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