Web Exercises

Web exercises direct both instructors and students to useful and current web sites, along with creative activities to extend and reinforce learning or allow for further research on important chapter topics.

  • “Examining the New Mediocre Man”
    Read this blog post from Sociological Images examining a certain kind of male image that has been appearing in media texts. Watch some of the examples they provide.
    What do you think media producers want viewers of these texts to think when they watch these images? What is the encoded meaning?
    How do the authors decode the media texts to offer some interpretive resistance to the preferred meaning? How do you think others without the scholarly background might resist such media images? What reaction do you have to these images of men?
    What does the critique of these images tell you about the relationship between producer intent and audience interpretation?

  • Celebrity, Games and Pleasure
    Visit a celebrity gossip website, such as www.TMZ.comwww.people.com, or www.perezhilton.com. Notice what sorts of stories are there? Who is featured?
    What are the pleasures associated with celebrity-watching and gossip? Connect to the theories and studies mentioned in Chapter 8.
    Try out some of the different interpretive strategies you have learned about on the stories you see. Do you believe what you see? Are you trying to unmask the celebrity fiction? What might be a resistant interpretation of these stories?
    How do you think the Internet has altered how people participate in celebrity-watching? What are some examples from the sites?

  • Visit the Spoof Ads at Adbusters: http://www.adbusters.org/spoofads
    What advertisements and brands do you recognize? Pick a couple spoof ads and note what the original ad is trying to sell and the messages the advertiser has associated with their product? What is the alternate meaning put forth by the spoof ad? What effect does this have on the power of the original ad? How is this an example of interpretive resistance? Can you conceive of a spoof ad that reinterprets an ad that you currently find offensive or misleading?

  • Visit The Fandom: http://www.thefandom.net/fandoms/ and The Harry Potter Alliance: http://thehpalliance.org/
    Look through the different fandoms and click on some that interest you, or ones you don’t know about. What are some of the fan activities going on? Are you a fan of any of these texts? Do you consider yourself to be a member of a fandom at all? If so, what do you get out of it? What sorts of activist activities does the Harry Potter Alliance organize and promote? How does the Harry Potter fandom connect itself to the principles embedded in their campaigns for social justice? In general, how does this site reflect the reasons discussed in Chapter 8 for the growth of sociological “fan studies”? Why are they particularly interesting media audiences?