4.22.2009

Googling Myself

Man, that title almost sounds dirty, doesn't it?

Growing up, I was a HUGE Mike Tyson fan. I'm talking about the
pre-prison Mike Tyson. The Mike Tyson who hadn't yet beaten his wife or been accused of rape. This was the guy who became the youngest heavyweight champion in history at the age of twenty. He won his first 19 bouts by a knockout, including 12 that occurred in the first round. He was the baddest man on the planet. He was "Kid Dynamite!"

I remember clipping out pictures of Iron Mike in S
ports Illustrated delivering a blow to Michael Spinks with sweat and saliva exploding off Spinks' battered face. I played Mike Tyson's Punch-Out on Nintendo endlessly (How is it that Little Mac only comes up to the other fighters' knees?). I could never beat Tyson at the end of the game though. I remember one time I actually landed a punch on
him. That was a great day.

But best of all, his last name was the same as my first name. Tyson! I would tell kids at school that I was named after Mike Tyson, even though neither of my parents were boxing fans in the least bit at the time of my birth, and Kid Dynamite didn't explode onto the boxing scene until after I was born. Nevertheless I was so incredibly proud to share something in common with Iron Mike. I was certain to have a bonafide ice-breaker if we were ever to meet.

Fast-forward a few years... After the time spent in prison for rape, and after his messy divorce from actress Robin Givens, Tyson looked to get back into boxing and seemed to have put his dark past behind him. He stepped into the ring to face Evander Holyfield to regain his heavyweight title. Unable to overpower Holyfiel
d, Tyson was disqualified for biting Holyfield's ear, not once, but TWICE! With Holyfield's bloody and mangled ear lying on the mat, I knew that Tyson was never going to be anything but a psychopath.

Naturally, I tried to distance myself with the guy. When I lived in Korea, I would tell people my name and they would say, "Oh Tyson...
Like the famous boxer?" I would sigh and then tell them, "Yes, but I'm not a psycho like he is."

Now years later, Google has effed up all my damage control. When people google my name, my facebook and blog show up obviously. But there is
also so much more thanks to the athlete formerly known as Kid Dynamite. Here are some listings underneith the Google search "Tyson Camp":

"Tyson camp makes threats – Las Vegas Sun"

"Turmoil in Tyson camp"

"In the Tyson Camp, Truce is Tenuous"


and the worst of them all...


"Tyson Camp Dismisses Allegations of Rape..."

You can see why I would be upset, right? Obviously these articles aren't about me. And I guess it isn't so much Google's fault as it is the media who use the words: "Tyson camp." Why couldn't they use "Tyson entourage" or "Tyson posse" or even "Tyson people"? I know my last name isn't the most common of names, but I bet you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone on this earth named "Tyson Entourage".

But I guess that's what happens. I guess I'll just have to make a good name for myself to make these changes.


I just hope my future potential employers will have enough sense to distinguish that guy from me.

4.11.2009

Some People Just Don't Get It

I was quite intrigued with the group's presentation today. Racist and sexist humor in the media have been on my mind lately. There was an interesting question posed at the end that, unfortunately, we didn't have time to discuss much. The question was: does racist and sexist humor merely perpetuate stereotypes in the media or does it point out the fact that stereotypes are ridiculous?
I'm kind of on the fence on this one. I think it depends on a couple of factors. First of all, it obviously depends on the joke. Jokes like the one that was brought up in class: "What's strong enough for a man but made for a woman? The back of my hand" obviously cross the line. Anything that depicts anybody being the victim of violence is never appropriate in my mind. Plus, it just isn't funny. Guys who make jokes like that, even if they aren't violent towards women, are just losers to me. Come up with someth
ing funny. That's just wrong and lame.
When Chappelle's Show was on the air, I did not miss an episode. It was just so ballsy and edgy to me. My friend once told me he didn't like that show because all Dave Chappelle did was make fun of white people. I couldn't believe what I heard! Had he ever seen the show? I think Chappelle made fun of his own race more than any other race. Plus, he took shots at everyone. No one was safe, and that's what kept me coming back. Chappelle took ridiculous stereotypes and magnified them in an effort to show the world how stupid stereotypes are. Educated people got the joke, and I think Chappelle did a lot of good to open peoples' eyes. He certainly opened mine. But unfortunately a lot of people are stupid. They see Chappelle on TV portraying these stereotypes about different races and take it as truth. That's one of the reasons why Chappelle quit the show when it was at its apex.

So I guess my point is that I see racist jokes and sexist jokes differently. I hardly see any value in sexist jokes. To me, they are just unfunny for the most part and less than progressive. I think of an uneducated backwoods hillbilly stuck in the 1950s coming up with all these jokes and burdening us with them. Racist jokes, I think, can be have a positive effect if used correctly. It can open people's eyes to ways in which they subconsciously act around other races. But it can have the same effect as a sexist joke if it is mean-spirited and/or the listener is too stupid to really get it.
And it's a shame because I sure miss Chappelle's Show
.

4.03.2009

Am I Bad Person For Hating Women's Basketball?

I thought both groups today provided some interesting insight on women in the media.
I'll admit (and I'll probably get skewered for this) that I don't watch women's sports because I find them uninteresting. And I know I'm not the only one in the class that thinks that. I actually don't mind watching volleyball or tennis--and it's not because of the skimpy outfits. I think that both sports are something that men and women can play together.
But I can't watch women's basketball. The disparity level between men's and women's basketball is huge, and anyone who argues otherwise is crazy. I know several women who say they can't watch it either. Don't get me wrong... I'm not saying that women shouldn't play basketball. I'm just saying that there are some sports I can't stand watching: hockey and women's basketball.
It was also interesting to learn how beauty is interpreted in other countries. The tanned, hourglass body that is considered "beautiful" in America is different than in Asia. When I lived in Korea, I could not figure out why Korean women tried so hard so lighten their skin.
They would go so far as to apply powder to their faces, and in many instances, they looked like they were wearing clown makeup. But I guess it's better than fake baking. Instead of looking like the old lady on There's Something About Mary by the time they're 40 they actually have healthy skin brimming with smoothness and elasticity.
But we should always remember that beauty is only skin deep, no matter where you're from, and a woman's merits should not be based on her external beauty.

3.26.2009

Corporate Censorship

No offense to Errin, but this class really pisses me off. Don't get me wrong; I love our discussions, and I really do learn something everyday. But I really am getting quite irritated with the way some things are in our country. It seems like more than ever before heads of major corporations are the only voices in our country. With the media conglomerations and corporate censorship by Wal-mart and others, we don't really ever get a say of what we want to consume.
I was always led to believe growing up that Nirvana and Kurt Cobain were about one thing: being true to themselves. I was shocked and extremely disappointed when I read that they actually changed the title of the song on the album from "Rape Me" to "Waif Me". What's that all about? First of all, what does the word "waif" mean anyway? Second, I thought Nirvana would be above all of that greedy corporate BS. I guess I was wrong.
Also growing up, I was led to believe that members of the rap group N.W.A. were legitimate
gangstas rapping about their tough upbringing on the streets of Compton. I was never a huge fan of their music, but I always felt if there was a rap artist or group who had street cred, it was the members of N.W.A. Turns out, none of them were gangbangers in L.A. Only Eazy-E actually ever stood on a street corner to sell crack. Ice Cube actually turned down an academic scholarship to Arizona State to remain with the group (I know, it's Arizona State, but still). Eazy-E contributed to George H.W. Bush's campaign before dying of AIDS. And Dr. Dre once severely beat up a female reporter in public. Yeah these guys were real hardcore gangbangers.
P. Diddy is even worse. Despite what he'd like you to think, Diddy was no ghetto kid. He had a middle-class upbringing, was a model for Baskin-Robbins and went to a private Catholic boys' school where he was reportedly scared to bring home any grade less than a B.
I guess the point I'm making is that even for people that are media literate, it's hard to decifer if what you're consuming is legitimate art or not. Is the artist being real or is he/she just a puppet for the corporations?
These two video clips illustrate a humorous take on how a corporation can censor an artist. This Is Spinal Tap is a mockumentary about a British rock band from the early 80s. If you haven't seen it, I highly suggest it as it is delightfully entertaining. But these two videos kinda show how big corporations like Wal-mart can have a say in what artists put out there. I must put a disclaimer out there that the clips have some minor language issues and (deep breath) Fran Drescher makes an appearance. Watch with caution.


3.13.2009

Cool Hunting and the like...

The film we watched this week was very interesting to me. First off, it brought me back to the days when I watched TV programs like "The Tom Green Show" and "Jackass" religiously. It's interesting to me because back in those days I was in high school and watched MTV all the time. I watched TRL even though I couldn't (and still can't) stand Carson Daly. I'm ashamed to admit this, but I even watched "Undressed." That show was so naughty to me, and yet I could not help but watch it.
I never realized what a hold MTV had on my youth until now. I bought
right into its marketing ploy and sadly spent too much of my high school days fixated on its programming. Thankfully, I have freed myself from the grips of MTV's claws. I guess I just got fed up with reality TV for the most part. But that doesn't mean I am free from the media. I still need my daily fix of Sportscenter and Conan (June 1st can't come soon enough). And I certainly can't miss TV shows like 30 Rock and Flight of the Conchords. So I guess while my taste in entertainment has evolved, I suppose the media will always have some sort of hold on me, which is scary and sad.
I also resonated with the concept of "cool hunting" that was explained in the film. I remember when I was in junior high, and I first heard of the band "Sublime." I was singing the lyrics to "Santeria" in school one day when a friend of mine stopped me.
"You know 'Sublime?'" she said.
"Yeah, they're one of my favorite bands now," I r
eplied.
She then went off on how she discovered them first, and now she was upset that the band was going mainstream. The band wouldn't be "cool" anymore.
That's how it was as a teenager for me. Something could be considered totally cool one day and lose all of its coolness the next. In high school my friends and I would wear trucker hats and aviator sunglasses because we thought it was really cool and retro. When I returned from my mission and saw that everyone was wearing them I couldn't wear them anymore. To me, it had lost its "cool factor" now that it had been discovered. It's pretty selfish. It's like something that is so precious to us that we don't wanna share, something that gives us identity. Then everyone else starts doing it, or the media exploits it, and it's not ours anymore.

P.S. Does anyone know where I can find "The Tom Green Show" on DVD? I guess my sense of humor hasn't evolved as much as I'd like to think it has.

3.06.2009

The Spin Stops Here? Puh-leeze!

Our class has discussed some pretty controversial topics over the semester. We've talked about radical feminists and white-hating black people; two subjects that get me pretty frustrated. But for me, today's class was so maddening to me--specifically on two separate levels. I'm pissed off as a consumer and also as a journalism major.
The video clip about "The Investigators" got me thinking about what other news stories are out there that the media are keeping from us. Surely that wasn't an isolated case where a story was killed because advertising dollars were at stake or there was another conflict of interest. There could possibly be life-saving information out there for some of us, only the media has other ideas in store for us. They determine what we need or want and force feed us that crap. Then they keep information from us that might actually be useful or necessary.
The video clip also shows that there is really nothing I can do about it. As a journalism major, I've been taught that my only loyalties lie with
providing the truth for the public. Not with money. Not with people. Not with major corporations. That's good and all, and in a perfect world that would be the case. But I constantly see examples that tell me otherwise. I want to be an ethical journalist. I want to provide the truth. But how can I do that if I don't have a job as a journalist? People that are loyal to media corporations and their respective conflicts of interests are going to be the ones with the jobs while I wait in line for food at a soup kitchen.
The point was brought up in class about how there were certain laws in place back in the early 1900's to break up monopolies in the coal industry. Where are those laws now? Why can't we enforce those laws? Fox News seems to be the most common violator of the public's interest. But I would like to know what other news stations have compromised the public's interest for their own. No doubt there are many.

Like I said, it would be nice to be able to do something about it. But the media aren't going to change itself, and it doesn't seem like the government is interested in forcing the media to change.
So if any of you have any good ideas let me know. Meanwhile I'll try to get in contact with Rupert Murdoch to see if he'll lend us his support.

2.27.2009

The Fall of Hip Hop

I like hip hop music for the most part. I've never been a huge fan of gangsta rap, but I've always been a big fan old school hip hop or more of the underground stuff. I remember being introduced to artists like Eric B. & Rakim and A Tribe Called Quest at a young age and just falling in love with the energetic beats that made me just wanna move around. That's why I was excited to see this hip hop video in class this week.
I thought Byron Hurt did a phenomenal job producing the film. Here he was, a gifted black athlete who grew up loving hip hop, and then coming to a realization that much of the lyrics in hip hop music is sexist, misogynistic, homophobic and violent. He talked about being conflicted because he loved the music so much. That's why I have tons of respect for him for making a film like
this and helping open up America's eyes to this kind of trash in the media.
Hurt also talked about all of this energy being built up in places like the Bronx, where people lived poverty, and hip hop being the way to release all of that energy. Listen to lyrics of songs in the early days of hip hop and contrast them to lyrics of today. Hip hop founders like The
Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash wouldn't even make it onto the hip hop scene today because their lyrics are so mild. They didn't rap about killing one another or sleeping with a bunch of "hoes." It was about releasing that energy and having a good time doing it.
Then you have artists like Public Enemy and Mos Def who are very political. They rap about the goings on in society and are socially conscious. They may drop F bombs here and there, but it's about the context of what they're talking about. They're not trying to come across as hard or talking about it in a sexual sense. They're pissed off! Many people
let expletives fly when they get pissed; these guys are just expressing their anger with hip hop.
But unfortunately, we mostly just see guys like Nelly and 50 Cent, and guys talking about "supermaning their hoes."
We're all to blame. Artists are to blame; record execs are to blame; DJs are to blame; those of us who buy into the culture are to blame. We're perpetuating these stereotypes: that black men are supposed to be wild, violent, sexist and homophobic.
I had to watch this documentary again to get the entire concept that Hurt was talking
about. And I would recommend anyone to see it again. In the meantime, I'll just stick to my old school stuff.

2.20.2009

Equality or segregation?

The subject of race is a touchy subject for me, as I’m sure it is for most white people. I would argue that most white people aren’t racists, though bell hooks would likely disagree. White people might be guilty of stereotyping or categorizing people of other races at times, but I think a lot of times we don’t know we are doing it. That is why I don’t mind bell hooks’ book all that much. Maybe I can learn how to let go of certain racist tendencies that I may have that I’m not aware of. But hooks makes it sound like that not only are white people racist, but they all are on purpose. I vehemently disagree with this. By painting the entire white race with a broad brush, like hooks so often does, she is a racist. Isn’t that what racism is all about? Stereotyping and categorizing people based on their skin color? That’s exactly what she’s doing. But if I can learn from her terrible example on how I can better myself, then great. hooks talks about “loving blackness.” I have no problem with black people embracing their race and being proud of it. Why would I? But does “loving blackness” subsequently mean “hating whiteness”? I get the feeling that hooks would argue that it does. Someone spoke up in class and stated that she was confused to what black people really want. Do they want equality? Or do they want to continue to segregate and block out whites? That’s a totally valid question. The majority of black people that I have met seem to want equality; that is, to be treated like equals along with every other race. But then we have black people like hooks who seem to want to elevate themselves above white people as some sort of retribution for hundreds of years of mistreatment by whites. I don’t know if hooks knows this or not, but I had nothing to do with slavery and other atrocities blacks faced in the past. Unfortunately, my ancestors did. But is it right that I be held accountable for things my ancestors did? My great-grandfather was murdered. Should I go to his murderer’s posterity and demand retribution? Of course not! They had NOTHING to do with it. We should always remember our past, and learn from it. America is progressing, and we are learning from the mistakes of our ancestors. For the most part, I believe White America is ready to move past racism and all its crippling effects. But people like hooks and Al Sharpton see that white people, for the most part, want equality and exploit the situation it to elevate themselves above whites. They are a huge reason why racism still exists in America.

2.06.2009

Boys & Girls

I totally understand why women wouldn’t like to be called “girls.” It’s the same reason why I don’t like being called a “boy.” I’m 25, and though I may act like I’m 17 at times, I am by definition a man. Now if someone slips up and calls me a boy, you won’t see me flying off the handle. But it does bother me. I’m at a stage in my life where I’m trying to rid myself of childish things and become an adult.
But I don’t see the problem for me as much as I do women around me. Guys around me constantly refer to our peers of the opposite sex as “girls.” I can understand why women would take offense. But it also bothers me on a personal level too. Like I said, I’m 25. I’m done hanging out with “girls.” I would much rather surround myself around smart, thoughtful women as opposed to na├»ve, shallow girls. Plus, how can I expect others to think of me as a man when I surround myself with girls?
For me, the difference between girls/women doesn’t necessarily have to do with age. Although age plays a significant role in whether I consider a female a girl or a woman, for me, it has more to do about her personality and total outlook on life. For instance, I have met 18-year old girls, and I have met 18-year old women. Similarly, I have encountered 25-year old girls and 25-year old women.
I hold the same standards for males. Like I said, sometimes I can be downright boyish. But the point is trying to become an adult and shedding child-like behaviors. Recently, I was sitting in a steam room at the gym with a couple of guys who were in their early 20's. These guys were talking how they had come off their missions and gotten married almost immediately. Not long after that, a group of females in bikinis came in and sat down. Shortly one of the guys said to the women, “Man, I wish I wasn’t married right now.” These “boys” then commenced flirting with these women. I guess getting married isn’t as grown up as I was taught because these boys were clearly embarrassing themselves and men everywhere by trying to pick up on these girls. One of them even started doing pushups. I wanted to burst out laughing!
I guess the point of my rant is that just because someone reaches the age of 18, doesn’t mean that person can be considered a man or a woman. For me, becoming an adult is a process that doesn’t change in a blink of an eye. It takes years of learning and experimenting. Some people become adults faster than others, but if we want to be referred to as men and women, we have to stop acting like boys and girls.

1.30.2009

Let's Talk About Sex

I have oft heard the phrase—“In Utah, time stands still”—from many people from out of state. As a native Utahn, I have taken offense to people who have trashed on my home state. But I must say that I might have to agree with those same people when it comes to the topic of sex. Sometimes I feel like we’re back in the 1950s when it comes to talking of sexual matters. It is so taboo to have an open conversation about sex, especially if you aren’t married, and definitely not with anyone of the opposite sex.
In my teenage years, I used to pal around with some girls who wouldn’t bat an eye over hearing a curse word. But if they heard the word “sex” they would freak out and call you a pervert. In their everyday language, they would say “se…” instead of the actual word, so dirty and filthy it was. I once heard my sister use that substitute and lambasted her for being a prude. My question was and is—What is wrong with talking about sex? Is it because we get aroused at the mere mention of the word?
I’m a Mormon (I’m from Utah, remember?), and us Mormons are taught that pre-marital sex is a big no-no. Until we get hitched, we’re told “NO NO NO,” and then once we are m
arried, we’re told “YES YES YES! DO IT AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!” Now I believe that pre-marital sex can be bad—especially when one is promiscuous about it. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be informed about sex and be able to have adult conversations about it.
I’ve heard of a few stories of newlyweds who freak out on their wedding night because they are so afraid of taking that trip to Pleasuretown. It is a concept so foreign and forbidden to them that they refuse to take part in it and end up missing out on a little afternoon delight (I know… two Anchorman references in the same paragraph!). I don’t think that’s how God intends that to be. We should be able to have open conversations about stuff like this without feeling like we have actually committed the sin.
We should be open with each other and younger people about the truths about sex. We shouldn’t hide the facts about it until someone is married and then let that person fend for his/herself. I strongly believe that does far more damage than good.
Look… I wrote that whole thing without getting aroused once. It can be done!

1.23.2009

Blaxploitation of the Media

This last week was pretty historic. On the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, our country’s first black president was sworn into office. Regardless of political affiliation, one could not help but be impressed by President Obama’s speech. They were words of hope and inspiration. I have been mulling over a couple of things since the inauguration that I would like to get off my chest.
First, January 15th of this year marked the late Dr. King’s 80th birthday. That means, had it not been for his senseless assassination, he likely would have been alive to see the day where the American people elected an African-American to the Oval Office. I wonder how he would’ve reacted. Where would the nation be today if he were still alive? How different would the black community be if he were still one its leaders instead of blowhards like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson? Who knows? Maybe Dr. King himself would have run for President already. Or maybe his untimely death solidified the human rights movement and cemented his legacy in this nation’s history.
Secondly, I wonder how this will affect the way the media portray black people. Errin raised a good point in class that got me thinking about this. Will the media continue to showcase African-Americans as gang-banging, gun-toting, uneducated and poverty-ridden? Or will we start to see black people in the media as more than athletes and gangstas?
The media go a long ways in introducing and enhancing stereotypes. I spent some time in South Korea, as a missionary and later as student, and you won’t find many black people there. Why? Because Koreans are terrified of them. During my time there, I asked several people why they were so frightened of black people. Almost every response had to do with the ways media portray them as ruthless gangstas who rape and kill like it’s a bodily function. They didn’t know the likes of Theo Huxtable and Steve Urkel. They just knew about Tupac and Dr. Dre.
For years, the media have downplayed shows or news stories focusing on the positives in the black community while exploiting the negatives because it sells. The result is negative stereotypes that are passed down from generation to generation. Inner-city black kids have been taught that they can make it as an athlete, or they can resort to dealing drugs or gang-banging.
Hopefully this historic presidency will not only squash that absurd thinking, but also the damaging stereotyping the media have taken part in. Black kids need to know that they can be whatever they want to be. In my line of work, I come across many successful black people who aren’t athletes or gangstas. Kids of any race can grow up to be television producers, CEOs and now, President of the United States. Let’s hope the media chronicles some of the more positives out of the black community.

1.14.2009

Blogging Virgin

Like many others in this class, I’m getting my blogging cherry popped as I type these letters. It’s not that I’m totally against blogging. I actually feel like it’s a great platform that was designed for people like me who love to write and better express themselves through the written word. But yet, I resisted. I’m not married, nor is my life super exciting as a college student in Orem. Plus, I assumed it would end up being one of those passing fads that would fade through time like pogs and Crystal Pepsi. Most of all, I didn’t want to become a blogger unless I actually had something substantial to say. I highly doubt the masses are clamoring to find out how I spent my weekend. Hopefully this class will force me to think and express myself on important trends and goings on in our society.

I am constantly amazed at the power that the media hold. Media can make heroes and villains, determine an outcome of a political election and provide endless hours of entertainment (Bad Girls Club). Media can sway people to buy, sell, diet, eat, work, play; there’s nothing media can’t do.

I came across this article a few months back. It’s amazing how many people get their news from shows like Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show. I can’t fault those who do. I get plenty of news from these hilarious shows that you don’t hear on normal newscasts. But I’m not stupid enough to take these shows too seriously. SNL portrayed John McCain as a curmudgeonly, old dinosaur and Hillary Clinton as a bitch. Were these descriptions accurate? A little. Were they blown out of proportion? Of course! That’s what made them funny. But people who take these shows as anything more than poking fun at politics are extremely irresponsible. It’s important to keep informed by other media. If people look to The Daily Show or The Colbert Report as their only source of information, they are going to see a distorted view of the real issues.

Like I said, I watch these shows as much as the next person. And I love them! But people, especially college students, need to make more of an effort to seek out information from reliable news sources like CNN and not always from ridiculous fake “news” sources like Fox News (zing!).