Monday, May 7, 2012

“Television Culture”

In chapter nine “Television Culture”, by John Fiske, Fiske focuses on how television makes meanings that serve the dominant interest in society, and how it circulates those meanings between varieties of social groups that establish its audiences.  Fiske breaks it down into several sections, the first is the Codes of television which is used to generate and circulate meanings in and for a specific culture. These codes can often times be placed within dialogue in order to give a more “real life” feel to the audience. The codes are broken down into three sections, level one is “reality” which refers to appearance, dress, makeup sound, gesture, and expression. Level 2 “Representation” which refers to the camera lighting editing music, etc. which helps shapes representations. Level 3 “Ideology” is organized so that the act is socially acceptable. All of the tools used serve an important purpose, such as camera work, which is used to give a perfect and specific scene so that the viewer can completely understand what is going on. Editing has to do with how much time different characters are given. Music links scenes, and helps the viewer to identify certain characters or plots. We see this a lot when a movie shows a villain, the music has a deep and dark sound, so the viewer knows this particular characters role in the act. Casting is important because the characters represent coding’s of ideology. Setting and costume are seen as codes which correlate with ideological codes of class, heroism, villainy, morality, and attractiveness. Make up, helps to merge the codes by giving a detailed understanding of specific characters. The dialogue correlates with the action. Dialogue is used to affect the viewer’s sympathy, while the action pursues it. All of these tools are used as codes which brings the viewer a deeper understanding to the plot.  We see how all of these codes are used in order make sense of the program to the viewers by making them feel a resemblance with their own lifestyle, it is legitimizing the dominant ideology.


First off I am not a fan of working on group projects, usually because of others in the group, however this time the blame was on me. I had a lot of conflicts with my schedule so I made it a little difficult for my group, sorry guys. I have never been a fan of baseball in general, why I picked “Moneyball,” I have no idea. I must say however, I learned a lot about the sport of baseball in general that I have now taken some interest in the sport. My part of the project was in relation to some of the racial aspects that the sport went through, in order to help understand how it has become such a globalized sport. I wanted to understand what the hype is about and why there are so many movies relating to the history and baseball. After doing my research for my part of the project it came to my realization that it is indeed a symbolical representation of America. The history of baseball from the Negro leagues to what it is now has drastically changed my view on the sport. Baseball was seen as Americas sport, and 60 to 70 years ago, they took that very seriously. I decided to show a trailer from the movie “The Perfect Game” which is about the first Mexican little league team, and the challenges that they faced, such as being smaller than their opponents as well as dealing with the racial remarks that were made towards them. The clip is a great opener to how baseball in general correlates with America’s history with discrimination. The idea that people of color playing baseball in the same league as whites was seen as absurd, just like Billie Beans method in the movie was seen. His method gave a whole outlook on the recruitment process in baseball. He changed the way baseball teams were molded. The fact that he solely looked at statistics alone for certain areas the Oakland A’s needed improvement for, was the reason the team made the drastic improvements that they managed to pull off during that season. He did not look for all around good ball players, but players who simply performed well in a specific position, and inserted them in the team to fulfill those needs. His method, known as Moneyball has changed the thought process of society, it resembles the way America has changed its social system after the civil rights movement.  All of this occurred in order to transform baseball into what it is today. It is now known globally and very popular in countries such as Japan or even the Caribbean. In my presentation I mentioned how baseball was once looked at as an American identification, to now being one of the symbols of the American dream. One of my favorite parts of this assignment was simply watching the movie; it has a great story and encouraged me to dig into the history of baseball for this assignment.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

10 and sex

In the movie “10” directed by Blake Edwards, the idea of sex first appears to be as something open. As I discussed in my last blog, the idea of sex being so open, first started in the late 1960’s. The movie was made in 1979, which displays a great example of the different mindsets that I discussed previously. It is about a man named George Webber having somewhat of a midlife crisis after his 42nd birthday. One day when he was driving around the town (Beverly Hills) he notices a woman in the vehicle next to him. When he sees her he is immediately captured by her beauty. His infatuation convinced him to follow her all the way to the church. Although George has a girlfriend, Sam, he still makes the decision to stalk this beautiful woman he saw on her honeymoon. Because of the relationship problems George was having with Sam, he carelessly assumed that if he found this woman he is infatuated by, that she would be the perfect girl for him. As he sat on the beach in Mexico, he sees the girl known as Jenny lying n beach sun tanning in her bathing suit. He could not help himself but to stare, further increasing the infatuation burning inside of him. He then notices that Jenny’s husband fell asleep on a surfboard and was drifting further and further into the ocean. He rents a boat and attempts to save him, which he manages to do so, barely. Because of his courageous act he becomes a hero, and was even recognized in the news.  Jenny’s husband was so badly burned that he stayed overnight in the hospital. Later that evening George is invited by Jenny to her place, where they go out for dinner, walk on the beach, and then head back to her place. She plays some music that as she put it likes to “Fuck” when played, seducing him. At last George is about to get what he wanted all along. The phone then rings and its Jenny’s husband calling from the hospital. As George was horrified by the call, Jenny seemed relaxed and even mentioned that she was with George. George is confused, and changed his mind about having sex with her. He was so disgusted by the fact that she was open with her marriage, and that she was willing to have an affair with another man on her own honeymoon that he stormed out. George lost interest in Jenny because he realized that she was not what he imagined. She lacked the values that he looked for in a woman. As I mentioned above, it is a great example of showing the different mindsets around that era. The character George grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, while Jenny grew up most likely in the late 60’s and early 70’s. It clearly displays the openness about sex through Jenny’s actions and George’s repulse.    

Radical romantic comedies became popular in the late 1960’s and 1970s, with movies such as Annie Hall and The Graduate. What most romantic radical comedies have in common is the notion that the plot displays situations where it persuades the viewers to believe that the couple involved will not end up together at the end of the movie. In class we watched clips of the movie The Graduate which can be seen as radical because of the plot; a boy sleeping with an older married woman, who then falls in love with the woman’s daughter.  In the end he dramatically disrupts her wedding and steals her away while the daughter’s parents chased him outraged by his actions. Right after this scene the couple sits in the back of a bus, quiet which led me to believe they were thinking “What do we do now?” The radical romantic sex comedies in the 70’s had a tendency to expose the preoccupations and anxieties of that time. In “Boy Meets girl Meets Genre” by, McDonald, Tamar Jeffers , Jeffers claims that these type of movies took many away from big issues and political movements, which were much more ethical in the 1960’s. It was as though the movies inspired a new way of thinking. It opened up topics such as sex to a whole new level, creating a new era of greater realism. This is why today many movies are very open about sex, such as “Friends with Benefits” starring Justin Timberlake, and Mila Kunis. The movie is about two friends who have sex just for the fun of it. The whole idea is to keep a relationship free of drama, emotion, and love. The fact that this is something that many understand today through personal experience is an example of how movies in the 70’s opened up a new way of thinking, especially for women.  Before the 60’s this type of openness was not suitable because of the more conservative mindset. A great example of this conservative mindset can be seen in the show “I love Lucy,” which was aired in the early 1950’s. In the bedroom the married couple Lucy and Ricky did not share the same bed. Although husbands and wives slept together, it was not shown on television because of the restrictions of that era. Instead, the couple slept on two separate beds in the same room.  There are basic characteristics that make a romantic comedy radical, such as the boy meets girl, loses girl, and then regains the girl. The characteristics that really define it however, are done through its language, sexual frankness, and being very open with sex. The endings o radical romantic comedies, often times leave the viewer questioning, such as the way The Graduate did, or simply making it a happy or unhappy ending. There are many movies made today that have been influenced from the ones created in the 1970’s, which I believe really did make an impact on our societies views and standards about sex to be much more open than ever before.  

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Images of Technology

After reading “Images of Technology in Popular Films” by Steven L. Goldman, I can honestly say as much as I hate to admit it, in some ways the article is in fact true. Looking in today’s perspective, technology is only growing and consuming the human mind more and more, day by day. Our classrooms are now filled with portable computers, and our hands are constantly jittering away at our androids and iPhone’s.  We can now watch movies instantly with on demand and Netflix. In a way this can be viewed as an “evil” fixation because it clutters the human mind. We now prefer to simply Google assignments, rather than open up the text book (at least for me anyways). I like to tell myself that I am educating myself by looking things up on my phone, but in reality I’m only looking for a shortcut. The article addresses the changing nature of sciences depiction in film, and for me I do believe it conveys a message to future generations, whether the movie was created in 1925 or the present. There are so many movies that display this notion; one of the most recent movies was Wall-E. Yes, the Disney movie. Wall-E is a perfect example of how technology can exhibit negative traits to our future. The movie is about a robot that was designed to clean up human waste on Earth in the future. The whole planet was covered with trash and eventually too toxic for living conditions. All the humans however, lived on a ship, where robots took care of them. They sat in chairs and were too lazy to walk, and to think, thus leaving them totally dependent on technology.  With all the talk about pollution and obesity going on today it reveals a great example of the direction we are headed. Now, of course we depend on technology, and it is created in order to make our lives easier, and much more efficient. In many ways it is a blessing and has significantly improved human conditions. I believe there is a limit though, and as I mentioned earlier I am guilty of burying my head into my phone, which is the wrong way of utilizing the great benefits of technology. The article indicates that movies in the 1920s have depicted technology in a negative way, even though it is highly supported and has been highly supported for over 40 years. Of course, this is done for entertainment purposes but at the same time it does guide the human mind to wonder “what if?” It subtly injects anxiety into our minds about just how bad technology can be. Again, referring back to Wall-E it displays the direction we are headed into. It may be an over exaggerated outlook however, it does display the negative connotations that can impact our lives through technology.

Gold Finger

As I discussed in the previous blog, James Bond was seen as a Cold War hero, and viewed upon as a man that can conquer any obstacle that came in his path.  After watching a few clips from “Goldfinger,” the third bond movie that came out in 1964, starring Sean Connery as James Bond, I really began to understand the way women and other cultures were viewed in that time period. When it came to orientalism however, I did not know whether certain scenes were put in the movie to be funny, or if in fact what was displayed was thought of as true. Because of the whole eastern and western separation as I discussed in the last blog, I am curious to know if at that time those types of stereotypes were really perceived. The character known in the movies as Oddjob, is the most obvious representation of orientalism. His name alone indicates a stereotype, that foreigners at that time from the east were seen as odd, or in some ways dumb. Oddjob was Goldfingers assistant and assassin. The fact that he came second to a better, richer, and more educated white male displays the notion that the western way of thinking was far superior. Oddjob also does not speak, yet he understands all of his orders. He uses his hat as a weapon, and in one scene he even beheaded a statue with it. I believe that this idea came from a stereotypical demeanor; and again was inputted in order to display the differentiation between eastern and western cultures. There was another clip we watched, where Bond was on a plane after being kidnapped by Goldfinger; where one of the flight attendant’s happened to be Asian. When Bond went into the restroom, the flight attendant was asked to keep an eye on him. From the outside of the restroom there were hidden peek holes that the attendant looked through, yet Bond figured this out almost instantly. To me, this displays another example of how the western culture viewed the eastern culture as inferior. The movie also displayed the dominance of males over women. Bond was able to charm his way through anything with women. It shows that at that time women came in second. The “Bond girl” in Goldfinger was named Pussy Galore. Once again, the name speaks for itself. When Bond first meets her, one of the first things she says to him is that she is immune to his charm. In the end however, he manages to conquer her as well. This clearly indicates the idea that women were not equal to men. Throughout the movie bond was able to sleep with any of the women he went after. There are scenes of him pushing them and being very aggressive towards them, while at the same time charming them. Some were even killed after he had sex with them. It clearly shows the depiction of women in that era; for me came as a surprise because most movies today, do not put women down this way. It points out the dominance of males in that era.

Monday, February 20, 2012

In “The Moments of Bond” by Tony Bennett and Janet Woolcott, the character of James Bond is analyzed in its different forms. The character of James Bond through the years has become a hero and an icon. I was never really a big fan of the James Bond series so I asked myself, what makes James Bond a hero? If Austin Powers and James bond ever went at it who would win?(just kidding) In the chapter it indicates how Bond became a political hero for the middle classes. The sales revenue between the years of 1956 and 1959 had shown an increasing rate predominantly in the lower middle class readership. The cultural and conceptual ways in which Bond carried himself and faced in the 1950’s was in relation to the issues that had ascended between Russia’s invasions of Hungary in 1956. This imposed Bond as a Cold War Hero because he resembled the integrities of Western Capitalism over the Eastern Communism “As above all, a pre-eminently English hero, single-handedly saving the Western World from threatening catastrophe”(Bennett and Woolcott, 19).The West was seen as having freedom and individualism, while the East had many  administrative inflexibilities. So, for the lower middle class the figure of Bond was created to stand in relation and to face the conceptual concerns of that time period. Bond became much more popular internationally through the films that were created.  There are numerous reason why the films became popular internationally. The movies have scenes that attracted both males and females. Of course for the males they were easy to identify, Bond had all kinds of cool gadgets and weapons, nice cars, two button Armani slim fit tuxedos, along with the professionalism and sophistication that every gentleman should have. Bonds character appeals to men because of his masculine traits; along with the charm, popularity, and his way of being irresistible to women. Even in the trickiest situations Bond was able to compose himself and conquer the almost impossible obstacles that were put in front of him. No wonder every man wants to be like him, he is in a way superman without the cool powers and cape. I believe that for women it was all about romance and excitement. Bond movies were able to play out the fantasies of women. You have your unstoppable good-looking man, who provides the romance women want to see, as well as being able to in a way liberate their sexual desires, simply for lust.  The movies turned away from traditional views of sex being related to marriage. Aside from trying to appeal to both genders, the Bond series were able to accomplish great stunt scenes and explosions using the newest special effects equipment’s. Many of the films settings were also located in exotic countries. Ok, so I guess I do see why Bond is such an icon, especially in the era of his introduction. I’m pretty sure he can take Austin Powers, I love the way they make fun of the Bond films though.