Peer Review # 2

The subject for my peer review is Zoe Arnold Sharon Vedova’s blog page The Armageddon and Me. Zoe’s page is interesting and different. The page is basically a quirky and satirical take on life after the Armageddon with insightful little bites into how life “used to be”. It’s a kick, for sure. Monique Sherrett states that “storytelling for business  is important. It builds understanding, emotional connections and develops relationships. All things companies want”. (Sherrett, 2012)Whether Zoe plans to carry this page past this class or not doesn’t really matter because she shows on the site that she already has the skills that she needs when it comes to storytelling and its relation to professional branding. On her site, through her blogs, she shows that she can use the art of story telling to engage in interesting commentary and satirical takes on facets of society from an interesting angle. That angle being, the end of the world. It’s interesting and its fun and she’ll be able to use it when this class is over.

If I were to make any criticisms to her site is that the site doesn’t say all that much about her. The reader may enjoy the immersion into this dystopia world she’s crafted that’s left her alone to reflect on what used to be, but there is a disconnect without there being a human to connect with. This is understandable though since her blog is largely dependant on the character and voice she has established through her site.

The design element of her website is interesting and has plenty of contrast with the contact. When you see the word “armageddon” you think doom and gloom but when a viewer sees this site there is plenty of flair and character to be seen in how it has been put together. Zoe uses GIFs as links to her various entries ranging from an exploding house to a sky alight with lightening. She finds a way of matching the dystopian element of her blog with some fun in how she presents her layout.

Jordan Peele – First black screenwriter to win best original screenplay

3 years ago #Oscarsowhite hit the social media trending columns and conversations about representation have never been the same. There was always conversation about how representation in film was a problem in the Hollywood scene but the #oscarsowhite movement is what shoved the whole issue onto an award stage for everyone to see and made the entire ceremony in 2015, and every year after, a converging point for this one issue.

This year was a landmark year where the screenwriter for iconic horror/thriller film Get Out, Jordan Peele became the first ever black screen writer to win best original screenplay. This is a big deal for a couple reasons. Get out, in itself, was a culturally important movie. The whole movie particularly touches upon how white liberals perceive black identity to revolve significantly around aesthetics and athleticism. The film centers around a man named Chris meeting his white girlfriends parents for the first time. He finds himself in a small community of mostly older white people and some black men and women. As the film progresses he finds that the black people in the community bare a striking resemblance to black people that went missing over the years and eventually learns that the white woman whom he is dating has been romantically luring black men and women to the community for the purpose of having the white people within the community transplant their consciousness within black bodies, and live out their lives being black. The films major theme is the celebration of black bodies in terms of athleticism and the like with the disregard for black lives.

In some ways this is a big deal. Jordan Peele is the first black screenwriter to win this award and in that sense, it’s ground breaking for sure. However, also bare in mind that not one person of colour won an acting award at this years Oscars. Could it be that there weren’t any strong portrayals by actors of colour in a year old Hollywood movies? Or did the year that produced the likes of Ghost in the Shell – yet another film whitewashing a role that could’ve easily gone to a woman of colour – just fail to have any coloured actors in notable movies?

Black Panther: Why it matters, and why it doesn’t

Image result for black panther

Unless you’ve never heard of the likes of Hancock starring Will Smith, the Blade series starring Wesley Snipes, Spawn starring Michael Jai White or Catwoman with Halle Berry, Black Panther is not the first superhero film starring a black lead. Don’t get me wrong. All of the movies named were almost universally panned by critics. But they do exist. So, why does Black Panther matter so much? What makes this movie so pivotal in a way that the films I named and a few others fell miserably flat?

Black Panther is important for a number of reasons. One of the major ones is that there is a much greater outcry for representation than there was when these other films were released. Another reason, with this one setting Black Panther apart from other movies starring black leads, is that Black Panther is largely focused on taking pride in being black. Having a superhero flick starring a black lead isn’t new. Having a superhero flick that stars a black lead, alongside a largely black supporting cast, that delivers the message in taking pride in ones heritage? Revo-fucking-lutionary.

Beyond that, this film sets another standard. If you were to look at a variety of films that star a largely black cast and focus the story around black skin, you will find a clusterfuck of movies telling stories of slavery, oppression and the like with little that resembles the escapism that comes with films centred on white characters. While telling stories about subverting oppressive forces is important as that is a large part of what shaped black North American history, the cultural identity of black skin in films has become tied to the idea that to have coloured actors in films means that there absolutely needs to be a story of civil inequality. Shocking as it may seem, people of colour don’t mind the occasional escapist, action adventure fantasy flick starring themselves every now and then. This is why Black Panther has been such a massive cultural hit and why it matters so much. It offers a refreshing take on black identity, and is just a genuinely good film.

Now that I’ve gotten the ‘why it matters’ out of the way, lets talk about why it doesn’t. Black Panther may be a much needed addition to the obnoxiously caucasian world of superhero films but this a drop in an ocean that is overflowing on every level with white superheroes. This is the first marvel movie starring a black superhero since Blade (the last instalment of which came out a short 14 years ago). The DC live action world has still not had a single film starring a black character in the lead role and as for television, DC has multiple shows on the CW network, The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow, ALL led by mostly white, male (except for super girl) leads. CW also has Black Lightning, one show out of 5 starring a black male lead. Marvel also has one show out of their 6 (Punisher, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Iron Fist, Defenders and Luke Cage)  with a black lead. So, basically, out of 11 TV shows and over 20 movies (between Marvel and DC over the last 10 years) there have been 2 television shows and 1 film with non-white leads. So, if you were wonder why Black Panther, while iconic and a legitimately amazing movie, doesn’t really make all that much of a difference in the grand scheme when even roles that could feasibly, easily, go to coloured actors (looking live action adaptations of Japanese anime’s Deathnote, Dragonball Z and Ghost in the Shell), thats why. Black Panther is great. However, the world of Hollywood has a lot more work to do before the intention behind Black Panther can be taken seriously. 



Process Post : Todd Maffin

Todd Maffin was an interesting guest to have in class and for the first time actually had me give some thought to customer service representatives that handle social media interactions for various brands. I have noticed that various major brands, whether they be retailers, or any other type of business, have facebook pages that their clients or patrons post reviews on. The feedback is often met with an extremely professional, yet friendly representative engaging with the consumer by either thanking them for their feedback or addressing their concern and inviting them to a direct message conversation to discuss the matter further.

Todd Maffin outlined the importance of this approach to customer relations on  behalf of large brands. It is one thing to receive an email from a huge retailer after giving or sending them negative feedback and a wholly other thing to address a concern on a more personal platform such as Facebook. It changes the game entirely and gives a client the illusion that they are speaking with someone directly and that their concern is being handled. It is the difference between receiving an email from a faceless representative and interacting with an actual human, even if it is over social media.

I found this useful as it really emphasized the importance of communicating with anyone who engages with your value proposition. When you treat consumers as more than just means to your monetary goals they have a higher likelihood of continuing their relationship with your service.

Weinstein/Spacey VS Ansari/Takei : Why did some careers end and others continue?

Why does it seem like the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Louis CK have had their careers buried by the sexual assault allegations against them, but with Aziz Ansari and George Takei, the effect seemed starkly different. Here are my thoughts.

Obviously, these cases are, by and large, different and can only really be handled on a case by case basis. We have people like Weinstein, Spacey, and CK who have had multiple accusers all saying varying degrees of the same thing. There were plenty of shovels to go around to dig their graves, so to speak. Ansari and Takei on the other hand have had one accuser each. In Takei’s case, his accuser sounds a lot like Kevin Spaceys accusers, which really brings Takei’s career being intact while Spaceys is in shambles, down to sheer volume of accusers. With Ansari, while it did leave a sour taste in his fans mouths, it was quite the divisive story among even the most liberal, left wing, feminist communities. People didn’t and still don’t know what to think of Ansari.

That’s one explanation. Here’s another. This perspective may bring some light to what could be perceived as left wing hypocrisy because these two icons, aside from being actors, are also popular converging platforms for leftwing social politics. The reasons that these two actors may not have the career destroying spot light shinning on them is because they are so very dear to the communities they represent. George Takei is easily one of the earliest Asian American actors to grace the small screen and he is still one of the only prominent ones out there. Couple that with the fact that he is a LGBT Asian American who speaks out about issues relevant to both the Asian community and the LGBT community, having to drown this mans career is likely not a happy prospect. In the case of Ansari, aside from many being unsure where he falls on the sexual assault spectrum, if he falls on it at all, he sits mostly in the same boat. South Asians have never seen something like Aziz Ansari on screen. We’ve also never had an icon that was generally a positive role model either, who espoused decent values and had a good public image until the allegation surfaced. A lot of people are decidedly undecided on Aziz Ansari. However, Asians of all stripes can agree that we don’t want to lose two of our biggest icons. The same didn’t hold true for Spacey, Weinstein and CK because, quite frankly, Hollywood is overrun with people whom look like them. The allegations against Ansari and Takei put the Asian American community in an unfortunate place where they have to choose between hanging on to their beloved icons or trusting their accusers.

Process Post : Matt Shea

A class with the guest speaker Matt Shea was something to experience for sure. Matt Shea being a popular Youtuber with a gaming channel and a legion of followers appeared on a video call to the class and schooled us on how to maintain a personal brand. His message really only came down to one singular concept and that concept was to simply, well, stay relevant. Matt Shea did this by not only being a gamer but by also veering off when the topic of conversation was big enough. Logan Paul for example was a big enough point of interest for Matt Shea to stray from being a channel just for gamers to being a channel for anyone who is connected to the community of popular Youtubers. Logan Paul, making a video where he went into Japans “suicide forest” and disrespecting a body he found went viral. Matt Shea said himself that he capitalized on the polarization of the youtube event and made his own video commenting on it. His video also went viral polarizing his own fans into “for” and “against” categories in regards to his opinion on Logan Paul. Matt Shea understands the concept of staying relevant with current interests and this is something I hope to keep in mind for my own brand. Considering I am doing a blog on popular culture and politics staying relevant and creating content with the potential to polarize readers is something that is integral to my success as a blogger.

Process Post : Echo Storytelling

Today we had guest speakers from Echo Storytelling. Without getting into all the details of their presentation, the resonating message of their organization seemed to be the importance of a brand doing more than just communicating a “message” but telling a story. Much like the athletic brand Nike which has the phrase “Just Do It” as their catch phrase, the three words are much more than just a phrase. Regardless of what their advertising campaigns are about the underlying message always comes back to “just do it”, irrespective of what “it” is. These three simple words and simple cliche phrase has been what carries every story related to Nike so that in Nike’s over hanging story throughout the existence of their brand is always echoed in the individual stories in specific advertising campaigns.

I found that this was really relevant to my blog because, as my blog is about social issues and their intersection with popular culture, there is a clear narrative that I am attempting to tie all of my posts to. The point of having a central narrative, or story, is to offer a sense of cohesiveness to a brand, and in my case, that narrative is how social issues, whether they are racial stereotypes, societal stigmas, gender norms, and other problematic aspects of our culture, all take centre stage in popular media.

Process post – Analytics

Understanding the analytics behind your social media platforms helps understand how your brand is being received with your audience, or prospective audience. Analytics helps establish trends in how your content is being viewed. For example, do you get more traffic in terms of viewership, readership, likes, comments, etc, when you post during the day or evening. What type of content do people easily engage with and what time of content is most often ignored. This is the nature of what analytics helps you understand. What can you do with this information?

It’s really quite simple. Using tools such as Google Analytics will help you understand trends and, if you read them correctly, capitalize on them. This would make the blogger or content creator more consistent with their posts, and the nature of their content, as they now know what works and what doesn’t.

Why Rose McGowan Isn’t Worth Your Time

We all know her story by now of being assaulted and harassed by sexual predator Harvey Weinstein. While no-one in their right mind would defend Weinstein and anyone with at least some moral fibre can sympathize with McGowan, there are plenty of reasons why McGowan is, well, trash.

McGowan has had a history of making homophobic and transphobic comments, some of which she has apologized for and some of which she hasn’t. She worked with known convicted child molester and pornographer Victor Salva and said “I still don’t really understand the whole story or history there, and I’d rather not, because it’s not really my business. But he’s an incredibly sweet and gentle man” of the experience. She one said that gay men are more misogynistic than straight men and that the gay community fought for the right to “wear speedos” and take MDMA. She apologized for her comments to the gay community and thats all well and fine, but Rose McGowan can’t seem to stop herself from being Rose McGowan.

A variety of news outlets have recently reported that before her interview with Stephen Colbert on his Late Show, McGowan was at a reading promoting her new book, entitled Brave. At that reading an audience member spoke up asking her to address a comment she made on RuPaul stating that “[trans women] assume because they felt like a woman on the inside. That’s not developing as a woman. That’s not growing as a woman, that’s not living in this world as a woman, and a lot of the stuff I hear trans complaining about, yeah, welcome to the world”. The audience member continued to state that trans women are raped more often, abused more often and killed more often than cis-women at which point she was cut off by McGowan saying “Hold on. So am I. We are the same. My point was, we are the same. There’s an entire show called ID channel, a network, dedicated to women getting abused, murdered, sexualized, violated, and you’re a part of that, too, sister. It’s the same” but when accused of being exclusionary to trans women she said “Don’t label me, sister. Don’t put your labels on me. Don’t you f—ing do that. Do not put your labels on me. I don’t come from your planet. Leave me alone. I do not subscribe to your rules. I do not subscribe to your language. You will not put labels on me or anybody. Step the f— back. What I do for the f—ing world and you should be f—ing grateful. Shut the f— up. Get off my back. What have you done? I know what I’ve done, God dammit”.

How can you claim to be an alley for marginalized groups, but when pressured to talk about how far your solidarity extends, you are unable to provide a non-reactionary answer? It seems that McGowan here had to face the reality she isn’t hailed as a hero by everyone which led to her resorting to calling out the audience member saying suggesting that she (Rose) has done more for the world then the person questioning her ever has. Sure, she has done more. But not everyone is privileged enough to find themselves – largely through the sheer luck of being born an attractive white woman – a large enough platform to make a difference. While I am 100% on her side against Weinstein, Rose McGowan is as arrogant as an activist for a cause gets where her only real activism is for herself.

Process Post: Branding

Today we discussed branding. Unlike the idea of a traditional “brand”, which often exist in forms of large corporate bodies, the professional self is it’s own brand. Much like a corporate brand such as sports brand Nike or telecommunications brand Rogers have to present a positive brand image, the professional self exists to promote a brand that is also true to itself and its own values. When it comes to social media interactions and public image, brands, when they actually do involve themselves in discussions about social or political issues, often try to stick to messages that offer them a positive public image. As my brand with this page would be one that discusses popular culture in a social and political light, my brand would rely less on maintaining a positive image (however, that IS important) and more on presenting prominent public image. While it is important that the ideas I present are received positively by the wide public it is much more important that my brand doesn’t get lost in over saturated market of politically charged bloggers out there.