"Here one drowns/we drown Algerians"
I know that the reading for this week was dense and that we are only assigned the introduction and chapters 2, 5, and 7. However, I just want to encourage you to skim through chapter 6 which focuses on the Algerian War. In this chapter, Mirzoeff does a great job of analyzing the visual imagery in films about the Algerian War and connecting these analyses to his overall argument about visuality and countervisuality. I found the  use of examples clearer than those in chapter 5. 

Reading through this chapter and make me think of the October 17, 1961 massacre of Algerian protesters in Paris. Although Mirzoeff does not mention this event in the chapter (unless I missed it), the massacre--which involved the violent murder of some 70-200 peaceful protesters by Paris police and the beating and arrest of hundreds of others, and for which the French government has yet to officially apologize--seems to me an illustration of visuality working to render the Other invisible.  
"To the memory of the many Algerians killed during the bloody repression of the non-violent protest of October 17, 1961" | Walkway of Fraternity
Deloria's text also made me think about other contemporary "expectations" of today's Natives, including the supposed "traditional knowledge" they keep about the future (or end) of the world. Mayans, Hopi -- there is a strong connection for some folks between some indigenous cultures in the Americas (can't speak about other places) and aliens, making Natives a solid part of UFO culture and lore. Of course, this is very much based on stereotypical views of Natives, but I am less interested in those stereotypes than in how they form a relationship with ideas about aliens and/or the apocalypse. -- Tiffany
Yeah, posting in pieces because that's how I process. Anyway, I started wondering why people who believe in aliens or apocalypse even need Indians mixed in there. I mean, beliefs in extraterrestrial beings and the end of the world have been around for centuries, certainly before the "New World" was "discovered." So what do indigenous groups from the Americas bring to the table?

In short? Authenticity. If one surmises (as some folklore researchers do) that aliens represent a secularized version of angels and demons, then Natives provide a link between the extraterrestrial (with their almost magical superior technology, not to mention being from realms unknown) and the terrestrial. If aliens have been around since the so-called ancient times, then only those peoples with ancient memories can attest to their reality with any surety. And Natives are perceived to have maintained an unbroken link to their ancestral heritage, including being able to translate petroglyphs that seem to show people meeting with alien beings.

With regard to the endtimes, the nature of the apocalypse in North America has also become increasingly secularized. Though there are still plenty of people who stick to Judgment Day according to the Book of Revelation, many people consider a more nature-alized scenario, where natural (or, again, extraterrestrial) disaster will wipe out great swaths of humanity.

Once again, with the general "expectation" that Natives have a stronger connection to the natural world than anyone else, a prophecy that predicts any major world change (often turned into an end of days scenario) provides authenticity. It absolutely does not matter whether such prophecies are "true" or "false," "real" or "not real." What matters is the affective relationship non-Natives have with their expectations of Natives in order to provide validity to apocalyptic scenarios or to visitations by alien beings.

(sorry for the book....had to get it out while I was still thinking about it.)
This actually relates to both this class and AMST 524, in which last week we read Sarah Banet-Weiser's Authentic: The Politics of Ambivalence in Brand Culture. Banet-Weiser talks about brands as being all wrapped up in American culture and how such branding is about the selling of not just products but emotional relationships between consumer and company (where the company might be a big corporation like Dove or an individual selling him/herself online). Of course, while reading that I thought about West's coffee ethnography and the creation of affective relationships re: specialty coffees, among other things.

Anyway, I had a rather cool moment in my WSt 200 class today that I wanted to reflect on. We're beginning a section on media representations of women, and I showed them the Dove Evolution commercial from 2006 that launched Dove's Real Beauty campaign. About half the class had seen the commercial already, and they were quite familiar with the idea that beauty is constructed in these ads to fit certain (mainly unattainable) ideals. I asked them what possible benefit Dove might have in providing the consuming public with this "revelation." In essence, what is Dove selling? One student raised her hand and answered, "I think they're selling a relationship, trying to show us that they're not so bad and that they care about us."

It was a pretty rad moment for me to witness how many people realize, on some level, the branding that happens and the huge extent to which companies will go to foster "authentic" relationships with their consumers. I guess my question was (and I would have asked the student, but it would have gotten us off track from the subject matter at hand, maybe) how much that actually affected their consumption choices if they do understand this branding as another marketing ploy.

You ever notice how you're reading about coffee and then you check your Facebook and the number of people posting images of coffee seems to skyrocket? Yeah. It probably hasn't gone up, that number... I'm just noticing it more right now. lol  -- Tiffany
Pic comes from Cheezburger.com.
I love how Tsing verbalizes the frontier as ideology. Her description is very close to how we're discussing the concept of frontier in my history class this term (history of the American West), from the creation of wilderness to be conquered/salvaged, its "inert" landscape to be "discovered" and subsequently "dismembered and packaged" (29).

One of the reasons I'm taking that history class, and one of the reasons I love Tsing's description, is because part of my overall diss work looks at how the "frontier" continues to manifest in popular culture through the post-apocalyptic. So many representations of the post-apocalyptic landscape include a defunct urban setting where "the wilderness" is beginning to creep back in, sometimes violently. I'm thinking of I Am Legend, where former zoo animals are roaming the dead streets of New York City, or A.I., where again New York City is mostly flooded. Compare with some more rural pA landscapes such as in the miniseries The Stand (and the Stephen King book on which it is based), where the plague survivors tend to run around the entire US countryside and all the weather is the same (from New England to Boulder, CO to Las Vegas, with all of the Midwest in between). The landscape's main function as a character in these representations is either to remain "inert" and something that survivors can pass through/ignore, or as a barrier characterized by some kind of deadness (Cormac McCarthy's The Road is a good example).

I'm still working through these connections, but I think it's important for me to think about how the pA wasteland functions as a new frontier, of sorts -- how that frontier differs from the frontier that allows for resource extraction, how audiences respond to this "new" frontier, and how that notion of frontier informs how they understand survival for themselves.

One point Tsing makes that is blowing my mind right now (in terms of usefulness for my own work) is its strange temporality. She says, "The frontier is not a philosophy but rather a series of historically nonlinear leaps and skirmishes" (33). The influence of Frederick Jackson Turner is still present, I would say, in the way many people think about frontier. Even if it is a creation, it still acts for many in a linear way. In pA literature, the landscape is often presented as a "back to frontier" scenario, which is simplified as a "back to wilderness" scenario. But Tsing is giving me different ways to think about various frontiers, and it's exciting to see how they might apply to our creative landscapes.

(Blog post is mostly way off topic from the book as a whole, I know, but this is where my brain goes quite often -- especially when I'm sick. Weeee!) 

So, this was a post I meant to do days ago, but of course Life happened. Anyway, in an effort to mitigate my general lack of eloquence in class, I'm hoping to get more on this blogging scene. :)

First, let me just say that I am fascinated by YouTube, both as a collection of folk communities and as a virtual space fraught with anxiety about these very IP issues that we talk about in class. The IP issues are multi-layered; not only do users have to work around YouTube's increasingly strict rules about what can/cannot be posted on the site because of copyright reasons (more on that in a sec), but users also need to be aware of the rampant plagiarism amongst the users themselves. We see it all the time: someone posts something on YouTube, the video is downloaded (through easily available free software available elsewhere online), remixed in some fashion (or not, just reposted as "original"), and reuploaded to YouTube. The Sweet Brown viral video is just one recent example.

The complications here could be profound in terms of profiting from both the spread of the original as well as this and numerous other remixes. First, who uploaded the video originally? With some of these, it's impossible to tell. If someone uploads a video and says s/he is the original uploader and then monetizes that video (i.e. allows YouTube to place ads before or within the video, how often can it be proved that that is the original? And then someone is profiting from this woman's story, but I can pretty much guarantee that it's not her. Same with the remixes. Is that fair? Or did she give up rights by allowing herself to be interviewed by a television station in the first place? It's mind boggling.

I've been through my own runarounds with YouTube in terms of posting original songs on the site, where I've had to prove without a doubt that I am the sole creator of said songs. In some cases, even notification by the software company that I use to create music on the computer that all of their samples are freely available for use and commercial rights got a big ol' HELL NO from YouTube. Thus I could not make a profit from views of certain videos even though the music was put together by me. For the corporate YouTube, of course, it only matters when they become potentially liable for copyright abuse; thus, they become so strict that a vlogger, for example, can't even have background music in her video when's it's playing on a car radio or a TV, for example.

But all of this is leading me to the main event. Last week or so, I got a message from a YouTube user that I thought was a bit strange. He had apparently found one of my vlogs and was interesting in using the images for a music video of HIS original music. What I thought was strange was not that he wanted to use the images but that he actually contacted me to do so. He wanted to know whether the video was copyrighted. I told him it was, but if he credited me with the images and didn't monetize the video, then he could use my film.

What came out of that is below (his music, my images). As it happens, the other user is from Italy, and he was as good as his word (the link to my original vlog is in his "about" section). But as this was going on, it made me wonder just how many times pieces of some random schmo's video (like me) get repurposed without the original user ever even knowing about it. And if the original user doesn't know it's going on, YouTube certainly doesn't have the resources to police that kind of thing. It rather reminds me of the tree in the forest question: if people don't know it's happening to them, is it really a problem?

Just thinkin'.
I'm just putting this up on the blog for reference as one of any number of similar IP problems that crop up all the time. Apparently, the show Glee on Fox has recorded a Jonathan Coulton cover of Sir MixaLot's "Baby Got Back" and is selling the song on iTunes. The ensuing kerfuffle has brought up the issue of Creative Commons and what, exactly, is a do and a don't in that arena. Coulton, of course, fully acknowledges that the song is a cover, but his contribution to the song includes a "distinctive tune," new orchestration, and some changed words (not too many). The Glee version uses that same tune and orchestration.

By many people's shorthand view of copyright, it seems obvious that Glee (ultimately Fox) is doing something "wrong" here because the orchestration is so close to Coulton's that the artist even speculates that they just took his actual recording and and put the cast's voices over it. And it may well be (I've only listened to the two versions once, but it sure sounds like that's the case). But it brings up so many cases that don't seem so obvious and forces us to ask, "Where do we draw that line?" Or, even, "Why should we draw a line?" It comes back to both the capitalist version of information production (who profits from the production and transmission of this information?) and the romantic author (it's MY orchestration).

This isn't really super insightful or anything. These discussions just make me think of the classical European artists of earlier centuries where this wasn't even an issue. Heck, Handel was well known for reworking his own material, not to mention how others of those artists "plagiarized" (some might say borrowed from or were inspired by) each other's work.
welcome to AMST 507! we have a lot to do this semester beginning with getting to know each other. this week write an introductory post letting everyone know why your taking this class, what you hope to gain from it and any other bits of info you'd like us to know.