The Blonde Woman in Popular Culture

My research was focused on how blondes are portrayed in popular culture, but I specifically looked at movies. In order to research this topic I chose to watch three films. The first film was House Bunny starring Anna Faris. The second film was Legally Blonde with Reese Witherspoon. The last movie was Gentlemen Prefer Blondes starring Marilyn Monroe. I decided on these three movie because it gave me some variety in time periods. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was filmed in 1953, while the other two were filmed in the 2000’s, but 8 years apart. I found that in popular media, blonde haired women are continuously shown as oversexualized and unintelligent.

House Bunny is the most recent film out of the three. Anna Faris’ Character Shelley is a well-known playboy bunny. The movie starts out very sexual already with her life in the playboy mansion with many other beautiful women. Throughout the movie it seems that the only clothing that Shelley owns look like clothes that would fit on a Barbie doll. From the very beginning Shelley is obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed. In fact, the cover of the movie says it all. A close-up of her perfect face, but she looks vacuous and confused.


Throughout the plot of the movie, Shelley finds herself the new sorority mother of the ‘weird’ girls on campus. Though she remains the same airheaded beauty throughout the film, she is looked to by the girls for advice on how to get attention from men. Shelley is the classic example of a highly sexualized blonde bimbo.

A female critic, Ruth Hessey, wrote a review on the film. While pretty harsh, her review, in my opinion, is fair. She writes, “It takes sexism to a new low, and it manages to attack women in the last place on earth where they continue to outperform men — in universities.” She goes on to pull a couple things out from the movie to write about specifically. One being when Shelley stated that men don’t like girls who are too smart. It’s obvious the movie is trying to be ironic, but this critic didn’t find too much humor in it. She was disappointed in the writers of this movie, who were also the writers for Legally Blonde, and are both women. She even went as far to write, “..this film may as well have been cooked up by the Taliban as far as I’m concerned.” While this is a bit extreme, I am also disappointed in the writers. The two women who wrote these movies used their power propel the stereotype of blonde women even further, and do even more damage to women in general.

This movie tells an audience that all women care about is trying to get men. Also, that women should care primarily about how they are outwardly perceived. Even more so, that blonde women are the epitome of all of this. Throughout the film the girls are taking advice and getting makeovers to get boys to like them. These makeovers and advice all come from the sexy blonde one, Shelley. Before the girls get their makeovers they all look depressed and the house looks plain and dirty. After, they are happier and the house is a more pleasant place to be. This gives us the idea that women need to be pretty and wanted by men to be happy.

My next film, Legally Blonde, portrays their blonde character slightly different. The fact that this movie did reference the stereotype surprised me. A couple times. Elle was well aware that she was being underestimated because of her looks, blonde hair being the major player there. And while she struggled throughout the movie on proving her intelligence, she did at the end. Kind of.. She won a case because of her extensive knowledge on beauty routines. Which was a win for her, and was portrayed as a positive thing, but didn’t really convince me she was actually smart enough to be going to Harvard. And if Elle had not stumbled upon the error in her witness’ story, due to her knowledge of hair-care, she would have not succeeded. Like the last movie, this movie also has a cover that I’d like to point out.


This cover is definitely less obvious than the last, but this one still has components that catch my attention. Besides the obvious use of photoshop here, the main one that captures my attention is that Elle Woods is head to toe in pink. The classic girly-girl color. Not only is she in all pink, but she also has a stereotypical, tiny dog that is also dressed in pink. The last component that catches my eye is the background. The people in it are the ‘smart’ones that go to Harvard and Judge Elle based on her looks. In this film, the difference in the appearance and wardrobe of Elle compared to the rest of the law students is heavily exaggerated. While Elle is constantly in designer clothes and has her hair perfectly primped everywhere she goes, her Harvard colleagues dress in plaid and neutral colors. All the while these colleagues shame and underestimate her, specifically.

While this film may come off as a movie about a ‘smart’ blonde, at the very root, Elle Woods is just another ditzy blonde who attracts attention with her looks. In my research I found a review of the movie Legally Blonde from an author that hosts his own website and has many other movie reviews as well. From my brief research, the author, Roger Ebert, seemed pretty prestigious in the critic world. Throughout this review he praises the film. He calls the film “a featherweight comedy balanced between silliness and charm.” He briefly addresses the dumb blonde stereotype when he writes, “Despite the title and the implications in the ads, this is a movie about smart blonds, not dumb ones..” He goes on to commend the character for winning the murder trial through her extensive knowledge of hair care. On the surface of this film it does seem as though Elle Woods was over-coming the stereotype by going to school. Now if this man was a blonde woman watching this movie more critically, like me, perhaps he would’ve noted the extremely exaggerated girly-ness of Elle woods, in addition to her over-sexualization, and the fact that she really wasn’t that smart in this movie. The board of admissions for Harvard was persuaded to accept her, even though she was not qualified, after they watched her admissions video, which was her in a bikini. Watching her try to question a witness was painful as she had no idea what she was doing. While this movie differs slightly in the way that Elle is portrayed, that sexy dumb blonde is still there.

Elle’s experience reminded me of some of my own experiences throughout school. While I can contribute most of the experiences I’ve had to being a woman, like the objectification and perceived inferiority, the experiences I’ve had in this field remained mostly in my younger years. Throughout middle school and high school people loved to bring up this stereotype! I was literally called the ‘dumb blonde of the group’ with my middle school friends. At the time it didn’t bother me too much, but as it continued through high school I grew to hate it. To me, it isn’t cool to be stupid and it isn’t ‘cute’ to be an air-head. But I do still hear jokes about it because I work at Starbucks and we have a roast of coffee that is light, it’s called a ‘blonde roast’. You all wouldn’t believe the jokes I get when people ask for ‘a tall blonde’. As I am also pretty tall. It really is painful for me to fake laugh at the trivial joke every time. Much like it is difficult for me to find these air-headed characters charming.

My third movie, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, stars the very famous Marilyn Monroe along with Jane Russel. Jane’s character comes off as strong and witty, often rolling her eyes, with a sexy deep voice. Marilyn’s character is portrayed as money loving. Throughout the movie Jane’s character makes witty joke at the expense of Marilyn’s character, usually without backlash or any sort of acknowledgment from Marilyn. This seems to be because Marilyn does not understand that she is being made fun of, it just goes over her head. While both women are highly sexualized in this film, Marilyn’s character is the only one that comes across as ditzy and immature. Not to mention the title alone speaks wonders.

Throughout my research on this film, I learned that there was first a book written by Anita Loos in 1925. I learned this from an article written by Cristen Conger, on the blog, “Stuff Mom Never Told You”. This brought on the popular term ‘dumb blonde’. The part that interested me the most about this book, is that there is a sequel that was not made into a movie. The second book was titled, “But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes”. This detail shocked me because it seems so cruel on both ends. So blondes get the preference, but not the ring. Brunettes get the ring, but aren’t as preferred as a blonde. It’s pretty harsh really.

One of the details that interested me was how Marilyn’s character came off as immature. The wide-eyed, naïve girl can be more simply put as immature. Especially with the addition of how much she loves money and material possessions. I also found the physical differences between the two characters to be interesting. While Marilyn is blonde, she is also very air-headed and her voice is much higher. Jane’s character had a darker look. Her hair was much darker and her overall appearance just came across as darker. But the most interesting part to me was her voice. Her voice, while talking and singing, was much deeper. While remaining sexy, this gave her a more mature persona.


I also wanted to share an interesting side note about what I found in the results of my google search “Dumb blonde stereotype research”. I came across many papers that were scientific ‘disproving’ the stereotype that blondes are less intelligent. Many papers that explained that hair color has no effect on one’s intelligence. This blew my mind! I had no idea this stereotype was taken so seriously or that people thought this was real. Maybe because I am blonde, but I can’t believe people actually think that hair color affects intelligence level. But, it would be consistent with the way many other stereotypes are perceived that causes people to be believe other races or gender are ‘inferior’.

Underestimated abilities and exaggerated sexuality have been a common theme for blonde women throughout many years in popular culture. As long as movies have been produced, the ‘dumb blonde’ has been a popular character, though they are not always the main character. My research has lead me to the conclusion that our beloved sexy blonde bimbo will not be leaving our screens anytime soon.

As for my two significant learning moments, my first was in the first week of the course. I thoroughly enjoyed “The Evolution of the Doltish Dad” article. Aside from enjoying reading the article, I was completely shocked at this stereotype/depiction I was not aware of. Throughout my education I have learned a lot of about stereotypes and negative depictions of other races and females, but never one like this.  This was a great article to remind us that harmful stereotypes can be about anyone, even white males. My second significant learning moment was in week six when we did the revision workshop. I read about the reverse outline and transitions and I was shocked these weren’t techniques I had learned in writing courses. Both of these strategies really helped me with my writing and I’m sure I won’t soon forget them.

Work Cited

Ebert, Roger. “Legally Blonde Movie Review & Film Summary.” N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Aug. 2015.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes [Motion picture]. (1953). 20th Century Fox Film Corp.

The House Bunny [Motion picture]. (2008). Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Hessey, Ruth. “The House Bunny.” Radio National. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Aug. 2015.

“History’s Original Dumb Blonde.” Stuff Mom Never Told You. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Aug. 2015.

Legally blonde [Motion picture]. (2001). MGM Home Entertainment.







We both have one knee. Can I get down on mine as well?

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 4.42.22 PM

myself in 2008, and myself in 2015.

In 2008, I was 13. It was middle school, and we were required to begin studying a second language. Being the “take the easy road” girl that I was, the rumor was Latin was the easiest to get an A in. So I took it. It was there my feelings for boys developed; they began to turn from innocence into desire. In the class, our teacher made us read the story of Cupid and Psyche. Cupid, the son of the goddess of love, was sent down from his mother Aphrodite to make the beautiful Psyche fall in love with a horrendous creature. Aphrodite was jealous of Psyche, due to the rumor that this mortal Psyche was more beautiful than Aphrodite. Cupid had the ability to fling his arrow at anyone and make them fall in love with whomever he chooses. The story varies, but Cupid took another path. Some say he fell in love with her beauty at first sight, others say his own arrow struck him. Nevertheless, he fell in love with her, and soon began their love affair.

Cupid always hid from her, staying the in the darkness and never letting her see who he truly was; a god. He had convinced her marry him and stay in his palace with him, filled with endless riches that Psyche could not ignore. However, when they met at night, she could never see his face but could feel his physique, and ultimately fell right back in love with him. One curious night, she decided she could no longer go without seeing her husband’s face. As she held the candle over his face, discovering his identity as Cupid, a drip of wax fell onto his body and he awoke, fleeing from her, dismayed from her lack of trust.

Psyche was heartbroken. She set herself off on a long journey, always searching for him for many years. She came across his mother and in desperation for her love, begged for him. Aphrodite made her go on treacherous journeys, including a trip into the underworld, which most mortals didn’t make it out of. Because of her passion and strength of love for Cupid, she prevailed. Cupid eventually found out about her journeys and realized that she truly did love him, ultimately ending up together.

psyche cupid and psyche

The story varies, since it’s ancient and has been passed down for centuries. Different cultures have different takes. I remember the story as a mortal woman fighting through difficult obstacles just to prove her love. It had an impact on me, enlightening me on the idea that a woman can be the one to fight for the person she loves, versus the popular view of the opposite. In popular culture, men tend to be the ones making a grand gesture, but lately it’s been changing, despite being a very old-fashioned idea. Some the recent films, such as Fever Pitch (2005), Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and Trainwreck (2015) all include female leads that create either grand gestures or scenarios to prove the strength of love for their men, supporting the notion that women can be equally as romantic.

fever pitch

Lead characters Lindsay Meeks and Ben Wrightman, played by Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon, respectively.

In Fever Pitch, the lead character (played by Drew Barrymore) is a successful workaholic executive named Lindsay Meeks. Her love interest, (played by Jimmy Fallon) is a schoolteacher named Ben Wrightman. The story unfolds as this powerful, successful woman falls in love with a great guy with an immature attachment to the Boston Red Sox. The film shows how sweet Ben is, despite the humorous immaturity he has when it comes to anything about the Red Sox. Lindsay acknowledges the sweetness, but starts to lose interest once it severely interferes with how Ben places Lindsay when it came to importance. She ends the relationship over it, and both fall into the typical romantic-comedy depression break-up. (Every romantic-comedy has it).

However, at the end of the film, she discovers that Ben may be giving up his Red Sox tickets due to his loss of love for them. Lindsay understands the importance to him, and runs across the field in the middle of a playoff game just to stop him from handing the tickets over. It’s a comical scene, with security officers chasing her and bumping into one another. When she reaches him, she explains how she knows how much the Red Sox mean to him and persuades him not to sell it because she loves him too much to let him do that.

The entire film shows Lindsay as a serious woman who falls in love with Ben due to his personality being so different from hers. In the end, she creates this grand gesture to prove to the audience that she changed, and also showing that women can be the ones to prove their love to a man.


Lead characters Tiffany Maxwell and Pat Solitano, played by Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper

Silver Linings Playbook was highly viewed as one of the best films of 2012. The lead actress, Jennifer Lawrence, received an Oscar for her performance as Tiffany Maxwell, a young, neurotic widow. Maxwell meets and falls in love with Pat Solitano (played by Bradley Cooper), and throughout the film share an interesting dynamic of love due to both having mental illnesses. The film gives the audience hints of Tiffany’s love for Pat, including her showing up surprisingly on his runs, the way she looks and him when they dance, and how upset she gets when she hears about his ex-wife.

Throughout the film, Pat is desperately trying to reach out to his ex-wife, craving a deep love connection. At one point, he asks Tiffany to deliver a letter he wrote to his ex-wife, and Tiffany obliges. She gives him back a letter he thinks his ex-wife has written, only to later find out that Tiffany was the one who wrote the letter. This is her grand gesture, but it’s small and goes unnoticed. She is proving her love to him by not hurting his feelings, knowing that his ex-wife did not want to hear from him at all. So, she faked the letter, but by writing it in a way where the ex-wife was kind but clear that she did not want to see him. Pat realizes this, realizes that he too is in love with Tiffany and kisses her after she runs off from seeing him speaking to his ex-wife.

Although the gesture is small and goes unnoticed due the final scene being Pat running after Tiffany, it was her persistence that made him realize the truth. This shows that the gesture doesn’t need to be grand, but can still be given by a female.


Lead characters Aaron and Amy, played by Bill Hader and Amy Schumer respectively.

Trainwreck was released this July, opening to rave reviews and applause to comedian Amy Schumer’s writing and acting. The story of Trainwreck is loosely based on Schumer’s life, with the title character of Amy being a successful, independent writer who doesn’t believe in monogamy. After an interview for the magazine she works for, she meets Aaron Conners, a sports doctor she ultimately falls in love with. He convinces her to be in a relationship, and throughout the film he is dedicated and supportive of her. After a fight, they break up and both go through the depression of loss. (like I said, typical romantic-comedy).

Due to this movie being very new, there is no clip of the ending scene that I describe below. However, I found the clip where Aaron convinces Amy to be together.

In the final scene, Amy set up the New York Knicks dancers to choreograph a number for Aaron after a Knicks game. It’s absolutely hilarious, but goes to show her strength of affection for him. This is her grand gesture, because despite how she felt most of her life, she loved him and did something spectacular to prove her faithfulness.


In popular films, such as The Notebook, it has become an idea that men are the ones who make the grand gestures.

Female leads in film are becoming more of the romantics, and so are females in our society today. Although it’s an idea that goes centuries back, men are still perceived as the ones making the grand gestures, providing all of the romance. These films reject that idea, and all are recent within these past 10 years, proving that an old-fashioned perspective can be changed within popular culture and time. In the article “The Psychology Behind Love and Romance”, the author Darice Britt describes love as a two people who are partners, and not one leader and one follower. That’s how romance is, she claims and it’s not just one romantic person and the other is not. So perhaps, it’s not that women can be just as romantic as men. Chances are, in a working, loving relationship, both people are equally as romantic to one another.

Perhaps in Popular Culture, it’s not that women are becoming more of the romantics. With this analysis, dating back to ancient Greek tales, women were always romantic. Although many films show the men as the “romantic” ones, women are becoming more prominent. Romantics are dreamers, they’re artistic and poetic. They are not a gender. So perhaps I too, can get down one knee as well.

Works Cited

Britt, Darice. “The Psychology Behind Love and Romance.” South University, May 2013. Web. 13 Aug. 2015. <;.

Fever Pitch. Dir. The Farelly Brothers. Perf. Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon. 20th Century Fox, 2005. DVD.

Gill, N.S. “Myths and Legends – The Tale of Cupid and Psyche.” About Education., n.d. Web. 30 July 2015. <;.

Silver Linings Playbook. Dir. David O. Russell. Perf. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. The Weinstein Company, 2012. DVD.

Trainwreck. Dir. Judd Apatow. Perf. Amy Schumer and Bill Hader. Universal, 2015. Film.


Shrinking the Persona of the Shrink



Images of psychotherapists in popular media span a vast range of archetypes, some are cold and clinical, others are compassionate or wise, or even evil, depending on the needs of the larger story. These characters can be hapless buffoons or destructive mad scientists, but in truth their main purpose in a story is almost always to support the character development of others.

It is difficult to pinpoint a consistent stereotypical psychotherapist in popular media, but we can identify a few common themes. These themes show up as polarizations within the characters. The most common division I see is the polarity of the cold, clinical psychoanalyst and the warm, friendly and supportive therapist. We can see an example of the clinical type in the prison psychiatrist, Dr. Silberman, in The Terminator movies. In The Terminator series, the protagonist in this story, Sarah Connor, is the mother of a future military leader who is destined to play a key part in a battle between humanity and an army of robots equipped with artificial intelligence that have turned on their creators and attempt to exterminate humanity. Sarah is made aware of her special role by a soldier in her son’s army who has travelled back in time to protect her from a robotic Terminator (also from the future) sent back to kill her. As a result, Sarah has embarked on a personal mission to prepare her son, John, for his destiny, while also doing anything she can to avert the coming battle. Her attempt to destroy the company that will ultimately develop the deadly robotic technology lands her in a maximum security mental asylum. Dr. Silberman is cynical and dismissive of her story, although he thinks it is creative enough to warrant a book, which would advance his career. A letter appearing in The Psychiatrist discusses the negative view of psychiatry offered in the movie Terminator 2 – Judgement Day, also pointing out how the Terminator robot itself embodies the qualities of coldness and lack of understanding of emotional processes (Sheldon, L. 1992). I feel that Dr. Silberman is also made to represent the force of doubt. His doubt in Sarah’s story echoes the people in our lives who doubt our dreams…the voices of reason that keep us trapped in the mundane expectations of the world. Like Dr. Silberman however, these voices of doubt speak not out of concern for us, but rather out of self-interest. People around us benefit when we ignore our sense of destiny (or at least they think they do), and will generally do everything in their power to hold us down if our ambitions take us to a place that is unfamiliar and frightening to them.

Contrast this cold, clinical stereotype with the character of Dr. Maguire in the movie Good Will Hunting. In this story Will, a Boston laborer who is also an unrecognized genius, works as a janitor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and anonymously solves a difficult mathematics problem posted on a public chalkboard. Eventually he is discovered by a professor at the Institute, but Will is also in trouble with the law and does not appear to be moving his life in a positive direction. The professor arranges for his release from jail and sends him to a psychotherapist named Dr. Maguire, who is eventually able to open up the highly sarcastic and defensive Will by revealing some of the demons of the Doctor’s own past. Prior to meeting Dr. Maguire, Will has managed to offend and frustrate several therapists, sabotage several job interviews arranged by the professor, as well as a promising romantic relationship. Dr. Maguire helps Will discover what is important to him, and find to the courage to pursue the relationship he was pushing away. Where Dr. Silberman is continually thwarting Sarah Connor’s efforts at self-actualization (once promising to have her transferred to a minimum security facility if she behaves, then reneging on the promise), Dr. Maguire is continually leading Will into more empowerment until eventually Will is able to leave both his blue collar friends and the professor behind in order to make his own way in life.


Good Will Hunting: Dr Maguire and Will

Another contrast could be found in the competence of the two doctors. Where Dr. Silberman is bureaucratic, small-minded, focused on personal career ambition and unable to grasp his patient’s reality, Dr. Maguire is wise, compassionate, rich with life experience and willing to walk the same journey as his patients. It is interesting to note that the cold, clinical approach to psychiatry was the hallmark of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, whereas the warm and emotionally supportive method was developed much more recently by Carl Rogers who founded the much more popular school of humanistic psychology.


Having learned in class to determine the intended audience of a work, I can see how Dr. Silberman speaks to an audience distrustful of psychotherapists and the clinical, Freudian approach in general, whereas Dr. Maguire is speaking to the part of the audience still open to receiving help, an audience that still has hope for the humanity of the psychiatric profession.

Another polarity seen in popular images of psychologists touches on the issue of morality. In the television series The Sopranos, mafia boss Tony Soprano begins seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi. Dr. Melfi is in many ways a more realistic portrayal of a typical psychotherapist than any I have discussed so far. She is continually concerned about the ethical lines she might cross in her relationship with Soprano, often turning to a colleague for advice and perspective, and agonizing over the small breaches of ethical protocol she inevitably finds herself committing. In contrast to this, we find Dr. Vogel in the Showtime series Dexter. Dexter (the title character) is a psychopath who works as a forensic expert for the Miami police department. He relieves his compulsion to kill by following “The Code” handed down to him by his father, who was a police officer. The Code requires Dexter to only kill other serial killers who have escaped justice and will clearly kill again, thus making his condition serve the public good. In the final season we meet a psychiatrist named Dr. Evelyn Vogel. We then learn that Dr. Vogel was approached by Dexter’s father when Dexter’s psychopathy began to manifest as a child, and that it was Dr. Vogel who created “The Code”.

Dexter Vogel

Dexter: Dr Vogel and Dexter

Dr. Vogel is decisive, confident and willing to gamble with not only the mental health, but the very lives of others, in order to manifest her vision. We see in Dr. Vogel not a therapist, but rather a sort of psychiatric mad scientist. It speaks to a very cynical view of the Psychiatric profession.

In class I was taught to identify the purpose of a media presentation, and I think the purpose of Dr. Vogel’s character is to highlight the moral dilemma that Dexter embodies by showing his creator, a cold, but still sympathetic character who pays the ultimate price for her gamble in the end as she is murdered by one of her patients. Dr. Vogel jolts us out of an assumption that psychologists and psychiatrists follow a strict code of ethics, and in this case it is revealed that Dr. Vogel has thrown away her own code of conduct in order to give one to Dexter. There is compelling justification given for this course of action however: Dexter is a psychopath, and there was little hope of actually curing him, so given the choice of either committing him to a life of institutionalization or allowing him to kill until he was stopped by the police, Dr. Vogel chose a third option; to channel his condition in a way that served the public good by programming him to kill only other killers. This decision by itself will divide an audience, as some will favor the effectiveness and efficacy of vigilante justice where others will be appalled. To increase the tension even more, we have a long history with Dexter by this point in the series, and know him to be basically kind, likeable and well-intentioned. This clouds our vision and makes us forget that he has also mistakenly killed the wrong man once, and innocents have died in order to protect his secret. We also overlook that he has repeatedly sabotaged police investigations in order to prevent killers from being apprehended so that he could take their lives himself.

That such ethically problematic practices exist in the profession is certainly true, as in the case of psychiatrists assisting in the design of torture interrogation techniques in the Abu Ghraib prison camps holding suspected Iraqi terrorists (Clark 2006), but the greater truth is that psychotherapists receive extensive training in ethics and codes of conduct before they are licensed.

A variation of this analysis is presented by Ronald Pies in his article Psychiatry in the Media: The Vampire, The Fisher King, and the Zaddik where he cites three distinct archetypes embodied by psychotherapists in movies and television. The first archetype, the “Vampire”, corresponds to the evil mad scientist, pointing out that, for instance, the cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lector in the movie Silence of the Lambs was in fact, a psychiatrist, and that his ancestry is later traced back to “…Giuliano Bevisangue, a fearsome twelfth-century figure” pointing out that “The name Bevisangue may be understood as a condensation of the verb bevere (to drink) and sangue (blood)” (Pies, R. 2001).

The second archetype, the “Fisher King”, corresponds somewhat to the warm, supportive Doctor, but is also bound to the “wounded healer” archetype. Dr. Maguire in Good Will Hunting clearly fits this role, drawing on his own unresolved pain from the death of his wife in order to pull Will out of his cynicism and defensiveness, so that he will find the strength to take control of his life. Will eventually sees that neither the professor who wants to use him to further his academic career, nor his blue collar work/drinking buddies can show him what his future holds, and finally leaves town to pursue a relationship with a woman, and give himself a fresh start.

The third archetype, the “Zaddik”, is a reference to the Jewish mystical tradition. Pies says that “the Zaddik or ‘holy man’ mediates between heaven and earth, between God and man” and that he “helps his people break through the ‘blockage’ that ordinarily separates man from God.” In order to accomplish this however, the Zaddik must know and be touched by evil. This is an interesting image because it implies to me that the Zaddik/Psychotherapist must risk becoming a Vampire, but chose instead to become a Fisher King.

With these various and divergent stereotypes, it may seem that there is no common thread connecting the character of the typical psychologist, however if we step back and notice the role they all play in their respective storylines, a pattern begins to emerge. None of the therapists mentioned were main characters, yet they all played crucial parts in developing and revealing the depth of main characters. In private therapy sessions we are able to see into the thoughts and feelings of lead characters, hear about childhood experiences shaping their worldview, and witness their greatest weaknesses. A therapy session provides a tremendously useful setting for character development, and a therapist makes a wonderful foil for a character to emerge and gain definition. In Terminator 2 we see Sarah turn the tables on Dr. Silberman, using him as a hostage in her escape from the prison, wielding the hypodermic needle once used to inject her with antipsychotic meds, now filled with floor cleaner and resting on the good doctor’s neck. Now it is Sarah who will not release the Doctor.


Terminator 2: Dr Silberman and Sarah

In truth, I believe this function mirrors the real-world purpose of psychotherapy in many ways, as we often go into real-world therapy (whether we admit it to ourselves or not) in order to develop our own strength of character and overcome personal weaknesses. We enter therapy because we need better boundaries, or because we find ourselves swallowed up by the storms of life, or because we feel an emptiness or confusion about what we should be doing. In short, we enter therapy because we don’t know who we are, and in the stories of television and cinema we watch a character enter therapy so that we may learn who they are, in a focused and controlled way. I believe this is the proper role of psychotherapy in general – to “get out of the way” and allow a patient’s identity to emerge and achieve greater definition. If, as Aristotle intimated, “art imitates life” then I can see this principle playing out wonderfully in the use of psychotherapists in popular culture.




Clark, Peter A. “Medical ethics at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib: the problem of dual loyalty.” JL Med. & Ethics 34 (2006): 570.

Dexter. Creator James Manos Jr.  Showtime. 2006 – 2013. Television.

Good Will Hunting. Dir. Gus Van Sant. Perf. Robin Williams, Matt Damon. Miramax. 1997. Film

Pies, R. (2001). Psychiatry in the media: The vampire, the fisher king, and the zaddik. Journal of Mundane behavior2(1), 59-66.

Sheldon, L. (1992). Terminator 2—Judgement Day. The Psychiatrist16(5), 311-312.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Dir. James Cameron. Perf. Earl Boen, Linda Hamilton. 1991. Film


Transcending the Gamer stereotype in Popular Culture

Sergio Olmos-Zaragoza


Transcending the Gamer stereotype in Popular Culture

Fat, unhealthy, unhygienic, lacks of friends, recluse, hacker, bullied, male, and living in the basement of his parents are examples of how popular culture portrays gamers. However, most people do not realize that this is far from the truth. The gamer stereotype is a thing of the past. As I began my research, I soon realized that popular culture in one way or another had began to deviate from this stereotype of gamers in the last 20 years. Popular culture began to show that gamers are much more than the stereotype that we think of when we think of gamers.  


Lets start in the nineties with the movie “Hackers”, released in 1995 and it’s about a teenage computer genius, Dade, and his friends who are hackers and the events that unfold when one of the newer hackers hacks a computer and gains access to a computer file that contains information about stolen money.


Then the hackers are accused of  planting a program that would cause a disaster. The movie ends with the hackers clearing their names and actual people stealing money being sent to jail. Now lets jump into how gamers and hackers are connected. In the nineties, there really was no difference to how people thought of  gamers or hackers. They were one and the same back in the nineties and even still sometimes today with the older generations. The movie also tends to reinforce the connection between gamers and hackers as all of the hackers were mostly male teenagers. The movie also portrays hackers as a subculture that the mainstream culture disliked and thought that they were a danger to society. They were seen as criminals that had uncontrolled power through the use of their computers and one of the cops in the movie went as far as calling what they did as “commie bullshit”. All of these portrayals of the hackers fit in well with the gamer stereotype.


The Internet or the cyberworld, which can be seen in the above gif, was shown as a tron like world where the hackers could do anything they wanted to do. The cyberworld was almost like a mini-game that the hackers played while gliding through the cyberworld to gain access to other computer systems. The hackers were not fat, unhealthy, completely male, and everything that popular culture portrayed gamers/hackers as. They transcend all of the stereotypes and were a rebellious group of people that challenged the norms of everyday life to find their niche in the world. The leading female role, Kate or Acid Burn, played by Angelina Jolie, was one of the elite hackers of the group in New York and didn’t follow the norms of girls such as not knowing how to use a computer or play games as she had the highest score in one of the games in the movie.  “Looking for Gender: Gender Roles and Behaviors Among Online Gamers” also points out that 40 % of all gamers are female, showing that the females comprise almost half of all gamers are female and that the stereotype is losing its grip. The study also showed that female gamers were more dedicated to certain games such as MMOs; MMOs are shorthand for MMORPGs which means massive multiplayer online role playing game. It also shows that   females of Everquest 2 had an average playtime of “29.32 hours/week” compared to the average male with “25.03 hours/week”. This shows that the stereotype of gamers being male and playing longer than females is wrong with Kate being an example with her dedication to hacking and her elite status.  “Hackers” was a movie that did not conform to the gamer/hacker stereotypes in its entirety, but created complex characters with more to them just some male gamer in the basement playing games and browsing the cyberworld.



Now lets jump to 2012, when Rocket Jump Studios released the webseries “Video Game High School”. The series was originally released on Freddie Wong’s Youtube channel freddiew and funded through a kickstarter and then later added to other mediums such as Netflix.


The first season follows the character Brain known as BrainD and set in the near future where playing video games is the most competitive sport in the world. BrainD was a unknown FPS player on Field of Fire and gets admitted to Video Game High School an elite school for top video gamers by killing the Law, the most popular player from VGHS and the leader of the varsity team at VGHS on TV. The show is a classic underdog tale mixed in with video games, action, and comedy. This shows transcends the gamer stereotype by making everyone a gamer. Playing video games had become so ingrained into everyday life that it became the culture. The sport of video games became the most competitive sport in the world and the top players were considered celebrities. Gamers were no longer thought to be the fat, unhealthy, stereotype. They were praised by everyone in the world. Not only were video gamers being praised, but people who programed games and designed games also achieved similar status as gamers. Most people think that the idea of video games becoming such a huge sensation is something out of fairytale, but the real world is becoming more and more like “Video Game High School”. The games in the show may be a bit out there as video game graphics haven’t achieved anything close to the realism that VGHS has, but the concept of people making a career out of video games is something that we have seen in the real world. Pewdiepie is the most subscribed Youtube channel of all time and his yearly income is estimated to be in the millions. Pewdiepie’s channel consists of countless video game videos where he records video of himself playing games and overlaying it on top of the game footage. This shows that people in the real world can make a living out of playing video games. The competitive scene is also been increasing over the years. Games such as CS:GO, League of Legends,and Dota 2 are one of the most competitive esports right now, drawing in thousands of people to their streams and competitions. All this shows that “Video Game High School” portrays gamers in a better light by transcending the gamer stereotype of the past and creating new ways to think of gamers.

Overall, the gamer stereotype has been wrong for a long time and has been changing to create a better image of gamers as playing video games has become more and more popular. Female gamers comprise almost half of the gaming community, they don’t spend their time alone in the basement, and they are different like any other group.


Learning Moments

One learning moment I had was when we had to read the article about the doltish dad. It had never occurred to me that fathers could be the way that the article made them out to be. I read that most people in the  comments also agreed that the evolution of the doltish dad is new to them and that’s when I realized how much of the world we fail to perceive because there is just too much out there. I always like the feeling of learning something new and then applying it and with that article I started to think about other TV dads and trying to find out which dad they were. This class has truly opened new doors for me to explore and to learn new things.

Another learning moment I had was during week two and we were learning about advertising. One of the prompts asked about finding an advertising that was “effective and convincing” . I found several Thai commercials that were all about evoking an emotional response. The thing that I learned was how much different commercials are in Thailand than in the U.S. Those Thai commercials were pretty much a short movie with the company name that paid for it at the end with a couple of sentences to tie the commercial with the company. As amazed how much different they were. In the U.S. some commercials are much shorter and have the company brand, logos, and the name shot several times while the Thai commercials had one thing at the end.



Here’s some extra gifs I found amusing.







Works Cited

Hackers. Dir. Iain Softley. By Rafael Moreu. Perf. Jonny Lee Miller, Angelina Jolie, and Fisher

Stevens. MGM/UA Home Video, 1996.

Wong, Freddie, Matthew Arnold, and Brandon Laastch, dirs. Video Game High School. N.d.


Williams, Dmitri, Mia Consalvo, Scott Caplan, and Nick Yee. “Looking for Gender:

Gender Roles and Behaviors Among Online Gamers.” Journal of

Communication: 700-25. Print.

The Occultist in Popular Culture

The Occultist in Popular Culture

Over the past decade the portrayal of the occultist in popular culture has become increasing fashionable. With the popularity of television shows like Supernatural, the Harry Potter series of books and movies, and blockbuster movies like The Conjuring, consumers of mass culture have developed a fantastical image of what an occultist is and does. On the one hand, this image tells us that people who are into the supernatural, the occult, or metaphysics are out of touch with society or socially inept, generally weird and even psychologically unbalanced. On the other hand, these portrayals also encompass people who have fantastical lives full of daring, even scary adventures, and quite possibly possess supernatural powers of their own. This truth that gets lost in the drama or humor of popular images of occultists is that despite these characterizations, the guiding principle behind the occultist’s practice is spiritual progression.

By definition, the occult is esoteric, meaning hidden from view, secret, and specialized for certain people to learn and understand. As such, it is not surprising that popular culture portrayals would be loose in their interpretations of what it means to be an occultist. A common practice for an occultist is “magic”, or what many people would refer to as white magic. While most people who study the supernatural would define what magic is differently, an accepted definition is the use of rituals, language, symbols, and actions which exert power over natural and supernatural elements for the overall purpose of spiritual growth. Many of these practices look familiar such as meditation or somewhat less familiar like certain energetic healing practices or ritualized versions of prayer.

In the popular television show Supernatural we meet Sam and Dean Winchester, brothers who travel the United States hunting down and killing monsters and demons, negotiating and partnering with angels, and saving the masses from death and destruction from a variety of paranormal phenomena. These are hip, rock music loving guys who are good looking, witty, intelligent, and sometimes heroic. They are also tragic characters who sacrifice romantic satisfaction and family life to be the saviors of an unwitting populace.

Supernatural 2

From Left to Right: Dean and Sam Winchester

Although it often looks hopeless, Sam and Dean always seem to pull through achieving outrageous victories in a constant battle between good and evil. To help them in their quest, they are equipped with a super cool 1967 Chevy Impala filled with an arsenal of monster-fighting gear and a sidekick angel. They often work with others who are on the same path called “hunters” with whom they share their knowledge and experience. Make no mistake, these brothers pull off the impossible having even returned from death multiple times.

In reality, occultists are active in pursuing good and subduing evil within themselves and society, but a fancy car and guns that shoot bullets made of salt aren’t required. Instead, the occultist’s work is done through the pursuit of spiritual knowledge; studying either alone or in groups, and fighting the ego and its unhealthy tendencies toward such things as chemical addictions and unchecked anger. Additionally, there are rituals and ceremonies to heal the land after a violent event as well as energetic healing rites that can be performed on people to heal physical and emotional pain.

In a completely different context, spiritually-minded people are often seen as weirdos on the fringe of society gathered together in strange communes weaving flowers through their hair and meditating all day. In “How to be Ultra Spiritual”, JP Sears shines a light on a lot of hypocritical behavior within this community, but in a hilarious way. JP Sears is a well-known Life Coach who uses a lot of spiritual approaches when working with his clientele. When Sears created a Youtube series that parodied what it means to be spiritual, people loved it. Whether or not viewers identified themselves as spiritual wasn’t an issue, because almost everyone had at least met someone who conformed to the caricatures Sears created from stereotypical New Age behavior.

Ultra Spiritual

Courtesy of How to be Ultra Spiritual (funny) – with JP Sears

This set of videos served as a wake-up call for those who are striving for some form of enlightenment, to take an objective view and question their actions and sometimes pretentious attitudes. Certainly there are people in the metaphysical community who fit the “Ultra Spiritual” labels laid out in this series, which makes on-lookers sometimes dismiss their spiritually-minded peers, but there are many others who ardently struggle with meditation, self-reflection and other day-to-day metaphysical practices, all of which take on a more internal stance rather than a search for recognition from others. Parodies such as the one done by Sears are valuable as they serve to illustrate to the spiritual person ways in which they may have fallen into stereotypical external behaviors in favor of actually doing the work.

Next, we have the movie The Conjuring in which we meet a real-life pair of exorcists, Ed and Lorraine Warren, and document a true story from their past. This duo creates a completely different image of occultists from Supernatural or a Youtube parody as they really did live a unique, even bizarre, lifestyle. This married couple are devout Catholics (Ed passed away in 2006), who devoted their lives to educating people on removing and combating demons and ghosts. Lorraine is a powerful clairvoyant who would help Ed in the rites and practices of exorcisms and energetic clearings; the Warrens were even tapped to teach and lecture at universities and church gatherings in the sixties and seventies.


The 2013 film The Conjuring highlights just one of the Warren’s documented experiences, an example of one of the worst cases of demonic possession they ever witnessed. Ed and Lorraine also worked with the Lutz family from the famous story, The Amityville Horror which has been adapted into several movies over recent decades.


The Amithyville Horror House and Lorraine Warren

The Warrens are definitely unique in the world of occultists due to their tendency to be quite outspoken regarding their work. They are also normal, everyday sort of people outside of their work and public image. They had a typical family life raising their daughter Judy. In addition, they had many friends and were popular members of their community.


From Left to Right: Ed and Lorraine Warren

Outside of Lorraine’s psychic abilities, Ed and Lorraine never purported to have or work with any special powers. They worked closely with clergy from the Catholic Church and applied techniques used by the Vatican for centuries. Their tools were more typical items such as holy water, crucifixes, bibles and rosaries. Nevertheless, there is no doubt the Warrens delved into areas outside of the influence of the Catholic Church to learn some of the rites and incantations they employed, even if that meant that they obtained this information from books or more obscure and secretive societies. Also, the Warrens often used technology available to them at the time such as sound recording devices, EMF meters, and video and still-image cameras to document events while working. While they may have been documenting supernatural phenomena, there was nothing supernatural about their equipment.

Ed and Lorraine Warren, and their body of work, are valuable assets to the occult community. They did not water down their work, or what it meant, in order to gain approval from the masses. They knew that they were providing a valuable service to some of the most vulnerable in society, and had no shame or fear of using their tools and talents to this end. They did all of this within well-known and accepted faith, Roman Catholicism, proving that both worlds can work together. Furthermore, they worked through their own difficult emotional times in order to further their own spiritual progression as well as that of their family. The Warrens are an example of the occultist as a productive and upstanding member of society without losing their humility and spiritual compass.

All too often, the sensationalism that accompanies popular cultural representations of the occult feed a perception that any endeavor in this area is akin to Satan worship. This is addressed in Much Ado About Harry: Harry Potter and the Creation of a Moral Panic, by Danielle M. Soulliere. This paper supports the idea that people who are interested in metaphysics, magic, and the occult are often viewed as being nothing more than Satan worshippers who are intent upon the destruction of our society, starting with the children. Because of a lack of knowledge surrounding these concepts, fear seeps in and old ideas reemerge telling people that any foray into the occult leads to moral corruption and a rejection of God and religion.

This could not be any further from the truth, but when a moral panic ensues, there is little that can be done to bridge the gap between those who are panicked and the ones attempting to shed light on the real life and belief system of a metaphysician. There is a dichotomy here that needs to be addressed – If we say that there is darkness and evil in the world, then there necessarily must be a group of people with the education, tools, and willingness to combat it within themselves and humanity as a whole. When other people fall into fear and judgment regarding this work, it hinders the job at hand for those who are carrying it out.

Many people find popular culture portrayals of occultist fascinating and/or entertaining, but this is typically the case when anything appears to be secretive or forbidden. What is more important is what none of these characterizations adequately address, that is the spiritual journey of the occultist. This is the prime goal which a student of metaphysics and the occult is motivated to pursue. Sometimes this can look like a strange and archaic group ritual, but much more often it is simply a mundane session of meditation. However, the simpler and day-to-day aspects of any spiritual practice are rarely of interest for mass media because they are difficult to express, constantly changing, and do not inspire the shock and surprise that a demon hunter does.

Furthermore, all of these popular culture examples serve the larger purpose of spiritual progression by highlighting forms of “service” that working in these arenas of spirituality provide. This type of service can be to others through healing practices, education and brotherhood, or most importantly, turning the healing inward and focusing on individual purpose and progression.

Drama and humor can be cathartic, allowing for a much needed release of psychological, physical, and spiritual energy. Therefore, these popular culture representations of spirituality and the occult serve a valid purpose as long as viewers can keep perspective and remember that reality, and what we do with it, is much more important.


Finally, there have been two learning moments from this term that stick out for me as I defined my identity as an occultist. First, in the activity in which we were to list our identities for our groups to view and comment on, I realized that the identities that matter most to me are the ones that also “push the envelope” and bring up some apprehension or shame for me. I came to see that how popular culture portrayed my identity as an occultist had helped shape these feelings. By accepting the role that these characterizations have toward creating a common understanding and viewing them from a perspective of educational entertainment I become less concerned with how stereotypes might be perpetuated and more appreciative of the accuracy in others. It opens up important conversations.

My second learning moment came during the reading of, “The Urgency of Visual Media in our Post 9/11 World”. What was so striking to me was how much imagery can affect our thoughts and how subtly manipulating it can be. Since popular culture is so heavily visual, the images presented can have an almost instant ability to turn an image into something positive or negative. As in the example of the pentagram, a common occult symbol, many feelings are evoked when it is seen. This drives home the message that it is an extraordinary responsibility in media to use this, and other symbols, in an accurate manner as they have tremendous impact on viewers’ thoughts and feelings.



The Conjuring. Dir. James Wan. Perf. Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga. Warner Brothers, 2013. Film. 

Sears, JP. “How to be Ultra Spiritual”. Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 5 Oct. 2014. 

Soulliere, Danielle M. “Much ado about Harry: Harry Potter and the creation of a moral panic.” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 22.1 (2010): 1-37. 

Supernatural. Prod: Eric Kripke. CWTV. 2005-Present. Television.



Unrealistic Beauty Standards Set for Teenage Females in Films

Christine Nguyen

Films directed at young girls (age 15-22) in high school and college perpetuate the idea that females must constantly adhere to unfair beauty standards in order to achieve or maintain self- satisfaction and self-respect. Gaining the approval of one’s peer puts young girls into a position where they are forced to compete against one another for attention and these films suggest the best approach is compromising one’s values and altering the outer appearance. This puts the focus on the female physique and subsequent popularity rather than other qualities such as intelligence or kindness.

In young audiences, popularity is used as a scale to gauge how well liked and respected an individual is within their student body. The idea of fitting in and being well-liked in school is important to all adolescents, but girls are particularly pressured to maintain an image of perfection. This idea of perfection is a coveted thing and to be the most perfect means to be the most popular and the most powerful. Girls that hold this popular status establish a collective identity and as a united force, they decide who is “cool” enough to be included whereas those who fail to conform to their ideals of cool are readily excluded from the group. Together, they reign as a sort of authority and act as the tastemakers for the younger girls to follow. Popularity is important because it provides an individual with security and the promise of envy from one’s female peers. This also leads females to betray one another to get ahead in status and reject others that stray from the fundamental structures of popularity (Brown, 2005). An aggressive competition is unleashed among young girls and they race toward popularity in order obtain that sense of personal power or leadership, acceptance, as well as social currency (followers, friends).  They create a presence where people are both terrified and jealous of them and subsequently, become paranoid of friends trying to displace them. This type of dark nature is best depicted in the two films, “Mean Girls” and “The House Bunny.”



Figure 1: The authoritative and manipulative Plastics from “Mean Girls”


A course text that resonated with me throughout the term was John Berger’s “Way of Seeing” because he describes advertisements’ pull on prospective consumers. He points out that glamour is dependent on one’s looks and is based off of envy; publicity manipulates us to think that buying into a certain image will enrich or transform one’s life for the better. Thus, publicity invites us into a dream, an intimate goal that we set for ourselves, yet excludes us. In this case, the dream is status and acceptance but can only be enjoyed by a few individuals. And yet, the elite circle of women who seem to have it all, don’t. They are faced with the same pressure to uphold a specific image just as everyone else is.


Figure 2: Cher and Dionne from “Clueless”

            One pattern that I found to be particularly interesting was the seeking of approval from one’s peers; the girls are expected to compete for attention from both their male and female cohorts. This type of social construct requires these young women to base their worth off of others judgements; this competition and reliance on other’s opinions suggest that in order for girls to gain a level of respect or worthiness, they must conform to a certain image. In “Mean Girls”, the popular girls set a dress code, emphasizes the need to constantly lose weight and practice self-hate while gathering around a mirror saying “I hate my calves” or “I’ve got man shoulders”. In “Clueless,” Tai exclaims to her friends, “It’s my hips isn’t it?” when the boy she likes shows disinterest; the first conclusion she comes to is, of course, her body. In “The House Bunny,” Shelley reminds the girls that, “feeling good on the inside starts with looking good on the outside,” which fuels an unhealthy obsession with image in order to be accepted by society.


Figure 3: The girls learn how be beautiful with makeup in “The House Bunny”

This concept of low self-esteem being associated with unrealistic beauty standards perpetuates the acceptance of body dissatisfaction as a normal aspect of life. Women are then encouraged to fix the parts of their body that make them feel most insecure in order to achieve personal happiness. Also, discrimination based off of the female appearance in the workplace establishes the association between one’s body image and level of status. If an adult woman’s weight or outfit can significantly impact their chances of employment, a determinant of success and respect in society, then the importance of image must also be associated to the social status of an adolescent girl in high school or college (YWCA, 2008).

Women physically have the choice to overcome beauty standards but social constructs oppress women psychologically, leading women to constantly alter their appearance in order to please their peers. They are constantly led to believe that something needs to be improved which inevitably leads to body dissatisfaction among young women, where having larger thighs or the inability to afford designer items are viewed as personal failures (Jeffreys, 2005).




Figure 4: The before and after of the makeover in “The House Bunny”

            This is interesting because psychological factors drive the motivation to pursue one’s physical transformation. This need for acceptance and respect from one’s cohorts is largely based off perceived beauty standards that heavily rely on superficial and materialistic values such as clothes, makeup, speech, etc.

Another learning moment for me came from the “The Urgency of Visual Media Literacy in Our Post-9/11 world: Reading Images of Muslim Women in the Print News Media” article from the first week of the term. It noted that women are continuously stripped of their individual traits and marked as a homogenous identity. In the article’s context, women in Islam who wear hijabs are labeled as backward, oppressed, exotic, and even terrorists in the media; the Muslim female identity is much more than a hijab yet we let the few represent the whole. This stereotyping happens to all women across cultures. The mass media influences how we define ours and others’ identities; we praise one identity and vilify the other.

Jeffreys points out that men are the dominant figures in Western culture and the biological differences between the two sexes make the men the “default” which makes women the “other”. Thus, women must act different from the men, creating a gender binary. Women are expected to be delicate, beautiful, and supplementary to the male. With these established gender roles of men being dominant and women being the other, women lose self-control and are put in a position where they must appease another individual or by following the ridiculous perceptions of beauty in order to regain a sense of power, voice, and self-worth.



Berger, J. (2008). Ways of seeing (Vol. 1). Penguin UK.

Beauty At Any Cost. YWCA USA, Aug 2008. Web. 23 Jul. 2015

Brown, L. M. (2005). Girlfighting: Betrayal and rejection among girls. NYU Press.

Jeffreys, S. (2005). Beauty and misogyny: Harmful cultural practices in the West. New York: Routledge.

Watt, D. (2012). The Urgency of Visual Media Literacy in Our Post-9/11 World: Reading Images of Muslim Women in the Print News Media. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 4 (1), 32-43




The Portrayals of Male College Students in Popular Media

Being a male college student, I see a lot of negative misconceptions introduced within Popular Culture outlets such as movies and T.V. shows.  These misconceptions are prevalent in almost every college themed movie these days.  The first movie I want to look at is “22 Jump Street,” a comedy about two undercover cops who infiltrate a college campus in search of an underground crime ring.  Even from this synopsis, one can conclude that some misconceptions will be made throughout this movie.  The idea of having an underground crime ring within the confides of a college campus is very unlikely from my point of view.  Most of the male college students are shown to be brutish tough guys that enjoy partying all the time.  This is a common misconception throughout all of the sources I will mention.  One thing that caught my attention was the section of Art students who appear in the film as mellow, and from my point of view, average college students.  These Art students are never seen going to parties/drinking/using drugs and maybe the producers of this film wanted to throw in a more typical set of students to take attention away from the stereotypical jock party animals.  A review from a popular movie review website called ScreenRant, states that “Jenko finds his place among the school’s frat boy jock elite.”  This relates exactly to my own ideas about movies portraying every college man as a frat boy jock.  The unreasonable outcomes that occur in regards to some of the scenes throughout this movie definitely fends of any sort of realistic beliefs stemming from this movie’s content.  Should movies that consist of these outrageous outcomes be taken seriously in their portrayals of male college students?

Zac Efron as a “Frat Boy Jock” in the movie “Neighbors”

Zac Efron as a “Frat Boy Jock” in the movie “Neighbors”

The next movie that forwards my point about misconceptions of male college students is called “Neighbors.”  This movie is about a college frat house that consistently parties next to the home of a couple with a newborn.  All of the male college students are so called “Party Animals” and have little respect for their surroundings.  There are no calm college students in this movie, which makes it seem as if every male college student acts in this fashion.  This is far from the truth and with the introduction of the newborn child, they take it into account at first, but completely disregard it later.  This makes it seem as if the college students have no compassion for anything besides partying.  A review of this movie from a website called The Wrap, uses terms such as “party monsters” and hints at the use of “beer and blunts.”  The review talks about how the frat boys “throw parties night after night,” which is a highly unlikely turn of events for people with college commitments.  Being a male college student, I know I would not have the time or energy to throw college parties every night.  I do like a certain aspect of this movie review however, that looks at the “interesting relationship…between slacker Teddy and studious Pete.”  One of the students in the frat house is actually worried about life after college, while every other student is only in it for the partying lifestyle.  This shows that some students in college are studious and work hard for what they have while others don’t.

The last movie I want to look at is “The Social Network,” because it gives a more accurate representation of college life (and when I say more accurate, I mean more accurate than the other movies).  “The Social Network” looks at the college life of the founder of Facebook in an attempt to reconstruct the events that happened alongside the creation of a great Popular Culture Outlet.  Some of the students are so called “Jocks” while some are considered to be “nerds.”  Having this diversity is more of a true thing for male college students.  Some male college students put their time towards working well academically while others choose to excel in sports.  This is a very accurate representation of male college students.  One interesting thing I noticed in this movie was the accurate portrayal of how much effort and time one must put in towards college work.  Most of the male students are seen staying up into the late hours of the night just to complete certain tasks.  I find myself working on assignments at all times of the day, which is accurately portrayed in this film.  There are a few out of the ordinary occurrences that happen throughout the film also.  A movie review from a website called PluggedIn shines light on these negative aspects about this movie.  A lot of threats are made from a couple of male students throughout the movie and some even lead to bodily harm and the use of firearms.  I know these things can happen, but from my perspective these threats occurred way more often than I would expect from a typical male college student.  This movie also introduced college parties, just like every other college movie these days.  According to the review, people “light up joints and/or cigarettes during a college party” and “lots of male characters, many underage, down everything from beer…to whiskey.”  This goes along with my idea of crazy college parties with underage drinking and drug use happening all the time.

I had many different learning moments throughout this term.  One of the biggest factors of my learning this term was the course blog posts.  These posts help further my understanding of the course content for each week and allowed for me to go out and think about the subjects instead of just reading them.  By looking at other people’s posts, I was able to see different perspectives regarding certain material and compare it to my thoughts.  These comparisons sometimes even changed my thoughts on the topic and I was able to reply to these people’s posts and tell them how their writing changed my way of thinking.  It was also beneficial having others look over my own posts and comment about what they thought about my ideas.  This system of giving and receiving feedback was very helpful in my understanding of the course content. These blog posts also helped us get ready for this Big Picture Blog Post project. Another significant learning tool in this class was the layout for this Big Picture Blog Post project.  First off, having a group that could provide feedback on every step of the way was a big help to my work.  Having the required group mentor meeting was a good way to make sure I was on track as well as everybody else.  I enjoyed the fact that we were assigned a research analysis worksheet that had us research primary sources for our identities well before the deadline of this project.  The annotated bibliography had us look at our secondary sources, which helped us further analyze our primary sources.

By Austin Viramontes


Kang, Inkoo. “Neighbors Review: Seth Rogen’s Suburbanites vs. Frat Boys Comedy is an Instant Classic.” The Wrap. 7 May 2014. Web. 21 July 2015.

Outlaw, Kofi. “22 Jump Street Review.” ScreenRant. 13 June 2015. Web. 21 July 2015.

“Will you be my friend?” PluggedIn. 1 October 2010. Web. 21 July 2015.

The Fault in ‘Middle Child Syndrome’


Crystal Bates

The Fault in ‘Middle Child Syndrome’

I grew up as the middle child in a family of five, so I certainly displayed some characteristics of what society has dubbed ‘Middle Child Syndrome’. Studies tell us that birth order not only affects, but in a way determines personality. Looking back on TV shows and movies from childhood, many personality traits are repeated over and over again. One of the things commonly seen are sibling tropes, where the characters’ personality if based off of what order they are born in. ‘Middle Child Syndrome’ is a personality trait that has been overemphasized in media, attaching a negative connotation to certain children just because of birth order.

Perhaps one of the most important examples of the portrayal of middle children in popular media is in The Brady Bunch. Jan Brady is seen as the poster child of ‘Middle Child Syndrome’, particularly in the episode titled “Her Sister’s Shadow” ( In a spectacular portrayal of a child stuck in the middle of her sisters, Jan Brady has feelings of inadequacy and invisibility while constantly being compared to her perfect older sister.Untitled

Marcia Brady is the oldest daughter, and so has a tendency of overshadow her younger sister by default. Jan’s feelings are normal for a younger sister, but her attitude about it is portrayed in a way that comes off as annoying and whiny. Jan ultimately finds something to make herself stand out, but many children stuck in the middle of their siblings never do. Instead, they learn to be the peacemaker of the family, and often learn to be too lenient and cooperative when it comes to compromise. They are used to not getting their way, so middle children hardly grow up learning to expect more of themselves.

In shows like 8 Simple Rules and Modern Family, the middle child is a smart, misunderstood girl who wants to be nothing like her boy-crazy, perfect older sister. Kerry Hennessy is a smart, slightly odd artist in 8 Simple Rules, while Alex Dunphy is a scary smart, pessimistic teenager in Modern Family. Both girls feel alienated from the rest of their siblings, and the viewer gets the impression that they cause turmoil in their families. In Modern Family, there is an episode titled, ‘The Long Honeymoon’, where the Dunphys are having a relaxing, perfect summer while Alex is at summer camp. When Alex comes home unexpectedly early, the family is instantly fighting and in horrible moods. This episode is certainly funny, and the way that the siblings fight and interact is pretty close to real siblings, but the way that Alex’s role in the family is portrayed is discouraging. The family dynamic takes a bad turn when the middle child is present. This episode really emphasizes the fact that Alex is grossly misunderstood and almost unliked by her family. This dynamic makes for amusing TV, but I have to wonder about what kind of message an episode like this sends middle children. Alex Dunphy and Kerry Hennessy have very similar characteristics, and display emotions and traits commonly found in middle children in psychological studies of birth order. These traits are emphasized and blown out of proportion for media, causing the girls to be comedic relief, and sometimes the least liked person in the family.

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Incidentally, the middle sibling in TV shows sometimes embodies traits that aren’t necessarily negative, but instead unrealistic. 8 Simple Rules and Modern Family both depict girls who are unfeasibly smarter than the rest of their family. They have higher then normal IQs, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it is an impossible standard for middle children to live up to. If the only redeeming quality about a middle child on a TV show is being extremely smart, how do real children measure up? They don’t. This characteristic does not give middle children a bad name in media it definitely does in real life. In reality, if a middle child does not have something to make them stand out, then they are simply seen as an ordinary child who tends to be overlooked more often than not.

In my own family, I was the quiet kid, the one who didn’t cause any trouble. I would not have been able to relate to the middle children in these TV shows, besides the feelings of being invisible or misunderstood. I was always more sensitive and empathetic than my siblings, and that made me stick out in my family. The problem was that I let myself disappear in my own older sister’s shadow, and there was no one for me to mold myself after. Being the middle child is a hard burden, but it is not always a negative experience. I believe that ‘Middle Child Syndrome’ has become so popular because mainstream media has drawn attention to the negative aspects of it, instead of trying to popularize the idea that being born in the middle can be a positive.

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Personality tests by birth order are common in Individual Psychology, and certain traits are found frequently when studying middle-borns. Middle born children display feelings of rejection, inadequacy, and often times feel they are not worthy of their family’s attention or esteem. This is obviously problematic, especially when studies show that middle born children most influence the family atmosphere due personalities that involve somewhat negative traits. We see these issues in most television shows, and especially in the Brady Bunch, Modern Family, and 8 Simple Rules. Jan, Kerry, and Alex definitely feel unwanted, inadequate, and all together separate from the rest of their siblings.

This seems like a problem without a solution, but Individual Psychology operates under mostly old personality testing, which can be inconclusive. The media has taken these stereotypical personalities and overdone them, while they could be changing them. Some experts suggest that being the middle child actually gives people an advantage in their adult life. Middle born children can become great negotiators and are typically extremely empathetic, which can lead to more success. Only, the media does not portray characters this way. There could be a realistic middle child with a more positive image, but instead television shows and movies tend to stick with the archaic depiction of the unloved middle child. The problem isn’t the child or the family so much as it is the idea of ‘Middle Child Syndrome.’ If middle born children are not expected to act a certain way, and the media displays a middle child that is successful and different from all the rest, then that could become the trend. But instead, children are stuck with images of unloved, unrealistic, negative portrayals of themselves on TV shows.

‘Middle Child Syndrome’ is not the only thing the media gets wrong, but it is definitely an important one. In a world where so many people’s lives revolve around the Internet and television, it’s important that mass media depicts people’s roles in their families and in society accurately. People need to see accurate, or at least positive images of themselves in media in order to want to have those traits in themselves. If people accept this image negative image of the middle child for themselves or their own children, then that’s all they will aspire to be.


Learning Experiences:

Two weeks of Popular Culture stood out to me when thinking of learning experiences that impacted me this term. The first was probably week 1 and 2, when the class was first exploring identities and examining them in media. It was interesting to see how and where other people could see their identities portrayed in mass media, and eye opening to realize how much of our identities were swept under the rug. I remember writing about my family, and how I could not see us portrayed in the media anywhere, and that was a weird feeling. Everything is in the media, so to realize that such a big part of who I was was not in the media around me was a little sad, but also kind of freeing. We aren’t like the stereotypes, and I kind of like that. “The Evolution of the Doltish Dad” article that we read that week also really struck a cord with me. My father is a single dad, so he had to do it all, and the thought that the media basically was telling him and other fathers out there that they could not be that successful dad was hard to accept, because I know otherwise. The article is also an eye opener in terms of the fact that it is hard to be someone who is not represented in popular culture. The writer concludes that when someone cannot see their image reflected in the media, it is essentially like they do not exist. It’s sad to me that the media determines so much of who we allow ourselves to be.

The other week was the week we talked about advertising. That was a really cool discussion for me, because my sister is in advertising and it was interesting to get her opinions on things and discuss them in the class. It was enlightening to see how other classmates viewed things such as ads that were supposed to be empowering, or ads that played off of stereotypes. There were things in the ads that people shared that I hadn’t thought of or realized before, which was an eye opener for me. People view and interpret ads in such different ways, and sometimes it’s hard to take into consideration that things that are funny to you are hurtful to other people, and sometimes we take meaning and empowerment from ads that other people just see as selling a product.

Writing the Big Picture blog post was also an important moment for me, because it really allowed me to see ideas that I never knew I had before. Writing about how people can become so much more than the media tells us we can be struck a nerve with me. I truly believe this, and I did not notice how invisible I let myself become when I was a kid just because I was a middle child and that’s what I was expected to do. I see myself going back to those habits sometimes, and I try to actively pull myself out, and in fact I will continue to do so. Writing about ‘Middle Child Syndrome’ and its portrayal in the media has motivated me to allow myself to be someone the media does not show.



Works Cited


“Her Sister’s Shadow.” The Brady Bunch. ABC. Paramount Television, Los Angeles. 19 Nov. 1971. Television.

“The Long Honeymoon.” Modern Family. ABC. Paramount Television, Los Angeles. 24 Sep. 2014. Television.

Stewart, Alan E., Elizabeth E. Stewart, and Linda F. Campbell. “The Relationship of Psychological Birth Order to the Family Atmosphere and to Personality.” Journal of Individual Psychology 57.4 (2001): 363-88. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 July 2015.

Stewart, Alan E. “Issues in Birth Order Research Methodology: Perspectives from Individual Psychology.” Journal of Individual Psychology 68.1 (2012): 75-106. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 July 2015.

Eckstein, Daniel, Kristen J. Aycock, Phil Ginsburg, Mark A. Sperber, John McDonald, Richard Watts, and Victor Van Wiesner. “A Review of 200 Birth-Order Studies: Lifestyle Characteristics.” Journal of Individual Psychology 66.4 (2010): 408-34. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 July 2015.


The Evolution of Asian and Asian-American Women in the Media

My parents and sister are from Vietnam. They immigrated over to the United States in 1995. While I was born and raised here in Portland. While growing up, I faced stereotypes that are associated with being Asian from not only my classmates and teachers but also from the media. These stereotypes that are set throughout time from the media impact non-Asian people’s thoughts and opinions on Asians and Asian-Americans that set a standard of what Asians and Asian-Americans are suppose to be like such as they are expected to be either speak in broken English or having thick accents, be foreign, and power hungry. But the media also affects on how Asian-Americans see themselves, other Asian-Americans, and white people. There are also stereotypes that are gender specific for Asians and Asian-Americans with men being portrayed as the “devious villain” and women with being the “seductive dragon lady/villianess vamp” or “submissive China dolls/geisha.” I have looked through different popular culture artifacts throughout cinema history and sources that further show that the media reinforces these stereotypes for Asian and Asian-American women but also how these stereotypes were formed and how they have evolved since.

Even in the smallest roles, Asians have been in film since the beginning, in the early 1920s, the media expressed what they thought about Chinese sojourners through film by showing Anti-Asian sentiments by portraying Asians to be foreign, conniving, cunning, and mysterious beings. All of this because white people feared that they would steal their jobs and resources and that Asian men appeared to be an economic threat because they were taking these labor intensive jobs that no one else wanted, which is where the term the “Yellow Peril” originated from. They also appeared to be a sexual threat to white males because they were going to corrupt white females. While Asian women appeared to be equally as conniving, cunning, foreign, but also they were portrayed as exotic and have “oriental mysteries” that will corrupt the innocent morals of white people. Which is where the stereotype Dragon Lady came from. Although there were still laws against interracial marriages, there was still more acceptance for relationships between white males and Asian females than Asian males and white females.

In 1937, when Japan attacked China, the media’s portrayal of Chinese people became more positive by showing them as obedient, hard working, self-sacrificing peasants. Not long after this, in the 1940s, the ban on interracial love scenes in movies were lifted, but the media only focused on relationships between white males and Asian females, with the women rarely getting a happy ending. While Asian males were either pimps or peasants. Some believed that the qualities of an Asian are the reason why Asian women are more accepted by the media and that the stereotypes are more positive for women than men. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, during World War II, this portrayal of Chinese people contained while the portrayal of Japanese soldiers depicted them as lascivious, cold-blooded men. But this portrayal flipped between China and Japan in 1949 when in China, Mao Zhang gained power and the United States became enemies with the 2 leading countries in communism, China and North Korea. While Japan was rebuilding its economy and took in United State’s political ideas which reflected in the media with Japan’s image being more positive. In the 1950s, when U.S. servicemen came back from Japan, they shared tales of their time in Japan about how Japanese women had sexual secrets and how providing they were which is where the submissive “Geisha” came from. This started a new stereotype of Asian women being involved in wars.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Asian women became more of a focus in film as the “Spoils of War.” The media started to picture them as sexual objects that are meant to be captured by white men. Asian wars started to become the setting for many movies. After the Vietnam War, films were being creating with the plot taking place in Vietnam. Vietnam became more of a focus of these films and replacing Chinese/Japanese women. In these films, Vietnamese women were portrayed as either peasants or prostitutes while the men were sneaky, violent, warmongers. Even as time progressed on into the 1990s to the present, many Asians and Asian-Americans have been casted as only background characters rather than the leading roles even if it takes place in a place where the Asians and Asian-Americans are the majority or the whole population.

Fresh Off the Boat is a television sitcom on the ABC network that is based on Eddie Huang’s life and book Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir. In the 90s, when Eddie was 12 years old, his family moved from Washington D.C. To Orlando, Florida to pursue the “American Dream” by opening a “Wild West” themed steak restaurant. As the family tries to settle into their new life, they face many obstacles to try to take in the new culture as well. In this show, Eddie used the term “tiger mom” when he said “Mom was always hard on me way before all that “tiger mom” stuff.” It seems to me that he is implying that she has always been a stereotypical tiger mom, and essentially is the stereotype even before the term was coined because there was never a name for the “type” of mom she was. That statement also supports that one of the characteristic of being a “tiger mom” is being strict toward your child(ren). But even though Eddie’s mom has “tiger mom” characteristics, she still showed Eddie that she cares for him and his feelings by defending him when it came to him being bullied and standing up for himself. Instead of being worried about Eddie’s future and punishing Eddie for causing fights, possibly get suspended and have it on his records that could ruin his record as a “perfect” student, which is what a “tiger mom” would do, she questions why the school did not do anything to defend him, let the fight happen and why they were not questioning the kid that started it all.


From left to right: Eddie’s brothers Emery and Evan, Eddie, Eddie’s mom Jessica, and Eddie’s dad Louis.

I found that through a show like this, the creators take in that people of color will always be misrepresented And having to live through preconceptions based on their race, in addition to working harder to prove themselves, so they fit into society in a more ideal way. Not only did this show make me laugh, it allowed me and many other Asian-Americans to connect with Eddie, despite our different ethnicities, because the show brings up issues that Asian-Americans face in society. This would include, trying to fit in while balancing two different cultures, and facing racism.Throughout the show, I could relate to the moments when Eddie was bullied for being Asian and, as matter of fact, the only Asian in his class. Like when Eddie in the cafeteria when he was taking out the homemade Chinese food his mother made then his classmates were quickly disgusted from the look and smell. I remember bringing in some beef porridge my mother made for me to eat at school and the moment I brought it out to eat, some of my classes called it gross, that it stunk, and looked like mud with rocks and grass in it.

This show is from an Asian-American male’s perspective but still shows how it is shifting society’s views on both Asian-American males and females. Not only through Eddie but also Jessica, his mom, who could have easily been made into a “tiger mom.” But instead, the creators made her into a well-rounded character. Although this show is one person’s story, it still shows people who have little knowledge of Asian-Americans, what Taiwanese and Asian-American culture is like from the perspective a Taiwanese-American, but also on a bigger scale, seeing the struggles that many Asian-Americans go through.


From left to right: Eric (Younger Brother ), Grandma Yung-hee, Margaret, Dr. Stuart Kim (Older brother ), Katharine (Mom), Benny (Dad)

Another sitcom about an Asian-American family that was on the ABC network was All-American Girl. The show was suppose to be based on the “comedy material of Margaret Cho”, “but that was mostly just a gloss” according to Margaret, because she did not get to incorporate her comedy into it. This was the first primetime television show that featured an all Asian-American cast, but failed horribly. This was due to stereotyping its Asian characters, unoriginal plotlines, not having any Korean Americans to be a part of the production crew to put in their thoughts, background. and not allowing Margaret to get involved with the production of the show. It disappointed many Korean Americans who watched the show, because it lacked accurate representation. The characters spoke almost no Korean, despite Margaret’s parents and grandmother being immigrants, and that Margaret was the only actual Korean person while the rest of the cast is of a different Asian descent.

This show was meant to be a representation of Asian-American families, specifically Korean-American families, but it failed to do so because of the stereotyping found in it. The strongest stereotype that can be found in this show, is when Margaret’s mother who is played by Jodi Long, an actress of Japanese and Cantonese descent, and is portrayed as a “tiger mom.” This is seen constantly throughout the show, because she tries to control Margaret’s life by pressuring her to become an obedient submissive woman, so that she can find a husband. But not just any husband, a Korean husband who has a prestigious job and education background. Margaret’s brother is also another stereotype who is played by an actor of Chinese descent and is portrayed as the “nerdy Asian guy who is after a medical degree and sucks up to his parents.” And Margaret, herself, is another stereotype that has not been brought up which is the spunky rebellious girl. She spends most of her time arguing with her mother about Korean traditions while she tries to fit into the rest of society and tries to get her mother to accept that.

Many would think this is what every Asian-American family acts like and looks like. As for timing wise, this was set back in the 1990s and made in the 90s, in contrast to Fresh Off the Boat, which was set in the 1990s, but was made this year. It shows the “humor” of what the non-Korean-American crew had and was thinking what would be appropriate for the show. Many Asian-Americans was see this as over exaggerated as well and that it reinforces the stereotypes found in it. And despite how stereotypical it is, I still found more similarities I had with her because she is also a female. The expectation for a first-generation Asian-American girl was to be obedient and submissive yet be the best in school was all set by my mother.


Top left corner: Mameha, Nobu. Center: Sayuri. Top right: The Chairman, Hatsumoto. Bottom: Young Sayuri/Chiyo.

Memoirs of a Geisha was a movie created by Rob Marshall based on the book, Memoirs of a Geisha, that was written by Arthur Golden. I found although it is more talked about how the movie sexualizes the women and the stereotype of geisha and Japanese women, there is still another stereotype that could be found in this film. Hatsumoto had the characteristics of a “dragon lady”, by seducing men to get what she wants, “playing dirty”by using her power, and behaving cold and distant.

Interactions between Hatsumoto and Chiyo/Sayuri:

I also found that money was attached to everything a geisha does. From her living expenses, to her virginity, to her debt to become a geisha. In the end, it seemed like the who entire goal of the head of the geisha house, is to have their geisha get a danna, or patron, who will pay for everything for the geisha. Which really pushes that Asian women are property and practically objects in this movie/book. Because of that, the movie and book have distorted the reality of who a geisha is, which is a person who acts as a hostess and entertains by performing various Japanese arts. The word geisha, itself, in kanji means art(gei) person/doer(sha). I can relate to how the women get degraded by the Americans by “the mystery of the orient.” I am not a geisha nor of Japanese decent but I do relate to being sexualized because I am of Asian descent.

In conclusion, throughout this term I have learned from the article “Star Types and Stereotypes Maggie Q and Lucy Liu: Asian-Americans as Leading Ladies” by Mike Hale, that roles for Asian and Asian-American women are making a slow but noticeable change, by having more well rounded beings, and having creators pull away from straight-out stereotyping. It could have easily gone down that path like the media has done so in the past with All-American Girl. Along with that, Fresh Off the Boat has been turning around how society looks at Asian-Americans by avoiding stereotyping and taking in consideration of what Asian-Americans think and of Taiwanese culture. What makes it a slow change, is because Hollywood is still casting Asian-Americans to play characters with ethnicities that differ from theirs. In a way, it seems that in the media’s eyes, Producers and directors see Asians still as interchangeable, and they keep using the same actors and actresses over and over again. But that maybe due to these shows and films not giving many aspiring actors and actresses of Asian descent, which would match with their character, a chance to play the part. But I learned through the discussion posts that Asian characters are not the only characters in the media that are played by actors and actresses of a different nationality but of a different race altogether by whitewashing. A solution I found was that 1) Hollywood needs to be pressured to solve this issue and 2) there needs to be more roles that are not a specific ethnicity so that these characters are seen as exactly who they are.

Works Citied

Mok, T. A. (1998). Getting the message: Media images and stereotypes and their effect on asian americans. Cultural Diversity and Mental Health, 4(3). July 20, 2015. 185-202. doi:

Kim, J. (n.d.). ReThink Review: Fresh Off the Boat (eps. 1-4) – Thanks, Asian America Needed That. July 20, 2015. Retrieved from

Kim, J. (2005, December 14). `Geisha’ raises fears of stereotypical movie roles. July 20, 2015. Retrieved from

Hale, M. (2013, November 21). Maggie Q and Lucy Liu: Asian-Americans as Leading Ladies – The New York Times. Retrieved from

Mea mai kanaka Hawai’i

Since its discovery in 1778 by Captain James Cook, Hawaii would forever be changed. This chain of Polynesian islands looks a lot different today compared to back then; granted, virtually everything looks different compared to how it looked in 1778. Less than 0.2% of the U.S. population identifies as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, which is peculiar given that before colonization the approximate total of Native Hawaiians was around 400,000 (Stillman 2004). However, I’m not here to talk about statistics. I’m here to examine the people of Hawaii today and how they are perceived in not just the media, but the cinemas and society as well. Although the people have changed, that doesn’t necessarily mean the perception has.

In 2002 (yes, it was that long ago), Disney released a movie called Lilo & Stitch, which was well received by the general viewing audience. Upon researching reviews of the film I found a lot of, “Cute story, likeable characters, great soundtrack, etc.” Seeing as this movie was intended for kids, this makes a lot of sense. I did, however, come across a review that implied the movie was sexist because the thin alien (Pleakley) was disguised as the women every time, but that’s not really an argument because at one point the other alien (Jumba) wanted to try on the wig, so… I think that person was just trying to make something out of nothing.

Anyway, I would like to move the focus to the portrayal of the characters in the movie, and while critics make very good points about the characters being likeable and very real; in some ways, I think they aren’t. Much of speaking is done with a pidgin accent, which is a slanged version of English, and that’s not true of most of the Hawaiian population. I don’t have that accent, and actual native Hawaiians don’t even have that accent (we’re actually quite articulate). Not to mention it’s a little insulting when I hear people trying to mimic that accent. It’s not difficult, but accents aren’t for everyone. Here is a video of a Youtuber from Hawaii letting you know what people from Hawaii say, which I don’t agree with (perpetuating the misconception).

There’s also the feel of the movie. Disney managed to capture the Native Hawaiians strong belief of family, or ohana. Although, I could have done without the many “cuz” or “brah” or “braddahs” that were used throughout the movie. In my experience, this is not an actual experience. The movie does have its own flow though. In a New York Times review, they say, Instead of the usual barrage of cheeky pop-culture references, there is Lilo’s devotion to Elvis (whom she teaches Stitch to impersonate), and a quiet regard for details of character and setting.” Hawaii may not be as skilled at being weird as Portland, but there seemingly is no shortage of originality, according to the New York Times. I won’t speculate on the emphasis that was put into Elvis and his relation to Hawaii, but I think Disney may have put a little too much emphasis there. Despite that, I think this movie does a good job of portraying the values and beliefs of the people of Hawaii compared to its portrayal of language and people.

In Peter Segal’s 50 Fifty First Dates, starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, the movie also takes place in Hawaii. Raving reviews of “bravely true, undeniably heart-felt, and an audience that’s expected to laugh.” can be read about the film. That’s entirely out of context though. Most of the reviews are actually very negative. Rightfully so? Jaquo, arguably the films saving grace, is the name of the walrus from the zoo. News flash, there are no walrus’s at the zoo, it’s too warm. Sometimes they’re driven near Alaska when the ice starts melting, but that’s the closest they usually come.

An actor by the name of Rob Schneider plays a native Hawaiian; however, he identifies as Filipino. There are Filipino’s in Hawaii, so I could see him playing a character that is from Hawaii, but not Hawaiian. After all, Hawaii has people with Filipino ethnicity. He plays a Hawaiian though. Again, he has that stereotypical accent as well. Not everyone from Hawaii has a pidgin accent. Actually, that accent isn’t even related solely to Hawaiians. It’s more related to any minority group that was present during the white power owners (plantation owners and such), so any group that isn’t Caucasian… Pretty much. Actress Amy Hill identifies as half-Japanese and half Finnish. There are quite a few people of the Japanese persuasion who have taken up residence in Hawaii, so once again the question comes to mind as to why she couldn’t just play a Japanese person instead of Hawaiian. I appreciate the thought of letting people think that Hawaii is riddled with Hawaiians, but sadly that is just not the case.

This isn’t Hawaii’s fault though. There are constantly battles amongst “foreigners” and the “locals” about certain issues; particularly on the presence (or lack thereof) of larger businesses. I’m not sure if anyone not from Hawaii has heard the saying, but it definitely resonates strongly among the local population.

Keep the Country Country

It means what you think it means: Leave things the way they are. We are PRO tradition, and have strong beliefs in the ideas of our ancestors. While “country” may not be the most accurate term, it’s a suitable one. The locals want to keep the traditions and smaller “mom-and-pop” shops while big businesses want to cement themselves in Hawaii.

Unfortunately, change is something that happens consistently. Why then, does the portrayal and, in turn, perception of Hawaiians not? While I have had the pleasure of meeting people who have a firm grasp on what Hawaii actually looks like and stands for, I have also had the displeasure of meeting individuals who have a, politely put, slight misunderstanding of Hawaii. To answer the most common troll questions, yes we ride dolphins, yes we live in grass huts, yes we wear grass skirts and coconut bikinis, and if you believe me, I feel very sorry for you.


  1. Stillman, A. (2004). Project MUSE – Pacific-ing Asian Pacific American History. Retrieved July 23, 2015, from

What do we know about Colombia?

What do we know about Colombia?

Colombia Is Pic

Trusting and relying on the media is really not an option, especially if we are trying to understand another culture and its customs. Unfortunately, so many of us depend on media outlets to form opinions and perceptions for anything we are unfamiliar with, such as the case of Latino people and their ways of living. On this blog I would like to discuss my findings about Hispanics, particularly Colombian women, who are often portrayed as sex symbols, drug traffickers and housekeepers in movies and TV shows. These misleading stereotypes are represented by characters like Sofia Vergara on comedy sitcom Modern Family, Catalina Sandino in the movie Maria Full Of Grace, and last but not least Jennifer Lopez in Maid in Manhattan. This research has been an interesting journey and I am hoping that we can all learn and reflect on our perceptions of people based on what we see, what we know and our personal experiences.

As I described in my analysis worksheet, after watching my first episode of Modern Family and hearing main character Gloria Delgado (played by Sofia Vergara) talk on the show, I thought to myself, is this the way I sound? Is this how I dress?  So many ideas came to mind and then, surprisingly a few months later as I was speaking to a male co-worker, and shared with him that I was from Colombia, he immediately referenced Modern Family and asked me if all women looked like that in Colombia?. Seriously? The TV show Modern Family makes some good and bad representations of the Colombian culture and I can see how it is mixed together to bring viewers comedy and entertainment. The reality is that Colombian women are hard workers, passionate and like to dress in ways that make themselves feel beautiful. However, they are also humble, love their families and will protect their children no matter what. I can also see how this show uses a mix of multi-cultures and races to bring more viewers in instead of just one group of people and they have proved every season that people relate to the story-line and they would like to see more. However, some people seem to disagree. For example, columnist Veronica Arreola who wrote an article for British Newspaper The Guardian about Sofia Vergara posing on a rotating pedestal at her 2014 Emmy Awards appearance. Arreola stated  “It’s really not unreasonable to think that a ‘celebration’ speech about diversity on TV would feature positive depictions of diversity, rather than a Latina woman being spun around like a piece of meat on a vertical spit while a white man blathers on about expanded roles for minorities in Hollywood”. Furthermore, Arreola explains that these kind of stereotypes are damaging the hard work of other Latinos and it outshines the significant part they play in American society, such as the case of Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor or American politician Lucy Flores and many others. This clearly shows that stereotypes are disappointing and not everyone wants to fit in a particular one, after all people just want to be recognized for who they are and what they do and not be categorized into a silly group.

Women covered -Popular culture

After watching Maria Full of Grace I felt deep sadness for people who go through this painful and scary process of bringing drugs to the United States. The movie brings viewers positive and negative feelings about Colombia and its people. Some may see it as a woman who needs to provide a better life for her unborn child while others may see it as an act of selfishness for risking her and the baby’s lives just to be able to have a chance for a better future. This is one of the few movies that portrays the truth about drug mules or drug traffickers and how dangerous it can be to become one. This was a movie that delivered a strong and meaningful message about a big social problem in third world countries like Colombia.

Soccer Players Stereotypes

This image taken from The Huffington Post was controversial and insulting for our nation. It shows two of our star soccer players sniffing what is supposed to be a referee’s white boundary spray line (which is typically just shaving cream) as if it’s cocaine, which stereotypes Colombia as synonymous with drugs. This offensive picture was posted by UNICEF Netherlands Ambassador Nicolette Van Dam on her twitter account “with the caption ‘Colombians muurtje’ — which translates as “Colombian Wall” (The Huffington Post). This example goes to show how much these stereotypes can hurt a country and its culture. For example, what are parents to tell their seven-year old child after he asks what his favorite soccer players are doing in that image? How do you explain the fact that a UNICEF ambassador is posting these hurtful messages against a nation and its people? Stereotypes are insensitive and they can damage a culture’s reputation deeply and fast.

Another stereotype from my research analysis was how Latino women are portrayed as housekeepers in Hollywood. Such as the case in the movie Maid in Manhattan, where a cleaning maid is played by a Latina. The character Marisa Ventura, played by actress Jennifer Lopez, is a low-income earner, a single mom and has no formal education. These types of misconceptions are commonly showcased on a variety of movies and TV shows to represent the role of many immigrants in the working class American culture. This representation of Hispanics grossly showcases the culture despite so many talented ones out there working hard, getting educated and succeeding at so many other things different to housekeeping. While on the other hand the political figure in the movie, Chris Marshall, played by Ralph Fiennes, is Caucasian, educated, has potential, is wealthy, humble and falls in love with an immigrant housekeeper. Even though today American culture is a melting pot of ideas, cultures, food and customs, it is still being represented in a negative way by the media to newer generations. The producer clearly had an idea in mind and communicated it to the viewers in the most stereotypical way possible. The movie shows the reality of some immigrants in United States but poorly transforms it in a tasteless manner. Movies like Maid in Manhattan are stereotypical and don’t represent the Hispanic population in America and they should instead incorporate a mix of roles for Latina women to fulfil a deeper reality and a more diverse audience.

Pop culture is not solely the one to be responsible for the stereotypes surrounding our society, we are all guilty of stereotyping people and we all need to differentiate within entertainment and reality. In fact, as I kept digging deeper into different online media reviews, I noticed that little by little we seem to slowly be shown in a progressive and positive manner. For example, the 2002 movie Real Women Have Curves (played by America Ferrera) portrays an intelligent and hardworking Mexican-American teenager who is trying to find a place in the world by following her dreams without forgetting her family’s roots. This type of media representation creates a positive environment for the audience and I am hoping that one day it translates into more shows and movies portraying diversity as it should, a melting pot of cultures with unique and interesting qualities. There is so much to be seen and to be experienced in this world and the media should not be our one and only resource for gathering information, for getting to know people, cultures and their customs. As a Colombian woman living outside of my country, I believe we all deserve the chance to explore other places and to get to know people for who they really are. With this being said, I ask you to visit another country, to learn something new and to open your eyes and explore reality through your eyes and not through blogs, online sources or the next hit TV show. This is an invitation for you to create your own pictures, your own media, but this time, it will only be based on your own life and personal experiences not the ones created and manipulated by pop culture.


Works Cited

Arreola, Veronica. “Sofia Vergara’s ‘turn’ at the Emmys Was a Gross, Stereotypical Objectification.” theguardian. N.p., 26 Aug. 2014. Web. 20 July 2015.

Brayton, Sean. “Mexican ‘labor in the Hollywood imaginary.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 11.4 (2008): 459-476.

Castillo, Francklin. “Maria Full of Grace.” Online video clip.

YouTube. YouTube, 11 Aug. 2011. Web. 12 Jul. 2015.

Kearney, Tobias. “Maid in Manhattan.” Online video clip.

YouTube. YouTube, 20 Apr. 2015. Web. 12 Jul. 2015.

Levitan, Steven, and Christopher Lloyd. “Modern Family: Crying Out Loud.”

Modern Family. Los Angeles, CA, 13 May 2015. ABC. Web. 13 July 2015.

“Maid in Manhattan.” IMDb., n.d. Web. 12 July 2015

“Maria Full of Grace.” IMDb., n.d. Web. 16 July 2015.

Moreno, Carolina. “World Cup Cocaine Meme Causes Uproar.” The Huffington Post., 23 June 2014. Web. 03 Aug. 2015.

Sesin, Carmen. “Caring for ‘drug Mules’ Who Perish on the Job.” NBC News (n.d.): n.p.

25 May 2004. Web. 19 July 2015.

Wang, Julia, ed. “America Ferrera.” N.p., n.d. Web. 21 July 2015.


Women in the Media

People are complex and have a lot of different qualities about them, but somehow the media tends to categorize and stereotype people. Somehow we end up being defined by our media counterparts. I am 20 year old woman and I have been greatly affected by how the media portrays me. I really do feel like it has shaped the way I see myself and has affected the way others view me. We are surrounded by media messages and it’s impossible to not have them affect real life. From what I get from the media, women are supposed to be quiet, pretty, and passive. We are valued primarily for the way we look and unfortunately this is seen everywhere in the media. I will be using examples from the media that are from different perspectives in order to show how universally women are portrayed the same way. I will use the TV show Two and a Half Men, to represent a male take on how women are portrayed, Twilight to show a female perspective for how women should be, and The Big Bang Theory to show a media source that targets both a male and female audience. I also will talk about a TED talk done by Dr. Caroline Heldman, who is chair of the political department at Occidental College, and use an article about Selena Gomez’s weight gain to show a real life example of how women are affected by this portrayal. It is important to stress that how we are represented in the media affects how we are treated in real life. There are of course exceptions to this. I am not trying to claim that there are absolutely no positive female portrayals in the media or that no one in the world respects women. Recently we have had several positive portrayals of female characters such as Katniss from the Hunger Games or Hermione from Harry Potter. However this is still the exception, and the majority of the way women are shown in the media is pretty much, they are treated as objects who are meant to be pretty and quiet.

The main argument that I plan to make is that women are treated as objects in the media. Its important to understand why that is a problem. Dr. Heldman goes into detail on this subject and makes a simple yet important definition of what being a sex object means. She defines it as “being an object that serves another’s sexual pleasure”. Being treated as an object automatically makes that person subordinate to another, there is not empowerment or equality in this. You are the object of someone else acting upon you. She also points out that we don’t always recognize sexual objectification when we see it, since we have grown up surrounded by it. The sexual availability of a woman has become a defining characteristic, we see half naked women in TV shows, movies, ads and commercials constantly. Attractive scantily clad women are used to promote and sell something. This is often chalked up to a presumed fact that sex sells, but maybe this isn’t true. Heldman makes a very interesting point that in a population that is half female, with the majority of those females being heterosexual, we don’t see nearly as many half naked men on advertisements. We also see sexualized women in advertisements directed towards women. Why? Why would women buy something with another half naked women on it? She isn’t buying into the “sex sells” attitude, she is buying into the dichotomy of objectification and subjectification. Men may be affected by these images for sexual pleasure or to feel powerful (as they are the subjects that act upon the object) but women are affected in a different way. Heldman introduces the idea of self objectification. Its not only men that view women as sex objects, we view ourselves that way too. We place value on ourselves based on the way we look, we compare ourselves to others, and compete with other women. Heldman uses the example of the walking into a room and automatically knowing where you fit in “the pretty girl pecking order”. If we see someone else getting attention for being treated like a sex object, it makes us compare ourselves to her and feel bad. We tend to view ourselves from a third party perspective, and worry about how we look way too much. This gets in the way of enjoying sex, reduces our ability to get along with other women, and lowers our self esteem and GPAs. Since we as women have learned that being pretty is what we should value ourselves for, emphasis on our appearance can take priority over other things such as our careers or education. Similarly we lose some of the enjoyment of sex because we focus on things such as worrying about if the position we are in is flattering or thinking about our physical insecurities instead of just enjoying the activity.

Let’s talk about Twilight, at first it seems pretty harmless. It had a lot of potential for being a good representation for women. The author is female, the protagonist is female, and the eventual movie had a female director. But instead Twilight might be the most sexist media source that I have found. The fact that it is directed towards young girls and women in a mask of feminism is what makes this book so dangerous. I was in 6th grade when Twilight came out and I remember the phenomenon it caused, every girl I knew was were obsessed with Edward and Jacob. Twilight sends several concerning messages to it’s readers. The protagonist, Bella, is insecure and quiet and sought after by every guy in the book presumingly because she is pretty and unopinionated and that is what Stephenie Meyer tells readers that men fall for. Although Bella is supposed to be smart, nothing in the book suggests she is. She cooks and cleans and doesn’t talk to anyone or have an opinion on anything, besides for judging her peers for trying to be friends with her, as she thinks that they are shallow and too friendly. However she immediately falls in love with Edward, who is described as inhumanly beautiful. Bella has little independence or character development, and relies on Edward for her sole source of happiness.When he briefly leaves her, she becomes suicidal. Edward is controlling and manipulative, he sneaks into her room to watch her sleep before they have ever talked, and admits to wanting to kill her (he is a vampire and wants to drink her blood). This is not romantic, this is creepy. If Bella snuck into Edward’s house to watch him sleep she would be considered a stalker. Having it seem romantic that your boyfriend wants to kill you is beyond concerning considering how many people die from domestic abuse. Twilight completely romanticizes unhealthy relationships, it not only condones controlling behavior, it portrays it as something to be desired. Edward controls who Bella can and can’t be friends with, and enlists his family to spy on her to make sure she is following his orders. He even takes the engine out of her car to make sure she can’t see Jacob and her other friends. During their brief breakup when she becomes suicidal, she only starts to feel better when she starts hanging out with Jacob. She needs a man to be happy, Twilight has a theme that you can be happy if you are desired by men and have a boyfriend.



Stephanie Meyer implies that the only path to happiness is being a wife and mother, as no female characters in the book series have any other aspirations. When Bella’s life is at risk by becoming pregnant, she decides against abortion, even extremely conservative people out there believe it’s okay for a pregnancy to be terminated if the mother is at risk, but not Meyer.

Bella has no desire to do anything but be with Edward, and is willing to give up her friends, family, and humanity to accomplish this. There are multiple pro-abstinence and anti-abortion messages throughout this book. Edward puts Bella down for wanting to have sex and lectures her about virtue, they never have a discussion about it and she is just made to feel bad for desiring sex. This series promotes the virgin/whore dichotomy and fails to view women as complex beings. And when they eventually do have sex he leaves her bruised and in pain, and when she becomes pregnant as a result, he tries to force her to have an abortion. She doesn’t feel like Edward will allow her to make her own decision about her body, so she is forced to call Edward’s sister Rosalie for help. With Rosalie’s protection she is able to not terminate her pregnancy, which does in spite of the risk to her own life.

Edward and Bella’s relationship is not good, but shockingly it is not the worst one in Twilight. Two side characters, Sam and Emily, have an even more abusive relationship. Sam is werewolf who was dating Emily’s cousin Leah when he fell in love with Emily, and when she rejected him out of concern for her cousin, he morphed into a werewolf and mutilated her face. Then she fell in love with him and they eventually marry in the book series. Nikki Gasely wrote an article “Why Feminism Doesn’t Sparkle” that echoed many of my concerns. But she pointed something out that is way more concerning than anything I have listed. She said that the worst thing about Twilight is that it justifies all of Edward’s and Sam’s actions because they are said to be done out of love. Having your face ripped off is okay if someone loves you. Twilight teaches young girls that to be happy you need a boyfriend and that if they are possessive or controlling it is out of love. She sends the message that to be desired by men you should be passive and unopinionated.

Two and a Half Men portrays women in a negative way as well. This is TV series about men created by men. While there are really aren’t many likable characters at all, the female ones that aren’t just nameless hookups for Charlie are especially disdainful. But first let’s mention Charlie’s hookups. Charlie is supposed to be the cool character, despite being selfish and an alcoholic. He is shown picking up women constantly, and views them as sexual conquests, and for some reason this makes him cool and his brother and nephew look up to him. The fact that Charlie goes through so many women would not be so bad if they were shown as capable, intelligent, independent women who know that Charlie is looking for a one night stand, but instead Charlie convinces them that there is something more going on between them and then kicks them out the next day without any regard to their feelings or worth as people. This show reinforces that women are sex objects and that men must sleep with many women to be manly.


The other women on the show are all pretty awful. Alan’s ex wife Judith is shrewd and selfish, and his next ex wife Kandi is much younger, dumb and also selfish. Alan is not much better than Charlie as he is always chasing women as well, except he has less success. He specifically seems to like Kandi primarily because she is hot then for any other reason, and yet he is somehow the victim in their breakup, despite her leaving him to pursue her career. His next girlfriend is a porn star who is with him because she doesn’t think she has any other options. Charlie and Alan’s mother Evelyn is emotionally unstable, vain, and selfish. Their housekeeper is low class and a drug user, and their neighbor Rose is a stalker. There are no positive portrayal of women on this show. I found this mediasource interesting because I think it is a good example of how women are portrayed unintentionally. This is a show about men, and I think it is a good example of unintentional sexism. The show is supposed to be funny and it’s not really supposed to have any political messages or to be taken seriously, but considering the popularity of the show it has an effect on real life. Two and a Half Men reinforce a lot of stereotypes and send some really negative messages about how women are and how they should be treated.

The Big Bang Theory is a show that I personally enjoy, but it very sexist. The pretense of it is that there is a group of nerdy men who obsess about their hot neighbor, Penny, who is never even given a last name. Penny is the typical dumb blonde stereotype and is the object of admiration by all the men (except Sheldon) because she is hot. Later the show adds in stronger female characters, Bernadette and Amy Farrah Fowler, but Penny is still the one who is admired by all the characters, even though she is the least successful. Amy Farrah Fowler is smart but she socially awkward and not considered attractive or likeable, and Bernadette is still shown as homely and both Amy and Bernadette continually look up to Penny and seek out her advice. The men on the show seem to judge their self worth based on their success with women, and value the women they are with based on their attractiveness. In the episode “The Love Car Displacement” Howard makes a comment to his girlfriend Bernadette that he is surprised by how attractive her ex-boyfriend was, and that he didn’t think he would have to worry about competing with other men over someone like Bernadette. Apparently just because she isn’t as conventionally pretty as other women Howard thinks that an attractive man wouldn’t be interested in her. Bernadette is a successful women, she has a phd in microbiology and is a pretty likable character, but Howard doesn’t think any attractive man would be interested based on her looks.


All the media examples I have used have women being valued for how they look and being there to advance a male characters story line or be the object of a male characters affection. Penny is there for Leonard and his friends to pine after, Bella has no purpose but to be with Edward, and the majority of the women in Two and a Half men are there for Charlie to hook up with and then leave. All of the women are beautiful, and the prettier they are the more desirable they are. There isn’t much focus on their character development or anything else that has to do with their personality. Its unfortunate that the media values women based on the way they look at not for who they are or what they accomplish. Its not just TV characters and book characters that value women based on how pretty they are, it translates into real life as well. A popular singer Selena Gomez was recently criticized for gaining an estimated ten pounds. I read an article titled “Update: Selena Gomez Responds to “Disgusting” Weight Critic.” by Julie Ricevuto that talks about how Selena Gomez, who is a pretty small girl, has been criticized over her weight. What makes this article so relevant is that it has a quote from Abigail Breslin explaining that criticizing already slim celebrities for gaining weight sends a dangerous message to the public, especially young girls who look are trying to figure out their own changing bodies. In the case of Selena Gomez since her weight gain was minor this is especially dangerous because having headlines calling someone who is a healthy weight fat sends a message to the public  that being healthy is not as important as being stick skinny or that not being a size zero means you’re fat. Saying that Selena Gomez is fat when she is still slim sends the message of extreme skinniness being very important to the reader, and as Heldman told us earlier women compare themselves to each other, and if a girl thinks that a slim girl is fat they will hold themselves to that same standard and want to be skinnier even if they are already a healthy weight. Beyond that Selena is a singer, she is not a barbie doll and it’s insane to me that her weight should be mentioned at all. Women are so sexualized that a women gaining weight and becoming “less attractive” is somehow a headline. Nowhere in the article did it say that her weight gain would affect her singing ability or acting talent, or her charitable work. Nowhere did it say that her weight gain would affect anything that has to do with her as a person. Its sad that her weight has turned into a defining characteristic of hers.  


Women have more value than just how they look, and they are not objects for men to sleep with in order to feel manly. Appearance should not define you as a person. How did something as fleeting as looks become so important? The media has somehow completely objectified women and even with the recent progress that is being made, this portrayal of women being nothing but a pretty face is still inexcusably common. There is no doubt that the media affects real life, and I know that even though I can talk about this subject and understand the problem, part of me will always place a large amount of importance on my physical appearance even though I know I shouldn’t. Hopefully in the near future the media will start to portray women as people and not just as an object to serve a man, and hopefully women will realize their own value and refuse to continue being portrayed as anything less than a complete person.

Learning Moments

One significant learning moment I had from this term was during the first reading “The urgency of visual media in our post 9/11 world:reading images of muslim women in the print news media”. Prior to reading this article I had no idea that the news would use images that had nothing to do with the actual story. The example they use of Maclean’s Magazine using an unrelated picture taken of Turkish Muslim women observing Ashura, a day of mourning, at a Mosque, and had nothing to do with the article. That combined with the headline “why the future belongs to Islam” promotes fear of muslims and out of context visual information. If one was not educated about Islam they might make a judgement on the religion based on that magazine cover, which was pretty fear invoking. The article explains that when see an image it “exploits what is already in our heads, the cultural lore we have stored up as a result of our education and experiences” (33). That is a really interesting concept to me, that we don’t see something for what it is and instead allow our own pre existing ideas on the subject to affect how we see something. After reading this article I am going to be much more skeptical of the images I see in news sources and not assume that they are accurate or relevant.

Another learning moment I had was from the reading “The Evolution of the Doltish Dad”. The article was about how there were no accurate or positive portrayals of dads in the media, as they are usually shown as dumb and bothersome. One thing that really stood out to me when reading this article was the author said ““Until very recently, a guy who wanted to stay at home or be earnest about fatherhood could not see his image reflected on TV, which essentially meant he did not exist.” I found this really interesting and still continue to reflect on this statement. If something is not shown in the media does it not exist? Its a little scary how much the media really affects us, and scary to think media portrayals take precedence over real life. I dont think that statement was true, but it has truth to it. There are amazing dads out there and it’s sad the media doesn’t usually capture that, just like there are strong intelligent women out there and the media doesn’t usually value that either. What I learned from this is that the media needs to step it up and creators of movies and TV shows should really try to accurately portray people and not rely on stereotypes.


Is Christianity being forsaken by Mainstream media?

The media as of the past 30 years, has been attempting to create roles for a male Christian. Media in general has been trying to either fit roles of the male Christian into a plot in a movie, or it has attempted to create their interpretation of what a male Christian is. The view of media about male Christians, is that they are one dimensional, clueless, or even naive. Speaking from personal experience, I was also treated as clueless, or naive when I was younger and still learning scripture. My peers in high school often tried to refute my existence because of my faith. The media has eroded the public image of Christians, and more specifically males, over the past 30 or so years. This is in stark contrast of the fundamental beliefs of Christians, which mainstream media has eluded to.

Movies have attempted to tell stories since its inception in the 1890’s. Since the early 20th century, the Protestant Church has encouraged the production of films about Christianity. The industry ramped up the making of movies portraying Christians starting in the 1950’s and 60’s. These were films which any Christian should become familiar with. Examples would be the Ten Commandments, where Moses was played by Charlton Heston (published in 1956).[i] The Ten Commandments is just one good example of how a Christian male is portrayed in what is an accurate representation. Here is a couple of clips from the Ten Commandments:

Another movie that shows a male Christian, but as a coach this time is Facing the Giants.[ii] In the clip, you will see the coach Grant Taylor (played by Alex Kendrick), showing the meaning of not seeing and believing to his team:



This shows a good example of a male Christian leader, whether they are a coach, teacher, engineer, or something else.

Recent media exploits, however, have been making movies with “Christian males” in them, without giving accurate and truthful representation to the believers of Christianity. The thing to keep in mind, is that the actors may not be a Christian male at all. Take, for example, the movie “Easy A” [iii], staring Emma Stone (Olive), and Amanda Bynes (Marianne). The film has Amanda Bynes playing the role of a Christian girl leading a group of other Christians in a high school. The movie shows the male Christians that were in Marianne’s group to be submissive, and clueless to a point that they needed to be told what to do. Marianne is often belittling non-Christians in what she says, and how she acts. A good example is when in one scene, Marianne has her group protesting outside the school, and the male Christians are protesting with signs, along with a few female Christians, while Marianne is shouting derogatory remarks at by-passers, most prominently at Olive. The male Christians appear to have no motivation during the groups activity, except when Marianne tells them to do something. Take a look at this scene:

The best scripture I can think of to use as stark contrast to the portrayal of the Christians in the movies Easy A, comes from Matthew chapter 5, verse 1-12, and it says (taken from NIV Bible):

1 Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him,

2 and he began to teach them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

(Note: Letters in red indicate where Jesus himself was speaking.)


Another example that shows a Christian male in a more subjective role, is the show 30 Rock, written and directed by Tina Fey of the original Saturday Night Live cast. She has written in the character Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer), who appears as an oddly cheerful Christian, who accepts any jobs doled out by his boss Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin). He also appears naive and a bit more clueless than most of the male Christians that I have seen in other television shows and movies. In my personal observations, I have not seen or witnessed a Christian behaving like Kenneth in 30 Rock, nor like any of the male Christian figures in the movie Easy A. An example clip is shown below:


Ned Flanders in the cartoon prime time television show the Simpsons, has a somewhat different appearance when it comes to how the public is viewing the role of the male Christian. The early versions of the Simpsons showed Ned as a very happy, respectable and Godly man. The thing that is wrong with this, is that the cartoon is portraying Ned as being a Christian, and does not show how Ned became a Christian, or his personal testimony/journey. Not that there is anything wrong with being happy, but most Christians go through a significant amount of suffering (physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, social, economic, etc…) as this is what Jesus speaks about in Matthew chapter 5, verse 11 and 12. The word to key in on is persecuted/persecution/persecute.

Ned is always criticizing Homer about his sinful lifestyle choices, which brings conflict to their relationship (as they are neighbors in addition to friends). Even though Homer and Ned have conflicts of interest, there appears to be a love and respect between the two. This is not always apparent, and does not start showing until the series enters its later seasons. In an episode earlier in the franchise, Ned Flanders, in “Hurricane Neddy”, has his house completely destroyed by a tornado, and his is the only house in town to be hit. Watch the video clip:



To compare this scene earlier with the later scenes, the latest seasons show the true identity of what a male Christians might appear to be like, when Ned’s wife is suddenly killed after being knocked off the grandstand by a shirt cannon at the Springfield Speedway, by none other than his good friend Homer. His struggles with being a single father of 2 boys following the accident, is a common struggle which most Christian widowers go through. Ned at first curses God, as to why he is not answering his prayers, then starts losing his faith. This envelopes into an internal battle for his lost faith, and a rage which he takes out on others. Ned later in the episode, while walking back to the church, asks God to forgive him for his sin, and misguided attempts to deal with the loss of his wife. He starts to question his faith, and why God is punishing him toward the end of the scene, Homer attempts to console with Ned about the untimely death of Ned’s wife. Here is a clip from that show:



And here is another clip with some of the best Ned Flanders moments. This also includes some of the scenes from the episode where Ned’s wife dies:


The article titled, “It’s Funny Because It’s True? The Simpsons, Satire, and the Significance of Religious Humor in Popular Culture”, written by David Feltmate, is an attempt to unravel the meanings and reasons around the Simpsons. The author used the word “satire” throughout the text in his article. Satire by definition according to Merriam-Webster’s website definition, “a way of using humor to show that someone or something is foolish, weak, bad, etc. : humor that shows the weaknesses or bad qualities of a person, government, society, etc.” ([iv] This is a common theme from Hollywood producers and writers. Satire is a way of giving something meaning, “without all the truth about, or correct representation of a particular entity or person(s)”. This also extends into commercialism, in that a group of people (in this case Christians) are all lumped into one group, and are assumed to be the same. To add to that, recently a Catholic Priest lauded the attempts that the creators of the Simpson’s have done with the franchise, reflecting the behaviors of Christianity as a whole. [v] This is not the case. Even when it comes to the Reverend Lovejoy . (The beloved Reverend Lovejoy is the preacher at Homer Simpson’s and Ned Flanders’s church.) Reverend Lovejoy’s views reflect that of a Protestant belief, which is exactly what the church turns out to be.

Looking at the article titled “Why Is Hollywood Obsessed With Making Christian Movies?”, the author attempts to use rhetoric to analyze why Hollywood may be making so many big picture movies as of late.[vi] Movies like “Noah” and “Exodus: Gods and Kings” are both good examples of how “creativity” can get in the way of, or subdue the messages in the Bible. These are clearly Hollywood based points of view, and do not at all reflect the actual events that are described in scripture. Some of these feature films might have some of the male actors, actually playing their roles accurately. Most do not have the roles play in such a way. A good example of a more recent movie that has male Christians played well in their roles, is the movie “Passion of the Christ”.

A biblically based male, in truth, is based on many factors. His relationship with Jesus Christ, his leadership of those who trust him, confide their safety, and well being in him, compassion, grace, LOVE (Jesus talks about this being the greatest of all commandments), and last but not least…humility! Without these, a man cannot expect to perform the tasks that Christ himself laid out, and what is written in the Epistles that Paul wrote about in Romans, Ephesians, Galatians, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Philippians, Philemon, Titus, and 1st and 2nd Timothy. Timothy and Peter also echo this in their letters to the churches, that they keep and maintain these artifacts as the prominent cornerstone of the Christian church. (Timothy is the disciple of Paul the Apostle, and Peter was one of the 12 disciples of Christ.)

The biggest story teller of the Christian faith isn’t just what is written in the New Testament of the bible, but also from the testimonies of those whom have encountered Jesus Christ, and his impact on their lives.

My first true encounter with Jesus was when I was about 7 years of age (give or take a year, as I cannot remember my exact age at the time). I was with my grandfather in his church (which I went with him every Sunday until I was 9 1/2 years old). I remember it being a somewhat cold and rainy day in the fall. It was the time after Sunday school, and the main sermon was being taught. I was sitting in the back of the church on a pew, listening (I tried to understand what was being spoken about, but I was 7). After the sermon had finished, the pastor asks if anyone would like to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior. I will never forget that feeling I had inside. It was as if, someone had taken my hand, and led me to the front of the church. I felt something at that moment, and have since that day. I know in my heart, after much prayer and internal debating, that it was indeed the Holy Spirit calling me that day. Once I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior, I had a very energizing and comforting feeling. I felt the presence of Jesus, as he spoke to my heart. He assured me that my life is in his hands, and to trust him on everything. Even the things I could not see, nor could understand. I embarked on a journey, that will forever change the lives of people I encounter, and speak about my testimonies (yes, there are more than one. My first encounter, and acceptance of Jesus was only one of many to tell, for which I will not go into detail here).

I use my faith, and relationship with Jesus, to help me understand and judge what is truth and what is false indoctrination. The media views of Christian males is, they are one dimensional, clueless, or naive. The media has also eroded the public image of Christians, and more specifically males, over the past 30 or so years. They try and misinform their viewers, and lead them to the singular ideal, that Christianity must be like this. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.


[i] The Ten Commandments. Dir. Cecil B. De Mille. By Dorothy Clarke Wilson, J. H. Ingraham, A. E. Southon, AEneas MacKenzie, Jesse Lasky, Jack Gariss, and Fredric M. Frank. Prod. Cecil B. De Mille and Henry Wilcoxon. Perf. Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter. Paramount Pictures, 1956. Film.


[ii] Facing the Giants. Dir. Alex Kendrick. By Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick. Prod. Alex Kendrick, Stephen Kendrick, Michael Catt, and Terry Hemmings. Perf. Alex Kendrick, Shannen Fields, Jason McLeod,. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2007. Blu-ray.


[iii] Easy A. Dir. WIll Gluck. By Bert V. Royal. Perf. Amanda Bynes, Emma Stone, Penn Badgley. Sony Pictures, 2010. Film.


[iv] Feltmate, David. “It’s Funny Because It’s True? The Simpsons, Satire, and the Significance of Religious Humor in Popular Culture.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion (2013): lfs100.


[v] Saunders, Martin. “Entertainment.” A Farewell to Ned? The Simpsons’ Greatest Flanders Moments. Christian Today, 14 May 2015. Web. 29 July 2015. <;


[vi] Koonse, Emma. ‘Why Is Hollywood Obsessed With Making Christian Movies?’. Christian Post. N.p., 2014. Web. 23 July 2015.

Breaking Free from Gender Roles

Morgan Deisz

Daneen Bergland

Popular Culture

13 August 2015

Stereotyping Women in Media

          Women’s portrayal in popular culture has been an on going debate for years. They have been seen as stay at home moms, taking care of the kids waiting for their adored husband to come home. Shows like Family Guy, Modern Family and even The Office all show women in these stereotypical roles. As we approach 2016, we are starting to see more TV shows with males being the “stay at home dads” and the women are focusing on their careers, but even those shows still portray the mom as “naggy” and the dads as immature and incapable of taking care of their kids. Even as TV shows are branching out to show stay at home dads, the negative view of wives in media is still very strong, because women are only seen as irritating house wives and rarely seen pursuing a career.

The portrayal of the naggy housewife is crudely depicted in the cartoon show, Family Guy. Lois is a stay at home mom who is married to Peter; an immature, selfish husband working at a brewery. The relationship between them is very skewed, Lois is generally parenting Peter and telling him how dumb or arrogant he is. The writers of Family Guy really show their opinions of wives. In early seasons Lois is only shown when Peter does something wrong and Lois is there to nag at him and tell him how irresponsible he is. On the website “TV tropes” which analyzes different TV shows and the characters, they point out that Lois, “in the first season, she was a calm mother who always was wiser than Peter. Over the other two pre-revival seasons (actually starting with “The Son Also Draws”), some flaws began to show in her seemingly perfect persona, yet she was still a nice person to have has a mother. When the show came back, however, she essentially became a female version of Peter” (Family Guy The Griffin Family / Characters – TV Tropes). If it’s not bad enough, how they illustrate Lois as a bossy wife, they make it worse by making her take on the same characteristics as her doltish husband. Luckily, there are some other TV shows out there that are not so crude and negative toward women.


The TV show Modern Family is a good representation of an intense housewife, partially pursuing a career. Clair is married to Phil and they have three kids together. Phil works as a real estate agent while Clair is mostly seen as a housewife till the later seasons where she does get a job at “Pritchett Closets & Blinds” (Modern Family Wiki). The relationship with Clair and Phil is pretty typical for most sitcoms. They have the more “ideal” picture perfect home and family, and the idea of a nuclear family is still very present in the show. The viewers of this show, and the larger part of society do not feel like a family should look this way any more. From the textbook “Media, Gender and Identity” they state that. “The UK’s Nation Centre for Social Research (2000) reported that their annual survey of social attitudes had found that:

The traditional view of women as dedicated house wives seems to be all buy extinct. Only around one in six women and one in five men [mostly older people], think women should remain at home while men go out to work. (Gauntlett, David)

The view of a “perfect” nuclear family is changing, and it’s time that TV shows embraces the change and updates the roles of wives, by making moms more empowered and career driven. However, viewers may be concerned about the well being of the children on the show. Women are generally more nurturing and understanding that men, if the rolls change will the kids be suffering? This question can be better examined when looking at the TV show, The Office.




The Office is a “mockumentary” showing an empowered woman, who can juggle being a mom and focusing on a career. Pam Beasley is one of the main characters that starts out really timid in the show and later develops into a more assertive woman who makes her dreams of being an artist, a mom, and a sales woman possible (The Office (US) / Characters – TV Tropes). This portrayal of women is pretty rare in sitcoms; they generally do not express a woman’s career goals in the show, let alone show the viewers how important her career is to her.


A possible down side to this super mom portrayal of Pam is that it shows that she has two kids, goes right back to work after having them and the writers do not touch on the fact that the kids are in day care during the day, but just shows her working all day to go home to two kids. In the peer-reviewed article “TV Parents,” it expressed how parents in TV shows are seen as “super human” and are able to do more than is humanly possible as a parent. It also analyzed how people actually interpret television shows; how each person interprets it differently but at the same time they experiences it in the similar ways. (Elizabeth Kuhn-Wilken) We are effected by TV shows and The Office shows how parents are super hero’s, but in reality people are not like this. There is a clip in the episode “Jury Duty” where Jim was gone of Jury Duty for a day, but called in sick for the rest of the week saying that the Court Trail was going to take the whole week. This turned into a big issue when the office found out he had lied about how long the trial actually took. In order to show his coworkers the reason he took the extra time off which was to be at home with his new baby and wife, he brought his family to work to show how much help Pam needs. When Pam brings the kids in, the kids instantly start crying, throwing a fit and the whole office is in shock and end up sending Jim home with his family to help out. This scene is really nice emphasizing that you cannot be a super hero alone, but sometimes working as a team can make it more realistic.


Although dads are becoming more involved in the “house wife” role, the negative view of women in media is still a big issue. In many cases they are viewed as whiny, irritating, and have to fit the perfect picture. But most importantly, women are hardly shown pursuing a career, and if they are, they are these super humans who juggle work, family, an immature husband and everything else. TV shows need to stop portraying woman as magician being able to juggle so much at once, and start showing a significant other in the picture helping out and working together as a team. It’s time for a realistic TV shows that accurately interprets what it is like being a woman in today’s society.



Work Cited

Elizabeth Kuhn-Wilken, Toni Schindler Zimmerman, Jennifer L. Matheson, James H. Banning, Joanna Pepin, Supernanny’s Solutions for Families: An Ethnographic Content Analysis of Parenting Messages on Reality Television, Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 2012, 24, 4, 316

“Family Guy The Griffin Family / Characters – TV Tropes.” Family Guy The Griffin Family /      Characters – TV Tropes. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 July 2015.

Gauntlett, David. Media, Gender, and Identity: An Introduction. London: Routledge, 2002. Print.

“Modern Family Wiki.” Modern Family Wiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 July 2015.

“The Office (US) / Characters – TV Tropes.” The Office (US) / Characters – TV Tropes. N.p., n.d.            Web. 30 July 2015.

The Erasing of Racial Representation in Popular Media


Recently, the movie Aloha starring Bradley Cooper has received a lot of media attention. Various news articles highlighted the movie’s whitewashing of the Hawaiian race and the misuse of the Hawaiian language. To add to the controversy, the creators of the movie chose Emma Stone to play the role of a half Chinese woman named Allison Ng. Sadly, this is not the first movie to have whitewashed characters of colors. Various movies before and after Aloha have chosen to cast white actors in roles that were clearly meant to be played by an actor of color. Movies such as 21, The Lone Ranger, and Argo have cast white actors to play Asian, Native American, and Hispanic characters.  As an Asian American woman, I chose to focus on  the act of race-bending characters who are Asian as well as those who are African, East Asian, Jewish, and Middle Eastern,  in movies such as Cloud Atlas, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, and Exodus: Gods and Kings. I wanted to look further into why having a white actor act as a colored character appeals to the masses, and see how these ‘colored characters’ are portrayed through their appearance, speech and demeanor.

I began my research by watching the three movies I have chosen. I tried my best to keep myself from being biased and focused on gathering details to use as examples of whitewashing in the three movies. The first movie I saw from the group was Exodus: Gods and Kings. The movie is based on the biblical story of the Exodus, and how Moses brought the Jews out of Egypt. It created controversy when it was announced that Christian Bale, an English actor known for his role as Batman, is going to play the part of Moses. To add to the controversy, the main cast of characters that are supposedly Egyptians and Jews are mainly white actors. Though some may not think that it was a big deal to have white actors portray characters from Egypt, others saw it as a racist movie. When director Ridley Scott was asked why he had the main cast be primarily white actors, Scott replied:

“I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such […] I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.” (Foundas, 2014)

After reading Scott’s statement, I began my research to find more information to confirm whether or not movies with actors of color make less than those with white actors. The average gross revenue of a film with a leading white actor is 73 million dollars. While the average gross revenue for a film starring a nonwhite actor is 63 million dollars. (Lee 2014). This brings to attention the selectiveness of the audience and how it impacts which movies are finalized and funded. Hollywood is a business that needs to profit and films with nonwhite actors are not that profitable. Even though movies with nonwhite characters sometimes make a profit from their revenue, it is usually because these movies are made with a lower budget and therefore it was easier to make a profit.


(From Left to Right): Sigourney Weaver as Queen Tuya, Joel Edgerton as Ramses, Christian Bale as Moses, and Hiam Abbass as Bithia.

The further I went into my research on why casting of white actors to play characters of color are needed, I saw that besides money, the concept of the movie also plays a part. For example, Cloud Atlas was created from a book with multiple storylines that connects characters from different timelines, race, and gender together. When this movie was in its planning stages, the writers: Lana and Andy Wachowski, wanted the actors within this movie to transcend the notion of gender, race and time. Therefore, the directors made a decision to cast only six actors and have them play multiple roles throughout the movie. In addition to white actors playing Asian characters, the two women of color, Halle Berry and Doona Bae also played white women in different timelines. Doona Bae also took on the role of a Mexican woman, while Halle Berry played a Korean doctor in Neo Seoul. While the efforts to send a message that we are all alike, and we are all just organisms on Earth, the movie received negative comments on its decision to portray white actors as Asian characters.


Doona Bae as Somni 451 and Halle Berry as Korean doctor, Ovid

    13 14

Doona Bae as Tilda Ewing from 19th Century, and Mexican Woman in 1970s


The Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) felt that the makeup used on the white actors to make them look Asian was offensive and stereotypical. They reported that during the pre-screening of the movie, the audience found it funny that the commander of Neo Seoul looked “terrible, like a Vulcan or Star Trek” (Peberdy, 2014). It was due to the ridiculousness of the prosthetics on the white actors to make them look a certain race that offended the viewers of this movie.

15 16

      British actors Jim Sturgess and Hugo Weaving as Hae-Joo Chang and Boardman Mephi 

While Cloud Atlas received negative comments on their use of prosthetics to alter the race and gender of their characters, movies such as Prince of Persia: Sands of Time choose to present their white actors in darker skin colors. Prince of Persia was made into a movie by Disney Channel after a popular video game of the same name.  The setting of the movie is a mythic land of magic and wonder, but even though it is a fantasy game, the creators of the game animated the characters to look like they are of Middle Eastern descent. However, when Disney began production, they chose the well-known actor, Jake Gyllenhaal, to act as the pauper turned prince. In order to make the white actor more believable as the ‘Prince of Persia’, Jake Gyllenhaal was deeply tanned to match the ethnicity that he is supposed to be. The same technique is used for the major characters throughout the movie to gloss over the fact that they were nowhere near the correct race of the characters they are portraying. The changing of an actor’s skin tone to match their character’s race is called black face (for African, Hispanics, and Middle Eastern characters) or yellow face (for Asian characters). This method was also used on the main characters in Exodus: Gods and Kings and Cloud Atlas to create authenticity.

As I continued watching all three movies, I saw repeating motifs that were present in all three movies.

  1. Despite the main character being portrayed by a white actor, their love interest will always be a woman of color. In Exodus, Christian Bale who played Moses was married to a woman named Zipporah who was played by a Spanish actress, Maria Velverde. In Prince of Persia Jake Gyllenhal who played Prince Dastan was coupled with a princess from another country, who was played by a British actress, Gemma Arterton, and in Cloud Atlas, two of the characters played by Halle Berry were coupled with characters played by Tom Hanks. Additionally, Doona Bae who played Somni-451 in Cloud Atlas became the love interest of Hae-Joo Chang who was played by British actor Jim Sturgess. (Peberdy 2014)
  2. Even though the main cast of each of these movies are played by white actors, actors of colors are often in the background as slaves, servants, or employees to the white actors. This image reflects the notion of the power of the white race over minorities.
  3. The women of color are treated as exotic in all three movies. They are portrayed in scantily dressed clothing, are usually submissive and are often sexualized by the white characters within the three movies.


Jake Gyllenhal and Gemma Arterton in Prince of Persia


    Doona Bae as Somni 451 in Cloud Atlas

  1. The men in power are always white. This is evident in Exodus, where the pharaoh is played by Australian actor, Joel Edgerton, and his advisors and generals are also white actors. In Cloud Atlas, in a dystopia called Neo Seoul, which is supposedly the future Seoul, South Korea, white actors in prosthetics to make them look like Asian men are the employers and military leaders of futuristic South Korea. Prince of Persia showed that the majority of the royal court are played by white actors and the subject are played by Arabic actors.



From my research, I was able to discover the large number of movies that have used race-bending to create an appeal for the audience. My research also led me to connecting with the topic of media literacy. If I was not more aware of understanding the media, I would not have been able to see the repeated portrayal of a white man in power in the movies I saw. This was something that had not crossed my mind until I did research on this topic. For this reason, I believe that media literacy could help break through the barriers that often shield us from seeing the truth. Additionally, this term helped me realize that even though we have made important progress in representations in the media, we still have a lot of room left for improvement. I learned from the various topics posted in the group discussions that even though representations of certain races, gender, and sexuality are becoming more common, it is important that these genders, races, and sexualities are portrayed correctly and not stereotypically.

As I wrap up this research on race-bending and whitewashing of colored characters, I hope that in the future this practice will seem outrageous and ridiculous. If this practice is to be continued, more and more actors of colors will face difficulty breaking away from the stereotype that they can only be in a major movie if they accept mediocre and minor roles. This will show the audience who are eager to see their own race represented on the big screen that even in the imaginary world of film, they are unimportant and replaceable. Therefore, I hope that in the future, Hollywood will be able to create movies that equally represents the diversity and uniqueness of the world they are trying to portray.





-Works Cited:

Foundas, Scott. (2014). “‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ Director Ridley Scott on Creating His Vision of Moses.” Variety, 25 November.

Lee, Kaden (2014). Race in Hollywood: Quantifying the Effect of Race on Movie Performance.

Peberdy, Donna (2014). Narrative trans-actions: Cloud Atlas (2012) and multi-role performance in the global ensemble. Transnational Cinemas, 5(2), 167-180.





Who is the Real Alaskan?


A solitary man travels across the snow-covered tundra by sled, with ice crystals forming on his beard, malamutes relentlessly tugging him along, the northern lights performing its spectacular light show up in the twilight, a log cabin just barely on the horizon, his only sanctuary to protect him against the brutal subzero temperatures. This is an image commonly conjured up when imagining what Alaskans are like: a rugged, individual man’s man traversing an unforgiving land and surviving on only his wits and the little that nature provides him. A powerful, romantic image to be sure, one additionally peppered with kind Eskimos, cartoony igloos, and man-eating bears. But how accurate is such a description of the typical Alaskan? Are all 700,000 citizens eccentric loners struggling in the wilderness? If not, why does such a stereotype persist in our collective mind?


Girly men need not apply. Actual hair shown.

There have been a plethora of reality shows that have been produced in Alaska, all telling essentially the same story: real men escaping the trappings of modern life and braving the harsh elements of “The Final Frontier” in order to live however they want to live. One such show, Edge of Alaska, portrays the small community of McCarthy as a haven for lawlessness and populated by rugged, masculine individuals surviving a brutal, wintry landscape.  Many activities in the show, such as hunting and tracking animals, are dramatized for the sake of engaging television audiences rather than telling an accurate story. There is one episode where a man tracks down a lynx, explaining how dangerous they are, even though cases of lynxes attacking humans are extremely rare, if not nonexistent.

With ominous music playing and frantic camera edits showing harrowing scenes of the Alaskan frontier, Edge of Alaska creates an atmosphere of danger by claiming that the town is 100 miles from a police station, even though there is indeed a police station right in town.  The citizens interviewed for the show were handpicked for their eccentricities that would fit the narrative of Alaska being the home for outcasts, thereby omitting some of the more conventional lives that would dispel such notions. The husky-voiced narrator constantly reminds viewers how no one but half-crazy outlaws would inhabit such a place, perhaps unwittingly attracting real criminals to an otherwise quiet rural setting.

guy“Finally, a place where I can be accepted for who I am.”

Just about every show about Alaska portrays the state this way, but just how independent and iconoclastic are Alaskans? A libertarian, anti-government attitude persists among Alaska’s citizens; however it turns out that of all fifty United States, Alaska receives the most federal money per capita despite paying the least in federal taxes. The image of the lone bushman living solely off the land is put into question knowing the fact that over half of Alaskans live in metropolitan areas such as Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau.[1]

It notable that the quintessential Alaskan is considered to be a hyper-masculine white male, thus relegating Native Alaskans to the sidelines. This is ironic, for it is known that Native Alaskans were the original inhabitants of this great land. This omission suggests that the romanticized myth of the Great White Hunter conquering his surroundings originates from the imagination of contemporary white men. Alaskan cultural studies have demonstrated that Native storytellers “show a complex, mutually supportive relationship between humans and nature” whereas “Euro-Americans frequently position Alaska as … a mythical, yet-to-be-discovered, precultural, prediscursive, and precommercial space still waiting to be conquered.”[2]


The Great White Hunter

So, with the Alaskan stereotype being a white invention, to what purpose does it serve the contemporary Caucasian? Perhaps post-industrial man has regarded the cultured, comfortable urban life as too far removed from what he perceives as the more superior experience of battling an unforgiving wilderness. Perhaps modern man considers his disposition as too domesticated and effeminate, yearning for a mythological time where real men would test their mettle against the elements thus proving to themselves that they were true paragons of masculinity.

Alaska, then, would provide the perfect setting for such macho aspirations to venture in a land not yet civilized or tainted by modern society. Alaska would serve as a vision of what America used to be, back in the days of pioneers and gold panners. Alaska would exist in the dreams of men as a place where one could truly reclaim one’s manhood outside of an increasingly artificial suburban wasteland. “So  many people live within unhappy circumstances,” a young Christopher McCandless writes, “and yet will not … change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security …, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.”[3] He, like many men, sought something more raw, authentic, and liberating.

The Alaskan tourism industry thrives on such notions, attracting people from all over to escape from their mundane lives and experience real, risk-taking adventure. It is ironic for all its perceived rugged individualism, Alaska’s economy relies heavily not only on government (its largest employer), but on its increasingly lucrative tourism business.[2] With its presumption as being more American than America, Alaska fills a psychological need for Americans to relive their collective memory of a land unsettled and free.

gal                                More American than you could ever dream.                                                          

A television show such as Northern Exposure takes this need and not only satisfies the hunger, but pokes fun at it, and explores it with unparalleled depth not seen in other Alaskan-themed shows. The premise of the show is essentially an isolated Alaskan setting that accommodates for each person to be an unapologetic, eccentric individual. It identifies each character’s ideology and temperament based on social class, background, and how they treat one another. For instance, some of the more urbane, elitist characters who try to impose some kind of unilateral law and order in the rural town setting are constantly rebuffed by the more community-minded characters.

Using Alaska as a setting for a story, the authors were free to write colorful characters getting into absurd situations due to the wild, untamed aura surrounding it. Alaskan stereotypes are subverted, not only for the sake of humor but for the sake of revealing the true humanity of the characters portrayed. The show represented a place where people could ultimately get along despite their differences in a beautiful, unspoiled wilderness.[4] This familiar nostalgia of a place of where community and empathy are paramount is in direct opposition to the anxiety-ridden, alienating realm of contemporary society that we exist in today.

In conclusion, it is apparent to me that the Alaskan stereotype is a manifestation of the rural American folk hero (ie Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed) from the minds of modern, urbanized man. The mythos persists for both psychological and economical reasons, providing a pre-civilized state of being for the American who tires of his domesticated livelihood, and providing revenue for a state that continually exploits this branding to attract such people.


Doing this research assignment I learned a lot about the American consciousness with its cultural peculiarities emphasizing masculinity yet with society simultaneously promoting domestication. I understand why people of all walks of life travel up to Alaska, whether for embarking on wild adventures, appreciating nature, or attempting to find themselves as well as seeking greater truths about life. I amusingly realized how many of the common stereotypes and myths about Alaskans were propagated by Alaskans themselves, including myself. I take a lot of pride in where I come from, so I guess any chance that I can talk up my homeland, it is apparent that I am willing to use any means necessary!

There is a lot of truth to the soul-searching aspect for travelers in Alaska. I have met many a person abandoning their comfort zones to come up there, some of them choosing to stay and become real Alaskan citizens. It is fascinating how this state serves as an outlet for people wishing to escape the confines of their daily humdrum. These facts further enhance my feelings of being blessed for being born and raised in such a great, unique land.


Works Cited & Sources


[1] Drutman, Lee. “Alaska: Land of Contradictions.” Pacific Standard.  n.p., 2 Oct. 2008.  Web.

[2] Hogan, Maureen P. &  Pursell, Timothy. “The Real Alaskan: Nostalgia and Masculinity in the Last    Frontier.” Men and Masculinities 11.1 (2008): 63-85. Web.

[3] Krakuer, Jon. Into the Wild. New York City: Villard, 1996. 56-57. Print.

[4] Gatzke, Jennifer. “Northern Exposure: A Site for Hegemonic Structure?” Department of Anthropology. University of Idaho, April 2003. Web.

Everything is Terrible!. “Alaskan Hunks.” Web Advertisement. Vimeo. Apr 2015.

“Pilot” & “Brains, Know-How, and Native Intelligence.” Northern Exposure. CBS. 12 & 19 July 1990. Television.

“Winter’s Grip.” Edge of Alaska. Discovery. 9 July 2014. Television.

News Media: Generalization of Arab/Muslims

News Media: Generalization of Arab/Muslims
By Zade Al-Khatatbeh

There is a fine line between stereotypes and perceptual media facts. What do I mean exactly? Most news you hear about Arabs and Muslims are about extremism and those are the main headlines in the US. That being said, the media expresses information with bias and with a one sided agenda. Ever since the 9/11 attack which was a tragedy and changed many people’s lives including my own, the media has slowly been feeding this idea that when they speak about extremism they say Muslim countries as if everyone is painted by the same brush stroke. If I told you there are Muslim countries not in the Middle East like in Malaysia, Bangladesh and etc., you won’t ever hear about these countries because they are not Arabs. Main stream Islam is what most of the 1.57 billion people around the world specifically the US, Europe, Canada, South America, Asia, and Africa. The media is filled with information that is not pertinent, but using major headlines about extremism mixed with mainstream Islam and the countries that practice; this is where diversifying the difference between these developed stereotypes the news has been spreading to the actual facts.

maz-memeWe often mistake in choosing the trustworthy source of news. If you’re an avid consumer of mainstream news and media there is a lot of one way biases towards headlines, especially when it comes to Arabs and Muslims. One scenario is where CNN will try to justify stereotypes that have developed over years that have never been factual. For instance, Reza Aslan is a well-known religious scholar and has written many books about religions and countries that abide by the standards. CNN decided to invite Reza Aslan to talk about how Bill Maher’s show is correct about Islam and extremism as one single commodity. Reza Aslan fired back with correct information and was correcting the news anchors. In this example one of the anchors repeatedly said that all the countries dealing with extremism and many of the African and world issues were coming from “Muslim countries”. This is where it got interesting because when he corrected her on all those issues they are not Muslim problems, but all the countries around the Middle East. This is where I shook my head and realized that the news castors were trying to justify a stereotype and had a very distinct bias towards Muslims from the interview. At the end this interview was about commenting to Bill Maher’s idea that we should focus all our attention in the Middle East and all Muslims. Reza Aslan pointed out the ignorance and stubbornness within the interview, trying to justify their idea on extremism and mainstream Muslims rather than showing the effort to understand the true practice.


Satire and comedians also have effect on the world. Real Time with Bill Maher is an HBO show that mainly focuses on satire, but there are instances where there are serious conversations that impact the audience. Bill Maher invited some people that were thought to not be as educated as him or to have lack of facts to prove their argument. Ben Affleck was one of the people invited and he was not interested in the generalization of Bill Maher’s conversation about Islam as a whole. He was not showing information about other religions or any countries in this interview but arguing a point that wasn’t sustainable and comprehensive to Ben Affleck. Bill Maher did not ever talk about the Muslims in the US or the UK or any European countries or other Asian countries other than Middle East area. There is about 1.6 Billion Muslims around the world which sums up to be 23% of the world’s population. Bill Maher took information from one spot of the world and generalized it to all. Watching this interview unfold on Bill Maher it was convincing in the end Affleck couldn’t say much more then what was on his mind. The argument that Bill Maher was trying to prove which was about Islam was facts that feed to his own audience and wanted to hear this media consumption.


US news has a major effect worldwide. In most of the world they follow the trend of what the US news is saying. CNN which is a worldwide and very well established media giant, and Fox news, another news giant, are examples of widely effective sources. Despite the fact, they still report biases including when Reza Aslan was invited to talk about his book released in 2014. The interview was to talk about his accomplishment of this book then was turned around to talk about his religious faith without positive remarks towards the book at all. Reza Aslan as a scholar of Religions and knows what he’s talking about in his book through research. The news castor was pretty much attacking Reza Aslan until he came back with information that kept her quiet through the whole broadcast about religion and his personal faith towards Islam. In Germany and most of Europe this type of news affects their countries it will play follow the leader(US being the leader) and have more stories about the bad of Arabs/Islam than the positive, and good things that the Muslim communities bring back to their societies in the US and Europe. US news is very much portraying a bias and it is affecting communities around the world which is strengthening these stereotypes, and making people more paranoid.


There aren’t stories or information about why extremist do the things they do. The news portrays it as doing it for religion. Mostly it’s about power in a region and using whoever they can to get what they want even at their expense. I watched a movie about a true story. I met the director last year at a movie festival. His name is Nabil Ayouch and I asked him what the purpose of this movie was? His response was “to educate people that even the poorest and the most uneducated people in any country can be taken advantage of and be used to do things for people that give them specialness by giving them attention and care”. The movie Horses of God was about a few kids who grew up with nothing, growing up with no food or education. They were discarded from the world and have never been out of their rural village. A Muslim radical who used these kids to do his work by blowing up a hotel in the middle of Casablanca. It was clear to represent children’s lives were like, when a guy uses religion to take them out of the city to pay for food and shelter. The leader uses these kids to create a tragic act. Nabil Ayouch explained in the after film discussion after filming, that these children were not educated and were very easily manipulated into setting off bombs just like the other 11 people around Morocco that were a part of this massive attack. I recommend watching and analyzing this film with an open mind to hopefully see what the director is trying to explain. The manipulation method unfortunately has been used for many years worldwide to get people to do their bidding and use religion as a source. This manipulation method to get people to hurt other people is not mainstream Islam, but a radicalized version that is prohibited in all Arab countries to be used or practiced in any country. This movie was a shock to watch and gets you to really think about how these people are being manipulated. The movie won countless awards in Europe, Middle East, and US (but never played in theaters).

OMMlolsnapsHorses of God can be found on Netflix; Movie Review:

One of my learning moments was analyzing the media and our communities. I was able to understand how much of an impact media and communities respond to different influences. As I dug deeper into the research on media consumption there are habits, stereotypes, and ideology that is transferred directly and indirectly to audiences. One example in class was about a reading in class where John Berger explains how glamorized products, styles, and information can affect our own thoughts. BBC documentary Ways of Seeing was eye opening. I was able to understand the changes people have had from media. Understanding John Berger’s documentary got me thinking about media stereotypes. This brought out another learning moment from class about communities and being aware of stereotypes. I was never into thinking stereotypes were something that would affect me or any community. Until, I did more analyzed research. Checked media groups that expressed news with bias and most of the time they had an inherent bias towards a story. I checked into Arab and Muslim stories 90% of those stories were about extremism and maybe 10% were small stories about communities doing little good in the world. This learning moment helped me understand the stereotypes that surround me and the tools to research effectively.

There is a wide variety of stereotypes and it is affecting the world especially people in the Arab and Muslim community. September 11 2001, a day that political views and stereotypes destroyed any good views about Arab/Muslim communities had long residue effect on media. Reza Aslan became a big activist after the two encounters over the news stations about him being Muslim and the image of Islam that Bill Maher was painting to the world. As mentioned above, after Reza Aslan saw Bill Maher/large news channels trying to paint the world into his/their stereotypes towards Muslims, Aslan became a big activist to advocate for his community. CNN and Fox news and other news stations that have established worldwide viewers really affect the trending headlines of Arab Muslims and change those headlines to “Muslim Terrorist attacks…” then it becomes an issue for all the Arab/ Muslim communities the 1.6 billion people around the world. The movie Horses of God, shows this type of extremism can happen in any country or any place whether or not it is Islam. That is the broken stereotype no Muslim countries follow a radical or extreme agenda these are people looking for power and throughout history many leader have used this method to take over land and political control. My learning moments from class have impacted my thoughts on news and media. I’m much more aware of stereotypes and the bias stories that affect communities. The media is filled with information that is not pertinent, but using major headlines about extremism mixed with mainstream Islam causes situations in Muslim communities all over the world, and shouldn’t use these headlines so boldly when there is no correlation to mainstream Islam to what the news says with bias.


Al-Rawi, Ahmed. “The Representation Of September 11Th And American Islamophobia In Non-Western Cinema.” Media, War & Conflict 7.2 (2014): 152-164. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 24 July 2015.
Ayouch, Nabil. “Horses of God.” Netflix. 13 Feb. 2013. Movie. 6 July 2015

“Bill Maher Destroyed Again And Again by Reza Aslan” The Young Turks. YouTube. 30 Sep. 2014 Web. 13

“Fox News- anchor to Reza Asla- But your Muslim, right?.” YouTube, 28 July 2013. Web. 20 July 2015

Heeren, Jörg, and Andreas Zick. “Misleading Images: Results From Interviews With Media Producers, Journalists And Consumers On Muslims And Islam In German Media.” Middle East Journal Of Culture & Communication 7.1 (2014): 46-63. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 24 July 2015.

Karim, Karim H. “No God But God: The Origins, Evolution, And Future Of Islam.” Global Media Journal: Canadian Edition 4.2 (2011): 133-135. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 24 July 2015.

Maher, Bill.” Real Time with Bill Maher.” HBO. YouTube. 6 Oct. 2014. Web 10 July 2015

Asian Stereotypes and Misconceptions in American Popular Media

        Recently I have been doing some research on common Asian traits in popular media. There exist a number of distinguishable attributes that people believe belong to Asians in the U.S. Admittedly, some of them are commonly seen. However through my research, I found that there are plenty of traits that are not entirely accurate and therefore cause misunderstandings and conflicts.

        From the year 2011, the CBS show 2 broke girls has been drawing a lot of attention from both audience and media. This show became extremely popular within a short period of time. One of the major reasons that it turned out a huge success is the constant jokes the characters make and the diverse dynamic environment. A big selling point of this show is the storyline that developed around the different cultural identity of the characters. Among them, Han Lee is a typical Asian, Korean to be specific, diner owner upon whom a number of jokes are derived.


Han wearing a “talk to the Han” t-shirt in a part in order to socialize with people.

        Most of the jokes on Han focus on his Asian identity and stereotypes. As we all know, some of the general traits assigned to Asians are short, nerdy, competitive, submissive(in spite of the fact that he is the manager), compliant, etc. Han serves to be a good representation of these stereotypes and the show sure takes advantage of that by making jokes regarding to them. However, there are many contrasts I found between Han and Asians in real life. The depiction of Han in the show emphasizes his awkward personality which, based on my observation, is not possessed by most Asian people. Through my years in the U.S., my Asian friends appear to be just as social as my American friends, if not more so. They enjoy meeting new people and make new friends. As a matter of fact, Asians are very good at socializing which serves as a contributing factor of the fact that most people know each other within a Asian community. This being said, the portrait of Han being socially awkward is not very realistic.

        For people who grow up in a Asian culture, which is very different from the U.S. culture, it is inherently difficult for them to fit in the western culture since sometimes social protocols they are  not familiar with appear to be hard for them to follow. Being someone from China, I know I am not even close to being as familiar with American Culture as Han. A majority of jokes he makes are in reference of current cultural and political events, so much so that sometimes I need to look up on the Internet to understand the jokes. I can never imagine someone who spent most of his time outside the country being so familiar with U.S. culture that he can refer to and joke about it as well as Han does.     

        Another inaccurate depictions of characters from Asian culture in popular media is found in the Disney movie Mulan. In this film, our heroine is portrayed as a powerful and strong female role model to young girls. Although Mulan does represent many of the tradition Chinese moralities, she has some strong western attributes that one can find in a modern white girl. In the article “Mulan: the White Feminist”, the author also argues that “the movie Mulan falsely presents a dichotomy of Asian powerlessness and Western power, therefore, saying that the only way to be an empowered, strong female is by abandoning Asian traditions and living solely the Western way.” It is obvious that Disney intended to cater to American audiences’ taste which may be understandable since considering that Disney’s target audience is American children and teenagers and the nature of animated movies is never by the book. Even though some room of fabrication may be allowed, the Disney Mulan still delivers a modernized, and therefore false picture of a traditional Chinese figure.


Mulan portrayed as a strong, independent woman

        If one intends to see a precise representation of traditional Asian figure and values, a Japanese film named Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki will be a good source. This film tells a story of a little girl Sen’s adventurous journey in a magical world. Besides the elaborate production and beautiful picture, the reason people like Spirited Away is the traditional moralities reflected by Sen.

        Ever since entered the magic world she has encountered the most trying situations. Even then she has never forget the valued virtues. As introduced in the article “An Introduction to Basic Asian Values”, these morals involve family, education, benevolence, obligation, endurance, sacrifice, loss of honor, etc. These most basic yet important Asian moralities have significant influences on Asian traits and behaviors. As presented in Spirited Away, Sen endures heavy labor assigned by the owner of the bath house, forgives the giant baby who has bullied her, uses her valuable medicine to save her friend’s and even a stranger’s lives. Moral features like these make the movie exotic and intriguing. These behaviors are rooted in the traditional Japanese values, such as benevolence, obligation and endurance. Thanks to works like this, Americans can have a closer look to Asian cultures and have a better understanding of Asian people’s thoughts and behaviors.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will expand its three-month celebration of anime with a screening of the 2002 Oscar¨-winning animated feature ÒSpirited AwayÓ on Friday, July 17, at 7:30 p.m., and ÒA Tribute to Animation Master Hayao MiyazakiÓ on Tuesday, July 28, at 7:30 p.m. Both events will take place at the AcademyÕs Samuel Goldwyn Theater and will include extended gallery hours for the AcademyÕs ongoing exhibition ÒANIME! High Art Ð Pop Culture.Ó Pictured here: SPIRITED AWAY, 2002.

Sen sitting with no-face and a pig transformed from the big baby.


        One of the biggest learning moment I have experienced in this class was the group discussion session. Because I signed up for an unpopular time there were only one other colleague and the mentor with me in the conversation. In spite of the lack of a big crowd, I obtained a lot of useful information and insight throughout the session and enjoyed contributing to other people’s project. Before the discussion I had a relatively idea what I wanted to write about that, unfortunately, I did not have primary sources for it. The discussion group helped me straighten out my thesis and brainstormed possible primary sources to support it. 

        For the draft of the big picture post, I received two very useful peer reviews. Some of their suggestions about the thesis and wording of my draft overlapped which I do not think is a coincidence. I read through the reviews multiple times and realized these problems have always existed when I write a paper assignment. Thanks to these reviews, I put an emphasis on my issues on thesis. 

The Black Career Woman


The portrayals of black women have changed considerably over the past few decades. As professors Jennifer Bailey Woodard and Teresa Mastin (2005) state, portrayals of black women were only relegated to “the mammy [think Hattie McDaniel], the matriarch, the sexual siren and the welfare mother or queen” (p. 266). However, now media portrayals are starting to take into account the new roles that black woman are taking on in society such as the career woman, a portrayal that I identify with personally. Nevertheless, upon examining the portrayals of black career women in the media, I discovered that while the functions of these women vary (ranging from lawyers, police officers, doctors and more), there are two commonalities that are consistently displayed among them – they exhibit some form of the “black boss lady” stereotype and they are portrayed with straight hair.

Hattie McDaniel who played typical “Mammy” roles.

To begin, lists the trope “Black Boss Lady” as being more or less comprised of these characteristics:

  • Rules “with an iron first” (authoritative)
  • Probably oversees men
  • Incredibly competent as she’s had to prove her worth as “black” and “woman.”
  • Generally characterized as “by the book” at first glance, but with time is revealed to be quite complex.
  • Race is never mentioned (only her status as a woman is acknowledged).
  • Professional dresser (almost masculine)
  • Never exhibits the “Sassy Black Woman” trope

I decided to analyze three characters from three different popular shows featuring black woman as the lead: Olivia Pope on Scandal (portrayed by Kerry Washington), Jessica Pearson on Suits (portrayed by Gina Torres) and Abigail “Abbie” Mills on Sleepy Hollow (portrayed by Nicole Beharie).

Olivia Pope is a lawyer who runs her own business as a type of “fixer” and fits the “black boss lady” stereotype to a T. She is authoritative, outspoken and is a fantastic dresser (professional yet stylish). In fact there was a special line of clothing put out based on her clothing at The Limited a year ago. Olivia is both feared and admired and she does not hesitate to show her authority. For example, during Scandal’s premiere episode, Olivia showed no real regard for an employee whom she chose to hire and upon meeting the woman had no problem telling her outright that she was showing too much cleavage. Nonetheless, Olivia is professional, displaying a “business as usual” demeanor, yet in no way does she exhibit the “sassy black woman trope.” In addition, while I have not yet seen every episode of Scandal, the few that I’ve seen so far have not made mention of her race.

Similar to Olivia, is Jessica Pearson, who is a named partner in her law firm. Jessica exudes femininity yet power. Unlike typical female lawyer attire (consisting of pant or skirt suits), Jessica wears dresses with dramatic hemlines, bold prints and high heels which, already being a tall woman, causes her to tower over (at least be eye level with) her mostly male colleagues. In spite of this, Jessica is not treated like a siren. She rules with an iron fist and is the go-to person for any decisions that need to be made. She makes it known that she is not a pushover in any form and has no problem cutting anyone down who goes behind her back or approaches situations in a way that she does not like. For example, in one episode she calmly yet coldly chided a co-worker for not obtaining a client a certain way “like a man.” However, just like Olivia, she never exhibits the “sassy black woman” characteristics. In addition, while Suits has been on for five seasons, there are very few occasions where Jessica’s race is mentioned. One reference is made in the episode titled, “No Refills” where she converses with a fellow black female colleague about attending a convention featuring a well-regarded and successful black female doctor.

Finally, there’s Abigail Mills who does not quite fit the “black boss lady” in its entirety as she is not a boss, however, she is still someone of authority being a lieutenant in the police force. Abigail is level-headed and a logical thinker (in spite of encountering supernatural events regularly). She is also intelligent, outspoken, and very “no-nonsense.” She has no problem taking control of situations and people if necessary. For example, she was willing to extend investigative access to a specific event to a reporter but made it very clear that it would only happen on her terms. Even in moments of anger and fear, she always demonstrates poise and a sense of responsibility (probably resulting from her police officer training). Like Jessica and Olivia, Abigail fails to display the “sassy black woman” characteristics. In addition, despite the fact that Sleepy Hollow has a cast that is rich in diversity, Abbie’s race is only mentioned very sparingly. For the two times that it’s been mentioned on the show so far, it’s been to detail historical accuracy for the treatment of blacks in her partner Ichabod’s (a white man who is over 200 years’ old) time.

While viewing these women, the final (and most important) commonality that I linked between them is their straight hair. As a black woman I know that their texture is most likely doctored in some way either with a flat-iron, relaxers, or wigs. This relays an idea that straight hair equals “professional” and “successful” and perhaps even “acceptable.” Julia Robins, a writer for Ms Magazine also discovered this, noting the few episodes where both Kerry Washington and Viola Davis (from How to Get Away With Murder) were featured very briefly with their natural curly hair. Strangely enough, the audience only got a glimpse of this when both characters were either at home or on vacation. She suggests that “Washington’s natural curls are associated with sex and fantasy, while her straight hair has been repeatedly associated with power and success.”

It appears that the media characteristics of the “black boss lady” trope and straight hair are in fact both reflective of the real world standards that black women encounter in the professional world. bell hooks notes this in her essay “Straightening Our Hair.” She states that the “need to look as much like white people as possible, to look safe, is related to a desire to succeed in the white world.” (p. 2) bell details her conversations with other black career women where they expressed their leeriness of going natural out of fear that they’d lose the approval of others (p. 3) Unfortunately, this is not just an invention of the black culture as bell notates that while interviewing at Yale, she was advised against wearing braids or “large natural” hairstyles for the interview by other white women (p. 4). Robins also notates how NYMag categorized Olivia Pope’s hair in an article about Scandal hairstyles. The message of curly hair was “escaping my life” while her straight hair said “The Pope is back.”

Ella Louise Bell, a professor currently at Tucker University, conducted extensive research on black career women and their experiences living as black women in a mostly white world. She discovered a few interesting things: 1) In research, black women are generally placed under the categories “women” or “black,” thus “the combined category ‘black women’ is often invisible.” (p. 460) 2) black women often have to assume a “corporate identity” which is generally identified by being “masculine and white.” In fact, here are the exact words of one participant in the study:

The white world is where I feel at the most risk. I show my white side here, which means I must be more strategic, not as spontaneous. My white side is precise and accurate. Plus, I do not want to share events from my black experience in the white world. There are no other blacks to legitimize my experiences…” (p. 473)

Bell points out the negative stereotypes of black women, mainly “aggressive, controlling, authoritarian, militant, and hostile” and that black women often find themselves falling into this stereotypes as they try to adjust in a bi-cultural world (p. 475). I see semblances of these stereotypes in the characters I observed, even Abigail, who, once again, is not in a position of power to the same degree as Jessica and Olivia, however, she is “militant,” and using the participant’s quote above, she is very strategic and precise.

I believe that these type of subliminal messages in society provide an explanation behind the somewhat stereotypical portrayals of Olivia, Jessica, and Abigail. These are black women who are striving for successful careers in a mostly white world and in order to do that with some degree of success, they must wear straight hair, exhibit certain specific corporate characteristics and never (or rarely) mention anything about race – in other words, to appear white. To break these “rules” would upset the balance of the bi-cultural world that black career women find themselves tiptoeing in on a constant basis. The commonalities reflected in these media portrayals is the need to conform in order to be accepted and succeed in a white culture.

Learning Moments

One significant learning moment for me was our discussion on media literacy at the start of the term and the importance of thoroughly examining articles to determine (and question) their relevance, accuracy and any hidden agendas. For example, reading the article “The Urgency of Visual Media Literacy in our Post-911 world: Reading Images of Muslim Women in the Print News Media” by Diane Watt really struck a cord with me regarding media literacy. Especially when Watt pointed out pictures can actually be deceiving because they can be pulled out of context and twisted to fit the agenda of the article/author. Her borrowed image of a Muslim girl standing in a crowd of other Muslim women shrouded in black seems to signify “oppression,” but Watt points out that “these are Turkish Shia’a women observing Ashura, which is an Islamic holy day of mourning. In general, mourners are expected to wear black. In light of this information, the women’s attire makes more sense to those who might otherwise have automatically assumed it to be a sign of female oppression” (p. 6). This article made me realize that a lot of times, the media does NOT give us the full picture. It is up to us as consumers to research the sometimes hidden context. It would be folly for us to rely entirely on the media.

Another significant learning moment for me was the use of stereotypes in the media; specifically, how many stereotypes were actively utilized in the media that I was not actively aware of until this term (I was already quite familiar with the “Doltish Dad” stereotype). TV Tropes played a large part in this (I was unaware of the site until this term). For example, the article that we read titled “Star Types and their Stereotypes – Maggie Q and Lucy Liu” by Mike Hale and his summation of Asian women being either portrayed as a “sexy nerd” or “dragon ladies and ninja killers.” Being a black woman, this is not something that I really paid attention to (because I don’t identify with it). This article was eye opening, especially since it listed TV characters that I actually watch and like such as Lucy Liu in Elementary and Sandra Oh in Grey’s Anatomy. This realization gave me a heightened awareness to stereotypes on TV (since all races and both sexes have them). And it’s also given me a desire to truly scrutinize TV characters to see if they’re only in the show to fulfill a stereotype (i.e. a doltish dad in a sitcom). As this article pointed out, some of these stereotypes are changing but while an Asian female character (for example) on TV can be more “evolved” she may still have some semblance of this stereotype bubbling under her surface.

Finally one of the most important learning moments for me was the portrayal of my identity (black career woman) in the media. Prior to this term, I was all too aware of black women choosing straight hair for a variety of reasons but reading about the bi-cultural influences for this choice and the similar personal characteristics that black female characters in a position of power portray on TV was eye-opening. As a black woman living in a bi-cultural world, I was astounded by some of things that other black women were saying in the study by Bell (1990) because many were reflective of my own experiences in a professional (mostly white) world.


Bell, E.L. (1990). The Bicultural Life Experience of Career-Oriented Black People. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 11(6), 459-477. Retrieved from http://

Black Boss Lady. (n.d).  In  TVtropes. Retrieved July 29, 2015 from pmwiki.php/Main/BlackBossLady.

Davis, A.P (2014, September 28). The Most Important Hair on Last Night’s Scandal. Retrieved from

hooks, b. (1989). Straightening Our Hair. In bell hooks (ed). Talk Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black. New York: South End Press.

Robins, J. (2015, February 3). Kerry Washington’s “Professional” Hair. Retrieved from

Woodard J.B., and Mastin T. (2005). Black Womanhood: “Essence” and its Treatment of Stereotypical Images of Black Women. Journal of Black Studies, 36(2), 264-281. Retrieved from

Sexy, Sassy, Spicy: The Portrayal of Latina Women in American Television


Sexy, sassy and spicy are the three s’s commonly used to describe Latinas portrayed in film, television, and sometimes even daily life. However, there is often another s-word that is often forgotten when describing portrayals of Latinas: stereotyped. Latina characters have been a part of American media since the beginning of the film industry, with the beautiful Dolores del Río playing the exotic and passionate lover in the 1920s, and Carmen Miranda playing sexy and bombshell characters in the 1930s and 1940s.

Those same limiting roles of promiscuous, fiery and exotic women they had back then still prevail to this day. Josefina Lopez, the writer of Real Women Have Curves, agrees by affirming that “most of the time when we see Latinas, we see male fantasies in an exoticized, eroticized Latina. This whole hot señorita thing has always been around, since the beginning of time” (Latinos Beyond Reel). These “hot señorita” roles can also be seen in many recent television shows. This is becoming a real problem because Latino/as make up about 17 percent of the US population, making them the largest ethnic group in the country with over 53 million people and counting (Negrón-Muntaner 1). Despite the glaring fact that Latino/as have a fast growing presence in American culture, television has yet to fully embrace the idea of positive, non-stereotypical Latina characters in its contemporary shows of Modern Family, Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin.

The spicy Latina stereotype is emulated in the television show Modern Family created by Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd in 2009. The stereotype is seen though the character Gloria Delgado-Pritchett played by Sophia Vergara. Gloria is portrayed as a sexy trophy wife that wears a lot of provocative, skin-tight clothing and high-heeled shoes. She often also has trouble pronouncing English words. Nearly every episode of the show incorporates an argument between Gloria and another member of her blended family, but more often than not it’s with her much older husband, Jay. These arguments are often for comedic effect, but they constantly reinforce the stereotype that Latinas are spicy and hot-headed.

In the episode “Disneyland,” Gloria is criticized by Jay for not bringing practical shoes to wear on the vacation, as she only brought heels, and that offends her. Near the end of the episode the conflict is resolved when Jay brings Gloria slippers for her to wear, which is sweet until he tells her to calm down and not “go all Latin on him,” insinuating that she would yell at him loudly in incomprehensible Spanish. That remark can very easily be taken offensively by Latinas because not all of them behave like that. The identity of Latina incorporates people of more than 20 Spanish speaking countries, so generalizing all of them in such a way is hurtful.

Link to the “Disneyland” episode where Jay tells Gloria to not “go all Latin” on him:


Even Sofia Vergara has faced criticism from the Latino community for her portrayal of Latina women. Lifestyle and popular culture blogger Tanisha Love Ramirez criticizes Vergara’s support of her character Gloria and points out that, “The problem here is that the idea of the curvy, sexy and sultry Latina denies many Latinas their cultural identification based on their physical appearances and sexual attractiveness, alone.” Not only does the portrayal deny Latinas of their cultural identification, but it perpetuates a stereotype that has long been engrained in American media.

Four years after the creation of Modern Family, Orange is the New Black (OITNB) premiered on Netflix, featuring a plethora of supporting characters from different cultural backgrounds, including Latinas. While technically not a “television show” in the traditional broadcasting sense, OITNB still has episodes and seasons and is available for purchase from cable providers like Xfinity On Demand. OITNB features seven reoccurring Latina characters of Gloria Mendoza, Dayanara Diaz, Marisol “Flaca” Gonzales, Blanca Flores, Maria Ruiz, Aleida Diaz, and Maritza Ramos. These characters perpetuate Latina stereotypes of sexy, sassy and spicy women as Flaca and Maritza are often shown being insubordinate to the prison guards and Dayanara is impregnated by one of the guards. Gloria, Maria and Aledia embody spiciness as they are often quick to temper and aren’t shy about it. The portrayal of these women can be considered offensive to Latinas because of how they are in prison and how they behave in it.

While those stereotypes are active and present in OITNB, the show is actually a step in the right direction for portrayals of Latinas because the characters show development, which is unlike Gloria Delgado-Pritchett from Modern Family who after all this time is still the sexy trophy wife. At least with OITNB characters like Flaca, who adores Depeche Mode and the Smiths, have interests outside of their cultural norm.

Blogger Alex Abad-Santos expresses that “It might be hard to understand why Flaca’s musical taste matters unless you’ve grown up watching television shows where no one looks like or behaves like you,” which is a reality for Latinas because they hardly see positive, accurate representations of themselves on television. OITNB has set somewhat of an example in creating Latina characters that are relatable and humanistic; therefore, paving the way for television shows like Jane the Virgin.



Jane the Virgin premiered on the CW in October 2014. The show features an almost all Latino cast, which has only been seen a few times in the new millennium with the George Lopez Show, Ugly Betty and Devious Maids. The main Latina characters are Jane, Xiomara and Alba Gloriana Villanueva, and out of the three, Xio is the most stereotypical. This is due to the fact that she embodies the sexy Latina trope, wearing tight, revealing clothing and often flirting with many men, which is seen throughout the show and through flashbacks. The other two women are less stereotypical, making them more believable in the melodramatic, farcical world they belong to.,0,2600,1733/  20141008hdVirginMag.jpg

Jane (left) and her mother Xiomara (right).,0,2600,1733/20141008hdVirginMag.jpg

The show itself is one of the most progressive and nuanced shows featuring Latina characters. Ivonne Coll, who plays Alba Villanueva describes it as “not a Hispanic show, but it is a show about a Hispanic family,” which tells the audience that the show is meant to appeal to viewers of all ethnicities rather than it being a token show focused solely on Latinos and their culture (Ryan). This in part is do to the show’s writers who welcome suggestions from the actors to make it seem more authentic than over the top. Avid watcher, Amy Zimmerman, praises the show and believes that “by making Jane an actual human, as opposed to a stereotype or the butt of a joke, the series begins to normalize the notion of a female, Hispanic lead on a mainstream television program,” which is accurate. The only real stereotype is Xiomara, and she isn’t even the title character.

Though snubbed by the Emmy’s, Jane the Virgin was recognized at the 2015 Golden Globes when Gina Rodriguez, the actress that plays Jane, won for Best Actress in a TV Comedy. In her acceptance speech, Rodriguez emotionally announced that the award “represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes,” which shows that maybe Jane the Virgin can truly enlighten television producers and set a precedent for including more Latina heroes and less stereotypes in future shows (Entertainment Tonight). Granted, Jane the Virgin is not completely free of stereotypes, but perhaps the leaps and bounds it has made will spawn more progress.

There is no denying the fact that Latinos account for a fairly big percentage of US population, yet it is clear that American television has been having a hard time accepting it. It continues to portray Latina women using the tried and true s’s of sexy, sassy and spicy, even though it puts Latinas in a bad light. The perfect example of that is Sofia Vergara’s role of Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, who is still the same sexy, spicy character she was six seasons ago. Thankfully there has been a smidgen of progress with shows like Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin that have given their characters depth and development among the stereotypes they still perpetuate. Hopefully some day in the near future young Latina women will be able to turn on the television to see positive and accurate representations of themselves that can be described with three different s’s: smart, successful, and strong.

—-Learning Moments—-

Being a Latina in the United States can be hard, especially when you are constantly surrounded by stereotypes that tell you you have to act and look a certain way or you don’t exist. Researching how my identity of being Latina is portrayed in television shows that I, along with my peers, are familiar with was a real learning experience. I was most influenced to write about my Latina identity though the first blog assignment that I had for this Popular Culture class where we had to read the article “The Evolution of the Doltish Dad” by Hannah Rosin. I was inspired because Rosin describes how fathers have been portrayed in the same goofy way for decades and that only “until very recently, a guy who wanted to stay at home or be earnest about fatherhood could not see his image reflected on TV, which essentially meant he did not exist” (Rosin). That quote really struck me as I could relate to feeling like I didn’t exist in the eyes of the society I live in because I wasn’t a stereotypical Latina with Sofia Vergara’s body. I appreciated that Rosin draws attention to the portrayal of dads because of how the stereotypes have “become a genuine block to social progress,” which is my reasoning for writing my blog post as well. If Latinas are a part of the largest growing ethnic group in America, then that needs to be represented in television. Unfortunately, our stereotypes are in the way of that, among other things.

The other blog assignment that I learned a lot from was in the third week when we read a transcript of the radio program The American Life featuring journalist Sarah Vowell. In the piece Vowell discusses an incident where Al Gore was misquoted during his political campaign and how it snowballed, causing him unnecessary negative attention. At one point, Vowell poses the question, “If it’s not accurate, is it not true?” (Glass). I was struck by Vowell’s question because it really make me think about not only journalism, but other forms of media portrayals. I formulated my own answer to that question in this blog post about Latinas and how the portrayals of them in television are not accurate and therefore not true. Unfortunately most writers write what they know to be true, which in my case happens to be stereotypes. If there were more enlightened or authentic Latino writers on those television shows, then maybe the portrayals would e more accurate and ultimately true.

These assignments and this class really taught me a lot. They taught me to question the media outlets and their purposes, and they taught me to question and analyze how I am portrayed in them. And that I did.

By April Hernandez


Abad-Santos, Alex. “Orange Is the New Black’s Latina Characters Are Women We Hardly Ever See on Television.” Vox. Vox Media, Inc., 12 June 2015. Web. 27 July 2015.

“Chapter One.” Jane the Virgin. Writ. Jennie Snyder Urman. Dir. Brad Silberling. 13 Oct. 2014. Xfinity On Demand. 10 July 2015.

“Chapter Seven.” Jane the Virgin. Writ. David Rosenthal. Dir. Janice Cooke. 24 Nov. 2014. Xfinity On Demand. 10 July 2015.

“Chapter Ten.” Jane the Virgin. Writ. Meredith Averill and Christopher Oscar Peña. Dir. Elodie Keene. 19 Jan. 2015. Xfinity On Demand. 10 July 2015.

“Disneyland.” Modern Family. Writ. Cindy Chupak. Dir. James Bagdonas. 9 May 2012. Television. 11 July 2015.

“Do Not Push.” Modern Family. Writ. Megan Ganz. Dir. Gail Mancuso. 1 Oct. 2014. Xfinity On Demand. 11 July 2015.

“Dude Ranch.” Modern Family. Writ. Paul Corrigan, Brad Walsh and Dan O’Shannon. Dir. Jason Winder. 21 Sept. 2011. Television. 9 July 2015.

Entertainment Tonight. “2015 Golden Globes: Gina Rodriguez Made Us All Cry With Her Incredible Acceptance Speech.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 12 Jan. 2015. Web. 24 July 2015.

Glass, Ira, and Sarah Vowell. “Transcript: 151: Primary.” This American Life. Chicago Public Media. Chicago, Illinois, 28 Jan. 2000. Transcript: 151: Primary. Web. 6 July 2015. Transcript.

Latinos Beyond Reel. Dir. Miguel Picker and Chyng Sun. Perf. Yancey Arias, Josefina Lopez, Luis Antonio Ramos, and Lisa Vidal. Open Lens Media, 2012. DVD.

“The Long Honeymoon.” Modern Family. Writ. Danny Zucker. Dir. Beth McCarthy-Miller. 24 Sept. 2014. Xfinity On Demand. 11 July 2015.

“Low Self Esteem City.” Orange is the New Black. Writ. Nick Jones. Dir. Andrew McCarthy. 6 Jun. 2014. Netflix. Web. 6 July 2015.

“Mother’s Day.” Orange is the New Black. Writ. Jenji Kohan. Dir. Andrew McCarthy. 11 Jun. 2015. Netflix. Web. 9 July 2015.

Negrón-Muntaner, Frances. “The Latino Media Gap a Report on the State of Latinos in the U.S. Media.” Columbia University, 19 Jun. 2014. Web. 19 July 2015. PDF file.

Ramirez, Tanisha L. “Sofia Vergara Loves Playing Stereotypes.” The Huffington Post., 5 Mar. 2013. Web. 17 July 2015.

Rosin, Hanna. “The Evolution of the Doltish Dad.” Slate. The Slate Group LLC, 15 June 2012. Web. 29 Jun. 2015.

Ryan, Maureen. “‘Jane The Virgin’ Helped Change TV, But The Struggle Is Far From Over.” The Huffington Post., 6 Apr. 2015. Web. 28 July 2015.

Zimmerman, Amy. “‘Jane the Virgin’ is The CW’s Best Show Ever.” The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, 28 Oct. 2014. Web. 28 July 2015.

Looking at the Big Picture

Michael Vick, an all star NFL football player, was accused and tried for implicating the illegal act of dog fighting. In 2007 when this incident came out to the public, Whoopi Goldberg, an influential actress/comedian, publicly defended him on “The View”. She went on to say that “He’s from the South, from the Deep South … This is part of his cultural upbringing”. This comment defending the Atlanta Falcons quarterback reinforced a southern stereotype that people from the south torture animals for entertainment. Goldberg blatantly lumped together the entire region together into condoning dog fighting.

In the popular reality show “America’s Next Top Model” hosted by Tyra Banks, there was a southern women who was judged based on her accent. A young woman named Danielle from Arkansas was seen as a potential spokesmodel. The panel recognized Danielle’s accent and started making derogatory comments about it. They started out by telling her she needed to neutralize her accent, as of she could not speak the way she was raised to speak. Later in the contest, Banks stated that models need to speak ““eloquently,” thus implying quite readily that the Southern accent is unrefined and ugly to most people’s ears.”. What’s damaging about this action is that, accent’s are very normal wherever you grow up and when people tell you it’s not normal, it’s degrading. My mother, who lives in Oregon but is from Texas, is continually asked where she’s from and have had people tell her, her accent is “cute”. To have an accent that is ridiculed on national television can create insecurities among southern teenagers and young adults. People who are not from the south who viewed this could have easily judged southern people and affirmed negative stereotypes about them.

Media reinforcements such as these, and examples like “Hart of Dixie”, “Sweet Home Alabama”, and “Forrest Gump” perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes about the south.

Inaccurate stereotypes about the south are infamous within pop culture. In a visual medium where being from the south is recognized, most of the time, it isn’t positive and it reinforces negative stereotypes. The biggest conventional images that I found that are reinforced in the media are that southern people are notks6xr intellectuals, we are all rednecks, we all live in the country, and we are obsessed with food. The list could go on and on. The only positive reinforcement that the media has portrayed but still has somewhat made fun of is that we are famous for our southern hospitality.

In the visual mediums I chose as my examples, they all represented the traits of unintelligence, southern hospitality, an obsession with food. Although each of them portrayed some different traits that weren’t shown in the other mediums. For example, “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Hart of Dixie” were both set in Alabama with the main character being from a New York setting. They heavily compared life in New York to life in the deep south, making derogatory comments about both places. They gave off a sort of “North vs. South” discretion.

One stereotype I found interesting and didn’t realize was portrayed as much is the fascination with food that is reinforced in the eyes of the media. In Forrest Gump, the stereotype is reinforced with his famous quote is “life is like a box of chocolates” and his and Bubba’s infatuation with shrimp. In “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Hart of Dixie” there are many references towards fried food. References to fried food are popular for reinforcing southern stereotypes. Another example is included in “The Help”. This movie is surrounded around the lives of the African American help that are employed by white families. One particular black help perfects the art of making fried chicken and teaches her white woman employer how to cook it. Also throughout this film, bringing pie to companies house was the social norm.

One topic that has been especially popular in the media lately is the controversy over the Confederate flag. One negative argument about the flag is that is represents racism, slavery, and hate. Yet another side of the argument is that it represents bravery and historical context. It’s known as a rebel flag and rebel flags were never suppose to represent racism. The Civil war erupted over states rights, not slavery. The south was in favor of states rights, whilst the North was in favor of wanting the national government to have more power over the states. While it looks as if the south is in favor of letting the confederate flag fly, the public looks at it as southern people being proud that slavery was in place. Making it look like the southern region is condoning racism.


Watching and observing the southern stereotypes that are portrayed in modern pop culture disappoint me slightly. Mostly because they lead the rest of the world to make us look like conservative, unintelligent, religious, hicks. This isn’t all due to pop culture. Some is due to politics and experience knowing what the south is actually like. What I’ve gotten most out of southern stereotypes that is portrayed in pop culture is that we are all hicks, we’re dense, and we’re “racist and prejudice”. History takes a toll on a lot of these stereotypes like racism and religion but pop culture mostly reinforces and assumes. I appreciate that pop culture does not only represent the negative connotations but also the positive connotations. These include southern hospitality, southern friendliness, and our love for food (yet sometimes that can be carried away). People only take away the more negative judgmental points and less able to remember the positive things. They override the positive things making the negative things more memorable.

For this class, one of the biggest and most eye opening assignments I’ve had to do was the Research Analysis. This was very time consuming and critically analyzed assignment. In this assignment I had to analyze three different popular culture mediums and examined the aspects that resulted in the stereotypes I was researching and exploiting. This made me put on a different lens when watching mediums that point out southern regions and the attitudes about them.

For the first course blog assignment, one of the discussion posts I answered was about “types of person or group of people that you’ve seen represented in a similar or one-dimensional way”. I went on a huge rant about how disney channel girls are all portrayed the same and there is no uniqueness to them. I really enjoyed critically thinking about this topic because I really got to branch out on my ideas on the subject.

Forrest Gump [Motion picture on DVD]. (1994). Paramount pictures.

Hamilton, Karen C., “Y’all Think We’re Stupid: Deconstructing Media Sterotypes of The American South” (2009). Electronic Theses & Dissertations. Paper 491.

Hart of Dixie [Motion picture]. (2011). Warner Brothers Television.

Sweet home Alabama [Motion picture on DVD]. (2003). Touchstone Home Entertainment ;.

The Help [Motion picture on DVD]. (2011). U.S.A: Walt Disney Pictures.

The O’Reilley Factor. Fox News. 23 June 2015. Radio.