Thursday, November 17, 2011

Recap of my favorite TV show

TV today is, in my opinion, in competition with itself everyday. Since almost every main idea has been used in most TV shows, the main corporations that own each channel are trying to out do themselves by generating new ideas that encompass some sort of creative flair. I started watching "New Girl" but I always forgot when it was on. I also watched "Ridiculousness" but I found myself missing episodes of that as well. So what makes a TV show work? I guess this could be up for debate depending on each individual response but for me, I think a TV shows success involves some degree of popularity amongst groups of people.

Now I know that seems a bit obvious but it's true. These new shows or lightly watched shows (still successful) are never spoke of. This leads me to tell you what my favorite TV show is; The Amazing Race. I have watched this show with my family for years. I feel it encompasses all the necessary ingredients for a TV show, some of which being, entertaining, game show quality (addictive), popularity, genders and ages (appeals to adults, teens and children of each sex).

For those of you who may or may not watch this show, here is a recap of what the show is all about.

I think things tend to get a bit complicated and rant feeling when people do multiple page recaps. I didn't necessarily like the reading we did for "True Blood," a show I have never watched before, because it delved too deep into things I didn't feel were worth mentioning. In my attempt to recap, I will try to cover all the bases without loosing you so here it goes. The Amazing Race is a game show for a prize of 1,000,000 dollars. Typically twelve teams will embark on a journey that takes them around the world to fascinating places. Teams of two are chosen to be on the show through castings, which each team is required to send to CBS. At each destination the teams will have to face multiple scenarios where they will do challenges and eat things they normally wouldn't. Besides the point of this show being a game show, there is some cultural education happening here. Each team will learn a specific trade or engage in some sort of activity that highlights the country's culture. In past seasons, "road blocks" are yet another obstacle. Teams must race to be the ones in the lead throughout every activity and arrogance or rushing could cause the teams a major set back.

For me, this show, through all it's seasons has opened my eyes to corners of the world that I had little to no education on. I feel that the show has broaden my horizons and at times even encouraged me to visit some of the places. With saying that, there has also been some countries in which I would never think twice of going. During a single episode you will see the teams compete against each other in a series of multiple challenges, some of which the teams themselves have decided to do when they get their cards that present them with a few choices. This serves as an interesting part of the show because the people watching at home start to think of what they would do as well and although some sound easier than others, they prove to be harder. Also, one team member, most of the time, is to engage in the activity they chose. If one team member does one activity, the next is left to the other team member so one person does not carry the team.

The Amazing Race incorporates all of today's must haves, which I think is both clever and genius. Game shows are addictive but can also become boring since the game is set in one way. The Amazing Race has taken this game show quality and added it to the whole reality TV phase that our country is in. Populations all over the globe look forward to this show season after season because each time the places and people are different.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Super Hero by Divine Right

I've never been much of a comic reader, I'll be honest. I prefer photographs to cartoons, words on a page to conversation bubbles and real heroes that can do real things to those who can supposedly save this world. "Watchmen" by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, my was first comic novel.

In American Popular Culture, we discussed as a class, the relations between justice and the heroes of "Watchmen." The entire character of Rorschach came spiraling together for me when Professor McRae related Rorschach to a vigilante in relation to a topic of countries. Relating the United States to Rorschach was a clever tie into the reading because he is an active hero in "Watchmen." This hero also decides how and why justice is served which proved to be a controversial topic in class discussion. Students could not seem to agree on an opinion of our justice system here in America because we struggled over whose hands the decision of "justice" should fall into. We, as a class, could agree on one thing: we do not think that each individual in the US should decide for him or herself how to make sure justice is being served. A common agreement was made on letting a higher power make these decisions for us. It seems the trouble we have with the justice system here in the US is trust in making the right move because we have too often seen the wrong move being made.

To tie this into the reading I chose a few symbols to work with. Within the first hundred pages I noticed a large amount of visuals including; crosses, statues of religious figures and words like lord, mercy and heaven. I thought this was particularly interesting because Rorschach himself seems to be a divine symbol of a god to his people and basically carries the title of the big shot who calls the last minute shot in every scenario. I thought it was yet another clever detail the book possessed because these items served as clues for its readers to pick up on the fact that he is shadowing a godly figure.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wizard of Oz: Rethinking

Dorothy isn't the same pig-tailed girl I remember; she's different now that I'm older and educated. Within the first few moments of the film shown in class, Wizard of Oz, all I thought of was how much I hated when people sing in movies. I never noticed it as a child, perhaps I had developed a hatred for musicals over the years but needless to say, it was the first thing that caught my attention.

Having previous knowledge from Professor McRae that this was a film that had close knitted weaves of homosexual innuendos throughout, made me look for things that I hadn't seen as a child. I was looking at the movie with a critical eye this time, searching for underlying meanings and areas with double meaning. What I found was the obvious, as discussed in class. I didn't know that rainbows were associated with gays due to Wizard of Oz. This alone opened a lot of doors throughout the film to notice feminine behavior amongst Dorothy's three friends. The land of Oz was comforting and like a student put it, it was a place to be yourself. Being as though the film bounced from black and white to color was a key ingredient of the newness that entered Dorothy's world. Even though their was no mention of sex preference, this place was introduced as inviting with its colorful world and flamboyant characters.

The reading brought up a point that I liked when it mentioned how the heart, brain and courage were treated like objects instead of ideas. This to me was a clear as day indication of how the movie is criticized. "Home" was being treated like an object, a destination throughout the entire movie when at the end, Dorothy had to find it within herself to go back to the place like no other.

Now the two points I'd like to bring up are these: I never realized how towards the end, when the wizard was granting everyone their wishes, that he described the common person from America. He did this when he said, "where I come from" which was interesting because it seemed to downgrade people who went to college. Handing the scarecrow a diploma and saying that the only thing others have that he doesn't isn't a brain, it's a diploma. I thought this was very interesting now that I look back on it.

The point that I would like to bring up in something much different than those mentioned in class. I took a very political standpoint upon watching the movie as an adult. Being as though the movie came out during the Depression, people were undoubtedly grieving and in distress. Let's face it, America was a train wreck at the time and what better than to go to the movies to get away from it all? Wizard of Oz creates this fantasy by first reminding you that life is pretty unbearable at home before launching into a world where your mind can wonder and lookey there, it's in color! It has a relationship automatically with its audience because everyone at that particular time probably did wish they were somewhere over the rainbow in another land. This was the movie to help them escape. As the innocent story continues Dorothy keeps repeating how she begs to go home and "there's no place like home" even though she is somewhere magical and perfect. This to me, was hinting that "home" meaning America, is where you should return to and it is home that has a pull over you even though life can be beautiful elsewhere.

As the reading said, the book did not end the same way the movie did. People argued that the movie needed a "happy ending" and that's because America did not want to let their citizens know that there was an alternative. When you think of it realistically, when Dorothy returns home and wakes up in her bed, is she really happy to be back there? We never get the chance to see if she indeed is happy. This screamed politics to me especially at the end when they left you with her happy, reminding the audience that what she encountered was only a dream.

Something to think about I suppose, how many angles can we see this movie through?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fashion For All

Yes, I would consider myself a true follower of fashion. To tell you the truth, I think everyone in some shape or form is or was. Whether it's the past, today or tomorrow's world, we have all lived in a world surrounded by fashion statements, fashion don'ts and general fashion that gets us by because, well we have to wear something don't we?

Marjorie, from "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" was pleasantly refreshing, at least in my opinion. Though she was mean, she was also truthful and definitely a follower of fashion. I guess I should start off by saying what I think a "follower of fashion" means to me. I think a follower is someone who not necessarily dresses and wears the latest fashion and shops from the trendiest stores but rather, they are educated on fashion. These are the people who can spot "Lucky Jeans" a mile away or see a penguin on a shirt and know it's the Penguin Company. These are the people who don't always wear expensive designer clothes, but know one design when they see it.

I, being a follower of fashion, find this ability distracting at times, especially in movies because of scenarios in particular. If a movie is representing a family that is "low-income" or is struggling to pay bills, they have these actors dressed in the highest fashion. A true follower of fashion would hit a road block here because the scene becomes unrealistic by what the actor or actress is wearing. I think Marjorie is just like this.

She deep down probably loves her cousin Bernie but her lack of social intelligence is blinding to Marjorie. It's hard for her to see the whole picture of Bernie being a person who has a brain because she is too busy obsessing over the things that she doesn't have.

As we talked about in class, Marjorie just told it like it is and in the words of one of the students, "Marjorie's keeping it real." I agree with what this student said because Marjorie is only asking that everyone have something to offer. She doesn't punish or make fun of the fat girl because she is fat. If she's funny, she has something to offer and that seemed to be enough for Marjorie.

Straying a little away from the reading, I think it's important to really look to where fashion originated. We've seen pictures of past fashion in class and we've read about women's clothing slowly maturing into lesser garments. I think this thought of fashion in general and all this time women and men spent on fussing over clothing was due to the fact that there was time.  Time to be wasted for a change, instead of spending it on trying to live. Sure everyone was trying to make a living and horrible things were happening all across the country, particular in the south, but people who had a touch more money than most could afford to put some though into how they looked.

What do you think of this theory? Which side are you on- Bernice or Marjorie?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Magical Thinking

Watch this video

Looks familiar right? This commercial gets my roommates and I riled up for some reason or another and we can't help but express our undying love for this commercial. Personally, I think it's hard to have a really great commercial in the world of advertisement.  Everyone is trying so desperately to keep up with one another that some dance in the spotlight and others fall by the waist-side. This commercial however, uses a few unique tools to help viewers remember their product over others.

In class on Thursday we talked about this concept called, Magical Thinking. ideas in class were tossed around about how we as a human population are in aw over the glitter of advertisement. Magical thinking says that when we buy this product that is advertised it will make our lives better. In class I found the concept of magical thinking very interesting and understandable when we discussed the idea of taking a pill-it just really dawned on me I guess. Whatever your problem was, it was curable with a pill.

Getting back to my commercial, I thought how genuis it was to use a less attracttractive girl in the commercial because most commercials are flooding with beauitful women. I thought this gave the commercial a memorable quality to it. I also felt they did a good job with the story they told. By having the funky woman dancer dance her way into various different scenes it showed that the drink was versatile and happiness would surround you if you drank it.

Our magical thinking leads us to believe this ad because, for all the soda lovers out there, maybe they feel like dancing around and really they are living through the commercial. Therefore an average women dancing and drinking this drink seems normal because we find the commercial to make us feel good and most of the time it leaves us laughing. This was a clever advertising technique because if you use a song everyone knows and pair it with an image that people wont forget they will remember the product and buy it. I know for a fact that I use magical thinking everyday with buying things or even trying to get rid of a headache. Where do you use magical thinking?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pop Culture

As I made my way through the reading I noticed a trend in how people took to minstrel shows and for lack of a better word, "entertainment." Noticing how there was an unexplained attraction to things of all nature- offensive, non-offensive, funny, rude and sad. People still wanted to watch and at times, take part in these activities. 

In class, we spoke of black face and minstrel shows. I learned that "My Ole Kentucky Home" was in fact a minstrel song. One young man said "people are obsessed over how things got started," which got me thinking that some things/content is socially acceptable for the audience it applied to. The best example of this strange behavior was our conversation about Halloween and dressing up for it in costume. Wearing the dress of a Nazi on any other day besides Halloween would be frowned upon undoubtedly. Why is it OK on Halloween? It is a holiday where this behavior has been socially accepted. It is an act that has been applied to the US for generations now and very little concern would be shown for anyone's style of dress.

In the reading it says, "minstrel shows expressed class identification and hostility; they conveyed ethnic satire as well as social and political commentary of wide-ranging..." Now people were said to be attracted to this kind of display which leads me to think of the pop culture that I take part in.  I have noticed, much like what people watching minstrel shows did, that people often enjoy something that is offensive to others, simply because they are not the ones doing the offensive behavior. As I was watching MTV the other night a preview for a new show came up on the screen, "Ridiculousness." I remember making a comment to my friend about how badly I wanted to see the show.  I like to describe the show as being a more edgy version of America's Funniest Videos. What is it with people getting hurt that makes us laugh so much? I mean someone, somewhere is getting sometimes, seriously hurt and we think that's funny? I certainly do and I'm unsure why. 

I grew curious of how this tradition first began.  I guess the easy answer would be it started with minstrel shows, first form of entertainment-seeing someone get insulted by dress or facial expression. I think "Ridiculousness" is already popular because people in general like seeing people fall and stoop down to unknown measures of stupidity. One possible reason for this could be a physiological release for us as a human release to see others do what we are too scared or too smart to try.  Another could be that it simply makes us feel better about ourselves. Whatever the reason, we are under a common agreement that this is what makes us laugh. 

Once I dived further into this assignment I found the history on our favorite show, "America's Funniest Home Videos."  In the text it says, "The most common videos usually feature slapstick physical comedy arising from incidents, accidents and mishaps." Now this TV show originated in 1989/1990 and it wasn't even the first to make fun of people publicly. The show was actually based off a Japanese series Fun TV with Kato-chan and Ken-chan, which aired on the Tokyo Broadcasting System.  This is proof that poking fun of people getting hurt or acting in ridiculous manners has been a worldwide form of pop culture for decades. So when did this all start, I guess it's safe to say that this form of pop culture was born right along with us.