Citizen Kane

I feel like the movie was well-made considering the era it was filmed in relation to the progress of filmmaking at that time. Some elements could have been presented better, mainly where the focus in terms of sounds should be. Oftentimes, it was hard to hear what certain people were saying, causing a break in the viewer’s understanding of the development of the plot. The camera angle was quite extraordinary in manipulating the perspective the audience was exposed to and how the audience was supposed to feel (low vantage point looking up to make the audience feel lesser, close-ups to cause discomfort, etc.). The scripting was well-thought through and deliberate. We see this in some of the major quotes (examples being “if I hadn’t been very rich, I might have been a really great man” and “you can’t do this to me”) because they reveal the extent of Kane’s character and his perception of others being pieces in a game of his to control.

The audience is meant to take away the idea that the “American Dream” is not all it’s made out to be. The “American Dream” is based on the idea that anybody can come and go from rags to riches. It is alluring (and has been alluring) to so many people because it has been associated with the idea that more wealth will also result in happiness. Kane reveals the flaws in this hope. He went from rags to riches at a very young age, received an enormous amount of money, had a grand education, and yet was not a good or happy person. He ruined people’s reputations, hearts, minds, and perceptions in his race for more and more wealth and popularity. He acknowledged this when he said “if I hadn’t been very rich, I might have been a really great man”, showing he knows that his actions are corrupt, selfish, and greedy, but he doesn’t show any inclination to change. The fact that he never could find true happiness and love demonstrates that the belief that money equals happiness and love is hollow. He can’t be happy because he is caught up in the misconception that money and fame will bring him love and happiness. This proves to be false over and over again throughout his life, yet he never changes his way. He recognizes his “Rosebud” as a symbol of the happiness and love he lost as a child, but never acts upon this realization and therefore continues on the destructive path of attempting to buy happiness and love.

His mother inadvertently started him on the path by sending him away. She didn’t intend for him to become the way he did, but she was the catalyst for his development. His managers and teachers taught him the ideals of the “American Dream” and how to work the corrupt system to his advantage, promising him it was worth the focus of his life and would lead to happiness. His friends supported and helped him get away with his selfish desires, furthering his ability to justify his actions. His first wife caused him to have to close doors on one way to fame (politics) and delve more deeply into the press business, using his second wife as a talking point. Through a series of passiveness, activeness, and good intentions, these characters molded Kane to believe (incorrectly) that happiness and love could be bought.

Image from The New Republic

Blog 21

As I wasn’t here the day we discussed these poems, I’m going to give it my best guess based on what others told me. So let’s cross our fingers and hope for the best!

In regards to “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, the theme centers around the idea of perception. He worries about how society will perceive him when he says “And indeed there will be time To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?””, followed by a list of seemingly petty things that could prove to be undoing of the approval he hopes to gain from society. He makes note of the twisted and false faces society and members of society put in to try to impress other people. He progresses this theme by arguing with himself and showing the complexity of the situation.

“Disillusionment at 10 o’clock” focuses on the idea that members of society strive for alikeness in public and private. In the poem, even though there is no one to see them, all the people where the same nightgown, showing that they want to fit in at the cost of sacrificing their life (poem shows they might as well all be dead as they are all alike). The only exception is the sailor (the social outcast) who shows life and dreams. The descriptions of the nightgowns further the theme by giving visual aid and accentuating the potential these people are wasting.

My understanding of “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town” is that it is about a generic couple in a generic town with a generic life. This demonstrates that society forces people to simply be a mold rather than a person with differences. This is driven by the following of the generic life of the couple and the fact that the world kept going around them.

My favorite would be “Disillusionment at 10 o’clock” because I agree that the desire to fit the mold of society has and always will creep into the very deepest and most private parts of people’s lives with the exceptions of those who don’t strive to fit the mold. This is also why I think this one is the most applicable to today’s society (think of how people strive to act on social media, even if they aren’t in public and don’t have to be involved in society for the moment). These are all connected in that they perceive society in a negative light and is destroying the differences that make us human.

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Frogs, Finn, and iMom

I think “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” hit some high notes, but also missed a crucial key of directing the point of the writing across to the audience. The general style of writing was enjoyable and well thought out in my opinion. The dialect difference was obvious and effective as soon as Wheeler began his narrative. When the readers start reading, the narrator doesn’t seem too different from the average book, perhaps a little more posh, but not too much different from anything else we would have read. As soon as we read Wheeler’s story, we see a dramatic shift in the dialect that highlights the drastic difference between the two people and the two levels of society they represent. While there was humor in the exaggeration in Wheeler’s story, I feel like the point of humor is for the audience to get it. It is somewhat difficult to discern the real purpose of the story, therefore making it unappealing to an audience looking for humor.

I actually read “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in sixth grade or so. Therefore, it is quite difficult for me to have any real anticipatory thoughts regarding the plot of the book. I can anticipate however that I will likely learn some more background details, intended humor, and underlying meanings within the novel that I didn’t catch the first time. I already know the basic plot, characters, and setting. I think that I will be able to recognize humor and satire better after reading this novel. I think I will also be able to appreciate written satire more after reading this. As of now, written satire is not my favorite as I like cartoon satire more. But perhaps a new understanding of this will help me like it more.

I thought it hit a direct shot at the technology and mindset it was aiming for. It was both satiring the advancements of technology and parenthood. I thought the presentation was direct and easily understood by a wide audience. I think the commentary is accurate and well-founded based on how the world is today.

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Satire

I see a lot of satire and humor in cartoons. I happen to like political cartoons, especially World War Two era cartoons. My favorite artist is Dr. Seuss. A lot of people don’t know that he was a very active political cartoonist during this time. I was even surprised when I discovered it. I like political cartoons because it puts a serious topic into a different perspective. I have seen many people get into very serious arguments over political views, to the point of endangering a relationship of some sort with a person. Politics is one of the big “no-no” topics. It is not to be discussed in school, workplace, or over Thanksgiving dinner. A political cartoon takes something most people feel very passionate about and turns it into a joke, showing the ridiculousness of some of the arguments. I feel like it opens more people’s eyes to the views of others in a more penetrating way. People notoriously relate better to pictures than words and explanations. Political cartoons translate that and make it more understanding to a wide audience.

A long time ago, I read both Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I don’t remember as much about the plot as I should, but some details do stick out. I remember he emphasized stereotypes in characters, with my most memorable example being Jim in Huckleberry Finn. His writing of how Jim speaks shows how different he is from the other characters and gives off the stereotype of a southern slave from that time. Mark Twain was also noted and criticized for his extensive use of less than savory language, particularly the frequent usage of the ‘n-word’. I know from past research that Mark Twain was one of America’s most famous and achieved satirists and humorist. His novels were based on making fun of certain hot topics of that era. For example, Huckleberry Finn was aimed at widespread racism. This also caused his books to receive mixed reviews because some were on Twain’s side of the issue, and others were the butt of the joke. I find it interesting that he was even known on the international scale.

Image from Re-Imagining Migration

Vertigo Review

Where to start? My initial impression is that while it was effective in its intent of causing the viewer to spin on their heels, it lacked in plausibility. For starters, why in all of the sane world would Judy let the insane, entitled, threatening weirdo who could expose her for assisting in murder into her house and go to dinner with him? It makes absolutely no sense. No one can sympathize with Scotty, the main character, because he is controlling, dominating over all the women in his life to the point of being manipulative and abusive, and just downright creepy and stalkerish. The only seemingly sane character is Midge, who is then played off as a strange mix of motherly and lover. I liked the strategic use of music and lighting and camera angles. The vertigo scenes were some of my favorite because of the cool camera technique that effectively drew audiences into the scene.

For modern audiences? First off, scrap the whole Scotty character. The protagonist should be someone the audience can at least try to connect to or understand. He should be about a little bit more than a manipulative and controlling stalker. Midge should be defined a little bit more, she can be a more effective character if the audience isn’t so confused about her role in Scotty’s life (example: she’s his ex-fiance but also made the comment of “mother is here”). The Madeline possession was done quite well, but her Judy counterpart needed more distinction from Madeline in character to bring home the difference between the two. I liked that Gavin didn’t initially come off as threatening or evil, that made it more surprising. Needless to say, the animation scenes need an entire rewrite with a more modern style.

The underlying idea and surprise was well executed but was lost in the plausibility of the script. I am not sure how I feel about the ending scene with Judy’s death. I can’t really think of a better ending myself, but it does leave one feeling cheated. Overall, I think Vertigo scored highly in technique and strategy and low on building a connection.

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Blog 17

My initial impression? It’s certainly different from other poetry we tend to see in classroom settings. I don’t really like the cluttered style, it makes it difficult for me to find a pattern or rhythm. I have nothing against free-verse, but the length of the individual lines makes it extremely tiresome for the reader. My group was assigned section 52, his last section before death. I dislike this because all the different lines, symbols, and word choices seem to have dual meanings. I think it means one thing, but it could also mean these other eighteen things. It’s quite frustrating because I think it’s OK for people to have differing views on poetry. It’s like if you have two different people read the same book. They are not going to interpret it the same, and that’s fine. The most important thing is what they get out of reading it.

It makes him include a lot of comparisons and references to nature. Some include the spotted hawk, grass, and dirt. It also influenced his writing in the effect that he is very accepting of his coming death and frequently makes analogies that indicate his link to nature.

I would say that the most important lines in this particular piece of the poem are the ones that are meant to help pass on lessons to the reader. “The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering” is important because it is reflective of the poem as a whole (he spent all this time writing down the lessons he has learned when he should have been sharing them) and directs the reader to take this philosophy and spread it to the world through actions and deeds. This helps mold the theme in that he, Walt Whitman, is dying soon and wishes to pass his beliefs to others who can implement the ideas into their actions and lives.

I am mostly just having difficulties interpreting this as is wanted for the grade. I see things in my own perspective, but it is frequently “wrong” from the view of the grade book. Then again, I think that is the purpose of all poetry at this point.

 

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Blog 16

I do not agree with his statement because there must be a balance. There cannot be too weak or strong of a government. Too strong means the people can be oppressed and silenced. Too weak means it can easily be manipulated and evaded. There are always corrupt people. The best way to deal with them is to enact a system that has checks and balances that is strong enough to keep them out and in line, but also balanced enough so those under the power of the system can have their freedoms protected and not oppressed. The government is meant to regulate and control what a person is allowed to do to a certain extent so as to also protect the next person. Without the rules and laws of the government, people can take advantage of this for personal gain and deprive others of their rights. The individual citizen should uphold and support the government as long as it is being used correctly and the government should provide the rights and protections to the individual citizen.

I respect a government that has been tried and true and made through logic rather than tradition. I admire our government because of the series of checks and balances and how it was thoughtfully designed not to imitate worn traditional monarchies, but to better the individual citizens. I admire democracies because it is the closest thing to a true government for the people as we have ever successfully come.

It is here to allow people to voice concerns and problems within the world today. To solve a problem, people need to be aware and informed of it and able to create an opinion on the matter. Protests have provided a means for the word to get out for the population to learn of the issue. Civil disobedience also promotes growth and change. It is because of it that we have the changes and amendments that we do. It is effective because it allows people to unite under one issue and give the issue strength in the number of voices that are calling for change.

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Blog 15

One connection I found between the two was the idea that men should accept their life and the conditions surrounding it. Emerson states that we should “Accept the place the divine providence has found for you; the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events.” Thoreau offers up the belief that “However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names.” These both agree that people should take their individual lives as they are and not bemoan what they are given. They contend that each individual has been placed where they are by the greater being for a reason and therefore should be content.

The main idea from the first was that his reasoning for cutting himself off from society for some time and why he feels others would do well to follow the same pattern. He explains the different steps he took to achieve this, such as the refusal of farms. He also mentions that he went to see what he could learn from his experience. The conclusion is mainly his reasoning for leaving and what he gained in wisdom and experience.

One benefit with the lack of society would be not being afflicted with peer pressure, societal strife, and class of racial tensions, as well as other characteristics of society that are generally regarded in a negative light. I personally would miss some of my hobbies. I love drama and performing, so leaving society behind would mean giving that up. I would also miss the company of others. There are some things that society can do that an individual cannot, such as provide certain goods and jobs and comforts that come from industry.

I think a modern reader should take from Transcendentalism several different ideas. We should take the idea of being not too concerned with material possessions because that is what the world is focusing on now and I agree that it doesn’t do anything to truly better mankind. I also like the idea brought up in Thoreau’s conclusion in that we do not need to trouble ourselves with always keeping to the pace of others because people, especially students, are being pushed to a specific speed that is not helpful when they should go at their own speed.

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Debate

So my thoughts on arguing have changed from before this unit to now. I never realized how many fallacies are easily committed and equally easily avoided or exposed. I was grateful for the in-depth look at different fallacies that can be used to win an argument.

Arguments, in general, are frustrating and intimidating in real life. They seem to be won less on a position of skill and presentation and more to those in power. Adults have a terribly bad habit of using their old age to “win” an argument. If you don’t want to be reminded of your age any other time, don’t bring it up as if it is a respectable concluding sentence to an argument. Parents especially like to use this by using the “Because I said so” or “I’m the parent, I’m right, don’t talk back” route. I’m not saying parenthood is easy or that parents should be fond of answering every child’s argument with an in-depth analysis of the basis of opinion. But I do feel that it should be noted that simply putting forth one’s own position of power is not anywhere near a win for an argument. Is it too much to ask for a simple explanation or reason rather than a reminder that you are a few decades more ancient than us? In any case, it is quite infuriating outside a formal debate setting because the odds are stacked against those with the lesser influence.

I think it was pretty straightforward to me on how to prepare my argument. The most difficult part was finding credible research to base my argument on and organizing the information. I think I did fairly well on foreseeing which points my opponent was most likely to bring up and base their argument on. I think the way my peers formulate arguments in a formal setting is pretty simple. They take the points that are most popular and known. In this way, it is easier for an opponent to prepare because there are more articles on taking those popular points and arguing them than more obscure points.

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Debate Topic / First Thoughts

My debate topic is about whether we as a country should keep the electoral college or abolish it. My assigned position is to argue that we should keep the electoral college as a part of our political system. This is the polar opposite of my actual position regarding this debate. Prior to research, I already knew that the electoral college was outlined in our Constitution and has been in effect since. It essentially was originally designed to prevent presidents being elected by an uninformed population. Instead, the people would elect a certain member of the electoral college based on whether they would put their electoral vote for a certain candidate. The electoral college would then vote on the presidential candidates and whichever candidate won above a certain number of electoral votes would then be President. I disagree with this because the reasoning this system is based on is no longer relevant to the US anymore. A google search brings up information about it, how many times attempts to remove it has failed, and why certain majorities see it as an advantage they can use to secure political power (predominantly Republican and swing states). Because I am to argue for keeping the electoral college, one logical approach I can use is that there is a better certain outcome because it is less likely for people to dispute the outcome of an electoral vote in contrast to a purely popular vote. There are some ethical issues surrounding this topic, but all the ones I have found (example: electors being pressured to vote one way or another against their own conscience) help the side I am against in this debate. Perhaps more research will turn up a few that will aid me? This can become a heavily emotional debate for many reasons. People tend to have strong opinions regarding this because it affects their power as a state (republican vs democratic, also swing states). Others get emotional about this because they blame the system for how the outcome came out.  But the biggest reason is how it affects their representation. As I think of it, the president is meant to be a president for all the people, not for a select 538.

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