Sunday, May 22, 2016

What Makes the Most Interesting Man in the World so Interesting?

     One ad campaign I've always found intriguing and funny is the Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man in the World" series of advertisements. The ads depict an older man who is smooth, robust, and quite interesting. He offers several one liners throughout his ads that attract attention to the company, but I am going to focus on the techniques used in the below print ad. The first thing I noticed was the way the black leather, table, and suit were contrasted against the amber background. Black is considered luxurious and edgy, and so the comparison made is that the amber (which resembles the beer itself) is associated with the defined and luxurious look of the print. This idea is summed up nicely by the bit of black that subtly rests in parts of the amber. In addition, the bottles of Dos Equis are contrasted against the dark background so that they stand out. The man holds a cigar in his hand which speaks to the rugged and classy nature of the most interesting man in the world's persona. Two women gaze adoringly at the man while he stares out at you, giving the idea that "all this could be you"if you drink Dos Equis. This idea that you can become a more interesting and sexy person by drinking Dos Equis is an example of simple solutions. It also touches on our need for autonomy as text calls items such as mild salsa and khaki pants boring. Mild salsa in this ad has a connotation of playing it safe because you cant handle the heat and khaki pants are targeted because most males own khaki pants. What this ad is saying is that by drinking Dos Equis you can also become a less ordinary and unexciting person, which plays off the need for autonomy. Overall the luxurious look of the characters, the lighting, the use of an over simplified solution, and the message that we can be less ordinary is how Dos Equis appeals to consumers through this ad.

The Effect of Media in Gaining Attention and Creating "Role Models"

          One of the subtle but serious roles media plays in the world today is influencing who we look up to and how we view them. Certain celebrities and other recognized faces can either have their image glorified or weakened through the way they are portrayed in the various media outlets. This  commonly occurs with memes, parody accounts, and award shows. All three of the aformentioned means of changing ones image grant the person they depict one thing whether the person is praised or criticized: attention. The funny thing about attention is that people will intentionally be absurd or dramatic just to gain attention because regardless of whether attention is negative or positive, you still get attention.
          As of late, I have noticed that political memes have had large popularity in media, most notably twitter. There have been memes for Hillary, Bernie, and Trump that have all used their influence to depict a candidate as being a certain way. The memes for Hillary and Bernie contrasted the two, with Bernie being regarded as more hip and humorous and Hillary being shown as more of an outdated and serious person. In that sense, the memes glorify Bernie for his "cool factor" and poke at Hillary for being more of a "lame and outdated" candidate. These type of memes were extremely popular for quite some time, yet its interesting to note that Hillary has done much better than Bernie and is in position to claim the Democratic nod. To me this emphasizes the idea that even negative attention can help get a person gain popularity, as attention often correlates with popularity. This is also emphasized through the depiction of Donald Trump in media. From what Ive seen, memes and parody accounts have attacked his reputation for being not all that intelligent, being racist, and his appearance. All these things one would say are negative depictions of Trump, and because they are shown in a way that is open to all people who use such media sites, you might expect they may have a large affect on how other view Trump. These sites have not really seemed to have an effect, and if anything they have done something to gain him popularity. The only way I can understand this is that by making humor and giving a lot of attention to Trump, his name has been spread farther and people have associated humor with Trump. If not that, people have been able to identify with his message because it has been spread so far through people attempting to make fun of him or criticize him. Trump often uses this technique of being overly absorb or dramatic to gain attention because he knows that that will crate a buzz around his name, its just kind of ridiculous to me that even a negative buzz can produce positive results.
         In a similar way, awards are given to certain people and that award can influence the way they are perceived. The most notable example of this Caitlyn Jenner, a recipient of of 2015 Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Jenner was praised for her bold transition from a male to a female, and the courage she displayed in doing so. Although i have the upmost respect for Caitlyn and her decision to do what made her most comfortable, I do not believe we should be giving out awards to those for a single decision regarding their life. Its things like this that show people to glorify big names and celebrities even if they are undeserving of such an award. The only difference between Jenner and all the other people who have the courage to do what she did is that Jenner is a celebrity and may face a bit more criticism. But I guess thats grounds for a major award now a days. These type of instances take away from those who have worked hard to become recognized for the award without having the benefit of being a well known. What ends up happening is the same names keep circulating around and people learn to look to those people, even if there are much better people we could be recognizing. Oh well.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Role of Violence in the World of Media

               Everyday we spend entangled in the wide reaching web of media, we are exposed to some level of violence. Whether is a over done action film that has cars blowing up or a twitter vine of someone injuring someone else, violence in all forms has become heavily integrated into our society. That being said, I am left to wonder what forms of violent exposure are most responsive and how the desensitization of our society toward violence has and will have an effect on this world.
              Violence in media has reached a point now where its hard for people to even see that smaller forms of violent exposure are still prevalent. This is likely due in large part to the fact that now a days there are so many ways intense violence reaches us through media. Violent video games, especially first person shooter games, glorify violence and war and are extremely popular everywhere around the world. Games such as Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Halo all are centered around violent conquests or missions and what is especially concerning is that more and more children are playing these games from a young age. The question that I have then is what effect may a game that graphically simulates a battlefield and war have on a young mind? When I was eight years old seeing an R rated movie with some violence was one of the coolest things imaginable. Now eight year olds  can put themselves behind the gun, and they equate that violent experience with the positive rush of playing a video game. How might this increased expose effect the new generation?

            Beyond the obvious forms of violence we are exposed to such as films and video games, there are more subtle violent exposures that we may not even realize. For instance, twitter and other social media forums promote bullying and videos that feature violent confrontations or disputes can often find their way into your feed. These forms of violence are things we can gloss over or even take humor in if the violent action does not come in the form of an aggressive act. For example a video of a friend tripping one of their friends as a prank. This is a violent action that could hurt the person but when put on social media people justify the action as being a prank, and in doing so desensitize their mind to that kind of violent action. News stations both on the radio and televisions are also constantly spewing information about violent news or actions, so much so that people no longer have such a large reaction to news of violence or to extreme instances of real world violence. All this violence being crammed down our throats constantly has to affect the ay we view violence both in the real world and outside of reality. The question I have is when and how might we see the effect of this desensitization toward violence?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Disappointing Recreation of the Jungle Book

            What could be more cool that a high quality movie where animals talk and human actors stand side by side with digital images. The new Jungle Book movie grabbed my interest immediately when I saw trailers for the film for that exact reason. I imagined the movie would not only be a masterpiece in regards to effects, but I was also intrigued by how the film might put a new spin on an old story. I had seen the old jungle book movie when I was young and I had always liked it. It excited me to follow Mowgli and his daring escape from Shere Khan. Mowgli's easy going companion, Baloo, was my favorite character as a child and the prospect of seeing how he was portrayed in the new film held some influence in my descsion to go see the movie.

            The effects were stunning as I had imagined them to be and I was very impressed by how naturally real actors and digitally produced images coexisted in the film. The film also meant some expectations of mine that were not necessarily as positive as the CGI effects. The movie centered heavily on the violent rages and plots of Shere Khan, the tiger who wants to eat Mowgli, which is something I figured would be more prevelant considering the public obsession with anger and violence in films. I also predicted that the film would follow a lot less of a clear story line and that it would emphasize smaller aspects of the film rather than the story as a whole. For example, after finishing the movie I did not feel like there had been a clear story line that had been followed and then resolved, it was a bit more all over the place. One thing that disappointed me is that Baloo, my childhood favorite, was portrayed as a greedy and manipulative bear who desired the companionship with Mowgli to satisfy his own laziness and desires. In the original movie, Baloo was more of a sincere character who stuck with Mowgli because he had a general concern for him. All in all, the film made me feel wowed by its visual excitement, but unsatisfied with its recreation of the great animated film. The ending did not really seem like a well thought out solution and the interpretation was stale for the standpoint of someone who fell in love with the story as a kid. It seems as though thats the trend of movie now a days; make it as violent and visually appealing as possible and you don't have to have a good story or thought out plot. Its just a shame that Jungle Book had to fall under that category of films, especially considering the greatness of the original film.

The Struggle of Life Without a Cell Phone

                Recently while at Pyramid Lake in Nevada, my phone got wet and stopped working. This freaked me out at first because I have never broken a phone before and I knew it would be a little bit of time before I could get my phone replaced. Now, I use my phone quite a bit but I in no way consider myself to be "dependent" on my phone. Still, the knowledge that I would not have access to social media or my music for some time scared me. My phone is how I stay in touch with the vast world around me and being table to use my phone gives me a sense of security in knowing I am connected and can simply turn on my phone whenever i desire to know something or I just want to kill some time. Not having a phone also complicates communications between me and my friends or my family which was also something I was not looking forward to.

               That was over a week ago when I broke my phone and I currently am still without a cellphone. The one thing that has surprised me is how easy it has been for the most part to go without a phone. Slipping my hand in my pocket to grab my phone had almost become a reflex when I had my phone and now that I don't have that access, I have spent a lot more time reflecting as opposed to just occupying my mind. Not having a phone has also forced me to be more active and social, as I can no longer remove myself in the way I could when I did have a phone. The lack of time spent watching a screen has also allowed me to realize just how much I used my phone and depended on it from a mental standpoint. When I had a functioning phone i would listen to music and probe the wide variety of information on social media habitually without much consideration as to how much time I spent doing those things and what I was missing because of that. Not having a phone has allowed me some perspective on how my use of media was becoming a bit of over-use.

            The main changes that have resulted from not having a phone is that I have been forced to communicate more frequently with others face to face and that I have had to just sit and be with myself a lot more. With a phone, I could avoid social interactions that did not necessarily appeal to me because I could pop ear buds in or just look busy on my phone. Not having those means of escape has meant that I have had to be more social with people, at school and not at school. I have also had to spend a lot more time my own head and think about things as a result of not having a phone. Our tendency is to occupy our minds so that we are never alone even when we are. We can always listen to music or check what others are doing on snapchat when we are alone, and in that sense we distract ourselves from having to have nothing to visualize or hear. In this last week, I have had to spend a lot more time truly alone and I have become a bit more conscience of my feeling and thoughts because i can't allude them like I could when i had a phone. Overall, this has been an interesting experience for me and one that allows me to see just how much media and quick access to it has had an effect on my life. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Mystery of the Brotein Shake- Geico Commercial

Image result for geico commercial lifting weights

While watching a show on the discovery channel, this commercial came on. Of course i had seen the commercial previously, but i had never really stopped to consider how it was trying to appeal to the general population or the manner in which it communicated that message. The commercial depicts a man who progressively gets more and more muscular as the camera shifts away from him and then back to him. This visually represents the main idea of the ad which happens to be "more." The interesting thing I saw in the commercial is that it in no way justified its claims for how it would bring more savings and more options. It says that Geico Insurance would bring a customer more savings and more options, however besides the mention that Geico has RV and motorcycle insurance it offers no explanation as to how Geico will get you "more." In addition, the ad uses bits of information about Geico sandwiched in between puns about lifting and the term "bro" to keep the interest of a viewer and to associate the commercial with a funny experience. Puns such as "brotato chip," "Teddy Brosovelt," and "brotein shake" trigger an emotional response from the viewer. The purpose of this is to ensure that people remember the commercial and hopefully buy their insurance. Another device used in the commercial is the appeal to someone who wants to be more muscular or is insecure about their body because the man in the commercial who "knows about more" is the one who is muscular while the man who is less informed is relatively slender in build. To someone who might desire a more muscular body, this gives the message that Geico and getting ripped might somehow be correlated. How exactly, I have no clue. The last style I took away from the ad is the blatant appeal to men. The "bro" puns and men lifting weights clearly appeal mostly to men, and so by tailoring the commercial to men Geico would hope that more men buy their insurance. This may be a reflection of the stereotype that men handle the finances of the family and decide something like which insurance may be best.

"Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley

"Don't worry about a thing
'Cause every little thing gonna be alright
Singing' "Don't worry about a thing
'Cause every little thing gonna be alright!"
Rise up this mornin'
Smiled with the risin' sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Saying', ("This is my message to you")

Singing' "Don't worry 'bout a thing
'Cause every little thing gonna be alright."
Singing' "Don't worry (don't worry) 'bout a thing
'Cause every little thing gonna be alright!"

Media is a very powerful medium, so much so that it can influence our moods over the course of just one song or television show. Bob Marley's song "Three Little Birds" is one of my favorite songs because whenever I listen to it, it never fails to have a profound effect on my mood. The melody of the song and its lyrics pick you up when you are down and make you feel a bit better even when you aren't necessarily in a bad mood. The message of letting go of your worries often speaks to me when I am under a lot of stress or just have a whole lot on my mind. The song serves as a reminder that even when you have a lot weighing on you, a positive mentality makes rough moments bearable. To me, it also is trying to say that having a negative mentality or just giving in to your worries doesn't ultimately serve you any good. Problems remain no matter how you view them, so you might as well face them with an attitude that will not weigh you down or make the challenges you face, whatever they may be, seem like something to be feared. This is why I enjoy this song so much, the message is a broad statement of positivity so that no matter what situation you are in, it can still speak to you and its themes still have meaning. That way you can interpret its message into whatever best helps you in that situation. 
On top of the overall message of positivity, the lyrics "Smiled with the rising sun. Three little birds, pitch by my doorstep..." remind me that nature and its creatures are a part of what makes our world so great. The idea that nature contributes to a happy or positive outlook speaks to me because I enjoy being out in nature and experiencing what the natural world has in store. Whether it be hiking in the mountains or fishing a creek, the message of a co-existence with the natural world is significant to me. The message of peacefulness with nature is another reason I enjoy the song.