(by Meredith and Win)
Dr. Seaman started off the class by announcing that the next two weeks of 4th hour will be individual conferences discussing Project 2.
We then moved into the new topic of “How We Watch.” In Acting Out Culture we looked at the introduction to this new section (100-103). Miller, in his introduction, explained that we as people are being trained to watch. He first discusses reality TV as a prime example. We as a class discussed that people do not like reality TV because of the fact that it is not real. On the other hand, those who like reality TV like it because it is completely over-the-top and entertaining. From this, we transitioned into the idea that images make us view selectively and teaches us to value certain things; an example of this is a luxary car commercial, which promotes the idea of wanting to be in control and have no worries. The class came to the conclusion that our value systems are altered from advertising.
Also, as part of class discussion, we talked about the advertisements from Super Bowl Sunday, only this time we evaluated the ads the way Miller would evaluate them. Most of the ads promoted men and women to drink beer. It targets men to be cool and beer brings hot women; for women, they should be attracted to men who drink. We then went into the key point of that advertising and reality TV are becoming our reality; when we watch these things, we accept it and there is an unconscious shift to TV.
We moved on to discussing the essay, “Watching Torture in Prime Time” by Anne-Marie Cusac (138-141). The main subject of the essay is the hit show 24. This show has a lot of torture elements and scenes to the show. Cusac argues that it is unfair to choose between hurting people or saving a city, and with that, it starts the unconscious shift of believing that torture is the only way to go. By accepting this, we normalize it and as a class we connected it to our discussion of “what is normal?”
We also discussed movies and how they make us think about what we do in their situation. The question was then brought up that is it possible that we are seeing what we as the audience wants to see or rather seeing what the producers give us. As a class, we agreed that we as the audience are not at fault but the producers are. Cusac’s main claim is that the more we are overseeing this and let violence slide under the radar, democracy goes away and the government has more power. We as a class deduced that Cusac actually enjoys the show 24 and is a bit guilty for liking it.
Dr. Seaman briefly described Project 2 on analyzing a visual text. Then for 4th hour we headed to the library to learn more on how we as students can use the library.
The class began off to a bang with a discussion about pictures that evoked or portrayed emotion. The first picture we as a class discussed was one of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton during the last election campaign. The picture revealed a rivalry between the two as Clinton was in mid speech while now current President Obama looks down on Clinton preparing to make his rebuttal. We noted about how if this picture had been taken now while they both reside in office it would not look good to the public. We then took a look at a picture of Sarah Palin and another politician showing the two from the chest up. They were both smiling and laughing with their eyes closed and as we stated in class it appeared flirtatious. The third picture was a photoshopped picture containing President Obama vs. Senator McCain made to look like heavyweights being weighed in before a fight. Making the two look buff at the weigh in is a symbol of the competition about to ensnare politically. Neither candidate is portrayed as showing a weakness to their opponent and are shown in equal lights.
Then we looked at some analytical papers discussing the picture containing Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. We read three in class and each response served to drive home different purposes to the reader. Some were more descriptive while some were more analytical. The main point we discussed to keep in mind about analyzing pictures is purpose.
During the 2nd half of class we transitioned to the article assigned: “Frames of Reference” by Michael Eric Dyson. We went on to discuss the media and how it was not useful during the aftermath of Katrina. The big example we went over in class dealt with two particular captions in which both reveal the necessity and will to provide for oneself. In one picture there is a young boy carrying a black garbage bag of supplies and in the caption it states “A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans.” (170). The other image shows what looks to be a white couple and for their caption it states “Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda.” (171). It is easy to see the difference between the two captions there is a distinction between the two words finding and looting. We discussed that this type of media may not be deliberate but society tends to assumes the worst. We all seemed to think that the media should have been covering the devastation as first priority. We even talked about how the media made it out to look like over twenty five people had been killed in the Superdome when it was more close to like one or two. We finished with the point that Katrina was a terrible thing to have happened to the Gulf Coast but New Orleans was already a frequent victim of crime before Katrina, and the hurricane just brought New Orleans into the media that much more.
Normalize: to make something seem so normal that people become unaware of it
“Rarely in my days has fictional television seemed so entwined with our national political life.” –Cusac, 138
Preview of Week 6
(by Dr. Seaman)
This week we begin our first round of individual conferences to discuss your work on Project 2, and your writing in general. These occur in my office, at the time each of you signed up for (available here on the Schedule tab). We won’t be meeting as a group for Fourth Hour this week, as a result.
In class Tuesday we will discuss Johnson’s essay “Unspeakable Conversations” from Acting Out Culture. We have talked about watching TV, watching news coverage (written and televisual), and are now moving to how we look at–not just “watch”–those who are in one way or another at the margins of society. Johnson lived in Charleston until her recent death, and she was a fixture on the CofC campus. Her essay raises a number of important, intriguing, and difficult questions. Be prepared to state what you think it is she wants her essay to “do” to her readers.
On Tuesday we will discuss further the distinctions between description and analysis, which we noted in Thursday’s discussion of the three different written responses to the image of Obama and Clinton during the CNN interview in 2008. You should pay particular attention to such distinctions while you produce your draft of Project 2.
The Draft of Project 2 is due on Thursday at 3:30 in OAKS; you will bring two print copies of your draft to class for some peer review activity, which will have a different direction than did the first peer review, for Project 1.