Ad Credit: AdbustersWhile trying to choose the best advertisement to analyze (and subsequently mock) it is difficult to pick just one. But Blackspot Shoes takes indie narcissism to a whole new level. Sure, Adbusters‘ over the top, anti-corporate stance is intriguing, but unbranding shoes that knock off Converse and Doc Martens by placing an obvious white circle on the side creates a walking contradiction.

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Food Media: Criticism is a Dish Best Served Culturally.

I intend for my paper to be driven by culture-centered criticism with an emphasis on gender based research. My focus is not only on how food media portrays and influences women, but will also include perspectives on male  stereotypes in media.

By focusing on food media as an artifact of American culture, I can gain a more broad perspective of the social impact of food. American norms will be analyzed, including  the nation’s standards of size, gender, and age. Ethnicity, however, will not be central to the argument because the concept of nationality as culture is the primary basis of my research.

The Inquisitive Epicure: Looking at Food Media

Credit: Dreambird

A CakeWrecks inspired baby-carrot-cake reminds us that we are what we eat.

There has always been a lot of talk surrounding the rhetoric of food. From advertising fatty and sugary foods to kids, to showcasing skinny, indulgent Food Network chefs and models who eat nothing, the epicurean world has its own culture of communications.

Just the other day I stumbled across three real, ironic Po-Mo carrot advertisements featured in the New York Times that mock the stereotypical ways junk food is sold. These ads made me realize it would be interesting to decipher how food is commoditized (or why it’s not, in some cases), why realism is often manipulated in food representation, and how food can become a medium itself. After all, we are what we eat, and the way we consume comes with big messages that we cannot ignore.

So what are the gender stereotypes behind food? How are we empowered and disempowered by food and food media? How do others convince us to consume? What social problems lie in the ways we eat and how did a culture of obesity arise? How is food a medium in itself and how do we use it to communicate? These are all questions that beg to be answered.

Plato and Aristotle’s Excellent Adventure

Credit: nicenecktieReading a chapter about “Rhetorical Tradition” feels a lot like replaying Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure in slow-mo. Only instead of travelling through the ages with Napoleon, Billy the Kid, Socrates, Ghengis Khan, Joan of Arc, etc., the reader is having a grand old time with Plato and the Sophists (which would make an excellent band name, I might add).  Just as the shenanigans of two time travelling teenagers showed how historical figures might react to the public forum that is the mall of the 1980s, Chapter 2 of Rhetoric in Popular Culture makes the reader look to the past and realize just how different our communication has become.

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Rhetorical Methods and Critical Studies

Credit: Romana KleeI’ll admit, I read the title of chapter 3, Rhetorical Methods in Critical Studies and had no clue what I was about to read. The overall concept is complicated, but this chapter wants us to realize the importance of meaning in text and be able to argue for a perspective, or against another perspective. When we attempt to be rhetorical, we struggle over meanings in order to actualize them. There are two schools of thought over this topic, the Birmingham and the Frankfurt schools. If you adhere to the Frankfurt theory, you might think that pop culture is a means to control a population. The Birmingham believers, however,  might say that the people control the text or the culture, adapting it to their own sensibilities despite what they are fed. An example might be the popularization of the punk subculture through the decades. The culture was dredged up from the underground and watered down. Its values were subverted and turned into a mainstream marketing ploy that was spoon fed to the masses, but it was originally created by the common people. It is meant to be open to interpretation by the individual, and to represent the human condition of the subjugated or average person. The meanings of the culture are multiple, and often contradictory as Brummet claims is inherent to the struggle of meaning.

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Plato’s Cave…Today!

Credit: Anne WuytsAfter reading through Plato’s Cave allegory, one point really sticks out: If something is consistent with already held beliefs, we render it true. Scientific American’s Christie Nicholson even reported on the topic in her article “We Only Trust Experts If They Agree with Us”.  And the  the coherence theory of truth that is often discussed in religious discussion supports both of these texts.

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Social Studies Switcheroo – Like Beach Blanket Bingo, Only I Know What it Means

Credit: BenimotoIf you’ve ever watched a sitcom like I Love Lucy or Seinfeld, you probably spent more time laughing than analyzing the social struggles. Well, surprise, surprise, there is plenty of social disempowerment in those jokes!

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