Comedy and the Straw Feminist

Carrie Brownstein (left) and Fred Armisen (right) as the Feminist bookstore owners on IFC’s Portlandia.

In all honesty, my identity comes with very few disadvantages at this point in my life. Being a white middle-class college student in Portland, I’m usually treated with respect, assumed to be responsible, and afforded the basic opportunities necessary to lead a satisfying life. I’m also lucky enough to attend University as a young adult, where I’ve recently found a passion for engaging with social justice and Feminism. Since becoming interested in Feminism, however, I’ve noticed a pattern in the way white Feminists are perceived in our culture. Many critics of Feminism openly deride white and upper/middle-class activists, but certain advocates of Feminism are hesitant to take a privileged woman’s Feminist identity seriously as well. White Feminist characters in movies and television are often self-righteous, unpleasant, or over-the-top, and even actors who identify as Feminist themselves sometimes portray white Feminist women as the butt of the joke. Why, if Feminism aims to eliminate prejudice, does this bias exist? From what I’ve noticed, people seem to assume that social privilege (in this case, being white and middle-class) and oppression (experiencing sexism) are mutually exclusive. For that reason, upper and middle-class white Feminists are often seen as inauthentic by default. I’ve encountered this line of thinking numerous times through personal interactions, and have began to notice this image of the irritating, hypocritical, and disingenuous white Feminist woman reflected in pop-culture media as well. Like many stereotypes, this theme seems to appear most often in comedy, where the genre allows actors to go wild overacting their “Feminist” characters. Over the past few weeks, I’ve found three pop culture artifacts that cast my identity—white, female, middle-class, and feminist—in such a light.

dumb-liberal1

Blogspot meme: “Stupid Hippie Feminist Grunge Chick”

The first artifact that came to mind when I began thinking about Feminist’s portrayal in pop culture media is a scene from the animated series, Futurama. Futurama’s third feature-length film, “Into the Wild Green Yonder”, focuses a lot on the theme of environmental destruction and eco-Feminism. Leela, the show’s main female character, takes action against deforestation by joining an Eco-Feminist collective called the “Greenoritas.”  The organization’s leader, named Frida Waterfall, is an extreme parody of both stereotypical feminists and environmental protesters.  Throughout her appearances in the film, she makes constant bad Feminist puns on common words used by the other characters. Before long, even Leela snaps, and can no longer tolerate Frida’s quirks and irritating and personality. A man voices Frida, and uses a whiny and emotional tone through most of her dialog. After multiple failed protesting stunts, all of which display Frida’s incompetence as a leader, she’s stripped of her title as head of the organization.

tumblr_n7ypf23Hbx1r8q9x8o5_500Though Frida makes the most blatantly faulty arguments, the entire Greenorita collective is a strong example of a specific character trope; the “Straw Feminist”. Coined by columnist Ellen Goodman in the early 1990s, the Straw Feminist is a satirical embodiment of negative stereotypes about Feminist. Like the proverbial Straw Man, the Straw Feminist’s arguments are flimsy and fallacious. With her famously eloquent sarcastic tone, Goodman explains in a 1994 issue of the Pittsburg Post-Gazette that Straw Feminists are “most helpful for discrediting real feminists, but also handy for scaring supporters away.” TVtropes.org describes the trope as it appears in popular movies and television:

“Straw Feminist: A character whose ‘feminism’ is drawn only for the purposes of either proving the character wrong or mocking them. Typical depictions of Straw Feminists usually present them as misandrists who exhibit Political Correctness Gone Mad.” 

While there was likely at least some satirical intention behind the Greenorita characters in Futurama as well, Frida and her colleagues definitely perpetuate the image of the obnoxious and irrational white Feminist woman. Because there’s no positive image of Feminism to serve as contrast in the film, “Into the Wild Green Yonder” seems to portray the Straw Feminist trope to a fault. The film could have poked fun at Frida and still left viewers with a positive impression of Feminism, if only Frida had been given any chances for redemption. But, before the end of the movie, she’s killed off. Rather than highlighting the absurdity of characters like these, the take-away message about the Greenoritas seems simply to be that they’re incompetent.

My second artifact comes from the IFC comedy series, Portlandia. In the series’ famous Feminist Bookstore clips, actors Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein play two women who own a Feminist-themed bookstore in Northeast Portland. Throughout the first two seasons, Both owners speak in monotone, and have very solemn and unamused personalities. The owners seem to seize every opportunity to become personally offended, and in each scene, Armisen and Brownstein are simultaneously whiny and soft-spoken; bossy, and incompetent. In short, they’re frustrating to their customers, and frustrating to watch. The overacting in the skits make clear that the Feminist bookstore owners in Portlandia are made to seem more like eccentric complainers than informed philosophers. Additionally, the fact that they’re white business owners in a trendy neighborhood conveys a sense of privilege, and this is accentuated by their culturally appropriated clothing and accessories. Cumulatively, these details lead me to think that the humor in the Feminist bookstore skit comes mostly from the fact that the owners are hypocritical underinformed. As a viewer, I’m reluctant to take them seriously. I get the sense that they hold themselves up on a pedestal, despite claiming to be liberal and nondiscriminatory. I might consider the Feminist Bookstore skit as more of a funny or satirical character study if it weren’t totally consistent with a real-world negative stereotype; that Feminist white women are really just sheltered, unappreciative, and bored.

234e5f2c3e563fb85eb02e41cf7edbba

Knowing a bit about Armisen’s and Brownstein’s personal lives, I’m sure there’s no blatant anti-feminist message in their work. However, the characters they create and portray are obnoxious in a way that encapsulates negative stereotypes about Feminists, and it doesn’t exactly seem intentional—at least, not in a pro-Feminist way. Kelsey Wallace, a writer for Bitch Magazine, had this reaction as well. In her review of Portlandia’s first season, she explains that the Feminist Bookstore scenes are “tricky.” She points out that on one hand, the show brings Feminism to popular television by filming on location in a real Feminist bookstore, and by starring former Riot Grrrl (a.k.a., third-wave Feminist) Carrie Brownstein. On the other hand, though, she notices how Armisen and Brownstein don’t exactly poke fun at Feminism in the “laughing with you” way. In her review, she links an NPR interview where Brownstein explains that the skit is inspired by the bookstore’s real owners. There’s not really a “you have the wrong idea about feminists” tone to the skits; rather, the skits humor lies in the eccentricity and irritating Feminism of the Feminists themselves. I wouldn’t knock someone for enjoying these skits, since elements of Brownstein and Armisen’s overreacting can be pretty silly. Personally though, I prefer to know there’s strong intention behind controversial representations of women and Feminists. Comedic sketches where the joke is that the woman’s a Feminist aren’t very creative or original; women and Feminism are already mocked in this way by intentional sexism. Plus, if the audience has a limited understanding Feminism, skits like these might simply perpetuate the stereotypes they’re satirizing.

My third artifact comes from Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update Segment, and it features Sarah Silverman and Kate McKinnon playing a two-woman Feminist band. Unsurprisingly, Silverman and McKinnon clearly overact their parts, giving their characters obnoxious and self-important airs. snl_1664_08_Update_SARAHMcKinnon especially, as she keeps her eyes wide open throughout the skit, and only speaks in a sharp and direct tone of voice. The news anchor in the skit (played by Michael Che) seems visibly put-off by the two feminist musicians, and his expressions suggest that he’s struggling to stay polite. The “Feminist” points that the two women (“Garage and Her”) argue on the show are really just inaccurate beliefs. For example, McKinnon preaches at one point that “everyone with strength is a woman,” and that  “Jesus was a woman.”Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 4.57.12 PM At first I was a little surprised by Sarah Silverman and Kate McKinnon’s choice to totally mock feminists, and to portray their own political identities in such an unlikable way. I was also surprised by how, instead of making points rooted in actual feminist logic, the two characters argued simply that everyone’s a woman. I imagine fans of SNL would argue that the skit, like Ellen Goodman’s writing on the Straw Feminist, is intentionally satyrical. After watching the skit a few times, I think I understand the statement McKinnon and Silverman are trying to make. Rather than mocking actual Feminists, the comics seem to be poking fun at what we expect feminists to be like. Their dress, statements, and attitudes are absurd, but this might all be intentional. At the beginning of the skit, the two musicians are asked about their views on Marvel’s recent announcement of a new Female Thor character. On the same day this skit aired, people in the real world reacted with hostility to the announcement. Twitter exploded with hateful tweets from people who couldn’t stand the concept. Like this skit, the backlash from Marvel fans at the announcement of a female Thor was outlandish, so Silverman and McKinnon may be aiming to satirize the image of “Feminism” held by the critics of Marvel’s new character. Still, I can’t help but wonder whether the dialogue in this sketch just reinforces popular beliefs about Feminism; that it’s is a radical and unrealistic philosophy, and that it’s promoters are self-important oddballs. I wouldn’t be surprised if McKinnon and Silverman had witty good intentions, but I can’t imagine a situation where commentary this complex could be conveyed successfully in a short comedic sketch.

Analyzing these artifacts over the last few weeks has led me to consider white Feminist women’s appearance in pop culture media as a sort of double-edged sword. In a sense, I think it’s admirable that Feminism is receiving more coverage and representation in mainstream media at all. Even though the white Feminist identity tends to be portrayed with accompanying negative connotations (whether intentional or satirical), it’s encouraging to see Feminist characters making up more of the population in movies and television. By stepping back and considering my own social privileged, I’ve also come to understand why some people might feel resentful towards the emergence of more white Feminist women and characters in pop culture media. Middle-class white women like myself belong to our country’s majority demographic, so our voices are heard and represented more often than any other group of women’s. Because mainstream television and movies are skewed to reflect the perspective of majority viewers, male characters are more common than female ones, and non-white female characters are rarer yet (Glascock, 2001). Upper and middle-class white women are also statistically more likely to achieve financial success and independence, which dovetails their opportunity to broadcast personal opinions in meaningful ways. (Think current Feminist icons: Emma Watson, Lena Dunham, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and so on.) Perhaps unsurprisingly, these privileges make up the basis for many of the negative stereotypes about white women in the Feminist movement. While I wouldn’t necessarily condone stereotypes in any case, I understand that many women face bigger obstacles and harsher discrimination than I ever will. If I were one of these women, I too might be irritated seeing a successful white women talking about oppression.Upper and middle-class white women are also statistically more likely to achieve financial success and independence, which dovetails their opportunity to broadcast personal opinions in meaningful ways. (Think current Feminist icons: Emma Watson, Lena Dunham, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and so on.) Perhaps unsurprisingly, these privileges make up the basis for many of the negative stereotypes about white women in the Feminist movement. While I wouldn’t necessarily condone stereotypes in any case, I understand that many women face bigger obstacles and harsher discrimination than I ever will. If I were one of these women, I too might be irritated seeing a successful white women talking about oppression.

I think comedy has the potential to get people thinking critically, and it’s really impressive to me when actors and artists make statements by utilizing tropes like the Straw Feminist in intentionally satirical ways. For people already familiar with Feminism, Futurama’s Feministas and Portlandia’s Bookstore Owners might just seem like the light-hearted sketches they are. But it’s important to keep in mind that pop culture media is the first place many people are exposed to certain ideas and communities. Funny as these artifacts might be on the surface, I think it’s vitally important that producers of media and pop culture content consider the impact of their work when they joke about oppressed demographics and controversial movements. In order to avoid perpetuating negative images of women and Feminists, content producers and viewers alike could benefit from familiarizing themselves with common tropes. Speaking from personal experience, it’s much easier to determine whether characters are satirical or simply inaccurate when you’re aware of stereotypes in the first place.


Sources:

“Feminist Bookstore” scenes, Portlandia Season 1.Writ. Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. Dir. Jonathan Krisel. IFC, 2011. link

Futurama, “Into the Wild Green Yonder.” Dir. Peter Avanzino. Fox studios, 2009.

Glascock, Jack. Gender Roles on Prime-Time Network Television: Demographics and Behaviors. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. Vol. 45, Iss. 4, 2001

Goodman, Ellen. “The Straw Feminist.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Vol 67, Ver 179. Jan 26, 1994. link

Saturday Night Live’s “Garage and Her on the Female Thor” skit from Weekend Update segment with Michael Che. S40 E2, “Sarah Silverman with Maroon 5.” Oct. 04, 2014. link

Wallace, Kelsey. “Pomp and Quirkumstance.” Bitch Magazine 6 Jan. 2012: Web. 10 May 2015. link 

Census Statistics on Race and Gender

Straw Feminist” Definition by TV trope

Advertisements

A Look at Advertising’s Backlash Against Feminism

It seems impossible to see myself in the media.  As a woman, my identities as portrayed in the media twist around and contradict one another.  If I believe what many advertisements say, I cannot be sexy and be a good mother, nor can I be a feminist and a good wife.  But I am- I am all of those things and more.  A whole person; unique, complex, and not flat.  The same is true of my mother, my daughters, and every woman who ever lived.  However, my own reflection as portrayed by many advertisers does not portray my strong, feminist self.  Often, what I see in the advertiser’s mirror is a forcing me to believe that I am not capable of true equality.  In fact, advertisers have been telling women for years that they don’t really want equality.  As a woman, I should be happy to be at home, taking care of matters there.

You see, often women’s portrayal in media has been limited to strict boundaries, boundaries set in response to surges in feminism and interest in women’s rights, I believe.  Looking through advertisements for various products and services spanning more than 100 years, there was a theme that persisted: women belong at home.  This is a discouraging and dangerous message.  We are all susceptible to subtle messages and whether we know it or not, these messages help shape our lives.  Do we really want our young women to feel that they should not have dreams outside of domestic life?  Being more mindful of the persistence of this message, we can try to eliminate it from the media through replacing it with more positive, encouraging messages for all young people.

Feminism has been an idea that has intimidated many since its birth.  But Feminism is not scary or exclusive; Feminism can be simply defined as the belief that men and women should have equal opportunities.  Though this sounds like a fair and harmless assumption, feminism has shaken some traditionally held beliefs about gender roles in American society.  The birth of the Women’s Rights Movement and Women’s Suffrage Movement made waves in society and those waves rippled into advertising.  Advertising’s response to the Women’s Rights Movement and feminism has varied by company and time period, but from the beginning there have been advertisements that have broadcasted a backlash against feminism.  Looking at ads from the early 20th century through the present, we see increasingly hysterical message from some advertisements that women belong at home, subservient to men.

Political Cartoon - 1st wave

I’d like to take you on a tour of such magazine advertisements.  Let’s start at the beginning of the 20th century.  This illustrated print was published in 1908 during the women’s suffrage movement.  The illustration originally appeared in Puck, an early American magazine (http://shop.theappendix.net/products/poster-of-1908-anti-suffrage-cartoon-why-not-go-the-limit). The audience was meant to let the hysterical prediction make them vote no for women’s suffrage.

This illustration shows a bar full of women, but void of men.  The “Gentlemen’s Club” sign tells that the women have taken over the bar and forced out the men.  At the time, men and women did not interact in society like today.  Men and women were kept separate much of the time, and it was difficult for many people to imagine what life would be like once women were politically equal to men.  It was difficult for them to imagine sharing public space, so many worried that men would be forced to stay home and take on the traditional roles being left behind by feminists.  In addition, the scene in which the mother scowls at the children plays on fear that women will not be interested in their children once they are given political rights.  The ad seems to ask how women could possibly care for their children if they are busy politicking, drinking, and smoking in public.  The ad predicts that when women are free to leave their homes, the normal structure of society is destroyed; men will ejected from their place in traditional society and women will lose their tenderness and nurture instinct.

The assumption of the illustration is that once women have rights equal to men society will be turned upside down; women won’t love their families and children and women will take over the public sphere, leaving men responsible for all of the domestic responsibilities. This assumption is what inspires fear of feminism.  Because this was a centerfold illustration on Puck magazine, the purpose seems to have been to sell more magazines.  This resistance against feminism must have been a popular stance for the readers of the magazine at that time (1908).

So what about other ads that show women outside of the home?  Well, looking at the early 20th century, we can focus on The Ladies Home Journal, because it had in incredible influence in the United States.  It was the “first women’s periodical to reach and exceed one million readers and by 1918, 43 percent of all dollars spent on national advertising in the United States went to Curtis Publishing, the publisher of the Ladies’ Home Journal (Ramsey, 95).”

The magazine has been studied by academics and consistently the magazine is described as defining women as “naturally interested in the home and housekeeping.”  This is true even when the ads depict women in public areas (Ramsey, 96-97).  The fact that the advertisements made up a huge portion of the media consumed by women and girls in the early part of the century, we can have no doubt that it affected their beliefs about their own abilities.  For seeing few depictions of women engaged in non-domestic activities tells one that women belong at home, taking care of domestic duties.

Ad - Necktie (1951)

The image above is an ad for Van Heusen ties from 1951.  The ad boldly suggested a woman’s place was in the home and that the masculine design of their ties would make women want to stay home.

The belief projected by the ad is that men are dominant to women, and that women do not belong in the “man’s world,” otherwise known as the public sphere.  I think the contrast in the attire of the two subjects projects the anti-feminist message.  The ad says men don’t want women in their “man’s world” and that the purpose of a woman should be to happily serve her man.  Part of the longer text at the bottom of the ad indicates that a woman should be happy it’s a man’s world.  The ad expects women to be beautiful, happy, submissive, and to serve her man.

In the ad the woman is serving and completely focusing on the man in a submissive manner and the man does not acknowledge her, but looks above her with a satisfied expression.  Both the man and the woman are smiling.  They both appear to be happy in their traditional roles.  The bold text at the top of the ad reads, “Show her it’s a man’s world…”  The advertiser wants the audience to believe that buying their masculine ties will ensure their wives will suddenly be happy to be submissive housewives, showing devotion to their husbands.  The ad tries to claim that the “man-talking” ties will squash any feminist ideas.

This ad, like the others, seems to be playing off a fear of feminism.  It claims that it’s necessary to demonstrate that “it’s a man’s world.”  The ad suggests that a man has to dominate a woman and keep her from feminist ideas.   The text subtly says that women might be unhappy in this role of submissive housewife, but promises that their manly ties will change that.  It definitely seems to be a response to more women stepping out of that role, and becoming more independent.

Ad - Shoe (1972)

This shoe ad was created by Weyenberg Massagic Footwear in 1972 and was published in the December issue of Playboy magazine in 1974 (Twenten).  Its purpose was to sell their product, using an anti-feminist message that would appeal to men who liked submissive women.

The statement at the top of the ad tells indicates a struggle to keep women “in their place.”  There is a fear women are escaping their traditional roles and so a man must work to “keep her where she belongs.”  In addition, the woman in the ad is physically beautiful and happily submissive.  Content to lie on the floor admiring a shoe, she has no desire to travel into the man’s domain (the public sphere).  Because this ad is out of context and without a brand, I had to research who made the ad.  This is an interesting choice to leave out the brand, and I am curious about why that was done.

This shoe ad uses the resistance against the popular Women’s Rights Movement to sell the product.  The phrase “Keep her where she belongs” suggests a struggle to pull women back from feminism and to keep them at home.  It’s bold white against a monochrome contrasting background.  Seeing how it’s not possible to buy a certain shoe to keep a woman “where she belongs” it’s apparent that the company wanted to capitalize on the backlash against feminism in the early 1970’s.

The woman portrays the ideal woman of the message; she’s vulnerable, nude, beautiful, and happily submissive.  She’s content simply lying on the floor gazing upon a shoe.  This is not a woman who is involved in politics or women’s rights.

Maybe the most interesting aspect of the ad is the lack of branding.  The message is not veiled at all and confidently shows its stance on feminism.  However, the ad lacks a brand name which seems to be less than courageous.  Why leave off identifying information?  To create stir and interest in product?  There was some protest against the ad when it was released in 1972 (http://guerillawomentn.blogspot.com/2011/04/bad-old-days-of-womens-liberation.html). Sometimes companies use controversy to bring attention to a product.  Feminism was a hot topic at that time and Weyensen Massagic Footwear capitalized on the backlash against the movement.

In the 1970’s two social scientists conducted one of the first major studies on “women in magazine advertising.” What they found is no surprise.  “The perspective presented in the ads were that (a) a woman’s place was in the home, (b) women did not make important decisions or do important things, (c) women were dependent upon men and needed men’s protection, and (d) men regarded women primarily as sexual objects and were not interested in women as people (Mager, 239).”  Though we’ve talked about ads for a variety of products spanning almost a century, the message has been the same- some people in society were fearful about women having more autonomy outside of the home.  The traditional societal roles were shifting and so there was resistance to keep things as they were.  The fear was that women would abandon their roles entirely and that society would be turned upside down.  What would happen to man’s role in society?  And as women’s role in American society has changed over the last century, the fear about this change has remained.  Fear of change has led to this backlash against feminism in advertising.  Advertisements that show women in only one role- the submissive housewife- shape how girls and young women see their own futures.  These limiting images have real impact and let girls have limited ideas about their capabilities and worth.  As a feminist, I wish to see more diverse and rich portrayals of women in advertising.

Luckily, there is a recent trend in advertising that shows strong, independent girls and women and try to connect their products with an empowering message for young women and girls.  The pro-feminist messages of advertisements are addressing misguided ways of thinking about girls’ abilities and they are doing it in a big, loud way.  This year, during the most expensive advertising time slot on television, the Super Bowl, a company ran a three minute ad that tore apart the phrase “like a girl.”  This ad and others like it are replacing the ads that tell women they are not equal to men.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs

The advertisements demonstrating that a woman’s place is in the home have been geared toward a male audience, but have also sent harmful messages to girls and women.  This message has told them that they are only good enough to live their lives in a happy servant’s role… that their uniqueness, minds, and personalities are flaws.  It’s disturbing to consider the impact that such messages have had in our society.  The recent trend that promotes a more feminist ideology gives me hope that my daughters won’t have to fight off the limiting messages I have received from the media.  I don’t want them to think the best they can accomplish in life is to please a man.  Let’s wipe away these harmful messages and encourage everyone to follow their dreams and desires without pressure to fit any rigid gender role expectations.

 

 

 

 

 

WORKS CITED

Clark, Rosemary. #NotBuyingIt: Hashtag Feminists Expand the CommercialMedia Conversation, Feminist Media Studies, 14:6, 1108-1110.

Mager, John and James Helgeson J. Fifty Years of Advertising Images: Some Changing Perspectives on Role Portrayals: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed May 12, 2015.

Ramsey, Michelle E. Driven from the Public Sphere: The Conflation of Women’s Liberation and Driving in Advertising from 1910 to 1920. Women’s Studies In Communication [serial online]. Spring 2006;29(1):88-112. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed May 12, 2015.

Tweten, Alexandra.  From the Stacks: Keep Her Where She Belongs.  Ms. Magazine Blog. April 14, 2010. http://msmagazine.com/blog/2010/04/14/from-the-stacks-keep-her-where-she-belongs/.

http://guerillawomentn.blogspot.com/2011/04/bad-old-days-of-womens-liberation.html

http://shop.theappendix.net/products/poster-of-1908-anti-suffrage-cartoon-why-not-go-the-limit

 

Villainous Russians

Svyatoslav Zhuchenya

Popular Culture

Sophomore Inquiry

May 15, 2015

Looking in the Mirror Blog Post

Used for entertainment, expression, communication and many other purposes; popular culture artifacts are all around and in many different forms. Although something that has the simple purpose of entertaining someone might seem insignificant and harmless, pop culture artifacts such as movies and TV shows have a great power in influencing the way society thinks about and sees certain identities and groups of people. Often in pop culture, an identity can be misrepresented and incorrectly portrayed. This can be offensive to some and may even have negative impacts on people that associate with that group. An example of such a case is the portrayal of Russians and Slavic people in general, in movies and TV shows. More often than not, Russians in movies take on the role of a hardcore villain, corrupt politician or just a frightening expressionless individual. These portrayals are often inaccurate and pertain to if any at all, a small amount of Slavic people.

In January of 2013, comedian Dan Soder did a stand-up comedy skit on the Conan O’Brien show. Towards the end of the skit, Soder describes to the audience that he is from New York City and he often fears being mugged at night. As part of the skit he states that he has found a solution on how to overcome his fear; he imitates a Russian accent. He underlines that this method works because “…Russians are the scariest White people, they’ve earned it…” (Soder). The comedian goes on to describe that faking the accent brings the enemy fear and he then is protected. After his statement, Soder then proceeds to take character of a Russian person encountering two dangerous individuals in the street. During his role-play, he deepens his voice, obtains an expressionless look and gives his character a thick Russian accent. In this skit, Russians are portrayed as frightening and hardcore, this seems to be a trend in many other forms of entertainment.

A Good Day to Die Hard

A Good Day to Die Hard (Russian villain)

Another popular culture artifact, in which Russians are portrayed in, is the latest film in the “Die Hard” franchise, “A Good Day to Die Hard”. In the film, the main character, John Mcclane travels to Russia to help out his son who happens to get into some trouble. There the main character encounters many different Russian people, from a simple taxi driver to hardcore criminals to corrupt politicians. Early in the movie there is a traffic scene, the drivers in what was portrayed to be Russia, are seen as being very aggressive and violent drivers. There are multiple car collisions as well as drivers yelling at one another. The majority of the Russians he later encounters are either hardcore and violent criminals or corrupt politicians that are somehow tied to the criminals for political gain. Towards the end of the movie, it turns out that the Russian villains are attached to dealing weapons grade uranium and the dealing is directly tied to the Soviet Union and the Cold War. In fact, Russians and nuclear weapons seems to be a major tread in modern movies as well.

Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol (Russian villain with nuclear launch suitcase)

A film example in which Russians are portrayed as being associated or having ties to nuclear weapons is “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”. In this movie, the main character is a secret agent is trying to stop corrupt Russian politicians for obtaining nuclear launches codes and bombing the United States. As with the “Die Hard” film, there are very similar portrayals of Russians in this film that follow the treads that were mentioned earlier. The Russians have mean expressionless looks on their faces; they all seem very violent and corrupt and tend to take on villainous roles in the films.

During the research of the pop culture artifacts, it is evident that there are certain patterns that are present. The first one is the fact that many of the Russian roles that are in the movies or TV shows are played by non-Slavic actors. This is evident through the extreme accents that the actors have when attempting to act out the character speaking Russian. Even when the actors are speaking English and are simulating a Russian accent, it is still evident that the accents are not authentic. The actors may be very good at faking an accent and it might make for a great movie character or a funny skit, but the accents do not sound like what real Russian accents are like. This fact might be one of the sources for the incorrect portrayal of the Slavic people. As a result of actors having very little experience with Russian culture, one could assume that their inspiration for their roles comes form other popular culture artifacts that too are prone to inaccurate depictions.

Due to the fact that I myself am a Slavic person, originally from Ukraine. I have many interactions with Russians and other Slavic people on a day-to-day basis. I have experience in knowing many Slavic people from many different ages and groups. The way Russians are portrayed in films is simply incorrect for the majority of the Slavic community. Most likely there are still corrupt politicians and criminals in Russia as in many countries around the world, and it is evident that there certainly were in the Soviet Union. However, to generalize Russians and other Slavic people as “scary” expressionless, hardcore individuals is simply inaccurate. These portrayals of Slavic people seem to be a trend or a pattern in many pop culture artifacts; this indicates that there is most likely a source for these misconceptions.

A BBC article, titled “Hollywood Stereotypes: Why are Russians the Bad Guys?” discusses the outstanding trend of Russians being the villains in many of the modern movies. The article underlines some possibilities of why this is happening and what the sources of it might be. It is motioned that one possible reason for the portrayals of Russians in this light is the former and ongoing tensions between Russia or the former Soviet Union and Western countries such as the United States. The article makes the interesting point that it has not always been Russians that are in the spotlight for villain roles but other races and nationalities as well. During World War II there was a trend in movie villains being German due to the obvious tensions between Germany and the allied forces.

Although, the portrayals of Russians and Slavic people is inaccurate from the point of view of what I have experienced living immersed in the Slavic community, it does not make me somehow upset. I do see the potential of these trends harming the image of the Slavic community or perhaps making someone upset but it has not really been one of my concerns. However, one thing that I do not understand is why it is okay to make fun of or vilify Russians or any other nationality for that matter but it is not okay to do so to other groups such as African Americans, women or some religious groups. If it is not okay to misrepresent one group of people, then what makes it okay to do so to another? The question that should be asked is not whom we can use for entertainment and whom we can’t, but should we use inaccurate representations or stereotypes of identities at all, in pop culture?

Works Cited

A Good Day to Die Hard. Dir. John Moore. Perf. Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney. 20th          Century Fox, 2013. DVD.

Brook, Tom. “Hollywood Stereotypes: Why Are Russians the Bad Guys?” BBC. N.p., 5 Nov. 2014. Web. 20 May 2015.

“Dan Soder Stand-Up 04/15/14.” YouTube. Team Coco, 16 Apr. 2014. Web. 01 June 2015.

Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Dir. Brad Bird. Perf. Tom Cruise, J. J. Abrams, Bryan Burk. Paramount Pictures, 2011. DVD.

The Portrayal of Asian-Americans in Popular Culture

The Portrayal of Asian-Americans in Popular Culture

My father is from Seoul, Korea and my mother grew up in the United States. I, too, was born and raised in the United States. I originally am from eastern Washington, and moved my freshman year in high school to Portland, Oregon. Both my sister and brother are adopted from Seoul, Korea as well. Being half Korean, I have always grown up with the common stereotypes that come along with being Asian. Not only from my peers at school, but I have always seen it portrayed through different types of media. Popular culture portrays Asian-Americans as being very “foreign”. By this I mean that they are usually shown with a very thick Asian accent, they may be dressed in their very traditional clothing, etc. Asian-Americans parents are often portrayed as being very strict and the children are typically shown as smart and “over-achievers”. Looking more specifically at Asian-American women, they are more than often portrayed as submissive and shy or as some sort of sex object. I’ve looked at multiple different types of popular culture artifacts that help support my claim that popular culture is further supporting these common stereotypes of Asian-Americans.

Fresh Off the Boat is a TV series that is based off of Eddie Huang’s book Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir. This is a comedy TV series that focuses on an Asian-American family who has moved from Washington, D.C. to Orlando, Florida. The parents in the TV show have very thick Asian accents. Listening to these accents, they almost sound fake and not so authentic. In just the trailer for Fresh Off the Boat the viewers can see a few different stereotypes portrayed. Thirty seconds into the trailer the viewer finds out that the reason for the move is due to the father wanting to own a restaurant. Another stereotype that I see a lot less in media, but is still there, is the fact that Asian-Americans are known for owning either a restaurant, a dry cleaning place, or for women, a nail salon. While I don’t take this to be one of the more common stereotypes, it is still portraying Asian-Americans in a stereotypical way. Throughout the rest of the trailer, there are comments made that further these stereotypical portrayals of Asian-Americans. In the TV series one child is very intelligent and is known to be mature for his age while the other brother is characterized as being an “over-achiever” and never doing anything wrong. This brother excels tremendously in school. This characterization helps to support this idea that all Asian-American students are very smart and very good when it comes to school. Watching these stereotypes be portrayed in media can be really frustrating. I understand this TV series is for a comedic purpose, and in my opinion it serves that purpose, but there are plenty of other media sources that have these exact stereotypes. Almost none of these even apply to me, an Asian-American, and my family. No one in my family has a thick accent. And, in no way do I not struggle in school. I have struggle just as much as the next student, and I am not just naturally intelligent because I am Asian-American.

A character in the TV series Gilmore Girls is a perfect example of the stereotypical relationship of an Asian-American parent and her child. Mrs. Kim is the mother of Lane Kim. Mrs. Kim is very strict with her daughter academically, religiously, and socially. She forces her daughter Lane to work in her antique shop, she is very strict with her religion of being a Seventh Day Adventist, and because of this, Mrs. Kim is very hesitant to any American culture. Mrs. Kim’s attitude is very plain and she lacks personality. When it comes to Lane, Mrs. Kim is always seen extremely stern with her which forces Lane into living a double life. This idea that Asian-American relationships between children and their parents are always very strict, simple, and lack any personality are really frustrating to me. While in my case, my father is Asian, and in my example it is the mother, I think it still relates. In no way is my father so strict and hard on me that I am forced to live a double life. I will agree that in some ways, Asian parents may hold a little higher expectations of their children due to cultural differences, especially when it comes to excelling in education. This could also be where the stereotype of Asian-Americans always being smart stems from. But, I don’t think it is as extreme as media portrays it and I don’t think it applies to every Asian-American family, such as mine. I believe there is a real problem with popular culture making viewers believe that in the Asian-American culture, the relationship between parents and children are often based off of these outrageous expectations.

Asian-American women are more often than not portrayed in popular culture as either being very submissive and shy or as some sort of sex object. In the movie Pitch Perfect there is a character that fulfills this stereotype of Asian-American women being submissive. Lily Onakuramara is an Asian girl a part of the a cappella group. Her character is extremely shy. She doesn’t talk at all, and when she does, no one can hear her. Most of her friends, the rest of the group, don’t pay attention to her and she often gets pushed into the back. Not only this, but the look on her face throughout the movie is as if she is scared. Lily constantly looks shy, embarrassed, or scared of something. To contrast this, the character Ling Woo in the TV series Ally McBeal, is known for her sexuality. In the series Ling Woo’s character has some sort of sexual encounter with multiple people in her work field. She does these favors with ease as if it’s a part of her job. These encounters are portrayed as if they are some sort of fantasy. This portrayal furthers this stereotype of Asian-American women being over sexualized and helps to support this idea that Asian-American women can fulfill these fantasies. The characterization of Lily Onakuramara and Ling Woo are polar opposites and in my opinion, are not accurate to the average Asian-American woman, including me. This idea that our personalities are very submissive and shy comes from our cultural differences. But I don’t think it is fair to use popular culture media to further this stereotype that all Asian-American women are like this. On the other hand, I have no idea why, if we aren’t being shown as someone shy, we are shown as a sex object. Ling Woo’s character makes Asian-American women seem as if we are over sexualizing ourselves and allowing men to use as objects. It helps to support this idea that Asian-American women are some sort of sex toy that are their to help fulfill some fantasy. This too, is not accurate. It’s frustrating to see media support these stereotypes and lead viewers to believe that this is how all Asian-American women are.

While looking through other popular culture artifacts I came across this article written by Hua Wang titled Media stereotypes of Asian-Americans must end. I began reading it and I loved it. She outlines all stereotypes of Asian Americans that are presented in media. She then goes on to explain after every single one of them, why it is false. I love how she also details how this can be damaging to viewers watching these shows/movies etc., and how it can affect those of the Asian-American culture. On example that I love is that in movies, the Asian is either the villain or as the shy, quiet, sidekick. Huang says, “Although these can be termed “positive” stereotypes, the model minority myth pressures Asian-Americans to conform to Hollywood’s false representations,” (Huang). I love this quote because it explains why the portrayal of stereotypes can be damaging to viewers, and those of the race. When everyone around you is expecting you to act and look a certain way based on what they know from popular culture, you may start to feel as if you need to fit these expectations. Another example that goes along with my above example about Asian-American women, is that Asian-American women are shown as “docile and erotic” (Huang). This is exactly the point I was trying to make with Ling Woo’s character. Huang offers the idea that due to this portrayal media is “undermining Asian females’ dignity and self-respect” (Huang). I could not agree more with this, as it goes along with my statement earlier that these characters make it seem as if all of us are the same. It reflects badly on all Asian-American women. Concluding her article she basically sums up how it is not fair that Asian-Americans have to feel like they need to conform to Hollywood representations in order to be accepted. I agree completely with her findings, especially how she states “don’t mistake me for what you see on TV”. This is my whole argument. Viewers cannot be basing their whole perspective of the average Asian-American person on what popular culture shows them.

 

Veterans in Today’s Popular Culture

There is a certain type of person that is drawn to military service.  Whether it be for the adventure, the challenge, or the sense of duty; military service members ultimately choose to risk their lives for others.  Not all service members see action, but it would seem that almost every generation has its share.  When a person in exposed to the violence of war, it can change them in a negative way.  Our service men and women who have fought in the recent Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have been exposed to some of the worst violence the world has seen since Vietnam.  Roughly 2.5 million servicemen and women have deployed to either conflict since 2001.  With today’s social media, the struggles we face upon returning have become more and more public.  As time goes on we begin to see more and more portrayals of veterans in popular culture.  Whether it be in movies, Television, or music; the message we most often see is portraying veterans, is a negative one.

I am a Veteran.  I served as an Infantryman in the United States Marine Corps from 2002-2006, deploying twice to Iraq.  I have been diagnosed with PTSD and have definitely had my struggles upon returning to a normal life.  I have found ways to live with my PTSD.  I am almost done with college, am able to keep jobs, and maintain a relationship.  Unfortunately this is not a story we often here in today’s world.  PTSD has a very negative image attached to it due to the few occasions service members were unable to cope with their problems and violence or anger issued.  Unfortunately the bestselling stories are the ones that shock and scare, so the most common image the world sees of a veteran is negative.  I looked at 3 different popular culture artifacts to analyze how veterans are being portrayed.  The first is a music video, the second a television show, and the third, the movie “American Sniper”.

Music can be as influential as television can, reaching the billions of people worldwide.  Finding music that was about veterans was hard to find but through music videos I was able to find some pop culture references of veterans.  The song and music video I found is for a song called “Wrong side of Heaven”, written by Five Finger Death Punch.  Although it can’t be known if the music was specifically written to address veterans and the troubles they face, the video was directed to do so.  Throughout the video you are presented with facts about veterans and the troubles they face.  We are faced with the facts of high rates of veteran homelessness, PTSD, suicide, and relationship stability.  Visually you can see the pain of damaged veterans, and the social distain for the homeless.  But when you listen to the lyrics, there are messages that could easily describe what a veteran may go through.  “Eyes wide open, I stand alone, I’m no hero, and I’m not made of stone…”.  Unlike other wars when many soldiers came home together, todays veterans trickle home at different times, it can feel like they stand alone when they come home.  The next phrase “I’m no hero” is a feeling I can relate to, I did my duty and I survive, other like my friend Jason Dunham, knowingly gave up their lives to protect their brothers.  Men like that are the hero’s, the ones that didn’t make it home.  Finally the last part, “I’m not made of stone”, even though most service members are some of the strongest people on earth, physically and mentally, the violence we are exposed to can take a lasting toll.  With the visual messages and audible ones, an image is being painted that shows veterans struggle even after they leave the battlefield.  I feel that this popular culture artifact left a negative impression of veterans but they don’t always have too.  There are ways to portray veterans and our struggles in a positive light.

Television is one of the largest sources of popular culture the world knows.  With it we can get more detail and views into the media it covers.  I found a TV show called “Dogs of War” which aired on A&E in the winter of 2014.  In this show a Veteran and his wife, Jim and Lindsey Stanek, help veterans battle their PTSD by finding them service dogs.  When a veteran returns to civilian life they can often feel that nobody understands what they went through and feel alone.  With service dogs they regain a brother, someone to watch their 6, someone to live for.  This show did a really good job in showing how veterans feel when they suffer from PTSD.  For many, social life can be hard and being around large groups of people can be stressful, causing anxiety.  While watching the show you can see that these veterans are in pain, often shutting themselves out and withdrawing for social contact.  I was really for people to see this side and see that we are not all violent.  My PTSD affects me in this way.  I do not find amusement in going to bars, attending parties, or being in large crowds.  Through the years I have gotten better at dealing with my PTSD, and like the veterans on this show, animals have helped.  One thing with PTSD though is that it can constantly be retriggered throughout the years.  What matters most is the veterans need help, they need people to be there for them even when we push it away.  As portrayed in the show, companionship, friendship, and love can truly heal.  This show takes great strides to show that veterans are people like everyone else.

My final artifact is one that is the most likely to have reach the largest amount of people.  The movie “American sniper” portrays Chris Kyle, a skilled and dedicated Navy Seal who struggles with the mental trapping of war and life as a civilian.  Throughout the movie we see examples of the struggle Chris Kyle faces when he is at home, raised vigilance, disassociation, and abrasive personality.  How I feel that this movies portrays veterans in a positive way is that they show what we go through.  There is a scene in the movie where Chris struggles with the fact that he might have to shoot a child that had picked up weapon.  He begs to himself for the kid to drop the rifle and cries with relief when he finally does and runs away.  We see how he feels responsible for the protection of others and feel that’s where he is needed the most.  The movie does show that he eventually starts to readjust to a normal civilian life.  We are able to see that veterans can heal from their wounds, mental or physical.  Chris Kyle eventually begins to help fellow veterans deal with their issues.  Unfortunately after we see such a positive portrayal of veterans we are once again exposed to the ugliness of PTSD.  Chris Kyle ends up being murdered by one of the very veterans he was trying to help.  American sniper does a good job of depicting US service members and veterans, giving the public insight into our lives.

After taking a look at multiple example of portrayals of veterans in popular culture, a bleak picture emerges.  We all know that mass media clings to negative news because of its shock appeal.  And when a veteran is involved in negative news, it always has to be pointed out that he is a veteran, and his psyche is dissected.  On the bright side, the struggles that veterans face are being brought to the public’s attention and more research is being devoted to helping them.  I definitely suffer from many of the issues a veteran with PTSD is exposed too.  Unfortunately my story is one that wouldn’t most likely be heard.  I have had my ups and downs, but overall I have made succeeded with my reintegration into a civilian life.  Many parts of who I am were born in war, blood, and sadness, these parts of me will be with me for life.  The key is having support, be it from loved ones, animals, or the general public.  In the end we all need each other.  As the world sees more and more portrayals of veterans the world can begin to understand us more.

Works Sited

American Sniper. Dir. Clint Eastwood. Perf. Bradley Cooper. Warner Bros, 2014. Digital Movie.

“Dogs of War – Episodes, Video & Schedule – A&E.” Aetv. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 May 2015. <http://www.aetv.com/dogs-of-war&gt;.

Punch, Five Finger Death. The Wrong Side of Heaven. Five Finger Death Punch. Prospect Park (Universal), 2013. MP3.

Thomas, Taylor. “Veterans and the Media.” Nationalsecurityzone.org. N.p., n.d. Web. <http:/nationalsecurityzone.org/site>.

Judge Me, Judge Me Not

Judge Me, Judge Me Not

In early 2011, a conflict began in the beautiful historic country of Syria. Earlier that year there were many anti-government protests all across the Middle East and many think that the conflict in Syria is to be blamed on this and is the reaction of all the anti-government protests. The unemployment rate in this country, and Syria’s ruling dictator are all excuses for The United States encouraging wrath. Bashar Al Assad, president of Syria, took power of the country in 1970 and has ruled a lovely and civil country. Bashar Al Assad is a true Arab leader; he brought change to Syria, and transformed the country into a modern state from his father’s ways of ruling. He is well educated and 97% of the population even voted for him. (BIO True Story). So then, why all the sudden attention at the dictatorship in Syria, if it is not influenced by all the uprisings in the rest of the Arab countries, what could have mysteriously happened to spark so much heat? People can be easy be to judge when they are looking in from the outside, but what they fail to see is how the people in the conflict of choice are feeling, is it not those who matter in the end? I continuously feel the heat from outsiders, many even from people in the same region only other countries, and what they inevitably fail to see and care about is that it should be no ones choice but the people whom of which are actually effected that have any say in how their country is run. I feel this judgment in multiple way every day, and this quite sudden wrath and judgment on my country and myself makes me feel like I have failed in some way.

 

Many presidents make a tremendous amount of promises before their reign and at the beginning of it, but the presidents who actually pull through with what they say are the ones who make a difference. As Al Assad said he wanted Syria to become more modernized, his word was achieved by 2001, with “cell phones, satellite television, trendy restaurants and Internet cafes” (BIO True Story), Syria was certainly showing signs of becoming a modern society. A country housing 17 million people needed to bring all of its occupants into the 21st century, and that is exactly what Dr. Bashar Al Assad achieved. I always find a tremendous amount of humor when I see Syria on American news and tv, as it as portrayed as such a third world country. While it may be considered third world, what people fail to see is the life and societal similarities as it holds with such a modern country as America.

It is no coincidence that the rest of the world, specifically the United States and Israel, is more riled up about the dictatorship than Syria itself. This is because Syrian people are not as upset as news anchors in the USA say that they are. In fact, almost 100% of the minority in Syria (Christians and Alawi’s) are supportive of President Al Assad, and most of the majority (Sunni’s) are as well. Now as much as anyone does not want to get politics and religion intertwined with one another, the fact of the matter is that they go hand in hand, so it is both as relevant as it is important. I grew up being a Christian Syrian, as I am a minority in America, I am still considered to be one in my own country. That sounds like a bad thing, and a lot of the time it is, however the main point is that the Syrian president is a part of the minority as well. Who better to run the country than someone who doesn’t only see the majority, but sees as well as understands the majority.

In 2007, Americas US general, as well as supreme allied general of NATO, General Wesley Clark said something that drew up a lot of attention in one of his speeches; “We’re going to take out seven countries in 5 years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran”- these words that he spoke are words that he overheard someone saying in the pentagon. (Chossudovsky) The deterioration of the Middle East has clearly been in the plan book for some time now, regardless of whom the leader is.

With the effort of outside countries as mentioned before, the country is separating. There has become much conflict between each religion and unfortunately that is the exact weakness that Israel desires. They want Syria to fall apart with the accordance of its religious structure. Their goal is to separate Syria into different sections containing Shia and Alawi, multiple Sunni sections as this is the majority, and even Druze, notice that there is no place for Christianity here. This will guarantee “peace” and “security,” however certainly not for Syria, but for Israel. (Colbert Report). In doing this, they get all the religions of Syria, brothers and sisters and neighbors to fight against one another; divide and conquer.

There is a link between Lebanon, Iran and Syria. This link is made up Shia and Shia Alawi’s. Because the president, Bashar Al Assad is of the minority, he makes the ruling leaders majority part of this Shia link. If Israel succeeds in breaking Syria down and getting a Sunni president to reign, not only will it destroy all the minority religions in Syria, but also it will break the strong bridge that these three countries are standing on, which would not only destabilize Syria, but also farther destabilize Iran and even Lebanon. There is a lot of evidence to the uprising being started by people who are not actually Syrian, and there are even more reasons as to why Israel and America would want to do this. If the American government would quit lying and hiding the truth about what is going on, maybe people could actually see the truth or at least be able to make choices of their own instead of being forced into their opinions. Instead of being forced into thinking Syrians, into thinking that I, am a terrible person. The manipulation of the United States and Israel continues to triumph.

A military theorist and former Naval War College consultant Thomas P.M. Barnett proposed a thesis which soon after became the Pentagons new War Map; the thesis states that the primary division in the world today is between two sets of countries that he calls the Core and the Gap. The Core consists of advanced countries that play by the rules and are committed to globalization, which are regions such as Europe, North America, and Japan, plus countries that are committed to getting there: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and some others. The Gap is everyone else: a collection of disconnected, lawless, and dangerous countries such as Colombia, Pakistan, and North Korea, plus most of the Middle East and Africa (Wolfe). The Core is made up of those prosperous sovereign states, which have become integrated into a globalized economy. These countries typically feature a recognized government capable of enforcing the rule of law, which leaves the nations in the Gap to be typically either in a state of anarchy while factions struggle for control or under an oppressive government practicing strict cultural and economic isolationism. It is at the intersection of these two geographical regions where one should expect to see future conflicts (Wolfe). This is, of course, all decided by the United States who just decided it was their choice and call whether or not they approve of the way certain countries are being ran, regardless of how its civilians feels.

In his thesis, Barnett warns that in order for the Core to be safe, the Gap must be eliminated. He states that people who reside in the Core simply cannot live happily enjoying prosperity knowing about the problems going on in the Gap. Now why should this matter if each country and region is minding their business and going about their day-to-day lives? To each his own. Ever since World War II the American military action has confirmed all of this thesis in regards to the Gap; which only means from now and on over the next few decades the United States’ main task will be to shrink the Gap as much as they can and ultimately convert the entire world to the values of the Core.

There is an unspoken notion that America has the power to be correct under any given situation, even when their opinion is unsolicited. America continues to intervene when maybe that energy would be better off aimed towards fixing its own problems. What is it that makes Americas rendering on judgments acceptable? America has its own image for restarting the image of globalization after WWII and aims for “global connectivity” however who is to say that is not their way of convincing American citizens that their way is the right way as they tend to do in all situations.

America lit a spark in Syria and fused it with gasoline. If the Syrian citizens were upset with the way their ruler was ruling they would have spoken up themselves without interference from the USA. The United States claims to care about the well-being and freedom of the Syrians but they would not have intervened had it not benefited them. And they most certainly would not portray us as some uncivilized barbaric Neanderthals if that were so. America has already tried (and for the most part succeeded) to convince its citizens to support their invasions, the next step for them is to persuade the rest of the countries in the Core to take their side and help them in eliminating the Gap. And of course with that goes all the terrible people from the Gap, right?

Americas long-term plan to change the road map of the Middle East is all a part of the Pentagons War Map. They have already started their attempts to take over the Middle East and will be relentless in achieving a world with each and every country honoring the “core values” that the United States kindly pushes towards civilization. Because of this the Syrian uprising is more beneficial to America and is caused and influenced by the likes of the United States. Inevitably it results in people like me, being judged and hated on by people for no reason at all other than being born into the “wrong” family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judge Me, Judge Me Not

Judge Me, Judge Me Not

In early 2011, a conflict began in the beautiful historic country of Syria. Earlier that year there were many anti-government protests all across the Middle East and many think that the conflict in Syria is to be blamed on this and is the reaction of all the anti-government protests. The unemployment rate in this country, and Syria’s ruling dictator are all excuses for The United States encouraging wrath. Bashar Al Assad, president of Syria, took power of the country in 1970 and has ruled a lovely and civil country. Bashar Al Assad is a true Arab leader; he brought change to Syria, and transformed the country into a modern state from his father’s ways of ruling. He is well educated and 97% of the population even voted for him. (BIO True Story). So then, why all the sudden attention at the dictatorship in Syria, if it is not influenced by all the uprisings in the rest of the Arab countries, what could have mysteriously happened to spark so much heat? People can be easy be to judge when they are looking in from the outside, but what they fail to see is how the people in the conflict of choice are feeling, is it not those who matter in the end? I continuously feel the heat from outsiders, many even from people in the same region only other countries, and what they inevitably fail to see and care about is that it should be no ones choice but the people whom of which are actually effected that have any say in how their country is run. I feel this judgment in multiple way every day, and this quite sudden wrath and judgment on my country and myself makes me feel like I have failed in some way.

 

Many presidents make a tremendous amount of promises before their reign and at the beginning of it, but the presidents who actually pull through with what they say are the ones who make a difference. As Al Assad said he wanted Syria to become more modernized, his word was achieved by 2001, with “cell phones, satellite television, trendy restaurants and Internet cafes” (BIO True Story), Syria was certainly showing signs of becoming a modern society. A country housing 17 million people needed to bring all of its occupants into the 21st century, and that is exactly what Dr. Bashar Al Assad achieved. I always find a tremendous amount of humor when I see Syria on American news and tv, as it as portrayed as such a third world country. While it may be considered third world, what people fail to see is the life and societal similarities as it holds with such a modern country as America.

It is no coincidence that the rest of the world, specifically the United States and Israel, is more riled up about the dictatorship than Syria itself. This is because Syrian people are not as upset as news anchors in the USA say that they are. In fact, almost 100% of the minority in Syria (Christians and Alawi’s) are supportive of President Al Assad, and most of the majority (Sunni’s) are as well. Now as much as anyone does not want to get politics and religion intertwined with one another, the fact of the matter is that they go hand in hand, so it is both as relevant as it is important. I grew up being a Christian Syrian, as I am a minority in America, I am still considered to be one in my own country. That sounds like a bad thing, and a lot of the time it is, however the main point is that the Syrian president is a part of the minority as well. Who better to run the country than someone who doesn’t only see the majority, but sees as well as understands the majority.

In 2007, Americas US general, as well as supreme allied general of NATO, General Wesley Clark said something that drew up a lot of attention in one of his speeches; “We’re going to take out seven countries in 5 years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran”- these words that he spoke are words that he overheard someone saying in the pentagon. (Chossudovsky) The deterioration of the Middle East has clearly been in the plan book for some time now, regardless of whom the leader is.

With the effort of outside countries as mentioned before, the country is separating. There has become much conflict between each religion and unfortunately that is the exact weakness that Israel desires. They want Syria to fall apart with the accordance of its religious structure. Their goal is to separate Syria into different sections containing Shia and Alawi, multiple Sunni sections as this is the majority, and even Druze, notice that there is no place for Christianity here. This will guarantee “peace” and “security,” however certainly not for Syria, but for Israel. (Colbert Report). In doing this, they get all the religions of Syria, brothers and sisters and neighbors to fight against one another; divide and conquer.

There is a link between Lebanon, Iran and Syria. This link is made up Shia and Shia Alawi’s. Because the president, Bashar Al Assad is of the minority, he makes the ruling leaders majority part of this Shia link. If Israel succeeds in breaking Syria down and getting a Sunni president to reign, not only will it destroy all the minority religions in Syria, but also it will break the strong bridge that these three countries are standing on, which would not only destabilize Syria, but also farther destabilize Iran and even Lebanon. There is a lot of evidence to the uprising being started by people who are not actually Syrian, and there are even more reasons as to why Israel and America would want to do this. If the American government would quit lying and hiding the truth about what is going on, maybe people could actually see the truth or at least be able to make choices of their own instead of being forced into their opinions. Instead of being forced into thinking Syrians, into thinking that I, am a terrible person. The manipulation of the United States and Israel continues to triumph.

A military theorist and former Naval War College consultant Thomas P.M. Barnett proposed a thesis which soon after became the Pentagons new War Map; the thesis states that the primary division in the world today is between two sets of countries that he calls the Core and the Gap. The Core consists of advanced countries that play by the rules and are committed to globalization, which are regions such as Europe, North America, and Japan, plus countries that are committed to getting there: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and some others. The Gap is everyone else: a collection of disconnected, lawless, and dangerous countries such as Colombia, Pakistan, and North Korea, plus most of the Middle East and Africa (Wolfe). The Core is made up of those prosperous sovereign states, which have become integrated into a globalized economy. These countries typically feature a recognized government capable of enforcing the rule of law, which leaves the nations in the Gap to be typically either in a state of anarchy while factions struggle for control or under an oppressive government practicing strict cultural and economic isolationism. It is at the intersection of these two geographical regions where one should expect to see future conflicts (Wolfe). This is, of course, all decided by the United States who just decided it was their choice and call whether or not they approve of the way certain countries are being ran, regardless of how its civilians feels.

In his thesis, Barnett warns that in order for the Core to be safe, the Gap must be eliminated. He states that people who reside in the Core simply cannot live happily enjoying prosperity knowing about the problems going on in the Gap. Now why should this matter if each country and region is minding their business and going about their day-to-day lives? To each his own. Ever since World War II the American military action has confirmed all of this thesis in regards to the Gap; which only means from now and on over the next few decades the United States’ main task will be to shrink the Gap as much as they can and ultimately convert the entire world to the values of the Core.

There is an unspoken notion that America has the power to be correct under any given situation, even when their opinion is unsolicited. America continues to intervene when maybe that energy would be better off aimed towards fixing its own problems. What is it that makes Americas rendering on judgments acceptable? America has its own image for restarting the image of globalization after WWII and aims for “global connectivity” however who is to say that is not their way of convincing American citizens that their way is the right way as they tend to do in all situations.

America lit a spark in Syria and fused it with gasoline. If the Syrian citizens were upset with the way their ruler was ruling they would have spoken up themselves without interference from the USA. The United States claims to care about the well-being and freedom of the Syrians but they would not have intervened had it not benefited them. And they most certainly would not portray us as some uncivilized barbaric Neanderthals if that were so. America has already tried (and for the most part succeeded) to convince its citizens to support their invasions, the next step for them is to persuade the rest of the countries in the Core to take their side and help them in eliminating the Gap. And of course with that goes all the terrible people from the Gap, right?

Americas long-term plan to change the road map of the Middle East is all a part of the Pentagons War Map. They have already started their attempts to take over the Middle East and will be relentless in achieving a world with each and every country honoring the “core values” that the United States kindly pushes towards civilization. Because of this the Syrian uprising is more beneficial to America and is caused and influenced by the likes of the United States. Inevitably it results in people like me, being judged and hated on by people for no reason at all other than being born into the “wrong” family.