Commercials… More like Platforms for Inequality

The U.S. Army recently reeled a commercial regarding a diversity of career paths accepted into the institution. The drill sergeant asks every soldier why they’re there. Several answer “To be a Soldier, sir.” And then the last soldier says “To be a graphic artist, sir.”

The way the sergeant looks at him makes you think he’s about to yell at him and mock him, but he applauses the soldier’s career choice. Why is this even an issue? It presents graphic arts as a lower field, as something less than a soldier. It’s almost saying “You can join the army even if you want to be something as low as an artist.” It’s ridiculous. If they really wanted to convey diversity then they could have had all the soldiers answering with different career goals. It’s sad how men who want to be artists or models or something out of the socially created masculine gender are viewed as less prestigious.

Another commercial that’s been circulating on several channels is for DayQuil and NyQuil. There are two that play back to back. One dealing with a mother and the other a father. The father is “taking a sick day” and informs his boss, which is also his child. Then the announcer says “Dads don’t take sick days, dads take NyQuil.” The mom one is almost identical except “moms take DayQuil.” What does this say about the roles of motherhood and fatherhood? The dad comes across as proactive because he put in a sick day the day before he had to go into “work”. The mom tells her boss the day of, making her look less prepared and unprofessional. It also shows how women are expected to go, go, go all day long, no matter the circumstances. Yet, dads get to indulge in healing sleep before continuing with their tasks at hand. The last observation I found interesting was the father was “working” for a male child and the mother, a female child.

These commercials may not have any intentional underlying messages, but I don’t see the product, I see segregation and inequality.

Comparison of MOOCs both On and Offline

Two MOOCs, curious.com and edx.org, both provide online learning formats open to the public. Anyone who wants to learn, can. There aren’t any requirements or prerequisites.

Curious.com seems more focused on their teachers and concept founders, rather than their clientele compared to Edx.org. This shows a difference in value of learning material.

Edx.org, a non-profit institution allows for participants to learn free of charge, whereas Curious.com has some courses for free, they usually charge customers for certain classes.

In creating credibility, Edx.org works with universities and partners with other organizations to provide the best free education possible for those striving to learn.

Both courses allow consumers to complete on their own time, this can causes problems. A lot of people lose determination without deadlines, which in my opinion, makes physical offline classroom teaching a better option. Although some of the courses offered by curious.com are scholastically intriguing, many have to do with DIY projects and one-day learning objectives. For example, one class titled “How to Sew a Pair of Pants” isn’t as scholastically challenging as college-approved humanities, science, physics, etc. classes offered from Edx.com.

Overall, offline classes still seem more intellectually challenging and helpful in advancing careers. In general, only qualified professors are hired, students have to physically be present to learn, and all classes are certified. Also, relationships with professors can help in career building. A professor may know someone in a certain career field that a student strives toward. You don’t get that kind of personal, face-to-face relationship online. Those classes may not even be certified or acknowledged by future employers.

“Slacktivism” and Miley Cyrus’s: My Friend’s Place Campaign

Many social media users participate in what is known as “slacktivism”, a feel good collective action that produces little or no social change. I’ve participated in a few forms of this via Facebook. Most of the time I ignore these sometimes politically charged campaigns, but if it revolves around celebrities or feminism, I’m all in.

Take Miley Cyrus’s My Friend’s Place, for instance, which she publicly announced its launch at the 2014 VMA’s. The campaign’s purpose is to help the homeless youth in L.A. There was a contest done through Prizeo, where if you donated to the organization, you received special gifts and a chance to meet Cyrus, herself at her tour stop in Rio. I donated and then spread awareness via Facebook and Instagram.

To others, this may not be seen as a form of “slacktivism” since it didn’t really go viral. I rarely saw others post about it, besides those associated with Prizeo and Cyrus. The only disconnect between action and social change centers around participants’ reasons for donating (perks vs. philanthropy). Personally, I think the campaigns that aren’t well known, unlike the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, receive more money. It comes across as a trustworthy foundation if it’s on an official site, other than a trending Facebook activity. It also makes me feel more important when it’s not a part of a fad. Not everyone is donating to Cyrus’s organization. But I did. Because I support her and her efforts. It gives me an extra push because a lot of people look down on her, but she’s doing good in the world whether they see it or not.

A potential improvement to the stars efforts, would be to keep rerunning it on Prizeo. Once the winners were revealed, the contest stopped, and I’m sure donations dropped drastically. If she held a contest every month on Prizeo or through another medium, donations would pick back up and it may even create a steady flow of money for the homeless youth of L.A.

Tshirt from the Prizeo/Cyrus Campaign for My Friend's Place
Tshirt from the Prizeo/Cyrus Campaign for My Friend’s Place

MTV Reality Stars Tap into Underlying Perks… Including Each Other

At a quaint Starbucks, on a day when the weather was in the midst of transitioning from summer to fall, Sam Boyd, 28, from Music Television’s “Nitro Circus,” revealed his lifestyle transformation. He wore an autographed flat bill signed by 50 Cent, and his smile lacked a front tooth, both results of his MTV days. Boyd, like others with a past in reality television shows, such as Katie Saria from “Buckwild,” begin with average lives and enter into a whole new realm. Friends through MTV association, Boyd and Saria continue to utilize the available resources from their TV debuts and integrate them into their personal lives.

The two joined MTV in different ways. Boyd sought out a television company, where he and his friends using staff from related action sport shows, collaborated to make “Nitro Circus” a reality.

Boyd said, “I went from having to find jobs myself, to being paid to just ride (motocross).” In opposition, MTV sought out Saria, who was friends with a portion of the cast filmed for “Buckwild” in Sissonville, W. Va. Regardless of their individual paths, both came into contact with the reality show business. This reflects where they are today, in terms of advancements with origins at MTV.

A multitude of subcategories exist within this genre of reality television including: documentary, game show, and hidden camera. Although “Buckwild” and “Nitro Circus” differ in content, both provided the groundwork for career opportunities, networking, and personal goals. For instance, Boyd and Saria linked up, due to their presence on MTV. The two met through Twitter and remain in constant contact since. “I think we connected because he was on MTV 2 with “Nitro Circus Live” when I was on MTV. Twitter is how I connect with a lot of people,” Saria said about the beginnings of the friendship.

As Boyd’s career progresses, he cultivates a new primary focus: to develop a normal life. Post graduation from Murray State University, Boyd found employment through his family’s casino business, Boyd Gaming Corporation, where he works from home on nightlife marketing.

“I can’t ride motocross forever. My body is so worn out already, and I’ll only be 28 this year,” Boyd said referring to the multitude of injuries riding cost him. Concussions, broken bones, and missing teeth all accumulated from years of dirt bike riding. Boyd plans on settling down after traveling eight years on different tours, like the X Games and Nuclear Cowboys. In addition to tours, Boyd also appeared in movies and shows as an extra or stunt double, some of which include “Hot Rod,” “Walk the Line,” “Nitro Circus: The Movie,” MTV’s “Made,” and a Florida Georgia Line music video.

To participate in Buckwild, Saria, 23, took a semester off from college. With the cancellation of the show, Saria decided to use the time off to study abroad in Europe, where she became an au pair in Ourense, Spain. Meaning, she resided at a home where she took care of household chores and children, in exchange for room and board.

“A few girls who followed my Twitter account asked about my au pair experiences, and it inspired them to go abroad, too,” Saria said. “That’s one of the things I like most about the whole reality show experience.”

In Sept. of 2014, Saria earned a spot at a nonprofit organization, known as Herbalife, where she works with malnourished children worldwide. Saria graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in public relations and now lives in Los Angeles. Although her move to California occurred as an unplanned event, she always wanted to live there and appearing on MTV aided as preparation. “The money from the show helped out the most. That bump was enough to buy a car and move out to the city,” she said.

Saria also works for Central Casting, an organization based in Los Angeles, New York, and Louisiana dedicated to employing background actors. Around the same time she received the job offer from Herbalife, she was working on the set of “Ground Floor” and appeared on other shows as well, such as “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Switched at Birth,” and “Two Broke Girls”.

“I think as a stand alone quality, being on a reality TV show isn’t that attractive to employers,” Saria said. “But I’m trying to distinguish myself, and if I wanted to go into television or entertainment media, then it would be an added bonus that I had experience on a reality show.” She holds the ability to use or suppress her involvement with the show for her benefit depending on the situation.

Developing a complex networking system functions as a possible aid to both MTV cast members’ career paths. Boyd recalls this tool as the greatest outcome from “Nitro Circus.” “Being on MTV provided me with business contacts and contacts with people that are on other shows, even those that aren’t on MTV,” Boyd said. He now partakes in business partnerships, as well. Occasionally, companies will contact Boyd or his agent through Twitter and send him free products if he advertises for them in the form of “Tweets.” “I never wear the same pair of underwear twice,” Boyd said regarding one example of a promotional opportunity that provides him with excessive rewards. He receives benefits like these thanks to his professional dirt bike career aired on television.

Boyd also acquired celebrity connections, such as Pauly D. from “Jersey Shore” and cast members from all three “Teen Mom” franchises. “It’s a small family. Once you meet one person, you meet everybody,” he said regarding MTV. “Take Katie (Saria) from “Buckwild” for instance. She’s one of my good friends. I tell her about my girl problems. She’s the one that yells at me all the time,” Boyd said. He obtained a contact list full of celebrities that in addition to friendships, provides him with perks.

In contrast to the motocross daredevil, Saria withholds the use of her now enlarged contact list to receive incentives or advancements. “I don’t like networking or using people like that. Maybe down the road I will use those contacts, but for now I like doing things myself,” Saria said. Although, she still remains in contact with people she met through the show. For example, she connected with members of the camera crew and can contact them when needed for future career possibilities or other enticements. Nevertheless, she prefers to achieve her goals on her own terms.

Neither Boyd nor Saria feel famous post their MTV debuts. “I think it gave me a strange sense of confidence, because I was something to talk about and look up to for a few months,” Saria said. “But it was really brief, definitely not long enough to let it go to my head.” Boyd feels the same. Scarcely does someone recognize him walking down the street. Regardless of their fleeting fame, they utilized their MTV opportunities, through numerous connections, employment, and personal life goals. It goes to show reality television can exist as an outlet that provides average people with numerous resources.

Sam Boyd and I at Starbucks
Sam Boyd and I at Starbucks

Don’t Want to Wear Pants? Here’s this Season’s Leggings & Tights Styles

As demonstrated in Nicki Minaj’s newest hit “Anaconda”, popular culture currently obsesses over butts. UofL’s female population reflects this through the contemporary styles of leggings and tights, which accentuate that very feature.

Doug Evans, psychology major, supports the idea of societal influence on clothing trends. “They’re just part of our cultural climate right now, and there’s not much that can be done about it,” he said. “It’s not as if these leggings are completely see through, and they’re no more scandalous than a skimpy bathing suit (which just so happens to be culturally acceptable, as well).”

The photos above display an array of ways college-age students incorporate these “non-pants” into everyday outfits. Leggings are characteristically favored over tights for various reasons. One, they can be worn by themselves, whereas tights have to be covered at least to an extent. Two, They are typically less restricting than tights, and three, leggings are versatile; their appropriate for the gym, class, and other casual occasions.

“I love leggings!” Emerald Dunn, junior said. “They are comfortable, stretchable, cute, and versatile. It ranges from working out in a pair to going out at night and wearing them.”

When wearing tights and leggings interchangeably, it can result as a problem area, but if done right illustrates a modern fashion statement. For example, the picture to the far right exemplifies the style of tights under a long, men’s shirt.

“It’s not my favorite look, although I must admit I have seen several girls pull it off quite nicely when paired with the right sweater and boots. I like to wear tights under skirts. It’s much more chic,” Dayana Fuentes, junior in justice administration, said, describing how she uses tights in her own unique look.

So, if you’re unsure of what to wear during the fading fall months and upcoming cold winter days, using these pictures as a guide provides you with stylish options. Both comfy and voguish, leggings and tights provide an outlet for female students who wish to wear pants while not wearing actual pants.

Club Goin’ Up… On a Friday: Pauly D. DJ’s at Horseshoe on Halloween

Pauly Delvecchio returned to the Kentuckiana area for Halloween night at Southern Indiana’s Horseshoe Casino. Unable to attend his past appearances due to age, this time around I’d finally be eligible. Festively dressed as a fox, I anxiously awaited the soon to be unforgettable night outside Club Envy. Pictures were taken on a miniature version of “the red carpet” and then workers ushered the party-goers inside.

The showroom was set up to look like Club Envy with it’s beaded chandelier, go-go dancers, VIP tables, and vacant dance floor. Well, it was vacant, except for me. After waiting for hours, I was more than ready to get the party started. The opening DJ, with his face painted to resemble Day of the Dead, played the latest hits with his own personal twist. My five inch Gianni Bini heels securely fastened to my ankles led me across the dance floor as I danced out my anxiety.

Two hours passed and finally it was time for Pauly to enter the room. The beat began to escalate as his crew organized his set up. I kept dancing, but not as violently, eyes focused on the DJ booth. I waited and waited, and the beat kept going and getting faster and faster. I thought my heart would break out of my chest.

And then it happened.

THE Pauly D. entered the room, huge smile plastered to his face, ready to party. He spun the turn tables like he’d been doing it his entire life. Although his glimpses at the crowd were occasional, almost every time he did look down, our eyes met and the smile that followed will always remain in my memory. The reality TV star worked the crowd for about 2.5 fist-pump filled hours. Future Halloween nights’ will never compare to Oct. 31, 2014, when I entered a new realm, one where Pauly D. looks at me with a gleam in his eye and a fist in the air.