• 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
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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...
    Jack Solomon
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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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  • From Forums to Facebook

    For a number of years I was an active participant, and moderator, on a hobby forum. I was well aware at the time that the experience of forum participation was quite unlike anything else I had ever encountered, and, f...
    Jack Solomon
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  • My My, Hey Hey: Why Rock-and-Roll Has Had Its Day

    When Neil Young wrote his edgy tribute to rock-and-roll "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)," the genre was hardly dead, nor really approaching it. A new generation of rockers—the punks—were trying to clear ...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Documentaries, Shockumentaries, and Mockumentaries

    With the appearance of Michael Moore's latest foray into the arena of American conflict and controversy, Farenheit ll/9, I find myself contemplating the significance of the documentary form itself in contemporary Amer...
    Jack Solomon
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  • Just Analyze It

    As American popular culture gets more and more entangled in the political divisions that are rending our country, it may appear to be increasingly difficult to teach cultural analysis without risking painful classroom...
    Jack Solomon
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  • It's Not What You Say; It's How You Say It

    Yet another tale of professorial indiscretion on social media making the rounds prompts me to reiterate what I regard as one of the cardinal benefits of the semiotic approach: viz., that it can lead one beyond the obv...
    Jack Solomon
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