Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Capote

ROBERT SMITHSON

I recently saw the Truman Capote biopic titled Capote. The film basically revolved around the making of his acclaimed crime novel In Cold Blood but also focused on his private life. The movie only marginally addressed Capote's sexuality which was openly homosexual. There was a character that played his boyfriend in the movie but he could have easily been mistaken for just a casual friend if the audience didn't already know about the real Capote. This is something that might've been hinted at in films in the '60s or '70s but now just seems a bit dismaying in 2005. There is another Capote biopic due out next year titled Infamous which may explore this aspect more in-depth.

Team Fallout

ESPN recently ran an article about the outspoken player aftermath of the Detriot Lions' Steve Mariucci firing. Fingers were pointed by two of the team's higher profile players, Jeff Garcia and Dre' Bly. Bly argued that it wasn't the coach's, Mariucci's, fault but rather the poor performance of their quarterback, Joey Harrington. Garcia blasted the organization's decisions instead, indirectly that of their top decision makers like general manager and revered NFL mind Matt Millen. The ESPN article heavily featured Bly's senitments, a black player, but didn't start to report what Garcia, a white player, stated until the second half of the paragraph. The decisions behind this could be because quarterback is a glamour position on the football field. Terrell Owens' comments about Donovan McNabb might not of been so heavily reported if it were about a defensive lineman or some less media reported position instead. Garcia's fiery argument against the organization has to be considered pretty newsworthy as well though. It was Bly's comments that generated the headline and the meat of the article instead.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2240566

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bamboozled

Stereotypes are at every corner of popular culture and the media. While contemporary audiences may not be subjected to as extreme stereotypes of the past, the manufactured image of characters and roles is imbedded in everyone's mind to some degree. The degree in which filmmaker Spike Lee takes aim at these stereotypes in the film Bamboozled is head-on, biting, and brutal.

I really despise watching ads on TV that feature terrible stereotypes. Even more, I hate that people have built-in stereotypes and reinforce them everyday. I know people that aren't racist and who aren't even remotely prejudicial, but use terms like "brothers" or "sisters" when talking about a black person. They don't mean harm by it, it's jokingly mentioned - playful dialogue that a lot of people use in daily conversation. This is a perfect example of something that reinforces stereotypes. A society isn't going to change overnight but subtle things like that exclude a group from your own, even if you didn't intend anything by it, isn't going to bring any unity. Maybe I'm looking too far into it but it's a subtle reinforcer that isn't going to bring a common association for all of society - if anything it divides it.

I really admired Spike Lee's vision and commentary on society. The film sent a strong message that isn't going to appeal to all people. For example, Lee takes shots at well loved American sitcoms like "Good Times" and "The Jeffersons" for themselves reinforcing stereotypes. Most people aren't going to sympathize with this accusation and that's what makes Spike Lee daring with this film. What perhaps is the most impressive aspect to the film is that it does all of this in a satirical and constantly amusing manner.

NBA Dress Code Policy

I can't really blame the NBA for wanting to improve their image after Ron Artest's run into the stands league PR nightmare last season. For that incidident, I can't blame league commissioner David Stern's choice in making the move. The league has an image to protect and something that barbaric needed addressing in some form. It's a smart business move and while it won't make a player less likely to throw a punch at a fan, it makes their business seem more professional and business-like.

Proposition 2 Results

I know Texas wouldn't vote against the gay marriage ban because of the conservative makeup of the state. It shouldn't be surprising considering this issue played a much bigger role in the last presidential race than expected. What does surprise me is the final vote tally for Denton County - 75% for and 25% against. 75% or just about the state average per county that voted for the ban. The college town atmosphere of the city made me think this would be closer but it's right dab average. It looks like only one county in the entire state actually voted against the ban, Travis County. I personally don't agree with the reasoning to approve the ban and wonder what kids 30 years from now in school think about this ruling when they read about it in their history books. Only one county in the entire state voting against the ruling is very discouraging to consider from an opposers outlook. It seems the gap is far spreading for toleration of others' sexuality in this state.

The Charlie Weis and Tyrone Willingham debate

Notre Dame football alums and fans alike have found a lot to cheer for this season. Charlie Weis, hot off his third super bowl ring from his former duty of offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, has the Notre Dame faithful seeing visions of Bear Bryant and Pop Warner. What's a bit suspicious though is the open arms embrace Weis has recieved from the fans while the previous team's coach, Tyrone Willingham, didn't favor nearly as much with the school even with a better starting record.

In 2002, Willingham took over as coach of the Fighting Irish. Willingham, one of the few black coaches in NCAA football, began his career with a 8-0 record. Weis, on the other hand, started at 6-2. Weis, a white coach, was awarded with a 10 year contract extension only midway through his first season with the team. Willingham was fired three years into his contact.

One can make obvious distinctions from those facts. It seems very suspicious on paper. Willingham finished his first season with a 10-3 record, losing 3 of his last 5 games. College football doesn't have the leeway of a few losses in a season like basketball or baseball. There's no playoff system for a multi-loss team to place hopes on - if you lose more than once in a year, your chances at a national championship are non-existant. That sort of pressure on NCAA coaches makes their schools view them with caution and overwhelming pressure. An 8-3 season for a major school like Notre Dame is a major failure if anything. Weis appears poised to make it to a prestigious bowl game with two losses in his first season. If Weis loses that bowl game and finishes with three losses, will fans of the University view his season as a major success over Willingham's first year or will the two be more balanced out?

Willingham's major downfall were his following two seasons. He finished his Notre Dame career with a 21-15 record. Aboslutely atrocious for a school that expects to win 100% of the time and realistically, at the very least, somewhere around 90%.

Personally, Charlie Weis won me over when Notre Dame nearly beat the Goliath of USC earlier this season. It's difficult to be a fan of college football and not want Notre Dame back up top with the heavyweights. It was painful watching them struggle season upon season with the legacy their name brings to the sport. Weis nearly knocked off what may be looked at as one of the best college football eras ever in the sport in USC a few Saturdays back. The drama of the final few seconds knocked you out. The emotion USC's go ahead drive was enthralling. USC battling back to take the win was extraordinary - one really thought this was it, the game would end with a major upset and a major statement for the university. It didn't end that way but Weis proved this wasn't the same ho hum team any more. He brought excitement back to the school's name and the sport.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Columbus and Native American vs. Indian

I originally meant to post this when Columbus Day was more recent, but I find it very interesting that the term Indian has survived several generations even though its origins aren't an accurate term. Columbus referred to the first inhabitants of this country as Indians because he originally intended to land in the Indies. Even with this error, the nickname has lasted ever since. Surprisingly, according to wikipedia.org, the term Indian is actually favored over Native American in a 1996 survey given to American Indians (another accepted term).

Female Sideline Reporters

Earlier this semester, we talked about female sideline reporters and the additional hurdles they face to get the same notoriety as male sideline reporters. I think the Pam Oliver example didn't turn up much on the internet because she has been around the sport for several years and doesn't draw attention to herself away from her job. She's well respected and definitely more embraced than other female sideline commentators.

We did turn up the terribly stupid Keyshawn Johnson quote in class about her, but that's not really surprising considering who said it. Long before Terrell Owens faced a team suspension, Johnson himself was excused for the final half of the 2003 season while he was with Tampa Bay, his personality being a considerable reason for the action.

Maybe a more fitting example would be former Monday Night Football sideline reporter Lisa Guerrero. She's appeared in several men's magazines like Maxim and Playboy.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

International Perspectives of Papua New Guineans in Cannibal Tours

I'm taking a Cultures Thru Film course which, as the name suggests, analyzes different world cultures through documentary films. The first assignment was to watch a documentary titled Cannibal Tours. The main premise had a group of gangly-necked wealthy Europeans and U.S. tourists clad in Bermuda shorts, Hawaiian-print shirts, and sunglasses, but also armed with cameras and preconceived romantic notions about primitive natives that would rival those of James Fennimore Cooper, visiting a small village of Papua New Guineans. The filmmaker showed the perspectives of the natives to the tourists and vice versa. He did a good job of showing the tourists view the natives as a bit of a novelty, mainly gesturing to the natives to twirl around so they could get a better snapshot from their cameras of the "feathery thing on your backside" and other culturally demeaning demands. The natives said they disliked being subjected to the tourists, but need the money the tourists spend on the villager's handicrafts. It was difficult viewing the film as the tourists bartered down prices, even though the villagers need the money substantially more than the tourists. The film mainly kept a very negative portrait of the tourists while showing the natives as desperate and bitter for having to deal with the visitors.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Clay Aiken on Monday Night Football

Last Monday, Clay Aiken appeared during the halftime show of Monday Night Football. He appeared during a comedy segment with comedian and late night host Jimmy Kimmel. Aiken, with a mid-90s Troy Aikman jersey on and football in hand, traded barbs with Kimmel, critiquing the early season struggles of a prominent NFL quarterback. One reason for Aiken to appear was that he was Kimmel's guest later that night on ABC and this was an easy way to plug the performance. Possibly a more important reason, I think, was to show him in a more masculine/male-dominated environment and to shed away some of the soft American Idol-esque steriotype he's labeled with. Aiken could very well be an enthusiast for the sport, but the fact he appeared wearing the throwback jersey and holding a football had to be predetermined by the network or his management or him.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Kanye West - As seen on NBC

I did my first case study on Kanye West's comments on NBC's Hurricane Katrina telethon. I know it seems a bit dated by now, but the articles I used for the paper were pretty varied from the others and the subject seemed suitable for the assignment. Reuters AlertNet portrayed it as a direct attack from West arguing that Bush and the federal government were blatantly being racist. The Rap News Network offered a more "caught in the moment" side to West's remarks. On a much different note, The Washington Post wrote an Onion-like article showing it much more as a novelty story than anything of importance. I think it's interesting that Matt Lauer, the telethon's host, sided with The Rap News Network viewpoint by saying the devastating consequences of the hurricane sparked strong emotions from people and alluded that West's comments were fueled by this. I fall on both sides of this issue. I understand the critics who say West shouldn't have expressed something as contentious in the existing circumstances, but also at the same time can understand his strong reaction in the spur-of-the-moment. Either way, you have to admit, Mike Myers' and Chris Tuckers' reactions were pretty great.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

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