Social Studies

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Are Hologram Tupac and Hologram Freddie Mercury Nostalgia or New Aesthetic? | PBS Idea Channel

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Everyone has heard about the Tupac Hologram that played at Coachella earlier this year. But with Queen's recent announcement of a Hologram Freddie Mercury and TLC's plans for a Hologram Lisa Left Eye Lopes, it looks Hologram pop stars are here to stay - what does this mean for art and technology? At first glance, it might seem like this is just more of the same old nostalgia, but we think these Holo-Popstars represent something much bigger and entirely new. They are the heralds of New Aesthetic, a hotly debated new art movement dedicated to the blending of art and technology. 

Are LOLCats and Internet Memes Art? | PBS Idea Channel

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We've all seen and shared a few LOLCats and Internet Memes in our time, but is it possible that these images and videos are actually a new form of art? It may seem strange, but Rage Guys, Advice Dogs, Trollfaces, and Philosoraptors are ways for people around the globe to express their thoughts, feelings, and emotions with others - and isn't that the core principle of art? We think some of history's greatest philosophers and artists might be inclined to agree.

Are Videogames About Their Mechanics? | PBS Idea Channel

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As we play video games over and over again, we spend a lot of time getting pretty good at the mechanics and gameplay - but at what expense? Each shot fired and potion consumed engrosses us more and more, but does that engrossing nature work against the story, the narrative, and maybe the bigger picture of what the game is (supposedly) about? Do we care more about what we do, instead of what happens? And should the interaction be more important than the message? Watch the episode and tell us what you think!

Is Instagram the Best Thing to Ever Happen to Photography? | PBS Idea Channel

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With its ability to make boring cellphone photos look "vintage" and "artsy", Instagram has exploded worldwide. Derided by its detractors as a tool for making bad photos worse, we take an alternate view and argue that Instagram is the greatest thing ever to happen to photography. Its simple filters and social networking features are training cellphone photographers everywhere to think creatively about their photos. Plus, the app is turning its worldwide user base into an army of photojournalists capturing striking images of the people and events around them. As the old photography adage goes, "The best camera is the one you have with you."

Is Nostalgia the Reason for Adventure Time's Amazing Awesomeness? | PBS Idea Channel

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Adventure Time is an animated kids show on the Cartoon Network that is very popular - not only with kids, but also with full grown adults! Why would serious adults, including Mike's Mom, watch Adventure Time? We think it's because the show taps into our memories of childhood with nostalgia. However, this isn't the "I Love the 90's" kind of nostalgia that we normally talk about! We're talking about Romantic Nostalgia, which is a confusing emotion that mixes happy and sad, creating a powerful mix that hits you right in your gut. It adds emotional depth to an already great kids show.

Is Piracy Helping Game of Thrones? | PBS Idea Channel

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If you're like us, you love watching Game of Thrones, but you may not have cable. In this case, how are we watching this amazing show on HBO, which is stuck behind a pay wall? A huge number of viewers are downloading the show illegally. But, despite being the most pirated show of 2012, the Game of Thrones DVDs are top sellers, breaking HBO's own sales records! Could it be that piracy is actually helping the show? 

Why Were People & Critics So Infatuated With Frozen? | PBS Idea Channel

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There isn't much to say about Frozen that hasn't already been said, so we're going to talk about the fact that so much has been said about Frozen. People love analyzing and critiquing this movie. It has inspired dozens of think-pieces, covering everything from its portrayal of gender roles, to cultural appropriation, to the definition of true love. Frozen, and its complexity, has touched something in viewers. Could it be its morphing of traditional fairy tale tropes?

Hello Kitty, Minimalist Icon? | PBS Idea Channel

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With her cute pink bow and huge noggin, Hello Kitty is one of the most recognizable characters in the world. She sells billions of dollars worth of merchandise, but what is it about this simple cartoon cat that makes her such a beloved piece of pop culture? Ahead of her time when first created in 1974, we think that Hello Kitty used minimalism's bag of tricks to become the world's best salesgirl.

Is a Tagged Instagram More Than Just a Photo? | PBS Idea Channel

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Instagram may be pretty awesome, but it's even more #interesting than you think! The hashtag, so simple and ubiquitous, raises the image from mere photo to a new complex entity. An extension of the social media aspect of the Instagram app, the hashtag enhances searchability and allows a connection to a variety of communities. Some tags can definitely be redundant or even useless, but the right ones can add context, greater meaning to the picture, and chronicle our changing relationship to photography! 

Is Miku Hatsune A More Authentic Pop Star Than Lana Del Rey? | PBS Idea Channel

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Lana Del Rey might be The Girl Who Launched a Thousand Blog Posts, but we think there might be something else really interesting here. How is it that she, a real person, pales in Pop Star Comparison to a computer program? With the rise of Miku Hatsune, a computer generated pop star from Japan, and the recent kerfuffle surrounding Lana Del Rey's album release, we take a look at what it means to be authentic in today's music world. Is Miku Hatsune, a piece of software, more authentic than human being Lana Del Rey? 

Is Over The Garden Wall About Having Faith? | PBS Idea Channel

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Our viewers really enjoy the Over the Garden Wall series on Cartoon Network, as indicated by all the comments and tweets. We do too! Wirt and Greg's journey to find their way home through The Unknown makes for not just a great show, but a great exploration into the idea of faith in the face of fear. The show and its two central characters seem to perfectly illustrate cynicism and optimism. So what can we learn from the brothers, as well as Beatrice and their frog, about faith and facing the impossible?

Is The LEGO Movie Anti-Copyright? | PBS Idea Channel

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"Everything is awesome" in the LEGO' movie, except when "Lord Business" gets in the way and wants to control everything and to stifle creativity! Emmet, Wyldstyle, Batman, and others in the movie seem completely opposed to the imposition of any sort of structure that dictates what will be built and how. To us at Idea Channel, this sounds very similar to discussions around copyright law and intellectual property (IP). Are master builders just artists who make good use of the public domain? Can the LEGO movie advocate for open culture even if LEGO itself is historically opposed to it? 

Is BMO From Adventure Time Expressive of Feminism? | PBS Idea Channel

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BMO from the show Adventure Time identifies as both male and female, and because of that expresses the ideals of Third Wave Feminism. Third Wave Feminism questions if gender is actually binary, tied to our biological sex. Is our understanding of masculinity and femininity fair, or even accurate? Of course, BMO has no biological gender, so there's no cultural expectations that anchors her (him?) down. It all seems to be a non-issue in the Adventure Time world. What do you think, is BMO male or female? Or does it even matter? 

How Does Steven Universe Expand Our Ideas of Family? | PBS Idea Channel

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We love Steven Universe, but what makes it so great? Is it more than just a story of mismatched characters trying to save the world? Could Steven Universe really be about family and how it's impossible to define it universally? What else, or who else, can we call family? Are fandoms family? Can things be family? 

How is Seeing Enders Game a Political Action? | PBS Idea Channel

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The science fiction novel Ender's Game has been a part of the sci-fi canon for the past 30+ years and with its huge new blockbuster movie release, it's bigger than ever. But its author, Orson Scott Card, has inspired more debate than the novel itself. Card has been labeled homophobic, racist, and a handful of other distasteful things, and the opinions held by Card have created a great deal of anger and opposition. Now that Ender's Game has been made into a movie, this leads to a big question: should you see it? Does buying a ticket to a film equal an endorsement of the creator's ideas? Or, should you join the bandwagon of boycotts against the film? Should you avoid it based on your moral beliefs? 

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