Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mom, Make Mac Stop Making Fun of Me!

Microsoft is spending over $300 million dollars to help win more customers to their PC platform. What, you might ask, are they doing with all that money? Increasing online security for their users? Building a lean, mean, operating system that boots automatically and never crashes? Designing a voice-activated environment that recognizes every voice command perfectly, while using practically no memory?

Nope. They're spending nearly a third of a billion on... get this: Looking Cool. You know, being popular. The National Business Review ran an article entitled,
"Microsoft to Seinfeld: If We Give You $10 Million, Can You Make Us Cool?" and spelled out the plans to enlist Jerry Seinfeld and other celebs to combat the powerful cultural cache delivered by the visual rhetoric of the "Buy a Mac" ads.

It seems that, in this case, the medium is the message (of course) - but it seems also that the rhetoric is the product! If you doubt it - view again some of those Mac arguments fraught with ethos-implications:


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pay No Attention to the Girl Behind the Curtain


A seven-year-old girl was good enough to sing during the Olympics, but not cute enough to be seen on the screen. Seems that the Chinese wanted to put their best face forward in the Olympics, but their actions left a less-than-beautiful impression.

TheWeekDaily.com summed up the stink this way: Chinese officials acknowledged that 9-year-old Lin Miaoke, the girl who sang “Ode to the Motherland” at the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, was lip-synching to the voice of 7-year-old Yang Peiyi, who was deemed insufficiently cute for the occasion. The Windsor Star of Canada asks, "What does it tell us that the 'gap-toothed, chubby faced' Yang, who 'sang her heart out,' gets 'no recognition at all'?

Reminds me of the old Blues Traveler music video, Runaround.




Consider:

  • Can a reader/viewer/audience appreciate Yang Peiyi for her talent without imposing an externalized (culturally constructed) sense of "beauty" of this little girl?
  • Blues Traveler were not a bunch of GQ models, but they were pretty good musicians, weren't they?
  • And the Boston Celtics of old with Bird, Parrish, DJ & McHale? Sure they were photogenically challenged - according to most fashionistas/"pretty police," but man could they play some basketball!
  • That Quasimodo dude in Victor Hugo's book - "ugly" outside, but not inside.
This is yet another example of why rhet/comp/comm/lit pedagogy should encourage "Critical Reading Across Media" (CRAM) to ex/plore, interrogate, invest-igate, the "texts" of society - whether these "texts" exist in/ouside the dominant culture - and whether the "texts" are in print, analog, digital, audio, video or other forms.