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comparative essay- graded with comments

comparative essay- graded with comments - Allison Anderson...

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Allison Anderson October 10, 2006 Professor Tongson Midterm Comparative Essay . . . Baseball, Apple pie, Coca Cola . . . These are the first things that come to mind when I think of America . And it is this assemblage of items that gives me pride in the country that raised me into who I am today. But while I do not possess sole control over whether the Dodgers or the Diamondbacks win the game, or whether the apple pie I bake will be burnt or perfectly crisp, or whether the Coca Cola I buy costs 5 cents or 5 dollars, I do hold the power to one thing. Most importantly, I am entitled to the freedom and opportunity to express my own opinions and thoughts regarding each of these things. In his essay Notes from Underground: Zines and Politics of Alternative Culture , Stephen Duncombe proclaims that: “Marginalized people with little power over their status in the world still retain a powerful weapon: the interpretations they give to the circumstances and conditions that surround them, and the ideals and character traits they possess.” In both “Aiken’s Army” by Blasengame and the film Trekkies , the people fans depicted retain this “powerful weapon” through their die-hard appreciation and love of their fan communities. To them, the ultimate symbols of America are not baseball, apple pie, and Coca Cola, but rather Clay Aiken and Star Trek. While not always understood by the majority of Americans, enthusiasts incorporate the love and pride of their fandom to achieve fulfillment and live a good life. “Most people in the USA will never amount to anything . . . because they are just regular people, nothing special. [But] as individuals, [fanatics] may be losers in the game 1
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of American meritocracy, but together they give the word “loser” a new meaning, changing it from insult to accolade, and transforming personal failure into an indictment of the alienating aspects of our society” (Duncombe 21). It is this idea, exactly, that has built Clay Aiken into the sensation that he is today. His appearance and success on the hit TV show American Idol gave birth to an entirely new community of fans, better known as ‘Claymates’. Fueling this unique fandom is the idea of regularity. The Claymates have found someone to look up to who is, in essence, just like them: “He’s so vanilla, such a blank slate, that he’s all things to all people. He is son, scrawny little brother, secret lover, first kiss, prophet, and [emblem] of hope” (Blasengame 3) for the Average Joe to amount to more than just average . Looking up to Aiken as a source of inspiration has enabled people of all kinds to look at life in a new light. Instead of being considered the dork in the back of the classroom or the skinny boy with the big ears, people use their fandom of Aiken to transcend into a world where a big heart and a love
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