Archives for category: Pop Culture

YouTube. How I haven’t written about thee in nearly a year. 2010 is over three months in… I know I’m a little late, but what will this year bring us in media?

We have already seen the launch of the iPad… oh glorious Apple. And it’s only April.

What YouTube celeberities will be born in the remainder of the year 2010? This little gem has recently been brought to my attention:

Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”, a popular tune of ’09, still brings us entertainment in the year 2010.

After a long hiatus, more media analysis to come… Bring me inspiration YouTube, Apple, Twitter…etc. etc.

Fulla, the olive-skinned Barbie-esque doll that is targeted to Middle Eastern and Islamic girls was released in 2003. The doll, who quite obviously bears resemblance to the Western Pink Princess, Barbie, is marketed as, “the little girl who wears modest outfits, her top priorities are respect for herself, and those all around her and being kind to her friends and peers.”  (Fulla.us)

Fulla

Fulla

Fulla.us also states of the brunette doll, “We take pride promoting the virtues to help girls be the very best today so they grow to be the women who make a difference tomorrow.” Fulla is a product which seems to be spawned solely from good ethics and high mortality and seems to be an all around positive contribution to its target market. The doll is currently enjoying huge success in the Middle East.

According to an article entitled, “Fulla” – the Arab World’s Barbie of khaleejtimes.com, “The toy capitalizes on the islamization of cultural life in the Arab world as evidenced in a heightened focus on dress and rituals.”

It seems clear that Fulla promotes positivity and self- respect; however, the doll has indeed raised controversy. Katie Cercone’s article, Fulla Flap, claims, “She’s a plaything, yes, but she’s also an emblem of the cultural pressure to conform to one extremely limiting female role.” Cercone believes that Fulla instills a religious conformity among young Middle Eastern women, much like Barbie is commonly believed to create a desire for materialism and beauty among Western girls. Cercone implies that Fulla is “a residual effect of the recent upsurge of religious fundamentalism in the Middle East.”  

In this light, it seems Fulla’s got some deeper motives than the altruistic, friendly, brown-eyed beauty initially conveys.

Now here lies my opinion, which is quite simple: Fulla, much like Barbie was created for one purpose: $$$. She is a product of capitalism, much like the blonde, blue eyed bombshell, Barbie. Put simply, Fulla and Barbie wouldn’t exist for any other reason: Not to promote religious views, companionship, or to provide enterainment for young girls. These two plastic dolls would cease to exist without the monetary motivations that exists so predominantly on this Earth: Middle Eastern, Western- anywhere . 

In 1990 a leaflet entitled What’s Wrong with McDonalds? was being passed around by London Greenpeace. According to Chapter 5 of Michael Strangelove’s text, The Empire of Mind, the leaflet accused McDonald’s of “exploiting children with advertising, promoting and unhealthy diet, poor labor practice, environmental negligence and the ill treatment of animals.” McDonald’s immediately sent out undercover private investigators to infiltrate the civil rights and environmentalist group. (Strangelove, 2005) Greenpeace was sued by McDonald’s within the year.

As I read the passage in Strangelove’s text, it struck me as odd that such a well-established and powerful company would act so hastily towards the likes of simple protesting.  It seemed that London Greenpeace was correct in their accusations- and this didn’t make the Happy Clown too happy at all.

The judge ruled that many of the accusations provided by Greenpeace were in fact true, “McDonald’s exploit children with their advertising, falsely advertise their food as nutritious, risk the health of their, most regular and long term customers, and are culpably responsible for cruelty to animals… and pay the workers low wages.” (Strangelove, 2005)  Despite the truths in the leaflet, the defendants were still expected to pay 30,000 dollars to McDonald’s.

All of this to say: powerful companies like that of McDonald’s seem to have an insatiable hunger for the power and control of their image- even if opposing view may, in fact, be correct.

The appropriation of images and brands has been an ongoing topic of interest in my New Media course: McDonald’s being one of the most popular targets for appropriation (as well as culture jamming).

I believe there are several reasons for this. McDonald’s is a huge company, which has a history beginning in 1940. At 69 years old the company currently has 31,000 locations around the world, and according to Hoovers.com, in 2007 the company had a net revenue of 22.79 billion dollars.

It seems, the more powerful the company, the more questions will arise regarding its morality and ethics. As a whole, we as society want to be provided with the truth, and the truth is hard to come by in advertising and corporate companies. We are more reluctant to trust large companies- and when we are unsure, the likes of appropriated images, culture jamming and leaflets are likely mediums for protest.

With the prevalence of the Internet, spreading the word regarding one’s view on a company or ad campaign is easier than ever. For example, 4,600 hits on Google arise when the term “McDeath” is typed into the search engine (Strangelove, 2005).  And as shown in class, it is very simple to come across an appropriated image when McDonald’s is typed into the search bar:

McDeath

McDeath

The power of the company is faltering- McDonald’s can’t possibly control the thousands, perhaps millions, of opposing views mentioned online. The Internet provides a means for the alternate views that were once easily suppressed in the not so distance past. Today, we have the power.

Dance Club YouTube:

Above is a YouTube video I created which examines the reasoning as to why we as viewers are so compelled to watch amateurs dance online!

A special thanks to my friends who gave their two cents; and actually allowed me to use their faces on YouTube.

Bibliography:

Goodwin, A. (1992) Dancing in the Distraction Factory: Music Television and Popular Culture. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.

Hanna, J. (1987) To Dance is Human: A Theory of Nonverbal Communication. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

No Author Stated. (2 July 2006) “Youtube Serves Up 100 Million Videos a Day Online.” USA Today, 16 July 2006. Retrieved February 19, 2008 from, http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2006-07-16-youtube-views_x.htm

Strangelove, M. (2009). CMN2170 New Media Lectures. Ottawa: University of Ottawa, Simard Hall.

Video Clips Borrowed from YouTube are as follows:

  • Mother Fuckin’ Snakes!!!!
  • Never Let Your Mom Dance!
  • Fat Guy Dancing to Single Ladies
  • Numa Numa
  • Single Ladies (Big Girl Remix)
  • Arianna Dancing with Beyonce- Single Ladies

All photographs used are mine!

2009: the 50th anniversary of the beloved cultural icon Barbie- and quite the life this foxy baby-boomer has led. According to an article by Misty Harris, in yesterday’s Ottawa Citizen, Barbie has had “110 jobs, been dressed by 70 couturiers, served in the army, fronted a rock band, and successfully navigated a 43-year romance with a sexually ambiguous mate.” Impressive.

According to Chapter 5 of Dr. Michael Strangelove’s text, The Empire of Mind, “over one billion Barbie dolls have been sold. The average American girl aged between seven and 11 owns a staggering ten Barbie dolls…The Barbie brand is worth some 2 billion…making it the most valuable toy brand in the world.” Wow.

Strangelove’s text states that Barbie is “the representation of the American dream- huge breasts, fast cars, unlimited clothes, undying youth and desired by hundreds of millions of youth and adults.” 

This 50-year-old vixen seems to be unstoppable. Or is she?

Barbie at 50? Nope. She's still in her prime.

Barbie at 50? Nope.

Harris’ article claims that Barbie has some hard work ahead of her in the near future. It seems Barbie isn’t as cool in her old age. According to banking firm Needham and Co., “domestic sales of Barbie related products have fallen by an average of 12 percent annually over the last half decade.” Barbie’s popularity has simply weakened recently. And why might this be?

Perhaps, former Barbie doll owners have grown up and discovered her seedy past: the perfect-pink- princess, Barbie was inspired by a German sex-toy for men, a doll named Bild Lili, who appeared as a prostitute in a comic strip. Maybe adults do not want their children exposed to a doll that was created with the male-gaze in mind.

According to an online article, Dumb blonde – or diehard feminist? Academic Agnes Nairn stated “many of the [aged seven to 11] girls see Barbie torture as a legitimate play activity – and think nothing of pulling off her limbs and putting her in the microwave…No other toy provoked such a negative response.” Many believe Barbie to be an illegitimate representation of the North American female.

What do I think? Barbie is not going anywhere! She will continue to conquer for years to come- as generations age, Barbie will remain youthful, beautiful and trendy…  ready to hang out with the 11 years olds: perhaps being tortured, or perhaps having her blonde-locks combed, as she is being swaddled and adored- but  she won’t die. There’s a place for this big-eyed plastic blonde in North America, for decades to come.