Social Media: Like, Follow, Pin, and Share

In 1971, the first email was delivered. 40 years later, social media has taken over our world. Medical News Today defines social media as an array of Internet sites that enable people from all over the world to interact (Whiteman). This connection can be through photos, video, and audio. Social media has changed the way our society communicates and has become such an essential part of our lives. Social media can help us stay connected with friends and family. It can help us get involved with different businesses, organizations, and charities. Social media can also help promote our creativity through sharing music, ideas, and art. It can also help people to meet and interact with others who share the same interests as you. The connections we make through social media can cause you to feel like you are part of a community, but these connections can have negative effects as well.

According to Steven Strogatz of Cornell University, he believes social media sites can make it difficult for us to differentiate from real-life relationships and the relationships and connections that we make through social media (Jung). If we focus too much on the relationships that we make online, our real life relationships will not be as strong. Our real life relationships are the ones that matter the most. Another negative aspect of social media is a new form of bullying, cyber bullying. defines cyber bullying as bullying that takes place using electric technology. This electric technology can include cell phones, computers, and social media. The bullies anonymously torment their victims or can even pose as a person that the victim trusts. Cyber bullying is also 24/7 and can take place anytime of the day or night. These online attacks can have negative, impactful effects on the victims. Many victims have also turned to suicide. Social media can also be a distraction and even cause us to not be as productive as we need to be. In chapter 13 of Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together, a young girl stated that a particular social media has taken over her life. She could not log off. She finds herself looking at random things, and then realizes it was a waste of time. Another girl commented that she is afraid that she will miss out on something important (Turkle, 242).

In Alone Together Turkle states that, “Anxiety is a part of the new connectivity” (Turkle, 242). Social media can have effects on our emotions as well. A survey on social media use was conducted in 2012 by Anxiety UK and they found that 53% of participants said social media sites had changed their behavior, while 51% of these said the change had been negative (Whiteman). The participants also said they felt less confident because they compared themselves to their friends. The survey also found that two thirds of the participants had trouble relaxing and sleeping after they used the social media sites (Whiteman). Another negative aspect of social media is the feeling of validation and recognition. We can get so caught up in how many likes we get on a comment or a picture, and if we do not get the amount of likes we were expecting we get sad, or even feel like we are not good enough.

Have you ever been searching the web and you find something you don’t want to forget? Think about the different ways you save it; either by emailing it to yourself, printing it out and putting it in a binder, or saving it to your bookmarks. Well Pinterest is a great way for you to bring together all of the things you find online, whether it’s a great recipe, clothes, or a great book to read on vacation.

Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp, and Paul Sciarra founded Pinterest. They released a prototype of Pinterest in March 2010 and shared it among family members and friends (“Press”). Pinterest became a hit and grew rapidly. Pinterest is like a virtual bulletin board; it’s just like if you were adding different items you found on an actual bulletin, but Pinterest is a website that allows you to pin things you find online on your own account so that you can easily go back to them whenever you need to. The first thing you need to do is create a Pinterest account you can sign up by email, Facebook, or Twitter. Linking your account with Facebook or Twitter will allow you to be able to connect with your family and friends. After creating an account, you should install the “Pin It” button to your browser toolbar. This button allows you to pin things while you are online. For instance, if you come across an article about a DIY project, you can click the “Pin It” button and the article will then be saved to that specific board.

Just like Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest has some important terms to understand. The first term is “pin”. A pin is an image added to Pinterest. This image can be uploaded by the user, or a website. Each pin you see links back to the site it came from so you can learn how to make a specific recipe, or where to buy a certain product. The next term is “board”. A board is where all your pins are located, and you can have separate boards for different topics. And the last term is “repin”. A repin is once something is repined on Pinterest, it can then be shared or repined by other Pinterest users.

One of the greatest things about Pinterest is that you have the ability to pin whatever your interests are. Everyone uses Pinterest for all different sorts of things. You can save recipes that you want to reference to make for dinner later. You can plan your whole wedding on Pinterest as well. You can find different ideas as far as types of flowers you want to us, even down to the style of cake you would like to have. Others use Pinterest to find ideas for outfits. You can find and create a whole new wardrobe for the upcoming spring season. Pinterest is also different from other social media in regards to having a specific topic for each board. This is a great solution to having one social media but so many interests. For instance, many people have two Twitter accounts, one for their business and then one for pleasure. With Pinterest you can have boards that are unrelated to one another and it does not have to clutter your followers stream.Pinterest can also be a great tool for businesses. Different businesses can use Pinterest to market their products and grow their consumer base. Since Pinterest is a visual medium, businesses can capture their consumer with fascinating images that they can use to promote the product or specific deals.

Just with every social media, I believe Pinterest has its positive and negatives. Pinterest can be a great medium to find ideas, recipes, and allow one to have a collection of important interests that you can reference back to later. I believe a negative aspect of Pinterest is that is very addicting, and time consuming. I can say that I am just going to go on there for 15 minutes but then find myself being on there for an hour, and not even realize where my time went. Since Pinterest engages our senses by being mostly visual, I often find myself looking at the images and comparing my life or circumstances with what I see. For instance, I have a board called ‘My Future Home”, it’s a collection of all the things I want my future house to be. And just like Turkle explains in the introduction of Alone Together, with technology and social media we can create a second life. It’s a place where we can have the perfect life. So it’s like you are trying to create the perfect future life. Also the feeling and emotion of always wanted more material things could occur while being on Pinterest. When I pin clothes and shoes, I just feel like I have to buy those items instead of realizing that I need to be content with the things that I have.

In conclusion, social media has become such an instrumental and impactful aspect of our lives. It has transformed the way we communicate with one another. Although social media has many positive effects on society such as helping us stay connected with family and friends, there can also be many negative effects, such as cyber bullying and anxiety. And with technology growing and new ideas coming about every day, I believe that social media will be here for the long run. I also believe that we have the choice to choose whether or not we will let social media take over our lives and pull us away from our face-to-face interactions. I think it is important to limit the amount of time we spend on social media, put down our phones and pay attention to the people that are in front of us because these are the relationships that matter the most and who we are going to make lasting memories with.

Works Cited

 Jung, Brian. “The Negative Effect of Social Media on Society and Individuals.” Small Business. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Mar. 2015.

“Press.” About Pinterest. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2015.

Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together. New York. Basic Books. 2011. Web. 2 Mar. 2015.

“What Is Cyber bullying.” What Is Cyber bullying? N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Mar. 2015.

Whiteman, Honor. “Social Media: how does it really affect our mental health and well-being?” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 16. Apr. 2014. Web. 1 Mar. 2015.

Teenage vs. Grandparent Magazines (as a Medium)

Side by side, a Seventeen Magazine and a GRAND Magazine are rather diverse. The audience for each of the magazines is undoubtedly different, which explains why a Seventeen magazine does not have six pages about what type of activities babies like to participate in, or where to put paintings up around the house. It also explains why grandparents won’t be spending their Sunday afternoon reading about what makeup would look best on date night. The different tastes between teenagers and grandparents become apparent through the content of the magazines that are specifically veered towards them. However, what is less apparent (but just as important) is the effect the different magazine types as a medium play on the tastes and attitudes of those it is meant for.

The way the information in magazines is portrayed to teenagers and grandparents plays a large role in what they think of the information after reading it. According to Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage, “societies have been shaped more by the nature of the media than the content of what is actively communicated” (McLuhan 8). Specific magazines can have extreme effects on a person’s life. Magazines that are specifically made for teenagers are known for causing self-esteem and body-image issues (Zeiger). However, these problems do not come up for grandparents who read magazines. This relates to a specific portrayal of information that is not seen in magazines for grandparents. Pages in Seventeen are filled with models, many of them with certain “ideal” body types. By including solely a specific body type, the readers tend to believe that only those models look good and are happy with their lives. Also, a teenager might subconsciously compare themselves to these images sprawled throughout the magazine and feel that their bodies are too big. Many ads use people with this certain body type in order to promote their product. There are sections of content about healthy snacks and workouts that could be done, but it is due to the images that are included in the magazine that makes teenagers really use their sense of sight in comparing themselves to those in the magazine.

Good Housekeeping (one of the magazines common among older adults) also includes sections about foods to eat and exercises to do to stay healthy. However, with images of food instead of a model, the grandparents will not acquire the same self-esteem issues as the teenagers might. This is what McLuhan means when he says the nature of the media will affect society more than the content. Both magazines could potentially include phrases like, “fruits and vegetables are a part of a balanced diet” or “exercising for 30 minutes a day is healthy.” However, with one medium portraying this information along with a picture of a model, the message that the teenagers receive (being healthy is good) will become more extreme than it is for the grandparents, leading to the self-esteem issues. This shows that the different content within the magazines (focusing on celebrities in pre-teen magazines and focusing on betterment of the self in grandparent magazines) corresponds with the medium in which the information is portrayed.

When it comes to pre-teen magazines like J-14 and Girl’s Life, there are many colors and pop-ups all throughout the magazine (“Top 10 Magazines for Teens”). This can be seen just by the cover of the magazine (which is covered in words of different sizes, many colors, and images of celebrities). These extremely eye-catching features draw pre-teens towards the magazines (when looking at them in a store, for example) because of how fun they presume to be. While flipping through the magazine, there is never a dull moment because of all the things going on at once. This keeps the attention of the reader because if they aren’t interested in one piece of information on the page, there is a lot more that they can look at. This is similar in magazines for teenagers like Seventeen, though not to the same extreme. In Good Housekeeping, there are (in comparison) less colors and chaos going on in one section. The cover of this magazine also includes a lot of words popping out at the reader in order to grab their attention, though it is less hectic. There are longer articles that are informative about certain topics, because these topics cannot just be stated in one simple statement (like in pre-teen magazines when they say a fun fact about a celebrity and then move on). This organized style appeals more to grandparents because it helps them follow along better. This is same role is played by the more black-and-white text in magazines, giving the magazine an added sense of professionalism and organization.

All types of magazines allow the audience to interact with the magazine and with society, though in different ways. The possibilities for interaction within the teen magazines are nearly endless. Many pre-teen magazines contain surveys or quizzes to find out information like, “Which Celebrity are You Most Like?” allowing the reader to write in the magazine and interact with it. Other pre-teen or teen magazines will have posters that can be ripped out and shared with friends. Many teenagers will make collages with words or pictures cut out of magazines and place them in a scrapbook or on their walls. This means the information within the magazines can spread to more people (like friends who see the scrapbook, for example). There are oftentimes perfume samples within these magazines, meaning the reader can use their sense of smell to interact with the magazine. A main part of teenage magazines is an “Ask Amy” column, or a section in which readers will send in questions or comments and one of the authors responds. This creates a connection between the reader and the author of the magazine. In this sense, teenagers can interact with society and the creators of the magazines in many ways. Grandparents can also participate in writing to authors and sharing articles with friends. In this way, they become more connected to society due to magazines but not as much as teenagers might be.

Magazines, in a sense, are archives of information that can be stored for as long as the magazine is held together. Just by looking back on an issue of Seventeen from the past, a reader can see the changes in society over the years. What was trendy in 2004 is very different from what is currently “in.” Different clothes were socially acceptable at different times. Different free time activities were viewed as fun. In this way, magazines reflect the society in the time period it was published. This same idea is portrayed in magazines that are made for grandparents. Looking back at an old issue of Good Housekeeping allows someone to learn about what health tips were thought of as most reliable at the time, certain housing trends that were exceptionally stylish, or what the most popular dishes to cook were. Again, the change in the information found in these magazines reflects how society has changed over time, becoming more knowledgeable on many topics. By creating this archive that is available to people decades later, a community within the audience is created. There is a sense of understanding and closeness to those who are able to reminisce from magazines and have memories from those times. In her book, An Archive of Feeling, Ann Cvetkovich includes this idea of the importance of being able to look back on an artifact. These magazines acting as “cultural artifacts” describe culture at the time as a specific “way of life” (Cvetkovich 9). The way of life represents what information was important to share to the public at the time.

The main difference between magazines made for teenagers and those made for grandparents lies within the content. A popular celebrity is more likely to be found in a pre-teen or teen magazine, while a gardening tip is more likely to be found in a housekeeping or magazine for grandparents. Magazines for grandparents have a large focus on families, while magazines for teenagers tend to stay away from this and other important life topics like school. This means reading magazines for teenagers becomes more of a leisurely activity to get away from the stresses of daily life, while magazines for grandparents include ideas they could incorporate into their daily lives. This difference is emphasized in the distinction in the way the types of mediums are portrayed. Whether it’s due to the layout of the magazine, or the ways in which it helps the reader make a societal connection, each magazine can variously affect the emotions and lifestyle of the reader.

Works Cited

Cvetkovich, Ann. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2003. Print.

McLuhan, Marshall, and Quentin Fiore. The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. Corte Madera, CA: Gingko, 2001. Print.

“Top 10 Magazines for Teens.” Kidzworld. N.p., 27 Jan. 2012. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.

Zeiger, Stacy. “The Media Affects a Teen’s Body Image.” LoveToKnow. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.

Social Media: The Future of Communication

The world is much different than it used to be. Social media has changed many aspects of our lives. Communication possibilities have changed drastically. Take a look at the biggest social media websites. What do they do for you? How do they connect people? It’s obvious that social media has changed the way people communicate, but how exactly has it done this? Facebook is the largest social media website, and thus, it will be the main point of focus. Facebook was created in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, who was a student at Harvard University at the time. He went through many struggles in his creation of Facebook. These struggles included lawsuits, the loss of friends, and many hours of hard work. Mark Zuckerberg is a very intelligent man and he created a legacy for himself through his passion and strive to create something great. These were the components in which Facebook was built upon. Facebook is based in Menlo Park, California and today employs almost 10,000 individuals. It is, without doubt, the largest social media website in the world. Every single day, over 890 million people log on to Facebook, and there are about 1.4 billion people that use the site monthly. 1.2 billion of these users access Facebook through their phones. In addition, there are 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook everyday. Think about these numbers. There are about 7 billion people share this earth, and many of these people lack basic access to such a site. China, the most populated country in the world, has banned Facebook for the majority of its citizens. A company with this type of power has endless opportunities to change communication, and the world as a whole. Facebook’s mission states the desire “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” At the core, the idea is very simple. People want more ways to connect. Facebook fulfills these desires. Facebook, however, is much more than just a simple communication method. Facebook allows people to accomplish a large variety of tasks. At a basic level, people can communicate instantly. Through status updates and posts, people can see what their friends are doing at all times. Photos and videos also allow people to show others what they’ve been up to. Other things people can do include sharing their interests and other information on their profile page, playing games, and even connecting with celebrities or businesses. One of my favorite features of Facebook is the ease of planning events. People no longer have to call, text and email all their friends for events. With a few clicks, you can invite all of your friends to an event. This is great for things such as weddings, graduations and other parties/events. Look at Facebook in its entirety and you will find endless opportunities for entertainment. Facebook does much more than you may think. Ann Cvektovich’s An Archive of Feelings was an interesting read, for a variety of reasons. The book is about the story of women and their accounts of trauma; seen as an archive. The book is very powerful and resonates with many audiences, not just women that faced the same struggles and conflicts seen in the book. While looking at this “archive of feelings”, one may also look at how different technologies may be seen as an archive. I decided to look at others example of archives, including modern technology along with social media. It seems that a large number of technologies may be considered an archive in this day and age. Many technologies, in their nature, record activity over short and long periods of time, which may be considered an archive to some extent. In definition, an archive could be described as a history of information. Think about all the things or technologies that may fit this definition. Think about the things you use everyday. Look at simple things such as your computer. This is an accumulation of many of the works you have done throughout yours and its life. Going off of this, a phone works in the same way. Your phone has messages, pictures and conversations that have been created over its history, and a portion of your life. An archive I’m interested in speaking about is social media, and Facebook in specific. It’s not hard to see why Facebook is an archive. It is a collection of life events through media. Think about the day that you first got a Facebook, and how much of your life you can review since then. You can hop on Facebook and you have access to years of pictures and conversations. It’s crazy to think about this stuff. Look back and see how much you’ve changed. Some people put photos from their everyday lives on Facebook to be able to access it later in life. Years of people’s lives are captured on Facebook, and they will continue to be captured until Facebook is no longer functioning. In many ways, this is a great thing but it can also be sad to think about. Some people may get on Facebook and look back at pictures just be reminded of tragedies that occurred earlier in life. For example, it may bring memories of deaths in the family, or other moments you wish had gone uncaptured. On the other hand, some people may have had Facebook for half of their lives, and be able to look at pictures from when they were a child and recall how fast they grew up. Facebook is an archive, and as an archive it will evoke many thoughts and emotions. In addition to being an archive, Facebook can be looked at in other ways as well. Alone Together by Sherry Turkle takes an interesting viewpoint that allows us to see social media differently. The book explores the idea that as technology expands, there are more ways to be connected, networked, and stay together. However, while social media may connect us in more ways, we are often physically alone now more than ever. With Facebook, it’s almost as if people don’t even need to leave their home to talk to others, as all of their communication needs are already met. This is true power in technology, and this is where the idea of “alone together” plays in. We no longer need to communicate in person to be satisfied. In many cases, communication has changed to status updates, pictures, and likes. We can now communicate online in various ways for unlimited amounts of time. This is how communication has changed. Social media is highly addictive to a large number of users. Everybody feels the need to be seen, and everybody wants to fit in. Through Facebook, even people that aren’t the most outgoing can have hundreds of friends, and with one post all of these people can be connected to this individual. In some ways, this encourages them to stay at their computer and be sociable online, yet barely talk in real life. This is a tragedy. Another thing that is occurring is people are becoming obsessed with likes. Instagram is a perfect example of this. Many people spend time planning and taking perfect photos just so people online can like it, and therefore they fulfill a need for self-presentation. They want to show the best versions of themselves. This can be good in some ways. However, many of the effects are bad. For example, some of these likes may be from people that they have barely talked to in real life, and this is where a problem plays in. People are gaining positive reactions from others online, which just reinforces people to stay online and in-person interaction is, therefore, often limited. This is exactly how social media has changed people. There is no reason in the foreseeable future why social media would stop growing. Now that these possibilities are out, they will only expand. People will only get more connected online. For this reason, we must think about the fact that the world is changing. People are changing. This means that social media must change with them in order to remain successful. There are many ways that social media has changed, and it will continue to change with the times. Facebook is not just a website people will get on for a few minutes and leave. It’s not just a website that people get on to say hello to their friends. It’s a website where people spend hours straight simply looking at other people’s lives. Privacy is almost non-existent online. The time wasted on social media is one of the greatest outrages in our technological age. Social media will destroy us. It’s an innovational masterpiece, but it is also a social disaster in many ways. People are starting to care more about how they are seen online than they are in real life. We are in a world where people may care more about how many friends they have on Facebook rather than how many people they can truly confide in, have fun with, and with whom they can share meaningful conversations. The expanding of communication can be good, but it starts to get bad when it prevents people from real life experiences. This could be the way of the future, and that is not a future I want to be a part of. We have social media, but ask yourself, do we have a social world? Works Cited: “Facebook Passes 1.23 Billion Monthly Active Users.” TNW Network All Stories RSS. N.p., 29 Jan. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2015. <;. “Company Info | Facebook Newsroom.” Facebook Newsroom. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb.

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Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic Books, 2011. Print. Cvetkovich, Ann. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2003. Print.

Movies as a Medium: Jaws

As a medium, film is an extremely powerful tool, but how powerful can it be? Throughout the years there have been movies and television programs produced all over the world, and many of those productions have been viewed by millions of people. One of those movies was the 1975 film Jaws. Based on the 1974 novel of the same name, Jaws is the story of a small town called Amity with a killer shark in the water, and the journey of three men who aim to kill that shark. Those men are Brody, the town sheriff; Quint, a local fisherman; and Hooper, a scientist from the Oceanographic Institute. The release of Jaws had an enormous impact on American society, and it continues to have an impact today. This terrifying story completely altered peoples’ view of the ocean. Jaws had a great impact as a movie for several reasons. Jaws was a great thriller movie, which caused it to be viewed by millions of people. On top of this, at the time that Jaws was released, people did not know enough about sharks to know how completely exaggerated the movie was. In addition, Jaws managed to glorify shark fishing, causing a decrease in shark populations on the coast of the US.

As a movie, Jaws employs several techniques in order to make the story thrilling. Movies are able to utilize both sight and sound, making it easier to affect people emotionally. Jaws utilizes the sense of sound through its music. Everyone knows the main theme song of Jaws. Those two deep notes alternating back and forth, slowly at first, then speeding up and becoming more powerful. Next come a few high-pitched, irregular minor chords. The two underlying notes almost sound like a saw scraping back and forth against something. As a saw moves one direction it produces a different note than it does going the opposite direction. John Williams, the composer of the music featured in Jaws, said, “It had the effect of grinding away, coming at you, just as a shark would do, instinctual, relentless, unstoppable” (Andrews 60). The ostinato sounds habitual and mindless, just as the movie portrays the shark to be. On top of that, the irregular minor chords also are inherently frightening. Nonlinear sounds such as the minor chords and other high pitched sounds used in the song sound similar to the shriek of an infant or a baby animal, which causes humans to respond with negative emotions or fear (Blumstein, Bryant, and Kaye). Hearing those chords brings out a fear that is biologically ingrained in humans. Together the ostinato, the high-pitched sounds, and the minor chords successfully instill fear in the viewer.

In addition to sound, movies also are able to use film as a way of communication. The most important aspect of film is that it is able to tell a story in a way one picture alone never could. They are able to show how a situation changes over time. Jaws uses several useful tools to make the film more frightening.  The first is the use of the dark. The dark is something that people naturally fear. “There are good reasons to have an instinctive fear of the dark. In our history, before civilization, the world was a scary place. There were many predators that hunted at night. In a very real sense, there were monsters out there. The world in which our ancestors lived was perilous” (“The Basics of Evolution”). This is why many of the scenes in Jaws, like the opening scene where the first victim goes swimming, take place during the night. In addition, there is less visibility in the dark. The viewer may not know right away where the shark is located, and therefore they cannot tell whether or not the characters are safe. This makes the night scenes more suspenseful.

Another technique in Jaws that creates suspense is how the attacks are timed. When the shark is on its way, the audience is aware: however, they do not know who the shark will take. Much of the suspense in the movie is built that way. In the scene where the shark arrives in the pond where Brody’s son is swimming, the audience knows that the shark is going there, and they also know that Brody’s son is in the water. Despite this, the audience must wait several minutes before finding out the fate of the boy. These types of scenes use the extended amount of time to make the audience feel fear for the characters involved. At the same time, the film also uses the opposite as a means to shock the audience. When Brody, Hooper, and Quint are hunting the shark, there is a scene where Brody is standing by the edge of the boat, when suddenly the shark jumps out of the water just next to him. Since there is no warning before this happens, it successfully shocks the audience. Those types of sudden movements as well as suspenseful scenes are part of the reason Jaws was so successful as a thriller.

While the music and the film itself are both important, the way the music interacts with the film is also important. The most important feature of movies as a medium is the fact that with movies, sound and film can work together to produce a certain effect. The music and images in Jaws are a very successful example of that. In the movie, the theme music was very specifically used as a signal to let the audience know that the shark is present. Each time that the shark was coming, the theme music played. This was used to give certain clues during the movie. For example, in the scene where two boys try to create panic on the beach using a cardboard shark fin, the theme music does not play. Because the viewer expects the music to accompany the fin, it instills a sense of curiosity in the viewer. Later on in the film, when the three men are in the boat with the shark swimming around below, the music does not need to play because the shark is already known to be present, which makes it that much more of a shock when the shark does jump out of the water (John Williams Talks about ‘Jaws’). It is in that way that the visual aspects of the movie and the music along with it can work together to create a suspenseful film.

In order to make the story a little more interesting, there were a few not so subtle exaggerations in Jaws. To start, the shark in Jaws is a great white, and it is 25 feet long. That is extremely large for a great white, since the average size of a female is 16 feet, while the average size of a male is only 12 feet. On top of that, the shark in the movie is incredibly strong. It manages to break into a shark cage by ramming its face into the bars, and it also is able to swim deep below the surface of the water after multiple barrels have been attached to it. Beyond that, the shark is constantly making an effort to attack people throughout the movie, as well as actually swallowing human flesh. The fact of the matter is that humans are not on the menu for great white sharks. Great whites have taste buds, so they usually take a test bite of something, taste it to see if it’s a good meal, and if it does not like the taste, it will spit it back out and move on (“Taste”).  This is what makes the attacks in Jaws so unusual. In the movie, the people who are attacked are killed immediately and eaten by the shark, while in reality, people typically die of blood loss after the attack. In addition, a great white would not be hunting humans. The movie features a shark that is actively trying to break into a shark cage to eat a man and jumping onto the back of a boat to eat people. This is a ridiculous idea. A shark does not have the capacity to work towards a revenge against its hunters in that way.

In 1975, people knew very little about sharks. To them, what was shown in Jaws was realistic or even a decent representation of what sharks are. Because of the fact that people had little or no exposure to sharks, this movie played a big role in affecting the way people look at sharks.  To fully understand how Jaws has affected society, it is helpful to view it as an archive of feelings, a concept from Ann Cvetkovich’s An Archive of Feelings. While Jaws is a fictional film, it still remains a part of the archive of feelings on sharks as a species. This movie documents a time where sharks were viewed as monsters. “Although sharks certainly have a fearsome reputation nowadays, incredibly, ‘at the turn of the 20th century, there was this perception that sharks had never attacked a human being,’ said George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research in Gainesville. ‘There was even a reward offered if someone could prove they were bitten by a shark — money that was never collected’” (Burgess LiveScience). It was not until the 20th century that shark accidents started becoming common, and over time they have become more and more common. This is due to the fact that each year, not only are there more people in the ocean, but they are also spending more time in the ocean. Another piece of the shark archive is the information collected about the Jersey shore shark accidents of 1916. Although Peter Benchley, the author of the Jaws novel, denies the connection, the accidents that occurred in 1916 are the only series of accidents that bear any resemblance to the accidents portrayed in Jaws (“Corrections”). During that series of accidents, five people were injured, and four of those people died. This was the only documented occurrence of a series of shark accidents, and it is the only series of accidents similar to those portrayed in Jaws.

It was during those 1916 accidents that negative language surrounding sharks began to appear. That language was very similar to the language used in Jaws and it continues to be used by much of the population today. When talking about racism, Cvetkovich said, “Everyday forms of racism, many of which are institutional or casual and thus don’t always appear visible except to those who are attuned to them, are among the effects of longer histories of racial trauma” (6). While people’s feelings towards sharks are not the same as racism, it is very similar. There is an underlying hate that causes people to talk about sharks the way they do. Newspapers of the time as well as the Jaws movie call sharks “man-eaters.” The phrase “shark infested water” is also a common phrase despite the fact that the ocean is the natural habitat of the shark. People also frequently use the phrase “shark attack” even when no one was injured. “…our research showed that 20 percent of reported shark attacks in the Australian state of New South Wales did not involve any injury to the bather” (Neff). While this type of language is used out of fear and desire to grab attention, it results in a systematic oppression of an entire species.

While the movie initially caused a fear of sharks, it ended up having a more complicated effect than that. Another initial effect that it had was that it caused more people to go fishing for sharks. “…what happened when the book and the movie Jaws came out in the 1970s. It spawned a huge upswing in recreational fishing for sharks with fishing tournaments. There was this collective testosterone rush that occurred on the East Coast of the United States following those events because every guy wanted to go out and catch a shark, have his picture taken with his foot on the head of a shark and have a shark jaw hanging up in his house” (Burgess Smithsonian). This was a serious contribution to the overfishing of sharks in the late 70’s and 80’s. It is estimated that between 20-100 million sharks are killed by humans each year. After the shark population was sufficiently damaged, scientists realized that sharks are a very important part of the underwater ecosystem. Because of this combined with society’s newfound interest in sharks, funding for shark research increased dramatically. Before, there was no funding for sharks because they were viewed only as pests that eat the fish that fishermen wanted to catch. Now, much more is known about sharks, and public interest in sharks remains strong. This interest is the reason that there are things like Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, and that there have been more than 50 shark movies released since Jaws.

After the release of Jaws, shark populations off the coast of the US took a big hit, and sharks continue to suffer at human hands. In addition, funding for shark research has increased, and public interest in sharks has increased. These have been the result of only one movie. Jaws was an amazing thriller movie, and it is a classic, but no one could have known what a large effect that it would have on the world. This just goes to show that movies are an incredibly powerful tool that can shape the way people view the world.

Works Cited

Andrews, Nigel. Nigel Andrews on Jaws. New York: Bloomsbury Pub., 1999. Print.

“The Basics of Evolution.” Indiana University. Indiana University, 15 Jan. 2009. Web. 2 Mar. 2015. <>.

Blumstein, D. T., G. A. Bryant, and P. Kaye. “The Sound of Arousal in Music Is Context-dependent.” Biology Letters 8.5 (2012): 744-47. Web.

Burgess, George, Interviewed by Charles Q. Choi. “How ‘Jaws’ Forever Changed Our View of Great White Sharks.” LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 20 June 2010. Web. 02 Mar. 2015.

Burgess, George, Interviewed by Megan Gambino. “The Shark Attacks That Were the Inspiration for Jaws.” Smithsonian. Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Aug. 2012. Web. 03 Mar. 2015. <;.

“Corrections.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 07 Sept. 2001. Web. 02 Mar. 2015. <;.

Cvetkovich, Ann. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2003. Print.

“John Williams Talks about ‘Jaws'” YouTube. YouTube, 26 Apr. 2011. Web. 03 Mar. 2015. <;.

Neff, Christopher. Interviewed by Emily Shenk. “How Should We Respond When Humans and Sharks Collide?” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 04 July 2013. Web. 02 Mar. 2015.

“Taste.” The Shark Trust. The Shark Trust, n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2015. <;.

Scanning the Horizon

Medical practices have evolved rapidly over the past century, and with each development, imagining the next medical technology becomes a challenge. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is one of those technologies, elevating itself as a premier tool for research and clinical care. But this complicated machine brings to the table more than just cool images of the anatomy and physiology of the human body–it allows physicians and patients to interact at a whole other level. But even that is not the entire story. Is MRI, as it is utilized in this immediate era, being held back from its ultimate potential? This life-saving technology could possibly be preventing humans from moving forward in preventative medicine. One thing is certain: MRI will be the next step in the future of medicine, and whether or not it is the masses that control this technology rather than the healthcare system, remains to be seen.

A little background on how an MRI machine works would be helpful in understanding the technology as it pertains to its form of media. An MRI can be thought of as an enormous magnet. The magnets within the machine create a magnetic field around the area of the body that is to be scanned. The majority of the human body is made up of water, and in each water molecule are two hydrogen atoms. So when the magnets create the magnetic field, this causes the hydrogen atoms to emit a radio frequency signal. The type of tissue in which the water molecule resides determines the frequency and length of the signal emitted by the hydrogen atoms. A scanner in the MRI to create a three-dimensional image then records this signal (Gould).

The ability to produce a detailed three-dimensional image of any part of the human body is valuable for both researchers and health-care providers. For neuroscientists doing research, a common practice is to couple MRI with radioactive tagging and record the brain’s reaction to different activities. In doing this, researchers are able to see what parts of the brain “light up” when performing different activities, like watching a scary movie or listening to a romantic novel.

But what truly displays the artifact politics of MRI is its use in a clinical setting. Langdon Winner talks about technologies having politics, either directly or indirectly, in his essay, Do Artifacts have Politics? The idea that technology can change how humans interact and display a political system can be applied to MRI.

The physician-patient interaction is a critical cog in the health-care experience, second only to the actual treatment of whatever is ailing a patient. It is important that a patient feels understood and also understands what is causing a condition that produces discomfort. When a doctor asks a plethora of standardized questions designed for efficiency and proceeds to run multiple tests, a patient can feel out of the loop. The lack of communication between a physician and patient can cause a rift that leads to misunderstanding. The patient does not feel important, but rather, like another case number in a file.

MRI can take away some of the magic, mystique, or general “coldness” that can be felt during a trip to see a health-care professional. Because MRI is non-intrusive, it is safer and less threatening than most exploratory surgeries or blood tests, while still capable of gaining more insight than those conventional methods. Not only that, but because MRI produces such high-resolution images, it is a simple task for a physician to include a patient in reviewing an MRI. That alone is enough to create a dialogue and increase patient-physician communication, enhancing patient understanding. By including a patient in the health-care process, the patient-physician relationship is able to grow and become a positive interaction that may allow a more advanced healing process.

Another feature of MRI that provides a stepping-stone forward in health-care relationships is the ability to supply an answer. Most patients who receive an MRI scan have been struggling with an unresolved condition that is unknown despite other testing methods. When a patient is shown, slice-by-slice, what has been causing a chronic pain or discomfort, a physician is able to provide comfort in providing an answer. A patient is finally able to see for himself what is going on inside the body, producing a constructive relationship of trust with the health-care provider.

On the flip side, however, the line between constructive and destructive is a fine one. These scans can just as easily create a destructive relationship between a physician and patient through the over-reliance on medical practices. Nothing is perfect, including medical procedures, and that same mystique that surrounds health-care can set high expectations on a physician who orders an MRI. When a patient pays the exorbitant price for an MRI, satisfactory results are expected. MRI may provide an answer, but that is not the same thing as a solution. The cause of pain may be discovered, but a physician still may not be able to completely solve the condition. This can cause frustration towards health-care providers, even when the real issue is that humans have much to learn about the practice of medicine.

This whole process of taking an MRI scan takes minimal time, sometimes as little as 20 minutes. But in the process, an MRI produces a magnetic field measured at approximately 1.5 Teslas, which is 30,000 times greater than the magnetic field felt on the surface of the earth. This requires expensive raw materials and up-keep of the machine. The high cost is reflected on the bills of the patients who require the services of an MRI scan, simultaneously deterring doctors from prescribing the procedure to patients who may not be able to afford the steep price tag. The median price of an MRI before insurance coverage was about $1,100, as of 2014 (Glover). More people require the use of MRI than there are health care professionals who can operate and interpret MRI scans. Because there are essentially a few select individuals who “control” the technology of MRI, this could be described as an authoritarian type of technology.

The power of the technology rests in the hands of health care professionals, while patients depend on these providers to prescribe and execute scans. Of course, this is understandable, because the amount of skill and training that goes in to the entire process is just as important as the technology itself. Very few individuals without medical training would be able to perform scans of their own bodies and then analyze those scans for diagnoses.

The technology in MRI having authoritarian roots leads to an ethical issue, nonetheless. MRI serves as a microcosm for healthcare and the issue of availability of healthcare to all people. Like the provision of healthcare, MRI scans can be costly to the consumer, and some insurance companies may not cover the procedure.

This reality is frustrating for many. While MRI can provide information about an existing injury or medical condition that is causing discomfort for an individual, MRI can also be utilized to preemptively detect cancer tumors that are too small for traditional methods of screening to detect. Some forms of breast cancer are so aggressive, that by the time a mammogram detects a tumor, it is often too late.

Early detection is the key for most diseases, and MRI provides that next big step in preventative medicine. We need to look ahead, into the horizon–if this medical procedure could become a basic commodity at physicals and other check-ups, it would transform human life. The true potential of MRI will be achieved when the advanced technology works in harmony with the increased patient/physician interaction. MRI needs to work for the physician, and the physician for the patient. The answer to preventative medicine may not lie in discovering new, more advanced technologies, but maybe in finding methods that allow us to produce and operate our current technologies in such a manner that the general population has access to the numerous health benefits.

Works Cited

Gould, Todd. “How MRI Works.” Howstuffworks. 1 Jan. 2014. Web.


Glover, Lacie. “How Much Does an MRI Cost?” Nerdwallet. 1 May 2014. Web. 3 Mar. 2015.


Winner, Langdon. Do Artifacts Have Politics? 1986.

Radio as a Medium: Strengthening the Power of Sound

In a world of ever-changing technological advancements, the radio is one of the few forms of media that has persisted. When the radio initially became popular among typical home consumers in the 1920’s, it was a cutting-edge device. Before the age of television, social media, and the Internet, the radio brought mass media into the home. News, politics, and other information was now available and easily dispersed through a network of radios and broadcasting stations. Rather than replacing or building on an outdated technology, like many new forms do today, the radio was the first of its kind and provided a service that many people did not realize they needed.

As one of the original forms of mass media, the radio was used for widespread dissemination of news, music, and other entertainment. It became the first link between American households and breaking news. The radio was powerful in that it created an expansive network through which information could easily be directed to nearly every home. Although advancing technology has shaped it over the years, the radio remains one of the most “traditional” mediums. In Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage, forms of media are analyzed based on their superior importance over the actual content of a particular medium. The radio as a medium of information falls into many of the descriptions that McLuhan depicts: it has the unique ability to strengthen the power of sound, create a “global village,” and serve as an intimate medium.

Today’s society is heavily focused on visual forms of media. Computers, television, and smart phones, among other devices, create an environment in which people are incessantly looking at a screen. The radio is one of the few remaining mediums that continues to rely exclusively on the sense of hearing. The notion that auditory mediums are perceived differently and have a varying effect on social interactions has long been studied. In McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage, he puts much emphasis on the role of a written language as a way of creating a dependence on the visual. He writes that “Until writing was invented, men lived in acoustic space: boundless . . . in the world of emotion.” Prior to a written language, thought was expressed solely through sound. With the introduction of written language, however, societies became reliant upon images (letters and words) to portray their thoughts and opinions. It is easy to observe how this effect has continued to evolve; with the myriad textual mediums available today, like email, text messages, and social media, the need to talk and listen is almost obsolete.

The radio is unique in that it attempts to combat this modern reliance on visual communication. Rather than provide pictures or images that allow the user to passively absorb the information, the radio requires active listening. This is true for many forms of auditory media. Ancient civilizations relied on oral stories to be accurately remembered in order to preserve their history and traditions. These ancestral stories had no way of being permanently recorded, so active and effective listening was key. The radio reflects this notion by requiring the listener to pay more attention to the content being broadcast. People tend to have a better understanding of what they are hearing and retain more of the information being played over a radio than through more visual forms, such as television. This lends the radio to serve as a more successful method of dispersing news and other important information. By being broadcast over the radio, breaking news and vital updates are more likely to be disseminated among the population in a prompt manner, especially since the information typically requires less processing, recording, and other intermediaries than in television, for example. Additionally, a listener is required to be more dynamically engaged with the material presented. This creates a greater commitment to the information being broadcast, as the other senses are stimulated aside from simply visualization. Generally, people feel more connected to something that they understand and to which they can attach a different sense.

Another significant aspect of radio’s auditory form specifically lies in its absence of a visual feature. Listening to the radio causes the user to create a mental image of what is being heard, which results in every listener having a different “picture” of the broadcast. As was noted in the article “Radio: The Intimate Medium” by Lou Orfanella, “Sound, imaginatively used, stimulated the listener to create in his or her mind a picture. . . . Every listener ‘saw’ a different show, but each show was perfect.” Radio’s singular sensory use allows the other senses to fill in with a person’s own imaginative observations.

This capability is similarly analyzed by McLuhan in his book Understanding Media, in which he classifies various mediums as either “hot” or “cool.” He describes a “hot” medium as one which “offers an auditory image of high resolution.” This means that media categorized as “hot” deliver a greater amount of information in a way that further stimulates the sense in question, in the case of radio, hearing. In contrast, a “cool” medium creates a low-definition image which requires the other senses to be more participatory in order to effectively retain the medium’s message. Because the radio is “hot,” a listener is subject to a heightened sense of active hearing as this particular sense is stimulated. This is distinct from the “cool” sensory process of watching television, for example, in which other senses must strengthen to compensate for the low-resolution image, ultimately creating a different perception of the content by way of a different medium.

In addition to the many auditory aspects of the radio, it can also be analyzed based on its social effects and interactions. Advanced forms of technology have brought the world together and intertwined the concerns and relations of people from all over the globe. McLuhan’s reference to the “global village” emphasizes how modern media allows humans to live in “a simultaneous happening.” The close concerns within one’s own family or small community, which were once the sole focus, are greatly expanding; the issues and happenings of the entire population are now brought forth through global media. It is commonly felt that there is also a new responsibility to solve such problems or take part in the issues of which we are made aware. The radio, as one of the first forms of mass media, has played an influential role in contributing to this “global village” effect. As McLuhan describes in Understanding Media, “Anybody is willing to concede that radio provides a kind of speed-up of information that . . . creates village tastes for gossip, rumor, and personal malice.” McLuhan is attempting to explain how the radio is designed to accelerate the dispersion of news, information, and even rumors.

In again referencing McLuhan’s infamous assertion that “the medium is the message,” it is important to recognize that the radio is more significant in its performance as a medium than in its actual content. According to Orfanella in “Radio: The Intimate Medium,” the radio broadcast serves as a reflection of society; “We are not the poetry, we are the amplification of the poetry.” As a medium, the radio reflects society by portraying the important news and even pop culture of the current time. Listeners of the radio may even feel a certain nostalgia when remembering noteworthy moments or eras that focused around a broadcast. A memory produced from a top-ten song that was repeatedly played, or the vivid recollection of first hearing tragic news, could all be linked to the radio. This is especially true for older generations that experienced the radio during its cutting-edge era and consequently have a greater appreciation for it as a form of media. The radio as a medium allows us to retain certain aspects of society and culture simply by listening and being entertained.

The radio is often referred to as the “intimate medium” for its exceptional ability to provide a private listening experience unlike many other media forms. Since its original conception, the radio has taken liberty in diversifying its broadcasts and catering to numerous different populations through a wide variety of stations. Nearly every town, big or small, has a radio station that tailors its broadcasts to the local preferences. Consequently, listeners are offered a more personalized radio experience based on interests, music tastes, and other factors. Although still offering seemingly less variety than other online music streaming services, the radio has made considerable progress in diversification given its widespread use and easy availability.

There is also a sense of immediacy that goes along with listening to the radio. Unlike many other mediums, the radio is direct; the voice of the broadcaster emitted from a radio is coming straight from a studio and in real time. This eliminates the “fake” sensation that comes with pre-recorded music or television shows. It also makes listeners more susceptible to connecting with a certain radio station or broadcaster. The radio is often listened to at regular times and specific stations. For example, someone may listen to the same broadcaster on the same morning radio show every day on the commute to work or class. This repetition creates a sort of “bond” between the listener and host, especially since the immediacy of the radio gives a feeling of a private conversation.

Throughout the entire lifespan of the radio, its sole purpose has been to distribute news over wide areas in a quick manner. The exclusive thing about the radio is its ability to create a sense of community based on what it is broadcasting. By sparking a conversation or aiding discussion in a particular pertinent topic, the radio often creates a sense of unity rather than alienation by technology. Additionally, by focusing on only the auditory sense, the radio acts in a way that strengthens the power of sound and encourages listeners to participate in active hearing. As a result, each user of the radio is provided with a “perfect” image of the presented material. The radio will continue to live on as a medium that effectively transforms the way people receive and interpret information through sound.

Works Cited

Giannara, Giannakoulopoulos, and Evenis. “Audio on Demand: Radio’s Future Format and its Impact on the Communication Procedure,” Sounding Out 3 Conference, Sunderland 2006.

McLuhan, Marshall. The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. Corte Madera: Gingko Press Inc., 1967. Print.

McLuhan, Marshall. “Radio: The Tribal Drum.” AV Communication Review 12.2 (1964): 133-145. JSTOR. Web.

Orfanella, Lou. “Radio: The Intimate Medium.” The English Journal 87.1 (1998): 53-55. JSTOR. Web.

The Evolution of Political Music and the Protest Song

Music is a form of expression that has the potential to speak to people on a deeper level. In “The Medium is the Massage,” McLuhan discusses the evolution of communication. Though he says that media is “pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences,” he mentions sound as being the original sense, and how man used to live in an “acoustic space”. This connection to humanity’s roots is why music has been used throughout history to attempt to influence thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Music allows the artist to exert their influence and belief over society in a different way, yet still in a manner that is easily accessible. The “protest song” is one distinctive method through which artists transmit their personal beliefs to a large audience, but this method may take several forms. Despite a statement from Phil Ochs that the protest song is “a song that’s so specific that you cannot mistake it for shit,” the protest song has in fact taken several forms throughout its evolution over the last centuries, shaping both the society that the artist wishes to influence and the political commentary being made.

McLuhan discusses how different forms of media are separate extensions, and the different ways that protest message is delivered is an extension of the direct protest song. This forces us to think about what we are hearing, and to interpret and derive the truth from our initial perceptions. Political messages through music can be transmitted in several ways. Some messages may be forthright, with a direct message that is unmistakable. For example, Edwin Starr sang “War, huh, yeah/What is it good for/Absolutely Nothing.” Messages such as this one are clear and easily identify the song as a form of protest. However, other protest songs may be more metaphorical, using different situations to convey a message. Matt Kearney has a song, “Girl America” that uses a story of a girl to talk about the plight of the United States. Some songs may be considered protest songs purely based on their situational use. The civil rights movement’s most famous song was “We Shall Overcome”, a form of an anthem for the movement. However, the song was not written specifically for civil rights, rather, it has roots in much older spirituals. Finally, it is possible to find protest songs written in code.  This was often done as a way to reach the people without putting the message’s deliverer at risk. The coded message has been employed many times throughout history, one example can be found from the Carnation Revolution in Portugal, with the song “Grândola Vila Morena” being used as a signal to start the coup.

The origin of the protest song is difficult to pinpoint. Examples can be found in nearly every society, as most societies have gone through times of unrest throughout their history. One of the earliest examples of a protest song was from the opera Nabucco, by Verdi, in which one of the choruses was used as a rallying cry for the Italians to break free from Austrian and French domination. Political music has also been visible throughout the beginnings of the United States. In fact, the United States’ national anthem was written as a response to a battle that occurred during the war of 1812, and was used throughout newspapers at the time. (Though it wasn’t officially set to music for several years.) Later on, songs were seen in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. However, despite the continuing prevalence of political music, the tue heyday for the protest song came quite some time later in the United States, during the 1960s and 70s.

“When these ratios [of the senses] change, men change.” (McLuhan, 41) The 1960s and 70s brought a lot of change in the United States, with changing communication dynamics and globalization, as well as civil unrest. There was a semi-rebellion from the traditional values that were prevalent in the 1950s, and the Vietnam War, a war which many considered unnecessary and illegal, stirred up many emotions. The 1960s heralded the beginning of the “hippies”, and peace and anti-war sentiment was strong. For this reason, the protest song really began to catch on. Perhaps one of the most famous songs that advocates peace was released during this time, “Imagine”, by John Lennon. This song included lyrics explicitly promoting peaceful togetherness, such as “Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do/ Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too.” There were also several popular anti-war songs, such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan, with lyrics like “How many times must the cannonballs fly/ Before they’re forever banned?” Some of the most famous anti-war songs come from the 1960s and 70s, yet they are still relevant to many situations unfolding in the world today, which may be a result of our Western background, our tendency to view our environment as continuous. (McLuhan, 45)

However, as the Vietnam War drew to a close and American society began to focus on different issues, the protest song in the United States changed as well. We have experienced a “step-by step linear departmentalizing process”, to borrow from McLuhan’s description of our reaction to the alphabet. (McLuhan, 45) Today we see many different viewpoints, instead of the more liberal tone that previous songs have taken. The pro-patriotism and pro-military viewpoint is mostly seen today in country music, in songs such as “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” by Toby Keith, in which the artist includes pro-war lyrics such as “This big dog will fight/ When you rattle his cage/ And you’ll be sorry you messed with the U.S. of A./ ‘Cause we’ll put a boot in your ass/ It’s the American way.” American protest songs have also been more responsive to single events, rather than ongoing situations. For example, after Hurricane Katrina and 9/11, a number of songs were released that gave support or commented on the situation. Finally, social issues tend to be promoted more often. For example, a large issue seen in protests songs in the last decade has been marriage equality, with songs written both in support and against it. “Same Love” by Macklemore specifically came out in support of gay marriage, saying “A certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all/ But it’s a damn good place to start.” In contrast, many other hip-hop songs have contained anti-gay slurs, with Eminem receiving a lot of criticism. However, with protest songs, as society changes their prevalence changes as well. They may fall in and out of vogue as different issues take center stage. In the United States, it may even be possible to say that the true protest song no longer exists. However, this decline domestically does not translate to a decline internationally. One center of political turmoil throughout the past century has been Latin America.

The Latin American protest song has roots as deep as they are diverse, as does the protest song in the United States. However, one key difference is its continuity, without so much compartmentalization that has occurred in the United States. NPR has discussed this prevalence of political music in Latin American culture, and how it has been an art.The songs have taken new forms over the past few decades, changing themes from the civil wars and brutal dictators, to the need for more education, the prevalence of drug violence, and political status of different countries.

The deeper roots for Latin American protest music is based in the 1950s and 60s, similar to the United States. Much of the music came from Cuba and Mexico, protesting brutal regimes, and the need for revolution. In Cuba, Fidel and Guevara’s revolution didn’t end the music, rather, it helped the music to continue. With the United States’ help through initiatives such as the “War on Drugs”, civil unrest has been prolonged in those regions, and has spread to many others. Many bands today carry on the tradition of protest music; one in particular is Calle 13. A puerto rican duo, they sing about a vast variety of issues, those from the past and the present. In “Latinoamérica”, they discuss the need for unity among the South and Central American countries, and how it will be necessary to be powerful in the future. They also comment on newer problems faced in Latin America, such as the prevalence of drugs. Additionally, they sing about world issues, such as poverty and violence, as seen in their song “La Bala” (“The Bullet”) when they say “Hay poco dinero pero hay muchas balas” (“There is little money but there are a lot of bullets”). They also talk about the problems in society in general, as the talk about in “Los Idiotas”, saying “Pa’ separarnos con la arrogancia de que en el mundo somos el centro, mejor unificarnos con el idiota que todos llevamos dentro” (“In order to separate ourselves from the arrogance of that we are the center of the world, it is better to unite ourselves with the idiot we all carry inside”). Other artists attempt to appeal to the United States to deliver their messages, with Ricardo Arjona asking what life would be like if the Southern Hemisphere switched places with the United States. (Although, he comes to the conclusion that life might be pretty much the same.)

Ultimately, the protest song has been present throughout all of history, a “vagabundo”, following the changes. Wherever society is shifting, for better or worse, the protest song is present. Its presence can be explained by its primitive nature, despite its evolution. Our ears are the original sense, and those that use music as a form of politics speak to that sense, allowing us to connect with something from long ago, and adding another aspect of sensation and perception to our immediate environments.


Works Cited

Dylan, Bob. Blowin in the Wind. Columbia, 1962. MP3.

Garsd, Jasmine. “Es Un Monstruo Grande Y Pisa Fuerte: 12 Latin American Protest Songs.” NPR. NPR, 21 Dec. 2011. Web. 04 Mar. 2015. <;.

Keith, Toby. Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue the Angry American. DreamWorks Records Nashville, 2002. MP3.

Lennon, John. Imagine. Capitol, 1971. MP3.

Macklemore, and Mary Lambert. Same Love. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. 2012. MP3.

McLuhan, Marshall, Quentin Fiore, and Jerome Agel. The Medium Is the Massage. New York: Bantam, 1967. Print.

Perez Joglar, René. Latinoamérica. Calle 13. 2010. MP3.

Peréz Joglar, René. La Bala. Calle 13. 2010. MP3.

Peréz Joglar, René. Los Idiotas. Calle 13. 2014. MP3.

“Revolutionary Freedom Song Interrupts Parliamentary Debate.” The Portugal News. N.p., 16 Feb. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2015. <>.

Starr, Edwin. War. Brilliant/Digimode Entertainment, 1973. MP3.