Archive for May, 2010

My Literary Cannon Adventure: Wuthering Heights

Catherine Earnshaw/Linton and Heathcliff (played by Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes)

Okay, so I’m aware that it has been a rather long time since i went off on my quest to read the quintessential gothic love story of all time…but i’ve had to fit it in between my other studies and so my periodic indulgence has been reduced to nightly ‘steals’ at a few pages.

However, I am pleased to declare that I did in fact turn the very last page of this epic tale at around 2am this morning having refused to put it down at getting to the part where an evil Heathcliff imprisoned sweet Cathy Linton and faithful Ellen Dean within the walls of his haunted house at the climax of his cruel plan to force Cathy to wed feigning Linton.

But i digress…

I thought that this novel was written with a much more ‘forward-thinking’ hand than the one I indulged in previously (Jayne Eyre)…although both maintain an indisputable flow of ‘love’ like none experienced before throughout the chapters of their books. This, comes as quite a surprise considering that Emily Brontë, the daughter of a clergyman, never in fact married herself and so wouldn’t have experienced the sheer romance that she managed to encapsulate within her novels.

Although slow to get going and i thought ‘confusing’ at the start with the business of Mr Lockwood’s stay at the Heights…it was soon all made startlingly (and rather ‘sickeningly’) blatant through Ellen Dean’s portrayal, which takes up most of the novel.

The story is certainly one of the most stomach-churning and dark that I have ever read but it is not ‘over-emphasised’ for effect, only used to exemplify the nature of the world of evil Heathcliff and his demented love for his adopted sister Catherine Earnshaw.

Having said that, there were times in the tale that I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the antagonist and also for helpless Edgar Linton, who was also besotted with seemingly charismatic Miss Earnshaw.

The book was certainly full of ups and downs and by the end I certainly felt as if I had gone through the journey with the principle characters, but glad at the same time to see a sort of amicable conclusion to the plight of the long-suffering Heathcliff. I have long wondered at that rather ‘odd’ music video of Kate Bush, but now it all makes perfect sense!

“My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees – my love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath – a source of little visible delight, but necessary.”

Consumer Culture as Experience: The Bullring, Birmingham

The famous 'Bull' outside of the Bullring, Birmingham City Centre

Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping. (Bo Derek) … and they certainly didn’t know of ‘The Bullring’, the ‘shopping capital of Europe’, or so it was until it was knocked off its perch by ‘Westfield’, but we wont talk about them…

It has become a regular haunt of mine since being at uni, and so I regularly find a fitting excuse to ‘pop in’ on my way home for ‘a nose’.

And today was no exception… armed with the excuse of having to pay off the remaining balance of my impending ‘girlie jollies’, I hung around long enough afterwards to exploit the ol’ NUS and fashion a crator-sized dent in my student account!

Now according to my lecture notes, I must now make note of my experience and ‘key features’ so here goes:

  • the ‘experience’ was on the whole a most enjoyable one, being able to move freely around (for once) without having a pram rammed into the backs of my ankles or queuing so long in Boots I have to go back in for ‘Veet’. I also managed to do my ‘good deed’ for the day by being the friend that chooses ‘those pair of shoes’ that you just can’t decide on. Today, it was ‘off white’ or ‘blue/white’ heels that were (apart from the not-so-noticeable-variant-in-shade [especially in a dark nightclub]) EXACTLY THE SAME SHOE! (jess!) … but I’m a good friend and so I will not let that hour in New Look come between us…It will just go on my ‘time to claim back’ list when the Grim Reaper comes a-knocking, alongside the umpteen hours spent in crap films my boyfriend assured me would be ‘dead funny’ and endless hours spent doing maths homework in High School before realising the answers were in the back!

the levels inside The Bullring

  • in terms of key features the Bullring certainly ‘feels’ like a nice place to shop. Although you do have that ‘invisible divide of class’ as you cross the force field between ‘Burger King’ and ‘Costa’ on the ground level, moving from the Debenhams end where you can bag a bargain if your lucky … into the ‘Selfridges end’, where you may well bump into ‘that distant aunt’ from 52 MoneyBags Avenue with room for a pony! The ‘hierarchy of shopping experience’ continues as you travel up the shopping centre, moving from the likes of Pizza Hut, where you can eat until you burst at the lunch time buffet… all the way up to the heights of ‘Pizza Express‘, that sports ‘made-while-you-wait-a-lifetime-pizzas-while-nibbling-on-extortionately-priced- Apéritifs ‘ (starters to you and me!) On the bright side I suppose it does offer all walks of life a wide choice of where to shop and I certainly do a lot of the latter!

the outside of the Selfridges building in The Bullring

In contrast with 19th century shopping experience it does retain many of the same features, i.e. ‘serve yourself’, which may i add is not intended in some places (cough)Debenhams(cough), but if you don’t ‘serve yourself’ you may never BE served…

It is a stark contrast between what it is like on the ‘high street’, and you certainly feel as if you are amongst a different group of people (probably because of the hike in prices) and it is definitely more of a ‘luxurious experience’, however i would expect they still get the same problems with ‘shoplifting’ and such, if not more so.

However, it is also beginning to take steps in the way forward, as The Bullring has recently celebrated the opening of ‘The C.S.I Experience’, which isn’t a shop but an ‘interactive experience’ which shoppers can take part in for the ‘small’ price of £9 (something). Never-the-less, it does show that even thriving shopping centres such as this are starting to look at new ways of drawing in their customers in ways other than the lure of sweatshop-made-extortionately-priced-vestements!

When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping.  Men invade another country.  It’s a whole different way of thinking.  ~Elayne Boosler

A Spot Of Light Reading: Joshua Gamson: ‘The Celebrity Text’, Claims to Fame

I think it’s really important that Gamson starts by addressing what it ‘used to be’ to be considered a ‘celebrity’ i.e: ‘in the old days, fame was the result of achievement’ (Charles Marowitz). I feel that this is integral to address, as it is startlingly true now-a-days that we ‘worship’ people who aren’t famous for anything more than ‘dating’ someone else who’s mildly famous, or for managing to do diddly-squat in a house that’s under surveillance for umpteen weeks!

Important points gathered from reading:

  • Hype, purchase, manipulation, self-promotion, = central elements in celebrity discourse
  • Shake-up of the movie studio system meant that ‘stars’ were enlisted for TV and not for the ‘silver screen’, which meant ‘less talent’ was required i.e acting skills.
  • The growth of the PR industry in the 1950s meant that they could ‘re-create’ the images of existing ‘stars’ so that they were more appealing to producers.
  • Several components that affected celebrity:

–       TV adapted like magazines had from ‘general interest’ to ‘segmented marketing’

–       News becomes more ‘celebrity-based’, and therefore PR is needed much more. Closer relations between PR and journalism

–       Visual image technology becomes much more advanced

–       Imitation new becomes commonplace.

–       Interactive news reports to evoke ‘feeling’ and ‘emotion’ towards interviewed

–       Outlets for publicity had exploded, especially ‘people’ magazine. More routes in which to publicize a ‘star’. Need outweighs output.

  • Mid mid-60s, adults and children were watching about 4hours of TV a day.
  • Magazines and TV provided ‘more space for more faces’
  • ‘Illusion of intimacy’ created between viewers and celebrities via TV set.

“those who have star quality have it on stage and off – star quality can be spotted and nurtured. But it cannot be created”

“becoming stars through their own blood, sweat, and tears…”

(USA Today).

I thought this was a particularly interesting quote from the reading, as it could not be further from the truth now-a-days.

  • Links between celebrity and selling was not new, starting with celebrity endorsements (freebies).
  • “the bigger the star I am, the more money I’m worth to an advertising company” – starts to get ‘greedy’.
  • TV Guide– ‘how to manufacture a celebrity’
  • ‘the meaningless mechanics of fabricated fame’
  • ‘just a big machine – press a button and it churns out a name’

I think it was interesting that he talks of a study where a number of TV officials were asked what they thought ‘made’ a star, and there answers were all superficial like ‘being able to feel’ etc, and then only a few years later people were giving answers like ‘quality’ didn’t matter, only ‘image’. This is very much the case now-a-days. Even on popular programmes such as ‘Britains Got Talent’, even ‘uglier people’ get mocked before they’ve even done anything, like Susan Boyle for instance. It’s all about how you ‘look’ now.

  • ‘reality-style’ media attempted to she the ‘real’ behind the ‘star’. This was popular for a time.
  • Willing to sacrifice a limb to win an oscar…

In summary of the reading, i felt that he really ‘nailed it on the head’ in terms of what the celebrity culture is like now-a-days, considering that at the ‘birth of the celebrity’ it was literally about ‘celebrating’ the skill of someone who has exceptionally talented in a certain field, whereas now it is almost completely the opposite, especially with the rise of ‘reality TV’ and ‘talent shows’.

What is the cultural significance of ‘Glee’?: An analogy of fandom

For my research report, i will be conducting an analogy on the fandom that circulates around the TV sensation that is ‘Glee’. I will attempt to answer what is its ‘cultural significance’, and in doing so will go into depth into such issues and ‘stereotypes’ and representation, as well as how we can benefit from watching such TV programmes as these.