Author Archive
Digital
Game
Humor

Deez Nuts

The “Deez Nuts” cyber-lore is an internet sensation found in video and meme formats throughout the internet and social media. People began mashing up videos using a segment of an Instagram video in which a black man in the video prank calls someone and answers “Deez Nuts!” when the person on the other line asks who is calling.

 

“I saw it from Instagram, everybody made like, different memes and videos about it. My friend sent me a survey about it and said it was for class and when I opened it…it was just talkin about, bout deez nuts. *giggles*”

 

My informant encountered the mash-up in a different format than usual, having been introduced to it through a survey and not an Instagram video. One of her friends sent her a link to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9NDGKP6 after he had told her to take a survey for class, which she proceeded to open only to find out that it wasn’t actually a class survey, but a meme with the text “Deez Nuts”.

 

Analysis: When looking at this piece of cyberlore, I found that it is used primarily as a means of playing a practical joke. Though the video itself may not be particularly funny on its own, when used in a context that “pranks” other people, the pranksters and the pranked find the scenario funny because they “got someone” by getting them to open something seemingly important, only to find out that the only message is that they’ve found “Deez Nuts”. I also thought it was interesting the way that thus particular cyberlore spread and evolved. The “Deez Nuts” reference can be found in a variety of different formats, from video, to memes, to quizzes, which hints at how quickly and easily things can become varied and spread on the internet.

Folk Beliefs
Magic
Narrative
Tales /märchen

Old Wives Tale on Homosexuality

My informant is the mother of a USC student. She is an immigrant from Cameroon and came to America with her husband and son before giving birth to their daughter.

 

“As a child I knew nothing about homosexuality…but there was an old wives tale I was told that, if a woman was raped by another woman, it would render the victim barren. The victim would usually dream about the encounter and the perpetrator would be confronted by village elders and be chastised.”

 

Analysis: Cameroon is a country that has deeply rooted beliefs and traditions, among these is the belief that people should not engage in relations with someone of the same sex. The importance that is placed on women to be child bearers and bring about heirs is part of the reason that there is so much stigma placed upon same-sex relations. Barrenness would be an ultimate punishment for a woman because her utmost purpose within that society is to give birth to a male heir. This belief further sets the societal framework for Cameroon and Cameroonian culture by making it very clear that homosexuality is not tolerated in society or by nature (as the female victim would mysteriously become barren after the rape).

 

Proverbs

Only A Stupid Child Falls More Than Once at the Door

My informant is the mother of a USC student. She is an immigrant from Cameroon and came to America with her husband and son before giving birth to their daughter.

 

“Most of the houses have entrance doors that are raised. There are no accommodations for the less able….everyone is expected to get in and out. If you fall or trip once, you should remember the next time you approach the door. If you miss again, you will be considered incompetent.”

 

Analysis: This proverb is essentially one that states that you should learn from your mistakes and from past experiences. If you trip once at the door, an intelligent person would remember the next time they encounter it, whereas a person who is oblivious will trip again because they did not pay attention the first time. Though the proverb can be applied to all situations where people fail to learn from their mistakes, the use of the word child implies that the person who is hearing the proverb—regardless of age—is acting like one. It exemplifies the expectation in the Cameroonian community to learn from your mistakes and take care not to make them again.

 

Myths
Narrative

The Story of Ganesha

My informant is a bi-racial student at USC who is half white and half Indian. She grew up listening to her mother tell her stories and legends about Indian gods and goddesses and carried those stories with her throughout her life. This was one of her favorites.

 

“Okay so Ganesha was the son of Shiva and Parvati. And Shiva is the main god in Hinduism. And um, Parvati—his mother—created Ganesha as a little boy out of soap when she was feeling lonely and Shiva was gone. And um, his job was to guard her door and make sure nobody came in without her permission. And so one day Shiva came home—his father—and Ganesha wouldn’t let him in because that’s his job, but he didn’t know who Shiva was…and Shiva in anger cut off his head in anger and killed him. And Parvati was really really sad and when Shiva found out that that was his son he got really sad too. And so he decided to give Ganesha his life back and how he did it was the first living thing he saw, he was gonna cut the head off of and put it on his sons body and restore life back to him. So the first thing he saw was an elephant so he cut off the elephants head and put it on Ganesha’s body and brought him back to life—which is why he’s the Hindu God that has an elephants head. And his main…like what he’s most famous for is um, he has really big ears because he’s really intelligent and listens to all the worlds problems, and he’s considered the force that blocks paths for people and creates troubles but also is the God that can clear paths for people and lead them on the road to success…the end!”

 

Analysis: The origin story that was presented was one that was told to my informant by her mother. The story behind Ganesha explains why he Is worshipped as a God (having been brought back to life by Shiva) in the Hindu faith. This folk legend also explains why elephants are regarded as sacred to many Hindu’s living in India and throughout the world, because an elephant was chosen as the head of a God. It is interesting to see how religious beliefs and legends are passed amongst family members and the differences and changes in the story when passed from person to person. The story of Ganesha can be found in various texts and the components of the story can change from person to person as there are several “versions” of the story that are told. For example, in another rendition of the story, Parvati creates Ganesha out of dirt while taking a bath and after Shiva revived Ganesha, he also granted him power over all of his troops. For another version of this Hindu legend, refer to the: Mahabarata – a Sanskrit epic poems of India.

 

Foodways
Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Margaritas at La Barca

My informant is a USC student of Armenian and Caucasian origin, born and raised in California and regularly exercises through distance running. She is also a human biology major with an emphasis in human performance.

“So during a long day of a run—Melissa and I would hate it—and really count down our ten miles until we could go eat at La Barca. And finally when we were done we were rewarded with two-three margaritas, chips and salsa, and a grande colossal burrito and surprisingly we would wake up and run ten times faster. A couple times we averaged a 6:33 mile for 8 miles consecutively so, every time before we had a hard workout the next day we would prep at La Barca before…and it worked pretty well this past summer! And so I guess its just tradition now kind of, with me and her and the other girls who run with us sometimes.”

 

Analysis: This example of acquired folklore demonstrates how superstition and repetition can create a ritual. My informant believed that there was an undeniable tie between her performance while running and the consumption of several margaritas and Mexican food at La Barca restaurant prior to her hard workouts the next day. The initial improvement of her mile time gave her “proof” that her ritual/ceremony before her rough workouts was successful which prompted her repeating the ritual and spreading what she had learned with her other running buddies until it became a tradition within their group to partake in drinks and Mexican food before workouts. This piece of folklore also serves a social purpose and a means of bringing people together and strengthening bonds between friends, as well as marking a distinct trait or practice within this specific running group.

Humor

Why did they name Canada, Canada?

My informant is a USC student of Armenian and Caucasian origin, born and raised in California and regularly exercises through distance running. She is also a human biology major with an emphasis in human performance.

 

“One of my Canadian friends who plays sand volleyball here told me this great joke, and its about how Canada got its name. And so basically people were pulling letters out of a hat and so whe they pulled the first letter they said “C—eh!”, second letter “N—eh!” third letter “D—eh!” spells CANADA!”

 

Analysis: This joke is one that the informant learned from someone else, who acquired the joke from people in her own country and culture. The spread of the joke to an American population shows how humor can be used to bridge cultural gaps. Even though the friend she heard the joke from was Canadian, the use of wordplay and the playing off of Canadian stereotypes (saying eh!) was humorous to both the teller of the joke as well as the listener, and provided a foundation for further conversation and friendship later on.

 

Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Pinning Ceremony

My informant is a USC student and member of a sorority at the University. She is bi-racial of black and Caucasian ancestry.

 

“Usually towards the end of the school year there are these things called pinnings, and it happens when a senior guy in a fraternity and a senior girl in a sorority have a ceremony of the guy “pinning” the girl—with a pin—which signifies their love being bigger than his brotherhood with his fraternity, as he sticks his pin on her chest over her heart.”

 

Analysis: This ceremony is one that only takes place within Greek life, and as such the tradition is passed down verbally and visually within the Greek community. My informant wasn’t aware of the ceremony until she joined a sorority and witnessed it happen to one of her friends. The pinning ceremony is one that reflects a declaration of love and devotion for a boy for a girl, which is incredibly significant within male greek life as a guy’s fraternal “brothers” are (up until that point) the most important people in his life. A more Freudian explanation for the ceremony may be a means of the boy making it known to everyone that he is engaging in sexual intercourse with the girl of his choice, by sticking his “pin” onto her.

Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Monday Night Dinner

My informant is a USC student and member of a sorority at the University. She is bi-racial of black and Caucasian ancestry.

 

“In my sorority we have Monday night dinners every Monday night and all the girls are required to go, and then afterwards we have these sorority meetings to talk about things we need to do that week or what’s up for the next week, stuff like that. A persona chef comes and cooks and everyone is required to be there. You just don’t miss. You don’t.”

 

Analysis: The prevalence of Monday night dinner within sorority culture signifies a collective bond between the girls in the sorority to one another and to their house. I think that its interesting that there is an unspoken law that everyone has to be at Monday night dinner. When I asked if someone could miss she just replied that you “just don’t”. Although there isn’t a spoken reason for it, all of the girls know and accept that it is unacceptable to simply “miss” Monday night dinner. The rituals within sorority houses on occasion are reminiscent of cult behavior, where many people follow a doctrine or a ritual not because there is a justified reasoning behind it, but because everyone else is doing it, or the leader has said that it needs to be done, which can seem slightly off putting for people who are not immersed in of familiar with sorority culture or values.

 

Folk speech
Proverbs

Track is Life

My informant is a senior member of the USC track and field team. He is of African American descent and is entirely dedicated to his sport.

 

Track is life. To eat healthy—these are words I learned from J.P—to eat healthy, to practice hard, to watch videos and film and study other people and how they run and how to help yourself run. So you just eat, breathe, sleep track. Its all you think about, its all you do. It’s a thing, it’s a thing actually, but it can also be applied to other sports. Like, ball is life. Like when n****s eat, drink, and sleep basketball. So like even if you *motions twisting his ankle* you just keep goin cause its life.”

 

Analysis: This proverb exemplifies the lifestyle of the person or people who use it. The statement is simple but powerful “track is life” meaning that everything that that individual does, is for track. I thought that this piece was particularly interesting because the noun in the beginning of the proverb can be changed depending on the sport and the groups of athletes that use it. Track is life for someone who runs, but “ball is life” for another individual who plays basketball or football. The universality of the proverb is part of what makes it so powerful, it can be applied to almost anyone and anything with simple changes to the word choice. It is also something that can be universally understood, because anyone who is in love with their sport will understand what the speaker is saying when they state that “Track is life” or “Ball is life” etc.

 

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Gestation, birth, and infancy
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Cameroonian Pregnancy Rituals & Beliefs

My informant is the mother of a USC student. She is an immigrant from Cameroon and came to America with her husband and son before giving birth to their daughter.

“A pregnant woman would, should…at all cost avoid seeing what she would consider as ugly until the gives birth. The fear, is that uh, her baby will become ugly if she does. It is also believed that if she eats a cobra before giving birth that it will speed the delivery of the baby. Again, this—cobra—is a delicacy usually reserved for only, for only the men. If you have not realized it yet, my people in every way see women as less than equal to men. A good woman is supposed to be behind her husband. He must have the last word, she must sleep behind him, she must please him at all cost. This is of course…changing with the access to higher education and influence of western culture. Divorce rates are soaring and more women are opting to marry later, not get married, and not have children…husbands are even blamed when their wives are troublesome because they cannot control her!”

 

Analysis: This belief illuminates the importance of beauty within Cameroonian culture. Especially in the case of the birth being a girl, it would be desired for her to be beautiful so she could marry a wealthy and handsome husband. In addition, the allowance of women to consume cobra during pregnancy demonstrates that women who are bearing children are considered of a higher status than women who are not, because they are allowed to eat foods that are typically reserved only for men (who are looked at with more respect within Cameroonian society). My informant made a point of reiterating that men in their society are more highly valued than women, however also made note that within the western world these beliefs have lost value due to women in the United States being able to attend school and support themselves without a husband. Of course there are communities and families who still adhere strictly to these beliefs even though they live in a western nation such as America.

 

 

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