Week of 01/29

What has today’s hook-up culture done to our view of commitment?

Many articles have been written about America’s hook-up culture, or the youth’s tendency to skip past traditional forms of courtship. Traditionalists argue that the prevalence of social media and online dating sites like OK Cupid creates a generation of young adults who are ill-equipped to have long-lasting, mature adult relationships. Instead of a dinner and a movie, the new form of courtship takes form in the shape of an IM, a snap chat (messages that automatically delete themselves after a set time… so that anyone can now send nudie pics safely… que romantica!) or a direct message on Twitter. The lack of face-to-face interpersonal courtship, or the lack of need for, creates a culture where not showing up to a date is completely acceptable, because plans were arranged on Twitter, and plans made in 140 characters or less can just as easily be cancelled. On the other side of the argument though, some point out that the end of “courtship” is simply a result of a generation no longer hindered by old rules and expectations that are no longer relevant. The lack of rules and to-dos in how to create a relationship opens avenues for people to make connections in unexpected ways and places. Technology is here to enable connections, utilizing our resources to improve efficiency in our relationships is a good thing. Right?

Personally, I enjoy the lack of boundaries and guidelines in modern dating and in overall interpersonal relationships. I am by no means traditional, and while I don’t partake in online dating, I like the fact that if I wanted to, I wouldn’t be pegged a social stigma for creating an eHarmony profile. On the other hand, a part of me worries for our generation and our inability to commit to nearly anything. If we breed a culture where people come into our lives on a fast track, with little build-up or nurturing, then we are also breeding a culture where we let go of people just as easily. As a person who believes in partnership and loyalty, I often ponder on what my inner circle will look like 15, 20 years from now. And more importantly, I worry about the potential demise of my relationship and how maybe I live in a society that is structured to destroy it. Ultimately, each person is different and nothing is ever a one case fits all, but will our generation know how to hold on to something for good? Or is it a lost cause?

Read: NYTimes “End of Courtship”


Compliance

I recently watched the controversial film “Compliance”, a movie based on a true story about a a fast food restaurant who falls prey to a perverted prank called. Long story short, the prank called disguises himself as a cop over the phone and manages to convince the restaurant’s manager to enable and conduct multiple sexual offenses against an innocent 16 year-old employee. Sounds improbable, right? Except upon further research, the true story reveals that the real prank caller convinced 75 different locations to partake in his seemingly obvious perversion. The story plays out like a modern version of the Stanley Milgram electroshock studies in the sixties, and one has to wonder, have we not made any progress since then? Is social psychology simply so complex and powerful that no amount of lessons can affect change? For a nation that prides itself on freedom and liberty, how does any citizen manage to be tricked by a pretend cop? As an educated adult, I cringe and condescendingly gape at the stupidity of the managers who bought into the prank caller, reassuring myself that I am much smarter than that. But as days went by and the story of Compliance remained a fixture in my mind, I began to take note of my own habits of blinded obedience. For instance, my job requires occasional long hours which I don’t get overtime pay for. I’ve often justified to myself that everyone at my job works long hours, so no one is getting singled out and we should all work hard for the betterment of the company. But why? If one works more hours, one should get paid for those hours, no? Our predecessors worked hard to get laws pass to protect our right to get OT… why are we as a collective whole justifying ignoring those heroic efforts?

Have those that would benefit from our obedience done such a good job convincing us of our freedoms that we have become the most obedient group yet?

Seasonal depression is real!

For those who don’t know me, I moved to NY this past August. Up until these past few weeks, NY has been nothing but joy, inspiration and excitement. However, I’ve been catching myself staring at Instagram pictures of sunny palm trees and cascading Malibu waterfalls in LA a lot more often and with a lot more yearning. I’ve always heard about seasonal depression and frankly thought it was a boatload of bullsh-t, but I’m beginning to relate. While I’m no where near clinically depressed, I feel that the cold has made me more prone to having lower energy, doing less, eating more and as a result, weighing more, thus raising issues of insecurity. Enough about me though, the bigger issue is, how can organizations work to prevent or alleviate seasonal depression in areas where winters are brutal? As a brand, perhaps it’s as simple as sponsoring an indoor park? Or a nice little freebie here or there as a pick-me-up? This seems like it’s a pertinent issue to more than just myself, and I have yet to see a lot of brands address this. Just something to think about.

Day 15) The experiment culture, pop’s got the blues, Songs from a Room

Progress: Failure is an option after all

Read an interesting trend report from Yankelovich today examining the emerging “experimental culture”, where people are open to new approaches and have adopted a trial-and-error flexibility in the way they operate and navigate the world. Almost 72% agree that “it is important to me to try new things I have never done before, even if it may not lead to a successful outcome.” This renewed sense of ingenuity has important implications for brands still stuck on the “back-to-basics”/”better-safe-than-sorry” messaging. Although the economy is far from recovered, risk-adversity, the common blueprint for companies in the past, may appear outdated and cowardly. Consumers are looking to be energized by companies willing to try new things, or companies inspiring consumers to take a leap of faith. Previously conventional businesses have taken note; State Farm, for example, recently launched a local cafe called Next Door in Chicago, offering free financial coaching and classes for its visitors. Innovative use of design, technology and media will be well received.

Learn: Pop music getting sadder and sadder

New research finds Top 40 pop hits have become longer, slower and sadder, and songs “increasingly convey ‘mixed emotional cues’”, according to a study published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts. Researchers have found increasing percentage of pop songs written using minor modes, which most listeners associate with gloom and despair. The average tempo for a given pop song, has also slowed down over the years. Although one could undoubtedly poke holes in the methodology of this research, it brings light to the growing complexity of music and arts in general. It’s an interesting paradox, given the fact that music creation, or any creation for that matter, is becoming increasingly simplified. When the process is simple, the product must become more complex. Lyrics may entail more double meanings, beats have added layers. It’s a delicate balance to strike, and when it’s done right, can create something complexly simple, and perfectly flawed.

Attend: Songs from a Room

Recently, my B.F.O.A.T. (best friend of all time) Will told me about an innovative event called Songs from a Room, which aims to bring music lovers together by offering them a unique opportunity to experience music in an intimate living room. With social media, artists have been given unique opportunities to connect with fans everywhere on a digital, yet still deeply personal level. As amazing as that is, there still is something special about locality and physical connection with an artist. Events like this work well because it offers a unique experience, one that feel much more private, personal and comfortable. I can’t wait to go!

Tags: 3aday day 15

Day 14) Redditors gift each other, 1+1 =3, Girls…

Admire: Redditors create Arbitrary day, giving fellow redditors and those in need presents.. just because

Those who are familiar with Reddit understand that the online sharing community has always strayed away from convention; thus to no surprise of mine, Redditors have created “Arbitrary Day”, a secret Santa gift exchange program where people exchange gifts for, well, no particular reason at all. The program ends on June 25, and at the date of the press release, 6,756 people had already pledged to exchange gifts. Consider this: not only is that an impressive amount of committed people, but these are among the most influential common citizens of the internet. Their participation and encouragement of an initiative such as this speaks volumes to the growing desire and interest in society to be nice. There is a yearning from people to feel good and do good, not because it’s a special occasion or in honor of someone, but because it feels good to do good. Random acts of kindness has been a trend that marketers have spoken of in the past, and this story is another proof point that the trend is still alive and well, and will continue to grow. People want to feel happy, and they don’t think that a celebration of happiness needs much substantiation other than a desire to feel good and make others feel good. Not only that, but Arbitrary Day shines light to the enormous impact that social media and social communities can have in culture and society.

Watch: Ken Burns on why his formula for a great story is 1+1 = 3 

Legendary documentary maker Ken Burns sheds insight on his secret to making brilliant documentaries that millions have fallen in love with. In a beautifully shot and score mini-movie, Burns reveals that the best stories lie in the spaces where logic fails; a good storyteller manipulates a given situation and finds the anomaly within that. And no, that doesn’t make you dishonest because you don’t tell stories that you don’t believe in or have heart for. In most professions, our job, in one way or another, is to find an interesting story to tell. This served as a much appreciated reminder that a beautiful story doesn’t only exist in beautiful brands or sexy and captivating people. Great stories lie in the way it is being told. I will continue to work on being the best narrator that I can be. [If you haven’t figured it out, you click on the link to watch the video]

Debate: Why I love HBO’s “Girls” and vehemently defend its honor

I recently have become totally enamored with Lena Dunham’s new HBO show, “Girls”. I find it hilariously witty, refreshingly relatable, and just light enough that I don’t feel like talking to a therapist after each new episode. Upon seeing the backlash that Dunham and HBO have received from the show, including accusations of racism and having too many “loser” male characters (see James Franco’s rant), I feel I must speak up for the show. Because first off, “Girls” aims not to serve as THE voice of an entire generation, it simply offers A voice, one that many Millennials would find relatable. Yes, Hannah (the main character) comes off as a spoiled brat when she throws a hissy fit after her parents decide to cut financial ties with her, but her reaction is that of millions of 20-somethings. She is a product of a Boomer upbringing who has drilled in her head that the world is her oyster, and those words were drilled even further in her head when she went to college and surrounded herself with equally self-involved, educated Millennials. So her struggle with the realities of the world in which she must navigate and the message she grew up believing is indeed a very real issue. And the racist comments? As an Asian American, I find any racial criticism of the show ridiculous and petty. Dunham has repeatedly stated that this show is based off of her life experiences, and that to write in a character for the sake of being politically correct would be dishonest and put the show at risk of racial tokenism. Bottom line is, the criticism of “Girls”, in my opinion, reflects a growing sense of melodrama that people, I argue, most likely the unaffected white majority, create around cultural issues. The point is, “Girls” offers a fresh perspective on being struggling 20 something in NYC, it does not aim to encapsulate all that is true of an entire generation. CHILL OUT PEOPLE.

Day 13) When machines get personal, why brands should Tumble, Mad Men’s take on industry whoring

The future: With the Humanoid 2 (MH-2), your friend can keep you company in the form of a mini robot!

In attempt to create more personal connection through technology, Yuichi Tsumaki, Fumiaki Ono, and Taisuke Tsukuda of Yamagata University in Japan has created the Humanoid 2.This is how it works (from IEEE):

This may seem a little bit weird at first, but here’s the idea: you’ve got a friend or a relative that you want to share an experience with. Like, you’re traveling or something, and you want some company. Instead of having said friend come along with you (we’ll assume that they’re busy as opposed to just antisocial), you can bring along an MH-2 instead. Back home, your friend puts on a 360-degree immersive 3D display and stands in front of some sort of motion capture environment (like a Kinect, for example). Then, they get to see whatever the MH-2 sees. Meanwhile, the robot on your shoulder acts like an avatar, duplicating the speech and gestures of your friend right there for you to interact with directly.

This makes Facetime seem like child’s play! And yet, although this is another attempt to bring people together with technology, could this be another excuse for people to avoid real life communication and connection with each other? Or does it not matter? Because nowadays, any form of connectivity and social interaction is considered meaningful, and tools like MH-2 allows you to share experiences without the hassle. Is technology capable of severely diminishing the significance of tangible, physical interaction? I’m excited to see where we will be in 15 years.

Advice: Brands should utilize Tumblr’s interest-based networks

Tumblr, with its 43 million+ users, most of whom are under the age of 25, on paper appears to be a no brainer for brands to participate in; yet, few brands outside the fashion category have been willing to jump on board. A mix of issues serve as barriers for Tumblr’s brand presence: its relatively new social blogging platform, the unique content posted on Tumblr that does not give way to easy categorization the way Facebook updates, news and Twitter updates do. Essentially, unlike Facebook and Twitter, which are comprised of a network of people with shared connections, Tumblr is a network of shared interests. Such a concept makes the platform unscalable to many brands. Yet conversely, the very fact that Tumblr’s clusters of communities are based around interests provides leeway for brands to communicate their brand voice in a way few other platforms can provide. Coke has recently jumped on board with this discovery with their “Happiness is” Tumblr, a collection of curated moments revolving around all things happy. They’ve enlisted the help of celebrities such as Jason Derulo to bring a utility element to their Tumblr, offering celebrity curated/designed custom Tumblr themes for fans and followers. I expect and encourage many other brands to follow suit.

Shocked: Joan’s decision and Mad Men’s revelation about the ad industry, or people in general

Last night, I finally watched the latest episode of Mad Men. What in my opinion was one of the most well acted, exquisitely shot episode yet, the partners at SCDP, as well as Joan, fall victim to the pimp known as Jaguar. The episode provides an intensely compelling glimpse into the writers’ opinions about society and people. Joan’s decision to give her body away in exchange for 5% share of the agency speaks volumes to the tension between morality and survival. She, as well as many women of the era, remains prisoner to her own body, something she realizes is inescapable. In that moment, what would you have done? Accept the circumstance and try to find the silver lining? Or continue to defy convention? And even the agency itself is a prisoner of industry standards. Winning an auto account is crucial for the status and reputation of the company, but such a conquest would come at the expense of a beloved employee and any sense of moral standards. Is this episode a reflection of the times? Or a reflection of human tendencies and instincts? If the same situation presented itself today, what would have happened? Or would such an incident rarely occur today, with our society as progressive as it is today? Everyday we are faced with difficult situations and tradeoffs, while most of us haven’t traded our bodies in for financial gain, most of us certainly have sacrificed some level of morality in service of upward mobility, or someone we cared about. Perhaps Joan’s decision meant more than just the 5%, perhaps through her years with the men of the agency, she has developed a love and an eagerness to really feel like she’s part of the family. Whether or not they really truly accept her as partner, I am extremely doubtful.

Tags: day 13 3aday

Day 12) Demise of Hostess, ketchup innovation, Asians’ love affair with trance

Mourn: Hostess Brands bankruptcy threaten mass lay-offs

Twinkies, Ho Ho’s and Ding Dongs, some of America’s favorite low-cost indulgences, are facing extinction amidst Hostess’ bankruptcy announcement. 894 workers in California have been warned of lay-offs after the company’s bankruptcy reorganization was announced in January. If the forewarned should come true, it would serve a devastating blow to the morale of the blue-collared community in California. Moreover, the decay of Hostess signifies a more permanent trend in consumer behavior, away from gluttony and towards nutrition. Some have wondered whether or not Americans’ increased desire to be healthier was a trend in passing, and I think this Hostess news is just one big proof point that as consumers become more educated about nutrition, healthy(ier) snacking will be here to stay.

Innovation: MIT and Harvard in battle to create non-stick ketchup bottles

In the latest ivy league drama for extremely smart people, MIT and Harvard battle it out to create the world’s first non-stick ketchup bottle. Although far from a necessity, solving the problem of ketchup sticking to the bottle of Heinz bottles would minimize a much-hated annoyance. MIT’s and Harvard’s efforts serve as a friendly reminder that not all noble goals have to be some grand humanitarian effort. Sometimes creating solutions for the little nuances can go a long way. If Heinz announced that they were selling non-friction ketchup bottles tomorrow, I would vow to be their loyal customer for life.

Ponder: Why do Asians love trance?

This is a question that I’ve perked on for quite some time now. Today, on my work break, I even went as far as to Google that exact question. To my surprise, no one has asked that question in Yahoo Answers before. Now, I am a self-professed trance music fanatic, and definitely a self-identifying Asian. However, it perplexes me whenever I go to a trance show, and yes, I specifically mean trance, not house or electro, 95% of the concert goers are Asian. Why, I ask? What is it about trance and Asians that make us so compatible? A few hypotheses:

  • Trance induces/promotes concentration, and Asians are drawn to that
  • Trance culture is, perhaps eve more so than other genres of EDM, about love and unity and all those mushy gushy things that Asians tend to stoically avoid in their day-to-day. Perhaps trance is the perfect excuse for them to express their feelings.
  • Light shows, or gloving, is best suited for trance music. Gloving requires discipline and meticulous timing; Asians are great at details and display a rigorous work ethic.

Tags: 3aday day 12

Day 11) Three lessons from Planningness Day 1

Today was the first day of Planningness, a you guessed it, planning conference, designed for account planners and strategists everywhere to schmooze, booze and learn a thing or two about strategic thinking. Aside from the pristine venue, located right on the waterfront of Santa Monica, and the delicious cheese danish, I took away insightful advice from many of the great speakers. Three takeaways below:

Sound and true advice for the soul: Don’t be afraid of failure in your twenties

As many of those close to me know, I’ve been gearing up to pack up my bags and attempt to make a home out of NYC. In preparation for my move, I’ve been furiously doing my best to secure a strategist job in the city prior to my move. As my predecessor planner friends can attest, it is no easy feat. In fact, it takes a lot more than talent and great interview skills to find a job in a place where you don’t currently reside. Elements like timing and luck, things beyond my control, play a much more important role in my employment prospects. That sometimes grim reality has created a three month long roller coaster ride of emotions, varying from extreme excitement during the hopeful moments and an immense feeling of insecurity and vulnerability when my high expectations go unmet. To everyone’s delight today at Planningness, comedian Rob Delaney graced us with his presence as a last minute guest speaker. Besides making me laugh nearly the entire duration of his “lecture”, he made one point that I found true and comforting. As he spoke about his many years of struggle as a comedian prior to his Twitter success, he mentioned his gratitude for the delayed ROI, wisely pointing out that had he experienced his current success in his twenties, he would not have had the capacity to wholeheartedly appreciate it. It was just a friendly reminder to myself that as long as I wake up everyday loving what I do and feeling a sense of fulfillment out of it, this rocky journey is well worth it.

Reality check: Just because you’ve never done it before, doesn’t mean you can’t figure it out

Often times, as a young planner I rely on the guidance of my superiors to validate and navigate me in the right direction. However, as I’m entering a new stage in my career where I am expected to handle more responsibilities and have a solid grasp on strategy as a whole, the need for me to be independent continues to increase. After a pleasant conversation with a fellow planner from SaatchiNY, I was reminded of the importance of taking the initiative to figure things out on my own. The truth is, the art of planning is simply training your brain to think and create solutions; it’s not rocket science and most of the time, the answers lie in our own intuition. We just have to remember to not be afraid to use our brains.

Ask: What is the unmet desire? And how can a brand help?

My favorite workshop of the day was put on by Rob Perkins, who gave a splendid lesson in finding a consumer need and creating an experience that helps fill that void. Although many intelligent thinkers have made the same points Perkins did, he presented his method in such a simple yet elegant way that everyone in the room was green with envy. To sum up this advice, Perkins points out that many strategists often make the mistake of rationalizing unrealistic ideas about what the consumer wants; in fact, we have become so good at convincing ourselves and our clients that we are right that we lose sight of what the real consumer problem is. He defines the consumer problem as an unmet desire, and also cautions against taking on a behemoth challenge like “owning breakfast”. Unmet desires are simple and subtle, and it is our job as planners to validate whether or not our hypotheses are really true and relevant before we start generating ideas around that desire. So easy yet so hard.

10) Famewhores, Coupon obsessions, offending and defending culture

Gossip: Kanye West and Kim Kardashian display romantic affection; fans cry out in dismay

In the latest Hollywood gossip circuit, Kanye and Kim K, recently pegged Kimye have flooded the blogosphere with showy public displays of affection. Many Kanye fans have publicly criticize the notoriously outspoken rapper, pegging their relationship as a mere cheap attempt at gaining notoriety and attention. Whether or not Kimye’s love is genuine, the more interesting debate lies in whether or not their relationship will negatively affect Kanye’s career. Although Kanye has built a solid brand on being an infamous attention whore, backed by a sincere sense of vulnerability and a healthy dose of talent, is dating a millionaire reality star, famous for a sex tape, taking it too far? Or has America lost all standards of integrity when it comes to entertainment? After all, even amidst constant verbal and internet attacks from both average joe schmoes to celebrities and artists, Kim Kardashian has managed to snag more revenue with her shows than critically acclaimed dramas such as Mad Men. Does entrepreneurship no longer come with any guidelines and boundaries? Is success and fame celebrated regardless of the path, as long as the outcome is lucrative and prosperous?

Caution: Don’t count out couponing

As seen on Huffington Post, JC Penney has reported startling loss in revenue since they have rolled out their new marketing strategy. Recently hailed by many ad critics as a valiant rebranding effort by the retailer, its surprising to see that a seemingly well thought out partnership with Ellen Degeneres and a re-sprucing on their clothing brands have negatively affected sales and foot traffic. The culprit for the lack of success? Coupons. The article provides more detail information, but in a nutshell, JC Penney made moves to change their pricing format, thus eliminating coupons from their sales strategy. Although the new pricing model actually lowers the cost of clothes on the tag, Moms complain that without coupons, they do not feel compelled to shop at JC Penneys. I was surprised and humbled by the power of a tangible piece of paper to make a consumer feel like they are cheating the system. In this day and age, where most things lack paper trails or human touch, people still need to feel like they have tangible proof that they are in control. A coupon allows them to substantiate notions that they are indeed, cheating the system.

Inspire: Offending and defending culture

In one of the best graduation speeches I’ve read to date (to be frank, I really haven’t read that many…), designer Emily Pilloton shells out some sound advice to graduating seniors about the importance of citizenship in the context of design. I highly recommend that everyone, particularly 20 somethings in need of a pep talk. Pilloton makes the argument that whatever skill set you are equipped with, it is our job to contribute to cultural progression by engaging in it and believing in it, all the while taking the initiative to poke holes at it. Furthermore, she makes the case for using your skill sets in places where design and innovation remain untapped resources. It’s a difficult and scary task at hand, but I found it a great inspirational reminder that the greatest feats sometimes lie in uncomfortable and unsexy places, and as self-proclaimed tastemakers, we often revert to fixing things that work just fine.

Tags: 3aday day 10

Day 9) Lessons in Avengers, clowns in EDM, why I loved Simple Plan

Review: Avengers proved to be one big, entertaining lesson in collaboration

After months of anticipation, I finally got around to watching Marvel Comics’ The Avengers. To my delight, the movie was well worth the hype, and I walked out of the film having gotten a healthy fix of humor, epic quotes on humanity and heroism, superfluously fancy and expensive CGI, and of course, good ol’ superhero ass whooping. Beyond that though, I admired the way the movie served as a fable of the danger of pride and cockiness, and that when it counts the most, one MVP hogging the ball is not enough. I loved the banter between Tony Stark and Captain America, and their ironic dependency on each other during high-pressure situations. I loved the clash of the many egos that populated the film, and the way they reconciled and co-existed for the sake of being effective. In this day and age, having the whole world resting on one lonely superhero seems outdated and unrealistic; this generation needs a team of heroes, all with different strengths and weaknesses, passions and backgrounds. The Avengers, in its essence, represents the diversification of real life America.

Debate: Clowns in EDM

My friend Eric shared the above linked blog post someone wrote about the changes happening in American DJ culture. Obvious to most, the EDM (electronic dance music) scene has more taken off full blast in the past couple years. The blogger complains and laments that much like the direction that hip hop music has taken, EDM, which at its inception was rooted in superior turntable mixology and technical production has now been reduced to gimmicky clown masks and hats. While I empathize and agree with some of his points, I can’t say that I don’t appreciate a dj who can provide a splendid, holistic, visual, audio experience. Acts like Deadmau5 and Justice, who are notorious for their iconic costume and staging, respectively, deliver performances where the visuals bring their already captivating dj sets to life, thus adding an extra layer of memorability to their performance. The important distinction is that not authenticity doesn’t always point to the most stripped down or the simplest, it’s simply an artist who can be the full embodiment of their music…someone who has a strong gauge on what kind of artist they are and can deliver on that promise. A good dj, with or without a hat, will be a good dj; but the 80 million lasers that accompanied Swedish House Mafia’s Coachella set certainly made me appreciate “Save the World” more than I would have standing in pitch dark with one disco ball hanging above their turntable.

Reflect: Why I loved Simple Plan, and all those nasally sounding emo bands

"Every emo song has either the word ‘falls’, ‘away’, ‘dies’, or ‘heart’ in it", said my B.F.O.A.T. (best friend of all time) Will as we were engaged in a deep and meaning nostalgic discussion of our questionable music tastes in high school. From Rise Against to Yellowcard to Taking Back Sunday, for a large chunk of my high school years, I played every emo punk band’s CD on full blast on a daily basis. Now a young adult, I cringe at the thought that I ever found those awful, nasal infused, bad poetry on crack worthy of any of my time. But thinking back on how I was feeling as a 15 year old, it’s pretty easy to understand why I, as well as so many other suburban teenagers could relate to that music. First off, as a 15 year old, we simply don’t have good judgment on what is good music production, eloquent lyrics or good singing. Furthermore, at 15, I was dying to leave the snoozefest that was my hometown; I felt like my mother had no grasp on who I was about or what was right for me; I was insecure about my love handles, jealous of girls who knew how to do their makeup, and never felt like I was good enough. So thinking back, I forgive myself for my questionable music tastes; it was all in the name of being a blessed teenager whose biggest qualms in life was not being able to wear my favorite pajamas on Pajama Day in 8th grade. Sigh.

Tags: Day 9 3aday

Day 8) Throwback Friday: How Friday mirrors a Charles Dickens novel, MCA’s impact on suburbia, RIP Maurice Sendak

Recognize: How stoner/hood comedy Friday incorporates literary elements

For no particular reason at all other than the fact that Friday is one of the most quotable comedies to have come out ever, my roommate and I decided to watch it last night. What used to be a simple-minded and hilarious portrayal of life in the hood in LA turned into much more meaningful and revealing commentary on street culture in the 90s, thanks to my always insightful roommate. Besides shouting out memorable lines throughout the movie, he intelligently pointed out so many literary elements that I had ignorantly missed the many times that I’ve watched the flick before. For the mere fact that I now have an entirely new level of appreciation for the movie, and also because it is indeed Friday, I thought I’d share his observations:

  • Although seemingly random characters weave in and out of the movie, in the end, they all gather together to serve a purpose in the plot.
    How random was Felicia when she, out of nowhere, just pops up at Smokey’s house? I used to think her purpose in the film was to provide a stereotypical neighborhood hoodrat, but upon further observation, it is she who, at the cusp of a possible conflict resolution, steps in to ruin things for Smokey and Craig. Without her, there would be no climax. Craig’s chickenhead girlfriend would have lent him the money, and all would have been resolved.
  • Characters and plot devices come full circle in the end of the film
    Again, Felicia appears at the end of the novel to shed light on just how violent and mean D-boe is. Her black eye is what sparks the fight between Craig and D-boe. Without her, there would be no fight! And remember the brick that was launched into the pastor’s car? That same loose brick serves Craig well in his standoff with D-boe. The most seemingly purposely scenes all add up to mean something to the storyline, and the director achieves this all the while making the film look painfully mindless.
  • There are no positive male role models
    This is one of the more obvious traits of the movie, but still worth mentioning. Beyond animated characters and situational comedy, this movie sheds light on the severe lacking of positive male role models for young men growing up in the hood. Notice that even the pastor engages in bad behavior; the most positive influence in the entire film is the father, and even he encourages his son to raise his fists and fight.

Respect: MCA’s and the Beastie Boy’s impact on Suburbia’s hip hop introduction

In memory of the late, great hip hop pioneer MCA, I stumled upon an article on GOOD that chronicles the writer’s appreciation for the impact that MCA had on him growing up in Tuscon, Arizona. While many speak of the impact that MCA had on hip hop music as an entire genre, few provide personal accounts on how his presence in hop hop affect the lives of many middle class, suburban youth. The author makes many good points, all of which I vehemently agree with. Beastie Boys gave many young Americans not growing up in the urban ghettos permission to enjoy hip hop and develop a genuine connection to the art form. Such accomplishment is not easy, but MCA was able to speak about themes that were powerful and relevant to an entire generation, detached from any class or race issues. RIP.

RIP: Maurice Sendak: Lessons learned from a man who understood the complexities of childhood

Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak passed away today. As revealed by the pouring sadness of people via social media outlets, it’s apparent that his timeless stories impacted millions of Americans. What made him so great? And better yet? What makes his stories timeless? And what can we learn from him when it comes to connecting with children? I think one of the most important lessons and reasons for why Sendak was so great was his innate empathy for children as humans, capable of having dynamic moods and emotions, pain and letdowns. Many failed authors and failed marketers who attempt to reach children through dumb-ed down, substance-lacking cutesy story lines produce books that are quickly forgotten. As we celebrate Sendak’s art and impact, we must remember and carry on his quest to understand children and care and protect them without discrediting them of normal, universal emotions.

Tags: 3aday day 8

Day 7) Mom enough?, the discovery economy, mentorship

Read: Are you Mom enough?

Jaymie Lynne Grumet, young mother of two, shockingly poses with her three year old son on the cover of today’s Time Magazine cover. She confidently rests one hand on her slender hip, and the other comfortably around her son as he locks his mouth on one of her breasts. She is one of a niche group of mothers buying into Dr. Bill Sears’ attachment parenting model - one that encourages mothers to tend to a child’s every cry and touch, and promotes breastfeeding a child well beyond infancy years. Her Time Magazine debut has sparked intense criticism; some have even pegged her photo as child molestation. While the attachment parenting model, as well as Grumet’s photo may be extreme, does this Time feature shed light on an abandonment of the Gen X “sherpa style” parenting? One that strays away from incessant smothering and takes a more guidance, choice-based approach? As Gen Y transitions into parenthood, what parenting styles will stick, and how will that shape future generations? While I am no where near ready for a child, I suspect that as someone who grew up entitled, only to come of age during a recession, I may take a more protective and preventative approach to parenting my child than perhaps my older Gen X counterparts. Although I vehemently proclaim that I will never breastfeed a three year old child. They can eat cereal at that age!

Ponder: Identity sharing creates a new discovery economy

As technology continues to infiltrate every aspect of our lives, the issue of privacy becomes an increasingly debated topic. Fast Company provides an interesting pro-sharing POV, pointing out that our willingness to give up low-risk information regarding our identity promotes opportunities for discovery and connectivity. Beyond simply being able to easily access information, NFC technology breeds exciting opportunities for consumers to receive interesting and relevant information about products and things they may not even know existed. Opportunities lie in NFC to help consumers connect with like-minded people on a level past simple word of mouth recommendations and engagements. As digital continues to develop, our attitudes about targeted messaging and opt-in geo-related engagement will increasingly become the norm in industrialized societies.

Ask: Are twenty-somethings equipped to be effective mentors in the workplace?

My roommate, a poster child for the educated, civic-minded stereotypical Millennial male, is only one year shy from being promoted as manager of the Southern California sector of the prestigious non-profit organization, Teach For America. As we were discussing the perennial challenges of minding the education gap, finding quality teaching candidates, and upward career mobility, we came across the topic of mentorship. More specifically, can he, at 25 years old, effectively be a mentor for his younger core team members and be an effective manager when he himself is still struggling to find his place, both in TFA and in life? I personally believe he is more than ready to take on a managerial role, but as I think about my impending growth in my own career, I quiver at the thought of being responsible for someone’s career growth. Yet both of us are UCLA grads, eloquent and (at least I’d like to think) well-versed in our career pursuits. Could it be that the recession has worked to dwindle the previously unwavering confidence (to a point of entitlement, some would argue) of an entire generation?

Tags: 3aday day 7