Critically thinking about our digital environment with the use of digital tools

Part A:

Digital tools and platforms are very useful when thinking critically about our digital environment, especially YouTube. Users are able to use digital tools to critique our digital environment, in which they tend to focus on a wide range of popular values and issues, including gender, race, sexuality, and political topics of the government (Zeffiro, Week 6). In McIntosh’s article, “A History of Subversive Remix Video Before YouTube: Thirty Political Video Mashups Made Between World War II and 2005′, the author has displayed a collection of 30 videos, which demonstrate critical thinking of the digital environment by using the digital environment. For example, McIntosh uses the video, Cinderella +++ by Eileen Maxson, in which she combines Disney characters and audio clips from 90210 and Dawson’s Creek to demonstrate the stereotypical gender-based fantasies presented in fairy tales (McIntosh, 2012). Also, McIntosh uses The Street Muppets N.W.A (1994), which was a VCR-made remix that combined footage from Sesame Street with the rap song “Fuck the Police” by N.W.A., with a main purpose of highlighting police brutality against black urban youth in the United States (McIntosh, 2012). Both of these videos are examples of users remaking large cultural texts to challenge political, media, and social power structures. These mash-ups are used to overthrow the dominant meaning of the original videos with the use of sarcasm and humor.

This is an excellent form of participation because, as we discussed during the week concerning memes, when users interact with content rather then passively view and share it they are creating something new, which allows communities to develop and discuss something more critical. YouTube is an excellent digital tool to use when critiquing, but so are images (memes). Today, users now have the ability to generate their own content and share it across the web. In most cases, as soon as an event becomes popular many users will begin creating their own content with subversive meanings. Indeed, mash up videos, spoofs, and memes have become very popular among users on the various social media websites. For example, a group of feminist created a remake of the music video, Blurred Lines, which made fun of Robin Thicke’s ignorance towards women and defended women rights. This is an example of users criticizes our digital environment and cultural stereotypes with the use of our digital environment. Another great example of users using digital tools to criticize our digital environment is the website, Wikepediocracy, which is a site designed for users to critique Wikipedia’s purpose and included information. It is important for users to have the opportunity to critically evaluate our digital environment in the most efficient way, which is with our digital tools.

Thus, this type of participation has created a new generation of users and communities who use digital tools to critique our digital environment, whether it is with YouTube, Memes, or websites. With the ability to critique our digital environment with digital tools individuals have the ability to critically evaluate our digital culture and use our digital tools to share their views, whether they are agreeing, opposing, or simply making fun. This is an excellent use of our digital tools because it allows users to be active participants rather then passively view content that is already on the web.

Works Cited: McIntosh, Jonathan. “A History of Subversive Remix Video Before YouTube: Thirty Political Video Mashups Made Between World War II and 2005.” Transformative Works and Culture. 9 (2012). http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/371/299

Part B:

To support my point above, I have created my own collection of six YouTube videos, which demonstrate the idea of how users can use digital tools and platforms to critique our digital environment. Above, I argued users who create spoofs or re work original content tend to focus on critiquing dominant values or issues in popular culture today, which includes race, sexuality, gender, and political topics of the government (Zeffiro, Week 6). Users who create spoofs generally include sarcasm and humor in their videos with the intent of entertaining their audience as well as getting their point across. It is important that users have the chance to effectively speak their mind rather then passively listen or read content they disagree with.

Blurred Lines (Feminist Parody) “Defined Lines”

For example, this video is a parody of the 2013 hit song, Blurred Lines, by Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams. The original music video includes subliminal messages that degrade women, while Thicke and Williams sing about a woman in a nightclub who may or may not be interested in him. The music video also includes half naked women strutting around; some say it stimulates an attitude towards sex and consent. This parody was created by a group of feminist who are defending women’s rights by creating a humorous, but still serious, re make of the original version. It is funny because the lyrics still follow the same beat of the original and the music video is very similar, but with different actors and lyrics. Also, the women make fun of men by showing them how we feel by reversing the roles of the common stereotypes about women. However, the re-make is very powerful message created by a clever group of women who have critically examined cultural values that are used in our digital environment. They used the digital tool, YouTube, to create a video that shares their oppositional view of, Blurred Lines, which was a very popular hit in our digital environment.

James Franco and Seth Rogan- Bound 3

Above, is a spoof of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s music video, Bound 2. Actors, James Franco and Seth Rogan mock Kanye and Kim’s music video by creating their own video called, Bound 3. They use the same beat, lyrics, and music video, but replace Kanye and Kim with themselves. This spoof is hilarious because the original is supposed to be about Kanye and Kim’s love and intimacy as the video is very sexual, but James and Seth accurately imitate the couple’s ridiculous music video. Not only did James and Seth think this music video was ridiculous, but so did majority of the world. With that, they used digital tools to simply make fun of our current digital environment and ‘talented’ musicians we have today.

The Voice “Sesame Street” spoof

Some of you may follow the American reality singing competition broadcast, The Voice, which includes the strongest singers across the Country with the help of celebrity musicians. However, above is a link of a spoof, in which the user has created their very own clip of The Voice, but with help from the Sesame Street cast. The main purpose of this spoof is to criticize the Television show itself; this user is critiquing our current pop culture’s idea of professional musicians. The user uses YouTube to create a video with sesame street characters that impersonate the judges and competitors on The Voice. This video can be seen as funny only by a selected few because the user is implying that the judges are untalented and ‘stupid’. As we mentioned before, some content is steered towards a certain audience and in this case this video is making fun of The Voice, so fans of the show may be offended or disagree. Indeed, this is a way users can criticize our digital environment by creating funny content to share with fellow ‘haters’ of the show, The Voice.

Whose Line is it Anyways- Blink 182 Spoof

The video above is a clip from the television show, whose line is it anyways, which is a comedy show that includes four performers who create characters, scenes, and songs on the spot. The link above includes a clip of performers Wayne Brady and Richard Simmons imitating Blink 182’s song, All The Small Things. Unlike most of the videos in my collection that use YouTube to critique our digital environment, this one is a game show on TV. The content is supposed to be humorous as it uses a TV show to critiques our digital environment. Although, some episodes may not be criticizing our digital environment, majority of them are, including the one provided. It is funny because again, they use the same beat and tune to the original song, but impersonate the band members with their own lyrics. In this video the performers are not in disagreement with the song, but rather critiquing it by simply making a joke of the genre. As a fan myself, I would not be offended by this spoof, but rather get a little laugh out of it because I know they are a talented band, but some believe they are very dark or deep, which is what Wayne and Richard are trying to get at.

First World Problems Rap and Third World People Reply

Above, I have included two links to two different videos that critique the popular hash tag First World Problems. I believe this is very important because #firstworldproblems has been a trending hash tag for quite a while now, it may not be as popular as it was before, but users still use it. The hash tag follows a tweet that tends to be a complaint about something ridiculous such as, “I hate when my phone dies #firstworldproblems”. The first video is a video that was created by a young male who raps about the various complaints, which would be considered first world problems by many Twitter users. This video uses a digital tool, YouTube, to critique a popular hash tag used on one of our social media platforms. The first video can be seen as humorous because it demonstrates how many ridiculous complaints individuals have described as first world problems. However, the second link provided is a little more serious rather then humorous because it includes third world people using first world problems. It was important to include this because it demonstrates how ignorant users look when using first world problems, while people in other countries are experiencing real life or death problems. Again, people have used our digital environment, YouTube, to get their point across.

Will The Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up (ft. Eminem) by Hugh Atkin

Finally, this last link is a YouTube video that re works content by continuously using different narratives. This video was created to imitate Republican Mitt Romney by mashing various interviews and speeches that line up with Eminem’s song, The Real Slim Shady. This video uses the digital tool, YouTube, to critique politicians, but with the intent to be funny rather then insulting. It is very funny because it matches up smoothly with the song, The Real Slim Shady, and uses random phrases from different events to create a song by Mitt Romney during that election period.

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