Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Final Note

The past few months I have been taking this class have been interesting. With all the points that have been presented, not all which I agree with, some are nonetheless legitimate. Jour 4250 has encouraged me not to accept these ideas but to research and strengthen my ideas, which run along as conservative. Now I want to revisit some of the more interesting points of the class.

I first would like to point out the need to critically analyze the teacher. In a class where media is the target of debate, the teacher of a college class needs to be analyzed exactly like one would a news show, magazine or newspaper. Teacher, like all of us, have a collections of experiences from which they have formed their opinions. No person can completely remove themselves from their experiences and those experiences' impact.

Second, while this class presented many points to think about the media, it boils down to personal responsibility. If you want you daughter to think of herself as more than just an object of beauty, them turn of the TV and take some time to relate to your child those values. No media can force its way into your life. You have to option to choose which media one consume's.

One of the topics I will revisit again was the debate over the Native American mascot. Let it be known that I am for the use of indian mascots because the way they are using the mascot is in a past, historical context. Yes, Native Americans are still around but not in the historical context as we commonly think of.

As someone who has personally visited a Native American reservation in North Dakota, I can say that it is not filled with tepees and huts. It has many houses and businesses which are exactly the same as cities off the reservation. The Native Americans that lived on the plains like the Comanche, Apache, or Cheyenne do not go about life like the used. Just like people from Scandinavia do not act like Vikings. You might say well that's not fair because they were suppressed. The Spartans were eventually suppressed by the Romans. Does that make the Spartans an insensitive mascot? No.  If we decided that every historical mascot was insensitive, then all we would have is animal mascots.

Overall, the class was very controversial. One positive aspect is that if you happen to be in the minority that doesn't agree, you are taught to do your research and know your facts. This is a valuable life lesson for everyone and it's the biggest lesson I've taken away from this class.

When Politics and Sports Collide

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State, and the scandal at Syracuse involving long time assistant coach Bernie Fine, the sports world has been left in shock. Not only are we left to wonder how these programs will recover and where do we go from here, but more importantly, how did we get to this point? How did we get to the point that the prestige of a sports program outweighs the rights of a human, especially a child? Does big money from T.V. contracts, alumni, and bowl championships drive the force under which any one opposing such institutions are crushed?

Unfortunately, this has been a long time coming in a culture such as ours. A place where professionals athletes like Albert Pujols are given millions of dollars to play a game. (He just signed today a 10-year, $250 million dollar contract.) We are a sports-obsessed, winning-obsessed culture in which we live vicariously through our athletes achievements, and scorn them when they take big money to go to another team.

Put yourself in their shoes because I know I would want to secure both my children's and grand-children's financial future with a simple contract. Further more, I do not condemn athletes for taking large contracts. This is America and we live in a capitalist economy. Business is business and in every day life, you have employers willing to cut you from employment at the drop of a dime. So why not take all the money you can get out of the system.

No, I'm not condemning the money behind the business. But I do condemn the business when it simultaneously crushes the rights and freedom of those get caught in the politics of sports. While I am horrified at the events at Penn State, I can't say that I'm entirely surprised. We as a society have emphasized winning at all costs. Winners, not losers, get the parade. They get to go on the Late Show. They get the interviews and the banner-raising ceremonies. We thirst for winning from our sports teams because we feel that in some way, we are winners too.

So it's no surprise that our culture has produced monsters such as Jerry Sandusk whose ability to carry out such crimes is hidden by the fact that he is a winner. Such was the reason that Tiger Woods was able to carry out his extra-marital affairs. The arena of sports is becoming more and more a place where child abuse occurs because of the lure of money. Parents who think that a coach can get them into a school or make them into a professional athlete have made themselves vulnerable to others taking advantage of their children.

Furthermore, like I have stated in previous blogs, we are a country unwilling to accept blame. It's not Penn State alone who should carry the blame, although they are largely responsible. Sports fans as a whole are responsible, myself included. We put so much emphasis of the need to win that we make sports authorities think twice when they are confronted with an issue that might damage their reputation. And it will only get worse.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Someone to Blame

In Miss Representation, we were presented with ideas about how the media can warp the minds of young teenage girls and boys. As a nation, we consume massive amounts of tv, magazines and movies which can change our view of the world.

Many statistics were startling, including the rise in depression and eating disorders. When or if I had a daughter, I would be sure to instill in her a sense of self confidence that does not depend upon her looks.

All that being said, I feel like the movie lacked any sort of personal responsible for individuals. It emphasized that the media presented all these messages, which I agree with. Yet last time I checked, no one is forcing you to watch a show or read a certain book. A U.S. citizen has full reign to choose whatever media the what to receive or not receive.

The fact that was probably most disregarded is how much tv we watch on average. Instead of reading a book or doing something constructive, they choose to look at images, which are stronger than the written word.  We expect to be able to watch tv and have no consequences. Yet, besides the obvious affect on health, there is an affect on our psychological health. And yet we expect nothing to come from that.

It continues a long story of how we are irresponsible and unable to take blame. It's the same reason people want to blame banks for their financial woes. No one forces you to take out a credit card and buy on credit. If you look at the majority of problems in our country, they are because people refuse to accept personal responsibility.

The women in the movie continually blamed the "media" and "the man agenda" for the reason why a large amount of women have problems with their self image. Again, no woman in the U.S. has someone holding a gun to their head telling them to watch MTV, or other sitcoms, shows, etc. They are completely empowered to take control of their lives, they are just ignorant to the fact that they  have options.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Disney Phobia

It's been long debated whether Disney, the beloved creator of characters which children have grown up with, is providing a hidden message wrapped in its stories. As Naomi Rockler-Gladen argues in Race, Hierarchy, and Hyenaphobia in The Lion King, she states that in just this animated film alone, Disney is promoting the idea of segregation and class hierarchy through how certain animals interact with each other. What Rockler-Gladen fails to realize is the context from which the story was written.

The Lion King is based on Shakespeare's play Hamlet, in which the protagonist, Hamlet, is confronted by the ghost of his father, who tells him he has been murdered by Hamlet's uncle in order to lay claim to the throne of Denmark. Like many plays written by Shakespeare, there is no recognizably surface level of good and evil in many plays. For example, in Caesar, the audience is left to debate whether the assassination of Julius Caesar was for the greater good of Rome, or whether Brutus and the other conspirators should be charged as murderers. Children as such a young age are still grasping the concept of right and wrong, so to present a story such as this would only create confusion on their part.

It was for this reason that the Lion King, in order to be adopted into a children's film, must be presented in more drastic terms. For this reason, the protagonist must be drastically portrayed as right and the antagonist is shown to be wrong. This is the reason that the Lions are the kings of the the Pride Land and the Hyenas are subjected to life in the Elephant Graveyard. Segregation and class hierarchy is not the point of the film and any perception that it is is due strictly to how it's interpreted.

The article further makes two outlandish claims. 

"In addition, "Be Prepared," the musical sequence in which Scar invites the hyenas to support his coup, alludes visually to Hitler's propaganda film Triumph of the Will."

What? Last time I checked, Hitler was in power when he put out such propaganda films, not suppressed, as Rockler-Gladen the hyenas were in the Lion King. It further discredits the article because at this point, it becomes contradicting. But the quote that really gets me is this one.

"At no time in The Lion King do we learn that segregation is not a good thing and that lions ought to learn to overcome their "hyenaphobia" and create a more multicultural society."

If the article did not already destroy its credibility, this statement just put it in the ground. It is a pompous, arrogant statement to make because it is trying to make The Lion King into something it's not, a civil rights message. It's neither a civil rights message nor a message to promote segregation. It is simply exactly what it is, a dramatic display of right and wrong, good and evil necessary for children to be able to grasp the concept.