Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ridiculous Consumerism

Over the past few days I’ve noticed a little change in consumers. In the beginning of this semester, my fellow classmates and I have read about how men have been the dominant figure. Therefore, it would only make sense that they make the decisions on what should be bought, and according to our readings, the men did just that. The women had to check with their husbands on everything before they bought anything.

However, after a little while, women had become the main consumers. Women look after the house and kids. They have to buy food, supplies for the house to keep it clean and looking good (this includes decorations), clothes for the family members (kids, husband, and self), and other purchases. Confronted with the question: who is the main consumer, man or woman? Many would answer woman.

However, times seemed to have changed again and I’m not sure how recently. Children seem to be the main consumer now. Yes, the parents have the money, most of the time. However, how many children suck their parents dry for money and then spend it on the first piece of crap they see? Recently, I paid a visit to a few popular teen stores in the mall for a school project. The prices of the items in there are unbelievable. For example, there is a tiny (and I mean tiny) pair of shorts that costs around $20, when the material to make it was probably only $3….and the item has holes in it! Yet, these stores are thriving. I have a hard time seeing moms go into stores like that.

It is not just teens who are big consumers. Little children also influence purchases made by parents. It can be seen very often in a grocery store. Mothers are trying to get their shopping done, but the little children are hanging out of their seats in the baskets or running around the isles begging their mom to buy something for them. Frustrated, the mom usually gives in and just throws the item in the basket to get the children to stop shouting and bystanders to stop staring at her.

I understand that parents want their children to have the best there is; however, the children also need to learn a little discipline, and modesty. I’m not condemning anyone to hell or anything, I just think it’s slightly ridiculous that twelve-year-olds are having hissy-fits because their mom won’t buy them a transformer, and 17-year-olds are blowing over $100 on an outfit that’s smaller than the tag attached to it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Assignment Purpose/Findings

The recent assignment in class was to wonder around campus and stop at random places, observe, question, and write about whatever. Near the end of this process, it became semi-fun. I normally don’t write poems on the spot; however, for the last stopping point, I managed one. Now while this was all good and fun. I can’t really see how it fits in with American Studies. Is it because we’re supposed to be observing the world around us? Maybe it’s specific to the American part of the American Studies because American’s don’t often stop and look around.

My group stopped at three points, just as instructed. While wondering around, there was no one that I could spot that would just sit and take a look outside of their own world. While heading for lunch the other day, I even heard one professor saying that all of these “kids think the world revolves around them.” I don’t know exactly what her topic was, but I do believe that statement is a little true. I’m sure there are a few “kids” that aren’t so self-centered. However, even when we were stopped, I couldn’t spot anyone picking their head up from their books to gaze around at anything else, or just stop the power-walk toward their specific destination. We American’s don’t make time for the unexpected anymore. We are becoming control freaks, or we’re getting to lazy and become bums. Either extreme is not good.

I should also note the types of places my group stopped at. The first was outside with two tables and a few seats, all surrounded by bushes. The second stop was still outside, but between two buildings with only two trees, with their bases surrounded by bricks—like a little flower pot…only for a tree…so a tree pot. The third stopping place was in the nursing building. The thoughts from the first were not too bad. People wondered about the creation of the place. The second stop brought on thoughts of the grim and general yuck of the place. At the final stop, all we could think about was gloom and doom, and we wanted out—out of the building and into the open. I can’t help thinking back to previous blogs about cutting out nature. Our series of stops slowly cut out nature, and with each progression, we grew more disgusted. Is this because humans don’t take care of what they have? Or is it because we missed the nature? Could it just be because of the season switch and we’re tired of being locked in classrooms for so long and we want to pretend to be free for a while?

I’m still unsure about what the lesson from this assignment is supposed to be. Was it supposed to take us back to the “stop and smell the roses” view of Thoreau? Was it simply an unguided find out your own meaning of life kind of thing? Maybe I’m completely off, the next class will bring closure to this assignment, besides just the report on what the groups found.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Recently I’ve been exposed to a lot of talk on racism. One would have thought this topic would have died along time ago, or at least I did. The Civil Rights movement started in 1930. This year is 2010. Shouldn’t we be done with this by now? In my thinking: yes. In reality: no.
Frequently, I have students come up to me asking for help with their papers. Some of the topics they have are on leadership. They have to say what good leadership is, and then give an example of a historical figure who was a good leader. Of course, there were students who came up with papers about Obama.
For the record, I am not a racist. I treat everyone the same, just as if I were blind. I wasn’t born early enough to know that people of different skin color were weird, or whatever, and it was “wrong” to hang out with them. I had a group of friends who were Hispanic, African-American, Indian, etc. I have nothing against people who are different.
But, these students came up to me with their papers, and it was clear to see that they were choosing their examples of leaders based on their nationality. They would pick our new president, say he is a good leader, and not give any reason why. All they could say was that he went against the odds, got a good education, and was elected president. None of that proves that he was a good leader. The purpose of that essay was not fulfilled. Their reason for picking him was because they wanted to boost his achievement as the first black president.
This subject came up again the other day when I was speaking with a friend. She was talking about how the treatment kind of flip-flopped. White people are practically crucified now for saying something against a black person, because people will flip-out and think that the person is racist. She is also not racist. She is like a mother to all around her. She said that she’s sorry for the way that the history went; however, there’s nothing she can do about history. She doesn’t have a time machine, and can’t go back in time and stop it. All she can do now is work on the present. She does this by treating everyone the same. She also feels that she shouldn’t hang because of other people’s mistakes.
I know that the past was horrible. I’m not trying to make light that this was a problem. People were treated as humans should never be treated. However, the past can’t be changed. All we can do is live in the present and work for a better future. Isn’t it time that this issue was over? Can’t both blacks and whites just drop it and move on? There are a lot of Christians on both sides, claiming to know the Bible and live by it. However, if this is true, why is there so little forgiveness and forgetfulness surrounding these Christians?
The purpose of this blog was not to offend anyone or make light of anyone’s past wounds. What I’m trying to say is that we should have been past this a long time ago. People are people. Do we need to make all mankind blind to overlook these small differences?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Material Christianity Review

I would like to think of myself as religious. I’ve been getting more and more active with my faith, which is hard to do when you live in a society where everything is separate and they’re trying to ban praying in schools and such. My faith is something I hold very close to my heart. It’s a big part of my life. It influences everything I do, and who I am. Given that, this book we’ve been reading in class has had quite an effect on me.
The book is Material Christianity. The first couple chapters were pretty cool. One of them talked about cemeteries. Usually when cemeteries are brought up in a conversation, some of the thoughts that run through the mind are: death, ghosts, perhaps monsters…and other thoughts linked to these. So, it would come as a surprise that people used to walk around cemeteries like they were in a garden. However, it was true. Thinking back to when I was very young, my family went walking through cemeteries. We would look at all of the different grave stones, stone angels, names, dates, flowers, etc.
Some religions celebrate death. Mine is one of them. So, back before the monsters modern day people constantly dwell on started to haunt the ideas of cemeteries, the cemeteries would be associated with a joy. People had died and gone to heaven. This was reason for celebration. In my religion, one does not wear black to a funeral because of this reason. The dead have only passed through the temporary life on earth and have gone home. In this sense, cemeteries are very uplifting. However, over the years they have changed. For example, the grave stones have been modified in order to mow the grass easier.
Some of the material presented in later chapters I found very offensive. Some of it just seemed like trash, bordering on blasphemous, if not out right blasphemous. One particular part was when McDannell, the author, presented John Lyon. Lyon talks about pictures of Jesus, saying how they are very feminized. He says that they send messages of temptation. He links Jesus with sluts and whores. First, this was very offensive to read as a Christian for obvious reasons.
This was also very offensive to read because I am a woman. Throughout this entire chapter, women are seen in one of two extremities: saint or whore. Lyon generalizes women as the latter.
In all honesty, this wasn’t too much of a fun book to read. There are many people who will give their opinion about anything, even if they don’t know anything about the subject. There are also many people willing to give a bad opinion, or review, about religion, simply because they can or it isn’t their religion. What are McDannell’s reasons for choosing this source? She could have picked up a person off of the street and gotten him, or her, to say the same thing. It also does not help that after all of the bashing, she only gives about three lines to balance out that she’s not just going to trash this particular faith, but others as well.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Musical Theatre and the ISMs

One of the classes I’m currently enrolled in is Topics in Drama. This class requires us to read many plays. The most recent one assigned was a musical. This class also explores the different styles of plays, or the “isms” as my professor calls them. There is realism, naturalism, absurdism, etc. The method of realism is used by playwrights to show the reality of characters and situations; they do not overdramatize situations. Some of these plays can be very dry and seem like nothing is happening. Anton Chekhov wrote The Cherry Orchard which is a really good example of a realist play.
After being instructed in these “isms”, it was interesting to hear what Dr Adams had to say about theatre. At one point he said that theatre is a “metaphor.” It’s like peaking through the windows to someone’s life. My professor for Topics in Drama said something very similar when she was describing the shift into realism. The people who made the plays wanted them to appear very real. In earlier times, the actors would use a presentation style and speak to the audience. When switching to realism, they would sometimes have their back turned to the audience. Those who made these realist plays would have most of the rehearsals with four walls and not decide until later on which wall to take out. They wanted it to really appear as if the audience was really just peaking into a window of someone’s life. After learning about realism, it was surprising to hear Dr Adams speak about peaking through windows into ordinary people’s lives and musicals in the same conversation (or lecture).
One of the other “isms” my Topics in Drama professor spoke about was expressionism. This was one of the later movements breaking away from realism. It would attempt to show the audience what a character was thinking. They did this through props, the stage setup, costumes, etc. The musical theatre songs are used to get inside the characters mind. Dr Adams showed the clip of Chicago, the song was the “Cell Block Tango”. It was a song showing the memories of the main character, Roxy. The song was meant to show the audience what’s going on inside Roxy’s head. The musical theatre seems to fit in with this category.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Clothing Families with Feed Sacks

So, I was in the car with my sister and my friend, Sophie. Sophie presented an idea that I had never thought about before, and I found it slightly interesting.
I don’t know the time period, but I know that it was before the West was fully tamed. Because of the wild nature of the land, trading was difficult. There were not many people just traveling around with a bunch of supplies looking to sell to a bunch of people. The colonies they traveled to needed specific things, food among them. Food was one of the big things to be bought and sold. Clothing, however, was very expensive. Because of this, the women would make their clothes, blankets, etc. out of the feed sacks. They would buy some flower or wheat and use the packaging to make a blanket, or a coat. I hadn’t thought of this before, although it seems very fitting. The women had to make due with what they could. They had little money and would waste very little of it. They would save all of their resources and find a way to utilize them.
It was interesting to hear about that. Then I start to compare it with how we utilize our resources. How many people recycle? There is so much stuff that’s thrown away. Scraps of food and “left-overs” get scraped off into trashcans, instead of fed to the poor or even used to save on dog food. We buy expensive stuff, just because we can. I think it makes us feel powerful knowing how much money we can just throw away.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

American Stereotype

There are many Americans who like to stereotype people. I've seen it happen to a bunch of people. However, recently I visited the Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta and saw The Canterbury Tales acted out. There were many types of characters. There was the nun, the businessman, the fun-loving goofball, and others. There was also the American couple. The characters were introduced by the nun, and the way she said "the Americans" made it quite clear that this was a stereotype. Just as she finished their introduction, the American woman shot up from her seat and lived up to her intro. She was loud and obnoxious, dressed fancily, and the boss of her husband.
While some might be offended at this, I found it mildly amusing at the time--though this may be because I went the tavern to be entertained. It was also kind of interesting to see what the stereotypical image of Americans has changed to.
When we first came to the New World, we were pioneers with axes. Then there is the image of the colonies. Thinking back on the Revolutionary War, we didn't exactly look all that powerful. Yet, we came to eventually be the most powerful force in the world. Now, we are seen as obnoxious, and loud. In movies, we are put next to the British and people make fun of the contrast, laughing at our crudeness and stupidity. We are seen as having grown fat and greedy. We know better how to handle a virtual gun than a real one, unless of course one is the American redneck huntin' over yonder for a propane tank.
After watching the play, it was interesting, and afterward not too pleasant, to discover the new stereotype of Americans after our great history.