This semester was nothing but a simulation of reality…

This semester has been pretty fantastic. I really did enjoy taking this course. The media has always been interesting to me, and if this class is indicative of the other courses in the Communication major, I know the rest of my college career won’t be a chore. I honestly looked forward to all of Dr. Delwiche’s lectures. On Monday, I’d definitely like to discuss more about propaganda and the manipulative techniques associated with it. I never realized how many subtle things like signifiers and laugh tracks contributed to the overall meaning of the text.

Speaking of laugh tracks, my favorite reading this semester was “Ha, Ha, He Said” by Chuck Klosterman. Sitcoms like Friends are my favorite kinds of shows. I didn’t realize how formulaic these programs really are.

The cast of Friends, a sitcom that ran for 10 seasons in the late '90's and early '00's. The program frequently makes use of a laugh track.

When Klosterman generalized the opening exchange in an episode of Friends involving Monica, Chandler, and Joey, I realized how easily the laugh track convinces the audience that the generic jokes are funny. Here’s a clip from the same episode that demonstrates the use of a laugh track to manipulate audience reactions. I also enjoyed Klosterman’s other various articles, especially “This is Emo.” His arguments about our culture’s media-influenced idea of love versus  actual love were interesting. It so happened that we were assigned this article around the same time that I was reading Plato’s Symposium for another class. I enjoyed comparing Klosterman’s arguments about “fake” love with Plato’s arguments about love’s true nature. Klosterman’s sense of humor helped deliver his pessimistic messages in a more appetizing way. His writing was never boring to read.

On the other hand, I couldn’t stand Baudrillard. Often, it seemed as if he was being outrageous just to stir up controversy. Besides, his writing was so dense that it was difficult to dissect his language and discover his meaning. His idea in “The Spirit of Terrorism” that every American secretly hoped for the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers was pretty out there. It was an extreme opinion, but his argument in the excerpt was definitely interesting. I’m not a huge fan of the postmodernist worldview, but some of Baudrillard’s points in “Procession of Simulacrae” were also good to think about. After all, how can we be certain that what we experience is reality? It isn’t practical to live as if this were the case, but it is a possibility to consider.

Next semester, I will be taking sixteen credit hours. Since I plan to double major in English and Communication, I’m taking more of the required courses for the respective majors. I’m taking two literature courses (one British, one American) and Media Audiences. I’ve also decided that I want to add minor in one of the philosophical disciplines, either Ethics or Logic, so I’ll be taking the Ethics course. I’m taking the second half of HUMA in order to fulfill some of my Common Curriculum requirements. After this semester, I’ll be two classes away from completing the Common Curriculum. I’m also taking Body Pump because I enjoy a good workout. I can’t believe my first semester of college has come to a close. I hope I’ll be able to thoroughly enjoy the rest of my time here–I don’t want it to pass too quickly.

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