Category Archives: Everything

General

Homeland, The Next Hit T.V. Show

Last May, the serial drama 24, after eight seasons and 192 episodes, finally ended. The fact that Jack Bauer, the main character, managed to survive the hundreds of waves of terrorists thrown at him over a period of almost ten years may seem improbable. However, when each scene is looked at separately, it is evident that Jack Bauer and his team, save for some rare exceptions, did exactly what they needed to do.

With 24 finished, a new T.V. show has risen — Homeland. It is only in its first season, and the critics are giving thumbs ups.

Homeland is about a U.S. marine and presumed-dead prisoner of war who is discovered during a U.S. attack on a terrorist base. He is subsequently taken back to his home country, and renowned as a hero.

On the other side is an agent who is skeptical about the marine’s return. After receiving intel that “a prisoner has turned,” she assumes that the marine is the one referred to in the quote.

Years of captivity and torture can really impact the human brain — and Homeland shows just how much. That is primarily why the show is categorized under “psychological thriller” (though, it really shouldn’t). The premise, the plot, and the acting are all outstanding, but it is the show’s depiction of torture on the human mind that separates it from the other recent hot shows (Walking Dead, Broadwalk Empire, etc.). 24 or Homeland? That’s up to you!

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Late Night Gaming Banned in Korea

Several months ago, the South Korean government put into effect the “Shutdown Law,” which bans online gaming to all teenagers from 12 A.M. to 6 A.M. every night.

The law was introduced mainly by the Ministry of Gender Equality & Family, in an attempt to reduce game addiction among teenagers. Battle.net, Xbox Live, Playstation Network – all of these are now shut down, every night, in Korea.

However, several months have passed, and the law proves to be pretty useless. The law is easily circumventable – using an adult’s social security number when creating the account would immunize one from the law altogether.

In fact, the companies affected, such as Microsoft and Sony, do not support this law, as it affects a big portion of their audience. Not to mention that there is a great amount of single-player games that the teenagers can enjoy.

The law is useless and ineffective. The government regulating when children play video games is nothing short of a totalitarian action – “[totalitarian is defined as] of, denoting, relating to, or characteristic of a dictatorial one-party state that regulates every realm of life.”

Must-watch Television Shows!

The television year is divided into two parts — one from September through May, and the summer season.

With so many T.V. shows, running or not running, out there, we high schoolers (and teachers/staff) do not have enough time to watch them all. There is also that torturous week-long wait we must go through for the new episode to come out. So which ones should we watch? Which ones are capable of easing our pain from all the waiting?

Below is a list of what I believe are T.V. shows everyone must watch (or give a try at the very least).

In order from most family-friendly to least:

1) Modern Family

A unique show that just won the 2011 Primetime Emmy Award for Best Comedy, Modern Family features three families: a gay couple with an adopted child, an old widower married to a young Colombian supermodel divorcee with the wife’s son, and a “cool” dad and wife (daughter of old widower) with three uncontrollable children. Modern Family is the next big thing in comedy.

The family tree:

TV-PG (Parental guidance suggested)
12세 이상 시청가

Famous actors include: Ron Howard is narrator for the show

2) Arrested Development

Modern Family is the cure for those who have ADCS, or Arrested Development Cancellation Sickness. This show is structured almost exactly like Modern Family, and many argue that MF is a ripoff of AD. AD boasts an incredible, one-of-a-kind 9.7/10 average user rating on IMDB — even world-renowned shows have a hard time passing the 9.0 bar. The show is about the father of a wealthy family being imprisoned for company fraud, and the son who must take care of his family full of degenerates, each of whom plays an unforgettable role.

The family tree:

TV-14 (May be unsuitable for children under 14 years of age)
15세 이상 시청가

3) Breaking Bad

This alone will easily get anyone through the summer-fall T.V. drought. It is about a chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with cancer, and must make the most amount of money possible to give to his family because he only has a short time to live. Thus, the fourty-year old, dedicated family man, Walter White, begins his alternate life as a drug dealer. It has won multiple Best Drama Emmys, and the actors and their acting are superb.

One great thing about this show is that every episode begings where the previous one left off; better yet, every season begings where the previous one left off. Every episode and every season leaves you wanting for the next one to come out.

TV-14 (May be unsuitable for children under 14 years of age)
15세 이상 시청가

Famous actors include: Bryan Cranston (Malcolm’s dad from Malcolm in the Middle)

4) Dexter

Dexter features possibly the most interesting protagonist of a T.V. series, ever!  He is a classic vigilante: he works for the Miami police department, but in his spare time, he kills serial killers. Nobody knows about “the Dark Passenger” within him. He is a psychopath — successful psychopaths are difficult to spot, for they seem just like any other normal person. Season 6 premieres on October 2nd.

TV-MA (Mature audience – unsuitable for audiences under 17)
19세 이상 시청가

Famous actors include: Michael C. Hall (David Fisher from Six Feet Under)

5) The Wire

A fantastic, if not the best, HBO series — The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Game of Thrones, and Entourage are just some examples of other great HBO series. The Wire is set in Baltimore Maryland, and each season (there are five), unlike CSI and the hundreds of other crime series out there, revolves around one single investigation. I mean, those are the best, are they not? It is the most realistic depiction of city life that I have ever watched.

Be warned though, this show will take time to love. Every episode is an hour long, and this is a very slow-paced series. But that is what HBO intended — a ten hour long masterpiece, as opposed to ten hour-long average episodes.

TV-MA (Mature audience – unsuitable for audiences under 17)
19세 이상 시청가

Famous actors include: Lance Reddick (Phillip Broyles of Fringe)

The current state of the music industry

This is a research paper I wrote last year. I think it is relevant to my blog, so here it is!

Is the Music Industry Corrupt?


What is the single most viewed video on YouTube? Is it a video of a talented dancer? Or perhaps one of a cute baby? None of these are the answer, for the current single most viewed video of all time is Justin Bieber’s music video of the song, “Baby”, followed closely by Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” (“Most Viewed Videos”). Of the top five most viewed videos of all time, four of them are music videos — this is a strong indication of how popular music is in our world today. But why these music videos are at the top may raise some questions: Talent? Appearances? Nudity? The answers to these questions trace back to the music industry itself. In today’s unstable music business, creating a song and distributing it to be listened to and liked by the public is a controversial task because there are temptations to use corrupted means to increase the chance of a song becoming popular.

The music industry is a complicated one. In most cases, an artist either looks for a personal manager or hires engineers to record the music him/herself (MacQuarrie, Gu, Guerra, Corredor, Hill). In the first instance, the personal managers will try to get the artists signed to a record label company. In the second case, the artist personally takes his/her recorded music to a producer and then to a publisher (MacQuarrie, Gu, Guerra, Corredor, Hill). From then on, the recordings go through the manufacturers and distributors until the recordings finally reach the public.

But there are even more stakeholders in the business: lawyers, business managers, and for some, songwriters. With all these stakeholders, how much does the actual artist/band get paid? The answer is approximately a startling 2.3% from every 1000 dollars a song makes (Jefferson). That means if a song makes a million dollars, the artist gets paid approximately 23,000 dollars.

Mainstream music, defined as “belonging to or characteristic of a principal, dominant, or widely accepted group, movement, style, etc.,” is the key component of the music industry. It is mostly listened to by the younger generations, and criticized by previous generations. Of the many similarities among mainstream music, one is the music videos. To attract viewers, many mainstream music videos incorporate drugs, parties, and most commonly, half-naked women who often have no relation to the song content whatsoever. These videos negatively influence viewers, especially the younger ones, and provide a horrible depiction of women.

Lyrics is another way mainstream music attracts listeners. “Out of the 279 most popular songs in 2005, only 9 percent of pop songs had lyrics relating to drugs or alcohol. The number jumped to… 77 percent for rap songs” (Parker-Pope).

So why is it that these songs are more popular than others?

One reason is that some songs are played more than others on the radio, mainly due to the record labels and radio stations. The role of the record label in the music industry is to manufacture, distribute, and promote a particular recording. As is the case with many corporations, corruption is present in almost all major record labels. The main form of corruption is payola, or pay-to-play — “the act of a record label or other interested party paying a radio station to play a certain artist (either in cash or in goods)” (McDonald).  This means the more money you give to the radio station, the more times they will play your song. “The public does not get to hear artists whose labels can’t afford to pay off the DJ” (McDonald). Obviously, for the extremely rich record labels, payola is a great strategy, but it unfairly harms others in the business. An artist not promoted through payola may experience sales failures especially if he/she releases an album at the same time as does an artist under a label that engages in payola. Though illegal, payola still happens every day: “In 2005, Sony BMG, one of the world’s largest record labels, was forced to pay out $10 million in fines after the state of New York found the company guilty of engaging in payola” (McDonald).

Unfortunately, most people — primarily teenagers — only look at the surface of what they are watching/listening to, and don’t see the corruption behind all of it. The entire audience is being dumbed-down: more and more mainstream music requires less and less talent but more random swearing and more half-naked men and women. Mainstream music is now a competition of which artist can wear the most ridiculous outfit and make the most ridiculous music video. There is corruption in the royalties, corruption in the music videos, corruption in the lyrics, corruption in the major record labels, corruption in the radio. In other words, the music industry is corrupt.

Sources

Boehlert, Eric. “Pay for play.” Salon.com. 14 Mar. 2001. Web. 6 Sept. 2010. <http://dir.salon.com/ent/feature/2001/03/14/payola/index.html>.

Jefferson, Cord. “The Music Industry’s Funny Money.” The Root. Washingtonpost Newsweek Interactive, 6 July 2010. Web. 7 Sept. 2010. <http://www.theroot.com/views/how-much-do-you-musicians-really-make?page=0,1>.

Lamb, Bill. “Major Pop Record Labels: The Big Four.” About.com Top 40-Pop – Songs, Charts, Top 40 Reviews, Pop Music. The New York Times Company, Web. 7 Sept. 2010. <http://top40.about.com/od/popmusic101/tp/majorlabels.htm>.

MacQuarrie, Rebecca, Yixin Gu, Elaine Guerra, Nathalie Corredor, and William HIll. “Music CD Company Supply Chain.” Music CD Industry. Duke University, 6 Apr. 2000. Web. 3 Sept. 2010. <http://www.soc.duke.edu/~s142tm01/chain2.html>.

McDonald, Heather. “Payola: Influencing the Charts.” Music Careers – Music Industry Careers – Finding Music Business Careers. The New York Times Company, Web. 7 Sept. 2010. <http://musicians.about.com/od/musicindustrybasics/i/Payola.htm>.

“Most viewed Videos.” Youtube. 3 Sept. 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/charts/videos_views?t=a>

Parker-Pope, Tara. “Under the Influence of…Music?” Health and Wellness. The New York Times, 5 Feb. 2008. Web. 3 Sept. 2010. <http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/05/under-the-influence-ofmusic/>.

“Top 100 Music Hits, Top 100 Music Charts, Top 100 Songs & The Hot 100.” Billboard. Web. 3 Sept. 2010. <http://www.billboard.com/charts/hot-100#/charts/hot-100>.

Tyrangiel, Josh. “Auto-Tune: Why Pop Music Sounds Perfect.” TIME. 5 Feb. 2009. Web. 4 Sept. 2010. <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1877372,00.html>.

What YouTube Has Become

What has YouTube become?

Click image for enlargement!



 This. What YouTube has become is a(n) ___________.

Many years ago, YouTube was devoid of advertisements. Maybe not completely free of, but free enough of them that the average user could spend hours watching and exploring videos without noticing a single advertisement.

Those were the good times.

Now, it is near impossible to do so. No longer can I watch a YouTube video without my eyes and ears being exposed to the infestation that is YouTube advertisements.

I may not have the slightest inkling of how a company functions, but I do know that advertisements are one of YouTube’s main sources of revenue. I guess it was inevitable for this to happen, by which I am referring to a) advertisements before videos begin and b) huge advertisements on the main page.

I went onto YouTube (South Korea) this afternoon and was met with a huge photograph (and later video) of a woman with the maximum amount of cleavage possible. Did I accidentally type the URL of a pornography site by accident? I would not be surprised if I had.

The URL, however, read www.youtube.com.

This is a major trend in contemporary society. That is, an ongoing competition of inappropriateness — the more = the better. It is found in music, television, movies, advertisements, etc. But what can be done about this? Maybe one day, advertisements will only feature naked people, and people will walk around completely naked.

P.S. The woman’s name in the picture is Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Just in case.

Super-students: A Flawed Mindset

“Oh, you’re only taking TWO AP courses?!”

“Yeah, colleges like [insert extracurricular here] and [insert characteristic here]!”
“Uh oh, Collegeboard is not going to like that!”

These are only several of the many things I’ve heard students (my friends) say to each other. The high school I am attending is a private institution, and competition is extremely fierce. Every student works to make himself/herself stand out. To many of my friends, it is as if college is the final stage in life; get into a good college, and your life will unfold all by itself.

And here I see what I believe is a big problem: students force themselves, put themselves through rigorous, unnecessary studies and extracurriculars,  just so they will stand out to college admission officers.

They work towards becoming the super-student, who takes 13 AP courses, is President of eight different clubs,  volunteers at 21 different hospitals every week, goes on every single trip related to poverty, racism, or some contemporary world issue, etc. This, however, can actually go against you and your chances of admission. In fact, if you’ve never shown an interest for poverty in Africa, yet you go on trips to Sri Lanka to build houses, it looks pretty unconvincing (to the almighty and revered college admission officers).

So what’s so wrong  about being a super-student?

If you spread yourself out too thin, you will not have enough passion left to focus on the things that you truly love, and enjoy doing. There is so much more to life than college, so don’t torture yourself during high school. Rather than be average at 20 things, why not be great at two or three?

Imagine yourself as a super-student. Say that you are admitted into (insert prestige school here). You can now take off that deceitful coat that you have worn throughout your high school. No longer do you have to pretend you care for the impoverished children in Africa; no longer do you have to pretend you enjoy working in a hospital around old people. Now you may end your double life and resume your normal life as the person who you truly were (if you even remember).

What I’m saying is, do what you really enjoy. Don’t do something just for the sake of putting it on your resume. Don’t put yourself through the physical and mental torture required to take six APs, all the while playing in four varsity sports and managing five different clubs. Because, unless you really plan on pursuing a career involving some horrendous amalgamation of physics, economics, psychology, calculus, U.S. history, etc., let your high school experience be a more pleasurable one!

There’s always transferring colleges should you not get into the one you aimed for. Let’s not forget about Grad School, which is actually so much more important than your undergrad.

And of course, I am quite the unreliable author. I’m not the Harvard/Yale/Princeton-bound student. In fact, I write this speech in complete guilt, for I have enrolled in AP Biology this year, though I know I will NEVER pursue a science career (to be fair though, AP Biology was not my first choice).

Cue the angry mob!!

Review of Frank Portman’s “King Dork”

Rating: 4/5

For my summer reading assignment, rather than reading a deep, insightful book on world issues, I opted to read a more light and mindless book named King Dork by Frank Portman.

From the moment I skimmed the book list, I knew this was the book I was going to read. I looked it up and saw great things about the book, and so I dove into reading this book ready to be mesmerized.

I surfaced to the top after a good couple days, unsatisfied. The book has many startling problems – the portrayal of women and references to music of the late 20th century being the two biggest.

I feel that I was the perfect audience member for this book – which is the only reason why I gave this book four stars as opposed to two or three.

I am the same age as the narrator  (he is a high school sophomore), I listen to classic rock music almost exclusively (his inspirations are primarily The Who and The Sweets), I play guitar (he does too), and so on. My being able to relate to the narrator made this an enjoyable read for me.

However, many other readers may be offended or baffled by this book. Women will be offended by how they are portrayed, but I cannot go too into detail for spoiler reasons. Teenagers who are not into rock music of the 60s to 80s (which is a huge portion of the entire teenage population) will be confused by the music references.

The book is not all that bad though. There are some touching themes throughout the book; I consider the main one to be the developing relationship between the son and his stepfather. Development of social skills of an outcast is also a notable theme.

The readability of the book will completely depend on the age and gender of the reader. I myself enjoyed reading it, and recommend it to male teenagers primarily. Many females, I imagine, will throw away the book 50 pages in.