Thursday, April 3, 2008

Back in Jack: Final Self Reflexive Posting

I figured the Fight Club theme was excellent in keeping with what I have come to learn this semester. It seems there are still the warring Tyler and Jack inside me, as well as inside all of us as media consumers, and thankfully I’ve become a bit more Tyler than Jack, yet Jack still remains as a representative of the impulsive mainstream.
Tyler on Rugby and Parody – Culture Jamming/Subvertising?
Yes, indeed we did learn about the wonders of culture jamming and subvertising. At the time of this posting I had not yet read the material assigned during our last weeks of class on subvertising, so I was unaware that what I posted also related to subvertising. If you look back to that post (titled, ‘For the Love of Rugby’) you see a variety of images endorsing image by bashing other teams (of course as an England supporter I also endorse this). By beating the competition to a bloody pulp in ridicule, the creators of these images have engaged in a form of subvertising. My inner Tyler was impressed that these images had a seemingly greater depth than the less creative French, Aussie and Kiwi supporters could imagine.
Jack on Pranking Rhetoric and Culture Jamming
For this you will need to turn to the post titled, ‘You Had Me at Kerouac’. The Jack in me gave in to clever naming of products, and the subvertising on topics such as smoking and how Hitler wore khaki’s weren’t enough to sway my impulse and easy sell. Hence, I am Jack’s utter disappointment, or rather, I am Jack’s full stomach; fed by clever fashion advertising.

I believe these two takes are the most important I have made since my first evaluation, and although I could go on at length about the other postings I have made since then, I feel it necessary to take a stance for Jack and discuss a sort of catharsis I had whi9lst reading/listening to some rap the other day on the bus. Tyler would not be impressed.
Remember this mug? Maybe not, a fresh talent from Harlem, talented basketballer turned rapper turned pastor and then back to rapper. Mase, perhaps one of the hottest East Coast names in the 1990’s. The thing I realized about Mase and the majority of rap for that matter is that it’s Jack’s ideals to the core. Why? Read the lyrics below and I will tell you.
Yo, what you know about goin' out
Head west, red Lex, TV's all up in the headrest
Try and live it up
Ride true, a bigger truck
Peeps all glittered up
Stick up can, they go what?
Jig wit it cuz ship crisp, split it all
- Mase, “Feel So Good”

Coming from very little, as an African American youth in predominantly poor, black Harlem, it’s no wonder Mase is proud of his accomplishments and the money that comes with it. Riding in a Red Lexus with TV’s in the head rest, the search for a bigger truck, your peeps all glittered up (referring to being ‘iced out’ or decked to the nines in diamonds) and dividing your wealth amongst your friends seems to be the message purveyed by rap. The reason I decided to discuss this is because it’s totally Jack. The constant search for more more more, having the nicest things and being up to date on fashion, trends, etc. is exactly what society encourages us to do through the advertising, etc. we have looked in depth at this semester.
In keeping with the theme of ‘rags to riches’ and the possibilities of having money, I turned to John Steinbeck. In his short novel, The Pearl, Steinbeck writes, “For it is said that humans are never satisfied, that you give them one thing and they want something more. And this is said in disparagement, whereas it is one of the greatest talents the species has and one that has made it superior to animals that are satisfied with what they have.” (Steinbeck 32)

It would be nice to revert to the animalistic revolution Tyler suggests and accomplishes in Fight Club; however Steinbeck seems to encapsulate the pure nature and drive of our species in this passage. Yet, we as human beings are constantly driven - as Mase quite obviously is in his songs – on a quest to complete ourselves and fill the void with the cars we drive, our khakis, our grande lattes, bank accounts, Swedish furniture and the rest.

As a result, I learned that although it would be nice to pull a Tyler and erase the credit history to zero, our species is condemned to always having a bit of Jack floating in the backs of our minds and I think this course has helped push me to make this discovery. A valuable thing I feel I have gained from this course is that I’ve become a bit more Tyler and hope to keep with this blog and posting new information so that other’s can gain the same knowledge I have, break away from the mainstream and learn to critically analyze the media we consume.

In regards to my previous posting regarding ‘A vision of students today’, I have decided to drop my second major in Sociology because it seems useless and redundant. I will be sticking with English though, because it is useful and interesting and provides me with different perspectives on the world through the eyes of other’s stories and narration. This course has helped inspire me to seek out valuable knowledge, not useless common knowledge.
I plan to use the summer reading list Ian offered in class for some more blogging material and with any luck I can keep up to date with prevalent media issues and topics. I’m quite glad I’ve become such an active participant and scholar of media, for I feel this is perhaps one of the most valuable assets students today can have.
Works Cited
Fight Club. Dir. David Fincher. Perf. Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter. Art Linson Productions, 1999.
Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1996.
Steinbeck, John. The Pearl. New York: Bantam Books, 1945.

My Vision of Universities Today

The video below seems to express the tensions felt by many students today. As we sit through classes we are constantly googling, wikipediaing, facebooking, instant messaging, texting on cell phones, catching up on readings we are behind in, listening to music and various other things taking away from our education.

Why is this? The answer is because we as students in the 21st Century live in an extremely hypermediated world. Research, as well as this video both voice this. Consider the fact that one female in this video writes 42 pages of text for class, contrasted with 500 pages of email. The email figure is skewed when you consider what context this is in. 500 pages for school related emailing only is what I am thinking. When you couple this with emails regarding weekending, instant messaging conversations, facebook postings and text messaging we as students write well over 5000 pages per year worth of material.

One girl states, ‘I am a multi-tasker, I have to be.’ This holds quite true for students in any program. Considering the amount of readings we are stockpiled with, the various assignments, trying to keep up with hobbies, athletics, music, fashion, film, as well as have a small social life, it’s a wonder there isn’t such a thing as a ‘mid 20’s crisis’.

One of the figures in this video is that we read 49% of the readings assigned to us. As a student this does not astonish me at all, but it should astonish many others not thoroughly involved in the education system. That is slightly less than half of what we are required to do, perhaps this is because 17% of what we read applies to our lives. Being that this course encourages us as consumers of media to engage with and critically analyze media, I think this makes up for at least 10% of what I’ve read this entire year. Being a double major in English and Sociology, half of what I read has nothing to do with my life (being the sociology part). The material seems redundant to me in the fact that I can no longer go on learning of job inequalities. I undertook a sociology degree because it was good job training for the labour market, however the material is such common knowledge I feel half the people at the university with common sense should be awarded a Sociology degree. An example of how redundant the material is would be exam questions asking you whether or not racial minorities have a harder time finding housing than white middle class, or whether there are gender inequalities in the labour market.

Do you now see how pointless some of what we are learning is? I didn’t have to open my text book the whole semester for exams like that, hence why I have 100 dollar texts I have never and will never read, I could have answered those questions at 14. Although I am proud of my good common sense, I find it pathetic that I pay $5,600 dollars a year in tuition, and can take a serial murder course I haven’t read any material for and score an 80 on the first midterm and 68 on the second. Perhaps if there were more courses like this media course at Guelph people would actually get a valuable degree instead of a piece of paper that seems to merely state they are not complete idiots.

My hope for future students is that there is a greater focus on media awareness and less focus on redundant pointless information that either goes in one ear and out the other or we already know.

A Vision of Students Today

Monday, March 31, 2008

Me the Citizen Reporter? Response to Readings

I found Danny Schechter’s The Death of Media quite interesting. What struck me as most interesting and relevant to this course was Schechter’s take on citizen reporting. As soon as I read this short passage I realized the effect of what we have strived to achieve all semester and the outcome we could have on the community.

Schechter writes, “Increasingly, news consumers want to participate in our media, not just be passive recipients of its output. Concepts like citizen journalism are now on the agenda. Blogging is more popular than ever. The idea of being the media, not just watching or listening to it, is finding many supporters. The by-products of this movement are more visible and influential than ever before” (Schechter 140)

One of the by-products of which Schechter speaks is this blog. Our entire class’s blogs. I find this astounding, and am quite glad and would like to congratulate Ian on engaging us more with what we consume as media consumers, and also what we are putting out there. The idea of citizen journalism is, to me, so fascinating because it allows us to throw our own two cents in. No more will we sit back and listen to the same old garbage. We may now draw upon someone else’s thoughts, research what we want to avidly participate in and voice our own opinions, because we, both as consumers and amateur journalists, know that somewhere out there we will strike a chord with someone else.

I never thought about this before, but on Facebook I’ve subscribed to an England Rugby Fan club. In order to upgrade and progress through the ranks you must send invites, start fake brawls with rival fans, cheer your team on and post news. The beauty of posting news is that you choose what is important and others rank it and bump the story if it is important. Perhaps the most useful gimmick, though, is the fact that when you post a story you can add a summary or abstract of what is being said in the news article. I pull these articles mostly off or and get to voice my opinion on them. Being that I was quite angered over Jonny Wilkinson being benched during the final 6 Nations match of the tournament vs. Ireland and promising young star Danny Cipriani was handed his position, I raved on and on about how bad a decision this was. Yes, they won the Ireland game with Cipriani standing in, but just because the icon and golden boy of English Rugby screws up a game that results in a loss to the Scottish doesn’t mean he’s lost his thunder.The rapid progress of citizen journalism allowed me to voice my opinion to fellow fans who also shared the same belief despite an excellent debut start from Cipriani, and it is because of this I hold citizen journalism in such high regard. If the article is still kicking about on the fan page, add me to Facebook and scope it if you are interested. It’s Andrew Pritchard, U of G class of 2010, BA Honours English and Sociology.

Later in the passage about citizen journalism, Schechter writes, “The ‘Blogosphere’ gained new prominence and wider acceptance as a new breed of citizen Web publishers supplemented, and sometimes surpassed, mainstream print and broadcast news outlets in a variety of contexts” (Schechter 142) I find this quite easy to believe in all actuality. Considering how bland some find most news stories, its no wonder people would rather read citizen news than that handed down to us for media corporations. This was there is no advertising besides whatever is chosen to be advertised on our blog pages, no ulterior motive behind our writings. There is also no need to beat around the bush, to be politically correct. Not that I am in any way endorsing religious, gender or race based discrimination, but sometimes things sound a bit more emphatic coming from someone who doesn’t repeatedly edit their work as not to offend. I see great potential for news in this aspect, free flowing news, uncensored by corporations.

However, the last quote does pose problems. As I read in one of the course’s later required readings, blogger’s are able to overrun Google to have their opinions voiced, such as the example of petitioning against fast food chains, ‘McGrease’ and ‘Fourbucks’. I commend these bloggers for their organization and activity, but what would happen if organizations like the KKK or neo-nazis got hold of this and flooded the internet with their racist propaganda? It would be absolute mayhem! Needless to say, I have faith that the masses would wisely choose to ignore this garbage, however, some people have weak minds and a need for a sense of belonging to a cause, and I’m sure they could sway at least a few people with their ludicrous and disgusting ideals.

Works Cited

Schechter, Danny. "The Death of Media and the Fight to Save Democracy". Hoboken: Melville House, 2005.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I Recommend Thinking Before Buying: Response to Class Discussion

Following our group presentation on January 21st lots of class discussion was generated. I believe it was Felicia who touched on the topic of ‘Chapter’s Recommends’. As I don’t do a good deal of shopping on and tend to buy my books in store, I figured I would build on this using Amazon and HMV’s online websites.

I once bought a Frank Miller graphic novel on Amazon (300, it still has my purchase history after all), so now every time I visit the site it has recommendations for me to purchase other Frank Miller titles as well as other comics in and around the same genre. I find this gimmick both amazing and annoying.

On one hand, for people that are time starved it is great. With a lot less effort you’re able to find products that suit your interests. If you purchase Christmas or Birthday gifts from these sites it works to your advantage because it provides you with things that may also be in your loved ones interests. Just for kicks I purchased the box set of the television show ‘Dexter’ season one. With no surprise I was recommended to buy the books (which I already have borrowed from a friend). Also, I had a recommendation for the box set of the television show ‘Weeds’. I found this kind of strange… a person who buys a serial killer TV show is then recommended to buy a TV show about a pot dealing mom? However, I was more than creeped out by this because I’ve also seen that show several times and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Is it that Amazon is grouping these titles in the same category and recommending them? I don’t think so. I think the answer lies in social statistics. Amazon, Chapters, whoever must be paying a social stats company to keep tabs on interests in mass media. My only rational explanation to the results I got from my Dexter purchase was that social stats most likely reveal fans of Dexter are in an age cohort somewhere between 16 and 30. This age cohort also tends to encompass a wide variety of people who smoke pot, or possess a sense of humour that would suit those watching Weeds as well as Dexter. When you think about it, these conglomerates have really done their homework on who’s buying what.

The massive downside to this type of shopping and recommending is when you get ‘shopaholics’ who want it all. My Dexter purchase came to roughly 35 dollars after shipping. But say my friend didn’t lend me the novels and I also wasn’t able to borrow Weeds. My inner consumerist kicks in and I hear a little voice on my right shoulder whispering, ‘you have a visa for a reason… impulse!’ I added the other recommended items to my cart, 3 books and 2 other fairly inexpensive boxed sets. Now my total is 121.09 (before shipping), roughly 4 times the amount I originally intended to spend. And it doesn’t end here. Now because I’ve added the other items I’m recommended Entourage season boxed sets, Kevin Smith books, a 250 dollar boxed set of the TV drama Six Feet Under, a couple of horror and comedy films, and the Riches season 1 boxed set. You set out to spend 35 bucks and here you could be about 1000 dollars later.

I find this whole concept interesting and convenient, however it’s awful for those that don’t know how to budget and/or act on impulse. Considering how much many the supposed social stats companies probably make off these corporations, I think they should be upping the ante when you think about how much these people are robbing consumers of their will to keep a fat wallet.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Nines and Invisible Interface: Response to Class Discussion

I dug a little deeper into the notes I had from earlier in the semester to give myself more of a push and more material for my blog. I encountered a little scribble I had relating a recently released movie, The Nines, starring Ryan Reynolds and it’s relation to transparency and invisible interface.

The film encompasses 3 short films that ultimately lead to an astonishing and profound revelation in the character’s life. Though there are different names used in each different story, and occupation and relationship to Ryan Reynolds changes, the other characters are ultimately catalysts for this sudden catharsis at the film’s conclusion.The first film centers around a hot shot celebrity actor who gets high on crack and accidentally burns down his Beverly Hills Mansion following a bitter breakup with his girlfriend. The second revolves around Reynolds as the writer of a popular TV drama and how he must cut his long time friend and the main character in the show and replace her with a slimmer better looking actress when told to do so by producers. The final film is Reynolds as ‘the god of video game developing’ who is on a hiking trip with his wife and daughter when he loses his cell phone signal and his car breaks down. He then encounters a strange woman walking along a country road that knocks him out and seduces him and then convinces him that he is actually God, the creator of all life on Earth. Unfortunately for Reynolds, he has spent the last eternity creating his paradise and filling it with life (the human race and all animals, plants, etc.) and has lost himself in the process. He has become addicted to creating and forgot that he was God.

I thought that this film was excellent in illustrating transparency and is actually the ultimate invisible interface. What other interfaces do you know of that allow the creator himself to lose himself for thousands of years at a time only to be rescued by one of his angelic counterparts? I know of one you can lose yourself for a few hours in which I will elaborate on later.

Quite ironically Reynolds is a video game developer in the last film. I think this is a ploy to make it easier for audiences to understand the deep concept of invisible interface. It also lead me to ask myself an odd question, ‘if God were human, would he create video games?’ The answer is yes. Video games are the closest thing we have to being God right now. Consider Harmonix’s Rock Band. You might not be God, but you have the talent to play the drums, sing, and play bass or guitar. You can also dress your rocker, cut and dye his/her hair, buy new equipment, download new songs not originally released with the game, etc. When you originally 'create a rocker' you are given options to change the physical appearance, style of your rocker (punk, metal, rock, alternative, etc.), his place of birth (London, Uk; Stockholm, Sweden; Boston, MA, etc.). This allows you to play God and recreate yourself, or someone entirely different as a rocker.

An even better example of the user as God is Halo 3. The ability to create maps allows you to create your own world. You can input gun pickups, grenade upgrades, turrets, vehicles, etc. where you see fit. Therefore, since you are the creator (God) you better hope no one knows your map better than you. This leads me to believe that the final film casts Reynolds as a video game developer because it helps viewers to better comprehend the concept of living and interacting in your own creation.

In conclusion, I highly recommend The Nines to anybody interested in these concepts. Due to the fact that Reynolds seems to be cast as God, I can say with confidence that creating and manipulating video game worlds such as in Rock Band and Halo 3 allows us as users to ‘play God’. Also, playing God with video game technology has allowed us to come ever closer to achieving complete invisible interface and transparency in media.
Works Cited
The Nines. Director John August. Performers Ryan Reynolds. Destination Films: 2007.

Wikipedia: Academic Source or Social Software? Response to Readings is probably one of the internet’s most informing sites in my personal opinion. Want to learn more about that new band you started downloading on your limewire? Perhaps they’re from the 80’s and don’t have a website. Or perhaps they’re website is useless and doesn’t feature information on how the band met, where they’re from. Maybe you want to learn about the myth of Atlantis. Just heard the name of a writer dropped in class and you’re wondering exactly what he/she has to offer? would be the website to check.

In their essay, ‘Oppostitional Politics and the Internet: A Critical/Reconstructive Approach’, Kahn and Kellner drop the wiki bomb by stating, “Beginning on January 15, 2001, the Wikipedia has quickly grown to include approximately 162,000 always-evolving articles in English (with over 138,000 in other languages) and the database grows with each passing day. With over 5,000 vigilant contributors worldwide creating, updating, and deleting information in the archive daily, the charge against wikis is that such unmoderated and asynchronous archives must descend into chaos and not information. However, as required by the growth of the project, so-called Wikipedians have gathered together and developed their own loose norms regarding what constitutes helpful and contributive actions on the site. Disagreements, which do occur, are settled online by Wikipedians as a whole in what resembles a form of virtualized Athenian democracy wherein all contributors have both a voice and vote.” (Kahn and Kellner)

As it is made clear, this is a highly valuable source of information. This is why I am somewhat shocked that the University has a policy (I’m unsure which departments it applies to) that this is not a reputable academic source. Who is to say that academics aren’t contributing to this online encyclopedia? With over 162,000 (ever growing) articles published and available to be cited, there is bound to be an academic in the mix. I believe the problem with this being used as an academic source may lie in misinformation. The fact that there are disagreements over information posted leads to it not being allowed for citation.However, consider the fact that information is always changing. To use a work of literature as an example, just imagine a user posts that (hypothetically) that Jean Paul Sartre’s work was influenced by Nietzsche. Elsewhere (in an academic journal we as students are allowed to cite) it may state this as well. But in a newer work (another academic journal for instance) it states he was influenced by Aristotle. Who’s to say both aren’t correct? Then wikipedia working with its ‘virtualized Athenian democracy’ works this out. My point here is that nobody is actually in the wrong here, both are right, or both are wrong. Yet, we are allowed to cite both these other sources but not wikipedia? That seems unrealistic to me as a student.

The academic problem with wikipedia seems to lie in the fact that it is more of a social source of information as Kahn and Kellner state, “Blogs and wikis are both emerging examples of the trend in Internet development towards “social software” that networks people around similar interests or other semantic connections.” (Kahn and Kellner)

Even in this academic article that seems very pro-wiki, the fact that blogs and wikis are called ‘social software’ is what works against wikipedia as a valuable source of information. Facebook and msn are also social softwares, and of course, universities aren’t going to allow you to cite wall posts and instant messages as reputable academic sources, no matter what their content. In conclusion, I find it unnerving that we as students cannot use this website as a source to cite from in coursework; however the website works against itself in defense of my argument. I would be all for petitioning to have added as an academic source, but due to the fact that it is grouped in the same software category as facebook, msn, ICQ, etc. it seems to have brought about its own downfall.

Works Cited

Kahn, Richard and Kellner, Douglas M. "Oppostitional Politics and the Internet: A Critical/Reconstructive Approach".

You Had Me At Kerouac: Response to Readings

I’ve been contemplating buying a pair of Nike Frees since they hit shelves. I don’t exactly know the dynamics of how they work, but since there is a relaxed sole the shoe helps build balance and leg muscle while walking – two vital things any athlete needs. The problem with them (being as I am fashion conscious) is that they’re a shoe predominantly for the gym. You’d look somewhat ridiculous wearing them to the bar, beach, or even on your friend’s patio in summer heat.In a recent ad I glanced at in Surfer magazine there were a pair of shoes boasting the same dynamics as the Free but in an ultra cool relaxed way that you could easily pull off wearing regardless of circumstance. They were aptly titled The Kerouac (after famous beat generation writer Jack Kerouac) and made by Sanuk Shoe Company.

I was immediately sold and have scoured skate/snowboard shops for them ever since with no success. When I read Christina Harold’s article “Pranking Rhetoric: ‘Culture Jamming’ as Media Activism” I immediately realized how easily I was sold off on a pair of shoes with a clever name.

Harold writes, “The Gap's infamous appropriation of the likenesses of counter-culture heroes Jack Kerouac and James Dean to sell khaki pants inspired a similar response from the adbusting community. To the Gap's claim that "Kerouac wore khakis," a group of Australian subvertisers responded with the likeness of another 20th century icon who wore khakis as well - Adolf Hitler. As such, Gap khakis were recoded as a means not to rugged individuality but genocidal totalitarianism - the conformist impulse writ large.” (Harold)

Once again as a consumer I have sold myself short just because an admired writer has had a shoe named after him that has absolutely nothing to do with him. I’m not familiar with the ad campaign that Harold writes of, and I’ve always worn khakis, but I would probably be tempted to pick up another pair now knowing film legend James Dean and writer extraordinaire Jack Kerouac wore them. The sad thing about Harold’s article and the Aussie subvertising campaign launched to ridicule khaki wearers everywhere by stating Hitler wore them too is that I just don’t care. I’m sure 95% of consumers don’t care… in fact; when I read that Hitler famously wore khakis I thought to myself, “Hitler was responsible for the deaths of millions of Jews, but at least he looked good doing it.” The same applies for the Kerouac shoe I’m so hard pressed to find. They’re probably manufactured in sweat shops in Thailand for all I know, but the fact remains for me and other consumers that they exist and are there to be bought.

The same applies to ad campaigns to counter smoking. I have smoked off and on since grade 8, and the first time I picked up a cigarette was because I wanted to be the rebel. I’d read a bit of Hemingway, everyone was always smoking, I’d seen a few James Dean movies, and I wanted to be a trailblazer just like them and become the first kid in class to smoke. You will also notice the Jack Kerouac picture at the top of the page depicts him smoking a cigarette as he contemplates something deep. As Harold states, “Smoking is what distinguishes you from the pack. It is what makes you a rebel.” (Harold) The desire to be the individual is what drives everyone in consumerism and that drive will always be there, there is no changing it. I’d seen antismoking ads prior to my first cigarette, I knew the risks, but I also knew while every other kid was eating their dunkaroos and salami sandwiches they’d say, “Guys check it out… Pritchard’s over behind the portables hacking down a dart. Whoa, he’s bad ass. I wanna be bad ass too. Let’s start smoking.”

In conclusion, while some may be swayed by pranking rhetoric and subvertising, the general public and consumer population is not so easily affected. I’ll still be buying my Kerouac’s regardless of how they’re made just because of a clever title. I still smoke from time to time no matter how many times I’ve visited or seen one of their ads. The desire for individuality just won’t be crushed by an ad campaign. Consumers are much more easily won over than anti campaigners may realize. Needless to say, if anti campaigners win over the few then good for them, some is better than none. I just hope I don’t get an anti-campaign launched against me when my Hemingway hiking boots with a lighter and bottle opener and corkscrew in the sole launch next fall.
Works Cited
Harold, Christine. "Pranking Rhetoric: 'Culture Jamming' as Media Activism." September 2004

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sex and Consumerism: Response to Readings

Heath and Potter’s article was quite informative to me and I really enjoyed Monday’s presentation on the article. I think it resonated so much with me because of the filmic referencing of Fight Club and American Beauty, and more importantly, because of the four tenets of capitalism/consumerism, particularly the third one.

Heath and Potter’s third tenet of capitalism/consumerism is as follows: “Capitalism requires sexual repression. In its drive to stamp out individuality, capitalism denies the full range of human expression, which includes sexual freedom. Because sexuality is erratic and unpredictable, it is a threat to the established order. This is why some people thought the sexual revolution would undermine capitalism.” (Heath & Potter) Although this statement is quite true in its analysis, I think that capitalism attempts to stamp out individuality by means of promoting individuality – which then sets a double standard. For example, consider the hundreds of ads for weight loss products, acne medications, axe deodorant spray, or anything else that has to do with making us as consumers most desirable in the bedroom. The good majority of these advertisements are aimed at the average Joe/Jane and promise to transform them into the few/the elite/ best in show by clearing up acne, shedding that belly fat, making you smell good, etc.

Heath and Potter also reference Naomi Klein’s No Logo and state: “Unfortunately for Klein, zoning changes in Toronto (changes that were part of a very enlightened and successful strategy to slow urban sprawl) allowed yuppies to buy their way into her neighbourhood. This led to an erosion of her social status.” (Heath and Potter) This illustrates my point brilliantly; due to the fact that the average people started buying into Klein’s neighbourhood, it abolished all interest in it because it became the norm instead of promoting Klein’s individuality.

This whole third tenet provides a bit of a double standard, consider the scene in Old School where Will Ferrell and his new wife talk about their sexual fears with a psychiatrist. Frank (Ferrell) says the other day he found himself looking at the waitress serving him and wondering what kind of panties she was wearing, “Chances are they’re just plain cotton panties. But maybe they’re silk. Maybe it’s a thong… maybe it’s something so cool I’ve never heard of it” (Old School) In the drive to stamp out individuality (the plain cotton panties), the consumer society has provided us with a wide range of alternatives: thongs, crotchless panties, g strings, etc. Does this not then mean more alternatives = more individuality? And does society not deem that individuality is sexy in modern society? By this example, it seems that Frank is more interested in the waitress if she is wearing something ‘so cool he hasn’t heard of it’, instead of the norm. Therefore we can conclude that in the drive to eliminate individuality and repress sexual desires, consumerism sets a double standard that reinforces both consumerism and individuality.

Works Cited

Heath and Potter - "The Rebel Sell"

Old School. Dir. Todd Phillips. Perf. Will Ferrell, Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughan.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Comics or Graphic Novels? Response to Class Discussion/ Readings

While listening to tonight’s class presentation on fake news and reading a graphic novel, “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi, I was able to draw a pretty clear parallel between the world of fake news and the graphic novel.

Having grown up reading comics, I’ve always held them in high regard as a way to communicate with an audience. I also respect the fake news because being in the demographic that fake news is targeted to it goes without saying that I am a consumer.

The Jeffrey Jones article states, “I argue that even though The Daily Show is a fake news show, its faux journalistic style allows the show’s writers and host to question, dispel, and critique the manipulative language and symbolizations coming from the presidential campaign while simultaneously opening up deeper truths about politics than that offered by the “objective” reporting of mainstream journalism” (Jones). As a consumer of fake news, I feel that this analysis is bang on. There is something about the black ties, suits and mahogany desks that alienate our generation from coming away from a CNN newscast with the vital information. With fake news, since it entertains us and catches our attention quickly, we are more likely to engage with it.

I felt this relates to my opinion on the graphic novel. Since people today are in such a rush, reading a full length novel is a hassle to most. However, since graphic novels advance reading through cutting description because images are displayed, it is quite time efficient. My view is that with an increased stress on time, the next generation will grow up reading more and more graphic novels. It seems to me that comics may not be just a children’s vice anymore, but a much more concise and clearer way of conveying things to the audience.

My other point regarding the graphic novel is that it captures an audience’s attention immediately with its illustrations. The illustrations seem to make reading more enjoyable and give reader’s something to look at while they read so it isn’t just word after word with entirely mental pictures. “Persepolis” is a novel about the Iranian revolution and a young woman’s childhood and transition to adulthood. To some, this may be boring if they had to read dates and facts about the revolution, however the images entice me as a reader and draw me in. Take a look at the images above… would you rather read a historical text about the revolution? Or gain your knowledge about the Iranian revolution through Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel? I know where I stand – with fake news and graphic novels, a product of the next generation of infotainment, with a finger in the air to the bland and boring.
Works Cited
Jones, Jeffrey P. " 'Fake' News versus 'Real' News as Sources of Political Information: The Daily Show and Postmodern Political Reality"
Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. Toronto: Pantheon, 2003.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

But He Has Bud Light

Labatt Blue commercial - It's the weekend

Guinness ad - Rugby World Cup 2007

Beer Me - Duncombe and Beer Advertising: Response to Reading

Beer – the world’s oldest and most popular alcoholic beverage. Most people can’t list the breweries in their country alone – especially in beer hot spots like Germany, The UK, The US and Canada because they are so plentiful. It goes without saying that beer ads are all over the place(usually with scantilly clad, sexy women helping to sell to the predominantly male buyers) , and beer conglomerates will spend millions if not billions in advertising to lure certain types of drinkers in. Being that I work at Canada’s third largest brewery, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at Duncombe’s chapter on advertising and how it translates to the beer industry.Of course, dissecting my own company’s ads could hurt buyers, which could then put me out of work, but we can take an in depth look at big players from Canada (John Labatt’s Blue), Ireland (Guinness) and The US (Budweiser). This will hopefully shed some light on the international beer scene.

In the opening pages of his chapter on advertising, Duncombe states, "ads make their pitch not to our heads but to our hearts (or anatomy a bit lower)"(Duncombe 79). By this Duncombe means that advertisers aim to pull consumers in by appealing to what means the most to them, whether its sport, weekend antics or sex. Consider the above ad with the Bud Light girl - "Life is good" boasts the ad. Bud Light is trying to convey to consumers that life is good when you consume their product, but also that sexy women drink their beer. What kind of drinker would buy this beer if the ad depicted an unattractive or average looking woman - very few. Drinkers want to consume the same products as beautiful people do in order to become beautiful, special, etc.

"All advertising is about transformation. The product advertised will transform you from what your are (incomplete, inadequate and thoroughly normal) into what you would like to be (fulfilled, successful and completely special)." (Duncombe 80) Both the Guinness and Labatt video advertisements above play on this principal. With the Guinness ad, Guinness tries to imply that by consuming their product the average Rugby viewer or Rugby player can be carried by their team through spirit and unity to glory on the pitch. However the Labatt's ad seems to work on many different plains with respect to this principal. The average joe, office workers, etc. are all shown coming out of their shells and becoming weekend warriors while drinking with friends. Blue is trying to promote their product by showing that the average joe transforms into a hooligan and can embody youth and exhuberance while drinking Labatt's. Although Labatt's shows these average people becoming fulfilled, the ad also works to show people who are already successful and fulfilled being transformed to the thoroughly normal. In this way, Labatt has made itself accessible to a much larger demographic than Guinness or Budweiser. It is important to note that Labatt's is domestic - meaning the price is neither cheap nor expensive but mid-range, and this advertising ploy helps to maintain the average drinker but also may draw in people who spend more money on imported beers, as well as those who spend less money on beer.

Individualizing advertisements is difficult for most advertisers, but where there is a will there is a way. Of individualizing the product, Duncombe writes, "It is natural for advertisers to address the individual. They want individual people to buy individual products, and their model world is composed of individual units in pursuit of self-gratification." (Duncombe 85) The Bud Light TV advertisement above helps to illustrate what Duncombe is referring to. The man hitchhiking with an axe and case of Bud Light is individualized, and picked up by the average joe and his girlfriend merely because he is a Bud Light drinker. Bud Light is attempting to say 'if you drink Bud Light - you're a good person" through this advertisement, which also plays on Duncombe's theory of transformation. However, this ad individualizes its drinkers by showing an axe weilding psycho, which leads me to believe it was probably aired around Halloween or on some horror movie network in order to grab the attention of people who are fascinated with horror. The Labatt Blue advertisement above also individualizes with the pictures of all different sorts of their drinkers and their weekend antics appearing before the 'Cheers to Friends' slogan. Guinness also plays upon this by directing their ad at Rugbyer's (please take note this ad was aired during the Rugby World Cup 2007 during match commercial breaks).
Works Cited

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

Thursday, February 14, 2008

For the Love of Rugby and Parody: Response to Class Discussion

For some, February is the month of ‘love’ being that the 14th is Valentines Day. However, since I was young February has also held a different type of importance to me. Never could I love a person as much as I love my sport – Rugby, a gentleman’s game enjoyed by ruffians and hooligans.

February marks the beginning of two very important tournaments in the sport – The Six Nations (comprised of England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Italy & France) as well as the Super 14 (a club tournament with 5 South African, 5 New Zealand and 4 Australian club teams). In keeping with our class discussion of fake news, irony and parody within the media I came across a wide array of images and articles relating to these three topics. Of course, what better way to spread Valentines love with the help of Rugby and fake news?

Being that my heritage is English it goes against the grain of my nature to promote such garbage teams as France and hopefully you will forgive me for being biased because of my pride. The images I found were generated after England won the Webb Ellis (the sport’s most important trophy/ the World Cup) in 2003 by defeating Australia in overtime in Sydney, Australia. Below are some ironic images England used post-World Cup to assert their new status as World Champions. My particular favourite is the Sydney Opera House with St. George's flag and the English Rose slapped across it.

In the 2007 World Cup, England went in as the massive underdog, with Ireland and South Africa looking extremely strong and in beautiful form. That’s not to say the English didn’t have their fun with parody and propaganda to promote their way through the tournament. Perhaps their fun loving nature depicted by the images below was what motivated them to a final with heavy favourites South Africa Springboks. Please take note; we did beat Australia in quarter finals, with several depressed Aussie having to be assisted by mates to the help lines below. Also, the dominant hand of English Rugby squashed French hopes in semi-finals (on their own soil nonetheless, being as RWC 2007 was held in France), much like a dirty Englishmen squishing a frog in his hand (sorry if this is culturally offensive to French readers).

A final with the South Africans was set and England had left all other teams in utter disbelief because of their weak pool play. But things had turned around lately for English fans with their surprising big wins over Rugby giants France (for a 'spoof' pre-match assessment see article 3 below) and Australia. A close game, some poor refereeing and some stupid penalties on England’s part helped the South Africans hoist the Webb Ellis on the 20th of October 2007. However, the following day vital information disallowing South Africa the cup was discovered (please see links below for full articles.)

"The South African team were boarding their Apartheid Airlines flight for their triumphant journey home when the story broke and French Air Traffic controllers refused to give the aircraft clearance for take off.

After armed Gendarmes boarded the plane and arrested full back Percy Montgomery the World Cup was seized and tagged as stolen property, the
Springboks were taken from the aircraft in disgrace, Habana was close to tears,"I just cant believe it! They said if we won they would let me sit on a seat on the way home and even have some food."A Rugby World Cup Attorney confirmed this afternoon that Montgomery had been found to be ineligible because he is under contract to Steven Spielberg's Production company, Dreamworks and has been cast as Prince Charming in the next 39 Shrek Films." (see link 1 for full article)

If only this were true, I would be one happy Englishman. However, after reading this article I had a good chuckle and realized there is always 2011 to bring the cup back to England. also had another interesting article regarding English Rugby. On February 2nd, 2008, England opened their Six Nations campaign against Wales at Twickenham (their home field in London). Being that Wales hadn’t won at Twickenham in roughly 25 years, I was relatively disappointed when they beat England. Since England’s national soccer team haven’t won a FIFA World Cup since 1966, and have grown even worse since the appearance of the notorious ‘David Beckham’, I found article relieving. At least someone could make light of the current state of British sport.

The English rugby team has found itself in hot water with the government's watchdog for mediocrity. The Council for Underperformance in National Teams has launched an investigation into how the England XV nearly won at Twickenham yesterday.The unfortunately acronymed Council made the following statement: "We are pleased at how poorly the England Football and Cricket teams have been playing recently, and the results have enabled England to maintain its worldwide reputation for being perennial losers. We were apalled at the dominant position the England rugby team had achieved after forty minutes. Praise should go to Brian Ashton whose team talk at half time did the trick and allowed Wales to beat us." - (see link 2 for full article)

I hope my exploration of parody and Rugby was entertaining. If I had of had the time to throw together a proper thesis for this piece it probably would have read something like ‘my essay will attempt to prove that a) parody is useful to relieve tension and make light of situations and b) by some miracle of God, Rugby players are now able not only to lay big hits and consume alcohol in vast quantities, but scientists have discovered they are now trying to associated with other human beings by attempting speech and the most advanced specimens studied can even joke and parody things.


Article 1 -
Article 2 -
Article 3 -

Other Rugby Spoofs:

Monday, January 21, 2008

Welcome To Fight Club - What I've Learned So Far: Self Reflexive Post

Fight Club (1999) – Probably one of the more important films in the past decade. The reason Fight Club is appearing in a self reflexive post is because that is what I feel the past three weeks has become.

When out for drinks with my friend the other night we got to talking about film as we usually do and our on-going debate of whether to get with Blu Ray or HD, and why both of these were even invented became a sort of catharsis for me. As Jack would say, ‘And there they were… Bolter and Grusin’s words coming from my mouth’. My new knowledge of remediation helped me better understand why there is suddenly this new craze for Blu Ray and HD – because the technology has been remediated and thus become the new and improved DVD, just as DVD replaced VHS. Ian also furthered these ideas with his discussion of CD player to Mini Disc to Ipod.

Jack: ...Consumers?
Tyler Durden: Right. We are consumers. We're the bi-products of a lifestyle obsession.

There you have it – this is the answer to whether or not my friend and I will get with the times and pick up a Blu Ray or HD DVD player. The answer is quite obviously yes, we will both end up purchasing these because we are indeed consumers with a lifestyle obsession burned into our minds because we live in a capitalist society and media has constantly reinforced this over our 20 years. The thing that aggravates me the most is how right my friend was in saying, "I could buy The Exorcist, The Godfather, Fight Club, American Psycho and every other film essential to a good library on five or six different formats throughout the course of my life." Entire media libraries, built up over a few years until the latest and greatest comes along - just when you thought you were finally complete. It would be nice to throw it all away and ‘lose everything so that we are free to do anything’ like Tyler, but let’s face it – this is the way it is. ‘The things I own have ended up owning me’ just as Tyler warns Jack in the film, and I have become my MP3 player, my Xbox 360, my Dell desktop, my Lexmark printer, my flat screen HD TV and will eventually become my Blu Ray or HD DVD player.

My point with all the Fight Club examples is that I have become a hell of a lot more media conscious in the past three weeks, and this is just by reading one text and engaging here and there in class discussion. The biggest thing that I feel has contributed to my new awareness as a consumer of media is this blog. By placing me in front of my computer and asking me to think critically and interpret the things projected to me by media every day, I feel I have learned a great deal more than I would just sitting in class writing notes. This also allows for me to put a piece of myself into each post I write, which makes things a great deal easier than having a strict outline before me. Lastly, the group presentation helped me learn a great deal about my learning style. In my past year and a half at University of Guelph I have never got together with group members to work on a presentation, and I have had my fair share being in a good deal of English seminars. Getting together with the group members helped me realize I get a lot more accomplished on my own – not that their input wasn’t exceptional – I just feel that by working on my own I can set and monitor my own work habits which is easier for me.

Thanks to this course I am quickly becoming Jack’s media conscious consumer.

Works Cited

Fight Club. Dir. David Fincher. Perf. Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter. Art Linson Productions, 1999.

Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1996.

The Transparency of First Person Shooters: Response to Class Discussion

The group presentation tonight seemed to generate a great deal of discussion, much of which was of great interest to me. A considerable amount of questions were raised about the concept of transparency in film, and the possibility of a film being completely transparent. The best examples of this from classmates were Maya’s interest in the films of Michael Winterbottom, and Dewey’s interest in Trailer Park Boys.

The Winterbottom films are quite close to complete transparency, in that in The Road To Guantanamo (2006), In This World (2002) and 24 Hour Party People (2002) all make you feel like you are actually involved in the plot. Winterbottom has a real knack for making the audience feel like you are right next to the character through the use of night vision camera work and the majority of the film being shot in hand held. Trailer Park Boys also does this with the interviews with characters, the use of hand held, and the feeling of a documentary style film.

However, both of these are quite immersive in their own right, but after listening to all the examples and presenting some myself, I couldn’t help but realize they can’t even come close to offering the transparency of a video game. To get down to specifics, the first person shooter is the closest we have come to a transparent medium.

To start from the beginning, in 1999, Irrational Games created System Shock 2 for the Sega Dreamcast. The game appears on numerous ‘Best Games of All Time’ list, and takes place in the future on board a spaceship. The interface (shown below) is quite complicated. Just from looking at it, it isn’t hard to see how frustrating operating such a massive interface to switch weapons, reload, etc. would be. It is interesting that Irrational’s next success was a game set in 1961 in an underwater dystopian society much like Atlantis.

At some point, Irrational Games became 2K Game’s, and they created Bioshock (2007). With Bioshock, gamers receive the latest in transparency and interface design (or lack thereof). There is a screenshot from Bioshock below. When walking through levels, all that is displayed on the screen is health, eve (the supply of special abilities which diminishes each time used) and what type of plasmid (special ability) or weapon is currently drawn (ammo appears when guns are drawn). For the Xbox 360, you must press RB or LB in order to cycle through the plasmids/weapons available to you, at which point the game pauses and an interface pops up for gamers to select from. This revolutionizes game play and makes everything less cluttered, easier to operate and much more transparent. Just compare the two screenshots below and it isn’t difficult to see which game you’d rather be playing.

In short, as time goes on, games become much more transparent. The reason video games are becoming more transparent than film is because they are interactive. Film may place you directly beside a character as with the Winterbottom films or Trailer Park Boys, but you can’t reach out and touch them. Video games bring us that much closer to transparency, specifically with interfaces disappearing. When you talk to someone about a film, you may say ‘remember the scene where so and so shot that guy?’ However, when discussing a game, it is easy to catch yourself saying, ‘I finally killed that guy!’ The high level of interaction in a video game allows for users to lose themselves much more easily, and brings us that much closer to complete transparency of the medium.

The Matrix: Gospel of Remediation? Response to Class Discussion

Just the brief preview of Strange Days from January 14th’s class was quite enticing. However, this called to mind the topic of the outdated textbook once again. Since I covered the film aspect in our group’s presentation, I thought of what would have happened if the book was published a few years later with the Matrix trilogy being released shortly after this text was. I don’t think Strange Days would have been made mention of at all; the living, breathing VR world of Morpheus and Neo probably would have gripped these authors much more so than the other film.

Not only did the Matrix trilogy boast the latest and greatest special effects, it also delved into the possibility of artificial intelligence and the repercussions of rapid technological advancement, as well as providing an astounding metaphor/juxtaposition for our dependence on media and technology. The metaphor/juxtaposition of which I speak in the Matrix is that the machines harvest humans as form of energy and nourishment and we feed into a world they conceptualize for us in order for mankind to remain docile. I also found it interesting that Entertainment Weekly called The Matrix, “the best science fiction piece of media in the past 25 years.” (see link to wikipedia article below) This is a very bold statement considering media encompasses not just film, but video games, television, books, graphic novels, and everything else.

Writer/Director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Pi, The Fountain) whom I hold in high regard for being such a prolific director, also comments, “I walked out of The Matrix and I was thinking, ‘What kind of science fiction movie can people make now?’ The Wachowskis basically took all the great sci-fi ideas of the 20th century and rolled them into a delicious pop culture sandwich that everyone on the planet devoured.” (see wikipedia link) This is perhaps the greatest encapsulation of my thoughts on the trilogy. Many people see the trilogy as too sci-fi for them, but I believe it was a profound and important trilogy as well as a milestone of achievement in film. Aronofsky’s comment is dead on, but can be taken much further, the film is not really a ‘pop culture sandwich’, but more of a house of mirrors reflecting ideas of media phenomena upon one another, contrasting them and warping them. This film speaks much more to remediation, hypermediacy, and transparent immediacy than anything else I can possibly think of, it not only reflects science fiction but how far we have come as a society technologically, ideologically and spiritually.

Works Cited

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Seminar Presentation Handout

Below is the handout I distributed for my section of my seminar presentation on Bolter and Grusin's Remediation.

THST 2450 Presentation: Remediation & Film
Presented by Andrew Pritchard

Animated Film
In keeping with the theme of the old vs. the new, the animated film is slightly complicated.
“Animated films remediate computer graphics by suggesting that the traditional film can survive and prosper through the incorporation of digital visual technology” (Bolter and Grusin 147)
Consider the example – these shorts are simple to make now vs. difficult before because animated film remediates computer technology and lives on
The short also refashions a literary/film classic and satirizes it

Transparency in Film
“Avant-garde film has always been hypermediated, in the sense that it has always made the user conscious of itself as a medium.” (Bolter and Grusin 154)
Sin City (2005) is a prime example of this – consider how the director makes the audience conscious of film as art, a return to Black and White cinema, computer graphics and editing to give the film the feel of a graphic novel, the use of colour as symbolism (the woman in the red dress at the beginning, her blue eyes, the yellow bastard)
In Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994), the director employs the use of a hand held camera to follow the drug dealer out of his house and onto the lawn during Mia Wallace’s overdose fiasco. This is a prime example of transparency in film because the handheld camera gives the audience the sense that they are actually there following behind the drug dealer, Tarantino does not want the audience to be aware of the medium during this scene
Cloverfield (2008) is also a good example of transparency in film – even though the director makes audiences aware of the medium, the way in which the film is shot entirely in handheld with no music allows the audience to engage more with the film because it seems much more transparent than other films
Transparency in film means placing the audience in the film without an awareness of the medium – they must feel like a bird flying into a window

Remediation & Film
Our classics – how many times can we remake films based on Jane Austen novels (more importantly WHY?) Rocky, Rambo, superhero films being remade
Rotoscoping – creating a matte (combining multiple images into one) for live action films. This technique has been used recently in Richard Linklater films (Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly), however it isn’t new – it was also used in the 1978 Lord of the Rings, therefore it has been remediated
The Matrix (1999) remediated special effects for the time, but more importantly it remediated and compacted sci-fi theory of the past 25 years – see my blog for further details

Works Cited
Bolter, Jay David and Grusin, Richard. Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Video Bars

I have now customized my blog page a bit and added two video bars. One is at the sidebar, and is linked to youtube searching videos from '', a funny site that is a prime example of remediation that I could possibly use during my presentation. These clips efface remediation because it shows that we have now remediated enough to make accessible the tools to make film cost effective for regular people, and therefore change the endings to our favourite movies as this person has done. Also, it shows how animation is remediated in film, because since film is the remediation of photo graphic image, and photo graphic image is the remediation of renaissance art. There is also a video bar at the bottom of the page displaying Trailer Park Boys clips. SOME MAY FIND THESE OFFENSIVE. My apologies, but I felt there was no need to not include them seeing as we are all adults. A lengthy explanation of why these posts are here is included in my response to class discussion dated January 18th, 2008.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Hegemony of the Trailer Park Boys: Response to Class Discussion

Luckily I jotted down a few notes on Monday’s class because I seem to have forgotten almost everything that was running through my head that day. I found this hard to believe since I’ve generated so many interesting ideas on my term paper, my group presentation and to blog about for the next few weeks.

The clip from Strange Days got me thinking about too many other filmic references so I decided to post about that tomorrow in my self reflexive post about everything I have realized and researched for my seminar presentation.

We discussed hegemony, which is something I am quite interested in, since I feel that we in Canada have a lack of hegemony, being that America’s hegemonies are forced more on us than anywhere else seeing as we are the loyal neighbours to the North. We as Canadians are a bit cheeky in our satirizing of American culture, specifically when considering Canadian television programmes such as the ‘Rick Mercer Report’.

What I was most interested in during this class was the concept of using media as a foundation to explore other avenues. The two examples I have in my notes for this are South Park as an example of racial discourse and The Simpson’s as parody.

Although I could write for hours on both these subjects being an avid fan of both series, I think a better example would be Trailer Park Boys as the embodiment of Canadian humour, culture and hegemony.

Trailer Park Boys is set in a Dartmouth, Nova Scotia trailer park and follows the daily lives of small time crooks Ricky, Julian, Bubbles and many others. There are many examples of how TPB is the embodiment of our nation’s humour, however I think the three most important examples for reflecting this are ‘Rickyisms’, the character J-Roc, and one of the boy’s notorious crimes.

‘Rickyism’s’ are a type of colloquialism used by one of the show’s main characters named Ricky (see youtube link below for some laughs). A Rickyism involves Ricky imitating informal speech, brutalizing figures of speech, etc. An example of a Rickyisms would be Ricky’s idea of robbing an ATM to pay for going on a cruise (‘getting two birds stoned with one joint’ – a misunderstanding for killing two birds with one stone). Perhaps even more memorable is Ricky asking for a bag of jalapeno chips, which Bubbles corrects him on ‘haaaaaalllapennnooo, the j is silent’ to which Ricky replies, ‘I know how to pronounce it, I order jalapeno, not halapeno’. Rickyisms are a prime example of Canadian humour because in order to understand a Rickyism, one must have excellent knowledge of our language’s sayings and proverbs and see the humour in Ricky misconstruing every one the show’s writers can think up.

J-Roc is definitely a breed apart from other television show characters, but not out of place on TPB. Religious viewers of the show can make the connection from a Christmas special in which ‘Jamie’, a white, well-meaning kid from the trailer park smokes marijuana for the first time with his African-Canadian counter part Tyrone and they then become the rap duo T and J-Roc. J-Roc functions in the show as a Canadian parody of white American youth embracing hip hop, such as Eminem. This allows for Canadians to see the laughability of a white male in a trailer park pretending to be a gangster from the slums of Los Angeles or New York, and in turn have a laugh at the expense of America’s newest craze.

Finally, the wild and laughable schemes Ricky, Julian and Bubbles think up could earn them a spot on America’s Most Wanted blooper reel. I’ve included a link to the TPB movie trailer, in which the boy’s botch an ATM robbery and then commit ‘The Big Dirty’. The Big Dirty is the crime to end all crimes, a crime that can allow a criminal to retire and never have to return to jail. In the film, Julian speaks with another criminal who says he has the perfect crime, ‘change’. Julian replies, ‘Naw man, I can’t change, I’m a career criminal.’ But of course, only a Nova Scotian prison would possess a criminal with aspirations of stealing a giant gumball machine full of change (because, of course, unlike marked bills, change is untraceable). These ridiculous and hilarious crimes are another example of Canadian hegemonic humour – we are laid back and willing to let our minds roam free in order for a good laugh, we find hilarity in stupidity and absurdity and this is what sets us apart as a nation.

Works Cited

Rickyisms -

J-Roc -

TPB: The Movie Trailer -

Remediating The Way In Which I Think: Response to Readings

I have had little opportunity to make my way through readings for this course so unfortunately I have only read about half of the text so far. However, of what I have read so far, almost everything has been intriguing, so I thought I would highlight what has caught my eye the most.

Firstly, I found the brief chapter on computer games astonishing. This book was published in 1999 so I feel it is dated, but the fact that it is dated as such gives it an excellent outlook on the next 9 years of video gaming. I had to remind myself that this was before PlayStation2 was even released, so the fact that computer games like Myst, Riven, and Doom are being raved about did not surprise me. As I said in a prior post, gaming has certainly come a long way. The thing I found most astounding was a paragraph on page 93 which boiled down all video games to the same common goal.

“They are assigned explicitly or implicitly the role of security guards, whose simple task is to shoot anything that appears threatening…Ideologically, the player is asked to defend or reestablish the status quo, so that even though the violence of the games appears to be antisocial, the ultimate message is not. It is a message that has prevailed from the early games such as Space Invaders in the 1970’s to such games as Doom and Quake in the 1990’s.” (Bolter and Grusin 93)

This quote seems to boil every video game I have ever played with the exception of sports games to a redundant, seemingly pointless definition. However, the game play is still addictive, even if the point is to just shoot anything that moves.

Second, when reading this section on video games I had an excellent thought on what I could write my term paper on. The outdated text led me to realize that games have become a lot more like films. The basic point of a video game is still to ‘shoot to kill’, yet they are becoming expansive in the realm of story telling and most games have 2-5 minute breaks in game play involving films to advance the plot. When considering this, games are becoming much more immersive and in fact, ‘interactive films’. It can therefore be said that since the text states that television is the remediation of film, and video games the remediation of television, are video games remediating cinema and making it more immersive? I would say so.

Finally, when reading a text for my SOAN: Introductory Methods course I came across a very interesting piece of information:

“The term ‘road rage’ first appeared in 1988, and by 1997, the print media were carrying over 4,000 articles per year on it. Despite media attention about ‘aggressive driving’ and ‘anger behind the wheel’, there is no scientific evidence for road rage.” (Nueman 5)

I found this quite interesting because road rage has become such a highly publicized phenomena. I have heard of some cases where drivers are sent to anger management and to seek other forms of professional help to battle their anger behind the wheel. There is even psychological and sociological investigation into this phenomena, but how can this be justified as good research if it is just some wild goose chase with a catchy phrase that the media spat out one day? Since there is no scientific evidence for it, I was once again captivated by the impact media has on our world.

Works Cited

Nueman, W. Lawrence. Basics of Social Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (2nd Edition). Boston: Pearson Education, 2007.

Bolter, Jay David and Grusin, Richard. Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Little That I Know (Precursory Self Reflexive Response)

I feel that it is necessary to make a precursory self reflexive post in order to establish what I know so far so my progress throughout the course can be tracked and evaluated much easier.

I will first off start by saying that I already know a good deal about the world of media. Since a young age I was glued to the television box; whether it was playing video games, watching television shows or films, like every other Canadian I just can't get enough. I'm fairly technologically knowledgeable (I know how to work a computer, a cell phone, an Ipod/Mp3 player, my Xbox 360, etc.) although I beleieve there is always room to grow and become more knowledgeable.

I took a media course in high school as well as Dr. Lipton's Languages of Media course, so I am more aware than others of how manipulative and powerful a tool the media is. Any medium is able to project a government or a corporations desires onto the general public, and to be honest I find this quite terrifying.

In terms of this specific class, my thirst for knowledge has me constantly participating by asking questions to get a better sense of things and understand the theories we will learn over the course of this semester. I do find the reading a bit overwhelming, but I'm sure at the end of the day it really isn't that much and won't be that difficult. The seminar presentation and the term paper do not really seem that exhausting to me, however this blog does. I have never kept a blog, so I think it will be interesting to experiment with this and hopefully be a useful learning tool for me so that I excel in this course.

Initial Thoughts on the Class (Response to Discussion)

I was quite impressed with the class and a number of ideas quickly popped into my head regarding the first course text, Remediation: Understanding New Media. I have to admit I was unfamiliar with the term 'remediation' so I wikipediaed it with no success, and then came across an excellent definition from (see below). Although I still have not purchased or opened the text book at this point, I still have a number of great ideas sparked from the class discussion regarding remediation.

The biggest thing i noticed with remediation was in the introductions Ian had us present. I believe Ian has already gone over the remediation process in music technology (record player to casette tape to compact disc to mp3), but the one I was considering most was video gaming technology.

Early video gaming technology was basic, and the 8-12 year olds of today wouldn't be nearly as fascinated by two dimensional super mario with repetitive and annoying music on Super Nintendo as I was as a small child. Throughout the years there have been massive improvements in the graphic design of games, themes, the exploration of a game, music, the level of difficulty and so on and so forth. Another thing to consider is Sony/Nintendo's/Microsoft's need for their systems to meet multimedia demands. For example, all systems (The big Three - Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360) can import and play/display the majority of music, picture and video files a computer holds, and Xbox 360 even has the capability to stream files directly from a Windows based PC to the system and onto your television screen. Who would have thought 20 years ago that a video game console would be able to play games with 80 hour storylines, 25 different weapons, graphic realism, the ability to physically immerse yourself into the game (a la Nintendo Wii), to play with friends online, hold your whole library of music and show your movies on HD DVD (Xbox 360) or Blu Ray (Playstation 3).

The thing that fascinates me the most with remediation is not the technological advancement, although that is something to behold with the Xbox 360's new capabilities, but our culture's hegemonic practice to constantly need bigger, better, faster. Obviously, this is spawned from ideas of capitalism and materialism that are instilled in us from a young age. When taking this into consideration I had a shocking vision of the future of gaming. If Nintendo, Playstation and Microsoft had some sort of merger, virtual reality gaming would be born. Nintendo's interactive gameplay, Microsoft's computer skill set, and Playstation's video graphic capabilities could combine to create an insanely accurate virtual reality game. Mind you, this is a process years in the making and we're still a bit far of technologically speaking. But - I say bring the remediation! On with the future of gaming, and the future of every other media medium for that matter.

Works Cited
"Remediation." Definitions from Random House: 2006.