Why All Emory Students Should Watch “Pillow Talk”

In English 101: Technology and the Senses, students learn to relate different forms of technology to methods of writing.  Throughout the course, the objective is to have first year students practice improving their writing skills while bringing a focus of technology and the different sensory modalities to their work.  Although writing is the main focus, reading pieces that relate to the two main topics of the course allows students to learn more about other writers’ methods of how to create quality pieces of literature.  In addition, students watch and reflect on how these films relate back to technology and the senses.

One film that the class watched is called “Pillow Talk”.  The movie is based around a telephone, and portrays how easy it is for people to “code-switch” while using it.  Code-switching is when people talk and act in different ways depending on the situation that they are in and the people they are with.  In the movie, the main character, Jan, strongly dislikes the man who shares her telephone line and constantly yells at him over the phone.  The man, Brad, speaks to Jan in a condescending voice over the phone, but when he finds out who she is in person, takes on the persona of a charming man from Texas.  Because neither of them had met the other in person, both of them code-switched when they were together because they no longer had the same relationship that they had over the phone (or so Jan thought, as Brad was well aware of who she was).

The movie “Pillow Talk” includes both of the main themes of the class: technology (the telephone) and the senses (speech/hearing).  Without the telephone, which uses speech to relay messages, the two different relationships between Brad and Jan would not exist.  Also, code-switching has become a very prominent part of life, as everyone must learn that it is not acceptable to talk to a professor in the same way that they talk to a best friend.  Brad and Jan use code-switching to transfer from one part of their personalities to another because both parts of the personalities shown in the movie do not work for both of the relationships that they have with each other.

In addition, the film itself is another aspect of technology and the senses because it shows a visual representation of the story.  As opposed to a book or an article, movies allow students to use more than just their eyes to learn about a story.  The connection between technology and the senses is very present in films because one can see pictures and listen to different characters in order to learn about what is happening, while books or articles force the reader to read just words and hear just their own voices in their heads.

Based on this reasoning, the movie “Pillow Talk” should be shown to all Emory students because it will further their abilities to observe, discuss, and reflect on the importance of technology, the senses, and the relationship between the two.  “Pillow Talk” encompasses all of these aspects that lead to quality writing skills, and that paired with how enjoyable it is to watch would benefit all students at this university.

Historical Advertising Study: The Clock

People have measured time for as long as history has been documented.  Though in the very beginning all time was relative, as time progressed, so did the way people measured it.  Eventually, the clock was invented.  Throughout the twentieth century, time became more of a crucial aspect of life that people wanted to measure.  Because of this, advertisements for different types clocks began to appear more frequently.  Clock companies made different types of advertisements to try to sell their products effectively.  To do this, the companies had to change with the times.  From 1911 to 1946, the methods that clock companies used to sell clocks changed dramatically, going from simplistic advertisements to more detailed and targeted ones.

An advertisement from 1911 features a drawing of a clock, called “Big Ben”, that takes up half of the page.  Elegant, detailed, and easy to read, the clock has a prominent position on the page, stressing the importance of its appearance and effectiveness.  In addition, dividing the space between two things, a drawing and two small paragraphs, allows a simplistic and straightforward approach to selling the object.  The advertisement is in all black and white.  This lack of color allows the audience to focus on just the words and the drawing, as opposed to any colors or details that could distract from the advertisement’s main purpose of selling the clock.  At the bottom of the page, two paragraphs begin with the slogan “Leave your call with Big Ben…”  As the paragraphs continue, they consistently refer to Big Ben as a person who will help his owner keep track of time.  The personification of Big Ben, which also appears in the object’s name itself, gives the audience a sense of comfort, as though each owner can depend on a reliable person not only to remind them to do something, but also to do so “gently”.  Even in the description of the clock, the advertisement refers to Big Ben as a person, leaving the audience feeling as though this clock is more than just an object.

An advertisement from 1919 promotes the Tiffany Never-Wind Clock.  A drawing on the left of the page shows an elegant, soft, classic clock that would appeal to many home-owners.  Underneath the drawing, the slogan “You Never Wind a Never-Wind” is written in bold font.  Next to the drawing is a detailed description of the clock, which explains how the never-wind clock is much easier to use than normal clocks.  In large letters, the clock is described as “a beautiful thing made of gold and glass”.  Underneath it, the first paragraph describes the clock’s characteristics and how easy it is to use, while the second paragraph gives a physical description of the clock.  The advertisement refers to the clock as “a beautiful ornament” and “gem”, which “cannot fail to please the most fastidious taste”.  In addition, on the very top left corner, the word “Free” in bold and capital letters attracts the audience’s attention.  The advertisement says that this clock normally costs $20.00, which is the equivalent to about $282.00 in 2014.  At such a high price, the indication that the clock could be free would be very attractive to consumers.  This advertisement plays on the combination of easy-to-use and visually appealing aspects of the clock, as it explains multiple times how this clock, while beautiful, effectively tells time without the owner doing anything.

General Electric’s 1947 advertisement promotes its Clock-Radio.  Though a different product than the other two clocks, as it functions as a radio as well, its main purpose is the same.  The advertisement features three pictures of the clock, a smiling young woman, and the title “ ‘Wake-up-to-music’ Clock-Radio”, which all take up the majority of the space on the page.  The picture of the woman, who is smiling and holding her arms up as if stretching, implies that the clock radio makes her wake up happy and will do the same to the consumer.  Underneath her, three different colored versions of the clock show in different settings.  The four pictures, along with some musical notes and the words “Rise & Shine”, give the audience many visually appealing things to look at, which could lead them to spend time looking at the advertisement in more detail.  Next to the pictures is a small paragraph that begins with the phrase “Wakes You Up Smiling — Automatically Turns on Favorite Programs — Anytime”.    Underneath, the paragraphs describe the multiple types of uses that the clock-radio has, such as waking the owner up as “gently as a falling leaf” and recording the owner’s favorite program.  According to this advertisement, the General Electric Clock-Radio will make the owners “wake up smiling”, just like the woman on the top of the page, and can appeal to many types of people because of the multiple color options.

Throughout the thirty years during which these advertisements were used, the clock companies’ methods changed in order to fit what consumers wanted.  For example, the advertisement for Big Ben is simplistic, as in the early 1900s people needed clocks primarily to tell time.  Eight years later when Tiffany’s Never-Wind clock was sold, consumers wanted more visually appealing clocks that were easy to use.  In 1947, almost thirty years later, General Electric’s Clock Radio targeted yet another audience, who wanted to get more out of a clock than just the time.  All three of these clocks seem to be intended to sell to middle or upper class consumers, although each has a more specific audience that it targets, as well. Big Ben is fairly simple, therefore targeting a broad audience.  Tiffany’s Never-Wind clock is targeted specifically to an upper-class consumer, as the original price is very high and the advertisement states that it would be good for an office or home, implying that the consumer would have a lot of money.  The Clock-Radio is aimed more towards women who stay at home, as the advertisement shows a happy woman and many colorful pictures that women would be attracted to.  The clock companies wanted to sell their products effectively, and to do so they play on the wants and needs of their consumers.

Since these advertisements were shown, many different types of clocks have been produced in order to continue to follow the advancement of time measurement.  Though some of the same methods are used today, such as the personification of objects, others, such as using a picture of a woman who stays at home all day, would not work because the society’s values have changed over time.  What is important in all advertising is that companies advertise their products in a way that forms a connection between the object and the consumer, and to do that they must play on the values of that time period.

 

“Big Ben” Advertisement. Chicago Daily Tribune. 14 May 1911. K3. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.

Buffalo Specialty Co. “Tiffany Never-Wind Clock”. Advertisement. 1919. Duke University Libraries. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.

General Electric Company. “GE Clock Radios”.  Advertisement.  Life Magazine. 1947. Duke University Libraries. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.

Candy is for Kids

When you Google “eating candy”, the majority of the pictures that come up are of children.  If you think about it, you probably have not seen an adult eating a candy bar lately, or if you have, maybe it looked a little odd.  Even though candy is for everyone, many companies that manufacture sugary products market their items towards kids because they know that kids are the main consumers of sugary treats.

Considering how healthy eating has become such a popular subject within the past decade, it makes sense that children are the ones who eat the most sugar.  Adults like to watch what they eat for health reasons, but for kids, healthy eating isn’t always a priority.  How could they possibly prefer a salad over a candy bar?  For many children, going to the candy store to pick out some treats is something to look forward to.  You look at the walls covered in containers full of every type of sugar you can imagine, and you cannot wait to fill up a bag and bring it home.  Maybe your parents say you can only take a certain number of pieces, or that you have to wait until after dinner to eat it.  Naturally, parents want kids to eat healthy foods, so they limit the amount of sugar their kids eat.  Kids, on the other hand, are easy targets for candy companies because they are always looking for a special treat.

Because of this link between kids and candy, other types of companies that have products for children have begun to market by using food.  For example, the board game “Candyland” is a classic that many kids love to play because of the funny characters and the story that goes along with the game.  Movies like “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” appeal to kids because of the fantastical world of candy that is every kid’s dream.  By including foods that kids enjoy, like chocolate, companies elicit the feelings that kids have when they eat candy, which then causes the kids to want the product.

It’s important to note that candy companies targeting kids has a negative effect on the general health in the country.  Obesity rates have risen dramatically, and even though healthy eating has become a large trend, children around the country continue to develop poor eating habits.  Yes, the savory flavor of candy tastes especially good for children, but it is early on in life when kids learn how to control how they eat.  If companies continue to target kids for unhealthy foods, obesity rates will continue to climb.

My Favorite Type of Research

I’ve never been a rule-breaker.  I don’t like confrontations, I don’t like being yelled at, and I don’t like feeling guilty.  My dad, on the other hand, was not like this when he was my age.  I have grown up hearing stories about his childhood and exactly how much trouble he got into.  He grew up in a suburb of upstate New York in the 1950s and 1960s, and in those times it was acceptable for young kids to hang around, unsupervised, in different areas of the neighborhood.  Between ruining the insulation of a newly-built house to dropping objects on top of a moving train, his experiences as a kid could not be any more different than mine.

Whenever I have actually gotten in trouble, I always turn to my dad to make me feel better.  Although my “researching” his funny childhood stories haven’t always been for a real purpose, they have always helped me realize that a little bit of trouble isn’t the worst thing in the world.  For example, in third grade, my class had a substitute teacher for a few days.  None of us liked her, and she wasn’t very invested in the class.  For some reason, my classmates and I decided to throw pieces of crayon at each other and at her when she was facing the blackboard.  This lasted for about two days, until another teacher found out and sent the whole class to the principal’s office.  We all got in trouble, and for me, this felt like the end of the world.  One of our punishments was to tell our parents about it too, so of course I was dreading the confrontations and guilt that would come.

When I went home that day to tell my parents at the dinner table, they reacted, for the most part, the way I expected.  They told me how disrespectful it was to be throwing things behind a teacher’s back, especially if she was in a new environment that she may not be comfortable in.  Later that night though, I talked to my dad more about the whole situation.  Though he did not condone my actions, he didn’t condemn them either.  Instead, he told me a story from his own childhood.  He and his friends were hanging out in their neighborhood one day and decided to explore a house that was in the process of being built.  They knew that with workers around they couldn’t do much, so they went back later that night and went inside.  The house had just been insulated, so when the boys found out how fun the insulation material was, they took turns running through different pieces.  By the time they were done, a few walls of the house had holes in the shape of young boys in them.  Obviously someone found out, and eventually the kids got in trouble.  The moral of that story, though, is that no matter how much trouble they got in (and by trouble in this case, I mean innocent trouble) they ended up turning out out fine.

Whenever I’m feeling guilty of something that I did wrong, or if I got myself into trouble somehow, I always think about my dad’s stories of his own childhood.  Though this definitely isn’t the typical type of “research”, it has impacted me because it gives me perspective about how often times, little experiences (like that one time I threw crayons at my substitute teacher) don’t really matter.  As I grow up, I continue to do my research about my parents’ lives because it helps me think about different ways that eventually all lead to a successful path.  It’s important for me to know that making mistakes is a part of life, so no matter what happens, I’ll get through it.

“The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” is Literature

In the literal sense, the word “literature” means any collection of writing.  Literature includes all types of written works, whether it be novels or nonfiction pieces.  These categories can be broken down into smaller ones: fantasy, science fiction, biographies, and autobiographies, to name a few.  When people think of the word “literature” though, they normally think of classics or novels.  In class, we thought of some of common things that many types of literature include: figurative language, references to other literature, and stylistic writing.  I think that the most important thing that literature must have is a purpose  – either to inform or to tell a story.

With these criteria in mind, I do think of “The Adventures of the Cardboard Box” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as a piece of literature.  It’s not the kind of writing that would fall under “beneficial to students’ learning” because it doesn’t teach the reader any sort of moral lesson, but at the same time Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories are classic stories that everyone knows and loves.  Even though there may not be a lesson in each short story, the purpose could be purely to entertain the reader.  Sherlock Holmes’ ability to solve complicated murders while still being sharp and witty keeps readers engaged, and, as opposed to many other forms of literature that students often read, is actually enjoyable.  Doyle even includes all of our class’s literature criteria in the story.  Even if the Sherlock Holmes short stories had not already been considered a classic, I would definitely think of it as a very qualified form of literature.

In my opinion, we should be reading more literature like this in school.  I think it is important for stories to include some sort of moral lesson, so not all of the Sherlock Holmes stories would work.  In general, though, students are so much more likely to read books that they genuinely enjoy, and they are also more likely to want to discuss those books with their peers.  The stereotypical idea of literature does not always elicit positive thoughts for many people because often times these works are difficult to read and even more difficult to talk about.  For example, Shakespeare’s plays are considered “classic” literature.  They include a lot of figurative language, are written in a particular style, and contain some lesson that is valuable to readers.  The difference between Shakespeare and Doyle is that most students want to read about Sherlock Holmes much more than they want to read about Othello and Macbeth.  Yes, reading Shakespeare is a challenge and should definitely be taught in schools because it will force students to look deeper than just the words on the page.  That said, you could analyze Shakespeare’s plays in hundreds of ways that Shakespeare himself would never have even imagined.  My point is that “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” should be considered literature as much as anything else we read in school because it still has some purpose that would benefit readers.  There are so many different types of literature that students should be exposed to, and there is no real difference between Doyle’s work and Shakespeare’s work other than their individual styles.  It is important to find a balance in reading literature so that people can find their own interests and pursue them outside of the classroom in addition to inside it.

Your Words Are You (Blog Revision 1)

If you know someone well enough, you can often identify them by listening to their voice alone.  Every individual has distinct ways in which they speak, whether it is what they say, the accent in which they say it, or what inflections they use.  The Southwestern Bell Telephone Company’s slogan in 1923 supported this idea, saying that “Your Voice is You” (Fischer 41).  In recent days, people have begun to recognize and add another meaning to this motto by using a particular term: code-switching.  When people talk in a slightly different way that depends on the audience, they are practicing code-switching.  Although everyone keeps certain aspects of their personalities to themselves, code-switching gives people the ability to switch from facet to facet depending on the voice they use.  The 1950’s movie Pillow Talk utilizes both the company’s motto and the act of code-switching.  Centered around a telephone, the movie’s main character falls in love with a man pretending to be someone he is not.  Each character’s voice plays an important role in the plot because of the different ways that each one speaks, and all of the code-switching leads the characters to perceive, or misperceive, who each person really is.

The movie is focused around a party line shared by Jan, a single interior designer, and Brad, a womanizing musician.  In the beginning, the two main characters interact only through the telephone, and therefore come to recognize the other’s voice, but not their physical appearances.  When Jan and Brad talk on the phone, they use versions of their voices that are particularly for each other.  In other words, they code-switch.  For example, Jan despises Brad and therefore always talks to him in a raised, annoyed voice.  Brad, who finds Jan’s impatience with him rather funny, sounds almost condescending, yet charming at the same time.  When the two meet in person later on in the movie, Brad is able to play a prank on Jan by switching his voice to one with a Texan accent and speaking more politely. Because the two originally knew each other by only their voices, Jan does not realize that this man who she is falling in love with is actually the womanizing man who she despises.

Pillow Talk’s example of the motto “Your Voice is You” is one of many that shows the effectiveness of code-switching.  In the movie, code-switching proves to be a successful method in figuring out how to slightly change in order to get what you want.  Brad wants to be with Jan, so he changes his voice because that is the only thing she knows about him.  Because this voice also goes along with one side of Brad’s personality, Jan does not see the Brad she thought she knew but rather the one that he wants her to see.  In the end, Brad does actually turn into the polite man he pretended to be and falls in love with the woman he used to argue with.  The only thing Brad really changes around Jan is his voice, yet in the movie, his illegitimate voice causes him to transform into the person who uses it.

Despite the major increase in technology throughout the past decades, the Southwestern Bell’s motto and code-switching are just as prevalent in the forms of communication now as they were back then.  Though party lines no longer exist, texting, emailing, messaging, and calling have become the main ways that people connect in the twenty-first century.  Because of this, we have come to think of our own “voices” as not just what we vocally say but rather anything that we put into words, no matter the mechanism.  Many people can identify a person just by a specific text he or she sends because this person’s “voice” comes through in every way possible.  Even different sides of personalities can be identified if shown to the right person.  Just because you cannot hear someone’s actual voice does not mean you cannot know who it is.  In a way, “Your Voice is You” is even more prevalent than before because there are now more ways for people to communicate, therefore allowing everyone to find more ways to express themselves and their different personalities in words.  Though the times have changed, and the forms of communication have changed along with them, humans still use certain cues, such as a “voice” to identify others.

“Your Voice is You”

If you know someone well enough, you can often identify them by listening to their voice alone.  Every individual has distinct ways that they speak, whether it is what they say, the accent in which they say it, or what inflections they use.  The Southwestern Bell Telephone Company’s slogan in 1923 supported this idea, saying that “Your Voice is You” (Fischer 41).  The 1950’s movie Pillow Talk utilizes this motto, as well.  Each character’s voice plays an important role in the plot because of the different ways that each one speaks, and all of the code switching leads the characters to perceive, or misperceive, who each person really is.

The movie is focused around a party line shared by Jan, a single interior designer, and Brad, a womanizing musician.  In the beginning, the two main characters interact only through the telephone, and therefore come to recognize the other’s voice.  However, when Jan and Brad talk on the phone, they use specific versions of their voices that are particularly for each other.  For example, Jan despises Brad and therefore always talks to him in a raised, annoyed voice.  Brad, who finds Jan’s impatience with him rather funny, sounds almost condescending, yet charming at the same time.  Later on in the movie, Brad is able to play a prank on Jan by switching his voice to one with a Texan accent and speaking much more politely. Because the two know each other only by their voices, Jan does not realize that this man who she is falling in love with is actually the womanizing man who she despises.

In this movie, code-switching proves to be a successful method in figuring out how to slightly change in order to get what you want.  Brad uses the Texan accent as a method to lure Jan into liking him.  He knows that she would never fall for the man she argued with on the phone, yet he finds her attractive and therefore wants to see how long he can keep up his act.  Jan, no longer talking to the obnoxious man who shares her phone line, turns into a flirty woman who allows herself to be swept off her feet by a polite man from Texas.  Brad wants to be with Jan, so he changes his voice because that is the only thing she knows about him.  Because this voice also goes along with one side of Brad’s personality, Jan does not see the Brad she thought she knew but rather the one that he wants her to see.  She does not even consider that this man could be the man who she hates.  In a way, Brad does actually turn into the man from Texas who he says he is, and does actually fall in love with the woman he used to argue with.  The only thing Brad really changes around Jan is his voice, yet it makes him transform from a player to a man in love.  Voice plays a large role in this movie because it identifies the different characters, albeit in different situations.

Code-Switching as a Mechanism for Forming Relationships

Before this class, I had never thought of code switching as something that mattered very much.  Obviously everyone acts differently depending on who they are talking to and what situation they are in, but I figured that it was just something that happened.  Of course you’re not going to talk to your professor the same way you talk to your little sister, and you would never say something to your parents that is meant for your best friend.  Now that the topic of code switching has been defined and more acknowledged, it is easier to recognize how prevalent it is in our everyday lives.

Though the videos we watched in class may be a little dramatic, certain instances of code-switching that I have witnessed are quite noticeable.  For example, my best friend and I used to drive to school together every morning.  We had the same routine everyday: he would walk across the street to my house, enter with the same greeting, talk to my parents and me, and walk back out to the car when it was time to leave.  Even though I never acknowledged it, I noticed a big difference between the way he talked when my parents were around and when it was just me.  The second we walked out the door and got into the car, he would act goofy, but any time before that he talked with a more formal tone.  He and I have been friends for our whole lives, so naturally we feel comfortable around each others’ families.  Why would he feel the need to still talk as though he had just met my parents when he had actually known them his whole life?  I still don’t know exactly, but I do know that he used code switching because he felt it was an appropriate time to.

Although code switching is an important skill to have, it is just as important to be aware of when and why you are doing it.  Everyone needs to know the appropriate way to talk to different kinds of people, but there is a difference between code switching and personality switching.  I know that I speak differently with my parents than with my best friends.  When I talk to a teacher or person I regard with a lot of respect, I use more formal language.  With people I just met, I probably seem somewhat reserved.  Code switching allows me to maintain the relationships that I have with everyone in my life in an appropriate manner.  I would never use poor or inappropriate language around parents or authority figures, yet around my friends I’ll say things that I wouldn’t want anyone else to hear.  I still have good relationships with everyone, but because they are based on different topics, the language we use together is different as well.  Code switching gives people the opportunity to be multi-faceted, and I think when used correctly, it is a skill that everyone should try to utilize.