Tuesday, May 6, 2014
This humoristic cartoon depicts a pretty young grandfather and two of his grandsons. The children are sitting on a boat called "Believin' in America", while their grandfather is on the Cayman Islands, and has just finished digging a hole to bury all of his money. The grandfather in question here is Mitt Romney, the Republican party's candidate for the 2012 presidential election in the USA, which he lost to Barack Obama. At the time, and still now, he's very criticized because of all of his somehow "illicit" activities involving financial havens. The cartoons shows in the background other financial havens than the Cayman Islands, such as Switzerland or the Bermuda islands. It conveys a deeply ironic message. The fact that the boat is called "Believin' in America" while Romney is explaining the difference between "outsourcing" and "offshoring", both ways of taking a country's money to other locations makes this pretty clear.
This cartoon tackles the topic of Spaces & Exchanges: money can be exchanged in many different ways, and can travel through very different hands. Money also goes through very different spaces and depends on these spaces (banks, financial havens...).
This humoristic cartoon called "Simply Explained - Part 10: Offshoring" shows the business men's point of view of Offshoring: two middle-aged men, one of them in a shirt and tie are complaining about their employees in "another country", declaring that it's unbelievable that they want to be paid and that therefore, their company should move to another country. It explains boldly why rich companies offshore to other countries: simply because it reduces costs drastically and because it allows them to employ people in the worst conditions possible. Clearly, the author wishes to denounce the occidental world's attitude and haughtiness towards the working population of poor countries such as Vietnam, Laos or Bangladesh, where horrible accidents occur every year due to the terrible conditions the workers have to endure just so that the company saves some money.
Indeed, this cartoon deals with the notion of Spaces & Exchanges: Offshoring is a way of exchanging safe working conditions for more money and benefits. It also creates two spaces: the company's headquarters in a rich country and the different factories around the world, all located in very poor countries.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
R.E.M was formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1980, Mike Mills (born December 17, 1958) and Bill Berry (born July 31, 1958) were the only Southerners in the group. It marked the point when post-punk turned into alternative rock. When their first single, "Radio Free Europe," was released in 1981, it sparked a back-to-the-garage movement in the American underground. While there were a number of hardcore and punk bands in the U.S. during the early '80s, R.E.M. brought guitar pop back into the underground lexicon. It did take R.E.M. several years to break into the top of the charts, but they had a cult following the release of their debut EP, Chronic Town, in 1982. Chronic Town established the haunting folk and garage rock that became the band's signature sound, and over the next five years, they continued to expand their music with a series of critically acclaimed albums.
In October of 1997, R.E.M. shocked fans and the media with the announcement that Berry was amicably exiting the group to retire to life on his farm; the remaining members continued on as a three-piece, soon convening in Hawaii to begin preliminary work on their next LP. Replacing Berry with a drum machine, the sessions resulted in 1998's Up, widely touted as R.E.M.'s most experimental recording in years. It was only a brief change of direction, since the band's next album, 2001's Reveal, marked a return to their classic sound.
Unexpectedly, in September 2011, the band announced its amicable breakup after 31 years together. Immediately after the split, the band issued a double disc compilation entitled, Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage: 1982-2011, covering both their years at IRS and Warner.
(From All music Guide)
REVIEW OF THE ALBUM
Righting themselves via their long-awaited return to rock Accelerate, R.E.M. regrouped and rediscovered their core strengths as a band, strengths they build upon on its 2011 sequel, Collapse into Now. Cautiously moving forward fromAccelerate’s Life's Rich Pageant blueprint, R.E.M. steer themselves toward the pastoral, acoustic moments of Out of Time and Automatic for the People without quite leaving behind the tight, punchy rockers that fueled Accelerate’s race to the end zone. This broadening of the palette is as deliberate as Accelerate’s reduction of R.E.M. to ringing Rickenbackers, and while it occasionally feels as if the bandmembers sifted through their past to find appropriate blueprints for new songs, there is merit to their madness. R.E.M. embrace their past to the extent that they disdain the modern, reveling in their comfortable middle age even if they sometimes slip into geezerhood, with Michael Stipespending more than one song wondering about kids these days. He’s not griping; he’s merely accepting his age, which is kind of what R.E.M. do as a band here, too. Over a tight 41 minutes, they touch upon all the hallmarks from when Bill Berry still anchored the band, perhaps easing up on the jangle but devoting plenty of space to rough-hewn acoustics and mandolin, rushing rock & roll, and wide-open, eerie mood pieces that sound like rewrites of “E-Bow the Letter.” Any slight element of recycling is offset by craft so skilled it almost seems casual. This may impart a lack of urgency to Collapse into Now but it also means that it delivers R.E.M. sounding like R.E.M., something that has been in short supply since the departure of Berry.
I personally believe that this song is very meaningful. The music is very soft, almost like a lullaby, with a very sweet melody. Although it may seem repetitive or too simple, I think it is made on purpose: the music becomes quite catchy and easy to learn, just like a child's song! On the other hand, it gives a stronger place to the lyrics, which I consider to be the most important part of the song.
Moreover, the singer's voice is particularly loving, as if he was singing specially for every one of us. In fact, the title says it all: "Every day is yours to win". The band is using this song to convey a message, to clearly say something to the public, something that everyone can understand and sing along to. This is the reason why the lyrics are so simple: it makes the song catchier and shows that they are adressing a large number of people all over the world, with a very powerful message.
On the whole, even though the song may seem excessively simple and childish, I think that it is precisely what makes it special and stresses the band's intentions: to reach deeply into everyone of us.
PERSONAL INTERPRETATION OF THE VIDEO AND SONG
My personal opinion would be that this song deals with insecurity, and the power that everyone of us have, but that we might not be conscious of. It's very strong in its message, because it urges people to do what they love, and to open their perception: we all have a "road ahead of [us]". It constitutes a realistic version of life, since it admits that "it's not all cherry pie", but it still stays positive and offers a bridge to all of those who would like to cross it. The message conveyed here is about personal realization, about not loosing hope, and always fighting for yourself. For R.E.M, heroes are not superheroes, or firemen, or celebrities, but each and everyone of us, for being exactly who are and doing exactly what we love: Anyone can be a hero, you just need to make the best of each day. It can certainly remind us of Carpe Diem!
Moreover, the video clearly states the same ideas. It has a "homemade" appearance, that is not really an appearance, but the truth! Apparently, the band asked people from all over the world, to make videos of what they liked to do, no matter how simple or stupid it might look. The video is not "fake" but real. All the characters that appear in it look like normal people: no make-up, no heels, no tuxedos...Just humans, of every age and gender.
I also believe that the fact that the video is confusing at times is actually to reflect the feeling we might get facing everyday life sometimes: so many events, people, and days go by, sometimes we all feel a bit lost and confused. This feeling of loneliness is stressed by the fact that all the people in the video are alone. But in fact, are they really? If they're using a webcam, they are talking to someone else, so indeed, they are not alone. It is one of the implicit messages of the video: we are never alone, and there is always a bridge for us to cross; we can always move forward.
Finally, I think that what the song and video want to transmit is that nobody is really alone, and that anybody can become anything they wish. Do what you love, live by the day, and make every day yours to win! It is the only way of becoming a true hero...