Sunday, April 17, 2011

Twilight: Talking Points # 10

I saw Twilight when it first came to the theatres (girlfriend at the time made me see it with her- let's make that clear!)and I pretty much dismissed it as a Corny Vampire movie. However, now that I watched it again with a little purpose behind it, it did seem to have some valuable critiquing moments. I found two major themes that relate to this course:

1. The stages of Teenagehood (ie The Storm, Becoming)

Bella and her parents
Bella and Edward not fitting in with each other's groups

2. Male vs. Female Sexuality

Bella's desire for Edward
Edward having to "Resist" his urges

Edward As I watched this, for some reason I kept focusing on Edward, The Male, rather than Edward, The Vampire. Looking at Edward's character as "Male" allowed me to properly critique the issue of Teenagers. One of the glaring observations was Edward's fight to resist Bella. Even though the movie plays it off as Edward's prevention of Bella becoming a Vampire, I looked at it as his inner hormonal battle that most guys would lose. In fact at the end of the movie, Carlisle even says, "Use will power" when Edward sucks the venom from Bella.

Bella Aside from the obvious Bella= Princess and Edward= Prince, Bella's desire to be with Edward represents a teenage girl's desire to be with the mysterious/bad boy over the nicer boys who show an interest. Other than the above-mentioned observations, I don't really know what else to add. Maybe Ms. Grinner will enlighten me? LOL

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Good Girls Gone Bad: Talking Points # 9

Good Girls Gone Bad: Talking Points # 9

First let me say that I will welcome EITHER one:)

Now, I'm going to start off with a key quote:

""Nothing my boy did was anything any red-blooded American Boy wouldn't do at his age...What can you do? It's a testosterone thing."- this was a quote from a mother of one of the boys in the Spur Posse mentioned on page 207. Later, the girls who were "victims" of the Spur Posse were labeled as "Those girls are trash."

There is an obvious double-standard and I really do not know how this will ever be rectified. You see it all the time. Here are just some popular examples:

1. Ben Roethlisberger, 2- time Superbowl Champion Quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
2. Rick Pitino, Hall of Fame Basketball coach
3. Tiger Woods
4. Bill Clinton
5. Kobe Bryant

In all of these cases the men mentioned above have been excused and really never missed a beat (except monetarily) and there will always be a large contingent that will say, "Oh, the girl seduced him," or "She knew who he was-she was after his money."

Take a look at this clip below from Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990-2000). Tiffany Amber Thiesen (yes, Kelly from Saved By The Bell) replaces Shannon Doherty as Brandon and Brenda's long lost "Good Girl" cousin from Buffalo. She starts off as the "Goody-Two-Shoes Cousin" but has a "Dark Side." Luke Perry plays Dylan McKay, who is the "Bad Boy" of the show. What are the images you have of each as you watch this scene? We should look at this again in class on Tuesday night!

As far as the Atalanta clip- very well done. Good point about true love and based on the date of the clip, definitely a feminist statement at that time. Also, is it me or does Atalanta and Young John look alike?


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Project Ideas: Talking Points # 8

I really would like to look into TV/Movies and how teenagers are portrayed in them. I feel as a teacher, that my students are deprived of the quality television shows that I was able to observe in the late '80's and early '90's. There are so many tv shows now that send such a bad message versus when I was a teenager. I truly feel that because of shows like Growing Pains, Who's the Boss?, Family Ties, The Cosby Show, The Wonder Years, Boy Meets World, Step-By-Step, Family Matters, even Full House with its corny "Talk-With-Dad-At-The-End-Cue-The Music-Let's-Hug-Before-The-Credits-Moments that it made me a better person/decision maker. I don't know, maybe I watched TOO MUCH tv, but I know my students watch tv when they go home and there is NOTHING of any moral fiber to soak in. At the very least, the shows made me laugh inside, and not like laughing at shows like Jackass.

I mean, sometimes I think it's all in the way it is presented too. For example, in the early '80's there was the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High which portrayed the different perspectives boys and girls have toward it. That movie was very well-written and actually, behind some of the silly parts, left viewers with a "real" view of what sex is and ISN'T. Contrastly, a movie like American Pie, which deals with the same issue, has ABSOLUTELY NO REDEEMING QUALITY. It's just frustrating, because I feel that society is representative of the media world and there is definitely a correlation between what is viewed on TV/Movies/YouTube and the Apathetic Umbrella that not only teenagers live under.

Like Lexi, I needed to get this off my chest. Now back to watching the Final Four and Red Sox...AHHHHH, there's that TV thing again:)

Disregard Post # 8

Disregard my Post # 8. I guess I just couldn't wait to talk about this topic LOL

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hip-Hop, Mass Media Talking Points # 7

I was assigned to read Part 1 of Jared Ball's article.

On the first page of "Hip-Hop, Mass Media and 21st Century Colonization", Jared Ball speaks of Hip-Hop as improperly portraying a "Black America" as a form of colonization. Ball says that there are three main components to this internal "colony":

1. Black people remain in spatially distinct communities such as neighborhoods or projects.

2. Within these projects, the Black population form the basis of America's cheap labor.

3. Raw materials which include cultural expression and specifically Hip-Hop.

The above-mentioned three tenets of this "Black America," as Ball puts it, is a way of intentionally creating conditions of poverty and desperation that Hip-Hop tends to glorify through its own sub-culture.

So, how does this all relate to me, a 32 year-old white male? Well, I've been a teacher in Providence for the past four years and I really like (sometimes Love) what I do and whom I teach. Prior to this year, I had taught at Oliver Hazard Perry Middle School which is directly across from "The Hartford Projects" on Hartford Avenue. The school was nearly 80 years old and the caliber of students and parents whom I dealt with were definitely on the poorer side. The reason I mention this is because Perry closed this past year and some of the students who would have returned to Perry were transferred over to DelSesto Middle School, as was I. The amazing thing is that DelSesto is less than one mile down Hartford Ave, but it is on the Johnston line rather than the Projects end and believe it or not, that makes a big difference in the student population. Even though some of the same kids from Perry are at DelSesto, it's an entirely different atmosphere- it's "NOT AS POOR." The question is, "Why?" I've pondered the reasons and have even conversed about it with fellow teachers who also made the trek from Perry to DelSesto with me, and we've arrived at a couple of possibilites:

1. Newer School
2. Closer to Johnston= closer to affluence
3. Away from "The Projects"

So, now that I have read a little bit about Hip-Hop and Ball's take on it, it seems a little clearer that it may be a combination of #'s 2 and 3?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Talking Points 6: Glee

Hey everyone, I just got my laptop back. Had to bring it to Best Buy this Saturday (it had a virus). No excuses though, right?

Anyway, I only watched the "Never Been Kissed" episode of Glee and even though it is definitely not the show for me, I do see many examples of SCHWAMP in the episode. The Juvenile Hall Jock wheeling the "cripple" down the hallway. The Bully Slamming the Gay person into the lockers. The majority of the cast is white. The Males as the dominant sex hunting for the woman to "Give it up." Another show that did a great job depicting every issue imaginable for teens and beyond was Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990-2000).

I'll try to watch more, but I wish I checked out these episodes earlier in the vacation- I would've been able to analyze more. Sorry.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

My Digital Life

Hey guys,

Here's my Digital Life. HUGE thanks to Blue for helping me save my pics to my computer. THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Knowledge-Able: Talking Points # 5

Michael Wesch's Argument
To me, this was a very straight-forward article. Basically, Michael Wesch talks about how, even though the classrooms across the United States have an abundance of technological tools at the students' disposal, many teachers tend to shy away from using that medium in his or her practice. This "shying" away as I put it, may derive out of fear, due to a generational gap between teacher and student; it may come out of ignorance; it may lay in the lack of knowledge; perhaps it is a control issue. Many teachers, especially in urban settings, due to district mandated policies continue to teach a prescribed curriculum at the head of the class to 25-30 students in rows waiting to absorb the information like sponges, and then once every few weeks, they are expected to wring out the knowledge onto a piece of paper. Wesch does not want to have education continue on this "give and take and hope to give back" path.

Wesch seems to be arguing in his article, "From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able: Learning in New Media Environments," that "this new media environment demonstrates to us that the idea of learning as acquiring information is no longer a message we can afford to send to our students, and that we need to start redesigningour learning environments to address, leverage, and harness the new media environment now permeating our classrooms"

One of the potential reasons I mentioned above as to why teachers do not utilize technology, is the notion of fear. Wesch speaks to this through what he refers to as "A Crisis of Significance." Similar to what Dr. Bogad mentioned the first night of class regarding "No Cell Phones" policies, Wesch's idea of "A Crisis of Significance" addresses the lack of interest for many students due to "archaic" instruction. Prior to the mid-1990's, boredom was demonstrated on the part of students in the forms of doodling, putting heads on desks, or talking. Wesch's Crisis of Significance replaces the old boredom with technological versions. Things such as texting, facebooking, or i-pods are the newer ways to display tuning out. So, Wesch is trying to say that technology is not to blame. We as teachers need to bring back the relevance in education and if it means having the students make fictitious Facebook pages of Abraham Lincoln or a Powerpoint Presentation with downloaded music to accompany it, or a classroom Blog, then so be it- as long as they learn the concepts and how to apply them in a relatable fashion.

One of the questions that came to my mind is "Where does standardized testing lay in all of this?"

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Riding out The Storm: Talking Points #4

How does this article relate to me? Well, it doesn't- I was a perfect teenager:) However, it does relate to my sister. Let me count the ways:

The Storm

Rebecca Raby speaks on page 431 about teenagers' unpredictability and upheaval during this stage of teenhood. Well, when my sister entered middle school, it was like, in her mind, my parents and I became instant enemies. The screaming, yelling, hitting, swearing, disobedience, apathy, anger, slamming of doors, and all out hatred for her once-loved family became quite apparent. This was a storm that my parents and I never saw coming.


"The Promise" was something we often yearned for during my sister's teen years. I used to tell my parents, "One day you will get your daughter back." My aunt once told me, "Believe it or not, you and Lauren will be best friends one day." I didn't believe her, but in a way that did come true. Raby refers to British youth researcher F. Musgrove on page 434 as Musgrove "likened adolescence to colonized peoples who are in revolt." I couldn't have said it better myself:)


Raby speaks on page 435 about the different types of stressors that can accompany adolescence, such as drugs, alcohol, depression, eating disorders, sexual diseases etc. As I read this section, I remembered how these stressors were evident with my sister's first party when she came home "tipsy" from having her first few drinks and when my parents had "The Talk" with my sister about her and her boyfriend about sex and "The Pill."

Social Problem

Raby refers to an article in George titled, "Why kids are ruining America" where it states the following: "Teens are running roughshod over this country-murdering, raping, gambling away the nation's future-and we have bills for counselling and prison to prove it." My thought process switched from my sister's delinquency to my students'. I felt that I was heavily influenced in a positive way when I was a teenager and so was my sister for that matter. Today, I constantly think to myself, "Where are the positive tv shows now for kids to learn from?" We are living in a world of Reality TV, Crime, and Dramas. I often think, "If there were some better things for the kids to watch on tv then maybe these kids wouldn't be so misguided? I remember learning a great deal from TV shows when I was young. Back then, you would see characters mature, plots become more relatable, and morals were absorbed in a matter of 30 minutes. Take a look at this montage from one of my favorite shows, "Growing Pains (1985-1992)" In this montage, it shows various female adolescent issues that "Carol Seaver"(Tracy Gold)endures throughout the series and are mostly explored in this week's reading(oh, and yes, that IS Brad Pitt, ladies. He did get his start on this show- as did Matthew Perry and Leonardo Dicaprio...but I digress):

Where is that now? Would that make a difference? In fact, name one television show airing in 2011 that a teenager could actually learn a lesson that would teach them ways to cope with problems.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Talking Points # 3: Stereotypes in Cartoons

In the article, "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us," Christensen argues that cartoons and their images influence the manner in which viewers (primarily children)see the American culture. This "secret education" (p.128) that Christensen speaks of is embedding an ideology that consists of one sex, race, class, group, country, etc dominating over an inferior one. Examples such as an episode of Popeye, titled, "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves" (p. 130) or more recent films such as Mulan, Aladdin, and Pocohontas are noted by Christensen as highly discriminatory toward non-American groups. Although, an easy/interesting read, the point of this article in my opinion is not a blanket statement: "Cartoons portray anything non-American as bad." To me, Christensen, seems to be looking out for the young viewers who live within a society whose youth is quite impressionable.

Now, I watched the cartoons that Christensen mentioned in the article, and I NEVER thought for one second that Duck Tales, Popeye, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had ANY effect on me. Nor did other popular shows such as Inspector Gadget, Thundercats, The Smurfs, Bugs Bunny and Friends, Garfield, Mighty Mouse, Scooby Doo, The Jetsons, Road Runner and Coyote, etc. make me think anything other than "this is entertaining." However, there was one show that I remember watching with my sister back in the mid-late 80's that I, at the age of 11 distinctly noticed portraying images that could influence my sister. Take a look at the theme song to Jem and The Holograms below. What images come to your mind?

There are so many ideologies at play in this theme song. From fame, to fashion, to the blonde girl living a double-life as a rock star and perfect girl that the boys always like off the stage, to "The Misfits" and their non-traditional hair and makeup to the competition, and of course the Jealousy- in fact, how about the image of the multiple girls vs. Jem. In fact, there is even the hidden message of violence, as they say, "We're The Misfits, We're Gonna Get Her." I remember when I watched it with my sister, thinking to myself, "What are they going to do when they get her? Beat her up?" There was always a subtle hint of that in that show. I'm probably getting on my soapbox here, but as I read the article, this is what I kept thinking of.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hip-Hop Sees No Color: Talking Points #2

In "Hip-Hop Sees No Color" Leslie Grinner argues that the movie "Save The Last Dance," at its core, portrays the white race as the superior one. Through the use of the acronym SCWAMP, Grinner gives examples of the ideologies of Straightness, Christianity, Whiteness, Able-Bodiedness, Male-Dominant, and Property Owning which can all be found in the film, "Save The Last Dance."

I saw the movie, "Save The Last Dance," and I remember as I watched it, thinking that the crux of the movie, although on the surface seems to be about Sara, the white girl, adjusting to a "black world," it actually seems to be more about Derrick, the ex-bad black kid, indoctrinating himself into a white world. Instead of the film being about the white girl learning to be "gangsta," to me, is more of a film about the black kid, learning to be "white." The whole idea of Derrick being smart (an uncommon theme among blacks in movies) and needing to channel that in the right direction (or the "white" direction) while at the same time, his friend Malachi continuing down the "black" path, resonated more with me while I watched this movie.

As I read this article, I couldn't help thinking about how blacks have been portrayed in the media/television shows. TV shows such as Good Times, The Jeffersons, and What's Happenin', which all portrayed blacks struggling to make ends meet in their ever-present efforts to become more successful(white)came to my mind. I also thought about TV shows such as Welcome Back Kotter, The White Shadow, Different Strokes, and Webster, whose themes were all white people who were in a position of instilling their wisdom on their black subjects in an effort to reform them into being more white.

More recently, movies such as Dangerous Minds and Freedom Writers (see clip below) further exemplified the aformentioned theme:

So, In conclusion, the whole idea of SCWAMP does seem quite valid, not only in "Save The Last Dance," but in almost all media consisting of blacks. I guess in many cases, it's "You are White until proven otherwise?"

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Talking Points 1: Media and Ideology

"Media professionals generally have little patience with the argument that the media are purveyors of ideology. Instead of seeing the media as places where behaviors are normalized and boundaries are created, those in the industry tend to argue that the images they produce and distribute simply reflect the norms and ideas of the public" p. 164

The above section of our first article resonated most with me as I read the 10 pages. There are numerous times when I have observed on television, advertisements, or in the newspaper certain images, discussions, or articles that make me think, "We as viewers/readers are just cogs in this Corporate Machine that is the Media." Here are 10 examples from 2010 that came to my mind:

1. Swine Flu Pandemic- was it just a ploy to make our Collective Nation forget about the Recession?

2. LeBron James' Decision- one of highest rated Cable Television Segments of all time. I bet you watched. I know I did. But why?

3. Two and a Half Men- funny show, but is that why the 2000's saw the highest percentage of single men since the Census began?

4. The Recession- more money spent at Chrstmas last month than last year. Sign of better times or simply an example of national apathy?

5. Jersey Shore- 'nuff said

6. Modern Family- funny show, but is that how today's family is supposed to consist of?

7. Central Falls Teachers and Deborah Gist- Are the teachers really to blame like the media wants all to believe, or is it the fact that the children who attend the schools come from poor socioeconomic homes and can't read?

8. Meet the Press- very knowledgeable panelists, but in the year 2010, still over 2 years away from President Obama's first term coming to a close, they are already shoving Mitt Romney down our throats. It isn't that I have a problem with Mitt Romney, but what bothers me the most is that they have such an influence over viewers, that sometimes I think they could promote Bozo The Clown and people would begin buying "Bozo for President 2012" buttons.

9. "This is It: The Michael Jackson Story"- He was an absolute loon, but the media always gave this guy a nice spin. From the News Coverage of his fans releasing doves when he was found innocent of sexual molestation to the live funeral on tv in '09, to the movie. I just keep wondering, "Why didn't Mother Theresa or Ghandi get this much attention when they died?"

10. Michael Vick's Redemption- "The comeback story of the Year." "A second chance on life." "After all he went through." The guy got caught running a terrible Dogfighting operation. He killed dogs in heinous fashions. HE GOT CAUGHT. He went to jail because HE is a murderer. Not because someone framed him. Not because he was innocent and wrongly convicted. Because HE committed crimes. So, why is this supposed to be such a feel-good story? Because it sells.

Thursday, January 27, 2011



My name is Ron DeSimone. I am in the Master's in Education: Teaching and Learning Program here at RIC. This was not a class that I originally had on my Plan of Study, but I am substituting it for one that is no longer available. I'm 32 yrs. old and I am in my 6th year of teaching, and 4th in Providence. After this semester, I have a couple of Summer Institutes to take and then one course in the Fall and I will be done. Well, hope all is well with everyone.


P.S. Hey January, don't let the door hit you on the way out:)