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!