Sunday, February 27, 2011

A visit to Paradise...

I was visiting my grandparents over winter break in Paradise, California. They are in their 80s and they are traditional folks living in a small town. They don't own a computer. There is no wireless signal to 'borrow' anywhere on their street. They watch a little bit of TV from the antenna on their roof, but don't have cable. They get news from the local paper. I had a lovely visit with them, but I spent a few days jonesing for my digital life. I did have cell service, so I could pull up the NY Times, post pictures to facebook, pull up my email, check my flight information, text to verify my ride home from the airport... and I enjoyed explaining to them how all that information lives in the air we breathe, not merely in my little iphone.

What does it mean to have a digital life?

Mike Wesch's article reminds me that we all have to be aware of this question whether we embrace or resist the digital technologies around us... simply because they are around us all the time. As he says, "There is something in the air...."

This is a pretty stunning thought if you were born in 1927.

Looking forward to talking about YOUR digital lives and working together to construct the digital ethnography projects that you will be showing in class on March 9. If you want to start thinking this through, check out Mike Wesch's website for basic ideas of what i am going to ask you to do.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Intention vs. Implication

Last week we looked at Disney's Mulan and started to use the tools of media literacy to analyze the song "I'll Make a Man out of You." You raised great points in that discussion about gender, power, language, etc.

One of the issues that really stuck with me was the point Diana was making about "intention." In response to the room of critique, she asked something like, "Is it possible (I am paraphrasing here) that the creators of this text really wanted to give the message that girls can do anything? Could it be that they wanted to make a film to empower girls?"

Many have suggested that Mulan has the most empowering messages for girls produced by Disney. And paired against the princess stories of the past few decades, there is no doubt that this story is different as the images I include here attest. These look like feminist intentions at some level.

But here is the question.... what is the difference between INTENTION and IMPLICATION?

While the intentions may have been pure, what is the "secret education" (to borrow from Christensen) that this text offers? What does it mean that the
Diana's point is particularly important. There may have been a big meeting where the Disney team decided to make a story for girls that didn't require heels you can't run in, a dress you can't get dirty in, coifed hair and a sparkly tiara. But what does it mean that only way to be strong and powerful is to literally hide your girlhood and become a boy? What are the hidden implications of the story? Is the message of strength and power undone by the romance in the end? (The final outcome always reveals the most powerful and lasting messages of the film, so what does Mulan leave us with in the end?)

Just some food for thought... comments, critique, counterpoints, accolades, or rotten tomatoes welcome.