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Zeitgeist

Throughout history, the United States of America has gone through an amalgam of historical, political and environmental events that have changed our perspectives on certain issues. Zeitgeist refers to such feelings and often changes with time and age. “It depends on timing, on you, where you are in life… your own personal zeitgeist” (Dunphy, p. 11). The media can have a great impact on how you view a certain topic and may, therefore, fluctuate the zeitgeist of an individual. Two popular shows that have been able to capture these moments are Comedy Central’s South Park and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Both satirically based shows serve their fans in a timely manner what with South Park’s six-day production cycle and The Daily Show’s dailyness.

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One ongoing issue that has been debated on for decades is that of global warming. Scientists have spent much time researching the causes of the environmental issue while others believe it to be a myth. Studies state that warming is caused by several gases, much of which are emitted in the atmosphere by human beings. According to National Geographic (http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/gw-causes?rptregcta=reg_free_np&rptregcampaign=20131016_rw_membership_n1p_us_se_w#close-modal

), “since 1990, yearly emissions have gone up by about 6 billion metric tons of ‘carbon dioxide equivalent’ worldwide, more than a 20 percent increase.” When referring to the zeitgeist of this period, evidence shows that these drastic climate changes are on the minds of many around the world. According to the Year-End Google Zeitgeist of 2005, Hurricane Katrina placed second in the top news google search for that year. Both of the aforementioned shows have reacted and shared their thoughts on these alarming data.

Screen-300631On October 19, 2005, South Park aired its Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow episode (http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s09e08-two-days-before-the-day-after-tomorrow) in which Stan and Cartman crash a boat into a beaver dam resulting in a massive flood. The show parodies the science fiction disaster film “The Day After Tomorrow” while also referencing the responses of Hurricane Katrina. Like many of the Katrina victims that were interviewed by on-site news reporters, the victims in this South Park episode were looking for someone to blame. They tried to put the blame on George W. Bush, terrorists, Al Qaeda, FEMA and the mayor. As was mentioned in Satire’s Brew, “Every story needs a boogeyman, a mythical creature hell-bent on destroying everyone and everything we’ve come to know and love” (p. 110). In this case, the story refers to drastic climate change and the boogeyman would be the characters themselves.

South Park news later reports that the destruction was caused by global warming. As coverage continues, newscasters are sensationalizing the actual events with exaggerated body count numbers. In the midst of all the chaos, a man repeatedly says, “we didn’t listen.” Stan’s father tells his son, “We didn’t take care of your Earth and now you have inherited our problems.” It isn’t until this moment that they realize they could’ve taken better care of their planet. This episode is encouraging its audience to be more involved in taking precautions to save the planet.

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In another episode (http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s10e06-manbearpig), a very flamboyant Al Gore warns the students of South Park Elementary School of the dangers of ManEarPig. No one believes it’s an actual thing to be concerned about and accuse him of wanting attention. This episode aired in 2006, the same year that Al Gore premiered An Inconvenient Truth, an Academy Award winning film enlightening people about global warming and climate change. The documentary received much press and even led to Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize achievement.

Every person has their thoughts on global warming, whether they believe it, don’t believe it or have no care for it at all. Harry Lime pointed out, “sometimes a work can change the trajectory of an art form and what a civilization will accept” (p. 60). From the Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow and ManBearPig episodes, Trey Parker and Matt Stone give off the impression that they don’t believe in Al Gore or global warming. Whether this will change the views of their audience is unlikely considering the lack of scientific background information.

The Daily Show, on the other hand, addresses the climate crisis with incorporated external news segments. According to The Yale Forum, 67 episodes of The Daily Show addressed global warming between 1999 and 2011 through reports on scientific findings. On December 8, 1999, in a segment called, “that’s thaw, Folks!” Jon Stewart satirizes the idea of global warming with jokes poking fun at the possibility of scuba diving between national landmarks and thawed out lost polar expeditionists in the near future. We laugh along with him as he does his jester like duties and serves as “the surrogate of the people” (p. 6)

The Daily Show has the upper hand when compared to South Park, credibility wise, when Al Gore visits during a 2006 episode (https://cogito.cty.jhu.edu/16136/jon-stewart-interviews-al-gore/.) Stewart shared that he believes the science but he doesn’t “know what to do.”  Gore refutes the accusation that he is only promoting his book and documentary “for political purpose” or to “mask ideology to expand the role of government.” He goes on to say that global warming “is the only crisis we’ve ever faced that has the capacity to completely end human civilization” to which Stewart replied, “nuclear’s got a shot. The bomb’s got a shot.” Stewart stays away from propaganda by avoiding “promoting a doctrine or cause to fight for all” (p. 118). He does this by taking a light approach to the interview as seen from the prior example.

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In a 2005 interview with author Chris Mooney, Stewart said, “It’s very difficult to know if people are lying to you with science…I can only conclude that Yale and like institutions are doing a terrible job of translating findings to the public.”  In other words, like many people, Jon just wants the easy facts and straight to the point. Many reports on global warming involve models, and charts, and graphs to which one can easily get lost in. Fortunately, National Geographic has this http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/12/1206_041206_global_warming.html

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As we have seen in the above examples, satirical shows help in “revealing the core of American society” (p. 74). Since the early 1980s, climate change has been an international environmental issue affecting people of all backgrounds. As a result, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) was created in 1992 and signed by over 150 countries. Unfortunately, issues do arise when finding a solution that all countries can unanimously agree on. For example, the U.S. refuses to take effective action due its dependence on fossil fuel. If we take a look at zeitgeist again, the spirit of the times in America show that we are more concerned with economy than environment. We have grown accustomed to being productive and making industrial improvements, no matter what the cost. Both South Park and The Daily Show have shown it’s audience what could possibly happen should we continue to live a wasteful lifestyle. South Park illustrated this with the flood and Stewart did so with the help of outside sources.

 

Donald Sterling Scandal

It was my first time listening to the conversation between Donald Sterling and his girlfriend, V Stiviano, when it was played during media class and I was appalled. Sterling has been the owner of the LA Clippers since 1981, a team consisting mostly of African Americans. The things he said towards that race were wrong and horrible. What initiated the argument was a picture his girlfriend posted on her Instagram with Magic Johnson to which Sterling had a problem with because of his race. His reasoning is confusing considering that his girlfriend is half Black and half Mexican.

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What’s more confusing is the relationship Sterling has with his girlfriend and wife. The wife is well aware of the couple’s relationship and even sued her for taking advantage of Sterling’s wealth. According to Stiviano’s attorney, the relationship of Stiviano to Sterling is that of an archivist. He went on to say that Stiviano didn’t leak the recordings. What I don’t understand is why would Sterling shower his archivist with all these lavish gifts. She must be doing something special in return. I don’t believe her or her attorney. Platonic girlfriend? In the words of Dr. Evil, ‘rrrrrrrrright.’ I find Stiviano to be very amusing in this whole situation. During one encounter with the paparazzi she said, “One day, I will become President of the United States of America and I will change the legislation and laws…modern-day history, civil rights movement.” With all the media surrounding her, she now wears a very stylish visor to avoid the flashing lights. Soon everyone will be wearing one at the clubs.

I’m glad NBA Commissioner banned Sterling for life from the NBA. However, it is possible for the decision to be reversed due to the bylaws that state Sterling has to be intentionally harming the reputation of the NBA. Also, it was a private conversation that Stiviano was obviously guiding. With the aforementioned, his attorneys have a lot to work with.

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The whole scandal has gained much attention from sports fans as well as celebrities, some of which are interested in owning the Clippers. It has been rumored that Oprah Winfrey, Oscar de la Hoya and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs would like to have their Clippers share. If they were to be purchased at this moment, it was cost an estimated $575 million.

Before Sunrise (extra credit post)

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Before Sunrise is a film about two strangers meeting and spending a whole day together. The opening scene focuses on a couple fighting in German. I thought I was watching the wrong movie at first because there were no subtitles. As it turns out, this fight is what brought Jesse and Celine together.

The whole game they play was perfect. She made the first move by choosing a seat across from him. He then asks her out to the lounge. It was at this moment that Celine was able to develop trust in him which later led to her agreeing on a casual rendezvous with someone she just met. Every move was made with perfect timing and quick, thoughtful planning.

They begin to explore Vienna while getting to know not only each other, but also the people of Vienna. Their interaction with others as a couple seemed as though they’ve known each other for years. The poet on the waters was my favorite. I agree with Jesse when he says the bum probably had a pre-written poem and slipped in the chosen word. Regardless, the poem was still effective and he made bank.

Out of all the date spots, the cutest would be the record store where they were trading flirting glances at each other. The impromptu date continues and they share thoughts on everything including life, love, religion, feminism and family. It wasn’t until much later in the night when they talk about dating and whether they were seeing anyone at the moment. It was in this moment where I thought of an earlier scene when Jesse was talking about his 24-hour documentary idea. Rather than filming normal people doing regular things, this is what should be filmed – spontaneous, impromptu blind dates from around the world.

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I wish I can develop a memory like this movie sometime in the near future. I doubt such a thing would be possible here in New York City where everyone has places to be, things to do. I would definitely have to travel elsewhere where people have a more laid back lifestyle or are on vacation. The ending of the film was nicely put. You see all the places they went to the day before as the sun rises. There aren’t as many people or much life compared to how we saw the different locations prior, but a blank slate where new memories are ready to be made.

Six months from their first date, I think Jesse will be disappointed to discover that Celine has a boyfriend. She did keep her end of the deal by meeting him at said time and place but, let’s face it, Celine is much more of a catch than Jesse and probably found herself a boyfriend in one of her classes. As for Jesse, he definitely talked to women back in the States and probably slept with them too. He just didn’t keep a relationship with them due to the fact that Celine was always there in the back of his mind. Every memory with her was perfect, including the little fight they had.

If I had to choose, I’d like to experience Jesse and Celine’s date rather than that of Cecilia and the protagonist of Brian Dunphy’s Satire Brew. Jesse and Celine went to many more places and talked about a lot more things.

Breathless and Burdened

The United States of America runs on energy (as well as Dunkin’), much of which is attained through coal. The most important uses of coal are for electricity, steel production, cement manufacturing and liquid fuel. Many men and women go into these mines so that we can keep living ours fast and efficiently.

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However, as coal miners keep breathing in the thick, polluted air, problems begin to develop overtime. The most common illness to arise is known as black lung. Black lung is not just one disease, but rather an umbrella term covering any pulmonary disease that is caused from the inhalation and accumulation of coal dust. The workers are aware that they are at risk of getting black lung but continue to work under hazardous conditions so that they and their families have a life. This is evident in the case of Ted Latusek, who began working in the mines at the age of 20. Two decades later, Latusek began showing signs of disease. When he testified against the coal companies, he never got the benefits he deserved. Latusek’s case occurs repeatedly with many other coal miners that are told the scars on their lungs and breathing ailments are not due to labor, but rather from something else.

The issue of the coal industry refusing to recognize black lung as a disease dates all the way back to the 1930s. I was quite shocked by the opening paragraph in Chris Hamby’s, “A century of denial on black lung.” Seeing that picture of Congressmen Ken Hechler holding that bologna sausage as he compared it to black lung was insulting and in bad taste towards the coal miners that could possibly be at risk. It just goes to show that big companies are only concerned with big money and productivity, without any regard to the worker’s health. According to the National Mining Association, the average wage for all U.S. coal miners in 2012 was $81,46. This amount, unfortunately, is not enough for the transplants, check ups, CT scans, x-rays or any other necessary procedures workers may need.

Thanks to the Breathless and Burdened investigation, the black lung issue has been brought to the attention of many. It helped reveal how doctors and lawyers work on behalf of the coal companies in return for the large amounts of money. In one of the comments, a respiratory therapist wrote, “ One of the Drs. I worked with was paid to testify by Coal Mining companies to be an ‘expert witness’ to testify against the miners. His income was nearly a million dollars.” The accuracy of this statement is questionable but, if true it’s a horrible reality. Rather than paying off doctors and lawyers to shift the causes of black lung, coal industries should be investing in precautions such as making it mandatory for workers to wear face masks.

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The coal industry will finally make changes thanks to the government. According to a recent Bloomberg article, “The Obama administration ordered a 25% cut in the levels of coal dust in US mines to reduce deadly black lung disease” to be effective starting August 1st. In addition, workers will also be equipped with a personal dust monitor that will allow miners to see how much coal dust exposure they are experiencing. These new regulations will cost operators less than one percent of industry revenue.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-23/cut-in-coal-dust-to-combat-black-lung-draws-industry-fire.html

Blackfish

This is the first time I have ever heard of a Sea World whale killing a human being. Am I surprised? Not at all, I mean, it’s in the name – (killer)whale. Every animal should be living their lives in their own natural habitat. They shouldn’t be taken away from their families and forced into a circus for the amusement of us human beings.

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It is so sad to see the whales being torn apart from their families. A lot of the workers involved with this, whether it be the fishermen or the Sea World employees, all say the same thing – it was their job. Although the trainers are provided with lessons on how to train the sea creatures, they have a very low background in marine biology, if any. They are performers, not biologists. The fact that they masturbate the whales for their sperm is just wrong. What’s more disturbing is the marine cowboys sinking dead whales to the bottom of the ocean in order to hide their bodies.

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Watching this documentary reminded me of a similar issue happening locally in which human beings put animals to work – horse carriages in New York City. Beginning in 1935, this has been an ongoing tradition in the itinerary of many foreign visitors, as well as native New Yorkers, who have this romanticized idea of riding a horse drawn carriage. This is inhumane and an unnatural lifestyle of these easily-provoked animals. Horses should be roaming free on a field of grass, not slaving away on the hard cement surrounded by loud, ongoing traffic. Rather than using horses, carriages should be replaced with motorized carriages. According to a Huffington Post article, Mayor de Blasio said at a press conference with New York Class, an animal rights group, “We are in the biggest, densest urban area in North America. It is not a place for horses. They are not meant to be in traffic jams. It’s obvious. There are better alternatives.” Mayor de Blasio has yet to fix this issue since he was instated, but plans to.

There are many similarities between the living conditions of both the whales and the horses. They are forced to live in these cramped spaces which causes them emotional and physical distress. This, consequently, leads to lack of sleep needed to work the next morning. Also, the way the trainers feed the animals is done as an experiment. Most of the time they are only fed when they do something right or fed to the minimum point of keeping them standing and able to work.

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According to a study by Newcastle University, “dolphins in close proximity to humans experience extreme stress preventing them from resting, feeding or nurturing their young.” Despite these findings, Sea World continues to allow park guests to interact with dolphins. I now lament the time I got to swim with dolphins. I was around 12 years old at the time on a family vacation in Mexico. It was fun but now that I know that it distresses them, I wouldn’t do it again.

 

http://www.seaworldofhurt.com/features/ten-things-didnt-know-seaworld/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/7456102/Swimming-with-dolphins-traumatises-them.html

http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-in-entertainment/animals-used-entertainment-factsheets/marine-animal-exhibits-chlorinated-prisons/

Blogosphere

In his Why I Blog article, Andrew Sullivan defines the art of blogging. He also denotes the difference between blogging and professional journalism. I agree when he says blogging is a “spontaneous expression of instant thought.” There are many platforms in which bloggers of all ages and upbringings can express their thoughts including Tumblr, WordPress, Facebook and Blogger. I had my first blogging experience during my sophomore year of high school when a friend suggested I make my own Tumblr account. At first, I used it to read her blog as well as look at pictures of animals, food and destination travel spots. It soon became an addiction and I began posting my own pictures and posts. I’ve never had the problem that Sullivan had with replies to these posts, replies that may often times be brutal and unforgiving. Reasons being, I never posted about anything controversial and all of my readers were friends. The freedom of letting go while blogging is liberating. You’re not thinking about anything but what it is you’re currently writing or “writing out loud,” as Sullivan puts it. Blogging is it’s own community. It’s a sharing of ideas between people of different backgrounds. Although they may not always be in agreement, there is a communal acceptance that there are different perspectives to the topic at hand. I enjoyed the musical analogies Sullivan uses such as the one in which he compares a blogger to a dj, “mixing samples of tunes and generating new melodies through mashups.”tumblr-logo-rectangle-white-on-blue-839x385px

 

The aforementioned freedom is not only present in blogging, but also in other outlets including music, theater, Youtube, and television. Satire’s Brew mentions a couple of shows – Saturday Night Live and Key & Peele – in which the creators reflect their opinions on current events. It may not be as instant or direct as it is in the blogosphere, but what the two fields have in common are the reactions of their audience. Feedback may not always be positive, but the creators are open to whatever their viewers have to say.Key & Peele - S2

Sullivan brings up the idea of the online presence or authority you attain when you are linked to by other blogs. With that said, it was hard finding an article where Sullivan puts solely his opinion because most of his articles are links or quotes from other sources. Alas, I came across a post entitled Marijuana and Moralism, in which Sullivan states his opinion on legalizing the green. He says, “keeping marijuana illegal profoundly constrains the potential for medical research on it, sustains a growing and increasingly lucrative criminal industry, and does nothing to keep it from the sole cohort for whom it could do harm: teenagers” to which I agree. With the growing research on both the positive and negative effects of marijuana, it seems as though the positive outshine the latter. The use of marijuana can “unleash creative potential” in an individual or artist. People I know that engage in its recreational use do so to relax or to have a good time. If the same was said with alcohol, there is a chance that the effects may cause the drinker to engage in harmful situations. I don’t think legalizing marijuana would necessarily increase the percentage rate of usage significantly.cannabisplant

South Park

In South Park’s Emmy award winning Raising the Bar episode, the obesity epidemic is present throughout the show. The special assistance that the obese people receive is discouraging to those who do not receive the same treatment. Makes one wonder why do they get priority seating for overindulging while others who are healthy do not. As we see from the tip assist, no matter how hard you fall you can get right back up with government assistance if you complain enough. Instead of manufacturing new inventions to fix preventable mishaps, government funds should be used for something more practical like educational programs specialized in health and nutrition, for example. Unfortunately, as South Park points out, America’s very own The Learning Channel network glorifies obese America with their hit show, Honey Boo Boo. At the same time shows like The Biggest Loser, Extreme Weight Loss as well as the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign serve as inspiration for people to be healthy and stay fit. Recently, we have been desensitized to the idea that being overweight is normal, but at the same time we know that there is room for improvement.

Director James Cameron’s random appearance is not that random as the episode’s title is a play on his film, Raising the Titanic. Also, when thinking of Cameron I think of Avatar. In this 2009 blockbuster movie, the deforestation of Pandora parallels to the deforestation happening on our very own planet. Just as Cameron points out the harmful effects of erosion on land, Parker and Stone’s Raising the Bar episode shows the adverse effects of obesity.

            In Crack Baby Athletic Association, Cartman makes a business off of fighting crack babies. This could be in reference to a real show a group of teenagers made in which they make homeless people fight each other. In both cases, the synopsis of the show is inhumane and disgusting, for lack of a better term. This continues on the idea from the previous episode that money can be made off of anything, even something so grotesque.

We see a different side of Kyle when he joins forces with Cartman to start Crack Baby Basketball, proof that greed can be contagious. Rather than sharing the money with the babies, they use it for outlandish things like KFC gravy in a hot tub. Earlier in the episode, we see them at Denny’s enjoying bacon in all of their food. The obesity epidemic we saw in Raising the Bar is continued in these two acts.

The episode takes a stab at the way the NCAA treats their players, or slaves as Cartman puts it. In a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, only 33% of poll takers support paying college athletes. Cartman is making a lot of money yet he refuses to give any to the people who brought that money in, which is the same issue with the Northwestern University football team mentioned in the Washington Post article. When I saw the original air date of CBAA, I was surprised to discover it aired nearly three years ago. This predicament of not giving players a peace of the pie has been an ongoing debate. I do think that student athletes should receive some of the college’s earnings because they are bringing a lot of publicity and money to the universities. Although they receive a scholarship, a stipend should also be provided to cover other costs including health insurance, books and brand new Jordans.

Margaritaville presents economy as a religion. South Park has hit a recession due to the ongoing unnecessary purchases that people are making. In order to live a normal life again, the people of South Park need a miracle. Kyle, a Jew, serves that purpose by paying everyone’s debts just as Jesus, also a Jew, paid for everyone’s sins, according to the Holy Bible.

Throughout the episode, Cartman tries to return an expensive Margaritaville mixer. This mixer symbolizes the credit that so many people owe, Randy included. So much credit is built up that in the end, Cartman breaks the mixer. This can be viewed as a person cutting up their credit card to avoid the temptation of swiping it with no money to back it up. It’s very clever how they were able to cross the timeless Biblical story of Jesus with the current economic crisis of today.

In all three episodes – Raising the Bar, Crack Baby Athletic Association, and Margaritaville – Trey Parker and Matt Stone expose an array of issues including an obese America, poor economy, greedy business owners and an unorganized U.S. Treasury running around like chickens with their heads cut off. As Dunphy has mentioned in Satire’s Brew, the way that many news outlets share their coverage do so in a left or right matter. The sides of the issue at hand can either be this or that, right or wrong, good or bad. What the South Park creators offer that these news stations do not is a ‘history repeats itself’ mentality. They are able to compare the issues of today with stories of the past. They are also able to foreshadow the future, as in the CBAA episode where the college athlete stipend debate still stands today. The aforementioned issues not only stay in their respective episodes but cross over to other South Park stories.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/colleges/large-majority-opposes-paying-ncaa-athletes-washington-post-abc-news-poll-finds/2014/03/22/c411a32e-b130-11e3-95e8-39bef8e9a48b_story.html

Music

As a former high school student of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, aka the Fame school, I have been exposed to all types of music including classical, hip-hop, world, folk and polka to name a few. It was such a great experience attending an arts school as an instrumental major because you are surrounded by so many music enthusiasts like yourself.

Each semester we were required to attend two concerts – one at the school, the other outside at a professional level – and write a report on it. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to attend too many concerts during my undergraduate years due to time and cost. On the off chance that I do attend live shows, I usually see a friend perform at gigs or benefit concerts. The Lower East Side is a great place to roam around if you’re looking for a place to listen to local bands. Now, most of my music enjoyment comes from the internet via sites like YouTube, Spotify, Pandora and Songza. I usually like to listen to a genre at a time. For example, I wouldn’t listen to Allen Stone’s “Unaware” right after jamming out to Art Blakey’s “Moanin’.” I also listen to different genres for different moods – Motown for cooking, pop for getting ready in the morning and classical for tea time.

I find myself going deep into the lyrics and background story for hip hop and rap songs, only reason being I don’t know where or what the references are from. This is when Rap Genius comes in handy. A few years ago, I came across a live Nicki Minaj performance on BBC’s Graham Norton Show and she was singing/rapping her hit songBeez in a Trap.” I had no idea what this meant and knew it couldn’t possibly be referring to bees getting trapped in their own honey or a bee trap. According to rapgenius.com, “the ‘trap’ is the drug dealing spot or any place where you get money. The originally Southern term has become so common as to have spawned its own genre.” Despite the meaning of the song and the numerous cuss words, I still enjoy listening to it and singing along to it in the privacy of my own room.

I always get stumped whenever someone asks me what my favorite song is or who my favorite artist is because there are too many to choose from. Off the top of my head, I would have to say “Sway” is my favorite song and Beyonce is my favorite artist. If you were to ask me the same question ten seconds later, I would answer “Poetic Justice” and Lester Young. All Disney songs are my guilty pleasure. I’d be embarrassed if “Minnie’s Yoo Hoo!” from the Classic Disney: 60 Years of Musical Magic album popped up on my iPod at a BBQ.

In order to like a song, my head must be bobbing to the beat at some point if not for the whole duration. Dr. Alison Pawley and Dr. Daniel Mullensiefen of the University of London delved into what makes a song ‘catchy.’ According to their research, the song must have longer and detailed musical phrases, higher number of pitched in the chorus hook, male vocalists and higher male voices with noticeable vocal effort. A few artists that come in mind after reading these traits are Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, Adam Levine and Justin Timberlake, all of whom have multiple catchy songs.

Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Atoms for Peace also fits into this category of catchy artists. When I listened to York’s, “The Daily Mail” the first three notes reminded me of those from the graduation song, Pomp and Circumstance. The minor key automatically sets the mood for this song to something deep and heavy. It was a bit difficult figuring out what the artist was saying. After looking up the lyrics, I knew that the song was definitely related to politics with key words and phrases like paid off, President, lost command and the Daily Mail, which is a British tabloid that exposes all types of news stories.

After looking at the comments on songmeanings.com, one person said, “the song is about the eventual accountability of the insane egotistic sociopaths with power (“lord of all”), like those responsible for the financial crisis, who will justify (“to keep your prices down”) any egregious acts (“no regard for human life”).” This explanation isn’t too far off from my assumption that the song was delved in politics. Ultimately, this song is about revolution, political and economic change. This song is saying that “the fish in the sea” (we the people) are being lied to by political officials who have “no regard for human life.” With all this mind, it definitely changed my perspective of the song listening to it a second time. It felt heavier and sadder.

Beez in a Trap http://rapgenius.com/Nicki-minaj-beez-in-the-trap-lyrics

Catchy songs http://www.zmescience.com/research/studies/what-makes-a-song-catchy-science-explains/

Daily Mail http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/3530822107858875121/ 

Gattaca

The opening credits to the movie had an eerie feel to it with minor chords, fading credits and odd movements going on. This and the amount of well-known actors shown in the credits immediately grabbed my attention. Then the word GATTACA comes up. At first, I had no idea what this meant. I thought maybe it was the name of some extraterrestrial source or something futuristic. After researching, I find out it’s the name of Vincent’s workplace where people are trained to go to outer space. It is also a reference to a DNA nucleotide sequence – guanine, adenine, thymine and cytosine. The theme of identity remains constant throughout the movie.

At the beginning of film, we find out that Vincent is going to live a short life and is going to have a lot of health issues to live with. Growing up, he refused to live with the thought of having an inferior life compared to his younger, stronger brother and leaves. This idea of escape is evident throughout the movie, especially through the four classical elements of earth, water, air and fire.

When they were younger, Vincent and Anton would have races in the ocean whenever their parents weren’t looking, an escape from adult supervision. All the people that travel in space escape the element of earth and air. Both Vincent and Eugene use the fire element to escape. Vincent uses it to rid the scrapings of his identity as means to prove that he is a valid while Eugene uses it to completely erase himself from the world. One thing that all of these  characters have in common is the want to escape uniformity and perfection.

There is an obsession with perfection present from the beginning of the film. Vincent’s parents opted for a perfect son with their second child and Vincent’s workplace is constantly being cleaned by the many janitors with a zero tolerance for any unwanted substances. Vincent and Eugene go against this idea of everyone being the same by switching identities.

In a few of the scenes, a yellow filter was present. One of the things associated with the color yellow is the Sun. In the movie we find out that Vincent wants to travel to outer space (where the Sun is), which is something that the yellow filter foreshadows. The filter also appears in scenes of nostalgia such as the moments when Vincent and Anton would race and the scene where Vincent was born.

Towards the end of the film, I really tried to contain my tears since I was sitting in the front of the entire classroom. Once Jerome got in that incinerator, I knew what was going to happen. Eugene was my favorite character in the movie mostly because he was the comic relief in the film. My favorite parts come from him – his drinking, the scene where he told Shrader off and that scene where he asked Irene for a kiss. I got a little offended when my fellow classmates laughed at him when he was trying to get up the DNA helix inspired stairs to answer the doorbell (what was so funny?). 

Gattaca gives an inspirational message that although there may be a few setbacks, you shouldn’t let that discourage you from reaching your goals. Vincent was told that he was an invalid from the moment he was born, yet that didn’t stop him from living his dream of going to space. He even fell in love with a fellow invalid, Irene. Goes to show that if you don’t put any effort in what you want to do, that opportunity may be blown away by the wind. Great movie selection Prof D!

 

Cartoon CARTOONS

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CARTOON CARTOON

OBAMA TRASH TALK

The football player we see being interviewed is actually President Barack Obama (evident in his protruding pinnas and nose mole) dressed up as Seattle Seahawk cornerback, Richard Sherman. In a post game interview, Sherman goes off in a rant saying, “I’m the best corner in the game…don’t you ever talk about the best” directing his words towards 49er Michael Crabtree. This interview quickly spread across the internet and gained a lot of attention, much more than President Obama’s very own rant in regards to al-Qaeda. Even I was not aware of the President’s quote. This goes to show that some Americans are more inclined to watching a sport than being aware of al-Qaeda’s intentions.

In his speech, Obama talks about the expansion of jihadists groups and that we should not worry about them gaining the level of al-Qaeda. His comparison of al-Qaeda to a junior varsity team shows that he doesn’t see them as a threat now that they no longer have Osama bin Laden as leader. However, Obama’s National Intelligence Director James Clapper insists that al-Qaeda’s threat remains the same, if not higher compared to a decade ago. The militant group controls more territory now than ever before. Although they haven’t attacked the United States recently, they have attacked places including Beirut, Fallujah and Syria to name a few. It can be interpreted that because Osama bin Laden was killed under Obama’s administration, al-Qaeda died along with it and anyone who will try to reach that status will fail.

Michael Ramirez’s reference to football may suggest that Obama’s rant be incorporated in the Superbowl as means to gain the attention of the American people. It is a bit ironic that he says, “ If a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” Yet, here he is dressed up as a football player who’s youtube views reaches more than those of the President himself. The reader can see the grandiose audience in the cartoon with the thousands of football fans looking onward in the background.

I am not offended by this cartoon, nor do I think it is offensive (unless you’re Obama). The artist effectively points out the priorities of the American people by bringing together two current events in one illustration.

“THIS IS THE FOREST PRIMEVAL–”

Cartoonist Herblock draws upon the issue of deforestation in the United States. All the trees have been chopped off for manufacturer purposes – books, furniture, firewood, etc. – without any regard to nature preservation. Once a tree is chopped down, all that is left is a stump that is not capable of growing back. This is unfortunate because all the trees uses such as shelter, food, flowers, and oxygen  will no longer be available.

If the chopping of the trees were to continue, it could lead to drastic consequences towards the American people. Without any of the aforementioned sources, living in a treeless world could be fatal. The cartoon foreshadows this fate with it’s cemetery like depiction and stumps that look like tombstones.

This cartoon serves as a warning, which I don’t think is offensive at all. The artist should definitely do this to help stop unnecessary tree cutting and make way for a better environment. His exaggeration of an entire forest depletion effectively gets his message across and serves as a shadow of forthcoming events.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mlnm3rfnww

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/19/us-lebanon-blast-idUSBREA1I0BQ20140219

http://www.rantlifestyle.com/2014/01/20/president-obama-calls-al-qaeda-jayvee-sums-war-terror-effort/