ENG. 312 Fall 2009
A Plastic Society
This fall in my English 312 course with the assigned readings, class discussions, and films I learned about varies different aspects in which we can view and analyze our society. Throughout this semester I was introduced to new views which I wasn’t aware before. From lengthy to short articles to books, they all provided useful information which I will carry with me. I have always felt that our society focuses too much on physical appearance of people rather than their accomplishments and moral values. Our society has become very materialistic the more we have the more we want it is getting to a point where greed is taking over people’s daily decisions. The problem is that many people don’t see themselves as greedy or materialist but rather normal. This brings me to one important topic I feel we need to address which is plastic surgery.
Plastic surgery is beginning at a very young age for many people. People see plastic surgery as something normal because it is becoming very common for people to get plastic surgery. With hopes of achieving a body, nose, chin, cheek bones, lips that resemble those of their favorite models and actresses they see in television people put their lives in danger. It amazes me how quick young girls are getting plastic surgery without hesitating. I know a lot of people who have had plastic surgery, when I ask them why they got it I always seem to get the same response saying that “I look better and it makes me more confident about myself”.
It saddens me to know that the only way that we can feel good is by getting plastic surgery and trying to look like someone else. In the mist of plastic surgery people are losing their own identity. I personally feel we were all born with different characteristics, shapes, morals which define who we are but, how can we achieve that if we have many people trying to be the same person? Why should we feel that we don’t fit in the norms of society and why do we judge on appearance many times? Why should models have to be at least 5’7 tall? Why is someone who is skinny praised or given more respect than someone who is “overweight”? These are some of the questions I have had for many years and I have determined myself to find out why our society is becoming plastic.
A very important factor that will help people stay away from plastic surgery is accepting who they are mentally and physically. We need to understand we are all special in our way, and have a uniqueness that makes us who we are. I feel that life is too short to be trying to live it to the expectations and identity of others we only have one life to live so we should live it the way we are and be happy with what we have because beauty doesn’t last forever but a good heart and knowledgeable mind can go a long way. If people were as concerned with their education as they are with their appearance we would like in a society that is not so materialistic.
I remember when people had surgery for medical emergencies. Now I hear about cosmetic surgeries more often than medical emergency surgeries.
I personally would not have cosmetic surgery not only for the fact that I am terrified of needles and faint every time I see blood but because I don’t see that as a solution to improve my physical appearance because I am happy being 5’2.5 and 111lbs because no matter how much milk I drink I won’t be 5’7 and I know I am different and I like it that way. I have seen my mom have back surgery for health purposes and I saw firsthand how much she suffered and how much my brother and I suffered seeing her in the hospital for a month and a half. I don’t understand why people are so eager to go through so much pain just to change their appearance. It makes me think if they would have the same perspective if they saw all the suffering people encounter in surgical performances.
One of the most common types of plastic surgery today is breast implants. While reading the article “What women want (in a boob job)" in a health magazine I read something that caught my attention it stated that “More than 350,000 women get breast implants every year, making it the most popular kind of plastic surgery. No surprise there. But a new study in Aesthetic Surgery Journal shows that most women still get saline implants, despite the return of silicone in 2006 after 14 years off the market due to safety concerns.” I found this interesting because although a product has been removed for safety reasons woman are still getting it and what is worse is that doctors are still using it. Many women put their lives in danger everyday just to change their physical appearance.
While reading the article by Sarah Bird "Mammary Dearest" I was intrigued because it addressed aspects that many women face on daily bases. In this article “the author admits that wearing such clothes enabled her to realize the impact of the breasts of women on the society.” She made many good points for example she says “I had demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt the new and unparalleled might of the mammary.” The breasts have become very powerful they can deviate the attention from the audience if they are overtly exposed. This shows how many men and women focus rather on the appearance than the actual moral value of the person. Although it is hard to that today we are being judged more on our physical appearance rather than our values and knowledge it is very true.
Cosmetic surgery is a procedure that is not only taking place in the U.S. but also worldwide. For instance in the article “Beauty by Design” we are informed about the popular cosmetic surgeries in Australia which are breast augmentation, botox and liposuction that are performed on a regular basis. We know people in the U.S are not the only ones with insecure physical appearances and that more and more people worldwide are getting cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery is not being affected so much by the recession in which we have been these past years. The rates of cosmetic surgery are increasing throughout the world.
Every year more young girls are getting plastic surgery although their body hasn’t fully developed. I feel we need to educate young girls and help them boost their self esteem because teenagers are the most affected because they very involved with pop culture. They feel that it is necessary to look, dress like the Hollywood stars, and be a size 1 to fit in to society. The Media is one of the major factors that influence teens, women, and men to get plastic surgery. Who are we to decide how a person should look? and why should people feel pressured to be a certain size to be accepted by society. While doing some research I came across an article in the New York Times called “Seeking Self-Esteem Through Surgery” in which it talked about a young girl named Kristen whom according to her “wanted to look normal”. Kristen didn’t develop the breast she desired and didn’t feel like a woman and since her mom and older sister had gotten breast augmentation when she was sixteen she felt it would be the correct thing to do. As a graduation present Kristen received breast augmentation surgery.
I enjoyed reading this article because not only did I learn about Kristen’s case but also I learned about recent statistics. The article states that “the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery show that the number of cosmetic surgical procedures performed on youths 18 or younger more than tripled over a 10-year period, to 205,119 in 2007 from 59,890 in 1997. This includes even more controversial procedures: liposuctions rose to 9,295 from 2,504, and breast augmentations increased nearly sixfold, to 7,882 from 1,326.”(Sweeney) Not all plastic surgeries bring joy and come out successfully and this article also addresses the cases of two 18-year-olds: Amy Fledderman of Pennsylvania, who died in 2001 of fat embolism syndrome after undergoing liposuction, and Stephanie Kuleba of Florida, who died last spring from complications because of anesthesia used during a breast augmentation and inverted nipple surgery.(Sweeney) I feel that the same way that young teenagers and people are exposed to the positive aspects of getting plastic surgery to improve their physical appearance and self-esteem they should also expose the consequences that come with having cosmetic surgeries.
Cosmetic surgery reminds me that there are so many other things that are more important than getting cosmetic surgery. That brings me to one important novel we read in my English 312 course called “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradburry in which were books were prohibited and people were supposed to be tools of the media and society. I feel that cosmetic surgery and Fahrenheit 451 are similar because in order to fit and be accepted by society they have to look a certain way or not engaged themselves in certain activities. People are obsessed to do everything to fit into the norms of society. I wish less people would engage in cosmetic surgery and appreciate what they have. Guy Montag realized the importance of literature and I would hope people would realize the dangers of cosmetic surgery and learn to love themselves as they are.
The film “Metropolis” shows how deeply affected people are by media advertisements in cosmetic surgery. The film depicted woman obsessed with being young, always getting the latest cosmetic procedures done without thinking twice. It is sad to see to what extremes people are willing to go just to look a couple years younger. From expensive creams to uncertified doctors people are spending their money without hesitating to do some research and educate themselves about everything that is needed and the dangers of looking younger.
"Beauty by design." Choice (0009-496X) (2009): 16-19. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO. Web. 16 Dec. 2009.
Bird, Sarah "Mammary Dearest." Texas Monthly 37.9 (2009): 168-158. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO. Web. 16 Dec. 2009.
Sweeney, Camille. (2009, January 15). Seeking Self-Esteem Through Surgery :[Style Desk]. New York Times (Late Edition (east Coast)), p. E.3. Retrieved December 16, 2009, from ProQuest Newsstand.
"What women want (in a boob job)." Health 23.7 (2009): 22. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO. Mon. 14 Dec. 2009.
While reading Fredrick Jameson’s “The politics of Utopia” I discovered many issues that arise with the Utopian idea. Jameson defines Utopia as a weakening of the sense of history and of the imagination of historical difference which characterizes post modernity is paradoxically, intertwined with the loss of that place beyond all history. From Jameson’s definition I was able to get a better understanding of what Utopia is and the consequences it could bring us by affecting various aspects of our lives. One factor of the Utopian idea would be getting rid of the root of all evil, which would be a dream to many of us because we all want to live in a peaceful world. Although that would be nice it would also be bad because without evil people can’t see the good that surrounds them.
Having full employment around the world is another factor that caught my attention because in the recession we are living in today it is something I would like, because like many families my family and I are being affected by the lack of employment. The Utopian idea to me seems unrealistic because it hides away all the imperfection in this world, and all the evil that let us appreciate the good. I feel that the Utopian idea makes us weak, materialistic and dull people. Sometimes the wishes we wish aren’t always the best because we don’t always think about the effects they can cause on the long run. Most of our wishes are spur of the moment. Utopia is a great example of why we should be careful for what we wish for. I agree with Jameson because I too believe Utopia bring forth a fear in us. This article was a great insight of what our future can look like if we rely on the material and meaningless things and let them define us.
After doing the reading I was reminded of a utopian society. The thought of dying of a disease and living in a society where we are all separated into different groups and our life is controlled scares most of us. Living in a society where our freedom is taken away and our every move is being controlled is not what I picture as the American Dream. When I read about others deciding what is “best “ for us, it scares me because we all have different interest and what might be best for one person is not always best for another. I agree with O’Flinns’s essay because mentions how society and literature influence each other. Many of our decisions are based on literature we read for example the bible, and political literature, and also morals instilled in us by our family members, and the media. Our views of life are changed constantly by the literature we read. Furthermore, Foucault’s article is very interesting he catches my attention from the beginning when he mentions “strict spatial partitioning”. The fact that our lives can end and change like it has in the past with the plague is frightening because there are many things that can and have been happening in our society. For example, the swine flu is a disease that is spreading across the world. The past is creeping up on us and some of what we read today as fiction is becoming non-fiction. Living under a surveillance camera and having our privacy taken away is not as far as some us think, because all our conversations are heard and read by a legal government wire tapping agency. We are losing our privacy, our decisions are controlled by laws, what are we going to lose next?
I enjoyed reading Irving Howe’s 1984 Utopia Reversed because it analyzed key information about George Orwell’s 1984. I enjoyed how Howe integrated ideas from other authors, and society groups. I agree with many of Howe’s opinions. One of the things I agree with Howe is about 1984 being Orwell’s imagination. I agree because Orwell depicts what he believes can happen in the future, if our society turns into a Utopian, Orthodox society where nobody has control of there own self and can think for themselves. Furthermore, I believe Orwell exaggerates in 1984 to scare us and show us what in his imagination our society can be in the future. The good socialist, the “good people” as Howe mentions, should inform the rest of the dangers like Orwell. We need to be observes, socialist analyze and try to fix what can lead our society to a Utopia. Like Howe I feel that Orwell’s work on 1984 was written on observation and is written from a socialist point of view rather than a novelist. I found Howe’s text very informative; I was drawn in from the begging to end. The text highlighted essential details of Orwell’s observations. In addition, it made me question many things about our society and how close we actually are to a Utopia and becoming Orthodoxy.
After doing this week’s reading many emotions filled my heart. Reading about how Genetics will be used as an excuse to discriminate against the handicapped to save money, made me really upset. It makes me sad because I know that some people are influenced by doctor’s advice and others, and choose not to have a baby that will have some type of disability. Who are we to deny the life of a human being and decide their future? No matter what disability it might be, everyone deserves the right to live because perfection does not exist. There is nobody perfect in this world.
I personally have family members that have disabilities and my family and I feel blessed to have them with us because they brighten up our day. Although they are not able to do many things like others, they have feelings, they eat and breathe just like everybody. My aunt was told a couple months back that my little cousin Edder would not make it to his 8th birthday because his disability and epilepsy was getting worse. My little cousin Edder turned 8 on May 13 and we feel so lucky and happy that he is still with us. We will do everything in our power so we can share many birthdays with him.
Having family with disabilities I just can’t imagine how somebody can have the heart to deny them the right to live. The situation people are facing in China is very depressing for the reason that people are told that they can only have one child and it has to be perfect. The Chinese would not be able to determine which babies will be born with disabilities without the new genetics and prenatal diagnoses.
New genetics are not always being used with good intention.
It was very interesting to read Boulle’s Planet of the Apes because many things came to mind about our own government. While reading the book I was able to see the resemblance between the society in Planet of the Apes and our society today. The possibility of having Apes take over our country is something I never thought of until today. Many times we hear that the closest animal we can be related to are apes, Chimpanzees, and gorillas because they are very smart and physically similar to humans. In this book we the humans were the slaves to apes. It was interesting to be put in a position where we put animals every day.
In the Planet of the Apes the structure of society was very similar to ours because the most privileged and wealthiest control the government system. My favorite part was reading about the rebellion of the human slaves with the help of Ari because they fought over what the rights and power they felt they deserve. I personally don’t believe anyone should be forced into slavery for any reasons. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect even animals.
Watching the movie clockwork orange was interesting and disturbing at the same time. Alex’s rude abusive actions towards people made me very upset. Seeing Alex his droogs take advantage and hurt the poor old homeless man got to me the most. It reminded of how our government and society many times forgets about the poor and old and instead of helping and providing more help, they lose benefits. Many of the actions portrayed in the movie can be related to present day actions in our society. After all the killing and abusing Alex the leader of the droogs committed Alex was sent to jail for the murder of a woman. After serving two years in prison he was able to enter an experimental rehabilitation program called "the Ludovico technique". It amazes me how society believed that Alex’s violence could be cured through the program just like in our own society everything is seemed to be repairable. Furthermore, It caught my attention the fact that while Alex was being “cured” his loved for classical music turned into something he couldn’t tolerate at all. Besides, the disturbing scenes it was a good informative movie.
Every day of our lives we are surrounded by the media industry and have some type of media influence in one or more of our decisions. Whether it be food, TV, or clothing wise we are influence by society. While reading both Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s article “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” and Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” I was able to examine the negative aspects of the media in our society.
To start off, I learned that many of the movies we watch today do not have an important social message. The movies made now are made for us to use less and less of our imagination. The fantasy, drama, and horror we see do not convey a realistic message about the problems in society today or inform us about something useful we didn’t know. I agree with Adorno and Horkheimer when they state “All they do today is to confirm the victory of technological reason over truth. For example, people are most likely pay to watch a comedy movie with a famous comedian than a documentary that will inform them about the injustices that are happening around them.
Technology has become more powerful than many of us believe it to be. In the article “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” it mentions that the culture industry perpetually cheats its consumers of what it perpetually promises. For instance, many times the movies people see are not quite what they expected or what the movie trailer said to offer. Also, many of those “as seen on TV” products do not do what they promise. I have learned through Benjamin that although there are some good things the media has to offer we have to dig very deep to find them before spending our money on something that will not benefit us.
Today we are surrounded by media and its influence; many people don’t read books because they rather watch television. Although it is sad that many don’t get to experience the beauty of literature, many don’t feel that they deserve to give books too much importance. In the dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451by Ray Bradbury, Guy Montag does a great job of showing the importance of reading books. While reading the novel I tried putting myself in the situation of the characters and being banned completely from books but I couldn’t because it would be miserable to live without great literature. It would be terrible not to be able to be able to read books or even publish any of my ideas and work for others to read. It was interesting to see the firemen in the novel seen as protectors and heroes because they would burn the books that they believed disturbed people and made them anti-social. Furthermore it disturbed me to know that the firemen felt a pleasure to burn books. What some people see as pleasure is for others pain and agony. Television has taken away the interest of reading for many people because they think it’s more entertaining and easy to press a button and let the entertainment industry take over you. Without books people would become tools of the media and society. Furthermore, in the schools our kids would be limited in their education. What would we read to our kids before going to bed? How are we going to learn about history? Why shouldn’t we have the right to write down our experiences, discoveries, and ideas? There are many reasons why books are important because without books we are prone to become illiterate and dull.
Fahrenheit 451 is a great story that helps us appreciate some of the things that we take for granted like books. The saying “you don’t know what you have until is gone” comes to mind with Fahrenheit 451 because the books are not appreciated until they become forbidden and people are submerged into the norms of society. Furthermore, without the existence of books individualism disappears. I enjoyed the novel more than the movie because I feel that the presence of Faber is essential and the changes in the movie don’t portray the novel like Ray Bradbury does in his novel. This novel helps us acknowledge how the media is taking over the way we communicate. We have changed the way we interact with others because of new technology developments. People are too busy trying to keep up with technology that they forget about the most important things and lose their sense of individualism. I truly enjoyed this book because I can say with certainty that the most important things in life are priceless. The knowledge I acquire is something nobody can take away from me.
Fahrenheit 451 is a great dystopian novel that I enjoyed reading very much. This novel made me appreciate and feel fortunate to be able to read the great literature that surrounds us. The mere thought of having my books taken away and not being able to experience literature is devastating. I choose to do the project on this novel and its movie because they depict a different view where people are denied the right to read books and can’t have a voice of their own. By being denied the right to read literature people can’t think independently and rebel against the norms of their society. I wanted to share with my classmates the value of this novel, the contrast with its movie and the message they both contain.
While working with my group members we all shared our ideas and discussed major key points that we wanted to address in our presentation. We got together on a Sunday morning and made sure everyone’s input was taken into consideration. We came up with the splendid idea of doing some video recording since we have very talented media majors in our team. Their knowledge helped our project together. I found an interesting video clip on you tube about an actual banning on the novel Fahrenheit 451 in a campus in Texas. I showed my team members and we all agreed that we would share it with our classmates.
I have to admit that although it was plenty of hard work, but we all had fun especially while recording. We divided the sections and each picked a section in which we felt comfortable discussing. My section in particular was introducing the parlor scene. I choose to introduce this scene because I feel it is important to depict how technology has taken over the way we communicate with others. Technology influences our daily lives and it is important to discuss the good and bad it has brought forth.