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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Week Fifteen- Conclusion: Cyborgs and Posthumans

What is a human? Even more pressing, what comes after that? Not in terms of death, but in terms of evolution.  As an impatient race, humans flock for the chance to buy every new apple product, see every movie with hot girls or explosions at midnight, to live stream every new show the second it is live from the comfort of our own Ikea-laced home.  What happens next? AS humans become impatient with everything around them, they also become impatient with themselves.

Here come the fake tits and fake tans.

Sorry, that was admittedly too easy (as are the women featured).

That’s exactly what I’m saying.

But past that, what else is there? The surgical knife and excessive sun damage can only do so much, what is the next line to cross?  Well, the first thing we have to note is that there is not much left, aside from our humanity.  Oh, there we go. Humanity.  Humanity is one innate barrier we can push and push, but to be post-humanity requires the complete desecration of it.  N. Katherine Hayles says in “How we became post-human” that “Mutation is crucial because it names the bifurcation point at which the interplay between pattern and randomness causes the system to evolve in a new direction.  It reveals the productive potential of randomness that is also recognized within information theory when uncertainty is seen as both antagonistic and intrinsic to information.”  (2172)  This development, this self-imposed evolution, this mutation is not only necessary it is crucial.  

This crucial need to move on and evolve is inevitable.  The post-human world is inevitable.  Get with the program, because it’s happening.  

Word Count: 274

Works Cited
Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Analysis Seven- Ethnicity Studies and Post-Colonial Theory and Criticism

Benedict Anderson writes in a section of Imagined Communities about Latin.  How it was once used, became something for the elite, and is now a language to be read, not spoken, and is reserved for the educationally privileged.  He says that “for the older Latin was not arcane because of its subject matter or style, but simply because it was written at all, I.e. because of its status as text” (1918).  What is culture supposed to mean anymore anyways?  If culture is meant to evolve, what good does it do to simply trickle out the elite from the mainstream?  Anderson also notes Martin Luther saying “where Luther led, others quickly followed, opening the colossal religious propaganda war that raged across Europe for the next century.  In this titanic ‘battle for men’s minds’, Protestantism was always fundamentally on the offensive, precisely because it knew how to make use of the expanding vernacular print-market being created by capitalism, while the Counter-Reformation defended the citadel of Latin” (1918).  There is a defensiveness that comes with any progress, this is proven true.
In summarization, change is not always welcome.  In fact change is typically met with resistance (I assume you know what’s coming next).

There is a specific implication that culture, in fact, is dead.  All that is left is recycling of ideas and the idea of something ‘new’ is dead.  Culture is recycled.  There will be nothing new.  Possibly one of the most accessible pieces of evidence for this is fashion.  Fashion is never anything new, it is recycled and marketed as something new.  Of course there is 80’s revival, 90’s grunge revival, etc.  Most recently, there was a 90’s rave culture and bohemian 70’s revival.  And of course, these initial fashion statements were based off of something else, and so on.  Fashion is proof there is no new culture, only regurgitation of what once was new.

Oscar Wilde said that “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.

In the movie “The Devil Wears Prada”, one of the most seminal fashion-forward movies, a seemingly frumpy Anne Hathaway is thrust into the ever-evolving world of fashion, only to soon learn she is in way over her head.

 Some of the fashion pieces specifically noted is traditional French lingerie and over-the-knee black stiletto boots.  Hathaway takes to these pieces quickly, and rightly so.  They are popular because they are staples.  While pieces of fashion, they are considered ‘hot items’ and yet are still coveted.  Both pieces have been very in style, only to be replaced by something else that is seemingly shiny and new, but come back around to prove their fashionable relevance.

  Meryl Streep plays the ‘devil’, the HBIC of the magazine.  Adding to her power stance, she is noticeably older than everyone else.  Within the world of fashion, while age may take away some relevance, it grants memories.  She is old enough to remember original pieces now considered vintage, a notation I think the movie subtly makes.

Fashion happens to be a culture within itself, a huge economy in every single continent.  However, the culture itself has hit a wall and has resorted to recycling and reality tv.  Post-colonialism hit fashion, and it hit it hard.

Works Cited
Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.
The Devil Wears Prada. Dir. David Frankel. By Aline McKenna and Lauren Weisenberger. Perf. Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway. 20th Century Fox, 2006. Film.
Fight for Your Right Revisited. Dir. Adam Yauch. Perf. Elijah Wood, Seth Rogan, and Danny McBride. Hulu. 2011. Web.

Week Fourteen- Ethnicity Studies and Post-Colonial Theory and Criticism

Within “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain”, Langston Hughes said of the racial struggle for black people that “this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America- this urge within the race toward white-ness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible” (1192).

He identifies the struggle to succeed as being rooted as the struggle of being different.  This implies that it is common thinking that the big hurdle is being different.

He offers this anecdote: {“One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once. “I want to be a poet- not a Negro poet”, meaning, I believe, “I want to write like a white poet”; meaning subconsciously, “I would like to be a white poet”; meaning behind that, “I would like to be white.”  and I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself” (1192).

Of course being racially different from the majority of mainstream or successful poets will cause some anxiety, but I don’t agree with Hughes that saying that the racial mountain lies in this example.  This exchange is rumored to be between Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen, a poet closely tied with the Harlem Renaissance.  I feel that in the sentence “I want to be a poet- not a Negro poet” Cullen meant that he wanted to be defined by his work and not by his race.

 I will be the first to admit that Langston Hughes is a brilliant gifted writer and was blessed with a mind, I feel that the drive for Cullen was to be remembered for his poetry.  For his words to transcend his family, his hometown, and the blood that pumps through his veins.  Cullen died young, living from 1903-1946 but is remembered for his work.

Word Count: 323
Works Cited
Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Analysis Six- Feminism and Gender Studies

“Do you know what it feels like for a girl? In this world?”

While this poor excuse of a television show (Glee, for the lucky few who have escaped it’s supposed charm) attempted to tackle feminism, it commented on the identity of the feminine.

To recap, the men within the Glee club were assigned to sing a song typically sung by a woman to come to the conclusion that they should respect women (and to think they won a golden globe with such groundbreaking work).

However, the identity of women is not as easy to tackle (and is easier done without musical accompaniment).  Simone de Beauvoir admits that “What is certain is that today it is very difficult for women to accept at the same time their status as autonomous individuals and their womanly destiny; this is the source of the blundering and restlessness which sometimes cause them to be considered a “lost sex.” And no doubt it is more comfortable to submit to a blind enslavement than to work for liberation” (1273).

While in contrast the idea of being a man is a concrete identity of being physically able, intelligent, and essentially powerful, the idea of being a woman is to be the binary of the man.  In addition to this submission, women are oppressed into being this subservient robot.

  The robot must serve the master (men) and they find comfort in this rather than feel empowered enough to discover identity.  De Beauvoir says “Whereas woman’s independent successes are in contradiction with her femininity, since the “true woman” is required to make herself object, to be the Other” (1272).  She is required to be the opposite of the man, a compliment rather than a partner.  It is more than heavily implied, it is stated that men and women are not equal.  Women are oppressed by men.

That being said, is it true that a woman is the opposite of a man? Or has women’s liberation caused an epiphany? If women are defined by being the opposite of a man, in an attempt to re-define femininity, should women adopt some masculine attributes? Is this the forward-thinking feminists say would progress women worldwide? Is this the key to the feminist uprising?
In this sense, if feminism is breaking free of being the binary to men, the empowerment may be embodied by the living train wreck known as JWoWW.  

JWoWW is the boobalicious tall girl on Jersey Shore.  

While she is genetically and socially female (due to her natural sex, as well as some unnatural enhancements), she possesses the characteristics of a man in some respects.  If the female is meant to be subservient, JW0WW is powerful. 

In response to getting stared down at a club she did not simply accept the behavior, she pulled a girl’s weave out.  In response to being dumped publicly on her reality TV show, she quickly found solace in a new hunkier ‘Guido’.  And, in possibly the strongest showing of her feminist acts, after her roommate (The Situation) got her out of a club before she was done bumping and grinding, she punched him in the face.  

JWoWW is rarely subservient, and therefore has forged her own identity as a woman.  
 She has defied the typical misogynistic expectations of a woman and has become a true feminist through this.
America, meet the face of feminism. JWoWW, we salute you.
Word Count: 563

Works Cited
Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.
Murphy, Ryan. "What It Feels Like For a Girl." Glee. Dir. Ryan Murphy. Fox. Los Angeles, California, 20 Apr. 2010. Television.
Salsano, SallyAnn, Scott Jeffress, and Jacquelyn French, prods. Jersey Shore. MTV. Seaside, New Jersey, 2009-present. Television.
"What It Feels Like For a Girl." YouTube. Ed. Gleesebumps. YouTube, 23 Apr. 2010. Web. 26 Apr. 2011. <>.

Week Thirteen- Feminism and Gender Studies

Is sexuality binary?

 Are men that far ahead and advanced away from women that the gender lines are no longer drawn in the sand, but divided by walls?

Do men benefit from women at all?

Simone de Beauvoir suggests that sexuality is oppressive and that while both genders are essential, they are not equal.  A woman has a very specific role within the gender, and it is that of the master-slave relationship.  Within the slave (feminine) aspect, another problem is that women cannot band together. Solidarity is difficult between women, which may contribute to the gender being suppressed.

With regards to the male to female relationship, de Beauvoir says that “And moreover woman is taught from adolescence to lie to men, to scheme, to be wily.  In speaking to them she wears an artificial expression on her face; she is cautious, hypocritical, play-acting” (1270). She suggests that women are essentially trained to be submissive, to bottle their emotions, personalities, and their interests to intrigue men.  It may have once been hiding admiration for reading or writing, but now it has evolved into silicone personalities (as well as boobies).  De Beauvoir also says that “the fact is that she would be quite embarrassed to decide what she is” (1269).  The social pressure and stigma of the male identity does not allow any allocation for the female identity.  Women are meant to believe that they must be identified in contrast of what they are not, in this case, a man.  Of course the well known stigma is that a man is aggressive, the alpha male.  So, when women are pressed up against this concept, they become the opposite. The submissive the Barbie to the GI Joe.

Word Count: 293

Works Cited
Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Analysis Five- Poststructuralism & Postmodernism

Deconstruction, a reaction to structuralism, is based on the concept that you cannot know the intention of an author because words and media are all full of contradiction.  There is meaning in the media used for expression, however media are constantly self-contradictory.  Within this, things are not necessarily black and white.  Its not about the binary necessarily, it is about the differences between.  Philosopher Jacques Derrida says in Plato’s Pharmacy that “a text is not a text unless it hides from the first comer, from the first glance, the law of its composition and the rules of its game.  A text remains, moreover, forever imperceptible” (1697).  Within this there is the notion that text does not have blatant meaning, meaning is meant to be found deeper than the surface.  The meaning is found when you break it down (hence the term deconstruction).

From here, I am going to introduce the cult classic “Dr. Horrible’s Sing- Along Blog”.  Dr. Horrible (portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris) is an aspiring super villain who wants to be accepted by the Evil League of Evil, lead by Bad Horse the Thoroughbred of Sin (portrayed by a horse).

 He is blatantly the villain, the supposed bad guy.  The audience is trained to not like him.  It is introduced early in act one that he has a love interest in Penny (portrayed by Felicia Day), the nerdy girl from the Laundromat.

  From here on he is humanized in ways that villains are typically not meant to be seen.  He has bad intentions for his career, but alarmingly sweet intentions for Penny.

It is also introduced that his arch nemesis, the hero, is the cocky Captain Hammer (portrayed by a hunky Nathan Fillion).

Captain Hammer has the physical archetype of a Disney prince and quickly has the attention of Penny.  This, on paper, should be correct for the format.

The hero has the love interest, and the villain has nothing.  However, (writer, director, creator) Joss Whedon’s vision for “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” was to break it down and reconstruct it.  The audience does not side with Captain Hammer, they root for Dr. Horrible to get the girl.

 The story should be the hero defeating the villain.  However, Whedon deconstructs the format and makes it the villain losing the girl. In the final showdown in Act III, Dr. Horrible approaches Captain Hammer with his death ray (newly formed from the freeze ray).

Through some fumbling, Captain Hammer ends up with the death ray in his hands.  In what appears to be the end, the gun is pointed directly at Dr. Horrible.  As Captain Hammer pulls the fatal trigger, the gun appears faulty and ends up killing Penny.

 As a result of her death, Captain Hammer ends up in therapy and is now pitied as the heartbroken hero.  Dr. Horrible is accepted into the Evil League of Evil along with Bad Horse the Thoroughbred of Sin.

  From here, the sympathetic audience may deduce that Dr. Horrible has achieved his goal of becoming accepted by the league.  However, Whedon shows that there is more to the story by showing that Dr. Horrible got what he wanted as a result of the death of his beloved.

In the final lines of the final song, Dr. Horrible sings to the audience: “Now the nightmare’s real/Now Dr. Horrible’s here/To make you quake with fear/To make the whole world kneel/ (Everything you ever…) And I won’t feel/A thing”.  The words simply say he is scary and he is control, but broken down he is hurt and fighting and is numb because of his loss.

Within the format of the movie, by picking apart the scenes and songs the meaning is found in the lyrics and the visuals.

Whedon presents the familiar story of the hero, the villain, and the girl.  However, he deconstructs it and shows the audience there is so much more to the story with a simple flip of perspective (and songs!).  The first watch of the movie provides entertainment, and the second watch provides insight.

Word Count: 673

Works Cited
Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. Dir. Joss Whedon. By Joss Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, and Zach Whedon. Prod. David Burns and Michael Boretz. Perf. Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day. Dr. Horrible. Mutant Enemy Productions, 15 July 2008. Web. 19 Apr. 2011. <>.
Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.