Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I learned that now I am incapable of watching a television show without seeing it through a gender lens, especially that of a feminist one. This is especially difficult when I am watching like a tv series from Hong Kong, where it is OBVIOUS that it was a MAN who wrote the script... Further, after learning that women are under represented, both back stage and in the spotlight, of the entertainment industry, it really cleared up a lot of things.
Walking down the street, I feel like New Yorkers peg me as a tourist because I am always looking around, at both architecture and the advertisements on the streets. I can't help but analyze them through with semiotics.
I also learned brand new things that I was never aware of, such as the Slasher girls and queer reading. Seriously, everything has a queer reading now that I now what it is.
Oh, learning about postmodernism is the best because I totally told someone that they misunderstood the meaning of it. HA. What's the point of learning something in class when you can't use it to throw it in someone's face?
I also learned a lot of terminology that I feel will really help me with future media studies classes. It was good to get some clarity on terms regarding semiotic analysis, and I also appreciated learning more about postmodernism, which before was a term that didn't really mean too much to me.
Overall, I appreciated developing a 'critical eye' when it comes to media texts. I remember that at the beginning of the semester we were asked to describe what things in the media bothered us, and I was unable to come up with anything. Now, I can come up with lots of examples...
It gave me insight on just how complex different media are. I loved learning about semiotics and the different ways to analyze images. Although it might have seemed over-interpretative at times, I realized that one can never overlook seemingly unimportant details in any form of advertisement. Every element has a purpose that collectively adds up to form the general meaning of a text.
I feel more knowledgeable about the different methods in looking at media. I enjoy the different readings about races, and I find myself looking for those familiar stereotypes whenever I watch a movie or a show. I find myself viewing music videos differently as well. For example, the upward angle in the opening shot of Miley Cyrus' video for her song "Party in the USA" creates a sexualized image of her because it emphasizes her legs, hahaha. Another example: I was watching "The Office" and the character of Oscar defies the typical, gay stereotype and that Michael Scott, the head of the company, is the biggest buffoon.
Race and gender stereotypes also made me realize just how oppressed certain ethnic groups really are. The Asian texts that we read were really interesting and made me realize just how offensive some of the portrayals are. Mr. Yunioshi, I will never forget you now.
Also, because of this class, I have come to the conclusion that stereotypes will never be eliminated. I have learned that humans instinctively classify others through different lenses, whether it be class, race or gender. We go by stereotypes because they are so reinforced in society, and although most are negative, we use them because they provide us with an easier and more generalized way to view the world's complexities.
Monday, December 14, 2009
It was definitely an interesting semester. I have to say that not only have I reviewed a lot of material from my earlier communications classes, but I also learned new things as well. I think that I absolutely agree with the statement that Alice made the first day of class: "By the end of the semester, your fiends will not be able to stand you constantly critiquing the media that you're exposed to together." AMEN to that. I have to admit that I was a little skeptical at the beginning, and didn't really believe that this would happen, but it most certainly did. I repeateadly find myself looking at media from ways that I never thought I would. I mean Disney?! I loved it always, and it was my childhood. But now... I don't think I can look at it the same way:( And not only Disney for that matter.. any childhood memory... you guys, Smurfs?! Never really thought of it until I took this class, but Smurfette was the only chick in that village... any inappropriate images coming to your minds?! I mean.... media crit has definitely taught me to look at the surrounding media in a more critical way. Yeas, of course I knew it before, and that everything shouldn't be taken for granted. But i think it is with this class that I actually fully got it, and maan.... my viewing abilities are screwed forever;) I don't think I will ever again be able to just enjoy something without actually looking at it from the critical point of view.
But at the same time.... Thanks for that, Alice. I believe that you gave me something that will make my life experiences that much more interesting and true. Although I might start over-analyze certain things, I definitely know now that there are oh so many ways to read things as. I truly appreciate your teaching abilities to not only engage us in the subject by giving us fun and interesting assignments that are easy to relate to our everyday reality, but also teach us a new view of the world.... a more critical and careful approach to the constantly changing and growing world of media. For that, I truly Thank You.
I definitely feel that I have come away from this class learning a lot; I have definitely gained a much greater understanding on how to analyze and critique various forms of media, whether it may be advertisements, a television show or a movie. I’ve learned about the how texts can be analyzed through various perspectives, such as class, gender, ideological or semiotic lenses. I’ve also learned about the different ways characters are presented in film due to their race, gender, and class; oftentimes “the other” is reduced to stereotypes or shown as being submissive through binary codes and other ideological representations. In fact, I’ve learned a lot about the use of stereotypes throughout the history of media and how they are still extremely prominent in movies/television nowadays, revealing that society has not made that much progress in defying stereotypes or including a more accurate racial representation in the media.
I’ve also learned about hegemony, which is the power or dominance that one social group holds over others. This directly affects the types of media that are created and shown to the public and can be used to explain why subaltern texts so rarely make it into mainstream media. Furthermore, I learned about the prominent role which ideology has in reinforcing myths in society and affecting the way one’s perception on reality. After taking this class I now also know the important role which narrative and genre play in the structuring of films. Various narrative techniques, such as light, costuming, casting, sound, music, color and composition, are used to elicit different emotions and responses in viewers and genre is an important mode used to attract viewers.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
But for something the class could use? I do wish we had spent a little more time on the book. There were several chapters we did not go over in depth that I would have liked to. And, not too come off as lazy (thought I often am) I did find the readings at time to be a bit lengthy and cumbersome (in addition to the weekly blogpost)..I often found myself skimming through readings (and missing important points.) Perhaps a fewer number or more condensed readings would have better. That having been said I think the weekly blogpost was an excellent component of the class and did a phenomenal job of keeping me engaged and on track.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
This class this semester was truthfully one of my favorites. The way the class was designed with discussion-based learning was really beneficial and efficient. I felt that this kind of environment was very stimulating and challenged me to think outside of the box.
I really enjoyed that instead of following power point presentations each class, we used visual texts that embodied the materials that we read for class and were talking about that day. I thought that this was an innovative and interesting approach to teaching that kept us entertained as well as engaged.
The readings, although some were lengthy and boring, were for the most part interesting and were very relevant to our discussion. They covered interesting topics and many of them included examples in the media that I had either seen or head about.
The papers and assignments were challenging, but I never felt like they asked too much of us. We were given an appropriate amount of time to accomplish each and you made yourself very available to answer our questions and guide us in the process.
I know this sounds like a cop-out and lazy answer, but I don’t think that anything really needs to be changed about this class. You did a great job presenting the information in an informative manner while making the classroom fun. I never minded coming to this class even though it was at 9:30!!
some things that I liked:
-i really enjoyed the atmosphere that was in the class. it wasn't super formal and official, yet it wasn't completely laid back either. perfect balance!
-Alice Marwick, as a professor: funny, honest, helpful, and eager to make the class as fun as possible
-PowerPoints: not too much of them, just as the background resource for the lecture
-lectures: they weren't simply read from the paper; it was a conversation between the Professor and the students.
-the way that the class was constantly related to the everyday, known media pieces
-the blog: muuuuch better and more effective than blackboard posts, or writing responses on paper
-the documentaries: super interesting, and they taught as many important facts as the lectures; they gave a historical context to the class
-a lot of repetition of things that we already know: gender, race, class
-some of the readings weren't interesting, and many of them (especially for Thursday) were too long
-not enough time for the bog posts between Tuesday and Thursday
-not enough time to write the last two papers
-assignments were due the same time that other classes (although this cannot be altered I think)
-certain topics, such as race and gender, were given too much time, while others such as postmodernism and psychoanalysis were not
Overall, I think that my memories and experiences of this class would be very pleasant. I had a great time this semester, met some cool and interesting people, and was lucky enough to pick Alice as the Professor: she made the class that much more enjoyable. Thanks!
Anyways, I think having two blogs a week and requiring people to write two comments a week is a good idea - another class of mine this semester used Blogger, but it was a weekly thing, and no one really interacted, so it was a bit boring. This class blog is also a good tool for an introverted person like myself who doesn't really talk a lot in class. Through the blog, I was able to say what I had to say without actually saying it. :)
And speaking of class discussion, I thought Alice did a great job of mediating it and making sure it stayed on track. A lot of classes I've been in have often strayed off topic and tend to go in circles, but I felt that discussion in this class never did that.
As far as assignments go, I thought the paper topics given and the grades we received were fair. However, I think more time to work on the final project would be more beneficial - this time of year gets pretty crazy for everyone. And as much as I love talking about black people vs. white people in the media, I think that more emphasis could be placed elsewhere - for example, I was really interested in the postmodernism unit that we just finished. Doing more with that would be cool.
Oh, and the documentaries! I enjoyed all the documentaries we watched, because they were the most able to compare different media texts - so maybe if there are more like those that relate to the topics of discussion and are available online, it could serve as an assignment for future students to blog about?
What I think contributed to this class being AMAZING is that Professor Marwick is pretty kick ass (again, excuse my language). I have never had any professor who knew about pop culture and mass media as extensively as Alice. This made the class extremely relatable. Further, it made me excited to go to class, knowing that I will be able to contribute to class discussions.
I really like our discussion driven class. I like that I learned new things from my classmates, like the art scene from Dylan or the music scene from Jonathan and Caroline just posts really cool things. Everyone in class is really pretty cool. I also like the presentations that Alice has prepared for us because it really drove the discussions home with the technical aspects and methods of media analysis. This class really opened my eyes about the relevance of pop culture and mass media on an academic level. It made me think about popular phenomenon in a different way; that there might be social relevance as to why Gossip Girl is so popular, etc. I have never thought of myself as a scholar, but this class sparked my interest about pursuing graduate level in this field.
I am not sure if I like the blog or not. On one hand, it is infinitely better than boring and technically problematic blackboard where you cannot attach relevant media. On the other hand, I sometimes found it difficult to post a blog on some of the readings and almost felt the pressure to have to post some sort of media to back up my entry because everyone else was doing it. Further, I have always found posting for the Thursday reading very difficult. I guess a big part of it is my poor time management. And I think the whole 2 comments a week thing is a bit forced. I think good comments are generated from actual readers’ interest, not from requirements.
I absolutely hated reading Chandler’s Semiotics for Beginners. I definitely think that Sturken & Cartwright explained semiotics infinitely better. I also felt most of the readings constructed themselves too much against the identity of black or white. Like with class, it was the class differences with the whites and with masculinity, it was really white masculinity. I don’t like bell hooks. Nothing personal, just scarred from reading her writings in Writing the Essay classes in freshman year.
I really like all the assignments so far. I mean, who can really complain about writing about their favorite television show? However, I find this last assignment problematic. It is worth more than the previous two essays, but we don’t get to pick what we want to write about. I think presentations would be a lot more interesting if people got to pick which movies they want and then collaborate. I also find a problem with the films that are subtitled because it is hard to write about their cultural context since we have limited understanding.
Regardless, the awesomeness of this class clearly outweighs the minor problems. Further, the problems are mostly preference problems and have nothing to do with the success of this class. I would just like to end this feedback with the fact that over this semester, I have proven that you can explain every aspect of media criticism with Mean Girls. Mean Girls can definitely serve as the bible (I mean, if bibles are done in form of a two hour film?) for this class.
I really liked this class because the discussions and topics covered were really very interesting. Although I must admit that some of it went over my head which further confirms my belief that I am not nor will ever be a scholar (ughh), I did my best to understand everything and comprehend the concepts and ideas elaborated upon by the different readings. I liked the professor a whole lot; she's relatable, intelligent, and very engaging. I liked the discussion-style of the class as well the as students in the class. It felt like one of those things where we fed off of each other.
I didn't like the heavier focus on some topics like race and less focus on other topics. Also, for the papers, I feel like there was too much asked for in the first paper especially but not enough guidance....? And also, I felt that 2 blog posts was a bit too much... I thought one sufficed per week.
The downfalls to this class were limited. I wish we had some sort of feedback from you on our blog posts because I did not know what standards you held and how you will be grading them.
Other than that I really enjoyed your class! It was fun, interesting, and I feel that I learned to look at media in an entirely new way.
-blogging (versus printing &/or Blackboard)
-Professor Alice Marwick
-being given 3 days of unquestioned/excused absences
-the flexibility & freedom of discussions
-the current, relatable examples in addition to good oldies
-the new things I learned from class/reading
-the structure of 3 assignments
-the amount of PowerPoint lectures--few but good for introducing a new topic
Sorry, I didn't like...
-not getting blog feedback from Professor
-talking about race but not really all races (much on white & black)
-the seating arrangement because it doesn't allow me to hear/see fellow peers, esp since we discuss most of the time
-being given little time for the final (honestly, Thanksgiving did not count as potential group-meeting time), but at the same time, it's only because everything is due on the same day.
-making this post at the end.
But thanks for making this one of my favorite classes this semester!
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
I really enjoyed this class this semester and it definitely made going to class at 930 slightly easier. My favorite thing about it was definitely the class blog, I’ve never used it in any of my previous classes but I think it is such a creative and novel idea! Writing blog posts is so much more engaging than using blackboard and this should really be continued in future classes. The layout of the blog is just so much more aesthetically pleasing than blackboard and it facilitates student interaction as we can comment on each other’s blogs. What made the blogs so interesting to read was attributed to the fact that all the readings and subjects we touched upon in class were so informative and extremely relevant to every day life. I specifically enjoyed the readings on stereotypes in the media as its interesting to note that the stereotypical portrayals which have dominated the media since the beginnings of television still continue to exist today. I also found the readings on queer theory as well as the video on transgenders very intriguing and it was unfortunate that we didn’t get enough time in class to finish it.
However, I do feel like there were some weeks when the readings were a bit much and it was hard to finish the readings as well as write a blog post (specifically for Thursday classes). Also, there were a few times when I was totally at a loss as to what to blog about and found it helpful when we were given distinct topics to help steer us in a certain direction. Furthermore, there were a couple articles which I felt were a bit dull, such as Chandler’s Semiotics for Beginners Article and Arthur’s Sex and the City and Consumer Culture. In addition, even though I found the articles regarding crime and the way it is presented in the media highly fascinating, I didn’t really feel like it pertained as much to what we were studying in class. I know it would be really hard to reduce the readings from Tuesday to Thursday for future classes so maybe students could write a longer blog post on Thursday to Tuesday instead of writing two shorter ones throughout the week.
These post reminded me of a promotional site TBS launched a few years back in an attempt to brand themselves as a "comedy network." The TBS Department of Humor Analysis (which never garnered more than a few hundred visits a day) was to be a kind of absurdist attempt to equate humor to a science. But one of the interactive components on the site "funny movie maker" allows you to essentially make your own vid. Using one of three visual tracks, musical scores and a variety of inserted sound effects, you can mix and match to change the context, and content of the videos. It's kind of lame, but certain combinations are pretty funny.
This particular example of the remix culture does not serve to highlight any dominant ideologies or demonstrate any deep seated elements of stereotyping or generalizing. I just think it's funny and well done.
Vidding can also draw comparisons between differing media texts in order to show similar patterns:
Overall, videos such as these place content control in the hands of the active viewer, leading them to recreate their own interpretations for others to see. The remix culture will most likely increase in the future with the added amount of material, technological devices, and passionate yet critical fans.
Monday, December 7, 2009
After the cliff-hanging season 2 finale of the O.C. where Trey (Ryan’s brother) dies, many spoofs emerged. One of the most famous skits was found on SNL known as “Dear Sister” where members of the cast recreate the famous scene set to its powerful music selection, Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek”.
After the cliff-hanging season 2 finale of the O.C. where Trey (Ryan’s brother) dies, many spoofs emerged. One of the most famous skits was found on SNL known as “Dear Sister” where members of the cast recreate the famous scene set to its powerful music selection, Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek”.
From the SNL parody came many others in its wake including this one from Disney’s Pocahontas:
By inserting the Imogen Heap song (imbedded with intertexual suggestion), the scene from the movie is transformed from something frightening/serious to something humorous. By setting a lighter mood, the entire meaning of the scene changes.
But I wanted to take a slightly different approach to this topic. Although Vids are very popular, especially on YouTube, we all know about re-makes of the movies, so that if they were originally a horror, they were re-cut in order to appear as a comedy, for example. There are also mash-ups that combine clips from two or more movies in order to create a whole (here I was actually even thinking of entire movies such as "Not Another Teen Movie" that in its entire plot is a mash up of many teen movies).
So since 'Tis the season.... we all know that we will soon be able to see Home Alone on TV, especially during the Christmas Week. And so I thought that it would be a funny thing to see how Home Alone would look like if... it was a horror. So check it out below... (nobody get scared now:) )
Now... I also wanted to show you guys a mash up that my classmates and I made last year for our History of the Universe project on Interplanetary Matter. It is a mash-up of two movies: "Armageddon" and "Deep Impact," and the final outcome that we wanted to show in our presentation's video, is supposed to show the real danger of a huge asteroid striking the Earth. Hope you like the mash up (which took way too long to upload).
Before this reading, I had never heard of a “vid” before, nor am I sure I am aware of what the term actually means. However, in Francesca Coppa’s words, “a vid is a visual essay that stages an argument.” Coppa calls Star Trek the first narrative where vidding really became developed, and through the use of of vids, Star Trek was able to impel female fans to take on not one, but two positions of a role: the desiring body and the controlling voice of technology.
We see a lot of “vidding” in mainstream culture today, specifically thanks to the website YouTube. The article discusses a lot about how vidding is used specifically with women so I wanted to find an example that illustrated that case. Take the “recut” trailer of Pretty Women:
The vid opens up with darkness and prostitutes working the street corners automatically evoking a dangerous emotion within the reader. Julia Roberts is portrayed as a prostitute who does drugs and in apparently in so deep that she is willing to do ANYTHING for money- and Edward pulling up in his car is the guy to make her do this. Instead of asking for directions because Edward is lost, we simply see Julia Roberts stepping into his car looking for "a good time." The vid is recut to make Edward out to be the bad guy who is "making her stay with him," when in the regular clip we know she WANTS to because he is so sweet to her. Roberts' screams of happiness here are cut to seem like screams of agonizing pain and horror. Where there is usually happy and uplifting sounds, we hear suspenseful music and horrifying music. Although there is no impending danger or scary acts in this movie, this video is cut to evoke different emotions and hence, a very different portrayal of this female character. It's very interesting- check it out!
Sunday, December 6, 2009
After reading Coppa’s article, Women, Star Trek, and the early development of fannish vidding I must say that I was honestly quite surprised. I had no idea that vidding had begun as a response to the oppression of women in mainstream movies/shows. In the past, whenever I would come across videos which applied music to various scenes from shows/movies I always found it kind of silly. However, I was impressed by the Edward vs. Bella vid, and definitely gained a greater respect for vidders as it seems like a time consuming and tedious process. I liked the point which McIntosh was trying to convey through this vid as he was trying to resist gender stereotypes by portraying women as being powerful, strong and independent.
However, I do not feel that all vids are as intellectual and deep, and in fact most of them are trivial and serve to reinforce gender stereotypes. For instance, in this Harry Potter vid, the vidder attempted to create a new trailer for Harry Potter by reconstructing scenes in order to make it appear as though Harry Potter and Hermione are in love with each other and about to start a relationship. Thus, vids such as these serve to reinforce the subjugation of women in romance texts.
In the opening scene Hermione seems flustered when she sees Harry Potter, reducing her to a disempowered subject when she is in the presence of a male figure. In the second image she seems distressed then jumps into Harry Potter’s arms portraying her as a dependent female who needs a dominant male figure as support. Later, the scene of her walking down the stairs in a pink dress reduces her to an object of the male gaze.
Further, perhaps shows like South Park, are functioning the same way as vids are in that they too use "music in order to comment on or analyze." In that particular South Park episode, Cartman then changes the lyrics of Lady Gaga's Poker Face to reflect the Whaling industry.
Here's the video:
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Couldn't find the image or clip of Agent 99 before her transformation, so here's a trailer from the movie for fun:
Also, really great clip of them playing last year:
Recent discussions about the state of post-modernism have struggled to determine its relevance today. While several theorists and historians contend that it has run its course, it is still widely excepted as the dominant ideological epoch. The frustration concerning the end of post-modernism centers primarily around its formal structure, which unlike its modernist predecessor, is formed defined in negative terms (constructed in contrast to modernism.) This logic suggests that the only feasible end of the post-modern era will come at the re-birth of the modern one. That, anyway, was the premise of art historian and theorist Hal Foster's 1996 book The Return of the Real. Though the subject of its own criticism, Foster's critique of post-modernism provides on of the earliest and most substantial post post-modern propositions.
Another text that has recently revived the debate over post-modernism, is the French curator Nicholas Bourriaud's Altermodern, which for better or worse attempts to brand work being made in today's global context as a reaction against standardization and commercialism. Rather than failing back on modernist principles, Bourriaud describes his new aesthetic era in terms of cultural hybridisation and translation explaining:
"Artists are looking for a new modernity that would be based on translation: What matters today is to translate the cultural values of cultural groups and to connect them to the world network. This “reloading process” of modernism according to the twenty-first-century issues could be called altermodernism, a movement connected to the creolisation of cultures and the fight for autonomy, but also the possibility of producing singularities in a more and more standardized world."
As a curator, Bourriaud's primarily interest is in visual art, but it's not difficult to see how his assertions, if you buy them, can be applied to any other sect of visual culture.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
One work (of course from me, a musical one) that I was reminded of while reading the Sturken and Cartwright chapter was Wendy/Walter Carlos' Switched On Bach from 1968, which I was just listening to on the way to class Tuesday. Although it is an early example of these ideas of postmodernism, the record (in which Carlos, creates elaborate interpretations of well known Bach pieces with early Moog synthesizers) fits more into the postmodern ideas of remake and pastiche than the standard practice of classical re-recording. The sounds of the synthesizer were highly uncharacteristic of classical music at the time, and were highly experimental, but the whole record has a playful feeling to it. Many of the pieces were sped up, making them sound a bit like electronic circus music, and the timbres used can also sound comical during some of the faster pieces. Carlos is playing with, morphing, prodding the music of the past to create something seemingly new. This requires, as was said in the text, a rich knowledge of media, which in this case is the history of music.
The record is also a great example of Sturken and Cartwright's assertion at the beginning of the chapter that we are not entirely in a postmodern world. Although Switched On Bach can be seen as postmodern because of its relationship to the past, it is also fiercely modernist because it was also a demonstration of the power of the Moog synth, which was extremely new at the time. The idea was that this is the future of music, and that this progress was going to lead to a greater understanding of sound in relation to composition. Although many other composers were more modernistic in terms of their experiments with electronics (Xenakis and Stockhausen especially), it was the mechanical nature of Bach compositions that was built into the music that made it such an important example of the power of synthesized sound.
This album is really amazing, and highly recommended by me. Wendy has done a lot of soundtracks including the soundtracks to A Clockwork Orange and Tron. Below is the only example form the record I could find on Youtube, and it is of one of the very short pieces, but there are clips available on iTunes and Amazon and such.
Girl Talk is a popular musician widely known for 'borrowing' copyrighted material and mixing popular songs together in order to create hybrid recordings. Like Radiohead's "In Rainbows", these recordings are made available online for fans at a price that they determine.
Here are a couple of his songs - the videos are fan-made but are pretty well done...
Anyways, you get the idea, but overall, Girl Talk exhibits postmodernism not only because of his distribution tactics, but also through using the strategy of pastiche, in which artists incorporate other texts into their own work to the point of legal complication. If anything, he is quite literally an example of the "remix culture", which is propelled by postmodern thought.