Sunday, 11 May 2014

Post 13 : Outsourcing / Offshoring

          This cartoon takes place in the Cayman Islands, mainly known as it is a tax haven : a country where taxes are set at a very low range, or even don't exist. On the island, we can see Mitt Romney, who ran for president in 2012 against Obama, who actually won. Romney is digging a hole in the sand in order to bury his own treasure, his money, so he doesn't pay any taxes. He is explaining the benefits of outsourcing and off shoring in a very explicit way to a couple of people who are sitting on a boat that has written 'Believin' in America' on it. They seem to be very excited about what Granpa Mitt is telling them, and they say that he should be president. In the background of the cartoon, we can also see two other islands : Bermuda and Switzerland, who are also known as tax havens. This cartoon criticizes in a very ironical way multiple things : how politicians and important figures in the economic background are involved in illegal and scandalous actions concerning money, but also how people are blind and still want them to stay as politicians. 

         This second cartoon shows two business man, as we can imagine, that discuss what they shall do make more benefits. One of them proposes to offshore to another country, and seems scandalized as he explains that the 'folks' wanted more than jobs, which he assures they offered thousands. The other guy asks what they wanted, and he replies 'getting paid'. The other is even more scandalized that the first. The cartoon itself is very simple : the drawing consists on just the two business man, with the text. That's all, but we can imagine that the author wanted us to focus more on the meaning of the cartoon than the pictures. At the bottom, it says : 'Simply explained, Part 10 : offshoring'. The cartoonist intends to explain in a humorous way how the business men deal with things, how they think, and, what is way more scandalous, is the greed that they show all along the cartoon. The benefits of offshoring are also that you can use cheap workers from another country, so you don't pay them as much as your local workers. Nevertheless, it seems that they would like to make them work for free... 

          In conclusion, we can say that these two cartoons have a very similar meaning, the message is quite the same : greed has pushed us into doing things such as offshoring and outsourcing in order to make more benefits, thanks to the cheap working conditions of the workers abroad, and because you don't have to pay the same taxes. These two cartoons can be related to the notion of 'Spaces and exchanges', as they tackle the idea of economical exchanges, and dividing companies, outsourcing them into different spaces throughout the world.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

R.E.M. - Every Day is Yours to Win

               R.E.M. was an American rock band from Athens, Georgia, formed in 1980 by singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry. One of the first popular alternative rock bands, R.E.M. gained early attention because of Buck's ringing, arpeggiated guitar style and Stipe's unclear vocals. R.E.M. released its first single, "Radio Free Europe", in 1981 on the independent record label Hib-Tone. Through some changes in musical style, the band continued its career into the next decade with mixed critical and commercial success, despite having sold over 85 million records worldwide.[4] In 2007, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. R.E.M. disbanded amicably in September 2011, announcing the split on its website.

"Every Day is Yours to Win," is a ballad that sounds like it's from Reveal, but a bizarre alternate universe version of Reveal that's actually enjoyable. Hell, the beatnik poetry meets Patti Smith that is "Blue" has no real equivalent in the band's catalog, and is quite enjoyable because of it.

This song written by R.E.M. is quite a singular one. It is at the same time a really simple song, but that doesn't make it any worse, as it helps to focus properly on the lyrics, which seem to be the central element of the song. The sweet, clean and reverberated arpeggios of the electric guitar mixed with the insistent drums give a bitter-and-sweet-ish (yes, I invented this) sound, making this song unique. The vocals seem to be a little distant (yeah, that famous phone effect), but nevertheless they are very present in the song. The chorus comes in with a one-note distorted guitar riff, and that breaks with the previous fragile verse. Finally, the song fades out with the clean guitar that we heard in the verses. We can definitely say that this song worth listening !

The video clip made for the band is quite singular : it shows some extracts of videos of unknown people doing different things that are not connected with each other. Maybe they represent those heroes that the lyrics mention ('and that's how heroes are made'), but in a way that they are painted as everyday heroes, the standard people. Also, as those videos are obviously made for the Youtube site web, they are trying to get some views, to be known. The song makes references to the time passing ('with the clock, tik tok'), and the fact that nothing is easy in life ('it's not all cherry pie'), but its worth fighting for ('its out there waiting for you'). That can surely be connected to those strangers that had the luck to appear on the official clip of one of the most well-known bands nowadays...