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Stereotypes have and will always continue to exist in this world. It’s human nature (or is it?). The threateningly faithful, ever-present thoughts that run through the minds of us humans that make us so vulnerable are the ones that often land us in so much trouble. And why should these words and thoughts hurt as much as they do? It seems to be a societal push towards ignoring the way others think and view you; everyone needs to be accepting of everyone else, after all. Nonetheless, we have these thoughts, these poisonous wisps of vapor that slowly trickle out through our language. And we try to justify them, these thoughts of ours, as if we can’t control our mouths, as if it’s something as small as spilling the milk. The difference? Milk can be cleaned up with a paper towel or a rag; stereotypical thoughts revealed to people take time to heal, if they can be cleaned up at all. The scars left by words leave bigger marks and larger, longer trails of scar tissue than most physical accidents.  And yet, we still excuse these thoughts because “everybody experiences them.” Suddenly puberty isn’t the only thing that every human experiences the same nowadays.

Along with these stereotypes, people are expected to fit in, to conform to the puzzle that society has formed (be fit and formed, in the midst of being accepting). Society tells us we need to be accepting of everyone, then gets upset at us if we don’t like being told how to act (“Accept her, but only if she makes an attempt to fit in.” That’s all society asks for, an attempt. But be aware of failing, as the mercy of the world has begin to run low…) We, as citizens of the world, are expected to fit into the puzzle as if our piece was made to go in a specific place. It’s as if the alternative, the one that decides to have a corner that’s bent out of shape, the one that stands up and doesn’t mold to the social pressure of fitting in, gets thrown out the window or into the garbage. Or, heaven forbid, the puzzle piece gets jammed into place, bent even more, unhappily fitting in its place. However, those that don’t fit seem to be replaceable, as though the maker of the puzzle has extra pieces to use in case one doesn’t fit exactly like he wants, like wild cards to be used at will. And where do the unused, abused, refused pieces go? A mental hospital, a jail or prison, or somewhere else; but NEVER into society. That would be completely unacceptable. Those that have been deemed “outcasts” or that have a “history” have become as deadly as the plague. They are to be avoided at all costs, as if their evil will spread to the rest of us “normal” people.

But not everyone uses their stereotypical thoughts so harshly (because everyone uses these thoughts to some degree, right?). There are those who refuse to be molded, who refuse to listen to the distracting, yelling voices in their heads. They don’t let society tell them who to be friends with. They talk to the criminal as if he was their best friend. (“Hey buddy! Let’s chill later!”) These “friend-whores” seem to know everybody in every social class. Even worse, they seem to be best friends with each and every person they talk to. As if one wasn’t enough, these people need everybody to be their friend (it’s an insecurity, really). And the hypocritical person, the perfect puzzle piece, tells society, “This is who we should try to be like! Try to be like HIM!” Then, to nobody’s surprise, he judges the book by its cover. He stands back, astounded by the accepting attitude of society.

Now, to be completely honest and open (and remember, you must accept me no matter what you read next!), sometimes stereotyping can be a good thing. Used in moderation, in the right time, when the stars are aligned, the weather is perfect, the timing is accurate, and the machines are primed, a stereotypical thought can be a good thing (safety issues, mainly). For instance, if there’s ever a bunch of murders going on around you, don’t ever say “I’ll be right back,” because we all know you won’t be (Thank you, Scream.) With every exception comes a rule: use the common sense that was given to you (and, for those of you who don’t think we were given anything, use the common sense you evolved with). But the instances in which you must use this common sense come far too little in everyday life. Only in scary movies or in New York would you ever need to apply these safe-guards and scapegoats on a regular basis (Things to avoid include: dark alleys, dimly lit rooms, being alone, night, any kitchen knife, your loved ones and closer friends, and dogs—they always seem to attract the killer monsters.). However, the time for these, as has been stated, is rare among the average person in this world.

In today’s society, stereotyping is very looked down upon. It’s a social taboo to judge someone before you know them. Acceptance seems to be the theme of society’s propaganda. If you aren’t accepting EVERYONE, then something must be wrong with you. Of course, hypocrites, those nasty liars, lurk about in innocent manners, pretending to be the accepting person everybody wants to be, pretending to be friendly, to be willing to put up with any social class or background. Sometimes they sit in the dark corners, waiting for their time to point their fingers in accusational innuendos. Other times, these liars glide around in public display, in the spotlight of everyone. And no one sees it coming, the hidden hypocrite waiting to make his appearance. They don’t see it coming because they were too busy accepting everyone and being nonjudgmental. They were too busy trying to make themselves look good, too focused on their own uplifting to notice the signs of the liar. Of course, everyone acts shocked and surprised by this impostor, startled that he was able to live among them so long without anyone noticing. Secretly, though, they’re all just glad this guy exploded and revealed himself before they lost their cool.

That’s when the rumors start, when the stereotypical thoughts become real. The monsters caged in the minds of the caring break out, stronger during this blood-red moon, wreathed in flame and shadow, carrying destruction everywhere they go. Fingers point, threats are thrown, personal attacks are shot like a bow, and all hell breaks loose. The nightmares of the outcasts become the livelihood of the normal people. And suddenly, the roles are switched. The ones who were once stereotyped in the past are now loyally and faithfully accepting every person left and right, ignoring all the accusations. Those throwing the axes and wielding the sword are slapped in the face by the care exhibited by them and their incredibly ability to accept them despite the rumors. The damage done by a simple sentence, by a simple assumption spreads like wildfire, destroying all in its path, betraying its creator and fighting for a never-ending reign. Then, as quickly as it started, the smoky rumors are stomped out. Everything fades back to normal.

Friendships are formed and broken during this hectic time. Society becomes extremely forgiving and accepting of everybody. The mythical utopia the puzzle was meant to be sets itself into motion, spinning slowly at first, then rapidly gaining speed. The picture starts to take form, color filling in, shading in just the right spots, and society begins to grow lazy, unaware of the building rage. But the circling object begins to wobble. In the early process, it wiggles slightly, like a small twitch, hardly noticeable. But it becomes rhythmic and steady, slowly decreasing the amount of time in between each uneasy shake. The hypocrites start to show themselves again, confident in their hiding abilities. The judges start showing their unhappy attitudes towards the “lower” classes. The wildly shaking object loses its balance, tumbling down at the base, falling into the very depths from which it just crawled out. The frame, now broken, tips the focus of society, and the process repeats itself, the war waging again. (Stupid rumors!)

A question arises with this endless process, an important question: where do these stereotypical thoughts form? Does it start young, in the children and adolescents? Or do the parents somehow feed their kids poisoned food, tainted with cruel thoughts? Or is the desire to put down others and rise up selfishly on our own a built in factor, an incurable disease that runs through the blood of the human race? The blood of generations and generations of judgmental, critical ancestors is the blood that runs through the veins of society today. Look to history for examples: America was able to stand against the strongest military force in the world (at the time) because England stereotyped the people of the United States of America. England assumed we were all mentally lower, inferior to them. They didn’t expect the uprising of another culture, so strong in the foundations and beliefs that a new country had to form immediately. The desire, then, to be superior is just a part of being human; it’s just in our blood to stereotype others. Just like the evil monsters, the desire to dominate is something that connects all things, intricate and delicate in its form, fragile and dangerous all the same. That makes two MORE things besides puberty that all of mankind experiences! (Maybe we’re more alike with the creatures of the world than we first thought…)

The sad truth about stereotypes is that they affect everything. No person can escape the clawing thoughts against others. We do what we can, certainly. But it’s in our blood. And it challenges everything. It engrains itself into every single aspect of the human life. Jobs, friends, spouses, and anybody we trust are all decided by stereotypes. They rule our lives, in silent, still dominion. They demand our attention, our love. And they don’t even return the favor! They create feelings in us that we don’t necessarily need or desire. Do we even have control over our thoughts? The human race seems to be run by the thoughts in our minds, and if we can’t control our mind, how came control anything else? Stereotypes are just a stepping stone, just something we need to step on and get over in order to understand. Undermining the power of the stereotype may be a difficult process. But I believe it can be done. Let us throw a third party into the battle, a new group with different views. Not views toward or against stereotypes, no, but a group where stereotypes and the act of stereotyping are nonexistent. That way, the poison can be drained from the bloodstream, the object can spin without falter, and society can be successful.

Stereotypes have and will always continue to exist in this world. It’s human nature (or is it?). The threateningly faithful, ever-present thoughts that run through the minds of us humans that make us so vulnerable are the ones that often land us in so much trouble. And why should these words and thoughts hurt as much as they do? It seems to be a societal push towards ignoring the way others think and view you; everyone needs to be accepting of everyone else, after all. Nonetheless, we have these thoughts, these poisonous wisps of vapor that slowly trickle out through our language. And we try to justify them, these thoughts of ours, as if we can’t control our mouths, as if it’s something as small as spilling the milk. The difference? Milk can be cleaned up with a paper towel or a rag; stereotypical thoughts revealed to people take time to heal, if they can be cleaned up at all. The scars left by words leave bigger marks and larger, longer trails of scar tissue than most physical accidents.  And yet, we still excuse these thoughts because “everybody experiences them.” Suddenly puberty isn’t the only thing that every human experiences the same nowadays. 

Along with these stereotypes, people are expected to fit in, to conform to the puzzle that society has formed. We, as citizens of the world, are expected to fit into the puzzle as if our piece was made to go in a specific place. It’s as if the alternative, the one that decides to have a corner that’s bent out of shape, the one that stands up and doesn’t mold to the social pressure of fitting in, gets thrown out the window or into the garbage. Or, heaven forbid, the puzzle piece gets jammed into place, bent even more, unhappily fitting in its place. However, those that don’t fit seem to be replaceable, as though the maker of the puzzle has extra pieces to use in case one doesn’t fit exactly like he wants, like wild cards to be used at will. And where do the unused, abused, refused pieces go? A mental hospital, a jail or prison, or somewhere else; but NEVER into society. Those that have been deemed “outcasts” or that have a “history” have become as deadly as the plague. They are to be avoided at all costs, as if their evil will spread to the rest of us “normal” people. 

But not everyone uses their stereotypical thoughts so harshly (because everyone uses these thoughts to some degree, right?). There are those who refuse to be molded, who refuse to listen to the distracting, yelling voices in their heads. They don’t let society tell them who to be friends with. They talk to the criminal as if he was their best friend. (“Hey buddy! Let’s chill later!”) These “friend-whores” seem to know everybody in every social class. Even worse, they seem to be best friends with each and every person they talk to. As if one wasn’t enough, these people need everybody to be their friend (it’s an insecurity, really). And the hypocritical person, the perfect puzzle piece, tells society, “This is who we should try to be like! Try to be like HIM!” Then, to nobody’s surprise, he judges the book by its cover. He stands back, astounded by the accepting attitude of society.

In today’s society, stereotyping is very looked down upon. It’s a social taboo to judge someone before you know them. Acceptance seems to be the theme of society’s propaganda. If you aren’t accepting EVERYONE, then something must be wrong with you. Of course, hypocrites, those nasty liars, lurk about in innocent manners, pretending to be the accepting person everybody wants to be, pretending to be friendly, to be willing to put up with any social class or background. Sometimes they sit in the dark corners, waiting for their time to point their fingers in accusational innuendos. Other times, these liars glide around in public display, in the spotlight of everyone. And no one sees it coming, the hidden hypocrite waiting to make its appearance. They don’t see it coming because they were too busy accepting everyone and being nonjudgmental. Of course, everyone acts shocked and surprised. Secretly, though, they’re all just glad this guy exploded and revealed himself before they lost their cool. 

That’s when the rumors start, when the stereotypical thoughts become real. The monsters caged in the minds of the caring break out, stronger during this blood-red moon, wreathed in flame and shadow, carrying destruction everywhere they go. Fingers point, threats are thrown, personal attacks are shot like a bow, and all hell breaks loose. The nightmares of the outcasts become the livelihood of the normal people. And suddenly, the roles are switched. The ones who were once stereotyped in the past are now loyally and faithfully accepting every person left and right, ignoring all the accusations. Those throwing the axes and wielding the sword are slapped in the face by the care exhibited by them and their incredibly ability to accept them despite the rumors. Then, as quickly as it started, the fiery rumors are stomped out. Everything fades back to normal. 

Friendships are formed and broken during this hectic time. Society becomes extremely forgiving and accepting of everybody. The mythical utopia the puzzle was meant to be sets itself into motion, spinning slowly at first, then rapidly gaining speed. But the circling object begins to wobble. In the early process, it wiggles slightly, like a small twitch, hardly noticeable. But it becomes rhythmic and steady, slowly decreasing the amount of time in between each uneasy shake. The hypocrites start to show themselves again, confident in their abilities. The judges start showing their unhappy attitudes towards the “lower” classes. The wildly shaking object loses its balance, tumbling down at the base. The frame, now broken, tips the focus of society, and the process repeats itself, the war waging again. (Stupid rumors!)

A question arises with this endless process, an important question: where do these stereotypical thoughts form? Does it start young, in the children and adolescents? Or do the parents somehow feed their kids poisoned food, tainted with cruel thoughts? Or is the desire to put down others and rise up selfishly on our own a built in factor, an incurable disease that runs through the blood of the human race? The blood of generations and generations of judgmental, critical ancestors is the blood that runs through the veins of society today. Look to history for examples: America was able to stand against the strongest military force in the world (at the time) because England stereotyped the people of the United States of America. England assumed we were all mentally lower, inferior to them. They didn’t expect the uprising of another culture, so strong in the foundations and beliefs that a new country had to form immediately. The desire, then, to be superior is just a part of being human; it’s just in our blood to stereotype others. That makes two MORE things besides puberty that all of mankind experiences! (Maybe we’re more alike than we thought…)

The sad truth about stereotypes is that they affect everything. No person can escape the clawing thoughts against others. We do what we can, certainly. But it’s in our blood. And it challenges everything. It engrains itself into every single aspect of the human life. Jobs, friends, spouses, and anybody we trust are all decided by stereotypes. They rule our lives, in silent, still dominion. They demand our attention, our love. And they don’t even return the favor! They create feelings in us that we don’t necessarily need or desire. Do we even have control over our thoughts? The human race seems to be run by the thoughts in our minds, and if we can’t control our mind, how came control anything else? Stereotypes are just a stepping stone, just something we need to step on and get over in order to understand. Undermining the power of the stereotype may be a difficult process. But I believe it can be done. Let us throw a third party into the battle, a new group with different views. Not views toward or against stereotypes, no, but a group where stereotypes and the act of stereotyping are nonexistent. That way, the poison can be drained from the bloodstream, the object can spin without falter, and society can be successful.

[I’ve been having a very rough time with this assignment. However, I have brainstormed a lot and I believe this topic is probably my best topic yet. Let me know what you think. Suggestions are welcome!]

“The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe” (Berger 141). John Berger and Susan Bordo both wrote about the way people view things in the world. Despite how far apart these pieces were written, they argue very similar points. Both look at the world and go in depth about how and why people look at art in society. They both specifically target something. However, when breaking these pieces down into their very basic arguments, these essays are very different creatures.

Both of these writers were deeply concerned with the shift going on in society in their time. John Berger’s biggest concern was his definition of “mystification,” from Ways of Seeing. “Mystification has little to do with the vocabulary used. Mystification is the process of explaining away what might otherwise be evident” (Berger 146). Berger states, here, that mystification has nothing to do with words. It is merely the overuse of pictures in today’s society. With the ability to reproduce a picture so easily, the meaning of the picture becomes smeared, less legible. A picture only becomes worth something if a large sum of money is placed on it. On discussion of The Virgin and the Child With St. Anne and St. John the Baptist by Leanardo da Vinci, Berger points out something extremely important. He says, “A few years ago, it was known only to scholars. It became famous because an American wanted to buy it for two and a half million pounds. Now it hangs in a room by itself. The room is like a chapel. The drawing is behind bulletproof perspex. It has aquired a new kind of impressiveness. Not because of what it shows — not because of the meaning of its image. It has become impressive, mysterious, because of its market value” (151-2). This passage really becomes an important aspect of society. Here, Berger unlocks the true meaning of mystification. This comment is the definition of mystification. Those with money and power have the ability to mystify a painting. But those with powerful sums of money aren’t the only ones who can truly mystify a painting these days, thanks to the art of reproduction of pictures.

Because of the ability to reproduce images so easily in this world, an original painting means less than what it used to. This is Berger’s concern. An original used to be just that: an original, one-of-a-kind. Now the term is nothing more of an indication that “this painting was actually painted and it isn’t a picture or replica of some other original.” That shift that Berger noticed became very apparent to Susan Bordo. Nearly twenty five years later, Bordo noted a very similar shifting in society. Her publication titled The Male Body: A New Look at Men in Public and in Private includes a chapter called “Beauty (Re)discovers the Male Body.” It’s from this piece that she conducts a very similar argument, focusing on males in advertising. However, despite this major difference, her essay is a chilling recollection of Berger’s essay written in 1999. The shift in society she describes is related to the shift in society that Berger saw. She opens her excerpt with an interesting line: “Putting classical art to the side for a moment, the naked and near-naked female body became an object of mainstream consumption first in Playboy and its imitators, then in movies, and only then in fashion photographs. With the male body, the trajectory has been different” (189). She states right from the gate that she has seen the shift society has been taking. She goes on to state, about being on display, that, “Women may dread being surveyed harshly — being seen as too old, too fat, too flat-chested — but men are not supposed to enjoy being surveyedperiod. It’s feminine to be on display” (193). These are things she’s noticed shifting in society.

Bordo goes on to discuss Calvin Klein ads and how the controversy over them has lessoned significantly. “Inspired by Jockey’s success, in 1983 Calvin Klein put a forty-by-fifty-foot Bruce Weber photograph of Olympic pole vaulter Tom Hintinauss in Times Square, Hitinauss’s large penis clearly discernible through his briefs…The line of shorts ‘flew off the shelves’ at Bloomingdale’s and when Klein papered bus shelters in Manhattan with poster versions of the ad they were all stolen overnight” (199). Where Calvin Klein had recently experienced some uneasy tension with the public, he was returned, this time, with products being sold in large quantities. “It took a survey conducted by The Advocate to jolt corporate America awake about gay consumers. The survey, done between, 1977 and 1980, showed that 70 percent of it’s readers aged twenty to forty earned incomes well above the national median” (Bordo 201). It was at this point in society that American advertising started including the gay consumer in the picture as well as the heterosexual male.

Both Bordo and Berger noted the change they saw in society. But what may seem surprising to the readers of these pieces is the real cause of these changes. How pictures were used and by whom had a serious impact on this subject. The “elite,” as Berger puts it, are the money-holders in society, those billionaires that can control what art is. In Bordo’s case, the ones with money are the ones that can produce and sustain advertisements, so they are the ones that can create the influx of advertisements towards the homosexuals in society. The people with money, the capitalists, the designers, the large companies with advertisements are all those that control art and what we see in society today. They are the ones that change how we see things.

The very first kiss to be ever shown to society in a movie was in the early years of the 1900’s. The public was shocked. A couple kissing in public? But, if one were to go to the movies now, it appears as though every show has at least one kiss. More often than not, there are multiple kisses. Society has become desensitized to kissing publicly since the very first kiss was seen. The same thing can be seen today with men being viewed as sexual objects and art; both are being pushed in a direction that some may not feel comfortable with, and they’re being pushed by the elite class of society, the rich people. That is the argument that Bordo and Berger make. They both saw it being performed at different times in the history of the world by the same kind of people.

So the next time an advertisement is being played on the television, or displayed in a window or in a magazine, think about who put the ad there. Whoever designed the ad placed each object there, in its place, for a specific purpose, for a reason. Think about, as a consumer, the underlying aspects, the silent wink to those in on a joke; is there hidden message to the advertisement? Odds are in the favor of a large amount of winks and elbow-nudges hinting at homosexuality or sexually submissive men. Clearly the elite have the power in society, and they have a very defined agenda. My guess is that, in twenty years, homosexual men will be displayed in advertisements for women’s bras, somehow there to help sell the product. Men will become more vulnerable, sexually, as society ages. At least the elite and their plan have been brought into the light. Thank you Susan Bordo and John Berger!

Works Cited

Berger, John. “Ways of Seeing.” Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. 9th ed. Eds. David Barthalomae and Anthony Petrosky. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011. 139-165. Print.

Bordo, Susan. “Beauty (Re)discovers the Male Body.” Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. 9th ed. Eds. David Barthalomae and Anthony Petrosky. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011. 187-233. Print.

This is just a draft. Clearly, it isn’t finished yet. I plan on making a conclusive and cohesive closing, as well as tying Bordo and Berger’s essays together. Your comments are always welcome!

 

 

 

“The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe” (Berger 141). John Berger and Susan Bordo both wrote about the way people view things in the world. Despite how long apart these pieces were written, they argue very similar points. Both look at the world and go in depth about how and why people look at art in society. They both are very specifically targeting. However, when breaking these pieces down into their very basic arguments, these essays are very different creatures.

Both of these writers were deeply concerned with the shift going on in society in their time. John Berger’s biggest concern was his definition of “mystification,” from Ways of Seeing. “Mystification has little to do with the vocabulary used. Mystification is the process of explaining away what might otherwise be evident” (Berger 146). Berger states, here, that mystification has nothing to do with words. It is merely the overuse of pictures in today’s society. With the ability to reproduce a picture so easily, the meaning of the picture becomes smeared, less legible. A picture only becomes worth something if a large sum of money is placed on it. On discussion of The Virgin and the Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist by Leanardo da Vinci, Berger points out something extremely important. He says, “A few years ago, it was known only to scholars. It became famous because an American wanted to buy it for two and a half million pounds. Now it hangs in a room by itself. The room is like a chapel. The drawing is behind bulletproof perspex. It has aquired a new kind of impressiveness. Not because of what it shows — not because of the meaning of its image. It has become impressive, mysterious, because of its market value” (151-2). This passage really becomes an important aspect of society. Here, Berger unlocks the true meaning of mystification. Those with money and power have the ability to mystify a painting. But even those with powerful sums of money cannot truly mystify a painting these days.

Because of the ability to reproduce images so easily in this world, an original painting means less than what it used to. This is Berger’s concern. An original used to be just that: an original, one-of-a-kind. Now the term is nothing more of an indication that “this painting was actually painted and it isn’t a picture or replica of some other original.” That shift that Berger noticed became very apparent to Susan Bordo. Nearly twenty five years later, Bordo noted a very similar shifting in society. Her publication titled The Male Body: A New Look at Men in Private and in Public includes a chapter called “Beauty (Re)discovers the Male Body.” It’s from this piece that she conducts a very similar argument, with one key difference: instead of focusing on art, she focuses on males in advertising. However, her essay is a chilling recollection of Berger’s essay written in 1999. The shift in society she describes is directly related to the shift in society that Berger saw. She opens her excerpt with an interesting line: “Putting classical art to the side for a moment, the naked and near-naked female body became an object of mainstream consumption first in Playboy and its imitators, then in movies, and only then in fashion photographs. With the male body, the trajectory has been different” (189). She states right from the gate that she has seen the shift society has been taking. She goes on to state, about being on display, that, “Women may dread being surveyed harshly — being seen as too old, too fat, too flat-chested — but men are not supposed to enjoy being surveyed period. It’s feminine to be on display” (193). These are things she’s noticed shifting in society.

Bordo goes on to discuss Calvin Klein ads and how the controversy over them has lessoned significantly. “Inspired by Jockey’s success, in 1983 Calvin Klein put a forty-by-fifty-foot Bruce Weber photograph of Olympic pole vaulter Tom Hintinauss in Times Square, Hitinauss’s large penis clearly discernible through his briefs…The line of shorts ‘flew off the shelves’ at Bloomingdale’s and when Klein papered bus shelters in Manhattan with poster versions of the ad they were all stolen overnight” (199). Where Calvin Klein had recently experienced some uneasy tension with the public, he was returned, this time, with products being sold in large quantities. “It took a survey conducted by The Advocate to jolt corporate America awake about gay consumers. The survey, done between, 1977 and 1980, showed that 70 percent of it’s readers aged twenty to forty earned incomes well above the national median” (Bordo 201). It was at this point in society that American advertising started including the gay consumer in the picture as well as the heterosexual male.

Both Bordo and Berger noted the change they saw in society. But what may seem surprising to the readers of these pieces is the real cause of these changes. How pictures were used and by whom had a serious impact on this subject.

For the citizen of the world, advertising is an everyday thing. It occurs on every channel after or before a suspenseful part in a movie or show or after an episode, in every store (this shouldn’t be surprising), in between songs on the radio, and even on the clothes made for consumers. Advertising is becoming as common to the daily life of a person as breathing is. The very thought of being without advertising may even seem to harm the human race, as it’s become such an important part of our society. But what may surprise people is the change that advertising has gone through, especially recently and especially involving males. Susan Bordo wrote her essay on this shift in society. She brings up some very good points. Men are now being put in the spotlight of being criticized for their looks.

The definition of a man has become a living being, rather than a stone statue. This is because of many things, including advertising. What a man is has been implied by the occupational form of providing for his family; a man was clearly definable when he had to stake out his property and farm and till the land in order to protect and support his family. Nowadays, however, a man can do whatever he wants in life. He can be a hair dresser, a policeman, a mall cashier, or any other beneficiary to society.

For instance, look at the picture above. It doesn’t directly include a man. But the question “you mean a woman can open it?” implies that men usually have the brawn required to open such jars and bottles. It sticks to the underlying definition of what men once were. They were the muscle, the provider, the protector of the family. They were there to open the jars when his wife couldn’t. They were there to put the meat on the table and bring home the bacon. This image implies that a man is muscle and that a woman doesn’t even need a man to open the jar. A woman can now do what a man was once needed for.

As advertising has changed, so has the stereotype of the male body. Women in any time period in any culture are more attracted to the physically fit, buffed up body of one male than the leaner, smaller body of another male. This isn’t to say a girl won’t like a male with a smaller body. But a woman will physically pay a guy more attention if he has broader shoulders, bigger muscles, and is more physically fit. The Calvin Klein ad below is a good example of a male stereotype in advertising. The advertisement isn’t prompting the heterosexual male consumer to look at the body of the model. But to the woman, the exaggerated, defined body of the male in the background screams for attention and physical touch. He becomes the main focus, whereas the actual product the advertisement is for is located in the bottom center of the picture. The entire purpose of advertising is to sell a product. But advertising has become more than the product.

The product of this image is questionable. Is Calvin Klein selling the man, or the cologne? Notice the placement of the two. The man may be in the background, sure, but his eyes are directly challenging the observer, the authority thereof, even the very manliness that makes the observer separate from the picture. His eyes challenge the partaker of this image to figure out who is actually observing who. They distract you from the actual product being sold, which is conveniently placed in a smaller, less outstanding manner at the bottom of the picture. Imagine a scenario in which this picture is placed, in a huge window display, on a busy street in downtown New York. The people walking by wouldn’t notice the small picture of the product. The male in this picture takes up too much space to not be noticed.

Another example of a manly man advertisement is the one shown below. The large boot is clearly the focus of the ad. The brand name on the tongue of the shoe is clean and neat, and it stands out with the orange background. But look at the top and bottom of the shoe. The steel toe in the front of the shirt is scraped up and dirty, the side has mud on it, and the bottom reveals that the shoe has clearly been used. But this shoe isn’t entirely work. Look at the direction the light is coming from. Subconsciously, the consumer will notice the shine the material on the shoe has and the neat, cleanliness of the shoelaces. The precisely detailed and orderly laces and tongue of the shoe show that this boot has more than one use; it’s good for doing the dirty work while looking good.

Now look at the wording of the advertisement itself: “Safety footwear for men who screw, bang, ‘n’ drill.” Needless to say, this is more than intended to be taken in the literal sense. This innuendo reveals to the reader that this man is not only physically fit—because he buys heavy duty shoes to use for physical labor—but he is also sexually active. Also notice, down in the bottom right corner, the wording there: “It’s gonna get dirty.” This reinforces the advertisement’s underlying idea that this isn’t just a flower bed the wearer would be working on. This boot is for the real, dirty, hard-working man.

The next advertisement plays out for the older generation. Men tend to lose their hair as they age. This product is from the hair brand line, “Just for Men.” The smaller text on the page says “The results of a 30-year scientific study of lions in the Serengeti National Park of Tanzania, show that lionesses are more attracted to darker maned beasts.” However, the even smaller text of the product itself can barely be read! The “Just for Men” logo is about as much as can be legibly seen. The larger focus is on the bold, white words. “Lionesses prefer lions with darker manes.” This focuses on the more animalistic sexual behaviors of humans, derived from the behavior from lions. The main point of this advertisement, though, is in the imagery.

The male, lying on the bottom, underneath the female, has very dark hair. This is what the ad is actually trying to sell: the ability for the product to help keep a man’s hair full and dark. The implication, however, with the female on top, changes everything. The way her hair falls across her face shows that her head has been moving recently; it’s very loose, clearly not her focus right now. Her hands placed on each side of his head, and her body being on top of his, show physical dominance over the male. His hands on her shoulders shows he’s not being attacked and he’s trying to push her off; it shows he’s enjoying himself and pulling her closer. For an advertisement about hair, this one took a rather odd twist.

However, all these advertisements seem to be effective. Otherwise, the agency wouldn’t have enough money to produce ads. Susan Bordo’s view on the shifting in society towards men in the advertising campaign is very much a common thing. Males are being portrayed more these days, especially in the advertising genre of culture. Sometimes, the actual product that is trying to be sold can be hidden by the overly dramatic use of a strong male presence in the picture. Take, for instance, the “Just for Men” ad I used. Sure, the ad might actually be effective, but it probably isn’t practical. The former boot advertisement, on the contrary, is very effective. The plain layout with the simple background is extremely informative in a very sensible way. The underlying point in all these advertisements is males in advertising, and this is clearly visible. So the next time you see an advertisement, pay attention to the small, sometimes unnoticeable details. They make the biggest differences.

For the American citizen, advertising is an everyday thing. It occurs on every channel after or before a suspenseful part in a movie or show or after an episode, in every store (this shouldn’t be surprising), in between songs on the radio, and even on the clothes made for the consumers. Advertising is becoming as common to the daily life of a person as breathing is. The very thought of being without advertising may even seem harm the human race, as it’s become such an important part of our society. But what may surprise people is the change that advertising has gone through, especially recently and especially involving males.

The definition of a man has become a living being, rather than a stone statue. This is because of many things, including advertising. What a man is has been implied by the occupational form of providing for his family; a man was clearly definable when he had to stake out his property and farm and till the land in order to protect and support his family. Nowadays, however, a man can do whatever he wants to support his family. And the set-in-stone image that once was a man has blurred a little.
For instance, look at the picture above. It doesn’t directly include a man. But the question “you mean a woman can open it?” implies that men usually have the brawn required to open such jars and bottles. It sticks to the underlying definition of what men once were. They were the muscle, the provider, the protector of the family. They were there to open the jars when his wife couldn’t. They were there to put the meat on the table and bring home the bacon. This image implies that in the implication that a man is muscle.

Now, this isn’t entirely true. Especially in today’s society. This advertisement was used in the 50’s. Much has changed since then. In the 50’s, Harry Truman was president, and he approved the production of the hydrogen bomb. He also gave the speech that was the kick-off of the transcontinental television. Dwight D. Eisenhower also became president. Rosa Parks refused her seat in this century. The first U.S. satellite to successfully orbit Earth, the Explorer I, was launched. And Hawaii and Alaska were added to the great nation we now know as the United States. Since then, much has changed. Apple computer has become a huge, massive industry (ironically, I’m typing this from my iPad), for example. So what once was cannot be said as the same for today.

The next image I have selected shows just how blurred the lines for what a man was and what a man now is. I want to say it’s a corset that the male is wearing, but I’m not entirely sure (women created the names “top,” “shirt,” and “blouse” so they could buy all three and end up with three shirts. What the heck is the difference between them?!?). But whatever this male is wearing, it isn’t normally considered to be something masculine to wear. It has, however, become considered by some to be appropriate to wear by men. But why do some men wear them?

As Susan Bordo points out, men have only recently began to think about physical appearance as women have always done. Men have only recently considered the fact that women can actually look at a male’s body and be disgusted. As I recently posted on Facebook, a woman will never be equal to a man until she can walk down the street with a beer gut and a bald head and still think she’s sexy. This is clearly meant to be humorous, but it has some truth. Men have never been the “fashionistas” that women have been. That is, men haven’t been the fashionistas until very recently. And maybe thats why a man would wear something like this: to appear more attractive because he cares about how women look at him.

Another example of a man in a corset (?) is from the movie Dr. Suess’s The Cat in the Hat. The male character, Larry, tells the mother that he’s going to a meeting. But instead, he goes to his house and sits down an arm chair and removes his dentures. He also releases the corset and lets his true stomach hang loose.

As advertising has changed, so has the stereotype of the male body. Most women in the culture we live in today is more attracted to the physically fit, buffed up body of one male than the leaner, smaller body of another male. The Calvin Klein ad below is a prime example. The advertisement isn’t prompting the heterosexual male consumer to look at the body of the model. But to the woman, the exaggerated, defined body of the male in the background screams for attention and physical touch. He becomes the main focus, whereas the actual product the advertisement is for is located in the bottom center of the picture. The entire purpose of advertising is to sell a product. But advertising has become more than the product.

The product of this image is questionable. Is Calvin Klein selling the man, or the cologne? Notice the placement of the two. The man may be in the background, sure, but his eyes are directly challenging the observer, the authority thereof, even the very manliness that makes the observer separate from the picture. His eyes challenge the partaker of this image to figure out who is actually observing who. They distract you from the actual product being sold, which is conveniently placed in a smaller, less outstanding manner at the bottom of the picture. Imagine a scenario in which this picture is placed, in a huge window display, on a busy street in downtown New York. The people walking by wouldn’t notice the small picture of the product. The male in this picture takes up too much space to not be noticed.

So if advertising isn’t about the product anymore, what is it about? Is it about the people that use the product? If a male uses the Calvin Klein cologne in the picture, will he be more attractive to women because they associate the cologne with the picture? Or is advertising now a form in which companies tell society what to wear and how to wear it, a form of propaganda that has slyly tricked us all? Or is advertising not the true deceiver? Is our own society the master of change, a change that affects advertising? Is the advertisement just a reflection of society and our culture? Can a true answer ever be obtained?

Tyler Briggs

Looking at Pictures

“Original paintings are silent and still in a sense that information never is” (158). This statement holds more truth than first seems apparent. Sometimes this silence that he talks about is exactly like it sounds. Silence. Nothingness. After all, how can a simple, still painting make any noise? How can colors—and sometimes just lines—on some sort of medium communicate in any way besides visual representation to the viewers?

I’m not normally one to be moved by art. I’m not even one to go to an art gallery on a regular basis. My visitations to art galleries only included a hotel in a foreign city with bad weather, limiting my tourist options. But things were different when I found my painting. Untitled #62 was not my original first pick for the painting to write this essay on. No, its awesome beauty and savage intellect spoke to me in a different way than my first choice. But the vibrant colors definitely stood out.

If you haven’t yet observed the painting I chose, take the time to do so now. I want you to have the ability to think what you want about this magnificent work.

You’ve just seen Mr. Belanger’s visually stimulating art. Hopefully this painting created some questions in your mind similar to the questions it created in my mind. The brilliance of the masterfully blended colors have been placed inside your mental database for artwork. According to Berger, your perspective of it and my perspective will be different. Not because I may be taller or shorter than you or the afternoon sun was shining in when I saw it, but it wasn’t when you admired it. No, it’s because your past experiences in this world have led you to feel slightly or drastically different about this image than I did. The only person in this world who could maybe guess at how this picture affected me would my brother, and that’s because we grew up together. I see him almost every day.

When I first saw this picture, I actually stumbled with my thoughts. “What is your meaning, dear one?” I asked the painting. It didn’t force me to feel some specific feeling like paintings of landscapes often do. It guided and lead me to feel ANYTHING. It longed to be the creator of a feeling, regardless of how rude, cruel, nice, and/or gentle that feeling could be. And, as I looked at this painting, I began to be more and more intrigued. I locked eyes with what I envision to be the eyes of something in the painting, and I stared for one minute, two minutes, three, four. The time flew by. I didn’t know how to feel. I tried to comprehend what the picture was of, what the picture was trying to show. And I think it was doing the same to me!

I’m not normally one to be moved by art, but this one was just a bit different. I had to figure out what this painting was, so I asked it just that: “What are you, young one?” It was a new concept to me, the red hair of a possible creature being the face of another creature. So I stepped closer. I tried to see this painting as something of a mystery that I actually could solve—but it really isn’t for me to solve, is it?—so I studied it. Then I took a step back (and in the process nearly knocking over an expensive looking jar vase thingy with some figure as a handle) and examined the painting from further back. Again, I was fixed on the painting. I felt like part of me was involved, but the part of me that wasn’t was trying to rediscover this painting. I couldn’t quite get a grip on this work of art.

I tried to actually assess this painting. The red hair of what appears to be one animal slightly covers the face of another beastly animal. The vibrantly hot flame-like hair lead me to the chicken-like head of the first beast. A protruding beak sits atop the stalky neck of a body lost in space. Oddly enough, a blue orb of swirling yellow and white seems to be placed on the neck of the creature, like a small wing. The wings of thunder, this creature has, thunder orbs that carry it away. But the other creature stands alone, menacingly, partially hidden by the hair of the thunder-flame chicken. It stands protectively, deftly defying the laws of mortal creatures with it’s lidless, still eyes. It stands to monumentally harbor the darkened, swirling space between the two creatures, to intimidate those who dare look upon it. The relationship between these creatures became more fitting, suddenly, as I realized how tight they were.

I thought about what Berger said of people “situating ourselves in” our surrounding landscape. “How should I see you, chosen one?” I noticed I was standing where I should; I was standing in the little aisle and looking at the picture from the assumed position. So I decided to be a little unconventional about my viewing of this piece. After all, I was the only one in the gallery area. So I leaned to my left until I had the picture sideways. I leaned to the right now, laughing quietly at how I had been so easily subjective to the power of this picture and done its crazy bidding, leaning until I about knocked another sculpture out of place. Slightly mortified of how careless I had been, I decided to patrol the room. Like a guard protecting some hidden secret, I scoured the four corners of that little room guarding my little secret, always watching how the light seemed to hide some things and show others that I never would’ve noticed in my “normal” viewing area.

Again, from the far corner, I had a staring contest with the beastly painting. Again, I was compelled to get closer, the painting drawing me in. I fought back this time, resisting, even looking at other pictures to make my mysterious painting jealous. In the end, it won. I couldn’t resist turning back to meet the powerful colors of red, yellow, and (oddly enough) blue. This picture had me in it’s treacherously wonderful claws. And I didn’t mind. I rather enjoyed the experience. After looking like an idiot and a rather odd teenager, I decided this one couldn’t be more complex. It couldn’t mean more to me either. It was the perfect painting.

Berger was right. I agree with him. A person will perceive something differently based off their experiences. I watched multiple people walk by without even a change of expression on their face when they looked at it. I saw others feel the intriguing pull, the power this painting has. I know they felt it. How could they not? But they kept moving. It wasn’t until I talked to the curator that I found another person who felt the same intense pull I did. The gallery attendant herself actually experienced the power I had experienced for the past half hour. She tried to hide it. From who, I haven’t got a clue. But she tried. Only her desire to do her job kept her from falling under this incredible painting’s mighty spell.

Mr. Belanger created an incredibly powerful painting. Whether or not he realized the impact this would have on people when he put his idea into reality is out of the picture (no pun intended). It actually changed my mood. I felt like I had experienced a battle, an unimaginable war when I left. I felt experienced, wise, aged, changed. All for a bit of time at the art gallery.

Ladies and gentleman, I give to you for the second time Mr. Belanger’s Untitled #62:

Untitled #62

Ken Belanger

Tyler Briggs

Looking at Pictures

“Original paintings are silent and still in a sense that information never is.” This sentence, presented in Berger’s essay on page 158, holds more truth than first seems apparent. Sometimes this silence that he talks about is exactly like it sounds. Silence. Nothingness. After all, how can a simple, still painting make any noise? How can colors—and sometimes just lines—on some sort of medium communicate in any way besides visual representation to the viewers?

I’m not normally one to be moved by art. I’m not even one to go to an art gallery on a regular basis. My visitations to art galleries only included a hotel in a foreign city with bad weather, limiting my tourist options. But things were different when I found my painting. Untitled #62 was not my original first pick for the painting to write this essay on. No, its awesome beauty and savage intellect spoke to me in a different way than my first choice. But the vibrant colors definitely stood out.

If you haven’t yet observed the painting I chose, take the time to do so now. I want you to have the ability to think what you want about this magnificent work.

Okay, so you’ve done that now, right? You’ve seen Mr. Belanger’s visually stimulating art and have therefore been impacted by it. The brilliance of the masterfully blended colors have been placed inside your mental database for artwork. According to Berger, your perspective of it and my perspective will be different. Not because I may be taller or shorter than you or the afternoon sun was shining in when I saw it, but it wasn’t when you admired it. No, it’s because our past experiences in this world have led you to feel slightly or drastically different about this image than I did. The only person in this world who could maybe guess at how this picture affected me would my brother, and that’s because we grew up together. I see him almost every day.

When I first saw this picture, I actually stumbled with my thoughts. It didn’t force me to feel some specific feeling like paintings of landscapes often do. It guided and lead me to feel ANYTHING. It longed to be the creator of a feeling, regardless of how rude, cruel, nice, and/or gentle that feeling could be. And, as I looked at this painting, I began to be more and more intrigued. I locked eyes with what I envision to be the eyes of something in the painting, and I stared for one minute, two minutes, three, four. The time flew by. I didn’t know how to feel. I tried to comprehend what the picture was of, what the picture was trying to show. And I think it was doing the same to me!

Now, like I said earlier, I’m not normally one to be moved by art. But this one was just a bit different. It was a new concept to me, the red hair of a possible creature being the face of another creature. So I stepped closer. I tried to see this painting as something of a mystery that I actually could solve—but it really isn’t for me to solve, is it?—so I studied it. Then I took a step back (and in the process nearly knocking over an expensive looking jar vase thingy with some figure as a handle) and examined the painting from further back. Again, I was fixed on the painting. I felt like part of me was involved, but the part of me that wasn’t was trying to rediscover this painting. I couldn’t quite get a grip on this work of art.

I thought about what Berger said of people “situating ourselves in” our surrounding landscape. I noticed I was standing where I should; I was standing in the little aisle thing and looking at the picture from the assumed position. So I decided to be a little unconventional about my viewing of this piece. After all, I was the only one in the gallery area. So I leaned to my left until I had the picture sideways. I leaned to the right now, laughing quietly at how I had been so easily subjective to the power of this picture and done its crazy bidding, leaning until I about knocked another sculpture out of place. Slightly mortified of how careless I had been, I decided to patrol the room. Like a guard protecting some hidden secret, I scoured the four corners of that little room guarding my little secret, always watching how the light seemed to hide some things and show others that I never would’ve noticed in my “normal” viewing area.

Again, from the far corner, I had a staring contest with the beastly painting. Again, I was compelled to get closer, the painting drawing me in. I fought back this time, resisting, even looking at other pictures to make my mysterious painting jealous. In the end, it won. I couldn’t resist turning back to meet the powerful colors of red, yellow, and (oddly enough) blue. This picture had me in it’s treacherously wonderful claws. And I didn’t mind. I rather enjoyed the experience. So, after looking like an idiot and a rather odd teenager, I decided this one couldn’t be more complex. It couldn’t mean more to me either. It was the perfect painting.

Berger was right. I agree with him. A person will perceive something differently based off their experiences. I watched multiple people walk by without even a change of expression on their face when the looked at it. I saw others feel the intriguing pull, the power this painting has. I know they felt it. How could they not? But they kept moving. It wasn’t until I talked to the curator that I found another person who felt the same intense pull I did. The gallery attendant herself actually experienced the power I had experienced for the past half hour. She tried to hide it. From who, I haven’t got a clue. But she tried. Only her desire to do her job kept her from falling under this incredible painting’s mighty spell.

Mr. Belanger created an incredibly powerful painting. Whether or not he realized the impact this would have on people when he put his idea into reality is out of the picture (no pun intended). It actually changed my mood. I felt like I had experienced a battle, an unimaginable war when I left. I felt experienced, wise, aged, changed. All for a bit of time at the art gallery.

Ladies and gentleman, I give to you for the second time Mr. Belanger’s Untitled #62:

Untitled #62

Ken Belanger

It terms of being—and by being, I mean actually existing—a lot of thinking must take place. This brings cogito ergo sum into a whole new light. In an almost literal sense, one must be able to think to actually be alive. After all, what’s the point in existing if you can’t think? Philosophy is actually something I really enjoy, so Freire’s comments about existing creates many doors to many new conversations. 

In a completely different sense, a lot more thinking must be done for a college English class! But the questions arise almost immediately: what are we thinking about? and why are we thinking? Now, it can’t be said that any teacher of any class is ever forcing any of his or her students to think. But the teacher of a class usually has plans for learning, plans beyond what the students can understand. This, in the “Banking” concept, gives the teacher power. It gives the teacher more knowledge, and, like the poster in my high school calculus teacher’s class says, “knowledge is power.” This agency brings the students down to a lower level then the teacher. It forces the students to pay attention to everything the instructor has to teach, mostly because they don’t have the authority of the teacher and they must respect him or her. The “Banking” method forces authority into the teacher’s hands and nobody else’s. Therefore, the students must give the teacher their full respect. 

This is different in a problem-posing classroom setup. It isn’t that the two groups—the teacher and the students—don’t respect each other. Is that the authority, although still fully in the teacher’s hands, is applied to the learning process in a different way. The teacher is there to guide the students to think of things in a different light, like thinking of a writing in a different sense. But, unlike the former method of teaching, the problem-posing form includes the teacher in the learning circle. The instructor, just like any of the students, is there to learn. But he or she must learn from the students, while the students learn from their own thought processes, which are guided by the teacher. It’s a cyclical cycle that allows learning to flow smoothly and efficiently.

But, like I said before, I like philosophy, and I must therefore ask this question: can the perfect, cyclical problem-posing method be correctly applied by any teacher for any more than an hour? Any more, even, then ten minutes? This would mean that the teacher would just be there to prod the students forward on a subject, and that subject would lead to more subjects, and it would continue to branch in an endless manner. But is this really what teaching is about? What this really would create is a long, extended discussion about one thing that either flows or shifts roughly to another subject until the teacher and the students can no longer learn. This would also mean that the teacher, because of the problem-posing format, would be equal to a student, and therefore shouldn’t have access to teacher notes. This would force us all, teacher and student alike, to create a long discussion regarding the reading, without the help of the prodding. It could possibly be done, but it would take a lot of thinking.

So, in Freire’s writing, his agency isn’t really any more then a teacher attempting to prod students to think like a teacher. Then the education system becomes about seeing things like the teacher sees them, which is exactly what the “oppressors” try to do. The role of teachers shouldn’t be to force students to think like them; it should be more about getting the students to think on their own, to form their own thoughts about things, to question the reality about this very world, and to prove why existence itself involves education at all. 

The common roles I’ve experienced are more of the former, than the latter. I’ve only ever received two F’s on any English assignments. Ever in the history of my total 12 years of education. Ever. I can honestly say I was crushed both times. Writing is just as much an art form as music, yet I was wrong in my writings because I didn’t follow the rules (art doesn’t have rules, in case you weren’t aware of that). I was being oppressed, suppressed, and stressed. Both these examples were forms of oppression to create liberation, however. And that, I believe, is what the “Banking” concept is about.

Because humans were designed to be social creatures, we need the prodding of others to help get our minds on the right track. And so, the best problem-posing form of education involves enough oppression to create rebellion and creativeness. Whether or not this can be done perfectly, I know not. But I do know that it takes the utmost respect by both groups of the learning environment to create the successful, proposed problem-posing situation Freire suggested. Looking back through the essay and discussing it with the class has shown me just how incredibly complex this process is. I hope we, as a class, can get this process down to the t!

I would be willing to bet that one out of every five people in this world has an iPod of some sort or some other form of portable music device. An incredibly large amount of those people are probably losing their hearing slowly, day by day, due to this speculation (“…huh?”). But it isn’t the volume of their music that concerns me. In fact, I could honestly care less what people listen to or how loud. I don’t mean it to be offensive, of course. But your choices are your own. Either way, music means more than most people give it credit for.

According to dictionary.com’s iPod app, music is defined as such: an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color (definition 1). Let’s take a moment to think about this. Since when was the last time you thought of the music you’re listening to as an art form? Most people don’t think of it as such, although I’m not saying you don’t. If you have thought about music as an art recently, good for you. It takes a lot of actual thinking about thinking to approach music as an art form. It doesn’t come naturally to many of us humans.

Moving on, music expresses. That shouldn’t surprise people these days. Rap music is just that: somebody talking with a few rhymes, a background beat, and boom, there’s some rap for ya. Even some newer pop music is like that. Now, please don’t take this as me saying I hate rap. Because I don’t. It’s certainly for specific audiences, I think, but it’s not bad music at all. More importantly than just the rap genre, music is here to express our ideas and emotions. All music is used to get points across to the listener. Most of the time, this is a pretty basic concept. But, like I said, this is only most of the time. Sometimes, music is just here to entertain (and believe me, I’ve got some pretty entertaining music on my playlist). But music is more than just an art form.

Music is communication. It’s a different medium for conversation, for the translation and transmission of our thoughts. These mediums come in the forms of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color, according to my nifty app. Rhythm is something most people are innately born with, and it’s even easier to find and locate in music. Especially with the help of video games like Guitar Hero and Rockband. It comes in small toys we get our children, with a pull-lever that releases and emits a nifty song—and usually one that tends to get stuck in our heads all day. Rhythm comes naturally to us.

Melody, according go dictionary.com, is the next medium. Along with rhythm, the melody of a song is usually easy to identify. Most tunes for the younger people of our world, like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” are very recognizable and memorizable; most adults could at least hum the melody, if not sing the actual words. Melody is easy.

Harmony in music can be a little more difficult to pick out. This isn’t based off the harmony married couples (sometimes attempt to) experience; it’s the other way around. A perfect harmony involves, scientifically speaking, exact wavelengths played together. To an untrained ear, the pitches don’t need to be exact. But to those people who play instruments, for instance, a pitch must be perfect before harmony is created. Believe it or not, even most pianos are, technically speaking, out of tune. But most people don’t even know this, and even fewer can actually tell. A perfect harmonic pitch is one of the most beautiful sounds ever heard upon this earth. I strongly urge you to find a way to listen to perfect harmony, and I’d be more than happy to help find examples in which you can hear this amazing, natural phenomenon.

The last bit about music that my app says is color. Music is colorful? Believe it or not, it has just as much color as a painting. But this color is visible to everyone who can hear. And even those who cannot (I believe it was Mozart who was deaf, but I’m not entirely sure). If you’ve ever watched a movie and paid any attention whatsoever, you probably noticed this. Chances are, it’s a subconscious sort of awareness. Most film soundtracks have some sort of dissonance in them. And it’s from this dissonance that colors are created. Colors of sound. It’s an amazing thing to notice! If you aren’t for sure if you’ve ever noticed this, ask me or some piano player to play a major chord, then a minor chord. That’s all it takes. Given the right expressiveness, this creates more sonorous colors than visible to the eye. And it is actually worth the few moments of time it takes to hear these colors.
So the next time you listen to music, pay attention to what it is you’re listening to. There are good chances that whatever it is has many more, deeper levels to it than you’ve ever noticed. Music is becoming so influential in today’s society, but the actual definition of it is being misconstrued. It’s time that gets changed!