Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Archive for May, 2013

Term Paper Presentation/Topic

Posted by ardrey821 on May 8, 2013

One of the enduring controversies of the 21st century is the issue of homosexuality.  Many people fervently believe homosexuality to be wrong and a sin.  Others believe, just as strongly, that it is natural and a behavior determined by a genetic predisposition.   Scientists, psychologists, and biology experts continue to search for that irrefutable evidence that supports their theory while priests and religious experts use the Bible and Christian doctrine to support their belief. Ordinary people without all the degrees and religious doctrine are left to formulate their own beliefs.  Why do people believe a certain way on this issue?  Why do some believe that homosexuality is a behavior adopted by “bad” people, a choice made by immoral people while still others believe just as strongly that homosexuality is determined by a genetic predisposition and cannot or should not be “controlled”.  In my essay, I will explore factors that shape beliefs on ethical or social issues most specifically an examination of family and religious agents of socialization that influence the formulation of opinions on homosexuality.

I chose this topic becasue the debate over homosexuality is very relevant, and I was curious to research on why so many individuals perceive homosexuality as a sin and choice, in evertytihng we do, such as watching certain movies that are considered gay/lesbian, or someone being offended when certain gay refrences are brought up in reality television shows etc. I was originally going to do my term paper on how reality televison influences certain behaviors in people to make them become more stereotypical or racist, but I really didin’t have enough information/sources to continue my research. So I was very intigued to find many sholarly sources on the debate over homosexuality in modern society and popular culture.

In preparation for this paper, I asked some of my friends in the Student Identity Outreach organization to talk to me about their sexual identity.  Many of them were very open and sincere about there sexuality. Every student recounted the same story of feeling different and not understanding why.  They told personal stories of how as young as five and six years of age they had feelings and attractions to the same sex.  It was not a learned behavior but something they “knew” from as early as they can remember.  They did not choose to be gay. They also stated that the many negative stereotypes and perceptions were from many individuals who choose not to understand, but are rather influenced by what they hear and see in popular culture. Promoting the perspective that it is a choice often perpetuates judgmental attitudes towards homosexuals. I wanted to switch topics too mainly becasue this debate is very relevant in pop culture discussions today. I also want to get the point across that

We all must accept the fact that homosexuals are a part of us and we must ultimately include them in everyday society. If we do not, a vicious cycle of hate and discrimination continues to repeat. I really believe that by broadening our definition of human rights to include all people will allow us to progress as a nation.


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Term paper topic

Posted by ryannpopp on May 7, 2013

My topic was originally just going to be about Justin bieber and his successful career true youtube, but then I had doubts that I could write ten pages worth of information about that and how he has become a bad influence to his younger fans. I began to think about how I could make it a better and longer topic. What came to mind was how Justin bieber had been getting into drugs, and he’s not the first singer, or actress to do drugs. Drugs are very common in the Hollywood world. The Red Hot Chili Peppers wrote a song calling “Californication” and it explains what goes on and what people get pulled in to.

Other actresses and actors have got pulled in to the drug world such as Lindsey Lohan, and Amanda Bynes. Whether or not they are really abusing drugs, or not, they media will be stretch the truth and it will be all over the news, and the magazine for the world to see. Celebrities are role models to people and al lot of people look up to them and are influenced by them, but celebrities don’t take in to consideration that every movement is criticized.

Justin Bieber isn’t quite that drastic as Lindsey or Amanda but he is on the road to getting a bad reputation because he is hanging out with the wrong crowd. Justin also has a younger crowd, the people who are his biggest fans are those who are preteens, which is how Lindsey and Amanda’s career as actresses started as well.

Amanda was on Nickelodeon with her show The Amanda Show, this is a show that I grew up watching. Once she got older she was still successful in her career she had a show called What I like about You, and was in She’s the Man, and played a smaller role in Easy A. A lot of people noticed her weight gain in the movie Easy A; I think that her weight gain might have pushed her to drugs, because of how people started viewing her.

“These behaviors sound like something more than just attention seeking, and it is unclear to me whether she is suffering from a medical or psychiatric disorder, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” L.A-based addiction specialist Dr. Damon Raskin, told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “She could be having a manic episode which often leads to these eccentric and strange outbursts, bizarre dress and changes in appetite. Many drugs such as methamphetamine, bath salts or even excessive alcohol could make her act this way.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2013/04/08/can-anyone-help-amanda-bynes-bizarre-behavior-gets-even-more-bizarre/#ixzz2Sb6Xfkz4

Lindsey was on Disney Channel in multiple movies that came out whenever I was in middle school; my first Disney movie that I seen with Lindsey Lohan in was The Parent Trap. After seeing a movie with her in it, of course I wanted to watch her other movies that she was in. Lindsey Lohan has been involved with drugs, and has been to rehab for her problems, though she tells reporters that rehab is pointless.

I know that it comes off as dramatic comparing Justin Bieber to Lindsey Lohan and Amanda Bynes, but even if Justin Bieber isn’t as bad as it may seem he will still get a bad reputation from who he hangs out with and the choices he makes. His family has been concerned about his recent activity and hope that this is just a stage.

These aren’t the only celebrities that im going to talk about but the main point that im going to write about now is how the stress and pressure of being famous and what celebrities deal with on a day to day basis can affect them and how they view themselves. I feel like right now the  actions of Justin Bieber are more innocent than Lindsey and Amanda but it’s changing the way people view him as a whole; whenever people/fan hear negative information,  the majority of the time everyone will forget about the positive.

This paper can be about than just drugs, and stress, but it can also be about spreadable media, and about how I heard about the celebrities struggles through twitter, and spreadable media. I just changed my topic tonight, because I started writing and I didn’t think I could fill 10-12 pages without changing the topic. It might sound not all put together, but this is just to gather some of my thoughts.

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An update on my term paper proposal. Just imagine synthesizers and glitter being thrown around the blog for a visual.

Posted by exileontaytayst on May 6, 2013

“Experience the New Wave.”

Several advertisements from music publications in the late Seventies and early Eighties ran promotions with tag lines similar to this one mentioned above. What was the “new wave” of music? The seventies had been defined by the sounds of disco coming out of your mainstream radio speakers. The sound of rhythmic dance beats had ruled the charts and airwaves, and many music listeners had grown tired of the predictably of faux drum beats and high falsettos.
It may be hard to believe, but disco was not the only form of music being made during the decade of shag carpet and Farrah Faucett hair. A genre of music with a drastically different sound was beginning to come out of downtown New York City. A sound of music driven by loud, brash guitars, pounding drums, and snarling front men who sang about taboo topics ranging from sexual frustration to the government, in a way that was unheard of by the general public. This style of music was referred to as Punk.

The 1970’s was a decade which was fueled by change. Women were liberated, presidents and other public figures were being exposed, and the “free love” mentality made popular in the previous decade slowly became eclipsed by conservative political control. New found political ideals were making people restless. The pressure to conform with society and political rule became very tedious and made many people angry, particularly the younger generation, who felt as if they had no voice. These young people wanted to find a match for their frustration, and punk music provided all the answers they needed. Punk rock was a form of rock and roll that was loud and unapologetic. The songs were very short and stripped; the idealism of punk rock was to cultivate something for yourself. Since the establishment was not going to listen to the common man, noise had to be made in order to be heard.

The roots of punk began to cultivate in the mid-Seventies in New York City in a downtown Manhattan club called CBGB’s, ironically standing for “country, bluegrass, blues.” The crop of bands who played at CBGB’s in the early days would later become some of the pioneers of the punk genre and faces of the coming decade. Among them were The Ramones, Talking Heads, and Blondie.

Blondie became noted for having a woman lead singer who was backed by a bunch of men. The women’s liberation movement of the seventies was still occurring, so having a woman take center stage and direct a group of men was a fairly daunting concept. Blondie’s sound was stripped down and muddy like many of the early punk bands they played with at CBGB’s. Blondie’s lead singer, Deborah Harry, was quite different from any of her male punk counterparts. Her striking physical looks gave Blondie an image. Imagery was not a typical factor in punk rock music. The message of punk rock was to destroy the concept of image. While Blondie’s music may have been overshadowed by Deborah’s looks, her looks were the unknown foundation for the music that was to follow punk; a term coined “new wave.”
My term paper is going to focus on Deborah Harry and Blondie, and the influence the band brought to the “NEW WAVE” movement of music that rose to incredible popularity in the eighties. The music in the new wave genre was considered to be lighter than the rough thrashings of punk, with a focus on synthesizers and elements of dance music. Image became a very strong association with the music with the invention of the 24 hour music video MTV in August of 1981. Suddenly, music required a visual element. Blondie was a group that was able to successfully transition from the anti-establishment roots of punk to the ESTABLISHMENT FLASH that the 1980’s thrived on.

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Term Paper Presentation: The Television Housewives

Posted by 90210code on May 6, 2013

     The television housewife has been a fixture of popular culture for decades. There are different portrayals and characters of housewives like Barbara Billingsley’s performance as June Cleaver in the 1950s cult classic, “Leave It To Beaver.” She was the epitome of perfection when it came to how people thought a housewife should be. She cooked, vacuumed in pearls, and always had a snack for Wally and the Beaver after school. Many men in America wanted to marry her and women aspired to be this “perfect housewife.”

         The antithesis of June Cleaver was Roseanne Barr’s performance as Roseanne Conner in the 1980s hit sitcom, “Roseanne.” The Conner’s were the poster family for working class. They were a functioning dysfunctional family on television, and that wasn’t shown much during these times. Roseanne was brash, loud, obnoxious, and labeled herself as a “domestic goddess.” Sometimes their dinners were TV dinners or from cans, the children argued, and the Conner’s marriage was usually hanging on by a thread. Somehow, though, there was still a lot of heart and love that ran as a theme through the show.

         I just wanted to give a couple of examples of housewives before I explained my topic because it’s all about the television housewife. I’ll be delving into two different television shows and relate them with each other. “Desperate Housewives” was a huge popular culture phenomenon when it premiered back in 2004. America was captivated by the ladies of Wisteria Lane and couldn’t get enough for a long time. This was really one of the only primetime soap operas during the millennium. It had all of the drama, hysterics, and campiness of a daytime soap opera. It was television gold.

         Only a couple of years after “Desperate Housewives” premiered, “The Real Housewives of Orange County” premiered on Bravo and thus “The Real Housewives…” franchise was born. The producers for “The Real Housewives” wanted to mold the show after “Desperate Housewives.” All of the women from the cast needed to be somewhat affluent, live in pristine homes, travel in the same social circles, and be well-to-do within their communities. The show wanted to portray them as wives, mothers, and businesswomen. They were “documenting” their lives while they socially interacted with one another.

         I want to compare and contrast the two shows. They are vastly similar, but very different as well. Now that Bravo has created a franchise of the series, each city that is portrayed has their own style. NYC is known for being cosmopolitan and decadent while Beverly Hills is labeled as glitzy and ridden with plastic surgery driven cougars.

         Also, I want to look at the four to five main characters of “Desperate Housewives” and show how each of them are different, but they all possess such great character strengths that make up the “perfect” woman. I’ll do this also with “The Real Housewives” and show how they portray each cast member as a character on the show. All of these women are labeled in some way, shape, form or fashion. 

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My Term Paper

Posted by samanthadeering349 on May 6, 2013

Iran’s Reaction to Argo

I had initially decided to write my term paper on many movies about the Middle East that had come out in recently, but after my research I realized Iran would not only be more interesting, but there was more information about the topic. I have found many books about Iranian Culture, website articles about the exact topic I plan to write my paper on, and I attended a lecture on campus about Iran.

I plan to talk about the nation’s reaction to Argo as well as the ways the people of Iran are viewing the movie. The movie has been deemed “American Propaganda” in the country as well as surrounding countries.

Iran has also hired an infamous lawyer to help them sue Ben Affleck and his movie team. Although, they have not commented more about the subject there is still circumstantial evidence that they are still wanting to do so.

A filmmaker in Iraq also plans to make a movie about a situation similar to the movie. This film is set to come out within the next year.

Generally I would like to talk about how the country accepted American culture and their reaction to the film.

I really wanted to do this topic because I thought the movie was very interesting and I thought it would be a good topic to get a lot of research on. The movie has made a lot of headlines in the media. Firstlady, Michelle Obama, handed out the best Picture Award at the Academy Awards and this created an uproar in the country of Iran. The mvie has had a lot of public scrutiny, not as much as other movies, but it has had enough.

Many other countries were also upset at how they were represented in the movie such as: the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. Originally Canada was not supposed to get that much credit for anything, but filmmakers changed the script to make Canada, essentially, look better to the Us citizens.

I also talk about why the movies became popular and how such movies do become popular.

If you have any suggestions they would be greatly appreciated!

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Flashback! – My Term Paper Presentation

Posted by iamchipcore on May 5, 2013



Video games have always been a part of my life. As a child I found myself running through colorful worlds in Sonic, gobbling up dots in Pac-Man, and jumping on goombas in Mario. Only would it make sense that I would take this semester to truly analyze video games and identify two significantly influential figures in video game culture.


My term paper aims to compare and contrast the impact of both Pac-Man and Sonic The Hedgehog. I will explore how both icons broke media barriers, set standards for future generations of gaming, and provoked a multitude of different imitators. I will also look into how both icons reflect the attitude and culture of the 1980s and 1990s respectively.


Pac-Man was introduced at the beginning of the 1980s, it would only make sense that a character that did nothing but “consume” would ultimately become the most recognizable video game icon in 80s pop culture. Culture in the 1980s proved to be fairly driven by consumption. The advent of home computers, Cabbage Patch Kids, MTV, and Rubik’s Cubes provoked the “you need it, go buy it” mentality much similar to the 1950s. Only would it make sense that a president who campaigned on a platform of bringing America back to the “good old days” would be elected to promote this mentality and aim to develop this consumption attitude into being part of every day culture. Pac-Man may have only had a minor impact upon this cultural shift in the 80s, but clearly the game defines what could be considered a summary of 1980s culture.


While in terms of chronology, the 1990 marked the beginning of the 90s decade, many consider the 90s to begin in 1991 due to the major shifts in culture beginning in that year. This year marked the beginnings of the World Wide Web, the advent of Grunge in the charts, and the introduction of Sonic The Hedgehog. Sonic came into the homes of thousands of Americans during the spring of 1991 and like Pac-Man reflected the unique culture of it’s decade. While Pac-Man reflected a culture driven by consuming, Sonic reflected a culture driven by liberating. Video game enthusiasts and fans alike assure that Dr. Robotnik, Sonic’s nemesis represents industry and captialism. This is evidenced by Robotnik’s goal throughout the series to take over the world and transform it into an industrial utopia ruled by him. Sonic however aims to liberate the forces of Robotnik and restore his world to the peaceful, natural state it once was. The culture in the 1990s reflected many of the same ideas: break away from the consumption culture of the 80s and focus more on caring for each other.


I will also be looking into how both franchises were marketed similarly and how both franchises came with numerous sequels, TV cartoons, comics, and merchandise. I will also explore the similarities in Hanna-Barbera’s Pac-Man cartoon and DiC’s Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog and how both shows had nearly the same writing team.


Both icons also set a standard for video games that followed. Pac-Man marked the advent of the video game mascot, a character that was recognized by the public. Sonic marked the beginning of the wide release game and an expansion of this icon idea.


Imitators were also apparent throughout both character’s life spans with games like Rally X in the days of Pac-Man and games like Bubsy, Rocket Knight Adventures, and Awesome Possum in the days of Sonic.




What do you all think?

What questions do you have?

Do you think I should explore general culture more closely or video game culture?


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My topic- satirizing groups

Posted by erinoestringer on May 3, 2013

For my paper I have decided to look at the satirizing of the Greek community on college campuses. We’ve all seen movies like Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds. There is the role of the elitist group that runs the campus and gets the shoe in from their dad to some job after college, or the group parties their way through college and doesn’t care about their education.Why do we play in to these images? What does that say about our culture? In my paper I discuss how this shows the roles of the villains/under dogs, depending on the portrayal. When Greek organizations are stereotyped as elitist and stuck up, they make a perfect villain. When they are seen as the underdogs (the bottom tier organization on their campus, for example) they become relatable. Since there are these two aspects, and Greeks are not just universally viewed one way, it shows that these satirical media portrayals have much more to do with filling character roles than attempting to show realistic college feuds between the greek and non-greek.

One of the more popular portrayals on Greek culture today comes from TotalFratMove.com. This is a site ran by graduated fraternity and sorority members, meant for undergrad Greeks. The site has branched off into all social media outlets, created clothing lines, books, and is currently making a movie. The image this site portrays is that of the rich and privileged, drunk yet successful. They play up being better than the rest of the universities, having more fun, dating better looking people, and getting better jobs after. The site is also seemingly geared towards the best chapters on campuses. “Bottom Tier” organizations are looked down upon almost as harshly as non-greeks.

The site is often criticized for its portrayals, since that image of Greeks is not completely accurate and not appreciated by many. (Both in-group and out-group alike.) But the site its self describes its self as satirical. Why do its followers play into it? In my paper I discuss that this has much more to do with our culture’s desire for this lifestyle than anyone thinking this is realistic. Who wouldn’t like to rage through college, have excessive amounts of money, be considered the best of the best, and leave college on your yacht to take over your shoe-in job as CEO for the family company? Its ridiculous, unrealistic, and a SATIRE of what Greek culture really is. 

I chose this topic because it has always interested me. I am a member of a sorority, but I am also a first generation college student. I pay for college on my own, I work two jobs, and I am not the sandwich-making stereotype TFM.com makes for sorority women. I wanted to look at where these stereotypes come from and why they have lasted so long. I did NOT want to persecute the Greek stereotype, nor defend Greeks against them. I tried to take an unbiased look at the satirizing of fraternities and sororities, why it has come to be, and what that says about our culture.


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Keeping Up with the Kardashians

Posted by micaelaperkins410 on May 2, 2013

My term paper is all about the Kardashians empire & how they use social media to establish their brand and their credibility as the “ultimate celebrities,” although they aren’t really famous for much other than their father, and now of course their show. Also, I will discuss how their past scandals and tribulations within their family, do not devalue their fame and success, and their fanbase does not lessen due to these scandals, it may even add to their fame and success. 

I will also be discussing how the “celebrity image” is constructed, and how the Kardashians fit in this image as the “ultimate” celebrities. What I do need help on is a couple of things. I first, was going the route of the Kardashian women, and how their role today would never have been allowed due to their scandalous backgrounds. However, that seemed like not a lot to build on. Any ideas what to add to my paper on the Kardashians and how they contribute to pop culture, please let me know!

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Drum Roll Please….bdbdbdbdbdbdbddbdbdbd. Here’s my paper topic

Posted by jelisacc on May 1, 2013

My paper topic is greatly inspired from when Dr. Harkins visited our class and discussed “Hillbilly Culture”. Out of the whole conversation, what caught my attention the most is when a student (I think it was Nathan) mentioned that networks that have stereotypical programs (MTV, VH1, BET, CMT) are all owned by Viacom. I can say I truly learned something new that day.

But anyways, my paper. I am discussing whether or not Black Entertainment Television (BET) reinforces the stereotype, or embraces the Black culture. It is easy to say “They obviously reinforce the stereotype!”, but within my research I have found that this is not exactly the case. BET was once owned by Robert L. Johnson, a Black man. It was actually the first Black owned television. It also surprised me that the first Black owned network, didn’t appear until the mid 80’s. I give a little background information of Johnson and how the idea of BET came about.

To begin my paper, I had to explain what aspects exactly make up “Black culture”. In my paper I define Black Culture in 7 topics: economics, history, psychology, politics, sociology, creative production and religion. This helps give an understanding of how these stereotypes originated and also explains a little how Blacks can be influenced and affected by stereotypes in the media. I am currently taking AFAM 190, and BCOM 201, which looks at the effects of media (there is specifically a chapter on stereotypes), and both books are helping me like crazy.

Johnson eventually sold the network to Viacom, who then removed many of the old programs and added in new ones that were similar to the shows being seen on MTV at the time. This part of my paper will focus on Viacom and its other networks.  I will review the similarities and differences shown on BET pre and post Viacom. It will also go in depth comparing the Viacom owned networks with one another.  I found this awesome DVD in the library that is all about Viacom, its programs, and its views on ethics and specifically the stereotypes it promotes. I’m VERY excited that I found it…just perfect

Next, I will discuss current opinions on BET. I looked through a ton of Youtube videos of people reviewing the network and forums, and picked out a few that I liked that would contribute well with my paper. My paper will include both positive and negative reviews. I will also talk about this episode of “The Boondocks” that is about one of the characters who decides to go on a hunger strike until BET decides to change its programs. It’s good stuff, there’s a link below. (CAUTION: LOTS OF INAPPROPRIATE WORDS)

My last paper will talk about the future of BET. They are aware of the low numbers they are receiving, and are working hard to fix that. BET is creating new original programs and has a few ideas up their sleeve, it’ll be interesting to see the growth of the network. My main goal is to not be one sided. I am not a viewer of the network, because I do believe that it portrays minorities in a negative way, so I’m trying to view it in both perspectives.  

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Short Attention Spans and the Media

Posted by emilybrown840 on May 1, 2013

My paper topic is about how media is causing an increase of short attention spans in the population and how the media is adapting to this change. The media is finding many different ways to catch and keep their audiences attention. One of the many ways they are doing this is with interconnecting social media sites and T.V. shows. With this they can easily keep the audience interested and have it where they aren’t really concentrating on one thing, thus their attention can be switched back and forth- this has the added bonus of also being a type of advertising for their show. Along with this shows have started putting more commercials in to once again not have their audience have to focus on one thing for too long. Social media sites keep their audience by always having something new to look at; they have a continuous amount of information being fed to the consumer so they don’t need to focus on one thing for too long.

These of course are not the only things that need to use tactics to keep the populations interest. Magazines, for example, have started using bullet point list more often so the reader can jump from one thing to another without having to concentrate on one point for too long. Newspapers even have it so that one certain stories will have to be continued on different pages so the reader doesn’t have to spend too much time staring at one page but will have to actively search out the next part. Video games and their advertisements also have started to adapt to the world of short attention spans and have added more options to keep the player entertained and interested in their game -though other argue that video games don’t cause short attention spans but help build them, either way they have to find a way to keep the attention of their consumers.  

My sister happens to be a very good example of a short attention span. She has complained to me many times about how she hates having to watch a specific show on her laptop because it prevents her from being able to browse and watch the show at the same time. She cannot make it through a movie without having her laptop by her side. She has even gotten to the point where she doesn’t even want to go to a movie theater because she would be unable to have another source of entertainment while the movie is playing. One reason why movie theaters are having a harder time gaining costumers happen to be because of people who are unwilling to turn off their phones for the amount of time the movie will be playing. One way movies are starting to fight against this is by having special offers and prizes you can do with your phones before and after the movie to keep the audience interested and feeling as if something else is coming out of them seeing the movie in theaters.

My paper will go into more detail and give more examples of how media is adapting to the short attention spans of today but this is the basic idea for my paper. 

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