Iconography of the U.S.

The icon from the United States that I chose to focus on was Ronald McDonald. Since starting in America, McDonald’s has expanded its business to countries worldwide. Their mascot Roland McDonald has followed this global expansion and become an international symbol for McDonald’s. Ronald McDonald is a kid friendly clown that is dressed from head to toe in the traditional McDonald’s red and yellow. He is usually associated with the children’s elements of McDonalds such as the happy meals or the play place at the McDonalds locations. Ronald McDonald became an icon in the U.S. because of the popularity of the restaurant chain. They created him as the face of the restaurant and had cartoons and commercials that depicted he and his friends. Up until recently he was always featured in the commercials and has always been an image seen inside the establishments. He has long been the face on the happy meals, and has been featured in advertising campaigns for the restaurant for years

Outside of the United States Ronald is still widely used by the McDonalds advertising and promotion. Since he is a happy clown he has a large appeal to children and tends to draw them to the restaurant. Since the parents are trying to make the children happy they will bring them to a place that they want to eat. One of the pictures that I found of McDonalds internationally depicts Ronald in China on stage with what seem to be Chinese dragons. Here McDonalds is attempting to combine Chinese symbols and McDonalds symbols by displaying Ronald with the dragons. The Chinese response to Ronald McDonald has been extremely positive. The people of China enjoy the food that McDonalds provides, and they enjoy partaking in enjoying American cuisine. They have expanded the franchise well into China as well as other countries in Asia. The response from the United States was not definitively negative, however since the obesity epidemic in America is a large problem McDonalds might not have been the best reflection of the what type of food our culture consumes.Image

As for what icon they could have used in place of Ronald McDonald, choices are limited. At this point in the business he has undoubtedly become the face of the franchise and will continue to represent the company. He is aimed at the youth and is intended to evoke feelings of happiness in children so they want to take a trip to McDonalds. It is possible that the Chinese McDonalds could have used a dragon in place of him, however a dragon does not seem to have the friendly connotation that a clown does. I cannot be sure though because my view on dragons is more relevant to United States culture and maybe children would find them appealing as the face of the Chinese franchise. Either way the argument cannot be made that McDonald’s has not bee successful thus far. Keeping Ronald as the face in foreign countries was a smart move considering they have localized other aspects of the business to fit foreign markets. Things such as catering the food menu items or the restaurant atmosphere have attracted customers in foreign markets, yet still retained the face that made the franchise famous.

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The Brain/Pharma Ads

After downloading the plug-in I needed to use the 3-D brain tour, I actually thought it was pretty cool. Though the brain is the most likely the second important, if not most important organ in the body (the heart is probably equally important to maintaining quality of life), I do not see myself making any changes to my life based on what I have recently viewed on this website. I believe that I lead a moderately healthy lifestyle, and through reading and school work I think my brain utilizes its potential. Maybe down the line I will could begin improving cognitive function through software or programs available, but that is about it. As for what I learned from this tour, during my sophomore year at school I used an elective to take a psychology 100 class and learned much of the same material that is displayed on this website. I learned each individual part of the brain’s function, and how function can be disrupted or impaired. Claiming I remember each individual aspect is bold, however once I read the first line of each description my neurons took it from there. So while I don’t think I learned too much I didn’t already know, it was a pretty good refresher. I think this diagram is a very good example of how the truth can be made visible. The workings of the brain were a mystery up until the last century, and until scientists were able to break down the working parts mental disorders and other cognitive problems had unknown causes. Being able to effectively disseminate what does what in the human mind is very advantageous to modern scientist and mankind will only benefit.

The pharmaceutical advertisement that I found was for the drug Celebrex. It is a drug for those who suffer from arthritis pain, and focuses on how it can help these people. While the advertisement does not have a checklist of patient symptoms, it focuses on the side effects of many arthritis medications, and how compared to others Celebrex has been shown to have less side effects than others. The advertisement absolutely has a list of side effects that are longer than the list of symptoms, considering it only treats one symptom. It goes on to list side effects such as stomach problems, skin reactions, and intestinal issues to name a few. In short the drugs promise to the consumer is that it will help the patient relieve arthritis pain and inflammation for a full twenty-four hours after taking the medicine. The advertisement also promises that the customer will have less side effects taking this medicine than they would taking other medications for arthritis. The advertisements copy endorses this with descriptions of clinical studies in which the drug outperformed others. The words on the screen change to what the narrator is discussing and are intended to back up the claims of the success of Celebrex. I thought this drug had a very interesting commercial because it admitted its flaws and described how they are less impactful than other drugs. Most drugs do not even bother to draw comparisons to others, however if the studies are true, this more honest approach might intrigue viewers about the product. Marketing these days has a lot of clutter and this ad seems to be trying to cut through the mix.

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Pastiche

What is this song all about?
Can’t figure any lyrics out
How do the words to it go?
I wish you’d tell me, I don’t know
Don’t know, don’t know, don’t know, I don’t know!
Don’t know, don’t know, don’t know…

Now I’m mumblin’ and I’m screamin’
And I don’t know what I’m singin’
Crank the volume, ears are bleedin’
I still don’t know what I’m singin’
We’re so loud and incoherent
Boy, this oughta bug your parents
Yeah!

*belch*

Hing!

It’s unintelligible
I just can’t get it through my skull
It’s hard to bargle nawdle zouss
With all these marbles in my mouth
Don’t know, don’t know, don’t know, I don’t know!
Don’t know, don’t know, don’t know…

Well, we don’t sound like Madonna
Here we are now, we’re Nirvana
Sing distinctly? We don’t wanna
Buy our album, we’re Nirvana
A garage band from Seattle
Well it sure beats raisin’ cattle
Yeah!

Moo..

Baa…

And I forgot the next verse
Oh well, I guess it pays to rehearse
The lyric sheet’s so hard to find
What are the words, oh nevermind
Don’t know, don’t know, don’t know, I don’t know!
Don’t know, don’t know, don’t know…

Well, I’m yellin’ and we’re playin’
But I don’t know what I’m sayin’
What’s the message I’m conveyin’?
Can you tell me what I’m sayin’?
So have you got some idea?
Didn’t think so
Well, I’ll see ya
Sayonara, sayonawa
Ayonawa, hodinawa
Odinaya, yodinaya
Yaddayadda, yaaahyaaah
Ayiyaaaaaah!

The above lyrics are from a Weird Al Yankovich song titled “Smells like Nirvana”. The song is a pastiche of the song “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, which was Nirvana’s first big hit song in the early nineties. The song has a few different elements of pastiche that make the song a clever reworking of the original. Though it’s not apparent from simply reading this post, the music in Weird Al’s song is identical to the original version, with the minor exception that it is slightly sped up. This in my opinion is a pastiche on punk/grunge music, which was known for its speed and energy. I think that this song is more than just pastiche, and also has a lot of parody elements to it. The lyrics are written to make fun of Kurt Cobain’s singing style, in which many of the lyrics of the song are difficult to decipher due to his lack of diction when singing. Building on that Weird Al goes on to make fun of the original version for having lyrics that make little sense and do not seem to be related to one another. The opening lyric to his version states “What is this song all about?”, clearly taking a shot at the lyrics to the original. This is where Weird Al questions the status of the original song. He is essentially pointing out that it makes little sense and that it is difficult to tell what Cobain is saying anyway. He also has lyrics in the song making fun of Seattle which is where the band started its career. Saying they chose to be musicians because “it sure beats raising cattle” is another parody of the band, poking fun at their home as well as their simple ways.

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GraphJam.com is considered pastiche because the humor of these graphs is derived from culturally related aspects. In order for the graph to be funny to the viewer, that person must understand what the graph is referencing. For instance in the second graph I posted, the viewer must have played the Pokemon gameboy game, otherwise they will have no idea of what this graph is poking fun at. The Pokemon graph is a great example of pastiche, because it does not really involve parody, and is simply the truth of the matter. Without trying to sound like a former Pokemon geek, the farther a player makes it in the game the less experience points there Pokemon will gain. Even if the opponent is a difficult one, the amount it takes to level up is so much greater that everything seems to be a smaller percentage. This graph is a wonderful pastiche of this aspect of the game because it merely shows the difference in level up between the two stages of the game.

The second graph I included is also a great use of pastiche, and includes parody as well. The use of the semicolon in texting has exploded in the last few years due to its ability to convey a smiley face, winkey face, and sad face. This graph is making fun of the fact that few texters even know how to correctly use a semicolon in a text, and instead only use it for an emoticon. Texting is supposed to be a brief method of communication in which users probably don’t have much use for a semicolon anyway, however it is still funny to think of how often it is utilized having nothing to do with separating a sentence.

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Culture Jamming

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The advertisement I chose to edit was an advertisement for the newer, more fuel efficient Ford Mustang. I chose this advertisement because the Mustang is making a comeback in popularity due to more fuel efficient options, and competitive pricing. Muscle car advertisements in general are always interesting due to the way that the company chooses to represent the car. It always focuses on the stellar look or the 0-60 time, however this advertisement for this advertisement they also gave it a wider audience by focusing on fuel efficiency as well. While it choose it does mention the fuel efficiency the basic concept of the advertisement is to demonstrate the power and looks of the vehicle. The car is the center focus of the ad that the eye is immediately drawn to, and the way they blur the background is supposed to supposed to support the claim that the car is faster than most others on the road. The numbers 305 are bolder than the others and jump off the page as if to stand out to the viewer of the advertisement. The advertisement hosts all of the normal connotations that come along with the muscle car advertisements which is why I chose to edit it and create an oppositional reading for the viewer.

In the edited advertisement, all I did was change the tag line of the advertisement. However by editing the tag line from “The only slow part is the fuel gauge” to “Overcompensation at its finest” I completely changed what the viewer would take away from looking at this advertisement. Utilizing the stigma and general connotations that are attached to many men who drive muscle cars, I was able to create an advertisement that might in fact deter someone from buying this car, or at least make them think twice about it. Someone who was looking at the sporty look and powerful engine would read this ad and realize unless they are a race car driver, or looking to attract beautiful women, there is not a huge requirement in life for a car of this magnitude. Muscle cars have always been looked at as a reflection of the person driving it. The stigma that is generally attached to these cars is someone who is looking for attention, overcompensating for what they are lacking, and trying to boost their self-esteem. Utilizing these connotations to my advantage, I aimed the advertisement away from the look or features of the car and more towards the type of people that buy them. “Overcompensation at its finest” is my fancy way of saying “Buy this car to feel better about yourself”. Changing so little of the advertisement I was able to completely redirect the message of the ad. Instead of a clever line about the fuel gauge not being able to keep up with the speed of the car, my line implies that the men who are buying this vehicle are doing so to make themselves feel better about lacking qualities. My advertisement is specifically aimed at the male audience, not to say that women are not interested in sports cars, however I believe the majority of muscle car ads are aimed at males. I did not change the advertisement very much and only edited the tag line. The original is still connected to the new ad because the design and copy are very similar, however changing one sentence gave the advertisement a very different message to the viewers.

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Media Tracking

After keeping track of my media usage for forty-eight hours, I tallied the results and was a little surprised at what I found in this experiment. The media form I used the most was the internet. Whether it was on my phone, or on my computer, I used internet media over eight and a half hours in the two day span. The media form that I used the least over the forty-eight hour span was television. I still used it, as it tallied a grand total of one hour and fifteen minutes of watching time. This was strange for me, as I have always considered myself an avid television watcher. As I mentioned in class, I believe that if there had not been a lull in March Madness games over the chosen forty-eight hour period, that number most likely would have been significantly higher. As for total time of communication, that was extremely hard for me to tally. I am one of those people who texts a decent amount, and I found it very hard to add five or ten seconds worth of texting to my media usage time. Especially if I was at work or not around my computer. As a ball park figure for my attempt to figure out how much time was spend communicating with others I would say around three hours of total time. I did record phone calls, and was able to track online conversations on sites such as Facebook and Skype. Most of my media time was spend using sources that were monologic. Subtracting the three hours of time I spent communicating with others, I came up with a grand total of 13 hours on monologic media usage (this is calculating for multiple media uses at once, i.e. radio and internet at the same time). As I stated before I was extremely surprised at the final tally how low the number of television hours watched was. I expected at least two hours a day for a total of four hours considering I usually watch a full episode of SportsCenter and at least one other show or a partial sporting event. I was also surprised at how much I use the internet over two days. Even with my use of a smartphone included, I did not think there was anyway I would go over five hours of usage for the internet. I have always considered myself less of a digital person, mostly because I suck at using computers, but that number seemed oddly high to me. Based this next answer off of my last answer I think I will try to keep the number of internet hours used a day to a lower number. Averaging more than four hours of internet use a day is never something I anticipated doing, and I do not view that as a particularly healthy habit to have. While I still think these numbers might be lower or higher if done over a longer period of time, I think I should try and cut down on the use of the smartphone. It certainly does not seem to be making me any smarter.

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Creative Commons Project

The Creative Commons website states in their about section that “Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.” This creates a new way for the public to view the laws and restrictions on ownership and copyright of an artist’s work. By allowing the person who creates the art to create and alter the terms of their own copyright, he or she allows other to utilize their creation for specific purposes that before may not have been possible. Since this is an internet website, it changes the way we think about ownership and copyright because it is essentially creating an online community in which others can critique, as well as use the art for purposes allowed by the creator. This creates a sort of global village of ideas and artistic work in which the view of public domain has changed, creating a new system of collaboration.

As for the subject or subjects presented in the work of the artist, whether or not they are changed is up to the Creative Commons community. Since the website is free to join and the creator of the piece creates the rules for their art, the amount it can change is up to the artist and those who are allowed to use their art. As long as the conditions are abided by, the members of the site can borrow, reuse, or change the art as they see fit. This is another reason why this site encourages creativity on the part of the users of the website.

In the case of “Gone with the Wind”, if the technology existed when the novel had been published, then more people would have been able to read it. This novel was one of the most celebrated of its time period and is considered a classic. If the novel was open to public use on the Creative Commons site, then people could have reused content from the novel to put a creative spin on characters or plot. However, since much of the novel is under copyright terms, no one is allowed to use those characters without infringing on the copyright. Intellectual property was treated differently in that time period, and authors believed in the most restriction possible so they would be able to protect the work they invested their time in.

In the case of Bela Lugosi, it is difficult to understand if Creative Commons would have played a role in the situation or not. The character of Dracula seems to be considered public domain, such as other mythical creatures like Frankenstein or the Wolfman. Battles over public domain are ongoing in many situations and are subject to critical debate. In this case it seems as if Creative Commons would not have made a difference with its specific copyright purposes because anything that is considered public domain in exempt from copyright infringement. What creative commons essentially aims to do is increase the amount of public domain there is in the world. While it is not technically considered public domain if there are restrictions, this organization seeks to allow for more public domain-like material. Getting back on track if Dracula is considered public domain, which my understanding is that he is, than Creative Commons would not have made any difference in the case.

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Self-Portraits

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The first photo that is posted here is a self portrait that I took in the school library earlier in the year for a project I was working on. The second photo is a drawing that is a collection of symbols that represent me in symbolic form. Some are symbols that actually represent something such as the sports teams or the Johnnie Walker man, and some are basic symbols that I chose to represent me. One of the main differences between these two photos is that they both have denotative, as well as connotative aspects to them. The self portrait denotatively is just a smiling young man in the library. A man who if I do say so myself looks very color coordinated. However a connotative look at this reveals slightly more. The “B” on the hat signifies that I am a fan of the Boston Bruins, and the pattern on the sweater shows someone who has interesting taste in clothes. The drawing that represents me has more room for denotative and connotative interpretation. Someone who views the drawing could simply view the item such a guitar, some playing cards, and a football helmet. The guitar could represent that I play, or that I am simply a collector or music enthusiast. The playing cards could mean a number of different card games, but most would interpret it as something to do with gambling. The football helmet could simply represent the Patriots as a team, or it could represent my love for the NFL, specifically my whole team. Some people would look at the figure as a symbol of Johnnie Walker, but it is actually me, walking away from a big hand playing conservative poker as I usually do.

There is only really one big area of intersection in this photo. The fact that Boston and New England sports teams are represented in the drawing, and that in the portrait I am wearing a Boston hat, these two areas show similarities. Other than that, there is not too much intersection in the picture without making any major assumptions.

I chose the symbols in the picture because I feel like they were specific interests that would let the viewer gain a deeper understanding of who I am. While I am smiling in this picture and in the library, the rest is up to the imagination of the viewer. Evidence that there is no such thing as photographic truth is shown here because of what I chose to leave out of the frame of the picture. I did not really include what I was wearing, or much of where I was. For instance whether I do my work on the 1st floor of the library, where it is noisy and cluttered, or on the more relaxed and quiet third floor, would have given the viewer more information on me. Instead I chose to keep the picture simple and let the symbolic representation do the talking. I chose the guitar and music notes because I am an avid guitar player and music listener. The playing cards symbolize not only my love for gambling, but how in my eyes life, and the way you live it is very comparable to poker. The sports symbols are somewhat self explanatory, but those who have witnessed my passion during a Patriots game would tell you that those might be the most important symbols on the page. Sports like life involve team work, creativity, and sometimes a little bit of luck. The Pontiac Firebird displays my love for American muscle, and the Johnnie Walker man lets the viewer know I enjoy a nice glass of scotch. I would say that the sports team symbols, the car, and the Johnnie Walker man describe me rationally. However, the music items and the playing cards are more symbolic, due to the multiple meanings they represent.

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For this blog we had to find two different advertisements. One with a single subject, and one with multiple subjects in the advertisement.

The first advertisement that I found was a Smart Water ad featuring New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. When I looked at this advertisement I began to analyze how the ad is intended to be viewed. In this picture the subject is Tom Brady, and he is not looking out toward the viewer, but rather intensely at the task he is attempting. Evidence of this is the expression he has on his face. Most of his vision is directed toward his left hand, which when taking into consideration what he is doing, would be the hand he would be moving next up the ‘corporate ladder’. To me this image seems to demonstrate that Tom is aware of the spectator though he is not actively looking at them. While the picture may seem like he is actually working out, he does not seem to have an intense enough look on his face to actually be working out. He seems to have a very posed look of intensity in order to retain his attractive demeanor. Tom Brady is a very good looking man and has sex appeal that the creator of the image wanted to retain in order to maximize the effectiveness of this advertisement. The fact that Tom is not looking towards the audience also has the connotation that goes hand in hand with his football success. Focusing on the task instead of the audience suggest that he wins because he focuses on his training so intently.

The second advertisement I chose was one for the beer Dos Equis. This advertisement features their trademark character, the world’s most interesting man with two very attractive women on either side of him. In this advertisement it is clear that man has the power in the ad. In fact he is so powerful he does not even need to pay a second of attention to the beautiful women who seem lost in his aura. The women on either side of him are staring at him so intently it is almost as if they are in disbelief they are sitting next to him. This is more so for the women on the right who looks as if she does not even know what to say to him. The woman on the left looks slightly more in control, as if she is attracted to him and wants him to look over in her direction, but can not seem to command his attention. Both women seem longing for the attention of the world’s most interesting man judging by their gaze. The gaze of the man is interesting as well. He is looking directly toward the spectator almost as if to demonstrate his power through this gaze. His gaze speaks to the viewer almost as if to say he does not even care that the woman on either side would give anything to be with him. He holds all the power in this picture, and he is not afraid to let the viewer know how the world’s most interesting man can have whatever he wants, and not even pay attention to it.

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Appropriation in Popular Culture

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I found this image on a website called DeviantArt.com which is essentially an online art store with various pieces for sale. Anyone can post their art on this site for sale, as well as for others to comment on and share the pieces with their friends.

The original purpose of this image is that of an advertisement for the Apple iPod. This image is one that could be a part of the campaign that Apple ran to advertise how the user is connected to the music. It was a series of advertisements that showed different silhouettes of Apple iPod users enjoying the product. The advertisements were popular because they were ambiguous and users could picture themselves as the silhouette. This campaign was one of the big reasons the iPod developed a high awareness and led to the success of the product.

In our readings of Sturken and Carthwright they refer to a specific type of appropriation called cultural appropriation. This type of appropriation is described as borrowing and changing of “cultural products”. In this way the creator of this image has effectively used appropriation to incorporate the famous Beatles Abbey Road album cover. While the image of The Beatles are not is not used specifically used, the silhouettes in the picture are outlines of what The Beatles look like are clearly depicted. Also the way they are crossing the road with simultaneous footsteps is another aspect of the Abbey Road cover that is depicted here, along with the crosswalk markings to demonstrate a street. The creator does a good job of alluding to the Abbey Road cover using a appropriation and a minimalistic art style.

The new meaning of the appropriation becomes a twist on a classic image. The success of Apple’s iPod campaign was so great that the silhouette of a person with an iPod has become iconic. In this sense the author of this image has combined a modern icon with a classic icon. When many think of great music, The Beatles are one of the first bands that come to mind. And when one thinks of devices that play music, iPod is the first that comes to mind. This image is a combination of old popular culture icons and a new popular culture icon. What I think the author has intended to do is create an artistic take on a modern advertisement. Many people create different types of Beatles art, and use Beatles references in modern art. The person who created this piece was clearly a fan of The Beatles and wanted to create his or her own personal twist on the Abbey Road album cover. They created an interesting piece of art that successfully combines older elements of music with a more modern element of music as well. To me this represents the theme that music is timeless. People are still putting Beatles songs on their iPods, and will be for years to come. This piece speaks to me that there is not as big a gap in music generations as some believe there to be. It is a beautiful juxtaposition of old and new, and a very successful pop culture appropriation.

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Looking at Icons in our Society

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I found this advertisement for Gibson guitars in Guitar World magazine. It is specifically advertising the new Gibson Custom shop Slash Les Paul. In this advertisement the focus of the ad is former Guns N Roses lead guitar player Slash. The universal concept that Slash represents is rock n roll music. Guns and Roses was one of the biggest bands in hard rock, and many believe Slash is one of the greatest rock guitar players of all time. He was well known for his great solos and catchy riffs to some of rocks most well known songs like “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Sweet Child O Mine”. The emotion that this advertisement displays is passion. Even with his sunglasses on Slash seems lost in his guitar playing the way he is depicted in this ad. The statement from him in the ad adds to the passion when it states “My guitar without me is useless, without my guitar, I am useless”. This is displaying the emotional bond Slash shares with his Gibson Les Paul, and how he would not want to play any other guitar. This advertisement is connecting Slash, a symbol of rock n roll, to the Gibson Les Paul by displaying them together and having him discuss how important the guitar is to his life. By saying “I must master it as I master my life” the ad is implying that this guitar is one with Slash, creating a strong bond for the viewer. Slash being passionate for the instrument serves to market the passion and quality that goes into making it. After all Slash could play any guitar he wants and he chooses this Gibson, which is what the advertiser wants the viewer to take away from the ad. This ad does grab my attention for a few reasons. I am a fan of Gibson guitar, and also a huge fan of Slash. Therefore, seeing the two together will always get my attention. It does not persuade me to buy however, because from the ad alone I see no difference between the Slash custom model and other Gibson Les Pauls. Maybe if some of the features of the guitar were listed it would be more persuading, but then again I will not have $4,000.00 to drop of a Gibson Custom shop model anytime soon.

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