New Portrayal At Different Angles

In popular culture, the way the news is presented to us from a local standpoint about global events can be misconstrued sometimes. The news is capable of broadcasting media, such as a war, into multiple perspectives based on its audience. It could either be portrayed as a bloodbath or a heart-felt news piece. This essay will cover just how different news sites (both nationally and internationally) are able to miss information, portray the same parties throughout different articles as different, what information is actually being shared throughout the majority of news stories, and how audiences will perceive what the news fed them. For the purposes of this essay, the signing of a new peace deal between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine Government, that happened on March 27th, 2014, will be used to show just how other nations viewed this ground breaking historical event.

A little background information, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is a Bangsamorogroup that is comprised of about five percent of the Philippines population. They strive for an overall control for self-government in order to become an independent nation. However, since the group was established back in the 60’s, there have been fighting and war crimes going on up until today. This led the Philippine Government to grant only a semi-autonomy to the Bangsamoro back in the late 1970’s. Since then, there have been many attempts to create a peace pact between the MILF and the Philippine Government under former President Corazon Aquino, but they failed, as reported by the Huffington Post.

Across an array of news articles, March 27th, 2014 marked the day an official peace deal was signed by the following parties as stated in the Philippine Star News ( “Philippine government peace panel chairman Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and MILF peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal. . .” Witnesses to this event were the Philippine President Aquino, the Malaysian Prime Minister, and the chairman of MILF. ( Malaysia has been the third party facilitator since 2001, as stated in the article written by NBC News. This ended roughly 40-45 years of constant conflict and fighting between MILF and the Philippines. The signed document is known as the “Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB)” ( ensures that “[t]he deal grants [the MILF] largely Muslim areas of the southern Mindanao region greater political autonomy in exchange for an end to armed rebellion. . .” according to The Guardian news site.

Now, that there has been background information released on this topic, here’s what’s to be explained; the contrast in what information is actually saying. Most of the articles that I looked at are critically acclaimed US news sites such as: NBC News, The Guardian, and the Huffington Post. The other article is from a Filipino website (in English of course-yes, other foreign countries websites are generally in English as I have seen): The Philippine Star. All good sources with high reputations for each country.

Between all of my sources, there are bits and pieces of information that are missing, varied, and/or incorrect. For example, take the NBC News article “Philippines, Muslim rebels sign final peace deal to end conflict” and’s article “(UPDATE) Gov’t, MILF ink historic peace pact”. Both articles were written at the same time, on the same day, about the same event; yet both articles have varying information.

Take for example, NBC News, who said that the conflict had been going on for “45 years” while says that the conflict had been going on for “40 years.” While a five year difference doesn’t seem too significant at first glance, quite a bit can happen in a year alone. NBC News may have increased the supposed duration of the conflict in order to present a more dramatic feel to their readers, as ‘45 years’ indicates that more has happened than the alternative’s statement of ‘40 years’, leading the audience to believe that there is further drama than there actually is.

Next, there’s the matter of the NBC News article making it sound like the peace deal won’t really do anything since they link it Al Qaeda. Saying that,”Islamist militants [are] linked to al Qaeda and feuding clans…” (NBC News) Even though the article does state that the peace deal will do a great deal to help end the feuds, it doesn’t guarantee full coverage for safety, which brings back sad and unhopeful thoughts. This view from NBC News and how they decided to mention Al Qaeda seemed fitting for American News.

Through personal experience and observation, it seems that the American media focuses more on having hopeful stories and good news from around the world, while simultaneously introducing concepts of risk and danger to set the audience in a more intense and uncomfortable mood. This does give more awareness to the American people about the peace deal between the Philippine Government and MILF and how serious this really is, but this does not reassure the American people that what is going on is really effective. The twisted ‘news’ from NBC News is more blunt and shocked about the situation than the Huffington Post is.

The Huffington Post continues to put a damper on the situation, but in a lighter way they do express that there is still danger that will always be going on even with the peace deal in effect. Stated by the Huffington Post,”…it will not end all violence in a part of the country long-plagued by lawlessness, poverty and Islamist insurgency…Other insurgent groups have vowed to keep fighting for [their] full independence…” (The Guardian also has a very similar article like this.) They list what is still wrong in the Philippines, and that other groups are still going to fight back, but they do not bring up Al Qaeda in their article. By not bringing it up, the article gives the audience a more laid-back feel of the danger at hand, and how the peace deal will not alleviate all of the Philippines’ problems.

The Guardian has done a good job of displaying the most important information about the Philippine Government and MILF. They list the exact purpose of the peace deal, as it is stated,”The deal grants largely Muslim areas of the southern Mindanao region greater political autonomy in exchange for an end to armed rebellion…” (The Guardian)  They don’t state extreme dangers to their audience, but more so of the facts. This creates a better feel of the portrayal of the Philippine Government and the MILF.

Having the focus on the core facts of what is trying to be achieved rather than the potential continuing danger of other Islamic groups and how they still want to fight for their full freedom, tells the audience that the Philippines have things under control and that they know what they are doing for their people. Without the reassurance in the US that the Philippines can’t do this on their own, it creates a bad third-world portrayal, and being Filipino, it sickens me to think that there are articles out there that think so poorly of some areas just because of the history of that particular place.

Overall, all of the articles do tell of the situation being the Philippine Government and the MILF is being showed well. Minus the calls of continuing threats to their people by several other Islamic groups and the choice of negative diction that was written by NBC News and The Huffington Post, that portray the situation more harmful than it is. Some off-numbered information (Philstar and NBC News) shows that drama can be tipped over the edge by a couple more numbers, which causes more panic and worry for both sides of the story.

It should be said that I think all of the articles portrayed interesting views of it all, but they all needed to make sure they had the core details in order to stay consistent. Without the consistency of the core information, the article would fall apart and seem bogus in comparison with the articles that matched up better than the bogus article. Popular culture is getting better about showing the events from another country to its true form, but as Americans, we crave drama and gossip. A story should entice the reader naturally. A story shouldn’t mask the truth with blemishes just to entice the reader, artificially.



NOTE: On the actual version (which I can’t figure how to attach) I have footnotes to explain a couple of things. Such as that Bangsamoro translated means “Moro (Muslim) People.” 

Expectations Made of Women Through Pop Culture

Expectations made of women through pop culture today has become outrageous in my opinion. We have women hurting themselves everyday to make themselves look “prettier”. It’s wrong, and I see no way to argue that it’s even close to acceptable. I think if we took away ads that cause these things, women would learn to accept the way they look and love themselves and their bodies.

Millions of women and young girls are subjected to advertisements everyday that promote hype-awareness of appearance and over-critical views. These advertisements make most women self-aware of their bodies and everything about their personal appearance. They are on the T.V. we watch, in the magazines we read, on the internet, sent to us by mail, and if we disconnect and go outside, the public domain is bombarded with signage portraying “idealized” women. Why are women portrayed in magazine ads and television commercials in this way, and how do these unrealistic expectations contribute to women’s health and image issues?

The health and image issues developed in women happen to be caused by standards set by the public. The ideal woman is caucasian with thick, lustrous straight hair, she has perfect skin, long legs, a perky bust, and a small waist. ‘Ethnic”(dark skinned) women are rarely the seen as an ideal woman in any advertisement. Women, ages 14+, cake on makeup everyday, some even multiple times a day, because they think they need to hide parts of themselves that are “ugly”. Blemishes, freckles, or even the fact that their skin isn’t the color they want it to be.


For years the multi million dollar company Maybelline have had the advertising slogan “Maybe shes born with it, maybe its Maybelline”. These ads tells us that a woman’s natural face should look augmented with make up as if the natural state of a woman’s face should have bronzed contours, powder smooth skin, deep red lips, impossibly long lashes, and smokey mysterious jewel tone eyes.

Here is Aveeno promising “naturally beautiful skin” with its positively radiant line that lightens dark pigmentation on the face. How can it be “naturally beautiful” if it’s making things like blemishes and dark spots “disappear” with chemicals?


Of course there’s also another side too. This is Katherine Webb, 24-year-old beauty queen and Miss Alabama USA, eating a burger from Carl’s Jr. in a stadium dressed in a skimpy skirt, top, and high heels. She’s hot, she’s sexy, it works. So now, not only do we see the expectation that women should look this way, but also that eating fast food will allow women to keep a body like hers. Except there’s no possible way that could happen without regurgitating the food afterwards.

This is a video posted by a group called Global Democracy, it shows what happens during a photo shoot. They put a little make up on a girl, some hair extensions and take some pictures, but it doesn’t stop there. After all the shots are taken, they go in and photoshop her skin, hair, eyes, belly, legs, arms, everything. They make a girl that doesn’t even exist. I’ve always known they use photoshop on models, but I never knew they used it to this extent and probably greater. Because of this video, I’ve found that most women in advertisements, mostly photo advertisements, aren’t even real. They are photoshopped to the point that they are unrecognizable and become a person that doesn’t actually exist. Shouldn’t we be ashamed of ourselves when not even the cover girls in these magazines can live up to the unreasonable standards? These photos are altered to whiten teeth, narrow the waist, enlarge and lift the bust, lengthen the neck and legs, and change their skin tone. I’ve even heard of these same models being told that they aren’t skinny enough when they’re already a size 0. The designers send clothes that are too small for the models to wear, and when they can’t fit in them they’re told to lose more weight and end up eventually starving themselves. So why do we feel the need to change the way women look? Also, why would we subject our children to the same things?

Speaking of subjecting children to these things, think of the show Toddlers and Tiaras. You can’t just blame the mothers for what they do to the young girls in that show or in any beauty pageants. These little girls are subjected everyday to the same advertisements we are as adults. They always want dress up, feel pretty, and pretend to be the idealized women they see in advertisements. They have their mothers, who somehow accept these things as being right, give them tans (through spray and tanning beds), bleach their teeth and hair, even wax their arms, legs, and eyebrows. How is it acceptable to do these things to our children? To make them want to change themselves and see themselves as not pretty enough?

I identify as a woman which means I am scrutinized to every extent. It doesn’t even matter about my nationality because in the U.S, women of any color, are subjected to the scrutiny of pop culture. Everyday I look at myself and see myself as not perfect because pop culture. I won’t  have perfect skin because I have eczema, I will never be tall, and I won’t be skinnier than a 6. But the point is, because of genetics, I will never be the “perfect” woman. I have experienced some of the harsh expectations brought on by pop culture. I have had people tell me that I’m not skinny enough, I’m too short, and even that my skin is too pale. I have been made fun of throughout my life for dandruff, eczema, height, or even the split ends in my hair. Every time I open a magazine I am bombarded with messages about how to lose weight, manage my hair, obscure my own facial features to the point of looking like someone else, and wear expensive clothing in addition to tricks to make a man love me. I see other women being influenced by these same advertisements  every day. Women who go tanning, not because of health problems such as Vitamin D deficiency, but because they don’t think they are dark enough and believe that being tan will make them more attractive. Or the dark skinned women who are told they aren’t good enough because they aren’t white. There’s also the problem with women and young girls trying to make themselves thinner and develop eating disorders because they believe thin is beautiful. I feel that pop culture has caused women to turn to extreme “solutions” to their “ugly problems”.

If we take all of these things into effect, then I think most women would see advertisements as a crime. Causing women to harm themselves to look like someone that doesn’t even exist is wrong, I actually see no way that these advertisements could be right. I think if we took away all of the ads that cause women to want to do these things, women would respect themselves more and not feel the need to wear clothes that barely fit or are overly revealing. They could actually learn to accept the way they look and love themselves and their bodies. So now there’s only one question: When does it all end?

You can’t base your life on other people’s expectations. -Stevie Wonder.


Works Cited

“NEW Shine Seduction Lipgloss Color – Maybelline Picture.” NEW Shine Seduction Lipgloss Color – Maybelline Picture. Stuffpoint, n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2014.

“Aveeno Positively Radiant TV Spot, ‘Spots’ Featuring Jennifer Aniston Track It.”, n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2014.

“Digital Manipulation Laid Bare in Video of Model Being Photoshopped.” – Fashion Videos., 31 Oct. 2013. Web. 02 Mar. 2014.

Malec, Brett. “Katherine Webb’s Super Sexy Carl’s Jr. Commercial—Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look!” E! Online. E! Online, 26 Sept. 2013. Web. 03 Mar. 2014

Wonder, Stevie. “Expectations Quotes.” BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 05 June 2014.


Plus Size- A matter of perception

The female ideal is an ever-changing notion. Popular culture has shown reverence for one body type or another throughout the ages. Like many fashions, curves have come in and out of style. However, unlike many of the early twentieth century decades that were more fluid and dynamic with changing ideals, our society has been in a skinny rut for some time, desperately clinging to the thin figured ideal ushered in by the “Twiggys” of the 1960’s. This thin figure ideal has relegated a majority of the female population to be pariahs under the guise of plus size. We must ask ourselves if plus size is healthy euphemism to save the feelings of those who are fat, or if it is the result of our society’s warped figure perception. As someone who is considered to be plus size and also happens to be healthy, I don’t believe society’s portrayal of plus size is accurate. Society has suffered from fat phobia for decades, and many champions for healthy bodies are viewed as making excuses for overeating and being lazy. Those who are thin are seen as being healthy and beautiful, while those who are plus size are ugly and unhealthy. We would not find ourselves desperately trying to avert our eyes when presented with images of normal sized women if the images were more prevalent and as a society we were able to embrace a more realistic ideal.

What is plus size? Webster defines plus size as an adjective describing clothing or a person of a size larger than the normal range, while the Urban Dictionary defines “plus size” as a nicer way to refer to someone who is overweight and is a term that makes being overweight seem like a good thing. Webster’s definition appears to be straight-forward and reasonable until you begin to tease out the sub text and take a closer look as whom it is describing, while the Urban Dictionary is less discretionary with its depiction of society’s distaste for larger women. Any woman who has ever been to a retail store in search of clothing will know that most stores carry a size range of 0-14, yet the average woman is a size 10. If the average is a 10 there are many women at the upper end of the spectrum, though still within normal range. The fashion industry and our society in general has been telling women that the fat deposits that they received during puberty on their thighs, hips, abdomens and breasts are ugly and unnatural. Real women with real bodies that have active lifestyles and healthy eating habits land at all points on the spectrum naturally, yet, to be at the upper end of the spectrum is something to be ashamed of, relegates you to shopping at specialized stores with limited selection and earns you the unpleasant label of plus size.

There is a distinct lack of representation of average sized women, let alone actual plus size women. Google the phrase plus size and you are bombarded with images of beautiful women who are almost all clearly under size 8. In fact, in the fashion world any model that wears above a size 6 is considered to be plus size. Most retailers claim that their use of size 8 models under the title of plus size is for mass appeal to both the size 2’s and the size 14’s. This is troublesome because if the size 2’s are marketed to by both the waif like” glamazon” models and the size 8 “plus size” models, where is the actual representation of the size 14 and above market? In addition to that lack of accurate representation, what does that say about the how the actual plus size women, size 14 and above, view themselves if they are supposed to compare themselves with a size 8 model? Clearly what is considered to be plus size in the fashion world is not what is plus size in the real world.

We live in a media saturated society, and that media happens to be obsessed with shamelessly scrutinizing celebrities’ bodies.   Tabloids including People magazine, in addition to other forms of entertainment media are consistently riddled with ruthless accusations of pregnancy, weight gain, and figure shaming, all of which is targeted at the individuals who set the precedent for our modern beauty ideal. This is a symptom of our fat phobia, and as a society in general we are fixated on many yo-yoing celebrities such as Chirsty Alley and Jessica Simpson. We celebrate their weight loss as they inch closer to our sacred ideal, and shame them when they drift farther from it. The consistent void of accurate size representation paired with our highly unrealistic ideals is perpetuating this obsession with body shaming.

Today we call it dieting, in the 1920’s it was called slimming, and the 1950’s they called it slenderizing, but in reality they are all different terms for the same concept. That concept is the pursuit of the thin ideal. Every generation has received its own fresh crop of gimmicks and miracle solutions to the same problem, shedding unwanted weight. We must ask ourselves if why the weight is unwanted. If we have healthy habits, adequate amounts of exercise and our bodies take a certain shape, why is this something to be ashamed of? This is not intended to make excuses for those with large figures that come as a result of poor eating habits and inadequate amounts of physical activity, but it truly begs the question why one body shape is preferred over another. The ideal cannot be entirely based on health because the pendulum swings both ways; being thin does not necessarily equate health, yet it is somehow perceived that way. Nor can the ideal be based on majority since it does not coincide with statistical norms. Perhaps the ideal is based on what is not statistically normal, and these thin figures are more precious because they are more rare. This means that the hordes of women who buy into gimmicks and crash diets in desperate attempts to obtain the ideal figure will eventually diminish its significance by obtaining it.

Plus size women are depicted differently from “normal size” women in television especially. The Mindy Project is a great example, centered on a women who has been deemed plus sized by the society in which she lives and refuses to see herself in a negative light. Quite to the contrary, she sees herself as being hot, despite what society says about her figure. In one episode in which she is determined to lose 15 pounds she makes a statement about “not wearing a skirted bathing suit like some woman that gave up on life.”5 This is funny but also rings so true when put into the context of how society views women who do not continually obsess over their weight. By wearing a skirted bikini that woman has admitted defeat in her pursuit of an acceptable body and has chosen to cover it up in order to gain acceptance in society. In the same episode she makes another comment about how she is still full from the chia seeds she ate the night before. Obviously being a sarcastic remark, the satire demonstrates how ridiculous the standards are, how could she possibly be full and satisfied from chia seeds? Ultimately in the episode she does not end up losing the weight and being successful in changing her body, she does, however, change how she sees her body and her acceptance of the shape she possesses naturally.

In my own experience being bombarded by images when I was younger of women who look so different from me caused my self-esteem to wane but as I have grown and experienced more of life, the size differential has actually aided in cultivating my appreciation for different kinds of beauty. We cannot use others as the standard by which we measure ourselves, to do so is futile and will only result in diminished sense of self. Why would there be so much variety in our body shapes and sizes if we were intended to only appreciate a fraction of them? Ultimately, if we aim to be a healthy society, both mentally and physically, we must rethink our ideals and strive for more accurate representation of the actual women in our world.


Works Cited

Beck, Laura. “Is This What a plus Size Model Looks Like?” Cosmopolitan. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2014. <>.

Frette, Juliette. “Body Image Backlasj.” N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2014. <;.

Joynt, Sarah. “Beauty Ideals Throughout the Ages – TheFashionSpot.” RSS 20. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 June 2014. <;.

The Mindy Project/ Season 2 Episode 12. N.d. Television.

The Mindy Project/ Season 3 Episode 12. N.d. Television.

People 01 Feb. 2014: n. pag. Print.

People 1 Mar. 2014: n. pag. Print.

“Plus Size.” Urban Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 May 2014. <;.

Victoria’s Secret. Victoria’s Secret. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 May 2014.Summer Style Guide 2014


The Outdoorsman Who?



The most basic and primal instincts, turning rudimentary elements of mother earth into tools of survival.  The outdoorsman is well equipped to handle the barren plains and the densest muggy jungle with only constructions stemming from one’s own desire and sweat.  Many people may consider themselves “outdoorsmen,” but how many could survive off the land for years like generations and explorers before us?  Popular culture today shows us that anyone can grow or become an outdoorsman with the proper attire, scruffiness, attitude, knowledge of survival, and a natural connection to the wilderness.

In “Survivorman,” Les Stroud is thrown into a survival situation in a random environment and films himself along the way for seven days until he is rescued.  He documents his survival techniques so anyone watching can possibly mimic his actions and hopefully improve their chances of survival, if in a similar environment.  Being a popular program on the Discovery Channel, a wide audience is reached of all ages and cultural backgrounds.  Like many other outdoor television programs the host is well equipped with the knowledge of the landscape, even local tricks of ways to survive in the area such as food options he may encounter on the journey.  Les creates shelter, finds water, captures food, and gives us all hope that we too may find success if in a survival situation.  With so much hope, it would be easy to understand if a person who watched an episode found the guts to try and stick it out in the woods for a couple days.  The outcome could be death for a number of reasons or hopefully just a newfound respect for the wilderness and nature.  Knowing one’s own limitations is very crucial in any situation especially survival, so no unneeded problems arise due to carelessness.  Along with knowing personal limitations, it is key to realize that Les is a survival instructor and has had years of experience gaining survival knowledge.  A viewer must look past the glamour and really think about what may not be shown or the less glamorous details including possible death.

Another popular television show on the Discovery Channel is “Dual Survival”.  It basically centers around the same issues faced in “Survivorman” but two men are forced into the survival situation instead of only Les by himself.  Cody Lundin and Joe Teti come from different backgrounds with their own set of survival techniques, helping each other along the way.  Cody is more of a hippy looking character with long hair and is always walking barefoot wearing shorts in every terrain they encounter.  Joe on the other hand is a former Marine and Army Special Operations so as one would expect they clash somewhat when making decisions.  Cody isn’t the military man that Joe is but he runs a survival school in Arizona, focusing on primitive survival techniques.  Even in the most dire looking situations they make it to civilization, no matter how small or rural it may be to accomplish their goal.  Once again difficult survival situations are being completed with ease, making the viewer underestimate the severity of what wrong actions may lead to.  A group of people could view an episode and think that they could do the same thing, especially in an environment their accustomed to.  One wrong turn or misstep could throw them into a life and death situation and things are a lot easier said than done when you’re surrounded by unknowns and unfamiliarity.

A more laughable outdoorsman perception is shown in the “Dr.Pepper Ten” commercial.  (

It shows a long haired man with a big beard living in the woods, using nature to survive while drinking “the manliest low-calorie soda.”   For food he rips a piece of bark off a tree and takes a bite, followed by him screeching like a bird which motivates a hawk to fish the soda out of a lake and drop it in his hands.  He is then shown carrying a log easily weighing thousands of pounds which he intends to create a canoe with, shortly later he is shown be paddled around the lake in the canoe by a black bear.  This is a great example of how outdoorsmen are projected and perceived by popular culture.  He has the look, of scruffiness and a deep almost raspy manly voice.  The connection to the wildlife is what really stands out to me as he has his tricks of survival only a seasoned outdoorsman has.  The commercial really glamorizes the art of survival to the point where it is for comedic purposes and to sell the beverage.

The outdoorsman in popular culture is somewhat of a tough guy, with the ability to overcome dire situations and make do with what the Earth provides in the immediate location.  As Gary Strauss writes “ tough-guy shows also tap into escapism atypical of traditional TV.”  It makes sense to me that these shows are popular as most people live in cities, but we are still creatures of survival and have instincts that run deep in our history.  In Strauss’s article he also quotes Bear Grylls, a noted survival expert on why his show on Discovery ( Man vs. Wild) may be so popular.  He says the show is about “what it brings out in people… People want an inside window on what they have to do.”  It also helps that he does some crazy things like jumping into ice covered water and eating basically anything he can find including insects and other unfamiliar cuisine.

I consider myself an outdoorsman, growing up in Portland with a family that routinely fishes for salmon in the rivers and ventures 30 miles offshore for halibut.  While growing up it was routine to travel to Montana and hike in the woods while fishing in streams and rivers, my fondest memory comes from this time when my uncle and I encountered a bear crashing through the woods while we were fishing in the middle of the stream.  For my family and I it is more about providing for ourselves and the enjoyment.  Being an outdoorsman doesn’t require one to be constantly away from civilization and on the edge of starvation living with what is naturally provided.  A person hiking in the wilderness or a person that goes camping once in a while both can be considered outdoorsmen.  If one was to only judge a person based on popular culture’s portrayal of an outdoorsman, not many would be one.  A person could consider themselves an outdoorsman if they just enjoy being outside.  It is basically impossible for someone to go out in the wilderness and survive off the land without bringing anything from their culture, including basic clothing, a knife, or a weapon.

When popular culture presents an outdoorsman they all have some commonalties.  Their background plays the largest role in the survivor television shows like “Survivorman,” “Man vs. Wild,” and “Dual Survival.”  They all have extensive survival knowledge that they are hoping to pass onto the viewer.  This has the ability to create false hope for someone who thinks they could handle living off the land, when they can watch guys on TV do it so easily.  It’s ok if you don’t have the biggest beard, toughest attitude, survival knowledge, and a natural connection to the wildlife or wilderness because the only thing that matters is if you think you fit in the category of an “outdoorsman.”



Works Cited

Dual Survival. Perf. Cody Lundin, Joe Teti. Discovery Communications , Web. 12 May 2014. <;.


Gary, Strauss. “Tough guys take over TV.” USA Today n.d.: Academic Search Premier. Web. 21 May 2014.


Man vs. Wild . Perf. Bear Grylls. Discovery Communications , Web. 18 May 2014. <;.


Survivorman. Dir. Les Stroud. Perf. Les Stroud. Discovery Communications, OLN, Web. 14 May 2014. <;.


     Jean Piaget was the first psychologist to make a systematic study of cognitive development. He showed that children had different ways of thinking than adults, and weren’t just less smart. Piaget’s theory states that children are born with a basic mental structure that was inherited and evolved over time. This is where he believed all learning is based from. 

      Piaget categorized development in multiple stages. The stage that I am going to be focusing on is the sensorimotor stage. This is the first stage in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, including children birth to 2 years old. This stage focuses on the baby trying to make sense of the world around them, using their sensory perceptions and motor activities. In this stage babies start to develop object permanence. This is a very important accomplishment at this age. It is when the child understands that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen. An example of this is shown in this video of Maya, she is nine months old! 


         In addition to the stages of Piaget’s theory, each stage has additional sub-stages. The sub-stages of the sensorimotor stage are reflexes (0-1 month), primary circular reactions (1-4 months), secondary circular reactions (4-8 months), coordination of reactions (8-12 months), and early representational thought (18-24 months).

     This next video of Maya showcases the coordination of reactions stage. During this stage, the child starts to be clearly intentional with their actions. They begin to explore their environment and often observe and imitate the behaviors of others. This video shows Maya watching me wave, and then copying me. 

She also loves to follow around her big sister and attempt to copy her actions! This age frame is huge for development and so much happens in such a short amount of time. It is so fascinating!

Mirror Essay: The Depiction of Arabs in the Media

Mirror Essay Final

June 1, 2014

Mirror Essay: The Depiction of Arabs in the Media


As a male Arab and Muslim I am used to the many stereotypes that people have about me. These stereotypes are beliefs that have not emerged from real experiences, you know the kind where we observe something enough that we create a stereotype. Rather, most of the stereotypes about me are ones that come from the media. The stereotypes about me as well as the world that I am from are many, including the obvious such as the terrorist and woman hater. However, there are many other stereotypes about people from my culture such as that we act unethically and that we live in a desert with oil wells in our backyard.   It is through the media creation of stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims that many people have seen me in a negative light.

The stereotypes about Arabs are found in many places. There have been many movies that are made that show Arabs as terrorists while I have personally watched one too many episodes of Law and Order where there are Muslim Arabs who are planning a terrorist attack. Of course, one might expect such depictions of Arab Muslims as terrorists as there are Arab Muslims who are terrorists. The concern is, however, that there are just too many depictions of Arab and Muslim people being terrorists that create an image that a majority of Muslims hate the United States and that many would commit terrorist acts against the nation if they could.

It is due to such depictions that many see the Muslims of America as people who are the largest threat to the country. After all, there have been many American Muslim terrorists who have fortunately, been caught before they could carry out their plans. However, the reality is that the Muslims in this nation are actually not the largest threat to the nation in terms of terrorism. According to one news article several years after September 11, 2001 when many Americans saw Muslim as the largest threat to the nation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not agree. In fact, “”The No. 1 domestic terrorism threat is the eco-terrorism, animal-rights movement,” said John Lewis, an FBI deputy assistant director and top official in charge of domestic terrorism” (Schuster). Yet, even with some people believing that American Muslims represent the largest risk to the nation, experts in this area do not agree.

The problem, it seems, is that there are many depictions of Arabs and Muslims that people easily believe and lead them to see us as terrorists. Young people learn from an early age that Arabs are different people and that the differences are negative ones. For example, in the film Aladdin a Disney Studios classic, the first song that we hear has a male voice sing “Where they cut off your ear, if they don’t like your face, It’s barbaric, but hey, its home” (“Racism in Aladdin”). Being a native in the Middle East, I know that people do not have their ears cut off because people do not like their faces. What I do know is that people are executed for crimes and that this seems to act as a deterrence against crimes such as rape and murder.

Aladdin shows negative images of Muslim Arabs in many ways. In fact, according to the Council for Arab-British Understanding, the stereotypes in Aladdin are seen with the moral characteristics of the character. The source states that in the film that “Most of the people-apart from Aladdin and Jasmin-are seen as thieving, violent, despotic, ruthless, and deceitful” (“Arabs and Aladdin-exploring stereotypes”). Moreover, the women are shown in stereotypical ways, the source notes, such as where the women are wearing veils or in belly dancing type dress. The women are also depicted as being either lecherous, the source states, or being subject to oppression. The women in my country actually wear many types of clothing, including western clothing, and many are not oppressed and won their own companies, attend school, and are free to make their own decisions.

In addition to the obvious negative characteristics of Arabs in the film Aladdin there are other ways that the film depicts the Arabs in a negative manner. According to the Council for Arab-British Understanding, “There is a trend whereby the bad characters are darker in colour and have grotesque features in general and larger noses in particular” (“Arabs and Aladdin-exploring stereotypes”). In contrast, the source states, the good characters such as Jasmin and Aladdin, are shown with Americanized accents and have lighter features. Clearly, there are subtle methods that the film uses that can create and perpetuate stereotypes.

Yet, Aladdin is not the only television program aimed at children that has negative depictions of Arabs. In fact, there are many examples of where well known cartoons have included anti-Arab plots and story lines. For example, “In Richie Rich, the hero “outsmarts an outlandish sheik.”  On Scooby-Doo, they “outwit Uncle Abdullah and his slippery genie.”  On Porky Pig “Ali-Baba bound, dumps a blackhearted Arab into a barrel of syrup.”  Bugs Bunny  “escapes from being boiled in oil by satisfying the whims of a sheik with an unnamed goat” (El-Farra). The problem with these depictions of Arabs that are aimed at children, El-Farra states, is that children see the world in narrow terms such as good versus evil and the suggestion is made that it is Arabs who are evil.

It is not only cartoons on television or in film that include negative depictions of Arabs. In fact, there are also many negative stereotypes of Arabs in video games. According to Muniba Saleem “Being an Arab video game character is almost synonymous with being a terrorist (e.g., Dill et al., 2005). Games like Call of Duty 4: Modern WarfareAmerica’s ArmyConflict Desert Storm II: Back to BaghdadDelta Force: Black Hawk DownCounter Strike Condition Zeroand Kuma/War have missions that take place in Middle Eastern settings or in anonymous Middle East-like settings” (Saleem). Having played several of these games, such as Black Hawk Down, I can attest to the fact that video games do have stereotypical images of Arabs, both men and women, such as where women are shown as covered and standing at a distance from men while the men are portrayed as killers that the video game player needs to stop.

While one might argue that the parents of young children who view various cartoons or play video games that portray Arabs in a negative light might try to teach their children that Arabs and Muslims are not all bad people, there is a chance that parents might not speak up. In fact, according to the article “Israeli Diplomat: All Arabs are Terrorist” the Israeli General Ambassador to the United Nations states that all Arabs are terrorists. However, as the article notes “nobody is calling the diplomat, Dan Gillerman, Israeli Ambassador to the UN, a racist or are there demands Fox news be investigated for racism and hatred” (“Israeli Diplomat: All Arabs are Terrorists”). Hence, it seems that no one cared about such comments when we see today that there are many people being called out for racist statements such as Paula Dee, a celebrity chef who used a negative word about African Americans twenty years ago and lost many of her sponsors as a result. Even more recently the billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team made racist comments and this has become national news.

Not only is the problem of racism against Arabs and Muslims a problem that people are not addressing another problem is that the negative ideas about Arabs and Muslims have been learned for many years. In fact, according to the web site Arab Stereotypes there is a concept called Orientalism which is “the acceptance in the West of “the basic distinction between East and West as the starting point for elaborate theories, epics, novels, social descriptions, and political accounts concerning the Orient, its people, customs “mind,’ destiny and so on” (“What Is Orientalism?). Orientalism, the site states, dates back to the time of the European Enlightenment and the time that the Arab world was colonized.

Interestingly, while there have been negative depictions of many people by the white Europeans such as where African Americans were negatively portrayed in the past such as being associated with a “dark continent,” there have also been changes. In fact, the negative depiction and portrayals of Africans as well as African Americans have been challenged. Similarly, the depiction of Native American Indians as uncivilized and barbaric and these stereotypes have also been challenged. One is left to wonder if the failure to challenge the stereotypes of the Arabs and Muslims is partially a result of people not speaking up and because the stereotypes have been deeply ingrained in the minds of many.

Regardless of the reasons why the Arab and Muslim people are negatively portrayed in the media the issue remains that there are numerous negative depictions. In addition to the example of the film Aladdin that gives children an early lesson about Arabs and Muslims, one based on negative stereotypes, there are many other types of films that place Arab Muslims in a bad light. Of course, there are the many action movies that depict Hollywood heroes as fighting terrorists. However, there are also films that are comedies that use Arab stereotypes. A discussion of the film You Don’t Mess With the Zohan states “The portrayal of Palestinians as ugly, dirty, incompetent, stupid, goat loving terrorists was jammed down the viewer’s throat more times than Zohan’s lame hummus jokes” (Kanazi).Clearly, it is not just the action genre in Hollywood film making that includes negative depictions of Arabs, comedy films such as the Adam Sandler film, shows that the perpetuation of stereotypes is found across film genres.

Clearly, the media does stereotype the Arab and Muslim people. While there are many groups that are subject to stereotypes today still, such as homosexuals, women and a wide range of racial minorities, the problem is that with the Arab Muslims, it seems that few people speak up about the negative portrayals. With young children learning negative mistruths about the Arab world and with a long history of such negative depictions, it seems that the negative views about Arabs and Muslims are hard to overcome.


Works Cited



“Arabs and Aladdin-exploring stereotypes.” Council for Arab-British Understanding.

n.d. Web. 12 May 2014.


El-Farra, Narmeen. “Arabs And The Media.” Calstatela. 1996. Web. 28 May 2014.


“Israeli Diplomat: All Arabs are Terrorists.” Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination.

            23 July 2006. Web. 12 May 2014.


Kanazi, Remi. “How Hollywood Portrays Arabs.” Global Research. 27 June 2008.

Web. 12 May 2014.


“Racism in Aladdin.” YouTube. 2 March 2010. Web. 12 May 2014.


Saleem, Muniba. “Arabs as terrorists: The Power of Media Images.” SPS Talks.

7 December 2012. Web. 28 May 2014.


Schuster, Henry. “Domestic terror: Who’s most dangerous?” CNN. 24 August 2005.

Web. 12 May 2014.


“What Is Orientalism?” Arab Stereotypes. 2014. Web. 12 May 2014.

Branding Portlanders

Looking in the Mirrior Essay: Branding Portlanders

by Flannery Smith

Being a Portlander has always been a special identity, and has been a mark of pride for myself that has always been met with certain admiration from others. I still feel connected to the identity, but feel less than enthusiastic about broadcasting it, since recently there has been a “branding” of Portlander’s lifestyles in the media, and it feels as if we are being sold as a novelty on a home-goods network. The media broadcasting has deeper and more serious repercussions as well. The media attention and glorified branding of Portlanders as a creative, artisan community is based in reality, but the exposure has had a negative effect by creating an influx of residents is taking the lower-income Portlanders, such as artists and musicians, who gave the city notoriety, and pushing them out.

In the 90s, Portland was known for being a “weird,” a city with places like the Church of Elvis and the gritty Eastside. Rents were low and the city struggled with crime issues, but creatively Portland was a unique place because musicians and artists could live here relatively cheap, which meant they could work less and create more. In recent years, however, Portland, and Portlanders have been glorified as the the epicenter of the “creative class,” with talented residents, creating the feel of the city themselves, by the creation of small artisanal businesses. It’s become synonymous with environmental sustainability, bicycle-culture, and food carts. This attention has made Portland a very desirable place to live, and in the last five years or so, housing prices and rental demand has increased dramatically. Additionally, neighborhoods that were once run-down and relatively affordable are now in a state of constant gentrification and development, namely N. Mississippi, N. Williams, N. Alberta, and SE Belmont. Strangely enough, the small businesses and artisanal shops that were started in those neighborhoods and made them what there are, are being pushed out because of the rent increases.

All of Portland’s stereotypes have both positive and negative repercussions. Portlanders are concerned with their environmental and economical impact, with repurposing the old to make new, buying locally, going against the grain and being generally aware of the grip that commercialism has on the nation. These examples have all been good for the region, and have been a leading reason as to why the Northwest area is thriving. However, the very nature of these things, and also media attention, have led to gentrification, overpricing, over saturation, and population increase, with little left for the residents who were here in the first place.

Portland’s obsession with making the old new and creating an artisan economy is something that has come out of necessity, what with high unemployment rates matched with independent-minded people creating their own businesses, but the “handmade” nature of Portland has been satirized to the point of jokes and stereotyping. This is shown in the sketch television show, Portlandia, in the video “Dream of the 1890’s”, where they compare the lifestyle in Portland to be that of the 1890s:

…Where kids grew up to be artisan bakers, everyone had homemade haircuts and guys shaved with straight razors…when the economy was in a tailspin, unwashed young men roamed the streets looking for work, and people turned their backs on huge corporate monopolies and supported local businesses…

In essence, these stereotypes are somewhat true. Portland is definitely place they describe, and actually always has been. The negative part of this is not what content the video brings up, but how it brings it up; which is it’s accentuation of this sect of Portland life, through satire. It is in a way glorifying an old way of life and posing Portland as an answer to modern problems. The problem is people from Portland get it, we know this is only a farce of Portland life, but I don’t believe others take it as such. I don’t know how many times I’ve overheard someone in class or on the bus saying “I’m originally from Colorado, but I started watching Portlandia and it seemed like a cool place to move, so I did”. To most people from outside the state, they have heard little to nothing about Oregon, let alone Portland, and only have to go on what popular culture is telling them. Right now, in popular culture, the lifestyle is glorified, and one might say branded.

Using Portlanders as a brand to sell goods is a way that small businesses and other entrepreneurs have exploited the Portland craze. This can be beneficial for them, to have a widened net of interest and more money coming in, and to display what great things can come from the Northwest, but some small businesses are wary of it. They believe that the overselling of the Portland brand is against the fundamental reason they are working here in the first place. To keep it small and unpretentious (Heying 275). There is of course, a balance that needs to be kept between the two worlds, to be proud of what the Northwest can produce, but not to exploit and oversaturate the market (Heying 275).

As a creative, independent individual growing up and living in Portland for 25, going on 26 years, I know it has surely shaped me in some ways. I sometimes wonder if my creativity and passion for art would have been nurtured elsewhere as much as it has been in Portland, and perhaps it has contributed greatly to who I am now as a young adult. I definitely have always fit right in with the typical Portlander’s way of life, always searching for a new creative endeavor and not ever really feeling satisfied with a “normal” job, playing music, riding my bike everywhere, and yes, I have owned chickens (briefly, for the record, it’s not my thing). There is a great benefit to growing up in a place that lets you explore and work with your hands, but there is also something really sad about having your lifestyle broadcast and regurgitated in the media so much it becomes a cute, predictable novelty, and on a more serious note, really decreases the desirability to keep living in a place that feels this exploited.


Works cited

“Dream of the 1890s – Portlandia on IFC.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 03 June 2014.

Heying, Charles H. “Chapter 18.” Brew to Bikes: Portland’s Artisan Economy. Portland, Or.: Ooligan, 2010. Print.

Reflections of College Men

Reflections of College Men

Ben Cassera


One of the most enduring sub-genres of comedic films is the “college” comedy. Examples of this genre can be seen as far back as 1927 with the release of a film, simply titled: College; and continues with the recent release of Neighbors. Though the genre has continued, the characters have remained largely the same, particularly the male characters. Most male characters in college comedy movies exhibit a white, heteronormative, hyper-masculine narrative that does not accurately reflect the diverse nature of the college experience.

The Millennial generation (people born between 1980 and 2000), of which I am a part, is much different than previous generations. For one thing, we are better educated than any previous generation, 34% of 25-32 year olds have at least a bachelor’s degree (Taylor ). Compare this to the Silent generation; in 1965 only 13% of 25-32 year olds held a bachelor’s (Pew). In addition to this Millennials are the most racially diverse generation America has ever seen, fully 43% of Millennials are non-white (Taylor). If we have so many of our generation either in college or having been to college—with nearly half of them being people of color (POC)—why are the characters in college movies the same kind we have been getting for decades?

Let’s take a look at one of the most famous college comedies of all time, Animal House. Released in 1978, Animal House follows the antics of the Delta Tau Chi fraternity in 1962. This film was absolutely groundbreaking, introducing an outrageous “frat’ style comedy that many have since tried to emulate. Given the setting of the plot it isn’t all that surprising that the cast is overwhelmingly white, in fact there is only one named POC character in the entire movie, and he isn’t even a student. This is best illustrated by the famous toga party scene:

Now let’s look at a recent release to see how the representations have changed. Neighbors is a comedy that was released on May 9th of this year. This film documents the feud between a couple who have just had a new baby and the frat house that moves in next door. 36 years separate Neighbors from Animal House and yet the casting is remarkably similar, the majority of the main cast is white.

Racial diversity is not the only thing that has changed on college campuses throughout the years, the acceptance and inclusion of LGBT students has dramatically increased.  There are over 100 LGBT resource centers on college campuses across the country and there are even 38 schools that offer gender-neutral housing options (Henshaw). Despite this the standard male character in college movies is almost invariably straight and gender conforming.

The driving motivation behind many male character’s behaviours in the media is to “get the girl”, college comedies are no different. American Pie 2, one of the first college comedies I ever saw, is a prime example of this. In this film five friends come home from college and attempt to throw the best summer party of all time, with the ultimate goal of having sex with girls. Most of the humor and action in this movie is either a result of or in pursuit of girls. American Pie 2 isn’t the only movie to do this: Van Wilder, Road Trip, Revenge of the Nerds, all of these movies (and many more) center around heterosexual men chasing women. This in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, but it presents a very one sided representation of college men.

While gay men are almost never main characters in college comedies, it’s not uncommon for straight male characters to be put into gay situations for comedic effect. American Pie 2 and 21 & Over both have similar scenes in which two of the straight male characters are forced to kiss each other in order to resolve tense situations. In the case of American Pie, the two men agree to kiss because they think it will help them in their goal to “get the girl”: The comedy in the situation comes from the awkwardness or discomfort the characters feel from the supposed violation of masculinity that same-sex activity represents to them.  This representation of masculinity is another stereotyped representation of college men.

As I have mentioned before, the characters in college comedies are fairly similar in terms of ethnicity and sexuality, however there is another trait that is often synonymous with these types of characters: a sort of exaggerated masculinity. One of the most common ways that this hyper-masculinity is displayed is through the physical body of the actors portraying the characters. Many times you will find characters like the titular Van Wilder who are impossibly handsome and well-muscled, who are surrounded by male characters that are also handsome and muscled. These characters might be pretty to look at, but they are in no way an accurate representation of real life, which can be easily seen by walking around any college campus.

The problem with the portrayal of college men as white, straight, and masculine by these films isn’t because the characters are white or straight or even hyper-masculine, many men are. The problem is that these are the ONLY representation of college men that we have in the media, effectively ignoring those men that don’t conform to some or all of these characteristics.  This isn’t to say that any of the movies that I have mentioned are bad; in fact I love most of them. They are however, formulaic and unrealistic in their approach to college aged male characters.

Work Cited

Henshaw, Ashley. “LGBT College Statistics.”. Campus Explorer, n.d. Web. . <;.

Taylor, Paul . “Milliennials in Adulthood.” . Pew Research Center, 7 Mar. 2014.            <;.

Taylor, Paul. “The Rising Cost of Not Going to College.” . Pew Research Center, 11 Feb. 2014.       . <;.


Gamblers & Risktakers


& Risktakers


Many of us have done it in one way or another. We placed a bet on whether our sports team is going to win, we’ve experimented with casinos, or we challenged our friends to some obscene task just for the laughs. Gambling has always remained within the corner of historical cultures and will continue to be a part of our society in the future. From ancient Hindu texts, to mixed religious perspectives, to the way gamblers are perceived today – the role of the gambler, one who is willing to take a risk of their own goods for a chance to win additional money or material goods, is often considered as scum, as it is seen as a weakness of character. But today, state-sponsored gambling is a national pastime. Sure, people are often initially against those who are seeking get rich quick schemes and hoping to strike it rich, especially when they are wagering their own money that they probably can’t afford to lose in the first place, but times have changed, and so too has the gaming industry. Even so, has the perception of gamblers based on the increase of media portrayals change the way the public view those who gamble, or does it simply fuel the negativities associated with gamblers?

We see it at every store, we notice them at the corner of restaurants, and you can expect them at bars. The lottery has become so widespread and popularized that commercials have been airing on television and you often hear about the mega winners of these lotteries in the news. It may come to a surprise then that the first recorded sign of a lottery was the keno slips from the Chinese Han Dynasty between 205-187 BCE. It was theorized that this form of lottery was used to help fund major governmental projects like the Great Wall. Indeed, you may have heard that the lottery is a tax on foolish, so it is understandable that the view of those who play are often not held to very high esteem. They are also believed to be a tax on the poor, as state lotteries can consume about 9 percent of homes income for the less fortunate. State lotteries were once illegal, but today they exist in nearly every state.

But, there are many different forms of legal gambling, that I am especially more accustomed to. For me, it all began in high school, playing cards were a way to pass time during lunch and everyone else was into it as well. People would wait their turn for a chance to win some extra money from their friends. When I turned 18, I would also frequent one of the local casinos, where I tested my luck with blackjack and poker. It eventually became a bit of a hobby for me, albeit an unhealthy one (at times) and movies like 21 only fueled my habit further. The film 21 (2008) is a story about six MIT students who train to become experts in card counting for blackjack. The main character is an intelligent student with hopes of getting in Harvard medical, however he doesn’t have the funds necessary to pay for his tuition. Card counting is a legal method of using math to increase your odds at gambling that is frowned upon casinos. Often times they will ban you if they believe to be counting cards – but nowadays it becomes more difficult as they increase the number of decks and often take note of your habits and so on. But the film showed it was possible to beat the “house” (although it was a poor method), there are ways to increase your chances of winning greatly if played over a long period of time. Honestly, I took it upon myself and my group of friends to learn card counting quickly, but discipline is a character trait that new gamblers often lack. What is shown in “21” is exactly this. A promising student sets out first with the goal that he would only win enough money to win for school, but once he realizes how easy it is for him to win, he takes things further because he gets sucked into the lifestyle and quick cash. Along with a lack of discipline, the characters who gamble in this show are often portrayed as mischievous, compulsive, and often times it is showed that gambling leads to excess drinking and even illegal activities. That is basically what Las Vegas was founded upon. It began with organized crime, which eventually developed into much of the original casinos that still operate today. Las Vegas is now known as “sin city” and is the American mecca for gambling – which only contributes to the notion that gamblers are seen as degenerate and corrupt. However, this film offers a different explanation for the role of gamblers, those who do it well are considered intelligent, great with numbers, and able to play many different roles of character.

In the end, it is my opinion that blackjack still continues to be a game of luck and chance, even with enhanced methods of knowing what moves to make. It is a game that pits players against the dealer or the “house”. I learned this the only way gamblers know somehow – we eventually lose. But gambling was still a fascination; it was only my method of doing so. I turned my focus towards Texas Hold’em, a poker game that allows players to play against other players – long gone is the time where the casinos will take my money, but other people. The game is simple yet it has an immense learning curve.

The film Rounders (1998) starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton is one of my favorite movies. It revolves around a reformed gambler who returns to playing poker to help a friend pay off loan sharks. Of course this story would not be as enticing if the Matt Damon wasn’t a Harvard law student. His friend however, Edward Norton just got out of prison and needs money, so of course he plays poker. Edward Norton is perhaps the poster child for those against all forms of gambling. He was an inmate, he cheats, and he borrows money, is associated with gangsters, and is a terrible friend for all those that look out for him. He puts himself first and is only concerned with getting quick cash, even when he has money to pay the people he owes back, he doesn’t do so because having a larger bankroll allows for his chance to win even more money. Such is the cycle and allure of gambling. You can start with nothing, win a bit, enlarge your bankroll, bet your bankroll in hopes of winning more money quicker – and if you fail you just start over or dig yourself in a hole even further. Like I said, discipline is a trait many gamblers have, but if poker has taught me anything it is the opposite. Poker players are a different breed of gamblers, those who play well rely on their ability to read (or able to spot a tell if another player is bluffing), and have a large strategic method of playing in their arsenal. They are intelligent enough to calculate percentages at a level much greater than blackjack. As mentioned, Matt Damon’s character is a Harvard law student who has the skill of learning people’s habits, tendencies, and can excel in social scenarios. He portrays the discipline of many poker players, where patience is a key factor. He was able to quit poker when needed (for a time) and does not rely on cheating to beat his opponents. Along with Matt Damon’s ideal character and Edward Norton’s morally weak and lacking of self-control, there is another character, Joey Knish who plays poker as a job. He plays poker enough to pay his bills, is good enough to have constant income, and does not succumb to greed for hopes of getting rich. He strictly plays enough, and well enough, to pay the bills like a regular job. I have a close friend similar to this. He plays poker frequently like a job and is also using his winnings to pay for his tuition while in college. Now, usually this is frowned upon because people think that gambling is gambling, but poker is different.

Most films like “21” or more recently, “Runner Runner”, focus on the dangers of gambling (while somehow promoting it at the same time), often times emphasizing the underground world of gangster types and illegal activity, but if anything, the film “Rounders” acts as an advertisement that encourages gambling. Since the films release, it has become a cult classic among poker players and reveals many truths about the game.

Ocean’s Eleven (2001 Remake) is another film that puts a different twist on the meaning of “bringing down the house”. The star-studded cast revolves around a group of mischievous, slick, and intelligent individuals who plan to rob 3 casinos in Las Vegas simultaneously. The film begins with Danny Ocean (George Clooney) who gets released from prison. After his release, he begins the task of hiring 11 other individuals who can help him with his heist. His first stop is to a backroom where he begins to play poker. Working with Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) on the fly, they are able to clean up the table simply by coercing the other players decisions with small talk.

This is reminiscent of the film Rounders and easily sets the precedent for the rest of the film’s ability to portray these characters as smooth operators with elaborate plans. The fact that this film showcases real casinos acts as an advertisement for Las Vegas, specifically, the Mirage, the MGM Grand, and the Bellagio. The whole film allows for the audience to root for these band of misfits, even though they are knowingly committing very serious crimes. Such is the power of the media on an originally frowned upon activity.

According to the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre (OPGRC), a study was conducted to pursue the attitudes of gambling based on the advertisements on television. The results were less than surprising, showing that an audience who was exposed to gambling had more positive attitude towards gambling and even showed intentions to gamble at casinos within the year. This is especially true for adolescents.

The media continues to portray gambling as harmless entertainment, and the old perception that gambling is destructful, dangerous, and easily addictive is quickly becoming replaced with the notion that gamblers are intelligent, slick, outcasts who are really individuals who should be looked up to rather than down upon. According to the Southern Cross University, the problem lies in the exaggerated and inaccurate portrayal of gambling, where our nations youth are perceiving gambling as normal, and the depiction of these characters, especially those of young adults, depict an idol that people attempt to imitate, much like your regular sports athlete.

In conclusion, it is easy for the older generations to realize the harm of gambling, even to notice the exaggerations and inaccuracies that the media portrays, but to much of the youth, the media is only supporting negative habits to our youth who cannot discern the difference. In the end, the majority of all those who participate in gambling come out at a loss, especially once you realize that Casinos, and all gambling in general, total for one of the largest profit industries in the world.

Racing Through Hurdles

Racing through Hurdles

What defines an athlete? Is it someone who takes part in an organized sport? Someone who dedicates there time to do something they love doing. It can also be someone partaking in physical activity. An athlete can be even someone who is abusing the system of the sport by using performance-enhancing drugs. Athletes have come a long way in history. “The ancient Olympic Games began in the year 776 BC, when Koroibos, a cook from the nearby city of Elis, won the stadium race, a foot race 600 feet long” It was said that, “this was the only athletic event of the games for the first 13 Olympic festivals” Track and Field History and the Origins of the Sport (n.d.). This is why I chose the topic of Track and Field, because the first events of history began on a simple footrace. I chose to do hurdling because I myself use to do hurdling all throughout middle school and high school.

Using an Athlete as an opportunistic way to take advantage of giving them endorsements to create revenue for their company.

“Sports were well-suited culturally and ideologically to the emerging capitalistic structure of 19th century America”(Mchesney). Popular culture really defines athletes who are good at the sport as someone famous. Athletes get famous from the media, tabloids, and news. They are models for huge companies that pay them to sport the brand logo. The reason why athletes are models for brand companies is to create revenue for the brand. It makes people buy the brand logo of what the athletes are wearing. Popular culture idolizes professional athletes of their hard work and dedication. An example athlete that I care to give an example about is Lolo Jones who is an Olympic champion 100-meter hurdler. Lolo Jones is widely known as a hurdler in Track and Field and has won indoor track and Field and nationals 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012. In an article I was reading the author said that Lolo Jones “has the athletic resume, telegenic persona and overall life story needed to help her access a plethora of business opportunities on and off of the track” (Starr). Huge companies such as Red Bull and McDonalds endorse her. Endorsements help spread advertisements for their company. “The best endorsement deals work to match a corporate brand image with an athlete’s image in order to target consumers with similar values and increase brand awareness” (Opendorse n.d). This is how Popular Culture defines an athlete, not just for their ability in a sport but for their ability of how well they can sell a product.


Defining an athlete in Popular Culture: Cheating the system by taking performance-enhancing drugs.

People idolize athletes in a way that they are pressured to stay on the top and always perform well. Once athletes get into performance enhancing drugs they are stripped away from their opportunities like the company that endorses them. Performance enhancing drugs is a drug, which is normally a steroid to enhance an athlete’s performance in the sporting event. The first people to actually abuse performance-enhancing drugs were actually the ancient greeks. Back then this wasn’t cheating but simply giving them a push to do better in the competition. The drug they use back then was actually a doping drug. Throughout history there were many who used different types of drugs to get an athlete through a competition. A link of the history through which athletes performed and almost fatally died from using mixes of drugs. “The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), the governing body for the sport of track and field, become the first international sporting federation to prohibit doping by athletes” (Sports and Drugs n.d)

Now that I think of when a good athlete comes along in track and field I think if they are on performance enhancing drugs. Although I haven’t heard in awhile from the media, tabloids, or news if an athlete is abusing a drug to perform well. Thanks to previous outbreaks of athletes confessing that they were using drugs during a competition it sort of highlights if more athletes are performing really well because they are also doing the same thing. It’s upsetting to think because you think of that athlete you thought won because they were just good and practiced enough. But in the end they cheated and it makes cheating look easy.




Sources In Order:

Track and Field History and the Origins of the Sport (n.d.)

McChesney, Robert W. “Media made sport: A history of sports coverage in the United States.” Media, sports, and society (1989): 49-69.

Starr, Terrell Jermaine. “Lolo Has Golden Future Despite Leaving London” News One For Black America (2014).

Opendorse (n.d.)


Photo of Lola Jones





Sports and Drugs: Historical Timeline History of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports “Founding Fathers on Religion in Government.” 22 Feb. 2008



Climbing to Higher Heights


I am a Rock Climber, always pushing myself to reach that next hold. Reaching farther even though I am exhausted.  It takes strength in my core, my arms, my legs, and even my fingertips. I fall from 20 feet in the air only to get back up and try again. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to push yourself higher than you thought you could. I am inspired by people who have the dedication to rock climb and who have climbed routes I can only dream of. This is because I know how hard they work. In media, rock climbers are portrayed as strong and independent people, I only wish we saw more of them in movies, magazines, and online.

I found a source on YouTube from National Geographic showing three rock climbers pushing the boundaries of climbing. They do this by climbing outdoors without ropes over deep water.

As you can see from the video, rock climbing is dangerous, but it is filled with so much adventure. That is how climbers see it as well. Every risk is a new adventure waiting to happen. I have seen that mindset in many climbers that I know and in myself as well. Its the feeling when you are 20 feet in the air, arms sore from holding on but the end of the route is in your sight. You see the what you have to do, let go of the rock that is holding you up and leap. You might fall but then again you might not, you might just reach the end of that route. That is why I rock climb and why so many other people climb as well, for that feeling of accomplishment when you take that leap and you achieve what you have been trying to get for days. I see this portrayed in the video above, they know the risk but it does not stop them. Thats how rock climbers are and how they are displayed in media, in rock climbing magazines you can read stories on the accomplishments and adventures that different rock climbers have finished.

On the negative side adventure and risk can also be seen as reckless. Some people look at the video above wondering how someone could possibly think that the risk is worth it. They don’t see it as adventure, they see it as dangerous. We take special care in being safe though. We have harnesses, ropes, helmets, and padding. Like I have said before, there will always be risk but we do take safety precautions to avoid those dangers as much as possible. I was impressed by the amount of media and articles I found online discussing safety in outdoor and indoor climbing. I have attached a link below to help further the knowledge of safety precautions and tips in rock climbing.

Many times having the confidence of padding below or being in a harness is the push you need to climb higher.

There are many types of Rock Climbing but the two main types are indoor and outdoor. The second video I found on YouTube shows indoor rock climbing and the different skill levels among all aged rock climbers.

Indoor rock climbing has set routes and fake rocks to climb on. Don’t get confused though, it isn’t any easier than outdoor rock climbing. In this video it is easy to see that there is technique to rock climbing, a specific thought process on how your are going to reach the next hold. The video also shows different routes. Routes are a set section of rocks marked with a color and you can only use those rock. Each route is graded from beginner (VB) though extremely difficult (V12+).  It can be frustrating at times that you can only use certain rocks but that is part of the fun.

In the third resource I found, it is a movie about two friends that take on climbing some of the hardest routes in America.

I think this movie showed the real spirit of rock climbing. It showed the dedication and hard work it takes to get to the point of being able to climb. There is nothing easy about it, but there is so much fun to it even though it takes such hard work. I have never seen people use their hands or have technique like they did in this movie. This movie would have sparked the interest in more than just rock climbers, it would have been a great movie to be made popular. It has the risk, adventure, and story line that many moviegoers would appreciate.

In my experience with rock climbing I have met the most skilled, dedicated, adventurous, and loving people who share the same love for rock climbing as I do. When I go to the gym to practice I meet a new friend every time. We work on routes together and teach each other new techniques. I don’t want to group all rock climbers together but every rock climber I have met shares this passion for the sport that is overwhelming. They all are caring and ready to share their knowledge. There are many videos on YouTube that show the basics of rock climbing. I think using YouTube is a great way to get information about rock climbing out to the public.

Recently I was in a Rock Climbing competition at Portland State, It was one of the best experiences. You could see the passion and dedication in everyone. It didn’t matter if someone had more points than you, you still cheered them on and hoped they would make it. I actually won the women’s beginner in the competition but something didn’t feel right. I felt as though it didn’t matter how well I did because I was just a beginner. The research I did for this blog changed that though. It made me realize that I am a Rock Climber, no matter what skill level I am at. I have the dedication to keep working at this sport. I have a desire for adventure. I want to take risks even though I know the dangers. I have technique and skill that many people don’t have. Most importantly I have passion for the sport. This is also how other rock climbers are, passionate and driven. In the media, rock climbers are independent, strong, and influential. I can only be thankful that the group I associate with is positively represented in the media. The only downside is that this information about rock climbers is not popular in the media, I wish there could be more available to the public. We could do this by having more ‘famous’ movies discussing rock climbing culture. I want the sports publicity to grow so others can see the enthusiasm and fire rock climbers have.  I have always admired this sport and have always searched long and hard to find videos and articles that explain my feelings towards rock climbing. When I found those videos and read those papers I knew that I wanted to be a rock climber. Now, here I am, just like the people I wanted to be so bad.

Arab Muslims Misrepresented in Popular Culture

    When the twin towers fell on September eleventh so did the remaining good views that some people had of Arab Muslims. This reflected into popular culture. The popular culture perception forced law-abiding Arab Muslims to deal with hate crimes, racial profiling, discrimination, and bullying; Arab Muslims are mostly commonly portrayed as violent, untrustworthy, and as terrorists.

    In Eefa Shehzad’s Ted Talk she stated that out of 1000 films from 1896 to 2007 that contained Middle Eastern Arab references 12 were positive, 52 were neutral, and over 900 were negative. In Disney’s Aladdin the movies original opening song was “Oh, I come from a land, From a faraway place, Where the caravan camels roam, Where they cut off your ear it they don’t like your face, It’s Barbaric, but, hey, it’s home.” These lyrics made it sound like Arabs were violent and like the song said, barbaric. Aladdin had a lot of other misrepresentations of Arabs in the movie. Another example of how Arab men are violent would the merchant selling fruit. He wanted to cut off Princess Jasmine’s hand when she gave the little boy one of his apples. Not only was the merchant very aggressive and violent but the guards were as well. The guards were very harsh toned and were running around with swords ready to stab someone. This made Arab men seem so harsh, short tempered, and violent to the audience. If the audience paid close attention to the characters they would see that the Arab men, not including Aladdin, were drawn to look grotesque with big noses and evil looking eyes. To me and a lot of other Arabs in the world we see and take offense on how our people are constantly misrepresented in popular culture. Being seen as a violent person in movies like this makes people automatically generalize that we are violent people running around wanting to cut off limbs off other people.

    Movies like Aladdin misrepresent and offend Arabs but so do TV shows. A very popular show called Homeland gets a lot of controversy when it came to some of the content that was presented about Arab Muslims. One of the shows main characters is a U.S. marine named Nicholas Brody. Brody was captured and tortured, in which the audience inferences in Afghanistan or Iraq, then returns home as a Muslim. When people found out that Brody became a Muslim he became the enemy. He was instantly thought to be a traitor leaking information all because it didn’t make sense that he was Muslim. When he finally came home he was assigned a CIA officer, Carrie Mathison, to watch him and keep him under surveillance because the government didn’t trust him and thought he became a terrorist. He became untrusted not only by his country which he served but also his very own wife the one who is supposed to be there for better or for worse. She goes as far as to through the Quran on the ground and yells at him for converting. From the moment that Brody was seen as a Muslim he was instantly seen untrustworthy. In Melissa Biogon’s Ted Talk she points out how 1.72 million people who watch Homeland saw and learned that Islam is violent religion and has terrorism surrounding it. She always talks about how the show plays off Islamophobia, destroying people’s ability to view Islam as a religion of peace. Homeland sends messages to the viewer that Muslims are not to be trusted because they are the enemy and are a threat to this country. It is the actions of the individual that tells you wither that person should be trusted. A person’s religious status or ethnicity doesn’t define their trustworthiness.

    Not only are Arab Muslims seen as violent and untrustworthy, they are also seen as terrorists. One of the main popular culture artifacts that really target Arab Muslims as terrorist are video games. Arab Muslims are always portrayed as terrorist in video games. They are either the evil henchmen or the main threat in the game. Games that portray Muslim this way are Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, America’s Army, Conflict Desert Storm II: Back to Baghdad, Delta Force: Black Hawk Down, Counter Strike Condition Zero, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, and KumaWar. In these games the enemy is the always the stereotypical Arab Muslim that has a turban, with long loose clothes, dark tan skin, and beard. The Arabs are always portrayed as suicide bombers, angry mobsters, and car bombers. In Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare when your character has a group of Arab Muslims and goes to a Russian airport shooting people in the name of Muhammad, the main prophet of Islam. In Medal of Honor: Warfighter the enemy is an Arab man that has brown skin, a long gown, a thick beard, and an AK-47 in his hands shooting at you. A scene that is in most of these types of first person shooter games is where your character is just walking around and a crazed Arab man comes running at you in old dirty clothes and bare feet with a AK-47 in his hands shooting and screaming in Arabic and saying religious Muslim sayings, such as “Allahu Akbar”. These are just a few examples on how Arab Muslims are seen as terrorist in video games. After playing these games Arab Muslims feel like a plague and should be purged from society.

   Even though through the history of western media Arabs have been shown as the bad guy there is a glimmer of hope showing that Arabs can be good. One of these would be from the movie called “escape plan”. When Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone characters were trying to escape it was the Arab man, named Javed, that gave them the intel and helped a man held against his will be free. He also gave up his own life to see that the mission was a success showing that an Arab would go as far as to die for something that is right. He became a hero. He is a great example of an Arab Muslim that put his life on the line to protect his friends. Arab Muslims can finally root for a person that is like them that was finally the “good guy”. Hollywood aside there is also a more real example in the media with a show called “All American Muslims” where its shows a Muslim acting completely normal just like anyone else in the world. This show follows a Muslim family and you can see even though they have a faith they are not just the basic bomber terrorist. It shows that they also live a normal life just like every other American family hence the name all American. This show gives people a different perceptive of Arab Muslims. They can relate to their families and everyday lives. They get to see that Arab Muslims aren’t the people that are shown in the movies, TV shows, or video games.

       As an Arab Muslim I constantly feel like popular culture is attacking me for my beliefs and ethnicity. When I went to my family’s home country, Jordan, I felt as if I was constantly watched at the airport. The workers were very aggressive and strict with us. When I went through the scanners I had to get searched by not only one worker, but two. My dad was picked for “randomly selected” to searched by the airport security. I have multiple friends whose parents have very racist and prejudice views about who I am. When I tell them that I am an Arab Muslim I feel a very tense environment, as if I was no longer welcome in their house because I would do something to them or their child. Through high school mainly I was constantly called terrorist or bomber. I had people purposely disrespect my religion by dressing up in tradition Arab clothing and pretending to blow up the busses. I am constantly seen as an untrustworthy person and a threat to people’s safety because I am an Arab Muslim.

    Just like the towers being rebuilt so can the reputation of Arabs as the history started showing that Arabs are not all black and white that they are people too and not just mindless explosions. Even though the hatred flows through the veins of western media which ignites the anger of the western world which then get directed at all Arabs there is some hope getting passed the blind bias. When in reality about 99% of Muslims ignore the call of the extremist such as Al Qaeda. It is up to the people to see that not all Arabs are violent like the merchant in Aladdin, or untrustworthy like the Marine Nicholas Brody in Homeland, or even a terrorist like modern day video games suggest. For when it comes down to it Muslim or Arab we are all the same we are all human even though modern media displays otherwise for before Arabs it was the Asians and before them it was Russians all shown as “the bad guy” but now seem only human not just good nor bad.


Eefa Shehzad’s Ted Talk: “Middle Eastern and Muslim Stereotypes in Media : Eefa Shehzad at TEDxYouth@ISBangkok.” YouTube. YouTube, 12 Mar. 2014. Web. 10 May 2014. <;.

Disney’s Aladdin: Aladdin. Dir. Ron Clements. Perf. Scott Weinger, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin. Walt Disney Productions, 1992. Film.

Homeland TV show: <i>Homeland</i>.  Showtime . 2011. Television.

Melissa Boigon’s Ted Talk: “Islamophobia: Melissa Boigon at TEDxGallatin 2013.” YouTube. YouTube, 22 Sept. 2013. Web. 11 May 2014. <;.

Escape Plan: Escape plan. Dir. Mikael Håfström. Perf. Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger. N.a, 2013. Film.

All-American Muslim TV show: All-American Muslim. O’Connell, Jennifer, and Dan Peirson. TLC. 2011. Television.

Archaeology: The intimate connection to our past.

Samuel Brigham-McLellan



            I have chosen my future profession, archaeology, as my topic for this essay. In the media and throughout recent history we have been subject to many conflicting ideas and misconceptions about what we actually do. Some simply have emerged out of the popular and exciting blockbuster movies that play off of the mystique and the romance of a career spent digging up lost relics. Some come from the equally exciting, and largely entertainment based world of cable tv, such as the discovery channel and others. These elements do try to instruct and inform people about the new and recent discoveries of the day, but ultimately have to cater to ratings and maintain viewers, which leaves a rushed feeling to the professional archaeologist. Sometimes local discoveries can become national news and will lead to a polarized and public discussion, in most cases with the proper treatment of human remains from archaeological sites. In many cases the public opinion of archaeology has also been influenced by archaeology’s admittedly shaky past when it comes to the more sensitive areas of ownership rights of artifacts and treatment of burials. This paper will attempt to explain and analyze some of the more common artifacts of archaeology to appear within popular culture these days. Archaeology is a scientific discipline like any other, we are not looters or plunderers. It is not an easy profession, it is one where “aha moments” do not arrive without hard work and dedication. We take pride and respect towards the living history we unearth.

            When I say I am an archaeologist, without fail I will be asked if I have a fedora and a bullwhip. The Indiana Jones movies came out in the 1980’s and star Harrison Ford as the swashbuckling, sexy, and chiseled action star that most archaeologists are quite keen on emulating. The three movies have the same plot devices throughout, with albeit different settings. Indiana jones in the mid 1930’s is trying to locate a lost artifact because as he adamantly says “It belongs in a museum!” He is then seen as a PHD with a doctorate in archaeology, and teaching in a bowtie and glasses, the methodology and ethics of the archaeological world. This will then feed into the main plot where an artifact of biblical origin is on the verge of being by the Nazi party and Indy is the one to save us all from certain doom. So where is it right and where is it wrong?

The most obvious out of the way first. We do not shoot Nazis, nor do we protect or unearth occult doomsday weapons. However there could be a small teaspoon of comparable experience in this. Unfortunately there are people out there who loot artifacts from archaeological sites for the insane amounts of money that black market artifacts will fetch. Figures are hard to come by, but some vessels from Mayan sites can fetch upwards of 10 to 20k easily in the black market. Archaeologists are invested in doing justice to the past, whether it be through proper respect for preserved sites, or protection and conservation of sites that may be threatened. So in a sense we do defend these resources. Indiana jones is a work of fiction but it does deal in truths from time to time. Archaeology deals with the scientific method and a careful methodological approach to the sites we dig. Context is key for this discipline, if we don’t know where something was from, than we might have well looted it ourselves. So though he may have been rushed by the Nazis at times he did take notes, and use scientific approach to his methods. In this clip we can see some of his insight into the fact that we don’t just run into the jungle and dig the coolest looking building we can find.

            Besides the obvious fact that the series is intended to entertain, one can also figure that it was somewhat accurate to the time it was set. From the early antiquarians to the archaeologists of the 1930’s or so, the world was a larger place and less had been discovered. The past was truly a goldmine of undiscovered wonders, and there was less control over where things ended up. The bulk of Egyptian art and artifacts ended up in England and France, having been looted by the invading armies of both countries. The west has had an unfortunate history of stealing the histories of other countries, and as late as the 1930s. So Dr. Jones’ cry of “it belongs in a museum” rings true to two important lessons. One that we do wish the best for these artifacts, but we must acknowledge the shaky past that we came from. However professional Archaeologists all over would likely call him a plunderer.

            While I will freely admit that I have acted this scene out a dozen times, the professional in me still has to think that normally you would take days or even weeks to merely photograph, map, and possibly digitally render the hell out of this stupendously preserved and unlooted find. And good god why would you handle it that aggressively!? But any professional will balk at the cinematic interpretation of their job. For example no doctor would take Scrubs at face value. The advantage in this though is that we can have a sort of cheerleader that keeps even the layman interested in what we do, as well as an action hero we can dress like on digs. (myself included)


            With this in mind there are ways that archaeology can help to both redeem us in a way for our past and remind us of what progress we have made. Here is one such example. In 1991 human remains were found in New York City when construction on a new building broke ground. Initially, as always, foul play was suspected, however when numerous full skeletons were exposed and the age of the bones were determined to be quite old, Archaeologists were called to do a survey and excavation of the construction site. What followed was the exhumation of some four hundred and 20 men women and children. What it turned out to be was a historical cemetery dating back to as far back as the 1600’s when NYC was formerly New Amsterdam, a Dutch colony. It had been known as “the negro’s burial ground” as it was traditionally reserved for slaves, but following the abolition of slavery in the north had become lost in time. The arguments for both sides ended up in the public forum and finally the area was turned into a memorial, in which all the bodies and grave goods were reinterred in their resting place. This got national coverage due to the surprise of such a find in an urban sprawl. It brought an uncomfortable but needed splash of reality that the evils of slavery were countrywide, and not solely in the south. More importantly it brought peace and respectful closure to the lives of the people who were buried there. They ended up with a proper memorial and the country saw the benefits of a proper archaeological survey.

            Controversy did arise however out of this event. Commonly it is thought that archaeologists are grave robbers, and the difficulty of this is that in a sense we are.


Courtesy of the General Services Administration.

Of course there is a matter of perspective in this case, we are not merely digging these people up for the sake of doing it. Ideally the remains should be dealt with the utmost care and respect. Knowing that they once were a living person. Sadly a lot of what archaeologists do is salvage sites that are under threat of destruction, in an attempt to learn what can be learned before development of the land proceeds. So rescuing and repatriating these remains before their inevitable destruction is a way to do justice to these people’s final resting place. As well as from the scientific point of view; where human burial practices provide a tremendous source of knowledge about how our ancestors lived, and died.

In many cases in US archaeological work, human remains will stop the dig immediately. In 1990 the house and senate passed the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, affectionately known as NAGPRA. This act has three main parts to it: 1 that federal agencies and federally funded agencies must return any sort of cultural item found on a dig to the living descendants of that tribe; it sets procedures for any dig that happens to discover human remains, namely giving the decision to proceed or shut down the operation to the lineal descendants of the people being excavated; and finally it forbids the transportation of human remains without permits and regulations.

The stigma of looting and grave robbing did not simply come out of thin air though. As mentioned before, the history of archeology is unfortunately littered with stories of looting, ethnocentric ideas of who “owned” artifacts and burials. Prior to forensic analysis, study of the body within a tomb was limited to placement of the bones, and usually considered secondary to the grave goods that were associated with said body. So it is fair that people would still believe that we are simply trying to dig through the chaff to take away the cool stuff, and certainly this is a fair perspective for the person who’s great great grandfather you are digging up. But what Indiana Jones and the Nova shows leaves out is the sheer mountain of paperwork and note taking that goes into an excavation. This exists to make sure that real, positive, and tangible knowledge comes from this, granted, destructive and invasive act. Like any science there is a discipline behind it.

Thankfully because of this there is now a sort of common goal for good among the archaeological community. NAGPRA and the strong arm of the law, combined with the ethics of the trade mean that people who practice archeology in a bad way or are known for pseudo-science rarely make it out unscathed. Simply put one bad apple will spoil the bunch, in any professional doctrine, especially in the digital age, news of someone acting wrong spreads, fast. Two recent events in the news triggered severe outcry from the archaeological community and brought our struggle into the limelight again, thankfully both ended with us looking good, and the perpetrators looking very very bad.

The National Geographic Channel had attempted in 2014 to produce and air the show “Nazi War Diggers,” a show that featured salvage archaeology of military graves, specifically Nazi graves, the difference however in this case was that they intended on recovering artifacts for sale to museums. The critics of the show argued intensely that the methods that were employed in the “excavation” of these sites was sloppy, and done quickly for show without care or the proper paperwork necessary. This was coupled with the intention to sell the artifacts following their recovery made the show something closer to looting. There is a huge difference between excavating a grave that is in danger of immediate destruction and then repatriating the goods and artifacts; vs “recovering” unsung graves by untrained amateurs who pose for photos with skeletons. This is a prime example of a bad apple spoiling the bunch, and as such, this show was panned and protested by nearly everyone in the archaeological community, and then later canceled before it was even aired.

The community of archaeologists are devoted to the protection of the past, and sometimes stories we find will tug at our heartstrings.


In 2013 a Belizean construction company bulldozed the central structure of the site of Nohmul, all for road fill. A site that has stood at 100 feet tall for more than 2300 years ended up illegally ravaged for road aggregate. The situation is ongoing, legally the law is on the side of the ancient Maya, and the site was protected under Belizean law, despite being on private land. Though it is a recent development, so a solution could be years in the future. This picture is particularly telling of the debate and dilemma we face here. Obviously if we worried about disturbing the past to make room for the future we would have no modern development. Heman being change, the cities of Chicago and London for example have both burned to the ground and are unlike what the ancient inhabitants would have recognized. The site of the Boston Tea Party is now in the middle of a street due to infilling, life and people move on.

This is natural, in order for people to progress into the future we must slowly move away from the past. But in quoting the old adage “those who don’t learn their history are bound to repeat it,” we see the wisdom that can be gained by looking to those who came before us. But more importantly we must give proper respect to the people who came before us. If the site of Nohmul had contained the remains of your ancestors you would feel the pain and frustration at the disrespect towards your kin. In the end however, the human story is a shared struggle for survival forward into the future, and archaeology deals with the most tangible elements of our past, the objects we leave behind. By doing our best to respect the past while moving forward, we help shape the story of our history, and preserve the critical links to our past. To me the most important discovery we make as archaeologists is that people all over the world are all at their base level, people, practical and fallible, to understand them is to understand ourselves.






African Burial Ground.2010. Retrieved from The New York Preservation Archive Project.org

African Burial Ground: History and Culture. (N.D) Retrieved from the National Parks Service Online.

Brockman, Andy. (2014) National Geographic Buries Nazi War Diggers. Heritage Daily, Archaeology News. Retrieved from

Hall, Mark A. 2004. Romancing the Stones: Archaeology in Popular Cinema. European Journal of Archaeology, Vol 7(2), 159-176

Jones, Patrick E, Stevenson Mark. (2013) Mayan Nohmul Pyramid In Belize Destroyed By Bulldozer. Retrieved from

Kutz David.1994. The African Burial Ground: An American Discovery. USA:Kutz television for US General Services Administration.

Roumpani, Flora. Hudson, Polly. 2014. The evolution of London: the city’s near 200 year history mapped. Retrieved from

Spielberg, Stephen. 1981. Raiders of the Lost Ark. Paramount Pictures, Lucasfilm. USA

Spielberg, Stephen. 1989. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Paramount Pictures, Lucasfilm. USA

Burns, Kevin. 2012. Ancient Aliens: The Mayan Conspiracy. Prometheus Entertainment. USA

Glassman, Gary. 2001. Nova: Lost King of the Maya. .WGBH.USA

US Government Printing Office. Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Regulations. Retrieved from The US Government Printing Office.;c=ecfr;cc=ecfr;sid=abefc428407c704d63fef71637939827;idno=43;region=DIV1;q1=NATIVE%20AMERICAN%20GRAVES%20PROTECTION%20AND%20REPATRIATION;rgn=div5;view=text;node=43%3A1.

Beauty in Women

Dishon Sierra

May 5th 2014

Mirror Essay

Beauty in Women

We are in a battle with beauty. Every day each individual comes in contact with a billboard, a magazine and a TV show. Most of the time it shows someone beautiful as the main image and then individual looks back at themselves and compares. We do it naturally maybe not all of the time but we do. The ideal of beauty is tearing us apart. It is making us hate one another, and makes us want to be someone else just so we can have that beautiful image. The definition of beauty changes throughout generations for instance the beauty back in the 1500’s compared to now is different likewise in this day a beautiful look in the 1500’s would not be beautiful to us now. Society tells us how to be beautiful and the qualifications that it takes to be that one word. “We live in a society of billboards and ads, Photoshop, and Botox. We are trained to believe that size two is perfect, while most healthy women in America fit into a size 12” (Zucker.) My thoughts on beauty have been influenced by the media. The media would like us to think that beauty is what is in the inside but really it is what is on the outside or they would have a not so attractive person on the magazine covers or TV shows. We get our definition of beauty everywhere and it defines who we are today, beauty is dictated by magazines, clothing brands and social media.

Bored at the doctor’s office? Grab a magazine. Bored at your siblings/friends hair appointment? Grab a magazine. Waiting in a long line at the grocery store? Grab a magazine. We have magazines to keep us busy and we end up coming across some interesting things. Magazines are filled with great illustrations and articles to keep us busy. There are different types of magazines targeted at certain people such as the sports illustrated magazine which mostly targets at those active men but not always. Then there are those hunting and fishing magazines as well. What you will find most sitting on one of those tables waiting for a meeting, or your appointment will be a People magazine, Cosmo magazine or a Seventeen Magazine. To sum up what is included in those magazines are gossip, beauty, advice, or how to make a guy like you. When a women comes across a handful of magazines she is more likely to choose to read People or Cosmo over sports/hunting magazines because these magazine are targeted at women mostly younger women. The bright colors and the little comments on the cover of magazines attract women’s attention to pick up that type of magazine. I know when I am waiting for something and there is a stack of magazines I indulge in Cosmo or see what’s up with celebrities in the People magazine.


Magazines like Cosmo have one thing in common and that is having attractive people on every page of the magazine that is not being taken with an actual article. The front cover always has a beautiful and extremely photoshopped celebrity or women on it. Magazines like this are filled with ads on cosmetics and how to be thin and maintain being thin to basically look like those girls on the covers. I mean who wouldn’t want to look like that if that is what the media is portraying as beautiful.

This article is on point with the affects magazines have on women but mainly young women. Friendly Advice Beauty Messages in Web Sites of Teen Magazines main idea is that beauty is a requirement and we have to actually work for it in this society. Fighting the urge to quote the whole article this one sentence pretty much explains how youth of our society are getting the information that we have to be a certain kind of beautiful. “ a youth oriented society, where images of adolescent beauty are prevalent in magazines, television, the internet, and in billboards and other advertisements. Whereas in the 1800’s adolescent beauty was views as an internal characteristic demonstrated by strength of character, good deeds, and purity of heart. It is now predominantly perceived as physical perfection” (Labre). This identity of being beautiful makes me feel like I have to wear makeup in order to even be looked at by the opposite sex or considered pretty by my peers. It makes me insecure with having acne and makes me feel like I have to run to the pharmacy to get that prescription gel that I saw in the magazines to get rid of just one pimple. When I was in high school I subscribed to three different magazines and they were all like Cosmo with advice on makeup, boys and clothes. I grew up reading magazines and the media feeding us with information that beauty is what the girl in the magazines and billboards look like. Sometimes I feel pressured by the society to look a certain way but yet I am so immune to it that I consider it normal which is how society is today. Beauty pushes us so hard that we end up cracking.

Back in the day beauty was more focused on intelligence and the grace you held, if you were graceful and you accomplished positive things you were seen as beautiful. Today you must look a certain way to be beautiful and it does not matter much on your internal self.  The media in magazines enforce our outer self more than internal self. Urban dictionary and other definitions say there is external and inner beauty that each person carries, but yet we do not recognize that. The society does not listen to that. It is all about what is on the outside and the inside comes later. This article summarizes what I am trying to say overall with teens, magazines and the media. “Research also indicates that girl’s exposure to the beauty ideal disseminated by the media is related to an increased perception of the importance of beauty and a reduced satisfaction with personal appearance. In a study conducted with adolescent girls, Tan (1977) found that exposure to televised beauty ads increased the girl’s perceptions that beauty, sex appeal, and youth are important to men. A study of female college student revealed that exposure to the idealized images in advertising raised their comparison standards for attractiveness and lowered their satisfaction with their own attractiveness”(Labre). What is included in these magazines makes young women think that they need to look like this to get guys and so beauty is not just looking good for us but it is looking good for other people. Ads make women look down on themselves, the company may not be doing it on purpose as they are just trying to sell their product but it hurts women. There are many other things that contribute to beauty in young women and how we see ourselves and how society wants us to look like that is just one attribute.

Walking through a mall you walk past clothing shops, shoe shops, etc. then you pass by a bright pink store that has ‘sexy’ mannequins set up with bras and underwear all over the store. It is an extremely inviting store that looks so pretty and glamorous. Victoria Secret is an extremely popular lingerie store that is booming fast and now sells clothing and cosmetics. They advertise mainly underwear and bras on their commercials. Now this brand is trying to sell their clothes and yes they do sell them and fast but how? On commercials, ads, fashion shows, magazines, everywhere there are thin, beautiful and sexy girls (models) that are half naked flaunting off the product. Girls like these models are perceived as beautiful and yes they are but media makes it seem that it is okay if you do not look like this because you can fix this with make-up, Botox and dieting. Being beautiful means you have to be thin and wear sexy and appealing intimates. I admit that beauty sells but what is it teaching our society and the next generation of what it means to be beautiful? Media is delivering content that shapes our emotions. I shop at Victoria Secret all of the time and yes the way the advertisements are made is what leers me into buying those expensive bras. That maybe guys would want me more if I shop there kind of thing and that is disappointing to think that. Many teen girls think that because that is how media targets young girls. Beauty is essential in this day of age and people will go to huge lengths just to be known as being beautiful.

“No matter what else a women does, no matter what else her achievements their values still depends on how they look”(Miss Representation). I came across an amazing documentary on Netflix that portrays the media and the misrepresentation of them in the society called Miss Representation by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. It is so inspiring and can be emotional in some parts. This documentary interviews actual young women and their stories in how they feel about the media and how they feel pressured in looking a certain way. Media has a lot to do with how young women see themselves and what beauty means today. What catches our eyes when we look at these models in the Victoria Secret ad? The body image. We see these glamorous girls and wish that we could look like that; we think they are so beautiful because they are thin and have no body fat on them whatsoever. It is interesting how we see something on paper and want to be like that. The media influences how we see ourselves and our body image. We are not considered beautiful if our bodies do not size up to our faces or if our faces do not size up to our bodies. One of the young girls interview in the film loved her curly hair but she straightened it for school because that is what people want from her that is what is beautiful. Girls measure themselves up to these models and hear things from their peers that make them feel like they aren’t beautiful enough and so they have to recreate themselves just to be seen. Miss Representation gives a great insight on people’s feelings with the media and the way they portray being beautiful is hurting society’s younger women. This documentary is amazing and so powerful that causes emotions to come it. Beauty is a big deal today and extremely important to all ages in society and media is the number one contributing factor.

Social media has a huge impact on beauty. There is this one extremely popular application where you can post image after image over anything you want and people like it or comment on it. This application is called Instagram. There are food pages where they just post food, building pages, fashion pages, fitness pages and then personal users as well. I do not want to forget the beauty pages. Those and the fitness pages kind of go together and are used the same way as well as the celebrity pages. By typing in ‘beauty’ in the search engine it will pull up several pictures referring to beauty and chances are the user of that picture is a ‘promoter’ of beauty and is filled with who is beautiful and how to be beautiful. I came across this one article on the Huffington Post that is incredibly shocking. This social media was first used as I quote “Instagram was designed to be an online photo-sharing app that let users pimp-out their pics with cool filters and then share them.” Now what is going on with instagram by mostly young teenagers is I quote “People will actually vote for who they think is the least attractive in the comments, and whichever girl’s name is written the most will be awarded a big fat X drawn across her face”. Now there are blogs that are all about beauty on the inside and that is great but what Instagram blog do you think teenagers are more appealed to? Instagram posts have gone extremely far and are now breaking down girls’ self-esteem. In my opinion if this happened to me it would completely ruin me, I mean people should not vote on someone being attractive or not. What is being attractive anyways? Who makes the rules for that?

People may say that ‘you don’t need make-up, you are fine without it’. But does society say that? Do the media say that?  No, not exactly. If they showed people on magazine covers wearing no make-up then chances are others would do the same but it is not like that. Beauty is defined by the media, the people close to us think beauty can be natural but media says something else. Beauty is a constant battle with the media and oneself. Miss Representation documentary shows young, normal girls that feel pressured to look like someone else and feel that they have to fix themselves just to be labeled a word. The media is portraying beauty all wrong. Beauty should be internally, the way you carry yourself and the way your mind works. Everyone sees beauty in someone, having to change for someone should not be applauded. We are all unique in our own way and that is what the media should portray beauty as.










Becker, Hollee. “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep, But Instagram Is To the Bone.”The Huffington Post., 4 Apr. 2013. Web. 2 June 2014.

Labre, Magdala Peixoto, and Kim Walsh-Childers. “Friendly Advice? Beauty Messages in Web Sites of Teen Magazines.” Mass Communication & Society 6.4 (2003): 379-396. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 18 May 2014.

“Miss Representation | Home.” Miss Representation. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2014.

Netflix: Miss Representation. Director Jennifer Siebel Newsom, 2011

Zucker, Temimah. “Society’s Standards Of Beauty Will Get Old, But Being Comfortable With Yourself Never Will.”The Huffington Post., 23 Apr. 2014. Web. 19 May 2014.



Asian Americans in Popular Culture

Asian Americans in popular culture are both underrepresented and misrepresented. Asians are often portrayed negatively in the media. They are portrayed very differently from actual Asian Americans. The common Asian stereotype is that Asians are smart, nerdy, unpopular, and foreign. It is rare to see an Asian American as a lead character. Asian Americans are usually seen as supporting characters or background characters. There is a lack of Asian Americans in popular culture. Movie and television roles are dominated by Caucasians. Since Asians are underrepresented in popular culture, society’s perceptions of Asians are greatly influenced by the media. They gain an idea of how Asians act and speak by what they see in the media. A negative portrayal of Asian Americans gives society the wrong idea of how Asian Americans really are. It influences society to gain negative opinions and assumptions about Asian Americans. Asian Americans are just like everyone else. They shouldn’t constantly be represented as over-achievers, unattractive, geeky, socially awkward, and weird. The media needs to improve the representation of Asian Americans and stray away from using stereotypes.

The media often portrays Asian Americans as foreign. The television show 2 Broke Girls has an Asian character that speaks in a foreign accent. A common Asian stereotype is that Asians are foreign, have accents, and have ethnic names. In the movie Mean Girls, the Asian characters didn’t speak English. Asian Americans often portray characters that act like they haven’t adapted to American culture. The media’s representation of Asians being foreign gives society the idea that all Asians are foreigners.

Asian Americans in popular culture are usually not taken seriously and their characters are less significant compared to Caucasian characters. In 2 Broke Girls, the lead characters constantly make fun of the Asian character “Han” because he is socially awkward, weird, and foreign. The lead characters are superior to him and he is an outsider. The lead characters would make racist jokes about “Han” and he would not defend himself. This sends out a negative message. It gives the idea that there is nothing wrong about making racial jokes. It is common to see Asian Americans portray characters that don’t fit in with the rest of the group. Their characters are often belittled and ridiculed by the lead characters. It is rare to see an Asian character that is popular, attractive, and well liked.

It is common to see Asian Americans being portrayed as villains. The movie The Hangover has an Asian character named “Mr.Chow” who portrays the villain. It is common to see Caucasian characters portray the good guy and Asian characters portray the enemy. It is rare to see an Asian American being portrayed as the hero. Also, all the lead characters are Caucasian. Asian Americans are often supporting characters and rarely lead characters in movies and television shows. Not many Asian Americans can be seen as role models because of the way they are being represented in the media. There are not enough Asians being represented positively. Asians are underrepresented in popular culture.

Asian Americans in the media are often seen as being intelligent, geeky, and perfectionists. The movie The Internship has an Asian character named “Yo-Yo Santos” who is a nerdy over-achiever. Asian Americans in popular culture normally only have one side to their character. They only flaunt their intelligence, but their character doesn’t have much of a personality. Their characters aren’t well developed. Asian characters aren’t seen as interesting and appealing as non-Asian characters. The non-Asian characters have more of a personality and are well liked. “Yo-Yo Santos” has a peculiar personality compared to the other characters. “Yo-Yo Santos” constantly punishes himself whenever he makes a mistake because he doesn’t want to disappoint his mother. Asian Americans are normally seen as having tradition Asian families in popular culture. Asian families are depicted as being conservative, strict, and foreign. Asian families in popular culture aren’t seen as being Americanized. The media has a poor representation of Asian American families. My parents grew up in a different country, but they speak English well and have adapted to American culture. They aren’t extremely conservative and strict like the Asian parents portrayed in the media. They don’t expect me to be an over-achiever. The media over exaggerates the way Asian families behave.

Another misrepresentation of Asian Americans is that they are seen as the “model minority”. Asian Americans are often perceived as being affluent, well educated, and highly intelligent. “A consumer study tested the response of non-Asian consumers when shown an advertisement featuring an Asian model and a specific product category.  The study’s initial hypothesis suggested that products associated with expensive up-to-date technology are more favorably received when presented with an Asian model than with a non-Asian model (Cohen, 1992). The results reasonably demonstrated that the “model minority” stereotype influenced the consumer attitudes toward Asian models in product specific advertising.  Consumer reactions were in fact more favorable toward Asian models than non-Asian models in technology specific advertising (Cohen, 1992)”. The “model minority” puts Asians on a pedestal and depicts them as being perfect. The portrayal of Asians as the “model minority” is unrealistic. It is rare to see Asian Americans portray average characters in popular culture. Asian American characters normally stand out and are very different from the Caucasian characters. Although, a high percentage of Asian Americans are well educated, it doesn’t mean that they have a nerdy personality. I know many Asian Americans who are very studios, but can also fit into different stereotypes such as party-goers, jocks, musicians, fraternity boys, sorority girls, etc. Smart Asians shouldn’t always have to be portrayed as being geeky and unpopular.

The YouTube channel Wong Fu Productions represents Asian Americans well in their videos. They produce comedy sketches and short films. Their cast is primarily Asian Americans. They portray different characters such as dancers, teenagers, college students, parents, professionals, etc. Wong Fu Productions doesn’t have any of the characters portray Asian stereotypes. They don’t portray characters that have foreign accents like the Asian characters seen in popular culture. None of the characters are shown being belittled or ridiculed. They are shown as being equal to one another unlike how Asians are represented in movies and television shows. Their characters are well developed and have interesting personalities. The characters in Wong Fu Productions are far more realistic than the Asian characters that are shown in the media. With Asians being underrepresented in the media, it’s great to see an all-Asian cast. Positive portrayals of Asian Americans would prevent society from perceiving Asian Americans negatively. I think Wong Fu Productions is a great example of how Asian Americans should be portrayed in the media.

The stereotypes of Asian Americans portrayed in popular culture influences how society perceives Asian Americans. Enforcing Asian stereotypes in the media can cause negative effects. Negative portrayals of Asian Americans in the media can promote racism and ignorance. I have encountered people who judged me based on Asian stereotypes. I have had people ask me if my parents speak English because they assume my family is foreign and that they haven’t adapted to American culture. It is common in popular culture to see Asian families who are foreign and the parents don’t speak English. I have also had people assume that I’m great at math just because I’m Asian. I’m not good at math and I know many other Asians who struggle in school. Most people assume that Asians are over-achievers and flawless when it comes to academics. I feel that the entertainment industry needs to improve the portrayal of Asian Americans. There should be more Asian Americans as lead characters and have roles where they break out of the Asian stereotype. A new television series from ABC called Fresh off Boat will be premiering this year. Fresh off the Boat is about a Taiwanese family adjusting to living in America. It is the first television series that features an Asian family in American television. This is the first time that all the lead characters are Asian. I think this a great improvement in the media because Asian Americans have been underrepresented for so long. There should be more shows in the future that have Asian Americans as lead characters. Hopefully, Fresh off The Boat will represent Asian Americans well and send out a positive message.

Works Cited

2 Broke Girls. “2 Broke Girls – Mama Han”. Youtube. 4 November 2013. Web. April 20 2014.

Cohen, J. (1992). White consumer response to Asian models in adverting. The Journal of Consumer Marketing, 9(2), 17-27.

LolHangoverMoments. “The Hangover – Mr. Chow Meet Up”. YouTube. January 10 2010. Web. April 20 2014.

Media Action Network for Asian Americans. Restrictive Portrayals of Asians in the Media and How to Balance Them. N.p. Web. 15 May 2014.

National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium. (2005). Asian pacific Americans in prime time: Lights camera and little action, 1-13.

Taylor, C. & Stern, B. (1997).  Asian-Americans: Television advertising and the “model minority” stereotype.  Journal of Advertising, 26(2), 47-61.

The Internship. Dir.Shawn Levy. Perf. Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson. 20th Century Fox, 2013. Film.

Wong Fu Productions. “Is it Creepy or Romantic?”. YouTube. February 19 2014. Web. May 26 2014.

Single Heterosexual Female

Single Heterosexual Female

Throughout our daily lives we have many roles that help define who we are. I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a niece, a cousin, a friend, a student, an employee, a colleague, a Portlander, a yogi, a Christian, Caucasian, heterosexual, single, an American, and I encompass numerous other roles in my life. While many of these characteristics are an important part of who I am, I will further discuss what it means to be a single female and how the media represents this category. The popular culture artifacts that will be used to further explain how single females are portrayed in the media are “Sex and the City”, “He’s Just Not That Into You”, and a YouTube video that went viral called, “Shit Single Girls Say”. These three artifacts have representations of two competing views that the media exposes and creates stereotypes of single females; one is of women who are strong, confident and perfectly content being single and the second stereotype is a representation of single females whose main goal is to search for love.


“Sex and the City” was a television show on HBO, created by Darren Star and ran from 1998-2004 with two subsequent movies in 2008 and in 2010. This show followed four single women living in New York City who represent four different views on what it means to be single. Each of these characters are self-reliant and date a wide range of men. The central character is Carrie, a modern independent woman who pushes the boundaries on views of how a woman in her 30’s should live. Although she is satisfied with her single life she continues to look for a partner, not necessarily a husband, and returns to a former lover and tumultuous relationship multiple times. Miranda is a tough, direct, and straight to the point lawyer who puts her profession in front of her love life and believes all women need to be independent. This character thinks realistically rather than emotionally. Samantha is a unique character in that she puts herself first and does not believe in monogamy. She is unashamed of her actions, loves sex, and will voice her opinion on sex and relationships proudly. Her character mirrors what many might think a typical bachelor would act like in that she is promiscuous and apathetic towards love and dating. The fourth character, Charlotte, is a hopeless romantic that believes there is one person out there for everyone and has opposing viewpoints on relationships and singlehood as the character of Samantha.

The show “Sex and the City” seems to have somewhat of a cult following of women, and it is of my personal opinion that this is because it broke boundaries of what was typically shown of single women in the media. It gave women four different characters that are relatable to a large portion of single females, discussed human struggles, and empowered the single lifestyle rather than shaming it. Although the aim of the show was to follow these women as they find love in New York City, their happiness isn’t dependent on choosing either a career or a marriage, unlike many other postfeminist shows, (Arthurs, 2003). Instead od demeaning singlehood, it celebrates singlehood. In season 2, episode 4, titled, “They Shoot Single People, Don’t They?” the New York magazine portrays Carrie in a negative light using the title, “Single & Fabulous?” The magazine uses a poor test photo of Carrie smoking a cigarette without makeup as a representation for single women claiming that being single over the age of 30 is disgraceful and something women of a younger age should be careful of becoming. As this episode continues, the women come together supporting each other breaking the stereotype represented in that magazine, proudly claiming that they are indeed single and fabulous and do not need a relationship or marriage to be validated, they have their passions, career, and each other which is more than enough.


In this show, sex is also openly discussed by the women, and sex outside of a monogamous relationship is common. The characters promiscuity is not hidden. Each character is financially independent and are strong in their own ways. Many could criticize that the characters do not embody what feminism is meant to stand for since even though they are independent the storylines are about these women finding men, however, it shows a different side of what a single woman can be. For example, the character of Samantha is interesting as her stance on sex and relationships is very different than what may be represented in other forms of media and how society may think a single women should behave. The video below is a compilation of Samantha’s viewpoints on sex and relationships. She openly discusses sexuality, her love for sex and has very little filter. For instance, as proclaimed by Samantha in the video, “I will not be judge by you or society, I will wear whatever and blow whomever I want as long as I can breathe and kneel.” Although it may be vulgar, she is proud and unwavering in her beliefs that it is perfectly normal for any woman to be sexual and secure with herself, which is not something often celebrate in the medias representations of single women.

As shown in the above video, this character is an interesting topic to explore because she has an firm opposition of many social norms. She is highly independent, confident, and strong. Her openness about loving sex challenges many cultural ideals. She doesn’t believe in the idea of marriage, doesn’t want to have children, and questions the idea of monogamy.


The second cultural artifact is a romantic comedy movie released in 2009 based on a best-selling book by Greg Behrendt called “He’s Just Not That Into You”. The book was created as a self-improvement book for single women, based off of an episode of “Sex and the City,” to advise women that they should stop making excuses for mediocre relationships, and if the men these women are dating are not making a true effort that they are “just not that into you” and you should move on. Although this movie was entertaining and showed some truth in dating through a comedic lens, it’s main theme was women were searching for love, as this is somehow an innate calling women have and must follow. The opening scene of this movie, provided in the video below, is an example of how each of these women are in distress because they have not found love, and are making excuses as to why prior love interests didn’t work out. These women appear to have the desire to find someone and do not appear to be content and confident in being single. Instead they are trying to find a sense of happiness in finding a relationship. As shown in this video, scene after scene is a broken hearted adult woman being supported by her friends as she is confused as to why she cannot find a partner. Each of them blame the male suitor for “not be ready” or “scared of commitment” instead of reminding them that they do not need to find happiness in finding love.

The main character in the movie, Gigi, is a single female who is looking for love and is portrayed as hopeless in her search. She is naïve in that she doesn’t know how to “play the game” of dating and appears, in my opinion, to be weak-minded. I find it intriguing that the creators of “He’s Just Not That Into You” chose to put Gigi in this light of being naïve on her grand search for love. Yes, it is easy to get lost and confused in the dating world, but there is so much more self-awareness involved that this character didn’t have. This character was so hopeless that she needed the advice of an independent single man to help her recognize that her aimless search was misguided. I can see how women can relate to this movie such as, going out on a first date and thinking everything went well only to not hear from them later and making excuses as to why a potential dating partnership ended. This movie can contrast what “Sex and the City” represented because even though in “Sex and the City” the women did have love interests a prominent theme through the series is that it is ok to be a single female, and this autonomy is what they thrive on.

A final example of how single females are portrayed in the media is a YouTube video that went viral with almost 8 million views called, “Shit Single Girls Say.” In this video men dress as women and mimic in a sarcastic fashion, what they think are common conversations among single women. I highly suggest people to watch this YouTube video and think about what the intension and ideas they are trying to communicate.

I find the video to be hilarious and is a great representation on stereotypes the media has of single females. Many of the conversations revolve around finding “hot guys” and the contradiction of how many women don’t agree with marriage/relationships and other just want that fairy tale happily ever after. However, this is a very small glimpse of what being a single female in like. From my experience, it may be true that many women are searching for love, but there are many women who are working hard to build careers, travel around the world, and gain life and world experience.

Through each of these three popular culture artifacts there are some commonalities. There are the strong, firmly independent single females such as Miranda and Samantha from “Sex and the City”, and the hopelessly romantic type of character played by Charlotte from “Sex and the City” and Gigi from “He’s Just Not That Into You”. Then the YouTube video represents each of those categories in a humorous way.

Works Cited

Arthurs, Jane (2003). Sex and the City and Consumer Culture: Remediating Postfeminist Drama. Retrieved from:

Cellgene (2011). He’s Just Not That Into You Beginning Scene [YouTube video]. Retrieved from:

Cole, Derrick (director), Hovick, Jenn (director), & Ludwig, Brittany (director). (2012). Shit Girls Say [YouTube video]. Retrieved from:

H., Kirsty (2011). If You Love Samantha Jones, You’ll Love This [YouTube video]. Retrieved from:

King, Michael Patrick (Executive Producer). (1998-2004) Sex and the City [television series]. United States: HBO

Kwapis, Ken (Director). (2009). He’s Just Not That Into You [motion picture]. United States: New Line Cinema



Looking in the Popular Culture Mirror Essay-Haley Moore

Haley Moore
May 30th 2014
Looking in the Popular Culture Mirror

Although not always the case, I feel that dancers are for the most part inaccurately portrayed in the media, because there is so much more to dance than one would think based on social media artifacts. After analyzing three different media portrayals of dancers, the show So You Think You Can Dance, the show Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, as well as looking at the fad of Zumba, a work out based style of dance; it would seem that dance is all about looks, body type, as well as “tv personality”.

The show So You Think You Can Dance has a nation wide audience. Its purpose is to entertain the public. The first few episodes are taking you through the audition process where each dancer that is auditioning preforms a solo in front of the judges, and the judges then decide if they will put them through to the show or not. When they air the auditions on TV, they show both really talented dancers, but also they show dancers that are not very good at dancing.
The reason they show these bad dancers in my opinion is because people find it funny, and the judges make fun of them; so it’s a part of the entertainment aspect. I feel like it is interesting that they make fun of dancers that audition who are really bad at dancing. Those people obviously felt confident enough to audition, and I feel like these dancers just show that dance is up for interpretation. Who really is to say what dance is good or bad, it’s all up to opinion. I find it rude that they broadcast these dancers in an embarrassing way rather than just cutting them from the competition and moving on. I think the dancers that they make fun of just goes to show that there are so many styles, and if you feel confident in what you do you should go for it.
After the audition process, they choose twelve girls and twelve guys to preform on the show. I notice that most of the girls on the show are pretty and have really fit bodies. This is something I feel is misinterpreted in the media because not all dancers are stick skinny and gorgeous, but that is really all you see being portrayed on shows like this and such. That being said, I do love the fact that all the dancers on this show seem to have the passion and drive behind their dancing. Each week, the contestants will preform a dance and then the public votes on which dancer they think should stay in the competition.
I remember in one season, there were two finalists that were both girls. One of the girls in my opinion had better technique within her dancing, but the girl who ended up winning had the personality for a TV show and entertained the audience so in turn, she was the winner. I find it interesting that a person with the “TV personality” would win over the person who is a better dancer in my opinion.
One show that I feel really miss-portrays people in the media is Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader: Making the Cut. I feel this way because to me, all this show is saying is that if you want to make it as a professional dancer in the dance world, you HAVE to be pretty and skinny. There is actually a section on the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader website called “eye candy” (, 2012). It is a section where the dancers are videoed in a swim suit, posing, with music playing in the background.   

I also find it somewhat degrading to the dancers on the show with the skimpy outfits they put the girls in and such.
The coaches on this show are the ones that make me cringe! They will easily take a girl with has a nice body over somebody who has amazing technique and years of dance experience. I watched an episode from last season of Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and a girl got kicked off, on TV in front of millions of people, for being too “fat” and not looking good in their uniform. To me there wasn’t any fat on her body! I just find that unbelievable! If you have a true passion for dance, and you’re good at it I don’t think you should be punished for having a body type that doesn’t fit “the look”. This coming from someone who feels like I could never have a chance at professional dancing purely because of how my body is. Not saying I’m fat, I just don’t have “the right” body type. I won’t even attempt to make myself get into the professional business because I don’t think I could handle the critiques.
The motto of the raging popular culture fad, Zumba, “shake, shake, shrink. The most fun and effective work out, ever.” Founded in 2001, Zumba Fitness is a global lifestyle brand that fuses fitness, entertainment and culture into an exhilarating dance-fitness sensation (, 2008). All the instructors that have taught classes that I have taken, make you feel like you are free to just be yourself and have fun! I love Zumba, it is one of my favorite ways to get a good work out in. It is so great to just let loose and not worry about what other people might think of me; not to mention the fact that it does not even feel like a work out. You do not even focus on how tired you are or how many burpees you have left to do; you just dance it out and have fun, then before you know it an hour has past and you just burned four hundred calories ! I know a lot of people make fun of Zumba just because it seems sort of cheesy, but I guarantee if they tried it they would have a blast! The commercial purpose of Zumba is to make people get a great work out in and feel great about themselves. When you make people feel good about themself and help them be more healthy, they will pay money to come to your gym and work out! I think this type of dance is generally shown in a positive way, because it welcomes people of all shapes, looks, sizes ect. And encourages them to just have fun, try it out and be yourself. If you mess up or feel like you look funny, it doesn’t matter, because this style of dance is just purely for the person who chose to take the class. I think it’s a great confidence booster for those people who maybe don’t want something so intense.
In conclusion, there are many different styles and interpretations of dance. If you feel like you have a passion for something, do not let things you see in popular culture media turn you away from that. In comparison, if you feel like something portrayed in popular culture looks like it could be fun, try it out! Although popular culture and media surround us in our day to day lives, we do not have to be consumed by its influences.

Gay culture in the media

Luke Fontaine
Mirror Essay

I grew up living the American life. My dad was in the air force, my mom was a stay at home mom for the most part of my childhood, and we lived in a good catholic home. There, however, was one part that didn’t fit into the American dream. This particular part was like a cloud hovering over, not sure what was going to come out of it until finally when I realized, and told my parents that I’m gay.

At first it was difficult for my mom to come to terms with it. This vision of what she wanted my life to be like, one that we talked about, but now will never come true. My dad was surprising relaxed about it. At first he thought that it meant that I wanted to become a girl, which to me made it even more surprising with how relaxed he was, but after we explained to him what it is to be gay; I’m happy being a boy, I just like other boys. What I think was the hardest for my parents though was knowing the hard road it is to be different. The adversity I would have to face for just being who I am. The only things I knew about the gay life style where what I saw on tv and in the media. At the time I came out as being gay, there wasn’t much presences of the gay culture in the media. Most of it controversial, and now that I know better, ignorant.

Being gay use to be portrayed as a lesser person in the media. The media put out this image that there was something wrong and abnormal with gay people. Having such a negative portrayal in the media sparked violence and hatred from people who misunderstood. Many gay men use to be “gay bashed” just for being who they were. Already facing a hard lifestyle having such an image in the media only lead to more hardship for gays. Matthew Shepard was a gay youth who had faced the hardest road. He was a gay college student who back in 1998 who was beaten and killed for being gay. Two of his classmates targeted Shepard and beat him, which lead to his death, just because he was gay. (Mathew Shepard Foundation). Gay people have a history of being discriminated against in awful ways all because of their sexual orientation. There was this idea in the media that there is something wrong with gays, something that was unnatural and needed to be fixed. Worst off, they were seen less as their straight counter parts.

One of the biggest media forms we see in our current times are television shows. The most iconic and media changing trend I’d recognize with the gay community would be the running of the sitcom Will & Grace, circa 1998 to 2006. The sitcom was focused on two roommates in New York, one a gay man the other a straight woman, their friends, and the gay lifestyle. The sitcom brought up gay culture and put it into the living room of Americans. Using jokes and the comedic theme of the show they spear headed the change of gay media. The show pushed the boundaries of gay media in the open with clever lines in their show like “[Will and Jack have bought a place in the country and are now trying to escape their crazy neighbors]
Will: Come on, Jack, let’s try the back door.
Jack: Will Truman! Coming on to me at a time like this!”(Will&Grace).
I find it to be a creative way how the producers of the show decided to introduce this tidbit of gay culture in the media. They had a lot of fun developing a show that was campy and light hearted. Slowly throughout the series as Will & Grace was on the air, they started to introduce more serious topics. In their own way the show fought for gay rights, and posting the image of gay culture in the media. They were the ones who put out in the media, we’re gay and we deserve equal rights and opportunities.

Imagine Me & You is a movie that cares a great deal of meaning to me when it comes to gay culture. First the movie pulls at my heart strings. It’s about two women who meet, fall in love, and fight to be together. Like most movies this one throws a few curve balls at you, for instants one of the woman is married to a man. In the start of the movie she claims herself as straight. This is what I really connect to in the movie, watching her through her struggle of realizing that she’s gay, and coming out. Coming out is this far off idea that’s hard to relate to for whose who haven’t had to go threw it. Straight people don’t understand the confusion of realizing who you are, and getting the strength to be that person. This movie shows all that. It shows a woman who has spent years thinking she knew who she was, she set her life up trying to live as who she wanted to be, not who she is. The woman has to give up everything when she meets a woman she falls in love with. Being gay isn’t always understood, nor easy, and that’s what I love about this movie it’s relatable to those who have gone through this adversity. Having a successful movie like this out in the public is a big step for gay culture. It’s developing the culture and adds resources into understanding this lifestyle. Imagine Me & You makes the coming out process real to provide a resource to straight people who don’t understand and relatable emotions for those who have gone through it. (Imagine Me & You).
Another new revenue we can see the impact of gay culture being portrayed is in print. Out Magazine is one of my favorite magazine subscriptions. They focus on many different aspects of gay culture from fashion to gay rights movements. Out magazine always have great features in it with gay celebrities focusing on their success, the road they’ve traveled, and the support from the LGBT (lesbian Gay Bi Transgender) community. The magazine has a great style section, giving tips for new looks, and how to perfect your transition of your casual day time look into a fun but sleek evening attire with the help of a few accessories. Working in the fashion industry and being a patron to trends it’s a nice change to see in a magazine that men can also be a fashionista. Usually men have low expectations with only a pair of jeans and a t shirt acceptable enough, and accessorizing being “too much”. Out magazine is much more than a fashion magazine though. They also stay updated on important news, most of it being focused oh equal rights, but first and foremost they have the idea of the informed reader, telling stories that are important to know in the media and politics. Out magazine is changing the culture of gay men, they’re stepping up and showing the importance of staying informed, and professional. I felt before there weren’t high expectations for gay men, but with the magazine they raise the standards in many ways. They also have a section, mostly on their online web page, about travel information for business that are openly gay friendly. This form has put the pressure on business from the gay culture to open their minds and forces them to serve all equally. This magazine has become a great resource for gay men and a benefit to gay culture pushing us in a positive directions and lifting societies harsh prejudges on a lifestyle that’s different from the norm. (Out Magazine)
I came out as gay a lot earlier in my life than most of my peers. Since I’ve come out, in that relatively short time, I have already seen gay culture going through a big transition from something that’s misunderstood and not talked about to having their own tv network and putting pressure in the business world for equality. There’s still a long road to travel for the way gay culture is portrayed in the media, but we’re on the right track. I was lucky enough to be raise in the upwards swing of gay culture in the media. If we continue to build this image of gay culture we’ll live in a world where gay culture is understood and accepted all over, business won’t have to promote their open acceptance to gay customers, because it’ll be the standard.

Works Cited
“The Hot List 2014.” Out Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 June 2014. .
Imagine me & you. Dir. Ol Parker. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2006. .
“Our Story.” Matthew Shepard Foundation Home Comments. N.p., 2 Feb. 2004. Web. 10 May 2014. .

“Will & Grace.” Mutchnick, Max. 15 Mar. 2004. Web. Transcript.

Africans-Americans Today


Abdirehman Mohamed

Mirror Essay



Africans-Americans Today


I identify myself as African-American, a young man who is strong and chasing success, while I’m attending university and work as the same time. However, being black in America has its challenges. Usually the media and other cultures view African-Americans as lazy, unworkable and thugs, the stereotypical as African-Americans are discriminated and classified, due to that they are unable to advance in white America Corporation companies or in politics. The history of African-Americans has contribute so much over decades and have overcome things like slavery, racisms, Civil Rights Movements and fighting in World War II. I am proud to be African-American. The stereotypical misrepresentations of African-American men in pop culture have prejudiced societal views in decades. The images portrayed in media and pop culture creates a negative stereotype of African-American men.

The worst thing that the media does in pop culture is that, begin a black men means that you’re good at sports, meaning that you can run fast, jump high, and lift more weights than any other person. Yes, it’s true the majority of athletes are black in mainstream sports and yes, they are good players. Some athletes get scholarships to attend university because of their sports background. Therefore, it doesn’t mean that all blacks who attend universities have sports scholarships. There are millions of black people who attend universities without scholarships or any other kind of funding’s. people view black men uncontrollable or uneducated, according to Hollywood  there was movie called (Coach Carter, 2005),  It’s about a Black man named Ken Carter, who comes back to his community and helps out his community by offering his assistance on helping out his neighborhood. He takes a basketball coaching job in his former high school and brings hope and change into the neighborhood, by giving speeches to young black man who gave up on  hope because people stopped caring about them, since they live in a poor neighborhood.  Mr. Carter’s focus was to explain to these youth black men that there is more to life than basketball, there are other opportunities than playing basketball. He taught them if they are ready to learn and get education, than they can do anything in life. The movie is based on true story, however, the story is so good that black men can be anything they chose to do. Ken Carter teaches those kids that to have goals in life, not to play basketball in college or join up in the draft to get pick up by the NBA (National Basketball Association). The point is that just because few basketball players make millions of dollars does not mean that other young black kids have to idolized those basketball players, because there should a system in place where we make an education a priority for all black males, to prove that blacks males can be CEO, Senators, Congressmen, Owners, Businessmen, Even The President, or The Vice President of the United States of America.

African-American are typically stereotyped as violent because of the music they like, which is (RAP MUSIC). Even though Hip-Hop music has violent lyrics (some of it) , it’s not true that people act upon those lyrics, therefore, the media and pop culture makes it seem that black men are violent who live to kill and steal from others due to (RAP MUSIC). In pop culture things change from bad to worse when the media influence and scares people not to engage with black men because they listen RAP MUSIC, than the media takes it further where they show videos of African-American males being violent, who will rob your cars and steal your purses, after all that they label The African-Americans that one word we all hear which is GANGSTER or THUG.  Most African-Americans walk and talk and work like any other person, however, the media takes control of our television sets, post internet articles on how black men are behaving and black men are thugs, who are good for nothing. The truth about the media is that, all the information we seek, we get it from the media because we are busy in our daily lives, with work and taking care of our families, that we forgot to find the truth, so we turn to the media for information. Always the media makes the discussions to show things that scare people, they put fear into us. Any time a robbery happens or house break-in occurs, there will be advertisement for security system, where they show four or five black men breaking into a house with black masks on their face carrying guns and vandalizing the house. It’s bad to be a young black male in America, because the news media shows disturbing images of thugs pointing guns in front of the camera. The worst of it, is that the media shows dark misbehaving young black males standing in corners, People assume that all black men sale drugs in corners because, why would someone stand in corners if they weren’t selling drugs. People misjudge black males too quick, they never get a change nor do they a get a chance to explain themselves.

It’s a challenge to be an African-American, it does feel like you have to better and well behaved, even taking a walk or jogging in the streets because you may look suspicious and someone will and definitely will call the police. We judge too harshly not because of our skin color, but our background and the stereotyping. Most people say that black people are thieves who steal, because of (RAP MUSIC) they listen to and living in bad neighborhoods. In urban areas there are a lot of black people that also stereotyped other black people due to high rate of crimes, blacks betray on each other instead of building a better community and staying positive and helping each other. However, that cannot happen because black people have to first overcome the challenges they face day to day, stop the crime, talk to their youths and have community leaders and show support and love, and only than they can live in prosperity.  If only that happens than white people would not fear black people as much as they do now, white people now believe that young black males are thugs who wear hoody sweaters and swag their pants low and look engage in trouble. White people believe that black parents don’t raise their children proper way of following law.

When I have free time I like to listen to music and enjoy myself, and when I am listening to music I like to turn the volume way up where it is so loud that it wakes up everyone in the neighborhood. I prefer to listen to (RAP MUSIC), I enjoy it and also relate to it. Therefore, the media calls (RAP MUSIC) Violent, horrible, and changes the minds of the youth. Many people are against RAP MUSIC because of the crimes rate, drugs and women that are involved in the music they sing about.  Gangsta Rap is what the media calls it, which is popular among teens and young adults, it’s controversial and involves in bad lyrics that will make you crunch and hated it immediately, because its about conflict and struggles young black males, its way to express yourself. Rap artists tell a story about the struggles they have been in or something that happen to someone close to them. They Rap about society and how things are not fair. They talk about the police treating them bad comparing to white people. They talk about the judiciary system and how it’s not fair and putting the black men down. In rap music, it’s about expressing yourself. However, the media attacks Rap Music and just plain slamming down negatively. They media attack Rap artists like (Snoop Dogg) by talk about sex, violence, beating women, and murder. Yet corporate America doesn’t want anything to do what blacks are listening to, because of the media said so. There is also Positive Rap music that all of us listen to and encourage our youths to be a good example, but the media’s focus is only the negative side of RAP MUSIC.  The media tells us who we are and what should we listen to, the media scares other cultures by telling them negative things about Rap Music and how bad it is for kids. Things could be better if the media was not attacking the culture of black people and our music.

African-Americans are not what the media seems to be or pop-culture, we’re all Americans, but stereotyping has damaged African-Americans image. Every time, someone turns on the News or any other channel, African-Americans are represented in stereotypical manner, where unreasonably are called criminals and ghetto thugs who are only good for nothing. All the negativity is hurtful and it causes long-term damage to black’ men self-esteem.  However, we can fix stereotyping by education people not to judge or hurt others. We can get people to volunteer and get involved in communities, schools, colleges, churches to stop stereotyping the African-American males. The good thing is to protest the media who continues to show hurtful images of African-Americans and other races as well. If we all come together and get to know one another, we will find out that we have the same culture and background, we are as much American as White American. We are all chasing the same things, which is to continue making America a better place.




Work Cited

Baker, Soren. The History Of Rap And Hip-Hop.  New York: Greenhaven Pr, 2003.

Rob.   “Relevant in Hip-Hop Today.”  Hip-Hop social Today. 17 March 2014.

Berger, Ken. “Forgotten Finals.”    20, April 2014.

Miller, Ben. “Great Michael Jordon.” 16 May 2012.

Father Still Knows Best

Jason Cutburth

June 2nd, 2014


Father Still Knows Best

As of late, many people and media outlets have unnecessarily come to the defense of fathers, or more accurately, the perception of father figures in pop culture. In 2010, Forbes published an article by Jenna Goudreau entitled “The Changing Roles of TV Dads”. It cleverly dissected the change of father figures in TV over the years theorizing that “the late ’80s and into the ’90s featured the rise of the idiot dad…as feminism built, moms began overshadowing TV dads, who played the part of the well-meaning idiot.” In another article written by Hanna Rosin for she came to the aid of dads everywhere by examining the “The Evolution of the Doltish Dad”. She rattles her sabers unnecessarily by postulating, “For nearly the entire history of cinema and especially TV, the doltish dad has thrived as a steady source of comic relief whose only role is to screw everything up and set off the laugh track.” I, on the other hand, see it differently; their concern is misplaced and the father figure does not need rescuing. By reflecting upon popular TV shows through the 80s, 90s, and in present times I believe that TV actually does a remarkable job of portraying father figures as relatable characters who, although satirized and hilariously flawed at times, ultimately will do the right thing.

Even though today I am a 34 year old white male who is married with three children I can still recall the sound of canned laughter reverberating down the hallways of my childhood home. Dinner was finished, dishes were done, and our finished homework tucked neatly away into our backpacks. It was time to watch some TV before bedtime! In the 80s, our offerings for family friendly sitcoms were ripe with choices. Whether it was Clifford Huxtable from The Cosby Show, Jason Sievers from Growing Pains, Steve Keaton from Family Ties, or even Carl Winslow from Family Matters, the TV had no shortage of father figures who wanted to do right by their families even if they were bound to the pitfalls of situational comedy. One father and show always stood out in particular to me in the 80s and that was Danny Tanner in Full House.

Before introducing Danny Tanner and his unique family life let us explore some common concepts and terms that relate to TV shows. The term “sitcom” is a vernacular we use for the phrase “situation comedy.” It is a genre that is rife with sub-genres like “Odd Couple”, “Awful Wedded Life”, or even “Fantastic Comedy”. The sub genre that we are exploring, however, is “Dom Com” or “Domestic Comedy”. This sub-genre will always utilize a typical set of devices or tropes. It is commonplace for these shows to feature the hilarious differences between men and women, perennial “rebellious teenager” issues (including frequently inaccurate stories about what kids are like these days), kids doing the darnedest things, and visits from the wacky neighbor. Situational comedy is also built upon a fairly common equation. One or multiple main characters are thrust into unusual situations, such as misunderstandings, embarrassing coincidences, or mistakes they want to cover up. A critical part of this equation is that our troupe of main characters are often ones we can identify with in some capacity. Ultimately we care about them and whether or not their problems get resolved; even if their problems often result in comedic effect. Lastly, the antagonistic plot point will eventually create a moment of catharsis where everything becomes resolved and the characters share a lesson or special moment, and we, as the audience, are privy to that intimacy. Now that we understand some of the key ingredients of what a “sitcom” is we can begin to look further into Full House and one of its main characters: Danny Tanner.

Full House was created for the ABC Network and premiered in September of 1987. It was the crown jewel in the TGIF Friday night programming lineup. At it’s peak it was ranked #8 out of all shows on broadcast TV and reached approximately 16 million households. It had finally ended its eight season run in 1995 ranked #24. It was a unique cast of characters that centered around a recently widowed father Danny Tanner and his three daughters. Danny’s brother-in-law and best friend move in with Danny’s family to help and the situational comedy ensues.

As a father figure Danny Tanner was committed to his daughters and providing them with the best life he could possibly provide as a single parent living in San Francisco. Danny relies heavily on the other men in his life Jesse (his brother-in-law) and Joey (his best friend) to support him in parenting. He fulfills the archetype of “uncool” dad even though he views himself as “the raddest, baddest dad ever”. He seems to have a lot of authority over his daughters: DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle. They are afraid of disappointing him and getting in trouble like in the episode “The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang” in season four. His loving heart is unparalleled and he frequently emotes: ”Well, just remember when children seem the least lovable, it means they need love the most.” This is a very heartfelt and wise piece of advice that seems unlikely to come from a father, and certainly not a “doltish Dad”. Danny is not, however, without his character flaws.

Danny is obsessed with cleaning, and wants to make sure no speck of dust, dirt, or mildew resides on anything he owns. His motto is, “Clean is good, dirt is bad” and his favorite scent is Lemon Pledge. In fact, in the season five episode “The Trouble with Danny” he exacerbates the entire household with his obsessive behavior. Like a drill sergeant he assigns tasks and inspects them upon completion with military flair. While the rest of the family is venting their frustration about cleaning Danny happens to overhear Joey call him a “crazy psychopath holding a mop.” This, of course, hurts Danny’s feelings and Danny embarks on journey to find a balance between clean and dirty. At the end of the episode Danny and the family share their feelings with each other openly and Danny apologizes openly for being a “clean freak”.

As a father myself, I can relate with Danny in a few ways. While I am not a single parent I am committed to to providing my children with the best life I possibly can, and it certainly “takes a village” to raise three kids. I have relied on family and friends many times in my life as a parent. Whether I was just looking for advice or a babysitter I have looked to other people for help just like Danny relied on Jesse and Joey. I also exhibit authority over my children, after all, my wife will sometimes threaten the children by asking them, “Do you want me to tell you father about that when he gets home?” That may not always work, but for the most part they do not want to disappoint or get in trouble. Much like Danny I, too, also have my character flaws.

I can recall a time that our house was veritable wasteland of chaos.  Dirty dishes, unfolded laundry, and children’s toys were threatening to overtake our home. I was struggling to find any corner of the house that could provide solace from the insanity and after stepping barefoot on the jagged corner of a Lego brick that could have doubled as a glass shard I had reached my breaking point. I thundered and stomped around the house expressing frustration and throwing toys back in their bins with a great frustration filled flair. My children got upset and began crying because I was letting my anger get the best of me. Was the house any cleaner? At the end of the day was the dramatic thunderstorm worth the tears? Absolutely not. I had to stop myself, take a deep breath, and be open and honest about my feelings with my children. Most importantly, I apologized and asked for their forgiveness. As a father, one of the most important lessons you can teach your children is that even Dad makes mistakes and he is willing to admit it.  Children need to see that a father is just as vulnerable to slip-ups as they are. Speaking of imperfect, let us introduce Tim “The Toolman” Taylor who was ranked #20 out of “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time” (TV Guide).

In 1991 ABC introduced to households everywhere a character that was based on the stand-up comedy routine of Tim Allen. The show was called “Home Improvement” and the star, Tim Allen, literally and figuratively brought himself to life on TV. As a stand-up comedian Allen satirizes manhood–without demeaning women. He spouts “masculinist” philosophies like a geyser of testosterone. He grunts and chortles in primitive Neanderthal-speak, describes a man’s love of lawn care and vehicle maintenance, and pines over the importance chromed wheels and the tool department at Sears.  Both Tim Allen and his Tim Taylor lost their father at the age of 11 in a car accident. They appear to be the same person in many regards. These parallels reveal that even though Tim Taylor is a main character who is bound to the tropes of situational comedy he is more than that. He is a reflection of the real man playing the sitcom version of himself.

In the season 5 episode entitled “Room Without a View” Tim’s three sons are getting too old to share a room. But since Tim wants nothing but the best for his kids he, in true Tim Taylor fashion, remodels the basement into an amazing one-of-a-kind bedroom for his eldest son Randy; complete with an amazing computer desk and a reverse laundry chute that sucks Randy clothes up and into the laundry room. Randy is amazed. But spends his entire first night wide awake in the basement overwhelmed with the number of new and unusual sounds that are going bump in the night. He cannot sleep! The usual sitcom plot devices play out as Randy goes to great lengths to hide his inability to sleep in his awesome new room. It is not until Tim discovers Randy’s pillow stashed in the microwave of all places that Randy can finally clear his conscience. Tim, being the loving father he is, shows genuine concern for Randy’s plight. Tim comforts Randy and reminds him lovingly that he is still a kid and it is perfectly normal to be scared of new places, after all, “I was the same exact same way when I was your age”. To put Randy’s mind at ease Tim walks Randy through a list of the sounds that are normal for a basement, explains to him what they are, and Randy is finally able to sleep soundly for the first time in his new room.

I can relate to Tim Taylor as a father and as a man. I can see visions of myself reflected in Tim’s parenting style. We both want to give our kids wonderful experiences even if sometimes we are subject to delusions of grandeur. This episode reminds me of last summer when I decided to have a fun camp out with my kids in our own backyard. My children, Ella and Hudson, were so excited and were more that willing to help. I recall the amount of diligence they exhibited in rolling out the tent, helping me pitch it, and arranging our sleeping bags with careful precision. As they organized our sleeping arrangement I was setting up the most masterful fire pit. Our menu was roasted hot dogs, chips, apples, and even s’mores for dessert. As twilight began to set in and firelight dwindled we watched the first few stars poke pinholes through the dusk and it was time for us to sleep. We crawled into our tent, got comfortable in our well-placed sleeping bags and fell asleep.

“Daddy, I can’t sleep. I think something is outside of our tent!” my daughter, Ella, whispered, shaking me awake. Looking at my watch it had only been a couple hours, but the world outside had grown dark and more quiet. Hudson, my three year old, laying against my back was still fast asleep. “Don’t worry, I’ll check it out.” I looked outside and realized the neighbor’s dog was walking around the fence near our tent, his collar tags jangled in the night. I turned back to Ella, “It’s just the neighbor’s dog, Penny, nothing to worry about.”

“What about the all the lights that keep zoom-zooming by?” she replied, still looking wide-eyed and mildly unconvinced.

“Those are just headlights on the cars driving by. Ella, everything is okay.” I responded.

She sat briefly with the same troubled look on her face. Her eyes darted from side-to-side vigilantly keeping watch for the boogeyman. After a brief reprieve she quietly asked, “Daddy, can I please sleep in my bed?”

“Of course, sweetheart.” I lovingly scooped her up, carried her to her bedroom, tucked her in with her favorite blanket, and watched as she quickly relaxed. “I love you, Daddy. Thanks for taking me camping.” I can only hope that my children remain as innocent as they are today; but as children grow so must your style of parenting. 

As the year 2000 approached a new evolution of sitcom was beginning to take shape. Instead of relying on set pieces, live studio audiences, and the laugh tracks that had become synonymous with sitcoms like Full House or Home Improvement pop culture saw the rise of the “mockumentary”. The mockumentary can be summarized as a movie or TV program that takes the form a serious documentary in order satirize it’s subject ( It can be filmed with a greater degree of camera work, more complex scripting, and provides the audience occasionally with intimate confessionals from the main characters. This is extremely effective because the audience gets to learn more about what our main characters are really thinking. NBC’s The Office made this particular narrative format extremely popular; so much so that its success influenced many other shows after it like ABC’s Modern Family.

Modern Family premiered in 2009 and is still currently airing today. It focuses on the lives of three intertwined families. At the heart of one of those families is the lovable, goofy, and hilarious father, Phil Dunphy. What is unique about watching a mockumentary sitcom starring such a contemporary father figure like Phil Dunphy, versus a traditional sitcom, is that the confessional device provides us with a window into the character and his internal thought processes. Employing this tactic the viewer learns volumes more about Phil Dunphy than we ever would about Tim Taylor or Danny Tanner because suddenly he becomes more real to us. The audience can better understand what motivates him, frustrates him, and how on occasion, he really feels about his kids; and because of this narrative device, I can relate more to Phil Dunphy than any other father figure.

Phil Dunphy is a fun-loving and well-intentioned father of two daughters and one son (just like myself) who sees himself as the “cool dad.” He dotes on his wife Claire and constantly tries to find ways to bond with his three kids. He is seen as very competitive, some examples being his nature of always beating his son, Luke, at basketball. He has a very childlike attitude and is referred to by his wife as the “kid [she’s] married to.” He uses a parenting method that he calls “peerenting”, which is a combination of talking like a peer, but acting like a parent. He is a real estate agent who is very confident in his work, once saying “I could sell a fur coat to an Eskimo.”

Phil Dunphy is the most accurate representation of the contemporary father figure pop culture can provide. Even though at times he is accident prone and doltish, the truth is, I can relate to it. I feel an attachment to Phil and I care about if and how he is able to solve his problem. What makes Phil unique to me personally is that I can see myself being a lot like him as a father as my three kids get older. 

Currently my children are still young with the oldest being seven years old. Where as Phil Dunphy is the parent of a 21 year old, 17 year old, and a 14 year old. Trying to raise children at that age is an entirely different dynamic. Even though my children will, most likely, roll their eyes at my puns and over zealous attempts to bond with them I will remain unaware. Phil Dunphy is characteristically unaware of his perception to his children, in fact, in the pilot episode during a confessional moment he said, “I’m Cool Dad, that’s my thang. I’m hip, I surf the web, I text. LOL: laugh out loud, OMG: oh my God, WTF, why the face.” His describes his expectation for being a parent as such: “…if my son thinks of me as one of his idiot friends, I’ve succeeded as a dad.” But despite his tendency to be a buffoon he is protective of his children and in defense of his eldest daughter, Haley who is often the affection of boys, he yells at a would be suitor, “That’s my little girl! I need her to know that no guy on Earth is good enough for her!” His children also are concerned when they disappoint him because they know that, despite his loving nature, “you do not want to poke the bear!” It is easy as a father to see myself in Phil Dunphy despite all of his wackiness.

I think all the wackiness and good intentions are the traits that makes these father figures real. Both Jenna Gordreau and Hanna Rosin have misdiagnosed an issue that is not even really an issue amongst fathers like myself. Gordreau and Rosin have something in common. Both write about a common subject: women’s studies. Gordreau writes particularly about women leadership and Rosin writes on behalf of’s “Double X” webpage. Double X’s Facebook refers to themselves as “A space for conversation, argument and wit about feminism, gender, sexuality, health, politics, Beyonce and other issues of interest to women and their friends.” In my opinion, these hardly seem to be the appropriate proponents of fatherhood and it’s perception in particular. In an NPR interview Hanna Rosin was even dumbfounded when discussing father figures. Her response when pressed about Bill Cosby as Cliff Huxtable in The Cosby Show was “that Bill Cosby [as Cliff Huxtable]…was an exception.” But later as the interview continued Neal Conan emphasized my point expertly as a counterargument. Rosin was using Homer Simpson as example and Conan replied, “But by the end of the show, it’s…back to the aww moment. Every one of these dads has that moment where everybody’s reconciled and everything’s going ahead swimmingly before the time for the last commercial.” Rosin concedes by re-postulating a viewpoint we had yet to hear until now, “…men are having trouble these days, are struggling and women are supporting their families in many cases, so these sitcoms have an edge they didn’t used to.” That statement infers that it is not about the creation of a doltish dad but, more so, about dads who are being portrayed more typically as out of their element. Also, as a side note, the use of Homer Simpson (or even Peter Griffin from Family Guy) as artifactual evidence is misplaced because they do not belong in the sub-genre of domestic comedy. They would belong to a more satirical, and altogether different, sub-genre referred to as “dysfunctional family”.

Let’s be honest, as the perception of the father figure changed over time, it has actually only become an increasingly more accurate portrayal of fatherhood. Gone are the days of Father Knows Best when father was placed upon an unrealistic pedestal. This depiction is no more accurate than the representation of Donna Reed as the benchmark for the common housewife. It was a fantasy. Nowadays we are presented with a more realistic father figure and, because of that, now we can laugh at ourselves. At times us dads can be doltish, occasionally we rush in without forethought, and we are susceptible to our own weaknesses. We love our children and if the price of that is being portrayed as the doltish dad in the eyes of pop culture, then so be it. But I would conclude that if I can be a fraction of the father that Danny Tanner, Tim Taylor, and Phil Dunphy are then I must have done a darn good job; because if my life were a sitcom at the end of episode I will have ultimately done the right thing, taught a life lesson, and we would have had some laughs along the way.

Works Cited

 “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.” TV Guide’s ’50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time’ : In Depth :., n.d. Web. 15 May 2014. <>.

Goudreau, Jenna. “The Changing Roles Of TV Dads.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 10 June 2010. Web. 14 May 2014. <>.

“Finally, TV’s ‘Dolt’ Dads Get To Evolve.” Interview by Neal Conan. 90.9 WBUR. NPR, 11 July 2012. Web. 17 May 2014. <>.

Franklin, Jeff. “The Trouble With Danny.” Full House. ABC. 17 Mar. 1992. Television.

“Phil Dunphy.” Modern Family Wiki. ABC, n.d. Web. 10 May 2014. <;.

Rosin, Hanna. “TV and Film’s Doltish Dad Gets a Makeover.” Slate Magazine, 15 June 2012. Web. 29 May 2014. < screen_is_changing_.html>.

“Sitcom.” TV Tropes., n.d. Web. 14 May 2014. <>.

Vandergriff, Jon. “Room Without a View.” Home Improvement. ABC. 14 Nov. 1995. Television.

Equality for Natives

Jessica Galloway
Prof. Bergland

Looking in the Pop Culture Mirror
Equality for Native Americans

When we live in a country where people are “created equal” it’s hard to gather my acceptance of that expression…created equal. What is considered equality? According to the Declaration of Independence it says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” I can’t help but laugh. When it comes to Native Americans in pop culture, we are anything but equal in a country where white settler immigrants have taken over. Native Americans are mocked at sporting events, have racial nicknames in sports and movies, and have their history and traditions made fun of.

It starts at childhood. In the children’s movie, Disney’s Peter Pan, the Indian tribe in the movie is singing the song, “What makes the red man red, and why does he ask you ‘How?’” According to the song in the Disney movie, the reason why Indians are red is because a million years ago the first Native prince kissed a maiden and started blushing, which caused all Indians to blush ever` since. While this is a harmless accusation, the racist situation is when Captain Hook (who is a white colored man) is calling the Indians in the movie “red men.” (Disney). Judging that this is a children’s movie, could it be possible that children are being brainwashed about how Indians act, or their skin color? According to research studies, children watch over 8 hours of television a day (Wolfe). So when parents are continuously putting Disney movies on for their kids to watch, children then tend to believe that what they are watching is how things are.

As children get older they develop new interests, such as sports. I personally love football, and it’s probably my favorite sport. But when it comes to football, this racial situation of skin color continues with the Washington Redskins. The Washington Redskins got their name by paying “tribute.” According to Glenn Beck, “The name was changed to ‘Redskins’ to honor then-coach Lone Star Dietz, an American Sioux (Ritz, E). Although it was a generous gesture to pay tribute to a Native American man, the term ‘Redskin’ is a racial name toward Native Americans. This has led fans to act and dress in racial ways. They are dressed to what they believe an Indian is dressed like; the typical feather headdress, painted faces, and hair in braids. These are the same features that were presented in Peter Pan. Fans are mocking Native Americans for an entire season by the way they dress and holding up signs like, “scalp the enemy” as a funny gesture to defeat the opponent.

Now I understand having a sense of humor. I also understand joking around. There is no law against having a sense of humor, but everyone has their own sense of humor, and some people find things funny that other people don’t. Back in December, Oregon was hit with a snow storm. This would be a typical event to happen this time of year. During this cold event, I was stuck in my house for several days, and my outside communication included my cell phone and social media. While scrolling through my news feed on Facebook, I came across a meme that a friend of mine had liked. Normally this wouldn’t bother me, but this particular meme made me angry. It was a black and white picture of a Native American man. On top it said, “I hate snow” and on the bottom it said, “Because it’s white and on my land.” (Quick meme). Now I understand that this was a joke, and its intention was for fun/humor. But this is bothersome because it is merely mocking the history of Native Americans. Snow is being referred to the white settlers coming to American and taking over the land.

There is a video online of when a Native American man interrupts an immigration protest. He states that this land was the Native Americans first, and that this land was built off of immigrants. He argues that everyone standing at the protest is immigrants because the white settlers came and invaded Native American land (The Young Turk). I completely agree, because the people who did come over several years ago moved onto the land and had no documentation of where they were from. They had no documentation of their rights to live there. Native Americans lives changed drastically when the white settlers came, and have become such the dominate race that Native Americans are merely becoming unknown.

People have gathered this notion about Indians being all about their land. This “land” that people are referring to is a settler created place called reservations. Yes, that is correct. I did say settler created, because that is exactly what they are. Reservations were created by the white settlers to isolate the unwanted into a small piece of land (Moyers). Now how is that fair? We are not up to the standard of white society, so we are secluded to a prison like community. Sherman Alexie states in the interview that, “We didn’t make reservations. The military, the US military and government made reservations. And it was a place where we’re supposed to be concentrated and die and disappear.” These reservations were created for Indians, and the Indians turned it into a scared place.

So as a Native American, do I feel upset about how my culture is presented in pop culture? Yes, I am upset about people trying to dress up to what they believe an Indians dresses like. Yes, I am going to be angry when people make a joke merely for the sake of humor, and it’s referred to a Native American. If the roles were reversed, and your race was mocked constantly, you would be just as upset as I am. I truly believe that Native Americans are simply unknown; basically extinct to everyone in the US. And when you have such little numbers, you fight just to get the fight started. We have to fight just to be heard, just to be understood, just to be known. When a race has to fight so hard, then there is no way they are created equal.





Disney. Peter Pan. Geronimi, Clyde; Jackson, Wilfred; Luske, Hamilton (Dir.) Walt Disney                      Productions. 1953.

Moyers, Bill; Alexie, Sherman. (Presenters). (2013). Sherman Alexie on Living Outside Cultural                Borders. [Tv Interview]. Moyers and Company. Retrieved from:                                                        <;

Ritz, Erica. “Do you know the history behind the name ‘Washington Redskins’?”. The Blaze.                   The Blaze Inc. 11 Oct. 2013. Web. 28 May 2014.                                                                                    name-washington-redskins/

The Young Turks. “Native American Shuts Down Immigration Protest”. TYT. The Young                        Turks. YouTube. 28 May 2014. Web. Retrieved from:                                                                     <;

Quick Meme. “I Hate Snow: It’s White and on My Land”. Web. 28 May 2014.             <;

Wolfe, L. (2014) “How Television Controls and Programs Minds: Turn Off Your Television”.         Web. 28 May 2014. <;

The Stereotypes of a MILSO

Maddison Schumacher

Pop Culture

June 1, 2014

Daneen Bergland

The Stereotypes of a MILSO

            Military families are respected around the world because of the sacrifices they have to make to live their specific lifestyle. Particularly, military spouses give up a lot to be with their loved ones. In the military world, military spouses are nicknamed “MILSOs” which stands for “Military Significant Other.” People define a MILSO as a boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancé(e)/spouse who is in the military or someone who is with someone in the military. But looking more in depth into the military community, not all military spouses are respected. Many individuals (but not everyone) view MILSOs with a negative view. Common criticisms of a MILSO varies; “they marry too young,” “they are too young to be mothers,” “they are uneducated and stupid,” “they are lazy and want easy money.” It is a shame to see these criticisms because personally, I am a MILSO. Hearing these comments about other MILSOs is hurtful because I am currently going to school, not married, and have a plan for the future. I am not among the common stereotypes MILSOs face.

Many view Military Significant Others (MILSOs) as a stereotype. This stereotype includes that “they’re all lazy, all they do is pop out kids, none of them work, they’re bullies who hide behind their husband’s rank, or spend their days online picking on other girls, pretending to be something they’re not” (Clouse, 2011). Since the term, “MILSO” is not a term that is recognized or known by most, it is hard to really pinpoint what a MILSO really is. Many sources provide unrealistic characteristics of what a MILSO is and what their community represents. Not all MILSOs are portrayed as Clouse’s description. Many have aspirations, goals, and ambitions. Not all MILSOs are women either; some are men supporting their MILSO. Also, a MILSO can be any ethnicity, not just white. Being a MILSO myself, I know that these stereotypes are false. So how did these negative stereotypes come to be in today’s society?

One source that provides a general view/idea on what a Military Significant Other is and what their lifestyle is like is the television drama series, Army Wives. This Lifetime original series is about a group of Army spouses that come together by supporting one another through their hardships and successes. Each spouse has a unique story of how they met their military spouse and each spouse has their own personal background. What is unique about Army Wives is that they include a male MILSO. In the show, Roland Burton (played by Sterling K. Brown) is a full-time psychiatrist and full-time stay-at-home dad. His wife, Joan Burton (played by Wendy Davis) is a colonel in the United States Army. Their relationship is important for the purpose of this essay because it defies the characteristics of the MILSO stereotype. First, the MILSO (Roland Burton) is male and is not considered an “Army Wife” but an, “Army Husband.” Second, he is a full-time psychiatrist while also playing the “Mister Mom” role. Third, he is African American and so is his wife Joan.

Even though Army Wives has many positive characteristics of what a MILSO is about, these characteristics are only targeted for the general audience. In other words, this drama gives general examples of what a MILSO is, instead of really going into detail of what the typical MILSO has to go through. I think this is an important binary of this artifact. Individuals can view these general examples provided by this show and turn them into negative stereotypes. If this show could provide real-life situations/characteristics, people would not assume MILSOs as these stereotypes.

Social media is often a place where stereotypes are created, especially in today’s society. There are several blogs that are created and run by MILSOs dedicated to establish a caring and supportive environment for other MILSOs. There are several blogs that are dedicated to MILSOs. Some examples are “MilsoTherapy” (, “The Air Force Wife” (, and “Loving From A Distance” ( These blogs are just among the hundreds that are out there. These blogs are interactive; they include advice columns where subscribers can ask questions, leave comments, and help others about the MILSO lifestyle. Since these blogs are interactive, everyone who is subscribed can comment and have the chance to criticize or judge the topic that is being discussed in the advice columns. Social media can give users the opportunity to alter their identity and become whomever they want. These false identities can be a negative element for these blogs. These users can ask questions or leave comments that are judgmental and unnecessary. It can be discouraging for other MILSOs to see these posts and believe the things that are being posted. An addition to this, most of these blogs are public to everyone online. If online users see these criticizing comments more then the real comments, people will think the hateful comments ARE the real comments.

There are also “confession” blogs where users anonymously post confessions about how they are feeling, their doubts, their hopes, etc. “Military SO Confessions” ( and “Not Your Average Military Confessions” ( are the most popular military confession pages on Tumblr. A lot of the time, these confessions are honest and have well thought-out messages. However, some have content that are inappropriate, and should not be posted to the public. “Not Your Average Military Confessions” are full of discouraging posts made by MILSOs. Here is an example of one of these posts, “Confessions #2135: I hate it when people assume I’m a tag chaser. No, I wear his dog tags that he brought home to be from Afghanistan and he gave them to me when he proposed. I have been with him through one deployment to the Middle East, two years stationed in Guam and he’s deployed now. I am NOT a tag chaser. I have always love him and I always will” (Anonymous, 2014) In this confession, the term “tag chaser” refers to someone being with a person from the military to just receive their dog tags to look cool. This is an example of one of the MILSO stereotypes. For MILSOs, social media is very important because they can keep in content with their loved ones who might be deployed or with other MILSOs. It is ashamed that this source of communication is discouraging for some because of these stereotypes.

The MILSO community is a loving and supporting group of people. Since everyone has similar problems, everyone is willing to help one another. Some see this vulnerability as a chance to create unnecessary conflict. Looking deeper into this community, I have concluded that everyone a part of it has their own stressors to deal with and everyone has their own way of dealing with their stress. The typical MILSO has to raise a family, go to work, maintain their relationship with their loved, and keep everything in order all by themselves. The reason the MILSO community was formed was because everyone has those stressors and it is easier to deal with the stress if there are other people to connect with. “We’re all in this together” is a great quote that relates to this community.



Anonymous. (2014, May 25). Not Your Average Military Confessions. [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Clouse, H. (2011, June 11). Military Wife Stereotype? [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Fugate, Katherine. (Producer). (2007). Army Wives. [Television series]. ABC Studios.

So You Wanna Be A Hipster?


According to How I became a Hipster by Henry Alford, “You know you’re in hipster Brooklyn when someone who looks like a 19th-century farmer tells you that his line of work is affinity marketing.” Alford spent a weekend in Williamsburg, NY trying to educate himself about what he calls Kings County’s artisan-loving, kale-devouring hipster epicenter. Alford wanted to blend among rooftop gardeners and sustainability consultants, doing as hipsters do. He shopped for cardigans, work boots and flannel trying to complete what he called the Mumford and Sons look. He visited a barber to achieve a straight-edged razor shave and soak up some culture. He rode a fixed gear bicycle, something hipsters are notorious for. He passed up one café with espresso soda and another with all-artisanal-mayonnaise to wait in line for an hour at a local pizza spot. Then followed that up with chocolate from a shop that gets their cocoa beans directly from the Dominican Republic. Not enough? How about a 3-hour culinary knife skills class? He then capped his tour off with a visit to a bookstore where you can trade used books in for beer and wine. Pretty cool, eh? So is this what being a hipster is all about? It certainly sets the tone for some of the typical characteristics that embody being a hipster. Although, not all hipsters are created alike in my eyes and this is just the tip of the iceberg. While most of the pop culture portrayals of hipsters hold up, I think there is too much diversity within this sub culture to use just one common label. Let’s take a further look at some of these stereotypes and how they hold up.

Hipster is defined online by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a person who is unusually aware of and interested in new and unconventional patterns (as in jazz or fashion).” I find it interesting that this definition even exists, but I think the part about the interest in new and unconventional patterns is pretty accurate. An interesting site to find terms you may not find in your average dictionary is the Urban Dictionary which claims “Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.” The Urban dictionary also points out that New York, Chicago and San Francisco are some of the nation’s hipster hot spots. Many also include Portland on this list of cities. Additionally, Wikipedia says:

“A contemporary international subculture primarily consisting of Millennials living in urban areas. The subculture has been described as a “mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior[s]” and is broadly associated with indie and alternative music, a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility (including vintage and thrift store-bought clothes), progressive, independent or far-left political views, organic and artisanal foods, and alternative lifestyles. Hipsters are typically described as affluent or middle class young Bohemians who reside in gentrifying neighborhoods.”

In comparison, the seemingly less official sources mentioned above give a little more context with the definition. This is most likely due to the fact that there isn’t a formal definition (Merriam-Webster) of what a hipster is. In turn, we look to pop culture to help shed light into what it means to be a hipster.

Portlandia, IFC

Portlandia, IFC

From creators and co-stars Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen Portlandia was born. Portlandia is a satirical sketch TV comedy that screams Portland culture with a good dose of hipster. One scene features Armisen getting a tech overload, he finds himself so absorbed and consumed in his own media co-star Brownstein has to intervene. He’s checking email on a computer, doing social media on his phone, doing a software update on his tablet, and worrying about watching Netflix movies and sending them back. Overall it says that tech is a big part of an urbanite’s life, so much that it can take it over at times. Another piece I like from Portlandia was the opening scene from the first episode, a description of Portland built into a catchy ‘90s themed song, “Dream of the ‘90s:”

“Getting piercing and tribal tattoos was cool. When people were singing about saving the planet and starting bands. The tattoo ink never runs dry. Being content to be unambitious, sleeping in until 11, hanging out with your friends, having no occupation whatsoever, or maybe work a few hours at a coffee shop. It’s where young people go to retire. All the hot girls wear glasses. They encouraged you to be weird. Portland is like an alternative universe. You can a bird on something and call it art.” As well as the echoing chorus of “the dream of the 90’s” in the background.

Most of the crew is dressed in mellow threads, Armisen is wearing a beanie, a few people are wearing black rimmed glasses. Custom bicycles, flannel shirts, clowns and costumes get sprinkled in too. To me this sums the Portland sub-culture pretty accurately, yes it’s a little over the top but it captures a many elements of Downtown Portland.

Peter Fauria, of Seedwell Digital Creative Studio in SF, makes an interesting point that was recorded in an NPR article The Hipsterfication of America with “cities are known for setting trends; hipsterism is about anti-trends.” Fauria also states “What’s funny is that people who aren’t hipsters generally express distaste for them and those who appear to be hipsters hate to be identified as such. Everybody hates hipsters … especially hipsters. And the ironic part is that hipsters’ opposition to pop culture has become pop culture.”

‘I hate hipsters. How they always talk about everything being too mainstream, and wear plaid shirts, beanies, handle bar mustaches, and silk screen print totes. All they do is eat organic gluten-free artisan cupcakes…and Instagram pictures of their kale smoothies,’ according to a South Park mash-up video of Cartman I found on YouTube. Does Cartman really hate hipsters or is he portraying the view of the general public as the show commonly does? Perhaps a little bit of both, although the general sentiment that I’ve found is that people are not very fond of hipsters. This might be partly due to the level of exclusivity that hipsters seek. By distancing themselves from others, it creates a polarizing attitude amongst the community towards hipsters. Comedian Dan Soder points out similar stereotypes in a 30-minute Comedy Central routine. “Mustaches, beanies during the summer, gluten-free cupcakes,” and he also came up with the conclusion that people hate hipsters. Soder also points out that there is a connection to music and New York, the birth place of the hipster.

Why do people hate hipsters? Perhaps there is a self-absorbed vibe that comes off of hipsters, or a level of self-derived exclusivity. Maybe it’s trying too hard to be different and being an individual that they can alienate themselves from others. Maybe it has something to do with this stereotype of gluten-free artisan cupcakes that is portrayed in the South Park scene and in Soder’s comedy routine. It’s just a cupcake, but to a hipster it’s much more than that. It’s an artistic expression that has character and meaning, and drives to have a healthy non-mainstream approach with it being gluten-free. From Drew Warner, Co-Founder at Just Good Chocolate (Plumstead, Artisan Food):

“Artisan food is unique; it’s defined by the fact that nothing else on earth exists that is exactly the same. Artisan food is created with love, with attention to detail, not mass produced on factory lines with only quantity in mind rather than quality.”

Very hipster, right? Or Cartman’s notion of Instagramming a kale smoothie, finding glory and praise in an $8 cup of puréed vegetables and wanting to share that with others. Some see it as an overpriced sludge and other see it as a clean, revitalizing, gift to one’s body. It’s finding something that is devalued by some, and implying value to something that is pretty nominal. It’s kind of a similar concept to gentrification which we’ll take a look at later. You could look at fashion the same way, finding and making chic costumes out of thrift shop threads. These types of approaches could drive a mainstreamer crazy.

The past typically helps shape current and future times. Journey back to the ‘40s when jazz was hitting night clubs and a new subculture was emerging. According to an article by Time Magazine (Fletcher, Hipsters) the name itself was derived from the jazz age when the word hip started to emerge, some say it came from the word hop, another word for opium back then, and some say it was derived from the West African word “hipi,” meaning to open one’s eyes. Over time the word transformed into the noun we now know as “hipster.” Time Magazine also goes on to say those hipsters were typically white middle class youths trying to emulate the lifestyle of the largely-black jazz musicians they followed. Years went by and the first generation of hipsters was replaced by hippies in the ‘60s and ‘70s. It was quite a few years until the hipster movement was back, but it made its way back in the early ‘90s. Middle-class youths were heavy into the alternative art and music scene, and borrowed looks from the past. Fletcher says, “Take your grandmother’s sweater and Bob Dylan’s Wayfarers, add jean shorts, Converse All-Stars and a can of Pabst and bam — hipster.” Some say the commonly tagged mustaches that hipsters wear are attributed to the music and art scene and as an expression of one’s artistic ability. One name that comes up a lot is Buddy Holly who was known for wearing black rimmed glasses, which are a staple and stereotype look of the modern hipster.

via Kasey Kelbaugh, New York Times

via Kasey Kelbaugh, New York Times

Another interesting trend is this idea that Hipsters chase gentrification. Gentrification is defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary as “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.” Jokingly, Soder points out in his Comedy Central special that people hate hipsters, but he loves them because “they move into the toughest neighborhoods and force everybody out. Some gangster shit. White people being white people.” Weeks in the NPR article goes on to say “In the past couple of years, Hipsterdom has entered — and in some cases, dominated — dominant culture. Hipsters, after all, know how to adapt: how to make the cheap chic, the disheveled dishy, the peripheral preferable. A shaky, shabby economy is the perfect breeding ground for hipsters.” I interpret that similar to the portrayed look that hipsters carry; it’s taking something simple and driving value to it through attitude and style. The Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg serves as a great example of this and is often referred to as the mecca of hipsters. Taking a look back to post WWII, the borough was in tough economic times. There was a big push in the early ‘90s and into the mid-2000s to drive value back into Williamsburg. And now is considered a moderately upscale community. I feel like pockets of Portland have taken this on as well. NE and SE Portland have been known for being tough parts of town and they still are, but there is definitely some gentrification going on and are hipster hot spots. It’s almost like there are little subsets within these neighborhoods too, from Hawthorne, to Alberta, and Mississippi to name a few. Upscale eateries, thrift shops, coffee shops and theatres provide ideal hangout and habitats for young urbanites. So I think in certain circumstances the portrayal is valid. What were once undesirable neighborhoods are some of the hottest neighborhoods in Portland.

Like many things in this world the labels hipsters achieve by way of pop culture are not entirely true or false. As much as people like labeling things and labeling people, there is just too much diversity to try and place people into buckets. While many of the stereotypes and media portrayals hold up from time to time this sub culture is constantly evolving and common labels just can’t keep up. I chose this topic in part because of the fact that I’ve been called a hipster myself. I would beg to differ with the association, maybe it was my skinny jeans or black rimmed glasses that gave away that vibe, but I would argue the association. Maybe it’s the hipster in me that is in denial of fitting the stereotypes. I strive to be an individual and have my own style, although in the end my non-conformity probably conforms to many others like me. It’s a vicious cycle and a tricky assertion to pin down. Like you’ll find in many articles, hipsters hate being called hipsters, so whatever the current definition is, a new one is in the works. Deep within the general stereotypes I think there are some core values that serve true from time to time, but as one checks out another one is not valid. I don’t think it’s fair to place a label on someone just because of the way they appear. Being independent and driven I take pride in and I definitely see those values reflect in hipster culture. Ideas of non-conformity and anti-mainstream are at the front of that idea and constantly evolving young urbanites. Most of all is an idea of self-expression and individualism. So if you wanna be a hipster, be yourself.

Works Cited

Alford, Henry. “How I Became a Hipster.”The New York Times. The New York Times, 1 May 2013. Web. 14 May 2014. <;

Parasuco, Trey. “hipster.” Urban Dictionary. N.p., 22 Nov. 2007. Web. 29 May 2014. <;

Fletcher, Dan. “Hipsters.” Time. Time Inc., 29 July 2009. Web. 28 May 2014. <,8599,1913220,00.html&gt;

Weeks, Linton. “The Hipsterfication Of America.” NPR. NPR, 17 Nov. 2011. Web. 14 May 2014. <;

Plumstead, Norm. “Artisan Food.”Gourmet Gift Baskets Traverse Gourmet Artisan Food. Web. 15 May 2014. <;

“Hipster (contemporary subculture).”Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 28 May 2014. Web. 14 May 2014. <;

“hipster.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 30 May 2014. <;

“Episode 1, Season 1, Farm.” Armisen, Fred, Carrie Brownstein, and Jonathan Krisel. Portlandia. IFC. 21 Jan. 2011. Television.

“Episode 1, Season 2, Dan Soder.” Comedy Central’s the Half Hour. Comedy Central. 3 May 2013. Television.

“Cartman Hates Hipsters.” Marina Korotun and Patrick O’connor. YouTube. Web, 23 May 2013. <;

Weight Lifting: No Longer Just For Getting Chicks, Bro

Weight Lifting: No Longer Just For Getting Chicks, Bro

 By: Broc Christensen


Like many other weight lifters, I began spending time in the weight room during high school with my mind set on getting in better shape for my sport, which at the time was lacrosse. I was loosely familiar with bodybuilding culture and many of the statue-esque figures that were dominant in the sport because my dad was an amateur bodybuilder during much of my childhood. During my time in the high school weight room none of that was in my head though; I was only there as a way to earn easy credit and to get a little bit stronger so I would be faster on the lacrosse field. Fast forward to two years after graduation, I was working full-time and was no longer playing lacrosse or any other sports: however, after realizing that a good friend of mine was really into lifting weights I got back into it, this time just as a means of getting some physicality back in my life. Fast forward again through four to five inconsistent, naïve, relatively meaningless years in the gym with my friend and by myself, and now I have been back at it for two solid years. I am currently training for my first powerlifting meet, a competition that consists of the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. The person with the highest combined total amount of weight lifted for their respective weight class is the winner. Going to the gym is now my favorite part of the day; I spend countless time reading, listening, and watching anything that will help me improve in the weight room. I have fully immersed myself into a sort of “gym culture” that involves powerlifting, bodybuilding, and nutrition. Though there are great distinctions to be made between the terms powerlifting, bodybuilding, and Olympic weight lifting, in order to prevent confusion they will be lumped together as weight lifting for the duration of this essay. Also included in my description of weight lifters will be others with significant musculature such as: professional football and baseball players, professional wrestlers, and stars of Hollywood action films. It is in these past two years, as I have let myself become immersed in this weight lifting culture, that I have noticed how it is negatively portrayed in popular culture. While I cannot speak for anyone else involved in the weight lifting community, I am here to take the stand that there is more to lifting weights than getting big shiny muscles, taking steroids, picking up girls at clubs, and otherwise being a meathead.

On Dom Mazzetti’s popular YouTube channel called, “BroScienceLife”, he is the star of a series of videos in which he provides weight lifting advice based on what he calls bro science. You may be asking yourself what bro science is, and in three and a half short, entertaining minutes, Mazzetti will explain it below.

In the BroScienceLife video, “Evolution of the Lifting Man”, Mazzetti explains just that, the evolutionary stages of the “typical” weight lifter.

According to him, “before man started lifting, he was nothing.” This statement makes it clear that masculinity is discovered only through weight lifting and muscular hypertrophy, and that this is the only type of masculinity. Yvonne Wiegers, in her article “Male Bodybuilding: The Social Construction of a Maculine Identity” makes the statement, “Men’s experiences differ from one another according to the structural mechanisms through which power and resources are distributed. Hence, it is a mistake to speak of masculinity as though it is a monolithic, homogenous identity. To do so would involve posting one form of masculinity as normative and making all other masculine identities deviant. (p. 152)” Mazzetti, playing off of stereotypes about masculinity relating to weight lifters makes it clear that popular culture only wants to see one type of weight lifter, and that weight lifter is the kind of man that is so concerned with how he looks and with getting laid, that he is willing to sacrifice physical and emotional well-being to achieve, what Morrison and Halton call, “the most desirable body shape for men” which as they further explain, “emphasizes muscle mass and physical bulk. (p. 58)” But according to Mazzetti, as a weight lifter I should not be satisfied with what is most desired, instead I should strive to be, “the top of the food chain super predator with two dicks.” While this is being said, an altered photograph of a professional bodybuilder is shown on the screen to give a visual example of what said super predator looks like. As a weight lifter evolves, according to the BroScienceLife “Evolution of the Lifting Man” chart, from ooze to tadpole he is said to have experienced his first pump, which as Arnold will explain in a clip from the classic film “Pumping Iron”, is quite the feeling for some.

At the most evolved end of the chart is what Mazzetti calls the Freak Beast, “The biggest, most shredded dude around. “ Which is an ironic twist in the evolution of the heterosexual lifting man that is being described, because now Mazzetti explains that, “You stopped lifting for chicks a long time ago, because the only people who are really gonna care about your veins, and your cuts, and how swole your rear delts are, are dudes.” I feel like Mazzetti makes this statement in defense of his own masculinity against the very people whose attitudes his character portrays. The BroScienceLife channel is full of Mazzetti’s satirical looks at gym culture, and the character he is playing is very telling of the stereotypes that surround weight lifters. Everything from his scientifically unfounded and mostly reckless advice on how to get bigger muscles and thus more chicks, to his thick East Coast accent, and his vocabulary are signs of what society expects from weight lifters. He does a good job of showing people what society wants and expects serious weight lifters to act like, while being comfortable enough in his own masculinity to poke fun at the gym culture that he is obviously very involved in.

A commercial introducing Taco Bell’s Power Protein Menu, featuring what Dom Mazzetti would refer to as Freak Beasts, further demonstrates stereotypes that were introduced in “Evolution of the Lifting Man.”

The gigantic men depicted in this commercial are examples of the de-evolution, that is the “Evolution of the Lifting Man.” They are just six men standing around on the beach, wearing outdated bodybuilder fashion, drinking protein shakes, grunting about how much they love protein. They are all so typical and dumb that all they can do is repeat each other and sip their shakes on a beach that is completely devoid of any women, because as Mazzetti said, men are the only ones that care about gigantic muscles. The two normal looking men in the commercial are enjoying items off the new Taco Bell menu and they decide not to tell the bodybuilders about it, because even though the food is from a special high protein menu, it is not for meatheads, they can stick to the protein shakes that they love so much. It is worth mentioning that nearly all of the bodybuilders in the commercial speak with an accent, or are of a race other than white. They are for the most part shown as being “the other”, because the average American man has better things to do than lift weights and try to look like what is shown. With this commercial it is hard to decide whether Taco Bell is pulling a Dom Mazzetti and making fun of gym culture to appeal to weight lifters, or if they are actually trying to condescend weight lifters by offering a high protein menu targeted towards the average male. Either way, they are perpetuating the negative stereotypes that seem to follow weight lifters.

Chris Bell’s documentary, “Bigger Stronger Faster” gives a look into the often unspoken side of weight lifting culture that involves the use and abuse of performance enhancing drugs, mainly anabolic-androgenic steroids. The film highlights the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs by professional baseball and football players, Olympic athletes, bodybuilders, high school athletes, and professional power lifters among others. The bodybuilders and other weight lifters interviewed by Bell are all in favor of the use of anabolic steroids, and Gregg Valentino even goes as far as to say, “Steroids are as American as apple pie”, while eating a T-bone steak with his bare hands. Bell himself is a weight lifter with an anti-steroid agenda, but the way the documentary plays out is that he is alone in the community of weight lifters who are not on steroids. Power lifting guru Louie Simmons asks Bell, “Do you want to be strong? Or do you want to be weak?” in regards to using steroids, implying that strength cannot be achieved without the use of illegal drugs. The father of a high schooler who committed suicide is interviewed because he blames his son’s death on the use of anabolic steroids. This interview is the only segment of the film that really shows an anti-steroid sentiment, but it is suggested to the viewer that the kid committed suicide because of mental health issues not related to his steroid use. It is an interesting film in the sense that Bell, who is anti-steroid, seems to be implying to the viewer that using steroids is inevitable for anyone in serious pursuit of competition involving weight lifting. He seems to be defending the use of steroids by showing how widespread usage is within professional sports from baseball to power lifting. His depictions of weight lifters chewing on steaks with their bare hands, and lifting weights so aggressively that their nose bleeds is still in line with the negative sentiments within society regarding weight lifters. Steroids are illegal drugs and are often times blamed for violent behavior known as “roid rage.” Bell may have had intentions of showing the world how widespread the use of steroids is within many sports and professions in the world, but he also may have solidified weight lifters’ place in the minds of the average person as being roid-rage having, drug users.

From television commercials, to full length films, and Internet memes, weight lifters are often depicted as being meatheads only considered with the pursuit of huge muscles and hot girls. I identify with much of the hard work and the dedication that goes along with being a weight lifter, but I do not agree with many of the depictions of weight lifters in popular culture artifacts. To be shown as cavemen not concerned with my own physical or emotional wellbeing is not fair. To be shown as a narcissistic meathead only concerned with how big my biceps are and what kinds of girls are noticing me is not telling the entire story. Weight lifting is cathartic, it is challenging, and it is ever changing yet it is constant. As Henry Rollins said, “Strength is kindness and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the heart.” Strength is not only about proving your masculinity or worth, it is about teaching yourself how to perform the best you possibly can in any given situation. But popular culture would like to have you think otherwise, instead pop culture would like to show you that the pursuit of physical strength it is a mindless pastime only meant for meatheads and cavemen.





Bell, Chris. “Bigger, Stronger, Faster: The Side Effects of Being American.” 2008.


Butler, George, and Robert Flore. “Pumping Iron.” 1978.


Denham, Bryan E. “Masculinities In Hardcore Bodybuilding.” Men & Masculinities 11.2 (2008): 234-242. Academic Search Premier. Web. 1 June 2014.


Mazzetti, Dom. “Evolution of the Lifting Man.” 2013


Morrison, Todd G., and Marie Halton. “Buff, Tough, And Rough: Representations Of Muscularity In Action Motion Pictures.” Journal Of Men’s Studies 17.1 (2009): 57-74. Academic Search Premier. Web. 1 June 2014.


Rollins, Henry. “Iron and the Soul.” Details Magazine. 1994


Taco Bell Protein Commercial. 2013


Wiegers, Yvonne. “Male Bodybuilding: The Social Construction Of A Masculine Identity.” Journal Of Popular Culture32.2 (1998): 147. Academic Search Premier. Web. 1 June 2014.









African American Women in Pop Culture


PHOTO: First Lady Michelle Obama addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.,Sept. 4, 2012.

PHOTO: First Lady Michelle Obama addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.,Sept. 4, 2012.

Black women are more empowered today than any other time in U.S. history. From our African American first lady, Michelle Obama to business moguls such as Oprah Winfrey and intellectual scholars like Dambisa Moyo, black women are making a positive impact all across the United States. Unfortunately the popular cultural media hasn’t quite caught up with this progress. In pop culture media African American women are plagued by stereotypes and falsities originating primarily from slavery. For young African American women such as myself, the overwhelming majority of media portrayal, especially in music and film, is of a hyper-sexual being with questionable moral fiber. This negative image of young black women is damaging to our population by implying that in order to be successful in America, we must conform to the image that popular culture presents.

One of the most predominate pop culture media contributions from the black community is rap and hip hop music and their accompanying music videos. These genres of music are wildly popular and reach a wide range of audiences. For many people hip-hop and rap music are their primary exposure to the African American culture. Unfortunately, the message presented to the general public about African American women through this music is very concerning. Young, scantily clad, black women are generalized as money hungry opportunists who are untrustworthy and lack self-respect. It is common to hear these women referred to as “Bitches and Hos”. The documentary Hip-hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes produced by Byron Hurt is a film analysis of the reality vs. perception shown in hip-hop and the negative effects these images have on black culture. In the documentary a professor at Spellman College sums up the root of the problem as this, “One of the disappointing things about videos like “Tip Drill” and the whole genre of music videos is they have taken a view black women or women of color that’s not radically different than 19th century slave holders.” (Hip-hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes)What the professor means by this is that women in music videos are portrayed to be metaphorically bought, sold and traded between men. These are images of one or two men surrounded by women in revealing clothing (like strippers) flocking to the artists because they are throwing money around. The women in these images are shot with multiple men passing these women around, essentially going to the highest bidder.

Sarah Jones, a famous play writer and activist explains that in music videos, “the women conversely are so dime a dozen that they don’t matter and are just eye candy” which is the underlying conclusion which viewers draw from these scenes. At this point you maybe thinking to yourself, “isn’t the sexual objectification of the female form a problem for all women?” And the answer is YES! This is bad for all women however what sets women of color apart is that women of color lack enough portrayals in pop culture media to balance out the negative portrayals. Sut Jhally a professor at the University of Massachusetts explains,


“Hip-hop culture is not separate from the rest of American culture, I mean objectified female bodies and those images are everywhere as well as in advertisement, movies, and TV programs. The really negative thing is that in music videos that is the only way in which, African American women are presented and so the only way in which men are allowed to make a connection in the public culture is through sexuality and their own desires.”(Hip-hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes)


The consequences of this imbalanced portrayal of black in media are numerous. According to the 2010 US Census Bureau around 13% of US residents identify as being black or African American leaving 83% to other races. Many people in the United State have little to no formal contact with African Americans on a regular basis. Many people base what they know about black culture primarily off of the images fed to them by popular culture media. This negative portrayal of black women in Rap music may be accepted as fact by those who have no firsthand knowledge of the true nature of young, black women.

For the black community itself, these images have a profound effect on young women of color. It is easy for many to misguidedly assume that the role they have observed in popular media is their expected path. These young black women feel that in order to receive attention, notoriety and acceptance from their peers, it is necessary to conform. Black women striving for personal success have come to be seen as the exception rather than the rule. And, when the media does portray a young, successful intelligent, black woman, her skin is often several shades lighter than the average African American. This intensifies a longstanding division within the black community and further denigrates those young women whose skin is darker in tone.

One of the may controversial edits done to a L’oreal ad which made Beyonce’s skin appear much lighter.

In many cases the lighter skinned the person, the better portrayal they have in popular culture. This, combined with techniques such as photo editing to make stars like Beyoncé’s skin look lighter, has created a rift in black subculture. Darker skinned females often don’t feel that they are represented in popular culture media at all. They are left feeling ugly and unappreciated. The documentary Dark Girls shares the stories of many women and how they feel their skin color is portrayed in pop culture media today as well as it’s effect on the issues of colorism and internalized racism. “This backlash of racism within our own color is a direct result from slavery. You have your field n*gers and your house n*gers. Women with lighter skin were seen as more presentable and beautiful and therefore were allowed to be in the house.” This a speaker in the movie explains are the same standards under which popular culture media seems to operate today.

Personally, I am appalled by the thought that any person would draw a line between me and popular culture’s portrayal of a black woman. I am always cognizant, especially in the predominantly Caucasian community where I live, that I might be perceived as somehow less upstanding than my white peers. There are times when I wonder whether my personal and academic achievements will take me as far as they would another race of girl or if some ugly, media fueled perception will hold me back. Also, as a light skinned, mixed race female, I am saddened by the isolation I feel from my own culture.

Works cited:

Hip-hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes. Dir. Byron Hurt. PBS, 2006.

Dark Girls. Dir. Bill Duke. 2011.

Band Nerd Stereotype-Frankie A.

Francisco Armenta

May 18, 2014

Pop. Culture

Mrs. Bergland

The band nerd stereotype

Some of the greatest contributions to society stem from musicians and their contributions in their own field. But our modern culture has given a new face to the young musician, a stereotype known to us as The Band Nerd. This stereotype consists of a collection attributes concerning their actions, position in society, and physical appearance, but amounts to much more. In fact, by analyzing pop culture artifacts we can show that the Band Nerd stereotype is not just the sum of the musician and the nerd stereotype, but also equally a trope of its own. We see that in the concerns of personal fashion, position in society, sexual anonymity, and career paths these two stereotypes, the nerd and the musician, that they align to form this hybrid stereotype. We can then go further to see the results of this hybrid forming its own characteristics, the result being a striking new stereotype.

A major defining characteristic of the nerd stereotype is fashion. From the opening scene of the movie, Revenge of the Nerds, we can see the two main protagonists Lewis and Gilbert dressed in defining attire. Both of these characters don high-waisted slacks, glasses, and pocket protectors. Not ten minutes into this film we see “The Ogre” immediately define these two characters as nerds by their appearance. Through out the movie we see a divide in characters as their fashion defines them. We see the jocks defined my football and workout attire and the nerds as fashion befitting their subgenre of nerdom. Fashion also represents a defining quality of the musician stereotype. In the film, School of Rock, the musicians who attend the Battle of the Bands festival all show their colors freely. Mainly, their clothing consists of rebellious leather jackets, but also stretches to chestless shirts and printed tees. Though this collection of musicians do not show the uniformity of clothing that the nerd stereotype expresses, this trait as a connected link is further visible when we view the films depiction of the opposing group, the grown ups. Parents, teachers, and school personal are displayed as wearing expensive suits and thick London Fogs. Just as in Revenge of the Nerds’ nerd fashion opposing jock fashion, here we see musician’s fashion as a rebellious characteristic against the clothing of “The Man”. These two stereotypes collide in the film, American Pie Presents Band Camp when we first see the bandies rehearsing for the end of the year performance. We see band kids dressed in typical nerd attire, such as Ernie, but we also see band kids dress in attire, which sets them apart from the rest, such as Chloe who dons punk attire and piercings. In this way the nerd stereotypical clothing and the musician’s rebellious fashion statement have combined.

Social standing often shows us more clearly what category a character fits into. With School of Rock we can see a group of musicians who occupy a segregated social standing. Jack Black’s character Dewy is portrayed as a freeloading middle-aged man who could not let go of his urge to rock. His best friend, his best friend’s girlfriend, and a collection of teachers who consistently express opposing values concerning social function surround him. Whether its his roommate urging him to pay him share of the rent or it’s the teachers of Horace Green standing over his shoulder as he attempts to secretly start a rock band, its made very clear that Dewy is of a different social standing because of his rock and roll life style. Later in the film we see other characters that share a similar place in society due to their careers as musicians. We see a similar a pattern form in Revenge of the Nerds when the coach of the football team, Coach Harris, uses his influence over the principle to have the freshman relinquish their dorm rooms to the jocks who just recently burnt down their own housing. The freshmen continue to be separated into fraternity, which deem them worthy enough to enter. Those who could not find a fraternity to accept them are forced to sleep in the gymnasium. This collection of students immediately become social outcasts, each judged for the same traits, which the fraternities rejected them. As the rest of the movie plays out we see a class war form between the jocks and the nerds. This class distinction, which defines these two stereotypes, can also be seen in American Pie. Here we have a group of students who identify as musicians and because of this are judged by the main antagonist. This antagonist, Matt Stifler has been taught by his peers to view the band students as socially unequal to him. To him they lack the definition that establishes him as a popular student. In the words of Jennifer B. Grant in her essay “Band Geek Grievances” quotes rather plainly “People don’t respect us”. She goes on to tell of her opinion of the band geek’s place in society and how she has had a first row seat to the way people treat the typical band nerd.

While in this instance dorky clothing and a spot on the football team separate the nerds from the jocks, in many cases a persons sexual orientation or lack their of can effect their social standing and thus their characters stereographical orientation. This can be seen in Revenge of the Nerds with the character Lamar Latrelle. Though his interests lie in fashion and exercise, he is considered a social outcast due to his openly gay nature. The two main protagonists, Lewis and Gilbert, are in part considered nerds because of the fact that neither of them has ever been with a woman. This stereotype can also be seen in School of rock’s portrayal of musicians, but in a different way. Spider, Dewy’s replacement in his former band No Vacancy, shows the side of the musician’s society that bends gender rules. Gender anonymity is an excellent example of how these stereotypes do not only define a temporary state in ones life, but also a set of life long characteristics.

One way these two stereotypes conflict is in society’s view of their longevity. In School of Rock we can see Dewy as a representative of the musician’s stereotype. He self identifies as a rocker. His quest to stick it to the man is a life long pursuit, a way of life. Our modern society views being a practicing musician, whether it’s classical or contemporary, as a career option. Often times a musician is a more socially acceptable stereotype because of this. The nerd stereotype however fit into this category. In its essence, the nerd stereotype doesn’t hold any career option. Many characters in Revenge of the nerds show career promise due to their individual interests, but the qualities that define them as nerds do not in anyway social progress them. Social insensitivity in this case leads to social inadequacy. When these two stereotypes combine to form the Bad nerd stereotype however we can see that society values them differently. Elsye, the main protagonist of American Pie Presents Band Camp, is offered a major scholarship for her effort as a musician although, at her high school, she is considered a band nerd. We see in this circumstance that the band nerd stereotype has developed a positive stigma because of its reputation for providing its residents with careers and positive attributes. In this circumstance social insensitivity can lead to social adequacy

By comparing the nerd stereotype and the musician stereotype we can find how they both contribute to the band nerd stereotype, but also see in many cases that it has developed stigmas of its own.






















American Pie Presents Band Camp. Dir. Steve Rash and Brad Riddell.

Revenge of the Nerds. Dir. Robert Carradine, Anthony Edwards, Ted McGinley, and Jefferey Kanew.

School of Rock. Dir. Scott Rudin and Jack Black. Perf. Jack Black.

Grant, Jennifer B. “Band Geek Grievences.” Web log post. Teen Ink. N.p., n.d. Web. <;.

Sneakerhead and the Popular Culture

Sneakerhead and the Popular Culture

How many pairs of sneakers should a person own? Perhaps just one, two, or more? For me, there is no such thing as having enough sneakers. Because I am a sneakerhead.

 As I’ve grown up through different phases in life, my identities change over time; depending on where I am at, my focused identity changes accordingly. As a 21-year old male, I have multiple identities that I can associate with. One of my newer identities is influenced strongly by the popular culture I am surrounded with. This identity is “Sneakerhead.” Sneakerhead is commonly used to describe someone who is passionate about sneakers, and often collects them. I am so into this hobby that I often find myself scheduling my work and college assignments around sneaker release debuts. Even though I had never analyzed this aspect of my life, I realized how important my sneakerhead identity was while standing in a shoe line at five in the morning. There is definitely a great reason for my joy when getting a fresh pair of kicks, especially when I am committed to get them. Being a sneakerhead, there are values that I put into building trust, relationships with others, and commitment, besides building my own collection of rare and unique sneakers.

Since I was a kid, I have always liked sneakers. I remember looking at other kids’ new shoes or pictures in the magazines and wishing one day I would be able to afford them. I love playing basketball as well, and had always thought to myself as a kid that it was the shoes that made the players jump to high into the hoops. In high school, I started working and had some money for myself. I remember buying the first pair of sneakers with my first paycheck; they were only a pair of Jordan’s in the store, but I was very happy and felt like I accomplished something bigger than anything. Then I started to join online forums and communities, look through different websites, follow well-known sneakerheads, and look out for release dates. Hoping for beginner’s luck, I enter some raffles for limited sneakers, and actually won them. Other sneakerheads started to look at me differently, especially when I walked out the store with my pairs while they had to camp out for hours to get a chance to get them. Compliments become conversations, and eventually I had other sneakerhead-friends. We would keep each other up-to-date on sneaker release and other information through trust and the relationships we have built, while completing our own collections with our own taste.

Lammle (2012) gave a great summary of the history of sneaker collecting in his article. The sneaker collecting trend started around late 1970s as a part of the b-boy and hip-hop movement. Sneakers used to be like accessories to unique clothing, but slowly had their own stance.

When running across an article about sneakers, there are some exclusive slang terms that are used in the sneakerhead community. The site has a great list. Deadstock (DS) is one of the most common terms used, implying that the kicks are brand new and never worn or tried on. Limited Edition (LE) implies shoes that are produced in limited quantities and is only available in selected retailers. Player Exclusive (PE) is shoes that was produced according to a specific athlete’s willing, and customized with specific colors or patterns that march the athletes’ team or country affiliation. Collaboration (X) is common between footwear companies and streetwear brands. Hype is used to imply shoes that receive a lot of attention before the actual release date. Hypebeast is used to describe a person who takes the game to another level by wearing some of the most expensive and limited items (Sneaker Slang Glossary, n.d).

According to Lamle (2012), the sneaker movement hit mainstream America when Nike collaborated with Michael Jordan, the legendary basketball player, to produce the Air Jordans in 1985. Here is a picture of it:



This pairs of shoes were sold out quickly even at the retail price of $125 back then. They quickly became “a sought-after status symbol” (Lammle, 2012). Following this release, Nike continued to introduce new styles of Jordan’s every year. The shoes became so popular that back in 1990s, some estimated that approximately 1 in every 12 Americans had a pair of Air Jordan’s (Lammle, 2012). The popularity of Jordan’s created a trend among sneaker fans that always tried to have their kicks stand out. They hunted down limited, rare and vintage kicks. Today, it is usual for a sneakerhead to own more than 20 pairs of shoes.


Michael Jordan was seen wearing new shoes every game, which urged many people to buy the Air Jordans in the 90s.

But basketball is not the only aspect of sneakers. The sneakerhead culture has its roots in other media of entertainment such as art, hip-hop, and skateboard. Skateboarders were often seen wearing shoes such as Nike SB Dunks during their performance in many competitions. Many artists realized the potential of the shoe as a canvas, and often customize shoes to express their individuality and creativity with their own styles. Rappers such as Run-DMC were one of the pioneers to combine music and sneaker fashion into one medium (The American Sneakerhead, 2010).


Run-DMC rappers promoted the sneakerhead culture through their passion of shoes. They even created a song called “My Adidas”in 1986 that became a hit.

In the sneakerhead culture, there is always the urge to collect a shoe that no one has. To explain the price and limited editions, we have to take the supply and demand economic rule into consideration. If sneakers are considered as “heat”, it means that they are high in price and limited in number. Limited editions of shoes always create the “race” between sneakerheads to see who can get them first. Hype about certain kicks is created within the communities online, as information is posted to inform date, time, and location of the sneaker debuts. Nike and Adidas, most well-known sneaker companies in the U.S, create limited editions of shoes to create brand awareness and media attention. Once the shoes are gone, they are gone. After that, they can be seen on other sites such as Ebay or Craiglist with high price tags, implying how “limited” and worthy they are (The American Skeanerhead, 2010).

Personally, I remember waiting up on release information on Tweeter and Facebook all the time. The purchase can either be online, or lining up at the stores. But it is important to keep in mind that this is a race between sneakerheads. I would not be the only one who is waiting on a post, and ready to make a purchase at any second. There have been many times when as soon as the information is out, if I am a few seconds behind others, the shoes would be sold out.



This is an example of Twitter post informing releases. Notice how the posts are only seconds apart

Further complicating the process, an online purchase does not guarantee the shoes. Often stores would do first-come-first-serve sneaker debut. For example, if there are only 50 pairs available at a store, people would want to line up early in order to have the better chance to get them in their desired size. So any line up can start hours before the store is opened. Here are some common scenes that would be at a sneaker debut event:





My favorite way to get the new releases is through raffles. I can come into the store, sign up for raffles, and if I win the pairs they would call me. This method has been more popular among the stores in order to lessen the hectic of waiting in line and the potential complications that can follow. Raffles can also be sold at exclusive sneakers events, where people have to buy tickets to get into in order to have the chance to win one of the very limited pairs. I once won a pair of Yeezy, which is designed by Kanye West, and are one of the most sought-after pairs in the sneakerhead community. Here is a picture:


Yes, those pair of sneakers worth at least $2000 in the market right now. My rent for a few months sum up in a sneaker form.

Besides line hassles, more complications which can possibly happen at shoes release events include negative media attention. I will throw a popular quote out: “When you do something good, no one remembers. When you do something bad, no one forgets.” This is how the sneakerhead community has been negatively portrayed in the media more recently. A few weeks ago, a 14-year-old boy was arrested for shooting a 15-year-old teen at a sneaker-release event. Here is the link to the article: The reason behind the shooting was that the teen was cutting in line at the event. The article was brief, but I notice the language used, which is similar across many other comparable articles. The age of the boys was mentioned repeatedly. The focus of the article can be summarized into how young the boys were, how a gun was fired, over a cutting-line at a sneaker release. Other details were not mentioned in the article, such as whether or not any conversations occurred, any supervisors, the witnesses, or anything else. At the end of the article, it mentioned another past “nearly a riot” helped contributing a negative image about sneakerheads (NBC New York, 2014).

Through the help of media, many people can have the false assumption of sneakerheads as a whole. In the article above, for example, a reader can make certain assumptions about shoes collectors: that they are young, impulsive, violence, impatient, and lack of negotiation skills. This is nowhere close to my experience of lining up outside the sneaker release events. This might be a very rare case, but all of the debuts I have been to, everything is normal – people behaved politely, they are civil, and conversations are exchanged normally and regularly. Nevertheless, tensions at times are inevitable. In early 2005, police were called over the Nike store in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. A group of people was trying to barge ahead of campers who had been waiting at the store for 48 hours (The American Skeakerhead, 2010).

Incidents like these can create a misperception of the sneaker culture. Some people think it is a waste of money, effort, and time; others think that sneakerheads are taking the sneaker-game too seriously, perhaps because it is something which is difficult to explain to someone that is outside of this culture. I will try my best to elaborate on this from a personal level. There is a wide extent to which a person can go for a hobby.

Collecting sneakers is just another hobby, similar to that of collecting exotic insects or Pokemon cards. But once a person is able to get what he or she wants, it is a sense of accomplishment and pride. This, in fact, would be how I summarize my experience as a sneakerhead. I only collect pairs of shoes that I personally like, those that fit with my personality and my fashion taste. If I happen to collect a pair that is popular, but perhaps I don’t really like, I would sell or trade them to another sneakerhead who is interested in them.

A sneakerhead cannot do well unless he or she is in the community, because that’s where the support is. Members in the sneakerhead community help each other complete their personal collections. In some way, this brings a sense of individuality and exclusivity because every sneakerhead owns a collection that reflects his or her style, personality, and sneaker-game (McGee, 2012). No sneaker collections are similar, because each is built depending on the collector’s individuality. However, it also gives a sense of community. By doing the same thing, having the same belief, and having faith and trust in each other, sneakerheads help each other to grow.

By being a sneakerhead, I have learned how to work with others, as well as compete with them in a fair way – by compete I mean to scoret the shoes I want before others do. There is not a true sense of competition between has a better, or more expensive, collection. Collecting the rarest and unique sneakers is an individual competition within a group setting. Being a true sneakerhead means being able to create a unique collection which truly represents the sneakerhead him/herself.


Lammle, R. (2012). Sneakerheads: A brief history of sneaker collecting. Retrieved from

McGee, M. (2012). Why I’m a Sneakerhead. Retrieved from

NBC New York (2014). Teen shot in foot for cutting line for Nike “Yeezy” sneakers, 14 year-old charged: NYPD. Retrieved from

The American Sneakerhead (2010). The Mid-Atlantic Lounge. Retrieved from

Sneaker Slang Glossary (n.d). Retrieved from

Car Enthusiasts

Jad Farah

Popular Culture Mirror Essay



Car Enthusiasts 

Throughout my childhood and growing up, cars have always been a huge part of my life. My uncle bought and sold cars for a living, so you could say I was around them all the time. I still remember playing with my little toy cars and remote control cars. I started learning how to drive at the age of twelve, my dad took me to a parking lot and let me sit in his lap while I steered, it was the most amazing feeling of my life, the thrill of something so powerful and so quick yet being able to control it had me taken away. Of course he was not going to let me sit in the driver seat alone anytime soon. The day I turned fifteen I got my permit and started actually practicing to drive on main roads and by sixteen I had already had my license. My uncle then gave me his old BMW, ah my first car. You could say as a sixteen year old I had a fairly nice car even though it was a ten-year-old car at the time. That is when I first really became interested in making modifications to my car to make it look cooler and function better. The movie series Fast and Furious was already on the top of my charts for favorite movies and I seemed to want to make it reality. However, these movies gave a bad vibe to society, they showed that car lovers only cared about racing, action, partying, drugs, and cars. On the contrary, this stereotype is an overgeneralization of how car enthusiasts really are.. Why is it that society automatically assumes that people who are car enthusiasts are what someone would call “bad?” Car enthusiasts are viewed as “bad” because of social media meaning society as a whole will view them as “bad.”

“I live my life a quarter mile at a time. Nothing else matters: not the mortgage, not the store, not my team and all their bullshit. For those ten seconds or less, I’m free.” (Fast and Furious) This quote inspires me, because it tells a story, it is saying that when he is driving for those ten seconds when he speeds off nothing else matters to him, he is free, and this is how I feel. These movies are a big reason I am the way that I am to this day. They are what got me into the car scene from the beginning, so much that I have a memorial sticker of one of the main actors in these films Paul Walker on the back of my car. Nevertheless, no matter how much I loved these movies they are what made the car scene seem the way society assumes it to be today. “You almost had me? You never had me – you never had your car… Granny shiftin’ not double clutchin’ like you should. You’re lucky that hundred shot of NOS didn’t blow the welds on the intake! You almost had me?” (Fast and Furious) As you can see there are many quotes that show off a certain vibes from the films. This one in particular shows that these car enthusiasts are here to race, which ultimately leads into people looking down upon them. Nonetheless, that is what these type of movies were all about. No one is interested in seeing a movie with no action and no drama, there always has to be some type of plot behind these action based movies and this is why society thinks about car enthusiasts the way they do. People in American society watch movies of this sort and put together one and one, assuming that the whole population of car enthusiasts are like that. On the other hand, I am not trying to prove that all car enthusiasts are not like that because I am very certain that some are, but for everyone to get punished because of those who are this way in the car enthusiasts community is just cruel. Due to being looked down upon, we suffer from being stopped by cops more often for not even doing anything wrong. Just because we have a bad vibe they feel that it is more okay to pull us over.

Top Gear is a British television series about motor vehicles, primarily cars, and is one of the most watched factual television shows in the world. It all began in 1977 as a motoring magazine program. Over time, and especially since a re-launch in television type in 2002, it has developed a humorous and educational program making it easier to understand aspects of car enthusiasts lives. The program is currently presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, and has featured at least three different test drivers known as “The Stig”. The show is estimated to have around 350 million views per week in 170 different countries. Its purpose is to inform the audience about cars and what they are capable of doing. The audience in this show varies in age a great deal. This show was surprisingly one of the first to make car enthusiasts seem “good.” It seemed to have intellectual men as actors on the show, not someone who would set off a bad vibe. It showed us as risk takers, people willing to go to extremes to prove a point, or to prove that they are better. It showed us as handy men, people who are knowledgeable in the garage, have a strong social network, and most of all friendly. That is what the car scene is all about, friends, you will never go and be shunned or teased. Everyone is friendly and kind to one another and everyone wants new comers to be a part of it that way they can experience how it really is, not how it is portrayed in the movies. Top Gear does a really good job in showing how enthusiastic people are about cars and how handy some people can be.

Stancenation and Lowerstandards are both websites made by people who take pictures and videos of those who have taken extreme measures to make their cars they way they are.  This source is completely different from the rest, it has a wider range of audience members than the movie series Fast and Furious however, a lower range in age difference than Top Gear. These websites attract a very direct and knowing audience. These websites are for people who are in love with cars, people who are willing to spend endless hours and endless paychecks on their cars. The cars on these websites are unbelievable, cars from all around the world that people own, artwork per say shown off just like in an art museum. These websites don’t necessarily generate money but do have a huge influence on people to make their cars more unique. That alone makes people go out and spend big dollars on equipment and accessories for their cars. I believe that the camera has a huge role in these websites; each picture is taken at a different angle with a different background to emphasis on what the owner of the car is trying to say. Some cars look nice and shinny, while other cars look mean and vicious and this is all done through a camera and its background. Depending on the lighting of the picture, something that’s nice and shinny can come off as having a matt finish to it making the whole car look completely different. Another aspect to these sites is the fact that they are not advertised nor have any commercials about them; they are all communicated through the car community and people who are influenced by cars. I found these sites because of friends of friends who told their friends about them, each car is so unique and that is why I stated this source has a complete different audience to it. These are more of the type of car enthusiasts I am into, people who modify the way their cars look and function to make them better and unique. “Thought id share some of my recent works. I’ve found a niche with my automotive stuff using heavy amount of strobes with everything I do…. enjoy..” (Stancenation) [sic] As you can see, many people on these websites are not even car enthusiasts anymore, this scene has become so big it has transformed into artwork.

Society automatically assumes car enthusiasts are “bad” because of what is portrayed in today’s media. However, society does not read between the lines to see what is actually going on. Just because the media views something as “bad” is it really bad? Media, such as the films Fast and the Furious or Need for Speed, show what the people want to see, action of course. However, in reality do you think car enthusiasts are going to be racing down the streets, crashing into cars, and jumping over bridges? Of course not, in reality, we are all getting together and showing off our cars, seeing how and what we can do to make them better. Car enthusiasts have taken it so far, you need passion, artwork, and willpower to be able to make cars look and function how people have before. So in the end, are we partying, racing, smashing into other cars, and doing drugs? No, we are not, we are gathered as friends to show the community that we are not bad, we are good and are here to help others see what cars are about.



Works Cited

The Fast and Furious. Dir. Rob Cohen. Writers. Ken Li. Gary Scott Thompson.

            Erik Bergquist. David Ayer. 2001

Top Gear. Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson, James May. 2002

The Southern Acquaintance on Television

My grandfather was born and raised in St Martinville, a small town in St Martin Parish, Louisiana. His family lines trace way back through early Acadian settlement times. He spoke both French and English in the Cajun fashion. He was a sweet man, and wise. He never went to college, spoke with a thick Cajun accent, and worked as a body mechanic. He passed away a couple years back. Every now and again I search for any traces of him in the television shows I watch. I love television, and I am fascinated with the shows portraying Louisiana. Though the Southerner I often see on the small screen isn’t particularly flattering. In the article “Prime Time Dixie: Television’s View of a “simple” South”, Marsha McGee writes that television is bias in its portrayal of people in the South (as well as women and minorities). She attributes this to television being dominated and controlled by “white liberal, West Coast and Northeastern urban males” (McGee, 1983:100). From where I’m sitting, American television programming has created a narrow and derogatory portrayal of Southerners as simple-minded, uncivilized, conservative folk, attributing any ethnic traits to under-education and lack of exposure rather than cultural heritage preservation.

When my grandfather was in his early 20s he moved out to New Orleans, where he met my grandmother, whose family recently emigrated from the Netherlands. After several years in New Orleans, they returned with their daughter to St Martin Parish, settling on a little town called Breau Bridge just outside of Lafayette, Louisiana. This is where I was born. Though I was raised going to school in Savannah, Georgia, I spent my summers and holidays in Breau Bridge with my grandfather. After my parents passed I went and lived with my grandfather year round. Now that I live on the West Coast, with my grandfather passing, I’m left with books, movies, and television programming as a reference to my beginnings. Since we don’t have a lot of time here, and I already finished the first paragraph, I’ll just focus on TV.

Vampires love Louisiana. They love it. I’m not sure why, they just do. Ann Rice’s vampires hail from New Orleans. This is also serves as the setting for the WB’s series The Originals, a spin off from the Vampire Diaries. And Northwestern Louisiana plays home to HBO’s hit series True Blood. Really Louisiana abounds with superstition and dark magic. The horror show Coven, about a group of witches, also takes place in New Orleans. True Blood is a supernatural drama about vampires attempting to gain acceptance in the human world. We follow the romantic relationship between an odd human, Sookie Stackhouse, and her vampire lover, Bill Compton. The show depicts a sexy, seedy Louisiana, in a small town. The townsfolk revel in drug use, fanatic religious practices, and sex. The only employment represented in the first episode is bartending, waiting tables, road construction, drug dealing, and retail sales in what looks like a Walmart. The Louisiana displayed is one of an uneducated, low income, drug and alcohol affected population that ends up on either end of the spectrum between religious fanaticism and hedonism.

Jason Stackhouse is Sookie’s brother. His Southern accent is thicker than most other characters on the first episode. He is also something of an idiot. We struggle uncomfortably watching him try and (unsuccessfully) lie his way through a conversation with the Sheriff. This scene ends with his arrest for suspicion of murder. Jason is both over sexualized and undereducated and serves as a bit of comic relief for the otherwise dark show. Several other supportive characters display not much more in the ways of intelligence or complex existence. The only Cajun featured in the first episode, Rene Lenier, does seem to have his wits about him. Though he turns out to be a serial killer later on. Par en sous.

Reality television has become the definitive source for all things Southern for the rest of the nation. Authors Allison Slade and Amber Narro explain that reality television producers go through a rigorous casting process in order to select extreme representations of ethnic personalities. This makes for more entertaining television (Slade and Narro, 2012:15). An example Slade and Narro provide us with is an episode of the series My Big Redneck Wedding in which the wedding party wears camouflage and the groom presents the bride with a pink shotgun. Then there is of course The Real Beverly Hillbillies. Considering that the original scripted series may have served as one of the earliest comedies focused around Southern idiocy as its source for humor, it is not without a hint of irony that this reinvention of the show may have been the catalyst that solidified the Southern stereotype in the world of reality television (Slade and Narro, 2012:15).

Writer Andre Cavalcante describes reality television stars as “fundamentally value loaded” (Cavalcante, 2014:41). Cavalcante explains that these cast members embody either good or bad positions in a field upon which we use to establish constitutions for behaviors which govern social life. He goes on to state that “As a result, the reality genre encourages a form of hyper-discriminating viewership, in which the audience engage in practices of comparison, criticism, and evaluation” (Cavalcante, 2014:41). These evaluations can be seen carried out in discourse on television show websites and Facebook pages.

The Clampets are an example of an extreme representation used to cast a television show. My Big Redneck Vacation follows the Louisiana family around the nation, filming their misadventures in cities such as Washington D.C., Las Vegas, and Miami. I recently watched an episode that took place in Beverly Hills, California (and here again at the start of it all!) The family members are forced into a variety of unfamiliar situations- the surf shop, gym, plastic surgery office, etc. In one scene the Clampets attend a Hollywood party. The family is then documented yelling and cursing and starting an upside down beer keg stand. The primary purpose of the show seems to be to catch the cast members in awkward social situations. The result is a depiction of Southerners as imbecilic.

Another example of extreme casting is Blimp. Timothy “Blimp” Cheramie is a shrimper on the show Ragin Cajuns. Blimp is extremely overweight, has poor dentition, long straggly hair, and performs the “Blimp dance” when he pulls in a load of shrimp. But to credit Discovery Channel’s Ragin Cajuns, they do present five other shrimpers who do not present in a comical fashion. Despite the title, which gives attaché to the old concept of Cajuns being extraordinarily exuberant (laissez les bon temps rouler!), the show does a fairly decent job of representing Cajuns in a more respectable light. The men are seen working hard on their boats in order to support their families. A few suspenseful scenes were shot featuring the men using their experienced nautical skills to navigate treacherous storms and saving their boats from capsizing.

A particularly endearing storyline in Ragin Cajuns is developed as the 50 year old, fourth-generation shrimper Acy Cooper. Acy is filmed with his family and his attempt to pass on the family tradition to his son, Trae Cooper. Trae inherits the Lacey Kay from his father, a boat which survived Hurricane Katrina. Much of the show centers on Hurricane Katrina and the devastation left behind, and the shrimpers’ struggles to regain their livelihoods. Acy is depicted as intelligent and experienced, and provides assistance and leadership to the other men.

All the men in Ragin Cajuns speak Cajun English, which is a dialect primarily found in Southern Louisiana, while folk in the Northern part of the state speak with a drawl more similar to much of the Southern states. Southern accents are often associated with the stereotypes presented in television. Slade and Narro use Chaotic, the reality series documenting the lives of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline as an example. In keeping with the appeal and purpose of the show, which is to portray Spears with what the authors call a “white trash inferiority,” Spears exchanges her slight “cutesy” accent for a heavy Southern drawl. The authors state that the Southern accent is not often “considered professional or proper” (Slade and Narro, 2012:8). This association between lack of professionalism or under education with Southern dialect is not necessarily accurate. Slade and Narro state that progressive Southerners may hold onto their accent as a way to hold onto their identity as Southerners. Connie Eble, Professor of English and linguist at University of North Carolina, writes at length about Louisiana dialect. She states that the people of Southern Louisiana hold tight to their culture, including their language. Their rich history of French, Spanish, Native American, and African decent meshed together to create a culture distinguished from the rest of the South, and the rest of the nation. The pride that comes from this uniqueness is evident in the preservation of the dialect (Eble, 2003:174). As immigrants moved into Southern Louisiana from Germany, Italy, and Ireland, American English took root. Cajun French was reduced to the swamplands. However, many people retained the Cajun French influence in their English pronunciation. As in French, the final consonant is often dropped from words, e.g. “stan” for stand and “tole” for told (Eble, 2003:178). This is known as Cajun English.

While it becomes clear that the use of Southern dialect, or any dialect for that matter, may be at times an act of cultural preservation and identity; television does not do the best job at conveying this thought. Slade and Narro provide us with an example from the Simpsons. In the episode Lisa Simpson worries that she will become a failure like the men in her family. She then has a nightmare in which she is overweight and living in a trailer with a husband sporting a wife-beater and lots of children. The significant part of this dream sequence, in which Lisa is a ‘failure’: she now speaks with a Southern accent (Slade and Narro, 2012:14).

My own Louisiana accent was diluted with my time spent in Savannah. When I moved out to California at age 14, I became very self-conscience of my accent, and did my best to suppress it and learn the West coast dialect. While I am now very comfortable with my identity and heritage, I’ll admit I get a rush of nerves whenever I have to speak in front of a class. It’s funny, but television has instilled in me a fear that others base their opinions of Southerners on what they see represented on television, and will therefore scrutinize me for any traces of bigotry, conservatism, religious fanaticism, and ignorance. People of color, women, gender and sexual minorities, elders, and people in all the non-homogenized majority classes typical of Caucasian North, seem subject to the portrayals provided us by television. Author Marsha G. McGee sums this up with the statement “television shapes the souls” (McGee 1983:100).

The true Louisiana, and the South in general, is a landscape of diversity and cultural heritage. Progressive schools of thought and education do exist, however a strong sense of cultural preservation holds us to traits, particularly language, that have become associated with negative depictions. Carl A. Brasseux, author, historian, and native Acadian writes “The ethnic diversity behind the façade of homogeneity created by promotional literature has led some modern ethnographers to identify the Acadiana region as the home of North America’s most complex rural society” (Brasseux 2011:1). I’ve never returned to the South since coming out to the west coast. My grandfather passed away a couple years ago, and he was the last of my kin. Despite all the ridiculousness that is television, I do have a tendency toward watching anything doing with Louisiana. I think a part of me is trying to find some small hint at my grandfather, a token of my own fractured reflection, mixed up in all the mess. Every once in a while I catch a glimpse. Joie de vivre!



Sources Cited


McGee, Marsha G. ” Prime Time Dixie: Television’s View of a “simple” South ” Journal of American Culture: 6: 100-109.1983.

Slade, Allison, and Narro, Amber J. “An Acceptable Stereotype: The Southern Image in Television Programming.” Mediated Images of The South. A Portrayal of Dixie in Popular Culture. Lexington Books 2012

Eble, Connie C. “The English of Southern Louisiana”. English in the Southern United States. Cambridge University Press, New York. 2003.

Brasseux, Carl A. “Acadiana: Louisiana’s Historic Cajun Country”. Louisiana State University Press. 2011.

“Strange Love.” True Blood. Home Box Office. New York. 7 September, 2008. Television.

“Taran & James.” My Big Redneck Wedding. Country Music Television. Nashville. 18 April, 2009. Television.

“Beverly Hills, CA.” My Big Redneck Vacation. Country Music Television. Nashville. 20 April, 2013. Television.

“Shrimping, Storming, and Stabbing.” Ragin’ Cajuns. Discovery Channel. Maryland. 24 January, 2012. Television.

“Lisa the Simpson.” The Simpsons. Fox Broadcasting Company. Los Angeles. 8 March, 1998. Television.



Asian Stereotype

Rainier Balboa

Professor Daneen Bergland

Pop Culture

01 June 2014


Asian Stereotype

Asian, one of the first things that comes to mind might be “oh, Asian can’t drive,” or “look at those Asian dancers over there.” These are just some common saying on how the general public view a specify ethnicity such as Asian. Why does everyone say so many negative things about the Asian Culture? It’s because the Asian background have this high level of willpower on certain areas, when we are portrayed in the media everyone assume that every Asian is good at math or studying medicine because that how we are being portrayed into our society.

One problematic Asian stereotype is that Asian cannot drive ( We hear from time to time Asians can’t drive because they are always in the fast lane but driving slow and cause problems for other drives. Yet they complain that other people around them say “this people can’t drive and are dangerous to others.” For example, this was one of the reasons why my mother was so hesitant for me to get my driver’s license at the age of 16. Being the typical parent my mother can be she would go above and beyond to give me any reason why I couldn’t go out driving in order for me to stay home and not drive.

In addition to the common assumption that all Asians drive carefully or slowly in the fast lane, another stereotype is they also leave their blinker on for 2 miles or so without realizing that their blinker is on. Causing problems for others when they see a car with the left or right blinker on but they never turn until 2 or 3 miles down the road. They can be harmful to others because the cars behind that person with that blinker on is going to stay behind that person until they turn but never does causing congestion behind them and making other drivers upset and can cause accidents. For example, ( With this meme, this picture give an actually portrayal rather than what happen in real life. With that being said, having an accident with an Asian driver is one of the many things people don’t like, reason being if Asian driver is in accident they will not or try to attempt to speak little or no English causing frustration with other drivers to get upset with them while trying to exchange information for accident report. However these accusations are not true because, Asian driver aren’t the causing the accident. What are causing accidents in the United State are the people who are inexperience or drunk driving. Those claim are the main cause of accident on the road these day.

Furthermore, I represent this portrayal sometimes because I do in fact drive carefully [slowly] in the fast lane at times and other times I drive really fast. I usually get the typical stereotype from my friends saying, “Oh, you can’t drive,” or “you drive really fast!” One artifact that influenced me is the video of this Asian guy that gets in this car and puts the car in neutral and start to rev up and the girl in the passage seats next to him asked him what he was doing. Then he awkwardly put the car in drive and pulls away. One thing that I discovered is that what he does is really true because when I first started to drive I would always rev up my car in front of my friends show off my car.

Dancing is a big part of the Asian community; it brings together friends and shows other what they can’t express with word. In this video (, the couple is portrayed from the beginning in the relationship then is struggling with the internal problem that they are having. This is shown through the different phases throughout the video. In the beginning of the video, the couple meets at a party and throughout the scene they had that spark of interest in them following them out of the room into the next scene called the “the honeymoon scene.”

In this scene, the couples are doing what any ordinary couple would do go on dates, and have fun spending time together. At this point, they are dancing together out in the park, showing their new young love of each other and demonstrate that through the different movements ending up with that first kiss. Moving throughout the video, the couple are still dancing and showing the reality, the inevitable disagreements, fights, and pain. But through it all persistence keeps the bond between each other strong.

I’m represented in this artifact because I always look at chorography videos on YouTube of couples dancing and one stereotype of Asian is that they are goo dancers. One thing that reflects back on me is that I always get asked by my parents or uncles and aunties is if I dance. I would usually reply back with “no auntie, no uncle.” What question that I always asked myself is, “why do Asian-American love to dance so much?” to answer that I had to go into the comment and description of the video “Sweater Weather- Choreo by Julie Zhan & Can Nguyen.” What Julie write in her description is that, she “…wanted to explore something a bit less literal and a just a tad experimental.” One thing that popped in my head is, she wanted to try something new and also express the ways she feels about being in a relationship and the show through her dance the ups and down of a relation. One problem that I see is that there are too many Asian-American dancers and I agree that there are way too many.  Some examples to follow are:

Finally, talent is another stereotype that is portraying Asian because; we are simply all good at talent. Wong Fu Production is a group of guys that set out to create short video and clips about life or just making video to laugh as such as: (, This video talks about how two couple are in a fight and how they want to make up but in the end they cause more problem towards one another. This video is funny but also give a sense to the viewers about relationship. Another video is called “She Has a Boyfriend,” (, in this video, we have a young man meeting a nice young women that he is very attracted to but only to find out that she has a boyfriend. This video is very entertaining but always gives views about how a typical guy wondering on how to get a girlfriend. Wong Fu video can be very entraining but also they can give a message towards the viewers and giving a different look or aspect to that one specific area.

Growing up within an Asian house hold I was expected to have a great job, earn a lot of money, and send money back home to my country. We all have a culture value that we all look at because of what we were taught growing up. Go to school, get a good job and take care of the family. The on value that our parent didn’t recognize that we all have hidden talent within us, either it’s through driving really fast on the freeway trying not to crash or dancing our heart and soul out on stage or even making funny video that we can enjoy with out friends. The word stereotype doesn’t hold us back about whom we are however we take that word and use it as a strength to achieve far better than what we are expected of. We are influential people, recognize our achievement not just portrayal.

Jewish Assimilation: its prominence as a subject in current times and how Popular Culture affects it.

Jewish Assimilation: its prominence as a subject in current times and how Popular Culture affects it.

Nimi Einstein, Sunday, May 18, 2014


If there is one long lasting, self-aware community, it is the Jewish People. For whatever reason, we have always been concerned about passing on the tradition, and the loss of said tradition has been the biggest fear. Within almost 4000 years, the Jewish people have lived and died, been fortunate and not, but most importantly, have been together and aware of the importance of holding on. In my research within popular culture, I have stumbled upon a couple of different articles talking about Jewish assimilation into American culture, and I would like to share them to discuss why assimilation so important as a topic, and how popular culture can influence and affect our perception of it.

At around 1800 BCE, Judaism began with Abraham. 400 years later, the Israelites where enslaved in Egypt and one hundred years after that, Exodus; the Jews departed for Israel. 600 years later, the Jews where in Israel and the first temple was completed. Another 400 years and the first temple was destroyed, many wars happen in between and come the year 7O CE (approximately,) and the second temple was destroyed with the Romans ruling Jerusalem. Fast forward almost 2000 years, and WWII and the Holocaust ravages Jewish populations in Europe. A little bit later and the state of Israel is founded.

We are now in 2014 and the loss of Jewish culture and tradition is still up among the biggest and most talked about issues within the Jewish community. In 2014, unlike when it first started, Judaism has many different denominations and all of them identify as Jewish. The first split is that of religious and secular. While most people would not identify as Christians, Muslims, and etc. if they where not religious, many Jews identify as Jews even if they do not practice Judaism religiously, I being one of them. After the religious / non-religious split we have several main groups: Alternative, Classical, Reform, Conservative, Humanistic, Haymanot, Karaite, Liberal, Orthodox, Progressive, Reconstructionist, Reform, Renewal, and Traditional. Each practice Judaism differently; some reading the Torah, (the main Jewish religious text) more literally and some interpret parts more loosely. In the end, all of these denominations and sects were born out of the same roots, but between the different groups, like any large group of people, there are always problems, controversies and politics.

The first noteworthy article I found while researching was an eight-paragraph op-ed in a leading Israeli online newspaper “Ynet” called Dangers of assimilation. In it, the author, Bambi Sheleg, is telling us about Rabbi Yuval Cherlow’s trip to America to visit with American Jews and learn about the problems of assimilation. Rabbi Cherlow, who is a prominent religious teacher and helps run the Tzohar rabbinical organization, came back to Israel with horrifying news of American assimilation. He published an article discussing horrible number of Jewish loss in culture.

“It is estimated that about 50% of students who can be linked to Judaism do not have two Jewish parents. Some very serious studies show that 5% of New Yorkers who identify themselves as Jews are not Jews according to any definition (not even the Reformist definition) and have not gone through any conversion process – even Reform conversion – yet they still consider themselves to be Jewish.”[1]

Rabbi Cherlow is part of the Jewish Orthodox tradition that is very strict with the rules of the Torah. The Reform movement that he discusses is a much newer interpretation of Judaism, which started in Europe but has gotten very large in the United States. Since the movement started, there has been a big conflict between the Orthodox and Reform movement due to the Orthodox movement not accepting Reform as a legitimate Jewish religious group. Instead of focusing on Rabbi Cherlow’s efforts in stopping assimilation, Sheleg comments on this religious arguments within different religious groups saying that

“This is one of our greatest national tragedies: One cannot discuss any existential issue without being accused of crossing the lines.”[2]

Sheleg then throws in the Holocaust and talks about loss of life and really uses guilt to say that we are all in this together, so everyone should be accepting of each other. With a title like Dangers of assimilation, in a very large newspaper, I assume that many readers arrived to this web article to listen to solutions and outcomes. Because this opinion article instead brings in a victimized point of view instead of a factual, enthusiastic, and optimistic push, I believe that readers could get discouraged about the problems of assimilation and would not be hopeful for the future. I think that is a key ingredient in continuing to cherish and enjoy a tradition.

Sheleg also does not provide us with a link to Rabbi Cherlow’s article. After much personal searching for this article, I found many other reactions to it, but no copy of the original text. Among the many blogs and articles, several where White supremacist pages. One user on a website named storm front, white pride world wide named “White Dude” states

“I find it really interesting how it’s okay for Jews to protest their assimilation and third worlders moving to Israel. But if Whites protest our assimilation and the third worlders invading our countries, we’re called “racists”.”[3]

If articles like this give ammunition for people to hate, I do not see how it is a worthwhile cause. Why would a person decide to continue being part of a community who constantly excludes members due to beliefs?

The second article I found was much more uplifting in nature. Viewpoint: Judaism is Too Afraid Of Assimilation written by Douglas Rushkoff, Oct. 01, 2013 on Time magazine’s online Op-ed forum discusses problems with trying to stop assimilation and the alienation that can occur when positive intentions are not implicated well. Rushkoff ends his history laden, tongue in cheek article with very happy twist.

“All Judaism needs to do is bite its tongue and stop putting this frightened, scarcity-based logic at the forefront of its effort to engage its people. Instead, spend as much time just doing and celebrating whatever Judaism means to you. The rest will follow.”[4]

An article like this, to me, is way more fun to read. By the end, I am optimistic. I finish it wanting to continue this tradition. In 2009, 3.4 million subscriptions of Time where sold. If you add the other people that read but didn’t buy the magazine, you will get a whole lot of people reading articles like this daily. It is these kinds of articles that take people who don’t usually think about assimilation and bring them to think about their ancestors. The people that think about assimilation and its problems are active in their Jewish lives, so really, you have to reach the ones who do not discuss it to change the problem.

The last article is much more informative. It doesn’t give any point of views or decides for you which way to look at this problem.Birthright Israel, By Shaul Kelner, teaches us about the Israeli program Birthright. The article, which is hosted on article is broken down into 4 sections; Birthright’s history, structure, controversies, and impact. The first two sections are based within the interworking of the organizations and the last two are quite longer and really delve into the outcome. Kelner really manages to bring in different parts of the issue to create an unbiased setting for us to take away our own outcome.

“Some critics have contended that the trips promote a vicarious Jewish identity centered on Israel, rather than on Jewish life in the tourists’ own countries. Others have argued that the trips reinforce a classical Zionist core-periphery model that implicitly devalues Jewish life in diaspora.”[5]

I truly appreciate both Kelner’s and’s approach to relaying information. I think that if I was curious about this issue that I would like to find a source of information that I could easily form my own opinion from.

It’s hard to say which of these authors is doing it right. The way we receive information through popular culture artifacts many times changes how we react to the material given. Beyond that, people differ greatly in what makes them tick, and there is no one way that people will listen.

I personally believe that each of these main authors are trying to help solve these issues. No matter how they put the information out to the world, they know that their platform of online articles reaches a large and diverse audience. I know that as our population increases and time goes on, more and more Jews will begin to assimilate into the populace, so outlets like this hold both power and importance as our communities try to continue our traditions.





Sheleg, Bambi. “Dangers of Assimilation.” Ynet News. 31 Dec. 2012. Web. 19 May 2014. <;.


Dude, White. “Rabbi Warns of “Dangers of Assimilation” for Jews – Stormfront.” Stormfront RSS. Web. 19 May 2014. <;.


Rushkoff, Douglas. “Is Judaism Too Obsessed with Assimilation?” Ideas Viewpoint Judaism Is Too Afraid Of Assimilation Comments. Time, 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 19 May 2014. <;.


Kelner, Shaul. “Birthright Israel.” Birthright Israel – My Jewish Learning. Web. 19 May 2014. <;.




[1] [1] Sheleg, Bambi. “Dangers of Assimilation.” Ynet News. 31 Dec. 2012. Web. 19 May 2014. <;.


[2] Sheleg, Bambi. “Dangers of Assimilation.” Ynet News. 31 Dec. 2012. Web. 19 May 2014. <;.


[3] Dude, White. “Rabbi Warns of “Dangers of Assimilation” for Jews – Stormfront.” Stormfront RSS. Web. 19 May 2014. <;.


[4] Rushkoff, Douglas. “Is Judaism Too Obsessed with Assimilation?” Ideas Viewpoint Judaism Is Too Afraid Of Assimilation Comments. Time, 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 19 May 2014. <;.

[5] Kelner, Shaul. “Birthright Israel.” Birthright Israel – My Jewish Learning. Web. 19 May 2014. <;.



Young Women In Media Today

“Young Women in Media Today”

Breanna Westby

Popular Culture: Looking In The Mirror Essay

June 1st 2014

   Within society today young women are constantly being objectified and being made to appear as sexual objects to please men. As a young woman I have grown up with people and advertisements saying how important it is for a woman to be beautiful and that I need to change in order to gain a man’s attention. Although women have made progress with getting away from the stereotype of being objects of pleasure, it has not yet disappeared in society today. Women are still displayed and believe to have large breasts, flawless skin, and big butts.

More than anything in the advertising world today women are seen with large revealing breasts. This is seen within Mark Waters’ movie, Mean Girls (2004), when the main antagonists of the movie are three young teenage girls with perfect figures and huge boobs. The movie shows these women wearing shirts that show off their chests and goes as far as to have the character, Karen Smith grab her own breasts and say that her breasts can tell when it is raining. By showing these women with ideal figures it is getting back to what Jean Kilbourne expressed in her video, Killing Us Softly 3 (Kilbourne, 1999), she says“…breasts are used to sell absolutely everything,” this is shown well when Olive from the movie, Easy A (2010), changes her look after lying about sleeping with a man over the weekend. By showing or making beasts seem larger it causes young women to believe this is how a woman is supposed to look. Growing up I saw millions of shows and movies of girls my age that show women in these views, it caused me to think that just because I was not as big chested as those girls then I was not pretty. When Olive from Easy A (2010), changes her tank tops for corsets that show more of her breasts she is suddenly surrounded by males who are interested in her service. For me a situation like that happened in high school in senior year when I decided that I wanted to wear brighter colors and started to wear dresses and skirts to school. I was getting attention for the first time from males just because I had changed what I wore and this caused me to think that the only reason a guy would like me is because I had big breasts. In reality, men don’t notice a woman unless there is a part of their body showing from behind their clothing, women with no cleavage is not as attractive as those that do have some in the minds of men today. Although breasts are used as selling points, showing women are sexual beings it is not the only aspect of a woman’s body that is used to objectify women.


Selling that women are objects or in some cases plastic, women are shown with idealized figures. Real young women are still assaulted with acne and other skin ailments in everyday life, except for television and the movies. Men are made to believe that a woman is only beautiful if she has flawless skin, no pimples, red marks or hairs anywhere on her face. The highly watched and loved show, Grey’s Anatomy (Rhimes, 2005), has three main characters in the beginning of their show, Christina Yang, Meredith Grey and Izzy Stevens, all of which have clean slick skin and not a blemish in sight. Their arms, legs, faces and stomachs are all in shape and unmarked by things such as hair of pimples. These women are not a realistic portrayal of how real women are, for a young woman such as me it is difficult to not have hair or pimples anywhere on my body. To this day I am still not seen as attractive because I have pimples, hair on my arms and am not skinny; this makes me believe that men are shallow and cruel. This is not true for some males that have approached me however, but now days it seems the unattractive girls of today do not stand a good chance in gaining the attention of young men. The women on Grey’s Anatomy (Rhimes, 2005), never appear with hairy legs or a zit on their cheek, which women in the real world have to deal with every day. In reality women have to go through the time consuming task of removing these imperfections on a normal basis because that is what society has been drilling into our heads since day one of being female. In high school no man would ask a girl out because she had acne, or she was not skinny enough, they never got the chance to get to know the woman underneath the surface. If a woman is seen with imperfect bodies then they are looked down upon and are made to believe that it is a failure on their part. The front of the body however is not the only thing that males today expect to be large.

Just as breasts are expected to be huge to the point of pain, so are women’s rear-ends. Butts are shown curved, big and attached to a slim waist; to men this is attractive and sexy. If a woman has a small butt or if it is hidden by a slight amount of back fat than that woman is not beautiful or desirable because they are not what they have seen on television today. An example of this is in Will Gluck’s movie, Easy A (2010), when Olive is over by the lockers and we see the side view of a young woman’s butt not even nine minutes into the film. The rear is round, plump and is still the main focus in the scene even with Olivia still in the background. Another part where the butt is idealized in this movie is when Olive’s best friend is wearing short shorts; the shorts leave little to the imagination and cling to her like a second skin. This is seen in modern day, especially in high schools and colleges. This just goes to show how women’s bodies are not respected in society, for a couple years ago it was not uncommon for women to have men grab their rear-ends in the hallways of Centennial High School. A friend of mine had her butt grabbed and another had a man reject her because she was ‘fat’. Women have learned that they need to show off what they have if they want to attract a person of the opposite gender and it is causing good decent women to believe that they need to use their intimate body parts to get a man. They also are made to think that they need to be so skinny that it starts to affect their health, and if they are unable to be skinny then it is a failure on their part. To this day people are telling my friends and I that we need to lose some weight and if we don’t then it will be unlikely that a man will find us attractive. As a woman of this day and age it is degrading and humiliating thinking that the only way to attract a guy is to basically sell your body instead of having a guy find you attractive because of your personality and smile.

By getting to know and deciphering these artifacts I was able to see that my idea of ways to attract a man and my idea of sexy came from television and experiences that taught me that a woman had to be a certain way. Now however, I see that media and people today are trying to intimidate young women and are degrading us so that we feel ashamed of our bodies. Women are still seen as objects of sexual pleasure and as a means to an end, but there is still hope out there for future generations to teach men that there is more to a woman than just big boobs, Barbie figure bodies and big butts. For me though, I am confident with my body and my morals of what is right and what is an insult to women. Hopefully in the future, women will be seen as the intellectual beings that they are and come out of the shadows of what is thought of to be ideal.

Citation Page:

Gluck, W. (Director). (2010). Easy A [teencomedy]. United States: California, Screen Gems.

Waters, M. (Director). (2004). Mean Girls [teencomedy]. United States: Canada, Paramount Pictures.

A hard da’ys night [Television series episode]. (2005). In Rhimes, S. (Executive Producer), Grey. California: ABC. Retrieved from

Kilbourne, J. (Performer) (1999). Killing us softly 3 [Web].

The Popularity of Soccer in America

Nikola Vukovic

Mirror Essay Final Draft


With the world cup just over the horizon, it’s exciting too see all the hype about soccer in the US. Most of my friends are showing interest by talking about soccer and even playing it rather then playing basketball, which is what we usually do. For someone that is passionate about soccer, the fact that American’s “like” soccer every 4 years is very interesting to me. I don’t understand how someone can ignore a sport for many years, and then suddenly become a “huge” fan for a few weeks. To find out why this is the case I will have to look at the history of soccer, how Americans view soccer and how soccer compares to other “American” sports in popularity.

“Na man play at the Fute-ball,” or “no man shall play football,” is what King James I of Scotland proclaimed in the Parliament after the growing incidents of violence and military indulgence in the sport of soccer. The fact that so many people were injured during soccer was because the primitive version had very few rules. The only objectives were the get the ball in the opposing team’s net by any means necessary.  This was very attractive to early man, because it had enough rules to justify the fact that they were playing a game, but it lacked enough rules to allow the players to get their aggressions out. Due to its aggressive nature soccer was never viewed as a major competitive sport anywhere in the world.

However about 200 years ago a major movement took place that ensured the modernization of soccer in Europe. In 1815 developments too place that made soccer popular in Universities, Collages, and Schools. Soccer was still considered a barbaric sport with a massive amount of potential. So popular English schools decided to make the game more civil by adding rules, rules that would later be called the Cambridge Rules. However when these rules were put into place, it was difficult to make everyone happy. Therefore the game was split up into two games. One was Rugby, which allowed many of the rules previously found in the primitive version such as tripping, shin kicking and also carrying the ball. The other game followed the Cambridge rules, which were the basis for modern soccer.

Then about 150 years ago the history of modern soccer was established in October of 1863. This was done because 11 representatives from various London clubs and schools met at the Freemason’s Tavern to set up common fundamental rules to control the matches amongst themselves. The result of this meeting was the formation of the Football Association. This was the last straw for the Rugby supporters, because in December of 1863 the Rugby Association finally split off from the Football Association in pursuit of their own game.

This was the big turning point for modern soccer, because now the game was independent from outside influence, which allowed it to grow. So for another 3 years it did just that, it grew until the Football Association firmly established the foundation of soccer in 1869. These firm foundations ensured that the game would be played with the feet by strictly banning any kind of handling of the ball. Once the rules were established the game’s popularity spread rapidly throughout the world. European countries, such as Italy, Spain, and Germany, were very quick to embrace the game, as did the South American countries such as Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.

In 1904 FIFA was established and by early 1930s various countries had different leagues operating with in them. The US didn’t join in the soccer hype until the 1960s where the popularity was first seen to grow. Two years after the 1994 World Cup was hosted by the US, the MLS was formed. Initially the league fared poorly because two teams were discarded due to financial reasons. However the MLS has rebounded and it has grown to 19 teams. This is very encouraging to see because it gives me hope that the US will one day adopt soccer like the rest of the world.

It’s no secret that soccer isn’t as popular in America when compared to the rest of the world. The game is considered to be the most popular sport in the world, but that excitement hasn’t transferred over to the US. Maybe that’s because the sport is very young in the US when compared to other countries. When Jimmy Conrad, a MLS player for 13 years, was asked why isn’t soccer as popular in the US he said,”I think it is popular in the U.S. I think the problem is, I mean you can just look at World Cup anytime there is a World Cup going on people stop and watch no matter if it is four in the morning or at ten at night whatever people find a way to make time to make that happen, so it is just kind of plugging into that kind of passion…” I absolutely agree with him when he says that we have to plug into that kind of passion. Being a fan of soccer isn’t just a sometimes thing. For fans from other countries, it’s a way of life. You need passion and love to wake up at 3 am to watch your favorite team play. I am one of those people and many of my foreign friends are the same way. But how does one become this way? Why aren’t American’s like this about soccer?

It is true that America values sport highly, because many children are introduced to sports through their parents at a very young age. This is so because an athlete is regarded highly in America. However the main sports are Basketball, Baseball and American Football, where soccer is left out and spectated by soccer moms and the sibling of the players. British writer Michael Mandelbaum said, “Even in as large and wealthy a country as the United States, where the national appetite for playing, and even more so for watching, games is enormous, the cultural, economic and psychological space available for sport is limited and that space is already taken. Baseball, American football and basketball have long since put down deep roots, claimed particular seasons of the year as their own (although they now overlap) and gained the allegiance of the sports-following public…” He also went on to say,” One in particular of those three sports – basketball – poses a singular obstacle to the national acceptance of football. The two are too similar for them both to succeed. Each belongs to the family of games whose object is to put a ball (or similar object) in a goal.” I for one don’t agree with Mr. Michael when he says that soccer has no “room” in American sports. If the game is good and fun to watch or play then people will make time for it regardless of the popularity of similar sports.

So then the problem might be that the game seems boring to people. In 2006, Steven M. Warshawsky argued that the disinterest has to do with the relatively low scores in soccer games. In his article he states, “My theory is that Americans have neither the belief system nor the temperament for such a Sisyphean sport as soccer. We are a society of doers, achievers, and builders. Our country is dynamic, constantly growing, and becoming ever bigger, richer, and stronger. We do not subscribe to a “zero sum” mentality. We do not labor for the sake of laboring. And we like our sports teams to score. Scoring is a tangible accomplishment that can be identified, quantified, tabulated, compared, analyzed, and, above all else, increased. This is the American way.” Its defiantly possible that Americans think that soccer is boring and they can’t see themselves watching people running back and forth for 90 minutes, especially if the game ends in a tie. In his 10 reasons why soccer isn’t popular in the US, Spenser T. Harrison said, “It has been said that a tie is like kissing your sister, and in soccer it happens 55 percent of the time.” He also said, “A soccer team generally scores as much as Steve Erkel. When your sport fails to notch as many points as a baseball game, there is a serious problem. It’s sad when a group of generally unathletic guys playing a sport in pants, in which there is a very real possibility that not a single bead of sweat will develop on them, still manage to have more scoring and excitement than soccer.”

For all the stick America gets for not embracing soccer, it is also interesting to think about why basketball or golf or Rugby aren’t the most popular sports in the world. Why has the world picked soccer over all those? American soccer critics will claim that basketball is more exciting because of the high scoring and the same goes for American football, but if that’s true then why doesn’t the rest of the world see it that way. If the higher scoring sport in generally more exciting, or better to watch, then why isn’t the whole world on board with basketball being the most popular. I think that the amount of scoring doesn’t matter; it’s the game that matters. I think people that don’t appreciate soccer either don’t like sports or don’t have the attention span necessary to watch what can often be a game of strategy, like chess, where the teams look for an opening to score. The game is very difficult to play, due to it being played with the feet, and therefore one cant simply run past the defense, using his strength to over power his opponents. Therefore the teams need to have a strategy to out smart each other while using their physical ability as support. Rather then relaying purely on their physical ability as their primary weapon such as many American football players do.



Works cited:

Warshawsky, Steven M. “Articles: Why Americans Don’t Like Soccer.”Articles: Why Americans Don’t Like Soccer. 25 June 2006. Web. 18 May 2014.

Reimink, Troy. “Why Isn’t Soccer More Popular in America?” 11 June 2010. Web. 18 May 2014.

Della Vava, Marco R. “ – Why the United States Doesn’t Take to Soccer.” – Why the United States Doesn’t Take to Soccer. USA Today, 07 July 2006. Web. 18 May 2014.

Mandelbaum, Michael. “Why America Hates Football.” Observer. Observe Sport Monthly, 1 Aug. 2004. Web. 18 May 2014.

Harrison, Spenser T. “Top Ten Reasons Soccer Isn’t Popular in the United States.” Bleacher Report. Bleacher Report, 5 May 2008. Web. 18 May 2014.

Jezek, Geno. “History Of Soccer.” History of Soccer. Web. 18 May 2014.

Conrad, Jimmy. “Why Isn’t Soccer More Popular in the U.S.?” YouTube. YouTube, 23 Apr. 2012. Web. 18 May 2014.

“Soccer in the United States.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 18 May 2014. Web. 18 May 2014.






What is Normal Anyways: Looking at Mental Illness in Popular Culture

What is Normal Anyways: Looking at Mental Illness in Popular Culture
Elise A. Ferguson
Portland State University

When I look in the mirror I see someone who looks happy, confident, and even pretty at times. On the inside, the part that nobody can see, my mind is going one hundred miles a minute. This is because, I suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and have long as I can remember. When I was a child I obsessed over things such as: spiders, my house catching on fire, my mother’s death, and staying over at other people’s homes (even family). As I got older my symptoms waxed and waned, with no distinct pattern. Although certain events in my life have set off periods of extreme anxiety, such as having my daughter when I was eighteen.
The treatment options I have tried are vast, with a few medications per doctors’ orders, throughout my life; yet I never stayed on any due to the amount of side effects. I work very hard to naturally cope with my disorder and to lead a normal life. This past year though, my mental state took a turn for the worse, and living a “normal” life has become extremely difficult.
Last year around March I started having health problems, and was put on multiple medications, which doctors changed rapidly. I got sick of all the side effects and the havoc that was reaping through my body, so I quit them all cold turkey. This wasn’t hard as I was never a pill taker, and I hate medicine. The hard part was all the side effects nobody ever warned me about, the physical and mental changes I had no idea I would go through. At the same time my normally Generalized Anxiety turned into many other forms, which are very debilitating. I now suffer from a horrid form of Hypochondriasis, which is now known as Health Anxiety. For the first time in my existence I have had full blown panic attacks, which are a terrible. I literally thought I was going to die the first few times and went to the hospital. All of this has made me look at the world around me very differently. I feel like I am always on the outside looking in. I may look “normal” to the outside world but internally I am constantly struggling to get through each moment.anxiety

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a mental illness, in which worrying is a very big part of your day. People with GAD often spend 60% of the day worrying, compared to those without anxiety, who worry about 18% of the day (National Institute of Mental Health). Anxiety can range from mild to severe, with some suffers not being able to complete normal everyday tasks (National Institute of Mental Health). According to the NIH, “Generalized anxiety disorders affect 6.8 million American adults, including twice as many women as men. The disorder develops gradually and can begin at any point in the life cycle, although the years of highest risk are between childhood and middle age” (National Institute of Mental Health).
I am now a Psychology major, and have learned so much about how common having a mental illness is, and how our society has this negative stigma towards those with a mental illness. Looking at popular culture, I have never seen a positive image of mental illness. It’s always a negative portrayal. Although some mental illnesses such as GAD and depression are very common, and quite ‘normal’, the sufferers are often viewed as being ‘crazy’. As someone who has a mental illness this can be very frustrating, and hurtful to see. The stigma’s surrounding mental illness are often used in the media to depict characters, alter news stories, and provide a false picture of who we are. For example, a trend that seems to be going on is looking at those with a mental illness as violent people, particularly males. One example of this is in the news currently, and it is a story about a soldier who has returned home from the war. This man has been treated in the past for Anxiety and Depression, and may have had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The man opened fire at the Fort Hood military base killing three people and injuring sixteen, he then proceeded to kill himself (CNN).
There are many sides to this news story and different articles mentioning different details. Lopez (the shooter), was on multiple medications such as Ambien, which can cause hallucinations among other side effects. Lopez also did not appear violent or have violent tendencies in any of his evaluations. This is the second shooting at Fort Hood within a five year span, and the army is lacking in necessary treatment for soldiers coming home from very traumatic situations. The media is making this story into a story about a man suffering with mental illness, which caused him to act out in violence. This may or may not be true, but there are other aspects to look at when trying to determine why Lopez did what he did.
The news source CNN has been known to be biased when reporting stories, often focusing on political opinion, and stories in favor of political affiliate’s views. CNN is not the only news source accused of false reporting or twisting stories, which happens frequently when a person with a mental illness is a headliner. What most people don’t know is that those with one or more mental illnesses are usually the victims of crime, not the perpetrators (Huss, 2009). This story shows a different side to the shooting that many may not consider,
“As Good as it Gets”, is a movie starring Jack Nicholson whose character suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder of the brain and behavior. OCD causes severe anxiety in those affected. OCD involves both obsessions and compulsions that take a lot of time and get in the way of important activities the person values” (International OCD Foundation). In the movie Nicholson’s character Melvin is portrayed as a very angry and violent man, who often has rude outbursts.

Although this is a very good film, it is not a correct depiction of how all people with OCD act. Having OCD does not cause you to be rude or violent, it simply means you have OCD and may also be a violent or rude person. One thing the film does well is depict Melvin going through his rituals such as locking the door multiple times. Those who have the need to preform rituals do not always do so in this manner or as severe, yet it gives viewers an idea as to what OCD can look like.
Another film that shows mental illness is, “Girl Interrupted”. The setting of the movie is primarily in a mental hospital so it shows many different characters who are ‘crazy’, especially Angelina Jolie’s character Lisa.

Lisa is very rude has no boundaries, and is at times violent. Her character is supposed to show sociopathic behavior, which is not an actual mental illness. This is not to say there is no such thing as psychotic or sociopathic behavior, it is just not a diagnosable mental illness (Huss, 2009). This behavior along with the diagnosable Anti-Social Personality disorder and Schizophrenia, are mental illnesses in which the sufferers may actually display and act out in extreme violence. Many of those who are incarcerated have one of these issues (Huss, 2009). Yet we should not let these examples lead us to believe that all of those suffering with mental illness, or even these specific mental illnesses, act out in violence or act ‘crazy’.
An article I found discusses some of the reasons the media tends to portray mental illness negatively, but does list a few instances where things are more accurate.
I don’t think the creators of all media depictions are meant to be negative or full or stigmas. Take “The Aviator”, for example which portrays the non-fictional character Howard Hughes. The character played by Leonardo Dicaprio, suffered from extreme OCD in the later years of his life and had a phobia of germs and dirt/dust. The real Howard Hughes had OCD which gradually worsened as he aged and many other mental issues. The film may not show the exact nature in which those with OCD may act, but it does offer a sensationalized view of Howard Hughes.

I tried quite hard to find accurate portrayals of mental illness or those with a positive light, yet I was not successful. Popular culture gets is wrong 90% of the time when the subject is mental illness, and I feel like it’s due to ignorance and lack of knowledge. The only way I feel ‘normal’ is to either hide my illness or surround myself with those like me. Being a Psychology major is a welcoming feeling, because it breaks down the stigmas that people have towards mental illnesses. It gives me knowledge and comfort to know that we are not ‘crazy’ and mental illnesses are still very misunderstood by our society.
I am no longer embarrassed to share with people that I have a mental illness, nor do I try to hide it. If it makes someone apparently uncomfortable I try to ease that with knowledge that I have on a certain subject. When reading the news or watching a movie, I no longer get defensive or hurt by the negativity and ignorance of those who created the false image of the suffering person(s). I simply hope that through my education and personal goals I can one day help to enlighten those that do not understand. The media can be very biased and full of stigmas on any subject, mental illness just happens to be one that is often blamed for violent and ‘crazy’ behavior. With the vast amounts of research and information coming out on mental illness, I would hope that creators, artists, and reporters take into consideration they are talking about an actual illness. It’s not just up to the makers of popular culture, but the consumers to understand that just because someone is depicted in a certain way does not mean it is an actual portrayal; or that it applies to all of those in the same category. With media literacy and the ability to analyze as you consume we all can become ‘immune’ to the negativity surrounding mental illness.


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Tartakovsky, M. (2011). The Media and Mental Illness: The Good, the Bad and the Ridiculous. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 1, 2014, from
Sanchez ,R.,Brumfield, B. (2014, April, 4). Fort Hood shooter was Iraq vet being treated for mental health issues. CNN. Retrieved on May 30, 2014 from

Shapiro, J. (2014, April, 3). Shooting Unfairly Links Violence With Mental Illness — Again. Shots: Health News from NPR. Retrieved May 29, 2014, from
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Scorsese, M. (Director). (2005). The aviator: Warner Bros. Pictures.
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Huss, M. T. (2009). Forensic psychology: research, practice, and applications. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.