If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative.

-Woody Allen

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Locating Identity

New York, California, Wisconsin. After reading these words many people will instinctively associate these states with distinct regional stereotypes. That is because geographical placement can have an intense effect on a person's identity, how they are perceived, and how they perceive themselves. In Annie Hall, Sex and the City, Crime and Punishment and Brokeback Mountain the audience becomes confronted with the pivotal role that geography plays in people's identities. This paper will discuss how placement can shape and individual and the role that geographical placement plays in the media.

In Woody Allen's romantic comedy Annie Hall, geography and one's identity is tied into one another. Similar to the majority of Allen's work, Annie Hall is primarily set in New York City and follows Allen in his quest for love. In the movie, Allen's alter-ego, Alvy Singer tells the story of him and a girl named Annie Hall. Allen uses geographical differences to establish character's identity. Alvy, a born and bred New Yorker is neurotic, Jewish and an intellectual man. In real life, Allen perpetuates this stereotype as well as wrote it into existence through cinema. Woody Allen playing Alvy Singer in Annie Hall proclaims, "Don't you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we're left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes and I live here."

Annie Hall is also tied up with geographical stereotypes. Originally hailing from Wisconsin, Annie constantly falls back on her WASP, Midwest upbringing to explain her mannerisms and eccentricities. She has no problem surrendering her own accountability
and instead offers up her hometown as an explanation of why she is, the way she is. After a while in New York, she begins to pick up on Alvy's eccentricities. Annie becomes more intellectual and pessimistic. By becoming more like Alvy she also becomes more like New York.

Annie relocates from New York to Los Angeles and once again a new identity is formed and effected by geography. The easy going, bright and sunny setting of Los Angeles contrasts greatly in comparison to the drab, gray and hectic setting of New York. Once in the City of Angels, Annie morphs and discovers an identity with help from her surroundings. She is relaxed and calm vastly different from the jumpy and unsure person she was while living in New York. Partly out of protest of Annie choosing LA over New York, Alvy constantly degrades Los Angeles to a vapid, cultureless city. After turning down an offer to move to Los Angeles, Alvy interjects, "I don't want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light."

Prior to Annie's decision to move to the West Coast, Alvy passes judgment on Annie and the effects of her location to her personality. In a dispute over whether or not Annie's teacher likes her, Annie tells Alvy that she thinks her professor is "neat." Alvy at once seizes her use of the word "neat" to ridicule not only her but her childhood home in the Midwest. He exclaims "'Neat?!'" What are you, 12 years old? That's one of your Chippewa Falls expressions." By using dialect and enforcing stereotypes the movie Annie Hall manages to highlight the effect of living in a particular region has on both a person's attitude and how they are perceived by others.

Annie Hall is not the only movie that Woody Allen has cast Los Angeles in a negative light. In his 1973 film Sleeper, a comedic portrayal of life 2173, he is asked by Luna Schlosser "what is it feel like to be dead for 200 years?" To which Woody Allen's character Miles Monroe replies, "like spending a weekend in Beverley Hills." Again Allen projects the concept that to be in Los Angeles is to be brain dead.

Yet another East Coast/West Coast differences is played out in an episode from the third season of Sex and the City cleverly titled, "Sex and Another City." As the show's title implies, Sex and the City is a show about four woman and their love lives in New York. The show's star, Carrie Bradshaw played by Sarah Jessica Parker, constantly states how she is a New Yorker and professes her love for Manhattan on several occasions. The love for NY is moved to the other side of the United States in "Sex and Another City." Set in Los Angeles, this episode of Sex and the City focuses on the difference between New York and Los Angeles. The ladies experiences several culture shock moments such as Californians need/love for cars, no smoking legislation and metrosexuality in men. The quartet all embark on their own separate missions and their different stories unravel. The show’s cynic, Miranda, in particular highlights the contrast between NY and LA. While in California, Miranda decides to meet up with her old friend Lew. A former writer for the Letterman show, Lew now writes for a TV show. Miranda notes differences in Lew from his laid-back demeanor and his concern of gaining weight. During the dinner Lew takes bites of his food, chews, then instead of swallowing he spits into a napkin to avoid excess calories. In replaying the night for her friends, Samantha exclaims “that neurotic Woody Allen thing is sooo New York.”

As with all Sex and the City episode at the end Carrie recaps on what she has learned all with clever puns and chock full of symbolism. Miranda's friend Lew is no longer his authentic self after moving to California, Samantha buys a fake Fendi purse in order to keep up with appearances, Charlotte's marriage is as phony as the Fendi purse Samantha bought in the Valley and Carrie went to bed with a man that was a complete fraud. The episode has further concreted the impression that LA is an entirely superficial
city.

Los Angeles is not always portrayed as the graveyard of authenticity and intellect, in the case of the television series Entourage it can epitomize success, adventure and youth, a sort of contemporary of Manifest Destiny. As any good High School American History teacher can inform you, Manifest Destiny was a popular belief in the 1800's that Americans were destined to expand across the entire North American continent. With this also came the theme of adventure and a better life for a person if they ventured West. A famous saying during the time was "go west, young man." Fast forward to the 21st century and Manifest Destiny has taken the form of the glamour of Los Angeles. No better example than Entourage. The show features four childhood friends from New York who head West to Los Angeles. Some for career advancement, others for adventure, the young men represent the pioneer spirit of Manifest Destiny. They drive fancy cars, wear amazing clothes and live life to the fullest. They occasionally will mention their life prior to their move West and how unfulfilled they were when they lived in New York. The characters also constantly mention how lucky they were to get out of the East Coast, although they have a certain pride in their home region, they ultimately feel that Los Angeles is the epitome of their success. Therefore Los Angeles becomes a status symbol for success in the eyes of the audience.

In a time and place far away from contemporary New York and Los Angeles is Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment set in 19th century Russia. Dostoevsky once commented that St. Petersburg was "the most artificial city in the world" (Waymouth). Dostoyevsky strategically structured his novel around St. Petersburg in order to make a symbolic correlation between the vapid environment of the city and its ability to breed nihilism. In order to understand the mood that the city exudes it is important to pay attention to the city's creation. Under the rule of Peter the Great, the city was a built on top of a swamp, the city itself is not even grounded. It was intended to exude a sense of enlightenment and advancement of the Russian people to the Western world.

Dostoyevsky’s St. Petersburg is nothing what Peter the Great had in mind. Instead of being lavish and beautiful, Crime and Punishment paints the picture of a St. Petersburg that is stifling, crowded and filthy. The novel’s main character Raskolnikov lives in a bad part of town and lives in a dwelling described as little more than a closet. Combined with living in a suffocating city and his feelings of inadequacies of not being able to provide for himself despite being educated, drives Raskolnikov to nihilism. After adapting a nihilistic approach to life and being left with little options, Raskolnikov surrendered to his environment and fell into despair. It was then, once he became a product of his environment that he executed the crime portion of the novel. It is not a coincidence or accident that Dostoyevsky chose to build his story around the city of St. Petersburg. The author was aware that in order to create a certain vibe for his story he
would have to utilize the setting in order to give the story the personality he needed. In
the case of Crime and Punishment, St. Petersburg created a drab and dreary setting that would be able to produce nihilism in it’s environment.

Geographical determinism, or the belief that geographical elements contribute to a person's personality, plays a major role in the film Brokeback Mountain. Annie Proulx, the author of the short story Brokeback Mountain the movie is based on, revealed in an essay about the short story that she is “something of a geographic determinist, believing that regional landscapes, climate and topography dictate local cultural tradition” (Prolux 129). By placing the story in Wyoming she incorporates the regions “isolated livestock raising communities dominated by white masculine value.” (Prolux, 129) Brokeback Mountain is a tragic love story between two gay ranch hands, that are kept apart due to established social norms in rural environments and their seclusion from more progressive thought. The two men meet on a herd drive in the picturesque mountains of Wyoming. Living their entire lives on ranches the two men appear to live up to the stereotypes of the rugged, stoic and masculine ranchers. Despite typical rural ranch convention, the two develop a physical relationship that continues well into their 40’s. However due to their geographic placement the men were forced to suppress their homosexual feelings in order to keep up with In the 1960's, at the time of the story, the nation was going through a lot of changes and marginalized groups were beginning to form and demand rights. Rural Wyoming and Texas was far away from the progressive ideas. Isolated by mountains from gay friendly towns such as San Francisco in the west and too far from rebellions such as the Stonewall riots in New York, homosexuals in middle America were cut off
from contemporary concepts and unfortunately unable to embrace their sexuality.

The depiction of the neurotic New Yorker and nice Midwestern could be more than just a clichéd stereotype according to an article published in Perspectives in Psychological Science. Not only did the research show that state stereotypes were usually correct, “a state’s dominant personality turns out to be strongly linked to certain outcomes” (Simon). For example states known for their friendliness such as Minnesota also ranked low in crime and neurotic states such as New York tend to have higher rates of heart disease. Lead researcher of the study Jason Rentfrow, “ wasn't trying to gauge how life in New York had shaped any one individual. His goal was a psychological snapshot of the state, and for that he needed to include even recent migrants -- who may, after all, have been drawn to New York because the big-city bustle suited their personality.” (Simon). After this research there may be a little more validity to regional stereotypes.

Whether or not where a person lives determines their personality, movies such as Brokeback Mountain and Annie Hall and TV shows such as Sex and the City all imprint their audience with a distinct feeling and personality of their settings.

Work Cited
Simon, Stephanie. "The United States of Mind." Wall Street Journal. Web. 12 Apr. 2010. Proulx, Annie. "Getting Movies." Brokeback Mountain Story to Screenplay. By Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. New York: Dead Line, 2005. 129. Print.
Waymouth, Scott. "Nihilism in Russian Literature." Associated Content. 20 July 2007. Web. 12 Apr. 2010.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sleeper

After having a great discussion about Woody Allen's Sleeper and the current state of our society I really started to think about what everything really meant. If movies about the future are critiques of the present what does it say about our society? I also wanted to see how accurate futuristic movies have and will portray modern society.


I searched the internet and found a few movies that accurately portrayed the future. Mania.com composed a list of 7 future films that "got it right." Included on the list is The Truman Show. A reality show about the day to day life of an ordinary man that is unaware that he is being filmed and that his actual life is scripted. The movie debuted years before the reality show explosion, The Truman Show doesn't seem that implausible to me. Camera crews follow normal people such as Laguna Beach or their spin-off, The Hills I think the next step is to create a fake world and see if the person ever figures out they're trapped.


Sleeper touched on the direction that he felt food growth was headed.

As shown in this clip all the food is huge. Although it is obviously exaggerated it is not completely off. In the age of genetically modified food, what we consume is not natural. Which makes me wonder if Allen's freakish large food is really that off.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Virtual Panopticon

Everyone with a Facebook (sometimes even those without) do it-Facebook Stalking. As described by Urban Dictionary, Facebook Stalking is the act of “Looking at someones facebook profile and reading their recent news and wall posts. Monitoring another person's facebook life.” It is important to note that the definition contains “facebook life” not plain life, this can suggest that there exists an augmented reality online in which a person has the ability to be an omniscient participant in another person’s life by being able to check up on them by viewing the information provided on their Facebook or any other social networking site. The ability to constantly monitor someone else's life without revealing yourself can create a panopticon online.

By Foucault’s definition the Panopticon “is a machine for dissociating the see/being seen dyad: in the peripheric ring, one is totally seen, without ever seeing; in the central tower, one sees everything without ever being seen." Facebook and other social networking sites then began to serve as a virtual Panopticon, the user’s profile is seen, but he does not see who is viewing his/her profile. Since a user has no way of knowing who is viewing their profile, it can be assumed that anyone and everyone is. This can create a need for the user to constantly maintain a certain image.

In a recent episode of South Park, the writers parody the role that social networking sites play in a person’s life.


The clip shows that by Kyle adding Kip as a friend on Facebook his social image has dropped. Kyle is being judged laterally by his peers for committing a social faux pas and adding someone undesirable and tarnishing his own image.

Because they can be both seen and unseen over the internet, a social networking site user can be both prisoner and guard in the virtual Panopticon.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Midterm: Final Draft

Geography in Film and Literature

New York, California, Wisconsin. After reading these words many people will instinctively associate these states with distinct regional stereotypes. That is because geographical placement can have an intense effect on a person's identity, how they are perceived and how they perceive themselves. In Annie Hall, Sex and the City, Crime and Punishment and Brokeback Mountain the audience becomes confronted with the pivotal role that geography plays in people's identities.

In Woody Allen's romantic comedy Annie Hall, geography and one's identity is tied into one another. Similar to the majority of Allen's work, Annie Hall is primarily set in New York City and follows Allen in his quest for love. In the movie, Allen's alter-ego, Alvy Singer tells the story of him and a girl named Annie Hall. Allen uses geographical differences to establish character's identity. Alvy, a born and bred New Yorker is neurotic, Jewish and an intellectual man. In real life, Allen perpetuates this stereotype as well as wrote it into existence through cinema. Woody Allen playing Alvy Singer in Annie Hall proclaims, "Don't you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we're left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes and I live here."

Annie Hall is also tied up with geographical stereotypes. Originally hailing from Wisconsin, Annie constantly falls back on her WASP, Midwest upbringing to explain her mannerisms and eccentricities. She has no problem surrendering her own accountability and instead offers up her hometown as an explanation of why she is, the way she is. After a while in New York, she begins to pick up on Alvy's eccentricities. Annie becomes more intellectual and pessimistic. By becoming more like Alvy she also becomes more like New York.

Annie relocates from New York to Los Angeles and once again a new identity is formed and effected by geography. The easy going, bright and sunny setting of Los Angeles contrasts greatly in comparison to the drab, gray and hectic setting of New York. Once in the City of Angels, Annie morphs and discovers an identity with help from her surroundings. She is relaxed and calm vastly different from the jumpy and unsure person she was while living in New York. Partly out of protest of Annie choosing LA over New York, Alvy constantly degrades Los Angeles to a vapid, cultureless city. After turning down an offer to move to Los Angeles, Alvy interjects, "I don't want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light."

Prior to Annie's decision to move to the West Coast, Alvy passes judgment on Annie and the effects of her location to her personality. In a dispute over whether or not Annie's teacher likes her, Annie tells Alvy that she thinks her professor is "neat." Alvy at once seizes her use of the word "neat" to ridicule not only her but her childhood home in the Midwest. He exclaims "'Neat?!'" What are you, 12 years old? That's one of your Chippewa Falls expressions." By using dialect and enforcing stereotypes the movie Annie Hall manages to highlight the effect of living in a particular region has on both a person's attitude and how they are perceived by others.



Yet another East Coast/West Coast rivalry is played out in an episode from the third season of Sex and the City cleverly titled, "Sex and Another City." As the show's title implies, Sex and the City is a show about four woman and their love lives in New York. The show's star, Carrie Bradshaw played by Sarah Jessica Parker, constantly states how she is a New Yorker and professes her love for Manhattan on several occasions. The love for NY is moved to the other side of the United States in "Sex and Another City." Set in Los Angeles, this episode of Sex and the City focuses on the difference between New York and Los Angeles. The ladies experiences several culture shock moments such as Californians need/love for cars, no smoking legislation and metrosexuality in men. The quartet all embark on their own separate missions and their different stories unravel. The show’s cynic, Miranda, in particular highlights the contrast between NY and LA. While in California, Miranda decides to meet up with her old friend Lew. A former writer for the Letterman show, Lew now writes for a TV show. Miranda notes differences in Lew from his laid-back demeanor and his concern of gaining weight. During the dinner Lew takes bites of his food, chews, then instead of swallowing he spits into a napkin to avoid excess calories. In replaying the night for her friends, Samantha exclaims “that neurotic Woody Allen thing is sooo New York.”

As with all Sex and the City episode at the end Carrie recaps on what she has learned all with clever puns and chock full of symbolism. Miranda's friend Lew is no longer his authentic self after moving to California, Samantha buys a fake Fendi purse in order to keep up with appearances, Charlotte's marriage is as phony as the Fendi purse Samantha bought in the Valley and Carrie went to bed with a man that was a complete phony. The episode has further concreted the impression that LA is an entirely superficial
city.

In a time and place far away from contemporary New York and Los Angeles is Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment set in 19th century Russia. Dostoevsky once commented that St. Petersburg was "the most artificial city in the world" (Waymouth). Dostoyevsky strategically structured his novel around St. Petersburg in order to make a symbolic correlation between the vapid environment of the city and its ability to breed nihilism. In order to understand the mood that the city exudes it is important to pay attention to the city's creation. Under the rule of Peter the Great, the city was a built on top of a swamp, the city itself is not even grounded. It was intended to exude a sense of enlightenment and advancement of the Russian people to the Western world.

Dostoyevsky’s St. Petersburg is nothing what Peter the Great had in mind. Instead of being lavish and beautiful, Crime and Punishment paints the picture of a St. Petersburg that is stifling, crowded and filthy. The novel’s main character Raskolnikov lives in a bad part of town and lives in a dwelling described as little more than a closet. Combined with living in a suffocating city and his feelings of inadequacies of not being able to provide for himself despite being educated, drives Raskolnikov to nihilism. After adapting a nihilistic approach to life and being left with little options, Raskolnikov surrendered to his environment and fell into despair. It was then, once he became a product of his environment that he executed the crime portion of the novel. It is not a coincidence or accident that Dostoyevsky chose to build his story around the city of St. Petersburg. The author was aware that in order to create a certain vibe for his story he would have to utilize the setting in order to give the story the personality he needed. In
the case of Crime and Punishment, St. Petersburg created a drab and dreary setting that would be able to produce nihilism in it’s environment.




Geographical determinism, or the belief that geographical elements contribute to a person's personality, plays a major role in the film Brokeback Mountain. Annie Proulx, the author of the short story Brokeback Mountain the movie is based on, revealed in an essay about the short story that she is “something of a geographic determinist, believing that regional landscapes, climate and topography dictate local cultural tradition” (Prolux 129). By placing the story in Wyoming she incorporates the regions “isolated livestock raising communities dominated by white masculine value.” (Prolux, 129) Brokeback Mountain is a tragic love story between two gay ranch hands, that are kept apart due to established social norms in rural environments and their seclusion from more progressive thought. The two men meet on a herd drive in the picturesque mountains of Wyoming. Living their entire lives on ranches the two men appear to live up to the stereotypes of the rugged, stoic and masculine ranchers. Despite typical rural ranch convention, the two develop a physical relationship that continues well into their 40’s. However due to their geographic placement the men were forced to suppress their homosexual feelings in order to keep up with In the 1960's, at the time of the story, the nation was going through a lot of changes and marginalized groups were beginning to form and demand rights. Rural Wyoming and Texas was far away from the progressive ideas. Isolated by mountains from gay friendly towns such as San Francisco in the west and too far from rebellions such as the Stonewall riots in New York, homosexuals in middle America were cut off from contemporary concepts and unfortunately unable to embrace their sexuality.

The depiction of the neurotic New Yorker and nice Midwestern could be more than just a clichéd stereotype according to an article published in Perspectives in Psychological Science. Not only did the research show that state stereotypes were usually correct, “a state’s dominant personality turns out to be strongly linked to certain outcomes” (Simon). For example states known for their friendliness such as Minnesota also ranked low in crime and neurotic states such as New York tend to have higher rates of heart disease. Lead researcher of the study Jason Rentfrow, “ wasn't trying to gauge how life in New York had shaped any one individual. His goal was a psychological snapshot of the state, and for that he needed to include even recent migrants -- who may, after all, have been drawn to New York because the big-city bustle suited their personality.” (Simon). After this research there may be a little more validity to regional stereotypes.

Whether or not where a person lives determines their personality, movies such as Brokeback Mountain and Annie Hall and TV shows such as Sex and the City all imprint their audience with a distinct feeling and personality of their settings.

Work Cited
Simon, Stephanie. "The United States of Mind." Wall Street Journal. Web. 12 Apr. 2010.

Proulx, Annie. "Getting Movies." Brokeback Mountain Story to Screenplay. By Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. New York: Dead Line, 2005. 129. Print.

Waymouth, Scott. "Nihilism in Russian Literature." Associated Content. 20 July 2007. Web. 12 Apr. 2010.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Extremely Rough Draft

Geographical Determinism in Film and Literature
Geographical placement can have an intense effect on a person's identity, both how they are perceived and how others perceive them. In Annie Hall, Sex and the City, Crime and Punishment and Brokeback Mountain the audience becomes confronted with the role that geography plays in people's identities.
In Woody Allen's romantic comedy, Annie Hall, geography and one's identity is tied into eachother. Similar to the majority of Allen's work, Annie Hall is primarily set in New York City and follows Allen in his quest for love. In the movie, Allen's alter-ego, Alvy Singer tells the story of him and a girl named Annie Hall. Allen uses geographical differences to establish character's identity. Alvy, a born and bred New Yorker is neurotic, Jewish and intellectual man. In real life, Allen perpetuates this stereotype as well as wrote it into existence through cinema. Woody Allen playing Alvy Singer in Annie Hall proclaims, "Don't you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we're left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes and I live here."
Annie Hall is also tied up with geographical stereotypes. Originally hailing from Wisconsin, Annie constantly falls back on her WASP, Midwest upbringing for her mannerisms and eccentricities. She has no problem surrendering her own accountability and instead offers up her hometown as an explanation of why she is, the way she is. After a while in New York, she begins to pick up on Alvy eccentricities. She becomes more intellectual and pessimistic, by becoming more Alvy she also becomes more New York.
Annie relocates from New York to Los Angeles and once again a new identity is formed and effected by geography. The easy going, bright and sunny setting of Los Angeles contrasts greatly in comparison to the drab, gray and hectic setting of New York. Once in the City of Angels, Annie morphs and discovers an identity with help from her surroundings. She is relaxed and calm not at all how jumpy and unsure of herself as she was in New York. Partly out of protest of Annie choosing LA over New York, Alvy constantly degrades Los Angeles to a vapid, cultureless city. After shooting down an idea of moving to Los Angeles, Alvy interjects, "I don't want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light." Even before her move to the West, Alvy passes judgment on Annie and the effects of her location. In a dispute over whether or not Annie's teacher likes her, Annie tells Alvy that she thinks that he is "neat." Alvy at once seizes her use of the word "neat" to ridicule not only her but her childhood home in the Midwest. He exclaims "'Neat?!'" What are you, 12 years old? That's one of your Chippewa Falls expressions." The movie Annie Hall, manages to highlight the difference of attitudes and behavior of people from different regions.
Yet another East Coast/West Coast rivalry is played out in an episode from the third season of Sex and the City cleverly titled, "Sex and Another City." As the show's title implies, Sex and the City is a show about four woman and their love lives in New York. The show's star, Carrie Bradshaw played by Sarah Jessica Parker, constantly states how she is a New Yorker and professes her love for Manhattan on several occasions.
In a time and place far away from contemporary New York and Los Angeles is Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment set in 19th century Russia. Dostoevsky once commented that St. Petersburg was "the most artificial city in the world."
Dostoyevsky strategically structured his novel around St. Petersburg in order to make a symbolic correlation between the vapid environment of the city and its ability to breed nihilism. In order to understand the mood that the city exudes it is important to pay attention to the city's history. Under the rule of Peter the Great, the city was a labuilt on top of a swamp, the city itself is not even grounded.
Dostoyevsky’s St. Petersburg is nothing what Peter the Great had in mind. Instead of being lavish and beautiful, Crime and Punishment paints the picture of a St. Petersburg that is stifling, crowded and filthy. The novel’s main character Raskolnikov lives in a bar part of town in what is described as little more than a closet. Combined with living in a suffocating city and his feelings of inadequacies of not being able to provide for himself despite being educated, drives Raskolnikov to nihilism. After adapting a nihilistic approach to life and being left with little options, Raskolnikov surrendered to his environment and fell into despair. It was then, once he became a product of his environment that he executed the crime portion of the novel. It is not a coincidence or accident that Dostoyevsky chose to build his story around the city of St. Petersburg. The author was aware that in order to create a certain vibe for his story he would have to utilize the setting in order to give the story the personality he needed. In the case of Crime and Punishment, St. Petersburg created a drab and dreary setting that would be able to produce nihilism in it’s environment.
Geographical determinism plays a pivotal role in the film Brokeback Mountain. A love story between two gay ranch hands that are kept apart due to established social norms in rural environments and their seclusion from more progressive thought. The two men meet on a herd drive in the picturesque mountains of Wyoming. Living their entire lives on ranches the two men appear to live up to the stereotypes of the rugged, stoic and masculine ranchers. However, despite typical rural rant convention, the two develop a physical relationship that continues well into their 40’s. In the 1960's, at the time of the story, the nation was going through a lot of changes and marginalized groups were beginning to form and demand rights. Rural Wyoming and Texas was far away from these civil rights movement.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Group Presentation

For the group presentation portion of this class I decided to jump on the This Side of Paradise band wagon. Lucky for my group and me our presentation day was pushed back four days allowing us more than enough time to prepare for the assignment.

In order to present our information in an intriguing way, my group decided to break the class up into small groups to discuss topics pertaining to This Side of Paradise. The smaller groups gave us all an opportunity to zero in and focus on a specific topic. In the private discussions we were also able to have a more intimate and thorough conversation about This Side of Paradise and our outside texts.

Celeste and I partnered up and decided to tackle the modernist condition. We felt that the ’99 comedy Office Space best showcased the modernist condition. The clip we used features Peter Gibbons, a software engineer at the fictitious Initech. In this text, Gibbons has a meeting with the company's consultant in order for them to quantify Gibbons' worth to Initech.



In Gibbons' meeting with the "Bob's" he reveals that he actually only does real work a small fraction of the time while he is actually at work. He also reveals the futility he feels in working at Initech.

We related this same sort of "so what" attitude to a clip of Annie Hall we viewed earlier in the semester.



After showing this clip to our group, Celeste and I asked our members to list the similarities and differences between the characters presented in our clips and Amory. We found that although the three main characters in the text all exemplify the modern condition, Gibbon's and Woody Allen's character seem more nihilistic.

We also begged our members to determine whether or not the modern conditions is a secular case that only people of a high status are able to explore.

After our smaller group discussions we all came together and further conversed about our topics as a whole class. Overall I really enjoyed the way my group decided to carry out our presentation. I felt as if it really brought together the class and allowed everyone to have a say and opinion.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Action Painter

In "American Action Painters," Harold Rosenberg describes the new art movement that occurred at the time he wrote his article in 1952. He maintained that the difference he was seeing within the new movement was the rejection of realistic paintings with favoritism to interpretation of emotion and how to react to a painting. He simply states that instead of a picture what went onto the canvas was an event. One artist that particularly fits this description was Jackson Pollack.
An American painter that grew to prominence in the late 1940's, Jackson Pollack, became one of the forerunners of the abstract expressionist movement. Coined as an "action painter," Pollack would drip, smear and splatter paint masterfully onto large canvases.

Rosenberg commented that "at a certain moment the canvas began to appear to one American painter after another as an arena in which to act—rather than as a space in which to reproduce, re-design, analyze or "express" an object, actual or imagined." Evident in Pollack's Blue Poles: Number II (shown above,) the piece is entirely original it doesn't resemble anything that has been seen before, it is completely itself. Pollack echoes Rosenberg's sentiments by saying that "Today painters do not have to go to a subject matter outside of themselves. Most modern painters work from a different source. They work from within."
According to Rosenberg, the work of classical artists such as Michelangelo and Rembrandt contrasts with the art of abstract expressionists because one deals with portrayals of events while the new movement deals with moments and emotions. "The gesture on the canvas was a gesture of liberation, from Value—political, esthetic, moral."