The “Magic” effect on HIV

Twenty years ago, basketball hall-of-famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson made a stunning announcement.  On November 7, 1991, the Los Angeles Lakers legend told the world that he was HIV-positive and would be retiring from the National Basketball Association.  His announcement rocked the sports world.  Fans and detractors alike were shocked that such a popular, hyper-masculinized athlete could contract what had previously been seen as disease solely for the extremely deviant – the gays and the drug addicts – not for a heterosexual superstar.  With his status, Magic Johnson shed new light on what it meant to be HIV-positive.  While his story brought new attention to the disease, the media used his situation to perpetuate heterosexist and misogynistic ideals.  Johnson’s own language after his announcement helped maintain his position as a hyper-masculine and hyper-heterosexual African American athlete.  Subsequently, in the many articles that were written about him, these ideals persisted.  Johnson’s situation was undoubtedly unique, but because of what he symbolized in popular culture, he was never demonized, but rather victimized and forgiven for his heterosexual promiscuity.

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A linguistic look at Hey Arnold!

Arnold is the prototypical 4th grader.  He’s a football-headed, jazz and baseball-loving boy who lives in the city in a multi-racial boarding house with his grandparents, pet pig and numerous others.  Okay, so maybe he’s not the average kid.  The great part of Hey Arnold is the fact that his life is ordinary in the most extraordinary ways possible.  Arnold’s everyday life brings him into contact with people from all different kinds of races, cultures and dialects.  For example, Arnold hangs out with his African American best friend and lives with an Asian American and a man from the former Czechoslovakia.  Language plays an extremely important (albeit sometimes subtle) role in the television show.  While the majority of dialects can be described as Standard English, differing dialects symbolize much more.  In the ten episodes I have assessed for this project, (“6th Grade Girls,” “The Baseball,” “Gerald vs. Jamie O,” “Heat,” “Snow,” “The List,” “The Haunted Train,” “Operation: Ruthless,” “The Vacant Lot” and “Baby Oskar”) there are many varying dialects.  From the superstandard English of nerds and the covert prestige of the working class to African American Vernacular English, code-switching from English to Spanish and Asian, Czech and New York accented English, the show presents many different dialects while also often using them in stereotypical ways.

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Herstory

My culture has always been a complicated story.  I am the daughter of an Asian father and a white mother.  My family has always described me as a Heinz 57.  I love being what I consider quite multiracial, but at the same time, it is often hard to largely identify with just one culture. I am very proud of my Chinese culture, but at the same time, I am also very interested in my Irish, German, Swedish and English history.  Unfortunately, my father’s mother died before I was born, so all the Asian culture I know comes solely from my father, aunt and uncle.  I love having Chinese traditions like taking my shoes off before I enter my home.  On the other side of my family, my mother’s mother has always had a great impact in my life.  I have never looked at her in a particularly cultural or historical way, but during this project, I did learn that her family emigrated from Sweden and that her grandfather was poisoned by a jealous co-worker shortly after the Civil War.  One thing I have always known is that my grandmother is a very strong female.  I believe that my strength comes from a long line of strong women, and for this assignment I really wanted to focus on that.  I learned about just how important family and community are in tough times.  While my mother and grandmother are fairly traditional women who come from largely male-dominated worlds, I have seen how their own amazing spirits have made them more than just faces in the background of my family history.

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Walk the line

Musician.  Christian.  Songwriter.  Husband.  Father.  Addict.  Idol.  Johnny Cash was most well known for being a performer.  In his “real life” he described himself as a Christian first and foremost.  He was a Christian who chose to be an entertainer, not the other way around.  Johnny’s rise to fame (and occasional falls from grace) were best described by his deontological ethics.  He tried to live the life that he believed God had prescribed for him.  From the time Johnny was a child, he knew that he wanted to become a singer.  He was inspired by listening to songs in church and singing gospel music with his siblings in the cotton fields.  However, once he accomplished his goal of becoming a singer, he started to stray from his Christian roots.  Due to the fame that he gained, and the easy access he had to drugs and alcohol, at many times neither God nor his career was his first priority.  He got to the point where these substances were the most important thing in his life.  His musical career and his personal relationships all suffered due to this addiction.  Despite the darkness he experienced at the lowest points of his life, Johnny always kept God in the back of his mind.  Johnny realized in the retrospection of his forty-three years of ups and downs (the time at which he wrote this autobiography) that it was his faith that helped save him.  With the encouragement of those around him, especially his second wife, June Carter, he cleaned up his life and turned himself over to the Lord.  Johnny didn’t make any deep transformations throughout his life.  In fact, it was more of coming full circle that helped Johnny to realize the life that he really wanted to live.

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Guardian man

The black screen flashes on in a dark room.  A child moves the mouse towards the button labeled search.  He clicks it.  There is no turning back now.  This poor, innocent child has opened himself up to a land full of sexual photographs and immoral references.  A vast informational landscape… Surely this young child is incapable of staying away from all of the dangerous places that lurk in this tangled Web.  Of course the parents would watch him if they could, but they’re just so busy with their own lives.  In such a troubling situation, who will come to this poor boy’s rescue?  Dah dah dah dah!  It’s Internet Guardian Man to the rescue!  “Don’t worry unsupervised adolescent, I will protect you from the images and information on the Web that I deem inappropriate,” exclaims Super-Filter Man.

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