Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blog #7

This week in class, the discussion was mainly about the topic cultural celebrations and their importance to its culture and the way the performances reflect the larger social issues.  The Mardi Gras video that the class watched truly demonstrated the importance of having these performances for the group and even the individual.  In the documentary there were people who were very clearly emotionally influenced by the celebrations and everything that went into it. This really proves how important having cultural performances is to countless cultures.  These performances can be as extravagant, like Mardi Gras in Alabama, or they can be as simple as a small theatre production in a community.  These events reach a community is many ways that a community may not be able to be reached otherwise.

During my four years in high school, I took an American Sign Language (ASL) class each year.  The wonderful thing about this class was that I did not just learn the language, but I also learned about Deaf culture.  Deaf culture is not limited to a certain ethnic background, heritage, or race; in fact Deaf culture is not even limited to deaf people.  This culture can include obviously those who are deaf, family members of deaf individuals, students of ASL, etc.  This culture consists of many, many types of people, which can make for a mix of cultures producing a larger one.  Deaf culture consists of nearly everything that “normal” culture consists of, including cultural performances.  The National Theatre of the Deaf is just like any other theater group, putting on productions of stories or skits while incorporating their culture and at times teaching the audience a bit of sign language.  This particular video I posted explains a sect of the National Theatre of the Deaf; this sect consists of two deaf performers and two hear performers (who know ASL).  This combines both of these, very different at times, cultures and creating a holistic culture with the two.      

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Blog #6

This week in class we discussed the differences among cultures when it comes to food.  Differences in food does not only mean what food is eaten or not; differences among food is possibly countless.   There will be differences on how the food is prepped, how the food is eaten, when the food is eaten, where the food is eaten (i.e. the floor versus the table), and the behaviors that are customary during the consumption of the food.   As many people in class discussed his or her first encounter with cultural differences in food, I noticed that many people (including myself) mainly compared and contrasted different cultures that are outside of the United States.  For example I remember differences comparing my norms with my best friend from Fiji and another girl in my group discussed the time when a foreign exchange student from Japan lived with her and her family.  Moreover, when I was thinking about what to write in my blog, I kept trying to remember a time in my life when I was exposed to another culture or thinking of movies when culture conflicts between people from different countries.  Although it sounds very obvious when I say it, but people do need to remember that there are cultural differences right next door to you.  I find that when a person says “culture” or “culture clashes” many times people think of cultures so different that the cultures must originate on opposite continents, which is clearly not the case.  This is important for a person to keep in mind because one should always be aware that a variety of cultures can be found anywhere and in any form.  For example, when watching the “Travel Channel” not long ago I came across a show that compares and contrasts the same type of food but how it is prepared and eaten.  This one episode looks at different regions of the United States and how each place cooks, prepares, and eats a hot dog.   After listening to people being interviewed, there seems to be a competition about which hot dog is the best, but there is still an overall belief that the hot dog is an American icon.  Which brings me to ask why it is an American icon? Would you agree with that?
Below is the link that explains what each hot dog contains in the meat and toppings.  There is also a video clip of part of the show I saw.  Enjoy!


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Blog #5

This week the class had discussions about oral prose narratives.  One example of a prose narrative that was discussed was a legend.  A legend is supposed to be about true events that took place and these particular events that did take place are meant to be a warning to those who will listen.  In addition, legends have typically been repeated, in some cases for years, in hopes that people will be advised from the warning the legend speaks of.  There are several types of legends, but the ones I find the most interesting are the urban legends.  An urban legend is “a form of modern folklore consisting of stories usually believed by their tellers to be true.”   There is a popular interest in these types of legends that has led to a large amount of popular media focusing on these legends.  There are numerous television shows and books that have come out within the last fifty years.  One of the first of its kind was the television show “The Twilight Zone,” which debuted in 1959.  I did not grow up with this show, but it is one of my favorites nonetheless.  A popular urban legend is about the vanishing hitchhiker.  “The Twilight Zone” had an episode about this legend, with a few differences.  This episode begins with a woman who is traveling from New York to Los Angeles (by car no doubt).  She continues to see the same man over and over again on her drive.  She becomes incredibly frightened and is unsure what to do.  She eventually stops for gas and meets a Navy sailor, who is trying to reach San Diego, Ca.  She tells him she would take him and is quite happy to have his company.  While they are driving, the woman sees this mysterious hitchhiker again and again and begins to drive sporadically.  The sailor says he wants to leave and she tells him that she likes him a lot and would like to go out with him.  She is doing everything she can so that he will not leave her alone.  This is where this video clip begins…

This shows that some urban legends never die.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Blog #4

During our class lecture this week one thing we discussed was the difference between dialect and accent.  Dialect is something that has its own grammatical structure, syntax, and is a variety of a language that is different than the other varieties.  An accent however is purely the pronunciation differences of words, and it is largely due to region and also people you are around. For example, my boyfriend’s grandma is from Alabama, but she only says certain words with that southern twang since she has been here so long; however when her sister, who still resides in Alabama, calls her, her Southern accent comes out full blown and if I did not know better I would think she was a different person.  It is very interesting how not only the location dictates accept but also who is in one’s close environment.

The discussion in class was also raised that there is stereotype about different accents.  For example, Jeff Foxworthy (a native southern) even mentioned a person would not want to hear his or her brain surgeon talk in a thick Southern accent because, unfortunately, people tend to match Southern accents wit lack of education.  To elaborate on this topic, I am posting a clip from a television show called “King of the Hill.”  If you are unfamiliar with this show it is simply about daily life with a typical Texan family, the Hills.  The father, husband, and main character, Hank constantly prides himself with being American and using American products.  In this episode, his friend Boomhauer swaps houses with a Canadian family for one summer.  This causes conflict with Hank and his family; when they are having a summer barbeque, the Canadian family is annoyed and calls the police.  This is where the clip begins.     

Although this is clearly fictional, this demonstrates that everyone has some type of premature assumptions of the type of person based on his or her accent.  In addition to this, people will find attributes and characteristics that coincide with their preconceive notions. This means that people will find evidence that fits with their assumptions and therefore the stereotype remains.  This is not always true though, but it seems to occur more often than it should.  I try to think of myself as an opened-minded person and I try not to ever judge a person based on anything superficial, but I know I do unfortunately.  How can a person avoid this though, especially because it is such a huge part of society? 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Blog #3

This past week, the class briefly discussed superstitions, which is one of the two categories of folk beliefs (the other being worldview).  A superstition has no rational basis in reality, but still numerous people continue to practice them and participate in it.  Some of these that I have commonly seen is spilling the table salt and throwing of the left shoulder (I think) or crossing your finger in hopes for something to happen or not to happen.  Superstitions, like rituals (which can be superstitious), can and do vary all over the world and have a huge cultural influence, but most superstitions have to do with luck. We all have the need to know "what will bring us luck?”  This luck can be good or bad, which means a superstitious person wants to know what will bring the good and keep the bad away.  The image below shows some common superstitions that many people in the American culture will be familiar with.

One can see that the woman is having a bad day in the superstitious world.  She is walking under a ladder.  Bad luck.  It is Friday the 13th.  Bad luck.  The mirror is crack.  7 years back luck.  She is crossing paths with a black cat on a cracked pathway.  Double bad luck.  There is an open umbrella, inside probably.  Again, bad luck.  One could say that this woman is going to have a very bad day.  Others could say that this is just another day, nothing is out of normal.  What the difference in people?  I cannot say exactly why or why not a person is seriously superstitious, but something I do know is that superstitions can be fun, which I probably why some people, including myself, somewhat foolishly participate in them.  In my Italian family, having a loaf of bread upside-down is bad luck (why? I don’t know, but it is) and it is something we can all agree and laugh about. 

Below is an article I found which was written a couple years ago.  It discusses numerous different superstitions around the world.  Some I have never heard of, or quite frankly understand, but it is interesting to learn about.  Enjoy…it’s short!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Blog #2

Part of the reading that was due in class on January 19th was one of the appendix’s (A,B, or C).  Because the topic of research methods was just short of being pounded into the group, I decided to blog about my reading, Appendix A.  For those who did not read this, it is about the event of a female firefighter, Alice, coming into the world of many firefighters.  I am not going to give a summary of it, but there were a couple of points about normality that were very interesting and worth mentioning.   One of the first was the fact that one would assume that a female coming into a group of males would cause conflict and a sense of discomfort on many levels.  On some levels this may be true, but the author mentions that there is a sense of a kind of preconscious (meaning not completely aware of) compromise because “both she and the men on her shift must share some sort of common sense of what is and is not appropriate behavior” (200).  This is fascinating due to the fact that there is a shift the firefighters normality when Alice comes into the picture; however there is an overall sense of give and take which demonstrates that the way of life is not only constantly changing, but the individual is changing or adapting right along with it whether or not it is known to that person.  When interviewed, Alice mentioned how many of her male coworkers would apologize after swearing, which shows that they would still at in their norm, but soon realized that their norm had changed.  In addition to this, Alice mentioned how one particular coworker would purposely be crude and say sexual jokes in order to make her uncomfortable.  He was deliberately going out of his norm so that the thing interfering with his normal way of life at work would go away and things could return to his normal.  This can go to show that some people can handle a shift in their norm and some cannot.

On a personal note, I have had some experience with this.  I work at a daycare at an elementary school and have worked there for almost four years.  My company recently hired its first male employee ever since it has opened in 1988.  Now there was a definite shift in the norm at work, in my other coworkers, and myself.  For me, it did not take me long to return to where I felt comfortable, but I think it is fair to say that where my norm is not is not where it was a year ago.  Overall, it seems like the lesson to be learned here is obvious, there are changes that are going to shift your norm and your comfort level, but eventually you will change and adapt so you will gain a new norm.  I still wonder if there is ever a change that I cannot adapt to and what would happen in that case?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Blog #1

During class on January 12, 2011, one of the topics that were discussed in lecture was the topic pertaining to nature versus culture.  Nature means the biological needs of all humans need to participate in to survive.  These biological needs include breathing, eating, sleeping, eliminating, and drinking.  Culture pertains to the differences of how people achieve these biological needs.  The example that was used in class was the one of eliminating.  In American culture, this act is very private and one that people don’t talk about at length.  In other cultures, however, this act is not as private and is seen as a no-big-deal piece of living life.  I don’t think that when a person hears the word “culture” that he or she think of the differences in those situations; he or she probably think of more along the lines of language, art, and traditions within a group of people. I admit I was one of those people.  These biological needs are so obvious, in a sense, that a person does not take them into account in terms of looking at culture.

I found a wonderful example in the differences in these needs in different cultures and how sometimes different cultures clash.  I saw a movie awhile back entitled “Mr. Baseball” starring Tom Selleck.  This movie is about an arrogant Yankee baseball player (Tom Selleck) who is transferred to a Japan to play baseball on a Japanese team.  One can probably already foresee countless culture clashes that can possible happen.  In the scene I have linked below, Selleck is at the home of the woman he is seeing, who lives with her father (who happens to be his baseball coach) and her grandparents.   They are sitting down for a meal and there are obvious differences in how the two cultures participate in the biological need of eating.  There is one scene where the daughter is faced with the choice of pouring Selleck or her father the tea first.  Before this scene happened, it was explained that the daughter traditionally pours the tea to the “man of the house” before anyone else.   I really love this scene in the movie because one can view the culture difference in eating where there is custom and tradition.

One reason that Selleck has a hard time fitting in this culture is because he does not want to have anything to do with it (at least in the beginning).  This makes me wonder how difficult would it be to adapt to another culture if one was willing versus not willing to participate.  Especially considering the way the biological needs are taken care of, which adds a whole new dynamic to just thinking of language, art, and customs.