Karl Marx, Revolution, and Rage Against the Machine

Karl Marx is one of the most influential and misunderstood social theorists in history. His ideas about industrialized society and the conflict of the classes were great observations. They might not hold true as generalizing principals of humanity; however few things do. Humans can be infuriating that way. Nothing seems to fit the generalizations completely. the best we can do is see patterns. Because of the link to the Bolshevik revolution and the soviet union it was considered treasonous in the US to promote the Ideas of Karl Marx. However, his Ideas can bee validated by looking at American society. The Occupy Movement is a class based non violent revolution. The one percent of American people who control the wealth are the bourgeoisie. The revolution may have started with occupy, but some in our society are calling for a more traditional violent revolution. The lead singer and lyric writer for Rage Against the Machine Zack De La Rocha is one of those people. His lyrics are very Marxian. In the song with out a face Zack says “Raped for tha grapes, profit for tha bourgeois”. In another song he talks about walking down rodeo drive in Beverly Hills California with a shot gun. This neighborhood is synonymous with wealth. In the same song he declares his longing for wealth when he states”fuck the G ride I want the machines that are making them”. This is access to the mode of production. which is another Marxian Idea. Maybe the revolution is coming, However the Ideas of Karl Mark are still prevalent, and this has made him one of the most influential social theorists in history.                            


Julian Steward and My Rage Against Machinery

Ever since we read Julian Steward’s cultural ecology in Moberg a few weeks ago I have been trying to figure out if his theory is able to explain industrial state societies’ cultural adaptations to the environment or if the theory just couldn’t do it.  After a little bit of thinking on my free time (I say that as if that exists, ha!) I decided, though difficult since it was my own culture, to try to analyze the cultural ecology of the United States.  Initially I couldn’t get the theory to work, I tried to come up with different ways to define the climate of the United States as a whole but the variation of weather patterns from region to region was too great; we have hurricanes on the Southern Coasts, earthquakes and droughts to the West, heavy snowfall and fairly long winters in the Midwest and upper East Coast, and tornadoes increasing in the Midwest down to the South.  Even within regions there were different sub-weather patterns, such as heavy wet snow in Michigan whereas Minnesota and Wisconsin get lighter snowfall and lower humidity in the winter!  After mentioning the aforementioned list of different climate patterns in the United States to myself later that week I had that Aha!/face palming moment, obviously the environmental aspect to Steward’s cultural ecology could not be used on a large sample, such as the entire United States.  I had focused on the shared culture core I had embarrassingly neglected how the culture core adapted and was used to address the second half of the theory.  Foolishness behind, I had gotten caught up in the assumptions of my own culture and perhaps one of the premises of being an industrial state society, we use machines!  I was strung up with the idea that we are reliant on machinery and as a result fossil fuels (ironically fueling my hatred for our reliance on it still today) to create our own environments to suit our needs such as houses and schools, roads, factories, entire cities so that we can continue living our lives as usual.  The fascination with creating these artificial environments and neglecting the world around us paralyzed my ability to even think past our usage of machinery and how it can change from the cultural ecology theory’s point of view.  Steward’s cultural ecology theory is looking at specific ways that a culture core adapts to the environment so, given our heavy reliance on machinery, here is how I broke down our general culture core and made it more specific to certain climate types by comparing slight changes in agriculture.  In Wisconsin, we use heavy machinery to plant crops but in our area, we have had (except in recent years) steady rainfall so the majority of the crops in the southeast of Wisconsin are rain fed.  Taking the same technology but placing it in California, our crops would surely die given the low amounts of rainfall; this is why agriculture in dryer places requires a lot of water and so sprinkler systems are manufactured and used to grow the crops.  Taking our modified Wisconsin-California watering system and placing it in an area with a lot of rivers and streams, it would be inefficient to use sprinkler systems even though there is little rainfall, the rivers could be utilized for irrigation systems which would not require pumps or reservoirs to use for sprinklers.  So, with these variations of the use of machinery to plant and sustain crops, the culture core changes with the environmental factors.  Despite my distain for the use of heavy machinery (and reliance on fossil fuels, BOO!) to continue the obscene reliance of  monoculture in the United States, to which one day we shall see that polyculture is far more cost-effective and provides protection from diseases and pests to the plants without the use of pesticides or antibiotics, the use of heavy machinery is essential for an industrial state society to provide large quantities of food to its population. 


Stan Lee is a social theorist

300px-X-Men_Vol_2_11 Jungleaction23

Stan Lee is considered a legend in the comic book field. He is the creator of most of Marvel Comics iconic characters, and was the main story writer from the company’s inception in 1961 until the early 1990’s. Although he claims to not have any legitimate knowledge of science, He created stories about genetic mutation and gamma radiation which were at least plausible. However, his greatest achievement was humanizing his superhuman characters. Tony Stark aka Iron Man was an alcoholic, Bruce Banner was tortured by the things his alter ego The Hulk did. He is an observer of human behavior, and his stories are depictions of society. This is why I consider him to be a social theorist.
He depicted a chiefdom in a fictional jungle of Africa of Wakanda. The chief of this society is the Black Panther. Of course this society is not typical of other chiefdoms because they control the only mountain in the world that has the elemental metal Vibranium. This is the metal Captain America’s shield is made from. However, their social structure is similar to the kingdoms of Africa. T’challa, the chief of the panther tribe is the eldest male of the most prominent patriline. This gives him responsibility to protect his people, and the rare metal vibranium.
The X-Men are a team of people who have special abilities. Their abilities as well as the abilities of others in their society are because of genetic mutations at a couple of alleles on human DNA strands. These mutations give the humans who have them different abilities. Logan also known as The Wolverine has the ability to regenerate tissue quickly. This ability allowed him to be the recipient of adamantium infused bones and claws. People in the population receive different abilities from the mutation. Through the stories of the X-Men Lee examines the idea of biological determinism, and racism.
Stan lee’s social theory is based on the idea’s industrial nation states use to promote hegemony. Honor selfless sacrifice, heroism, and fairness are idea attributes people aspire to have. However he also tries to explain persistent negative ideologies like racism. He explores ideas like psychic unity and social facts from Durkheim; however, he takes some of Franz Boaz’s approach to racism. He explores the aspects of humanity many social theorists have, and he uses what he learns to write brilliant stories. Most people know Stan Lee from his multitude of cameo appearances in Marvel Comic Movies; However as a Marvel geek I believe he is one of the most influential theorists of modern times.



The idealist perspective in the 20th century is looking at different categories and how they shape people’s world view.  Marvin Harris emphasizes that culture can be understood by looking at people’s behaviors. According to Harris’ perspective, “…Culture is the total socially acquired lifestyle of a group of people included patterned, repetitive ways of thinking, feeling and acting.” (Moberg 2013: 266). Disney movies are a wonderful way of examining this; when you look at the overall theme of the movies being made and the years that they came out in you can see how the themes are reflecting society’s views and standards for the time.

Disney princesses in the movies change over time as the American views for female social roles change over time. First, take a look at Snow White. Snow White, which was first released by Disney in 1937, Snow Whites Step-mother is jealous of Snow White because is prettier, kinder, and more caring than she is. The Step-moms solution is to kill Snow White. Being pretty, kind, and caring is the ideal personality that a woman should have during the late thirties. This outlines what a housewife is supposed to be. Snow White runs away to avoid her imminent death and stumbles upon a cabin in the woods where seven dwarfs live. When she meets the dwarfs she takes on a motherly role and teaches them to act like “civilized beings” aka, learn to take care of yourself, be polite (again pointing to social settings and norms and learned behaviors) and maintain a cleanly living space. When the dwarfs go to work Snow White stays home and cleans the cabin happily singing while doing so; this further fits the image of what a good housewife should be. In the end she eats a poisoned apple and ends up being rescued by her prince. Then they live happily ever after.

Cinderella, which was released by Disney in 1950, is essentially an orphan (her dad died shortly after he remarried), leaving her step-mom with custody of Cinderella. It is apparent that Cinderella’s step mother has a goal of making her life hell. Regardless of being treated like crap for the later part of her life, Cinderella is still nice, kind and caring to all the little animals even the mean cat. Cinderella emphasizes the importance of always dreaming and having wishes. There is a ball held by the King for his son the prince in hopes that his son will find a wife. Cinderella’s step-mom does not want her to go to the ball so she gives Cinderella hopes that she can go and then crushes them. Cinderella meets her fairy godmother who makes Cinderella beautiful; she looks so gorgeous that the prince falls in love with her the moment he meets her. This fits into the view that in the 50’s that women should be easy on the eyes. Cinderella stays at the ball too late and has to run home before everyone can see who she is and looses her slipper. The prince has every girl in the land try it on he finds Cinderella and they live happily ever after.

In 1959, Sleeping Beauty comes out an evil sorceress is mad since she was not invited to the party for Princess Auras birth when everyone else was so she cursed Aura. There are three fairies and they gave Aura the gifts of beauty, song, and the last one weekend the curse. The fairies raise Aura in the woods to protect her from the sorceress. Aura grows up a nice pretty girl who and she frolics with animals and she is well hidden from the world. She meets a prince in the woods and they fall in love. Eventual within this plotline the curse gets fulfilled Aura is in a deep sleep her prince has to give her true loves kiss and rescue her which in order to do he must fight a bunch of goblin things and a dragon. He saves her they live happily ever after.

There isn’t another Princess movie out for 30 years and next is the little mermaid. There still are some underlying themes in this movie but there are some major changes in the social structure of this film. Arial rebels against her father and chases for the man she loves the enemy then becomes Ursula the evil octopus who hads a grudge against Aerials father. Ursula makes Arial a human with the condition that Arial give Ursula her voice and Arial must have the prince kiss her in three days or she would not get her voice back; Ursula did this to get back at king triton. Aerial was supposed to get Erik with her good looks and lovely personality the only problem is that Erik is looking for the girl with the beautiful voice on the shore he fell in love with and it couldn’t be Arial because she had no voice. In the end Ursula uses Aerials voice to try and get the prince because Arial almost has him and Ursula does not want to lose in the end Ursula is defeated and Arial and Erik get married and live happily ever after. The role for Arial that changes in this movie is that she is rebelling against her dad for love. Things that stay the same is the idea that the woman should be beautiful and kind . It also continues showing the idea that the men should fight to protect the girls because Arials dad fights to protect her and so does Erik. Then the same social theme at the end they get married and everything is happy.

Then there is a cluster of movies that follow this coming out pretty close together Beauty and the Beast 1991, Aladdin 1992, Pocahontas 1995, Mulan 1998. These all follow the changing theme Bell from Beauty in the beast still fits in to the beautiful and kind category but the new theme is she is rebelling against society’s standers of what a women should be. Her father is supportive and Bell is not looking for love she is looking for whatever will make her happy in life. The enemy is now a forceful man Gaston who is trying to force her into marriage which she doesn’t do. Bells father is captured by a beast she takes his place to save him and ends up seeing the inner beauty of the beast. They have to fight against Gaston and the village to be together. They live happily ever after. Changing roles in this include fighting to be scene as an intulect. There is the same theme of the woman having to teach the man to be civilized in the Beauty and the beast as there is with snow white having to teach the dwarphs how to act. However in this movie Beauty saves her dad and Beast.

Alladin which came out in 1992 is special because it is a switch in roles in a way instead of the girl marrying a prince at is a guy marrying the princess and the enemy is a man named Jaffar who wanted power. In that sense the roles are switched in this movie but it still does have some of the same characteristics as the previose movies. The princess does still need to be fought for and saved in order for alladin to be with her.  The princess is also rebelling against her dad in this movie. This is significant because the changes in the social roles in these movies is going along with the shift in world view . The next movie in this particular shift in time and gender roles is  Pocahontas that came out in 1995 like little mermaid she is rebelling against her dad because she does not want to marry the man he wants her to marry. John Smith who she wanted to be with was considered an enemy because the people he was with is trying to take the land that Pocahontas and her people were living on and they were going to war. The shift in this movie is that Pocahontis saves John Smiths life and instead of going home with him she stays with her father and the people in the village she lives in. The last movie in this shift of world view is Mulan which came out in 1998 she is also a rebellion because she is supposed to be a nice traditional Chinese lady when going to the match maker she did not fit the part which is bad for he families honor. Her handicapped dad gets drafted into the army so in a way she rebelled because she dresses up as a man and joined the army in her dads place as his son.  While on this adventure she meets her love but there is obsticles in the way.

Now we enter the next era. The princess and the frog comes out in 2009 11 years after the previous slew of princess movies. In this movie Tiana does not care about love what so ever she is all business. Her goal was to save money and open a resturaunt a careless prince who has had his money taken came into her life. He was looking for a princesses they get turned into frogs and have to go through various battles to be turned back into humans in the end they fell in love. The enemy in this movie is a man who does voodoo magic. This movie is very different from the other ones because the girl is not looking for love and has a set goal that can be accomplished through working all the time. The male role is the one who is the one that is in need of help and both people had different interest in their journey it is not until the very end that they fall in love. The next movie that comes out is Brave in 2012 this movie is about a girl who is a tomboy and her mom does not like it because she is supposed to act like a princess. When the girl reaches marrying age and several boys are brought in to win the opportunity to marry her. The girl is outraged and visits a witch and gets a potion to change her mom. The potion changes her mom into a bear and her dad is all about killing bears. In the end the conflict is resolved she doesn’t have to get married and the girl and her mom learn a lesson about their love for eachother. This is very different than the other themes because the role is being changed to the girl setting her own goals, rebelling, and the love relationship was with her mom. The issue was not with a person but was a bear which was a symbol of their issues that needed to be resolved.

The last movie is frozen this movies enemy is the princess Elsa power to freeze things that she cannot control and it gets worse when she is having a hard time controlling her emotions. She used to be good friends with her sister Auna but she could not talk to her anymore because she wanted to protect her from her powers. At Elsa’s crowning ceremony the two girls get in a fight Elsa accidently reveals her power accidently sets the town into internal winter and runs away into the woods. Auna who got engaged after a day ran off to find her the two girls fight and Elsa accidently freezes Auna heart and she could only be saved by an act of true love. Elsa did not know she froze Auna’s heart but when she gets back Auna is frozen because Auna and her fiancé turned out not to be true love. In the end the act of true love was a hug given to Auna from Elsa. No one gets married at the end Auna dates a guy who is better for her and does not rush things and Elsa learns to control her emotions. This is following today’s changes in the views of the world because the theme of the movies is switching to being in control of your emotions and loving your family the more time goes on the more the gender roles becomes less important and knowing more about yourself becomes important.


The Social Drama of a Convenience Store , or Symbolic gestures of romance and the distinction of flattering or creepy

At the convenience store that I work at there is currently social drama between two social actors, boy working behind the register and regular female costumer.

Act one girl meets boy

Boy working behind the register has just began his nightly shift at the convenience store.  He is 19 years of age and has a more athletic physical build.  He would be considered attractive in the current standards of our society.  He counts his drawer in and begins to ring up customers.  Enter into the scene Regular female costumer she is 24 years of age, and has an average or less than average appearance ,depending our who you would ask, in the current standards of our society.  This information is important because they factor in the the perceptions of symbols.  During both first and second hand observations Regular female customer does not make conversation, she does not wear makeup, she does not smile or make eye contact, and she completes her transaction and leaves.  This been repeated and observed again and again.  I as your narrator only stress to the solidify my observations of the symbols that are about to occur.  Regular female customer gets into Boy working behind the register’s line when she reaches the counter she makes the following statement.  

Regular female customer:  Do you know that you look like Zac Efron?

This is the first symbol of attraction by flattering Boy working behind the register by comparing him to a “sexy celebrity”

Act two getting to know you

Regular female customer shows more symbolic gestures of interest in Boy working behind the register by making sure she comes in when he is working, and to always be rang up by him.  More symbolic advances in the hopes of romance are performed when she continues to try and spark conversation with him to gain knowledge of his interests.  Symbolic gestures are literally written on her face as she has begun to wear makeup, which in our cultures is symbolic with looking prettier.  She has gone so far as to ask other employees about Boy working behind the register, and asked when he was working next. All of this is molding the perception of Regular Female customer to Boy working behind the register and, not including your narrator, other employees.  

Act three Perception

This is the final act of our social drama due to current social standards of what is attractive Boy working behind the register has perceived all of Regular female customers’ advances as creepy.  My information for this part was not observed by related to me from fellow employees that he explained his disinterest in her thoroughly, and she has not returned to the store.  The point your narrator would like to make is this.  If Regular female costumer was seen as “more attractive” by Boy working behind the register would he still have interpreted your symbols as creepy or would they have been seen as flattering.   My interpretation is that  symbolic gestures in romance and sexual attraction are either perceived as flattering or creepy based on the how “sexually attractive” the other actor finds the performer of these symbols.           


Do you wanna be a Weeaboo?

Anime Central, the Midwest’s largest Anime Convention, is coming this weekend and I am unbelievably excited to attend. This is my third year and as a “Con veteran”, I have learned what is considered appropriate “Con” etiquette. How you dress around and how you speak with other anime fans will portray your social capital within the anime community.


weeaboo_chan_by_tachola-d5pe2l8(Thank you tachola.deviantart.com)

This is not good for social capital. This is a Weeaboo, an obnoxious anime fan who is constantly expressing their love of all things anime (and may not actually know much) and attempting to code switch by excessively using Japanese words. This is not seen as an acceptable practice and a Weeaboo is often the butt of a joke.

This concept reminds me of Bourdieu’s work. He looked at social fields, wanting to know how society decided what was appropriate behavior and what was not. So at an anime convention with a great deal of the anime being Japanese-based, using “kawaii” or “-san” jokingly or using the term because no other term suffices would be considered okay, but using it all of the time becomes unacceptable. “We all know you’re not Japanese, so stop pretending you are.” It’s offensive, really. There’s a line.

There is social capital present, another concept of Bourdieu. The best cosplayers and veteran con-goers have the best social capital, with Weeaboos at the opposite of the spectrum. The cosplayers who are known by name have major social capital and people will “follow” their work on social media. Some fans will travel from afar to see them in person. There is a balance between what is considered awesome and what is overdoing it. This, of course, could definitely create social inequalities and creates differences in social power. It could change what is acceptable Con behavior and what is not! The whole social field surrounding anime conventions could change!

Maybe the Weeaboos will overrun the Con world and become the norm. The concept and definition of a Weeaboo could change and it quite possibly could in the future. The term “otaku”, for example has changed. In its truest form, it means to describe a “creepy guy who lives in his mom’s basement”. However, in the current anime world, “otaku” is used to describe someone who is inside all day because they’re watching anime. At anime conventions, it is okay to be an “otaku”. So maybe the Weeaboo thing will eventually change and that term will be used as something that is considered good, and because social fields and social capital are not physical entities, their fluidity is totally possible. Every year Anime Central does change. Every year Anime Central has new anime fans and cosplayers of new anime that came out within the last year. What is acceptable Con etiquette could easily change.

Weeaboo is the new black?