Unit 6: Scientific Looking, Looking at Science

2) Compare and contrast the use of morphing technology in Michael Jackson’s “Black & White” music video with the use of that same technology by the group Das Racist in “Michael Jackson.”

For this assignment, I will be comparing and contrasting the use of morphing technology that was used in the music videos “Black & White” by Michael Jackson and “Michael Jackson” by the group Das Racist. These music videos are about 20 years apart from each other, but they both used the same morphing technology.  There are many different special effects that people use in their pictures or videos.  Morphing was used in these videos.  Morphing is a special effect in motion pictures and animations that changes (or morphs) one image into another through a seamless transition. It is used most often to depict one person turning into another.

In the end of the music video “Black & White”, Michael Jackson used many different ethnic people during the morph scene.  It seems like no matter what the race, one is beautiful and equal.  I feel the only part of this that is true, is that everyone is equal no matter their race.  During the morphing scene, they start off with a fat Asian man who morphs into a skinny black woman.  She then turns into a white woman with red hair, and so on. These people were all dancing the same, and singing to the song with a smile on their face.  They all looked happy enjoying the same music regardless of their race.

I feel in Das Racist’s video “Michael Jackson”, that they were kind of making fun of Michael Jackson himself.  They could have been implying his appearance from years of plastic surgery.  He was originally a black child who changed his appearance to look more “white”.  I also felt they excluded Middle Eastern people since I did not see any in the video.  But I also feel that they shared a lot of the same points about everyone being equal as in Michael Jackson’s “Black & White”.

During the morphing scene in Das Racist’s “Michael Jackson” music video, they seem to start off with a fat man as well, but he is Indian or Hispanic.  He then turns into a skinny black woman, who then turns into a hairy Indian man, and so on.  They even morph a really hairy Indian man right before they end with a dog.  We have people of all ethnic backgrounds who are both fat and skinny, good looking and not.  We also have strong emotions towards animals.  I also feel they put the dog in the video just to be funny.  One thing I did not really like from this morphing scene was that they showed people acting strange and looking weird.  It didn’t seem to really show that everyone can enjoy the same interests regardless of race.  It was just a bunch of different races not really following each other’s same movements and acting strange.

In this morphing scene, it shows that everyone, including animals are equal and should be treated as so.  Everyone has their own imperfections but they are all the same inside.  We should not discriminate, and treat everyone the same even if they are “ugly/good looking”, “fat/skinny”, white/black/any ethnicity, or “human/animal”.

Michael Jackson’s “Black & White” video was showing the world that everyone is equal no matter what ethnicity they are.  Michael wants us all to realize that no matter one’s ethnicity, they should all be treated equally. He even says that if you’re thinking about being his baby or brother, it doesn’t matter what color your skin is.  Another important thing he said was that he’s not going to spend his life being a color.  He had the morphing go to this to convey his message.  During the morphing, you notice how each person is dancing and singing to the same song.  They are all enjoying it regardless of their race. Here Michael shows how everyone is similar, and regardless of one’s race, they can all enjoy similar interests in things such as music, hobbies, women, etc.


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Unit 4

Brian Toback
Unit 4

A subculture here at SJSU that I would like to examine would be Kappas and the Ioatas.  These are two African American Fraternities here on San Jose State.  Kappas: while they pledge for fraternity, they call eachother plegebros, when they cross they call each other linebros. The last line to have crossed is called nupes.  The fraternity pillars are red n white. They carry stepping canes. They use them when they step at step shows and when they stroll anywhere… (Parties events, etc…) to show their unity and respect to their fraternity. (What values are…..) They are based off of a Christian Fraternity; they are required to develop a brotherhood.  They believe that the fraternity as a unit is only as strong as their weakest link and one brother must be willing to sacrifice for his other brothers.  (They have a brick) it has their fraternity’s name written on it and their fraternity’s number, and other history of their fraternity.  They have to practice stepping every weak because each fraternity has a different stroll and stepping patterns.

Stepping is usually involved with African American Fraternity’s, but here at SJSU there is an exception with an Asian fraternity.  They are now underground, but used to be a public frat at SJSU under the name of Lambdas.  They are the only Asian frat that does stepping at the same level as other African American Fraternities.

At San Jose State, the “Kappa’s” are known to receive stigma for giving sexual favors to girls.  However, they also carry the reputation of being homosexuals.   African American Frats are known to have social stigma attached to the name of their fraternity.  I know that  in some African American Fraternities, they have to acts which would seem as homosexual to most people.  An example would be that they would have to get a vine of grapes, and pull out the smallest one of the batch.  Then they would all have to stand in a circle and pass the small grape from one members lips to the next without dropping it or using any hands.  Obviously this is like kissing another male since both members lips must touch in order for you to grab the grape from the others mouths.   I know in some White frats over at UCLA, the hazing process is definitely considered homosexual.  I remember my friend told me about a fraternity over at UCLA that required people who were hazing to stand in a circle, and face the person to their right.  They would then have to drop their pants and boxers and grab the testicles of the person to their right, so that it was a big chain all around the circle.  I personally would never do something like this, nor many of the other hazing processes, so that is why I have never decided to join a fraternity.

I personally do not know many members from these different Greek families.  But I know enough people who are friends with them, that I would easily be able to set up interviews with these Greek family members.  It might be a bit difficult to find much information since I am not a member of the Fraternity, and I also know they are very secretive and most people don’t know anything about them.  They don’t like to share any information on how they run their frat, or their hazing processes.

Many hazing processes are all crazy things most people wouldn’t do.  But hazing is like a sort of initiation, kind of like how gangs beat you up for a certain amount time before you are finally a member.  Also these Greek families’ memberships are usually for LIFE.  Meaning, you cannot share any information about them, and you cannot go and join another frat unless you are kicked out or some other discharge happens.  The benefits of being part of a life-long fraternity, is that you will have connections and people to hook you up with possible jobs in the future.

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Unit 3 Spectatorship, Power, & Knowledge

Video 1: “Lil Wayne – Lollipop” (dominant gaze)

This video is of the dominant gaze.  The dominant gaze is a type of tendency for the central culture to portray certain views through images and words.   In this video, rapper Lil Wayne is dressed in nice expensive clothing.  He is completely covered throughout the video not exposing himself.  The women in this video are wearing really sexy and revealing outfits. I feel this video is definitely targeting men, but more so towards the younger men.  This video is trying to show young men that when they get older, this is how they want to be. They want to be dressed up in nice clothes and jewelry and partying with many women, especially ones that are in sexy outfits that reveal much of their body.  I feel this is also saying that men are dominant, and the women are just in the background.  As far as this video goes, I believe this video is showing women as background people that are here to dress nice and please men.  The dominant gaze in this video portrays the dominant perspective in American Culture.  Men are seen as the dominant superior, where-as the women are seen as not dominant, and just as a sex item for men.  The women’s role is to be sexy and please their men.  Also throughout the video, you will notice the different camera angles and different spots where they zoom in.  The camera will zoom in on the women’s bodies.  Especially over their boobs and ass. Even the lyrics are very provocative:

“Shawty wanna hump
You know i like to touch
Ya lovely lady lumps”


“Seen an ass like hers
that pussy in my mouth
had me loss for words
told her to back it up
like berp berp
and I made that ass jump
like jerp jerp
and that’s when she
she lick me
like a lollipop (oh yeah I like that)”

When Lil Wayne uses “lick me like a lollipop”, he is talking about a girl giving him head. So the males are definitely more dominant than the females.

Video 2: “PSY – Gangnam Style” (oppositional gaze)

This video has a very oppositional gaze to it compared to the Lil Wayne – Lollipop video.  In this Gangnam Style music video, the artist PSY does not seem like the typical dominant male.  He is a chubby pale asian male acting very goofy and non-masculine-like. In one of the scenes during this music video, PSY is in a sauna with 2 other males.  The other two males have tattoos and look masculine. PSY on the otherhand is wearing a light blue towel that kind of resembles a dress.  He is also leaning his head down on one of the other men’s shoulders. While he is leaning his head down on his shoulder, PSY’s legs are crossed like a women wearing a dress would do, and PSY is also looking at the other male who is stretching. This is very non-masculine like.  At around 1:55 in the video, you see PSY laying on the ground singing in an elevator with another man dancing on top of him.  The man on top of him is dressed in a cowboy hat, lime-green shirt, white and pink shorts, and sandals.  This definitely does not have a very dominant masculine-feel to it.  The typical male would not be seen or portrayed doing such things.  However throughout this whole video, PSY maintained a straight serious face.  The rest of his dances and activities were goofy.  Today when we look to see a dominant gaze, we would usually find a male wearing nice clothes, and having women all around them.  PSY does the same thing but in a different more feminine way.  He goes about it wearing bright colors, doing weird dances, and just acting goofy all with a straight, serious face.  In other dominant gaze videos, you will find the male to have a serious facial expression, minus the bright colors and goofy dancing/acting.

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Unit 2: The Mass Media & the Public Sphere (9/11-9/20)

Aurora Shooting

The Aurora Shooting was a tragic event that took place on July 20, 2012 at a Century movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado. That night was the opening release of “The Dark Knight Rises”. James Eagan Holmes was the prime suspect in this horrific event.  He dressed in tactical clothing, and rained hell on the many people trying to watch the opening release.  He set off tear gas and shot into the audience with multiple guns. James ended up killing 12 people and injuring 58 others. Many different news sources covered this story.  Each story had many similarities to other news sources. 

Also many of the news sources followed up with many articles that talked about the most current updates on this situation.  One example would be that the Huffingtonpost had an article about James Holmes Insanity Defense.  It talked about how the Colorado Prosecutors are challenged to prove that James is actually sane. An article by NBCnews talked about how the Colorado Prosecutors were asked to add another 10 charges onto the Aurora Shooting Case.  If this falls through, then James would have a total of 152 charges against him. As of right now, James is facing 142 charges. He has 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder.   

Another news source, the Examiner, wrote an article about the victims of the Aurora Shooting.  This article talked about how the victims compensation promised are falling short.  Here’s a quote from the article, “Governor Hickenlooper hired Community First, a local Denver help agency, to manage donations received from all over the world after the shootings in July. To date, the victims have received less than 10 percent of the $5 million received by Community First.” (Examiner, 2012)  

Nashville, TN’s radio station K105 took part in the Aurora Shooting.  Fort Wayne created a memorial video to the theatre shooting victims using the song “Big & Rich – That’s Why I Pray”.  The video shows clips of Obama speaking about the shooting, clips of the victim’s families, and other families glad to see if any of their family was injured.  It also has voice clips of victims calling in and telling us their experience during the shooting.

To answer the question, “In what ways are contemporary media forms (television, radio, newspapers, Internet) contributing to a sense of public life or public discussion, and in what ways are they detrimental to it?”  I would say contemporary media forms go both ways.  A good example of a media source that is contributing positively would be the Nashville Radio Station.  One of their members created a memorial video for the victims of the shooting.  It can also be detrimental because it can portray the event a way that maybe one of the victims didn’t see it as. It can bring back memories and hurt the victims and their families. All of the new updates keep bringing in comments from people that read the various news sources. Some express their sympathy towards the victims and their loved ones.  Others write hate comments towards the Colorado Prosecutors having a tough time proving he is sane. They feel James is guilty and should get locked up. Contemporary media forms can contribute both negatively and positively on an issue.

Brian Toback

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Semiotic Method

Advertisement/Semiotic Analysis

Red Bull

This picture is of a can of Red Bull.  Their slogan is, “Red Bull gives you wings!”  The denotation of this picture would be a silver, red, and blue can.  Another denotation in this picture would be a paperclip.  The connotation in this picture is that Red Bull gives you wings.  If you drink Red Bull then it will help give you strength.   The signifiers in this picture shows two cans crushed to act as a barbell.  It also shows two cans acting as feet.  The top of the can is slightly bent to act as a head.  It is opened to look like a mouth.  The paperclip goes in through the can to act as arms and the bar from the barbell.

The can is supposed to represent a strong person.   Red Bull gives you wings, so one should have more energy after consuming this product.  They want to show you this character to get you to buy Red Bull, so that you will have lots of energy and strength to get you through your day, whatever activity you are doing.  The can has a logo of two bulls.  Bulls are known to be strong animals.  If one consumes this product, then it will make them stronger.

All semiotic codes are social codes.  Social codes in this picture would include bodily codes, commodity codes, and behavioral codes.  The bodily codes in this picture would be the posture of the can.  It is in a weight lifting position, mimicking a human weight lifters form. The can appears to look like a human.  The commodity codes of this picture would be the can itself.  It’s a “person” wearing the Red Bull logo, lifting weights.  Its behavioral codes would be the can’s role-playing in this picture.  It’s obvious it’s a can, but it is trying to act as a human.  There are definitely many different cultural myths being invoked in this picture.  They are trying to show you that if you buy Red Bull, then you will be stronger and more energized for whatever the day brings you.

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