Discussion of Asian Stereotypes in Popular Culture

In United States, we have different ethnic groups and people who come from different background and cultures. Among them, Asian is one of the largest growing minority groups. According to a research by Census Bureau, “from 2000 to 2010, the Asian and Asian American population grew faster than any other ethnic groups, increasing by 46%.” However, despite having a very large population, this is much contradicted to how often we see Asians on big screen TV. Whenever Asian characters appear on screen, they would be featured with plenty of traits that are not entirely accurate and therefore would cause misunderstandings and conflicts for viewers. Not only that, these misrepresentations could affect Asians negatively on how they look at themselves. I will analyze different trends of portrayals in media, and go in depth about the issues of Asian portrayals in media, arguing against the false portrayals and bringing the realistic images of Asians that are rarely shown.

A very popular stereotype is “Asians are smart, nerdy, and good at math.” It is true that there are Asians that are good at math, but not all of them. Not only that, just because they are smart doesn’t mean that they are nerdy or having a boring life. A good example of this would be Rajesh from the show Big Bang theory. He is a very smart guy but lack communication skills. This example leads us to another stereotype which is “Asians are bad at communicating”. While this can be true but the assumption behind this stereotype are often not quite true. Smart Asians are bad at communicating because they focus only into study and abandon their social relationships. A good example to argue against this stereotype would be the character London Tipton, played by Brenda Song in the show The Suit Life of Zach and Cody. London is a daughter of a wealthy hotel owner where the show takes place at most of the time. She has a very outgoing personality and from many people views, she is a spoil child. Unlike the typical main stream image of Asians, she often does things the way she likes without strict discipline. London often skips classes and gets bad grades, totally opposite to Asian’s portrayal in media. This character is a rare image of Asian on TV as it wasn’t portrayed like the typical stereotype about nerdy Asians we often see.

Another stereotype associate with Asians is that they are bad at sport. This stereotype is very contradict with another stereotype that we often see in media which is Asians are good at martial art. In the article “The 7 Worst Asian-American Stereotypes”, I found this “Asians are not good at sport” to be very interesting because I didn’t know about it until I do the mirror essay project. However, I do understand why people often associate Asians with martial arts. So why exactly do people think that Asians are bad at sport? One reason I could think of is because of the images of nerdy Asians that people often see in popular culture. Nerds are usually physically weak, knowing nothing else besides study, hence most Asians are assumed to be bad at sport as well. However, people are completely different in reality than what are being portrayed in media. Each person has their own qualities, traits, and personalities. Taking myself as an example, I played variety of sports during high school and middle school. I consider myself as a decent player, although not excellent. Beside me, there were a lot of other Asian players in my schools’ teams as well. Basketball, volley, tennis, and soccer, every team had Asian players and they don’t do badly at all in games. Some were even chosen to be team’s captain.

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Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) trains Daniel (Ralph Macchio) in The Karate Kid

On the other hand, the images of Asians being good at martial arts have to be credited to many famous actors such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet li. When the very first Bruce Lee’s movie came out, it gave people a deep impression of Asian fighter. This was a start of what would be later known as the Hong Kong New Wave, leading to many other actors such as Jackie Chan and Jet Li to enter the industry. Hence we could see why there is a booming in popularity of Asians kung fu in mainstream media. Even nowadays when there are a lot of martial art movies where the main characters could be white, black, or any other races, the mentor or master would usually be portrayed by an Asian actor. A perfect example of this would be “Karate Kid”. There are two versions, one was in 1989 and another was in 2010. In both versions, the protagonists were black and white while the mentors in both versions were played by Asian actors. Furthermore, when we see Asian characters on TV, they usually play as the minor roles. Unless the movies are about fighting, Asians may have chance to be starred as one of the main roles. “Rush Hour” series is another example where one of the main roles is played by the Asian actor Jackie Chan. He played the role which deal with criminals mostly by hand, fist, and martial art instead of gun, although the role of the character is a cop. The martial art stereotype that associates with Asians was created by the impression of Hollywood stars that have origins in Asia. There are other Western martial arts out there as well but we don’t often see them being show on mainstream media. Despite all that, not all Asians know martial arts. Everyone could be martial artists if they put time and has patience to practice.

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The Yellow Peril Drawing

Often time Asians would be portrayed as foreigners, forgetting that there are Asian Americans who were born and grew up here in the U.S as well. These kinds of portrayals would influence how Asians would think of their own racial group as well as larger society. According to Mok in this article “Getting the Message: Media Images and Stereotypes and Their Effect on Asian Americans”, Chinese immigrants as well as many East Asian immigrants were considered as economic threats and jobs competitors in America. Hence, the term “Yellow Peril” was given to Asian immigrants as a racial slur. To be honest, I have never heard of this term before until I do this mirror essay. After some research, I found that this term was started by German Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1895. According to The Phrase Finder, the term was coined after the defeat of China against Japan and was intended to apply for only Japanese at first. However, after numerous of reports in US newspapers about the event along with a painting where they showed “a distant Buddha-like figure sitting in an approaching firestorm”, attempting to invade Europe, this stereotype and fear started to spread. I find this very funny and ironic at the same time. If you take a closer look in history, Europeans were the ones who took the action and invaded Asia most of the time in the 19th century. This “Yellow Peril” stereotype promoted racism and created discrimination against Asians, especially Asian men. For Asian women, it is a different story. In this YouTube video titled “The Weird History of Asian Sex Stereotypes” by Franchesca Ramsey, MTV Decoded host, she mentioned that “Asian women are the most sought out group on online dating.” They are often fetishized and eroticized. Comparing the acceptance of White society, Asian women would often time have an easier time than men. As Asian Americans consume these ideas from the portrayals of Asians in media, they are affected by how they look at themselves and other Asians. According to Mok, some have accepted the fact that they cannot look all-American while some even wished they were born different from how they actually looked. Eventually, they would accept all these stereotypes even though they know that all these ideas don’t accurately portray them as a person.

Asians can be smart, dumb, outgoing, introvert, shy, and loud. Just like any other races, Asians have a very diverse personalities and cultures within itself. Media has created false images of what Asians and who they really are. It’s sad to see that lots of people bases on these images to judge individuals and fail to see that each person is unique and special. Because of that, it is difficult for Asians to express themselves without being labeled by stereotypes. One way to portrayed Asians accurately would be showing a diverse personalities and cultures of Asians on TV as well as giving more opportunities for more Asians actors in the film industries.

Learning moments:

One of the biggest learning moments that I have experienced in this class is probably commenting on the blog every week. It gave me opportunity to express myself as I don’t often speak up that much in real class. Second, this class discussed on different subjects and topics relating to media that I don’t often consider or aware of. Reading my peers’ comments really broadened my perspectives and I obtained a whole lot of useful information. Last but not least, I can see improvements in my writing. I learned a lot of different technique through the online resources. This mirror essay by far is the biggest writing project that I have ever done.

Come out of this class, I think analyzing advertisement and look at the news critically are the two skills that I appreciate the most. News and advertisements are two things that I see every day and everywhere. They often are the main tools that I use to get information and to know what happen around the world. Therefore, I think it is important to be able to analyze and be critical about them.

Preferences:

Asia Matters for America by the East-West Center. (n.d.). Retrieved May 23, 2016, from http://www.asiamattersforamerica.org/asia/data/population/states

Noronha, M. (2012, November 24). The 7 Worst Asian-American Stereotypes. Retrieved May 23, 2016, from http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2012/11/24/the-7-worst-asian-american-stereotypes/

Top Martial Arts Action Stars of the Century. (2011, March 2). Retrieved May 23, 2016, from http://www.imdb.com/list/ls000048950/

The meaning and origin of the expression: The Yellow Peril. (n.d.). Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/yellow-peril.html

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 May 24, 2016.

H. (2016). The Weird History of Asian Sex Stereotypes | Decoded | MTV News. Retrieved May 26, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HS2jGfW5aOE

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Young Adults Living with Parents…”As Seen on TV”

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Every day we make quick, snap judgments about the world around us based on preconceived ideas about products, politics, music, and people. One of the biggest contributors to these presumptions is mass media. Groups of people are often viewed in certain ways due to the way they are represented in television and movies.One such group Blog_Post_GIFis the community of young adults who live with their parents. Fifty years ago, this group was represented as a normal part of the nuclear family; however, modern media has inaccurately changed the image of young adults living with their parents into lazy opportunists, as depicted by movies like “Failure to Launch.”

What the Media Says

The first artifact that I analyzed was the show “Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.” This show depicts a family of four (Ozzie, Harriet, and two boys: Dave and Rick). The show ran from 1952 to 1966 so viewers got to see the two boys grow up, get married, and eventually move out. Before they moved out, though, they got stable jobs and dated. One episode stuck out in particular. In season nine, episode 4, both boys act independently despite living at home. They have their own funds to spend on meals and entertainment (even though they mom makes meals, too). There are even some episodes that they don’t appear much in because they are living their own lives. More importantly, their friends and girlfriends take no notice of the fact that they live at home. This would suggest that living with one’s parents as a young adult is not unusual. Rather, it is socially acceptable.The creator and writer, Ozzie Nelson, must have felt that young adults should stay home until they are ready (in this case get married). To many, though, this show is dated and just reflects the 50’s perfect suburbia. Thus, Nelson’s depiction of his household might be perceived as more of an ideal than a reality. Also, there might have been some bias since Nelson wrote and starred in the show. Nonetheless, Dave and Rick were depicted positively. They were made out to be hard working adults getting ready to leave the nest.This might have been a comedy, but the comedy didn’t come from the young adults, it came from a realistically quirky family.

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Season 9, Episode 4: https://www.viki.com/videos/1039297v-the-adventures-of-ozzie-harriet-his-brothers-girl-episode-55

It’s hard to believe that the 50’s and 60’s were 50 plus years ago. In that much time, it makes sense that media would change its depictions of many different groups. For stay-at-home young adults, though, the perception almost flipped completely. My second artifact was the 2006 movie “Failure to Launch.” This movie stars Matthew McConaughey, who plays a 30-something old adult who still lives with his parents. He has two other friends who also live with their parents (Demo and Ace). They live a very comfortable lifestyle. In the beginning, Tripp doesn’t have to worry about cooking, cleaning, errands, or other major responsibilities. The movie also barely shows the guys working. Instead, they are shown hanging out, hiking, rock climbing, playing paintball, and playing video games. This was a purposeful choice that shapes the image of these characters. When it comes to independence, he is in the sense that his social life is completely separate from that of his parents; however, he is extremely dependent on them for life’s necessities. The characters in the movie itself described them as lazy and selfish adults who took advantage of their parents and other people. In fact, Tripp’s own parents want him to move out. It is a comedy, but it consistently reinforces the stereotype that it establishes. I agree that some pressure is taken off by living with my parents, but I still have to work hard. Unlike the characters in the movie, I do have to help around the house, work hard at work/school, and balance my social life.

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Trailer: https://youtu.be/W5eADSOAwE4

The last artifact that I looked at was a series of interviews called “Grown and still at home: Why young adults are moving back home and staying longer” conducted by Yahoo Finance in 2015. The interviewer speaks to several young adults and their parents, whom they live with. All of the young adults had jobs but did not feel like they were financially able to be completely independent. Everyone who was interviewed pointed to the economy as the primary reason for living together with their parents. Each young adult in the interview said that they didn’t contribute much to the bills and barely did chores. Understandably, it can be difficult to gain stability in the economy, so contributing to the bills might be difficult. It’s interesting, though, that they brought up chores. It kind of showed a struggling, maybe even lazy, view of young adults living with parents. Yahoo chose who they wanted to interview and what to ask, which means they agree with the image that they depicted of this social group. Overall, Yahoo gave a more balanced view of young adults who live with parents; but the lazy opportunist stereotype was also presented.

By looking at media from the early days of television, pre-recession entertainment, and post-recession news, a trend becomes noticeable. In the mid-twentieth century, young adults were not looked down on for living at home. As time went on, society changed and so did its views. By the early 2000’s, that perception had transformed into the stereotype we see today: lazy opportunists. The Great Recession brought economic hardships, which justified this behavior. Unfortunately, it appears that negative stereotypes still persist.

Reality

For many young adults, moving away from one’s parents is just a part of life, but some decide to stay home with them a little longer. The reasons vary from person to person, but there are an increasing number of young adults living with their parents. In fact, the Pew Research Center reported that the percentage of young adults age 18 to 31 who live with parents is 36% (as of 2012) compared to 32% in 1968. Economic struggles and declining marriage rates are cited as major reasons for this trend. Enrollment has also increased a bit since the Great Recession. Economically, the unemployment for young adults is much higher proportionally than the rest of the population. To illustrate, those in the workforce age 16 to 34 have an unemployment rate of 51% despite making up around one-third of the population (Fry). Interestingly, employment has always been higher for young adults (Desilver). Could this trend be attributed to more than the economy?

It is possible that the changes within families are a factor. One of the most significant change was that “the share who were married and living with a spouse fell” dramatically (Fry). In 1968 about 56% of 18 to 31 year-olds were already married. The percentage was done to around 23% by 2012. Culturally, this makes sense. After World War II, “family structure in the 50’s was based around one central necessity: a secure life.” (Hussung). This lead to a very stable nuclear family and “children became emotional rather than economic assets.” (Hussung). Culture and family structure changed dramatically over the following decades. These attitudes meant that children were allowed to stay home until they were ready (in this case married and working). That has changed a bit from the idyllic 50’s. Now empty nest homes are much more normal. Also, singleness is now viewed as “…flexible in terms of moving in and out of their parents’ home…” (Qian 12).SDT-millennials-with-parents-08-2013-02.png More people might be staying home because they want to wait until they are able to explore life’s possibilities. Personally, I’m not avoiding responsibility. Rather, I’m just trying to find my barings before venturing into a quickly changing world.

Conclusion

The media has increasingly depicted young adults in a negative way. Through TV, movies, and even news, these young adults have been painted as lazy opportunists. Statistics and trends have offered another explanation for their decision to live with their parents. Economic and family conditions have changed dramatically since the idyllic 50’s. Maybe young adults just need some support while they begin to navigate the complicated world of work and social possibilities.

Learning Moments

This has ended up being my favorite SINQ classes because it has changed how I view everyday things. For starters, the “Influence of Advertising” unit in week 4 showed me the hidden messages behind the bombardment of media. I found the video “Ways of Seeing” especially enlightening. The video pointed out that advertising tries to sell you a fantasy by depicting a bright future and an unsatisfactory present. Now I can’t look at commercials without doing some analysis. One can almost imagine the marketing group’s pitch for the ad.

Another learning moment was in week 7 during the lesson on intellectual property. Before, I saw that issue as pretty straight forward. Anyone had the right to protect their ideas and thoughts. After watching the video, “Art in the Era of the Internet,”I understood that the issue is not black and white. Really there are instances where people should allow their content to be used so that creativity can be allowed to flourish. In other instances, people might want their content shared to spread awareness, but not taken advantage of financially. I really appreciated this class for expanding my perspective.

Sources

Ahn, Jeanie. Grown and Still at Home: Why Young Adults Are Moving Back Home and Staying Longer. Yahoo Finance. N.p., 30 Oct. 2015. Web. 01 May 2016.

DeSilver, Drew. For Young Americans, Unemployment Returns to Pre-recession Levels. Pew Research Center RSS. N.p., 2015. Web. 10 May 2016.

Failure to Launch. Dir. Tom Dey. Perf. Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker. Paramount Pictures, 2006.

Fry, Richard. A Rising Share of Young Adults Live in Their Parents’ Home. Pew Research Centers Social Demographic Trends Project RSS. N.p., 2013. Web. 17 May 2016.

Hussung, Tricia. The Evolution of American Family Structure. Concordia University St Paul Online. N.p., 2015. Web. 10 May 2016.

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Prod. Ozzie Nelson. Dir. Ozzie Nelson. Perf. Ozzie Nelson, Harriet Nelson, David Nelson, and Rick Nelson. Viki. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2016.

Qian, Zhenchao. During the Great Recession, More Young Adults Lived with Parents. US2010 Project (2012): 1-29. Web. 17 May 2016.

Science and Religion: What Does Pop Culture Have to Say?

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In the age where modes of media rapidly change and contribute to the shaping of culture, we as consumers and creators of culture ought to develop deeper understandings of the ideas that surround us. As a Christian and science student, one topic that I continually research is the religion and science discussion. This ever-changing story between religion and science—where they meet, where they disconnect, and what this relationship will look like as ideas advance—remains an increasingly prominent topic within contemporary society as a whole. The most dominant image within popular culture today is the idea of a great schism between religion and science, providing consumers of media with a skewed, incomplete image of this complex and long-standing relationship. Ultimately, failure to highlight the day to day reality in which the ideas of religion and science have intersected and cooperated can be stifling, putting an unnecessary limit to the degree in which a diverse society can work together.

The great discussion between science and religion contains a vast amount of branches and levels. Probably the most popular and flamboyant topic is about evolution and religion. However, it goes beyond evolution, present in all fields of science and in many forms. Ethics, research, philosophy, and even aspects like work team diversity are in some way impacted by the interactions of science and religion.

In 2014, one of the hottest topics to surface in this great discussion between science and religion was the live debate between scientist Bill Nye and intelligent design advocate Ken Ham. The purpose of this meeting is straightforward: it was an intellectual faceoff between two well-known thinkers in the creation discussion, debating topics like the age of the earth and differing worldviews in relation to science (Youtube).

On the debate’s cover image, the epic black and white portraits of Ham and Nye are pictured and divided by a solid orange bar, reminiscent of a scoreboard for a wrestling match. The purpose, content, and form of this debate sends a clear message to its vast audience: their fields of expertise are inevitably opposed. This message isn’t just offered to Ken Ham and Bill Nye enthusiasts; it’s also present in the popular Christian movie, God’s Not Dead.

In the main storyline, college student Josh Wheaton embarks on a journey to combat his angry atheist Professor Radisson and prove God’s existence to his entire philosophy class (Cronk). While the movie functions to reinforce the ideals of its Christian audience, the string of fiery debates between Christian student and atheist professor also relays the message evident in the Ham/Nye debate that this is a war—one wins, and the other loses. The story unfolds over the media like a dramatic relationship doomed to end in separation. To put it more broadly, the prevalent spirit of debate between religion and science within popular media transmits the idea that science and religion have no common ground, and therefore, animosity is inevitable.

From the front of popular culture media, it seems that this great, tense debate is the only way religion and science can interact with one another. However, this isn’t the case in all avenues, nor is it an idea reflected in all members of society. In a study by Baylor University, participants offered their response to the degree in which they agreed or disagreed to the question, “Are religion and science compatible?” The highest percentage, 48.4%, answered that they disagreed with this statement (Baylor).

In addition, research centers, such as the Krakow School in Poland, study the interactions between science and religion and how they can work together, highlighting that religion has played a role in the advancements of science, medieval reasoning to modern methods of science (Brozek). Searching beyond the surface reveals that there is more to the relationship between science and religion than debate and discordance.

Along with studies and research, TV shows and media sites are recently presenting a more multifaceted view. National Geographic aired a new series in 2016 called The Story of God, narrated by Morgan Freeman. In the episode, “Creation,” he interviews scientists and researchers from different backgrounds regarding their ideas on the relationship between religion and science.

http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/the-story-of-god-with-morgan-freeman/episodes/creation/

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Vatican Observatory astronomer and Catholic priest Giuseppe Tanzella-nitti offers his view on the evolutionary aspect of this discussion: “Creation, from a theological point of view, is perfectly compatible with the Big Bang, because you need [always] a first cause” (National Geographic).   

Similarly, the website “Closer to Truth” provides a thread of interviews and resources in which scientists and researchers from various backgrounds explore this topic. Molecular Biologist and Evangelical Christian Denis Alexander states,

“I see the relationship between religious knowledge and scientific knowledge as complementary. They’re very complementary narratives about the same reality. And the important thing is to not mix…the languages of the different narratives up.”

https://www.closertotruth.com/series/are-science-religion-war

 Alexander views this relationship as complementary—each with different roles (Alexander). TIME magazine’s article, “God vs. Science” by David Van Biema exhibits this same motif of science and religion as complementary. In the article, what first begins as a reflection on the prevalent societal idea of a “caged death match between science and God,” turns into a dialogue between well known contributors to science, Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins (Biema).

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Francis Collins

Houghton Mifflin provided this photo of Richard Dawkins, authror of `The God Delusion.' (AP Photo/Houghton Mifflin)

Houghton Mifflin provided this photo of Richard Dawkins, authror of `The God Delusion.’ (AP Photo/Houghton Mifflin)

Collins concludes,

“I find absolutely nothing in conflict between agreeing with Richard in practically all of this conclusions about the natural world, and also saying that I am still able to accept and embrace the possibility that there are answers that science isn’t able to provide about the natural world… that in no way compromises my ability to think rigorously as a scientist.”

Similar to Alexander’s counsel to distinguish between the languages of science and religion, Collins states that faith doesn’t diminish the capacity to do science.

Perhaps the greatest aspect popular culture consumers must be aware of is this: the most flagrant aspects of the science/religion discussion do not speak for the discussion in its entirety. While the debate between religion and science does exist, consumers of popular culture must recognize that the negative, antagonistic tone sometimes carried furthest and highest throughout the media is not true or accurate in all cases. It is not always a war.

In reality, the field of science is diverse, filled with people from many different backgrounds and worldviews. Collaboration between all these different views is what sparks continual conversation and further advancement of bright ideas. Media’s spotlighting of society’s loudest, sometimes most negative voices within the realm of religion and science doesn’t offer the full picture of how science and religion interact daily amongst people. Popular culture ought to reflect society’s diverse attitudes toward the religion and science discussion by portraying the many different ways in which this relationship continues to play out, including instances of opposition as well as compatibility. Debate is “healthy,” as Alexander says, insofar as it gets members of society thinking and collaborating. However, when the image of hostility or war between science and religion displayed in media is considered the whole picture of the story, discussion is stifled. Deliberation has been and continues to be a valuable tool in society’s propagation of new and bright ideas, and this should continue as religion and science continually cross paths.

 

Learning Moments:

From this class, I learned how we as popular culture consumers are heavily affected by our input of information. In week one, we discussed how the internet can be a tool to filter out viewpoints different from what we’ve been accustomed to.  We can tend to use sites, apps, and modes of media that best fit our views. In order to avoid this narrow influx of knowledge, diversity amongst thinkers and deeper, wider research is important to implement. I think that strongly relates to what my popular culture essay is all about: being aware of the diversity of knowledge regarding the topics that most affect us. Before making a judgment about a big contemporary topic or issue, different sources ought to be considered beyond mainstream headlines in order to gain a more substantial, multifaceted understanding of the situation.

The second lesson I learned from this class is our tendency as pop culture participants to detach a person from their portrayal in media. The excerpt, “Eliminate the Middleman” by Sara Vowell showed how we can create distorted impressions about people based on how they’re covered in the news, all while becoming less aware of their normality. Her work with George W. Bush was most interesting to me, as it shed light back onto the reality that there’s a lot more to people than what media portrays—but strangely, “a lot more” is really just the heart beneath the face on our TV screens. She shows a different side of Bush when she mentions his regular morning habits like drinking coffee and that he loves his dogs. Linking the face with the real person is difficult but important in today’s culture, considering that an extensive amount of interaction is now electronic. The synchronized meeting was a really good way putting this to practice: even on an online interface, it brought more original and lively elements to our discussions, reminding us that behind each of our profiles and screens is a real person.

 

References

“Are religion and science incompatible?” Baylor Religion Survey, 2007.

“Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham,” Youtube. Feb 4, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6kgvhG3AkI

Brożek, Bartosz, and Michael Heller. 2015. “Science and Religion in the Kraków School.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science. 50: 194–208.

David Van Biema. “God vs. Science,” TIME. Nov 5, 2006. http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1555132,00.html

Denis Alexander, “Are Science and Religion at War?” Closer to Truth. 2016.

Harold Cronk, God’s Not Dead. 2014. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2528814/

National Geographic, “Creation.” The Story of God with Morgan Freeman. April 24, 2016.

Embrace the Journey

By: Tam-Nguyen Nguyen

When I started this final project, I knew the topic of “how fathers are being portrayed” by the media was not on my identity brainstorming list in the workshop section. However, one of the readings for week 2, “The Evolution of Doltish Dad “written by Hanna Robin gave me the inspiration to make this topic one of my proposals. It all started at the end of her article when she got surprised by “the sight of a stay-at-home dad making hand-print T-shirts for the teachers in [her] preschool” (Robin 2012). This illustration raises a question of what it actually means a stay-at-home or a single dad.

In the 90s, the figure of dads has been portrayed as doltish widely for entertainment purposes in the media, especially in films and television shows. When it comes to housework and children in films and TV shows, dads are very clumsy, clunk, and often don’t know what they are doing. In which case, their core comedy comes from the doltishness of dads, and it’s one of the elements holding the successful factor of a film or a TV shows.  The trend of doltish dads has been really successful in term of entertainment and has brought laughter to audiences around the world. However, after fighting for their rights, moms have been able to work hard for what they desire to be in the outside world; on the other hand, dads have also realized that it’s a necessity for them to learn how to help their partners care for the house and children. The learning of these important tasks requires hard work and patience. As a result, the media has misrepresented the role of dad to its audiences.

Mrs. Doubtfire

The film, Mrs. Doubtfire, directed by Chris Columbus is a good example for how the doltish dad figure is being used to create funny moments. The story of the film revolves around the separation of a couple, Daniel Hillard portrayed by Robin Williams and Miranda Hillard portrayed by Sally Field. Because of his love for his children, Daniel decides to disguise himself as a nanny and plans to get hired by his ex-wife in order to be close to them. Throughout the film, the comedy revolves around scenes involving Daniel being clumsy and making silly mistakes while trying to fulfill his role as nanny. One of the funniest scenes in the film is when Daniel tries to prepare food for the family while his ex-wife is at work.  The scene contains a series of confusing and silly mistakes made by him in the kitchen, and it turns out be a disaster; in the end, he cheats by ordering take out. As an audience, we know under the disguised nanny is a dad, and here, the doltish dad figure has been used for entertainment purposes.

Stu

Behind the laughter that Mrs. Doubtfire brings to the table, critics point out the underline meaning of the film. In the Mrs. Doubtfire’s review on http://www.commonsensemedia.org, critics address “serious issue such as the perception that Daniel is a bad father because he doesn’t make a lot of money” (Mrs. Doubtfire 2003). Throughout the film, Daniel’s voice does not have much value in the society that he lives in, and his ideas are not taken seriously. On the other hand, we have other opposite male figure, Stu, who has the potential to become his ex-wife’s new husband. Stu’s character is portrayed align with what our society considers a successful man, wealthy, out-going, and intelligent. Throughout the film, Columbus compares in contrast the two male role models through the view of our society. Looking at the dad role in the family, we have Daniel, who loves and wants to bring happiness to his kids, but he is not so effective at earning money, and thus, he is portrayed as doltish and clumsy. Besides, we also have Stu, a person who possesses all of our social expectation of what a successful man should be. Even though Daniel is able to be with his kids more, which is his desire, we, the audience, still main an image of Daniel as being doltish.

 

In reality…

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On the other hand, the article, “The Challenge of Becoming a Single Father” written by Dave Taylor depict very different to the doltish dad figure portrayed by the media. Being a single father is a journey that once taken, a man will experience dramatic changes in his life; he will have to learn about things that he would never consider learning before, and he will have to assume both mom and dad role. Taylor’s journey started after many unsuccessful attempts to save his marriage, he and his wife decided to separate. Thus, he found himself “a single dad, with children who were 10, 6 and 3” (Taylor 2014). During the time of being a single dad, he recognized that he was not taught to “nurture and be empathetic” and he also had trouble creating rules and enforcing them. On the other hand, his ex-wife did not have any of his problems; she was fully capable of nurturing and being empathetic; she also “rarely had rules and hated to enforce them” (Taylor 2014). Fortunately, after seven years, he has learned how to be “tough when needed” but also “sympathetic” (Taylor 2014).

At first, I had trouble wrapping my head around why I felt so different when reading Taylor’s story than watching a movie about single dad like Mrs. Doubtfire. From Taylor’s story, I find that his initial experience and the doltish dad figure are similar in term of them both not knowing how to deal with housework and kids. However, the characteristics of doltish dads are clumsy and careless when it comes to housekeeping; whereas in reality, being a single father or a stay-at-home dad requires a tremendous amount of afford to learn because it requires one to fulfill the roles of both father and mother; it’s a difficult challenge that one must embrace in order to become a single parent. Hence, the doltish dad figure portrayed by the media misrepresents the spirit of being a single father; it’s a challenge, not a joke.

In referencing back to the article, “The Evolution of Doltish Dad”, Robins points out issues coming from a large amount of movies and TV shows that “over the last 60 years woman have rapidly changed their role in the public domain, from Mary Tyler Moore to Murphy Brown to Hannah Horvath” but on the other hand, the dad’s role in the media has “[evolved] but only in tiny increments, and very slowly” (Robin 2012). The doltish dad figure portrayed in the media embraces the social aspect that men are not built for housekeeping, only the doltish ones have to deal with housekeeping and they look idiotic when they do so.

Cary Grant and Daughter Jennifer, circa 1969 (Photo Credit: knopfdoubleday/Flickr)

In article written by Walkinst,“5 Celebrity Dads Who Retired From Hollywood to Raise Their Kids”, he discusses the lives of 5 celebrity fathers., who gave up their Hollywood career in order to fully care for their children. These single dads are not idiots who have nothing to with their lives that we usually see in movies or TV shows; they were wealthy, successful and intelligence people, who decided that their children were more important to them than their own success. Unfortunately, even though their sacrifice might be understood by people, many non-famous single dads don’t get the attention that they deserve in the media, especially in movies and TV shows.

Our current social stereotypes believe that the female partner is more likely to be better at nurturing and housekeeping. However, the music video, “Blurry” performed by the band Puddle of Mudd is one of the rare popular artifacts that proves otherwise. In the video, the father desires to be with his son, and he treasures every moment with him. We also see the smile on the boy’s face whenever he is with his dad.  On the other hand, the mom struggles to keep her new family together, and all we can see on the boy’s face is sadness and loneliness. While watching the video, I was wondering why the dad does not have the right to care for his child. The reason can be interpreted differently from audience to audience, but one thing we know, is the case where we, as an outsider won’t understand. Thus, measuring one’s ability to take care of the children should not only be based on gender; dads can also be good at “nurturing” and “being empathetic”.

The Doltish Dad figure has been used for entertainment purposes for decades, and it seems to be successful in term of reaching to a wide range of audiences. However, because of the success of this depiction, the doltish dad figure has been overly used and perpetuated a stereotype which diminishes the value of dad’s role. Being a dad, a single dad, or a stay-at-home dad is a journey, a challenge that one decides to take, and the media should portray the dad’s role to reflect the spirit of being a dad, not a joke.

Learning moment

Over the course of this class, I have realized how vulnerable we are. Movies, TV shows, news, commercials, and many other things provided by the media all influence our ways of thinking and being one way or the other. Because we are surrounded by the media almost everywhere we go, being able to recognize and analyze what direction the media is attempting to lead us to is a very important ability to have, especially in America.

References

Columbus, C. (Director), Williams, M. G., Williams, R., & Radcliffe, M. (Producers), & Singer, R. M. (Writer). (1993). Mrs. Doubtfire [Motion picture on DVD]. United States: Twentieth Century Fox.

Mrs. Doubtfire – Movie Review. (2003, July 13). Retrieved May 09, 2016, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/mrs-doubtfire

Rosin, H. (2012, June 15). TV and Film’s Doltish Dad Gets a Makeover. Retrieved June 01, 2016, from http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/06/what_to_expect_and_up_all_night_the_doltish_dad_on_screen_is_changing_.html
Scantlin, W., & Ardito, D. (2001). [Recorded by J. Allen]. Blurry. American. Retrieved May 31, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im66_xLTZGM
Taylor, D. (2014, March 4). The Challenge of Becoming a Single Father. Retrieved June 01, 2016, from http://www.fatherhood.org/fatherhood/the-challenge-of-becoming-a-single-father
W. (2015, August 16). 5 Celebrity Dads Who Retired From Hollywood to Raise Their Kids. Retrieved June 01, 2016, from http://tinseltownmom.com/5-celebrity-dads-who-retired-from-hollywood-to-raise-their-kids/

Put away that bright Aloha T-shirt- Pacific Islander Representation in Pop Culture

Over the course of this class, I have taken in deep consideration of the pieces that make up who I am. It is no surprise to me that the strongest thing I identify as, is being Hawaiian. Now, more than ever, you will come across a Hawaiian or Pacific Islander in your classroom or daily life. Like other races, the chances are, you have a few stereotypes that you immediately thought of.  I won’t be able to tell you everything about a Pacific Islander or Hawaiian throughout this blog post, but that isn’t my goal. Throughout this blog post, I hope to inform you of the current stereotypes that are being portrayed and make you aware that not everything we see, even if it’s from a known source, shouldn’t be taken without thought.

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As a Pacific Islander (PI), I have developed critical lens about how my race is portrayed in Popular Culture. There are many popular movies of the Pacific Islanders that are based on their cultures and traditions both accurately and stereotypically. I have decided to closely evaluate the popular culture artifacts Blue Crush, Johnny Tsunami, and Lilo and Stitch. As you see the following covers of the movie, you can notice that they all take place at the beach and with surfboards. The beach is a important aspect of all of these movies, as they are to Pacific Islanders, they are not all they have to offer.

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On the cover of Johnny Tsunami, you can see Johnny Kapahaala, a local Hawaiian, surfing on his bright board while he wears a floral blue swim shorts along with a bright orange floral “Hawaiian T-shirt”. As someone who knows nothing about the Hawaiian culture, you would think that this an accurate aspect of our culture– not necessarily the case though! You would rarely ever find a local wearing that clothing combination, unless for Tourism Day during Spirit Week.

Although these films may be based in Hawaii, the accuracy of these portrayals is very slim. I think the safest way to approach a situation that you may not know a lot about regarding the person or cultures involved is by asking questions and entering that situation with no assumptions. I’m well aware of the movie industry forming their films to satisfy the needs of the audiences, but I don’t think there is any harm in portraying these ideas in a matter that is appealing to the locals as well as the people who have no idea what to think.

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There are a number of basic stereotypes of Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders that are developed when viewing these movies such as:

  • All Hawaiians know how to “do the Hula”
  • All Hawaiians grow pineapples and coconuts
  • All Hawaiians LOVE to surf and,
  • All Pacific Islanders are naturally gifted musicians that can play the ukulele.

Yes, there are many Native Hawaiians and locals that can do all of the above and yeah we almost all can agree to at least one of these things, but it doesn’t make it right to generalize the entire culture entirely.

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Before this project, I viewed my three primary sources as movies that were made for pure enjoyment. After observing these films with critical lens, I asked some of my friends that aren’t from the islands to tell me about their feelings or some stereotypes that came to mind when they viewed it and they all mentioned the ones above. I wouldn’t say these stereotypes are negative thoughts, but it doesn’t make them alright nonetheless. The movie industry should be more careful about the way they portray things because there are cases that can directly affect a cultural group by the way they are portrayed in the “big lights”.

I also noticed a few other patterns regarding Pacific Islanders and the way we are represented in Popular Culture. These patterns consist of issues such as:

  • When Pacific Islanders actors and actresses are casted for a movie, they are completely stripped of their Pacific Islander characteristics.
    • This could include straightening or “taming their hair” or covering our traditional tatau, or tattoos, with stereotypical tattoos.
  • In movies about the Pacific Islander cultures, the actors/actresses that are playing the “local” is usually a person that has little to no knowledge of our culture or traditions. This pattern that I noticed is supported by the following movies and actors/actresses.
    • Daveigh Chase, voice of Lilo, born in Las Vegas, NV.
    • Brandon Baker, Johnny Kapahaala in Johnny Tsunami, born in Orange County, CA.
    • Kate Bosworth, Anne Marie in Blue Crush, born in Los Angeles, CA.

I think this problem has a lot to do with the movie industry not reaching out to the Hawaiian and local community when doing casting along with Hawaiians and locals not being suited enough to complete the job. This issue also ties into the presence of Pacific Islanders in the classroom and work environment. Despite the increase of the Asian Pacific Islander (API) presence as students and faculty, we are still at a low representation (under 1% of total population) (Goodwin, 2000). The movie industry has been showing improvement and they have heard our requests. They have recently conducted a casting in Hawaii to find the star voice of their new movie, Moana, a story of a Polynesian princess and her epic adventure across the ocean. This is the first movie of the star of the movie, being a local that is knowledgable and respecting of our cultures and traditions.hqdefault

In Paradise remade the politics of culture and history in Hawai’i, “the problemization of the liberal progressive view of the islands– that Hawai’i can retain its beauty and charm and at the same time become the center of Pacific tourism and development” (Buck, pg. 32). Tourism in Hawaii is at an all time high and getting more tourists in a day compared to the other Pacific Islands in a year. The tourism industry in Hawaii is often faced with the dilemma of satisfying the tourists and their stereotypes or breaking those stereotypes in hopes that tourists would appreciate our true culture.

Pacific Islanders are facing a lot of issues regarding our identity and portrayal, along with the control and representation of the stereotypes that have developed over the years. I couldn’t find a direct topic to focus on because ever issue is related to each other. The only way to solve one topic, we have to use our critical lens and evaluate the picture as a whole. Through this project, I was able to identify issues that are most dear to me and develop possible solutions to help this identity as a whole. I think a common and very important skill that we learned in this class is the ability to see a popular culture artifact and evaluate the purpose and motives the author created. I wasn’t aware of the issues my identity has faced and I definitely didn’t take into consideration that people took the movie representations so seriously. We are all unconsciously making assumptions and judgements based on people’s appearances, I believe it is a natural thing to do as humans. I think that if you are able to enter a conversation with those assumptions and judgements and still be open-minded and willing to accept that your thoughts may be incorrect.

Learning Moment

With all the social media and interaction with popular culture on the daily basis, I have realized that I do not evaluate it nearly enough as I should. This class has taught me that every post, article, advertisement, and more, went through a process to make sure it would reach the correct audience and leave them with a feeling that the producers wanted you to be left with. This class also taught me a lot about myself and the way I view things, things that interest me, and things that I identify as. These types of decisions that are made unconsciously are usually left unevaluated and sometimes even unacknowledged. It was really nice to be able to identify these things and evaluate the reasons I feel that way. There were many “ah-ha” moments throughout the class discussions because of the ideas that were brought up that I wouldn’t normally think about. An example of this moment was during Week 5, we were evaluating “The News”. I found it very interesting how news is one of the most important aspect to some peoples lives but in our society, I find it that the news broadcast things that we want to know rather than the things we need to know. To think that there are crimes, incidents, breakout moments, and a bunch of other news worthy events happening around the world, to only be informed about Justin Bieber’s new tattoo on his face, it baffles me.

Overall, I am happy to be able to take away critical lens from this class and utilize this feature in my daily life class. I always lived my life as a “go with the flow” type of mentality, where I would only care about the things that directly affected me. This class taught me that the things that have nothing to do with me, have an impact on me, even if indirectly. As a business major, I am often required to present things in a formal strict formatting that has no wiggle room as to where I can be creative. I struggled with this aspect at the beginning of class because I had to stray away from the way of writing I have been drilled with over these past two years. This was a great learning moment for me because it showed me how much I am capable of, and that with a little practice, it can’t be that hard. I appreciate having this skill now and I hope that I can continue practicing this and developing a more creative mindset. I can see myself using the online skills that I learned through this community in my future endeavors. I feel like online classes are a “hit or miss” in the sense of whether or not there is a strong community sense and the students interact successfully. I really enjoyed this class and the relationships you develop throughout the weekly discussions and blog posts. When we first started our comments, we used the usernames that were provided but as the weeks went by, I noticed each other getting comfortable with each other and using our first names or nicknames and I thought that was very interesting to see unravel. It was an amazing experience to be able to grow in my learning alongside my “Workshop” while still being able to check in with the wider class with our blog posts.

Thank you all,

Zee

Works Cited

Boyum, Steve, dir. Johnny Tsunami. Film Roman Productions, 1999. TV Movie.

Buck, Elizabeth B. Paradise remade the politics of culture and history in Hawai’i. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993. Pages 31-49. Web. May 23, 2016. https://muse.jhu.edu/book/9437

DeBlois, Dean and Sanders, Chris, dirs. Lilo & Stitch. Walt Disney Pictures, 2002. Film.

Goodwin, A. Lin, “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Teaching”, Eric Clearinghouse on Urban Education, New York, NY. January 20, 1995. Web. Accessed on April 28, 2016.

Stockwell, John, dir. Blue Crush. Universal Pictures, 2002. Film.

Sun, Amy. “3 Myths about Hawaiians You Ought to Know Before Visiting Paradise”. Everyday Feminism. Blog Post. May 24, 2016. http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/01/myths-about-native-hawaiians/

 

The Perception and Stereotype of Modern Day Rednecks

The Perception and Stereotype of Modern Day Rednecks

By Carson Pickett Popular Culture. Daneen B.

“The challenge for “real” rednecks lies in breaking free of the expected parameters of the identity. With the long circulation of functional stereotype pasted onto the identity, writers from Appalachia and the South who do not exhibit the expected identity characteristics face narrative obscurity. I argue that by giving credence to the individuals who write back against Redneck stereotypes, the identity can be wrested free from its current ideological functions (Ferrence, 2014).”

Picture this: You are walking down the sidewalk with your friends when you see an older gentleman with a beard and a beer belly wearing dirty overalls and a torn up t-shirt. He smiles at you and your friends with a big, toothless grin and says, “Howdy y’all!” in a thick southern accent. What is your first impression of this man? Hillbilly, dirty, poor, crazy? Whatever your initial judgments might be, they would likely agree with the modern day perception of a stereotypical redneck. Today, people are more familiar with the kind of rednecks that are portrayed in popular culture. Some examples of these portrayals are the comedian, Larry the Cable Guy, the reality TV-show Duck Dynasty, and even popular country songs such as Redneck Woman. How people commonly picture rednecks is often misconstrued due to the exaggerated modern-day portrayals of this stereotype in popular media.

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Larry the Cable Guy might be more easily recognized by his coined phrase, “GIT-R-DONE.” Larry also talks in a thick southern accent. He typically wears a ratted plaid button up shirt with the sleeves cut off and usually has a drink in his hand. His shows consist of him making jokes about white trash, work, and just redneck life in general.The portrayal of this alter ego on stage is where a lot of people developed their perspective of rednecks.

In Matthew Ferrence’s book, All-American Redneck, he thoroughly describes Whitney’s character and how it affects audiences. Ferrence states that Larry the Cable Guy has become the most popular and clear-cut redneck comedic. Larry is an overweight man that wears a sleeveless plaid shirt, a camo ball cap, and a Confederate battle flag. This simplified image offered to audiences renders America toward the Redneck (Ferrence, 2014). Larry maintains the narrowed scope of the Redneck identity and supports the stereotype of the white, rural, racist homophobic male.

Ferrence states that Larry is clearly an exaggerated version of the Redneck, but the audience nonetheless laughs and participates with him. Many audience members can be seen wearing the Confederate battle flag hat that Larry does, or wearing his slogan, “Git’r done” on their shirts (Ferrence, 2014). Ferrence then takes his analysis in another direction and goes on to explain that Larry’s redneck identity is used to conceal the racism America. He fits the image of Redneck Racist that offers an explanation and support for continuing racism. Thus, Larry makes it safe for his audience to support racism since he is the one making the statements, not them. This makes it so the images of the working class converge with the maintenance of white supremacy, and further supports the idea that rednecks are racist. “Championed as the mighty Redneck resistance against the dangers of an America gone soft, Larry speaks the “truth” that the audience wants to be able to utter in their daily lives (Ferrence, 2014).”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the TV show Duck Dynasty brings a more PG light to the redneck stereotype.

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Duck Dynasty is comical show about a family of redneck millionaires living in a rural part of Louisiana. Similar to Larry the Cable Guy, each family member in the show has a thick southern accent and frequently uses incorrect grammar. One may notice that every adult male in the show has a long beard, and the majority also have long hair. They are also most commonly filmed wearing a hat, bandana, fur or camouflage. The way these characters look and dress also add to the audience’s idea that rednecks are poorly groomed. In other words, people see these guys on TV who are representing rednecks and get the idea that if you have a beard, wear camo, talk with an accent and aren’t very well groomed, you must also be a redneck.

The Robertsons are a big family that seem to always be with each other. This seems to be a common trait among redneck culture. In Bultman’s book, Redneck Heaven, she explained that one could often see 3 or 4 generations of a redneck family out in public together. She also stated the common act of the family openly sharing affection and pleasure in each other’s company (Bultman, 1996). This is also often the case with this redneck family.

Phil, one of the patriarchs of the family, wrote a book describing life before and after the TV show. Phil mentions the show’s producers were throwing ideas around about a new reality TV show and Phil jokingly says, “They said, why not one about a functional family?” and so they came to the Robertsons (Robertson, 2013). He also claims that, “Except for our manly appearances, it might not seem that we’re all that different from everyone else.” Phil’s son Jep also chimes in with a statement about his childhood. “I guess growing up in the Robertson household was like growing up in a lot of American households. Since I was really young, we were skinning fish, cleaning squirrels and picking dewberries. They were everyday events. Okay, so maybe my upbringing was a little atypical (Robertson, 2013).” Bottom line: the audience views these characters completely differently than they view themselves. “To the men of the Robertson clan, the term “redneck” is not a pejorative; rather, it signifies honor, love of one’s family, and dedication to their land and hunting (Narro, et al., 2014).” The Robertson’s are proud of the way they are. That sense of pride leads me to this next source.

 

 

For those who haven’t heard Gretchen Wilson’s song, Redneck Woman, or seen the music video, here you go: (https://youtu.be/82dDnv9zeLs). The video begins with a scene of Gretchen and other riding four wheelers through the river and mud. She is wearing dirty, ripped jeans and an old ball cap with her hair pulled back in a ponytail. The video then switches to her playing the song on stage at a concert. While she is playing, she is wearing jeans and a plain t-shirt with her hair down and her makeup done. The video continues to switch scenes back and forth between the four wheelers in the mud and her concert. There are also flashes of some scenes of a trailer park, people drinking beer, motorcycles, and her muddy truck.

The outfit Gretchen is originally shown wearing makes quite a statement about “redneck women.” She is the only woman playing in the dirt with the boys and is wearing jeans and a hat just like they are. The fact that the video then switches to her looking absolutely beautiful in just a t-shirt and jeans at her concert just adds to the effect of her lyrics. The video is showing that she is a redneck because she can go out and get dirty but she’s proud of who she is because she can then go get dressed up and still look beautiful without all the makeup and expensive brand names.

Gretchen Wilson’s identity literally became the Redneck Woman. It was the tag line that introduced her to the public. Wilson’s song remade the identity of a white, working-class female into one that was bereaved of status (Hubbs, 2011). The record affirms the distinctiveness and legitimacy of the Redneck Woman. “It offers moments of burlesque in lyrics touting the narrator’s unrepentant year-round Christmas displays, barefoot baby-toting, and preference for cheap Walmart lingerie. But it stakes serious claims for her resourcefulness, country affiliations and tastes, desirability, and, especially, agency (Hubbs, 2011).” The song works to remodel this social identity by rebuking a downward gaze. It intends to demolish the dominant class’s lowly perspective of this culture while also raising morale and pride among fellow rednecks.

This sense of Redneck pride originates from many sources and events. The following is an excerpt from Huber’s Redneck: A Short Note From American Labor History, which provides one example of the origination of redneck pride.

Union coal miners wore red handkerchiefs around their necks in order to avoid sunburn. Thus, this group was infamously nicknamed “rednecks (Huber, 1994).” The miners responded to this disdainful name by proudly adopting it as a badge of honor. The red handkerchief served as a symbol to identify the coal miners as a group. It was also a major symbol of the U.S. labor movement. In the midst of the movement, even workers of Italian descent tied red handkerchiefs around their necks in a display of racial and interethnic solidarity against the coal mining companies, thus shifting focus from ethnicity to the unifying red handkerchief. The organized miners proudly referred to themselves as rednecks to distinguish themselves from the strikebreakers, or “scabs (Huber, 1994).

Conclusion

One may spot some similarities in the previous sources that all contribute redneck stereotype. At one point or another, all characters of the media sources wear ratty, dirty or muddy clothing. They also all speak with southern accents and use slang such as y’all, yee haw, hell yeah, etc. Each person also states the pride they take in being the way they are. For example, Gretchen makes it obvious how proud she is of being a “redneck woman” and not a “high-class broad.” The Robertson family also claims how happy they are to be able to live the way they do.

Upon searching the term redneck in Google, one might first see the following images:

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The way rednecks are depicted in my original media sources only add to the stereotypical images above. However, they each give deeper insight into the lives of rednecks and also allow viewers to see that they aren’t just poor, unintelligent hillbillies with poor hygiene and missing teeth. Some actually have money and are smart, but also proud of the way they are.

So, what is the actual definition of redneck? Some may say a redneck is a toothless, white-trash hillbilly. Some may say, “redneck is a synonym for dumber-than-spit hair trigger racists (Bultman, 1996).” Some may say a redneck is backward, dirty, lazy, and crass. Although the idea of the redneck may be traced historically as a s term assigned to a sun burned Southern laborer or to a striking coal miner wearing a red handkerchief, a single representation of the word cannot be defined (Ferrence, 2014).

Redneck is a label applied to separate a certain class away from the mainstream. But equally notable is that contemporary use of the term is often quite positive. Think, here, of Gretchen Wilson’s celebratory country song “Redneck Woman” or the wildly popular Blue Collar Comedy Tour. In these instances, individuals proudly proclaim their own redneck position as a means to self- identify as different from a mainstream viewed as corrupt or too urbane or simply undesirable. In this sense, a new definition of the redneck as hero emerges, complicated by the self-avowal with which it is applied (Ferrence, 2014).”

While the redneck image originally came from white Southern and Appalachian roots, the modern day identity has no geographical bounds. “Anyone in America may safely claim the title of “redneck,” regardless of origin, locale, or social position (Ferrence, 2014).”No matter where you’re from, no matter your economic or social background, you can claim the redneck identity as long as you act the part.

However, the stereotypes still follow the title. Even while the function of the image shifted over time, the limits of the redneck stereotype remained clear (Ferrence, 2014). Camouflage, pickup trucks, incest, chewing tobacco and NASCAR may always be stereotypically associated with this identity.

Rednecks seem to be everywhere these days. Some individuals adopt the title as a mark of pride, while others assume the title to rail against degenerates in the woods. Redneck can simultaneously identify a person as Southern, racist, or poor and positively define a person as self-reliant and patriotic (Ferrence, 2014). The term is available for the humor of popular TV shows and media, just as it is also available as a description of lower classes, or as a badge of honor tapping into a historical resistance. This is why the term redneck is so difficult to define.

How this applies to me

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Even though I wear boots and was raised on ranches,

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and even though my friends and I sometimes shoot and skin squirrels for fun,

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I am not a true redneck. There are definitely some redneck aspects to my identity, but I am too much of a city girl to be a true, southern redneck.

However, there is a part of me that will always be categorized under the redneck category. Like my sources stated, family is very important in redneck culture. My family is one of the most important aspects of my life. They are the reason I am the way I am today. I have so much pride for my family name and everything that comes along with it. From successes to hardships, I draw strength from it all. We rope, ride, shoot, and even ride in broken wheelbarrows behind the four-wheeler for fun. We may not be the most conventional family, but there is not one aspect I would change about who we are, what we came from, or what we represent.

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I guess redneck pride is a real thing, even if I’m not a true, southern redneck. I wouldn’t change my redneck heritage for anything.

Learning moments

So many aspects of this term really got me thinking about how my life and views are affected by popular culture. I honestly haven’t looked at advertisements the same since! One moment in particular that stuck out to me this term was when we reflected on the commercials that evoked personal emotions. I was able to look back at a commercial that I have never been able to get out of my head and then actually reflect on why it had such a big impact on me. I was also pretty excited that next week when my evaluation was used as an example on the following week’s blog post.

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This review also helped me realize what makes advertisements in general the most impactful and effective.

The second most memorable moment for me this term may seem pretty nerdy, but I was really excited about it. When we needed to find secondary sources to back up or argue against our primary sources, I really struggled at first. I had the hardest time finding anything related to my original sources and on top of that, I couldn’t figure out how to use the library’s website the way we were instructed to. After hours of trying different ways to search for sources and also after asked Kim questions, it clicked! I even figured out how to get an unavailable book shipped to the library (and now I have like 7 books on rednecks/duck dynasty etc.)! This may have been easy for others in my class, but for me I wasn’t at all. Learning the hard way is somehow more impactful for me anyhow ;).

The techniques I have learned in the class will definitely help me with the rest of my studies. I learned how to analyze news media and advertisements as well as how to correctly search for and utilize sources. Overall, this term has been pretty good to me!

 

References

Bultman, B. (1996). Redneck heaven: Portrait of a vanishing culture. NY: Bantam Books.

Ferrence, M. J.(2014). All-American Redneck: Variations on an Icon, from James Fenimore Cooper to the Dixie Chicks. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press. Retrieved May 31, 2016, from Project MUSE database.

Hubbs, N. (2011). “Redneck Woman” and the Gendered Poetics of Class Rebellion. Southern Cultures 17(4), 44-70. The University of North Carolina Press. Retrieved May 31, 2016, from Project MUSE database.

Huber, P. (1994). Redneck: A short note from American labor history. Duke University Press. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/455956

Narro, A., Slade, A., Buchanan, B. (2014). Reality television: Oddities of culture. Plymouth, UK: Lexington Books.

Robertson, P. (2013). Happy, happy, happy. New York, NY: Howard Books.

 

 

 

A Deeper Look Into How Social Media Portrays The Mental Health of College Students

How Social Media Inaccurately Portrays the Mental Health of College Students:

A society can be defined as a group of people involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations (Wikipedia). As a college student it is common to feel the intense social pressures that are associated with being part of a society. These social pressures to “fit in” and be “normal” are the fundamental problems that ultimately lead to an increase in poor mental health that is often seen in today’s society. Current social media platforms are often at the forefront of depicting this image of college students. In my opinion, my identity as a college student is being misrepresented in numerous different social media platforms. The Social Network and Accepted are two well-known movies that inaccurately portray the mental health of college students by showing main characters that are subject to extreme self-consciousness, social anxiety and conforming to the social pressures of society.

The Social Network is an American biographical drama film released in 2010 depicting the creation of Facebook through the eyes of Mark Zuckerberg, the mastermind behind the world’s largest social network. The main purpose is to tell the story of how Facebook became a $44.2-billion-dollar company with 1.59 billion monthly active users. A key theme I noticed within the movie is how they portrayed Mark Zuckerberg as being an arrogant, rude, and offensive college student that wanted nothing more than to fit in and be “cool.”

A billion dollars is cool meme

After extensive research, I discovered a movie review of The Social Network written on WordPress.com titled “Why The Social Network Should Win Best Picture” by Joseph Donovan. Donovan is a member of the Ave Maria University Film Society and offers a great perspective of the movie. Donovan presents some very interesting ideas bringing in the terms “internet generation” and “microcosm” to describe the Mark Zuckerberg character. He describes social media as a “revolutionary way to communicate, a way which for the most part was free, uncensored, and anonymous.” Throughout the post Donovan mentions numerous ideas about Mark Zuckerberg, one time stating “It can be argued that the entire motivation for developing Facebook came from a feeling of social and personal insignificance.” He supports this idea by drawing on the scenes where Mark Zuckerberg’s character is rejected from prestigious Harvard final clubs. He also presents the idea that “Zuckerberg channels his pains of jealousy into his programming, in an angry attempt to ‘distinguish himself’ in a world where ‘social structure is everything’.” He wraps the review up by saying that “the vague dichotomy between ‘cool’ and ‘uncool’ is what defines Zuckerberg’s philosophy throughout the film.”

In my opinion, I feel that Donovan shed light on a very interesting perspective of the movie. His main points support the idea that there are many college students that have mental health issues such as feeling social and personal insignificance and that can look to address these issues through social media. The movie promotes the generalization that college students are subject to conforming to social structure and that they are self-centered people who obsess over their self-image and persona. It is true that some college students obsess over their self-image and persona, but at Portland State University I haven’t noticed it all too much. I think that the students at PSU are more diverse and unique in comparison to students at other colleges. Many of the students don’t care about what people think of them but rather hold value in doing the things they love to do. This movie creates a false generalization about college students and the way they act.

500 million friends meme

Accepted is an American comedy film that was released in mid-August of 2006. The movie is centered around a group of high school graduates who are unfortunately rejected from all of the colleges in which they applied. Being subject to the social pressures of society as well as the pressure of their parents, the group strives to satisfy this societal approval by creating a fake college in which they can “attend.” The story continues to unfold when unexpectedly hundreds of rejected college students are accepted to their fake college institution.

Accepted movie poster

“When every college turned them down… they made on up” – Accepted

After doing some research on the movie I discovered two movie reviews that uncover some of the main underlying themes and real life societal stereotypes of college students depicted in this film. In the New York Times movie review it mentions that this is a movie about a high school poster child of corporate anti-conformity. I agree with this idea simply because it is obvious that it is addressing the common societal expectation of going to college and becoming a successful person. I think it is something that many kids are pressured with today simply because college is much more accessible in this era. Back in the day, it was rare to go to college. College wasn’t something that was expected of students in the previous generations. The idea of corporate anti-conformity is seen as a problem which ultimately results in mental health issues for college students.

The plugged in article also mentions a few great ideas. It drew from the fact that the dean of the real Harmon college wants to eliminate half of the campus housing so that he can reject many students and be as prestigious as Yale. I think that is a very important idea to analyze. Colleges these days are so worried about being the most prestigious that they aren’t aware of the role it plays in students’ lives. The article concludes by stating that “Accepted wants to be about rebels who fight authority and scream that the rigid structure of formal education is at odds with the passionate flow of unencumbered creativity.” I believe that this movie portrays the common struggles of being a college student and the social pressures of being “accepted.” The movie inaccurately represents the lengths in which students will go in order to conform to the general academic views of society and ultimately makes it seem like college students have poor mental health. Students these days take great pride in working hard and attending the college of their dreams. From personal experience, I know that college students don’t generally do this when they aren’t accepted into their initial desired colleges.

Overall, today’s social media often depicts college students based off of some stereotype whether it’s the partier, the brainiac or everything in between. But the core underlying theme is that each of these stereotypes is associated with some type of mental health issue. For example, the partier is always worried about what others think of them and posting the best Instagram picture, and the brainiac is always the smartest person in the room but also the quietest and most socially awkward. For example, it’s unheard of in society to have star athletes also be known for their academic excellence, or brainiacs as the most popular kids in school. I personally feel that my identity as a college student is being misrepresented and that it is a growing problem. I understand that people often find it entertaining to see these types of stereotypes depicted in movies, but if you take a step back you realize that these movies act as a frame for who you are in society and which stereotype you fit into. In a sense, these movies limit who you can be as a person by telling you what you can and cannot do. In reality, college students can be whoever they want to be. Students can study anything they want which is why people say college helps you find out who you really are. Society should encourage students to find out who they truly are rather than making them conform to one of the many stereotypes. In conclusion, I think that portraying college students as having poor mental health or matching them to the common societal stereotypes is deteriorating society as a whole.

How Social Media Has the Potential to Create Mental Health Issues for College Students:

“Social Media Is Changing How College Students Deal with Mental Health, For Better Or Worse” is an article published by the Huffington Post: College Edition and is written by Riley Griffin, a sophomore at Duke University. The article targets the effects that social media has upon the mental health of college students. I think this article is important because it shows the relationship between social media and college students. It doesn’t necessarily state that not social media portrays college students as having mental health issues but rather that the college students themselves can use social media to create mental health issues. It draws on one situation in which a female at Duke University experienced the social pressures of being a freshman in college. She found it difficult to adjust to college life and relied on social media platforms as an escape from reality. She expressed that “In the current college culture, ‘the perfect girl on Instagram’ looks like she’s having ‘so much fun,’ has more followers than she is following, and collects ‘likes’ in nanoseconds.” The article states that “College students today are more detached from their peers than ever before. Research shows they’re less likely to have tangible relationships; enter college having spent less time socializing as teens; are more likely to be heavily medicated; and feel a greater pressure to be academically and socially successful than in the past.” According to Experian Simmons, a consumer insight service, more than 98% of college-aged students use social media. In conclusion, this article offers a valuable perspective on the social media vs. college students situation by demonstrating that many college students actually have poor mental conditions and that a good portion of it stems from social media. Although some may suffer from these conditions, I feel that it is not just to associate all college students in social media with poor mental health conditions as it makes the stereotype even larger. The following article is written by Katlyn Tolly and supports some of the same ideas that are presented in this article.

Social media use

X Axis: Year (2005-2015)     Y Axis: % on Social Media (0-100)

“Does Social Media Affect Students Self Esteem” is an interesting article I found browsing the USA Today: College website that supports some of the same ideas in the article presented above. As mentioned earlier, this article is written by Katlyn Tolly, a student at Columbia College Chicago studying journalism and marketing. The purpose of the article is to highlight the idea that social media is negatively affecting college students and has the potential to create mental health issues. The article addresses this idea by surveying 23 college students, 20 of which believed that social media caused anxiety or added stress to college students lives. I thought it was interesting how they highlighted that students have experienced anxiety when looking at other student’s pictures. After further reading, I found that it wasn’t simply because of seeing a picture, but that the anxiety stemmed more from jealousy, comparison and the fear of missing out. It initially sounds odd, but it is something that I have experienced and I am sure that many other people have as well. When walking through the campus of Portland State University, it is common to see students using social media sites. Normally they are either looking at pictures posted by their friends or posting photos themselves. This contributes to the never ending circle of envy and jealousy. Seeing a picture of your friends adventuring and having fun while you are studying can create negative vibes and ultimately result in mental health issues. In conclusion, this source supports the idea that college students play the main role in social media usage and how it affects them.

Conclusion:

After analyzing both my primary and secondary sources, I have came to the conclusion that there is definitely a problem in today’s popular culture that negatively affects college students. The misrepresentation of college students and their mental health through social media has the potential to make this issue even larger. Based on my personal experience as a college student, many of the stereotypes that were alluded to in The Social Network and Accepted were not necessarily accurate when comparing them to students at Portland State University. Many of the party goers that are depicted in these two films aren’t common at Portland State. By stereotyping college students, it gives the entire college student population a bad reputation. Many of my peers at Portland State are very hardworking and take pride in the work they do. I think that there needs to be a better representation of ALL college students so all of them can feel appreciated and motivated to perform well. By improving the way social media portrays the mental health of college students, I believe that there will be a positive effect on the way college students act socially and perform academically.

Significant Moments in Popular Culture:

One of the most significant events we had as a class was when each of us was assigned in Week 3 to analyze the Blu Electronic Cigarette ad. In my opinion, this was the most beneficial activity because we got to see how marketers target their specific markets and how much attention to detail they put into these ads. For example, in the Blu Cigarette ad many of us noticed that there was a specific color scheme used in order to portray a very cool and slick type vibe. The color of the clothes the model is wearing matches not only the background of the ad but the product itself. This technique is very beneficial and I think it is cool to be able to decipher these marketing campaigns.

BLu

A second valuable event that we had in this class was the synchronous Google Chat activity. This was a very beneficial tool to have and without this class I would have never known about it. In Popular Culture, we used Google Chat in order to virtually meet with classmates and work on our thesis statements. This activity was very helpful because it allowed us to get multiple different perspectives of our thesis statements. I believe sharing your work with others in order to get feedback is extremely beneficial because often times we don’t think about every possible perspective. Peer editing not only allows us to get an idea of what others are working on but also allows us to further develop our own work and understanding. Overall, I found the synchronous activity to be one of the most valuable and beneficial activities so far.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society

https://amufilm.wordpress.com/2011/02/26/why-the-social-network-should-win-best-picture/

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/18/movies/18acce.html

http://www.pluggedin.com/movie-reviews/accepted/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/social-media-college-mental-health_us_55ae6649e4b08f57d5d28845

http://college.usatoday.com/2014/10/21/does-social-media-affect-students-self-esteem/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accepted

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1285016/

https://memegenerator.net/instance/32967730