• 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
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  • 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...
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  • 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 ...
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • 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...
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • "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
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  • 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
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  • 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...
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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • Fast Food and Close Shaves: Gillette's "Toxic Masculinity" Campaign

    What with all the hoopla surrounding Gillette's notorious "toxic masculinity" commercial, I feel almost obliged to address it in this blog. The challenge here is to provide a semiotic angle on the ad's significance wi...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Illuminating the Enlightenment: A Semiotic for the Digital Age

    One of the crucial elements in teaching, and performing, popular cultural semiotics is the identification of the larger contexts (or systems of associations and differences) in which particular popular signs may be si...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Pinball Wizards: or the Brave New World of Gamification

    As I've noted before, I once participated in an online forum where the participants quarreled a lot. One of the things they griped about was the way that some members "padded" their post count with lots of very brief ...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Friends

      One of the more interesting recent news items from the world of American popular culture has been the announcement that Netflix, rather than cancelling its streaming reruns of that Gen X TV blockbuster, Friend...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Beyond Addiction: The Cultural Significance of Instagram Daredevils

      You've heard about it before: someone perches on the edge of a rooftop, or a waterfall, or a granite outcropping, to take a vertiginous photo of the drop off, hundreds—perhaps thousands—of feet bel...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Unreal Housewives of American TV

    This post was originally published on December 20, 2012.   One of my students in a popular cultural semiotics seminar recently wrote her term project on the reality television “Real Housewives of .  ....
    Jack Solomon
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