Posts Tagged ‘Critical Thinking’

footloose_1984_movie_poster-385x600Footloose2011

For my movie poster comparison I chose Footloose, originally made in 1984 and remade in 2011. Now I’ve never actually watched the remake because the original was one of my favorite 80’s movies, one of a collection of movies I hold sacred and feel any remake would ruin for me. Others include The Breakfast Club, Labyrinth, Dirty Dancing and Goonies. You hear that movie companies? Come up with some original ideas and leave my childhood alone! That being said, I figured it would be interesting to compare these two posters and what impression they get across.

We’ll start with the wording and font on each poster. The title of the movie is the prominent text on each poster and they are relatively similar.  The 1984 version has the very hip 80’s vibe, it’s cursive and modern (for the time) and fun. The 2011 poster utilized the same font for the title but made it appear like a neon sign to modernize it. It almost appears to be the name of a nightclub which lends itself to the dance theme of the movie poster. They used the same effect for the tagline of the movie, however, the taglines are very different. The 1984 version lays out more of the plot directly at the top poster, stating, “He’s a big-city kid in a small town. They said he’d never win. He knew he had to.” Then, placed next to the Walkman on his hip, “The music is on his side.” The 2011 poster simply states, “There comes a time to cut loose,” which seems to be a nod at the song “Footloose” and a simplified explanation of the movie plot. Neither poster features the actors’ names in a prominent position, so in both movies they are depending on the theme of the movie to draw people in rather than big name stars.

The images are the most prominent aspect of the posters and they both feature the main character dancing. The 1984 version features Kevin Bacon and his glorious hair rocking out solo. In the background we see farm buildings and a church which represent the small town. He looks rebellious and heroic at the same time. The 2011 version of Ren is wearing the modern equivalent to the 1984 casual cool look of jeans and rolled up sleeves; a T-shirt and jeans gives the same vibe. The girl’s outfit of cut-off short shorts, tied up shirt and cowboy-ish boots is modern but country, it gives off that small-town vibe. The 2011 version features the main character and his love interest dancing extremely close while there is a blur of dancing in the background. I think this plays into the popularity of “dance movies” like Step Up (aren’t there like 20 of those now?) and You Got Served (also too many to count), and the whole “sex sells” approach. Without prior knowledge of the original movie, one would assume this movie is more about a couple trying to “cut loose” than a “big-city kid in a small town.” My belief is that this aims to portray this as a “date movie” and to appeal to a broader audience.

I am actually a little more interested in watching the remake now just to see how it was done and if the impression I gathered from the poster is what is portrayed in the movie. Or perhaps I’ll just stick to the original…

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Critical thinking and Pop Culture don’t exactly seem to go hand-in-hand. Enter Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Director of Hayden Planetarium, Research Associate in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History, named in Time Magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential Persons in the World” and “Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive” in People Magazine. Tyson has a knack for taking complex concepts and presenting them in a way that those of us who aren’t rocket scientists can understand. He seems to enjoy spreading knowledge and is a champion for critical thinking. He has published books, hosted award-winning shows, taken away Pluto and can be found on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and hosts his own podcast called StarTalk.

StarTalk targets those who never thought science could be interesting or entertaining, it connects Pop Culture and science. The introduction of each show states, “Our universe is filled with secrets and mysteries which leaves us with many questions to be answered. We find ourselves searching for those answers as the very fabric of space, science and society are converging. Here for the first time, these worlds collide.” Neil partners up with celebrity guests and comedians to talk about many different scientific topics, he says they explore “everything under the sun, or rather the universe!” He approaches subjects ranging from scientific discoveries to pseudoscience, from the possible benefits of video games to the physics of superheroes. Listeners can submit questions to the show on Twitter. Mr. Tyson approaches the topics and questions with rational (albeit, humorous) discussions backed by scientific evidence and facts. He explains that scientific literacy serves to protect us against pseudoscience. These shows are amusing, entertaining and incredibly informative. The way he explains why things happen or why they couldn’t possibly happen is fascinating and easy to understand. This was one of my favorite episodes in which he answers questions about superheroes…

He explains how a super soldier serum, as in Captain America, could not actually increase the strength of a person’s muscles beyond a certain point if the tissue remains the same size due to the physics of strength. Also, now I know that Magneto could not tear apart the universe but could theoretically “tear a new one” in a star. Superman would be torn apart by a black hole because he is made of matter from this universe. These are very interesting answers to questions I’ve personally had about superheroes.

I also found this great quote encouraging critical thinking (he’s full of them) from an interview on The Science Network. [A] most important feature is the analysis of the information that comes your way. And that’s what I don’t see enough of in this world. There’s a level of gullibility that leaves people susceptible to being taken advantage of. I see science literacy as kind of a vaccine against charlatans who would try to exploit your ignorance.”

Neil DeGrasse Tyson promotes and encourages critical thinking. He is able to do so using popular culture, through social media, television and his podcast. He makes science inviting and exciting. There is no question he is the most popular astrophysicist in America today.

After the last couple of weeks in class, I’m almost ashamed to do this assignment. The question is, “Where do YOU go when you want to find out the facts?” And to be quite honest…Google. I Google like crazy. Having a hard time helping my kids with their math homework…Google. Need to find stress management techniques for a presentation in my Social Services class…Google. Trying to find alternate words to express myself more eloquently in a scholarship essay…GOOGLE!!! When I check my search history it appears I average around 70 searches a week. Which, oftentimes, leads me to Wikipedia. That (and ehow.com) happens to be the top site visited in my history. I always thought, “Gee! A free encyclopedia? Can’t go wrong there.” Oh how wrong could I be?
Did you know anyone can publish information on almost any subject on Wikipedia? It doesn’t have to be an expert or even an educated person. It might not stick but what if you’re searching oh, say the heavy metal umlaut and you find it on Wikipedia in the 2 minutes that some bad information was published. Well, crap, won’t you feel foolish when you cite said bad information in your next discussion on the subject.
Let’s, for a moment and for the sake of my assignment, take a look at my other top information gathering site, eHow. I travel here roughly maybe once a week. The last time I remember visiting this site was to figure out how to write a resume for a volunteer position. I’ve never checked the credibility (until now) but I gather the information I need and discard anything that doesn’t seem useful. According to the “about us” on the website their information comes from professionals in various fields. When checking out the various articles you can click on the author and decide for yourself if they are a credible source to gather information from. Are they educated? Do they have a degree in their area of expertise? Are they biased?
Fortunately, I am learning to think critically. Something I’m sure Ive done in the past but now I’m doing it more consciously and consistently. So, as far as this “quest” goes I’ve failed in the past. I haven’t paid attention to credibility or accountability aside from a gut feeling of “I think this website seems fishy” or “This seems legit.” However, now I am learning what to look for and how to better verify if it really is legit. I will be more cautious when using Wikipedia and I will check the facts I find there. I am shaking my head in embarrassment as I think of my instructor reading this post but hey, at least I’m being honest. I’m admitting I have a problem, which is the first step. My name is Jami and I’m a Googawikiholic.

Aye!  There she be!  The beautiful wild argument.  I came across her in The New York Times, caught her and will now proceed to dissect her.  Here we go…

http://nyti.ms/1t9O3Ii

The editorial I chose is High Time: An Editorial Series on Marijuana Legalization; Intro: Repeal Prohibition, Again.  The thesis, or argument being made is that the federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.

The first piece of evidence given to support the conclusion is that 3/4 of the states have already either legalized medicinal use, reduced penalties for possession, or legalized recreational use.  When I Googled “Marijuana Legalization,” I came across Medical Marijuana ProCon.org and found that 23 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use.  On norml.org, there is a handy little map that told me that 15 states have decriminalized marijuana and of course, I think we all know by now that it is legal in Colorado and Washington. There is a little overlap and some states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal use have also decriminalized the possession of marijuana but from what I have found, I was able to verify this information.

The next premise is that the ban on marijuana is harmful to society.  They cite statistics from the FBI saying that in 2012, there were 658,00 arrests related to marijuana possession, while there were only 256,000 arrests for cocaine and heroin.  Following the link in the article to the FBI website, I was able to see the same information for myself.  It is more of an opinion that these arrests create a social problem but it is one that they explore further in a different segment in this series.

The last piece of evidence presented that I will explore is the statement that “Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults.” The author concludes that it is less dangerous than alcohol.  This is where it becomes tricky to find unbiased information.  It seems there are a lack of studies on the long-term effects of marijuana use on health.  It may cause respiratory problems when smoked but it is unknown if it can lead to cancer.  I could not find evidence of any marijuana overdoses.  According to the CDC, excessive alcohol use leads to approximately 88,000 deaths per year and can result in alcohol poisoning, accidents, violence, high blood pressure, certain cancers, social problems and more.  However, the information about marijuana use was limited and seemed to be grouped together with other illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

So there you have it; an argument, stripped down, pulled apart and analyzed.