The Mall

benpettis.com/mall

Like many other kids in the third grade, I really enjoyed drawing things and using simple markers and crayons as an outlet for my active imagination. For some reason, I became obsessed with creating and drawing imaginary storefronts and the various items that each of them sold.

Over the course of about a year, my friends and I drew countless different storefronts – some based in reality, others entirely imagined. I visualized our creation as a giant mall of sorts, with each storefront physically connected to other stores that we had created. I envisioned a giant network of stores, and wanted to find some way to connect all of our drawings and represent their actual spatial relationships. Unfortunately, third-grade me lacked the technical know-how to actually make this happen, and my idea sat unfinished in a small folder tucked away in a my parents’ garage.

Fast forward 18 years to me visiting Colorado for Winter Break. I’m digging through boxes of my old stuff – at the request of my parents to finally “get this crap out of here” – and stumble across my old third grade project. Seeing as I had some time to fill, I started Googling some HTML5 and JavaScript network visualizations and cobbled something together.

I tried to connect each image to the correct neighbors, but it turns out that third-grade me was actually pretty awful at creating a sensible organization structure… Any nodes that are unconnected are stores that we forgot to connect to another one. Nodes without images are store names that I found references to, but no actual drawing.

Eat your heart out, younger-me

YouTube Rewind 2017: All Hail Our Corporate Overlords

At the end of each year, YouTube releases a “rewind” video – a compilation of popular videos, music, and trends from the previous 12 months. A collaboration with hundreds of YouTube content creators, each year’s YouTube rewind ends up being a rapid-cut montage of song, dance, and celebration. However, this year’s YouTube Rewind broke slightly from this format, resulting in a strange and disjointed effect. While the seven minute video does conform to previous years’ YouTube Rewinds–with hundreds of popular YouTubers and popular music from the year–the entire feeling of the video changes about halfway through. In a break from the general positive feeling of upbeat and energetic reflection upon the previous year, there is a 45 second montage of very serious and tragic events that occurred during 2017. As if in an attempt by YouTube to acknowledge and engage with the negative aspects of the year as well, the audience is subjected to a rapid-fire sequence of low points from the year before being thrust back into the happy song-and-dance sequence. Not only does this trivialize complex and nuanced world issues by presenting them as yet another “trend” from the past 12 months, the treatment of these serious and tragic events by YouTube Rewind 2017 also raises significant questions about the ever-growing role that media giants such as YouTube play in our daily lives.

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We are at War

The political situation within the United States has become interesting, to say the very least. Our president is provoking Kim Jong Un via Twitter toward a nuclear confrontation, has interjected himself into a small conflict with LaVar Ball after he wasn’t thankful enough for getting his son out of a Chinese prison, and is the center of several sexual harassment allegations (much like the rest of the GOP as well). Of course, all of this is occurring against the backdrop of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into any connections that the Trump campaign may have had with Russia, including possible collusion during the campaign.

While all of these things are certainly important topics to pay attention to, I fear that we have become blind to another pressing issue that is happening right in front of us. Our very institutions of American democracy have been attacked, and continue to be assaulted on a daily basis. But I fear that we are becoming complacent and not taking this threat as seriously as we should be. Russia has, and continues to, undermine our nation through online attacks and disinformation campaigns, and we seem to be unwilling to even acknowledge this fact. The United States and Russia have entered a new stage of warfare, one that takes place not in battlefields but on social media. We are at war with Russia. And we’re losing, badly.

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Battle for the Net Part 2: Electric Bugaloo

In 2015 the FCC approved rules guaranteeing a free and open Internet and made official protections for the principle of net neutrality. This principle simply states that Internet Service Providers ISPs must treat all content equally – they cannot discriminate content by slowing or blocking certain websites entirely. This is important to promote innovation, protect the freedom of the Internet, and prevent ISPs from controlling what we are allowed to see and access. But now those same protections are under threat once again thanks to the FCC’s new chairman, Ajit Pai.

Stop fucking with the Internet, dammit!

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Who is to Blame for Fake News?

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In the last several months, the term “fake news” has gone from a rarely-used phrase to a concept that seemingly everyone had run into and had an opinion on. And with a President who casually throws the phrase around in an attempt to discredit media organizations, it certainly seems that the notion of fake news isn’t going away anytime soon. The term has evolved from describing articles that are factually inaccurate to encompass any media that has a distinct partisan bias. On the one hand, you have Trump supporters using it to claim liberal bias in news reporting while on the other hand you have the US Intelligence Community describing a deliberate Russian “influence campaign” to sway the 2016 Presidential Election. Regardless of political leaning or party affiliation, it seems that everyone is at least aware of fake news, and has an opinion on what should be done in response. Though there are disagreements over what actually constitutes fakes news, universally fake news is seen as a problem that must somehow be “fixed.”

So naturally, a handful of solutions have been proposed that aim to solve the problem of fake news once and for all. Generally these solutions have offered a “top-down” approach—attempting to cut off fake news from the source, and prevent it from ever reaching an audience. This has taken many forms, including blaming the media corporations who published the content, holding social media services responsible for their platforms role in spreading the content, or even suggesting that the government take a more active regulatory role in journalism. However, hardly any so-called “fixes” for this problem get at the root of what’s really causing the proliferation of fake news––us. We can attempt to blame media outlets, social media services, or even the government for the problem that fake news has become, but the common factor in it all remains the same: those who read, watch, listen to, and otherwise consume media in their day to day lives. We, the audience, are ultimately responsible for the rampant spread of fake news.

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The ‘Distracted Boyfriend’ Meme

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen it appearing all over the Internet, a new meme that has surged in popularity. Its basis is quite simple: a stock photo of a young couple walking down a city street. The man turns to look back at an attractive woman walking back the other way. His girlfriend looks on in disgust. The original photo is quite simple and could have easily lived its entire life as an obscure stock photo – a man looking away from his girlfriend at another woman. Antonio Guillem, photographer of the original image, likely thought that it wouldn’t go much further than that as well.

Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock

But that soon changed as some users started adding text on top of the people in the photo to assign different names or personalities to the original. Each version of the photo now told a slightly different story: looking away from what you currently have, or what may presently make sense, and considering a different (and more preferable option) For example a love of dogs:


Or a cat’s obsession with boxes:

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Or maybe even the scenario of playing new games, or old ones:

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What makes the “Distracted Boyfriend” meme especially interesting is the fact that the same format can apply in numerous situations – even to specific details that only certain groups would be able to understand. For instance Penguin Random House got in on the meme fun:

Or InfoSec experts discussing Windows updates:

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Or from players of the most recent Zelda game:

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Regardless of what group was using the meme format, its overall meaning remained the same. Each instance of the Distracted Boyfriend meme portrayed the same scene playing out again and again–someone who had already made a decision, or had an obligation, wondering about whether or not they made the right choice, and wishing that they could take a different action. Each individual instance of the meme feeds into the meme’s overall meaning as a whole; simultaneously the overall meaning of the meme feeds back into how each individual instance is interpreted. Thus, even if we don’t understand the specific details of how one particular group is using it, we still understand the general usage of the Distracted Boyfriend meme.

Guillem even referred to this fact in an interview for WIRED. “Regarding what I think about the photo has gone viral, I think the image was a good foundation to whoever had the great idea to turn it into a metaphor that works for almost everything,” he says. No matter what group uses the image, and no matter how it is adopted, the overall meaning is still approximately the same. The memes even became self-referential, and many instances appeared that speak to the actual act of creating meme instances and running a meme social media page:

(@mc3smemedream ) heck

A post shared by Meta Memes (@memesformemers) on


Perhaps, the Distracted Boyfriend meme has become so widespread in its popularity because it revels some universal truth of the human condition. The fact that life inevitably presents each of us with a series of choices that we must make, and that you’ll always question if you actually made the correct decision–or if there was a “better” option that you turned down. Perhaps the meme is our contemporary rendition of the problem that Robert Frost was trying to get at in his famous poem:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

-Robert Frost, 1916

Or maybe it’s just a stupid Internet that’s running its course.

Trump, Chickens, and the Memeification of Politics

For better or for worse, memes have fully entered the world of politics. And they’re here to stay.

An inflatable chicken meant to resemble President Trump on the Ellipse, just south of the White House, on Wednesday. Credit Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

An inflatable chicken meant to resemble President Trump on the Ellipse, just south of the White House, on Wednesday. Credit Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Earlier this week, a new political protest appeared outside of the White House–an enormous inflatable chicken stylized to look like President Trump. The chicken, with Trump’s distinct hairstyle and signature hand gestures (👌) was placed on the Ellipse, a park between the White House and the Washington Monument. The large balloon representation of the President drew plenty of attention, from both side of the political spectrum. According to the New York Times, the inflatable chicken’s trip to Washington was planned and organized by Taran Singh Brar, and was meant to represent trump as a “weak and ineffective leader.” Brar said that his goal was for his political statement to go viral and his inflatable chicken certainly did exactly that, though perhaps not exactly in the way that he was hoping.

Beyond the initial coverage of the chicken’s appearance, there has been very little information about Brar and his message of Trump as an ineffective leader. Instead, Trump supporters have flocked to the inflatable chicken and used it as a unifying symbol and as a rallying cry. The specific messaging has varied–from the chicken as a symbol of “butthurt liberals” to being representative of the President’s personality and his “enormous cock.” Despite these variances one fact remains, which is that Brar’s inflatable chicken, originally intended to criticize Trump, was now being used in a positive manner by his supporters.

the_donald-frontpageThe frontpage of /r/The_Donald, a subreddit for Trump supporters, was filled with links to images, articles, and comments all relating to the giant inflatable chicken. Trump supporters visited Washington, posing for photos with the chicken while wearing their Trump shirts and Make America Great Again hats. Other redefined Brar’s original message of cowardice and saw the chicken as representing strength, bravery, and leadership–or in one user’s words, “The President’s huge cock.” For them, the chicken was a symbol of Trump’s style of leading the nation, his America-first style of diplomacy, and the manner in which he pushes his legislative agenda. And finally, one last common theme that was found throughout /r/The_Donald was that Brar’s chicken represented liberals’ inability to accept Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 Election. For many, the chicken was seen as an immature response from the left to the Trump Presidency.

However, what’s really interesting regarding this whole chicken business is that this conflict over its meaning did not take place in the form of debate, discussion, or even as an argument. Instead these messages arose in the form of memes, and spread in a similar fashion. Originally meant as a single political statement, the giant inflatable chicken had become its own meme and had begun to spread virally, just as Brar had hoped.

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iyj9bw2d5xezInstances of the inflatable chicken meme ranged in form and style–some were simply a photograph of the chicken with a simple caption placed on top. Some copied previous memes, such as “I Made This” and simply edited in imagery of Trump supporters stealing the chicken from a Clinton supporter. And some Photoshopped the chicken image into other photographs, as if to represent their view of Trump’s wide-reaching power and influence.

And if the meme instances alone were not enough confirmation that Trump supporters had reclaimed the inflatable chicken imagery entirely as their own, the comments that were left on each post confirmed this point even further. The general theme of most comments was that the meme had successfully been stolen from the left, and that the right’s memes were significantly better than what the other side could ever come up with.

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“BECAUSE THE LEFT CANT MEME” – /u/HIGHENERGYBASTARD

“We have the best cocks, don’t we folks?” – /u/God_I_Love_Men

“We have the best meme thieves, don’t we folks??” – /u/MAGANOPOLIS

“WE HAVE SEIZED THE MEMES OF PRODUCTION” – /u/kingofthekarts

Interestingly, there has been little to no dialogue from the other side, from those who the meme was supposedly stolen from. Though /r/The_Donald is filled with comments bragging about stealing the chicken meme from the left, nobody on the left really seems upset nor seems to even realize that something was “stolen” from them in the first place. In other words, the transformation of the inflatable chicken from single political statement to Internet meme underscores many of the issues relating to the increasing prevalence of memes within politics. Specifically, the inflatable chicken meme calls into question the notion of ownership when it comes to the issue of memes.

I am currently writing my senior thesis on Pepe the Frog and that meme’s role in American politics; many of the concepts my research has led me too are echoed by the recent appearance of this inflatable chicken. Memes are unique because unlike other political statements, there is no one single owner. There isn’t a single person, or even a single organization, that can rightfully claim ownership of a meme and define what its specific (and “real”) meaning actually is. The inflatable chicken portrays President Trump simultaneously in a negative and positive light–and neither interpretation is intrinsically more correct than the other. Memes serve as a vessel to carry and transmit to complex ideas, and distill them down to a simple image or phrase. The conflict between Trump supporters and Trump opponents, and the complex relationship between Republicans and Democrats, and the inherent complications of the US political system are all somehow simultaneously embodied by this giant inflatable chicken.

At first glance, the chicken is merely a simple political stunt, and images of it that appear online are nothing more. However the chicken has grown to represent in simple terms the complex political ideas, discussions, and debates that are currently unfolding in the so-called “real world.” The fact that a simple inflatable chicken can serve as a symbol of such a wide array of topics is significant, and underscores the new reality of the 21st century: Whether you like it or not, memes matter. And they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

This is not Normal

Donald Trump has been in office for 200 days now, and during that time he has completely redefined our understanding of what the President’s role is for our nation. He has questioned the legitimacy of American journalists, taken numerous vacations, and continued his attacks on Hillary Clinton – all while somehow failing to enact any meaningful legislation. As a President, Trump is an anomaly – something that this country has never seen before. Reading the news can be quite disheartening, especially when it seems that we can’t go an entire 24 hours without hearing of something else ridiculous that the President has done. His erratic behavior and unusual leadership style runs the risk of becoming normalized, and being accepted as the new standard for American Presidents. However we must never lose sight of the fact that nothing about the Trump Presidency is usual or ordinary. This is not normal.

  • It is not normal to tweet at early hours of the morning, and interacting with Twitter accounts who are likely paid bots
  • Is it not normal to follow the same propaganda tactics used by the FSB and other similar Russian strategies
  • It is not normal to continually question and undermine the legitimacy of a Special Counsel’s investigation into election interference
  • It is not normal to go on the offensive about leaks of sensitive information, only to later tweet articles that rely heavily upon leaked intel
  • It is not normal to continue having campaign-style rallies, where the crowd is encouraged to revert back to their 2016-esque “Lock her up” chants
  • It is not normal to have a constant revolving door of White House staff, where Anthony Scaramucci only lasted 10 days as Communication Director
  • It is not normal to praise dictators and other violent leaders for their “strength,” such as China and Turkey
  • It is not normal to speak disrespectfully and immaturely to leaders of our ally nations, Mexico and Australia
  • It is not normal to threaten North Korea with “fire and fury” in regards to their nuclear program

Nothing about the Trump presidency is normal, and it is critical that we remind ourselves of this fact. It seems that every news cycle is filled with more stories about how erratic Trump is acting, or the crazy comment that he made last. And while it certainly is true that Donald Trump behaves in this fashion, it is not acceptable behavior nor is it indicative of the nation as a whole. President Trump is not normal, and we cannot ever allow ourselves to forget that fact. The immediate weeks following his election, and again following his inauguration, we kept reminding ourselves about this. That the next four years would be filled with norms and establishments being challenged, that we must remember that the events that are happening in fact are not typical, and that we must fight back against them being normalized. However 200 days into the Trump Presidency, I already see us forgetting this fact and becoming numb to the daily deluge of news. I myself am guilty of this, but on the 200 day marker want to remind myself of this fact.

This is not normal.

AMPU, PAUM, PUMA, AUMP, UMPA, MUPA, MAUP

General Thoughts, Wisdom, and Musings

The Dietler staff is an incredibly dedicated group of young men and women who deliver the greatest experience that Scouting has to offer. This is a camp staff like no other, and the things that we accomplish are unmatched by any other camp and by any other staff in the nation. The Camp Director’s leadership and direction is critical to guide the staff’s energy, enthusiasm, and dedication toward excellence. Dietler staff have the most difficult jobs at all of Peaceful Valley—we require so much of each individual, provide little downtime for rest, and have very high standards that we pride ourselves on living up to. It may seem like you’re pushing very hard on minor details, but those details truly do matter and are the reason that Dietler staff truly is the best. I’ve compiled this section of general thoughts—some my own, some from previous staff—as inspiration to future staff, and a reminder of the rich tradition from which we come.

Will you just “go through the motions” or dare greatly to be the master of the ultimate Scouting experience? The choice is yours and we need you to step up and make the difference.

Boon Eck, 2014

Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose, and Urgency – Ben Pettis, 2016

There are many ways to motivate a group of individuals to do a particular task, but not all are equally effective. The first, which is often used in many workplaces, is the “carrot and stick” technique. By either offering rewards, or threatening punishment, staff are directed to complete certain tasks. For instance, if you complete these tasks, you’ll receive your paycheck. Or if you don’t complete these tasks, or don’t meet our standards, you’ll receive disciplinary action. But under this model, even though tasks are completed, they are often done begrudgingly, and simply because they “have to” and not because they are important to the function of camp and delivering the Scouting program. A camp staff that is motivated only through “carrots and sticks” is not an effective one, and will struggle to run even a mediocre summer camp.

However, when the camp staff is empowered to act independently and take ownership of their positions, the quality of staff and of the camp as a whole flourishes. The staff completes their tasks not because they are required to, but because it’s necessary for the day to day function of camp. Instead of being motivated from external factors (the carrot and stick), the staff should be self-motivated through the qualities of Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

Autonomy – the ability to work independently, without direction. Staff should understand what needs to be done, and make sure it gets done—even if not specifically told to do so.

Mastery – the staff are skilled and knowledgeable and strive for excellence in everything that they do. The staff prides itself in the quality of its work, and aims for excellence not because they will be rewarded for doing so, but because achieving a high standard of work is reward in and of itself.

Purpose – The staff is here at camp for the right reasons. We do things not for the recognition, or to be the person at the center of attention, receiving praise from others. Instead, the ultimate reason that we are here at camp, and strive for excellence, is to provide an incredible scouting experience to the campers who populate our camp. Everything we do ultimately is for them, and it is important to keep this goal in mind.

Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose comprise an important tool to motivate the staff and empower them to do their jobs with pride and excellence. However this is one additional trait that differentiate the work ethic and mentality of the Dietler staff, and underscores the unique manner in which we work. Urgency—everything we do, while motivated by Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose, is done with a sense of urgency. This does not mean that the staff should rush through their jobs and complete tasks in a substandard manner. However it does mean that if something needs to be done, the staff completes that task as soon as possible. It means not letting the little things pile up and become bigger issues. Solving a problem early on keeps camp running smoothly, and provides a great experience for our campers. Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose, and Urgency are traits that all great staff members should embody.

Thoughts about MDC/Camp/Life on Staff – Tim Cycyota, 2008

Initiative. I feel that if a word could replace “Hardcore” while still maintaining the integrity of what Hardcore means, it is initiative. Initiative is getting up and going hard and fast. Initiative is finding a hole and filling it, even if it is a simple as sweeping down the decks or talking to scouts. Initiative is only sitting down to catch your breath before getting back out into the fray. Initiative is understanding what this program, this camp, this ranch means to the staff that run it and the campers who populate it. Initiative is taking care of this camp and its campers, but also taking care of you. Initiative is working smarter, not harder, and initiative means no one burns out. As Dietler staff, we take great pride in the integrity of our work. I will debate any other staff that says they work harder than the staff at Dietler. We work this hard because of our possession of so much initiative. Hardcore in recent years has become inseperable from nostalgia, as in “Remember when we stayed up for an entire 24 hours cleaning the Commissary? That was Hardcore.” This nostalgia only serves to drive a wedge between older staff and younger staff, preventing true staff unity. If all of staff is on the same page, if all of staff understands the importance of showing initiative, then our staff will be in my opinion the best camp staff in the country. Maybe I’m a tad biased, but it’s entirely possible.

Camp Colorado Staff GuideBoone Eck, 1988

Your job at Camp Colorado is to facilitate opportunities for activities as well as provide the necessary support to ensure a Scouting week full of enthusiaction (sic). You are a representative of the Denver Area Council, which has a strong heritage of quality camping experiences. Your role is to ensure good programming but in no way are you to become the leader of any unit. In a way you’ll act as an assistant Scoutmaster.

As a staff member, you need to be ready to work as a team to accomplish the many thigns that happen at camp. Enthusiasm is the key to our success this ummer. Your utmost example of the Scout Oath and Law will demonstrate a lasting impression of Scouting—good or bad. You are a role model and expected to be one at all times.

As a staff member, you must have the energy of an hunharnessed volcano, the drive of a rocket, the memory of an elephant, the understanding of a clergyman, the wisdom of a judge, the tenacity of a spider, the patience of a general, the diplomacy of an ambassador, and the common sence of the Supreme Court. As a staff member you must always remember that Scouts are trained by doing, by example, and by a sincere interest in the subject at hand.

Marilyn Monroe: A Case Study in Stardom

1ba2b63b0e51c55c0a488f2c206c7770Marilyn Monroe was one of America’s most well-known stars to come out of Hollywood. Though the peak of her career was in the 1950s and 1960s, Marilyn Monroe’s stardom has lasted until even today. Almost half a century later both her name and image are still easily recognizable, a sign of how well her legacy has endured. This long-lasting history makes Marilyn Monroe an excellent case study for the phenomenon of stardom. Film theorist Richard Dyer, in his essay Stars, describes various aspects of stars and stardom, and provides ways to analyze them. Marilyn Monroe’s career provides us with several examples of a real application of Dyer’s star theory. Her own status as a star is a microcosm for the stardom phenomenon as a whole.

One of the first components of Dyer’s theory is to examine the star as a construction. The star figure is not actually real, and is instead artificially produced both on and off screen by studios, directors, and actors. The platinum blonde sex symbol that appears throughout Hollywood films is not the real Marilyn Monroe, but rather a mere portrayal of her star persona. Monroe’s persona was deliberately constructed and promoted throughout her career. In fact, her real name was Norma Jeane Mortenson, which she used throughout her early career as a pin-up model. It wasn’t until her first contract with Fox that she picked the stage name Marilyn Monroe. Her star persona developed through the films she performed in, playing characters such as “the girl” and “the blonde.” These roles highlighted her beauty and established her sense of “to-be-looked-at-ness.” These qualities and appeals to the male gaze eventually became defining features of Monroe’s stardom. To complement the on-screen construction, Monroe’s appearances in off-screen settings also perpetuated her star persona. In TV and magazine interviews, she presented herself as naive and unashamed about her natural sexuality. Through the combination of both on- and off-screen construction, Monroe developed as a star, known as an American sex symbol. According to Dyer, stardom is somethign that is carefully constructed and promoted. Had this construction process not occurred, Monroe may have remained Norma Mortenson and her career gone in a completely different direction. Marilyn Monroe, as a star, is the product of construction.

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Dyer also wrote that stars can be studied as commodities. They are, according to him, commercial products that can be sold and consumed to generate studio profits. For example, Monroe appeared in advertisements for various products and helped increase their value and appeal. Additionally, many of her films were star vehicles–films written specifically for her to appear in. Audiences weren’t necessarily coming to the theater to see the film, but merely as an opportunity to see and consume the star image of Marilyn Monroe. Not only did Monroe contribute directly to a studio’s bottom line, but she also promoted consumption and consumerism in general. In her interviews, and film appearances, Monroe represented capitalism and the importance of spending money as a signifier of success. In these ways, Monroe as a star fits right in with Dyer’s theory of the star as a commodity.

Finally, Dyer has written that stardom can be studied in the context of ideology. Stars can produce and promote ideals that appear throughout the rest of culture as well. In a cyclical fashion, trends in culture contribute to the creation of stars who in turn promote and reinforce those same cultural trends. This is most apparent in Monroe’s status as a sex symbol for Americans. She was a “household name” equated with the idea of sex. Monroe’s star persona as a sex symbol developed alongside the 1950s new ideals regarding sexuality. In the 1950s, sex became much less of a taboo subject. Playboy started publishing, people were willing to talk about sex, and in general sexuality was being embraced. Sex was now considered natural, normalized, and acceptable. Monroe not only adheres to these characteristics but perpetuated them throughout society as well. Her star image–eyes half closed, mouth open, large lips, and lit face–appeared throughout media, further helping to normalize the 1950s sexual revolution. The ideological development and the appearance of Monroe as a star occurred concurrently and perpetuated each other, much as described by Dyer’s theory of stars as ideology.

Marilyn Monroe was quite possible one of the most well-known stars in the history of Hollywood. Her rise to stardom as well as her successful career are indicative of the general phenomenon of stardom as a whole. In perhaps the most tragic paradox of stardom, nearly all of American knew Marilyn Monroe, but very few people knew the “real” non-star version of her. This outcome of the stardom phenomenon is common and perhaps still ongoing. By using a single star such as Monroe as a case study, we can begin examining the entire notion of stardom in general.

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