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   Image Welcome back readers and friends! Hope you all have been enjoying yourselves over the past few weeks. While I’ve been gone I have learned a lot about a fascinating new theory (well, new to me) called Ideological Criticism. I know, big words, but don’t be scared! I promise the concept is a lot easier than it sounds.

   What is Ideological Criticism? Ideological Criticism examines how ideas are embedded and circulated through texts and how these ideas become accepted as “normal” in our society today. It is not about looking at the text itself but rather how the text is produced & structured with its interactions in our life experiences.                                                                                                                                           So what? So why is this important? How is this approach to media criticism different from any other approach we have already learned  about? Well when you really think about, this approach is probably one of the most important theories in media criticism. Why? BECAUSE IT’S THE FOUNDATION OF HOW OUR SOCIETY FUNCTIONS. Think about it. This theory examines how society accepts what is in the media and makes it their own. Fascinating!                                    

Now read carefully guys, because things are going to start to get even more interesting.

   So within ideological criticism there is a type of hegemonic power called ideology. Ideology is an instrument used by the dominant elites to extend control over others to maintain existing power. It refers to the set of ideas that give some particular account of the world. So what this is saying is that the dominant elites use ideological criticism in the media as a way of controlling how the media interacts with our life experiences and us as a society. SO…how does that make you feel?

 I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling (22) a little uncomfortable with the idea that these “dominant elites” are controlling how the rest of society interprets the media. Ideological criticism falls under a Marxist concept called the political economy theory. This broad theory examines how media institutions, texts, and practices establish and sustain existing power relations.

ImageSo here’s what we learned so far: ideology is a tool in ideological criticism, which is under the political economy theory.

   Recently in class we watched a documentary called “Mickey Mouse Monopoly“. Political economists discuss the issue of the Disney corporation placing subliminal messages in their movies, influencing children at a very young age. One political economist, Dr. Alvin Poussaint, states that “Children have been raised on Disney, for many generations.” According to the documentary, Disney as a conglomerate owns so much of the media that they exercise unprecedented control over the images and messages we are exposed too. The result? We are presented with a limited worldview, which is skewed and dominated by the corporation’s interest.

  Dr. Henry Giroux, one of the founding theorists of critical pedagogy in the United States, was also quoted in Mickey Mouse Monopoly. He states that Disney hides itself from innocence in order to separate corporate culture from corporate power. “Disney films combine enchantment and innocence in narrating stories that help children understand who they are, what societies are about and what it means to construct a world of play and fantasy in an adult environment” Though not obvious, Disney movies are filled with hidden sexual and racist messages. Image

 The female body is highly sexualized in Disney movies. Female Disney characters are portrayed as beautiful. They have very curvy bodies and tiny waists along with big eyes and breasts and a flawless smile. Even in animal form, the females have big eyes. They are seen as ‘seductresses’. Young girls pick up the message from Disney movies that in order to be a princess you must be thin and beautiful; you must look like the characters in the movies. These are ideals that can be carried out with them throughout their entire lives.

  Disney movies also teach the lesson that, no matter how smart a woman may be, she still needs a man to save her. Even in movies like Mulan, a strong, family-oriented woman who leaves her home and disguises herself as a male soldier to protect her father from fighting in the army against the invading Huns, is almost punished for her bravery until Shang, the head soldier and love interest of Mulan, defends Mulan’s actions even though they were breaking the law. In the movie Cinderella the female lead, Cinderella, is clearly the smartest, most capable of being on her own out of the four females. She can cook, sew, and take care of herself, unlike her wicked stepmother and step sisters. Instead of moving out or standing up for herself to her evil stepmother, she gets married to Prince Charming and they live happily ever after. She does not fight her own battle but instead runs away with a strong man who came to her rescue with a glass shoe. Image

 What if Disney was even teaching young girls to stay in an abusive relationship? Well, in Beauty and the Beast, isn’t the main message that if you are nice to your abuser he will change? The beast took Belle away from her father, imprisoned her and yelled at her for not obeying his orders. In the end, she excuses him and reinterprets his rage and angry personality as tender and vulnerable and falls in love with him. As said in the documentary, “Overlook the abuse, there’s a prince, it’s your job to bring it out.”

   Now let’s talk about one other thing: The ‘Other’. The other? Well that sounds like a cult, or an outsider, someone who does not belong. Well you aren’t wrong. In all of their movies Disney has created a sense of the ‘other’ when representing races such as African American, Hispanic, and many more. Is this intentional? That does not matter. What matters is how we interpret Imagethe ‘other’. Typically, a hispanic character will be portrayed as a Chihuahua, such as Tito from Oliver and Company.  In this video clip, ‘My Name is Panchito‘, the whole song makes fun of the stereotypically long names in the Hispanic community. The video does not teach any important facts about the Hispanic culture or the countries. So what do children learn? They learn a broad generalization that all Hispanic citizens have long names. Is that true? No, but that’s what they grow up believing. That’s what the dominant elite, the Disney Corporation, taught them.

  Another example of the ‘other’ includes the hyenas in The Lion King. The hyenas are the bad guys. One political economist quoted in the “Mickey Mouse Monopoly” related the hyenas’ sounds and mannerisms to inner city minorities. She told us the story of how her son was near a carousel, not facing it, heard the children shouting and told his mother he heard the hyenas. When she turned around she realized what her son thought to be hyenas cackling were just inner city children at play. She was horrified by the similarities, what was Disney implying?

So now that I have shared all of this information to you about Disney and how their use of ideology can influences their viewers, what do you think?

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Tammy vs. The News!

Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s ex-flight attendant is filing a $4o million libel lawsuit against Gawker, The London Daily, The National Enquirer and several other news outlets. According to one article, Tammy Tousignant demands a minimum of $40 million dollars in damages for libel, invasion of privacy and misappropriation of personal images. According to this OC Weekly articlethe father of her two children is her husband Tom. Articles in 2003 claimed that Arnold and Tammy had an affair and they did have a child together-this is not true.

Tammy is filing for libel. Libel is defamation by written or printed words, pictures, or in any form other than by spoken words or gestures. Gawker, one of the news outlets to publish the libeling story, wrote an article retracting their original statement that she was Arnold’s mistress. They also took the original article down, as did the other news outlets.

The case has not been resolved yet. It cost $395 to file and has been assigned to Superior Court Judge Linda S. Marks.  I hope that Tammy wins this case. News outlets play a very important role in our society today. Everyday billions of people read a newspaper or go online to find about the latest news. And they trust that this news is true and reliable. It is a journalists’ job to report the fact-and only the facts. Being lied to makes us distrust the news outlets and makes us feel that all the information we receive is false. I don’t want to live in a world where I can’t trust the daily newspaper. The journalist who reported these lies against Tammy Tousignant should have done a better job researching and looking up all the facts before reporting anything on the case. Tousignant’s is damaged and though these news outlets posted new stories saying they were wrong her reputation will never fully be repaired.

If Tammy wins the case and the news outlets lose, the news outlets will have to be extra cautious on what they print, if they don’t shut down that is. They could lose millions if they lose this case. They will have to check every article before they print to make sure everything reported is true or suffer monetary consequences. If Tammy loses, well the news outlets still have to be careful on what they print, but they may feel that if they got away with it once, they’ll get away with it again. For the sake of our society, I hope Tammy wins because I want to read the truth!

Qdoba loves Towson Tigers!

This past Saturday I attended the championship football game for Towson University. We played against Lehigh University (but sadly, we lost). All week I was excited for this game. It had been a long time since Towson made the championships in football and I was hopeful that we would win! It was all people talked about all week. Students lined up at the union everyday the week prior to purchase a $5 ticket. By Friday it was sold out!

The game was packed! People went to tailgate before the game which is always fun and gets everyone even more excited! Different music was playing at maximum volume and everyone was dancing and having a good time. About fifteen minutes before the game starts people begin to enter Johnny Unitas Stadium. Once inside you are greeted by a ton of faculty workers and there is one booth that always stands out in my mind. At every football game Qdoba  hands out coupons and other products to promote their business. During the game Doc the tiger (our team’s mascot) hold’s a “t-shirt gun” and shoots out Qdoba shirts into the crowd. I think this was a successful way for Qdoba to promote their business. I personally have never heard of the Mexican fast food restaurant before I went to the football games and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one (or maybe I was!)

However, Qdoba could do more to get the word out there. The only time I even think about Qdoba is when I’m at a football game. I get a craving for delicious nachos and quesadillas but I can’t get them while I’m at the football game-I have no time! And when I am not at the game I forget about Qdoba and go to a closer place like Subway or I’ll eat on campus. I think Qdoba should have a commercial on a popular television channel or two to get the word out. They should also sponsor more events on campus such as having Qdoba cater a dining hall one night every month or so. I’m sure many Towson students would enjoy that!

When we go to the football games we are excited. Anything we see that is supporting Towson is something we support. I think it’s great that Qdoba supports our team at every football game. All they need to do now is spread the word more!

  Coca-Cola is the most popular product to use product placement. According to one article written in 2007, it was mentioned on network television over 3,000 times during the first half of that year. Ads for Coca-Cola can be found practically everywhere! In television commercials and magazine and newspaper ads.  Product placement for Coca-Cola has been used in a number of movies and television shows. Check out this audition tape from American Idol! Did you notice how many times the judges Coca-Cola cups were filmed? I counted eleven, but I may have missed a few. Also, did you check out the couch two of the contestants were sitting on? It was red with white outlines of Coca-Cola bottles. Coca-Cola is one of American Idol’s top sponsors. If you check out americanidol.com you will see the Coca-Cola logo in the top right corner.

But American Idol isn’t the only place to find Coca-Cola. Commercials for the sugary soda are played everywhere. Since before the 1950s Coca-Cola has entered our homes to join our family. Think about it: while watching your favorite television program with your family Coca-Cola comes in and influences us to buy it. And the commercials are targeted to all different types of people. Like in this commercial with African Americans. They don’t actually talk about the product or say the name; it just shows a group of young African American men singing gospel music while holding Coca-Cola cans. The message they were sending was that Coca-Cola is for everyone.

    Coca-Cola also knows how to be seasonal! Every year Coca-Cola comes out with a fun new Christmas commercial, reminding you to enjoy a nice, ice cold coke this holiday season! It even features a song by Natasha Bedingfield!

Many celebrities have endorsed Coca-Cola throughout the years. Some famous ones are with Christina Aguilera, Bill Cosby, and Courtney Cox and David Arquette.

Coca-Cola has been around since 1886. Billions of people drink this delicious soda daily. It is sold in schools, shopping malls, restaurants and other stores. Some might call it “The soda of America”.


A book that has had a great influence on me is  Go Ask Alice. Beatrice Sparks is the listed author by the United States government but the actual owner of the diary is unknown. The book is fiction but when it first came out it was believed to be non-fiction. It is the story of an anonymous teenage girl with a low self-esteem who becomes addicted to drugs. 

      I read this book in my English class when I was a high school sophomore. Before we started reading the book we talked about different kinds of drugs and their effects. We also talked about how the book got it’s name. Everyone was curious where the name Alice came from, since the actual author is never said. We learned that the title is a line from the song White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane.  The song is interpreted to be about the story Alice in Wonderland and mentions the use of drugs.

“One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she’s ten feet tall”

           I always knew how bad drugs are for you and to never try them, but I never felt more close to the drug world then when I read this poor girl’s story. She felt alone in the world and though nobody cared about her. Her depression led her to try drugs. Since the book is written in first person diary form every chapter I read was a new day in her life. I felt as if I was right next to her every step of the way. She became a close friend and I was truly devastated when she died at the end of the book. I truly understood the pain felt by family, friends, and the user herself.

         This book has made me more interested in the war on drugs and other crimes. I watch a lot of more crime shows on television, although not all relating to drugs.  (i.e. Law and Order: SVU, Criminal Minds). I have also become more aware of my surroundings and the people I meet everyday. I talked to my friends after reading this book and they informed me of a number of our fellow students who used extremely dangerous drugs-shocking news to me!

         I read a variety of books from all genres: mystery, action, romance; but none have impacted me like Go Ask Alice.

   “I can show you the world” is more then just a cute song lyric from Disney’s Aladdin but it is what Disney offers us. Disney culture has created “A whole new world” for us today. Disney portrays itself as magical, carefree, and happy. With their own channel, two amusement parks in the U.S., one in Paris, and two in Asia and a third one expected to be open in 2014, Disney has become part of many cultures throughout the world.

Growing up with Disney princesses always made me excited about growing up and getting married. I knew I wasn’t a princess nor would I ever be, but I did think I would be happily married by the time I was twenty-five. I also assumed I would not need to work, that’s what my husband would do! I even felt bad for him, whoever he may be. But Disney gave me, and thousands of other children a false perception on life. Women, the princesses, are made to be the damsels in distress who need a prince to save them. That was always the plot to the games my friends and I would play, mimicking the Disney movies. It just seemed right. Would you ever imagine a girl saving the day?

But as I got older I realized I couldn’t just say “When I grow up I want to be a singer and an actress” like I did when I was young. I realized I had to seriously think of what I wanted to do a career, what I would major in at college; Disney did not prepare me for this.

But they did teach me how to clean, and that you must change yourself in order for a guy to love you.

But Disney isn’t scrutinized for their stereotypes on men and women that they present to young children. In fact, they are praised. Disney promotes family and togetherness. Walt Disney World is even advertised as “Where Dreams come true”. Clearly an example of the bandwagon effect (Exaggerated claims that it’s “the best” ) This was never actually proven though. But deep down the inner child inside of me is screaming “IT’S TRUE!!!”

I’ve gone to Disney world about six times in my life, four of which were during my freshman through senior years of high school. I remember when I was young the excitement I felt seeing Mickey and Minnie Mouse and riding the Teacups and buying my first Disney stuffed animal. As I got older my Dad shared his interest in pin trading and as “nerdy” as it may seem to be, I loved it! It really brought my Dad and I closer. And my Mom and I too, even though she mostly made fun.

  Disney culture has influenced us in a lot of different ways. Is it all good? That is all up to interpretation, but it has made the millennial generation very different from the generations before us. We see the world in a different light. Perhaps we are in a bubble at times and don’t always see the evil in the world besides an evil step-mom. Maybe we think more outside of the box from watching Alice in Wonderland. Disney has come very far, it is a part of the world we live in and it is here to stay.

Rahul Thadani speaks the truth in his article about Facebook when he says “it can be useful or disruptive, only if you allow it to be.”

Why do we like to spend our time on social networking sites and post our day-to-day activities online? How does it benefit us as individuals and as a society? Since what seems like the beginning of time Facebook has become a top social networking site.

Facebook does have many positives, such as reconnecting with old friends and promoting yourself and any other work you do. Thadani also listed that playing different video games and sharing music are positives of Facebook. Do you think those are positives? Sure they are an added bonus but more so they are there to keep you on Facebook longer. The longer you are on Facebook, the more advertisements you see.

A big part of how Facebook gains its revenue is through advertisements. Also known as indirect payment, Facebook made $1.6billion dollars in the first half of 2011. One article states that Facebook is the operating system for delivering ads on the web.

While you are writing on your friends' wall, playing a game, or reading your newsfeed thousands of ad's pop up on the side of your screen waiting to be clicked and viewed.

I for one am annoyed with the ads all over my Facebook homepage. It may be a positive to the Facebook Company but as a user on Facebook it’s annoying and unimportant to us. People go on Facebook to see what there friends (or foes) are up too. What are they posting? How do they look? Thadani says that some cons of Facebook is that people can go on your profile and know what is happening in your life at all times. I often find myself censoring what I say on Facebook even though it is MY profile about ME and I should be allowed to say what I want right?

WRONG

Anyone can see your Facebook profile, whether they are your friend or not. When looking for new employees and reading applications, employers not only read applications but also check out the candidate’s Facebook page. According to this article in the New York Times, if bosses see something they don’t like, such as provocative pictures and inappropriate language, then they do not hire that person. Is it okay for employers to do that? Would you consider this an invasion of privacy?

Not only can employers view your profile, but also so can thousands of your “friends” (let’s be honest, you aren’t actually close friends with EVERYBODY on your Facebook page) and they might not have such good intentions. Like that guy in your French class you turned down the other day, he might show your professor all of your ‘red cup’ pictures you took the night before the big exam. Uh-Oh! And maybe you shouldn’t have been complaining about how your adviser “sucks @ getting me the classes i need! i h8 her!!!!!” because your jealous roommate showed her that! So basically, censor your Facebook.

Saying I agree with the articles would be an understatement. Facebook, though fun and addicting, can be dangerous and harmful to your reputation. The old phrase “Think before you speak!” will soon turn into “Think before you post!”. And be sure to set your privacy settings!

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