Top Five Ways Social Media Is Changing Our Lives

As most of you know who read this blog, I started NoTimeFor10 for a graduate course.  As the course comes to a close, I am finally able to reflect on all of the readings (yes, there were many).  The final project assigned was an incredibly open assignment with only a couple of conditions such as that it must be shareable, incorporate several of our readings and a couple of new theories.  I knew I wanted to continue with my Top Five theme so I decided to present my opinion on how social media is changing our lives, for better or worse.

The first four points analyze how society is benefiting from social media by changing the news cycle and creating a participatory culture; eliminating self-identity barriers; raising awareness for good causes; and reshaping political activism.  My last point is how social media is taking away from face to face communication, leaving us isolated but yet more connected than we ever have been.  I have provided a mix of short interviews with three friends that represent a different age group: 20s, 30s, and 40s.

1.  Social Media is Changing the News Cycle.  Below is an a short interview from “Bob” (fake name of course) who currently works at a trade association as the Website and Digital Manager and previously spent over five years at The Washington Post.  Watch this clip to see how social media is changing the way he is receiving the news.

Bob is a participant in what Yochai Benkler would call a networked public sphere.  The fundamental difference between the traditional public sphere as described by Jurgen Habermas and Benkler’s networked public sphere is the transition of the audience from an observer to a participant.  The public sphere, once held in coffee houses and salons has now been transformed into a networked public sphere where all a participant needs is a phone or a computer.  In Benkler’s networked public sphere it is easier for anyone to join the conversation because of new technology, its speed and how internet users can link to other sites.  This idea of linkage is critical in the world of social media (I’ll discuss how it helps with fundraising later).   In Twitter, users frequently link to the original news article.  This creates a participatory culture, which Henry Jenkins notes as fundamental to his idea of convergence.  Audiences are no longer passive observants.  Social media has provided users with the ability to create a two-way communication between the news outlets and its audience.

The audience is not the only one benefiting from this new two-way communication.  CNN has a section on its site called iReport where anyone can “share their story.”  This is an effective way for CNN to receive free news, videos and updates from its audience.  Social media is creating a symbiotic relationship between the audience and news organization. Only time will tell if this will continue to be an added benefit.

2.  Barriers Removed.   

Herbert Simon argues that human behavior is generally rational, and that it cannot be understood without finding the connections between its actions and its goals.  Unlike neoclassical or public choice theory, Simon believes that human rationality is much more complex.  One crux of his theory rests on the notion that, “People often identify their economic (or other) welfare with the welfare of one or more of the groups to which they belong: the nation, for example, and most obviously today, ethnic groups, defined in terms of race, language, religion, and shared history.  To these we must add (at least) social and economic class and gender.”

The internet and its tools such as social media are defying these boundaries.   Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together, argues that “Technology promises to let us do anything from anywhere with anyone.”  Her book explores the relationships people have cultivated on the web and specifically looks at the avatar world in Second Life.  One example that Turkle provides is of a man named Joel, who in real life runs a software design team at an elite biotechnology firm.  If he were abiding by Simon’s theory, Joel would most likely choose an upper-middle class American as his avatar in Second Life.  However, this does not happen.  Joel chooses to build a fantasy version of how he seems himself, warts and all.  He makes his avatar a pint-sized elephant named Rashi, a mix of floppy-eared sweetness and down to earth practicality (Turkle 213).

On the internet and various social media sites, the user can choose his/her identity. This capability gives social media a chilling power.  It removes barriers that could not be ignored in real life (for example, I’m Asian so obviously I would not pass for as an Anglo-Saxon).  But in the avatar world, I could create my own identity.  By having the ability to create a separate identity from the one you have in reality, negates Simon’s theory.  Online users do not have to chose to align themselves with a specific group.  Thus, the user’s online identity has no bearing on the user’s real-life identity, which means the ethnic, geographic or economic ties no longer matter.

This could create a significant problem when trying to conduct accurate research on an online community.  Twitter experienced this problem during the Arab Spring when Twitter users changed their country to distract oppressive governments from other Twitter users.  Governments, corporations and businesses must understand that identities now are two-fold: an online and real-life.  While these identities may be the same for most people, others may not abide by that standard.

3.  Dollar Dollar Bills & Raising Awareness.  

When I asked “Linda” how she is using social media, I was surprised by her answer. While I’m very aware that social media has helped raise money for various charities, I have not personally done it.  Linda’s short explanation of how she uses social media to gain awareness of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is inspiring.  Linda has raised over thousands of dollars by utilizing her Fundraising Page.  She keeps the page updated by posting pictures of the races and providing a detailed account of her training.

Linda can share her site with anyone: a friend, a colleague or an acquaintance.  She is participating in Benkler’s networked public sphere when she shares her webpage with others.  Her sharing of this profile page could look like this image after it’s been linked to a variety of social media accounts and then shared with others in and out of her network.  Here’s a good link for tips on how to use social media for fundraising (see, I’m participating in the networked public sphere now but linking).

4.  Reshaping Political Activism.  

Introduced by Frank R. Baumgartner and Bryan D. Jones originally in 1993, the punctuated equilibrium theory argues that the course of public policy in the United States is not gradual and incremental, but rather is disjointed and episodic.  According to Baumgartner and Jones, issues have a way of grabbing headlines and dominating the schedules of public officials when they were virtually ignored only weeks or months before.  Never was this quote more prescient than in the case of the Stop Online Protection Act and Protect IP Act legislation, which also served to reinforce part of Baumgartner and Jones’ punctuated equilibrium theory.  However, what this theory does not account for is the impact of social media on grassroots activism and its uncanny ability to help influence and shape public policy.

Dubbed as “the most important bill in Congress you may never heard of” by Chris Hayes of MSNBC.com, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was introduced by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary on October 26, 2011.   According to The Hill newspaper, both bills were designed to go after foreign websites that offer illegal copies of music, movies and TV shows with impunity.  The bills would empower the Justice Department and copyright holders to demand that search engine delete links to sites dedicated to copyright infringement.  Ad networks and payment processors would be prohibited from doing business with the sites.

Influential technology companies such as Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, Reddit and Twitter became the unified opposition and used the internet to disseminate their message.  On January 18, the major tech companies coordinated a “blackout” resulting in the largest online protest in history.   Wikipedia and Reddit went dark for one day, while Google highlighted the issue on its homepage.  A Google spokesperson said, “Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet.”

Tech companies weren’t the only ones taking their voice via the web.  Many celebrities, including actors, singers and sport professions decried the legislation.   Actor Aziz Ansari, along with 20 additional artists and athletes, sent an open letter to Washington expressing their serious concerns regarding SOPA and PIPA.  The letter stated, “We, along with the rest of society, have benefited immensely from a free and open Internet.  We fear that the broad new enforcement powers provided under SOPA and PIPA could easily be abused against legitimate services like those upon which we depend.”  Other famous celebrities including Justin Beiber and Ashton Kutcher voiced their concern of the bills on Twitter.

The rise of social media must be included in the study of the punctuated equilibrium model.  Henry Jenkins, author of Convergence Culture, discusses at length how media is not only affecting our relationships, but is also shaping policy.  “Convergence culture represents a shift in the ways we [Americans] think about our relations to media, that we are making that shift through our relations with popular culture, but that the skills we acquire through play may have implications for how we learn, work, participate in the political process, and connect with other people around the world” (Jenkins).

Jenkins is right.  Social media played a significant role in this debate.  Benkler would commend those who participated in the grassroots efforts.  A Congressional Hill Staffer (who works for an important House Member but I can’t disclose the name) noted, “The groups supporting SOPA failed to mobilize effectively on social media – whether by touting the legislation or defending it.  The lesson of SOPA is that lobbying organizations need to be cognizant of the power of social mobilization, use the resources of social media to effectively communicate their message to their supporters, and help generate organic support for their cause.”  An analysis of the rise of new media and how it is helping shape and spread a message must be accounted for when explaining how utilizing today’s communication tools can mobilize a large audience.  We are entering a new wave of political activism and it is better to jump aboard now.

5.  Social Media is Taking Away Face to Face Communication. 

Turkle provides a sad account of Adam, a forty-three year old who has lost touch with reality because he is consumed by the virtual world.  In this case, his simulation of choice is the game Quake and Civilization.  In the real world, Adam is an aspiring singer and songwriter but works odd jobs to make ends meet.  In the virtual world, Adam is a warrior who fights with virtual weapons and is tasked with building a new civilization.  He even managed to meet others who played the game as religiously as he did.  They would play nine or ten hours at time without a break while sitting in the same room together.  The game consumed his life and Adam began to lose touch with reality.  His real-life friends were replaced by bots (artificial intelligence subjects).  Because of the time spent playing Quake and Civilization, he fears that he will be out of real-life work soon.  He hasn’t paid his taxes, written any songs or a screenplay.

In the last four posts, I have written on how social media is changing the way we communicate, receive news, increase political activism and raise awareness for good causes.  However, there are several pitfalls of social media.  As described above, social media can alienate people if they become consumed by the virtual world.  There was an interesting article published recently in The Atlantic titled, “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” One particular statement from this article resonated with me.  “We are living in an isolation that would have been unimaginable to our ancestors, and yet we have never been more accessible.”  I couldn’t agree more.  A short video below is an explanation of how social media is affecting the relationships of “Andrew.”  While he doesn’t necessarily say that social media is hurting his relationships, it is changing the way he communicates with his friends.

Social media sites like Facebook make it easier for a user to keep up to date with hundreds of people.  This eliminates the need to actually pick up the phone or geez, even grab a cup of coffee with the person.  Like Andrew noted in the video, if you already know about a friend’s pregnancy, why talk about it when you see them?  In a world where the Millennial Generation (Andrew is in his 20s) grew up with using new technology, this will continue to be a struggle for them.

I believe my Top Five Ways Social Media Is Changing Our Lives touches on several areas that will be of interest to my readers.  Most of us use some form of social media.  We are now receiving news across different mediums.  We are living in a networked public sphere where we can be an active participant.  But while we have these incredible tools available that enable us to connect with people all over the world, we must remember that not all relationships can function via only the internet.  This class helped deepen my understanding of the history of the web and opened my eyes to a variety of online communities I never knew existed such as Second Life.  Now, I ask for your input.

How is Social Media Affecting the Way You Communicate?

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Top Five Things to Do in D.C. During the Summer

I love living in D.C. and how it’s close to so many different places like wine trails, amusement parks, museums and other cities like Baltimore and Annapolis.  I love that there’s something always going on and a lot of the times, it’s free.  This is a list of my top favorite things to do during the summer in D.C.

1.  Walk to Georgetown.  It’s about 6 miles from my apartment to the waterfront in Georgetown.  My boyfriend and I love walking to Georgetown either on a Saturday or Sunday when it isn’t too hot outside or at night and grabbing dinner.  Clydes has half-priced bottle wine service on Sundays which is always a blast.  I love the walk because the path I take to get to Georgetown is along the water.  I never get tired of seeing the monuments like the Jefferson Memorial.  When I get to Georgetown, I love sitting at one of the restaurants at the waterfront and people watch.  You can always get a good laugh watching people pull up in their boats or strolling along the dock.

2.  Wine Tours in Virginia.  It may not be Napa Valley or the vineyards in France, but there are a lot of good and fun vineyards to go to around the D.C. area.  Charlottesville, VA has several wine tour trails and cute bed and breakfast places to stay.  A couple of years ago, I went to Hill Top vineyards and Veritas Vineyard right outside of Charlottesville.  Hill Top has absolutely incredible fruit wine including apple, strawberry, blackberry, plum and cherry.  Here is a screenshot of some of the wines they have.

A bed and breakfast is a perfect place to stay if you’re hitting the wine trails.  For our one year anniversary, my boyfriend and I stayed at The Inn at Riverbend.  The Inn was an incredible experience.  From the very accommodating staff to the delicious breakfast, we would highly recommend this place to anyone.  It’s also close to Veritas and Hill Top (there are plenty of other vineyards around the area too).

3.  Kayaking.  I usually prefer gym classes like Zumba or Body Combat when working out, but during the summer, I love to kayak.  Kayaking is not only a great way to strengthen your upper body strength but also is a core strengthener.  It takes a lot of strength to paddle on the Potomac and it’s a great way to get a tan.  You can even kayak in a double if you and a friend want to go.

Below is a video of basic kayak instructions in case you want to try it out this summer.

4.  Rooftop Bars.  You only need to whisper “rooftop bar” in order for me to join a HH or to meet up on the weekend.  Some of the best rooftop bars in D.C. (in my opinion) are The W, the Reef and Jack Rose.  Below is a picture of my friends and me at The W last summer.  It’s such a beautiful view (you can see the White House in the background).



5.  Amusement Parks.  I love amusement parks, roller coasters and water rides.  Last summer, I went to Six Flags (only 20 minutes away from D.C. via car) with a bunch of friends and I’m already planning my next adventure for this summer.  In Williamsburg, VA, there is a Busch Gardens with not only rides but animal attractions including a “Wolf Haven.”  This is a perfect overnight or weekend trip.  Williamsburg has a lot of other neat things to do such as historical tours and cute restaurants to dine.

What are some of your favorite things to do in DC during the summer?

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Top Five Professions…

Here’s a list of the top five professions that I would have tried out if I had five additional lives.

1.  Marine Biologist.  Up until my high school, I thought that I would become a marine biologist.  Even when I was little, I had accumulated dozens of books on sharks, fish, basically anything that swims and lives in the ocean.  I guess some of you are thinking, “What exactly does a marine biologist do?”  According to Sea Grant Marine Careers, marine biologists “study marine organisms, their behaviors, and their interactions with the environment and is considered one of the most all-encompassing fields of oceangraphy.”  I used to dream of myself going out on a boat for months at a time and conducting research, finding new species and exploring the unknown seas.  I even applied to Eckered College (Marine science program) and University of Miami which offers the prestigious, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science program.   Luckily for me, I realized that biology was not my cup of tea.  I could memorize dates of historic battles and significant events, but could not, no matter how long I studied, recite how blood is pumped throughout our bodies.  I realized that I loved history more than I could ever like biology, but maybe in another life, I’d have a different skill set.

2.  Hair Stylist.  During high school and occasionally over college breaks, I worked at an amazing hair salon and store called Beauty First.  I was a Sales Consultant and trained in different products lines such as Paul Mitchell, TIGI, Nioxin, Redken, etc.  It was an incredible experience because I learned how to sell products, interact with customers and developed an understanding of hair care (which if anyone has seen Legally Blonde, it could save your career).  However, the biggest lesson I learned at Beauty First was most women probably hold their hair style in the same regards as they prioritize their children.  No joke.  I typed into youtube, “I hate my new haircut” and hundreds of videos came up with that search.  Below is a funny video of an older woman talking about how much she hates her new hair cut.

3.  Historian.  This kind of goes along with my previous post about my love for the Tudors.  I love history.  I came to college as a history major.  However, once I met with my adviser, I was basically told to major in something else other than history if I wasn’t 100% sold on going to law school or obtaining a PhD.  In another life, I would either study the Tudors or Russian history, preferably Catherine the Great and then leading up to the rise of Stalin.

4.  Chef.  I’m probably one of the world’s pickiest eaters, but I love cooking and watching cooking shows (my favorite is Top Chef).  Even though I basically live the Atkins diet, I love learning about different cooking techniques and trying out exotic recipes.  If I were to create my own restaurant, I would probably have it focus on different types of meat: steak, chicken and pork.  My chef idol is Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais from Atlanta, Georgia.  Chef Blais has a flair for eclectic food, often using liquid nitrogen to add creativity to his dish.  Watch him in this short video on how to sous-vide (cooking food in a plastic bag).

5.  Record Producer.  Music is everywhere.  It’s on our phones, plays throughout our favorite television shows and even is on when we take the elevator at work.  We even buy hundreds of dollars of electronic devises to carry and play our favorite tunes.  When I was in college I had the privilege of interning at Universal Records.  We worked mainly on top 40 artists, including Colbie Caillat, Shop Boyz, Akon and Mya.  One of my favorite moments was going into the studio with David Banner and providing feedback on his record before it was released.  A record producer main job is to oversee and mange the recording of an artist’s music.  It requires a lot of creativity and direct with work the artist, but you can have a huge impact on the music as a record producer.  Maybe in another life…

I love what I’m studying and how I’m able to mix communications and policy together, but if I had the opportunity in another life to try out a different profession, this is what I would want to try.  This is not implying that I wish I picked another field, but to be successful in any of these professions, I would have probably had to have gone another route.

If you knew you could choose another profession in a different life, what would you do?

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Top Five Favorite Books

1.  The Virgin’s Lover.  I love historical fiction, especially when it is written about the English monarchy, the Tudors (I thought the Tudors were cool before it was a Showtime series).  Philippa Gregory, who is better known for her work, The Other Boleyn Girl (which was later turned into a horrible movie), writes a vivid narrative of Elizabeth I.  I enjoy how Gregory tries to fill in the blanks by attempting to describe how Queen Elizabeth may have been feeling at various points in her life.  One critical element that I believe Gregory does very well is emphasize and illustrate Queen Elizabeth’s political savviness.  This is demonstrated by how Gregory writes the different ways Queen Elizabeth kept her suitors at bay,  defeated the Spanish Armada and willingness to keep a strong council of men around to help advise her on different issues.  Queen Elizabeth is portrayed as a strong female leader who doesn’t need a man by her side (although she had her fair share of romances, aka Robert Dudley).  Gregory also makes sure to incorporate the Queen’s insecurities of keeping the crown.

If you enjoy historical fiction, especially about the Tudors, I recommend Jean Plaidy.  She has written many novels on the Tudor family and also other English monarchies.

2.  Something Borrowed.  This is a great beach read.  The story is based around the friendship of two girls, Rachel and Darcy.  Rachel has always been the “smart” friend, made good grades and went to law school.  Darcy, on the other hand, is the beautiful, party girl who only has to bat an eyelash to get what she wants.  Their friendship hits a major speed bump when Rachel sleeps with Darcy’s fiance Dex, who Rachel went to law school with and has had a crush on for the last seven years.  Dex and Rachel discover that they have true feelings for each other but do not know how to confront Darcy.

You are probably thinking, “Wow, Rachel sounds like a *****.  But she isn’t.  Well, yes, it’s awful what she did to Darcy, but the way that Emily Giffin writes the story makes you root for Rachel (I know, twisted, right?).  The movie was turned into a film released last year.  While the movie isn’t as good as the book (I mean what movie is?), it is a cute chick flick.

3.  “A Problem From Hell” America and the Age of Genocide.  Currently serving as a Special Assistant to President Barack Obama, author Samantha Power has an extensive wealth of knowledge of international human rights.  A Problem From Hell won a Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 2003.  This book provides an incredibly detailed account of different genocides that have occurred all over the world.  From the Armenian genocide to the awful massacre in Rwanda, Power also incorporates first-hand accounts to add an even greater human voice to the book.  After reading this, I wrote almost a half a dozen op-eds in my school newspaper as Editorial Editor hoping to shed light on various atrocities occurring right now.

Power does recognize that there have been positive steps taken to combat these heinous crimes, but also acknowledges that much more could be done.  Below is a video of Ms. Power speaking about genocide at the Chicago Public Library in 2003.

4.  Hunger Games.  Obviously.  I have given plenty of descriptions of The Hunger Games and the movie.  See previous blog posts including why the book was way better than the movie.

5.  Animal Farm.  George Orwell is brilliant.  I read this book during my freshman year in high school and have been obsessed with Russian history/political life since then (this entry is making me sound like a really big nerd).  For those who haven’t read Animal Farm, I highly recommend it.  The story is an allegory of the Russian Revolution and Stalin’s rise to power.  The book revolves around a group of overworked farm animals that rebel against their human masters and create a new order on the farm.  In Animal Farm, the pigs are the most intelligent animals that rule over the rest of the barn.  The two main pigs, Napoleon and Snowball battle it out for power which ends with Snowball being banished from Manor Farm (sounds a little bit like the relationship between Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin).  The story ends with the animals peering into a window and astonished to see that their pig leaders are now walking on two legs, just like humans.

 

What are your top five favorite books?

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Top Five Favorite TV Shows

This week, One Tree Hill celebrated not only the end of its ninth season, but it was the final chapter of the entire show.  One Tree Hill, a show that started when I was in high school, survived two networks, 187 episodes and a wide array of characters ended on Wednesday, April 4 with a two-hour finale.  While I didn’t start watching One Tree Hill when it first aired, I started watching the show in college and quickly became enamored with the CW drama.  For some reason, I never seem to find shows when they first begin.  For example, I became a fan of Dawson’s Creek, Friends and The O.C after they were all a couple of seasons in.  This prompted my blog post.  I began to wonder what my top five TV shows would be if I could only watch them for the rest of my life.

1.  One Tree Hill.  One Tree Hill is a story of two brothers (same Dad, different Mom) who rival each other in basketball, school and girls.  Mark Schwahn, the producer, described it in the season finale as a story of “Cain and Abel.”  To me, One Tree Hill tried to present real world problems that people face every day such as death, family relationships, friendships and broken hearts.  I related most to Brooke Davis, played by Sophia Bush because she had an incredible love for her friends,  boys and fashion.

 

2.  Top Chef.  I started watching Top Chef during its sixth season in Las Vegas.  I fell in love with it immediately and began to pick my favorite contestants quickly.  Each show, the contestants must participate in a “Quickfire” where they are given a shorter duration to cook under insane conditions.  The second half of each show is the “Elimination challenge” where the contestants have a longer time to prepare before another cooking challenge.

Season 6:  Jennifer Carroll
Season 7:  Angelo Sosa.
Season 8, All Stars: Richard Blais. The best season so far because it drew from former Top Chef contestants.  This was their second chance to prove that they
Season 9:  Edward Lee (he represents my hometown, yahoo!)

I downloaded seasons 1-5 but I already knew the winner so it was hard to pick a favorite.

 

3.  How I Met Your Mother.  Barney’s Top Phrases.

I love Neil Patrick Harris who plays Barney Stinson, a womanizer whose life goal is to sleep with as many women as possible.   This 30 minute episode revolves around a group of five friends who live in New York City (think Friends but funnier punch lines in my opinion).

 

4.  Xena, Warrior Princess.  I watched Xena religiously every Sunday (kind of ironic wording right? haha).  I loved Xena’s fierce and independent attitude.  She was the heroine in every episode.  For those who don’t know what Xena is, just watch the intro below, it explains it all. The show also helped develop my affinity for Greek mythology which would later pay off in my AP English class.

 

5.  Boy Meets World.  No one from my generation will have to ask someone, “What is a Topanga?”  I used to beg my Mom to let me watch Boy Meets World in the morning before school (it still plays on ABC if you’re curious).  I could watch Shawn, Cory and Topanga all day long… oh and how could I forget, FEENY?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are your top Five TV shows?

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Top Five Reasons Why The Hunger Games Movie Was a BIG Disappointment

As you know if you’ve been reading my blog, I am a huge fan of The Hunger Games and if you don’t know what The Hunger Games are, then I’m giving you this look.  It’s a harrowing trilogy based around a sixteen-year-old girl named Katniss Everdeen who lives in a post-apocalyptic world, where the United States has now been split into 12 districts, ruled by the Capitol.  As a reminder of the Capitol’s power, there is an annual reaping called the Hunger Games where each district has to send one boy and one girl from ages 12-18 to fight to the death until only one victor remains.  When Katniss’ twelve year old sister, Prim, is drawn as the girl to represent District 12, Katniss bravely volunteers to take her sister’s spot.  Jennifer Lawrence was cast to play Katniss Everdeen (she’s from my hometown), Josh Hutcherson as Peeta and Liam Hemsworth (Miley Cyrus’ bf… ugghhhh) as Gale.

1.  Height.  I don’t mean to sound superficial, but COME ON.  The Hunger Games describes Peeta as “medium height, stocky build, ashy blond hair that falls in waves over his forehead.”  I don’t want to criticize Josh Hutcherson because he is a phenomenal actor (see The Kids Are All Right for his acting range).  But seriously?  I understand that “medium height” for a male is around 5′ 9″ for a male in the U.S. (Josh Hutcherson isn’t even that)  but did anyone in the casting room even think about how it would look on the big screen let alone the promotion period with someone who is shorter than the heroine? I kept thinking that they would adjust the camera angle to downplay that he basically is or is a little shorter than Jennifer Lawrence, but I was WRONG.  I almost started laughing when Katniss urges Peeta to throw the hundred pound bag of flour to show off in front of the sponsors because the bag looked like it would swallow him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  The Mockingjay pin.  The Mockingjay pin in the book was given to Katniss by Madge, the daughter of District’s 12 Mayor.  If you’ve read the books, you know that the pin is a symbol of freedom against the Capitol (for those of you who haven’t, you now know).  The Mockingjay was described as “funny birds and something of a slap in the face to the Capitol.”  I believe the pin had greater significance when it was given to Katniss by someone who was linked to the Capitol.  Madge’s kindness was shown through her gift of the pin and she also plays a significant role in the later books when Gale is severely hurt by the Capitol police.  Instead of highlighting the relationship between Madge and Katniss, the movie eliminated her entire character, having Katniss find the pin down at the Hob (the black market). By changing the story of how Katniss received the pin, it weakened its symbolism.

3. Lack of Relationship Development.  Team Peeta or Team Gale?  Well, if you had asked me about who I would have chosen before the movie, it would have been Team Peeta hands down.  Unfortunately, with the way the relationship was portrayed in the movie coupled with Peeta’s height makes me less likely to chose the movie version of Peeta.  The main factor pertains to the movie’s failure to capture Peeta’s unconditional love for Katniss.  Their was no explanation of why Peeta teamed up with the Careers.  The movie didn’t even show Cato chasing after Peeta when Peeta helped Katniss escape.  It was hard to feel the connection between Peeta and Katniss if you had just seen the movie without reading the book.  (PS- at least EW tried to adjust their heights.)

4.  Dialogue or lack of it. Jennifer Lawrence’s script couldn’t have been more than a couple of dozen pages if you just printed off all her lines together.  I understand that most of the book centered around internal conversations Katniss had with herself but there is a way in which those could be portrayed and developed on screen.   Where was the dialogue between Katniss and Peeta to build up their relationship?  Why didn’t they include more dialogue between Katniss and Rue?  More dialogue would have greatly helped build the relationships between the main characters.

5.  Forgoing minor details.  I acknowledge that you can’t include every little detail from a book to the big screen, but if you’re going to film the scene, at least get it as accurate as you can.  For example, the movie captured the scene of the mutts but failed to incorporate the “eyes” that were described in the book. “For a moment it hangs there, and in that moment I realize what else unsettled me about the mutts.  The green eyes glowering at me are unlike any dog or wolf, any canine I’ve ever seen.  They are unmistakably human.”  With that description, the creatures chasing Katniss, Peeta and Cato are no longer just big dogs, but provides another example of how cruel that Capitol is and will go to torment the Tributes.  Another example is the tracker jackers.  In the book, they were described as, “larger than regular wasps, they have a distinctive solid gold body.”  In the movie, they looked like ordinary wasps, not really that scary.  These may be “minor” details in the big scheme of things, but to me, it’s the details that made this book come alive.  Collins’ description of the Capitol’s decadent food, the forest, the mutts and tracker jackers helped build the entire scenery in my head.

By box office standards, the movie was a HUGE hit.  Over the weekend, it took in more than 155 million just in North America.  Most reviews are giving it high praise.  Despite the movie failing to live up to my expectations, most movies tend to fall into this category when based off of a book.  Twilight, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings fans have all had their fair share of issues with the movies that attempted to capture their beloved series.

Have you seen The Hunger Games?  If so, what are your thoughts?

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Top Five Favorite Songs

Now, I know most of you are probably wondering how can I narrow down my music list to my top five favorite songs.  Well, because that’s the point of my blog.  I took a look at the top songs that are played on my ipod (some are quite embarrassing… as I’m sure the same goes with your list).  I also factored in songs that I could listen to on repeat (which I have done before) and wouldn’t get tired of if I had to hear for the rest of my life.  Well, I would probably get tired of them at some point, but you get the idea.

I also tried to pick songs from different music categories that I enjoy.  Kind of like my movie tastes, I don’t really care for “oldies.”  I’m not a Beetles fan.  I don’t like heavy metal.  I like rap but that didn’t make cut (if it had, I would have probably picked something by Eminem in case you’re wondering).

These are songs that I associate with different time periods of my life, which is probably why they stand out to me.

1.  Eagles.  Hotel California.  I can remember the first time I heard this song.  I was riding in the car with my Dad to school one morning and he told me that the guitar (interlude) in this song was extremely difficult to play (he was in a band in college).  I have to admit, I can’t name another Eagles’ song besides this one, but I love Hotel California.  To me, one of the most intriguing aspects of this song is the controversy that surrounds what exactly is Hotel California.  Some thought that the song was talking of a literal hotel.  Don Henley called it the “our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles” in a 2004 issue of Rolling Stone.  Others have argued that the song refers to Satanism.

Memory:  Young childhood.

 

2.  Lady Gaga.  Bad Romance.  Before there was Kony 2012, there was Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance as one of the top watched videos of all time.  Gaga was able to surpass the Youtube sensation “Charlie Bit My Finger” in Spring 2010.

Memory: When I first moved out to DC (only a couple of years ago).

 

3.  Jimmy Buffett.  Cheeseburger in Paradise.  Even though I don’t like cheeseburgers, I still love this song.  My Mom and I used to sing along to this song whenever we heard it play, “I like mine with lettuce and tomato…”.  I used to beg them to take me to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurants whenever we were in a place that had one.

Memory:  Young childhood.

 

4.  James Morrison.  Once When I Was Little.  This British Singer became an overnight sensation in the U.K. when he released his debut album, Undiscovered, in 2006.  Morrison was born in Rugby, England and grew up listening to his parents’ collection of different musical tastes from soul to country to classic folk.  His raspy voice, paired with his somewhat sad lyrics make it the perfect music to listen to on a rainy day.  Morrison became a bigger hit in the U.S. when he teamed up with Nelly Furtado in a duet, “Broken Strings” in 2008.

If any of you all are fans, he’s coming to Washington, D.C. on May 16 so get your tickets now!

Memory:  College graduation.

 

5.  Backstreet Boys.  I Want It That Way.  Even though *NSync will forever be my favorite boy band,  this is probably one of the best songs from the 90s.  One of the singles released from BSB’s third album, Millenium, I Want It That Way climbed its way up the charts.  Millenium became the best-selling album of 1999 in the U.S., selling almost 10 million albums.  Whether I’m at the gym, walking to work, getting ready or at a party, this song always makes me want to jump on the couch and sing at the top of my lungs.  This song also inspired a lot of funny spoofs using their all white costumes like in D12’s My Band.

Memory:  Tween years/College/Present.

 

What’s your Top 5 Favorite Songs?

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