The Blonde Woman in Popular Culture

My research was focused on how blondes are portrayed in popular culture, but I specifically looked at movies. In order to research this topic I chose to watch three films. The first film was House Bunny starring Anna Faris. The second film was Legally Blonde with Reese Witherspoon. The last movie was Gentlemen Prefer Blondes starring Marilyn Monroe. I decided on these three movie because it gave me some variety in time periods. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was filmed in 1953, while the other two were filmed in the 2000’s, but 8 years apart. I found that in popular media, blonde haired women are continuously shown as oversexualized and unintelligent.

House Bunny is the most recent film out of the three. Anna Faris’ Character Shelley is a well-known playboy bunny. The movie starts out very sexual already with her life in the playboy mansion with many other beautiful women. Throughout the movie it seems that the only clothing that Shelley owns look like clothes that would fit on a Barbie doll. From the very beginning Shelley is obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed. In fact, the cover of the movie says it all. A close-up of her perfect face, but she looks vacuous and confused.


Throughout the plot of the movie, Shelley finds herself the new sorority mother of the ‘weird’ girls on campus. Though she remains the same airheaded beauty throughout the film, she is looked to by the girls for advice on how to get attention from men. Shelley is the classic example of a highly sexualized blonde bimbo.

A female critic, Ruth Hessey, wrote a review on the film. While pretty harsh, her review, in my opinion, is fair. She writes, “It takes sexism to a new low, and it manages to attack women in the last place on earth where they continue to outperform men — in universities.” She goes on to pull a couple things out from the movie to write about specifically. One being when Shelley stated that men don’t like girls who are too smart. It’s obvious the movie is trying to be ironic, but this critic didn’t find too much humor in it. She was disappointed in the writers of this movie, who were also the writers for Legally Blonde, and are both women. She even went as far to write, “..this film may as well have been cooked up by the Taliban as far as I’m concerned.” While this is a bit extreme, I am also disappointed in the writers. The two women who wrote these movies used their power propel the stereotype of blonde women even further, and do even more damage to women in general.

This movie tells an audience that all women care about is trying to get men. Also, that women should care primarily about how they are outwardly perceived. Even more so, that blonde women are the epitome of all of this. Throughout the film the girls are taking advice and getting makeovers to get boys to like them. These makeovers and advice all come from the sexy blonde one, Shelley. Before the girls get their makeovers they all look depressed and the house looks plain and dirty. After, they are happier and the house is a more pleasant place to be. This gives us the idea that women need to be pretty and wanted by men to be happy.

My next film, Legally Blonde, portrays their blonde character slightly different. The fact that this movie did reference the stereotype surprised me. A couple times. Elle was well aware that she was being underestimated because of her looks, blonde hair being the major player there. And while she struggled throughout the movie on proving her intelligence, she did at the end. Kind of.. She won a case because of her extensive knowledge on beauty routines. Which was a win for her, and was portrayed as a positive thing, but didn’t really convince me she was actually smart enough to be going to Harvard. And if Elle had not stumbled upon the error in her witness’ story, due to her knowledge of hair-care, she would have not succeeded. Like the last movie, this movie also has a cover that I’d like to point out.


This cover is definitely less obvious than the last, but this one still has components that catch my attention. Besides the obvious use of photoshop here, the main one that captures my attention is that Elle Woods is head to toe in pink. The classic girly-girl color. Not only is she in all pink, but she also has a stereotypical, tiny dog that is also dressed in pink. The last component that catches my eye is the background. The people in it are the ‘smart’ones that go to Harvard and Judge Elle based on her looks. In this film, the difference in the appearance and wardrobe of Elle compared to the rest of the law students is heavily exaggerated. While Elle is constantly in designer clothes and has her hair perfectly primped everywhere she goes, her Harvard colleagues dress in plaid and neutral colors. All the while these colleagues shame and underestimate her, specifically.

While this film may come off as a movie about a ‘smart’ blonde, at the very root, Elle Woods is just another ditzy blonde who attracts attention with her looks. In my research I found a review of the movie Legally Blonde from an author that hosts his own website and has many other movie reviews as well. From my brief research, the author, Roger Ebert, seemed pretty prestigious in the critic world. Throughout this review he praises the film. He calls the film “a featherweight comedy balanced between silliness and charm.” He briefly addresses the dumb blonde stereotype when he writes, “Despite the title and the implications in the ads, this is a movie about smart blonds, not dumb ones..” He goes on to commend the character for winning the murder trial through her extensive knowledge of hair care. On the surface of this film it does seem as though Elle Woods was over-coming the stereotype by going to school. Now if this man was a blonde woman watching this movie more critically, like me, perhaps he would’ve noted the extremely exaggerated girly-ness of Elle woods, in addition to her over-sexualization, and the fact that she really wasn’t that smart in this movie. The board of admissions for Harvard was persuaded to accept her, even though she was not qualified, after they watched her admissions video, which was her in a bikini. Watching her try to question a witness was painful as she had no idea what she was doing. While this movie differs slightly in the way that Elle is portrayed, that sexy dumb blonde is still there.

Elle’s experience reminded me of some of my own experiences throughout school. While I can contribute most of the experiences I’ve had to being a woman, like the objectification and perceived inferiority, the experiences I’ve had in this field remained mostly in my younger years. Throughout middle school and high school people loved to bring up this stereotype! I was literally called the ‘dumb blonde of the group’ with my middle school friends. At the time it didn’t bother me too much, but as it continued through high school I grew to hate it. To me, it isn’t cool to be stupid and it isn’t ‘cute’ to be an air-head. But I do still hear jokes about it because I work at Starbucks and we have a roast of coffee that is light, it’s called a ‘blonde roast’. You all wouldn’t believe the jokes I get when people ask for ‘a tall blonde’. As I am also pretty tall. It really is painful for me to fake laugh at the trivial joke every time. Much like it is difficult for me to find these air-headed characters charming.

My third movie, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, stars the very famous Marilyn Monroe along with Jane Russel. Jane’s character comes off as strong and witty, often rolling her eyes, with a sexy deep voice. Marilyn’s character is portrayed as money loving. Throughout the movie Jane’s character makes witty joke at the expense of Marilyn’s character, usually without backlash or any sort of acknowledgment from Marilyn. This seems to be because Marilyn does not understand that she is being made fun of, it just goes over her head. While both women are highly sexualized in this film, Marilyn’s character is the only one that comes across as ditzy and immature. Not to mention the title alone speaks wonders.

Throughout my research on this film, I learned that there was first a book written by Anita Loos in 1925. I learned this from an article written by Cristen Conger, on the blog, “Stuff Mom Never Told You”. This brought on the popular term ‘dumb blonde’. The part that interested me the most about this book, is that there is a sequel that was not made into a movie. The second book was titled, “But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes”. This detail shocked me because it seems so cruel on both ends. So blondes get the preference, but not the ring. Brunettes get the ring, but aren’t as preferred as a blonde. It’s pretty harsh really.

One of the details that interested me was how Marilyn’s character came off as immature. The wide-eyed, naïve girl can be more simply put as immature. Especially with the addition of how much she loves money and material possessions. I also found the physical differences between the two characters to be interesting. While Marilyn is blonde, she is also very air-headed and her voice is much higher. Jane’s character had a darker look. Her hair was much darker and her overall appearance just came across as darker. But the most interesting part to me was her voice. Her voice, while talking and singing, was much deeper. While remaining sexy, this gave her a more mature persona.


I also wanted to share an interesting side note about what I found in the results of my google search “Dumb blonde stereotype research”. I came across many papers that were scientific ‘disproving’ the stereotype that blondes are less intelligent. Many papers that explained that hair color has no effect on one’s intelligence. This blew my mind! I had no idea this stereotype was taken so seriously or that people thought this was real. Maybe because I am blonde, but I can’t believe people actually think that hair color affects intelligence level. But, it would be consistent with the way many other stereotypes are perceived that causes people to be believe other races or gender are ‘inferior’.

Underestimated abilities and exaggerated sexuality have been a common theme for blonde women throughout many years in popular culture. As long as movies have been produced, the ‘dumb blonde’ has been a popular character, though they are not always the main character. My research has lead me to the conclusion that our beloved sexy blonde bimbo will not be leaving our screens anytime soon.

As for my two significant learning moments, my first was in the first week of the course. I thoroughly enjoyed “The Evolution of the Doltish Dad” article. Aside from enjoying reading the article, I was completely shocked at this stereotype/depiction I was not aware of. Throughout my education I have learned a lot of about stereotypes and negative depictions of other races and females, but never one like this.  This was a great article to remind us that harmful stereotypes can be about anyone, even white males. My second significant learning moment was in week six when we did the revision workshop. I read about the reverse outline and transitions and I was shocked these weren’t techniques I had learned in writing courses. Both of these strategies really helped me with my writing and I’m sure I won’t soon forget them.

Work Cited

Ebert, Roger. “Legally Blonde Movie Review & Film Summary.” N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Aug. 2015.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes [Motion picture]. (1953). 20th Century Fox Film Corp.

The House Bunny [Motion picture]. (2008). Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Hessey, Ruth. “The House Bunny.” Radio National. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Aug. 2015.

“History’s Original Dumb Blonde.” Stuff Mom Never Told You. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Aug. 2015.

Legally blonde [Motion picture]. (2001). MGM Home Entertainment.







We both have one knee. Can I get down on mine as well?

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 4.42.22 PM

myself in 2008, and myself in 2015.

In 2008, I was 13. It was middle school, and we were required to begin studying a second language. Being the “take the easy road” girl that I was, the rumor was Latin was the easiest to get an A in. So I took it. It was there my feelings for boys developed; they began to turn from innocence into desire. In the class, our teacher made us read the story of Cupid and Psyche. Cupid, the son of the goddess of love, was sent down from his mother Aphrodite to make the beautiful Psyche fall in love with a horrendous creature. Aphrodite was jealous of Psyche, due to the rumor that this mortal Psyche was more beautiful than Aphrodite. Cupid had the ability to fling his arrow at anyone and make them fall in love with whomever he chooses. The story varies, but Cupid took another path. Some say he fell in love with her beauty at first sight, others say his own arrow struck him. Nevertheless, he fell in love with her, and soon began their love affair.

Cupid always hid from her, staying the in the darkness and never letting her see who he truly was; a god. He had convinced her marry him and stay in his palace with him, filled with endless riches that Psyche could not ignore. However, when they met at night, she could never see his face but could feel his physique, and ultimately fell right back in love with him. One curious night, she decided she could no longer go without seeing her husband’s face. As she held the candle over his face, discovering his identity as Cupid, a drip of wax fell onto his body and he awoke, fleeing from her, dismayed from her lack of trust.

Psyche was heartbroken. She set herself off on a long journey, always searching for him for many years. She came across his mother and in desperation for her love, begged for him. Aphrodite made her go on treacherous journeys, including a trip into the underworld, which most mortals didn’t make it out of. Because of her passion and strength of love for Cupid, she prevailed. Cupid eventually found out about her journeys and realized that she truly did love him, ultimately ending up together.

psyche cupid and psyche

The story varies, since it’s ancient and has been passed down for centuries. Different cultures have different takes. I remember the story as a mortal woman fighting through difficult obstacles just to prove her love. It had an impact on me, enlightening me on the idea that a woman can be the one to fight for the person she loves, versus the popular view of the opposite. In popular culture, men tend to be the ones making a grand gesture, but lately it’s been changing, despite being a very old-fashioned idea. Some the recent films, such as Fever Pitch (2005), Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and Trainwreck (2015) all include female leads that create either grand gestures or scenarios to prove the strength of love for their men, supporting the notion that women can be equally as romantic.

fever pitch

Lead characters Lindsay Meeks and Ben Wrightman, played by Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon, respectively.

In Fever Pitch, the lead character (played by Drew Barrymore) is a successful workaholic executive named Lindsay Meeks. Her love interest, (played by Jimmy Fallon) is a schoolteacher named Ben Wrightman. The story unfolds as this powerful, successful woman falls in love with a great guy with an immature attachment to the Boston Red Sox. The film shows how sweet Ben is, despite the humorous immaturity he has when it comes to anything about the Red Sox. Lindsay acknowledges the sweetness, but starts to lose interest once it severely interferes with how Ben places Lindsay when it came to importance. She ends the relationship over it, and both fall into the typical romantic-comedy depression break-up. (Every romantic-comedy has it).

However, at the end of the film, she discovers that Ben may be giving up his Red Sox tickets due to his loss of love for them. Lindsay understands the importance to him, and runs across the field in the middle of a playoff game just to stop him from handing the tickets over. It’s a comical scene, with security officers chasing her and bumping into one another. When she reaches him, she explains how she knows how much the Red Sox mean to him and persuades him not to sell it because she loves him too much to let him do that.

The entire film shows Lindsay as a serious woman who falls in love with Ben due to his personality being so different from hers. In the end, she creates this grand gesture to prove to the audience that she changed, and also showing that women can be the ones to prove their love to a man.


Lead characters Tiffany Maxwell and Pat Solitano, played by Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper

Silver Linings Playbook was highly viewed as one of the best films of 2012. The lead actress, Jennifer Lawrence, received an Oscar for her performance as Tiffany Maxwell, a young, neurotic widow. Maxwell meets and falls in love with Pat Solitano (played by Bradley Cooper), and throughout the film share an interesting dynamic of love due to both having mental illnesses. The film gives the audience hints of Tiffany’s love for Pat, including her showing up surprisingly on his runs, the way she looks and him when they dance, and how upset she gets when she hears about his ex-wife.

Throughout the film, Pat is desperately trying to reach out to his ex-wife, craving a deep love connection. At one point, he asks Tiffany to deliver a letter he wrote to his ex-wife, and Tiffany obliges. She gives him back a letter he thinks his ex-wife has written, only to later find out that Tiffany was the one who wrote the letter. This is her grand gesture, but it’s small and goes unnoticed. She is proving her love to him by not hurting his feelings, knowing that his ex-wife did not want to hear from him at all. So, she faked the letter, but by writing it in a way where the ex-wife was kind but clear that she did not want to see him. Pat realizes this, realizes that he too is in love with Tiffany and kisses her after she runs off from seeing him speaking to his ex-wife.

Although the gesture is small and goes unnoticed due the final scene being Pat running after Tiffany, it was her persistence that made him realize the truth. This shows that the gesture doesn’t need to be grand, but can still be given by a female.


Lead characters Aaron and Amy, played by Bill Hader and Amy Schumer respectively.

Trainwreck was released this July, opening to rave reviews and applause to comedian Amy Schumer’s writing and acting. The story of Trainwreck is loosely based on Schumer’s life, with the title character of Amy being a successful, independent writer who doesn’t believe in monogamy. After an interview for the magazine she works for, she meets Aaron Conners, a sports doctor she ultimately falls in love with. He convinces her to be in a relationship, and throughout the film he is dedicated and supportive of her. After a fight, they break up and both go through the depression of loss. (like I said, typical romantic-comedy).

Due to this movie being very new, there is no clip of the ending scene that I describe below. However, I found the clip where Aaron convinces Amy to be together.

In the final scene, Amy set up the New York Knicks dancers to choreograph a number for Aaron after a Knicks game. It’s absolutely hilarious, but goes to show her strength of affection for him. This is her grand gesture, because despite how she felt most of her life, she loved him and did something spectacular to prove her faithfulness.


In popular films, such as The Notebook, it has become an idea that men are the ones who make the grand gestures.

Female leads in film are becoming more of the romantics, and so are females in our society today. Although it’s an idea that goes centuries back, men are still perceived as the ones making the grand gestures, providing all of the romance. These films reject that idea, and all are recent within these past 10 years, proving that an old-fashioned perspective can be changed within popular culture and time. In the article “The Psychology Behind Love and Romance”, the author Darice Britt describes love as a two people who are partners, and not one leader and one follower. That’s how romance is, she claims and it’s not just one romantic person and the other is not. So perhaps, it’s not that women can be just as romantic as men. Chances are, in a working, loving relationship, both people are equally as romantic to one another.

Perhaps in Popular Culture, it’s not that women are becoming more of the romantics. With this analysis, dating back to ancient Greek tales, women were always romantic. Although many films show the men as the “romantic” ones, women are becoming more prominent. Romantics are dreamers, they’re artistic and poetic. They are not a gender. So perhaps I too, can get down one knee as well.

Works Cited

Britt, Darice. “The Psychology Behind Love and Romance.” South University, May 2013. Web. 13 Aug. 2015. <;.

Fever Pitch. Dir. The Farelly Brothers. Perf. Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon. 20th Century Fox, 2005. DVD.

Gill, N.S. “Myths and Legends – The Tale of Cupid and Psyche.” About Education., n.d. Web. 30 July 2015. <;.

Silver Linings Playbook. Dir. David O. Russell. Perf. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. The Weinstein Company, 2012. DVD.

Trainwreck. Dir. Judd Apatow. Perf. Amy Schumer and Bill Hader. Universal, 2015. Film.


Shrinking the Persona of the Shrink



Images of psychotherapists in popular media span a vast range of archetypes, some are cold and clinical, others are compassionate or wise, or even evil, depending on the needs of the larger story. These characters can be hapless buffoons or destructive mad scientists, but in truth their main purpose in a story is almost always to support the character development of others.

It is difficult to pinpoint a consistent stereotypical psychotherapist in popular media, but we can identify a few common themes. These themes show up as polarizations within the characters. The most common division I see is the polarity of the cold, clinical psychoanalyst and the warm, friendly and supportive therapist. We can see an example of the clinical type in the prison psychiatrist, Dr. Silberman, in The Terminator movies. In The Terminator series, the protagonist in this story, Sarah Connor, is the mother of a future military leader who is destined to play a key part in a battle between humanity and an army of robots equipped with artificial intelligence that have turned on their creators and attempt to exterminate humanity. Sarah is made aware of her special role by a soldier in her son’s army who has travelled back in time to protect her from a robotic Terminator (also from the future) sent back to kill her. As a result, Sarah has embarked on a personal mission to prepare her son, John, for his destiny, while also doing anything she can to avert the coming battle. Her attempt to destroy the company that will ultimately develop the deadly robotic technology lands her in a maximum security mental asylum. Dr. Silberman is cynical and dismissive of her story, although he thinks it is creative enough to warrant a book, which would advance his career. A letter appearing in The Psychiatrist discusses the negative view of psychiatry offered in the movie Terminator 2 – Judgement Day, also pointing out how the Terminator robot itself embodies the qualities of coldness and lack of understanding of emotional processes (Sheldon, L. 1992). I feel that Dr. Silberman is also made to represent the force of doubt. His doubt in Sarah’s story echoes the people in our lives who doubt our dreams…the voices of reason that keep us trapped in the mundane expectations of the world. Like Dr. Silberman however, these voices of doubt speak not out of concern for us, but rather out of self-interest. People around us benefit when we ignore our sense of destiny (or at least they think they do), and will generally do everything in their power to hold us down if our ambitions take us to a place that is unfamiliar and frightening to them.

Contrast this cold, clinical stereotype with the character of Dr. Maguire in the movie Good Will Hunting. In this story Will, a Boston laborer who is also an unrecognized genius, works as a janitor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and anonymously solves a difficult mathematics problem posted on a public chalkboard. Eventually he is discovered by a professor at the Institute, but Will is also in trouble with the law and does not appear to be moving his life in a positive direction. The professor arranges for his release from jail and sends him to a psychotherapist named Dr. Maguire, who is eventually able to open up the highly sarcastic and defensive Will by revealing some of the demons of the Doctor’s own past. Prior to meeting Dr. Maguire, Will has managed to offend and frustrate several therapists, sabotage several job interviews arranged by the professor, as well as a promising romantic relationship. Dr. Maguire helps Will discover what is important to him, and find to the courage to pursue the relationship he was pushing away. Where Dr. Silberman is continually thwarting Sarah Connor’s efforts at self-actualization (once promising to have her transferred to a minimum security facility if she behaves, then reneging on the promise), Dr. Maguire is continually leading Will into more empowerment until eventually Will is able to leave both his blue collar friends and the professor behind in order to make his own way in life.


Good Will Hunting: Dr Maguire and Will

Another contrast could be found in the competence of the two doctors. Where Dr. Silberman is bureaucratic, small-minded, focused on personal career ambition and unable to grasp his patient’s reality, Dr. Maguire is wise, compassionate, rich with life experience and willing to walk the same journey as his patients. It is interesting to note that the cold, clinical approach to psychiatry was the hallmark of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, whereas the warm and emotionally supportive method was developed much more recently by Carl Rogers who founded the much more popular school of humanistic psychology.


Having learned in class to determine the intended audience of a work, I can see how Dr. Silberman speaks to an audience distrustful of psychotherapists and the clinical, Freudian approach in general, whereas Dr. Maguire is speaking to the part of the audience still open to receiving help, an audience that still has hope for the humanity of the psychiatric profession.

Another polarity seen in popular images of psychologists touches on the issue of morality. In the television series The Sopranos, mafia boss Tony Soprano begins seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi. Dr. Melfi is in many ways a more realistic portrayal of a typical psychotherapist than any I have discussed so far. She is continually concerned about the ethical lines she might cross in her relationship with Soprano, often turning to a colleague for advice and perspective, and agonizing over the small breaches of ethical protocol she inevitably finds herself committing. In contrast to this, we find Dr. Vogel in the Showtime series Dexter. Dexter (the title character) is a psychopath who works as a forensic expert for the Miami police department. He relieves his compulsion to kill by following “The Code” handed down to him by his father, who was a police officer. The Code requires Dexter to only kill other serial killers who have escaped justice and will clearly kill again, thus making his condition serve the public good. In the final season we meet a psychiatrist named Dr. Evelyn Vogel. We then learn that Dr. Vogel was approached by Dexter’s father when Dexter’s psychopathy began to manifest as a child, and that it was Dr. Vogel who created “The Code”.

Dexter Vogel

Dexter: Dr Vogel and Dexter

Dr. Vogel is decisive, confident and willing to gamble with not only the mental health, but the very lives of others, in order to manifest her vision. We see in Dr. Vogel not a therapist, but rather a sort of psychiatric mad scientist. It speaks to a very cynical view of the Psychiatric profession.

In class I was taught to identify the purpose of a media presentation, and I think the purpose of Dr. Vogel’s character is to highlight the moral dilemma that Dexter embodies by showing his creator, a cold, but still sympathetic character who pays the ultimate price for her gamble in the end as she is murdered by one of her patients. Dr. Vogel jolts us out of an assumption that psychologists and psychiatrists follow a strict code of ethics, and in this case it is revealed that Dr. Vogel has thrown away her own code of conduct in order to give one to Dexter. There is compelling justification given for this course of action however: Dexter is a psychopath, and there was little hope of actually curing him, so given the choice of either committing him to a life of institutionalization or allowing him to kill until he was stopped by the police, Dr. Vogel chose a third option; to channel his condition in a way that served the public good by programming him to kill only other killers. This decision by itself will divide an audience, as some will favor the effectiveness and efficacy of vigilante justice where others will be appalled. To increase the tension even more, we have a long history with Dexter by this point in the series, and know him to be basically kind, likeable and well-intentioned. This clouds our vision and makes us forget that he has also mistakenly killed the wrong man once, and innocents have died in order to protect his secret. We also overlook that he has repeatedly sabotaged police investigations in order to prevent killers from being apprehended so that he could take their lives himself.

That such ethically problematic practices exist in the profession is certainly true, as in the case of psychiatrists assisting in the design of torture interrogation techniques in the Abu Ghraib prison camps holding suspected Iraqi terrorists (Clark 2006), but the greater truth is that psychotherapists receive extensive training in ethics and codes of conduct before they are licensed.

A variation of this analysis is presented by Ronald Pies in his article Psychiatry in the Media: The Vampire, The Fisher King, and the Zaddik where he cites three distinct archetypes embodied by psychotherapists in movies and television. The first archetype, the “Vampire”, corresponds to the evil mad scientist, pointing out that, for instance, the cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lector in the movie Silence of the Lambs was in fact, a psychiatrist, and that his ancestry is later traced back to “…Giuliano Bevisangue, a fearsome twelfth-century figure” pointing out that “The name Bevisangue may be understood as a condensation of the verb bevere (to drink) and sangue (blood)” (Pies, R. 2001).

The second archetype, the “Fisher King”, corresponds somewhat to the warm, supportive Doctor, but is also bound to the “wounded healer” archetype. Dr. Maguire in Good Will Hunting clearly fits this role, drawing on his own unresolved pain from the death of his wife in order to pull Will out of his cynicism and defensiveness, so that he will find the strength to take control of his life. Will eventually sees that neither the professor who wants to use him to further his academic career, nor his blue collar work/drinking buddies can show him what his future holds, and finally leaves town to pursue a relationship with a woman, and give himself a fresh start.

The third archetype, the “Zaddik”, is a reference to the Jewish mystical tradition. Pies says that “the Zaddik or ‘holy man’ mediates between heaven and earth, between God and man” and that he “helps his people break through the ‘blockage’ that ordinarily separates man from God.” In order to accomplish this however, the Zaddik must know and be touched by evil. This is an interesting image because it implies to me that the Zaddik/Psychotherapist must risk becoming a Vampire, but chose instead to become a Fisher King.

With these various and divergent stereotypes, it may seem that there is no common thread connecting the character of the typical psychologist, however if we step back and notice the role they all play in their respective storylines, a pattern begins to emerge. None of the therapists mentioned were main characters, yet they all played crucial parts in developing and revealing the depth of main characters. In private therapy sessions we are able to see into the thoughts and feelings of lead characters, hear about childhood experiences shaping their worldview, and witness their greatest weaknesses. A therapy session provides a tremendously useful setting for character development, and a therapist makes a wonderful foil for a character to emerge and gain definition. In Terminator 2 we see Sarah turn the tables on Dr. Silberman, using him as a hostage in her escape from the prison, wielding the hypodermic needle once used to inject her with antipsychotic meds, now filled with floor cleaner and resting on the good doctor’s neck. Now it is Sarah who will not release the Doctor.


Terminator 2: Dr Silberman and Sarah

In truth, I believe this function mirrors the real-world purpose of psychotherapy in many ways, as we often go into real-world therapy (whether we admit it to ourselves or not) in order to develop our own strength of character and overcome personal weaknesses. We enter therapy because we need better boundaries, or because we find ourselves swallowed up by the storms of life, or because we feel an emptiness or confusion about what we should be doing. In short, we enter therapy because we don’t know who we are, and in the stories of television and cinema we watch a character enter therapy so that we may learn who they are, in a focused and controlled way. I believe this is the proper role of psychotherapy in general – to “get out of the way” and allow a patient’s identity to emerge and achieve greater definition. If, as Aristotle intimated, “art imitates life” then I can see this principle playing out wonderfully in the use of psychotherapists in popular culture.




Clark, Peter A. “Medical ethics at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib: the problem of dual loyalty.” JL Med. & Ethics 34 (2006): 570.

Dexter. Creator James Manos Jr.  Showtime. 2006 – 2013. Television.

Good Will Hunting. Dir. Gus Van Sant. Perf. Robin Williams, Matt Damon. Miramax. 1997. Film

Pies, R. (2001). Psychiatry in the media: The vampire, the fisher king, and the zaddik. Journal of Mundane behavior2(1), 59-66.

Sheldon, L. (1992). Terminator 2—Judgement Day. The Psychiatrist16(5), 311-312.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Dir. James Cameron. Perf. Earl Boen, Linda Hamilton. 1991. Film


Transcending the Gamer stereotype in Popular Culture

Sergio Olmos-Zaragoza


Transcending the Gamer stereotype in Popular Culture

Fat, unhealthy, unhygienic, lacks of friends, recluse, hacker, bullied, male, and living in the basement of his parents are examples of how popular culture portrays gamers. However, most people do not realize that this is far from the truth. The gamer stereotype is a thing of the past. As I began my research, I soon realized that popular culture in one way or another had began to deviate from this stereotype of gamers in the last 20 years. Popular culture began to show that gamers are much more than the stereotype that we think of when we think of gamers.  


Lets start in the nineties with the movie “Hackers”, released in 1995 and it’s about a teenage computer genius, Dade, and his friends who are hackers and the events that unfold when one of the newer hackers hacks a computer and gains access to a computer file that contains information about stolen money.


Then the hackers are accused of  planting a program that would cause a disaster. The movie ends with the hackers clearing their names and actual people stealing money being sent to jail. Now lets jump into how gamers and hackers are connected. In the nineties, there really was no difference to how people thought of  gamers or hackers. They were one and the same back in the nineties and even still sometimes today with the older generations. The movie also tends to reinforce the connection between gamers and hackers as all of the hackers were mostly male teenagers. The movie also portrays hackers as a subculture that the mainstream culture disliked and thought that they were a danger to society. They were seen as criminals that had uncontrolled power through the use of their computers and one of the cops in the movie went as far as calling what they did as “commie bullshit”. All of these portrayals of the hackers fit in well with the gamer stereotype.


The Internet or the cyberworld, which can be seen in the above gif, was shown as a tron like world where the hackers could do anything they wanted to do. The cyberworld was almost like a mini-game that the hackers played while gliding through the cyberworld to gain access to other computer systems. The hackers were not fat, unhealthy, completely male, and everything that popular culture portrayed gamers/hackers as. They transcend all of the stereotypes and were a rebellious group of people that challenged the norms of everyday life to find their niche in the world. The leading female role, Kate or Acid Burn, played by Angelina Jolie, was one of the elite hackers of the group in New York and didn’t follow the norms of girls such as not knowing how to use a computer or play games as she had the highest score in one of the games in the movie.  “Looking for Gender: Gender Roles and Behaviors Among Online Gamers” also points out that 40 % of all gamers are female, showing that the females comprise almost half of all gamers are female and that the stereotype is losing its grip. The study also showed that female gamers were more dedicated to certain games such as MMOs; MMOs are shorthand for MMORPGs which means massive multiplayer online role playing game. It also shows that   females of Everquest 2 had an average playtime of “29.32 hours/week” compared to the average male with “25.03 hours/week”. This shows that the stereotype of gamers being male and playing longer than females is wrong with Kate being an example with her dedication to hacking and her elite status.  “Hackers” was a movie that did not conform to the gamer/hacker stereotypes in its entirety, but created complex characters with more to them just some male gamer in the basement playing games and browsing the cyberworld.



Now lets jump to 2012, when Rocket Jump Studios released the webseries “Video Game High School”. The series was originally released on Freddie Wong’s Youtube channel freddiew and funded through a kickstarter and then later added to other mediums such as Netflix.


The first season follows the character Brain known as BrainD and set in the near future where playing video games is the most competitive sport in the world. BrainD was a unknown FPS player on Field of Fire and gets admitted to Video Game High School an elite school for top video gamers by killing the Law, the most popular player from VGHS and the leader of the varsity team at VGHS on TV. The show is a classic underdog tale mixed in with video games, action, and comedy. This shows transcends the gamer stereotype by making everyone a gamer. Playing video games had become so ingrained into everyday life that it became the culture. The sport of video games became the most competitive sport in the world and the top players were considered celebrities. Gamers were no longer thought to be the fat, unhealthy, stereotype. They were praised by everyone in the world. Not only were video gamers being praised, but people who programed games and designed games also achieved similar status as gamers. Most people think that the idea of video games becoming such a huge sensation is something out of fairytale, but the real world is becoming more and more like “Video Game High School”. The games in the show may be a bit out there as video game graphics haven’t achieved anything close to the realism that VGHS has, but the concept of people making a career out of video games is something that we have seen in the real world. Pewdiepie is the most subscribed Youtube channel of all time and his yearly income is estimated to be in the millions. Pewdiepie’s channel consists of countless video game videos where he records video of himself playing games and overlaying it on top of the game footage. This shows that people in the real world can make a living out of playing video games. The competitive scene is also been increasing over the years. Games such as CS:GO, League of Legends,and Dota 2 are one of the most competitive esports right now, drawing in thousands of people to their streams and competitions. All this shows that “Video Game High School” portrays gamers in a better light by transcending the gamer stereotype of the past and creating new ways to think of gamers.

Overall, the gamer stereotype has been wrong for a long time and has been changing to create a better image of gamers as playing video games has become more and more popular. Female gamers comprise almost half of the gaming community, they don’t spend their time alone in the basement, and they are different like any other group.


Learning Moments

One learning moment I had was when we had to read the article about the doltish dad. It had never occurred to me that fathers could be the way that the article made them out to be. I read that most people in the  comments also agreed that the evolution of the doltish dad is new to them and that’s when I realized how much of the world we fail to perceive because there is just too much out there. I always like the feeling of learning something new and then applying it and with that article I started to think about other TV dads and trying to find out which dad they were. This class has truly opened new doors for me to explore and to learn new things.

Another learning moment I had was during week two and we were learning about advertising. One of the prompts asked about finding an advertising that was “effective and convincing” . I found several Thai commercials that were all about evoking an emotional response. The thing that I learned was how much different commercials are in Thailand than in the U.S. Those Thai commercials were pretty much a short movie with the company name that paid for it at the end with a couple of sentences to tie the commercial with the company. As amazed how much different they were. In the U.S. some commercials are much shorter and have the company brand, logos, and the name shot several times while the Thai commercials had one thing at the end.



Here’s some extra gifs I found amusing.







Works Cited

Hackers. Dir. Iain Softley. By Rafael Moreu. Perf. Jonny Lee Miller, Angelina Jolie, and Fisher

Stevens. MGM/UA Home Video, 1996.

Wong, Freddie, Matthew Arnold, and Brandon Laastch, dirs. Video Game High School. N.d.


Williams, Dmitri, Mia Consalvo, Scott Caplan, and Nick Yee. “Looking for Gender:

Gender Roles and Behaviors Among Online Gamers.” Journal of

Communication: 700-25. Print.

The Occultist in Popular Culture

The Occultist in Popular Culture

Over the past decade the portrayal of the occultist in popular culture has become increasing fashionable. With the popularity of television shows like Supernatural, the Harry Potter series of books and movies, and blockbuster movies like The Conjuring, consumers of mass culture have developed a fantastical image of what an occultist is and does. On the one hand, this image tells us that people who are into the supernatural, the occult, or metaphysics are out of touch with society or socially inept, generally weird and even psychologically unbalanced. On the other hand, these portrayals also encompass people who have fantastical lives full of daring, even scary adventures, and quite possibly possess supernatural powers of their own. This truth that gets lost in the drama or humor of popular images of occultists is that despite these characterizations, the guiding principle behind the occultist’s practice is spiritual progression.

By definition, the occult is esoteric, meaning hidden from view, secret, and specialized for certain people to learn and understand. As such, it is not surprising that popular culture portrayals would be loose in their interpretations of what it means to be an occultist. A common practice for an occultist is “magic”, or what many people would refer to as white magic. While most people who study the supernatural would define what magic is differently, an accepted definition is the use of rituals, language, symbols, and actions which exert power over natural and supernatural elements for the overall purpose of spiritual growth. Many of these practices look familiar such as meditation or somewhat less familiar like certain energetic healing practices or ritualized versions of prayer.

In the popular television show Supernatural we meet Sam and Dean Winchester, brothers who travel the United States hunting down and killing monsters and demons, negotiating and partnering with angels, and saving the masses from death and destruction from a variety of paranormal phenomena. These are hip, rock music loving guys who are good looking, witty, intelligent, and sometimes heroic. They are also tragic characters who sacrifice romantic satisfaction and family life to be the saviors of an unwitting populace.

Supernatural 2

From Left to Right: Dean and Sam Winchester

Although it often looks hopeless, Sam and Dean always seem to pull through achieving outrageous victories in a constant battle between good and evil. To help them in their quest, they are equipped with a super cool 1967 Chevy Impala filled with an arsenal of monster-fighting gear and a sidekick angel. They often work with others who are on the same path called “hunters” with whom they share their knowledge and experience. Make no mistake, these brothers pull off the impossible having even returned from death multiple times.

In reality, occultists are active in pursuing good and subduing evil within themselves and society, but a fancy car and guns that shoot bullets made of salt aren’t required. Instead, the occultist’s work is done through the pursuit of spiritual knowledge; studying either alone or in groups, and fighting the ego and its unhealthy tendencies toward such things as chemical addictions and unchecked anger. Additionally, there are rituals and ceremonies to heal the land after a violent event as well as energetic healing rites that can be performed on people to heal physical and emotional pain.

In a completely different context, spiritually-minded people are often seen as weirdos on the fringe of society gathered together in strange communes weaving flowers through their hair and meditating all day. In “How to be Ultra Spiritual”, JP Sears shines a light on a lot of hypocritical behavior within this community, but in a hilarious way. JP Sears is a well-known Life Coach who uses a lot of spiritual approaches when working with his clientele. When Sears created a Youtube series that parodied what it means to be spiritual, people loved it. Whether or not viewers identified themselves as spiritual wasn’t an issue, because almost everyone had at least met someone who conformed to the caricatures Sears created from stereotypical New Age behavior.

Ultra Spiritual

Courtesy of How to be Ultra Spiritual (funny) – with JP Sears

This set of videos served as a wake-up call for those who are striving for some form of enlightenment, to take an objective view and question their actions and sometimes pretentious attitudes. Certainly there are people in the metaphysical community who fit the “Ultra Spiritual” labels laid out in this series, which makes on-lookers sometimes dismiss their spiritually-minded peers, but there are many others who ardently struggle with meditation, self-reflection and other day-to-day metaphysical practices, all of which take on a more internal stance rather than a search for recognition from others. Parodies such as the one done by Sears are valuable as they serve to illustrate to the spiritual person ways in which they may have fallen into stereotypical external behaviors in favor of actually doing the work.

Next, we have the movie The Conjuring in which we meet a real-life pair of exorcists, Ed and Lorraine Warren, and document a true story from their past. This duo creates a completely different image of occultists from Supernatural or a Youtube parody as they really did live a unique, even bizarre, lifestyle. This married couple are devout Catholics (Ed passed away in 2006), who devoted their lives to educating people on removing and combating demons and ghosts. Lorraine is a powerful clairvoyant who would help Ed in the rites and practices of exorcisms and energetic clearings; the Warrens were even tapped to teach and lecture at universities and church gatherings in the sixties and seventies.


The 2013 film The Conjuring highlights just one of the Warren’s documented experiences, an example of one of the worst cases of demonic possession they ever witnessed. Ed and Lorraine also worked with the Lutz family from the famous story, The Amityville Horror which has been adapted into several movies over recent decades.


The Amithyville Horror House and Lorraine Warren

The Warrens are definitely unique in the world of occultists due to their tendency to be quite outspoken regarding their work. They are also normal, everyday sort of people outside of their work and public image. They had a typical family life raising their daughter Judy. In addition, they had many friends and were popular members of their community.


From Left to Right: Ed and Lorraine Warren

Outside of Lorraine’s psychic abilities, Ed and Lorraine never purported to have or work with any special powers. They worked closely with clergy from the Catholic Church and applied techniques used by the Vatican for centuries. Their tools were more typical items such as holy water, crucifixes, bibles and rosaries. Nevertheless, there is no doubt the Warrens delved into areas outside of the influence of the Catholic Church to learn some of the rites and incantations they employed, even if that meant that they obtained this information from books or more obscure and secretive societies. Also, the Warrens often used technology available to them at the time such as sound recording devices, EMF meters, and video and still-image cameras to document events while working. While they may have been documenting supernatural phenomena, there was nothing supernatural about their equipment.

Ed and Lorraine Warren, and their body of work, are valuable assets to the occult community. They did not water down their work, or what it meant, in order to gain approval from the masses. They knew that they were providing a valuable service to some of the most vulnerable in society, and had no shame or fear of using their tools and talents to this end. They did all of this within well-known and accepted faith, Roman Catholicism, proving that both worlds can work together. Furthermore, they worked through their own difficult emotional times in order to further their own spiritual progression as well as that of their family. The Warrens are an example of the occultist as a productive and upstanding member of society without losing their humility and spiritual compass.

All too often, the sensationalism that accompanies popular cultural representations of the occult feed a perception that any endeavor in this area is akin to Satan worship. This is addressed in Much Ado About Harry: Harry Potter and the Creation of a Moral Panic, by Danielle M. Soulliere. This paper supports the idea that people who are interested in metaphysics, magic, and the occult are often viewed as being nothing more than Satan worshippers who are intent upon the destruction of our society, starting with the children. Because of a lack of knowledge surrounding these concepts, fear seeps in and old ideas reemerge telling people that any foray into the occult leads to moral corruption and a rejection of God and religion.

This could not be any further from the truth, but when a moral panic ensues, there is little that can be done to bridge the gap between those who are panicked and the ones attempting to shed light on the real life and belief system of a metaphysician. There is a dichotomy here that needs to be addressed – If we say that there is darkness and evil in the world, then there necessarily must be a group of people with the education, tools, and willingness to combat it within themselves and humanity as a whole. When other people fall into fear and judgment regarding this work, it hinders the job at hand for those who are carrying it out.

Many people find popular culture portrayals of occultist fascinating and/or entertaining, but this is typically the case when anything appears to be secretive or forbidden. What is more important is what none of these characterizations adequately address, that is the spiritual journey of the occultist. This is the prime goal which a student of metaphysics and the occult is motivated to pursue. Sometimes this can look like a strange and archaic group ritual, but much more often it is simply a mundane session of meditation. However, the simpler and day-to-day aspects of any spiritual practice are rarely of interest for mass media because they are difficult to express, constantly changing, and do not inspire the shock and surprise that a demon hunter does.

Furthermore, all of these popular culture examples serve the larger purpose of spiritual progression by highlighting forms of “service” that working in these arenas of spirituality provide. This type of service can be to others through healing practices, education and brotherhood, or most importantly, turning the healing inward and focusing on individual purpose and progression.

Drama and humor can be cathartic, allowing for a much needed release of psychological, physical, and spiritual energy. Therefore, these popular culture representations of spirituality and the occult serve a valid purpose as long as viewers can keep perspective and remember that reality, and what we do with it, is much more important.


Finally, there have been two learning moments from this term that stick out for me as I defined my identity as an occultist. First, in the activity in which we were to list our identities for our groups to view and comment on, I realized that the identities that matter most to me are the ones that also “push the envelope” and bring up some apprehension or shame for me. I came to see that how popular culture portrayed my identity as an occultist had helped shape these feelings. By accepting the role that these characterizations have toward creating a common understanding and viewing them from a perspective of educational entertainment I become less concerned with how stereotypes might be perpetuated and more appreciative of the accuracy in others. It opens up important conversations.

My second learning moment came during the reading of, “The Urgency of Visual Media in our Post 9/11 World”. What was so striking to me was how much imagery can affect our thoughts and how subtly manipulating it can be. Since popular culture is so heavily visual, the images presented can have an almost instant ability to turn an image into something positive or negative. As in the example of the pentagram, a common occult symbol, many feelings are evoked when it is seen. This drives home the message that it is an extraordinary responsibility in media to use this, and other symbols, in an accurate manner as they have tremendous impact on viewers’ thoughts and feelings.



The Conjuring. Dir. James Wan. Perf. Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga. Warner Brothers, 2013. Film. 

Sears, JP. “How to be Ultra Spiritual”. Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 5 Oct. 2014. 

Soulliere, Danielle M. “Much ado about Harry: Harry Potter and the creation of a moral panic.” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 22.1 (2010): 1-37. 

Supernatural. Prod: Eric Kripke. CWTV. 2005-Present. Television.



Unrealistic Beauty Standards Set for Teenage Females in Films

Christine Nguyen

Films directed at young girls (age 15-22) in high school and college perpetuate the idea that females must constantly adhere to unfair beauty standards in order to achieve or maintain self- satisfaction and self-respect. Gaining the approval of one’s peer puts young girls into a position where they are forced to compete against one another for attention and these films suggest the best approach is compromising one’s values and altering the outer appearance. This puts the focus on the female physique and subsequent popularity rather than other qualities such as intelligence or kindness.

In young audiences, popularity is used as a scale to gauge how well liked and respected an individual is within their student body. The idea of fitting in and being well-liked in school is important to all adolescents, but girls are particularly pressured to maintain an image of perfection. This idea of perfection is a coveted thing and to be the most perfect means to be the most popular and the most powerful. Girls that hold this popular status establish a collective identity and as a united force, they decide who is “cool” enough to be included whereas those who fail to conform to their ideals of cool are readily excluded from the group. Together, they reign as a sort of authority and act as the tastemakers for the younger girls to follow. Popularity is important because it provides an individual with security and the promise of envy from one’s female peers. This also leads females to betray one another to get ahead in status and reject others that stray from the fundamental structures of popularity (Brown, 2005). An aggressive competition is unleashed among young girls and they race toward popularity in order obtain that sense of personal power or leadership, acceptance, as well as social currency (followers, friends).  They create a presence where people are both terrified and jealous of them and subsequently, become paranoid of friends trying to displace them. This type of dark nature is best depicted in the two films, “Mean Girls” and “The House Bunny.”



Figure 1: The authoritative and manipulative Plastics from “Mean Girls”


A course text that resonated with me throughout the term was John Berger’s “Way of Seeing” because he describes advertisements’ pull on prospective consumers. He points out that glamour is dependent on one’s looks and is based off of envy; publicity manipulates us to think that buying into a certain image will enrich or transform one’s life for the better. Thus, publicity invites us into a dream, an intimate goal that we set for ourselves, yet excludes us. In this case, the dream is status and acceptance but can only be enjoyed by a few individuals. And yet, the elite circle of women who seem to have it all, don’t. They are faced with the same pressure to uphold a specific image just as everyone else is.


Figure 2: Cher and Dionne from “Clueless”

            One pattern that I found to be particularly interesting was the seeking of approval from one’s peers; the girls are expected to compete for attention from both their male and female cohorts. This type of social construct requires these young women to base their worth off of others judgements; this competition and reliance on other’s opinions suggest that in order for girls to gain a level of respect or worthiness, they must conform to a certain image. In “Mean Girls”, the popular girls set a dress code, emphasizes the need to constantly lose weight and practice self-hate while gathering around a mirror saying “I hate my calves” or “I’ve got man shoulders”. In “Clueless,” Tai exclaims to her friends, “It’s my hips isn’t it?” when the boy she likes shows disinterest; the first conclusion she comes to is, of course, her body. In “The House Bunny,” Shelley reminds the girls that, “feeling good on the inside starts with looking good on the outside,” which fuels an unhealthy obsession with image in order to be accepted by society.


Figure 3: The girls learn how be beautiful with makeup in “The House Bunny”

This concept of low self-esteem being associated with unrealistic beauty standards perpetuates the acceptance of body dissatisfaction as a normal aspect of life. Women are then encouraged to fix the parts of their body that make them feel most insecure in order to achieve personal happiness. Also, discrimination based off of the female appearance in the workplace establishes the association between one’s body image and level of status. If an adult woman’s weight or outfit can significantly impact their chances of employment, a determinant of success and respect in society, then the importance of image must also be associated to the social status of an adolescent girl in high school or college (YWCA, 2008).

Women physically have the choice to overcome beauty standards but social constructs oppress women psychologically, leading women to constantly alter their appearance in order to please their peers. They are constantly led to believe that something needs to be improved which inevitably leads to body dissatisfaction among young women, where having larger thighs or the inability to afford designer items are viewed as personal failures (Jeffreys, 2005).




Figure 4: The before and after of the makeover in “The House Bunny”

            This is interesting because psychological factors drive the motivation to pursue one’s physical transformation. This need for acceptance and respect from one’s cohorts is largely based off perceived beauty standards that heavily rely on superficial and materialistic values such as clothes, makeup, speech, etc.

Another learning moment for me came from the “The Urgency of Visual Media Literacy in Our Post-9/11 world: Reading Images of Muslim Women in the Print News Media” article from the first week of the term. It noted that women are continuously stripped of their individual traits and marked as a homogenous identity. In the article’s context, women in Islam who wear hijabs are labeled as backward, oppressed, exotic, and even terrorists in the media; the Muslim female identity is much more than a hijab yet we let the few represent the whole. This stereotyping happens to all women across cultures. The mass media influences how we define ours and others’ identities; we praise one identity and vilify the other.

Jeffreys points out that men are the dominant figures in Western culture and the biological differences between the two sexes make the men the “default” which makes women the “other”. Thus, women must act different from the men, creating a gender binary. Women are expected to be delicate, beautiful, and supplementary to the male. With these established gender roles of men being dominant and women being the other, women lose self-control and are put in a position where they must appease another individual or by following the ridiculous perceptions of beauty in order to regain a sense of power, voice, and self-worth.



Berger, J. (2008). Ways of seeing (Vol. 1). Penguin UK.

Beauty At Any Cost. YWCA USA, Aug 2008. Web. 23 Jul. 2015

Brown, L. M. (2005). Girlfighting: Betrayal and rejection among girls. NYU Press.

Jeffreys, S. (2005). Beauty and misogyny: Harmful cultural practices in the West. New York: Routledge.

Watt, D. (2012). The Urgency of Visual Media Literacy in Our Post-9/11 World: Reading Images of Muslim Women in the Print News Media. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 4 (1), 32-43




The Portrayals of Male College Students in Popular Media

Being a male college student, I see a lot of negative misconceptions introduced within Popular Culture outlets such as movies and T.V. shows.  These misconceptions are prevalent in almost every college themed movie these days.  The first movie I want to look at is “22 Jump Street,” a comedy about two undercover cops who infiltrate a college campus in search of an underground crime ring.  Even from this synopsis, one can conclude that some misconceptions will be made throughout this movie.  The idea of having an underground crime ring within the confides of a college campus is very unlikely from my point of view.  Most of the male college students are shown to be brutish tough guys that enjoy partying all the time.  This is a common misconception throughout all of the sources I will mention.  One thing that caught my attention was the section of Art students who appear in the film as mellow, and from my point of view, average college students.  These Art students are never seen going to parties/drinking/using drugs and maybe the producers of this film wanted to throw in a more typical set of students to take attention away from the stereotypical jock party animals.  A review from a popular movie review website called ScreenRant, states that “Jenko finds his place among the school’s frat boy jock elite.”  This relates exactly to my own ideas about movies portraying every college man as a frat boy jock.  The unreasonable outcomes that occur in regards to some of the scenes throughout this movie definitely fends of any sort of realistic beliefs stemming from this movie’s content.  Should movies that consist of these outrageous outcomes be taken seriously in their portrayals of male college students?

Zac Efron as a “Frat Boy Jock” in the movie “Neighbors”

Zac Efron as a “Frat Boy Jock” in the movie “Neighbors”

The next movie that forwards my point about misconceptions of male college students is called “Neighbors.”  This movie is about a college frat house that consistently parties next to the home of a couple with a newborn.  All of the male college students are so called “Party Animals” and have little respect for their surroundings.  There are no calm college students in this movie, which makes it seem as if every male college student acts in this fashion.  This is far from the truth and with the introduction of the newborn child, they take it into account at first, but completely disregard it later.  This makes it seem as if the college students have no compassion for anything besides partying.  A review of this movie from a website called The Wrap, uses terms such as “party monsters” and hints at the use of “beer and blunts.”  The review talks about how the frat boys “throw parties night after night,” which is a highly unlikely turn of events for people with college commitments.  Being a male college student, I know I would not have the time or energy to throw college parties every night.  I do like a certain aspect of this movie review however, that looks at the “interesting relationship…between slacker Teddy and studious Pete.”  One of the students in the frat house is actually worried about life after college, while every other student is only in it for the partying lifestyle.  This shows that some students in college are studious and work hard for what they have while others don’t.

The last movie I want to look at is “The Social Network,” because it gives a more accurate representation of college life (and when I say more accurate, I mean more accurate than the other movies).  “The Social Network” looks at the college life of the founder of Facebook in an attempt to reconstruct the events that happened alongside the creation of a great Popular Culture Outlet.  Some of the students are so called “Jocks” while some are considered to be “nerds.”  Having this diversity is more of a true thing for male college students.  Some male college students put their time towards working well academically while others choose to excel in sports.  This is a very accurate representation of male college students.  One interesting thing I noticed in this movie was the accurate portrayal of how much effort and time one must put in towards college work.  Most of the male students are seen staying up into the late hours of the night just to complete certain tasks.  I find myself working on assignments at all times of the day, which is accurately portrayed in this film.  There are a few out of the ordinary occurrences that happen throughout the film also.  A movie review from a website called PluggedIn shines light on these negative aspects about this movie.  A lot of threats are made from a couple of male students throughout the movie and some even lead to bodily harm and the use of firearms.  I know these things can happen, but from my perspective these threats occurred way more often than I would expect from a typical male college student.  This movie also introduced college parties, just like every other college movie these days.  According to the review, people “light up joints and/or cigarettes during a college party” and “lots of male characters, many underage, down everything from beer…to whiskey.”  This goes along with my idea of crazy college parties with underage drinking and drug use happening all the time.

I had many different learning moments throughout this term.  One of the biggest factors of my learning this term was the course blog posts.  These posts help further my understanding of the course content for each week and allowed for me to go out and think about the subjects instead of just reading them.  By looking at other people’s posts, I was able to see different perspectives regarding certain material and compare it to my thoughts.  These comparisons sometimes even changed my thoughts on the topic and I was able to reply to these people’s posts and tell them how their writing changed my way of thinking.  It was also beneficial having others look over my own posts and comment about what they thought about my ideas.  This system of giving and receiving feedback was very helpful in my understanding of the course content. These blog posts also helped us get ready for this Big Picture Blog Post project. Another significant learning tool in this class was the layout for this Big Picture Blog Post project.  First off, having a group that could provide feedback on every step of the way was a big help to my work.  Having the required group mentor meeting was a good way to make sure I was on track as well as everybody else.  I enjoyed the fact that we were assigned a research analysis worksheet that had us research primary sources for our identities well before the deadline of this project.  The annotated bibliography had us look at our secondary sources, which helped us further analyze our primary sources.

By Austin Viramontes


Kang, Inkoo. “Neighbors Review: Seth Rogen’s Suburbanites vs. Frat Boys Comedy is an Instant Classic.” The Wrap. 7 May 2014. Web. 21 July 2015.

Outlaw, Kofi. “22 Jump Street Review.” ScreenRant. 13 June 2015. Web. 21 July 2015.

“Will you be my friend?” PluggedIn. 1 October 2010. Web. 21 July 2015.