Thursday, March 26, 2015

Entertainment Setting Children up for Failure?

Postman argues that "television does not extend or amplify literate culture. It attacks it."

In the past seven and a half years that I have lived in the U.S., technology has developed so rapidly. I went from having to write my finals in cursive in the 8th grade in Denmark, to taking computerized exams by the time I graduated high school. TV has become more interactive than I ever remember it being growing up, other than the Melody Grand Prix Europa, which was the only TV programming I remember having voting polls.
Postman argues that TV has turned the US into a culture that survives on entertainment, rather than literacy, which is reflected in the way we learn and what we learn, i.e. this class. If we look around us every day, especially at the younger generations, I'm talking ages 5 ages and younger. A personal example is my nephew who is now two years old, and he doesn't talk yet. But he knows how to log into his mom's Netflix account, find his favorite shows, start them, and he will even change what his parents are watching if he isn't entertained. But he can't talk yet.

I believe that since the publication of Postman's article, the condition has worsened. If you look around a classroom in elementary schools, there arr projectors, kids playing "educational" games on iPads, listening to books on iPods, and they do still use School House rock to teach basic grammar.
However, this "advancement" of the use of entertainment for education is causing children to struggle with reading, which has caused the need for aides to track kids' reading levels, with monitoring systems such as DIBELS, many children don't have legible handwriting anymore, and the reworking of, and gradual implication of technology and entertainment into, the schooling system has been congruent with the spikes in ADD and ADHD diagnoses in the past decade.
This is also believed to be attributed to the fact that children are not given as much time in recess, and lead more sedentary lifestyles as TV and technology has been popularized, which causes them to not entertain themselves as older generations had to do.

Even the early millennial generation is much more literate than those in the later millennial generation because we were forced to play and entertain ourselves, and learn, without staring at a screen all day.

Valuing our Entertainment

I haven’t given a lot of thought about films and their values and how those values relate to me or to the rest of America in a while.  Most films I have seen in the last couple of years are primarily for its entertainment value; with the exception of American Sniper.  American Sniper is controversial because so many people don’t believe we should be over there in war.  *Spoiler Alert* DON’T READ THE NEXT LINE IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE.  When it shows him killing the small child in front of his, that was crazy!  It was hard for me to feel good about that.  I know killing him saved the lives of all the marines there, but again, he was a child.  So I began to think of the audience of this movie.  How well does scenes such as this particular one sit with us?  Is this movie simply for entertainment?  I thought it was interesting that Sergeant York, (mentioned in the Pollack reading) didn’t want to endorse a cereal, just because he won the medal of honor.  He didn’t want to make money, or to celebrate killing during the war.  Not only did the American Sniper make money off of the killings but we celebrate it.  Don’t get me wrong, my grandpa was a sniper during WWll and saved many marines lives, and I am proud of him and my other family members who have served our country.  However, I think of Sergeant York not wanting to make money, and I find more value in that.  What does America value in American Sniper?  The family sacrifice?  The sacrifice of our soldiers; mentally, physically and psychologically?  Those are the things that I can find value in.

Pollack mentions Dancing with Wolves as a film that would not have been accepted in the 30’s 40’s 50’s because of the way it depicts “the west”.  If you haven’t seen this film I strongly suggest it, it is an amazing film.  Kevin Costner’s character leaves the white man’s way of life and joins the Lakota Indians because he likes the simplicity of their lives.  During the movie the audiences see how the white man treated the indians. It was very horrific and accurate to real life.  As time goes by we accept films for not just entertainment but for what they contribute as far as values, along with that fact that what Americans value changes.  

American watch an American sniper shoot and kill a child to protect his troops “as entertainment”, but we also watch films such as Dancing with Wolves “as entertainment” and we can find value in watching what the white man did to the Indians.  I think Americans put a lot of value in it’s history.  That seems to be the easiest way to explain why we value these movies and also see them as entertainment.

Harry Potter and the Quest for Tolerance

        Yergensen writes about the utility of the fantasy film genre for Christian living, and how fantasy film can be a source of inspiration at any step on an individual’s journey through that religion. However, fantasy has utility far beyond what Yergensen explores in their paper. Yergensen presents the Harry Potter films as a hallmark for the emergence of fantasy as a top-grossing genre, but goes on to use the Lord of the Rings trilogy as an example. However, I think Harry Potter notably provided tools for living for almost the entirety generation, and those tools are still being used today.

            Where Lord of the Rings follows the roadmap of a Christian individual exploring their religious path from acceptance to education, Harry Potter addressed themes of out-group acceptance, tolerance and the impact of otherness in a subtle way. Not a single viewer of Harry Potter will forget the way they felt when Hermione was first called a mudblood- a slur in the wizarding world to refer to an individual from a non-magical family. Children (and young adults, and just the regular kind of adults) who may have never experienced adversity in their lives were suddenly faced with prejudice- prejudice that was, technically, aimed toward them.
            To the core characters of Harry Potter, this discrimination was seen as despicable, and their reaction to the slur appropriate. At a certain point, Hermione even punches Draco Malfoy square in the face for using the word. The audience feels catharsis from this- technically, the slur applied to them, too, and the bully that uttered the word got their just desserts. They deserved it, because it is wrong to use slurs and other harmful words to people. A young audience internalized these scenes deeply, and these values carried on through their youth and into their adult lives.
            After this, the audience is equipped to deal with similar issues in real life. The person who has never faced adversity before might be more attuned at recognizing its victim, and those who have might be more perceptive of when they are being victimized and how to respond (ideally without violence). In any case, the audience now knows of at least a few examples (fictional though they may be) of people who would stand up in the face of adversity, and they too might follow in the footsteps of Harry Potter and friends.
            While the pureblood-mudblood example is perhaps a bit more evident and even heavy-handed than others, let’s not also forget Hermione’s crusade to free the House Elves in Hogwarts. That particular subplot explored civil rights on a few levels: as an outsider, how does Hermione determine what House Elves want or need? Does she do more harm than good in her attempts to help the situation, while remaining an outsider? Those are questions for another post, but it goes to show that Harry Potter often and sometimes quite deeply explored these sorts of themes.  
            There is some research to suggest that the tools for living Harry Potter has provided with the millennial has even been potentially significant enough to effect real-life voting in presidential elections. I would not be entirely surprised if this was the case, but you can read more for yourself here, if you’re interested:
Can you think of more examples like this? And the question on my mind- how much impact could a series like Harry Potter really have on a generation? Is it as significant as the linked article suggests? 

Movies: The let-down of the avid reader

I can remember the first time I discovered the greatness that is Dan Brown. I was in sixth grade and my mother had been going on and on about the sequel to her favorite book Angles & Demons, that had just came out. It was called The Da Vinci Code and she was calling everyone she knew and demanding they go out and buy a copy that instant.

Being an avid reader myself, I picked up the book a few days later and spent the entire next week glued to the pages; absorbing and studying every bit of it that I could. I’m not going to lie, it was quite a chore; but once I completed it I felt such a sense of accomplishment, pride and a whole new understanding about the world of religion and symbolism. The next Christmas my mother even bought me my own illustrated version of the book, that I still treasure to this day. 

Fast forward to 2006, Ron Howard’s film version of The Da Vinci Code is released and people flocked to the theatres across the world — well, at least in countries where it was not banned. The film grossed $758 million worldwide and was ranked as the fifth highest grossing film in the U.S. People ate up the film, but just as many spat it back out in disgust and the film did not have nearly the cultural impact I was hoping for. I was hoping to see streams of people, even students my age, flocking to the library to read up on ancient sects and secret societies. However, it seemed to only drive people farther away.  

My personal feelings on the movie aside, I find that whenever I bring up some of the movies finer points with friends or co-workers — points that I have researched well beyond the scope of Brown’s pages — I am often met with something along the lines of, “Oh, you mean like from the Da Vinci Code?” My initial excitement soon turns to despair as I discover they, usually, had “only watched the movie” and had a very elementary understanding of what the author was really pushing and gave no effort to do any self-research after the fact.

People moving away from written material, however, is not at all an uncommon thing. As we learned in Caleb Crain’s Twilight of Books, the amount of time and number of people reading written books/newspapers/articles is declining rapidly while the amount of television and other such media is increasing.

Throughout this chapter, however, we also hear of some theories and studies indicating that with the decline of reading, so comes the decline in “smarts.” On page 316 of the reading, we learn about the studies done regarding the babies and videos along with more studies of third graders and television.  

Now, there is a reason why, in elementary school your teacher would instruct you to write a book report on the actual book and “not just watch the movie at home.” One reason I could think of is because the director can often misunderstand the story. Remember, it’s not the director’s story, but he (or she) still gets to tell it in his or her own way; and, occasionally, it can become something else entirely.

In Twilight of Books, it is also indicated that those who read a message to themselves come away with a more positive understanding of the topic than those who received the other. Now, in the case of The Da Vinci Code, I think this fits like a glove. The book is complex and can be quite dense at times, especially when going through history and religious texts, but the work is all laid of for the reader to go through and come away with a better understanding and “feel” for what they have experienced.

Think about it, the average movie is a little less than two hours, and many people will only really watch a movie once. A book is a far more serious investment of your time and, whether you love it or hate it, it is obvious it takes much more effort both physically and mentally. You have to really want to finish a hard book, a movie, at least in my mind, is far easier to flip off.

My questions to you all are 1) Do you agree with me that movies almost always miss the mark on what the original author was trying to say? 2) Do you agree with my conclusion that as the written media declines so will the overall intelligence of the coming generations, especially in the realm of critical thinking and analyzing/absorbing information? 3) Do you have any similar examples such as mine. Movies that you were hoping would push your favorite written work further only to see it only drop it lower down on the scale?

Before SNL, there was the variety show.

The reading, “Television Technology and Cultural Form” mentions the different types of television shows. First of all, I remember moving from a black and white TV to color. I remember only getting the major stations, maybe that was five. But the reading mentioned variety shows. It reminded me of the shows I use to watch on television. It was interesting how different this genre has changed over the years. In fact, about half of the programming in the 60s and 70s was a type of variety show.

Carol Burnett Show. The one that I remember the most was the Carol Burnett Show. This show ran from 1967 to 1978. For those not familiar with this show, Carol Burnett had a regular cast featuring a special guest, much like Saturday Night Live. It was mostly comedy skits mingled with music performances. The regular comedy team had created some pretty funny characters making regular performances throughout the shows existence. Here is one known as Mama’s family.

Laugh-In. This variety show ran from 1968 to 1973. The show was pushing the envelope of normal. Its style was innovative. It was fashioned after the hippie scene. Goldie Hawn, mother of Kate Hudson, was part of the comedy team. Here is a clip that gives you a feel of the show.

 Here is another clip of a very popular reoccurring skit, Operator Ernestine, played by Lily Tomlin.


Hee Haw. There was even a variety show of the country theme, Hee Haw. It ran between 1969 through 1992. It too had music and comedy skits.

Lawrence Welk Show. Probably one of the longest running variety shows was Lawrence Welk. It ran from 1955 through 1982. This was more of a formal musical show with big band type music. The music conductor, Lawrence Welk was of German descent and spoke with an accent. He praised the performances saying, “Wunnerful, wunnerful, wunnerful.”

Advertising. And last but not least, there have been significant changes in advertising. I remember when cigarette commercials were taken off the air in January 1, 1971. Here is John Wayne promoting Camel cigarettes in this commercial.

 Have you seen television shows and programming change in your lifetime? What shows do you remember watching growing up?  By the way, you may think these clips are bad quality (and you're right they are), but this is as good of quality picture as it got back in the day...even with keeping hold of the rabbit ears to get better reception.

Fantasy Inception

The fantasy within a fantasy is highly inception-esque concept.  Brent Yergensen's paper talks about cultural interpretations of a fantasy film: Lord of the Rings.  The beauty of movies falls within the development of a completely different time, world, or situation.  Fictional or based on a true story, the popular culture blossoms from a common artifact (in this case a film) and enables the viewers to develop a shared consciousness about the film.  The twist I enjoyed in this concept is an already developed culture introducing and comparing themes in a popular context.

Lord of the Rings is a fantasy genre movie that holds the claim as one of the biggest movie franchises.  By using the movies, viewers can give those movies more meaning than what was originally intended.

The Chronicles of Narnia is an intended allegory for Christians by C.S. Lewis's design but Lord of the Rings at first glance would not seem to be a Christian parable full of allegorical significance.

The power of discourse in a community/culture is how the combined rhetorical vision cultivates and becomes a shared reality.  Rhetorical vision?  A rhetorical vision is a portion of the Fantasy-themed criticism that is also known as symbolic convergence theory.  Groups use fantasies to create a shared outlook on things and develop a rhetorical vision.  Several movies or even television shows can create a fantasy from a fantasy.

An example of such fantasies within a fantasy takes me back to my childhood.  Two shows ruled my afternoon, FRIENDS and Dragon Ball Z.

My family loved watching friends and how I respond to awkward situations, I use humor like Chandler.  The rest of my family also does this.  Portions of the show shaped not only our conversations but also how we viewed certain scenarios and people.  Dragon Ball Z at school created a whole new universe to explore during recesses. The discussions we had were found within the verbiage of the shows and created a rhetorical vision of my childhood culture.  One show is hypothetical while the other is completely unrealistic but hardships I face and challenges were easy to wrestle with.  Popular culture has a strong impact on how individuals develop.

What popular culture artifacts dictated your reality?  Do you think popular culture has had a major effect on you?  If not, why not?  How prevalent do you think popular culture has on how we view the world?

The Last Five Years

The Last Five Years is a musical created by Jason Robert Brown. It was adapted to film and released in February of this year featuring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan. The movie follows the story of Cathy and Jamie’s five-year romantic relationship. This small analysis of the movie discusses the plot line and the unique telling of the story.

I chose The Last Five Years because it is based on two characters and has two intertwining plot lines. Cathy’s story starts at the end of the relationship and continues in reverse chronological order. Jamie’s story starts at the beginning and follows a regular chronological order. The two stories meet in the middle of their relationship at their engagement.

The progression of the story is interesting and if you go into the movie not knowing about it, it would be hard to follow because of the contrast between each scene. Especially at the beginning and the end of the movie, each scene is very different from the next. The characters are in different places in the relationship and at times it is hard to keep track of it.

I think this plotline works because it makes the audience think. If told in order, the story would almost feel stale. The characters go through some trials, but the story wouldn’t be as interesting because it would feel just like normal life. I think movies that mimic “normal life” can have a value, but overall we watch movies for their entertainment value and to escape reality. Telling the story out of order puts the audience to work in order to piece the storyline together. The plotline also reminds the audience of both the good times and the bad times of a relationship. Upfront, the audience knows that the story doesn’t end with a happy ever after.

Aesthetically the movie is very interesting. In each of the characters’ plotlines, the scenes start off very light and bright, visually. As the stories progress and reach the end of the relationship, the scenes get darker. So Cathy’s story starts off dark and ends light, while Jamie’s story starts light and gets dark.

The use of music is very similar to the use of color. At the beginning of the storylines, the character’s songs are more upbeat and happy. This is expected because the songs are about being in love and that euphoric feeling found at the beginning of a relationship. As the stories progress, the songs tend to slow down and become more ballad-like. The music is the main focus of the movie because it is adapted from a staged musical, so it is expected that the music have some sort of larger role in that sense.

The Last Five Years has become a movie I can just watch over and over again because I catch something new every time I watch it. I would encourage you to see it because it is different from most movies, but do be aware there is a lot of singing. Below are the songs from the staged version of the show.

Television in Demand

            In Postman’s article, he mentions how American shows are so popular not because foreign people love Americans, but because they love American television.  While I’ve heard how popular some American shows are in other countries, I’ve never really thought of why this was.  Here in America, the vast majority of our television is made and distributed by Americans and American companies, with a little of it coming from Canada and the United Kingdom and some anime and not much coming from anywhere else.  I think it would be quite interesting, and perhaps our culture would be quite different as well, if many of the television shows we watched came from other countries. I am reminded of Asian samurai movies that cable sometimes airs that are dubbed over their original language in English.  Personally, I find it distracting to watch a show that has been dubbed over and it’s hard to image a large amount of the shows aired could be dubbed over if another country that speaks another language dominated television production and was in high demand like American television.

 But, a lot of other places don't have the same obsession with and addiction to television like we do. Perhaps this is because American produces so much television.  The article talks about how some places only have television to watch the news their leaders want them to here, if they even have television at all; our culture would be so different if we didn't have television because it is just so ingrained as a part of our culture basically from the time we are born.  And while television isn’t nearly as popular in a lot of other countries as it is in this country, it is still thought provoking as to how American culture would differ if we received television shows from other countries on a regular basis or even at all.  After all, our television shows help shape our values and tell us what to watch and care about.  If another country were producing shows with their country’s values outlined and exporting them for us to watch, how different do you think our values could be?  In which aspects of life do you think our culture would differ if we didn't have television at all?

Film Mimics Life, Life Mimics Film

This quote by Burke was intriguing in the Yergensen article:

"They would consider works of art . . . as strategies for selecting enemies and allies, for socializing losses, for warding off evil eye, for purification, propitiation, and desanctification, consolation and vengeance, admonition and exhortation, implicit commands or instructions . . . Art forms like ‘tragedy’ or ‘comedy’ or ‘satire’ would be treated as equipment for living, that size up situations in various ways."

Catharsis is prevalent in the study of film, but also especially in its enjoyment.  All the allusions made about Inglorious Basterds in Springer's article point to this function for Jews.  Audiences especially enjoy narratives with happy endings, allowing them to dream about situations where everything works out perfectly, even though their own lives may be falling apart.  Film has a way of siphoning off our guilt, fear, anxiety, stress, etc. in a way that not many other art forms do.  It brings renewal and energy to life afterward, and can offer so much of this that audiences return multiple times to a movie they've already seen.

What Burke is saying, is that more than catharsis, art acts as a teacher.  Things like film tell us what to do in situations that are similar.  This can work well at times, where there are so many complexities in life, art may simulate appropriate ways of dealing with them.  Yet, with the prevalence of movies, television, and Youtube videos, this may overload future generations.  With so many directions on how to live, what to wear, and why to do something, expectations may be overrun.  The human passions the films were supposed to purge are replaced with hopes that are dissatisfied.

By limiting the art we are exposed to, we may more carefully construct the way we are instructed.  Our choice of movies then becomes a reflection and a selection of the reality we have chosen for ourselves.  If film makers wish to continue to sell movies, they must then reflect what people value, and so the cycle continues of mimesis.

I like to think that overall, people are good, and that most artists want to put more positivity into the world.

What do you think, does life imitate art as Oscar Wilde thinks? Or does art imitate life?

Marathon Viewing

As a kid, the popular shows on television (that I can remember), were made so that the casual viewer could watch a random episode and not be completely left in the dark. One show that comes to mind is Seinfeld. Sure the show is better if you know the characters and their relationships with each other, but if I were to watch for the first time and watch a random episode in any season, I could jump right in.

While there are still plenty of shows running today that offer this same convenience, there are now a bunch of shows that basically require the viewer to start from the beginning and stay up to date. I just started watching House of Cards and after only a few episodes, I realize the disservice I would be doing myself if I didn’t start from the beginning. One of my favorite shows of all time is Lost. Lost, maybe more than any show I can think of, is enhanced when the viewer has seen the previous episodes.

Imagine watching this scene without having watched any other episode from the series…

The reason these “marathon” type shows are so much more prevalent is pretty obvious to me. Because of the internet, we are now capable of binge watching tv shows, and getting to pick the episodes that we want without having to purchase a set of dvd’s or videos. The better questions then is why do we like marathon shows?

One reason we enjoy them is that we get invested in the characters and want to see their lives and situations play out. That’s why fans of these shows get depressed when the series come to an end. Unless all the characters die at the end, there is still more that we don’t know and that can be a hard pill to swallow. Writers and producers have also become experts at creating cliffhangers. Lost was especially good at this. I remember staying up until five in the morning continually promising myself that each episode would be the last. However, the cliffhangers at the end of each episode were too enticing. Check out this cliffhanger from Lost. Spoiler alert: Jack has been taken by the others (the enemy) and three of his friends sneak up on the camp right before the end of the episode. Here is what they find…

Marathon viewing is a trend that will continue to grow if the industry keeps shifting the way it has. Assuming that you enjoy marathon watching, why do you?

What other reasons do you think people are drawn to these types of shows?
The English Accent


It is intriguing, as we look at popular culture and film in particular, many common themes begin to rise like cream on fresh milk. One of these, I have found particularly interesting and have been looking for a moment to bring it to the public’s attention, however small my public may be. I have asked myself often, if many others have noticed this phenomena taking place or have gone as far to ponder its effects. The British accent. In this blog post I hope to shed some light, or at least spark conversation, on the hegemonic nature of how United States culture views the use of the British accent, or English accent in films.
The conversation taking place on whether film producers should stay true to the art of the industry, or embrace the entertainment money making aspect that it holds is ongoing and growing. However, it is also safe to say that whether for art or entertainment, the producer has a clear purpose and that is to cater to an audience that will enjoy, consume, or participate in his/her creation. Because film, and stories in general, often seek to take their audience somewhere new, a land or idea to which they can escape the monotony of their world, often creators of such stories enjoy including aspects that will allow the audience to feel as if they’ve left their world and are somewhere foreign, experiencing and adventuring somewhere new. This may be a potential reason for why the English or British accent is so often used, when a producer wants to enter a new world and yet speak a language that the audience can understand and not have to read, yet carry some foreign aspect, the British accent is most often chosen. This is not to say that it is always chosen, in fact in movies that require continuity because of historical fact, or geographical speculation, other accents like the Irish, Scottish, Australian, etc. are used respectively. No, it is all the situations that do not require such continuity, in their abundance that I wish to turn attention to, and it is because of this prominence I feel that there is value in studying them and anticipating there will be effects.
The list of movies that utilize British accents seems to grow each time I look to create one. If I may, encourage you as the reader to think of movies that use this accent from as recent to as old as you may see fit. This list may include but most definitely not limited to; “The Lord of the Rings”, “Star Wars”, “The Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Harry Potter”, “Jupiter Ascending”, “The imitation game”, “Dragon Heart”, “The Princess Bride”, “Romeo and Juliet” (almost any version), “Eragon”, “James Bond” (in their abundance), “X-men”, and the list goes on. It would seem, therefore, that anytime an audience takes a journey to a new land, or new world, or new phenomena, it is most often accompanied by the use of the British accent. Love stories to secret agents are given a foreign aspect that the U.S. culture has been eating up for some time, and my argument is we may not be aware of the effects it’s having. It would begin to appear that if one is going to be daring, interesting, supernatural, cunning, beautiful, dashing, courageous, and a list of other important and desired qualities you would also therefore have to be English. We see this emulated in common conversation, think of a time when you wanted to pretend or make jest of being higher class or more prestigious, often such situations are followed with imitating the English accent. Does the intended prestige of the accent therefore have effect on American Culture? Are our audiences becoming subject to British culture in one way or another because of what we have created?
Some would argue that it is merely because the British accent resonates closest with the origin of the English language. To such an argument I might agree for any situation that seeks continuity for historical and demographical realness, however for the large portion of stories that do not require as such, the argument loses its luster as such an accent is not nearly inclusive of the many accents that existed in development and after the origin of the English language. The accent that we now hear is far from the origin of the Old English or Anglo-Saxon English that developed was is anticipated to be around the year 1066 according to the Merriam-Webster’s definition of the origin of the language.

In conclusion, I am simply calling for an interest and awareness of the abundance of the use of the English accent, to be a critical consumer. Because it is so prominent in so many of American movies, it is only mere reason to evaluate and realize that some effects must be taking place. Will movies only ever be prestigious and of greater value if the English accent is used?


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Evolving Face

What I found most interesting in Yergensen's article on Lord of the Rings was his discussion on how Brummet (1985) interpreted Burke's equipment for living applied to styling haunted house films. Yergensen writes: " the film must articulate the concerns, fears, and hope of the people; and second, the film must provide a resolution to situations or experiences similar to the movie viewer's so that the movie viewer now has a motive for dealing with problems in his or her own life" (p.6). This website on Horror Film History I found (which seems to be well sourced) discusses how the monsters in horror films dramatically changed during the WW2 period: "now there were more recognizably human faces attached to evil. Faces who had fought on both sides in WW2, the developers of the atom bomb and the death camp, mad scientists indeed whose activities would have unnerved even Victor Frankenstein or Dr Moreau" (see link for quote). This site also discusses how sound changed the film industry in the 30s and visual effects revolutionized the 80s. Yergensen's discussion explains why each generation (or decade) has a motif of monster/horror that comes to represent the period. The fears of people in the WW2 period are very different from the fears of those today. Horror filmmakers have to adapt and respond to their audiences or they will not be successful. 

This can be applied to all genres, though. I think the best example to see how filmmakers have evolved their characters to fit the needs of their audiences is by looking at the Batman films from 1966 (Martinson), 1989 (Burton), and 2005-2012 series (Nolan). There are other Batman films but these are the main ones I would reference. 

As shown in the above picture, Batman's image progressed to be much less campy to a more intimidating and dark figure. Beginning with a Batman who is suited up in light gray with a yellow symbol, the next Batman is cloaked in black but still with the yellow symbol. Bale's Batman has lost all color and the icon symbol is reimagined. Not to mention this Batman's suit is more like tactical gear than a disguise.

Here is an illustration that includes other Batman films that also shows how the character has evolved. 

 Batman's arch-enemy, the Joker, has also undergone a dramatic makeover over the years. 

As with Batman, the Joker progressively evolves toward a stronger image of derangement. Simply looking at the changes in makeup and hair style indicate the extremism of Heath Ledger's Joker compared to his predecessors who retain a much more polished appearance. 

By looking at the cultural context of each time period these films were created, we can see how the filmmakers took cues on the development of these characters. 

-The 1966 Joker has the most clown-like/comical appearance. The makeup exaggerates his features and his magenta coat and green hair scream carnival or circus act. His appearance may also be influenced by the hippie/drug movement of the 60s, but this claim requires further exploration. 

-The 1989 Joker still retains the bright colored clothing and green hair, but we have an addition of mobster hat and emphasized yellow teeth. Clearly, this Joker is still meant to trigger images of clowns and such, but the hat and teeth inspire a more rough and dangerous tone to the character. More wild/uncivilized.

-The 2008 Joker has completely left behind the bright clothing for a grungier appearance. His makeup is smeared, his hair is a greasy mess. Compared to his predecessor, he is the last one I would want to run into in a dark alley. His character is arguably more twisted and violent as well. 

It is my personal view that the Dark Knight series as a whole brought the Batman story to a darker level than ever approached by the previous films. Why is this so? You will have to read my capstone thesis to find out. . . (stay tuned for more). 

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Do you have any examples of character evolution that may be discussed in terms of Yergensen's article?

Life Lessons in Lord of the Rings

Fantasy films have gained extreme popularity in the past decade in the film industry.  Because of this great increase in fantasy films that are being produced and viewed, many scholars have chosen to discover the underlying themes within these films, and to analyze how the audiences use these themes in their lives.  Kenneth Burke recognized the influential power of literature, and determined that literature enabled individuals to apply situations presented within the literature to similar situations within their lives.
The concept equipment for living was conceived by Burke, who explained that audiences use literature to find answers to the problems they face in everyday life. Audiences are able to learn how to deal with issues by viewing or reading artifacts with applicable lessons in them. A key factor of equipment for living is that the audience feels that the media or literature they are viewing is relevant to their situation. Many scholars have applied equipment for living to analyze how films function in the audience's lives.
Brent Yergensen applied equipment for living to Christian's use of Lord of the Rings, and discovered four fantasy themes within 20 online articles about this film and Christianity.  The four themes were realization, repentance, being strengthened, and teaching others.  Yergensen argued that these four themes or steps are presented in Lord of the Rings, and can be used by any Christian who is in any part of the Christian integration process.
For example, the theme of being strengthened is demonstrated when Gandalf overcomes death just as Jesus Christ did. Christians found this scene in Lord of the Rings to be relevant to their beliefs, and may have even strengthened their notion of resurrection. Films have the ability to have great influence on the lives of individuals who view them. Interestingly, Yergensen discovered that Christian individuals also use Lord of the Rings references to teach their fellow Christians.  This more obvious use of equipment for living was documented in the article, and can be recognized as a way that individuals use films to enhance their lives, and the lives of others.
I found this analysis to be very informative of the way that societies use popular culture within their lives. The analysis demonstrates how important it is to study popular culture because of the great impact it can have on individuals' choices and problem solving abilities. Yergensen successfully identified one way that fantasy themes can function in society’s daily life, and the importance films may have for unique groups of people.
Upon reading this analysis, I thought of many unique groups or cultures that may value films for a great variety of reasons.  I think it would be very interesting to conduct a similar analysis, looking at the equipment for living of a single film, but more two or more different unique groups of people.  

If you were to conduct a similar analysis, what movie would you choose to study?

What unique group or culture would you analyze?

The Future of Television

            When I was young, television was a friend and a teacher even though adults of those days called the television an idiot box. Television provided me both entertainment and information. Especially I encountered the different cultures of the world at the first time through the movies, dramas and music in the television. I lived in small city in South Korea and there were not many chances to meet foreigners and their cultures in those days. Thus I think the television is one aspect that made me as a Korean student of SUU today.
However, a television has a different meaning to me after 20 years from my childhood. In "The Age of Show Business”, some quixotic uses of television, such as a lamp or a bookshelf, were brought forward. After reading the part, I reminded myself, because television lost its original purpose in my house.
I and my husband turn on the television when we listen to music at the living room or when we watch movies with a television screen because it is bigger than the computer monitor. In other words, the television has been functioning as a speaker or DVD player at my house for two years.
One of the reasons that I did not register the television service since I moved in America was language. However, the fact is I really didn’t want it. In fact, I did not have a television in South Korea for eight years. What happened to me?
<Average Speed of the Internet & The penetration rate of the high-speed Internet>
“The Internet” happened. South Korea ranks top in the penetration rate of the Internet and its speed in the world. Furthermore, the distribution rate of smart phone that enables the Internet use is higher than 80%. As the Internet is developed, I did not have to get entertainment and information from the television, because the Internet is much faster and has wider selection. Nowadays I watch dramas, TV Shows, movies and news online using my computer or my cellphone. If I watch it with bigger screen, it is easy to connect computer or phone with a television so that television works as just a screen. There is also smart TV that connects with the Internet directly.
In accordance with “the age of show business”, a technology is a physical apparatus like a brain and a medium is a use to which a physical apparatus is put like the mind. Nowadays television is maintaining a role as a technology but it is loosing its role as a medium.
Someone may argue that there is nothing can substitute the television. Yet until the compact disc was distributed, I thought in that way regarding the cassette tape. Today there are many people who do not know how to use even a compact disc because we use mp3 files to listen to music.
Consequently, television is still my friend but it is not my best friend anymore. Everything is changing, and I am curious about the future of a television.

Question 1) What do you think about the future of the television?
Question 2) Do you agree with that the television is loosing a role as a medium?