Friday, May 4, 2012

TV and "South Park"

        It wasn’t long before television followed radio, our first source of “technology” in relaying messages or providing entertainment faster than print.  TV today is a common medium that is rare to not be in an American home, seeing that it can be both informative and a way to unwind or relax by simply “vegging” out.  However, even if we are just using TV as entertainment, today’s entertainment often can be focused on what goes on around or what is happening in the news world.  The presenters of "South Park", a TV show that has been on air for over 15 seasons, discussed the idea that while "South Park" holds an entertainment factor and is mainly intended to be perceived as entertainment it also mocks real life situations and even what we had considered news.  Even though it is unique in form, "South Park" still follows John Fiske’s “The codes of television” in our Moodle reading of “Television Culture”.  Fiske describes the three levels of code that television follows as “Reality”, “Representation” and “Ideology”.
        "South Park" was also discussed as not being a racist show, but rather a show that makes light of those who are racist.  The group talked about how "South Park" has stopped at nothing and therefore redeems itself of simply showing us in humor what a racist society we are, but it made me ask myself, ‘Am I O.K. with laughing at something that while it claims to be pointing out racism is still making racist comments and remarks that are considered humorous therefore bending a societal depiction of racism?’  Here’s my opinion, "South Park" has taken the racism of American culture and simple humored it so it appeals to their audience as something that’s funny and yet managed to make some believe that it is not the show itself that is racist, but rather society and they (creators of "South Park") are simply pointing it out, when in reality they have provided a humorous outlet for those who watch to believe that it is O.K. and well accepted (sadly this is becoming true more and more) in American culture.  
          I find it interesting that more people seem to think that is a funny way to look at serious situations.  It’s not about the fact that ‘at least "South Park" is bringing certain issues into the light’, it’s about the fact that no one has stopped them from doing it in such a hurtful, often disrespectful, and extremely racist way.  I think that American society should care about what is being discussed in "South Park", or at least how it is being discussed.  I don’t think it is O.K. to cultural generations into thinking that it is educated to take a racist view on EVERYTHING.  Whether it’s funny or not. 

money, money, moneyball

        Wow, just when I thought I knew a little something about baseball, history is revealed.  Moneyball (2011) was one of the year’s highly acclaimed movies.  We found it at the Academy Awards with a Best Motion Picture nomination, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role nomination, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role nomination, and three other Oscar nominations.  It seems safe to say that prior to this movie, non-baseball fanatics had no clue about the legendary acts of Billy Beane, General Manager for the Oakland Athletics, and his acts of making baseball history, but thanks to Hollywood, the suave Brad Pitt and the willing to share Beane, a new populations now understands a little bit more about baseball and the Oakland A’s.

        Beane offered to share his story for the screen and showed American’s that a lot of hard work can pay off!  The idea that Beane and his newly hired Assistant General Manager, Peter Brand, contrive is to build a team based on hitting and on base percentage.  However, Beane was working with a mere $38 million compared to the Yankees $120 million budget.  One of my favorite things that the moneyball presenters talked about was the basic old world disorder-new world order difference.  The old world elements from this film is that money is power, the idea that the more money you (team manager) had, the better players you could buy.  In fact, the movie has a great scene showing us that’s exactly what the money was all about... to put players where you did and didn’t want them.  The scene where Pitt tells one of the team’s players that the reason he is the highest paid is because the Yankees are paying part of his salary to make sure he stays off their team.  The new world link that we see is that knowledge becomes power.  As Brand and Beane  construct new methods into finding good enough players using numbers and knowledge.
       The connection that I had also made when watching the movie, and the group briefly mentioned, was the relationship between Beane and the players, and for that matter, the realization of most general managers and their relationship with the team’s players.  Beane, in the movie, avoids all personal relationship with his players, and one of the players recognizes this as a Beane distancing himself so it would be easier on him if and when he needed to cut players.  There was also the movie element which resembled the master vs. slave relationship.  The manager is in total control of who plays for that team, and who doesn’t.  The “slaves” (players) must work at be the exact product the master needs them to be in order to result in a winning team.  
       These are just a few examples on how we can link this recent motion picture to old world disorder and new world order.  In retrospect I also saw this movie as very relatable to today’s culture and economy.  Baseball has been a huge part of America for quite some time, and the whole idea behind Moneyball is that Beane is working with a limited amount of money but has to buy the best money can... in a sense it’s all about the money and how far it will get you.  It’s interesting to see the contrast of what “America wants” and what Beane has to strategize to try and buy, and strategize he does!

Monday, April 23, 2012


       After doing this weeks after on chapter 12 and 13 in Barker’s text, and then comparing the movies (Rebel Without a Cause, Lost in Translation) to the different ideas and theories that our textbooks presents was beyond interesting for me.  I know I seem to say this every time, but sometimes it is hard for me to make a connection with limited examples.  However, I want to spend time talking about Capitalism and Urbanization because those are the two that really popped out at me, and that I came to a clearer understanding of after comparing and thinking about what the text says and the movies.  I have never seen Rebel Without a Cause but I had seen Lost in Translation.  Yes, there were plenty of examples in Rebel Without a Cause that could be compared to the text, but I really want to write about Lost in Translation.  Why? Because up until now I would have never tied this movie to urbanization, capitalism, post modernism, and other things that our text covers if I had not been ‘trained’ to think outside the box/critically or how this relates to these elements.                                                           
   I had seen Lost in Translation about four years ago and enjoyed it, viewing it as a film with a surface plot, like most people probably do.  I liked the idea of the bond between the two characters, and how Bill Murray’s character, Bob Harris, is sort of over his fame hype but has to deal with the cultural imperialism of another country’s hype and excitement to work with him.  I think with the second go around of this movie, I loved being able to understand the whole idea of cultural imperialism, urbanism, and capitalism as major elements to this film.  One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when the Japanese director is photographing Bob and is giving words trying to prompt specific looks asking for “Rat Pack”, “You know Sinatra?” and “Roger Moore”.  This is a perfect example of cultural imperialism and how popular culture can be spread so fast via media.  The photographer knows many elements and ‘personalities’ that are from America that he ask Bob to channel the the photos.    
       In our textbook, Chris Barker writes about capitalism and urban places saying, “Capitalist corporations continually promote commodification and the search for new markets” (Barker, p. 382).  In the case of Lost in Translation all the efforts of Bob being in Japan is to sell a whiskey, however, they (ad companies, and marketing) use many techniques that were directly connected to the U.S.  I agree 100 percent with the idea that capitalist corporations enforce and encourage commodification.  There is nothing that is not driven or motivated by profit.  Today’s society is a constant reminder of this as we see things unfairly advertised in order to gain customers. Last year I took a class that focused on the idea that we are a buying country, we are willing to spend money with the promise that it’s the newest, best, and fastest.  Lost in Translation is just one insight to the idea that America makes money not only here, but by spreading out throughout the world.  People today know Japan to be one of the fastest moving countries and despite recent shut downs of electronic factories, this movie is a prime example of urbanization of a country over a short amount of time.  Kind of makes you step back and think... Hopefully.  xx  

Monday, April 16, 2012

oh annie...

      Ok, ok....I'm not going to lie. Watching Annie Hall for the first time I couldn’t help but think; ‘this is the slowest, old people’s entertainment, not funny or realistic movie that I have ever been forced to sit through’.  However,  when I started to see that it could be considered a base for a lot of the movies I’ve seen today, it was fun to pick out themes and techniques that have been replicated today.  It was also interesting to view it with the idea that the film could be argued either Modernism or Postmodernism.  I saw the movie  Annie Hall as a Postmodern film because while it was not necessarily  the first film to ever break the forth wall, or “erase the boundaries between art and everyday life,” it was however a film that included both of those things along with taking the sex and rom-com style and themes and put them into a very real and relatable depiction of love and relationships.  The movie in a sense has a very raw feeling to it that made me start linking it to all the other films i had seen that could be considered Postmodern.
       I would like to talk about a film that is well know with today’s generation.  I am totally and fully aware that I’m not the first to say it, the film 500 Days of Summer is a very reflective, and a very modern day Annie Hall.  You wouldn’t believe (or maybe you will) the amounts of scrutiny that I get when I tell someone how much I despise the film 500 Days of Summer.  And I literally can’t tell you how many discussions I have had with friends and even random strangers when they find out that I don’t like this movie.  But when I told my (older) sister that I didn’t enjoy Annie Hall, she got on my case.  and while I know that this seems totally unrelated, I just want to point out that my old fashion, realistic loving, relationship and love obsessed sister makes the same arguments in defending Annie Hall as those defending 500 Days of Summer do.  And in both parties defense, I should give more respect to both films for doing what we rarely see today, and achiving what always complain that there is not enough of...showcasing relationships in a realistic and highly relatable light, while still connecting to the audience and in some parts in Annie Hall, addressing the audience. 
      which brings me to my next point.  Woody Allen was not the first to make a movie where a character addresses the camera and breaks that forth wall.  However, the popularity of this now classic movie has inspired other movies to mimic the irony in a character breaking that barrier and addressing the audience as if they were their friends and either try to help the audience see their point, or inform them/catch them up on something that is going on.  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Fight Club, Yours, Mine and Ours (1968), and even The Emperor’s New Groove, are all films that have either the main character, or the film’s narrator address the audience in a nonchalant manner.
       Annie Hall is now a movie that we can look at and get a understanding for Allen’s style and ideas behind movies and see that he perhaps made this movie in hopes that it would spark the sort of thinking that it did for me while understanding that it was intended to have some sort of depth and meaning to it.  We can also see that because of the captivity that it took it’s viewers by, other films have admired and ‘borrowed’ Allen’s classic style.  Yet I still feel that as far as storyline/plot goes, 500 Days of Summer is a perfect example of, a real life situation, portrayed in a film, while depicting elements of Postmodernism, a modern day Annie Hall

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

sex and romanace in today's entertainment

        Most of by young teen and adulthood know that sex has been around ever since the first two living things walk the earth.  In the very early years, sex was a way to create life, it was something that was instinctual, natural, and vital to continuing the circle of life.  “The History of Sexuality” by Michel Foucault shows us all of this.  He writes about how sex for humans in the 18th and 19th century were strictly for creating a life, and that the purpose of creating life differed from the animal way of doing it.
It’s not like I was completely in the dark about this, I was well aware that the ideas of the purposes of sex have changed.  Especially considering that today’s culture (with the help of media) has glamorized sex and sexuality to the most positive extend and the ugliness of sex (STDs, AIDS, infections, rashes, and other painful and health threatening illnesses that can be contagious via sexual intercourse) has been put off to the side almost as if it doesn’t exist.  Relating to today’s sexual issues, it is clear that if sex helps sell things, it is easier to jump on and use sex to your advertising and selling advantage.  Even more now that sexuality comes with such a positive light shone on it.
       The whole “sex” subject is something that I want to spend a little bit of time talking about because I personally don’t think it gets enough attention.  I asked a few friends and my roommates what was the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the word “sex”.  Their responses varied from; “Chris”, “orgasm”, “gender”, and “hot”.  Not one of them used a “negative” word to associate with the action between two people.  I think that it is interesting to see movies do the same thing...not only do most movies exclude any of the negative things about sex and romance (I guess romance ‘negatives’ would include things like getting screwed over, cheated on, a broken heart, etc.), but they can tend to over exaggerate the friendships and/or relationships that people have with those who they are sexually involved with.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure writers often use personal experiences and the stories of others as a base to write these plots and scenes that include sex and romance comedy, but at the same time it’s like the distortion of these stories have gotten more and more exaggerated over time.
       I guess overall I feel bad for those who watch the newer romantic and sex comedies and don’t understand the extent of the exaggeration, and trust me one of my dear friends believes everything she sees in a rom-com, or don’t understand the evolution that has happened with sex and romance since it has been shown and portrayed in a comedic light.   To close up I want to point out, that since watching these older and early rom-coms I seriously understand my mother’s genuine shock at how far today’s rom-coms can push the limits.  In fact I hate admitting this, but sometimes I’m shocked that some racy scene or joke actually made the final cut in a movie!  Here’s to hoping I can teach my future kids, friend’s kids, and nieces and nephews what they need to know and understand to appreciate rom-coms and sex comedies, and here’s to hoping they listen to my wise words and lectures! :} xo

Monday, March 19, 2012

seeing the sex and romantic comedic side in "10"

        One of my first thoughts about watching romantic comedies from the 70s and before compared to the romantic comedies that I see today, was that the comedy element in the 70s movies focuses more on real life problems or incidents that if they happened to you, you would only be able to laugh when looking back it.  To where the comedy element in today’s movies tend to be these obvious jokes that most often the characters (and the viewer) recognize as funny as soon as the happen.
Even thought the movie and story elements have stayed the same over the years, the type of humor and comedy has changed making it hard to see the relation and the similarities between the movies made back in the 70s versus today.  However, after learning and understanding the characteristics that are a part of the radical romantic comedy, it is clear that the characteristics are still there, just in a different form.
        One of the main characteristics I saw throughout the movie “10”, was the “masquerade” element.  In comparing to the article, the movie “10” has the male lead, George, take on the masquerade elements as he knows he is unhappy with his age, and has his mid-life crisis.  His girlfriend and friend/partner know that something is wrong with him as he shares a little about how he’s feeling.  But when he up and flies to Mexico in order to hunt down Jenny, they do not know about his whereabouts, or what he has been feeling with jenny.
        As far as “self-reflexivity” goes, I believe it shows up in George, Sam,and Jenny as the characters display it in different areas.  I think George shows it as presenting a complex problems that’s still an ongoing battle with individuals today.  Many people have mid-life crisis’ and George getting this idea in his head that he has to have his perfect women, yet when he does get her, he realizes it was a mistake to go to such great lengths to pursue her.  This holding the ‘modern and more realistic form of romantic comedy’, seeing as that we still see this in rom-coms today, and as well as it being an actual struggle for some.
        The women of this film are interesting in contrast to one another, yet still viewing them both in the aspects of self-reflexivity.  Both Sam and Jenny find sex to be an important part of a relationship, but Sam’s views are more traditional seeing that sex should be just between the two people in the relationship and neither of them lusting or desiring anyone else.  Jenny however clearly sees that the importance of sex is for showing love and appreciation even if it’s not with the other person you are in the relationship with.
       Unfortunately, I could not find the film anywhere online, so I didn’t see what happened, but I did look it up and read about the ending.  I thought it was an interesting second have of a movie because I would not have expected for Jenny and her new husband’s romance to have allowed George to sleep with Jenny.  That’s not something that’s common in today’s romantic comedies typical...yes, we sometimes see a lost and confused character have a crisis, and maybe even go on the chase, but it is rare for them to be chasing someone who is already married, and for them to get that married person.  By having George realize what he’s done and how outrageous it was for him to make the decision to chase newly wedded Jenny we return to the same formula that we see in sex and romantic ends with boy getting girl.

Monday, March 12, 2012

old fashion rom-coms

        It’s funny that one can think that something is such a new genre and that my mother, for example, wouldn’t understand why “Rom-Com”’s are so appealing to me and my friends.  I sometimes get this idea that sticks that my mom (or other elders) can’t ever think of relationships or sex as comedic.  I was raised to respect love and the sanctity that marriage holds, but I guess because of this, I subconsciously thought that my mom never saw or understood that sex, romance, or relationships with various people could be made light of, or enjoy as they were made light of.  I guess what I most lacked was the understanding of what elements, or characteristics sex comedy holds...and because of not being aware of this, I failed to understand that sex comedy has been around for quite some time, and that my mother is well aware of what it is.
        To be totally honest, I don’t think I can name one romantic or sex comedy I’ve seen before the 90s, but I know they exist.  However, even when I do think back to the earliest 90s rom-com I’ve seen, it does hold the same characteristics that I see in the Jason Segel, Jennifer Aniston rom-coms that I find myself excited to see today.  I love this idea of “battling lovers” that The Sex Comedy talks about, because it seems to be a conflict issue that could literally be around for years to come (and if I saw a good old fashion romantic comedy, it would be believable still if it was part of the plot).  Men and women have their differences, obviously, and no matter what amount of time goes by, I think that biologically men and women will have different views on romance and sex.  This can bring forth the “hierarchy of knowledge” element into discussion which in a way leads us right to hegemonic masculinity arguing that men know more than women, yet “we” the viewers of said movie or situation, know more or better than both.
        Over all I think one of the things that grabbed me the most in the readings was that time doesn’t change reality.  Yes, true that there is mostly a specific image branded to romantic comedies, and that it can be easy to quickly judge that genre of book or movie as fictitious but in reality, regardless of the exact situation portrayed, all of the elements and/or characteristics discussed in the reading could easily take place in a relationship today.  People in relationships still experience emotions other than love before love itself, there tends to be a hierarchy of knowledge in almost any romantic or sexual relationship, “battle of wits” often shows up in relationships commonly before one really gets going or as one is ending.  As much as I’d like to think that relationships aren’t so textbook, it becomes clear to me that relationships are a comedy that whether or not I like it, have certain elements that don’t just change or disappear over time.