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RTVF 110 unit 4 assignment


For my final project I will be researching the south bay car culture  – mostly of the JDM – Japanese Domestic Market / Euro scene). I am chose this subculture because it is one that I belong in, and that other SJSU students belong in as well (Although the subculture is NOT SJSU specific). The members of this subculture identify themselves by their car, usually if you see a modified car (Aftermarket rims, body kit, lighting modifications, lowered, etc), they are part of some type of car culture. Approaching someone about their car and asking about it is usually how people meet and find out more about each other, and get more into the group – because not everyone has a modified car (some people are just starting out.).


This culture has some strong values – the strongest being against the use of replica parts. Replica parts are cheaper, but they take money away from the company that first made it (And put in all the money for research and development), and when that happens, business is lost and it makes them hesitant to make more parts in the future – and this stalls the aftermarket modification that is essential to the community. People feed on the new parts to keep things new and fresh. There are also things like not causing trouble amongst the group and not attracting the cops with burnouts/illegal activities.


I feel the main stereotype for people into cars and car modification is “fast and the furious” / “Ricer” … basically someone who drives fast/street races, and puts on crazy stupid loud modifications to their car. This person is Asian, and is usually rich, and is male. I feel that although there is always a grain of truth to all stereotypes, it is mainly false. Most of the people in the culture heavily frown against any type of street racing as it attracts cops and puts a bad name on the culture. Also, although there are a lot of Asians, there are a lot of other races  in the culture as well, and it’s pretty diverse – especially in the bay area. They money thing is pretty split – some people are very rich and have ton of money to dump into their cars, where other people have some money, but are not rich, as a lot of money goes into their car! You don’t however find people who don’t really have money because there is some money required. And lastly, this is not a male – only culture … there are many females in the car culture, and I personally know many of them. Women can be just as or even more into cars than some guys! 


Das Racist VS Michael Jackson

In this blog post I am Comparing and contrasting the use of morphing technology in Michael Jackson’s “Black & White” music video with the use of that same technology by the group Das Racist in the music video to their song “Michael Jackson”, a parody of “Black & White” which came out 20 years later. Morphing is a special effect where you take one image and “morph”, or seamlessly change it into another image. After watching both videos, it is clear that they both use the same technology (One 20 years before the other), and they use it to show the same message: that we all should be living on this earth together in harmony. But Michael Jackson and Das Racist go about it in very different ways, and have two totally different concepts of reasoning behind their messages.


First of all, both videos have a series of people, of all races and size, morphing into each other singing along with the song.


I’ll first talk about the Michael Jackson video. In this video, the beginning shows Michael Jackson dancing with people of different races. Towards the end, it goes into the sequence of people morphing into each other singing along with the song. The first thing that stands out to me that all the transformations are between people with faces of similar features, size, and shape. They are from all different races (African, Indian, Chinese, Caucasian, etc), but when morphed together they look very similar – everything except the color of our skin. The message that we can extract from this is that we are all from the same gene pool, and that we are all the same (human beings) no matter where we are from or what color we are. Race does not matter, and we are all equal.  


This is in contrast to what is shown in the Das Racist video. I thought this video was very funny, and I actually had to watch this video two to three times to get the message. In this parody, the morphing between the different people singing is much more jarring – It’s between faces that are vastly different in features, size, and shape, and at the end the human face turns from a human face to a dog’s face! The people are also moving their heads in different way and not mimicking each other’s movements like in “Black & White”. The Das Racist video, by emphasizing the differences between all the types of people, says yes, everyone is in fact different, but that’s OK! We can still morph into each other – and live together in harmony on this planet.


It is the same goal in the end, but the way of relaying this goal of peace and harmony between all types of people on this earth was gone after in very different ways with vastly different messages. And Das Racists’ message of emphasizing differences is in contrast to what the Michael Jackson video shows, where the message we get from the video says we are all the same, human, and race, gender, size, shape, etc, is irrelevant. To me, the message that Das Racist is much more down to earth, because just by observing the people around us, we are in fact very different from each other, but that doesn’t affect the friendships and relationships that we make everyday. 

Dominant vs Oppositional Gaze

The First music video I selected is Shakira’s “Hips don’t lie” music video. This video is in the dominant gaze and I feel it’s targeted to attract both men and women. They are trying to target men through Shakira’s clothing and dance moves (showing her as “sexy and attractive”), and women because they want to carry that image: a good body, attractive, and tons of guys following them around like Shakira has in the video. The video features Shakira in a couple different outfits, all of which are tight fitting and some that are fairly revealing. In the entirety of this music video she is doing provocative dance moves, a lot of which includes her thrusting her hips and chest. She is the center of attention, wearing brightly colored outfits, while the men in the video are wearing darker colored ones, showing that she is what’s most important and what matters most. During parts of the video she is in an arena type setting with a huge crowd surrounding her while she dances. Even the lyrics play a part in supporting the dominant gaze, where the men are telling shakira that they didn’t notice her until she started dancing and that she should keep moving her hips, because when she does, nobody will ignore her. The combination of the all the aspects I discussed about the video plus the lyrics sends the message that women should be dressing in certain ways, and act in certain ways (In this case dancing provocatively) in order to impress the men in society (Bell Hooks).


The second video I chose is probably one that isn’t an obvious choice, and might be a little of a stretch, but I feel its far enough from the traditional male gaze for it to count as oppositional. The video I chose is “You belong with me” by Taylor Swift. The main target audience of this music video is young girls, but I think young men would like this video as well because most young men find Taylor Swift attractive. Now, this video is about a girl (Taylor) who is “Geeky”. In the video she has a crush on her neighbor, but he is going out with another girl, who does things and dresses in a way that is usually considered more traditionally attractive to men. In the video, every scene is a different comparison between Taylor and the other (Traditional) girl: It features Taylor wearing T-shirts vs short skirts, taking the bus vs having a hot car, and being a “band geek” vs a sexy cheerleader. Neither of those three attributes are supposed to attract a man, especially the star football player. The final scene is prom, where Talyor shows up in a beautiful long dress, which goes to the floor, and the other girl shows up in a skimpy red dress… and the man, ended up picking Taylor. This video sends the message that women don’t have to dress skimpy, and be the “cheerleader” type to be attractive in the eyes of a man, and that you’re your personality and just being yourself can be attractive. This is something that is the opposite of most mainstream media and music videos, which imply the opposite.


It was actually very easy for me to find a music video for the Dominant gaze; the hardest part was actually deciding which one to use, as there were so many to choose from! But the oppositional gaze video took a lot of thinking and searching, and I actually didn’t find that many. It shows that if something isn’t dominant, it gets pushed to the side. It seems no one, even mass media, wants to be oppositional, because they are now run as corporations, and they do not want to risk loosing profits if their view isn’t “popular”. 



Colorado Shooting

The National event I will be writing about is the Aurora shooting in Colorado, during the midnight release of the movie “The Dark Knight Rises.” In this horrific incident, a man by the name of James Egan Holmes, dressed in costume and stormed into a movie theater and went on a rampage, firing weapons into the crowd and killing 12 people and injuring 58 others before things came to an end. Now, this is a movie I was very much looking forward to, and these reports cause my mom into trying to talk me out of seeing it. Her talking didn’t work, as it is the Final installment of the Batman trilogy by Christopher Nolan, and I had already planned to go see the movie a few days after this shooting occurred, and I didn’t want to let this change my plans.

I first heard about this event from a friend and I immediately checked yahoo news (via my iphone). The article I read was filled with VERY detailed first hand accounts of what had happened, but a lot things hadn’t been confirmed yet as the investigation was still going on. Initial reports said that a man in orange, dressed up as bane (a character in the movie), stormed in, threw smoke grenades, and started firing fully automatic rifles into a helpless audience.  Many people, according to the article, had originally thought it was part of a special skit or real life special effect put together by the theater for the midnight release, and therefore didn’t get out of the way or try to escape. I remember the article quoting a person in the theater at the time saying they initially didn’t know what was going on, and as the man threw the smoke grenades into the crowd, he thought it was all part of the act.  Not much else was known, so most of the story was centered around the actual events, and not much on the shooter himself.

Later that day after I had gone home I saw the story on the news. By this time more details had come out, and there was a clearer picture of what happened. They showed a picture of the shooter on TV, and I could now clearly see what he looked like. Compared to the first time I read about it on Yahoo, it didn’t “wow” me as much as when I was reading the first hand accounts. It seemed much more crazy and dramatic in my mind as I imagined an intimidating man, tall and buff, wearing an scary mask, charging in and picking off people one by one. In a way, my mind was making it overly dramatic – almost like a movie, but the news really brought it back into reality. To me it was much more scary reading it than watching it on TV. Although it was scarier reading it, it really hit home after watching it on TV. It was very saddening seeing all the horror left behind and all the devastation that was caused to the families and friends of the deceased. It was not “movie scary” this time – it was more shocking and sad.

Both forms of media (TV and radio) really hyped up this attack, and put a scare into the people watching and reading about this incident. Many news agencies had mentioned how the film could have inspired the man to do what he did, and how it was possible to have copycats. This scared people who had planned to watch the film into staying home, and the movie took a huge hit revenue wise. Instantly theaters reacted, they talked about, and eventually did ban costumes, including masks and fake weapons. Costumes make up a large part of midnight releases and launch events, so there was a lot of controversy about this, especially since all evidence pointed to this being an isolated incident. This incident also brought some forth discussions about gun control, but they didn’t really go far in that direction.

From both the original story I had read, and the more detailed story on TV later, both reported on the horrific aftermath of this man’s actions and what resulted from it, but both of them were very much talking about the movie itself. Instead of taking this story and using it to start discussions on gun control and much needed help for the mentally ill, they ended up talking about how this would hurt Hollywood. The way the news agencies spun the story does not help the people at all, but all it did was advertise for the movie. This is detrimental to the people, because instead of taking this tragic incident and using it to help the community, all it did was scare a few people into not seeing the movie. So much more could have been done. 

GoPro AD

In this advertisement for GoPro, “The worlds most versatile camera”, it shows a man parachuting down from high in the sky. The photo is at a downward angle, showing part of the parachute, the man, and a large area of marshland/farmland beneath him in the distance. On the right side, in fairly large letters, it has the text: “They’ll never see exactly what you saw, but it’s pretty damn close!” as well as some small text on the bottom saying “Gopro:The worlds most versatile camera.” This ad is advertising this small video camera to people who do some sort of extreme sport or activity.

The Denotative things in the ad can be decoded from the 2 texts and the picture of the man. The first text says “They’ll never see exactly what you saw, but it’s pretty damn close!” This is implying that by recording your event, the footage you get from the GoPro, is something you can use to show off to your friends, your family, and the world, to make them feel the excitement that you did while doing this activity. They also say that the GoPro is the most versatile camera – so it is the one that you should buy as it can be used in almost any situation! From the picture of the man, we can see that he is concentrating on what he is doing and isn’t looking into the camera – this is no easy thing he is doing!

The connotative meaning: All GoPro ads, including this one, show people doing extreme spots. This one is parachuting. Its the type of activity not everyone does, and is something that most people would find very cool and exciting. So, by buying this camera, you would be someone that is cool and exciting, and have things that are worth sharing to your family and friends. The man is not looking into the camera – and that can signify that he doesn’t need to worry about recording, and is concentrating on his difficult task – which further reinforces the usefulness of the camera – all you have to do it set it up and go. The camera itself is called the “Hero2” (Its the second version), and the name itself has some connotative meaning. A hero is somebody people look up to and admire, and buy buying the GoPro Hero2 Camera, you are both a professional and hero to the people who will be watching you doing your thing. It is meant to make you feel good about your purchase on more than just one level. The name of the company, the name of the camera model, the print ad, all lead to that subconscious feeling of being a professional, a hero, a person that is highly regarded in society, and somebody that is looked up to.

This advertisement plays perfectly into the stereotype of typical male – a person who is adventurous, strong, skilled, respected by his peers, loves the outdoors, etc. All these things attributes are ones that every man wants people to see, to boost his ego, and to make himself feel more like “a man” – or more correctly, what society thinks a man should be. It enables you to make yourself more popular, by recording yourself and putting it up online, and having people watch it. Its like being your own paperatzi. Paparazzi are known to follow celebrities, and by doing this, you now become the celebrity.

In the end, this advertisement is saying – by buying this camera, you can make yourself a celebrity, a hero, and a cool person in society, because by watching your videos, people will think highly of you.

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