Winning

I feel, the reason why people get into arguments is solely because they believe they can win.

This thought came about when I was reading an article about how rude it is to call someone offensive words off-handedly, such as ‘retarded’, ‘psycho’ or ‘depressed’. I put myself in a hypothetical situation wherein my closest friends constructed their sentence with a such a word. Now, for an individual who believes in not using such words incorrectly, what would I do?

Honest Outcome: I would let it pass, simply because I knew it would result in a unnecessary argument that I didn’t want to get into.

Now, you could say that, a) I just don’t feel strongly enough about it, b) that’s just my character/how I am, c) I’m a coward.

All above are plausible, and I would agree with you, to a point. Except, I do believe strongly enough, but I do not want to get into an argument which will result in a debate with individuals who won’t back down, simply because you are calling them out on something they are doing. No one likes to be told they are doing something wrong, or should stop doing something.

In the scenario I did say something, it would most likely result in me being called “stuck-up” or someone who can’t take a joke, and I’d be pinned as the individual who “brought down the mood of the evening”.

All the above just made me think about situations where I did speak up, and it didn’t result in an argument. Why did I speak up then? Because I knew I had tangible facts to back me up. I knew it wouldn’t result in an argument and I would win it/not be contested against = no fighting. Ahh, bliss.

So, maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’ll come back later and edit this article after thinking “what a fool was I to type out such an article without studying my thoughts further?!”. I know this article could touch on various topics, as it discusses why humans do what they do. To generalize is incorrect, and I’m 100% sure that, when a proper study is conducted, my hypothesis can be proved wrong (or right).

But, for now, these are my thoughts. Let’s discuss. 00d500804537a23f0487cfa836554a20

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Music for the Soul

One of the most calming and heavenly soundtracks I’ve ever heard, from the best anime I know.

You can say you’d rather pass on anime, but I urge you to try this one out. It’s so beautiful, funny, heart-warming and overall true.

There are many things out there that seem so full of deceit – things that are false to the eye, waiting to bite you in the back; This will make you believe otherwise. ‘Pure’ is the best way I could ever describe this anime and it’s soundtrack.

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The V-J Day Kiss – Review

Death and victory, to put it short and curt, is what war is all about. As brutal as it may be, war brings both sadness and joy. Casualties and loss are faced on both sides, and no one likes to see their family/relatives/friends/acquaintances die, be it for a worthy or an unworthy cause. World War II was no different.

There are many opinionated views about the dropping of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atom bombs, by the US, in Japan. Some say it was necessary to end the war and to stop the blood loss of their nation’s soldiers, whereas others say that Japan already given signs of surrender, and that the disaster of the atom bomb didn’t need to be unleashed.  After the bombing, Japan had sent a formal notice, with the intention of surrender, on August 10th, under the terms of the Potsdam Declaration; this came with many terms that would take time for the Allies to review and decide upon.

However, for the civilians and soldiers, it meant a potential – to clear – end of war. On 14th August, 1945, an initial announcement was made to the people of the allies. When the announcement was made, people were glad that they could breathe again, that their loved ones would come home and see them once again; to the soldiers, it meant living once again.

Happiness and morale was high. Light and jolly, the people on the streets of New York, Time Square were merely walking around, greeting friends and strangers. It was amongst this crowd, that the most famous picture of this day was taken.  Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt is the credited news photographer who, as you can clearly see the LIFE watermark to the lower left bottom of the picture, was working for LIFE magazine, at the time. He was known for his candid photography and this would be his signature piece.

This day was called the Victory over Japan Day/Victory in the Pacific Day/Victory in Europe Day. The picture above was aptly called the V-J DAY KISS, and came to mark this day. Even though the formal ceremony of surrender was made on September 2nd, and victory is also celebrated on that day, this picture shows the emotions that ran wild on the day of the initial announcements, capturing the true feelings of the people.

It seemed that on that day, as Alfred explained, many men and women were roaming the streets and embracing each other, but there was one man who was kissing almost every woman in his sight. The sailor you see in this picture was that very man. The woman was a nurse, who had just left her station/ward, and came out to celebrate. Alfred further explains that he saw a flash of white from the corner of his eye, and it was within that second that this man embraced her.

Positioned in the center of the frame, the couples face was kept in complete focus, while the other people in the background were out of focus. The natural lighting and the shadows of the two permit us to believe that it was in the evening time of day, around 7:00 PM. However, the most important part of the picture would have to be the blurred hand and the absolute embrace, stand and passion of the couple. It goes to show that it was not just any kiss, but one that was out of the blue, out of sheer happiness and triumph that the war was over. It shows the spontaneity and extravagance in all the people’s action and reactions of that day. The sign board of ‘BOND’ helps us affirm the location of this picture, to be just south of 45th street where Broadway and Seventh Avenue converge.

Ethically speaking, this picture on any other normal day, would be taken as offensive, however, in light of events, this picture became a world-wide stamp, only because it depicted the true meaning of this day; hope. Hope that those young lovers and artists, business men and sailors, nurses and wives, the rich and the poor, everyone was free. This bold action meant that everyone could breathe again and be frivolous in their actions. It meant freedom.

It is said that there was another similar picture, like the one above, taken in Paris by photographer Robert Doisneau. His picture also shows a couple embracing each other in public, however the passion that is shown in that picture could be greatly misunderstood for any other reason, but that of the main one. It seemed to lack a show of spontaneity, which is exactly what the photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt’s picture held.

Funny enough, to further prove the nonsensical but joyful actions of the day, the identities of the two in the picture were unknown for a very long time. It was only after the nurse had called Alfred herself, and after a close examination, that Alfred accepted her claims. Many sailor men had stepped up to claim their rightful glory alongside the nurse, but it was only after years that the sailors’ identity was founded.

All in all, this picture proves that war had ended, and summed up the happiness of all the people in the world, into one kiss and one picture.

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My Sassy Girl – Review

Directed by Kwak Jae-yong and produced by Shin Chul, the movie ‘My Sassy Girl’, or ‘Yeopgijeogin Geunyeo’ literally meaning That Bizarre Girl, is your typical Romantic-Comedy movie. Korea has a policy of promoting local films, as a pose to the screening of only selective international ones; therefore, made in Korea, this movie was released on the 27th of July, 2001 and was (still is) ranked as one of the second best films in the Korean Film Industry. However, it is important to note that since this conditioning of sorts has been carried out, the audiences in Korea have also grown to love local films more than international ones, inculcating a deeper liking for romantic comedies and other such genres in the Korean Film Industry.

True to its genre, the story line of this film revolves around two main characters; a boy and a girl, destined to meet and fall in love, because fate decided so. The sequences of events, however, are skillfully placed and are highly hilarious. The movie depicts a normal life in Korea for adolescents, young adults and parents, as well as the lifestyle and living conditions of many Korean families. It is, through these depictions, that a subtle message has been passed; the popularity of ‘Love Hotels’, the growing crisis of Adolescent Prostitution and the Violence in a relationship.

Many a times in the film you find the two main characters visiting a ‘Love Hotel’. All they have to do is pay a price (a rather heavy one) and they would be allowed to occupy a room for the night. Through the movie, we find that these rooms in a ‘Love Hotel’ are designed in such a way that each room consists of many arrangements, which would be required to cater to the needs of lovers who are aiming for intercourse. Besides this, we see a scene in which a group of elderly men try to buy sex from a group of young girls. It is then that the main female character stops this act any further by shouting at both, the group of men and young girls.

A last symbol, I would like to note, is the behavior and nature of the main female character, and that of the main male character. With exception that the movie was aiming for comedy, it cannot be missed however, that the nature of the main female character was highly violent, and then main male character more docile and understanding of such. Such relationships have become higher amongst the young couples of Korea and other places, a study shows.

The movie ends on a heart-warming, tear-moving scene, in which the main characters unite once again. While the aim of this movie was drama, romance and comedy, such symbols were necessarily depicted to portray the life in Korea, and the growing circumstances.

‘My Sassy Girl’ was attempted by the US Film Industry, clearly trying to achieve the same response that the Korean version got, however they were not successful due to various reasons. Some say it was because the original and the remake just couldn’t compete, others say that it was because of the humor and acting; while others say it just didn’t fit the westernized dating scenario.

All in all, the Korean version of the film was a great success, and the subtle depictions of the various symbols of Korea played a vital role in this success.

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Because Reality is Overrated

We live in a world driven by media and its many players. Of this great epic, three main characters emerge – the producers who use the media to communicate so called ‘reality’, the audience who view the media through prejudice eyes, and finally the advertisers who abuse the media for selfish innocent purposes. The producers are the monopoly man or the manipulator, the advertisers are your good-looking, scheming, villains and your audience is your donkey or the helpless damsel in distress, crying wolf and wanting to be saved. This situation of today has brought one to a contradictory state of sorts with questions that beg for solutions; we say the audience is dumb, yet producers claim they are tough to please, that news is no more news and cannot be trusted, yet the viewership of news has increased, that reality is manipulated, yet what we see is real, and finally, that lesser and lesser people feel the pinch of the hard truth, and yet the amount of support groups are a lot more than in the past years. This essay tries to pick on these topics, so as to bring clarity to the questions; finally, we will find out the role of a media literate in this great epic and how the fourth role, which is so pivotal, is rising.

Take this scene:

*click click*   “Never mind I’ll find, someone like youuuuu~oo-“   *click click*   “This just in breaking news, a plane heading for Everest region has crashed in Nepals capital, killing 19 people on board-“   *click*   “AND ‘BEFORE WICKET’ IS COMING UP, JUST BEHIND ‘ISHIGURU’, ‘TIZNOW’ TAKING UP SPEED-“   *click*   “The best way to cook it is by soaking it over night, so it’s nice and soft and easy to cook, see-“   *click*   “Black is your best friend, trust me! You shed ten pounds almost immediately when you couple a gorgeous pair of black heels with an elegant black-“   *click*   “GOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL, WHAT A BEAUTY! A BRILLIANT CURLING EFFORT FROM VAN PERSIE, LLORIS WAS ROOTED TO THE SPOT!”   *click*   “Tengo la camisa negra, hoy mi amor esta de luto, hoy tengo en el almo una pena y es por culpa de tu embrujo ~”

“What are you watching? Do you even understand that?”

“No clue, but it sounds nice and he doesn’t look half bad”

What you just read is a classic example of how we expose ourselves to media, which in this instance was television. From that, you found out what to wear, how to cook something, that Van Persie scored a goal for Manchester United, Adele’s songs are still playing!, a bunch of ridiculous horses names racing against each other, 19 died in a plane crash at Nepal, and finally, decided to listen to a song in a language you don’t even understand. With 7 billion people on this earth, there is more than 100 times the amount of information available for us, everyday at our fingertips! But how do we make our choices? What influences us? Producers of the information we receive thought about the same thing; they decided that getting the world to like one thing was just impossible, since every being has a separate and unique taste, so the audience was segmented: by creed, race, culture and tradition, age, sex and geographic location. Audience fragmentation helps the producer make your experience more personalized, like it was made for you! So what was the problem in doing this?

Media observer, Ben Bagdikian reported that in 1997, the number of media companies with dominant power in society at the time was 10. In 2004 however, this number reduced to 5, under the observation of columnist William Safire; the companies were namely, Fox, Viacom, Comcast, GE (NBC-Universal), and Time Warner. According to Nielsens, television rating for 2010 show that there are estimated 115.9 million television households in the United States. “A single national rating point represents one percent of the total number or 1,159,000 households for the 2010-11 season.” This is why many concerns are being raised about the influence of such.

From the ‘ordinary’ news you see today, to the way news was told years before, we have come a long way. Let’s take ‘Good Morning America’ and ‘NDTV’ for example; these popular news channels not only inform about what they think you should know, but they also give it to you in a very appealing manner. With lively news anchors, a pleasing stage set appearance and tunes that get stuck in your head, the lines of news and entertainment are fast blurring – but here’s where everyone is mistaken. Perhaps the method of giving information is different from the usual stone-faced anchors, but that’s alright! The viewer’s tastes and preferences change, and the viewers are such that they get amazed really quick, but bored even quicker, if you cease to not amaze them. Methods are not, and should not be, our concern as much as the actual news should.

The problem with change is, if you don’t ride on it when the wave comes, you get lost in the tide. This is why everyone goes on about how the newspaper is ‘dying’. It was the only medium that didn’t have too much change after a certain point. It followed the ABC’s of news worthy information, in the same layout, and at some point, the audience got bored. A smart choice was when newspapers like Khaleej Times and Gulf News made the size of the usual broadsheet smaller, and Gulf News made the layout more for the urban being of today. This received a lot of praise and helped the newspaper. But did content change? No.

What should be our concern is that maybe the news agencies are giving in too much into the pressures of the audience’s wants and needs. What is called news today is anything that you haven’t heard before. Take the example of Jimmy Falon, Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno; they all have a segment where they pick out the most un-news worthy piece of article that was published and mock it in front of a crowd, but people still see it as news none the less. The whole manner of sitting behind a desk, the formal attire and tone of speech convinces the audience that though they know it is entertainment, it is still news. Let’s take another example, a famous YouTube icon, Ray William Johnson. He comments on the odd things he comes across on the internet, like advertisements and other interesting YouTube videos and even on movies and games occasionally. He has more than a million followers and viewers online, who are sometimes informed about the happenings of the wonderful world online only through him. They look forward to his video blogs and hope he makes more, to keep them informed. Therefore, the problem lies in what is news today, because everything is!

Does this make the audience dumb, or the producers smart? Neither. Producers blame the audience for becoming so simple minded, and the audience blames the producers for brain washing them to make them so! Let’s rewind the clock and go back to when books were first introduced to the masses. It was during the industrial revolution that buying power increased and people wanted leisure; books were one among the many more to come. The sole purpose of the medium was first education and entertainment. It later was found that it would be a good way to influence people and get more news about the world out to the masses, rather than light reading and knowledge that have been passed down from the ages.

I will not say the lines of news and entertainment have blurred, because while the mode of giving it has definitely, the content itself hasn’t, from the conventional news sources. This age has just seen an addition to the whole system of news agencies, with a new source or agent for information. The content itself has expanded rather than changing or limiting. Contradictions today have forced us to become more media literate. We take things seriously and as news, today, depending mainly on our taste and preferences, as well as the source itself.

This does not make the audience a dumb one, but rather a varied one. This classification is a result of the fact that the audience’s wants and needs are simple, but they way it is to be given and packaged to us carries paramount importance. We want information on a silver platter, thank you.

However, more than just information and the packaging of it, are the depictions of dreams. A large driving force of media usage is because it enables the audience to see their dreams in the form of reality. Pressures of extreme work conditions have made people want to take a step back. Movies like the Harry Potter series, Twilight series, and other such crazed films, are so popular only because it feeds on the dreams of its viewers. Good tidings, however, are not only for the Sci-fi, Fantasy or Thriller/Suspense genres, but also for the new upcoming popular genres, like Reality Shows, Dramas and Comedies benefit dearly. Taking the example of Modern Family, we find families with characters who are relatable – I repeat, relatable, not real – yet it is depicted so that it looks like it could be. Therefore this sense of realism and relatability helps in the popularity of the series. However, this causes problems again; will children try to be this way? Is showing gay parents promoting or desensitizing us? Is it making us achieve more than what we can?

To this I will not debate. Media has desensitized us, by its constant euphemism of war, crime and other horrid things existing today. By and large, however, this information has also made us empathize and aware. More people know about Type 2 Diabetes, AIDS, Breast Cancer, Autism,  that regular check-ups are important and perhaps you don’t always have to donate money to help someone in need! Indeed, the media has done its good part.

So what conclusion can one come to after all? That one needs to be more media literate than they already think they are. Media today forces us to see that while they are giving us what we want, what we want is distorted and we should change our ways. Literature is slowly shifting from Shakespeare to Twilight, Dear John and Harry Potter. This is tradition we can’t lose. We must take this call and move forward. Being a media literate does not mean understanding, interpreting and gaining knowledge from what we receive by the media, but that it should be shared. To be a media literate is to be responsible and objective in your views, making others see the truth behind what is given to them. No one player is at fault here, but all three. It is necessary that producers give news responsibly, without giving in to a much into the needs of the people, that the audience views media with a critical mind and advertisers promote without making viewers try to achieve the impossible. Change will always be evident in the way we do things, but letting it take over everything is another story.

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Sexism

“Discrimination or devaluation based on a person’s sex”

In this day and age, the concept of sexism would seem to someone as less alive than what it was so back in the day. The statement is true on all levels, but does that mean that the concept is alive? Very much so. Does that mean that we put up with even that little just because we saw progress? As to say – Rest on ones laurels? I don’t think so.

Even in the topic of sexism itself, if a woman expresses her views on it, many jumps to conclusions and tag her as a ‘feminist’. These two concepts are highly different. While feminism refers to movements aimed at establishing and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women, Sexism refers to discrimination based on sex. Not necessarily women, it could even be men.

Society feeds children’s minds with such a concept through movies. We are brought up by such perceptions and do not realize as to the psychological effect that takes place; the mind-set that it leaves a youngling with.  Do you remember your favorite Disney movie that you watched as a child? Do you remember the way a woman was depicted? What’s sad is how little the image of a woman has changed in such movies. You still have the same highly sexualized female body: the big breasts, the tiny waist, the fluting eyelashes, the pleasing expressions and the seductress. Most Disney movies revolve around a heterosexual relationship. The message that is sent to girls is just as important as the messages sent to boys. It sets a boys mind to how real men behave with women; often the message conveyed is:  Women are objects of pleasure or as servants to please them.

We need to take note of such dangers that threaten our society subtly. Why build the idea that one sex is better than the other? On what basis is such a question formed?  No one is better than the other. To be underestimated is wrong. To view men as all brawn and no brains with little emotional intelligence is wrong. Times are changing, and keeping such concepts alive will only slow the process. Move forward, think bigger. We can all get somewhere if we stop underestimating the other.

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