One of the biggest problems I have had growing up is that I am of Hispanic heritage but was adopted and raised by a pretty typical Caucasian-American family and so I didn’t grow up the “traditional” Hispanic way.
So one of the biggest problems that I have had is people around me assuming that since I look Hispanic I am somehow automatically instilled with any and everything that has to do with being Hispanic. I used to be a cashier and almost everybody that came in asked if I spoked Spanish because of how I looked, and if i didn’t I was looked down upon because I didn’t know. This assumption led to me being looked down upon by not one ethnicity but really anybody who walked through the door. So when I received an assignment to look into apart of me that I never really touched because people were so mean to me because I wasn’t raised a certain way, I grabbed the chance and ran with it. With that being said, Hispanic women have pushed through the stereotypical lens they have been shoved into and evolved to become an independent and confident part of society, show in today’s popular culture media.
Hispanic Stereotypes and Popular Culture
I am not going to lie, there is usually going to be some truth behind a stereotype but that doesn’t mean that they are fully true or sometimes true at all. One of the biggest things that I haven’t dealt with personally but that I know has been a huge issue, is the LGBTQ community. The LGBTQ community and the different Hispanic populations, and how those have came together, has really been hard for a lot of different people, specially teens. I feel confident in saying that a good portion of Hispanics that are religious, are pretty true to their religion and one of the things that we have seen lately in media is how those two haven’t been getting along. Netflix’s show One Day At a Time has really stood out in popular culture recently because of the end of their first season.
“15-year-old Elena Alvarez (Isabella Gomez) walks out at her quinceañera wearing not a traditional gown but a white suit, shortly after coming out to her family. Her father, Victor (James Martinez), rejects her, leaving her alone on the dance floor for the father-daughter dance. But Elena is not left alone for long. Her mother, Penelope (Justina Machado), quickly steps in to take Victor’s place, along with the rest of the family” (Lawler, 1).
This show is a great example of what is going on in the world today because this is the sort of stuff that is actually happening. After doing research for this project, I noticed that there was an expectation for people with Hispanic families (or even just people with Hispanic heritage) to be apart of everything traditionally Hispanic and, then if they weren’t, they were pretty much shunned and outcasted. This project actually showed me that these assumptions about who I was while growing up wasn’t happening to just me.
With that being said, over the past decade these assumptions have gotten better and One Day At a Time is a great example of that. One Day at a Time is reaching thousands of people on Netflix and showing them that they aren’t alone. I think that is one of the most important things that I discovered this term, was that just because people feel alone or isolated doesn’t mean that they actually are. Everybody is different and that a part of you doesn’t define you no matter what people say.
Digging Deeper Into What Being a Hispanic Woman Represents
After my initial research I realized that the one of the biggest problems that women of Hispanic heritage face in popular culture is that they really aren’t taken seriously in America. As of late most of the shows launched with a Hispanic woman as the lead have not done well at all. This wasn’t until shows like Jane The Virgin showed up. Jane The Virgin has found this niche between relating to people of Hispanic heritage while talking about people with Hispanic heritage at the same time.
One of the ways that Jane The Virgin does that is the show is in a sort of telenovela format. A telenovela for anybody who doesn’t know is “a soap opera produced in and televised in or from many Latin American countries”. Jane The Virgin “…makes the telenovela format its own and adds dimension to characters who could otherwise be flat and unoriginal ”(Martinez,1). Jane The Virgin cease relatable to everyone and that is why she has done over 64 episodes and is now going on their forth season. This show has really made an impact how Hispanic are seen and understood. Before this project I had never seen this show and honestly expected to not like it but Jane the Virgin is relatable and real and I personally couldn’t help but binge-watch all of it because I saw so much of me in her. This was a huge turning point for me in this project because I went from wanting to try and stand-up for some of Hispanic heritage to being proud of it, and who I am.
What I learned?
My journey the past ten weeks for this project has really made me that much more confident in who I am and what this part of my identity is and has become. When I was I was younger I was embarrassed of this part of my identity because people would shun me for not being a “real” Mexican and after this project and diving head first into this I am noticed how I am not the only one who feels this way and that Hispanic women comes in all shapes and sizes. Unlike American popular culture Hispanic popular culture is starting to show that. One of the best examples of this is Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. Orange is the New Black has surpassed every other Latina-led show in the past decade. Everybody is different and that’s a part of what makes Orange is the New Black so amazing and so important. “…These women are tender and tough, nurturing and cruel..”(Bmanuel,1). Orange is the New Black has gone even farther and shown dimension to their characters, making them actual people. This show “ No longer mere whores or virgins, mere mothers or girlfriends, Flaca, Gloria, Daya, Maritza, Aleida, Blanca and Maria show us the breadth
of the Latina experience on screen, in all its complicated and unapologetic glory.That, more than anything, is Orange Is the New Black’s lasting legacy” (Bmanuel, 1) So in conclusion, I went from wanting to try and stand-up for some of my Hispanic heritage to being proud of it, and who I am, that is what I learned from my Sophomore Inquiry, Popular Culture.
-Martinez, Diana. “Jane the Virgin Proves Diversity Is More Than Skin Deep.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 19 Oct. 2015. Web. 19 May 2017.
-Bmanuel. “Most Radical Thing About ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Is Its Latina Characters.” Mic. Mic Network Inc., 15 June 2016. Web. 19 May 2017.
-Lawler, Kelly. “How Netflix’s ‘One Day at a Time’ Flips the Coming-out Script.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 24 Jan. 2017. Web. 19 May 2017.
-“One Day at a Time.” Netflix Official Site. N.p., 06 Jan. 2017. Web. 21 May 2017.
–“”Orange Is the New Black” Recap (4.2): If the Suit Fits.” AfterEllen. N.p., 22 June 2016. Web. 22 May 2017.
-“Jane the Virgin Chapter 38 Recap: Moving Out.” Channel Guide Magazine. N.p., 29 Mar. 2016. Web. 22 May 2017.
-N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2017. http://37.media.tumblr.com/0841e4aded2c66f09da05585412ec9d9/tumblr_mrk0fyA6yl1r17qi5o1_500.gif
-Giphy. “Jane The Virgin GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY.” GIPHY, n.d. Web. 07 June 2017.
-Giphy. “Netflix GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY.” GIPHY. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 June 2017.
-“Telenovela.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 07 June 2017.
Media Coverage of Men’s Sports
Watching, playing, and enjoying sports is a major component in many American’s lives. We grow up surrounded by them, read about them, and spend our days and nights watching them. We don’t think much about about gathering with friends to watch an NBA game or to cheer on your favorite NFL team. We flip through the channels of our TV guide and see all of the biggest games that are coming up. But do we ever gather to throw an event for a WNBA game or a softball game? It is because there are very few opportunities that the sports media coverage allows us to watch these women’s events. Male athletes get much more sports media coverage and attention at all levels than female athletes, which is not reflected with the growth that has occurred in women’s athletics.
Sports have always been a big part in my life and have changed me into the person I am today. Throughout my athletic career, from elementary school to highschool and now to college, I have noticed small inequalities between male and female athletics in the way they are portrayed. Small things such as male sports getting most of the attention around school and how male football/basketball games are always the events to go to. I was intrigued to further my findings to a larger more nation-wide scale. I have always known that male sports get more sports media coverage than females but I was not sure what the extent was. Two of the main media channels that people ingest their sports information from are television and magazines.
Sports Illustrated Magazine
The Sports Illustrated Magazine is one of the leading sports magazines in the world and is read by over 21 million people each week. Despite having only three million subscribers, the numbers show that millions of others find their eyes drifting towards a cover of a SI magazine. The magazine can be a great source for sports information on upcoming events and featured stories. But does it cover men and women equally? In 2016, there were a total of 81 volumes of SI, all having unique covers of various athletes. Of the 81 covers, a staggering 73 featured men as the main photo, while only six featured women and two had both genders. Ninety percent of the covers were male athletes! Women were featured an insignificant 7% of the time. Last time I checked, the percentage of athletes who are males is not 90%. Since Title IX was passed in 1972,women seemed to have gained substantial ground in becoming equal to men. But, according to a study done by the University of Louisville, there has been no increase in women on the SI cover, “Less than 5 percent of covers including females from 2000 to 2011 compares dismally with 12.6 percent from 1954 to 1965.” Even in the past 50 years, Sports Illustrated Magazine has failed to increase the publicity of female athletes compared to male athletes. It has actually decreased substantially. These statistics are not the only difference between male and female athletes being on Sports Illustrated Magazine covers.
One of the main takeaways I had from scanning over the covers from this last year was the way male athletes were portrayed compared to female athletes. A majority of the male athlete covers are pictures you would expect on the front. Them in their uniforms posing in a normal position for their particular sport. These male athletes are being shown as they would be seen on TV and are viewed as nothing out of the ordinary. For females, this is not the case. Only one of the six female covers is a “normal” sports photo. One cover is of Caitlin Jenner, another is about fashion, and the last three are SI Magazine’s yearly Swimsuit Issue.
This depiction of female athletes on the covers reveals that being an athlete isn’t good enough when you’re a female. For men, they often pick their cover athletes based on performance and who is a popular athlete in the sports world. But for women, they don’t get this same treatment. Either something extraordinary has to occur in female sports or women will continue to be solely featured in the Swimsuit edition, which has very little relation to sports.
Another media source where sports events and stories are commonly broadcasted is ESPN. ESPN is a U.S. based global cable and satellite sports television channel. Its purpose, specifically the TV channel, is to broadcast all sports related activities for the world for entertainment. ESPN is a popular channel that even the non-sports fan is familiar with. While browsing through my TV guide, I decided to look at what events ESPN was planning on showing in the next week. I cut the hours in a day from 7AM to Midnight and looked at the following week. In one week of these hours, there are 119 hours up for grabs. Of these 119 hours, 49 were men’s sports, 8 were women’s sports, and the remaining 62 hours went to shows like SportsCenter which have no designation. With SportsCenter occupying over 50% of the airtime on ESPN, it would seem that there would be plenty of time to slip in female sport stories or highlights here and there. A study done by Purdue University looked at the percentage of male coverage vs female coverage on local news channels vs SportsCenter. It discovered, “Over the same 6-week sampling period, KCBS included only one story on women’s sports—a scant 0.2% of its total sports news time. ESPN’s SportsCenter did no better, devoting a paltry 2% of its hour-long highlight show to women’s sports.” If we include the SportsCenter percentages, then over 90% of the content on ESPN is of male sports.
There are a few main issues that stand out with these statistics. First, that male sports get priority over female sports for the prime TV hours. The time of day most people relax and enjoy sports is in the evening. This plays a major impact on the viewing numbers women’s sports receive. Even if they began showing women’s sports more often, they would most likely be at less popular viewing times. Men’s events are always going to have the priority over women’s events, particularly during primetime due to popularity. This is unfair because women never get a real chance to occupy these hours for extended periods of time. Major companies like ESPN make too much money for them to “risk” it by showing a female sport during primetime.
Secondly, ESPN and SportsCenter are often replaying and showing the same game/highlights multiple times. Sporting events are something where once you know the outcome, you would not want to watch it again. But for some reason, ESPN replays the same shows instead of branching out and broadcasting a women’s sport. Filling in these unused hours with high quality women’s sports could potentially bring in new viewers for ESPN.
Lastly, similar to the Sports Illustrated Magazine Issue, in order for a female sporting event to be featured on mainstream media, it needs to be special for some reason. The most common examples are championship games, record breaking games, or special occasions such as the Olympics. This is great that ESPN would take the time to give some respect to these women’s athletes, but why not a regular game? Are regular female sporting events not intriguing or popular enough? Once again, the way ESPN selects it sporting events to broadcast puts women in the shadow of men and deems them as less important.
It is crazy how things can pass right through us without batting an eye. It is common for people to acknowledge the inequality of sports media coverage between men and women, but they fail to move past this acknowledgement and address this recurring issue in mainstream media. As a male, it is difficult to see an issue with this problem because it is beneficial to us. I am proud to be a male athlete but I am not proud of this imbalance. It is also difficult in that there is very little we can do individually to change what major companies decide to advertise and produce. I think it starts with men for this to be solved. Male athletes need to stand up against this inequality and make a change in the sports media coverage world.
- One course text that stood out to me was the ASC research study during week 5. It was so shocking to me to see kids of all ages still failing to understand the internet. Some of the kids in the study are so trusting of everything posted on the internet and are unaware of the impact it is having on them. This is definitely something where I need to continue to watch myself on which website and online media I am absorbing.
- Another big skill I have obtained from this class is deciphering between primary and secondary sources, and where to find them. This is the first class where I had to research these two different types of sources. Learning how to access these sources from the library will be very helpful for any future classes and research projects I have.
“2016 Sports Illustrated Covers.” SI.com . N.p., n.d. Web. 20 May 2017. https://www.si.com/more-sports/photos/2016/01/05/si-covers-2016
Cooky, C., M. A. Messner, and M. Musto. “”It’s Dude Time!”: A Quarter Century of Excluding Women’s Sports in Televised News and Highlight Shows.” Communication & Sport 3.3 (2015): 261-87. Web. 20 May 2017.
Shifflett, B., and R. Revelle. “Gender Equity In Sports Media Coverage: A Review Of The Ncaa News.” Journal of Sport & Social Issues 18.2 (1994): 144-50. Web. 20 May 2017.
Tuggle, C. A. “Differences in Television Sports Reporting of Men’s and Women’s Athletics: ESPN SportsCenter and CNN Sports Tonight.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 41.1 (1997): 14-24. Web. 20 May 2017.
Weber, Jonetta D., and Robert M. Carini. “Where Are the Female Athletes in Sports Illustrated? A Content Analysis of Covers (2000â 2011).” International Review for the Sociology of Sport 48.2 (2013): 196-203. Web. 20 May 2017.
I consider my Latino background one of the largest aspects of my identity. As the son of a Mexican immigrant and white U.S. citizen, often my ethnicity is the first thing people notice about me. Upon seeing me for the first time people also make assumptions about my moral character based on their previous experiences and how my identity has been portrayed to them by the media and other members of my identity. After researching and asking how Latinos are portrayed in the media, I was able to notice recurring patterns, tropes, and stereotypes. The most popular subjects I found in portrayals of Latinos were about Immigration and legal status, gang activity in relation to violence, crime, and drug dealing, and affirmative action policies. Only after reading multiple articles and looking at many cultural artifacts was I able to find sources that portrayed the successful members of the Latino community in a positive light, but even then they sometimes fall victim to the misfortune that plagues minority groups around the world, and especially in the United States. After reading and analyzing my sources, I concluded that in pop culture media Latinos face problems of immigration status and language barriers, but upon transcending these barriers by either being U.S. born or naturalized, they face entirely new barriers including poverty and gang activity that might offer a feeling of success and belonging, but will ultimately end in demise.
When I began researching my identity and chose my cultural artifacts to examine, I thought I would choose one old and one new. I decided that movies would be a great source, as I found Latinos make up the largest demographic of moviegoers, and I personally know many people who have learned English through American movies. While there is no shortage of Latino media in Latin America and within the homes of Hispanics, it is much less represented and seen in mainstream, everyday life in the United States. However, I thought of two movies that portrayed Latinos characters, and are known by many movie watchers in the U.S. I chose the movie Scarface starring Al Pacino, because it is frequently referenced all across popular culture media especially in regards to monetary success. This movie also came out in 1983, so it provided great content from thirty years ago to compare and contrast to the content of today’s media. The second movie I chose was End of Watch, a 2012 film shot documentary style, providing a fictional first hand account of two police officers in LA, and how they fall victim to gang violence.
Opening scene of Scarface, Tony Montana gets sent to a refugee camp after interrogation upon arrival to the U.S. by law enforcement.
In the movie Scarface, Tony Montana begins his journey in the United States by being sent to a refugee camp. In the beginning of the movie, he is also interrogated by law enforcement. In the interrogation scene, Tony talks about how he learned to speak English through watching American movies. Upon closer examination, the law enforcement officers find a gang related tattoo on Tony, and immediately lose any thought of allowing him to have freedom on American soil and is sent to “Freedom Town”, the refugee camp. Before Tony Montana has a chance to fully explain the mistakes he made when he faced hard times in Cuba under Castro, he is toted off as the two officers talk about how he doesn’t believe a word he says and that “They all sound the same to me”. Scarface is sent to a camp and is offered a Green card by a man whose brother was tortured to death by one of Castro’s former generals, if he can assassinate the man inside of Freedom Town. Scarface does this, receives his green card, and begins working for the man who ordered the hit. Scarface begins helping with small jobs and crime for Frank Lopez, and ends up as a big player in his Cocaine business dealings across Miami, and to Bolivia.
Montage from the film after Tony begins increasing business with Bolivian Cartel leader Alexander Sosa
Scarface frequently finds himself in violent situations and gun fights, yet between these scenes he reflects on his ambition. He knows he commits crimes and violence, but he also knows that in the complex social structure of 1980s Miami he is not the only bad guy. He accepts responsibility to be the bad guy, because he says he would rather be honest with himself than use people like the other characters. Tony Montana makes a large fortune, but many enemies along the way and is ultimately slain in his luxurious mansion after he loses most of his close friends, and attempts a last stand against waves of gangsters.
After making his fortune and marrying the woman he loved, Tony’s greed begins to consume him and he finds himself in trouble with the law. The bad guy speech takes place after a dinner with his wife Elvira and friend Mani, before he leaves for New York to assassinate a political figure to gain the Cartel leaders assistance.
Tony Montana first appears on screen as a wise cracking immigrant who may have had a shady past, but quickly rises through the ranks of a large criminal organization and makes the fortune that he was after since he lived in Cuba. Regardless of the steps and precautions he could have taken, it was inevitable that he would fall victim to the violence and crime that he used as a tool for success. I believe that while this movie is seen as a classic action and crime drama, it is also a way to look into the way society is played out. The film uses many archetypes from real life, immigration events, difference in social conduct, stereotyped jobs such as the kitchen scene, and also very solidly portrays the gang violence and crime that is associated with Latinos in poor areas due to popular culture and media portrayal. Tony Montana came to America in search of the American Dream, and achieved it in terms of wealth by accepting the violent and troubling situations presented to him and using them to his personal gain, which would ultimately cost him his life.
The second movie I analyzed takes place on the opposite side of the law as Scarface. End of Watch is about Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala, who are both friends and partners. The film portrays their personal lives and background stories, and how they have found success in law enforcement. The movie shows a positive relationship between the two friends, and they often joke about each other’s race backstory, which offers content that can be compared and contrasted as examples of firsthand media portrayals. Mike Zavala is a Mexican police officer and Brian Taylor is white, but majority of the criminals and suspects they meet are African-American or Mexican.
This movie takes place in LA, and even though Mike Zavala is portrayed as successful, you can see all around them the less fortunate members of the community are largely black and hispanic. Mike and Brian have interactions with each side of a gang rivalry, and through an interesting interaction and arrest, they gain the respect of one particular African-American gang member, who informs them of a hit placed on their heads after busting a Mexican cartel member, yet they are not too worried by it. The interaction that Mike has when interacting with the Latino gang members is very interesting, as they say things in spanish that should be disturbing but he writes it off, and they comment on how glamorous the Mexican cartel members weapons are. The movie poster shows Mike Zavala posing with the cartel members golden AK-47. As a member of the latino community, and a consumer of pop culture such as controversial Narcocorridos, I think that the bravery shown by Zavala and Taylor in the face of cartel danger is very inspiring.
Mike and Brian tail and arrest a known gang member “Big Evil”, they later become targeted for this by a large Cartel.
Mike and Brian are warned that their police activity and arrests are going to anger Sinaloa Cartel members.
The specific cartel they face in the movie originates from Sinaloa, Mexico, is known as one of the most wealthy and violent criminal organizations in North America, and in addition to LA gang violence and drug trafficking, they make money from human trafficking and assassinations. This movie really spoke to me as a Latino youth coming from an underprivileged background, because Mike Zavala was able to become successful and stable without a college degree, and was able to escape from personally partaking in criminal activity. The reason why I decided to use this movie as a source to analyze is because even though Mike Zavala was able to escape a lesser life through his law enforcement career, he still falls victim to the same circle of violence and crime that claimed the life of Tony Montana, and countless other latinos that resort to crime and gang violence to escape poverty.
One of the biggest learning moments for me was when we used the method to analyze advertisements. In a society where we are constantly bombarded by commercials and jingles that are meant to promote an item, it is easy to forget that these ads are supposed to solicit a reaction from us. Even if we can identify this, that may be what the producers actually want from us, a sense of “you can’t fool me, I am a smart consumer”, but by doing so we have wasted time and energy that could be used productively, to think about fast food or some fad toy we do not need.
Another learning moment for me was how much our view of certain popular culture artifacts dictate how appropriate it is. As I did research for this project, I decided to delve into a piece of culture that I frequently indulge in. Narcocorridos are a type of Mexican music genre that incorporates complex and compound time signatures, virtuosic instrument playing, and sings about the deeds and winnings of those involved in their respective business. Often, these “business” are innuendos for illegal activity, but the artists will also explicitly describe them in detail at times. Sinaloa and cartel activity are often mentioned in Narcocorrido music, and Big Evil is even listening to Narcocorridos in “End of Watch when he is arrested.
My favorite singer of Corridos is Gerardo Ortiz, who has songs that range from complicated love stories, to preparing for confrontation and violence. He also has survived an attempted assassination that took place in 2011, but lost his cousin and his business manager during the incident. I think it is very interesting that this music is so popular in the Latino community, yet the subject matter can be dark. While it is easiest to see the crime and violence, through the immense appreciation of this music we can see on a deeper level how it shows the work and devotion to a team and family that these individuals have as they are willing to endanger themselves to escape poverty or sometimes death.
“El Cholo”(The Gangster) official music video by Gerardo Ortiz.
“Quien se Anima”(Those who dare/are encouraged) official music video by Gerardo Ortiz.
Narcocorridos about the lifestyle of people who dare or are encouraged in certain jobs and businesses. He has good friends, and family that gives him good advice as he has fun but gets work done. The lyrics lose some of the meaning and characteristics of the genre as an art form. The translation changes the natural rhythm that accompanies the music and creates the complex meter and music theory behind the songs.
End of Watch(2012) Directed and Written by David Ayer
“Latinos in Hollywood: Few Roles, Frequent Stereotypes, New Study Finds”
“‘No Chicanos on TV’”
Copyright: COPYRIGHT 1993 Duncan McIntosh Company, Inc.
Accessed through PSU Library
“Portrayals of Latinos in and by the Media”
Copyright: COPYRIGHT 1993 Duncan McIntosh Company, Inc.
Accessed through PSU Library
Scarface(1983) Directed by Brian De Palma, Written by Oliver Stone
Representation of Muslim Women in Media
Ever since I was younger I’ve been bombarded with images of Muslim women wearing burkas who were reported in the media as abused. Currently, more Muslim women have emerged working in more prominent fields such as journalism and fashion which has expanded the representation of Muslim women to greater fields in which they relatively had no representation but I wanted to see if the majority of America still saw Muslim woman as abused and uneducated.
Personally, I follow a lot of Muslim women who are fashion bloggers and journalists such as Noor Tagouri and Dinatokio, with Noor Tagouri appearing on CNN to debate about the presidential elections and Dinatokio being the founder of the first modest fashion week. So, I knew people had been exposed to these women but I felt as if the admiration for them was limited to a niche community of Muslim women. So, while I was researching especially with the current political climate I expected all the information I found to be negative. To my surprise, the majority of it was positive and I came across a lot of instances where the popularity of hijab was being introduced to the mass media.
Wrap My Hijab
I was first introduced to Wrap My Hijab by a friend who described the video to me as funny and quirky. Initially, I didn’t pay much attention to it since it was played on the aux cord of a car, but while I was thinking of potential instances in how Muslim women are portrayed in the media, Wrap My Hijab addresses all those issues through its lyrics. The song writer Mona Haydar, targets the most prevalent issue, which is Muslim women consistently being questioned about the representation of their faith through her lyrics, “Don’t that make you sweat” or “Don’t that feel too tight.” The song then discusses how hijab does not oppress women rather is it a form of liberation for women around the world and despite anyone’s opposition nothing will stop these women from wearing the hijab.
What I especially like about the music video “Wrap my Hijab,” is that it was made by a woman who wore hijab coming from her own personal experiences. What I particularly found interesting were the lyrics and the title to the music video. They were both very simple ways of addressing a difficult issue that would be accessible to many people. The Wrap my Hijab, was not only the title of the song but the main purpose, and it sent a very direct message that as a Muslim woman this is a part of my identity that no one can change. The lyrics also spoke to me on a personal level because many of the conversations I’ve had with people have followed the same course, where they will always ask me about why I wear I why hijab, what my hair looks like and why I don’t just take it off. Then I have to explain to them that hijab to us is not a symbol of oppression, it’s a symbol of liberation and that no matter what people say nothing will deter me from wearing hijab. Within the music video there was a variety of women from all around the different world shown wearing different hijab styles and the lyrics referenced women from non-middle eastern countries who wear hijab. Which was important because non-middle eastern women are usually ignored in the conversation about hijab. Also, I think it was important that the director, Mona Haydar, made an effort to depict women styling their hijab different ways because usually when we are shown images of Muslim women in the media they are all depicted as the same. So, it’s good that she made an effort to show the full scope of Muslim women who wear hijab. Mona Haydar has also stated that this is the first single in her album.
London Modest Fashion Week
London Modest Fashion Week was inspirational for Muslim women all around the world because we are consistently underrepresented in every single field. Within film and art there is absolutely no mention of Muslim women at. So, it is a huge inspiration for Muslim women to be shown that things do exist specifically for us and that hijab is not a barrier for our goals. Also, this is a very empowering event for women because it shows them that anything is possible as long as you put effort into achieving your goal. It also shows a different dimension of Muslim women because we are constantly shown in oppressive light but here we are shown inspiring a movement. A woman wearing a hijab also discusses how when you wear hijab you still have the same desire to be beautiful but it’s difficult when there aren’t clothes made for your religious outlines in mind. Also, they showed Dina tokio, a fashion blogger, being interviewed saying how revolutionary and great this movement is and if people were against this they could “piss off.” The whole purpose of this to show that we are here to demonstrate that Muslim women are represented and can do whatever they want. This is especially inspirational after Halima Aden, a Somali-American hijabi model walked down the runway in the Yeezy season 5 show.
Social media posts by the two hijabi athletes figure skater Zahra Lari and weight lifter Amna Hadid, responding to the negative reactions of people when the Nike hijab was released. Amna discusses how other brands never saw a need for a product like the Nike Pro-Hijab because it was not “popular” and it was unheard of to see woman train, exercise and compete in the hijab. Only recently have women expressed a need for it and more professional athletes have fought for the right to compete with the hijab. It was something that could no longer be ignored. Amna discusses how although there has been a market for athletic hijabs before, Nike is the first big athletic retail company to release one. Amna says that surely with the Nike Sports Hijab it will encourage a generation of athletes. Many people were supportive but many people responded with negative online comments. One woman tweeted that she would never buy another Nike product again. Another person tweeted that Nike decided to capitalize off the Islamic patriarchy by putting their brand on a chastity helmet and someone else tweeted Americans do not support the oppression of women! Why does Nike?
To me the release of the Nike hijab was a great move towards the support of Muslim women in competitive sports because I played competitive sports in high school and we were given uniforms that I couldn’t wear due to religious reasons and I was always left scraping together my own clothes to pull together a uniform. To this day, one of the major issues I encounter when I exercise is trying to find the right hijab to wear when I exercise because many of them easily slip off my head or they are too tight. I know Nike may be doing this simply to tap into a seemingly untouched market but Muslim women have never been welcomed into the sporting world so to have something made for us like this is paramount. So many young girls who wear hijab may feel discouraged because they don’t see anyone else who looks like them competing but now they will, which will be very inspiring to them. So, it is tragic to see how people can always spin things into oppression instead of something that is taking us a step forward.
Persepolis is a graphic autobiography by Marjane Satrapi depicting her childhood to adult years in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution. Marjane discusses the great change the religious change the revolution brings about with it. Most dramatically, the segregation of boys and girls and women being forced to wear the veil. The thing she struggles with the most is the meaning of the veil, since she she comes from a religious but modern avant-garde family. The rest of the novel details her tremulous teenage years in which she is punished for wearing clothes that are too “revealing” and her going to her first punk rock parties. One of the issues she faces is the limitations and the restrictions the Islamic regime places upon her. Especially in the case of her and her fiancé in which they are forced to marry because the regime frowns down upon extramarital relationships. Although, at the end Marjane ends up leaving Iran for France.
I picked all these sources because they were useful in the sense they provided a different scope and field of how representation of Muslim women had been integrated into mainstream media.
Week 4: Learning how to analyze movies was very useful when I found the music video, “Wrap My Hijab” and I had to analyze how all its details played into the image into it was communicating about Muslim women.
Nike Hijab Faces Backlash on Social Media, Teen Vogue, March 13 2017.
Wrap My hijab, Mona Haydar, March 27 2017.
Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. New York: Pantheon, 2003. Print.
While looking for topics to find for this paper, I was thinking of findings that might anger me, make me laugh for how accurate it was, and maybe even learn new things. I didn’t know what to expect when I was leaving the biased part behind me and trying to think of a new way to look at this information. For this research, I decided that I would look into Mexican males. They could be from Mexico or from The United States of America. I choose this topic because this is how I was raised in being proud of my culture and where my family originates to always let people know that I am a Mexican male. Going to school, filling out paperwork for ethnic background, and even getting asked what part of Mexico you are from (Yucatan, Mexico if you want to know as well). So, Mexican male is what I choose because the stereotypes and the articles I found them to be comforting for how true some of them are.
The first thing I want to talk about is one of my favorite comedians and his name is Gabriel Iglesias also, known as Fluffy. Fluffy was a great learning experience by figuring out how to dive deep in critical thinking with his comedy. It’s also a great way to learn about experiences when Fluffy talks about his past and what he has done. First diving into stereotypes is something he himself brings up. An example of this is when he talks to the audience on being a comedian for everyone. He doesn’t want the media to label him as a Hispanic comedian just because he is Mexican and speaks Spanish. He wants to be a like any other comedian in America like Louis C.K or Conan. With Conan, the media labels him as a comedian, but with Fluffy, they call him a Hispanic comedian. His comedy is for anyone that talks English. So why label him in another group? Now with this, I can see the reasoning for Fluffy, he doesn’t want them to lead people that he is a Hispanic comedian for he might lose the chance of people seeing him because they might think he will only speak in Spanish. While Fluffy does speak Spanish, people will still understand him, because he even says that he tries to keep the Spanish low. I would say the only time he speaks Spanish is when a friend or his mom speaks Spanish and he says it Spanish to the audience because it won’t translate as well if you would say it in English. I also understand him on this point because even in Spanish we use some slang in it. An example I can give is saying, “Que pedo?”
This translate to literally too, “What fart?”
This is because in a situation that someone might be mad, you can ask them, que pedo and it would roughly translate to what is your problem. Even explain that kills the slang and the joke with it. By Fluffy sticking to the joke with Spanish, it will come out better and he won’t have to kill the momentum of the joke with explaining it.
While Fluffy doesn’t want to be labeled as a Latino comedian, George Lopez is fine with being called a Latino comedian. The “George Lopez Show” is a great example of how he grew up in a rough situation and a rough neighborhood. His comedy shows that his mom was rough on him, he also talks about this in some of his special. I see this as a stereotype that becomes true in some cases. Many people from Mexican descent would say parents are rough on you. An example I could give is if a kid is trying to touch a stove that is hot, Mexican parents would tell you once to not touch it, but if the kid isn’t listening then the parents will encourage them to touch it. If the kid doesn’t listen, they will learn a lesson from the pain that happens. The experience I have had isn’t like his. My mom and dad are great parents not perfect, but they are great. They did everything they could to give me the chance to thrive in America, but in the case of George, some people would think he was abused as a child. So, this is a stereotype I see that can be true, but not in all cases. Even growing up in a Mexican household, anybody could tell you that they would be afraid of a slipper. Mexican moms would threaten you by taking off their slippers and chase you around the house for not doing the dishes, cursing in front of them, or even just watching too much television. They grew up with it, I grew up with it, and my kids are going to grow up with it. Maybe, depends on their temper.
The next thing that I would like to address is immigration. This is a subject that I have heard from people who are against and for immigration. This is a subject that is brought up in my family for a while because it’s the story of how they came from Mexico to the United States. Being a Mexican male I would get asked if I was born here or born in Mexico. I could see some of the readers as well getting curious to see what the answer is and I was born here in Portland, Oregon. I was raised here as well, but I stayed in Mexico for a while to get to know my family that is living in there. Even though this is getting off topic, I would like to talk about immigrant workers. I have worked in landscaping and in nursery’s in Oregon like many of the immigrants that come from Mexico to work. While I was doing these jobs, I could see how people that hire immigrants take advantage of them by paying them minimum wage and holding on to the payday checks for a long time. There isn’t anything that an immigrant worker can do because they get threatened with deportation and calling the police. Focusing on the bad parts isn’t what I want to with this paper so I will jump into some information. In a secondary source, I found was immigration for Mexicans are going down (Zong and Batalova). People coming from China and India are taking the top spot for immigration while Mexican immigrants are returning back to Mexico. This is something that happens a lot with Mexican immigrants coming to the United States. They work here and send money back home to build a house and get the necessary things they need down in Mexico. After they are done, they return home. I have always heard of this with my parents. They want to return to Mexico but don’t want to leave their children here. This is most of the case for immigrants. They start a family here and start to learn the language and try to find better jobs, but if it’s not for that they return to Mexico. So, how does this affect me? I find it to be accurate that Mexican immigrants are working in these types of fields. This is because they are not qualified for other jobs that are easier like going into Burger King and taking orders. This is because they can’t speak English very well, and don’t have a high school diploma. It’s like my dad says, “I earn my living with my hands. Give me any job that requires the use of my hands I will get it done. This is why I like working in Landscape.”
This is true for many of the Mexican Immigrants that come here because they need to work for their family in Mexico. I talked to a friend down in Mexico and he told me that working to build a house in Mexico will lead you to be paid by the day for 50 Pesos. That almost 5 U.S dollars a day to build a house. Me, personally, I don’t care if someone calls me an immigrant. They have their facts wrong, and immigrants work very hard, so I am fine with that.
With that, I would like to jump into Danny Trejo. The Badass Mexican from Machete. This movie, if you haven’t seen it, is all violence that does not make sense. It’s an action movie with Danny Trejo. Danny brings more of a stereotype of playing a bad guy or someone who is violent. With this example, it brings in the stereotypes of Mexicans being related to drug cartels, or even smuggling them in. Danny plays these parts proudly because this is what he grew up with. Before becoming famous. Danny talks about how policemen have pulled 15 group of people and would pick out Trejo because of how he looked. He talks about how being influenced by his uncle led him to turn to drugs and armed robbery. This isn’t because he was a bad dude from the start, but he was influenced by it. Danny got out of prison and got sober by going to a 12-step program. With this, he became a sponsor with someone who was connected in the business of Hollywood. He got an acting career from someone who thought he was an add on for a scene for robbing banks. I can see Danny as an example of a bad Mexican dude. With this stereotype, I see how growing up in a rough neighborhood can influence people in drugs or gangs. With this he had his own family turn him to the life of crime and drugs. I can see anyone getting into the life of crime, not only Mexican males. This is an example of myself, growing up in Oregon on the more Eastside of Portland. I was one of the few Mexican kids in my school. While I hit puberty early in my life, I started to get taller and bigger. So, I started to get called the big Mexican dude. I was fine with this because it felt like a compliment. It was me, but I was considered scary. Lot of people would avoid me because they thought I was in a gang, or I would get into fights with them, but I was just this big dude. I’m a friendly guy, I think.
So now comes the conclusion of the page. I see these stereotypes as something I take with pride. Even though some of them can be bad, but let’s not focus on that. It’s like the experience of what George went through that I could relate with. It’s what fluffy is striving to be a comedian instead of a Latino Comedian. In another special of Fluffy is “Aloha Fluffy”, he talks about how he went to the middle east and was finally called an American Comedian over there. So, with this, I can see that being a Mexican male and see the stereotypes of Mexican males. It becomes comforting to see the good outcomes of it. It does become a little worrisome with being labeled a criminal, immigrant, or even scary, but it’s something I will pay to hopefully thrive in this country.
“Mexican Immigrants in the United States.” Migrationpolicy.org. N.p., 02 Mar. 2017. Web. 06 June 2017.
Growing up watch Hollywood films was one of mine happiest memory, seeing people with superpowers, cars racing, action fighting, Disney cartoon, and horror films. When I was a kid, I never thought of racial of diversity. Until now I start to recognize there aren’t many movies that have Asian leading role. Asian are being stereotyped in movies and TV shows. My family moved to the U.S from China in 2006, school experiences was quite different and interesting. What I meant for “interesting” is nothing in a positive way that you think, it was fill with stereotyping jokes that makes you feel uncomfortable. Going to school in the United States, kids often make fun of my appearance by saying things like “Chinky eyes”, or ask me “how do you blindfold a Chinese person? Put floss over their eyes.”
Here some questions that I have:
- How are Asian males portrayed in TV shows, ads, and movies?
- What are the stereotypes that the media has on Asian males?
- Why aren’t many leading roles for Asian?
- How come in Hollywood films, they often desexualized Asian?
For my research, I was able to find some very helpful resources; a Documentary films ‘The Slanted Screen: Asian Men in Film and Television’, an article called ‘Why Hollywood Won’t cast Asian Actors’, a section of ‘I Am Bruce Lee’ that talks about his thought of Hollywood stereotyping and discriminatory practices, and others that supports my topic.
Asian American are the fastest growing racial group in America, but in Hollywood films there is still discrimination against Asian by desexualized them in the movies or stereotyping about their appearance and the way we speak . In the documentary films ‘The Slanted Screen: Asian Men in Film and Television’, actors, film producers, and writers were expressing how they felt about what Hollywood did and how they tried to fight against it. During the silent era of Hollywood in the 1910s and 1920s, Sessue Hayakaw was of the biggest starts. He played the leading romantic roles, or villains. “Many people know Rudolph Valentino, He was a sex symbol of earlier Hollywood. But don’t forget, Sessue Hayakawa was prior to him, and according to some researcher Sessue Hayakawa was the first sex symbol of Hollywood.” — Mako Iwamatsu. According to Mako Iwamatsu, Asian did have successful romantic roles in the history. How come later on Hollywood decide to take it away from Asian actress? In the films, it addressed that “Hayakwa would not only be the first but one of the last Asian leading men to star in a Hollywood production,
Mako Iwamatsu recall one of his memory meeting with the executives of Warner Brothers and the Vice president about why did they use David Carradine, A Caucasian actor playing the Chinese Character in “Kung Fu.” And he told us that the Vice president said “If we put a yellow man on the tube the audience would turn the switch off in less than five minutes”.
At the time, caricatures of the inscrutable oriental dominated the big screen. Hollywood would usually cast non-Asian actors to play these nefarious roles. Even up till now, Hollywood still doing that to the movies that supposedly have Asian actor playing the leading role. Casting Caucasians actor to play the role of the Asian character. In the movie of “Ghost in the Shell”, a movie that base on the Japanese manga comics. They decided to use Scarlett Johansoon to play the main Asian character.
Back to the documentary films “The Slanted Screen: Asian Men in Film and Television”, James Scott lee talks about the movies that he casted as the famous marital art master Bruce Lee, ‘Dragon: The Brucee Lee story’. In one part of the movies, Bruce Lee( James) and his wife (Lauren Holly) are sitting in the theater and they are watching the ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’ He describe the character with big buck teeth and big glasses, portraying what’s supposed to be a Japanese old man. He said “He’s playing somewhat of a caricatrue on that person.” Asian actors was desexualized, giving a stereotyping role. What’s the reason for doing this? Is so, the Whites can consolidate their position in the America? Mako Iwamatsu decribe Bruce Lee the “New phenomenon”. Bruce Lee changed the way that other American people think of Asian. It make them proud to be Asian. Because of Bruce Lee, martial art fight movies became a popular genre at the 90’s time. But that didn’t stop the discrimination in the film industry, Bruce Lee was unfortunally just end up being a another stereotype. Bobby Lee was saying “Bruce lee definitely made it harder for Asian men, in terms of the bar of what people saw you as.” He told us there was once people came up to him and asked him do you Kung fu.
From the documentary films ‘I am Bruce Lee’, it talks about how Bruce had a disdain for Caucasians playing the part of Asian characters. He also said how the old movies are always being stereotyping, making fun of the Asian peoples’ eyes, and making the sound “CHOP CHOP”. Bruce Lee’s widow Linda Emery talked lot of how Bruce was struggling in Hollywood, because racial factors. Racism was mention many times later in this documentary. Bruce Lee tried to fight against this, and wanted to make change of all Asian. In his whole life in America, he wanted to prove himself, to others that Asian is good as the White people. One of his famous quote “You know what I want to think of myself? As a human being. Because, I mean I don’t want to sound like ask Confucius, sayyyyyy–(joking) but under the sky, under the heaven, man, there is but one family. It just so happens that people are different.”I think he meant that all human being are created equally, but just different color. It was such a tragic of Bruce Lee’s death, if not I would for sure that he would change the racism problem in Hollywood. Maybe because of him there will be more Asian actors in the films industry.
In a conclusion, racism in Hollywood it is still happening. As a new generation, we can fix this and make it better. I think Hollywood should consider giving Asian Americans more leading roles, more chance to shine on the screen and take away those stereotypes.
Chow, Keith. “Why Won’t Hollywood Cast Asian Actors?” The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 Apr. 2016. Web. 21 May 2017.
I Am Bruce Lee Documentary. Dir. Pete McCormack. N.p., 07 July 2014. Web. 17 May 2017.
The Slanted Screen: Asian Men in Film and Television. Prod. Jeff Adachi. Infobase. N.p., 02 Dec. 2010. Web. 17 May 2017.
The music industry is considered a vicious business and known to chew female artists up and spit them out throughout their careers. This industry is very successful in many ways and one way is by advertising the female artists in the magazines, newspapers, television sets, social media, and on the billboard. They are not the only industry doing this. We see other industries like cosmetic and fashion are known to sexualize their actress in hopes of increasing their product sell. One example of the females being hyper-sexualized in music videos is looking at several 1980’s videos where female dancers wore tight, fluoro-coloured spandex gym clothes while exercising something you see at the gym but in a more sexualized way.
Recently, several artists from different genre have been standing up against female being sexualized in the music industry and mocking male artists who continue to sexualize. Female are sexualized in many ways over the years and it’s not a new thing, but the artists that are fighting is new. Although their methods have received criticisms. Which I bring to you a question do we as a society accept certain people to stand up for how female are sexualized against others? And why?
Hyper-sexualized music videos are known to receive thousands of likes on social media, which further on promotes and encourages the companies’ objectification of female. Although the argument is blaming the industry, that isn’t quite true, we as a society are also blamed as well. The problems aren’t the artists, directors or even the companies, but instead the popular culture in continuing to like and award artists who objectify females and how they are going on about it. They encourage female artists to dance in a certain way in order to survive in the industry, whether it’s twerking, or dance in a seductive way to get themselves to the top. Another problem is the society’s double standard issue where the society criticizes female artists from body shaming, dancing, clothing, singing and much more. It’s common that everyone is different in their own way and artists are no different in that when they state their argument or message through their music.
Example One: Country Music
Maddie & Tea are two female country artists and known for their 2014 hit New single, “Girl in a Country Song”, which talks about how females are portrayed in various of country music. These artists grew up watching and liking some of the stereotyped country music videos but often disliked the content, so they flipped the script on their music video. This hit single turns the tables on many country artists who sexualized females in their music videos. They used male actors and also showed the viewers how overall male actor’s used female in their music videos. Maddie and Tea also wanted to show how males also used the stereotype of country girls wearing to what looks to be cowboy boots, shorts, and cowboy hats.
Issue: This song got some criticism over what reviews label the song as an Anti “Country bro”, which is known as a subgenre of mainstream country music originating in the second decade of the 21st century. The girls were highly criticized because they mocked artists for sexualizing female, being an anti-Country Bro and using some similar of beats from Country Bro songs in their hit.
Example Two: Pop Music
Jennifer Lopez is among many successful artists in the music industry for over a decade. In her recent new single, “I uh Ya Papi” produced in 2014 generally received positive views because of the catchy rhythm and the fun beats that Jennifer is known to have in her songs. Her songs are greatly known to have a mixture of Hip Hop, Pop, and Hispanic tones and much more making her own style and common to dance in the clubs as reviewers have put it. “I Luh Ya Papi” Featured guest vocals French Montana and was directed by Jessy Terrero. The video was filmed in Miami, Florida where it had random males shirtless or better yet half naked men’s laying down on the yacht tanning while their skin glowed to perfection obviously Lopez was sending a message how we normally see females doing that in many music videos and overall making it rather difficult for producers to even film it. She flipped the script.
Example Three: Hip Hop
Here we have Nicki Minaj in her many famous music videos, “Anaconda”. Nicki is greatly known for her rapping talent and is considered the most successful female rapper. In her song, Anaconda she slashes the recent objectified songs made by Sir Mix Alot called “Baby Got Back” where it celebrated female for their bodies, but mostly those who have larger behind yet. Baby got back was introduced while the popular cultures were also introduced to “twerking” a dance where evolves intense movement of the behind. Many females celebrate participated in these activities where they shook their behind. This dance was so popular that Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj performed it at the VMA’S awhile back. In the song of Anaconda Minaj states “My Anaconda don’t want any unless you got buns, Hun”. In this video, Minaj’s response to comments that are stated in her lyrics to the song of “Baby Got Back” and to other countless songs that objectifies women. Throughout this song, Minaj celebrates females of all sizes and race and cuts off at Banana stating that no matter what they do or how they want to do female own their body at their end of the day. She states Feminism and female empowerment in controlling their bodies in ways they choose and not other people.
Issue: Nicki Minaj’s was highly criticized in her “Anaconda,” music video even though she exemplified sexist and racist double standards in our society that have become normalized in pop culture. Viewers have comment harsh words for Minaj referring as a “plastic” and “fake.” According to the parody, any woman who uses surgery for cosmetic purposes is considered trash and pathetic, despite it being a personal choice not fit for public judgment.
Example three: R&B
In the video, Robin Thicke, Pharrell, and T.I. are engaging in their stereotypical male roles, as the aggressors and dominant individuals. According to Wood, men are commonly perceived as dominant, sexually aggressive, powerful, and likely to engage in these activities. The song and video were fighting the double standard of females in music videos. Blur lines take the video to a new level where it highly sexualized the females in the music videos from pulling one female hair and telling her he knows she wants it to referring them as animals. Women are socialized in music videos in many ways in media in general and for that, it was actually good to know that some male artists are aware of this situation and are disagreeing with it.
Issue: Robin Thick was heavy criticized for this song because of the mass objectification of female in the music video and his actions pulling one of the girl’s hair and telling her that he knows what she wants, therefore, it questions whether female voices and their decisions.
In conclusion we are aware that female are bodied shamed, sexualized and often judged for who they are, we are aware of this any much more because there are many scholars who have researched about gender bias and stereotypes within our culture. One scholar tells us that we as a society have created a norm on what is considered normal to the viewers like a male sexualizing female and what’s abnormal when female flip the script. This norm has made it rather difficult for female artists to fight being sexualized when viewers are judging them on how they do it or how they look instead of the content. Every artist that is fighting this stereotypes is doing it for themselves in a different way, but the overall message is their actions should only be judged for who they are and not all the women as a whole. An example of this idea is seen from the text when Christina Aguilera, a pop genre artist says “she is fighting for her rights to be sexual without being called a slut.” (Lo 2004)
Rudman, Laurie A., Janell C. Fetterolf, and Diana T. Sanchez. “What motivates the sexual double standard? More support for male versus female control theory.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 39.2 (2013): 250-263.
Vandenbosch, Laura, Dorien Vervloessem, and Steven Eggermont. ““I might get your heart racing in my skin-tight jeans”: Sexualization on music entertainment television.” Communication Studies 64.2 (2013): 178-194.
Vandenbosch, Laura, Dorien Vervloessem, and Steven Eggermont. ““I might get your heart racing in my skin-tight jeans”: Sexualization on music entertainment television.” Communication Studies 64.2 (2013): 178-194.
Levande, Meredith. “Women, Pop Music, and Pornography.” Meridians, vol. 8, no. 1, 2008, pp. 293–321., www.jstor.org/stable/40338921.
In Hip-Hop, double Standard for women Persist by Emily Holdgruen, produced by the Educators Reference Complete. URL:http://go.galegroup.com.proxy.lib.pdx.edu/ps/i.do?p=PROF&sw=w&u=s1185784&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA383922738&asid=0764e43226172963f4e63af2873bf004.%20Accessed%2014%20May%202017.&authCount=1
Robin Thick; Blurred lines featuring Pharrell and T.I from Pharrel label Star Trak Recording produced by Pharrell and directed by Diane Martel Published on 20 Mar 2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyDUC1LUXSU
Jennifer Lopez, “Luh Ya Papi”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4oiEhf9M04
Maddie and Tea, “Girl in a Country Song”,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MOavH-Eivw
Nicki Minaji, “Anaconda”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDZX4ooRsWs
As a Korean female growing up in America, I’ve consumed a lot of American media/pop culture. One thing I couldn’t help but notice was the underrepresentation of Asian-American roles, especially females. Something that was troublesome for me growing up was being labeled with pre-conceived notions from people who did not know anything about Asians. The only knowledge that they had were from seeing roles played by famous actors portraying Asian stereotypes which only supported and further solidified their pre-conceived notions. Being that one of my biggest identifiers is ‘Asian-American female’, I decided to research and analyze different forms of media in order to find out whether or not more recent forms of media have changed in their representation of Asian females or if they still only portrayed stereotypes. I found a mixture of both stereotypical and more realistic/accurate representations, however, in comparison to the underrepresentation seen as a young child, I think that there’s slowly been a shift towards more accurate representations which definitely takes down many boundaries and lessens stereotyping.
13 Reasons Why- Courtney Crimson
13 Reasons Why, in short, is a Netflix series based on the book written by Jay Asher. It follows a high school boy by the name Clay Jensen who’s on a mission to uncover the horrifying truth behind his classmate/crush, Hannah Baker’s, suicide. The series is broken down into 7 tapes for a total of 13 reasons on her decision to end her life. Each side of the tape describes one individual and their wrongdoings to Hannah; Courtney is Hannah’s reason #5.
The character, Courtney Crimson, is played by an Asian female, Michele Selene Ang, as the ex-best friend of Hannah Baker. On the outside, she is a “nice girl”, intelligent, caring, friendly and generally liked by her peers. On the inside, she’s manipulative, selfish, uncaring, cowardly, and unconcerned about others. The only thing she cares about is her reputation. She uses Hannah only when she wants something such as a ride to a party or when she wants an adventure. Courtney is adopted by two gay fathers and she suppresses the fact that she’s attracted to females.
Courtney is Hannah’s fifth reason for committing suicide. At the winter formal, she rats out Hannah to another classmate and denies the fact that Hannah and Courtney kissed. This was due to the fact that she cares so much about her reputation and doesn’t want people to point fingers to her fathers for the reason that she is also gay. This makes Hannah hate Courtney as false rumors start to circulate throughout the school.
One thing that I noticed specifically with this film was that all of Courtney’s characteristics did not follow ‘traditional’ Asian stereotypes. For example, she was adopted by 2 American gay dads, is a lesbian, lies, and only cares about herself. It was interesting to see that these were not qualities normally portrayed in American media in relations to Asian culture. These are rather more widely seen in America where there is less shame connected to sexuality. In addition, the role of Courtney could have easily been replaced by a different actress and it would have played out the same way. There was no connection to her being Asian that would have changed the story or timeline of this show. I really liked that about this show in particular as it did not have any stereotypes that I could point out which was really different from other movies/shows that often correlate Asian roles to fulfill certain stereotypes.
Grey’s Anatomy- Cristina Yang
Grey’s Anatomy is an American medical drama television series on ABC that has a total of 13 seasons and has recently been renewed for season 14. The series consists of fictional lives of medical tragedies and the lives of physicians, surgeons, and interns.
Cristina Yang is a character played by Sandra Oh first as a graduate from Smith College and a fellow surgical intern to Meredith Grey, Izzie Stevens, George O’Malley, and Alex Karev. She becomes best friends with Meredith Grey, and later becomes a cardiothoracic surgeon at Seattle Grace. She is married to Owen Hunt, the head of trauma surgery. In addition, she is a “double doctor” as she holds an MD from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley.
Cristina had on and off sexual encounters with the chief of cardiothoracic surgery, Preston Burke, during her internship years which led to an accidental pregnancy. She was set to marry Burke who abruptly called off the wedding and moved hospitals. She later meets Owen Hunt, an army trauma surgeon, who fixes her up after being stabbed by a falling icicle and the two hit it off well.
After some research, I came to find that the role that Sandra Oh played was not supposed to be of Asian descent, which I found interesting. This led me to think why? Who was supposed to play the role? What type of character did the writer have in mind? Something else that I found out was that she held an MD/Ph.D. which makes her a double doctor and in a sense you can say that this is a stereotype in that “Asians become doctors” but in this show, where all the characters are doctors, I don’t think that it can be portrayed as a stereotype. But rather it was refreshing to see the differences in characteristics and diversity of the various doctors and characters that played these roles. I think that it definitely allowed the show to have a wider range of audiences and fans of the show.
I love that the show went into depth where you could really go to see the type of person Cristina was and really get to feel her personality play out even though she wasn’t the ‘main’ character. She was a frequently seen supporting role to her best friend Meredith Grey. Her personality consists of sass, sarcasm, confidence, hard work, straightforwardness, and she was extremely good at her job. However, you also got to see the more vulnerable side to her as well through her love life. She had a strong vibe to her but when she was with Owen, you could tell that all she wanted was love and to be loved. Through her complicated relationships, it made her a more interesting character; something that is not seen quite often in Asian-American roles. Again, a trend with Cristina Yang’s character was that there weren’t stereotypes that were portrayed with her character and the part would have held the same storyline with a white actress.
Counterargument: Harry Potter- Cho Chang
To shed some light on how Asian females can be portrayed in a stereotypical way, I chose to use Cho Chang as a prime example.
In Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, the 5th installment of the movie series, an Asian female character by the name Cho Chang is seen. The character is an Asian female played by Katie Leung who fulfills the role of Harry’s first crush. After this introduction, Cho is only seen in scenes where Harry is associated with her; for example, when Harry asks her out to the dance, or when exchanging awkward hellos across the halls.
In the fifth installment, Cho returns and joins Dumbledore’s Army club against her parent’s wishes’ to train in actual magic and spells against Umbridge who would rather they didn’t learn magic at all. Within this year, Cho and Harry established a relationship that didn’t go so well. In one of the scenes, Cho’s previous boyfriend, Cedric, recently passed and she wanted to open up and grieve about him to Harry. However, Harry briefly gives acknowledgment, then kisses Cho.
It was interesting to see that Cho Chang was used as a token character, merely a placeholder in the movie with little character development. Mainly she is used to help the main character develop. As seen earlier, her main role is first being seen as Cedric Diggory’s love interest and then after his death, seen as Harry Potter’s love interest with a brief relationship. For example, after the death of her boyfriend, Cedric, she goes to Harry to talk and grieve about her loss. However, Harry did not console her very long before going straight in for a kiss. Regardless of any other characteristics or skills that she has, she is looked as a girl with a pretty face that is Harry’s love interest.
On the contrary, I thought it was strange that the movie did not really go in depth or elaborate on Cho Chang’s other abilities. She is very intelligent, part of Ravenclaw, and she has great skills as she is part of the Quidditch team as the seeker. An important part of the movie’s storyline that is merely skimmed over is that fact that she helps Harry find the Ravenclaw’s diadem which is a Horcrux containing Voldemort’s soul. Even though it was a big part of how the movie would progress, her part was not emphasized or given much credit.
Same name, different image…Grace Lee as Asian America: A Film Review of The Grace Lee Project (2005)
The film director, Grace Lee, addresses the question of “What’s in a name?” She noticed that she had a very common name among Asian-Americans which led to a sort of identity and stereotype formed around that name of “good Asian girl, quiet, well-behaved.” However, in the review it states that “Overwhelmingly, Grace Lee was a good girl, obedient, and quiet, often a devout Christian who played a musical instrument like the violin, and almost always an overachiever in school. It quickly became apparent that a monolithic Grace Lee identity had formed, inculcating many of the most common stereotypes associated with Asian-Americans” (Lee, 2006). In order to analyze and see if the identity and stereotype around the name really held any water, Grace Lee decides to embark on a journey and travel the country to interview other women that share the same name. Grace is able to meet many women and while some certainly did share and fit the image, others did not (ie. goth artist).
I think that this film review really captures a side of Asian-American identity that I wasn’t able to put into words. I certainly feel as though there is definitely a “stereotype” that society commonly puts on Asian women as “good, well-behaved, overachiever, etc.” that puts a lot of pressure onto individuals and have experienced first-hand as well as witnessed many young females that have a hard time finding their true identity because they feel conflicted due to all the labels they feel obligated to uphold.
Asians in America: A Demographic Overview
It’s frustrating to meet people who have pre-conceived notions of you before they get to know you. Or to speak to someone over the phone, then meet them for the first time in person to hear, “Oh wow, I didn’t expect you to speak such good English,” “Your pronunciation is so good.” It always catches me off guard because as someone that’s lived in America all my life, it’s not something I think about. Here are some interesting demographics from the American Immigration Council (2012).
- Asians are the fastest-growing racial group in the United States and now comprise one out of every 20 people.
- Two-thirds of all Asians are immigrants, the majority of whom have put down firm roots in this country.
- Nearly three-fifths of foreign-born Asians are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote, and over half speak English “very well” or better.
- Nearly half (48.1%) of employed Asians age 16 and over worked in management, business, science, and arts occupations in 2010.
- Asian businesses and consumers sustain millions of jobs and add hundreds of billions of dollars in value to the U.S. economy.
This is important because as we see more diversity with a growing Asian population, it’s valuable to not restrict people to stereotypes that may be seen commonly in the media. Not only will breaking these boundaries help build a stronger community, it’ll help share ideas for a more innovative future.
To sum it up…
From the examples that I chose, I was surprised to find out that ⅔ of the characters took on a more regularly seen ‘main’ role and not just a minor, supporting role. I was also pleased to find that in these more recent films, there were very few Asian stereotypes that were seen such as speaking little English, being a “goody two-shoes,” “straight-A student,” bad driver, quiet good girl, exotic, etc., that were many of the characteristics seen in the brief moments played by a token Asian female character in many older films.
Another surprising and interesting pattern that I noticed was the fact that any of the Asian characters played by these actresses could have been replaced by any other ethnicity actress. All the characteristics portrayed by these characters that might have ‘not fit the Asian stereotype’ would not have been seen if they were replaced by a white female actress.
Overall, I think that there has been a shift in Asian-American female portrayal in the media which definitely takes down many boundaries and lessens stereotyping. Although there are not nearly as many Asian or other actresses of color as there are white actresses, as America and the media diversifies, I see a potential for growth in the types of roles and number of roles Asian and actresses of color will be able to take on.
Prior to the extensive research that was done over the course of this class, I had only thought about how the media used Asian characters to portray stereotypes. I saw lots of comedic Asian characters that would play these roles just to “fill” the spot which only solidified these nonsensical stereotypes. Taking a different approach, I was able to search, find, and analyze more recent films that not only did not follow the traditions but rather made it a point to not make it any different from the role being played by a white actress. This was something that I had never realized and allowed me to have great appreciation for these films.
A big wake up call was during week 3 where we analyzed“A Brand by Any Other Name” by Douglas Rushkoff. I was surprised to find out how much background analysis is being done in advertising and marketing certain brands to target children. It’s interesting to think about the many changes that have resulted from only being able to consume media to being able to interact with it. The Pokemon example that Rushkoff uses illustrates the fandom perfectly in the way that it started off merely as a tv show that kids would watch for entertainment. Then, with the rollout of the video game, the storyline consists of adventures that were portrayed on the tv show (collect monsters). Finally, when Pokemon cards were invented, it created a tug on kids as they needed to collect (by buying more cards) in order to be a “better player.” “Pokemon teaches them how to want things that they can’t or won’t actually play with. In fact, it teaches them how to buy things they don’t even want. While a child might want one particular card, he needs to purchase them in packages whose contents are not revealed. He must buy blind and repeatedly until he gets the object of his desire.” When I read this, it led me to see how much of a vicious cycle of advertisement Pokemon had been the entire time. It’s really taught me to take a step back when getting sucked into convincing advertisements and ask myself whether or not it’s something that I really want or if I want it for the brand.
Finally, one of the most helpful assignments was the annotated bibliography where we had to find good, reliable secondary sources. By taking the time to figure out how to sort through many articles and navigate to find a reliable source through using specific keywords, I have learned to efficiently find scholarly articles that I will use for the entirety of my college and professional career.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Dir. David Yates. Perf. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., 2007. Film.
- 13 Reasons Why. By Brian Yorkey. Dir. Jay Asher. Perf. Katherine Langford and Dylan Minnette. A Netflix Original. Netflix, 2017. Web.
- Grey’s Anatomy: Season 1-10. Dir. Chandra Wilson and Kevin McKidd. By Shonda Rhimes. Perf. Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, and Sandra Oh. American Broadcasting Company, 2005. TV show.
- “Asians in America: A Demographic Overview.” American Immigration Council. 26 Apr. 2012. Web. 20 May 2017.
- Lee, Grace. “Grace Lee as Asian America: A Film Review of The Grace Lee Project (2005).” Ed. David Lee. 15 (2006): 63-66. Academic Search Premier [EBSCO]. Web. 12 May 2017.
Today women are seen in a diverse array of fields including piloting, engineering and even on the front lines of combat in war zones. Though we see women trying to take charge and engage themselves in many fields that they are passionate about, is it a worthwhile pleasant achievement or is it a path filled with obstacles? A lot of us are aware of how women have to juggle between different roles starting from being a mother, daughter, wife or even the only candidate who earns for the family. This post will highlight the struggles and the stereotypes that exist about the women in technology that make their success curve stagnate or even end. Many obstacles exist in the lives of women that include: unfriendly office atmosphere, constant taunts from co-workers, demotivation or inadequate support from family etc. that often result in a women’s professional life to either end or show no improvement. Will the situation for women improve and what role does popular culture have in this topic is what this blog post will cover?
Portrayal in pop culture and media:
Women are portrayed in a very particular manner in each source that I have found. Some of them portray women as a treat for the eye or a source of entertainment while others show the unruly work environment and harsh comments that they listen to as they work. I was very surprised to see the reception of women to be in a certain way in each movie or source that I observed. I collected sources that belonged to different time frames to be able to compare the changes in the perception of women in technology fields. It will be interesting to see the evolution of women in the technology industry. The media sources that I use emphasize the pain and the complicated situations that women go through to have a decent footing in their jobs, however, it hasn’t managed to show how women today are slowly trying to combat the male dominance or chauvinism in the industry to build a world for themselves.
The first source that I observed was the TV series called Knight Riders that was broadcast in the 1980s. It was one of the most popular TV series of the time and well known for the unique storyline and concept that was technologically advanced. The plot was based on the lives of engineers in a crime investigation and justice firm that made use of an artificial intelligence driven advanced car. The program was called the Knight Rider Two Thousand (KITT) Pilot Program and the objective was to save and protect as many people as possible with their bullet fast ideas and car. The chief technician and engineer of the car was a lady named Dr. Bonnie Bestow played by Patricia and her role went through several ups and downs with every season. She was initially portrayed as a person with little or no experience and contribution and is clearly irked with her coworkers, but as a few episodes pass by, there is a change in her behavior and she is shown as a woman who talks only when required and is the only person who can fix the software and technical difficulties of the car. It is amazing that the main lead of the show saw her as an intelligent person who is an excellent problem solver. I think the problem that seemed to sometimes annoy her was the unnecessary commenting of her coworkers and the constant discussions they had, to demotivate her and provoke her to leave. Such disturbances and frequent conversations can often force a person to give up but in this case the female character came out unperturbed.
Dr Bonnie in KITT car
I think the highlights of the show that served as evidence to the way Dr. Bonnie was treated include: the pranks that her coworkers played on her when she was engrossed in work, the constant arguments that they had around her, unnecessary provocative acts and the hostile environment that she was being put in at times. This correlated to my thesis by proving that women often had to go through many more obstacles than male counterparts though they were genuinely talented and truly deserved their jobs.
The second source that I used to show the portrayal of women in tech was the recent movie “Hidden Figures”. The journey of three women in NASA is shown and there is a racial comparison and discrimination that is highlighted in the movie with respect to the African American women. Despite their hard work, perseverance and their struggle, initially they were not rewarded for their contribution. The story picks up momentum in the middle, where the African American women learn new skills and work hard towards a satellite project that would benefit the nation. They are noticed for their contribution and slowly get accepted in an American dominated work environment that treated them as people of color and unskilled workers earlier. The transition shown in the movie tries to narrate the untold story of three women but also shows the hardships that African American women faced to fulfil their dreams of becoming successful scientists or engineers in NASA. Small details in the movie like the difference in treatment towards the African American women, segregated toilet, distance between the working spaces of the African American and the American people, struggle to be educated in an only whites’ college and difference in rules and legislature between men and women are depicted very well. I think the movie served its purpose of narrating the wonderful story and showing how three women had a very big role in launching one of the most prestigious projects that made the USA what it is today.
This relates to my thesis by means of highlighting how women wanted to build their career in technology fields but had to put in more effort and time trying to prove themselves rather than simply turning in their ideas and participating in group meetings. They were often either ignored or were never given the deserved respect and credit for the work they did.
The last source is an ad by a tech company: Microsoft. The ad tries to cover the perspective of girl children, their dreams and ambitions. Starting with a beautiful question as what do they want to be, we see answers like cancer specialists and scientists. we see how they are shown a glimpse of a working prototype of their future via the virtual reality headset. At the end, a donning image of the statistical information is shown with the graduation percentage of women from STEM fields being as low as 6.7%. The motive was to educate children and show them the future without directly stating the reasons. After researching the ad further, I found out that there were several reasons why this ad was formatted following a sequential order of questioning, getting an answer, giving an opportunity to look into the future, a shocking but truthful reality check and then the final reaction to the revelations made. This was interesting as it manages to appeal to the viewers conscience and inculcates a never say attitude in children. The ad was not only promoting its support to women and its product but was also inspirational and served as an eye opener.
Microsoft: Make what’s next ad (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5soEtBwH0Y )
This artifact or primary source highlights the change in the women popular culture depicts women today. It shows how female children are given an opportunity to experiment and see their options before deciding what they want to pursue for a career. Today women have their own groups and organizations that promote women empowerment and have the ability to create sustainable job opportunities for themselves.
A second deeper thought on this:
The secondary sources in my view served as an extension to these movies, TV shows and ads that portrayed working women and show how they were impacting their professional ambitions and dreams.
I used three main sources as my secondary sources and their titles are self-explanatory and serve as a mirror to the situation. The articles or journals include:
- Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women?
- Women in Technology: The Evolution of a Simple Program That Works
- TechnoCapitalism Meets TechnoFeminism: Women and Technology in a Wireless World
In all the three articles above, the keys points highlighted are the hostile environment women need to fight and the impact it has on their career curve and growth. They show the grief and the impact of the unsustainable work environment and the unwelcoming sarcasm that exists around women. Some famous stereotypes that are often talked about are that women are instinctively dumb and need more time to process and react to situations and they cannot be the final decision authorities or need review before final approval. All these traits or assumptions have been shown in the movies/ shows as well and these articles and journals restate these issues and have shown how women have started to create a stronger community to support and fight these obstacles.
These artifacts and journals highlight how women are constantly coming up with their self-created job opportunities where they have the freedom to express their views and execute their plans without any judgement or obstacles. Women empowerment, self-confidence and decisiveness to achieve are some qualities that we see in women today. Though there still remains plenty of hurdles for women the world has become a little more accepting towards woman entrepreneurs but the growth rate either stagnates or gradually increases based om the disruptive job market and extensive gender inequality.
From the above analysis, we can see how the portrayal of women in the media has flourished. Initially women were either depicted taking care of their children at home or doing strenuous mechanical jobs or non-technical jobs but now there is a great emphasis on women in tech as seen in the Microsoft ad and in the recent business school studies. Though this transition is great and has managed to stimulate and persuade women to join STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, there is still a barrier in the actual job market that awaits them. The hostile environment makes it more difficult for women to secure their jobs despite their genuine talent. Today there is a 2% increase in the number of women in technology. Though we have multiple organizations that try to get in more women into the techno commercial world, the results and figures would look better if they were welcomed and understood in a better way. Getting rid of the stereotypical image of how women engineers are, would make their stint in the tech industry longer and more effective. They would be more successful and would discover great breakthroughs in the industry.
- One of the most valuable resources that was a learning moment for me was the weekly reading assignment where we were required to describe the article/ video without any personal judgement. It taught me how to keep away my personal thoughts to ideologies related to any topic prior to observing and documenting the facts analytically.
- Another learning moment or resource was the annotated bibliography and the research analysis worksheet where the primary and secondary sources were listed and a relation between the topic and the sources was established. The importance of having different kinds of sources and extracting information from them to serve as evidence was understood at that point.
- Wajcman, Judy. “TechnoCapitalism Meets TechnoFeminism: Women and Technology in a Wireless World.” Labour & Industry: A Journal of the Social and Economic Relations of Work 16.3 (2006): 7-20. PSU Library. Web.
- Mundy, Liza. “Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women?” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 05 Apr. 2017. Web.
- Crumb, Jean Marie|Fenton Ray. “Women in Technology: The Evolution of a Simple Program That Works.” ERIC – Education Resources Information Center. N.p., 26 Apr. 1984. Web.
- F. (2016, August 14). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK8xHq6dfAo
- M. (2017, March 07) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjahbGqZu6U
Empowering through Asian Stereotypes
Being an Asian American, you find that stereotypes are based on assumptions usually coming from what you see and hear around you. Coming from Japan and moving to Hawaii, I experienced all types of stereotypes being that Hawaii is a melting pot with a diverse community of people. In this day and age, where technology is rapidly advancing, stereotypes that are portrayed in popular culture and media can affect the way one thinks of another. To discuss this issue, I analyzed the T.V sitcom “Fresh off the Boat”, a sports article from BleacherReport on basketball player Jeremy Lin, and an online article talking called “Getting the Message: Media images and their Stereotypes and their effect on Asian Americans.” I will be implementing these sources to bring attention to the stereotyping of Asian Americans and how the Asian community has successfully combated this issue through popular culture.
FRESH OFF THE BOAT:
In the research analysis, one T.V show that I used as a source is “Fresh Off the Boat”. Fresh off the Boat is an American sitcom based on the book Fresh off the Boat: A memoir by Eddie Huang. The show depicts how Eddie and his family who moved from Chinatown in Washington D.C to Orlando Florida and the adjustments that the Family has to make being that there is not a large Asian population there. Many people found the title of the show “Fresh off the Boat” to be offensive, implicating that the immigrants are arriving to America off the boat. This can be dated back to the 1880s when people were migrating over from different countries to come to America. As you can see, this was a long time ago, and seems outdated and irrelevant because immigration of Asian Americans happened generations ago. One thing I noticed about the show is that Eddie the character and narrator, tries very hard to try and fit in and mentions that that’s all he was trying to do. He wears shirts with famous black rappers as that is the culture for young kids. He was getting teased about his accent so he kind of goes against his culture and adapts to fit the one that surrounds him. His mother is having a hard time adjusting as well. She is used to her ways in Chinatown and finds American culture rather odd and different. His dad is ambitious and believes in the American dream as he owns a cowboy themed restaurant trying to make it in the business.
I found it interesting how Eddie wants to adapt to the American culture. Although his parents have noticeable accents, he does not. You can see it in the way he dresses such as wearing chains, jewelry, basketball jerseys, hats, and just keeping up on American trends. In another scene, Eddie is invited to sit with other kids at the lunch table because he liked a particular rapper, however they kicked him out because he was eating noodles which they found weird. This was also another stereotype. In the asian culture, rice and noodles are a staple in the cuisine so it’s not a surprise during the scene where he brings noodles for lunch. However, the “Americans” on the lunch table looked at his food in disgust like they’ve never seen noodles before. There reaction was over the top and made it seem that was such a foreign item that does not belong in the U.S. Another interesting thing was just seeing how the family tries to adapt to the culture around them. The father tries to fit in by opening up a cowboy themed restaurant in Orlando Florida. He is pursuing the American dream which is why many immigrants come to the U.S so that they get that opportunity. He is optimistic and is obsessed with his restaurant. The mom however, does not enjoy the move and is having a harder time adjusting to the move and adapting to American culture. She does not like the other moms around their neighborhood but is forced to hang out and spend time with them. She does things that the other moms like, such as jogging and doesn’t understand why they do it. The show is about how the Asian culture isn’t “normal” and how it isn’t accepted by western society, forcing the Huang’s to feel obligated to adapt to the people around them.
Jeremy Lin Remain an American Icon:
A secondary source that I found is an article on BleacherReport, Jeremy Lin Remains an American Icon, Even Five Years After Linsanity . This article talks about the Asian-American NBA basketball player Jeremy Lin and his unorthodox rise to success on the court. The author talks about how big he was, especially to the Asian American community, even those who weren’t basketball fans. He broke down stereotypes and prejudice that dates back to the 1800’s with the Chinese exclusion act of 1882 and Japanese internment camps during World War II. The author, also being an Asian American, talks about him growing up during Jeremy Lin’s prime in Massachusetts. He was familiar to the stereotypes that was said about his race and identity as Asians, that they come to America and are automatically labeled as smart, nerdy, dorky, and just not that good in sports, especially basketball. Jeremy Lin defied all of that. Nobody thought that an Asian can actually make it to the NBA. He didn’t listen to the stereotypes that were labeled to his race and the criticism that came with it. During college, he was called many offensive words and terms. He recalls one time during a game where the opposing team’s fans chanted “Ch–k”. He didn’t let that get to him however and just ignored what they had to say and just kept playing ball.
Basketball is a large part of the American culture with many of the stars being some of the highest paid and well known people in America. So for an Asian to become a star in the NBA means that he was an icon to Asian Americans. He excelled in the spotlight where everyone was watching. Fans and Americans saw that he didn’t fit the stereotypes of Asians, how they aren’t athletic and can’t play sports. Yet Lin broke down those barriers. By making it to the league, Lin disbanded the stereotype that Asian Americans were not just good at academics and school, but expanded the limits to what Asians can do and inspired many Asian Americans to not fall into these stereotypes. He embraces this role and said, “I rep for all the Asians, I rep for all the Harvard dudes, I rep for the Cali guys, I rep for the underdogs. I take pride in it. It is not a burden to me anymore.”
Getting the message:
The final article that I found is called “Getting the message: Media images and stereotypes and their effect on Asian Americans” by Mok, Teressa A. The article talks about how there is little amount of positive Asian American images and role models that are portrayed in mass media. This article discusses how the media does not often portray diversity for the the Asian American culture and how this may affect the perceptions on Asian Americans in western society. Mok also explains about how media can be a large source of information to how beauty is defined. This is important because of the lack of Asians that show up in pop culture and media such as movies and T.V shows. Media has a tremendous effect on society and especially pop culture because it’s how people receive information and knowledge on things. That is why with so few Asians being portrayed in media and popular culture, it affects how they are seen and what defines certain characteristics of the Asian identity. If Asian Americans aren’t portrayed without stereotypes, then people will still label them with those stereotypes. And when they are shown and made fun of, that’s how people will think that all Asians are based on what the media shows.
A significant moment that I had during the term was the discussion post from week 7, which asked us if we ever got tricked by the news we consume. We were asked if we were ever tricked by fake news and and fell victim to “clickbait”. Thinking about it, I realized that a lot of sources and information comes from media and such and noticed that they catch you by using titles that seem very interesting, however not true. It’s just a hook to get you to try believe something or make you think a certain way. This was important because it made me realize how influential media can be in popular culture. Mostly all of the information that we perceive is through news whether it’s on TV or social media. You can easily be persuaded to one side of a topic through what everyone else is saying and not your own true opinion. That’s why I believe that media is what drives stereotypes to existence and to have them stay and be relevant because that’s what people follow.
All stereotypes come from assumptions, based on what you hear from an outside source and what everyone else believes. This is heavily influenced by media in popular culture because access to information and news is always a click away. However, not everything you read or see is true and you should never assume how a certain person is like based on their race, culture, or social class because every individual is different. Asian Americans have broken down these barriers and are fighting against this issue through taking stands within popular culture . Stereotyping still exists because of the way Asian Americans are portrayed on media. With media having such a large influence to the people, we can kill stereotypes by eliminating it from tv shows, movies, and articles and present people to who they truly are through their individuality and unique characteristics.
Have you ever seen a film that stereotypes Asians? If yes, did that film prove that Asians
suffer from stereotype threat in popular culture? In the Looking into the popular culture mirror project, I tried to discover as to whether Asians are stereotyped in films. From what I discovered, Asians are stereotyped in films for entertainment purposes, and a result it could cause insufferable damage to the Asian community.
For my project, I decided to explore how ‘Fresh Off the Boat’, ‘Watters World: Chinatown
Edition’, ‘Fox News’, and ‘Family Guy’ portrays Asians. I tried to answer the following questions about these films: How are Asians depicted in these films? What’s the purpose of these films portraying Asians in the way that they do? If there are stereotypes about Asians in these films, do these stereotypes cause any harm? I used these questions to help accurately depict how Asians are portrayed in popular culture.
Analysis of how ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ portrays Asians:
‘Fresh Off the Boat’ is a television show which features the life an Asian family who
recently immigrated to the United States. Both the mother and father of the Asian family in the film seem to not be familiar with American culture. As a result, they are dumbfounded at the American way of life. Achieving the American dream is the goal of the parents of this family.Moreover, Eddie Wong is a child in the Asian family in this show who struggles to fit in with the students at school. As a result, he does some unusual actions to get attention from his peers. Once in the film, he starts eating American food instead of Chinese food at school because his peers ridiculed him due to the appearance of his Chinese food. Overall, it appears that Eddie Wong’s goal is to get the attention of his peers.
Here’s the trailer for ‘Fresh Off the Boat:
Analysis of how ‘Family Guy’ portrays Asians:
In ‘Family Guy’ Asians are portrayed as intelligent people with thick accents. The most
prominent portrayal of Asians in ‘Family Guy’ is them having thick accents. Practically all Asians in this film have a thick accent. Moreover, Asians are shown to have advanced positions in the workplace in this film. A clip from this film demonstrates an Asian father asks his son in a thick Asian accent if he was a doctor yet. In another clip, an Asian is used as a human calculator. Moreover, another clip shows Asians standing in a line after school waiting at a location so they can be the first to arrive to school tomorrow. These clips are examples of how Asians are used in ‘Family Guy’.
Here’s a video of an Asian being used as a human calculator in Family Guy:
Analysis of how ‘Watters World: Chinatown Edition’ portrays Asians:
‘Watters World: Chinatown Edition’ is a segment that was shown on Fox News. In the
beginning of an episode of ‘Watters World’, a news reporter mentioned that in the presidential debate Donald Trump gave negative comments about the Chinese. Because of this, he says that they are going to send Jesse Walters to Chinatown to get an understanding of how the Chinese perceive Donald Trump. Throughout the rest of the segment, Jesse Walters makes racist comments towards the Chinese people in Chinatown. Remarks such as asking Chinese people if they know karate, asking them on how their cultural traditions work were done in this segment. At the end of the segment Watters tells the audience that he believes that the people in Chinatown aren’t well-informed about politics in the United States.
Here’s the video of the ‘Watters World: Chinatown Edition’ segment:
Analysis of how ‘MADtv’ portrays Asians:
Miss Swan is an Asian character in MADtv who shown to not be fluent in English and to
have a thick accent. As a result, she struggles in communicating with others. One clip shows her going to a candy store and struggling to communicate with the store clerk. As a result, the store clerk is unable to understand what she’s saying to each other. In the background of this segment, there are people laughing to the responses that the store clerk makes to Miss Swan’s sayings.
Here’s a video featuring Miss Swan on MAdtv:
How are Asians depicted in these films?
In ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ the Asian family featured in the show are shown to be unaware of
American traditions. In ‘Family Guy’ the Asians shown are most predominantly seen to have thick accents, and to be highly intelligent people. Watters in ‘Watters World: Chinatown Edition’, made remarks that proves that he believes that Asians are masters of unarmed combat, and are dumbfounded about American politics. MADtv showed through the use of Miss Swan that Asians are not fluent in English, and that they have thick accents. Using all of this information, I deduct that the Asians in the films that I analyzed are depicted to be people with the following characteristics: intelligent, have a thick accent, masters of unarmed combat, unaware of American traditions, and are unable to speak fluently in English.
What’s the purpose of these films portraying Asians in the way that they do?
The films that I analyzed stereotype Asians. To me it seems that the stereotypes about Asians in these films are used to provide humor; all of the films that I analyzed are supposedly comedy films. I find that the purpose of stereotyping Asians to provide humor is most noticeable in MADtv; in MADtv one can hear an audience laughing in the background whenever Miss Swan makes an unusual remark using a thick accent with horrible English speaking conventions. In ‘Watters World: Chinatown Edition’, supporting the Republican party appears to be another purpose of the segment for stereotyping Asians. Many critics of Fox News have stated that Fox News favors the conservative agenda (Mitchell, Gottfried, Kiley, & Matsa, 2014). In the beginning of this segment a news reporter mentioned that Donald Trump made many negative comments about the Chinese. Watters at the end of the segment also mentioned that the Chinese weren’t informative about what’s happening in American politics. Lastly, I know that Donald Trump himself is a Republican. Using all of this information, I believe that this Watters World segment was done in an attempt to make the Chinese appear to be not informative enough about American politics to make reasonable counter arguments towards Donald Trump’s negative arguments about the Chinese. This segment doing this would further the political agenda of Fox News in helping make Republican arguments seem more valid, by supporting the then republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
If there are stereotypes about Asians in these films, do these stereotypes cause any
Asians being portrayed to be socially awkward, highly intelligent, masters of unarmed
combat, and uninformed about American traditions were the stereotypes used in these films. Moreover, portraying Asians as socially awkward can downplay an Asian’s values on American culture (Tran & Lee, 2014). This is awful for Asians because they will have to reaffirm their status as a real American; it makes it seem like they don’t know American traditions. Also, perceiving Asians to be intelligent causes them to appear to be the model minority, which can result in Asian hardships in the United States to be ignored (Tran & Lee, 2014). 22% of Asians attend schools where many of the students in the school are impoverished, compared to the 9.5% of whites who attend schools filled with many impoverished students. This results in Asian students being more susceptible to end up impoverished as adults than white students (Glass & Orfield, 1994). As a result of this, I believe that stereotyping Asians to be intelligent is awful, because it can result in people not helping Asians who need financial help; I’m assuming that having higher intelligence results in one in being able to earn more money. Lastly, I discovered that discrimination practices such as stereotyping is proven to cause minorities mental health problems (Kim, Wang, Deng, Alvarez, & Li, 2011). This means that stereotyping Asians in any form is a horrible practice because it can cause them to get mental health issues.
Ultimately, Asian stereotypes in films for entertainment purposes can damage Asians
mentally. Moreover, it can result in people ignoring the problems that impoverished Asians
have. People can prevent Asian stereotypes from forming in their mind by refusing to watch films that stereotype Asians; this may help eradicate Asian stereotypes.
Week 1: I’ve noticed that the internet usually gives me information that I accept to be
true. I assumed that this meant that my opinions are similar to the majority of others. However, the online filter bubbles Ted Talk showed me that this is not true, because it proved to me that the internet was preventing me from seeing ideas that I would disagree with. Overall, this Ted Talk about filter bubbles proved to me that the internet is preventing me from understanding others perspectives. As a result, I learned that I need to clean my browsing history and cookies, and turn on my virtual private network all the time to ensure that I’m being exposed to ideas that I disagree with.
Week 5: The USC study about inequality in popular films showed how little minorities are
being used in American films. This study proved to me that American films are lacking in
diversity. Due to this I now know that films in popular culture are filled with caucasians. As a result I can help ensure that films don’t give me the inaccurate belief that the United States has little to no diversity.
Glass, D., & Orfield, G. (1994). Asian Students and Multiethnic Desegregation.
Kim, S. Y., Wang, Y., Deng, S., Alvarez, R., & Li, J. (2011). Accent, perpetual foreigner
stereotype, and perceived discrimination as indirect links between english proficiency and
depressive symptoms in chinese american adolescents. Developmental Psychology, 47(1), 289-301. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0020712
Mitchell, A., Gottfried, J., Kiley, J., & Matsa, K. E. (2014). Section 1: Media Sources: Distinct Favorites Emerge on the Left and Right. Political Polarization & Media Habits. Retrieved June 6, 2017, from http://www.journalism.org/2014/10/21/section-1-media-sources-distinct-favorites-emerge-on-theleft-and-right/
Tran, A. G. T. T., & Lee, R. M. (2014). You speak english well! asian americans’ reactions to an exceptionalizing stereotype. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 61(3), 484-490.
“She’s blonde so she must be dumb. She is wearing glasses so she must be smart but socially awkward. She is not dressed very feminine so she must be a man hating lesbian. She is fat so she must be lazy.” These are some of the many stereotypes that are portrayed by popular culture media about females. Many individuals fail to realize how the media influences the way we think about people of a different race, nationality, and specifically gender. These sorts of widespread beliefs about women has negatively affected them in the workplace.
Over the years, our society and mass media shows us women are discriminated in their workplace based on their gender. I feel like gender discrimination happens so often in workplaces because women are often seen less powerful and for that unlikely to rise to the top compared to men.
I decided to explore these three movies in how females are portrayed in the workplace and also in how they try and succeed in their future. “The Devil Wears Prada”, “Legally Blonde”, and “Erin Brockovich.” All of these movies show how hard the females had to try to get to where they wanted to be in life and career wise. I want to address these questions: What do these movies have in common and how are they different? What successes each female had? How are gender roles in the workplace seen?
The Devil Wears Prada
This movie is about Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), a new assistant for Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), who is the head of Runway Magazine. Miranda treats everyone however she wants and is the boss. Andy has to do whatever Miranda tells her to do, like asking Andy to do ridiculous tasks. Andy doesn’t give up, and in the end Miranda offers her top assistant position and offers to take her to Paris. However the catch is, Andy has to fire the current assistant that’s working for Miranda, Emily (Emily Blunt), and Andy’ friend, which she unwillingly does. Andy’s relationship with her boyfriend Nate also breaks up because she doesn’t see him enough. He feels that Andy has changed a lot and isn’t the same person she was before the job she got offered. The movie part where Andy’s in Paris, Andy learns that Miranda is to be replaced and warns her about that. It turns out that Miranda already knew about that. Miranda prevented this move by giving her replacement to Jacqueline, another job position which pays better. Due to that she had to withdraw her original recommendation for that position, her second in command at the magazine (Nigel). Nigel is disappointed and mad that he didn’t get that position. But he still stays at his current job because he thinks Miranda would do something in return for what she did to him. Andy criticizes Miranda for that but Miranda says that she did the same when she fired Emily. Andy realizes this so she quits and leaves to go back to the U.S. In the end of the movie, Andy gets a journalism job (her original goal in the beginning), with Miranda’s recommendation. She learns that it’s better to be who you are then what you are expected to be and act like. This movie basically shows how hard Andy had to work to become the person on the top. It also shows how nothing comes easy in life.
Overall, this movie shows how hard women often have to work to achieve their goal in a workplace. Andy struggled through her time while working for Miranda, it showed how strong and hard-working women are. She always focused on the positive enough though her life was hell when she was working for Miranda. She had to sacrifice a lot to get where she wanted to be. She had to break up with her boyfriend, change her style, and always work extra hours. Eventually, she stuck to the end where she was offered a job at another magazine by Miranda’s recommendation. One quote I found very true that was said by Nigel to Andy was, “Let me know when your whole life goes up in smoke. That means it’s time for a promotion.” Things don’t come easy especially to females, they have to work hard to achieve what they want.
This movie is about a girl named Elle (the main character) who finds motivation to attend Harvard Law School. Her motivation is to basically win back her ex-boyfriend. But things change once she discovers the true passion for law. In this movie she was seen very girly, a dumb blonde, and someone that’s weak. I mean ‘weak’ as in weak to go above and beyond in being intelligent. She surprisingly got accepted into Harvard Law School and everyone was surprised, people were even making bets that she wouldn’t last it in Harvard til the end of the week. During the movie she proves to everyone that she’s not all that dumb but actually very smart, especially to her ex boyfriend. She proves it big, the part at the end of the movie where she wins a big case in court. I feel like this movie was to show how women can be anything they want to be whatever they look like.
Erin Brockovich, is a movie about the actual Erin Brockovich. Basically the film is a dramatization of the true story of Erin Brockovich, portrayed by Julia Roberts, who basically fought against the energy corporation Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). This movie basically describes an unemployed single mother (in the movie she is named Julia) that becomes a legal assistant for her authority (Ed) in this law firm. Before joining, she was a stay at home mother that was desperately looking for a job. While working at the law firm as a legal assistant, she finds out a cover up involving contaminated water in local community which is causing individuals of that community health problems. She basically helps the lawyers with this case and brings down a California power company accused of polluting a city’s water supply. She shows real feminism and the power of the female’s body. People in the workplace seemed to always find her very sexy and didn’t take her seriously because of the way she dressed. She shows that dressing the way she does isn’t always bad.
This movie really goes to show how important it is for a female to be who she is and dress how she wants to dress. It basically emphasizes on how it’s the intelligence that matters to get somewhere in the workplace not always the looks but the looks are for sure a plus for a female.
What do these movies have in common and how are they different?
In all of these movies there is some sort of portrayal towards females and how they’re stereotyped in the workplace. In the movie “The Devil Wears Prada,” they showed how Andy was a second assistant and how hard she had to work for what she wanted to become. She was seen as a girl who was a tool to her boss. Her ex boyfriend especially has seen that, and basically said that to her. This movie basically shows that females usually get it a lot worse than males, as to promotion wise, position wise, and just in general. Females are usually not always at the top (not the head bosses), unless they look and act powerful like Miranda, the character in this movie.
“Legally Blonde,” Elle, the main character in this movie,was showed as a blonde, a not so intelligent girl who needs a guy in her life. Later on she was showed as a smart, determined girl who got what she wanted in life. She was stereotyped as being too girly and unintelligent by many people. People thought she wasn’t smart enough to get into law school because usually blonde girls weren’t seen as lawyers, but she proved everyone wrong at the end.
In the movie “Erin Brockovich,” Julia that played the role of Erin, always got stereotyped as being a sex object. She was always judged by others of how she was dressed especially in her work place. She was just a legal assistant that barley was important in the law firm, but she proved to everyone that she was actually something and that she could do and find anything.
What’s different in all these movies is the type of setting the females were in and the type of jobs they were working at. Each had their own struggles and challenges. Each movie ends in many workplace successes for these women.
What successes each female had?
In the movie “Devil Wears Prada,” Andy achieves her dream job goal; to become a journalist. She does that by putting in her extra hours each day for her assistant job. By working hard and realizing the truth about herself, she achieves to be a journalist with the help of Miranda’s (her boss that runs the Runway Magazine) recommendation. “Legally Blonde,” in this movie Elle puts her mind to the test to become the best student and lawyer she could be by studying extra hard and seeing her true passion for law. The “Erin Brockovich” movie, Erin shows her true self and doesn’t let anybody at her work bring her down. She works extra hard to find why the people of a city were contaminated by the water. She’s the one that discovered what contaminated the water supply of a city in California. Each female in these movies has to work hard to achieve their goal, like to be a great lawyer everyone can rely on.
How are gender roles in the workplace seen?
Compared to males, females are often seen as less powerful in the workplace. Women usually earn 80 percent of what men are paid according to “Gender Inequality and Women in the Workplace” article. Women are usually the ones seen as caregivers to children and the ones that stay home. In the “United States: What do you think are the most important issues facing working women in this country today?” it shows that more males are promoted and advanced in workplaces than females. About 72 percent of men received promotions by 2010 compared to 65 percent of women according to the 2008 Catalyst Survey. Women really have to try twice as hard to achieve in life, while men can achieve easily. And according to “Women in the Workplace 2016” article, women are 19 percent to be the ones that have c-suite job positions which is such a little percent compared to the men. And as of the overall successes in jobs between these two genders, they are quite the same today compared as to when they were back in the day.
Women are often seen as less qualified and incapable leaders than men even to this day. They are usually discriminated by the gender in the workplace and always seen less powerful. Over the years, the workplace for women has changed beneficially for them. Women are now handling more leading job positions and get paid quite the same as men get paid according to “United States: What do you think are the most important issues facing working women in this country today?” statistics. Nowadays, you’ll not only see women taking care of children at home but males to since more females are working. Women are taking on bigger roles in workplaces today than they were back in the day.
I’ve learned to dig deeper into sources to find the hard facts that could be useful for my project. It really gave me a new understanding by digging deeper into sources I found reliable. I’ve learned how to properly tell if a source is legitimately reliable or not by going on the URl’s and checking out from where these facts were actually coming from. Knowing this, it could really come in handy for me throughout my years in college especially when writing research papers.
Another thing I have found very interesting and shocking was on Week 5. I found that week very eye opening since the topic for that week really grabbed my attention. It was about the Inequality in 700 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race, and LGBT Status from 2007 to 2014. The statistics really shocked me, I didn’t really know how much people were misrepresented and portrayed in films especially other races than whites and females. It really made me think of how much diversity there is in films. The things I’ve learned through that week, they really put a more better perspective of how I now see films and movies. It broadened my view of how much diversity there actually is in popular culture films I consume daily.
Brockovich, Erin. “Consumer Advocate.” Erin Brockovich. Erin Brockovich, n.d. Web. <http://www.brockovich.com/>.
Gannon, Drew. “How Men and Women Differ in the Workplace.” The Fiscal Times. The Fiscal Times, 25 May 2012. Web.
Josh. “Gender Inequality and Women in the Workplace.” Harvard Summer School. Harvard Summer School , 13 Apr. 2017. Web. May 2017. <https://www.summer.harvard.edu/inside-summer/gender-inequality-women-workplace>.
“Legally Blonde (2001).” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0250494/>.
“The Devil Wears Prada (2006).” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0458352/>.
“United States: What Do You Think Are The Most Important Issues Facing Working Women in This Country Today? (by Gender).” Statista – The Statistics Portal, Statista, http://www.statista.com/statistics/328146/issues-facing-working-women-today-men-women/, Accessed 15 May 2017
“Women in the Workplace 2016.” McKinsey & Company. McKinsey & Company, Sept. 2016. Web. <http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/women-in-the-workplace-2016>.
Whitewash: to gloss over or cover up
As a huge fan of films I have taken a notice to the lack of Asians in popular films. This lack of Asian actors and actresses has contributed to the whitewashing of Asian characters in films, whitewashing has been described as the portrayal of a colored character in film or television by a white actor. Whitewashing allows a continuation of the way Asians are cast in films and gives its audience false representation of the Asian community and identity. Even after many controversies surrounding whitewashing, creators continue to cast white actors and actresses to play Asians in films. I will be discussing the different forms of whitewashing within the popular films; Aloha, Ghost in the Shell, and Kubo and the Two Strings. I will also be discussing these films with support of media sources to display the impacts that these whitewashing experiences have effected the Asian community and identity. The rise of Asians and Asian American voices has sparked a conversation about Asian whitewashing in film, I will be discussing the effects and the ramifications that whitewashing has on the Asian community and identity.
ALOHA – Whitewashing of a Race
Aloha was produced and directed by the well-known Cameron Crowe. This film features an all-star cast led by Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, and many others. Aloha hit major controversy after being called out for whitewashing the only “Asian” character in the film. Emma Stone’s character, Allison Ng states in the film she is both a quarter Chinese and Hawaiian. The creators whitewashed a character by casting a white actress to portray someone of Asian, Pacific Islander descent. This is important because she is misrepresenting identities who are already under represented across popular culture. What was surprising for me to realize was that Allison Ng was an original character who could have been cast to play the part described or her character’s profile could have changed to fit Emma Stone. This was an indication that whitewashing originates through the creators of the film. Another aspect of the film that I found as a way of whitewashing was that this whole cast was white even though the film was set in Hawaii where the majority of the population is Asian, this was another way of whitewashing through the misrepresentation of a whole community and population. This also highlights the problem with the film industry that white actors and actresses can just “act” like another race and identity like it’s something that they can just become.
“A celebrated military contractor returns to the site of his greatest career triumphs – the US Space program in Honolulu, Hawaii – and reconnects with a long-ago love while unexpectedly falling for the hard-charging Air Force watchdog assigned to him. ” – Sony Pictures Entertainment
With a storyline that has little to do with Hawaii, Hawaiian, and Asian culture, Aloha is another example of films that continue to appropriate Hawaiian and Asian culture by using the setting to make money.
GHOST IN THE SHELL – Whitewashing and Stereotypes
Ghost in the Shell is another film that has received major backlash for whitewashing. This article, ‘Ghost in the Shell’: 4 Japanese Actresses Dissect the Movie and Its Whitewashing Twist presents real comments from Asian actresses and their view on the whitewashing from this film. Ghost in the Shell is originally a manga made and popularized in Japan, where all the characters were portrayed as Japanese. Many audiences have accused the creators of the new adaption of whitewashing the main character Major Motoko Kusanagi a militant cyborg in future dystopian Japan, who is played by Scarlet Johannsen. The creators of the film tried to explain that it was not whitewashing by explaining that the character was a robot and did not have an “identity”. However, I see this as another from of whitewashing because the creators took a character who is originally Asian.
These sci-fi genre films are known to use Asians to portray robotic beings, who are created by white men, and often times are transformed to appear and look white on the outside, for example the film Ex Machina also does this (Nishime, 29-31). This repeated portrayal is damaging to the representation and identify of Asians, especially Asian women. It creates an identity of Asian women as slaves and beings that exist to be changed into who ever the “white man” wants them to be. Using white actresses to replace characters who are originally Asian is also another form of whitewashing. The original characters were Asian and by whitewashing these characters it gives this representation that Asians can be passed over and dominated.
KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS – Whitewashing in Animated Films
Kubo and the Two Strings is an animated film set in period Japan about a boy and his adventure to escape his grandfather and aunties, he is accompanied by a monkey and beetle who represent the souls of his parents. All the characters in this film are Japanese and are voiced by famous white actors, including Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, and Ralph Fiennes. This film went under fire for the whitewashing of all of the film’s main characters and lack of Japanese voice actors. The only notable Japanese voice actors from the film were George Takei and Cary Tagawa who voiced characters with limited lines, both actors are very popular for the presence in popular culture. However, their casting seemed to represent them as the “token Asians “.Through my research and analysis of this film I realized that there was a different form of whitewashing within animated films, this is a debatable issue but it is one that definitely needs to be discussed.
At first I thought that it does not matter who voices the characters, only the voices of the actors and actresses is what matters for an animated film. However, this article, by Complex, The ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ Controversy Proves Whitewashing Is More Complicated Than You Think, shined a light on the way this is a form of whitewashing. Complex interviewed the CEO of Laika, Travis Knight who said, “For those that are humans, it was important for us to have authenticity in terms of the characters. Most of the characters that are human characters are [voiced by actors] of Asian descent.”, Knight himself explained why it is important to cast Asians to voice the characters but his words do not reflect back on the film since all of the main and important characters were not voiced by actors of Asian descent. I found Kubo and the Two Strings to be a great movie that appropriately displayed Japanese cultures and values, however after researching more about whitewashing in animated films it makes the film seem less authentic.
This article by NY Times, Why Won’t Hollywood Cast Asian Actors?, revealed reasons behind why whitewashing of minorities is still prevalent in today’s film industry. One of the main reasons why Asians are not cast in big-picture films are because it is too “risky” and it is a matter of making more money for the film. Ridley Scott, a popular film director was quoted in the article saying, “I can’t mount a film of this budget” and announce that “my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such.” Apparently, film makers assume that by casting a non-white lead it may put off a larger audience, however the article also points our that this is in fact the opposite. Based off of a 2012 study by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at University of California, Los Angeles it was revealed that films with diverse leads resulted in higher box office numbers and returns for studios and producers.
Another reason stated in the article was that there are too little Asian celebrities out there available to cast. The screenwriter for Ghost in the Shell, Max Landis was quoted saying, “There is no A- list female Asian celebrities right now…not understanding how the industry works.” Another screenwriter Aaron Sorkin was also quoted who said, “There aren’t any Asian movie stars.” This seemed questionable to me, mainly because there are many known Asian actors and actresses who have starred in big picture films and even played main character roles.
Before my research I made assumptions thinking that the problem was with the audience and consumers of films. In my mind I thought about the attraction of Asian cultures here in America and it made me say, “Everyone’s got yellow fever until they have to watch an Asian for longer than an hour.” However, going back to Week 2 I learned how to avoid judgment and generalizations around an issue. Through this learning experience I was able to realize my judgments before I started researching and realizing the real issue behind whitewashing. By using the techniques of analyzing sources I was able to find the information to change my assumptions and also provide evidence to support my thoughts and feelings towards this issue.
During my research I found that whitewashing is just part of a bigger problem. Films in general are fully cast with white actors and actresses, if an Asian is written into a film they usually are written specifically to play an “Asian” role. The lack of creators to find and cast Asians, influences whitewashing that results in less representation and the wrong representation of Asians. Whitewashing is not only an issue for Asians but for many other minority identities. Films are major parts in popular culture and have the major possibility to influence society. The Asian community has been vocal and has fought whitewashing repeatedly, now that whitewashing is being clearly recognized it is time for America to change how it portrays Asians in popular culture.
Arad, A., Arad, A., Cositgan, M., Paul, S. (Producers), Sanders, R., (Director). (2017). Ghost in the Shell. United States. Dream Works Pictures.
Crowe, C., Rudin, S. (Producers), Crowe, C. (Director). (2015) Aloha. United States: RatPac Entertainment,Recency Enterprises, Scott Rudin Productions, Vinyl Films.
Knight, T., Sutner, A.(Producers), Knight, T (Director). (2016). Kubo and the Two Strings. United States: Laika
Nishime, L. (2017). Whitewashing Yellow Futures in Ex Machina, Cloud Atlas, and Advantageous: Gender, Labor, and Technology in Sci-fi Film. Journal of Asian American Studies 20(1), 29-49. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Retrieved May 14, 2017, from Project MUSE database.
The ever evolving world of scientific discovery is often only limited by those who oppose it.
Who are we, the “educated, bureaucratic and often maniacal” to super impose the existing thoughts of one who has, often since their youth, been taught to believe one way and deny those who do not? Why exactly would they trust us (the science minded individuals)? Is it simply that those who are behind the times fear that new concepts will alter their world too greatly for comfort, i.e Galileo, Alan Turing; or are there greater forces at work? What was once regarded to as dark magic, then madness, social ineptness and now corruption the scientists of earth have almost always had implicit thoughts working against them and now, in 2017, we (The United States of America which was once known as the front runner of the industrialized world) have pulled out of an agreement set in place to protect future generations due to a flawed rhetoric, economic frugality and simply put distrust of the men and women in lab coats.
When critically evaluating the conception of distrust towards science and why. The obvious answer is found right in front of our faces, as they generally are, Popular culture and media.
As most of the more passionate climate change deniers are those of the working class generally baby boomers and generation X. The media of that time is an excellent potential source of bias. 1985
Back to the Future
Enter: Doc Brown – Everybody’s favorite bumbling mad scientist!
Back to the Future, the 1985 hit film directed and written by Robert Zemeckis features a 17 year old high-school student, Marty McFly, being pulled into the unpredictable and incredibly mind bending world of his “crazy” inventor grandfather Doctor Emmett Brown. The two go back in time and in order for them to return Back to the Future Marty (the straight man) must repair Doc’s Delorean time machine and make sure that the events of the past are executed exactly as they did preceding the them going back in the first place.
I have chosen to utilize this source for two reasons, firstly, it is incredibly well known and likely has been seen by many of the afore mentioned generation, secondly the character Doc Brown is a terrific representation of the untrustworthy and ‘mad’ persona that is often attributed to scientists and often the very word science, think about how many times you have heard or seen the mad scientist archetype in your life. Doc is the personification of societies perception of science and is only present in the film to create the issue in the first place and provide wacky and unpredictable humor. Why would we not expect those who view the film to not intrinsically incorporate this personality into their bias to a certain extent when thinking of science? This is a rather soft example, in order for me to remain a reliable voice in this debate I must also recognize the fact that this film is intended to be an action comedy and that it’s intentions were likely not to disrupt or influence the general public’s opinion, but if we are conscientious about issues such as violence, race and bigotry in films and how they affect the public’s opinion why should we not discuss this especially now that the issue of scientific distrust is influencing global politics?
There are people who believe that climate change is a global hoax propagated by CORPORATIONs to siphon money from the working class person. Even when chemists, biologists and physicists have seen, recorded, peer reviewed and dedicated their LIFE work to the effects of global warming.
Figures 1: Graph illustrating the correlation between expertise in the field of climate science and its logarithmic relationship to it’s acceptance as a real issue.Taken from the Skeptical Science website, graph derived from peer reviewed study: “http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/17489326/8/2/024024;jsessionid=EC9D16C4C596E53688EB82843765B935.c1.iopscience.cld.iop.org”
The most prominent example of how ‘undesirable’ the scientific based individual is in pop culture is present in American televisions highly viewed show…
The Big Bang Theory
Enter: Sheldon Cooper – The highly brilliant yet socially awkward and undesirable young man consistently at the end of the joke.
If we are to look now, 2006 – 2017, at what American societies perception of science has become, we must extend no further than Golden Globe winning Jim Parsons rendition of a nerd/scientist as Sheldon Cooper. The Big Bang Theory has been airing now for twelve seasons all with episodes (give or take a handful perhaps) linked to how the protagonist (Cooper) is unable to understand social situations and is caught up in his own mind thus preventing him from functioning normally. This is what science looks like in 2017, simply put, a joke. Currently, as of this date, rated as the 24th most popular television show airing in terms of consumer ratings, The Big Bang Theory never fails to remind us that:
- Not understanding Science is normal and funny.
- Laughing at scientists who do not fit into society is socially acceptable.
- Science is unapproachable and is not suppose to fit into our lives.
The show makes light of “nerd culture” by making references and jokes referring to how ‘geeky and silly’ it is to enjoy science fiction while at the same time undermining the actual representation of Sheldon himself. He is consistently being laughed at and not taken seriously, which brings us full circle back to Doc Brown.
‘Scientists should not be taken seriously.’
This is the message that we are sending to Americans and have been since Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. We cannot truly expect the uneducated and scientifically illiterate American to trust science when the message that is constantly being sent to them is that it’s okay to laugh at it and not understand it. Of course those who do not believe in climate change will attribute it to large corporations trying to take their money out of taxes because where is ‘Science’ (aside from technology) in their lives? It is a common pitfall for us as humans to disregard what we do not see and pass it off as false information. Society has continually been misinformed about the sciences and still is:
Figure 2.0: Statistics showing disconnect between educated scientists apart of AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) and average U.S adult.
and now Climate Change.
All of these are examples of science that was once refuted by the general majority and has been proven true time and time again.
Why does this matter to me?
As a student of science and one who identifies as what society has deemed ‘ a nerd’ I feel particularly inspired to discuss and impose these ideas for I feel that the majority of the American youth simply does not care about science yet is willing to criticize those who deny it. The majority of millennials were pro-staying in the Paris agreement and yet none of our voices seemed to have much of an impact in a world that seems dictated by those who vote with their ‘gut instinct’ or because they ‘liked what they heard’.
The misrepresentation of scientists in pop-culture and media has negatively impacted societies perception of science and scientists themselves leading to a rise in the refutation of important topics such as climate change. If we want to once again become a nation that is a front runner of science we must urge ourselves and our peers to research and listen to those who are educated even if we are not, he-said / she-said is not an accurate way of attaining information in an era that is so clouded with potentially false information.
As a woman in today’s day and age, I surely identify as a feminist in its political movement. In all honesty, my representation in the media and in most popular culture outlets is seen as comedy and for comedic use only. Not only is this personally discouraging, but it is breeding much room for misinterpretation and often times bullying. Through examples of popular culture in various mediums, I will prove that feminists are portrayed as a joke.
When thinking about the representation of feminists in the media, my mind first pops over to the sketch comedy production, Portlandia. This artifact hits home in many ways regarding my identity in that I am a native Portlander and Oregonian, as well as, feminist. The episode that exits most people’s mouths when hearing my identity would be the Feminist Bookstore. In this episode, Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen portray “typical” female, feminist bookstore owners in Portland, Oregon. However, this portrayal does not use its platform to create social change and equality. It paints a negative picture of feminists in order to create comedy out of a real and important social movement.
I noticed an intense idea of what feminism is seen as in the Portland scene. There is a kitschy bookstore based on women’s sexuality and gender. These women are depicted as over sensitive and in many cases prude. The whole scene just seems very over done and is a dramatic representation of feminists, who are real normal people. I found the extreme representation of feminists very interesting. This expresses the idea that feminism is seen as a group of intense, analytical, lesbian, man-haters.
I believe this source also hits home for all of us, as it is directed toward feminists in Portland, Oregon. Obviously, the entire show Portlandia is sketch comedy. However, this show has had a strong influence on how people see the citizens of Portland. The negative portrayal of feminist, overall, is powerful and also uses us as a tool to create comedy. In addition, the stereotype that all feminist are lesbian comes through in this skit. The angry fiery feminist image is one that is very overplayed when someone who is uninformed tries to describe what a feminist looks like. Overall, I feel like this skit mostly just plays into negative and really boxed in ideas of who a feminist is.
In the news article, The Real Feminist Book Store From ‘Portlandia’ Has a Message for the IFC Show: ‘F*ck Portlandia’ by Jordan Crucchiola, explains the issues between the North East Portland bookstore and the popular show, Portlandia. The bookstore thought that Portlandia’s representation of what goes on in the bookstore was completely false and just comedy. The original bookstore also claims that Portlandia has contributed to gentrification in the city. In addition, Fred Armisen’s portrayal of a feminist woman is said to, “throw[s] trans femmes under the bus by holding up their gender presentation for mockery and ridicule.” All in all, this article highlights some head on issues with the false representation of feminists.
This article relates to my primary sources in that it discusses the real issues that took place in reaction to the “Feminist Bookstore” episode of Portlandia. Therefore, I believe this article really extends my ideas surrounding my original Portlandia source. It highlights the idea of misrepresentation of feminists while showing the negative effects on the community because of this misrepresentation. Specific examples including, the demand to take down the Black Lives Matter sign in the store before filming, which directly contradicts what feminism is about, intersectionality. This article is like glimpse behind the scenes of my primary source.
Link to Portlandia Feminist Bookstore sketches:
As a millennial, I find a large portion of my time taken up by social media, in particular, memes. In the following article, I have presented a blog dedicated to anti-feminist memes. A large cluster of misinformation and negative stereotypes that could definitely steer many people away from feminism. Even going as far as to say that many would scoff at the phrase, feminist, if only exposed to these popular memes.
I noticed that most of these memes are text posts. They’re used to point out discrepancies in how feminists are stereotypically speaking and believing. These posts seem to have this vibe that says “I know so much about this topic”, while portraying the exact opposite of what the movement is about. If people were to base their opinion solely on what these memes depict, they would be uninformed and most likely, hateful. I found it most interesting that these memes are mostly just blindly hateful. These clearly represent the negative view of feminists for the sake of “comedy”. However, these memes also show us an outright flawed view of feminists and what being a feminists means.
Memes are used mostly for entertainment, but they are also used to state political views. I feel like many people use memes to relay information, however, this information is incorrect. In addition, the majority of memes surrounding feminists share crude and disrespectful jokes about the physical appearance of feminists, as well as joking about the “stupidity” of feminists. In addition, some of these memes take the opportunity to bash the physical appearance of what women look like. It’s like these people creating the memes are using beauty standards to create a negative outlook on feminists. I believe this is a tactic used to make the idea of feminists unappealing and unattractive so to speak.
However in the article, Hey Girl, Who Needs Feminism? Feminism as a Meme, by Milica Trakilovic explains the different types of anti feminist memes on the internet. Trakilovic also gives their audience a few sources depicting positive feminist representation and empowerment. This article debunks the stigma of feminists being man-haters, kill joys, and over sensitive complainers. There are also a few examples given to prove that real, positive feminist memes exist and do their job well. In conclusion, Feminism as a Meme gives clear details on how and why anti feminist memes create a toxic representation.
This article extends my ideas by providing an in detail explanation on the various types of memes targeting feminists in a negative light. I am using this secondary source to highlight one of my main artifacts that is a blog dedicated to anti feminist memes. The author of this article is very articulate in explaining why these types of memes are toxic. I truly enjoyed the tidbits included that provide sources to people who are fighting the negative representation of feminists in pop culture. However, the article also provides me with a few empowering and truthful feminist memes.
The representation of feminists as a joke in popular culture is combatted by Chimamanda Ngozi and her use of comedy as a tool for empowerment. Chimamanda Ngozi is a writer from Nigeria. She writes an array of literature including, novels, non fiction and short stories. She is also a MacArthur Fellowship recipient in addition to being a mighty feminist. In Ngozi’s, We Should All Be Feminists, TED Talk she utilizes humor to create a comfortable environment surrounding a seemingly difficult topic. In my opinion, this is a lovely way to reach people. Her message gets across and tackles the issues at hand not only regarding the importance of feminism, but the misrepresentation of the movement as well.
I noticed that Chimamanda Ngozi uses a lot of humor to get her point across to the audience. This aspect makes her a relatable resource for young people and I feel, just people in general. She uses a lot of imagery and simile to describe what she means and this also creates a clear understandable picture for the audience. Ngozi relates to her audience then pulls in topics that aren’t so common.
I found Ngozi’s use of imagery as a revealing point in her presentation on feminists. She really painted a picture for me with her words on feminism and people’s perception or first thoughts on people who are feminist. This really sticks out to me because it perfectly sums up how I feel when I proudly claim the identity of feminist. People often become discouraged or concerned when the idea of someone they know being a feminist. It’s absolutely hilarious, but it is also an opportunity to prove their negative biases incorrect. In addition, her story puts into perspective the importance of the movement, feminism. In the beginning of the Ted Talk she makes fun of the negative stereotypes surrounding the term feminist. As if it is a curse word or something to be ashamed of. However, she takes this humor and faces it to the reality of many women around the world and the importance of teaching equality to our youth. This is great because feminists are the ones constantly fighting for this equality.
Additionally, in Chimamanda Ngozi’s novel, Dear Ijeawele, Or, A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, it is formatted as a response letter to Ngozi’s friend on how to raise her daughter as a feminist. This book serves as an extension to the previous TED Talk, “We Should All Be Feminists”. The topics of this novel includes topics on how to raise a young girl to make choices based on actual wants and not social politics. How to show young people to not follow social constructs that keep women in boxes, or kitchens.
This book extends my ideas in that this piece is essentially part two to my primary source also done by Chimamanda Ngozi. The idea that we should all be feminists is continued by explaining how we can raise our children to be empowered people who also practice feminism in everyday life. There are also many instances where Ngozi explains the toxicity of our many social constructs. In addition to guidelines on how to raise a generation of people who are not limited or hurt by these constructs. It’s like the big picture of feminism in a positive representation.
Beyond the Black Community: How Black Female Artists Are Reclaiming Their Self-Worth
Existing in three marginalized groups, the message of the black female artist is one that breaks the systematic reigns of years of oppression. The common image of the “lazy artist” has been broken down by the hard work, dedication, and passion that black females have applied toward this field of creativity. I decided to explore the ways that black female artists were portrayed using 3 primary sources of text/video that examine the work of these women and how they fall in with modern day societal expectations. Through these examinations, it is evident that black female artists are portrayed as headstrong, hardworking, and dedicated individuals who embrace the identifiers that were once used to oppress them. While looking at these sources I kept in mind a few questions: Is there any way to accurately represent this identity in the media? How do these representations contrast with my original assumptions about my identity?
To Be Black, Female and Fed Up with the Mainstream
Not to be confused with the trope of the “Angry Black Woman” that is ever-so-common in today’s media, being a black woman and being fed up with the media means fighting past the stigmatized categories that people have constrained us in. Black women have grown increasingly tired with the common misconception that they are always “angry.” Through examining black female artists throughout a variety of fields from both past and present it is clear that black women are leaders in pioneering for social change. This first article, written by Holland Cotter and published for the New York Times examines what it means to be a black female through the world of art. Specifically, this article was written in examination of the “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85” exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. This article showcases the determination and passion behind the women of the Black Arts Movement that started in 60’s whose ideals are carried throughout the modern age. ‘Black Radical Women’ are seen as driven, artists who are not tied down by what the system says they can and cannot do.
Putting this feeling into a modern day example, I’m sure many of you are familiar with Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ album.
Upon reviewing clips from the videos of this album, it is clear that she is trying to communicate a visual story of the essence of black womanhood through using issues that pertain especially to the modern black woman. While many media outlets review Beyonce’s work as “defiant” “brave” and “powerful” (highsnobiety.com), other sources call it extremely “radical” and “anti-feminist.” What Cotter’s article and the media’s perception of Beyonce’s album share is the common desire of the artist(s) to seek triumph over the identifiers that once constrained the black female.
While I do not know for fact if there is any way to accurately represent the black female artist in the media, I can surely tell you that representing this identity in a way that exemplifies power, hard work, and a down-to-business attitude is definitely a step in the right direction.
Black Women as Pioneers for Social Change
The second source that I examined was TED Talk held in Harlem, by Thelma Golden who is the curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem. It was nice to view a source that was presented from the perspective of another black female artist. Its purpose is to educate her audience to the ways that art acts as a “catalyst of transformation” for a community. (TED Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow0bhKl1b04 )
Another detail to note, which primarily became the subject of her talk, was the difference between ‘of’ and ‘in’ within the context of speaking about The Studio Museum in (not of) Harlem. She brings this up for the purpose of defining the spirit of the black artists who the museum represents and also to uphold a certain level of correct representation toward her title. She breaks down in word-by-word format the formal title and what it is meant to represent. She explains what the subliminal exchange of the two words ‘in’ and ‘of’ do to the formal meaning of the title and how, by making a conscious effort to correct this behavior, not only are people accrediting the correct name to the building, rather they are fostering the continuation of the ideology behind the museum itself.
I thought this source was very interesting because it notes the line of respect that should be acknowledged when representing black artists. The way that she speaks of black art, as a movement with such admiration and affection in her voice, showcases her profound feelings toward the subject. One of the most interesting details was the separation of ‘in’ and ‘of.’ At first Golden presented it as a mere way that her title as art curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem was misrepresented, however by the end of the video she turns the thought into two separate entities that have different meanings. It reveals how much she cares about the image that her work is representing. I also found the way that she presented the information to be very direct because it was able to tie in the major themes of community, innovation, and representation.
Golden’s presentation demonstrates the same hard work and dedication that black female artists have applied to the way their title is viewed throughout our culture. As another secondary source I examined the Twitter hashtag ‘#blackgirlmagic’ and its effects of representation within culture. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many positive movements that perpetuated the progressive ideology of being more vocal about positive accomplishments of the black community, specifically of black girls in order to lead social change. While this subject represents any and all accomplishments of black women and girls I’ve taken a few examples of #blackgirlmagic that resonate specifically with the art community:
How Black Females Past and Present Have Shaped the Art World
“Set Your Blackness Free” is an article written by La Donna L. Forsgren that analyzes Barbara Ann Teer’s role as a black female artist and how she played that role in the Black Arts Movement. Barbara Ann Teer was a writer, actress, producer and the founder of Harlem’s National Black Theater. The article summarizes how Teer’s involvement within the community rejected the effects of racism at the time and instead promoted the identity of the black intellectual through art. Though Teer was a woman who accomplished many things, the article also talks about critical backlash she received throughout history. “Gross generalizations of the Black Arts Movement as homophobic and sexist have contributed to the dismissal of many female artists who were, in fact, vital to the success of the movement.” This article relates to my own ideas of showing black female artists as pioneers of community. The author of this article examines the work of Teer through a positive light that showcases the determination of her cause.
“This Necessary New Exhibition Highlights the Activism of Black Female Artists” is another article written by Jasmin Hernandez who talks about the necessity of representation of black women artists in our culture and uses an exhibit at the Brooklyn arts museum as an example of this representation. Aside from being referred to as “commitment to art, feminism, and social justice,” ‘We Wanted a Revolution’ is an exhibit that showcased various mediums of art, film, literature, and photography from more than 40 artists. Co curated by Rujeko Hockley, who is being interviewed for this article, both the author and Hockely have very relevant opinions about the representation of artwork by artists of a variety of classes and color. This article quotes, “We Wanted a Revolution shines a light on the artist-activists of color working outside of the dominant white, middle-class feminist narrative. It is the first major museum exhibition to focus specifically on black female artists from that era.”
This source, again, relates to my own ideas about this subject because it acknowledges the social divide that is a common occurrence within the art world, yet simultaneously perpetuates the relevance that art and activism hold within a cultural community. It is great that the article includes an interview with the co-curator because it discusses the intended purpose for what this show hopes to accomplish from a first-hand perspective. The article is very positive, overall and brings a good message to this topic about inclusiveness and social change.
Black Females and Their Lasting Effects on Art culture
In conclusion, it is evident that the work of black female artists is prevalent within our community. Through the platform of art, black females have paved the way to several ideas conversations that require our society, specifically our media, to look at how marginalized groups are being represented. Before reviewing these sources, I had expected to see a lot of negativity surrounding black women in artistic fields. Relating it to my own upbringing as a creative black female, the research was vastly different than what I had expected. I was more than happy to see black women being viewed in a positive light, for the most part. Several of the articles reviewed this identity as a determined group of individuals who advocate for social awareness and change. While I now know that there is no “one size fits all” method when it comes to representation in the media, it is truly a joy to see how black women are advocating for uplifting each other as well as the community.
“Being a part of this reemergence of a movement both pro-diversity and pro-woman is the best part of being a Black girl. It’s more than, “I stand for this because I should.” I stand for this because this is part of who I am as a human being.” –Yara Shahidi
- Analyzing media sources was a huge factor in learning how to understand my artifacts and discovering the message behind what they were trying to communicate. I was able to take this learned information and apply it to choose the ways in which I selected my primary and secondary sources.
- Another important Learning moment was doing the Research Analysis worksheet. Creating questions to explore in my paper helped me with the process of transitioning from my sources, to the ways that my sources related with my own thoughts/beliefs about my identity.
This Necessary New Exhibition Highlights the Activism of Black Female Artists, Jasmin Hernandez, Elle “culture” http://www.elle.com/culture/art-design/news/a45003/we-wanted-a-revolution-brooklyn-museum/
La Donna L. Forsgren, “Set Your Blackness Free” Barbara Ann Teer’s Art and Activism during the Black Arts Movement, Project Muse, https://muse-jhu-edu.proxy.lib.pdx.edu/article/576874
THELMA GOLDEN | TEDxHarlem, “Innovation Through Art – The Preposition Problematic”
To Be Black, Female and Fed Up with the Mainstream, by Holland Cotter, published for the New York Times
Thrill Seekers In The Media
Popular Culture misses the mark for numerous types of people, in numerous ways. There are so many images given to us throughout the media that can morph our views of ourselves, and our views of others. Popular Culture has missed the mark in their attempts to display people who are thrill seekers or adrenaline junkies. I will explain how the media displays thrill seekers to be very specific and unrealistic types of people, with high adrenaline activities kept exclusively for them, and how the media discourages other types of people to be thrill seekers even though there are numerous benefits to such personalities and activities.
As I was actively seeking to find how the media portrays thrill seekers, I noticed a pattern arising. Even though there were seemingly diverse types of people that the media portrayed as thrill seekers, they all seemed to have something in common, abnormal abilities or lifestyles. As I explain this pattern, I will show the reader different movies where thrill seekers are the center of the story. One will most likely see the pattern as they read through these examples.
James Bond Casino Royale:
The first example I examined that portrayed a thrill seeker was the movie James Bond Casino Royale. This first artifact almost instantly caught my eye since it is such a high adrenaline movie. The entire movie is centered around the character James Bond whom is a British spy. This character is a very common thrill seeker displayed by the media. This is because there are numerous movies that portray the lifestyle of a violent man who is always chasing the next life threatening high adrenaline activity.
In the movie Casino Royale, one of the opening scenes is a foot chase between Bond and his target. This scene shows Bond chasing this man (who turns out to be a parkour veteran) through a massive city scaling construction structures and buildings. Though this is exciting, this is where we run into our first unrealistic display of a thrill seeker. Bond is undoubtedly a thrill seeker since throughout his story he is constantly chasing different thrills. Such thrills include life threatening violence, gambling millions of dollars, and many more similar activities. An issue surfaces when examining such a character because it is such an unrealistic version of a person. Bond is an “over-the-top” adrenaline junky that doesn’t mind risking his life when working, or risking his money at a poker table. This is an issue because not all high adrenaline activities are life threatening, but Bond seems to be incapable of doing anything else.
Not only does Bond constantly take part in high adrenaline activities, but those activities are often paired with immense destruction to a person or the surrounding environment. This is a very common way of displaying high adrenaline activities because people often associate those types of activities with conquering nature or some overwhelming force. This too is a negative way to portray thrill seekers because it communicates a need to be an aggressive conqueror. Perhaps this is why only about 4% of activities people do while on vacation are high adrenaline activities (“Most Popular Multi-Generational”). Are people under the misconception that these activities are life threatening and aggressive? When popular culture displays thrill seekers as purely conquerors, it excludes all the many different types of personalities that may just want to face their fears or feel an adrenaline rush.
The next artifact that I examined was the movie Spiderman. Spiderman displayed a very different type of character than James Bond, with some major similarities under the skin of the character. In Spiderman, Peter Parker receives powers that allow him to scale walls like a spider and swing in between buildings with spider web coming out of his wrists. There are numerous scenes that are purely to display such powers matched with fighting and action.
Spiderman does differ from James Bond in a very specific way, Spiderman does not seek out thrill inciting activities, but rather seems to just accept them, sometimes begrudgingly. Though there are differences in character personality between Peter Parker and James Bond, both movies are displaying a very unrealistic way of living with high adrenaline activities. With such an extreme character, the viewer is left with an extreme feeling towards high adrenaline activities. Like James Bond, Spiderman’s high adrenaline activities often level buildings and the surrounding environment. This again communicates the “conqueror” mentality in thrill seeking.
Though different to James Bond in some ways, Spiderman displays very similar concepts and views towards high adrenaline activities. Why must those who love to feel a thrill be aggressive and violent? Why must high adrenaline activities be life threatening and destructive? These are all portrayals of thrill seekers and the high adrenaline activities that the media displays over and over, and such forms of portrayal can lead to negative feelings towards thrill seeking types of people and their activities.
The last artifact that I examined was the movie Interstellar. Interstellar sings a very different tune than that of Casino Royale and Spiderman. In Interstellar, there is a father who is pushed by his love of excitement and the unknown to leave his family, explore space, and find a new planet for humans to live on. This movie actually displays a more positive view of thrill seeking and high adrenaline activities.
Fortunately, Interstellar invokes in incredibly strong feeling of wonder and excitement. Where Casino Royale and Spiderman display crime fighting and destructive characters, Interstellar display the opposite. This was perhaps the only media artifact I found that genuinely seemed to try to push the viewer to go and explore their world. This artifact displays a type of thrill seeker that can positively encourage all to partake in such activities. This movie does this by displaying the main character as a man looking for possibly the most exciting activity one could partake in, exploring space.
This movie is a great example of popular culture operating in one specific way that it should operate. In this movie, popular culture is showing us that facing the unknown is exciting and productive, and even very important. When I was examining these artifacts, I came across an article explaining that when more people partake in high adrenaline activities, it has positive effects on the environment. The article explains that since so many high adrenaline activities are outdoor activities, partaking in such activities connect the participant with nature in a deeper way therefore leading to a desire to protect the environment. “Feelings of connection, unity or being a part of the natural world, according to this eco-psychological perspective, are a causal step to emotional care and behavioral commitment, to wanting to protect the natural world, and to being willing to endure sacrifice in order to look after the natural world” (Brymer, Downey, Gray).
The unfortunate reality however, is that there are far less movies, TV shows, and other popular culture artifacts that reach our culture on such a massive scale that portray thrill seekers in such an attainable and meaningful light. Though exploring wormholes and black holes is out of our reach for now, Interstellar shows us a type of person we all can be when we adventure into the unknown and excitement.
Unfortunately, the media overwhelms the concept of thrill seeking with aggressive conquering, life threating activities, and exclusivity. If the media portrayed thrill seeking the right way, more people would be encouraged to face their fears and experience more of the earth that we are so fortunate to have. Thrill seeking is not just for those who are always looking to risk everything, but also for those looking to connect with nature and themselves. This is why it is so important for the consumer of popular culture to filter what they see through an introspective lens. Thrill seeking is not about testosterone or conquering, but about finding the parts of yourself that you may have yet to find, or overcoming the fears that may be holding you back.
Throughout the term, I have learned a lot about popular culture and its influence on our lives. The most influential aspect of the term for me was learning to examine artifacts at the beginning of the term with the help of John Berger. These skills of analyzing popular culture artifacts has helped me mentally notice different ways that popular culture misleads us or subconsciously influences us to think in certain ways. The other major learning point for me was when I picked one of my favorite movies to see how many characters were like me. This made me realize how very narrow our cultures media characters are portrayed.
Brymer, Eric, Greg Downey, and Tonia Gray. “Portland State University – Single Sign-On.” Journal of Sports & Tourism. Journal of Sports & Tourism, 1 Dec. 2010. Web. 19 May 2017.
“Most Popular Multi-generational Trip Activities in the United States as of February 2015.” Statista. AARP, 2015. Web. 18 May 2017.
In an environment where media and popular culture constantly dominate everyday life, it can sometimes feel a bit daunting. It can be a nice break to take a step back and analyze what is really going on every once in a while, and that’s why I did just that. Over the last seven weeks I’ve done some delving into myself to find out what it really means to be me, and how that person is portrayed in popular culture.
The first thing I did when starting out this project was pick out several different “identities” of myself, for example, I am a man, a dog-person, an athlete, and a Jew. For this project, I decided to pursue my Jewish identity and its representation.
Although there are many Jews relevant in pop culture, I decided to choose three specific examples. I’ve found that in the entertainment industry, Jewish people are often aware of their differences from the “norm,” and make use of self-deprecating humor to overcome the uncomfortableness that stems from that as a way to relate to the larger Jewish community as a whole.
The Hebrew Hammer
The Hebrew Hammer is a Comedy Central film released in 2003. It was released in American theatres on December 19th, the day before Hanukkah started that year.
In the film, the main character is the Hebrew Hammer, whose real name is name is Mordechai Jefferson Carver. His love interest is Esther Bloomenbergensteinenthal. The Bloomenbergensteinenthal family name is an obvious satire on Ashkenazic (Eastern European) Jewish names, which are usually difficult for Westerners to pronounce. Examples are Goldstein from Harold & Kumar, my family’s maiden name: Tulsky, or even Jon Stewart, who changed his name from Leibowitz due to people frequently mispronouncing it. Other than just the names, the character’s sport stereotypical Jewish garments, including Mordechai’s black broad-brimmed fedora, his kippah or yarmulke, and a large golden “Chai” necklace.
Another detail that seemed stimulating to me was his regular use of Yiddish and Hebrew words or phrases, as such:
The character’s overuse of these words, to the unknowing, may seem a bit much, but it is more than true. Whenever I have a conversation with my great-grandmother, Yiddish usually gets thrown around (mostly by her). She uses some of the same phrases as the characters in the movie, perhaps most commonly, schlep. A schlep is a long or uncomfortable journey or walk.
The main purpose of the film is as Samantha Baskind explains, “a film that pokes fun at Jewish stereotypes and easily/happily announces religious elements.” In her article, “The Fockerized Jew? Questioning Jewishness as Cool in American Popular Entertainment,” she explains further that “The point, though, is that to Jews the Hebrew Hammer, Ben Stiller’s multiple characters, and the public figures of Adam Sandler and Jon Stewart are cool. We want these Jews to be cool!” In this way, the characters are used to relate to the greater Jewish community as a whole.
Saturday Night Live – Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song”
Sandler starts “The Chanukah Song,” by dedicating it to all the Jewish kids who, like him, feel or have felt excluded during the holiday season without a Christmas tree. In this way, the song uses self-humor to bring the Jewish community together. During the song, Sandler sings about a whole lot of different Jewish celebrities that Jewish kids can look up to and not feel so alone during the holidays. He starts by mentioning David Lee Roth, the vocalist of band Van Halen, and throughout the song he mentions various other entertainers and celebrities.
The first line of the song was incredibly appealing to me. When he explains the “struggles” of being a Jewish kid during the holidays, he is absolutely right. It reminds me of the beginning of The Hebrew Hammer, where the same premise is put in place. The film begins during the holidays and a young Mordechai is the only kid playing with a dreidel, and at the same time, all the other kids are busy with Christmas themed things. I can directly relate to that scenario, because I was the only Jewish kid in my small town while growing up.
The song can further be used to illustrate Jewish humor and relating to other Jews by looking at Stephen Witfield’s article, “Voicing the True Meaning of Sandler’s ‘Chanukah Song.’” In the article, he draws a comparison between the already mentioned song and Peter, Paul and Mary’s 1983 song, “Light One Candle.” Witfield notes that Sandler’s song is much more upfront about his Judaism compared to the other band, and that “he did know how to touch a tender place in the heart of the American Jewish family, at a season of special vulnerability.”
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, or as he is now known, Jon Stewart, uses the quirks and stereotypes of his Jewish heritage to connect with members of the audience that may have a shared heritage. Jon began the above skit by claiming that the show focuses too much on politics, and that he would rather take this time to perform some crafts. Once he began crafting with popsicle sticks, yarn, and glue, New York Senator Charles Schumer interrupts his show.
Senator Schumer walks into the show speaking with a stereotypical nagging “Jewish mother” voice. For example, when asked what he is doing there by Jon, he responds with, “What, that’s all the welcome I get? Not, ‘Hello, how are you three term Senator of the great state of New York?’” When Schumer explained that he was here to talk about their diner experience in New York, Jon says he’s surprisingly interested. Schumer responds with, “Of course you are, Jon! You’re Jewish!” After that, Charles Schumer presents a montage of Jon’s most memorable Jewish moments.
During the montage, Jon refers to his Judaism in every line for about two minutes. He says things like, “I’m a Jew, so I think a lot about illness.” Or, “I’m a Jew, so I can’t dunk.” Later, he is comparing Easter to Passover, referring to the beautiful Easter basket full of jelly beans and color, then pointing at the Passover Seder plate which includes dull-colored horseradish and a bone. In one scene, he looks Tyrese Gibson straight in the eye and says, “Don’t make me break out the Yiddish.” The scene is followed by many others which include him saying various Yiddish words.
When Senator Schumer proclaimed that Jon was Jewish and “a member of the tribe,” I felt a sudden sense of connection. This was much the same with The Hebrew Hammer and Adam Sandler’s “Chanukah Song.” With only thirteen million Jews in the world, we indeed feel like a tribe. What Senator Schumer was referring to was the tribe of Israel, or the Hebrew people.
By listening to two Jews relate to each other through our shared heritage, and shared quirks, I felt a great connection to Judaism and the Jewish people altogether. There is a sense of connection between these specific people and the Jewish community as a whole. Even if they aren’t religious, shared heritage and culture bond us together. After all, many people fail to understand that Judaism is more about the community than the religion.
When I first began delving into my Jewish identity, I thought I would find many examples of Jewish men being portrayed as “Nice Jewish Boys.” While I found some examples surely, I didn’t find nearly enough evidence that it was mainstream at all. This was first countered by the Hebrew Hammer, who grew up to become a bad ass in his own right. Even if he portrays some NJB traits, he doesn’t entirely fit the role. This idea was seconded by Adam Sandler, who included the lines, “Oh this lovely, lovely Chanukah/ So drink your gin and tonicah\ and smoke your marijuanikah.” Clearly a nice Jewish boy wouldn’t advocate for those substances.
Another area in which my journey shed some light was near the end. Although during this whole blog post I have been explaining that Jewish entertainers poke fun at their own stereotypes and differences to relate to Jews, I failed to mention that not all Jews may find it funny. For example, Michael Rechtschaffen, a film critique, describes The Hebrew Hammer, as “a crass, sophomoric and, more to the point, offensively unfunny parody that sets out to remake Shaft and his blaxploitation ilk as a Jewish action hero.”
Baskind, S. “The Fockerized Jew? Questioning Jewishness as Cool in American Popular Entertainment.” Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, vol. 25 no. 4, 2007, pp. 3-17. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/sho.2007.0099. 6 May 2017.
Rechtshaffen, Michael. “‘The Hebrew Hammer’.” Hollywood Reporter, 19 Dec. 2003, p. 20. Business Collection. 15 May 2017.
Sandler, Adam. The Chanukah song. Rec. 3 Dec. 1994. Adam Sandler, 1995. NBC. Web. 3 May 2017.
Stewart, Jon, prod. “The Daily Show.” The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Comedy Central. New York, New York, Television. 3 May 2017.
The Hebrew Hammer. By Jonathan Kesselman. Dir. Jonathan Kesselman. Prod. Lisa Fragner. Perf. Adam Goldberg. Strand Releasing, 2003. Film. 2 May 2017.
Witfield, Stephen. “Voicing the True Meaning of Sandler’s ‘Chanukah Song’.” Jewish Advocate, Dec 07, 2012, pp. 18, Ethnic NewsWatch. 6 May 2017.
Popular culture is one of the greatest ways we, as a population, can reflect on the wide array of humans experiences out there. Unfortunately, western popular culture has not always been inclined to be inclusive in their on-screen portrayals and has long “whitewashed” the stories of people of Asian or Asian-American descent, by casting traditionally Asian roles with people of Caucasian descent. As an Asian-American raised in California, I have always wished for some representation of Asian’s in movies and TV shows. However, even in the limited roles that exist, Asian-American women were often demeaned to old stereotypes and sexualization, even exoticized. Hollywood’s longstanding history of whitewashing and stereotyping the Asian American experience has led to an increase in TV shows and movies with more accurate portrayal.
Asian-American women have been seen through the western popular culture lens as “exotic”, being smaller in size, as well as very different in appearances from Caucasian women. Lucy Liu is a well-known Asian-American actress and has starred in many high budget films and TV shows, such as Charlie’s Angels (2000), Kill Bill (2003), and the show Elementary (2012). I first saw Charlie’s Angels when I was a young girl, probably about 8 or 9 years old, as my parents felt I was mature enough to watch more graphic movies. I remember being incredibly excited to see an Asian-American in a big movie, but I was disappointed by how often she fell into the stereotypes put into place by Hollywood. While her character Alex is empowered and heroic, she was constantly sexualized and exoticized throughout the film. In addition, the film represented her having a white father and Asian mother, as well as having a Caucasian boyfriend perpetuating what author of Warrior Women: Gender, Race and the Translational Chinese Action Star Lisa Funnell says, is a “representation that both reflects and naturalizes the sexual access of white (Western) men to Asian women” (p. 188). The following scene highlights this portrayal in particular:
Lucy Liu, herself, has spoken out about how there is indeed racism in Hollywood and how she has experienced it, herself. In her latest large role as Dr. Watson in TV series Elementary, which is based on the series Sherlock Holmes, Liu has created a controversy among die-hard Sherlock fans against the idea of changing both the gender and ethnicity of Watson’s character. However, in her role, she has been shown as a smart, capable woman, with an American accent. She is not broken down or sexualized for dramatic purposes, and the writers of the show have even explicitly stated how there will be no romantic interests between Sherlock and Watson. In an interview with NPR, Lucy Liu spoke about her influence in Asian-American representation saying, “I never really thought of myself as the only Asian face out there until somebody pointed that out to me, you know, and said, ‘You actually are quite a pioneer, and we hope that this is going to set a new precedent’” (Greene, 2012). I think this statement is a testament to how most Asian-Americans don’t feel that they are not just like other Americans until they consume TV and movies and recognize the misrepresentation, exaggeration, or flat out the lack of representation.
Sandra Oh in Double Happiness
Another well known Asian-American actress is Sandra Oh. She is recognized mostly for her role on Grey’s Anatomy as Cristina Yang. However, in 1995, Oh played Jade Li, a young Asian-Canadian actress, in the film Double Happiness. She tries to make her career in acting in a primarily Caucasian field. Her family is traditionally Chinese and expect her to marry a nice Chinese boy, especially not that she’s 22 years old. She wishes her family had more “western sensibilities”. I believe this film served to show the hardships Asian American families and individuals face trying to assimilate to a culture different from their own. In an important scene, Jade’s expression is exuberant when she felt she nailed her audition, but her face suddenly drops when the casting director requested that she do it again, with an accent.
The scene above highlights one of the reason’s why there is such poor representation of Asian-Americans on-screen. Not only is becoming an actress in the US or Canada as an Asian incredibly difficult but even in the 1990’s, casting directors were still only equating Asian-Americans to tired, old stereotypes. This film shed light on the experience that many aspiring actors of Asian descent have to go through in order to make it in such a competitive field, while also bringing forward the emotional aspect of handling blatant ignorance and racism.
Fresh Off the Boat
The TV series Fresh Off the Boat (2015) features an Asian-American family (Taiwanese, specifically) that has moved to Orlando, Florida from Washington D.C. during the mid-1990s. It focuses on the “many obstacles they face as they try to assimilate into the new culture that surrounds them” (ImDb Contributor, 2015). It serves to highlight the struggles of the Asian-American family without demeaning or exploiting their experience. The entire cast of the Huang family is Asian and they all speak fluent English, without exaggerated accents. They dressed in typical 1990s style American fashion. In a particular episode I reviewed (S. 3, Ep. 1), the Huangs visit their family in Taiwan. Louis Huang, the Asian-American father, while complaining and showing his regret for ever moving to America, he said to his brother, “we are the white people of here!”. I thought this quote was a rather important one to note as it highlights the struggles Louis has faced trying to make a life for himself in America due to being Asian American, while his brother Gene has it a little easier in Taiwan because he matches the general physical description of the other successful men in Taiwan. While Louis was apologizing to his wife for not giving her a more lavish lifestyle, she reassured him saying, “We did it, Louis. We moved to America and we made it. We are the success story.” I think this really shows the importance of what the “American Dream” is all about. It’s not about striking it rich, but rather creating a happy, sustainable life for your family. I also feel like it represents how much harder they’ve had to work, as immigrants, just to become a middle-class family. I particularly enjoy this series as it strives to accurately represent, attempting to undo a long history of discriminating portrayal. I feel that this shift towards recognizing that this family, though they hold different cultural values and traditions, is just like any other American family, working hard to achieve their dream shows the improvement in portrayals of Asian-Americans on TV.
As you can see, over the past couple of decades we have progressed greatly towards a more accurate representation of Asian-Americans and particularly Asian-American women. However, statistically speaking, the representation is poor.
According to researchers findings from a USC study analyzing top-grossing films from 2007 to 2014 (Santhanam & Crigger, 2015):
- Roughly three-quarters (73.1%) of film actors were white in 2014
- Highest amount of film actors that were Asian was 8%, in 2008
- 2014 – 4.4% of films actors are Asian
- Of top 100 films released in 2014, 2% protagonist characters were played by Asian Americans (meaning two Asian leading characters)
- Of 779 directors who directed 700 top films between 2007-2014, 2.4% were Asian or Asian-American
This lack of representation is typical of Hollywood. What Marissa Lee wrote in an email to Complex article author, Justin Chan, summed it up painfully earnestly: “American history is pretty racist and sexist, and Hollywood is a reflection of our culture. Hollywood doesn’t put minorities in lead roles because our society rarely lets minorities take the lead” (Chan). Fortunately, we have begun this shift towards better representation with shows like Fresh Off the Boat as well as private production companies that aim to show Asian American perspective in film, such as Wong Fu Productions.
The demeaning and sexualization of Asian-Americans has been a prominent part of American popular culture throughout its history. Kent Ono discusses in his journal “Lines of Flight: Reterritorializing Asian American Film and Media Studies” how historically it took far too long for America to realize there was a problem with how we portrayed people of color, and particularly those of Asian descent. The first work to even “[draw] attention to the eccentric and disfiguring representations of Asians and Asian Americans in Hollywood” wasn’t published until 1955, and the next one to continue the conversation wouldn’t be published for another 20 years. In this historical account, Ono covers the roots of the “dragon lady” and “lotus blossom” stereotypes often attached to Asian women. Ono discusses what he calls the “binds of representation” that actors in films and shows that stereotype face, in which they are represented as “subjects in struggle”. While it is demoralizing to portray yourself and your culture in a negative light, taking home a paycheck is often more important and this is a large part of the picture we don’t discuss: the need for Asian American casting directors, producers, and writers in order to move closer towards decent portrayal.
In Hyun Joo Lee’s journal “Fictive Ethnicity, Anamorphosis, and the Radical Potential of Asian American Film,” Lee discusses the representation of Asian-Americans as well as their connections to their “Asianness” on-screen. The author discusses the movie “My Niagara,” that features Sandra Oh, and how she struggles with her identity, what she coins as “Asianness”. This is a sentiment I definitely relate to. As a kid, I constantly struggled with whether I was “too Asian” or “too American”. Being of both American as well as Thai descent while growing up in America made finding out who I was feel a lot more difficult that it should’ve been.
- Week 4: While discussing the implications and connotations that come with advertisements, we were given a commercial to analyze and discuss. The recent Kendall Jenner starring Pepsi commercial caused a huge controversy for its lack of awareness towards the reasons for protesting and particularly the Black Lives Matter movement. However, the version of the commercial we all reviewed was titled “Directors Cut”. I watched it and very seriously analyzed it, only to learn and be embarrassed later when I learned that it, in fact, was a post production edited version of the film, created by a YouTuber to exaggerate and satirize the controversy. I learned that I need to truly check and double check sources and videos. Nowadays, nearly everything is an advertising or promotion in one way or another and it’s so crucial to be able to determine what is fact and what is trying to sell you a product or service.
- Week 5: Reflections in Hollywood Films. As this relates to my research topic, I was rather excited to find a favorite film of mine and see how it held up in terms of representation of people of color. I learned about the film Moana, and how Disney went above and beyond in order to not turn this film into another example of Hollywood whitewashing. The producers and directors visited the Southern Pacific Islands over three different times to truly understand the culture and focus of the people, in addition to this they hired a council of experts to fact-check everything before it became a part of the film. They also used voice actors of Pacific Island descent, such as Auli’i Cravalho a 17-year-old from Hawaii, who voiced Moana. I was inspired that a company as big as Disney is finally going to put in the work necessary for accurate representation. And I felt it paid of drastically as the movie was a big hit worldwide.
Chan, Justin. “Where Are All the Asian Americans in Hollywood?” Complex. Complex, 20 Aug. 2014. Web. 21 May 2017.
Contributor, ImDb. “Double Happiness (1994).” IMDb. IMDb.com, 1995. Web. 21 May 2017.
Contributor, ImDb. “Fresh Off the Boat (TV Series 2015– ).” IMDb. IMDb.com, 2015. Web. 21 May 2017.
Contributor, ImDb. “Lucy Liu.” IMDb. IMDb.com, 2013. Web. 21 May 2017.
Funnell, Lisa. “Model Minority: Charlie’s Angels.” Warrior Women: Gender, Race, and the Transnational Chinese Action Star. N.p.: State U of New York, 2015. 186-89. Print.
Greene, David. “A Woman As Sherlock’s Dr. Watson Is ‘Elementary’.” NPR. NPR, 27 Sept. 2012. Web. 21 May 2017.
Lee, Hyun Joo. “Fictive Ethnicity, Anamorphosis, and the Radical Potential of Asian American Film.” South Central Review 33.3 (2016): 69-90. Project MUSE [Johns Hopkins UP]. Web. 21 May 2017. <http://muse.jhu.edu/article/640190>.
Ono, Kent A. “Lines of Flight: Reterritorializing Asian American Film and Media Studies.” American Quarterly 64.4 (2012): 885-97. Project MUSE [Johns Hopkins UP]. Web. 21 May 2017. <http://muse.jhu.edu/article/494067>.
Santhanam, Laura, and Megan Crigger. “Out of 30,000 Hollywood Film Characters, Here’s How Many Weren’t White.” PBS. Public Broadcasting Service, 22 Sept. 2015. Web. 21 May 2017.
Athletes and religion isn’t a topic which immediately comes to mind when discussing athletes. On the other hand stereotypes such as cool, dumb, fit and having more of a party lifestyle are associated when discussing athletes. I myself identify as a Christian, frequently play sports and very much into sports. So, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how the media judges Christian athletes. Especially compared to the non-religious athlete. From personal experience I found the parents, players, coaches respected me more and where more polity towards me. Sort of the same can be said when it comes to the media on christian athletes today. The media portrays Christian athletes as better leaders and teammates with strong characters compared to non-religious athletes.
What the Media Says
He Got Game
The first artifact that I analyzed is the movie He Got Game by Spike Lee. It’s a movie about a father of a top ranked high school basketball prospect in the country, Jesus Shuttlesworth (played by Ray Allen). The father is a prison inmate sentenced for murdering his wife. The detail that stood out the most was the fact that his name was Jesus. The name was used in the movie to show that people looked up to him and saw him as having the perfect life (set). He was seen as living the dream. Often getting girls, cars and just about everything he wanted. But the movie was deeper than that showing the daily things he struggled with which the media people don’t see.
Relating to religion in the movie he ( Jesus) would often thank God for his success. He’d go out and party for a night sinning, however when it came to making a big decision he thanked God for his success. It seems like one of the few times you actually see an athlete expressing his religion is when they’re thanking God for their success. You could go the whole game and never notice that they’re religious. Leading me to my next artifact.
Tim Tebow’s Full Interview with Harry Connick Jr.
In an interview done by Harry Connick and Tim Tebow, Tim Tebow claims to be an average person and that God did everything when it comes to his success. Leading to Harry saying he isn’t average, but in fact extraordinary. Once again viewing and making out athletes to be these great people. Most interesting part of the interview was when Harry asks the question, “Why isn’t it the norm to be able to talk about your faith?” I found it revealing as it really isn’t the norm to do so. Very few athletes in fact discuss their religion. Tim Tebow ignored the question which I found strange being that he is one of the few athletes that is very open about his religion and beliefs.
Be Like Mike
To take a look at athletes in general, I examined the “Be Like Mike” Gatorade commercial. In the commercial Gatorade is basically glamorizing Michael Jordan and saying that he is this great incredible guy and you want to be like him. He is depicted as a role model and someone you should want to be like. You should dream to be like him. Well in fact, if you consider Michael Jordan’s career and lifestyle, he isn’t exactly the best role model. It is just that athletes are made out to be these incredible people. I found this to be a reoccurring theme throughout my analysis.
Considering all the artifacts together it seems most athletes are very confident and have an ego associated with them. Being that they often let the fame, confidence get to their head. Often these athletes credit their hard work and determination for their success, while religious athletes thank God for everything. As well they may state that they play for God. Therefore, the religious athletes could be viewed as having less of an ego and as players that get along better with their teammates and coaches.
Relating Primary Sources to Secondary Sources
The first secondary source I took a look at examined whether an athlete’s expression of a Christian affiliation in a sports news article affects how the reader views the athlete and the article. Comparing sports magazine articles with an athlete featuring strong Christian beliefs and articles not featuring that. It was found that a sports story with an athlete discussing his religious beliefs is more likely to have the readers view the athlete in a positive light. Reasoning being the religions especially christian people are stereotyped as being nice, fair, great people that are good citizens of a community. Christian people in general bring out a positive light unless they’re seen as overly Christian.
The next secondary source I read compares sports media coverage of American football in the USA and association football in Germany, focusing on portrayal of Christian athletes. I only examined the information in the article pertaining to the sports media coverage of Christian athletes in the USA. The author specifically looked at Christian football players. It was found the in America the people of Christian faith (religiosity) are immediately connected to good character. Therefore, American athletes are described with language that connects them to good character by sportswriters. Making the religious athletes viewed as better leaders, teammates and people off the field. If a player has less of an ego than they are a better teammates and this directly backs that up. Meaning religious athletes are seen as better leaders, teammates.Thinking about Tim Tebow and his career the media did constantly mention how his a great leader.
The fact that religious athletes are seen more in a positively light can be attributed to the stereotypes and lifestyle the media perceives about athletes and Christianity in general. Christians don’t party, drink, they go to class and have strong relationships with their family. Well athletes, often skip class, party and are raised by a single parent. As soon as you put the word christian along with athlete the so called bad qualities of athletes seem to disappear. With the contradicting stereotypes of Christians and athletes overpowering the negative athlete stereotypes.
Religion and Sports
Through out my research and personal experience I found that relevantly few athletes discuss, show there Christianity. Why is it like that? A similar question was asked by Harry Connick when interviewing Tim Tebow. Tebow ignored the question. However, when analyzing a secondary source which looked at how Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin voiced their religious beliefs and what effect this had on the game I found an answer. I found that Tim Tebow often expressed his religious beliefs strongly during playing time while Lin was more reserved, expressing his beliefs outside of when he was playing. Therefore, people and commentators opposed when and how Tim expressed his religious beliefs not actually opposing his religion.
This leads me to believe that the reason most athletes don’t express their religious beliefs is that they don’t want to receive negative feedback when it comes to their image. Reason for the negative feedback is that sports are a unifying space where we can all form bonds and cheer for a team without our differences separating us. Religion on the field would interrupt this bond. There is a time and place when religion is excepted and a time when it’s not.
Athletes in general are glorified and seen as role models. With the main difference between religious and nonreligious athletes being that religious athletes are seen as better teammates, leaders and people of the field. Therefore, they’re seen in more of a positive light and are described by the media with terms that connects them to good character. This view of religious athletes is due to the stereotypes, the media caries/believes about Christianity. When the media does offer criticism of an christian athlete its not due the actually faith and beliefs of the player rather how and when a player expressed their beliefs.This is due to the fact that the game is seen as a sacred moment the brings people of all different kinds of race, beliefs together and expressing religion on the field takes away from the togetherness as well as the game itself. Most Christian athletes for this reason don’t talk about or show there Christianity. The media needs to be more acceptable and allowing when it comes to athletes expressing there religious beliefs. Intern allowing athletes to feel more comfortable and free.
The most significant learning moment occurred in week 2 when we took a look at how
the media shows you what you want to see and not what you need to see. There are algorithms in place which tailor to your beliefs making you less exposed to contradicting information and more narrow minded. In the future I need to be more cautious of what is presented to me and try to find different points of view.
Another thing which helped me greatly was learning how to use the PSU library to look up reliable sources. I’m definitely going to use it in the future for other assignments and analyzes. The great thing about it is knowing it’s a credible source.
Tim Tebow’s Full Interview with Harry Connick Jr, presented by Harry Connick Jr., 2017 by NBCUniversal, Inc. https://harrytv.com/video_clips/tim-tebows-full-interview-harry-connick-jr/.
“Be Like Mike” Gatorade commercial, produced by advertising exec Bernie Pitzel, published in 1992, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0AGiq9j_Ak.
He Got Game, Spike Lee, Released: May 1,1998
“Using the Schema-Triggered Affect Model to Examine Disposition Formation in the Context of SportsNews.” Conference Papers — International Communication Association, 2011 Annual Meeting, pp. 1-30.EBSCOhost,stats.lib.pdx.edu/proxy.php?url=http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy.lib.pdx.edu/login.aspx?
Butterworth, M., & Senkbeil, K. (2017). Cross-cultural comparisons of religion as “character”: Footballand soccer in the united states and germany. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 52(2), 129-145 doi:http://dx.doi.org.proxy.lib.pdx.edu/10.1177/1012690215588214
Yukich, G., Stokes, K., & Bellows, D. (2014, Spring). The trouble with tebowing. Contexts, 13, 50-55. doi:http://dx.doi.org.proxy.lib.pdx.edu/10.1177/1536504214533500
The portrayal of Asian women shown in the media has greatly impacted me since one thing I identify as is an Asian women. I decided to choose the topic Asian women specifically because I was interested in seeing if I could find people similar to myself portrayed as in media. There are many stereotypes that are given to Asian women, so I expected to see many of those findings in my research. The media portrayal of Asian women can sometimes be false, which influences the viewpoint of many people in society.
In the TV series “Fresh Off the Boat”, an Asian American family moves to Orlando, Florida to experience the American Dream. A common stereotype that’s given to Asian moms are the Tiger Moms. A Tiger Mom is an Asian mom who’s very strict with their children about their grades and studies in school. The mother in this show, Jessica, is shown as the crazy Tiger Mom with her kids. She expects no less than an A, and feels as if the school one of her sons go to is not challenging him enough since he easily gets top grades.
What I find interesting is the fact that they make humor out of this stereotype in this show. In other places you will see a Tiger Mom screaming at her children and the children being upset and afraid. However, Jessica isn’t shown screaming at her children although she is upset, and her children aren’t unhappy. In one clip (will post video in blog post) she is shown unhappy with just her son’s ‘A’ on an assignment, but soon her son laughs and uncovers the plus sign next to the ‘A’. Jessica then laughs with relief and hugs him.
Many people are often influenced by the media which cause them to believe that is the typical Asian mom. They think that most, if not all moms, are like this. I’ve been asked many times how I survive with a mom who wants top grades, but I don’t even have a mom who is strict on grades. Or if I do get one of the top grades, past classmates have asked if it’s because my mom would be upset if I got a low grade. Like most other moms, my mom just wants me to have passing grades.
The next thing I looked at was a movie called “My Wedding and Other Secrets”. This movie was set in New Zealand, and it was about a young Asian woman who struggled with her parents’ traditional ways. She fell in love with a White male, which her parents heavily disapproved of. At first, they tried to keep their relationship a secret, but when they decided to get married she told her parents. Her father then goes on saying he’s disowning her, and then her mother says she refuses to attend her wedding.
Asian women wanting to date White men is a stereotype that’s been around for a long time. According to the article “Getting the message: Media images and stereotypes and their effect on Asian Americans”, the author says that ever since Asian women first came to America, they were shown in images servicing White men or dating them (Mok 2016). So it’s no surprise to me that this movie shows that relationship.
Something I’ve noticed is that it’s “normal” for an Asian woman and White man to be in a relationship. However, for an Asian man and White woman to be in a relationship people are shocked. It makes me wonder why that is.
I’ve personally never dated a White man before. However, I’ve had people ask me what type of guy I’d like to end up with in the future. One aspect they asked is if I wanted him to be White. Although I haven’t been asked that question often, I still find it surprising that people assume that a quality I want in a man is that their race has to be White. Because of how often media shows a White man and Asian women relationship, people often assume that Asian women prefer dating White men.
Memes are a huge part of social media, and you can make just about anything into a meme. When I was searching for “Asian women memes” in Google, I immediately notice how many of the memes showed images of Asian women being sexy, exotic, and their young face but older age. Although memes are meant to be humorous, there are some things that can be found offensive.
I relate to the age stereotype of “Asian women look younger than they are”. I’ve been asked many times if I really am 19 years old and not actually 13 years old. Although it’s meant to be funny and it does happen in real life, it’s not always true. Because of memes and most likely other media postings, people are starting to assume all Asian women look younger than their age. Images found in memes are not women who are at the age the person labels them at, but some people do take it seriously.
Another huge thing that’s seen in the Asian women memes are them being sexy or exotic. Since coming toAmerica, Asian women were also seen as giving services to men (mostly White men) whether it was sexual or non sexual (Mok 2016). I think these memes are misleading because not all Asian women have the sexy or exotic image in real life. It’s also upsetting that society views not only Asian women, but women in general as eye candy or sexual objects.
It’s interesting to me that in America Asian women are viewed as sexy and exotic, but in Asia I always see them as “normal”. In Asian dramas and movies I’ve watched, Asian women are portrayed as they would be seen in a day to day basis.
Not only in memes, but movies and TV shows show Asian women as something sexual. What was shocking to me was that some actresses were not even given the chance to audition. For example, “But despite the significant progress – when she started her career 13 years ago, she felt she had no choice but to go up for the masseuses and prostitutes – Chen acknowledged that she never got to audition for principal characters in films. ‘I wish they would open their minds to having Asian Americans lead’” (Levin 2017). That is completely unfair that some directors would automatically assign a role to an Asian American actress just because she looked like the character the director had in mind. It’s interesting that people form stereotypes from what they see in movies and shows, but it seems that stereotype was already formed before the movie or show was aired.
One huge question I had during my research was how did this affect Asian women on a daily basis? For me, it affected how I dressed or how I wanted to look. When I was younger I was scared of people judging me because of how I’d act because of my culture. So I ended up dressing and looking more “American” based on how Asian American women looked in media. Now that I’m older, I don’t really care anymore.
During my research, I found a study that talked about how Asian women had developed an eating disorder because they were trying to meet society’s standards. They talk about all the “beauty standards” for Asian women that are seen in the media, which causes them to have eating disorders. They mention that Asian women are portrayed as small, petite, exotic, sexy, beautiful, etc. in media. This causes some Asian women to have eating disorders in order to meet the “standards” they want or feel the need to be at (Cheng 2014).
It’s important to realize that although everyone’s different, we can still be affected in similar ways. Because of what’s always being shown in media, most Asian women feel the need to meet the standards that are seen in the media. They also mention that racial teasing also affects Asian women. For example, since Asian women are usually portrayed as petite in movies, if an Asian woman in the real world is actually not a petite frame they get racial teasing. This can also cause them to have an eating disorder in order to meet the beauty standard.
Because of how media portrays Asian women in the media, people will often misunderstand and be influenced from what they see. Stereotypes will always exist. Although I do find some of them to be funny, unfortunately some people do believe what is shown in media are 100% true. The only way to fix this problem is to reduce the amount of stereotypes that are shown in the media.
What helped me the most was the two worksheets we did for this project. It helped me form my ideas and helped create questions I had throughout my research. However, I really enjoyed learning everyone’s thoughts in our discussion posts. It seemed that we all had similar ideas, but we were still able to give different opinions on our work or the discussion post topic. The study that we read during week 5 was an eye opener for me because it showed the actual numbers and percentages of minorities and the LGBT community in popular films. I had an idea that there weren’t many, but those small numbers were shocking.
A++ – Fresh Off the Boat. N.p., 25 Mar. 2016. Web. 21 May 2017.
Cheng, Hsiu-Lan. “Disordered Eating Among Asian/Asian American Women.” The Counseling Psychologist 42.6 (2014): 821-51. Web.
Levin, Sam. “‘We’re the Geeks, the Prostitutes’: Asian American Actors on Hollywood’s Barriers.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 11 Apr. 2017. Web. 21 May 2017.
Mok, Teresa A. “Getting the Message: Media Images and Stereotypes and Their Effect on Asian Americans.” Cultural Diversity & Mental Health 4.3 (1998): 185-202. Web.
“My Wedding and Other Secrets (2011).” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 21 May 2017.
My parents have always emphasized education and how that would relate to my success when I become an adult. My parents are immigrants and they didn’t have the opportunities that I have when I arrive in America. My goal is to become a successful business professional, but what criteria define a successful woman professional. I don’t know how women professional are portrayed in media, because I don’t consume American television or movie on a daily basis. I am interested in how media portray women professionals because it is my future career path. I have looked for some sources to find women professional representation in media. I found a movie, a commerical, and a comedic video that is related to women professional. I will analyze the content and see what I can find.
Some questions that I have in my mind are
1) How are women professionals portrayed in media?
2) What common themes or ideas are presented in the three sources?
3) Is it an accurate portrayal of women professionals in reality?
The Devil Wears Prada
In The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestly is the editor-in-chief of a top fashion magazine called Runway. She is at the top of the top of her organization. Everyone follows her commands. She is married twice with a pair of twins. People in Miranda’s surrounding often view her as bossy and demanding. Some common names for Miranda include “dragon lady” and “career-obsessed”. Miranda got the name “dragon lady” when her husband divorced her and she continued to work and put on a professional attitude. People think Miranda is too “career-obsessed-” and that resulted in her divorce.
Andy was Miranda’s assistant and she went through a dramatic transformation in the movie. In the beginning, Andy was just a typical college graduate desperately looking for a job. Andy wanted to become better at her job, so she put in more effort and devoted her time. When Andy got better at her job and devoted more time to work, her friends and loved ones think Andy is changing into someone else that they don’t know and decided to leave Andy’s life. In the movie, Andy was portrayed as someone that was “career-obsessed” and that couldn’t manage the balance of a social-work life.
Miranda and Andy went above and beyond for their job. They should be recognized and respected at work and home, but Miranda ended up in a divorce, and Andy ended up by herself. Both portrayals of Miranda and Andy have a negative connotation. The movie portrays these two women incapable of handling family and work life. When they have to pick one side, they generally pick work which would get them labeled as “career-obsessed”.
Label Against Women
On the left are some images from a commercial made by Pantene. In the video, it showed labels of women and men in the same job position. The interesting thing is that labels of women and men were opposites. A woman executive would be called bossy, while their counterpart, a male executive would be called a boss. A woman dressing fashionably for work would be called show-off, while the male counterpart would be called smooth. What struck me is the labels women get in this video, is that really what happening in the workplace or is just how media portrays it. In the video, women are labeled as bossy, pushy, show-off, and selfish. The men are labeled as a boss, persuasive, a dedicated, and smooth. The labels for women tend to be negative, while it is positive for the men. It is unfair for women that the get negative labels due to their gender. I encourage you all to watch this commercial. It really shows the “double standard” we have for female.
If Men Were Treated Like Women In The Office
Buzzfeed created this comedic video to shed light on mistreatment of female employee in the office. A frequent scenario that happens in the office is women getting “domestic tasks” assignment. Domestic tasks refers to task that is associated with women such as cooking. Often times women are talked over by their peers, defined by their gender or family. Another scenario that women can encounter at work is when a woman is asked” how do they walk in high heels” or being ask “how do you manage the work-life balance”. As a woman, I would never ask a man “how do you walk in those sneakers”. Something a woman typically wear(high heel) would be questioned, but not for men(sneakers). Something a woman has done for awhile such as taking care of her family and working would be questioned.
Findings of Women Professional in Reality
Women are portrayed as incapable of handling work and life in media, whereas in reality that is not the case. A Wall Street Journal article “Women in the Workplace”, gives examples of how women can achieve the work-life balance. More and more women are getting positions in the top management, which helps to create policies that benefit women. An example that shows top management are helping women is Adobe Corporation. A female manager saw her subordinate in need of extra time to take care of her family, she went to the CEO and ask for special early leave for her fellow subordinate. With that extra time, the subordinate is able to manage her work-life balance.
Another thing that is not brought up often in media is the topic of women mistreatment in the workplace. The article “Interpersonal Mistreatment of Women in the Workplace” by George Cunningham talks about mistreatment women encounters at work. Mistreatment can be mild such as being left out or severe such as sexual harassment. The Buzzfeed video shows mild mistreatment that women encounters while this articles dives deep into severe mistreatment. Sometime industry norms hinders the success of women and that is considered as a mistreatment. Since it is an industry norm, a woman might not know that they are being mistreated. The stagnant industry norm can cause women to leave their job since they are not happy. The article conclude mistreatment does happen to women more frequently than men and it is harmful to women in many ways.
Mismatch Between Media and Reality
Female professionals are portrayed negatively in media because they are negatively labeled and media often show that women can’t have a work-life balance. On the other hand, the media often don’t reflect accurately of what is occurring in reality. In the big screens, women are portrayed in many different ways, but one thing that the portrayals have in common is that they are negative.
The Devil Wears Prada shows how women can’t have a work-life balance and shows how women can be“career-obsessed”. The Pantene commercial present negative labels women get in the workplace, and the Buzzfeed video shows the mild mistreatment that can occur in the workplace for women. Why are women portrayals negative, I am not sure. There could be many causes, but I believe women are portrayed negatively due to their gender. Usually, we don’t hear a man “being career obsessed” because it is normal for them to do that, but when we switch the gender, women get titled negatively. The repeated theme in my primary artifacts is women either get labeled or treated differently due to their gender. My secondary resource brings different information to the table, different from was found in my primary artifact. In reality, many women can a good work-life balance. 90% of the time, women leave their job due to workplace problem, not because of the stressful work-life balance.(Lublin 2016) In the real world, many women are mistreated at work and that topic is not brought up in the big screens. Ursula Burns, the CEO of Xerox, is a great example of a successful woman professional. In 2015 she brought in $18 billions in revenue for Xerox.(Forbe 2017) Do we see any negative articles about this successful female professional? After conducting a Google search, that answer is no. The big screens morph women professional into this negative being. The media’s portrayal of women is inaccurate and often doesn’t represent how women are in reality. The continuation of negative portrayals of women in media will negatively affect women’s image. The media need to stop portraying women negatively on screen and need to start incorporating realistic portrayals of women on screen. As a future business professional, I am shocked by my findings, but that doesn’t “scare” me away from my goal. I want to educate people about reality and media. What is shown in media isn’t accurate. The media is here to entertain us, so sometimes it has to portray a character in a certain way (what we call stereotype) in order get the effect that is needed. When we, the audience, watch a movie or consume popular media, we need to be aware of “what is in movie” and “what is happening in reality”.
In week 4, the analysis move approach strengthens my analyzing skill. Before watching Devil Wear Prada,I rewatch the analysis move video to refresh my memory. Usually, when I watch a movie, I just absorb the content without giving it a thought. When I apply the analysis moves, it helps me to analyze different parts of the movie rather than just blindly watching the story.
In week 5, I was amazed by the statistics found in the “Inequality in 700 Popular Film”. This paper points out many inequalities in films such as gender, race, and minorities. Women are “noticeably absent in films”, and Whites makes up 73.1% of the characters in films. I was shocked by these statistics. America is a diverse country, yet in films, it doesn’t accurately portray the diversity that we have.
The Devil Wears Prada. Dir. David Frankel. Perf. Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep. 2006.
If Men Were Treated Like Women In The Office. Youtube. Buzzfeed, 16 July 2015. Web. 20 May 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tq5OQafDVxc>.
Interpersonal Mistreatment of Women in the Workplace, George B. Cunningham, Mindy E. Bergman, Kathi N. Miner, Published in Sex Roles : A Journal of Research (2014)https://link-springer-com.proxy.lib.pdx.edu/article/10.1007/s11199-014-0398-0
Labels Against Women – Philippines Pantene Commercial 2013. Youtube. Pantene, 12 Dec. 2013. Web. 20 May 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-K2kfgW7708>.
“Ursula Burns.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web. 02 June 2017. <https://www.forbes.com/profile/ursula-burns/>.
“Women in the Workplace (A Special Report) — the More Women in Power, the More Women in Power: When Women are in Top Management Positions, the Impact is Felt Throughout the Organization.”, Lublin, Joann S.,Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition, Sep 27 2016
Military Veteran’s Experience
I am a United States military veteran; I am proud of my service, and the uniform I wore. I served in the Air Force from 2005-2009 and completed two deployments overseas. When I decided to enlist in the military I was lost in life; I was struggling to find myself. I was looking for a way to motivate myself, and discover what I wanted to achieve in life. This was my reason for enlisting, however, every veteran has their own personal reasons why they enlisted; love of country, money for school, family tradition, traveling the world, or learning a trade are just a few examples. However, it is equally important to realize that every veteran’s military journey is unique. Some veterans serve during a time of war, some see combat, get injured, repair jets, drive tanks, work in administration, and some serve in intelligence. Veterans are nurses, doctors, lawyers, and pilots. Some veterans return heroes whereas some return emotionally traumatized. Given that each military veteran’s experience is unique, it’s disconcerting to realize the portrayal of veterans in movies usually focus on certain negative stereotypes, and is impacting veteran’s ability to find employment.
Stereotypes of Veterans
Military Veterans face many difficulties transitioning back into civilian life including; finding employment, feeling alone, worrying about finances, and figuring out our next career move. What makes our transition more difficult is consistent negative portrayals of veterans in movies that reinforce negative attitudes towards veterans. Veterans in movies are usually portrayed as; explosive, disabled, depressed, mentally ill, violent, addicted, or suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of these stereotypes originated from Vietnam era movies because it was an unpopular war, which many Americans held veterans personally responsible, and it turn lead veterans to become alienated from our society.  Although, public opinion about veterans serving today may be more appreciative, veterans today are still having difficulty finding employment with 69% reporting finding a job as their greatest challenge. . I’ve always thought of my experience as a veteran would be an attractive quality to an employer because my perception of a veteran; I know the dedication, integrity, sacrifice, and discipline it takes to serve; however, I wasn’t aware that employers are likely to look past these qualities and focus on the negative aspects of a veteran’s experience. 
When I started my research, I wanted to know how negative stereotypes towards veterans are impacting our ability to readjust to civilian life. My suspicion is movies are the source of these negative stereotypes because of their consistent portrayal of damaged characters. Yet, are movies to blame for these stereotypes, or do movies have a responsibility to portray veterans in these extreme roles to show the psychological and physical toll war takes on veterans, especially when news media reports little on these subjects. To investigate this in detail I watched 3 movies about veterans returning home from war. Each movie I chose was from a different war (e.g., World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq). The 3 movies I analyzed were, “The Best Years of Our Lives”, “Born on the 4th of July”, and “Stop-Loss”.
The Best Years of Our lives
The movie, “The Best Years of Our Lives” which was released in 1946 is one of the most important films concerning veterans returning home from war. This movie tells a story about three World War II veterans, and their struggles readjusting to civilian life. First there is Homer, who lost both his hands to a non-combat injury serving in the Navy. Homer is worried about how his family and fiancé are going to react to his prosthetic hooks when he returns home. Next there is Fred, an Air Force officer and pilot who is having difficulty finding a job. Fred believes the expertise he gained while serving in the Air Force should translate into a better career, however, he quickly discovers that expertise isn’t transferable to a civilian career. Lastly there is Al who returns home to his career as a banker and receives a promotion to oversee loans for returning veterans. Al struggles with alcoholism and reconnecting with his wife.
Overall this movie does a good job portraying the issues veterans faced as the returned home from World War II without portraying veterans in an explosive way. The Best Years of Our Lives was one of the first movies daring enough to deal with sensitive issues veterans faced, especially since this movie was produced during a time when America was proud of their veterans and there was enormous support for the war. What’s also interesting about this movie is the director, William Wyler, served in the military during World War II, and he directed this movie to present the issues of veterans to the American people to help them better understand the toll war took on them.
Born on the 4th of July
Born on the 4th of July is a movie about Ron Kovic who is a patriotic veteran returning home from the Vietnam war after becoming paralyzed from a gunshot wound during combat. This movie shows Ron’s struggles to adjust and integrate back into American society; one that doesn’t value his sacrifice. Ron spends months recovering inside a rundown VA hospital where resources are scarce, and veterans are seen abusing drugs and having sex with prostitutes. When Ron gets out of the hospital he realizes that American people have no respect for his sacrifice, which leads to him drinking heavily to deal with his isolation, disability, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Ron eventually realizes the government doesn’t value his sacrifice, which in turn leads him to become a political activist speaking out against the war he once supported.
Overall this movie does a good job illuminating issues veterans faced returning home from war. It exposes the horrific conditions veterans faced at VA hospitals, how public opinion didn’t support veterans, how veterans were dealing with disability and addiction. However, the problem with this movie is that it overgeneralizes the veterans experience. There are many reoccurring portrayals of veterans throughout the movie like veterans seen taking drugs, having sex with prostitutes, explosive tempers, disabled, and PTSD. Although, these issues are important to cover to show how some veterans were coping after the war, these consistent portrayals are damaging to veterans, especially at a time when veterans were not appreciated like they were after World War II. This like many other Vietnam movies use extreme violence and emotional scenes to really set home the degree of frustration the veterans faced.
Stop-Loss is a movie about veterans returning home from the Iraq war after their enlistment is over, and then being forced by the government to extend their enlistment due to a clause in the contract that forces veterans to serve past their originally agreed upon enlistment. The movie follows these veterans as they deal with many issues suffered from war, and whether they want to continue to serve in the military or become absent without leave. In the end they decide they have no choice but to continue their enlistment or become a criminal.
Although this movie brings to light the serious of issue of Stop-Loss, basically a backdoor draft, the movie painted veterans in appalling manner. One of the most damaging scenes in the movie is when the veterans return on home and they are about to be released for leave. In this scene their commander tells them; you will not drink and drive, if you pick up a young lady let her drive let her pick up the dui, you will not beat up civilians, you will not fuck anyone underage, you will not beat up your wife, you will not beat up your kids, and you will not kick your dog. This is so damaging because the commander says this to a squad of veterans which makes it seem like we all behave in this manner. If this scene wasn’t damaging enough the rest of movie continually portrays these actions throughout the movie.
Although, I think movies have a responsibility and should highlight serious issues veterans are facing leaving the military, I do believe that these stereotypes that are consistently portrayed are hurting veteran’s ability to readjust to civilian life, and is making it difficult for veterans to find employment. For example, I learned in one of my secondary sources, Factors impacting hiring decisions about veterans says, “some research revealed that veterans are often stereotyped as violent or ticking time bombs that may display their anger on the job at any point in time.”  Do movies such as Stop-Loss contribute to stereotypes like this?
Another research “found that Vietnam era veterans were perceived as having higher levels of psychological problems than non-veterans.”  Do movies like Born on the 4th of July contribute to these stereotypes?
When people continually see negative stereotypes of veterans in movies people start to believe these stereotypes exist predominately within the veteran community. Fortunately, there is a group called “Got Your 6” that is fighting back against the consistent negative stereotypes of veterans. “A study commissioned by Got Your 6 revealed that the general public currently reports seeing only extreme depictions of veterans.”  They say, “these portrayals significantly influence public perception of veterans overall, yet are not representative of the actual veteran population.” 
For a movie to become 6 certified is must show a fair and balanced representation of veterans and meet one of 6 requirements:
1. consult with real veterans
2. cast a veteran
3. hire a veteran writer
4. portray a veteran character
5. tell a veteran story
6. use veterans as resources on set or in writer’s rooms.
Hopefully with groups like Got Your 6, who are fighting back against negative stereotypes, the American population will see veterans portrayed as successful and valuable citizens to our communities, which in turn, will make it easier for veterans to find employment.
- Born on the 4th of July. Directed by Oliver Stone. Universal Pictures, 1989. Film
- “Got Your 6.” Got Your 6. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2017. <https://gotyour6.org/>.
- Stone, Christopher, and Diana Stone. “Factors affecting hiring decisions about veterans.” Human Resource Management Review 25.1 (2015): 68-79. Web. 15 May 2017. <https://doi-org.proxy.lib.pdx.edu/10.1016/j.hrmr.2014.06.003>.
- Stop-Loss. Directed by Kimberly Pierce. MTV Films, 2008. Film
- The Best Years of Our Lives. Directed by William Wyler. The Samuel Goldwyn Company, 1946. Film
One aspect of my identity is that I am a female athlete. I was interested to see how this part of who I am would be portrayed in the media. Women in general are often sexualized in the eyes of the media, so I figured I would find many articles which sexualized women. Upon my first endeavor researching for the project I found that when searching “female athletes” in the Google search engine on the first page 6/10 articles regarded which female athletes are thought to be the “hottest”. By analyzing numerous sources I found that the media often sexualizes female athletes, but is now starting to show more appreciation for their accomplishments. This is important because the media’s portrayal of identities effects the mindset of people in our society.
The internet has numerous lists of “who’s the hottest” and female athletes are no exception. The example I chose listed who the author thought were the top 50 hottest athletes of the year, but there were also articles that went up to top 100. The article featured photos of the women, often in revealing clothes, and a small description of accomplishments usually accompanied by something that was objectifies her looks. For example, for Serena Williams it simply said, “You know who she is, especially if you like booty.” Even though there is some actual information about most of the athlete’s accomplishments, the focus of the article is on their looks.
The focus is on the photographs, and in almost every picture the women have revealing clothes, similar or more revealing as Jessica Ennis’ photo to the left. Not only does media tend to chose these revealing picture of women, but in general many women’s sports uniforms have limited coverage. I cheered for Portland State during the 2016-17 season, and naturally our uniforms were very reaving. Cropped tops, and tight short skirts. An an individual I feel confident in this uniform, but I know the team is sexualized. At one basketball game during the past season, I heard an older man referring to our team saying “they’re all virgins, I can tell.” I felt so appalled and violated. In the moment I felt an impulse to yell at the audience member, but I did not want to cause a scene and look unprofessional. Its sad to see so directly how people think its okay to sexualize female athletes. Many female athletes are sexualized by what they wear and the media takes advantage of it.
The next source I chose to look at was an advertisement by Nike. It is not for a specific Nike product, but instead is an ad focused on the accomplishments of female tennis player Serena Williams. This ad shows how the media is actually starting to show more support by female athletes, by showing appreciation of their accomplishments. The video uses single words shown one after another used to take the viewer on a journey through Serena Williams’ life and career. At the end of the ad the viewer sees Williams’ face where it says “greatest female athlete ever” and then the word “female” disappears to show “greatest athlete ever”. This shows that the media is beginning to take a step away from the sexualization of female athletes to respecting them. Its refreshing to see a female athlete so appreciated by a huge and influential company like Nike. Not only did they call her the best female athlete ever, but the greatest athlete ever. Williams as well as her career are shown in a positive light, and the focus is on her athletic ability and accomplishment.
An article written by ESPN in a special called the Body Issue did an interview with athlete Adeline Grey, a female wrestler. The interview mainly talks about the expectations and stereotypes of female athletes, and Grey responds talking about her experiences with other’s expectations for women. The article highly revolves around the fact that wrestling is not a common sport for women. For example, Grey talks about hating it when people say she is “too pretty to wrestle”. I think this highlights the image that media has created about stereotyping women, and female athletes. It shows the the media expects that women are supposed to look pretty and not do certain activities that are associated with men. I especially liked this example about wrestling, because it is generally though of as a male sport. The article also mentions Grey’s athletic achievements, like that she has won three olympic gold metals.
Even though she is a gold metal winner, she talks about how people often do not even know that women’s wrestling is an olympic sport. This also reflects how the media represents female athletes. If more women’s sports where covered and talked about like men’s there would be more awareness for their sports and acknowledgement of their achievements.
Another interesting aspect of this article is that it features a photoshoot of the athlete. In ESPN’s Body Issue, they do articles for multiple athletes, but all of them do a naked photoshoot. Adeline Grey’s photos feature her in a wrestling setting, naked. I think this not only shows the sexualization of female athletes in the media, but all athletes. The media is obsessed with perfection, and people who are physically fit tend to be praised for their bodies. I think this can diminish the athletes achievements at their sporting events because people and the media can often focus on their looks, opposed to their actions.
There has been a number of studies which focus on the discrimination of female athletes. One large issue is that there is so much more coverage and support from the media for men’s athletics, opposed to women’s athletics. A study by Kim Toffoletti looks at how female athletes are persistently sexualized in the media. Even when female athletes are the focus in the media there is commonly an emphasis of the woman’s physical attributes, and this is highlighted over her athletic achievements. I saw this supported in my primary sources, as even when the athletes achievements where talked about, there was usually a greater focus on her looks, her body, and how attractive she is.
Then the study goes on to look at how not only are the female athletes sexualized, but female fans at men’s sporting events are also sexualized. This was an interesting point to me because its not just female athletes being sexualized, but women who are even just associated with sports.
Another interesting source I looked at was a high school teaching plan that focused on the discrimination of female athletes (Palis). The curriculum also includes topics such as stereotypes of female athletes, how the media portrays male and female athletes differently, racism among female athletes, salary differences between male and female athletes, and finally looks at the positiveaspects of being a female athlete. This in itself supports the fact that female athletes are less supported than men. The salary gap is a good example of this.
One point that especially coincided with my topic is how female athletes are often expected to look a certain way. This puts a stress on athletes to conform to what society expects of them. There is such a huge expectation for female athletes to look good or “hot”, but it does seem like there is starting to finally be a but more appreciation for their achievements, like in the Nike ad. The problem with other sources that do point out women’s athletic achievements is that them often can also be belittling because of sexualization and objectification. It also talks about male vs female sport coverage in magazines. The information is a bit old, but still supports the fact that male sports receive more attention. In Sports Illustrated from “January 10,1994 to June, 1995, there were 67 photographs of male athletes on the front cover and only 3 photographs of women”. They also point out how when women are featured in media it is very sexualized. This seemed crazy to be that there was such an extremely higher amount of mens coverage to women.
Over all there I have definitely seen an issue with the way female athletes are identified in the media. They are often sexualized and the focus is on their looks. Even when there is information about what the have accomplished athletically the women are often still objectified and the focus is on their looks. Luckily, it appears that the media is starting to show more support for female athletes and putting the focus on what they have achieved as an athlete. One way to help this issue is to recognize the issue and be mindful of how you view and talk about athletes. If people could collectively have a more open mind and notice that there are issues in the ways that female athletes are viewed, that you be a huge first step in helping the issue.
Week 3. One of the most interesting learning moments for me was when we talked about the influence of ads. I thought it was really interesting in the video looking at similarities of older painting and photographs to the ads that we see today. It just seems really cool how old work inspires new work. Its inspirational to me how art has left such a lasting impression on the advertisements that we see today.
Week 5. One of the most interesting topics we looked at all quarter was the Inequality in 700 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race, and LGBT Status from 2007 to 2014. It was so eye opening looking at statistics of how unequally people are represented in the most popular films we see. I had never thought about that before, until it was pointed out to me so explicitly. I think I can use what I have learned to look at the media more skeptically and appreciate when I see diversity in the media I consume.
Ain, Morty. “Adeline Gray: Female Athletes Should Be ‘iconic and Groundbreaking’.” ESPN. ESPN, 5 July 2016. Web. 28 Apr. 2017. <http://www.espn.com/espnw/sports/article/16743501/wrestler-adeline-gray-talks-role-models-wrestling-national-exposure-espn-body-issue>.
Dudley55. “The Top 50 Hottest Female Athletes of 2017.” The Athletic Build. The Athletic Build, LLC., 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2017. <http://theathleticbuild.com/the-top-50-hottest-female-athletes-of-2016/>.
Nike. “Unlimited Greatness Ft. Serena Williams.” YouTube. Nike, 01 Sept. 2016. Web. 28 Apr. 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fw0MmCgxDow>.
Palis, Regina. “Female Athletes Facing Discrimination: Curriculum Regarding Female Athletes.” Female Athletes Facing Discrimination: Curriculum Regarding Female Athletes. Regina Palis, 30 Nov. 1994. Web. 04 May 2017. <https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED391132>.
Toffoletti, Kim. “Sexy Women Sports Fans: Femininity, Sexuality, and the Global Sport Spectacle.” Taylor & Francis Online 17.13 (2016): 467-72. Taylor & Francis Online. Informa UK Limited, 27 Sept. 2016. Web. 04 May 2017. <http://www-tandfonline-com.proxy.lib.pdx.edu/doi/full/10.1080/14680777.2016.1234499?scroll=top&needAccess=true>.
Trigger Warning: This blog post deals with issues relating to trauma (such as rape), mental health, substance abuse/addiction, police brutality, and suicide.
Representation is incredibly important. Our thoughts and beliefs are shaped by what we see, what we’re told, what we’re shown, and what we experience. Humans are incredibly diverse and the only identities on which a person can be an expert are their own. However, representation of these identities, things like race, gender, sexual orientation, and mental or physical obstacles, are often written or portrayed by people who know nothing about the identities they’re portraying. Things like white people writing people of color or neurotypical people writing people with mental illness take the power of representation from the very people being represented. Compounding the issue, audiences who don’t understand these identities take these portrayals as fact, spreading more misunderstanding. These problems might be more easily avoided if creators did more research and sought out advice from those they portray. “Nothing about us without us,” meaning that people should have some power or input regarding their own representation. Unfortunately, this still doesn’t happen. I can personally speak to how harmful poor representation can be concerning mental illness. Representation of mental illness in popular culture runs the gamut from pretty decent to life-threatening.
Mental illness is a vast topic. There are a myriad of different diagnoses, ranging from depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, to dissociative identity disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, and addiction. I’m certainly not an expert on all of these, so I’m going to try to focus on the disorders and symptoms I know personally, either from personal experience or through my work as a peer support specialist.
First and foremost, I want to talk about that new show on Netflix 13 Reasons Why. I personally experience a great deal of depression and fight often with suicidal ideation, so a show that talks about suicide is a big deal for me. Before watching it I was skeptical. I really doubted it would have “good” representation, by which I mean not hyperbolic Hollywood dramatic, not flat-out wrong, and not harmful. For those who don’t know, 13 Reasons Why is about a high school student, Hannah Baker, who has committed suicide. Rather than leaving the traditional note (how messed up is it that we have cultural suicide “traditions?”) she leaves thirteen cassette tape recordings where she records the titular thirteen reasons why she was driven to suicide. Each tape is about and for a particular person in her life who impacted her decision. She left two sets of the tapes with a trusted friend and instructions that one set be delivered to each of these thirteen people in turn so that they can all understand the impact of their actions.
Hannah has a massive presence in the show, despite being dead. This is hugely problematic. The National Association of School Psychologists said in its warning about the show that “Its powerful storytelling may lead impressionable viewers to romanticize the choices made by the characters and/or develop revenge fantasies.” Giving Hannah such an overwhelming presence in the show masks the fact that she is dead. Her tapes “live on,” the people who hurt her show remorse, there is some closure. It gives the idea that these things are true, that Hannah herself is part of this story. But she’s not. She’s dead. The show romanticizes the notion of “I’ll die, and then they’ll be sorry.” But you’ll still be dead. You won’t exist. The show does not adequately portray the reality of death and suicide, which can be extremely dangerous to the age group it targets and depicts. The show seems to beg the question “If Hannah can get this closure, this revenge on those who hurt her, why can’t I?” Which is an extremely dangerous mindset for someone gripped by depression and suicidal ideation.
Which brings us to another dangerous problem with the show. Near the end of the show Hannah Baker’s suicide is shown on-screen. This shows either flippant disregard of trauma and triggers, or just some really impressive levels of stupidity. Dr. Christina Connolly, a psychologist working with schools in Maryland, said in an interview with PBS that “The biggest fear is that there will be copycat behavior… there is research out there showing that suicide can be contagious. It can be copycat, especially — even in schools.” Not only does the show graphically provide a means of suicide (slitting the wrists, a classic) it actually does it very well. I’ve done a lot of research into suicide methods for various reasons, and Hannah does everything right. This means that teens watching the show have, as Connolly referred to it, a “recipe” for their own death. One other thing the show does not go into, however, is the high failure rate of suicide attempts. Suicide is not really as easy as most people think. Based on a SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) study, for every one successful suicide attempt, there are 25 unsuccessful ones. And the odds are even worse for youths. If you want to kill yourself, be ready to put in the work. It’s not really something that can be done at the drop of a hat. And of course, failed suicides can often leave the victim with permanent damage, depending on the method.
Yet another problem with the show is that no alternatives are shown. Hannah Baker is shown doing exactly what we want youths to do: she attempts to seek help. In the final episode she is shown approaching the school counselor. She tells him she was raped. She tells him she has been thinking about suicide. He does nothing, and in the present defends his actions by hiding behind bureaucratic guidelines, citing that he can’t do anything unless particular phrases are used basically verbatim, like there’s a secret code word a student needs to use if they actually want him to do his job and help them. With a number of dangerous elements to the show and the most obvious avenues of help undermined as useless the show, from my perspective, is practically asking people to kill themselves. To me, someone who intimately understands its target audience, the message is loud and clear, “Kill yourself and people will finally care about you. No one can help. Even people who are supposed to help won’t help. You don’t matter. Kill yourself and you’ll matter, even if it’s only for a while.” These are real thoughts that I’ve had in the past, when I was a teenager. This show dredged up all those memories, those thoughts. I don’t fancy myself unique, I’m sure there are teens out there right now watching this show and hearing the same message.
The last thing I really want to talk about regarding 13 Reasons Why is something I briefly mentioned before: triggers. The show is extremely graphic. It depicts underage drinking, binge-drinking, and drinking and driving (triggering to people with addiction), rape (triggering to victims of sexual violence), and of course suicide (triggering to people with suicidal thoughts, people who have attempted suicide, people with severe depression). It’s one thing knowing that experts say the show is dangerous to watch, but this fact is so impersonal. Maybe some people will argue teenagers are old enough to distinguish TV from reality. All that argument does is show a fundamental lack of understanding of trauma and triggers. Let me tell you how I experienced it. Watching Hannah Baker slide into her bathtub fully clothed, wait as it fills with water, seeing the incredible pressure required to cut deep enough, down the lane not across the street… It took me weeks to recover from that scene. I was fantasizing, planning, or idly thinking about suicide multiple times a day. I’m not a teen, I’m 25 years old. This is not something that will only affect “impressionable youth”. This is something that will dramatically affect adults in recovery. This is something that is incredibly dangerous, and could cost lives.
In a bonus behind-the-scene episode of the show one of the creators, Brian Yorkey, says they purposefully included the graphic scene of Hannah Baker’s suicide. He says ” We worked very hard not to be gratuitous, but we did want it to be painful to watch because we wanted it to be very clear that there is nothing, in any way, worthwhile about suicide.” I was actually surprised to hear that from him, because I did not get that message at all from that scene. The message I got from that scene, as someone who grapples with suicidal ideation frequently, is “I could do that.” What I understand about Brian Yorkey is that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He doesn’t know anything about dealing with suicidal thoughts, and yet the show is extremely popular. Critics and the general public love it for tackling these tough subjects. But actual experts on these subjects hate it because it is legitimately dangerous. I personally think it’s terrifying that a show that is so hated and feared by experts can be so beloved by the masses. These life-threatening messages are being welcomed with open arms; people will begin thinking is good representation when it is actually very dangerous.
All hope is not lost, though. Another popular Netflix Original Series is doing a much better job with portraying mental illness: Orange is the New Black. OITNB covers an amazing number of mental illnesses, including addiction, depression, PTSD (specifically after sexual assault), and a few unnamed, but apparent, illnesses, such as with Lorna Morello and Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren. One of my favorite depictions in the show is Lolly Whitehill.
It’s unclear what Lolly’s specific diagnosis is, but honestly it doesn’t really matter. After all, she’s not a diagnosis. She’s a person. What we do know is that she experiences episodes of psychosis, which means she sometimes hears things that others do not. She also has some pretty heavy paranoia and is a conspiracy theorist. She builds a time machine in the laundry facility out of cardboard, and was homeless before she was incarcerated. In every way she fits the trope of the crazy homeless person. However, the way the show handles this trope is very different from most shows, and this is why I love it.
Orange is the New Black has a beautiful way of humanizing its characters. It’s sort of ridiculous that this makes it unique and impressive, but many shows won’t bother doing so with characters that aren’t already accepted safe tropes. It’s especially problematic with characters who are homeless. For example, in New Girl there is a recurring character named Outside Dave. He is a homeless man, who is used for nothing more than comic relief. He’s just there to be the crazy homeless guy. In the episode of How I Met Your Mother “Right Place, Right Time” there is a homeless man named Milt who has headphones plugged into a grapefruit and thinks ATM stands for “Alien Time Machine.” This is pretty much the standard for homeless characters.
Lolly’s character is approached much differently. In part, I concede, it’s because she actually gets screen time. But that in itself is a rarity for homeless characters. Rather than ignored or ridiculed her psychosis is addressed. She is shown using coping mechanisms to deal with her voices. Outside of prison she has a stick with a bunch of metallic things attached which she rattles to keep the voices at bay. She helps others in her homeless community. She goes around her neighborhood, selling cups of coffee for a quarter, and is warmly greeted by all the people who are familiar with her. She is friendly, welcomed, and so human. It’s not often you see a show which endears its homeless characters to its audience. Her only crime was having the bad luck of her cart-wheel getting stuck while police officers were around. They asked her to leave and she couldn’t. What set them off was her voices returning (quite likely brought about by the stress of dealing with the police officers) and when she tried to cope, grabbing her stick to rattle, the officers mistook it for a weapon and tackled her to the ground.
This depiction of a person experiencing homelessness as a person is so important to me, though I have never been homeless myself. At my job I work with a lot of people who are homeless. I serve them food, chat with them, play games with them, and do my best to help them stay clothed, clean, and alive. I get to see the side of homelessness most people don’t. Most people, and even cities sometimes, consider them as an annoyance. Parks erect benches with armrests in the middle to keep people from sleeping on them. They are constantly harassed by the police, and looked down upon by most other people. They are assumed to be dirty, unethical, stupid, and dangerous. This is not always the case. I know people who are homeless by choice. It’s important to remember that they’re human.
The same is true of a person experiencing symptoms of their mental illness. Lolly hears voices. I also know and work with someone who experiences psychosis, hearing voices. It can be very disconcerting for most people to witness someone responding to stimuli they aren’t also experiencing. But it’s really not as scary or dangerous as most people think. The woman I know who hears voices basically treats them as imaginary friends. I see her working on arts and crafts, laughing, happy, having a good ol’ time. She’s not going to hurt anyone. She’s not any more frightening than a child with imaginary friends. The best phrase I’ve heard to describe this is simply that her reality is different from mine. It honestly doesn’t mean much more than that.
There are good ways and bad ways to present mental illness. It’s not as hard as most pop culture makes it seem (by doing it wrong). “Nothing about us, without us.” Shows need to work with mental health professionals and people with mental illness to create authentic and positive portrayals of the diagnoses they want to show. And, unlike shows like 13 Reasons Why they need to listen to those experts to avoid dangerous and life-threatening depictions of trauma and suicide. I was shocked when I learned in my research that the people making that show thought they were doing a good job at portraying mental illness. How arrogant do you have to be to think that you know better than experts, who are warning you against what you’ve made? Just as shocking was when I learned about all the positive feedback the show was getting, notably only from people who don’t understand anything about what depression and suicidal ideation are actually like. Taking a trauma-informed approach is fundamental to good representation. More shows should look to Orange is the New Black for examples of positive, humanizing representation. It is often through pop culture that people learn about identities that are different from their own. Content creators need to step up and work towards accurate and positive representation.
UPDATE: A few days after posting this a man in Peru committed suicide, leaving behind a series of recordings and a list of the people to whom they should be delivered, à la Hannah Baker in 13 Reasons Why. Netflix’s response to this is to add an extra warning at the beginning of the show.
To anyone out there who needs help, there are many resources available. If you’re feeling suicidal, please reach out. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day. 1-800-273-8255
If you’re feeling depressed and just need someone to talk to, there are many resources like 7cups which will pair you with a trained peer support to whom you can talk for free. There are other resources like the David Romprey Warmline if you just need someone to talk to. 1-800-698-2392
Brangham, William. Interview with Dr. Christina Conolly and Sonia Soraiya. PBS Newshour. May 2, 2017. Link.
National Association of School Psychologists. 2017. 13 Reasons Why Netflix series: Considerations for educators [handout]. Bethesda, MD: Author. Link.
lostallhope.org. Author unknown. Suicide Statistics. Link.
Brian Yorkey, creator. 13 Reasons Why. Netflix. 2017.
Jenji Kohan, creator. Orange is the New Black. Netflix. 2013.
“Right Place, Right Time”. How I Met Your Mother, season 4, episode 22. May 4, 2009.
Elizabeth Meriwether, creator. New Girl. Elizabeth Meriwether Pictures, 20th Century Fox. 2011.
Have you ever ridden a Kangaroo?
… me either.
People make assumptions and judgments everyday from the mass media that they are consumed in. Many stereotypes from people around the world have been placed on Australians and our culture. The majority of these stereotypes are misconceptions and do not give a true representation of our country, forcing people to have an inaccurate view.
I am a 19-year-old Australian woman, studying health science in America. I have been living in America for two years now and I have been bombarded with misconceptions regarding the Australian lifestyle. It is fitting for me, as an Australian, to discuss the poor representation of Australian culture in the media. Australia is a country that is consistently ranked in the top countries in the world on international happiness surveys. Previously, I believed that people did not actually believe the representation of Australians in the media before living in America. However, since living in America I have witnessed multiple opinions about Australia that are far from the truth. These inaccuracies are due to what people have seen in the media and been believed to think.
The topic that stood out to me the most is the first point that I am going to discuss in this blog. The most common misconception regarding Australian culture is that Australians are confronted with life threatening creatures on a daily basis. I can perfectly understand why foreigners believe this. With landscapes and wildlife that is radically different from the rest of the world people are automatically terrified. I am not aiming to convince you that the wildlife is not dangerous, because it does exist in the wild. However, we have a vast desert outback that spreads throughout the country but only 3% of the population live in the desert while the other 97% live along the coastline (Australian Government, 2013).
In the media, it appears that deadly Australian animals are living amongst the coastlines and are a huge problem. This misconception is seen in “The Simpsons” episode, Bart vs. Australia. As soon as The Simpson family lands in Australia they immediately see a kangaroo. There is a scene where Homer and Bart try to escape by stuffing themselves into the pouches of two Kangaroos. Therefore, this is misleading information as people are led to believe that kangaroos are everywhere.
A researched secondary source from the Wiley Online Library supports my point and points out that this episode may have offended some Australians because it over sensationalises Australian culture (Dobson, 2006). The article states that, “The episode, Bart versus Australia represents a more sustained parody of foreign culture. Australia is portrayed as a backward, boorish, alcohol-obsessed nation with criminal tendencies.
Social media in recent times has developed ‘memes’. Memes are “an idea or belief system, or pattern of behavior that spreads throughout a culture either vertically by cultural inheritance or horizontally by cultural acquisition” (Bing, 2012). These memes are constantly displaying stereotypical views on Australian which forces the audience to believe that this is the norm. For example, there is a very popular meme that states “Welcome to Australia, where crocodiles swim in your street”.
This is not typical, as you would never see a crocodile walking down the street, in fact I have never seen one in my lifetime outside of Australia Zoo. I believe that what we are exposed to in the media influences how people see the world.
BuzzFeed is a social news and entertainment company that produces articles and has become popular in contemporary society (BuzzFeed, 2016). I came across an Australian stereotypes article produced by BuzzFeed. The caption of this image below is “what men are actually like.” (Taylor and Francis Online, 2008). This is another example of how society is exposed to thinking that Australians are constantly exposed to dangerous animals.
Moving on to the next misconception of Australian culture is humor and slang. First of all, Australian’ have a very strong sense of humor that most Americans struggle to understand, and sometimes think that it is cruel instead of humorous. Sometimes, people are left with the wrong impression when I talk to them because they are not used to the Australian humor and do not understand that it is humorous. Australian’s make jokes with each other by sarcastically making fun of one another and saying it how it is. Since I have been living in America, I have had to tone down my dry sarcastic humor so people are not offended and do not think that I am serious. Australian’s also value traditional values of being polite, saying “pardon, please, and thank you,” before moving straight into the directness of our humor. This Australian humor can be seen in the popular television show “Summer Heights High.” This show embraces humor where Australian’s make fun of each other and say exactly what they want to say. Slang is another aspect of Australian culture that foreigners struggle to understand. A common slang phrase is “g’day mate,” which basically means hello friend. I have had to reduce the amount of slang that I use in America because American’s might view this as inherent rudeness or an uneducated way to communicate.
A common term that I have heard a lot of Americans use when thinking of Australia is “shrimp on the barbecue.” We do not cook shrimp on the barbecue, in fact we do not say “shrimp,” instead we say “prawns.” A typical barbecue would be cooking sausages and eating them in a piece of bread with tomato or barbecue sauce. So it would be more accurate to say, “sausage on the barbecue.”
Another misconception that is common because of media portrayal of Australians is that we all have blonde hair, tanned skin, and blue eyes. There are some people that look like this, however the majority of the population is far from this description. Australia is one of the most multicultural countries in the world with many different ethnicities rarely represented on TV or in the media. The majority of Australian TV shows represent the ‘typical Australian,’ with blonde hair, tanned skin, and blue eyes. There are two examples of Australian TV shows that clearly represent this. “Home and Away” and “H2O Just Add Water”, where all of the actors are predominantly white, and fitting to this ‘typical Australian.’ However, diversity is a major part of Australian culture.
Finally, the drinking culture is a common stereotype of Australian culture. We do have a big drinking culture but it is similar to many countries around the world. According to a Taylor and Francis article, ‘The truly magnificent thirst’: An historical survey of Australian drinking habits it states that, “It is widely accepted among historians that strong drink has played an important part in the social life of Australia during the last 200 years” (Dingle, 2008). The Guardian News discusses drinking cultures on a global scale (Marsh & Stefanou, 2016). It explains that Australia is not the biggest drinking country in the world. The US and the Philippines drink more than Australians and France being on an equal level to Australia. Therefore, when I hear people talk to me about the alcohol consumption in Australia, I can say that America actually consumes more than us. Also, Australians do not actually drink Fosters. I have had a lot of people ask me about the drink but I do not know anyone that drinks it.
There are stereotypes all around the world regarding different cultures and beliefs. Most of the time I am grateful of the representation of Australians as friendly and humorous. However, sometimes people can become close minded about the world around us and do not look beyond the media that is placed in front of them. My journey to America, to play on the Portland State tennis team and to complete a college degree has been an eye opening experience. I have expanded my knowledge to other beliefs around the world through my journey. I believe that stereotypes and misconceptions are inevitable in today’s society.
- The most eye opening learning moment was from week five – I was shocked when I was reading the statistics about the unequal representation of gender, race, and LGBT in popular films. I was disappointed to learn that in the past seven years nothing has changed.
- The second most prominent learning moment that I had this term was formulating research questions in my research analysis worksheet. I found it useful to brainstorm initial questions and then give myself some time to come back and refine my work.
Australian Government. (2013, August 23). The Australian desert – the outback of Australia. Retrieved May 21, 2017, from Australian Government: http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-desert-outback
Bing, S. (2012, October 18). Contest: What’s a Meme? Retrieved May 21, 2017, from Huffpost: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stanley-bing/contest-whats-a-meme_b_1981567.html
BuzzFeed. (2016, April 6). Australian Stereotypes Vs Australia In Reality. Retrieved May 21, 2017, from BuzzFeed: https://www.buzzfeed.com/matwhitehead/shredding-for-stereo-types?utm_term=.oeGN98kyr#.goDvmAr17
Dobson, H. (2006, January 18). Mister Sparkle Meets the Yakuza. Retrieved May 21, 2017, from Wiley Online Library: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1540-5931.2006.00203.x/full
Marsh, S., & Stefanou, E. (2016, April 15). Which countries have the worst drinking culturesv. Retrieved May 21, 2017, from The Guardan News: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/15/which-countries-worst-alcohol-binge-drinking-cultures
Taylor and Francis Online. (2008, September 30). ‘The truly magnificent thirst’: An historical survey of Australian drinking habits. Retrieved May 21, 2017, from Historical Studies: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10314618008595636?journalCode=rahs19
Daddy Issues… This term of “daddy issues” is commonly used in a joking manner and misrepresented. Father abandonment, wither it’s from physically or/and emotionally, it is over simplified to media and should be taken more seriously. According to Urban Dictionary the definition is, “Whenever a female has a f***ed up relationship with her father, or absence of a father figure during her childhood, it tends to spill into any adult relationship they embark on, usually to the chagrin of any poor male in their life.” Chagrin means distress or embarrassment at having failed or been humiliated. Urban Dictionary has some extreme definitions for a lot of words, but no matter where I looked, this was the basic definition (without the bad language). My parents divorced when I was very young, but my father and mother were both very involved in my childhood. However, in 8th grade my father passed away due to unexpected circumstances, putting me into this box of perceived ideas. So, hello everyone. My name is Erica and I have daddy issues.
The Stereotype Baggage
When I was finding primary sources, there was multiple articles titled like, “5 Signs a Girl has Daddy Issues” and “We Asked Three Experts How to Deal with Daddy Issues”. Right off the bat, there is a negative tone to either having father issues or knowing someone with them. The article I am choosing to help out with what comes with daddy issues is article written by Danielle Anne. She titled it, “Dating a Girl with Daddy Issues: 15 Things You Must Know”. According to Danielle Anne, this is what it is like dating a girl with daddy issues: (Only some listed)
“Getting her trust will be difficult. If you want a relationship with a woman who has daddy issues, you’ll have to jump through a few hoops before you get anything emotional out of her.
She will test you. Over and over again. Once you’re in a relationship with her, you might not notice that you’re actually engaged in a series of psychological tests your girl has concocted. Whether you pass or not depends on her sunny or stormy disposition.
She will probably have sex with you on the first date… or, at least, sooner than you think. This is where a woman with daddy issues falters. She perceives sex as a bargaining chip, and she thinks that giving in early will seal her fate as a girlfriend. Sometimes, it works… but most of the time, it doesn’t.
She’s a people-pleaser. She will give you all the help you need, be there when you feel sick or sad, and be more affectionate than your own mother. And the sex will probably be awesome. That’s because women with daddy issues tend to comply with men’s requests, just so they can feel wanted and needed.
She will flirt with other guys. It’s not that she wants to cheat. It’s just that she can’t get enough of men’s attention. If you can provide enough for her, she’ll be too distracted to flirt with other men.
Inconsistency upsets her. She knows when she’s getting enough attention, and she knows when she isn’t. You better know how much she needs, or she’ll make you regret not texting at your usual 8 PM time slot.”
Some of these are very specific, making this article not accurate. There were some that I agreed with only because that is just how my personality is. That’s how I was raised. I would like to think that some of you who read through these, you also have that trait. At one point in the article she has a heading saying, “Is it okay to date a woman with daddy issues?” I would sure hope so.
Popular Culture Representations
This is Karen Jackson. She is a character from the show ‘Shameless’ from Showtime and played by Laura Wiggins. At some point in her childhood, Karen’s mother became agoraphobic, which negatively affected her. According to the show, this is why she lost her virginity at 11 years old and became a sexually active character ever since. By doing so, she destroys her relationship with her father and he ends up leaving her life in the first season of the show before killing himself.
According to the signs, Karen fits them all for the stereotypically female with father issues. Sexual aggression: Yes, in the show she learns that she has a sexual addiction. Clinginess: Yes, she becomes attached to one of the main characters Philip, played by Jeremy White. Excessive friendliness towards guys: Yes, Karen was sleeping around with more than just Philip through the show and liked the attention. Defensive barriers: Yes, when her father and she started having problems, she would ignore like he wasn’t physically there because the way he hurt her before. Dating older men: Yes, while “recovering” from having a sexual addiction she meets Jody Silverman, played by Zach McGowan, at Sex Addicts Anonymous. His age is not stated, however throughout the show it is obvious he is not in high school with Karen.
I could give multiple examples from Shameless. It seems like Shameless is the epitome for father issues given that almost every main character has some kind of issue with their father, who may or may not be around. This is an act for the drama or for the realistic notions since there is no such thing as a perfect relationship.
For my next representation, I didn’t want to pick a made-up character in a Showtime TV show and found an article written by AJ (no last name shown) titled, “11 of the Hottest Celebs with Daddy Issues”. Ten out of the 11 celebrities were females and under which photo, there was a detailed paragraph talking about their father issues. One of them is a well-off actress, filmmaker, humanitarian, and activist. Angelina Jolie was born on June 4th, 1975 and soon after in 1976, her parents divorced. Her father left her both physically and emotionally as he was more focused on his acting career. As a teenager, she became a troubled. She found comfort in self-harm and later, started experimenting with all kinds of drugs as well as suffering from an eating disorder. According to the article, she was seen making out with her James, her step brother. Articles like these show how the media handles real life difficulties. The paragraphs only make these actresses’ lives look like a drama tv show and not taking these situations more serious.
Next representation: When I first started looking for artifact, I looked up daddy issues and so many memes showed up. This one stood out for multiple reasons. One, of course the stripper on the picture… Two, the writing that is on the picture was very interesting. “The only candy I am interested in swings from a pole and has daddy issues.” Putting the assumption that all females who have the occupation of a stripper have daddy issues. Not only are they having that assumption, but to call a female “candy” demonstrations that this group of women are not respectable. Another stereotypical baggage about girls who have dealt with father abandonment.
Why should this topic matter more?
Father abandonment is more common than one may think and the effects are both long term and short term. There was an article, “Effects of Parental Divorce or a Father’s Death on High School Completion”, written based off a study by the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. The final sample consisted of a total of 3,450 people: 1,761 males and 1,689 females. The results were astonishing. With divorce, chances of completing high school before 19 are reduced by about 41% for males while for females who lost their father, 79% of females wouldn’t complete high school. Losing a father emotionally or/and physically has such a huge impact on someone’s young adult life creating this butterfly effect. No father issues are every exactly the same either. So, why should this idea of father abandonment have these standards that females don’t even try to meet and carry around this stereotypical luggage? Furthermore, according to the American Psychology Association, people who experienced harder life experiences become more resilience. “Relatively lower global distress, lower self-rated functional impairment, fewer posttraumatic stress symptoms, and higher life satisfaction over time. Furthermore, people with some prior lifetime adversity were the least affected by recent adverse events.” Why doesn’t popular culture and media show off these females who went through these hard experiences in life to be more empowering versus a walking car crash?
Angelina Jolie by seven years old was in her very first movie. Today, she has three Golden Awards, two screen Actors Guild Awards, and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actresses. She has three adopted children and three biological children with Brad Pitt! There is so much that Angelina Jolie has done in her life and has so much to stand for. Every actress that was on that list of “Hottest Celebrities with Daddy Issues” has so many accomplishments and they do not seem to get enough credit because of how poorly media represents this “kind of female”. They create this idea of women who lose their father, emotional or/and physically, and take it to the extreme and characters like Karen from Shameless are born. While this is good for drama and to get an audience, it is creating a poor representation of what losing a father really is like.
Before starting this project, I never considered myself someone who has daddy issues. I knew that I went through a hard-hitting experience that a lot of kids my age don’t really go through. Because of that experience, there is now this stereotype connected to my identity that wasn’t my choice. I am not a female who loves sexual attention from older men or some clingy people-pleaser. I am a female who is her own person and has her own experiences that make me different from everyone else a little. This is why I feel that the way popular culture and media represents this group of women is shown incorrectly by making it too submissive and too classified. I have been through a hard experience in my life, but this doesn’t make me weaker than any other female. I am strong willed, know what I want, and in some ways, have more empathy for loss. So, with that said: hello everyone, my name is Erica Riege and I am proud to have daddy issues.
Week 3/Week 7: In the video, “Ways of Seeing” by John Berger, he showed multiple examples of how advising is all around is and compared oil paintings to ads today. They were all very similar with the poses of the pictures. Then, with the Ted Talk, “Do Copyrights Laws Stifle Creativity” by Lawrence Lessig, he talked about how new is not really “new”. I drew a connection with these with the idea of no originality anymore. In general, everything is formed off of something else and with how long the internet has been around and how long human have been alive, how many more things will be considered truly new without having to share that copyright.
Week 5: Another moment of realization that was important for me through this class was the weekly readings for week five, “Inequality in 700 Popular Films” by USC and “Every Single Word” by Dylan Marron. I was so unaware how little other cultures and races were shown on main streamed movies. To see the statistics from one reading and actual examples from the other was a great way to make the point that the minorities are still minorities in the production world. When I watch any kind of movie or TV show, I will pay attention to two things: are there different races/cultures playing in the film? If so, what are their roles?
- Anne, D. (2017, April 06). Dating a Girl with Daddy Issues: 15 Things You Must Know. Retrieved May 18, 2017, from http://www.lovepanky.com/men/understanding-women/dating-a-girl-with-daddy-issues
- Karen Jackson (US). Retrieved May 20, 2017, from http://shameless.wikia.com/wiki/Karen_Jackson_(US)
- (2015, July 13). 11 of the Hottest Celebs with Daddy Issues. Retrieved May 18, 2017, from http://www.therichest.com/expensive-lifestyle/entertainment/11-hottest-celebs-with-daddy-issues/
- Sapharas, N., Estell, D., Doran, K., & Waldron, M. (2016). Effects of Parental Divorce or a Father’s Death on High School Completion. Wiley Online Library, 53(8), 861-874. doi:10.1002/pits.21947
- Seery, M., Holman, A., & Silver, R. (2010, December). Whatever does not kill us: Cumulative lifetime adversity, vulnerability, and resilience. Retrieved May 20, 2017, from http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2010-21218-001/
In the past three years, I have spent over 4 months worth of time in hospitals. I go once a week for blood tests to be done, have monthly check ups with different specialists, and have had to drop out of college three times for medical reasons. Chronic illness is something I will deal with for the rest of my life. So, when asked to pick a piece of my identity and its portrayal in the media, I jumped at the opportunity to analyze the way films portray illness. I have always been a movie buff and until I became sick I had never noticed that there is a stereotype of ill people in films. By analyzing Cake, 50/50, and The Fault In Our Stars, I have been able to draw a conclusion that there are certain commonalities between ill protagonists that are persistent throughout film. Sick people are generally stubborn, possess dark humor, and use romance as a coping mechanism throughout film portrayals.
What is chronic illness?
A chronic disease is one lasting 3 months or more, by the definition of the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. Chronic diseases generally cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured by medication, nor do they just disappear. They vary from terminal illnesses to life long pain disorders. Chronic illness deeply impacts the quality of life for the person suffering through it. It is far more common than people realize and effects around 40% of Americans.
“Cake” is about a woman suffering from chronic pain after several traumas. It displays the gritty reality of addiction, pain, and trauma. The film portrays a sort of desperate and lonely former professional who has suffered major losses and trauma and is left with chronic pain. Claire struggles through her pain with addiction to pills. Her sponsor in her support group kills herself and she struggles with visions of this woman throughout the film. She goes to meet this woman’s family and has an affair with her husband. Throughout the film, Claire struggles with both the suicide of the support group member and the trauma of the accident she was in. Claire is unwilling to accept help most of the time, but I think it is clear that she wants to get better. Her struggle is very raw and real throughout the film.
Claire’s addiction to pain pills throughout this film stood out to me. This is such a huge aspect of being chronically ill or dealing with a disease. Pain killers are highly addictive and work wonders for dealing with pain. Once someone gets started on a drug like Vicodin or Oxycontin, it is often incredibly hard to stop, especially if their pain is chronic. Claire’s struggle makes her a more authentic and relatable chronically ill character. Another detail that really stood out to me about Claire was her dark humor. She uses it to combat some of the more annoying questions that come alongside being sick. I appreciated her cynical outlook when she was interacting with people because it can be one of the most frustrating parts about being sick. It is nice to see someone with illness not being weak but rather putting on a brave face to deal with social interaction. Not that she doesn’t break down in more private settings, but her interactions with less intimate characters throughout the film are usually fueled by dark humor.
“50/50” is a movie about a man who is diagnosed with a form of cancer that leaves him with a 50/50 chance at survival. It was created to show that there can be some humor in the darkness of illness and shows a very real portrayal of what a young person being diagnosed with cancer can be like. Adam, the protagonist, deals with his cancer in a very human way with ups and downs. He has a friend that seems to play the comic relief, but Adam has several comic lines as well, making an interesting dark comedy film. Adam goes to therapy as a coping mechanism and falls for his therapist. Adam finds different ways to handle his cancer. The film shows how different people he is close to respond to different parts of his illness. He goes through chemotherapy for a while and then comes the surgery. I felt like it was handled pretty well for a surgery in a movie. (Spoiler alert:) It was a relief that he came out alive because he has a 50/50 shot. It was nice to see him have a happy ending where he found a more real love and has people who want to take care of him. Sometimes movies about disease have really morbid endings and it was nice to not see this here.
Adam was a very relatable character and I feel like the people who created this film went out of their way to make that the case. It was very clear that Adam’s struggle was a true story, making it more authentic to reality. Adam was clearly dealing with a lot but the film did not dwell on the sadness for too long and left plenty of room for happiness.. Adam’s interactions with his mother and other family members are very accurate as well. There were no aggressive romantics throughout the film. The different relationships all had natural dynamics that added to the realness of the film. This film does a great job making Adam’s illness seem real and relatable while not being too gloomy. There are plenty points of seriousness but it is matched with humor.
The Fault In Our Stars
“The Fault in Our Stars” was originally written by well known author John Green and adapted into a box office hit movie. It is about two teens suffering from different forms of cancer. Hazel and Augustus meet at a support group and share a quirky romance where they both are cynical and seem sort of like outcasts. They do cute romantic things together and eventually Hazel expresses a desire to go to Amsterdam to track down the author of their favorite book. There are a fair share of hiccups along the way but they end up being able to go because Augustus still has his Make A Wish. The cliches are pretty extreme. The two share a romantic few days in Amsterdam where they go to meet the author. However, when they arrive they are disappointed by what they find. The author is an alcoholic mess who does not have any answers to their questions. Frustrated, they head back to the US. Things start to fall apart when Hazel and Augustus return to the US. Several medical issues later and (spoiler alert) Augustus ends up dying. Hazel and Augustus have written eulogies for each other but when Augustus dies first, Hazel finds out that he has reached out to the author to have it rewritten for him because the author shows up and Augustus’s funeral.
Something that really stood out to me with this film was the aggressive over exaggerations of every single aspect. The behavior of the healthcare professionals seemed really serious and tense. The relationship they shared seemed incredibly dramatic and pretty intensely romantic for a bunch of 16 year olds. Running away to Amsterdam for a week would be amazing, but with the state of my health I don’t think I would be able to do that. The two characters in this film have far more serious and life threatening illnesses than me but somehow were able to get medical clearance for some pretty intense traveling. It was annoying to see something so far fetched happen because it is important to show the reality of illness in order to avoid misconceptions.
It seems kind of hard to be cliche about such an individual situation. I expected this film to be a little more unique because of how quirky the two lead characters were made out to be. There is not really a lot that is cliche about cancer or chronic illness. It is such a unique experience that it is almost frustrating to see it made out to be full of cliche and commonality. The whole Make A Wish concept is an assumed aspect of illness and not something that everyone actually gets the benefit of experiencing. Being sick is not a common experience and everyone deals with it in different and unique ways. For an able bodied author to write a story about two terminally ill teenagers and chalk it full of cliche was incredibly disappointing.
This film was BY FAR the worst representation of sick people in all three films I have analyzed and was a major let down.
Cynical Protagonists and other Commonalities
A major commonality I noticed between all three of these films was how cynical the protagonists were, especially to able bodied and healthy people. In a way, this behavior sort of participates in the “other-ing” of sick people from healthy people. Adam and his friend in 50/50 have frequently comedic dialogue, this is less harmful then the conversations in The Fault In Our Stars. Hazel and Augustus are cynics towards the support group they are in and assume nobody else could understand them. In Cake, Claire uses a lot of dark humor in her interactions with most people. All of these behaviors are making fun of the situations that these protagonists are in. While I am all for using humor as a coping mechanism, it is important to grasp the realism of disease too. I think that 50/50 is the only film that manages to do this, probably because it was a true story. Maybe if The Fault In Our Stars had been a true story it could be more relatable for chronically sick people.
Why is this important?
- 40% of Americans struggle with chronic diseases
- 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain
- More than 75% of all health care costs are due to chronic conditions in the US
- 40 million Americans are limited in their usual activities due to one or more chronic health conditions
(National Health Council)
In my research, I found that media coverage of health care access focused on problems encountered by insured Americans and ignored the struggle of uninsured and other disadvantaged populations (Hannay). It was also drawn to my attention that media coverage of chronic illness relied heavily on narratives depicting the challenges faced by patients and their care givers but overlooked the big picture problems with health care. In a lot of cases, coverage of chronic illness is negative, with patients portrayed as hopeless victims who burdened their families (Hannay). These common practices in the media do not cover the full scale impact of chronic disease and give an inaccurate portrayal.
What needs to change?
Education is the vital beginning piece to solving most cultural issues, in my opinion. Film-makers need to consult with people who have struggled with the illnesses being portrayed in order to create a more understanding environment over chronic illness. Bringing reality to chronically ill people in movies can help those who do not understand illness get an insight into what it is like. It can help bridge the divide between able-bodied, healthy people, and sick people so that there can be a better understanding of what life can be like as a chronically ill person. Perpetuating false information and stereotypes can lead to assumptions that can be damaging to the societal view of chronically ill people (Schatman). Spreading false information can be damaging to chronically ill people and their societal representation.
I can only hope that with time and attention that the portrayal of chronically ill people will change. I think a big part of this is to open up the dialogue to different aspects of sick people’s lives in film besides romance. If films portrayed disadvantaged populations and real stories, then I think society would potentially have a different view of chronically ill people. It should be a requirement to have movies that are about chronic illness consult with someone who has been affected by the disease they are portraying. If film producers ran their assumptions by chronically ill people before creating a film full of false accounts then there would be a very different portrayal of sick people in the media.
It is “time for the media to set up to the plate, and consider writing legitimate stories that may actually help patients with pain — and assist those of us who are trying our best to aid them” – Michael Schatman
- In Week 3, I was fascinated by Berger’s analysis of advertisements. It drew attention to anomalies in advertising that I had never noticed before. I found it fascinating to watch the advertisements morph from one to the next in Berger’s video and noted that it has changed from TV ads to social media. It is obvious that brands copy the techniques of other brands when it comes to advertising, but it is not something I was aware of until I watched this piece.
- In Week 5, I was most captivated by the USC research study and Every Single Word videos. The videos highlighted how infrequently minority characters play roles in major blockbuster films. I was not even aware of how often this occurs until seeing these videos and the USC research backed all of the video’s with their findings. It was apparent that women and minorities are majorly underrepresented and often underpaid. It was apparent that POC had small supporting roles and white actors were more often the leads. This is something I am now noticing in everything I watch.
About Chronic Diseases. (2014, July 29). Retrieved May 21, 2017, from http://www.nationalhealthcouncil.org/sites/default/files/NHC_Files/Pdf_Files/AboutChronicDisease.pdf
Barnz, D. (Director). (2014). Cake [Motion picture on DVD]. United States: Cinelou Releasing, Freestyle Releasing.
Boone, J. (Director), & Green, J. (Writer). (2014). The Fault In Our Stars [Motion picture on DVD]. United States: 20th Century Fox.
J, Hannay. “”Chronically Distorted”: Report Examines Media Portrayal of Chronic Illness and Health Care Access.” RWJF. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 09 June 2015. Web. 15 May 2017.
Levine, J. (Director). (2011). 50 /50 [Motion picture on DVD]. United States: Summit Entertainment.
Schatman, Michael E. “The American chronic pain crisis and the media: about time to get it right?” Journal of Pain Research 8.2015 (2015): 885-87. PubMed Central. Web. 14 May 2017. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4687984/>.
Latina characters in movies and television are often depicted with certain characteristics and are given specific lines from writers to emphasize their Latin accent or cultural heritage. To display examples of these commonalities in Latina characters I chose to focus on three artifacts: Modern Family, Spanglish, and Pitch Perfect 2. All these mediums show the common traits of having a thick accent, excessively beautiful and demonstrate a negative light to their cultural heritage. I want to demonstrate how these roles are prominent in film and television and how they relate to the real world, by arguing how unrealistic these roles are portrayed in media.
I wanted to begin with the hit television show Modern Family, currently on their 8th season. The show itself is set up as a mockumentary of three families in Los Angeles and funny predicaments characters get into. I think the show is for audience of all ages, and is a family comedy. I chose to focus on one episode in particular, Season 8 Episode 1 “Tale of Three Cities”, because I have never watched Modern Family before. After searching for a controversial episode by Modern Family, I came across an article written by the AVClub talking about the recurring “Uninventive remarks towards Latin culture”. After doing some research, I read from fans on the website AV CLub that quoted “Season 7 was the worst season ever from Modern Family and Season 8 was their comeback”. The episode is about three different families on summer vacation in three different locations. The first family is in New York, where the couple and their three kids decide to split up, the parents have a romantic get away for a few days while the children secretly explore New York. The second family is gay couple Mitchell and Cameron, who go to Missouri to visit Cameron’s family yet arrive to his grandma being on her deathbed. The final family is in Juarez, Mexico is based around Gloria, Sofia Vergara’s character. Gloria’s family attends her cousin Marisol’s third wedding at the age of 19. The character Gloria opens up the scene with the line “Thank god they finished that tunnel in time, for her father to make it.”
As the episode progresses, Gloria’s lines escalade and when it came to revealing Gloria’s family, there were a lot of jokes and remarks about Mexican people. Gloria and her family are Columbian. At the wedding when Gloria’s sister Sonia was introduced said she was going to drop off her present at the gift table. Sonia holds up a machete, the camera zooms in on someone putting a machete at the gift table and Sonia gives a big sigh with the remark “of course.” I made the observation how it’s strange the event in Juarez, Mexico was the “third wedding” for a 19 year old girl; maybe stabbing a joke at how young mexican women get married and how often. Another strange remark, joking about latin culture was how Gloria stated “Kidnapping is very common in my family. *phone rings* Oh I bet this is the ransom call.” connoting kidnapping and asking for ransoms are common in Latin America. Her son was stolen and she remained calm, and being the comedic relief character, Gloria laughed at how Sonia kidnapped her son and acted like it was an everyday occurrence.
In all these instances, Gloria’s character depicts Latin America as a place riddled with drugs, gang violence, and kidnappings without acknowledging the beauty or history of the culture. Gloria says lines that constantly degraded herself and latina women in general. This type of media influences culture and stereotypes when it comes to peoples of this population in the real world. Leading to assumptions all latina women were born outside the US, have thick accents, crazy cultures and are as voluptuous as Sofia Vergara is.
It was revealing how Gloria stated in the episode “Kidnapping is very common in my family. *phone rings* Oh, I bet this is the ransom call”, connoting kidnapping and asking for ransoms are common in Latin America. Gloria laughed at how Sonia kidnapped her son and acted like it was an everyday occurrence. In reality, Columbia was once known as the “ kidnap capital of the world, with eight reported abductions a day…” not something to take lightly. The script writers of Modern Family most likely did not write that line as a reference or empathetic remark. The writers have said they hired Sofia Vergara for her “ethnic” qualities.
For my second spotlight topic I wanted to pick the movie “Spanglish” directed by James L Brooks, a romantic comedy starring Adam Sandler, Paz Vega, and Tea Leoni. This movie was released in theatres throughout the United States. The story is narrated by Cristina, the daughter of Flor (Paz Vega’s character) who tells how her mother smuggled into the U.S with Cristina to start a new life with her daughter.. Flor becomes a housekeeper and eventually full time nanny for the Clasky family and it is the comedic story of how the Clasky family intervenes in Flor’s life for what they think is for the better. Flor falls in love with the father of the Clasky household, Adam Sandler. This movie’s audience is most likely intended for teens and adults who enjoy romantic comedies.
Cristina is narrating the tale of her mother’s sacrifices for her Princeton University Admissions Letter. Telling the struggles of how her mother crossed Cristina and herself over the Mexican border and started a new life in the U.S.. Cristina’s depiction of passing the border is her walking across a field and getting on a bus. Cristina describes her mother as single, strong, thick-accented, only Spanish speaking, taboo to American culture, uneducated, beautiful, confused and defensive person.
In the story Flor becomes a full-time nanny for the summer in the Clasky home, having her and her daughter Cristina live with the Clasky’s. Eventually Deborah, the mother of the Clasky family, tries to control Cristina’s education, transferring her to a private school, when she discovers Cristina is very intelligent; as well as take over Cristina’s social life, no longer being with Flor’s family but rather attending the Clasky families events. This is shift causes Flor to become resentful of the Clasky family, so Flor learns English and stands up for herself. There is a love interest for Flor, John Clasky (Adam Sandler) who she starts to learn more about and eventually says they cannot be together. After saying their love could not exist, Flor quits and leaves the Clasky family, upsetting Cristina. Cristina’s closing lines are “ I’ve been overwhelmed by your encouragement to apply to your university and your list of scholarships available to me. Though, as I hope this essay shows, your acceptance, while it would thrill me, will not define me. My identity rests firmly and happily on one fact: I am my mother’s daughter. Thank you, Cristina Moreno”
I picked Spanglish as a movie of observation for my thesis of negative or unrealistic assumptions and stereotypes towards Latina women. It was interesting how simplified crossing the Mexican border was displayed in the beginning of the film. The scene is the mother Flor and child Cristina walking across a field, and up a hill rolling their suitcases. In the next scene they are on a bus and passing Texas. In reality, these two female characters could have easily been kidnapped, raped or murdered by gangsters or cartel men at the border.
In comparison to another popular Mexican film “Under the Same Moon” by Patricia Riggen released in 2008, crossing the border is scary and dangerous. The movie also deals with the struggles of single mother living in California after crossing the border, in contrast to Spanglish’s portrayal, leaving Mexico is dangerous and deadly. As shown in some scenes of “Under the Same Moon”, the mother breaks her forearm and the child must hide under a seat in a minivan. Similarly, the mother in “Under the Same Moon” is a housekeeper, nanny, and poor. My mother and father’s family have crossed Central American borders into the United States and both parties say this was a very scary and life changing experience.
According to Smithsonianmag.com “In the past 14 years, more than 6,000 people have died trying to migrate through the U.S.’s southern border”. The simplicity of crossing the border is disrespectful and an Americanized simplified version of what really occurs. According to PBSorg in their article, “Women Crossing the U.S Border Face Sexual Assault with Little Protection” they explain how people who venture into the United States “will continue in spite of having been assaulted, having been robbed, having been shot at, and having been raped, because it has been a real long journey, a very dangerous expensive one.”. Unlike the fairy tale way “Spanglish” presented immigration.
My final source is the film “Pitch Perfect 2” directed by Elizabeth Banks premiered nation-wide in 2015. This is a sequel to the first hit comedy Pitch Perfect, about an all-girl acapella college group competing for the gold with a cast of funny characters.
In this sequel to Pitch Perfect, this movie is three years after the first competition in the first movie. The plot is that the protagonist all-girl college acapella group, the “Barden Bellas” have lost their title as the best singing group and have to fight to be on top again. This all-girl cast is more diverse when it comes to LGBTQ and race compared to the first film. Introducing new characters like Cynthia, a lesbian black woman and Flo, a Latina with a strong accent. Both of these new characters had very strong characteristics that made them stand out.
The Barden Bellas do singing competitions with a variety of music genres from country to Top 40 pop to 90’s hip hop, against numerous groups throughout the movie. In the performances there are complex dance numbers and use of technicality since there are no instruments involved, only vocals. This film is filled with crude humor, from jokes about vaginas to misogyny to racial remarks and even diarrhea. Barden Bellas have an enemy in the movie who are a German acapella group called Das Sound Machine. In the final scene, the two groups perform in Copenhagen, Denmark and the Barden Bellas win with an original song they wrote!
They made Cynthia and Flo’s characters stand out so much. Cynthia made a lot of comments and insinuations about how she was a lesbian and at one point said “I am a black and lesbian woman..”. The film’s attention to those details were pertinent. For the character Flo, she had a hand full of lines throughout the entire film all in reference to her culture. The lines put her past and the image of South America in a very dark light. Some of her lines that stood out to me included “When I was 9 years old my brother tried to sell me for a chicken ”, and her closing line “So after I graduate there is a chance I will be deported. I will try to reenter this country but I will probably die at sea (smiles). So let’s live for tonight!”. The character Flo and I are both latina, college students and her representation of what larina college students are like is out of control. When I first started college, I got asked the questions “Does your mom know English?”, “Were you born here?” and “So, Spanish was your first language right?”. I believe characters like Flo entice stereotypes and for latinas like me, I should be treated without predetermined standards.
I found it interesting how Flo’s origin is never said but online she is described as Guatemalan. In an interview with Chrissie Fit, the actress that plays Flo states the origin is never revealed but the character is hinted to be from around that South America region. It was revealing how Chrissie Fit does not have the thick accent her character has in the film. I do believe the directors pushed for the strong accent to make Flo seem very foreign and almost clueless. For the closing line stated above, I was surprised how the film put a comedic effect on deportation and the realness of people dying in order to cross the border into America. In another one of Flo’s lines, she gives a comparison of the rest of the acapella group’s stresses over getting kidnapped and sold in her country. It was shocking how very real and scary circumstances was used as comedy in this film.
In all these artifacts we can see common themes and an outsider to this community of Latina women could assume all latinas have thick accents, are excessively beautiful and voluptuous, and have what seems like a struggling, dark heritage. A “Latina” according to Merriam Webster is “a woman or girl who is a native or inhabitant of Latin America”, so these constant connotations toward Latinas in media are creating a stereotype for this large group of women. Enticing negative remarks towards these women in real life. Being a latina, we are all not these aspiring maids as seen in Spanglish or have a struggling history associated with kidnapping as depicted in Modern Family. I believe it should be respected to be of Latin heritage and I am eager to see what changes in the representation of latinas in film and television are in store for the future.
Works Cited: References and In-Text Citations
- B., Brian. “Director James L. Brooks talks Spanglish.” MovieWeb. MovieWeb, 26 Feb. 2016. Web. 31 May 2017.
- Ballvé, Marcelo (2004) The Battle For Latino Media, NACLA Report on the Americas, 37:4, 20-25, DOI: 10.1080/10714839.2004.11722433
- Fowle@kylefowle, Kyle. “New season, same old Modern Family.” The A.V. Club. N.p., 22 Sept. 2016. Web. 31 May 2017.
- Gurney, Written By Kyra. “Behind Colombia’s Dramatic Fall in Kidnappings.” InSight Crime | Organized Crime In The Americas. N.p., 13 Jan. 2015. Web. 31 May 2017.
- Joffe-Block, Fronteras Jude. “Women crossing the U.S. border face sexual assault with little protection.” PBS. Public Broadcasting Service, n.d. Web. 31 May 2017.
- Latimer, Brian. “Latinos in Hollywood: Few Roles, Frequent Stereotypes, New Study Finds.” NBCNews.com. NBCUniversal News Group, 22 Feb. 2016. Web. 31 May 2017.
- “Modern Family (TV Series 2009– ).” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 31 May 2017.
- “Pitch Perfect 2: Chrissie Fit “Flo” Behind the Scenes Movie Interview.” YouTube. N.p., 02 May 2015. Web. 31 May 2017.
- “Pitch Perfect 2.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 20 May 2017. Web. 31 May 2017.
- “Quotes.” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 31 May 2017.
- “Spanglish (film).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 30 May 2017. Web. 31 May 2017.