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Archive for the month “January, 2012”

 Week Two: Ima…

 Week Two: Images, Power & Politics Reading Questions/Activities  
 
1.
Image
 
Signifier – It’s straightforward. You’re slapped across the face with “It’s not for women” right next to some Diet Dr Pepper.
 
Signified – It projects sexism. It aims for the male demographic by completely alienating the women demographic.
 
Sign – By saying “It’s not for women”, Dr Pepper is somewhat challenging men to buy the drink to prove how much of a man you really are. It even could be aiming slightly at women with the reverse psychology angle. Women might want to prove the ad wrong and play right into the hands of the marketing team at Dr Pepper.
 
Denotative meaning – The advertisement is stating the drink is not made for women.
 
Connotative meaning – It’s playing to the stereotype that society has that men are stronger, more powerful and tougher than women.
 
2.
Image
 
Michael Jordan is an icon. He started as a third overall pick going to the Chicago Bulls and now he’s a household name around the world. When he went to Barcelona for the 1992 Summer Olympics, he was by far the most popular player there. If you ask anyone to name a basketball player, they will say Michael Jordan. His influence hasn’t stopped there. Current greats like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade are judged by the standards he created. He has people killing others for shoes he wears.
 
3.
Representation – This refers to the use of language and images to create meaning about the world. There are many systems of representations (film, paintings, fashion, etc.). ‘Modern Family’ is a show on ABC that (somewhat) breaks away from the ‘one mom, one dad, couple children’ mold that’s been on television since ‘Leave It to Beaver’.  Sure there’s a family that represents the traditional family but there’s also a gay couple with a child and an older man with a woman half his age. It’s showing that not everyone has a traditional family and that’s just fine.
 
Myth – A myth is a story passed down from many generations that usually explained something that wasn’t easily explainable by humans without science long ago (such as how the world began, rain, death, etc.). Christianity and all other religions are myths because they cannot be proven true (with facts) but they also can’t be proven false. Christianity, like most myths, tell a story of how the world supposedly started and also tells exaggerated stories in order to teach people morals the creators of the myth thought were important.
 

Week One: What is popular culture? And, why does it matter?
  • Where has Freccero taught courses on popular culture?  How did these different experiences influence Freccero’s style of teaching or pedagogy?
Freccero has taught courses on popular culture at Dartmouth College and the University of California at Santa Cruz. Dartmouth, as expected, was a strongly conservative college. Her students didn’t really feel like pop culture was important and she had to find ways to convince them it was important. Santa Cruz is the exact opposite. It is as liberal as a school can be, so teaching popular culture would be more accepted than a conservative school.
  • What are the primary reasons Freccero gives for teaching popular culture?  What do you think of her reasons?  What reasons would you give for studying popular culture?
Freccero says that “public culture” already studies pop culture. It already argues, praises, or condemns pop culture so it’s not like studying popular culture in a classroom is a radical idea.  She also mentions “Cultural Literacy”. Her reasons are valid enough, her first one especially. Pop culture dominates our daily lives and to not study it would be foolish. A reason I would give for studying pop culture is to get an upperhand in business. If you know what’s popular (especially amongst 18-24 year olds), then it should be easier to market to them.
  • Freccero’s piece is from the introduction to her book Popular Culture: An Introduction, which was published in 1999.  How has the popular culture landscape changed since the time that Freccero initially wrote and published her book?  What examples would you suggest to make the chapter more relevant to audiences and readers of 2011/12?
In 1999, the biggest medium for pop culture was television. In 2012, it is without a doubt the internet. Now people can get their fifteen minutes of fame by making a subpar music video with horrible singing (ala Rebecca Black). Memes and their continuing popularity would get a huge spot in today’s version of this chapter. Sites like 4chan, Reddit, and Tumblr would have their own chapter as the genesis of many pop culture waves and memes.
  • What specific advice does the author of “How to be a fan of problematic things” give to her readers?  What problematic things are you a fan of?
You must acknowledge the thing that is problematic and refuse to make excuses for why it is problematic. You must take a step back and learn how to argue and criticize something you like without taking those arguments personally. You have to take other people’s views and criticism of your problematic thing and respect that opinion. I am a fan of Big L, the Wu Tang Clan, and Kanye West who have been accused of misogyny and homophobia.
  • According to s.e. smith, what is wrong with the idea that pop culture is ‘just’ entertainment?  Identify times and places when you have heard people make this argument.

Smith argues that you can’t dismiss a show, movie, commercial or video game as “just” a show, movie, commercial or video game because it represents, subconsciously, how certain people perceive themselves and others in a certain culture. My friends argue that Go Daddy commercials are funny and “just” commercials. But it shows the people that created it think women and their bodies are just objects to control or manipulate men into buying a product/service while simultaneous hurting the feminist movement.

What I think pop culture is:

The Simpsons have been synonymous with pop culture for over a decade.

What I don’t think pop culture is:

Boxers are just undergarments.

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