Modern Times Analysis

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            The first twenty minutes of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times shows the day of an industrial worker and his experiences in the factory. The main character gets overwhelmed with the stresses of the job and has a nervous breakdown. The film addresses and critiques the working conditions in industrial factories.

            The film begins with a herd of sheep walking that fades to a herd of men walking to a factory for work. From the get go, the film is critiquing the industrial labor industry by comparing animals to workers. This insinuates that factory workers are even treated similarly to animals. The boss of the factory is right away shown doing a puzzle and reading the newspaper in his spacious office. He flips through a camera feed to oversee the factory and then goes back to relaxing. The film then goes to a scene of the main character and two other men working extremely hard to keep up with a conveyor belt. This stark difference in the work being done by the boss versus his employees is a dig at the management style of industrial factors. The boss undoubtedly receives a much higher salary than the workers in the factory for less gruesome work. It is difficult to watch the workers repeat the same motions on the conveyor belt over and over. It is hard to imagine that the workers have to do that all day, every day. It is understandable that the main character has uncontrollable twitching motions even when he’s not working after repeating the movements for so long. The boss raises the speed of the machines without even checking to see how the workers are handling the current pace. The faster speed causes the already struggling workers have to push harder to keep up. Showing this scene criticizes the detached style of management in factories between the boss and employees. The feeding machine pitched to the boss is all about increasing production to beat competitors. If a lunch break can be eliminated then more work can be done during that time. The feeding machine also shows disconnect between the boss and his employees since the boss doesn’t care for the well being of the employees, just increasing production and profit. It is quite humorous that the boss would even consider the feeding machine. Just by looking at the machine it is ridiculous to think that someone could work while being strapped to it. But that is the whole point of the filmmakers, to show that factories will go to outrageous lengths to increase production while compromising the health of their workers. The boss allows the feeding machine to be tested on a worker, the main character. The machine completely malfunctions, but the boss doesn’t stop it and even still gives it a chance. He doesn’t care that his employee is being completely abused. Once he decides he doesn’t want the machine he just walks away without even acknowledging the employee. This scene also shows the boss’ disregard for the safety of his employees. After everything the main character went through he finally loses it. The stresses of keeping up with the conveyor belt for hours on end cause him to understandably go a bit crazy. The filmmakers show this mental breakdown to shine light on the terrible working conditions and the negative effects they have on workers in the industrial factory industry.

            Modern Times clearly shows the damaging factory industry in society. Workers are treated terribly, which causes mental and physical consequences to them. The film addresses this issue in an entertaining and comedic fashion.

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Major Assignment #3: Cultural Analysis

 

The Grace of Grey’s Anatomy

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            I wake up in the morning and remember it’s a Thursday. I silently do a little cheer knowing full and well what’s happening tonight. I go through the motions of the day just waiting for my favorite “me time”. I somehow make it through the classes I don’t really enjoy and the studying I surely hate. The minutes pass as they always do while it may feel slow. Dinner comes around and I am thankful for the only couple hours left on the clock. At 8:45 I get out the popcorn and start the popping in the microwave. I seriously cannot wait like a giddy child. I pour my movie theater style treat in a bowl, climb in bed, and press the power button. It’s finally time for Grey’s Anatomy! The sweet theme song plays and I instantly relax and cling onto the next hour with pure joy. I watch the bloody life-saving surgeries with delight and wish I had the friendship Meredith and Christina have. I laugh at Alex’s one-liners and cry out when scandal shatters Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital. I’m invested in the story like it’s my own as I escape from reality into the life of the show. In its 10th season and the top-rated broadcast drama in the 18 to 49 age group, I am surely not the only one captivated by the show. As a viewer of every episode to date, I am a major fan invested in its impact on society.

Grey’s Anatomy is a medical drama set at the fictional Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital in Seattle. The series covers the relationships of the surgical interns, residents, and attendings at the hospital as they try to balance their personal lives with the stresses of their medical work. The show began in 2005 as the main characters began their surgical intern year. It took the U.S. by storm being nominated and winning many Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen Actor’s Guild Awards mainly from 2005-2007. Grey’s Anatomy is the prefect mix of entertaining with the right amount of drama to pull at your heartstrings with interesting medical talk. This is why it has been around for 10 seasons and is still going strong.

Grey’s Anatomy is not just a popular TV show; it is a cultural phenomenon with major impact. As with any TV show, a viewer applies what they see portrayed to their own life. They take the medical components of the show and learn from them. There was a real life incident where a woman was unresponsive due to an asthma attack and her daughter and friend performed CPR that they learned from Grey’s Anatomy. Part of its popularity is due to the fact viewers feel they obtain medical knowledge while being entertained by the drama at the same time. There is something wonderful about watching fascinating surgeries at a distance that captures audiences. It’s the effect of experiencing what it would be like to be a surgeon without actually having to become one in real life. It gives you an idea without the negative aspects that come along with being in the medical field. Part of Grey’s cultural impact and popularity is due to how it portrays doctors in a more relatable and real light. It shows that while they are very smart, they do make mistakes and are affected in the workplace by what is going on in their personal lives. The show’s creator, Shonda Rhimes, agrees with this as she said in an interview, “What I love is that we reveal doctor’s as people, as opposed to heroes”.

Grey’s Anatomy’s popularity is also due to it’s wide audience base. It appeals to almost everyone and is proven through its top slot in the 18 to 49 year old drama category. Steve Sternberg, a media analyst, says, “Roughly 80 percent of households during prime time only have one TV set on. People are looking for shows they can watch with other household members.” It has also popularized the classic moment of drama with an emotional song. “Mark Lawson of The Guardian has credited Grey’s Anatomy with popularizing the “songtage”, or musical montage segments.” The back-to-back dramatic scenes with a powerful song playing in the background have become a staple. The songs played during these moments on powerful episodes even become more popular as people look them up after watching the show. Grey’s Anatomy also ignited the terms of “McDreamy” and “McSteamy” into pop culture after the nicknames were given to two male doctors on the show. These nicknames have transferred into use in the real world for pointing out an attractive male.

Now in its 10th season since it started in 2005, Grey’s Anatomy’s longevity is quite a feat. It took off with a bang since its first episode and has remained popular ever since. It has gone through stages similar to that of a human growing up. In it’s “infancy” of season one and two it was extremely popular. It was cared for and adored as one does to an infant. It’s overall ratings and viewership was through the roof. During this time it was nominated for the most awards. As the show progressed into “childhood” during season three and four it remained ever popular and cared for, but with a little less amount than that of an infant since it’s grown up some. When it grew into “adolescence” during season 5, popularity finally went into a decline as it dropped below the top ten. This is just like when a parent takes a step back as their child becomes an adolescent. During season six and seven is when it finally transferred into “adulthood”. It made its greatest fall in rankings then as if the care of a parent completely lets go when their child becomes an adult. Throughout seasons eight, nine, and currently ten it progressed into “old age”. As with old age comes wisdom and the show still knows how to keep an audience. It may not be at the top anymore, but its place in the 18 to 49 demographic is as strong as ever. It may not be as vibrant as it was in its prime, but the viewers remain loyal. They aren’t going to give up on a show they’ve been watching for many years, including myself. The perfect equation of drama, medical practice, and entertainment keeps it’s viewers around. Even in 2012, “Grey’s Anatomy was named the fourth-highest revenue earning show of the year”.

As a devoted viewer, I’m sticking with Grey’s Anatomy until it’s on its deathbed for the series finale. While I know the end is probably soon and inevitable, I’m still not looking forward to changing my Thursday night routine. The Grey’s phenomenon has taken over TV and pop culture for 10 seasons because of it’s captivating power and it will surely leave a big void.

           

 

 

“You’re Not Special” Response

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High school English teacher David McCullough’s faculty speech to the class of 2012 was absolutely amazing. It was the perfect balance of funny, sophisticated, and thoroughly honest. While some may find the speech a bit harsh for a graduation celebration, it is the truth. We are not all special. I love how McCullough expresses this perfectly by saying, “…if everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless”. While I enjoyed it, I think his speech used a lot of big, scholarly words that may have gone over some audience members’ heads. It was a high school graduation after all, not a college one. Although, I did think he balanced out the intelligence with a lot of funny remarks. His use of parentheses to include these comical remarks was seamless. The advice he gives to the audience to take hold of life, live fully everyday, and enjoy the journey are valuable lessons. After finishing the speech I wished he had given it at my graduation and that I had him as an English teacher in high school.

“Only Daughter” Response

the-house-on-mango-street“Only Daughter” by Sandra Cisneros was a snapshot of her life and her quest to gain her fathers approval. I can relate to her desire to make her father proud of her because I sometimes feel the same way with my father. Luckily, I have had a much easier time and definitely know how proud my father is of me. I liked her exploration of a single sentence explaining who she is. One option she wrote was, “I am the only daughter of a working-class family of nine”. It is interesting how each variation of a similar sentence brings a whole new perspective to the reader on who Cisneros is. I liked how she incorporated Spanish words and their meanings in English into the story. I think it helps the reader feel closer to her Mexican-American roots. The emotion she included throughout the story about how much she vied for her father’s approval gets the reader emotionally involved and rooting for Cisneros. I couldn’t help but smile at the end of the story when she finally gets an ounce of pride and approval from her father.

Major Assignment #1: The Letter

September 27th, 2013

 Dear Tara McQueen,

 My name is Taylor Onosko and I am a freshman in the school of Literature, Science, and Arts at the University of Michigan. I am writing you, the Director of Student Services for the Math Department, to express my discontent with the university wide approach to learning mathematics. While I am pleased with the small class size and effort my course instructor puts into teaching, I have some concerns.

As a student enrolled in Math 105 – Section 022, I am displeased with the method to learning mathematics I have experienced thus far. To my understanding, the math classes taught at this university all follow the same basic principles as discussed in the Student Guide. This being the case, I want to speak up on this issue since I know I am not the only current student displeased with the process of teaching mathematics here.

The first issue of concern is the use of Web Work as the primary tool for mathematics homework. The major problem with the Web Work application is the confusing and meticulous process for inputting answers. The extremely specific way answers are to be inputted takes an unnecessary amount of time and causes tremendous frustration. Many of the six attempts allowed per problem are used up simply because of an imputation error even when the correct solution to the problem has been entered. One example would be inputting “0.5” and getting marked incorrect and then inputting “1/2” and getting marked correct. When it is not specified whether the answer has to be put into decimal or fraction form, both “0.5” and “1/2” should be correct since they are the same value. Another issue is that Web Work does not give an explanation for how to solve a problem if you have given it the maximum number of tries and want to understand how to solve it. It simply shows that your answer is incorrect, but doesn’t help you learn how to solve it. There is also a disconnect between Web Work and the classroom since the problems are never discussed in class. Many students’ questions on how to solve a Web Work problem go unanswered because of this.

Another concern is the improper grading and explanation of group homework.  Weekly team homework assignments are given and also never reviewed in class. Upwards of four hours are spent on group homework every week and the majority of groups receive failing to barely passing grades on each assignment. On top of that, very little explanation is given as to why those grades were given out. This leaves groups confused as to whether their answers to the problems are wrong or whether they are lacking proper conclusions. This reflects poorly on the math department since proper explanation on how to go about completing team homework assignments successfully is clearly lacking.

While I don’t doubt that a lot of money, research, and time were put into creating this system for teaching mathematics at the University of Michigan, I hope you will take my feedback into serious consideration. Some suggestions I have are discontinuing the use of the Web Work application and incorporating review of homework problems into class. I would be happy to meet with you to discuss this further and/or participate in a focus group. As a current math student spending a large amount of money on an education here, I would like my opinion to be heard and hopefully implemented into making the system for teaching mathematics more successful.

Sincerely,

Taylor Onosko

“Listen and Learn” Response

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“Listen and Learn” by Nathan Heller made me instantly want to watch a Ted Talk. Heller did his job and got my absolute attention on the phenomenon of the Ted brand. I had never even heard of Ted before, but was instantly intrigued. The way Heller wrote about Ted Talks made his article seem like a Ted Talk itself. He opened with a story and easily switched between detailed facts and entertaining scenic writing to keep the attention of the audience. The way he intertwined Zoref’s story throughout the article also kept the reader interested to find out how the story ends. I was surprised to read about all the strict preparation and detail that goes into each talk. It at first seemed like a lot of effort for a video that the majority of people just see online. I later realized that this preparation is one of the main reasons Ted Talks are so amazing and immensely popular. While some may feel the piece jumped around too much, I appreciated the way Heller transitioned between facts and stories. Over all, Heller did a great job of explaining the details of Ted Talks while also making it entertaining and personal. This balance made the piece an enjoyable read.

“A Simple Request from a Concerned President” Response

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading “A Simple Request from a Concerned President” because it was ridiculously hilarious. The title is also extremely funny because of how formal it is compared to the email. The president is far beyond “concerned” and is asking much more than a “simple request”. I tend to use the f-word for emphasis in my own life, but the vast amount of times the author used it in her email seriously diluted it’s value. I understand she wanted to get her point across with foul language, but she took it so far that I didn’t take it seriously. I appreciated her mention of a rhetorical question because it made her sound a tiny bit less dumb since she actually knows the meaning of a rhetorical question. Don’t get me wrong though, her entire email still made her sound like a complete idiot. The severe use of capitalization makes the reader shout in their head the words that are capitalized. It clearly gets the point across in a shouting manner. The author’s intention of a serious email about her major concern backfires because of the content and style of writing. Her extremely rude tone will never convince the reader to follow her request. Readers are far more likely to laugh at its bizarre nature than ever take the advice of the author.