Journey through English 114
I can’t believe I got through my first year of college and of course my first year of English. Between both semesters I learned a lot but there was two different topics between the two semesters that I enjoyed. This semester there was two essays that followed the topic that I enjoyed and in a way they connected to society in general.
First semester flew by and I thought it was going to be a much harder transition between high school to college but to my surprise it wasn’t that bad. During the first semester we went over different concepts such as… But my favorite assignment had to have been the Ethos, Pathos, and Logos these concepts were used to influence people in many different ways to get your audience to support you. This means that all three are different methods or strategies that a writer or advertisement uses in order to get your support. Ethos is the strategy that uses the writer or any person that the writer uses and questions their creditability. You see this a lot in advertisements that use celebrities to promote their product. Now sometimes you got to ask yourself how much knowledge or how credible is the figure on the particular subject. Pathos is the method that plays to the audience’s emotions convincing them to feel bad and ultimately into supporting the authors cause. I especially like this method because it is the most efficient and misleading. A great recent example was Kony, a tyrant dictator that is controlling south Africa, Facebook had a widespread of videos showing all the devastation he is causing and at the end of the video it shows a foundation that you should donate to stop Kony. This video had a great impact by playing to people’s emotions and had people ready to donate; the only problem with this was that the foundation was not really a credible foundation. The last method is Logos which leads people to believe that the author’s choice is the most logical one.
Second semester really only had a couple of themes and the rest of the themes were used to build upon them. One exercise I enjoyed was the idea of identity this caught my attention because I never knew that people had a wide variety of observations that they can construct your character without even knowing you. This took judging a book by its cover to a whole new level now I know that people don’t even need the whole cover to begin to judge. One great example is the fridge exercise were we examined different fridges and had to try to connect them to their owners. This tied back into the idea of space and how people get an idea of an area or a person by minor details.
Off of the main themes of this semester we were asked to write two papers one paper to analyze one of the first readings and the second to cover one idea discussed throughout the semester. For my first paper I chose to compare the advertisements in Surrogates and Gamer to real life ads. With this paper I expressed how society has let magazines or media mold us into creating a “standard” or “norm” that everyone most meet or be labeled an outsider. The second I showed how the identity of hip-hop has changed therefore people can’t give the same label to the listeners as they once did. They both tie together under the theme of identity and how people label one another based on their preferences.
May 5, 2012
Have you ever changed your whole wardrobe in order to look like a celebrity or athlete in order to look cool or hoping that this would help your social life? If you answered yes, then you fall under the theory of socialization argued by Emile Durkheim. This is due to the fact that we have an economy highly based on consumption, the advertisement business has flourished. You now see ads anywhere from billboards to animations in created societies. That’s just the two places that I want to compare the advertisements used in The Surrogates and in modern day society.
One of the sides in the debate of how individuals are influenced by society is socialization. This side argues that we have a fixed society and that it such a strong influence on an individual that it makes them have to change to fit in. In other words society already has the “norms” and everyone that’s coming in has to change in order to fit in. Probably one of the biggest distributor of society’s norms is the mass media. They play a big part in letting society know what to wear, how to act, and what they should be doing. But are their displays of our society really an accurate reflection of our society?
I have argued before that advertisements have gotten more and more controversial and have really lacked focus on the actual product itself. I even think that ideology has become the norm to use the concept that sex sells to create a good advertisement. So if you take a look at ads, specifically clothing ads, you see that the strive for perfection in the human body is the main focus. Unless you actually pay close attention you won’t catch what the ad is selling. They pick models that fill their “look”. As you can see I added some actual pictures of clothing companies that are supposed to advertise their clothes but yet they barely include any of them. Photographers use these models with perfect bodies because that is how males in society are supposed to look like. What happens if they fit the look then they are supposed to buy their clothing line because that is how they will end up like the model in the other ad with a hot skinny blonde girl. This leads people to buy magazines to see ads on what is in and what they should be wearing in order to get the girl.
In “The Surrogates” the ads were an extreme depiction of society norms however, there are many similarities between ads. The whole concept of the movie is almost to joke at the fact that society is falling deeper and deeper into the fantasy of becoming “perfect”. The book and movie is a based in the future and has the idea that people will create and control their perfect image of themselves. This is an extreme example of what is happening to society by allowing people to shop for their perfect body. One of the advertisements in the book has two models with the seductive look in their eyes but the strongest message is the writing in the ad. The ad says “Choose yourself… and “life only better” this sends the message that in order to live life better you need to look good. This would ultimately bring you happiness and success. This seems appealing, why work for it when you can just buy it? That model you see in the ad becomes the normal identity for society to the point that it is unusual to see an ugly robot or even see real people.
That is the exact thing that happened in both Gamer and Surrogates society stopped seeing real people but instead saw robots. Everyone was inside playing as someone else and nobody really saw anyone. This played a huge factor on their social values they played with no regrets and no conscious of actions. The results of that created a society were clothing was bare minimum and sex was very public even having public display of porn. People were so lost in their fake world that they neglected their personal lives.
So do ads really reflect on society itself? Since you see nothing but fit people in the ads you figure that America should be in shape right, wrong according to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35.7% of the American society is overweight. It’s funny how even in movies or books ads still follow the norm. I also love how companies are trying to bring back skinny jeans while Americans are having weight problems. Well I guess the American public is going to have to keep changing their looks in order to stay trendy.
Society is very much influenced by ads through time it has even changed values of the American public. In the 1960s women portrayed as beautiful exposed very little parts of the body and weren’t as skinny as the ads show. Another example are the bathing suits which were once just one piece not as exposing as the ones worn today. This wouldn’t have been accepted during their time period but since society was molded into this norm we have adapted it.
Have you ever felt that you have been discriminated based upon the music you listen? Believe it or not music is considered to be a space and a “space”, which is any part of your surroundings, can help define a person. So I ask myself what message does Hip-Hop send? To get a better understanding of hip-hop and the message it sends or tries to send I will analyze the history of hip-hop. I will also be looking at the main figures in hip-hop and their influences on both the industry and society. Finally I will show the progression of hip-hop in present day.
The story of hip-hop includes major events, controversies, and talent. The story of hip-hop begins in New York specifically the Bronx in the early 70s by a Jamaican DJ known as Kool Herc. (Chang 21) He was trying to incorporate rhymes over his reggae beats. “Unfortunately New Yorkers were not into reggae” this lead him to replace the reggae beat with beats of one sometimes two songs that were popular at the time. This blending created a new style and a new way to produce what would be a new genre of music. There were five new elements brought into the Hip Hop game beat boxing, mc, DJ, graffiti art, and breakdancing. Not only were the sounds different but for the first time global view and issues were being incorporated into the lyrics. Leading artists from the island at the time Bob Marley and The Roots were rapping about the struggles Jamaica faced while trying to receive its independence from Great Britain in 1962 (Garrett 53). Such struggles included political turmoil and reconstruction and intensified street violence. The struggle for power leads the streets of Jamaica to become a battle ground not only for corrupt politicians but for gang members as well. Bob Marley sung the following about the early music: “Some are leaves, some are branches, but I am di roots.” The rapping about current events and harsh living would later strive in hip-hop.
Although rappers weren’t facing hardships, such as a battle for independence, but they were battling being part of a minority group and facing the recession of the 1980s. The period of the 1980 was considered to be the Golden Age of Hip-Hop because groups and artist arose and began to speak out not only against society but to the government as well. Hip-Hop was influencing society to try to create the identity that was being portrayed by their role models. Powerful groups at the time were the N.W.A and Public Enemy which already had created an image of “Gansta” rappers. According to the Planet Rock documentary this harder image was created due to the impact of cocaine. This was because the music grew in the ghettos but rappers were poor because they couldn’t get jobs due to the recession their only customers were drug dealers because they were the only people with money. This lead drug dealers to become sponsors for rappers that they liked motivating them to make music that they would like to listen to.
If they weren’t making music for drug dealers they were becoming drug dealers. Many role models such as Snoop Dogg, B-real, T.I., Ice T and members of Wu Tang Clan admitted to using drug money to keep their success in underground hip-hop going. They were making thousands of dollars weekly and continued to put out their cds. Dealers liked to hear music about aggression and frustration of the rappers struggles in society. Many rappers told stories of their loses due to gang violence and abuse they face from government officials. Many began to argue that music was a cause for violence. A quote was taken from the trail of Ronald Ray Howard, a man who was executed for shooting a state trooper, “He grew up in the ghetto and disliked police, and these were his heroes… these rappers… telling him if you’re pulled over, just blast away” it meant to show how music took a negative effect on society. (David Carson pg.33) Many rappers were taking sides in the gang life and started claiming sides were better from others. These negative views had no limits on targets even police were attacked lyrical the most controversial song Cop killer. Cop Killer and Fuck the police were songs made in response to the police brutality that citizens in the ghetto faced daily. One event that sparked everyone was the beating of Rodney King which was caught on video. This was happening on both sides of our country a genre that was originally created to express African roots and blending of styles turned into another way for “beef” to initiate.
That is exactly what happens the term beef is used to define the problems between to individuals or in music record labels. The industry began creating groups such as Niggas With Attitudes, Public Enemy which were represented by record companies such as Death Row records and Bad Boy Records. These two powerful record labels each had their face rapper with Tupac Shakur representing the west coast and Biggie Smalls representing the East coast. Both major cities, New York and Los Angeles, had a growing number of gansta rappers that liked to bad mouth each side. But to understand the greatest feud in hip-hop you have to read about the influences the record labels had. Critics argued that “this is the music for sociopaths, just look at their icons.(Marriott) In the beginning the two were friends but after certain events it lead to controversial songs that would later influence certain members in society to act out exactly how their role models rapped. Tupac young into his career faced legal trouble in New York and ended up in jail. Death row records offered to bail him out in exchange for him to sign a deal with them which he did. Suge’s, the owner of the record label, had launched a campaign against Bad Boy records and Tupac was ready to carry through with it because he believed that they had set him up to get shot in Times Square the year before. (Garrett 225)
The beef between East and West coast would lead people to wonder what effect the music was taking on society. A showdown between both labels occurred backstage during the Soul Train Awards and Suge continued to antagonize Biggie and Puffy. (Garrett 225) Shortly Tupac released his single “Hit ‘Em Up” which took a shot at Biggie and his entourage. This lead to more artist insulting the other sides through different songs, but unfortunately this would lead to violent act that passed song lyrics. One day while Snoop Dogg tried to shoot his New York New York music video in New York his crew was shot at. That wasn’t the only acts of violence that would occur everyday fights and threats of war were taking place and another artist Ice Cube, another gansta rapper from Compton, created a hand signal that stood for west coast also now stood for war. Then we started to see icons fall on September 7, 1996 Tupac was killed in Las Vegas this event lead to the death of Biggie Smalls.
Finally government officials decided to intervene and began creating unit dedicated to rappers and their actions. That and the different interests in society had hip-hop growing and changing. Instead of gangsta rappers rapping about drugs, sex, money, bitches and hoes the rap game began to expand. It opened the way for a cultural change white and even Chicano rappers started to emerge examples of the new figures Eminem and Kid Frost. Hip-Hop has gone mainstream and became “radio friendly” the blend between pop and hip-hop created hits that people could dance to like MC Hammer in 1990 releasing “U Can’t Touch This”. This was the mentality that Hip-hop would have until present day. Now you see diversity in the rap game great examples are Honey Cocaine an Asian girl rapper and Drake a rapper that has a lot of hype who comes from Canada. The music has changed as well the genre really has no boundaries now songs have beats from other genres and includes instruments from others as well. Many hip-hop song include collaborations between rappers from both sides of the country and can even include rapping and singing. This blending of Hip Hop and other genres such as R&B allow rappers to make songs that sound good with women singers.
I believe this is due to three factors: The War on gangs, economic improvement, and civil rights progress. Operation Hammer was first to hit gangs after the shooting of Karen Toshima in Westwood Village ,CA on January 30, 1998. (Marsh 211) This allowed police chief Darryl Gates to add 650 officers and emergency funds to be used. However the city got mixed reactions all of the higher income homes favored the new war on gangs but for the citizens of the ghetto they took it as an insult because people were dying on their streets and didn’t get recognition until it happened in a richer neighborhood.(Garrett 212). Then as more people started getting opportunities to make money and started to gain equal opportunities the rappers didn’t really need to be the voice of the struggling people anymore.
Hip-Hop has certainly gone a long way from reggae DJ's in new York. But the perception has also changed now people don’t believe that people who listen to hip hop aren’t just necessarily gang members or drug dealers. Now rappers send almost a positive message by telling their stories and discouraging drugs, gangs, sex. For many such as T.I music saved his life and donates money back into music programs to encourage kids with talent to strive for a better future. So next time someone tells you that you are a thug because of the music you listen to you tell them about the change its gone through.
Rose, Tricia. The Hip Hop Wars: New York, Basic Books.2008.print
“Planet Rock.” Vh1 Planet Docs: Vh1, Lowe, Richard. Direc. Torgoff, Martin ,California. 18 Sept 2011.
Chang, Jeff. “Sipple Out Deh,” from Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, pp.21-39. Picador/St. Martin’s Press.2005
Garrett, Glen. Hip Hop Samples A Historical Anthology: California, Cognella.2010
Marriott, Robert. The Vibe History of Hip Hop: New York, Three rivers press.1999
Marsh, Dave. Village Voice: 1989