The Secret Life of the Brain

The Secret Life of the Brain

Exploring the brain website was pretty interesting. I am not much of a science person, but I found the brain tour to be interesting. Although I am not very knowledgeable in the science area, the development of the mind and psychological development is truly fascinating. According to the site, until a baby reaches age one, she uses her entire brain to respond to language. As she ages, language shifts to the left side of the brain in an attempt to actually learn the language. This makes me think of learning foreign languages. Many parents have their children learn foreign languages when they are younger because this will help them retain the information as their minds are still being molded. I often wish that my parents introduced French to me earlier in life. Luckily, I started learning French in kindergarten, not knowing the impact it would have on my life.

I would not say that viewing the brain anatomy has persuaded me to change any behaviors to improve brain function. Rather than teach me to change any behaviors, this 3D brain tour simply showed me how the different parts of the brain function. Clicking around the website on the different parts of the brain definitely helped me understand how the brain works. As I previously stated, I am not much of a science person, which means I am ignorant of much of the terminology. This tour used laymen’s terms and easy to understand phrasing so that anyone could understand how the brain functions.

While I would say that the brain tour itself does exemplify the idea that “the truth can be made visible,” the idea that optical illusions can still fool our brains concerns me. While I love trying to figure out optical illusions, it seems strange that we cannot trust our own eyesight. This idea seems to go back to the function of photography as a means of recording history, since both eyesight and brain function seems to deteriorate with age.

Pharmaceutical Advertisement: NuvaRing

This is an advertisement for the birth control alternative NuvaRing. It shows three seemingly young girls watching the old commercial for the product. NuvaRing is a vaginal ring as a replacement for everyday birth control pills. Women are intended to insert this ring for three weeks out of the month, take it out, and re-insert it after one week. As birth control does, there are no real symptoms to birth control. I know many women take birth control to regulate their menstrual cycles as well as help prevent pregnancy.

This advertisement shows NuvaRing as a huge convenience. The women in the commercial look seemingly young and therefore always on the go. This new form of birth control gives them the convenience of not having to remember the pill everywhere they go. Under the ideology of consumerism, women are meant to associate birth control with freedom and convenience. “It’s small and comfortable; plus you don’t have to take it every day.”

This product, like most medications, has certain side effects. NuvaRing can cause serious blood clots and high blood pressure, which are the most common side effects. Furthermore, there are also chances of heart attack and stroke while on this birth control. It has also been known to cause cancer to women’s reproductive organs. I am not sure that the costs outweigh the benefits. While women would no longer have to remember to take the pill every day, this convenience factor does not seem to balance out with the side effects. I mean, regular birth control is one pill per day. Is that not enough to prevent the extreme inconvenience (for some) of getting pregnant?

Saturday Night Live actually made a spoof of NuvaRing with NuvaBling, critically emphasizing this convenience factor by adding fashion.

SNL NuvaBling


Pastiche Exercise 1

This music video by Blur of their song “To the End” exemplifies and celebrates the Alain Resnais French film L’Année Dernière à Marienbad (1961). In the film, a man paces through the corridors of this giant, ornately decorated palace, in search of a woman. Although they seemed to have already met, the woman claims that she has never seen this man in her life. The entire film seems to aimlessly wonder around the lives of these two people while viewers try desperately to make sense of what actually happened last year at Marienbad.

Blur seems to have taken this idea to the next level; the video almost exactly imitates that of the film in its composition. Although maintaining the black and white contrasts of the original film, the lyrics suggest a different meaning of how these two unnamed characters came to know each other. The group sings about the rough patches of a relationship, but these two seemed to have made it to the end. This new work does not necessarily question the status of the original film, but it does actually give a suggested meaning to the plot of the film. In a way, this goes against the style of the nouveau roman, where the novel diverges from traditional literary genres. This film defies time and space in its camera style, stage design, lighting, and acting. I have watched the film many times, and I am still trying to make sense of it all.

The music video seems to only be celebrating the ideas brought about in the Resnais film, therefore constituting only a pastiche of the original work. Maintaining the same elements, the ornate decorations of the palace, and the same situation between two unnamed characters, Blur seems to be trying to find meaning into the original film and has interpreted sense through their video.

Pastiche Exercise 2

This site is a total revamping of past works mostly for comedic effect. The individual graphs from the site take an original idea and transform the elements to make something somewhat new and often humorous. For example, there is a Venn diagram with two sides labeled “Like Big Butts” and “Cannot Lie” respectfully. In a pastiche with parody style, the graph shows various rappers on the side with “Likes Big Butts,” emphasizing stereotypes for humor. On the other half, lies George Washington under the “Cannot Lie” section, accentuating his quote “I cannot tell a lie” with a play on words pun. Of course, in the middle, he who “Likes Big Butts” AND “Cannot Lie” is of course Sir Mix-A-Lot. This graph primarily uses puns and deconstructive language to verbally communicate the humor, both in celebration and satire, of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s only song.

Furthermore, in a graph titled “Where my knowledge of British culture comes from,” the majority comes from Doctor Who rather than a history class. Although I do not watch Doctor Who, I feel that this graph clearly accentuates our dependence on television, rather than trying to learn something in school.

The site does not necessarily question the status of the original works, but rather reworks them to entertain the viewers. Whether through deconstructive language or emphasizing stereotypes, this site seems to both celebrate and mock these past works. Unlike the music video that I previously found for exercise 1, this site seems much more satirical in its nature.

Culture Jamming

mcdonald's olympics culture jamming

When first searching for an advertisement to use, I searched all over Google. I searched through all the major companies, including Apple, Burger King, and Coca-Cola. I had originally planned to rework a Coke advertisement in the signature font. I was going to make the new ad say “Enjoy Diabetes.” Apparently I have some fascination with being healthy. Finally, I stumbled upon this McDonald’s advertisement. I was hesitant to actually try to revamp a McDonald’s ad in the beginning since I have seen many re-appropriations and parodies done on the company so often on the internet. I always thought the partnership between McDonald’s and the Olympics was an odd pairing, so this ad seemed perfect. I did find many McDonald’s advertisements transformed into various other situations before stumbling upon this specific image.  There were many regarding the unhealthy foods served at this restaurant. One in particular that I found very funny was an upside down version of the “M” so that it looks like a “W.” Underneath the letter, it says “Weight. I’m Gaining It.”

I chose this advertisement in particular because it explicitly shows the direct correlation between the fast food company and the Olympics. As previously mentioned, I find that the relationship between fast food and the Olympics just does not seem to connect in my mind. Olympic athletes train most of their lives to even be considered to play in the games. Their bodies cannot afford the calorie intake of a fast food restaurant. The original ad looks very similar to this one, with the McDonald’s logo in place of the yellow Olympic ring. With my culture jamming of this advertisement, I decided to continue the current ideas of McDonald’s unhealthiness.

The new advertisement shows the McDonald’s logo as somewhat taking over the rings. I used the paint program from Microsoft to quickly and efficiently enlarge the rings. The Olympic rings have thickened in size and cannot sustain the weight of such an enormous number of calories as connoted through the company’s logo. Although the rings are not perfectly symmetrical, I feel that this finished product has added to the connotative meaning. The deformed rings are analogous to our fast-paced society.  Americans today are always looking for that instant gratification; what is easier than a fast food drive thru? Our obesity census is through the roof, and just like these new, deformed Olympic rings, if we do not change our eating habits, we will not be able to sustain ourselves. As we consume more and more fast food, soon we, too, will become larger and more deformed as these new rings.

This new, “jammed” advertisement correlates directly to our food industry culture. Although fast food restaurants have recently tried promoting healthier options, such as salads and parfaits, in reality, people still consume hamburgers, French fries, and chicken (Mc) nuggets. My culture jam of McDonald’s hopes to show Americans that fast food is not healthy. McDonald’s is a major influence not only on adults who continuously consume the food, but also on children. Children cannot grow up in a world thinking that fast food will help them become an Olympic champion.