Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Iron Man's Global Village

Marshall McLuhan's Technological Determinism concepts have a lot to say about the relationship between media and culture. One of my favorite concepts of McLuhan's is his idea of a Global Village.

Electronic media allows people to access all kinds of information from around the world at record speed. It makes it seem that people on different sides of the globe are actually in the same room speaking with one another. For a more detailed explanation of Technological Determinism, check out my blog entry "Would You Like That Hot or Cold?".

When it comes to electronic media and inventions, Tony Stark is the first person to pop into my mind. The movie Iron Man is an wonderful example of the Global Village. In the movie, Tony Stark is a technological genius, who specializes in creating weaponry. He is kidnapped by terrorists and forced to recreated a very dangerous weapon for them. Except that Tony really actually uses his knowledge to build an iron suit to help him escape.

After Stark is rescued and back home safe, he upgrades his suit and decides to go fight crime. Because of the technologic media Tony has access to, he can fly around the world at jet speed to save the world from evil and talk to his friend on the phone as if he were simply giving him a piggy-back ride. Of course, this is just a movie, and technology that advanced is not a medium that is readily accessible to people every where. However, it is a great example of how technology can bring people where are worlds apart closer together.

Because Tony Stark take technology to the next level, he also take the Global Village to the next level. I think the Marshall McLuhan would have loved to analyze the effects of such brilliant technological media.

Michael Violates Expectations

The Expectancy Violation theory is all about boundaries. In my blog entry "Give Me My Space," I explain that this theory, established by Judee Burgoon, deals with the positive and negative possibilities of violating spacial norms set by society.

An interesting part of the expectancy violation theory is that it is sometimes very rewarding to violate the social norms. If the recipient favors your violation, it could bode well for you.

A very recent episode of the tv series The Office is a perfect example of this type of reward. Michael is the boss of the office, but he is notorious for doing absolutely idiotic things. In the episode 23 of season 6 "Body Language," Michael decides that he will impress a lovely lady while trying to sell her printers. He is very obvious in his advances. At one point, he completely breaks into her intimate spacial zone by eating a mint out of her hand.

Everyone in the office tries to tell Michael that he has ruin any chance he had with the woman, and in vain they tell him to give up the fight. However, Michael's violation of social expectation works out really well for him. He finds the pretty lady, she admits her feelings for him, and they kiss in the parking lot. Go Michael! Too bad no one was there to see it, and no one from the office believes him.

Social Penetration in Romantic Movies

The Social Penetration theory was Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor's way of explaining how people get to know one another. There ideas was the people get to know each other through self-disclosure. Exchanging bits of information is the key. The more personal the information that is shared, the deeper the social penetration.

Altman and Dalmas also created the "onion" concept. This concept compares humans to onions in that they both have layers. As social penetration occurs, layers are peeled away to reveal the true person underneath. For more information, visit my blog entry Ogres Have Layers.

I titled this entry "Social Penetration in Romantic Moviesies," because I feel that romantic comedies have a pattern of social penetration. It always starts with the boy and the girl. Usually, the boy and the girl despise one another. Then, along comes a situation where they have to endure one another's company. During that time, they share information that allows them to better understand each other. This social penetration always ends in a lovely, romantic ending.

For example, the newly released movie Leap Year follows this pattern.
Anna is the girl who is uptight and "annoyingly American." She has plans to follow an old Irish tradition and propose to her boyfriend on February 29th in Dublin, Ireland. Unfortunately, she has a million complications along her journey.
Declan is the boy from Ireland who helps Anna get to Dublin. They do not get along at all! However, there comes a point in their journey where they stay at a Bed and Breakfast. Declan and Anna work together to make dinner for the B&B owners who were so kind to let them stay. Information is exchanged, and the social penetration theory is set into motion. I don't want to get away too much since it was just release on DVD this week, but I can say that as they share information about themselves, they get to know one another on deeper levels.

Willy Wonka's Cultivation

The Cultivation Theory was developed by George Gerbner. Gerbner felt that there was a direct correlation between watching violence on television and fearing the world around you. According to Gerbner, more television conception eventually causes a greater fear of the world and becoming victimized. There have been many critics of this theory, but the idea that violence watched on television, or played through video games, affects people in profound ways is still around today.

For more information on the cultivation theory, visit my blog The Cultivation Theory.

A movie that I feel exemplifies this theory, or at least the concepts associated with it, is the newest Willy Wonka movie, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

In this version, one of the five children to find a golden ticket is Mike Teavee. Mike plays violent video games all day long. The over exposure to violence has definitely made Mike a violent child. When presented with the new technology of teleport in Willy Wonka's factory, Mike's violent video skills come to life as he forces his way into the machine. If of course does not end well for Mike, and the Oompa Loompas sing a song about the negative aspects children watching too much television.

Click the link below to watch this scene!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tarzan the Ape-Man

Social Interactionism is a theory about how people acquire their self-concepts.
Watch this video link. It is about a man named Tarzan.

Disney's Tarzan- Strangers Like Me clip.

George Herbert Mead, the creator of the Social Interactionism theory felt that the first step to acquiring a self-concept comes from the symbols created by language. In the video clip, it is very clear that his human friends are trying to teach him "civilized" behaviors. One of the first things they teach him is how to read. They also teach him by showing him pictures, or symbols, of very human things in hope that by seeing this things and learning words, he will act more like a human rather than a gorilla.

Another interesting part of George Herbert Mead's theory is the I and Me concept. As I blogged in the I + ME = Self-Concept blog, I noted how Mead felt that every person has an "I" and a "Me." The "I" is spontaneous and creative. It is sort of like the gorilla part of Tarzan. His natural self. The "Me" is the socialized part of every human. The "me" is represented by Tarzan becoming more "human."

Social Interactionism also consists of the self-fulfilling prophesy. The idea that people take on the traits that other people tell them they have. In the Disney version of Tarzan. Young Tarzan is very upset, because he does not feel like he belongs. The male leader of the gorillas is being very mean to him, but his mother constantly reinforces that he is a real member of the family. In the end, Tarzan becomes the man/gorilla his mom always assured him he was. He saves the day, his family, and the pretty Lady Jane from the bad guy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Everybody loves FIRO

The TV series Everybody Loves Raymond is a comedy that started in 1996 and ended in 2005. The show centers around Ray Barone and his family. Ray is a sports writer who is married to Debra. They live right next door to Ray's parents. Marie, Ray's mom, is a very controlling person who is always criticizing Debra's way of doing things. Ray's father's name is Frank. He is also literally frank-always saying what he feels. Ray's older brother Robert lives with their parents for the first few seasons. Robert and Ray have some great brotherly moments over the years, but they are always a bit distant because of the different personalities.

Everybody Loves Raymond seems like a great show to represent William Shcutz's FIRO Theory of Needs. I blogged about this theory and entitled it "In, Out, Up, Down, Close, or Far." The theory explains that there are three basic needs in a person's life: the need for inclusion, control and affection. I feel like the characters of Raymond, Marie, and Robert each embody one of these needs.

For example, Ray Barone embodies the human need for inclusion. Although he has a great life with a nice family, he never seems to be able to take criticism. I think that it is because Ray has a need to be included. He would much rather be "In" than "Out." Below is a link that shows how Ray must prove everyone else wrong when he hears that they think he is annoying. He can't stand that he would be the one to be on the "outs." Instead, he makes it his goal to prove to everyone that they are much more annoying than he is.

Marie, Ray and Robert's mom, is the perfect example of someone who lives there life based on "up" or "down." She is a very dominating woman, who still wants to mother her boys as if they were still little boys. She is always making decisions that affect everyone around her. She insists on doing things her way, the right way. She is also very critical of Debra, Ray's wife. She's hilarious, but definitely someone who always needs to be in control and "up." Here is a clip showing some over her actions.

Robert is an example of a person who needs to be "close" or "far." Even though he is the eldest brother, he has always lived in the shadow of Ray. He is convinced that his mother loves Ray the most. Robert is also a little quirky, which make it even harder for him to relate to those around him at times. He is older, but still loves with his parents (until many seasons into the sitcom). He has a desire to be close to those around.

I hope these clips give you a clear example of people who are driven by the need to be included, in control, or closely tied to those around them. Everybody loves FIRO.

For more information about the FIRO Theory, visit my blog entry "In, Out, Up, Down, Far, or Close."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Honorable Mentions

To further explain some of the theories that I've blogged, I would like to share some TV series/Movies that I feel show what these theories look like during human interactions.

I hope you enjoy them!