Monday, January 30, 2012

Sao Paulo's buildings enveloped by graffiti

In many parts of the world, graffiti has become a mainstream form of art.  But in Sao Paulo, graffiti artists have a more disruptive or revolutionary purpose and have resisted being co-opted.  This has brought them into conflict with the government and property owners.  Click on this link to read the article about them from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (1-29-12).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Benetton "unhate" kissing ad pulled after controversy

Benetton has a history of producing controversial ads; the latest series is no exception. The ads picture world leaders, including religious leaders, who are often at odds with each other, kissing. Apparently the one of the Pope and a prominent Imam pushed things a bit too far and the ads have now been withdrawn. There are all sorts of interesting issues here including questions about the use of these figures' images without their permission (which is what they are complaining about) and the quasi-erotic suggestions of the kiss. It's hard to imagine anyone could be offended by the "unhate" theme, but perhaps that's the most radical aspect of this ad campaign and what ultimately offends the ideologically pure.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Clothing retailers raise prices, cheapen clothing

Click on this link to read an article by Anne D'Innocenzio (AP/Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 8-20-11) about how clothing chains are increasing their profit margins by raising prices while using less material. In exchange, they are adding style features to try to hide the cheapening of the quality of their products. Is this a simply a financially-astute response to rising materials and labor costs, or a deliberate misleading of consumers? Perhaps both?

Dancing double sparks Hollywood controversy

Click on this link to read a Sarasota Herald-Tribune article (8-2--11) about Sarah Lane (see photo), a ballerina who did many of the dances in the film, "Black Swan." Natalie Portman's face was digitally pasted to Sarah's body in some shots, provoking speculation about which dances Natalie actually performed herself. When Sarah Lane was not thanked during the Oscar ceremony (Portman won best actress), Lane decided to go public with the fact that she had in fact danced in many of the scenes. In terms of the ethics of collaboration, what do you believe is owed Sarah Lane (besides her paycheck) to acknowledge the role she played in making the film?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

State College of Florida to buy $71,000 Cadilac Escalade. Ringling on alert for drive-by.

As this article reports, the State College of Florida is in the process of purchasing a 2011 Cadillac Escalade SUV for use by top College officials. Apparently the 2008 Lexus SUV they have just doesn’t suit their needs any longer, so they are looking to upgrade. SCF officials have very specific tastes:

The bid specifications call for an exterior with “white diamond tricoat” finish, an interior color of “cashmere with cocoa accents,” and “power retractable assist steps.”

The timing and the largess of the purchase is curious. Enrollment at the College has decreased 15% in the last year and the Board of Trustees recently voted to increase tuition by over $3,000 a year.

Exactly why does a state college need a vehicle that has become synonymous with rappers and professional athletes? Do officials believe that driving the same car as Ludacris, Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, Snoop Dawg, and LeBron James will help attract students? Or impress donors? Or is this the first shot in an East Coast-West Coast war with Broward Community College?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

World Cup helps Twitter set record with 7,196 tweets per second. Shockingly not all tweets came from a Kardashian.

Proving that not all technological advances actually improve society, this week’s Women’s World Cup football soccer finale set an all time record for tweets per second. According to this story during the match between Japan and the United States 7,196 tweets per second were being sent. That’s around 40 million messages for a regulation game. Were there really 40 million astute comments that needed to be expressed while watching a sport most Americans only pay any attention to every 4 years?

So what makes people feel the need to broadcast their most mundane thoughts on subjects they have very little knowledge of to the entire world? According to some psychologists it may be a lack of identity, insecurity, or just plain narcissism:

"Twittering stems from a lack of identity," one writes. "It’s a constant update of who you are, what you are, where you are. Nobody would Twitter if they had a strong sense of identity.”

"We are the most narcissistic age ever," agrees Dr David Lewis, a cognitive neuropsychologist and director of research based at the University of Sussex. "Using Twitter suggests a level of insecurity whereby, unless people recognize you, you cease to exist. It may stave off insecurity in the short term, but it won't cure it."

Is Twitter just an extension of the “everybody’s a winner” modern society that over-doting parents have left us with? Just because you play little league baseball doesn’t mean you deserve a trophy, not every picture you draw is a work of art, and not everything you say is deep and meaningful and must be shared with the world. At some point it became unnecessary to learn, to listen, to strive to be better. We are all perfect the way we are, right?