Friday, May 30, 2014

Dying Children: "Like" It, It Will Make You Feel Better

Problem: Haiti is hit by a 7.0 earthquake in 2010. 
Problem: Japan is hit by a devastating tsunami in 2013. 
The Solution: Clicking the "Like" button on Facebook to spread awareness of the issue, or donating $10 to the Red Cross that will more or less trickle down to the actual problem in the disaster-struck regions.
     This is one of the largest dilemmas that we face today. The eruption of mass media and communication has left us no excuse for not being aware of worldwide issues. This is true. Nevertheless, the way that many Americans and privileged countries respond to such known issues has a very minimal positive impact on the problems that the world faces today, such as starvation, sex-trafficing, mindless torture, animal abuse, child-soldiers, global pollution, must I go on? Our core class has already discussed this matter during the Africa unit about getting a selfish gratification out of donating to a charity or sharing a story about a world problem, without really shedding any light on the long-term solution for the conflict at hand. I saw these two pictures on my Tumblr dashboard, and it got me thinking: We're not really helping, are we?
     I guess the best way to approach such worldwide issues is to become more knowledgeable about the source of the problem before blindly donating to a large-scale charity,and putting other's interests before ours is the best way to go.

The MOOKS of Our Society

     "Healthy masculine energy." Could you define that for me? Does that mean being into cars, having aggressive energy, not showing emotion, having big muscles, ect, ect? Many people are not very fond of the way men are portrayed in the media. This is because they are portrayed as manly men, which is a very narrow classification of the variety of men and boys who live differently in our society. This classification is an all too common "mook" that is used by many industries for their male target market profiles. Industries believe that since this societal standard for men has been widely accepted and sought after, if they appeal to this standard then men will buy their products because they aspire to become a societal-defined man. This is such a popular "mook" profile because it offers a ready-made identity, and  provides a category of people for males who have a need for affiliation.
     In the video below, I agree towards the end when he says that when raising boys, they should have the equal influence of both their mother and father (or of a male and a female). But the way that he talks about the influence of women on their boys comes off as a stereotypical, negative thing, as if being raised only by your mother will make you less of a "man." The message that is being told in this video is that all boys have a "masculine energy" within them that they need to channel into becoming a macho man who does manly things. 
     I disagree with this for the same reasons that I disagree with the stereotypes that are set for women: 1) They are hard to achieve, and 2) These stereotypes only represent a very small portion of the variety of different kinds of men there are. Who says men have to be masculine? Who cares, anyway? For the most part, girls aren't into the whole showing off, flex your muscles facade that many guys believe is a turn-on. This will sound corny, but guys, you don't have to aspire to become something that's unattainable, or something that you don't believe reflects who you really are.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Let's Talk About the Body

     Mr. Starace said there were no limitations for the content of the media that we covered in our blogs, so I am now going to take it to heart. Yes, I would like to talk about boobs. It's ok, there's no need to get squeamish when you hear the word, because 50% of the world's 7 billion people have them. But I don't just want to talk about boobs; specifically, I want to talk about body image, and how media has warped it into this unattainable, nearly impossible expectation that people of all ages, female and male, struggle to obtain.
     I find this topic of body image largely accepted, and yet ignored and unaddressed in our society. Regarding the women in lingerie, clothing, dieting product advertisements and many others, their bodies are often warped into these unrealistic images. They are curvy, but not too curvy because that would mean they're fat (because we all know that fat is gross); they have long, skinny legs, with the definition of their leg muscles showing, but not too prominently because that would make them look too macho and manly (which is "unfeminine" and therefore unattractive); and their breasts and butts are perfectly rounded and proportional, because anything that is not proportionate to the rest of your body and is shaped differently from these women is not normal and should be looked down upon and changed immediately.
     Why can't the little imperfections of our bodies that the media tells us to change be celebrated? I don't know about you, but I find it rather boring to see the same ol' women on the magazines with their large breasts, tanned skin, and legs for days. It's much more interesting to show the variety of bodies that there are in the world, and to start seeing them no longer as unnatural and ugly, but as beautiful creations. Here is the article that I read before I went on a tangent:

     It's just not worth it. You were born with a body, and you will die with that very same body, excuse the morbidity of the truth (unless you get implants or whatever, but that's a whole different story of controversy). Who cares whether or not it looks like Kate Upton on the cover of Sports Illustrated? Chances are she was airbrushed, her skin tanned, her thighs made smaller, her breasts enlarged, her blemishes erased... And since when does our definition of beauty and normalcy have to be defined by the media? The media has only defined these two terms of beauty and normalcy into impossibly narrow, unrealistic categories anyway.

I think this is better, and much more realistic, not to mention more beautiful:

Why try to change in attempt to fit yourself into these fabricated categories made by the "beauty" industries of our societies? I say give them the fist,
and let em know that you are going to embrace your body and there's nothing they can do about it.

Boobs. Breasts. See? That's not so bad. And after reading this and you still don't believe me about the amount of photoshopping that goes into the bodies of women, think twice after watching this video:

Sunday, May 11, 2014


     After watching "The Persuaders," I found that this commercial provides an invitation to a "ready-made identity" to its audience and target consumers. This identity of not being a macho-American-big-vehicle-driver is implied. The audience that the Smart Car company is trying to target I believe would be conservationists hippies who don't favor the American concept that "Bigger is Better" when purchasing their cars. Is that a stereotype? Yes. Will this psychographic identified, fabricated audience appeal work to sell this car? Yes as well. 
     That is because this identity reaches out to so many people who fit into this category. It gives them a nice little cocoon of warmth and happiness to make them think that there is a whole community of people just like them who want to save the environment and who drive Smart Cars.
     Maybe it's just me, but I think its cute that the Smart Car isn't capable of overcoming the hurdles that the big, four-wheel-drive trucks are able to do in Chevy or GMC ads. This adds an element of humor (a technique for advertising) to the commercial.

Sexism in the 21st Century at its Finest

     So here's a fun little news story that Stephen Colbert graciously brought the media's attention to, about a Fox News host named Bill O'Reilly who openly made sexist remarks on his news channel (the best parts are his two female co-hosts' reactions at 1:57 minutes in the video). He begins the conversation on the topic of Hilary Clinton's potential running for the presidential office. He starts off by saying, "There's gotta be some downside to having a woman president". Excuse me, but what? He proceeds to try and defend himself by mentioning a number of different countries' approaches to women and their roles in society. I don't even know where to begin.
     His stereotypical point of view that women are inferior makes me quite literally nauseous. This stereotype that he holds has been constructed over centuries and centuries of ignorance, and has only been made more formidable through modern media's attachment and portrayal of this stereotype. These ideas that women are more emotional, maternally inclined, and too soft to make logical decisions is an extreme, a compilation of  "Single Stories" that do not cover the entire picture. Although they are not false observations, they have been blown out of proportion enough to disqualify women from equal positions as men. 
     It makes me so agitated that these views of women are still being portrayed in society and the media today, and even worse are still being held true as facts. In the media, women's bodies, emotional states, and capacity to perform less than that of men have been singled out and focused on as the only qualities that women possess, ruling out any other potential qualities that make women unique or more successful than men.

After watching Bill O'Reilly, I watched a refreshing little video to calm my agitation that might give you some hope for the future of women:

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Keystone XL Pipeline, Oh My!

Article Uno: (Labor Network for Sustainability)
Article Dos: (TransCanada)

Are you ready for some serious national controversy? No? Well too bad, because have I got a story for you! The construction of the Keystone pipeline has raised lots of heads recently for both the left and right-winged. The potential threat it poses to the environment and the potential abundance of new energy is making people scramble to argue for and against this pipeline.
I found two different sources on this topic, one "pro" and one "con". Each of them display differing usages of language to persuade their readers to their side on this issue. For example, the article on the TransCanada website argues that this project "will be the safest and most advanced oil pipeline operation in North America". They are quite blatantly trying to reassure people that this project will bring no harm to the environment. They also only highlight the good outcomes and not the bad ones of the pipeline, claiming that it will "provide jobs, long-term energy independence, and an economic boost to Americans". I found it interesting that they referred to new sources of oil as "energy independence"; by saying this, they are trying to appeal to the people who value freedom in this country, which is nearly every American. Also, by referring to their audience as "Americans", it gives the sense that these persuaders are trying to include a large number of people, and make them feel like they have a place and that this pipeline will benefit them.
On the flip side, the persuaders for the Labor Network for Sustainability make sure that their negativity towards this national project is heard through their argument. They even describe what the Keystone Pipeline will be doing to the environment will have a "negative impact". They are saying that opening up the tar sands in Canada will not only pose a huge environmental impact, but it could increase the occurrence of national disasters, and in the long run will not even be benefitting the economy, but will make unemployment rise.
What I noticed from these two articles is that the TransCanada side only covers the parts of the issue that will give them the upper hand. The TransCanada website did not mention a word in the article I read about a consequential environmental impact. On the other hand, the article which was con-Keystone Pipeline made their argument stronger by addressing both sides of the issue, both the environmental impact of this project and also

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Cycle of Dependency

It's an addiction. The first step is to get hooked. It began for me this summer when my parents finally decided to buy me a cell phone (at fifteen, Charlotte? How on earth did you survive before that?). Then for my birthday in November, I received a MacBook Air from my grandparents, so that it would be easier to "do homework". The temptation to be connected to the social world constantly began to affect my life. I didn't realize how fast I was being sucked into this cycle of dependency, one technology device at a time.
At first, once I became adjusted to having my laptop and cell phone always accessible and in close proximity, I thought, "Oh yeah, I can totally not be dependent on these. I don't want to become one of those Instagram and Twitter crazed girls at my school". But then, low and behold, the manipulative ways of the internet began to take reign of my brain.
I compare my relationship with media to an addiction, because I believe that my first step in this relationship was denial. I would deny to myself that I had no control of my impulses to constantly check my social media, whether it be Facebook or Tumblr, and believe that I was perfectly capable of controlling these impulses. Then this denial slowly gave way to a realization that my addiction to social media and the time I spend immersed within it was affecting my schoolwork and grades, my concentration levels when trying to do homework, and the amount of time I spent doing my favorite hobbies, such as reading, knitting, and making collages.
The third step in this abusive relationship that I found myself in was acceptance. I learned to accept how dependent I had become on social media, and tried to find ways to address this ever expanding problem. I began to (and still am) stow my laptop away in a different part of the house so I wouldn't become distracted during homework. I would turn off my phone and also relocate it outside my room to escape the temptation to turn it back on again to check my messages.
I think the problem that I have found with myself and our generation is that media is too accessible. What we need to be able to adapt to is learning how to balance our real lives with our online/technological ones, and come to realize that we should be prioritizing reality over this technological, deceptive world that is slowly eating away at our society.