Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Portfolio: Cover Letter/Intro

Shaunt Sulahian
May 15, 2012
English 114B
Professor Dinsmore
                                                            Farewell 114B

            This semester opened my mind to several topics and issues not only in my English 114B class, but in all my classes in its own separate ways. All in all I would think my English courses were the most productive in my freshman year at CSUN. I say this because of the in depth analyses of all the texts we read made me overthink and see different concepts with a new set of eyes. For example, I would say that my mindset has strengthened in terms of being even more proud of my culture then I already was after reading a book like “Persepolis”, which definitely emphasizes that point. “As Nature Made Him”, also made me question the ideals of nature vs. nurture which again stretched the boundaries of my mindset and made me overthink certain thoughts that I would never consider to ponder. Aside from our readings, we were also required to write several essays. I believe that this English course and these essays significantly improved my writing skills and definitely prepared me for any other writing class that I desire to take at CSUN. I am a more confident writer and am able to express my thoughts more clearly when it comes to writing.
I was highly interested in the film “Gamer”, which was shown to us in class. Therefore, I chose to write an analysis of “Gamer”, and to think about the morals of America’s prison system that was depicted in the film. It was intriguing to see what would become of America if they accepted those types of disturbing morals. “Gamer” truly had encompassed a dark element which made its audience fearful of such an occurrence. It’s this element that somehow shapes the film into a dystopian universe which makes it a fascinating analysis.
For Project Space, I expressed my views on the current state of heavy metal and how individuals interact at heavy metal concerts. I also give my take on the current state of music in general and tried to justify why certain individuals want to listen to a specific genre of music more than another. I do in fact have an interest in being a professional columnist for several heavy metal music magazines. Therefore, writing about this subject not only helps me acquire more knowledge with research, but helps me grow as a writer. This class helped me understand the proper ways on how to write a research paper and will surely help me in the long run for upcoming semesters.
Conclusively, I have had a tremendous experience in 114B. Both semesters of this English course tested the limits of my mind and made me work to achieve certain answers with a deeper understanding of life. The lively debates in the classroom had a positive impact for both my peers and me. The professors encouraging attitude also made the mornings more enjoyable. I will surely recommend this course to all freshmen who desire to take a writing course.

Portfolio: Essay #1

Shaunt Sulahian
May 16, 2012
English 114B
Professor Dinsmore
                                              The Prison System in “Gamer”

In “Gamer”, the film follows a corrupt individual changing and revolutionizing the way society looks at video gaming. Castle, an extremely wealthy madman enjoys his riches while bringing down society and individuals making them into his mindless puppets. To explore “Gamer’s” society, we have to first take into consideration society’s involvement in their virtual worlds. Individuals are immersed in their second lives as society changes drastically into somewhat of a dystopia. Humanz is an organization created to stop these changes, and their legacy lives on with the help of the main character Kable.  Death row inmates in the film have an option of literally living in a virtual world and being controlled by people around the planet in a gruesome death match called Slayers. This is a worldwide phenomenon and is considered to be morally correct with the people of Earth. Kable is a part of this game as he is forced and tricked by Castle into becoming a prisoner that is watched by millions. Society and the prison system are obviously corrupt in this world. Although these seem to be gruesome and disturbing points, the issue of having death row inmates participate in these games is disputable regarding its matters on morality.
Prisoners who are death row inmates are the worst of the worst. They are on the line for Capital Punishment, or in other words the Death Penalty for acts which include murder, rape, and other forbidding adultery. I would like to look more into this disputable question as I feel as if “Gamer”, acts as a commentary and tries to warn its viewers. The film tries to caution its viewers of not just how we treat our prisoners today, but what will become of society in America if we do not take a different approach to how we go about using our technology in such ways where it is not abused. It also shows the viewers on what could happen if people take the word of manipulative individuals and use their teachings as the way of the world. I am in favor in regards to Capital Punishment because of the fact that there are just some sociopathic and mentally corrupted individuals that should not walk amongst the Earth with other human beings. Having said this, I would like to add another point regarding death row inmates being a part of “Slayer”. It is true that inmates on death row have nothing to live for in terms of the heinous crimes they have committed, but having them controlled like puppets by society is not only disgusting but it shows that society quickly gives in to inclinations made by certain “powerful” figures. Society is disregarding the fact if it is appropriate or fitting for human beings to experience and be a part of such brutality.
Humans have a difficulty thinking independently. I say this with no sources but with knowledge of historical events. If one takes WWII into consideration, and thinks about the motives of Adolf Hitler, what made Germany justify his actions? It is true that individuals living in Nazi Germany did not have a say regarding whom they could elect for office, but it is absurd on all levels when people get attached to these inclinations and start believing the word of these so called “powerful” figures. Although this film is more focused on America, and its prison system, "Gamer" warns its viewers not too get caught up in such irrationality and to think logically. While thinking logically, one cannot justify the actions of Castle in this film. When one disagrees with why prisoners should not be given the option to be controlled in this game, or to play this game in general, they should take obvious factors of corruption in society into consideration. When individuals are exposed to such violence in their lives, it is accepted as normality in their minds to perceive violence in everyday life. There is a reason why movies and video games have a rating system, but considering the extreme brutal aspect, even “Slayer” won’t be fit with a rating system. If this game was to be accepted in our society, corruption would flood the United States of America. Most violent crimes would be accepted into our everyday lives and society would have an extreme reaction to this game. It disgusts me to say that people would indeed play this game if it was accepted in our society. This is why technology should not be abused early on in our lifetimes, to avoid these “controversial” decisions on if it is morally lawful to have a game like “Slayer” accepted into our society.
                Watching death occur in a live telecast or a television is wrong at all costs. This would be a devastating act and murder would be more common in our society. Horror would overcome this world and the beauty and innocence would perish. We as humans need to be vigilant and wise in our choices and take precautions to all new technological developments. This is basically the same as thinking before an individual speaks accept that the world advances quickly, so we need to think twice as much before we act. America has enough issues, and violence should definitely not become the leading factor of the problems that surround our society. In my eyes, this film taps into a fear of social decline, and individuals dehumanizing each other. While this film serves as great entertainment, the thought of this unfolding into a reality is haunting. This film is indeed a social commentary and we should make aware of its signs. “Gamer” does an excellent job of painting these haunting images in your mind. The viewers are put in a sense of fear and apprehension after watching this film, and some individuals like me, try to justify the actions of the characters in this film by overthinking the scenarios in my mind. Therefore, I enjoy writing about this topic just because of the fact that I would like to urge individuals to think logically and not too get caught up in the trends and inclinations of society. If something like this ever occurs in our world, we should have the decency and power to be able to put an end to it. Unity is a powerful force that should not be ignored especially during difficult times. Gamer as a piece of fiction does include elements of satire. For example, naming the main character Kable while he is watched by millions as he plays through “Slayer” pokes fun at society as this is one of the few signs Gamer utilizes to send a message to its audience.
Conclusively, this film shows its audience what could happen to our society if we indulge ourselves into a corrupt technological world with no morals. It’s an excellent wake up call for not only heavy gamers but society itself. I would recommend it to viewers of all ages to watch this film and pay close attention to what type of message “Gamer” is trying to convey.

Portfolio: Essay # 2

Shaunt Sulahian
May 16, 2012
English 114B
Professor Dinsmore
                                                The Art of Heavy Metal

Heavy Metal constantly influences identity along with many generations of music lovers. The genre creates a certain atmosphere for individuals who listen to heavy metal not only at rock shows, but in their own personal settings. This topic is dear to me because I am not only in a heavy metal band, but also a more Alternative-Latin oriented group. Both groups attract a totally and undeniably different crowd and vibe, and it’s intriguing to see why that is. I am a fan of all genres of music ranging from classical to death metal and even electronica. Although I appreciate many genres of music, heavy metal is definitely my heart and soul. Therefore, I am always enlightened to be able to spread my views regarding this topic.  
Being involved with music at an early age has taught me that music has constantly evolved over the decades, each with carrying out certain trends that tend to die out quickly. Nevertheless, heavy metal is one massive genre that has obviously evolved, but has not died out. It is still considered to be shocking and still gives individuals of all ages the much needed rush in their lackluster lives. Heavy Metal can be such an enormous presence in one’s life and can truly act as a soulful manifestation. Beginning with the true Godfathers of heavy metal, Black Sabbath have shaped all that is metal over time. With the influence of Sabbath, metal has become a culture and a way of life to most individuals who are involved with heavy music in general.  For example, later front-man of Sabbath, Ronnie James Dio, began popularizing the metal horns which is a worldwide famed hand gesture used at heavy metal concerts(Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame). Metal creates this powerful sense of unity amongst its listeners. One does not simply pull up the metal horns at a Coldplay show. 
This “culture” has its own rules and regulations that individuals will make an effort to learn because they adore the genre. One must be weary if he or she does not know how to act and behave at a metal show. Some situations might even possibly get out of hand if an individual does not have any knowledge of how massive hordes of people behave at these shows. For example, besides the metal horns there are acts like head-banging and moshing which can potentially become dangerous if one does not know how to act accordingly. I speak from experience when I say that straining your neck is the least of your worries.
Head-banging began in 1968 at a Led Zeppelin concert and it has since evolved into different styles. It is widely known and accepted in the metal community, even though most individuals are unaware of its potential dangers. Although it does not serve has a huge health risk, head-banging often can lead to a stroke. It is a common art for individuals at a metal show as well as in their bedroom (Hendrick). Moshing however, is a way more extreme type of art in the world of heavy metal.
A mosh pit by definition is an area at the front of the stage at a rock concert where individuals dance in a violent and frantic manner. Over time, the controversy regarding moshing has amplified and continues to do so. The violent forms of expression have resulted in a few deaths over a period of several decades, but individuals blatantly state that they are not trying to hurt each other while participating in a pit.
Some even follow a certain form of etiquette while in a mosh pit. Examples of this would be that if a mosh pit is flowing in a clock words motion, you must do the same. If an individual goes against the flow of the pit then he or she is more likely to be severely injured. Also, one should wear the right gear. Heavy clothing is a necessity if one does not want excessive bruising the morning after. The more common rules would obviously be to help an individual if he or she is lying on the floor, and not physically force or throw anyone into the pit.
Nevertheless, mosh pits are huge a form of expression along with head-banging in regards to the heavy metal culture. During many instances, artists will emphasize from the stage to start a pit to keep the energy of the show alive. However, they will also stress about the dangers and will caution the audience to help anyone who has fallen down. These attributes can give one the idea of what the environment at a rock show would look like. No matter how extreme these acts might get, fans of the genre will continue participating in these actions because they are energetic and passionate individuals that not only understand the vibe of a metal show but actually crave this active form of expression (Safeconcerts).
As I stated before, metal creates a unity amongst its listeners which is very much emphasized in present times. If one considers America’s top 40 when it comes to radio stations, one might realize that heavy metal is a dying art. It breaks my heart to say that it is an awkward time for metal & rock n roll as electronic music along with hip hop has for the most part taken over radio stations (Robinson). I believe it is because of this reason that fans and listeners to heavy metal around the globe unite when they see that another individual shares there taste in music. For example, I have encountered multiple instances of seeing an individual wearing a band t shirt, and I would approach them and begin a conversation regarding the band. I am also often approached in similar situations.
In my mind, heavy metal is so under the radar that I begin comparing these situations in my personal everyday life. For example, my ethnicity even relates to this type of unity when I describe the bond that heavy metal brings up between two individuals. Being an Armenian that lives in Los Angeles, I find the same sense of unity when I come across another who is simply walking across the street and gives me a nod of approval for being Armenian or vice/versa, listening to metal. At least this is how I interpret the unity amongst metal fans in this day and age. It also does not help that MTV has completely shut off all that is heavy metal and rock n roll. I might even go as far as to say that it has stopped being involved with music which is extremely unfortunate being as it was a huge contender for the genres to strive amongst its listeners and newly formed bands to develop a solid reliable fan base. With television and radio lacking in their support of heavy metal or rock music in general, it is obvious that the genre is in somewhat of a hole. With little exposure to the masses, individuals do not get the full effect of this genre of music. Only the ones passionate about the genre will go and put in the effort to dig up music from their favorite artists.
 Other forms of music get more attention because of today’s market and trends (Sulahian). Electronic music is heavily marketed and is in its prime while it draws huge crowds to electronic music/light shows called raves. I would like to stress the fact that media puts more attention on simplistic forms of music, such as electronica, to get the audience’s attention. Pop culture is often related to these types of music because simplistic minds frequently go hand in hand. Because of this, the audience is more inclined to listen to what celebrities listen to, just like how they want to wear, eat, and basically do what the celebrities want to do. Therefore, it is my duty as an avid heavy metal fan and songwriter to use my talents to do everything to break this sickening cycle of events, and bring back the likes of rock n roll and heavy metal to the masses.
Conclusively, I myself might be a head-banger and an occasional mosher, but nevertheless I am proud of it. I wrote this essay based on both research and a majority of life experiences. Listening to metal daily is almost a necessity for my state of being, and because of its impact on my life, I will make an endless effort for the genre to grow and prosper with my music.

                                Works Cited
Sulahian, Rouben. Interview with Shaunt Sulahian. 29  Apr. 2011.
“Black Sabbath Biography”. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. 2010. Web. 29 Apr. 2012.
Safeconcerts. “Crowd Surfing & Moshing”. Safeconcerts. 2008. Web. 29 Apr. 2012
Robinson, Peter. “Is Rock ‘N Roll finally dead?” The Guardian. 2011. Web. 29 Apr. 2012
Hendrick, Bill. Metal Health: “Headbanging Hurts”. CBS News HealthWatch
                2008. Web. 29 Apr. 2012.