Harry Potter and the Battle of Prejudice by Sara S.

Most of us in this day and age are familiar with the Harry Potter series. An entire era itself, beginning with books in 1997 and ending with films in 2011. JK Rowling taught the whole world how to read with her phenomenal story. In a brief summary, Harry Potter, at age 11, is about as unhappy as a child can get. Both his parents have died, and he has been raised his whole life by Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, his aunt and uncle. Harry has been mistreated his whole life, and received special torment from his cousin. The day his life completely changes is when an abnormally large man named Hagrid comes to tell him he is a wizard. Harry has been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the very same institution his parents studied at. Throughout his tale, Harry is battling for the triumph of “good over evil.” Lord Voldemort, the darkest wizard known to man, seeks power and control of the wizarding world. He believes only purebloods, or those who only have magical bloodlines, are the only ones worthy to study magic. Any mixing of magical and muggle (non-magical) blood is unacceptable, and the punishment is always torture and death.

Throughout this well loved tale, Harry learns the true value of friendship; something he has never been able to experience before his arrival to Hogwarts. In his world at the Dursley’s, he was discriminated against for being different; for being “magical.” In the wizarding world, those with non-magical blood are discriminated against. Muggleborns especially (also called “mudbloods” in a more negative light) whom were born with magical abilities although both their parents are not wizards, receive awful torment. In some cases, two wizards have a child that posess no magical abilities, known as a Squib, and they are pressured by society to practice and practice magic while just hoping they can fit in. Lord Voldemort only values those who are pureblood, and seeks to eliminate anyone who doesn’t fit this standard. This theme is quite related to Nazi Germany, and even more recently in current politics with executive order issued by President Donald Trump, often referred to as the “Muslim Ban.” The many of us who have read and cherished Harry Potter feel a negative reaction to discrimination against those of different race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and more. In an article by Tom Jacobs (writer for Pacific Standard Magazine) a study was conducted that showed kids who read Harry Potter books became more tolerant of minority groups. The research was conducted in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, and explained how the Harry Potter books provided so many examples of unfairness towards other human beings (or even house-elves for that matter) that kids were able to attach them to real-life prejudice. The large, worldwide scale, pop culture phenomenon of Harry Potter contributed to the opinions on prejudice to so much of this generation all around the world. In our development stages we were exposed to this story and connected it to our realities, enabling us to be such an open minded group of people. I believe the story had a huge impact on our treatment towards fellow human beings.
1. Jacobs, T. (2014, July 29). Harry Potter and the Battle Against Bigotry. Retrieved February 05, 2017, from https://psmag.com/harry-potter-and-the-battle-against-bigotry-d5bb0d530152#.minzlk34c

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Internet and Pop Culture: How to Handle it Wisely? by Annur

A television show that was broadcast in only America kept the culture group relatively small. But a Web site can reach anyone with computer access. In the past, pop culture was spread through print, radio, movies or television. It now has penetrated this newest form of media, the Internet.

– Jennifer Farlor

It is interesting to see how a culture is being spread out by a vast network line- internet to the places around the globe. It’s also good to see how the internet has evolved over the time. For most people, the internet has everything that they need in life. The Internet has information that you need for school assignments, the internet provides the space for you to show off your talents such as YouTube and the internet also save your time to connect with people. What else can the internet offer? The benefits are limitless. So why do I think the internet is a cultural phenomenon and why it playssuch an important role in our modern society?

a-business-benefit-from-a-good-broadband-connection2The Internet is created as a medium to connect a user to a vast network line. The Internet is the most powerful invention and if it used in the good direction, it can prove to be very rewarding. It helps to ease our difficulties and fulfill our needs. But the problem that is arising now is people are too depending on the internet to the extent that we can’t survive without it. It’s integral and has become a major part of our life.

As I mentioned before, it’s evident that the internet has brought a lot of advantages and benefits to its user. But we can’t push away the facts that the countless negative effects that come along with it. Internet obsession could cause inactivity to its user. For example, teenagers who play online video games or scrolling their social media such as Instagram and Facebook all day. People who spend most of the time with devices and access to the internet would keep doing it and immersed in this virtual entertainment world.  People would tend to neglect their responsibilities in the real world and disregard people around them.

This would cause another negative effect which is lack face to face communication. Albeit the internet being the medium for people to stay connected with people in other places, but the reality is it creates the distance with people who are close to them. In addition, there’s a lot more negative effects caused by internet misconduct such as cyber bullying, sexual exploitation, disturbance of privacy, and countless health issues.

flat800x800070fIn regards to popular culture, the internet also has created a trend such as online marketing. I’m a business major and I’ve learned how powerful internet could be in the business world. Nowadays, everything is connected to the internet. We need to know that our information and our preferences as a customer are valuable in the business world. Every business wants to know what our demand is? What product would we prefer more than the other? What don’t we like about certain things? That is why sometimes our personal information is being sold to gain profit. That example has shown how our privacy is being invaded and how important internet plays its role in it.

All in all, these problems are pervasive in our society. This is the reason why I think the internet is a big cultural phenomenon in popular culture. It brings so many changes to the world; both goods and bads. Everyone would like the good part, who doesn’t like all the advantageous that this powerful invention has brought to the world? However, we can’t be ignorance about the negative effects that are happening around us. These can be avoided if we as the user know our rights and how to handle it wisely. It’s essential for everyone to learn about the limit of the internet and direct its usage in a positive way.

 

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Social Media in Culture by Nelida

Finding a topic for this was challenging, not because there’s no choices but because there are so many! We are surrounded by popular culture, it’s everywhere. One of the biggest popular culture trends that mostly everyone seems to be part of is the internet and social media. We have so many social media choices like Instagram, Facebook, snapchat, dating cites like Tinder and EHarmony and so much more! There is pretty much an app for anything these days. Social media and the internet has most definitely changed our culture. It would be interesting to closely look at it as a class because we all pretty much take part in it.

There are obviously many positives to social media. It has completely changed the way we live and interact. We can easily communicate with people anywhere in the world and this was not possible years back. We have unlimited ways to meet and interact with people over the internet and all the social medias. People have met love partners, made friends, and can keep in touch with whomever they want because of social media and the internet. We have accesses to a complete different world with just a touch of a finger. It’s crazy how much social media and the internet have developed in just a few short years. It has become a creative way of living. There are many more positives to social media and the internet that we could explore and find.

Along with positives there are also many negatives that come with the internet and social media. We have touched base on some of the negatives of social media in class. But there are so many more that affect each one of us every day. For example, we took that survey at the beginning of class of how much time we spend on phones and computers. Our average as a class was very high. The amount of time we spend on social media is a huge factor about the way it has changed our culture. We have unlimited interactions with people on social media but we have lost the interaction with people that are around us in person. We all seem to be addicted to the time we spend on social media and the internet and has changed the way that we live.

Social Media also tends to focus on the millennials. We are always up to date on everything but not from watching the news but from receiving the information from our social medias. It seems like there is a whole new life on social media. One of the many examples of social media is Snapchat. We can share videos of our lives to anyone. We can also watch snapchats of whoever we want even celebrities. It’s amazing in way because its makes you feel connected to these people and we can share what we see within seconds. It would be interesting to explore what the positives and negatives of this is are. Also, how it is affecting younger generations.

Social media and the internet have become a part of our culture. There are both cons and pros to the way it has changed the way our culture lives. As a class, we can explore so much of this because it surrounds us every day. Regardless if we all use it or not it affects us. The development of social media has helped us expand our communication in endless ways. It has become a space where people can be who they want to be and say whatever they want to say. We can interact in so many ways now and that is amazing. However, there are negatives to everything and social media and the internet have some. The impact of social media and internet is worth studying because it has completely changed our culture and the way we live.

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Media Outlets and Forced Perspectives by Megan

The media coverage stations have a huge influence on the public’s reactions, and with this most recent election and events that started appearing on the news especially this last year with the protests on a wide variety of topics that have been gaining more and more attention on our newsfeeds with Facebook Live, and the Top Trending hashtags on Twitter, thisis becoming more and more obvious and alarming.canadian-prime-ministers-office-asks-fox-news-to-retract-misleading-tweet-about-quebec-mosque-shooting

My family has not had cable or TV channels on our TV since wemoved down to Medford four years ago, we just use it for Netflix and video games. When I go onto Facebook or I hang out with my friends and they say “Oh my gosh, did you hear about what happened yesterday?” After hearing about any incident that has made the news, I watch the news reports of what happened first, and see what they have to say. Then from there I do investigating of my own by reading different articles from online newspapers and see what they have to say. Only after I have seen different videos and read a variety of different articles will I watch the footage on Youtube. Upon watching the different videos I often see and hear information that was left out of the news reports and news articles. I have always found this slightly infuriating and curious at the same time. If they’re supposed to report the news to us, why is it that they don’t give us the full story?

I do not watch the news regularly as I stated, but this has been something that I have noticed has been this pattern of the stories that get out not having all of the information. I could understand if a shooting just happened that the hosts say “we are continuing to get updates as time goes on,” which they do, but when they report this story that happened the day/night before and they do not provide context, nor the statements of “this is just what we have been told so far, there could be more information that we do not have yet,” but so far I have yet to see much of that.

Another thing about news reporting that I have noticed from the little that I have seen is that when there is a group of news reporters all having a conversation about an event together. The topic is actually discussed and sometimes interesting points are brought in which I appreciate. The potential problem with the groups is what also makes the segment of time so great; it’s unscripted. While getting the opinions of the news anchors is helpful, sometimes what they say in reaction is just as shocking as what has taken place.

Another example of something that I have found slightly disturbing has been that when the report of the Quebec Mosque shooting happened, many of the news reports said that it was a Moroccan man that was the shooter, and when it was discovered that he was actually a French-Canadian, the articles that had been initially written and posted that included the false statements remained on the site after it was discovered that the information had been false for some time. Another example would be how it was stated by Trump’s press secretary blatantly lied about the turn out to the inauguration; it was quickly announced all over Facebook of course that it was an inaccurate statement with the photos from Obama’s inauguration compared to Trump’s to prove it. An example from a few years back that was pulled as a prank was when the news reporter was given false names to read out while talking about the plane crash of flight 214. The four names supposedly being given were “Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk, and Bang Ding Ow. I understand that this information was provided by someone who was inside the news crew, but the fact that this was not caught before she started to talk about it while on Live news seems a little surprising. One would think that something like that would have been caught and double checked before letting her announce it. I understand the need to provide information as soon as it comes in, but is information not verified before being aired?

These details are the ones that makes me wonder exactly how much is wrong with our media system, and I would love to get some more insight and hear other’s opinions on what they see in/with our media outlets, see if they have any issues with them as I do. Part of the reason I dislike the news stations and reports are because I can never tell if the news being reported is fake or not. I will take the event seriously, but I refuse to listen to the details because I can’t say if that’s the truth or not. I refuse to go around spouting what they have said if I am not 100% positive of the details. I am always one to ask where people got their information if they are telling me about an event that happened, and I would be curious to know if anyone else does, or perhaps to discuss the importance of it. It is always necessary to talk about what is going on in our world, but it should be accurate information that we are given or to use a harsher word, “fed.”

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Effects of Video Games by Yu

Image result for video games and pop culture

Gaming started in the ancient days when the ancestors could hold events, which included rope jumping, wrestling, boxing among others. Today, technological advancements have made it easy to play games on computers and other electronic devices such as mobile phones. Video games cover a wider field than physical games. The article gives the various examples and the description of the impacts of video games to the pop culture.

Video games entail many activities that take place in today’s world. Therefore, playing video games may evoke commonalities of different forms and various experiences. The society views video games as a great media monster other than a separate media that may also have positive effects. Examples of the commonly played games include League of Legends, Minecraft, a world of Warcraft, Dota, and over watch.

Playing these games has various benefits to both the players and the society in a wider perspective. In the case of the league of legends, one gets the conviction of becoming a better person after winning the competitive game. Therefore, it is proof that video games help to build on one’s confidence. Additionally, these games equip one with the problem-solving skills, which is an element that may help to create a prosperous society (Granic, Lobel & Engels, 2014).

Video games also give the players the courage to take risks. For one to win a game there must be the willingness to risk and games like league of legends only reward those who do not play safely. Risk taking attitude can help prepare great entrepreneurs who may build the society economically. According to research from different schools, there was a revelation that pupils and student who play video games have a high level of concentration in their class work.(Granic, Lobel & Engels, 2014). When playing the games, one has to be keen and focus on winning hence, boosting the concentration level.

When playing league of legends, one has to make quick decisions to win. A study held in 2011 revealed that twenty-five percent of the league of legends addicts developed a high speed in making decisions in their daily lives after introducing themselves to the game. It is an essential aspect that can help in the growth and development of society (Boot, Blakely & Simons, 2011). Consequently, playing video games helps in expanding the offline social lives since the youths who take time playing also get the time to discuss these games and hence make friends. Kids and the teenagers are the common addicts of video games and the benefits they get from these games can bring change to the whole community.

Despite the benefits video games, there is also the dark side of it. Most of these games are violent, which can poison the minds of the addicts. It can lead to the creation of a violent community. Additionally, the video games discourage physical exercises, resulting in diseases caused by lack of exercises such as obesity (Greenfield, 2014).

Due to the many benefits of playing video games, the society should not discourage this practice but instead, find ways of reducing the negative impacts it may cause to the community. Parents should monitor their kids when playing these games just as they administer television watching. Also, the addicts should be made aware of the health effects of video games and encouraged to balance video games and physical exercises for healthy living.

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The Idea of Celebrity by Hollie

The fascination our culture holds with celebrity speaks to an intrinsic part of human nature. The idea that there are people unlike you, who are interesting and compelling and mysterious. At its root, this fascination isn’t a bad thing but it can be taken to extremes when we forget to remember that these charmed people are human, with human ideas and feelings and experiences. In her Ted Talk, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love discusses the unattainable work we put onto people we have dubbed as creative geniuses and furthers her idea by insinuating that we all have our genius moments.

Thinking in terms of artistry, each artist has within them a moment, or moments of being one with their art. This can be seen in a transcending song like Hello by Adele or an art piece with a message like Beyonce’s Lemonade album. Those artists gifted us with a part of themselves and because of this their art was able to reach across boundaries and make us feel. The result, in regards to popular culture is that we push and push until they make more like it. By doing this we separate them as individual humans and instead label them into something that produces things that make us connect and feel. Basically, we demand that they give more and more of themselves at that level, for our pleasure and our feelings. We are consumer centric, as soon as we see something we like, we badger it until there is nothing left of it and then remove on to the next star that catches our eye and repeat the cycle.

One great example of this phenomenon is the singer-songwriter, Mariah Carey. After her comeback with The Emancipation of Mimi, in 2005/2006 people flocked to her and worshipped her again but as soon as she came out with other songs that were still good quality music but weren’t as emotionally charged as that album, people tried to replace her. When Ariana Grande came on this scene, there was an abundance of articles claiming she was the new MC. This highlights the sexism that women in the entertainment industry face, that of that once you reach a certain age, you will be replaced. It also showcases how we, as a society, are always searching for the next big thing and when a star that we know can produce out of this world material doesn’t, we are quick to replace them.

This is relevant to the study of popular culture because it questions our consumer centric mentality and the consequences of that. Because of the rise of technology, everyone now has a voice and think that their ideas not only matter but are the best ones. This is dangerous because it changes how we view other people, we are forgetting that the image fed to us through the media is that of an actual human being and this outlook has shifted how we treat the average person. Online, there are “trolls” who demean and harass people they have never met and will probably never meet for little to no reason. We have lost the ability to recognize that no matter what, people are people, with wants and emotions that can be affected by how they are treated.

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Obsession with celebrity by Panicha

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I chose my topic about an obsession that young people have with celebrities. In other word, this is known as Celebrity worship syndrome. It is an obsessive addictive disorder in which a person becomes overly involved with the details of a celebrity life. Many people are obsessed over popular culture factors, such as films, magazines, or fashion trends. This can be very unhealthy for young people who try to imitate their favorite celebrities or pop stars. However, I did not want to attack any of them in personal. Those who do good things and give back to the community should be the ones that we should look up to. On the other hand, those who did not do as good as others, or have bad reputations should be more concerned.

First, I think some celebrities can have very strong influence to many young teenagers these day. For example, Kylie Jenner and her makeup style. I did not say that she is doing bad things or her makeup is not pretty. But she has influenced many young people to do what she does and this is not very good to hear about. Many teenagers are trying to become like Kylie Jenner, and they are losing the identity in themselves. We must admit that the strong use of social media plays an important role in spreading this type of obsession as well. The influences that celebrities have on young people can have huge impact in their actions or lives.

Second, most celebrities serve as both an object of disgust, which some people might see and dislike them, and also of worship, for those who are obsessed with them. Therefore, these celebrities represent what we strive to be and yet what we dislike most about ourselves and by our society. I could say some of them set the wrong standard of beauty or achievement for many of us. They encourage young children to be “beautiful” in the wrong way. In addition, they have created a new standard or a trend that affects many young children. However, many people still worship them and still imitate what they do or what they wear.  I think the majority of people who imitate their favorite celebrities are people of young age rather than adults.

There is almost reality in what is being shown to people on both social media and magazines. Many celebrities are always shown on many online sources about having the perfect body and you never really see what is actually is behind the scenes. Some celebrities are bad influences and some even encourage drugs and alcohol. According to New York Post, the poll shows that Snoop Dogg has the most photos that contain drugs and alcohol. In addition, Kate Moss, one of the most famous models once said ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.’ Therefore, the wrong way of diets are always and still being promoted and many young people feel pressured into looking like the celebrities. Most young people set their goals on being rich and famous. There are a very few people who become successful in these industries. Real life struggles are never shown in any media coverage which gives people an unrealistic perspective.

As a result, the influences of celebrities could give both advantages and disadvantages to many people disregard of their ages. This is what the society should be more concerned and think carefully in doing what they see online.

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