COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Explicit TV and an Unhindered Internet: How It Affects Teenagers

In Culture, Manhattan, Media, Upper East Side, Upper West Side on July 17, 2009 at 6:13 pm

by Aanchal Gulati

Photo by Flickr user Tedi

Photo by Flickr user Tedi

Media started out with basic news, but now people depend on it, so it isn’t too farfetched to ask the question: Is media corrupting the way people act and think?

Even though some have their own set path and don’t care what the media says, many are influenced by it and let the media control what they think.

Shows like Gossip Girl and NYC Prep are taking over television. Don’t get me wrong, those shows are hilarious, amusing and addicting, but I can’t help but laugh at the desires of these elite teenagers.  It’s even obvious to see that the characters of Gossip Girl are becoming the role models of the teenagers on NYC Prep. Chuck Bass is a fantastic character… for a fiction show. But the fact that PC, from NYC Prep, clearly attempts to be Chuck Bass, a partying, out of control rich kid, is disgusting and I’m sure he’s not the only one who looks up to a glamorous character from Gossip Girl. The idea of having money and doing whatever one wants with it is alluring, but it’s not realistic.

The fact that NYC Prep is a “reality” show really gives people an excuse to act like Kelli, Taylor, PC, Sebastian, Jessie and Camille. As long as one doesn’t do anything as horrid or  as them, people think it’s acceptable.  But, is it really? If one’s main priority in high school is their social status, is absurd. Taylor, from NYC Prep, even said “Sebastian’s in prep school, and it would be better for my social status. He also has money.” When comparing Sebastian, and Cole, her previous boyfriend from public school. How shallow can one get?

When watching shows about the elite, the characters tend to dress over the top, and always look like they spend hours on their appearance.. The girls are a size two and always have the latest clothes. The boys always have the coolest pairs of sneakers. Out of personal experience, I will say, people do go through their money to look like them, because it’s one step closer to living the exciting lives we see on TV.

It’s one thing to drink and party, but to drink underage on national television? The cast of NYC Prep show the teenagers going clubbing, drinking and hooking up with random strangers.  It’s not only ruining the futures of the adolescents, but its convincing teenagers to follow their actions. Statistics have shown that 74/3% teenagers have had one or more drinks in their life time.  The cast makes it look like they’re having the times of their lives, so of course the people watching at home go out and emulate them.

Even though we loathe the lives of those on television, they miss out on the simplest things. It’s clear the characters from Gossip Girl and NYC Prep, with the exception of a few, aren’t close with their families. Though they’re allowed to go clubbing and spend millions of dollars on clothes, they have parents that aren’t ever home. They have to learn to be independent at the age of ten. The teenagers of NYC Prep lack privacy. If they do one stupid thing, it’s on television, there’s no going back and erasing it. These characters don’t have boundaries, and even though one might take that as a good thing, being raised without any structure causes people make bad decisions. They may be minor like failing tests, or drinking a cup of alcohol, but they may be drugs and becoming unconscious in a room of scary people. They lack the security that most have.

Even though TV is a significant cause in the rise of media, but it isn’t the only thing that should be blamed. I know from where I live, teens are constantly on the internet, for school or in their spare time.

The internet is probably the main cause of the expansion of media. Almost everyone uses it and even though it’s extremely important and useful, it’s also uncensored. When I picture a little kid on the computer, I see him/ her playing a game that comes with the computer, but if there aren’t any parental controls, kids can look up anything they want. If a little boy or girl types in a wrong URL in the address box, there’s no way of knowing what he/she figures out or witnesses. The internet causes children to not fully comprehend what they’re learning on it, and causes children to lose their innocence at an earlier age.

Now, everyone is part of a social networking website, whether it’s Facebook, MySpace or Friends or Enemies, and with the internet advertising it so much, it’s hard not to get addicted to them.  Almost everyone I know has a Facebook; it’s one of the main ways to communicate. If someone doesn’t have a Facebook, he/she is totally out of the loop and often doesn’t know what the latest news is. The media makes it necessary for everyone to have a Facebook, MySpace or Friends or Enemies account in order to be relevant.

Blogs or personal websites are where one person or a group of people are able to put whatever they want on the internet. If someone stumbles across the blog or website that’s subject matter is controversial, argument can start up. And, most know that if word gets out, the argument about the internet will be all over the internet.

Kids and teenagers also come across websites that put themselves in danger. Of course, it comes in many different forms. One website may be about suicide where the other may be about starving oneself to lose a couple pounds. Kids, of all ages, may just stumble across a chat room and give too much information. There are definitely ways one can hurt himself on the internet.

Media is extremely important in the society we live in today. But, slowly it’s starting to ruin some the mind of people and if it progresses the way it does, the media will focus on less important things and it will be all anyone yearns for.

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The Fight for Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia: Political Policy vs. Islamic Religon

In Culture, Religion on July 17, 2009 at 5:45 pm

by Kimberley Charles 

Since the beginning of civilization, one of the foremost issues experienced women has been the idea of gender bias in the form of discrimination. In nearly all societies, with the exception of tribes such as the Bantu in early Africa, the majority of civilizations were patriarchal- with women usually treated as a lower class all together. 

New ideas and innovations of later centuries has brought the world to the idea that women are not inferior to men in any way, shape or form. Sure, it took thousands of years, but the idea in itself has become manifested in on a global scale. We now live in world with an open mind and documents such as the Declaration of Human Rights (created in 1948), which extends ethical principles to every person born on this planet.

 

(AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

(AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

 

Yet, in existence are countries, which put women under strict laws and religious structure that often mimic times comparable to the beginnings of Islam. At this forefront is Saudi Arabia, along with a number of similar Middle Eastern Countries. 

Just to give you an idea of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, whenever in public, or even in the presence of their own homes, Saudi Arabian women are required to wear certain dress, called an abaya- all parts of the body covered with only a slit or sheer material covering the eyes and nose. Women are allowed to go to school and study, but are not allowed to study subjects such as law and engineering. They cannot travel or vote without permission from a male guardian or some sort of government office. 

So the real question is, where do these customs come from? Although believed to be religious, much of such Saudi Arabian ideals are of interpretation of Muhammad’s writings and political aspects of life. In fact, according to Muhammad, who made many sentiments about human rights, “The best of you is the best to his wives” in addition to, “God commands us to treat women nobly. The more civil and kind a Muslim is to his wife, the more perfect of faith he is.” It is easy to deduce in this sense that Muhammad never told his followers to treat women as a lower class and as inferiors. In any case, it is somewhat a proof to the sentiment that women’s rights (or more specifically, lack thereof) is more of a political policy than religious. 

In the realm of dressing, the Quran states, “Say to the believing women that they should not display their beauty and ornament except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosom and not display their beauty, except to their husbands, their father, husbands’ fathers, sons, their husbands’ sons, their brother’s sons or sister’s sons, their women, their slaves or male attendants who lack feet as to revel what they hide of their adornment.” As positively seen in this quotation, Islamic law does not state that women should wear shapeless robes which cover their entire body. As in numerous cultures, women must be modest and not indecorous in dressing and manner. It is understandable to say that Saudi Arabian law is that of the Quran, but it is a general belief that such ideas are somewhat radical and extreme. It is easy to see that the overlooked part of this quotation is the fact that men should outwardly show modesty to women as well; only family members can see a woman without such overbearing clothing. Muhammad wanted modesty, as did many other religious leaders and deities of other religions around the world. 

Regarding social, political, and economic activity, the Quran states minimal information. In accordance with the time it was written, the holy book did not necessarily lay down any laws for what women could and could not participate in. As according to the Quran, once again, “And they (women) have rights similar to those (of them) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them.”  Noted in the words of Muhammad is the idea that men do have superiority- but that is not to say that women are inferior beings. At the time of its conception, women’s rights and suffrage was unheard of- therefore it is expectation that men would be the bread winners of most civilizations during Muhammad’s revelation. 

One facet of Saudi Arabian life, which is seen as untraditional from the sense of countries such as the United States is the fact that women, when allowed to study, are extremely limited in choice and career. As quoted from the Quran, “Seeking of knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim man and women.” According to teaching, women are more than encouraged to take up education. It would even be more specific to say that all of the believers and followers of Muhammad were and are encouraged to obtain any sort of learning. Yet, women in countries such as Saudi Arabia are not allowed to study a great amount of subjects due to unquestioned male superiority. 

Luckily, however, women in Saudi Arabia are slowly seeing their lives turn for the better in consideration of women’s rights. The level of education in places like Saudi Arabia has slowly increased since 1991. More and more women are campaigning for their rights on a political scale. Books such as The Dawn of Saudi, by Homa Pourasgari, has opened up a new horizon for change. 

Works cited: 

Al-Hariri, Rafeda. Islam’s Point of view on Women’s Education in Saudi Arabia. 1st ed. Vol. 23. Ser. 10. Taylor and Francis, Ltd. JSTOR. 10 June 2009.

As Musician and Critic, Nick Sylvester Fine-tunes His Craft

In Music Profile, Music Review, New York City on July 17, 2009 at 6:29 am

by Will Hayward

Ask anyone in a record store, at a concert, or on a band’s chat room and they’ll tell you “music is my life.” But for Nick Sylvester, it actually is. In his office where he produces online video for the Colbert Report, band posters, a stack of records, drumsticks and a standing drumpad illustrate that though Sylvester has put music writing on the backburner, music has not left him.

When he’s not working for the Colbert Report, Sylvester plays drums in a band called Mr. Dream, runs a zine called Perineum, and opines on music on his blog Riffmarket.

Sylvester’s band formed last year after a Jay Reatard concert in early 2008 at the Club Europa in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn.

“Adam [Moerder] and Matt [Morello] were both friends of mine, and they were both interested in making music with me.  They both ended up getting along well and all of our tastes overlapped enough that we were able to form Mr. Dream,” Sylvester said.

Before producing video for the Colbert Report, Sylvester wrote for several esteemed music publications such as Pitchfork, The Village Voice, and The Phoenix. Sylvester’s years as a music journalist firmly entrenched him in the Brooklyn music scene, and he believes these connections have helped Mr. Dream greatly.

“We’ve been really lucky in knowing people who are involved [in the Brooklyn music scene]. “Friends have helped us make demos, get our first gigs, and learn about the recording process,” Sylvester said.

“We’re very lucky. We can put out something that sounds less shitty,” he added.

Sylvester is well aware of the pressures of being both a critic and a musician.

“I’ve definitely thought about [being a critic and a musician]. I’ve seen what happens to other critics who put out records. It’s so atomized, some people tend to view them as ‘critics who make music’, not musicians,” he said.

“I think about what it’s like being a musician in relation to the bands I’ve torn apart [in reviews], and I think I’m a lot more sympathetic about the process of being in a band and producing even just one or two songs.”

Sylvester described the experience of going to a rehearsal area, and how it shifted his perspective on music criticism.

“When you walk down the hallways of these multi-room rehearsal spaces, and you hear all of this different music, and you haven’t heard of a single band that’s rehearsing there, and you think that there are these bands whose music you actively disagree with, and yet you see them working so hard, and you know that this is just rehearsal, this isn’t even getting gigs (which is a whole different process), you definitely back off after seeing that,” he said.

“I’m aware of the struggle, and why they’d be upset if a 19-year-old writes bad things about their music,” he added.

Sylvester views this shift as positive in his criticism of music.

“I think [being in a band] makes me a better critic. I can hear frequencies I didn’t hear before. I can hear and I can articulate why I like or don’t like the music and specifics like why a bridge in a song fails or why it lacks this indescribable energy. Playing music every day, you become a better listener,”

Sylvester’s history with music harks back to his younger years.

“[When I was younger] I was a professional trumpeter in a Bar Mitzvah band. I imagined myself doing this and becoming one of those old people who talks about jazz records.  I got my wisdom teeth pulled, the surgery was botched and that sidelined that career.”

“My entire family’s been involved with music. My father played drums for Philadelphia general business bands, so on the weekends he’d always be going to play. My mom’s family also was very musical. My biggest influence was my grandfather though,” he said.

“My grandfather was a serious jazz trumpeter, like 1st chair in the army, one of those weirdos with perfect pitch, and he paid for my private trumpet lessons,” he said, “We didn’t have a lot to talk about except jazz. It was never criticism, just talking about things in the music. When I gave up trumpet it was a really big deal. We ran out of things to talk about, and in an interesting way our relationship sort of nosedived. Even today my grandmother will say, straight out: ‘he wouldn’t be happy with you playing drums’.”

Sylvester’s teen years were when he became interested in rock, particularly Nirvana.

“I was upstairs listening to Nirvana’s Bleach when I was fourteen years old, and my mom didn’t understand why I was listening to it. She knew what rock was, but she felt like I should be listening to jazz. I would have to hide it by listening to it on my headphones and recording punk bands on Princeton radio and then listening to them on the bus the next day,” he said.

The music of his teen years formed the groundwork for the sound Sylvester aims for with Mr. Dream.

“I think we want to be this intense clash of beautiful and disgusting. I never liked music that was merely pretty or merely violent. We’re trying to find a beauty in one form emerging from another.”

“We’re in line with what Nirvana was trying to do. Granted, I’m sure they didn’t sit there and say ‘we’re trying to mix pretty and nasty’, and I know I don’t when I’m writing a song. Great songs are beautiful but not sappy.”

Nick Sylvester’s band Mr. Dream is recording their first 7-inch record this summer. Information about purchasing it can be found here.