Living in the United States as an American-Iranian

Featured

My mother is Iranian and my father is from the Midwest. I was born in Portland, Oregon and raised learning about my parent’s languages, cultural beliefs and customs. Additionally, because my grandfather, an immigrant who is largely monolingual in Farsi took care of me for years, my Iranian background feels very present for me though I have never been there. I am a bicultural American-Iranian, twenty-something who loves sports and played on team sports for years. My family and I have worked with community organizations to help those in need. I spend a lot of time taking care of my grandparents. We enjoy the outdoors and taking walks with my dog. In short, there is nothing unusual and extreme in my life. My parents and extended family are very clear that this country is our home and we belong here. However, when I turn to the news stories, movies or media, I cannot find me or people like me anywhere. To the extent that Iranian-Americans are presented at all in the media, they are the terrorists, the dark figures who are so against the western culture that they want to destroy it from within. The stereotypes of Iranian extremists saturating the media’s portrayal of Iranians drawn from political tensions over the past decades have created a negative image of Iranians and marginalized the significant contributions of Iranian-Americans in the United States.

More recently, The Shah’s of Sunset, a popular reality show on Bravo Cable, adds another unfavorable extreme theme to the image of young Iranian-Americans here, this time focusing on a group of young Iranian-Americans as crazed materialistic people with shallow values. In contrast to these two extremes, Iranian Americans overall are among some of the most educated groups in the US. They have had major accomplishments in the sciences, engineering, literature, entertainment and sports, but these achievements do not get nearly as much attention as they should. Instead we are still in an era where after any tragic bombing or attack on our cities or Europe, the first groups suspected are young Iranians. Popular media stubbornly continues to show Iranian-Americans in an unfavorable way. These negative images work to the disadvantage of young people like me searching for a positive place in our society here today. I find as I meet a new group of students or apply for a job, I am responding to questions such as do Iranians say they are Persians to hide they are Iranians? Did you watch the movie 300? Does your family feel awkward here during Christmas? Do you celebrate Thanksgiving like us?

In the US people often think that the tension between the US and Iran started around the hostage crisis of 1979. But actually the tensions started much earlier. Many historians look to the US overthrow of a democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 as the most important event causing the resentment of many generations of Iranians against the US. The CIA took part in a coup that imprisoned Mossadegh and brought back the Shah. Years later the return of Khomeini and student demonstrations in Iran resulted in the overthrow of the Shah’s regime and takeover of the US Embassy in 1979. What the media picked up immediately was the drama of the hostages on a daily basis, and the public demonstrations next to the Embassy in Tehran with burning US flags. Those images are the lasting images of those times. Little attention was paid to what were the reasons behind such apparent hatred. What the US media did not cover were the root causes of resentment toward the US among those students. In their mind, the US had by its meddling overthrew a popular democratically elected prime minster, who had successfully nationalized Iranian oil. This did not serve the West. Winning nationalization of the Iranian oil meant that the west could no longer export Iran’s natural resources with paltry sums in reimbursement to the Iranian government (Kinzer). For this success, the U.S. forced the only democratically elected prime minister in Iran out of power setting Iran back in its development of democracy at home.

Years later, as a result of the hostage crisis, the tension between Iran and US reached an all-time high and those of Iranian identity and non-immigrant visa could not renew their visas. Many Iranians had to present themselves at immigration offices. The discrimination that Iranians faced in the United States during this time made them want to blend into the US culture much more than they had before. (Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans: Iranian-Americans by Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, page 6). Years later with the events of 9/11, the tensions against Iran and Iranians grew again. “Even though Iranians did not have a part in the terrorist attacks on the United States, in his State of the Union address in January 2002, President George Bush labeled Iran, Iraq, and Korea as part of the “axis of evil” countries that were sponsoring terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction” (Id). Once again the borders were closed off to Iranians and the Iranians pulled together and shied away from attention to minimize problems. Iran to this day is blamed for the 9/11 – for example see the default judgment entered against Iran for billions of dollars in a case brought by the families of victims brought in a court in New York, though they dismissed the Saudi Arabian government (though most of the terrorists were Saudi nationals) (CBS NEWS 2011).

During the past three decades, there have been countless Iranian engineers, mathematicians (Maryam Mirzakhani won the Fields Medal in mathematics in 2014), reporter (Christin Amanpour), actors, sports figures (Agassi) who have had great achievements in their field in the U.S. There is little media coverage about their background as Iranians or Iranian-Americans. To the extent that they have an opportunity to talk about their background and heritage they seem to shy away from it themselves. As my first artifact, I watched an interview of Agassi with CNN Anderson Cooper in which he only very briefly mentions that his father was an immigrant from Iran though he speaks extensively about his father and how he raised him to be the number one tennis player in the world (CNN Interview 2010).

Agassi also wrote a book about his own life called OPEN. But even in the book, an autobiography, he refuses to talk much about half his heritage as an Iranian-American. He only mentions his dad’s birth place one time even though much of the way that he was raised may have had to do with his dad’s background and as an immigrant to this country (Agassi). As an athlete with an Iranian-American background I look with interest to any professional athlete of the same background and there are so few who talk about their background in the media. I am disappointed of the fact that the once a number one tennis player in the world would not acknowledge that he has a similar background to mine. The interview with Agassi was to sell his book and I assume that he did not think it was too good for selling his book if he emphasizes the fact that his dad was Iranian.
By contrast some actors and entertainers who are interested in showing their bicultural background are passed up and never given the opportunity for roles other than bad guys with bombs strapped around their body in movies or films. Precisely on this point, in a fairly recent presentation Maz Jobrani an Iranian-American comedian shared his story on TED TALK (a nonprofit dedicated to creating a global community). This TED TALK was my second artifact. Maz says that his hope is the standup comedy show he has created will break the stereotypes about Iranian-Americans and Muslims. He labeled his comedy show “Axis of Evil” a tongue-in-cheek reference to the phrase coined by President Bush in tying Iran with other countries that have been viewed as irresponsible and untrustworthy. Maz is trying to break that stereotype and explain that he and others like him have nothing  to do with what one or two people out of masses may do to leave a bad image. Maz, described the turmoil he feels every time there is a bombing and tragedy in the U.S.. He fears that each time the culprit may be Iranian or Middle Eastern and that the U.S will once again turn negatively towards Iranian or Middle Easterners and Muslims. Maz claims that he gets people’s attention by relating it straight to what they may have felt and create a place where they can laugh about it and reduce tensions (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmXiItk49Gw).

What I found most intriguing and surprising is how much I enjoyed listening to Maz talking about how he felt in this country as an Iranian-American. It seemed a big weight was lifted off my shoulder just to know other people struggle going through the airport or, are worried that any terrorist activity that happens is tied to Iranians. I know from my own experiences how much we worry about these issues and problems that he talked about in such a funny way. I hope that he continues this work. I do not look as the stereotypical Iranian, so some of the stereotypes do not directly affect me, but my name is part Middle Eastern and I want to keep it and so I have to explain who I am and my background all the time to people who seem surprised and a little taken back by it all. I like the positive spin he put on his talk. The audience seemed to enjoy and nodded their heads in understanding.

The third artifact that I found in how Iranians are portrayed in the media, if at all, was the reality show called Shahs of Sunset first shown in March 2012. It was released and the show received much criticism even before it release from many Iranians, and particularly those in the Los Angeles because of its characters replace one stereotype of Iranians as savage fundamentalist with another as shallow materialistic people. Despite the criticism the show is soon to enter its fourth season. The reality show follows the lives of Six Iranian American friends grown up in Beverly Hills covering their everyday life in luxury. They use lines such as “we do not work in the buildings, we own them!” The actors talk about the only pay check they get is the one from their parents though they are in their 30s. They are drinking constantly and it seems their focus is one party after another. They are surrounded by gold and red furniture with expensive watches and piles of large jewelry around their necks and fingers. They seem obsessed with their cars, furnishing and fashionable clothes and nothing else. They are not modest in the way they dress or behave unlike any Persian-Americans that I have seen here. The actor’s claim that they are doing a favor for the Persian-Americans here breaking stereotypes of all Persian-Americans as potential terrorists. The actors claim that they are showing daily life and humanizing the Iranians.

The Critics of Shah’s of Sunset are worried that the show is more stereotypes and commercialism just like other trash reality shows, but this one is also bent to make it more exotic, more oriental in the same formula as early years of Hollywood’s infatuation with stereotypes of Arabs, here Iranians and the Middle East to sell its films to intrigue the audience (Prodanovic). On the other hand there are those who think there are some useful aspects to this reality show. An Iranian-American sociology professor, Neda Maghbouleh originally of Portland, Oregon now teaching in Canada wrote an article in Salon in which she took the position that even though the Shah’s of Sunset has many faults including its focus on material goods and shallowness of its six Iranian-American characters living in Los Angles, the show nonetheless has some merit in creating a better understanding of Iranian culture among American audience. She writes that she knows defending this show among Iranian intellectuals is a minority position, but what she thought was important were two points. The first is that show demonstrates the close fabric of Iranian family between generations as the elders regularly appear in the show and are included in events with the younger generation. The Iranians view their families’ connection and closeness as among the most important factors in their lives and this runs against stereotypes of Iranians in such films as Not without My Daughter. Second, the show presents interaction between both Muslim and Jewish Iranians and to many Americans the fact that there are other religions in Iran is surprising. But Iran has had a history of tolerance of other religions and particularly the Jewish faith (Maghbouleh).

In Shah’s of Sunset the participants believe that by showing the luxury life that they lead in Beverly Hills the mainstream America will be so impressed by their success that falsified negative images of Iranian as ”terrorists or hostage takers” will suddenly disappear. They seem to think that presenting themselves in tight glittery clothes is somehow classy and in stark contrast to fanatical religious conservatives. Many Iranians-Americans, including the Iranian mayor of Beverly Hills absolutely hated the show because they believe it is disgraceful, and another misrepresentation of Iranians. However, the participants in the show defend their action because they claim they are humanizing Iranian-Americans. The audience claims that the show is wrong in emphasizing luxury and material riches as what is Persian identity. In looking at this show and the interviews, I felt that they had actually robbed the Persian history and culture and gave Iranian-Americans little reality of the truth.

It appears though there are a significant number of Iranian-Americans living in the U.S. they or their children are shown more as merely stereotypical cartoon-like characters of what the average American may view as Middle Eastern. There have been years of tension between the two countries and both sides mistrust each others’ government. I am uncertain whether either extremes, Iranian-Americans as conservative religious fanatics or, shallow materialistic spoiled adults help erase negative stereotypes about the Iranian-Americans. My hope is that Iranian-Americans in the U.S. who are people like everyone else trying to help their families and communities will eventually be presented more accurately in the media. I do not see myself or people like me in the media. Until there is a more fair representation I think the media is hurting our connections instead of bringing us together.

Works Cited
Agassi, Andre. Open: An Autobiography. New York: A. Knopf, 2009. Print.
AP. “Judge: Iran, Taliban, Al Qaeda Liable for 9/11.” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 23 Dec. 2011. Web. 08 Feb. 2015.
Did You Hear the One about the Iranian-American? Perf. Maz Jobrani. Ted Talks. YouTube, 19 Aug. 2010. Web. 08 Feb. 2015.
Kavanagh, Jim. “Andre Agassi’s Life Is an ‘Open’ Book.” Anderson Cooper 360 RSS. CNN, 4 Sept. 2010. Web. 2 Feb. 2015.
Kinzer, Stephen. All the Shah’s Men: The Hidden Story of the CIA’s Coup in Iran. New York: Wiley, 2003. Print.
Maghbouleh, Neda. ““Shahs of Sunset”: The Real Iranians of Los Angeles?” Saloncom RSS. Salon, 30 Nov. 2012. Web. 1 Feb. 2015.
“PAAIA Releases Report on Iranian American Immigration and Assimilation – PAAIA.” PAAIA Releases Report on Iranian American Immigration and Assimilation – PAAIA. PAAIA, 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.
Prodanovic, Branka. Creating Exotic Beings: An Analysis of Shah’s of Sunset and (n.d.): n. pag. Trashculturejournal. WordPress, 2013. Web.

Advertisements

Asian-American stereotypes in popular culture.

I have been in America for a few years. Before I came to the country, I was aware of some Asian American stereotypes, which had been portrayed in American shows and movies in the same manners over and over again. As an Asian guy who did not grow up in America, I always wondered if Asian Americans are just like how they are portrayed in media, whether or not they are different from me. But that was not all, I had never known until I moved to this country. There are more stereotypes of Asian Americans that I did not know about. More and more people from Asia are coming to the US in recent years, either study aboard students or immigrants. I have noticed and feel like most of those stereotypes are about newcomers like me, and only a few of those stereotypes are about Asian Americans who were born in the US. In other words, the media are still portraying Asians as foreigners more often than portraying them as Asian Americans, although America has been home of many young generations of Asians.

A very popular Asian stereotype is “Asians are nerdy, smart, and good in school”. When I first came to this country and started high school, my classmates in Algebra class just assumed that I am good at math because I am Asian. I had seen that happened in some movies long time ago, Asian characters are nerdy and “have a boring life”, but that is nothing like me. An examples of this stereotype in media, Rajesh from The Big Bang Theory show. He is a nerdy guy who is good at science, and is lame when talking to people, especially women.  He is smart, but his disadvantages are lack of communication skills. This is also an example of another Asian stereotype, “Asians are shy and bad at communicating”. These two stereotypes may actually have a link, smart Asians are bad at communicating because they are more into study and do not have time for social relationships. I am also an example of a shy Asian guy. Since I have limited English speaking ability, I only talk when necessary, and I feel awkward when people ask me to repeat what I said because I do not have American accent. However, the Asian Americans are very different. Most of my Asian American friends are open-minded, friendly, and confident when communicating. The root of this difference, I believe, is the adaption in different environments. In America, students have more freedom to speak up, to make their voices heard. That is why they are confident when talking to people. The “shy” stereotype is true for many newcomers like me, but is not true for Asian Americans. And what about the “smart” stereotype? Some Asian students are good in school, but not all of us. Our parents told us that studying is the only thing we need to focus on, that is kind of a traditional way of thinking in Asia. But that does not mean we are smarter than other people. If a non-Asian person studies hard, he can do well in school. There are smart people and average people, the same for any race, not just Asian.

I played soccer and badminton in my middle school and high school years. I consider myself a fairly good player, although not excellent. “Asians are not good at sports, but good at martial art”, that is a new stereotype I had never heard about before I started doing this mirror essay assignment. From an article named “The 7 worst Asian-Americans stereotypes” of an Indian writer, I found this stereotype about Asians and sports interesting because I do not know why people think Asians are not good at sports. However, I knew Asians are portrayed as good at martial art. What is the root of the “not good at sport” stereotype? From my reasoning, Asians are usually portrayed as nerds; nerds are usually physically weak and know nothing else but study, and so Asians are weak and cannot compete in sports. In reality, people are different from how they are portrayed in media. When I was in high school, there were a lot of Asian players in our school’s sport teams. Basketball, soccer, tennis, volleyball, football, every team had Asian players, and they did not play badly at all; some of them were chosen to be captain of the team. Speaking of martial art, Asians are portrayed as very good fighters in many movies. When Bruce Lee’s Hollywood movies first came to American audience, he gave people a deep impression of an Asian street fighter, a proud beast. Bruce made Asian American kids proud to be Asian; he also inspired more people to practice martial art more than anyone else in history. No matter what race you are, he used martial art as a way to break the racial barrier and create brotherhood, people of any race can learn martial art. Bruce Lee became a symbol of martial art, and because the martial art’s symbol is Asian, today movies usually portray Asian characters as extremely good martial artists. In a lot of movies about martial art, the main characters can be white, black, or any race, but their mentor, helper, or teacher, is usually an Asian master. The movie “The Karate kid” is a perfect example. There are different versions of this movie. In the 1989 version, the main kid is white; and in the 2010 version, the main kid is black. In both versions, the Karate teacher of the main kid is an Asian guy. American movies usually have Asian characters as minor roles, unless it is a movie about fighting, Asians may have a chance to play one of the main roles. In the “Rush Hour” series, the Asian actor Jackie Chan played a main cop role. He deals with the criminals mostly by martial art instead of gun, although he is a cop. If that was about an American cop, there would likely be an intense, thrilling gun fight instead of a martial art fight. This stereotype, however, is created by the impression of famous Hollywood stars like Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan, and the fact that most of the world’s martial arts have origin in Asia. There are Western martial arts, but there are many more martial arts invented by Asian people. Despite that, not all Asians know martial art or good at martial art. Anyone who is interested and has patience to practice can be a great martial artist.

Sometime stereotype concerns racism. As I mentioned, media are still portraying Asians as foreigners more often than portraying them as Asian Americans, although many young generations of Asians were born and grew up in the US. Many people in the US still do not see Asians as one of them, and some people even see Asians as a threat to the rest of the world. “Yellow peril”, a color metaphor word phrase that is about the expansion and invasion of East Asians over the West. I heard about this theory before, but I did not know where it came from, because I do not believe that Asian invasion would happen and never paid attention to it. After doing my research for this mirror essay, I found the root of this word phrase is mythic but interesting. Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany dreamed and saw Buddha, riding a dragon, invades Europe. This is funny to me, because he had that dream in the 1890s. In the late 19th century, the Europeans were the ones invading Asia and other continents. However, it is not strange if people worry about being overpowered by Asians. In the recent years, Asian countries like Japan and China had surpassed European countries in economic development. The fast rate of development in Asia, especially East Asian countries, makes the Western people worry. My dad was born in South Vietnam in the time of the Vietnam War. He lived in the barrack when he was a teenager and watched American TV. When I ask him about the “Yellow Peril”, he said he remembered what an American scientist said on a science show. The scientist said that every morning the Americans woke up and looked over to the other side of Pacific, they saw the Japanese have a new invention. With that rate of development, each day a new invention, Japan would surpass the US soon. This “Asians are a danger” stereotype is not often portrayed in media, but it does exist. Some people in the US today blame on Asian immigrants for stealing their jobs. An example for this blaming is the South Vietnamese immigrants. My grandparents, like millions of South Vietnamese people, had to leave our homeland after the Vietnam War because the country had fallen to communism. They came here with no English, no money, nothing; they had to work in the worst places, losing their jobs very often. They had to work very hard to make a living. Some people in the US blame these immigrants for stealing their jobs, but I do not think it is reasonable. America is a promise land, who work hard will harvest the good result, there are equal chances for everyone. Besides, those poor immigrants got the worst jobs because they were almost the lowest class in society. Why would some people blame on them for stealing jobs? There are plenty of better jobs for people who are native or have been living in the US most of their life.

The young Asian Americans are changing people’s perspective on Asians. They were born here, they grow together with kids of other races, or immigrants like me who came to the US at young age. We are not the first generation, we do not have to deal with the hardships our parents had, and we can become part of America more easily. Some stereotypes of Asian Americans are changing because the new generation is different from the old, based on people’s social interactions with the young Asian Americans. Those stereotypes like “Asians cannot speak English in true accent” or “Asians can become nothing but doctor and engineer” are not true anymore. Stereotypes reflect image or idea of an ethnic group; they are not wrong, but they are not totally true. We cannot just believe the stereotypes showed in media and assume that all people of an ethnic group are the same. To know someone, we need to look at how they talk and act, see what they like to do or what they can do, and do not assume anything based on their skin color or origin.

Sources citation:

Phan, D. (n.d.). Asian and Nerdy – TV Tropes. Retrieved March 9, 2015, from http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AsianAndNerdy

Noronha, M. (2012, November 24). The 7 Worst Asian-American Stereotypes. Retrieved March 9, 2015, from http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2012/11/24/the-7-worst-asian-american-stereotypes/

Top Martial Arts Action Stars of the Century. (2011, March 2). Retrieved March 9, 2015, from http://www.imdb.com/list/ls000048950/

Yellow Peril. (n.d.). Retrieved March 9, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_Peril

Nittle, N. (n.d.). Asian-American Stereotypes in TV and Film. Retrieved March 9, 2015, from http://racerelations.about.com/od/hollywood/a/Five-Common-Asian-american-Stereotypes-In-Tv-And-Film.htm

The Perception of African American Athletes

As a child I was excited by guns, gangs, and basketball to be completely honest. I loved seeing various movies that dealt with gangs I felt a thrill watching them illegally carry guns and be subject to illegal activities because of their upbringing. I guess you can say I could somewhat relate due to the neighborhood I grew up in. I never truly got in deep with the gangs or drug dealing but I did associate with them, but I had a different out let then most of my friends that are currently incarcerated to this date. Athletes and gangs seem to have somewhat of a correlation, but not all African American Athletes are subject to things I grew up around and the stereotypical image that pop culture displays them as in various movies.         Growing up I loved the basketball movies that had and African American athlete in it, because I felt that I could relate, but I was unaware of the microscopic messages it sent. When it comes to African American Athletes in the media, you can say that we are shined in a negative light. Multiple movies, sports ads, and television shows highlight serotypes and influence the audience to perceive the group in a negative manor. African American Athletes are seen as lazy, crime ridden, uneducated, and sexual deviants through various movies, sports commentating, sports advertisements, and a communication study dealing with the way they are perceived.

On September 6, 2013 Netflix released a low budget movie called American Milkshake by David Andalman and Mariko Munro. A regular audience would have perceived this movie as funny while having a comedic theme. This movie is about a Caucasian kid who wants to make the basketball team so he can be considered cool in the eyes of his peers. However, I watched this movie and analyzed the way athletes were perceived, so I discovered various perception of how this group is seen. Furthermore, in the first couple of minutes of the story the main character, Tyler Ross, referred to the basketball team (all African American) as “Thugged out.” Many people seem to associate this group with thugs and criminals even though it is an incorrect stereotype. Throughout the movie they showed the African American athletes being subject to crime, alcohol, marijuana, sex, and pregnancy. After the main Tyler was accepted on the team he would part take in stereotypical actions that the Maple Ave kids were subject to. For example, he got one of his girlfriend’s pregnant, started smoking weed, drinking alcohol (stereotypical 40oz of Malt liquor), and dressing the same as his teammates. He even started sagging his pants. This showed his acceptance to the group. Furthermore, this movie shows how a typical Caucasian perceives the group. This group of athletes is subject to various illegal activities and stereotypical actions that influence anyone who takes part in watching his movie. These stereotypes do not exist in every African American athlete, yet the media seems to display us as such.

download         One of my favorite movies growing up showed how African American Athletes were portrayed. The movie Above the Rim, which was directed and created by Jeff Pollack, Benny Medina showed a large amount of negative connections. As a kid I loved his movie because its main focus was basketball and Tupac Shakur (famous Artist) starred in the movie. Tupac played a character that was a drug lord and showed how he tried to get a high school basketball to join him affecting his journey to play college basketball at Georgetown University. This movie shows close ties to basketball, drug dealing, and gangs. The story explains how a high school basketball player diches the street life for basketball. This seems to be an uplifting story about an African American athlete making it out of the hood but there are more sides to this story. Furthermore, a common theme in all of these movies discussed a lack of education. For example, Duane Martin was not shown in the classroom one time which suggest that he doesn’t attend class on regular bases. I found this interesting that they did not display him in a classroom one time in the movie. It is interesting because education is very important in an athlete’s life, because if you don’t go to class you will not play basketball, simple as that. Furthermore, they focused on showing the negative parts of his life which was his close ties to gangs, drugs, and lack of education which makes for a better movie, but influences the audience to stereotype this group in a negative manor. Furthermore, they never showed his father, or even suggested that his father was in his life which goes along with the stereotype that African Americans live under a single parent household. I grew up with both my parents in my life the whole way, so I hate when individuals associate single parents with this group.

While research I found a study that explains how different races are talked about and perceived during sport events. This study explains that African Americans are not portrayed in a negative manor in sports commentating; in fact they are subject to the most positivity opposed to any of the race. Don Sabo, Sue Curry Jansen, Danny Tate, Margaret Carlisle Duncan, Susan Leggett published the study “The Portrayal of  Race , Ethnicity , and Nationally Televised International Athletic Events“ in order to find out how races were perceived in sports commentating. This study described African American athletes as “so strong,” “athletic skater,” “great jumping ability,” “not an imposing physical figure,” “very great leaping ability,” “tremendous amount of physical talent.” This study found that Black athletes were least likely to receive negative comments opposed to the other races. Furthermore, this contrasts the negative perceptions that African American Athletes are portrayed in a negative light to a certain extent. These positive comments can also influence these athletes in a negative way.

Huma Munir, a professor at the University of Texas explains how the media portrays African American Athletes as sub human is affecting their life. He explains how media is stereotyping these athletes creates higher standards than others. The media shows this group of athletes as sub human by comparing how high the jump, how long they stay in the air, and overall athleticism in comparison to others. Being singled out for athleticism is being carried over to the classroom where that are expected to show the same sub human actions but transferred to knowledge. Which creates problems, for example and average student has more time to study opposed to an athlete because athletes have various activities that they have to do along with their academic responsibilities. These responsibilities are practice, travelling, games, etc. These things affect their social life and how much time they are able to input for education. I have a hard time having a social life while putting so much time into basketball and my education. I am able to manage my time when I can get my homework done, excel in the classroom, and excel on the court, but my social life lacks. Athletes tend to have a hard time managing time and the expectations that are held over their heads affect them greatly.  Furthermore, this group is not always perceived as negative in the media, but the positive perceptions can translate into a problem for this group.                                                                                                                                                                                          50 Cent stared in an uplifting movie that implemented various stereotypical actions of a typical African American athlete. This movie explained how a college athlete took a bad turn due to a disease obtained out of nowhere. This story was based on a true story and had a great ending. On the other hand, it showed how much partying, illegal activity, lack of classroom motivation, and various sexual partners throughout the film. Something that stuck out to me was how many different sex partners he had. Sex seems to be a common theme in movies that deal with this group. Furthermore, this film is another example of how these stereotypes influence how people perceive African American Athletes. As a teenager a lot of my peers and family members often ask me about the number of sexual partners I’ve had and when I respond they don’t believe me. From personal experience, individual believe that this group is sex crazed. Moreover, it is thought to be common for a member of this group to have numerous sexual partners and have baby mothers instead of wives. This seems to be a line which ends with single parent homes. Some may think that it’s just TV, or a movie, but it’s more than that. Individuals are being influenced by these movies that portray them in a negative fashion.

Media has a great effect on majority of the world. In today’s society, individuals rely on media for just about everything and it consumes a great amount of time of the average individual. In my opinion, individuals who watch shows and movies are influence by subliminal messages and stereotypes. Furthermore, the way pop culture is portraying African American Athletes are affecting this group’s growth. People think that this group is lazy, crime ridden, sexual fiends, gang bangers, un-educated, and other various negative associations. I also question why they make such a difference between African American Athletes and White athletes. Most movies that have white athletes make them seem superior. They show them in class, and using an educated vocabulary. They are both athletes and are required to do the same amount of studying in order to play the sport but why does one group lack educational scenes in movies? Moreover, these media based stereotypes carry over into the real world. Individuals perceive us the same way we are perceived in these movies, TV shows, sports ads, and sports commentating. This has a larger role then what they think of us, they also change the way we are treated in the class room, public, and in the gym.

Latina Stereotypes In Pop Culture

Alejandra Trujillo

February 20, 2015

Mirror Essay

 

Latina Stereotypes In Pop Culture

 

 

Latina adolescent had been shamed with all sorts’ stigmas in pop culture, although some of these stigmas may have been around for years they still affect the Latino population today. With the Latino population being the highest increase over the years, according to the United States census bureau as of July 1st, 2013 the Latino population had reached 54 million. Latinas have become objectified and categorized to teen pregnancy and lack of education, which brings on a bigger issue misrepresntations assumption. So why are Latina women categorized into theses stigmas, and stereotypes?

My whole life I’ve lived in the small town of Oregon City with the Latino population being below 10% 7.3% to be exact according to the United States Census Bureau. Growing up in a community that was and still is very undiverse resulted in me losing a lot of my cultural values and in many ways it made me see the Latino/Hispanic population very differently. I slowly began to struggle to talk in Spanish fluently it then turned into “Spanglish.” I was not only losing ability to speak the language properly, but I was losing the connection with my parents who could barley speaks or understand English. I began to see how different I was to the other Latina girls at my high school, and realized that I was not one of them. I had gone from attending church in Spanish to English, and not to mention people telling me I was “white washed.” Until college I began to gain my cultural values and morals back with the small diversity at Portland State that seemed very diverse to me. Last year in my Portland Freshman Inquiry I remember my professor tell us that Portland itself was not diverse, and to me this seemed wrong. This was very shocking to me because I had previously done an assignment for this class about the diversity in Portland. I then realized that the lack of diversity in Portland was greater then what I saw before. Coming from a small town were the Latino population was below 10% Portland seemed overly more diverse to me, but it actually was not like that at all.

Latina adolescence have gained a stigma that has portrayed them in negative ways some what may be true others that may not be so true. One of the main things that is seen mostly in the media Latina women being objectified to be “sexy” more so in news channels, soap operas, music video’s, or movies. Instead of being pessimistic and thinking that most Latina adolescence will becoming pregnant throughout high school, we need to be optimistic and talk about higher education and safe sex. Latina adolescences face many obstacles with the lack of resources in the underrepresented communities to language barriers. One of the main struggles for Latino/a adolescence comes with being the first generation in their family to attend college, with the possibility of becoming pregnant more common in the Latino community it has become difficult to reach out to receive the right resources, and help. While pregnancy may be an issue another issue would be the relationship needed from parents or guardians to pursue higher educations. From my personal experience I know how difficult it can be to find the right resources, and motivation to find a better future. Although my parents were very supportive the support was very limited. It became hard to seek their help when they had never done a college application because they had never got the opportunity to even consider attended college. Its important to become aware of the issue that occur and barriers that are faced that may lead to young Latino women becoming a statistic.

Back in 2012 a Latina student made headlines by composing “The Pregnancy Project” for her senior project, what was then made into a film. The project consisted of making everyone in her community believe she was pregnant. The reason to this was to see how differently she would be treat not by her not just by her peers, but family, teachers, and community. We have stereotyped the success that can be reached if an adolescent becomes pregnant, and it is very similar for every race. Throughout this film it shows how one can go from being treated in a favorable way to a non-existing person. Gaby being a student who is looked up to be her peers, and greatly appreciated by her teachers sees the transition of her now being considered a statistic, and how differently one is treated when they become part of a group. In this case it was that she was a Latina teen whose mother had her at a young age followed by her sister and brother becoming teen parents.

Freedom Writers was released in 2007 it tells the real life story of teacher who helped students who were struggling academically at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach become successful involved in their education. The lack of striving for a higher education for underrepresented communities and the difficulties those are associated with being in a low-income. The different struggles vary from gang associate, abuse, and violence and I think a lot of the time we forget that this issue occur on a daily biases. Many times with underrepresented communities more so with Latino/Hispanic and African American populations the issue of higher education is grater and I think it is well represented in this film. For some it may be difficult to open up about issue that occur outside the school setting, and it becomes difficult to talk about the issues because a lot of the time these underrepresented populations think that no one cares. The idea of mentor and supportive academic advisor who shows care into helping these type of issue that occur outside of the school setting can simply change the life of not one but multiple students.

Orange Is the New Black is a series on Netflix that tells the real life story of Piper Kerman who was busted in an drug that has happened 10 years ago. In this series the prisoners have segregated themselves into racial groups. An interview done by Gabillet on PopSugar, Kerman stated, “While initially people might sort of gravitate toward the people who are the same color of them.” While reflecting on the stereotypes that Latina women face I noticed many of them being applied in this series. Daya Diaz being pregnant by an officer seems something scandalous especially in prisons. Latina women are known to be loud, intimidating and scandalous. Later in season two you see the group of Latina women take over Red’s job in the kitchen, and they use that to their advantages because Latina women are known to be good in the kitchen. The emphasis that is shown thought this series is a lot of what you may imagine Latina women to be in areas where the Latino population in greater and the gang violence may be more present.

In conclusion I believe its important to understand and read about these on going issues that do not just affect the Latino population, but the underrepresented communities in United States. We need to seem beyond that fact that not everyone is a statistic. Learning to see things from a different perspective to understand pop culture and change how Latina and other communities are portrayed. Beginning with having more access to resources and programs that help pursue higher education, and opportunities for Latino women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Citied

 

Brown, Anna. “U.S. Hispanic and Asian population growing, but for different reasons.” Pew Research Center. (2015) Web. 26 June 2014.

 

Freedom Writers. Dir. Richard LaGravenese. 5 January 2007. Perf. Hilary Swank. Imelda Staunton, Patrick Dempsey. Biography. Film.

 

Gabillet, Annie. The True Story Behind Orange Is the New Black. PopSugar. Web. 16 July. 2014.

 

The Pregnancy Project. Dir. Teena Booth. 28 January 2012. Perf. Alexa PenaVega, Walker Perez, Sarah Smyth. Film.

 

United States. Census Bureau. “State and County Quickfacts.” Oregon. (2015). Web. 05 February 2015.

Female College Students in Media

College is an institution all parents want their children to go to. They drill it into their children’s minds that college is everything you need. That without college you can’t go farther in life. Children then watch movies about colleges and decide that they must be this way to get into college and be popular. That if they aren’t a certain stereotype they won’t be able to do anything with their life. One article titled Mean Girls? The Influence of Geneder Portrayals in Teen Movies on Emerging Adult’s Gender-based Attitueds and Beliefs states:

“It is argued that individuals adopt gender characteristics in part by monitoring the rewards and consequences associated with others’ behavior. Thus, representation of female characters in the media would be expected to play a role in viewers’ perceptions regarding gender identity, which may ultimately influence attitudes and beliefs about appropriate gender roles” (132).

I agree with this article’s idea that the media can influence how children grow. Children take certain attitudes about gender roles, from the world around them, and how they, as a female, should act. Media heavily focuses on the idea of females in college. The two main stereotypes about females focuses on their hair color, the blondes and the brunettes. Blondes are portrayed in two different ways: either they are dumb blonde or the mean blonde. Brunettes are often cast as the kind but shy character. These two stereotypes are often found battling each other because of what these girls grew up believing.

If you look at my roots you can tell what my true colors are: brown. I see myself in media as the shy but smart type. They type that doesn’t know how to act around others, but does well in school. One movie that shows this stereotype is Sydney White starring Amanda Bynes. Amanda’s character, named Sydney White, is first seen at a construction site. It is also made known that she got a scholarship to college because her father is just a plumber. When she gets to the college campus, Sydney tries to get into her mother’s sorority.  A sorority full of blondes with a blonde, named Rachel,  as their president. It is immediately shown that the blonde president doesn’t like Sydney. Not because of her hair color, but because Rachel’s ex-boyfriend is flirting with Sydney. From then on Rachel sees Sydney as a rival for her ex’s love and for the friendship from the sorority girls. After the hazing ritual the freshman are inititated into the sorority. During the banquet everyone is given a pin by Rachel, everyone except for Sydney. After this Sydney realizes just how mean and vindictive blondes can be. Because of this she goes to live with the misfits. Outcasts like her that have been shunned by the rest of the world.

Later, in the movie, both Rachel and Sydney duke it out to be president of the campus. It is no surprise that all the “outsiders” side with Sydney. For she is the kind brunette unlike her vindictive counterpart. The blonde has even pushed her sorority sisters so badly that one from her own house goes to help Sydney. Sydney White is a movie that shows the battle between the typical idea of blondes and brunettes. This movie shows just two ways girls can be: either nice or mean. While I love Sydney White it is a movie that most children should probably not watch. It is a movie that doesn’t show good role models for young girls. There is only one blonde that is nice, but other then her the movie shows all the stereotypical ideas of blondes and brunettes.

Another movie that shows the stereotypical idea of a blonde is Legally Blonde, in this movie Elle Woods is the star. She starts out as the blonde head of her sorority house.  When her boyfriend breaks up with her Elle decides to follow her ex to Harvard Law school. Working hard she gets a 179 on her LSATS a feat which is very incredible. The people who look over her application are all males, males that see the dumb blonde and are, at first, skeptical of why she wanted to get into their prestigious school. Elle makes a movie to sell herself to the acceptance committee and in the movie she is often seen either in a bikini or in a small, tight outfit. With her charm, and her hidden brain, Elle is able to get into the law school.

Twice, during the movie, Elle brings up how she is viewed by her peers. The first is when her boyfriend breaks up with her. She asks him if he breaks up with her because she is “too blonde”. The second time, Elle shows prejudice against a brunette, when asked why she replies that because she acts that way because people, also, discriminate against her because of her hair color. Why can’t she discriminate against them? With this statement Elle shows that she knows what people think about her: that because of her hair color she must be dumb. When in all reality she is quite smart. Once she decides to be openly smart Elle is able to not only graduate from Harvard Law, but graduate at the top of her class. A feat that even her smart, white ex-boyfriend couldn’t achieve.

Elle starts out as a dumb blonde. A blonde who had no idea she could possibly be able to get into a school like Harvard Law. With hard work Elle is able to show that she does have a brain. That she can be smart enough to do so well on her LSATS. Having such a strong, blonde protagonist shows young blondes that they can be something. These children can grow up and not have to be mean or dumb. Instead, following Elle’s example, they can become a lawyer or a doctor. Elle is an excellent role model for girls showing them that they can be anything that they want to be.

A different character that also knows she that the world thinks her to be a dumb blonde is Shelley from The House Bunny. While she isn’t a college student, she, like Elle, goes to school because a guy. Shelley tries to make herself smarter because she wants to be good enough for him. She believes that he won’t like her because she is “dumb” and thus goes to college classes to learn more about the world and gets tutoring from the girls she takes care of. Before her lessons Shelley shows how ignorant she is of the world. She doesn’t know what the policeman wants when he asks her to blow for an alcohol test. Instead, she believes that he is asking for a blow job and gets herself a night in jail for her confusion.

Before her fiasco with the police officer Shelley was working as a bunny for Hugh Hefner. Thinking that Hugh didn’t want her anymore Shelley leaves the house with no idea of what she is going to do. Her first stop, after spending a night in jail, is a college. There she stumbles upon a sorority house. After meeting the girls she decides to become a house mother. The mother of the house, that Shelley finds, is also a blonde. Unlike Shelley, she is a very mean woman. She sees how strange Shelley is and says that Shelley can never be a house mother. Shelley proves her wrong and becomes the house mother of the outcasts. This house is full of girls who couldn’t find a place in any other sorority so they banded together. While Shelley says strange sentences, like “eyes are the nipples of the face”, the girls soon come to love her and Shelley grows to love them.

What Shelley does not know about the world she makes up for knowing about how to get people to pay attention to her. She teaches the girls how to be more outgoing and how to charm others. One of the girls, named Natalie, is a typical shy but smart brunette. At first, she doesn’t know how to talk to her crush, but because of Shelley she learns how to. Natalie learns how to be an outgoing girl, but in the process loses part of herself: compassion.

Why Shelley is kicked out of the Playboy Mansion is because of another blonde. One of her fellow bunnies gets jealous of Shelley and works up a scheme to trick Shelley. She writes a letter, pretending to be Hugh, saying that Shelley was being kicked out. When Hugh returns there is another fake letter saying that Shelley had decided to leave of her own free will. Eventually, the woman gets caught and then thrown out of the house. After Shelley moves back to the mansion the girls realize their mistake; that they have become like the mean blondes they hated so much. Natalie states that they must become a combination of their old and new selves. A combination of the outgoing blonde and the kind brunette.

Shelley soon returns to the college and her girls. She has realized that she doesn’t love modeling anymore, but, instead, has fallen in love with these girls. She has become smarter and more worldly because of their teachings and they have become smarter because of her. She is no longer just the dumb blonde that people called her. Now, she is truly herself. A person who has shown her true colors because of the people she loves and those that love her.

Young girls are watching these movies and learning what the world wants them to become. That they can be smart, but must not be outgoing. Or that they can be outgoing, but in the process must be dumb. Everything boils down to them either being kind or mean to other girls their age. It all depends on their hair color and that is how the world will view them. This thought process can be toxic for young children and teenagers. For like Sydney White you must be either kind or mean. There should be more movies like The House Bunny or Legally Blonde that teaches that one can be both outgoing and kind at the same time. These are the ideas we should be teaching our children. So, that when they go to college, they have a good view of the world and how to behave in it.

Works Cited

Behm-Morawitz, Elizabeth, and Dana E. Mastro. “MEAN GIRLS? THE INFLUENCE OF GENDER PORTRAYALS IN TEEN MOVIES ON EMERGING ADULTS’ GENDER-BASED ATTITUDES AND BELIEFS.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly Spring 2008: 131-46. Web.

The House Bunny. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2008. DVD.

Legally Blonde. MGM Home Entertainment, 2001. DVD.

Sydney White. Universal Studios Home Entertainment, 2008. DVD.

 

 

Professional Ballerinas and the Media

Shannon Dunlop
Feb. 19, 2015
Popular Culture SINQ
Daneen Bergland

Professional Ballerinas and the Media

      In the past decade, there has been a very large spike of fascination of the female baller dancer in popular culture media. We are starting to see a lot of ballet influences on the fashion runway, music videos, and in everyday television and movies. By looking at some of these examples in popular culture media, you start to see a lot of common traits on how we portray professional female ballerinas. If you asked one person to describe what a ballerina looks like to them they would probably use a description using entities of some of these words: elegant, thin, tall, pale, woman. I believe that in popular culture media we are making a very narrow stereotype about female professional ballerinas. Through looking at three different pieces in popular media such as the film “Black Swan”, the reality television series “Breaking Pointe”, and the film “Step Up” we will further see how we create an image around ballerina’s that is about drama and poor healthy among many other things.
One of the most popular pieces of media that has been released in the past ten years with female ballerinas as the spotlight is, “Black Swan” (2010) directed by Darren Aronofsky, starring Natalie Portman. The film is a psychological thriller about a professional ballet dancer who wins the lead in “Swan Lake” and starts to mirror the Black Swan role of “Swan Lake” and loses her mind because of multiple pressures from the ballet world.
In the film, Natalie Portman’s character, among others such as Mila Kunis’ character are portrayed as very thin. In reading about the production of the film, Kunis said that she dropped 20 pounds (from her already extremely slender frame) to 95 pounds. Kunis said, “I was muscle, like a little brick house, but skin and bones” (Mapes) in an article about how extreme weight diets warp your body. Kunis came out and spoke about all the negative side effects that she went through when gaining the weight back after finishing the film. As a dancer, what I can appreciate from this is the fact that they really wanted to be authentic when trying to portray the role of ballet dancer. Ballet dancers put their body through a lot of work and pain to get into the form they need to. What I can’t appreciate is how they forced a very scary diet and body weight on Kunis who is not actually a professional ballet dancer. Not even a professional ballet dancer should weight 95 at 5’4”. Coming from a medical standpoint, that’s extremely unhealthy. In a research study done by a group of educators in Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California they studied body imagery of dancers in Los Angeles and what they call “the cult of slenderness”. In there they state that “for a dancer, thin is ‘15% below your ideal weight for height, which is basically anorexic weight” (Loyola Marymount University, 257).

This film adds substance to the argument that all female professional dancers have eating disorders or strive to push their body past healthy limits. I know for a fact, that there are professional dancers that practice healthy and clean eating. Although, I haven’t met a dancer that won’t admit to have not having body image issues. “Dancers’ identities are not constructed as a whole person, but as a physical body” (Loyola Marymount University, 259). Having said this and this being true, Black Swan really pushed this belief. A lot of the film became about how Natalie Portman’s character went crazy (among other reasons) over controlling her weight. What’s upsetting is that although this is a very strong concern of the ballet world, they felt the need to include multiple scenes referring to her eating disorder. While there are multiple things that drive her to go insane, I felt that they way over shot scenes with examples of her eating disorder.
In 2012, the network CW premiered a reality television series called Breaking Pointe that goes behind the stage curtain for an extremely competitive Ballet Company called Ballet West located in Salt Lake City, Utah. The television series focuses a lot on the athleticism, dedication, hard work, and pressures of the ballet world. The series has been well received as it’s gone through two seasons and is scheduled for a third.
The level of talent that comes from these dancers is ¬immense; it really takes your breath away. You get to see the true dedication that it takes to be a dancer of that caliber. All of the dancers give almost 110% to their art. The series focuses a lot of the individuals and the relationships of the people in the through all their hard work. In the first season one of the woman was broken up with and her ex-partner’s reasoning was that he believed that “she loved dance more than him”. Those examples right their shows you how much these people are willing to give everything they have to their company. The negative that comes from this is that in the series, you feel the pressure that the show puts to create the drama between all these relationships. They hone in too much on the relationships and not on the dancing and this really hassles me. The show isn’t about showcasing the dancing as much as it’s about the relationships. You can feel the pressure that the producers are putting on the show to create these rivalries and love stories between dancers rather than focusing on their amazing talents. Much like the director’s decisions in Black Swan. In Black Swan, there is a scary rivalry between Mila Kunis’ character and Natalie Portman’s to be the lead in the “Swan Lake” performance. Whenever ballet is put in the spotlight, it’s either about eating disorders or this frightening thought that all dancers hate each other when really a healthy dancing community can be the best support system you could ask for. As a dancer myself, I couldn’t imagine going through my awkward teenage years without the love and support of the amazing dancers that I chose to surround myself with everyday.

Another interesting point to look at in the series Breaking Point is in the beginning of the series where a young dancer brings up the topic of dieting so that she can look “tiny” in a costume that she is supposed to preform in. At first, you are appalled by how someone with such a tiny frame could ever want to be any tinier. In a following episode, they make a strategic point to have the dancers having an open discussion about diet and having good eating habits, emphasis on the actually eating part. This, I thought, shined positively for ballerina’s in this case. In a New York Times article written in 1997 by Jennifer Dunning, she said some things that I believe are still extremely interesting and relevant more than a decade later. It reads, “…the average incidence of eating disorders in the white middle-class population in 1 in 100. In classical ballet, it is one in five” (Dunning). I believe that is a statistic that still applies to our society today and is why it’s so important that during that episode, they shined a more positive light on ballerinas and eating disorders.

In 2006, director Anne Fletcher released a movie called “Step Up”; a movie that shines a spotlight on female dancer who ends up with a male partner of very little dance practice for her senior show out of desperation. I think that this movie shines more positive light on ballerinas than negative. Although Nora, the female lead, is not directly portrayed as a ballerina, she is a dancer that comes from a practice of ballet and could be referenced as one. Whereas, Tyler, the main male role does not have any formal ballet training.
In this film, they create a very strong image that Nora is young woman and therefore, she must only practice jazz and ballet, whereas, Tyler, being a man, must do the masculine thing and reject all ballet practice. This creates the stigma that men can’t be ballerina’s, especially heterosexual men. In the movie, Tyler takes a very long time to warm up to the idea of practicing a traditional elegant style like ballet.
I think that popular culture media makes ballet dancers portrayed as people with eating disorders, who hate each other, and are strictly woman. In many cases, all of that isn’t true but what we see in media loves to make us think that it is. By comparing all these series and films you start to develop your own thoughts on which ballerina’s are and you get a very skewed image of them.

Citations

Black Swan. Dir. Darren Aronofsky. Screenplay by Mark Heyman. 20 Century Fox, 2010. Film.
Bonsall, Lindsay, prod. Breaking Pointe. CW. Salt Lake City, Utah, 2012. Television.
Step up. Dir. Anne Fletcher and Duane Adler. Universal, 2006. Film.
Dunning, Jennifer. “Eating Disorders Haunt Ballerinas.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 15 July 1997. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.
Mapes, Diane. “Mila Kunis, ‘Black Swan’ and How Extreme Diets Warp Your Body.” TODAY. Today.com, 7 Mar. 2012. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.
Heiland, Teresa L., Darrin S. Murray, and Paige P. Edley. “Body Image of Dancers in Los Angeles: The Cult of Slenderness and Media Influence among Dance Students.” Research in Dance Education 9.3 (2008): 257-75. Nov. 2008. Web.

Portrayals Of Women Who Work In Law Enforcement: Media vs. Reality

Mirror Essay

The word identity is defined as “a person’s conception and expression of their own (self-identity) and others’ individuality or group affiliations.” (Tajfel, H. (Ed.). (2010). Social identity and intergroup relations (Vol. 7). Cambridge University Press.” I am a sophomore here at Portland State and I am majoring in Criminal Justice. I am not sure what I want my profession to be, however, I do know that I want it to be in the field of law enforcement. I have always been very interested in all of the television shows and movies that have to do with the law. As I grew older, I saw some stereotypes taking place when it came to the women who worked in law enforcement. I wanted to take a deeper look into exactly how women are portrayed by the popular culture compared to reality. When it comes down to facts, women only take up 12% of the U.S. law enforcement industry. (Davis, A. (1998). Masked racism: Reflections on the prison industrial complex. Color Lines, 1(2), 11-13.) You would think with this being such a small percentage that women would be looked at like superwomen by the people of our world. Individuals see women on the screen as officers who are gorgeous and being glamor up when in reality there is so much more to it. Truth be told, the media enhances and portrays women way more positively than reality.

One piece of artifact that I want to look at is a clip from the show Criminal Minds that was aired on May 16, 2012. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iN5LyINg5gc) In this clip, we see a suspect trying to run away and two agents that are not going to let that happen. Agent Morgan is an African American male who is portrayed as the handsome one who gets his job done. JJ is a Caucasian, blonde female, who is portrayed as the brains of the team and one who can hold her own. Having a female as his partner, Morgan trusts JJ with his life. In this specific video, we have guns drawn, a man jumping out of a two-story house, a small foot chase, and a very determined woman agent.

There are so many reasons why I think this clip is amazing. One of those reasons being a woman taking charge for once instead of a man having to. Honestly, my favorite part about this clip is the determination JJ has in herself, along with the look she has in her eyes. The fierce expression she has while shooting a gun at this man. She accomplished a head shot kill from somewhat far of range. It shows women that they can be the ones behind the gun protecting civilians or trying to solve a case. It gives them hope for a change. In actuality, men are usually always the ones to solve a big case or to catch the suspect. They are the ones in real life who handle all of the physical actions of a police officer. Men have respect in this type of occupation where women don’t. They have to earn it. While them men get respect handed to them. This is why I love seeing shows that switch up the roles a little bit and don’t care too much of what someone’s gender is. Morgan never had a clear shot at the suspect running away and he knew that. Having that connection with his partner, and the trust that she can handle it, he relayed the message over to her. Television gives women so much more value compared to real life. JJ was vocal during the chase and not a quiet girl that couldn’t take charge, which I feel, is absolutely wonderful. At the end of the day, the guy was killed and a woman saved the day. I think the media needs to realize that our world doesn’t revolve around men and women are independent and can handle taking care of themselves and others.

The media has so many different shows and movies that are not only cop related but just action portrayals in general. There are some that reveal women of course negatively, although, there is that handful that gives women faith. When you watch certain shows you don’t just watch it, you soak up the information being given to you. Just like when we go to school. We go to learn. One of my favorite female action movies is one titled, Charlie’s Angels. There are three girls who play as what you can call agents. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tS0HTeoHNjM) The scene that I have chosen to focus on is one that has Drew Barrymore is involved in. It is what you call somewhat of a fun type of scenario. This scene starts off with Barrymore’s hands and feet tied up as she is sitting in a wooden chair. There are five men in this room, one whom pisses her off by taking her lighter. They are good-sized “muscle men” that should be able to handle a female who has her hands and feet tied in a rope. The men don’t see Barrymore as a threat because she is considered a damsel in distress at this point. Well, what they don’t know is she is her own secret weapon.

Barrymore takes the situation into her own hands. She doesn’t look scared at all. Actually, she knows she is about to kick some ass so she is somewhat cocky. Almost instigating the men to attack her. The men laugh it off thinking all that she says isn’t about to take place. The men never even lay a finger on her. The media portrays Barrymore as this funny agent, but also strong willed female at the same time. She doesn’t get stereotyped into waiting for a man to come and rescue her, like a princess movie. Yes, these are indeed just movies, but why get into girls mind that they need a man to feel safe. Women should be portrayed just like Barrymore as an independent kick ass types of girls. Never once did she think she was in danger. She had confidence in herself and she knew what she was capable of. Women in reality, I don’t always feel believe in themselves as much as they should. I wish more girls in their late teens would believe that they are in charge of their own happiness and nobody can take that away from them. Too many girls watch the movies like Shrek or Cinderella, where the female is always saved and can’t hold their own. The stereotype that women can’t do what a man is capable of aggravates me. I can do anything that I set my mind to and I know that because I believe in myself. The media does a wonderful job portraying women in this scene. It closes out with Barrymore saying, “ And that’s me kicking your ass.” Isn’t that the attitude all women should have?

Occasionally, the media will give women the upper hand when it comes to a fight scene when it is male vs. female. The media does anything and everything to make the man look better or stronger than the female. They always want the man to be seen as superman. However, sometimes the media will switch things up just a little bit. I have never seen the movie Fight Night, but this next clip I want to focus on is in fact from that movie. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ek2DPTK3WFc) This scene is a no rules, straight up street fight and is male vs. female. A massive, muscular, scary looking guy, fighting a somewhat average looking female. The crowd is rowdy and loud. Having there been no rules she gets the guy in the choke-hold and then snaps his neck and kills him. Before the fight even started she saw whom she was fighting and was not at all rattled. She seemed excited she had the opportunity to fight this guy. It is really cool to see the media portray women like this because it is very rarely you see this on the big screen.

In reality, the only type of women fighters we see like this that are professionals is Ronda Rousey, who is a UFC fighter. She is the image of women fighters around the world. When I say the image she is the entire package. She has the record of 10-0, an attitude that you wouldn’t believe, and the determination that I have never witnessed before. Seeing her fight is inspirational to young girls and women nationwide. When girls watch her fight they get the sense that they could one day be just like her. Rousey is greater than some male UFC fighters which is unheard of. They compare her to Floyd Mayweather and Nate Diaz. Having her in the media is all facts and stats. As a female fighter and a successful undefeated one at that, is what people love to see. She’s doing everything the right way that young girls strive to be one day. Magazine covers, modeling, and acting, she does it all. The media can portray women in a male work occupation in anyway they want but when it comes down to it, women can do anything men can.

Looking at the true meaning behind the word stereotype from the What is? website: “In social psychology, a stereotype is a thought that can be adopted about specific types of individuals or certain ways of doing things. These thoughts or beliefs may or may not accurately reflect reality.” In my opinion the popular culture does not accurately reflect the reality of females who work in law enforcement. Females are not usually the ones who take care of the fighting crimes in real life, or the ones behind the gun when some gets killed and it makes the headline news. Women take up 12% of the law enforcement industry like I stated before, but it is not what you think. You are probably thinking that they are cops, or detectives, right? These women are mostly district attorneys, lawyers, judges, etc. They are the behind the desk, non-field agents. Although there are obviously a handful of female field agents, they aren’t treated the way the media portrays them. They have to work and earn their respect. They have to climb up the ladder before the men in their field of work respect them even a little bit. Honestly, there are some people out there who don’t believe women have what it takes to be an officer because they’re not physically strong enough. The media in my opinion gives young girls hope that they can be and do whatever they want. I can’t wait to be apart of the law enforcement agency and I will be someone who is portrayed like the media shows. Respected, independent, hardworking, an all around amazing agent.

All in all, I feel as if women get a lot more credit from the media than in real life. Every single one of my three artifacts proves this theory correctly. In reality, women have to earn their stripes in this type of work force they are not seen as these amazing women who do great things on a daily basis. The stereotype in actuality is that women can’t hang with the boys. Little girls watch television shows and movies and see women being the great agent who solves crimes and want to one day be that. The media takes up a huge part of our lives today whether it is in a negative or positive way. Regardless of the negativity or positivity people feed off of this information and have to learn the hard way that its not always true. I wish people in our world would give women working in the law enforcement just half of the respect that they deserve. They are the real heroes who risk their lives everyday to try and make our world a better place.

 

References

  1. JJ shoots unsub. (2013, June 8). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iN5LyINg5gc
  2. Charlie’s Angels “By the time this is over…” 1080p full scene. (2013, August 13). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tS0HTeoHNjM
  3. Male vs. Female Fight Night. (2013, June 10). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ek2DPTK3WFc
  4. Tajfel, H. (Ed.). (2010). Social identity and intergroup relations (Vol. 7). Cambridge University Press.
  5. Davis, A. (1998). Masked racism: Reflections on the prison industrial complex. Color Lines, 1(2), 11-13.
  6. Stereotype – definition – What is ? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://what-is-this.net/en/define/stereotype