Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Media, Networking and Phatic Culture - Vincent Miller

I picked it up and couldn't put it down. Aside from numerous trips to Dictionary.com and a detour to attempt and fight spam on my Facebook Account (which I found wonderfully ironic) I didn't stop reading until it was over. I've always had my suspicions on what detrimental effects these technologies are having on our culture as a whole. I especially liked how he took apart the "friend" concept and how he was very well cited. It was clear that Miller wasn't just stating opinions but really getting into the thick of the research. The main point is that human to human relationships are becoming more dependent on technology so that we can communicate with more people and maintain 'relationships' with these people through these technological tools. The result of this is a rise in the importance of 'staying connected' and a decline in the importance of actual substance in the information being expressed.

I didn't really understand what he meant by constant deconstruction and reconstruction of social connections. I haven't experienced this personally as I never communicate with people I don't talk to but maybe this concept is more widespread than I thought it was.

This is strongly tied to Raby's text about discourse. It is very obvious after reading tweets and FB status updates how the discourse creates this culture where everyone is talking about irrelevant things about themselves and vaguely listening to others while waiting for their turn to talk.

While reading and writing about this article I was texting with 3 different people, dealing with facebook spam, checking my e-mail sporadically, cooking food, having a dicussion with my mom, making coffee, and changing into clothes for school. Getting out of this internet connection/multi-tasking culture is a lot harder than I thought it would be. Anyone else in my boat???

Monday, April 5, 2010

Representing Teenagers: Photo Project

I would like to start by saying that this study is about one male teen and is most relevant to other male teens, while some female teens are also in this situation I have chosen to use male pronouns as they refer to this particular gamer and the other male gamers he interacted with during my observation.

Video Games are a major part of teenagers lives, especially in boys. Because of this fact, the content of these games is more important than ads and shows on T.V., as well as other forms of media, in shaping the physical, social and ethical habits of teens.

Video games have a particularly powerful effect that places you in a "different world" Because of this effect the players perception of time is altered and 2 hours can feel like 15 minutes. Since it is in the nature of all video games to have this time altering effect, gaming can lead to poor health choices, such as eating less often, because the mind is fully occupied with the game and less so with hunger and thirst.

When observing one teen gamer (Floating Phantom981) over the course of two weeks and paying special attention to diet, I noticed that the majority of his diet consisted of liquids, mainly the soda Mountain Dew, other sodas and occasionally Gadorade. The human body is not designed for a primarily liquid diet, it seems that this is a consequence of excessive gaming.

Video games are mentally stimulating. This is an important part of their design because if they were not mentally stimulating, then the consumer would not keep interest in the game for very long. Another reason this is crucial part of the video game's success is that in conjunction with the loss of a sense of time, this leads to late night playing, and deprivation of sleep cutting into time that the gamer may not actually have available in his day.

In the few times that FloatingPhantom981 was not drinking liquid for nutrition he stuck to convenient foods with little to no nutritional value such as chips and ramen noodles. And in the few times he was not gaming or eating he was at work. I took the opportunity to talk to him about why video games take up so much of his time. He said, "I want to go outside and play wiffleball and stuff, but all my friends do is sit and play games, no one wants to do anything anymore, I wanna get back into shape and stuff but no one else does." It seems like even the teens who have a desire to be more active feel as though they have no other choice.

Every different game FloatingPhantom981 played had something very interesting in common. Whether it was a FPS (first person shooter) an RPG (role playing game) or even a sports game, there was always some form of "achievements" Even if the game had been beaten or he had been claimed victorious over the opposing team, there was always incentive to gain awards for 'scoring 3 goals in one period', or 'killing 50 men without dying'. This "false sense of accomplishment" establishes a relationship between the game and the gamer that becomes stronger with each accomplishment, making it harder and harder to stop playing the game.

Just as Facebook and Myspace are Social Networking sites, the realms of online gaming are social networking sites. Entire social personalities are developed through online gaming. Because players need not be physically held accountable for their words and actions online, there is a tendency to be poorly mannered and often times intentionally disrespectful and crude for the sheer sake of their own entertainment. The normalization of racist, sexist, and narcissistic discourses is commonplace in the chat rooms and in-game-chat of these games and is dangerous in the least, strengthening the dominant culture in perhaps an even more effective way than in advertisement and media, it comes directly from the peers and participants of the culture itself.

The majority of the games FloatingPhantom981 played involved the killing of other players or AI NPC's (artificially intelligent) non-player characters. A constant exposure to killing, war, and destruction has an ethically numbing effect. And especially as the games become more and more realistic as time goes on, killing, war, and destruction become more and more normalized and naturalized in the mind of the gamer. This desensitization leads to less public outrage against war and more support for it. As this generation of digital gaming natives becomes a bigger percentage of the voting public, the chances that war will not be strongly opposed is higher, allowing the greed of certain politicians to go unchecked as we plunge into more years of war. In this photo the gamer is pointing the weapon at his enemy, but really he is the target. Media Literacy is crutcial. Media Matters. In the words of Providence's own Slam Poet Jared Paul "Its a war, one side doesn't know its going on, the other, is committed to winning at any cost"

Collateral Murder

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fast Forward

I really like the whole concept of the telling of a story though pictures. Some of the pictures were really disturbing, like Ashleigh weighing herself and the sophomore inhaling air freshener. I have a friend who's sister had a serious problem with inhaling, its an incredibly dangerous drug and the high lasts only seconds long which in combination with the chemical addiction creates a very seriously addictive and self-destructive habit.

Lauren Greenfield really earns some credit in my opinion by letting the kids tell her about LA and really trying to tell the story through their eyes. Through this medium it is very clear how media matters as it is effecting LA teens and even kids under 13 in major and serious ways. It is also interwoven through the media that youth is a culturally constructed category. You can see through the pictures responses to dominant ideas about fashion, lifestyle, and values.

A value of materialism to me was the clearest and most prominent attribute that much of these teens had. You could see the rappers stacks of bills, in the preface Greenfield talks about the kids with the $100 bills, Enrique pays $600 for his prom and it took him 2 years to save up the money. Another strong attribute shown here is a value of image which Greenfield also discusses in the preface. This is further supported by many of the pictures in the book such as the plastic surgery pictures and Ashleigh's pictures.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Where to begin...

"I don't menstruate"
"Neither do I"
-What a perfect beginning to a perfectly stereotypical feminist. Her overreacting, drum core music background, militant character does a lot to discredit the fact that feminism is a legitimate point of view, and that women actually are treated as second class citizens as she says out of context later in the episode.

"People think you're gay now"
-I get it, the show is trying to set up a "this is how it is" into "this is how it should be" kind of an idea in which glee club starts off as "gay" and ends up being "cool" as if the two words when used to describe something are mutually exclusive... boo.

"this banister was made by Ecuadorian children"
-Where the hell did that come from, why is that necessary. If you're going to make a statement about the abuse of foreign labor, that isn't the way to do it. More cheap laughs from GLEE

"This is where our daughter or gay son would sleep"
-Again, where did this come out of, what is its purpose, and at whose expense does this cheap laugh come from.

"I knew I would do whatever it took to make that dream come true"
-Reinforcement of the "American Dream" which is to live with massive excess at the expense of others. The life style they're trying to promote as a goal here is not sustainable, everyone can't live like that, there aren't enough resources, it just doesn't make any sense if you go through the logistics.

Will takes off his jacket revealing a particularly valued body, "I'll walk you through it"
-I wonder what it says in the script here to describe how he is supposed to deliver that line. Clear Alpha-male mentality reinforcement.

Both teenage female main characters are portrayed as hopelessly after the guy... like they're helpless

"I want to be thinner" Bulimia should not be treated in such a cavalier way. Its not a joke, making a joke about it isn't going to make it better. Rachel is already very attractive does not need to be thinner. Unfortunately I've only seen this as the case personally which makes it all the more real and provides more reason for this to be dealt with seriously.

"A wealthy relative died? Why can't we ever be the ones to catch a break?"
-At the risk of sounding too preachy I'm going to suggest that these characters take a trip to New Orleans, whose financial sector was restored very quickly after the Katrina disaster while the rest of the city is still left damaged. Or the Slovak Republic where an astounding amount of structures are still damaged by the bombings in WWII.

"I only joined to get into Quin's pants..."
-Reinforcement of the idea that all teenagers want is sex. Another cheap laugh... I get it, its ironic, its a celibacy club, not that funny...

A good point to make here though is that Rachel actually sheds light on the fact that abstinence as a method of birth prevention doesn't work for the majority of people and to deny other options is narrow-minded. And that teenagers of both genders desire sex, not one more than the other.

"Are you a janitor..."
"I'm really embarrassed... will you keep this between us?"
-The purpose, I'm guessing, with this dialogue is to establish some sort of deeper connection between Will and Emma via secret keeping, which is valid and in general a good idea, but not at the expense of more reinforcing of negative ideas. As if all janitors are bad people, or lesser people, or social outcasts as is reinforced in the scene where the other janitor courts Emma by saying...

"I'm a good man... They can't fire me because I'm a minority..."
-As if being a minority gives you job security... this is a clear anti-affirmative action sentiment. Many people believe that it is unfair and paint that picture that through affirmative action minorities have gained automatic acceptation into jobs, schools, and careers. When the reality is more likely that minorities are hired less often and have less job security than white people.

"you could do a lot worse... I'll put up with all of your crazy..."
As if women are something to "put up with" or "deal with" Grrr.....

Back to chronological order:
"We're going to give them what they want... sex"
-this blatant statement makes it obvious that our culture is at the point now that the media doesn't even need to mask its game plan anymore... they can say it straight out and still few are any wiser because of it.

"Push it." is garbage in my opinion, I'll fight against any nostalgia that it might carry.

"But all these songs have either jesus or balloons in the title" as
Will is reading the "pastor approved" song list printed on an American Flag background.
-This is a sneaky trick. FOX a company known for its right winged news and shows, patriotism and appeal to people of religious background and lifestyle is "making fun" of the right wing with this piece of paper, as if to say "look, we're on your side" when really they embody the very stereotype they are "making fun of" The purpose of this tactic is to subconsciously lure the viewer into a false sense of security so that they are therefore more susceptible to their particular agenda.

"But they are also songs about the circus"-principal

"What's a luftballoon?"-rachel

"99 luftballoons" released in the US as "99 red balloons" is a cold war protest song. It has nothing to do with the circus or Jesus. Not that I have anything against either the circus or Jesus, its just really a logical fallacy to associate 99 luftballoons to the circus or Jesus.

"You talk more than you should and to be honest with you I looked under the bed to make sure your weren't hanging out under there."
-Rachel should have slapped him across the face... As if women should be seen and not heard... Gender stereotypes for everyone... hooray!

this dialogue ends in a a premature ejaculation on the part of Finn. A really exaggerated and unrealistic one. He runs away embarrased and she's left crying alone on the stage... lets give another rousing hooray to exaggeration! hip hip...

"If you're meant to be pregnant it'll happen."
-as if there's some sort of fate that decides who is "meant" to have children and who is not...

...and the three cheerleaders have "pop perfect" voices.
-I know I'm supposed to suspend my belief, its a musical, everyone sings. But it gets a little insulting, having spent a lot of time practicing vocal technique to have it thrown around on TV like its easy. I want to make it clear that I believe that everyone can sing, and everyone should sing, its good for you, its a natural human thing to do. The concept of someone being "tone-deaf" is more of a myth than anything else. The voice is an instrument just like guitar or clarinet, some people are born with an innate ability to play particular instruments, but we're not all jimi hendrixes and benny goodmans...

Casting. By actor/actress's AGE If you look at nothing else...


Cory Monteith as Finn Hudson
AGE - 27

Mark Salling as "Puck" (mohawk football player)
AGE - 27

Amber Riley as Mercedes Jones
AGE - 24

Dianna Agron as Quinn Fabray
AGE - 23

Lea Michele as Rachel Berry
AGE - 22

Jenna Ushkowitz as Tina
AGE - 22

Kevin McHale as Artie Abrams
AGE - 20

Chris Colfer as Kurt Hummel
AGE - 19

So... the reason why the football players are so buff is not because they are football players, but because they're 3-8 years older than the rest of the cast!!

And... the less popular "glee members" are played by the youngest actors... who are still older than average high school age!!

This is FOX's bio of Tina, Jenna Ushkowitz's character

"Tina is a member of Glee. She is awkward and needs to suppress her stutter before she can take center stage. Her interests include speed-metal, emo-core, cutting off her dolls' hair, and hangin' wi' her speech therapist, Judy."

- of course the character with asian decent has her hair dyed blue... and has a speech problem... and listens to emo-core... I don't even know what emo-core is. When I looked it up I found it was pretty much synonymous with the musical genre "Emo" so i'm going to guess that FOX found emo-core a better way to say emo... As if any other genre of music is void of emotion.

Bring in that really poetic possibly FOX original closer... wait... its a Rihanna song... wow... I know there's a chance that I might be completely alone in my reaction because I don't really watch TV but GLEE, for me, is complete garbage. Not coincidentally brought to you by the same people that gave you nip/tuck. FOX and Ryan Murphy... thanks guys, you're awesome, keep up the good work.

Hilarious and Obvious

This is really really funny. Also, it is relevant and points out some stereotypical desires that all women are said to have.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sumner Redstone

Jared Ball's articles were interesting and engaging. What I understood from the articles was basically that Hip-hop is a corporate enterprise used by CEO's and other rich and powerful people to maintain the status quo, that is to keep as Ball calls it "Black America" in their place. And while there are socially and politically conscious Hip-hop artists out there, they aren't allowed to gain popularity as those in power promote their "music" and utilize psychology to hold the listeners attention with sex and violence. I think it was particularly enlightening to read that Michael Eric Dyson said that politically artists need "better beats". What he probably didn't realize when he said "better" what he really meant was, more familiar, more simplistic, less progressive, less creative beats that will hook the subconscious of the uneducated listener, resulting in the continuation of the dumbing down of music for manipulative ends. But I'm sure it was much easier to say "better beats".

After reading this I got curious. I've always heard that CEO's rule the world and rich white guys decide our fate and all that fun stuff, but i never really got into the thick of it. So I started to do some simple google searches on "owner of BET" at first glance it seemed that people of color owned and operated BET, but after a closer look I found that BET is owned by Viacom which is owned by Sumner Redstone and his family... By the way, he also controls MTV and VH1. So, an almost 90 year old white billionaire is dictating how we see young people of color. More specifically, an almost 90 year old white billionaire is dictating how teenagers see young people of color. But, he's almost 90, so his rein of terror will soon be over, right? Wrong. Its a family business, and the apples don't fall far from the tree. And many Redstone family members are already in the family business.

But there's hope in Hope City. Independent artists are gaining more and more traction through the internet via youtube, I-tunes, forums, blogs, and websites. As technology becomes more available and people become more connected, artists have to become more accountable for their work. You can no longer release an album with one or two good songs and 9 songs of filler and expect to sell the whole album, as consumers can just simply hop on I-tunes and only buy the songs they like. The band I am a part of called Prayers For Atheists is a part of a record company owned and operated out of Providence, RI by Sage Francis called Strange Famous Records. They boast conscious rappers such as B. Dolan and have allies in other Independent Hip-hop labels such as P.O.S. and Atmosphere. Listen to any one of these artists and tell me they need "better beats" or that their rapping abilities are sub-par. I think the first step any of us can do to fight against this constructed view of Hip-hop is to listen to, and support conscious Hip-hop. It's out there, in our own Providence community as well as communities around the US and the World.

Enjoy :)

"The rich get richer till the poor get educated"