There are many identities that I align myself with, such as Daughter and Singer, but the identity that I feel has been misrepresented in pop culture is the identity of Introverts. Women introverts specifically are usually either secondary characters, since most films and TV shows center around a male protagonist, and displayed as quiet and submissive. A film that plays on this stereotype is the 50 shades of Grey franchise. Although the introverted woman is technically the focal character her desires and introversion make her an easy target to be trampled on by the dominating male. If the women happen to be the lead they are also displayed in the same way or over-sexualized; think quite, shy, but secretly very sensual librarian types. AKA Anastasia from the 50 shades of Grey franchise. These stereotypes are grossly overused and inaccurate to most introverts I have met and read about. Sarah Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, is a Harvard law school graduate and former attorney and negotiator. She used to regard her quiet and reserved nature as a disadvantage, something to be overcome. She spoke to TIME magazine and defined introversion, “There are many different definitions that psychologists use. One that many would agree with — and that I like — is ‘people who prefer quieter, more minimally stimulating environments.’ The key is about stimulation: extroverts feel at their best and crave a high degree of stimulation. For introverts, the optimal zone is much lower.”
Women introverts in media are usually stereotyped as shy or over sexualized but in TV shows and films such as Daria, Gilmore Girls, and Amèlie while using Susan Cain’s definition of introversion, we see a broader representation of how women can be in control and strong-willed. This is important so girls have more characters to identify with and not be ashamed if they feel they act differently.
Daria is a TV show created by Karen Discher and targeted towards young adults. It was first broadcasted in the year of 1997 and lasted till 2001. This cartoon has a mix of characters with Daria Morgendorffer being the outcast for her high intellect and introverted attitude. This character doesn’t care what people think about her and doesn’t like a big group of friends or a lot of people around her. Her friend Jane is also very similar to her because she also finds the vanity of her peers annoying and the two have a very close connection. Daria’s younger sister is the epitome of everything Daria dislikes, however, which creates a dysfunctional family atmosphere. Another distinct characteristic of introverts is the need to reenergize after having too many social outings or being around too many people for a long period of time. Daria was exhausted by human interaction and occasionally bored by it. People might call her “too intense,” but she’d rather observe the world around her than make a phony effort to participate in it. She could easily feel alone at a pep rally, but she needed that time to think of her classic, snarky comments.
Daria is very similar to me as an introvert. Introverts aren’t necessarily shy; we just prefer a smaller group or one on one conversation typically. This makes me feel good that the creators made her a little feisty and not so much of a wallflower because that has been done. Daria is shown in a positive light most of the time, with her sharp wit and lack of patience for the student body that surrounds her. The only time she is seen negatively is when her apathy towards people goes a little too far and she becomes just mean and judgmental.
Amèlie is a movie directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The film is about a French girl who has her own sense of justice. It was originally premiered in France. The film is set in Paris, France and revolves around a young girl in her twenties and her falling in love. She is very vivacious but also a little naïve when it comes to the world. With its quirky cinematography, it has become a cult classic even here in the US. The movie is in French and it has a youthful lens with which the audience experiences Paris.
Amèlie was homeschooled and seeing how her parents probably gave her the freedom to explore her feelings and this is probably what brought on this almost hero complex where she tries to punish people the way she sees fit. She also becomes a little more aggressive in her pursuit of trying to live her own life the way she wants. What I find interesting is that Amèlie may not be seen as an introvert right away based on her personality. Where Daria dislikes most people and only hangs out with one or two people, Amèlie is optimistic and somewhat of a free spirit. This is interesting that she decides to take life into her own hands in a more aggressive way because when she was younger she was rarely around people because of her Father’s mistaking for her having a heart condition. This is a possible reason for why Amèlie is more of an introvert because she grew up not needing others to recharge her and was perfectly content to be alone most of the time. What really makes her an introvert is her awkwardness in larger social situations and her content for wandering a city or doing something just by herself.
What is really revealing about this film when talking about introverts is that shows introversion and loneliness in a very different and creative way due to its Surrealistic effect. I think another introverted aspect that is revealed in this movie is how the movie shows how hard it is for her to open up to other people, like Nino. This may not be a specific introverted quality but this type of behavior is common for a lot of introverts. The character is shyer in the beginning but once she realizes she needs to be more aggressive with her life she becomes very strong-willed, which some people think shyness equates to introversion.
The last TV show created by Amy Sherman-Palladino called Gilmore Girls. It is referenced as a dramedy, drama and comedy, and was broadcasted in the US for teen audiences. Some details in this TV show are that the mother and daughter, Lorelei and Rory, are very close and almost like siblings. This could be due to the mother’s young age and her eccentricities could have formed Rory to be the way she is, more responsible and secluded to balance her mother. Rory is a very serious and studious person and prefers books to people. This TV show really reflects a certain type, and most overused in media, of an introvert. She is shy and prefers to be with a small select group of people, very intelligent, and has this sweet and bookish quality to her look. Her look is also something that plays with the stereotypical introvert persona. She is very sensible, but cute, almost a girl next door look that many guys fantasize over in the TV show. Something Rory shares with the other two characters mentioned is she is also strong-willed and knows her mind even if it is hard to express at times.
It is always refreshing to see a female character, especially an introvert, shown in a positive light when she is taking charge. This is something interesting however is because most people don’t mind as much when Rory does it, it could be the possible look she has where she seems a little helpless. It’s also interesting how different of a character she is compared to her mom, we definitely get the impression that Rory is more of the ‘adult’ type and her personality had to be more sensible to balance out the opposite personality. She is definitely more serious then Amèlie was and her introversion is a little more obvious and stereotypical, but not incorrect for some. It’s also very interesting that her introversion is found as an almost enchanting quality to some of the men, maybe a hyper-masculine trait for those characters? When compared to Daria who was not seen in this light it is interesting to see how different introverted characters are perceived based on their kind of introversion and how they are in the world. What really stands out about her character compared to other introverted women depicted in TV and Film is she is universally loved and is displayed as a tragic outcast but as a girl who just likes to be alone. Another revealing trait about her that most introverts can agree on is their absorption in a single task; Rory doesn’t notice Dean checking her out because she was fully engrossed in a book.
These shows show a better understanding of women introverts and with all women introverts being also strong-willed and leading characters even if they all various degrees of temperaments. The temperament is uniquely different within all 3 characters. Daria is an introvert who doesn’t need anyone and just chooses to be friends with a very select few. She sees the world for what it is and is a little cynical because of it. She has a very strong personality and isn’t afraid to tell people what is on her mind. Amèlie is a drifting spirit whose own fantasies and inside world colors her view on the outside world and how she fits into it. She is a very soft and has this floating quality to how she carries herself, however, she does have a bit of a temper and doesn’t mind enacting some revenge on those who have done her wrong. Rory is also very light and demure but has a very serious quality to her but shows it in a more subtle way then Daria does.
A pattern that was very obvious and wonderful was that all characters had a strong sense of self, whether it was always there or they found it on their own journey. This I think is very important and something I wasn’t expecting them to have because of other stereotypes. Each girl shows her authority in different ways but none of them back down from a fight and always do what they believe is right, even if the world doesn’t think so. This is very important so girls don’t feel like outcasts if they share these personality traits and because based on a study by Stanford where they studied 50 men and women there were more extroverts in both gender samples it is important for extroverts to understand what introversion generally looks like so we can all be sensitive to each other. Susan Cain says “So many introverts who I interviewed told me about a secret sense of shame they had about who they were and how they prefer to spend their time. I want people to have a comfort level with who they are. Secondly, I’d like schools and workplaces to rethink how they are structured and think about meeting the needs of their introverts as well as their extroverts.” If we create more diversity in film, both on and off the screen, and bring various types women into the forefront we can create understanding and a broader representation in the media which could in turn help change our current pop culture and how we view women and women introverts.
A strong learning moment for me this year was recognizing the stereotypes that are littered in film, TV shows, and throughout social media. This is important so we can understand how to change them and to expect change in the future so everyone is equally represented. One of the stand out momemts for getting to this conclusion was when we had to understand Axe’s reasoning behind their commercial and who they were trying to advertise to.
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“Gilmore Girls (TV Series 2000–2007).” IMDb, IMDb.com, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0238784/.
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