Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Contemporary Great Gatsby


The book The Wolf of Wall Street (2008) is a story about greed and excess in American capitalism. It is the true story of a man called Jordan Belfort who was bankrupt at the age of 24, but by the age of 26 was making nearly a million dollars a week selling penny stocks on Wall Street through his company Stratton Oakmont. This company functioned as a boiler room marketing the stocks and defrauding investors with fraudulent stock sales. He was indicted by the FBI in 1998 for securities fraud and money laundering, receiving a four year sentence. Belfort was ordered to pay $110 million in restitution. The story was the inspiration for the 2000 movie Boiler Room and the 2014 movie called The Wolf of Wall Street (ironically with Leonardo Di Caprio playing the lead role.) Similarities between Belfort’s story and The Great Gatsby include, both Belfort and Gatsby acquired their wealth through illegal means, both got caught in their lies, both were born into poor families, both lived lavish lifestyles and both ended up being punished, although in much different ways. Belfort was sent to jail, whilst Gatsby was killed.

                This story speaks about the nature of success and how we measure it, much like The Great Gatsby. Belfort’s story can be seen to symbolise all that is wrong with the idea of success in America, he had to lie, cheat and manipulate people so he could gain wealth and success and a glamorous lifestyle. For all this he was celebrated by many as one of the great investors of his time, breaking company records and throwing lavish parties. Though he struggled much like Gatsby and was found out much like Gatsby, I believe his story can be seen as a contemporary Great Gatsby.  

The two links below are for the trailers of the films Boiler Room and The Wolf of Wall Street.
 
 

A Contemporary Great Gatsby

Kacey Musgraves is a country singer based in Nashville, but born in Golden, Texas and writes mainly about the small town Southern life that limits life possibilities and chances. Her song 'Merry Go Round' is from her album 'Same Trailer Different Park' and is one of many songs to criticise this lifestyle.

She describes the working class lifestyle (although it is lower than working class as none of them have jobs and all have children by the age of 21) and the way in which they all follow the tradition of going to Church every Sunday and having children, and it's not really what they want but are obliged to meet these traditional expectations. This song can be likened to 'The Great Gatsby' in that it is a social commentary that criticises the working class lifestyle, in a similar way that Nick criticises the upper class lifestyle of Gatsby, Daisy and Tom. Nick states in the first chapter, 'Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn', suggesting that he initially doesn't approve of Gatsby's extravagant lifestyle although he soon becomes accustomed to it. Nick does not come from a great deal of money but education instead, and at first, only sees Gatsby as a negative representation of the upper class and the effect that this lifestyle has on the characters soon becomes evident. By arriving at the conclusion in Chapter 9 that 'Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life' shows how the wealth, glamour and fast paced lifestyle of New York in the East only creates tension and pressure for the characters when compared to the more traditional and moral West, as it would have been less developed than the East at that time.

This reference to the importance of geography and the expectation that comes with a geographical location is reflected in Kacey Musgraves song. For example, 'If you ain't got two kids by 21 you're probably going to die alone', '...it don't matter if you don't believe come Sunday morning, you best be there in the front row like you're supposed to' and 'tiny little boxes in a row ain't what you want it's what you know' all describe the traditional and oppressive lifestyle of the South and how similarly to New York in 'The Great Gatsby', the location plays a key part in what behaviour is expected. Musgraves calls the Southern way of life a 'broken merry go round' because it will not stop but will keep repeating itself with each generation and this could be linked to the Eastern way of life that was present during the 1920's (in Gatsby's lifetime) because when money, glamour and a pressurised lifestyle is concerned, tension and stress will always be put onto the people experiencing it.

Gatorade advert



This commercial for Gatorade is from March of this year. It tells the story of Gatorade from its creation in 1965, to help the Florida Gators when playing in hot weather. It shows some of the most iconic sports men and women in American history such as Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade, Serena Williams and Peyton Manning. Gatorade can be seen as a symbol of success, with the iconic Gatorade shower created in the mid 1980’s. The process involves throwing a tub full of the drink over the coach or star player of the winning team. The advert shows how the drink has helped each of these players and teams become successful with the final shots show an unknown athlete training with the taglines “continue the legend” and “win from within”. These two taglines represent how the company wants to be seen by the American public, as an ingredient to success. Although originally started as a sports drink, today it is consumed by non-athletes as a stimulant drink. This shows how America consumes things differently from what they were originally intended for. In this way Gatorade can be compared to jeans.           
Sorry its late.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Chevy

 
 
 
 
The Chevrolet car brand was created in 1911 by a Swiss-born racing car driver and the reasons for its popularity stems from "Having a popularly priced, made-in-America vehicle is important for the country. Some element of national pride is involved," says Jack Nerad, an executive editorial director and market analyst for kbb.com (Kelley Blue Book's - a car sales website). As Americans value their national pride extremely, it only seems fitting that a truck made in their own country  should become a part of their pride and a reason for their pride. America is a country known for its consumerism and it can only be seen as a good thing that the Chevy has been the fuel for their car culture and that they are supporting their own car industry by doing so.
The Chevy has become such an American symbol and it even has a strong presence in songs when demonstrating the freedom that it represents. It has a particular tendency to appear in Country songs (which are the epitome of Americana), with such examples ranging from Shania Twain: 'He can have a '55 Chevy or a fancy little pick-up truck' to Taylor Swift: 'Just a boy in a Chevy truck' to Alan Jackson: 'Well we fogged up the windows in my old Chevy'. Not only does it symbolise freedom and is a classic road trip car, but (particularly in Taylor Swift's case) the idea of innocence and the idea of romance always seem to go hand in hand with the introduction of a Chevrolet.
Their designs have been called 'beautiful' (particularly the Camaro) and are so well designed and built that they have a longevity that seems to out do other brands. The normality of getting a Chevy as a first car and keeping it for years and years is so common in America, and its ability to not only trascend through generations, but also for its popularity to last, proves how the Chevy is a symbol of American values.

Nike Advertisement



 Nike, inc. is an American multinational corporation. Nike promotes the idea that if you are determined to succeed you will excel and therefore you should 'Just do it'. I chose this commercial advertising their 'Become Legendary' product line.  This advert features Michael Jordan, who is considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time as well as perfect icon of media culture, therefore being such an influential figure to young aspiring athletes, it is likely that the message being portrayed will inspire young people to work hard and become successful. He is also considered to be a promoter of racial equality, used to illustrate that the 'American dream' can be obtained by anyone in America, regardless of your race. The video represents the notion of the 'American dream' as throughout the advert he states that he had to work extremely hard to get to where he is today. He says 'Maybe I led you to believe that basketball was a God given gift, and not something I work for every single day of my life.' This ad inspires people to not give up on their dreams as Jordan states himself 'Maybe I made you think that every shot I took was a game winner, that my game was built on flash and not fire.' Overall, I think the advert illustrates that it is not the shoes, it's what you do in them. 

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The American Dream in Ragged Dick.

"The basic American promise that if you work hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college." - Barack Obama

This contemporary statement uses the idea of the American Dream in regards to the notion that hard work will pay off. As long as you work hard, you will be rewarded.

In Ragged Dick it could be argued that Dick himself embodies this, in that although he is a boy on the streets, it is his hard work and determination that enable him to slowly move up in life. However, there is also the fact that some people manage to see promise in Dick, and it could be argued that if it wasn't for them, then Dick would not have managed to achieve as much as he has.

This statement is also in keeping with the idea of individual success, in this case having a job that you can aspire to be successful in. This idea matches that of the notion of success in Ragged Dick, for example, thanks to his wit and street-smarts Dick is able to overcome many of his problems, and save money that he has gathered from his hard work and wit. Although, many argue that it Dick's luck alone which allows him to succeed. However, if Dick had not had to survive by working, then he wouldn't know how to act in order to help himself get further, and it is his experiences which have helped him be able to use his determination and hard work to help him succeed. 

In order for Dick to have a successful life, he needed to work hard, and this statement highlights the message, by telling American's that hard work will lead to an enjoyable and full life. And that even if you come from poverty, or are not well-off you can become comfortable in the future if you only work hard.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

American Dream & Ragged Dick

The notion of the 'American dream' is shown by those today, who although had lived a poor and troubled past have become highly successful through their pure determination and hard work, such as Dick's perserverance to become 'spectable' in 'Ragged Dick'. An example of someone who had developed from 'rag to riches' was John D. Rockefeller who started off in poverty yet through his hard work he became the first 'business superstar' by creating the standard oil company which dominated the oil industry.

Rockefeller was raised single handedly by his mother who had taught him the value of hard work, such as Fosdick teaches Dick. In 'Ragged Dick' Dick was street smart which allowed him to flourish and Rockefeller's analytical skills led to his success. In addition, such as 'Ragged Dick' Rockefeller's story can also be considered as 'rags to respectability' and not 'rags to riches' as the wealth which Rockefeller had created was largely given out to charities. He said 'Having been endowed with the gift I possess, I believe it is my duty to make money and still more and to use the money I make for the good of my fellow man according to the dictates of my conscience.' This shows that in both cases, the idea of the 'American Dream' was not merely to increase their wealth, rather the hard work which they endured  was to achieve a better life for themselves.

Rockefeller also had the luck of others to guide him. He states that without his wife 'I would be a poor man.' Such as Dick would have been if he had no one willing to educate him.  

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Pro or Anti Gun Control?


This article reveals that according to FBI statistics from the beginning of 2012, approximately 25 people are murdered every day in shootings in the USA. This number is aggressively high, with around 9125 deaths per year and a sharp rise in massacres such as the one that happened at Sandy Hook many people are advocating higher regulations on gun control. But there are still people who lobby for more relaxed weapon regulations. Many people blame popular culture for the rise in gun crime but if you look at the statistics they show little to no correlation between violent scenes in video games and gun crime. It may also be poignant to mention that the united states has the most lenient weapons regulations out of the countries on this table.

In this review of the documentary, ‘Assaulted: Civil Rights under Fire’, by Kris Koenig, the New York Times is showing a side of the argument that is rarely popularised. Something that is often heard is the argument that if a burglar came into somebody's house, that somebody should be allowed to open fire. But the documentary takes on a much more complex question as it asks if women, homosexuals and those with disabilities should be able to carry weapons as self-defence from hate crimes, it argues that these people are vulnerable and guns are reasonable protection. But surely if these so called "vulnerable" people are allowed to be carrying weapons, then their assailants are more likely to be as well. The documentary even goes as far as to state that Pro-Gun Control laws are akin to the tyranny of dictators such as Hitler or Stalin. This shows how passionate and serious American citizens are about their second amendment rights and this could be seen as a reason that they should not be armed.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Pro and Anti Gun Control in America

Pro Gun Control
http://handguncontrol.org/
This Web page is in favour of controlling the use of guns in America. It has many articles featuring news of recent shootings, as well as containing presidential and legislation updates. For example the site advertises Brady’s Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, as well as featuring facts and statistics about Gun Violence. The website is as of recently, promoting background checks on anyone who wishes to own a gun.

There are many articles featuring Obama, and they are of varying opinion. President Obama has been a driving force behind stricter laws, especially after the shooting in Newtown. He announced plans for stricter gun laws in early 2013, such as proposing to pass a new ban on assault weapons and limiting the amount of magazines. However, he is a controversial point on both sides of the argument, because he was expected to renew the Firearms act that had recently expired, but never did.

Anti-Gun Control

http://www.nraila.org/
The NRA-ILA webpage is a website which is very clearly pro-guns in America. It was established in 1975, and the Institute for Legislative Action is is known as the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association. The website promotes gun ownership and is against the idea of stricter gun control being enforced. The NRA is well known for their Anti-Gun Control views, and teamed together with the ILA, are able to make a clearer argument as the ILA is involved in any issue that directly or indirectly affects firearms ownership and use. The site features news and opinions, all to related to gun ownership and use, and Obama is often referenced to as meeting with officials about gun control laws. An article from this year, explains how gun related accidents have dramatically fallen, arguing their case that guns are not harmful, and "the odds are more than a million to one, against a child in the U.S. dying in a firearm accident."

I myself, happen to be pro gun control, especially when it comes to children and all the horrifying statistics. It is incomprehensible to me how easy it can be for anyone to buy, carry or own a gun. Although, it is obviously because of my environment, and how rare this kind of thing is in Britain.To counter the American view, I'm sure the majority of British people have never even touched a real gun. However, I do understand this view, as it is far more a part of their culture and seen as "American" in practice. Hunting is obviously a very popular activity and if it has been enjoyed for their entire lives, one can see why they might perhaps want to continue.

Pro and Anti Gun Control

Pro Gun Control: http://www.americanprogress.org/

The website above is for a think tank called Centre for American Progress (CAP), which whilst describing themselves as non partisan is regarded by most to be a liberal think tank which promotes all liberal ideals, which includes strict gun control laws. They provide a section of their website to articles about guns and gun laws and all are looking at the issue from a negative perspective. Many articles show the negative impact of guns on America and look at how the government can get rid of the second Amendment. Some include promotion for anti gun activists while others talk about the weak gun law states, such as Florida, which has the 'stand your ground' law.

Anti Gun control: https://www.tsra.com/

The Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA) is an organisation that was set up in 1919 which promotes gun ownership in Texas. They support and sponsor shooting matches and teams from Texas, as well as supporting anti gun control measures. Its slogan 'Protecting Texas Gun Rights Since 1919' is a clear statement of support for gun ownership. It also proudly states it is a friend of the National Rifle Association on its homepage. Its mission statement contains three simple missions; to champion and support the rights of Texans to own and enjoy firearms; to protect and defend the inalienable rights of the individual Texan to acquire, possess, transport, carry, transfer ownership and enjoy firearms; to support junior education and rifle teams in Texas.

Both websites promote their beliefs either obviously like the TSRA website does or more subtly like CAP's does. Whilst CAP doesn't endorse political figures the TSRA has its own Political Action Committee which promotes candidates that support gun rights. However the websites wouldn't usually be viewed by people who are of opposing views to the websites, so you could argue the beliefs they promote are not likely to change minds.        

Pro and Anti Gun Control

Anti-gun control:
http://www.gunsandammo.com/caption-contests/
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/guns-ammo-editor-apologizes-to-outraged-readers-for-publishing-pro-gun-control-editorial

As 'Guns and Ammo' is the most popular shooting magazine in the United States, it is obvious that they don't support gun control. Their magazine and online magazine focus on the idea of shooting as a hobby and of collecting guns as a hobby. There are sections such as the 'Guns and Ammo Holiday Gift Guide' and the promotion of buying guns like they are normal gifts is a shocking concept to British audiences, particularly as we hold the Firearms Act which bans the free ownership of guns but requires them to be registered; a law that 'Guns and Ammo' readers would find shocking. They were coincidentally outraged when Jim Bequette ('Guns and Ammo' editor) wrote an article vying for gun control saying that it wouldn't impede on the Second Amendment, only to be met with magazine boycott threats and his firing from the magazine. This demonstrates how much Americans value guns in their everyday lives, especially considering that the magazine tends to promote gun use like an innocent sport.
There is also a 'Caption Contest' section which is perhaps the most difficult to articulate as it makes gun handling seem humorous and joke worthy. For example, the fact that there are pictures of foxes and cats yielding guns along side a man holding probably an eight foot long gun show just how carelessly and inappropriate some Americans can be towards gun ownership, and how their agreement with gun control is still very absent.

I support gun control because I believe that the free ownership of guns causes more problems than it does protection. For example, in America more than half of all murders begin from arguments with friends, family or lovers and more Americans are killed by guns each week than each year in all of Western Europe. However, I can see how the freedom to carry guns provides the feeling of protection and therefore power and that shooting can be an innocent sport to give a sense of camaraderie amongst friends, but the evidence seems to show that the idea of gun control should be taken more seriously than it is.

Pro-gun control:
http://www.bradycampaign.org/

The 'Brady Campaign for Gun Control' was founded in 1974 (under a different name) in the attempt to control handguns after Dr. Mark Borinsky was robbed and nearly killed at gunpoint. All of the people involved in the organisation have had an experience with gun violence, whether it be being shot themselves or knowing somebody, and this helps the organisation's appeal to support due to the reality of gun violence.
The 'Brady Campaign' fights for sensible gun laws that address gun violence at the federal and state level. Supporters of the 'Brady Campaign' are the American public and electing officials and they show their support for gun control through various demonstrations, the education of people about gun violence and gun safety, the honouring of gun violence victims and the receiving of donations towards their campaign for gun control.
The 'Brady Campaign' is a very relatable approach to the reality of gun violence and its reputation in America. It is a worthy cause and is a movement in the right direction towards the making of gun control normality.


Pro and anti gun control

Pro Gun control:
http://csgv.org/

The 'Coalition to stop gun violence' believes that all Americans have a right to live in a community free from gun violence and thus seeks to secure freedom from gun violence through many strategies to keep guns away from violent individuals.
The CSGV consists of 48 organizations and the website appears to be very convincing as it includes news articles, facts and figures to back up its arguments. For example, the website states that 40% of gun sales are made without any background checks which therefore gives convicted felons, the  mentally ill etc, unchecked access to firearms and therefore a background check is deemed necessary. For example, they aim to prohibit individuals who are on the government watch list from purchasing guns. However a problem with this is that it although an individual may have a clean background, they still may purchase a firearm with bad intentions in the future.  Or despite their violent past, some may wish to purchase a gun in self defence yet would not be able to do so.

Anti gun control:

This website states that 'Guns don't kill people, gun control laws kill people'
It states that gun control laws are not necessarily putting an end to gun violence in the U.S, stating that "Gun-free" zones are actually "Free killing" zones as gun control laws prohibit the people from protecting themselves. I think the websites arguments are convincing as for example, it states that the perpetrator is aware that he is entering a gun free zone and therefore acknowledges that the victims have no way to protect themselves. Thus, the constitution believes it is in each man and woman's right  to serve as self defenders and to be adequately armed in order to protect themselves.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

American Progress by John Gast (circa 1872)


This painting, ‘American Progress’ by John Gast is a representation of the so called 'new west'. It represents the modernised east taking over the more archaic west, bringing technology and education (represented by the book).
The woman in the Centre is known as Colombia, she is a common personification of the United States in poetry and fiction in the early. She is seen to be leading the 'new' America into the west. This is shown with her being followed by trains and also by the fact that she is hanging telephone cables as she goes. Manifest Destiny is shown by both Columbia's leading on the modernised America into the dark west and also the fact that she is chasing Native American Indians away. To a 19th century audience this could be read as an allegory for "out with the old, in with the new". But to modern eyes and interpretations, this could be perceived as an example of America being unwelcoming of things that will not conform, the Native Americans wanted to retain their culture and traditions so they were cast out. The east has large undulating hills and bright sunlight whereas the west has treacherous mountains and storm clouds but Colombia seems to be leading the light into the west, pushing out the darkness as she pushes out the Native people.

Great Salt Lake, Utah

This print from Currier & Ives of Great Salt Lake in Utah shows the extent of which modernisation occurred. Although the print does not have a date on it, it is clear that Utah is a prime example of the type of towns that were created through this process. As it is on the West Coast, Utah would have been one of the last states to be modernised, although the forest and mountainous surroundings demonstrate how some remnants of the simplistic past were there as reminders as to where they have come from; both literally (due to their movement West) and mentally (from how it was before the modernisation).

The sheer number of houses in the town compared to the small scattering that would have been there previously, demonstrates the reason for modernisation that took place across America. The reason for modernisation was to create a powerful country full of opportunity and many Americans flocked across the country following the modernisation, in order to give themselves more opportunities and a new lifestyle that provided work and wealth. This new America was the foundation of the power that it would contribute to the world.











Oregon City on the Willamette River by John Mix Stanley

John Mix Stanley (1814–1872), Oregon City on the Willamette River, ca. 1850, Oil on canvas, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, 1979.17


This picture of Oregon City by John Mix Stanley was painted around 1850 when the town was fairly established having been founded in 1845. It had around 300 inhabitants and 100 houses, two churches and its own newspaper. It was one of the more prominent and successful frontier towns with a thriving fishing and lumber industry. However it had displaced the Native American tribes and also severely changed the landscape of the area.

                The image itself depicts an idyllic town bathed in sunshine it shows the houses, churches, and mills all set out along the main street adjacent to the Willamette River surrounded by hills and trees. It is an image that would appeal to an American from the east who believed the west to be the land of plenty. In the foreground we have two Indians with their backs turned toward the village one leaning against his gun with an almost resigned posture. The other is sitting down like she has given up trying to fight it. They are sat high above the town near some felled trees which shows that their landscape is being changed for the worse. Also they seem to be in the shadows or darkness, whereas the village itself is in the light showing that they are being pushed out. Without the presence of the two Indians the image would have a total different feel and meaning to it.

                The presence of the Willamette Indians means that this image depicts the ‘Manifest Destiny’ because it shows them resigned to their fate. Like they can do nothing to stop the habitation of their land, like it is already written. The fact that they are in the foreground may suggest that the artist, who was well known for painting Willamette Indians, shouldn’t be forgotten in the image of the West that the East of America so often sees.      

http://www.cartermuseum.org/Inspiring_Visions/Stanley/stanley_art.html

edit AS bigger image http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/23/John_Mix_Stanley_Oregon_City_on_the_Willamette_River_Amon_Carter_Museum.jpg

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

'Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way' by Emanuel Leutze




This was painted by Emanuel Leutze in 1861, and it portrays the idea of Manifest Destiny. The border includes portraits of William Clark who opened the way for the Western settlement; and Daniel Boone, who explored Kentucky. This could represent how successful the pilgrims have been so far. The pilgrimage in the picture depicts the pioneer men and women and workers who have conquered the Natives land. The bleak valleys in the distance represents the difficulties in which the pioneers had to face in the past. For example, there is a burial in the painting with indicates that they have been grieving and have suffered terrible losses throughout their conquest.

 On the right of the valley a Native American is illustrated with a hopeless facial expression as there is nothing he can do to stop the Pilgrims from invading their territory. He is further back in the painting and has no importance as the pilgrims do not pay him any attention.

One of the men is pointing towards the distance at the valley, which implies that they are envisioning a future in which the rest of the valley becomes US territory, known as the 'promised land', as now they are struggling in the dark valley. It is their destiny to pursue the land as it represents the peace which the pilgrims can reach once they have worked hard.

Furthermore, the border includes a bald eagle, which is Americas national symbol. It is situated at the top of the border to suggest that liberty is under its wings.
There is a woman kissing her baby in the picture. She appears to be shedding tears of joy because of the hope of a better life that Manifest Destiny brings them.
In the margin below there is the Golden Gate, entrance to San Francisco bay which is what the pioneers are gazing at, offering them a sense of hope due its serene and peacefulness.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Obama Campaign Ad 2012 - Bill Clinton



 This campaign advertisement from the 2012 elections, is from the viewpoint of Bill Clinton, and how he thinks Obama's "got it right". The ad goes on to emphasize all the positive changes Obama will make during his next 4 years if he is re-elected president.

Additionally Clinton goes on to comment that all of Obama's ideas are essential if changes are to be made. Clinton states "Sound familiar?", because he had originally proposed some of these same ideas. Clinton endorsing Obama for president, would mean that any previous voters for Clinton could be more likely to vote for Obama. In opposition to this, Clinton was the second President to be impeached, and the controversy surrounding this could turn voters away from Obama.

However, the ideas Obama has about supporting the middle classes, and making the wealthy pay more succeeds to draw in many people who believe this to be a serious issue, although it may alienate the wealthy, upper class voter. In addition to this, no mention is given to those of lower classes, which could also be a problem. This however does help in explaining how the problem would be solved, rather than just stating the problem. Romney, in the same election campaign, proposed cutting the taxes of the wealthy, in the same way, alienating everyone else.

The ad starts with the idea of Obama being criticized and how Clinton himself was criticized by the same people, who believed his ideas were going to destroy jobs, he goes on to say how they were proved wrong when they created millions of new jobs. This implies that "they" are also wrong about Obama, effectively asking Americans to ignore any negative messages on Obama. 

Many Presidential campaign ads follow the same line, in that they are always promoting change, and tackling huge problems, yet when they fail to follow through, they're criticized for it. Topics such as education and healthcare are reoccurring issues, which Obama also claims to want to change for the better, and other ads for Obama in 2012 highlight all the changes that have occurred in the previous 4 years that Obama was president, such as his reform on the student loans system, making college more affordable.

Mitt Romney campaign ad 2012

Mitt Romney's ad for 'Too many Americans' seems to be designed in order to restore confidence  to Americans that he cares about America. As previously he had claimed that 47% of Americans fail to take their own responsibility of their lives and are dependent government aid, thus, he tries to reconnect with low income and middle class voters. He claims that only his policies will lead to economic growth.
Yet he removes himself from association with Americans as he refers to the middle class Americans as 'them'. He states 'President Obama and I both care about poor and middle-class families. The differences is my policies will make things better for them.' However, the way he stares straight into the camera appeals to voters in a more personal way over their economic concerns.

His states that he plans to create 12 million new jobs in order help 'lift families out of poverty and strengthening the middle class.  However, could this really have been accomplished? as he doesn't state a single policy which will strengthen the middle class.  He visions for a better America yet this has been a recurring theme throughout  presidential  elections.

Obama 2012 Campaign Ad

In his campaign for the renewal of his Presidency in 2012, Obama focuses on American ideals that are central to the country. For example, his plan to create more jobs, particularly in the industrial and educational sectors relate back to the American ideals of hard work and how securing themselves with a strong background can help to keep America as strong as it is today for the next generation. The idea of encouraging students into education by reducing fees and expanding student aid is a key concept of Obama's that reinforces the importance of the growing generation.
He also states that he wants to reduce deficit by $4 trillion dollars, meaning that the government will therefore be able to 'rebuild' America as he later says because they will be spending less; a factor which is important when considering that it is the great superpower of the world (hence his decision to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, as this is often a controversial topic). The Afghan war is a subject that remains at the forefront of politics and the suggestion that all troops will be withdrawn by the end of 2014 demonstrates Obama's knowledge of the importance of having a clean slate as a country by limiting the controversy surrounding them as a nation.
Factors such as education, work and international issues are always at the forefront of politics, particularly American politics, as they are always striving to be the best and their belief in the power of hard work is highly evident and the fact that high-powered politicians are striving to make people the best that they can is no new idea when discussing American politics.

Ronald Reagan 1984

This is an advert for Ronald Reagan from the 1984 presidential race against Walter Mondale in which Reagan won 49 of 50 states, the largest majority in America's history. This advert is one of the most famous political adverts of all time, originally titled 'Prouder, Stronger, Better' it has become known simply as "Its morning again in America."
Almost all political campaigns talk about a new era or new beginning and this is no different, however it is odd that at this time things are going well in America but it still talks about 'morning in America' which is a metaphor for renewal. Since Reagan was the incumbent President, to talk of renewal or a new era could be seen as an odd message to give out. The main issues at this time were high inflation, the economy, the soviet union/arms race and less government interference. These are all issues that we are dealing with today, in one way or another, so it would be easier to say instead of new era's, the politics of America is a cycle in which the same issues come back around.
The message the advert is sending is that people are working in America, life is good because; people are getting married and buying new homes and that you needn't be worried, you can be confident in America. The voice over is by Hal Raney, who also wrote the advert, his voice is very calming and reassured which helps with the overall theme that everything is fine. The images shown are of people happy, care free, calm and confident, again this helps to send out the message that America is fine.

Monday, 4 November 2013


Something which immediately set America aside as a new and innovative society was their lack of an inbuilt upper class. The people who became more wealthy and powerful worked for their privilege as opposed to being born into it as the royal or otherwise moneyed people in Europe often were. This brought into the forefront of people’s consciousness the idea that working hard was a thing that was to be valued and respected.

“Americans work to live while Europeans live to work”

This proverb is one which could be applied to the early settlers of the Americas and could still be used to describe the outlook of people today. De Crevecoeur displays to us, through his glorification of labour, that it is an honourable thing to work for a living. This contrasts with the more
European viewpoint in which pale skin and delicacy was venerated because the less a person was out in the sun labouring the more money they were likely to have because they had other people to do those most strenuous tasks.

I think that De Crevecoeur was portraying this innovative opinion of the American work ethic as positive, the European view is, and was, a less industrious and more leisure focussed one and this could be construed the upper classes separating themselves from the more work focussed, more American, lower classes.
Not everyone has posted...

Sunday, 3 November 2013

The New American


"Are not these blacks thy children as well as we?"

De Crevecoeur had the idea that, upon arriving in America, a European would no longer be European, but a new man, an American.

This idea of immigration to America, and then throwing away all ties to your previous country, is still prevalent today, and Crevecoeur assumes, why would you want to be ties to your old country, when you had nothing. 

"The indulgent laws, protect them as they arrive, stamping on them they symbol of adoption", implying that you become an American through adoption. You become a new person, and can start fresh a new life. The reason I chose this image, was because I believe this embodies the idea of a new American, or in some cases, a new second generation American. The Pledge of Allegiance is said in most schools in America, and all children, no matter race or religion, share the common factor that they are American. Which is no wonder america is referred to as a 'melting pot'.

However, Crevecoeur's idea that the new american leaves his past behind, could be argued to be not as true, as American's tend to be proud of their ancestry and heritage, no matter where from.

Additionally, the blacks who were once slaves, are now considered American, despite their beginnings as slaves in america. De Crevecoeur, in "Letters from an American Farmer", clearly wonders why blacks can't also become this New American,  "Are not these blacks thy children as well as we?", and wishes them to be put out of their misery, yet is left at a loss. The society of America today, is far more equal, but still has a way to go.

However, the New American, as proposed by Crevecoeur, is still surviving today, as this image proves.

http://qz.com/95845/how-elite-universities-are-killing-the-american-dream/

Religion in America and De Crevecoeur



The idea of religion in America is one that makes it stand out as an exceptional country. It has the power to create unification, similarity and a sense of community amongst Americans and the strength of the countrys religion is one that can be admired throughout the world.
De Crevecoeur notes the flowing and easy nature of religion by saying '[The] lord religion demands but little of him; a small voluntary salary to the minister, and gratitude to God; can he refuse these?' and I believe that this still reflects the contemporary American view of religion, in that they think nothing of their 'small' devotion to God, but to an outsider, their devotion may be seen as somewhat extreme and consuming.
He also notices how America stands out as one of the remaining countrys to practise their religion throughly as 'the strict modes of Christianity as practised in Europe are lost also', providing a stark contrast between America and its neighbours.
The picture above shows the normality of religion and its prescence in the American everyday life. The word 'worship' is relevant in the sense that they literally do worship God to a big extent. Religion is not only a small part of the community as it is, particularly in England (and even then, there are few church communities) but in America, they have communities because of religion and it builds a fundamental and recognisable part of their representation to the rest of the world.
Their devotion to God is always present whether it be in political demonstrations, films, songs and because of this it has become apparent that one of the reasons as to why America can be labelled as exceptional, and even new, is because of it's huge devotion to God and the sense of community that is provided because of this is something that can be admired by other countrys. The way that America can be called 'new' is because of its idea surrounding religion and how it is one of the few countrys to take religion so seriously and perhaps this is the new way of thinking, in the way that it creates such a strong community.

De Crevecoeur


One important concept which De Crevecoeur discusses is the fact that an American is
'Neither an European, nor the descendent of an European...' He states that an American leaves behind his 'Antient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds.'
 This was evident during the 18th century as there was a 'Mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans and Swedes.'
However in this day of age it is evident that the vision of America can be considered as flourishing even more than before.
For example, the picture above shows Obama's diverse coalition of supporters in the new, emerging America. It states under the photograph that 'Blacks and Hispanics and other minority voters can no longer be ignored.' Therefore this shows that America has progressed since De Crevecouer's time.
As during his time, slavery was a dominant feature in their way of life. He states 'They are branded like cattle, and then driven to toil, to starve, and to languish, for a few years, on the different plantations of these citizens. And for whom must they work? For persons they know not, and who have no other power over them than that of violence.'
However, now they are no longer dehumanised but treated as equal. This is evident through the source which portrays the image of a diverse nation coming together in celebration of the first black president. Thus, now there is a sense of 'national pride' which De Crevecoeur discusses, yet now it it has brought more nationalities together. 

Source: 
http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/2012/11/07/barack_obamas_win_heralds_the_rise_of_multicultural_america.html 

 

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

De Crevecoeur American Farmer



When I read the second letter in De Crevecoeur’s book I immediately thought of this advert for Ram pick-ups from last year’s Superbowl. The speech heard is by Paul Harvey a radio news presenter who was addressing the Future Farmers of America Convention in 1978.  The advert talks about the hard work and ingenuity of the American farmer and links to the American being exceptional in this case specifically the farmers of America.
When it talks about “needing someone strong enough to clear trees”, De Crevecoeur talks of this as an essential job for the American farmer, to build a house or barn. De Crevecoeur talks about spending a lot of time in the woods looking out for the wildlife such as bees. He also talks about caring for the birds, either building nests for them or housing them in his barn or giving them seed in the winter. This is represented in the advert/speech with the line “who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark”. The central theme of the speech is religion and in the letters religion is mentioned often, De Crevecoeur talks a lot about what religion people are and when they meet and what they do in those meetings. I think just about every line in the advert/speech can have an example from De Crevecoeur’s letters.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

An Encounter with the Native Indians (Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca)

Sources: http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/resources/archives/one/cabeza.htm
               http://www.americanjourneys.org/aj-070/summary/index.asp

This particular Spanish explorer has been considered to be perhaps revolutionary when it comes to his accounts with the native Indian's, as he expressed distaste at they way they had been treated by the Spanish. He was second in command to a fellow explorer whose aim was to claim the land from Florida to Mexico for Spain (although he was lost on a boat shortly after the expedition began in 1528) and after his leader's death, travelled to Texas where he came across Indian's.
However, the native Indian's that he captured in Florida also proved to be valuable resources. He writes that 'to whom we showed maize in order to find out if they knew it, for until then we had seen no trace of it. They told us that they would take us to a place where there was maize and they led us to their village', proving that natives were indeed valuable resources contrary to the thought that native American's were often seen as redundant and at the edges of society because the land that they occupied was considered to be of more value than themselves (although de Vaca's use of their knowledge could be showing the way in which he is 'using' them, but I think their redundancy refers more to them being ignored by non-natives).
This idea of submission can be seen when de Vaca notes 'my barge went ahead, and from it we saw five Indian canoes coming. The Indians abandoned them and left them in our hands, when they saw that we approached' showing that the Indian's saw the explorer and his men as threats and were trying to avoid confrontation by giving over their supplies, as they probably knew how the European explorers would treat them, although the Spaniard always seemed to treat them differently.
Particular evidence of this can be seen in their reaction to de Vaca's news of the death of several of his men, because they 'upon seeing the disaster we had suffered, our misery and distress... sat down with us and all began to weep out of compassion for our misfortune, and for more than half an hour they wept so loud and so sincerely that it could be heard far away.'
The explorer's value of the natives is evident when he says 'after we had dispatched the Indians in peace, and with thanks for what they had gone through with and for us', therefore foreshadowing his later campaign in Spain (1545) for the kinder treatment of the Indian's.
Although after this advocacy of rights de Vaca was accused of malfeasance in office (an unlawful act done in an official capacity) and sent to Africa, his attempts to change the ways in which the natives were treated can still be considered as revolutionary.
Why have only three people posted?!

Journal of a Widow, travelling from Boston to New York.

I chose this journal, as I thought it would be interesting to see what the female perspective on settling and the early years in America were like.

Sarah Kemble Knight was a Widow and mother of one, began her journey to New York to finish some family business, after her cousin's death. She left her only child with her aging mother while she traveled. She hired a 'Mr. Wheeler' to guide her from Boston to New Haven, once there she remarks "They are Govern’d by the same Laws as we in Boston", but she appears to worry about whether they are religious or not. She notes they also seem very independent in their principles, which she finds troubling. However she is pleased upon learning that crimes are punished justly, and that even an innocent kiss between young people, often end in whipping.

In New Haven, she also hears about a black slave stealing and calls him a "Heathen", and then tells the tale of what occurs, and how the "Indian" was seized and questioned and that the people in the company "fell into a great fit of Laughter, even to Roaring" when he tries to proclaim innocence.

Travelling further, along the coastline, she seems disgusted by the familiarity between slave and master, and how they are allowed to eat at the table. She accounts yet another tale about a black slave who went to court with his master and the court ordered "the master to pay 40s [shillings] to black face and
acknowledge his fault". At this point her account seems to ramble and go off on tangents, which questions the reliability of her account. She begins to remind me of Chaucer's "The Wife of Bath's Prologue and tale", with her similar affinity to bend the truth and go off on a tangent, as The Wife of Bath.

I found it very interesting that she was treated so well, with little to her name, as she calls herself "unworthy handmaid", and that so many people she came across were very kind to her. Additionally it was interesting to hear her perspective on black slaves and the "Natives of the Country" whom she calls "the most savage of all the savages of that kind that I had ever Seen" and seems rather hostile in her description of them. She seems appalled with their customs, such as marriage to more than one woman. I found her journal a most interesting insight of early settlers.

http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/becomingamer/growth/text1/connecticutknight.pdf


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

A Map of Virginia: With a Description of the Country, the Commodities, People, Government and Religion by John Smith (1612)

I have chosen this book and in particular the section of it written by Captain John Smith (who was also sometimes considered the Governor of the country) in the early 1600's because I believe it offers an insight into what a European settler would be faced with when exploring America. He talks about the landscape and the climate of the country as well as the Native tribes he encounters. Just focusing on his description of the Native Indians, we can gather a lot of information about their lives and how a settler views their lives. At the start of his description he includes some common Native Indian words and phrases and the first one that surprises me is the phrase "in how many days will there come hither more English ships", this tells me that the Indian tribes must have been very inquisitive about the new settlers arriving in their lands. Going through the book Smith talks of the Natives appearance describing their particular headdresses and the animals they choose to hang from their ear rings "a small green and yellow snake...others choose to wear a dead rat tied by the tail" Smith then talks of their ability to "lie under a tree by a fire in the worst of winter". Also describing them as "some bold, most cautelous, all savages". He moves on to talk about their houses and then their children which he says are named "according to the several humour of their parents" and are made hardy to the elements "in the coldest mornings they wash them in the rivers, and by painting and ointments so tan their skins that after a year or two, no weather will hurt them". He talks about their various medicines describing one tribe as being "so conceited that they believed any plaster would heal any hurt". When describing their religion Smith says "their chief God they worship is the divell (devil). Him they call Oke and serve him more of fear than love. They say they have a conference with him and, fashion themselves as near to his shape as they can imagine". Smith goes on to talk about their government describing it as follows "although the country people be very barbarous; yet have they amongst them such government, as that their magistrates for good commanding, and their people for due subjection and obeying, excel many places that would be counted very civil".
     I think all this would have been a very disconcerting site to an early settler coming from what they would consider to be a normal civilised and modern society in Europe to discovering people with rats hanging from their ears and worshipping the devil.

http://www.virtualjamestown.org/jsmap_large.html
http://content.wisconsinhistory.org/cdm/ref/collection/aj/id/4406
pages 79, 99, 100, 101, 108, 109, 113.

A description of the Indians of New England by Thomas Morton (1637)

I chose this account by Thomas Morton, who was one of the founders of the settlement at Mount Wollaston. He observes and provides a counter-narrative account of the Native inhabitants as he portrays their way of life mostly in a positive light.

He begins by discussing how he admires the Native community, including the fact that the Natives respect age. 'The younger men's opinion shall be heard, but the old men's opinion and councell embraced and followed.' He states that he has recorded this account in order for ignorant settlers to be 'Ashamed of their former errors in this kinde.' and that the Indians shouldn't be treated as inferior, rather it depicts that the Natives embrace their lifestyle and enabled their way of life to flourish.

Although he refers to the Natives as 'Savages' he has gone out of his way to pay close attention to understand their spiritual beliefs, although he claims that their religious beliefs just amounted to devil worship overall. He takes into account that they are good people.  'I asked him [an Indian who lived in Morton's house] who was a good man; his answer was, he that would not lie, nor steal... These, with them, are all the capital crimes that can be imagined.' So this shows that even though the Natives were depicted as savages by the Pilgrims, it actually shows that despite their uncivilised way of life, they still share many of the same moral values.

Thomas Morton seems to be in awe of the Natives way of life. He states that 'According to reason, guided only by the light of nature, these people leades the more happy and freer life, being void of care, which torments the mindes of so many Christians: They are not delighted in baubles, but in usefull things...' This shows that Thomas believes that the settlers are not paying attention to practical things, rather they are more interested in wealth.  He portrays the Native inhabitants so optimistically yet equally portrays an unflattering image of the Puritans. In contrast to most of the opinions of settlers during the 17th Century he believes that the Indians constructive yet care free lifestyle is more admirable as he says 'Their life is so void of care, and they are so loving also that they make use of those things they enjoy.'  

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Iranian Views of America

Iran is one of America's fiercest enemies and has been since 1979 after the Islamic revolution and the Iranian hostage crisis. They were once close allies but relations between the two nations are now so bad neither one even has an embassy in each others countries and since 1995 the United States has had an embargo on trade with Iran, which has crippled Irans economy. A 2013 poll showed that just 5% of Americans view Iranian influence positively, with 87% expressing a negative view, the most unfavourable perception of Iran in the world. Recently Iran has been developing nuclear power and America has been increasingly wary of this trying to block their nuclear efforts through the UN.

The first article I have linked to is an article from NPR (an American radio station) that talks to the Director of a poll that in 2008 asked over 700 Iranians what their opinion of America was. One of the benefits of this poll is that the results can be compared to an earlier poll to see if opinion is getting worse or better. Some results were more surprising than others for example the majority of people have an unfavourable view of America. Other results were more surprising for example Iranians believe that America is in control of Al Jazeera and even Al-Qaeda.

The second article is a recent article in the Tehran Times talking about how Iran's new President is a possible route to a new relationship with America and uses the recent phone call between Presidents Obama and Rouhani as a step forward in the two nations relationship, with President Rouhani calling for the 'easing of tensions' with the outside world. However this links to my third article which is an article by CBS news that talks about how despite the new Iranian leader the people of Iran still harbour much resentment towards America. This article uses the example of Iranians chanting 'death to America' and the burning of the American flag to support this opinion.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89683583

http://tehrantimes.com/component/content/article/111239-rouhani-obama-phone-call-searching-for-a-new-way-forward

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57606151/iranians-chant-death-to-america-despite-presidents-chat-with-obama/

America's relationship with China.

http://www.pewglobal.org/2012/11/01/how-americans-and-chinese-view-each-other/

This infographic shows the complex ties which America and China share, these bonds appear to be getting more and more hostile as China develops as a nation.
The fact that Americans think that the relations are positive whilst also believing that China is not trustworthy shows that there is a lot of animosity between the two powerful nations. As China has now surpassed the US as the global leading economic power, the US must compete if it wants to control the economic powers which it has managed to retain through the 2008 crash.
The 2008 global financial crisis gave scope for emerging nations such as China and Brazil to push forward with their efforts to control the economy, this poses a serious threat to US global influence.

Russian Views on America and American Society.

It took me a while to find information from a site that wasn't American, but when I did, I came to realize just how negative the Russian views on America today, truly are.

Russia and USA: Cold War already on? - English pravda.ru

I found this article to be very enlightening, and they seem to have polls on whether Russian's believe that another cold war is going to happen between Russia and America. The poll indicates that Russians tend to believe that the cause of this is due to American politicians. However the Article as a whole is not completely negative, and does state that Russia and the USA are not enemies, but merely rivals. The whole article is a discussion on the opposing views of America and Russia. "Of course, the "cold war" still affects politicians today. In home politics, it is very easy to earn some points by finding an enemy, and criticizing him. This is what US politicians like to do. " Is taken directly from the article, and is quoted from the director of Franklin D. Roosevelt Foundation for United States Studies at the Moscow State University, Yuri Rogulev.
However it is interesting to note that both positive and negative stances are taken into account in the article.

This article is one of many on this website, which is an online newspaper, and looking at a few others, they seem to be negative on a whole. Then of course we have to consider whether this is a reliable source or not. The fact that it is an online newspaper, may have you believe that they should be unbiased in their opinions, and that the facts they use could be genuine. However, the newspaper itself is associated with the Soviet Communist Party of the Russian Federation. This could mean that the paper is potentially bias. The site is known to publish conspiracy theories and the like, meaning it isn't as reputable as possible and the information may not be reliable.

Another Example of the content on this newspaper's website:

McCain - America's Voice? - English pravda.ru

Which in itself is completely negative about America, especially its politicians.

'Why Indians love America so much'

'Why Indians love America so much'

This article in the 'Asian Times' written by a New Delhi based journalist states that America's image is the best in India as it claims that 71% of Indians expressed a positive attitude towards America. This was based on Pew Global Attitudes Project survey which seems to be generally reliable as the majority of the polls conducted are many face to face interviews  therefore ensuring external validity by examining many people across the population with detail.
The website states that one of the reasons that the Indians may think so highly of the US is due to the high standards of living for ethnic Indians living in the US. It states that the Indian-American community is now the wealthiest in the US, which surprised me, but it seems valid as it was released by the US Census Bureau. However, this article was published in 2005 so it may no longer be valid. However, research has found in 2010 by the U.S census that Indian Americans have the highest house income of all ethnic groups in the US.
The article also states that it is Foreign policy which has pulled the two countries closer together. This has helped secure their own nation and the US economy has highly benefited India. Also, large American companies such as McDonald's have been set up in India and therefore as the article states, it has 'fed an army of Indian kids.' 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Cosa Pensano Gli Americani


1: Prologue
http://translate.google.it/translate?hl=en&sl=it&u=http://www.laterza.it/index.php%3Foption%3Dcom_content%26view%3Darticle%26id%3D811%26Itemid%3D101&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dcosa%2Bne%2Bpensano%2Bgli%2Bitaliani%2Bacerca%2BAmerica%26biw%3D1440%26bih%3D805


2: What Do Americans Think
http://translate.google.it/translate?hl=en&sl=it&u=http://www.laterza.it/index.php%3Foption%3Dcom_content%26view%3Darticle%26id%3D811%26Itemid%3D101&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dcosa%2Bne%2Bpensano%2Bgli%2Bitaliani%2Bacerca%2BAmerica%26biw%3D1440%26bih%3D805


Both of these links demonstrate the ideas that Italy has of the super power that is America. The first link shows how Italy considers it to be a country of reliability, uniformity, money and size, although initially and superficially not entirely different from the rest of Europe. Until that is, it is called naive - particularly due to the Americans love of writing to their local elected representatives to express a like or dislike of policies because they believe that their letters will make a difference, or worshipping one God even though they are the country with the most religious diversity and their obsession with ranking and analyzing everything (for example cars or sports), which seems strange considering the Italian way of life is built on ranking things on beauty and standard. Although when the Americans do this, it is considered to be a way of lying to the nation.

The second link explores the idea of what it means to 'belong' to America and how their ideas of belonging differ from those of Europe. Antinucci writes that race does not matter in America, but partaking in their ideological, political and institutional ideas is what creates a sense of belonging. Also, the idea that an immigrant in America is adopted as an American, which Antinucci receives with a sense of distaste as he notes that to be considered Italian, you have to have always lived there and been raised by Italian parents - a highlighting point of the difference between Italy's more traditional views and America's perhaps more welcoming views about society and the people in it. There is also the difference that the Constitution of America is what is thought to make an American 'American' - a factor which has not been noted by the Italians as being important.

I think that especially based on the negative criticisms, Italy's views of America have become apparent. For example, they are valid in the sense that they demonstrate the differences between Europe and America (as Italy can be seen as a traditional European country) and show how different the super power is to most of the world. Although because Italy is such a traditional country perhaps Antinucci's opinion towards America's 'controversial' ideals could be seen as slightly biased.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Attitude Maps.

I chose this map to show American attitudes as opposed to physical features. This map is one of more than 40 in the collection “The Atlas of Prejudice” by artist Yanko Tsvetkov. The artist describes his works in this collection as “cartographic caricatures ridiculing the worst excesses of human bigotry and narrow-mindedness”. Many of his other maps can be found here (x)


An awfully presumptuous view which seems to be held against the people of America is that they are bigoted and narrow minded, but this is only because their culture varies from ours in unexpected and ineffable ways. I think it is important to note that Tsvetkov is not American, he is from Bulgaria. Therefore the opinions which he is portraying in this work are ones which have crossed half the way around the globe to reach him via the internet and other media. This is interesting because many of these negative stereotypes are so known by Europe itself that they have almost become general stereotypes. Smelly Armpits falling right next to French Bread. The Americanisation of the european stereotypes is beginning to change the map, British tourists go to Spain and say "Hasta La Vista" as opposed to the far more common "Hasta Luego" because they associate the spanish language with American films in which they speak Latin American Spanish.

Density of Starbucks




Not only is the Starbucks Coffee brand one of the biggest exports to other countries, but also one of the most popular brands in America. On the West Coast, there is a Starbucks on every highway exit and as particularly the first diagram shows, the West Coast does have the highest population density of the shops. The first diagram is a cartogram, which uses the size of each state to show it's amount of Starbucks locations as opposed to the actual size of the state, therefore making it evident that California has the largest amount of locations.
The absence of densely populated locations in the middle of the country reflects the difference in terrains between the coasts and the middle which is more mountainous and less city like. Steph Abegg also makes the point that the amount of locations are proportionate to the state population and as California has the largest state population, it is common knowledge that it would have the most Starbucks. California's high number of Starbucks Coffee shops also reflects the nature of the state, as one filled with contemporary franchises.
The second diagram is a more graphic representation of every location in the country and clearly shows the huge dispersion of the shops around the coasts. The North of the country has the least amount of Starbucks, perhaps suggesting something about their style of living.


Sources: Steph Abegg: 'Starbucks: A West Coast Phenomenon' (stephabegg.com)
               James Davenport diagram (ediblegeography.com)

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Why have only three people posted?

Church Demographics in America.

With America being the place for religious freedom, I wanted to look at the figures for which churches are the most followed in America. You often hear about Cultic Movements and Sects originating from America, yet from the statistics above, you would simply believe that America is very religious. Yet being part of a religious group doesnt mean that these people are at all religious. In America, it is important to have a religion. The reason this image surprised me is that Baptists cover the most number of 'countries' in America, and i didnt know this beforehand. It's interesting to note that it is very compact into the south-east region of North America. It was also interesting to note that the majority of the west coast is predominately Catholic, and as a Catholic myself, I didn't know Catholicism was as spread out as this map would make it seem.

It is also interesting to note that The Latter-Day Saints are Localised to Utah and Idaho. Mormonism is the main branch of the Latter Day Saints Movement, and the majority of practicing Mormons live in the state of Utah. In addition Michigan and Iowa have the largest group calling themselves 'reformed'.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Map of American Ancestry


File:Census-2000-Data-Top-US-Ancestries-by-County.svg

Map sourced from census.gov showing information from the 2000 census.
Statistics sourced from infoplease.com and factfinder.com


Known as a nation of immigrants this map gives a breakdown of the ancestry of the people living in the different counties in the United States. From it we can see that the majority of African Americans live in the south and on the east coast, probably due to historical reasons. The percentage of the population that was African American in 2000 was 12.1% the largest minority at the time. The map also shows us that the majority of the Hispanic population lives along the Mexican border, again probably due to historical reasons. The two things that I found most interesting was the amount of people living in America with German ancestry it is the largest ancestry in America with 15.2% of the population having German ancestry. Second being Irish with 10.8%. Also the small pockets of Native Americans living in the middle of America, from once being the only residents on the land, to just 2.8% of the population having Native American ancestry in the year 2000.


'United States of shame' map


I found this map of the United States interesting as it highlights the overall bad aspects for each state when usually America is depicted as a place that we admire and is considered a proud nation and following the 'American dream'. The map somewhat exemplifies the fact that in some ways America is not something to be proud of as a nation due to the shameful labels given to each state, showing that each state has one major flaw in particular. In a way this could show that America is not progressing forward together as a nation.
For example, the map shows that Texas most shameful element is 'High school Graduation' and it has been shown that Texas has the lowest high school graduation of 78.3%, contrasting with Minnesota which has the highest (92.%) This could be due to the Texas education system, and other factors such as the fact that Texas has one of the less educated immigrant populations. 


Other examples of statistics illustrated on the map show that:
Alaska: highest suicide rate (22.1% per 100,000)
(This could evidently be due to the cold weather conditions which has been correlated with depression - (SAD) and the isolated villages which may be the reason teenage suicide in Alaska is three times the national average.
Mississippi: Highest rate of obesity  (35.3%) This may be due to the increased poverty, southern diet and cheap fast food industries.
Michigan:  'Unemployment' Highest unemployment rate (13.6%)
Colorado:  'Cocaine Use' Highest rate of cocaine use (2003 National survey on Drug use and health states that in one year the total of cocaine users was 144,000)
Iowa: 'Oldest State' Highest rate of people aged 85 and older (1.8%)

Sources
More stats found at http://www.pleated-jeans.com/2011/01/24/the-united-states-of-shame-chart/
Calculate stats http://www.statemaster.com/index.php
Colorado drug use http://www.usnodrugs.com/statistics.htm?state=Colorado&cat=cocaine
Mississippi obesity http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-08-13/obesity-rates-states/57031440/1