Thursday, April 27, 2017

The scene behind the scene

Everyone loves a good plot, but how many people think of the sub-plot. One of my favorite television series is How I Met Your Mother. Spoiler alert if you haven't seen the last season, then shame on you and you might not want to read this. If you are not afraid of being spoiled then please keep reading.

 S9:E12 (The Rehearsal Dinner) While talking about where to have Barney and Robin's wedding in this episode, in the background you can see the life history of a couple and their son through the years.
This was the first time that I had seen anything like this. This scene made me question "What if this isn't the first time this is happening?" What if something like this has been happening in the sub-plot all along? I define sub-plot as anything that is happening that isn't a key factor to the plot of either an episode or a movie. What if there is so much more going on in the sub-plot that we didn't even realize as an audience.

While talking to an illustration friend, i discovered this is actually a very common phenomenon in anime television. There are currently a ton of fan theories about Pokemon characters who only appear in an assortment of episodes together. After hearing about this I decided to Google search a few things on background characters. Two interesting articles that I found were Star Wars: 15 Background Characters With Incredibly Detailed Backstories by David Reddish, and What is a Minor Character: Understanding the Minor Characters' Role by Orson Scott Card.
Card talks about how to better develop minor characters' that only appear momentarily in stories, whereas Reddish talks about some of the different background characters the are barely shown, but have background stories that take longer to read than their screen time.

While both of these articles talk about characters that directly interact with our main protagonist or other important characters to the story, my curiosity revolves around characters that have no interaction with the typical cast. Would it be possible for producers to create an entire story similar to Easter eggs. This would be where actors or actresses come in for select episodes in seasons and their scenes can create a story if all tied together. In other words what if the scene shown above was broken up through several different episodes or even seasons. If these were incorporated into shows or movies, would these be big hits? Could this idea be the next revelation into television culture?

Would you be able to catch a sub-plot if it happened in your favorite t.v. series or movie?
Have you seen a sub-plot in a t.v. series or movie?
- if yes, what series and what did it look like?
- if no, what series could use a sub-plot to surprise viewers?
Do you think sub-plots could be the next revelation into television culture? Why/ why not?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Thanks A Lot, Destiny

When I think of popular culture and what types of media that includes, currently I'm drawn to such a big year for hit movies (Fast 8, Wonder Woman, GotG Vol 2, etc.) or even the streaming fads of late (13 Reasons Why or Netflix's Marvel series). I'm the first to admit that I am extremely excited to be entertained by all of these sequels and prequels, redos and remixes. When I saw the recently released trailer for Star Wars 8, I just said, "take my money now". However, maybe it isn't that time of year, but I'm just not in the video game mood right now, and I haven't been for some time. Six years ago, I was placing a pre-order purchase on the new Elder Scrolls game that wasn't even going to come out until November. Now, I only turn on my PlayStation to watch HBO.

Image result for 2017 year of the movies

Sure, I still like video games, and I can still get lost for hours in the mythical world of Skyrim, but that's just the point: I'm still playing the same games I've been playing for years; I have no desire to go buy any new games. Like I said before, though, I used to pre-order games. You know, go pay GameStop $5 to $10 to get my receipt (pay it off however quickly I want), wait in line the night it releases, and be one of the very first players. To this day, I never regretted pre-ordering Skyrim, but putting in money to pre-order one of the very many Call of Duty titles just left a bad taste in my mouth. All of that excitement and anticipation led to a night of asking, "wait, what's different from the last one?". That's when I learned video games' first big scam: the pre-ordered loan. Jeff Bakalar writes on the very reason not to pre-order games; if only I had the sense beforehand to realize I was just fronting the money before the game was even completed--literally paying for them to finish it with the hopes that I will be satisfied with the product.

Image result for earliest pre order for video games

But, whatever, I still liked video games. I just know there's no point in pre-ordering it when there are endless copies upon release anyway. But where one scam might pitter out, another is there waiting for you (rather, again, you are the one waiting). I get a good recommendation from a friend to purchase a newer game, and generally, that's good enough for me, but the added benefit that we could play online together was a solid purchase for hours and hours of entertainment. So I did, and we put far too many hours into the game to ever doubt our decision to pay $60 for it. But after several months, we started hearing rumors that the company was going to add more weapons and missions to the game to enhance what was already a great game--what a great idea! Well, the first Downloadable Content (DLC) had a price tag of $20. That wasn't too bad; we'd already gotten our money out of it anyway, and this would double our playing time capacity for a fraction of the price. Well, DLC 2, then 3 came out, and pretty soon we realize that we weren't competitive in the game anymore because we didn't purchase the new content which upgrades your characters and sets a new maximum level limit. What was even worse is that people who purchased the original game could buy it with all 3 DLCs for the same original price of $60 rather than the added amounts that we have been charged along the way for being loyal players! So we get sick of it, boycott playing the game, and revert back to games we had on the shelf.

Image result for destiny expansions

I get a phone call today from that same friend who now lives in Arizona: "Hey, I miss the good ol days of saving the galaxy with ya bud; Are we going to pre-order Destiny 2 or what? We can play it early if we do!"

Coming in at #1 on 5 Video Game DLC So Bad, They Should be Considered Scams

Image result for destiny 2 pre order

Discussions Questions:

Do you feel like Pre-Ordering and DLC is a scam in a market that can control their own destiny (more and more games are creating this business model)(no pun intended)?

What would the equivalence of Video Game Pre-Orders (paying for something not yet complete) and DLC (paying for something, then having to pay more for the forced update or become outdated) in other types of media or technology? And would people accept this type of business model?

Paranormal Addiction

The love of the paranormal has taken over. More and more programs are based on the paranormal and have different ways to explore it.

The paranormal shows most people I know watch center around paranormal monsters trying to be human, or at least blend in. Shows like Being Human. The point is these supernatural/paranormal creatures just want to be human. Ghosts, vampires, werewolves, all have normal jobs and do everything they can to fit in. This is the type of programming has become really popular lately. People love the idea that the paranormal exists, and we just don't know because of how human these creatures act.

Of course, there's also shows like Supernatural. Depicting the paranormal in the more 'traditional" sense. There's monsters, ghosts, demons and all sorts of supernatural creatures; and while some are good and do their best to maintain humanity, the majority are terrible monsters that need to be killed. The main characters occasionally partner up with angels and demons, but they know even the angels have problems!

 Another type of program explores the paranormal in "real life". Now, not everyone really believes in this programs. Some people think these shows are completely real. Some think ghosts are real, but the program is fake. Some think the whole idea of ghosts is fake.  Whatever your views sometimes the show is just an interesting thing to watch. Most shows in this genre are invited to locations. The owners think that the place is haunted, so they invite ghost hunters in to find proof. In some episodes, they "prove" the ghosts are there, and in some, they find no evidence.

The point is people love the paranormal. These three different programs explore the paranormal in their own unique way, but all are popular for different reasons. The point is, despite the differences these shows are all about the same thing, The Paranormal. People are obsessed with the idea that there is more out there than we understand. To some, the idea of ghosts means a loved one could still be around. To others the idea of meeting your vampire, or werewolf, soulmate is alluring. Others, just think Sam and Dean are hot. Regardless, people are addicted to the paranormal.

Discussion Questions
1. Do you watch any of these three types of paranormal programs?
2. Do you think there are other types that I didn't mention?
2. What is your favorite program that deals in the paranormal?

A glimpse into my Paranormal culture

For my last post I wanted to discuss something that's a little more toward my own "personal" pop culture. As we all know America has their own pop culture, just like America so do other countries. So for me, I grew up with two pop culture America and Mexico. They both have their similarities and difference. For this post I will just be talking about the paranormal pop culture.

When I see the main paranormal here in America there are a wide range of themes. From ghost, aliens, mythical creatures, man made monsters, exorcism, Satanic things, vampires and of course who can forget about Zombies. A lot of these paranormal do originally originated from other countries. But America has made a big mark with these paranormal theme. Though the one's that I do find the most connection with are the one's you could consider are involved with "religion." Such as ghost, exorcism, and satanic "things."

If you were to know or study anything about Mexico. You know that the majority of the country is strongly religious (I'm just going to keep it at that). Since it's highly religious country, a lot of the paranormal culture are involve with spirits, ghost and satanic things. For example a highly popular paranormal myth is La Llorona (the crying). La Llorona is pretty much a ghost. The myth is that there was lady who killed her children in the river. Mainly because her husband left her for someone else. Though after killing her own children, she realized what she has done. Then she drowns herself in the river. The myth says that her soul/ghost wanders and crying as she tries to find her children she killed. There is are different version of will happen if you come across her. From either bring you bad luck or "taking" you away. Honestly as scary as this myth is, I remember a lot of my friends and I heard this as we were kids. Mainly so we didn't wander outside to late and come across La Llorona.

(A Version Commercial focusing on a common Hispanic/Latin Myth)

There are many other myths as well. Just like the La Llorona, they are mainly based around spiritual things. Though don't get me wrong there are other myths that aren't spiritual, like la chupacabra (pretty much a evil wolf). But a high amount are based of spiritual. To some that I do believe in, okay probably not the La Llorona. But things like exorcism, evil spirits, satanic things that we mustn't do, and ghost. 

Overall having two strong pop cultures influences really makes things interesting. Mainly since I can see the similarities and difference between both. Also how one pop culture affects me more than another. For paranormal Mexico pop culture was my first connection, then came Americans. At the end of the day looking into different pop culture and seeing the similarities and differences is pretty interesting

1. Have you ever looked into different countries pop cultures?
2. Have you ever seen similarities or difference from one countries pop cultures compare to Americas?
3. Do believe in paranormal? If so which one do you find the most interesting? 

Could we accept it? currently does a top 50 of The Best Paranormal Reality Shows. With all of these different shows, someone doesn't have to watch them to think some are bound to say "paranormal activity is real, and here is my evidence to prove it." Yes it is easy for shows to make things up, and say ghost are real to make their T.V. show more seen, but what would it take for everyone to believe it.
According to Ghost Adventures is the top rated paranormal reality show. While doing a quick search of Google you a bio of Ghost Adventures reads
"Paranormal investigator Zak Bagans leads his team of co-investigators at haunted locations both in America and abroad, interviewing locals about alleged hauntings before going face to face with supernatural entities. Each hour-long episode follows Bagans and his crew as they work to uncover the paranormal mysteries, and after piecing together the haunted history of each site, the team holds a dusk-to-dawn "lockdown" in an effort to obtain physical evidence of the paranormal and discover the truth."
This is a link to Ghost Adventures Best Moments submitted by Antonio Vega on Youtube. 

I chose to include Ghost Adventures because I find Bagans entertaining, and this serves as a example of what ghost shows are like. 
For this post, I'm not trying to tell my audience that I believe ghost are or are not real. I'm not trying to persuade you to think one way or another. What I'm trying to get my audience to think about it, "What would it take for us to accept it as truth?" What would it take for us to teach it as a knowledge that is well accepted. Why have shows like Ghost Adventures not be enough proof for common acceptance? The easy answer would be when we see it we will believe it, but how many people would just think that they are having an illusion in their mind or someone is playing a prank on them? Ghost have become a major part of our pop culture, but could ghost become a part of traditional culture itself? I know I have posed a few questions in this ending, but while watching ghost videos, and doing the readings these were the questions that kept coming to my mind. 

Ending Questions
What would it take for paranormal activities to go from pop culture to culture?
Do you believe you have experienced paranormal activity? If so, what was it like?
What are your thoughts on shows such as Ghost Adventures

P.S. The further I dove into the videos looking for evidence of ghost, the more unrealistic each video kept getting for me.  Do you think I would be more inclined to believe these, if they seemed more realistic?

Cultivators of our own media bias. (Plus, gluten and science and stuff)

What does it say about me when I tell you that my favorite reading so far is the one with all of the cartoons in it?  I think I may start a petition in order to get all my textbooks translated in cartoon form.  Just think, instead of a boring biology textbook, I could get all of my required reading done on !

Brooke Gladstone touched on two things that I wanted to talk about in this post.  The first of which was when she was writing about how reporters are seduced by the power present in Washington.  Concerning doing actual journalistic work she wrote that this "is extremely unglamorous work in a glamorous town, where reporters often are more glamorous than the people they cover."

Which got me thinking about the current state of news reporting.  Ideally, we could simply place any old mook in the shoes of our nightly revelator of truth and he would dutifully fulfill his roll in society and tell us about the latest goings on in the world.  But that isn't how it all shakes out, is it?  Instead we tune in to the head of a cult of personality who, rather than report on events, relays to us how we should feel about events.  This makes them more actor than newsman/woman.

It gets to the point where we don't want to here our skewed version of reality through anyone else other than our chosen oracles.  Whether that happens to be Rachel Madow or Rush Limbaugh matters very little as both versions of their realities will serve their intended function for their self selected audience.

Society doesn't want to watch the news, they want to watch a narrative.  The preferred narrative is one where (insert favorite ideology here) is winning and (insert hated ideology here) is losing.  I have literally seen links to identical videos with one titled "Conservative Shill Ben Shapiro gets WRECKED by CNN Reporter" and the other  entitled "Ben Shapiro Destroys Liberal Snowflake". 

So which of those two really happened? Depends on your bias I suppose. Personally, I'd love to see a video entitled:

 "Moderate Liberal and Centrist Conservative agree that Hard Core Socialism and Anarcho-Capitalism both suck super hard core and that there are more than just two extremist solutions to most problems."

I know that it is kind of a mouthful, but a guy can dream, can't he?

This brings me to the second point brought on by Brooke Gladstone, which is that fairness bias is a real problem in the way that things get reported.  For instance, fairness bias is one of the reasons why vaccinations are still being debated, long after the benefits of vaccinations are readily apparent to society.  The anti-vax movement doesn't have a scientific leg to stand on and yet we will sit them across from scientists and medical professionals for "debates".

Now, I always have a good chuckle as I watch ex porn stars and naturpathic store owners use anecdotal evidence, testimonials and the power of their feelings in order to argue a case against the scientific method.  The damage is done in that both are presented as though they stand on equal ground when clearly one of them does not.  Those of the public not educated in how to correctly argue a point could be duped into believing the emotional appeal over the scientific and thus a movement is born.

We often allow these arguments to be made simply because we don't want to be perceived as the "bad guy" in the eyes of our peers, but doesn't perpetuating these positions do more harm than good in the end? It reminds me of an interaction with my bat guano crazy sister in law who insisted I make her gluten free crepes because of her gluten sensitivity.  

            "Do you have celiac disease?" I asked.
            "No, what's celiac disease?" came the reply.
            "Then you don't need gluten free crepes," I responded, letting out a sigh of resignation because I knew in my heart of hearts that due to lies spread because of fairness bias that she would never believe me.

Questions for discussion:

1. Do you ever find yourself blocking out news sources that go against the grain of your political views? (I do this all the time.)

2. Can you think of any examples of fairness bias that have set us back as a society?

TV as Addiction: Good or Bad?

Remember when the A-line bob hairstyle popular in 2001? For some it was simply a fashion trend, while for others it was a pop culture phenomenon: The Rachel Green hairstyle simply called “The Rachel." I was only six at the time, the extent of my hairstyling knowledge was being forced to have a tight spiral perm without hair gel, and I had no knowledge of  Friends, but I remember some of the older girls at school talking about the Rachel Green hairstyle. Apparently, it was a big deal.

Todd (2011) suggests that fans of television shows tend to recreate the experience of the show through viewer interpretation and meaning: “As fans engage in television texts, they reproduce the original broadcast: applying their own perspectives to enhance the program’s social image and making meaning out of their own experience” (pg. 3).

The Rachel isn’t the only way fans try to reproduce their favorite television show. There are hundreds, even thousands, of fandoms in the world where fans are constantly reproducing their experience with their shows. As I suggested in my previous post, fandoms have a stigma attached to them since people correlate fandoms with nerds and geeks. But these stereotyped groups aren't the only fans, as we see with The Rachel hairstyle.

Through these fandoms, viewers and fans are able to find communities with shared interests as well as purchase memorabilia from their show or take on characteristics from their favorite character. There are many positive outcomes of fandoms, but how much is too much? How far is too far?

Is it wrong to spend thousands of dollars on Harry Potter memorabilia? Is it wrong to have posters of Ed Sheeran covering someone’s bedroom walls instead of wallpaper? Is it wrong to buy expensive comic books and action figures? Or to style one's hair like you favorite character?

The media has become such a part of our daily lives that fan reproductions of their favorite shows is everywhere, because, “Audiences recognize their own lives in the experiences of familiar television
personalities. In this way, television affirms, authenticates, and reflects fans’ social experience” (Todd, 2011, pg. 2).

In previous readings authors talked about television as an addiction, much like drugs. But can fandoms be a good addiction, and this is the side that I am usually on, in the sense that communities are built and social interaction can be a result. However, this addiction can become the equivalent of substance abuse in terms of time and money wasted on watching television and memorabilia, giving up social activities to spend time watching television, thinking about cutting watching time but never acting on this thought, etc.

So for a discussion, I would like to know:
What do you think are the positives and negatives of fandoms or fan bases?
How much reproduction of a show is too much?
What do you think are the challenges of fandoms and fan bases, and how do we overcome them? 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Interest From a Young Age

Ever since I was young, I have loved the paranormal. I could watch anything that had to do with witches, ghosts, vampires, etc. I especially like watching things about ghosts and the unexplained. I watched a variety of shows/films; some were cartoons, some were "real life" examples, and others were representations of paranormal activity.
Image result for paranormal

I am definitely not the only one who is fascinated with things of this nature. Annette Hill (2011), author of Paranormal Media, tells us that "social trends suggest widespread belief in the paranormal"(p. 37). I think this statement is true. Paranormal beliefs are all over the world, especially portrayed in the media. More and more we have movies and TV series that have to do with unexplainable things.

But what exactly is paranormal? What does it mean?

According to my Google search, the word paranormal denotes "events or phenomena such as telekinesis or clairvoyance that are beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding". It is interesting to note that the "mentions"of the word have been increasing steadily since around the 1970's or so. The graph on Google continues to move up in a steep fashion in the 2000's and on.

Image result for paranormalIrwin, in The Psychology of Paranormal Beliefs says that paranormal has many aspects to it. He gives us a non-comprehensive list. "These include superstitions (good and bad luck); psi processes (extrasensory perception); divinatory arts (astrology); esoteric systems of magic (magical spells); new age therapies (crystal powers); spiritualism (spirit communication); Easter mystico-religious beliefs (reincarnation); Judeo-Christian religious beliefs (angel communication); extraterrestrial aliens (alien visitations); and cryptozoological creatures (legendary monsters).

These are things that people may actually believe. I, for example, believe in "angel communication" and have recently looked into"crystal powers" for health reasons. I don't know that I could say I have had first-hand experiences that would give testimony to these things happening, but I would say that I have a belief.

I would say that, because of this,  I am drawn to certain TV shows or movies that have paranormal activity that relates to my believes, whether direct or indirect.

I know this is taking things a different direction a bit, but it is interesting to me that we watch paranormal activities in our media but also may mock at it sometimes. Some of these things could be something that comes from someones religion or strong belief. How can we say that something isn't true just because we haven't seen it or experienced it first-hand?

People seem to find the unexplained in the most unexpected places. It doesn't make it good or bad, right or wrong, true or false. I mean there are times where common sense has to play a factor, but that doesn't mean we can't be fascinated with or like to see the paranormal in our media.

If life/experiences/the media was predictable, I don't think we would enjoy the thrill or entertainment of it as much.

So tell me your thoughts:

Are you fascinated with the paranormal? Do you feel ashamed by it?

How does watching the paranormal have to do with your believes or experiences in life?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Why the Paranormal has Permeated our Pop Culture

Ghost stories, witches, superstitions, aliens, zombies and monsters cover a most of the areas of the paranormal that exists within pop culture today.  A growing field of research that is being supported by the growing popularity of its subject matter among our society. Hill (2011) states that in a recent British poll, 64% of people believed there were powers that could not be explained by science, the same amount of people who believed in God.  In 2005, Gallup reported that one out of every four Americans harbor at least one paranormal belief (Hill, 2011).

No matter the aspect of the paranormal that you believe in (superstitions, psi process, or cryptozoological creatures) I am sure there is a pop culture artifact that supports it. The paranormal has permeated itself into our daily media. This includes everything from the vampires in True Blood to the monsters in Stranger Things; every aspect is represented in some form of entertainment.

Something I find interesting about this particular genre is its polarizing effect with people – they either love it or you hate it. I have always wondered why this happens and what the difference is between those who are “pro” or “anti” paranormal. 

Based on some research that I conducted for my pop culture analysis, I developed a few theories that I think are very applicable to why some of us are so drawn to the paranormal:

1.    Humans are Thrill Seekers
Adrenaline is one powerful and highly addictive emotion we can generate. We as human beings crave and seek our next opportunity for a dose of it and the paranormal can provide it – from the safety of our own homes.  Fear and adrenaline are often mistaken for one another – so the fear we can feel from what we cant seem to explain can have the same effects as the adrenaline from a roller coaster.

2.    Train Wreck Mentality
Its like the car accident you slow down for on the highway or the couple fighting in the restaurant that you cant stop staring at…the train wreck mentality is an explanation for why we tend to seek the disasters around us. Sometimes the paranormal can be so far from explainable that you just can’t stop watching.

Overall, I enjoy the media and theories that are present within paranormal pop culture and indulge in the occasional vampire binge session or supernatural documentary. But too much can make me paranoid,  so I try to set my limits. What about you guys?
  • Why do you OR why do you not enjoy Paranormal Pop Culture?
  • Do you think the two explanations presented relate to your feeling about the paranormal?
  • Name some current paranormal media that is popular in our society.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Acceptable wastes of time

I was born in 1982. I suckled on the teat of the original NES.  I graduated to a Super Nintendo before I understood that technology progressed.  The blocky characters on my screen filled my imagination with wonder.  You see, it wasn't the pixels that I was playing with, no, not those crude facsimiles. For my childlike gaze, it was as good as reading a book.  I was transported into those far away lands as I imagined myself recreated as a Mario or a Link.  The art in the instruction booklet clued me in to what was actually happening behind those bits and thanks to cartoons like "The Nintendo Game Master" (which was pretty much nothing but a half an hour non stop commercial for Nintendo products) I believed that there was an entire world happening behind the screen of my television set.  I remember being the first kid in town to own an N64, my brother bought it with our pooled money the day after it came out while he was on a bus trip. I still remember my first encounter with those beautiful, if primitive 3D graphics.

My progression as a gamer:

As you can see, I sport quiet the pedigree when it comes to videogames.

However, there has always been an aspect to gaming that has puzzled me.  No, it's not the way people claim it objectifies women and no, it's not the way that it seems to glorify violence.  You can find all that and more in your local cinema. As an adult, it bothers me that videogames are still considered an inferior pastime.

A man can spend his afternoons watching football, baseball, basketball, you name it. All of those are socially acceptable ways for an individual to waste their time.  I know a guy that is out of his home for about 3 months every year sans wife and children as he hunts and fishes his days away, yet nobody seems to bat an eye.

Yet, pick up a controller and while away a weekend linking up with friends online and you're a loser, a basement dweller, a man child, an eternally neck bearded virgin.

I can't help but wonder what creates this stigma.  Why does it seem to be okay to spend several hours binge watching Netflix, but frowned upon to binge on saving the galaxy in your favorite videogame?  Even though videogames have been fairly mainstream since the 70's, I still get looks of surprise from other adults when I tell them that gaming is my primary hobby.

Which is funny, because as early as 2013, the videogame industry made at least twice as much money as the movie industry did. In that year film made $35.9 billion dollars whereas the videogame industry made $70.4 billion.

With these kind of numbers, why is it that people at large still seem to think that videogames are primarily for children?

So my question to you is this:

Do you game?  If so, have you noted any stigma about being an adult who plays videogames?

What is the best way to overcome this stigma and seat gaming as a valid form of entertainment in society?

The Normalcy of Television

I live with my in-laws. My father-in-law is an excellent sounding board when it comes to discussing the ideas and the assignments for this class. He's a huge movie buff. He loves to analyze messages and themes. 

I was talking him last night about my pop culture final, a feminist perspective of the hit television show Parks and Recreation. I talked to him about how surprised I was to discover that the show, while seemingly oppositional to masculine hegemony, actually supported it on many accounts. 

As we discussed the validity of my findings, he said something profound that I think went along with this week's reading about Friends. He said, "[Parks and Rec] is funny because it's true."

I have personally noticed the phenomenon discussed by Anne Marie Todd, specifically from Parks and Recreation. When I began a job in a professional setting, I found that my boss was the sassy black woman (Donna), that we had an incompetent older, slightly overweight gentleman (Jerry), the creepy, overly sexual dude (Tom), and the manly man who sits in the back of the store and prefers not to be disturbed (Ron). Oh, and the intern- that's me. (April). 

"Television plays a predominant role in the lives of most Americans: families organize their living rooms around the television set; people arrange their schedules around favorite shows; and fans discuss and dissect what happened on last night's episode."

I have truly never considered until this evening the way that we orient our lives, including the furniture arrangement in our houses, to television. The amount of digital information, videos, chats- the sheer amount of words dedicated to something that isn't even real is absolutely astounding. 

I was especially aware of the author's discussion of the Friends' frame- one sold in stores for fans to expand the set into their own homes. How much of what we consume expands into our lives without us realizing it?

We study pop culture because pop culture is subtle and sneaky. It is pervasive and influences us in ways we don't understand or recognize. And we don't have to buy a frame from a website for this to happen. It's already happening in our living rooms- with all of the chairs facing towards the TV. 

1. Does anyone reading this not face their couches towards the television? Why?
2. Throughout this class, what influences have you begun to notice from the media you consume?

Scary Movies: yay or nay?

There is something about the paranormal that speaks directly to you. From books and TV shows, to entire networks, the paranormal is everywhere; according to Hill (2011), it is part of mainstream pop culture.

Way before my parents allowed me to watch scary movies - I was thirteen years old when I saw my first scary movie (late bloomer, I know!), the Exorcism of Emily Rose - my dad would tell my siblings and I "ghost stories" to satisfy our craving for the paranormal phenomenon, and I've been obsessed since. I am not a total fan of slasher movies like Friday the 13th and lean more towards psychological horror films like Rosemary's Baby or Silence of the Lambs. What makes a good horror movie?

According Dr. Walters (2004), there are three primary factors that make horror films appealing: 1) tension - including suspense/mystery/terror/shock; 2) relevance - relating to personal relevance or cultural meaningfulness; 3) unrealism. Walters believes that movies that bring high levels of tension, are universally relevant, while maintaining unrealism have greater horror appeal.


Although appealing to some, including me, others stay away from scary movies. So, why do some of us like watching, reading or listening to anything that has to do with the paranormal? According to Dr. Jeffery Goldstein, a professor of social and organizational psychology, people go to horror films because they want it to affect them, they want to be frightened. "People have the ability to pay attention as much or as little as they care to in order to control the effect it has on them, emotionally and otherwise." 

There are several theories that attempt to explain our attraction to horror movies but they are all incomplete. There are really no theories that can fully explain why people love watching scary movies because different people like watching for different reasons. 

Discussion questions:
1) Are you intrigued by the paranormal? If yes, why?
2) Do you watch scary movies or TV shows? If yes, why? 
3) What is your favorite scary movie? What type of scary movie do you prefer?

Fandoms, Unite!

I was in the seventh grade when I first experimented with fanfiction. I didn’t know what it was then. I just knew that I wanted to be a part of the Potterverse (Hi, my name is Kate, and I have an addiction). Then in the eleventh grade, my Honors 11 English teacher had us write a short story after our classic Sci-Fi reading unit. We were tasked with writing a 10-page story containing common themes found in novels like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. I wanted to write my short story on Clarisse after the events of Fahrenheit 451. That was when I was educated on what fanfiction is.

For me, fanfiction has value outside of the stigma attached to antisocial nerds. In order to construct fanfiction, writers from the fandoms have to have a personal attachment to the texts, an understanding of narrative elements, and an interest in adding to the world of whatever text they are interested in. Writing fanfiction  also enhances creative writing skills through understanding narrative, plot, character development, conflict, resolution, etc. However, not many outside of fandoms and fanfiction find value in these practices.

I have finally read an article in favor of fandoms and fanfiction, and it makes my soul happy. There is immense value in fandoms and fanfiction, but the stigmas attached to the personality types
constituting fandoms and fanfiction authors degrade the value. That’s why I admire Jenkins’ approach to the Trekkers as an alternative to fandom to avoid this stigma. Jenkins suggests that they are “poachers of textual meaning.”

Based on my experiences with fandoms and fanfiction, this is essentially what fans are with whatever fandom they are a part of. Viewers aren’t partaking in media for the superficial value; they participate in these artifacts for the individual value of it: What they find interesting and what meaning/value they can pull from the text.

Being a part of a fandom and adding to the world through fanfiction is not only a way of creating a personal connection to the text, but it is a way of preserving the text as Jenkins found Trekkers do with the original Star Trek series. Jenkins suggests that consumption of media for these viewers leads to creation.

This creation and the “ability to transform” is important to the individual, but it also is important in creating groups and communities. The connection with others who share the same interests can further enhance the preservation of texts as well as the growth of community.

Never underestimate the power of the fandom. 

Do you find value in fandoms? If not, what stigmas attached to fandoms void your interest? 

Christianity and the idea of paranormal media

Being from Texas, you grow up in a town that generally frowns on the ideas of witches, paranormal activity, etc. For me, my parents were pretty open with their religions and even though my dad didn't really partake in the idea of watching paranormal or "witch craft" shows, he wasn't going to silence my viewing of them. 

My dad and I are still pretty close, and we discussed this weeks reading on paranormal activity (Because I love ghost type spooks). He kind of started hinting at the idea that Christian's typically should frown upon ghost type movies and ghost hunting shows. So... in the argumentative style that I tend to follow, I called up my uncle - who has been a pastor for both the Methodist and Baptist churches. 

But according to biblical terms, programs which promote non-biblical ideas are typically not beneficial for a Christian (Baptist like my father, or not) to consume. 

"The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure." 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)

Then, like the smart-ass that Uncle Dennis is he brought up how taken away myself and siblings might be from God. Then mentioning that the heightened sense of fear that horror or paranormal media creates can take a way a time of honoring of God. Looking through to find an idea from the bible on peace and nurturing I found: 

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8

But for myself and my siblings, we know that paranormal is a part of mainstream culture. Though we might not follow the ideas and beliefs of the poltergeist or conjuring, we still enjoy the thoughts, just like we enjoy the thoughts and messages of most major Christian beliefs. Maybe those who partake in religion, but love ghost stories can check out:


Do you find your faith going against the pop culture you enjoy? 

Do you think that viewing ghouls or ghosts in pop culture takes away from our faith? 

Once on the Brink of Extinction, Journalism Finds Resurgence in Digital Forum

The concept of media convergence refers to the inevitable and ever increasing merging of mass media mediums including print, television, radio and internet. In 1993, studying journalism at Brigham Young University, I was encouraged to consider pursuing a different major as the doom of print journalism and newspapers was pending. The advent of USA Today in its television-shaped vending boxes had disrupted the industry by offering readers bite-sized news packages decorated with colorful graphic design. Suddenly, news was easily digestible.

Fast forward to the advent of the internet and online journalism. Nearly 23 years after university professors were warning students to steer clear of the news profession, online media have reignited an industry considered soon to become extinct. Rather, the internet has created a surge in job openings for communication writers. Corporations, businesses, education institutions and non-profit organizations worldwide are now employing in-house journalists to drum up news on their behalf. Even universities are touting convergence programs.

Media Convergence: Biola University Journalism and Integrated Media from Journalism and Integrated Media on Vimeo.

Called inbound marketing, the digital media trend today is to create and write news from within an organization, and to publish it online for the purpose of competing with a global audience. The goal is to drive traffic to your organization's website by providing interesting content, or content that answers questions posed by users to internet search engines.

More and more, traditional media are being bypassed by internal marketing departments endeavoring to create their own news effort and to draw readers directly to their web sites. Tradition mediums like newspapers, television and radio have become third-party options - and secondary - to in-house newsrooms working to produce their own content and readership.

What does this mean to modern media? Or more importantly, what does this mean to students of modern media. The ideals remain the same for media practitioners today and 24 years ago:  learn to write, write well, write succinctly, and grow a following. What was unanticipated is the reach and significance of content, data, and journalism.

Rather than a field evaporating into extinction, journalism has become an almost required base skill for all industries. And rather than relying on and grappling for attention of a few select media outlets, today, writers are publishing on multiple platforms vying for readers worldwide.

Indeed, media convergence and the rise of modern technology could very well be credited for the resurgence of the journalism industry. Today, ere a product is sold without a solid writing platform created - most likely - by an internal newsroom or team of news writers found within the organizational marketing department.

Where do you see media going from here? In your opinion, what is the future of journalism or media content writing?

In terms of media convergence, where do you see the media industry ten years from now? What formats to you see disappearing; what are those you see surviving?