• "Typical Americans"

    Twenty-six years ago, the introduction to the first edition of Signs of Life in the U.S.A. began with an exploration of the place that the Super Bowl holds in American life and culture, noting how "It's more than...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon
  • Handicapping the Oscars: Predictive Analytics Meets the Academy

    As the countdown to the annual Academy Awards ceremony ticks away, I'm seeing more and more articles in the Entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times like this one, whose aim is to predict the outcomes of the vot...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon
  • "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood": Fake History in the Era of Fake News

      Now that the Academy Awards sweepstakes for 2020 is in full cry, with the Golden Globes functioning as a kind of stand-in for the Iowa Caucuses in the tea-leaf-reading business of trying to guess what picture ...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon
  • Janus, Resolutions, and Attendance Policies

    It’s January, and my social media feeds are filled with suggestions for keeping resolutions, especially those related to wellness, healthy eating, and exercise. But I am also finding some pleas for encouragement...
    Miriam Moore
    last modified by Miriam Moore
  • Why Richard Jewell Now?

    In my last blog, I presented a semiotic interpretation explaining how the movie Ford vs. Ferrari reflects a larger cultural signification that goes well beyond the history of Formula 1 racecars and their driver/design...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon
  • Chariots with Tires: or the Semiotics of Ford vs. Ferrari

    By the time of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, America had just concluded a bad decade. Watergate, Kent State, rampant inflation, the abject failure of the Vietnam War, Soviet adventures in Afghanis...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon
  • Angry Birds

    No, this blog is not going to be about that wildly popular video game and movie franchise; it’s about Twitter and some very distinct signs of life in the USA that may be found there in some rather unexpected pla...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon
  • What We're Talking About When We Talk About Cultural Semiotics

    When Sonia and I began working on the first edition of Signs of Life in the U.S.A. in 1992, semiotics was still regarded as a rather obscure scholarly discipline generally associated with literary theory and linguisti...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon
  • It's No Joke: the Cultural Semiotics of Joker

    Hailed as a "must-see" movie for the apres-weekend water cooler crowd, and warily monitored by everyone from local police departments to survivors of the Aurora, Colorado massacre, Joker has surpassed its opening box ...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon
  • The Panopticon 2.0

    Michel Foucault's application of Jeremy Bentham's panoptic proposal for prison reform to the modern surveillance state has become a commonplace of contemporary cultural theory. And heaven knows that we are being watch...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon
  • America's Got Sentiment

    As Sonia Maasik and I work to complete the tenth edition of Signs of Life in the U.S.A., I have been paying special attention to American popular music, which will be a topic for a new chapter that we're adding to the...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon
  • The Sense of an Ending: Popular Teleology and Game of Thrones

    With television's arguably most prominent dramatic series ending amidst the ashes of King's Landing and the outrage of many of its most loyal fans (including a remarkable Change.Org petition demanding an entire Season...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon
  • Tangled Roots Revisited: a Celtic Connection

    Topics for popular cultural analysis can spring out at you at the most unexpected times—in fact, that is one of the goals of cultural semiotics: to attune oneself to the endless array of signs that we encounter ...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon
  • The False Catharsis of Avengers: Endgame

    Now on a record shattering run that should be of no surprise to anyone, Avengers: Endgame offers a multitude of possibilities for writing assignments, ranging from a close reading of the movie itself to an analysis of...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon
  • Warning: Popular Culture May be Hazardous to Your (Mental) Health

    If your Internet browser of choice is Firefox, then you are familiar with the way it provides you with a selection of readings when you visit its home page. I presume that my selections are based upon data-mined algor...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon
  • "Empire of Dirt": The Tangled Roots of Popular Music

      Every now and then, while driving to work, I've turned on the radio and have come in on the middle of a hauntingly beautiful, if rather grim, acoustic song sung by a gravely-voiced singer who seems to be singi...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon
  • When Mythology Meets Reality: The College Admissions Affair

    One of the key principles upon which the semiotic method is based is that of the cultural mythology. Grounded in Roland Barthes’ pioneering study Mythologies, a cultural mythology is an ideologically inflected w...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon
  • The "Momo Challenge"

      When I first started writing about popular cultural semiotics in the 1980s, the Cabbage Patch Kids were the biggest thing going in children’s consumer culture. Not too many years later there was the POGS...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon
  • The Revolution Will Be Televised

    For quite some time now I have been intimating in this blog that entertainment may not be the most effective way of achieving political goals, due to the way that it can distract its audience from the task of actual p...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon
  • The Ghosts of Superbowl LIII

    Twenty-six years ago, almost to the day, I set about rewriting the general introduction to what would become the first edition of Signs of Life in the U.S.A. Seeking something of sufficient magnitude and familiarity t...
    Jack Solomon
    last modified by Jack Solomon