Shoes as a Culture By Anthony

Shoes as a Culture

If I asked a random person if they knew what a “Sneakerhead” was, most might give a confused look and deduce that it is someone that has to do with shoes. In modern culture, a “Sneakerhead” could be defined as a person who collects rare, vintage, and highly sought after shoes. To many people familiar with Portland, they commonly associate Portland as having close ties to sneaker empires such as Nike and Adidas. Portland is home to Nike and Adidas’ United States headquarters. Nike’s influence on fashion and pop culture is astounding and has forever changed the shoe industry. This sort of subculture of shoe collectors has changed the purpose of a sneaker from an athletic use into a fashion statement. With the “sneakerhead” culture, it raises bigger questions about the power and influence that fashion moguls have on the individual’s spending, desires, and choices.

To give more insight to this vast industry, it is necessary to better elaborate on its meaning. Most commonly a “Sneakerhead” is referred to as a person who collects rare and expensive shoes. Most of the collected shoes are or at one point were intended to use for basketball or some other sport. One can see the rise of the shoe industry paralleled with the career of basketball legend Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan’s signature shoes produced by Nike since the mid-eighties have revolutionized the way people are fascinated with shoes. Jordan’s brand is far more lucrative than ever anticipated and in 2014 the Jordan brand did 2.6 billion dollars in sales according to Forbes.com. In this “Sneakerhead” culture it is revered that Nike and more specifically Jordan’s signature shoes are at the epicenter of people’s fascinations. With that being said, Nike and Jordan re-release shoes from the eighties and nineties with small changes and variations and different color schemes as well. They call this the process of making a shoe “retro.”  For example, models of shoes that Jordan wore in the nineties might get continually released in new colors every handful of years and this is interesting because these styles from that time period are continually reproduced and carried on. One might say that it is normal for people to have multiple pairs of shoes that they wear on a daily basis and this is true. For “Sneakerheads” however, a typical “Sneakerhead’s” shoe collection might range from twenty pairs of shoes to hundreds of pairs of shoes. Again, a “Sneakerhead” might rarely even wear these shoes and just keep them in a box, unworn for years. The rarer the shoe, without being worn, the better for people that collect shoes. Nike often produces these shoes in small numbers compared to their other products and this only increases the rarity of the shoe. In addition, this shoe culture has given rise to a massive re-sell market, in which consumers buy these sneakers for double or triple the cost of what the shoe was sold for from Jordan or Nike.

According to Forbes, Michael Jordan makes 100 million dollars a year from shoe sales and only made 94 million in his whole basketball career as a whole. As stated, the shoe business is a highly lucrative industry and his given rise to many different markets associated with the shoes. Again, many of these shoes are bought at cost by customers and then resold for double or triple the price depending on the shoe. There are many reselling avenues in which one could buy used or new shoes on, such as eBay or Flightclub.com, just to name a few. People can and have made livings off of re-selling shoes and this does not go unnoticed by the big shoe companies. Much of Jordan’s retro shoes are now retailing from around $160-$220 and is still fetching profit from people re-selling them. Customers are willing to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars for shoes and the question that it raises for me is when does the shoe start to become less inelastic and people start to steer away from purchasing these shoes. In this multibillion dollar industry, it can be viewed in both the producer-centric and consumer-centric models of analyzing culture. In the producer-centric model, Nike is producing shoes end on end and is receiving huge amounts of profits from designs of shoes that were made in the eighties and nineties and continue to reproduce the same popular shoes. In the shoe industry, Nike can just make a new color of the same shoe they have been producing for years and “Sneakerheads” will go crazy for it and in that sense the producer has the power and influence to create its own shoe culture. In this producer-centric market, shoe companies can just continue to raise the prices of shoes and people will still buy them. On the contrary, one could vaguely argue that it is consumer-centric aspect of culture in that Nike and Adidas are only producing these shoes because the consumer likes them so much and that it’s what the consumers are willing to pay for their shoes.

With the shoe industry being so prominent, I find its commentary on people’s choices and desires interesting as well. In many respects, the rise of shoes and their meaning is more than just basketball and athletic gear. Shoes have turned into fashion statements and transformed into cultural and fashion symbols. For me personally, growing up it was always a good feeling coming to school with the latest or newest shoes and I think that speaks to the greater idea that what we choose to wear promotes something. Whatever we wear, it elucidates a certain lifestyle or culture. When people choose to put two hundred dollar shoes on and wear them in this day and age, which represents what they value and what they choose to represent with their clothes.

Again, in the last thirty to forty years, the creation of a sneaker culture has grown right in front of our eyes with its roots being heavily influenced by consumerism and culture’s tendency to idolize our possessions and symbols. This not only speaks to the shoe industry, but to the overall consumerism prevalent in America. The idea that more is better and better represents more respect amongst others is really the underlying idea here that contributes to American pop culture. This facet of popular culture is another way in which the possessions that individual’s own represent something more to the individual. I would like to emphasize that I am not saying people only buy possessions to earn respect. In fact, many people buy these sneakers to just wear, to pay homage to previous fashions, and to just collect for their leisure. I do not condemn consumerism, but I am simply recognizing the relationship between possessions and individual’s choices and the culture they promote.jordan-crying-sneakerhead

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Smartphones by Alex

Smartphones as Tools for Cultural Change

     Man made materials, inventions, scientific and technological discoveries have shaped human culture. Mankind and society have been shaped by the inventions of people who strive to improve modern life, and accordingly innovations mold the notions of how society’s work. According to Muzaffar Iqbal, “modern technologies are made possible by modern science which originated in the seventeenth century and which opened new vistas for humanity to use—or exploit” (130). Even before the emergence of modern science, the invention such as the wheel and the plow, which allowed for easier transportation and an efficiency for agricultural production respectively, modified modes of living stemmed from, “certain inherent needs of a particular mode of living” (ibid 130). It may be argued that the current emergence of the personal smartphone has a transforming effect of western culture. As the smartphone owes its emergence to the invention of the internet in the 1960s, the invention of the personal computer, and the breakthrough of electricity, it is notable that the smartphone was derived from other innovations which promoted other technological advancements.

     According to the Pew Research Center, eighty-six percent of individuals aged between eighteen and twenty-nine own a smartphone, and sixty-eight percent of adults own one as well (Weise).  Mobile technology is projected to grow in the coming years, stating that about 70 percent of the world population will own a smartphone by the year 2020, according to a report conducted by Ericsson, a world leader in telecommunications technology (“Ericsson Mobility Report”). Smartphones have constructed how individuals socialize and go about their day to day life, consequently a cultural shift emerged since the introduction of the smartphone. Information has now evolved to become quickly produced and transmitted at an up to speed rate thanks to the smartphone. Since the smartphone serves as a platform for a wide range of  possible functionalities, it is important to ask how these functionalities change individual lives, and the culture of the individual?

     The smartphone still serves as a communication device, much like the regular telephone, offering the function of texting and phone calls; however, the smartphone has allowed communication technologies to change. Applications such as social media landscapes have allowed users to immerse themselves in virtual communities, where people can connect and share information, ideas, and other content. Amongst social media, current smartphones support video telecommunication services, allowing individuals to communicate in real time through video signals. Due to these new forms of communication “for the first time, the amount of data sent with mobile devices exceeded the sum of transmitted voice data” (Vanderbilt). It is apparent that smartphones have changed the way in which people socialize, moreover smartphones have changed the notion of socializing through these technological advancements which allowed for both the emergence and diminishment of communication means. Because humans are profoundly social beings, it is important to be aware how objects constitute how we socialize, and how these objects create norms for communication, interaction, and socialization.

Another application for the smartphone is the quick accessibility of the internet;  albeit the internet revolutionizing the digital age in itself, the newfound accessibility allows users to have instantaneous access to information, data, and other resources provided by the internet. The internet has allowed users to obtain real time information, as opposed to the slower means of obtaining news through the television,or the newspaper. Even Social media, powered by the internet, has transformed to become people’s form of news reception, allowing for constant and instantaneous broadcasting of current events. According to Berry College professor Matt J Duffy, “the introduction of smartphones represents a revolution in the ability of a journalist — and any other observer — to gather information and quickly disseminate it” (Duffy).  A prominent example is the “unrest in the Middle East in 2011, known as the Arab Spring, […] fueled in part by the ability of protesters to take high-quality photos and videos on smartphones and upload them to Facebook and Twitter without use of a computer” (Lellouche).

     Lastly, smartphones have integrated entertainment platforms such as movie streaming services, phone games, and other various applications, redefining the entertainment market. The evolution of Netflix and its consequent success through the introduction of on demand video streaming through the internet occurred during the same time smartphone sales began to grow. Currently, Netflix is the second top grossing application in the apple store, the music streaming service  Pandora and Spotify ranks  3rd and 9th respectively, and the other top ten grossing applications are phone games.

     Smartphones have grown to become commonplace in western culture, shaping the entertainment industry, how individuals communicate amongst themselves, and how people receive information. It is important to be aware how a technological advancement such as the smartphone, can have an empowering effect on how individuals go about their day, and how a technological advancement such as the smartphone can shape a society.

Works Cited

Duffy, Matt J., “Smartphones in the Arab Spring.” IPI Report, summer 2011, International  Press Institute. Web. 4 Feb. 2017.

Ericsson Mobility Report: On The Pulse Of The Networked Society. Rep. Stockholm:        Ericsson, (2015). web.

Iqbal, Muzaffar. “In The Image Of The Machine.” Islam & Science (17037603) 8.2 (2010):    129-142. Academic Search Premier. Web. 4 Feb. 2017.

Lellouche, Michele. “Smartphones.” St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, edited by Thomas Riggs, 2nd ed., vol. 4, St. James Press, 2013, pp. 598-599. Gale Virtual Reference  Library

Weise, Elizabeth. “Smartphones reaching saturation among Millennials.” USA Today.  N.p., 29 Oct. 2015. Web. 4 Feb. 2017.

Vanderbilt, Tom. “The Call Of The Future.” Wilson Quarterly 36.2 (2012): 52-56.  Academic Search Premier. Web. 5 Feb. 2017.

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Snapchat and Culture by Kristi

For our topic selection, I am going to be proposing we discuss Snapchat, and it’s affects on our current pop culture. Snapchat is a social media app in which users can send disappearing pictures and videos to other users, or to their “story”, where the image or video will last in app for 24 hours. When sending images, users have the option of making the image last for anywhere from 1-10 seconds. After the time selected has passed, the image or video is gone, and can no longer be seen by the recipient. There are of course ways in which these images can be seen after their expiration, such as taking a screenshot. However, the sender of the image is alerted of this screenshot when it happens.

Despite the app’s launch in 2011, Snapchat has become a global phenomenon in recent years. In the past year, the app accumulated 158 million daily active users, over double the amount of daily active users just two years prior in 2014 (Mcguire, 2017). Of these Snapchat users, 7 out of 10 are millennials (“Mediakix, 2016).

Snapchat is an app that provides instant gratification. If you want a friend to see what you are doing in real time, and you want to know if they see the image. With social media trends like this, we are more intertwined with other’s lives than ever. With the culture of sharing created by social media, people’s entire lives are on display for all of their friends at all times.

The main feature separating Snapchat from other instant messaging platforms is their “self-destructing” images and photos. This feature has made the app the go-to way to send nude photos. In fact, market research from the UK found that an estimated 50% of all 18-30 year old users have received nude pictures. In addition to this, 67% of the same age group has received pictures containing “inappropriate poses or gestures” (Piwek, 2016). Though Snapchat will inform their users if the image or video has been screenshot, there are ways to trick the app into not knowing what has been sent, meaning provocative photos that users send could potentially get into the hands of someone who you do not want seeing those images, without the user even knowing. There are apps made to do this. In addition, there have been glitches in the past, such as in 2013 when there was glitch where keeping one’s finger on the screen while taking a screenshot would make it so the original sender wouldn’t receive the screenshot notification (Diaz, 2013).

Many Snapchats that are sent are provocative in another ways. Snapchats being taken while the user is driving was a common enough occurrence, the app added a disclaimer of “don’t snap and drive” into the app. Snapchats being sent while intoxicated are commonplace. Snapchats are frequently a platform to show oneself partying, and being irresponsible. I believe this is due to the fact that these posts will only stay online for 24 hours, and thus make users feel a false sense of security. With the platform being used mostly by millenials, there isn’t the perception of Snapchat being a place where one’s mom or grandmother are going to be seeing it, either, unlike Facebook. Snapchat has become a seemingly safe space for provocative and rowdy image and videos.

untitledSnapchat has grown in popularity dramatically in the last few years. I believe that this topic would be an interesting one to explore in our course to see how the increase in instant gratification and false sense of security has affected the way in which we interact with our friends. The incriminating content that is put onto the app could be taken without the users even knowing it is gone, yet the users use it anyway. Users have lower their inhibitions, and become significantly bolder and more open with their friends on a daily basis.

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Reality TV Analysis by Lidia

Reality TV in America

When I channel surf on a regular weekend afternoon, to see if anything will catch my attention to watch while the children are sleeping, these are usually my options: okay movies, random sports, okay tv shows, and so much reality tv. When people think of reality tv, they automatically think of the Kardashians, the Real Housewives, or the Bachelor, etc. None of these were playing because it was a weekend afternoon, but there were still numerous amount of less popular reality tv shows that people sometimes don’t realize are reality tv. Here in the US we are bombarded with constant obsessing over how other’s handle their lives. Reality tv is that portal of looking into someone else’s life without it having an impact on our own, and people love that. If they didn’t, reality tv wouldn’t be as popular as it is.

To begin with, one definition of reality tv “is the genre of programming in which the everyday routines of ‘real life’ people [..] are followed closely by the cameras” (Glouner, Flores, Tomback). This definition mostly refers to the celebrity reality shows, such as Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Another definition is: “television programs in which real people are continuously filmed, designed to be entertaining rather than informative”. This definition fits the other kinds of reality tv, which some people don’t initially think of as reality, that there are. Some of those kinds of reality tv shows being: prank-reality (Punk’d), game shows (Jeopardy), talent hunts (American Idol), and makeovers (What Not to Wear). These shows usually are about someone or something new each episode, unlike celebrity reality where the main focus is the life/lives of someone or a group of people.

According to an article by three authors, Glouner, Flores, Tomback, the first aired family-life reality tv show was in the 70s called “An American Family” with the Loud family in Santa Barbara, California. This show became popular because “[the] Loud family quickly captivated the hearts of America because it showed [the viewers] a version of their own reality” (Glouner, Flores, Tomback). Viewers found themselves identifying with this family, not realizing that majority of the time, their “life” is scripted and dramatized because the real environment of a family is naturally boring. If people were to watch this family on an average non-scripted routine day, viewers would almost immediately tune out, due to the lack of drama and excitement.

Reality tv is a contradicting tv genre because it lacks the aspect of reality, though that very word is in its name. Through many exposures and reality checks, people have come to realize that reality tv is highly choreographed and scripted because there is no way someone’s life is or can be that dramatic every single day. Even shows like 16 and Pregnant have a lot scripted aspects to make and keep the viewer engaged in the life of this 16 year old that found out she was pregnant is going to have a baby. I have personally known teen parents and though their lives were hard and tv dramatic at first, once things got situated, which regularly be well before she even started showing she was pregnant, things came back to their natural flow. The “drama” wouldn’t spike again until after she had the baby because she was trying to adjust to her having to care for this infant who now depends on her to survive, which is hard even for adult women who have to adjust to this new motherhood lifestyle. So for drama to last all throughout a girl’s pregnancy and after, is highly unrealistic.

Even though reality tv hasn’t been part of America’s tv programing since between the 50s and 60s, and didn’t rise in popularity until the 70s, today, it is one of the most popular tv genres. People crave for drama to what seems like realistic life events, but in order for the entertainment industry to keep up with that viewers want, they seem to have produced and promote a “false sense of reality in American society” (Glouner, Flores, Tomback). People forget that what they are watching is not the actual reality of what happens in a famous family or when meeting a person that can be a potential romantic partner. The over dramatized and enhanced reality of reality tv gives a notion that though these events are staged and scripted, they still have a false potential of being real. The majority of Americans  strive everyday to have an apparent lifestyle and/or attitude of reality celebrities, like the Kardashians, though a lot, if not all, is fake. The amount and kinds of  expectations and influences that reality tv has created today would be interesting to discuss and learn about in class.

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Video Game Culture by Michael

An interesting phenomenon that is present in popular culture is that of video games. Video games are a form of interactive storytelling that has rapidly grown with the development of new technology throughout the world. Each video game that is created is created with some sort of purpose, either for the one making the game, or the one viewing the game. Many games have some sort of message behind them and their world, that can be noticed to the viewer, and give meaning. Video games are also sometimes used to form communities, where players can all enjoy and experience the world together,

The video game industry has been growing each year as more and more people become exposed to what it is, and what makes people enjoy playing it. A video game nowadays can be compared more to a movie, where the actors are off doing something in their world. However, the difference lies in the interactivity, where the users can actually impact how the story plays out. Video games also come in many different genres, and can sometimes be used artistically to show traces of the developer’s feelings through the game. Each game is different from the next, and there is a good chance that someone can find a game that they can relate to or find interesting.

The cultural idea of Hegemony as discussed by Storey also holds when applied to the gaming industry. The culture is very much a negotiation between the sides of the developers and their audience. Many modern games are also allowing the general public to test out a game while it’s being made in order to receive input on it, and make something closer to what the people want to see. This is their way of creating something following their original ideas for the game, but also incorporating the ideas of the audience. This can also be applied in reverse, where someone who is playing a game sees something out of it, and then they make some other game based off of the idea. This was commonly seen with mobile apps that made generic clicking games, however each one had a slightly different theme around it. They saw something that people liked, and each made their own take on it, to please the consumers.

Oftentimes video games are also created with a focus on, or relation to current events at the time it was being created, similar to books influence. For instance, the Lord of the Rings book series was influenced by World War 1, which was impactful to the author. One recent example for video games is a game titled “Mr.President!”, which is very clearly based on the recent US election. The focus of the game is that the player controls a bodyguard for the president, and is supposed to jump in front of a bullet heading towards him. The game is very simple, but it clearly shows a relation to current events, and also in a sense gives the person a choice if they want to sacrifice themselves to save the president’s life.

The use of video games has also been improved, and impactful enough that they aren’t always used for entertainment either. People sometimes use trivia games or academic games to improve their knowledge, and simulation games to improve various skills. Certain companies and schools implement their own video games to use as a teaching mechanic, so that the person might have a better chance at retaining the knowledge needed later on. For instance it is very common to see people using typing games as a method of becoming faster at typing fast and accurately.

I believe that a topic involving video games would be very worthwhile and important to study, given the fact that not only are video games something that is used for entertainment in popular culture, but also used as a learning tool. They also provide meaning to the audience very similarly to books, television shows, and movies. The one major thing that separates video games from the rest however is the layer of interactivity with the audience, and actually encouraging choices to be made, and to impact the rest of the game. Video games are not as simple as they are commonly made out to be.

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Topic Selection

Brianna

Topic Selection Paper

I have been brainstorming for the longest on what to type about for my Topic Selection Paper and as I do this I draw blanks. The different subjects related to pop culture that I think effect me most may have absolutely nothing to do with what anyone else would think has to do with pop culture. While I think my interests do not contain the same excitement for everyone else I feel it enforces me to acknowledge that I am self conscious about the things that make me most happy or that I actually enjoy being a part of the phenomenon, which makes culture popular. Topics such as astrology, music, and using on-line applications such a as tinder are indeed apart of pop culture and are also apart of my everyday life and more than likely everyone else to a degree.

An example of something culturally viral in our worlds to me is how we interact with each other in person and online. on tinder we have two options: to swipe right (attracted to another person) or swipe left (move on to the next individual within the app). Although we feel we have control on whom we will or will not talk to I feel there is still a missed opportunity when you haven’t actually met someone in person. Based on what pictures are posted of that individual and a mini biography about themselves we can make a sound judgement for ourselves. This also creates a kind of quick and cruel world with rejection, but the fact that there will be more options after you have swiped left keeps our confidence up and our willingness to use the application.

A topic on the rise amongst people of all ages is astrology. Basically astrology is us as humans looking to the planets for guidance. Believing in holistic healing or certain energies of each planet interacting with other to affect us in some way here on earth has shown to help others map out there daily lives or understand themselves better. Many people are skeptic to this idea that planets are able to determine our stages inline and who we are just by knowing the date and time and where we were born. Astrology has been made popular by popular sites or magazine or something to read as a blurb for the day or just for entertainment purposes to not be taken too seriously. Astrology isn’t a foundation to be used to predict your future, it is more of a tool to guide you through your life.

Pop culture has so many topics to touch on and the fact that it is apart of our everyday functionality almost its hard to pin point just one topic.

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Tattoo By Zhuoran Chen

Tattoo Culture

According to a report done by the Pew Research Center, 36 percent of Americans aged 18-25 have at least one tattoo, that means one third of American teenagers have at least one tattoo. As well, there are more than 147 million tattoo related searches each month on Google. These show tattoos have burst onto pop culture and have taken over the current media scenery. “TV shows based on the tattoo industry are springing up on major networks, social media pages for tattoo culture are numbering in the millions of followers, and you would be hard pressed to take a walk on the street and not see several people sporting leg tats or arm sleeves. Not to mention all the pieces you see on the beach! Tattoos have become a mainstream part of society.” (Carlsen, 2014)

“In terms of tattoos on actual bodies, the earliest known examples were for a long time Egyptian and were present on several female mummies dated to c. 2000 B.C. But following the more recent discovery of the Iceman from the area of the Italian-Austrian border in 1991 and his tattoo patterns, this date has been pushed back a further thousand years when he was carbon-dated at around 5,200 years old.” (Lineberrry, 2007) As we can see, Tattoo as a pop culture, it still has a long history.

In the modern world, tattoo is not only a representative of culture, but also a kind of art. The tattoo is no longer quite the symbol of rebellion and subculture it once was. The New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman argued in 1995 that tattoos were most interesting to the art world because of their “outsider status,” even comparing them to “self-taught art, prison art, and art of the insane.”

Even thought, still in some places, tattoo mean bad. Lots of Asian people cannot accept tattoo, especially in China, I live in a big city in China, which means people there should be easy to accept new things. However, only very few people have tattoo, as well, most parent cannot stand their kids have tattoo on their body. For example, not only one friends told me, if they have tattoo their parents will kick them out of home. That is serious problem for Chinese. Almost all parents think tattoo means blackguardly, only hooliganism and gangsterdom have tattoo. I would say, most of these ideology is from movies. There are hundreds of action movies coming out every year. Almost all of them showing tattoo on bad guys, and for the good side, they always dress nice and talk nice, whoever have tattoos, always talk rude and act bad. Movie is always one of the way to show ideology.

“If you look through art history, there’s always an art form that’s emerging that’s not as accepted,” says Lee Anne Hurt Chesterfeld, a curator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. (Schwad, 2015) However, from the data at the beginning, we can see, people are starting accepting tattoo culture and more and more teenagers have tattoos in their body. Tattoo is getting accepted by increasingly people , it will keep growing more popular.

 

 

 

 

Reference:

(n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/12/tattoos-high-art/416769/

 

  1. (2017, February 03). 45 inspirational examples of tattoo art. Retrieved February 06, 2017, from http://www.creativebloq.com/illustration/tattoo-art-designs-712379

 

Thobo-Carlsen, M. (n.d.). How Tattoos Went From Subculture to Pop Culture. Retrieved February 06, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mik-thobocarlsen/how-tattoos-went-from-sub_b_6053588.html

 

Tattoos. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2017, from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/tattoos-144038580/

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