#LoveWins

The struggle for marriage equality in the United States has been a long time coming. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) enacted in 1996 prevented gay marriages, even those legal in their home states, from being recognized in other states and as well as from being recognized federally. For example, you could be legally married in California, but move to Tennessee and that marriage would not be recognized, and all of your legal rights as a spouse would be dissolved. DOMA blocked health insurance, pension protections, social security benefits, support and benefits for military spouses, and immigration protections for couples from different nations, among others.  Before 2015, it was up to individual states to rule on whether or not gay marriage was legal. Gay marriage was legal in 38 states plus Guam and the District of Columbia. In thee conservative states of the 38 there were restrictions on recognizing gay marriages.

On June 26, 2015, in a 5-4 vote the United States Supreme Court handed down the decision to make gay marriage legal in all 50 states of the US. They found the laws preventing gay marriage to be discriminatory and the justification for gay marraige, equality, to be a fair argument. Following this ruling, President Obama and the White House tweeted:

The #LoveWins hashtag began to trend immeditaley following President Obama and the White Houses’ tweets, and #LoveWins became a worldwide phenomena. Obviously, being the president of the US, Obama’s tweet and hashtag had the ability to instantly pentetrate the entire world given his several million followers, worldwide fame, and credability as the leader of the free world.  The hashtag along with rainbow colored imagery appeared all over social media sites, advertisements, and on US and forgein streets. Huge brands like Coca Cola even got in on the opportunity to take advantage of this historic moment and promote equality while selling their brand:

Data tracked from the day #LoveWins began to trend shows that at it’s peak the hashtag #LoveWins had 35,000 tweets sent per minute.  As of one day following the ruling, there were 6.2 million tweets related to the passing of the gay marriage ruling.

“To put that in context, 3.5 million tweets mentioning #Ferguson were sent out in less than one day following the jury decision on the Michael Brown case in November 2014. Following the attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, tweets with the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie reached 2.1 million about six hours after the attack.” – International Business Times

#LoveWins was indeed a widely shared and important hashtag to both those in the LGBT community and their allies.

As evidenced above, the hashtag #LoveWins had extreme reach and relevence, due in part to the person with which the hashtag originated, President Barack Obama. It also caught on so quickly because the issue of marriage equality was so important to millions of people all over the world. When a hashtag has credibility and represents an important issue to many, it can gain a lot of traction.

GIRLS

I previously wrote about another one of my favorite HBO TV shows, Big Little Lies, but as the series finale of GIRLS aired last week, I find it appropriate to look back on this influential series.

GIRLS stars writer and creator Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet, and Jemima Kirke as the titular girls of the series.  Like Big Little Lies, the stars of the series are female, but the context and content of the show is much different.  GIRLS premiered in April of 2012 to unignorable buzz, praise, and criticism.  The show follows four caucasian, 20-something girl friends finding their feet in New York City.  Over six seasons, the last of which concluded this month, viewers watched four young women mature, regress, falter, find footing, and continue to mature into the quasi-women they became as the series concluded.

#tbt #throwbackthursday 🐚

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Girls from its beginning was plagued with criticism that sometimes drowned out the roars of acclaim.  When the show first premiered, critics pointed out that every character on the show was caucasian.  This so-called “whitewashing” of the cast was addressed by Dunham, she stated that she was writing her experience in New York City, and she did not feel as she was in the position to write someone else’s experience- the story of someone she was not.  Dunham claimed she wrote what she saw in her world, but recognized the reasoning for the criticism and addressed this by writing in characters of color into later seasons, with purpose.  Dunham often deliberately made social commentary on the use of “token black or asian” characters, showing how self aware the writer really is.

Another topic of discussion for GIRLS was how sex was portrayed on the show.  Rather than glamorized, aesthetically pleasing sex scenes as usually seen on television and in feature films, Dunham preferred gritty, life-like portrayals of sex. For starters, creator Lena Dunham appears nude in almost every episode, with far from the typically Hollywood body type.  Seeing a full-figured woman, confident in her body, from a female perspective, engaging in sex was new for television.  Additionally, sexual consent, masturbation, abortion, and pregnancy were touched on throughout six seasons, always leaving the viewer with a fresh perspective on what they experienced in real life.  In this respect, among others, GIRLS was revolutionary; it made it okay to see what a real woman wants and what real woman looks like.

GIRLS told the story of an particular experience of particular generation, that being the experience of white, upper-middle class millennial women in New York City.  The importance of this show cannot be disregarded; it showed a generation of future writers, directors, and producers a new idea of what is “airable” or TV appropriate.  It showed dysfunctional relationships, sex, drug use, funny women, struggling privileged people, mental illness, and more through the lens of a young person (Dunham) who was learning many of the lessons her characters were learning at the same time.

Thanks for the last six seasons of laughing, crying and feeling all the feels with #Girls.

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Big Little Lies

I am an avid HBO programming subscriber.  Be it Curb Your Enthusiasm, Westworld, Entourage, Sex and the City, The Sopranos, GIRLS; you name it, I have watched it.  I had to download a VPN in order to watch HBO in Spain, and thank God I did because I would be lost without my HBO programming.  I started a new show one night in February when I got bored with only having one show to watch live, Big Little Lies.

The cast is stacked, featuring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodly as the three female leads, and Zoe Kravitz as the main female supporting actress.  The series, adapted from a novel, follows three women living in Monterey, California, a quiet seaside community, and their relationships with their husbands, children, community, and each other unfold before the viewers eyes.  The hook from the first episode is that someone has been killed at a school fundraiser, the school where all the lead’s children attend, and a whodunit will unravel for the rest of the series.  This show, rather then weaving you back and forth from suspect to suspect, lets the story unfold and does not focus to much on discovering who committed the murder, it lets you learn sit back and get to enjoy the characters.

It’s easy to keep quiet when you’re speechless. #HBO #BigLittleLies #SeasonFinale

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Perhaps the most important story line on the show is that of Celeste (Nicole Kidman) and her abusive, but outwardly charming husband Perry (Alexander Skarsgard).  Big Little Lies explores spousal abuse in a way that I have not seen on television before.  It does not glamorize or dramatize abuse in a way that feels unreal.  In fact, Big Little Lies is sometimes difficult to watch because of the accurate, raw depiction of a man who “loves his family” but beats his wife viciously.  It is hard to see this beautiful actress get kicked across her bathroom floor as her children watch TV in the next room, but it is important for people to see what domestic abuse really looks like.  I will try not to spoil the show, but Celeste’s eventual justice is bittersweet, as justice for abused women often is.  This smart, educated depiction of family violence is only one of the aspects that makes this show one of the best pieces of television I have ever watched.

Something else I really love about the show is its soundtrack.  Big Little Lies uses the lead’s children as a device which through to reveal a stunning and broad musical array.  From The Flaming Lips to The Alabama Shakes to Grace Slick, every song is a choice in this piece of theatrical art.  The show does not feature any original composition, rather it compiles songs eclectic and electric enough to prompt me to Google “Big Little Lies” soundtrack immediately after watching the first episode.  Each song is reflective of the show’s content and serves to push the characters and the storyline further, as a TV score should do.

If you haven’t had the chance to tune in, you can stream the seven episode series here.

Podcasting

Podcasting was at first believed to be a short-lived fad that was quickly loosing steam.  The idea behind a podcast was that in daily/weekly/monthly installments a podcaster would release a clip that ranged from storytelling to just brainstorming thoughts on a topic of interest.  Just as podcasts began to lose steam, they were revitalized by the quality and popularity of the podcast crime series Serial.  Premiering in 2014, Serial led the wave for podcasts to gain serious loyal listenership, and become a mainstream trend.  It is estimated that 20% of people aged 20-49 have listened to a podcast in the last month.

For me, I always saw podcasts as something an old person would listen to.  I imagined a grandparent that was not good with technology learning about podcasts and playing them from a desktop computer as they sat and read a book in the living room or cooked in the kitchen.  Then, I had an internship last summer that left me with a lot of free time sitting at my desk.  Eventually, I got tired of listening to music in my headphones, but I was at work so I could not watch videos on my computer.  This is how I ended up listening to my first podcast, “Stuff You Should Know,” by howstuffworks.com.  This podcast, released every few days, covers a different, interesting, niche topic with each installment- currently the last three posts are titled How Breast Implants Work, How Swearing Works, and How Corsets Work.  Each podcast runs 30 minutes to an hour, and provides information on something you should know, as evidenced in the title.  Listening to these at my internship changed my entire perspective on podcasts.  The podcast held my attention a lot more than I expected it to, and I actually found myself looking forward to a new installment.  I even would listen to and from my way to work and when I was bored at home.

My personal podcast today is about my experience abroad and what I have experienced from my first day touching down at the El Prat airport to my final week in Barcelona.  This experience has shaped me in ways I never expected, and am proud of.  Initially I was timid about leaving school and my friends and flying across the world to live in a non-English speaking country for four months.  I was not sure how I would adapt or if I would truly enjoy it.  In this podcast I talk about how far I have come from this frame of mind, and I give my advice for anyone considering studying abroad in the future.

Politics 2.0

The way political information is distributed, the way a politician runs his or her campaign, and the way an election is won have all changed since the dawning of the internet.  While traditional outlets including televised press conferences and town halls were how people interested in politics heard about their potential candidates, now there are a plethora of ways for politicians to reach their constituets, and it is up to those politicians to decide the best way to do so.

Take former president Barack Obama and his 2008 campaign for the presidential seat.  It will go down in history books that Mr. Obama was the first president to win a political election by way of using the web, in addition to traditional, 1.0 methods.  Young voters under age 25 were instrumental in electing this leader, as nearly 70% of registered voted between the ages of 18-25 pulled the level for Obama in 2008.  This is in great part due to this ability to use the web as a tool that young people were literate, and even obsessed with.  The platforms he maintained included  Facebook, Twitter, the MyBarackObama website, Youtube, a blog, and buying online ads rather than only traditional TV and radio spots.

Below is a video used to promote the 2008 election of Barack Obama, it was distributed via Youtube and posted to President Obama’s Twitter and immediately went viral:

The web has also allowed for not only people interested in politics, but those not as involved to become aware of candidates and where they lie on issues important to them.  Rather than having to seek out traditional outlets, which only those with a keen interest in politics would do, the internet as a platform for distributing political information reached American citizen who would have never turned to C-SPAN on their television sets, or PBS on their radios.  In 2008, not only Obama’s message that resonated with youth, but also the ability to research at their finger tips via platforms they were comfortable with, like Twitter, and with just the click of a follow button, ensured Obama would reach more people then a electoral candidate ever had before.

This tweet following the 2012 re-eleciton of President Obama, was the most popular tweet ever at the time of its posting:

I can only imagine that today Obama’s 2008 election strategy is a case study used by people running for all types of office.  Donald Trump has become next politician to really get a handle on social media and the web 2.0 and use it to his advantage, along with traditional outlets.  In fact, Mr. Trump used Twitter pre-election as much as he uses it post-election.  Here is a tweet he posted just yesterday:

Web 2.0 had made Politics 2.0 a reality, and one that can be harnessed to reach the highest office in the land, if used correctly.

 

Ana López from Estrella Damm

Ana López, former head of digital marketing for Estrella Damm, came and spoke with our class today about building a brand in the internet age, digital marketing, and how she lead the way in increasing Estrella Damm’s brand awareness across Spain, and the world, with Spain’s first viral, long-form video.

Ms. López received her bachelor’s degree from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in journalism and social/cultural anthropology.  She went on to receive a masters at ESIC in communication and advertising management, studying traditional media strategies.  Following her schooling, Ana began working in the PR and advertising fields in Barcelona.  Her big break came when a year after joining Estrella Damm as a brand manager, she became the head of digital marketing; in fact, she was the only person on the digital team.  Ms. López started worked from the ground up in 2009, building from scratch all of the beer brand’s social media accounts, including a Youtube channel, Twitter account, Facebook profile, and Instagram feed.

She insisted the brand should be about a lifestyle, not just a target segment.  Instead of reaching women 25-60 in Western Europe who make 50,000+ a year,  Estrella would instead reach people by providing a connection to culture and feeling, the mediterranean lifestyle.  Estrella’s Instagram feed reads like an Instagram influencer’s travel blog

As a team of one, she decided digital was the place Estrella should be investing  time and money, and curated Estrella’s first long-form, Youtube video.  The four minute-long video depicted the essence of the Estrella Damm brand- the mediterranean way of life- which includes music, friendship and culture.  The ad went viral, the first commercial of its kind to do so in Spain, and brand awareness increased over 200% percent immediately following the release of the video.  The commercial’s tune, sung by a relatively unknown Swedish band, became the most downloaded song of the summer in Spain.  The location where the video took place, Formentera, became the most traveled to destination in Spain.  Ana López took a brand with a niche audience in Catalunya worldwide and expanded its popularity in Spain tenfold.  Her early adoption of digital marketing strategies was integral to Estrella Damm achieving a cult following and a broader audience worldwide.  It led not only beer and beverage companies in the online advertising game, but all brands nationwide in Spain.

Ana followed up this successful campaign with another in 2015, starring Dakota Johnson of 50 Shades of Gray.  This 12 minute film titled “Vale”, looks at barriers between two people with very little knowledge of each other’s language and culture.  Estrella is used as the gateway to knowledge and common understanding.  This short film as of today has earned 7 million views and increased Estrella’s brand awareness by another 5% in Spain and 30% in the United Kingdom.  By the time of the release of “Vale”, Ana had 30 people working for her digital marketing, a big boost since the team of one in 2009.

Ms. López and Estrella Damm seized the moment and used a powerful, not widely yet used advertising tool to the advantage of their brand.  Their swift adoption of social media and online strategies truly worked to the advantage of Estrella Damm.

FC Barcelona and Camp Nou

FC Barcelona Crest

The Game

This is the story of  the greatest comeback in soccer history, and how Camp Nou and FC Barcelona came to be.  March 8th, 2017 made history at Camp Nou.   To set the stage, FC Barcelona was involved in a two match tournament game with the French side Paris St. Germain. The two super clubs played their first of two matches on PSG’s home ground and the team from Paris beat the Catalan giants handedly 4 to 0. Barcelona failed that night in Paris. They were outclassed and outworked by a team with objectively a worse coach and worse players. With few positives to take from the game the media and everyone around the world believed that Barcelona was out of the Champions League tournament, the most prestigious competition in club soccer.

This first match loss sparked controversy and anger from the dedicated fans of Barcelona. The outrage and disgust at the team’s performance even lead the manager Luis Enrique to resign.  In order to see out their victory, all PSG would have to do when they traveled to the Catalan city was to not get beaten 5-0 essentially. A relatively easy task for a team of PSG’s caliber to complete. All of sudden it was the big night and no one gave Barcelona a chance as the game was about to begin at the grandest stadium in the world, Camp Nou.

The Team, The Stadium

Let’s rewind for a moment to understand some more about one of the greatest grounds in world soccer and the club that’s played there for 63 years.  Originally named the Estadio del CF Barcelona when the stadium was built in 1957, the club expanded in both popularity and fan base quickly, so the organization needed a more legitimate stadium to accommodate the club’s growth. While the official name was the Estadio del CF Barcelona, the true fans of the club called their ground Camp Nou from the beginning.

Camp Nou Entrance

The official name changed a few decades later to Estadio del FC Barcelona. That name stood until 2000 when the club’s hierarchy decided to make Camp Nou the official name at long last. One of the crowning achievements of both FC Barcelona and Camp Nou was hosting the 1982 World Cup. The premier competition of international football, the World Cup selected Camp Nou to host some group games and one of the semi-finals. The club’s highlights include celebrating everything from Champions league glory, El Classico wins, signings of major players like Ronaldo and Thierry Henry, and numerous league title wins; FC Barcelona fans now create one of the best atmospheres found in modern soccer.

With the history of the club and the history of the stadium intertwined, Camp Nou has become a fortress for the Catalan giants.   The team’s motto, “Més que un club” (More than a club), is fitting given how the Catalonians and all of Spain treats its prized team, like royalty.  Camp Nou and the club represent rebellion to many Catalonians who want to break free of Spain’s shackles and gain independence.  When playing other teams within Spain, it is important to Catalonians to come home with a W, to assert their strength and independence to the country from which they wish to secede

The Fans

Barca fans are loyal, passionate, and prideful, and they do not only exist inside of Spain.  Take Eli, a 20 year old American student studying in Barcelona.  He is an avid soccer player and has even joined a local club while he spends the semester outside the States.  Below, Eli tells us why the club is so important to so many fans in and outside of Catalunya and about the game earlier this month that cemented FC Barcelona’s premier status:

And Once Again, The Game

Back at “the match of the century,” Barca needed a miracle to win, but Camp Nou was their church and anything was possible in their eyes. Many fan bases would retreat in defeat before such a dawning task, but not the Camp Nou faithful. The air was electric in the stadium before the game with fans showing up nearly three hours before the affair to begin their chants and songs. The Barcelona demigod Lionel Messi began the game from kickoff and away they went. Superstars collided on each side. For Barcelona, the star studded cast of MSN (Messi, Suarez, Neymar) and a handful of World Cup winners from Spain went up against the likes of great players like the up and coming Verratti, the storied striker Edinson Cavani, and the former Real Madrid star Angel Di Maria. The game couldn’t have started better for the Barcelona stars with the Uruguayan Luis Suarez putting one in the net inside three minutes.

But then disaster seemed to strike and the fairytale comeback seemed to be over for Barca when Cavani scored in the 62nd. This would mean that Barcelona would have to not just score four or five to hold on, but six goals. Reports say that some players even told the opposition that Cavani’s goal was the end, but if you watched the game you would know their attitude never changed under the lights at Camp Nou.  

At the 88th minute of the game Barca still needed three goals to win, when out of absolutely nowhere the Brazilian wonderkid, Neymar, took over. Scoring a free kick and penalty within three minutes of each other all the Blue and Red needed was one more goal. Neymar was up for the task yet again feeding a beautiful ball to the youngster Sergi Roberto during the dying embers of the game to complete the greatest comeback the soccer world has ever seen in the greatest stadium to ever be played in.