Did you know that according to Marvel Comics publication standards it is perfectly natural for female superheroes like Ms. Marvel and Psylocke to be drawn in nothing more than a thong leotard, but strictly prohibited for Wolverine to be seen smoking a cigar? Did you know while Superman and Captain America were fighting Hitler overseas some stateside politicians and communities demanded the comics be taken off the rack because the titular characters were thought to epitomize the Nazi ideal of the perfect man? Did you know that according to many psychologists, physicians, and pastors, Wonder Woman influenced little girls to hate men and refuse to get married? If you answered no to any of these questions, don’t worry, neither did I. In fact, it was my lack of knowledge that motivated my research. When I was younger the biggest mystery in my life, aside from Santa Claus’ , was the tacky black and white symbol in the corner of my comic books. Since I was seven, I’ve always wondered what in the world this symbol stood for:
Blank Panels is a website that examines the history of regulation and censorship in the comic book industry. I started out searching for the simple answer to my question, but I later realized there was more to the seal of approval than a brief explanation. My website started out focusing solely on the work of Dr. Frederic Wertham, who wrote a scathing criticism of the comic book industry entitled Seduction of the Innocent. I later expanded my focus to the broad history of anti-comic book organizations and the development of content standards.
I used the website medium because it allowed me to treat my digital essay like a collection of articles. The ability to simply click on these rather text-rich articles made the website format the best fit for my essay. While my digital essay contains helpful images and videos, it is predominantly text, and unapologetically so. This website is rich with information and I like the visual to textual ratio.
Our conversations about social media and how we use it often leads to ideas of convenience, immediacy, and popularity. Both Microstyle and The Digital Divide do well to explore the frequency and form with which we use social media and mobile technology; however, what is missing from their analysis is a more social/anthropological examination of technology that exceeds the generation gap. Enter Duke’s own Black Thought 2.0.
This series of panel discussions, which streamed live, explored how African Americans use social media and mobile technology. Some of the arguments, like those of Mark Anthony Neal, are very thought provoking, and while the focus on the black community’s familiarity with innovative technology is in itself interesting, what makes this conference so thought-provoking is that it continues the discourse of the benefits and detriments of social media and web 2.0
I’m still kicking myself for not going.
One of the dangers—or guilty pleasures—of reading blogs is that we readers have a tendency to live vicariously through the documented experiences of the writer. I call this a danger and a guilty pleasure because I find myself reading Allison’s blog about exercise, A Crazie Obsession, more than I actually go to the gym. As a lifelong fat kid, I find myself both encouraged to work out, and problematically satisfied with just getting a second-hand experience when reading her post. Despite our different daily lifestyles, however, I think it’s amazing how frequently I read her blog with a sense of empathy or, in the case of her segment on spinning classes, good old-fashion commiseration:
“We all know what it feels like to walk into the gym and think, “dear god, I would give anything to be anywhere but here right now!” Sometimes, it takes everything you’ve got to muster up the energy to stay on whichever cardio machine you chose for the day just a few minutes longer… And, let’s be honest, we all know how easy it is to pick a comfortable machine and settle into an effortless pace. “
I love this post for two reasons: I am a fan of spin class, and I love lists and countdowns regarding format; which is why I’ve enjoyed reading Linday’s blog, Living by Listing. Aside from her Dr. Strangelove-esque titles that always fun and original, I love playing the game of reading her lists anticipating any matches with my own countdowns. Then, of course, there are items on her lists that make one think or shout “Iknowright?” (one word). Her connection to her audience is achieved through these funny, but all too serious, lists:
8) Global warming to stop making every allergy season the “worst ever!” I didn’t even know I had allergies until I came to Duke (and I am not alone in this). I have not been able to breathe since last Monday, and this morning I had a nosebleed in the shower, then had to get out to get Kleenex and flooded my bathroom floor. I love spring so much! -from “Things I can’t wait for, or Spring is too Exciting”
Subject/Slant: A product of my current blog, my digital essay will examine the key changes of comics through the ages. I will not only define and explain the essential parts of each age, but I will also take a look at the issues each age addresses, the innovations in drawing and print, and the fluctuating focus from art to writing. The digital essay will show how cheap Boy’s Adventure Magazines that were used to clean windows or stoke a fire as often as–if not more than–they were read have become both a respected literary medium and a lucrative industry.
Format: Because my essay will survey the major periods in comic book history, I think a VuVox collage will work well for topic.
Materials: I aim to incorporate information from the few books on the historiography of comics, interviews from well-known creators such as Stan Lee, Alan Moore, Dwayne McDuffie, and Gail Simone, and short clips from animated and live action adaptations. Beyond the textual, my interactive focus will be the visual/video.
Questions: In my mind, my current blog and my essay are very different entities; however, I know I cannot truly explore the history of comics without acknowledging the presence (or lack thereof) of racial, social, sexual, and gender minorities. Aside from limiting the amount of space I give to these specific communities, what other ways can I make my essay different from my blog (aside from not writing about comics, although I am thinking I could do a similar essay about video games)?
Gitlin’s essay “Nomadicity” was for me another example of an eloquent rant that missed the mark because it didn’t go far enough. “Nomadicity” argues that our technology, especially mobile technology, imposes on our solitude. He explores the concept of presumed availability that is a product of our mobile technology, and how this “on call” mentality can be an invasion one’s privacy and a violation of one’s personal time. This is a sound argument, but I am struck by Gitlin’s one-dimensional argument against the use of mobile technology. Indeed, our cellphones can be an invasion of solitude; however, they also ensure our solitude.
My hope for this article was that Gitlin would elaborate on his bus stop example, going further than simply calling our use of headphones and cellphone in public spaces social shields, and examine how simply their presence in public can be an act of antisocial behavior.
After reading Cathy Davidson’s article, I’m struck by the extremes with which these essays present technology and its educational capacity. Much like discussion during our last session, the essays either adamantly defend the efficacy of technology or declare that technology is the product of witchcraft. For Davidson’s article she seems to beatify technology, especially Wikipedia, without considering how it is used every day. Davidson emphasizes the power of a community of learners and the potential such online social academic environments hold for creating lifelong learners. The following was my initial response to Davidson’s claim:
Wikipedia? An community of lifelong learners? You mean the same Wikipedia in which Stephen Colbert asked his audience to change the pages of presidents, celebrities, and words? The same Wikipedia that, for almost a year, gave me the wrong Santorum (teehee)?
Admittedly, I love the idea of using Wikipedia in the classroom, and I plan on doing so; however, I find the lack of qualifying arguments—not even a hint at acknowledging the nay-sayer—within this book prevents it from providing a more productive look at the role of technology in our lives.
A few years ago NPR started compiling recordings of the personal beliefs and philosophies of their listeners. Taking its name from Edward R. Murrow’s famous short essays about the politics of the 1950, the This I Believe campaign provided a platform for NPR listeners to share their ideas and experiences. Initially, the program started as only audio recordings; however, the phenomenon has moved to youtube in the form of digital essays. Some seem to rely on photos to focus on their life’s motivation, while others used live action recordings to highlight the life and tragedy of an important person; regardless, both essays incorporate more than one medium of communication. I find myself intrigued by how easy and inviting this form of a digital essay can be. While I hope to do something more elaborate for my essay, I hope to use a slideshow and audio recording within my essay.
One of the most intriguing bits of Super Bowl fallout has to be the surprising comments made by a Brady; however, it wasn’t the Brady many expect. New England Quarterback Tom Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen was quoted criticizing her husband’s wide receiver teammates. Bundchen stated “my husband can’t f—ing throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time.” She went on to directly criticize the wider receiver core. My micromessage relied on the approriation of famous quotes and a play on words. Regarding Bundchen’s quote, I wrote:
“The Brady dost protest too much, methinks. Gisele is right. Tom can’t catch the balls he throws, nor can his receivers when he throws behind them.”
While much of Johnson’s work seems custom-fitted for twitter and blog headlines, leaving body paragraphs to fend for themselves, his section on recognizing and using metonyms is not only fun to read, but also very enlightening with regard to how I plan on reading and writing future articles. Much like the meme, or at least the act of referring to a meme, the metonym provides readers with an Easter Egg that makes them feel proud of being familiar with that particular piece of knowledge; as I read this sentence, I wonder if I’ve taken for granted that the term Easter Egg is in itself a metonym. No time to explain. Look it up.
As with many examples in Johnson’s book, I am surprised how frequent I use metonyms in daily conversations. As I read this section I began to appreciate the fact that my friends understand that when I call someone a backpacker, I’m not talking about someone who hikes. After my shock wore off, I realized how much fun and aggravating the use of metonyms can be especially coming from a nerd! One nerd created a site focused solely on the use of one metonym.
Comic book writer Gail Simone created the website Women in Refrigerators to explore the depiction and fate of female characters in comics; what makes her site so interesting is that its title is a metonym! While it didn’t start as a metonym, as the phrase directly refers to a scene in which a women in stuffed into a refrigerator, a Woman in a Refrigerator later referred to any female character who undergoes a disturbing experience. Eventually a WIR became the metonym to represent the problematic representation and/or experience of a female character in any graphic novel.
I can’t wait to use more metonyms in my blog. Here are a few I might use: An “Ultimatum” move, a “Brand New Day” plot twist, “going with leather pants”.
*These metonyms refer to the death of multiple main characters, the use of retroactive continuity for the entire history of a character, and the supposed permanent, and tasteful, alteration of a female character’s wardrobe that is soon replaced with the classic sexually exploitative uniforms, respectively.