Sunday, December 6, 2009
Michael Mullen Jr
Traditions, Festivals, and Holidays of the Czech Republic
There are many cultures that I am fascinated with but none has touched me in a way more profoundly than the culture and country of the Czech Republic. My girlfriend being born and raised within this country, she has told me over the near two year length of our relationship, of the different traditions, holidays, and foods of her homeland and how much they mean to her. Having a new fascination for the country that I am sure I will be visiting in the not too distant future, I decided to compose this paper in honor and recognition of the Czech Republic and the new found intrigue surrounding it. Their country is nestled in the “heart of Europe” surrounded by the countries of Germany, Poland, Slovakia, and Austria. The country was more than likely founded around the 5’th Century A.D. by Slavic tribes that settled themselves in the regions of Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. This is the heart and soul from which small tribes gave birth to a country of rich history, classic European diversity, and a well known traditions, festivals, foods, and beer. But it was not without its struggles to achieve the status in which it has today.
Brief Czech Historical Summary
We now know that in the 5’th century the Slavic tribes settled themselves within the regions of Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. So what had happened since then that has developed their country into what it is today? Well the Czechs founded the kingdom of Bohemia and the Premyslide dynasty, which ruled Bohemia and Moravia from the 10th to the 16th century. One of the Bohemian kings, Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, made Prague an imperial capital and a center of Latin scholarship. The Hussite movement founded by Jan Hus (1369?–1415) linked the Slavs to the Reformation and revived Czech nationalism, previously under German domination. A Hapsburg, Ferdinand I, ascended the throne in 1526, however the Czechs rebelled in 1618, precipitating the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). Defeated in 1620, they were ruled for the next 300 years as part of the Austrian empire under full occupation. Full independence from the Hapsburgs was not achieved until the end of World War I, following the collapse of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
A union of the Czech lands and Slovakia was proclaimed in Prague on Nov. 14, 1918, and the Czech nation became one of the two component parts of the newly formed Czechoslovakian state. In March 1939, German troops occupied Czechoslovakia, and Czech Bohemia and Moravia became German protectorates for the duration of World War II. The former government returned in April 1945 when the war ended and the country's pre-1938 boundaries were restored. When elections were held in 1946, Communists became the dominant political party and gained control of the Czechoslovakian government in 1948. Thereafter, the former democracy was turned into a Soviet-style state.
Nearly 42 years of Communist rule ended with the nearly bloodless “velvet revolution” in 1989. Václav Havel, a leading playwright and dissident, was elected president of Czechoslovakia in 1989. Havel, imprisoned twice by the Communist regime and his plays banned, became an international symbol for human rights, democracy, and peaceful dissent. The return of democratic political reform saw a strong Slovak nationalist movement emerge by the end of 1991, which sought independence for Slovakia. When the general elections of June 1992 failed to resolve the continuing coexistence of the two republics within the federation, Czech and Slovak political leaders agreed to separate their states into two fully independent nations. On Jan. 1, 1993, the Czechoslovakian federation was dissolved and two separate independent countries were established—the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Czech Republic joined NATO in March 1999.
President Václav Havel left office in Feb. 2003, after 13 years as president. Over the years, Havel lost some of his immense popularity with the Czechs, who became disenchanted with his failings as a political leader. But internationally Havel has remained a massive figure of moral authority and courage. In March, Václav Klaus became the Czech Republic's second president. A conservative economist, he and Havel often clashed. In May 2004, the Czech Republic joined the EU. After an inconclusive election in June 2006, the political deadlock was broken in August, with rightist Mirek Topolánek appointed prime minister. His government resigned in October, after losing a no-confidence vote. He formed another government in January 2007. A year later, Topolánek's government narrowly survived another no-confidence vote. While the Czech Republic held a six-month rotating term as President of the EU, the government collapsed and Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek resigned after his center-right government lost a parliamentary vote of confidence in March 2009. (infoplease.com, 2009)
It is clear that the Czech Republic has had its times of troubles and struggles. It is a peaceful country, with a loving and tight-knit family structure, and non-violent tendencies which is why, I believe, it was a country ripe with prospect to conquer and occupy. Much of its history has been under the influence of ruling countries, political Communism, and the iron fists of Europe’s warring past. However I maintain that through the intense struggles these people had to endure, the family traditions became extremely important to them and their identities. So much so, that even today these traditions are passed on and practiced within the many village communities located throughout the country. While Western Culture has prevailed in making a permanent residence within the capital city of Prague, suggesting a slight movement away from the old traditions, it seems clear that the old traditions are still extremely relevant and practiced with passion and remembrance.
There is also an extremely strong presence of the Czech culture located in Chicago, IL of the United States where many of these traditions and festivals are celebrated in America. So much so that one of the best governors Chicago ever had was the Czech citizen Anton Cermak who is forever hailed by the local Czech community as a strong, good, and moral leader who has become immortalized in everything from museums to streets bearing his name. However it is the traditions that I would like to begin to focus on and hope to shed some light on them to honor Czech Republic and its culture. This paper will be focused on only a handful of major holidays and festivals, but will hopefully inspire others to look into this truly rich culture.
A Traditional Czech Christmas
The Czech Christmas season begins with Advent four weeks before the 25th. St. Nicholas, who visits each village on the 6th accompanied by an angel and devil to symbolize the opposition between good and evil, provides another sign of Christmas' approach. The Christmas season is traditionally a time for fortune telling in the Czech Republic. On December 4th, St. Barbara's Day, people cut branches from cherry or morrello trees. They are placed in a warm corner in the hopes that they will bloom by Christmas Eve, a sign that the family will enjoy good fortune in the coming year. The shapes seen inside apple cores or those created by pouring hot lead into water were also thought to prophesize the major events of the next year. The three days from the 24th to the 26th are a time of family closeness and religious reflection for many Christians in the Czech Republic.
Those without close family members are often invited to join their neighbors in their celebrations, provided that no table has an odd number seated around it, as odd numbers on Christmas Eve are thought to bring bad luck. Nativity scenes in all sizes from miniature to larger than life models are set up in churches and in homes. In contrast to the more somber celebrations of Christmas, New Year's Eve festivities are extremely animated. Some people throw rowdy parties and others some have more gentle gatherings in restaurants, but almost everyone spends the evening of Silvester, December 31st, with friends celebrating the close of the holiday season. The typical food enjoyed on Christmas day would be a hearty thick soup often made of fish, a fried fish which is typically a carp, a traditional Christmas potato salad, with the entire meal garnished with many different kinds of sweet biscuits that was prepared in the days before-hand, and finished with a traditional hot apple strudel for dessert. (Holiday Traditions: Czech Republic, 2009)
Traditional Czech Easter
Easter in Czech Republic is known by the traditional name of 'Velikonoce'. Easter celebration in the country is a collage of colorful traditions and folk customs, dating back to pre-Christian times. Most of the traditions indigenous to the country are largely observed in villages and small towns. With the passing time, they have lost the symbolism and are now performed mainly for fun. Nonetheless, Easter is one of the prominent festivals in Czech Republic and calls for full fledged celebrations
In Czech Republic, the traditional name for Easter Monday is 'Whipping Monday', because on this day, the village boys symbolically 'whip' girls on the legs and buttocks. Young, live 'pussy willow' twigs are thought to bring a health and youth to anyone who is whipped with them. This braided homemade whip is called the 'Easter pomlázka'. While whipping the girl, the boy would recite an Easter carol or poem, usually asking for an egg or two. The girl would reward the boy with a painted egg or candy then offered a snack or drink (typically beer or wine) and tie a ribbon around his pomlázka. This tradition is still followed in many parts of Czech Republic.
Decoration of Easter eggs is one of the popular traditions associated with the celebration of the festival in Czech Republic. Hand-painted or decorated eggs (kraslice) are the most recognizable symbol of Easter in all of Europe. Different materials including bee's wax, straw, watercolors, onion peels, stickers are used to decorate the eggs. As a part of the traditions, young girls decorate Easter eggs to give them as presents to boys, on Easter Monday. Easter Sunday (Nedele velikonocní) is a day of preparations for Easter Monday. While the girls are occupied with painting, coloring and decorating eggs, boys prepare their pomlázkas. A nationwide Easter egg contest is held in Prague and other Czech cities around Easter time.
On Easter, people in Czech Republic eat delicious sweet delicacies that are prepared especially for the festival. Usually, traditional Czech Republic recipes are made for the ceremonious occasion. Czechs eat a type of coffee bread called 'Babovka'. 'Mazanec' is another special Easter food, which is a yeast-raised cake filled with almonds, raisins and citron. A cross is cut into the top of the cake, just before it goes into the oven. Easter gingerbread, Easter Ram Cake, Judas Cake, 'God’s Mercy' (a type of doughnut sprinkled with sugar) are some more of the traditional sweet snacks served on Easter Sunday. (iloveindia.com, 2009)
The End of Winter, and the Burning of Witches
April 30 is "pálení čarodějnic" ("burning of the witches") or "čarodějnice" in the Czech Republic Czechs gather to build a bonfire and prepare an effigy of the witch that kept winter around so long. Czechs used to believe that the power of witches would weaken as the weather got warmer. So they thought that if they made something that looked like a witch and burned it, they could finally get rid of the cold weather. First, they tie two large sticks together to form a cross. Then they stuff old shirts, pants and socks with straw and place a pointed hat on the top of the stack. The witch is tied to a broomstick and set aside until darkness falls. When the fire is roaring, people roast sausages on sticks, strum guitars, and sing their favorite songs. Everyone looks forward to nightfall, when they will face the spirits of the witches. As soon as it's dark, the effigy of the witch is brought out and held up for all to see. Then, with a heave of the arm, it is thrown on top of the bonfire. As the witch burns, so does the last of winter's chill. (Chudoba, 2009)
Name Day Celebration
Ever feel like a birthday is not enough? Want more reasons to celebrate your existence on this wonderful word? Well why no discover over 365 Czech names that are part of the Czech calendar! In the Czech Republic, every day of the year is someone's name day ("svátek" or "jmeniny" in Czech - the latter is more formal). It is a reason to celebrate, wish the person a Happy Name Day, and buy a little present, like flowers and a box of chocolates. However always remember to never give anyone an even number of flowers! Such bouquets are used at funerals. The number should be an odd number such as 1, 3, 5, etc. The typical food eaten when more formally celebrated is any type of prepared chicken, rolls, and vegetables (primarily potatoes) along with beer or wine. (Czech Name Days, 2009)
It is amazing to me that despite being worlds apart, the traditions celebrated in the Czech Republic have striking similarities between them and ours in the United States. However to them the holidays typically take on a different form unique to their culture and heritage. In this day and age it is encouraging to see unique traditions to help celebrate the diversity and differences that make each of our country’s unique and special to our hearts. This uniqueness is only amplified since I am involved in a relationship with someone of this culture and I owe her my respect and gratitude for teaching me the folk customs of her homeland, bringing Czech a little closer to me and injecting her culture into my own family. I hope that this paper has given the reader a small taste to the treasures that await within the Czech Republic and encourages them to explore the cultural uniqueness within.
Friday, December 4, 2009
This is a very interesting article since it is something that I have been thinking about for a long time with my own personal interest. I have been debating for a long time whether or not to pick up my own copy of an Amazon Kindle due to the extremely attractive ideas of owning an Ebook machine. There is something luring about owning a machine that can let me store many books onto it, the portability, adjustable easy-to-read fonts, built in dictionary for words that are not understood for instantaneous understanding, the durability of the “book” never having to face breaking bindings or folding pages, they have wi-fi support, automatically download popular daily newspapers, it is back lit, and can read to me in an auditable voice what the book says if I am driving or otherwise distracted from physically holding the device. All of these things are only going to vastly improve as time goes on but this calls into question, What about paperback books?
Sam Kleinman, the writer for this article, clearly thins that while the overwhelmingly cool features of an Ebook device are certainly alluring; they are still no match for a physical paper-made book in your hands for several reasons. As his article states books are “long from extinct”. First and foremost, a paper-made book is still the most widely and easily accessible source of information in the entire world. From libraries, to coffee shops, to book stores, no matter where you go magazines, books, and newspapers are still the traditional and easily accessible formats of reading. Secondly, no matter how technologically advanced we become, not everyone will be on the same page (if you will pardon the pun) as everyone else. With Ebooks you need to know how to transfer files, how to store them properly, and how to back them up. Not to mention know how to use the device itself. This automatically cuts a chunk of the population from easily enjoying the Ebook experience where as all they need it literacy to pick up and enjoy a good book. Another noticeable mention is that books are collector’s items. There is still a sense of pride for those who own first editions/first copies of books and they are still greatly valued. For another there is no comparison (in his eyes) for ink printed text on a page versus the digital text on a screen. He feels no matter how many improvements are made to the devices there is something that stands out better with ink and paper than on text on screen.
So where many people may fear that the Ebook may completely eliminate the paper-made reading experiences from our daily lives, there are many who feel exactly the opposite. Ebook technology is new, it’s not widely accessible, and it will take a very long time for it to establish itself as a dominant source of reading that super cedes over paper-made reading. However the future remains bright for Ebooks, as it continues to get more and more popular. It is no doubt of mine that it will become a challenge for paper-made reading in the distant future, but for now books and magazines can find comfort on their bookshelves knowing that they are still the #1 source of information and enjoyment accessible by the entire world.
I am a huge user and advocate for Skype. I can look (and listen) in pride and happiness as my girlfriend, who came from and grew up in the Czech Republic, can talk and see her parents for free using this program. With the world of communication shrinking and the Global Village becoming a reality years ago (thanks to Internet) we are finding many ways to communicate cheaper and easier than ever before. One such ways is through the program Skype. It allows you to not only quickly make a voice call with better quality than that of a telephone, but it also grants you to see each other via the use of webcams, as well as granting you the ability to transfer files, play games, etc all at the same time for FREE! That last word is one of the biggest reasons why this program has been sought after for years and why, despite some legal hiccups here and there, it has come out on top as one of the best ways to communicate; and average consumers are not the only people to have recognized this. It is becoming much more relevant in businesses as well.
Stefan Öberg makes this case in his article Skype for Business where an increasing number of business owners and employees use the Skype program on a regular basis and the numbers don’t lie. 95% of businesses say they are saving money, 80% say they are seeing increased productivity, 70% say they are using it while traveling for business and 62% say they communicate better with customers using it. These numbers are only expected to grow as time goes on and it’s not without wonder: it’s a free, clean, small, powerful communication tool widely accessible with anyone with internet, a computer, and a simple headset (or webcam if you want video).
Its my personal opinion that in time, the preferred way of communicating over the internet will not be typing but by voice/picture communication. It’s already happening with the ability to attach voice messages, pictures, or video in emails. Even popular programs such as AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, and ICQ are trying to directly compete with Skype by offering their services with voice and video. With so much interest on these programs and the voice/video services (especially being free) we may start to see a crumbling of the telephone industry and if they are not careful and do not embrace the internet as a source of communication that they can benefit from they may find themselves in the same situation as the newspapers are facing these days. It’s only a matter of time, and popularity…
Thursday, December 3, 2009
WE ARE ALMOST DONE!!!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
This was a very interesting article about the drastic changes that CBS’ band of radio station going to replace the old NYC K-Rock radio station with their own station in efforts to attract the younger generation. In the article senior vice president of CBS Radio division stated that “… CBS Radio offers something for everyone in the market-including young adults who are using the radio to discover today’s most popular music.” However there is a fundamental flaw in this type of reasoning as the article continues to talk about, and that all centers on the use of the Internet. It seems that not only young adults are getting their music information and “fixes” from the internet sources (Pandora, iTunes, YouTube, and BitTorrents) but adults and seniors are catching on to the methods as well. This raises the question of if Radio has already started the dangerous slope downward into oblivion. Will internet-fueled programs be the future of radio communications? It certainly appears to be heading in that direction, and radio isn’t the only victim in the fall out. Television, news, communication, and archiving all seem to have been affected greatly by the Internet. However as the article expresses, its not so much the Internet being the CAUSE of the destabilization of these emdia sources but the lack of EMBRACING the internet as a fundamental delivery system. K-Rock, after losing its biggest selling show The Howard Stern Show, quickly started to decline. Several offers were made to them to merge with Satellite or Internet Radio programs but their flat our denial earned them a one way ticket of cancelation with the birth of CBS’ Radio station taking its place. However CBS has also stated it will not focus its efforts on Internet rather; try to give people an alternative method of listening to music without having to rely on the internet. I have a feeling however, that any who don’t embrace the internet are doomed to failure. Ignorance isn’t always bliss it turns out…
Convergance of media IS happening.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I know that not all cultures or families have ties to this holiday. Many families are broken or close. Many cultures do not recognize this holiday since it is an American one. But I would like to think that this is a day where we as human beings can at least try to see passed the differences and understand one universal truth: we have each other and in the end we all come from the same beginnings no matter what your belief of that beginning is. So to each of my fellow man I would like to extend my deepest appreciation for their kindness, resolve to right the wrongs of our differences, and to sincerely wish thanks upon all whom would receive it with open arms and ears.
2009 has been an interesting ride and the set for 2010 is almost in its final stages. Let’s face it TOGETHER and not apart.
Now go eat something will ya? It’s custom to eat, drink and be merry!
Monday, November 23, 2009
For consumerism that is. This is just a small rant I have had since I noticed the first of the Walmart pre-order commercials I have been seeing on television the past month. It’s amazing to me how quickly things are going downhill in terms of less emotional ties with the holidays and more materialistic greed replacing them. I know I sound old when I say this but it’s so true… but when I was younger I remember even the commercials (despite being consumerist in nature) had a feeling of warmth and family togetherness that the commercials these days don’t have. And its hard to argue that we are drastically shifting into a consumerist society when we start seeing Christmas shopping commercials on television before Halloween even takes place (thank you Walmart for showing NOW shame in your advertising!!!). I am just sick of the lack of emotion, the encouragement to not spend time with family and friends, and putting meaning behind how much dollars you spend rather than the quality of the gift being presented.
Anyways this is just a small rant that has been festering in me for a while and just had to purge it from my gut before I vomited haha
Merry Frickin Christmas…
Friday, November 13, 2009
Director James Cameron (director of Terminator 2, Aliens, True Lies, and Titanic) has finally perfected a style of movie that has been tried many times over the past decade or more. The filming of a movie that utilizes nothing but computer graphics but making you believe that it is completely real. Click this link to see the trailer and remind yourself throughout the film that every shot is 100% computer generated.
By the way this is also shot in a new 3D technology making it more realistic while wearing special glasses that claims to give you an extra depth of reality no seen in previous 3D films.
It was first tried by Sony Pictures when they created the movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. It was a technological feat that had never been done before. Over time CG animation in movies has become the norm, becoming more refined, detailed, and an intricate tool to tell stories that otherwise may not have been possible.
Avatar uses a new type 3D scanning technology that allows him to capture the human body in the exact detail that is visible by the eye. The scanning technology is so detailed it is said that it can capture detail on a microscopic level. This alongside new motion capture methods and voice acting, movies may never be the same again. Who’s to say an actor cannot be scanned and stored into a database and used again? People who loved The Dark Knight are mourned by the loss of Heath Ledger. But in a time where 3D scanning is so detailed that they can keep that actor’s scan on file and input him into movies long after they have passed on or even aged to the point of unsuccessfully continuing the story, we might have been able to see The Joker return in future Batman films.
I just thought this was a very cool technological leap forward with so much potential and possibilities for enhancing our cinematic experience that I wanted to write something about it. I hope you all enjoyed the preview! Maybe I will see you in the theaters on Dec 18!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Oh well... in the end I only care about one thing: That Stephanie Meyer hasn’t sold herself out and tries to remain faithful to her books when making these big screen adaptations. The rest of the commercial media nonsense is easily forgotten for me.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
It’s fact that gaming is number three In grossing large amounts of entertainment money which is only trumped by music and film. So that being said, games are becoming a deep part in our cultural upbringing and part of society. This is grounds for the topic I wanted to raise. I am sure most of you who follow games like I do have at least heard of the big game that has been released called Modern Warfare 2, part of the epic Call of Duty series. However there is heavy controversy about Modern Warfare 2 that has taken most people by surprise… and Activison (the publishing and producing company putting the game out) even put a warning on the screen allowing you to skip the part that is in question. Essentially it shows a very graphic presentation of a group of terrorists going into an airport and opening fire on innocent people, killing many of them, and your character that you play IS one of them. However you do realize that this character is working for the CIA or FBI (I honestly forget which organization) and is undercover. He is forced to make a choice: not go through with this and blow his cover destroying all the work he has worked for, or go through with the plot and kill innocents to keep his cover.
Needless to say this is a very touchy subject, especially with the wounds still raw from the Texas shooting situation we are all facing on a daily basis via the news. I just thought it interesting that a game, which is made clearly for entertainment purposes, is coming under such attack. I think people are starting to realize that gaming is no longer the “pong” days… but it is quite literally digital entertainment. Some would argue that the plots and stories rival that of books, television, and movies and the gaming projects are quickly becoming increasingly more expensive to make due to how much exposure they get. Just something to ponder about.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Everyone just go to the Good News Network at http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/ and get a dose of goodness in the world.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Stereotypes: Laying Dormant Until Unleashed
Michael G. Mullen Jr. (Professor Bjorn Ingvoldstad), Department of Communications, Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Are you someone who knows that stereotypes are wrong and yet see them take place within society, despite being taught that they are wrong? Are those stereotypes lying dormant until properly motivated? The sad truth and belief of this study is that stereotypes are in fact alive and festering in the hearts of individuals. The implications of such a belief is that while high ranking officials and general opinion says stereotypes have a negative influence, they still exist, and surface when motivated enough. There are many examples of this in action but I have chosen to study primarily film, more specifically television, and even more specifically the television show LOST. Within LOST is a complicated story-telling technique heavily relying on flash-backs and flash-forwards to fill in the gaps of missing information for the viewer. This is crucial to the show’s mysterious build of character development. As the shows unfold, however, certain culture’s representative characters are targeted. The information given leads the viewer to assume about the specific characters, often bringing out assumptions about that characters race, culture, religion, and political association. Since stereotypes are often created and thrive within people who have no base knowledge of the targeted individual’s culture, they are left to draw their own conclusions, often including stereotypical views when given no other information to draw better conclusions. This observational study would be done, selecting keys episodes from the first two seasons of LOST, watching them while taking detailed notes, and cross referencing forum posts on the LOST boards as well as fan sites and written articles to gather general reactions to missing informational gaps leading to stereotypical assumptions. The targeted characters of study will be Jin and Sun (Asian representatives), Sayid (Middle-Eastern representative), Michael and Rose (African representatives), and James/Sawyer (southern Caucasian representative). The significance of this project would not only bring to light that stereotypes still exist strongly in people who otherwise may not have exhibited them, but to also show how these types of damaging generalizations are used within television (for good or bad). If we gain a better understanding of the root of stereotypes, it would provide information critical in the absolute reduction and destruction of their negative influence which plagues not just our country but the world.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
"Of the various sites of Chicano struggle for media access, the one I would guess you are most familiar with is the college / university setting. This week, in 1-2 pages, I'd like you to consider what colleges in general, and what Bridgewater State College in particular (and the Dept. of Communication Studies even more so, and you and me EVEN MORE SO) should be doing to increase minority media access and cultural diversity. What is to be done? Be concrete as you can!"
My response to that (which could be applied to any college in my opinion, Bridgewater State College included) was that exposure can be increased for ALL cultures in the following formats: Internet, television, and theatre/drama.
Without going into the details of the paper (which would make this Blog two pages long and I have so few followers as it is, and I don't want to scare them away) I will simply break down what I observed with each.
-Create different portals of each culture that ties in with that campus' database, or even external databases that deal directly with that particular culture (Chicano specifically since that is what we are focusing on right now). That way the searching for history, traditions, myths, legends, stories, discussions, etc can be easily found, accessed, and more importantly LEARNED. I would also like to think that these links would have a place on the main College's Library page to make it more well known and easier to access.
Essentially it was my idea that most colleges have a local broadcasting channel or creates shows for local town programming. I think it would be very interesting to have a representative of each culture's community have a weekly or daily roundtable discussion about relative topics of the day that would involve history, traditions, and stereotypes and how they overcome those stereotypes. I feel this would be highly educational and beneficial to not only the round table members to learn about each other but for real debates and issues to be brought out and discussed that relates to modern struggles of that culture.
Imagine the Chicano student body presenting their version of I am Joaquin as a drama piece with their own versions of images and music being displayed for a modern crowd. I think that would be fantastic and a great opportunity to help the rest of us understand the struggle of the Chicano community. But why stop there? This movement could do all sorts of Chicano based history, myths, legends, and cultural stories dealing with their society to help further understanding. Another thing about theatre that seems to be an advantage over other media forms is that it is a form of artistic expression and has the chance to be a bit more edgy in its message and presentation. That coupled with controversial material almost always created a “buzz” about the production giving it more of an audience and a real chance to spread a message if well constructed.
Well these were my papers ideas. I hope that my fellow classmates were able to come up with some interesting ones as well. If anyone wants to discuss theirs on this Blog post please be my guest! I think it’s just another way of exposure and brings about good discussion.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
But I am glad that this article goes into depth about the issue of race and how it has plagued Obama’s campaign ever since he took up the mantle of running for Presidency. I would like to think that he got elected not for his color but for his message. Granted he has made some choices that I don’t 100% agree with but he is doing the best that he can with the amount of disaster that was placed before him after the previous administration. He has given the country hope and has been doing the best that he can to deliver on his promises.
He doesn’t deserve this racist backlash, and I am grateful that a widely known magazine had the guts to publish an article shining the spotlight on those would tear Obama down for his color.
Well done Philip Weiss!
Friday, October 16, 2009
“The cartoons you are about to see are products of their time. Theymay depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that werecommonplace in the U.S society. These depictions were wrong then andthey are wrong today. While the following does not represent the WarnerBros. view of today's society, these cartoons are being presented asthey were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the sameas claiming that these prejudices never existed.”
It’s an interesting quote and one that I had seen earlier this week by a poster on our Comm 300 Black Board discussions. It is about old Looney Toons cartoons. This is in fact a quote directly from Warner Bros themselves, posted on their DVD collections of classic cartoons. When I read the paragraph it makes total sense to me. I mean, back then there were stereotypes, and they were clearly expressed with little regard to the cultures involved, and as humanity evolved the recognition of these cultures as strong and vibrant and EQUAL prevailed.
But has it disappeared? I think the answer is obvious, all we have to do is turn on the news and we are swamped with images of racial killings, wars between religious countries, stereotyping of gays, and so forth. So when I read that quote from Warner Bros there seems something very wrong with it. Is it the knowledge that these prejudices existed to blatantly that it makes me uncomfortable to see it? Is it because Warner Bros is trying to make a few bucks off the consumer with the knowledge that these racial stereotypes existed within their cartoons, especially now in the modern society where we flat out speak against such inequality?
Perhaps the most disturbing or at least noticible sentence of the paragraph is the last one: “While the following does not represent the Warner Bros. view of today's society, these cartoons are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming that these prejudices never existed.”
So is this the key to moving on? Should we acknowledge that it happened but that it shouldn’t be happening now and forget about the past to move on to the future? Or do we continue to refer back to the past to REMEMBER how awful it was in the past and that it has slowly been getting better. At least that way a better future can be formed. I am not exactly sure which is the best way to go about this… I suppose it’s always good to remember for how can one learn from the mistakes. On the other hand the stereotype/race/religious/gay/etc “issues” we face in our country (and world wide) should be forgotten to MOVE ON. It’s a tug of war question in my mind and no side wins out completely so I thought I would make mention of my thoughts in this blog.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
From what my friend was telling me is this is a very large conference that tries to take place every two (or less years) to discuss the state of the country and the world. Apparently it is very progressive and looks to find not only representative identity amongst different cultures, but a way to strive forward and celebrate our cultures as unique but able to be unified with mutual respect. I found this webpage very encouraging that this is taking place. I am sure that there are conferences like this held in America but I generally don’t hear about them too much. My friend was also telling me that typically this conference is televised and can be seen by most of Northern Africa, however this year due to budget concerns it will not take place. In its place they intend on making a 2 hour DVD of all the high points discussed which will be offered to the attendees at a discounted rate and sold to the rest of the country at a normal DVD pricing.
I like the idea of something like this being televised. Again, I am not sure if something like this is normal within America, but I have certainly never seen anything like this on television before. But I think that perhaps it would be a very good thing to see. For one night for a few hours, television programming can be suspended to see a conference that not only identifies the stereotypes and racism that exists, but finds ways to counter those feelings by beneficial facts, discussions, and praise of the individual cultures. Imagine if Barack Obama, the White House, and many others supported and even attended this event! The coverage would be enormous and the message would actually get across. I know it’s a fantastical concept but I can’t help but think how much positive results could be harvested from something like this.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
How wrong and foolish I was…
After reading Noriega’s description of the internal war this symbolic character caused for the entire Chicano Nation I am finding just how destructive the image is. I mean let’s look at the facts of the bandito: they are gun toting, aggressive, sinister, sneaky, criminal-driven, thieves who derive their pleasure on lawlessness and greed. To have this imaged used to represent a community, I would be upset too! What’s even more difficult was at the time the Chicano community was divided in half about what to do with this “character” created. On one half (as mentioned) it was regarded as degrading to their culture and they wanted it gone! However on the other half they liked the character because it brought them closer to popularity in America and finally having some recognition on television and in the movies. This was a delicate tug-o-war taking place and it was happening Chicano against Chicano!
Even today we see this image being used in Mexican restaurant menus, the signs, etc and its disturbing that it is still being supported. Granted the Frito Bandito who started this whole thing had been removed a long time ago, thanks to fierce opposition from some of the Chicano representatives, but the effects have been long lasting. I had mentioned on my class discussion board that I remember having fond memories of a Mexican restaurant I went to with my family that was located in Abington right off of Rt 18. The name eluded me as I was writing the discussion board response but I now have remembered it as Carman’s. I am not sure if it is still there today but I distinctly remember what the sign was: a bandito wearing a sombrero and a chest strap of guns and bullets while leaning back and sitting into the sand with a cactus thorn sticking out of his toe.
Ladies and gentleman the bandito lives on despite the fight to banish him into the past…
If there was any proof of how damaging an iconic stereotype of a culture can be, here is your proof.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
So on Saturday after doing some homework (while at my job) I decided to take a break and sit with the residents I work with and spend time with them in front of the television. They were watching a movie on the USA Network, and this station does this thing called "character fantasy" in between commercial breaks of the movies they show. I typically think these are okay. They essentially respond to a person who writes into the network saying they are interested in particular jobs or duties they they are curious or interested in learning about. So today's character fantasy was a woman who was curious about how the food donation, organization, and shipping procedures take place. She currently donates food to many organizations but she doesn't know the intricacies and behind-the-scenes work that goes into it.
All of that was completely fine with me, but there was something that bothered. me. They decided to put a product placement ad into each break and what's worse was that the product was not only food but it was junk food (Snickers to be exact). I don't know but for some reason the talk about ending hunger, supporting charitable causes to meet that goal was diminished when this sponsor to Snickers kept popping up saying "Okay now that we have done that, lets take a break and have ourselves a little snack! I love my Snickers bars!" and the camera zooming in 200% so that the bar in his hand with the logo was taking up the entire screen. I was suddenly growing more and more offended by this each time. There wasn't even any benefit to Snickers being promoted! They weren't helping the cause to end world hunger. They weren't feeding people with good nutritious food. They were obviously placed into the program because USA got paid a lot of money by Snickers to be shown in the advertisements and they are advertising a product that not only has no nutritional value but are contributing to the Nation's obesity problem!
I know this doesn't have anything to do with minorities being represented on television or movies but it was still something that bothered me and an example of the way the media injects its products into something with potentially good goals and reasons that could make a difference in the world.
Here is more of a reason to get into film and television... and get involved with people who speak against consumerism or profits or money making ploys. I know that its near impossible to avoid it in some way but dammit I can try... and do my best to help make changes and differences.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I hadn't heard till yesterday, on the Saturday morning news, that Obama had won the Noble Peace Prize. At first I was curious at the choice... Why had Barack won? Some people were saying was that it was because he was not Bush. Other people were saying that his visions of peace and unity were the cause. Others said that it was celebrating that he was the first black president in American history. In any case this is highly controversial and an honor I am not sure Obama wants due to how much unwanted heat it has put upon him.
I was curious to know if other Presidents had won the Nobel Peace Prize, and after some brief research I found that Thoedore Roosevelt did 1906, Woodrow Wilson in 1919, and Jimmy Carter in 2002. So I guess the real question in my mind is why is Barack coming under so much attack for this honor? Especially since at least one of the previously mentioned Presidents was considered a disaster for this country.
It's rather sad to see that he has mixed feelings about the situation. Winning the Nobel Peace Prize should be a moment in your life that is memorable for being proud for what you have done for humanity, not bad due to the amount of negative press you get from overly critical people. Of course I support Barack, I helped put him into office, and while I don't agree with 100% with his decisions I do support him in the majority of his goals, decisions and objectives. So I think, considering the unbelievable burden put on his shoulders from the previous administration, he is doing everything he can to provide peace to America and the rest of the world in terms of dealing with the US. I also think that it was a triumph for the African Americans that he was elected into office with words of peace, unity, and promise. I think he does deserve high praise for accomplishing this in a clearly prejudiced world.
I suppose we will see if Barack is worthy of this honor by the end of his term and see what he has brought to the table. But I feel that as it stands, with him being the leader of our country, and speaking consistently of unity, bipartisanship, and peace I think he is deserving of this award. I know I will come under attack for my beliefs but I stand by them.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Rodolfo Corky Gonzales
For Comm 300 we had to watch the short film I am Joaquin, based upon the poem written by Rodolfo Corky Gonzales. It was a powerful depiction of a culture that has been under attack by external and internal forces, similar to Native American culture, and has sustained serious damage in the process. I made a post on the discussion board for my class, stating that I had actually seen this performed years ago in my high school creative writing class. As mentioned in my post I compared this building and destruction of a culture over and over again to the symbolism of an etch a sketch. There was once a beautiful picture, but something fundamentally disastrous shook the picture up, leaving only fragments behind. The then current Chicano society, tried to put together the pieces of their heritage and create the picture again, only to have something else further shake the image and have cause for rebuilding.
All the years of this has left the Chicano people with very difficult situations to deal with in terms of properly representing itself in a society now seemingly all too willing to listen yet expecting immediate results and overnight solutions to hundreds of years of degradation.
It leaves me wondering how they can fix this problem. What can I do to help? I am hoping that as we read our current text Shot in America by Chon Noriega, I will have a better sense of the demands and needs of the Chicano nation and what I might do to help.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I enjoyed how his hope for this book would help revitalize the race issue that plagues America and it left a lasting impression. He said that in regards to this “experiment” known as America we are now seeking overnight solutions and are hungry for change to the issues not facing just blacks, but most races in America as well as the minorities that live in this country such as the Homosexual Community… but how can we find quick solutions to a fundamental issue this country has been ignoring and neglecting for 188 years out of the 233 years we have been a country? He feels that we are very late in trying to make up for lost time… and its nearly too late but NOT too late!
I will end with this excerpt from West:
“In these downbeat times, we need as much hope and courage as we do vision and analysis; we must accent the best of each other even as we point out the vicious effects of our racial divide and the pernicious consequences of our misdistribution of wealth and power. We simply cannot enter the twenty-first century at each other’s throats, even as we acknowledge the weighty forces of racism, patriarchy, economic inequity, homophobia, and ecological abuse on our necks. Do we have the intelligence, humor, imagination, courage, tolerance, love, respect, and will to meet the challenge? Time will tell. None of us alone can save the nation or world. But each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so.” (West 159)
Monday, September 28, 2009
It’s the whole sketch of when Chris Rock says that there are two types of black people: there are black people and there are niggers, and how the nigger have “got to go”. And this person actually USES this to their advantage of racism! They claim that if he, a black person, can say it why can’t they? Not only that but they agree with everything Chris Rock says and start talking about stories of poor black people living around them that do things like this and blah blah blah. They make no reservation what-so-ever in holding in their opinion because of their stereotypes of African Americans.
How God damn ignorant could someone be?!?! Isn’t this type of shameless fucking ignorance and hateful discontent the kind that should have belonged back in the Civil War??? I just don’t understand how something like this could still be around…
And I don’t know how I should feel about Chris Rock. Is he doing his race a service by talking like that? It’s almost like he is trying to spread the racism around and place it on certain types of his own race… like there is a Civil War within his own culture (his comment about him wanting to joining the KKK so he could do a drive by from here to Brooklyn comes to mind). It’s disconcerting to think that instead of banding together to FIGHT the problems they face as a culture and community there are people waging war within the ranks, so-to-speak, causing what I think could be a greater problem. This reminds me of Malcolm X a little from the chapter we recently read in West’s book Race Matters… would he commend Chris Rock on pointing out the deviants of their race or would he bring Chris down saying that his anger is targeted in the wrong place. Considering that Malcolm made a distinction between “house negroes” and “field negroes” I am thinking he would actually agree with Rock’s ideas… but that may be a wild idea and I have begun to start rambling.
I don’t know… it just makes me sick (my friends opinions mainly). So in light of that nausea in my stomach AND I needed a topic to talk about in my Blog I figured why not put two and two together and make a counseling session out of my homework. Sorry everyone! haha
Friday, September 25, 2009
With Lost its unique (and most likely the topic choice I will go with) where the creators use peoples prejudices and stereotypes against them, making them assume one thing but it is revealed that it’s something totally different. A minor example of this would be a black character named Rose had a husband that was thought to be killed in the plane crash. The over-all assumption was that her husband was black since she was, until you find out that he is not only alive but is white. I remember going on the Lost forums and seeing it EXPLODE with shock over this "revelation" like it was a totally alien idea! Quite interesting. And South Park I think is self explanatory. It deals with so many topics of race, religion, and cultural/sexual minorities that it would be the perfect candidate for writing my paper.
I do think I am leaning more towards the Lost topic however since it’s a very hot show right now, many people watch it (especially this upcoming season since it is the last one), and its influence is felt strongly in the television world. That alone makes me want to discuss it more since its exposure is so vast. But time shall tell what my final decision will be.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
After some research of these programs they support, I came to realize that through the many layers of media (television, internet, radio, podcasts, music, videos, interviews, Apple, etc) they have preached their peace-laced message of love and acceptance so much over the past decade that I felt really inspired to write about it and give credit where it is due.
U2: Thank you for helping open my eyes just a little wider, to see what is happening around the world that I would otherwise be ignorant of. Your message last night was well received.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I think its fair to say that women are certainly making striving progress in the work place. In fact an article in the New York times two weeks ago officially posted that women hold more jobs in American than men do for the first time ever in the history of our country! But I know that they are under constant attack in terms of stereotypes, sexual harassment, and belittled of their gifts, abilities, talents, and intelligence. Two and a Half Men further brings women down in this regard and I wonder if women will ever be truly free of the sex symboled, stereotypical bonds that society places them in. With shows like this, it makes me wonder.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
It essentially deals with the Native Americans wanting to force South Park from their homes to build a super highway to their Casino to make more money. They do this, obviously, while punning the stereotypical jokes nonstop and also constantly correcting themselves by instead of saying "Indian" saying "Native American". It is like salt to the wound portraying the ignorance of the American people (As Trey Parker and Matt Stone often do). I find the episode to be immensely hilarious because of Parker and Stone's constant reminder of how ignorant the American people are of cultures, ways of life, and ultimately show it in this episode by a reversal of the situation that the Native's of what we now call America suffered at our hands. I am optimistic that most people would recognize the (what I consider) blatant satyr about the subject matter... but I can't help bu think there are probably many people who actually agree with the stereotypes. God I hope not...
I thought it might be something wroth while to bring to the "Blogging Table" and let people comment on it if they feel so inclined.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Something else happened however that flooded the country. The idea and feeling of Patriotism and Unity. When I reflect back to those days, people that hated other people on my campus actually hugged each other. Love, sympathy, and a genuine desire to support others flowed through my campus like a tidal wave. It was amazing to see. I knew it was a Nationwide feeling, due to the media being portrayed. Of course there was the typical Bush “battle cry” to take up arms and fight the “Evil doers” , but for that first 3-5 months you couldn’t flip through a channel without companies making commercials strictly focused on trying to help calm a Nation and reflect on those lost. Of course I am not naïve to think that it wasn’t a choice rooted in wanting to make money, but at a time like that who is thinking about it when every human being was reaching out to be comforted?
It took a disaster like 9/11 to bring our Country together. Black, White, Yellow, Brown… it didn’t matter who you were… compassion finally brought our Nation together and sympathy from other countries was expressed constantly.
Today I remember 9/11. I honor the dead. I respect and support the families affected. And I remember that even in the darkest times, we still have the spirit in our hearts to be united so that trivial things such as race and skin color mean nothing compared to the human heart.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
In any case what I was most shocked about during this whole thing was what happened during the speech. I was texting with a friend during the speech and we were commenting on it throughout. This person, I should add, is against Obama and his administration so it was an interesting (and civil) debate over the phone between us and as a side note… this person isn’t very political at all and doesn’t really understand it much. In other words, very ignorant… like a person entering a fight just because it’s a fight, without looking at WHY the fight is taking places. Anyways at one point during the speech while Obama was addressing how the new health care plan would NOT support the illegal immigrants living in the country, a Republican stood up and shouted “You are a liar!!!!” interrupting Obama and making him pause and stare them down. Suddenly a got a text:
“Yes! That was awesome!”
I replied “How is that awesome? It shows disrespect and ignorance. I don’t care if it’s a Repub or Demo talking, let them talk”
“Yes that’s true but God it drives me crazy that people applaud Obama! The only reason he gets applauded is that because he is black and has a history of speaking well, like King Jr”
I was shocked that this person would even MENTION the fact that Obama is black so I prodded them to continue, “So wait, it’s important that he is Black that everyone is listening to him?”
“Important?? It’s the REASON he is in office! People that voted for him did it because they wanted to make history. Whites wanted to apologize and give a Black a chance, the Blacks wanted to get their own person in office to make history, and the others that voted did so because they honestly didn’t know any better.”
I was shocked by all of this. It’s amazing to me that this kind of thinking actually exists, and at the very least in the north. I know racial tensions are always very high in the south but I thought the northern parts of the country were at the very least more progressive. To see my friend say that was astonishing to me and I thought would make available for comments on what others felt. Do other people feel Obama was elected for history-making purposes due to his color? Was he elected because he stood for something that this country believed and needed? Was he elected because there just wasn’t any other good choice to make between him or McCain?
I know I voted him in because the time for change had to be now and I liked the change he was proposing. His message, his politics, his attitude, his desire for unity… all of it made me think about a country that was whole again and not tattered after the Bush administration.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
I will say right away, I thought this movie was absolutely fantastic. It wasn't because of the unique story, the incredible special FX, or the rather interesting ways they managed to expose you to bloody gory deaths. Its the fact that the story is EXTREMELY believable! If you haven't seen it I highly recommend it, but I am also going to vaguely explain the plot and how it applied to racism. So...
The theme of the story is that a group of alien refugees manage to escape from their own planet and drift their way to our own world. It has taken them 1.5 years to get here. They settle the massive mother-ship over the city of Johannesburg, South Africa but the doors to the ship never open. It just hovers and the world watches with held breath wondering why they have come. Most are scared, some are optimistic, but ALL are confused. Human beings become united about a decision and all agree that we should open the doors and see what is going on. The event is televised around the world as humans helicopter up to the ship, cut it open, and are horrified that the aliens ARE there and they are extremely starved, malnourished, and on the brink of death.
Over the course of the next few years human-kind again unites to nurse the aliens back to health, to take care of them, and to try to arrange an area for them to live in peace (called District 9) but tensions slowly begin to rise. The aliens demand rights, take a toll on money and medical supplies, and their ways are not like ours. People soon begin to get upset seeing the aliens as a constant drain on resources that could be used in other part of the world, odd looking, socially awkward, refusing to speak any language but their own, and a general nuisance. District 9 quickly becomes a run down, slum-like, refugee area where the aliens are left to rummage through trash and garbage for food and shelter, are not allowed to reproduce (any spawning eggs that are found are immediately torched and babies are killed on site), they are not allowed to own any weapons to protect themselves at any time (and if they are found owning weapons they are either killed or shipped away to be put under the needle and knife as experiments for humans to gain knowledge about them and their unique weapon systems), etc.
That is where I will stop explaining the movie because the actual story that follows the main characters are not entirely dependent on my points I would like to make. But all of the description above is extremely reminiscent to the ideas of World War II and the Nazi Concentration Camps or the segregation of a race because of differences and ignorance. The idea that this could happen, even to the people of an amazing discovery (that we are not alone in the universe) is a very frightening and very real look on human-kind and a bold political statement that we are a hateful species.
Does that define us? Or are we more than the sum of our agonizing, racist, hate-filled, power hungry, war-like past? I love how a science fiction story can ask these questions and do it in such a powerful way that we reflect and wonder if we can change the world one heart at a time.
That’s where change begins.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
But FINALLY after a long week of fighting my Black Board account is active and thus begins the mad crazy dash of catching up in my Comm 300-W01 class to be sure everything is submitted today! *deep breath*
Now that I have time to reflect (which I have been doing since answering the Discussion Board questions/comments) I kinda feel like an emotional loss has been hanging over my head. It mainly had to do with the readings and videos required by the Comm 300 class that got me a bit down and depressed. It dealt with the Negro nation/community and how after so much fighting for their rights they are still being misrepresented and their culture is being raped of its values and heritage. Are we, as an America society still so racist? Are we still so God damn divided?? In a day an age where anything is possible.. how is it that we are still so full of hate and anger? A friend and fellow classmate, Liza, brought up a good point too: its not just the Negro community... its other cultures, other races, other sexual preferences, etc that are under attack from an American society.
I hate feeling this way... and the only hope I have is that I can take what little optimism I have and apply it for the good of the world. I guess the hardest part about this is the question HOW CAN I DO IT? I mean I am the average white middle class male... right away I fall into the category of leaders of the worlds nations that have taken these cultures and people and bashed them mercilessly. I already feel a bit... ill equipped. But I know my heart, my conscience, and ideals are better than that and with the proper knowledge I can make a difference.
Let time tell, and my actions judge me!