Musician (myo͞o-zĭsh′ən): Any Person, Whether Professional or Not, Skilled in Music

Leah Addington

Daneen Bergland



Musician (myo͞o-zĭsh′ən): Any Person, Whether Professional or Not, Skilled in Music

There has been a great evolutionary awakening for twenty-first century musicians. In the past, music was used as a form of entertainment, which has not changed in contemporary times however, they have transformed the mechanics and patterns of music to become an even more relatable form of language. One aspect that has changed has been the consistency of rhythm in contemporary music whereas if we were to look at Beethoven, classical composers decorate their music with ornaments and fashionable characteristics that create warm and specific sounds. Composers of today follow the same concepts except they have extended the potentials of what music can do for others. By studying current musicians and the process of becoming popular, there is very distinctive qualities that has given the opportunities to become known in our society. One of the many intriguing details about a musician is when is an artist considered a musician? Perhaps more importantly, who has the authority to say who is a musician or not? From musicians and non-musicians, opinions differentiate greatly however, juxtaposing the voices of musicians and non-musicians argues that depending on the artist’s musicality, impacting their audience influences them. Thus, the ability to relate to their audience and the audience responds back suggests as the vital aspect of what defines a musician.

By thoroughly investigating contemporary artists, it has presented the many qualities musicians process. A musician is a title, and when someone has a title, there are many factors that go in order to earn that title. Sometimes musicians take their title granted. For instance, in an article called Taylor Swift is Not the Savior Artist Needs, the reporter Mike Masnick responded to an incident involving Taylor Swift arguing against a negotiation made by Apple with record labels. Earlier this year in 2015, Apple made a deal with record labels in terms for the copyright holders, deciding they would not be compensated with royalties in the first three months during the “trial period.” This “trial period” represents the time for artists’ music to be played on Apple’s streaming music program. If it becomes popular among the listeners, Apple will continue playing their music. If not, the artists’ period ends.

Taylor Swift

In correspondence to this new negotiation, Taylor Swift took great offense however, she wrote a blog post that “this isn’t about me.” She continues to refrain the words “this is about” with various scenarios, such as “this is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success” (Masnick, Swift). It is great for a musician to respond to the media when there is a less than favorable action that could affect their need for making income. But Swift is not very subtle in the way she handled this new negotiation. From her blog post, Masnick said it was “touching” but also “almost entirely hogwash for a variety of reasons.” In her blog, Swift said she was thankfully on her fifth alum and does not have to worry about this however, Masnick argues that as Tom Conrad pointed out, her career was built on terrestrial radio play, which is a free service. Thus, “Swift is living proof” that without performance royalties, it doesn’t mean “suffering” but instead, it leads to an “immensely successful and profitable career” such as Swift’s (Masnick). Musicians basically receive nothing in royalties and do not have a big enough fanbase to generate enough revenue. Therefore, even if they were paid, it will not help them overall as a musician because “if they’re getting enough plays to matter, then they have other ways to make revenue” (Masnick). In order to find have recognition has a musician, artists need to advertise themselves in any way they can, and the response they get from listeners will contribute to their success.

Overall, the impact of this move would have been minimal for musicians. Musicians need to take in consideration if “they [rely] on the royalties from Apple Music to make or break their musical career has no musical career” (Masnick). Even if Apple decided to begin paying them, then musicians would demand more, and many artists would give a bad reputation. It would no longer be about the music but their paycheck, and one of the greatest impacts of becoming a musician is to have and present a positive role model for the next artist. Thirdly, the most concerning point is Swift gave “a false sense of hope to those who rely on obsolete business models, rather than innovating them” (Masnick). The Atlantic’s article titled her blog post as Taylor Swift Almighty: Is she the most powerful person in music? Also, Jeremy Olsan wrote on his Twitter:

LcpotXjlMusicians were celebrating Swift’s blog post in which will not even benefit them. It’s unfortunate because Swift should be a role model however, her blog suggested to not focus on business models that let them connect directly to fans and give them a reason to buy something (Masnick). They are treating Swift as “a savior,” which is damaging for a seeking musician. A musician does not need to “pray for a savior” but needs to take steps to ensure they are a competent business model. This article submits a critical factor in defining a musician because after her blog, people were believing she was the most “powerful musician in music.” Who is to say there is a most “powerful” musician? Music is a form of language that can be communicated to any ear and by any person. Music stations played Swift’s music for free at the beginning of her career and that was a huge part of why she is where she is—it communicated to an audience. Thus, she is no more powerful than any beginning musician because every musician’s mission is to give to their audience.

This is not to say Swift herself cannot be defined as a musician. In fact, even in the beginning of Masnick’s article, he admits “she’s an incredibly savvy music person, who has built a tremendously successful career, often by maintaining control on her own” (Masnick). This can be seen in the article Taylor Swift Dismisses the Haters, Dances with Fans for New Song ‘Shake it Off.’ Two years prior to her newest CD, it was enough time for her to grow and change. And as a musician, change can be very positive because “[changing] what you believe in and what’s influencing and inspiring you” affects your music, and music is a reflection of the artist’s character (Kreps with Swift). Her new album was “a rebirth of [her],” which further explains that a musician matures as they pay closer attention to the tunings of their craft. Her goal for her next album is to continue this change but to never change in the same way twice because then the musician has not grown as an artist (Kreps with Swift.)

In a review with Swift, an NPR staff has a twelve year old daughter who wanted to ask Swift “why’d [she] address [Shake it Off] to [her] haters and not [her] motivators.” Swift responds how she first wrote a song in the past called Mean, addressing her bully’s asking why they were mean. Swift realized there should be a more positive way to approach an issue, and that it’s important to “be very aware of who you actually are, and to have that be the main priority.” This goes a huge way to relate the audience and be seen as a good role model. Swift is not “the savior” we should praise however, it is not to say we should be attentive and recognize everything Swift tries to do for her audience. One of her goal through her lyrics is to encourage girls who are in middle school to find a way to distract yourself from negativity (NPR Staff with Swift). As a musician myself, I do not relate to her lyrics because they do not apply to my life. But for some others, especially a younger audience, her message is a healthy approach to a problem they may have, thus serving as a great role model for musicians and non-musicians.

In order to represent as a role model, the artist must connect to the audience. If there is no connection to fans, then it will not work for the musician. Music is about connection, and if a musician cannot feel connected to another person through their music, something is greatly wrong. Not every person can relate, but there has to be a message coming across that lets us recognize the relation to a group of people.

Creating connections is one of the extensions of being a musician. Lindsey Stirling, a new musician becoming popular in the music industry, is a violinist and goes against the traditional norm of playing classical music. When she began her career, she first went to America’s Got Talent and made it all the way to the quarter finals. Here are the results of why she was unable to continue:

The judges of the show were very skeptical of her purpose as a musician. She was trying her all as a dancer and as a performer but they believed she should only use her instrument as an accompaniment to a singer, not be the soloist herself. Her performance made them come to the conclusion that the violin “is not what that type of instrument is used for pop music” (America’s Got Talent Broadcast). One of the major problems with her performance was her incorporated dancing, which at some parts of the video, it was evident. However, it’s condemning to say one form of an instrument is not allowed to branch out and be its own voice. They grouped the violin as if it’s an extension of a thought for music, which completely diminishes the capability a musician can do with his or her voice. An instrument just doesn’t make sound, it’s also a voice, her voice. And that’s one of the things most non-musicians do not understand. They believed pop or dubstep belongs only with the human voice, which actually has the same equal amount of emotional and physical delivery as instrument. A violin doesn’t only mean an instrument from a Vivaldi String Quartet—it also can be a part of the contemporary realm our ears hear every other day in the grocery store.

Sharon Osbourne famously opinionated that the “violin would never be able to fill the halls if she didn’t hire a singer” (America’s Got Talent Broadcast). Now, Stirling has been on not only state tours, but world tours. Here is one of her most famous music videos:

Stirling created her own youtube channel in the beginning, and the more she listened to the type of sounds her audience wanted to hear, she tried with whatever talent she had and she delivered. If a musician can use a bad experience to drive them, then they have succeeded already as an artist. Everything takes time. Her moment in America’s Got Talent was five years ago. Now she has two published albums featuring guest artists. For musicians, patience is an absolute virtue, and Stirling waited graciously and has blossomed beautifully. As an artist, she is not so easily woven in a particular genre because she has stretched every possible flavor someone could ask for.

Lindsey Stirling

Chris William, a music reporter and non-musician, went to see Stirling in concert in Los Angeles. In his report, he spoke about how a classical and pop critic wondered about this new trend of violin and “who it was for.” Both the critics did not care much for her music, but at the concert, there were a different type of audiences drawn to listen to her that night. He said “the audience would have surely thrown the NYT critics back to square one by being a diverse and indefinable as any you’d see at pop shows” (William). William argues how much Stirling has extended the stereotypical character of the violin and has brought in “ethnically diverse” ages into her concert, from gamer friends, “bordering-on-elderly attendees,” and “the young African-American woman who kept frantically waving her arms and screaming obscenities at the wholesome Mormon violinist—happy obscenities, as in, ‘Can you f-ing believe this? Every f-ing note is so f-ing fantastic!’” (William). It goes to show Stirling used America’s Got Talent to encourage her to prove how powerful music can be in any shape and form.

However, William did criticize her music has “vaguely moody melodies” and “consistently favors frenzy over emotion,” which is a weakness to her record. Then again, she is still a growing artist. People of all ages and of all groups are at her concert eager to listen, and she will move across the block to the bigger Nokia Theatre if she does not change her style (William). The critics may not understand, but as William puts so delicately, “the violin-loving little girls and EDM-craving gamers and New Age middle-agers understand” (William). Lindsey doesn’t solely connect to one age group, but to everyone. Thus, Lindsey changes the perception of the way America’s Got Talent works as a show. Who has the authority to say who is a musician or not? Not the judges. Not the musician. It is the audience.

Lastly, Michelle McLaughlin is also a contemporary artist like Swift and Stirling. She is a solo pianist and composer, who began playing at the age of eight. Unlike the other two artists, she was never taught the piano and yet she is currently working on her 15th album. She reveals that “[she] just learned to play by listening to other musicians” (Mclaughlin). While growing up, she was shy to have people besides close family and friends to listen to her music, but once she began giving new cds for Christmas cards, the positive feedback encouraged her to go even further as a musician. Like Swift, she went to Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio to have her music, for free, be played. Although a reviewer of the station enjoyed it, she had to advance her recording equipment. Once she did, a couple of different stations began to play her music and one night, she even happened to hear one of her Christmas songs be used on TV.

Michele McLaughlin

This is also an aspect every musician needs: inspiration. In order to become a known artist, McLaughlin had to have inspiration to listen to, in order to become an inspiration for someone else. For her, her music is “[her] story, [her] diary, [her] journal, [her] biography…a glimpse into [her] soul” (McLaughlin). And to represent that was listening to another’s story through their music. In a music reporter’s review, Bill Binkelman had heard how “[Mclaughlin] presents her emotional intent of song forthwith and front and center” and that “it’s a testament to her considerable talent that this baring of her soul always works so well” (Binkelman). If someone else were to play her music, it would not have the same story anymore. She has the talent to represent her life within the notes she writes down on paper, which is a great challenge for so many, including myself.

Similarly, Swift also had said since her musical career had begun, “people [had] essentially gotten to read [her] diary for the last ten years” (NPR Staff with Stirling). Both of these artists reveal that music is a way to send a message to the audience. To make a connection, either by telling their story or story that may relate to something they have experienced. For Stirling, she has broken the rules of using a stringed instrument as a new genre of instrument play, and it is gathered a great diverse of people, all wanting to hear a diverse world of violin sound. Each of these artists are related in that they aspire as role models and inspire their audience, extend the possibilities with music, and connect with their audiences. These contemporary artists are great definitions for what it means to be a musician because although not perfect, they use their craft as way to create a universal language anyone can listen and understand. There are many aspects that are involved in the title of a musician, and these three represent and own these titles.

Learning Moments

One of the greatest learning experiences in this class is getting to know my individual mentored group. It has built such a solid and insightful way of learning about someone else, including myself. During week 5, it asked about our secondary sources and what we had found. One of the people in my group had asked me “I have heard of a lot of people losing respect for modern music because it lacks the intimate meaning that classic music tends to have. Why do you think that might be?”

My response: as for the lack of intimate meaning in modern music, I personally do not think it’s entirely lost, just muddled. Songs now days are very repetitive in their sound and lyrics (not that songs in the past aren’t) but they are losing their uniqueness (which is difficult for all artists). It’s difficult to actually answer your question because I’m not sure if you mean classical music, which don’t have much emotional meaning but focus more on technical and rich detail. Modern music appeals to our emotions more but are not as complex in the lyrics (such as Shake It Off) or in the compositional process. Artist take immense amount patience and diligence in their music, but the technical process has diminished in modern artists (no pun intended). I do not care much for pop music but for a few songs (such as the new beautiful “Hello” by Adele and “Love Runs Out” by Onerepublic”). That’s just my personal tastes. I think Taylor Swift has great musicality however, I believe her lyrics are youthful and simple. It doesn’t move me at all. Her words can relate to some people, but overall, I think the subject about relationships are more than simple. I think Adele captures it very well within her new piece. Does that not define her as a musician? No, because she knows five instruments and her music sells. Her album 1989 she describes it as “it’s the rebirth of [her].” She transitioned from country to pop. And I think that’s great, because music is a huge realm to explore and exploit beautiful differences. However, I also think she could try to stretch her lyrics a bit more, but again, it’s her personal style that I’m not in favor of.

Another great discovery over the course of these weeks is finally observing popular culture and how people and subjects are portrayed in media. In week two course texts, this article really made me critically observe:

One of the great questions asked by a classmate to my response about the article was an old classmate from Race and Social Justice FRINQ course last year. He asked: “How do you think the media is portraying black lives today in relation to the article on Muslim women? Is there relation in the media’s standpoint?” And it made me so happy that could be passionate and intellectually involved in my response. Here is an excerpt of my response:

“Unlike the Muslim women, African-Americans are not viewed as terrorists. There are some pretty well known African-Americans, like Michael Jordon, Eddy Murphy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Snoop Dog, who are all perceived very, very differently. One is inspiration, one is entertainment, one for hope, and I don’t even know about Snoop Dog, all I know is he does rap and a few other shenanigan things, so I don’t really know what to say about him, he’s just a popular musical figure (if you call rap music, but I’m a biased classical composer intended major). But one stigmatization attached to the imagery of an African-American is terms such as “captive,” “enslaved,” “nigger,” “mule,” “powerless,” and the horrific terms go on. A lot of people think of African-American’s as the descent of slaves in the past of our country in the United States. But what becomes so muddled is the fact people do not study the actual history of these priceless figures we never hear about, and there is so much more than simply Africans being brought over to this new land and to serve to their “white, holy masters.”

Muslim Woman

“…I believe that yes, African-American’s can certainly be tied to certain stereotypical terms or points in history. But like the author for the article about Muslim women argued so well is educate yourself. Why is popular culture the way it is? It’s because we do not take the time to learn about the “behind-the-scenes” of a group of people and their history, but only get an overview of an article or a known piece of history about them and have that be the strong basis to our conclusion of the subject. No, I do not believe Muslim women should ever have to be solely connected to an event such as 9/11. In fact, one of the most intellectual, strong, and powerful voice I heard in my Race and Social Studies class was a Muslim woman. She inspired me. She was the one who wanted to actually speak up, when I know sometimes when I speak, I get tongue-tied because I’ve always struggled lining up my thoughts in an organized manner and make an argument or discussion verbally. Much better at it now, but it’s still a heavy insecurity I think I might always have–unless I listen to more people like the young woman, who covered her face except her eyes, in my FRINQ course. And that means something. Something enlightening. Something evolving–the evolution of listening, understanding, and having acceptance of diversity.”


I felt like I can have a voice, and that makes me feel very proud to share it. And so overall, this class has made me look around my physical community (my home, church, campus) and ask myself, “why is this place the way it is, in terms of representation?” I love having this online community to share our thoughts and ideas and learn from each other. And more surprisingly, what I learned about myself.


Masnick, Mike. “Taylor Swift Is Not The Savior Artists Need.” Techdirt. June 23, 2015.

NPR Staff and Swift, Taylor. “‘Anything That Connects’: A Conversation With Taylor Swift.” NPR Music. Updated November 12, 2014.

Kreps, Daniel and Swift, Taylor. “Taylor Swift Dismisses the Haters, Dances With Fans for New Song ‘Shake it Off.’” RollingStone. August 18, 2014.

“Lindsey Stirling America’s Got Talent.” Youtube video, 7:29. Posted by “America’s Got Talent.” April 12, 2012.

William, Chris. “Lindsey Stirling Fiddles with the System: Concert Review.” The Hollywood Reporter. May 16, 2014.

McLaughlin, Michelle. “About Me.” Michele McLaughlin. 2015.

Binkelman, Bill. “Musical Storytelling to Inspire and Excite the Imagination.” Michele McLaughlin. 2015.

Harper, Douglas. “Musician.” Online Etymology Dictionary

Images From:

Higgins, Parker. (August 6, 2015). Taylor Swift’s Streaming Rant Nearly Identical To Garth Brooks’ Used CD Rant. Retrieved from:

Masnick, Mike. (June 23, 2015). Taylor Swift is Not the Saviour Artists Need. Retrieved from

Carrillo, Luis David Hernandez. (August 31, 2013). Youtube video: la mejor violinista sin duda una de las mejores lindsey stirling HD. Retrieved from

Mclaughlin, Michelle. (2015). About Me. Retrieved from

Jews News Administrator. (October 14, 2015). Muslim Woman Issues Chilling Warning to the West about Dangers of Islam. Retrieved from

How women are portrayed in fairy tales


When I was a little girl, I liked to read fairy tales as most of the girls did. Three of my favorite fairy tales are Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. I dreamed of marrying a handsome “prince” when I grew up. But as time goes by, I changed my mind. Why do I have to marry a “prince”? Why do I have to rely on my husband? Why don’t I live my lifetime alone? Why can’t I choose any kind of life as long as I like? With those questions keeping running through my head, I have made a research of the three fairy tales.

Brother Grimm’s fairy tales are very popular around the world. They are the bedtime stories of children and were adapted to movies or TV plays. However, the characters’ relationships, which were mystified especially the female roles, impact children’s mind. They might have a thinking that girls should rely on their husband and listen to his words.

How women are portrayed in the fairy tales

Female roles in fairy tales are polarized. The heroine is always perfect. She is beautiful, kind, helpful and compassionate. She is also helpless, naive, lacks any sort of intelligence and submissive. She has no ambitious as well. Another types of female characters that show signs of intelligence or ambition are evil and ugly. I will talk about how women are portrayed in three fairy tales, the reasons of their portrayal and the changes of female roles as time goes by. As far as I am concerned, women portrayed as submissive and weak in the ancient version of fairy tales because of the women’s social status at that time. But now, I believe that something has changed. The social status of women has improved.

There some common points of the three fairy tales. They were recreated by Brothers Grimm in 20th century or so in Europe. At that time, women were regard as accessories of men. I will describe it in detail in “reasons of the phenomenon”.


Cinderella is a fairy tale story published in 1982 written by Grimm. Actually, the first written European version of the story was published in Napoli (Naples) by Giambattista Basile in Italian. In Basile’s story, the heroine, called Zezolla, is persuaded to kill her stepmother by her embroidery teacher, breaking her neck by slamming a large chest on her head. Zezolla’s father then marries the embroidery teacher, who proves even worse than the first stepmother, relegating Zezolla to the role of servant and giving her the nickname Cinderella cat (Bazzi, J, 2015).


It was later retold by Charles Perrault and by the Brothers Grimm in their folk tale collection Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Cinderella in this version often complained about her circumatances, cries and made demands. The first film version was produced in France by Georges Melies as “Cendrillon”. On March 13th in 2015, a live-action film of Cinderella remade the 1950 animated film.

The female characters in this fairy tale are two extremes. One type of women is beautiful, kind, obedient and listening. This is shown through Cinderella who listens to her mother’s instructions, prays to Gods every day and obeys her stepmother and stepsisters. Another type of female is the stepmother and two stepsisters of Cinderella. They are evil, ugly and jealous of Cinderella’s beauty. However, in the recent version of Cinderella, the live-action in 2015, the stepmother is pretty as well. In addition, she is not blind at the end of the story as she is in Grimm’s version. As Branagh, the director of Cinderella, said, “the film features an evolution that affects all the characters, reminding us that existence can’t just be seen in black and white.” (Bazzi J, 2015)

Snow White

Snow White is a famous German fairy tale that is known worldwide. The brothers Grimm published it in 1812 in the first edition of their collection Grimms’ Fairy Tales. In 1854, they completed their final version of the story. There is the contrast between the active woman and passive in the original story. The queen and Snow White might be equally beautiful, but they are different in the gap between their levels of purity. In 1933, Max Fleischer’s studio produced an animated short version of Snow White featuring Betty Boop, who is of course the fairest in the land. Betty is not just a great beauty. She also possesses provocative sexuality, an attribute that undermines the purity and passivity of the original character (Wilson, M).


In 1937, Disney made the Snow White as Animated film. The ideal beauty remains pure and passive, and this brings her substantial rewards: the cheerful help of woodland creatures, the agreeability and protection of the dwarfs, and finally a handsome and devoted suitor (Wilson, M). The TV movie Snow White: the Fairest of Them All ran in 2001. Snow White was born from a drop of blood in a flurry of apple blossoms. A natural progression from the empathy with nature is exhibited in earlier productions, but it also effectively nullifies the story’s central theme of beauty deriving from purity and resulting in reward, by making her beauty supernatural instead. In the previous film Snow White had nothing to do but look scared, and here, she is required to manage merely demureness (Wilson, M). A new live-action is produced in 2012. In this story, the Snow White is already in possession of the throne rather than fated to receive it as a reward for her virtue. In Mirror Mirror, a movie ran in 2012 as well, the Snow White is smart. She saves the prince when he is under the queen’ spell. She kills the monster and saves her father. At the wedding of Snow White and the prince, an old lady, who’s the queen, gives the snow white an apple, but she does not eat it. Another live-action is Snow White and Huntsman. The huntsman, who should have killed the Snow White in the forest, plays a major role in the movie. He trains the Snow White to become a fighter. With the help of the huntsman, the dwarfs and the prince, Snow White fights with the queen.

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty is a classic fairy tale written by Charles Perrault. The vision collected by Brother Grimm was an orally transmitted version of the originally literacy tale published by Charles Perrault in 1697. The earliest known version of the story is Perceforest first printed in 1528, but it became famous since Brother Grimm rewrote the fairy tale. In the ancient tale, the queen Leah had no lines in Sleeping Beauty. In the story, the author demonstrated that the princess is the daughter of the king rather than the daughter of the king and queen. When the princess was a little kid, three fairies wish her beauty, voice and saving her life. The prince fell in love with Aurora at the first sight. The witch was evil. She cursed Aurora. The prince and the princess lived together happily. In the animated movie: the dawn of Aurora, the portrayal of the princess does not change comparing with the ancient tale. In 2014, a new live action movie called Maleficent adapted from the Sleeping Beauty. The plots of this movie are deeply changed.


The reason why Maleficent is “evil” in the movie is explained: Stephan, the king of human kingdom hurts her in order to gain power. Maleficent decides to avenged knowing Stephan and her queen give birth to a daughter, Aurora Princess. However, Maleficent takes after Aurora and protect her secretly. As time goes by, Maleficent finds that she loves Aurora so much and she regrets for cursing Aurora. She tries anything she can do to remove the curse, but fails. When Aurora goes into sleep, the prince’s kiss loses efficacy. Only Maleficent’s kiss can awake Aurora. At the end of the story, Maleficent cleans the brambles between human kingdom and Moors, and Aurora becomes the queen of human kingdom. In this new story, Maleficent is not evil as she is in the ancient tale at all.

Reasons of the Phenomenon

In the ancient version of the three fairy tale, the natural mothers have no sense of presence; princes are always right and wins in the end; ambitious women are portrayed as evil and ugly, and good women are beautiful, submissive, eager to marry and without ambition. Karen Rowe (1986) argues, “Fairy tales prescribe restrictive social roles for women and perpetuate ‘alluring fantasies’ of punishment and reward: passivity, beauty, and helplessness lead to marriage, conferring wealth and status, whereas self-aware, ‘aggressive’, and powerful women experience social censure and are either ostracized or killed.” Feminists thought the truth that women should be beautiful and submissive in the fairy tales are the story of women’s suppression and disempowerment under patriarchy.

However, in the recent live action movies, their roles are changed. I will illustrate the reasons why women are beautiful and submissive in the ancient tales and why their roles are changed.
The first reason is the women’s social status at that time. The original version of these fairy tales were born before 20th century. During the time, women’s social status was low. They have been usually confined to domestic chores. Men, on the other hand, “move in the public domain where they are in possession of economic resources to fund the domestic expenses” (Siddiqui, S, 2014).


The second reason is the pursuit of beauty during the time. “The social importance of the feminine beauty ideal lies in its ability to sustain and to reproduce gender inequality” (Baker-Sperry, L. Grauerholz, L, 2003). Normative control guarantees to those women who comply with its demands safe passage in the world and that women who do not comply are somewhat punished. “In the case of the beauty ideal, women who achieve a high degree of attractiveness are psychologically and socially rewarded” (Dellinger and Williams, 1997).


Fairy tales are beginning to recognize the change in societal values, being evolved and morphed to mirror the current society and their present day values. The roles of women are already changing in today’s culture.

Gender inequality still exists in today’s society. Nevertheless, women get higher social status comparing with it in the last century. According to the recent adaption of the fairy tales, the directors and the scenarists change the female role in their movies. The “good” girls no longer possess beauty or voices only. They are more independent and smart. The “evil” women are no longer ugly at all. They are more emotional and breathing.

Society must make an effort to accept the change of societal values and reflect these changes in its modern works of art (Nanda, S, 2014). In doing so the traditional presentation of the female gender as exhibited in Fairy tales may be interpreted from new angles, and feminists may be more accept them.


Baker-Sperry, L. Grauerholz, L. “The Pervasiveness and Persistence of the Feminine Beauty Ideal in Children’s Fairy Tales.” Gender and Society, 1 October 2003, Vol.17(5), pp.711-726

Bazzi, J. “The many versions of Cinderella: One of the most ancient fairy tales.” Swide. 21 February 2015. Web

Dellinger, Kristen, and Christine L. Williams. 1997. “Makeup at work: Negotiating appearance rules in the workplace. Gender & Society 11:151-77

Dundes, Alan. “Cinderella, a Casebook.” Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988.

Nanda, S. “The Portrayal of Women in the Fairy Tales.” The International Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities Invention. Volume 1 issue 4 2014 page no.246-250

Rowe, K. “Feminism and Fairy Tales.” Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 1979, Vol.6, pp.237-57

Siddiqui, S. “Presentation of Women in Fairy Tales.” Journal of Gender and Social Issues, June 30, 2010, Vol.9(1)

Wilson, M. “Different Shades of Snow White.” About Enertainment. Web

Zannoni, V, “Sleeping Beauty a fairy tale 700 years in the making.” Swide, 28 May 2014

The Evolution of the Nerd in the Mainstream Eye

We have all had some sort of feeling of isolation in our lives.  This isolation may stem from internal emotions of feeling that we “don’t fit in”.  We may need time to be alone, to think things over, especially after a life changing experience, such as a death in the family, divorce, or even a best friend moving away.  Isolation may also be imposed upon us by external factors.  This is especially true in grade school with cliques everywhere you looked.  You may like something that “nobody else” likes, and you are deemed weird because of it.  You then become an outcast, and labeled by the “in-crowd” as a dweeb, dork, geek, or nerd.  While children in grade school can be especially vicious, the older that people get, the less of a damn they appear to give about what you like.  However, this does not mean that they are silently judging you for who present yourself as.  You still may receive a few odd looks if you are caught walking around the streets in a black trench coat and a fedora on your head during a hot summer day.  With that being said, being a nerd has become so popular in the mainstream, that people almost seem proud to call themselves one.  The introduction of technology, especially the internet, has changed our view of most categories of nerds.  Affordable technology that unites us via the internet, including smartphones and computers, have surged in popularity as they have become more accessible and user-friendly in the last decade.

What is a nerd?

Before I begin to discuss how the term nerd may have gone from representing social outcasts, to representing the rulers of pop culture media and the tech industry, we must clarify what the term “nerd” means.  If you really think about it, you may notice that there is a plethora of categories used to describe people who all share the identity as a nerd.  Not every nerd has to like Star Wars, and at the same time, not every nerd needs to be some sort of computer wiz.  Even more importantly, not every “nerd”, is necessarily an introverted shut-in who’s only friends exist in World of Warcraft, however, that last type does exist, and are not necessarily applauded by pop culture as much as the other descriptions for nerds.  These are all observations that I had not initially thought about when thinking of what a nerd is.  Originally, I simply associated nerd with the imagery provided by Weird Al’s White and Nerdy music video, or possibly from the 1984 film, Revenge of the Nerds.  My first instinct would have been to think of a nerd as more of the introverted, social outcast, type.  But this conflicts with the fact that I would consider myself a nerd by being a huge fan of many blockbuster franchises and having a fairly sizeable sense tech savviness.  I am also, more importantly, very social, and lik

nerd-venn-diagram-20110626-192132e to meet new people all the time.  Upon becoming aware of this conflict, I knew that there was a lot more to being a nerd than what I had originally thought.  Here is an excellent Venn Diagram, provided by Scott Beale from which illustrates the subcategories of “nerd”.  Notice that the three outer circles st
ate “intelligence, obsession, and social ineptitude, as characteristics that may define a nerd.  Someone could be all three, or simply one, and still be considered a nerd.  I would consider “obsession” as someone who may be a fanboy or fangirl over something, possibly spending a great deal of money to feed their fandom.  This could be someone who collects numerous action figures, to a person who spends hundreds or thousands to go to San Diego Comic Con every year.  Intelligence may describe the person whose math quiz your gaze may “accidentally” take a glance at as you scratch your head in calculus.  It may also describe the billionaires that run the tech industry.  Geek is arguably one of the most popular terms to describe an intelligent nerd, and from my experience, seems to be one of the most popular words used to describe someone with nerdy qualities.  The only quality that people would not necessarily find desirable in a nerd is social ineptitude.  These are the types of people who keep to themselves either because they are not perceived as being enjoyable to be around, or because they intentionally hide themselves from society.  As a reminder, these types of people do not represent all nerds, of whom many are very outgoing, but simply a subcategory of “nerd-dom” as a whole.  I think of the film Napoleon Dynamite when imagining this type of nerd, which would be commonly described as a dork.  These nerds do not need to poses intelligence or obsession to be called nerds.  They may simply lack a strong sense of community and the ability to be sociable.  They may have traits of the other categories too however.  You may find someone who enjoys typing computer code all day long with little to know human interaction.  You may also find somebody who enjoys wearing Spock ears and sitting at home all day, watching their complete Star Trek: The Next Generation series collection on VHS.


Napoleon Dynamite


The Fan Culture

As I have stated before, obsessed nerds may be people who find a huge interest in something, such as a video game, movie franchise, book series, or TV show.  Their obsession defines a huge part of their lives, influencing their purchases and the friends they make.  They may stand by their preferred brand of video game consoles, waiting hours or days in line to make sure they are the first to purchase one, or try to make it to the midnight showing of the next big blockbuster film.  There are numerous conventions in which these people may unite.  Portland Oregon has a retro gaming expo, San Diego hosts the internationally known San Diego Comic Con, Star Wars fans around the world make their pilgrimage to Star Wars Celebration.


A Large Group of Star Wars Cosplayers

At many of these conventions, people pay a lot for tickets to attend, traveling expenses, merchandise, and costumes for cosplaying, all in the name of fandom.  The fan community has exploded with the introduction of blockbuster franchises and their subsequent merchandising throughout the 70’s and 80’s, including Star Wars, Star Trek, and many comic books and their films.  These conventions are able to give fans a great sense of community.  They all have something in common.  People are clearly enjoying spending a great deal of money on exceptional costumes so that they may feel that they are a part of something.  Of course, going to a comic book or movie convention was not always a cool thing to do, unlike how it is today.  In his book How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, Chris Taylor states “There was a time between trilogies [1983-1999] when Star Wars lived on the geeky fringes of society.  No longer.  Now, it seems, society is telling us that Star Wars gets you laid and mated” (xvii).  He is essentially saying that it is now cool to proclaim you love something, even if it was considered uncool at one point, and that, hell, it may just get you a girlfriend.  The internet has aided this new freedom of expression, especially for those who may not be able to afford to go to big events.  There are online forums where people may discuss their thoughts on the latest episode of Game of Thrones to their heart’s content.  And for the nerd who is a little less social in the “physical realm”, the internet is a great tool to conceal their identity under the avatar DarkSkull1337, or something like that.


A couple show their love for Zelda


A great documentary film that is able to look at a fan culture as a whole and then focus on the specific lives of a few obsessed arcade gamers is The King of Kong.  The documented story centers around the conflict between Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell; a man looking at being the record score holder of Donkey Kong, and the man who, at the time, had held that highest score title.  The documentary takes the culture very seriously, and does not appear to make the men look overly obsessed with the arcade game.  Their daily lives are each shown, with Steve being a science teacher at a high school in Redmond, WA, and Billy owning a chain of restaurants in Florida.  Steve is looked at as a newcomer to the classic arcade game, and is thus treated as an outsider by those who almost seem to be disciples of Billy Mitchell. Eventually Steve earns their respect, and becomes a star in the arcade gaming community after beating Billy’s high score.  It is an underdog story of an outsider who wants to become a respected part of a community.


The Geek-Nerd

Being a geek was not necessarily always a cool thing to be.  Negative stereotypes for geeks have been that they dress funny, sit in front of computers all day, and are know-it-alls.  The film Revenge of the Nerds did not paint a pretty picture for the “geek” variant of nerds.  The film portrays its nerds in ways that I had just described, and more.  Because these guys are not physically capable like the jocks in the film, they are not able to impress the attractive girls in the sorority.  However, by the end, they are able to use their brains and come up with ways to overcome the fact that they are physically inferior to the other frat and thus “win over the girl”.  The film may redeem itself as in being in support of nerds by the end when they chant Queen’s We are the Champions, but the nerds are not portrayed to be very attractive, and are looked at as the minority that has to band together as the misfits in order to become accepted by the mainstream.  As a film, and a successful film at that, it has had a huge influence on pop culture, and was able to give a pretty identifiable portrait for the smarty-pants nerd culture.


Protagonist from “Revenge of the Nerds”

This film came out before the internet was widely used, Apple had just launched its Macintosh home-computer, and people were far from walking around with computers in their pockets and strapped to their wrists.  It would be a while before the geek culture would be able to truly prove itself to the mainstream.

A New Century, A Sense of Community

 With the fact that we have been discussing the topic of community very heavily this term, I noticed a theme that all of the films had in common.  Whether it be The King of Kong, Napoleon Dynamite, or even Revenge of the Nerds, the three films I had picked at random had a plot the involved the protagonists having the desire to be respected by a community.  The internet has helped many people today unite with others from different states, or even different countries, share their interests.  Even people who are deemed “dorks” or “socially inept”, may find comfort behind a screen, mouse, and keyboard.  People are able to have social interactions in a way that wasn’t mainstream even 15 years ago.  People are now able to successfully find possible future spouses on online dating sites.  Nerds today have far less to fear than they have in the past.  They may now express themselves any way they want, whether it is behind a mask or a computer screen.  Now, one of the most popular TV shows airing today is capitalizing on the currently proud nerd culture.  It shows that they can make numerous references to The Empire Strikes Back and still get a girlfriend or boyfriend. Without me having had to have stated the show’s title, you probably know it is The Big Bang Theory.  You know it because it is a symbol of the media in our pop culture.  The show is able to poke fun at the nerd culture, while embracing it dearly.  This is yet another example of how the term “nerd” may had an ill-intended use by the mainstream, but those days are dead and buried.


This course has taught me to look at community in a way that I had not really realized even though it was right there in front of me, and this has helped me with looking into the nerd culture.  The fact that I have been able to communicate ideas with people for 10 weeks as we share ideas and give feedback to make our learning experience the best in can be in this course has opened my eyes.  It is an angle that I was able to use when doing research of how people are better able to connect and express themselves because of the internet.  As I have mentioned in my essay, there are people who are not as comfortable with expressing themselves as others, and are deemed anti-social.  These people may be able to use the internet to better their self expression in an environment that is more suitable to their needs.

I have not taken an online course outside of this one.  I was always sort of scared to.  I did not know if I would become lazy because I did not have to physically go anywhere and be in the presence of professors or peers.  I have learned that I am great at managing my time with the course, and that I can in fact interact and share ideas with peers that are actually meaningful to my projects and overall education.  After biting the bullet and taking this online course, I will certainly be more open to taking online courses in the future.



Napoleon Dynamite, Directed by Jared Hess, Produced by Jeremy Coon, Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures and Paramount Pictures


Revenge of the Nerds, Directed by Jeff Kanew, Produced by Ted Field, Distributed by 20th Century Fox


Taylor, Chris. “A Navajo Hope.” Introduction. How Star Wars Conquered the Universe. New York: Basic, 2015. Xvii. Print.


The Big Bang Theory, Directed by Mark Cendrowski, Produced by Faye Oshima Belyeu, Distributed by Warner Bros. Television Distribution


The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, Director: Seth Gordon, Producer: Ed Cunningham, Distributor: Picturehouse and Dendy Cinemas




Female Student Stereotypes in Films

Big Picture Blog Post: Female Student Stereotypes in Films

Because I am a female student, I must be some stereotypical girl that has been made to look less of herself because of the way she is portrayed in films 15 years ago, and even now. Because a girl is blonde, she must be stupid. Or because she leaves a man before he breaks up with her, she must be a horrible person. There are so many different stereotypes portraying women in films and most of them seem fake, but some of them could also just be a coincidence because anybody could act any way that they desire, not everybody. There are several different films that show and explain the lives of students in college, but for this research I will only be focusing on the 3 films, Legally Blonde, showing how a female student was shown more than 10 years ago. Pitch Perfect, showing how female students are depicted now, and The Social Network, showing females in a film that is centered on male students. All three films do a good job in showing the different stereotypes in women, though The Social Network is a little weaker, there are some pin points in the movie that really stood out to me. Throughout this research I’ve been able to find all kinds of different information that is so interesting, much less even thought about. As I get further and further into this research, we’ll be able to see how the role of a woman has changed or hasn’t changed throughout these past 15 years.

Reese Witherspoon portraying Elle Woods in Legally Blonde (2001)

So, let’s go back 14 years. Legally Blonde has just premiered and everybody is loving it. Even I loved it the first time I watched it. Considering that this movie made 141 million at its box office, I’d say it was a success. But, as I got into this research, I noticed that it wasn’t just a movie about a quirky, funny young woman who was trying to win her boyfriend back. The movie is about Elle, a young, smart, beautiful woman who at first wants to win her boyfriend back, but then realizes that she is much better than he is and knows that she is capable of doing anything that she puts her mind to. The film begins with her being a rich, blonde, beautiful woman who wants to apply to Harvard Law School because her gorgeous, smart boyfriend left her because he doesn’t believe she is smart enough. As the film continues, she is shown to grow and understand what she has put herself in, I mean, imagine going to Harvard knowing almost nothing about Law. That’s what she did, just studied and passed a test and she got accepted. Yes, the movie does go a little extreme, but it does do a great job at showing how Elle is as a person, and not just a girl who is there to please a man. In the beginning of the film they do make it seem as if she is only a woman who cares about being the most popular and what she’s wearing throughout her day.
Sadly, media has made it seem as if blondes are the stupidest of them all, and they’ve even made jokes about them. I’m not a blonde, but I do have a lot of friends who are, and I remember seeing their faces and noticing how insulted they were whenever they made a joke about a blonde. Blonde is just a hair color. Nothing more, nothing less. This film did a great job at showing the stereotype of a blonde woman, but it was also so great in showing the audience how a woman can grow from that stereotype and prove everybody who thought of her but no more than a girl with money, that she is capable of doing anything that they could do as well, just in a different manner of course.

Reese Witherspoon portraying Elle Woods in Legally Blonde (2001)

There was one quote that I read in an article written by A.O. Scott for the New York Times, “It’s funny — in that slightly queasy, un-P.C. Doris Day kind of way — to watch her suffer tearful humiliations, and also funny to watch her recover her dignity and tell off the snobs and hypocrites who have underestimated or maligned her.” This quote, made me think of the entire movie, yes they showed that any woman can do whatever they want, but A.O. Scott says that they can recover, and this movie showed Elle recovering from herself and everything that she’s been through and all of the situations through this movie. There was one scene, where she is speaking to her professor and he makes a move on her, and she storms off, furious, and soon quits his service and basically quits Law School. Soon after, she recovers with the help of her friend and wins the case that she was working on with her professor, all by herself and by being the person who she always has been, not the person they wanted her to become.

Anybody heard of Facebook? No? I didn’t think so.

The Social Network is all about Facebook and how it came to be such a huge success all around the world. It focuses on all of the men at Harvard who came together to build this massive website, except it wasn’t so massive when it first started. It started off as a little website that helped all of the students at Harvard connect with each other, then it grew to all different schools all over the country, then it became available to everybody around the world. It’s an outstanding movie, great actors, and great team of everything. The only thing that wasn’t so great was when Zuckerberg got so upset and he decided to make a blog of all the women and rate them because of his girlfriend who had just broken up with him. As Roger Ebert stated in his review for this movie, “For the presence of Facebook, we possibly have to thank a woman named Erica.”

Jesse Eisenberg and Rooney Mara in the Social Network (2010)

Yes, Erica was out of line by calling him an asshole and just walking out of their date, but Zuckerberg was also very out of line. I mean, stealing photos from Facebook to just rate them on a website called the Harvard Connection? That’s just wrong. But, it did lead to it become the great Facebook. As stated by Roger Ebert, “He programs a page where they can be rated for their beauty. This is sexist and illegal, and proves so popular, it crashes the campus servers. After it’s fertilized by a mundane website called “The Harvard Connection,” Zuckerberg grows it into Facebook.” Women are being seen as just a distraction through all this. Oh she broke his heart, oh she is such a horrible person by breaking up with her boyfriend, she’s a woman, there’s nothing different.

Barden Bellas during their first performance in Pitch Perfect (20102)

Now, let’s fast forward to 2012, the movie Pitch Perfect was just released and the media and the world is praising it; the singing, the dancing, and the comedy. Oh, who doesn’t love comedy? Well, this film begins with women being shown, as classy and together. It’s nice, and it adds a little to the comedy of the film by them also being the most boring. Fast forward to the next school year, Beca is just beginning her first year at the university, not wanting to be there. Her father basically forces her to join any group in order for him to pay for her life if she was to move to California. By that, she joins the Barden Bellas. Of course, she thinks they’re weird in the beginning, since they did keep the same song that they completely baffled their previous season. But, she later grows to love and befriend all of the other girls. First of all, as much as I love this movie, they showed women in such a horrible manner. Yes, they are strong and independent and they can be winners as well, but they are shown to basically just be sex symbols. They go from looking like the image above, to this image below here.

Barden Bellas during their last performance in Pitch Perfect (20102)

They show a fairly diverse group of college girls, but they’re all still beautiful and the only one who would be considered “not beautiful” is probably Fat Amy, which is completely wrong in the eyes of the media, because then they make the viewers think that all she’s there for is just the comedy, and not anything else. All while the other girls are being interpreted as beautiful and sexy. It’s like they made the fat girl, the funny girl, all because the media has made it seem as if the fat girl has to be the funny girl because that’s what the media thinks they’re only good for, the comic relief. Which is pretty horrible. It’s like the stereotype of blondes. All they’re good for is to look pretty. I was reading some reviews on concerned parents regarding the movie and its rating, which is completely fine, since it is rated PG-13. There was one review that really stood out to me, written by an adult with the username woodberries on the website and published on February 12th, 2013 that stood out to me, “Children who see this will be learning many new ways to be immoral and vulgar and obsessed with sex. It’s 90% about sex and 10% about relationships and singing.” Obviously, parents aren’t okay with this movie. Yes it’s a great movie, but for those who are probably 16 and older. The way that women are shown, it’s pretty disgusting at times, like the final performance shown above. It does show women being more entertaining, but they don’t always have to entertain their audience in a sexual manner.

There was one article that caught my attention while I was doing some research for this topic, “Gender Stereotypes Persist in Films on a Worldwide Scale”, by USC Annenberg staff. They talk about all sorts of things of how women are portrayed in films, and it compares a lot to the movies. “Women aren’t portrayed as lawyers, doctors or teaches.” This line just hit me right in the gut. The fact that women can’t be taken as serious as men would, it’s insulting. In all three films that I analyzed, the women were never portrayed to be like that, at least not in the beginning. In the case of Legally Blonde, the movie shows the work that she went through to become a lawyer. But, for the other two films, women are seen as only an item and only good for their looks. Yes, a lot of women are fun to look at, they’re beautiful. But, it’s not like all us women do is look at men all day. Yes, Magic Mike was released not too long ago, showing men in a very sexual way, but other than that, there aren’t many movies that show men in that nature. As for women, there are a lot, such as Avengers, The Mask and even Star Wars. The women in these films are all seen as sexy, all while making the men look more heroic and better at almost anything than a woman. Legally Blonde, the guy already has a career started for him and Elle has to work for it harder than anybody else. The Social Network, all the guys are the smart ones and the girls are the ones that have an attitude and they’re basically only good for sex. Pitch Perfect, the girls are all innocent and professional in the beginning of the movie, but later are pushed to become more entertaining so they get sexier and basically take their clothes off.

BeFunky Collage
Left to Right: Cameron Diaz in The Mask (1994), Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Carrie Fisher in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983), Scarlett Johansson in Marvel’s Avengers (2012).

This whole research is so important, it doesn’t only show me how women are being portrayed in films, but it’s also showing me that there hasn’t been much change in these last 15 years. Gender stereotypes are such an important topic, not trying to sound like a feminist, but it’s nice to appreciate a woman for who she is as a person, not who is by her looks and one little action. I know a lot of women are with me on this when I say that we want to see a movie that makes the female awesome. Make a fat, nerdy, business woman the lead. A skinny, ugly woman the superhero. Anything! Because in the end, each woman is beautiful, and we all need the chance be the person that everybody’s looking at for who they are, not what they want them to be.

Important Learning Moments
The text that we had to read in week three, “American Advertising: A brief history”, really stood out to me because I don’t think any other text compared to my research as much as this one did. This text talks how advertising has been changed so that the consumer only sees the goods of the product, or whatever they are trying to advertise. In comparison to the movies, they only want to make their main characters look like the good guys all while making them look attractive. Such as Legally Blonde, Elle is a beautiful, petite woman, and she’s the main character. The “nerds” of the movie and everybody else around her isn’t as beautiful as she is. This is one way of advertising, not bashing on any beautiful actresses, because they are, beautiful, but the movie industry just hires beautiful and petite actresses for the main role if they want their audiences to watch the movies. Usually, but not always, if an actress isn’t in their standards, it’s for a completely type of movie or their only there for a comic relief. Such as Pitch Perfect, Fat Amy is really only there for the audience to laugh at her, while the stars of the movie are petite and beautiful. One good example of false advertising that would connect to this text well would be the advertising of all burgers on commercials, such as Burger King or McDonalds. Everybody is always let down when they get their food and it looks nothing like their advertisements.

Works Cited

Legally Blonde. Dir. Marc Platt. Perf. Reese Whiterspoon. MGM Home Entertainment, 2001. Film.

Pitch Perfect. Dir. Kay Cannon. Perf. Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Elizabeth Banks. Universal Home Entertainment, 2012. Film.

The Social Network. Dir. David Fincher. Perf. Jesse Eisenberg. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2011. Film.

Ebert, Roger. “The Social Network Movie Review (2010) | Roger Ebert.” All Content. 29 Sept. 2010. Web. 7 Nov. 2015. .

Scott, A.O. “Legally Blonde (2001) FILM REVIEW; A Rich Ditz Has Both Brains and the Last Laugh.” New York Times. New York Times, 13 July 2001. Web. 8 Nov. 2015. .

Ebert, Roger. “Pitch Perfect Movie Review & Film Summary (2012) | Roger Ebert.” All Content. 26 Sept. 2012. Web. 7 Nov. 2015. .

“Member Reviews for Pitch Perfect | Common Sense Media.” Member Reviews for Pitch Perfect | Common Sense Media. Common Sense Media, 12 Feb. 2013. Web. 16 Nov. 2015. .

“Gender Stereotypes Persist in Films on a Worldwide Scale.” Gender Stereotypes Persist in Films on a Worldwide Scale. USC News, 22 Sept. 2014. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

Asians in Media

Natalie Tran, an Asian comedian Youtuber, once said that “As much as whether you like it or not, being Asian has a big impact on who you are as a person and it will continue to have an impact on you in the future. So whether you identify as Asian-American, American-Asian, just Asian, just American; it’s something that will keep affecting your life. I think it’s because it’s one of the first thing people notice when they see you”. In this essay I will be examining the stereotypes of Asians seen in mass media such as television and movies. As an Asian-American, I want to see Asians on screen as smart and successful at being Americans instead of acting stereotypical. Currently, many Asian-Americans are upset and want Asians to have proper roles and more opportunities in the media to show that the stereotypes do not apply to every Asian. First, I will talk about the effect that stereotypes have on Asian-Americans, next the model-minority stereotype, and finally Asian stereotypes through comedy seen in the movie Rush Hour 2. Before I begin, I want to define the term ‘stereotype’, briefly mention how Asian-American Youtubers and myself think of Asians in general that are seen in media.


(Christopher Lee and Bart Kwan)


(Ryan Higa and Jeremy Lin)

“Stereotype” is defined as one group’s generalized and widely accepted beliefs about the personal attributes of members of another group (Ashmore and Del Boca 1981; Dates and Barlow 1990). In Movie vs Real Life: Asian Coworker, produced by Youtuber JustKiddingFilms, starts with two male workers; one worker is white and the other is Asian. ‘In the movies’, the white man makes multiple racial stereotypes throughout the video such as greeting his new coworker by saying “ni-hao” and bows, asks where the coworker is ‘really’ from, and says how he loves sushi. However, ‘in real life’ the Asian man appears more Americanized and behaves nothing like how the movies portray Asians. In Are Asian Stereotypes True, by Youtuber NigaHiga, begins with a young Asian man talking humorously about the stereotype of Asians then mentions how Asians often times show that they have no issue with these racial differences. Some stereotypes he mentioned were all Asians have small eyes, Asians are good at math, Asians cannot drive, and so on. In Asians in Media, by Youtuber CommunityChannel, gives an entire presentation on how non-Asian people typically are ignorant and do not acknowledge the different ethnicities within the Asian race like Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, etc. There were many times when a stranger has recommended her to try food at some type of Asian restaurant just because she is Asian. In my own experience, I grew up feeling embarrassed of being Asian and often times avoid surrounding myself with Asian people. I always thought that the media were making Asians seem weird and foreign on screen. For example, Asians eat dogs, Asians work at the hair/nail salon, or Asians knows how to play the piano. At the time, I thought these stereotypes were not something to be proud of and found myself isolating from the Asian culture. Eventually I grew up realizing how silly I was and learned to embrace that I’m Asian. Thus, Asian-Americans are experiencing and witnessing these misinterpretations of Asians on a daily basis.


(Yellow Peril Drawing)

In the article, Getting the Message: Media Images and Stereotypes and Their Effect on Asian Americans by Teresa A. Mok (1998), I found that Mass media sources do not portray the diversity of the Asian-American culture which influences Asians to think poorly of their own racial group and of the larger society. According to Mok, Chinese immigrants had been in the United States for about 40 years and are seen by Whites as financial competition for scarce jobs and resources. The Chinese were given the name “Yellow Peril” which was referred to as an economic threat to Whites. Asians were rarely seen on screen but when they were, they only had the role of as being mysterious and sneaky which were traits of a Yellow Peril. In the 1960s and 1970s, White men represented Asian women as a property or sexual possession who are willing to cater the needs of U.S. servicemen returning from overseas (Fung, 1994). As a result, when Asian women were given a role they were peasants or prostitutes while Asian men were seen as sneaky and brutal. Ultimately, White men feared Asian immigrants would take their jobs or their women because they perceived that Asian men were intelligent, ambitious, and attractive (Spickard, 1989). When comparing the acceptance of White society, minority women have an easier time since they are not seen as a threat to men. Thus, as Asian-Americans consume movies that stereotype Asians, they are affected by how they see themselves and other Asians. According to Mok, some have accepted the fact that they cannot look “all-American”. Some wished they were born different from how they actually looked such as desiring for blond hair and blue eyes. Eventually, most Asian-Americans gave up and accepted these stereotypes although they are aware that these ideas are ideally meant to represent Asians from the past. Asian-Americans are seen having high education and work ethic which allows them to be a “model minority”.


(Barack Obama meeting with Asian people)

In the article, Asian-Americans: Television Advertising and the “Model Minority” Stereotype written by Charles R. Taylor and Barbara B. Stern (1997), I learned that Asian-Americans are more likely than members of other minority groups to appear in background roles and are overrepresented in business settings. Asians are stereotyped for being naturally engaged in academic study, mathematically skilled, hard-working, and serious. About 53.3 percent of Asian-Americans have managerial or professional positions which is much higher than any of the other population groups (Kern 1988). Almost 6 percent are entrepreneurs which is more than double the percentage of any other minority group (Weisendanger, 1993). Although these stereotypes of Asian-Americans are positive, these passive viewings continue to be unwanted by Asians and are unacceptable. Three out of every four Asians live in just three states – California, New York, and Hawaii and most live in six cities within the states – Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Sacramento, Chicago, and Houston. However, there are many other parts of the country where Americans have either little or no interaction with Asians. Those with little contact with Asians quickly assume they know all about an Asian person only because of what the media shows. Taylor and Stern mentioned that if there is a lack of direct contact, it will cause an increase of the likelihood the culture will interpret the portrayals as being accurate. Advertisers or movie producers probably intended to produce these portrayals of Asians being as a positive trait, however, these positive images are leaving more of a negative impact on perceptions of Asians. Furthermore, when racial stereotypes are seen in comedy they help validate these racial differences rather than doubting them which becomes problematic.


(Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker)

In the article, Naturalizing Racial Differences Through Comedy: Asian, Black, and White Views on Racial Stereotypes in Rush Hour 2, written by Ji Hoon Park, Nadine Gabbadon & Ariel R. Chernin (2006) points out the potential stereotypes seen in Rush Hour 2 (2001) and how these stereotypes can lead to naturalizing racial differences through humor. Theories of genre suggest that often times stereotyping occurs in comedy because the viewers are discouraged to think critically about these racial remarks. Comedy as a genre is harmless, interpersonal jokes are intended to be funny and inoffensive. However, once these beliefs are naturalized that will provide insight on how people will see the social world. There were many Asian ‘humorous’ racially stereotypical moments seen throughout the movie. The story follows two police officers, Carter, an African-American from Los Angeles, and Lee, an Asian from Hong Kong, working together. Carter stated “I’ll slap you so hard that you’ll end up in the Ming Dynasty” when Lee was considering on taking a police case. Moments later in the movie, Carter stated “Let’s get some sushi” as he was sitting in the car and a few Chinese women were passing by. There was also another scene when Carter accidentally punches Lee instead of a gang member and explains to Lee “You all look alike”. Later when Carter meets Lee on the boat, he bluntly tells Lee “No one understands the word coming out of your mouth” which is because Lee had an accent. Another stereotypical scene was when Carter brags about how he’s tall, dark, and handsome while Lee is “third-world-ugly” and when Lee responds that he’s not because he is “cute like snoopy”, Carter then reminds Lee that Snoopy is six inches taller than him. In comedy, it is acceptable for racial minorities like Blacks, Asians, and Mexicans to explicitly say racial comments to each other whereas the same jokes told by Whites would be considered racist. Although these racial differences are intended to be enjoyable for the audience, they could be moving towards desensitizing the audience in racist acts.

Overall, when Asians are on screen these stereotypes should not always be shown because they do not apply to every Asian. Asian-Americans can be affected negatively by thinking poorly of their own racial group. Although Asians are often seen in background roles compared to other minorities, which should be perceived as a compliment, this can be considered as a negative impact on perceptions of Asians instead. Comedy can help make Asian stereotypes seem harmless and inoffensive but really encouraging viewers to believe the stereotypes are true rather than feeling uncertain. However, on a daily basis Asians continue to be affected by racial stereotypes. Based on my research, I have learned a lot about new information which will definitely continue to have an impact on me. Some day in the future, the media will give Asians more opportunities to appear successful at being Americans.

Learning Moments

One significant learning moment during the term for me was learning about the history and influence of advertising. I never paid much attention to advertisements or commercials because whenever there was an ad, I used that time to either take a quick break to the bathroom or go on my phone until the ad was done. However, I learned how reflective and influential advertising actually was of our culture. I remember picking a Barbie advertisement to briefly analyze and noticed that culturally, the ad was reassuring and reminding girls they are intelligent, independent and can become anything they want. Now whenever I am exposed to advertisements or commercials I am more well informed about the reasoning behind it.

Most importantly, the second significant learning moment was the portrayal of my identity (Asian, Asian-American) in the media. Before I did any research, I was upset about how Asians were portrayed and did not understand why. I assumed these stereotypes existed because Americans usually saw Asians striving to be something big in the medical field or were forced to do well in school and become talented by playing piano and learning martial arts. However, there was so much more than that. In the past, Asians were seen as a threat to the Whites because they feared Asians would overpower them. Secondly, Asians are considered as the “model minority” compared to other minorities such as Mexicans and Blacks simply because Asians are seen as hard workers and naturally gifted in academic study. Lastly, some people have little or no interaction with Asians which is why they believe what they see on screen.


Kwan, B., & Jo, J. (Directors). (2014). Movie vs Real Life: Asian Coworker [Motion picture]. USA. Retrieved November 13, 2015.

Higa, R. (Director). (2015). Are Asian Stereotypes True [Motion picture]. USA. Retrieved November 13, 2015.

Tran, N. (Director). (2015). Asians in Media [Motion picture]. USA. Retrieved November 13, 2015.

A. Mok, T. (1998). Getting the message: Media images and stereotypes and their effect on Asian Americans. Cultural Diversity and Mental Health, 4(3), 185-202. Retrieved November13, 2015.

R. Taylor, C., & B. Stern, B. (1997). Asian-Americans: Television Advertising and the “Model Minority” Stereotype. Journal of Advertising, 26(2), 47-61. Retrieved November 13, 2015.

Hoon Park, J., G. Gabbadon, N., & R. Chernin, A. (2006). Naturalizing Racial Differences Through Comedy: Asian, Black, and White Views on Racial Stereotypes in Rush Hour 2. Journal of Communication, 56(1), 157-177. Retrieved November 13, 2015.

Pop Culture’s Take on Optimism

Considering a good portion of the human population will identify as either pessimists or optimists, it’s inevitable that characters in pop culture media will follow the same pattern. But take a second to think of optimistic characters in popular TV shows and movies; after researching the optimistic trait, it tends to be blown out of proportion. So many optimistic characters just seem to be a little too optimistic, doing and saying things no real person would ever do or say in a similar situation. Psychologists have found that many people must work toward an optimistic nature, and even those who are extremely optimistic will not always be happy (McGowan, 2008).

Parks and Recreation is a light-hearted, comedy series whose leading character is the happiest, most optimistic woman you’ll see on television. Leslie Knope works for her small town’s Parks and Recreational department in order to make the town a better place to live. As Mark Dawidziak, a critic of the show, described Leslie, “She’s a wide-eyed mid-level Parks and Rec official who, despite her years in local government, has not let politics dampen her sense of optimism,” (Dawidziak, 2009). Leslie is a hard working professional, but she blindly follows her optimistic outlook on the world more often than not. Bad situations and outcomes still get her down, but she’s fast to recover and look forward to what may happen next. In an episode where Leslie is taken to Washington, D.C., her husband, Ben Wyatt, takes her to see the White House. He pulls her away, saying he has a surprise for her. Leslie’s first reaction was excitedly asking him, “Is it a waffle tower?” She’s a character who is always overflowing with emotions, mostly joyful ones. Later in the same episode, April (Leslie’s pessimistic assistant) comes to Leslie with an idea to open a dog park. She’s so excited, she says, “I’m so proud of her I could cry,” and then starts crying. This type of behavior is a bit extreme, and obviously meant to be humorous. Leslie Knope is the kind of character who is so optimistic, she doesn’t worry as severely as others which makes it easier for her to be happier than others.

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation

What does this mean for real life optimists and the rest of society? Shows and movies like Parks and Recreation often create comedic characters like Leslie Knope, that are stereo-typically over-optimistic about everything to be humorous. This can be a good or a bad thing, depending on the perspective from which it is viewed. It’s bad for society, as it makes the viewers believe that only white women can be happy and optimistic. The over-excited characters may be a good thing though, because it may push some viewers to become more optimistic themselves.

Not only are the optimists in pop culture media being portrayed by a majority of white people, they are also often played by women. Because optimism is a personality trait that is arguably a natural characteristic that many people are born with, it’s ridiculous to assume most optimistic people are Caucasian women. This may be a setback for our society as a whole, because it may push some people to think optimism is only for happy, white women; or even that all white women are happy. Parks and Recreation also stars a black woman, Donna Meagle (played by Retta Sirleaf), whose character wasn’t fully developed until later in the second and third seasons. The writers of the series probably realized they needed a shift in attitudes in the show and decided to make Donna the type of woman who is proud of herself and also certain that her future will be a good one. This is a nice change of pace compared to the constant stereotype of the white woman optimist, but she is still a side character (and a woman) that did not contribute enough to the show to prove to be a tide changer.

Cast of Parks and Recreation

Cast of Parks and Recreation

Optimists are also misrepresented in the fact that they are not actually happy every minute of the day, like they are portrayed in many TV series and movies. Several of those who consider themselves to be optimists make a genuine effort to think positively, so it’s absurd to assume people actually feel and act the way stereotypical optimists do. However, it’s possible that this type of character’s tendencies will rub off on the audience and make them try to become more optimistic. Kate McGowan discusses in her article, “Second Nature”, how many people wish to be happier, and how it is very possible to become more optimistic with enough time and effort (McGowan, 2008). This is important to consider, because it means that even pessimists may learn to be happy and optimistic if they try. So if an audience is shown enough optimism in the media, they may pursue those same traits.

Another character that supports this theory of the over-used stereotypical optimist is Honey Lemon from the movie Big Hero 6. She is one of the main character’s friends, who tries very hard to make everyone else happy. Like Leslie Knope, she is a white woman with blonde hair, and is always looking for the best in every situation. There is one scene in the movie when a masked man is chasing the group of friends with a hoard of little robots called microbots, and Honey Lemon’s first reaction to her friends is, “Let’s not jump to conclusions. We don’t know that he’s trying to kill us.” This is an incredible response, as most people would immediately assume the man was out to kill them. Then after they get trapped in a tunnel of microbots, one of the other characters is shouting, “We’re not going to make it!” and Honey Lemon responds, “We’re going to make it!” every time. Honey Lemon is an exceptionally happy and optimistic character; a little too much so to reflect real optimists.

Hiro Hamada and Honey Lemon from Disney’s Big Hero 6

Hiro Hamada and Honey Lemon from Disney’s Big Hero 6

Now consider a few male optimists from pop culture media, there may not be as many, but they too usually follow the pattern of being overly happy. Peter Quill, from Guardians of the Galaxy, follows this pattern with a few extra complex character traits. Peter Quill is an orphan from Earth who was abducted by an alien pirate crew just minutes after his mother died in front of him. He grew up in a space ship full of aliens who stole items across the galaxy for a living. Despite these horrible early memories and scary living conditions, Peter is confident he can do anything he puts his mind to. He runs away from the alien pirates who raised him, and ends up getting into a scuffle with three other characters. They are all caught and thrown in prison after, where they come together and scheme a way to break out. This part is interesting, because despite Peter’s constant optimism about getting what’s rightfully his and living day by day without worry, his initial thoughts on the plan are, “There’s no way this can work.” However, as soon as he says that, he changes his mind and says, “Okay let’s do it.” This shows Peter’s complexities as an optimist, and how he is more realistic than either Leslie Knope or Honey Lemon. He does do crazy things that only a blindly optimistic person would do, though. At the very end of the movie, Ronan (the main antagonist) is seconds away from taking over the entire universe, but Peter starts dancing and challenges him to a dance off simply to stall him.

Chris Pratt as Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy

All of these characters are incredibly optimistic, the cream of the crop. It’s interesting to note that Honey Lemon and Peter Quill both become heroes, while Leslie Knope is trying to work herself up through the ranks of government. They all have big dreams, and work hard every day to become better people. Not all optimists get the chance to become what they wish to be, but it’s still good to dream and work toward those goals. These characters show how important it is to be optimistic, if you plan on accomplishing your dreams. It may be problematic that they are all white characters, and two out of three are women, but in the end it doesn’t seem to be adversely affecting society. It’s unusual to hear anybody complaining that the media is racist or sexist when it comes to the representation of optimists; in fact, it’s rare to hear anything about optimistic characters in the media at all. With this in mind, it doesn’t seem to be an issue presently. Hopefully the stereo-typically happy optimists will push viewers to start thinking in a similar way: work hard and try to be happy.


Works Cited

Big Hero 6. Dir. Don Hall. Perf. Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, and Jamie Chung. Walt Disney Animation Studios, 2014. Film.

Daniels, Greg, and Michael Schur. Parks and Recreation. CNN. 9 Apr. 2009. Television.

Dawidziak, Mark. “’Parks and Recreation’: New NBC Comedy is Uneven but Promising.” WebCite. Cleveland Live, 7 Apr. 2009. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.

Guardians of the Galaxy. Dir. James Gunn. Perf. Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper. Marvel Studios, 2014. Film.

McGowan, Kate. “Second Nature.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 1 Mar. 2008. Web. 8 Nov. 2015.


Learning Moments:

When I entered this class, I was very skeptical and scared of how it was going to work. I’d taken one online class before, but it was focused around using an online book and homework system so it was very simple and easy to use. However, this class was much more daunting because it involved a great deal of writing and peer work. But after Week 2, I realized how much I actually enjoyed participating in this class. The course blog was essential to my learning, because Daneen’s posts were very informative and everybody’s comments were interesting to read and reply to. The online blog discussions were much easier to work with than a traditional lecture/discussion.

One of the most important learning moments for me was finding primary sources and learning how to analyze them, with the help of the Research Analysis document. I put it off at first, because it seemed like so much work. But when I got into it, I actually really enjoyed it! Analyzing and interpreting some of my favorite TV shows and movies was so interesting to me! The whole process of writing and creating our own blog post was inspirational for me, and it was one of the first times I really enjoyed writing.

The second of my learning moments was when we read about media literacy from the article, “Media Literacy: An Alternative to Censorship”. I had never had any formal education on this topic, so researching it a bit and discussing it with the class was really interesting and helpful to me. I learned the difference between media literacy and censorship, and how censorship is helpful and also harmful to our youth. The article we read also taught me a great deal about the different ways we can solve the issues of media literacy not being taught well enough to the youth. I felt like those kind of lessons are necessary in our current society, with all of the different types of media that’s out there. I’ve been talking about these problems with my friends, and I hope we can make a change to censorship (among other things) soon.