Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Other’ Category

Agency in Hoop Dreams

In ­Hoop Dreams, Arthur Agee and William Gates struggle with the dream to get out of the ghetto and make it to the NBA, but there is no one really in their lives to help them reach their dreams. It is all left up to their own agency in a lot of ways. However, in the documentary you can see that both Arthur and William have a hard time with larger outside forces that are outside of their control.

A few instances of agency for Arthur and William in the documentary are when the boys choose to attend St Joseph’s on partial scholarship.  They make the 90-minute trip to and from school every morning so they can have a shot to make it out of the ghetto and in to the NBA like Isaiah Thomas did coming from the same school. However, William thrives more at the school than Arthur does by making Varsity is freshman year and finding a private donor that commits to paying the rest of his tuition at St Josephs. Both Arthur and William come in to St Joseph’s with very low education levels, but William works harder to keep up his grades and learn than Arthur does. Another case where William takes his future in his own hands and shows agency is when he decides, against the coach’s advise, to be a father to the baby he and his girlfriend have.

The two boys are also at the mercy of larger forces against their control. Arthur’s family is not able to pay the balance of the tuition at St. Joseph’s so he is forced to leave the school and go back to his neighborhood high school. The high school he attends does not have a strong basketball program, so when recruiting time comes around, the larger schools are not showing any interest in him. This is hard on Arthur because he wants so badly to make it, but he just does not have the chance to do so. William also struggles against larger forces when he injures his knee. The doctors tell him that he may have to sit out the year, and the look on his face shows the pain not only in his knee but also in knowing what that would do to his chances at the NBA.

I think that James depicts agency in this way because it shows that even though that no matter how much a person wants to have control over his own future and not matter how much he work to reach their goals, sometimes he just cannot triumph over the larger forces at work against him.

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.

Moral Panic and You

Panic not in the disco

Today I decided to post about our favorite class topic: moral panic.  Keeping it light, I decided to feature’s top six most ridiculous moral panics in America.  Low and behold, comic books is at the sixth spot.  You’ve also got a reference to a drug made from excrement, Dungeons and Dragons, and backward rock and roll messages, among others.  What the site is getting at, and which I think is pertinent to class discussions, is the fact that often times moral panics don’t really need to exist anywhere but in the mind of wary adults.  As society increasingly becomes more saturated by information (without too much of a stop-gap) and becomes more overworked, it seems the reliability of actual moral panics fade into the background.


The very nature of moral panic is the thought that something is corrupting the youth.  There seems to be a predisposition amongst adults of a certain stripe to fear what possible influences the outside world may have upon their children.  This is referenced in Bradbury’s short story “The Veldt” which we read some time ago.  In that story, the children turn into monsters through their addiction too technology.  In that story, the parents don’t understand the tech as well as the children.  This ignorance – and fear of it – seems to be essential to moral panic.  Instead of having a freakout over rainbow parties, parents could instead converse with their children.  This may not be the most comfortable thing, however.  In this light, we can almost see moral panic as a knee-jerk reaction standing in place of true understanding of children and the actual repercussions of the stimuli presented to them.  Yes parents should look out for their children, but this act requires the very simple function of looking.  This Cracked list points out the absurd lengths crazed adults will go to to put fictive fears to sleep without actually checking to see if such panics have a leg to stand on in reality.

Only Dreams of Agency

The Dream


The documentary “Hoop Dreams” is a good representation of the extent individuals can exhibit agency within their environment (or the lack thereof). The protagonist’ in the documentary, Arthur and William, start out as having the same goal of some day playing in the National Basketball Association, like their idol Isiah Thomas. When first thinking about this dream, it seems common practice for any kid to want that goal. The difference however, is that Arthur and William have no choice but, to have that dream. The kids live in a poor area of Chicago, where drug dealing is rampant, role models are nearly non-existant, and schools are not up to par. Therefore, while the boys might love basketball and express agency through the choice to play basketball, they also have no other avenue to success which erodes their agency. Education is not an option for them until, they are recruited to St. Johns because of their basketball abilities. St. Johns is an expensive private school however, and since Arthur’s basketball skills were not enough for him to afford a scholarship, he is kicked out of St. Johns forcing him to go back to his old community. Within this community, drugs are a common practice, as was seen when Arthur’s dad was arrested for drug possession as well as his best friend. Arthur did not want to go down this avenue in life and decided to dedicate himself to basketball. While the choice to play basketball instead of dealing drugs was Arthur’s choice, there was no other option for success.

Unlike Arthur, William was good enough at basketball to keep his scholarship to attend St. Johns. This allowed him to express more agency than Arthur, as was seen by him attaining a summer job and networking with individuals. Also, the headmaster at St. Johns seemed to routinely check in on William’s academic progress, as well as his basketball progress, giving him another option in life besides basketball, once high school ended. The foundation of the agency though, was still intertwined with the ability to play basketball. This pressure to not let the foundation collapse, lead to William injuring his knee because of the lack of agency basketball forced him into. Clearly hurt, William knew that without basketball, there was no St. Johns and without St. Johns there was no summer job, networking, or education. Therefore, he had to push through his body’s limitations to the extent of injury. The only time William expressed agency beyond basketball was when he had a child with his girlfriend. This action to have a child though, put even more pressure on William to succeed at basketball, so that he could go to a good college and support his new family.

James chose to depict Arthur’s and William’s lack of agency to bring light to the problem it proposes. In poor inner cities, where education is virtually non-existent, there are no other avenues to success or even expression of self other than the pursuit of dreams in the entertainment industry. The lack of agency people have when they are not given the opportunity of a formal education is astounding and that is why James portrayed it the way he did. The issue is real and should not be twisted into a fairy-tale story. We talked about possible ways to fix this problem within class and the one I propose is enforcing the “Robin Hood” act. The problem is only going to be cyclical as education is funded through property taxes and, therefore, the wealthier neighborhoods will always be at an advantage. With the “Robin Hood” act, the money is better distributed. When a high school has a $10 million football stadium and pays their football coach $100,000+ a year, while other schools do not even have buses or books, there is a problem.

Little and Cute

One of my most enjoyed childhood toys was Polly Pocket. She was not only exciting because the enormous amount of clothing my parents bought to compliment their purchase of the doll, but she was small enough to put in my pocket and take with me anywhere I went. Trust me, Polly was the accompaniment of choice for several doctor’s visits, school plays, and movie nights.

Created in 1983 by Chris Wiggs, Polly was  not introduced to stores until 1989 and finally picked up by the massive toy producing company Mattel in the year 1998.  She was very similar to other doll lines, such as Barbie and Bratz, but her conveniently small and all around plastic reality (clothes, hair, and body) gave her an edge her competitors did not have. Polly did  not come alone. She had several friends: Shani, Lea, Lila, Crissy, Kerstie, Rick, and Todd. This gives the consumer enough characters to create not only an elaborate scene for play, but a huge wardrobe to create for each doll owned. It was this thought that monetarily appealed to Mattel in late 1998 and led to the creation of Fashion Polly!

The initial purchase of a Polly Pocket doll, and a few complimentary fashion items, starts at about $10 with additional items ranging anywhere from $10-40.

This doll line definitely appeals to the recent increase in things colored pink in an attempt to reach a young, female consumer. It is also made small to appeal to younger children who feel a sense of control while playing with smaller items. The fact that Polly has so many friends and extra accessories to accompany her adventures makes for a great business item that keeps consumers needing to purchase more. There is also an incentive to update your wardrobe and doll as the child continues to play with the items by deliberately making the line out of plastic: a material that is sure to run down after lots of usage.

Polly Pocket Commerical from 1994

Polly Pocket and Friends


All throughout this course we have discussed the back and forth of children’s literature, toys and TV programming. The tug-of-war between using these mediums to enrich the child and letting them simply be used for fun. Many of these things in today’s society seem to fit into the ‘fun’ category (Nerf guns, Twilight, etc). There are also a number of products targeted at helping the child fundamentally grow (Leapster, Baby Einstein, etc).

It is clear when looking at the TV shows, toys and books of today that once you hit a certain age, the learning functions of these products are similar to that of the TV show Free to Be You and Me. Acceptance is the theme of the youth of today. The recent ABC2 news article “Modern Children’s Books Help Families Explore Diversity”, goes into depth on the topic of using children’s literature to help them understand different types of families. Books like “The Mommy Book” by Todd Parr, “Daddy, Papa, and Me” by Leslea Newman portray families that may not be like the child’s own family. These books allow the child to see something outside of their own homes, understand and accept it.

This is not a theme limited to books for young children. It has also made its way into many main stream TV shows directed towards entire families or adolescents. ABC’s Modern Family, shows the wide range of families we encounter. This show is not targeted at kids alone, but their entire family. Modern Family is the teen and adult version of the children’s books of Parr and Newman.

In Glee, Fox’s weekly musical hit, the entire show is based on feeling like an outsider. Two of the main characters are gay, one is African American, two are Asian, one is in a wheelchair, and one character is overweight. This is the modern day Free to Be You and Me, with catchy popular songs straight off the charts, and the overall message that everyone is different and we should accept them.

The ABC Family hit

Pretty Little Liars, which is targeted at teen girls, one of the main characters is a lesbian and all of her friends accept it without a problem.

The list goes on and on. As shown by the below video, overall we are moving in a direction where it is not only ok to be different, but acceptance of our differences is encouraged.



Hello Kitty’s Furry Tale Theater: Peter Penguin

Image from Amazon Instant Video

“Hello Kitty” started out as a brand in Japan in 1974 and was then brought to the United States in 1976. This brand expanded, which lead to the television show in 1987, Hello Kitty’s Furry Tale Theater. This television show is based off of children’s story books and movies. In the episode, titled “Peter Penguin”, Hello Kitty starts off backstage of the performance asking My Melody if she had gotten her wings ready for the performance because she’s Tinker bell. In next clip, Grandpa Kitty is working on My Melody’s wings, but he is puzzled on which way he should turn the knob, and My Melody comes running in grabbing her wings before Grandpa Kitty could finish the tweaks on them. The play then starts by Hello Kitty and Chip, her brother, playing pirate ship by throwing pillows. Hello Kitty then states that she gives up and her brother Chip says, “Peter Penguin would never give up!” Peter Penguin then emerges through their windows and asks Hello Kitty and Chip to help him with his mission because they are believers. The only restriction when they go to Never say Neverland is to never say “never”. Then it moves to the next clip where Tinker bell is captured by the cat, Captain Claw, who is supposed to depict Captain Hook in Peter Pan. Peter Penguin then flies to Captain Claw’s ship with Hello Kitty and Chip to try and save Tinker bell. There is then a battle with Captain Claw’s army by throwing pies at Peter Penguin and his gang. Peter Penguin and his gang are then captured and are in need to being freed.  So Peter Penguin then tricks Captain Claw into saying the word “never,” which then makes the earth destroy itself. Peter Penguin then rescues Tinker bell, but she isn’t waking up so Peter Penguin tells Hello Kitty and Chip to wish her well. In the end, Tinker bell wakes up well and then Hello Kitty and Chip returns back to their home.

The episode that I have summarized above is a typical “Hello Kitty” episode. Thus, it exemplifies Gary Cross’ idea of PLCs as a “fantasy world”. Cross says, “The old view that children should learn from the past and prepare for the future is inevitably subverted in a consumer culture where memory and hope get lost in the blur of perpetual change” (290). The whole plot is based on a fantasy world which is unrealistic, and throughout the whole episode there was not any relation to preparing children in the real world. The episode had animals talking, animals flying, as well as pirates and a land beyond the world. Therefore, I would agree for the most part with Cross’ concept of children not being able to learn major lessons through these fantasy PLCs.