BLOG #7 / Option #1

BLOG #7 / Option #1

 

While growing up, I always viewed hackers and cyberpunks how someone who grew up in the mid eighties and early nineties would. To me, hackers were young kids who used their computers to break into email, apply cool effects to your font, and boot users who pissed you off on AOL. After completing these readings, I have learned that my pre disposition about hackers and cyberpunks was extremely off. The original hacker was actually much more than some kid behind a computer. They helped forge the human race into a digital world that had not existed before.

         Hackers are more than just people who use computers. Hackers can pretty much be accredited with creating what we know today as the digital world. These readings highlighted the idea that hackers and cyberpunks immersed themselves in a new and upcoming reality coined as “cyber space” and truly molded it to suit them and push the limits of what people thought were possible. Hackers and cyberpunks are not just a group of people, but rather an entire lifestyle that fully engulfs those who program. This lifestyle was taken up by programing pioneers who found themselves staying up for days on end creating digital utilities from scratch.

         In the history of hackers and cyberpunks, they have gone from creating and manipulating machines, to doing the same with vast systems on the Internet or network. These users are able to apply their knowledge of programing to make the systems or computers work for them, rather than having to work to use the interfaces.

         Many people simply use their computer to look up information on networks and do other day-to-day computer tasks, whereas a hacker’s use is something of a different breed. Hackers dive into the digital reality and mold the systems and machinery to do their bidding. Just as a CEO of a corporation has many employees underneath them to do their bidding, hackers get computers and their programs to work as their digital “minions” so to say. 

I believe that cyberpunks and hackers do indeed belong to their own significant counterculture. Just as a normal culture functions in society, based on values and ethics that are learned from previous generations, one can see the same reflection in the computer based digital movement.

         This computer savvy community has adopted a way of life that has guidelines that reach almost all aspects of their actions.  Ideas that forge this culture, in my opinion, lie with the notion that art can be created on a computer. To us, that seems all too apparent, but as we learned from the readings, this was not a common thought until the “Hackers founding fathers.” Hackers even have a specific appeal to them that goes against the way modern business society works. Hackers hire other hackers based on how well they do their work, rather than based on their age, education, or professional demeanor. This idea shows how far away from traditional business culture the computer hacking lifestyle resides. Most importantly, the hacker ethics centralized around the idea that “all information should be free,” this is a credo that many in our current society believe to be important and it just so happens to shape theirs.

         The bonds of their subculture can be seen in the way the hacker lifestyle got started. The idea that every programmer could work together to create an ultimate program collectivity is what helped to spark the hacking bushfire. If this does not qualify as a culture, I don’t know what does. Working collectively was the foundation of the hacker culture, which many say is threatened by the commercialization of programing. As a subculture unit, many have banned together to boycott money making from their efforts although many have been swayed to the “dark side” or so to say. Hacker icons, like Bill Gates, and modern plenums, like Mark Zuckerberg, have been accused of turning their back on the ethics that formed the hacker community.

         One intriguing idea the authors left us with is the possible future of the hacking culture and their ideas. I’ve never thought of comparing computer code to human DNA code, but from the standpoint of hackers, they are not very different. When asked, Bill Gates claimed this to be the future of hacking, and his company has already take part in activities to prevent dieses by using the code to cure.

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Blog Exercise #6

Blog Exercise #6

Option #1

 

For this blog post, I viewed two episodes of the online show Falling In Love with Chris and Greg. The first episode I watched was called “O Canada!” followed by the episode “Road Trip! TV Special.” After watching the shows, I analyzed how the show challenged and held some mainstream assumptions and stereotypes in regards to race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality. I found that this show both reinforced and challenged stereotypes throughout the episodes.

In the episode titled “O Canada,” the two main characters, Chris and Greg, discuss new possibilities to keep their relationship going smoothly.  Chris starts by asking Greg his opinion on Canadians, with the goal of getting him to agree to date a Canadian and possibly sleep with him. Chris states that by doing this they can strengthen their partnership into a strong, non-commoditized, feminist relationship. Greg seemed iffy of the idea, but agreed after spitting several lines that are pretty stereotypical about Canadians. The following scene portrayed Greg’s date with the Canadian that seemed to go just about as good as a train wreck. Greg’s stereotypical views of Canadians start to come to light during conversation, ultimately leading to the Canadian character walking out on dinner. The concluding scene takes place at breakfast the next morning between Chris and Greg where the truth comes out about Greg’s date and all becomes well with an emotional embrace between the two lovers.

This episode starts strong with stereotypical views about Canadians. Greg explains that he thinks they are “simple” people who are both “straight forward,” and “uneducated.” I think in ways this enforces negative stereotypes about peoples’ Canadian “nationality”, if that is the correct terminology for it. I’m not sure if ethnicity or races are appropriate for this case.  This episode also did a good job at challenging stereotypes. Both characters explain that they are “left leaning” on the political spectrum.  This could be considered a stereotype because most gay men would support a more liberal political position. Greg actually explains to his Canadian date, that he is starting to become more of a “fiscal conservative,” which actually over shadows the possible liberal-gay man stereotype.

The second episode I viewed was titled “Road Trip! TV Special,” which highlights Chris and Greg’s road trip, which might, ultimately end up with a marriage.  Various scenes in the beginning show the characters starting their journey and slowly the idea of a possible marriage begins to build.  We find out that both characters have a completely different view of the way marriage should be.  Chris follows a more feminist view of marriage that holds that traditional marriage is not appropriate for queer males.  Greg’s view is more along the lines of a traditional hetero wedding. The talk soon turns to having a naturally born baby. This would be possible for them because Chris was formerly female and might be able to produce offspring if he stopped taking testosterone.  The couple ends up in Vegas where they decided not to get married or have children. On the way home everything worked out and they where happy in their decision to not have children.

This episode has two very good examples of both upholding traditional stereotypes regarding marriage and child rearing, and challenging it at the same time. These opposing positions come from the main characters idea of what the perfect scenario would be on marriage. Greg’s view is a more stereotypical hetero view of the way things should be. He believes that if they were to get married, it would be after they decided to live together, and at some point they would raise a naturally born child. Chris’s view is much different. He believes that if they were to get married now, they would not have to move in together. He believes this would challenge the way that the traditional marriage ideas run and offer a more appropriate arrangement for queer men.

Overall, I believe this show does a great job of portraying a whole new view on the way marriage can be. I for one have never thought about gay men wanting another way to do things that fit them better than what the traditional institutions offer. This theme ran strong in both episodes, and ultimately does a great job of providing both sides of the story when it comes to what queer men want compared to hetero men.

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Blog # 5, Option 1

Blog Exercise #5

OPTION #1

         For this blog post I will be applying the Bechdel Test to ten of the most recent movies I have watched. This test originated from the comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For” by Alison Bechdel. This test has three parts a film must pass in order to be deemed free of gender bias. The three parts of the test are:

1.    Two or more women with names,

2.    Who talk to each other,

3.    About something other than a man.

         I started by listing the 10 most recent films I have watched. This seems like an easy task, but I seldom have time to watch films, so my list could be a bit dated compared to frequent film watchers. Each film listed will be followed by my explanation on why the film either passed or failed. Following that, I will discuss the implications of my results and how they display the gender bias in today’s films.

Movies

1.    Apollo 18 (F)

This film passes zero of the three criteria. They mention the astronaut’s wife by her name Laura and she is also listed in the credits. Without more than one named female, the other two criteria are unanswerable.

 2.    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (P)

This film passes all three criteria. In the flashback scene they show a young Lily (Harry Potter’s mom) conversing with her sister Petunia. They are not talking about a man.

 3.   Bridesmaids (P)

This movie passes all three criteria. It has several conversations between named female characters. Although some are about men, not all are.

 4.    Grown Ups (P)

This movie passes all three criteria. It has several named female characters who speak with each other on topics other than men. Several scenes show conversations among the wives.

 5.   The Hangover 2 (F) 

This movie passes one of the three criteria. It has two named female character but they never converse. The characters were also not part of the plot.

 6.   Paranormal Activity 3 (P)

This movie passes all three criteria.  There are several female characters who talk about things other then men. Two scenes show the female characters conversing over the paranormal activity in the house.

 7.    30 Minutes or Less (F) 

There are two female characters in this film, but they never converse. On top of that, one character plays a stripper.

 8.   Battle: Los Angles (F) 

This movie passes one of the three criteria. This movie has two main characters that talk about many things other than men, but never actually speak to each other.

 9.   Fantastic Mr. Fox (F)

This movie passes one of the three criteria. This movie has two named female characters, but they never speak to each other. Mr. Fox’s wife interacts with her son’s love interest, Agnus, but they never actually speak.

 10.  Super 8 (P) 

This movie passes all of the three criteria. This movie has multiple female roles that speak to each other. The main character’s mother interacts with his sister on several occasions.

Essay:

         After completing this test, is becomes ever so apparent of the amount of gender inequality that takes place in today’s film industry. In my testing of ten recently watched films, only half passed, which from what I have researched is actually a good number of passing films. I believe this trend in male centered movies does not reflect society because nearly half the population is female which should lead to more interesting and full portrayals of women in the film industry.

         One key thing I noticed while reviewing the movies was that many female roles are not stand-alone. By, not stand-alone, I mean many of the female roles are that of main characters’ wives, ultimately relying on the main character to fulfill the plot. Although this caused some movies to fail outright, some just barely squeaked by with short conversations that just happened to lack men as the topic. This is not the case in real life, women everywhere have conversations on a cornucopia of topics, so why can’t we get some similarity in our modern films? I believe it is because many of these films are aimed to draw in young men, at which point the producers don’t feel the need to portray women for what they really are, instead of showing them as mere objects. To me, these films put off the idea that women are not worthy of major roles, unless they are some how connected to men.  

         Another issue that stems from the test is the idea that the small amount of movies that did pass might have portrayed named female characters, who spoke about something other than a man, in unsavory ways. A movie that passes the test by having a stripper talk to another woman about something random is far from doing the justice of a fair portrayal of a woman.

         One criticism of the test is that the context in which the movie is based on is not part of the test. Although this is not a crucial criticism on the foundations of the test, it can be said certain movies portray events that indeed did not contain any women. The truth of the matter is that these films are a minority when it comes to box office hits and puts no strain on the test when it comes to uncovering biased movies.

          In the end, it comes down to not being informed of the issues with gender inequality in the film industry. Now that I know about this test, I find myself counting characters and listening to their every conversation topic. Now that I am familiar with this test, I notice more and more movies that fail to pass, which in my opinion is disappointing. One option I noticed that could be a good way to avoid these female-voided movies is to enjoy more indie films, which tend to be more fair portrayals of women. Perhaps it is because they tend to be filmed by students or fresh graduates that have gone through this lesson on gender inequality and know how to oppose it.

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Blog Exercise #3

            For this blog assignment, I will be researching background information on 2011 box office hit, the Transformers: Dark of the Moon. This film dropped in late June 2011, quickly hitting highs in the box office department. This volume of the series made it to number 19 on the United States all time domestic box office incomes. Paramount Pictures partnered with the Hasbro, and Do Bonaventura Corporations to produce this piece. Of these three companies, the main production outlet, Paramount Pictures, is the only organization tied to one of the big six media companies, Viacom.

            The Transformers series has done spot on merchandising of their brand in both the media and non-media markets. With products being graced with Decepticons, and entire toy lines being developed just for the film, it is not hard to see how the epics have made millions. Many product categories took advantage of this mass media vehicle. One such company is Hasbro, who also happened to be listed as one of the main production companies for this film. Hasbro has made their name a prominent pillar in the toy industry. It is not surprising to see their cooperation with the film considering they are the brand child of the entire Transformer empire, as well as owner of the characters. Hasbro constructed a whole product line of children’s figurines and related apparel, in which they achieved large profit margin increases with the release of the movie.

            The Transformers: Dark of the Moon title also graced other media outlets. The movie franchise released both a full-length movie soundtrack with score, as well as a multi-platform videogame. Reprise records, a Time Warner company, teamed up with Paramount to release the album with many big name artists contributing.  Reprise also released a separate album with the actual movie score as well as accompanying booklet. One would think that a film backed by one of the big six would use one of its own CD production companies rather than partner with a competitor, like Time Warner, but Viacom’s lack of CD production holdings forced them to outsource.

            Another media source that cashed in on the Transformer franchise was the video game company Activision, with their release of Transformers: Dark of the Moon the video game.  This game was released across multiple video game platforms, but failed to pull the profits they wished to meet with the new third person shooter.

            You can also see the films tied to other non media companies by promotions it ran in order to get the wide spread marketing publicity they desired.  Paramount pictures partnered with KFC, U.S. Military, NASA, and General Motors. Kentucky Fried Chicken patrons could buy their favorite food items and see the packaging adorned with photos of the complex robot characters. They also had the option to enter a sweepstakes tied to the film that gave them the chance to win a Transformers themed laptop computer. General Motors’ vehicles made more appearances in the film than some of the actors did. This lead to General Motors taking on the Transformer theme into some of the media advertising.

            One can see that there is an ever-growing web of products, promotions, placements, and profits surrounding these popular films. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is just one of many recent releases that have large marketing plans spreading multiple markets. Films like the Twightlight series, Harry Potter, and The Lord of the Rings are also examples of successfully produced films that used their parent companies other offerings to help cash in.

            

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Week #1 Blog Exercise- Option #1

Week #1 Blog Exercise 

Media Usage Record:

  • Thursday:
    • 8:30-9:30AM- Kron 4 News Broadcast Television.
    • 9:20-10:00AM-Internet (Email, Banking.)
    • 10:00-10:05AM-Print (Skier Magazine)
    • 12:00-12:45PM-Radio (Vehicle-96.5/COIT)
    • 7:45-9:00PM- Broadcast television (Two and a Half Men, Southpark, Cops, and Campus P.D.)
  • Friday:
    • 10:00-10:30AM-Internet
    • 10:30-10:35-Print (Skier Magazine)
    • 1:00-1:25PM-Radio (Vehicle-96.5/COIT)
    • 8:00-10:00PM- Broadcast television (Winter X-Games on ESPN/NBC)
    • 8:00-10:30PM- Internet (Email, Twitter, Facebook, Weather, Ski Reports, and Banking.)
  • Saturday:
    • 8:00-9:45AM-Internet (Email, Twitter, Facebook, Weather, Ski Reports, Banking, Mass Com Textbook website, D2L SJSU Online Service.)
    • 8:00-9:30AM-Broadcast Television (prerecorded Winter X-Games.)
    • 9:30AM-12:10PM-Broadcast Television (Live Winter X-Games.)
    • 8:00-10:00PM-Internet (Word press, D2L SJSU online, YouTube, Book Publisher website, Email, Banking, Facebook.)
    • 9:30-11:20-Film (“Horrible Bosses”)
  • Used Media Combined Times For 3 Day Test Period:
  • Print:           0 Hours and 10 Minutes.
  • Film:             2 Hours and 50 Minutes.
  • Radio:           1 Hour   and 10 Minutes.
  • Television:  8 Hours and 25 Minutes.
  • Internet:       7 Hours and 25 Minutes.

Analytical Essay:

The goal for this week’s blog exercise is to diligently record my personal media usage in terms of media type, specific title, and duration. I started this project on Thursday, January 26th, to Saturday, January 28th. I then totaled the time amounts for each day and divided them into each form of media. I am concluding the research with this analytical essay summarizing my findings, as well as providing an analytical approach to my personal media usage.

The main form of media used during the duration of the test period was television, coming in at a total of eight hours and twenty-five minutes. As a consumer of broadcast television, I find myself using this media for three main reasons, which are information, entertainment, and ambiance. News supplies me with current information. Sitcom shows and sporting events are used as entertainment, making it a relaxing form of media in my life. Finally, I use television as a form of ambient noise. When guests are present it is nice to have some background noise to avoid any silences that might seem awkward. I benefit from my television usage by being provided with a channel to receive news updates and also have something to relax and enjoy. Television media might have some effects on my life that are less noticeable. I tend to collect my news from organizations that reflect my own person life and political views. The comedy shows I find myself indulging in are frowned upon by some, for the use of slapstick pop culture humor. Although that thought has some merit, I believe shows like Southpark are necessary in an open democratic society.

The second in the line of most commonly consumed media is the Internet, which comes in at whopping seven hours and twenty-five minutes during the test period. I used Internet for many reasons, most pertained to finance, email communications, social media, schoolwork, and weather. My Internet usage is similar to my television usage’s main goals of entertainment and information. Some benefits of this more navigable form of media is based in its ability to search out more micro communities apparent in people’s lives. I am able to check snow reports, weather reports, and social media updates regarding my favorite hobby, snowboarding. I think the Internet affects my day-to-day life positively. I am now able to stay connected to important aspects of my life and in more depth.

Film is the third most consumed media, but this statement could be tricky when it comes to the data. I watched only one film but the running time of that film makes it more consumed than perhaps the two magazines I read, or the two radio programs listened too. Film serves as a get away from reality. I use motion pictures to dive into creative story lines and enjoy stories that are based in both fiction and non-fiction. The main benefit of my film intake is the ability to listen, and ultimately take in story lines, whether they are basic comedies or complicated thrillers, like the movie “Seven.” I feel that film has little effect on my life, but it can be seen that certain films portray people in ways that could affect someone in a negative way.

The forth media I most consumed over the test period is radio. I use radio to achieve the same sort of ambiance while driving my vehicle. I tend to tune into whatever comes in best and plays more music than talk. I often find myself listening to oldies, which offers me a bit of nostalgia when old songs are rediscovered. Radio has little to no effect on me, besides providing me with frustration when no channels are decipherable.

The media in which I consumed the least of is print media. This could be for several reasons. If it were further in the school year, I would have my textbooks, which would ultimately increase my print intake. I find myself picking up print material when there is little other media interaction available. The two occasions I indulged in print media were based on catching photo covers that intrigued me to look further. Overall I believe the lack of print consumption has the most prevalent effects than lacking in any other media department. Less reading takes away from ones intellectual content.

 

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