Wednesday, August 20, 2008

all good things

1) I saw him at the 150th Southampton Town Hall Dance. Seems like a really nice guy. But, beyond that, his music is BANANAS.

2) Here are all of the things that our generation has always had. I weep for the generation that never had Goosebumps HAUNTING THEIR DREAMS.

3) Tips to warding off a posse of rabid kids

4) An oldie, but this sticks with me. I decree that everything should be shown in slow motion. EVERYTHING.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

them baggy sweat pants

The about me section on my facebook profile always throws me for a loop. Currently I don't actually have anything, except a brilliant run down of the things that Flo Rida and my man T-Pain like and, apparently, as do I. We are all one in the same.

As summer wraps up, I am plagued with nostalgia -- just as I always am when any passage of time that held any sort of significance ends. I come home to Port kicking and screaming; wishing my time away and longing for Guelph. But, as things boil down, when I realize that things may never be THIS EXACT WAY ever again, I pine for home. I romanticize the way the beach looks at night, or just how much we laughed in Scott's basement, or how much of a raging inferno the illegal fires we lit in Beiner's were (pretty fucking raging, I'd say).

I think I'm a bit like an addict. I'm addicted to beating myself up for not completely appreciating and salvaging every last scrap of memory.

To tie this together: how do you write that about yourself on your profile without sounding like a pretentious bag of douche? Answer: You don't. Instead, you wait until 1:58 in the morning after another night to add to the "Dream for Home" pile and use it over and over again.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Life Skills I Have Barley Acquired: Part One of an Unlimited Series

i am the worst driver on the planet. bar none. i'd entrust a crusty eyed monkey with half an arm, while under the influence over me. hide your children.

UPDATE!:

So, the lovely little tidbit above came from the sheer frustration of being South-Western Ontario's worst driver. As a little background information, I was practicing for my G test which I did this morning. And, SHOCKINGLY the practice did not go well. Mom had been attempting to re-teach me to parallel park and back into a parking space since I had neglected to even attempt to do this before my last G2 test 4 years ago. The second time (also, the time I passed) I did my G2, the man was incredibly apathetic about what I did. We drove around for about 5 minutes, he asked me what way I would turn my wheels if I was parking uphill with a curb, had me go back to the drive test centre, signed his name, wiped his nose and said "good enough" and left. Encouraging. I assume that the man was probably hung over, or, let's be realistic since it was Owen Sound, drunk. At the time, I wished him to be showered with blessings and fluffy kittens from heaven, but now I just realized that he set up of a lifetime of allowing an incompetent asses, such as myself, legally out on the roads.

Long story short, in usual Kayla fashion, I put off practicing for my G and decided to dick around and put in the least amount of energy humanly possible. On Tuesday, Mom suggested we go out and start practicing since the date was coming up quickly. Instead, I decided that going to cheap night in Owen Sound to watch Pineapple Express was a FAR better idea, and that I'd practice highway driving on the way there. Did I do any of this? Well, besides gaining the knowledge that Pineapple Express is the GREATEST CINEMATIC ACHIEVEMENT OF ALL TIME, no. I will never change.

So, being frustrated with the fact that on Wednesday when I finally gave in and tried to learn, I sucked. Sucked so hard the universe caved in on itself. Mom being frustrated with the fact that she raised a drooling, knuckle dragging ape, asked my Dad, King of the Highway, to teach me. After all, he pretty much drives around for a living (along with this title comes "Badass") so we set off. Long story short, I ended up crying about how my brother and sister (both who are younger than I am) can drive perfectly and I am "retarded" and can't do anything. I yelled about not having any life skills, how I was moving to a place with a subway, and how I was not having any kids because it's cumbersome to fit all six of them on a subway with me (bananas).

I treated myself to a good old fashioned pity party, complete with laying in bed and watching Sex and the City. Oh Carrie Bradshaw, how your fictional terrible life choices ease my troubled mind.

This morning I grabbed life by the balls, woke up early, practiced a bit and set out to Walkerton. Every time I came to an intersection, slow folks with no where to go would cruise across intersections; I mildly tapped the curb while parallel parking; I turned a three point turn into a four point adventure. And yet

I MO-FUCKIN' PASSED.

Mad props to:
Dad, Mom, Mom's friend Monica for showing her a better way to back into a parking space, Seth Rogan, buckets of Coke you get from the movie theatre, Celebratory McDonald's (shout out to my mom x2), and, most of all, Curly haired lady from the Drive Test Centre. May your life be full of joy for bestowing upon me the gift of never having to prove I'm competent again until I am the ripe old age of 80.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

just when you think your life has finally come into fruition; that everything you wanted is aligned, you realize how selfish and unpredictable the world you've come to cherish has become. a little girl i used to baby sit died this morning. a brain tumour: i think she was 16 years old.

reality checks set in hard when you've become so far removed from the real world.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Between getting the overwhelming sensation to never leave my house again, and gaining insight into Bosnian war crimes trials, the CBC brought to my attention something wonderful: Stuff White People Like.

This is probably the funniest find I have made as of late. I am dismayed and somewhat delighted to announce that a good 90% of what is on that list factor into my personal enjoyment with ease -- Especially: Having Gay Friends; Grammar; Arts Degrees; Farmers Markets; and Arrested Development.

So while I will never be able to go on a bus again without the sincere fear that I will be hacked to bits by a copy cat passer by, I can at least bask in my computer's glow and truly chuckle about how it is so white of me to be shitting my pants and hoping my mom knows that I love her anytime I want to travel.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Generica!

So, yesterday was the first time in about five years that I have gone to the beach and been seen in public in a bathing suit. Before I launch into the rest, I'm really avoiding the urge to get all women's magazine on this shit. This is not a feel good editorial about how you should love your body, and it will not be followed with a recipe for tasty -- but low fat -- lemon-cran muffins. While that does sound mouth watering, I cannot tolerate it: there is nothing that irritates me more an a woman's generic story about how one day she had an epiphany about body image, self esteem and learned to adore what she has. While, hey, maybe this does happen to some people, the baby making you abandon your body hatred, a man reassuring you that you are splendid looking, I resist the belief that any sort of self appreciation, the kind that makes you re-evaluate your life at least, should be based upon a happiness that you draw from someone else.

All while at the beach, I got to thinking about how it is probably odd that I don't have low self esteem, or hate myself in any real way. Sure, I had a long, drawn out stretch during my first year of university where I did not enjoy who I was in any stretch of the imagination. But, growing from that period, and re-evaluating what it was that I was experiencing has really lead me to believe that I am genuinely good enough. That probably makes me sound like an asshole, but I've come to terms with the fact that for some ridiculous reason, outwardly thinking that you are enough; that who you are is what you actually need, makes you seem as if you lack any credit and are a straight up liar. I can't really find a happy medium with this thought that lands between "Generic Women's Personal Power Piece," and "Arrogant Douche Bag" safely.

But, despite that, while I was wading the in water, by myself, I couldn't help but recognize that what I was doing was a pretty big thing -- for a lot of people. I, in fact, manage to really love my body, (despite the lack of approval from others, which is why I never attend the sandy shores of P.E. to begin with, but that is an entirely different posting.) and how it came from the ongoing disapproval from other people that made me appreciate what I look like. Sure, all day everyday isn't a "SUPER-HAPPY-LOVE-ME-FEST," but most of the time, I think i'm a'ight.

This may be some of the rambling, circular things I was talking about in my previous post. But maybe it's not. Maybe it's a little important. Or, it mimics masturbation and I'm really just pleasing my ever growing ego. Whichever, at least I feel good about myself,and have some sort of satisfaction at the end.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I have decided to change the direction of my blog into something more personal [probable outcome: boring musings of my life]. I will probably write things as I did before, but it's not like Port is a budding centre of inspiration or enlightenment, so I've found attempts for discussion on media/culture difficult. These will probably be best served when I'm back at school and a) more motivated and b) stimulated intellectually. So, all and all, I'm changing gears. It's not like anyone reads this religiously anyway, [edit: holla to greg and Julien, you my boys] so I'll do whatever I want. Just wait for the boring musings and circular questions I've got up my sleeve. I can feel the anticipation growing already.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

19: Reason Number 678,099 that I am a Women's Studies Student

We are more than this.

Congratulations to the Grey-Bruce area. We've made PerezHilton.com. Why? Because of sexism. We are an area of great generosity, beautiful landscape and history. But, we are the internet sensation of the day because of the blatant intolerance that still manages to linger in the area.

It brings me an incredible amount of satisfaction and pride knowing that so many people here are speaking out against this discrimination and putting their money where their mouths are. I do not have the words to express the amount of hope that I have that this will finally open up some kind of dialog about the discrimination that exists here.

We can't keep pushing it under the rug.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

18

http://fishki.net/comment.php?id=32304

Above is a link that has been graciously provided to me by my dear friend Daniella. It is a Korean art project that takes children's doodles and turns them into photographs. I have no commentary on this currently, beyond the fact that it is FANTASTIC!

Feel the warmth friends.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

17

On Thursday, I went to go see a pre-screening of Iron Man at my friendly local movie theatre. I went into the film with mixed emotions. I went in knowing that the likelihood of my previous experience with action movies would probably reign true: glorified racism, sexism – pretty much any ism would be alive and well. But, the trailer was badass. What was a girl to do?

I went in thinking that I would probably feel as if I had been robbed of the $8.00 admission price, $3.50 for a trough of diet coke, and the two hours of my life that the film was going to cost me. After seeing my 22 year old cousin leave Spiderman 3 with more sadness and deep melancholy than a 3rd grader whose puppy had just died, I was looking for retribution, something to make up for all of the disappointments I had seen previously. And, I am happy to report that Iron Man delivered. It was entertaining. Just enough violence, a hint of love story, clever dialogue: Iron Man is the most palatable Marvel film I’ve seen yet.


With all of this said, the reasons why I enjoyed the film parallel the reasons why the film offended me. Because it follows that tried and true format of the action film. Americans, good. Enemies of America, bad. I am getting damn tired of seeing Arab people as not only a) the perpetrators of all that is terrible and evil in the cinematic world and b) seeing the general population portrayed in a manner that results in them in need of a heroic and strapping young white American lad to come in and save them from their fellow citizens turned macho terrorists. Is this just reflecting the ridiculous climate that the American public has been thrust into?: yes. Movies are great indicators of what the political climate of the era it was shot in.

I am aware that when I go see this sort of movie, I am going to be watching the enemy of the week on the screen, doing their dastardly duty. But, I’m getting to a point of exhaustion watching this regurgitated crap over and over again. Action movies need villains. Good. Great. But the complete lack of ingenuity is beginning to piss me off more and more.

Are you even trying anymore Hollywood? Why not try to spice things up, and pick some other enemy to dominate with phallic weapons and absurd bravado? The Bush administration has plenty of enemies: environmentalists, the endangered species that aren’t cute OR cuddly, left wing college students. Take your pick.

Obviously, I’m not trying to make the fact that we unfairly reduce Middle Eastern people to the binaries of terrorist and peasant a joke. I’m just attempting to point out that when you’ve boiled the people involved in a complicated and unjust situation to two categories, it is inane and ridiculous. Clearly this portrayal keeps happening because the viewing public either doesn’t realize that this is happening or doesn’t care.

There is a formula here because the formula works. But, why don’t we give ourselves more credit than that and actively seek something better?

Monday, April 14, 2008

15

I haven't been up to a lot lately. This is mostly because I have had a long, long stretch of time between my last exam and my final paper. Thusly, I have been doing an incredible amount of dicking around. Up until today this was something that I assumed was futile and a waste of life. But, turns out that my incredible sloth actually ended up being the reason why I found something to blog about. Silver lining? I think so.

I'm a little slow on the uptake about this, but apparently there has been a Toronto Media Activist, calling himself Phreak615 that has been hacking into Much Music's signal over the past few weeks. Exploiting the inadequate knowledge of new techonology by the company's employees, Phreak615 is claiming that he has direct access to Much Music's digital server and has rigged a way to broadcast himself.

I have seen these grainy, 10 second interruptions twice today. One with phreak615 holding up a sign with his website scrawled on it, while he said "I am Britney Spears," and another time a woman shrieking in a tone that was not totally audible with another plug to the blog.

Feeling somewhat optimistic in recent days, I'm hoping that this is the real deal. I want more than anything for someone with an actual agenda to successfully find a way to be subversive and to have this broadcast into the homes of the thousands of people who are watching. But, this is where my cynicism creeps in.

For someone who has gone to great lengths to discover a way to hack into Much Music's broadcasts and calls themselves a media activist, I'm not really seeing a whole lot of activism going on. Sure, it is a statement in and of itself that this guy has figured out a way to weasel onto the air and interrupt Mat Babel and Leah Miller's pithy dialouge about beautiful people and shiny new products. But, if you had that kind of a platform, and had enough drive to worm your way onto the television sets via one of the most recognized staples of Canadian television while (probably) breaking the law, don't you think you'd have something to say? Something beyond "I am Britney Spears" or only plug your blog that has no mission statement or sense of direction? I am intrigued that this man has been attempting to get people to create videos so that they can be broadcast as well but if you have no mission statement, then what are these people supposed to say? This entire thing to me seems a) a little lack luster and b) probably a huge con.

This is probably going to be revealed as some sort of wonderful promotion that taps into a cultural phenomenon, not unlike the that marketing that Cloverfield had. If this is the case, good one Much Music, way to tap into the viral video craze that those kids out there today sure do seem to love.

So, to wrap this up, on behalf of culturally interested people every where, please stop getting my hopes up Phreak615. Please don't lead me on to believe that these interruptions actually mean something and are not just shameless self promotion. Please do not abuse our soft spot for viral video and make this a marketing ploy that we are all bound to fall for because of our tiny attention spans coupled with a desire for rebellion sold us in a neat little viral packages. Please, let this be something that has some sort of cultural significance after all is said and done.

Or, at least let me in on the joke Much Music. I can take it. I like to laugh too.

Friday, April 4, 2008

14: bow out gracefully

So kids, this marks the end of my postings for the purpose of being graded. I'm probably going to keep my blog up, as I mentioned earlier today. I can't be sure as of right now what direction I'll be taking this. But, reflecting on the entire experience and looking over my work, I've come to realize that I put a lot of stake into co-optation and incorporation. I hope that I'll be able to expand on this theme throughout the summer, and incorporate more of Duncombe's ideas not only into my analysis of media, but into my everyday practices.


It's been great getting to know all of you; take care of yourselves. You know how to find me.


-kayla

13

I was going to leave my blog as is for evaluation, but I couldn’t pass this up.

So, this my friends is a KFC compilation of southern rappers laying it down about how KFC is soul food, comforting, liberating and, brace yourself kids, heritage. I’m posting this mostly because it’s hilarious, but it also reminded me a lot of the Heath and Potter article we looked at a while ago.

Obviously this is about taking a lifestyle and appropriating it to sell politically incorrect chicken legs. The main stream hip hop culture has been no stranger to this sort of cross promotion and branding. I mean, let’s face it; no one loves Bacardi that much. Companies have been paying artists to throw in references to their products for a very long time, but why this really got me was because there was no attempt to make this seem as if it was being used for altruistic purposes. Beyond the name, “Hitmaker,” which would leave you thinking that this was an outlet for struggling artists to finally catch a break (which it does not), there is no indication that anyone can submit a song. Hey, if you can make a million dollars throwing in some references, it’s your business. But when KFC starts parading artists around with lyrics about its product being soul food, something that really “sticks to your ribs,” it’s very misleading and genuinely absurd. I’m positive that most of the people who come across this are going to think that it is as funny and as I did: Everything about it just screams lame. But, it does provide some insight into how marketing works and the lengths to which companies are willing to go to manipulate culture to sell.

Thanks for reaching out to the community KFC. Your hard work and dedication to the promotion of good family values is really appreciated in the community. Oh, and your commitment to proper nutrition? Stunning.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

12

Well, to unveil my official opinion about the Vogue cover that I know you’ve been waiting for with baited breathe is that I pretty much refuse to have an opinion about the Vogue cover. I’m not pretending that it doesn’t exist, I’m just thinking along the lines that if we, or I, feed into an idea like this that it just perpetuates a problem rather than finding any actual answers.

The issue of the cover raises a lot of questions though. And maybe they’re questions that need to be asked in a mainstream forum. Is it racist because we READ racism into it? Is that reading in and of itself inherently racist? Does it say more about us as people, as a conglomerate if we see there being this intertextuality between an image of a white woman and a black man to King Kong?

There has been a lot of focus on this cover, and a lot of it I can say is needless. But, when talking about representation in media, I thought about how when you flip through a Vogue, how many images of minorities do you see? I have a copy of the Vogue at my house and have looked through it, and there were some stunning photographs of Bundchen and James together. So why this cover? Why not this cover?

All in all, I don’t really have an answer, just a series of questions following questions. I think that a dialogue about representations of minorities in mainstream media definitely needs to be opened up and embraced, but I question the validity of this cover to be the catalyst for this. I fear that this is all going to be chalked up to a debate over what is politically correct; another means to gloss over the actual problem rather than facing issues head on. But we shall see.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

11: Common, Vogue?

There has been an incredibly large amount of controversy of the the cover of the newest issue of Vogue. Critics, subscribers, and the public have been engaging in debate over whether or not they think that the cover is racist. Before you read on, take a look at the cover here.

The argument made is that the stance that LeBron James has been photographed in is reminiscent of King Kong, while Giselle Bundchen is depicting the fragile, helpless women.

I will post my personal take on the cover tomorrow, but I just thought I'd throw the image out for you guys to take a look at first and consider. I don't want to sway your opinion before you get a chance to take a good look at it. If you want to think more about it, I suggest you ask what does it mean that this cover is being interpreted this way? Does this make a comment on race and gender in a positive or negative manner? What is at stake? From the buzz around the internet, this is the first black man to appear on the cover of Vogue. What connotations do we look at when that is thrown into the mix?

Gisele B√ľndchen and LeBron James Vogue Cover Controversy. A Socialite's Life. March 28 2008, March 29 2008.


Lebron, Gisele Bunchen Vogue cover stirs up controversy. TheStar.com. March 25 2008. March 29 2008.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

10: the reflex

Since last night’s class, I’ve been thinking a lot about our potential for resistance and what resistance means for us right now. As soon as this was brought up, it reminded me of this interview Neil Young where he stated:
“The time when music could change the world is past. I think it would be very naive to think that in this day and age. The world today is a different place, and that it’s time for science and physics and spirituality to make a difference in this world and to try to save the planet.”

That statement has been a dark cloud for me over the past few days. I keep replaying the idea over to myself that if Neil Fucking Young doesn’t think that music can change the world anymore, the man whose music stood as a beacon for so many people, then what is it that we’re supposed to do?

I do not understand the math behind physics, and I vaguely appreciate spirituality to an extent, but music is something that I think I’ve come to understand, in some way or another. Music is something that most people can have access to. And, despite your politics, it’s something that is free. Anyone can make it, anyone can enjoy it. When taught in schools it makes kids smarter. It’s engaging. Maybe it’s not the music’s potential in and of itself to make a difference that’s past, maybe we’re just waiting for the right people to execute the medium correctly again.

Paraphrasing a quotation from a video we watched yesterday, that even if the effort is trivial, but contributes to happiness, then it might be on to something (I do not remember what it was called, help me out if you will). So yes, everything does get appropriated and everything sucks. Despite the fact that I’ve been pretty jaded and bitter about most things in my thinking lately, I think I’m finally getting that even if that is true, it’s at least worth a try to make some sort of change. And why not have fun doing it. It’s clear that we – our culture at large – love the idea of instant pleasure; why not use that for something positive? If everything gets worse and all of my worst fears come true (we all become bottled water drinking, hummer driving, bon jovi loving capitalists) then we can at least say we tried?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

9

Last Monday. Lauren and I were discussing the relevance and importance of celebrity culture. Our discussion lead me to think about the content that is posted daily, and beyond that, the potential meaning it has on a grander scale. I readily admit that I engage in the cult of celebrity. I read Perez Hilton daily, I know about Patrick Swayze and what defamatory comments Jessica Alba has made recently. But is there something more to it than just that? Beyond all of the standard trash talk and music recommendations, we both saw the medium becoming something much bigger.

Every once and a while, Perez will deviate from his normal practice of drawing coke noses on paparazzi photos and give some sort of commentary on what's going on in the world -- be it reports on which democratic candidate is his pick, what the situation is Venezuela is, or what's the deal with the writer's strike.

All of this eventually lead me back to something that Duncombe said in the chapter "Recognize Everyone:"

"In the absence of a unifying moral textbook, celebrity gossip becomes one of the places where we work out what is right and what is wrong and, through our interpretations of the actions of these characters eke out a moral code to live by"(Duncombe, 113-4).

When Hilton posts these pieces of non-celebrity text, there's usually the typical wave of offensive comments, but what I'm beginning to see is real, thought out responses and commentary on what has been written; actual engagement with the information that Hilton has provided. While it may not be completely constructive or rational, it still is providing people with a forum to express their responses to the content that has just been published. What does this do to the shape of the moral text book that we create? I'm really beginning to see that there could be more to this entire thing than just the notions that" cocaine is bad, adoption is great” that people have typically been getting from the gossip provided. If this can be used as a tool to shape mores, then can it be a jumping point for readers to become actively involved in the world outside of junk entertainment? And, if social norms are being established, along with interactions with the political, will this become a forum to make politics something to be more readily engaged with, rather than something tedious and out of reach?



Duncombe, Stephen. Dream: Re-imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy. New York: The New Press, 2007.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

net neutrality

just a quick post,

I had never encountered the concept of net neutrality, and therefore didn't really understand much about it. But I was hunting around on digg and found this video that explained what it's about. So if anyone is as clueless about it as I was, I've posted the video. Hope it helps!


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

7: reaction to dream, part one

The Stephen Duncombe book really struck me at a level that surprised myself. Mostly because I could see myself in it. And not in a particularly flattering way.

When my mom, sister and I were making the trek back from Guelph to my hometown (which, may I preface with the fact that my town loves its conservatism, gas guzzling luxury vehicles purchased with sweet, sweet, nuclear power money and large trucks for the country kids thrown into the mix for kicks) for reading week, we were being tailgated by someone driving a Hummer. This garnered my response of: “Driving a Hummer automatically makes you an asshole,” and thusly started my shtick about why SUVs are killing the planet, blah blah blah.

Later, I went on to yell about why I thought drinking bottled water made you an asshole, all while making my eloquently planned out argument about how you shouldn’t try to commodify something that is a right, further blah blah blah.

My sister finally looked at me and said “So okay, in your world, there would be no sweet cars or ways to drink when you are not near a fountain. Your world would be terrible, and you are the asshole.”

I really tried to downplay the fact that I got metaphorically body slammed by my younger sister and her shoddy argument, but the fact was, in all respects, I was being an asshole. When I read this passage in Dunbcombe’s book, I stopped and said to myself “Dear god, this is you.”

Think of how progressives often frame their demands for ending dependence on fossil fuels: don’t buy a sport utility vehicle, don’t drive over 55 miles per hour, don’t waste gas. Don’t, don’t, don’t. …It’s fun to drive fast: one feels invincible in an SUV, and bare skin is sexy. This doesn’t mean that wasting energy should be celebrated, only that it is worth figuring out way people do it before simply condemning, regulating, and repressing (34-5).

So for all of my good intentions, I was actually coming off as an elitist to both of them. Everything that I feel was positive that I had to say was paired with this looming negative. Rather than demonstrating what was positive about my ideas, such as the all important ability to breathe freely, I was completely isolating them and probably making them feel as if they were the targets, and therefore wanted no part in it.

When you’ve become disenfranchised with the way things are going, I guess it’s easier to feel the negative because, at your most base level, sometimes that’s the only thing that you feel you have. I lead myself to believe that all of the injustices and reprehensible things that I saw as an immediate issue would resonate in the same place for everyone as it did for me.

My intention was completely lost in the fact that the only thing that I knew how to do was to preach: Preach about how Hummers make the atmosphere cry sulpheric tears, how bottled water will probably give you cancer –cancer you paid for, at that. And it didn’t stop there. For as long as I’ve distanced myself from my family’s politics in lieu of my own, I’ve probably been slapping them in the face with my rhetoric rather than finding ways for them to relate with them. Rather than guiding, I’ve been sort of punishing them with my ideas.

I think on a whole, I’m going to be able to apply Duncombe’s book on a much smaller level to myself. He states: “…progressives need to think less about presenting facts and more about how to frame these facts in such a way that they make sense and hold meaning for everyday people” (10). If I can’t be fun, if my message can’t be interesting or engaging or anything to anyone else but myself, then what’s the point of having a message?

Monday, February 11, 2008

6: p.s.

Just following up the comment I made in class, I really want to mention that I don't think that shows like The Daily Show, or fake news in general isn't important or making an important contribution to the way we view news and the potential activism that follows. I eat parody and fake news up. I think that putting too much stock into the idea that it will somehow revolutionize the way we perceive media and interact with it is just a little too idealistic for me. I've been reading a lot of Emma Goldman lately, and because of this I've been thinking a lot about fetishism and what that means. I think, in this case, to fetishize the importance of something like The Daily Show is harmful, because if too much stock is put into something being the answer, being empowering, it's more than likely to aid in keeping you apart of the system.

I don't know if I completely buy into that, but I think that's the sentiment I was going for. Except I worded it poorly and couldn't find the words to rephrase myself and convey what I meant properly.

fin.

5: presentation

here is the full length version of my presentation. minus the nervous jokes that weren't any good. promise.

About The Campaign

The Bushin30Seconds.org contest was created by MoveOn.org, a website that raises money and awareness for the democratic party. The contest was open to the public, with submissions that critiqued and reflected the creator’s opinion of the Bush Administration. The winning ad would be played on a major American channel during the Superbowl.


There was one overall winner, Child’s Play, but an additional 6 categories with top submissions were listed as well. The website additionally gave viewers access to the best 150 entries from the over 5000 that the campaign received. The ads were evaluated and ranked by a panel that included celebrities that have been vocal about their political affiliations, including Jack Black and Moby (http://www.bushin30seconds.org/judges.html)


There was controversy over the campaign when two ads that compared Bush’s administration to Hitler and the Nazi party were posted on the website, which ended up gathering protest and great concern from three anti-defamation groups. Originally, CBS was to broadcast the 30 second short, but declined. The ad was then picked up by CNN, and was still broadcast during the Superbowl. (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/en/doc/2004-01/07/content_296513.htm)

In 2005, there was a follow up campaign by Moveon.org called “Bushin30years.org,” that had over 140,000 entries that were to inform the public about Bush’s changes in Social Security laws. This time, the winning entry would get an Apple computer and their short would be run on several “youth websites,” with the opportunity for the public to contact the winner, if the winner so desired. http://www.bushin30years.org/rules.html.

So What Does This All Mean?


As Boler stated in her article, “visual satire offers an ideal form to transmit to post-911 contradictions because irony turns on the unsaid; is uses the dominant forms of logic to express what is otherwise silenced as dissenting didacticism; it expresses horrors in forms that are palatable; it creates a sense of shared meaning and community by using the unsaid to create a recognition of the dominant culture as misrepresentation (Boler, 1-2)


Bushin30Seconds is a perfect example of this sentiment. With this campaign, the voices of the submitters are actually put into motion. While The Daily Show feeds on its viewers’ fundamental longing for the objective, the alternative, Bushin20Seconds.com is a direct representation of what the participating public felt about the Bush administration. This campaign dealt directly with parody on several levels. It wasn’t just the Bush administration’s blatant lies on display that were the subject of the critique, it was a reflection on politicians’ ad techniques as well; when one views these audience submissions, they can see the similarity. The Bushin30Seconds campaign heavily relies on its participants’ prior knowledge of how political propaganda works, and therefore these ads are a citizen’s comments on the effectiveness of the political campaign and how the public is interacting with these advertisements.


Furthermore, In The Death of Media gives a comprehensive list, directing the reader as to how they can aid in the formation of a democratic media. Step number nine, in particular really represents what the Bushin30Seconds campaign really strove to achieve:

“9. Become the media – develop media-making skills including video, photography, and
websites. Democratizing media is not just about what they do, it’s about what we do.”
(Schechter, 151)

Questions are raised with this sort of media though. When extremist views were put on the website, the effects were off putting. Did this extremist view of the Bush administration and the negative exposure the website got because of these entries?


Does this vilify the alternative media? Because of the views of extremists, does this isolate the public, and make them weary of trusting that which is not mainstream? Will occurrences like that scare people away from being exposed to groups whose agendas are really to inform the public?

Contemporary Comparisons


The user-based parody is obviously still prevalent. With the growth in popularity of “fake news,” and YouTube, it is clear that there is serious support for fair, non agenda pushing media representation. One example of this is the Rick Mercer Report’s online exercise where viewers are given an image of a politician / politicians and are asked to manipulate the image in a humorous and satirical manner. While the images are usually camp, there is meaning there. Why does the user chose to put said politician in this reworked image? What does it say about their role in society? What meaning does it have for the state of politics at the time?

Another example of user based political satire is the endless number of YouTube videos and other viral websites that have user made parodied videos. Such videos include a scantly clad woman parodying “In love with a stripper” with “I’m in love with Obama.” Another video compares the moronic answer that a Miss Teen USA finalist gave about the state of education in America to Republican frontrunner, McCain. Will Farrell’s comedy, user based video website, FunnyorDie.com, has an entire section dedicated to videos that are political, and clearly reflect the thoughts of the 18-30 demographic that the website appeals to.

As the article states, in the case of The Daily Show, one must be informed of what is going on in the MSM, what information has become public knowledge to really grasp the effect and meaning of the daily show (Boler, 2). If you aren’t informed, are you truly getting the meaning behind the message? Or, if the satirical is relied on solely for information, does the parody become a form of “Infotainment” rather than a legitimate source of alternative news? Does it become Perez Hilton like in value? If one was not fully aware of what the political climate was at the time of the making of the Bushin30Seconds.com shorts, would the message still be as effective, as important to the viewer? Would it still have meaning?



*p.s. i will properly cite this as soon as possible

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

4: response to death of media

I’ve been slugging away at The Death of Media for the past three days now. I attempted to read it all in one go to save myself some time. But after starting it, I realized that it was something that I should pace myself with and really contemplate, because it had a vast amount of information in a small amount of space. I think this ended up benefiting me, since I could contextualize and process the information and think of examples for myself.

With this in mind, I immediately thought of Manufacturing Consent. I studied a little bit of Noam Chomsky last year (nothing extensive, just enough to make me seem cool), so the majority of the information that I was reading – big corporations having even bigger choke holds on media ownership and diversity, infringement on journalistic freedom, etc – wasn’t completely foreign to me. However, it did a fantastic job of reinforcing the things that I had already read, and putting them into a more relatable and frankly, a more enjoyable, context.

The last two sections really sold the book to me. With the steps to contribute to the democratization of the MSM included, it made seeing examples of progress clearer. On page 145, Schecter spoke of “the advent of ubiquitous …community wireless networks…mobile podcasting...and other interactive media, [that are] dedicated to the principle that all citizens have the right of access to, and the right to speak in, the public sphere.” This reminded me of an interview with Michael Geist that I had watch on The Hour’s podcast about the impending changes on Canadian Copyright legislature:



I think this example is the above concept really put into motion. Using social networking and new forms of media, the message about a law that will ultimately impede on the privacy and rights of citizens is getting out to people. Through the facebook group, which has been joined by over 40, 000 members, people are actually getting information about how to contact MPs and getting their ideas from forms that are accessible to them; in means form that are popularly used, related to, and understood. With the interest over the internet, the message is finally pushed into the MSM, as demonstrated by the video, and there is widespread access to the information.

Monday, January 28, 2008

3: Line-up, get your McDiploma

I took a little time today after a meeting with Ian to go to the media library in the MACK building and start throwing some ideas around so that I could finally get the ball rolling on my blog postings. When I was doing this, I remembered an article that I read this morning, while doing my daily internet motivated slacking. :

http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2008/01/28/mcdonalds-credits.html

If you can’t access it or if the link has expired, I’ll give you the gist of what’s going on, and why I weep for the future. McDonald’s has proposed to the British school system to allow classes that give students McDonald’s experience to be counted as high school credits. These classes would give students experience with running their own McDonald’s franchise, marketing etc.

Once I got over the initial hilarity of the sheer idea that someday I, or those who I love, could one day walk across a stage with their colleges and potentially accept a McDiploma, this actually started to concern me. The concept that McDonalds could one day be the face of education scares the shit out of me.

If corporate interestes are introduced into a classroom, and once said company controls the funding, where is the line between the best interests of the students and the best interest of a company's hope for future workers going to be drawn? This, to me, is forcing a classroom to become a non-place (Bolter, 179). Education will become simultaneous with consumer culture, and we’re looking at a generation of kids who could have daily consumption taught to them as a meaningful, educational experience. If education gets in bed with corporations to this extent, we’re looking at a school system with the potential that teachers will only have access to the propaganda provided; will everything taught be a reflection of the best interests of the company, rather than the best interests of the student? It’s one thing to have school boards sign up with corporations to provide poor quality food that’s void of any nutrition value, but this?

For McDonalds to attempt to remediate the traditional apprenticeship programs to make its agenda seem altruistic and in the best interest of the mass, to me, is completely offensive. While I am aware that conventional education involving classroom settings and text books are not productive for everyone, and that hands on training and experience are key in giving students skills, this is just ridiculous. I am not appreciative of is the idea that the North American class room has the potential to become just another staple that could be seen anywhere in the world – a place with no relevance outside of its consumerist context -- a wonderful non-place where you can get your fries and education too.

Furthermore, let’s look at the definition of a “McJob:” “A job, usually in the retail or service sector, that is low paying, often temporary, and offers minimal or no benefits or opportunity for promotion” (http://www.answers.com/mcjob&r=67)

Yes, let’s encourage children to go towards this sort of work. Aim high kids, aim high!

With proposal of such a ludicrous curriculum in the works, I wasn’t at all surprised to find a blog article that described McDonald’s attempt last year to banish the current definition of the word “McJob”(http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/comm-oddities/2007/03/mcdonald
s_wants_a_break_today.html
).

If the McDonald’s corporation can make the word have friendly, inviting connotations, if they teach the children how to work for them, they’ll ensure that the McDonald’s corporation will continue their legacy of tasty French fries and Justin Timberlake jingled commercials for the future generation that will have no choice but to work for them. And with a little time and encouragement, the future McDonald’s staff will be loving it.

Bolter, J. David and Richard Grusin. Remediation. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999.

“History, calculus and McDonald's? Chain to serve up high school credits.” CBC.ca. 28
Jauary 2008.
http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2008/01/28/mcdonalds-credits.html

"McDonald's wants a break today: 'McJob' definition must go.” Comm-odities. 22 March2007. 28 January,
2008.
<http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/commoddities
/2007/03/mcdonalds_wants_a_break_today.html
>.

“McJob.” Answers.com. 28 January 2008. <http://www.answers.com/mcjob&r=67>

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

2: On a side note

I was reading the CBC website today, and I came across this: http://www.cbc.ca/arts/blog/sundance2008/

Bruce Labruce, the author of this blog, is actually from my home town. My small, fairly mediocre, sometimes homophobic town. We went to the same high school – years apart of course. I believe he graduated around the same time my mother did.

While I’ve never seen Bruce Labruce’s work, I’m all about promoting home town success stories – especially the unconventional ones. I ooze excitement every time I hear about him in any sort of media outlet, because I feel like on some small, insignificant level we have something in common. He’s my claim to fame in the six degrees of separation.

But I’ll try to relate this to media, so it’s at least a little relevant.

In the few short postings Labruce has written, he’s mentioned several times his distaste for the Hollywood take over of the Sundance film festival, to which he is premiering his new film.

I think it’s a really interesting comment on an organization that has stood as a tastemaker for so many years. The idea that those who submit to the festival see it as becoming kitsch and slowly morphing into an irrelevant piece of pop culture stands to me as an excellent example of a subculture being penetrated by the dominate one, becoming re-appropriated and turning into a part of the mainstream culture. Just like the Ipod subculture inevitably ended, as Ian had mentioned in class on Monday night, so is this one. I found it really intriguing to see the process of this happening and the reactions from someone within the community to this process.

So check out his blog. I can’t comment on the merits of his work in film, but his writing is fairly entertaining and I enjoyed his commentary on the Sundance film festival.



Labruce, Bruce. "Sundance 2008 blog." CBC.Ca. .

1

I am a pop culture junkie. And I readily admit this.

My media consumption really revolves around my love for what's current. Since I started University and gained access to high speed internet, paired with a sporadic class schedule, more of my spare time has been filled with visits to trashy celebrity gossip websites, Facebook, and music blogs.

This, paired with the fact that I’m also quite the reality t.v. connoisseur and documentary fan, sums up a good chunk of my media consumption: If it’s about people, there’s a good chance I’ll watch it. If there is something intriguing, something different about what is being portrayed, I’ll probably be a fan of it. When we started talking about the cultural significance of t.v. shows like the Trailer Park Boys tonight in class, it got me thinking about my fondness for the show and why this might be.

The Trailer Park Boys really coincide with my love of reality t.v. and general voyeurism that comes with this type of media. With the wild popularity of reality television, it’s no wonder that scripted television shows have remediated to incorporate the elements of these depictions of “reality” that works to draws audiences in. The show is very immediate at times, as the “footage” is shot documentary style to invite the audience into the goings on, and gives the viewer the “fly on the wall” angle, a way to be a part of the show, without the ability to interact or manipulate any of the situations at hand, much like reality television. And, like Andrew mentioned tonight in his part of his group’s presentation tonight, The Trailer Park Boys often deviates from this view and reminds the viewer of the media at hand: Ricky swearing at the camera crew, dropped cameras after explosions, etc, which Andrew had noted in movies like the Blair Witch Project. The general tone that I am given after being a fan of the show for several years now is parody of the “white trash" stereotype. It’s an extreme, over exaggerated version of what it’s like to be poor, lower class, all while trying to make a quick buck.

But the Trailer Park Boys really take the idea of the pseudo reality television program and taken it a step closer to reality television, by appearing on legitimate news and pop culture t.v. shows like CBC’s The Hour, and remaining in character for interviews*. There is no indication that they are fictional characters, or that they are part of a larger “mockumentary.” The interview proceeds as any other would. While it adds to the intimacy of the show between the viewer and the characters, not unlike the “real” people portrayed on legitimate reality television, this type of portrayal made me think about representation. If the only images of lower class that the particular demographic of The Hour are exposed to are characters who are playing up an extreme stereotype, does then the Trailer Park Boys become less of a parody and more of a representative agent? And if so, does the image portrayed become more about cultural representation and less about entertainment and parody?

*Interview can be found at: http://www.cbc.ca/thehour/video.php?id=1478