Sunday, December 26, 2010

Santa Brought American Studies Loot!

Finals are finally over! I hope every one is having a relaxing break with family & friends!

It's the day after christmas & I'm wondering: what did Santa bring all the American Studies Majors?

I had a particularly fortuitous christmas this year: lots of cookies and lots of american pop-culture paraphernalia! Or as news-satirist-extraordinaire, Stephen Colbert tweeted this morning "I got everything for Christmas! That's right: I asked for everything!"

Here's a run-down of the best gifts I found under my tree, hoping to see yours as well!

#1. The Best American Essays of the Century (edited by Joyce Carol Oates and Robert Atwan)

I never thought I'd say this, but boy was I glad to find this 568-page-book Christmas morning! This hefty collection includes the finest American essayists (some of my included favorites: E.B. White, Joan Didion, James Baldwin & Mark Twain) and aims to be "more or less a chronological story of America as the century unfolded." God-willing and sans-homework, I'll be able to make a dent in it before next semester. Perhaps the reading will prepare me for my American Studies class in the Spring, "American Voice"? Who says a Christmas present can't kill two birds with one stone?

#2. DVD Box Set of The Pacific

Produced by box-office-hit makers Stephen Speilberg and Tom Hanks, The Pacific (debuted on HBO in 2001) recounts the true stories of marines who fought against the Japanese in World War II. Now, I am no history or war- buff, but as a media junkie I can attest that this miniseries is exciting, moving and most of all: addicting. So it's probably best to get started watching now, seeing as starting it during the semester may become dangerous to your G.P.A.


In my opinion, definitely one of Mel Brooks' bests! This Star Wars parody hit the screens in 1987 and made fun of just about every American stereotype under the sun: no gender, race or religion was left mercy! Regardless, it's pretty hilarious. It also pokes fun at shameless product placement and Star Wars' movie merchandising: an important shift in the American movie business. Star Wars was the first film to prove that merchandising can make just as much, if not more than box office revenue. Here, director George Lucas decided to trade in a small writer's/director's fee for 40% of the Star Wars merchandising rights. A wise move on Lucas' part, as the film made 4.2 billion worldwide, the merchandise took in double that! This was actually a test question on my Media Industries final last year: What did the American movie business learn from Star Wars? I wrote: Merchandising = $$$ (Thanks Professor Brian Rose!)

Mel Brooks as the treacherous President Skroob sniffs 'Perri-Air'

Screenshot of Spaceballs: The Toilet Paper

Evil-Villain Pizza-the-Hutt

Now that I think about it, this post itself seems a bit like one big product placement. Apologies, I assure you no company has endorsed me to blog about this! It's just that since it's the holidays, expect me to be reading less primary (scholarly) works and more pop-culture media texts!


Glenna said...

Found your blog by searching "American Studies Blog" today- and I'm glad I did! This is a great post-- I never knew how successful Star Wars was! My dad is not a lone super-fan! As for the pizza monster, I hear mozzarella is in this season :)

Check out my blog; I'm in a high school American Studies class in Chicago. Would love to get some feedback from you and your peers!

Anonymous said...

Glenna thanks so much for the feedback! I'll definitely be keeping track of your blog. Building the American Studies Community one blog at a time!

-Rebecca G.

Anonymous said...

Band of Brothers debuted in 2001, not the Pacific