Wednesday, May 9, 2012

495.. my final post!

As this semester comes to a close, I am happy to say that I have actually enjoyed myself in this class. I enjoyed the teaching style, definitely laidback and very relaxing, which is nice after the last 4 years of stress. After this semester, I plan on taking a while off from school. Although, I have to finish up a class over summer, I plan on taking a year off (only because I missed the deadline), then applying to the graduate program at CSUN. It will be nice to have some time off for a change. I hope that when I come back I will be refreshed and ready to attack the program. I was thinking about taking some courses, maybe 1 or 2 in the fall and spring to just keep up with my studious ways. Anyways, I thought I would go through ever section that we had in class, and make a few final comments about everything.

First up is the dreaded “Poetry” section. All I can say is that I really don’t like poetry, and I don’t like writing it even more. And, if you can believe it, even more then I hate writing poetry, I hate presenting poetry that I have written. But I was able to do all of that thanks to Dr. Wexler. And although my poetry might have been lacking a little bit, I wrote from my heart and I had fun with that. I guess that is one thing that I can appreciate the most about this semester; I was really taken out of my comfort zone. I tend to be a really quiet person with not much to say, but this time around it was a little different. I can dig it.

The next section we did was “World Mythology”, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was very interesting to get the different stories from the different groups. My favorite was the video that was made for “The Castle in the Lake”. That was an amazingly original video, and it kept our attention while we learned about the myth. But what I really liked from this section was my group. We all got along very well and decided to break into smaller groups and do our work. It was really easy and actually a lot of fun to do those assignments.

Onto the next one, “Digital Literacies”. To be honest, I don’t even really remember this section. All I know is that our presentation was off because of the time rush, but it was still fun. The group we had for this one started off rough, but in the end it was a really good group and I was happy to have met the people that I did. During this time, there was so much going on with my other classes that I feel as though this whole section was a blur.

And my favorite and last section, “World Text”. The movie was good, the classes were good, and this was just a really good section. Although my paper on it (which you can locate a few blog posts down) seems a little fragmented, I enjoyed writing it. I could go on and on about this section because there is so much to talk about. However, like all good things, this section and this semester are now over. This has honestly been one of the best and quickest semesters that I’ve had in a while. I’m a little sad it is over, but life goes on. I wish everyone a very successful and long life. I hope that life takes you all exactly where you want it. :D

...yeah, RIGHT!


Lets face it, almost all of us have a facebook.. and if we don't, chances are we have had one in the past.  Facebook is something that connects people from all over the world, it is insane how many people are actually active on facebook.  Personally speaking, I found my biological father on facebook, and with him I was able to locate his parents as well as 2 sisters and a brother I never knew I had.  Facebook can be seen as something that is very useful.  It is easy to chat with people on there that normally you wouldn't, but to me that would just be like a fake friend.  I don't talk to people on facebook that I wouldn't in real life if I saw them. 

Who would have thought that we could connect so many different theories to facebook.  I have to say that by the end of the presentation,  my head was spinning (although, that could just be from 3 hours of talking about facebook).  One of the most shocking things to me was the fact that so many people use facebook games, and not only do they use them, but the extremes that they go to for them is ridiculous.  The man who actually spent money on what he called "duck poop" totally shocked me.  I did not know that so many people were buying into these games.  And facebook is doing well with them since they get a large chunk of the profits. 

The one and only negative thing I have to say about this issue on facebook was that I was a little put off by the assumptions about gender that was brought up.  There was a difference of opinion with the class, but it was made to seem that most every girl has nothing but oversexed pictures featuring the "duck lips" above.  As I scroll through my friends list, I notice while yes there are some women who pose this way and "sex up" a little, most of my facebook "friends" are very respectable women who show that in their pictures.  In fact, most of the women on my friends list have pictures with their cap and gowns because of graduation.  I could just be a "sensitive Sally", but I  thought that was just a very broad assumption that could have been a very interesting argument if it was brought up in a better way.


Michelle Thomas
April 30th, 2012
English 495
Globalization in Slumdog Millionaire
Being part of Western culture often blinds us from the reality of other cultures around the world.  Some of our most popular ideals from Western culture greatly influence other cultures globally.  The 2008 Academy Award Winning Best Picture Slumdog Millionaire, directed by Danny Boyle, follows a young man named Jamal and the controversial experiences he faces while living in the slums of India.  Jamal is accused of cheating while on a game show, and he is forced to recount different tragic memories he has experienced throughout his life despite being deprived of education, parents, and wealth.  The film demonstrates how Jamal progresses as a person through the experiences he faces, and defines the different factors that contributes to his personal development.  In the film, the Western influence is very defined, and this is shown through Jamal’s character.  Throughout the film it is evident that capital fuels India as it rapidly evolves into an industrialized country, which is an asset to everyone, not excluding Jamal.  Through the article “Where did the Future Go” by Randy Martin, the book A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey, and the film Slumdog Millionaire, globalization and its effects are illustrated along side the devastating effects Neoliberalism has in India.
            In Harvey’s book, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, he states, “while many general accounts of global transformations and their effects are now available, what is generally missing––is the political-economic story of where neoliberalization came from and how it proliferated so comprehensively on the world stage” (4).  The world as a whole is changing, molding and taking influence from many different places.  This ever-changing theme be seen in the film through the globalization India faces, namely due to the Western cultures’ influence.  Globalization affects many different cultures and thus many different individuals everyday.  Through the ongoing globalization in different countries, many different opportunities have presented themselves in these countries that otherwise would not have presented themselves.  No matter how many positive aspects globalizing economies bring to people living there, there are also bad qualities that come along with it.  The rich only get wealthier, while the poor keep dwindling down, and essentially cuts out a middle class altogether.  The neoliberalist effect on the global market has only helped make more billionaires, and help existing billionaires grow wealthier, leaving everyone else struggling to survive.  This can be seen globally with the issue of the 99% and the 1%; only 1% of the world is not struggling to survive, while the other 99% often have nowhere to turn.  Throughout the film, there is a very distinct difference between how the wealthy live, and the conditions the poor individuals are seemingly stuck in; the wealthy being the 1% and the poor being the 99%.  The images throughout the film show the slums and how the people in the slums were forced to live; this did not affect the wealthier people of the country. 
            Within the recent years, India has become rapidly globalized.  Examples of this globalization can be seen in the film through different avenues, such as the various questions on the game show, the Coke offered to the boys soon after they lost their mother, and the idolizing of the celebrity when the boys were young.  These different examples really exemplify the ever-changing environment, and with this comes different scenes in the film that emulate the Western culture in Jamal’s native country of India.  One example can be seen when Jamal and his brother Salim impersonate tour guides at the Taj Mahal to help bring in money so that they can survive.  The boys end up stealing shoes from tourists and then selling them, promoting the fact that they are American shoes in hopes to bring in more money.  This proves that products that originate from the Western culture are both desirable and can be seen as a symbol of wealth and power if one owns them.  With this comes the reasoning behind why the boys are impersonating these people, in order to obtain capital and help better their chances of survival.  In the scene of the film where Jamal is being beaten in front of American tourists he screams, “You wanted to see the real India?  Here it is!”  The tourists respond to this by giving Jamal money and saying to him, “here’s a bit of the real America, son.”  The real India that Jamal refers to indicates that India is not only a poverty-ridden country, but also a violent one.  With the American tourists response of giving money it could be argued that the United States is a wealthy and capitalist nation, where most problems can be resolved with money.  This is where the line between the poor and the wealthy widens even more; the wealthy can afford to give away money while the poor are forced to go to extreme measures to obtain money.  This comes back to how neoliberalism affects the global market.  In his book, Harvey states:
Economic globalization has entered a new phase. A mounting backlash against its effects, especially in the industrial democracies, is threatening a disruptive impact on economic activity and social stability in many countries. The mood in these democracies is one of helplessness and anxiety, which helps explain the rise of a new brand of populist politicians. (81).
This scene in the film is describing what Harvey is stating when he talks about how the stability of these countries being affected by globalization is at risk.  This trickles down to affect most everyone, including the man beating Jamal.  Arguably, the man’s character can be seen as representing the whole country of India, lashing out against the constant Western influence, an influence that can be seen in Jamal’s character.
            As the film comes to a close and both Jamal and Salim look at the industrialized land that once was their home, it becomes obvious that the people with whom they used to share these living conditions with are no longer present in this area.  It is unclear as to what has become of these people; they have been forgotten and discarded because they failed to keep up with the ever-changing globalization of India.  Everyone who could not keep up has moved on, an idea for which Martin states, “For those workers of the world who could secure a seat on the bus, the trip to tomorrow would take them to a market utopia.”  This idea is one of the saddest realizations of the ever changing globalizing economy, not everyone who grew up in slums similar to Jamal and Salim had the chance to use this new “market utopia” to prosper.  These people were at a disadvantage when they were born to poor families, because children that lived in these areas were not given the proper education that would help them to succeed in these new businesses that are taking over the slums. Harvey notes how the trend of the neoliberalism taking place in India has been commonly perceived that “if conditions among the lower classes deteriorated, this was because they failed, usually for personal and cultural reasons, to enhance their own human capital (through dedication to education, the acquisition of a Protestant work ethic, submission to work discipline and flexibility, and the like).”   So with the ideals of neoliberalism in mind, the people who could not keep up had no one to blame but themselves.  However, with no resources available to help better the people in the slums, it is next to impossible for them to obtain any sort of education or flexibility when it comes to work.   It is unsaid in the film what has become of these displaced people, but their homes have been destroyed and transformed to help benefit the owners of these businesses, who do not need the help the original inhabitants did.  This area that used to be the only place the poor could afford to live has become a place that they could no longer bear the expense to live in.
            No matter which way a person looks, globalization is unavoidable and is very present and constant in our everyday lives.  The molding earth and neoliberalism can essentially be summarized by one of the films last scenes, when Salim and Jamal are reunited and Salim states,  “That used to be our slum. Can you believe that? We used to live right there. Now, it’s all business. India is at the center of the world now. And I am at the center of the center.”  This quote shows how globalized India has become, and how humans are front and center of this change.  The slums as the boys knew it has been transformed and made into these businesses, in just a matter of a few short years.  The Western influence is present throughout the film, even with the “happily ever after” ending.  Capital is the fuel behind the fire in India, and a person is expected to either keep up with the changes or become displaced and forgotten about.  With the help of Randy Martin’s article and David Harvey’s text, the perception of Slumdog Millionaire has changed from a harsh tale of reality to a critical view of the world as globalization and neoliberal practices take over.

Works Cited

Harvey, David.  A Brief History of Neoliberalism.  Oxford: Oxford University Press,        

                      2005.  Print. 

Martin, Randy.  “Where Did The Future Go?”  Logos 5.1 (2006): n. pag.  Web.  29 April

Slumdog Millionaire.  Dir. Danny Boyle.  Fox Searchlight Pictures and Warner Bros.        

                     Pictures, 2009.  DVD. 

A picture of how India's slums are in present time.
I could never imagine having to live like this.

Monday, April 30, 2012

495 catch up-- globalization (do you notice a pattern?)

This week we really started to look into globalization as well as different theorists such as Marx and Weber, and comparing it to different things. We watched more of Slumdog Millionaire, which was slightly disappointing. The way the movie ended left me with so many unanswered questions. It did not explain what happened to Salim, let alone the children that were being used and blinded to help rake in more money. The whole Happily Ever After thing is so overrated and used so much. It just goes to show how our Western ideals cannot escape anyone. To see just how globalized the world is brings a lot of my thoughts as to how much different cultures are affected by this. I especially like the scene where Jamal and Salim are looking down in the slums and thinking about how different their lives are now and how much the slums have changed in just a few short years. I guess on my next blog post I will talk about that more since it will be my actual paper.
I feel like this class and pop-culture are starting to merge together. We watched Lost in Translation in this class as well, well clips of it at least. This was just to help show how globalized and urbanized the whole world is becoming. One day soon I will actually watch this entire movie so I have more to say on it other than Bill Murray is a very funny man.

313 catch up-- globalization and such

This week for class we talked about urbanization and we continued our discussion from last week at what is modern and what is postmodern. It was interesting because we looked at the city of New York as well as the city of Los Angeles and had a discussion at which was is considered “post-modern” and which one is considered modern. Obviously with New York being more organized than LA, it is considered to be modern. Since there is the fact that Los Angeles is fragmented just means that it is considered to be a post-modern city. Seeing it from this perspective really helps to understand that there is a definite distinction between what is considered modern and what is considered post-modern.

We also watch Rebel without a Cause, which was probably the birthplace of “cool”. Perhaps this is a practice of the old world order, sacrificing life for nobility, vs. the new world disorder, risking your life as a pastime. This shows that the strict-ness of a family unit causes kids to rebel, and it also embodies the new viewpoints on divorce. How there is an increase in the divorce rate because now it is easier than ever for women to provide for themselves. We also viewed some of the movie Lost in Translation, which was very cool because I have been wanting to see that movie for a while now. I never have seen the whole thing, and I wish we had more time in class to actually watch a whole movie. But, nonetheless, it was pretty cool to watch at least part of it. It shows the globalization of Tokyo, and the fact that transnational corporations now overrun it. It has “American music” in a Westernized world, which also goes hand in hand with a paper I am writing about Slumdog Millionaire.

The last thing we got to discuss before we had to leave class for the night was Disney, and how much of a corrupt thing it has become. Disney just basically takes everyone’s money… and gives little in return. Personally, I love Disney.. and I love going to Disneyland.. I even have an annual pass. However, every time I go it gets more and more expensive and I spend way more money than the last time I went. If a theme park can spend 40,000$ a night on fireworks alone, it just goes to show how much capital they are raking in daily.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

495 catch up-- Presentations and Slumdog

We did a lot this week. Not only did we complete our group presentation on email and how we would teach it, but we also examined the movie Slumdog Millionaire. So here is my blog about those two things:
The presentation went well. We had a lot of time to do it, however I personally lacked the motivation. Senioritis is really kicking my butt lately. However, we got it done, but we had to cut a lot of things out per Dr. Wexler’s request to save time. I get that we needed to get it done and over with for the sake of time, however I think our grade might have been a little effected by it. Anyways, an A is an A, and I cannot argue percents, because at that point it just seems like I’m being a big baby.
Slumdog Millionaire was a great film, although we only got to see nearly half. I went out and bought the film that very day after I got done with school and work. I watched it and I could not believe how amazing the film was. I’m not sure why I never had watched it before, but I am glad that I got a chance to watch it now. I have been thinking a lot about the paper that we have coming up, and what exactly to write about. I have some ideas in mind, and I have already started it. I honestly just cannot wait for this semester to be over. I want to be finished already!

313 catch up-- Annie Hall

Forgive me if this is fragmented and not completely ‘there’ in a sense. I am playing blog catch up for the past few weeks, and I am using muscle memory at this point. For this week, we were to read Barker’s piece on Post-Modernism. The lecture for this week was all over the place with connections. I love that we make so many different connections in class, I know some people find this frustrating, but I think the more ways we can connect things then the more people will understand in the end. So we got a hand out on postmodernism vs. modernism, and we were asked to see what Annie Hall was – Postmodern, or modern? We looked at the master/slave relationship, and different avenues you can see it in. IE man/woman, race, ect. This was a normative thing throughout society, and this can still be seen in today’s world. We also looked at World War I as being a “modern war” due to the use of different technologies, and destruction and massive death. We examined Pg. 187, the “Cultural Politics of Modernism”, examining the subjective world of angst, form lacking context, as well as realism vs. modernism.
So anyways, back to Annie Hall. This film, in my opinion, is a postmodernist film. It is very fragmented in the way the movie travels through time, as well as the film is suggestive. This movie was representative of the “radical romantic comedy” of the postmodern era. The main character, Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) was constantly facing the camera, breaking the fourth wall essentially. He turned himself into a cartoon, screen splitting, etc. There are many different avenues Allen takes when making this film, and since it is so fragmented with so many different avenues, it makes it completely postmodern. My personal favorite was the subtitles between Alvy and Annie, cutting through their conversation to show what they were really feeling inside.
 This film shows divorce now, and how it works. This was not too common before hand, but now the film shows Alvy’s failed marriages, and examines why they did not work out in the first place. Although I only saw what was shown in class, the film seemed to leave the relationship between Alvy and Annie unresolved, so maybe there was only one divorce. Either way, it really examines failed marriages and why they do not work out in the first place. Pretty cool film, I think I might check it out in my free time, because I actually enjoyed it in class.