The PATH To Healing

The unforgettable tragedy that took place on September 11, 2001 was a major hit for all Americans. Early Tuesday morning starting at 8:45 a.m. two American Airline planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. The disaster caused a large explosion that poured burning pieces and reminisce of the building onto the city of New York, the people, and tourist that were witnessing the tragedy from below.This attack towards the country left millions of Americans devastated. Many people lost family members such as mothers, fathers, sisters, and bothers. Furthermore, the majority of  men and woman that were the first responders to the sight such as fire fighters, policeman, and paramedics lost their lives as well.

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This catastrophe left the country painfully in mourning, and brought Americans to a really low point. Fortunately, as Americans always do, we push on to see a better day. Since the major event the city of New York has built a memorial in memory for the people, and heroes that lost their lives in the attack. There was a lot that took place in the construction of the memorial. In 2003 The Lower Manhattan Developers Corporation (also know as LMDC) had an open call for different architects from around the world to submit prospective plans for the future memorial. After various arguments and controversy, in 2004 LMDC announced their choice for the memorial. The corporation chose the Ground Zero Memorial sight by architect Michael Arad. The memorial presented the opportunity of peace of mind for the many mourning with broken hearts.

Since the development of The Ground Zero Memorial the city of New York has continued to build and become the metropolis that we know today. Today, a large project is in mid construction, which is causing a lot of controversy. Primarily due to the structure being only a couple of yards from the Ground Zero sight.

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 Calatrava’s revised WTC PATH Station proposal

The PATH station is expected to be the most expensive station in history. The World Trade Center Transportation Hub is a transit and retail complex is presently under construction by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava designed the elaborate constructions. In the unveiling of construction in 2004 the estimated price was 655 million dollars. In continuing the construction the price has exceeded over 4 billion dollars, and counting. The construction has cost an enormous amount of money, and is very elaborate with its long steel wings poised gracefully above the September 11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan. Some people believe that the form, and built of the new PATH Station is taking away from the actual Ground Zero memorial. This has become very offensive for many Americans (as viewed here in The Angry Architect Article). Citizens are seeing this new construction as a way for the city of New York to put a profit on an organic tragedy event. The world trade center memorial is a place to remember the thousands of Americans that were lost, and is not be seen as a tourist attraction for proceeds.

“Storey argued that there is a political dimension to popular culture; neo-Gramscian hegemony theory “… sees popular culture as a site of struggle between the ‘resistance’ of subordinate groups in society and the forces of ‘incorporation’ operating in the interests of dominant groups in society.” A postmodernist approach to popular culture would “no longer recognize the distinction between high and popular culture”


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On the other end of the spectrum citizens feel that PATH Station construction is a opportunity for the city to build it’s strength back up, and to be viewed as the “Big Apple” the city of dreams, and opportunity. The argument regarding The PATH Station’s location is a reasonable argument. This controversy is an example of the agenda-setting theory. The media such as certain news broadcasting stations profoundly emphasize the disaster. They then recoil and vividly discuss the location of the PATH station being next to the “amazing” memorial. The media sets up the viewers mind to see the new construction as a negative idea rather than looking at it as a growth for the city. Is it to soon for the city to make decision like this? If so, when is it the best time for the city to regrow?

Dream Catchers, Dandelions & Infinity Signs

Tattoos are widely recognized as one of the oldest and most meaningful art forms. What was once frowned upon and even illegal is now a key part of 21st century pop culture. Tattoos used to be most common among motorcyclists, criminals, gang members and people of the armed forces. Now, the fastest growing demographic of people getting tattoos is middle class, suburban, white women. Marketing for tattoo services is heavily directed at mainstream customers. The art has become more popular and mainstream than ever, especially among women; the question is, why?

w430-68de7“Tattoos have played 2 primary roles in human culture, as a mark of deviance or decoration.”

Deborah Davidson

The art of tattooing has certainly evolved since it’s start. Egyptians started as early as 4000 BC. The Japanese started around 500 BC for cosmetic and religious purposes, as well as to brand criminals. In the Neolithic period and in tribes tattooing was practiced during religious ceremonies and as a rite of passage. In South America at least 30% of the tribal population was said to be tatted, women more heavily than men.  In the United States, the first official tattoo parlor came about in 1890 in New York City. They earned an unfavorable reputation when Christianity deemed tattoos to be a part of the Wiccan faith. In the 19th century, women were supposed to be pure and weren’t to express their desires or individual taste so women with tattoos were highly frowned upon, they were considered “loose.” In the early 20th century, tattoos were stigmatized and even illegal in some places. Until the late 1900’s, tattooing was largely connected with only 2 groups: the armed forces and criminals. With the 1960’s came a booming popularity due to the mainstreaming of the biker and hippie culture. In the 1970’s influential rock stars like the Rolling Stones incorporated tattoos into their look. By the 80’s they accepted by much broader parts of mainstream society. The status of tattoos had steadily evolved from anti-social activity in the 60’s to a trendy, fashion statement in the 90’s. Tattoos became more popular because they are being worn by celebrities, athletes, and are being marketed within the fashion industry. By the 1990’s the leading tatted demographic had become the white, suburban female.

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Tattoos’ popularity among women has risen as a result of the shifting of social implications. No matter what tattoo one gets, how big it is, where it is or how many one has, they will be judged for it, whether it is good or bad. Common perceptions of people with tattoos are that they are adventure seekers, less inhibited, and are more promiscuous than those without. Nonetheless, the social implications of people with tattoos, women specifically have largely changed throughout the years. Girls with tattoos are being idolized more than ever, especially in music of all genres and in the media. Websites like tumblr and pinterest play a big part in the up and comming love for girls with tats, often featuring them in a very attractive and sexual way. I believe ink becoming popular with celebrities, fashion models and other public figures is one of the reason tattoos have become so popular. What the elite do, the general population will follow, males and females alike. But I believe for women it’s even deeper than that. I think the rising popularity of ladies getting ink is driven purely by self-esteem. Due to the fact the media now sets such a high, unrealistic standard for beauty, it’s harder to have confidence in oneself.  Lacan’s Theory of “the mirror” explains this phenomenon well.

He considers the point at which a child recognizes their own reflection and begin to consider how others perceive them, modifying their appearance to satisfy their perceptions of how others see them.  Mulvey extends this idea when she writes about ‘the silver screen’ which she suggest operates like a metaphorical mirror; reflecting back to the female viewer representations of female identity, but these representations are not genuine reflections of the viewer but rather male perceptions of idealized femininity.

Idealized appearance is the reason the popularity of women getting tatted is so closely related to the shifting of social implications of tattoos. Women want to get tattoos because they think it’s the thing to do, they think people will judge them differently because of it. I believe this also accounts for why so many women end up getting them removed when they become older. A 2008 paper in Archives of Dermatology reported tattoo removers are twice as likely to be women, usually white, single, college educated, and around 30 years old. They are motivated to do so by social stigma, negative comments, and because tattoos “no longer satisfied the need for uniqueness.” This also explains why so many girls get very similar ink. Someone who has a true passion for the art of tattooing wouldn’t get something that meant nothing to her just to be able to say they have a tattoo. This doesn’t go for all girls, but some girls get tattoos for other people rather than themselves, which is why they often regret it in the long run.

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I believe the fad will continue to grow and gain more acceptance. Tattooing has become a very different thing in 21st century pop culture than it was in the past.  Though I do believe eventually they will become less mainstream, true artists and ink lovers will continue to show their love for the art of tattooing and followers will fade away. Until then, get used to the dream catchers, dandelions and infinity signs, because they’re not going away anytime soon.


Frozen: Why We Can’t “Let It Go”

Disney’s animated film “Frozen” has taken the world over by storm since its theatrical release in November 2013. From two special DVD/Blu-Ray releases, two theatrical releases, and related merchandise selling out in just minutes, it’s hard to deny that everyone has a difficult time trying to “Let It Go.”  It is the story of two young princess’ named Anna and Elsa, both sisters, living in the kingdom of Arendelle. Elsa was gifted with magical ice casting powers that she is told to keep secret and under control by her parents, because as a child she accidentally hurt Anna when they were playing together one night. Unfortunately, as the sisters grow older, Elsa in seclusion from Anna, the parents unexpectedly die in a terrible shipwreck, leaving Elsa next in line to rule the kingdom. At the coronation ceremony, Anna finally sees her sister “for the first time in forever”, and learns of her secret through an argument that triggers her magic, that causes Elsa to flee in fear. During her escape however, the kingdom is frozen over in ice and snow and it’s up to Anna to rescue Elsa and restore the warm weather. Along the way she meets a talking snowman named Olaf, an ice harvester named Kristoff, and his goofy reindeer pal Sven.

So how is  “Frozen”  pop culture? I feel personally it is VERY closely linked to the success of “Let It Go” and the advertising and promotions that Disney has done in order to create the amount of success that this film has received.  In an online article by Jack Lule titled,”Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication, v. 1.0,” he quotes, “Popular culture is the media, products,Tastemakers can help keep culture vital by introducing the public to new ideas, music, programs, or products. But the ability to sway or influence the tastes of consumers can be worth millions of dollars. In the traditional media model, media companies set aside large advertising budgets to promote their most promising projects. Tastemakers are encouraged to buzz about “the next big thing.“”
Disney has used this technique to push “Frozen” into the publics eye on a daily basis using social media websites like Facebook and Twitter by advertising singing competitions of “Let It Go”, chances to win tickets to go see “Frozen on Ice”, merchandise releases, clothing and costume sales, as well as many other things.  This promotional and marketing push from the company using social media, and celebrities such as Idina Menzel (Elsa) and Kristen Bell (Anna) to show off the film, has made it a pop culture icon because it is everywhere in the stores and internet, and has an incredibly large fan base among children and adults.

(Proof it’s popular among the big kids as well.)

In an article by the New Yorker from June 25, 2014, written by Maria Konnikova, she had stated that popular baby name web site, “BabyCentre”, released a list of top 100 baby names for 2014. On it’s list, was a very familiar name known to every “Frozen” fan around the world, Elsa. The name had jumped up nearly 243 slots in just a year, a remarkable feat.  Baby names aren’t the only thing becoming influenced by the Snowy Ice Queen. Fashion designer Alfred Angelo unveiled this past year a wedding dress designed after Elsa’s own ice dress as mentioned on Inside the Magic’s blog post and Facebook page. And if that wasn’t enough, even the nerd community chimed in with their own creation of an 8 bit video game version of the popular movie as well.

(Elsa inspired wedding dress by Alfred Angelo.)

The film’s most popular song, “Let it Go” is the main fire power behind the marketing and popularity push because of its catchy tune and deep meanings behind the lyrics. The scene is incredibly powerful, depicting Elsa as lost, frightened of herself, and alone in the beginning, but within just the first stanza it climbs to show her gaining more confidence in herself, and showing who she really is and not holding back. In today’s society, everyone falls victim to bullying of one form or another, or is told to be or act, and look a certain way. With lyrics such as, “It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small, and the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all.” it’s no wonder everyone gains just a tad bit more of self confidence as they sing a long with it.. In teens and young adults, women especially are under pressure from society and various sources of media that they have to look a certain way, and even act a certain way. Elsa is raised to think like that, to think that her true self is something bad, so she has to “put on a show” or else “make one wrong move and everyone will know” of her terrible secret. However, she later on accepts herself and doesn’t care what else anyone thinks of her. Seeing such a popular and powerful woman embrace herself and express who she really is an inspiration to everyone.

In an article by Ben Raynor for, he goes on to support this theory in this quote, regarding her overcoming her fear and accepting herself:“There are so many reasons that we all have fear and shame, and this particular, complicated Disney heroine has to kind of overcome that. I think people are responding to that, to this feeling of, like, I’m going to let my own unique power out and not live in fear of whatever it is I’m dealing with, whether it’s pressure to be a good girl and be beautiful and perfect and good grades, or if it’s something  deeper.”

How long will the popularity of this film go on? Well, with it being nearly a year since its release and the popularity and hype still in full swing, it’s apparent that this “Frozen” wonderland will be around for quite some time yet. It is a pop culture phenomenon that has proven to be not only a marketing success, but also an inspiration and model for everyone facing their every day challenges.