Friday, October 25, 2013

Halloween Bonus Points!

In the spirit of Halloween and our main text for the semester, Dracula, I've decided to offer two bonus point opportunities for the days leading to the big day!

The first is to watch the series premier of NBC's new TV series based on Dracula. It's likely to be very different from the novel, but it should still be fun to analyze. The show comes on tonight at 10pm, but if you miss it, I'm sure it'll be online somewhere (NBC.com, Hulu) before the end of the weekend.

The other opportunity is to visit a local comic book store for Halloween ComicFest, a new event in which participating comic book stores will be giving away free comics for Halloween, this weekend only! To find a store, simply go to their website, and type your zip code into the locator on the left! There are at least 4 in Brooklyn, so it shouldn't be too much of a hassle. Just go in, tell them you're there for the Halloween comics, and they should hook you up!

Once you've watched the show and/or read your comic(s), write a blog post (or one for both) in which you summarize it and then use one of the readings you've done for our class to analyze it. Then post before Halloween ends, Thursday at midnight! Each post will count as an extra blog grade!

Questions? Quibbles? Controversies?

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Creating the Myth" Social Annotations


Below are photos of our "Creating the Myth" social annotations. You may find them useful as you continue to revise your Close Reading essay.


Monday, October 21, 2013

The Evil Resides Within: Sample Presentation

Here's my Sample Presentation to give you an idea of what you should be preparing for your own Class Presentations:

   

Keep in mind that the goal here is to present an article that we have not read and discuss it in relation to a piece of pop culture not discussed in the article! As long as these two conditions are met, your Presentation could be on the same article you're analyzing for the Close Reading essay and/or Essay #3. So choose carefully!

Questions? Quibbles? Controversies?

WHats wrong with Hip Hop

I have read the article Hip-Hop is no longer cooler than me by Paul Kix. Kix uses some of hip hop's artists albums as his reference such as Nas Hip Hop is Dead Album. this relates to the article that Kix has written because it talks about how bad Hip Hop has become and how we are more entertaining than Hip Hop  just as Nas Album announces. Nas album helps with what Kix is saying very well because they both are saying the same thing. As Kix grew up with a older fat friend who is also from Iowa who loves Hip Hop just as much as he does. Kiz also talks about the old generation being down with things the new generation does such as what a Hip Hop artist named Soulja Boy created, a dance called Crank dat soulja boy.

I think Nas does help kix with Hip Hop not being cool anymore because it  is not fun anymore is someone in our generation to do the dance that is  made for us specificly. I like how his friend that he met on the bus who loved Hip Hop just as much as him let him listen to his radio that was so kind of him.

Relation to the disaster is no longer innocent...

   In the article "The Imagination of Disaster," Susan Sontag writes about movies being less about science but about disasters. Sontag reveals "devices that give movies their shape, their meaning and their cultural reasonance" (316). Author states that we live under "continual threat of unremitting banality and inconceivable terror"(316). The reason why we like to watch sic-fi movies is because it's "an escape into exotic dangerous situations which have last-minute happy endings" (316). Susan Sontag uses a Superman as an example of similar ideas in science fiction movies with an important difference in it. "The old science fiction films and most of the comics, still have an essentially innocent relation to disaster" (323). Many of this versions of films offer an invulnerable hero that has to save the world using his superpowers against the evil. Author also says that modern historical reality extended and exaggerated the imagination of disaster and that the relation to the disaster is no longer innocent.
   Superman which Sontag used as the example in her article is a fictional character of 1930's. A superhero first appeared in comic books and later on was widely used in American pop culture. Superman's story has been filmed in many versions like "superman," "superman returns" and the most recent one "the man of steel." Superman original story tells about a child that was born on the planet Krypton before it destroys, he escapes on the rocket to Earth. The rocket crash-landed in Kansas, where he was found and raised by Kent family as Clark. As a child he gains his superpowers, graduates college majoring in journalism and gets a reporting job at Daily Planet. Where he meets Lois Lane and falls in love with her. Through out his story he fights evil on behalf of good and as all the stores usually have a happy ending at the end, this one does too. But what Sontag was trying to say is that nowadays the disaster is exaggerated more than before. And that the relation is no longer innocent, people want to see the disasters in movies, that is our escape into dangerous situations!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Violence, Pop. Culture &Sailor Moon

The reading I chose to use is Violent Media Is Good For Kids by Gerard Jones a comic book author who has lots of past experience with 'creative violence'. In his article, Jones argues that children who aren't sheltered from bloody, violent and rage filled pop culture (video games, comic books, gangster rap) are able to express and understand some complex emotions (loniness, sadness, anger, rage) more fully and therefore progress into adulthood with a better grasp on said emotions and the world.
Jones uses a few personal examples such as the fact that the Hulk comics his mother borrow from one of her students helped him break out of his lonely and awkward shell. Taking from his own positive experiences, when his son was afraid to climb a tree, Jones looked to the wild and brave Tarzan for help. Another young girl, Emily, who's parents were going thought a tough divorce helped herself through it partly by re-enactment fights from the popular early 90s anime Salior Moon.
Sailor Moon is a 18 volume, 200 episode manga and anime series from japan that centers around our main heroine, Usagi who is by all accounts a super normal, air-headed 14 year old girl. Her normal life changes when she meets a magical cat Luna and learns she is a magical warrior destined to save earth. Throughout the anime, she is joined by other girls—the Moon Princess Guardians--all named after and based on the planets with individual powers who work together to fight against evil.
I feel like Jones chose the example of Emily and Salior Moon to show that it's not only boys that are helped by 'violent' and pointless cartoons or comics. There is fighting involved in the show (toned way down for American audiences, the original Japanese version is a bit more graphic in terms of fighting and even includes a few lesbian relationships) but there are also many lessons for girls to be learned. Usagi and her friends teach young girls the importance of being strong and true to themselves no matter what troubles they have, no matter what obstacles they might have to face. 

Sup Nigga, Sorry I Meant Ninja: The Restrictions of Who Can Use The N-Word

       "Yo What's going on my nigga?' This question can lead to a brutal beat down or a simple response. It all depends on what you look like. For years there has been disputes about the meaning of the word and who can use it. In her essay The N-Word Is Flourishing Among Generation Hip-Hop Latinos: Why Should We Care Now?, Raquel Cepeda looks into why the latin community has embraced the word nigger. Acceptance of the word came with hip hop in the 90's. Spanish rappers like Big Pun, Fat Joe, and rap group Cypress Hills used the word frequently in their songs. People who identified with these rappers began using the word more freely. In an interview with radio personality, Leon Rogers, Fat Joe said the n-word "somehow became  way to embrace each other". The term became a word of endearment.  Cepeda brings up an unforgettable moment in pop culture history. To promote his new album originally entitled Nigger, rapper Nas and his entourage showed up to the 2008 Grammy Awards wearing shirts with the word "nigger" on it. Nas received a substantial amount of backlash for this. Black activist leader`s, the media, and other blacks shunned the rapper for his decision. Nas defended his actions by saying he did it to weakened the word. In the interview with MTV, he said "we're taking power from the word. White boys ain't mad at cracker cause it don't have the same sting as nigger. I want nigger to have less meaning than cracker."By using the word so much, the negative power gets taken away from it. Nas decided to drop the title of the album. Not because of the pressure from society, but because of the way his community's elders felt about it. His album is untitled. But his cover art shows the letter n whipped onto his back.
       This pop culture moment relates perfectly to the Raquel Cepeda's essay. The criticism of Nas's actions parallel the points of the essay. In it Cepeda give the different view points about the word. Some considered it a taboo word and felt no person should say it under any circumstance. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton didn't approve of Nas's title because of the word's negative history. The NAACP even went as far as to give the N-word a formal burial. Raquel Cepeda also brings up the point that blacks use it "as a term of inclusion and solidarity." This relates to Nas's quote about weakening the n-word.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

In the article “Creating the Myth” written by Linder Seger she explains the different types of myths we see in many movies. Seger explains that these myths come from similar experiences in cultures and a universal story, the same stories successful films follow. These story lines often are successful because we can relate and find some connection within our own lives. Seger explains the steps the hero myth usually follows in a movie, and one of the movies she mentions is The Wizard of Oz.


 In her article Seger references The Wizard of Oz, a movie released in 1939 featuring Judy Garland. The Wizard of Oz is a musical adventure movie that starts off in a mundane world of Kansas in black in white.  Dorothy runs away from home and on her return gets caught in a tornado. As the story progresses Dorothy finds herself transported into a colorful wonderland.  She receives help from Glinda the good witch who appoints her in the direction she must go to get home. Dorothy must travel the yellow brick road, where she meets three friends who help her on her journey. The Scarecrow who is searching for a brain, the Tinman who is searching for a heart, and the cowardly lion who is searching for some courage. They help her while she goes through the many obstacles the wicked witch sets before her on her search for home. Dorothy is a prime example of a hero according to Segers hero myth. She starts off in an ordinary world and finds herself on a journey toward heroism (336). “This universal process forms the spine of all the particular stories” (336).  Dorothy finds her world turned upside down, she receives guidance, she overcomes obstacles she even hits rock bottom. But then she finds her courage and stansd up and in the end becomes the hero of the story. This is what Seger explains is a classic “Hero Story” (339).

If Hip Hop was the Economy, This Would Be the Recession..

Hip Hop Is No Longer Cooler Than Me by Paul Kix explains how the content of Hip-Hop has lost it's power. Kix describes how he has grew up enjoying hip hop's charisma and ability to express emotions with slick lyrics. In the passage, Kix refers to a group called N.W.A. (Niggaz With Attitude). N.W.A. was a clique of rappers including Ice T., Dr. Dre, Eazy E and many more. In an article, Gangsta Rap by Jooyoung Lee, in Encyclopedia of Social Problem, the importance of N.W.A. was to explain the trials and tribulations that was prominent in South Central Los Angeles during the 1980's. 

In the article, Jooyoung Lee talks about the negativity and social merits of 'Gangsta Rap'. Many people believe that gangsta rap has a negative affect towards children that listen to it. The belief that the lyrics are to ruthless for kids and introducing them to the ida that crime is okay. On the other hand, others argue that music like Fuck the Police by N.W.A. are informative. A song like so, allows people to understand the problems that are arising in pover-ish communities.

Fuck tha police
Comin straight from the underground
Young nigga got it bad 'cause I'm brown
And not the other color so police think
They have the authority to kill a minority

Fuck that shit, 'cause I ain't tha one
For a punk muthafucka with a badge and a gun
To be beatin on, and throwin in jail
We could go toe to toe in the middle of a cell

Fuckin with me 'cause I'm a teenager
With a little bit of gold and a pager
Searchin my car, lookin for the product
Thinkin every nigga is sellin narcotics - Ice Cube

These are the first lyrics recited by Ice Cube. As a kid, Kix was entertained by this. Yes, some of the lyrics should probably be censored for an 8 years old but the real message does have a greater meaning. Kix believed this was cool because the raw expression that Ice Cube and his conglomerate was introducing to the media was something that needed to be heard. 

This is why Kix doesn't believe hip hop is cooler than him. Some artist today are using catchy beats and mediocre rhymes just to make a profit instead of using their power that they have. Hip hop was cool when it was controversial. A lot of artist that I myself listen too are going back to this older style of hip hop, bringing back the 'cool' that our society is missing. 

There's no place like home

In the article Creating the Myth  by Linda Seger, Seger writes about most movies being myth movies.  Myth movies are actually the stories in the film that relate to our own life.   "Myths are the common stories at the root of out own universal existence." (Seger 335) and she says that most successful films are actually based on these universal stories.  Seger begins to explain how  we begin to identify ourself in these films and that's why we keep going back to see them, even though they are very predictable.   Seger brings up the "hero myth".  She writes 10 basic steps about how most heroes are portrayed in movies and I've got to say as I was reading them, I was saying to myself, she's so right!  Step 4 explains how the hero usually receives help from an unusual source and uses the example The Wizard of Oz to help prove her points.

In the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, the main character Dorothy Gale, receives help from the good witch of the north.  The Wizard of Oz is an American musical fantasy film about a young girl living with her dog ToTo and her guardians Aunt Em and Uncle Harry in Kansas during the 1930's. After been sleeping in her bed Dorothy wakes up to her house being caught right in the middle of a cyclone, where she then winds up in a technicolor world of Oz called Munchkin Land. After her house landing on the wicked witch of the east, Dorothy is then treated like a heroin to the muchkins and the good witch of the north, but is threatened by the witch of the west, and Dorothy then knows she must leave Munchkin Land. The witch of the north tells Dorothy to follow the yellow brick road to Emerald City where the Wizard of Oz can help her. On her way, Dorothy meets some  friends who join her, all seeking help from the wizard. After overcoming some obstacles, finally reaching Emerald City, the wizard refuses to grant any of their wishes, where then ToTo reveals the true "wizard" who is just a normal middle aged man who says he's a "hum bug".  He then grants all their wishes and tries to send Dorothy off home on a hot air balloon but it flies away without her.  Feeling down, The good witch of the east then shows up with red ruby slippers and tells Dorothy to tap her heals 3 times repeating "there's no place like home." This is the part Seger was talking about when the hero receives help.  After returning home, Dorothy promises never to run away again and although it is unclear if she was in Oz or not, Dorothy learned the value of family.

The website http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/852/The-Wizard-of-Oz/articles.html led me to an article on some basic information of this film.

Brainnnnnnnnnnssssssssssssssssss

The reading I have chosen is "My Zombie, Myself: Why Modern Life Feels Rather Undead" by Chuck Klosterman. In this article Klosterman talks about popularity of zombies and why so many people love them. He believes that zombies popularity is because of how simple they are. Klosterman wrote "there are slow zombies and there are fast zombies"(385). Another reason they're so simple is because their easy to kill. He also talks about the difference between a vampire and a zombie apocalypse. 
One source that Klosterman used in his article was AMC's "The Walking Dead". This show is follows Rick Grimes and his group of survivors through a zombie apocalypse. While fighting millions of zombies throughout the show they are also fighting against other people and must come up with a plan to survive. "The Walking Dead" relates exactly to what Klosterman is talking about in his article about the popularity of zombies. According to a New York Times article written by Bill Carter, "‘Walking Dead’ Premiere Is Highest Rated Show of TV Season" Season four of "The Walking Dead" pulled in 16.1 million views. So far that number has pulled in more views then any NFL game this season. It also topped the popular TV show "Breaking Bad" finale. This supports what Klosterman is saying because a show about zombies has topped everything and is more popular right now. For the show to top half of an NFL season is pretty impressive because of the popularity of sports in this time. It also was able to drawn in more viewers then other popular TV shows which help to support why people appeal to zombies. Since so many people are watching it, it's  obvious that, as Klosterman said "if you dig zombies, you dig the entire zombie concept"(387). Which shows that zombies have constistant popularity as time goes by

Why Fear Never Dies: How Hollywood Ca$hes In On Terror

 
“Incredible! Invisible! Insatiable!” They’re here! And you’re next! Getting scared yet? Yeah well, me neither. That’s because we live in 2013, the age of, “been there, done that,” and “please, I already saw that on YouTube.”  But you know who was easily scared? Movie goers back in the 1950’s. Researching Invasion of the Body Snatchers from Susan Sontag’s article made me realize why she focused so much on the role of fear in pop culture. During the 1950's there was an influx of the sci-fi movies, many of which had political undertones about Communism and the fear of a nuclear war between the two main superpowers at the time, the United States and the Former Soviet Union.
 
A recent article in the LA Times called "A Second Look: Invasion of the Body Snatchers," discusses the "red scare" or fear of Communist spies living amongst American citizens  in the 1950's and the profound impact it had on Hollywood. US SenatorJoseph McCarthy of the time used his political power to lead an investigation into the political activities of several  top Hollywood officials and actors resulting in the blacklisting of several stars and the end of their careers. Movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers preyed upon the mass hysteria of this time period and like Senator McCarthy, these films were able to manipulate an audience who was not as sophisticated as we are today. 
Let’s take a walk down memory lane to get inside the mind of folks in the 1950’s by taking a sneak peak at the trailer from 1956, the year the movie first debuted …
 
 
Will we ever go back to those simpler times? Probably  not. We're all amateur cynics and more likely to question what we are told. Plus, it takes a lot more special effects and cinematography to get us scared and excited. Just look at the trailer from the 2007 remake of the film:

 

This newest version stars Nicole Kidman as a heroine who is not only a  working professional but who also knows how to shoot a gun. What a far cry from the damsel in distress the lead actress Dana Wynter plays in the original film. Plus unlike the 1956 version, the 2007 remake is not kid friendly and has a PG-13 rating due to what the website IMDB calls “violence and disturbing images.” 

 The one constant that remains and what I think is central to Sontag’s argument is that fear is a very powerful money making tool in pop culture. Just look at all of the sci-fi films which capitalize on that age old fear of the end of mankind this from year alone:
 


 


The panic that sets in when you believe the end is near and the relief of having some lone hero saving all of humanity from annihilation will always be a rollercoaster ride we enjoy getting on. I guess the more things change, the more things stay the same. Maybe we are not much more sophisticated after all…

 

Postman's Postmodern Position.


Neil Postman is responding to Plato’s Phaedrus by comparing the invention of Thamus’ writing to advancements in technology in 1992. However outdated the computers or VCR’s he mentions from that time, the ideals are still applicable to the iPhones and tablets of today. While acknowledging the truth in the Kings response he is disputing that he is incorrect in only acknowledging what writing, is taking away and not what it could provide. Postman’s main point is that technology provides us with a new perception of reality. We aren’t in the absence of knowledge when watching entertainment on Television; we are learning to value a different experience, which is something we take into all aspects of our life. I believe that what motivates the writers argument is not only a strong interest in how media is portrayed, but also the ways the many changes in society have been discovered. The technological community, especially today, as a whole is affected meanwhile people who have access to all the knowledge the Internet provides do not know how they are effected. In both English and Mass Media class as well as on my own I have looked at how different mediums affect us. The reason English class or any class exists is due to the invention of the printing press as noted by Postman and the pop culture of 2013 is explored and advertised primarily through technology. In one section Postman recognizes grades given by professors as a technological form. In one section he mentions that it is “peculiar” to give someone a number or letter grade on his or her ideas and opinions and for someone who does not see it as that, it is due to the conditioning of society. Personally I can say adaptation and relativity are the two hardest concepts to grasp and the most important today. Whereas structure may have been prized around the time that Postman was writing. In a generation where the moment is what we are checking our Facebooks for the most chaotic and shocking instances are what get the most ‘Likes’. Its not anarchy that we are grasping for it’s the competition of capitalism that we learn from the day we get our first A.