Hi All!  Welcome the Blog Response project for English 101.  I wanted to provide you with an example of what kinds of entries would receive full credit in the course. Your actual assignment will begin with BR #1.  

The responses may be informal but they need to be complete answers that sincerely address the reading and all elements of the questions.Although I hesitate to give a length minimum, in general, responses that are 75% of a page single-spaced,typed page in MS Word tend to be more complete. (That’s 75% per question. )

The following question is for demonstration purposes only. You not need to include a blog entry for it. 

Why is popular culture a worthwhile topic of scholarly study? 
 


Comments

Joe Student
08/27/2013 4:37pm

The study of popular culture is important and worthwhile because it is our culture, by which I mean it is American culture. If we want to understand ourselves as a people and generate some idea of what makes up “tick,” then we are going to need to comprehend the social, political, and economic forces which guide our values and our way of life. And all three aspects are directly related to the popular culture. For example, the only way most people know about a politician is if that person happens to possess elements of celebrity. Barack Obama is not well known just because he is the President, he is well know because he is charismatic and has access to the media, two important factors which promote celebrity. Likewise, Bill Clinton a “celebrity” President for the same reasons, but he was also involved in scandal, which is another way in which a celebrity sustains celebrity.

Studying popular culture also provides us with a way to better understand how our economy works. It seems that every aspect of our day-to-day lives involves some sort of interaction with the popular culture, which in turn involves either an explicit or implicit interaction with consumerism. For example, unless we grow our own food, we are probably having some sort of purchased meal for breakfast. That meal – whether it’s a McDonald’s McGriddle, or a bowl of Wheaties – is a specific product with specific cultural signifiers. A McDonald’s product connotes many meanings – cheapness, disposability, factory-like uniformity (the McGriddle you buy in LA is the same one you buy in Rio, or London, or Tokyo), childhood nostalgia, etc. These connotations are not specific to the individual. They are connotations shared by all Americans who engage in the popular culture. If, suddenly, McDonald’s stock started to plummet, that would be something we would notice both with the culture and in the economy.

Finally, studying popular culture could, hypothetically, provide us with a way to activate change within the culture. Many people may be critical of the culture – calling it “trash” culture; suggesting that it makes us shallow human beings – but because we don’t properly understand what it is we are critiquing, we are not well enough informed to make the kinds of cultural changes that we might desires. A question I have for anyone who hates or is otherwise critical of popular culture is: what do you want to replace it? What is your “more ideal” world? What does it look like? And how would you really feel without Nike, Ronald McDonald, iPhones, prime-time television, Transformers Part 18, Star Wars Episode 99, Monday Night Football, and after Christmas sales?

Prof Fulton
08/28/2013 1:13pm

Hey Joe! Where ya going to?

Haha! Just kidding. Laughing out loud... seriously!

No, you make some interesting points. And in general I think you have a fabulous brain. May I put it in a jar? :)

Benito
08/29/2013 10:16am

The study of popular culture is important and worthwhile because it is our culture, by which I mean it is American culture. If we want to understand ourselves as a people and generate some idea of what makes up “tick,” then we are going to need to comprehend the social, political, and economic forces which guide our values and our way of life. And all three aspects are directly related to the popular culture. For example, the only way most people know about a politician is if that person happens to possess elements of celebrity. Barack Obama is not well known just because he is the President, he is well know because he is charismatic and has access to the media, two important factors which promote celebrity. Likewise, Bill Clinton a “celebrity” President for the same reasons, but he was also involved in scandal, which is another way in which a celebrity sustains celebrity.

Studying popular culture also provides us with a way to better understand how our economy works. It seems that every aspect of our day-to-day lives involves some sort of interaction with the popular culture, which in turn involves either an explicit or implicit interaction with consumerism. For example, unless we grow our own food, we are probably having some sort of purchased meal for breakfast. That meal – whether it’s a McDonald’s McGriddle, or a bowl of Wheaties – is a specific product with specific cultural signifiers. A McDonald’s product connotes many meanings – cheapness, disposability, factory-like uniformity (the McGriddle you buy in LA is the same one you buy in Rio, or London, or Tokyo), childhood nostalgia, etc. These connotations are not specific to the individual. They are connotations shared by all Americans who engage in the popular culture. If, suddenly, McDonald’s stock started to plummet, that would be something we would notice both with the culture and in the economy.

Finally, studying popular culture could, hypothetically, provide us with a way to activate change within the culture. Many people may be critical of the culture – calling it “trash” culture; suggesting that it makes us shallow human beings – but because we don’t properly understand what it is we are critiquing, we are not well enough informed to make the kinds of cultural changes that we might desires. A question I have for anyone who hates or is otherwise critical of popular culture is: what do you want to replace it? What is your “more ideal” world? What does it look like? And how would you really feel without Nike, Ronald McDonald, iPhones, prime-time television, Transformers Part 18, Star Wars Episode 99, Monday Night Football, and after Christmas sales?

S. Ashli Lilly
09/01/2013 4:40pm

In the introduction chapter to the book named “Signs Of Life in the USA” the authors define the term “sign” as a way to connect a specific meaning to a term, action or piece of information, however the term “signifier” refers to a specific understanding of what each “sign” translates into. For example, when someone buys a new car. The car is a sign that this person has done well enough to be able to afford to take on the responsibility of a new vehicle. If the buyer purchases a BMW and also adds the highest luxury package to the vehicle that could be taken as a “signifier” referring to social status or maybe even that this person has an abundance of money to spend. When applying these concepts to popular culture it helps us understand what societal changes have occurred over the course of time as well as assists in the dissection of the patterns which indicate what is currently relevant and what was previously significant.

The term “folk culture” refers to the heartbeat of what a specific culture consists of. In historic times folk culture was a way for local community members to interact in fields such as music, art, tradition, etc., while indulging in a sense of togetherness from the place they were located. Most folk culture remained local to the specific community from where it originated. Mass culture, although is more widely spread and has become the most present form of circulating entertainment, business and political news. Governed by the guidelines of a central location, most products of mass culture are distributed throughout many areas and exposed to large amounts of people. Once the product or behavior becomes popular it is then favored by the masses, hence the term “mass culture”. When relating the two terms to popular culture it provides you with a way to gauge where our preferences as a society have started, consideration as to where it is currently as well as a hint to where it might be in the future.

There are many ways to analyze pop culture. One specific way would be the semiotic method. This method uses the actions of analytical though along with the presence of supporting evidence in order to convey your argument or thesis. One way the semiotic method can be used to analyze popular culture would be by monitoring the output of certain trends against the actual data collected from those whom participate in those trends verses those who don’t. By doing this you may be able to assess which popularities are stronger than others in addition to measuring the impact of the mainstream emphasis on rapidly decreasing traditions. An advantage to using this method compared to discussing trends as individual occurrences allows us to be able to gain a more accurate understanding of the “mind-set” we have as a societal whole as opposed to obtaining limited insight on certain groups.

In todays popular culture one trend that has become increasingly more vibrant are vampires. The reasoning as to why vampires have transitioned from the terrifying monsters we know of the past to the sexy creatures of intrigue we know today is highly objective. In my opinion I would say that the normalcy we have naturally as a species which also is shown in vampires connects us to them as we connect to ourselves and by adding an exotic twist of super-human strengths and weaknesses allows us to have a vicarious emotion that gives us a false sense of euphoria. By utilizing the semiotic method we can, however have a better understanding as to what traits dominate the rationale behind this phenomenon. The semiotic method helps provides a more accurate depiction of our mental evolution.

arturo rios
09/02/2013 9:57am

Popular culture is important to be studied because it is the culture we live in modern days, which is reflected trough signs in order to be understood such as the government, music, TV shows, movies, books, songs and many different types of entertainments that constantly influence in the way that people behaves and lives so that popularity and news can be spread across the country and get to be known. Popular culture influences economically because influences in the mass production of TV shows, movies and music. For example if a new vampire movie comes, people will immediately be wanting to pay to watch it and start buying any product related to vampires due to the high popularity it has been developed in the last few years. In order for this to happen artists, vampires and all these new products and actors we see every day, they constantly are changing and been presented more attractive, sophisticated and updated, obviously causing to be wanted.
Popular culture influences politically in our life’s because express ideas and events that affect culture in order to build a better system. For example movies such as Avatar, in which blue giant people fights is no more than a deep representation from the European colonization and conquest
Which exposes the way American people used to gain land, leaving for many historians and people along topic to talk about , due to the violence and injustices that occurred in order to conquer which are still ignored and present in a nice way, so that people can live with no remorse, make into a movie or song in a nice way and sell it make profit out of it and make both happy the economy and community because while government makes the profit out of the citizens pocket by making a movie about hidden political and historical issues people smiles after watching the new movie, without knowing they only contribute increasing rate of ignorance both happily knowing that for sure helps economy.
Another reason that makes popular culture important is the way that people lives. Trough tv shows and movies we are thought to be live. For example during the 50’s programs, typical American families would show women as no more than a mere housewife while mean was exposed as the hardworking element. This teaches that we are no longer free at all and that television and that the media has influenced in our society and ways f thinking because also what it used to be bad nowadays is good and presented to us as something productive. We are no longer free because we are thought to be live and how to be happy trough the influence of celebrities and media entertainment eve thought we believe we are, we are not if we take a close look at it because. Even people who dares to recall on this issue will find their selves caught on this, such as the Anonymous guy that comes on the internet is also caught in this popular culture due to the followers it has and the many other followers its followers have, which only increases the circle cycle of influence therefore every sign that we see should not be ignored but analyzed .

arturo rios
09/02/2013 10:10am

Popular culture is important to be studied because it is the culture we live in modern days, which is reflected trough signs in order to be understood such as the government, music, TV shows, movies, books, songs and many different types of entertainments that constantly influence in the way that people behaves and lives so that popularity and news can be spread across the country and get to be known. Popular culture influences economically because influences in the mass production of TV shows, movies and music. For example if a new vampire movie comes, people will immediately be wanting to pay to watch it and start buying any product related to vampires due to the high popularity it has been developed in the last few years. In order for this to happen artists, vampires and all these new products and actors we see every day, they constantly are changing and been presented more attractive, sophisticated and updated, obviously causing to be wanted.
Popular culture influences politically in our life’s because express ideas and events that affect culture in order to build a better system. For example movies such as Avatar, in which blue giant people fights is no more than a deep representation from the European colonization and conquest
Which exposes the way American people used to gain land, leaving for many historians and people along topic to talk about , due to the violence and injustices that occurred in order to conquer which are still ignored and present in a nice way, so that people can live with no remorse, make into a movie or song in a nice way and sell it make profit out of it and make both happy the economy and community because while government makes the profit out of the citizens pocket by making a movie about hidden political and historical issues people smiles after watching the new movie, without knowing they only contribute increasing rate of ignorance both happily knowing that for sure helps economy.
Another reason that makes popular culture important is the way that people lives. Trough tv shows and movies we are thought to be live. For example during the 50’s programs, typical American families would show women as no more than a mere housewife while mean was exposed as the hardworking element. This teaches that we are no longer free at all and that television and that the media has influenced in our society and ways f thinking because also what it used to be bad nowadays is good and presented to us as something productive. We are no longer free because we are thought to be live and how to be happy trough the influence of celebrities and media entertainment eve thought we believe we are, we are not if we take a close look at it because. Even people who dares to recall on this issue will find their selves caught on this, such as the Anonymous guy that comes on the internet is also caught in this popular culture due to the followers it has and the many other followers its followers have, which only increases the circle cycle of influence therefore every sign that we see should not be ignored but analyzed .

yael rios
09/02/2013 10:12am

...

Tye Peoples
09/02/2013 3:37pm

The author as something that carries meaning such as the vampire phenomena describes a sign. As used in the text, the difference between a bloodthirsty demons and a vampires that have feelings and love. Meaning in the past, most stories about vampires were full of blood and perhaps horror, unlike in this present day where most of our vampire stories bleed love.
Folk culture is a culture of its own. A culture of creativity. A culture that focused on more social gatherings such as festivals, something a little more traditional. Mass culture is almost the same. Both folk culture and Mass culture are related to popular culture. They use parts of folk culture (folk art, folk music) all entertainment overtime to catch the mass people.
The semiotic method can be used to analyze popular culture by looking at the signs that are shown daily. For instance, how in today’s time commercials about contraceptives are becoming more popular. In a comedic sense, the new commercial that’s out about Trojans Ecstasy condoms. Of course they don’t actually show the women’s breast, instead they place to large lollipops in the front to make the commercial child friendly. Even if the child doesn’t know the commercial is about. The advantages that semiotic method has over discussing individual pop culture are being able to look at all signs and analyze the differences between them. Vampires are so hot in popular culture because in lot of ways the vampire stories that are being depicted have a lot in common with our everyday life. Such as vampires falling in love, them actually having emotions and how they deal with the everyday things that us humans come across.

fatima fuentes
09/02/2013 4:28pm

We live our lives every day with popular culture involved. The moment we have breakfast, we turn on our TV to watch the news, or grab our phones and see if we have notifications or updates going on. Most of us are not aware of what popular culture is, since only few of us dig into the topic. Popular culture is an ongoing process that has been around for few centuries, and therefore, I can say that it is part of the evolution of biodiversity. And since popular culture is phenomena that we can hardly explain, it can be a worthwhile topic for scholarly study.
In my own understanding, popular culture is a vast variety of entertainment that people use daily. Even though pop culture is involved in what we do most of the time, most of us are not very aware what popular culture really is, and how it changes or affects our lives. It is sort of being taken for granted.
“Sign is a shift, a signifier of a profound change in American consciousness” (Maasik, Solomon 7). This means that a sign can have different meanings over time. According to Ferdinand de Saussure, a sign is the signifier, and the meaning behind that sign is called the signified. Signs and its meanings are related to pop culture by how people interpret simple signs (for example, how women dress up) and make it as a statement or even a trend. The meaning of a sign may vary according to different groups of people or different countries. For example, super mini shorts may be unacceptable and offensive to old people, but a trend to the young group. A sign is shift of interpretation or meaning of people’s understanding toward a specific symbol.
Mass culture and folk culture yield to pop culture. People practicing folk culture produces their own form of entertainment, wherein they allow themselves to be amused by their own variety of fun-generating activities. They cannot afford to be in the “high” culture. They have to pay to be in the high culture so as to be entertained or to acquire knowledge of high class leisure, such as fine arts, literature, philosophy and classical music. Folk culture is practiced by the majority, and it creates trends that are consumed by many. As a result, folk culture dominates and suppresses the high culture. Folk culture paved way for the mass culture, wherein the entertainment that people produce for themselves has become a business and is consumed by many. Folk culture and mass culture have now become part of the progress of pop culture.
Popular culture also includes Semiotic method. It is useful in analyzing popular culture by finding out the meaning behind signs and signifiers. It helps us interpret and understand the shift of meaning of signs over time. Through semiotic method, signs may have different meaning, and not all people can interpret the meaning of a sign. When a certain topic or sign is being brought up, it may sound very normal and nice to children, but for adults, it can be a green joke or a sensual matter. Semiotics are very helpful in our everyday lives. It can be a way to give your friend an idea to be part of your lie to another person, or to explain complex matter to children in a creative and comprehensive way.
All the features that pop culture has (signs, signifiers, folk culture, mass culture, and semiotics) greatly affect the way people think about certain signs. Say for example, vampires, denotatively, they are creatures based on myths that suck blood out of a human. They are simply monsters that people should be afraid of. Yet, pop culture makes vampires so fascinating and awesome, and people are not afraid of them anymore. They are associated with the word “hot”, which means sexy and attractive, thanks to semiotics. Semiotics helps us analyze why vampires are hot, sexy and attractive. The mass media creatively shifted the meaning of vampires by making them appear sexy and attractive on TV, movies, or printed press. Popular culture adapts this shift of sign, and uses it constantly. Through creative entertainment and semiotic method, we do not see vampires as hideous monsters anymore, but rather heroic creatures that are attractive, sexy, and hot.





Monserat Cabrera
09/02/2013 10:06pm

The concept sign and signifier relate to the study of popular culture because it’s the meaning of images, objects, and forms. How they appear and what they make people do, for instance a girl sees a commercial of a Barbie and the structure makes the girl actress in the commercial the happiest girl on earth this makes the girl watching the commercial want the doll because she wants to look like the girl in the commercial. This signifies as an object and how to get someone to purchase it. Pop Culture surrounds us on daily basis examples are all those billboards and magazine ads advertising products using famous people. Sometimes we do fall for all that because we see our favorite actress “supposedly” using the product and we want it to, not knowing that maybe they never even used it. Folk culture, mass culture, and popular culture are related because they all developed with the society. Mass culture is culture that is widely disseminated via the mass media. In the other hand folk culture is gatherings and it being a lifestyle that is passed by generation-to-generation, using music maybe festivals. And it all relates because it’s also included in pop culture today for the consumer.

The semiotic method is also use to analyze popular culture because its what we do. Like Signs of Life in the USA says “whether or not you’re familiar wit this word, you are already practicing sophisticated semiotic analyses every day of your life”. This means that what we wear, do, say, or even a haircut all is because we probably saw a famous person do it too and we wanted to do it to because it’s the new trend. This is all important because we are somewhat followers. The semiotic method is also unique because what we see is what we want.

Vampires are so “hot” in our popular culture because it started as a fantasy, a story, and then it got developed into a movie. Twilight is one of those vampire movies with hot vampires. Yes, Edward is so sexy! But mostly is all about gender role because in all this mostly females are the ones in love all these fantasies. Because we all want a strong man that can love us and we fantasize, desire, and it’s exciting.

Monserat Cabrera
09/02/2013 10:07pm

The concept sign and signifier relate to the study of popular culture because it’s the meaning of images, objects, and forms. How they appear and what they make people do, for instance a girl sees a commercial of a Barbie and the structure makes the girl actress in the commercial the happiest girl on earth this makes the girl watching the commercial want the doll because she wants to look like the girl in the commercial. This signifies as an object and how to get someone to purchase it. Pop Culture surrounds us on daily basis examples are all those billboards and magazine ads advertising products using famous people. Sometimes we do fall for all that because we see our favorite actress “supposedly” using the product and we want it to, not knowing that maybe they never even used it. Folk culture, mass culture, and popular culture are related because they all developed with the society. Mass culture is culture that is widely disseminated via the mass media. In the other hand folk culture is gatherings and it being a lifestyle that is passed by generation-to-generation, using music maybe festivals. And it all relates because it’s also included in pop culture today for the consumer.

The semiotic method is also use to analyze popular culture because its what we do. Like Signs of Life in the USA says “whether or not you’re familiar wit this word, you are already practicing sophisticated semiotic analyses every day of your life”. This means that what we wear, do, say, or even a haircut all is because we probably saw a famous person do it too and we wanted to do it to because it’s the new trend. This is all important because we are somewhat followers. The semiotic method is also unique because what we see is what we want.

Vampires are so “hot” in our popular culture because it started as a fantasy, a story, and then it got developed into a movie. Twilight is one of those vampire movies with hot vampires. Yes, Edward is so sexy! But mostly is all about gender role because in all this mostly females are the ones in love all these fantasies. Because we all want a strong man that can love us and we fantasize, desire, and it’s exciting.

Tirsa Cueva
09/02/2013 11:08pm

The author’s define “sign” as a shift. For example they use the example of Dawson’s Creek to be set in Transylvania and Nosferatu to be in Melrose Place, signifier on the other hand refers to a profound change. These concepts relate to the study of pop culture because through the years we have been seeing such shifts and changes. Another example that is given in the intro is the change we have had towards vampires. Before everyone would look at them as these horrible monsters, and now vampires are phenomenons.

Folk culture is what we now know as folk culture, back then folk culture was considered the popular culture. Folk culture had its own stories, tales, music and art. All these activities were self produced by the people. Mass culture became was formed by the mass society, and they are entertained by the culture industries surrounding them. Mass society started growing due to the growth of our economic system. The era of new technology became a big part of mass culture; it was able to transmit the entertainment to everyone around through radio and television. Folk culture and mass culture relate to pop culture due to the influence they have had on us.
We can use the semiotic method to analyze popular culture and the significant of what the signs truly mean. Now days you can browse at something and not realize what it’s true meaning is, for example you may be watching a TV show or reading a book, but you never really knew the connection it had to politics. We often forget that politics is popular culture. It has the advantage since you are able to really analyze pop culture and allows you to critically think more efficiently.

Vampire are “hot” in our popular culture because of the way they are being portrayed as today, meaning they are now young, good looking, good people; not the monsters they were seen as before, and romantic, capable to love one. Semiotics can help us understand this phenomenon by helping us analyze and break down things. You start by analyzing from the past, like the what the story of Dracula, how was Dracula seen? And what differences do vampires have now than before, when they were seen as the “bloodsucking monsters”.


bryce arpin
09/03/2013 8:24pm

• How do the authors define “sign” and “signifier” and how do these concepts relate to a study of popular culture?

A sign is defined as anything that bears meaning such as a word or an object. A signifier is a sign that shows a shift or a change. A billboard is a sign, a billboard with a gay couple is a signifier that homosexuality is becoming accepted. Basically, a sign only has meaning within its cultural context. For example the "ok" sign with your hand is ok in America but is a big insult in Italy.

What are “folk” culture and “mass culture” and how do they relate to “popular culture?”

Folk culture is a form of entertainment and socialization self produced by amateur performers. Mass culture is a sub set of popular culture including commercially produced entertainment for wide spread consumption. Popular culture is the part of a culture that includes everyday life such as consumption of consumer goods and production and enjoyment of mass produced entertainment. Folk culture relates to everyday life and mass culture relates to mass produced entertainment.

• How can the “semiotic method” be used to analyze popular culture? What advantages does it have over simply discussing the individual pop culture expressions as unique or discrete items?

Semiotic method can be used to describe popular culture by looking at the people, places, and things around you and trying to hypothesize what people mean by what they wear, and the deeper meaning behind objects in our society.
The advantage is that you have a broader perspective because you see thongs in relationship to other things.

• Why are vampires so “hot” in our popular culture? How can semiotics help us understand the
phenomenon?

Vampires are so hot in popular culture because they represent eternal youth, sensuality, and power. All of these these things are appealing to american youth. Vampires are also appealing because they are different in a special way. Semiotics can help us to understand this phenomenon in a historical and cultural context. It helps us see why on old eastern european myth is relevant today.

David Fulton
09/05/2013 3:44pm



09/02/2013 3:37pm



The author as something that carries meaning such as the vampire phenomena describes a sign. As used in the text, the difference between a bloodthirsty demons and a vampires that have feelings and love. Meaning in the past, most stories about vampires were full of blood and perhaps horror, unlike in this present day where most of our vampire stories bleed love.
Folk culture is a culture of its own. A culture of creativity. A culture that focused on more social gatherings such as festivals, something a little more traditional. Mass culture is almost the same. Both folk culture and Mass culture are related to popular culture. They use parts of folk culture (folk art, folk music) all entertainment overtime to catch the mass people.
The semiotic method can be used to analyze popular culture by looking at the signs that are shown daily. For instance, how in today’s time commercials about contraceptives are becoming more popular. In a comedic sense, the new commercial that’s out about Trojans Ecstasy condoms. Of course they don’t actually show the women’s breast, instead they place to large lollipops in the front to make the commercial child friendly. Even if the child doesn’t know the commercial is about. The advantages that semiotic method has over discussing individual pop culture are being able to look at all signs and analyze the differences between them. Vampires are so hot in popular culture because in lot of ways the vampire stories that are being depicted have a lot in common with our everyday life. Such as vampires falling in love, them actually having emotions and how they deal with the everyday things that us humans come across.


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    Prof. David Fulton

    I received my MA in English from CSU, Northridge and his .MFA in Creative Writing from CSU, Long Beach. I have  been teaching College English since 2004.. I am a published poet and was recently a Pushcart Prize finalist for my poem "Hubris" In addition to teaching,, I enjoy cooking, figuring out how to garden, going to the gym, researching Shakespeare, and watching MMA. 

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