Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Self-Reflective Essay

When I read a piece of writing, particularly some of the blogs in class, I notice the disjointedness of some people’s writing. Many posts do not contain that flow of relating ideas which keep the audience moving through the paper. By the first paragraph, I’ll simply stop reading and move on to a different post. Writing in which people rant and rave about random topics with no apparent reasoning just doesn’t appeal to me unless the writer is someone I know well. If I write something I know others will be reading, I want it to be well thought out, connected, and make some kind of point.

When I first started writing papers for class back in elementary school I always had to spend a lot of time making my papers read well. I expect perfection of myself and want to write effectively even though I don’t like to write. Writing classes in high school required me to make my writing flow by requiring transition sentences from paragraph to paragraph. Though not so obvious, I still do this automatically when I write. For example, the last couple sentences of a paragraph in my Video Breeding Ground post writes, “My boss at Riverside Mortgage uses ‘You Tube’ to keep in contact with other colleagues she works with; so this site is not just for those having fun, but for the business world as well.” The following sentence in the next paragraph connects well saying, “Those in business don’t necessarily have to be in a 9:00 to 5:00 job, however.” While the paragraphs flow together, the story also moves on to the next scene.

But the connection also deals with syntax along with transitions. If the grammar wording doesn’t make sense to the reader, it is harder for them to understand the purpose of that specific point. This is where I like to have other people’s opinions, including teacher’s and peers. The way I work a sentence may be perfectly clear to me but be confusing for anyone else. Occasionally I can overlook some syntactical awkwardness, like in my Observational Essay post, “Whistling an unrecognizable tune, Jorge, or abuelo (grandpa) Jorge as Joe liked to call him, stomped through the hallway toward us carrying more 12”x12” tiles fitted in a box.” I don’t explain the first part well which made it a little confusing to read. Through this class, I improved in writing more coherently and upgraded my word choice, like in my Reflective Essay when I describe myself at a piano recital, “Swinging my sandaled feet that barely touched the gray carpet, I tried to replay the first notes in by head and imagined by small fingers on the white keys.” This was much clearer to read and gave good imagery.

A good essay also requires strong cohesive language that represents the purpose in a captivating way. This is especially hard to do at the end of a paper, but also where it is most critical. Many people, myself included, can compose a great introduction and body, but fall short on summing up the purpose and why it is important. My third post in particular ended very flat and could have had more about the impact of the topic. The last two sentences say, “The viewers also contribute to his communication by posting comments and critiques with an intimacy not available with T.V. or movies. Overall, every voice can be heard with a view or a post.” This contrasted greatly with the conclusion of my most previous rhetorical analysis essay. The last sentences summarize the purpose and the “so what” question in an interesting way which gives a full sense of completion. In the last two sentences I conclude, “Gamers may have been the specific target audience, but its attention grabbing introduction in conjunction with an up beat argument beckons the audience to try its product because of its overall theme. Coke has produced another feel good message that broadcasts their product as the quintessential ingredient to creating the ideal society.” I expect a good conclusion of others and myself because it completes the paper and reminds the reader of the points focused on and its importance.

Altogether I think a solid piece of writing needs to have an introduction, body and conclusion, but what makes people want to read is the content. I like to do fun and interesting introductions that relate well to my specific audience and good supporting examples for the separate points. Colorful imagery and description intertwined throughout really can turn a monotone paper into one that at least won’t put the audience to sleep. This class has given me the opportunity to practice this method and improve my writing as a whole.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Coke Defaces GTA

A cute little polar bear sits in the middle of a pristine white glacier, holding a glass bottled Coca-Cola while sea lions play with a ball in the icy Arctic Ocean. These popular icons have made many appearances in Coca-Cola commercials for several years and characterize the company’s image it wishes to portray. Most of their commercials have been based on the harmonious feel-good themes that make people want to buy their products. Though the polar bear commercials do not deal with one certain aspect of a culture, many of their commercials do including a recent one based on the controversial but popular video game called Grand Theft Auto. Coca-Cola speaks to its gamer audience by incorporating the perfect society as its slogan, “The Coke side of life”, through the abstract idiosyncrasies of this video game.

Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is known for the freedom in playing and its controversial content. The general storyline is about a criminal rising in power by committing all sorts of crimes and completing missions. While those who play the game love it, there have been many who oppose its violent and explicit content. The entertainment industry has continued increasing the violence in movies, T.V., video games, and computer games. Cynthia Carter and C. Kay Weaver say in their book Violence and the Media:

Growing public concerns around the increasingly violent names of computer games grew in the 1990s, arguably culminating in 1999 when a number of journalists writing about the high school massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado noted how one of the shooters, Eric Harris, ‘reconfigured a violent video game called Doom, possibly as a dry run for the deadly shootings’ (Hubbard 1999). (140-1)

While GTA is rated Mature, children will play them anyway, causing violence as the aftermath. Coke’s commercial begins with a hostile car chase, but when the driver steps out of the car and drinks a coke from the convenience store, he starts giving people money and helps out many citizens in the town while a street performer plays a theme song in the back ground.

The song, “Give a little love and it’ll all come back to you. You’re gonna be remembered for the things that you say and do.”, outlines its strategy of cause and effect. Once the gangster drank a Coke, he and everyone around him became kinder people. By giving a homeless guy a coat, he will be less needy. By catching a delivery man’s packages, they can be safely delivered and will save the delivery man some grief. The old woman now has her purse back and won’t have to get new credit cards, ID’s, etc… The gangster undoes all the crimes like stealing and assault that could have occurred in the video game. In return, he doesn’t just recover his girlfriend but gains the respect of the whole town.

This illustrates how Coke and its company can impact people’s lives for good. The dooms day prophets’ slogan, “THE END IS NEAR”, is changed to a positive slogan, “GIVE A LITTLE LOVE”, and even the unlikely pairing of Harley riders and cops has camaraderie. It also counters some of the bad and detrimental content in the American media. But in a larger sense, if we drink Coke, the nation will come together in unity where everyone looks out for each other and has a good time. At the ending scene, the town looks like a circus with the trapeze of vehicles and people. And as with any kind of show or production, compromise and team work is required for a good performance and sense of accomplishment. It strips away racial barriers, stereotypes of people like preps, cops, and bikers, and sets them equal as it says in the Declaration of Independence.

Coke’s commercial is using a parody of GTA to boost its own character and demonstrate how people are supposed to act. The beginning of the commercial acts out exactly like the video game with a car zooming through traffic and running things over, but when the driver steps out of the car and drinks a Coke, he instantly changes attitudes from raging gang member to caring citizen while still in the game animation. Coke plays on the violent nature of the video game by creating a character that acts exactly opposite of how he would act in the real game. Instead of hurting and stealing from innocent bystanders to get ahead, he helps them in a cool and caring manner, becoming the winner by making the most friends. This promotes Coke as a good role model by demonstrating its model way of life (from the slogan), and provides a reason to buy their product.

This theme, “Give a little love”, is mostly demonstrated by actions that take place, but the logic of the street performer’s song and the dooms day prophets’ changed signs help the point as well. The sound and action are just emphasizing each other as it leads to the last visual of the Coke logo and slogan on a giant video screen.

The kindness this main character shows to all kinds of people in the city appeals to the audience's pathos. Most people usually get a good feeling when they see kindness and help being shown to others. After the guy exits the convenience store, he gives a preppy boy a Coke, a street performer money, puts out a trash can fire, and saves an old lady's purse. All the people he helps in the city are different. They include older citizens, kids, black, white, cops, and gangsters. At the end of the commercial all these diverse people come together to celebrate their unity through Coke. So Coke aims the commercial both at the video gamers and people of all kinds and places.

While incorporating the popular culture of today, the whole commercial promotes a sense of reform back to American heritage. This is “The Coke side of life”; where people concentrate on doing good things for others, no matter who they are, in order to build a better society. Gamers may have been the specific target audience, but its attention grabbing introduction in conjunction with an upbeat argument beckons the audience to try its product because of its overall theme. Coke has produced another feel good message that broadcasts their product as the quintessential ingredient to creating the ideal society.

Works Cited

Carter, Cynthia and, C. Kay Weaver.Violence and the Media. Buckingham:
OpenUniversityPress, 2003.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A Timeless Movie

One of my all time favorite movies is the Princess Bride. For those who haven’t seen it, the basic plot is about a medieval girl whose love dies, resurrects, and eventually saves her from the evil Prince Humperdinck. It has absolutely everything you could want in a movie and relates to all kinds of audiences. It has the chick flick factor for all those romantic girls who love a good romance. Buttercup is beautiful and Westley is a handsome man. “As you wish.” It has the action for those guy hormones; the sword fight with Inigo and brute strength wrestling with Fezzik. The plot twists are great. Who would have thought up someone to be “mostly dead.” Not only are there the serious, “fire swamps” and “pit of despair”, parts with damsels in distress, but the comedy is what makes me watch this movie over again. The stupid jokes I find hilarious and the characters, like Vizzini are funny without even trying (as I found in the Bonus Features).

But what is so good about the movie is that it is both entertaining and completely appropriate for all ages to watch. It’s not filled with innuendos like so many kids movies seem to be now. The action isn’t overly violent but still exciting enough. It also gives a part to someone atypical like Fezzik the giant, and shows people who are different are still like anyone else. Finally, even in our digitized world, I still often prefer this simple and dated film. It doesn’t have many parts that would make it inconceivable to graphics now. Even the parts that do show its age, to me make it even funnier. I would fully recommend this to anyone and enjoy.

The End

Coming into any writing class is very painful for me, but as it was required, I could not help it. Coming from a school where I’ve done papers for almost every class I have taken, I thought what else is there for me to learn? I had done both twelve pages research papers, compare contrast papers and analysis papers. One thing I’d never done was a blog. In fact, starting our postings I thought I had to do it in an impersonal way, not referring to myself at all. Later, I realized that our Prof. wasn’t actually going to be grading on content and that made it so much easier. Now, I still don’t like doing everything online and I find it a big hassle for the most part because for one of my posts, I tried to make everything the same font but couldn’t get it to work, and thus I got points deducted. If I could have just turned it in by paper, this wouldn’t have happened. But being able to enter hyper links and videos, and format how we like is a pretty cool feature, as is being able to read other people’s posts. The in-class portion, however, was to me a more painful experience with the awkward pauses and questions that no one could really answer, I suppose this happens in most small classes but that doesn’t mean it is any less annoying. But on the whole, the class hasn’t been that bad and I’ve enjoyed reading the other posts. Have a great summer everyone and God Bless You!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

An Ancient yet Current Worldview

Romans 5:2b-4 : Rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

I don't think anyone is actually happy about crises or bad things that happen in their life. I know I'm not. But what I've had a lot of people say is that if those bad things had never happened to them, they would never have experienced the good things that have happened. The trials we face make us into better people and more complex people. What could be the worst thing at a point in your life could end up changing your life in a positive way. In my short 18 years, God has blessed me so much with my family and living in this country, but I know the really hard times are still to come. When I don't think I can handle a decision or crisis, I know he will be there to guide me through. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28,"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest"(NIV). So many people wonder why bad things happen to good people, but I believe that humans are fallen and sinful first of all. Second, for those trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, God wishes to make them stronger and grow closer to him, like the Romans verse I started with. If you're still reading, thank you, and I just want to say that my faith is not blind, but based on the Bible, the historically accurate and inspired Word of God.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sunday, April 8, 2007

It Figers

Six sheep, four with their heads up, stand amid scraggly green grass. Three of the sheep look alertly to the left, one stares straight out of the photo, and only the rears of the right two can be seen. Behind them, an old scraped white-washed fence pens them in. Splayed fully in the background is an American flag. Only a tree to the left of it keeps the flag from being the entire background. It is slightly wrinkled, perhaps from a breeze, but it is mostly pulled taut. The bottom front right corner sports the red, white and blue Tommy Hilfiger logo with a phrase below it saying "follow the flock."

Essentially, I think this ad was originally trying to use the classification rhetorical strategy. Tommy Hilfiger is using the flag to broaden their allure to the American audience and not simply an age category. The sheep also add an appeal to animal lovers to those who are suckers for a cute looking animal with an old time flare (by including the fence). This strategy uses both the pathos and ethos appeal. The audience is supposed to feel some type of patriotic feeling, with the historical country background of the fence and sheep. The ads also looks to emote feeling by just having the sheep, for those animal lovers. Another dimension to this ad is Hilfiger aims to boost their character by not showing clothes but their patriotism. In essence they are saying their an American company for the American people.

The little words added to their logo, however, change the message entirely, creating a parody. "Follow the flock" is a phrase meant to back Tommy Hilfiger, implying that the stupid sheep in the ad are the American people (or those that buy their clothes). Instead of a pro American ad, Hilfiger is characterized as a manipulative company herding their patrons wherever they choose to lead them. Americans are thus gullible consumers and will follow an one who will lead, just like the brainless sheep.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Where are the Jeans?

In this ad for Calvin Klein Jeans, the attention is first focused on the woman sitting in the black car to the left. Her bare legs rest outside of the car, and her bare arms drape around the steering wheel and driver's seat. The yellow tank top saying "Calvin Klein Jeans" she's wearing is the focal point. The jean shorts she's wearing can barely be seen. A few accessories highlight the outfit including her rainbow colored bracelet, silver necklace and studded white belt. The next frame shows Calvin Klein Jeans logo superimposed over the empty black car.

The sex appeal used here is a little more subtle than ads with scantily clad women. It's used mostly by the shortness of her shorts and her thin body. Essentially, instead of seeing the jean shorts, her legs are more prominent, making a female audience think that by wearing those shorts her logs will also look that good. I think this is actually a very effective ad because it doesn't reveal too much, yet it also sells the product. Another view would be for guys. She's sitting in a nice looking car which would also attract the male audience into buying into the ad. They may suggest a girl by those shorts as well.

Using the pathos tactic of over-sentimentalization, the ad also enhances its appeal. This ad is supposed to be for Calvin Klein Jeans, however, only a fragment of the model's jean shorts can be seen. They are covered up by her legs, and the fact that she is sitting down. The purpose is for people to want the jeans because of hew the model looks and not because of what her shorts look like.. Besides the logos, the audience wouldn't know what product the ad was trying to sell. But overall, the ad seems effective because of its sex appeal.