Cultural Object of the Week: Goodbye Makeup, Hello LED Eyelashes

October 28, 2009

I am so excited about this cultural object.  Japanese designer Soomi Park has created the weirdest thing I’ve seen in awhile–LED eyelashes. They were created in order create the illusion of bigger eyes, a trait many Asian women would like to have, according to Park.

There is some speculation that they LED eyelashes were created to spark social commentary on marketing towards very specific demographics.

What do you think they say about our cultural fascination with certain traits? Do you think they are a realistic fashion trend? Do you think you can see while you’re wearing them?

I expect to see Lady Gaga wearing them sometime soon.

Sources: Gizmodo, FashionTechnology

No One Called: A Highschool Girl got Raped at her Homecoming Dance

October 27, 2009

This isn’t a story with a happy ending. This past Saturday night, a fifteen-year-old girl was brutally gang raped by as many as seven young men. She was raped, beaten, and sexually assaulted for two and a half hours. She was so badly beaten that she was flown from the scene in critical condition.

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the ordeal is that no one reported it. Instead, about 15 males actually stood around watching it. Jezebel explains why this makes it so much worse,

At first I thought this was a Kitty Genovese situation, in which indifferent bystanders failed to help a crime victim. In fact, it’s worse. CNN’s Nick Valencia writes that, “as many as 15 people, all males, stood around watching the assault, but did not call police or help the victim.” Gagan adds, “As people announced over time that this was going on, more people came to see, and some actually participated.” This isn’t a case of people turning their heads away and saying “none of my business.” It’s a situation in which 15 boys and men (one suspect in custody is 19, the other 15) treating public, brutal assault as a form of entertainment.

Anyone who went to a big, rough high school has seen this happen with a fight — everybody in the school rushes to the scene, cheering, booing, and even joining in as kids beat each other up. This practice is bad enough, exposing teen bloodlust and lack of compassion, but adding sexual assault to the mix makes the onlookers’ situation all the more heinous. That all said onlookers were male seems important here — were they so afraid of having their masculinity questioned that they couldn’t say anything? Or, more disturbingly, were they enthusiastic about the event, participating, however vicariously, in some kind of conquest? Whatever the case, not one, not two, but fifteen young men watched a gang-rape take place and essentially chose to side with the rapists — as Yes Means Yes would say, “that’s rape culture.”

Obviously, a terrible thing happened. How can we change out culture so that people DO report rape when they see it happening?

Sources: Jezebel, LA Times, and MSNBC

Tweet Your Heart Out… unless you’re a celebrity.

October 27, 2009

Celebrities and talent attached to companies such as Dream Works and Disney have recently been slammed with a “Fail Whale,” not from Twitter, but from their companies, which have asked them to sign contracts promising not to tweet (aka post) things that could tarnish their image. Twitter is an online micro-blogging social networking site which has come to fame due largely to many celebrities who are active users–including people like Oprah, Ashton Kutcher, John Mayer, and many others. While some companies are limiting what their talent talked about on Twitter, other companies, such as ABC, ask their talent to tweet regularly in order to generate “buzz” for their projects (source: CeBIT )

What do you think of Twitter? Do you think companies should be able to control what their employees tweet about? Have social networking sites changed the way we socialize? If so, how?

Why Miley Cyrus doesn’t tweet anymore:

Senate Passes Hate Crimes Bill

October 23, 2009

The US Senate has passed a hate crimes bill that, if signed by President Obama, will “make it a federal crime to assault an individual because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.”  Obama has promised to sign the bill, which Joe Solmonese (President of the Human Rights Campaign) has called “our nation’s first major piece of civil rights legislation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.” The bill is named for Matthew Shepard, who was beaten and killed for being gay,  and James Byrd Jr, and African-American who was dragged to death–both occurred in 1998.

CNN reported that earlier this month,

Obama told the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest gay rights group, that the nation still needs to make significant changes to ensure equal rights for gays and lesbians.”Despite the progress we’ve made, there are still laws to change and hearts to open,” he said during his address at the dinner for the Human Rights Campaign. “This fight continues now, and I’m here with the simple message: I’m here with you in that fight.”Among other things, Obama has called for the repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. He also has urged Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and pass the Domestic Partners Benefit and Obligations Act.

Hopefully this legislation is the first of many new bills which provide equality for all.

What are your thoughts?

:( Hulu won’t be free in 2010

October 22, 2009

Hulu, a site whose slogan once read “Watch your favorites. Anytime. For Free,” is going to be axing that last part in 2010, as they plan to start charging a subscription for its viewers.

Today, an Entertainment Weekly News Brief stated

At an industry summit in NYC on Oct. 21, New Corp Deputy Chairman Chase Carey revealed that online video hub Hulu will begin charging users for content as soon as 2010, according to Broadcasting and Cable. Carey told reporters that a subscription system is likely, although some content will probably continue to be offered free of charge. “I think a free model is a very difficult way to capture the value of our content. I think what we need to do is deliver that content to consumers in a way where they will appreciate the value,” he said.

I understand Hulu wants to make more money, but I’m just curious if there is a market for it. Netflix already offers a large selection in their instant queue for a monthly subscription, commercial free. Furthermore, many broadcasting stations already offer internet streaming after the episode has aired, very similar to Hulu presently, with commercials.

I love Hulu for exactly what its slogan says it offers–it has a very large selection, I can watch it anytime, and it is free. Cutting out the “free” cuts out a large reason why I enjoy it. As a college student with a busy schedule, Hulu has provided me with the opportunity to watch new shows or continue watching shows I love, even when they were at the same time as a scheduled class or meeting. Hulu being free allowed me to enjoy it more than illegal streaming sites or Netflix, because I could watch it without feeling guilty, both because I wasn’t watching it illegally and because I didn’t spend any money to do so.

What do you think? Do you think it’s fair they charge a subscription? Do you use sites like Netflix or Hulu? How have these entertainment sites changed our society’s leisure practices?

Cultural Object of the Week: Geeky Drinks

October 22, 2009

Hey all, this is going to be a quick one, because I have class soon… But as I was doing my morning blog reading (kind of like how some people read the newspaper, I suppose… most of the blogs I read are listed on the right), I came across a post by Topless Robot about new mugs that World of Warcraft is coming out with for its 11 million+ active players to buy. Anyway, it reminded me of a few other drinks for geeks I’ve seen over the past couple months, including these.

Blood Energy Potion: this one is trendy because it “nice” vampires are very cool right now. By “nice” I mean vampires that don’t eat people. With this energy drink you can pretend to BE one of those vampires, as it comes in an IV bag. So, if you like Twilight, Buffy, or Tru Blood, this may be for you. It tastes like fruit punch.

Oh, and if you don’t like that, you can buy Official Tru Blood, that’s right, because we live in a society where if you want to drink fake blood, you have options.

Dungeons and Dragons Jones Soda: I have to preface this with, I think this  is awesome. Marketed toward DnD players (and probably others who play RPGs, such as World of Warcraft), geeks can now buy drinks such as “sneak attack” or “healing potion.”

What do you think about these items as cultural objects? What do they say about our society’s interest in fantasy/horror/fiction? Do we market things like this toward mainstream culture, or do novelty drinks remain only in geek-marketing territory?

Illegal and Racist! But it Happened Anyway: Interracial Couple Denied Marriage License

October 16, 2009

Gay Rights March--Our Marriage Was OnceIn Louisiana this week, Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay were denied their right to marry by justice of the peace Keith Bardwell because they are an interracial couple (she is white and he is black). Bardwell stated that he would not marry the couple because he was afraid for the children the union may create, because he has come to the conclusion that interracial children are not accepted by either black or white culture. Bardwell said that he’s not a racist, BUT he “just [doesn’t] believe in mixing the races that way.”

Humphrey and McKay are not the first interracial couple he has refused to marry, as he told reporters that every time someone calls on him to marry them he first asks if they are a mixed race couple, if they are, he refuses to sign their license, estimating that he has refused to marry about four couples in his career. By doing this, he was breaking the law, as the Louisiana “Supreme Court ruled in 1967 that ‘the government cannot tell people who they can and cannot marry.'” The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana has gotten involved, asking for the Louisiana Judiciary Committee to investigate Bardwell’s case, looking for “the most severe sanctions available.”

What do you think? Are you surprised to see this still happening 40 years after the Civil Rights movement?

I was surprised, though upon thinking about it, it’s not that surprising–I know that racism still exists in the United States, and I know the nation doesn’t provide marriage rights to everyone (last weekend there was a National Equality March for that very reason… 20 Best Signs Here).

Source: Yahoo! News

Whaaa? A New Study about The Pill in “Trends in Ecology and Evolution”

October 13, 2009

Published in the current issue of Trends in Ecology and Evolution, I recently came across this study when @feliciaday (geek/actress) tweeted about it. Basically, it says that women on the pill are more likely to be attracted to provider-types (good dads) than aggressive men (good genes). It also states that men are less attracted to women on the pill, with research based on a study which measured sexual attractiveness by the amount of tips a woman received after giving a lap dance. I know I’m being somewhat biased in the retelling of the study, so PLEASE read the full article here, I’m curious what other sociologists think. Here are a few questions I have

1. Birth control is most frequently used in developed nations, why does the author think non-agressive genes are weaker? What do you think?

2. Does studying the amount of tips earned from a lap dance really display how birth control use affects your attractiveness? I feel like there could be a lot of variables there, what do you think?

3. What do you think of the pill in general?

“It’s all about Sociology, Not Technology”

October 12, 2009

Last Spring, Bruce Nussbaum, a blogger for Business Week, wrote that what technology companies needed to start using sociology for innovating new ideas and marketing strategies for their products, instead of technology.

View the Article Here

He specifically states that Apple is a company that has done this, while Google has not. While I’m not going to choose sides on that debate, I found his argument that in order to successfully understand what consumers want, you must have a firm understanding of social systems and culture. This has become particularly important in our globalized economy. Perhaps more importantly (especially to me, as I’m a senior unsure about my future), this post made me think about how I can use my sociological education beyond the classroom, and perhaps how I can market myself as someone a company would want to hire.

What do you think? Do you think technology needs sociology?