Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I learned...

-that I need to wake up earlier for class.

No but seriously, as everyone else said, I learned a lot from this class. Semiotics was hard and not terribly enjoyable, but after running away from it since high school media studies, its nice to feel as though I have some sort of a grasp on it now.
I learned a lot about how to analyze texts to see the underlying ideologies, and postmodernism. Oh my goodness, after writing my final paper on it if I never hear that word again it'll be waaay too soon.
And Dominika's reminder that Alice told us our friends wont be able to stand our constant critiques of media: so true. My roommate and I both took Media Crit this semester and now nobody will watch TV with us.

What I learned...

What I learned for this class...

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?

What I Learned In This Class

I learned a lot of things from this class. Because the majority of the articles that we read tended to focus on familiar television shows and films, I was able to learn more about what these media texts were really saying. I was especially fascinated by the articles that focused on HBO, Disney films, American Idol, and The OC.

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...

Lessons Learned

I have to say that although Intro. to Media Crit. was a bit of a struggle for me, I honestly learned the most from it than any of my other classes.

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.






What I Have Learned

After taking this course, walking down the streets of New York City will never be the same. I find myself wanting to engage in a discussion with my friends about what connotations can be made about Eva Mendes seductively grabbing onto Jamie Dornan in the new Calvin Klein ad or if the rockin' six-pack bods featured in the Abercrombie and Hollister billboards are "queer." While Intro to Media Studies laid down a solid foundation of the basics of media criticism, this class has equipped me with a more analytical and scholarly perspective. The strong influence that media has on society and culture is astounding and no longer will I ever take its power for granted.

Learned A LOT

This semester I not only learned the fundamentals of semiotic analysis, representation and all tools related to media criticism, but I learned them in a fun and stimulating way. I felt like the real representations and the relatable readings really added to the effect of this class.

As a reflection, I think the most important thing that I got out of this class is that there is always something more that you can discover about something. We can always read further into things and create meanings that we once overlooked. The process is never-ending and it is almost maddening, but it forces us to look beyond the superficial and stretch our minds.

Overall, learned a lot!

Monday, December 14, 2009

What have I learned this semester? Well, obviously not time management, as I'm writing this post on a break from my final paper.

In more sincerity, specific terms and concepts aside, I've learned that almost anything is applicable for analysis, and the tools and training exist to perform them in coherent, verbose, academic formats.

In studying scenes for my final paper, I'm amazed at how many details emerge upon repeat viewings. That said, I wonder how many of them are due to intentional planning, and how much is apparent because of my desire to find something new, as a justification for watching the same thing for the eighth time.

some last words....

seriously.. cannot believe that the semester is OVER?! I still think we just started it... maaan, time flies way too fast.
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.

Dominika<3

What I've Learned...

I can't believe the semester is over..it went by way too fast! But yayy for christmas :) Media Crit is truly one of my favorite classes from my college experience. I feel like I really have a solid understanding of how to critique media and also enjoy it in so many more ways. I really enjoyed all of the topics that we covered throughout the class. But moreover, I really liked how we incorporated mainstream media into our studies. The fact that I could tell my friends I was writing a paper on a tv show character was pretty sweet. I think what i'll take away most is that you really do use all of our critiquing skills, if you will, in our everyday lives and whether it be in the media or opening my eyes to new perspectives and ways of looking at things in my job experience, I really feel prepared and well equipped to move forward. It's been a really great class and I can't wait for break ahhhhhh

What I've learned

I learned some of the basic ideas from Ted Magder's Intro to Media Studies, but the concepts were developed further in this Media Criticism class. Perhaps that's an obvious statement, but I definitely learned more concepts from all the readings and discussions in this class especially when I applied them to our paper assignments--which may not have reflected too accurately, but I assure you, it's true. Now I look, listen, and read everything critically. Disney is not so innocent anymore, racism isn't dead, vids aren't always just random fan mash-ups, and suddenly I'm "queer-reading." And to think, it all began when we analyzed the 3DDREAMGIRL ad...

What I've Learned in Media Crit

I know I have learned a lot in this media class because I can't watch a television show, movie, commercial, music video, anything without analyzing the underlying themes, representations, or meanings. Although the terms were confusing and overlapping at times, I felt that they helped me distinguish between the different aspects in media criticism. I especially liked learning about queer theory, and realized that it is a central part of much our mainstream culture. Now I can find any hint of queerness in so many texts that I would have never noticed otherwise. I also really liked how we used examples from current media texts to examine the topics we would discuss such as the picture of Mark Wahlberg in a suggestive underwear advertisement. Without reading the Doty and Jagose I never would have noticed the ad's queerness. 
The biggest thing I learned in this class is how great of an influence the media is on our society. Media substantially fosters the creation of ideologies, especially stereotypes. Studying stereotypes also allowed me to see how different groups are marginalized, especially minority groups and women. I can now recognize different racial stereotypes and the repeated patterns media uses to portray them. Even the amount of gender stereotypes in the media surprised me, I had never realized how many depictions of female characters were stereotyped, and as a result, has deep effects as it creates our society's ideological perspective

What I've learned this semester

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.

 

What I learned...

I do feel like I've taken a lot away from this class. Most specifically how to write better papers. My thesis statements are much more detailed and scholarly, and I feel that I have had a lot of opportunities to practice writing techniques and learning how to incorporate our readings with fun things like television show characters and advertisements. I appreciate all the one-on-one help and I know I will be able to take what I've learned as far as getting feedback on papers so that I can excel in other media classes.

I also feel that I am a better critic of media in general because we have looked at media through numerous lenses- the obvious ones such as race, class, and gender, but also the not as obvious ones such as postmodernism and psychoanalysis. This proves that there is no one correct way to critique media but rather that it is important to back up your points with proper sources so that really, you could argue anything and still be making good points.

I've also tried to learn time management because our lengthy assignments, such as the final group paper and presentation, have really forced us to work ahead and stay focused because it's very stressful trying to get everything done, and getting it done well.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Evaluation

Oh no! I just realized that there was an error and my blog post never went through. Let's try this again. Sorry..

Things I liked:
- Alice, you rock. You always had an eloquent, well thought out answer to all of our comments and questions and never made it seem like you were talking down at us. You were able to create an environment that wasn't intimidating but that was still conducive to scholarly learning.
- I loved the Blog; great idea. Having a space where we could interact outside a classroom setting was awesome and allowed us to form a sort of scholarly community.
- The use of present day examples in media
- Discussion based

Things I didn't like so much:
- 2 blog posts per week could have been dropped down to just 1 per week.
- Classroom set up. I didn't like that we were sitting in rows and couldn't see each other.
- I would have liked to spend more time on post-modernism and vids
- Wish we had more time for final

Looking Back Looking Forward

It’s after four, so this might be a little short. But hopefully (if I wake up tomorrow) I’ll expand on this. Despite my reservations about the class in the beginning of the semester I have come to learn a great deal about a subject I would otherwise have only anecdotal knowledge of. What has been so interesting is the classification of principles and practices I only knew intuitively. This process has been equally enlightening and disheartening as, one of hand, I can articulate myself with greater ease and, on the other, my insight into media and culture has proven to be unimaginative and highly predictable.

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

One of My Favorites

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!!

wrap-up

I definitely enjoyed this class. I have to say that it was one of my favorite classes this semester, and definitely one of the favorite classes that i took while at NYU.

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

some negatives:
-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!

It's already December?!?

Overall, I genuinely enjoyed myself in this class, and learned a whole lot too. And this is most likely an echo, but the class blog was a great idea for a number of reasons. Unlike Blackboard, it's not difficult to work with and it doesn't go down when you need it the most. So I really appreciated that. I also enjoyed reading everyone else's blogs. After awhile, I could start reading someone's blog, and based on their style of writing, I would know who authored it - is that creepy?

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?

List Form!

Good things:
-engaging discussions
-use of both text book definitions and modern examples to teach concepts
-the blog instead of blackboard
-alice's availability outside of class for questions and help
-relaxed atmosphere of class that let people be comfortable voicing their opinions
-really interesting articles for the most part (I think the only one I didn't like was the Sex and the City and Consumerism one)
- the way the class was conducted and the interesting and the relatable issues we addressed made the class highly HIGHLY enjoyable and was probably my favorite class of the semester.

Not so good:
-how the articles we had to read for Thursday classes always ended up being the long ones.
-9:30 am start time (but thanks for excusing my perpetual lateness!)
-small amount of time to write the thursday blog posts
-we spent a lot of time on some topics (race, representation) and very little on others (postmodernism)
-amount of time given for final paper/presentation (my stress levels are bananas right now)

All in all it was a great class and I would 100% take another class with Alice as the prof!

I'm Sad that this Class is Drawing to an End

Not to be a kiss ass (excuse my language), but this class ties with History of Architecture for my favorite class this semester. Of my three years at NYU, I have never had a class this early in the day and I am still amazed at myself for not missing a single class.

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.

Criticisms of Media Criticisms

I'm proud of that.

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.

critique

As a transfer student I was nervous to start my first semester at NYU. Being a communications major I have taken other media classes at my previous college, but I must say that this is the first class I have really enjoyed when it comes to analyzing media. I mean who get's to say that my assignment is to write a paper about a TV show. It's pretty nice.
I really like the topics that we covered throughout the year. I felt like some of them got a little repetitive, such as always talking about blacks and whites. There was some including of other races, but a lot of it was centered around blacks and whites. I really like our textbook. I think it's really current and very easy to understand. Also, I really liked our conversations about daily media news that was happening throughout the semester ...aka LADY GAGA :) I liked posting on the blog. I thought it's a really nice way to interact with the media as well as our class and is greatly reflective of what we were learning in class. I also liked the films that we saw in class, although some of the older ones were a little boring. Many of the readings were interesting. Some were too long, but you get those in every class. I really feel that the techniques that I've learned about media criticism will truly be utilized in my later career.
Thanks Alice for a great class!!

Critique

As a required introductory course, I really enjoyed this class. I found all of the readings and lectures to be very interesting. The class covered a broad range of topics that fall under media and I really liked how each topic related to everything else we had learned up until that point. I also found the blog to be really beneficial to the class. I love how we were able to interact in an informal way but we still discussed the lessons and readings from each class. I had never written on a blog before and I am really glad that we were required to do so for this class because it will definitely help me in the future.
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.
Thank you!
As a Gallatin student, I had no idea what to expect from this course. I chose it because of subject matter that seemed interesting, plus timing that fit my schedule perfectly. However, "intro to media criticism" was seemingly deceptive, at least to a non-communications major. Prior to receiving the syllabus, I was expecting a course on written criticism in the context of reviews (which come from critics). In other words, an introduction as to how and why critcs formulate their reviews in certain ways. Needless to say, I was taken aback by much of the material being covered, but this course was probably more educational for me than one closer to my original idea would have been.

I'm definitely a fan of the blog format, especially after having been in multiple courses which required posting to and reading from Blackboard, a system which seems to be down as much as it's functional anyway. Especially in a media course, where images and links are so crucial to the subject matter, this is definitely the way to go. However, since blogging seems more informal than writing a formal response to something and posting to Blackboard, I've found that the blogs have sometimes been treated as such, something that's perpetuated by minimal authoritative responses to postings. It must be impossible to find time to read and comment on 30 blog posts weekly, but a little more feedback would have been useful. It also seems awkward to expect equal level posts on Tuesdays (when we've had four days to read) and Thursdays (when we've just had one day)--perhaps Tuesdays can be lengthier or prompted posts, while Thursdays can be briefer or free of a prompt?

The absence policy works well, and I used them sparingly and only when truly necessary, rather than trying to come up with a legitimate excuse, or having to worry about whether or not a valid excuse sounded legitimate enough.

Part of this may have been the terrible acoustics of the classroom, and part of this may have been the gradual waking up seen within a 9:30 class, but I would have liked to have seen and heard more from my classmates. Especially in such a conversation based class, a reconfiguring of the seats (perhaps circular?) would have been useful, and we could have used the conventional seating arrangement for powerpoint lecture or screening days.

I feel somewhat rushed now to produce an excellent presentation and final paper (which are weighted more heavily than our other assignments), with very limited group time. Perhaps you could assign the groups slightly earlier in the semester, so that initial screenings take place outside of class prior to the end-of-semester crunch, even if all concepts haven't been fully covered yet?

All in all, though, definitely an interesting and educational class, one I would recommend, and one I'm glad to have regularly woken up for.

my comments

I liked...
-blogging (versus printing &/or Blackboard)
-comments/interaction
-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

Class Critique

Well, it's safe to say, "I LOVED MEDIA CRITICISM!" Haha I really did though. I have to agree with "Bob," underneath me who said this was the best class to go to if you have to take a 9:30am class. I enjoyed how the class had, for the most part, a free and relaxed atmosphere. Sure things got stressful during the weeks we were writing papers, but we were given all our assignments well in advance, and I think had ample time to finish everything and produce a worthy piece of media criticism. I, personally, spent a lot of time in office hours, so I am very thankful for Alice being so available to help outside of the classroom, as well as promptly answering emails on line. Furthermore, I enjoyed class time the most because it wasn't a boring lecture the entire time we were there, but rather some examples from the previous night's blog, a power point, and then some open-ended discussion. This kept the class from getting boring because we never focused on one thing for too long and were able to cover a variety of topics. I think the blog was a very innovative idea, and I think I speak for the entire class when I say that is is SO much better than posting on blackboard. It still makes us have to do the readings because we obviously have to blog about it but I think it facilitates learning even more because we are able to dig up examples and read/watch other people's posts if we don't understand something. The only thing that I didn't enjoy as much were the readings that were more lengthy, definition-filled pieces such as the Hall article(s), but I found myself going back and using those kind of readings the most in my papers, so they are pretty essential. The readings on Sex and the City and The Hills/Laguna Beach were my favorite because I'm obsessed with all those shows and it was interesting being able to learn something constructive about them in school, too. All in all, it was a great class and I hope my stress levels decrease the closer I get to finishing this final paper... haha. Thanks again!

Media Crit

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. 

Do it Yourself Viding



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 IS THE BEST ONE!!

If you guys know the character of Toby on The Office, then you will find this video to be really funny and very-well done. Toby, in this trailer, is made out to be a bad guy, but in the show he is the one that is bullied and constantly made fun of, particularly by Michael Scott.


David Lynch's "A Goofy Movie"

To add to the other examples of vids that recut movies to create alternate trailers that are humorous because they make it seem like the movie belongs to a completely different genre, I give you The Goofy Movie as directed by David Lynch. The video creator takes strange scenes from the original movie and adds strange, dissonant music to recreate the type of atmosphere that is common in Lynch's movies.

The Various Functions of the Remix Culture

McIntosh and Coppa both claim that the art of 'fan vidding' is used to send critical messages about specific media texts. We are living in a digital age that provides the ease access to technological tools that allows active fans of various television shows, musicians, and films to draw comparisons, highlight critiques, and get laughs through the mashup technique.

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

Mrs. Doubtfire from Hell

Remember the heart-warming movie, Mrs. Doubtfire, about the father who, after losing a custody battle over his kids, resorts to dressing up as an elderly, Irish woman in order to spend as much quality time with them as possible? Well, take a look at this creepy recut trailer:



Robin Williams is no longer presented as the victim who loves his children so much that he is willing to dress up like an old woman every day just so he can see them but rather he is a maniacal stalker who tries to weasel his way into a family's household with ill intentions. This recut trailer is so well done that it actually left me laughing out loud; It's very similar to the Pretty Woman recut trailer since it's transforming the story into the complete opposite.

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhszXnuT7TM

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.


'Tis the season...

So as everybody has already mentioned in their posts, Coppa's article talks about the vids that are clips from the movies, put together, and edited with a specific soundtrack that directly reflects on the action that is happening on the screen.
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).


video

Spartans on a Dancefloor

According to Francesca Coppa, vidding is a form of grassroots film making that which puts together scenes from either movies or television and sets it to music to create a commentary on a particular viewpoint; essentially they are "visual essays." I really enjoyed the Buffy Vs. Edward vid; in the midst of the media's Twilight's obsession, it's refreshing to see Edward playing a role that is less favorable and domineering towards girls.  
I found a video created by Luminosity, who has remixed and reinterpreted many other movies and television shows to create a message. This clip has been cut from the movie, "300," the paradigm film of the macho mentality as it emphasizes and exaggerates male masculinity. This vid is set to Madonna's song "Vogue," which is about letting your body "move to the music" highlighting that "beauty is where you find it." This vid reverses the role of the gaze and demasculinzes the epic battle scenes in 300 to a frivolous dance party. The first 40 secnds cut to shots of Leonidus looking at Xerxes, which in this particular context suggests an underlying sexual tension.

Pretty Women: The recut vid

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!


Celebratory Vidding

After reading in Francesca Coppa's article that most " vidders make an infinite variety of arguments about the television shows and films they love—theorizing about characters, fleshing out relationships, emphasizing homoerotics, picking apart nuances of plot and theme—these arguments frequently articulate alternative perspectives, particularly in terms of gender and sexuality" and seeing that statement exemplified in the buffy/edward vid, I remembered a vid I had seen before that didn't quite fit into Coppa's defintion of subverting the usual oppressive way women are seen in specific shows, but rather showcased the women on television who are portrayed as strong, independent and really freaking awesome. While the vid may not be offering and alternative view, its still commenting on and celebrating female characters on television. This video probably has 50 or so different fandoms represented. Fantastically, I might add.

Toy Story Requiem

I found another well done mash-up, of (Pixar's) Toy Story with (Darren Aronofsky's) Requiem for a Dream by Mike Hindes. And it's not necessarily a commentary on one or the other, but it's intense and pretty cool.


(Click image above or here to see video since embedding was not permitted)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Notebook, re-cut

First of all, that Buffy vs. Edward video was amazing and very smart. The vid artist did an excellent job on juxtaposing Buffy, the strong independent female lead, to Edward, whose character has fallen for a very submissive girl; gender roles are definitely key elements in making the two videos work together. Coppa's article also explained vidding as arguments regarding female oppression and other tensions in a way I never perceived mash-ups/vids.

In the same light, I found this The Notebook re-cut on youtube created by Fatima Pineada. In case you are not familiar with the original movie, The Notebook (see below, below) is a sweet love story about a guy who loves the girl from the beginning all the way to the end, through separations and Alzheimer's. Basically. In a slightly similar idea that makes Twilight fangirls go crazy for Edward Cullen, a striking fellow (Noah) pursues the main girl (Allie) in The Notebook and does all kinds of cute things for her (although for Twilight, watching a girl sleep without her knowing is creepy in my book), but Allie's parents do not approve of their relationship due to socio-economic differences. In the end of the movie/book, their love prevails all.

However, in this mash-up, Allie looks like a stalker because of her undeniable love for Noah. This alternative perspective is interesting because a guy going after a girl despite her saying "No," like in the beginning of this movie, is not seen as psycho at all.


As Radway says in "Reading the Romance," the "romantic fantasy is therefore not a fantasy about discovering a uniquely interesting life partner, but a ritual wish to be cared for, loved, and validated in a particular way" (265).

If you remember, Noah dangles on the ferris wheel, demanding that Allie go out with him.. and that's not crazy.. Really, you should re-watch the original The Notebook trailer:


Harry Potter

video

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. 

Now That's a (Sasha) Fierce Vid.

In our final (!) reading, Coppa describes vidding as: "a form of grassroots filmmaking in which clips from television shows and movies are set to music...fannish vidders use music in order to comment on or analyze a set of preexisting visuals, to stage a reading, or occasionally to use the footage to tell new stories." With that definition in mind, here's one of the best examples of vidding in recent history.

In 2007, someone decided to use DJ Unk's "Walk it Out" as the soundtrack behind a Bob Fosse (one of the most iconic choreographers of all time) routine: "Mexican Breakfast." Shockingly, the contemporary song and dated performance mesh together quite well, and the clip was embraced and turned viral by many people in the dance, music, and theatrical industries--I was e-mailed the clip by over a dozen separate individuals.

Watch the performance, which was featured on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1969:


Does it seem at all familiar to you? It should.


Beyonce saw the clip online, and was inspired to try it herself--it's a classic example of a vid resulting in a cultural phenomenon.
The two performances have definite similarities: three women (one lead and two backups), a very similar style of choreography, and both have one continuous take (albeit various camera angles)--neither group of women had the luxury of having someone make them look good in the editing room.

The performance works just as well live as it does on film, as seen in the following clip, which comes from a benefit I assistant directed at the Gershwin Theatre (home of Wicked) earlier this year. Yes, those are men in front of the curtain.

Also worth noting, this was performed on a raked stage. If you don't know what that is, pay attention to the slant of the floor. It's at an angle, rather than being level--this makes the performers more visible from the audience's perspective, but is hell on the performers, who need to stand at an angle in order to give the appearance of standing upright.


Can you think of any other vids that have resulted in new creations or controversy?


Lady Gaga vs. Christopher Walken vs. Cartman

In Francesca Coppa's "Theory: Women, Star Trek, and the early development of fannish vidding," she defines vidding as "a form of grassroots filmmaking in which clips from television shows and movies are set to music." While this "Lady Gaga vs. Christopher Walken vs. Cartman" video is not necessarily the best example of vidding because it does not use the "music in order to comment on or analyze a set of preexisting visuals." However, this video does contain visuals of Cartman from South Park and Christopher Walken from the Halloween special on BBC1. This video commentates on the (perhaps) ever expanding influence of Lady Gaga's music.

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

Queer Housewife Bethany

So after watching the "horror" version of the trailer for Pretty Woman I found a whole bunch of vids that were made using other pop culture. One that I thought was really well done was the queer housewife. Bethany's character on the desperate housewives is a single successful woman. She is strong headed and a tough cookie, if you will to be with. She has noted throughout the show that she suffers from daddy issues, which is one of the contributing factors as to why she has so much trouble with men. However, this vid portrays her in a new light. I found this remix to be successful compared to some of the others I had watched. Knowing her background story and how her relationships with men always seem to falter (although now she is pregnant and engaged), you could possibly see her experimenting with her sexuality and becoming a part of the gay community. What do you think?

Double Vision

One of Will Ferrell's most well known characters during his time on Saturday Night Live was Alex Trebek. As Trebek, he hosted a parody version of Celebrity Jeopardy--he was the straight man (in comedic terms), surrounded by moronic celebrity contestants.

Come Ferrell's final episode on the series as a regular cast member, there was a special end to the sketch, which can be seen from roughly 6:00 on in the embedded clip below.

This is disconcerting, for we've become used to a world of accepting these characters as "real," albeit within a humorous characterized world. When the real figure appears, this serves as an immediate reminder of the SNL version being nothing but a comedy show. Ferrell may do a wonderful impersonation, but it's only that, which makes the final minute of the clip somewhat awkward, since he's still in character.

Our reading included: "postmodernism is, in some of its manifestations, about citation or quotation both in terms of referencing other texts and in terms of putting things in quotes to indicate a kind of distancing irony" (Sturken and Cartwright 321). The SNL clip does just that, by pulling the rug of reality out from under us.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mia Thermopolis to Princess Mia of Genovia



I really enjoyed the reading on Postmodernism because I found that it was something that our generation can easily relate to. There are so many great examples of this in media, specifically in movies today, that I was happy to finally put a name to what I've been watching all these years. Anyway, as Sturken and Cartwright explain, the goal of Postmodernism is for the audience to look at values that "underlie all systems of thought and thus to question the ideologies within them that are seen as natural." What I like about this goal is that postmodern ideals are looking for audiences who are media savvy, meaning that they are not easily fooled by society's techniques of propaganda- so their audience is typically parents. However, I did find a great example of Postmodernism that is targeted to children AND parents. Take the movie, The Princess Diaries.

Disney infuses postmodern ideas in the movie, The Princess Diaries, because it portrays a character, Mia Thermopolis, a not very attractive, unpopular, band geek only until she receives the news that she is going to be the next princess of her father's country, Genovia. Thus, we begin to see an extreme transformation in Mia's character as her grandmother, the Queen of Genovia, gives her a total makeover. As soon as her classmates and the public gets news of Mia's princess status, Mia becomes extremely popular at school, as she finally gets the attention of the hot guy she used to drool over, and cameras film her as she steps out of her grandmother's limo before walking to class. Mia has achieved an entire new identity while making this transformation from ordinary school girl to beautiful, celebrity, princess. This is an exact illustration of how Disney adopts this changing identity. Mia is not born with this beautiful confident persona, (therefore, it is not innate- postmodernism) it is only until she adopts the ideals of her grandmother, which are closely innertwined with the ideals of society, that she becomes truly confident.

The Malleable Image and Identity in Postmoderism

In this postmodern society, we have adopted the idea that “the body is imagined to be easily transformed” (Sturken & Cartwright 326). This correlates also with the idea that the modern “notions of identity as innate” is no longer reliable (325). I think these two ideas are represented in Hollywood movies where agents go through reconstructive surgeries to adopt. An example is Get Smart where Anne Hathaway’s character, Agent 99, completely changes her face because her previous identity was compromised. However, her character changes as she adopts her new “identity.” I feel that this bolsters the idea that in postmodernism, “the surface is understood to be a crucially meaningful element of social life and not simply the illusion put over the real” (325). Identity is not definitely innate; it is structured by social elements and the changing of appearances.

Couldn't find the image or clip of Agent 99 before her transformation, so here's a trailer from the movie for fun:

Hyperrealism


According to Sturken and Cartwright, "A hyperreal text is one that seems to be saying, "this is real, take note of that!"
The above picture is me holding an ice cream.... or a picture of an ice cream cone. It is hyperreal in that it invites the consumer to simulate holding the actual product.
Those OnStar car commercials are also a great example of hyperrealism. Another example would be the Geico commercials that have celebrities with non-celebrties. These commercials give the viewer a sense of realism because they involve non-actors, thus giving the viewer more room to trust that the products really do satisfy everyday people. The use of non-scripted advertising is an effective way to create hyperrealism.




Walt Whitman Wants You To Buy New Jeans

By discussing Cindy Sherman's photography, Sturken & Cartwright mention that "nostalgic references to other historical periods is another hallmark of post-modern art" (256).

Have any of you guys seen the latest Levi commercials? If not check these out.

Instantly, we hear the scratchy recording of someone's voice reciting a voice. In both commercials, the poems "Kalliope" and "Pioneers! O Pioneers" by Walt Whitman are being used to successfully set a nostalgic tone that the Levi's campaign is clearly aiming for. These two commercials also embody polysemy since there doesn't seem to be one clear meaning. Are we supposed to go out and start a revolution...while wearing Levi jeans? Or perhaps there's a stronger social commentary?

What do you guys think?



One more!!!

Okay, so I finished my other blog post and put on this Xeno and Oaklander CD I bought today, and HOLY CRAP is this not total pastiche sounding-like-1983-up-in-my-headphones right now. This was just released, like, Tuesday, but it was made specifically with vintage synths on analog equipment. Anyway, just thought I'd share some sick modern music with you guys too..

Their Myspace.

Also, really great clip of them playing last year:

Alter-Modern and The Return of The Real



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

Switched On Bach


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.