The early millennium saw a change in America, the world, and Blink 182. If you were coming of age in the turmoil that was post 9/11, growing up in uncertain times, when the usual narratives disintegrated into dust, Blink grew right beside you. They released their self-titled album, usually meant for a debut, but one could easily call this a re-birth. The early part of the decade forced us to move, to think, to grow and Mark, Tom, and Travis did that on this album, without hesitation. It was 2003, two years after the towers fell. The war in Iraq was caught on camera, the Lord of the Rings movies were the biggest films in the United States, and Blink dropped an album after a hiatus. The world was still shook in the aftermath of 9/11. Fear, paranoia, and darkness flowed from newsstands to newsfeeds, while war and xenophobia bounced in and out of thoughts and conversations. This album wasn’t meant for the world though, it was meant for you, and you alone.
Tinder is now a huge part of our romantic imagination. “Swiping right” is a sign of approval and sex appeal, while our pictures stand in for the ever-so-important first impression. We’ve eliminated that chance meeting, the sign of fate, the story of how we met. Looking for a date now is no longer about approaching someone, reading body-language, and judging chemistry through conversation. It is about decoding pictures.
The importance of the visual image to the success of a boy band might be overlooked by the general population, but is certainly not underestimated by record labels and PR experts. It is easy to argue that the images produced are just as crucial (if not more) as the music to the overall success of the group. Boy bands like Backstreet Boys and N'Sync were successful in a time when the image of the group could be carefully controlled by marketing experts and PR representatives. Photo shoots and some paparazzi pictures were the main source of image proliferation. In 2010, the producers of X-Factor brought together five boys to create the group One Direction. The success of this group has been major, even during a time when the internet has made fans producers as much as they are consumers. Fan art and fan fiction has created a legacy for this group far out of the reach of their management's marketing experts. The visual images produced by the fans through things such as artwork and cell phone photos have been more influential among fans than any well-crafted photo shoot in a teen magazine. Four is One Direction's fourth studio album. Compared to the previous albums, the image appears less planned, or "constructed." Through affect, genre, and tension, the artists involved in the latest One Direction album cover attempted to recreate the fan created image in order to catch the attention, and cash, of the internet generation.
The definition of nature is constantly changing. The word itself conjures up many different feelings, thoughts, and images. It cannot be pinned down into one simple definition. Critical theorist, Raymond Williams, once wrote about nature as “the most complex word in the language(p. 216).” Nature is often defined through our re-creations of it, because most of us live in cities. Some of these re-creations come in the form of parks. These spaces are an invented form of nature, reflecting our ideal versions of it. The city park acts as a reminder in all the urban chaos that we can still preserve nature. This all sounds reasonable, except that the park is not a preservation, it is a creation, just like nature itself. The same thing goes for wilderness conservations, with their ties to a settler past and frontier mythology. We continue to assume there is some kind of nature out there, and that we are truly connected to it. There are representations of that idea everywhere: