I’ll be Drinking Pepsi at my Super Bowl Party!

February 4, 2010

Oh, lets face it, I probably won’t have a Super Bowl party. Might have watched if the Vikings had made it though.

Nonetheless, I will be drinking Pepsi on February 7, and probably for some time after–and not just because UNI is a Pepsi campus.

Pepsi is doing something revolutionary for the brand–instead of sinking millions of dollars into Super Bowl advertisements, they will not but running a campaign during this year’s Super Bowl, but are instead working on a viral campaign using social networking. Why this is so awesome? Personally, I have a love for viral advertising, but, what is WAY MORE IMPORTANT, is that the campaign plans to give away $20,000,000 in grant money away to organizations which do good things for the community/world, in six different categories–health, arts and culture, food and shelter, the planet, neighborhoods and education. Further yet, they want the consumers of their product to be involved in selecting what projects receive grants–both allowing users to submit ideas/suggestions as well as vote one what projects they like best (hint: this is where the social networking part I talked about earlier comes in). It’s kind of like American Idol but awesome. They will be giving our 32 grants a month. In order to become involved, visit www.refresheverything.com.

As someone who has always felt kind of uncomfortable with the amount of money our culture sinks into entertainment (I mean, Avatar was a movie that was pretty to look at, but imagine what else could have happened with $300,000,000?), I was really excited to hear about this move from Pepsi. For years, Pepsi has been a leader in advertising campaigns and has become an incredibly successful brand. If this move is successful, I would be surprised if other companies don’t follow in their footsteps.

Which is why, for the next while of my soda-drinking career, I will be choosing Pepsi, in hopes that a campaign with a good cause can last. It sure is refreshing to see one.

What do you think? Am I too optimistic? Do you think something like this could be successful?

Source: Yahoo!

Colonization in Avatar

December 21, 2009


Tonight I agreed to go with some people to Avatar in 3D. Before going to see the movie, I was pretty unaware of what it was about. I had passed over much of the press that was surrounding the film, blissfully unaware of everything dealing with other than that it was a movie James Cameron had been working on for nearly a decade, it was primarily CGI, and it was science fiction. Now, I am loathe to pass up a scifi movie (I have sat through both Jumper–painfully terrible–and D War: Dragon Wars–so bad it is hilarious–on opening weekend), so it took little coaxing to get me to go.

Preface aside: the movie was beautiful. The CGI was stunning. The scifi environment was beyond belief (which is a good thing). The storyline was wonderful; its plot was somewhere between Ferngully and Starship Troopers. And, if this were strictly a movie review I would give it 4 ½ out of 5 stars. But this is more than that; this is a critical analysis of the social issues at play within the film. This analysis will appear after the jump, and I warn you that there are spoilers, I will try to keep them to a minimum but in discussing a movie it is difficult to forego a focus upon its plot. So, here goes: Read the rest of this entry »

Twenty-First Century Genocide? It Could Happen in Uganda

December 14, 2009

I wasn’t originally planning on writing anything this week, as it’s finals week here at the University of Northern Iowa, however, I then read the scariest piece of news I’ve read in a long time.

In Uganda, there is a proposed law which would call for the execution of all homosexuals and AIDS patients. Citizens would also be imprisoned for knowing, but not reporting, homosexuals or defending gay rights in public. Further, the proposed law would be “an extraditable offense; any Ugandan even suspected of being gay could be extradited back to Uganda and punished” (Huffington Post).

Over the past month, many human rights organizations and fellow nations have spoken out against the bill, stating that it even discussing it makes a mockery of all the work that has been done in Uganda to gain human rights. Unfortunately, “it’s unlikely that pressure from other countries, even those providing development dollars, will make substantial impact on the law thus far. The bill’s author, David Bahati, of the ruling National Resistance Movement party, has been quoted as saying, ‘We cannot exchange our dignity for money'”(Huffington Post).

The fact that this kind of hate exists makes me so sad. It’s terrifying.

What can we do to help?

I’m not sure. I’m trying to start by spreading the message, and letting people know what’s going on. So please, post this article to your blog or facebook or twitter or email it out to family and friends.

Hate still exists. Discrimination still exists. Genocide could happen.

We have to be able to accept that before we can move on and take action. Then, maybe you can join or donate to Amnesty International or one of these other human rights organizations.

What are your thoughts? How can we work to create a world with less hate?

Required to be Thin: Discrimination in the Name of “Health”

December 4, 2009

Lincoln University in Pennsylvania has added a new, unusual requirement for its students. In order to graduate from the academic institution, students must either have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of below 30 or they must take an additional fitness class which is not required by the student body’s thinner population. This extra course could increase time (and thus money) spent at the University for obese students.

And beyond that, the BMI isn’t even an accurate tool for measuring health or fitness practices. Some people eat very unhealthily and don’t exercise often, but have a fast metabolism, and thus would have a low BMI because the BMI only takes into account two variables–weight and height. The BMI does not take into account muscle mass, which makes me wonder, will student athletes be subject to the new ruling? After a quick look at their football roster, I have found multiple players with a BMI over 30. Furthermore, the school attacks those who are obese, and subjugates them to different treatment than those who are thin, but fails to address fitness problems such as eating disorders, yo-yo dieting, or over-exercising–all of which are unhealthy, yet are problems that may exist within bodies that “look healthy.”

Basically, I find the whole thing very unsettling. What do you think? Discuss.

Some celebrities and their BMIs. Looks like Sylvester Stallone would have to take an extra course if he went to Lincoln.

What Are You Reading? Why Does it Matter?

November 30, 2009

What are you reading (for fun)?

Earlier this month, Publishers Weekly published it’s “Best Books of 2009” list. All 10 of the authors are men. All but 2 of the authors are white and are from Western nations. The magazine noticed the gendered-nature of the list but stuck by their decisions. Feminist organizations responded negatively to the list, and Women in Letters and Literary Arts (WILLA), published their own list of great literary works by women in 2009.

Reading about the inequality of the Publishers Weekly list made me want to look at the books I’m currently reading, and look to see if I have a gendered or racialized tendancies in what I chose to read for fun (academic books are excluded from this list). I have the tendency to read a ton of books at one time, so, this should work fairly well. I’m including reviews and descriptions of the books I’m reading as well, just for fun.

1. Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
Harris is a white woman from Arkansas. (1951-present)
Booklist Review:

Sookie Stackhouse is having man trouble. Her vampire boyfriend, Bill, has been distant and inattentive lately. Then he announces that he is going on a business trip, which clearly is more than it seems. After a werewolf tries to abduct Sookie at work, Bill’s boss, Eric, tells her that Bill fell under the sway of his–Bill’s, that is–ex, a sexy vamp named Lorena, and has been kidnapped. Eric wants Sookie’s help in getting Bill back, and despite her hurt over Bill’s betrayal, Sookie agrees to go to Jackson, Mississippi, to find her wayward lover. Eric has persuaded Alcide, a dashing werewolf, to get Sookie access to Josephine’s, aka Club Dead, the local hangout of Jackson’s supernatural element. In between dodging kidnappers, the advances of amorous Eric, and her growing feelings for Alcide, Sookie has to find out who kidnapped Bill and figure out a way to rescue him. With some droll touches–Elvis, now a vampire, is Sookie’s faithful guard —Club Dead is ideal for readers who like their vampire fiction light, humorous, and fast-paced.

2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Larsson was a white Swedish journalist. (1954-2004)
Amason.com Review:

Once you start The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, there’s no turning back. This debut thriller–the first in a trilogy from the late Stieg Larsson–is a serious page-turner rivaling the best of Charlie Huston and Michael Connelly. Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch–and there’s always a catch–is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson’s novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don’t want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dinner, Movie and Intolerance

November 23, 2009

This Saturday afternoon, I thought I would have relaxing night, as I had just come home for the beginning of Thanksgiving break. I met up with a friend and we decided to take a small road trip to celebrate with dinner and a movie, but what we intended to be a lighthearted evening was soon ruined by a $2.00 children’s film. It’s hard to find a theatre that doesn’t charge $8.00 for a movie in this day and age, so when we heard of this nearby theatre we knew that we would be entering a different world when we got into town. “The Twilight Zone” is the only way we could describe our experiences in this small town, as we sat down and awaited our movie to start. “Planet 51”, a movie targeted towards children seemed harmless enough, but as we watched this movie, who’s moral is about accepting others, no matter how different (seeing as it is about aliens), we found it making surprising amounts of homophobic jokes and the gender stereotypes going through the roof. To get an idea of the movie, here’s the trailer…

Chuck, the “alien” from earth, is the butt of many homophobic jokes as soon as he lands on this planet, and even before. In preparation for an alien invasion, one of the teenage aged children develops a preventative measure for himself and Lem, the other main character, which is a cork- so when the alien arrives it is unable to use its “probe” on them. As soon as Chuck has met Lem, they introduce one another, and as soon as Lem tells his name Chuck says, “Either your name is Lem…or that means that you want to mate with me.” Whether or not you find these jokes offensive, the pure unnecessary nature of them, along with more penis references then I care to mention, honestly made us uncomfortable to be in this theatre. I won’t even get into the gender stereotypes and chauvinistic nature of this film, but I want to know what everyone else thinks. Do you think we made a bigger deal than needed about this? As most kids probably don’t realize what kind of messages they’re also getting when they see these films, how do you think it affects the way they grow up and are acquainted with certain ideas before they have their own opinion? Or do you think it shapes them at all?

If you’re home over the Holidays and have younger family or siblings, do NOT miss out on an opportunity to see this– I want to hear all about your thoughts.

Cultural Object of the Week: The Tampon Stun Gun

November 19, 2009

Yep, you read that correctly, there is a stun gun that exists that is shaped like a couple of tampons.

The Pink Stinger

The stun gun, named “The Pink Stinger,” was created for women who wish to carry a stun gun, but do so discreetly. It as 50,000 volts of power.

My initial response to this object was “awesome.” However, having thought about it a little bit more, I’m not quite sure how I feel about it, other than that it certainly is interesting.

What do you think of the tampon stun gun?

Is it taking a women’s product and making is powerful, thus empowering women? Or, is it reinforcing negative stereotypes of women being “crazy” while menstruating? It openly acknowledges the fact that women are more likely than men to be the consumers who purchase stun guns, which opens up discussion about rape, sexual assault, and gender.


Source:Inventor Spot