Category: Lifestyle

Why that cereal mascot is eyeing you

By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer
@jacobca1995

Yes, those cereal mascots are looking at you./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Mroach

Yes, those cereal mascots are looking at you./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Mroach

A new study conducted by Cornell University proves that the placement and presentation of cereal intended for youth in grocery stores can affect product sales. According to the researchers, whether or not a child is enticed by a particular cereal is dependent on the orientation of the brand’s mascot.

Walking into a store, it’s easy to see that children’s cereal is placed on lower shelves than the adult’s. This makes sense, as the companies attempt to appeal to a younger, shorter demographic.

But the most interesting aspect of the study places focus on the angle of a mascot’s eyes on a kid’s cereal box.

The study explains that 57 of the 86 different mascots observed possessed a downward gaze of 9.67 degrees. The effect of this particular angle leads to the characters making direct eye contact with passing children.

Using this information, the researchers asked 63 people which of two boxes of cereal they would buy, one with the mascot staring straight ahead and the other with it looking down with the trademark angle. They discovered that the trust in a particular cereal is 16 percent higher if the mascot is looking down and making eye contact.

What to do with this discovery is a bit of a mystery. The study concludes by stating that if companies want to improve sales for healthy kid’s cereals, then those companies should make sure that the characters on those cereal boxes are engaging in a staring contest with potential buyers.

This isn’t out of the question, but the results of the experiment appear too slight to be taken seriously. After all, only 63 people were surveyed, and the results indicate that there was only a 16 percent increase in buyer trust. It looks like the correlation in this study is fleeting at best.

Besides, children are most heavily attracted to the sweetest of cereals. Therefore, even if kids are able to make eye contact with the jaunty sun-mascot on the Raisin Bran box, I am still inclined to think that they will lead themselves to more sugary pastures.

Indeed, the only success I can find in this study is that next time I walk down the breakfast aisle in CVS, I won’t be able to shake the feeling that I’m being watched.

The double standard against women in the media

By Robin Ngai, Staff Writer
@bluebird1278

On Thursday, Hillary Clinton spoke at the Women in the World conference in New York. There, she boldly stated that there is a double standard for women which is created by the media. Clinton claimed that the media should be more aware of how they present women in the media, and despite the progress women have made, this double standard still exists.

Clinton’s statement can surely be backed up with reliable evidence. Recently, the Women’s Media Center released their annual report on women and their impact on the media. Time collected the nine most depressing facts from the study, and it shows that Clinton’s claims are right.

Just a couple standout facts is that women are barely represented in newsrooms (in fact it’s gotten even worse over time) and women have had fewer speaking roles in movies in 2012 than any other year since 2007.

I find this is absolutely absurd.

It concerns me to see that women are being so misrepresented in the media. The media controls what information the public has access to and shapes their views, and to have these views be dominated by one race and gender is highly detrimental to society. As a society we need to strive to have a more equal representation and the first step to do so is to change the way media perceives and treats women. We need to have more women in advertising, television, film, and news. We must see the change in order to make it.

I understand that women have made great strides in the past few decades. There are many things to be celebrated, but there is still much to be worked on. The Representation Project produced a video titled, “How the Media Failed Women in 2013,” which documents a few great moments for women in the media. It echoes the fact that there isn’t enough progress being made.

There is no quick way to fix this problem. Instead, we must strive to have the media incorporate women in a positive light in order for this double standard to slowly recede and hopefully one day, no longer exist.

Check out the Representation Project’s video below:

Wil Wheton makes little kid’s day by being a nerd

By Kyra Louie, Staff Writer
@beammeupkyra

When we were little, we could name all 151 original Pokemon without fail, and cast a plethora of spells (for those who aren’t muggles). Today, we gawk excitedly about “Doctor Who,” anime and comics, among other things. That’s right. We are nerds.

At Denver Comic Con last year, Wil Wheaton, best known for his role of Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation, was asked by 7-year-old Mia how to deal with being called a nerd.

It’s unfortunate that it has taken a full year for this video to go viral, but it’s a good thing that it did, because Wheaton’s response is absolutely wonderful.

“When a person makes fun of you, when a person is cruel to you, it has nothing to do with you. It’s not about what you said. It’s not about what you did. It’s not about what you love. It’s about them feeling bad about themselves.” Wheaton said.

He continued the analogy by comparing the way another person loves tether-ball is the same intense way  that nerds love “Doctor Who”.

A few days ago Mia’s mother told Reddit that her daughter took Wheaton’s message to heart, and has made amends with the bully and has gone so far as to protect other children who are bullied.

John Green, a famous author and YouTube personality made a few videos on nerds back in the day, and he makes the clear distinction that being called a nerd isn’t a bad thing.

“Nerds are allowed to love stuff. Like jump-up-and-down-in-your-chair love it. When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is, ‘You like stuff,’ which is just not a good insult at all,” concludes Green.

Nerds come in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. Two people can nerd out about the football game last night, and two people could also nerd out about the “Sherlock” season finale. In fact, being a nerd is so great that there is a show about being the biggest nerd.

Nerds are also some of the most passionate people I’ve ever met. All of my friends here at Boston University are nerds. Whether it’s their favorite band, or a TV series, every person has something that they love, and love to express their love for it. This is coming from the woman who received a Star Trek science officer onesie for her birthday this year.

Trust me, it’s not so bad to be a nerd. In fact, it’s pretty cool.

Coat hanger necklaces spark criticism without the whole picture

By Robin Ngai, Staff Writer @bluebird1278

Coat-hanger necklaces cause some to re-evaluate the meaning of feminism./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Kate Ausburn

Coat-hanger necklaces cause some to re-evaluate the meaning of feminism./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Kate Ausburn

Earlier in the week, Sara Ryan, a fellow Freep writer posted her opinion about Planned Parenthood and protesters. A few days later, the subject was brought to the media’s attention once again when people realized that the DC Abortion Fund was giving out necklaces.

But these weren’t just any ordinary necklaces, they were necklaces with miniature coat hangers attached to them. And the necklaces were given out to those who donated to the fund in order to support women who could not afford to pay for an abortion.

This caused an uproar within the conservative and anti-abortion community. People began to attack the DC Abortion Fund and those who donated.

Now, before I go any further, I’d like to state my opinion real quick. Personally, I am pro-choice. This does not mean I put down those who aren’t, it is just my own personal opinion. You have a right to your choice and your opinion, as do I.

With that being said, I feel as if people targeted those who wore the necklaces as being “feminists”, thus giving feminists a negative connotation. I don’t believe that it’s fair that women who support this cause are being labeled as bad feminists.

Aren’t feminists supporters of equal rights for all sexes? So, to be a true feminist, shouldn’t one allow for different opinions to be available?

Abortion has and always will be a touchy subject among people, but they are also a choice that women make for themselves. We should not limit their freedom or punish them by calling them names or anti-feminists.

The DC Abortion Fund is set up for women to safely have abortions and not practice dangerous methods instead. As stated on their website, the coat hanger necklaces represent the mistakes of the past. It represents the suffering of women in the past, and those who still suffer today due to a lack of resources— resources that the DC Abortion Fund now tries to provide to women.

Can lyrics predict a song’s popularity?

By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer
@jacobca1995

Can you predict the top 100?/ Snapshot of iTunes site taken on March 27, 2014

Can you predict the top 100?/ Screenshot of iTunes site taken on March 27, 2014

Researchers at North Carolina State University conducted a study that highlights how a song’s lyrical theme can be a predictor of its potential popularity.

The study analyzes the most popular themes in number one songs on Billboard’s “Hot 100” over the last several decades. Based on its findings, it would appear that today’s music is best represented by the words “inspiration,” “pain” and “desperation.”

Of course, if you consider how nearly every current song involves a breakup, this revelation is hardly surprising.

In fact, the more I read into this study, the more I realize how useless it would be for a songwriter or music producer. Even if they tried to use the themes, the researchers can only predict with 73.4 percent accuracy that a new song will make its way onto the “Hot 100″ list.

But don’t underestimate songwriters — there is still a large amount of creativity required in order to craft lyrics that a majority of people would find meaningful. Not to mention that there are countless people who listen to songs solely for the rhythm of the music and not so much for the words.

Personally, I am far more interested in witnessing the evolution of music since the 1960s. Fifty years ago, everyone was writing songs to the tune of nostalgia and rebellion, which led into a time of loss and confusion in the 1980s. And now all people want to hear about is how to ease the pain of their desperation with inspiration.

So, what does that mean for the condition of our country’s culture? Apparently we are in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction and constantly want more from life. How cheery!

In the end, I’m not sure exactly what to take away from the study. As mentioned, I doubt a struggling songwriter would find much use for it due to the broadness of the analysis. But I do think that the study provides a wonderful snapshot of music culture over time. It also illustrates that, despite shifts in genre and form, the music that most people connect with has remained the same.

Why upcoming Pixar movies may not be ‘incredible’

By Katrina Uy, Staff Writer
@katreenz

Did Pixar sell out?/ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Theodore Lee

Did Pixar sell out?/ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Theodore Lee

Last week, news broke out that after more than a decade of fans begging for a sequel, Disney/Pixar decided to give the green light to The Incredibles 2, as well as a third installation of the Cars franchise. For parents of young children and maybe even for fans of Pixar, this may seem like fantastic news. But for me, not so much.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney/Pixar as much as the next person. I vividly remember first falling in love with A Bug’s Life when I was six years old. I would constantly watch it on VHS in our living room, even the short with the old man that played chess by himself in the park before the actual movie began. Years later, my dad took me and my younger brother to watch The Incredibles in theaters, and I remember my brother and I clutching our sides in tears when Mr. Incredible tried to squeeze through the conveyor belt but kept bouncing out because of all the weight he’d gained in his years off from fighting crime.

As I got older, I felt a newfound respect for all of Pixar’s original films, more so than its parent company, Walt Disney Studios.

The way I saw it, Pixar was gutsy and clever enough to create smart, witty films that were, yes, targeted for kids, but enjoyable enough for the whole family. But then Cars came out in 2006 and I think we can agree it all went downhill from there (I mean, really, Planes?).

News of the upcoming sequels to Pixar’s critically acclaimed films from the 2000s are just two among many of the studio’s line-up for the next couple of years. They now join the ranks of the most recent Pixar flick, Monsters University, a prequel to Monsters, Inc. (2001) that was released just last summer.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think all of these sequels to Pixar’s beloved original films are necessary. What’s wrong with leaving perfectly good movies untouched and leaving what happens after the closing credits up to the imagination of the audience?

You could definitely argue that the company is clearly trying to target our generation with all of these sequels. We grew up with Andy from Toy Story, who goes off to college just as our generation is leaving for college.

While I will admit that I caved and went to see Toy Story 3 in theaters, and will definitely do the same for The Incredibles 2, I just wish that Pixar would stick to its roots and focus on creating more original and innovative stories for its audiences.

The studio announced in September 2013 that their lineup for the next few years will alternate between sequels and original films, starting with The Good Dinosaur and Inside Out in 2015, followed by Finding Dory in 2016, and many other untitled projects in the works right now, including an untitled project on El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), also scheduled for release in 2016.

Spotlight: BU Snaps: The Next Big Thing?

By Stacy Schoonover, Staff Writer
@stacyscootover

PHOTO VIA BU Snaps Facebook page

Will BU Snaps be the next big thing?/ PHOTO VIA BU Snaps Facebook page

First we had BU Crushes and BU Confessions, and now… BU Snaps?

BU Snaps already has more than 1,8oo Facebook likes after its creation on February 21st. It’s surely catching up to the other main anonymous Boston University entertaining Facebook pages. BU Crushes 2.0 currently holds 2,732 likes after joining in September.

BU students can screenshot funny snapchats they receive and message them to BU Snaps via their Facebook page, or through their twitter @BUsnaps.

School of Hospitality Administration freshman Maura Feltault sees the positive in the newest BU page. “I think it’s a good way for the BU students to come together as more of a community,” said Feltault. “It’s always fun to see what other people are up to and this is a great way for students to stay in touch.”

Some students, however, don’t feel the same enthusiasm about BU Snaps.

“I don’t like knowing that anyone could screenshot my snapchat and submit it onto this Facebook page without my consent,” said Lauren Howard, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. “I understand I’m sending the snapchat, but to people who I decide, not a portion of the BU population that I don’t know.”

The snapchats range from food arrangements and partying, to “selfies” and views of the city.

While some may use this social media outlet to embarrass friends (all in good fun) or showcase funny or pretty pictures via snapchat, BU Snaps’s main goal is for students to share their life moments at BU.

With 157 snapchats shared and counting, the future of BU Snaps looks bright. With BU Confessions and BU Crushes 2.0 starting to fade on popularity growth, BU Snaps could be the next big thing.

Are video games actually linked to aggression and racism?

By Ann Singer, Staff Writer
@annmsinger

Just how much do video games affect us?/ PHOTO BY Ann Singer

Just how much do video games affect us?/ PHOTO BY Ann Singer

Here we go again: a new scientist, a new study, and a not so new debate has caught the world’s attention. Scientist Craig Anderson, director for the study of violence at Iowa State University, recently published a study about the link between violent media exposure and aggression in children.

His team followed over 3,000 children in the third, fourth, seventh and eighth grades for two years and asked questions measuring aggressive behavior. The team found that children who play violent video games for an extended time displayed an allowance and propensity towards hostile behavior.

So, kids who see and partake in violence become aggressive? What a novel idea!

But really, was this something that time and money needed to be spent on to figure out? In 2013 when President Obama called for an increase in research on violent video games and violent behavior, did he mean this?

Of course violent video games desensitize to an extent, making someone a bit more aggressive. However, this aggressiveness does not equate to murderous tendencies. What research really needs to focus on is the role of violent media and the tipping point between aggressive behaviors and violent behaviors, a link that very well may not exist and is moreover influenced by personal matters of home or mental illness.

There have been a myriad of other studies that try to pinpoint the criminality of violent video games. One study tried to show how high-stress gaming situations lead to higher sensitivity, or how they help suppress empathetic feelings, or even how they promote racism.

In terms of empathy, Anderson and his team found no evidence of such a connection. According to an earlier lab-based study, whether someone was in the group who played violent video games or non-violent ones, they were equally likely to help the scientist pick up a dropped pen.

A recent study done by Ohio State University shows how picking avatars of different races affected the gamer’s stereotype of that race, proven through the Implicit Association Test (which basically tests subconscious racist tendencies). But this study was done only through a few select games and situations. Yes, some games may have racism laced in, but this problem extends far beyond the virtual world.

Today about 90 percent of children play video games, and over 90% of these games involve mature content like violence. If violent video games lead to violence in real life, shouldn’t there be an upward trend of violence to go with this data? Research shows there has been no increase in real-life violence, especially in adolescents where the target of these inquiries lies.

People will never cease to ask questions, target, and study the impact of violent media in connection to violent behavior. Yet, maybe it’s time to let go of this search for excuses and focus more on the known, direct causes for violence and work to fix the problem itself.

Windowless jets and the future of air travel

By Robin Ngai, Staff Writer
@bluebird1278

Will windows on planes become a thing of the past?/ PHOTO BY Robin Ngai

Will windows on planes become a thing of the past?/ PHOTO BY Robin Ngai

Imagine a world where planes don’t have any windows and you can choose to see whatever you want. As you sit in your plush leather seat, you can pull up your email or whatever city skyline of your choice on the inside wall of the plane.

No need to imagine it any longer, thanks to Spike Aerospace, an up and coming company made of up engineers who want to make air travel more advanced than ever.

The Boston-based company has come up with a windowless jet that allows passengers to enjoy the personal flying experience they desire. Passengers can choose to literally fly among the clouds and see a view of their journey projected on the interior of the plane.

In addition to featuring maximum comfort and special effects, the jet is will be going at supersonic speeds. Spike Aerospace has predicted that it will be able to take travelers from Los Angles to Tokyo in just five hours.

As someone who travels across the country for seven hours to get to school, this jet sounds too good to be true. This kind of speed would allow people to travel faster for work, school or even emergencies.

In countries such as China, they have advanced towards this type of speedy traveling. For example, running through China is the bullet train which goes at high speeds in order to carry its passengers through the vast terrain.

So, what does this mean for the future? I hope that it means this sort of transportation will be more accessible to the general public. I know that at first it will be ridiculously expensive, but maybe some day even the average traveler can fly from Los Angles to Tokyo in just five hours.

 

American Eagle rolls out out clothing line for dogs

By Devon Delfino, Blog Editor
@devondelfino

Are you tired of only finding Halloween costumes for your pet? Doesn’t he or she deserve the chance to express their own personal style, from preppy to hipster, tailor-made to small, medium and large dogs? Do you want the chance to match outfits with your furry best friend?

Well now you can with American Eagle Outfitters’ new line of doggy clothing.

Personally, I think it’s adorable (and who doesn’t like staring at photos of cute dogs?). The site even offers links to matching human apparel, but there has been some skepticism as to if it’s real or just a crack at an April fools joke. I hope it’s real because my dog just has to have that ‘selfie’ beanie. Although if my dog dressed this well, I think I might be in danger of her showing me up because the outfits and the dogs featured in the campaign are seriously cute.

And yes, in case you didn’t already know, doggie outfits are actually a thing — not to mention “doggles” — though it looks like the campaign just uses regular sunglasses for more of a laid-back vibe.

In the promotional video for the new line, American Beagle Outfitters seems to poke fun at the frivolousness of a doggy clothing line while offering an adorable array of outfits. My favorite part of the site is the fundraiser for The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on the site, which pledges to give $1 per order purchased on the site for up to $100,000. What better way is there to both help out the ASPCA than by buying ridiculously cute outfits for your dog?

Either way, I’m just happy to see so many pics of adorable dogs wearing hilarious (and stylish) outfits. Check out the “dogumentary” below: