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Journnal Prompt: Hoop Dreams

Throughout the entirety of this documentary, William and Arthur were both used as agents of potential success for numerous parties. The most prominent of these parties being their own personal families and the coaches for whom they played basketball. The reasons for which I feel they hold agency are quite similar for each party, but provide a different end. For the boys’ families, success through basketball would mean financial success for every immediate family member. Essentially providing everyone in the family with the rags to riches story which most, who are not placed in this sort of harsh reality of coming to age, only see happening for themselves. Secondly, the coaches who coach these boys are under severe scrutiny, constantly, for whether or not they have what it takes, in terms of coaching skills, to take their potential, and turn them into lean, mean, basketball machines.

The only boys only had one choice to change their future: play basketball, and play it well. This was the only avenue to success for these boys who had come of age in distressed environments; drug infested, crime riddled, and hopeless. Arthur and William are totally and completely at the mercy of the coaches in both their separate college choices, as well as the coach they shared at St. Josephs. As painfully depicted in the film, Arthur was not only removed from the basketball team for not playing “well enough”, though he did play to his full potential at that time, but he was also removed from a higher learning opportunity, and placed back into a public school that looked at him as another Black boy in a system that doesn’t work for him anyways.

I think James chose to depict agency in this particular way because there is very little understanding of the role sports and recreational activities play in the lives of William, Arthur, and other boys like them. I think if it was one thing the director could have wanted us to learn from this movie is that what most people use to entertain themselves with (basketball here) is most certainly another thing in the lives of boys coming of age in distressed environments. Basketball is their livelihood; their way out, and even if they play to the best of their ability, their fate still lies in the hands of others. It is the sad, harsh, and unseen reality James really wanted to shed light on within this film.


WIlliam Gates and Arthur Agee, 03/05/2011,


The “Wanna Be” Barbie

Bratz Dolls

The original Bratz

When I was younger I had Barbie everything. I had the Barbie dream House. I had Barbie and Ken; I had just about everything. Except I never had a black Barbie. I really didn’t the purpose in getting one. They looked exactly like the white Barbie except with a darker skin color. As years went on more and more Barbie stuff would come out. There would be new Barbies, new Barbie accessories. However, one day I was watching TV and I saw something that wasn’t Barbie. I saw Bratz. the Bratz dolls really intrigued me. Bratz dolls came out in 2001 when I was 9 year old. The Bratz dolls were made by MGA Entertainment. These dolls looked like they were for girls of different ethnic backgrounds. They originally started off with 4 girls; Sasha (black), Jade (Asian), Chloe (White), and Yasmin (Hispanic). There was one for every girl that may have wanted one. Bratz did not start off with just one white doll and later add on another; they began with different dolls. This gave little girls more of an option to pick which one they wanted. It also helped because these were dolls that were more like them. In our class discussion of Ethnically Correct Dolls, I felt like this connected to the discussion. It was mentioned in class how it was harder for the little black girls to connect to the white Barbies because they lacked black features. I found this to be true. I didn’t want a black Barbie because it looked just like the white ones. They had the same features, the same type of hair. Nothing was different. However, with Bratz I could relate more to those. The black Bratz doll had curly hair, big lips, and had the same color eyes as me. I feel like the Bratz creator was truly thinking about every little girl when they created these dolls. I have to say Bratz was my favorite doll to play with growing up.

Boy Bands are Back…uh oh

Amazing, life-altering news was released todayby MTVnews, the one hit wonder boy band of the nineteen nineties 98 Degrees is reuniting! While reading this article, and overwhelming feeling battled the instant naseau. I flashed back to being a twelve year old girl, jumping and screaming at the top of my lungs as the Backstreet Boys flew over my head at their concert at the Frank Erwin Center. I remembered hanging NSYNC posters (Justin Timberlake) from ceiling to floor in my room. I was completely OBSESSED.

I see the same crazed expression on the tweens of today with the Justin Beiber phenomenon and the formation of the new boy band One Direction. The thing that is scary about this situation is that I had at least hit puberty when screaming and crying over Justin Timberlake’s dance moves and goofy hair. That is not the same today. The Disney Channel is pumping out pop sensations like a creepy tween dream factory. They start out by watching Mickey’s Playhouse and end up falling in love with Zach and Cody.

Because of this, the age of boy crazed girls is getting younger and younger. We are creating a generation of girls who would dream about marrying Justin Beiber when they should be playing hide and seek with friends.

In the last year a video was uploaded of a three year old crying her eyes out because she loves Justin Beiber. This is not healthy, we are over sexualizing our youth and erasing their imagination. Is this really what we want our young women to be like? I think not.

The Road From Hoop Dreams To Realities

Throughout the 171 minutes of Hoop Dreams, there are various documented instances of agency within William and Arthur’s lives. The  filmmaker, Steve James, decides –whether he intended to or not– to portray these instances in different lights according to who was the focus of the situation and who was wielding the power.

When the documentary focused on William, his success at St. Joseph’s are attributed to the positive choices he makes –the agency that he has; William works hard to increase his reading level; William doesn’t allow himself to be intimidated by others and as a result, gains self-confidence; William works hard to get his ACT scores high enough to qualify for a scholarship: William chooses Marquette over all the other colleges. These exercises of academic agency set William up to be a hard working young man who can do great things with his future for the better…when the opportunities arise –and they do not seem to come by as often as they should for him. In contrast to the agency that positively affects William in the classroom, the agency that puts him at the mercy of someone else outside of tends to provide hardships for the promising young man. Read more

Creativity and Nintendo

The popularity of the several Nintendo game systems that were released in the 1990s had profound effects on my creative mind.  I used to draw pictures of superheroes fighting villains and dinosaurs attacking cities whenever TV seemed unappealing.  These ideas I used for my doodles were mostly a result of the amount of Nintendo 64 I played at a young age.  Games like Star Fox, Rampage, and Super Smash Brothers, as their titles may suggest, are packed with colorful and unique characters and environments that would captivate any seven-year-old American boy.  My relationship with these games was so intimate that I began drawing pictures of my favorite characters at school and eventually in my room while doing homework.  Consistently practicing my artwork every day (out of sheer enjoyment, I might add) so that I could draw the characters just right, my skills developed to a point where I could draw Donkey Kong, Star Fox, and Mario better than the the older kids.

As a result of this newly developed talent, doodling became a hobby in which I indulged whenever I was not watching TV or playing video games.  I’m still pretty good at drawing Spider-man and Medieval Dragons, and I owe this to Nintendo.  Countless hours of flying through space and battling giant turtles inspired me to start drawing and opened my creative mind.  In my last two Archives of Childhood, I’ve asserted the importance parents taking the time to observe what electronic media their kids are indulging in and then determining how often they should indulge.  Now, I have proved how important it is for parents to think about the positive effects of at least some exposure to video games.  Some children may have creativity hidden within them, and video games may help bring them out.

Where’s Waldo??

Remember this guy? White and Red shirts, glasses with weird hat. I remember him as one that i really want to find. I always sat down hours and hours with a book called “Where’s Waldo.”  When i was a just a little kid, i would always followed my mom to the department store. As the shopping gets longer, my mom would stop by at the kids book store to let me read some of the book there. In the bookstore, i would always reached for “Where is Waldo”. This book allowed me to loose track on time, because i was so focused and got challenged on finding all the waldoes in big crowd group of peoples and excited situation.

So, who is waldo? and what is the book “Where’s Waldo”? Waldo is the main character of this book and he is 24 years old as me. British illustrator Martin Handford created this book in 1987.The name that we knew about this book is only used in published book in the United States and Canada. It  actual original name is “Where’s Wally?”, because in Korea, we called him Wally. “It is a series of children’s books that consist of a series of detailed double-page spread illustrations depicting dozens or more people doing a variety of amusing things at a given location.”  This book usually cost 1,2000 won in Korea currency, such as 12 dollars.

However,  where is Asian version of waldo or African version of Waldo? All the main character were Caucasian race. We could wonder that children might think that only Caucasian race travels around the world, but this might be too much worry. It doesn’t represent of inequality of race or challenge to the fixity of racial identity,  because children think that main character could be their race.  From the reading of Elizabeth Chin “Ethically Correct Dolls”, “Clarice, like a number of other girls I knew in Newhallville, does not appear to assume that just because her doll is whit she must treat her that way. When deciding to do her hair, she gives her very white, very blonde, and very blue-eyed doll a hair style that is worn by young black girls.”(368). And I agree with her, I never thought that Wally is only for white children,as view of Asian, he was in the book to be found by any kind of race children, And I thought that Wally was Asian.

Hoop Dreams

Hoop Dreams

In the film “Hoop Dreams,” we have to wonder why the two main characters are compared to each other the way they are. William and Arthur start off in similar situations where their lives spiral onto two completely different paths because of outside influences. As kids, they believed everything that was promised to them and were vulnerable to what I would call “being sold a dream.”  William and Arthur both were talented basketball players as children, but William was more physically developed than Arthur was. William was ready to play on the Varsity level, and as a result he was able to obtain a scholarship to that private school.  William was able to reap benefits from people who were not actually affiliated with the school.  Such outside factors act as an outlet for the school system to follow their policy while simultaneously allowing special treatment to certain students.

The school was able to stand behind their regulations and seem fair behind kicking Arthur out of school. The viewer at this point empathizes with Arthur for getting kicked out of the school that seemed so promising to him. Only, as the movie goes on, we start to understand that because of what was invested in William, his biggest expectation was to play basketball well.  As William and Arthur advance through High School we see their progression in class as well as on the basketball court.  The audience views William not only in a much better facility than Arthur but also showered with extra attention in order for him to do well.  William receives one on one tutoring while Arthur has to learn Senior English in a summer school class where the teacher had to teach all high school levels at the same time.  We see William able to spend many hours practicing in the gym as Arthur works many hours at his job only making minimum wage.

Though Arthur was forced to return to his under privileged school, he finds ways to express himself.  The camera catches him with his friends listening to music, dancing, and joking around.  William seemed to be surrounded by people that he couldn’t relate to.  Perhaps James displayed Arthur’s moments of expression and not William to imply William was stripped from these opportunities because of his school.

William gets hurt his junior year and had to sit out the rest of the season.  William works hard to recover and during his senior year he returned as the team’s leading scorer during the season.  However, William speaks out and says that the same teammates that idolized him before he was hurt lost respect for him when he returned because he wasn’t as explosive as he used to be.  We see Arthur progression on the court through high school.  Arthur was not the leading scorer on the team through school and his coach had many thoughts on how he could improve, but Arthur’s chemistry with his teammates was much stronger than William and his teammates.

Through all the extra perks and attention William received compared to Arthur, the audience watches William express to his coach that he wasn’t generally pleased with his time at the private school. I believe James captured a great moment with the audience when the coach says to the camera, “it’s how it goes… One kid goes out, another one comes in.” William couldn’t relate to his coach. His coach was there to win and win only, which explains why they recruited. Arthur’s coach believed in him. Arthur may not have gotten the best education, but he wasn’t a victim to any system. He was able to mature into the man that he wanted to become.

The viewer is able to see both lives develop. The beginning and the end of the movie tell the whole story. Arthur had a harder life, but in the end he pursued his basketball dream longer than William did. Perhaps James wanted his viewers to understand that maybe ones destiny is a result of a person’s ambition and not in the advanced commodities around you.  Because of all the extra attention from his coaches, teachers, and his sponsor William was expected to become a “promising athlete.”  Once he hurt himself he lost the attention from his teammates and his coach.  William expresses that his coach would not empathize with him whenever he went to his coach with personal problems not relating to basketball.  James shows how William is pushed to go to college.  William is able to take his ACT 5 times before he becomes eligible to get into a four year institution.  At the same time, James shows how easy it would have been for Arthur not to finish school.  His best friend dropped out of high school and his mother was more focused on Arthur finishing high school than going to college.  Arthur finishing high school and enrolling into a Junior college showed Arthur’s will and determination.

James’ “Hoop Dreams,” exposes the reality of special treatment.  Arthur was still in college by the time William dropped out.  The audience sees Arthur enjoying high school more than William even though William was in a much better school.  Had William stopped playing basketball he probably would have lost his scholarship and got kicked out of school just as Arthur did.  William did not have as many options as he did perks in high school.  Arthur made the choice to finish school and go to college.  William was pushed to go to college.  William was a part of a system designed to make sure their students get to college.  Arthur was part of a community where many never made it to college.  I think this was what James wanted his viewers to see.  Arthur was able to make his own choices when following his dream.  William was promised his dream as long as he followed the designed program.  My guess is that after it was all said and done, William would be the one to say, “If I could relive high school, I would of made the choice to do things differently.”