Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Blowing the myth of homosexual "choice" out of the water (Not a school report, by the way)

I hope this blog gets attention from fundamentalist religious folk, especially the ones who claim that homosexuality is a so-called "choice."  But before I start, let me point out that I'm not here to willingly bash religion, nor am I trying to disprove of God...instead I am here to provide little pieces of evidence, from outside sources and my personal experiences, supporting that you cannot just wake up from your bed and decide that you want to become gay.  Sure, there are straight people out there who would like to switch teams, but they are guaranteed to fail.  With that said, let us unravel the truth behind homosexuality, and why I am so adamant on convincing the small minds of the earth that it is NOT something we get to choose:

The Bible says that homosexuality is an abomination
When religious people clash with homosexuals, their biggest weakness seems to be a lack of common sense towards those they perceive as "sinners."  They decide to follow doctrines from a 2'000 year old book, rather than taking the time to actually conduct some thorough research regarding homosexuality.  But has anyone tried to ask gays if they chose their lifestyle and preference, or do they assume the bible is evident enough? I may be a straight, Anglo-Saxon male, but I have a few gay friends and every last one of them has assured me that it stems from a subconscious feeling they had at an early age, and they could not choose to be this way, no matter how hard they might try.  And I want you to think REAL hard about it: how can anyone just wake up and say "From now on, I will be attracted to my own gender!"    

Before I move on, let me provide an example of verses straight from the horses mouth: The Holy Bible.

Leviticus 20:13 - "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

This seems to state that those who commit sexual acts with their own gender is a crime that should be punishable by death.  So basically, if one were to follow the bible faithfully, then surely one must believe in this.  I'm no bible scholar, but this verse seems pretty blunt to me.

While I'm on the subject of bible verses, let me introduce another one. Ironically, this verse condones one of the most immoral acts known to mankind: Slavery. 

    However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you.  You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land.  You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance.  You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.  (Leviticus 25:44-46)

Not enough proof? Well here's another one...quite violent I might add:

    When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished.  If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.  (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

And here's one more:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear.  Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.  (Ephesians 6:5)

A little off topic, but it shows how contradictory this book can be to our society.  And if people believe that homosexuality is an abomination because the bible says so, while that same exact bible condones the use of fellow human beings as slaves, then I guess slavery is an acceptable business to partake in.  Truthfully, I find these verses very disturbing, and this is just the tip of the iceberg with what this book has to say about slavery, gays, etc.  With no pun intended, I can only express myself by using two words...Jesus Christ!

 A lot of males become gay as a result of a traumatic experience; they might have been raped in their childhood.

This was a theory from one of my friends, and in a way, he is right.  According to the Ohio Department of Health, men who are victims of rape can result in confusion regarding their sexual orientation.  But this depends solely on the reaction of the individual, as evidence suggests men may also become extremely homophobic, blaming the "gay lifestyle" over what happened to them.  And in some cases, some men are raped after realizing they were gay.  So to say that men turn gay after a traumatizing event is not verifiable enough, as there are many factors that could come into play.

Homosexuality is unnatural

This goes against EVERTHING I have explained so far.  If homosexuality is unnatural, then why does it exist in the first place? People are born with it, much like people are born black, hispanic, white, etc; it is not earned nor is it under their control to harbor these attributes.  And if our God hates the gays, then why would he make them in the first place? Isn't God the ultimate creator for life, and doesn't he determine our fate?  Or is he just a cruel God that makes people gay for his own amusement? Use some common sense people.

Conclusion

What it all boils down to is that there is a deep feeling of homophobia that is still rampant from our society, and people will go out of their way to prove that homosexuality is wrong, whether through religion or their own personal biases. Prejudice will always exist in our society, but sadly it seems homophobia is still one of the most acceptable and forgivable prejudice out there.  I have gone out of my own way to disprove the myth of people choosing to be gay.  What I think we need to do is simply let them live out their lives, whether you think it's okay to be gay or not.   

 





Sunday, December 12, 2010

With Dexter Morgan, Romance is a Killer (Final Paper)


    Jeffrey Vandenburg 
English 313
With Dexter Morgan, Romance is a Killer
            Dexter Morgan, the titular character portrayed by Michael C. Hall in the popular series Dexter, seems to be your average, every-day human being.  He works as a Blood Spatter Analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department, he is in a relationship with a woman, and he tends to charm almost everyone around him.  But this seemingly ordinary man harbors a deep and dark secret, and it would collapse the foundation of his life if it was ever revealed to the world.  Dexter Morgan is a serial killer, living by a set of standards dictating that he only kills bad people, or as he puts it; “People who deserve to die.”  Even though the main focus of the series is the life of Dexter Morgan, there is no denying that there is substantial evidence supporting the theme of radical romance found throughout.  This analysis will primarily focus on his relationship with Rita Bennett, the evolution and progression of said relationship, as well as his relationships with those he will come across in his macabre life.
            If this paper is meant to provide a detailed analysis of the relationship between Dexter and Rita, then the concept of Dexter’s self-identity and social identity should be taken into account.  According to Barker, self-identity is defined as the “verbal conceptions we hold about ourselves and our emotional identification with those self-descriptions.” Where as social identity is “the expectations and opinions that others have of us” (Barker, p. 215).  As he explains in season one of the series, Dexter Morgan has a clear perspective on himself; he claims to have no feelings, let alone the ability to love.  Ironically, the only sensational feeling he gains is when he commits murder, thus satisfying his dark cravings.  As Barker points out, the western world assumes that we “have a true self” (Barker, p. 216) and given this statement, it is clearly demonstrated that his murderous lifestyle is Dexter displaying his “true self,” and he can only reveal this self to those who he takes the knife to.  It could be made clear then, that his social identity is much more counterfeit, appearing to be the exact opposite of his true nature—a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as they say.  Bringing donuts to work every morning, treating his colleagues with respect, and his “love life” with Rita Bennett are all representations of his acculturation, as well as staving off any speculation about the protagonist.
            Other than Dexter’s “love life”, there are other factors contributing to the theme of radical romance, starting off with the main plot of season one.  The first season of Dexter revolves around the Ice Truck Killer.  The Ice Truck Killer commits murders that are strikingly similar to Dexter’s own methods and intentionally so, as he leaves cryptic clues in public or in his very own house, meant for the sole purpose of reaching out to the Blood Spatter Analyst.  The season depicts Dexter’s growing fascination with this new murderer, developing a sense of connection despite the killer’s anonymity; arguably even more so than the actual people in his life.  An obvious factor contributing to this bond would be the similarity between each other’s lifestyles and in a sense, culminating in a relationship that could be coined as “Bromance.”  This slang is a common term appealing mainly to a male heterosexual relationship in which two men have a strong friendship among each other.  Given the definition, this word could definitely apply to both of them when Dexter makes a shocking discovery about the Ice Truck Killer and his identity: his name is Brian Moser, and he is Dexter’s own long-lost brother.  They were both separated after witnessing their mother brutally murdered at a very young age; an obvious explanation to the origins behind their dark tendencies.  Feeling that he has more in common with Brian, Dexter is torn between his brother and everyone else in his life—including Rita.  With Brian Moser, he no longer has to bear the burden of pretending to be normal, yet at the same time, he wants to keep those he has known for many years—a possible indicator that this emotionless psychopath has developed a yearn for connection with the outside world. 
By making the difficult decision of murdering his brother in the end, he shows us that he chose to stay with his girlfriend, sister and colleagues, after making the realization that he is “fond of them,” the closest he can have to feeling.  He regretfully tells the audience that he chose to kill someone who “accepts [him] for what [he] is”  (Season one, Born Free).  This relationship is somewhat comparable to the friendship between Brick and his deceased friend, Skipper in the play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  When Skipper committed suicide, Brick was left devastated, driven to depression and alcoholism which is a clear sign that Brick would have rather spend more time with him, then he would his own wife and family members.  He even admits to his wife that his friendship with Skipper was “that one great true thing” Williams, p. 59).  It is prevalent that bits and pieces of radical romance exist even with non-intimate relationships; the fact that both Dexter and Brian have affection through one another by their urge to kill, and had he chose to stay with Brian, he might have had that one great true thing in his life.
It should be known that Dexter has a unique relationship with Rita, as he mentions how she is “in her own way, as damaged as [he]”  (Season one, Dexter). Despite the fact that he is using her as a human shield, there is a sense of connection that he feels with her due to her past involving her abusive ex-husband.  He even admits that he enjoys going on dates with her, as well as spending time with her kids while excluding any act of sex.  Unlike many of the male characters portrayed on TV or in the movies, Dexter was completely indifferent towards sex and conveniently, Rita does not want sex given the circumstances of her past.  This statement apparently goes against McDonald’s claim about sex as “an important, indeed defining, part of individuality” (McDonald, p. 73).  Since Dexter and Rita had established a relationship including celibacy, they cannot relate this quote with themselves, therefore sex is not considered as a defining part of their individuality…at least for the time being.  It could be argued then, that Dexter and Rita’s decision to stay celibate is an example of radical romance, if we compare this to the majority of society’s standards of the 21st century.
As mentioned earlier, this series relies heavily on the titular character’s transition from being an emotionless, hollow figure to gaining human attributes.  This is shown when Dexter and Rita’s relationship take a step further after a surprise visit to his apartment, inevitably resulting with Dexter receiving oral sex.  Through his narration, he even admits to us that this “might be better,” comparing this sex act to the relaxing evenings he spends with her and thus, providing a stepping-stone for his humanity and relationship with her.  However, he is still reluctant to further push their relationship, as he discreetly attempts to avoid consulting with her.  Ever since the blowjob, she wants to become more personable and open with him, but to no avail.  His refusal to open up goes hand in hand with Barker’s statement, regarding men and how they are “less inclined to verbalize emotions” (p. 287).  This moment in the series represents how gender roles are subconsciously carried out by displaying common traits and characteristics among males and females, even if that particular male is a killer.
Further into the season, Dexter admits to us that he “cannot” have sex with Rita. This is because every time he engages in sex, women see him for what he really is, and that is “empty” (Season 1, Shrink Wrap).  This clearly demonstrates Dexter’s unwillingness to ruin their relationship, and proves that sex can actually lead to destruction, depending on the circumstances.  For instance, on Seinfeld’s The Deal, Jerry and Elaine decide that they want to become friends with benefits by establishing a complicated set of do’s and don’ts.  Eventually, this act backfires on them, affecting their friendship with one another—at least in this particular episode.  Another example includes McDonald’s reference to the film Annie Hall, where Alvy (portrayed by Woody Allen) announces to the viewers that he and Annie broke up, thus proving that this film “confronts the realities of romance and sex from its very first scene” (McDonald, 73).   According to Freud, human beings have a sexual identity, and it “is formed through a developmental process in the context of our first relationships” (Barker, 294).  This proves that Dexter’s sexual identity is still in progress, and even though evidence suggests that sex can potentially destroy one’s relationship with another, Rita wants to stay with him after finally engaging in sexual intercourse.  It seems that it was just a manner of finding the right woman for Dexter’s sexual identity to flourish.  He even asks if he scared her after they made love, in which she responded; “There’s nothing you could do that would scare me” (Season 1, Shrink Wrap).
  The irony of Dexter’s desire to keep Rita in his life is prevalent.  His indifference towards humanity remains, but with the exception of those who are close to his life--a trait which is unusual for most serial killers.  Take the film American Psycho for instance: Patrick Bateman, as portrayed by Christian Bale, is the epitome of a psychopath.  He murders with no regard to their innocence, while engaged to someone he obviously does not care about; he lets us know that even though he contains all the physical characteristics of a human being, he does not have “a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust” (American Psycho, 2000).  
It is revealed that by the end of season one, Dexter and Rita are still together.  But as the series transcends into the second season, a thunderstorm intrudes upon their lives.  That thunderstorm is in the form of a woman named Lila. Shortly after meeting this young lady, Dexter finds that he has much more in common with her than Rita, thus putting their relationship in a compromising position.  Eventually, Dexter and Rita break up when she discovers that he did in fact had sex with Lila.  With regards to gender differences and similarities, “Men have a higher propensity to find multiple partners” (p. 287).  Despite Dexter having characteristics that would be classified as unusual to the standards of mainstream society, there is clear evidence that he also contains certain traits common with his gender: he finds sex to be a pleasurable and enjoyable act. 
When Dexter eventually cuts ties with Lila to get back with Rita, she becomes very dangerous, threatening his life and the lives of others associated with him—such as Rita’s own children.  In order to protect the safety of those in his life, he takes action which leads to the eventual death of Lila.  There are several patterns from both season one and two that are strikingly similar.  As found in the first season, Dexter has killed his own brother in order to stay with those close to him; and in the second season he kills Lila to ensure the safety of Rita and her kids.  With a guy like Dexter, one must wonder why, between those who he can be himself with, to those who he must be careful with, does he continue to choose the latter?  If he would have gone with either Brian or Lila, he could have lifted the heavy burden of keeping his dark hobbies a secret off his shoulders.  He would have been able to embrace his true self in front of them, rather than having to constantly hide in plain sight.  Perhaps somewhere deep down inside the cold reaches of his heart, there is a desire to become acculturated within general society, rather than attempting to blend in.  He has come to accept his self identity—working to balance out his dark urges while pretending to be normal, yet he wants his social identity to be more than just an imitation.  He wants it to be real.
Another fact that should be mentioned in the events that occurred would be how this season has followed the pattern of many conventional romantic comedies, but in its own way.  McDonald has outlined the structure of “Boy meets, loses girl, regains girl” (McDonald, ps.72).  Although Dexter may be laced with comic relief throughout the series, it is by no means a romantic comedy, yet this common structure is undoubtedly prevalent during the course of the show.  Dexter meets Rita, loses her, and regains her by the end of season two.
The idea of a serial killer being a parent is usually frowned upon in today’s society, and this issue is addressed as we head on our way to season three.  As we witness Dexter and Rita rekindle their relationship after the events from season two, they are now more sexually active than ever.  But their sexual adventures are soon put on hold when Rita makes a life changing announcement to Dexter: she is pregnant. 
Dexter now has more on his plate than he could ever imagine in his bizarre life: he is about to be a father, and if that isn’t enough pressure for our beloved serial killer, plans for marriage is under discussion.  It appears that Dexter’s love life is radical in more ways than we had thought; by impregnating Rita out of wed-lock, they have gone against the social norm and expectation that couples should get married before having children.  This ideal was heavily discussed during the Knocked Up presentation in class.  Knocked Up is a film, centering on slacker Ben Stone and media-personality Alison Scott.  The two meet at a party and after getting drunk, the pair ends up having sex, thus resulting in Alison’s pregnancy.  The ideal of marriage-before-children was pushed when Alison’s sister advised her own kids that they need to get married first.  In their own special set of circumstances, Dexter and Ben are similar characters with regards to parenthood.  They are both seemingly unfit to take on the role of a father due to their questionable lifestyles, which also brings up concerns with how their child will end up once he or she progresses in age.  Dexter even contemplates on abandoning Rita, and when he consults to her about his doubts of being a good father, she reminds him that “The baby comes first,” followed by a punch to his shoulder over her perceived stupidity towards him. 
The season concludes with Dexter and Rita’s wedding; once again following the tried and true convention of many romantic comedies before, as the newlywed couple engages in slow dancing, leaving the viewers blissfully convinced that they will from now on live happily ever after.  But as season three draws to a close, we can see his own blood dripping down on the back of Rita’s wedding gown—a cut he received prior to their wedding.  Depending on one’s interpretation, the blood may be a symbolic indicator, foreshadowing a shape of things to come in Dexter’s life. 
The very fact that he is now married provides the series’ audience with feelings of uncertainty, now that he has to be even more cautious towards his secret life.  He consults to his next victim during the very first episode, debating to himself over whether or not he can “have it all” (Season 4, Living the Dream).  According to McDonald’s analysis of the classic film The Graduate, “Ben and Elaine’s silence on the bus suggests there will be life after the happy ever after, but it may involve the couple splitting up” (McDonald, p. 63).  A similar situation may be applied to Dexter and Rita, and we can only speculate on the many outcomes that might occur in their lives: maybe Rita will find out about her husband’s true nature and exposes him to the public.  Perhaps the couple will split up due to Rita’s suspicion over Dexter’s late night errands.  Maybe their new life will result in the death of a family member.  We as viewers are helpless; we can do nothing but sit back and watch as their lives unfold.
   An important theme occurring throughout the fourth season deals with Dexter trying to balance out his family life while satisfying his dark cravings.  He has now been hurled into unfamiliar territory: suburban life.  As the first episode of the fourth season depicts, they have become the embodiment of an average American family.  According to Barker, “Men are commonly held to be more ‘naturally domineering, hierarchally oriented and power-hungry, while women are seen as nurturing, child-rearing and domestically inclined.”  This statement correlates with the lives of Dexter and Rita from the very first episode: Dexter goes to work, while Rita stays at home to take care of the kids.  Common gender roles are played out as this season progresses, often displaying little scenarios such as Rita handing her husband a cup of coffee before work. 
Dexter experiences an internal struggle; he wants to be a good husband and father while satisfying his “Dark Passenger,” the label he gives for his urge to kill.  To add even more to the weight he carries, a new serial killer is in town--the “Trinity Killer,” as coined by the Miami Police Department.  The Trinity Killer, or Arthur Mitchell as society knows him as, has been secretly committing murder for over thirty years.  As Dexter conducts his own investigation on this new terror, he learns more about the notorious serial killer, and the results are shocking: he is married and has two children—a lifestyle much like our beloved protagonist.
            As Dexter gets closer to nabbing Arthur Mitchell, he begins to understand how jeopardizing it could be to maintain a family while harboring a dark secret.  His pursuit for Trinity ends with severe consequences; as he finally kills him, Dexter arrives home shortly afterword to find his wife dead in a pool of her own blood.  The shocking finale to the fourth season reinforces McDonald’s concept that there is life after the “happy ever after” (McDonald, p. 63).  Devastated over the death of his wife, Dexter will have an even greater struggle as a single father, while trying to control his Dark Passenger.  Rita was an important figure in the serial killer’s life; she had unwittingly opened many new doors for him, providing a link to his humanity.
          
            Given the amount of information provided regarding Dexter and Rita’s relationship, there is a substantial amount of evidence supporting the concept of radical romance.  The contents displayed here only provided a sample of how radical romance seeps itself in this series, and it was only Dexter whose love life that was being focused on.  There are other characters who are depicted in radically romantic situations as well—including Debora unknowingly having an affair with the Ice Truck Killer, or the newly found relationship between Detectives Angel Batista and Maria Laguerta—colleagues of Dexter.  But to provide details with every character’s love life would have made this paper a little too complex, and Dexter’s life is already complex enough.  However, to only narrow this analysis on just one season would be extremely difficult to do, because what makes this show so radical is not only the fact that Dexter is a husband, father, and a serial killer all wrapped into one, but rather his evolution as a human being, and the universal traits that most human beings carry.        

   

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Guy 1: "Hey man, wanna hang?" Guy 2: "Sure, where?" Guy 1: "Online, where else dude?"

Society has undoubtedly witnessed a dramatic rise in technology that has changed the course of history throughout the years.  It has affected both our personal, social, and even our academic lives.  You want proof? You're looking at it right now, eyes bouncing off each digital word onto the next; unaware that this is actually one of my school assignments.  I'm used to writing journal entries on a pen and paper, but now my journal entries occur here, thanks to my professor (Not intended to be a negative comment).  This is just a sample of how technology easily seeps into our lives.  The digital media is fast, growing, and contains information that is easily accessible with just a click away.  Take Wikipedia for instance: You wanna know about the history of Thanksgiving? Type it up on Wikipedia, and you'll get hundreds of articles related to this festive holiday.  You no longer need to visit the library for research when you've got your own digital library in your living room.  The idea of the digital media reigning supreme over old-school resources (Books, libraries, etc.) draws comparison to Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451.  Bradbury depicts a dystopian society where firemen hunt for any books they can find, and burn them.  This is without a doubt a commentary on the dangers of technological advances, and although books have not been banished, it certainly seems that we are headed towards a similar society.


Now, let me take a piece of my personal life and how technology has affected me.  When I first got the Xbox 360, I would play my games from time to time.  But when a friend of mine introduced me to Xbox Live, gaming became a whole different ballgame for me.  For several months the majority of my social life occurred in front of the television, controller in my hands and talking with my friends through a headphone.  Asa Berger, as mentioned by Barker, theorizes that video games is "associated with social isolation, violence, and addiction." (Barker, p. 360)  Asa continues by pointing out that gamers are "part of a larger gaming community but envisions it only as a virtual network lacking the authenticity of a real community." (p. 360). I do not agree with Berger that video games can lead to physical violence; I believe it is the mental stability of the kids who play these games that causes violence to occur.  I do agree, however, that gaming can cause people to become detached from their social lives, thus falling under the trap of addiction. These theories are ones I can vouch for, as I found that the more I started playing Xbox Live, the more my social life in the outside world started to deteriorate; even my grades began to make a slow plummet.  Fortunately, I am not on it as often, but only occasionally.  If Bradbury's prediction is correct, then we might also be headed towards a world where people would rather stay in their homes for socialization, making it more common than the chore of going outside to drive to your best friend's house.


I must admit that I am a sucker for technology, and my jaw drops everytime I witness another progression, often feeling envious over others and their luxury of owning something so advanced, e.g. an iphone.  But I speculate that if we are not careful, then our society may go down a certain path for the worse.





 

Ray Bradbury on Fahrenheit 451 inspiration

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Picking Bateman's Brain

To add more depth to my previous blog regarding the film American Psycho, why is it that our protagonist, Patrick Bateman, spends much of his time strolling the streets of New York City (seemingly) killing innocent people?  What is his motive for doing such an act? Is it to satisfy some kind of crave, or is it just an extra curricular activity of his?  But most importantly, what goes on in that head of his? Let me provide a few theories...

First off, I think we could all agree that Patrick is one who loves to have control, power, and order.  Whether he is taking the axe to his fellow co-worker, or showing off the text of his business card, it is clearly shown that he constantly wants to be in control.  A scene that clearly demonstrates my theory would be when he takes another woman (not his fiance) out to dinner.  She is drugged, thus making her delusional.  He convinces her that they are at Dorsias (the hotspot which is frequently mentioned throughout the film, and a restaurant where it's extremely difficult to get a reservation), when it is clearly shown that they are not.  Taking advantage of her state of mind, he tells her exactly what she will order, and she obliges.  This very scene I found to be an example of Foucault's argument regarding the subject of discourse, stating that "bodies are subject to the regulatory power of discourse by which they become subjects for themselves and others." (Barker, p. 93).  So if this was connected to the dinner date between Bateman and what's-her-name mentioned above, then it is clearly shown that the woman is the subject, and Patrick is twisting this very subject for his own desires.

Let us now look at his other, more sinister activities, specifically the scene where he takes out an axe to hack away at Paul Allen, his colleague, out of sheer jealousy.  After chopping him up to bits, he finally regains a sense of control, eliminating his competition.  He is jealous and disgusted towards Paul because of several shallow factors, such as having a more expensive apartment than Patrick.  Not only do these scenes provide examples of power and control, they also display a sense of identity with Patrick.  The embodiment of the yuppie stereotype, Patrick is privileged, toned, and sophisticated, wanting no one to be above his standards.  He even tells his fiance at one point that he "wants to fit in."  He wants to build around himself a social identity that is perfect to the point where no one would see his true self.  In this regard, one could argue that his identity is anti-essentialist, which is, according to Barker, "The idea that identity is plastic." (Barker, 217).  In this sense, it is Patrick Bateman whose outside persona is "plastic," hiding behind a mask that is often threatened by those who make him feel inadequate. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Seinfeld Withdrawl

You know that feeling you get when you finally finish a project you've been slaving over for about a week or two? That strong exhalation of breath you make when you realize you no longer have to deal with such a big project. That was the feeling my group and I had after completing our presentation devoted to Seinfeld, and I'm pretty sure that we are all tired of watching the wild antics of these four friends...at least for now.  Overall, I think our presentation went really well.  I think the way we introduced our presentation was very clever, and it definitely gave us an edge. Basically, it was a stand-up routine imitating Jerry Seinfeld performed and written by yours truly.  After that, we began our discussions.  There were some brilliant points that were brought up, as well as some very specific ties to the Barker book. I would have to give major kudos to Rachelle and Sandy, who were basically the ones to lead our presentation, and keeping the flow of what we were discussing.  In my opinion, "The Deal" was the most successful episode we analyzed, as we engaged in the topic of sex, friends with benefits; there was a strong connection to this them and McDonald's book  "The Beard" was also another good episode we discussed, challenging the concept of homosexuality and whether it is a "choice" or not, as it was vaguely brought up through Jerry and Elaine arguing.  "Romantic Comedy," going on about sex having barriers, and only to find that it does not work out in the end. We made sure to ask questions, challenging the students in our class, and they brought up some really good points related to our subject.  As I mentioned, our presentation went very well, and I have to admit that even though I had a good time with my partners, I am relieved that it is finally over!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Political Satire...With Strings Attached

There are a few things I would never expect in a college-level classroom...and one of them would be watching Team America: World Police, and then critiquing and analyzing the potential "connections" it may have concerning our American culture.  Now after watching it, thanks to our professor Wexler, I have come to realize that this silly little puppet movie may actually have some meaning behind it.  At first, we took a look at the beginning of the film, where the middle eastern terrorists were planning to bomb Paris, only to be thwarted by Team America, our heroes. The terrorists were portrayed as the embodiment of the middle eastern stereotype: white robes, turbans, and beards covering half their face. One could argue that this film depicts Muslims from a subjective standpoint, and that in our post-911 society, it may be common to view them in this way.  The way this film depicts America, however, is no exception. Even the film's title is based off of criticism from other nations, viewing the US as one trying to "Police the world."  The beginning of the film clearly demonstrates how Team America were more destructive than helping--knocking down the Eiffel Tower to kill just one terrorist. One could also argue that there are ties between this and Barker concerning social identity, specifically meaning: how others view us, or how we now view Muslims. Of course, I could be wrong, and this is just a silly movie with marionettes.  But we cannot deny that the satire is eminent.