The recent election victory for Donald Trump is arguable the greatest political upset in the history of U.S. politics. His election win contradicted the sentiments and evidence of many pollsters, pundits, and contributors who envisioned Hilary Clinton winning the election with relative ease. How could so many people have been so wrong in the assessment of the election? Was there a secret strategy the Trump campaign capitalized on to win the election? Between September and October Facebook users have made close to 1 billion Trump-related likes, posts, comments and shares (Nolter, 2016). In the important swing state of Nevada Trump inspired close to 9.5 million posts, likes, comments and shares over the last month. There we only about 7 million referring to Clinton (Nolter, 2016). There is little doubt that Trump's "mastery" of social media was a key factor in his upset election win over Hilary Clinton.
" I am the Ernest Heminway of 140 characters"
Trump has taken advantage of social media like no other politician is history. Trump has more than 5.5 million Twitter followers and 4.5 million Facebook fans. He has a presence across YouTube, Vine, Instagram and Periscope (Parkinson, 2015). During the GOP candidacy process Trump spent just 1% of the money Jeb Bush had on TV adverts (Parkinson, 2015). Trump's use of social media often times played on peoples laughter and sense of humor to garner support. Whether it be hosting Saturday Night Live or appearing on Jimmy Fallon, Trump sought out ways to portray himself in humorous and funny ways. Sarma states, "The internet is a specific modality of knowledge, it is random and highly fragmented... humour and laughter play a role in the circulation process (what is shared, how much, how fast) parodies can be sometimes remain our sole connection to an event or issue." (p.113) Donald Trump certainly took advantage of his social media presence and exploited peoples sense of humor to garner public awareness and popular support.
As a student in high school I was obsessed with the Second World War. I would voraciously consume books, movies, magazines, and video games that covered the conflict. In recent years the video game franchise Call of Duty has aimed its content at the future of warfare and moved away from using past historical conflicts such as World War 2 or the Vietnam War as its primary theme.
In the original Call of Duty (2003) who were able to be an active participant is some of World War 2's most significant battles. While exploring and conducting yourself as a soldier you became familiar with weapons that soldiers in WW2 used such as B.A.R. (Browning Automatic Rifle), Thompson Sub-Machine Gun, and the Soviet Mosin-Nagant rifle. Testing these weapons out in the video who were able to understand the pros and cons of certain weapons and some types of weapons were used in certain circumstances over others. Squire states, "Everything about the experience of playing a video game from the moment a player picks up the box to the moment she logs out is tailored for immersion." (p.111) Being immersed in these historical battles through the game, I was able to learn different aspects of WW2 that had never dawned on me before, such as the importance of the Soviet campaign.
The opening scene of the Battle of Stalingrad in Call of Duty brought to life an aspect of history I had never been exposed to before. In the game you are berated by Soviet Commisars, sent into battle without a weapon, and exposed to an assault of Soviet propaganda. Squire says, "Video games are much more than just simulations; they are world's that provide designed experiences." (p.111) My experience of this part of the game would lead me to do further investigation into the Eastern Front of World War 2 and inspire me to become an avid student of Russian history. The different role-play scenerios of the game allowed me to see WW2 from different perspectives and opened my mind to understanding the conflict from a whole-new view point.
SQUIRE, K. (2008). CHAPTER SEVEN: Critical Education in an Interactive Age. Counterpoints, 338, 105-123. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.uproxy.library.dc-uoit.ca/stable/42979224
Recently in China rehabilitation camps have sprung up that are designed around curing young Chinese teenagers of an alleged internet addiction. The Chinese government in one of the first countries in the world to classify internet addiction as mental disorder. In 2011, a Chinese man died after internet gaming for three days straight. Just last year, another man collapsed and died inside an internet cafe in Shanghai after playing World of Warcraft for 19 hours straight, despite doctors suggesting the 24-year-old take ‘significant rest’ for a health issue ( Brown, 2016).
Chinese teens are flocking in record numbers to online gaming as a method of escaping the harsh realities of their own lives. Instead of being drawn to drug or alcohol addiction, Chinese teens are consuming digital technologies due to its widespread availability, cheap price, and rampant popularity. De Castell (2014) states, "What needs stressing is neither that digital gameplay has physical impacts on players, nor that real players create virtual selves in any unidirectional way; rather, it is that games refashion their "real-world" players reciprocally, even as players invent and then, through transactional enactive play, discover new selves built from game-based affordances (p.214). Teens consuming the internet are refashioning new identities that are formed through their online world[s]. The lines between reality and artificial reality (internet, online gaming) become blurred when people prefer to spend their lives in a digital world.
Is this a trend that has yet to manifest itself in the "west"? As North Americans are we immune from this supposed "electronic heroin"? Perhaps internet addiction already exists around the world; the problem being stereotypes surrounding these types of addicts prevent it from being properly assessed and acknowledged. In Canada, people addicted to the internet are more likely to be viewed as introverts, nerds, lazy, freeloaders living in their parents basements. Maybe our government can learn a lesson from the Chinese government and be more proactive in treating this newly emerging mental health crisis.
Brown, Vanessa (2016). The digital addiction that has teens wearing nappies so they don’t need a toilet break. Retrieved from http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/the-digital-addiction-that-has-----teens-wearing-nappies-so-they-dont-need-a-toilet-break/news-story/5e0d321846a93337dc9f0260fc0ffc23
Suzanne de Castell. “Mirror Images: Avatar Aesthetics & Self-Representation in Digital Games.” DIY Citizenship. Pp. 213-221.
To many the idea of Kanye West speaking out against racial discrimination or presidential politics is viewed rather trivially. But to many millions his voice, opinion, and beliefs have the power to sway millions of people both politically and socially. But Kanye's foray into politics certainly falls within the purview of what historian Daniel Boorstin calls "pseudo-events", which are events that have great influence over masses of people while at the same time having little relevance to events shaping and constructing the "real-world".
Writer Andrew Marantz (2015) states, "When all is said and done, it might be the ability to generate Moments—“Ask not what your country can do for you”; “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”; Obama’s speech in Selma—that defines a President’s legacy, more than any set of personal beliefs." A lot of mass support for these supposed "pseudo-events" must have some sort of psychological under-pinnings. The death of Harambe the silverback gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo in May 2016 falls under the scope of "pseudo-events" in terms of its impact of diverting public attention away from the U.S. election. As the scope of social media broadens events like these will become more frequent and their ability "to go viral" will only increase in voracity.
Perhaps people's ability to become swayed by these so-called "pseudo-events" can be explained by peoples increasing desire to live in a pseudo-world. As reality becomes harder to bare, people find solace in frivolity (sports, entertainment, fashion, etc) and its through these mediums that true influence and mass persuasion resides.
Andrew Marantz, “Kanye West For President”, The New Yorker. (31 Aug 15)
Klingon can viewed as representing a push-back or resistance against the invasive and pervading mono -culture prevalent in the United States. Creating a culture, race, and language that violates and trivializes English on purpose to shed light on the American-English and its extensive dominance over American culture. Anijar (2000) states, "Language discrimination is a way of masking the racists relations of production and is contingent on the peculiar notion that an objective language exists, one that is not packed with ideology." The United States is not alone in their indoctrination and campaigns of language discrimination and destruction.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the system of residential schools in Canada was responsible for disenfranchising thousands of aboriginal-Canadians from their language, culture, and family. Being mainly oral transmitted societies, many of the identities of Aboriginal-Canadians was lost as their language was stripped away by residential schools. To this day, nearly a century later Aboriginal communities have yet to recover from the devastating effects this program had on Aboriginal communities across Canada.
Canada is not immune from being linguistically discriminate, well before confederation government authorities have used English as a means of suppressing not just aboriginal peoples but also French, Metis, and various groups of European immigrants.
Is there still to evolve in Canada a language, like Ebonics or Klingon, which symbolizes a resistance to an over-dominant culture and language?
Karen Anijar. Teaching Toward the 24th Century: Star Trek as Social Curriculum (Pedagogy and Popular Culture). New York: Falmer Press, 2003.
Star Wars has grown into probably the largest and most prevalent franchised movie series in history. Today the Star Wars story can be found in various forms including board games, bubble gum, trading cards, lego, action figures and millions of other ways. The concepts of Star Wars have moved beyond the cinema to vast commercialized entities that extend concepts inherent to the Star Wars universe even further into public consciousness.
With the reboot of the Star Wars franchise in cinema with 2015's Episode VII: The Force Awakens, a whole new generation of people are being introduced to the geopolitical themes and frameworks of imperialism that constitute Star Wars. Pedagogically, the reboot of Star Wars is an excellent opportunity for teachers to use the franchise to hook students into seeing Star Wars as a vehicle for understanding various aspects of history. For example, The Emperors ascent to power in Revenge of the Sith, is eerily similar to the take over of the Reichstag by Adolf Hitler in 1933. Also in understanding aspects of ancient history the murder of Julius Caesar by Brutus in 44 BC could be linked to Anakin Skywalker's turn to the dark side and his ensuing battle with Obi-Wan Kenobi at the end of Revenge of the Sith. The possibilities for using various aspects of the Star Wars universe as teaching tools are endless.
I think the widespread popularity of Star Wars exists because people of various backgrounds and interests can understand and appreciate the underlying themes inherent in the franchise. If educators can hone in on the underlying factors that make Star Wars the most successful franchise in cinematic history, a lot can be gained in connecting with students on a litany of topics.
May the force be with you!
Attempts are being constantly made to use Hitler as the lowest common denominator for all things evil, such as comparing people such as Barack Obama with the former Austrian corporal. However, in most cases these comparisons are far-fetched and are based far more in fantasy than they are in reality.
Although in some cases this comparison has relevancy. The concepts of crowd psychology utilized by Edward Bernays to encourage consumerism and borrowed by Nazi Germany to enlist the masses against a host of enemies, are currently being put to use by Donald Trump in an equally terrifying way. Donald Trump uses his platform to propagate xenophobia and racism in the same fashion that Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels spoke about the conspiracy of "world Jewry". Trump is tuning into the subconscious minds of Americans and utilizing peoples instinctual fears to garner support. A practice not unique to Trump, this tactic has been applied by fascists groups across Europe including PEGIDA, the Golden Dawn, and Britain First to name just a few (www.britainfirst.org/ ). Perhaps some thing can be said of the political climate that exists today compared to U.S. elections of the past. Could Bob Dole or Bill Clinton gotten away with such vulgar and incendiary remarks while running for office in 1996? Are economic realities to blame for this rise in peoples instinctual fears?
Born out of this mass hysteria of fear and xenophobia seems to thrive a blind nationalism and devotion to the state. Shown in the documentary was Adolf Hitler's seizure of power known as the Nazi Machtergreifung (seizure of power). Through his rhetoric and propaganda campaign is Donald Trump binding together the desires of the masses? Just as those supporters of the Nazi Party gathered outside the Reich Chancellery on January 30, 1933 to celebrate the end of democracy, supporters of Donald Trump devoutly follow in Trump's own blazed trail as he guides his country into oblivion. His band of loyal followers grows larger every day as he aims their fears and intrinsic desires against those who stand in the way of his quest for the presidency.
The tenor and tone of Donald Trump's philosophies and beliefs mirror the values inherent within Machiavellianism. In many of Trump's speeches (the majority of which seem unplanned and ad hoc) he states "believe me" repeatedly to end his engagements. He is encouraging his supporters that he alone knows how to fix the problems and their unfailing loyalty should reside in him.
Like Hitler's followers in 1933 after the Machtergreifung , will Trump's valiant supporters cheer and celebrate if he chooses to set aside democracy for the sake of stability, order, and an enlightened future?