Author Archives: zap245

Trekkies vs. Trekkers vs. Lovers of the canon

While I think Jenkin’s book does present some very interesting points. there are certain areas where I think he’s just plain wrong, or perhaps intentionally manipulating information? The major problem for me comes near the beginning of the book. Jenkins talks about the fact that Start Trek fans are not “Trekkies.” While I most certainly agree that Trekkies are an exaggerated representation of fans, and that most fans are not like those represented, I think it’s naive to say that none of the Star Trek fans are a little extreme. Part of the reason people took such notice of the Star Trek phenomenon was because of the level of fandom. Jenkins then goes on to state, on page 17, that “The fans’ transgression of bourgeois taste and disruption of dominant cultural hierarchies insures that their preferences are seen as abnormal and threatening by those who have a vested interest in the maintenance of these standards…” Jenkins basically argues that the Star Trek fan culture is frowned upon because it does not fit in with the bourgeoise canon, and the rules that go with it. I don’t think this is why people feel strangely towards hardcore Trekkers. Jenkins talks about how the ways in which people interpret and read Star Trek is uncomfortably different from the rules and norms of reading the canon. Um, I don’t think this is the reason people respond so strongly towards Trekkers. In general, when people make fun of them, it is mostly focused on their allowance of the show to take over their lives, and I think this is really what people on some level take issue with. Furthermore, I don’t think this is a bourgeois response, I think it’s something else. It’s not just the bourgeois who mock Star Trek fans, people of all classes seem to find it odd. Furthermore, people who allow canonical works to have such a large impact on their lives are also viewed as strange. The only examples I can think of off the top of my head are not really educational, but they’re from a popular movie/TV show. Firstly, in “10 Things I Hate About You” a character is completely obsessed with Shakespeare. She dresses like him and drags aspects of his works and his life into her daily life. It makes her a freak. In an episode of “Gilmore Girls” there’s a Poe society with a group of obsessed Poe fans who are portrayed as ridiculous. Because they are. For me, fans of any work who take it too seriously and overly incorporate it into their ordinary lives is someone I view as bizarre. I think Jenkins needs to clarify that he is talking about people looking down upon those who enjoy Star Trek in an equal manner to the way in which some enjoy canonical works, and not those Star Trek fans who take it a step further.

Legitimate Taste

So far, in general, I’ve had a slightly hard time following Bourdieu’s statistical jargon, but in general I find the argument itself really interesting, once I reach it. I found the whole concept of the different categories of art particularly interesting. Apparently there is a correlation between class, education, and the category of art you appreciate. “Legitimate taste” is the top tier of preferences, apparently it includes such fine works as Concerto for the Left Hand. My question is, who decides which works are “legitimate?” Are works defined as legitimate based on who enjoys them? Partially, yes. On page 14 Bordieu states that works are devalued by their “popularization (since the dialectic of distinction and pretension designates as devalued ‘middle-brow’ art those legitimate works which become popularized.)” This makes me feel as if the upper classes/highly educated are defining themselves based on the lower classes, more specifically based on what the lower classes are not. I wonder how many movements in the arts were inspired to make “higher quality” art that only the minority can understand. Also, it is unfortunate in the sense that the lower classes/less educated can never join the tastes of the upper class, because once they begin to enjoy the tastes of the elite, this is taken as a sign that the elite need to be enjoying something new. I was thinking about the modern phenomenon of bands “selling out.” Most specifically, that sense some people have that once their favorite band is enjoyed by a lot of people, that the band has sold out and is no longer worthy. I feel like this may definitely tie into the devaluation caused by popularization theory.

Annotated Bibliography: Youtube

–       This article focuses on how independent YouTube actually is from the powers that be. Dijck takes into consideration the presentation of YouTube as reclamation of independence by the majority, overthrowing the minority, and compares this to the reality of what YouTube is. Namely, Dijck talks about the fact that YouTube was purchased by Google in 2006, and the use of YouTube as an advertising device. How much power is the majority really claiming from the minority when they use YouTube?

–       This article looks at the relationship between the internet (new media in general) and environmental protests. Most notably, they look at the change in power dynamics now that environmental protestors are trying to be acknowledged by new media sources, instead of working with traditional news media (television news, and new papers). They focus a lot on the question on whether this new media has really changed anything, and provided environmental protestors with more power than they previously had, or is the new media simply the newest wave of the minority controlling how things are represented.

–       Young focuses on the importance of debate for the electoral process and how, using news and new media, had better informed voters during the 2008 election and hence sent encouraged more people to vote.

  • Meehan, Eileen R. and Ellen Riordan, eds. Sex & Money: Feminism and Political Economy in the Media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002. Print.

– As the name implies, this book is about the connection between money, women and media, specifically in the media of industrialized countries. The book looks at the convergence of these three things, and also takes into consideration the level of power the government has over these representations.

  • Panagopoulos, Costas , ed. Politicking Online: The Transformation of Election Campaign Communications. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2009. Print.

–       Panagopoulos looks at the use of internet in political campaigns. He uses past campaigns as case studies to argue about the strength of the Internet over the campaign, and to look into why candidates are using the internet. He touches on a wide variety of ways of using the internet, and on different candidates and elections.

  • Niedzviecki, Hal. The Peep Diaries: How we’re Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and our Neighbors. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2009. Print.

–       This book is about “oversharing” using the internet. Niedzviecki looks at how the changing way in which we share information is affecting our notions of privacy and humanity, and how we are slowly changing our core values to suit this new “peep culture.”

  • Ludlow, Peter, ed. Crypto anarchy, cyberstates, and pirate utopias. Cambridge, Mass.; London: MIT Press, 2001. Print.

–       Ludlow focuses on the creation of independent nations, separate from reality, on the internet. He goes on to focus on the differences between the real world and these cyberstates, and the laws that govern these cyberspace societies.

Teaching the “natives”?

I was really struck by the argument that members of the colonizing countries made that that colonists were only able to revolt based on the knowledge bestowed on them by the colonizers. Obviously, this argument is mostly ridiculous. As Said points out, the colonized blatantly want to be free from the moment their independence is taken from them. In general, however, a successful revolution does take a while to come by. I think this is in part because the colonized peoples really do need to learn something from the colonizers, most specifically, it is impossible to overthrow something very powerful without understanding their weaknesses, furthermore I think the level of anger and “language of violence” necessary to stage a complete take over takes some time to build up. To deny that the colonizers had a lasting effect on the colonized is silly (I don’t think that’s what Said is doing, I’m just saying it would be silly to argue this.) The colonized can never become 100% like the colonizers, but they can never return to what they used to be either. Instead, the postcolonial countries remain trapped in some sort of limbo. Personally, I think this is a part of the reason why several postcolonial countries experience problems upon gaining independence. It is most obviously not the argument that the “natives” are too ignorant to govern themselves. It is more that they have reached a situation where the governing system of the colonizer won’t work for them, but neither will the system they previously used. The newly independent countries need to find a new system, that suits their new identity, which is not an easy thing to do…

YouTube as society

YouTube is really a community unto itself and I want to look at the website as such. I want to look at the similarities and differences between the real world and YouTube societies. I really want to observe the differing roles of individuals and rules of society within YouTube society. I think that looking at YouTube as a society can provide insight into real world society. I’m pretty excited because I think a lot of the theory we have read so much is reflected or in some way touched upon in the YouTube society. I was especially thinking about the recent discussion about the concept of nationality and the fact that citizens do not actually know most of the other citizens within a nation (making the definition of the nation lacking) but within the YouTube society the opportunity to know every other member at least exists. I definitely want to look into the social pyramid of YouTube, is there a social pyramid of YouTube?

A lot of the books I am using for research look at YouTube, or Internet interactions in general, as a modern day extension of society. What led to this new society, and does it have something that real world society lacks? What, exactly, are people hoping to find? It’s really interesting that people view YouTube as a way of making their voices heard, how true is this? What sort of impact does YouTube have on actual reality? Does it have any impact at all? Or is it simply an attempt to flee from a real world society that seems incapable of adequately representing everyone? Overall, I really want to look at how Marxist theory fits into the YouTube society. Do the observations made of real society hold true for the modern virtual one? In what ways? Personally, based on how things are going so far, I think Marxist theory is going to be scarily accurate for YouTube society. I’m not really certain what that means… Perhaps that a virtual recreation of society is not the best form of revolution.

Post-colonial reparations?

I was reading the last part of the section “On Violence” and as Fanon was talking about the relationship between post-colonial countries and their once colonizers, and reparations and so forth, I found myself getting angry. He has a point. The countries that once had colonies are now financially well off, and the countries that were colonies continue to be thought of as “Third World countries,” countries that need help. Can this possibly be a coincidence? I think not. There should really be some sort of system for putting money back into these countries that were used as the basis for creating this wealth that they now have no access to. And , when money is used to fix the problems in these countries, it should not be viewed as charity! This is another way of keeping these countries down. It should be viewed as helping to undo the problems that they caused. When Fanon started talking about the Holocaust, it only made me more frustrated. Why do the Europeans get reparations and the former colonies do not? My theory is there are two reasons: first of all, the former colonizers do not want to admit they were doing wrong by colonizing countries (reparation would be an admission of guilt) and secondly these European countries were viewed as properly developed, while the countries that were colonized were “undeveloped.” It’s really rude. A lot of Caribbean countries (Jamaica included) did not gain independence until the 60’s, making it a slightly more recent event than WWII. The British have already taken away Jamaican’s rights to go to Britain without a passport. They clearly feel that nothing is owed to the country…

Of course, the biggest upset is Haiti. For years it has upset me. The Haitians not only did not receive reparations, but were made to pay the French for their freedom. Starting off in debt did not help them, and it’s no wonder that Haiti is now the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. I really feel at the very least the modern equivalent of what the French took from them upon their independence should be repaid. It’s just worrisome that no one feels it is their responsibility to help. People feel they should help, as a humanitarian cause of some sort, but nobody takes responsibility. No other country seems to feel the poverty in these former colonies may be partially their fault…

The term “West Indian” and other exciting things

O.k., I am super excited about the fact that Hall is Jamaican. I am even more excited by the fact that I agreed with much of what he said. I am tickled pink by the following excerpt:

Now, the term “West Indian” is very romantic. It connotes reggae, rum-and-coke, shades, mangoes and all that canned tropical fruit-salad falling out of the coconut trees. This is an idealized “I.” (pg. 109)

Ha! It is an idealised I indeed, I too wish I feel like that more of the time. This is all phrased very entertainingly and is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, specifically how others view Jamaicans to how we view ourselves. Apart from this entertaining excerpt, there were other things I enjoyed in the reading. First of all, he talks about my question (from last week?) about how much control we have our fate. Hall basically says that while most things are controlled by the powers that are be, there are certain anomalies that cannot be explained, meaning we occasionally have free will? That’s how I like to think of it! On page 105 Hall talks about how “there is no experiencing outside of the categories of representation or ideology.” I feel this was one of the most important points of the essay and I agree with it totally. We can try to move ourselves from one ideology to another, but a world with no ideologies or representations seems impossible to me. What would that even be? This brings me back to my original point of representation. Hall was talking about race relations in Jamaica when he was a boy and I was thinking to myself, “this seems very different from how things are now.” I was pleased when Hall started talking about how it changed, particularly the concept of being Black. Jamaica was one of the starting points for the Black pride movement. As Hall pointed out, it was really a reclamation of the concept of being Black and changing what society associated with that feature. Obviously, an individual cannot change their race. The idea of being Black still exists, but the significance of the term has changed completely.

Preliminary bibliography

Ludlow, Peter, ed. Crypto anarchy, cyberstates, and pirate utopias. Cambridge, Mass.; London: MIT Press, 2001. Print.

Time & society

I, like many of the other people who have posted so far, feel somewhat overwhelmed by Althusser’s essay “Contradiction and Overdetermination.”  Every now and then I would snatch on to some nugget of an idea, but then I get lost again. I feel like he repeats some of these ideas, maybe he is trying to drive the point home? Either way, I think he gets a little too lost in the theoretical himself and tries to encompass too much in his definitions, I still have no idea what overdetermination is supposed to mean. I feel certain there is a simpler way to represent all this information. I do understand that he was trying to stress the importance of separating the logical half of theory from the mystical side of the theoretical (I think?)

On page 115 Althusser talks about time as it relates to society. This section I actually liked a lot, and I think it raised a lot of good questions. Basically what he is saying is that even after revolutions there are aspects of our past that live on with us, whether it be in our customs, habits, traditions, or something else. He definitely has a point, old habits die hard. The sort of racism and sexism that lives on in present society even though it is supposed to be taboo is astounding. I believe Althusser sees this as a good thing, maybe? There is a point where he implies the past does not hold us back because it is a part of who we are now? I suppose the question is do we only take the lessons we have learned with us from the past, or do we drag along the bad, allowing it to slow us down and foil us with the same mistakes we fell for last time?

I wonder if this inability to break with the past is part of the reason why communism did not reach the great heights Marx predicted for it? Perhaps Marx was too definite with his insistence that we have an immediate break with the present and move on to the future. Maybe he was blind to the fact that this is impossible? But is it really impossible? It is a bit of a depressing thought. Are we incapable of changing our reality? What is the point of trying to break free if nothing can be escaped? Or maybe it is a seesaw of sorts. When a tyranny is overthrown an element of rebellion, and the concept of justice for the masses, continues to live on and grown, i.e. the past surviving, until it finally comes to a boil and the rebellion takes over, while the urge for individual power continues secretly within society until it sees an opportunity to grasp power again. History and history’s repetition implies this could be true. I am not certain how I feel about this…

Control the individual for their own good?

“But culture indefatigably tries, not to make what each raw person may like the rule by which he fashions himself but to draw ever nearer to a sense of what is indeed beautiful, graceful, and becoming, and to get the raw person to like that.”

This sentence really stood out to me in “Sweetness and Light.” It’s a bold argument, and in my opinion an incorrect and stupid one. Prior to this sentence, Arnold was trying to define culture as some sort of combination, or middle ground, between religion and scientific logic. I actually liked this concept a lot. I’m not really certain if this is what I would define as culture (actually, the more I read about what ‘culture’ is the more its significance eludes me) but at the very least it seems like some sort of level of higher thought.   I’m not certain it’s possible, but if there were a way for the basic morals that lie behind mot religions and logic to coexist in one theory, I think it would be nice. While I am not certain that the religion and science concept would work in reality, I do like it in theory. However, I think the logic used in the above concept is faulty. I think this concept in a lot of ways captures the exact opposite of what marxism is aiming for. The concept of completely ignoring the individual for some sort of “greater good”? This completely trivializes the individual and implies that they have no knowledge of what is best for them. But the main problem with the concept may be, who decides what is “beautiful, graceful, and becoming?” Presumably those already in power, those already considered knowledgeable, would be granted this power. All in all, I think this single sentence captures one of Marx’s biggest, and most valid criticisms of capitalism. Ignoring the desire of the “raw individual” and trying to curve them certainly cannot led to anything good.