April 17th, 2011

red panda eating bamboo

Electronic devices, attention, and subtextual messages

"Keep Your Thumbs Still When I’m Talking to You" by David Carr

This article (well, it's sort of a cross between an article and a personal opinion piece, I guess) discusses electronic device etiquette. It says what you might expect it to say: People stare into their little screens in public and with friends. Is this rude? Is it destroying social connections? Shouldn't we put our devices down more often?

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What really fascinates me, though, is the image that was chosen to accompany the article, which comes right after the title. A young conventionally attractive Asian woman is standing and using her electronic device, while a young conventionally attractive white man crouches in front of her, with his hand on her arm, and makes a "screeching in distress" face. Accompanied by the title "Keep Your Thumbs Still When I’m Talking to You," it seems like there is a subtextual race and gender message.

It's always been the case that there is a power dynamic involved in "who gets to divide their attention and who doesn't."

Other than that I'm not sure I can put the race and gender messages of the image into words.

Can you?

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Oversimplification of heavy metal

"How Heavy Metal Is Keeping Us Sane: Dark and disturbing, the music is honest about human nature"
By James Parker

I do admire the audacity of equating heavy metal with Frazer's The Golden Bough. But the rest of the article is an embarrassingly overwritten (with hipster ironic pretentions) misunderstanding of heavy metal.

Oversimplification #1:
"Black Sabbath created heavy metal."

Oversimplification #2 (perhaps not an oversimplification per se. More of a...BUH???):
"heavy metal is cosmic protest music."

Oversimplification #3:
"The metalhead, quite counter to stereotype, is floridly pretentious."

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