Saturday, December 19, 2009

Never Listen to Céline? Radio Meter Begs to Differ

This is timely: "American men have a naughty little secret. Sometimes, they like to relax with a little Céline Dion. Professed classical music fans have one, too: as it turns out, they don’t tune into classical radio nearly as much as they claim... As radio executives are discovering, what people say they do and what they actually do is different — especially where 'My Heart Will Go On' is concerned."

Even the snobbiest snobs have a few Célines in their closets.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

But It's Not Even the End of This Semester Yet!

I know, believe me, I know. But with our much-too-short winter break, I want to give all of you--my upcoming students--as much time as possible to track down used copies of the books that we will be reading next semester. Also, if you'd like to shell out some cash for these texts at smaller independent bookstores, you should have time to do that as well. So look below for our required reading list. As always, the links to amazon are there for ease, which is probably why they're so successful over there: They make everything too easy.

See you on the flipside!

The Norton Anthology of American Literature (7th edition; Volumes C, D, E), edited by Nina Baym

Annie Proulx's Postcards

Manuel Muñoz's Zigzagger

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Potential Stocking Stuffers

I'm not sure if anyone is still checking the blog right now.....but I hope so!

I came across this today when I was playing around on my computer (instead of studying for finals)...Its Post-Structural-it stickies!

My favorite is the author gravestone......

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Let's test our skills...

The Blind Side

Watch the trailer to this movie. What can we say about the story line from what we have learned this past semester? Thoughts on the movie??? What would some of our theorists say?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Why, I like those apples just fine, actually.

Well, folks, we're heading into final exams and, ultimately, Winter Break here at GWU, which means two things: 1) This particular section of 120 is no more; 2) This blog will be on a hiatus for a bit until it returns revamped, reimagined, and revised next semester, with some new students. In the meantime, I'll leave everyone this famous clip from Good Will Hunting. Sometimes sounding obscure and smart makes one look like Michael Bolton. Other times, sounding obscure and theoretically rigorous gets you the girl. Thoughts?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Some more anti-Celine....the Mars Volta

The following is a video by one of my favorite experimental bands, the Mars Volta. This group came to fruition when its original band, At The Drive-in, split up owing to creative differences (another band, Sparta, was also forged after the break-up). I thought the Mars Volta would be a a more user-friendly example of a progressive (and critically acclaimed -- they won a Grammy) musical group. One major accusation that this band has continually received (along with At the Drive-in and Sparta), is that the lyrics are absolute nonsense. Consider the following response, given lyrically in one of their songs, to that claim:

"If you came here/For semantics/It's only a matter of folding/Time and space/Before I become your epidemic."

I believe that someone in class said that musical taste has to be cultivated and I agree. I remember when I first heard Mars Volta bursting under my brother's bedroom door in high school, my initial response was, "What in the hell is that??" After immersing myself in their work, however, they are one of my favorite bands (I think Angela mentioned her friend now loving house/techno music...)

I am not suggesting that everyone immediately quit their personal music tastes and jump on the progressive, experimental bandwagon. However, I do think its important to recognize the richness and musical daring that goes into groups such as these, especially before admonishing it as "weird" or "loud." Thoughts?

Your Habitus

Wilson uses the Bourdieu theory that your Habitus is formed through a combination of your "home base" and your "habits". This combination then goes on to serve as a filter for your perception of new objects. If something falls within your Habitus, Bourdieu argues, it "maximizes your satisfaction"

40 years later, we are having trouble with this theory because of the emergence of "No-Brow" tastes that can't be classified into high or low society

Looking at your own Habitus and tastes, do you believe that this old system has collapsed with the emergence of the "omnivore" or the person who balances high culture with popular culture, or is Bourdieu still as right as ever? Is this the modern "reneissance man"?
I randomly decided to google Wilson's book and I came across this - "this book documents Carl Wilson's brave and unprecedented year-long quest to find his inner Celine Dion fan, and explores how we define ourselves in the light of what we call good and bad, what we love and what we hate" ( I think maybe we should try and focus a little more on this idea of what we consider to be morally ethical in today's society. Wilson explores this notion in relation to the typical Celine Dion fan and the motives behind so many people disliking her, but how can we relate Wilson's claims to a greater good in terms of American society?

On the topic of autotune

Just as an example about how effective auto tune actually is, below is a Jimmey Kimmel bit where they actually autotuned President Obama using a new iPhone application "I AM TPAIN"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The world of AutoTune

When talking about Celine Dion we all tend to agree that she has an extraordinary voice and vocal talent but that her songs are laking. I wonder if she only sang acapella that we might like her more.

In today's society, with the emergence of technology like autotune, its becoming more apparent that you do not need to have actual God given talent to be a good musical artist. If a singer is tone deaf all you have to do is put their voice into a computer and it will sound good enough to be sold in stores.

Here is a commercial for a new american idol type competition that in the spirit of Foucaut is resisting the norm of today's music to bring it back to pure talent. Its one thing to miss a note with a full band behind you but its another when your voice is the band.

So why is it that we condemn Celine for not being a good artist when her vocal talent is undeniable but celebrate an artist like Miley Cyrus whos vocals are completely dependent on a computer.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

celine has nothing to prove...

Let's all try to remember that Celine was discovered as a musical prodigy in her early teenage years. All she's ever known is the recording industry and singing has been entire life for as long as she can remember. After almost 30 years in the industry she has nothing to prove to nay sayers. Celine has a huge fan base that will always support her and she knows from them that her music has a positive influence on people's lives. In a recent article (I have to site by memory because I could not find the hard copy) I am reminded of a quote in response to the criticism of her music. She said something along the lines that her music wasn't necessarily for everyone but she has had many fans come up to her simply to say that her music has helped them get through a death, a divorce, an illness- a tough time in their lives. This is all that Celine needs to hear. Celine Dion is an extremely gifted person who is fortunate enough to support charities all over the world. You don't have to like Celine's music and maybe you think she's crazy and cannot appreciate her public persona but nothing Celine has ever done or said (that I've seen) has come off as inauthentic or veiled with hidden intentions.

How are we able to hate a performer who only does good in our world? Furthermore what does this say about our culture and our views on gender? Celine Dion is everything that embodies the stereotypical female- emotional, caring, considerate, maternal etc. (remember back to our list)...are these bad qualities for women to have in today's society? Would Celine Dion be criticized differently prior to feminist theory?

not everyone hates Celine Dion

This is just for everyone's viewing pleasure:

Rags to Riches

So we all know that every American loves a rags to riches story. The American dream etc... where if you work hard enough you can get 2.5 kids, a good looking spouse, and two cars in the garage of your brand new house on the cul-de-sac.

Celine is certainly one of the most successful rags to riches story of our generation, so why is it that she is so hated almost as if she is a spoiled socialite (The White House State Dinner crashers anyone?) Is it because, as Wilson suggests in chapter 6, she appears so narcissistic and does not "hold back" or is it a different reason? Is it because her singing is so generic and lifeless? Why is Celine Dion a pariah and not a success story?

The Good, The Bad, and The Crazy

I figured I'd link us to some of the key multimedia artifacts that Carl Wilson discusses in the first half of Let's Talk About Love. Might want to break out the earplugs:

Celine Dion Goes Crazy

Most Wanted Song

Most Unwanted Song