My mom and her husband, in town for graduation, paying tribute.
Archive for May, 2013
Check out the “pink stinks” protest in Berlin over the Barbie Cafe. Is Barbie, as the protesters maintain, “marketing strategies that allocate a limited gender role to young girls.”
See an article on the protest at, http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/16/18294380-pink-stinks-protests-greet-berlins-barbie-dreamhouse?lite
Here’s an update for my original post for our Icons class. I chose to wrote about graffiti as my American icon, and one of the sources I used was the documentary film Bomb It. It’s an excellent movie, if biased at times, but what I think is most interesting is how they show graffiti as a global culture based off of american concepts of individuality and youth rebellion. Graffiti as an icon is interesting because though reproduced and experienced in similar ways, it doesn’t have 1 set image to anchor our understanding of it. that said, most people will obviously know graffiti when they see it. What I like about this, is that it fits with the idea of the US as a country with many different influences and capacities, and this adaptability then transfer as the art form spreads. It’s interesting to see then how different countries adapt and repurpose graffiti to affect social awareness and public space.
I chose to put up a picture of a piece of graffiti (cliche though it may be) because I think the graffiti culture represents a part of American identity that I find to be very important, which is the idea of a nation of subcultures. There are so many diverse groups of people in the United States today, put together for any number of reasons or shared qualities, and they all are acting just under the surface of our day to day lives. Living with these various groups, all lumped under the generic term “americans,” leads to a struggle to burst through into the limelight and vision of others. In other words, the struggle we all share is to be seen and recognized by the larger national whole. Graffiti is a good metaphor for this struggle for recognition. Graffiti artist purposefully try to call attention to otherwise ignored or overlooked walls and areas, in an attempt for notoriety and self expression of their identity or subculture. And it seems that in the US, as in the graffiti world, there is a constant striving by other groups to come and make their own expressions of culture to the larger world. So just as how we can always expect some new graffiti to cover the old, we can similarly expect new subcultures to rise up and demand notice.
I wanted to update this post and found the above image as another twist on the image of the statue of liberty. For one, in this cartoon lady liberty does not look very smart, possibly making a joke on American’s supposed inability to really understand history, instead preferring pop culture. On the other hand, the fact that this cartoon does point out how often the statue shows up in pop culture is interesting. I think it sparks the question of where do Americans learn their history and culture from, and what does it mean if they learn those things through cheesy movies and pop culture.
A lot of people associate the statue of liberty as an icon representing the american notion of freedom for everyone behind its borders. For immigrants coming tot he country for the first time, the statue of liberty was a promise of acceptance of what they could expect to find in the country. By that same logic I thought this was an interesting twist on the statue of liberty, playing on the idea that all america has to offer now is debt and economic sparsity. I noticed that despite asking for money and claiming to be broke, lady liberty looks more on the round side, possibly showing the idea that America had been spoiled, over-fed, or generally inflated with nothing to really show for their consumption. It also twists on the idea of american self-sufficiency by the sign asking others for money reflecting the recent US appeal to China to buy debt from our country. The last thing I noticed was that there is something up her sleeve, possibly meaning that someone is holding out and thus being greedy by asking for more money, or that they are more I.O.U.s like the one in her other hand, in which case it might mean that this is an issue the US will have to struggle with for some time.
As an American painter, I’m not particularly familiar with Rockwell’s work, only the name and the vague sense of attachment to the art world, or so I thought. To my surprise, I was actually more familiar with Rockwell’s work than I thought, once I began researching his work. We’ve talked a lot in class about the “work” an image does, and the message the artist constructs with that image. Rockwell’s message with his image seems to be of an ideal America. The man standing up in the town hall staring boldly into the distance, and with every head around him turned up to him, creates a sense of awe and reverence for the ability of free speech. With everyone’s eyes turned to the man, and the man’s eyes turned outward, we can pick up the sense that we should follow the path of free speech into the unforeseen future. The image also seems to be following classic US ideology of the “American Dream” by putting this duty of free speech on the shoulders of a simply dressed, possibly rural working class man, bringing something essential to those suited men around him.
I wanted to update my old western review, and bring up the idea of how the West works as an icon. We’ve discussed a lot in class about how icons get repurposed and reused, and we’ve brought up how those icon get played out in other cultures. Here’s a trailer for a move called The Good the Bad and The Weird a Korean film by Jee-woon Kim, the same director for the most recent Arnold Schwarzenegger movie where he is inexplicably a sheriff in a small town. This is a much better movie, and you can see in the trailer some of the trope images we talked about in class, front and center in this trailer: the railroad and the pistol
Here’s a repost of my original review
The Man who Shot Liberty Valance is a John Wane western focused around the past of a US senator Ransom Stoddard and the story of how his relationship with outlaw in a frontier town. The first notable aspect I noticed in the film is the distinction made between the town as it is when the senator returns versus the wildness of the town when he first arrived. He points out that the newspaper men asking for the story have only known the town “since the railroad came” showing how the train, a symbol of American technology and progress, brings a measure of civilization with it to the towns along the rails. This fits in with the “western” myth which the movie pushes over and over again. The myth, as the movie presents it, is the belief of new beginnings off of meager means in the west. The senator arrives fresh from law school, and meets all sorts of people in the frontier town looking to make a new and better life. Among them are prospectors, farmers, immigrants, women, or african americans, all uneducated and uncultured, but all hard working and honest for the most part. We see the townspeople struggle to keep their hard-earned lives and earn legitimacy through statehood from outlaws like Liberty Vance and the big-time ranchers he works for, who would threaten the homesteaders’ use of their democratic rights for the sake of profit. Truthfully, there are all kinds of Western Icons coming together in this movie, but I found this one particularly drives home the western myth and its final lesson, that democracy and intelligent civilization are good, but out west, a man has to rely on his guns and his own strength. Despite Stoddard’s best efforts to empower the town’s people through democracy, the threat of violence can only be settled with a more righteous violence, so where brains fail, masculine brawn has to make up the slack.
I wanted to bring this up to an idea from our conversation about Elvis, about him watering down the “Rebel” image to sell commercially, and how common the “rebel” narrative is in the United States. Elvis had numerous run-ins with the law, as do many famous musicians and icons , but those confrontations very rarely lead to a completely negative connotation of those people. If anything, those transgression seem to be appealing because it shows the idols as counter to a societal system that often disenfranchises and disappoints people. By being rebels, Elvis an other icons seem to give people a way to literally buy into a counter culture. For them, Elvis’ mugshot must have reassured them that this was a man on the edge. someone to marvel at for their music and confrontations with the law. However, as he and his audience get older, such brushes with law must have seemed more desperate and embarassing then rebellious.