Surveillance

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After reading the article by Yesil about governmental surveillance, my opinion on the matter started changing a little bit. I guess you could say I didn't have much of an opinion about it before but now I'm starting to really oppose the idea of surveillance. When people would talk about the government storing all of my texts somewhere, I just thought, "well maybe they'll get a kick out of my texts", never really thinking I had anything to worry about. Now I'm starting to feel likes since we are under surveillance, what if they think I'm up to something I'm not? I don't fear public cameras, but maybe that means I could be caught on one just looking suspicious. Like Yesil said (which makes perfect sense), the bad people are going to be the ones NOT on camera, they are going to stay away from the cameras. The only thing the cameras are going to do now is speculate many things that are never even going to happen.

Another reason why I don't like the idea of all of the cameras in public places is that the less public places will become more dangerous. To me that's a scarier thought because if you live in a big city but live in a more closed-off area, you might experience a lot more crime.

The last reason I don't like the idea of too much surveillance is because I think it moves the world in a bad direction. I just foresee a horrible kind of life where we almost have to act robotic in public in order to let the government know for sure we aren't doing anything wrong.

Yesil reading - DQ

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In this reading, the author discusses how surveillance cameras train individuals how to be law-abiding, even law-abiding citizens who are not being directly watched. This creates an effect where individuals become self-policing, taking away some of the need for institutions of law to enforce the law. What do you think Yesil would have to say about the potential/eventual(?) use of drones for surveillance? Does constant surveillance create the feeling that we're all guilty because we're always being watched? Do you think self-policing would have an effect on the types of meanings and messages that are produced in our media?

Can this idea of constant surveillance be related to Internet use, and how everything we do on the Internet can be tracked? What about cell phones?

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Orange is the New Black Blog

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The article on Orange is the New Black was particularly revealing to me on some notes. While I love Law and Order: SVU, they very rarely show the prison side of the crimes, only the investigation and trial.

One interesting thing I picked up from the article was that treating prisoners well has a correlation to less repeat offenses. While this isn't surprising, it was interesting to see it as a researched thesis. Further, having not watched the show I found it interesting that the show reportedly portrays the power-hungriness of prison staff accurately. I remember in a psychology class I took we watched a video of an experimental prison and how abusive the participants who were the prison guards were.

Also, this article reminded me of some feminist and anti-racist criticism of the show. While I couldn't find the specific article I had in mind, I did find this one that speaks about racial stereotypes on the show, highlighting the use of stereotypes in its representation of Latino and Black women on the show. http://thefeministgriote.com/orange-is-not-the-new-black/

Bilge Yesil Blog Post

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"Watching Ourselves" by Bilge Yesil is a very interesting article on videos surveillance and the potential affects on those being watched. With cameras around almost everywhere now, it made me think of myself and how safe I felt in those areas. Thinking of it now, there have been numerous times where I felt much safer knowing that I was being watched and therefore felt a lot safer, but the point that Yesil brings up about how affective they are, has made me think twice. Yesil mentions that "It can be argued that surveillance rather designs away crime, not deter it." This thought that though it makes me feel safe then, once I'm off camera, it can become dangerous.

An old news article by the Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/130541488.html is an exact example of what Yesil refers to. Though it has made the park safer, it has simply moved the criminals somewhere else. This then coincides with what Jonathan Simon argues that this has shifted the focus on deterring the law breakers only, not facing the problems head on. Instead of attempting to crack down on the criminals, it's more cost effective to deter them away from areas with common illegal activities.

Lava Orange is the New Black: Blog Post

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In the online article, What "Orange Is the New Black" Gets Right about the Prison System - and What It Leaves Out, the hit Netflix television show is praised for its seemingly empathetic and inside look into the the US prison systems. The author highlights how the show, unlike many other prison/law shows, shows the viewer the lives of the inmates: inside the prison, outside of the prison (before and after) and how they are human beings. OITNB doesn't dehumanize the inmates which sets it apart. It shows the complexities of the judicial system as well as those who work and live within prisons. As Lava said, "it has no fear about revealing that the good guys aren't always good, the bad guys aren't always bad, and the system is setting all of them up to fail." Lava also points out that although OITNB does very well in comparison to other prison/law tv shows, it fails at pointing out the ridiculously large prison population we have in the United States (2.2 million). It also fails to mention the racial bias that goes into putting people in prison (stop and frisk methods, post-incarceration difficulties in finding jobs for racial minorities, etc.).

Lava & Yesil Blog

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Governmental (and in turn, societal) perception and subsequent treatment of crime has long been the source of debate in the United States. As the spread and severity of punishment increases, so too do crime rates, creating a paradox that serves to intensify both 'problematic' behavior as well as subsequent responses of those in power. We currently live in a society in which crime punishment and prevention have seemingly coalesced, creating a constant state of fear--that is, more a fear of law enforcement than of actual crimes themselves. This is especially true for racial minorities, as discussed by Lava, as racism and profiling become more and more intertwined with 'justice'. The resulting atmosphere is less a natural one, in which law-abiding citizens harbor innate negative perceptions of criminals and crime more broadly, and more one that has instilled an us-versus-them mentality, the 'them' being law enforcement (and in turn government more broadly) and the 'us' being everyone else.
Although the general perception still seems to be that surveillance tactics are aimed at reducing crime, and that preventing crime is more sensible than merely punishing it, the shifted focus of governmental surveillance to include all individuals moves the public attention away from recognizing and condemning others' acts of deviance and toward the behavior of the self. The allure of such a strategy is obvious, from the view point of law enforcement, as it extends policing into the minds of not only criminals, but all individuals. Such a concept is rather alarming, but is hardly new; George Orwell's 1984 is perhaps the most popular work centered on the idea, and extends it to a disturbing fictional reality of complete surveillance. Though the fiction is increasingly becoming reality, as pointed out by Yesil. Although an Orwellian atmosphere seems hardly inevitable when considering potential public reception of such an environment, the subtle ways of changing thought processes currently employed by the government hold the potential to bring forth such a reality. After all, surveillance doesn't seem likely to decrease anytime soon--simply consider the increasing regularity of those mobile police cameras that are currently popping up all over Dinkytown, and the disconcerting nature of our reality becomes clear.

Blog Post: Yesil

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While reading this article, I found many interesting points made. I was quite surprised when Yesil was discussing the history of video surveillance. The fact that it was used as far back as the 70's in Time Square was quite shocking. When we think about surveillance today, it is obviously quite different than it was back in the 1970's. With the increasing technology throughout the years, the level of video surveillance has also increased, and with the amount of technology we have now, the surveillance possibilities are almost endless. This then brings up the question of, is the surveillance used today in place for our safety, or has it gone so far that is now goes against our rights. Back with the Time Square example, it was for the safety of those who went there. It was to deter crime, and it proved to work, but how is that surveillance being used today? Some say that it is still to protect us, and I believe that to some extent, but the fact that the government has the possibility to look at our personal files, such as email, phone conversations, etc., is quite puzzling, and I don't have an answer as to whether it is for our safety, or simply going to far.

Yesil Blog Entry

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The Yesil reading about surveillance pre- and post- 9/11 reminded me of an article I read just a few weeks ago about something currently happening in Los Angeles that's, for lack of a better word, pretty terrifying. They are using a service called the Automatic License Plate Reader, which is a series of cameras that are not triggered by any sort of wrongdoing or immediate criminal activity. Instead, they photograph all license plates, which are then run against various hotlists so the police are able to tell if you are involved in any illegal activity. The ALPR and their agencies' arguments "would allow law enforcement to conduct around-the-clock surveillance on every aspect of our lives and store those records indefinitely on the off-chance they may aid in solving a crime at some previously undetermined date in the future." (Gizmodo 2014). Even worse, "If the court accepts their arguments, the agencies would then be able to hide all this data from the public." Pretty scary stuff.

I thought it tied into the article pretty well, especially with the concepts of us being in a "risk society." On page 408, there's a good quote that says "Robert Castel writes that the primary aim in risk society or post-disciplinary order is 'not to confront a concrete dangerous situation, but to anticipate all the possible forms of eruption of danger.'" "Law enforcement is paying increasing attention to the control of whole populations [in the example I gave, the whole population of LA], constituting them as risks that must be continuously monitored to preempt undesirable behaviors." There are a ton of quotes I could pull from the reading, but you get the idea - what the reading is talking about seems to be exactly what's happening in Los Angeles right now, and it's pretty crazy.

Yesil-Blog Post

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I found this reading incredibly interesting. The idea of security cameras being everywhere to prevent crimes and acts of terror for "the good of the people" has always made me rather uncomfortable even though it's not like a camera would catch me personally doing anything wrong or illegal. I can appreciate that they're there to maintain public safety, but there's still something weird about it. However, I never really knew why it made me uncomfortable until I read this. It really does seem like it enforces some sort of social control over everyone and "trains the souls" of every individual instead of just the people who are committing the actual crimes. Even though someone might not be doing anything wrong, the presence of the camera makes them nervous and makes them conduct themselves in a different way than they normally would, and in most cases in a way that they think won't possibly be seen as strange or suspicious to anyone. If more and more cameras keep being added then at some point the cameras wouldn't even have to be on to get everyone to behave in a Stepford-esque manner, they would only have to be visible. It's like Bentham's panopticon idea. When the prisoners know there's a guard in the watch tower, they won't do anything bad or suspicious. But if they can't physically see whether or not there's a guard in the tower, they don't know if they're actually being watched and it would make them constantly nervous and aware of their actions.

Maybe it would be best (but possibly illegal?) to have hidden surveillance cameras so that the general public are not aware of their presence and therefore don't act any other way than they would normally. This way, criminals could still be caught by use of the cameras and the crime wouldn't be displaced to other locations because they wouldn't be aware of the cameras presence. Again though, I would imagine it's not legal to surveil people without their knowledge. So it ends up being a really complicated issue.

This reading also made me think about the plot of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (probably because I've seen it 3 times in the past week). In the movie, the organization SHIELD decides to launch "Project Insight" to keep track of and kill off anyone who could possibly be seen as a threat to maintaining social order. Instead of keeping track of individuals by use of surveillance cameras, they have a system look into the personality and past of every single person on Earth and see if they're a threat based on things like their intelligence, SAT scores, previous interactions with law enforcement, and their leadership abilities. This plan eliminates the security cameras but takes the invasion of privacy to the absolute extreme by making assumptions about people's future actions based on their past actions and killing off anyone who might be a problem. It's basically an alternative to world-wide surveillance, but it's clearly extremist and absolutely terrible and kind of terrifying to think about.

Yesil & Lava- Blog Post

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While reading the article by Yesil, I found myself thinking about how safe I feel due to the heavy surveillance by cameras that are at nearly every corner, in every store, elevator, staircase and more. The idea of a "Big Brother" has never seemed to bother me in the surveillance of public places, as I felt as I was acting accordingly to the standards of American hegemony. The issue that Yesil brings up regarding the places of criminal activity being created by the surveyors does however seem problematic to me. The areas of the United States that may be considered high crime have historically less surveillance and attention to criminal activity. The areas that are "important" to protect such as monuments and tourist destinations (sources for revenue for the government and major cities) seem to be surveyed in order to keep these areas profitable and desirable to attract tourists and large numbers of people. However, these high crime areas may be equally as populated but not surveyed to the the lack of revenue being generated by the area, in my opinion, and creates a breeding ground for crime. The impoverished living in the projects do not deserve to have their neighborhoods turned into these breeding grounds for opportunistic criminals. In my mind, the surveillance has backfired and created a disservice to those living in these areas.
Also, I feel as if the idea that surveillance reinforces normative behavior is a new one for me but makes complete sense. I never thought of myself as being forced or encouraged to act in accordance to norms, but thinking about my behavior when I feel as if I am being watched, I act like a much more proper version of myself, being constantly aware that I do not look suspicious and that my hands are seen at all times. Especially when shopping, I always want to make sure I do not look like I'm trying to pull one over on anyone or uncomfortable in any way. This is a novel idea in my mind and feel as if I should challenge some of these ideals next time I am in public. Not necessarily committing crimes or obscene acts, but not conforming to the actions of those around me.

Yesil Blog Post

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One part of Yesil's argument throughout this piece states that surveillance is used (among other reasons) to protect corporate and middle-class interests. Knowing that as we often discuss in class that the middle class is predominantly heterosexual white people I can't help but think of the ways in which surveillance can therefore be used as a tool to perpetuate white supremacy. When I think of surveillance I think of the basic act of one viewer watching over something/someone else. To me this is more than just video cameras and GPS systems but can be at a basic level somebody observing someone elses behavior. Through this basic interpretation of surveillance I continually think of the "watch for suspicious activity" signs that plague the streets of suburbia. While these signs may seem to have good intentions: who do you think is viewed as "suspicious" to a middle class white suburban dweller? A PERSON OF COLOR (or somebody that can be perceived as an "other.") So while basic things such as this which I consider to be tied to the word surveillance may seem to be acting to protect America, in a lot of ways they perpetuate the white supremacist society in which we live. Furthermore, few challenge this system because the political elite (whom represent the top of the social hierarchy) are currently benefitting from this status quo. By allowing surveillance to define "who looks suspicious" or "who gets taken in back for a pat down at the airport" the 'other' gets pushed even further from what is considered heteronormative and society continues to operate in this viscous cycle.

Blog Post: Yesil

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The divide of public and private space is often marked by unseen entities. In Yesil's article, the concept of video surveillance in particular is brought to light. As Dinkytown was recently the site of two riots and other such questionable activity, I thought it was interesting to compare this circumstance to Yesil's points. First of all, during the riots, video surveillance via riot cams and other such means of recording became a way for police and officials to watch over the "shenanigans." However, from what I can conclude from reading articles about the riots, such government provided recording devices did not lead to any arrests or notable changes in the crowd dynamic. On the other hand, it was the videos and photos taken by civilians that caused more uproar. The disconnect between what is public (government surveillance) and what is private (citizen photos) is interesting when what is private becomes public. On another note, security cameras in general are often located in high foot traffic areas. I've noticed many of them in the main hubs of Dinkytown and elsewhere in Minneapolis where many people tend to congregate. While this makes sense to have security (in the form of cameras) to deter crime, it also poses the predicament of the lack of security in outlying areas. For example, the Como neighborhood outside of the U of M campus hardly has any video surveillance. This has lead me to ponder if the lack of security cameras, separate from other types of security, has pushed certain types of crime away from highly supervised areas like Dinkytown.

Blog Post-Watching Ourselves

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This is an interesting article to read after the riots that happened at the U over the weekend. The author argues that even law abiding citizens should be concerned about being surveyed by a higher power even though they claim to be surveilling the community to prevent crime. The author says that it is up to the person watching the camera from a room far from the site to interpret whether a person standing next to someone committing a crime is also committing the crime just by watching and that this outside surveillance can be flawed and lead to innocent people being falsely accused.
This statement reminded me of the email that President Kaler sent out both Thursday morning and Saturday morning saying that there is zero tolerance for rioting but that you are also subject to arrest if your are even watching or just nearby. This seems like an abuse of surveillance and a tactic to control the community as a whole (including law abiding citizens) and not just the criminals. I heard of people just walking back to there homes in dinky town that got teargased just for walking by the riots when really the riots were on the way to their houses. These higher roles of authority are definitely attempting to use surveillance and enforcement to control the community as a whole to act a certain way, even if that means punishing innocent citizens. Our surveillance system is corrupt.

DQ-watching ourselves

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Yesil's article talks about the increase in video surveillance after 911. I personally think that video surveillance is a good thing because it does prevent some crimes, however there can be a negative affect because a picture/image is not always accurate of the situation. Yesil says on page 437: "video surveillance is a political and normative configuration because the visual information it extracts from its targets is used as the raw material for decision-making about them." I like the idea that people may not perform criminal activity in areas that are surveillance, because from my personal experience working at a gym (where there were no cameras) I can tell you it is extremely frustrating when people's cars get broken into and you have to tell these peoples there is nothing you can do because there is no way to find out because of the absence of surveillance. However in terms of predicting crimes and criminal activity on camera, it isn't always clear what is going on and there are shady people that have access to footage where they can manipulate or tamper the truth. There is also cases of people abusing their access to surveillance which I find is really scary. A couple of years ago a cop in New York was arrested for the intent of abducting, raping and eating of around 30 women, this man had gotten access to the surveillance set up by these women's homes to spy on them. So there is pros and cons of them like anything. However my question to think about is: Where do you draw the line with surveillance, with where it should be and who can have access? Does more surveillance in urban areas mean more potential access for terrorists and criminals to use at their disposal?

Watching Ourselves Blog Post

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This reading made me think a lot of a film I watched in a reality television course I am taking. It played with this idea of surveillance in that it was a documentary about a large group of people in New York who live underground in a makeshift society where everything is recorded (public and private). At the beginning of their time in this underground society, everyone loved it and thought the idea of being filmed and being able to watch other people on film was a cool idea, but by the end of it many people essentially went crazy and felt extremely violated. I think that everyone wants to feel like they have freedom (even though in this society no one really does) and this idea of being surveyed strikes a negative cord with many people. I think surveillance is important in many situations and is a great way of making people accountable. In my experience specifically, without surveillance, my life would be a lot different. I was involved in a car accident last February (I was the passenger) and without the camera on the traffic light, no one would've known who was the cause of the accident ie. who ran the red light. So, in my case, I think surveillance can be beneficial because it saved me a lot of time and money, but I can see how it can be very intrusive.

DQ- Watching Ourselves

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In Bilge Yesil's article "Watching Ourselves" talks about our country's focus on preemptive surveillance of U.S. citizens in order to deter violent acts through it's constant presence and the threat of detection. Why is it, do you think, that so much energy and effort is being put into preventing attacks from happening as opposed to improving our country's relation with the outside world, or even giving proper aid and attention to the often mentally unstable individuals who commit violent mass crimes? Legislation has only furthered to monitor everyone as a potential threat instead of cutting to the heart of the matter. We often seem to be finding temporary solutions to permanent problems. An example of this would be the Sandy Hook shootings. The immediate response after that tragedy was to add more guns and security to equation by putting armed police men in every school. This solution almost completely ignores the individual who committed the crime and his mental state in favor of more video/personal surveillance. Even with the monitoring systems we have in place today violent acts continue to occur, so why have we not changed tactics?

Watching Ourselves- Blog Post

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Yesil's critique of the usage of public surveillance cameras brought up extremely interesting points. The critique about how the usage of surveillance cameras become a project of governance rather than for the common good of public safety was something I could really agree with. The author's first point being that the installation and presence of these cameras really do not reduce crime, but simply displaces it into areas where there are no cameras. I think the author is completely correct in this point, especially as a student at the U who lives on campus and all of the crime we have been subject to. All of the crime occurs in neighborhoods and on streets that do not have cameras, rather than near classroom buildings and locations that do have them. Also, the concept of 'governmentality' that is brought up within the article had me considering the social ethics behind surveillance cameras. The article states, "at the heart of governmentality, it is not the subjectification of individuals, but the placement of them under surveillance, eliciting their participation to make themselves known without the use of force". I thought this was an ethical concept because, in my opinion, this quote is a great point that should be used IN SUPPORT of surveillance cameras. With the lack of force and aggression used to expose criminals and 'deviants', these people who display socially inappropriate behavior expose themselves and can be weeded out rather than the alternative.

Blog Post--Watching Ourselves

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This reading brought up a number of things about surveillance that I personally have had issue with. The first major issue is that the argument that "people who aren't doing anything wrong shouldn't have anything to worry about" doesn't really sit well with me. As Yesil highlights, this argument is built off the precedent that these technologies are serving as preventative mechanisms against crime, when that is simply not the case. Yesil, and others, have discovered through research that these surveillance systems don't in fact do anything to prevent crime...they simply displace it. So in that sense, it doesn't really make me feel any better that there are surveillance systems out there, rather...it just makes me feel as though I am in somewhat of a big brother situation.

It was interesting to consider the idea of design crime, it was something that I hadn't really thought about before. In most cases criminals are not stupid, and they will learn very quickly when they are being watched. Therefore, they will move from heavily surveilled areas, into less surveilled ones to conduct their illicit activity. My question is, do we run the risk of further concentrating crime to low income areas that cannot afford such systems, if the current systems expand to become more prominent throughout other parts of the city? Will these systems foster new areas of high crime? What can be done to prevent such an issue?

I am not entirely against surveillance. However, I think that Yesil made the important distinction between public and private usage. I completely understand the idea that stores, shops, airports, etc. should have cameras because they are protective private goods and freedoms. When they move into the public domain, however, their function is much more blurry and seemingly "Panopticonesque".

Citizenship DQ

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Having been born in Miami and spending a lot of time in South Florida, this article got me thinking about the treatment of Cubans and other immigrants. My family, who came from Cuba before Castro took power, staunchly believes the new Cuban immigrants should learn English and that signs in Florida should not be bilingual. Do immigrants needs to adapt to our culture or abandon theirs to become true citizens of the US?

Miller

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Miller is pretty awesome. Do we live in "a community of individuals or a community of communities"? I do not know. (395) But the community does need some sort of protection against any oppression of human rights. Miller's seven formations of cultural citizenship were interesting but he goes on to explain how they neglect political economy in favor to political technology and how they should be one entity. (73)

Do you think liberal ideals still expect minorities to throw off prior loyalties in order to become citizens? (399)

What can we do not as individuals but as a collective?

Eat Pray Love - Blog Post

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In this article the authors explain how even after the housing market crash our literature and media have still been promoting to live richly. The authors also explain that from books like, Eat, Pray, Love the overall message is that a person has to spend an exorbitant amount of money in order for them to receive enlightenment and spiritual healing. The authors explain that in our generation we are living in an enlightenment period of time which has taken on very feminine ideals. These liberal women have been told over and over again that it is important to find your happiness through these enlightening experiences that you have to shell out an enormous amount of money for.

Do you think that it is necessary to spend a large amount of money in order to achieve enlightenment these days?

Miller DQ

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Where do you think the line is drawn considering wellness and commodity? I understand the problem with consuming in the hopes for happiness/tranquility/wellness, but where does consuming (with the goal of being well) start becoming deleterious? As an example, if one wants to buy a yoga mat to enable oneself to start yoga and become more peaceful, is that categorized in the same way as someone else going out and paying for yoga classes, yoga apparel, yoga books/movies, etc? I think that commodity can be beneficial in some ways, but too much can pull you away from what you are really aiming to accomplish.

Miller DQ

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It's obvious that when immigrants come to the US, they must be acquainted with the American culture to a high level in order to become a citizen. Do you think this, in a way, takes away from their own culture that they are bringing to the US? Do you think the US wrongly strips people of their culture or do you believe that it's just one of the parts to becoming a citizen of a country different from your homeland? Do you think the US should do a better job of trying to preserve different cultures here or do you believe it's best that we all melt into one?

Citizenship DQ

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While Miller offers an extensive explanation of the three areas that make up citizenship (political, economic, cultural) and the necessary detailing of their place in history, it is "Eat, Pray, Spend" that illuminates the theme of consumption that underlies both readings. Both works also focus heavily on the United States in discussing the concept of identity. Does the idea of multiculturalism conflict too directly with nationalism (especially in United States politics) as to render an identity that consists of a compromise between the two impossible?

Cultural Citizenship DQ

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In one particular part of this text, Miller gives many examples of differences found within multicultural societies that support his claims. (Page 394 second column.) One of these examples includes "Jewish men in the U.S. military demand exemptions from dress codes and don yarmulke in obeisance to god." How are examples such as this important to Miller's argument?

Eat, Pray, Spend DQ

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The article by Joshunda was one that I thought was very interesting. I could definitely see the side she is taking with consumerism associated with wellness. But a question I had throughout the article was if someone could afford to live the life of Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love would they not still the same level of happiness? What I mean is if money is no longer a problem for them and spending it did not affect their lifestyle, would they still achieve the same happiness for someone who has "cost-free or inexpensive paths to wellness"?

This reading was a brief but informative critique about the "enlightenment" industry, particularly its involvement with femininity. One of the main characteristics of the enlightenment industry is, in fact, its connotations to femininity. The authors discuss how despite the economic crash, the popularity of this self-improvement media has only continued to grow. This is significant to mention because a large part of this idea of self-improvement is tied up in economic factors, "promoting materialism and dependency masked as empowerment, with evangelical zeal". Because of this, these self-improvement texts are only primarily accessible to those who do not have any financial barriers (thus the term "priv-lit"), while making it seem as if self-improvement is attained solely through hard work, commitment, and patience. In other words, bootstrap theory.

According to the authors, priv-lit is problematic because its ultimate aim is not at actually empowering women, but by convincing them that they must do expensive things in order to strengthen their body, mind, and soul. Hidden within this message "is the antifeminist idea that women should become healthy so that people will like them, they will find partners, they'll have money, and they'll lose weight and be hot". The only empowerment that's going on is the empowerment to decide where to spend one's money.

Miller-Question

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This article seems to dwelve into what constitutes citizenship and what should constitute citizenship. With such a diverse America, it seems that the cultural citizenship should not be labled white and English as this is simply not representative of the culture in some areas. Is it simply this notion of cultural citizenship in America that is holding back so may immigrants from attaining the other 2 zones of citizenship; political and economic? How does the media affect our view of what citizenship is and how does this tie into consumerism?

DQ--Cultural Citizenship

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There seems to be a difficult and undefined line between what is appropriate in a certain culture, and what rights/laws need to be upheld within the context of a citizenship to a certain country. It would be almost impossible to write up laws and exceptions for every cultural practice that was considered inappropriate under a certain citizenship, so how might we go about addressing the issue of cultural exceptions and exemptions as they relate to the laws of a specific country? How can these lines be drawn without being oppressive, or granting too much freedom?

cultural citizenship/eat, pray, spend

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In miller's article he talks about cultural citizenship and how citizens are created, he quotes Thomas Hobbes saying; "Man is made fit for society not by nature, but by training." I found this part of the article significant because my whole life I have been taught to believe that the USA is the most prominent country in the world, the place where dreams can come true, you can practice any religion you want and essentially be free to do whatever you want. This idea of what the USA stands for kind of diminishes for me when I go on to read in Miller's article how in gaining citizenship in USA a person has to adopt certain beliefs in order to live here. This article really feeds into the concept of cultural hegemony, because not only are we passing the consumer driven ideologies to generations in our own country, we are literally forcing the people from other countries to adhere to the American way of life if they are going to live here. I just think its so silly we consider the USA the land of the free because I feel like the so called free are slaves of consumption.

The eat, pray, spend article ties in with Miller's article because Sanders and Barnes-Brown talk about how spiritual enlightenment, self-help and healthy living/eating have become commodified. I think the connection between the two articles is the combined message that "Americans have found a way to commodify everything!" It's pretty ridiculous to read about how much money women will spend in attempts to improve their lives, appearance, now their souls...for what? For other people to like them more?! What's even more ridiculous is to read this and be flabbergasted and then reflect on my consumption habits and identify that they are not so different. Well my consumption habits are a little different because I am poor, but essentially the beliefs are the same. The beliefs that s successful woman: eats healthy, exercises, is fit, is beautiful, is at peace with one's self. Although I have never quit school or my job and ran away to india to meditate and do yoga for years; I have still watched the eat, pray, love movie and thought it was an interesting idea.

Eat, Pray, Spend DQ

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I thought this week's reading was pretty interesting. I had heard of the Eat, Pray, Love book before but I had absolutely no idea what it was about. It totally makes sense as to why it's popular - I mean, women are beat over the head with images of skinny, fit, "spiritually healthy" celebrities all the time and we should want to achieve their status, right? (Hint: nope). Since that book was released 8 years ago, my discussion question is in a few parts: are there any books that are as wildly popular/self-helpy as that one was out today? Would the current trends of gluten free diets, juice cleanses, raw/paleo diets, etc. be in the same vein in that they're incredibly expensive (I would know, I was gluten free for a year and a half before the "craze") and only wealthy people can afford them?

Blog Post- Cultural Citizenship

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In Toby Miller's article "What is Cultural Citizenship" he states that "the consumer has become the classless, raceless, sexless, ageless, unprincipled, magical agent of social value in a multitude of discourses" (31). He goes on to mention that the "drive to realize individual desires" is what spurs this universal way of thinking. To me this passage reinstates the notion that the consumer is less of an individual and more of a projection of the ideal client that both advertisers and businesses create when trying to move a product or idea. Miller reinstates this idea by stating that the consumer is not "the subject but the object" therefore making it easier for the producers of the client to separate the message from the individual, because in a sense even the audience has been commodified. However, ironically, these businesses are also trying to form an attachment between the consumer and the product in order to further sales and dependency on the product. In the article "Eat, Pray, Spend" by Joshunda Sanders and Diana Barnes-Brown show what happens when the object is sold as having the magical ability to transcend your life and your public image. This new cultural phenomenon of yoga and wellness media projected the idea that consumers are not living the best lives possible, or that their lives are missing a crucial component to their overall well-being. Now empowerment can be sold through material goods- which, as a result, turns the lives of the people, particularly women, into a commodity itself. Even when we try to discover and improve ourselves we cannot do it without the guidance and materials of the modern world. We no longer decide what is our "best life".

Eat, Pray Spend DQ

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In the article, the author dictated that, "spending is justified by supposedly healthy goals: acceptance, self-love, healing old wounds, and breaking destructive patterns..." then she goes on to later write that all of these 'goals' "assume that we are actually in the post-feminism era, and feminism is over". My question is, that are we actually in a post-feminist era? As a society have we overcome and reached all of the goals of what the feminist movement wanted? If we are not, how do we combat arguments that we have reached a 'post-feminist' point?

Sender and Sullivan Blog

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I thought this article was interesting in the way it analyzed the two shows. I was much more interested in its analysis of The Biggest Loser. I think the analyses of the audience's reactions as well as the representations of the contestants' willpower were particularly interesting.

There is one issue I was wrestling with while reading the article, however. Coming from a background with three of my close family members being obese and hearing their attitudes on their obesity and what they did to change their body weight, obesity is something I was raised to see as a problem that needs to be fixed. Often times in social media we see images promoting acceptance of obese bodies and seeking to undermine fat phobia. While I think everyone should be happy with who they are and their body, I wonder if these new attitudes will backfire. Obesity, as far as I know, is a medical problem; simply put, it isn't healthy. That being said, is there any way to balance messages of "Be comfortable in your own skin" with health-directed messages like "Being above a certain weight is a health risk to you" ?

Sender and Sullivan

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This article brings up a lot of contradictory feelings I've had for a while about reality TV Personally, I am not a fan of any reality TV besides honey boo boo (as odd as that sounds). I think I like that show because the family shows so much down-to-earth-ness and love. They didn't have much before the show yet they gave presents to the even less fortunate every Christmas. The reason I don't usually like reality TV is because it shows a reality of American life that I wish wasn't the reality. There is so much focus on money and looks which I don't think helps the younger generation who are growing up with these shows. Now, in the case of the Biggest Loser and What Not to Wear, I don't think the implications are as drastic as other shows, but I still think the paradoxical theme that the article gets at causes an issue. These shows are constantly telling us we need to change in order to be a better version of ourselves. What if we don't have that money? Will we never be a good version of ourselves? If people do the best they can with what fits their lifestyle then that's all they can do. If they have the means, then I can see that getting a little motivation would benefit them. However, the whole idea of them completely transforming doesn't promote self-esteem. Kids out there who have low self esteem already might see that and think their only happiness will come from them finally being able to transform into a new person. This reminds me of a show that used to air when I was a kid called, "The Swan". In this show, contestants got plastic surgery, had strict diets, and worked out like crazy for months. After a certain amount of time, they were entered into a Swan pageant to see who made the best transformation. I remember my 6th grade teacher telling our class that this show is awful because it flat out tells you what's pretty and what isn't and that beauty can be bought with thousands of dollars. We shouldn't accept what God gave us because it isn't "pretty" by media standards. The show tried to act like it was giving hope for the ugly ducklings out there and that it should be looked at as an inspirational show. In actuality, it was completely the opposite because the only thing it was inspiring people to do is spend tons of money on their appearance.

I think that America would benefit greatly from shows that really made people feel good to be who they are (kind of like Honey Boo Boo ;) ). However, the only way this becomes successful is if there is at least something we are allowed to point out and criticize. Americans find so much entertainment in the criticizing of others, and that's why these reality shows like The Biggest Loser and What Not to Wear will always be around. While I do find satisfaction (as I'm sure others do) in the thought of people becoming happier as a result of their time on the show, I just wish someone was out there telling them that they were completely fine before the show too.

Sender & Sullivan DQ

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A large aspect of the article was identified as the way that shows such as the Biggest Loser not only condemn having a fat body, but also probably are more concerned with humiliating participants than actually seeing them lose weight. Both ways of viewing contestants are problematic. Would broadcasting an image that condemned laughing at fat people be effective in changing public perceptions of obese individuals, or is it necessary to remove negativity altogether from the concept of obesity?

Sender & Sullivan-DQ

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In the article, it is stated that both of the shows that are discussed, especially The Biggest Loser, associates being overweight with laziness and poor self esteem, yet the shows are made out to be in the interest of "bettering America." Are the insinuations that overweight people are lazy and need to change "what's inside them" before they can change what's outside really helping anyone? Or do they actually make overweight people feel like they deserve to have low self esteem because they've supposedly "done it to themselves" and make them feel discouraged about the concept of losing weight altogether?

Sender and Sullivan Question

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When reading this article, I could not help but compare it to the World's Apart reading/show because it was essentially the same thing: a certain group of people being thrown in to another life style to display one of those lifestyles as bad and market one as better. In the case of World's Apart, it is from the perspective of the marketed class, while in the Biggest loser, it is from the perspective of the the people who's lifestyle is made to look bad. Does the biggest loser act as a public service announcement to an obese America or is it primarily a show to act as entertainment comedy to gain more viewership and advertisement money? Are there other shows like world's apart and the Biggest loser that aim to market a specific lifestyle to the world?

Sender and Sullivan Blog

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I have never seen either The Biggest Loser or What Not to Wear before but have a general idea of what they are about. On p.366 Gabby's response to The Biggest Loser is that she found it disgusting and did not like people being exposed while What Not to Wear was better as these people were told they were beautiful nonetheless. Though I can see the side that Gabby is taking, I disagree with it. Weight control is something that we need in order to live a healthy lifestyle. It's your health. It is far more important to be healthy than to look good in clothes. I found it frustrating that people would rather watch What Not to Wear. Teaching someone to wear clothes that looks better on their figure, whether big or small, undermines the importance of their health. It seems that being exposed the way they are in The Biggest Loser is what deters viewers from watching because they too may be struggling with their own weight or feel uncomfortable about the situation. But it is done in such a way to allow the viewers to see the dramatic changes before and after the show. It also shows the hard work that those people put into losing their weight and leading a healthy lifestyle.

Sender and Sullivan Blog

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The Biggest Loser and What Not to Wear are both interesting shows because they focus on external fixes as a means to create a better life and well-being. To me, What Not to Wear may be detrimental to its characters because it is promoting a mindset that external appearances like clothing, hairstyles, and make-up can give you happiness. Although these things can help in regards to our superficial society, they're not the sole means for a good life and happiness. I think that this show sends the wrong image to susceptible viewers and promotes an unhealthy mindset. The Biggest Loser, on the other hand, is a show that I do enjoy because it promotes hard work and dedication to achieve one's goals. There are so many "easy way outs" out there like surgery, diet pills, eating disorders, etc. that have become such a huge problem in our society. It is sad to me that people are too lazy and/or ignorant to understand that healthy/whole eating and daily exercise can make you a happier, healthier, and consequently thinner person. In addition to that, I think that the whole food and healthcare industry is extremely messed up because there is no focus on PREVENTION of illness (mainly food and exercise based), it is all surrounded around treatment and medication. The reason that I like the Biggest Loser is because it shows first hand that exercising, eating restrictions, and (moderately) healthy eating CAN make a difference, even to morbidly obese people. I could go on and on about this subject because I am extremely passionate about health and promoting a healthy well-being and image (I am vegan/gluten-free, have a plant based whole diet, and exercise daily) and I am confident in the fact that healthy eating can cure disease. Although this is straying from the point, I did like the article and I disagree with the thought that it promotes unhealthy ideals for weight loss. Exercise should be the main focal point if one wants to lose weight, and I think it is good that they are showing this.

Blog Post--Sender and Sullivan

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I thought this was an interesting perspective for this article to take. Rather than looking directly at the representation of the overweight people in the show, the study chose to examine the audiences reactions to the show to shed light on what these shows were really portraying. In all it seems that people were divided in how they viewed these shows. On the surface, it could easily be said that these reality shows are doing their best to "better" the contestants that participate. However, there does seem to be a great deal of sensationalization, especially in The Biggest Loser. The overweight people being represented on the show are supposed to be motivating tools for overweight viewers, but in many cases they only serve to make them uncomfortable, and demoralize them. Thus, the show is counterproductive in the objective it claims. If its goal was not to sensationalize fatness as a point of humor and entertainment, then they wouldn't make the extremely overweight people run up and down stairs in skimpy outfits. It exploits their fatness. Of course it is easy for a skinny viewer to look at the show and say "they are doing a great thing, they are just trying to help overweight people lose weight", but for a viewer who has struggled with their weight their whole life, that viewpoint is harder to take. I think it is important for people to turn a critical eye to shows like the biggest loser and determine what they are really trying to achieve. They may in fact be ultimately helpful to the candidates (though even that is up for debate, because the weight loss is too extreme), but for the overweight viewers, they really only serve to demean and demoralize them even further, should they choose to watch.

Sender and Sullivan Blog Post

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This article provoked many thoughts for me!
First of all I find the focus on how television has become increasingly more fixated on makeover shows particularly interesting. I can't help but think that this has to do with the increasing pro-consumption messaging in television. Makeover shows send out the message that a better version of yourself is always available (through a necessary transformation.) According to these shows, this "better version" can be attained often through the purchase of material goods. The authors point out both What Not to Wear and The Biggest Loser as examples of makeover shows.

Secondly, I find an interesting contradiction between the promotion of consumption in television and general attitudes toward obesity in America. Media portrays pro consumption and indulgence messaging yet too much of this (which I believe can lead to obesity) is a bad thing. I think in this way obesity can be a representation of indulgence, yet people have a general distaste for obesity which can be exemplified through the underrepresentation of it in media. Therefore I find this entire relationship interesting and thought provoking. According to media, one can and should consume but not at a rate that would cause obesity because that would be "undesirable."

Sender and Sullivan-DQ

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In Sender and Sullivan's article they bring up that a major theme in the biggest loser is the associations between fat, lazy and lack of willpower and that the show gives the perception that if a person is obese its due to internal dysfunction and a weak will.

I really think it sucks for over weight people in the media because they are under represented and get stereotyped as lazy and stupid; which causes others to think that about them and causes them to think that way about themselves. Shows like "The Biggest Loser" and "What not to Wear" treat obesity as a hurdle to over come, a problem that needs to be resolved. This idea from the media "that its not ok to be fat" ends up making people frustrated and hate themselves and consume things to lose the weight in order to like who they are.

DQ: By now it is common knowledge that a lot of food in America is not good for us, could it be possible that the media is behind making obesity be a problem, in order to try and fix it, through even more consumption?

Sender & Sullivan-DQ

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This article had many points for and against both make over shows What Not To Wear and The Biggest Loser. Though all points were valid and justifiable, I feel like there is a bigger issue after viewing this years Biggest Loser on a regular basis. The cast and trainers on this season had a lot of diversity in social class, race, size, age, and sexual orientation. Though this is a positive spin on the prior problems addressed within the article regarding past seasons' cast, I feel like one thing stands out more than anything: Rachel (age 24) from Stillwater, MN appeared to be emaciated at the finale. She was the winner of this season- starting out at 260 lbs and ending at 105 lbs!!!!
RACHEL.jpg

Though there are many other issues aside from the cast alone, one problem I find is that the idealization of thin bodies that was not addressed. Rachel encompasses my worry. In a show, full of professionals, that recognize overeating in some circumstances as an addiction, just as serious as alcohol and drug addiction, does not recognize that overeating and anorexia can go hand in hand. Once these contestants get a taste for the victory of rapid weight loss, they want to continue this journey at all costs. My question is, Why is the worry of the thin, anorexic, emaciated figures falling at the wayside in these shows? Obesity and extreme thin-ness are equally problematic and anorexia causes more health problems and deaths than obesity, in a much shorter time.

Blog Post: Sender and Sullivan

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One of the first points Katherine Sender and Margaret Sullivan make in the article, "Epidemics of will, failures or self-esteem: Responding to fat bodies in The Biggest Loser and What Not to Wear" was a crucial one. The two authors articulate that viewer distaste of television shows often greatly contrast with their perpetuation via watching them. For example, on 573, they say, "audience responses to the shows suggest that even viewers who consider themselves 'fans' critique them for narrow and unkind representations, and for inadequate or bad advice. Yet audiences concur with the underlying premise of both shows..." There is a paradox created by the viewer being unhappy about they are seeing, yet continuing to watch. Also, going off of that point, I think a critical word used in the quote is 'fans.' This again presents the idea that viewers are not watching these shows to ponder the rights and wrongs and have an analytic lens, there is a sense of disassociation from one's "moral self" and the non-mentally strenuous enjoyment of watching. I've found myself plagued by this notion. A particular example that comes to mind is my personal experience with the show "The Bachelor." I think it is incredibly sexist (and flawed in many other ways), however I have found myself joining my friends on the couch to mindlessly watch on a Monday night. Sure, there is much mockery and jokes made while we watch, but we are still watching non the less. The affirmation of shows like "The Bachelor," "The Biggest Loser," and "What Not to Wear" that "yes," someone is watching gives the green light to the concepts they project. I think moving forward with this idea, it is key to be more conscious of what we as viewers give the thumbs up to simply by watching the show.

Blog post: Sender & Sullivan

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Basically I agree with both of the dominant interpretations of the shows. Yes I believe it is possible to glean inspiration from the Biggest Loser and to feel supportive, or supported for those that relate, of the contestants struggling through their weight loss. I also believe the show is a gross exploitation of obesity. The same for 'Wear'; if looking better helps people feel better, I dig. Is the degradation of their fashion sense and physical size necessary for the rebuilding of their self esteem, I doubt it.
I do also agree with many of the interviewees, and the general consensus, that the obesity and physical appearance "in need of makeover" stem from inner conflicts that need to be altered more importantly than the outer image.
So ultimately I suppose I don't approve of the shows, it's base entertainment, but I can understand what people would find so appealing about it.

Blog Post: Sender and Sullivan

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This article made many good points regarding reality shows depicting body style. Due to the fact I have never seen "What Not to Wear," I wish to discuss some of the points brought up about "The Biggest Loser." There were mixed views with the people that they interviewed, many of which were insulted by what "The Biggest Loser" represented to obese people, however, there was one statistic that jumped out at me, that thousands of people wanted the chance to be a part of the show. I believe obesity to be a growing problem in the United States, and there are many factors that contribute to this, but the fact that so many overweight people wish to take part in this and make a change in their lives is a step in the right direction. While there is debate about the tactics throughout this show, one of which is losing to much weight in a short amount of time, I feel as though it may give people more motivation to change their lives around and try to live a healthier lifestyle.

In Katherine Sender's article "Epidemics of will, failures of self-esteem: Responding to fat bodies in The Biggest Loser and What Not to Wear" the topic of obesity is studied across various genders and races, yet whether these programs are seeking to fix or inform overweight people their representations of these individuals rarely changes. As Sender points out fat people, particularly in fictional shows, "are 'figures of fun' or failure, and are rarely credited with a subjectivity that isn't entirely constructed by their size". Reality TV shows such as The Biggest Loser and What Not to Wear are very similar in their representations of overweight people. What the shows also share is that idea that hard work is what is required to overcome this issue. I find this argument similar to arguments about racial inequalities in which the idea is "no matter your gender or race, if you work hard you will make it in society". I think this is an ignorant view of the tensions and issues within our culture and society in which their are many seemingly invisible obstacles. How are these shows, especially What Not to Wear since the volunteering process is often done without the knowledge or consent of the participants, making this exploitation and humiliation seem desirable?

Sender, Sullivan DQ

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Human makeovers, housing makeovers, bar and restaurant makeovers, animal makeovers, life makeovers and makeover makeovers. American audiences enjoy watching change. This change is usually for the better but can project negative implications. The biggest loser uses rhetoric in its title that suggests people who are overweight are losers themselves. What Not to Wear seems pretty fair but sometimes it is best left to a persons individual opinion. Class, gender and race are huge when digging into such an issue because of our capitalistic endeavors towards success and acknowledgement.

What should the U.S. do about peoples weight?

Where can this be seen in other countries with higher economic power?

Biggest Loser Blog

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I really enjoyed this week's article about What Not To Wear (one of my personal favorite shows from back in the day) and The Biggest Loser. It's a pretty interesting time to be reading the article because there's been so much controversy surrounding TBL, some of it even happening as soon as today!

On page 574 the article says "Health scholars argue that although reality shows that deal with health-related issues, such as The Biggest Loser, may be helpful in encouraging people to lose weight, they promote unrealistic - even dangerous - expectations about the methods and speed with which to achieve this." A prime example of this would be the most recent season's winner Rachel Fredrickson. She dropped 59.2 percent of her body weight to become the season's winner and get the grand prize of $250,000, going from 260lbs to 105. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, this makes her slightly underweight - at 5'5 she should weigh between 109 and 145 lbs. While she lost most of that weight on the "ranch," a good portion of it was lost after she went home - a period of time which is supposed to be closely monitored via a system of checks and balances, but apparently isn't done well enough. At the end of February, the show's "tough-love" trainer Jillian Michaels commented on it via Huff Post, saying "I thought she had lost too much weight. In my opinion, this had fallen through those checks and balances."

It's interesting to note that with all of the recent controversy, just today news has come to light that Michaels said she may be leaving the show because of the practices it holds. "She is deeply concerned about the direction the show has been taking," she said in an interview with People Magazine, She is turned off by the mean-spirited story lines and poor care of the contestants." Echoing her previous statement, she also said "Her feeling is that there isn't proper attention paid to the contestants' health or wellness." Fredrickson has since gained 20 lbs and says that she finally feels good about herself again - or, as the article put it, "her outer appearance finally matched her inner appearance" (579).

Words Apart: DQ

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While reading this article, my mind kept focusing on a pattern I've seen on social media (mainly Facebook). Many of my friends go on mission trips or service trips abroad, post hundreds of photos of themselves with the children (mainly all children of color) that live in the area that they traveled to, and say things like, "I didn't change their lives nearly as much as they changed mine". I find myself getting frustrated and annoyed at the white savior complex I see going on and the amount of privilege that goes into these trips. If anyone is familiar with what I'm talking about, do you believe that these types of trips are more motivated by the self or to promote this image of an American who is a fan of multiculturalism and wants to "help" the "suffering third world countries"? Is this idea that other countries who fall under the US (in the rank system of development that Roy points out) need help something that is systemically United States specific? Where do you believe that this notion that we can save everyone and every country came from?

Worlds Apart DQ

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To what degree do representations of the US's national brand create and/or reflect the state of out culture. Are shows like Worlds Apart just provide a lens to look through or do they actually create imperialistic tendencies within our culture?

Worlds Apart DQ

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With shows like Worlds Apart, instead of advertising the dominance of the U.S. in other countries do these shows in turn advertise the U.S. for the "others" to come over? With the main demographic being middle to upper class America, do you think that it opens up opportunities for those who are in power to act on these featured 3rd world countries?

Worlds Apart-Blog

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While reading the article I kept thinking about the British series An Idiot Abroad. The show has a somewhat similar concept as World's Apart, except it seems much less problematic to me. In this show, Ricky Gervais and one of his friends send their friend Karl-who doesn't like to travel and doesn't see why anyone would want to leave the UK-on excursions all over the world so they can document his reactions to cultural differences and situations that he finds uncomfortable. The difference between this show and World's Apart is that it doesn't seem to put down other cultures in order to raise up the British culture or the people by insinuating that they are a "superior race" like World's Apart seems to do. In fact, it pokes fun at people who can't appreciate the differences in cultures, especially Karl who of course is the "idiot abroad". It also doesn't show "whiteness" as "modern civilization" and equate people of color with the word "culture" as much as Worlds Apart does, since in a lot of the episodes Karl actually goes to other European countries, New Zealand, Australia, and in two cases he even goes to America. The purpose of the show isn't to get him to appreciate his "British life," but to get him to appreciate differences and everything that's out there. I've only seen a few episodes of An Idiot Abroad and I haven't seen any episodes of Worlds Apart, so I can't be positive of all the differences between the shows, but it definitely seems to me that An Idiot Abroad provides a much less problematic glimpse of other cultures without portraying them in the negative light that Worlds Apart does.

World's Apart DQ

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How does this reading relate to the current state of our nation? It is obvious that America has always been known to insert itself into other countries in the hopes to prove itself as a beneficial and well meaning force, but how does this relate to what is being done today? I tend to think more about military involvement and America imposing itself onto other countries in the hopes to "help", but more often than not, we just make things way worse.

"Worlds Apart" Blog

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In "Worlds Apart," Ishita Sinha Roy examines the current state of United States 'diplomacy', the imperialistic nature with which US television attempts to subject its viewers to a more multicultural experience, the role of fetish images in doing so, and subsequent domestic and global perceptions of the US. At the heart of Roy's argument is the concept of 'nation-branding', which is essentially the process of creating a national identity that can be sold to other countries. In the context of the United States, attempts to establish this identity often reinforce the First World/Third World binary as well as modernize attitudes and practices in favor of colonialism.
In the last few months, as partially the result of taking this class, my view of the United States has become less and less patriotic. I believe that I have continually, throughout my life, bought into the idea that this country was founded in opposition to imperialism, and I enjoyed believing that we truly are the 'land of the free'. However, I've grown to despise a number of practices that take place in America, especially those in relation to other countries. Indeed it is true that we much less resemble 'the underdog' than we do an empire, and Roy's examination of National Geographic's "Worlds Apart" agrees with my assertion.
Instead of "Worlds Apart" (the show), which serves to eroticize the other and reassure viewers that America truly is the best, an ideal show would be one where the families never come back. Families, or whoever the subjects of this show may be, would be forced to endure the same kind of 'hardships' as the native residents, gain a deeper understanding of foreign perceptions of American 'diplomacy', and truly recognize the unnecessary cost of American convenience. Such a show only exists in my imagination, but attempts to reveal the reality of the United States, in relation to other countries and not within its confines, would certainly be beneficial in fostering a more healthy understanding and appreciation for this country.

world's apart-blog post

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The show Worlds Apart does seem to be the perfect example of U.S. culture being marketed to the rest of the world. According to the article, the show portrays America's wealth and superiority by being able to go to these other countries and get a true taste of how it is to live amongst another culture, but then return to America, forget the better ways of living that inspired them while abroad, and treat that experience as a souvenir. America's superiority is marketed in this way because those same people from third world countries are not fortunate enough to fly to the United States and have a similar experience.
The United States seems to display their superiority as a world empire by absorbing aspects of other culture's as their own. We seem to have a trend of adopting other culture's food, and even though it is not authentic, claiming that we are cultured by eating it. Similarly, Americans watch the show Worlds Apart from the comfort of their large homes, and claim that they are cultured. Americans market their superiority amongst a national market by displaying their ability to consume aspects of other cultures, being able to claim they are cultured, without actually having to experience the hardships and work that went into those products that people that are actually from those cultures do have to experience. Just like we consume processed food and don't associate the inhumane slaughtering that happens before we eat a hamburger. We display this claim to be cultured through our economic privilege.

Worlds Apart Discussion Question

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At one point in this text the Sinha Roy states, "Within the capital-based racism of neocolonial globalization, countries described as First World or Third World, are also predominantly either white or colored respectively. As labor flows make nations more complex sites of mixed racial articulation, there is an ongoing struggle to define a nation's racial identity" (pg. 573) After reading this I began to wonder why an answer of either or really mattered. My question therefore is: Why must racial identity be a "struggle?/ Why does it matter? What does being either white or colored (as a racial identity) mean for a country?

Discussion Question - Worlds Apart

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Do you think that the reasons for shows like Worlds Apart are to make Americans see America as a much more superior country than others, or to promote multiculturalism?

"World's Apart" - Blog Post

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This reading dealt particularly with the concept of national branding, specifically the national branding of America through the reality television show Worlds Apart. This branding is achieved through "the fetishistic construction of national identity through specific image-signs". On the show, Otherness is displayed through the stark and binary differences between the Americans and their host families. American nationalism is represented through these families as they physically (literally going to these Third-World countries) and metaphorically (the impact of their American ideologies in the country) "invade" the country they go to. It is also relevant to note that the selection process of these American families has an impact on the representation of America in the show, as there are many forms of exclusion (class, homosexuals, etc.). Although the American families on these shows are shown creating connections with their "primitive" host families, they still retain their American identities, often wishing to assimilate their hosts into an American lifestyle as if it would improve them. This demonstrates the American idea that while close connections with your family and community may be important, what is ultimately of value is the "privileged lifestyle that allows [...] cultural consumption". Similar to the concept of "eating the Other", the goal of this show is about the Americans "re-discovering their identity by assimilating Otherness".

A summarizing quote which resonated me was "What this dialogue implies is that a family-of-nations is possible if America goes to other places and makes 'personal' contact (albeit through its cultural products and mass media, or even military occupation). It suggests that, if other nations see and 'know' the American people through such an exchange, unequal as it may be, they will realize that Americans are really well meaning [...] Accepting this argument means buying into the underlying assumption that American cultural imperialism is a necessary diplomatic exercise to correct misunderstandings about America and Americans" (588).

Maybe the reason why there are so many "misunderstandings" about Americans is BECAUSE our country feels the need to constantly insert itself into the affairs of other countries.

Roy-Blog

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Roy argues that the national Geographic channel promotes natural hierarchy of nations, and the US being superior to other countries. He also argues that the NAT GEO portrays other countries (especially third world countries) in an inaccurate and the people as subordinates in comparison to the US. The national branding strategy is a product of hegemony and creates a common vision that the USA is at the top of the food chain, while all other countries aspire to be like ours. This article reminded me of my experience living in Costa Rica, it was the first time I had traveled outside of the US and I had always viewed my country as better than all of the others and for some reason assumed all other countries wanted to be as successful as mine. Living in Costa Rica, I had the chance to meet people from a lot of different countries and realized that not all countries were envious of the US and started to realize this attitude/view of national hierarchy was really only evident in the states. It makes sense that if one country wants to have their views dominant within globalization then, they first need to convince the people of that country that A) the views they currently have are better than other countries and B) that their country is better than all the others.

Blog Post- World's Apart

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In the article "World's Apart: Nation Branding on the National Geographic Channel" author Ishita Sinha Roy criticizes the show World's Apart, and by extension the National Geographic Channel, for creating depictions of other countries through frames as opposed to windows. American programming is fueled by fetishism and commodification of people and products, and now this trend has extended to other nations and how they are sold to US buyers. While audiences may have said that they wanted shows that would inform them to the world around them, what they are seeing is in fact a commodification of Third World societies. For instance, in World's Apart the foreign villages or towns that the American contestants visit are at times fabricated or include English speakers from a larger city in order to insure better communication. I find it rather appalling that this type of programming is so widely renowned by viewers and is seen as a proper reflection of different cultures when, in reality, it is merely a reflection of these nations through an American scope. Once again, our nation's branding strategies have set us up to be seen as the "superior space" and creating a false sense of community.

Worlds Apart DQ

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I have never seen "World's Apart" but I cannot imagine that I would like it. My major question is, "Do you think it benefits the US to market itself to other countries as a country fixing its problems more than it benefits the US to market at home?" In other words, should we get our own citizens on board with what our "brand" is before we start marketing that to other countries? Another question is, "What kind of benefit is there by having a TV show that depicts us as 'ignorant'?" Do you think it's us trying to show our own citizens that it's bad to be ignorant about other countries, or do you think it's us ignorantly trying to be cultural imperialists (by pushing our ideas onto others)?

Blog post-Roy Worlds Apart

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Prior to reading this article I did not know that a program such as Worlds Apart existed. Though the premise of the show is interesting and the intentions may have been good, this program seems to be somewhat problematic. The first issue is the representation of what is the normal American family. Though we like to think we are a nation that celebrates diversity, clearly through the families chosen there is a gap in what is "normal" in America and what America truly is. As stated by Roy, these families had to be able to take time off to travel for two weeks, have health insurance and children. Though there are many families in America that differ from this dynamic, this is what was chosen to market America. There are families of homosexual couples with children that probably fit this requirement but not chosen. Also, there are people that were not even considered such as those without insurance, single people, with or without children, same sex couples, or people that are close minded (as it is understandable that they may not participate as it is against their beliefs or acceptance level). Second, the areas chosen for the Worlds Apart invasion were not very developed as far as technology, business, etc. and made the United States seem so much more civilized than these other countries. There was no depictions of European countries or of more urban environments. This is problematic because a lot of the world is just as industrialized as the United States. Third, there was this idea that everyone was very similar and had things in common because family is what is important, however this notion was contradicted by the American families as they were so happy to return home to their material goods. If family was all that mattered, then these material goods and luxuries shouldnt have been such a speaking point. And finally, the fact that NGC wouldn't send an African American family to Africa or an Asian American family to Asia and so on, is ridiculous. This is an issue because they are using America as the norm and these foreign countries as the Other and it would not be distinguishable enough to tell who was American and who was the other. Overall, this article was enjoyable and eye opening as Americans like to believe that we are the center of the universe and know so much about other places when in actuality we are blind to the opportunities and positive aspects of other countries.

DQ: Roy

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While I think the article was very in keeping with my thoughts about the greatness of Nat Geo, it brought up an analytical lens I hadn't had about such programming before. Is it possible that there is a sense of commodification in showing third world countries and other places of the world, when looking at them in a television media point of view?

Discussion Question- Sinha Roy

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Roy discusses how the National Geographic channel is uses as a window to the world, through showing different areas and exposing people to different cultures. What other media outlets are there, if any, that expose the public to cultures other than their own? How does National Geographic do a good job of this, and where does it struggle?

Nat Geo DQ

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Nation Branding brought up fantastic points concerning how America is the 'inspirational model' for developing countries to become industrialized. In the middle of the article the author states, "Third world poverty translates into a sign of real freedom and spirituality that transcends the material crassness of the developed world..." I thought this was especially noteworthy because America has always portrayed an image of being 'the-most-free' country in the world, yet our society becomes un-free due to our materialistic-ness. Is there a way to gain this level of 'third world freedom' while maintaining all of our material goods and wealth?

Roy DQ

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Worlds Apart and other shows, trying to give the American audience a taste of a new, "exotic" culture, that come out of America, really do provide an ideological hierarchy to ingrain power over counties that have less. Roy, interestingly, gives a re-examination of the fetish used as a tool for both nation branding and cultural imperialism. This entails the exploration of ideological space used in Worlds Apart to acknowledge a faulty, produced culture that third-world countries captivate. Yet, the show muddles the racial identities of other countries and disconnects our culture from their own making it easier to hide the historical oppression seen in American history itself.

What if these shows never aired, would that not create a basis that would provide people to create even more ignorant depictions of other country's cultures and people?

Couldn't this be an attempt to create an appreciation for what Americans take for granted?

Couldn't we film a show in the U.S. that captivate the vast poverty and horrid economical strife right here at home, isn't that a part of our (actual) culture?

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