Digital Literacy is Making Me Think

TV shows are good and all, and I do enjoy the occasional article, but this whole “analyzing media” makes me dissect these almost too much, to the point where I can hardly enjoy anything I read or watch, especially online.

I analyzed Black Mirror: Fifteen-Million Merits for my JMC class.  This is a futuristic sci-fi on the effects of technology and media on society.  The people are stuck inside, pedaling for electricity, and having every move regulated.  The protagonist tries to break this cycle, resulting in the woman he loves being subjected to a porn show.

The reoccurring theme in this is the dependence of humanity on media and technology, which ultimately foreshadows the possible future of our society.

This approach works.  The message of fear gets across through the severity of the circumstances, especially fear in the monotony of the day to day life.  The audience does feel that fear and desire to change after watching this episode, and there are many online forums where these issues are discussed, stemming from the episode.  Although nothing substantial has changed on human dependency on technology since the release of this episode in 2011, the thought and conversation can be considered a success for Black Mirror.


German Poetry for an English Speaker

For those of us more scientifically and analytically inclined, poetry can difficult. Poems are a tricky art; rather than painting canvases or modeling clay, poets craft their masterpieces from the selfsame words used to email a co-worker or write a shopping list. As a mathematics major, I like my ideas to be clean and clear. I like exact answers and definitions. In my experience, that does not mesh well with poetry. I cannot clearly define poetry, I cannot list the criteria for a text to be considered a poem. Poetry is a form of artistic expression and therefore fights such restraints. Despite this, I am fairly decent at recognizing the poetry I do encounter. Sometimes it is the rhyming scheme, sometimes the ebb and flow of emphasized syllables, but generally, one thing or another will tip me off, so to speak, that I am reading or listening to a piece of art. That is, provided the poem is in English.

A few weeks ago I attended a German poetry night at the urging of my German instructor. Having never studied German before college, I could only understand bits and pieces of the recitations. In Jabberwocky, Lewis Carroll wrote nonsensical verses, stuffing them with made-up words. To my ears, German poetry sounds much like Jabberwocky, a few basic words are clear, but the others are undefined. One thing that surprised me about the event was that I frequently had trouble recognizing the rhythm of the poems. I could pick out instances of basic alternate rhyming schemes, but the other forms of poetry, especially those relying on the meaning of certain words, sounded merely to be choppy nonsense sentences. It made me begin to consider how a different culture would draft epics and convey sweeping grandeur with a different language.

Those who have studied a language know that literal translations only work for basic sentences. Before very long the literal translation becomes jagged and crude. It becomes necessary to paraphrase if you will, the meaning being conveyed. In German, I can say I am doing well with the phrase “Mir geht es gut.” Translated word for word, it would be along the lines of “To me goes it good.” German, like all languages, has its own quirks, idioms, and “strange” structures. It only makes sense that German poetry would reflect these. In fact, this particular phenomenon came into play when translating the Harry Potter series. Translators ran into great difficulty replicating the rhymes and puns J.K. Rowling had worked into the text. A German translator, Klaus Fritz, was forced to call Diagon Alley” simply by the name of Winklegasse, or “Corner Alley,” thereby losing the play on words. Interestingly enough, he manipulated the text slightly to achieve the same humorous feel, as he could not directly replicate the jokes.

I attended the poetry reading out of curiosity, not expecting to get much out of it. In one sense I did not; I listened for over an hour to words I did not understand, spoken with passion but with masked meaning. In a different sense, however, it was time well spent. I walked away with a question that asked me to take a closer look at the assumptions I held with certainty. As students, limited in our current knowledge, is that not what we should expect from the international events on campus? Are they not only for our entertainment but also another opportunity for us to learn?

(In looking up the name of the German Harry Potter translator, I stumbled across this article about translating the series. It touches briefly on the issues and approaches of translating the books into various different languages. It is not an in-depth analysis, but if you are a fan of Harry Potter, you may find it an interesting read:

About Me

“About Me’s” are the most ambiguous and tedious posts to construct, but I will try my absolute best to humor you with a brief reconciliation of who I am.

I live a very privileged upper middle-class life within the southern suburbs of Tulsa, Oklahoma, but recently, relatively speaking, I fled the nest to further my education at the University of Oklahoma. I plan to graduate with a degree in accounting due to its stability and perspective job growth, but I am also considering a master’s in Business Administration. I intend to engage in the global market, so I am considering double majoring in International Business. I am just a meager freshman, so I have time to figure out my life. I am also a member of the Global Fellowship and the Presidents Leadership Class.

Now that my scholastic formalities are out of the way I’ll get on to me. I am a dynamic and inquisitive individual with a BMI that is lower than most in my weight class. At a young age, I learned to question; whether it was a simple issue, authority, or the laws of physics. I find it to be the best way to learn. I have gathered invaluable experience, wisdom, and two broken collar bones. I have a passion for people, but it is unmatched by my enthusiasm for nature. I have two yellow labs, a coin collection, and a knack for wooing the elderly. I am musically inept, but I have rhythm rivaled only by Chuck Berry. My biggest weakness is my crippeling fear of heights and ending paragraphs.

To a degree, I am a very interesting person (with the worlds most average name), but I blend in with the crowd.

-John Moore


Informed Citizens Discussion Group

I joined Informed Citizens Discussion Group (ICDG) this semester because one of the moderators is an upperclassmen National Merit student who gave me a tour of OU when I was still in high school. So far I am extremely happy with my decision to join. The group is small, but every individual is intelligent, passionate, and thoughtful. Every week when I go, I am challenged to consider world, national, and local issues from different perspectives.

One of the best discussions we have had was surrounding Dr. Landis and Syria. Dr. Joshua Landis is the Director of the Center of Middle East Studies here at the University of Oklahoma. He entered our discussion because of an interesting article about him on Huffington Post entitled “Assad’s Man in Oklahoma.” The article seemed a little unfair to Dr. Landis to say the least, but it’s true that not everyone agrees with Dr. Landis’s approach. Landis is anti-interventionist as he sees a repeating pattern throughout history that he called the great sorting out. Post World War II Europe saw this pattern when people of different nationalities, religions, and other markers of positionality were basically forced out so that people were with their own similar group members. Landis acknowledges this is an awful process that is extremely long and extremely bloody, but he simply sees no way out of it.

Many in my ICDG agreed that the United States should not have intervened in the first place. The debate now is that since we have already intervened, what do we do now? Even anti-interventionists can see that Assad is not the ideal ruler by any stretch of the imagination. But would withdrawing and allowing Assad the victory at the very least help end this long, bloody process of the great sorting out?


The U.S. After the Loss of Castro

November 25, 2016. This is said to be the day of the death of Fidel Castro, a former military leader of Cuba. The least one could say is that he lived a life full of controversy, from the Cuban Missile crisis, to the U.S. embargo with Cuba, up to his leave of office in 2008.

With all this in mind, those whom are afflicted with death deserve respects paid to them, regardless of how others viewed them. Now, I believe it will be very interesting to see how the global community will be affected by his death.

Since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, leading to President Kennedy establishing a trade embargo with Cuba shortly thereafter, Castro has caused both Americans and Cubans to view one another in a tainted light. This all being said, the trade embargo with Cuba has been officially lifted for roughly a year now to the publication of this post.

I do not believe it would be far-fetched to believe that relations between Cuba and the United States will improve now. With the sole individual viewed as most responsible for these actions, I believe it is now time for those who opposed this man to withhold from seeing Cuba in the perspective with which they have for five and a half decades now. Trade may increase between the countries as well as tourism, with potential to boost both countries’ economies.

In the end, I think it is a sad day to see most anyone pass on, regardless of your previous view of them. With Fidel Castro now gone, it is now time to let the past be the past and look past the problems of Cuba, as the man who took on the brunt of these actions is no longer active. I do hope to see the day where relations are restored fully.


Alexis Keeling


International Event 1: Study Abroad Fair

When I first arrived at the OU Study Abroad fair at the beginning of the semester, I was honestly a little overwhelmed. At that point, I really had no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do. I was still trying to get used to life away from home, and did not even want to think about going to another country. After stopping at a few booths, I became excited about traveling abroad again. I picked up some booklets about film internships in Australia, England, and Ireland. I stopped by the OU in Arezzo booth and got some great information along with some cool pens and a cup. Finally, I picked up some information papers on summer programs from the College of Arts and Sciences in Clermont-Ferrand, France and Ireland (as well as some more cool free stuff). Visiting these booths definitely helped me narrow down my options for studying abroad. I am pretty sure that I want to study in Arezzo and in France, but I am still not a 100% sure. Because I have traveled so little in my life so far, there are so many places that I want to go and I am known for being indecisive. If you have the opportunity to visit a study abroad fair or even just any information events, I highly recommend doing so. It may seem overwhelming at the time, but you can gain so much information and answer so many questions you did even realize that you had.


About Me

This really should have been my first post (oops), so let’s pretend it was and go from there. My name is Brynna Maureen Arens and I was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I graduated as valedictorian of a class of around 175 (which is actually a high number for my district). I am currently a freshman majoring in film and media studies at the University of Oklahoma and I hope to be a movie director in the future. Even though I spend most of my time in Norman, I still consider OKC home. I live there with my mom, Sydney, my dad, Mark, my sister, Allyssa, my ferret, Alice, and my dog, Katniss. I love movies, especially those of the Marvel and Harry Potter variety. I watch way more TV shows than I should. I also enjoy reading, but do not have much time to do so anymore and that makes me a little sad. Translation: I am a super nerd and proud of it.

Here are some fun/random facts about me:

  1. I hate driving and have had my learners permit for over three years because of the anxiety it gives me.
  2. I have about 75-80% of the movie Elf memorized word for word.
  3. I love organizing things and have an unhealthy Pinterest obsession
  4. I drink at least 1-2 cups of coffee everyday
  5. I have grown up always having at least one pet dog and ferret
  6. I hate mushrooms.
  7. Worms kind of creep me out.
  8. For some reason I really like 80s music even though I do not listen to it often.

Digital Story part 2.

Update on my digital storytelling project: I think it is coming together nicely, especially considering how technologically challenged I can be sometimes. I was able to create an effect that I really wanted, and I am really happy about that. It is not a super exciting effect, but I am proud that I pushed through and got it done (even though it took me an hour). However, I had a little bit of a scare right after I finished that section. Either my laptop or the video editing website had a problem and did not show my progress for a good five minutes. I was about to curl in a ball and cry when whatever went wrong fixed itself and everything was back to as it should be (thank goodness!). The sessions with Rachel Jackson have been extremely helpful and without them I know I would be lost. This is the first time that I have ever used video editing software (which is surprising considering I am a film and media studies major), and I am immensely enjoying the opportunity to learn a new skill. Putting together a video like this may seem simple, but way more goes into it than you may think. Even though the video itself is only 1 ½ to 2 minutes, it takes hours to make sure the photos, music, videos and effects line up with the voice track. I definitely have a newfound respect for movie and TV show editors, they have to edit 1-2 HOURS of content.