Monthly Archives: November 2011

Second Annual Tom LaMonica Memorial 5K Trail Run

Standard

Genesse Valley Farm

An estimated 230 runners participated in the second annual Tom LaMonica Memorial 5K Trail Run last Saturday, helping to raise more than $5,000 for the Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center in Parkton, Md.

The race is run on a 350-acre farm owned by Tom and Jane LaMonica. It began four years ago as a way to help finance the outdoor programs run by the learning center, a nonprofit organization that offers summer camps and adventure activities for children and adults.

The facilitators at the farm are trained to choose a combination and progression of activities that address the goals, talents and abilities of each group that participates in the programs held at Genesee Valley.

The center’s staff wanted to use the farm for the race because it wanted to get people out to see the property and get the community interested in the programs and land, said business manager and widow, Jane LaMonica.

When Tom LaMonica, owner and founder of Genesee Valley, unexpectedly died last fall, the staff decided to rename the race after him to commemorate his life. They said that this was the most successful year yet.

“You feel like you are part of something huge, and that is a gift he [Tom LaMonica] passed on to everyone here today,” said Christi Kramer, the director of the learning center.

Kramer remembers the first race having about 30 runners who were mostly staff and family. It has been amazing to see how much the race has grown in just over three years, she said.

The race is 3.1 miles through the fields and forests of the farm, which is located on both sides of Rayville Road and is used for the outdoor programs. The terrain includes rocks, sticks, hills and small creeks. Participant Pat MacNabb, a teacher at Hereford Middle School, said the race was challenging for such a short distance.

Kramer said that the people who knew LaMonica hear his encouragement in their heads while they run the difficult course. It is a powerful motivator, she added.

The community shows its support for the Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center by participating in the Tom LaMonica Memorial 5K Trail Run this past Saturday morning.

Most of the participants either knew Tom or the family in some way. When asked to describe LaMonica, Kramar said, “Supportive, engaging, inspiring and having passion that was truly contagious.”

Twenty-two-year-old Mark Kauffman finished in first place. He went to school with LaMonica’s oldest daughter Jackie and grew up in Parkton, Maryland, but now lives in North Carolina. He just happened to be in town this weekend and decided to participate in the event. He said it was a difficult course, but that he will continue to come back because he loves the challenge.

“I’ll be 75 and still running this race and supporting the family and farm,” said Anne Ensor, Hereford High School lacrosse coach. She said this is her favorite race because it’s in the woods, it’s cross country and she gets to see the beautiful property and animals.

The family and staff at Genesee Valley plan to have the race for many years to come with hopes that each year it will grow bigger than the year before.

“Tom wanted to inspire people to build community, and that shines through everyone here today,” said Kramar.


Advertisements

Photo Journalism Assignment

Standard

 

 

Howard Denney, a Veteran of the Iraq War, celebrates Veterans Week at Towson University. Denney is a student there at Towson while he is on leave.

 

 

 

 

Andrew Poulos, a senior men’s lacrosse player at Towson University, is receiving rehab therapy before practice from student trainer, Jill Lidsky. Poulos tore his acl this past fall during a lacrosse game and will be red shirting through this year’s season.

 

 

Andy Raymond, an STX representative, is promoting the companies sticks and other equipment at a middle school field hockey tournament. The tournament was held this past Sunday and based at Garrison Forest School.

What messages are major corporations embedding in our children’s minds?

Standard

Do you ever wonder what kinds of messages kids in today’s society are receiving from all the media they are surrounded by every day? It has been found recently through using the process of ideological criticism that major corporations are pushing certain values and beliefs on our children through their marketing techniques and products.

When I say ideological criticism your mind may run wild with ideas of what that could possibly be. Though it is a hard concept to grasp, once you do you are that much closer to being an expert in media literacy. In order to help define ideological criticism I must first define ideology.

Ideology is a means of exerting power. It is an instrument that dominant elites use to extend control on others and works to maintain existing power relations.  It also refers to a set of ideas that gives some particular account of the world. These ideas are partial and selective.

Therefore ideological criticism examines how these “ideas” are embedded and circulated through our text. Also how the systematic representation of these ideas become accepted as normal and natural in our society, and how they very often go unnoticed and unchallenged.

Ideological criticism is not just looking at the text, but is looking at how the text is produced, structured, and ways it interacts with our life experiences.

The assumptions with this criticism are that there is a value in understanding how the media institutions, texts, and practices establish and sustain existing power relations. The next assumption is to inform and empower the audiences to strive for material changes to improve the equality. Lastly there is a value to expose and challenge the dominant and often taken for granted ideas and values.

This criticism uses the political economy theory that is based on Marxist conception of socioeconomic order to look deeper into these “values”.  The political economy analysis examines the role of ownership in the media industry, how production and distribution practice shapes the media text, and the link between media ownership (means of production) and the ideology embedded in the media text.

Political economists are highly concerned with the trend of deregulation, and the growing power of global media conglomerates. They are also concerned with the increasing dominance of advertising and marketing through synergistic practices.

Political economists tend to focus on the social role of advertising and marketing practices, ideology of materialism or “consumerism”, its influence on our consumer culture, and how advertising/marketing practices promote a culture of consumption. They are increasingly focusing on the commercialization of childhood.

Two films that shed light on the work of political economists concerned with the power of media to shape social values of kids are Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood, and the Mickey Mouse Monopoly: Disney, Childhood and Corporate Power.

The film Consuming Kids focuses on the power of advertising agencies to shape the ideas and views of children through marketing merchandise. Political economists in this film take a deeper look into how powerhouse companies are embedding “brand loyalty”  from cradle to grave.

What that means is that they are making sure that from birth babies are introduced to certain brands and products that then throughout their childhoods they are loyal too and stick with. “Marketers want to get to children early, often, and in as many places as they can – not just to sell them products and services, but to turn them into life-long consumers.”(Sun, 2001)

On the left is a recent Barbie doll, and on the right is the first Barbie doll made in 1959

Another focus for the political economists in the film is how advertising companies are compressing the age of kids. Kids are getting older younger. For example through the promotion of Barbies, and Bratz Dolls for girls, they are teaching girls the need to be pretty and sexy at a younger age. Political economists said that these toys are teaching young girls what society believes a female should look like. These dolls have long legs, tiny wastes, and big breast. They tend to wear tight fitting clothing that show a lot of the dolls body, high heels, and have makeup covering their faces.

For boys advertisers are promoting boy dolls that come with weapons or tools, violent video games that most of the time involve the boys shooting things, or trucks and sports. The political economists find that these products are teaching boys the need to be aggressive, tough and violent. Teaching young boys that’s what it means to be “masculine“.

The part of the film that really hit home to me was the emphasis on how kids no longer play using their imagination. They need all the accessories and gadgets that their favorite characters have in order to pretend to be them. Kids are no longer using their own creativity to create the plots of stories, they are just using what they have already seen in the shows and movies.

Industries are taking over  everywhere with the promotion of their products. “Children are now marketed to in unprecedented ways – through brand licensing, product placement, viral marketing, via schools, DVDs, video games, the internet, cell phones – so that there’s a brand in front of a child’s face virtually every moment of every day.”(Sun, 2001)

In the film, Mickey Mouse Monopoly, the political economists are focusing on gender representations and stereotypes that are being depicted in Disney films. These depictions are influencing viewers values both nationally and internationally. What worry political economists most is the skewed views and opinions that Disney presents through these films.

The Disney Princesses

For this blog I am going to focus on the gender representations the political economists found that were presented throughout Disney films.  The political economists first looked at how the females have always been drawn, with big breasts, tiny wastes, and with a seductive body. Even the female animals are drawn with fluttering eyelashes, and have seductive body language such as swinging hips while they walk. This is teaching young girls what Disney defines as “feminine“.

Examples of some of Disney's female animal characters

 

 

 

 

In the films it shows that the female characters can get whatever they want just by being attractive and seductive with their body language. For example in Aladdin Princess Jasmine dresses “sexy” and kisses Jafar in order to distract him and help Aladdin get the lamp back towards the end of the film. Another example is in film The Little Mermaid, when Ursula takes away Ariel’s voice and leaves her with just left with her body to win over Prince Eric. Which in the film she successfully does.

Political economists would say that this is showing young girls watching these films that they don’t need a voice or anything other than good  looks to get what they want.

Political economists have also found a common theme with the females in Disney movies, that no matter how strong of a woman they are they always get themselves in trouble and have to be saved by a male. For example in Beauty and The Beast, Belle gets lost in the woods and unsuccessfully tries to fight off a pack of wolves. The beast then has to come to her rescue and save her.

 

Gaston


For males in Disney movies they are always perceived as strong with large muscles, good looking, and allowed to act however they want. A perfect example of this is the character Gaston from Beauty and The Beast. The males are never over weight or unattractive. They can also defeat anyone normally using violence and winning a battle for their women.

Gaston fighting the Beast

A political economist would say that this this is again teaching young boys watching these films that they need to use violence in order to win the girl. They are showing that they don’t need to use their words to win a battle, but instead a sword or  any other weapon.

These films are thus teaching young viewers what it means to be a “boy” and a “girl”.

Disney movies are also full of commercialism and commercial values. Which loops us back to the film Consuming Kids. “The seemingly innocent stories Disney movies tell seem to be secondary to their being used as vehicles for the merchandising of videos, toys, clothing, video games, etc.”(Barbaro, (Writer& Director), & Earp, (Writer& Director) (2009). Disney is an example of a major corporation who is using the brand loyalty from cradle to grave.

 

You may say so what I’m not a kid anymore why does this matter? It matters because one day you may choose to have kids or work in a field that affects kids in some way. It is important that we see and acknowledge these ideologies that major industries are pushing onto children, so in return we can teach kids to be  aware of the values that are being pushed on them. That way they can decide for themselves if they want to follow those values or not.

The Comics- Brian Walker

Standard

        Comic strip writers are turning to cyberspace to sell their work as newspaper circulation and budgets continue to shrink in the digital age, cartoon historian Brian Walker said during a speech at McDaniel College last Wednesday.

Walker, a second-generation creator of Hi and Lois and a current writer for Beetle Bailey, said the Internet also allows cartoonists to speak more directly to their readers, offering advice and other insights into everything from family life to the workplace.

“Comics have survived all these years because of their ability to adapt,” said Walker. “They have adapted with radio, television and the Internet, and will keep adapting with new media challenges. Though the fate of newspaper comic strips are unknown, the future of comic strips alone is everlasting.”

According to Walker, the first comic strip character was The Yellow Kid, who emerged as the lead character in Hogan’s Alley and was drawn by Richard F. Outcault for the New York World and later the New York Journal. This became one of the first Sunday paper comic strips in an American newspaper. “People then saw that comics sold papers,” he said.

But the comic strip was not always accepted by everyone in the public, Walker said.

“During the first decade from 1905-1906 comics were criticized by educational and religious leaders because they believed they were bad for children, and included violence and rough humor,” he said. “Thus emerged the creation family strips.”

Walker said that, by the late 1920’s a new genre, the adventure strip, emerged with the ending of WWI 1. Strips were beginning to include “satirical sequences and critiques of the public and everyday life,” he said.

The comic strip, Li’l Abner written by Al Capp, “made fun of released movies, attacked politicians and celebrities, and brought up controversial issues,” Walker said. “This was the beginning of controversial comic strips.”

According to Walker, people tend to think all great comic strips came before WWII. “This is not true,” he said, “because although comics have changed a lot, in a way some things have gotten better.” In the post-war era the most popular strips had better artistic value, better plot sequences, and appealed to a large amount of audiences.”

He said some of the most famous and well-known strips of this time are Beetle Bailey, Peanuts, Dennis the Menace, and Garfield because some have been adapted and made into television shows.

Walker, the son of Beetle Bailey writer Mort Walker, said that the 1980’s were the renaissance of comic strips because the baby boom generation was drawing and creating comic strips. “Comics were gearing their humor towards school kids and focused on very traditional modern issues,” Walker said.

He said, “I began working for Hi and Lois with my brother in the early 80’s because my father decided that the comic needed a more modern perspective.”

“By the 90’s,” he added, “creators of comics were using the Internet to talk to their audiences and ask for advice of what they wanted to see happen in the strip, like Scott Adams the creator of Dilbert.

According to Walker, with the decrease in newspaper circulation cartoonists are looking towards other places to sell their work. “Recently some comic strips have found success on the Internet, as Jeff Kinney did with his novel Diary of a Wimpy Kid that is based off a web comic he published at Funbrain.com,” he said.

This was the first of a four-part speaker series featuring contemporary cartoonists following the opening of an exhibition on the McDaniel campus. The exhibition includes comic strips designed by graduate students at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C.

The exhibition was inspired by Associate Professor of Communication Robert Lemieux’s quest to educate the public about the cultural and historical relevance of the Sunday funnies.

 

Source List

Speaker- Brian Walker

Comic Strips & Culture 1895-1950

Location-McDaniel College

Rice Gallery, Peterson Hall (near Alumni Hall Theatre)

2 College Hill, Westminster, MD

Date- October 19,2011

Sponsoring Organization- Robert Lemieux at 410.857.2425 or rlemieux@mcdaniel.edu