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. :

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” (

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”(

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.” 28
Jauary 2008.

"McDonald's wants a break today: 'McJob' definition must go.” Comm-odities. 22 March2007. 28 January,

“McJob.” 28 January 2008. <>

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

2: On a side note

I was reading the CBC website today, and I came across this:

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. .


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: