Criminal/Heroin Chic

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I thought that the whole heroin chic discussion was one of the most interesting that we had as a class, and I liked the way that we expanded to drug culture in general. It's interesting how each sub-generation or decade seems to have it's own underground sub-culture going on. It's fairly easy to miss how much of a part that heroin chic played in the 90's unless you look for it and where it shows up is movies and advertisements. the 90's seem to be ripe with advertisements glorifying drug culture while being aimed at youth because that it who companies could impress their message on, and thus influence to purchase a product. What they didn't realize is that adverse affect of this advertisement was having the drug culture present in youth put directly in the glorifying spotlight and expanding it's hold on youth. It is best emphasized in "Criminal" how the drug culture is glorified, both back then and today, with the "don't give a damn" party culture, the substance abuse, and the blackouts that follow from which the subjects awake later in a disheveled state and have to pick up the pieces of their life that have gone missing in the past hours. While it all might seem like fun it's quite alarming just how many people actually believe that it would be okay or a good idea. This is why the heroin chic type cultures exist, both because of the public acceptance of this lifestyle in society and the influence of the corporate world on youth, and with how impressionable youth are, that influence is downright criminal.


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The theme of individuality seems to be the focus of musical expression on a fairly regular basis. In the songs Vogue and Pop we can see two different interpretations of this topic. Madonna glorifies the individual directly through her lyrics by encouraging people to simply be themselves and find the beauty in everything. The approach taken by N'Sync is slightly more tangential as they claim that making fun, digestible music is something they truly enjoy, so people should try not to judge them for doing what they love. These different takes on being yourself and enjoying that state, effectively express the commonality of this idea in musical expression. It's interesting to consider why we feel we must be reminded so frequently that being ourselves is cool, enjoyable, and the right thing to do. I am sure they are out there, but at the moment I have a hard time thinking of a song that is unironically about how awesome it is to conform to the masses and lose your sense of individuality. Despite this, we are often warned about the dangers of peer pressure and people look to celebrities for the latest and greatest in fashion trends. This odd contradiction of expressing desire and support for individuality while simultaneously exhibiting conformity through our actions is the internal conflict that helps to drive the creation of these songs. Intellectually, we value being ourselves possibly through our search for meaning and the desire to leave one's mark on the world. Beyond this we may also be driven by the fear that, in terms of who you are as a person, generic can mean replaceable. These motivating forces, strong as they may be, are at odds with biology's drive for survival. I am unsure what the original evolutionary advantage was, but when an individual is placed in a group with similar visual features, they will generally be perceived as more attractive than before, and therefore a more suitable candidate as a mate.

Pop by N Sync: what is authenticity

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I do not totally agree with the opinion that in order to find their authenticity, people have to give up everything they own or break every law and the definition of authenticity. To me, authenticity is a complete "ego". Just like what N Sync sings in Pop, no matter which clothing we are wearing and the place we are standing on, we are still having our unchangeable individual characteristics. I believe that we are born with same soul and human mind; the family, personal experience, environment and culture influence the way we think and create our own unique characters. Sometimes people call it "destiny". This different "destiny" then endows us a distinctive way to think, express and act. Authenticity I believe is the instinct inside our mind, the thing that dominates our behaviors. Usually, we can see a great part of Authenticity through the way we think. I do not deny that money and status cloud some people's eyes. But throwing all of this wealth away also makes us lose a small part of authenticity--the way to treat money is also a part of "ego". Just like some people are born to be greedy. In order to see this characteristic, they have to stay with money and power. What's more, some people are born to be obedient, so they do not break any law to see this authenticity. People are using their authenticity to deal with every situation and every action also reflects their authenticity.


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There seems to be a bit of a duality playing out in the music video between the audio and visual aspects. If you listen to the song without the music video, it more or less eliminates the heroin chic theme exhibited when the audio and visual portions are experienced simultaneously. The message of the song seems to primarily focus on how she messed up and feels she deserves to be punished justly. It's most certainly not the happiest or most upbeat song, but it does not seem nearly as bleak and depressing as when viewed with the video. The video on the other hand, gives me a low-level case of the heebie jeebies. Watching it without any sound leaves the video focusing on the haggard appearance of the women present, giving things a decidedly drugged out and rape-ey tone. Specifically the point at which she is sitting in the closet, she exhibits a numb and apathetic demeanor, which is a defense mechanism sometimes utilized by victims of sexual abuse to distance themselves from the situation in an attempt to reduce the emotional damage. I don't think it was the original intention while filming, but I feel that the static displayed on the television that rises out of the floor could be interoperated as a symbol of this emotional detachment from reality and protecting oneself behind a blank and unresponsive demeanor, emotional static, if you will. Despite this, the television then displays a brief recording of Fiona in what appears to be a compromising position, showing that for all one's psychological defense, the memory of being sexually abused persists. When the audio and video tracks are joined, things start to clash in interesting ways. The juxtaposition of her song of guilt and deserved punishment onto the carnally vulnerable environment of the video could be interpreted as a commentary on the absurd bias that some of the public seems to hold about women and rape. Essentially, that it is the job of woman to avoid getting raped rather than the job of men to just . . . not rape. This subtext is probably the single most unsettling aspect of this video for me.

Heroin Chic Criminal

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The video that I am choosing to write about is "Criminal" by Fiona Apple. This video is shocking to me because I have never heard of heroin chic before this. Once I watched the video I realized that I can remember this sort of style and seeing people that represent this idea but I just never knew what it was classified as. Now that I am informed on heroin chic and the background of it I can see why people enjoyed heroin chic. People constantly strive to be part of the "in" crowd and be part of the next big thing. This is all that heroin chic was it was just the fad at the time. Just like nearly every other fad the beginnings of it stem from celebrities. As soon as that first celebrity (whoever it was) got the idea of using heroin and dressing like you are basically homeless it has just snowballed into a bigger and bigger band wagon that people kept just jumping on because someone cool was doing it. Once this happened obviously the media and advertising got ahold of it and used it to their advantage. They saw the fad coming so they began designing things that would appeal to followers of the fad and then brought in celebrities to endorse their products and just make the whole idea grow more and more. Heroin chic was quite an extreme fad that people caught on to. Probably one of the most intense because the basic idea is to pretend you are on heroin and your life is falling apart. For this to somehow catch on as the fun thing to do amazes me and yet somehow it did and is still evident in culture in some ways.

Pop Nsync

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e video "Pop" by NSYNC is quite confusing to me. At first when I watched it I was blown away by the style and the overall theme of the whole video. The reason that I had this confusion in the beginning was because I first tried listening to the lyrics and the way I interpreted them made the whole video seem pretty hypocritical. I thought this because of how they claim that the clothes that they wear don't matter and the cars that they drive have no effect on them. I feel this is hypocritical because of the fact that they are famous, anything they do is a idolized, and they are dancing and singing just to make a video for a dong that they created in order to become famous. For them to say this stuff does not matter to them is hard to believe because the only reason they are at the level that they are at is because they worked hard for it, they worked hard to become famous and have all the privileges that come along with it. Once I listened to it again and paid more attention to the rest of the song I began to see what they were really getting at which was that at the time some people viewed them strangely and in this video they wanted to point out how they are just having fun and that the music they are making is enjoyable and people have fun with it. Another aspect of the video that I found interesting was the whole style of it. What they tried to do was make this one video that a bunch of people could relate to and enjoy whether the reason they enjoy it is the art style, their fashion, the beat, the lyrics, or the different styles of singing. They just simply wanted people to enjoy it.

Inspiration from Fiona Apple's Criminal

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When I fist saw Fiona Apple's Criminal in the writing class, I was shocked by every sexual senses appearing in the screen. Then both the reading and the MTV caused me to think about the difference between the United States and China.
In China, I never see any drug using, high-level sexual content or a great amount of violence used in a MTV because they are forbidden; we are not allowed to parade because are illegal; sex is a secret topic; one year old, a person wrote an article online to slander China government disappeared in next week and the article was immediately deleted by unknown people in the second day; even our historical event such as 1989's Tiananmen Square Massacre is deeply hidden by the government and our parents. It seems everything in China is controlled by the Communist Party.
Before I went to the U.S., I once appreciated the freedom Americans have in the U.S. and I wish I could be one of them, living in this space. Yes. I did find everything (especially bad side) that I could not find in China after I got to the U.S.: endless crimes on campus, uncontrolled sexual content, sex topic everywhere.
After I got in touch with some real cultures of the U.S., I realized something is not being correct in the U.S.--the U.S. government permits too much freedom. Guys are using too much and too casually; it is common to see a college girl changing her sexual partners every week; in almost every MTV, I can see sex. I believe that being open and liberal is advanced. But what I have seen in the U.S. also makes me worried: Americans have too much freedom.
I really hope Americans could realize these phenomena and make some changes.

Wannabe by The Spice Girls


The hit "Wannabe" by the British pop band The Spice Girls hit number 2 on Billboard's Top 10 about fourteen minutes after its U.S. debut in January of 1997. Coincidence? I don't think so. So what did the band mates-Pop Spice, Sporty Spice, Baby Spice, Ginger Spice, and Posh Spice- do that made this song so infectious? They combined the bubble-gum pop music with a political message about a new kind of feminism. The Spice Girls found success through "Wannabe" because they used their fame to empower young females. Ironically, with this new sense of empowerment among the young fans of the Spice Girls, the beginning of an age where it was socially acceptable for women to embrace their unavoidable sex appeal began. In the video "Wannabe" the Spice Girls were showing enough midriff and cleavage to make my grandmother cringe, but more importantly, they were showing no concern and were radiating with confidence. This idea allowed the public to change their views of feminism from a need for gender equality to a movement that required only a sense of embracing a woman's ability to use sex appeal to her advantage. Brilliant. Instead of women spending time working to change the public's perceptions, women began using the assets men do not possess to their advantage. Although this idea of feminism may be criticized, I believe this is brilliant because celebrating and embracing differences is a much easier task than asking for other people to see you in a different light. The Spice Girls embody this idea in both their music and their image. Thus, "Wannabe" became an anthem for young girls across the world to sing along to and celebrate what makes them unique and powerful. Without the Spice Girls, women across the world may still be focusing on how to transform themselves into the superior gender, or male gender. This, ironically, was what was holding females back.

Video Killed the Radio Star

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Watching Video Killed the Radio Star made me reminisce about my childhood. This song is about the death of the radio drama, caused by the gaining popularity of TV. As a child I had the good fortune to be exposed to some old radio drama episodes. My dad listened to CBS Radio Mystery Theater when he was younger, it was actually airing when video killed the radio star was released. He managed to get recordings of a bunch of the old episodes, and we would listen to them as we fell asleep when we went camping. He also got some episodes of The Shadow, which aired back during the thirties. These radio dramas are really cool, I love listening to them. It's amazing how well the stories can pull you into your imagination as you lay back with your eyes closed, listening intently. I would create a whole visual world inside my mind while the episode played. I like The Shadow the most, he was an invincible, invisible superhero, who was the inspiration for Batman. Every time I laid down and started the next episode I was instantly transported into the Shadow's world with the iconic introduction; "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows..." But what I remember most was his laugh. The Shadow has the most sinister laugh I have ever heard, and I remember being so intrigued by the fact that he was so dark and frightening, and yet was always such a hero. I really miss radio dramas, the amazing, imaginative effect they have on you is in no way reproducible by TV. I really wish video hadn't killed the radio star.


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I've noticed that almost every one of the blog posts on here about Criminal mention that they don't find Fiona Apple attractive, and that the lifestyle portrayed in her video is so terrible. I disagree. Personally I think Fiona is a very attractive woman, she's a bit skinny but that doesn't bother me too much, or at all, honestly, I like skinny girls. I also think that judging the heroin chic lifestyle portrayed in her video so harshly is probably a bit hypocritical. I think that this lifestyle is probably quite similar to the average partying college student. At least hopefully apart from selling everything in the house for heroin money... I would venture to guess that most college students homes aren't incredibly neat and tidy, and I'm sure there are times when a passed out drunk guy is sleeping on your floor. Maybe you know who he is, maybe you don't, but he looks comfortable, so you'll let him sleep on. I feel like things haven't really changed all that much since her time, leaving out style and changes in technology. Young people back then drank, smoked, and partied. Nowadays they continue to drink, smoke, and party. Their lives were very similar to ours today, and if you choose to judge it harshly that's fine, as long as you realize that you are judging the lifestyle of today as well. And I don't really think its that bad of a lifestyle, it could be better, but it could be a whole lot worse. Who are we to judge? Now I'm not trying to advocate the use of heroin, its a terrible drug that has ruined a lot of people's lives. I'm just saying that times really haven't changed that much.

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