Our Public Sphere

What does the Red Hot Chili's Peppers video "Californication" tell us about our public sphere? In other words, what are the Chili Peppers telling us about our "world"? Who/what creates reality for us?

But isn't reality reality?

New Media Examples

Assuming the DVD works, we'll watch the following:

  • "Californication" video by the Red Hot Chili Peppers

  • Tommy Vercetti in action in GTA: Vice City

  • "Ayo Technology" video by 50 Cent (feat. Justin Timberlake and Timbaland)

  • "Umbrella" video by Rihanna (feat. Jay-Z)

  • "Singin' in the Rain" sung by Gene Kelly

  • Classic Umbrella "dancing" from the 1940s (Google Video)

  • Rihanna Wannabes from You Tube

New Media Questions

Assuming the DVD works, we'll watch the following:

  • What are the obvious connections between "Californication" and GTA: Vice City?

    • Why would the Chili Peppers use a video game "engine" (the environment the characters move around in) for their music video? What cultural interface are they tapping in to?
    • What are your experiences with video games and how does that compare or contrast with the sequence you saw?
    • What are the RHCP "saying" in their song?
  • Any takers on "Ayo Technology"?
  • Why the history of Umbrellas and dancing/singing in the rain? (I honestly have no clue, so, please, let's think about this).
    • Do you think there might be differences in how men or women view either video?
  • What do the You Tube "tributes" say about New Media?

Locating American Values

Because this course is a theoretical exploration of how we can locate a society's values by "reading" its technologies, we ought to think about what those values are. This page asks you to think about American values. The goal of this next exercise is to identify values that we might be able to "read" technologies from American society.

Emulating Celebrities

Time permitting, we'll look at some other new media examples--Rihanna's and her fans:

  • What did you notice about Rihanna's tributes (or other tributes to videos/celebrities) on YouTube and amateur videos?
  • Why would someone make a video of themselves and put it on YouTube?
  • What does it say about our culture that there are many "tributes" like the one we saw in class online?
  • How does the editing of the video "Umbrella" affect our perception of the narrative?
  • What do the You Tube "tributes" say about New Media?

Next Class Readings

On Monday, we'll be looking at the world through a Marxist lens. Please preview tomorrow's page in order to help guide your reading of the next two articles--Raymond Williams and Marx & Engels. Although this is a reductive way to think about Marxist critiques, we're just being introduced to ideas about Marxism. Instead of discussing the attributes of Marxism in full detail (if such a discussion is even possible), we'll be using Marixst theory to analyze the cultures from where our New Media texts come. Remember, all texts (like technologies) are cultural products.

Try to resist the temptation to read against these readings because you're immersed in a culture that's vehemently anti-Marx, anti-communism, and anti-socialism. We aren't reading to debate which system is best; instead, we're reading these to think further about what give power to beliefs about our "system."


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