Analyzing the History Channel’s hit show, ALONE

Alone is a reality television survival show where contestants are sent to isolated locations in the wilderness to see who can last longest living alone, exposed to the elements and separated from society. It’s a show about strategy. It’s a show about the beauty and power of nature. It’s a show about the ingenuity and resilience of mankind. It’s also a show about human fragility, nutrition, and hunger.

Mostly, it ends up being a show about hunger.

But it’s a hunger that is more than literal. What the show wants to talk about is a question of the viability of…


The Social Commentary Embedded in ‘House Hunters’ (HGTV)

The social commentary in House Hunters on HGTV is usually subtle, baked into the choices made before filming begins for each episode. Once in a while the familiar voice-over offers some sly perspective on an episode’s participants (usually highlighting how silly it is to get upset over paint color), but the social text of the show is best seen on a broader scale.

The show’s popularity and scope are hard to overstate. Whether you love the show or hate it, House Hunters has become a fixture in American popular culture. …


Discussing The Karate Kid (1984) as a film about social class and class division in America

The most obvious narrative arc in The Karate Kid is Daniel Russo’s growth from a novice martial arts student to a karate champion. This ascension is paralleled on a more subtle level by Daniel’s gradual rise on the ladder of social status.

While he is initially shunned by the group of wealthy young people he aspires to join (as demonstrated early in the film in the scene on the beach), in the end Daniel is embraced by Ali and accepted by his rivals in…


Arthur Miller’s The Price is a successful example of postmodern drama that examines some of the ways in which competing narratives complicate the question of truth and individuals use selective narratives to carve out a modicum of dignity from an otherwise inhuman economic system.

The Play

The Price is a tightly constructed drama that explores issues of memory, familial duty, and betrayal. Importantly, it is also a story about the competing narratives that define family life and that we often lean on to provide us with a preferred view of ourselves.

The title of the play takes on several meanings. There is…


J.M. Coetzee sets the story of Waiting for the Barbarians far from the center of its fictional empire, yet the “history” of the Empire is powerfully present in the desert outpost town. The novel’s narrator, the Magistrate, ruminates on his attachments to this history and he desires escape.

In a book about obscure desires, it is this desire alone that is rendered with perfect clarity — the Magistrate wants to break free of the culturally determined perspectives of the Empire.

It’s a desire articulated through a strange and strained relationship with an unnamed “barbarian” girl and codified in the particular…


The term “myth” has become a synonym for “lie” but the fact is many myths are actually true. Or, as mythology expert Joseph Campbell would put it, a myth can be truer than fact. The reason for this is that myths convey beliefs, values and conceptual ideas through icons, emblems and symbols.

Myths are representative. They stand for something. And the things they stand for often cannot be communicated through simple statements of fact. An example here will help to clarify.

Let’s look at the myth of Rosa Parks. If we were to apply the contemporary usage of myth to…


If you are one of the many teachers suddenly adapting an in-person class to an online environment, here are some tips and assignment outlines to help you make the transition.

The biggest and best tip is to create a repeatable one- or two-week template for your course. In unpredictable times, students crave a predictable structure. Having a template to work from also saves time, making you a more efficient and better rested teacher.

The benefits of using a template are clear, so the only question that remains is how to think about constructing that template.

Photo: Pixabay

1. Think in Terms of Total Time

For traditional classes, the lesson…


There are signs of an emerging romanticism at work in American culture, where the received wisdom of “pure” scientific, critical rationalism is being challenged and sometimes replaced by alternative systems of thought and expression.

This challenge is evident in the field of medicine and in the marketplace of ideas where yoga has come to supplement religion and wellness is no longer a term of art but has instead become a fully explored belief system with countless books on offer to help us achieve it.

The signs are all around us. Leading publications like The Atlantic have recently run articles on…


Did you know that Americans drink roughly three cups of coffee per person every day — and that this is a really good thing because coffee promotes hearth health and helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes? Yep. Coffee is a health drink.

Although most people focus on the energizing effects of coffee or coffee’s role in socializing today, there is a fairly long list of health benefits in drinking coffee that shouldn’t be overlooked.

From heart health to liver health to a reduction in risks relating to Parkinson’s disease and diabetes, coffee has been found to promote good…


Once upon a time the “complete breakfast” that we see in every cereal commercial was under attack from inside the very industry that created it — Post Cereal and its owner, C. W. Post.

Charles Wiliam Post, with “his ubiquitous advertising, self-righteousness, posturing grandiosity, and propaganda against ‘coffee nerves,’” set out to villainize coffee as a way of promoting his own coffee substitute (Uncommon Grounds, 91), a grain-based anti-coffee.

The story of Charles Post is an interesting example of how misinformation and bad behavior from corporate-minded people can dominate a cultural moment.

In 1888, Post checked into a sanitarium to…

Eric Martin

Eric Martin is a writer, teacher, and artist living in California’s Antelope Valley. His work has appeared at PopMatters, Steinbeck Now and elsewhere.

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