Posted in WRD 308

WRD 308: Post 15

Another comic published within the Marvel Noir alternate continuity is Spier-Man Noir, set during the Great Depression. This page demonstrates poignantly the state of America during that time, as well as the state of its people.

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Aunt May is a character of righteous fury, fighting against tall odds. Not only does she see the suffering of the people around her, but the a lack of political leadership. She doesn’t believe that there is hope for the government to help the common people, and so she stands up to urge them to action. This runs somewhat opposite of Deadpool Pulp, in that it presents a character deliberately denouncing the U.S. government, rather than presenting a character who represents government corruption. This has multiple functions, including showing the ideologies of the frustrated people at the bottom of the hierarchy, as well as displaying an antagonistic force that is not the corruption of the upper echelons, but rather those who profit from their inefficacy—in this case, a criminal gang.

In this comic, the government is not malicious, but incompetent, allowing criminals to take a foothold over the people. It is a separate form of antagonism that nonetheless inundates the reader with disdain.

Posted in WRD 308

WRD 308: Post 14

Comics may be one of the best ways to convey political ideologies, due to their combination of visuals and dialogue. Such juxtaposition can imply far more than one without the other, particularly when the background is put to use. For example, look to this page from Deadpool Pulp, a four-issue comic series published as a part of the Marvel Noir alternate continuity:

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One might gather from this scene that the comic is portraying two American military officers during the Cold War, given their references to the “Federal Employee Loyalty Program,” Senator McCarthy, and the supposed imminent war with Russia. But the key here is the scenery: they are speaking in a paneled room, holding sports equipment and wearing athletic clothing—one might infer the scene to be taking place in an upscale club. These are people who would likely not be sent out to fight with enlisted men on the front lines, and thus they have little to fear directly from a  war. There is also irony within this scene, as they walk from the paneled lockers through a pair of shōji doors, past a man who appears to be of East Asian descent; they speak of a new war after having just gotten out of a war with Japan, while in an establishment inspired by Japanese architecture. They obviously do not harbor any particular feelings toward the opponents of whatever war they fight, instead appearing to desire war itself.

This comic series from which this page comes was published in the early 2010s, and serves as a commentary on the ideologies of America during the Cold War. As the comic progresses, it demonstrates that not only are these ideologies flawed, but may lead to utter inhumane depravity.

Posted in WRD 308

WRD 308: Post 13

There are obviously many more ideologies beyond the imperialistic, and most, if not all of them have at least one opposite against which a given one may be contrasted. However, these opposites need not be on conflicting ends of a spectrum; in fact, they may even be comprised of the same form of ideology in a different format. For example, as discussed in class, the US and Japan each employed propaganda during WWII claiming the other to be dishonorable, characterized by the shooting of soldiers in the back. One ideology was of US nationalism, and the other of Japanese nationalism—the same fish in a different tin.

However, there is a counterpart to this, wherein completely disparate ideologies are presented in a similar format. Such is seen often in advertising, particularly in the presentation of these two ads:

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“1 out of 5 women struggle with eating disorders.”

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“It’s hard to be a little girl when you’re not.”

It’s fairly obvious that, unlike the WWII propaganda, these two ads are different fish in the same tin: they each focus on the body, while pushing completely separate agendas. The advertisement about awareness for eating disorders shows a woman’s body being torn at by drawn figures, with the tagline “Dead scary” hinting that the eating disorder is tearing her apart, literally to death. The second advertisement features an overweight young girl in a defensive posture, with its tagline implying that her childhood has been negatively affected by her weight.

Both advertisements use the girls’ bodies as their focal point, thus rendering the girls themselves unfortunately irrelevant; they are no longer people with thoughts, personalities, and emotions, but merely the products of their eating habits. This allows each advertisement to ignore certain key features of the topics represented. For example, regarding the first advertisement, it must be said that eating disorders are not solely extant in people with low amounts of body fat. In fact, it is a terrible occurrence in our society that overweight people with eating disorders often go completely unnoticed until the disorders have deteriorated their health to a breaking point. This holds true in regard to the point of the second advertisement as well: An overweight person’s amount of body fat neither indicates a level of healthiness or unhealthiness—and although it is no rare phenomenon for a person to be both healthy and overweight at the same time, we as a culture tend to associate the two factors with each other, even going so far as to laud skinny people as being paragons of health (when it may actually be the case that they are quite the opposite).

Posted in WRD 308

WRD 308: Post 12

Look up “imperialist ideologies” on Google Images and you shall be met with a political cartoon so brash that racism flows off of it like sublimation off dry ice:

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I felt dirty the whole time I was uploading the image. It is blatantly imperialistic, for certain, as well as abhorrently pretentious, depicting personifications of America and Britain hauling seemingly savage peoples up a mountain towards “civilization,” over such stones as “slavery” and “oppression.” It’s ironic that the artist assumed imperialism to involve liberating people from these concepts, when in reality they were most prominently demonstrated by imperialists. Yet such ideas as these remain even in the undertones of more subtle works, much as we would like to claim to have moved past them on the whole.

There is a strategy game called Europa Universalis IV, and I love it dearly. The aim of the game is to take charge of a country any time between 1444 and 1821, and to lead it to its height, dealing with historically accurate events and trying to take over the world if you can. But one thing that has always bugged me about this game is the concept of Technology Group costs. Essentially, if you aren’t classified under the “Western” Tech Group, you have to pay more to make your administration, diplomacy, and military more effective. This is understandable given the game mechanics, as colonialization works as a factor of technology level; thus, if non-Western groups didn’t have penalties, countries like the Ming dynasty would be the first to colonize the New World. For the sake of historical accuracy in this regard, the system must put in place barriers. However, this has the consequence of making playing as a European country preferable for beginners, and makes Westernization a tempting option for any countries struggling with excess costs. This isn’t to say that Westernizing is better or that countries in the Western Tech Group are superior, but it is set up specifically to encourage Western countries to adopt imperialist policies. Again, historically accurate, but at the cost of pushing an imperialist ideology.

(On a side note, it is the 1620s and the Mamluks are a world power; I’m hoping I can catch up to Persia’s tech level to take them on next, but they Westernized early while I was busy taking over Morocco.)

Luckily, great strides are being taken to demolish some of the biased methods of thinking that have become ingrained in American culture—and in some unexpected places, too. My favorite speech in comics history, for example, comes from Captain America, as he bashes the country from which he draws his name. In this comic, entitled  “What If?”, an alternate continuity has occurred, wherein the Red Scare grew so intense that the US declared a state of martial law. The Captain returns to his country to find it disturbingly similar to the Nazi-controlled Germany that he’d previously fought, and he spares no breath as he denounces the practices he sees before him, dashing nationalism and patriotic pride in favor of upholding liberty. With such words as, “Well, I say America is nothing! Without its ideals — its commitment to the freedom of all men, America is a piece of trash!” he berates those who uphold ideals of superiority, reminding everyone of the true measure of a nation.

The climactic scene, as well as a lovely introduction, is available at this link.

Posted in WRD 422

WRD 422: Post 13

Quotes from Planet Taco by Jeffrey M. Pilcher:

“But feeling that I had  not truly experienced carne asada, the grilled beef that is the centerpiece of norteño (nothern) cuisine, I recently traveled to Hermosillo 250 miles south of Tucson, Arizona, in the heart of Sonora’s cattle country. Getting there was no easy task, for although it is a state capital, it is poorly served even by Mexican airlines.” (1)

I thought this was a bit odd for a state capital, until I recalled that Frankfort is by no means a major population center, despite being Kentucky’s capital. However, my confusion returned upon reading that the Colegio de Sonora is based in Hermosillo. As Pilcher described his trek around the city, it became clear that this was indeed a commercial center like unto Lexington, if not larger; thus, my confusion over the lack of air traffic remains.

“As connoisseurs of global street cuisine can attest—and as my experiment readily confirmed—fast food in the United States is not particularly fast. Street vendors can prepare elaborate dumplings, noodles, sandwiches, and, of course, tacos as quickly as any chain restaurant can serve a nondescript hamburger, never mind the time spent waiting at the drive-through window.” (4)

I have been both cheated and lied to, and I demand retribution. I will accept said retribution in the form of free food prepared quickly and given to me in forms both hot and delicious. I’m waiting, America.

“Recent biological research indicates that the fantastic myth of the Popul Vuh may well have happened, but in reverse, with humans taking an active role in the creation of maize. While most crops were domesticated through a mundane process of gradual experimentation, often on multiple occasions, the origins of maize were little short of miraculous. Botanists once thought that maize, like its cousin teosinte, was derived from a common ancestral plant, now extinct. However, recent genetic analysis has shown that it was domesticated directly from teosinte through a single, incredibly rare mutation. . . . Crossed back with neighboring strands of teosinte, to propagate the mutation, maize fluorished under human protection, and to this day, it cannot reproduce in the wild.” (25)

This paragraph was a bit of a rollercoaster ride for me. As it began with “. . . the fantastic myth of the Popul Vuh may well have happened . . .” I became ridiculously excited; this was something I’d never heard of before in human history. Then the words “but in reverse” stopped me short, as I thought, “Oh, well, of course, humans created maize, duh. Every crop was domesticated at one point. This isn’t anything new.” I skimmed my eyes idly down the page, not expecting to find much of interest, when I was stopped once again by the word “mutation.” A single mutation is a blip in the DNA, a simple whoops moment in the formation of a living thing—meaning that an entire domesticated species developed because a single odd plant was stumbled upon at the right time. Teosinte gave rise to maize, which gave rise to corn, which exists in our foods, our drinks, our gas tanks. All the result of a chance encounter. Geez, humans are lucky sometimes.

“In the days of the Aztecs, the Taco Bell dog would have been in the gorditas.” (27)

Should I be laughing at this? I feel bad for laughing at this. I think it was the shock value more than anything else; I didn’t expect a paragraph about material resources to end in quite such an abrupt manner, but it sure was memorable.

“Definitions of race therefore depended as much on culture as on physical appearance, and the baker’s guild of Mexico City reinforced this artifical hierarchy by producing breads appropriate for every rank and income.” (30)

Okay, a few things here. First, there was a baker’s guild in Mexico City. I imagine this wasn’t the only one of its kind, but as the self-proclaimed world’s greatest lover of baked goods, any news of a guild dedicated to baking makes my heart lighter. Until, that is, the guild reinforces racial hierarchies. Why do imperialists have to ruin everything?

“. . . Mónica de la Cruz, a mulata accused of sorcery by the Inquisition in 1652, was a vendor of tamales.” (34)

Gonna be honest here, I did not expect the Spanish Inquisition. [Forgive me.]

Posted in WRD 308

WRD 308: Post 11

Original Cover:

Skyrim_Cover

Remixed Cover:

Skyrim Cover Remix

I chose to expand upon the Skyrim box art, as it is a fairly simple design with a room to incorporate further additions. My first thought was to use an image of Skyrim’s vast landscape or its tallest mountain, but I decided to used one of the most iconic barrows of the game, as much of Skyrim is experienced through its dungeons. I was originally going to avoid using the original cover altogether, using the sky or a similarly open area as the background for the title text in order to keep the space from being overly busy, which would detract from the ability to read the words. After choosing the barrow image, I realized I would need some sort of stability to hold the image together, at which point I brought in the idea of keeping the original cover. By breaking through it, I wished to show the expansiveness of the world beyond, demonstrating that there was much more to be seen behind the bounds of the box art. I kept the original logo, but used a transparent version in order to make as much of the barrow behind it visible as possible, then placed a fire within the dragon’s gut to draw the eye.

Posted in WRD 422

WRD 422: Post 11

Quote from Gustavo Arellano’s Taco USA (13-14):

“Accurate accounts of the first encouters between the Spaniards and the various natives they met upon landing in what’s now Mexico are notoriously difficult to ascertain: readers must take contemporary accounts such as Hernán Cortés’s letters to King Charles V, and his soldier Bernal Díaz del Castillo’s The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico, as biased apologias for their actions, while Aztec dialogues and codices written years after the Conquest under the careful eyes of Spanish priests serve better as anthropological curiosities than truthful dialogues.”

It is more than unfortunate that so many of the accounts of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec people are either blatant affirmations of justification by the Spaniards, or were constructed under such scrutiny as to ensure that the conquistadors were painted in the appropriate golden light. History is written by the victors, and it is unlikely that we will ever truly know what the Aztecs faced during this time. Thus, a large portion of this history of modern Mexico is lost to us.

Posted in WRD 308

WRD 308: Post 10

Quote from Framing the Study of Visual Rhetoric: Toward a Transformation of Rhetorical Theory, Chapter 14, by Sonja K. Foss:

“Exactly what the message is of an artifact is often open to myriad interpretations, limiting its persuasive potential but expanding its potential to communicate functions that may be less dominating and more invitational (Foss and Griffin), more eclectic, and more fragmented. Study of the visual, then, may help move rhetorical theory away from a focus on changing others to attention to a much broader array of functions for symbols and thus to a greater understanding of the infinitely varied actions that symbols can and do perform for audiences.”

The core of this argument is that, while discursive rhetoric’s main function is almost exclusively to persuade, visual rhetoric is much more abstract in its functions. Since the majority of rhetorical theory focuses on discursive rhetoric, this inadvertently leads to a restriction in the way many people approach visual rhetoric; if you define the features of rhetoric using only those related to discourse, you cannot develop new theories to explain differences in the visual sphere. You are left attempting to apply concrete rules to a fluid topic.

Posted in WRD 308

WRD 308: Post 9

Created via the YouTube editor. Problems with the editor made the addition of music unfeasible. Black and white filters were added to the shots with the theme of sadness in order to desaturate the setting, as being void of color often evokes a feeling of emotional depression. Happier shots were contrasted by being very slightly oversaturated.