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Transparent

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The series on Amazon Prime, Transparent, is not only about the broad issue for the LGBT community of inequality but specifically the main character, Maura, played by Jeffery Tambor is a trans-person. Maura was born a man who always felt she was a woman and hid her true self from her friends and family her entire life and waited until her children were all adults before she even came out to anyone except her wife. The show is about Maura’s process of gender reassignment, and the obstacles both she and her family face. I believe IMDB described this show the best in their summary: “An LA family with serious boundary issues have their past and future unravel when a dramatic admission causes everyone’s secrets to spill out.“ Although Transparent only has one season out so far, it has already won a plethora of awards. Jeffery Tambor who is the main character won a golden globe this year for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series. Also, the show won a golden globe for best television series. In addition to the shows golden globe awards other wins for transparent include an AFI award for TV series of the year, Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Comedy Series from the Directors Guild of America, and four awards from the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA) just in 2015 alone. Between 2014 and 2015 transparent was also nominated for five other awards.

It is my personal theory that this show inspired/have Bruce Jenner the courage to come out himself after hiding the truth about this gender his entire life. Recently Jenner has grown his hair out and been spotted out and about sporting a bright red manicure, everyone in his large family is alleged to be supportive of Jenner except for his ex wife, Kris Jenner.  In case you haven’t heard, not too long ago Bruce came out to his family that he is trans. Now he is getting his own spin off series to document his process of becoming a woman. The story line is a little similar… But this will be a reality show. Honestly, if you’ve seen season 1 of Transparent you will know that the concept of Jenner’s reality show totally mirrors Transparent.

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There have been shows and movies that have come before the show “Transparent” that have shed light on the subject of the inequality that exists for the LGBT community but not much progress has been made for the civil rights of this group really since Harvey Milk in the year 1978 when he was a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from District five. Lady Gaga tried to help in 2009, when she gave a speech about the DADT policy.  According to Wikipedia, Lady Gaga “called the October 11, 2009, National Equality March rally on the National Mall ‘the single most important event of her career.’ Gaga attended the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards accompanied by four gay and lesbian former members of the United States Armed Forces who had been unable to serve openly under the U.S. military’s ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ (DADT) policy”.  So far Laverne Cox has been the only person openly representing the transgender portion of the LGBT community. Laverne Cox is an Emmy award nominated actress and a respected African-American business person. Cox was nominated for her role as Sophia on the Netflix Original series, Orange is the New Black. In 2014 she won Glamour Award for Woman of the Year. Also in 2015, Orange Is the New Black won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance in an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. OITNB has won 30 awards and been nominated for 52.

I agree with the following point that Linda Holmes made in the article “What Monkeys Eat” because I feel that it correlates with the fact that the inequality of this group of people is not only absurd but unnecessary.

The utter lack of importance of the underlying subject, in fact, is exactly what tells you how close to the surface and at how high a temperature these conflicts are simmering. In fact, it is often those conversations about seemingly insignificant cultural issues that (for me) sheds light on what makes larger issues of war and peace and the economy so difficult to address. People absolutely make decisions about where to get information based on who understands and relates to them culturally.

In this case the underlying subject is obvious, it’s about accepting not out casting this group of people. These shows that are talking about the issues or even just using a Trans actor or actress are helping by shedding light on the subject and putting it into the collective unconscious of the people. I agree with another point that Linda Holmes made in the article “What Monkeys Eat” in which she describes the reason why pop culture is important.

Writing about popular culture is more the view from the ground. It’s looking around at the people you both live with and walk past, looking at what they’re listening to and reading and thinking about, whether it’s what they ought to be thinking about or not. In short, you don’t have to like the resonance of a moment in order to acknowledge it. And how you write about it is always going to matter more than what you’re writing about. It’s always going to be possible to write well about small things or badly about big things. It’s easy as pie to write dumb, destructive things about war or the economy or hugely critical issues — things that have the capacity to be far more of a scourge and a danger than somebody writing any of the really intelligent pieces that went around about Miley Cyrus twerking. (That, by the way, stoked all kinds of interesting conversations around race, gender, appropriation, tradition … sometimes a twerk is just a twerk, but sometimes it is emphatically not.) So no, Justin Bieber is not important. But Justin Bieber is, and for me personally, it matters what’s being said, not just what it’s being said about.

In closing, Transparent does focus on the view from the ground, and the issues and a Trans person goes through as an individual. Furthermore, Transparent touches on the view of this group as a whole, which is also helpful because you can see the big picture from their perspective. In closing, Transparent is the most progress that has been made for this community in a while, since it is all about this group of people. Shows and movies are a huge part of Media and Pop Culture because entertainment is the thing that changes the public opinion quickly, not actual serious life events. According to ETonline.com more and more shows will be coming out this year with this topic as it driving force, Besides the Jenner spin off. “Discovery Life’s New Girls on the Block follows a group of Trans women in Kansas City, Mo., and is set to premiere in April, and ABC Family recently announced My Transparent Life, a show that aims to be the real-life version of the Emmy-award winning Transparent.”  Hopefully, this group will gain respect and cross the finish line into equality (even if it is one piece at a time).

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It’s Not Miller Time

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Beer has always been a part of American culture, but after Prohibition and the enactment of the 21st Amendment, more than eight hundred breweries ceased operation, leaving only three hundred domestic beer companies in production. In the late 1970’s, when beer drinkers could no longer buy the beer they desired, many started brewing in the comfort of their own homes, starting the craze known as micro brewing, and the start of the craft beer phenomenon.

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By 1982, six microbreweries emerged, including Blue Moon Brewing Company, who opened their doors in 1995. As of today, there are 1,892 small, independent craft brewing companies in the United States. According to marketwatch.com, “currently, ‘craft’ beers are undergoing an unprecedented period of growth. The category has prospered during the economic downturn as consumers seek better quality products- ‘more bang for their buck’”. Not only are microbreweries attracting people with their unique variety of brews, but most have also opened their doors to the public, creating restaurants and tours centered in their locations.

Since they are constantly creating new and different flavors, the domestic beer companies, such as Miller, Budweiser, and Coors, cannot keep up with the expansion of independent breweries. According to Linda Holmes, “if you want to understand people, like monkeys, you have to understand what they’re actually doing. You’re looking kind of horizontally at the society around you and what people are actually surrounding themselves with because everybody knows that those things affect the way you think, whether they should or not.” People are definitely surrounding themselves with craft beer. The growth of the authenticity social trend has led towards the expansion of farmer’s markets, all natural foods, and especially craft beer. Beer drinkers everywhere would rather create their own beer, instead of drinking what everyone else does. Knowing the process of how it is created and the effort put into the brew makes everyone appreciate the taste even more.

The personalization of independent breweries touches home with many people. Many cities have craft beers of their own, including Yards of Philadelphia and San Diego’s Stone, allowing people to feel connected to them on a personal level.

The anti-corporatist views of independent breweries is appealing to the general public, steering them away from major brands like Heineken and Budweiser. Almost every bar or restaurant you visit carries three times more craft beer than domestic, and if they don’t, then they aren’t far away from doing so! So why are people so attracted to craft beer?  Could it be that these authentic companies have also mastered the art of advertising and marketing? Reds Apple Ale released its unique commercial last year, combining advertising with comedy by showing someone reaching for a domestic beer, and being hit in the head with a Reds, instantly changing their mind. Blue Moon is famous for their artistry in their commercials, demonstrating the tremendous effort they put in creating their beer, making it an art form just like their advertisements.

Other companies such as Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company (NCBC) and Mad Elf create eye-catching labels and taps that are much more appealing than the standard Miller Lite blue and gold. Not only are the advertisements and labeling appealing, the names themselves are an artform. NCBC creates a pumpkin ale called Punkless Dunkle, Laquanitas makes an IPA (Indiana Pale Ale) called Little Sumpin Sumpin, and Ithica has an IPA named Flower Power, just to name a few.

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People are drawn to the authenticity, quality and personalization of these independent brewing companies.

The world of craft beer and independent brewing has become so large; companies like Coors have tried to copy them, by making a citrus beer for summer, which we all know will never compete with beers like Rivertowne’s Hala Kahiki pineapple beer. The rapidly growing world of craft beer has such a large audience, I don’t see an end to it any time soon, or ever at that. Who knows, maybe craft beer will become a part of American culture for good. If you ask me, it’s not a bad time to be a beer drinker!

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Game of Thrones: HBO to the Big Show

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If you haven’t been following the show since its premier on April 17th, 2011, or haven’t binged watched all 40 episodes in the last week, chances are you have still heard of the hit show “Game of Thrones” GOT short. You can’t escape the wrath of HBO’s number one show of all time. Whether your friend has been talking your ear off about the show, you’ve seen a parody on Youtube, or seen it referenced on another hit TV series like “The Simpsons”, “The Office”, “The Big Bang Theory” or even The Tonight Show: starring Jimmy Fallon this Pop Culture phenomenon can be seen everywhere.

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GOT is a Fantasy drama that takes place in a fictional world of Westeros  and Essos. “The Sopranos in middle-earth,” is the tagline showrunner David Benioff suggested for Game of Thrones. The Seven kingdoms of Westeros are in a constant struggle to rule the Iron Throne, and whoever sits upon the Iron Throne rules over all the kingdoms. The show has an endless amount of characters, that you love, then hate, then die when you least expect them to.941ee1180244859b313e38e56623c6e0

“Ned Stark”, played by Sean Bean, is considered to be the main character, and is the most honorable man in all of Westeros. But not even that will keep him alive. The show is not afraid to kill off main characters, which is one of the reasons viewers can’t afford to miss a single episode. There is also the White Walkers basically zombies with magical powers that trace back thousands of years in the North, that want to end life as we know it. A giant wall, made of ice and magic that is manned by the “Nights watch” is the only thing standing between Westeros and the White Walkers. This threat is an afterthought of the rulers of Westeros, almost thought of as ghost stories but “Winter Is Coming” the words of House Stark of the North who worship the old gods. Simultaneously, Daenerys Targaryen, a young girl who is the rightful ruler of the Iron Throne, gave birth to three Dragons, and is on a mission to reclaim what is hers.

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Besides amazing characters, magic, zombies, dragons, vast lands, and a constant struggle for power, there is also sex and violence, two of the most appealing traits of American  television shows.

But why is this show so popular, and being talked about by everyone? One reason this show has become a King in the Pop Culture world is because it is based on the “Best Selling” book series by George R. R. Martin. With five books in the series, and who knows how many more to come, “A song of Ice and Fire” has already generated a huge following since the release of the first book “A Game of Thrones” in 1991. Even if you are more of a movie person and go to the theater you can’t escape the Iron Throne. Yes that’s right, this show is so amazing it’s being featured on the big screen, the real big screen. Season four’s last two episodes have been released for in IMAX Theaters from Jan 30th – March 5th, the first time any show has been featured in IMAX.


GOT has been campaigning this all over social media, and this is the main reason the show has remained so popular over the years. Its rule over social media keeps it fresh for fans and sparks the addiction to those who haven’t watched yet.

“Social networking sites, such as Facebook, and micro blogging services, such as Twitter, are another source of late-breaking information. When Michael Jackson died of cardiac arrest in 2009,”RIP Micheal Jackson” was a top trending topic on Twitter before mainstream media first reported the news” (Lule).

The majority of the population uses social media sites for news and entertainment, especially with the use of smart phones. Just in this past week GOT has occupied a majority of social media sites. They always seem to have an article or parody video popping up every week on social media remaining a pop culture topic.

You may have come across a video of a guy breaking a 1,000-year-old Viking weightlifting record this week on social media. No surprise, he’s an actor from GOT. Strongman turned actor Hafthor Bjornsson, who plays “Gregor Clegane” also known as “The Mountain”, an 8 foot tall Knight with super strength who cuts horses heads off with a single swipe of his sword, just lifted a log weighing 1,433 lbs. and took five steps with it on his back. The Mountain had an epic fight last season against another character “The Red Viper” that left people talking and squirming after the extremely gory climax to the fight, even for GOT standards. Every month, or even this week there seems to be a new reason for Game of Thrones to remerge in the pop culture world. Whether it’s some new theories revealed about the show, the revealing of a new Character, or just the fact that the show is that GOOD!

This show has something for anyone (of age), and is a personal favorite of mine. I have read all the books and followed the show since the premiere. I have even spent hours just learning the ancient histories of the epic story that goes back thousands of years on Youtube known as “History and Lore”.

It is currently filming its fifth season, and shows no signs of slowing down. ­Just in this past week, GOT has occupied a majority of social media sites. Considering there is still three seasons to come, and more books on the way, I see Game of Thrones being a ruler of­­­­ pop culture for a long time to come. Even when the show ends, the hype will live on, with talks already in the works for spin-offs and possible feature length films. This show has generated a following that may even put Star Wars and Star Trek to shame one day!

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