May 1, 2007

Observing Coffman

I am in Coffman on a weekly basis but this time I paid more attention to what others were doing, rather than on focusing on what I need to do there. I chose to observe the upstairs area you first see when you go through the main doors. One thing I noticed was that at the time we went it wasn’t as crowded as I was expecting. That meant that everyone was fairly spread out and there were plenty of open chairs. There were a few groups or pairs of people who were talking to each other but otherwise it seemed like everyone was on their own. In the beginning of the semester we talked about technology in relation to culture. Most of the people that I observed were on lap tops, listing to music, or talking on cell phones. Technology was obviously a part of the students’ daily lives. Those who were not on computers were usually reading some sort of book or textbook. It seemed as if the area was just an extended academic setting because everyone looked hard at work. Those who were walking through Coffman, on the other hand, seemed to be in hurry. It felt as though either people were using their time between classes to do homework, or they were in a hurry to get to their next class. Overall it felt like a relaxed setting where everyone was just doing their own thing. The clothing was casual and it was a pretty quiet environment. As far as culture goes, I definitely felt like I was among college students. People are eating meals at 3:00 in the afternoon while also trying to study. Most people were around the same age and dressed in similar fashions. The people in the area were also acting in about the same way. They were all respectful of the others around them. So, even if they were maybe talking to someone, it was quiet enough for those around them to continue working.

April 23, 2007

View of a City

I am from a suburb so in class I wrote about a city from the perspective of someone who lives in a suburb. Here is what I wrote:
The city is a very busy place. The houses are close together and there are a lot of apartment buildings. The city also consists of a lot of large buildings and non-residential areas. These non-residential areas offer more space for sporting events or concerts. There is more traffic in a city and public transportation is something that is widely used. Along with public transportation, a lot of people can be seen walking or biking. It is easier to get places in a city without a car. There are less parks and green areas in a city and more buildings and people. There is also more noise in a city.
I think what I wrote about are some of the stereotypes that people see in cities when they live elsewhere. For example, cities are usually viewed as very busy places with lots of things always going on. Dealing with more traffic goes along with the fact that there are simply more people living in city. I also talked about how there are fewer parks in a city, but I think that can depend on where exactly you are. I think some cities do try to keep parks as part of the environment. As we discussed in class, the issue of transportation varies greatly based on where you live. I thought it seems easier to get places downtown mostly due to the availability of public transportation. You could get to a lot places without needing a car. Where I grew up there were plenty of sidewalks to get around on but they would only get you to a select few places. You might make it to a park, pool, and possibly a grocery store. Otherwise, the suburb was too big and it really wasn’t safe to go very far without a car. I don’t remember feeling very limited by this because my parents, or my friends parents, were usually willing to drive me places.

April 9, 2007

Advertising and People of Color

I thought this article, “Advertising and People of Color?, brought up some interesting things that I had never really considered. I had never even thought about the fact that there could be, or was, racism in advertising. Maybe this is due to exactly what we talked about in class. Maybe I am just immune to the ideas that are presented to me, so I don’t really think too deeply into them when I see them. Although I’d like to think that is not possible, I certainly think it could have something to do with it. Along with this idea is the idea that maybe the advertising companies really are not trying to bring race into the picture in the first place. I agree with the discussion in class that the ultimate goal of advertising is to get the public to buy a product. That being said, their focus would be on selling a product to everyone and not on using race in a negative way. Although race may enter the picture, it is not necessarily intentional.
Another thing that we talked about in class was whether advertising is used to change our stereotypes and views, or whether it is used to reinforce what we already believe. I think it is used to reinforce what we already believe because that is the only way these potentially racist stereotypes would be able to succeed in an advertisement. If the advertisements are truly using racism, it would have to be views people already hold or their products would not sell. I don’t think it is possible to completely change someone’s belief or moral values from an ad. As the article stated, what was shown to the white majority were ads that were considered ‘palatable’. That meant they were things that the whites were able to accept. Since they were able to accept the ideas, they would be more willing to listen to the advertisers and possibly even purchase the product at hand. I believe that if these ads where not initially acceptable, it would have been really hard to gain any supporters from it.

April 3, 2007

Construction of the Female Self

The reading about the Disney movies and the way they portray their female characters was not something I had really thought about before. I found it interesting how they examined five Disney movies but did not come up with the same conclusion for each one. It seemed as if the article wanted the reader to think Disney movies portrayed women as having no power, and in the end they need some male to save the day. On the other hand, the article provided examples like Beauty and the Beast and especially Pocahontas that start to go against that view. They describe Pocahontas as a “bold stroke for a Disney heroine? based on the choices she is given and her sense of self. In Beauty and the Beast, they talk about how Belle risked herself to save to save her father. That shows that she didn’t need that male figure for support but she was actually supporting a male figure.
I enjoyed our class discussion about Disney. Since we decided the target age for these films was somewhere between the ages of three and twelve, I think it was important for us to discuss what messages the viewers get out of the movies. I agree that many viewers are too young to get any deep messages about gender roles. I think they simply don’t understand enough yet for the messages to affect them. However, most children do have the capabilities to model the behavior of those they come to admire. So that makes it hard to tell when a child is modeling the behavior of someone they look up to or if they are behaving in a way they think is appropriate for their gender. I also agree that we can’t just accuse Disney movies as portraying women in this way. There are plenty of movies made for adults that do the same thing and it is up to the viewer to decide what they think about it.

March 27, 2007

In Living Color

I thought our class discussion about inferential racism was very interesting. It is something that I had not really thought about before we read and discussed the topic in class. I also thought it was interesting how it was difficult for our group to come up with examples for this particular type of racism. We realized that it almost should be hard because it is a type of racism that it almost considered ‘natural’, which would make it harder to pick up on specific issues. One racial belief that we came up with is that “white? people can’t dance. Going along with that issue was also that belief that “white? people aren’t supposed to listen to hip hop music. I do think that both of those issues are things that just come naturally to our thinking, and when you see something that goes against those views you tend to question it. It is as if these are the expected ways and if you go against them you may not fit in. We also talked a little bit about sports. We discussed how people who are “black? tend to be more athletic and better in some sports. The sports we thought this view was most evident were basketball and track. Going along with the sports theme is that there are some sports that are almost considered “white sports?. We specifically talked about the sports of hockey and swimming. One thing that the reading brought up was the view that all Asians look alike. I also agree that this is a racism that is naturally thought of by people of a non-Asian race. It just shows that we don’t pay enough attention to all of the various Asian cultures by looking more closely at their food, dress, or language, which can all be very different from each other. Overall, I think popular culture only adds to our inferential racist thoughts and that we have to be very careful about the way we view others.

March 8, 2007

People Like Us

I thought this documentary was a very interesting way of looking at class. It gave an interesting view as to how people view those who are in another class whether it is higher or lower than theirs. One part that I found particularly interesting was when they were talking with different students that go to the same high school. The teachers pointed out how the students had nicer cars than they did, but the students who had these cars really did not think much of it. It seemed as if they just assumed all kids should get nice cars from their parents, and they didn’t get these cars then they really didn’t fit in. Like we talked about in class, I thought it was interesting how they showed certain clips of the students without giving much commentary on what they were saying. I think it caused the viewer to really think about what the person was saying and relate it to the rest of the topic. It did this because you didn’t really know why they were saying what they were, but the clips they showed really portrayed the students in a certain light. They also talked a lot about cliques and how strong they were in their school. I went to a large high school with a graduating class of around 800, and I feel that the cliques were less strong than what I saw in the documentary. Cliques naturally exist but I felt like the groups associated with each other more, and there weren’t such strong divisions. This could be that way because there are so many people in the school, so everyone really has a place that they fit in and people that they can relate to. I do agree with the fact that these cliques can be formed early on. These kids could just have more in common as far as interests so that is how they get to know each other in the first place. Then, if their parents know each other it furthers the friendship. Money can then come in to play because things like clothes and cars are considered. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that although money does play a large role in who people are friends with, there can also be other factors that are involved.

February 27, 2007

Class Depictions

I think that the depictions of class in film and television play a large role in how people view those from other classes than their own. In general, I feel that television shows and film tend to portray the middle and upper classes in a better light that the lower class. Being lower class is something that is looked down upon. These portrayals and depictions cause those of a lower class to feel inferior and unsuccessful. It is basically as if they a play a “lesser? role in society. That “lower class? person is always striving for more so they can be happy in their lives and liked by others. In turn, the portrayals and depictions cause those from the middle and upper classes to view themselves more highly than those in a lower class. They feel superior to those of a lower class and then may express this feeling by treating others with a sort of disrespect. This treatment then furthers the stereotypes from television and film even more. One example that I thought showed this lack of acceptance of the lower class was in the movie The Notebook. This movie focuses on a relationship between a high-class girl and a low-class boy. The girl’s parents and her family do not accept the boy because of is class even though the girl really shows that she likes him. At a gathering of many people her parents even ask him how much money he makes. They put him in an uncomfortable and even shameful position. The parents try to find their daughter someone who is more “well off? thus showing that this is a necessary trait to have. I feel the examples in this movie clearly show that is believed by society to be much more desirable if you are of a higher class status. With the stereotypes about class being continually reinforced in television and film, I think it is very hard for the public to change or make their own opinions about them.

February 13, 2007

Facing the Facts

I thought the article “Facing the Facts of Bigotry? was very interesting. The first line in it, “I’m racist. And so are you.? was a very bold way to start the article. It was a statement that really made me want to read on. I agree that each person has preconceptions about other people that are usually just kept suppressed. One may feel guilty about having these feelings but they still try to ignore them. I also thought it was interesting how they talked about what could happen when such feelings are suppressed for too long. They gave examples like what happened with celebrities saying things publicly that they shouldn’t have. I very much agree that the actions of these celebrities were not okay in any way but it may be hard to change the way we think. I really liked the line, “We can, however, acknowledge that those thoughts cross our minds and control the ways we act on them.? I agree that these thoughts will always be on people’s minds but the important thing is to keep these thoughts in check. These thoughts are also not limited to race but things like age and gender as well.
I enjoyed reading the student paper by Archana Mehta. I thought it was very interesting how she talked about the way homosexuals are portrayed on television. The ratings for the show Ellen dropped significantly after they incorporated a gay person into the show and portrayed them in a realistic manner. However, the fate of Friends was not the same when they incorporated two lesbian women into the show. This was because they did show them in a realistic manner and they were made fun of by the other characters of the show. I think this comparison is interesting because in a sense it shows how the general public views or viewed homosexuals. If the show didn’t portray a certain group the way the public wanted, it failed. I think this is exactly what leads to television shows using stereotypes for their characters.

February 6, 2007

"Cop Out?"

I found the writing about the song “Cop Killer? to be very interesting. I hadn’t really heard about the issue before so it was pretty unfamiliar to me. One particular thing that stood out to me was when they talked about putting a white voice of authority to the song by Ice-T. I thought it was interesting that the song was thought of to have a new or different meaning depending on who was saying the lyrics. They mentioned how Ice-T thought of rap as being a sort of “verbal combat?. To him, it just seemed natural to rap about a subject that may anger or upset him or those around him. That would not necessarily mean he wants to commit acts of violence or that he would want anyone else to. However, someone else could view it as him telling people to actually go out and commit a crime. This subject all goes back to how people view things. Everyone could have their opinion on the piece and interpret its meaning in a different way.
Another topic I found particularly interesting was when they talked about how the meaning of the lyrics could change or be influenced when certain lines are taken out. I can definitely see how this could be the case when the context of the entire song is not considered. It was said that the lyrics to the entire song were never actually printed. I feel this could have a huge effect as to how the general public would view it. If they only read a certain part of the song without reading it in full, it could really change how they view it. There was one particular verse that was reprinted more than any other. I feel that would only be done for one reason. That reason would be that they were obviously trying to get across a certain feeling that would most likely be felt through those lyrics. It would be hard to truly understand the meaning of the song if you only had certain parts of it to examine.

January 30, 2007

"Shitty First Drafts"

I thought this was a very interesting article that made me look at writing in a new way. I know that I always have trouble with writing, especially getting it started. It was nice to know that even good writers have to go through many drafts before they get to that final product. I think it is important to look try to look at the first draft as the “child’s draft?. If you look at it that way it could make it easier to just get your thoughts down on paper and then worry about grammar and structure at a later point in the writing process. I also think you have to realize that the paper might change if not a little, but completely, throughout the writing process.
I thought the personal story about writing food reviews was very interesting. I thought it was interesting how she had a very specific way about writing the articles. It was a two day process that usually went the same way each time. Each time was concerned with getting that final product, but she managed to do it every time. I think that shows that even if it seems very difficult to write a paper or anything for that matter, it can turn out good if you really work at it.
The article was very reassuring for me. I liked hearing that your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. It can even be very different from the final product. All of that is okay. The important thing is getting down all of your ideas on the subject, even making it a lot longer than you want. I thought that was a good idea as well because then you can go back and take out a lot of things, leaving your best ideas for the final product. Overall I really liked reading this article because it gave me a new perspective on the writing process.

January 23, 2007

"Ways of Seeing"

I thought this piece of reading was very interesting. It brought up many issues about art that I had never really thought about before. The first thing that stuck me was the quote on page 466, “The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe?. I agree with this statement. I think that any person could look at one particular thing, but each person could interpret it in so many different ways. Someone who is more educated could look at something in a very different way from someone who is not simply because they may have more background on a particular subject.
Another thing that I found interesting about the reading was the discussion about the invention of the camera. I agree that after the invention of the camera, the way was viewed changed significantly. When a certain work of art is reproduced it just loses something. For example, when a painting is viewed on TV in your own home you would see it differently than if you were in a museum looking at the only copy of it. I also think it is interesting how the meaning of a particular painting can change if a photograph is taken of only part of the painting. Without those other surrounding elements, we view the image in a different way.
When words are added to an image it changes the way we look at it. I thought the example of Vincent van Gogh’s painting “Wheatfield Crows? was very good. When you first look at the image you set your own mood for the painting and what you think it is describing. Then, you turn the page and there is one line of text below it that could completely change the way you look at the same picture. I think words change a person’s view of a piece of art because it almost forces you to feel one certain way about it. If you knew someone painting something right before they killed themselves you would probably look at that painting in a different light than if you knew they were at a very happy point in their lives.
Overall I thought the reading was a very interesting way to see the ways people’s view of art has changed over time especially after the invention of the camera.