YOLO

The LonelyIsland is a musical group of comedians from the popular show Saturday Night Live (SNL). Their popular music consists of parodies and mockeries of events that have become mainstream. The majority of their songs are featured by a very well known artist, which helps the group promote the music to the public.Image

“The Motto” is a song by Drake. “The Motto” is also commonly known as the “YOLO” song. After “The Motto” was released, the track hit the top charts within weeks. The song got so popular that people started using the phrase “YOLO”, you only live once, for almost every situation. This became so popular that everyone was using it everywhere. The phrase is slowly dying down to a fad since the majority of the population now thinks it’s annoying.Image

It is evident that the lyrics of the song is comic because “YOLO” by the Lonely Island is clearly a mockery of the mainstream phrase “YOLO”. The song is a comedic act where the artists of the Lonely Island are suggesting that society shouldn’t do anything because everything is dangerous. This is ironic because “YOLO” was intended to mean that society should act upon impulse because you only have one life, so live life to its fullest, when the lyrics of the mockery song, “YOLO”, suggests that “we are still young, so hold off the fun” and changed the acronym to mean “you oughta look out”. The artists of The Lonely Island does outrageous acts to protect themselves from losing their lives by suggesting that you should “board your windows up [because] the sun is bad for your health” and that you should “always wear a straight jacket so you’re safe from yourself”, and many more crazy ideas. These suggestions are forward-looking ideas that an audience should jokingly consider. Therefore the lyrics is a dramatic illusion.

The lyrics may suggest ambiguity. The comic lyrics can be misinterpreted as tragic lyrics if the audience didn’t know what the original YOLO phrase meant. An audience can misinterpret the lyrics as protecting yourselves from something tragic. The target audience of the song is for teens and young adults because the majority of people listening to “YOLO” by The Lonely Island most likely know about, and heard “The Motto” by Drake. Evidence that the “YOLO” by The Lonely Island is directed to teens and young adults is that the song is about people who are “still young”.

The majority of the music in YOLO falls under intensity musical patterns for all musical elements (rhythmic structure, harmonic structure, melodic structure, phrasing, and instrumentation). The song also represents release musical patterns in phrasing and harmonic structure because the music is legato (connected and smooth), and the chorus harmonizes. The music on its own gives off a catchy and happy tune.

The emotional and conceptual message flows such that the overall song is congruent. The song is a combination of dramatic illusion, comic lyrics, and mostly intensity musical patterns. The message of the song is to make fun of the overused phrase YOLO, and stop society from abusing it. Again, if the  audience didn’t know drake’s song “the motto”, then the song YOLO by the lonely island may seem ambiguous. The acts in the song are so outrageous that it should, by most people, be humorous. For the audience that does understand the humour in the song, may stop using the phrase YOLO because they realize how stupid it sounds such that a popular comedic group mocked it.

Music Video: 

Lyrics: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/lonelyisland/yolo.html

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Pursuit of Happiness – Kid Cudi

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The rap song Pursuit of Happiness was released back in 2010 by Kid Cudi. In the song Kid Cudi talks about the journey one takes to achieve the happiness everyone desires, or told to aspire for. Kid Cudi’s songs typically show up on the iPods of young adults who enjoy hip-hop and rap music. This song talks about how the pursuit of happiness can induce a life style of substance abuse, anticipation and regret even though there is the possibility we will not be happy in the end.

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The lyrics of this song are catchy and easy to understand. The paralinguistic cues including the volume, pitch, rate and emphasis typically stay in the same range reflecting a calm, “chill-like” melody. The loudest part of the song is right at the beginning grabbing its listener’s attention but starts out with some discursive symbols that encourage the use of marijuana.

“Crush a bit, little bit, roll it up, take a hit
Feelin’ lit, feeling light, 2 am summer night”

Kid Cudi describes a virtual experience making life about getting intoxicated or high, and glamorize the effects these substances have. The lyrics insist that these substances are necessary for this pursuit of happiness Kid Cudi is on. The virtual time of the song compliments the meaning behind the song. When someone is under the influence they usually feel at ease and this song is supposed to replicate that feeling. Kid Cudi is able to convey a congruent message of how he feels by repeating his main point in the chorus. He talks about how he wants happiness and will keep trying to get it despite how others feel about it:

“People told me slow my roll,
I’m screaming out f*** that
Lookin’ ahead no turnin’ back
If I fall, if I die, I know I lived it to the fullest…
and missed some bullets”

Kid Cudi wants this ultimate happiness that is so perfect and is will do anything to obtain it. That’s what makes the song so relatable because everyone wants to be happy. They want to do a job that makes them happy, want to be with a partner that makes them happy or even want stability to make them happy or a combination of all. Happiness is more important than most people are willing to admit and if a person is happy they can be at ease with everything else that is occurring in life. Pursuit of Happiness has tragic lyrics, it focuses on how achieving happiness is very important but the journey may not be easy or as glamorous as expected. There will be many aspects of life that are not clear or are deceitful, but it is all worth it as longs as the end product is happiness. The chorus explains this perfectly by stating:

“I’m on the pursuit of happiness and I know
Everything that shines ain’t always gonna be gold
And I’ll be fine once I get it
I’ll be good (X2)”

By the end of the song Kid Cudi comes to terms with the fact that even though he wants happiness he may not get it and is content with that despite his desire and struggle in pursuing it.

“I’m on the pursuit of happiness,
Yeah and if I don’t get it, I’ll be good”

He even shows remorse for his substance abuse driven lifestyle, (Oh my god, why did I drink so much and smoke so much? Ah). It seems Kid Cudi chooses use these substances in order to ease the stress of the pursuit of happiness but is still unsuccessful with achieving the happiness he sought out for. Overall this song just shows that even though something is wanted, does not mean it can be obtained and we have to accept that.

Gender Analysis on “Desperate Housewives”

“Desperate Housewives” is story of Mary Alice Young, who seems to be a very perfect housewife but commits suicide due to the dark secret involving her and her husband. The friends of Mary Alice Young, Susan Mayer, Lynette Scavo, Bree Van de Kamp and Gabrielle Solis, are introduced and the story describes how they find out the reasons for Mary Alice’s suicide and how to deal with their personal problems in their lives.

The cultural text to be analyzed is the promotional video of “Desperate Housewives”. At the beginning, a woman is sitting in the bathtub bathing and three children are chasing each other while playing with the bubbles. The woman looks worried but she is depressed after the children disappear around her. Another woman is mopping the floor with red varnish but she looks very confident and arrogant. After that, a woman in a pink skirt is walking sexily and another woman just fails to cook and makes the oven full of fire but she smiles to a man bashfully. Then, there is a woman who dresses very elegantly dating a man but meanwhile she is thinking about having sex with another guy. Finally, a woman is sitting among the roses and blows out a candle, looking a man to walk across and the video shows the words – “Admit it. Everyone has a little dirty laundry.”

The promotional video reinforces some of the values and images about women. For example, women should handle the housework, behave elegantly and behave sexily. In the real world, some women behave like this because they are forced by the general ideology to do so and they are just considered the objects of men. However, in the promotional video, most of the women are independent and confident. They behave as a woman or dress as a woman because they think they are a woman so they totally have the privilege to do so.

Moreover, some women even do something which breaks the rules of daily life and the social norms. For instance, a woman mops the floor with the varnish. She is not cleaning the floor. Worse still, she is just causing a mess on the floor but she is still very satisfactory. Another woman, on the other hand, no longer protects her chastity in her thought. Although the women in the video enjoy very much, the audience may not agree with their behavior and I think there are some relationships and metaphors between the two scenes – if women do not behave well according to some of the social norms, there may be some catastrophic consequences following them.

Therefore, some social norms concerning feminism may have their values of existence. They are used to maintain the stability of society. If some of the social norms are not followed, social problems concerning morality may arouse. Thus, it is important for us to think about whether such kinds of social norms are reasonable or just the shackles which obstruct our development and deprive of our freedom.

 

Women Are Still Stuck In The Kitchen

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This commercial for Volkswagen’s newest vehicle model may not seem like an item that can be analyzed from a feminist perspective from Sellnow’s text, at least not typically, but when analyzed through each respective feminist lens, I think what it evident is that even in a minute long commercial, underlying hegemonic and patriarchal ideals still form the backbone to this ad.

 

From a Liberal Feminist Perspective, which Sellnow defines as the brand which aims to include women in traditional male-dominated areas (92). To some, perhaps, this means in other places than the home, but in this ad, it perpetuates hegemonic familial roles and even gender roles, by depicting the woman in the room that it often crassly joked about: the kitchen. This ad means to depict a typical family, the man being the breadwinner, as indicated from him coming home from work, carrying a briefcase –and the woman being in the kitchen, making a sandwich for her child, staying at home while her husband works to earn the money which in turn then buys this new, practical Volkswagen. Through a Liberal Feminist Lens, I would argue they would advocate for the woman in this ad, and in many ads alike, to be in the breadwinner role which defies typical patriarchal systems. Perhaps where we see a woman outside the home and driving the family car, coming from work where she earned money to pay for half the vehicle rather than this atypical female caretaker role cliché.

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The Radical Feminist Perspective would recognize how this ad perpetuates ideological views on family roles (93-4). This ad is designed to sell ideals to a target audience, for this one it is a family audience. It represents what every family should aspire to be like: the man runs the house, he works, he provides for his family and the woman stays at home, cleans (for the house is nice, clean, spacious), and cooks for her children and husband (as she passes a sandwich to her child). Because these are presented as ideals they are therefore continuing an already existing system, this is how Volkswagen sells cars; they would not be able to sell nor would this ad even translate to begin with if there were not existing systems in place for this ad to play off of. It’s very existence proves they are in place on ideological levels (because it addresses economical/political levels ideals because most things can be summed up on this level, but I digress). The woman is the caretaker and the man is the breadwinner, that is how they are depicted and because it is an ideal, it is an ideal that is being perpetuated as what most people should be like in their familial roles.

The Marxist Feminist Perspective is especially important with this text because it is a text that is designed with a capitalistic motive (96). The man, being the breadwinner for the family, means he has the control to decide to which car he buys for his family. It is the man who is driving it, who leaves the house, while the woman remains inside unaffiliated with the car whatsoever in the ad. A Marxist Feminist would argue that because of this, the man being the sole earner of the house, he has power over his wife and family because he decides what car he can buy. The woman has no say on the vehicle because she has no money invested in the family.

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These are three feminist perspectives discussed in Sellnow’s texts that I think are relevant and apply to this text and that are the most apparent. One thing is clear when using these analyses is that there is evident perpetuation of an ideal rather that the real situations a lot of families experience but also of a misogynistic ideal of how a family should be.

The Quest for Lighter Skin

The media plays a crucial role in setting out the idea of what is considered as “ideal female beauty” in South and East-Asian countries.  Ponds Flawless White, a branch of world-renowned company Ponds, is a fairness cream which specifically targets the young female audience in countries in these regions. In these areas, female beauty is not considered by the features of the woman, which includes facial features, height, body structure, etc, but rather the paleness of her skin. These Asian women have been finely tuned to a certain idea of female beauty, believing that tanned skin represents the impoverished, whereas those with pale skin represent wealth, class and luxury.  The campaign’s tagline, “7 days to Love,” a preferred reading, blatantly reveals to the audience that the only way they can achieve the ideal look is by using the advertised fairness product, ensuring a “radiant” complexion. If not, they will never find someone who will “love” them. The advertisement therefore discriminates women using stereotypical female traits, oppresses and conditions them into a constant state of paranoia.

In short, the advertisement, broadcasted on various forms of media around Asia, depicts a young couple splitting up where the girl is still evidently in love with the boy. After many years, she sees his picture in a magazine with his beautiful and “fair” fiancée. He later sees  her on the road but does not approach her (possibly because she is not as “radiant” as his fiancée). She later texts him, and without him knowing, his fiancée replies with a rude message. This incident urges her to start using the fairness product, where after exactly seven days of usage, she becomes “fair” and “radiant” and her love interest begs to be with her again. The female protagonist in the ad is seen wearing pink throughout the ad, a stereotypical feminine colour as well as the colour of the cream itself, which gives a “pinkish glow” to its users. She constantly thinks about her love interest despite their break up and later texts him with good wishes after knowing that he is engaged, revealing a typical “caring” and “affectionate” female nature.

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The socialization process in these Asian nations is such that, from the very beginning of their lives, females are taught to believe that they are inferior to their male counterparts. They live in accordance with the patriarchal system of society, conditioned to believe that they were born inferior, both physically and mentally, and will always remain that way. In the advertisement, the female protagonist only starts using the cream in order to please the eyes and gain the confidence she never had, reinforcing patriarchy. The male, however, is empowered, having two girls to choose from.  There is no depth to her character- she is merely an object displayed for visual pleasure to men (Sellnow 99).

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The ads have been reproduced according to country, using renowned actresses who act like models to the younger female population, (i.e. ex Miss World’s). The ad is targeted towards very young audiences, probably aged fourteen to their mid-twenties, who are yet to enter a relationship. Watching such ads at such a vulnerable age conditions and makes them more susceptible to using such products to ”enhance their beauty.” Their psychology is thus greatly affected once they feel as if they do not live up to the social expectations of the ideal woman.

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Therefore, the social stigma, beliefs and oppression on Asian women with darker complexions by this advertisement handicaps them, creating a constant state of paranoia and frustration regarding their skin complexion.

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Ponds Flawless White 7 Days to Love. Advertisement. N.p., n.d. Web.

Sellnow, Deanna D. “Feminist Perspectives.” The Rhetorical Power of Popular Culture: Considering Mediated Texts. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2010. 98-99. Print.

Misogyny disguised as Female Empowerment – A Gleeful Analysis by Jessica S.

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Every episode of Glee has a theme; and in one of their most recent episodes, Sadie Hawkins, the theme is female empowerment. The episode starts off with Tina, a glee club member, complaining to the “Too Young to be Bitter Club”, a group of girls who complain about being treated unequally, but the name in itself is degrading. She questions “Why are the guys so empowered to ask us to a dance, when we just have to sit around and wait, wouldn’t it be great if we got to choose?” She then proceeds to organize a Sadie Hawkins dance, where the girls can ask the guys. The main hegemony of the episode is introduced, where it is abnormal for a girl to ask a guy to the dance and that they are not allowed to do it any other time otherwise it is abnormal.

The girls are portrayed as models, the viewers are supposed to agree with them. We are supposed to agree with Tina, it is desirable to want to feel empowered, but undesirable to go against societies rules to ask out boys.

In a lot of ways Glee can be looked through an inflected oppositional reading just because the show itself tries to break away from the status quo. However, in Sadie Hawkins, the messages can be seen as preferred occluded reading because they are telling you what is normal and desirable under the blanket that the show is promoting feminist empowerment.

There is a scene where a couple of the glee club guys are walking down the school hallway, the girls are gawking at them, and they feel awkward. Artie and Ryder are having a conversation and Brittany interrupts.

Artie: “I feel totally powerless”                                                                                           Ryder: “This must be what the girls feel like all the time…”                                           Brittany (annoyed): “It is”

These few lines exemplify radical feminism. The ideology being that, women have less power than men. The males feel the difference between having power as a male, whereas feeling powerless when put in a situation a female is usually in. What is worse is that the female reinforces that feeling is accurate. It amplifies the patriarchal system and the masculine hegemony.

Even when asking out the guys, Kitty, one of the cheerleaders in the glee club encounters backlash because she is seen as obnoxious. To refute this she states “I’m a mean, hot, bitch, who likes to get what she wants”, deducing that in order to get what you want if you are female, you are labeled a “bitch”, and she accepts it, as it is what she calls herself.

The girls, in this episode, never actually display any “female empowering” qualities, other than asking out their dates, but instead the men just keep saying that they are “empowered”. The even sing a female empowered song titled “No Scrubs” by TLC. But, by having the men tell them this, they still have all the power, and only if they tell the women they are powerful it gratifies it. Essentially, after the Sadie Hawkins dance is over everything will return to “normal”. At the end of the episode, it seems the females have become empowered and feel good about themselves. The “Too Young to be Bitter Club” gets cancelled, and a bunch of the girls are seen celebrating their newfound empowerment.

When a show such as Glee heavily promotes and endorses acceptance and being different, misogyny tends to get overlooked. The main characters are part of a glee club, and are considered outcasts; they are multiracial, transgendered, gay, bisexual, lesbian, handicapped, and have mental illnesses. Their targeted audience is assumed to be more cultured and accepting, which in some ways makes it easier to accept what is normal on Glee, because the viewers expect them to go against the social norms of society and promote equality. Being a show that is both trying to break away from the social norms, and at the same time ratifying misogyny sends mixed messages. It can make the viewers agree with certain anti-feminist ideologies without thinking about the actual message the show is trying to express.

Feminism and The Paper Bag Princess

Robert Munsch’s classic children’s book “The Paper Bag Princess” provides a twist on the classic “damsel in distress” tale.  In this story, a dragon burns down the Princess’ castle and steals away her Prince, who was also her fiancée. Instead of the typical Prince Charming saving the day, it was the Princess that had to come to the Prince’s rescue wearing nothing but a paper bag. This portrays a subverted oppositional reading that goes against the dominant view of females in fairy tales as wearing sparkling jewelry, long gowns, and dependent on their prince .  The target audience (preschool children) are taught that girls do not have to look pretty and wait for their prince charming to save the day; they can just as easily take charge and solve their own dilemmas. This message is delivered through Princess Elizabeth’s perseverance in fighting the giant intimidating dragon, her unorthodox “unladylike” attire and her decision to not marry the prince in the end.

In the beginning, Princess Elizabeth is introduced as a “beautiful princess” that had “expensive princess cloths”.  She is pictured wearing a long pink dress and blond hair.  However, when the dragon burns down her castle, she is left covered in ashes with messy hair and no clothes or shoes.  This is not the typical princess look. She looks dirty and sloppy which would not be desirable to most people.  Despite this, Princess Elizabeth still decided to search for her true love.  Instead of taking the predictable route of fighting the dragon (as you would expect a male to do in her case), she decided to try and outwit and manipulate him to get her prince back, showing that women can be intellectually capable and employ the power of persuasion.  While most fairy tales would probably have shown a princess being terrified to fight a giant fire breathing dragon, the Princess did not hesitate at all in taking on the dragon.  This teaches young girls the value of fighting their own battles.  In the end, when the she finally saved the Prince, he responded by saying, “Come back when you are dressed like a real princess” (Munsch, 16)

Readers see her appearance as an inappropriate female characteristic.  The Prince’s comment about her not being a “real” princess heavily supports the dominant hegemony that women should be dressed in clean girly clothes.  Despite the suggestion that the Princess should be seen as an “anti-model”, she maintained her headstrong attitude and refused to conform to that stereotype.  Her response was quite witty and unsuspecting for a princess: “Your clothes are really pretty and your hair is very neat. You look like a real prince, but you are a bum” (Munsch, 17).  They then decided not to get married, and she is shown frolicking in the sunlight, paper bag and all.  This goes against the typical “happily ever after” ending in fairy tales.  She was not left heartbroken and helpless; rather, she seemed to look free and liberated now that she was no longer bounded by the constraints of the typical “princess life”.

The messages depicted in The Paper Bag Princess go against the masculine hegemony that supports the oppression of females.  While typical children’s’ fairytales feature a longing princess waiting for her chivalrous knight in shining armor to come galavanting on a horse, Princess Elizabeth takes things into her own hands in order to save the day.  Although the Prince’s character tries to promote the stereotypical feminine princess image and outright rejects Elizabeth when she shows up in a paper bag, it is her attitude and reluctance to give in to that stereotype that provides the overall basis of the subverted oppositional reading.  She has no problem putting the prince in his place and leave him, showing young readers that women are independent and are not under a man’s control.

Munsch, Robert N. The Paper Bag Princess. Toronto: Annick Press, 1980. Print.