Monday, November 15, 2010

A Cute Advert of the Day

"You eat what you touch."
A nice anti-bacteria advertisement. And a cute dog.
Or loaf of bread....whatever you prefer.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Disgusting Adverts of the Day

Giada looking tampon-like in menstrual-like spaghetti sauce

Translation: I am like a fish in water

Thanks Tampax. That's disgusting.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Forbes on Benjamin on Brecht

Relaxed Learning?

Epic theatre is a style of theatrical performance, most famously developed and unified by Bertolt Brecht, from the early to mid-twentieth century. Walter Benjamin, a critic and friend of Brecht, wrote, “What is Epic Theatre?” which outlines the style through eight categories. Benjamin describes how actors in Brecht’s plays perform on a dais (a low platform rather than a high stage) and are meant to demonstrate a character rather than become a character. Benjamin also illustrates how Brecht’s style purges sensation from the plot and exploits gestures in order to interrupt the action. Each element works together to create a didactic experience, yet the audience is meant to be relaxed at the same time. Using a didactic performance to obtain a relaxed audience is where epic theatre becomes obscure. In regards to a play with the intention of teaching, specifically morally or ideologically, one must really examine how a relaxed audience is maintained because learning is an active process.

A method epic theatre uses to teach is distance yet the audience—as a collective—is meant to recognize themselves and then learn how to be aware of the separation between theater and real life through the separation of the audience and the actors (Budel, 72). Distance is used to prevent over-emotion—to promote the audience to think about themselves in relation to the situations rather than to feel for the actor. The audience becomes aware of the plot’s mechanical revelation and establishment of the real, so they are forced to make decisions about their own lives. In a modern world, many will affirm that when a person recognizes their own actions there are two ways s/he reacts: positively to a positive and denial to a negative. Benjamin says, “This reaction, according to Brecht, ought to be a well-considered and therefore a relaxed one—in short the reaction of people who have an interest in the matter” (Illuminations, 147). Reactions, in and of themselves, are not relaxed. Epic theater is meant to be that of thought not of emotion; therefore, one must question if/why the two do not share the same capacity of energy within the audience.

Back up for a moment to “reaction of people who have an interest in the matter” (147); one should question who the ones with interest actually are. Fradkin says, “[Brecht found a] means for forming public opinion at the disposal of the ruling classes…which as a result lowered to the level of the bourgeois banality and triteness” (102). Basically, theater became the method in which to manipulate people into following the specific politics of the playwright, or the person funding the playwright. There is a reason why the words instructive, enlightening, teacher and political are often synonymous with epic theatre. It’s because Brecht wanted the audience to be influenced and moved to action by what was seen on stage and in order to do that they must not become emotionally involved, rather they must be moved to thinking about the why and how things are the way they are. Brecht became popular in a very tumultuous time in history and it’s only obvious that his motive was to create change.

“The word ‘alienation’ does not appear before 1936 in a Brecht text” (Holthusen, 108). In epic theatre, the audience is meant to feel the unreal, feel isolated, feel a lack of sympathy but alienation also describes a feeling of being controlled. There lies the contradiction of epic theatre. The audience is forced into feeling nothing through a relaxed state; however, relaxing isn’t possible if one is meant to react, to really think. With epic theatre, Brecht tried to create an unemotional scientific spectator yet it’s human nature to be emotional when reacting. In order for one to identify with anything, emotion must play a role, so the negation of emotion in epic theatre is the only quandary. One can’t have a relaxed audience if the audience is also asked to learn at a heightened state.

Epic theatre is essentially the interaction between actor and audience. The actor is meant to cause the audience to reawaken to life by acting out what they observe in front of the humans they’re reenacting” (Holthusen, 107). What does that create? A mirror. Is it relaxing to look in a mirror if you have flaws? No, that’s why epic theatre cannot relax its audience while attempting to teach. In order to point out the illusion of the performance—to send the message—Brecht flooded the stage with harsh light, exposed the stage lamps, and used minimal props (Encyclopedia Britannica). Brecht wanted to make the theatergoers experts of judgment while also rejecting the critic. Is that to say he wanted to common person to replace the bourgeois? Maybe, but when the contradictions are looked at, one can easily think Brecht just liked to get people riled up and that Benjamin placated by promoting him because they were friends. He tried to create emotion by attempting to deny it, tried to shock the bourgeoisie by demanding their attention (Fuegi, 15). In the end, Brecht wasn’t trying to entertain the masses; he was trying to create sustenance in a time of disenchantment by pointing at it.

Work Cited/Researched

  1. Benjamin, Walter. “Studies for a Theory of Epic Theatre.” Understanding Brecht. London. Versuche uber Brecht. 1973.
  2. Benjamin, Walter. “What is Epic Theater?” Illuminations. New York. Schocken Books. 1968.
  3. Benjamin, Walter. “What is Epic Theater? First Version.” Understanding Brecht. London. Versuche uber Brecht. 1973.
  4. Budel, Oscar. “Contemporary Theater and Aesthetic Distance.” Ed. Peter Demetz. Brecht. Englewood Cliffs, NY. Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1962.
  5. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 1995. Search: Bertolt Brecht
  6. Fuegi, John. “Chapter 1: The Rise and Fall of the Epic Theater.” The Essential Brecht. Los Angeles. Hennessey and Ingalls, Inc. 1972.
  7. Fradkin, I. “On the Artistic Orignality of Bertolt Brecht’s Drama.” Ed. Peter Demetz. Brecht. Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1962.
  8. Holthusen, Hans Egon. “Brecht’s Dramatic Theory.” Ed. Peter Demetz. Brecht. Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1962.

Diesel: BE STUPID and Facebook Cams

Diesel Clothing is a brand that is known for pushing the boundaries and I say they're genius. The "Be Stupid" ad campaign doesn't scream "amazing" but the way they have recognized new media and taken steps to use the consumers to generate more consumers by having them provide free advertisements via facebook.

What do you think about Diesel's latest ad campaign? A bit ridiculous? I was wildly confused by it when I walked by the Union Square store fronts but upon further investigation I actually like the "idea" they're presenting. They're not being condescending toward their consumers--well not totally--it's more of a challenge to "push the norm." At times I want to cringe at the sexual explicitness of Diesel's advertisements; however, they're straight up about the fact that they believe in the motto: Sex Sells so they go for it.

Another media related note that Diesel presents is the installation of new FaceBook Cams.
"Interactive installation at Diesel Stores in Spain, being the first store that allows users to share the moment of buying and trying garments on their Facebook profiles from the store. Consumers are able to make pictures, publish them and boast their new acquisitions with their Facebook friends.

"The Best Diesel Moments" can now be shared with all your even if you can't afford the insanely overpriced clothing, you can take a picture in them and act like you can. Present the illusion on facebook and be "cool."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wired for Robot/Game Warfare

Last week in Understanding Media Studies, Professor Asaro presented the use of robots in the home, media and in war. He explained how unmanned aerial vehicles are piloted by individuals up to 3,000 miles away and more and more of the technology is becoming armed. These network centric warfare tools are used for surveillance (global satellites) and how the use of 1st person shooter real time video games have generated strategy tactics through their convergence with military. Media is also used in the military for recruiting financial backing along with propaganda methods. The concern here is over the human (and lack there of) elements and legal justification of murder. Here is my short response on the issue (mostly a rant). Along with a few links to articles on the subject for more back ground information.

My dad used to always joke that video games were just preparing the nation's young for war, and damn it, he was right. The idea that these machines/robots are now manned by x-box controllers is not exactly shocking. Why spend hours training people with complicated controls and commands when a simple "game" can do it? I used to write abstracts for government and army studies regarding methods of making soldiers react in more machine like fashions and it seems that with the generation of "game warfare" that line is being destroyed.

People who play x-box become mindless in their actions (and by mindless I mean they're just reactionary beings...see it, shoot it) and by transferring that aspect into war more directly the military no longer has to spend as much money training individuals to think like a robot. Yes people are still controlling the robots into killing or surveillance but it's viewed with the same distance as a game...almost as unreal. The military creates all these mind-fucking games and methods for justifying and reconstituting war and the common civilian has no idea (I'm not saying I do anymore than others), I'm just saying we live in "ignorant bliss" or we just ignore it because we're know that it's going to happen whether we're aware or not.

Our public opinion is so skewed from propaganda that we're not even sure what we really know...and what we do know is only a tiny aspect of the whole anyway. We are already at a distance from the war, we never "fight" on our soil so in order to keep men and women "fighting" the war the military has to create a distance for them while in the mist of it all.

Efficiency and ethics in war are not synonymous. America generates the illusion of ethics in war by saying that through efficiency and "preciseness" of modern warfare that America is more ethical but what's ever morally correct about killing?

New Armed Robot Groomed for War

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Messed Up Commercial of the Day

Look at this video through Harold Lasswell's simple theory of communication: "Who Says What through What Channel to Whom and With What Effect?" discusses the commercial:

Melissa McEwan from Shakesville argues that there is no ambiguity to this scene of assault:

And before anyone gets it in their head to argue that this isn't a sexual assault, but instead a scene of a dominatrix and a consenting customer, I'll just note that the setting of the ad is a circus ring. She's literally treating him like a performing animal, and he appears to be utterly terrified. I am acquainted with someone who worked as a professional dominatrix for many years; men went to her to be punished, not petrified-and if someone had become visibly frightened of her, she would have stopped. Images of dominatrices thrilling in hurting scared, vulnerable men are images of sexual assault, not of anything a consent-insistent sex worker does.

However, many people will probably see this ad and think it funny, not offensive or strange. Yet try imagining it with the genders reversed: A terrified woman strips uncomfortably while a large, muscular man-animal growls at her and commands her to dance. My guess is that far fewer people would find that humorous. Once again, sexual assault committed against men is viewed as hilarious - as are violent and aggressive women.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Media Concepts: Photo Narrative

Pratt South Entrance

North bound

Cannon Court

West side of campus

Close up

Tree huggers, the main lawn

Main lawn entrance to court yard

West side exit from court yard

Favorite cigarette break bench

Sculptures to the left when I sit on the bench

Three Messed Up Adverts of the Day