Monday, 24 May 2010

Week Twelve: The Typification of "Drill, Baby, Drill"

Ya know if there were ever three words in successive order that would solve pretty much everyone of lifes problems, then it's "Drill, Baby, Drill." Profoundly potent, yet impenatrably sound in wisdom and Global Resource Preservation...and Stuff, they will ensue our Planets Reserve for generations to come and keep happiness in stock for as long as we need it, just knowing we always have enough.
But where we, that's right, the Oil issue...yes this must be drilled too...and I mean now damn it. We must drill like we've never drilled before, and after we're done we must drill some more.
For Oil is good, Oil is our friend, Oil will see us through 'till the very end. Hey that was pretty good, I just thought of that. For the future depends on our unlimited supply of Oil...Can't you see? Sure we don't pour it on our Corn Flakes, like we do Maple Sirrup in the morning, but, and it's a good but, if Oil were say a Pint of Guinness, not just any Pint of Guinness, but like a really nice Pint of Guinness, made from say filtered hops of Oil, instead of all that black sticky stuff that washes up on shore every now and again, I know I would definitely purchase a very nice Pint of "Guinness Oil", before leaving "The Barrell Inn" and rambling home for some of Mammys Shepards Pie. For Mammys are great for the Shepards Pie, and Mammys and Shepards Pies are also our friends. For they fill us up and make our tummies all better again when we're sick and not feeling very well. Yes...Mammys rock. But of course, Off-Shore Drilling and its necessity to our lovely Planet. Oil is one of our most precious commodities and must be garnished at all costs. Even if that means drilling deeper than ever before, and in Oceans that, and lets be realistic, there are no houses built on and there is no one walking wondrous Doggies on Side-Walks nearby. And wondrous Doggies are very wondrous, and are also, that's right...our friends. Some of the worlds leading Deepwater Drilling Contractors are currently hard at work drilling us some fine Ocean bedrock to keep our resources in towe. For instance, based in Houston, Texas, Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc., a foremost Deepwater Drilling Company, owning and operating one of the largest fleets of Offshore Drilling Units in the world, consisting of a diverse inventory of 32 Semisubmersibles, 14 Jack-Ups and one dynamically positioned Drillship, has comprised a reutation on top of more than four decades of global drilling experience.
For information
The worlds largest Offshore Drilling Contractor Transocean currently holds nineteen of the past twenty-three world records for bedrock drilling in the deepest ocean waters.
For information
And of course, when all this drilling and penatrating is over why not take a leaf from Alaska's favourite daughter Miss Sarah, and have a well earned day out at America's most purest form of Sports Entertainment - Nascar baby, where, if you're not might just find yourself getting sucked right back into work again on "Them there" Pit-Roads.
Changin' tires of course....

Friday, 21 May 2010

Friday morning, Two posts only. You had days longer than the students who meet on Wednesday...

American Declinism - Obama's mission

In the article Obama and the end of Hegemonic Declinism taken from U.S. blog The Duck of Minerva, the writer discusses how America needs fundamental reform to "avoid a precipitous fall from grace". Written in July 2008, this was before the election of Barack Obama but his policies and the possible potential of his presidency drive the article. Examples of America's decline include a comparison with "the rise of China" and a "resurgent Europe" where even NBA stars are transferring to Europe for better pay. Both of these points suggest that America has lost its "edge".

The writer focuses on how in current World Affairs the recent phase of American Declinism has been attacked and it can be traced back to a general untertainty in regards to American politics. With its "political subtext", America's declinism has not only been caused by arguments over events but also by a fierce reaction to Bush's presidency. Statistics are given suggesting that the majority of Americans were dissatisfied with the direction the country during Bush's presidency as 80% of respondents said that the country was on the "wrong track". It is identified that this is a level of dissatisfaction that has not been seen since the early 1990s and the article emphasises how rampant declinism has occurred in America almost two decades on.

America's decline in "global power" is mentioned and again the article leans towards suggesting that America should adapt its policies to accommodate the "rise of the rest". However, others argue that such calls for reform are pointless as America's structural advantages in the sense of its "size, wealth, human and material resources, military strength, competetiveness, liberal political and economic traditions, flexibility, dynamism and capacity for reinvention" (<--- whoa!) matter much more than economic cycles, trade imbalances and Anti-Americanism and I have to agree; America always finds away to bounce back with so many of its "weapons" (advantages).

With canditates "running away from the Bush administration as either a maverick or agent of change", a renewal of American social purpose is suggested. Obama however capitialised on this not only in terms of renewing American hegemony, but politically as well. His message of "hope" and "change" triggered a "political awakening", especially among younger voters who were previously alienated from politics. Rather than presenting an American mission, Obama has presented a global mission; desipte the resulting actions loosely following a similar path of decline (such as more troops in Afghanistan), the social purposes of these actions are significantly different since they seek a more global purpose and "it is that renewal of social purpose that can arrest the very real sense of decline in the present hegemonic order".

Thursday, 20 May 2010

The Decline of America

Alan Dowd wrote an article in 2007 titled "'Three Centuries of American Declinism", which explored the idea of american declinism that has once again come to the forefront, with issues such as the growth of china and the other BRIC countries, and involvement in wars in the middle east stimulating speculation. Dowd however has taken the view that a lot of others seem to have online, that America is not in fact decline at all. Dowds argument is based around the idea that people have been predicting the decline of america for centuries and that it has yet to happen. He states that often it is actually during periods of american prosperity that declinists often begin hypothesising. The bulk of the article provides examples of when people falsely believed the US to be in decline. However towards the end he does state that "US primacy is neither inevitable nor a birthright", but again in conclusion dowd states that he feels that the USA is stilll far from the declining superpower that people make it out to be.
Whilst many people do seem to be talking about America declining, especially from a political standpoint, there seem to be just as many who feel that it is yet to have faced any serious opposition and that american exceptionalism is still prevalent.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Week Eleven: Declinisim In America - Good Night, God Bless & Safe Home...

The Grayscaling Monochromatic genre of the 1950's Communist Witch-hunt...surgically inserting its heat-embowling scapula deep within the nations Congressional Anals of Political Power, layering away the Adipose of often decent, non-associating Servants of history, in attempt to somehow prove some frivilous point of long forgotten, and/or irrevertant brush of mishap with left-wing Sympathizing Entities of the common distrust...or even any at all...reflects a once insighting instillment of fear and an Nation of Wondrous Saturday morning..."Howdy Doody Time" and "Memories Are Made of This". If still in any awe and wonderment of these Cryptic Sentiments....then lets decode. Likened to the Grande Olde days of the Salem Witch-Trials when only a finger was only ever enough, to send your longtime neighbour down Cherry Tree road, for a Swingin' ol' time, or even...non-hallucinagenic Stoning, because it happened to rain the evening before, just as he stepped out onto his poarch. Either way...a hot time in thee olde tavern tonight. U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy out of Wisconson...and his bottled brand of New and even easier than ever before to unscrew -"McCarthyism", and merry band of Sherwood's Finest Oversight Commity...were all a glow on the idea of Additional Camera time, whenever it came to the big 'C'. So what, if Saturday mornings would never be same again...
There'd still be a -"Whole lotta shakin goin'on." for those apples to fall and 'Them there' dancin' teddie bears to have their picnics crashed, honey-sirrup drained...and Cheese Sandwitchs eaton...Mmmm..yes..
In the words of Hannibal Smith - "I love it when a plan comes together.."
Directed by George Clooney, "Good Night...and Good Luck" takes a good hard look at this title-wave of time in an America...once too afraid to speak out in constructive opposition...or even any other form of opposition at all, for that matter...against this Character damning Medium of Communist Affiliation, known only on the grocery shelves of America's Foodways as - "Not right now,'s just a bit of neck pain...and besides Jaspers got that Dental appointment tomorrow at Doctor Henries."
Followed Stratigically by "You know he can't miss it...he's such a lovely man too...and ever so nice to Jasper..." And rolling knodding compliance...wondering why the Gates of Jericho aren't opening for buisness this evening...arrives the only reactional response...a man can instinctively shelter himself under..."Sure're right...I know." What were you thinking...right.
So when the lavastorm..(For lack of, yes another residue of Storm...beginning with the letter 'S')..Comes-a-swirling down on The Senators best laid plans for purifying the land of all Defectors to the cause, time's..indeed-a-waistin', and so The Senate Subcommities focus lands on Edward R. Murrow (David Stratharin)..for yet another Ribbon Round thee Olde Oak tree.
Poor little Jasper...
So what of the countries present state of modernity...and its relevence to a declined Financial, Social and perhaps even moral standpoint. The Sleeper Issues of the 2010 Elections...
From The New Republic...

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Week Ten - The American Psyche Series
In an artical from The American Psyche Series in The Guardian on the 23rd of August, 2008, George Saunders looks at Superhero movies and why we're seeing such an insurgent wave of these blockbusting epics of invincibility. Firstly drawing on a - "Perasive sense of impotence in the face of disappointing goverment, and/or global warming.." for a possible explanation of reasoning as to why, but then giving his own "Feeling" that maybe people just like seeing men in tight clothes and capes doing impossible things. Which just so happens to be good enough for me, as I too, rather like being dark, intense and optionally rude whenever I'm having a bad day, with a set of constantly chiseled Abs under my T-Shirt, than be twenty-one with a starting to show pudgey tummy, lying on the couch watching football, whilst wearing my favourite Chelsea Soccer Jersey, numbering whatever and heading for a future Five-A-Day, and Twelve Step Program for more improved self-esteem. Thanks but I'm fine where I am. The first of a distinguished list of Super-fit fellow Saviours of the human condition, to arrive on Panoramic Widescreen, is "Iron Man". From Saunders' semation - "About a man whose super power is, you know, he's made of Iron." Profoundly true it is. The second worthy participant, and my personal childhood favourite - "Batman". Psychologically, the darkest of knights by far and away, and a without question or competition, the most mysterious, eccentric and esthetically enigmatic of all the Round Table of Superhero-dom. Third place sees in Eric Bana's"The Hulk", later of course, played by Edward Norton for some reason in the Sequel. Haven't seen that one yet. Once more, a fine example, just remember kids -don't make him angry. Fourth place on down is pretty much an esthetically depressing ride to the bottom of the connective tissue hill. With the first award of the evening going to "Typical Man". Socially accepted now as the generally alright, untill that fourth or fifth pint of beer, then something stupid comes unconsciously pouring out, then feeling bad, has another two to try and drink the mistake dry, and try and correct it, only to end up realizing, the real reason he showed that night has left with her girlfriends an hour and a half ago, and has decided to take that new job offer over in New York next week and won't be back for six months. Still however, the comforting response of Rene Russo's - "Maybe you should try and be saddled somtime. Smell of rubber, sting of a whip." to Kevin Costner's laid-back West Texas Driving Range Pro in Ron Shelton's "Tin Cup", forever warms the heart of mothering love, care and influence, and heartens the confidence within.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Week Ten - Something To Hide. "My Flamboyant Grandson" Narrated by Art Spiegleman.

This is one of the chosen Short Story exerpts, narrated by Art Spiegleman, from George Saunders' book - "In Persuasion Nation", entitled "My Flamboyant Grandson", at the Convention For The Something To Hide Book Fair For Writers & Artists Against The Surveilance State.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

George Saunders on "The Average Joe"

In this artcle posted in September 2008, the epicentre of the hype surrounding the Presidential Elections, Saunders speaks about the constant referal in regards to 'Average Joe'. Saunder' is quite right, it would seem that this 'Joe', and his 'Soccer/Security/Hockey Mom' wife, spring up in every political rally; speech; or just in general rhetoric. He also seems quite angry at the use of this 'Joe' and the character that he portrays, because no-one is 'Joe' in his eyes.

The voters can relate to him, and use him as some archityple design when it comes to referencing and representing a stereotypical-middle American, who probably owns a pickup, more than five different guns, watches Fox for its balanced and fair representation on news events, used to play 'football' in college, etc etc. Saunder' instead offers a more updated, and horrifically true portrait of 'Joe'.

"The average Joe" hadn't had a beer with either Bush or Kerry, and in fact had gone from beer to whiskey because his home was in foreclosure, and his investments had vanished in the stock market swoon, and two of his sons were in Iraq, and he was fading fast because he had cancer and no health insurance."

I also drew a relation between this American idea of 'Joe' and how their politicians 'relate' to them personally, and the constant nudges by David Cameron in this years election campaign; how he is one of 'Us' and how he 'understands' how much 'broken Britain' has effected him, and so, us/me.

To be honest, when I first read this article, I decided that Saunder' was 'looking into it to deeply' and was simply taken away in a sudden outburst of anger towards a system that he does not agree with, but I can see that he is simply applying the same ethos from 'Inpersuasion Nation' into his Guardian article. His anger and argument is overstressed, and seemingly blown out of proportion, but conveys a complicated and, almost, hidden message.

George Saunders on advertising

This article is the second of 3, in which george saunders discusses the "utter stupidity of advertising". He talks about living in a world dominated by advertising, using an exaggerated example of a manger scene that has been sponsored by a number of different companies and corporations. He then goes onto to talk about making an advert for his own column, using it to show how he feels Americans are easily influenced by what is shown on telly. The idea of the USA that he gives is one of an image obsessed culture, in which "nobody reads anymore", and whose behaviour is governed by what is shown to them.

George Saunders - 'How To Write a Kids' Book' / Baby Translator? There's An App For That!

In this Guardian article posted in May 2007 taken from George Saunders' 'American Psyche' series, he focuses on teaching readers how to write a childrens' book. He claims that that it's easier than writing an adults' book due to children being "dumber" and knowing "fewer words than adults". Saunders continues to condescend children by describing them as "powerless" as they "toddle through an oversized world without a clue as to what's going on" and having "such limited experience of the world that it's easy to trick them". To illustrate this point, he suggests if a talking rat with dreams of becoming a great poet appeared in an adult book, the adult reaction would be of surprise at the rat's choice of occupation since "no one wants to be a poet any more" whereas children wouldn't have an opinion about it since "they don't even know what a poet is". This absurd example emphasises Saunders' satirical tone in regards to the contemporary American vision of super-intelligent youth.

Interestingly in his follow-up article, Saunders' deliberate underestimation of children is clearly intended to provoke a sensitive reaction as he recalls reactions to his previous article. These reactions range from parental defensiveness due to their children being described as "dumb", to sudden realisation from parents that their children are smaller than they are, to the concerns revolving around writing a story about a chair as the main character being a simple task yet writing a story about an animal is not so simple. Once again, these absurd "reactions" appear to be fictious, but their meanings satirise the American stereotypes of pride and stupidity. This is emphasised by Saunders' step-by-step instructions on how to write a story about an animal which is referred to as a "freak" due to his physical appearance which resulted in his community being glad when he had "flown the coop" to southern California, a place known for its "openess". The satirical nature of this plot is targeted at the American stereotype of superficiality while the animal's choice to move to California in order for acceptance is ironic as California is notoriously known to be a superficial state flocked with "beautiful people".

Both of these articles relate to the story I have chosen from Saunders' collection of stories 'In Persuasion Nation', 'I CAN SPEAK!'. This story is written as a rambling and oddly personal business letter in response to an unsatisfied consumer who has purchased an 'I CAN SPEAK!' system, a mask which is put over the heads of infants to make their voices come out. The intention of this is to make the customer feel as if they have an intelligent baby, however the letter explains how the system only gives that illusion. This mask can be seen as a metaphor for America's descent into a fictional world of consumer bliss and ignorance as the role of children are merely sources of entertainment and distraction for parents.

Saunders is not the first person to satirise America's contemporary perception of infants, however. Homer Simpsons' brother Herb regains his fortune through his baby translator invention in an episode of The Simpsons, 'Brother, Can You Spare Me Two Dimes?' in 1992. A similar and more contemporary example is from Saturday Night Live's 'Weekly Update' where one headline includes a new baby translator application on the iPhone. These can be seen as simple parodies of American consumerism as they derive from TV comedies, but the baby translator is clearly an idea that is ingrained in the American consciousness which emphasises how Saunders' vision may be satircal, but somehow seems frighteningly inevitable.

Funnily enough, after writing this I searched for a few more baby translator clips and realised that the baby translator application for the iPhone really does exist after watching a review of it on KLTV News - neither though it is a novelty app, it is clearly intended to impress people and therefore suggests that Saunders' 2006 vision has indeed become inevitable!

As its product description states:

"Impress your friends and family with the latest electronic gizmo that us Americans humans have been dreaming about for generations!" - George Saunders in disguise?

Friday, 7 May 2010

9/11 Conspiracies

I was looking for some sympathetic video of 9/11, but I found a lot more videos hinting to conspiracy theories.

This video is completly nuts; it's all mad. They're just mental.

9/11: Budweiser tribute / 'How to Save a Life' tribute

Aired only once during the 2002 Super Bowl, Budweiser's 'Clydesdale Respect' commercial pays tribute to those affected by the tragic events of 9/11. The minute long commercial features the beer company's trademark team of Clydesdale horses trudging across snow in New York until they stop to gaze upon the city's skyline and lower their heads on bended knees in a gesture of respect. The Super Bowl has long been one of the most watched television programs and therefore one of the premier venues for advertisers. Although most Super Bowl commercials are of the upbeat variety, Budweiser's commercial during the XXXVI Super Bowl was of a decidedly different nature in its moving sentiment. Shown five months on from the attacks, this commercial is just as moving as tribute videos loaded with footage of the attacks themselves. The simplicity of the emptiness of New York, the cold of the snow and a sensation of the seasonal transition between the Autumn attacks and the Winter creates a melancholy tone and allows the audience to pay respect to the victims of the tragic event in a reflective way.

The video above is a user-made commemorative video of 9/11 created 7 years after the attacks. I have selected it as it slickly incorporates dialogue, archive footage of the twin towers, real footage of the attacks, public responses and reconstructed footage from the Discovery Channel of inside the towers which gives the video an "inside" feel. The song which accompanies the video is The Fray's 'How to Save a Life' which is a fitting tribute to all the heroes that lost their lives trying to save others. Several users comment that the video looks like a movie and while I agreed with them I wasn't surprised when I saw it was made in 2008. A few years after the attacks I began to ponder when credible films and dramatisations would be made of 9/11. Of course there is United 93 and Oliver Stone's World Trade Center, but there has been little focus on the Twin Towers' attacks themselves since it is a very sensitive issue in America. However, it is inevitable that these films will be made eventually and I feel this video directly suggests that. Part of contemporary American identity is the desire to see gritty reality which is exemplified in the popularity of YouTube and to some extent news reports too.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

9/11 Tribute Video

The video compromises of a number of photos both of during the attack and the aftermath. Nowadays when the attack is mentioned its normally in conjunction with something to do with islamic extremism and the USA's relations with the middle-east. Yet this video focuses solely on the human implications of the tragedy, as opposed to the political or international ramifications. Sound clips interject the video, with people telling of escaping the buildings and helping others as well. This theme is prevalant thoughout the video, with pictures of people helping the injured, and in particular a number of images of the firefighters who helped in the aftermath in the attack. It seems that, at least for the person that made the video, that the 9/11 attacks were defined, and should be remembered in terms of the people who lost their lives and the way people banded together in their time of need.

The Church of Satan

Not to be confused with the devil worshipping beliefs and practices of Satanism, The Church of Satan is a religion generally followed by Agnostics and Atheists. Founded by Anton LaVey in 1966, the CoS derives from Pagan principles including the earthly aspects of life. Due to the CoS' Satan being pre-Christian, the practices and rituals of the religion have few similarities with the Christian or Muslim concept of Satan as it is viewed as a force of nature rather than a living deity associated with Hell, demons and profound evil.

Some of the Satanic Rules of the Earth outlined by LaVey include acknowledging the power of magic, avoiding harm to children and refraining from killing animals. It is clear that CoS followers hold life in sacred regard as Satan represents love, kindness and respect to those who deserve it. Satanic Sins on the other hand include stupidity, pretensiousness and self-deceit. The focus on the individual is apparent in the CoS and the belief that "no redeemer liveth" highlights how each person is their own redeemer, fully responsible for the direction of their own life. LaVey once stated "Satanists are strange creatures. We know the idea of an omniscient, all-powerful God who watches over each of us and listens to each of our prayers is an irrationality and a deep offense to any advanced mind. We see no evidence of justice or answered prayers in the world around us. If the Judeo-Christian "God" is all-powerful, all-knowing, he's damned churlish and incompetent." His attack on Christianity makes a valid point, however it is notable that Christianity remains to be the dominant faith in America. This shows that the majority of Americans hold traditional religious beliefs which have ultimately assisted in shaping American identity, despite the emergence of other religions.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Week Nine - The Science of Tom

If yawl've ever wondered what there could possibly be left to spend wisely on, after that six-bedroom house is paid for, those three German-engineered Sports cars, including that Phantom Black Audi R8, with Oxygen Silver Side-blade, are all finally tucked nicely beside each other, and in the Order you want the too, German Shepard Keiser finally has that second floor to his dog-house, that he's been barking after for the last five months, and the Air-Guitar Shaped pool finally has the Swastika-laiden marble layed down, then look no further discerning dignitaries of leisurely life. The Church of Scientology is for you. For a reasonably substancial donation, you too, can take your very own place amongst the Feast of the Immortals, a selected gathering of only the finest, purest and most Obediently Character-worthy of Stand-up guys and gals. With a simple auditing, you will experience a Colonostomy like you've never experienced before, that will forever-more, leave you free, and uncorrupted of any harmful toxins, and emotional doubt you may have previously picked up in your former Spawn-infected, Fornicating life of Selfishness, and over-indulgence. This Cleansing of Soul & Mind will leave you born again into an entirely new state of Emotional Enlightenment and Self-Awarness, transforming your whole being into a new, and improved Pillar of Propriaty, and goodness. Selfless in your ways, you will now undertake a series of tasks to prove your continuing loyalty to the Jedi-Federation. For instance, keeping watch for infultrating elements seeking to destroy Davinia Province, maintaining strict boundary-lines between the Chief Ketchup and the Heinz Ketchup in the Cooler (I'm more of a Chief Brown Sauce man myself actually), and most importantly of all, always making sure your younger understudies have a trusty mop in their hands to clean up the mess, whenever you squirt over the Chunky Chips and out onto the floor below. Yes, the hartships you'll encounter shall seem great, but only for a while. For when that day of true immotality arrives, and heaven opens its Pearly Gates and tips down its hat, as you stand on that breath-taking mount in reciet, you and yours will forever-more enjoy the fullest of benifits, and continuing comfort of that six-bedroom, Ocean-view Veranda house and Air-Guitar pool, those German-engineered high-performance Sports Cars in the Garage, including the Phantom Black Audi, with Oxgen-Silver Side-Blade, and best of all Chunky Chips, with a lifetime supply of Chief Brown sauce in the fridge ready for topping. Mmmm....

Friday, 30 April 2010

African Methodist Episcopal Church

The African Methodist Episcopal Church, (or AMEC), is a.... as you might guess, a Methodist church created by African-Americans. It is not however, and states over and over again on their website, exclusively for Black people, and will welcome anyone from any denomination through their doors.

The AMEC was founded in Philadelphia, in 1818, and only went ahead when the main founder, and first Bishop of AMEC, Richard Allen won a number of lawsuits allowing him, and his congregation, the right to religous autonomy in 1805 and 1815.

They are still going to this day, and have a rough congregation size of around 7,000.
Only person has posted on Religion
Only three posts on Crash

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Religion in America

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS) is a fundamentalist mormon group that has split from the larger, more mainstream religion. Whilst the religion has a fairly small following, believed to be in the region of around 10,000 people, it has gained a substantial amount of notoriety over recent years. One of the reasons it has been in the public eye is due to its acceptance andencouragement of polygamy among its members, something that is frowned upon by the more mainstream followers of the religion. Another feature that distinguishes the FLDS from lots of other religions in the USA is the extent of control the church exercises over its members and the compliance it demands, such as dressing a certain way and raising children in a certain manner. A further aspect of the church's extemist ideals and beliefs can be found in its articles of Faith, in which it is stated that they believe in 'the gift of tongues, prophecies... and visions'. All these factors suggest a fairly extreme and controlling religion, the likes of which may be limited to somewhere such as the USA, where so many of the population are strongly religious and feel it is an integral part of everyday life. The fact that the religions alleged prophet, Warren Jeffs, was arrested in 2007 due to sex abuse crimes and none of the followers really spoke out or left the religion shows the extent of religious belief within the USA, and especially within the FLDS.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Crash - Review, and Personal Reflection

L.A.'s Race-and Traffic-Problems Face Off in Paul Haggis' Crash

This is an incredibly disparaging and chastising review of "Crash". The reviewer, Andrew Sarris, appears to be simply 'knit-picking' when it comes to the faults that he finds in the film. A fine example of Sarris' aggrevating reaction to the film would be "[after writing about the two car jackers, and their individual endings] ...And speaking of disbelief, the film manages to keep the hotheaded Iranian shopkeeper from killing anyone by a stroke of what I can only describe as fairy-tale magic. Again, one has to see it to disbelieve it"


HE WANTED THE LITTLE GIRL TO DIE?! If that had happened, and there were real bullets in that gun over the blanks that were really in it then... my god that would be one depressing film. That's another bizzare interporatation that I've found from critics, that Crash has some 'relieving comedy aspects' in it.... which is like the critics stating that "Slumdog Milionare" and "Up" are 'feel good' movies.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

"Moving at the speed of life, we are bound to collide with each other." - Crash review

Many Oscar winners and nominations for Best Picture have been subject to debate and some people argue that the Academy's decision comes down to a 'flavour of the year' attitude. Crash is a film that has sparked much controversy among film critcs after winning Best Picture in 2005. As a film buff I subscribe to both Empire and Sight and Sound magazines but do not pay attention to the reviews; essentially, it is down to personal opinion whether a film is worthy of praise or not. After finally watching Crash on Monday, I believe that it was most worthy of winning the Oscar over the other nominations: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night, and Good Luck and Munich.

When I initially heard about Crash I conciously avoided it. I remember the advertising campaign when the film was released and did not realise the film would be socially concious and concentrate on such an important and relevant issue. From what I gathered, the film was just another star-studded crime thriller. Considering this, it is interesting to trace the history of Best Picture winners. Past winners including The Godfather and The Departed are not films that delve into societal issues and impact life outside of the cinema, they are just well shot crime dramas with an epic twist. Personally, I believe that a truly brilliant film should explore themes like a good book but portray them uniquely in the way that only moving image can. Crash applies to this as it is not only slickly shot, it also explores the lives of a mixture of ethnicities while elaborating on two themes: Race and redemption.

Crash is not a film that overtly intends to seek viewing pleasure. It does not offer escapism to the viewer; it rather presents an uncomfortable reality. Saying this, while watching the film I was thoroughly engaged with the story and found the film enjoyable thanks to the slick cinematography and straight-talking dialogue. It can be argued that these things simply gloss over the serious nature of the film but I felt it was very refreshing to see all the conventions of a Hollywood blockbuster applied to a story that is stereotypical of independent filmmaking. There is an air of sophistication in Crash; it may not portray reality in all its grit but issues are presented accessably to the viewer via a variety of ways. However, this aspect of viewer manipulation has caused much of the debate in relation to Crash's success.

This argument is exemplified in Scott Foundas's response to film critic Roger Ebert's Crash review. While Ebert praised director Paul Haggis in potentially making his audience better people by moving them to "have a little more sympathy for people not like themselves", Foundas (from LA) believes that Haggis doesn't accurately reflect the city of Los Angeles. He sarcastically comments that he has "made lots of meaningful connections with others, none of which have been the result of a car accident" and unlike Ebert's praising of realistic characters, Foundas beleives that the characters in Crash are calculated, "plugged by Haggis into a schematic thesis about how we are all, in the course of any given day, the perpetrators and the victims of some racial prejudice." To some extent this is true, but Foundas fails to see the positive implications of presenting people in this light, especially in terms of progression and changing one's beliefs. I agree with Ebert that the strongest performance in Crash is by Matt Dillon, playing the racist cop John who is in anguish over his father. However, Foundas simply describes his story as "A white racist cop sexually assaults a black woman, then the next day saves her life." While watching the scene where he saves her from the burning flames, I initially held the same pessimistic view but I reminded myself that the film is not just about racism, it's about redemption and how situations are not always as black and white as they seem; people should look beyond what is presented before them. In regards to whether Haggis's manipulation with audience expectations has positive or negative implications, the only way to find out is to watch the film again, not distracted by the unpredictable heart-string pulling scenes or the slick cinematography.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Week Seven - Crash

Paul Haggis' 2004 Oscar-winnig turbulent tale of diversity - Crash, brings together a distinguished cast of notable names to reflect the boiling-point issues of race and descrimination, forever lurking over the shoulders of a sprawling Los Angeles community. The film reflects the hibernating resentment of true-blue America towards any outside co-inhabitation. For better term, those seen simply as outsiders. Wheather they are legal or illegal, seems to hold little sway with the higher-up or middle/working classes who control the system, be it financial, Legal, Welfare or otherwise. The same roller-pin of segregation paints everyone who's not from "Down round these parts right here" the very same. Though dark in tone, the stories paralell exsistences come face to face in many incidences such as the two gangbangers deciding on an apparent whim, after a rather philosophical confersation of note on the subject of colour, to hijack the black SUV of the very people the discussion was based on. Both of which, of course, are white (Brendan Fraser and Sandra Bullock). Refreshed and upbeat, they leave a resturant after a seemingly pleasant meal and evening out when the senators wife (Sandra Bullock) notices the two black men on the side-walk glancing at them as they pass by and instinctivly, she covers up. Shortly after, they are converged upon by the two as they sit into their car, ready to drive home. The experience proves altogether too much for Mrs Cabot (Sandra Bullock) who, later on in the film, after arriving home safe and sound from them filling out a report for the missing vehical, soon after retreats into something of state of depression derriving from the ordeal which, in turn only fuels her distrust of colour in general. Enter - Mexican-American locksmith, and conveniently so. From Scott Foundas' point of view, Haggis fronts the sympathizing angle on her still shaken frame of mind, and rightly so, instead of condemning her to the mountain top for verbally enforcing a potential accusation or "What if", of the locksmith making copies of their key for his "Gangbanger friends" to come back and burgle them. Personally, I'd say after the time she's been through, she would be perfectly justifiable and entitled to just a little bout of thunderous venting. In Foundas' directionless rant he says, "Instead, when Sandra Bullocks pampered Brentwood housewife accuses a Mexican-American locksmith of copying her keys for illicit purposes, Haggis doesn't condemn her reprehensible behavior so much as he sympathizes with it." There's nothin' reprehensible about it because she didn't directly accuse him of anything. All she did was propose the possibility of it happening which I've already said, perfectly justifiable after what happened, wouldn't you think. For me, (Sandra Bullocks character is the most interesting because she draws on the feelings we hide most, the everyday ins and outs that sometimes secretly just makes us want to disect the world piece by piece and get rid of anyone in our way who poses any threat to out comfy exsistence. Later on in one of the most poigniant scenes in the film is when she is talking to her husband (Brendan Fraser) on the phone from work, her laid-bare frame of mind mentallity awakens itself when she describes herself as being "Angry all the time, and I don't know why". For me, this pretty much clinched her the Oscar for most interestingly messed-up character above everyone else in the film. Roger Eberts review and response to the soarly missplaced analystic ramblings of Foundas, is one of a calmer overview to the films diversely related structure. He says "If there is hope in the story, it comes because as the characters crash into one another, they learn things, mostly about themselves. Almost all of them are still alive at the end, and are better people because of what has happened to them." Which is very true, just because Foundas lives in Los Angeles, as glamorous as that sounds to the outside world around, doesn't mean he knows a damn thing about what goes on within it. There's a saying in western civilization that goes - "Sometimes you just can't see the forest for the trees." As for the Slick Cinematography, Paul Haggis creates a wonderful wide-angle world for these unsuspecting characters intertwining lives to collide or indeed Crash into one another in L.A.'s unforgiving sprawl, bringing to life an atmoshere that is as profoundly desolate as it rewarding.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Native American Tribes - Southern Ute

This is the flag for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe who are based in Colorada State. The Southern Utes Tribe are part of a larger group of tribes collectively known at the Utes. Whilst describing the history of the tribes and how they ended up in Colorado, no mention is made of them moving there under any duress and if the reader did not know any better, could easily be under the impression that the Utes moved and developed their way of life of their own accord. According to the website, the SOuthern Ute Tribe appears to be extremely well organised, with a casino and a number of active community projects. The Southern Ute Tribe is considered to be one of the more financially prosperous tribes with assets of over $4 million for it's 11,000 members. Some of this is attributed to Leonard Burch, former tribe leader who died in 2003.

Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes

For my two tribes, I have chosen the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. I chose these tribes as they are a good example of modernisation in the Native American community. Where many of the Tribes of America were simply whiped out in the 19th century, the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes worked together to preserve their tribes. In 1937, the two tribes made their cooperation and partnership official by forming a single government and gaining recognition from the Federal government of the USA.

Today, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes seem to be quite prosperous, in 2007; their economic impact was estimated around $27mil and rising. They own a number of different casinos, which span two states and four counties; and founded the Arapaho & Cheyenne Tribal College, to allow Native Americans access to education, but also to increase awareness in the 'outside' community.

Native American Tribes - Blackfeet

This flag is for the Blackfeet Indian Tribe based in Montana. This tribe is considered to have one of the highest levels of poverty, however this is completely glossed over on the website. They do however, acknowledge the impact that the "white man" has had on thier population, especially alluding to the smallpox virus and the annialation of the buffalo. What is interesting is that what historians today consider to be a systematic killing of the buffalo is referred to as a "federal mistake". It is clear from the history section of the webstie, that the Blackfeet firmly believe that land was taken from them and continue to fight for this resoration. It is interesting that in a number of news reports, this tribe is considered poverty striken, however form the website, the tribe looks prosperous and is activly recruiting new members.

Russell Means - these from Alasdair

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Week Six - Captain Jim Shoshoni
This is a picture of Captain Jim Shoshoni taken in 1880. It is one of many, taken from an educational website for kids in which they can learn about Native American Culture, and the over 140,000 Native American Tribal Chiefs, the sight has on offer. The sight itself, is designed by Paul Burke and can be navigated easily through a series of figuritively informative profiles.

Week Six - "It Is Him".

This is another native American image from the website. Strange in name, yet friendly in face, "It Is Him" sits calmly and easy, as though listening to a long lost friend recant stories of some journey past. This picture was taken in Otoe, 1907.

Week Six - Hot Coffee

This is a standing image of Commanchi Tribal Chief - Hot Coffee from 1894.

Native American Tribes

The Cherokee Tribe consists of over 200,000 tribal members, making it the second largest Native American tribe in the US. Cherokee Nation is the official website of the tribe and provides a large amount of information about both the history of the tribe and the current issues affecting them, as well as general information about things such as language and cultural projects. The history section of the website provides an indepth overview of the general history of the tribe, key events that involved the cherokee people, information on the trail of tears and other info such as biographies of tribal members and lists of the tribal chiefs. All the history provided is detailed and describes the tribes interactions with both the white settlers as well as just their history. The news part of the website details current affairs that the tribe are involved with such as the setting up of a food distribution centre and acts being passed by the tribal council. A lot of the news is focused on the cherokee nation helping out and being involved with community projects within the tribe including things such as daycare for teenage mums and retirement savings workshops. This coverage suggests that the tribe is very much focused on caring for and protecting its own community, trying to improve the welfare of its members.

The Rosebud Sioux tribe are a native American tribe located in the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota. Their website provides a re large amount of information on all aspects of the tribe and their homeland, including info on their history, education, government, news and culture. The section on history provides videos explaining the tribes creation story, as well as a detailed timeline focusing primarily on political events i.e bills and laws passing, that have affected the tribe. The news section contains stories from both local and national native American media outlets but as with the cherokee website, the current issues seem to be predominantly focused on community welfare issues.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Native American tribes

In the website for The Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas, there is a sense of optimism and pride as current events include a feature on Lipan Apache tribal member Uvalle RedKnife being chosen to be one of the Native American faces of the 2010 Census. This is important for the Lipan Apache people as it allows them to proclaim their identity which will help assist their quest for Federal recognition. Their history is presented directly through an article from the journal 'Memoirs of the American Folk-Lore Society' called Myths and Legends of the Lipan Apache Indians. This academic style of information is representative of how the Lipan Apache's seek credibility of their tribe, expecially as the themes of "myth and conception" are discussed. As "Lipan stories take their inspiration from events which transpired in the underworld before the emergence", it is clear that only an academic tone can be taken seriously in regards to presenting myths as history.

Rather than focusing on just the tribe, The Navajo Nation is a wesbsite devoted to the Native American homeland of the Navajo people. Most of the current events presented on the website revolve around politics and voting for the 2010 Navajo Nation Primary Election in particular. Similar to the Lipan Apache tribe's website, the right to vote is presented here and this suggests that Native American tribes deem voting as a high priority. In contrast with the Lipan Apache tribe's website, the Navajo Nation's history is presented as factual explaining their geography: "The Navajo Nation extends into the states of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, covering over 27,000 square miles of unparalleled beauty. Navajoland is larger than 10 of the 50 states in America.", their work in World War II: "Unknown to many, the Navajo language was used to create a secret code to battle the Japanese. Navajo men were selected to create codes and serve on the front line to overcome and deceive those on the other side of the battlefield. Today, these men are recognized as the famous Navajo Code Talkers, who exemplify the unequaled bravery and patriotism of the Navajo people." thier government: "Navajo government has evolved into the largest and most sophisticated form of American Indian government." and explanation of their flag. Such phrases as "unparalleled beauty", "unequaled bravery" and "largest and most sophisticated" used to describe their history exemplifies how the Navajo are a very proud people.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Anti-Latino sentiments and racism

This is a group of Californians that believe that their state is 'under attack'. The site in question doesn't encourage racism, but instead is seen as a front for more extreme members.

pro latino immigration

Border Angels is an organisation that was set up in 1986 and describes itself as a "non profit organisation supporting humanity", aiming to stop the numerous deaths that occur each year when immigrants try to cross the border. Whilst not openly advocating the immigration of mexicans into the US, the group provides essentials necessary to allow the safe crossing across the border, such as rescue stations with waster in the summer and food clothing in storage bins in the winter. The group does not state political leanings regarding the issue of immigration but instead approaches it froma purely humanitarian and practical point of view.

anti latino immigration

Defend Colorado Now describes itself as a multiple issue committee that supports reform on immigration legislation. The website talks of understanding the 'fundamental fairness' of not allowing illegal foreign residents to reside in the US and utilise services intended for US citizens. The website focuses mainly on the different legislation in place already and what reforms are needed and are beginning petitioned for. The website doesnt really seem to offer any justification for its views other than that illegal residents shouldnt be using their services or taking jobs. The website presents itself as being fairly intellectual yet their seems to be little information to back up their argument. However i suppose its necessary to take into account colorados positioning in the US, neighbouring New Mexico. This means that colorado is likely to have seen a larger influx of illegal immigrants than many other states which may go some way to explaining the negative attitudes towards illegal immigrants.
Only two posts on Friday morning at 9.30...

We did move the class to give you extra time to do this and the extra time is so that you can read other people's posts before we meet - but that doesn't work if you post late (or if you only write a few words)

I trust all the posts will be up before 12.00!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Week Five - Invasion Row

Week Five - Anti-Latino Immigration

This is CNN's ex-current affairs anchor and out spoken Anti-immigration activist - Lou Dobbs. The online news publication L.A. Progressive ran a segment not so long ago about the media figure now at CBS, being dropped by and on rather ill-terms ever since with the Anti-immagration group ALIPAC, because of slight change of heart on illegal-immagration. Dobbs, once hailed Champion of America's favourite Anti-immagration extreamist group is now on the outs with the right wing organisation and have also dropped their backing for his 2010 Presidential bid for the hill.

Week Five - Pro-Latino Immigration

Immigration Impact
This is a Pro-Latino immigration website documenting accounts of Border Patrol filtering tactics aboard the national expressway bus company - Greyhound. Apparently, the organisation found that Border Patrol officers were knowingly let on bus routes with Greyhound employees for the sole porposes of identifying any illegal, under the radar passengers that might have come from across the Mexican boarder to reach the U.S. The Rights group watchdog for treatment of illegal-immagrants are now urging every legal Latino-American immagrant in the U.S. to boycott the Expressway giant as sign of protest.

Latino Immigration Issues

There are a variety of pro Latino immigration websites that aim to prevent negative attitudes of immigration by emphasising a Mexican work ethic including BEYOND THE BORDER the accompanying website for a documentary film that traces four sons who leave their close-knit family in Mexico to seek a better life in the US. Issues such as immigrant deaths due to hazardous conditions while trying to cross the border and how millions Mexican-born people living in the US are undocumented is presented in this website and there is a suggestion that Congress should push a "guest worker program, wherein Mexican workers could freely come and go across the border but would not be allowed to stay in the US permanently". Mexican immigrants are reflected neutrally in the 'Immigration Issues' section: "many Mexicans work in the United States to help support their families south of the border". This can be perceived pessimistically in the sense that Mexican immigrants drain the US economy for the Mexican economy's profit but I believe this statement applies to the principle of the American Dream as their intentions for immigrating to the US is purely to provide a better life for their families, not to live a life of luxury.

Comparatively, Coalition Against Illegal Immigration is an anti Latino immigration website that encourages a coalition of bloggers to "fight against illegal immigration". In the post 'Rush cashes in on Democrat demonizing', the opinion of Mexican immigration is set in stark contrast to that of BEYOND THE BORDER as it is adversely stated that "For some reason, Americans have this romantic vision of hard working Mexicans fleeing their native land to find a better life in the US" and "the reality is that all illegal immigrants have broken our laws by illegally entering this nation". Mexican immigrants are referred to as "criminals" and this appears to be the main gripe of bloggers from this website. This however does not take into account the reasons why they flee to the US and the hostile tone of this post makes the validity of this argument questionable.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Hurricane Katrina

While these videos aren't from this site, I just wanted to post them. is a site that was redesignated by the owner of the domain name '', it is now dedicated to telling individual stories about their experiences of Hurricane Katrina.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Assimilation and Separatism - Hurricane Katrina

Life after the hurricane

Both of these articles come from the website The Website is called "Black Voices" and is an online lifstyle magazine for the black community. Alhough the whole website is not devoted to Hurricane Katrina, a simple search brings up a number of articles particularly around the aftermath.

The article I have chosen contains a number of videos of black people talking about their feelings. As the author says at the beginning, the media has been quick to portray the black community of New Orleans as "alternately violent during the heat of the tragedy and passive during its rebuilding". The videos portray a very different view of the black community and illustates a number of people who are positive about their future. Some are questioning government and certain aspects that have not been publicly discussed, however the majority are definately not passive during the rebuilding of the area.

The majority of the articles on the site show the black community in a positive light and seem to have almost "ignored" the race issues raised by Kanye West. This seems to be an almost Martin Luther King way of dealing with matters rather than fighting and raising any concerns around race wars. The only article that I found on the site which even alludes to the Kanye West school of thought was at the bottom of the page which discusses an article written in another magazine.

Hurricane Katrina & African Americans

Hurrican Katrina hit the coasts of Mississippi and Louisiana in August 2005. An area that was particularly badly hit was New Orleans, which was and still is a predominantly African American area. The chaos that ensued after the hurricanes devastation of the city brought to light a number of issues regarding African Americans in contemporary America.

A comment that illustrates some of the issues facing African Americans in the US was provided by Alphonso Jackson (a Bush era HUD secretary) who guaranteed that New Orleans was "not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again". Having previously made up 67% of New Orleans population, the African American community has decreased significantly due to both the hurricane and the problems in its aftermath.

Housing has become a particular issue for African Americans in New Orleans. Many of the homes most badly damaged were those owned by African Americans on low incomes. As such, 1000's are in "FEMA trailers awiting curiously delayed federal aid money" in order to repair their houses. However whilst there are some who are waiting for housing repairs, many more have been pushed into selling their houses and entering the rented market which has thrown up more problems. African Americnas, alongside latinos have found themselves disciminated against in the rented market, with research by Professor John Baugh and theNational Fair Housing Alliance suggesting that white renters were favoured by landlords.

A final issue that has affected African Americans in the wake of Hurrican Katrina has been in regards to crime and racial profiling. As a result of the movement of evacuees, some areas hosting these evacuees experienced an increase in crime rates. This has resulted in an increase of racial profiling and cases like the Jena Six.

Week Four - Hurricane Katrina.

These two images are from a website documenting Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. They're from Well if there was ever a picture to simply slice your heart right down the middle, it's most likely this one right here. This little wet and weary, brown-eyed, long-haired terrior's just about had enough excitment for one lifetime and just wants to go home forever and absolutely ever. This was taken on September 10th, 2005 in New Orleans as rescued dogs are taken to the airport. Says it all really, doesn't it. The little fella's war-weary appearance reflects a true spirit of fighting courage in its purest form as he glances off at an angle, just happy to be safe and sound in his owners arms.

Week Four - Katrina.

This is a rather haunting image of a stray dog making his way down Lower Ninth Avenue in the flooded aftermath of the quake. They say pictures speak a thousand words but sometimes they're just not enough to describe the vast loneliness of this captured moment in time. A distant glare into the lense is probably all we'll ever know of what happend to this wandering best friend.

Week Four - Katrina
This is a hurricane identity-relief website in which loved ones or indeed someone you know or a concerned about can have their well-being checked up apon by simply tapping in a phone number by which can be traced to their whereabouts.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Hurricane Katrina: African-American issues

There are several relief websites for Hurricane Katrina but I have selected a website that focuses on the social and economic issues that the hurricane provoked, especially in regards to African-Americans.

Global Issues highlights how the rich were able to flee from the hurricane but the poor (typically African-American) were unable to, and therefore suffered the worst of its destructive power. Racist undertones and exaggeration courtesy of the media is reflected upon in the website, for example:

  • Due to lack of food and water, people began looting shops. The media showed pictures of African-Americans running riot, giving them a negative impression and a sense that they lose control when the system breaks down.
  • Media and political commentators remarked that if white people in such a situation, the situation would not have deteriorated so much.
  • Even though it was never verified, there were claims of babies being raped.

By reinforcing stereotypes of African-American behaviour through exaggerating reports of looting and social anarchy, the Hurricane Katrina disaster has sparked renewal of the "race or class" debate as it ultimately determined the fate of the African-American poor.

K-12: history of American immigration

Aimed at 5th Grade students, this website teaches children about the migration period during the years 1820 - 1924 and the experiences that immigrants had while being inspected at Ellis Island outside of New York City.

The interactive nature of the website combined with the enthusiastic language used conveys that immigration in America is celebrated in schools. For example, students are given the task of interviewing a person who is an immigrant from another country to the US and publishing their story on the internet for others to read. Such quotes as "the greatest migration period of the United States history" and "You will understand why the United States is called the nation of all nations" also establishes a positive and almost patriotic tone on the subject.

Students are asked to define vocubulary focusing on the journey that immigrants faced including "ferry" and "steerage" and the only country that is requested to be defined is Poland. Interestingly, students are asked to summarise Relive a Boy's Journey, a story about Seymour Rechtzeit, a Polish boy who immigrated to America and there is an emphasis on these factors as students are instructed to understand how he travelled to America and what problems he and his father faced in New York. The focus on Poland is perhaps due to the fact that when America was transforming from an agricultural to industrial society, Polish immigrants supplied a wave of manpower whom assisted this and are therefore celebrated. Also, by questioning students about the relationship between him and his struggling father, the portrayal of immigration as an opportunity for youth to rise is clear as he helps him financially by becoming a successful actor and singer in the US.

"Coming To America" is an entry for a 2009 internet competion; ThinkQuest. The aim of the competition was to get children to think more widely when it came to issues outside of what they would normally be taught in class.
These kids from Minnesota chose to do immigration, the history of, and how it affects America.

The site obviously isn't of the highest acedmic standard; to be honest, it's a pretty good site keeping in mind it was made by kids at the equivalent age of Year Five in the UK, but it does show that immigration is in the minds of school kids in America. They also present immigration with a very positive light, and provide a suprisingly in-depth analysis of immigration in the Minnesota area.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Week Three - Multi-Cultural America. Race & Ethnicity

This is an on-line adventure focusing on the basis for the flow of American migrants from the global spectrum and offering an insight into ways for a better quality of life through employment and educational rescources through personal accounts and experiences of its diverse influx and cultural melting pot.

Multicultural America - Immigration

This website contains notes and information from teachers on issues to be explored and projects to be used when teaching about immigration to 8th grade students.

The way in which the subject is approached seems very well rounded and fairly in depth with a number of different areas related to immigration being explored. The overall purpose of the module is described as "providing students with an understanding of the important contributions made by various ethnic groups who immigrated to the United States". It is suggested that this be explored via different avenues such as why people emigrated from their homeland, what difficulties they faced and where they settled etc. The whole concept of immigration to the US seems to be taught fairly in depth, teaching not just the history but how it has affected modern America e.g the problems that are still experienced by immigrants and the cultural make up of the US. The students are also encouraged to look into their own family background and construct 'family trees' in an attempt to explore their own ethnic roots. An acknowledgement to the lack of ethnic diversity and immigrant populations in certain areas within the US is made, by suggesting working with schools that possibly have a different ethnic majority to your own. Overall the issue of immigration to the US is explored from a number of different angles. However the one thing that seems to have been omitted is modernday immigration and how this affects the US, with the focus instead being primarily on the effects of past immigration.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Multi-Cultural America: Race and Ethnicity

"Strangers in the Land of Strangers"

This resource was recommended by the website which provides educational resources for teachers of K-12 American schoolchildren. The link here shows all of the resources available through the website on the subject of immigration in America.

A significant number of the resources tend to focus on immigration today rather than the history however the resource "Strangers in the Land of Strangers" from Pennsyvania Historical Society focuses on the life of immigrants throughout times of conflict ranging from the Revolution up to the Civil Rights movement.

The resources available seem to sometimes show a balanced view of immigration includes both the good and bad of the treatment of immigrants. This is particularly evident in the World War Two section which includes a poster asking citizens to report anyone who is spreading rumours about the war.

This particular poster demonstrates how in times of conflict, German residents in America became stigmatized, perhaps in a similar way as muslims after the 9/11 attacks. This would perhaps be a useful resource to link the past with the present by using this resource as a continuation of the the "times of conflict" theme.