6 Opinion

We’re in on the joke of Portlandia Letters to
Staff Writer

The Pioneer Log, February 4, 2011

Everyone can use a healthy dose of self-deprecation once in a while and the citizens of Portland are no exception. Portlandia uses comedic hyperbole in true Saturday Night Live fashion, turning the eccentricities and anomalies of our city into extremes that we should de nitely get a kick out of. Complaints that the show depicts progressive projects or philosophies negatively are completely ignoring the fact that the show is clearly a comedy. e genre of a program determines how it should be received; these complaints might be legitimate if this were a drama or a documentary that depicted Portland as full of crazy, tree-hugging, dirt-worshipping, ILLUSTRATION BY KATE OWENS blocky-glasses-wearing, food-sustainability-obsessed, feminist hippies/hipsters. But no, this is a comedy in which the audience is invited to laugh at Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein making fools of themselves by acting as extreme stereotypes. is is a comedic strategy employed by Saturday Night Live all the

time; when they use racial or political stereotypes, nobody even considers that it might represent reality because it is obviously a joke. Portlandia is just initiating a new wave of parody by using progressive stereotypes. If anything, this show is a blessing for the city of Portland. It is the only show I know of that is actually set in Portland, it uses locals in supporting roles, it produces revenue for local venues by lming in them and I imagine it might actually increase tourism. No, Portlandia does not o er a comprehensive depiction of Portland. We, like any city, are in possession of far more complexity than any show could ever capture. But I doubt that most viewers determine their opinions of a city based on a comedy about it. And while we can laugh at the absurd extremes, I think that there are a lot of people out there that respect and appreciate the philosophies and lifestyles that Portlandia parodies. So instead of being self-righteous and o ended, let’s enjoy Portlandia. We can laugh at Armisen and Brownstein in the way only a local can: we are in on the inside joke.

the Editor
Bookstore rental prices are competitive I was disappointed to read the opinion piece criticizing the bookstore’s new textbook rental program, written by Tyler Rizzo for the Jan. 28 Pioneer Log. Rizzo claimed Contextualizing Aesthetics was available to rent for $50 from the bookstore and $30 at CampusBookRentals.com. is is simply not the case. Based on a price comparison done on January 31, Contextualizing Aesthetics was available for rent from CampusBookRentals.com for $101.40. Contextualizing Aesthetics was not o ered for rent through the LC textbook rental program this semester, but sold competitively, used for $103.25. While the savings of that $1.85 may look good at rst glance, the convenience of purchasing the book in the LC bookstore or through its website as early as Dec. 11 with the option for selling it at the end of the semester at buyback certainly meets or beats that equation. In other cases, we beat the rental prices at both CampusBookRentals.com and Chegg.com. Feminist Frontiers, required for GEND 200, retails for $92.35 new and $69.25 used. While both companies can beat our new rental price, our used rental price beats CampusBookRentals.com by $16.04 and Chegg.com by $3.35—both new and used were available here in the store. We are proud to report that during the rst two months of our textbook rental program we rented 1,063 books to 529 students, both in-store and online. Our list of available books includes over 390 titles from across the disciplines, including the graduate school. We will continue to strive to provide competitively priced textbook options to Lewis & Clark students and hope you give us a try. Heather Gillespie Textbook Buyer, Bookstore Facebook can enrich our lives Last week in the Pioneer Log an article entitled “Facebook’s Unintended Consequences” by Adrian Guerrero o ered a fair and accurate analysis of what the social networking site may be doing to our lives. Guerrero poignantly showed how Facebook might be “the perfect symbol of the postmodern relationship.” Facebook, Guerrero claims, “separates active life from the physical body,” moving us ever closer to losing “the real touch, sight, smell and sound of human interaction.” While it is fair to say that most people (myself included) spend far too much time living in a “digital life,” Guerrero has overlooked the components of Facebook that are speci cally designed to enrich our physical lives. Namely, Facebook o ers the features “groups” and “events.” It is easy, at rst, to dismiss these features as asinine constructions created to keep us entrenched in the digital world, but a second look shows that these features should not be so readily dismissed. “Groups” and “events” o er users the power to instantaneously inform literally hundreds of people with not only a description of an event, but also its exact date and time. In a free, highly organized manner, Facebook has given all people, regardless of wealth, race and creed, the core purpose of the Internet: the ability to share information instantly, easily and cheaply. is fundamental purpose should not be taken lightly, even if, more often than not, it is used for light purposes. e recent protests in Egypt o er an excellent example of this. In an article in e New York Times the author Mansoura Ez-Eldin explains how Facebook and Twitter literally created a date for the beginning of the Egyptian revolution—January 25th. Ez-Eldin says that she was apprehensive about the group, at rst wondering if a revolution could be “ignited on a pre-planned date.” But she says, “In the blink of an eye, the Twitter and Facebook generation had successfully rallied hundreds of thousands to their cause across the nation.” Here is the power of Internet networking. Perhaps the revolution in Egypt would have occurred without it, but would it have arrived as quickly, and with as many people involved, without Facebook? e moral of the story is this: yes, Facebook is a time suck, and there is a dangerous potential of it overthrowing our own physical lives; however, if used correctly, Facebook can enrich our physical lives, and even change the world. Sam Smith CAS Student Class of 2013


Restriction or incentive for creativity?
One student weighs in on the thesis topic limitations for History majors.
Staff Writer

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Restrictions may not be freeing, but they do foster creativity, which should be the goal of History majors writing their theses this spring. History majors are required to choose a thesis topic that falls within their seminar professor’s primary eld of study. is limits students to a speci c geographic region that they may not have studied or that may not interest them. is policy may seem to pigeonhole students wanting to choose their nal paper topic, but it actually provides a last chance to prove one’s cleverness. It is better to think of the History major’s dilemma not as limiting their topic choice, but as a choice of whatever topic pleases them, with the caveat that their professor can provide adequate guidance based on their professional training. Lewis & Clark, like any school, cannot accommodate every student’s individual interests in the classroom; time is much better spent banding together to learn as a community. Seminar would not facilitate helpful or engaging conversation if each student focused on a di erent corner of the world. By studying a topic within the professor’s area of expertise, majors bene t from the professor’s knowledge of important works and from the research and conversation of their colleagues. e kneejerk reaction is to either cringe or revolt when a person or institution infringes upon one’s freedom; but in the case of the history department’s restriction of thesis topics, it provides an opportunity for students to use their creativity to get what they want.

The Pioneer Log accepts and encourages letters to the editor from all students, staff, faculty and community members. Submissions should be kept under 350 words and sent to piolog@lclark.edu by Monday at 6 p.m. for the following issue.

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