Model Entries – Previous Terms

Below you can find model blog entries from previous terms.  These may be useful to you as you think about how to effectively approach the blog assignments.  The Popular Culture Analysis assignment will mirror the entries below while the other blog entries this term will take a slightly different form.  For the Advertising and Ideology assignment the first category may be especially useful.  However, there is still much to learn in relation to those assignments from examining the exemplary work from previous terms.

Ideology and Advertising

Car Commercials

Body Imagery is Sex Advertisements

Betty Crocker Advertisements and Their Progression from Male to Female Gender Ideologies

Representations of Women’s Indulgence in Eating

Carl’s Junior, Ideology and Gender

The Culture Industry and Mass Media

The Consequences of Media Competition

Call of the Culture Industry

The Role of Corporations

Baseball and Advertising

Gramsci, Hegemony and Resistance/Incorporation

Gramscirl Talk: Mash-Ups and Hegemony

Gramsci’s Hegemonic Negotiation within US Top 40 Pop Songs

Gender and Popular Culture

The Gagabot Universe

Why So Serious? Queer Liberation, Assimilation and Pop

Betty Crocker Advertisements and Their Progression from Male to Female Gender Ideologies

Representations of Women’s Indulgence in Eating

Studying Magic

Body Imagery is Sex Advertisements

Carl’s Junior, Ideology and Gender

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Week 1 – Course Introduction

Welcome to the supporting blog for UNST 254 Popular Culture.  During the course you will find links to material that I have used in class as well as additional references, media and information about popular culture.

In addition each student will be required over the course of the term several blog entry based upon one or several pieces of media.  You can look at student entries from previous terms to get a sense of this assignment.  These could be anything – music, movie clips, advertisements, excerpts from books or anything else related to pop culture.  It will be a place to share links to media discussed in the course and to generally explore issues related to popular culture.  The writing and links to any media will be provided to the instructor who will add them to the blog.  I hope you find this a useful and enjoyable supplement to the course.

Here are some of the materials and issues we will be discussing this week:

The blog header is a work from the magazine Adbusters.  There exist several versions of the flag, the most recent of which is below.

This is an example of “culture jamming”, which consists of taking images or other media that are widespread in popular culture and subverting, re-appropriating or disrupting their meaning by altering them.  What is the message of this alteration?  Does it have validity?  What does it have to say about power?  Culture jamming, the role of corporations and related topics will be explored later in the course.

The Corporate Alphabet:

This is a work from artist Heidi Cody.  You can take a slideshow quiz of the individual letters to explore your ability to recognize some of these different brands.

What does it mean that we can recognize so many of these letters and the brands they represent?  What is the significance of the title of the work, “Corporate Alphabet”?

These two pieces also afford an opportunity to discuss the critical perspective provided by much of the material in this course.  This material will introduce a variety of perspectives particularly critical of corporate-led popular culture and consumerism.

The relative lack of opposite viewpoints in the course material should not necessarily be taken as an endorsement of those that are critical.   The perspective that sees consumerism and the highly influential role of corporations in American life and popular culture as a positive force is the dominant narrative.  This view sees Americans as consumers who have easy and numerous opportunities to meet their needs and beyond thanks to the myriad of choices afforded by multinational corporations.  These ideas are often connected to core American narratives such as notions of freedom and the “the pursuit of happiness” as outlined in the United State Declaration of Independence.  Having lived in American culture we are all already versed in this perspective.  The selection of course material seeks to present alternative viewpoints such that a vigorous discussion can ensue.  A good grade in this course does not require accepting either perspective, although one may if they so choose, rather the goal of this course is to foster critical thinking about popular culture through the examination of dominant and alternative views on the subject.

I look forward to exploring these topics with you over the course of the next ten weeks.

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Above the influence of Depression By: Niki

By Niki Schuh

When I first began researching about depression I found many articles titled “the science of depression”, or “my depression story”. When I clicked on them they all contained a photo with a man or women looking down, alone, in a dark space. They had a confused or lost look in their eyes and from that, I determined they were depressed. Looking at these people reminded me of the old Above the Influence commercials. Where the user was flattened and sitting on a couch not saying anything with a sad, confused look on their face.


While the main message of this ad was to stop people from smoking marijuana I think it also depicted that a person who uses this drug is depressed. Viewing the ad in this way and knowing people who are struggling with depression I feel they aren’t being represented right. This ad came out around 2009, and it was the first time I had seen an anti drug ad this powerful. Thinking about it now, however, my views have changed.

This topic is touchy for most people and I think this ad is an example of what popular culture has deemed different. If you are introverted, quite, like to be inside, you are weird and need some type of intervention. The actor never says why the girl starting smoking and there are many reasons for it. Is the first reason we go to depression? Mine wasn’t. We assume she was influenced by something and was this “something” the media? Her friends? Did she start smoking to replace eating? We need to focus on stopping the things that make her turn to drugs. We need to stop being judgmental, materialist, D-bags.

While reading the articles one quote stuck out;

“One explanation of this general upward trend is that the rise is actually an artifact, reflecting either increased openness among younger people in disclosing their feelings or a greater precision in diagnoses.”(Goleman, 1992)

I think in some cases we are trying to be more open about it, yet we fail. This ad was almost 6 years ago, and since then they don’t really make any ads like it, unless it’s talking about an antidepressant drug. The same goes for what just happened with Robin Williams, he was in the media for a while and than just wasn’t anyone. We are trying to be more aware, yet its failing. I bet the photo shoot of Kim Kardashian will be in the media longer than Robin William’s death.

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The Weight of the World on Our Shoulders By: Holly

The Weight of the World on Our Shoulders

By:  Holly Powell

I spend the majority of my day inside. If I’m not indoors I’m walking feverishly to get to an enclosed space whether it be a building at school, my house or, in a pinch, even my car. I will admit that I have driven just a little farther to go to a drive through Starbucks instead of having to make the trek from the comfort of my vehicle across the rain soaked parking lot into a cafe. We are blessed here in the Northwest, we don’t even have to leave our cars to gas them up. The most time I spend outside on the vast majority of my days is walking to and from my vehicle. It’s not that I dislike the outdoors. Quite the contrary in fact, my summers are spent doing all manner of outdoor activities, camping, hiking, boating, rafting, and walking along the beach. My weekends, even in winter, are filled with walks and trips to every dog park in town with my youngest daughter, an Australian Shepherd named June. I like the outdoors but I am also busy, as it seems we all are these days. If I did suffer from depression I could easily see taking a pill instead of following the “Therapeutic Lifestyle Change” program outlined in the article “A Path Out of Depression” by Stephen Ilardi. Unless this lifestyle plan comes with tips and tricks as to how to accomplish the task of banishing depression in five easy minutes a day all from the comfort of your own desk on break from work or school, then it simply can not be taken as an alternative to a pill I can down while I drink coffee in my car on my way to whatever indoor activity is necessary that day to make myself more worthy of societal praise.


       To quote the great Daft Punk, “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” that is what we are all expected to be, nothing and no one is ever good enough. People put unnecessary pressure on themselves, and others, to be and do everything and do it not to the best of their own ability but rather to the best of any ability. We are more and more confronted and crushed by the expectations of our own society. It’s no wonder instances of depression are on the rise. Why are we doing this to ourselves? People can’t just be accomplished in one thing anymore.


       I must be a model employee, an ideal student, a dutiful wife, and a foolproof mother (to human children), all while being flawlessly gorgeous if I am to be of any worth. Gender representation and ideologies have perpetuated this view of women in the guise of gender equality. We asked for the right to be able to do anything and ended up with the expectation to do it all at once. The “TLC” lifestyle plan adds yet another set of expectations to our juggling act. It tells us that by following their much more involved set of lifestyle changes we too can beat depression, as though taking a pill is just not good enough anymore either. Sure if I had the time I would love to be out doing, and moving, and socializing, and most of all getting adequate sleep but that is not the world we live in (unfortunately). Being unable to do these things because of the great expectations that are a part of modern life is a shame, another one that will add to why so many of us think we’re not good enough. If I didn’t have to write this blog post, or if I could only be “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” then maybe I could take the path out of depression.

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The evolution of TV and Film and the effect of socializing by Jenesh


The topic I want to address is socializing with people and how our human interactions have changed as we incorporate T.V. into our lives. I am curious to see what family on an average day looked like before when T.V. was not accessible. Now days I feel that we have become disconnected even in my own household because every room has a T.V. we get dinner and separate I sit in my room eating and watching my show as my mother goes to her room and watches a different show. The fact that we had the option to 9sit in different rooms as we ate dinner is crazy and impossible just a few years ago. Can we also go back to dinner, yes dinner a time that used to be spent with family and /or people you care about eating food and socializing. However now days I feel that we let television run our lives and interfere with our human bonds.

What I have learned over the past years is that this is all distraction from our own lives and feelings. Yes, it’s great for a temporary satisfaction but honestly it’s all-temporary. We feel better when we watch TV than hanging out with friends because we get to decide the topic. We think about TV as being humorous and relaxing and somehow we feel as though we are building a connection, from the Comfert of our coach or bed. Especially now days you can be even more interactive with the TV community with hashtag and discussion boards online. The fact that we are able to discuss with others our opinions and read about others ides is really awesome and I am glad that there is some kind of communication accruing. Another example of the television community is comic con, these events unite people who are into comics and fictional stories as well as films in that genre. This is a great way to build community through TV.

One of my favorite things to do is go to the movies with friends. This is seen as socializing however in my mind I wonder how this is social after all you are just sitting in a dark room with people for about two hours looking at a screen. Now I see it as an activity I was just embarrassed to do myself, think about it does it really make a difference if you go alone or with someone to a movie? Now I am not saying stop going to the movies with friends. I am just asking us to reevaluate what we think to be social because experience is anything like the one I described earlier I wouldn’t exactly call that socializing. However if you do have a different experience please explain I would love to know more.  While we are at it, it may be a good idea to my idea of socializing which for me means getting to know people whoa are different or similar to you and build a bond with them. The thought that movies are not exactly my idea of socializing doesn’t mean they are not useful in the building bonds part. Bonds are made possible when you share experiences with people one for example going to the movies with someone. This in my mind is a weak tie because it is superficial but it is a good start to building a stronger relationship.

Relationships are the main topic of all TV shows shown, the relationships between whom may be different but they all surround relationships never the less.  This is especially true in reality TV were there are multiple people and usually tons of drama that fallows. So how does this drama affect how we socialize with others? For example through shows like Basketball Wives, real housewives, and Bad girls club, we are thought to always criticize others based on looks, see other woman as treats, cause drama with others, we learn to be fake friend and we learn that being lazy is awesome and as long as your beautiful you can marry rich and not worry. If we as a society think that the things we watch on TV don’t affect us the interactions we have with people in real life then we are sadly mistaken. On average a child 6-11 years old watches about 4 hours of TV a day. This is 280 minutes of influence a day or 1,680 minutes per week. With about 8hrs spent sleeping, 7 hours at school this only leaves 5 hours left over. My only guess about what those 5 hours are, are from my own experience and these 5 hours were not spent with family. The influence of TV is sometimes even more present then our own parents. Being a child it was who grew up in a single family household it is not exactly easy, responsibility that are usually shared between two adults was the reality for only my mothers life. This caused an exhausted parent at the end of the day. So choosing to keep me entertained by at TV or entertain me herself was a no brainer. This doesn’t mean that she neglected to care for me not at all it was just easiest. Which I think a lot of parents get caught up in the easy, convenience of their child being entertained as they work on their never ending sleepless jobs. Never the less if we don’t have parents teaching us the appropriate way to socialize then what do we have ahh yes TV.  When I was in middle school the very famous high school inspired movie came out Mean Girls. The story line of this movie is 3 girls who run the school by being mean to others and self absorbed it then shows how to create a school dynamic with girl empowerment between each other. This movie has set a tone not only since middle school but beyond, teaching girls that there are no consequences for talking about people behind their backs, for pretending to be dumb and for being a mean, rude and self absorbed person. These are not qualities I wish to see in my society. The fact that TV and film play such a big role in how we socialize with people it is never really addressed is suppressing to me. Maybe it’s because we don’t know how to address it, maybe we are to lazy or maybe we just don’t care. I think that what it comes down to is we are so pooped from life that all we want to do is have time to be lazy. However laziness gets us no were and gets us further from our desired future of more socializing and more conscience TV.

One of the things we talked about in class was how Middle Eastern people are portrayed in Hollywood. This was a great way to show how racism is still sedately incorporated in our lives today. The film Reel Bad Arabs brought up a great. People should have a more holistic view of a culture and not just one or two Hollywood depictions. This is another example of how TV and film can impact our thinking and intern the way we socialize with people. An example of this was when the incident of 911 happened. Through the TV we were told to despise all people who are from the Middle East or who were Muslim. My friend feeling so ashamed of the depiction the TV had set for Middle Eastern people she started to deny who she was. This is not a worldview I want to continue with blaming and oppressing those who are different from ourselves. The fact that TV has such a big influence on how my friend felt about her self really speaks to the community we are building. With the knowledge we gain from watching TV we sometimes let it affect our interactions with others.

I think that the television like much technology in our society was created to make life easier. Yes, maybe TV was created to entertain but I am not sure 4hrs of entertainment was actually what they were going for. Although this is the current state of TV that doesn’t mean we can’t change it. What if at the end f movies they put in 2-3 questions that got people thinking about the movie. For example at the end of the Hunger Games Catching Fire they could ask, 1. Why does president snow want Katniss dead? 2. What does this movie have to do with our current lives? Yes this can be seen as consumer centric and that is ok, we are getting people to socialize and critically think about what they just saw.  

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The Evolution of Reality TV by Brea

Over the years we have seen the growth and great expansion of TV in todays generation. Not only has TV become a great part of people’s lives today but also it has changed the way people think in today’s generation. Today almost all households have at least one television and spend an average of over 5 hours a day watching television. Now the real question is what are we spending our time watching and to what extent is it doing for society. With televisions growth we have also experienced the growth in Reality TV. Today we witness the take over of Reality TV; it is all over television and holds a great part in what we as viewers consume.
Now what is Reality TV really showing us and presenting to society? For example the program MTV is very infamous for its Reality TV shows, in particular 16 and Pregnant as well as Teen Mom. Although television is for the use of entertainment, what are the messages behind these series? We have seen a numerous of teenagers become parents throughout these shows and although we experience their struggles becoming young parents we also experience their popularity. After the shows have aired we have seen many of the teen mom stars become a spotlight in the media and grow to becoming a Reality TV celebrity and becoming very famous. This being said most of the young parents presented this as a new accepted lifestyle. Friends of the TV stars have also become young parents in hopes of gaining the same exception and popularity.
This is a great example as well as many others represented on TV today that provide two very drastic messages to consumers. On one hand we gain the understanding on how hard it is to become a teen parent, but on the other hand we gain that it is possible to make it work with becoming a celebrity for becoming a young parent because of the popularity spread through the media and the money one can make by becoming a reality TV star. Aside from the fame Janelle a Teen Mom star gets paid over $75,000 a year as well as her mom getting paid as the “babysitter” over $65,000 a year. This is declaring a message that becoming a teen parent pays well and gives you great fame in the media.
In the end the representation of reality TV drastically is taking over television in general and the way we think today. Is this helping society, and is it the right way to create entertainment? Should we change the way we think or should there be a change in what we watch and how it is represented on television?

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Music In Movies

by Rebecka Landowski

Music in movies has come an extremely long way since the beginning of the moving picture. Movies started as moving pictures only.  Black and white film and no sound.  After the 1930s, when sound and music were introduced to film, music evolved through symphonic, jazz, rock, and synthesized music.  Modern day scores accent each specific scene of the movie.  Composers create songs that build as drama in the scene of the movie builds; they create slow, emotional songs for scenes that are quiet and series; they create intense, loud songs for action scenes; they draw out music softly and slowly in order to add to suspenseful scenes, making sure to add loud, alarming sounds that frighten audiences.

In the beginning, music in movies did not fit into scenes like it does now.  Before, music was simply there to fill the scene, make it more exciting, and give the audience something to enjoy other than the acting.  Now, music continues throughout the entire film, often times without the audience fully realizing there is music being played.  During dialogue scenes there is often very quiet music being played to help the audience capture the feeling the actors are trying to get across.  People who do not pay close attention to the scores of movies do not realize the great importance of music in movies.  The music adds extra emotion to every scene, giving the watcher a feeling of happiness, sadness, excitement, anticipation, etc.  Without music, movies would not flow as well as they do or relay the deep emotions we feel when music is partnered with acting.

Modern day composer Hans Zimmer has written musical scores for many popular movies including The Lion King, The Gladiator, The Pirates of the Caribbean series, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Inception, Man of Steel, and many more.  Zimmer’s scores are a wonderful example of the psychological influence of movie scores.  The opening song of the Lion King is recognizable to almost anyone in our society.  The song allows the audience to feel both the foreign aspect of the movie (it being placed in Africa) and the intensity and importance of the scene where Simba, the future king, is revealed to the population.  This video gives a behind the scene look on how Zimmer and the others working on the movie went through the process and how it affected them:

Another example, is the following scene from Inception.  The track starts out very loud and full of energy to match the action scene that is occurring.  Next, is an emotional scene between a son and father in which Zimmer’s score starts very quiet and slowly builds.  At the climax of the conversation the music rises drastically to add to the emotion of the scene and helps transfer from the quiet dialogue back to the action.

Zimmer has created many movie scores that are very recognizable to people. Like I said, the opening of the Lion King is recognized by almost anyone. The scores of Inception, the Batman Trilogy, and the Pirates of the Caribbean series are all very easily recognized by anyone who has seen the movies. If heard out of context of the movie, people are able to remember the emotions they (or the characters of the movie) were feeling at a certain point in the movie. It shows the power that the music of movies has upon the changes in the audience’s emotions. Psychologically, the music has the ability to control how the audience feels. Imagine watching an action scene without music! The sound of people fighting does not get adrenaline pumping in the audience nearly as much as it does when partnered with exciting music.

Here I have a video that shows very well how important music can be to a scene. This is the iconic shower scene from the 1960 film, Psycho.  It plays the scene first with the music, then without.  While the second still gives a feeling of terror, the music of the scene is what enhances that feeling and causes the audience more excitement and anxiety.

All in all, I think the evolution of movie soundtracks has helped better the quality and shape of movies. The representation of the movie is changed easily with the type of music played throughout. Consumers are affected psychologically, changing their emotions and changing messages they receive from films. The change of music in movies seems to be a Consumer-Centric evolution to me. Composers create the music for the movie so that audiences will enjoy themselves more fully, with heightened emotions.

Posted in Fall 2013, Student Posts, Uncategorized | Leave a comment