Bipolar Disorder: Crazy or Accurate?

When you hear the words “Bipolar Disorder”, what pops into your mind? When someone says “Oh, he/she is so bipolar!”, is your first thought that they’re crazy? Known in the past as manic depressive disorder, and on some TV advertisements as bipolar depression, bipolar disorder is a mental illness that will affect approximately 4.4% of the population at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Mental illness is often stigmatized, and while it is becoming a more openly discussed topic, the appearance of mental illness in popular culture is still not what it should be. Bipolar disorder isn’t shown in the media as commonly as unipolar depression, but when it is portrayed, it is portrayed rather hastily. It leads you to wonder how well the disease was researched before being acted out. Here, we will examine some examples of bipolar disorder in the media, and how it is portrayed.

MV5BNjg1OTc2NjU5OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjMwNDAyMQ@@._V1_

            Mr. Jones: Mr. Jones is an older film, released back in October of 1993. As the film begins, we are greeted with the song “I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown, which is rather upbeat and cheerful. At first, you might not think anything of this song, but you will later realize the significance of it. As a group of construction workers enter a job site, we are introduced to Mr. Jones, our main character. He is eccentric and excitable, and while smooth talking with the foreman, he manages to get hired on at the job site.

Mr. Jones’ eccentric behavior continues as he impulsively gives another character, Howard, a 100-dollar bill, and tells him an odd story about how he’d found it laying on the ground and out of nowhere a voice tells him “give it to Howard”, but he didn’t know anyone named Howard before this, so how cool is that?! After more upbeat excitement, Mr. Jones seems to finally lose all touch with reality as he decides that he is going to fly like the jets overhead, and must be restrained and pulled away from the edge of the roof, that he’s almost jumped from.

In a scene change, we meet the psychiatrist, Elizabeth, who will be another crucial character. In the mental hospital that has an absolutely terrible system of “evaluate, medicate, evacuate”, Elizabeth meets a heavily sedated Mr. Jones, who has been fed way too many antipsychotics, and has been misdiagnosed with schizophrenia. At a later point, once no longer sedated, Jones and Elizabeth meet again, and Jones is released from the hospital. Elizabeth discusses with the staff Jones’ misdiagnosis and that she believes he actually is suffering from bipolar disorder. Meanwhile, off the medication, Jones goes back into a severely manic episode, in which we see hyper sexuality, impulsivity, grandiosity, and so forth. He is finally brought back to the mental hospital after he disturbs a symphony in an attempt to conduct the orchestra and speed up the music.

Mr. Jones does not like to admit that he does indeed suffer from bipolar disorder, and when a depressive episode finally hits, Jones is absolutely distraught, stating that he’s a junkie who needs his high, which in this case is referring to him needing and desperately missing his manic episodes. We also continue to witness a budding relationship between Jones and Elizabeth, which has begun to cross the bounds of therapeutic and into something unethical. Why is Elizabeth so obsessed with Mr. Jones? Why is she the only person in this ridiculous hospital that can tell that Jones has bipolar disorder and not schizophrenia?

As Jones’ treatment continues, Elizabeth continues to dig deeper, eventually violating Jones’ privacy by contacting someone from his past he claimed to be dead. They fight, and despite the fact that Jones is at the psychiatric hospital through a court order, he is somehow able to leave. Elizabeth continues to follow him, and eventually we are faced with a dramatic scene in the rain in which they finally kiss. Ethics have been completely broken and violated, and only then does Elizabeth attempt to remove herself from Jones’ case. Hospital drama continues, and eventually they I think run off together so that they can be together after Jones has another mental break after being transferred to a different hospital and leaves.

506744-silver-1360767429-319-640x480

            Silver Linings Playbook: The Silver Linings Playbook is a more recent film and also has a main character with bipolar disorder named Pat. We are introduced to a clearly delusional Pat who is talking to someone or something not there, and he manages to avoid taking his medication. Pat’s mother checks him out of the mental hospital in which he had resided for the last 8 months, despite medical professionals advising against this and that Pat is just starting to get used to the routine.

Pat is un-medicated, very manic, and still rather delusional. This helps with the movie’s hijinks, as he expects to be able to easily prove to his wife that he’s changed and okay now. He is also driving his parents crazy. At a strange dinner with I’m assuming friends or possibly neighbors, Pat is introduced to Tiffany, who is a bit of a basket case following her husband’s death, as well as someone dealing with her own mental health issues. Tiffany and her sister, who is one of the people who invited Pat to dinner, aren’t getting along, and Tiffany convinces Pat to leave with her.

Pat and Tiffany have definite sparks, but Pat argues that they’re both married. Drama ensues and Tiffany starts following Pat around. Pat can’t talk to his wife because of a restraining order, so Tiffany agrees to give his wife letters from him so long as he competes in this dance competition with her. He gets a letter back from his wife, his dad is an unusual person with OCD rituals regarding sports while also not seeming to understand Pat’s bipolar disorder, Pat and Tiffany go on a really horrible date, and so forth. There’s a lot of B-plot in this movie. They compete in the dance competition, get the score they need to win a bet his dad and a sketchy book guy made, Pat finds out his wife didn’t actually write the letter to him, but Tiffany did, and he writes her a letter back telling her that he loves her. Que happy emotional scene.

Mr. Jones and Silver Linings Playbook did have some good points to them. They were accurate in the medications used to treat their mentally ill main characters. Mr. Jones did a wonderful job of portraying both the manic and depressive states of bipolar disorder. The Silver Linings Playbook did a good job of showing delusions and I suppose psychosis. However, there is a lot I am not so happy with.

In Mr. Jones, transference and countertransference does make sense, but no matter how you spin it, it was completely unethical and illegal for Elizabeth to sleep with Jones, and she should have been reported, fired, stripped of her license, and possibly arrested. The fact that multiple people knew what had happened and chose not to do anything about it so long as she stayed away from Jones upsets and disturbs me. It was also rather disturbing that Elizabeth completely violated Jones’ privacy and tracked down his old “dead” girlfriend to talk to her. Without a release of information and a number of other things, she’s also violating HIPAA and lord knows what else.

In the Silver Linings Playbook, Pat is pretty much portrayed as crazy, and a lot of the stuff with him and Tiffany is a battle of who is crazier, and “at least I’m not as crazy as you are.” This falls back into that negative portrayal and stigmatization I mentioned earlier. Meanwhile, if Pat was in the hospital being treated for eight months, he would be closely monitored, and they’d have noticed that he was continually delusional and manic. They would have also noticed that he was skipping out on his medication. His family not fighting harder to keep him on his medication was another red flag, even if we ignore the fact that he should not have been able to be released to them in the first place in his clearly unstable mental state. And why does Pat have to end up in such a dysfunctional and sketchy relationship with Tiffany? I get that a romantic ending is great for Hollywood, but with how toxic things were during their date and other points in the film, this is just setting Pat up for further failure.  In an article titled “Bipolar Disorder Affects Behavior and Social Skills on the Internet” (Martini et al.), it does discuss how people with bipolar disorder have poor social skills, and that those worsen over time, but I’m not sure that even that can fully explain Pat’s constantly awkward behavior and poor social skills. I’d like to believe that if he stayed on his medication, that he could learn positive social skills, but that might still be a stretch with the way his character is portrayed.

I believe that Mr. Jones was well researched, but I don’t necessarily feel that Silver Linings Playbook had as much research backing it up, and it chose to go more for what would be the most dramatic, vs. what would be more realistic. While the actors may or may not have had mental illnesses of their own, I don’t think that anyone in these films actually had bipolar disorder. It leads me to wonder how these films might differ or if there would even be a film if any of the actors playing bipolar characters actually had bipolar disorder.

However, I do feel that taking a que from the writers of Mr. Jones would be a good step in the right direction for future shows or films featuring characters with bipolar disorder, so long as they don’t cross over into unethical relations with the doctors. I think that an even stronger point of view would be a character who suffers from bipolar disorder and with the help of family, friends, and/or medication, is able to become more stable and experience life, with or without all of the dramatic hijinks, and not have to have everything tie into whether or not they have a love interest.

 

References

Bipolar Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2018, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/bipolar-disorder.shtml

Figgis, M. (Director). (1993) Mr. Jones [Film].

Russell, D. (Director). (2013) Silver Linings Playbook [Film].

Thaís Martini, Letícia Sanguinetti Czepielewski, Adam Fijtman, Leonardo Sodré, Bianca Wollenhaupt-Aguiar, Caroline Silveira Pereira, . . . Marcia Kauer-Sant’Anna. (n.d.).Bipolar disorder affects behavior and social skills on the Internet. PLoS ONE, 8(11),E79673. Retrieved from http://europepmc.org/backend/ptpmcrender.fcgi?accid=PMC3823569&blobtype=pdf

Advertisements

Gay Actors…or Gay for Pay?

The gay culture is defined and put into a box where actors portray a character that may or may not reflect accurate information about our lifestyles. Straight actors are often cast as gay characters and openly gay actors are usually only cast as gay actors. Ellen Degeneres is a famous openly gay comedienne wasn’t always out of the closet. She had a sitcom (Ellen) on ABC – a primetime sitcom on network television, no less. Ellen Degeneres came out as gay openly, then her show aired the (now infamous) episode titled, “Puppy Episode” where her character on the show comes out as gay. It was only a year after that that her show was suddenly cancelled by the network. She leans over a microphone at the airport and announces she is gay over the loudspeaker, accidentally. That moment is almost engrained in my head. The two most difficult words to say out loud for just about anybody is “I’m gay.” And the humor of saying it even louder and amplified is not lost on how those words sound so loud already. It almost feels like it should be whispered for fear of rejection.

Unfortunately, this is what we have to deal with. The shame of being different from the “norms of society” or the assumed lifestyle that is pushed and engrained in the heads of all children since birth. “One day you will find a wonderful girl, marry and have children.” “Which girl are you asking to the prom?” It’s constant. It’s not malicious (most of the time) but it’s been beaten into our heads subliminally since birth. It’s just the way it should happen naturally. It’s expected and please don’t differ from the expected. Please don’t make me worry.

My parents are the most supportive parents a gay boy could ask for. Even my mom admitted to me that she didn’t want me to be gay. Not because she didn’t agree with my lifestyle or support me, but because she was sad that I would have to fight harder to be accepted. She was worried that I would have to protect myself emotionally, physically, intellectually, mentally, etc. She would always worry (until society completely altered it’s thinking) that I would be judged and ostracized. It’s not her fault she felt that way. She loves me so much that she wanted nothing but happiness and less bumps in the road.

Hollywood. Acting. Performing. Creativity capitol of the world. Singing. Dancing. Make-up. Glamour. Fashion. It’s practically a mecca for the stereotype of gay men and they run the town. More than 40% of West Hollywood’s population identifies as LGBT. Even still, most of America does not buy into the lifestyle as acceptable. The Hollywood entertainment industry is not just about the culture of itself. It’s about selling movie tickets, ratings for television shows, etc. Why would a 29 year old Ohio small town male buy a ticket to see a movie where the lead has values that he, himself does not condone or approve of? To put it in another perspective: How many grandparents do you know sit down on Sunday evening and watch Real Housewives of Atlanta religiously? They don’t understand it and don’t find it relatable. Therefore, Hollywood must adjust and accommodate to the wishes of the many.

Will & Grace debuted in 1998 and went off the air in 2006. This network television show (NBC this time) was always on top of the ratings game. It was fresh, pushed the boundaries and was different. It was eccentric, and it was real. Or so it appeared to many people. Sure, the gay community loved the show. We were torn. Finally, a show where we weren’t the gay best friend (Reality Bites, Clueless, My Best Friend’s Wedding) with the one-liners or the ‘hey girlfriend’ flamboyance. Or were we? Many in the gay community felt betrayed. Jack (Sean Hayes) was a flamboyant sidekick that may have stolen scenes and (arguably) the funniest character on the show – but was it fair to be portrayed with a stereotype? Sure, at least we were getting some attention and the country seemed to really embrace us. Okay, go with it. Eric McCormack plays Will Truman on the show. He is straight and married to a woman in real life. Eric was interviewed once and said, “nothing that anyone in Hollywood ever says makes a difference to people living in the middle of the country.” Truth. If you do not agree with a lifestyle for various reasons it’s going to be damn near impossible to convince you otherwise. And how in the hell are you going to have a sitcom convince a Southern Baptist that being gay is okay and should be accepted and treated equally in society? Impossible.

Showtime debuted with Queer as Folk (2000-2005). This was the first time sex was featured in such a real, raw way on television. At least for some of the gay population. The show was a drama that had it all. Comedy, drama, sex, nudity, and good writing. The setting was in Philadelphia and showed gay men actually dealing with homophobia and how hurtful it could be. The show was groundbreaking in that it portrayed not only the sex and lifestyles of gay men. It talked about HIV, open relationships, straight and gay relationships co-mingling together. But it still lacked as much substance as the typical gay male in a suburban city. Larger cities are diverse and (generally) more democratic.

‘Brokeback Mountain’ was a film starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal (both heterosexual actors). This is a story of two high school drop-outs in their early 20’s who meet as temporary hires to spend a summer herding sheep in the high meadows of Brokeback Mountain. One night Jack insists Ennis share his tent and lay together for warmth from the cold. Bodies touch and arousal leads to quick sex. The next morning Ennis declares, “I’m not no queer.” Jack agrees, “Me neither. A one-shot thing. Nobody’s business but ours.” They spend the summer growing feelings for each other. Then, spend four years apart before reconnecting and picking up where they left off. Ennis is married and has children and Jack is in a relationship with a son as well. Over the course of 20 years, they make it a yearly event and eventually drift apart, unhappy and struggling with accepting their label of being gay. They fight it tooth and nail. The sex scenes in the movie are brutal, rough and yet, tender. This is a powerful movie because it dives into the conflicts of accepting who you are and the struggles how people will perceive you. It also is rare because it’s about middle America – and not Hollywood, Philadelphia or New York, which would have much more diversity, understanding and acceptance.  Both Ledger and Gillenhaal won the Academy Award for their roles in this movie.

Straight actors have won Academy Awards and nominations for playing gay characters. Sean Penn in Milk, Tom Hanks in Philadelphia, Charlize Theron in Monster, etc. “It’s very difficult for an actor to come out if all the signals from agents, directors and studios say ‘we will not put a gay man in a leading straight romantic role,’” David Hauslaib (founder of the blog Queerty) says. “They look at audiences and based on no hard evidence, they conclude that moviegoers will not pay to see a gay man play straight.” There’s too much money at stake. “Big tent-pole pictures are really, really large investments, so the studios want to be sure nothing detracts from the box office.” My take on the double standard is that the majority of the population is heterosexual, and therefore, it’s easier to imagine a straight actor playing a role and being believable in a gay relationship than a gay actor pretending to be straight. The reason for this is the stereotypes. Hollywood is about glitzy fashion and flamboyant men. How could the gay actor be believable falling in love with a woman when he probably just wants to wear her heels and go shopping with her best friends, instead? But a straight actor is more believable because even if he does fall for a guy in this situation in the movie, it’s believable that he could always go back to women if it doesn’t work out.

References:

https://www.visitwesthollywood.com/lgbtq/

https://inews.co.uk/culture/eric-mccormack-interview-everyone-knew-i-married-child-i-took-will-everywhere/

Dahl, M. (2010). Under the Rainbow: Post-closet gay male representation in American theater and television. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Lee, A. (Director). (2005). Brokeback Mountain [Motion Picture].

Puente, M. (2010, August 24). Playing it straight, or gay, doesn’t always go both ways. USA Today, p. 02D.

Roughton, R. (2013). The Significance of Brokeback Mountain. Taylor & Francis Group.

The Female Stigma of the Military

When you think of a woman in the military what do you think? Are they strong? Are they weak? Are they suitable for the work that they have been assigned? Well, I think yes, I am strong and I am absolutely suited for the military and for my job in it. I strive to be a better soldier and a better leader. Many people seem to judge the military and the women in it for many different reasons. A common thought is the motherly, overprotective idea that because you are in the military you are more likely to be sexually harassed, which sadly is true.

To be in the military as a female means that you will face sexual advances from all sides, especially as an enlisted female. One of the main tensions in the military is that it is a difficult profession with a lot of increasingly hard demands physically, mentally, and emotionally. As a human being in that specific environment there needs to be an outlet in order to not be compressed by all of the difficult situations that we have to face on a daily basis. One of the many ways that military members do so is to inject humor into every aspect of their lives. There is a fine line in between humor and sexual harassment which has at length been discussed at least once a year in specific briefings that every unit in the military receives.

The statistics of people in the military getting sexually harassed is outrageous. Even though the numbers show a very large figure, it is known that many people who are involved in such circumstances do not act or do not discuss the situation and, in order to keep their rank, they do not acknowledge that there is a problem at hand. The majority of my frustration at the chain of command or the people in charge are not taking a proper, firm stance on the matter and the fact of the reports that go unnoticed. The differences that are shown in this article Baldwin, J. (1996). Female Promotions in Male-Dominant Organizations: The Case of the United States Military, is the idea that because of a certain rank or status, the individuals involved are urged to keep silent, even at the expense of their own personal well-being. This is a different ideal than the army I choose to sign my life to. I have known instances of grievances happening, but have also known that they have been handled with the individual’s welfare as the main point of concern, by lower enlisted and by high ranking officers. This amount of care is extremely important especially when concerned with the care received by enlisted personnel and officers. Officers issues or grievances are unfortunately, sometimes swept under the rug as discussed in this article.

As a person in the military I feel it is important to note that since this article has been published, quite some time ago, all military branches and commands have felt the need to address the issue and make the problem more commonly mentioned, with yearly briefings and more strict standards and regulations. The emotional support that people in the armed services are provided are especially important and well versed. The mental health and physical safety of all parties involved are important and taken into consideration. The idea of safety is of key importance to the different branches; luckily, the command has become increasingly aware of the issues that have arisen and has taken charge. Another one of the main issues is that it is not just a female problem, it is a problem in general. Females are not the only ones who are sexually harassed, males are also sexually harassed and it is also not all done by the opposite gender.

There has been a disconnect between the enlisted side and the officer side. There have been some articles that have shown that the officers get a different treatment than the enlisted. The officials who decide what the punishment is for the perpetrators are the officers, therefore there are special circumstances for the officers versus the enlisted. As seen in this article the “Sex, the Army and a Double Standard” there have been a lot of different scandals that have dealt with the higher ranks of the military and have brought careers to an end. The ideals of the military have to change, luckily in recent years there has been a great importance placed on the needs for reform in the policies surrounding this issue.

Another thought would be that the female is less suitable to be in the military because of the physical differences between males and females. In the movie Meagan Levey, the first part of the movie is shown some of the backstory to Levey going into the military. She wanted to make something of her life and to prove to herself that she was made of stronger stuff. One of the first major struggles that is depicted in that movie is Levey’s urge to get a K-9. Even though she is an MP (Military Police) she still needs to prove that she is capable of handling a K-9. The physical aspect of this feet is very challenging for Levey and she establishes that she is a hard motivated and diligent marine. Levey has to prove that she is physically capable for all of the work that she needs to do in the military and with her dog. The military is obviously physically demanding and in order to advance in any rank or status you need to show that you are physically up to the challenge of dealing with more responsibility.

These two stigmas show the importance for females to remain in the military. Females need to prove to themselves and others that they are not just a sexual harassment case and they are not just a female who can’t pass their physical fitness tests and therefore cannot rank up and pursue their careers. Females in the military should be proud to be in such a noble profession.

Bibliography

 

Meagan Levey, 2017. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4899370/

 

Baldwin, J. (1996). Female Promotions in Male-Dominant Organizations: The Case of the United States Military. The Journal of Politics, 58(4), 1184-1197. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.proxy.lib.pdx.edu/stable/2960156

 

Thompson, M. (1998). Sex, the army and a double standard. Time151(17), 30.

 

Lesbian Representation In Pop Culture Media

Lesbian Stereotypes in Popular Culture

Stereotypes and tropes are no rarity when it comes to Hollywood portrayals of lesbians. There are several tropes that commonly occur in portrayals of lesbians within film and television. The most prevalent is called the “luscious lesbian.” The “luscious lesbian” is feminine, conventionally attractive, and most likely white. She is often used to entertain the heterosexual male audience through acting out sexual fantasies. She is gay enough to enjoy being with women, but not enough to be intimidating to heterosexual men or to exclusively interested in women.. The “luscious lesbian” appears constantly throughout pop culture with the sexualization of her character occurring to different extents. Both Katherine Hiegl’s character in the movie “Jenny’s Wedding” and Denise Richard’s in the teen movie “Wild Things” could be considered “luscious lesbians” although one movie contains no sex and the other is highly sexual.

Different movies and different levels of sexualization, however both contain “luscious lesbians”: white, conventionally attractive, and feminine.

Another common lesbian stereotype within popular culture is that of the “psycho femme.” The “psycho femme” lesbian is a dangerous, obsessive and crazed character, whose sexuality is ultimately linked to the concept of homsoexuality being an illness. An example of the “psycho femme” is the murderous and manipulative Catherine from the film “Basic Instinct”. Another could be Natalie Portman’s character in “Black Swan” whose homosexual fantasies fall under the umbrella of her psychotic behavior.

 

Misrepresentation of Lesbian Relationships

Jules and Nic from the movie “The Kids Are Alright”

Lesbian relationships are almost always the subject of films with lesbian characters and are often poorly and inaccurately represented. Mainstream media very often makes the mistake of modeling lesbian relationships off of the stereotypical heterosexual relationship. An example of this is in the 2011 movie “The Kids Are Alright”, despite this movie being touted for displaying a lesbian couple as “normal” in reality the film forces one women, Jules, the more feminine of the two, to take on the role of the “wife”, staying at home and raising the children and forces the other Nic to be the “husband”, working a professional job and claiming  ownership of the family. The highly acclaimed film “Blue Is The Warmest Color” also pushes this heterosexual mold onto a lesbian relationship, forcing Adele to be a school teacher who cooks and caters to her girlfriend Emma, a strong, opinionated, and successful artist.

A common trope when it comes to portraying lesbian relationships is “friends or lovers”, where a romantic relationship is continually hinted at but is never confirmed or seen by the audience. An example of this could be from the film “Fried Green Tomatoes” in which two characters Idgie and Ruth share a deep friendship with clear sexual undertones, however any actual homosexual love between them is never confirmed. To a lesser extent the “friends or lovers” trope also applies to the movie “Jenny’s Wedding.” Although this movie is literally about two lesbian women marrying each other, the audience rarely sees the two supposed lovers interact. The characters have no sexual chemistry between them, kiss a total of three times throughout the film, and almost never actually touch each other despite being in a relationship.

Lesbian sex is also commonly misrepresented in portrayals of lesbian relationship. Much of the time lesbian sex in film is shown to be unsatisfying or inadequate without the aid of a man. In the film the “Kids Are Alright” Jules and Nic’s sex life is ultimately a failure despite the effort both women display in romancing one and another. Jules ultimately end up having a sexually satisfying affair with her children’s sperm donor, highlighting the illegitimacy lesbian sex in the media compared to heterosexual sex. A similar situation appears in the movie “Kissing Jessica Stein” in which the main character’s relationship ultimately ends over the lack of sexual intimacy.  On the other end of the spectrum, lesbian sex in media is commonly displayed as entertainment for both the heterosexual man behind the camera and also in the audience. In the movie “Blue Is The Warmest Color” the sex scenes are long, graphic, and choregoraphed to the point of almost pornagraphic. This theme of lesbian sex scenes used to titillate and audience also continues in several movies, such as “American Pie 2”,” Wild Things”, and “Cruel Intentions.”

 

Whiteness and Heterosexuality of Lesbian Media

The author of the of the book which the film “Blue Is the Warmest Color” was based off, Julie Maroh, was very critical of the movie despite the overwhelming praise it received from reviewers during its release. She stated on her blog in regards to the movie “It appears to me that this was what was missing on the set: lesbians.” While watching and researching films with lesbians in it for this class this appeared to be very common. Rarely are movies about lesbians directed by actual lesbians, but are often directed by heterosexual women and men. In fact all of the mainstream films I watched about lesbians were not directed by lesbians. Very rarely are the actresses playing lesbians lesbians themselves. To me, the exclusion of lesbian creative input in film and television, prevents accurate and meaningful portrayals of lesbian characters.

“Blue Is The Warmest Color” a film about two white lesbians played by two white straight actresses, directed by a straight man.

Another commonality that the movies I watched share, is that they are overwhelmingly white. Every lesbian character in the mainstream movies I viewed for this project were white, and there were very rarely any people of color in the background. This trend also continues in LGBTQ representation on television. In GLAAD’s “Where We Are On TV” report, in 2017 only 36% of LGBTQ characters on broadcast television were people of color. To me this shows that Hollywood has regularly ignores the stories of lesbians are not just the stories of white women but also the stories of women of color.

 

Positive and Diverse Portrayals of Lesbians in Hollywood

Although lesbian portrayals in Hollywood clearly have a long way to go I do believe they are progressing. More and more we are seeing more television shows and movies about lesbians. Streaming services like Netflix have provided opportunities for queer people to create more content that has accurate and entertaining content with GLAAD reporting that lesbians make up the majority of LGBTQ representation on streaming platforms. Shows like “Orange Is The New Black” and “One Day At A Time” have increased lesbian representation in media in a more meaningful and accurate way.

Scene from “But I’m A Cheerleader”

Films have also progressed somewhat but at a much slower pace than television when it comes to lesbian representation. The only popular film that I was able to find about lesbians that was also directed by a lesbian as well was the 1999 film “But I’m A Cheerleader.” The character’s love stories and triangles within this film have a very similar plot to many teenage rom coms of the 90’s but with added storyline of being in a conversion camp. The sex scenes in the movie are subtle and framed romantically, with soft lighting and music. This is movie is mostly white but does have at least four characters of color, and all four speak. Although not necessarily the most artistic piece of work I think it’s one of the few films about lesbians that gets it right when it comes to two girls in love.

Overall, I think Hollywood is making progress in representing lesbians, but that progress is very slow. More opportunities need to be allocated to tell lesbian stories and these stories I think should be told by actual lesbians.

 

Sources

 

Eaklor, Vicki L. “The Kids Are All Right But the Lesbians Arent: The Illusion of Progress in Popular Film.” Historical Reflections/Reflexions Historiques, vol. 38, no. 3, Jan. 2012, p. 153. Fine Arts and Music Collection, doi:10.3167/hrrh.2012.380309.

Jenkins, Tricia. “”Potential Lesbians at Two OClock”: The Heterosexualization of Lesbianism in the Recent Teen Film.” The Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 38, no. 3, 2005, pp. 491–504. ProQuest, doi:10.1111/j.0022-3840.2005.00125.x.

GLAAD Where We Are ON TV Report. 2017, GLAAD Media Institute, glaad.org/files/WWAT/WWAT_GLAAD_2017-2018.pdf.

Swisher, Kara. “WE LOVE LESBIANS! OR DO WE? ‘HOT’ SUBCULTURE — OR JUST NEW HURTFUL STEREOTYPES?” The Washington Post, WP Company, 18 July 1993, www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1993/07/18/we-love-lesbians-or-do-we-hot-subculture-or-just-new-hurtful-stereotypes/c04ac909-7af7-4fe6-965f-546c72f768dd/?utm_term=.464335a542dd.

Walters, Suzanna Danuta. “The kids are all right but the lesbians arent: Queer kinship in US culture.” Sexualities, vol. 15, no. 8, 2012, pp. 917–933., doi:10.1177/1363460712459311.

Jews in Media: Laughing with us or at us?

Reflections on Research

Through my research into the portrait of Jewishness in popular culture I have discovered a lot. The most important thing I took away from my research is that Jews portals differ vastly depending on the creator and whether they are Jewish or not. A classic example of a show created by Jews is “Seinfeld”. The humor is unquestionably Jewish, and it does not use its characters Jewishness as the butt of its jokes. The characters Jewishness is not the shows source of humor. There is more of a overarching theme of humor in the absurdity of life and Jews happen to be the stars. Compare this to “New Girl’s” sole Jewish character Schmidt, you can hardly go an episode without an inappropriate Jewish joke. The punchline makes fun of Jews. Humor around the Jewish character has no nuance, he is a Jew and Jews are ridiculous and funny. The following Jewish jokes from season four alone:

  1. “You’re really sexy for a Jew.” (Episode 9: “Thanksgiving IV”)

Schmidt receives the awkward compliment during an intimate encounter at his “Bangsgiving” Thanksgiving party. A young woman he’s getting close to on the couch makes the casual observation, causing him to ask: “Wait, what?”

  1. “Has anyone ever told you you look like a Jewish Kennedy?” (Episode 12: “Shark”)

Power-hungry local politician Fawn Moscato compares Schmidt to playboy President John F. Kennedy in a bid to win his affections. She may have a point about his chiseled face and hairstyle, but she follows up by saying: “I hope not, because that would be offensive.”

  1. “I’m having my teeth shaved by a 25th of an inch. Fawn thinks that I have the teeth of an immigrant. She says every time she looks at me, all she can see is Fievel Mousekevitz singing ‘There Are No Cats in America.’ Those little mice Jews.” (Episode 20: “Par 5”)

Schmidt explains that Fawn, who is now his girlfriend, has some pretty exacting standards for her significant other. Fievel Mousekevitz is the animated star of the 1986 film “An American Tail,” which tells the story of a family of Russian Jewish mice who immigrates to the United States to escape anti-Semitism.

  1. “How do I look? How Jewish? I mean like good Jewish or bad Jewish?” (Episode 1: “The Last Wedding”)

Schmidt nervously questions the quality of his Jewish appearance after spotting his crush at a wedding. His friend Nick refuses to answer, thinking the question sounds like a trap.

  1. “It says here we need a murder of peppercorn and — some of that flat Jew bread?” (Episode 17: “Spiderhunt”)

Schmidt is stirring a strange sauce that Nick is concocting from an old family recipe. Matzah seems to be among the obscure ingredients called for in “The Sauce,” though Nick’s family clearly didn’t have Jewish roots.

  1. “When we’re in public, let’s just tone down the Jewish thing, OK?” (Episode 12: “Shark”)

Fawn censors Schmidt after he uses the word “schmendrick” (Yiddish for “stupid person”) in casual conversation. So much for her digging the Jewish Kennedy vibe.

  1. “You Jewish?” (Episode 22: “Clean Break”)

In undoubtedly the most awkward Jewish joke of the fourth or likely any season, guest star Jack McBrayer (aka NBC page Kenneth in “30 Rock”) asks Schmidt out of the blue if he’s Jewish. The two stare silently at each other for several seconds waiting for a laugh from the audience. Not every joke can be funny.

 

The show is written and directed by non-Jews, their perspective on Jewishness is strictly from the outside looking in, there are no insights on Jews or Jewish culture as it really is. The humor is clumsy and without subtlety, laughing at Jews rather than with them. These tasteless minimizing jokes are all too familiar to me as a Jewish person. Jokes like those in “New Girl” give people permission to be insensitive about Jews. Anti-semitism is seen an a different light as other forms of discrimination, seen perhaps as something that is a non issue. It seems to me that people think anti-semitism is a thing on the past and thus something that can be joked about, this is far from the truth. Anti-semitism did not begin or end with the rise and fall of Nazi Germany. Starting in the fourteen hundreds Jews were slaughter is mass during the Spanish Inquisition. Jews had to fight to become naturalized citizens across Europe. Charles Dickens, literature’s darling, called Oliver Twist’s money hungry murderous villain merely “The Jew”.  Jews were lynched in the south. To this day Jewish community centers are under constant bomb threat and Jews are victims of hate crimes in this country. After Trump was elected the PSU Library, my work place, was vandalized with swastikas. I was one of three Jews in my graduating class in high school and was subjected to untold numbers of holocaust jokes and other anti-Semitic jokes. The difference between “Seinfeld” and “New Girl” in regard to Jewish jokes is the former makes Jews feel seen and understood, we can laugh together at the absetdaty of it all, wharas the ladder make Jews the laughable other and normalizes anti-semitic humor. A dangerous thing to do even in this day in age. We do not live is a post racial society. Anti-semitic jokes trigger trauma, feelings of otherness, and fear.

Takeaways from the class

On a different note I’ve one of many aha moments that I had throughout the class came to me after watching Sharyl Attkisson’s Ted talk on astroturfing. So many instances of corporate manipulation became clear after hearing the talk. Attkisson said, “First, hallmarks of astroturf include use of inflammatory language such as “crank”, “quack”, “nutty”, “lies,” “paranoid”, “pseudo”, and “conspiracy”. Astroturfers often claim to debunk myths that aren’t myths at all. Use of the charged language test well: people hear something’s a myth, maybe they find it on Snopes, and they instantly declare themselves too smart to fall for it.” So many instances of this rhetoric sprang to mind. I’ve witnessed a multitude of snarky facebook posts where the poster announces they are too smart to fall for a so called myth and calling out those who are stupid enough to believe it. People are pit against one another, the facts are no longer the focus of the debate Attkisson explains further in her talk: “And most of all, astroturfers tend to reserve all of their public skepticism for those exposing wrongdoing rather than the wrongdoers. In other words, instead of questioning authority, they question those who question authority.” In reality the “myth” is the truth coprite interest wanted to hide. Their campaigns have been so successful that the truth has been obscured and ordinary people tout their rhetoric as a badge of their intelligence. As annoying as this is to me, the real villain here are the corporations that invest ridiculous amounts of money into astroturfing to trick people. If the country was not the tool of corporations these practises would undoubtedly be criminal acts. Democracy is a lie if people don’t have access to unbia information.

Another memorable source was the video series on advertisement, “Ways of Seeing” by  John Berger. Berger uses advertisements and oil paintings as his evidence. I found his logic and examples disturbingly similar to the marketing world of today. Like the oil paintings of old and when Berger was producing his series, modern advertisements purposely erase the means of production that are too often exploitative, and invite you into a perfect world. The oil paintings of the past did not show how the wealthy amassed their fortune through the exploitation of indigenous peoples and African slaves. The same is true of today’s advertisements. There is no hint of the people that produced the goods advertised, the labor market is outsourced and the manufacture, of clothing especially, is done in unsafe sweatshops. The people that produce our goods are often living in extreme poverty, but they are made invisible by advertisement. Something that I think has changed from the time Burger produced his series is the appropriation of political causes for profit, advertisers will use any “hip” cause if they can make money off of it. In the heat of discontent after Trump’s election Pepsi put out an advertisement depicting protesters and riot police setting aside their differences and sharing a Pepsi. The protest shown was a mix between a BLM protest and an anti-Trump rally without political signs. It was a despicable display of neoliberalism making a complete mockery of the reality of police brutality and Pepsi’s history of exploiting black and brown people. As Berger states: “What happens out there happens to strangers, whose fate is meant to be different from ours.” We are taught to disassociate with people suffering in other places, their lives are far off and only hypothetical. We are meant only to relate to the dream like world of advertisements, and we do. I can relate to this feeling, the suffering people are so far away and our paths have never and likely will never intersect. They are hypothetical to me as an American. Worst than this, our consumer culture has lead to the exploitation of people and the degradation of their homes. Advertisements and mass media both causes and numbs us to human suffering. It is the means to our end of consumer goods. Berger suggests the possibility of glamour makes us complicit in the world of consumerism. We are willing to toil and exploit in the hopes of gaining fame and happiness. What we want in not “spray”, but the image that is sold to us. We want the impossible dream. I feel like advertisements have robbed us, they replaced valuing who one is with what one has.

Work Cited

Abrams, Nathan. The New Jew in Film: Exploring Jewishness and Judaism in Contemporary Cinema. Rutgers University Press, 2012.

David, Larry, writer. Seinfeld. NBC.

Manwithaplan999. “WAYS OF SEEING (final episode – advertising) 1/4.” YouTube. March 09, 2008. Accessed February 27, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmgGT3th_oI.

Meriwether, Elizabeth, writer. New Girl. FOX.

“7 strange Jewish jokes that prove ‘New Girl’ is the anti-‘Seinfeld’.” The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. January 05, 2016. http://www.jpost.com/Not-Just-News/7-strange-Jewish-jokes-that-prove-New-Girl-is-the-anti-Seinfeld-439443.

TEDxTalks. “Astroturf and manipulation of media messages | Sharyl Attkisson | TEDxUniversityofNevada.” YouTube. February 06, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bYAQ-ZZtEU.

Women in Today’s Sports

Ashley Doyle
Women in Today’s Sports

When starting this course and having to think of a proposal I wanted to take a different approach and think of something that maybe people haven’t thought to write about yet. What I came up with was lately women have been taking a stand and speaking about, and how our role is starting to change today. Ways that were easiest to explain for me would be through sports. Throughout the years in women’s sports athletes and coach’s roles have really shifted. Through current events of what happened between the USA gymnastics trainer and gymnastics, the Missouri softball coach and his players, and women in the coaching world. Coaches have been 180118094521-01-larry-nassar-0116-super-tease[1]having to adjust to this generation with approaches of different coaching styles. Women have gotten the courage to start to speak out. Toward issues they feel should and need to be addressed.

Larry Nassar became the USA Gymnastics trainer in 1997. From 1997 to 2004 only 3 cases were brought to high authority figures attention, that Larry Nassar was assaulting gymnastics. Authority figures like coaches and professors were approached about the issue and never did anything about it. For 20 years Larry Nassar remained the trainer and was assaulting young athletes. Until 2015 investigation finally took place on the abuse Nassar had done to 156 victims. After one year of investigation, Larry Nassar was convicted. But why did it take so long for Nassar to be put behind bars. It hit me that girls and women who were training in the Olympics had trained their whole life. I did farther research on this subject and spoke to a woman who had been on the Olympic softball team and found articles about Olympics and women on the Olympic teams.

What I found was how there is one top USA team and then following them is about 10 different USA teams. The top team is the team who see on TV representing the USA. Then the other players on the “younger” or team below are all reserves. Waiting for their chance to get on the top team. So, if one falls due to injury or leaves for other purposes, a reserve will replace that athlete. How it went for the young girls and women training to one day being on the National USA team, was they had reputations to keep and you don’t want your reputation or the respect that people have for you blown. If this were to happen where women would speak up about Nassar their shot at going to the Olympics may or was blown. If you spoke up about anything you were not going. This wasn’t the only sport where if you were to speak up about issues or problems you were not going to the Olympics this happened. Nassar had a lot of respect by his coworkers, peers, and the coaches of the gymnastics team. Why it took so long for him to finally be convicted was because of the fear of women and young athletes thinking they were not going to make it to the Olympics also his reputation was far greater then any of the athletes. He made athletes aches and sores go away, he helped those athletes. The gymnastics took his abuse because it was what they had to do, was keep quiet. To make it to the Olympics.

For 10 seasons Coach Earleywine of the Missouri softball program had a winning record every year, and in the softball, world was a high well-respected coach. In his final two seasons coaching at Missouri his coaching methods and styles were questioned by players and the athletic department at Missouri. The article that I had found talked about how Earleywine had been a well-respected coach, but in his 2015season players approach Athletic Director Mack Rhoades, saying how Earleywine had been verbally abusive toward players. Within the same season right before the college world series players protested for almost a whole week. Expressing how they would not play for Earleywine until changes were made. Within those six days Earleywine had voluntarily entered counseling. After the season came to end seven players were set to transfer. Including their number one pitcher Paige Lowery who became an All-American in her next season at Oklahoma, and his All-American shortstop. Earleywine was under investigation leading into the 2016 season he had been suspended from violating Level III infraction, by offering a prospective student athlete before August 1st. But not for his actions in the previous season. By the end of the season Earleywine had been fired. So, why was Earleywine’s coaching style excepted 10 years ago but in his last few years not excepted? It is due to how Earleywine did not evolve with the generation and who players are today.

“Coaches 10 years ago were aggressive and demanded work from their players” (Kellie Wilkerson 2004 USA softball team player). Reading and listening to what Kellie Wilkerson had to say about her playing days to her coaching days, she expresses how this generation expects intent results, and we expect our coaches to teach us everything. Where as back when she played in the early 2000’s, it was like background softball, where today is computerized softball. This is for every other sport as well. What I collected from articles and observing sports and this generation is we are in ways babied. We don’t know how to handle situations where we are yelled at or how to deal with conflict. This is no bash on my generation it is just information I have gathered and observed. One reason Earleywine was had no problems in his early years of coaching, then leading into his final years he had problems was the way that this generation works. Earleywine did not adapt to this generation either. He did not change his ways with his coaching style and how he approached his players with fixing problems and learning situations. The way Earleywine approached situations 10 years ago the same way he did in his last years, 10 years ago it was excepted.

In the history of coaching there has only been one women who has coached the opposite sex. Teresa Philips was the head coach for Tennessee State men’s basketball team. She only made it has a head coach for a collegiate men’s team for only 3 years. Before taking over as the Athletic Director. In the coaching world most coaches are men, throughout all of DI-III and NAIA, only 40% of a coaching staff there are women. Only 23% of women coaching are head coaches. These numbers are really shocking to me, because when I look at it the relationship from players to coaches it completely different from when it is a female coach to a male coach. Someone told me once that being a female coach we connect so well with our players because we walked your path. This made sense to me    femalecoaches[1]because being coached by both females and males, both being good coaches. I see what she is talking about sometimes, female coaches know what do to in some situations that sometimes male coaches do not know how to respond or do not feel comfortable talking about.

Kate Ryan and Stacey Leasca wrote the article “Let’s get to the bottom of why Male and Female Coaches are treated differently.” Both Ryan and Leasca were collecting information on gender bias in college sports. One piece that stood out to both was that female coaches face harsh biases while male coaches did not. What they observed was that male and female coaching styles were not the same when it came to coaching women. They felt that male coaches were not connecting as well to their players as well as female coaches were connecting with their players. Observing and comparing coaching styles from men to women. Seeing how players responded to their coaches, when the team was in a certain situation. One thing that they wanted to address was this was not bashing male coaches, but they saw differences. One major point that they addressed was also coaches not adapting to this generation, how coaching nowadays is a lot different than awhile back. Being aware with who their player might be as a person, or who they are dealing with in certain situations.

That bring together all three of these different topics is the Me-Too Movement. Women are starting to advocate for themselves when they know something that has happened to them is wrong. Women standing making a difference for themselves and others around them. But I feel that where the Me-Too movement comes into effect was the case on Larry Nassar. He had assaulted 156 women for so long it finally took one person to finally go to the police and say something to the police. With the other 2 pieces, I feel that the Me Too can also be involved because women athletes were tired of being verbally abused. Plus, females deserve their place in the coaching world. It has been stated in articles that women coaches have better connections with their players, plus women deserve their chance at coaching. These three articles really helped me understand how the world of sports is and what it is coming to today. How it is such a business, and, in some cases, you must know the right people to get jobs of keep your spot on a team. I feel that it is good that women are starting to take a stand from knowing what is right and wrong in the sports world and in regular society. But cases have risen in the past few years relating sports and behaviors from people and I feel that it has risen in result of the Me-Too movement.

Work Cited
“Let’s Get To The Bottom Of Why Male And Female Coaches Are Treated Differently.” GOOD, 28 Dec. 2016, sports.good.is/articles/gender-bias-college-sports.

Tod Palmer <a href=”mailto:tpalmer@kcstar.com” title=””>tpalmer@kcstar.com. “Mizzou Softball Coach Ehren Earleywine Expected to Return in 2017.” Kansascity, The Kansas City Star, 18 Aug. 2016, http://www.kansascity.com/sports/college/sec/university-of-missouri/article96482547.html.

Hobson, Will. “USOC, USA Gymnastics and Michigan State Answer to Congress for Larry Nassar Scandal.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 13 Feb. 2018, http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/usoc-usa-gymnastics-and-michigan-state-answer-to-congress-for-larry-nassar-scandal/2018/02/13/371ad944-10f5-11e8-9065-e55346f6de81_story.html?utm_term=.b42ff879af82.

Kellie Wilkerson- PSU softball coach, 2004 USA Olympic Softball Team, Mississippi State Softball
Meadow McWhorter- PSU softball coach, Mt. Hood Softball Coach, Jacksonville State Softball

The Football Jock in Mass Media

Mason Vega

Professor Bergland

Pop- Culture

March 14, 2018

The Football Jock in Mass Media

With mass media having such a large influence on what we see through Film, Television, Television Ads and Social Media we see a common theme of the football player as a bully. One of my favorite quotes from Australian Musician Sia, says “When you have a lot of people telling you what you are and perceiving you in a certain way, it’s difficult to find your own identity.” -Sia     We see a bully in film usually as the star football player who is so self-absorbed highly arrogant and a bully to the “little guy” or non-athlete that cannot defending himself physically and doesn’t have the confidence to defend himself verbally.  I will focus specifically on football players portrayal as bullies in movies and a television show and point out some of the reoccurring labels that I found and how these could affect the viewers perspective of football players in a negative way. Continue reading