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Hi all!  Welcome to the first  (graded) blog response assignment of the semester.  It is for the "Introduction" (1 - 22) ofSigns of Life.   

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,hand-written notebook page tend to be more complete. (That’s 75% per question. 



All blog responses must be posted before the next class session. After which, the comments section will be locked. 


• How do the authors define “sign” and “signifier” and how do these concepts relate to a study of popular culture?
• What are “folk” culture and “mass culture” and how do they relate to “popular culture?”
• 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?
• Why are vampires so “hot” in our popular culture? How can semiotics help us understand the
phenomenon?



(ABOVE:  Woody Guthrie;  BELOW: Contemporary American Folk Band playing traditional folk instruments
(ABOVE): Lou Diamond Phillips pretending to perform Los Lobos covering Ritchie Valen's "La Bamba" (a version that itself is version of a traditional Mexican folk song)  


(BELOW): Traditional Mexican Folk Musicians Los Cojolites performing "La Bamba" in the traditional style (note the length!) 
 


S. Ashli Lilly
09/01/2013 4:41pm

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.

Prof. Fulton
09/02/2013 1:15pm

Hi Ashli! Good insights. You have a grasp of the "sign" and "signifier" relationship.. This will be important for future projects in class.

Genesis Zavala
09/01/2013 9:19pm

The authors define “sign” and “signifier”’ as a shift, “a profound change in American consciousness marked by the difference” in entertainment values. It is highly relatable to the study of popular culture since there are always changes in the entertainment industry; there is a long history of popular culture that we can learn about, and a future still awaits where popular culture will stand.
Folk culture epitomizes the creativity and expression expressed by the masses in a form of self-entertainment, with no thought of profit in mind— made by themselves, for themselves. Mass cultures are by some means, controlled or entertained by industries concentrated in specific locations, thereby adhering to and maintaining a capitalist America. Folk and mass culture has swiftly entwined and in time has evolved into popular culture. Both cultures are taken in respect and so that folk and violent entertainment are still used, a more commercialized and corporate take has ensued to provide entertainment to a mass, diverse audience.
The semiotic method can be used to get the most fixed understanding of a product of personality in popular culture, knowing how to differentiate signs to comprehend their meaning, and then associate that meaning within the same system it belongs to, and so on. This method helps us see the underlying truth in popular culture and the cultural significance it sustains in our capitalist, consumer industry. It makes us look deeply into what popular culture really is, rather than just looking at it as a mere product or celebrity, it makes us ask ourselves what it represents, whom it is attempting to engage and why certain styles and so on are used to convey their message to the masses.
It is the whole and warped notion of sex appeal, heroes, gods, romanticism, social identity and immortality that makes the sparkling Twilight vampires a phenomenon. The target is the youth culture who seem to obsess with the idea of everlasting beauty, the youth who view the erotic entities in these books and movies with supreme aesthetic interest, and the youth who feel the need to break away from mundane routines and the reality of their lives. But, mostly— coming down to a fundamental knowledge of Freudian psychology, it’s mostly about sex.

Prof. Fulton
09/02/2013 1:18pm

Hi Genesis - I think you need to go back and review how "sign" and "signifier" are defined by the authors. There is a glossary in the back of the book which may be helpful as well.

Think of the "sign" as the thing itself, whereas a "signifier" is what that sign means.

09/01/2013 11:29pm

Blog Response 1
How do the authors define “sign” and “signifier” and how do these concepts relate to a study of popular culture?
The authors define sign as something that has a meaning. They define signifier as a sign of change. For example, the meaning of vampires have changed in American culture. Before they were blood thirsty demons and now they are lead roles in romantic movies or tv shows ( Solomon, 1). These concepts relate to popular culture because as years pass by the meaning of the signs will change and we will find different meanings to different things.
• What are “folk” culture and “mass culture” and how do they relate to “popular culture?”
Folk culture is self produce music, art, stories, or any component of culture; in other words people expressing their beliefs, experiences, and using their creativity to create things with no trained skills for the people by the people. Mass culture are ideas or values that develop from broadcasted or mainstream music, art, and media. These terms relate to popular culture because folk culture is still around and some artist like the Mumford and Sons use similar folk instruments to combine and make music that is a part of popular culture. Mass culture is relevant because with the rise of technology more and more people are forgetting of traditional ways to interact with society.

• 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?
The semiotic method can be used to analyze popular culture because it allows us to break down a sign and find the meaning. If I want to find the meaning of vampires, I can decode what vampires are and analyze to find its meaning. The advantage that the semiotic method has is that if you decode a sign thoroughly you can find meanings that are not obvious and that are hidden. For example the book uses the movie AVATAR, the authors say that this movie is politically controversial ( Solomon 11). But the only way to have figured that out was to deeply analyze and decode the movie.
• Why are vampires so “hot” in our popular culture? How can semiotics help us understand the
phenomenon?
The reason why vampires are so hot because they are erotic and they express a feeling to people. In the reading it said, “ If nothing else, the vampire is about sex, and so is much of American pop culture.” in other words vampires are so hot because the media has exposed them as exotic, and immortal. Semiotics helps us because it breaks down every single movie, tv show, or anything related with vampires. Then there will se see that vampires are just another sex symbol to the American society.

Vahan Khachatryan
09/02/2013 10:24am

The way we perceive things has been dramatically changed over the last few decades. And the question is, how do our perceptions define our reality and what causes us to comprehend things the way we do. It is beyond the obvious that every phenomenon has it sense and meaning and how we look at things predetermine the popular culture tendencies. For instance, our attitude towards cyber-shopping was not as straightforward as it is now. During the late 1990s, for example, the dot.com boom, WebVan, a grocery delivery service, provoke ambiguous interpretations. At that period, e-commerce was not considered something comfortable that is designed to ease people’s shopping experiences. It is partly because customers were not yet ready to replace traditional grocery shopping in favor of cyber-shopping. This is a remarkable sing of change in people’s perception.
Traditionally, we can state that the “folk” was considered the art of amateurs. The technological breakthrough made folk culture the culture of the masses. Popular culture is a result of commercialization of folk culture through the technological breakthrough. The interesting part comes when we analyze these tendencies in the context of the role of “high “culture. The question I want to ask is that why does not Internet or television have any influence on opera or theatre in terms of popularizing them despite the fact that “high” culture is affordable for everyone compared to the ancient time. That is the question that is left unanswered.
The role of semiotic method is to see what is beyond the obvious. Its main mission consists of analyzing the signs in terms of what they are symbolizing and guides them to what they indirectly suggest. In other words, it is the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation. That is how the political or cultural significance of a sign could be revealed. For instance, vampires are no longer considered monsters. They are never getting older; they act as heroes in movies and books. They are considered “”hot” because of the extraordinaire powers they possess.

Prof. Fulton
09/02/2013 1:43pm

Good overview, however I am not seeing an explicit definition of "sign" and "signfier" which are important concepts to understand in this context. Be sure to review the chapter and check the glossary at the end of book.

Vahan Khachatryan
09/02/2013 10:28am

The way we perceive things has been dramatically changed over the last few decades. And the question is, how do our perceptions define our reality and what causes us to comprehend things the way we do. It is beyond the obvious that every phenomenon has it sense and meaning and how we look at things predetermine the popular culture tendencies. For instance, our attitude towards cyber-shopping was not as straightforward as it is now. During the late 1990s, for example, the dot.com boom, WebVan, a grocery delivery service, provoke ambiguous interpretations. At that period, e-commerce was not considered something comfortable that is designed to ease people’s shopping experiences. It is partly because customers were not yet ready to replace traditional grocery shopping in favor of cyber-shopping. This is a remarkable sing of change in people’s perception.
Traditionally, we can state that the “folk” was considered the art of amateurs. The technological breakthrough made folk culture the culture of the masses. Popular culture is a result of commercialization of folk culture through the technological breakthrough. The interesting part comes when we analyze these tendencies in the context of the role of “high “culture. The question I want to ask is that why does not Internet or television have any influence on opera or theatre in terms of popularizing them despite the fact that “high” culture is affordable for everyone compared to the ancient time. That is the question that is left unanswered.
The role of semiotic method is to see what is beyond the obvious. Its main mission consists of analyzing the signs in terms of what they are symbolizing and guides them to what they indirectly suggest. In other words, it is the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation. That is how the political or cultural significance of a sign could be revealed. For instance, vampires are no longer considered monsters. They are never getting older; they act as heroes in movies and books. They are considered “”hot” because of the extraordinaire powers they possess.

David Figueroa
09/02/2013 3:23pm

According to the authors a sign is anything that carries a meaning. Typically a signifier is something that conveys to its interpreter a direct meaning, as well as an implied message. The meaning of signs are usually determined by the codes or systems of which they appear to be within. The sign is any physical, palpable and observed representation of a sign such as an advertisement or television show. The sign and signifier are constantly being used in our pop culture today. We are bombarded with advertisements, celebrity scandals and the promotion of political ideologies. Having the ability to recognize and interpret the signs in pop culture allows us to understand more about ourselves. We can become aware of why we purchase certain products over others and why corporations choose to use certain symbols, to build a for profit social construct. Basically, by asking questions about what a sign means, we can come to our own conclusions of what our government and corporations are trying to actually sell us. A deodorant stick advertisement means to most people that you will smell good, at the same time the underlying message is if you do not use deodorant you will smell bad. Fear, sex, power and freedom are used as signifiers every day, typically they are the implied message and not the upfront meaning of the sign.

Folk culture consists of ideas, art and entertainment promulgated among its local community and towns. Neighbors would gather to sing songs, dance and eat local foods. Traditions were shared by word of mouth, they were a people based community which shared old time values and principles. A mass culture provided centralized distribution centers for art, entertainment and ideas. Instead of learning from your grandfather how to build a guitar, tune it and make your own music, a corporate culture developed providing professional music by purchasing a record or simply turning on the radio. Mass culture consists of a few locations across the country that provide major cities with music or entertainment. Society’s folk culture shifted from a do it yourself mentality to a hive mind mentality. Pop culture is essentially now a mass culture because we receive most of our information from centralized corporate or government sources. While the folk culture can use technology such as the internet to promote its entertainment today, more often than not, most people tend to go with the mainstream. In many cases, folk culture became pop culture because of the shift to a for-profit industry and a centralized distribution source of media. What a better way to do away with individualism and promote a group affinity, while keeping the masses in check. It is all about the money and power!

The semiotic method can be utilized to analyze popular culture by asking questions about the sign. The signs lead us to ask questions about its underlying meaning. We then can steer our focus to the system of which the sign belongs to and search for similar signs that support our initial hypothesis. Because everything is connected, one sign leads to another and another until you see the big picture and how these signs affect the mass culture. The advantage this system provides us is a way to build a case for a particular sign or set of signs. It provides us with a method to show the validity of our argument as opposed to merely speculating or providing ones opinion on a matter. It gives us a way to build a structured argument with accompanying evidence examples to help in persuading our audience. Giving opinions or simply discussing pop culture items are not as successful as providing a structured argument through semiotics.

Vampires are so hot in our pop culture because they represent immortality, youth and a sense of individuality. In a mortal world filled with new emerging diseases, the sense of belonging to a tribe or hive and the constant threat of growing old and wrinkly, the vampire represents the opposite. The vampire also represents an outlaw hero and eroticism. Our culture is filled with movies and stories of a sexy outlaw hero that saves the day because he disobeyed authority. That is essentially what most signs signify in the media today, rebelling is sexy. This is a signifier of why men and women want a bad boy or bad girl partner, now more than ever. The problem here is, the bad boy/girl partner does not stop being bad, then cheats on their partner and slashes their tires. Leaving the person on the receiving end confused because the television portrayed the bad boy as a good person. Semiotics helps us see how the new vampire of today is so popular. We see the increase of vampire movies and products. We also see the same with zombies. Their popularity has increased. The signs we see via the semiotic method are the movies, action figures, books and general vampire products. We see the signifiers of the new vampire that give you the upfront message which is a blood sucking monster of the night and then the underly

Prof.Fulton
09/02/2013 6:26pm

Excellent responses, David. Terrific coverage of the main concepts, especially your comprehension of the sign/signifier relationship. An important concept. Likewise, you have clearly absorbed the "folk", "mass," and "popular" culture transitions. Nice work!

Albert Virgen
09/04/2013 11:09pm

Very nice! Awesome points given and very detailed. Cheers!

09/02/2013 3:54pm

The author defines “sign” as something, anything that carries meaning (Solomon, 1) and what it could mean to us, either a good or bad omen. A “signifier” is define as profound change in American consciousness; a change in the sign. I can say back in the 1960s, for example, a Volkswagen beetle was considered a sign of freewheeling lifestyle of the youth counterculture in that era and now, a Volkswagen beetle is consider a fashionable car favored by younger women. Recently, Volkswagen beetle is coming back with a new “signifier” with its masculine beetles for men. These concepts relate to a study of popular culture because as Americans, we study all the different changes in society in our country.

“Folk culture” expresses experience and creativity in art, music, food, by amateurs. In Folk culture, people create entertainment for themselves. “Mass culture” is more for-profit industry with passive consumers paying for their entertainment (music, art, HBO, Showtimes,) and usage of radio and internet. Mass culture is base on what technology have offer us. These two cultures relate to popular culture by giving us an option of what we prefer to be entertain by because keeping up with whatever we enjoy, show signs to people what we are into.

One way to analyze popular culture is semiotic method. It’s way to understand and decode items in today’s world. We find meaning in certain signs, artist, a movie character, and try to find out a deeply definition on it. The advantages semiotic method has is the individual opinions people have on a certain signs. For example, taking James Cameron’s “Avatar”, certain people see the similar to Kevin Costner western “Dance with Wolves.” Others may go deeper, some liberals complained about its choice of a white male as a the heroic leader of a nonwhite people who, presumably, couldn’t get along without him (Solomon, 1).

Vampires were introduced as evil monsters. Now, vampires are being use as sympathetic and sexy creatures that people love to see. Using semiotic method, we decode that in recent movies vampires can be the hero in someones fantasy. Being immortal, beautiful, invincible and having an option of whether to be wicked or not, gives us a escape of reality in this world. Also, vampires are now look as erotic images and as Americans, that is what catches our attention most of the time.

Prof. Fulton
09/02/2013 6:28pm

Nice overview. You clearly demonstrate that you have absorbed the major concepts at work here, especially the sign/signifier relationship. I appreciate how you looked beneath the surface of the modern vampire mythos, too.

Daniel Figueroa
09/02/2013 6:08pm

According to the author, a sign is any particular thing, or form of behavior that has a certain meaning to it. It is a way to make us the consumer associate certain things when we see a sign. For instance if you see a man walking down the street and he has a green Mohawk or any color Mohawk for that matter and a leather jacket, tattoos, throw in some piercings as well and you will naturally think about or associate him with rock music or maybe heavy metal. That is his sign, his identity. If you like that music you might just stop by a local store and purchase a rock or metal cd. That sign helped influence a decision in you, just as the media often does. A signifier has to do with numerous cultural signals. In this reading the author uses an example of a woman’s role in today’s society. Today’s woman is sexy and should be loved by a powerful man. This helps explain the popularity of the Twilight series. This movie series is a signifier. These concepts help relate to popular culture because there are signs and signifiers everywhere. From the moment we wake up right up to when it’s time to go to bed we are bombarded by signs and signifiers. It has become such a part of the norm for us that we may not even see these signs. Focusing on those two concepts will help us “see” things more clearly and help us have a better understanding of popular culture.

Folk culture consists of a group of people that express their ideas and creativity through folk music, folk art, and festivals. Folk culture is considered a form of high culture. Mass culture started as we had a boom in population growth leading to mass societies. The vehicle for the propaganda of mass culture includes radio, television, internet, and major motion pictures. Behind mass culture are large corporations with the sole interest of making a profit off the people. Popular culture overlaps modern day folk culture. Folk culture is not as big as it once was but it still exists. Mass culture is huge and everywhere. Together they form what we know as popular culture.

The semiotic method is useful in the study of popular culture because we are looking at the signs and trying to interpret what the meaning or in some cases hidden meaning of the sign is. Having a discussion on popular culture can be a good thing, however when you incorporate the semiotic method as opposed to merely discussing it, you are actually seeking an answer to the sign. This method helps you interpret and investigate what you are looking at when you see these signs in popular culture.

Vampires appear to now be a huge popular trend. It is odd because growing up vampires were seen as evil blood sucking monsters who were not easily killed and had nothing but bad intentions. Fast forward to the present and now many people want to be a vampire it seems. People seem to associate with the character and the characters traits. In the case of a vampire he is immortal he doesn’t die. Who doesn’t want to live forever right? Then again the way this world is going there might be some people that would disagree. A vampire doesn’t get old he is ageless. Imagine living your golden years looking like you’re still in high school! Those are good traits or desirable traits that have been given to the modern day vampire. This in turn makes people see the vampire as “hot”. As a matter of fact I’m wishing I was a vampire right know, that’s how we are programmed by popular culture. Semiotics can helps us have a more clear understanding of this in the sense that we are seeking the truth behind the signs and we can see what it is that drives the masses and the corporations to give these signs to us the people.


arturovrios
09/03/2013 3:58pm

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 .

Edith Perez
09/02/2013 6:31pm

The term "sign" is define as something or anything that carries a message. In other words to show or demonstrate the connection behind anything or something such as an action or an object. The way the term "signifier" is defined is as an understanding or interpretation of what something is trying to tell us such as what the sign means. The way these two concepts can relate to a study of popular culture is that it helps to get a better understanding of how things are rising and becoming on the demand by the consumers.

"Folk culture" is activities or events created by a small culture. The purpose of these activities or events that are put together by the culture community is to bring them together as one and be be able to interact among themselves. Another reason is to share tradition such as music and art that has been passed down from generation to generation. "Mass culture" is a mass society created by technology, entertainment, and media. Folk and mass culture can relate to the pop culture because it all started from some where and as time went by both had to to do one with the other.

Semiotic method presents arguments supported well by evidence. It's also the study of signs and decoding what they mean. The way semiotic method can be used to analyze the pop culture is by keeping track of what is in high demand such as what people have bought or why certain things are catching people's attention. Understanding the sellers advertisement is an advantage to using the semiotic method.

Vampires are hot and have become popular because of the new way they have been introduced and made into. For example they have made them attractive and not such ugly vicious creatures. The adrenaline that they have and the excitement they bring to the fans. They have been created in a whole new sexy and interesting way. The way semiotic helps us understand the phenomenon is by the way they have presented them and the symbol they represent and such excitement they bring. It also represents some sort of sex appeal which as we are all aware is very popular at the moment and catches people's attention.

Jeobana Gutierrez
09/02/2013 7:05pm

The authors define “sign” as anything that portrays a meaning. For example, images, words, acts, or objects. All of these are examples of signs that carry a specific meaning. A “signifier” is the form from which a sign takes. For instance, the change that America has made with the vampire story. Before, vampires were portrayed as a bloodthirsty demon that everyone was scared of. Today vampire stories have taken a different form in America’s society. Vampires are seen as very entertaining, attractive heroes and have been related with teen school narratives and with romance fiction. These concepts help us understand and think critically about a certain subject. In these case the study of popular culture. These terms help us understand, identify a sign, be able to interpret them and to think about the new trends in society; what makes certain things so entertaining, why is it popular and so on.
Folk culture is a part of the low culture of the masses. It is what we know now as “popular culture”. Folk culture expressed the experience and creativity of the masses in form of ballads, agricultural festivals, fairytales, feasts, folk art, folk music, and so on. Folk culture in other words is self produced performances or a do-it-yourself activity. For example a small gathering of people on a humble front porch playing their instruments such as guitars, banjos and so on to perform among each others for their own entertainment to have fun. It was primarily focused on performing songs that have been passed on from generations to generations. Mass culture is a subset of popular culture that includes the popular entrainments that are commercially produced for widespread consumption. They relate to popular culture because popular culture is a commercialized culture, that include elements of both folk and vulgar traditions. That aims entertainment to a mass audience. The popular culture has transformed the low culture of the past into contemporary popular culture that came as a result of the industrial revolution.
The semiotic method consists of interpretation sign systems. The semiotic method helps us analyze the popular culture by helping us interpret a sign as a message to be decoded and analyzed to discover its meaning. It help us analyze the cultural significance of every aspect that forms the popular culture. It can help us analyze a movie, TV show or a book for example. In other word it help us understand and view popular culture signs in a different way and to discover the real meaning of the aspects of popular culture. Overall, the semiotic method help us analyze the role of signs as part of our social life. One of the advantages is that it help us discover the real meaning of something. It help us analyze and discover what the real message of the popular culture media is trying to give us behind the commercials, new trends, movies, books, t.v shows, music, etc. It help us understand why certain subjects are in trend and so entertaining for the public eye.
Vampires are “hot” in the popular culture because vampire stories have a long history that has been known of since the medieval years. There are many legends and historic figures that make vampire stories so famous and entertaining for the public. Vampires are also seen as ”hot” because the media has given it a turn making them not look like scary monsters but as good looking type of heroes, romantic, immortal and “hot making them look cool for the public”. Semiotics help us understand why vampire stories are so appealing and entertaining. It help us understand why so many people find vampires “hot”. They also help us identify how media use semiotic methods to make vampires more appealing for American culture with movies, books, action figures and other type of advertisings.

09/02/2013 8:47pm

The authors define “sign” as the wholesome meaning of a term to which they intend to make a statement of their insights. And as the sign is published, the “signifier” points out the vivid fact of their insights. For instance, one can point at the stop sign and repeatedly tell everyone to stop and obey such sign for it will be dangerous if disobeyed. However, one teen driver decides to purposely drive across the street without the intended stop and later finds himself a ticket form the police. The ticket serves as a signifier in which the teen is given because he disobeyed the stop sign and its consequences. These concepts relate to the study of pop culture by showing the conservative side of what we have kept since day one with all of these rules and how liberal they can become over the course of each year or even so decade.

Everyone in the world has some type of “folk culture” in them whether it is telling stories or composing and singing songs. As for “mass culture” it is like a blowfish, it is the category of production in which all underground songs, dances, and any form of art is blown around the world. Furthermore, the useful distinction of folk culture is that of a new song brought to the “mass culture” of mainstream radio and then put into hands of the consumers, when a song played on the radio becomes so much associated with a particularly romantic evening that two young lovers decides to call it "our song,” later becoming the pop culture of today.

The “semiotic method” is the science of meaning by which it allows us to navigate and design meaning. By furthering the anticipation of how the “semiotic method” is used to analyze popular culture is to know why certain things are what they are. For example, why is the Volkswagen familiarized as a feminine vehicle? Or why do we stop for a red light or go for a green light. All of this takes on history back when it was established. Consciously we know the language from heart but the truth is behind a code that deciphers the real reason for why we have rules in every detail of life. So now the popular culture that is being witnessed is from the way we catch detail so quickly on television sitcoms or manly/ feminine cars throughout its birth and recognition along its years.

Who said vampires were “hot” back in the 1800’s? Correct, no one. As decades flew, by the 2000’s we started getting erotic looking and surprisingly very human like vampires that looked nothing from scary or evil, blood sucking creatures. Evidently, millions of young teens wanted to get sucked into the “Twilight” saga euphoria. No longer were vampires scary but brilliant, strong, and beautiful humans of immortal life. The semiotic method here is that vampires back then were pale, ugly, and disturbing. This meaning is given to vampires. Amazingly, the rational tiny change of sexy and heroic thrown into the vampire category evokes such powerful emotions when the semiotic meaning is given a new thought. That is how the new designated meaning is given a twist and run for its old recognition of evil.

09/02/2013 9:17pm

http://keennina.weebly.com/1/post/2013/09/introduction.html

I accidentally posted this as a blog, hopefully that is ok! If not, I will repost it in the comments.

Kelly S. Hidalgo
09/02/2013 9:41pm

In the introduction to Signs of Life the author defines “sign” as anything that carries a meaning. The term “signifier” is defined as the explanation of the sign, the reason for it and why it exists. For example, a 35-year old woman may want to update her hairstyle as a means of showing herself, family and friends that she is young and hip. To achieve this she can look to popular culture for a sign. The sign can easily be the hairstyle of a young actress who is always ahead of the fashion curve. To all who see her this hairstyle will signify that she is a woman attuned to popular culture. When we analyze such signs and signifiers in American pop-culture we then have a clearer understanding of our society and its values.


Folk culture is culture of the people. Over 200 years ago this was the median to express one’s creativity. It was produced as ballads, fairy tales, feasts, folk art and folk music. There was no way to get fast and cheap professional recordings of your favorite tunes. So you had no choice but to make your own. Picture a group of people sitting on the front porch of their home playing homemade instruments and singing songs passed on to them from generation to generation.


Mass culture was created when the industrial revolution drove people from their agricultural settlements to cities where the were certain to find employment. Here they formed new populations concentrated in urban centers that lead to mass societies. Now as people were centralized, it was far easier to reach these groups with media that they otherwise wouldn’t have access on a faraway farm in the middle of nowhere.


As these new populations formed it evolved into a corporate rather than communal society. Popular culture had its breeding ground to reach larger groups of people with all of its latest and greatest products.


The semiotic method can be used to analyze popular culture by decoding its signs. The semiotic method is an in-depth science relating to signs and signifiers. It does not take anything at face value but rather, unlocks the meaning behind it all. The advantages to using the semiotic method are that you will then have a greater understanding of what is meant to be communicated, what is the concept and the information that was meant to be conveyed.


As humans, typically, we are a beings of routine and schedules. The life of Americans is tiring and hectic. On the daily, we fight traffic jams and wrinkles. It’s no wonder the popularity of vampires is apparent in todays culture. They are everywhere we look, in novels, movies, and tv shows.

The semiotics can help us to understand this phenomenon. The thrill and excitement of a vampire lies in their nightlife, never needing to sleep, never getting tired, their grace, as well, they are beautiful and ageless. When compared to our own lives, the fantasy of being a vampire grows ever more romantic.

Monserat Cabrera
09/02/2013 10:08pm

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.

Aaron Yim
09/02/2013 10:38pm

1. A sign is something that implies a meaning. A signifier is a shift in the American consciousness or a change in the sign or meaning of something. These concepts relate to a study of popular culture because popular culture relates to a change and adoption of a new idea or trend.

2. Folk culture relates to ballads, agricultural festivals, fairy tales, feasts, folk art, and folk music that are passed down from generations. On the other hand, mass culture is governed by large entertainment industries that develop cinemas, films, and TV shows. These appeal to the public masses in wide geographical spreads. Folk culture and mass culture relate to popular culture in general because they are forms of cultural means in which they connect people to one another.

3. The semiotic method can be used to analyze popular culture by the act of decoding implied meanings to a cultural topic beyond its physical or obvious appearance. When we discuss the individual pop culture expression as unique or discrete, we are limiting its identity to simply being different from something else. However, when we use the semiotic method, we are giving it a more important meaning behind the expression and decoding its implications.

4. In the contemporary world, vampires are considered "hot" because they have many characteristics that are appealing to the mass. Vampires are ageless and immortal whose existence is fantasy-like. Modern vampires are not really considered as an evil monster because they are seen more like a protector and a hero who are romantic, sexy, sympathetic, and even cool. Semiotics can help us understand this ideal by allowing us to view vampires beyond their obvious physical scary image. Semiotics allows us to decode and see the hidden aspects of a vampire to make us better relate to their image.

Steve Reyes
09/02/2013 10:56pm


1. Signs and signifiers are shown as tools to explain and show how each affects the masses and its culture. The author explains how the masses are, in a way, guided by those placed on cultural pedestals.
The American society is a consumer based economy that is ruled by the media, or so to speak. The media or entertainment industries create signs to sell their product, entertainment. Information or a message that is imprinted into our minds so that it molds society is a sign. To look at a logo and immediately know a story or know the information held by it would be a signifier. Popular culture is always changing by fashion, slang, and nature of people, but those changes are driven by the consumer value of the signs offered.
Understanding the signifiers or changes in society means studying and understanding the signs (messages) of that current culture. To understand the signs they must be looked at on the surface and what they offer in political value. Sign offer more than just information on the current fad, they offer insight on how the signs change the popular culture; signs are taken into account for the message and statement they offer the public. A consumer society is driven by purchase, so because of this signs are absolutely crucial to keep a consumer society running. The signs offer a form to drive purchases by the public. The popular culture by those mean is molded by the signs that cause purchases.
Purchases are made because of signs, but those signs need someone or something to carry them so they can be successful tools in capitalism. It doesn’t matter who or what makes the symbols that we know. Regardless of who or what, what is essential is that the position be filled, and once the position is filled the sign can be used as an instrument of business. Messages have been imprinted into our minds and ultimately determine our identity, so by essence a consumer driven economy thrives on signs that shape the buyer.
2. Popular culture is a mix of both mass culture and folk culture; folk culture is when people of a rural area make the entertainment they take pleasure in, and mass culture is when entertainment is supplied by the media. Folk culture is one that provides entertainment by means of learning or creating something of entertainment, and this can be a variety of things like writing songs, creating plays, or learning to whittle. On the other hand there is mass culture which provides what folk culture offers through systems of communications and way of purchase.
Each contributes to popular culture. Folk has not been lost but simply been implemented into mass culture to create popular culture. What mass culture offers folk culture is the ability to travel. Otherwise folk culture would remain in the region or town in which a certain skill or form of entertainment was born.
Each offers in the making of popular culture; folk culture gives a form of entertainment and mass culture offers is it, well, to the masses. Popular culture is the byproduct of monopolizing folk culture. Popular culture is one that drives the masses it is only natural that folk culture was the one that bred popular culture.
Together they are the foundation for popular culture, and they drive popular culture to expand. Folk culture is no longer just a culture of townsfolk, but has become a skill that is born and kept within a select few until it is promoted by mass culture and reached the popular culture. This creates an effect on the society and changes the politics of the culture. Creations like the television, radio, and most of all the internet have had a great impact on how fast the culture is informed of new fads. This has had a great deal on what folk culture has become, and although many believe folk culture to be dwindling because of urban areas being populated, it has been integrated into what is now the popular culture. The folk culture that was known has changed and is being placed in the mass culture. This creates new forms of folk culture for the society.
3. Analyzing popular culture can be done in various ways, but popular culture is something that has to be analyzed in way to take into account the signs and how they affect the public in which they reside. One strong method to analyze popular culture is the semiotic method. This method works by creating hypothesis as to how and why the society is molded by the media and the signs it brings to the public.
It differs from sociology, which takes examples and statistical data to make a concrete conclusion from the data. Semiology works by taking the surface meaning of a sign and looking further into the political message behind the sign. Looking at the signifiers one can use the semiotic method and look for patterns that best fit the scenario occurring in the current popular culture.
The advantages to the semiotic method over just discussing the topic of popular culture are that in the semiotic method personal opinion is not taken into account. Normal

09/02/2013 11:36pm

Cindy Argueta
Eng 101

In Signs of Life in The U.S.A: Popular Culture, the authors state how the vampire world is changing. They state that today's vampires are different than the vampires we used to see back in the day. Vampires are not evil creatures anymore but romantic, or heroic vampires. What they mean by sign and signifier is that these signs of change is a signifier of today's popular culture because we the people will eventually idolize whats popular and this new trend of romantic, sexy vampires will last for a while. We will expect more vampires movies or shows like what we have today then what we used to watch before basically because that is what is popular. Folk culture is the way people express themselves emotionally. Examples of how people have used this is by ballads, fairy tales, folk art, and folk music. Mass culture is anything that is captured by the media. The reason why folk culture and mass culture is related to popular culture is because without the popular culture folk culture and mass culture would not exist. In order to be noticed the folk culture needs the media in order for their music, or art to be noticed. In order to get noticed we the consumers have to rely on the media to get information on what's good or new. The semiotic method is basically a method that helps analyze popular culture. It is important because we get to analyze more the reasons behind an action. We get to look deeper into the matter. This helps the popular culture because we will get to see things in a deeper in a different way. Basically for everything we will ask why? The reason why vampires are so hot is because the mass culture made them popular. The media has turned scary vampires into romantic, sexy vampires. Movies and T.V Shows made these characters into normal humans that live ordinary lives just like we do. In a way we feel like we live in their shoes. The first step to conducting a semiotic analysis is "to build a system of related signs." We have to ask ourselves why vampires have become so popular and how does this relate to popular culture. We will have to use critical thinking skills in order to analyze the vampire craze in today's popular culture.

Nancy Jimenez
09/02/2013 11:55pm

In the introduction to the "Signs of Life in the USA" the author describes the meaning of a "sign" which is anything that has a meaning. A signifier gives the viewer or interpreter the meaning or sends a direct message. The sign can be seen such as a television show or an advertisement. On a daily basis we use signs ands signifiers which define todays pop culture. As the authors discussed in this introduction we are bombarded with advertisements that pretty much mold and shape our thoughts of what this new pop culture is. We build ideas of what and how we should be by defining the meaning advertisements show us. For example using make up as often seen everywhere like television and ads, it portrays women as beautiful and natural if used. Therefore we automatically think that not using make up will make us look ordinary and ugly. These are signs and signifiers that are implied to our daily life.

The meaning of folk culture also discussed by this author is the folk people back in the days that provided and created themselves with their own entertainment, art and culture; by gathering as a group to make their own music and shows. Mass Culture pretty much is a small number of cultures entertained by industries concentrated only in a few dispersed locations.

By asking questions about the sign we are analyzing pop culture and using what we call the "semiotic method." using this method means questioning one sign to another leading us to join ideas together and build our own idea of what something really means or what it is trying to day.

In todays pop culture vampires seem to be all young teens are raving about. I think they have become so "hot" in todays culture because it is a love story and fantasy any young girl dreams of having. They also represent immortality and that is what any one dreams of becoming in this mortal world. The semiotic method helps us understand that the new form of this vampire presented to us is not someone we should fear, but on the contrary it is someone we should admire because such a once "scary" creature can now be a hero which gives a new meaning to what a vampire really is.

Stephanie
09/03/2013 12:19am

Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols, their usage or interpretation. As a structuralist, Sassure depicts ‘sign’ as consisting of two parts: the ‘concept’ and the sound image.’ The example provided: a “red light,” would be described as the ‘sound image’ that correlates with the ‘concept’ “stop.” ‘Signs’ associate a word with an idea or thing. What differentiates Pierce’s analysis of the linguistic sign is that “signs are situated not only in systems or codes but also within history (Solomon 10).” Pierce elaborates the relationship of signs through history because each time period has different interpretations or meaning to signs, resulting in the importance of the context in which the sign is analyzed. Barthes analysis of the linguistic sign incorporates a political meaning, distinguishing him from the other theorists’. Barthes specifies: “all social behavior is political in the sense that it reflects some subjective or group interest (10).” Although the correlation between both signifier and signified is identifiable it is arbitrary, meaning that there is no intrinsic relation between a specific sound image or concept.
The combination of signifier and signified can be witnessed and experienced in our everyday life. Constant advertisements possess logos, a ‘sound image’ to a ‘concept’, which may be a popular brand such as Starbucks or Nike. Without logos, franchises and companies would be unable to thrive because there would be a failure of identification, a ‘sound image,’ of their company for the public. Signs have effectively benefited the growth and expansion or products in our society.
Although not explicitly identified, semiotics can be used to create larger “systems” of “related phenomena” such as the example of vampires. Contemporary vampires demonstrate a drastic shift of characteristics when compared to those from the medieval times. Described as “romantic, sexy, [and] sympathetic,” the modern vampire has evolved to become a commodity for the public’s fixation with eroticism (14). Vampires as a ‘sound image’ is a monstrous creation who preys on human blood, yet our society has converted this horrendous image into an irresistible “bad boy” type that could amuse a certain audience such as young teenagers ultimately becoming profit in this consumer society.
Folk culture “express[es] the experience and creativity of the masses in the form of ballads” and other types of performances (2). Over time folk culture as decreased due to the “commercialized culture” we live in nowadays, a “for-profit culture aimed at providing entertainment to mass audience (2-3).” This low culture has evolved into a popular culture that is solely commercial based, portraying the significance mass culture has on popular culture. Without mass culture there would not have been a growth within the industry within popular culture.


09/03/2013 12:53am

The introductory chapter in the book, Signs of Life in the U.S.A., candidly explains that a “Sign” is anything that carries meaning. And a “Signifier” indicates, shows, or suggests a message. For instance, a baseball hat could be seen as a sign of someone that follows trends or likes a specific team. Now wearing that same hat with the same, or another, team’s shirt signifies that that person is also an avid sports fan. Another example of both would be a interesting fact from the popular television show, Star Trek. The show was originally aired during the 1960s, a crucial time in our society as the civil rights movements fought against segregation and for equal rights. The show’s creator Gene Roddenberry was very specific about casting various actors of different gender and nationalities to portray roles of high command or power. The sign in this setting would be the integrated actors and what’s signified is that in the future our society would eventually be accepting of all ethnicities and genders.

Folk culture was what arose from a pre-industrial time. It is a blanket term used to encapsulate the spirited sounds, and art of rural America. It existed in a time when stories, agriculture and feasts were the popular forms of entertainment. Mass culture came along with the actual industrialization of America. People that now lived in cities could buy records with their hard-earned money or listen to the radio as a form of entertainment. Corporations provided advertisements through the airwaves, and in turn people would then buy their products. Eventually industrialization was replaced by pure production and consumption of entertainment. Popular entertainment like sports, music, fashion, politics and technology are all part of popular culture. These things are all essential to a booming economy.

Interestingly the semiotic method can be used to deeper understand the meaning behind the products we consume, the films and TV programs we watch and what it says about us who like them. Being able to understand corporate and political subtext is an advantage. Analysis allows people to develop their own opinions about political subjects, which, in the end, lie under the surface of everything that is fed to us through the media. Likewise as a society, through semiotic interpretation perhaps we can translate what our popular culture says about us as a whole.


Through semiotic analysis we can break down the mass appeal to vampires in our culture. Understanding that the vampires from back when and the vampires of today are mirrors of society and popular culture is important to understanding their appeal. We live in a culture that constantly uses sex as a tool for profit. Therefore the idea of a bad boy turned hero appeals to women all over the world.

Jeannie Hurtado
09/03/2013 1:33am

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

The author define "sign" as something or anything, that carries a meaning; the author also explains how a person was never taught how to read signs and he or she automatically knows what they mean. An example the author uses is about a stop sign, it does exactly what it says, "Stop when you approach this intersection," almost every person who reads this sign knows what they must do or create the risks of getting caught disobeying the law or getting into an accident. For "signifier" it basically means a person or thing that has meaning; the authors talks about how in the traditional gender codes females should be concern of attracting and holding onto a male also being beautiful, getting marry and having children, while in the popular culture females is to be beautiful and sexy, to love and be love by a powerful male, this shows signifier. These concepts relates to the study of popular culture because it helps learn more about what goes on in one's surrounding.

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

A folk culture is a traditional type of culture pasted down from older generations, this culture has their own group of people creating stories, music and art. A mass culture is a culture that contains more technology, the ideas in this culture are develop from broadcasting its own music, art and media to the people through the radio and televisions. both relates to the popular culture by having parts of the two culture getting mix with the popular culture, it all depends what the people want and enjoy the most.

• 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?

The semiotic method is the study of signs and symbols, for this reason using this method to analyze popular culture is a huge help in order to find more information about the popular culture. The semiotic method can be used to figure out which new or old trends are more popular among any certain group of people and the reasons why. An advantage could be gaining varies of different information from many people then having a simple discussion about the pop culture.

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

In many vampire stories and movies, vampires are well known to be immortal, magnificent, beautiful, creatures of the night as well as being deadly and powerful. In most stories, instead of running away from a vampire fearing you might just loose your life, some girls do want to get bitten since they see the whole blood-sucking sensations as a sexual manner or wanting to live forever with the person they love. Its not a surprise vampires have became so popular because of the idea of being hot and living for centuries. Semiotics can help others to understand the phenomenon by analyzing anything relating to vampires and find every details that makes them so "hot."

Monica chile
09/03/2013 1:56am

Signs are how we all communicate without speaking. We seethe color red in traffic and it is immediately taken as a sign to stop or pull over depending on the flashing lights or a red hexagons gin. "A sign is something, anything that carries a meaning." We read to be informed of everything, from reviews of movies, books, stores, and people to information of daily happenings, bad news, weather forecasts, and the latest fashion trends. We read these signs and take in te information according to our personality and upbringing. People look at different signs differently, but te majority of people follow the popular culture. Without the knowledge of it, people would be lost on how to socialize with the majority of society. We have outsiders that don't follow the popular culture and people that could care less of the information being taken in, yet they know exactly who is who in popular culture. We feel amazed when a friend or stranger hasn't read the signs we feel are important. We shout," how do you not know about t? Do you live under a rock?" We judge everyone by the signs. Good clothes, nice cars, and the education they had adds value to the person. Yet, in this day and age these signs can be read wrong. A poorly dressed person can actually be a well off educated human. Lady Gaga is famous for being strange and unusual, but she's famous and the teens love her. Every generation make their unique sign. In popular culture they are important. They are what will be recognized, talked about, seen and understood as the popular culture of the 21st century. "Folk" culture is the music and entertainment that people made on their own with friends and family. When radio and television did not exist, we made our own music and made our entertainment in the backyard. Then when radio came into, people started listening and stopped making music like before. It was easier to listen to the radio that sounded better. "Mass culture" is the main stream information and products that the mass consumes. The semiotic method is the interpretation of signs. "Every culture activity for the semiotic iam leaves a trace of meaning, a links f blip on the semiotic Richter scale that remains for us to read..." Popular culture is all about the signs and the meanings we all derive from them. The semiotic method when discussing te individual pop culture expressions as one of a kind is that it is dissecting the signs to its roots. No two words mean the same to people. Products usual buyers change to new buyers that before had no interest in it. Shows from 60 years ago were seen as normal when the women were always home an the men hard at work. Now we see it differently, the signs that people saw then are now seen differently by us who have grown with working mothers. The signs are still holding the same meaning, women should be at home. Back then it was normal, now we see it an an old way f life that we have upgradeded from. Signs are digested the same way but the outcome is different for the different generations and minds. We are given new stories where vampires are not scary or dangerous anymore. We have been shown a sexy and appealing sign of vampires. They are ageless and immortal, in our beauty and youth obsess culture it is very appealing to all. Botox and age fighting remedies are a common thing. No scandals for Botox. Vampires offer a possibility of immortality, youth, beauty, and sex. Our culture values all these with a passion. We see the signs and ways vampires have changed. They were scary, evil being that were unholy and ugly. Now it has changed, they are beautiful and the heroes of our tales. You see the value change in the signs. The signs we interpret in the popularity of vampires clarify why it has become popular. Culture puts our new values and ideas into the mass media and create the popular culture.

Michael Ferreras
09/03/2013 1:57am

The authors define “sign” as something that the general population sees in someone, something that has a straight forward meaning to it. A “signifier” is a more in depth understanding of what the sign is. The sign could be any number of things from the outfit we wear to accessories we buy to even the houses we live in. For example, if a person were to wear a plain outfit: t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, which are a sign of an average Joe in our society. If that person were to wear a custom tailored suit, that signifies more about that person such as a level of sophistication of maybe even the social class. Signs and signifiers relate to the study of popular culture in a way that we can reveal how something changes over a course of its history and how we can figure out the direction of its course.
Folk culture is basically the self-creativity and expressions of a mass of people. Mass culture is something that is created by a specific producer in a specific location for the masses. Over the years folk culture has been slowly decreased away as mass culture increased which in turn creates our popular culture because of the convenience of the mass culture. People lose their self-expression and creativity when there are simpler ways of acquiring that from someone else and using it for your own expressions, although nothing can replace our creativity.
The semiotic method basically allows us to dig beneath the surface of any given sign and find a deeper meaning to it. It would be like breaking down a computer and learning all the different components within it and understanding how it all works. We can apply this method to the popular culture because instead of simply scratching the surface of what an individual popular culture means, we can go back further to understand how it came to be in the present. For example with this method we can analyze vampires then and vampires now and have a better knowledge of the bloodthirsty creatures back then and the sparkling romantics now.
I believe vampires are so hot now because they relate and interest the average teenage girl. Every girl is interested in a hot looking guy who is also a romantic. Semiotic method can help us understand why this is by breaking down the vampire history throughout the centuries. They first were portrayed as evil shape shifting monsters. Over time it seems as if the vampires have targeted a new audience, teenage girls. No longer are vampires vicious creatures that stalk their prey at night. Now they are portrayed as an average person falling in love and being the hero we all want. The semiotic method can help with this phenomenon by understanding why the directions of vampires took a hard left instead of flying straight

Kristina Valerio
09/03/2013 7:55am

The study of popular culture has been an effective platform of studying the landscape of society in the academia. One student may think that this approach is a smart to higher learning because it expands his learning from the classroom to the hip and young "real world". It is a topic that most people understand. But in the case of the United States, such platform is discussed in a timely manner for the reason that American culture is a post-consumer culture, meaning it has been dictated by the demands of the masses at the current time.
"Popular culture" seems to be a hybrid of "folk culture" and "mass culture". Long before the invention of television & radio, people would gather as a community during fesivals to sing songs, perform folk dances and play instruments. But since the boom of Industrial Revolution, most people immigrated to urban communities because of the demand for labor. Since then folk culture has been evolved into something else since entertainment is needed, so they go to centralized areas to have a taste of gathering, but the means to produce entertainment to themselves has been passed on to that central institution and distribute it among the masses. And that form of mass distribution is evident today because of the rapid evolution of broadcast technology.
In studying popular culture at this level, the author stressed out that it is highly critical to use a method to discuss its importance in modern society; otherwise it would just seem that we are just a group of people gathered expressing our personal opinions about it. Though there is nothing wrong about expressing personal preferences, I agree with the author that what is more important in our study is WHY did we have that kind of thinking towards a certain issue in pop culture. WHY did boy bands were highly popular in the 90s and WHY is it making a comeback? WHY is McDonalds still an icon in the food industry even if there are lots of fastfood chains in the market? WHY is Justin Bieber still popular despite all of the crazy stuff he did publicly? These questions are equally interesting, and semiotic method is a crucial tool in order to discuss the topic of pop culture at this level.
To discuss a certain topic in pop culture with critical thinking, the author suggestes that we must look out for signs. A sign is anything that carries a meaning - may it be an actual thing, a person or even a phenomenon - that has been given a specific meaning in the topic of study. One example provided in the book is the purchase of BMW. The emergence of BMW in the market is a sign of the modernization of roads and the increase consumers who can afford it are finding ways to travel faster. A signifier on the other hand is the second level of meaning to that specific sign, and sometimes the connotation of that sign to some varies. So in the example with the BMW earlier, its popularity may be due to the rising young feminine population on the lookout for new cars, or it may mean the decline of the Auto Industry in the US. We do not read signs the same way in pop culture, but it is important to persuade our readers with the arguments we presented.
To better explain semiotics, the author used the phenomenon of vampires in mainstream media. Before vampires were viewed as monsters that has no feelings or connections whatsoever to humans. They are connotated to be bloodsucking mythological creatures and. But throughout the course of history, their characters in media evolved and we now see vampires as James Dean with fangs and now fitting with the trend of modern Hollywood. They are now creatures with personal identity and doesn't conform with the norm. I personally find it ironic that whatever is catering to the taste of the "rebels" in society are the ones making it in mainstream media. In this botox-filled age in Hollywood where getting old is essentially a crime, we see not just an immortal but an ageless creature. And if those criteria doesn't persuade the observers on why vampires are "so hot" these days, there's always that saying in business that "sex sells". We can see main characters basting in their lawn with their ripped bodies either trying to seduce their victim or trying to blend in as a teenager in suburban California. That argument carries the most weight since Hollywood is a consumer business after all.

Rhea Lopez
09/03/2013 8:24am

According to Sonia Maasik and Jack Soloman; the authors of the book "Signs of Life in the USA", they defined "sign" as something, anything, that carries a meaning. Words, objects, images, and forms of behavior are all signs whose meanings are determined by the particular codes or systems, in which they appear. The world of signs could be called the text of America's popular culture. A "signifier" is the form that the gin will take, whether a sound or image. We may not realize it, but in fact signs and signifiers can be applied to all sorts of human acts, including theater, dance, architecture, cinema, politics, painting, religion, history and medicine. That is we use variety of signs in everyday life to convey messages to people around us, for example; rubbing our thumb and forefinger together to dignify money. We should think of messages or texts as systems of signs like lexical, graphic, and so on, which gain their effects via constant clashes between these systems. For example, the menu we consult in a restaurant has been drawn up with reference to a structure, but this structure can be filled differently, according to time and place like breakfast, lunch, or dinner. A stop sign means exactly what it says, "Stop when you approach this intersection," "or risk getting a ticket or into an accident."
A mass culture is a subset of popular culture that includes popular entertainments that are commercially produced for widespread consumption. Folk culture expresses the experience and creativity of the masses in the form of ballads, agricultural festivals, fairytales, feasts, folk art, and folk music and so on. Folk culture is passed down from generation to generation. Both of this culture has expanded through the years from newspaper to television to smartphones. Long before technology exists, the ancient Americans did have any of these. In the early 20th century is when technology started so as the existing new cultures.
Semiotics is the study of signs. Writing analytical essays that present theses or arguments are well supported by evidence using the method of semiotics. Semioticians look at everything as a message, a sign, waiting to be decoded and analyzed. The application of semiotics to popular culture began in the 1950's with the work of Roland Barthes. Barthes was also responsible for establishing the political dimensions of semiotic analysis. Things that don't necessarily look "political," like ads, movies, or television shows are in fact political in the sense that they reflect individual and/or group ideologies. Semiotics is very useful tool to decode advertising, for both academics and those who aspire to work in the advertising industry. Semiotics is important because it can help us not to take reality for granted as something having a purely objective existence which is independent of human interpretation. It teaches us that reality is a system of signs. It helps us realize that information or meaning is not contained in the world or in books, computers or audio- visual media. Meaning we actively create it according to a complex interplay of codes or conventions of which we are normally unaware.
Pierced eyes, gelled hair, abs of steel, and chiseled cheek bones. No, I’m not talking about models. Creatures of night, fangs, skin pale white and ice cold. I am talking about the most desirable fantastical creature in today's society, Vampires. Vampires are creatures of great beauty, emotion, and romance. So what is it about vampire that is so compelling to the popular culture? Are they simply lusting after what they can't have? Eternal youth and beauty is something humans can only wish for. Eternal youth is an idea that is highly compelling to teens who feel that they never want to grow old and leave their adolescence behind. Another positive of this eternal beauty is the indestructibility of their bodies. For example, any scratch or wound will not become a scar. They are immune to any form of physical change. This is exactly what seduces teenagers into the lifestyle of vampires…they are eternally gorgeous. Our society is obsessed with anti- aging creams and ways to look younger. This obsession is not just with older people but has caught on to younger people as well. Sexual tension is a recurring theme that captures and engages the hearts of vampire culture fans. The romance associated with these TV shows, novels, and films lures and entices teenagers.

Shawn T.
09/03/2013 8:48am

The way the authors define sign is that it is any type of symbol indicating a meaning. Taking the symbols direct meaning and interrupting it into what the symbol indirectly indicates is a signifier. For example, when a person gets a haircut, it could directly indicate (sign) that this person keeps themselves well groomed. Depending on the type of style the haircut is, it could signify that that person belongs to a particular social group. These concepts relate the the study of popular culture because the signifier is the understanding between the symbols denotation.
Folk culture is a culture belonging to the people. A communal type of culture where the people who's audience are themselves entertained by each other because of their isolation from the ruling class who had the money and leisure to attain expensive performances. The "mass culture" refers to the development of a mass society. The development of a mass society was people who moved out of rural areas and concentrated in an urbanized city. With the rise of technology in these urbanized cities its was easier to sell an entertainer to the public through advertisements on the television or radio. The mass society that came from folk culture no longer produced entertainment for themselves because of the simplicity of watching or listening to a entertainer. Folk and mass culture relates to popular culture because of what was once a self produced activity is now a for-profit industry from the mass culture. It is what we now call popular culture

Shawn Tomboc
09/03/2013 8:49am

The way the authors define sign is that it is any type of symbol indicating a meaning. Taking the symbols direct meaning and interrupting it into what the symbol indirectly indicates is a signifier. For example, when a person gets a haircut, it could directly indicate (sign) that this person keeps themselves well groomed. Depending on the type of style the haircut is, it could signify that that person belongs to a particular social group. These concepts relate the the study of popular culture because the signifier is the understanding between the symbols denotation.
Folk culture is a culture belonging to the people. A communal type of culture where the people who's audience are themselves entertained by each other because of their isolation from the ruling class who had the money and leisure to attain expensive performances. The "mass culture" refers to the development of a mass society. The development of a mass society was people who moved out of rural areas and concentrated in an urbanized city. With the rise of technology in these urbanized cities its was easier to sell an entertainer to the public through advertisements on the television or radio. The mass society that came from folk culture no longer produced entertainment for themselves because of the simplicity of watching or listening to a entertainer. Folk and mass culture relates to popular culture because of what was once a self produced activity is now a for-profit industry from the mass culture. It is what we now call popular culture

09/03/2013 9:03am

The way the authors define sign is that it is any type of symbol indicating a meaning. Taking the symbols direct meaning and interrupting it into what the symbol indirectly indicates is a signifier. For example, when a person gets a haircut, it could directly indicate (sign) that this person keeps themselves well groomed. Depending on the type of style the haircut is, it could signify that that person belongs to a particular social group. These concepts relate the the study of popular culture because the signifier is the understanding between the symbols denotation.
Folk culture is a culture belonging to the people. A communal type of culture where the people who's audience are themselves entertained by each other because of their isolation from the ruling class who had the money and leisure to attain expensive performances. The "mass culture" refers to the development of a mass society. The development of a mass society was people who moved out of rural areas and concentrated in an urbanized city. With the rise of technology in these urbanized cities its was easier to sell an entertainer to the public through advertisements on the television or radio. The mass society that came from folk culture no longer produced entertainment for themselves because of the simplicity of watching or listening to a entertainer. Folk and mass culture relates to popular culture because of what was once a self produced activity is now a for-profit industry from the mass culture. It is what we now call popular culture

09/03/2013 9:03am

The way the authors define sign is that it is any type of symbol indicating a meaning. Taking the symbols direct meaning and interrupting it into what the symbol indirectly indicates is a signifier. For example, when a person gets a haircut, it could directly indicate (sign) that this person keeps themselves well groomed. Depending on the type of style the haircut is, it could signify that that person belongs to a particular social group. These concepts relate the the study of popular culture because the signifier is the understanding between the symbols denotation.
Folk culture is a culture belonging to the people. A communal type of culture where the people who's audience are themselves entertained by each other because of their isolation from the ruling class who had the money and leisure to attain expensive performances. The "mass culture" refers to the development of a mass society. The development of a mass society was people who moved out of rural areas and concentrated in an urbanized city. With the rise of technology in these urbanized cities its was easier to sell an entertainer to the public through advertisements on the television or radio. The mass society that came from folk culture no longer produced entertainment for themselves because of the simplicity of watching or listening to a entertainer. Folk and mass culture relates to popular culture because of what was once a self produced activity is now a for-profit industry from the mass culture. It is what we now call popular culture

09/03/2013 9:03am

The way the authors define sign is that it is any type of symbol indicating a meaning. Taking the symbols direct meaning and interrupting it into what the symbol indirectly indicates is a signifier. For example, when a person gets a haircut, it could directly indicate (sign) that this person keeps themselves well groomed. Depending on the type of style the haircut is, it could signify that that person belongs to a particular social group. These concepts relate the the study of popular culture because the signifier is the understanding between the symbols denotation.
Folk culture is a culture belonging to the people. A communal type of culture where the people who's audience are themselves entertained by each other because of their isolation from the ruling class who had the money and leisure to attain expensive performances. The "mass culture" refers to the development of a mass society. The development of a mass society was people who moved out of rural areas and concentrated in an urbanized city. With the rise of technology in these urbanized cities its was easier to sell an entertainer to the public through advertisements on the television or radio. The mass society that came from folk culture no longer produced entertainment for themselves because of the simplicity of watching or listening to a entertainer. Folk and mass culture relates to popular culture because of what was once a self produced activity is now a for-profit industry from the mass culture. It is what we now call popular culture

09/03/2013 9:04am

The way the authors define sign is that it is any type of symbol indicating a meaning. Taking the symbols direct meaning and interrupting it into what the symbol indirectly indicates is a signifier. For example, when a person gets a haircut, it could directly indicate (sign) that this person keeps themselves well groomed. Depending on the type of style the haircut is, it could signify that that person belongs to a particular social group. These concepts relate the the study of popular culture because the signifier is the understanding between the symbols denotation.
Folk culture is a culture belonging to the people. A communal type of culture where the people who's audience are themselves entertained by each other because of their isolation from the ruling class who had the money and leisure to attain expensive performances. The "mass culture" refers to the development of a mass society. The development of a mass society was people who moved out of rural areas and concentrated in an urbanized city. With the rise of technology in these urbanized cities its was easier to sell an entertainer to the public through advertisements on the television or radio. The mass society that came from folk culture no longer produced entertainment for themselves because of the simplicity of watching or listening to a entertainer. Folk and mass culture relates to popular culture because of what was once a self produced activity is now a for-profit industry from the mass culture. It is what we now call popular culture

09/03/2013 9:04am

The way the authors define sign is that it is any type of symbol indicating a meaning. Taking the symbols direct meaning and interrupting it into what the symbol indirectly indicates is a signifier. For example, when a person gets a haircut, it could directly indicate (sign) that this person keeps themselves well groomed. Depending on the type of style the haircut is, it could signify that that person belongs to a particular social group. These concepts relate the the study of popular culture because the signifier is the understanding between the symbols denotation.
Folk culture is a culture belonging to the people. A communal type of culture where the people who's audience are themselves entertained by each other because of their isolation from the ruling class who had the money and leisure to attain expensive performances. The "mass culture" refers to the development of a mass society. The development of a mass society was people who moved out of rural areas and concentrated in an urbanized city. With the rise of technology in these urbanized cities its was easier to sell an entertainer to the public through advertisements on the television or radio. The mass society that came from folk culture no longer produced entertainment for themselves because of the simplicity of watching or listening to a entertainer. Folk and mass culture relates to popular culture because of what was once a self produced activity is now a for-profit industry from the mass culture. It is what we now call popular culture

09/03/2013 9:06am

The way the authors define sign is that it is any type of symbol indicating a meaning. Taking the symbols direct meaning and interrupting it into what the symbol indirectly indicates is a signifier. For example, when a person gets a haircut, it could directly indicate (sign) that this person keeps themselves well groomed. Depending on the type of style the haircut is, it could signify that that person belongs to a particular social group. These concepts relate the the study of popular culture because the signifier is the understanding between the symbols denotation.
Folk culture is a culture belonging to the people. A communal type of culture where the people who's audience are themselves entertained by each other because of their isolation from the ruling class who had the money and leisure to attain expensive performances. The "mass culture" refers to the development of a mass society. The development of a mass society was people who moved out of rural areas and concentrated in an urbanized city. With the rise of technology in these urbanized cities its was easier to sell an entertainer to the public through advertisements on the television or radio. The mass society that came from folk culture no longer produced entertainment for themselves because of the simplicity of watching or listening to a entertainer. Folk and mass culture relates to popular culture because of what was once a self produced activity is now a for-profit industry from the mass culture. It is what we now call popular culture

09/03/2013 10:09am

In the book of Signs of Life, the author define "signs" that has a meaning and "signifier" as a sign of change. For example, the meaning of a zombie has change in the culture. In movies, like Resident Evil, the zombies are blood,flesh eaters and in the movie of Warm Bodies, the main character, whose is a zombie is helping a human girl survive the Acopolyse. It relates to popular culture because everything we learn about zombies and vampires are bloody and scary but now they're peaceful and helpful.


Folk Culture are basically ideas,arts and entertainment among communities. Traditions are passed on to generation to generation. For example, in our family, is either every Saturday or Sunday, we do a cook out. All my sisters with their families come over and we have rice,beans, chicken, meat,potato salad, sausages,tortillas. Thats our folk culture. Mass Culture is more industry. This isn't the same when your grandparents teach you their signature plate for thanksgiving. But mass culture is basically propaganda. Mass and Folk culture relates to popular culture by having a choice.


Semiotic Method, its a way we can understand the means in today's world. We can see the signs in for example, artist, movies and movies character. The signs lead to ask questions and other signs leads to another and another until you see what the signs means. The obvious mission is to analyze the signs that are symbolize. In a better explanation, symbols and signs are use to interpretation.


In today's popular culture vampires are seen "Hot". Vampires now are symbolize as kind lovers but back then they were symbolize as blood suckers with no emotions. We can use semiotic method, on the signs we see in movies for example,in Twilight, the vampires are beautiful, sexy, romantic, lovers and heroes.

fatima
09/03/2013 11:06am

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

Ali Almosawi
09/03/2013 1:14pm

In many ways, popular culture can make a sever impact in the whole world. At the beginning of the book, “Signs of Life in the USA”, the authors’ talk about how the popular culture changed dramatically. For example, the authors state that how Dracula, (the god of all vampires) used to be frightening, now it’s just a bunch of hot guys from True Blood, Twilight, etc. In the first page, the authors used the term sign and signifier in which stats how the two made an impact to the popular culture. For example, metaphorically, the term sign means that Dracula (the god all vampires) is the one and only traditional vampire people know. And in the term signifier, it portrays the same aspect as does sign but adds more value into it. The likes of Edward Cullen from Twilight movie, is a vampire who became famous in it’s own popular culture. There are many reasons for the cause of this, but the main reason in my own opinion is money.


“Folk Culture”, is more about the old and classic culture like classical music, philosophy, literature, etc., it mainly refers to what the people had back in the seventeenth century. It used to be very minimal like for example, a village with it’s own music artist has about one hundred fans, and from those fans, they all live in the same village. In the other hand, “mass culture”, refers a different type of pop culture, the culture with more media attention in the twenty-first century. The main reason why the mass culture happened is because of technology and people start appreciating the culture. The likes of Hollywood, where they produce around three hundred movies a year, is the third highest grossing business in the world. How? From the media and how the pop culture changed melodramatically from old times to the new era, the era of technology.


The semiotic method can be used to analyze pop culture in many ways. It is the study of arts and signs in the nineteenth and twentieth century. A good example, according to the authors of the book, is the traffic light signal. It is being able to tell you and to control the drivers when to stop and when to accelerate. On the other hand, it has something to do with the political environment, or perhaps, the government. For example, Beauty and the Beast, the Walt Disney movie, was a huge hit in the box-office; mainly the kids would watch it. But deep inside the movie there is a meaning, a meaning if the viewer analyze deeply he/she would understand. What makes the movies so special refers to how the viewers understand it. The authors bring up another example, how Avatar (James Cameron’s movie), and Dancing with the Wolves (Kevin Costner’s movie) are metaphorically related. Popular Culture is everywhere; everyone is in it even if one tries to avoid it. It is political and philosophical.


In general, vampires are mythological, and of course are scary viscous monsters that suck on a human’s blood. Adding a little twist to the popular culture, entertainment seemed to bring more people to watching hot vampires. In the new era of movies and TV shows, vampires are no longer scary but hot creatures. One of the main reasons of that is to bring money to the business. Popular culture is currently doing the trend on this beloved planet Earth.

Gladys Pereira
09/03/2013 4:59pm

Blog Response #1

The authors define that sign is something, anything, that carries a meaning. For example, the light post for the cars green means go, yellow means slow down and red means stop. A signifier is a shift to a profound change in American consciousness marked by the difference between a story that entertains the value of lies that is based competely the opposite. Which makes us believe that it can be true. These concepts realte to the study of popular culture because people watch and buy the product. For example, Twilight is about vampires who have feelings and fall in love and that they wouldn't hurt a fly. Making us think that is a nice romantic movie and wish that could happen in real life. If that were true wouldn't vampires try to suck all our blood because thats what they truly are blood sucking monsters. They don't show the horrifying truth about how vampires can truly be. The Twilight franchise made lots of money by their movies, dolls, t-shirts and books. They made lots of profit because we the consumers bought all of those products.

Folk culture expressed the experience and creativity of the masses in the form ballads, agricultural festivals, fairy tales, feasts, folk art, folk music, and so on. It is self-produced by amateur performers, folk culture can be best envisioned by thinking of neighbors gathering on a modest Appalachian front porch and bring their instruments and play all together to make beautiful folk music.
Mass cultures entertained by the culture industries concentrated in a few locations as the flim and TV industries are concentrated in Hollywood and its immendiated environs. They both relate to popular culture because people enjoy the folk culture and mass culture. People from back then enjoy the folk culture more than the mass culture because the folk culture has significance that people can learn from. For example, they can all get together and enjoy what they love to play music with real instruments and they wouldn't buy their instruments they would make them out of anything they can find. Now the mass culture eveything is with technology you can make music just by pressing a button in your laptop or on your phone. It doesn't teach us that many values in life. People are so involve with both of them that it makes it on the popular culture list.

The method that can used to analyzed popular culture is known as a semiotics. Is not you're familiar word, by practicing sophisticated semiotic analyses every day of your life. It can be analyze the popular culture by their product placement sign. If we see the sign of the product anywhere we remember from what it is and then we want to by it because they logo sign is very big in the world. In the case of the iPhone's we see one of our friends has got the new iPhone 5 and we like it because of the cool apps it has and cool camera. We go over the Apple store and buy one for ourselfs and now you got a new iPhone that is all yours. Only because everyone you know has a iPhone means that you need to get one to. Thats the kind of semiotics there is in the popular culture.

Vampires are so hot now in our popular culture because they don't make them see as terrifying monsters but as sexy man with fangs that can fall in love with a beautiful women. People see that as a good and wonderful thing. That makes us see and think that the vampire are so hot to watch and to fall in love with their characters and not be scare or terryfied of them. If you really do research on vampires you can read the true about them who they truly are blood sucking monsters that don't like sunlight and come out at night to eat. Now they make vampires seem as fragile and beautiful creatures. In Twilight if the Edward comes out in the sun he sparkles like a brand new diamond. Which that can be possibe because if that happen then all the vampires would be like that and not burn in the sun. Semiotic analysis help us to build a system of related signs. Do a little bit of background research and it will reaveal that the shift began with a different story not like the one they are trying to make you believe.

Calixtho Lopes
09/03/2013 6:13pm

In the introduction of Signs of Life in the US, the authors define sign and signifier as terms that allow one to realize where change has initiated or taken place and what these signs suggest. The term sign is defined as the actual “thing” being perceived; a change taking place, a work of literature, and/or forms of behavior that carries with it a meaning. These signs are then interpreted and suggest to you or others the direction this thing or event will take or has taken helping you arrive at what its significance may be. Signs are important to popular culture because they are the means through which popular culture can be studied; through these signs we are allowed to observe, reflect and better understand the world around us which in turn bring us to accept that each of these signs may have, or has a profound meaning.
Folk culture as described in the text is the knowledge and creativity in the areas of music, art, philosophy, agriculture, food, etc. on behalf of amateurs; a culture, which was self-produced, and passed from generation to generation by word of mouth. In contrast to folk culture, mass culture is more widespread and falls within guidelines of culture industries that are established in very few locations. This type of culture thrived because of the technological breakthrough, which made its reach to the masses possible, breaking down the communal conditions in which folk culture developed. Folk and mass culture would be the components of popular culture today. This hybrid type culture is one that is thriving more than any other because of further advances in technology which have more so pushed folk culture further into the sidelines, and because of Americans’ well known characteristic of being the ultimate consumer favoring mass culture.
The most effective way to analyze popular culture would be the through the semiotic method. This method is pretty simple, all it requires is for you to observe and question every cultural activity and never except these signs mentioned above at face value, as they all have a meaning to be decoded and understood. According to this method the meaning of a sign lies in how one sign differs from other signs within the code or system it pertains to. Since there can be changes to these codes or systems, signs are also situated within history. There is also a fundamental belief that everything is connected, hence questioning one sign will bring you to many more inquiries- sort of like gathering the pieces of a puzzle if you will- that will allow you to arrive at a conclusion of what that sign means within popular culture and what it tells you about the world you currently live in. The advantage this method provides us the one to be able to construct an interpretation on suffice evidence to persuade our audience rather than just speculate.
As for the vampires in our popular culture today, they have been successful because of the many appeals to be considered. In the past they were considered undesirable monsters. Now, as semiotics helps us understand, through out time the vampire has evolved to be sympathetic, immortal, ageless, romantic, extremely attractive, and super cool; characteristics that most Americans yearns for thus making it acceptable.

elizabeth munoz
09/03/2013 6:14pm

The authors define signs and signifier as a change in our culture. Also on a day to day basis we encounter with these types of signs and signifiers. The way these concepts relate to a study of popular culture is by people following the signs and signifiers and allowing popular culture to evolve through these change in our culture.

Folk culture is a culture that has changed throughout the years to become a better culture to live in. For example, the way music is made now a days is more technological than before. Mass culture is a culture that spreads widely throughout the media. These cultures relate in the sense of profitability.

Semiotic method can be used to analyze popular culture by following the trends people follow. Foe example, how something can become popular from morning to night. Also, how people follow music, fashion and sports. The advantage of discussing the individual pop culture as unique or discrete is that people will make it important and will give value to it.

The vampires are so hot in our popular culture because of how people paint them now a days. For example, vampires now fall in love with humans and seem to have a heart. Not as before when they were evil and heartless. The semiotic method help us understand the phenomenon because of how lovely and sweet these vampires have become. Our culture sees vampires as humans and not as a danger to us humans.

Jose Gomez
09/03/2013 6:31pm

The author of "SOL: 7th Edition" defines signs as a way media presents all this different products that we consume. Our culture is basically out with the old and in with the new, meaning what's cool and trendy. Take for instance our cell phones, every few months there is a new cell phone introduced and us in America since we are consumers we have to have it. The companies throw incentives to persuade us to buy their product, and not only that but the fact that they add few features in order to convince people that it is worth investing in their new product. That signifies that since you have the latest, be it gadgets, toys, cell phone, TV, car etcetera. You are indeed cool and hipped, and you are not staying behind with the people that don't want to accept or welcome the change of what's new.
Folk culture is described as a creative and self entertainment culture, because of the lack of monetary resources or the access to the media or geographical location. Liked explained in the book, since folk culture is very small on consumption. In today's time the culture it's hard to survive because of all the access we have to media, and the fact that we live in a consumer economy. Over time this does affect us because we are not creative, and we rather buy a product rather than learn how to make it. Mass culture is a commercialized culture that we live in today, it's a combination of lower and upper classes through entertainment that mostly everyone has access to one way or another. The actors and actresses, singers, sports etcetera are part of our popular culture we are in now. They entertainers are sold as products and we are targeted as consumers of that product. It's like a circle that keeps moving, and doesn't stop evolving.
The semiotic method can be used to analyze our popular culture and back up an argument with facts rather than personal opinions as described on SOL. The method helps write an argumentive essay, like for example if I am writing about how important it is to have internet today, then I have to back it up with fact. For instance take the printing industry 20 years ago more or less, there was adds, news paper, magazines, etcetera sent to the consumer. It's still done by few companies the same way but now it's is done mostly via email or the web and that is a fact since at one point I did work for a printing company. That would be a way of a written argument using the semiotic method.
Vampires are hot because we as consumers idolize the fact that they don't age, are strong, and also are heroes. The sex appeal t and mainly physical is one of the biggest reason I believe, that is what we are consuming the physical outline of the characters whether be from a movie a television series or through books . Characters are good looking, sweet and innocent some times, and that is what catches our attention through all adds and advertising we are sold by the media.

Stefanie Jadidi
09/03/2013 7:59pm

A sign is something, anything that has a meaning. Words are signs. We read them to figure out what they mean. Objects and images are also signs whose meanings are determined by their codes or systems. Signifiers can be implied messages and not a direct meaning of the sign. It can be disguised in thr form of fear, power, sex..we can see the use of both the signs and signifiers hand-in-hand in today's popular culture through advertisements, commercials and political campaigns.
Folk culture is expressed creativity and experiences of the masses performed by amateur performers that can be through ballads, folk music and art. It is for their own entertainment and not for profit. Mass culture is more widespread and is a set of ideas and values that develop from a common exposure to the same media, music, art or news. It tends to lack uniqueness. Popular culture has now turned into mass culture. We can see it through corporations and the government. Folk culture is a thing of the past because today's culture focuses more on money and making a profit.
Semiotic method is a good way to analyze popular culture. Anything we see, whether it's an outfit or image on tv are signs and messages to decode to figure out its meaning.
Vampires are shown as sexy, cool heros or heroines, targeting especially on the youth audience. Although I'm sure there are 45 year old men that also love the Twilight series. It gives people a way to escape reality. It gives young girls hope for romance. The vampires are shown as secy because the media exposes them as just that. Popular culture exposes sex as well. Semiotics shows how to help break down these points with vampires.
I still think a vampire dude that glistens in glitter in daylight is not sexy. But hey, to each its own.

09/03/2013 8:00pm

In the book of Sign Of Life, the author define "sign" that has meaning and "signifier" is a sign of change. For example, the meaning of zombies has change in the culture. Like in the movies Resident Evil, zombie are blood flesh eaters and in the movie of Warm Bodies, the zombie helps out a human to survive the Apocalypse and he falls for her. It relates to popular culture because everything we learn about for example, zombies and vampires, are bloody and scary but now they're peaceful and helpful.


Folk culture are basically ideas, art and entertainment among communities. Traditions are passed on to generation to generation and depends on the tradition. For example, in our family, is either Saturday or Sunday, we have a cook out. All my sisters with their families come over and we already have rice, beans, chicken, meat, potato salad, sausage, salad, tortillas,etc. Mass Culture is an industry consumer. This isn't the same when your grandparents teach you their signature plate for Thanksgiving, or a tradition to give a token of gratitude. Mass and Folk culture relates to popular culture by having a choice to stick with traditions we learn or being entertain.


Semiotic Method, its a way we can understand the means in today's world. We can see the signs in for example, artists, movies and movies character. The signs lead to another and another until you see what the signs means. The obvious mission is to analyze the signs that are symbolize. In a better explanation, symbols and signs are use to interpretation.


In today's popular culture, vampires are symbolize as "Hot". Vampires now are seen kind lovers with emotions, but a few years back, vampires were known for sucking on blood and murdering people. We can use semiotic method, o the signs we see in movies. For example, in Twilight , the vampires have a six pack, nice skin, beautiful, sexy, romantic, lovers and heroes.

09/03/2013 10:16pm

The author of the book, Signs of Life in the USA, defines “sign” and “signifier” as a change in American consciousness because vampire stories use to be about “destruction” and “bloodthirsty demons”, but now movies and writers have changed these stories around to vampires playing the role of “romantic leads.” The author explains that Americans have combined both scary and romantic together to make the vampire stories bestselling. I myself am a fan on vampire stories because of the thrill of these aggressive but yet gentle immortals. Popular culture is related to “sign” and signifier” because of when a new and interesting eye grabbing item in society is fashioned, a majority of people reach out to grasp a little taste of it.
Mass culture is also known as “low” culture. An example that the author used in the book of mass culture was “violent entertainment.” The author described “violent entertainment” with examples like “gladiatorial contests, public executions and feeding Christians to lions.” These entertainments interested the people before and they still do to this day. These violent acts are eye grabbing and entertaining to even myself. As for “folk” culture the author describes it as “high” culture. Folk culture takes mass culture and “expresses the creativity” of it, such as “ballads, agricultural festivals, fairy tales, feasts, folk art, folk music and so on.” Yes folk culture still exists but it is slowly dying out. Folk culture is used and seen comments by people when they play an instrument that was passes down from their ancestors. Both “folk” and “mass” culture are related to popular culture because society now can still relate, is interested and entertained by them.
The “semiotic method” is a method used to understand and discover the meaning of personality in popular culture. The authors explained that reading words and letters help you understand the word and the words help you understand the sentence. Using the “semiotic method” popular culture can be analyzed by the music that a mass majority of people listen to, or the cloths, hair styles. And walk that the culture favors. When using this method anything can be broken down to achieve the reason and most stable understanding.
Vampires are “hot” in our culture because of the roles they played in movies nowadays. They are not much like killers and blood suckers like Dracula use to be known as. Now it is said that these monsters are “rather heroes and heroines, and very cool.” Since movies and stories have changed the angle of vampires from bad to good, popular culture string-pulling on these good blood-suckers. In my opinion these vampires are like remodels to the American society because of their attractive, sexy and heroic images that movies are presenting them as.

09/03/2013 11:13pm

The authors of "Signs of Life" define a sign as something that carries meaning. In our common everyday life we have signs all around us. These signs can be political signs, advertisement signs and simple signs as in traffic signs. A person wearing a t-shirt of their favorite band is a sign. The person's t-shirt can say Nirvana, that will then be the signifier that the person likes rock music. If a girl is carrying a Barbie lunch box, the lunch box is a the sign that will signify that she likes Barbie dolls. Signifiers through products express personal preferences. Products such as t-shirts or any material good is a sign that is used in popular culture to express a personal identity. Without these material signs and signifiers popular culture would not be alive.

"Folk" culture is the beginning and the end of home made entertainment. Folk culture is an art that began before the industrial revolution. Folk culture was self identity without any type of consumer products. It was a natural way to express one self and share it with others. Folk culture was expressed through agricultural festival, fairy tales, feast, folk art, folk music and many more creative forms. "Mass" culture is what made folk culture slowly dwindle away. Mass culture can be seen as capitalism and the mass production of popular needs. Nonetheless, mass culture is the reason for technologies new inventions. Starting from movie cinemas to digital technology. "Folk" culture helped "Mass" culture make a "Popular" culture. A great example of this is in music, once industrialization began mass societies began and these mass societies needed entertainment. That is where folk music came in and it became popular for all the folks to like. After that folk culture became a for profit culture which is also known as popular culture.

Analyzing popular culture can be tricky because peoples feeling about it tend to be bias. Either people love popular culture or they hate it. And there's the people in between. Semiotic method is a good way to critically analyze popular culture. It questions the good and the bad. It has a system that will then link to another system to help fully understand the subject that is being analyzed. It makes a person think beyond the surface of the "signs" that are being put out in front of them. But at the same time in order to read beyond the surface of the signs, the surface of the sign must be read too. It's easy to look at something and have a one track mind about it but the semiotic system does not allow that. In fact it makes it an ideal system for analyzing popular culture.

Vampires have a long history of popularity in our society. Recently they have became even more popular. The semiotics method helps us understand it by questioning its roots. When did the vampire legend first evolve? It first evolved from folk legends. After that the legendary folk tale was used by a popular author that wrote, " Interview with the Vampire". In that book the vampire became sexy. Soon there was a whole new meaning to vampires. It became popular and started signifying signs that society had already laid out. With semiotic method analyzing the vampire phenomenon became easier. Because the first question to see the meaning in depth is a simple question that could easily be skipped by a opinionated or bias conception of the whole vampire phenomenon.

mayra lomas
09/03/2013 11:27pm

In the introduction the word “sign” is defined as anything that carries a meaning, and signifier is something that can be used to describe or identify something; change and evolution .An example would be the vampire stories or movies. How in time the vampire movies have change, it is not only about bloodthirsty demons, but also how this movies or TV series has evolved into romance and how the bad guys turn up to be heroes. This relates to popular culture because we see it in advertisement and how it gets our attention to buy the products.
Folk culture expresses creativity in art, music and feast. In Folk culture is made for themselves, like neighbors gathering in front of a porch to play guitars, for their own entertainment. Mass culture refers to a commercial industry for profit. An example would be the entire product a movie can make, toys videos games.
The semiotic method can be used to study and analyze the signs on popular culture. And how to interpret the signs and what the signs means.

Steven Diermissen
09/04/2013 12:59am

The rise in the popularity of vampires especially within the early 21st century can be observed through semiotics. Semiotics has many elements that, when combined, can give semiologists an idea of the change within popular culture. The process of semiotics involves breaking down the topic into the individual systems it belongs to, and analyzing the different signs in relation to the system. The authors of Signs of Life of the USA, Sonia Maasik and Jack Solomon, define a sign as “anything that bears a meaning” (page 700) which could vary from a symbol to words, from gestures to images. With this stated, signs related to one aspect can signify a different meaning elsewhere. The concepts of “sign” and “signifier” are used to study popular culture in order to see a change in the trends within the society. This allows a person to better analyze objectively about a subject in contrast to just observing and giving one’s opinion.

In order to understand the modern definition of “popular culture” we must understand the definitions of “folk culture” and “mass culture.” Folk culture can be defined as the ideology and arts of a localized society. Mass culture deals with the ideas and consumption of the greater populous, and is generally centralized. Folk culture is starting to diminish with our rapid advancements of technology, and is slowly being replaced with a commercialized culture. The ideologies spread through the internet or through other methods often give corporations ideas to use in order to market merchandise and media to the people.

Recently vampires have become popular due to movies and shows like Twilight, True Blood, and The Vampire Diaries. The vampires from these television series and novels, however, are depicted very differently from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Bram Stoker depicts Dracula as a bloodsucking demon, while the modern vampires are often described as cool, heroic, romantic, and sexy. Another explanation to why vampires are popular could be their supernatural abilities, their nonexistent sign of aging, and their immortality. American culture tends to reflect an obsession to stay young, which is why many would appeal to the idea of the vampire.

arturo rios
09/04/2013 1:12am

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 .

Erika Cayabyab
09/04/2013 1:56am

Our society is constantly changing.  We begin to recognize these changes in all aspects of life by analyzing our popular culture. Popular culture is simply the lifestyles and objects that are well-known and accepted by society. This culture discusses several topics. From vampires to folktales, the Introductory to Signs of Life in the USA explains the way we perceive them and how fast their meaning is evolving.

The Introductory opens up with the discussion of what a "sign" and "signifier" means and how it pertains to our lives. A sign holds meaning and can be shown in ways through: words, objects, images, and types of behavior defined and accepted by society. A signifier is rather the notice in change within that sign. When examining the way women's fashion has developed overtime, we come to a realization that our culture is indeed transforming. Around the 1910's, showing any skin other than your neck in public was absolutely unaccepted and looked down upon by society. When we fast-forward to the present time, it is now extremely likely to encounter a woman dressed almost naked and is sadly become normal to be seen by the public eye. What is this saying about our culture today? It can be easily argued with the right to have freedom of expression but I strongly disagree. I believe in respecting yourself and the environment that surrounds you. But can it really be reversed? 

Folk culture is something that is rarely being practiced today. As traditions are changing, so is our culture. When thinking of the word "folk" we come up with the word origin. Origins hold ancestry and show where things are derived from. Therefore, folk culture holds dated practices such as: agricultural festivals, folk art, folk music, and so on. Folk has been overruled to what we know as popular culture. This culture represents commercialized features with both folk and vulgar traditions. These practices were followed by the Industrial Revolutuion, the shift from an agricultural to an industrial nation. With this came mass culture. Mass culture is a type of popular culture that involves entertainment that is commercially made for widespread consumption.

The semiotic method is one of the many ways topics of popular culture can be assessed. What makes this method unique is how it sees the importance of every sign. In other words, every symbol you encounter, every sign you face, has meaning. You can definately take advantage of this method when analyzing popular culture because it is important to study a sign and how that sign evolved along the way. By breaking apart this "sign", you are discovering its changes, therefore finding and defining new signs. This method is more effective because you'll be learning its history as well as it's current standing today.

Since its origin of creation, vampires were known for being deadly, immortal, blood-sucking monsters feared by humankind. However, this definition has drastically changed over the centuries. In the society we live in today, everybody wants to be a vampire. They contain perfect qualities we all long for, especially their attractiveness. Before discussing how vampires became so "hot" in our popular culture, we must first identify what makes something "hot". Nowadays, "hot" has the characteristics of being: physically in shape, impeccably beautiful, fashionably educated, and materially wealthy. The common vampires we witness in media today happen to possess all these traits. By using the semiotic method, we can find out how this change came about and what purpose it holds in our society today.

Ben Huh
09/04/2013 6:24am

The author defines ‘sign’ as anything in this world that has a meaning. ‘Signifier’ is explained as what that sign might indicate to us as individuals and as a society. For example, when someone starts lifting weights, they might help themselves by taking supplements before and/or after a workout. The sign is the supplement that helps us get stronger faster. The signifier is that one might not achieve maximum results without this supplement. These concepts help us to question popular culture which leads to critical thinking and gathering of evidence to answer our own curiosity.
In the introduction, ‘folk culture’ is described as the expression of experience and creativity of the masses in form of traditional festivities, fairy tales, folk music, etc. As the Industrial Revolution approached, masses of people migrated from rural areas to cities with increasing employment. This inevitably lead to mass societies forming in these new cities. The standard of living increased in urban areas with increase in advancement of technology and becoming a consumer friendly society. This became to be known as ‘mass culture’. Unfortunately, as these mass cultures spread, folk culture took a step back as some of the traditions were lost along the way.
‘Semiotic method’ can be used to analyze popular culture by finding a method to interpret signs and codes. Popular culture gives off words and messages that we can use to argue popular culture. It helps us question the meaning of anything that can be taken as a sign in an analytical way with supporting evidence.
Vampires are hot in popular culture because it gives a sense of youthfulness. Vampires are viewed as evil but sexy, humanly but with supernatural powers, and ageless. I think we also like vampires because we too want to have some edginess with some heroism whether it be on the big screen or in our own lives. It is that ‘good plus bad’ that attracts us to these mystical characters.

09/04/2013 9:07am

The authors in “Signs of Life in the USA” use the example of vampires to define signs and signifiers in the United States. We first see things like Brahm Stoker’s Dracula, who is a hideous evil vampire, to a shift to vampires being beautiful, almost ordinary people in such a movie like the Twilight. He calls this shift “a sig, a signifier of a profound change in American onsciousness marked by the difference between a vampire story whose entertainment value lies in the purshit and destruction of a literally bloodthirsty demon and one that is essentially a romance within which vampires are the romantic leads.” That authors define these signs and signifiers in which the relationships within a “system.” Signs and signifiers relate to the concept of Pop Culture because we can take apart pop culture and examine what is making it popular.

Folk culture is explained as “low” culture constituted to the culture of the masses. It was more for the common folk. Mass culture is the commercialation of culture to appeal the masses. Folk culture is dying out more and more each year and mass culture is coming in more and more each year. With the big studios and big corporations trying to appeal to the masses. They relate to pop culture in a major was, because appealing to the masses is what pop culture is.

Because every culture leaves a blip on the semiotic radar screen this method is used to analyze pop culture. We can take anything apart from a television show, to a commercial, to a movie and analyze and decode it. We can find the meaning, the connation and denotation of the signs and signifiers and the systems which they belong in. We can really find the meaning of a show or whatever pop culture we are talking about. It’s actually very exciting to look at the deeper meaning of whatever in pop culture we are looking at. We can find the hidden meanings behind everything.

Vampires have to be one of the hottest topics in today’s pop culture. They seem to be everywhere we turn and people are loving them. From True Blood to the Twilight Saga they have that allure of beautiful, immortal, God like creatures who are not necessarily the vampires some of us grew up with. We can use semiotics to look at what the meaning behind this is. We can look where the beginning of vampires came from and what exactly evolved them and how they evolved into these creatures we lust to see and to watch and even some of the people want to me. We can use semiotics to examine the system the signs and signifiers belong into in our culture and just how they got to be so popular.

09/04/2013 10:50am





The authors of Signs of LIfe in the U.S.A., broadly define sign as a shift in what an item of popular culture means to us, as Americans and consumers (of American culture). This is different from signifier, which is simply the item which has changed. Maasik and Solomon use vampires as their example: "But these vampires are not the same. It's as if Dawson's Creek were set in Transylvania and Nosferatu moved to Melrose Place" (1). Of course, here they are noting the dual meanings of vampires - what they used to represent to people, bloodthirsty creatures who were vaguely sexual, but not accepted or normalized as according to the strict societal and moral standards of the time. The other meaning would be the one given today, which most pre-teens and teenagers, could tell you: vampires are now 'sexy', to use modern terminology supplied by the authors, and normalized. They lend real life a certain danger, but do not deviate from most other adolescents - they go to school, work, and have romantic interests.
So, how was popular culture formed? Well, it is a fusion between 'folk culture' and 'mass culture'. Folk culture is entertainment by and for the people, literally. As Maaskin and Solomon write, "Self-produced by amateur performers, folk culture can be best envisioned by thinking of neighbors gathering on a modest Appalachian front porch to play their guitars, banjos,.....to perform, for their own entertainment, ballads and songs passed down from generation to generation" (3). Clearly, while this is a form of entertainment that is shared by multiple people, it is far too localized and specialized to be recognizable as the kind of entertainment we have today, although it was a start to the culture we have today. Mass culture is the kind of popular culture we have today - it is sold and marketed as a commodity. It caters to a large scale of people and is made by a few, rather than by some individuals within the area.
The semiotic method can be used to analyze this newly formed popular culture by deciphering 'sign's and seeing how they relate to the community and time period, at large. Semiotics seeks to look beyond the literal message of an item of popular culture; the authors give an example of 50s sitcoms that were perfectly acceptable at the time, which then a modern feminist can critically analyze, using semiotics, saying they perpetuate a misogynistic culture. Maasik and Solomon writes of the way a feminist can view these sitcoms, " Such images - or signs - did not reflect reality; they reflected, rather, the interests of a patriarchal, male-centered society" (11). If feminists can use semiotics to incorporate their world view into a seemingly minor popular culture phenomenon, then semiotics have obvious advantages - they can be used to critically analyze a trend from any school of thought or from any platform, rather than simply pointing out obvious, surface-level ideas from any trend or item.
Using semiotics to interpret the modern phenomenon of vampires, as mentioned earlier, Maasik and Solomon first point out the history of vampires - they have been in popular culture for quite some time, but why the sudden resurgence? And why are vampires not so scary and more relatable, nowadays? Again, according to Maasik and Solomon, the shift came by an item within popular culture, a sign - specifically, Interview with the Vampire - in 1976. The vampire story there was charged with eroticism and relatability, rather than revulsion and horror. In even more modern culture, vampires now have stories that appeal to young adults, teens, and even preteens. They are set in suburbia and have touches of eroticism that play into the adolescent love stories described, like in Twilight, rather than overt sexuality set that is seen as satanic, as in Dracula. A good love story always reels teens in, especially when it is set in high school and there is a touch of danger to it. The resurgence of vampires makes perfect sense when viewed in this context.


Maasik, Sonia, and Jack Solomon. Signs of Life in the U.S.A..
Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2012. 1-22. Print.

09/04/2013 10:50am



The authors of Signs of LIfe in the U.S.A., broadly define sign as a shift in what an item of popular culture means to us, as Americans and consumers (of American culture). This is different from signifier, which is simply the item which has changed. Maasik and Solomon use vampires as their example: "But these vampires are not the same. It's as if Dawson's Creek were set in Transylvania and Nosferatu moved to Melrose Place" (1). Of course, here they are noting the dual meanings of vampires - what they used to represent to people, bloodthirsty creatures who were vaguely sexual, but not accepted or normalized as according to the strict societal and moral standards of the time. The other meaning would be the one given today, which most pre-teens and teenagers, could tell you: vampires are now 'sexy', to use modern terminology supplied by the authors, and normalized. They lend real life a certain danger, but do not deviate from most other adolescents - they go to school, work, and have romantic interests.
So, how was popular culture formed? Well, it is a fusion between 'folk culture' and 'mass culture'. Folk culture is entertainment by and for the people, literally. As Maaskin and Solomon write, "Self-produced by amateur performers, folk culture can be best envisioned by thinking of neighbors gathering on a modest Appalachian front porch to play their guitars, banjos,.....to perform, for their own entertainment, ballads and songs passed down from generation to generation" (3). Clearly, while this is a form of entertainment that is shared by multiple people, it is far too localized and specialized to be recognizable as the kind of entertainment we have today, although it was a start to the culture we have today. Mass culture is the kind of popular culture we have today - it is sold and marketed as a commodity. It caters to a large scale of people and is made by a few, rather than by some individuals within the area.
The semiotic method can be used to analyze this newly formed popular culture by deciphering 'sign's and seeing how they relate to the community and time period, at large. Semiotics seeks to look beyond the literal message of an item of popular culture; the authors give an example of 50s sitcoms that were perfectly acceptable at the time, which then a modern feminist can critically analyze, using semiotics, saying they perpetuate a misogynistic culture. Maasik and Solomon writes of the way a feminist can view these sitcoms, " Such images - or signs - did not reflect reality; they reflected, rather, the interests of a patriarchal, male-centered society" (11). If feminists can use semiotics to incorporate their world view into a seemingly minor popular culture phenomenon, then semiotics have obvious advantages - they can be used to critically analyze a trend from any school of thought or from any platform, rather than simply pointing out obvious, surface-level ideas from any trend or item.
Using semiotics to interpret the modern phenomenon of vampires, as mentioned earlier, Maasik and Solomon first point out the history of vampires - they have been in popular culture for quite some time, but why the sudden resurgence? And why are vampires not so scary and more relatable, nowadays? Again, according to Maasik and Solomon, the shift came by an item within popular culture, a sign - specifically, Interview with the Vampire - in 1976. The vampire story there was charged with eroticism and relatability, rather than revulsion and horror. In even more modern culture, vampires now have stories that appeal to young adults, teens, and even preteens. They are set in suburbia and have touches of eroticism that play into the adolescent love stories described, like in Twilight, rather than overt sexuality set that is seen as satanic, as in Dracula. A good love story always reels teens in, especially when it is set in high school and there is a touch of danger to it. The resurgence of vampires makes perfect sense when viewed in this context.


Maasik, Sonia, and Jack Solomon. Signs of Life in the U.S.A..
Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2012. 1-22. Print.

09/04/2013 11:43am

 In the book “Sign of Life in the USA” the author defines “Sign” and “Signifier” as a massive shift that was made in American Culture about vampire stories. Before we used to call vampire movies a horror movie now when we think of Twilight or other vampire movie, we automatically think of Bella and Edward fighting for their love. This concept relates to the study of popular culture because for some reason vampires entertain more people in a romance theme rather than horror. Many people think that it’s sexy when a “bloody thirsty demon” falls in love with a real human. Now when girls think of male vampires, they think of the sexy eyes and the sexy body that they have and vice versa with males. Even I think that way because of all the talking and how much things have changed in the media.
 Folk culture consists of people creating their own cultural values such as, music, art etc. Unfortunately folk culture was not popular. During this time people did not have the technology to sit back and enjoy someone else’s music; they had to make their own. Folk culture took a little time to be heard. Verses massive culture that turned worldwide with the help of “American-style capitalist economic system.” Massive culture made things perfect because of the help of many kinds of technology and with technology came the good profit. These two cultures relate to popular culture by having us decide of what we are really interested in. For example some people can really be entertained by folk culture and some in massive culture.
 Somatic method analyzes popular culture by us being able to make our own opinions and imagination about popular culture today. Each person has their own imagination when it comes to actors or different entertainers. For example House was a really popular TV series and each person has a different view about it some people like it some criticize about it and some simply hate it. Somatic method clearly analyzes popular culture in this case because each person can make their own opinions about anything.
 In our popular culture vampires are the hottest things on earth. I myself can kind of agree to that because you watch them on television, they look like they have a perfect physical appearance with beautiful eyes and sexy body’s. These aspects grasp everyone’s attention. Although, they used to be the “bloodthirsty demons” people now simply forgot and started viewing them as the sexy heroes. Semiotics can help us understand the phenomenon by understanding that everyone can make their own opinion on how vampires are hot.

Rosario Vazquez
09/04/2013 11:53am

The author defines sign and signifier as a shift “of a profound change in American consciousness.” In this case, the example which they presented was the difference between demonic vampires to an attractive vampire of Twilight. These concepts relate to the study of popular culture since everything that media presents are modifications of classical entertainment, which benefits both the economy and society because of our interests of the entertainments which are being presented.
Unlike the entertainment of the high culture of the ruling class, which was based on classical music, and fine arts, folk culture, was the way in which the popular culture expressed their creativity. This includes ballads, agricultural festivals, fairy tales, feasts, folk art and folk music. The mass culture, was the low culture which was degrade by the elite of the time, since their entertainment included notorious acts, violence, erotic and “vulgar entertainment.” Furthermore, both of these cultures, the folk and the mass cultures relate to popular culture since they are the foundation of the popular culture, in other words, the popular culture consist of both of them.
The semiotic method can be used to analyze popular culture, by seeing beyond the denotation to the connotation of the entertainments in which the media presents to us. The advantage of discussing the popular culture is that we can identify the sign which is the meaning behind what is being presented.
Vampires are shown to be attractive in our culture since it draws the attention of young individuals; it also relates to the sex appeal and immortality of the gods in pagan times. By analyzing through semiotics one can recognize the phenomenon through the characters characteristics and one can also identify the “resurgence” of a “woman’s role in society to be beautiful and sexy, to love and to be loved by a powerful man”. In other words, they are trying to buy us back into being dependent women of men!

Albert Virgen
09/04/2013 11:15pm

Have you noticed that popular culture is all around you like the air we breathe?
And you’re feeding into it! How? You might ask me. Let me explain. Welcome to the world of the semiotics. The study of signs. What do signs have to do with popular culture you ask? Everything.
What can you consider a profound change in American consciousness (signifier)? How do the things we wear reflect who we are? What does your haircut reflect? Who influences you? What influences you? We must look at these signs and finding what is underneath a message being sent, even in the most ‘innocent’ of situations. The signs of which I speak can be simply described as anything that bears meaning. This is true for clothes, cars, words, objects, images and forms of behavior. Anything can be taken as a sign, and by studying popular culture we can fully understand the connotation; or underlying meaning of what is being presented to us, and avoid the interpreting the denotation (face value) of the signs presented to us. We can be fully aware of what major corporations like McDonalds is trying to say by “our nuggets are made with 100% chicken meat” and “now introducing the healthy menu”. They are trying to lure those who are trying to be health conscious into their building. They know that the majority of the Americans in the United States are obese, and what a better way to get someone to break their diet than to put all of their burgers in front of them.
We must understand that high culture is the learning of classical literature and music, fine arts, and elite learning. Low culture was considered to be the beheadings, gladiatorial fights, and most often erotic and or vulgar entertainment. Next to high culture was folk culture! This is the world of ballads, festivals, fairy tales, feasts, folk art and music. It’s no surprise that folk culture started dissipating and becoming part of the mass culture over a period of time. Mass culture was able to achieve such an exponential growth and become a profit making machine because of American capitalism. Why make your own music when you can listen to a professional artist on the radio make music for you? It is these professionals which are now competing for likes on Facebook, tweets on twitter, most views on YouTube, and are now becoming power players in pop culture, and so much of their fan base tries endlessly to emulate them.
Music has changed from generation to generation. But every time it does, it gets farther away from the original. One example is the song “Hey Joe”. Originally written and performed by The Leaves then done by Jimi Hendrix, and now by the Kings of Leon under the name “Joes head”, each reflecting their own style representing a different era.
Another example can be the blood sucking demons that enter your household and terrorize communities…wait? Twilight? No. Time has passed and Dracula no longer exists. The mass majority sees vampires as the hot, sexy, charming, misunderstood creatures, with super powers. But why has this happened? Could it be that we are so obsessed with youth that it has driven us to fantasize about it? Can it really be that the best thing to ever happen to a teenage girl who sits in a desk all day is to be bitten by a beautiful creature and fall in love? Let’s look at this as an expression of post-feminism; to fall in love with a powerful man and love and be loved. The concept of a woman being the house wife and gladly serving her husband is outdated. We can’t only talk about the Juliet’s now, can we? See through the eyes of the Romeos. True blood. Who wouldn't want to have control of a hot vampire for the rest of their lives while being able to have any other you please? It’s about the concept of absolute domination, getting away with whatever you want, being the strongest man out there, and still getting the women. Vampires are the penultimate rebel exuding in machismo attitude. They help us feel powerful, and sexy. This is something our youth clutches on to when we are in the midst of a seemingly unfixable economy, and a political system that doesn't represent us. The best part about contemporary vampires is that they are entirely universal when it comes to sexual preference, or gender, race, religion. Anyone can fall in love with one and anyone can be a part of something special.

09/06/2013 10:10pm

A sign is anything that has a significant meaning.A signifier is a change that has happened to the original sign.These are both a major thing, especially in popular culture because many things have been reinvented to satisfy the current preferences of people.These concepts relate to popular culture because a meaning of something can change throughout time.
Folk culture is self produced arts, the expression of their own work with their traditions and beliefs, usually small groups of people. Mass culture is an idea that derives from mainstream arts, the "it" thing.They relate to popular culture because most of the arts we have are a mixture of both,folk and mass cultures.They also relate because they all have different cultural meanings to people.
Semiotic method can be used to analyze popular culture by identifying the top trends that people are into.The advantage it has is that it can get all the information relating to the "needs" of people.
Vampire were scary and evil, now they are more sexual and compassionate.A vampire is a sexy and more humane because people want to relate to it more.As we all know sex sells and its the main thing that has attracted many people with shows such as "True Blood".They are no longer scared, they want to in a way imagine they can be them.


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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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