Baby Yoda Breaks the Internet

No Mandelorian Spoilers, I promise

“Baby Yoda” is an image that as taken the internet by storm over the past few weeks, but what is so special about it that is making everyone forget how to act? To fully understand the impact of this adorable image, there is some cultural context that needs to be given.

First of all, who is Baby Yoda? Yoda is a very important main character in the Star Wars franchise. He is of an unknown species, and Baby Yoda appears to be of the same small green species. Disney+ has an original Star Wars series titled The Mandelorian, released on November 12th of this year. On this show, Baby Yoda (in the show it is referred to as “the Child”) is a central character. This show takes place after the events in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and follows a Bounty Hunter on some of his missions before coming across The Child.

Star Wars fans were already very excited about the new series, but the rest of the internet can’t get over the adorable creature. When users got their first look at Disney’s newest baby, they couldn’t hold it together.

What do we actually know about Baby Yoda? For now, not much. At this point in the series, The Child is a wanted figure by the underground members of the fallen Empire. We know that The Child can use the Force and this is the reason the audience is supposed to believe the Empire is interested in it. Since the majority of the series has not been released, we don’t know much more about The Child, so for now, we are left with baby-fever-inducing images of Baby Yoda.

The Baby Yoda memes appeared on everyone’s social media feeds as soon as it appeared in the episode. There are a few versions of the Baby Yoda meme. such as Baby Yoda holding “tea,” “Okay Boomer,” and a meme used to express adoration for someone/something.

Wow those are cute… anyway…

Why has Baby Yoda become a meme? Let’s be honest, because that’s what the internet likes to do. Baby Yoda appeals to a large audience because of its cuteness factor, and the captions are light and relatable, another thing the internet loves.

What makes Baby Yoda so appealing is the fact that the images of him are made to make you go “awwwww.” Similar to Disney’s use of Jack Jack, Baby Groot, every baby animal in Bambi, baby Dory, baby Nemo, I’m sensing a pattern here…

The audience of this photo is interesting to think about. Although people who are Star Wars fans are more likely to watch the series, the image is used to advertisements for the show and articles about the show. The use of this image as an attachment to ads and articles draws in a larger audience, regardless of if they have Disney+ or not, or if they are even remotely interested in Star Wars. Even my mom, who does not know what “a Yoda” is is obsessed with the Baby Yoda image. This is what makes Baby Yoda the most perfect advertising tactic for Disney.

Disney knew the Star Wars series would draw a lot of attention to their new service. Because of this, The Mandelorian series has not been completely released yet, unlike how Netflix releases full series to promote “binge-watching.” This prevents Star Wars fans from starting a free trial with only the intention of binge-watching the series and then canceling the trial (…I’m totally not one of those people…). The Baby Yoda image is the perfect way for Disney+ to pull in subscribers to the service. Disney+ is the only way you can watch the series, and after seeing the image it’s hard to say no to Baby Yoda.

This is a lot to unpack over a single image of an animated image of an alien baby.

But we know this analysis to be true because of the exploding popularity over Baby Yoda. There are thousands of results on Etsy for Baby Yoda related crafts, and there are official Baby Yoda Pop Figures available for preorder (although they are not going to be released until May of 2020). It is also next to impossible to scroll through a social media timeline without seeing Baby Yoda, even The University of Delaware sports Instagram page posted a Baby Yoda meme. This booming popularity is clear evidence that Disney’s marketing plot worked, and Baby Yoda has officially broken the internet.

Flutes are for Girls, Tubas are for Boys

Gender is everywhere. it’s in the products we buy (do you prefer blue or pink packaging for your razors?), the tv shows that we watch, the places we go, and gender is engraved in almost every social institution, from religion to prison, you cannot escape gender bias. No matter how hard we try, it seems we cannot escape the binary that makes something masculine or feminine. Over the years, the question on gender theorists’ lips has been, “how do we deal with gender bias in the music classroom?”

The educational system is no exception. Everywhere you look in schools there is evidence of gender biases. This can be most easily observed in children’s behavior. In elementary school, a great example is the way children of a specific gender choose to play.

Educators are seen as guiding lights, especially in lower elementary schools. But this does not protect them from enforcing gender biases. As a music education major, I can’t help but think about the gender biases that are present in the music classroom. Art classrooms are often seen by students as a safe space for them to express themselves and escape the idea of the gender binary. As much that I (and I hope you) wish that were true, the gender roles that are present everywhere in the world still tend to seep through the acoustic panels on the walls and into the music classroom. I think the most prominent gender issue in the music classroom is what instruments are “for boys” and which ones are “for girls.”

Understanding how gender plays out in the music classroom can help music educators, band boys and choir girls alike, help their students see beyond gender biases and break down the barriers they create.

 Four main theories explain the way gender works in the classroom:

Along with these frameworks, it’s important to understand where gender appears in the music classroom, and how the music classroom has been gendered. There are two main aspects as to how music education is gendered: the feminization of the subject itself and the genderization of musical instruments.

Why do these biases exist? When first learning about instruments before choosing them, students may be shown teaching materials that only show pictures of boys playing tuba while also only showing pictures of girls playing the flute, which is evidence of the Hidden Curriculum. Warrior Narratives enforce masculine norms for young boys, which affects how they can act in everyday life. Finally, when students go against the instrument norm, their peers may see this as an opportunity to bully the girl playing the tuba or the boy playing flute, this results in borderwork. These frameworks are evidence that gender is a learned concept, however, they are so embedded in society that we don’t realize we are teaching our children to act this way.

The gender biases that exist in the classroom can largely affect a student’s experience in their music education. These biases, if not controlled, can create a toxic learning environment and prevent creative expression. The “gendering” of inanimate objects in the music classroom is a problem, and music educators need to guide students away from these stereotypes to host a more healthy and creative classroom.

Teachers can foster a gender-free classroom a few different ways:

  • using different language when first introducing and describing instruments to students
  • allowing students to try out different instruments

Plan for P3

My essay is about the gender biases in music education and how teachers can avoid them in the classroom to create more gender conciencious environments.

I am pretty good at time management, but I do run into “writers block” often. To avoid this, I plan to first outline my entire essay, starting big with the 5 main parts of the essay we discussed in class, and then going into smaller focuses. This will keep me organized while helping me write my essay more effectively.

I don’t have any anxieties as of right now, but I anticipate at some point I will feel like I have more to talk about but have no idea what to write. I am very excited to write this paper mostly becasue I am very passionate about the topic!

Proposal

For my topic I am sticking with Gender and Music Ed, but I am going to investigate to what extent is music education gendered, focusing on how instruments are gendered in elementary and middle school (the early years of instrumental music) when students first choose their instruments. I also want to investigate how teachers can prevent a “gendered environment” in their classroom. I want to know why gender biases exists; are they learned or are they embeded in music? How can teachers go against gender “norms” and encourage gender-less music making?

Gender and Music Education

For my research project, I want to do something that has to do with my major, music education. Last week in my women’s studies class, we started talking about gender and education and that got my gears turning about how that applies to music ed. Then, the next day in my MuEd seminar we read some articles about the gender differences in music education. This is a topic that really peaked my interest, and I want to look further into it. I don’t know what my focus will be yet, but I’m sure by reading more sources I will be able to narrow in on a thesis/question.

Socioeconomic Status and the dangers of Transhumanism

Transhumanism is an idea that has been around as long as humans have been looking for eternal life. The idea of human enhancement would solve medical issues, create advanced intellectuals, and create new and improved human physiology. However, a major issue with transhumanism is the socioeconomic divide it would create between the lower and upper class. Access to the technology that would aid human enhancement would be expensive, and only the upper class would be able to afford it. This would create a physical divide between the upper and lower classes, and ultimately making the upper class a physically superior race.

Statistically, those with disabilities tend to fall low on the socioeconomic spectrum. This also happens to be the demographic that would need human enhancements the most. If the people who need human enhancements can’t afford them, the entire idea of transhumanism is a moot point. Basically, the rich would become superhumans, leaving poor people and people with disabilities at the very lowest “quality” of life. 

Transhumanism is a topic that I personally find very interesting, and there are many dystopian novels, stories, and Twilight Zone episodes that warn against human modifications (surprisingly all things I was forced to read/watch in my freshman year of high school that have stuck with me for some reason). One example is the dystopian novel series The Uglies. This series is about a society that forces physical modification on its citizens, and an occasional special enhancement depending on who you are. The basic idea of this series is “human enhancement is unhealthy for society.” Another example, which is actually the opposite idea that transhumanism has, which is genetic improvement, is the short story “Harrison Bergeron”. This story is about a society that makes everyone equal by making everyone wear “handicaps,” which ensures no one is more attractive, smarter, or physically superior to anyone else. The moral of this story is “any human modification is bad for society.” These are just a few examples that warn against human modification, and transhumanists should really listen.

Statistical Error: A Review of “Death, Drugs, and Rock and Roll”

The essay “Death, Drugs, and Rock and Roll” by Lauryn Daniels focuses on the issue of drug use at music festivals, and the lack of control for the issue. I think Daniels’ use of diction makes her essay effective and her argument is stronger because of it. Daniels uses words that are more advanced and make sense to her target audience, festival officials. She does not waste time explaining things that the audience would already know about festivals. Daniels also takes advantage of kairos in this essay. Music Festivals have been festivals have become very popular in the past couple years, and they continue to get bigger and bigger each year. This also means drugs increasingly become a problem for festival officials to figure out. As more and more youth attend these festivals, drugs become easier to access and the risk gets higher and higher. Daniels argument is automatically made stronger by how prevalent this issue has become.

Her target audience is very clearly people who run music festivals, as her argument is about controlling the use of drugs in this setting, however, I do think Daniels spends most of the essay explaining why drugs are bad rather than how festivals can improve drug control. Daniels’ paragraphs are broken up by the different dangers festival drug use can bring, and she proves her points mainly through quoted articles on similar subjects. I do think Daniels is lacking in statistical evidence, which would help her back up the claim that this issue is as large as she describes it to be. 

Analysis of “Drugs, Death, & Rock ‘N’ Roll”

  • Thesis
    • “it is up to festival officials to change the rhetoric and focus on absolute drug eradication within contemporary music festivals to a more hands-on, harm-reduction approach.”
    • Last sentence of the into paragraph
      • Makes it easy to find the author’s main argument
  • Appeals to Ethos
    • Uses “advanced” vocabulary, appealing to an intellectual audience
      • However, she explains certain words to be able to appeal to a larger audience that may not understand the diction used
    • Citations show where the author got all of her information
      • Gives her credibility
  • Appeals to Pathos
    • Talks about the extensive dangers of drug use
      • Makes the audience think about how drugs affect certain people
    • In her bio, the author mentions that she has been to music festivals and seen the dangers of drug use
      • Gives her a personal connection to the topic
  • Appeals to Logos
    • Mentions government actions to crack down on drug use
    • Facts are backed up with citations and clear evidence
  • Appeals to Kairos
    • Music festivals are very relevant to the times, and the author talks about how drug use increases at festivals every year, showing how the issue is constantly growing and is very relevant.

“PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT”

My entire life the expression “practice makes perfect” has been drilled into my head by so many adults. No one, however, preached it more than my piano teacher. “PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT,” Ms. Pascal, my 90-year-old teacher, would shout at me for 10 years. She was a sweet lady, and she shouted because she couldn’t hear well, I guess she didn’t think I could either. However, she did inspire me to try my best, and I continued to improve and gain self-confidence in my playing. When I was in 8th grade, the minister’s wife at my church, Barb, asked me to play the prelude before service one Sunday; I said yes. What could go wrong?

The song I chose to play was Chopin’s “Polonaise in G minor”. I had been working on it for six months and had just played it at my piano studio’s recital. I knew it like the back of my hand. I could play it in my sleep, upside down, and backwards. I had spent the previous afternoon playing it over and over again to ensure I wouldn’t have any unexpected slip ups. Practice makes perfect. I went to church early the next morning to practice on the piano in the sanctuary. Halfway through I started making small mistakes. I was playing wrong notes and messing up chords. I stayed calm and started the piece again. I was still making mistakes, and I started to panic.

My palms were sweating, and I could feel the tears coming. It was getting close to service and Barb and my parents could see that I was starting to freak out. 

Barb told me I did not have to perform if I didn’t want to. That would be worse than performing and messing up. I had committed and I needed to go through with it. I had dedicated six months of my life (which is a long time to an 8th grader) to this moment and I was not about to throw that all away. Plus, it was in the program so everyone would know something was wrong with me. There would be so many questions from the old ladies that loved to hear me sing and play in service. I was not ready for that kind of confrontation.

“Jane, you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to,” my mom would say over and over again as I attempted to get through the piece over and over again. Tears kept coming the more my parents and Barb pleaded for me to step back and take a break. As a very easily overwhelmed piano perfectionist, you can imagine the kind of stress I was under.

“I have to do it,” I said in between sniffles and wiping my eyes, “I want to do it.”

As I got up and walked to the piano for the prelude, I felt all eyes on me. I sat down, set my hands, and started playing. I could feel myself shaking, which is not great when you’re relying on your hands, and my mind was everywhere but Chopin’s Polonaise in G minor. 

I don’t remember anything from the actual performance. I remember crying because I knew I was going to mess up, and I remember having to stop and start again, although I can’t tell you where in the piece it went wrong because I effectively blacked out for the two minutes I played. After finishing the song I went back to the pew full of defeat and anger. I had failed and it was the end of the world.

Looking back on that day in church, I realize that I had over-practiced the Polonaise. This created a confidence that prevented me from focusing on the task at hand. I have since learned that practice doesn’t make perfect, because you can never reach total perfection; a rude awakening for someone who always needs things to go exactly right. 

I did not let that day in church define my musicianship. Though I no longer take piano lessons, I haven’t stopped playing the piano. I have recently accompanied choirs and solos in school, and even accompanied myself during multiple performances. I’ve learned that practice doesn’t make perfect, but by staying focused and dedicated, I can get the job done. I think Ms. Pascal would be proud.

Introductory post

Hey everybody! My name is Jane and I’m from Wilmington, DE; about 20 minutes away from Newark. I’m a Music Education major, and I hope to be a high school choir teacher and drama director in the future. I love doing all things music, and have been singing in choirs and playing the piano for over 14 years. I also have a strong passion for theatre, and have performed in (I’m pretty sure) 15 musicals, plays, and one act shows. I’ve also directed, choreographed, stage managed, and done marketing for various performances in my high school and in the community.