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Comics were never a large part of my childhood. I knew basic characters like Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, and Spiderman from the animated television shows. However, I have never read a comic book from DC Comics or Marvel. I became more familiar with the superheros when they started creating the films over the past 10 years. After watching the movie in class, I realized how much I missed out by never picking up a comic book.

Malcolm Wheeler-Nelson began National Allied Publications in 1934, what would later become D.C Comics, during the Great Depression. He later hired Irwin Donenfield and Jack Liebowitz after facing financial troubles (“A Peep into DC Comics History)”. As the movie said this began the Golden Age of Comics. Donenfield and Liebowitz were both poor and drew their character inspiration from the ambitions they had for themselves. Instead of the poor,beaten up kid, they drew Superman, man of steel and power. Instead of the poor boy, they drew Batman, rich playboy by day and superhero by night. The comics became an instant hit, hence the name the Golden Age. Wonder Woman was introduced after Superman and Batman by psychologist William Moulton Marston. When the United States entered WWII, the comics became more patriotic. Superman often fought Hitler and all the characters supported the US and its soldiers. Comic book sales were up and the industry continued to grow in the Golden Age. However, with the end of WWII, DC comics began to struggle. The superheroes could no longer fight petty crimes after the US had fought a war. The lack of appropriate content led to a fall of comic book sales and to the beginning of the Silver Age (“Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics”).

Wonder Woman as she appeared in the Golden Age. Over the years, Wonder Woman's appearance changed from a skirt to shorts to a leotard type outfit.

The Silver Age of DC Comics, beginning in the 1950’s, saw the introduction of the Green Lantern and Batwoman (“A Peep into DC Comics History). However, although the Silver Age produced new characters, sales continued to drop. The superheroes became more domestic, as Superman became more concerned with his family and Wonder Woman with her boyfriend. The comics struggled and eventually new artists were brought in, each one with more changes to improve the flailing industry. The Silver Age also saw the introduction of Superhero television shows, keeping the characters alive (“Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics”).

The focus of comics turned to the family during the Silver Age, as seen by the many issues revolving around Superman's family.

The Bronze Age of DC Comics began in he 70’s. The Bronze Age saw a redesign of the characters and the introduction of social issues. Using Green Arrow and Green Lantern, DC comics began showing the effects of drug abuse. Green Lantern was used as a contrast to Green Arrow. Green Lantern seemed clueless to the world, always helping other planets, but never his own, until Green Arrow showed him the problems his world faced. The contrast was used to draw the audience back in, showing that DC Comics may have ignored social issues, but they were not going to anymore. The Bronze Age also saw redesigns of the characters. Flash became a chemically induced character with an updates costume. This was a start to the heavy emphasis on where the superheroes came from and why they became super (“Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics”).

Flash during the Bronze Age with the updated costume.

My favorite Superhero is Batman, though as I mentioned before I have not read the comics. I have seen the recent Dark Knight movies, and while the casting plays a somewhat large role in my decision, I like the idea of a normal, rich person choosing to become a superhero. Batman created himself. He trains to learn different forms of fighting and overcomes his fears himself without a special chemical concoction. I also like the idea of using technology as his main source of weaponry. While I do not know of any weapon that can make a man fly, Batman cannot fly naturally on his own making him a man-made superhero. I think there is a stronger connection between Americans and Batman because he is man made, not the result of chemicals or an alien sent to Earth.
“A Peep into DC Comics History.” Wonder Woman. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <http://www.wonderwomanfordc.com/overview-of-dc-comics/a-peep-into-dc-comics-history.html&gt;.

Guerro, Tony. The 8 Most Important Wonder Woman Costumes. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <http://www.comicvine.com/news/the-8-most-important-wonder-woman-costumes/138239/&gt;

Joyce, Nick. “Wonder Woman: A Psychologist’s Creation.” Time Capsule 39.11 (2008): 20.American Psychological Association (APA). APA. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <http://www.apa.org/monitor/2008/12/wonder-woman.aspx&gt;.

Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics. Prod. Jeffrey Blitz. Dir. Mac Carter. Perf. Ryan Reynolds. DC Enterntainment, 2010. DVD.

“Silver Age Comics.” : Fifty Years Ago Today. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <http://sacomics.blogspot.com/2009/03/fifty-years-ago-today.html&gt;.

“The Flash! Speedy ’76 Neal Adams Art! Super DC Comics Calendar!” Big Glee! The Albert Bryan Bigley Archives! 25 Feb. 2012. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <http://bigglee.blogspot.com/2012/02/flash-speedy-76-neal-adams-art-super-dc.html&gt;.

 

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A comparison of The Piano and Pride and Prejudice quickly shows that verbiage is not the key element to a successful film. Both films heavily rely on facial expressions to show the feelings of the characters. Ada and Elizabeth would express their disgust, fear, and happiness with their eyes and other facial features. Both Holly Hunter, Ada, and Jennifer Ehle, Elizabeth, have sharp eyes, which the actress easily utilized in their facial expressions. Both films also rely on the still shots of the setting to express the passage of time between night and day, as well as the change of setting from one environment to the next. The Piano used shots of Baines’ house to show that it was another piano lesson, also signifying the passage of time since Ada’s and Flora’s arrival to New Zealand.

The similarities between the two films show that the use of verbiage does not overcome the visual elements in either film, and the use of visual elements does not overcome the verbiage in either film. However, the two films are very different. While Pride and Prejudice focuses on expressing the story of the novel it is based upon, The Piano relies heavily on the portrayal of the affair its plot is centered upon.

Pride and Prejudice brings the visual element to the classic story by Jane Austen. The movie emphasizes Austen’s wit through the spoken exchanges between the characters. As the movie was based off of Austen’s novel, the element of language was crucial in keeping the movie like the novel. However, although there is a heavy reliance on the language, it would not be fair to say the film is merely one of script and not visual elements. With the difficulty of the language, the director Simon Langton had to use the acting abilities of the actors to help the clarity of the story. Langton uses close up shots of each characters faces allowing the characters’ facial expressions to portray the emotions of all characters.

The expression of discontent is very clearly seen by the stern eyes and tight lips.

However, because of the close up shots, there is a stiff posture held by each character allowing for little other body movements. When the characters did express their emotions through body language, it seemed stressed and forced. The natural bodily movement were nervous ticks, such as Elizabeth raising a hand to her head. The movie also relied on the setting to express wealth. The long shots of the different houses were used to show the levels of wealth of the owners. Catherine DuBourgs house compared to the Bennet home showed the very large difference in wealth.  Overall, the movie relied heavily on the language, the facial expressions of the characters, and the long, drawn out shots of the setting. However, it would be unfair to say that the movie did not contain visual elements, and only relied on the language. Without the facial expressions and shots of the setting, the complexity would over shadow the movie making it near impossible to understand.

The Piano relies heavily on visual images to portray the thoughts and emotions of mute Ada McGrath.  The music she plays often shows how Ada feels. A light tune would show happiness while a deeper, darker melody showed her unhappiness. The piano symbolized much more than her feelings. It symbolized her freedom, happiness, and love. When her new husband leaves her beloved Piano on the beach, it foreshadows an unhappy marriage between Ada and Alisdair Stewart. The piano then becomes the symbol of the affair, a happy freedom away from her constraining marriage. When Ada demands it tossed overboard, the loss of piano symbolizes Ada’s new independence, where she can choose and speak for herself, not trap herself within her music. it is because of the connection between Ada and the piano that makes the symbolism in the film so rich. However, like with Pride and Prejudice, Ada portrayed most of her emotion with her striking eyes. Her large eyes easily contained fear and anger when widened.However, Holly Hunter, the actress who played Ada, would soften her eyes and close them, allowing her smile to express happiness.

Ada's wide eyes show her anger at her husband.

Ada's closed eyes allow her mouth to become the center of her face and express happiness.

The film does include language to tell the story. Although Ada cannot speak, she often signs to her daughter, who then translates for others. Much of Ada’s speaking is done through her daughter. Due to this signing, to say Ada never speaks would be a lie. The signing is also crucial to the film because it shows Ada’s strong connection with her daughter. She also uses signing when talking with Baines, foreshadowing and then showing the strong love connection between the two. However, Ada’s husband and his friends always talk. Their emotions are shown mainly with language and less emphasis on their facial expressions. Baines also talks with the Māori. He acts like a translator similar to Ada and Flora. With the signing and the Māori’s language, there are large chunks of onversation the audience never understands because it is not translated for the audience. This symbolizes the separation from society for  Ada, misunderstood by her husband and his friends, and Māori, who are misunderstood by everyone in the movie except Baines. The language as a symbolize shows that verbiage is important to the film although it is not always spoken.


For the most part, The Piano tells the story well, even with the lesser amount of verbiage. However, it overdoes the romantic affair. In order to portray the blossoming affair, the director Jane Campion uses blunt and plain nudity to show that an affair is happening. While  the entire movie is an artistic film, the amount of nudity to portray an affair makes The Piano artistic porn. Many movies show romantic affairs without the full frontal nudity of the male character and with the use of characters under sheets to symbolize intercourse. Despite the over dramatic affair scenes, the movie artistically and visually portrays a story with little spoken English.

Image 1: http://fedorasandhighheels.blogspot.com/2011/03/pride-and-prejudice-1995-bbc-miniseries.html

Image 2: http://wn.com/The_Sacrifice__Michael_Nyman

Image 3: http://www.philonfilm.net/2011/01/reviewing-90s-female-performances-of.html

The dragon as a cultural symbol has been seen throughout years and throughout the world. From the powerful Asian dragon conjured from water to the fierce dragon of the West, the dragon has been seen in pieces of art, textile, and literature.

In the west the dragon is seen as a monster that terrorizes villages as a ruthless killer.  Instead of respecting the dragon, children were told fairy tales in which the hero must slay the dragon to rescue the damsel in distress. This theme of fear was reflecting in the textiles in the Textile museum from Europe. The textiles portrayed pictures of men fighting against the fire breathing demon. While the dragon was seen as powerful, it was not a respected power, but instead a power that made it a dangerous foe. The dragon has been represented as a monster in famous pieces of literature such as Beowulf. It is also seen as the villain in many of the early folk lore, such as St. George and the Dragon, Saint Matha and the Dragon, and Ivanko and the Dragon. These early tales often portrayed the protagonist fighting against a dragon and being rewarded with the dragon’s gold, as Western cultures also associated the dragon with gold. However, not every piece of Western lore described the dragons as creatures that needed to be feared. The Yellow Dragon, a tale told by Bukovinian  gypsies, was the story of a cowardly dragon being deceived by the protagonist. Yet, even in this tale the dragon is the enemy (“Western Dragons”).

Even today, the dragon is often seen as a beast in many of our stories. However, Western culture has created pieces of fiction giving more depth and complexity to dragons, as well as showing them in a light where they are not as monstrous as first imagined. Two examples of this change in perception of dragons are Dreamworks How to Train Your Dragon and the BBC’s Merlin.

While the west saw the dragon as a terrible creature, the East and Southeast Asian saw the dragon as a creature of power and respect. The dragon has been a part of Chinese history since the Yin and Shang dynasties, which began around 16 BC.  However, it wasn’t until the Han dynasty, around 206 BC-220AD, that the colors of the dragon were part of the symbolization. Dragons were typically gold, turquoise, white or red (“Chinese Dragon”). Turquoise symbolized, “the Emperor, the East, the rising sun, and the rain as well as the fifth element of the Chinese zodiac. The white dragon on the other hand stood for the West and death” (“Chinese Dragon”). Like the Western dragon, the Chinese dragon was also able to fly. However, Chinese dragons were a creature of water. They appeared snake like and often had four or five claws. In China, only the emperor or the emperor’s family could wear a dragon with five claws, as the dragon was a symbol of respected power. However, members of the Chinese court were able to wear a dragon with four claws. The textile museum contained a piece of apparel that was once worn by one of the emperors. However, it had been given away and the fifth claw from every dragon had been removed. It also featured the dragon up in the air. Through the oral description, we learned that this was a symbol of the emperor’s closeness to the heavens. The textile museum also featured this banner: It was wrapped around the poles of a Chinese monastery. When wrapped around the pillar, the dragon would be whole, instead of halved as seen in the picture. The banner displays the dragon with a snake like body and large head. However, “For the Chinese people, Dragons were described visually as a composite of parts from nine animals: The horns of a deer; the head of a camel; the eyes of a devil; the neck of a snake; the abdomen of a large cockle; the scales of a carp; the claws of an eagle; the paws of a tiger; and the ears of an ox” (“Chinese Dragon”). The dragon is surrounded by clouds, further portraying the dragons closeness to the heavens.

 

“Chinese Dragon.” Chinese Dragon. Beijing Service. Web. 07 Mar. 2012. <http://www.beijingservice.com/beijinghighlights/chinesedragon.htm&gt;.

Layton, Robin. “Western Dragons.” Draconika Dragons. Web. 07 Mar. 2012. <http://www.draconika.com/cultures/western.php&gt;.

The Textile Museum | Upcoming Exhibitions | Dragons, Nagas, and Creatures of the Deep.” Textile Museum. Textile Museum. Web. 07 Mar. 2012. <http://textilemuseum.org/exhibitions/upcoming/DragonsNagasCreaturesOfTheDeep.html&gt;.

My Newseum trip was, like all my Newseum trips, a mixture of excitement and fear. I cannot imagine that is a typical response when a person visits a museum. Perspective plays a huge role in anyone’s visit to a museum and the Newseum is no different. I am a freshman journalism student and my take on a news career is one of excitement. A trip to the Newseum only incites such excitement. I walk in there in, see the coverage throughout the years, and instantly I want to cover some huge story. However, this is hardly a surprise. The Newseum’s brilliant designers knew to draw in the excitement of the visitors. They want to make everyone feel like they can be an amazing reporter. So they start their visitors off in the lowest level with a movie of exciting events that were covered by the media. Once the movie has successfully riled up emotions, the Newseum workers guide the people to the floor and let them loose. On the first floor there is an exhibit on the Berlin Wall, famous sports photographs, and the G-Men and Journalists exhibit. These designers were smart. They start people off with something relatable and exciting.

On my last visit I did not explore the exhibits on the level, as I had seen them three times before, and while I love the G-Men and Journalists exhibit, I wanted to see new things that I hadn’t gotten a chance to see before. If I had to pick an exhibit that was my favorite, the G-Men and Journalists would be my choice. It shows reporting through history on events of the magnitude I hope to one day recover. It also is a humbling lesson to show that journalists sometimes can be meddlesome in investigations, such as the Waco, Texas Massacre. I was fortunate enough to visit the Newseum last semester where I was startled to discover that they had changed the G-Men and Journalists exhibit slightly. Where there had once been a section about the DC/MD/VA snipers, there was now a section on terrorism. It bothered me that the curators had felt this was more appropriate than the snipers, especially since there was already an exhibit on 9/11 and the terrorism section focused heavily on 9/11. I was unfortunate enough to live through both of these events as a young child. I remember not being able to go outside during school and the constant fear that the snipers would be near my hometown, as the snipers had killed people near my hometown. The news coverage was one way of coping with the events that were happening and the removal of the section in Newseum really upset me.

However, that said, I still love the Newseum. All the rest of the exhibits continued to fuel the excitement of knowing that one day my name could be in the museum. It was a nice reflection on myself as a person too. The 9/11 exhibit holds more than just memories of a tragedy for me, it shows the changes in my personality that I have made. I have seen that particular exhibit four times, every time I have gone to the museum. It is a tremendous exhibit and really brings out the memories I have of that day, such as the laughter my classmates and I shared as one by one we were called for an early dismissal, completely unaware of the horrors that were facing our country. We were young and confused as to why everyone was leaving, so why wouldn’t we laugh? We continued until one parent yelled at us for laughing, but we had no idea what had happened. I miss the innocence that we had as children and among memories of that day, the loss of innocence is one that I always remember when I visit the 9/11 exhibit. Besides the memories, the exhibit presents the shift in my personality from the potential journalism student who promised herself she would never run towards a life threatening situation to the journalism student who would run towards any story because getting the story is important.

The importance of the story is another hidden secret the Newseum subtly shares with visitors. They changed the layout of the Newseum between my second and third visit so that the stories of journalists who died were spread around the museum and not clumped together. To a journalism student, there is nothing scarier than seeing journalists who covered the stories you one day hope to cover and were killed because of the story. I will never forget the image of the car where a bomb ripped apart the driver seat. The journalist was killed because he had a lead on a story. Every time I look at that exhibit and the ones of the foreign correspondents who were injured or killed, I shudder. It’s a realistic fear that I could be killed while covering a story and it’s not exactly the best feeling in the world either. The new strategic placement of the dangers of reporting is placed next to my favorite part of the museum, the glass wall of deceased journalists’ names.

I honestly love the simplicity of the wall and think it is a beautiful memorial. However, I have a slight fear that my name may one day end up on that wall.

I chose the photograph* of the Romanian Orphans.

While extremely sad, in my opinion is a brilliant piece of photojournalism. The photograph manages to capture the emotion on the young child’s face and portrays the conditions the child is obviously in, which is exactly what photojournalism is supposed to accomplish. The photographer uses the tchnique Jim Krause labels close-up in Photo Idea Index. The photograph is centered on the child’s face, zooming in on the face against the pillow, instead of an afar picture to show the entire child. However, the picture includes enough of a background to establish an environment, which is extremely important for photojournalism. The photographer also uses an off-center positioning to draw attention to the child and the raw emotion. As Krause states in his book, “The dynamic spacing around the subject encourages these connotations of direction and movement [drawing the audience’s attention].” The photographer also uses Krause’s idea of “Ugly is Beautiful.” The picture of a young child in pain is one many would consider ugly, but the photographer turned it into beauty with his artistic techniques. Overall, I really believe the photographer was able to capture the audience’s attention towards the child’s pain and suffering, accomplishing what the photographer set out to do.

Krause, Jim. Photo Idea Index. 1st ed. Cincinnati, OH: HOW, 2005. Print.

*I took both of the photographs in the blog post.

I used Adobe Photoshop to edit three iPod advertisements once used by Apple. I originally thought to create a “culture jam” by using the Apple advertisement style to advertise McDonald’s and the association with heart attacks. However, right before uploading I thought it would be a more creative idea to use the Apple advertisement style to advertise against Apple. Apple used the idea of conformity to introduce their product with an advertisement in a 1984 style.  You can see the advertisement through this link: http://beautywithanedge.blogspot.com/2011/03/evolution-of-apples-advertising.html. Now Apple products have become a norm making everyone who uses Apple products, myself included, a conformist.

Apple was brilliant by using the bright colors to draw in viewers, which I emphasized by placing all the pictures against a black background. Although the pictures have different color backgrounds and have different silhouettes, the silhouettes are all dancing and using a iPod, showing that even though the silhouettes are attempting to be different, they are still conforming to the usage of Apple products as a norm. Apple used the silhouettes to allow viewers to be drawn to the white iPods, a direct color comparison of white and black. I used white font in the similar fashion, as the white versus the color versus the black brings attention to the white words, styled in the ‘iWord” fashion. I used bold Arial as my font because it is sans serif font. I wanted to use Helvetica, but my Photoshop does not include Helvetica as one of the fonts. Enjoy!

Caraballo, Mia. “The IPad 2: The Evolution of Apple’s Advertising.” The IPad 2. 22 Mar. 2011. Web. 22 Feb. 2012. <http://beautywithanedge.blogspot.com/2011/03/evolution-of-apples-advertising.html&gt;. (Pink and Green)

Meyerson, Rob. “SanDisk Sells Music for People Who Don’t Care about Music.” Semantic Argument. 26 May 2010. Web. 22 Feb. 2012. <http://www.semanticargument.com/2010/05/26/sandisks-sells-music-for-people-who-dont-care-about-music/&gt;. (Orange)

Firemen Raising Flag on 9/11

After a tragedy of such magnitude as that of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, people look for hope and goodness in the world. The photograph of the firemen raising the flag over the wreckage resulting from the attacks provides just that. The photograph screams hope for better day and cries out to Americans to be proud to be an American. Hope is such an important feeling to have after a tragedy. Hope comforts people, because when someone has hope, they know that another day will be better. That feeling is important to have and to hold onto in life. A picture that signifies this emotion is incredibly significant, to me and to others. I see the photograph and I remember the confusion I felt as a third grader not able to fully grasp the magnitude of the terrorist attack. I remember not understanding why everyone was leaving my class and still not understanding when it was my turn to leave. Most of all, I remember trying to understand exactly what happened and the horror I felt when I finally did. To this day, I still see airplanes in the sky and I am slightly terrified that they will crash into another building.

All the horror that 9/11 caused is portrayed in the photograph.  The wreckage underneath of the fireman’s feet clearly shows the magnitude of the damage.  It is also in the coloring of the photograph, though this coloring was not intentional.  The background is the purplish grey wreckage.  It is the darkest thing in the photograph, appropriate, as it represents the terror.

In contrast, the lightness of the wreckage underneath the firemen highlights the men and their actions. If the dark background represents terror, than it is this lightness that represents the hope in the picture and situation. The light emitted from the wreckage also highlights the flag, the true symbol of the photograph. The flag represents the United States of America, making this picture more than just a picture of a hopeful event, but a symbolic picture as well. The picture is the picture associated with the 9/11 attacks and carries the weight of being a memory keeper for the event.

I love the contrast of the firemen against the darker background. Although I do not believe the photographer was attempting to find a good contrast when he was taking the photograph, the contrast amplifies the picture. It can be compared to good versus evil, the good being the firemen and the evil being the wreckage, a memory of the attack.  The photograph placed the firemen in the lower middle of the photograph, allowing the flag to be the center of the photograph. This allows the viewer’s eyes to be drawn to the flag, the symbol of the United States of America.  Whether the contrast and position were purposeful or accident, the picture created is stunning.

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