WKU POP 201

Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Archive for April, 2015

Sukoshi con in the Media

Posted by Kacie Jones on April 30, 2015

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Hello everyone!

I just wanted to let you guys know in case anyone is interested, Friday, May 8th WBKO midday news is going to do a little advertisement/promo for Sukoshicon that weekend and the President of the convention has invited cosplayers and fans to join us at 10:30 Friday morning to be apart of the news segment. The more people the better, right now it’s just 3 of the conventions guests that are going to be doing it.

The convention itself is May 8-10th and if you pre-regester before May 5th it is only $35 for the whole weekend. Sukoshicon is not technically an anime convention so no need to be interested in that. It is listed as a Social convention, which means it is a mix of a bunch of different things, Celebrities, anime, cosplay, video games, tabletop games, LARP, american TV shows, music and dancing just to name a few things off the top of my head.

There will be main events, artists, vendors, music performances, dances and a cosplay contest.

Hope to see some of you there, and please spread the word if you know anyone who would be interested. The more coverage this gets the better chance we have of coming back next year with more to offer.

Facebook event – https://www.facebook.com/events/742162065814461/ 

Pre-registration – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sukoshi-con-bowling-green-ky-3-day-pre-reg-tickets-12647315461?ref=ecount

Official website – http://sukoshicon.com/bowlinggreen_news.html

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ISIS Extra Credit Blog

Posted by willwalters441 on April 29, 2015

I attended the Pop Culture Studies-presented roundtable discussion on ISIS early today, and found it very informative. What interested me the most with regards to this class was Dr. Ford’s discussion on ISIS’s use of branding. Often in class, it’s come up how not only do marketers have to come up with a holistic, overarching image for a brand, but we as users of social media must also brand ourselves for various reasons. For example, if we want to achieve some notoriety online, or don’t want to be hampered by social media accounts when applying for a job or the like, we must be conscious of the image that our social media accounts put forward. It’s almost funny to imagine a terrorist cell being slave to these very same considerations, but that is exactly what is happening with ISIS. For one thing, their frequent name changes show a desire to update that representation of themselves with regard to their standing within the Middle East and on a global scale, with these names being changed to the consideration that their declaration of the group’s ambition must be balanced with their current state, hence the changing declarations of where the Islamic State actually is. Another thing I noted was the branding used by the official social media accounts whose message was carried through non-official accounts. It’s an interesting dilemma for them to face: on the one hand, they want their message to be spread to as many people as possible, but on the other hand, the more people spread it, the more mutated and diluted their message becomes, hurting their image and their legitimacy.

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Isis: A Review

Posted by KennEy2011 on April 29, 2015

I went to a session on Isis and it was very enlightening on the crisis that is Isis. I did not know that the United States had a played a role in giving Isis weapons when the Iraq War ended. The United States had left weapons that were not destroyed and not taken back to the United States for reasons unknown. I was shocked to learn that, but it is not uncommon for these mistakes to happen. I hope that diplomatic talks can be done with Isis but it seems like a dream out of reach. I don’t believe in fighting in order to settle things, I think peaceful talks with out any hostilities is good. I know peace talks won’t happen, but it would help to have someone from the other side to discuss matters. Apparently, one of the leaders is extremely disliked, but everyone refuses to get him out of power. They say the government would get worse if he left, and that may be the case. However, it might need to get worse before it gets better. I think it might be a good way for the government and its people to work together. That may work too! The government and its people working together to solve a problem!!! Who would of thought?

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Late Registration

Posted by djhonestave on April 28, 2015

I remember when I was in middle school during the summer before 8th grade it was my birthday and all I could think about getting that Kanye West album that had came out that year. When I was in middle school it was still cool to actually have albums. I didn’t actually get the album on my birthday like I thought I was but a week later I had went on a date with my then girlfriend and she had surprised me with the album. This was the album that made me into the Kanye West fan that I am now. It had great influence on all the music I listen to now and it was the first album I could really relate to because he had a similar middle class background like me growing up. It had so many hits on this album. This is the album “Gold Digger” was on which was his biggest hit at the time and propelled him into superstar status.

This was his second album he released and he had a lot of expectations on him to have a great album because he was seen as next up after the critical acclaim he had gained from his first album College Dropout. Late Registration was released August 30, 2005. Like I previously mentioned it had a ton of hits on this album like “Gold Digger” which featured comedian/actor/singer Jamie Foxx, a person he had previously collaborated with on another one his hit singles on his first album “Slow Jamz”. As the title says this song was about gold diggers or women who seem to only mess with men that have money. It was one of his biggest hits to date.

Another single off this album that I really loved was the first song on the album “Heard Em Say” which featured Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine. I enjoyed this song because of the video he had released that was for the song was inspiring to me. In the video Kanye played this homeless guy that lived in a collection of cardboard boxes with his family. It was raining and there box house had gotten ruined so the were looking for a place to stay warm and Adam Levine who played a security guard at Macy’s had opened the door up for them to come in and stay warm. Throughout the video Kanye and his kids get in to different shenanigans in the store and some magical stuff happens like a bed turning in to a car and a dining table display magically having food appear on the plates.

One of the last singles from this album I want to discuss is the first one that was released in anticipation of the album which was Diamonds from Sierra Leone. The song features a sample from the song “Diamond Are Forever” sung by Shirley Bassey from the James Bond movie of the same name. This song was meant to bring attention to the diamond mines in the African country Sierra Leone and the tragedy that have occurred over there over diamonds. Diamonds that come from that area are referred to as “Blood Diamonds” because of all the blood that has been spilled in getting these diamonds from the mines. In his video to go along with this song he uses the visuals to describe the horrors that go on in Sierra Leone. In the beginning he has a scene of soldiers forcing children to work in the diamond mines. Then it goes into a close up of one of the children’s face and her eyes turn full black. Throughout the video people who buy these blood diamonds are haunted by these children. In one scene this women get a diamond engagement ring and when she is about to pull her hand back her hand is slowly being covered in blood and she starts freaking out and one of the children from the diamond mine is in the background with a little smirk on his face.

As important as the music was to me the cover was as well. On the cover of the album he had the Dropout Bear that was on the front his College Dropout album on the front in a prep school type of outfit with a dark background walking to through a set of giant double doors that you would probably find at some kind of prestigious college like Harvard or Yale. This was important to me because it was just cool to see that he had a symbol to represent him. This was the first time I had ever been intrigued the flip book of an album. I read all the credits and seen who helped contribute to each song. The album even had a poster that came with that had a picture of the Dropout Bear in his college uniform.

This relates to the book because this is the album that propelled Kanye West from a U.S.  superstar to international superstar. This is the album where he had an international tour. This album became of transtional media because it spread across different countries. Kanye even shot his video for Diamonds from Sierra Leone in Prague in the Czech Republic. It allowed people in different countries to get more familiar with the artist Kanye West. This international exposure allowed to see new things and hear new sounds that would influence him later down the road and be incorporated in different albums. 51kfhkHeMTL

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Artifact: Luke Bryan

Posted by karmstrong94 on April 28, 2015

Thomas Luther “Luke” Bryan. Need I say more? Luke Bryan in recent years has become a pop culture and country music icon. Luke Bryan started his official music career in 2007. Since then he has climbed the ladder of stardom and success. Bryan came from Leesburg, Georgia where he was born and raise. He first started singing when he was 17. Forming a band with a few of his high school buddies he played shows at a beer joint called Skinners.  He attended Georgia Southern University where he met his wife and joined a fraternity. While all of these things may not seem important to most people these are small aspects of his life that helped lead him to the popularity that his has today to being a pop culture icon. Bryan arrived in Nashville in 2001 than six years later, in 2007, his debut album was released. His debut single “All My Friends Say” came out and had a good showing and slowly climbed its way to peaking at number 5 on Hot Country Songs. No other song of his first album at first became well known. With this somewhat lack luster showing for his debut album Bryan and his producers decided to take a different approach to getting the Luke Bryan name out there for people to know and instantly recognize. So, in spring of 2009 Luke and his production company released and EP album titled Spring Break With All My Friends. Why is this relevant to pop culture? Well for the music industry the target market is people between the ages of 18-25. The greatest number of people between these ages are generally in college. And as most of us know spring break is a major event for most of us. So Luke Bryan and his producers deciding to release an album that would be and anthem for college kids during their spring break. Connecting back with his Greek life roots one of the hit songs from that album was titled “Sorority Girl.” Not only was the album released Bryan also went down to where he knew his target audience would be spending their spring break, Panama City Beach. Bryan played shows in PCB introducing people to his music and slowly a fan base started to grow. Luke instantly became huge hit with ladies because of his southern charm, gleaming smile, and let’s not forget those dance moves that feature his amazing butt. luke His butt alone is a pop culture topic a lot of people go to his shows just to see him dance its become a staple in every performance.   Luke is one of the first artists to target his audience and grow and develop his music and sound around what they like and what speaks to them. His sound became more country with hip hop influences by add bass and rhythm to get his fans up and dancing along with him. Not only did his sound of music help propel him to the top of the charts. It also helped that he has several along the way including “Drunk On You”, “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)”, “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”, and “I Don’t Want This Night to End”. Luke and his sound and style helped influence country music and bring it to it prominence and peak that it is currently sitting at across the country. Not only has country music become of the top music genres of the last 5 years Luke Bryan has become one of country music’s’ top artists not just because of his musical success, but because of his fan interaction. Luke finds new and creative ways to connect to his fan. Luke and camp use different social media sites to bring one on one fan interaction to the people. He has used snap chat recently to announce to fans that he has been in the recording studio working on a new album for the fans. He has been the driving force for other country music artists join snap chat and directly connecting with all of their fans on a much more personal level so that fans get to feel like they get to have sneak peek into their lives. luke 2 Luke Bryan constantly updates his Twitter and responds to fans making them feel important and thanking them for getting him to where he is today. Because of all of the fans requesting more from him, Luke released his most successful album yet in 2013, Crash My Party. This album had songs that included “Crash My Party”, “That’s My Kind of Night”, “Drink a Beer”, and most recent successful single “Roller Coaster”.  This album has gone two times platinum in the United States and gone Gold in Canada. He is still on his tour for this album and about to start his next tour Kicking Up Dust in May. Luke constantly sells out shows and even has to have two night stents in cities due to so much interest from his fans. He tries to provide plenty of opportunities for his fans to see him across the country. Luke Bryan is country artist that has found a way to connect to his audience and making his music relevant. He is an artist that is in touch with the current times. By using social media and fan interaction that would be deemed one on one interaction he has been able to find out what the fans like and connect to the most and what they don’t like and their suggestions how to make their experience better when they listen to him or see one of his concerts live. It is interactions like these that makes him a pop culture icon of the time. Many other country music singers and groups can learn from Luke’s example. Some artists like Brett Eldridge and former country artist Taylor Swift all use these methods of interactions to keep up on the changing time and media influence that has on not only world but on the music industry as well. luke 3 luke 4

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Artifact Analysis: #ImNoModelEither

Posted by katiemcleanphoto on April 28, 2015

Growth and discovery don’t constitute the same journey it did for our parents. With an infinite amount of information, opinions, and creative content at our fingertips we can easily find what we’re looking for, but does this lead to clarity? Although Millennials have access to almost any information we may be searching for, it’s easy to get bogged down in the boundless and unrelenting information always being pushed in front of us. Exploring our way through the internet is much like flipping through the pages of a magazine, our eyes and minds don’t linger on anything for too long. Few have the time and energy to delve into every single thing, only when something is truly striking do we take the time to investigate it further. This information overload often leads to a latent interaction with internet content so it’s a special experience when a pop culture text catches your attention and resonates with you.

Recently, body image, body positivity, and diverse body representation has been a trending topic within pop culture. From Megan Trainor’s “All About That Base” to the Victoria Secret’s “Perfect Body” campaign to Lane Bryant’s “I’m No Angel” campaign to Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, body image has been brought to the forefront of social consciousness. Within the overarching theme of body image their are a million different messages and it’s hard to wade through the minutia. There are so many different messages surrounding the issue that it’s easy to be sucked in and lose your footing. The crux of the issue is that people are sick and tired being told what “beautiful” is, they’re done with the subliminal messages telling them their value is measured by their pant size, and over being shamed for their appearance.

A popular culture artifact that I have stumbled upon that, for me, cuts through the mixed messages with a sharp blade and lends clarity to the situation is an Instagram account that genuinely, truthfully, and lovingly promotes body-acceptance. The account, run by body-positive social media blogger, humorist, and essayist, Amanda Kate Richards, truly resonated with me and brought a clarity and sensibility to the topic that I had long been searching for. I discovered Richards through a hashtag she created in response to a long and detailed series of events surrounding body image in the media, but I will simplify the history as much as possible. A couple weeks ago, plus size retailer, Lane Bryant, launched a campaign centered around the slogan “#ImNoAngel” featuring plus size models sporting Lane Bryant’s new lingerie collection. The campaign seemed to be a direct dig at Victoria Secret, a company that has been criticized in the past for promoting damaging body-image campaigns featuring exclusively petite models. The message Lane Bryant meant to send with the campaign and the collection was that “sexy comes in many shapes and sizes” and their goal was to fight the Western beauty standard and “redefine sexy”. In these ways, the campaign had noble intentions but many woman, including Richards, were unimpressed by the execution of the campaign. “After looking at the photos for awhile, I realized that all those gorgeous models were relatively the same size and shape, and that in some of the photos, their bodies were configured to hide their tummies,” Richards says. Ultimately, it’s a great step in the right direction that Lane Bryant and other retailers, such as Dove, are contributing to the conversation of body-acceptance and that they are challenging the current “beauty standard” but they’re continuing to pigeon-hole “beauty” if they aren’t featuring a truly diverse range of models. The on-going discord is that the beauty standard doesn’t need to be redefined, it needs to abolished. There should be no “standard”. All women possess beauty and it’s about celebrating the diversity rather than putting any one body type down. Plus size fashion designer and owner of “Cult of California” clothing line, Jen Wilder, chimed in on the Lane Bryant campaign saying, “Taking down other women in order to represent your brand does nothing but turn me off. I think the whole plus industry and Lane Bryant would do well to get their own view points to sell their merchandise instead of co-opting outdated mind sets of body comparison and in general “othering” people in order to prove the your brand/style/body is worthy.” This is the crux of Richard’s message, which has gained a momentum and spreadability through the hashtag “#ImNoModelEither”, is that all women should be valued, all women possess beauty, and that all shapes, sizes, and colors should be represented in the media. Every person deserves to be represented, deserves to feel seen, and stretch marks or a disability or belly fat or ethnicity should not be barriers of representation. Picket signs have been replaced with hashtags in our brave, new, digital age and Richard’s message has resonated with many women resulting in a diverse range of women posting photos of themselves in lingerie with the hashtag “ImNoModelEither” in tow. It’s incredible to watch this body-acceptance revolution unfold in the form of hashtags and Instagram posts. “#ImNoModelEither” is representative of an important, complex, even revolutionary idea, challenging a long-standing societal norm. Even more intriguing, is that social media has become the battlegrounds for engaging with this complex issue. Ideas are colliding, people are debating, and a conversation is occurring among the masses that could reshape the way society thinks about beauty and it’s all happening in the same place people post “Grumpy Cat” memes.

https://instagram.com/amandakater/

http://www.lanebryant.com/content.jsp?pageName=redefine-sexy

Beauty ideals are always evolving, changing, taking new form; cyclically and predictably running throughout history with an ebb and flow. Every culture in every era has held a beauty ideal, could a hashtag like “ImNoModelEither” transform the role of beauty within human consciousness? Could a hashtag really create a paradigm shift in the way humans interact with the abstract and complex idea of beauty? Could this be the spark of a more sophisticated way of seeing? If everyone is represented evenly in media, and no specific appearance is put on a pedestal or displayed more prominently, will the “standard” dissolve? I’m interested to see how these ideas are played out in social media and excited about what kind of collective cerebral evolution can take place when virtually everyone can have a voice in the conversation.

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Artifact Analysis//YouTuber//KathleenLights

Posted by paigemedlin191 on April 28, 2015

Finding one specific thing to focus on for this project proved a daunting task. I couldn’t pick a single movie or even a single album to focus on because honestly we would be here all day. I decided to go with something that I feel most people are familiar with. YouTube. More specifically I am focusing on one of my favorite YouTubers. Her name Is Kathleen Fuentes, aka KathleenLights. She is a “beauty guru” as they say.

KathleenLights

Kathleen’s channel has various kinds of content, anything from tutorials to monthly favorites to more serious topics like anxiety. This may seem a little far fetched but I have watched her for over a year and she honestly feels like a friend. Through media outlets like YouTube, producers are allowed to communicate and interact with the consumers or viewers. Thank you social media for being so prominent.

Before this specific video I already loved Kathleen. She gives honest opinions on products and doesn’t sugar coat much. I value her opinion on products and her recommendations are always good. Her spirit is so genuine and she just has a great vibe. Her videos always make me smile and keep me entertained. But the video she posted on anxiety hit home with me.

Anxiety is something that affects me everyday. Over the last year or so, I have been dealing with anxiety. Sometimes it comes in waves and sometimes it hides away. But it is there and it is very real. It is something that I have to work at everyday to deal with. When Kathleen posted this video, I immediately felt closer to her. The video is so personal and so intimate. She opened up about her struggles and her life to a bunch of people that she has never met before. But through media like YouTube she now has a platform to reach out to people that might need advice or just someone to relate to. She does that and really connects with her audience in this video and in such a positive way. Through this video she let all of her viewers see a piece of her that they otherwise wouldn’t know. It was raw and vulnerable. She shared a message that personally helped me and I’m positive it helped others. Because of the way media spreads this message and video will continue to affect people every time it is shared.

YouTube opens so many doors for the people who have channels and produce content. Kathleen started making videos in her home a couple years ago and because her channel has gained popularity she has been contacted by various companies to review products or collaborate with them. She just recently did a collaboration with Colourpop Cosmetics and made an eyeshadow quad and she has been sent “PR samples” form companies to give her opinion on their products. Kathleen is known to give honest opinions, good or bad, and I for one trust every review.

After getting to know more about Kathleen’s story, I personally became more invested in her as a person and not just as a fellow beauty lover. She continued to get more and more interactions from companies wanting her to try their products or be a part of a collaboration or event. I began routing for her in the business setting. She became involved with all of these things and has kept her subscribers in the loop through her current videos. Through the spreadability of her channel she has been noticed by these companies and so many opportunities are happening for her and it is so awesome to watch!

YouTube, in my opinion, is one of the more personal mediums of social media. It’s one of the closet ways to be face-to-face without actually being face-to-face. Although the producer of the content can’t necessarily see the reactions of the viewers, YouTube allows the viewers to comment, like, and share the videos. This lets the YouTuber interact with the following of viewers they have. People like Kathleen can share stories and random things that spreads by word of mouth and other forms of social media.

The channel KathleenLights on YouTube currently has 839,638 subscribers and 45,059,365 views. If that isn’t spreadable media, then I don’t know what is. Kathleen also uses Twitter and Instagram to interact with her subscribers and post things other than videos.

I look forward to see where else YouTube takes Kathleen. I have enjoyed watching her videos and to watch her accomplish all of these things is so cool. It is crazy to think that I am a part of it. She makes the videos and she produces the content but I am the viewer. My views count and are part of why she has been so successful. Social media is so neat and complex. But to think about how it spreads and how it causes people to interact is truly amazing. Sites like YouTube, Instagram, Twitter or Vine won’t be going anywhere any time soon.

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Artifact Presentation: Mac Miller and the idea of an “Indie Rapper”

Posted by kaleechism2018 on April 28, 2015

As soon as the artifact presentation was mentioned, I knew exactly who I was going to do mine on: Mac Miller. I do not come off as the type of person who would be into his type of music, but Mac Miller has been my favorite artist for over four years. I can remember the first song I ever heard by him: All I Want Is You in March of 2011. Ever since then I have been borderline obsessed with him.

I know you said in class not to discuss a certain artists as a whole, so I am going to focus on how he has gone about expanding his branding as a “indie rapper.” Mac Miller classifies himself as an “indie rapper” due to his underground beginnings. There are many more indie rappers that you would not expect to classify under this genre: A$AP Rocky, Tyler the Creator, Chance the Rapper, and Childish Gambino just to name a few. He started rapping as young as he can remember, and he continued unsigned for many years until 2010. In 2010 he signed with Rostrum Records, an indie record label in Pittsberg, Pennsylvinia.

So what exactly makes someone an indie artists? One big part of this is their sound that they produce. Starting off, Miller had a very indie, “produced in my basement” type of sound. This constists of less altered- sounding music, and usually features only his voice unless otherwise specified, but as he grew in popularity his type of sound changed as well. There are indie versions of genres for almost every type of music from indie sunshine pop to indie rock, but indie rap is one that is seldom looked at. According to http://www.baeblemusic.com/ the main thing that establishes indie hip- hop from mainstream hip- hop is the artist’s aesthetic. Baeblemusic.com states that there are three main sections that every indie rapper has in common: 1. They must have an origin story, 2. They have to relate back to a gold- age of hip- hop and 3. They must have “a genuine sense of motivation.”

Relating all of these back to Miller, he has probably one of the most classic origin stories. He was found though the internet, though his Soundcloud, Facebook, and MySpace origins. Without the internet, where would most of the music industry be today? Referring back to lessons we’ve learned throughout the year, the internet is the main input source for the music industry, specifically the indie genre. Artists often use the internet not just to be discovered and promote their music, but also to interact with their fans. Miller still uses his social media in order to connect with their fans. Whether it’s responding to tweets about his music, or quoting fans just for a fun surprise, he is constantly using his social media in order to connect with fans and make them feel like they know each other on a more personal level. Another thing I have observed about Miller and his social media is he is often also engaging in media conversations with other celebrities. I think this gives him a different perspective to many of his followers that he has actual friends too, not just fans that he interacts with. It gives his social media a more “famous” look in a way as well, because if you are seeing someone like Drake tweet him back a lot of Drake’s followers are going to wonder who he is and look more into his music.

The second aspect, relating back to a gold- age of hip- hop is one I couldn’t really relate back to him. The hip- hop industry has been dominated, especially in the past, by a certain “gangster- thug” stereotype, and Mac Miller and his generation of music are the first I can even think of that break this stereotype, aside from the R. Kelly generation of rap meets R&B. That’s another thing I believe the indie genre brings to mind: a majority of the artists are a lot more personable, whether it be on the internet or “in person” accounts that you hear about. For example, indie artists are much more likely to respond back to you on the internet and to be friendly in person than the ultra- famous celebrity. One reason behind this is WE the audience are the ones who make a person famous and decides what is popular in media and what is not, and indie artist are much more relient on us as a whole. In the indie field, your music usually only gets produced when there is a large increase interest besides the usual 300- views you get on your mixtape. In order to get this increase in attention, indie artists often rely on us through the platform of social media to tweet, Facebook, and Instagram about their music to show the rise in attention, giving a majority of the power to us. They rely on us to make them famous, so they often “give back” to us by acknowledging us through the internet when the opportunity is given.

The “genuine sense of motivation” is one that I think all indie artists can relate too. Indie artists have a much harder time gaining recognition and work their way from the ground up, usually with no help except from that of the audience. The have to be motivated in order to succeed, and they have to try ten times harder than those with an advantage above them. If you are attempting to be an indie artists but lack the motivation, it is not going to happen. Motivation is key. Miller worked as an artists promoting his own music since he was 13 and didn’t sign for many years later, which was the result of a lot of motivation. He was so motivated that at age 17 he decided to devote his life to music, and becoming the artist he is today was what he has strived to do for many years.

Something else about the indie genre that I would like to touch upon is the change of music style that is often seen in indie rap today. Miller for example has changed his music style drastically in the past 3 years. It has went from mellow, laid- back hip- hop to harsh, intense, in- your- face rap. This has made him lost a lot of the original fans he had, but has also allowed him to gain a new audience that was not interested in his old laid- back style. Indie artist are much more likely to change their sound because for them gaining the fans is just as much of a concern as keeping them. Indie artists are often notorious for being “one- hit- wonders” and it is not uncommon to hear of a record label getting them and then dropping an artists as soon as they lose their audience. This is a main concern of original listeners, because you never know when their sound is going to change, and what they will become.

Mac Miller is one of my all- time favorite artist, and I hop that this has helped you gain a deeper insight to what it means to be considered an “indie” artists, all the different people that go into making someone an indie artists, and how this all relates back to Mac Miller.

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Artifact Analysis: Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff

Posted by willwalters441 on April 28, 2015

Something that’s interested me for a while is how archetypes of media are spread between individual creators, and how they are altered by this spread. The problem, though, with analyzing this sort of trend, is that a style must be traced back to its origins and followed throughout its development in order for its full life cycle to be entirely understood. With that in mind, I will hold off introducing the subject of my analysis until its predecessors are introduced.

The first piece of background necessary is an explanation of the webcomic. A comic strip is a pretty easy form to comprehend: a series of panels comprising several cartoon images. It has a draw in its simplicity in that if someone is a particularly good writer or artist, one talent can compensate for the other, though neither need be very good to begin with. The problem is that writing an actual comic strip is rarely lucrative. With this limitation, the internet became a popular place to post amateur comics, leading to the birth of the webcomic medium.

One early webcomic is called Penny Arcade, and it is notable for being one of the first whose subject was video games and gamer culture, a topic that resonated heavily with the usual demographic of the internet. Early in its run, it was drawn in a very crude style that developed over time.

PA1 PA2

The eventual popularity of this comic created a new genre of webcomic: the “two gamers” comic. Notable features of this type of comic include two gamers who are ostensibly friends but who often antagonize each other. The art is often crude, and the dialogue is even cruder (both in the sense that there are numerous sexual references and that the dialogue is itself often poorly written, with many abuses of “Dude…” etc.). As an example of some of the worst aspects of these sorts of knockoffs, below is a strip from the webcomic Ctrl + Alt + Del.

cad

Note once again the horrendous art and dialogue, to say nothing of the misogynistic overtones you can read into it, as well as the fact that it’s just not funny. While this is a particularly bad example, the quality of “two gamers” comics was never incredibly high, and they became sort of a way out for a lazy artist who wanted to make some kind of cash in and didn’t want to come up with their own idea.

In March of 2009, a thread was created on the Penny Arcade forums which started with someone asking for criticism on their own two gamers comic that they posted at its start. One panel of it is included below.

htrockband2

It should go without saying that it is clearly pretty bad. While the art in the ones above weren’t especially good, in this it is absolutely abysmal. Note the deformed character faces, the solid colors with no shading, the horrible sound effect, shoehorned video game reference, etc. Also, the dialogue, if it can even be called that, was clearly created with no effort. Actually, the whole comic was created with no effort, since its creator included in the original post the statement that, “i was inspired to start drawing my own based on the generally humorous shit that happens when myself and my friend hang out and play games. [sic]” Which translates to that he was too lazy to come up with an idea so he just drew what happens in his free time. Understandably, the comic drew much criticism, and the artist responded very poorly, flaming the other participants in the discussion.

After a page and a half of the thread, Andrew Hussie, known for his series of webcomics under the name MS Paint Adventures, and who was working on the comic Problem Sleuth at the time, posts his own comic, entitled Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff (SBaHJ) to parody the one posted. When the original poster responds by likening the comic to a nightmare he’s glad is over, Hussie responds with a second comic.

sweetbroandhellajeff sweetbroandhellajeff2

We see in these comics parodies of many of the worst cliches found in two gamers comics. First, of course, is the art style. The designs of both Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff are derived heavily from those in the previous comic, with the worst features exaggerated heavily: deformed expressions, vague body shapes, and poorly emotive expressions. As well, the art in general is of an almost impossible quality, with not only an incredible misuse of anatomy (see Hella Jeff’s lower body in the fourth panel of the stairs comic), but also jpeg artifacting highly prevalent in the art (the pixels visible when a low quality image is displayed at a higher resolution than it is meant to be). The dialogue is unnatural and stilted elevated to an art form, with incredible overuse of ellipses, capital letters, and repetition. Hussie also parodies the use of gamer lingo heavily, going so far as to even name one of the characters Bro. The crude sexual humor, as well, finds parody in the absolute tastelessness of the humor in the first comic.

And yet, beyond all of this, Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff cannot be regarded as just a parody webcomic. Its absolutely surreal dialogue is intended as a parody of the kind of language typically used in this form of comic, and yet in its dissimilarity to actual speech it is strangely memorable, almost poetic. The lines all have a strange sort of rhythm to them, like Sweet Bro’s line in panel three of the stairs comic, “I warned you about stairs bro!!!! I told you dog!” The art, as well, has a strange aesthetic to it that cannot be fully dismissed as a parody of awful art, like this comic from later in SBaHJ’s run, after it became a fully-fledged comic hosted on its own site. (It’s too long to post reasonably here, so it is only linked: http://www.mspaintadventures.com/sweetbroandhellajeff/archive/027.jpg )

To conclude, Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff is the product of years of refinement of a genre that passed through the hands of many people. It is an example of, through mass spreading, the ability of a concept to mutate and take on many forms, and also its propensity to be exploited and parody. It is also an example of how even a work that uses these tropes to make fun of the originals can promote their spread and further alteration through effective use.

As a final note on SBaHJ, I’ll include a facetious comment from Andrew Hussie on the subject of the creation of SBaHJ and its relation to other works: “In fact create is the wrong word. What I’ve done here is destroy. I’m destroying art and the artist in myself.”

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Artifact: Ghost in the Stalls

Posted by sharaelder617 on April 28, 2015

It was only right for me to do my artifact analysis over my one true love, YouTube. But having to narrow down my favorite video and one that I felt would be great to analyze was a daunting task. Olan Rogers is a YouTuber who has created several videos of him telling hilarious encounters with his impeccable story telling skills, a long with various other sketch comedy videos and other various series. I was introduced to his videos by a friend with Ghost in the Stalls and I’ve been a fan ever since. Olan is the type of YouTuber that it’s probably impossible not to like. He has a lot going for him but I’m going to discuss one video in particular and explain why it’s a great example to help explain some of the things that I’ve leaned this semester.

Olan’s video, “Ghost in the Stalls” has over 10 million views on YouTube. In the video he tells a story about him being in a Target bathroom and someone else coming in and because it’s a Monday and he has nothing else to do, he starts to mess with him and hilarity ensues. Clearly this video of his in particular was spread far and wide, therefore it could be considered viral. This video in general was spreadable. It had a convenient location on the internet and was easy to share with others on other social media. It was relatively short video so it kept people’s attention. It was reusable hence the memes that were able to come from it. It could be relevant to many things just because it was a silly story that was easy to talk about it daily conversation. As I mentioned, a result of the popularity a meme was even generated out of it among other things. The meme being the image at the top of this post showing Olan himself and a quote from the video, “It’s a Monday.” Along with the meme Olan has been able to capitalize on the video and phrase by making shirts as well that he sells both online and in his store in Nashville, The Soda Parlor. Olan’s ability to create something that was spreadable and to be able to take his channel to another level is a testament to the fact that putting effort into what you do will help you succeed.

YouTube in general has always been a medium of social media that I’ve loved more than the others since I was in middle school. YouTube in my opinion is more personal than any other social media because it’s generally a person talking to a camera or sketch that has to have more planning and thought put into it than a tweet or a Facebook status. I think that this personal connection that can be made with YouTubers and the amount of effort that has to be put forth is a reason why it has become so popular.

Olan using his story telling skills to create videos where he can share stories from his life, in this case a funny story from a bathroom, that get millions of views is a great example of spreadable media. YouTube in general is a great way to create spreadable media because how it has the ability to go viral.

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