All posts tagged: Society

Watch “Earthlings”

After years of avoidance, I finally watched Earthlings.  If you haven’t heard of it, Earthlings (dir. Shaun Monson, 2005) is an animal rights documentary that’s inspired countless viewers to re-think their relationship with animals, capitalism, and the world at large. The film, which is narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, is broken into five parts covering the use of animals as pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and test subjects. Even as someone who’s knowledgeable about animal abuse, I was utterly shocked by what I saw happening to the animals in this film. It’s certainly not easy to watch, but it’s necessary viewing for those who don’t wish to blindly engage in the exploitation of people and animals. I’d like to note that this film does compare the horrors of human slavery and genocide to our treatment of animals, which I don’t personally support. The oppression of humans and other animals is certainly connected, but I think it’s only appropriate to let the victims and ancestors of those atrocities draw such conclusions. Please watch Earthlings with an open mind and a willingness to acknowledge that our …

Representations of Urban Space & Masculinity in “Taxi Driver”

Representations of Urban Space & Masculinity in “Taxi Driver” & the Rise of the American Right-Wing Though Martin Scorsese’s 1976 psychological thriller, Taxi Driver, was released over 40 years ago, one could argue that many layers to the film’s harsh societal critiques are just as relevant in today’s sociopolitical climate. By exploring 1970s New York City through the perspective of Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), an intense man whose past we know little about other than that he served in the Vietnam War, Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schrader allow the audience to see the world through a particularly conservative lens. In the film, Bickle’s taxi cab works as a device that carries him through spaces he may not otherwise occupy. In this vehicle he’s shielded from that which fuels his fear and contempt. He sees, though might not necessarily be seen. He’s a vigilante on the edge of sanity, a sort of messiah figure who strives to clean up the city, though his racist and sexist rational for this metaphoric “clean up” is never stated …

Millennials & the Age of Social Media

For the first time in U.S. history it’s been predicted that the current crop of young-adults (also known as Generation Y or Millennials) won’t be more successful than their parents. As a middle class millennial gal, this information is especially concerning for myself and my peers. Isn’t doing as well as our parents (if not better) the epitome of the middle class, American dream? Our grandparents worked hard to give their children more than they had, and our parents went on to do the same. Some consider millennials to be a notorious group of entitled jerks (and many of us are), but I can’t help but feel affected by more complicated issues than generational narcissism, like the current demands of the economy, our broken education system, and the consumer-driven values of society at large. I also feel that the internet has propelled us into a bunch of “chronic comparers.” Though oftentimes unknowingly, we are constantly comparing ourselves to the online facades of others. Just one look at an Instagram feed and you can see images of your peers attending Harvard or vacationing in Hawaii. Online, everyone (including you and me) is …

The Politics of Waiting: Those Who Wait & Those Who Don’t

“…modern society might easily be divided into two classes: those who have to wait and those who don’t,” (Ambient Television, pg. 198). I recently discovered sociologist Barry Schwartz’s concept of those who wait and those who don’t in Ambient Television by Anna McCarthy. The idea clicked for me immediately. Some don’t have to wait at all (the famous and extremely wealthy), while others have to wait a bit, and some much, much longer. How often and for how long we have to wait is directly linked to our perceived social and economic status. There’s a price to pay in order to bypass lines (from organ transplant lists to Disneyland) and only the rich and well-to-do often have easy access to these necessities and luxuries. As McCarthy points out, “for many people – women, the poor, and others who occupy particularly disadvantaged positions within systems of social administration – the long wait is a time-consuming and inevitable requirement of basic access to goods and services in modern life,” (pg. 198). Lately I’ve noticed, in particular, that whenever I find myself in a doctor’s …

Get Off Your Phone

I’m certainly guilty of spending too much time looking at my phone in public, but I’ve decided to make a change. I’m no longer going to use my phone as a social crutch, scrolling through Twitter on the bus to avoid unwanted conversations or obsessively check my emails throughout the day to make sure I haven’t missed a new event to RSVP to. I’m going to engage with my surroundings and soak in everything I can. I’m going back to basics. Although this video wasn’t the inspiration for my change, and it’s definitely super cheesy, I think it puts into perspective just how often we are sharing space with others who are also staring at their phones. I’ve spent the past two weeks or so avoiding my phone in public, and it has honestly made me a happier person. I’ve been talking to strangers on the metro, people watching, and noticing more about my surroundings. When I see something interesting, I don’t necessarily pull out my phone to document it, though I do still share some stuff with friends and family on Snapchat. …