Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Archive for November, 2016

Final blog post – Nov. 17

Posted by cliffordpaulparsoniiiesq on November 28, 2016

As I reach the end of this course, I’m reflecting on how hugely my readings have shaped my outlook on the media and pop culture. There are so many things that can tie into an area of study like this, that it’s hard not to be engaged and have fun.

The book addressed a lot of concepts and explained them through vivid examples. There’s enough pop culture tidbits buried throughout that I think I could win a random trivia challenge with hands tied behind my back! (Yes, I realize that wouldn’t hinder my ability to answer oral questions, but the point still stands).

This class has given me the rare opportunity for my curriculum to update in real time. I got to see videos, tweets and essays that will be old news as early as next semester. It’s amazing to think that next semester’s class will have a completely different experience than I did. They’ll be dealing with new events, new people, new memes, new viral songs, new apps… The list goes on! Next semester’s discussions will be radically different in terms of content, but they’ll still focus on how all pop culture ties together.

The concepts I’ve learned in Spreadable Media will affect how I look at my social media feeds every day. I feel like everything will spark a memory of a specific chapter in the text. Can anybody say the same thing about their math textbook?

Overall, I’m thrilled to be part of such a great pop culture program, and I look forward to seeing the department grow in years to come!


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Rappers and politics – Nov. 15

Posted by cliffordpaulparsoniiiesq on November 28, 2016

How can it be a surprise for rap music, in this day and age, to cross over into politics as much as it does?

This presidential election was the first time I really saw Twitter at the forefront (Even then, it was really just one candidate). But it was a multimedia event in a lot of other ways too. Every election cycle, you see celebrities join in on the conversation. However, there are some issues that come up when entertainers get involved in politics (And I don’t just mean when they run for office. And actually win.)

I’ve seen a lot of Trump supporters criticize Jay Z and Beyonce for their support of the Democratic campaign. They argue that their profane lyrics and provocative dancing don’t reflect well on them as authorities on right and wrong.

Those same time of arguments came up after Trump’s notorious “Grab ‘em by the…” tape leaked. Plenty of people wondered why people would a problem when a presidential candidate uses foul language when it’s okay for rappers to do it.

Obviously, I think we should all hold the president to higher moral standards than a rapper. But then again, who knows? There’s talk of Kanye running in 2020…

In all seriousness though, I think politics and the entertainment industry should go on some casual dates but never go all the way (Pardon my sex analogy). We may be turned off by Beyonce’s lewd dancing and therefore not trust her to influence our voting activity. But in the end, it’s not Beyonce we’d be voting for. (But again, WHO THE HELL KNOWS?!).

Ted Nugent’s got a pretty foul mouth too, by the way… Just sayin’ (*Sips tea*)

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From Weird to Wide – Nov. 10

Posted by cliffordpaulparsoniiiesq on November 28, 2016

The Kenyan superhero Makmende is a perfect illustration of how a meme can stay tied to its culture of origin if it isn’t legitimized. It’s amazing that a viral sensation can get remarks from both GQ and Esquire, but still be dismissed by the “meme elite” (I guess you could call them that?)

Know Your Meme messed up big time by not accepting an entry for the Kenyan sensation. Like the article says, they were looking in all the wrong places. The Makmende memes were coming from sources outside of the reach of the average Google search. But they WERE there, and they WERE popular enough to earn those aforementioned shout-outs from magazines.

I obvious thin Know Your Meme did meme culture a disservice by not doing its research properly. Still, it’s crazy to think that such a website, one dedicated to explaining memes to noobs everywhere, would be regarded as the genuine article of meme literacy.

What kind of attitude is it to say “If it’s not on Know Your Meme, it isn’t real”? It goes against everything people believe in and love about memes. Memes don’t need verification from the media. If they did, then those pictures of Kermit the Frog sipping tea would need to be adopted into the Jim Henson canon, pronto!

Know Your Meme’s faux pas highlights something interesting: even though memes can take a lot of foreign ideas and concentrate them into one palatable language, they still have a bureaucracy to them. It’s sad but true. I bet it’s only a matter of time before Disney buys the rights to every meme ever and adopts them into their own cinematic universe! (Which would admittedly be pretty awesome… ‘Scumbag Steve and Condescending Wonka: Civil War,’ anyone?)

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Pro-wrestling (Nov. 3)

Posted by cliffordpaulparsoniiiesq on November 28, 2016

I seem to have a slew of pro wrestling fans on my Facebook feed, and one of the sources I consistently see links from is a page called “It’s Still Real to Us, Dammit.”

The title says it all: Wrestling fans are nothing if not self-aware. They acknowledge that the characters they see at SuperSlam are just that: characters. But they don’t care. They enjoy every minute of the choreographed, pre-scripted action.

…and after all, WHY IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND PURE IN THIS EVER-LOVING UNIVERSE shouldn’t they? The state of being “real” or “genuine” should never be a precedent for subjective enjoyment. If that was true, then how would the newest Star Wars movie have managed to sell all those tickets? I mean, a robot that rolls around and makes beeping noises? A sword made out of red light? That didn’t happen; gimme a break!

Okay, maybe I’m oversimplifying things with the whole Star Wars analogy. Unlike the Millennium Falcon and the Kessel Run, the events of pro wrestling could, in theory, be real. Think about it: It’s set in a packed arena where two people are beating the living snot out of each other. It’s kinda like boxing, right? So it’s easy for someone just tuning it to a pro wrestling match to assume it’s a real-life event, the same way someone reading a satirical Onion article might think it’s real until they grasp the proper context behind it.

That really is the key here: context. If you were to ask Roger Ebert to judge WrestleMania using the same scorecard he used for Apocalypse Now, you’d be in for downward-facing thumbs galore. But where’s the fun in critically analyzing two guys in short shorts twisting each other’s limbs’ off? How about you just check your brain at the door and appreciate it for what it is?

It doesn’t get much more “real” than that, does it?

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The Swedish Model – Nov. 1

Posted by cliffordpaulparsoniiiesq on November 27, 2016

Sweden always seems to come up when we discuss business models in the music industry. The article talks a great deal about Sweden’s rich pop music heritage. (There’s a lot more than just ABBA, by the way, but they’re a good starting point!)

However, most central to Sweden’s music industry is its reliance on new, bohemian business models. I had never heard of the Swedish indie labels who release their material legally on the Pirate Bay. But it doesn’t surprise me one bit.

Sweden sees the potential in peer-to-peer file sharing while other cultures see it as a stigma. P2P is such a big deal in Swedish culture that a few years ago, a group of file sharers formed their own religion (Kopimism), which believes that sharing digital files is a fundamental, God-given right.

This article will probably stir a discussion as to why this unique business practice doesn’t exist in the U.S. On that point, I’d like to point out that it’s not like we haven’t tried. Remember Napster? Okay, admittedly I don’t, but I’ve seen the documentaries. There were actually a number of artists who used Napster to legally promote their music. One of Napster’s most famous success stories is that of Dispatch, a band that argues owes their career to Fanning, Parker and company.

Napster, obviously, was too unstable from a legal standpoint. But still, it could have been an excellent tool for the industry, had its creators been able to work out a business model with the labels.

Sweden obviously faces some of the same issues with The Pirate Bay. What’s amazing, though, is how the Pirate Bay has been around much longer than Napster ever was. Also, it has endured under a government that I imagine is a lot more strict than America’s when it comes to this sort of thing.

What is Sweden doing that we aren’t? I was wrong to think they were only good at mass-producing mom-friendly furniture. Please Sweden, teach us lowly Americans the ways of the Force!

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Fold project nov. 17

Posted by Ian Baumgardner on November 27, 2016


The fold project was my favorite so far. As I have stated in previous posts I enjoy listening to music. Music is good because certain music can get put you in a certain mood. Music is also a universal way to bring people together. It has the ability to recall memories and bring back emotion. Music is very powerful. If I want to relax I will listen to Ratatat. If I want to get pumped up I will listen to AC/DC. Everyone has their go-to music for whatever occasion they are in if that is getting ready to go for the night to making the drive back home from college.

Fold was my favorite project because for two reasons its ease of use and the content. Fold allowed the user to type out back story and exposition. It also allowed the user to explain what type of music they tend to listen to. It typed out almost like a word document. With a simple click the user could link the reader to YouTube videos about that particular artists. It could also link news articles such as articles from the Rolling Stone magazine and biography relating to the artist in question. It allows the readers to jump in to other people shoes so to say. By simply clicking the artist name, the reader can learn all about that artist. The reader might be able to understand why the original writer liked that musician so much. Because I like music and that was the main focus of our project it would make sense I enjoyed this project.

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Joss Whedon

Posted by drewowen44 on November 27, 2016

November 1 make up blog post

reading this is another example of how active audiences play a role in tv shows. active audiences keep the show airing for a lot longer versus audiences that are not active. For example Joss Whedon has attracted loyal and active fans which later paid off for him selling DVD/videos. Also we have talked about spreadable media all semester long and this article gives another example of this talking about how his audiences that watch his shows recruit other people into watching his shows and that pays off for him. Reading about the show Dr. Horrible was interesting to find that Whedon recorded the entire series in under six days and under a budget of $250,000 thats pretty unheard of anymore and dont see how he managed to do that. sounds like the show Dr. Horrible was kind of made on the run and didnt expect to get as many fans and attention as he did, but never a bad thing. To me reading this article and all the other articles we have read and talked about over the course of this semester is the importance of getting your audience actively engaged as we called it is a big key into having tv shows air for a long time. That then transitions to the spreadable media aspect and how your fans will tell other people about the show they watch and get them to watch as well.

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Wikipedia and Responsible Circulation – Oct. 27

Posted by cliffordpaulparsoniiiesq on November 27, 2016

Wikipedia is about as ingrained in our Internet culture as Google. In fact, I get noticeably frustrated when I google a term and the Wikipedia article for it doesn’t show up immediately (You mean I actually have to scroll down the page? What is this, the dang ‘70s?).

I’ve heard anti-Wikipedia sentiments echoed throughout my education. The standard argument tends to be “because anyone can edit it, it’s not a reliable source.” I’ve always thought that notion was just sheer paranoia. What kind of sadist would sabotage a kid’s science project by adding Nazi propaganda to the “inertia” page on Wikipedia?

Okay, maybe that’s an extreme example that obviously wouldn’t happen, but still. Wikipedia is more than just a big forum like reddit or 4chan. It’s a corporation, run by experts who know what they’re doing. I know for a fact that if a blatant untruth appears on a Wikipedia article, it’s usually detected right away.

Overall, Wikipedia is influential in legitimizing our role as circulators. Yes, it’s true that anyone can edit Wikipedia, and that is one huge responsibility. For a lot of people, I bet their entire knowledge of spelunking/the Kremlin/Kevin Spacey/what-have-you comes from the Wikipedia page for those topics.

We didn’t create the information on Wikipedia (at least I should hope not). But the ability for anyone to add information creates a whole new base of potential knowledge. It’s almost unfair that so much of Wikipedia requires citations, because why should we have to cite an expert when someone else might have some interesting information?

I went to the same high school as Nicolas Sparks’ son. As a result, I’ve met Nicolas Sparks, and I know some interesting things about him that are not on his Wikipedia page. If I added them, I’d probably get shut down by a bot of some sort, since I wouldn’t have any sources to cite. But it would still be true information. See what I mean?

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Violence and Video Games – Oct. 20

Posted by cliffordpaulparsoniiiesq on November 27, 2016

I feel like there’s a meme out there, somewhere, suggesting that “I’m a gamer” is a good way to ruin a first date.

Let’s face it, gamers as a culture might not recover from the Gamergate fiasco, at least not anytime soon. Sure, gamers will always be a community, with their own unique languages and culture. But for outsiders, gaming culture may always have a negative connotation, based on the mainstream light shed on it by Gamergate.

But even with Gamergate aside, video game fans have come under fire for their hobbies for years. Every time a school shooting happens, they talk about how popular shooter-based games are. Critics have always seen such games as normalizing violent behavior by having kids control the on-screen character.

These allegations aren’t baseless. It’s easy to believe that kids might sympathize with the characters in violent games. Even though they’re fictional characters, they offer gamers the ability to control their actions and behavior. In the case of first-person shooter games, the player is seeing things from the character’s point of view, in the most literal sense possible.

When the topic of video games and violence gets raised, there are some arguments that you always hear no matter what. One of them is “Playing Monopoly doesn’t make me an economist, so why would Grand Theft Auto make me a carjacker?” This is one of the more obvious claims to make, but definitely a compelling one that makes you stop and think. However, it’s important to note that morals are not analogous to skills. It takes years of education and study to become a good economist. It’s something people set out to do. Meanwhile, it’s pretty much ingrained in us from birth that killing people is wrong.

Therefore, the point about Monopoly would be a stronger argument if economics was something we inundated our kids with instinctively (Don’t get me wrong – I certainly wouldn’t want my kids to miss out on the unadulterated joy that is Ben Stein’s voice).

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Pokemon Go – Oct. 18

Posted by cliffordpaulparsoniiiesq on November 27, 2016

Talk about something that just pops up overnight….

Maybe it didn’t really, but how should I know? I was never a Pokemon fan, outside of some brilliant YouTube Poops. I didn’t even hear about Pokemon Go until the week it came out, and when I saw the title, I figured it must be some handheld video game that I know fans get excited about.

Pokemon Go came out on a Friday. By that Sunday, and this is true; I distinctly remember it, it was highlighted on ABC News’ nightly show. David Muir (I think he was on that night) spoke about the Pokemon Go craze the way you’d talk about something that’s been happening for months. There were already so many viral stories of kids’ adventures (and misadventures) while living out their childhood dream of catching Pokemon.

If the sheer speed at which the craze escalated weren’t amazing enough, what really blew me away was how everyone was into Pokemon Go. People who I knew, for a fact, had never watched the show. People who had never played any video games at all, let alone Pokemon games, were out and about collecting cute digital creatures.

I honestly can’t think of any other franchise that’s managed to reach so many fans outside of its core following, let alone with only one product. It’d be like if Star Trek, a series with a clearly defined fanbase, suddenly came out with an interactive game that immediately had everyone in the world speaking Klingon!

When it comes to spreadibility in media, I can’t deny that Pokemon Go is the very best, like no one ever was.

(Obvious joke quota = met)

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