Category Archives: virtual pop culture

Media Enchantment (Cosmic Radio broadcast 4-28-12)

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Don't believe any of what you see and only half of what you read

And so, boys and girls, let me tell you the story of a man named Jed, he was so poor he barely kept his family fed, but then one day…. He struck it rich! And so, once again we are enchanted by the media. It could happen! A miracle within our pathetic hard working existence! We could strike it rich! When I was a kid I recall watching the Beverly Hillbillies on our black and white television. More recently, in fact just a few days ago, I was reminded of how we are all affected by movies, television, and all other sorts of media. We are media saturated! I was with my coworkers in Muir Woods and in the midst of all of this breath-taking beauty, my coworkers were reminded of the movie ‘Star Wars’ which was partially filmed in Muir Woods. I recognized how so much of our lives are filled with the media. It has a much more powerful impact upon our lives than we recognize.

It used to be that storytelling was the means to enchant the masses. The drab lives of everyday people were enriched by the stories they heard. These myths held a special power, and in a sense, were far more real than the actual physical existence people experienced. Dreams are important. They allow us to create the kind of reality we desire. Popular media is instrumental in shaping our dreams.

No one understands this fundamental principle as well as the politician. The truth isn’t as important as what we think is true. Perception is tantamount. We bathe in the media each night, and are frightened and manipulated by the media. We are instructed in what is important and what is not. We are reminded that we live in a crazy mixed up, and violent world. You are instructed in what to buy to really gain the acceptance of these invisible people all around you, that judge your every move.

This is sick. It has gotten out of control. We are approaching a time of hyper-reality, enhanced reality, which so saturates us that we have no choice but to tune it all out. There will be a backlash to this enchantment. There has already been some backlash. What is disguised as entertainment nevertheless conditions us. We form opinions unbeknownst to our conscious minds. It effects our voting and our social interactions. We become overly concerned with branding, and sexuality, and lose sight of what really matters. This is a dark enchantment designed to distract us from the way we have been disenfranchised. We have lost our power to make a difference. Corporations make a difference in the twenty first century. And, as you know, they are people, aren’t they? It is incumbent upon us to resist this enchantment and be skeptical of all media. This program of total mind manipulation has not been as successful as they would have liked.

We are not stupid, and we have capabilities that we have only begun to explore. We are not just passive consumers any longer. We are interactive with our world, and we will not allow ourselves to be duped. Politicians are going to find it much more difficult to find a simple message to dull our senses and lull us into compliance with their agenda, which is driven by a lust for power and wealth. They are ironically the victims of their own enchantment. The power brokers are just as taken in by the lure of various forms of pornography, be it sexual or not, as any of us, perhaps more so.

Media is a powerful tool. It is not as harmless as it is often perceived to be. It shapes our opinions, our sense of reality. But to a lesser extent now than in the past. The internet is both helping to dispel this media enchantment and it is aiding in the enchantment itself. However, so long as we have people who are willing to step outside the media dictated norm, this dark spell cannot maintain it’s hold for long. I have hope for the future.

So much for a cosmic radio broadcast on the subject of popular media and it’s dark agenda.

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Supergirl foils me again

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She has super intuition? Who knew?

Someday Supergirl will be mine!! I was going to post this great story about how Stock Photo Woman (see earlier posts), is actually Supergirl’s alter ego for the twenty-first century. I had caught her peeling off the fake black eye and..my God! Is that an S on her chest? Now that the real Supergirl is on to the hoax, I’ll have to say that the S stands for Stock. Oh, well…it was such a clever hoax. But it never pays to mess with Supergirl!! I didn’t count on her super intuition. She has super intuition? Who knew? Curses! Foiled again!

I have had a crush on Supergirl since I was a boy. It was that sexy little miniskirt she wore. Be honest, fellow baby boomers, didn’t it drive you nuts, too? I was just talking to Superman the other day (sure we know each other, why wouldn’t we?), and he told me that when he was Superboy, he’d fly behind her and try to catch a glimpse of her…” “Why didn’t you just use your x-ray vision?” I asked. “Oh I tried all that, but she wears lead-lined underpants!” “Smart girl!” I said, smirking. “You know, Russell, I could just give you a slight smack and your head would sail off and be in orbit in a fraction of a second!” “Yeah, but you won’t do that!” I said unconcerned. Superman is always making those idle threats. He should just grow up! Ok, I admit it. I made all that up.

But seriously, I have always been obsessed with the idea of a strong powerful woman. Without going into all the gruesome psychological underpinnings of this obsession, let’s just say I had a dominant, outgoing powerful mother. My Dad? He was shy, like me. I’m sure my mother was his Supergirl. But I loved it when women would kick butt. Wonder Woman was awesome too, but you had to be extra careful around her. You couldn’t be having all those horny thoughts about her nearly naked body because she might whip out her magic lasso and force you to tell the truth. Oops! How embarrassing! Catwoman was nice too, what a fox!, I mean cat, oh whatever. She was especially sexy with that whip. Who knew comics could be so kinky! But I really loved Batgirl, something about a girl in a cowl…it’s totally hot! Girls intrigued me from a very young age, I always wanted to know what they were thinking. They lived in a strange enchanted world, off limits to grubby little boys. Guys? They’re just guys, what can I say? I don’t know what women see in them really. I mean I like guys, I am one myself, but there is nothing mysterious or erotic, for me anyway, about guys. Women? Quite a different matter. They fascinate me! That is what lies at the heart of my when-is-this-going-to-end? Stock Photo Girl/Woman series. I just love thinking about beautiful women. You notice I never show my own picture? Why ruin a great romance with my ugly mug?

But I got off track, as usual. Supergirl knew this would happen. I would just end up humiliating myself yet again. Super intuition. Damn! How can I get around this problem? Wrap my head in aluminum foil? Nope. Tried that. I guess I will just have to get used to Supergirl knowing my every move. Oh, Supergirl! I just want one little ride on your back! Is that too much to ask? I know she heard me, she has super intuition!

Tough break Brainiac 5! I know how it feels.

All comics are the property and copyright of DC Comics.

My Virtual Living Room

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My Virtual Living Room

Welcome to my virtual living room. This was a project for my Beginning Photoshop class in 2010. It captures my fascination with popular culture quite well, and it is certainly a lot more interesting than my real living room. This is the face of popular culture in the twentyfirst century. Everyone creates their own versions of the culture which surrounds them. Popular culture today is interactive, which leads to a lot of thorny issues I won’t go into here. Popular culture has always involved an interaction between the viewer, listener, or reader’s imagination and the work. This is where the magic occurs. When I was a kid I used carbon paper to trace images from my Batman comic books. I created my own stories for my own amusement. Much the same sort of thing happens today with the varied multimedia tools available to us all. We use the sounds, images, and words of popular culture to produce our own product. So long as we aren’t selling our product, we reason that we are not violating any laws. If we are creating projects for school we are generally protected under fair use laws. This is a difficult area for consumers and artists, because today¬† the consumer also becomes an artist.

This virtual living room also reveals a few of my obsessions within pop culture. I am fascinated by the weird and mysterious fringe areas of popular culture exemplified by Donnie Darko. The rabbit stands guard here, about ten times larger than the original figure. Batman of course, I have mentioned before, and he continues to resonate with me. Batman wasn’t always so cool, I was teased relentlessly for the Batman sticker on my bicycle. There weren’t any action figures when I was a kid, only models of Superman or Batman that you had to assemble. If I could afford it, I’d have a ton of action figures. So that is another obsession. They are especially fun because they are tangible, you can actually hold an action figure in your hand. In our virtual entertainment paradise we lose the tactile quality of toys. I think it is important to have an actual object to play with. I am not an advocate of keeping things in their boxes. I am not a collector. I want to play with my toys. Of course Andy Warhol’s Marilyn stares down from the wall. She is the queen of pop culture. Elvis is the king. Considering he is one more of my obsessions it is odd that he isn’t present. The devil girl bathed in red light is also a cute touch. I like kitsch, especially the underground comic sort of kitsch, which this sort of is. I liked how the San Francisco street outside appears like a watercolor. Nice unintended artifact.

I am fascinated by the interface between imagination and art, which is the essence of popular culture. To a child everything gets mixed together, they aren’t bothered by differences in scale, playing with a plastic dinosaur and a huge teddy bear at the same time. Things don’t have to make sense, the child gives it his or her own sense. That is the spirit of today’s popular cultural explosion. So this blog isn’t entirely about the passive consumer aspect of pop culture, it is also about the deconstruction of pop culture and the new art that emerges from that. So…anyway would you like an oreo?, they are right there on the coffee table. Help yourself.