Monthly Archives: June 2009

The Unknown Dangers of Social Networking Sites

Facebook. Twitter. MySpace. These social networking websites have become ever pervasive in modern life. They allow us to keep up with friends and family, as well as keep tabs onformer classmates and co-workers.  They also serve many psychological functions such as providing a sense of being connected to others (however difficult it may be to establish the meaningfulness of these online relationships), a social comparison function, and bolstering one’s sense of identity (in that we can see ourselves through what others post about us or in response to us.)

Despite the positive functions of these sites we may be exposing ourselves to an undesirable loss of privacy and even public scrutiny regarding the content we post online. Rusty DePass, a South Carolina Republican activist, wrote a private message to a friend that included a racist remark targeted at First Lady Michelle Obama. A local political blogger saw this message and now DePass’s comments are public fodder. While DePass’s case may not be the most sympathetic it does call into question the protections in place for content we would like to keep to ourselves or among close friends. Robin Wauters, a blogger for TechCrunch, recently wrote about FBHive a website which will allow anyone to take advantage of a security loophole to view private profile information. The fun innocuous image of sites like Facebook give users an apparently unwarranted sense of safety regarding the security of their “private” thoughts, feelings, and images.

Internet and Popular Culture

Internet and Popular Culture


Online Social Networking

square-eye.png Racist Joke Exposed on Facebook

square-eye.png Illusion of Privacy on Facebook: FBHive Hackers

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Cristiano Ronaldo: The Brand

Cristiano_Ronaldo_-_april09When Real Madrid recently announced Christiano Ronaldo’s transfer from Manchester United for £80 million, they were not only bargaining for the footballing skills of the world and European player of the year, but also the whole Ronaldo ‘brand’. Ronaldo is recognized internationally as a household name successfully marketing brands like Nike and Fuji Xerox, but also indirectly marketing the lasted fashions, accessories (many of his own CR7 products) and grooming products along with tanning and waxing his body.

Like David Beckham, the Ronaldo ‘brand’ and avant-garde image allow heterosexual men to engage with ‘metrosexual’ fashion and grooming products. Yet metrosexuality and men’s personal adornment can often be problematic because it openly invites a homoerotic gaze whilst also entering the feminised realm of consumption. In order to avoid anxieties over sexuality, and still allow men to consume these ‘metrosexual’ products without threatening their ‘straight’ masculinity, the Ronaldo ‘brand’ continues to align itself with stereotypical masculine attributes such money, fame and sexual prowess. This provides us then, with an interesting glimpse of the changing face of contemporary men and masculinities and the continued allegiance to more conventional masculine scripts.

Square-eye The Metrosexual


Square-eye Masculinity and Consumption


Square-eye Ronaldo vs Becks ‘Who is the biggest metrosexual of them all?


Square-eye Cristiano Ronaldo is the real deal

Categorising Susan Boyle

SusanBoyle_2Piers Morgan’s recent article (and other media commentary) regarding ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ phenomenon Susan Boyle tells us something about the use of categories and the terms and their deployment. The reaction from the panel and the audience to her dream of becoming a professional singer like Elaine Page was ‘hilarity’, ‘eye-rolling’ and ‘loud guffaws’. Why was that? The answer Piers gives is that she was ‘middle-aged’, ‘feisty’ and a ‘funny lady’.

Categories carry huge amounts of culturally rich common-sense knowledge. If a category is applied to, or if a person applies it to himself or herself, that person is presumed to embody the social knowledge about that category and have the appropriate category-bounded attributes. If not, that person is seen to be an exception, different, or even a phoney. Presumably then, the category predicates that Piers provides ‘middle-aged’, ‘feisty’ and a ‘funny lady’ did not match the category-bounded attributes associated with the famous singer for which she dreamed of being. Consequently the panel and the audience surmised she was likely to be a phoney member. As Piers eloquently puts it, ‘We’d committed the oldest sin in the talent- show book  – judging a book by its cover’.


Read the article in the Mail on Sunday


Square-eyeRead more about categorisation

Terminator Masculinity

MSOnce again in ‘Terminator Salvation’,  Skynet and its army of Terminators threaten humanity with extinction. Set in post–apocalyptic 2018, the heroes of the film are not surprisingly both men – John Connor and Marcus Wright – who are fighting predominantly male-body inspired Terminators. Hollywood’s use of men as action heroes is nothing new (e.g. Sylvester Stallone, John Wayne), but what is particularly concerning is its continued fascination with idealized forms of men and masculinity. For example, men tend to be depicted as physically and emotionally tough, courageous, unfazed in the face of death and predominantly heterosexual. Such portrayals often serve as reference points for men to construct and regulate appropriate masculine behaviours whilst continuing to sustain conventional notions of gender difference. Unfortunately though, representing men in such narrow terms fails to embrace men’s own lived experiences and helps to sustain the marginalization of other masculinities and women.


Read the Guardian film review



Read more about idealised masculinities