Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Post Modernism

In our blue CPTC book, chapter 9, Postmodernism is discussed in many different ways. Jean-Francois Lyotard describes postmodernism as "the collapse of all metanarratives with their privilidged truth to tell....[and insistence] on difference, on cultural diversity, and the claims of heterogeneity over homogeneity." (pg.185). For Jean Baudrillard, "postmodernism is not simply the culture of the sign: rather it is a culture of the 'simulacrum'"(pg.187). Those are just two of the views of two recognized theorists concerned with postmodernism. But, as we have already covered most of this information in class, I will talk about the global postmodern and convergence culture. Postmodernism as globalization, in the "dominant" view, is basically global Americanized culture. Now while there are many arguments against this position on globalization, I find in very interesting in that I have seen many examples of it all around the world. While in Spain this summer, not only are there many McDonald's, but also a large amount of Starbucks, and not only in the main cities like Madrid and Barcelona, but also in the lesser known cities like Alicante. And while I understand that these chains and such are simply popular and therefore bound to expand, I still see these examples as an intrusion of American culture. One more feature of postmodernism that i find interesting is convergence culture, which is "the flow of media content across a range of different platforms" (pg.210). The book talks of how media convergance culture has three different aspects. One being producers owning a different range of platforms and thus using all of them to promote their product, two, how technology has created new platforms for media, and three, is consumer selection of platforms. An example of the second aspect is this youtube video displaying the numerous platforms an iphone has. So, to refer back to globalization, do you think globalization of american culture is simply the spread of successful American chains and such, or in fact, the intrusion of American culture?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Discourse and Power

In Chapter 6 of our Blue CT&PC book, there is a section which discusses Michael Focault's ideas on discourse, the power of discourse, and the relation between knowledge and power. Here the book states that, "discourses produce subjects that we are invited to occupy. Discourses, therefore, are social practices in which we engage.....what we think of as an 'experience' is always experience in or of a particular discourse. Moreover, what we think of as our 'selves' is the internalization of a multiplicity of discourses." For example, you are only a 'football player' if you play football (in the book the example is netball). So this discourse, (the playing of football) this social practice, along with all of the other discourses you participate in, actually come to define your 'self'. In this gatorade commercial, a dancer and a tennis player are shown, obviously, dancing and playing tennis. This would constitute as an example of what Foucault descibes as discourses that make someone into a football player, a dancer, a tennis player, etc, and ultimately an athlete. The reason for Gatorade showing these amazing athletes is to endorse their product by showing that Gatorade actually helps one to perform the discourse to the best of their ability, and therefore also promotes that Gatorade helps turn the ordinary into extraordinary in these so called "social practices". Foucault also claims that "discourses produce knowledge, and knowledge is always a weapon of power.....Power produces reality; through discourses it produces 'truths' we live by." Therefore, since these discourses ultimately produce truths that we live by and accept, what are some different examples of these discourses we see in everyday life? And also, how much of our everyday life actually does stem from our beliefs (most likely unconciously) in discourse?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Symbols, Tropes & Memes in Popular Culture

In class on Tuesday we will be looking at the emergence and decoding of different Symbols, Tropes & Memes in Popular Culture. A meme is a cultural idea which takes on a symbolic role as it is circulated, morphed within popular culture discourse. Memes spread and are given importance as they are adopted and adapted to take on new forms. For a fuller introduction take a look at this article.

So what are some examples of some popular culture memes that you have run across? Describe one in detail. What was it's original meaning or intent? How has it changes as new version of the meme have emerged? What might Adorno or Stuart Hall have to say about this particular meme?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Culture Industries

In Thursday's class we will be looking at Adorno & Horkheimer's idea of the Cultural Industries. These are the systems which create and support cultural hegemony. The question we will focus on is: How is meaning constructed, communicated and institutionalized in popular culture?

From your reading what how are culture industries defined? Provide a concrete example from popular media that illustrates the characteristics and nature of your understanding of the culture industries and how this relates to the Frankfurt school's notion of how culture is produced. (responses must be posted by 7pm Wednesday to count for extra credit)