grew, she was better able to understand and experiment with her powers. She ran away when she was 17 and lived a secluded life until she fully understood her powers. After her bad experiences, she vowed to live a normal life unless she was helping people. She now works as a librarian in a small town but will probably move soon, as she never feels at home where ever she is.

Talia is able to shape shift into any human form. She is also able to read minds and inspire or even persuade people. She rarely gets into people’s minds to change their thoughts, unless entirely necessary. The origins of her superpowers are unknown, but she has had them since birth. As she got older, they became more prevalent. Talia finds it difficult to control her powers in large groups of people. There have been mass breakouts of hysteria and riots because of her.  In her day to day life, Talia lives in a very average form. She tries to blend in and does not want to be noticed. The form that she appears to the people she helps is completely dependent on what they need to see. She does not have a ‘costume’ and she has been described by those that have seen her as ‘beauty incarnate’ but it is not always physical beauty.

Talia’s goals are to help everyday people. She wants to create a better world where more people are free to express their creativity and be self-confident. The villains that Talia must combat are advertisers, magazines, the beauty industry, and bureaucracies that try to stifle individuality and creativity. Superheroes are not part of the everyday thought of the people within Talia’s society. She herself is not ‘known’ as a superhero. She is often referenced by various people, but they do not understand that she is the same muse for everybody. If Talia were to become known as a superhero there could be various problems. One of them would be that everyone would want a piece of her. If she made herself known, she would have no life of her own, but be a slave to other people’s needs. Another potential problem that Talia fears is that if people knew that she was the one who inspired them, they might feel their thoughts about themselves or whatever it is they created are not genuine. This is not the case, however, as she does not inspire anything that is not already present in a person, she simply brings things out in people. 

Talia is necessary because she brings out the best in society. With corruption more visible than ever and cynical attitudes at an all-time high, Talia represents the ultimate truth in beauty, art, justice and love. Every time she inspires, even if it is simply self confidence in a really shy kid, she brings the world to slightly better place.  Without her, the corruption and mass ideals about beauty and creativity would strive and individual creativity would perish.  Talia’s true identity is put on a back-burner for the good of society. She does get to live a somewhat normal life, but it is not her true life in her true form. She gives up this life with the hope to create links through all class, gender and race issues so that everybody is seen for their true and personal worth despite ignorant cultural attitudes.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Elephant Man Project

Earlier today my group gave its presentation for The Elephant Man (play not movie) in our popular culture class. It took us a while to actually figure out what we were going to do for the presentation, especially because our group was so large. We eventually settled on doing a Who Wants to be a Millionaire style game with a group discussion at the end.

Before we decided on that specific presentation, we thought a lot about the ideas, themes and symbols within the text. I did a lot of research into the advent of popularity of freak shows in Victorian England, the reasons for its popularity, and how it can relate to the current culture of our society. I thought about the movie Freaks and some of the famous freaks of yesteryear like Violet and Daisy Hilton, Frank Lentini, and Schlitzie the Pinhead to name a few.  I looked into various current pop culture 'freaks' that we are incredibly fascinated with and the ways in which they are similar to the original side show freaks and if they serve the same functions, and what those functions were.

After one group meeting (I was not able to attend because I was at work) it was realized that we were thinking about our presentation in terms of a lot of lecturing which was not the point of this project, so we needed to re-plan and come up with something to get more classroom involvement. After emailing back and forth a couple of us had a meeting where it was decided that we would present a  'Who Wants to be an Elephant Man' game. We each came up with five questions of varying difficulty, which unfortunately were not difficult enough. From that point we had, and I attended, two more meetings to divvy up the duties for the actual presentation. During one of the meetings I helped to shape the final question in order to allow for other group members work to be tied in to our new presentation in a meaningful way. During the actual presentation I was one of the people that asked questions during the game and led some of the discussion afterwards with the class.

I feel like because our group was so large, it was difficult to meet with everybody because of so many conflicting schedules, but ultimately we came out with a good product. Everybody was responsible for creating questions and saying at least a blurb during the actual presentation. Overall I feel like we incorporated all of our members and tried to create something that was not an entire waste of time for the students.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


A lot goes into the advertisement for a product. A lot of hidden, or sometimes not so hidden, messages about beauty, class, education, what have you. Advertisements are created to speak to us in ways that aren't always apparent, and can often be subliminal. This week in my pop culture class we were each given an advert from a magazine and had to break it down. What did the image, placement, text, etc say? How did it say it? Why did it say it? Like I talked about in my previous post, advertisers pray on the fact that people will always want something to make themselves feel good, be better, be more attractive, cool or smarter.

I got an add for a shaving cream, EOS shaving cream to be exact (the same people that make those awesome little egg shaped lip balms). The name itself, 'Evolution of Smooth,' states that this stuff is the top of the line, most advanced product in smoothness. It showed an extreme closeup of a really smooth leg with frilly, twirly writing that said something about making your legs smile. It was a very feminine ad trying to get women, who always want happy legs, to buy their product.

There was another leg shaving ad that was discussed in class that had a different idea and a different message. The other one showed a beautifully tan blond, in a gold dress and a gold room, clearly going out for a night on the town. She had a coy smile and was looking slightly down, the way you do when a cute guy gives you a compliment and you blush and look down. To me, this ad had an entirely different attitude. The first one made me feel like the benefit would be for myself alone. My body would be happy, healthy, simple and smooth. There were no connotations of a social life or sex or popularity. They both are very effective in selling similar products, but are clearly selling to different women.

Every time I think of advertising, I can't help but think of the Josie and The Pussycats movie and the extreme form of advertisement  present (subliminal mind control anyone?). Although the ads we encounter on a daily basis are not this bad, it is similar and can be dangerous waters when people people become too susceptible to these ads.