Sunday, 28 February 2016

Less Than Zero

I have chosen to post a link to a site from The New York Times dealing with the novel Less Than Zero. I think it both helps and problematises the representation of the 1980s American culture. I am going to focus on drugs, Los Angeles and youth culture. -Review by The New York Times.

This review highlights the positive and negative aspects of the novel, suggesting that the book does help us to understand the 'blank generation', and what the 1980s American culture was like, for the wealthy young adults in education. It states, 'first-person narrative encourages one to read the novel as a largely autobiographical account of what it's like to grow up, rich and jaded, in Beverly Hills'. This indicates that because the novel is written in the first person, it is automatically associated with reality, and what it is like for a young rich person, to live and grow up in California. It later adds, 'If Mr. Ellis's story seems grossly sensationalistic at times -among the events described are a gang-rape of a 12-year-old girl - it also possesses an unnerving air of documentary reality, underlined by the author's cool, deadpan prose.'. Although this does problematise the novel's representation of the 1980s, because it indicates that this era was not the best and most safe time to live your life, especially if you are a young female, it does also help to understand the 1980s too. The novel helps to understand this decade, as it shows the reality of the 1980s, and the fact that the author describes gang-rape, alongside drugs etc., with an emotionless response to knowing that these things happen around him. Therefore, it suggests that this was considered fairly common, which in turn, gives us an understanding of the representation of the 1980s. It also problematises the novels representation of the 1980s, because it makes the 1980s in the United States to be seen as terrible, which may or may not be the case.

Interestingly, the novel Less Than Zero, also is similar to the notion of the Yuppie Culture that also happened in the 1980s. This is because the book suggests that the rich young adults have adopted their parents values and attitudes, such as selfishness and no thought about others. The New York Times comments, 'The narrator, Clay, and his friends - who have names like Rip, Blair, Kim, Cliff, Trent and Alana - all drive BMW's and Porsches, hang out at the Polo Lounge and Spago, and spend their trust funds on designer clothing, porno films and, of course, liquor and drugs. None of them, so far as the reader can tell, has any ambitions, aspirations, or interest in the world at large.' This resembles the stereotypical Yuppie at the time. The fact that they all drive cars such as Porsches, indicates their wealth and arguably, success. Alongside this, they spend their money on commodities, and live in the present, rather than invest in the future. The fact that they do not have any interest in the world, or even others close to them, illustrates that they are selfish and could also be considered a Yuppie. In this instance, the novel's representation of the 1980s is not problematic, but instead, understandable. This is because the Yuppie culture was a huge culture in this decade, thus the novel helps our understanding of the culture of young, wealthy and selfish individuals within the 1980s.

The location of the novel is significant when looking at the representation of the 1980s, because it provides readers with a sense of perfection. The idea that there are beaches, a warm climate, and fits certain American ideology. However, this is quickly reversed when the author indicates what actually occurs in this place, often associated with paradise, in many films and novels. That is that drugs, rape, abuse and alienation happen. The New York Times argue,'''Less Than Zero'' ends up feeling more like a ''60 Minutes'' documentary on desperate youth than a full-fledged novel. Its narrative, told in fast-paced, video-like clips, devolves into a litany of predictable scenes involving sex, drugs and rock-and-roll. And the characters remain so alike in their aimlessness and disaffection that the reader has a pretty hard time of it telling them apart.' This concludes that although the novel is not the most enjoyable book to read, it does to a certain extent, provide an understanding of reality of the 1980s. Although, that being said, at the same time, the narrative of sex, drugs, rock-and-roll, abuse, rape and wealth, does also problematise our understanding of the 1980s, because it questions whether the 1980s was an era to remember as successful, or not, when looking at the urban life in the United States.

Grace La Traille


Thursday, 25 February 2016

Express Yourself/Bad Blood

Express Yourself - Madonna

When I think of the 80s, one of the many songs that stand out to me has to be, Madonna's 'Express Yourself'. The song made such a statement during the era, and received very positive reviews for it's feminist approach to sexuality at the time. Critics commented "the video portrayed the deconstructive gender-bending approach associated with free play and self-reflexivity of images and postmodernism'. 

Madonna was one of the biggest icons of the 80s, from her style, her sexuality, and her music which caused controversies throughout the media. The song really emphasises the need for women to take control of their feelings and needs, without having dependence on others.

The 80s was a decade of gender equality. Women were making their mark  in society as opposed to sticking to the typical roles that were supposed of them, and this video 

Bad Blood - Taylor Swift ft Kendrick Lamar

I've chosen Taylor Swifts 'Bad Blood' as a video from today, which I believe will represent the contemporary, thirty years from now. The message this video sends is all about female empowerment. Throughout the song, every single female in the video is shown, in some way, to have a powerful persona. Either they have/are using weapons (guns, knifes, etc.), breaking through brick walls, fighting in a boxing ring, or riding a motorbike, which are all stereotypically thought of as more manly behaviours and actions, and to see so many women taking a stand and showing the world that women are just as tough as men, is something that I believe people will remember for years.
Modern day feminism has blown up in pop-culture and todays media, with celebrity women who stand up to feminist issues, helping to create a positive change in society. Taylor Swifts music video emphasis's female independence and fighting for what you believe in.Apart from the empowerment message this video sends, it is also clearly very modernised, opening with an image of New York City and then entering a very modern office. After that it seems almost futuristic with the use of the LED lighting, machinery, gadgets and even the choice of fashion. Everything about the scenery can be seen as a representation of modern technology and how the modern world is changing so drastically with the use of technology, and possibly a dig at todays youths dependency on it. 

The song it's self it easily recognised as a song from this decade. It has a very 'modern pop' sound, mixed with Kendrick Lamar's rapping parts. It's definitely a statement song, with great representation for this era.

Music Videos

Music Video from the 1980's: Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want To Have Fun

I have chosen Cyndi Lauper 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' as a representation for the 1980's as it shows the changing mindset of women in the workforce and how they were becoming more independent. 

This music video starts with presenting what the traditional women looked like and their roles which was staying at home to look after the children and house. Throughout this video, this character expresses disapproval of the younger, modern women who choose to party after working all day. This disapproval was mirrored in this time period by those who believed women should not attain this freedom. 

Cyndi Lauper contrasts this character by dancing crazily and wearing unique clothing. This creates the idea that women can do whatever they want and they do not have to uphold certain standards or ways of acting in society. 

The song and video focus on women being able to work during the day, leaving time to go out at night. This can be seen in the video with women in work clothes such as a nurses uniform and business attire, reiterating the fact that it is 'when the working day is done' that women should then be able to go out, yet they still hold their professions during the day. 

Contemporary Music Video: Taylor Swift - Bad Blood

I have chosen Taylor Swift, Bad Blood as a contemporary music video that could represent common views of women in society today as even though the storyline of the video is not true, the idea of women empowerment is a large focus. 

In this video, women are shown as strong, brave and powerful, something that is fought for in the world today. We see the characters being able to do anything they want to including stereotypical male things such as riding motorbikes and wrestling. 

This video also presents the idea of being a time of technological advances.  This is very accurate when compared to the first music video as the only technology shown is a corded telephone. 

The idea of fighting and war in this music video is something that is often glorified today and is represented in many films and other forms of media. This suggests that we currently live in a time where fighting is seen as exciting and the effects of this are not always considered. 

This music video also includes many famous people of the time including singers, models and actors. This represents current society as people will be able to look back on the video and understand the high position that people in the spotlight hold.


music videos

olivia newton john - physical

Recorded in 1981, ‘Physical’ rode to number one in America on the Billboard top 100 and remained there for 10 weeks. It was Olivia Newton-John’s most popular single of her career in the United States as well as her final number one.
Just by watching the music video you can tell that it was produced in the 1980’s. Firstly looking at the clothing worn; Olivia Newton-John wears very bright tights and leg warmers as well as a high rise leotard to work out in, all things very typical of the time. Furthermore it relates to the yuppie culture of trying to stay in shape by working out a lot.

The music video however was very controversial, in some scenes there are sexual subtext but more controversial however at the end of the music video which features the men featured leaving together holding hands or with their arms around each other. The eighties were the pivotal decade in which gay culture began to emerge, particularly due to the appearance of HIV/AIDS. However in the US, the Court of Appeal ruled that there was no ‘fundamental right’ to be gay as so this video caused major controversy for many people not only in America but globally.

chainsmokers - #selfie

Produced in 2014, the Chainsmokers, had noticed how the word selfie had become a trend and they wanted to take advantage of it. They made a demo of a song containing monologue from a female clubber about taking good selfies. Inspiration came from the regular club going women that the Chainsmokers saw on their nights out in New York City. So when they were composing the track, they wanted to incorporate the "let me take a selfie" line in it somehow.

This song seems to be iconic of today’s culture with the rise of technology and the obsession that the younger generation have with social media, image and acceptance among there peers.

1980s Music Video - RUN DMC & Aerosmith and Justin Bieber & Niki Minaj

The coalition between rock 'n' roll super-band Aerosmith, and Rap group RUN DMC in 1986, in which 'Walk this Way' became an international top selling album,  track that infused rock culture of the mid-late 70s and rapidly expanding Hip-Hop trends. The music video is a brilliant representation of how two very diverse streams of music i.e. heavy rock, which incorporates variety of instuments such as guitar, drums and amps and that of  Hip-Hop, the production and performance of which synonymous with disc scratching, remixed electronic beats and rap. Additionally, it was performed by two groups that maintained extremely separate forms of musical & stage identity, Aerosmith, formed of aging white 'rockers', who maintained the stereotypical 'sex, drugs & Rock n Roll' lifestyle, and this was emphasized in the presentation of their fashion, e.g. big hair and loose open clothing, that many people in the 80's still maintained from the late 70's. RUN DMC, on the other hand, presented a new a vibrate musical and social identity of Black Youth Culture, in which they identify with the social groups attributed to gang culture and present this through the uniformity  of their groups outfits, (that symbolize the desire to obtain greater material goods e.g. gold chains, top brand trainers, sunglasses) and the aggressive manner of their performance.

The video is representative of the 1980s through the way that the groups and the audience are presented in their fashion choices and mannerism such as dancing, also it provided an alternative to popluar culture music of the time. Also the blend or 'mash up' between such varied music genres highlight not only the growing trend of being 'new and alternative' in the 80's but also the increased decline of the gap between the music and social cultures of different generations and racial groups. 

Justin Bieber's video for 'Beauty and a Beat', written, directed and shot by Just Bieber, would provide an insight into the contempary, thirty years from now as it presents many  of the stereotypical attributes of today's pop music culture. The music itself is not very significant in the representation of today, it maintains a very common mode, (auto tuned and with highly repeated verses). Artists such as Justin Bieber and Niki Minaj, who both hold large audiences and fan bases, can be used to show how current admiration for large solo artist represents the blend of numerous genres and artist types apparent in the 2010's e.g. boys bands/young white males, independent black female artist, grand R&B culture. 

Justin Biebers video is set at a large party at a waterpark which is characterized with shots of attractive young men and women, all with the strong ability to dance synchronized, this portrays idea of grandeur and extreme wealth and is meant to emphasize the lifestyle of individuals living in that environment i.e. youth in wealthy sub-urban america. The use of backing artists such as Niki Minaj, allow for small number of artist to maintain high numbers of song collaborations that bled the styles such as smooth singing and up beat rap together.

The video does highlight the current ideals of fashion of fitness that are highly desired by many of the current youth culture, and they are symbolized through artist such as Bieber and Minaj, presenting idealistic concepts that improve ones identity i.e. desire for good physical appearance, need for large scale social presence, but additionally they symbolize a degree of social vanity and requirement to alter ones self in pursuit of physical perfection, e.g. breast and dental implants, cosmetic surgery leading to a reduction in the personal authenticity (of the artist). However, the international popularity of these brand of musicians, the range of audiences they attract and the social trends and patterns they instill into today's culture are of such significance that that inevitably present to the greatest extent a perception of the contemporary  

Take on Me - A-Ha

Boy George may be the only true savior of music in the 80's following on from a huge inspiration from David Bowie, George led the band the culture club pushing the boundaries of not only their music but fashion and vague sexuality. This paired with the traditional low budget British filming, clearly seen as what is meant to be Louisiana seems to be filmed in middle England creates massive nostalgia for a time gone by. It could even be said this attempt at a fake america could be seen as a tie in to Britain ever growing urge to be more american, which this ideology succumbs to huge expansion during the 1980's. Though the themes of the song hardly differ to the more contemporary music, love and heart brake are forever the favorite emotions for musicians to write about.

Sia - Chandelier

Sia herself has taken a different approach to performing other than most artists she chooses not to show her face, with Boy George representing the start of a modern trend of music videos and mass fame with a recognizable face Sia is in a time where she believes the media have gone to far with idolizing musicians and their faces. This is shown in the music video where we do not see the artist but instead are shown with a child dressed as Sia running around an empty flat.

1980s v contemporary music videos

To begin, there is one music video that, to me, is so damn 80s that I believe it should have been the only song released then.  This of course is Rick Astley's 'Never Gonna Give You Up'. Okay,  so why this song and video? There are major icons that signify the eighties throughout the video, the most prominent being the dancing, outfits and hair. Furthermore the style of music is much in keeping with the popular music at the time meaning it is easily identifiable within the eighties culture. The song was released in 1987, so you could argue that a feel of the 90s is beginning to creep into the video (I would argue the clothes could also be said to be early 90s). Nonetheless the music video itself still perpetuates the contemporary eighties.

Now for the contemporary. This video is what our culture is all about, looking good, poor relationships and an apparent difficulty to find love. Well, that what the media tells us our culture is anyway. Nevertheless this videone works well because it actually makes fun of our culture, the poor broken hearted girl who has nothing better to do but cry at home and order a motivational dvd off the TV. . Much like the workout dvd's we see everywhere right now. Funnily enough though as with all of the forms of media (well most) released right now, it features anew almost perfect and idealised woman which of course helps to sell the music video to both men and women and is one of the major signifies of our culture. Comparing the Rick Astley's video, both the costumes and hair and dancing can all be signifies of the generation in which they were released and I can imagine that 30 years from now it will be just as easy to place the decade of this music video as it is to place the decade of Never Gonna Give You Up.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

James Brown, Beyonce

James Brown, Living in America, 1985
This 1985 track by James Brown is an obvious choice to represent eighties American culture through music videos. The song certainly appears to be a celebration of all that America was at that time, as indicated by the very first image we see in the music video – a full three seconds of huge fireworks designed to show us that living in America appears to be one big celebration.
At the start of the song Brown references the notion that America is a place where anything is possible, the place where dreams can come true, ‘there’s no destination too far’, he sings metaphorically about the superhighways, and the place where self-discovery is possible, almost without even trying, ‘somewhere on the way you might find out who you are.’  Whilst hearing these lyrics we see a selection of images that are clearly chosen to represent America’s greatness; the first image is the New York skyline with the WTC buildings standing tall in the centre of the screen.  Next we see an extensive farmland with two shiny grain silos, cleverly offering an agrarian reflection of the NYC skyline and its two tall shiny towers. The video then shows a series of images which are cut into each other at super-speed, giving a real sense of life whizzing by. These images include day and night stills of American cities, and the depiction of the busy-ness of everyday life.  To really emphasise the intensity and speed, Brown uses sped-up films of people going about their everyday lives, for example, using the subway, eating in diners and driving on super-highways.  In amongst these shots are intermittent cuts to Brown’s band and dancers, and because the song featured in the movie, Rocky IV, the video also includes cuts to scenes from the movie. 
As this video progresses, the sped-up scenes begin to include increasingly repetitive aspects of daily life such as people clocking into and out of a factory, a massive IT suite with very many white collar workers, several production lines and workers in the stock market, again all broken up by images of very shiny American cities.
The movie, Rocky IV is a deeply patriotic tale of boxer Rocky Balboa’s heroic finding of himself through his love of America and disdain for USSR and Brown’s lyrics and video certainly walk us through a whistle-stop tour of all that is great about the super shiny ‘Promised Land’. However, underneath the glitzy veneer is a country where, to use Brown’s own lyrics, ‘you might have to walk a fine line’ because ‘everybody’s working overtime’.  The suggestion here is that America may not be the Promised Land that it appears on the surface.  Brown even alludes to the eighties trend of using drugs to manage the long working hours and heavy demands of eighties culture, referring to ‘the hard roll’ and ‘the hard line’.  The super-fast speed of the video is perhaps also designed to invoke a sense of the effect of drug use.
It is interesting that the vast majority of Brown’s performers are black. Somehow this only serves to make the erroneous nature of this representation of America even more apparent, and it would seem that this has been deliberate on Brown’s part as throughout the whole video, only one of the scenes depicting daily life features a single black person. Given the history of blacks in America and the systemic racism that exists even now, and which was entirely more overt in the 1980s, it could be presumed that Brown was making a statement about the colour line through this depiction of ‘white’ America which is ultimately linked to progression and the growth of industry and the city, versus ‘black’ America, which has music in its soul and is therefore somehow more real and truthful, indeed, more soulful.
The live performance by James Brown which forms the last part of the video in particular, is a spectacularly glitzy and patriotic show of American greatness that is clearly designed (as indicated by the presence of a boxing ring complete with Russian boxer) to speak to the Rocky movie.  Every inch of the massive stage is covered either by red, white and blue, or by gold, and the Star Spangled Banner is draped across a backdrop of gold lights that form the presidential seal.  Vast numbers of dancers in flag-based costumes adorn the stage and the overall effect is really one big party.
In spite of the seemingly celebratory nature of this song, Brown is really making some wounding comments about America, which are beautifully reflected by the use of the 1980s image of New York. Somehow, the fact that the twin towers have been used in this video to illustrate America’s greatness truly highlights the degree to which this is a distorted representation of what America was during the 1980s.  Watching the video post 9/11 the audience is acutely aware that the beautiful NYC skyline can be brought crumbling to its knees in less than an hour, showing just how vulnerable America really is, and that with little penetration beyond the initial veneer, the notions and ideas we might have about America’s greatness will literally collapse.

Beyonce, Formation, 2016
Systemic racism in western culture is so deeply embedded in the foundations of our existence that I believe it is highly unlikely that it will have been even fully addressed let alone eradicated by 2046.  When a student of 2046 is asked to identify a video which represents American life thirty years ago, it is likely that Beyonce’s Formation video will be used as a depiction of how, in 2016, celebrity was working hard to take a stand against institutionalised racism and police brutality.
Indeed, despite the very contemporary style of her video, Beyonce is drawing on many historical influences including the female Black Panthers, a group which exitsted throughout the 1970s and early 1980s to take a stand against police brutality and promote black liberation, and the female sex workers of Storyville, a district of New Orleans that legalised prostitution during the early 1900s and where women of all races were employed.  Both of these influences are clearly apparent through Beyonce’s choice of costumes for herself and her dancers.
The video begins with Beyonce standing on the roof of a police vehicle which is slowly being submerged under water during severe floods, while the lyrics tell us that this action is happening in New Orleans.  And while Beyonce celebrates her black heritage with lyrics which might be described as both assertive and proud, she also calls upon her fellow black women to ‘get in formation’ and presumably to follow her as she ‘slays’ white supremacy.  Meanwhile, as she dances on the police car roof, the vehicle sinks under the water, and one would hope, taking institutionalised racism and police brutality with it. 
I would expect that the student of the future will also want to consider the implications of Beyonce releasing this video on Superbowl weekend 2016, and her performance of the song during half time, and to debate whether in performing her song at such an event, a song that so clearly addresses other women, was an implied statement to women to take a stand against sexism also.  There are other significant discussions to be had around Beyonce’s choice of release for this song.  Known for her support of a social justice group called Black Lives Matter, Beyonce performance also coincided with what would have been the 21st birthday of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager who was fatally shot by George Zimmerman in 2012.  The killer was acquitted in 2013. 
I hope that thirty years from now this video represents the idea that ‘the past as foreign country, they do things differently there.’
Finally, to enjoy a serious point being made in a comedic way, the future student might like to watch this...

(Week 7) Music Videos, Then and Now

Released In 1988 i think "opposites attract" by Paula Abdul is iconic of 1980s America in both the video and the lyrics of the song. Not only did the video win video of the year but to me it screams 80s pop culture. The 80s brought a huge wave of technology with the gaming industry booming because of Nintendo in the late 80s. The inclusion of the cat figure dancing and interacting with Paula really emphasizes the technological boost the decade saw. This along with the coming together of different class's, hers obviously higher than his, coming together as one really highlights the breakdown and the issue of the class barrier. The dress sense wreaks of 80s pop culture with the use of these bright colors and crazy designs. The mix between rap and more pop-like singing also presents two rising styles in the 1980s.

I have chose to take a slightly different approach at my video that represents pop culture in the time we live in. What better video to chose than a fully digital video, with no people or real human interaction. we live in the digital age where technology is advancing quicker than we can. It highlights how dependent we have become in in such a small amount of time to elements such as siri on the i phones and general internet for day to day life and interaction. The paper clip that asks if we need and help with typing is not old at all but seems more outdated than classical record players because of the technological driven lifestyles we all live today. i doubt there is anyone in the room that doesn't have at least one social media account, such as Facebook, twitter or Instagram. The paperclip just wants to feel loved again. Hes simple but thats what makes him unique.
Denise is not able to take the class today (at noon). I (Alasdair) can take the class instead, it's one I devised.
The class is  Reading Culture through Popular Music with a blog task to "post a Youtube video of music from the 1980s which you consider represents the period AND a video from today which you consider will represent the contemporary thirty years from now."
However, when I visit the blog (it is now 1.20 am) only three people - Harry, Grace and Josh have submitted posts...
Are the rest of you planning to bother? Why haven't you done them already? How can we (me and you) possibly prepare if you don't bother? I can see some are in draft - why aren't they published?

Back To The Future 1985

Following on from the 70's success of star wars the 1980's shows the emergence of science-fiction becoming main stream, with the monumental hits that were the complete star wars trilogy, Alien and of course Back To The Future. Back To The Future is a 1985 American science-fiction adventure comedy film directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale, produced by Gale and Neil Canton, and starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. In the film, teenager Marty McFly (Fox) is sent back in time to 1955, where he meets his future parents in high school and accidentally becomes his mother's romantic interest. Marty must repair the damage to history by causing his parents-to-be to fall in love, and with the help of friend, eccentric scientist Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown (Lloyd), he must find a way to return to 1985.

My reasoning for choosing this as a cinematic representation of the 1980's would mostly be for its birth of sub culture to main stream, as not only did this sci-fi classic give nerds a home with general conversation but also brought hobbies and fringe groups to the foreground. The scenes of Marty McFly skateboarding in the film occurred during the infancy of the skateboarding sub-culture and numerous skateboarders, as well as companies in the industry, pay tribute to the film for its influence in this regard. Not only did it help with the up and coming past time but also inspired its fans for more with the introduction of the hover board in the critically acclaimed sequel.

Back To The Future is an iconic 80's hit not only for its original plot line but its fashion and music choices as it provides a clear image and summary of what life is like living in the 1980's. Its this generalization of all things 80's that lets the viewer either experience a good look at a time they were never in or a nostalgia tour of how things used to be thus keeping in the film as a all time success according almost all critics and pundits. 

Hall & Oates, Cruising California!

Hall & Oates - Out Of Touch
With huge hair, flamboyant clothes and lots of black and white shots, I feel that this music video screams out the 80's. With the lead singer having a half mullet half perm, two hair styles that were iconic of the 80s paired with his leopard jacket over a plain t-shirt I feel the look of 'smart-casual' represents the style of fashion that was popular during the 80's in pop-culture. 
The fast paced music video transitions from shots of the band playing oversized drums, to Hall and Oates dancing on a bright white background. The use of the strobe light is the opposite of subtle and is used almost too much, especially when the video randomly turns into black and white. 

The Offspring - Cruising California
The song i've chosen as a contemporary music video is a little bit of a cheat. Cruising California is a song poking fun of popular music of the past decade and the music video does the same. Full of shots of the sun and beaches of California coupled with overly sexualised women and people parting, I feel that this music video captures the essence of pop-culture since the mid 00's. Getting drunk, Having fun with your friends and partying hard is all that seems to be included in popular music. 

Music Videos, N.W.A and Kendrick Lamar - Clean Version of Straight outta Compton - Dirty Version Straight Outta Compton

 In 1989, NWA released the music video for the song "Straight Outta Compton." This video and album, was controversial, as it 'provoked' the LAPD in particular, and led to riots (more related to Fuck the Police).
 The video to this song features Ice Cube and Ren getting chased by the Police and arrested and put in a holding van. Meanwhile, Eazy-E's verse features him in a convertible shouting at the driver of the Van while being ignored. The Van is then pelted by Rocks thrown by residents. This is an important part of the video, the perception of Racial Tension, and the rather overt suggestion that the Police are overly aggressive and hostile with members of the Black community, especially those that seem willing to stand up for themselves. By implying institutional racism amongst the Police department, the real Police felt offended and even called out for their actions. The 80s were a time of tension between White and Black people, but many White people were on NWA's side, deeming police behaviour to harsh, severe and were confounded when their actions went unpunished.
 A couple of years later, the Rodney King incident would ignite the spark once again, especially after the verdict, and this led to the LA riots. NWA would become the centre of attention once again with music videos such as Straight Outta Compton and Fuck the Police.
 This goes to show the cultural impact of these songs and the videos themselves. Part of their success was their honest attitude to what was going on, and willingness to confront the Police.

Kendrick Lamar - Alright - Alright - Song Used in Protest - Article about Alright. - Chant at Million Man March.

Alright is a song from the album "To Pimp a Butterfly" by Kendrick Lamar. It has been adopted as a protest song, specifically the chorus, and performed at the Grammy's. Much like Straight Outta Compton, it speaks to people that have witnessed or experienced Police Brutality. It's not a question that it is a powerful song, and a powerful video, with the chorus of "We gon' be alright" being adopted by protesters protesting the same thing that NWA was protesting 26 years ago. This shows the lack of progress that has been made, that songs like this are still needed and still used in this fashion.

 Each of these songs calls out the Police and sends an inspiring message.

This screenshot of the music video for the song shows 3 kids dancing on top of a Police Car, with Kendrick doing rings around the outside throwing money out of the Window. This relates to the Police clearly and appears to reduce to authority that the vehicle is supposed to have.

This one shows Kendrick and his "homies" in a Car, with Kendrick rapping, although being carried by the Police, this shows that the Police are in control and Kendrick and everyone else seems to have no control along the way.

I feel like this will be a good representation of the contemporary in 30 years, not only because of the success of the song and album, but because of the message that it sends, and the shockwaves that it sent through certain "news" groups, such as FOX. The reception that it received was very positive for the most part and it's widespread support shows the power that it has. It shows that while things may appear to be, or are, bad right now, things are going to be alright. What's more is that it was chanted at the Million Man March. The protest song that it has now become is something eerily similar to what NWA achieved, and it will continue to be used because it represents the way things are for Black people in certain areas, such as Compton.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Indiana Jones Franchise

Indiana Jones Franchise

The Indiana Jones Franchise was very successful in the 1980's when the first three original films were released, this film series however is still just as popular today with many video games and merchandise still around. The films follow a professor who also doubles as being an archaeologist on his adventures to find hidden places and treasures. There are four films in this series, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Temple of Doom (1984), The Last Crusade (1989) and then the later film Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). 

Looking back on these films, it is clear to see some of the issues they might incorporate that were evident of the time period.

Women in these films were always shown as the damsels in distress and it would be Indiana's job to rescue them from the dangers that they most probably got themselves in. There are a few exceptions to this role with some women being shown as strong and brave but they are always the villains and are defeated by Indiana in the end. 

The Indiana Jones films show race to be very stereotypical, with people from the middle east and India as well as other areas being presented as completely different from Americans and having little in common. This shows the common view of the 1980's that America is unique and not completely accepting of other races. As well as this, there is also little representation of black people as the majority of the cast is white. 

Overall, the Indiana Jones franchise highlights some of the issues in America that were represented through the film industry during the 1980's, showing common views on race and gender that are completely different from the views most people hold today. 


Friday, 19 February 2016


Written by Melissa Mathison, directed by Steven Spielberg, and produced by Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment in 1982, E.T is on the surface a movie about an alien who is accidentally left on Earth and found by a young boy, Elliott, who initially wants to keep and care for him, and eventually wants to return him to his alien family.  However, E.T.’s arrival on Earth has also been noted by the American Government who are searching for E.T.  As the alien’s health deteriorates, and the government agents close in on Elliott and E.T., the latter find themselves in a race against time to return E.T. to the place where he can be collected. 

This simple story remains popular even today, regarded as the tale of a loving bond formed between two socially outcast characters, Elliott (the middle child, lost in the family unit) and E.T. (the child-like alien, lost from his own race).  By the end of the movie both characters have found their place among their own people – E.T.’s family returns to Earth to collect him and Elliott’s sibling bonds are strengthened through their united efforts to help him in his mission to save E.T.

This blockbuster science-fiction movie can be read as both a representation of eighties American culture, and also as a comment upon its ideology when examined in a critical context.  For example, a key focus of Reagan’s political ideology was the promotion of ‘the family’, interpreted by the political right as the nuclear family.  Certainly this movie furthers such a promotion by focussing a large part of the story on the importance of family (it makes much of the relationships between members of Elliott’s family and of course, the key plotline is the return of E.T to his family).  Despite some abrasive dynamics such as sibling rivalry and isolation (depicted in the movie as a ‘normal’ experience of the family unit) Elliott’s brother, sister and mother are able to come together in times of difficulty to support each other (also depicted as a ‘normal’ family experience).  However, Mathison’s ‘family unit’ is not the one promoted by Reagan’s administration, instead Elliott’s mother is a working, single parent, who, whilst she is effectively ‘managing’ the house-hold is ultimately able to put aside her own misgivings that the Elliott/E.T. relationship brings about, and to take the lead from her children.  This very much turns Reagan’s notion of the family upside down, here the single parent is celebrated for being able to allow her children to take their own course of action and ‘do the right thing’.

To some degree, the governments of 1980s America faced a loss of confidence by the American people as a result of political issues and scandals during the 1970s, for example, the resignation of Nixon in ’74 following the Watergate scandal and of course the long, expensive and destructive Vietnam War, which had generated a huge amount of political animosity.  In this context, E.T. can also be read as a ‘people versus power’ movie, for the enemy is the government, whom Elliott believes will kill E.T. if they manage to capture him.  That is, the government will ultimately destroy the family unit.  However, in spite of their dysfunction, Elliott’s family come together to fight the government and ultimately, this non-nuclear family succeeds in reuniting E.T. with his non-typical family.

Amblin Entertainment was founded by E.T.’s director Steven Spielberg in 1981, and E.T. was the company’s second production, as well as being the highest earning movie at the box office in history, an accolade which it maintained for over a decade. The enduring popularity of the film is evidenced by the continuing sale of E.T. merchandise including cuddly toys, talking toys, action figures, keyrings, t-shirts and bedding to name but a few.  In addition, the continued adoration can be seen in the opening in of the theme park ride, E.T. Adventure at Universal Studios, Florida in 1990, followed in 1991 by the opening of an additional ride of the same name in Universal Studios, Hollywood, and another in 2001 at Universal Studios, Japan.  Although the latter two rides were subsequently replaced by rides relating to more recently released pictures, the original E.T. Adventure remains open today, thirty-four years after the film was originally released.

Thursday, 18 February 2016


Music in the 1980s: - Top 10 Michael Jackson 80s

This YouTube video is 10 songs from Michael Jackson, that are considered his best of the 1980s. Michael Jackson was an icon of the 1980s and his songs represent the era in many ways. Firstly, the style and clothing choices within the music video demonstrate how they represent the 1980s, and the fact that his most popular songs even today, are from the 1980s. He also is best known for changing American popular culture too.

Michal Jackson himself represents the 1980s because he had many hit singles during this time, that made it to number 1. He also symbolises a breakthrough in music, where he 'reinvents' pop music. His songs highlight the cultural tensions within the society during the 1980s decade.

Interestingly, Michael Jackson became popular and successful through the 80s, which was a time of an economic recession and social change. This reinforces the notion as to why this music video represents the 1980s, because it incorporates political, social, racial and cultural issues within the United States in the 1980s.

Michael Jackson and his music represents a shift in popular culture, as they demonstrate attitudes of the 1980s. His songs stood as an effort to tell the American public, political and racial issues, and debates that were happening during this decade. This in turn, brought about change much quicker. This is shown through the music charts both in the 1980s and now, as they reached number 1, and were popular.

Furthermore, Michael Jackson was not just an American icon of the 1980s, but also an African-American icon too. This illustrates how the decade was changed dramatically due to the music from Michael Jackson, as his song 'Thriller' in particular conquered racial divides at the time. This is interesting as during the 1980s, black artists did not reach the charts. Yet Michael Jackson not only reached the charts, but he also reached number 1. This proves how both him and his music represent the 1980s, because he was the person who changed 1980s American culture for the better, and is still remembered today. -Rise (Change the game), Jeremy Dodge

This song is from the 21st Century and will represent the contemporary thirty years from now, because it highlights many debates that are happening today. These include, political, cultural and social. The fact that the song was written on the 21st of August demonstrates how the topic of the song is a current issue within the United States and creates tensions among many Americans.

The video is predominately about abortion and whether it should be able to happen or not. The video has images throughout of politicians giving speeches about the issue, and protesters both for and against abortion. A common theme of the music video is that ordinary, everyday people have to 'rise' in order to make a change in society. (News article)

This web link illustrates the tensions among the issue of abortion. It states 'Planned Parenthood: Three die in shooting at Colorado clinic', which indicates that there are mixed feelings about whether abortion should be allowed or not, suggesting that Jeremy Dodge's song would be a good representation of the future.

This image indicates whether people would prefer the laws to be made more strict, less strict or to remain the same. Interestingly, the United States has the highest percentage for abortion laws to become more strict (38%), compared to Canada and Great Britain. However, the highest percentage among the three columns for the United States, is for the abortion laws to remain the same. So this proves that although there is controversy among abortion laws etc. the majority of Americans believe that the laws should remain the same. Moreover, despite this being the case, the United States also has the smallest gap between the opinions of making the laws more strict, or keeping them the same (38%-41%). Whereas, both Canada and Great Britain do not, suggesting that there are more tensions with the topic of abortion, proving that it will be an ongoing debate. Therefore, Rise (change the game) will represent the contemporary thirty years from now. -Stand up (2nd Amendment style), Jeremy Dodge

This is another song by Jeremy Dodge, and it focuses on events within the United States that are considered controversial, and the government. It represents the notion that Americans have to stand up to injustices and the government on issues such as abortion. Jeremy Dodge says, 'We must stand up to injustice and unrighteousness and be the strong nation we were founded to be.' This reinforces American values, history and American ideology. It does this by incorporating Ronald Raegan's famous speeches into the music video, and the U.S constitution is a key feature of the song.

Grace La Traille


Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Baby Boom (1987)

I've decided to use the film Baby Boom, which was released in 1987, to give a a good representation of the 80s in America. 

The movie focuses on J.C Wiatt, played by Diane Keaton. The character of Wiatt is a typical 80s yuppie, a young career driven woman with a fast paced lifestyle. 
Yuppies exploded in the 80s and the representation of her an yuppie is very stereotypical and relevant to how yuppies were perceived at the time.
Aside from the 'yuppie' label being represented in the film, it also shows us an example of a woman with a large focus on her career, which wasn't something that was always favoured at the time. The 1980s was when woman started stepping up in the profession industries. Millions of woman moved up and into professional and managerial positions. And whilst this was great for woman and feminists across the country, it was always going to draw in negative stigma. The idea of a woman who put that much focus into such a high profession, could only mean that she had no time in her life for a family or any romantic relationships, which is obviously untrue to a fair amount.

As stated before, in the film, (trailer linked below) Diane Keaton's character is a a typical "yuppie" with no time to find romance or to spend on anything other than work related issues. Once her character has a baby to take care of, her time is then consumed, and she struggles to balance a family-type life with her heavy work load, which leads to her have a nervous breakdown and financial struggles.
This whole concept only dwells on the idea that a woman in a position of power can't handle it along with a social life, family life, or a relationship, though if a man was in the same position with a family at home there would be no issue made whatsoever. This clearly implies the gender inequality issues which were occurring during the 80s when more and more women started working in more professional jobs, rather than being the typical doting wife which society had everyone believing was the "right" way to live.

The ending of the film is for and agains these gender stereotypes. Her character find a new career in the baby food industry, without having the sacrifice her personal life, and her new family, yet she feels she can only have all 3 of these aspects of her life if she doesn't have this career within a big corporate company, but only if she can expand her enterprise herself.

Though the film was a success, the message that gets put across to women in the work place is that if they want the lifestyle, family, and career, that she can't do so with a career in a big corporate, highly established company. 

Friday, 12 February 2016

Thursday, 11 February 2016

(Week 5) ALF (1986-1990)



ALF standing for (Alien Life Form) crash lands his spaceship into a suburban garage, and it is damages beyond repair. ALF himself is smart mouthed and has a bad attitude. The family take him in and the show really seems to revolve around his interpretation of mankind, while throwing in the occasional oddity of him attempting to eat a cat.

What does he say of 1980s America

ALF himself says a lot about the 1980s. The whole fascination surrounding Aliens and conspiracies of aliens on earth was no less prominent in the 1980s to how it is now. ALF is a tv representation of peoples doubts and ideas surrounding alien life form on earth. In a way this is no different from the movie 'Paul' where a judgemental, bad mouthed little alien avoids unwanted attention and sits back a judges the human race while on earth.

ALF (Animal Liberation Front)

When searching through the internet for information on ALF the tv shows, i constantly came across this group of activists from the 1980s. The group was organised and has roots back to 1963 but it was the 80s where the group were in full swing and began to spread throughout Europe.  

  • ALF released footage which showed primate researchers laughing and joking at a baboon, as they inflicted brain damage as part of research project into head injuries caused by accidents. 
Although this has nothing specifically to do with the tv show, the name ALF may have been given to the character to highlight the groups success and growth in the 1980s. It just seems too much of a coincidence not to have some sort of relation.

ALF is also a figure of how the desirable life style of the 1980s, may not be as desirable as people would like to think. We already know that the Yuppie lifestyle was sort after in the 1980s and the dream of suburbia, but ALF is an example of how it is not as dreamy and flawless as people may think. He is constantly causing trouble for the family and is almost just an uncontrollable baby. The show still represents the suburban life style that was so popular to people in the 1980s, but it does it in a way that suggests it may nto be all it cracked up to be.

ALF sets up the ideal 1980s family, a dad that goes to the office, a stay at home wife and a son. ALf was popular amongst people because it spoke out to peoples desires of how they should live, but with a comic edge. However all of the points I have made above may not be a serious and as accurate a representation of the 1980s as the show is a comedy and should not be taken as having too serious meanings.

No matter what ALF suggests, be that alien intervention on earth, a secret link with a radical animal rights group that spread to Europe in the 80s or another representation of the suburban life style in the 80s, it must have been popular to the audience of the 80s as even though it only ran for four years 1986-1990, a movie was made in 1996 of the same little alien.