Video Games

March 28, 2007 at 3:45 pm (Soc3390)

 

I knew from the beginning that I would have a problem writing about video games and the gaming community. Honestly the only games I have played in the last couple of years would be Mario Party and Dance Dance Revolution (I know they’re kind of lame but I love them).

I just don’t get the obsession with video games, I have a lot of guy friends who spend hours playing games but it is just not for me. I really shouldn’t bash playing games because it is as important to some people as TV is to me, so I guess I should be more understanding.

The article that really kind of interested me this week was about online game playing. At first I thought that the entire mafia concept inside the world of game playing was just ridiculous but then I started to realize that they had kind of formed their own community full of power struggles, devaince and loyalty.

People form bonds both social and business and use these relationships to help benefit them in their game world, it is really a neat concept when you think about it. And I can actually see these kind of group roles and relationships being established by some of my friends.

You see a large number of them play Halo and they would all get online and have their ear pieces and could talk to each other while playing the game in their own home. They spent hours communicating with each other forming bonds and alliances that helped propel them through the game.

Although the novelty of this game wore off most of them still play online games (many times together) and use their newly formed relationships to their advantage. I guess when you think about it they have joined their own mini society they have created their own networks and they are interacting and socializing to some extent.

Here is a clip depicting the experiences and thoughts some gamers provided concerning the online gaming phenomenon.

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Sexuality in the Media

March 21, 2007 at 4:06 pm (Soc3390)

After reading A Study of Joey and Chandler I was a little baffled as to what Paul wanted us to get out of this reading. Honestly I think that the entire article was ridiculous and I found that the author was looking for meaning in all the wrong places. So then I moved on to the next article which was the one about Smallville and once again I was disappointed.

Finally I came upon the Ross Horsley article and was once again inspired. I wasn’t at all surprised to read the comment that gay people are not being represented appropriately by media because most people controlling media output are not gay themselves or do not feel the need to accurately depict this culture.

 I would agree with arguement to an extent however I think that things are begininning to change. I think that although there are still grossly exaggerated portrayals of the gay culture the media is now starting to correct these mistakes.

In the past couple of years TV shows such as Queer as Folk and Will and Grace have started showing gay people as being quite similar to their straight counterparts. They are relatable, funny, smart and in the end pretty much exactly like everybody else.

I think that through movies like Brokeback Mountain people are starting to realize that there is no single category to lump gay people into and now we are getting a much more multi-dimensional look into the world of gay people. I mean this was a pretty influential movie based on gay cowboys and niether man was portrayed as flamboyant or had any overly exaggerated gay characteristics.

I think that although there may still be much bias and prejudice in the media towards gay people great strides are being made to correct this wrong. And I really think that in the future the media might actually help reduce prejudice and hate and create a positive representation of gay culture. At least that is my hope.

Here is a little look at Brokeback Mountain the movie that caused a lot of controversy but in my opinion was a step in the right direction.

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Portrayal of a Woman

March 12, 2007 at 11:25 am (Soc3390)

I am so happy that Paul put the article All of Your Insecurities Wrapped Up in a Thirty Second Spot in the syllabus. After reading just the first paragraph I was aware that this was possibly the most important article I have read in the class to date.

I am so appalled by the sexist and condescending way women are portrayed in ads. I mean you can’t watch a series of commercials without stumbling upon a “perfect” woman being treated as nothing more than a sex symbol. The images are everywhere and it makes young and old women alike very conscious of their alleged shortcomings.

The truth is that sex does sell especially when it’s a hot brainless female in a low cut skirt and mini skirt. And because people are buying the products that these women are selling there will be no shortage of women being exploited by numerous aspects of the media.

What really bothers me about these women is like the Abby article says women are looking to these females as inspirations and are comparing themselves to an ideal that will be impossible for them to duplicate.

I am happy to say that some companies have recognized this abomination and have tried to depict real beauty in their ads in an attempt to rectify the self esteem issues they have created. In fact Dove has created this ad to show how impossible it would be to mimic or recreate some of the “beauty” found in the media.

Dove is making a bold statement with this ad and I think that it really helps females distinguish what is real and what is falsely created. I think that females of all ages can look at this depiction of “beauty” in the media and will realize that attaining this ideal look is extremely unrealistic. 

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Musically Ignorant

March 7, 2007 at 5:11 pm (Soc3390)

I have to admit, I am really not a music person. I don’t really have any CD’s in fact almost all of the music in my iPod has been taken from my sister’s collection.

My younger sister is really the only thing keeping me up to date in the music world. In fact the only reason I had recognized the band Broken Social Scene in the Pitchfork article was because she made me listen to it in her car last weekend.

As I peruse through the article it becomes very obvious my sister is my “filter”. Like so many people who depend on the critiques provided by Pitchfork my musical choices are chosen for me by my musically inclined sibling.

My sister like this site, thrives on discovering new bands that few people have heard about. I mean she goes to any concert she hears about regardless of the genre and decides when she gets there if they are good or not. She is not a music snob and remains open to all  new and old bands and their music styles.

I think that what makes Pitchfork a good website to consult is that it is a place where you can learn about music that you never would have encountered, I mean how many of us would have ever heard about the Toronto band Broken Social Scene.

So a couple of months ago my sister directed me to the band Ok Go (which I love) and I just wanted to show their videos because they are so different and so funny. Seriously you will get what I mean after you watch them, trust me!

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Friday Night at the Movies

February 23, 2007 at 10:15 pm (Soc3390)

Realizing that the deadline for this blog was fast approaching my sister and I perused the movie listings for Calgary hoping for a new movie that seemed at least moderately interesting. After careful consideration and much debate we decided on The Number 23 starring Jim Carrey.

We arrived early so that we could find a good seat although it seemed that this idea was not as unique as expected. We entered the theatre and were soon surrounded by an eager crowd milling about in a purposeful manner.

I look at my surroundings, the colours on the walls and carpet are bright and distracting while the lighting seems almost muted. The noise is constant but not loud and if you listen the themes are quite consistent “…so and so told me this movie was really good…”  “…I saw the preview and it looks pretty awesome”. Bored with this talk I enter the second line I have encountered since arriving (the first was to get the tickets) and prepare to wait patiently for what Smith calls my “butter-scented trough”.

It is while I wait that I begin to reflect on Smiths description of Why Movie Going Sucks. According to the rant provided by Smith going to the movie is comparable to feeding time at the local farm and we are nothing more than mindless animals being herded into our designated quarters.

Personally I couldn’t disagree more, in fact I really enjoy the entire movie going experience immensely. I love the smell of the popcorn and pop mixed together to form that easily recognizable aroma. I love stuffing my face with all the trans fat I can consume before the lights disappear and the screen becomes illuminated.

My sister and I finally enter the theatre and find two seats together (rather close to the front unfortunately) and proceed to turn off our cell phones and get comfortable. I see that once again Smith’s observations are exaggerated to say the least, the fact is that I don’t really see anyone stuffing their faces at the moment especially not like pigs at the trough ready for intestines.  

I soon realize that people are more likely to be consumed in social interaction with their neighbours then they are to be grotesquely shovelling food in their mouths. Also contrary to the statements made by Smith my sister and I are the only ones I see that are deciphering the blurred pictures on the screen the vast majority of the crowd is ignoring them altogether.

Finally the lights begin to dim and the screen explodes in colour while simultaneously the volume of the crowd completely disappears. I laugh to myself thinking about all the sociology courses which would describe the crowds reaction as just a norm of movie going, it is something that is automatically done and something that is expected by members of our culture.

At this point I am surprised by the fact that there are no ads being presented to us which is weird because this is the one arguement Smith makes that I actually agree with. I, like Smith and I am sure many of you reading this hate having to sit through advertising of any kind and the products seen before a movie are the worst. The problem with this type of advertising is that you can’t change the channel and like Smith states you are actually paying to watch them.

So now that I have completed my rant on advertising I will continue with my movie going experience. I sit through about a half an hour of previews for upcoming movies most of which I am embarrassed to admit have completely sucked me in and will guarantee my return within the next couple of weeks. There was one preview which looked especially captivating the movie was called Zodiac and had much of the same dark and violent themes that The Number 23 has (the movie that I will eventually be watching) coincidence? Definitely not.

As I sit there watching the half an hour of previews I realize that the men sitting directly to my left are starting to become impatient with this obvious delay of the feature film. They begin whispering to each other briefly commenting on the fleeting images found on the screen and very soon their voices reach a volume easily comparable to common conversation. I sit annoyed at their rudeness but like the rest of the audience remain in silent protest of their behaviour.

Finally feeling like I can ignore them no longer I bend down and pick up my previously purchased Kids Pack (consisting of popcorn, Jolly Rancher and orange drink) and loudly begin to munch on the popcorn. I believe that this action will possibly annoy them causing them to be quiet or will at least help to drown out their incessant chatter.

Once again I realize that Smith might be on to something, sometimes movie going does suck but I find that this is because of social deviance. Unlike Smith I don’t believe that it is the food being offered, the herding mentality or even the advertising that ruins our time at the movies. In my opinion it is the rude patrons who are unaware or negligent of their surroundings and the norms they must follow, those are the people that completely destroy the positivity of the movie going experience.

I am sure that we have all been confronted with a time at the movies where someone’s cell phone rang (once when I was in a movie and they even answered it 3 TIMES!), or a parents who wouldn’t remove a crying baby, or possibly the worst scenario of all when a couple of arrogant teens would not stop talking!

These are the problems with the process of going to the movie theatre, there are hundreds of people in attendance and some do not feel the need to follow the simple norms constructed by our society. So if you are reading this and you know that you are one of them please stop!

The chatty men to my left eventually halt their conversation and now I can sit back and enjoy the next hour and a half of entertainment which I payed nearly thirteen dollars to experience (close to twenty if you include food and drinks).

After time I start getting used to the exaggerated sounds of the movie and become completely absorbed with the scenes on the screen. Time passes quickly and soon the plot ties itself up, the credits begin to roll and the the lights instantly emerge. Five teenage boys appear carrying giant bags full of garbage and the crowd begins their slow shuffle out of the theatre.

As we become immerced into the sea of people I begin eavesdropping on the conversations surrounding us and the discussions seem identical in nature. People are basically mulling over the plot twist and the ending stating the pros and cons of the story.

Now Smith might argue with me but I quite enjoyed myself! I got to eat allot of food and watch a decent movie and in the end it was a good way to spend my Friday night.

Here is The Number 23 trailer for your viewing pleasure.

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Sociology at the Movies

February 22, 2007 at 3:44 pm (Soc3390)

So I read through the articles this week to see which one I would like to blog about and after the long depressing rant of Smith I stumbled onto this reading. Scrolling down the list of movies I realized that I had not only seen the majority of them but they were also some of my favourite movies.

Some of the movies had an obvious association with sociological themes, good examples would be Monster and Bowling for Columbine. I think that anyone who has seen these movies would agree that their plots were not only entertaining but provided a look into the sociological subculture of both socialization and deviance.

Continuing down the list I was surprised to see (as I’m sure many of you were) Austin Powers and Miss Congeniality. Knowing both of these movies rather well I could not understand how they could possibly provide a glimpse into the study of sociology. Appartently Miss Congeniality gives us a glimpse of social interaction and Austin Powers contributes to our understanding of culture.

These examples might be condidered a bit of a stretch but I can see where they are going with this analysis. Like it stated in the article Austin Powers gives us an understanding of how relative culture can be. Austin Powers had only been frozen for what 30 years and everything including his clothes, hair and the language were drastically different then what is the “norm” in our generation .

I think that this article was not only interesting but it provided a detailed list of what underlies socialogical studies while using examples that were relatable to its audiance. I think that this list will cause me to look  deeper into the socialogical significance of movies from now on and I will guarantee that I will never look at Austin Powers in the same way.

 

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The Truth in News

February 14, 2007 at 12:55 pm (Soc3390)

Personally I try to stay away from the news as much as possible, not because the messages have been manipulated by the media but because I hate seeing the apalling state of the world. I had a Political Science class that recommended that we read the paper to stay informed on issues of the world but I found it really difficult to do so.

The war in Iraq alone is enough to turn my stomach, I mean how many more Americans are going to have to be killed before someone takes some strong action to rectify the situation. Sorry I know it is a little off topic I just really hate everything about the war!

The article on Chavez really just emphasized what I had already gathered myself after watching and reading contradictory testomonies about what is “really” happening in the world. I think that all of us can agree that everything which is provided by the media has a biased premise. I mean they are going to report the version of the “truth” that gets them the biggest audience.I think that is what people forget sometimes the news is similar to every other form of media it is a business and people are using this form of entertainment to make money.

I think that the majority of Amreicans and Canadians  are starting to realize that they cannot trust everything that is presented to them but it remains difficult to decipher where the truth lies. I mean the media has tried really hard (and succeeded in many cases) to present the news as a credible source. The news should be that one media outlet where facts are presented and references are verified but as explained in the Chavez article sometimes this is not the case.

I don’t know about anybody else but what I am starting to learn from this class is that alot of the media sources (TV, newspapers etc..) which I have been consuming for years are presenting little more than a manipulation of the truth. I have to say that this thought just really disturbs me.

Ok I had to put a picture of George Bush up because personally I believe that  a lot of the lies that have been spread through the news recently can in some way be linked to him.

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The World of Wrestling

February 7, 2007 at 5:19 pm (Soc3390)

I was so excited when I looked at the syllabus this week and discovered that  we were going to be talking about television. I spend way too many hours a week wasting my time absorbed in the many plots available for my viewing pleasure. I mean I sit there and wonder will Pam and Jim get together this week? or, Who is going to get kicked off of Big Brother?

This is pretty embarrassing but I have to admit that I was happy to see that there was an article about wrestling for us to analyze this week. I am probably one of the only people in this class and the only girl I know of who still watches wrestling. I know this is hard to believe but it is true, I love John Cena and HBK so laugh if you want!

Ok so wrestling might not be the coolest thing to watch now but when we were all younger it was extremely popular. I agree with the article when it alludes to the fact that wrestling like anything else is a show, it has the good guys the bad guys, the love triangles, it is alot more like Grey’s Anatomy then alot of you  would like to admit.

Ultimately wrestling comes down to the same universal theme; good versus evil. There is always that one star (or as they like to be called entertainer) who everybody cheers for, all the fans want to see this guy win. Often the good guy is the underdog in the fight because the popular consensus is that we like to see this character overcome all odds.

Next there is usually the stereotypical “bad guy” who cheats in matches and makes fun of the fans, everybody wants to see these guys lose. Basically every week the battle of good vs. evil commences and the fans bear witness to two incredible athletes fighting for the coveted win in what the article calls a “great spectacle of Suffering, Defeat and Justice…”.

You might all think that I am crazy I am sure that many of you regard wrestling as no more then two huge guys play fighting for a trophy. But I think that there is some credibility that needs to be given, I mean it is a franchise that has transcended the ages and has changed our culture significantly. I would like to meet one guy who doesn’t know what the Stone Cold Stunner is.

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A New Idea of Community

January 31, 2007 at 4:55 pm (Soc3390)

 

The Significance of Virtual Communities was one of my favourtie articles to date. Recently I have noticed that many media sources have been criticizing different aspects of the web saying that it is full of predators and that it has helped establish a more obese youth. I think that this article was really interesting because it looked at the more positive effects that the internet has had on our culture.

For instance lets take a look at what community use to mean, basically it had alot to do with where you lived, where you went to school or where you went to work. People had to associate with other individuals who were in close proximity to themselves. Today however due to technological advances such as the internet people on different continents can easily become associated and stay in touch if they so choose.

Back when I was younger my group of friends was limited to the kids on my street and the ones at my school, very rarely did I associate with people outside of these two realms. However when I moved from Ontario to Calgary I wanted to stay in touch with many of the people that I had grown up with, thanks to the internet and the phone I am able to remain in close contact with several people which would have become strangers to me ultimately because of physical distance.

I think that the internet like the article alludes to, provides a way for people to meet other people with common interests which they most likely would otherwise not have come in contact with. I think that the web gives kids and adults alike a chance to meet people that have similar interests to themselves. The internet opens up this whole new world where people who feel like outsiders in “their communnities” can establish meaningful relationships with people who may be further away proximity wise but may be more similar when it comes to their values and beliefs.

Some people have argued that we have become too technological and that our kids are substituting real life interaction for virtual ones. I do see the point of this statement but I believe like anything thing else moderation is the best solution. I am not suggesting in my blog that virtual communities should take over our lives, I think that face to face interaction is extremely important now and that will also be the case in the future.

My point is this I think that virtual communities are something that we should embrace or at least consider. For many people who may feel different in regards to their peers it would defianately be beneficial for them to get online and meet people with similar tastes. Basically I don’t think that virtual communities should consume our lives but it might be a good way to get people meeting other people that 1) they otherwise would never have met and 2) may foster similar interests to themselves.

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The Rebel Sell

January 24, 2007 at 5:27 pm (Soc3390)

I loved this article and found that it provided a very different perspective of the anti-consumerist attitudes that many people may relate with. The mention of Fight Club (one of my favourite movies) also probably had a lot to do with my enthusiasm towards it. 

Using Fight Club to critique mass society was interesting but I think that the movie American Beauty made the issues in the article a little more clear for me. Like the article states this movie show that rebellion against mass society is far different then rebellion against consumerism.

This article brought me to recognize some people in my own life who have tried very hard to “rebel against the masses”. I like everybody else know people who won’t listen to that music, watch that show or wear those clothes because it is too “popluar”. They are trying to avoid certain brands however they become the ones that are most brand concious. 

I know that I was once extremely anti-consumerism (or so I thought) I didn’t want to buy anything with brand names because I thought that people who did so were just to interested in their projected image. I like many others however have succumbed to the more popular styles and I have to say aware of not only what I have but what others have as well.

I think that the article is right to talk about how anti-advertising does in fact create consumption of products. I know that when a commercial comes on showing some new gadget that is “cool” because it is different I want it. 

It is like when I first got my bellybutton pierced I thought that I was going to be different and stand out because I had this novel idea. Well it turns out that the majority of my friends now have that same piercing. I also think that the same thing is happening with tatoos where once they were in the minority now they are a huge commodity (Miami Ink).

Basically I think that we are fooling ourselves to think that choosing what we consume will deviate us from mass socitey in the end it does nothing but shift the norms of our peers.

Alright I know that I said that American Beauty was a better example of what the article was trying to get across but I love the movie and I think that it shows alot about our beliefs in conjunction with consumerism so I’m just going to throw in a scene about anti-consumerism from the Fight Club movie.

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