What Pandora Taught Me This Week: Caffeine, Work, and the American Way

November 19, 2009

Move over Oprah, I now have an electronic computer program to teach me life-lessons. Well, at least I did this morning.

Earlier today, I was listing to Pandora Radio and working on homework when this song, “Stress” by Jim’s Big Ego, came up on my playlist (not with the Disney men, of course, but this was a best version I could find on youtube–plus, it’s mashed up pretty well):

I enjoyed the song a lot (thanks Pandora), because I thought (along with a super-catchy melody) that it was a really well put together parody of how capitalism encourages people to live their lives.

The first half of the song talks about our cultural dependency on caffeine.

I’m tryin’ to cut down on my caffeine,
So when I get up
I just have one cup of coffee
And I’d like to have another cup of coffee with my breakfast.
And on the way to work, I like to get a cup of coffee.
And I like the kind of coffee you get with a doughnut
So when I get a doughnut, I get a cup of coffee.
And when I get to work I like to have a cup of coffee
Cuz I like to have coffee when I’m talkin’ on the phone.
And when it get’s a little cold I like to have another cup of coffee.
And when it’s lunch, I have an expresso.

As a student approaching looming final deadlines and completing graduate school applications, I identified with this part of the song heavily. The amount of caffeine consumed in America is a huge amount, I think we can look to the success of Starbucks as proof of that. We have a cultural dependency on caffeine, one we are socialized into. Coffee shops are appropriate hot spots for dates, wifi, and meetings–and most college campuses are equipped with more than one in the surrounding area.

How have YOU been socialized into caffeine? How many of your parents drink coffee? Do you watch Friends (coffee shop = vital part of the show)? Do you go to coffee shops? How about soda? Do you agree with me that we have a cultural dependency on caffeine? Why or why not?

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Soc Club Event!

November 9, 2009

Meet us at 8:30 on Tuesday at the Honors Cottage!

The UNI Sociology Club will be meeting Tuesday, November 10 at 8:30 at the Honors Cottage. While there, we will discuss Adam Yuet Chau’s article “Drinking Games, Karaoke Songs, and Yangee Dances: Youth Cultural Production in Rural China.” If you would like to read this article before hand, it is available through UNI’s library website . After a discussion, we will head to The Hub (18 year-olds, bring your college ID, cover is free) to perform participant observation at a live Karaoke event.

Questions? Contact Natalie Turner at turnern@uni.edu

Edward Who?

November 9, 2009


That is the number of days until New Moon comes out.

What does this mean sociologically?

In the months leading up to the release of this movie, we have seen the media attempt to sway the hearts of millions of fan girls and boys away from Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), and towards Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). The young Taylor Lautner, age 17, has had his shirtless body plastered everywhere. If you haven’t seen it yet, go to any local convenience store and glance at the magazine racks, I’m sure you’ll find it.

Taylor, a seventeen year-old and thus a minor, has been allowed to be sexy with little to no scrutiny from the media. A few years ago, however, Miley Cyrus’s cover of Vanity Fair (pictured above) caused a media frenzy, which claimed the photo shoot was too sexy for still-underage Miley, more recently, Miley has bee scrutinized for brief “poll dancing” choreography at the Teen Choice Awards. Awhile back, many blogs noticed this, and discussed the gendered nature of the situation. What do you think? Why is it okay in our society for Taylor to be sexy but not okay for Miley? Is it still a repercussion of the “angel in the house” mentality from the Victorian period?

The weeks leading up to Twilight: New Moon have also brought us something I LOVE–seriously, I enjoy them so much it’s kind of embarrassing. They’re Twilight spoofs. Whether homemade or corporately produced, I really enjoy these cultural artifacts. Such as this one, staring Taylor Swift, from Saturday Night Live:

One thing I enjoy about this sketch is that it shows how, in our society, it is okay to be attracted to some types of monsters, but not to others. This is of course, not something Stephanie Meyer invented, indeed, Dracula himself seduced women. What do you think? Do you think popular culture will ever see a (non-campy) sexy version of Frankenstein monster? What about a sexy mummy? Other than women’s Halloween costumes, I cannot think of any examples, and a quick google images search confirmed this for me. Why are humans allowed to be attracted to vampires and werewolves, and yet not to mummies or monsters? Does it have to do with how we value wealth, as vampires are often very rich? What do you think? What is the social hierarchy for monsters?



Why You Should THINK Before Making a Sign

November 3, 2009

I stumbled upon this image on the web today. The sign on the left was a real sign used at an Obama protest. This sign is a perfect example of why understanding society matters. Not getting into politics at all, the comparison between American taxpayers under the Obama administration to the massive amount of Jews murdered during the Holocaust makes this man appear to be extremely ignorant, and makes the sign seem very offensive. I like the edit that has been done to this picture, because it shows that by being ignorant of social history can greatly distort your message. This man’s anti-Obama message is not what sticks in the viewers head, it is instead the message that sticks is the man’s ignorance of world history. It just goes to show that just because something is attention-grabbing, doesn’t mean it is effective.

Discuss. What do you think?

my post about not posting and other random things.

November 2, 2009

Sorry about the lack of posts lately, I have a draft of my undergraduate honors thesis due today, and…. well, it’s kind of absorbed all my time as of late. Plus it was Halloween. Not that I’m making excuses, well, actually, yes I am making excuses, that’s actually exactly what I’m doing…. So… here goes. It’s going to be random, and you aren’t going to have to read much, kind of like a Mitchell Davis Video.

I thought this picture was interesting because I have frequently heard about how gendered the Disney princesses are, but I have not as frequently heard about the over-the-top stereotypes embedded in the Disney princes. Aside from Aladdin, who is the only lead character of the group, I feel as if any one of these princes could replace each other. What do you think? How are they stereotyped? How do these images affect children? Are more recent children’s heroes any better?   (image found via Heartless Doll)

Yes, this picture is what you think it is. Someone has created kink-wear for toddlers. It’s disturbing and it’s weird. In my discussion of it, I want to do little more than to quote Andrea Grimes and proclaim “I quit life.” The story originally came from Carnal San Francisco, who speculated that it may not ever be for sale, but simply be an artistic piece, the question they posted was “have we reached the edge of edgy?” and he concluded with this, “I am going to pose this question to test your true lefty liberal backbone: If a parent dresses a toddler in fetish wear, is it consensual? Discuss.”

And this last video is a Russian child, I think he is 5 years old, who is very strong. He weight trains. What do you think? Do you think this is unhealthy? What does this say about our cultures fascination with athleticism?

That’s it for now. I hope you enjoy, please discuss any of the articles below if you so chose, or not, but–at least think about them. How do these images affect us? How do we socialize children? Why is the socialization of children important? Why does is matter? Does it matter?

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