Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Archive for May, 2015

Final Project: Con-cast

Posted by willwalters441 on May 8, 2015

http://arielmoore42303.wix.com/con-cast  –  link to Con-cast homepage

The goal of this project and the website it produced was to satirize the ways in which companies view and correspond with their audience (in this case, their customers): with a view to exploiting them, rather than interacting with them. We used as inspiration for this the story behind a website mentioned in the book, “Comcast Must Die,” which collected stories from customers who had negative experiences with the customer service provided by Comcast. We also tied this in with a demonstrated trend in how companies interact with their audience in that they often attempt to manipulate participatory culture to their benefit, unprepared for the backlash such manufactured participation can bring when customers either get wise to the manipulation or use it for purposes not anticipated by the company. This is shown in several examples where companies had complaints brought against their Twitter pages by prominent community members and where the companies attempted to use antiquated methods to deal with these complaints, not realizing the damage that disparaging comments can do when presented in such a public forum.

We constructed this project aiming to parody and critique this paradoxical attitude held by many companies towards interacting with customers in a spreadable format. They want to foster a participatory culture with their user base, but only if they are in control of the net message that it yields. This is a difficulty faced by many businesses in a modern market, primarily because the idea of harnessing a participatory culture is a contradiction in terms. For this participation to be natural and productive, companies must relinquish control of the discussion. This is demonstrated in our project in that the comments made by customers are contained on a page within the company’s larger website. This carries the double purpose of streamlining our project and eliminating the need for additional pages, while also demonstrating the attitudes detailed above. Though the company attempts to move towards a social web presence, they clearly have not prepared themselves for the kind of backlash that is so elegantly laid out in the ‘Customer Reviews’ section of the website. Among the comments, most relevant is the one claiming that the author’s earlier comment was deleted. This indicates the paradoxical viewpoint outlined above: the desire to control something that by definition is not controlled. It’s not hard, either, to imagine that within a few days (or whenever someone at Con-cast decides to check the page) these comments might all be deleted, effectively shutting down the customer participation that the company was trying to allow for. Given more time, we might also see another common practice not represented in the current state of the website: paid positive reviews.

The actual parody of the site works in that it represents in an admittedly harsh light what one might imagine actual companies to be like behind their doubletalk and promotional messages, as is common to other parody videos we have viewed throughout the semester that provided inspiration for the project, such as “This Is a Generic Brand Video”. The site itself features a slideshow of stock photos that were chosen intentionally to give a vague image of the company. They are of a fairly low quality, and consist of images with no context, such as what looks to be a customer service representative, two children using a computer that you might imagine would use Con-cast internet, and my personal favorite, a smart phone being held under a graph that connects the word “Business” and pie charts, along with other business-like illustrations. Moving down to the rest of the homepage, these sections are what members of the group imagine corporate marketing talk really means when it comes from a company like this one. The negative, sometimes belligerent descriptions are a cynical view of the contrast between how companies market themselves and how they actually behave. When participants realize that a company isn’t behaving genuinely, they begin to suspect that their participation is also not genuine, and thus are more likely to react negatively to the business. The humor in our parody lies in confirming this suspicion on the part of many customers and participants of these companies (as well as in creating fictional managers naive enough to miss the sarcasm of the front page’s testimony). On the subject of the company’s executives, they were written intentionally to seem as out of touch as possible, precipitating the skewed views of participatory culture that cause the mistakes seen on this website. It is taken a step further, as well, in implying that some of the managers make these mistakes on purpose to anger or damage the community.

The ‘Con-tract’ is another source for parody of the malevolent company, dipping at the end even into biblical language to forbid users from doing such things as questioning additional fees, and even forcing them to swear their allegiance to Con-cast. However, it is worth noting that this webpage would have been available to people before they had Con-cast (unless they somehow ordered cable without having internet), meaning that had they read the page, they would’ve been aware of these egregious terms of use, among other things. As many of us know, though, real contracts are very long and hard to read, and as such are often ignored. Which raises the question: if a company like Con-cast tells you they ask for a “personal sacrifice” to switch providers, can you blame them when they act on it? In that case, probably yes, but in a more realistic situation, the line of blame doesn’t fall so clearly. It’s an interesting and fruitful discussion as to who is at fault in this kind of situation, whether it be the company that acts to harm its customer, or the customer who did not prevent their being taken advantage of.

The design of the website itself was intended to mimic that of a company who had hired a competent website designer to make their website appear professional without adding much substance, as illustrated by the fancy buttons that lead nowhere. Our original idea was to make a website that looked as bare-bones as possible, like a company had thrown something together to just have a webpage up. We decided against this because we felt that it spoke more to the current state of businesses to have a page that valued very heavily its outward appearance but couldn’t care less about the actual substance of those pages, just as it seems that many times companies will put far more effort into creating a positive brand image than they do into making sure that the company lives up to that image. Our project, in summary, is much the opposite of this: on the surface it seems a sarcastic dig at a fictitious company, but its elements provoke discussion of many relevant and harmful contemporary business practices.


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Semester Project: Freaks and Geeks

Posted by blakeanderson000 on May 8, 2015

POP 201 Completed Group Project

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Denki Toku

Posted by djhonestave on May 8, 2015

When we thought of what we wanted to do for our group project we all thought why not make our own manga/anime series since we all have a strong interest in that. We all combined elements of our favorite anime such as: Naruto, Dragonball Z, and Tokyo Ghoul. We figured this would relate to the class because earlier in the semester we had talked about how with the internet and social media things from different cultures and countries are beginning to spread a lot faster because of this accessibility to the internet. Anime and Manga are cartoons and comics that are apart of the Japanese culture and over the last 15 years they have gotten really popular in the U.S. due to the exposure of them on the internet. To help facilitate our project we created a facebook fan page that way we could get more people involved and allow them to interact. We post the plot of our show/comic and we created pictures for each of our characters and gave them a bio and introduction post on the page. This is like when we talked earlier in class how fans used to social media to communicate with other fans which built the fanbase for the particular media. It even in some cases the fans got the shows back on the air after they had been cancelled like how the show Twin Peaks is coming back on the air for six more episodes. By doing this project we tried to incorporate all this in to it and make it the best possible product.

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Denki Toku Fan Page

Posted by djhonestave on May 8, 2015


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Reality Show Site

Posted by tylerburton230 on May 8, 2015

Here is the website for the project done by Tyler, Nora, Christian, Shara, and Natalie.


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Curation Project Redo

Posted by karmstrong94 on May 5, 2015

So as the last chapter of the book comes to an end I wanted to take the chance to look back on out original topic on how and why media spreads. I personally believe that media spreads because people want to share their ideas and thoughts and things that find interesting with other people. People don’t get on social media and do nothing. They get on social media to share and view what is going on. This looks back on the topic of lurking that we discussed forever ago in the book. There are some people that “social media stock” other people, but the most part people are on Facebook, Instagram, twitter, and Snapchat to share with others. Now I want to look out how media is shared. Most people know that a lot of different posts get shared everyday whether it be through retweets, sharing, and reposts. This brings up and example spreading media that occurred here on Westerns campus. Last year during Greek week one the fraternities Phi Gamma Delta, or as they are regularly known as FIJI, performed The Evolution of Justin Timberlake. So they danced and sang to several Justin Timberlake songs. Not only did this performance bring back songs from Justin’s N*SYNC but they connected them to his songs that he has out today. It made old songs popular again even it was for a week for those of us that experienced it. But the most important thing that came out of their performance was how fast it made its way from being popular at Western and share through posts on Facebook from some of the guys to it being recognized overnight by websites like Total Sorority Move, Total Frat Move, Pinterest, and even few websites wrote posts about their dance. It made its way from radio stations in Connecticut (http://www.kc101.com/onair/cam-52269/frat-boys-pay-tribute-to-justin-12246829/) to Chicago (http://b96.cbslocal.com/2014/04/16/watch-frat-boys-dance-the-evolution-of-justin-timberlake/) and more. On the Total Sorority Move website the video got 605 likes compared to the 160 likes on the Total Frat move website. WKU’s FIJI posted on twitter 5 days after their performance was posted that they already had 25,000 views on YouTube. () To date it has 62,423 views and 614 likes on YouTube. The spread ability of this video not just across our campus but across the country as well shows it can be transnational in its form and the way it is presented. People find it to be entertaining the guys are really good dancers so that really helps. If they were bad then it wouldn’t have gotten all the attention that it did right away. This shows how and why media spreads. It relies on people to find something that they like report or share it thus causing it to spread whether it be across Western’s campus, across the country, or even across the world. This is how and why media spreads.

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Extra Credit Post: Curren$y Concert

Posted by atgee24 on May 5, 2015

A couple weeks ago I went back to my hometown, Louisville, Kentucky, to see one of my favorite rappers named Curren$y. I was super excited to see him live because I’ve been listening to Curren$y since like 7th grade and I’d never really had the chance to see him because I was too young to really be going to concerts like that, but now he’s finally on tour again for his new album Pilot Talk 3 and he came to my home city so it was only right that I go to the show. The show was pretty packed and the crowd was very into the show once Curren$y came out. Everyone was singing along with all the words and you could definitely tell Curren$y was having a good time. It’s no secret that Curren$y is very pro-marijuana, you don’t even have to really listen to him to know that, just look up any of his videos or songs, and you’ll figure it out pretty quick, so of course many people were smoking in the venue. Security wasn’t too happy with it, but Curren$y was encouraging the crowd, while still cautioning the crowd that they could maybe get kicked out. He spoke on his views on how it’s harmless and should be legalized during the show as well, which is one of the biggest pinpoints in the news for pop culture in todays age. Curren$y had merchandise for sell at a booth in the venue as well, with plenty t-shirts, posters, and other little items for fans to buy, which is great for spreadability because it allows fans to show off his brand and possibly introduce new people to his music as well as making his fan base grow stronger because they feel like they’re a part of something more by having the merchandise. Curren$y also stayed after his show for a brief moment and brought out a few special tour shirts that he signed on stage and then passed out into the crowd which I thought was really awesome, and that’s definitely a way to grow closer to your fans.

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FINAL PROJECT: Women In The Media

Posted by kaleechism2018 on May 5, 2015

This is the link to mine, Shelby Bruce’s, Paige Medlin’s, and Katie McLean’s final project about women in the media.


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