Tag Archives: pop culture

Are We Famous Yet?

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Without a societal influence, pop culture wouldn’t even exist. As contributors, we root it on and can’t live without it. We want Lindsay Lohan to get another DUI or another unexpected pregnancy by the Kardashians’ just so we can talk about it. Our current society thrives on the drama in other people’s lives. We are the reason pop culture is so large in our culture. We tweet about it, talk about it, and even Instagram it. We are the reason why E! has the ability to keep airing shows that are absolutely pointless and simply provide a false sense of “reality” through television. Yet, we buy it, both literally and figuratively. We purchase the tabloids, and just because it’s printed in a magazine automatically means that it must be true. If that was the case, then that would mean Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have adopted 4 more kids and have divorced probably 6 or 7 times. The tabloids will make up information just to sell, but who else is there to blame but ourselves? And our lives are just as dramatic, right? So why aren’t we famous yet?

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WE are the pop in pop culture. We create the drama, and we feed it. We crave it so much that naturally organizations and production studios will give us what we want to see. The fake relationships for publicity, the praise for being thin and the distaste for those who are bigger, sex tapes, and so much more. Through the entire course of the semester, I’ve learned that pop culture was created because we wanted it to be. We get bored of our own personal lives that we need to rely on those of celebrities and socialites. We watch them on television, in movies, read about them in magazines, follow them on social media, and even tweet at them. We want to feel like we are a part of it all, like we know them. We were raised to admire these perfectly photoshopped men and women and aspire to be like them. Although new media did not originally cultivate this, its recent boom has done nothing but add to it.

The only way of accessing news in pop culture was from traditional media sources, such as print (magazines and newspapers), television, movies, radio, etc. Now, it’s everywhere. This blog, Twitter, Facebook, TMZ, E!, YouTube, Yahoo!, on your phone, your laptop/tablet, in everyday conversations, and the list goes on. The reason we all follow each of these new media outlets is because we want to know information first. It doesn’t matter anymore if people know, since everyone is bound to find out. Even in everyday situations, if you make one mistake, it’s talked about. Yet, being the first to know takes a lot more precedence over knowing about it in the first place. So by following your favorite celebrity, you get the the notion that you were the first to know and get a sense of joy because of it. I mean, the only reason I found out that Justin Bieber yet another tattoo is because he posted about 5 times about it on his Instagram.

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Celebrities’ social media outlets mainly highlight the “normalcies” of their everyday life. From the food they eat, to the cars they drive in, to their plethora of expensive clothing and accessories, their social media is a way to showcase it all. Seeing these posts makes us want to do the same, and so we do. We post our sub-par meal, talk about the cars we are test-driving and leasing, and our newly thrifted shirt from Salvation Army. By doing this, we feel like we are a part of the same world as these celebrities. If Vanessa Hudgens can post a photo of her nails and Alexander McQueen shoes and get 93k likes, then why can’t we? We want to be famous, and the only way we know how is to copy already-famous people.

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New media changes the way we think, act, and even uphold ourselves. A lot of this will be discussed in my final new media project, “The Fourth Wall,” which will analyze how we feel a certain attachment and ownership over celebrities through our use and their use in social media. Furthermore, engaging in pop culture changes us. It creates a disconnect between social interactions and online ones. People use their phones as an escape and prefer this method of communication over face-to-face conversation. We feel connected to our devices, because as pop culture encourages, we need to be the first to know 100% of the time. We can’t get away from our media devices because we feel a loss in connection to the “world” when we are without. I am guilty of this myself. Both allowing pop culture to envelop me, but also allowing new media to dictate my actions. I’ll admit, all of my accusations above I am susceptible to. I find myself often caring more about my favorite celebrities than what’s going on with the government. I have been conditioned to look at celebrities for newsworthy information, rather than political figures and actions that actually have control over the direction of our society. We crave infamy, and being famous for no absolute reason, as long as that gets us the attention that we so desire. Our culture has created the term ‘FOMO,’ which stands for ‘Fear Of Missing Out.’ This directly correlates with what I’m discussing because we never want to be left out or missing out on anything. We want to be everywhere and know everything, all at the same time. So we post about it, or read about it in our idols’ lives, all so we feel like we are a bigger part of this discourse community. We all want to fit in, and what better way than to completely detach ourselves from anything that is true and valuable and grab on to the first sight of fame? Therefore, the question I would like to pose and leave open to interpretation is this: Did we create pop culture or did pop culture create us?

Think about it and get back to me when you know the answer since I’m still trying to figure it out for myself.

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Love Not H8

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The NOH8 Campaign is a organization “whose mission is to promote marriage, gender and human equality through education, advocacy, social media, and visual protest.” The campaign has to do with Proposition 8 and its passing in California. The NOH8 campaign is a “photographic silent protest created by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska and partner Jeff Parshley in direct response to the passage of Proposition 8.” All photos are of a subject with duct tape over their mouth symbolizing them being silenced by Prop 8 with the phrase “NOH8” painted on their cheek.

This campaign was created in 2009 in Los Angeles, CA, and there are more than 33,000 photos taken to this day. The reason I chose this campaign as a prominent social action project in my discourse community is because of its success among celebrities and their fans. Prominent celebrities that have taken part of the campaign include the Kardashians, Larry King, Lance Bass, Josh Hutcherson, stars of Glee, Kathy Griffin, and Ricky Martin.

NOH8_JennaAndKevin 5716_mediumThis campaign uses new media in the forms of Twitter and Facebook. The photographs are widely used in order to raise awareness of marriage equality and Prop 8. This is important since if the celebrities themselves post their own photo from the shoot, or tweet about it, this will cause their fans to be interested to find out what NOH8 is all about. Celebrities are influential among young adults and teens, and their influence is important in terms of education about Prop 8. These young adults are going to be the next leaders and if they know early on about political issues and can take a stand, the better off our society will be in the future. Allowing fans to engage in campaigns that are backed by celebrities can be the biggest selling point of NOH8.

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Fans of pop culture want to be celebrities so one of the attractive aspects of this campaign is that groups of people or individuals can have their own photoshoots, recreating the image that Bouska takes, making them feel like a part of something bigger than themselves. It can be a rite of passage for many people, and with the celebrity influence, the total reach of this campaign is vast. Regardless of when these photos were taken, once something regarding marriage equality and the LGBT community come up, celebrities often repost or tweet about this campaign, sort of like a ‘Throwback Thursday’ or a “Remember when…?” which makes these photos relevant long-term. So even if a photo was taken back in 2009, its purpose can be just as powerful today.

NOH8’s Twitter feed is flooded with retweets of users who have personally submitted their own photo with the NOH8 logo and duct tape, showing interaction with supporters and fans.

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I think campaigns that have a celebrity or pop culture influence are often more successful than those without. Although the validity or the intent of the campaign may not be as powerful as others, it is all about who’s talking about it and what they’re saying. Just like any celebrity, its about the 15 minutes of fame, which this campaign definitely had, and still has to this day. NOH8 also hosts open photoshoots for anyone to take a part in, with one recently in Washington D.C.. Similar to fan-made photos or “selfies,” this allows more people to get involved and actually have their photo taken by the same photographer who has shot with many celebrities. In addition, both members of the LGBT community and non-LGBT people have participated in the campaign, making it applicable to all.

Overall, I think this campaign is successful and still remains that way to this day. Campaigns with a celebrity endorsement are very effective in the pop culture community since everyone wants to be “just like them.” So by supporting celebrities or this campaign, people think they are one step closer to being their idol. The entire campaign is to raise awareness and to spread the message of equality, and it does so quite effectively. Although I think this campaign would be successful without the use of celebrities, its use generates publicity and gets people both involved and talking. As a ‘do good’ and social action campaign, its use of social media and celebrity influence to promote knowledge about Prop 8 is smart and compelling.

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E! is for …

A is for Ashton, B is for Britney, C is for Cocaine, D is for DUI, and E! is your source for all celebrity reality television and gossip. E! is an American cable channel that features red carpet highlights, reality television (home of Keeping Up with the Kardashians), feature films, and occasional celebrity documentaries. I chose the entire E! channel, with analysis on specific embedded videos, to relate to you, my audience, and to pop culture as a whole. Their YouTube channel can be found here.

E! is quite smart actually. Considering they have an entire cable channel to present their opinions and thoughts on pop culture, they also utilize YouTube to present content to get viewers more hooked on their channel than most probably already are. Although full episodes of their shows are not available (on YouTube at least), they show clips of actual episodes to get viewers interested into their shows, which in turn increases their ratings.

The oral delivery of each video is subjective to the shows and “characters” or personas that these real life people illustrate. For example, in the video embedded above, Kim is worried about appearing on her mom’s new talk show because she is self-conscious about her post-baby body. Her delivery of speech and emotion is much different than, let’s say, Hayden Panettiere’s live red carpet interview.

Panettiere talks about her philanthropic work while Kardashian talks about how a headband makes her look like a pirate. So the oral delivery in terms of tone, inflection, speech, etc., are vastly different, considering the persona that these two people are known for or the person they want to appear as. This in turn goes hand in hand with the body/identity of the videos and the content of them. Each video gives off a different representation of the people on them, which affects the entire online representation of E! as a brand. In the video below, Ryan Seacrest interviews Justin Bieber at the 2010 Grammys. It is interesting that this video is listed as one of the most ‘popular uploads’ of the E! video feed with over 1 million views since it is from 3 years ago.

In terms of identity, the identity that Bieber has in this video is much different than the identity he has now. Covered in tattoos and drug scandals, it’s almost as if fans or E! is keeping this video up to show how Bieber is still this little boy, or to help viewers remember why they fell in love with Bieber in the first place.

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Each of the E!’s videos show a celebrity in an “everyday” setting, almost to show viewers that these stars are just like us. They attempt to represent them and their glamorous life, while also staying true to showing them as real people who experience the same situations that we average humans do. I mean, I’m always struggling with whether or not I need to appear on my mom’s talk show or not.

In terms of distribution and circulation, E! is both simple and complex at the same time. Each video starts off with a 15 second advertisement, which I consider much worse than those 5 second ones you can skip. They constantly upload and distribute videos since there have been new video uploads in the mere week that happened between me choosing the channel and actually writing about it. The audience is broad since it is on YouTube, but it is also very targeted and specific since it is mainly for existing E! viewers (on TV) and pop culture addicts. The platform being YouTube makes watching videos easy since most users already know how YouTube works.

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E! is available on your mobile phone, and they even have a page and article here that discusses the ability to stream E! on your phone. Each video also has the option for closed captioning, as well as different levels of quality (including 1080p), making E! quite accessible. There are also lower qualities for people that have trouble loading videos or slower internet speed. E! also has both a Facebook and Twitter account that both feature link-outs to their videos.

Although their videos are not interactive, the content is. On the homepage of their YouTube account, they have a section for recent uploads, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, popular uploads, and other shows. It is a given why recent uploads is the first section, but for the Kardashians, it is because E! realizes that it is one of their most popular shows. They realize that users watch those videos more so than others and therefore they rank them higher on their site. Popular uploads is a important section since that is based simply on the amount of views, which is user-based and generated. It is both usable since viewers have the ability to watch the videos later, favorite, and pause, and it is also has critical engagement since users can comment on videos and have a dialogue with other users. It is not at the point of co-production because users are not able to create or revise content.

The economics of E!’s videos are complicated. The motivation to create videos and content is based on users and their interest in different pop culture topics. So the reason E! exists is because they realize that us viewers want more of the drama and gossip. They are motivated to produce since it means more money for them and more entertainment for you and I. There is motivation to access the content since often times the videos will be ‘Sneak Peeks’ or ‘Behind the Scene’ videos that give more insight into an episode or event that normal cable viewers wouldn’t see. Their videos generally don’t rack up a large amount of views since a lot of the content is the same as what’s seen in an actual episode that most viewers are already watching. Each video has at least 1,000 views, which is decent considering the amount of videos they upload and produce for their YouTube channel.

One form of interaction I found interesting was how it seems like Giuliana Rancic has her own television show simply based on her viewers’ response towards her. I didn’t know that she had her own reality show (Giuliana and Bill) until I saw that there were reality show clips of her.

She is a host of many of E!’s shows and is a television personality/journalist, so for her to have her own show is almost jaw-dropping. It was first about making shows about celebrities and having people comment on them, but now it’s turned into television shows about the people hosting themselves who make the commentary on the celebrities that they are showing and criticizing or praising. Again, this is an example of pop culture’s influence on making someone famous. Yes, Rancic has a talent in journalism and has a strong television presence, but because she received a positive reaction from fans, E! decided to give her her own show. This just goes to show how viral pop culture really is and how easy it is for people to become “famous” for almost no reason. So in terms of the economics of E! in general, they are doing everything right. They are able to keep the attention of their viewers and have them interact and respond to their content. Viewers interact, comment, watch, and this is what drives E! to keep producing videos.

These videos only add more to the discourse of pop culture since they act as something for people to talk about, and as I previously stated, it’s all about who’s talking about you. Fame isn’t about talent, it’s about getting people to be interested in what you have to offer, whether that’s your looks, money, or sheer talent to cause drama. E! provides these celebrities a place to be the person that they want to be and give their audience topics to talk about. With their YouTube channel, the discourse is only heightened and extended due to the accessibility to the content. Without E!, I don’t think there would be much to talk about since it’s almost hard for pop culture to exist without videos where people rate Victoria Beckham’s boobs (yes, that was completely sarcastic).

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Pop Culture Princess

NYC Socialite

Olivia Palermo – NYC Socialite

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I planned to edit the ‘socialite’ article on Wikipedia, and I wanted to let you, my loyal followers, know that I completed this task! You can find the updated article by visiting the actual ‘socialite‘ page. I added what a socialite meant in the 18th and 19th century, and what it means to be a socialite here and now in the 21st century. There is definitely a connection between the different centuries that I found quite interesting through my research.

I found the process of contributing to Wikipedia very fascinating and almost invigorating. I use Wikipedia so frequently and rely on it quite often when I need information, so to see my own writing seen on such a reliable source is actually really cool. Yet, there were a few things I found difficult with the process. Wikipedia being such a “reliable” source (I say that loosely since now that I have edited a page, I don’t think it is as reliable as I used to think), I almost feel a weird sense of pressure to be 100% accurate with what I’m saying. I obviously think what I’m writing is 100% true, but there is also a lack of credibility. I don’t want to let fellow-Wiki users down! It was also hard to be objective regarding the topic of being a socialite. I definitely have my own opinions regarding it, but all of the information needs to be factual, so I relied on other Wikipedia and website sources to help me piece together my thoughts. You will see that when talking about Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton, I referenced their respective Wikipedia articles and used the sources that those pages referenced when talking about specifics.

I learned a lot about the pop culture influence on socialites and how fame isn’t as easy, or cheap. I found a wonderful article from The New York Times titled “The True Cost of Being An NYC Socialite” that gave me insight on how much a year it costs for young and old socialites of New York. Well, there goes my dreams of ever becoming one! These socialites are truly the princes and princesses of America.

In relation to the hypertexts I use for my field, I found it hard to find factual information on pop culture since it is a industry and topic that varies with opinion. There is no scientific evidence or any statistics that can truly reveal how the term ‘socialite’ has changed over time and through the media’s influence. It is more of a known fact and concept that was so easy for me to write about. It is through the interpretation of current socialites and the lives they live that I was able to add to the article. Overall, it was an interesting experience that I am glad I now know how to do. I am also glad I chose the topic of socialites and the concept of fame since it has given me insight on pop culture and its ability to persuade and be all-consuming in our current society (which will help my further discussion on this topic).

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Twerk Miley, Twerk

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All eyes are currently on Miley Cyrus in the world of pop culture. From her oh-so-innocent days of being Hannah Montana to her racy and very nude “Wrecking Ball” music video, she has definitely attracted the attention of almost everyone who’s interested in celebrity culture and gossip.

We always knew that Miley Cyrus would someday go down the road she is currently on. You know, the same road that celebrities like Britney Spears and Amanda Bynes were/are on. Yet, this change has been a huge shock to America. It started when she cut her hair and dyed it platinum blonde, which she cut even shorter as of late. She started twerking, which according to the Oxford Dictionaries (yes, it’s in the dictionary) is a verb and means, “Dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.”

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As you can already presume, this has caused quite the controversy with the parents of teens who love Miley and who grew up with Hannah Montana. They look to Miley as an idol, but what do you do when your idol starts dirty dancing on a 36 year old man who sings a song that’s borderline about rape? Why yes, I’m talking about Robin Thicke (the dude in the photo above) and his song “Blurred Lines,” which he performed a duet with Miley Cyrus at the Video Music Award’s last month. Did I mention that he is a father himself?

I also forgot to mention her recent photoshoot with famous photographer, Terry Richardson, where she poses nude (nip slip and all) for the entire world to see. You can check out some of the photos here (they are definitely NSFW). If you think those are bad, search for the remainder of the photos and you’ll see why parents all across the globe are screaming.

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To bring this back to the world of pop culture and its relation to new media, Miley can’t be entirely blamed for her behavior. It is us, the messed up society that made her this way. She only had to turn on her TV to see what was going on in the world and its celebrities. Every day you hear about someone who got a DUI, or who went to rehab, and that’s publicity. That’s attention. Who doesn’t like the spotlight? Even if it’s only for your 15 minutes of fame. As mentioned in my previous post, Miley herself states, “You’re always gonna make people talk…You might as well make them talk for like, 2 weeks, rather than 2 seconds.” People who idol her want to be her, and apparently she doesn’t mind one bit. You aren’t anyone until you’re talked about, well, at least in terms of pop culture.

If you’re wondering why I chose to title this post “Twerk Miley, Twerk,” take a listen to one of Jay-Z’s songs off his album, “Somewhereinamerica”, and you’ll see why. I think you know you’ve done something wrong when the king of rap chooses to bash you in a song, but I guess Miley just can’t take the hint.

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The POP in Pop Culture

Our current society is obsessed with the term celebrity. We crave the attention actors and musical artists get with ease. From fast cars, red carpets, and designer everything, you would think, who wouldn’t want to live that lifestyle? It is, after all, a “lifestyle.” This lifestyle is what pop culture is all about. This media binge (hence the name of my blog) is all about the intake of everything from celebrity gossip, top news stories, entertainment, movies, TV, and music. The purpose of this blog is to analyze and comment on current pop culture, whatever that may be. I hope to accomplish a better understanding as to why our society is so infatuated with this culture.

To begin this blog by referencing pop culture itself, The Bling Ring is a movie that was released this summer that really shed light on our culture’s obsession with celebrities and fame. The movie is about a group of kids from Calabasas that stole millions from celebrities because they wanted to be ‘just like them.’  Based on real life events that took place just a few years ago, the film is almost sickening considering the lengths these teens went to achieve this sense of perfection and infamy. It only goes to show how detrimental this constant intake of the media can be.

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Post-graduation, I hope to enter the realm of publicity and public relations, an occupation that often times deals directly with the happenings of pop culture. I am currently unclear as to what industry I would like to start in, but the broad realm of entertainment seems to be a definite possibility. I initially chose the layout and theme of my blog to replicate that of my other fashion blog, but felt it was too similar so I went down a different path. I want my blog to have a tabloid sort of feel with it’s layout, widgets, and topics.

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The media consumes almost all of my generation, whether that is through social media or entertainment outlets, and I want to figure out why. I want to analyze my own thoughts and figure out why top pop culture stories are simply that, top stories. I hope you’ll join me on my journey to understanding our culture’s unhealthy adaptation to this form of new media.

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