As I look back on my experience with popular culture, I can safely say that it has been an immersive eye opening ride. In the beginning I was a little confused on what we are learning. I thought it was a class about movies, TV shows and famous people but it turned out to be a much more than that.

My initial learning goals where to be a better overall writer, but I also wanted a course that is interesting and fun. I had a slow and awkward start since I was forced to sign late for the class, but the teacher and classmates helped me settle in very quickly with their friendly attitude and willingness to offer help. In the beginning weeks of the term, I made more specific goals. I had set goals to be better at sourcing my writing, a better researcher and manage my time properly. The mentor workshop gave me the guide to begin with some group exercises were I showed my strengths and weakness. It was really helpful to engage in conversations with other team members where we exchanged notes of our writing experiences. I thought that communicating would be a challenge since this was an online class but the way the course was set up made it easy for me to post assignments and respond to others assignments. My biggest challenge was time. I could not manage as I thought I would. Since this term is my last as a mechanical engineering student, I made my major specific classes a priority. I could not compromise my time for those classes to work on this one. It was really hard since this class was a writing extensive class and there is heavy reading involved.

I can confidently say that I have gotten better not only in the categories I mentioned but also in other ones. I became A better communicator and learned how to share my thoughts in a safe and productive environment. It really helped that this was a multicultural class. Each classmate brought a deferent approach to writing. It was a real treat to see such diverse writers in one place. Each exercise we had brought significant improvement to my writing. They were very diverse, but on the other hand, plenty of resources were given which really helped. For example, I become much more confident in my interpretation of advertisements in the media. I would say that the most interesting assignment was on week three of the course blog. It really helped me realize how to deconstruct messages in ads. I wrote two prompts, the first was to find an affective ad and deconstruct it and the second was to analyze a cigaret ad while following an analysis technique found on external resources presented to us. Here they are 1:”Since I grew up in the nineties, I saw a lot of Michael Jordan. For those who don’t know him, his is considered on of the greatest basketball players of all time. He was everywhere. TVs, newspapers, magazines, billboards, buses and even on cereal boxes. Here is an ad that he did for Gatorade in the nineties. This ad is one that I think defines how companies utilize celebrity fame to sell their products. It shows Jordan holding a Gatorade and smiling with a large bold text that reads “Be like mike .. drink Gatorade”. In this ad, to sell their product, Gatorade was relating between their drink and Jordan’s fame that comes from his ability. Since it is a sports drink, the audience being targeted here were obviously sporty people. The ad gives the idea that if the best basketball player is drinking Gatorade, then it is got to help regular people up their game. Also, the power of using such a popular figure in an ad is that there are people who would buy it just because the figure that they love is using it. For me effective merchandise ad is one that sells the product, and Gatorade was booming at that time.” 2:“A celebrity, smiling while using an unusual looking cigarette. The people being depicted in this ad are white, middle aged, happy and stylish men. The man’s hand is highlighted using light to direct the attention on the cigarette. The ad uses stylish blue colors matching the stylish clothes of the man. The phrase “Rise from the Ashes” is large to catch the reader’s attention and to direct them to read the smaller info about their product. The smaller text is where the ad closes the deal, it describes how tobacco is bad because of the guilt, the smell the ash and the unnecessary moments where the smoker is forced to leave a place because it forbids smoking. So, the ad is selling happiness, ease of use and relief. The message being used works because those who are new to electronic cigarettes will see the obvious advantages of them in contrast to tobacco.”

It has been an immense learning experience for me. Weather it was writing, working with other people or utilizing resources available. Most importantly I think that my research skills are improved. For an engineering student it is an important skill to have, since our work involves many detailed based research. I really expanded my skills of crafting and honing my writing by utilizing external resources. Writing is a creative skill, but more importantly is having a good argument backed up with a proof of some kind. In the end I am more confident with my writing, communication and researching skills which has prepared me to be more successful in the future.


Arab Muslims in popular culture

Nine eleven 2001 is a day remembered as a tragedy that will never be forgotten. It is also the day that changed the remaining good views that some people had of Arab Muslims and how they are portrayed in popular culture. The popular culture perception forced law-abiding Arab Muslims to deal with hate crimes, racial profiling, discrimination, and bullying; Arab Muslims are mostly commonly portrayed as violent, untrustworthy, and as terrorists. Stereotypes are not always bad, generalizations help us know what to expect when we someone or go somewhere new, but when exaggerated negative images of people override the positive images, it can be damaging.

In this piece, I will discuss how my Arab Muslim identity is being misrepresented in popular culture.

Stereotypes are not always bad, generalizations help us know what to expect when we someone or go somewhere new, but when exaggerated negative images of people override the positive images, it can be damaging. According to study by professor Jack Shaheen of Southern Illinois University, out of a 1000 films from 1896 to 2007 that contained Middle Eastern Arab references, 12 were positive, 52 were neutral, and over 900 were negative. This study shows that stereotypes began even before nine eleven and the event only made it worse.

There are many examples of Arab Muslims being misrepresented in popular culture. In the show South Park which aires on Comedy Central, there is no boundary when it comes to negative stereotypes. In one of the episodes titled “Snuke” a new muslim kid is introduced to the class when suddenly, Erik Cartman, one of leading character of the show, realizes that the kid is a muslim and says: “dude, not cool” then leaves his desk in fear and asks the teacher if he has been checked for bombs. After the teacher denies the fact that not all muslims are terrorists Cartman says:”no, but most of them are…” Even thought at the end of the episode it turns out that the muslim is innocent, the reaction Cartman made is just the kind of stereotype that damages the Muslim identity.

Holy Terror is another popular culture artifact to damage the image of Muslims. In this graphic novel by Frank Miller where heroes join forces to battle Muslim terrorists. In every description I read about the novel, it is always mentioned that the bad guys are Muslims. Not to mention the fact that in some cases of the novel the racism is clear as sun light. For example in a scene where Fixer, a hero in the novel, says to a captured terrorist: “So Mohammed, pardon me for guessing your name, but you’ve got to admit the odds are pretty good it’s Mohammad…” The Fixer then tortures and cripples the man before detonating his explosive belt. Can it be more offensive than this?

 A very popular show called Homeland got a lot of controversy when it came for some of the content that was presented about Arab Muslims. Nicholas Brody is one of the main characters of the show. A US marine who was captured and tortured in a middle eastern country. When he was rescued he returns home as a Muslim. When people found out that Brody became a Muslim, he became the enemy. He was pictured as a traitor leaking information to US enemies just because he became a Muslim. He was kept under surveillance because the government didn’t trust him and thought he became a terrorist. Not only did his country which he served lost trust in him but also his wife. In one of the scenes, his wife yells at him and throws the Quran on the ground when she knew about his conversion to Islam. Personally, I was offended and disgusted by those scenes.

brody praysNicholas Brody praying in Homeland

 In Melissa Biogon’s Ted Talk, she pointed out that 1.72 million people watched season 2 premier of Homeland and this shows how such negative representations can reach large numbers of people and influence them. This kind of shows sends bad that can destroy people’s ability to view Islam as a religion of peace. Homeland sends messages  that show how Muslims are not to be trusted because they are the enemy and are a threat to this country. Judging people should be based on there actions not the actions of others and not by their religion.

 One of the most influencing popular culture artifacts are video games. Arab Muslims are mostly portrayed as terrorists in video games. They are either the evil henchmen or the main threat in the game. One of the games that shows this repetitive stereotype of Muslims is called Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. In this games Arab Muslims are always dark skinned with beards. They are always portrayed as suicide bombers and angry mobsters. The game sold more than seven million copies world wide, which shows the incredible amount of people that have seen the stereotypes in the game. Also, my friends used to play this game online and could not believe that amount of racial abuse that other players would say just because my friends had arabic name tags.

Call_of_Duty_4___The_Bad_Guys_by_MrAhn The Muslim enemy in Call of Duty

 When misconceptions are shown in the entertainment industry some people might not take it serious, but when it comes out of a respected public figure than it becomes much more believable. One example that stood out to me was what Brigitte Gabriel, the founder and president of ACT for America, said about muslims. When asked by Larry Elder in a radio interview if there are moderate muslims who condemn the radicals, she said: ”I call it a practicing Muslim and a non-practicing Muslim. I think it is a better description than moderate and radical. A practicing Muslim goes to mosque, prays five times a day, doesn’t drink, believes God gave him women to be his property to beat, to stone to death. He believes Christians and Jews are apes and pigs because they are cursed by Allah. He believes it is his duty to declare war on the infidels because they are Allah’s enemies. That is a practicing Muslim.” Shock was an understatement to what I felt after reading her statement. I am a practicing muslim and what she said is wrong. How come I am not a violent man who wants to kill innocent people? Because I understand right and wrong and that Islam is a religion of peace.

To me and a lot of other Arab Muslim in the world, we take offense on how our people are constantly misrepresented in popular culture. Being seen as a violent people that are associated to terrorism is a misrepresentation and a generalization. People might say that there are many terrorists that come from Arab Muslim countries, that might be true but in fact there are more than 1.2 billion Muslims around the world and to associate the minority with the majority is ignorant and wrong. Even thought my identity is being misrepresented in popular culture I have to be optimistic that the world is changing and that people are realizing the truth. I wish that we all stand against all types of stereotypes whenever we can, as it has brought suffering, discrimination and misjudgment upon those portrayed negatively.


Hernandez, Michael. “Holy Terror comic is Islamophobic, says critics.” The national, 25 October 2011. Web. 1 June 2015.

“Cartman meets a Muslim.” Youtube, 9 Spet. 2013. Web. 1 June 20115

Homeland TV show: Homeland.  Showtime . 2011. Television.

Melissa Boigon’s Ted Talk: “Islamophobia: Melissa Boigon at TEDxGallatin 2013.” YouTube. YouTube, 22 September 2013. Web. 1 June 2015.



E Portfolio

My initial learning goals for this term was to be able to communicate better with my classmates and my instructor through online interactions. I have always seen a fine line between being formal and non-formal when it came to communication with my peers online. I found my strengths as being able to communicate with my group mates in our workshops. I felt that it was much more informal and I was able to communicate easier with them. Some of the struggles I came to was replying to other students post. I found myself, some nights, trying to see what I wanted to reply to their post with. I felt that I had nothing to say or that my response was not long enough to be notable. This was an ongoing issue but did become less problematic as the term went on. I feel that I was stuck on a certain way to respond to someone and that really hindered me in being able to piece together a meaningful response. I have plenty of ideas but the formalities and different rules in my mind really made it hard to convey. By the end of the term, I was very comfortable with typing out my thoughts and responding to other students just became easier.

In one of my Workshop post, I wrote that “I feel that I am pretty good at public speaking and working in a group. One thing I know I need help with is writing in general. Especially with larger papers and what not. I foresee this class requiring quite abit of writing so I can already see myself becoming a better writer by the end of the term. Communication through typing has always been an issue and becoming more familiar with it through this class will benefit me when talking to an instructor or doing an online assignment or working with my partners to complete an assignment. “This term given me the chance to really practice my writing abilities. Each week required me to write and I was able to be exposed to different examples of writing done by my peers. These combined gave me what I needed to improve my writing skills. Being able to see what others wrote gave me new ways to go at how I wrote my own responses and assignments. Writing weekly has been something that I am not use to and did prove difficult in the beginning. Writing more often gave me the chance to practice my writing skills more than a few times a term leading to getting more help quicker. I feel that practice does make perfect, so all this writing has aided my ability to get better and improve how I wrote.

I gained a new understanding for what it means to be an advocate. I noticed that I tended to reply on post that I felt I agreed most with. I usually tried to back up their response and really give them support. During week 3 I replied to S Morris-Doty’s post with “I remember the ad you are taking about and I do find it odd with the multiracial dilemma. I like how you brought this up because companies are trying to appeal to more people and a multiracial family is a normal thing. It’s just weird how it’s so unaccepting it is even today. Would people who have problems with multiracial families have problems with families different from theirs? Or is it just the mixing that’s the problem? That is a weird topic and the ads are a good thing to bring up.”  The post was about a multiracial family eating cheerios. I backed up what he had to say and gave him positive feedback about his post.  Most post aren’t like this though. I wish I kept some of my previous entries but there were many nights where I would really struggle to find a way to advocate for someone. I would type a sentence and then erase it. I found some topics to really be bland and I wouldn’t care much at all but pushed myself to find a way to agree with them and applaud what they wrote. I know it wasn’t required to agree with what others but I sometimes just would not know what to write to them.

Some new skills I feel that I obtained from the course would be a better listener and reader. I was also able to convey my ideas better while in this course rather then most classes where I go in person. In the workshop, I was able to convey ideas that I have very deep feelings about to my class mates for discussions. For example, “This is where I will be focusing

– Asian American


  1. How are Asian American soldiers seen as in the general population?
  2. What are people’s opinions on what American Service men and women do?
  3. What are peoples first expectations/ thought when meeting an Asian person?
  4. Are soldier’s good people?
  5. is there a struggle identifying yourself as a soldier in today’s world?”

With the work I did in this class, I was able to better portray myself to my classmates and to really do research that meant more to me then what would be given by the instructor. The Peer review on our essays also gave me the chance to see how others viewed my ideas more in-depth. They gave me feedback and gave me new ideas that I would have never thought of. I was able to showcase my thoughts and then critique them base on what others said about them. This would be very useful in future ventures to be able to make an idea of mine better for everyone and myself.

This class has been a very different course then I am used to. It gave me the chance to be able to look into what I really enjoyed and be able to convey my ideas to my peers and also see what others like me really think.


Going into this class I was not sure what I was getting myself into. I had some pre conceived ideas of what I though this class was going to be like but those turned out to be not even really close, but I think that is a good thing. I took this class as my last SINQ and I choose it because I always thought of myself as someone who keeps up with popular culture. My previous 2 SINQ’s were somewhat related to my major so I also wanted to take a course that was something completely different. Overall I have enjoyed this class and will be taking away many valuable lessons and knowledge that will be very applicable to the real world and everything that surrounds us.

My initial learning goals coming in for this class were to expand my knowledge on popular culture and really learn what makes up popular culture. As far as my communication goals went, my main goal was to just improve my overall writing skills throughout the course. Of course my final goal was to do well and hopefully get an A in the class. As the term went on I really started to notice where my strengths and weaknesses lied. As far as strength goes I noticed that my strength seemed to be that I was able to connect my life and personal experiences with the topic or issues we would discuss. This really helped because it allowed me to connect myself to the subject and express my ideas more clearly. Here is an example of how I was able to use a personal experience to get my point across.

“1) The essay I found more compelling was The Book Stops Here. When I started reading the article and realized it was about wikipedia I immediately wondered who contributes to the wikipedia pages and why do people do that. To my luck the essay basically answered my question and more for me. I found it very interesting to read contributors say that editing and adding information is like an addiction to them. One thing I took away from this essay was just how much protection is now around wikipedia pages. There seems to be a lot of work that goes in to protecting the pages from vandals/trolls from contributors and I am sure there are many more now, being this essay was written 10 years ago. Me and my friend actually tried to make a wikipedia page about our friend once and the page was deleted within 5 minutes of it going up because it was considered to be not important or substantial information. It just goes to show how you cannot get away with nearly as much as people think you can on wikipedia.”

I think this is a good strength to have because when the reader sees that you have a personal experience that goes along with what you are trying to say it can help them understand as well. My main weakness this class was exactly what I figured it would be. My biggest problem in all of my classes is procrastination and it was no different with this class. I often found myself Thursday night or Sunday night trying to get my work done. Most of the time I get the work done on time and do it well but sometimes it is rushed and I just wonder how much better it could have been if I started way earlier. I am continually trying to work on my procrastination because I know I can improve my writing and overall work much more if I give myself more time.

I think the role in which I greatly improved and gained a new understanding for is a reviewer. In previous SINQ’s and my FRINQ last year we would have to periodically peer review other students work but never to the extent we did for this class. It was always just fill out a form about their work but ultimately the professor’s feedback would be the only one we cared about. In this class we had to rely on our group members a lot for our final blog post and much more input was given on our topics from our group members than the professor or mentor. This really gave me a new appreciation being a reviewer because I realized that people take a lot of stock into what you have to say and your suggestions really are something people look forward to and they actually use them. Being a reviewer myself I really enjoyed the letters we had to write to our group members because there was no outline or sheet to follow directly so I was really able to be free on my suggestions and because I did not have a worksheet or outline it forced me to really inspect the rough drafts more than I would have.

“One thing that is missing, which you stated, is a conclusion. I think for your conclusion you should make sure it summarizes your main points again and connects those points with yourself. It sometimes seems hard to follow what your main points are through your primary sources so summarizing them in the conclusion would be strong. You go so quickly from the positive affect of things to the negative affect that sometimes I got confused. I’m also wondering if it may be easier to talk about all the positives of gaming in the media and then switch and talk about all the negatives. It may make the paper easier to follow and easier to understand the main points you are trying to make.”

That was part of one of the peer review letters I wrote. In my previous experiences with peer reviewing I would not have written anything that detailed or helpful. I would just follow the peer review sheet given to me and write down general ideas. This is a great example of how I improved as a reviewer from this course and a lot of it has to do with the understanding I gained about peer reviewing.

There are many things I will take away from this course and use in my everyday life and future courses. However I think the main thing I will be taking away is just my improved knowledge of being able to identify, evaluate, and analyze sources and knowing where the line is for copyright infringement. I think these will be the things I take away the most because they are and will be applicable in almost everything I do in my life. With technology playing a huge part in our life and the internet being such a necessity it will be very important I know what is a reliable source or something that I can use. This class really cleared up some uncertainties I had on those subjects and I will take and use that knowledge for a very long time. Overall I am happy I took this class because it has taught me a lot about our world today and has been enjoyable doing it.

Eportfolio – Adrian Smith

I have always been hesitant toward the popular culture of my own generation, and generally more welcoming of underground influences, but this class really made me stretch my imagination to figure out why popular culture of many different groups of people are so important to understand. Starting out in the class was really rough for me, because it was my first attempt at juggling 13 credit hours along with full time work. Because of this, a huge part of my learning goal was to adapt to the pressure of the workload while still being successful. I feel that the group work was sometimes difficult to stay on top of amidst the other work assignments, but could have been the most motivating had I utilized it properly. Even in lecture based classes I tend to be shy, and less likely to put myself out there. Because all of the prompts asked us to be up front and personal, it took me until Week 3 to jump into the open.

The prompt I first chose asked us to pick key words describing ourselves and come up with potential questions for our mirror blog posts, so I came up with “Queer, White, Male, Athlete, Portlander”. Well, that wasn’t so bad. Immediately I imagined what other people might think about those identities and why. It made it much easier to come up with my questions thinking about it objectively. As soon as I wrote down the questions, all of the ideas came together and a thesis formed. I typed it out immediately so that I wouldn’t forget,

The heterosexual gaze of queer media through mediums such as movies and television continue to perpetuate a stereotypical representation of the LGBTQ community in order to generate profit.”

It was fantastic how it surfaced immediately, almost like when we talk to our friends about something in the back of our mind and it appears as a full blown thought. So this process really benefited in the formation of the entire essay. Just by dedicating to the thesis, it gave me the gusto to move forward in the class. I started making more comments in the blog and within the group. Because I had realized that I was part of a team which did not judge me based off of individual circumstances, I felt empowered to explain thoughts that I may not have had in a lecture based class. One of these examples is my brainstorming on ideas after reading one of my secondary sources, which ended up relating to many different ideas within my essay,

“ When Jenkins uses Hill Colins idea of intersectionality to relate to Ru-Paul’s drag race, it directly correlated to the other sources by discussing power structure of groups. He stated, “Intersectional paradigms remind us that oppression cannot be reduced to one fundamental type, and that oppressions work together in producing injustice. Within a patriarchal society, domination uses differences that are ascribed social meaning to reinforce the power structure of one group over another.” These ideas and specific terminology helped to pull in a more complex and deeper meaning to the full picture for the research analysis. ”

Through this empowerment I came to understand that people care much more about whether you’re there to support them as a team member than they care about passing judgement on your individuality or struggle in the class. This realization has helped me both in work and in the rest of my classes, pushing me to focus on getting the work done as opposed to the possible judgement of those around me. With this momentum, I became a better researcher because I cared about the class more and had the internal motivation to be part of the prompts. An example from the blog posts was from the essay building tools. While I researched all of the tools, I describe the most useful as,

“Sentence Variation, which reasoned how to vary structure and avoid repetition in paragraphs. This lended to the ideas of paragraph development (Unity, Coherence, A Topic Sentence, and Adequate Development) but also provided direct examples of how to keep paragraphs interesting. Only two strategies were discussed; alternating short versus long sentences and varying sentence openings. Both of these strategies address common issues that most writers have to overcome to perfect our overall writing style.”

The Mirror Blog Essay also forced me to become a better researcher by creating a more realized picture of the popularized images that I had grown up with. For example, I had not known that Brokeback Mountain was a short story before it was a movie, and after reading the short story adaptation had an understanding of the contrast to the popular culture version. The movie cover for Brokeback Mountain only showcased the popularized actors. I explained this in short from the blog post,

“While the original short story by Annie Proulx is not represented in popular media, the positive messages on empowerment she meant to present to society were lost in it’s film adaptation which visualized homosexuality as a lifestyle filled with sorrow and shame.”


Overall the class has created a better understanding of my role as a student, pushed me to my social boundaries by making my thoughts public, forced me to put hours of research in order to come up with quality results, and taught me a different way of writing which is going to be increasingly more important in my career as a student. Although I am struggling with the challenges of this course, I know that I’ll continue to take popular culture while at Portland State University because it has been very beneficial in my educational experience.


My initial learning goals for this course was to learn how to communicate with classmates via online and to improve my writing and reading skills. Also, another reason was to learn online techniques both for this class and for future courses so that I could fluently use those techniques to communicate with others. For the first three week was pretty difficult to me especially when I was facing online techniques issues, but hopefully I met the professor and our mentor so that I could finish my work. It was a challenge for me when I was making comments on others and analyzing the information from news or advertisements. I didn’t have many experiences on giving comments to other people especially online, but after this class I learned how to leave comments on others and including my opinion on it. For example, I left a comment on week 7: Identifying, Evaluating, and Analyzing Sources.

” Move2: After watching this advertisement I found that they used lots of dark colors instead of using bright primary colors. It makes me think that the purpose of this advertisement is not focus on call my attention to buy this pair of shoes instead is more about introducing the brand and what they are celebrate and how they enjoy this pair of shoes. Also, this advertisement showed lots of wonderful smiles and happiness and what I really like is how they portray freedom. No matter what kind of identities do the people have and no matter where the people are come from, they just have one purpose which is to enjoy the party and have a great time with this pair of shoes. Personally, I like the way they portray their brand and I hope to see more interesting stuff next time.

Move 3:
Pattern1: Freedom
Pattern2: Brands
Pattern3: Smiling faces

Personally, I see the most patterns is freedom. At the beginning of the advertisement two men riding skateboard along the empty street on night. Empty and night gives me a connection of freedom which is mean that no worries about what others people say or think about you just enjoy the time. After that, during the party many people was dancing, laughing, playing games, talking and painting freely on the wall. All these events happened on night and watching their movements and dancing with those pair of shoes it makes me think how do your shoes make you feel. By including all these elements it makes think about freedom.”

Another example was a comment from week 4: The Influence of Advertising.”Prompt 2: I think advertisements contribute gender equality to our culture. Man and Women are portrayed in advertisements and it can attract both women and man audience. Gender and culture always have a close relationship between each other, men is always dominate women so in many people’s view about women might be uneducated, weak, childish and so on. Now, the society is changing and the gender inequality between man and women is getting better. Through advertisements influence people’s views about women and I think this will change the culture. I really like the advertisement that is produced by PANTENE, and I think is target to the women audience. This advertisement is comparing between man and women Culture always present girls as they “can’t” because they are girls when the time past this will influence their self-confidence. Although, they have the ability to do the things that they believe and they can do because of the culture it might limited them to do it. The way that the advertisement present is by first asking “Why women always apologizing” then the advertisement show “Don’t be sorry and be strong and shine” finally women say “Sorry, not sorry.””

I learned how to make a post and analyze a post. It helps me improve my personal judgments and change my view on not include cognitive bias.On the other hand, I chose a role that I improved was a reviewer. I learned a lot from other classmates post and comments. For example: I got helpful comments on week 4 and 5 workshop from my group member in group discussion. From Penny Keough comment was ” I think using TV shows as your primary source will be most helpful. This is because when I think of immigration, I think of a better living, and I developed this perception primarily from TV shows. One TV show that is airing now is called “Fresh Off The Boat”. I feel that Americanized is highly associated with immigration. Also, I tend to stereotype immigrants, them being primarily Mexicans and Asians. However, there are other races but maybe you could research why certain races are associated with immigrants.” With the help of my group members I got many new ideas and I finished my Mirror Blog Post on time. In the past I didn’t think that a group is important and I didn’t think that my group members could give me many great ideas and good comments.

I really learned a lot from this class and classmates. Now, I have a new understanding about media and this class had improved my judgment skills and have a good understanding on how to leave comments on others. Also, now I know how important and effective is the group discussions. Having a group and communicating and making comments respectively on others can improve personal work. With these skills that I learned from the class I become more confident on my future courses both online and face to face. I will apply online techniques on others online classes and will have the confident of using those skills easily. Moreover, I will apply my analyze skills and judgment skills through media, life and other business courses. I will try to not having cognitive bias when I will make decision on something. All in all, I had a great time with this class and I gain many confidence by leaving comments on others and gaining online skills so that I can be more comfortable with online classes. Thank you class!


How Popular Queer Culture Puts Us Back into the Closet


Finding a place for myself within the queer community has not been as much an immediate acceptance as it has been a journey, one widely influenced by the binary ideas portrayed in mainstream media. Growing up as a transgender youth identifying as queer, ideas of gender expression and roles influenced my identity from a very early age. Although my parents were a heterosexual couple, I grew up with popular queer media such as the L Word and other programs involved with Showtime, HBO and LogoTV. These sources did not often involve transgender individuals, and almost never portrayed gender expression along a spectrum, instead labeling characters as either masculine or feminine. As a youth I had failed to recognize that my already very limited selection of role models were projecting the same stereotypes that initially oppressed the LGBTQ community. The heterosexual gaze of queer media through mediums such as movies and television continue to perpetuate a stereotypical representation of the LGBTQ community in order to generate profit.

Queer media has only recently made it’s way into popular culture. In 2000, Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman broadcasted Queer as Folk, the first hour long American drama television series portraying the lives of gay men and women. The series, originally starting in the United Kingdom a year before, followed five gay men and one lesbian couple in what would be perceived as their everyday lives. Where gay culture had previously been represented as non-sexual, essentially platonic relationships (such as in Will and Grace), the show unapologetically showed gay men having realistic gay sex. It approaches non-traditional types of relationships and sexual activity such as polyamory, public sex, underage sex, prostitution and kink in an attempt to reveal the true sex lives of the gay male community. Many of the actors from the show even came out as gay or bisexual during their acting careers. Along with the unapologetically sexual approach to the show, it succeeded in showing some of the realistic struggles within the queer community, such as drug abuse, unsafe sexual activity, sexually transmitted diseases and the effects of homophobia.

Despite the non-compromising approach to sexual activity, the show is binary as far as it’s portrayal of individual characters. The entire cast appear to be younger, white and affluent with only one minor crew member of color who made a two episode appearance. In this way, the show intentionally fails to depict the diversity of the gay community, adhering to the commercial demands of television by creating an image only suitable for a majorly affluent white audience.


The Queer Representation in Film and Television article from MediaSmarts concludes that the profit-motivation relationship in television “relies on generating long term advertising money for investors, which means that networks and advertisers are generally looking for programs with as wide appeal as possible. This model may be the greatest hurdle to any minority group gaining widespread and fair exposure on television.” Because of this, Queer as Folk had to limit it’s spectrum in order to gain a larger audience, otherwise threatening to become too controversial to grow in popularity.

Most of the characters in the show are depicted through definitive gender roles, correlating ideas of power in relationship with masculinity, and making the major function of more femininely portrayed characters as sexual objects. While the original audience of the show was intended to be for queer men, it eventually relied on an even larger audience, heterosexual married women. The show gained popularity by focusing primarily on the sexual behavior of the male characters, confining their identities and limiting the complexity in character development which are usually present in shows starring heterosexual characters. In this way, the sexually defined identities of the characters continues to affirm the stigma relating to promiscuity and recklessness which drives more subtle, underlying homophobia. In contrast, the lesbian couple are limited in the expression of sexual behavior toward one another, usually shown in a non-romantic light and eventually relying on one of the more “masculine” gay characters as a sperm donor. In this contrast of masculine versus feminine, masculinity is defined as power and success where femininity represents submissiveness and lack of influence within the community.

The critically acclaimed film Brokeback Mountain, released in 2005 and based off of the short story by Annie Proulx, also correlates masculinity with importance or power in the context of relationships. Brokeback Mountain follows the story of two young western cowboys who are hired by a contractor to work herding sheep together in the mountains of Wyoming, where they find sexual intimacy with one another. Neither men had previous homosexual relationships before meeting one another, and due to the timing of their relationship being from 1963 to 1983 could not pursue a future together as it would have been socially unacceptable to do so.

Although the movie is about the story of the two men together, it most closely follows Ennis, who is portrayed as the more masculine of the two characters. Displayed on the movie cover, he is placed in front of Jack. Both men are played by well known straight white actors Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall, who are popular sexual figures in the film industry.


There are many differences in portrayal of the character development and the relationship of the men between the short story and film adaptation. Jack is represented as the more effeminate of the two men and also the instigator of the initial sexual activity in the film. This character has been interpreted in conservative eyes as the perverse homosexual who taints an otherwise heterosexual man. This idea is exemplified in the initial sex scene, where Jack seems to aggressively pressure Ennis into engaging in sexual activity. Ennis is portrayed as giving in on the basis of sexual need, even then engaging in a non-intimate way and claiming the next day that it was only a one time deal. However, when the men did continue to give in to their desires, the film misrepresents the joy of the men’s relationship by using what seems like a biblical reference of a bloodied lamb after a thunderstorm to represent shame for their continued activities. The short story adaptation left this scene out and instead empathized empowerment with their continued intimacy.

After spending nearly twenty years apart, both men agree to go back to “Brokeback”, the only term referred to throughout the movie as a symbol of freedom from the social constructs that confine them to the conservative Wyoming lifestyle, and is one of the only long term emotional states of being they shared together. During this last encounter, they engage in an argument represented differently in the film adaptation than the short story. In Christian Draz’ critique on Brokeback Mountain, he addresses the difference in conflict between the versions,

“In the story, when Jack cries out in frustration, “I wish I knew how to quit you,” Ennis mutely, shockingly, collapses to his knees, his legs buckling beneath the unbearable weight of the thought that Jack might actually leave him. In the movie, however, Ennis howls, “Then why don’t you?! Why don’t you let me be? It’s because of you, Jack, that I’m like this. I’m nothin’. I’m nowhere.” These words are wrong in so many ways! This self-pitying outburst from the man who has always gotten by on next to nothing? Whose motto has been, “if you can’t fix it, you got a stand it”? … This refutes their mutual hunger, turns Jack into a predator, Ennis into a victim, and their passion into a kind of prison. Worse still, it dangerously suggests that one man can turn another man into a homosexual, literally queering his hope for heterosexual happiness.”

The film creates the opposite effect of the short story meaning by correlating tragedy to giving in to homosexual desires, leaving what could be a normal life behind. Ennis, the more masculinized character, is exempt in part from the critique received by conservative reviewers because he is viewed as having been coerced into sexuality on the part of the more effeminate, queer man. Homosexuality then creates a representation in popular media of imprisonment and failure that can be avoided. While the original short story by Annie Proulx is not represented in popular media, the positive messages on empowerment she meant to present to society were lost in it’s film adaptation which visualized homosexuality as a lifestyle filled with sorrow and shame.

Perceptions of gender roles relating to power are affirmed even in shows such as Ru-Paul’s Drag Race, which are intended to provide a more diverse perspective on aspects under-represented in popular culture within the queer community such as gender identity, sexuality, size, class, race and ethnicity. The activist, actor and drag artist Ru-Paul hosts the reality television show starring drag queens as contestants. These contestants are carefully picked with the intention of having a diverse cast with queens of each status competing in each season. In the show, queens have to use their drag skills to endure challenges in which they prove their drag abilities to Ru-Paul among several other celebrity judges.

The show itself was intended for a queer audience, as it showed on LogoTV, however it also tended to have a large heterosexual female audience as well. The contestants were judged through a gender conforming lens not uncommon in fashion shows such as America’s Next Top Model, which reinforce ideas of external beauty as the only way to be successful as a femininely identified person. When queens did not fit into these particular qualities of what Ru-Paul viewed as ideal drag, they were not able to succeed in the show. Those who express their drag performance in a way which challenges the oppressive standards originally set for women are thus viewed as offensive and shunned from their community. One example is the drag queen Milk, who often times creatively questioned ideas of masculinity and femininity through her performances. After Milk chose Ru-Paul out of drag as the selection of her favorite Ru-Paul costume, she immediately ended up losing the competition. Some other criticisms of the show question whether RuPaul tends to disregards comedic or campy queens, singularly focusing on fashion as her standard for success.


Despite the nature of the show intending to be a form of activism which spreads awareness and eliminates binary thinking, there has been much controversy after a mini-challenge on the show titled “Female or She-male,” where contestants were asked to identify whether a photo showed a cisgender woman or a former contestant (drag queen) after viewing cropped portions of photos. This has major implications against gender variant and transgender individuals as well as continuing to perpetuate negative stereotypes for drag queens.

While Ru-Paul’s Drag Race plays an influential role in challenging the expression of the LGBTQ community in mainstream media, RuPaul uses derogatory terms and binary ways of talking about the community in order to utilize humor or entertainment and gain popular view. Ru utilizes popular culture figures as judges to rate queens in order to gain popularity and viewers from the non-LGBTQ community which served as a bridge between many different cultures. However, this conformity to the demands of heterosexual media continues to perpetuate stereotypical representations of gender identity and sexuality throughout the queer community.

Because the commercial demands of television still majorly adhere to the heterosexual white community, queer media has to censor its portrayal of the queer community to fit the binary lens which maintains the power status. By limiting the exposure of controversial messages realistic in the queer community, those who fit outside of the popularized images feel pressured to conform in order to feel accepted. Although the increased popular queer media has created a bridge in awareness regarding parts of the community, it still affirms and approves of oppressive notions which keep these same communities in the closet. If queer media were to discard the heterosexual lens which limits us to binary terms, it would lead to empowerment and the deterioration of the invisible barriers which oppress the LGBTQ population.


Works Cited

Bayly, Michael J. “The Wild Reed.” Weblog post. : Christian Draz’s Critique of “Brokeback Mountain” N.p., n.d. Web. 25 May 2015.

Jenkins, Sarah Tucker. “Hegemonic “Realness”? An Intersectional Feminist Analysis of RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Thesis. The Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, 2013. (n.d.): n. pag. Hegemonic “Realness”? An Intersectional Feminist Analysis of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Web. 25 May 2015.

“Queer Representation in Film and Television.” Queer Representation in Film and Television. MediaSmarts, n.d. Web. 25 May 2015

Brokeback Mountain Movie Cover. Digital image. Ia.media-imdb.com. N.p., n.d. Web.
Garcia, Luis-Manuel. Loren Granic, Gregory Alexander of A Club Called Rhonda. Digital image. An Alternate History of Sexuality in Club Culture. N.p., 28 Jan. 2014. Web.
Milk as Rupaul. Digital image. Businessnewsdaily.com. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/images/i/000/005/629/i02/milk-as-rupaul.png?1396618317&gt;.
Queer as Folk. Digital image. Frontiers Media. N.p., n.d. Web. <https://www.frontiersmedia.com/Pics/Features/11895_queer_as_folk_01.jpg&gt;.
Trainspotting Movie Quote. Digital image. Imoviequotes.com. N.p., n.d. Web.