Album Covers Through Jazz

For my final action project I decided to further my research on my identity as a Jazz musician and expand on my appreciation for the artwork that came alongside the music through a journal. I was prompted to do this when revisiting John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing” as the advertisements displayed in the 1970 video reminded me of vinyl covers of Jazz music from the same time. I had concerns regarding the sheer amount of monumental albums for both music and for the artwork sake, but when researching the artists and musicians found many albums were found on both lists. I really enjoyed researching the personnel as well as the designers of the albums as I found a lot of shared personnel I was unaware of. This coincided with my Looking Into The Pop Culture Mirror assignment as it provided insight into the local jazz ecology at the time.

Below is a link to the journal as a pdf-

If the PDF cannot be opened here is the project as a google drive link as well-

Fact-Checking and Falsehoods: A Brief Guide

In this age of advanced technology, the average person has access to more information than ever before. But that wealth of information comes with a heavy price. Through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, misinformation can spread with unprecedented speed, leading to extreme polarization and a dangerously misled, distrustful populace. According to a Pew Research Center study just after the 2016 US election, 64% of adults believe that fake news causes a great deal of confusion, and 23% admitted to having shared it themselves, whether intentionally or not.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Through the use of a few simple verification strategies, you can combat misinformation on your newsfeed and social media pages. This is how to recognize internet falsehoods, based on the Check Please! online curriculum written by Mike Caulfield.

  • The Wikipedia Check

Growing up, many of us were taught never to use Wikipedia as an academic source due to its crowd-sourced editing methods. While it’s true that its factual content should often be taken with a grain of salt, Wikipedia is not without its uses. When reading any article from an unfamiliar news source, take a few seconds to do the following. Copy and paste the website domain name into a web search, followed by “Wikipedia”. This will bring up the Wikipedia page for that news source, which can tell you information such as the publication’s age, readership, and budget, as well as its political leanings and any controversies it has been associated with. This information is invaluable when it comes to evaluating the legitimacy of a news source.

  • Stop, Don’t Scroll

When you see a story or a piece of information presented on your social media feed, don’t just scroll past it – stop and look it up. Oftentimes, fact-checking sites such as Snopes will have checked viral posts and will tell you whether the post is misleading. If not, check whether you can find any news coverage or articles about the supposed event and try to locate the earliest coverage. If you can’t find anything, chances are that it isn’t true.

  • Reverse Photo Search

Sometimes, you’ll see photos on the Internet that seem suspicious, whether due to something about the photo itself or the context in which it is presented. In this case, it is possible to do a reverse photo search on Google Chrome. On a computer, right-click the photo; on a smartphone or tablet, press and hold on it. A task bar will pop up, with the option to search Google for the image. Click on this option. From there, you can find webpages associated with the image. This makes it possible to track down the picture’s original source. If it’s a credible news source, you’re good to go!

  • What Are Your Sources?

These strategies are an invaluable way to recognize misinformation, but an equally important part of being well-informed is having reliable news sources. Think: where am I getting my information? If the answer is “primarily social media”, you’d be much better off identifying an independent, professional, and balanced news organization.

The internet has brought about a lot of good things, but it has also brought into being a chaotic and overwhelming information marketplace, where it can be difficult to know who to trust and what to believe. These are just a few strategies to make the Internet more manageable. Hopefully, they will help you be better equipped to navigate this ever-changing landscape.


Anderson, Janna, and Lee Rainie. “The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, Pew Research Center, 17 Aug. 2020,

Check, Please! Starter Course (

Number 1 Health Issue: Obesity

Ryon Hurley

I believe that obesity is America’s number 1 health issue because it is occurring more frequently and because that is all we hear in health classes today.  Obesity is defined as being over the considered healthy weight which is determined by the body mass index chart (BMI).  When you go to your regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment they will measure your height and weight and then chart it on your graph which has a trend line showing the average BMI a human should be and they compare you to it and determine whether you are overweight or not.  There are many reasons why a person would be considered or become overweight and it can either be from genetics, lifestyle choices, or limited choices.  Since obesity has been such a controversial topic the U.S. decided to consider obesity as a disease.  The U.S. did this in order to allow people with obesity to seek health coaching, diet plans, and medical help all through doctors appointments covered by insurance.  The world is becoming more obese and we are the only ones that can help.

The most common way to become obese is from eating habits and lifestyle choices.  The U.S. in particular is known for having fast food restaurants, fried food, and processed foods.  All of these types of food are harmful to or health and are  unhealthy especially when ingested everyday or in an irregular amount.  These types of foods should not be incorporated in your diet; instead you should find more natural products and items from the grocery store in order to make a healthier diet.  In the U.S. there are 7 states that have a 35 percent obesity rate for their population.  These states include Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia and majority of them are located in the southern part of the east coast with a few being located in the northern section of the east coast (Henry, 2018).  Henry also mentions that in the year 2000 there was no state that had an obesity percentage higher than 20, but just 20 years later 7 states now have 35 percent or higher (Henry, 2018).  Graphs showing the obesity rate, diabetes rate, and physical inactivity among adults and different ranges of children can be found here:  The graphs are updated a few years ahead of Henry’s article and now shows that 9 states are above 35 percent of obese citizens.  People find it difficult to resist fast food restaurants due to how cheap and fast they are but also because they taste good due to the extra chemicals and sugars added to them.  When you incorporate fast food or processed foods into your diet and then on top of that aren’t exercising than you are on the fast track to becoming obese.  The history of obesity and why fast food and processed foods are bad can be found here:  Fast food and processed food are seen as a huge success but have ultimately brought harm to the diet of the world and has caused bad habits and overeating.  

The other side of obesity comes from genetics and limited resources and these two are the main reasons as to why obesity is considered a disease.  Different genetic reasons for obesity include monogenetic obesity and different mutations in the genome that inhibit weight loss or slow down metabolism.  Other forms of onsight obesity is type 2 diabetes and heart disease which comes from being overweight and is mostly seen in older generations.  With obesity being a disease physicians can now prescribe obesity pills, provide coaching, diets, and surgeries which will also be covered by insurance (Pollack, 2013).  Lifestyle choices and limited resources are key roles in the beggining steps of becoming obese and if these can be tackled early then it will be even easier to avoid obesity.  Exercise and healthy food are key to a healthy lifestyle and are relatively easy to incorporate in your lifestyle if you want it.  Along with this there does come problems with money and environment.  The places you live and the amount of money you have play a huge role in your lifestyle and determine how safe it is to be outside and what food you can buy.  Throughout my sophomore inquiry class on healthy people healthy places I learned that the current system for providing money and food stamps isn’t enough to provide a healthy lifestyle and that where you live can impact the quality of the food and safety of people.  

We once lived in a time where food didn’t come by easy and laziness wasn’t how people acted, but now food is not all natural and comes in an abundance which leads to over eating and laziness.  In order to fix this problem we need to encourage people to seek help from professionals and the government needs to regulate the amount of unhealthy food and also help these people benefit from food stamps by providing enough food for healthy options.  Obesity can only be decreased by you and if you find it in yourself the drive to lose weight or be healthy than we can all lower the percent of obesity and live a healthier lifestyle.  Do you want to live longer?  Then eat healthy, exercise, and seek help.


Henry, T. A. (2018, November 26). Adult obesity rates rise in 6 states, exceed 35% in 7. Retrieved from

Pollack, A. (2013, June 18). A.M.A. Recognizes Obesity as a Disease. Retrieved from

Obesity Rates & Trend Data. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Adam, Maya. (2016, January 15). Retrieved from

Number 1 Health Issue: Obesity

Ryon Hurley

I believe that obesity is America’s number 1 health issue because it is occurring more frequently and because that is all we hear in health classes today.  Obesity is defined as being over the considered healthy weight which is determined by the body mass index chart (BMI).  When you go to your regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment they will measure your height and weight and then chart it on your graph which has a trend line showing the average BMI a human should be and they compare you to it and determine whether you are overweight or not.  There are many reasons why a person would be considered or become overweight and it can either be from genetics, lifestyle choices, or limited choices.  Since obesity has been such a controversial topic the U.S. decided to consider obesity as a disease.  The U.S. did this in order to allow people with obesity to seek health coaching, diet plans, and medical help all through doctors appointments covered by insurance.  The world is becoming more obese and we are the only ones that can help.

The most common way to become obese is from eating habits and lifestyle choices.  The U.S. in particular is known for having fast food restaurants, fried food, and processed foods.  All of these types of food are harmful to or health and are  unhealthy especially when ingested everyday or in an irregular amount.  These types of foods should not be incorporated in your diet; instead you should find more natural products and items from the grocery store in order to make a healthier diet.  In the U.S. there are 7 states that have a 35 percent obesity rate for their population.  These states include Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia and majority of them are located in the southern part of the east coast with a few being located in the northern section of the east coast (Henry, 2018).  Henry also mentions that in the year 2000 there was no state that had an obesity percentage higher than 20, but just 20 years later 7 states now have 35 percent or higher (Henry, 2018).  Graphs showing the obesity rate, diabetes rate, and physical inactivity among adults and different ranges of children can be found here:  The graphs are updated a few years ahead of Henry’s article and now shows that 9 states are above 35 percent of obese citizens.  People find it difficult to resist fast food restaurants due to how cheap and fast they are but also because they taste good due to the extra chemicals and sugars added to them.  When you incorporate fast food or processed foods into your diet and then on top of that aren’t exercising than you are on the fast track to becoming obese.  The history of obesity and why fast food and processed foods are bad can be found here:  Fast food and processed food are seen as a huge success but have ultimately brought harm to the diet of the world and has caused bad habits and overeating.  

The other side of obesity comes from genetics and limited resources and these two are the main reasons as to why obesity is considered a disease.  Different genetic reasons for obesity include monogenetic obesity and different mutations in the genome that inhibit weight loss or slow down metabolism.  Other forms of onsight obesity is type 2 diabetes and heart disease which comes from being overweight and is mostly seen in older generations.  With obesity being a disease physicians can now prescribe obesity pills, provide coaching, diets, and surgeries which will also be covered by insurance (Pollack, 2013).  Lifestyle choices and limited resources are key roles in the beggining steps of becoming obese and if these can be tackled early then it will be even easier to avoid obesity.  Exercise and healthy food are key to a healthy lifestyle and are relatively easy to incorporate in your lifestyle if you want it.  Along with this there does come problems with money and environment.  The places you live and the amount of money you have play a huge role in your lifestyle and determine how safe it is to be outside and what food you can buy.  Throughout my sophomore inquiry class on healthy people healthy places I learned that the current system for providing money and food stamps isn’t enough to provide a healthy lifestyle and that where you live can impact the quality of the food and safety of people.  

We once lived in a time where food didn’t come by easy and laziness wasn’t how people acted, but now food is not all natural and comes in an abundance which leads to over eating and laziness.  In order to fix this problem we need to encourage people to seek help from professionals and the government needs to regulate the amount of unhealthy food and also help these people benefit from food stamps by providing enough food for healthy options.  Obesity can only be decreased by you and if you find it in yourself the drive to lose weight or be healthy than we can all lower the percent of obesity and live a healthier lifestyle.  Do you want to live longer?  Then eat healthy, exercise, and seek help.


Henry, T. A. (2018, November 26). Adult obesity rates rise in 6 states, exceed 35% in 7. Retrieved from

Pollack, A. (2013, June 18). A.M.A. Recognizes Obesity as a Disease. Retrieved from

Obesity Rates & Trend Data. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Adam, Maya. (2016, January 15). Retrieved from

Poverty: Number 1 Public Health Concern

Poverty has always been the main concern not just in America but everywhere else in the world. Some countries have it worse and some don’t have it as bad. There are over a billion people living in extreme poverty around the world and most of them suffer from infectious disease, hunger, and high infant mortality. Just in America alone, there are over 50 million people living in poverty and the number just keeps rising every day. It prevents people from getting access to medical care, prescription drugs, and adequate nutrition. Poverty is the number one public health concern that needs to be addressed.

When it comes to poverty, most countries in Africa have the highest rate of poverty. According to the article,10 Facts on Health Inequities, “They are at least 16.000 children dying every day of pneumonia, malaria, diarrhea, and other diseases and most children are 14 times more likely to die before the age of 5 in sub-Saharan Africa than the rest of the world. Children from the poorest 20% of households are nearly twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday as children in the richest 20%” (slide 2). This shows that poverty does lead to ill health. Living in poor conditions or even overcrowded conditions can result in the spread of airborne diseases like tuberculosis and respiratory infections. And in a lot of countries in Africa, there are issues of lack of food, clean water, and sanitation which can also be fatal. The main cause of poverty in Africa is poor healthcare because ” the poor cannot afford to purchase what is needed for good health, including sufficient quantities of quality food and healthcare itself”( Project, para. 7).

When looking at the top causes of poverty around the world, the top 5 are inadequate access to clean water, little to no access to livelihood or jobs, inequality, poor education, and poor healthcare system. A person’s education level, employment status, and income level all affect how healthy a person is (10 Facts on Health Inequities and their Causes, para.1). This means that people that are in poverty are at a higher risk and people that are higher in the socio-economic position have better health because they have access to better healthcare, better education, and better jobs. But when it comes to the inequality of income, it seems almost impossible to eliminate, but just leaving it as it is “these permissible income inequalities will (continue to) generate health inequalities if they are left in place” ( Sreenivasan, para. 69). Furthermore, the reason why poverty remains is that when a child has poor health and are living on less than $1 per day, it affects their school performance and that leads to the inability to find good work and to support the next family so basically, the cycle of poverty never ends. People who are enduring poverty like mentioned above are less educated and that results in them having less knowledge about activities to promote health and when to access health care.

Poverty and poor health worldwide are related. Political, social, and economic injustice are the main causes of poor health for millions of people globally and poverty is a cause and consequence of poor health. In order for poverty and poor health to be tackled, the economic and political structures which sustain poverty and inequality need to be transformed. Everyone deserves health care services but currently, millions of people are being deprived of those services because they don’t have the money and access for it. To help reduce poverty, it is important to make sure millions of people have improved nutrition, have access to safe water and sanitation, and strengthening national health systems. Along with other parts like making sure children have access to education, and the parents who need to provide for their children to have access to good-paying jobs. Tackling the structural causes of poverty is what will help millions of people.


“10 Facts on Health Inequities and Their Causes.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 21 Apr. 2017,

Project, Borgen. “Identifying the Multiple Causes of Poverty in Africa.” The Borgen Project, Borgen Project Https://, 16 Dec. 2019,

Sreenivasan, Gopal. “Justice, Inequality, and Health.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 27 Aug. 2014,

Here’s Looking at You, Kansas


In 2019, research company Onepoll led a survey regarding the travel habits of Americans. They found that eleven percent of their survey respondents had not stepped foot outside of the state in which they were born. On top of this, fifty percent had travelled to fewer than ten states throughout their lives. As someone who was lucky enough to grow up going on many road trips and exploring large swaths of the country, this figure surprised me. Not having travelled does not mean that you do not have the desire to do so. In fact, the same poll showed that nearly eighty percent of respondents wished to travel more that they do currently. These people are not at all narrow minded, they do not have the means to broaden their horizons in this way. The financial and even physical strain of travelling is simply too much for many people.

One thing that I have seen consistently since moving to Portland, Oregon from Kansas is that my friends and colleagues have a great number of ideas about the Midwest and its inhabitants, many ideas that do not align with my personal experience experiences. Some are generally true, some are mildly offensive, and some are downright absurd. I decided to interview ten people including friends, coworkers, classmates, and a stranger about their experiences with and their notions of Middle America and the men and woman who grow so much of their food.

Wait a second, where’s Missouri?

Of the people I interviewed, five were from California, four came from Portland or elsewhere in Oregon, and one was from Washington. All were in their early to mid twenties and ideologically, they all shared similar political and social beliefs to my own. I encouraged productive dialogue and asked each of them a similar set of questions:

  • What images come to mind when you think of the Midwest?
  • What are your personal experiences with this part of the United States?
  • What kind of people live there?
  • What do you think of them?
  • What is something you care about or a part of your identity that you think is commonly misunderstood?
  • What is something you wish more people knew about this?

Farms, Farms, and More Farms

Among everybody I spoke with, the Midwest is synonymous with farmland and quaint rural farming communities. Sprawling fields of wheat, corn, and soy, forests, and plains stretching into the horizon with nothing but a lone windmill interrupting the endless landscape were called to mind. A couple of people mentioned cattle and one named a sports team. None of them were wrong, these are things that I too associate with my home. I was however surprised that no one thought of Chicago, the third largest city in the country by population, or any of the other cities that rival those found on the east and west coasts. Similarly, no one mentioned barbeque or any of the other foods that I cherish from home.

Nobody had every spent a significant amount of time in a Midwestern state but most told me “Oh, I think I drove through Kansas once.” a phrase I hear more often than one might suspect.

The Red Scare

The average Midwesterner is two things, conservative and Christian. That is, according to those I talked to. When asked, five told me that the had a generally unfavorable opinion one or both of these groups but they also knew few people who identified with either. Six told me that, as far as they knew, none of their close friends are politically conservative or Christians and three weren’t sure if they even knew anyone who was. One person had attended a catholic high school but never considered himself Catholic.

This shocked me. I am not Christian nor do I identify as conservative but so many of my close friends and family are. The responses that I received made me consider how many points of view a have little to ow contact with and how different each persons perspective really is. Every person that I spoke to was surprised when I told them that only thirty nine percent of adults in the Midwest identify as Republicans compared to forty three percent for Democrats and that less that half of voters in Kansas were registered with the Republican party. They were also surprised to learn that, statistically, Kansas has a higher non-white population than either Oregon or California.

Bigger Picture

I did not want this experiment to be at all preachy or antagonistic and I was very pleased with the conversations that I had. I hope that sharing my experiences made those I spoke with consider their points of view but I also wanted to be challenged on preconceived notions that I held as well. I did not want this experiment to be at all preachy or antagonistic and I was very pleased with the conversations that I had. When I asked about something they think is commonly misunderstood, everybody had an answer.

A few were upset by the bad rep that California has to some Oregonians. They argued that California has an influx of transplants as well and that many are forced out of the state due to rising costs, they wished that Oregon was more welcoming. One, a purple belted Jiu-Jitsu student, told me that he hears many criticisms of their decision to not attend college and to instead pursue another interest. His decision says nothing about his intelligence, only of his motivations. I listened to someone explain that many Asians are not considered to be people of colour and often are excluded in relevant conversations on the matter. A communications major explained that he has rarely tells people what he studies because so many look down on the subject for being vapid and unimportant.

I strive to be as open-minded as possible but most of the complaints that I heard had never occurred to me as being a problem. How many of my understanding are ungrounded and how many unintentionally hurtful? If you can think of something, I would like you to share something about you that is often misunderstood. What needs further understanding and what ideas do you think should be challenged?


Taking Care of Ourselves & Our Information-Diet

In my middle school and even high school experience, using Wikipedia was a big no-no. It was known as this big void of information that was mostly untrue, and outright unreliable. Until I was a sophomore in college did I learn that Wikipedia can be used to find other resources about a certain topic of interest. 

If there is a question whether a site is credible or is giving credible information, you can type in the main domain website into Google followed by “Wikipedia” and match up the information. You can see if the site you are using is local to the area in which an event or issue happened, if it is re-reporting a story, or if it is a real news or information site that is known for being credible. It takes time to learn how to spot out misinformation and learn how to fact-check but it is important for us, especially as students and people of the internet-age, to familiarize ourselves to this internet land better and be conscientious of what we understand to be factual. 

So what other things have I learned about the use of the internet and how to use it as a resource? Fact-checking. 

Fact-checking has become a necessary skill to have in this age of the internet. We are constantly bombarded with information that some people say is fake-news and some say is true and we must listen. How can we limit the amount of manipulated news stories that we ingest and create a well-balanced information-diet?

When you are scrolling on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook…

When you are reading up on the news…

When you are in discussion with others…


First, CHECK THE CLAIM. When you want to make sure something is credible or true, you can copy and paste (or rewrite) the title of the article (or words related to the information) into Google and try to find articles and credible news sources that are talking about the subject. To be sure that the source you are using is credible, check to see if the article is written professionally and without spelling errors. This seems simple but you would be surprised by how many sites contain spelling errors and odd formats. 

It is also useful to put the words “fact-check” after the article or post heading/title. 

For instance, I saw a tweet the other day that I wanted to find out more information about. Dan Scavino tweeted a clip from Joe Biden’s speech in St. Louis, Missouri that cut him off saying “We can only re-elect Trump”, which Donald Trump proceeded to retweet himself. So, I decided to go to Google and see what was happening here.

I found that Biden had not stopped at saying that the nation can only re-elect Trump, but proceeded to speak more on his slip-up of words. It is easy to cut off videos and post them in order to manipulate what people see or hear. Especially during the time where people of the United States are trying to understand the facts of our politics and decide on a candidate, there will be people tweeting and posting on Instagram and Facebook sharing their opinions or false information. 

It is really easy to scroll and take in the information you see and call it fact. It’s unrealistic to say that everything we see on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram is not real. Social media has also become a place of truth. People share their stories, their experiences, their opinions and ideas — it has become a hub of information and humanity. But it is a place that contains all human tendencies – including dishonesty, confusion, or manipulation. 

In order to care for ourselves, we must take care of our information-diet. We must be active in research, especially those involved with the news or social media. Take care of yourselves by being conscious and aware on social media/the internet. 

Be kind and conscientious with yourselves and others on the internet & IRL folks! 



Notion. 2020. Check, Please!. [online] Available at: <;

Spencer, S. H. (2020, March 9). Viral Biden Video Is Deceptively Edited. Retrieved from

Evolution of a Cyber Cascade

Cyber Cascade: “A massive snowball-effect of information that gets spread around without knowing anything about the truthfulness of the information.”

I have been back in the States this time since September 2017, and as a bicultural citizen of both Austria and the USA, I have to admit that before I made the jump across the Atlantic, what seems like an eternity but was only roughly 2.5 years ago, I was not at all actually keeping current on stateside issues. Nope, I was busy picking up some pieces over there, and actually was a bit in disbelief that in Austria such a seemingly unqualified person as Sebastian Kurz, who actually lost a no-confidence vote last year for corruption, became the Federal Chancellor.

Change channels to the States: It is arguable that at this moment in time – early March 2020 – and in the history of the internet, there has never been such polarized opinions shared publicly online. Through the medium of Facebook, for example, sharing one’s own opinion – be it correct and fact-based or not – is a matter of gaining access, typing text and posting.

The problem is that people are becoming quite good at “making a story sound believable”, even if what they are posting is speculation or flat out incorrect. The numbers of unsubstantiated posts are million-fold, and the occurrence of cognitive dissonance, a belief in two or more conflicting facts, seems to be becoming regular, and people are believing stories at an all-time rate even though facts may be available to counter their validity. 

This is even an accepted norm in some groups.

Taking Facebook as an example, it seems highly opinionated groups have mastered the art of creating one group voice, and grown accustomed to not having any tolerance for dissension or newcomers with varying opinions. There are groups and there are pages, and both have the option to disallow members or subscribers, respectively, from starting a post, but only to add on to an existing post, whereas strong opinion posts contrary to the regular beliefs of that group are often deleted.

Going back to the very act of collecting information which we like to assume is “credible knowledge”, we go to Google, put in our search string, and expect that whatever comes out as the result is credible, even trusting Google to the point of assuming that the items on the first page and even at the top of the list on the first page have randomly arrived there neutrally, without any outside influence, for my benefit.

This assumption – that Google is handing me an empiric, unfiltered result – has been shown to be grossly wrong. There is indeed an algorithm, which is alive and dynamic and watching my past search history, as well as is reading the cookies on my computer and actually making decisions about what it thinks I “want to see”, based on subprograms built into the algorithm that tell it to offer me links – or rather, direct me to links which may or may not actually help me to the end goal of being informed with all of the available information online.

No, it is often NOT the case that I will get a nice variety of links based on my search string.

After watching the video about Dylann Roof that was linked under a lesson on this course, I became more aware of this.

An article in the Daily We states: “With a dramatic increase in options, and a greater power to customize, comes an increase in the range of actual choices. Those choices are likely, in many cases, to mean that people will try to find material that makes them feel comfortable, or that is created by and for people like themselves.”

The case with Dylann Roof, mass murderer of nine African American persons at a prayer meeting in South Carolina 2015 shines a huge light on the polarizing effects on a user by the occurrence of a cyber cascade. In this case, one theory is that at the time of Roof’s search, there had been multiple searches for white supremicist sites already, and “blacks murdering whites” would then logically and statistically cause Roof to receive many white supremist hits, reinforcing his weak prejudice and hence polarizing his perspective. 

Given that Roof started with a weak but  definite prejudice when researching this interracial murder topic, Roof was trying to educate himself about the 2012 slaying of 17-year-old African American Trayvon Martin, by a caucasian, George Zimmerman, and in his words: “See what the big deal was” about the slaying. 

As reported: “Roof’s radicalization began, as he later wrote in an online manifesto, when he typed the words ‘black on White crime’ into Google and found what he described as ‘pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders.’ The first web pages he found were produced by the Council of Conservative Citizens, a crudely racist group that once called black people a ‘retrograde species of humanity.’ Roof wrote that he has “never been the same since that day.” 

Were these sites clearly and intentionally composed to incite rage and vitriol in the reader who might already have a hateful attitude toward African Americans?

Roof ended up clicking on the links that Google provided to him, the harshest flagship white supremist sites, all at the top of his search page.

It is arguable that perhaps Google’s algorithm was active for Roof, that it was simply taking his past browsing history, and was delivering to him links related to his history, but the Southern Poverty Law Center begs to differ.

The problem here is that the combination of Google-user Roof and the links he was browsing altered his view of the actual full picture of the hostile scenario of interracial murders, and essentially caused him to strengthen the roots of his resolve of hatred and contemplating violence against African Americans, wher he eventually decided to voluntarily take violent action.

This story is not a theory but is factual, drawing from Roof’s own testimony about the development of his hate, where he became so emotionally inflamed that he even came to the point of “starting a race war.”

The Southern Poverty Law Office surmises that Roof likely entered into his research not necessarily having his mind made up, and despite a possibly open mind, which actually seems doubtful, the huge dose of anti-black links that he was provided may very well have influenced him into his rage. The question may have been timing, and Roof’s receiving the result 

What Roof, with a fragile, impressionable mind, failed to do is to engage a critical thinking approach, where he might mentally “step back” from the picture that was being created in his mind by these sites and then view the different published sources as possibly not being legitimate, or at least calling them into question or imagining for himself that such sites and text were structured in such a way to incite a reader, with a crafty and intentional call to racial action.  

Upon being contacted, Google claimed its algorithm takes into account how trustworthy, reputable or authoritative a source is. Obviously in Roof’s case, it clearly did not.

Let this be a lesson to users of Google or any search engine that very polarizing information swells – cyber cascades – do occur, and what is at the top of one’s search page may not be the most neutral or reliable information source, as one would naturally like to assume. 


1) Article: “Polarization and Cybercascades”

Mediated Subjectivity – Politics and Subjectivity in the Networked Public Sphere

By Mollie Ableman 

Posted September 25, 2011

2) Video: “The Miseducation of Dylann Roof – How did Dylann Roof go from being someone who was not raised in a racist home to someone so steeped in white supremacist propaganda that he murdered nine African Americans during a Bible study?”

By Southern Poverty Law Center

3) Excerpt: Cass Sunstein on Group Polarizationand Cyber-Cascades 

From the “The Daily We”, which appeared in the Boston Review, Summer 2001

Click to access Sunstein_on_Group_Polarization_and_Cyber-Cascades.pdf

Stereotypes in Screenplay

Within the world of entertainment, we have music, dance, theater, games, so on and so forth. Along with them, we can sometimes see some… questionable depictions. Throughout the year, we dived into various topics, but one that really stuck onto me was the idea of “single stories”. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie elaborated on this in her TED Talk,”The Dangers of a Single Story.” I wanted to focus my project on the ideas brought by Adichie and by the video series, “Every Single Word.” To do this, I chose to look at screenplay and how different stereotypes are being presented. Whether they be intentional or unintentional, screenplay seems to have a strong role in enforcing certain stereotypes. This is often seen in screenplay that depict “dark humor”, where the intention is to poke fun at certain groups of people. Below I have three screenplays where single stories can be found.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua

This one is an old but gold movie! Well, kind of. In this movie, we are introduced to Chloe, a chihuahua who knows nothing but living a lavish life. Her owner is Viv, a wealthy white woman. Papi, the other chihuahua, is in love with Chloe and will go to great extreme to protect her. His owner is Viv’s landscaper… which is a Hispanic man named Sam. That brings me to my first stereotype found with the movie. Within popular culture, Hispanic men will often be represented as labor workers, doing jobs like picking, construction, and garden work.
I think a major stereotype, or single story, that was brought up in this movie was the fact that many automatically think that a Hispanic/Latinx individual does not speak English. Rachelle is Viv’s niece; she is also wealthy, quite spoiled, and is as irresponsible as it gets. In one part of the movie, Rachelle approaches Sam angrily, asking him to get his dog, Papi. However, Rachelle speaks to Sam with a mix of English and Spanish words, having difficulty communicating to him her frustration. Rachelle has assumed that Sam does not speak English, hence why she approached him in that manner.

The Office

Whoever doesn’t like The Office clearly hasn’t seen it, it’s the only logical reason. It’s hilarious context never fails it’s audience. This humor can sometimes contain some offensive stuff, though. However, with The Office it’s s bit different. The stereotypes that they may display are intentional. This is what we like to call “dark humor” which can be seen often in shows like South Park, Family Guy, and American Dad. So, when analyzing this, I questioned how this could be applied to my investigation for single stories. The thing is, although that’s the purpose of the screenplay, that stereotype is still being reinforced. There are several examples in this clip:
1. Associating Jewish people with money
2. Kevin’s use of “Jamaican” vocabulary and excessive use of marijuana
3. Pam, although it hurt her to say it, assuming that Asian people are bad drivers. 
4. And lastly, Michael talking to Kelly in an a poor Indian accent, asking her if she wanted to “try his cookie cookie”.

Call Me by Your Name

This one was a bit difficult to analyze. But I couldn’t help but to think that this movie puts gay men under a predatory light. We have a 24 year old graduate student, Oliver, and a 17 year old minor, Elio, engaging in a romantic and sexual relationship. So, I had brought this point up to a friend of mine who loves the movie. But they had claimed that its legal because kid name fits the age of consent. When I looked for the opinions of others on Twitter, there were a lot of people who had the same idea. However, as others stated, legal doesn’t mean ethical. In sum, this movie, depending on how one sees it, is enforcing the idea that gay men are predators. This projection makes these individuals look like they only go for minors and are pedophiles, which can be extremely harmful towards them.

I had a list of topics I wanted to do for this project. It sort of came down to what interested me the most. As I mentioned, what really stuck onto me this year was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie TED Talk on single stories. I wanted to evaluate this in screenplay and found numerous examples. Many were either “dark humor”, stereotypical, or just down-right degrading. The “Every Single Word” video series also had a major influence. I wanted to incorporate the idea they had, which was to get clips of every time a POC would have a line in major movies, and use it to create my own version. To make it work, I had my friends help me think of movies where sterotypes, or single sotires, seem to pop up. We eventually cut them down and listed the major parts of a movie or episods where I could dive deeper in.

Initially, I had the idea to obtain clips for reference but I had a lot of trouble with that. So, I hope you had simply take my word for it that it actually happened! Other than that, the whole process went well. I did think too overboard on ideas on how to project this, though, I will admit that.

Throughout this process, I’ve learned that it’s actually kind of hard to distinguish stereotypes. In earlier movies, we can see them everywhere. However, today we don’t see whole lot as much as we used to. We only really see it in shows where the intention of depicting stereotypes is there. Other than that, we have some some progress in the world of screenplay.

Asian-Americans in the Media

Growing up, I would watch movies and tv shows with mainly all white actors and a couple of people of color, or none at all. I’ve noticed the lack of Asian representation in popular culture. Both my parents are from Vietnam, while I was born in the United States. Growing up being Asian in America comes with some sort of stereotype. I haven’t faced any type of stereotype personally, but I’ve seen some stereotypes in school and/or in public. I’ve also seen Asian stereotypes portrayed in popular culture. In television and movies, Asian parents are portrayed as “foreign”, meaning that they speak in a thick Asian accent, and being extremely strict. It’s not common to see an Asian as a lead character, and they’re normally seen as a supporting character. Some common Asian stereotypes are that they are super smart, they can’t see clearly, and are nerdy looking. They’re being negatively portrayed in the media which gives society the wrong impression of Asian-Americans. For this project, I’ve decided to explore the identity of Asian-Americans in hopes of learning more about how they are being represented in popular culture.

Fresh Off the Boat is a comedy television show that is loosely based on Eddie Huang’s biography of the same name. The show focuses on a Taiwanese-American family of 5, who moved from Chinatown of Washington, D.C. to Orlando, Florida. The character, Jessica Huang, played by Constance Wu, speaks in an Asian accent, while Randall Park’s character, Louis Huang doesn’t have one. In real life, Constance Wu doesn’t have a thick accent, and on the show, you can tell that it sounds fake and not authentic. Another stereotype that is portrayed on the show is that Asians are overachievers and really smart. One character is seen as an overachiever and expects everything to be perfect, while another character is very intelligent in school and mature for his young age. 

With the success of her show, Constance Wu wanted to look at other projects that would make a social and cultural impact. Crazy Rich Asians is an American romantic comedy film that follows a story of a Chinese-American woman who travels to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family, only to find out that they’re the richest family of Singapore. This film became the first major Hollywood film with an all Asian cast in 25 years. Not only do they have an all Asian cast, but they also have a female lead played by Constance Wu, who plays Rachel Chu. Asian-American women are hardly ever in the center of the entertainment industry and they’re normally in the background or being objectified. Rachel was raised by a single mother who immigrated to the U.S. Her mother worked hard and sacrificed everything to create a better future for her daughter. I relate to this because my parents were Vietnamese immigrants who moved to the U.S. to create a better life for me. Their sacrifices and struggles are something women today are still facing. Rachel is depicted as a strong independent woman in the film, because she struggled with her boyfriend’s family’s objections to their relationship, and ultimately she had to pick her boyfriend’s happiness over hers.

In the media, Asians are stereotyped to be shy, bully victims, and being good at math or piano. With the release of the film, it featured the all Asian cast playing many diverse character types that will help change the view of Asians in the media. The film also focused on the culture of Singapore with the food and language that was spoken in the film. Some people have criticized the film for failing to represent the true diversity of Singapore, but I think that it still represented the Asian community because they can all relate to some scenes of the film. The writer’s of the film wanted to focus on the emotional journey when traveling to your homeland for the first time because your cultural identity splits.

There are other films and television shows that portray Asian identity, but I chose to analyze Crazy Rich Asians and Fresh Off the Boat because I can relate to them. Asian-American actors are fighting to be visible and not ignored in Hollywood. Constance Wu and other Asian-American actors are advocates for their own visibility and called Hollywood out for taking Asian roles and replacing them with Caucasian actors which can be known as “whitewashing”. For many years Hollywood has been casting white actors to play Asian characters because they believed that white actors attract more audiences and would raise the box office. Asian stereotypes in the media are portrayed falsely which can be disheartening to viewers watching those shows and movies and how it can affect the Asian culture. It can be hurtful and annoying because everyone is expecting the Asian community to act and look a certain way based on how we’re portrayed in popular culture.

Making My Own Media: Three Pitches for Three Projects

For my final project, I proposed to pitch three media projects: an original idea, a historical event and a reboot. As someone who loves both creating and taking in media, I often find myself wishing casts were more diverse, not for the sake of diversity but because so many underrepresented actors are amazing and deserve to be main characters. Whitewashing, both in casting choices and in the retelling of history is a huge issue in popular culture, and often in adaptations where race or gender isn’t specified, straight, cis white men are often the default. In addition watching shows can be stressful if the way underrepresented people are portrayed is simply full of stereotypes and tropes, these characters the first ones to be killed if the genre calls for it. If I had (more of) a say in what got made and who was involved, what would I do? Let’s find out!

Original Idea: Hen & Chick

For an original project, I would have a fantasy novel I wrote, HEN & CHICK: The Marauders’ Island turned into a movie or a miniseries.

Art by Mildred Louis, design by Mel Ujimori

The blurb for the book reads as follows:

Azria is a mage of Miz, trained to wield the magic her country is famous for. When her estranged mother, alleged pirate Captain Apzana of the Hen & Chick, shows up on her 16th birthday offering her adventure, Azria leaves the life she knows for the promise of riches, renown and danger at her mother’s side.

But more mysteries than answers surface when Apzana reveals why she’s called on Azria after years of absence: the treasure of the Marauders’ Island, an island sunk into the Sapphire Sea generations ago by the infamous mage Iyzani. If Azria can raise the island, the score of a thousand shores will be theirs for the taking and she’ll secure her place among her mother’s crew. But when Iyzani emerges from the shadows to stop them, Azria must summon her power and navigate the waters of revenge and ambition.

A lot of different influences went into this book, among them my love for fantasy and magic and my desire to go against some of the tropes so common in fantasy stories. These often figure white, chosen one protagonists who are orphans traipsing from inn to inn to eat mutton stew and then fight ultimate evil in the form of a bad guy or a beast. There are SO MANY dead moms in fantasy stories and as a mom and someone raised by women, I really think this demographic deserves to have a little bit of adventure when we are making things up. I brought some of my culture into the story by making the main setting a set of islands, featuring people from all over the place and having the characters eat foods I grew up eating (plantains are magic, I don’t care what anyone says). Azria has parents from two different countries, and while the idea of ‘race’ as it exists here in our world doesn’t bode the same there, there is still the idea of belonging and culture that Azria struggles with. There are also lots of queer characters who just get to live their lives. The setting is bright and vibrant. 

I don’t have anyone in mind for most of the roles but I would want Gina Torres to play Apzana, the captain of the ship and Azria’s mom. At one point in time I envisioned Reggie Lee as the first mate Bolo, Dev Patel as the supplier, Eixon and Judy Reyes as the ship doctor, Onacá. However, a lot of time has passed between when I wrote this book and now so the plausibility of these actors being available has shifted considerably. Obviously having this story on any kind of screen would be amazing. It’s exactly the kind of movie that, if I saw it when I was a kid, I would have freaked out. 

Historical Retelling: The Combahee River Raid

We just had a movie about Harriet Tubman but it ends right before she performed one of her most daring feats: organizing the Raid on the Combahee Ferry! A movie about Harriet Tubman’s involvement in the Civil War would be amazing (though I will note, Drunk History did a short version of this historic event). You can read about the raid specifically here but the struggles she faced, getting white officers to give her the power and resources she needed to plan it, her missions to gather intelligence about the area, the presence of white abolitionists who would stop at nothing to free enslaved people opposed to more moderate members of the Union Army, the South struggling to keep their armies fed and clothed during the war to continue slavery, all culminating in a huge battle? It deserves to be seen on the big screen. Not to mention many of the Black soldiers in her ranks were freed and may have had family members on the farms they raided. It’s full of drama and larger than life characters. It’s an amazing part of history which should be more known about. 

Reboot: Blade Runner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

I’m a huge fan of Philip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? And while I acknowledge the place the original Bladerunner movie has in our cinematic history and development of the cyberpunk aesthetic, I would really like to reboot this as a miniseries to better emulate the themes of the book and update them for the modern day. 

One of the tenets of cyberpunk is ‘high tech, low life’ and our tech has indeed gone higher while the quality of life has indeed dipped, especially when compared to the billionaires who run things. I would put a bigger focus on power dynamics between class and race, which play a huge role today in how people empathize with one another. I would also want to bring in the subjects of empathy and Mercerism which were core to the original plot and themes of the book. 

In addition to recasting the movie, I would make the city of San Francisco feel more empty, as it is in the book. In the world of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Anyone who can afford it lives on Mars, away from the poisoned environment of earth. San Francisco is one of the cities affected by the pollution and its population would be much lower, giving this one vibrant city a ghost like feel full of stragglers, those hoping to leave and those forbidden to do so. One change I would make from the book besides casting more underrepresented people would be to try to visually establish the hierarchy among the humans by having some of the higher ups operating from Mars via screens/holograms to further play with the idea of reality/who is real and who isn’t. As more and more jobs become remote and with talks of the world becoming inhabitable, it would make sense for higher ups to delegate from afar, from the safety of climate controlled, sterile offices while salaried workers and hourly earners make their way through the dust and decay of a newly wild west coast where order must still be maintained. Another movie set in San Francisco I would like to take influence from would be Sorry to Bother you by Boots Riley. 

 As for the cast:

Richard Deckard: Andrew Koji. Andrew Koji has big shoes to fill. Ryan Gosling has taken on the role of the new detective who retires androids in Blade Runner 2049. San Francisco has a huge Asian population so a mixed race character would be more than plausible for a futuristic version of SF. Koji has acting chops and action chops which opens up the possibility of a bit more action. 

Iran, Richard Deckard’s wife: Indya Moore. Indya Moore is a great actress, enough said. 

Bill Barbour: Richar’s neighbor who owns a horse: William Jackson Harper. 

Bryant, Richard Deckard’s boss: Nana Visitor. This character would operate from Mars, via vidscreen. This character is originally male in the book but doesn’t have to be.

Holden, another bounty hunter who is injured by Polokov: Gwendolyn Christie. This character is male in the book but it doesn’t have to be.

Eldon Rosen: Martin Csokas. This character would operate via hologram in their headquarters on Earth. It wouldn’t be apparent from the beginning but it would become apparent as the scene played out, either through dialog or effect.

Rachel/Pris: Ruth Negga. In the book, Pris and Rachel are said to be the same model of Nexus-6 so Pris and Rachel should be played by the same person. Ruth Negga is an Irish actress with stellar acting chops who could pull this off. 

Resch, a human bounty hunter who questions his own humanity. Riz Ahmed

Garland, an android posing as a human to monitor humans via a fake police station. Michael Ealy

John Isidore: Lakieth Stanfield

Mercer: Oscar Isaac. I want him to be rich, to be honest. And he’s got good range which is important because….

Buster Friendly: Oscar Isaac. Like Pris/Rachel being the same model, I think it’d be interesting to have Buster and Mercer played by the same person, but obviously in different make up. Mercer and Buster Friendly are both there as vehicles for people to relate to, as Mercerism has the empathy machines people use to experience his trek up the hill, while ‘everyone watches Buster Friendly,’ as reported by Isodore. People on Mars and Earth participate in both forms of media, which distract people from the reality around them with promises of togetherness and emotional connection. Casting Oscar Isaac is a bit tongue in cheek, as it is kind of an internet joke that Oscar Isaac will be in anything with robots. The guy loves robots, what can I say.

Irmgard Batty: Eréndira Ibarra. 

Roy Batty: Lennie James

Max Polokov, an escaped Nexus 6 who poses as a Russian agent. Max Reimult

Luba Luft: Stephanie Beatriz. The music could be changed to better fit the story/her singing ability (which exists and is actually quite good). 

Hannibal Sloat: John Isidore’s boss: Mel Rodriguez

Milt: Isidore’s co-worker: Manny Jacinto ❤

It took me a while to think of a good cast for this story! One area I wish I could speak more to is the choice of director, as who is behind the camera is as important as who is in front of it. I mentioned Boots Riley before as someone who definitely can do interesting sci-fi, and Jordan Peele seems overdone, Ava Duvernay is really popular right now for good reasons but I know there are probably some less well known directors who could really pull this off.

I tried to pull from actors I had seem from on the most part, though there are a few I haven’t seen in many things. There is a part of me that didn’t want to cast Lennie James as Roy Batty because (spoilers for a move that has been out for a long time) Roy Batty is killed in the end and I am tired of seeing Black people die on screen. Yet Lennie James is an amazing actor who would do a great job of playing this formidable, charismatic leader of the escaped robots. My consolation besides getting to see him act is knowing there are other Black characters who make it till the end. I would also want to be careful to not have the Nexus-6 androids be simply evil, as I loathe narratives of killer robots. The company which is behind the creation of the androids, a culture that entices people to move to another planet with the promise of their own (artificial) slave, that relegates empathy to being for animals or within the confines of the empathy box…that is far more sinister to me. The fact that androids are not allowed to live on Earth is something I’d like to explore more, if I had to chance to work it for the screen.

Sometimes trying someone you are unfamiliar only seems like taking a risk, because you are unfamiliar with them, when in reality they have the ability, the drive and the desire. By looking outside the dictates of the common culture, we can be entertained by the stories people are very eager to tell. The stories we see tell us how we are viewed. If we are given more chances to show how we see ourselves, sitting down to watch Netflix can be even more chill.

A Letter to My Phone


(Inspired by Abby Zwart’s article titled A Letter To My Cell Phone)

Dear Phone, 

I have decided we need to have this conversation. You have been an important thing in my life since elementary school (even though then you were just a flip phone for the following 5 years). But, it is time we take a break. I don’t want to lose you, I need you. But that’s why we need a break, and I will lay it all out for you here. 

But before I lay it all out, I do want to say just how much I do appreciate you. You are there for me in times of emergencies. Like when I had that car accident last year and I needed to call 911. Or when you help distract me by playing a funny video when I’m having a panic attack. You help me stay close to all my friends and family. You help keep me informed about what’s going on in the world. But these things are what has led into all my issues with you. 

  1. Your screen hurts me in more than one way! 

I have had my doctor mention countless times you physically aren’t good for me. You hinder my sleep with your bright screen (even though I use your blue-light filter AND turn brightness all the way down!). You also cause my eyes to physically hurt, but this is your cousins’, TV and Computer, fault too. According to Melissa Barnett, from UC Davis, there is proof that blue light can hurt your eyes and affect one’s sleep cycle. Seeing your bright blue lights messing with my sleep cycle, which I definitely feel on a nightly basis. If you can fix your brightness and blue light, maybe we wouldn’t need to be having this conversation…  

  1. You’re kinda creepy… 

I usually forget to turn off your GPS feature, and even when I do I have theories you still follow me. At least once a day I get a notification from you asking how X location was, or how long my drive to work would be if I were to leave at X time. If you were a real person texting me asking how X location was or knew my schedule to a tea, I would have dropped you a LONG time ago. While I still have my doubts that you are listening to me 24/7, many have beliefs that you are. Overall, maybe it’s time I don’t have you with me so you can’t see where I am all the time. 

  1. Fake. News. 

You know this is an issue. I see it on my timeline all the time, and heck I am taking a class right now where one of our main focuses is learning about how to avoid fake news! I get that there are times where it is for a comedic aspect, like with The Onion articles, but even those have gotten out of hand recently, in the sense that people are actually believing them. As Sam Wineburg and Sarah McGrew, both from Stanford, mention in their article, big news companies are coming up with fake news sites when someone looks up something, especially if it is politically related. While I try to be good about checking my sources, and the SIFT idea from Check, Please! really helps with that, I’m still not perfect, as I only got an 80% on a test from Check, Please! But with the idea of SIFT, it wants you to be slow, but yet, you are so fast paced. Showing me new articles every second, or having my twitter feed full of new tweets and refreshing so often. But not only is the news you show me bad, news itself is bad for me.

  1. News is bad for me, and you keep showing me it.

The news is scary. It’s reality, and that’s what’s scary. When you show me an article about a plane crash, or some new legislation that Trump is trying to push, I understand they are real, and that’s scary. But yet, you don’t stop showing it to me, even when I don’t want to see it. Now I know I should want to see it, but I can’t handle it constantly. As Rolf Dobelli, from the Univeristy of St. Gallen in Switzerland, mentions, there are several different reasons as to why news is bad for someone, and with me having anxiety issues, those reasons are even worse for me, but you don’t care. New is misleading, irrelevant, toxic, and wastes time, as Dobelli says, and those are only some of the reasons why it’s bad. News makes me anxious, but you don’t care. You want me informed, but I can’t have that all the time. 

  1. Social Media is bad for me, and you want me to be on it.

This one should be a no brainer. Social media is bad for me, and it’s bad for everyone. It is constant pictures of people who “look better than me” and have “more perfect lives than I do”. All I see are people who are rich and famous with no care in the world. I see people who I don’t even like that I knew in high school. I see these toxic people in my life, but that’s all I see. Not only that but it’s so fast paced. As soon as I’m done with one post, there’s another 1 second later. I wish more people knew that social media wasn’t good for them, but yet everyone is obsessed, and so am I.

  1. I am obsessed with you. 

It’s as simple as that. I wake up and reach for you. I go to bed and fall asleep with you in my hand. If I leave the house without you I turn my car around to make sure you are at my side the whole time I’m out, even if it’s a 5 minute car ride. I need to not be so dependent on you, and maybe you need the same. 

I have decided that we need to take a break. As you see from above, you are toxic for me. I can’t sleep properly, I get panic or anxiety attacks almost daily because of you. I have become dependent on you to function normally on a daily basis, and that’s not okay. I need to just take a break and detox. We can still see each other, as I use you for my friends (sorry), but I need to delete half of the apps that you have. I need to not go on Reddit 20 times a day, or constantly refresh my Twitter feed. We need some space right now. Sorry if I won’t upgrade you any time soon, but it’s what’s best for me. I hope you understand…



“Two Months Later”

Hey Phone, 

It’s been a while huh… 

I’ve realized that maybe I do need you still after all. As I said, you are there for me at times of need. In emergencies, in mental health issues, with friends. You do care about me, but yet I still think we need to set some boundaries. So I have come with a list of rules you and I need to follow from now on. 

  1. Starting at 10pm every night, unless I am miraculously doing homework at this hour, you need to give me space. Your bright screen really just doesn’t do me good that late at night, so from now on, we both need our own bedtimes. 
  2. I am going to stop caving into all your news. It isn’t good for me. I know I need to stay informed, and I will but I will only look a couple times a day and will only pay attention to the big important things. 
  3. No more Social Media. Simple enough. 
  4. We need to hang out no more than 3 to 4 hours a day, preferably less if I can handle it. Do I really need you more than not? No. I don’t even need you that much probably, but baby steps. 
  5. Sorry, I’m not letting you have GPS on all the time anymore. Again, simple enough. 
  6. Lastly, for the love of God, please stop showing me fake news! I am going to try wayyy better to make sure I don’t fall for your tricks! 

Well phone, I hope these rules will last and it can help mend our relationship with each other. I believe in me, and I hope you believe in yourself. 




Dobelli, R. (2013, April 12). News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier. Retrieved March 5, 2020, from 

Gan, C. (n.d.). Is blue light from your cell phone, TV bad for your health? Retrieved March 5, 2020, from 

The all-in-one workspace for your notes, tasks, wikis, and databases. (n.d.). Retrieved March 5, 2020, from Wineburg, S., & McGrew, S. (2019, April 23). Why Students Can’t Google Their Way to the Truth. Retrieved March 5, 2020, from

Representation Film Analysis

Throughout this course, we have deeply discussed the media and Hollywood and its role in the stereotypes and portrayals of different types of people. Representation in TV and movies alone cannot be the solution to breaking these stereotypes. Having nuanced and positive characterization is absolutely crucial to dismantling these damaging portrayals. Media is the unconscious framework for which some of these identities. Being fed the same damaging narrative results in a very narrow view of the world and is almost more damaging than no representation at all. TV and movies are a useful tool we can use to rewrite those inaccurate portrayals. There are many films that I feel achieve this goal and use the tool of films in a constructive way to transcend these stereotypes created and perpetuated by Hollywood. The films I think do an exceptional job of this are Silver Linings Playbook, Moonlight, Tangerine, and Coco, for their positive representation of transgender issues, mental disorders, the LGBTQ community, Latino culture, and people of color. 


The first movie I believe contains important and positive representation that overcomes stereotypes is Silver Linings Playbook. Silver Linings Playbook deals with the realities and hardships that come with mental illness and disorders, which is not a topic we see tackled in major motion pictures. Earning multiple Academy Award nominations, the film centers around a man named Pat who recently was released from a psychiatric hospital for his bipolar disorder. We often see films trying to sugar coat mental disorders to seem like something quirky or the punchline of a joke. But in this, we see the uncomfortable realities of this disorder. While the movie is not perfect, its happy ending can be seen as romanticizing mental illness or telling an audience that love can cure your mental disorders, showing such an accurate depiction of the disorder helps to remove the stigma surrounding it. Showing the uncomfortable aspects of bipolar, like Pat having manic episodes, emotional outbursts, and dramatic mood swings are important to have accurate representation. This film also shows how important social relationships can be when battling mental illness and how helpful they can be to someone suffering from a disorder. 


Moonlight was also a revolutionary film that was able to transcend stereotypes surrounding African American men and the LGBTQ community at the same time. Moonlight not only gives positive representation to those identities but it was also beautifully filmed and won Best Picture at the 2017 Oscars. This film dismantled so many different stereotypes surrounding two identities that are not often seen together, the LGBTQ community and the African American community. The main character Chiron, a black gay man, dismantles the sterotype that gay men cannot be masculine. So often in media gay men in tv shows or movies are shown in feminine and “flamboyant”. From Modern Family to Glee, this has been seen time and time again. But in Moonlight, Chiron is a traditionally masculine man and very tough, which allows for the LGBTQ community to not be in a box. It also shows that LGBTQ characters can have other identifying factors outside of their sexualities. In the film, his mother’s addiction and how that affects his other relationships in his life. This detail helps to dismantle the overused characterization that the only issues that LGBTQ+ people deal with are related to their sexuality. It allows for LGBTQ people to not be left in a box because of their sexuality and opens the door for more nuanced and multidimensional characters. It may seem like common sense, but for gay men to be portrayed as just men who happen to be gay as opposed to a “GAY man” is so important. Lastly,  so often LGBTQ stories are told through a white character. Call Me By Your Name, Love, Simon, or The Way He Looks, we are so accustomed to LGBTQ coming of age stories being told through the eyes of white individuals. Moonlight widens those perspectives by including this intersectional character as the center of the film.


Within the film Tangerine, we see raw and authentic portrayals of the lives of transgender women of color. With the cast full of real transgender women, not cis actors pretending for a film, we get a peek into the life of this community is the heart of Los Angeles. The film does not make their gender identity the focus of the movie though. It centers around two transgender women of color, Sin-dee and Alexandra, who have their friendship tested through the movie as they have disagreements. The director of this movie also allowed the women to adapt the script to make the dialogue more authentic and realistic, making them in charge and in control of how they are being perceived. This shows that the film does not allow these women to become caricatures. But it does not ignore the discrimination and exploitation that these women have to endure. In Tangerine, we see these women’s financial struggles because of their trouble finding jobs as a result of their gender identity. This leads to most of them turning to sex work as a means of income and We see the exploitation they experience through this work as well. Tangerine does an excellent job of displaying the reality of being a transgender woman of color while also allowing these women to have a story outside of that identity.


The final film I will include in this analysis is the Disney animated movie, Coco. Throughout this movie, we follow a young boy named Miguel on his adventure into the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather. This being a children’s movie elevates its content to a whole new level. By having a storyline, characters and a setting that celebrates and appreciates Mexican culture as opposed to shaming and making fun of it, it allows for young children to see themselves and their lives in a positive and inspirational way. Coco is the perfect example of why and how representation matters. In such a euro-centric Hollywood having complex characters and incorporating important aspects of Mexican history and values allows, and winning Best Animated Feature Film, shows that we value Mexican culture. This film was able to rise above the demonizing stereotypes surrounding Latinos, especially in the political climate it was released in. I believe that every person, regardless of color, class, gender, or sexual orientation should be able to see themselves as the hero in a film and with Coco young Latino children were able to see that for themselves. 

How to Approach Web Literacy in The New Generation of The Internet

By Alex Lopez

Let’s start with the big question, “What is web literacy?” According to Wikipedia, “Web literacy comprises the skills and competencies needed for reading, writing and participating on the web.” But what does that mean in a practical sense? To sum it up, it’s knowing and understanding how to fact-check information, and why/when to do so. 

We take in countless amounts of information each and every day through social media and news outlets. The problem with this is we typically visit those websites for entertainment, rather than for deep learning. So when we see that a friend or somebody we follow has reposted an article, we take in information from the headline, sometimes a quick skim through. Speaking from experience and talking to fellow peers, 90% of the time we either believe the information we read as true, or dismiss it entirely. We think to ourselves, “Why would a friend post a fake article?” 

Now I’m not trying to say you shouldn’t trust your friends, family or followers. The problem here lies with the news sources themselves. They want you to believe what they’ve posted, otherwise they wouldn’t be posting it in the first place.

This might all seem confusing and overwhelming, so let’s break it down by using an example.

You’re scrolling through your Twitter feed and notice that your friend has posted an article: “Snoop Dogg Leads Worship At Local Megachurch.” It sounds fairly interesting, but you just don’t have time to read it right now. Frankly, you don’t know much about Snoop Dogg, you aren’t familiar with the source of the article, but you trust your friends, so you assume it’s be true. 

This article is indeed fake. It’s posted by “The Babylon Bee,” a satirical news source created to spark a conversation with bizarre headlines. 

Of course this was a rather humorous and simple example, but this type of thing can happen to all of us at any time with headlines that read more seriously.

When it comes to my generation, it seems like we’re all taught the same key things in our high school English/Literacy classes. When researching information for a project, the main points are always to:

  1. Never use Wikipedia.
  2. Only trust websites that end in “.gov” or “.net.”
  3. You must spend at least 20 minutes in order to truly verify a source.

The problem with these three points is that it’s put the notion in our minds that checking the validity of a source takes significant amounts of time and effort, and that it can’t be done in a pinch. But being in a time period where we’re taking in more information than ever before and faster than ever before, we must reconsider these “staples” to researching. Let’s break down each point one by one.

Never trust Wikipedia. This was the main point in researching that always bothered me as a high school student. We have a website that has all this information about a topic, and we aren’t allowed to use it. When I asked my teachers why that is, it always comes down to this: “Wikipedia articles are open for anyone to edit, so it shouldn’t be trusted as a reliable place to look in case of false information.” While I understand this logic, it’s missing an entire side of the equation. Because Wikipedia is so open, it allows anybody to give valuable information to a topic that they likely know a lot about. 

There are two main reasons why somebody would write/pitch in to a Wikipedia article. Either they’re super passionate about a topic and want to share it with others, or they dislike something enough to throw off the public’s perception of said thing. The main focus in schools is on the second option, and with good reason! If anybody is able to publish incorrect information about something/someone, it’s better to not use the source at all, right? But there’s a missing piece to this concept:

Wikipedia is highly regulated to prevent this type of thing from happening. 

SinceWikipedia has developed through the years and become increasingly popular, they have added methods to make sure that most (if not all) of its information is correct. Every time something is added, it must first go through the community’s editors to verify what has been posted. If it is detected that a user is adding false information to a topic with malicious intent, Wikipedia will ban them from the website, and track the user’s IP address so that they can’t just make a new account and do it again.

In order for it to be as expansive as it is, it has to be open to everyone. Wikipedia puts in a lot of effort to make sure it’s information is accurate.

Now on to the second point: Only trust websites that end in “.gov” or “.net.” The main argument for this is that websites that end in ‘.com’ or ‘.org’ can be created by anyone, and are often used for generating a profit. This is a broad generalization about these websites. The fact is, most websites use the ‘.com’ domain because it’s the easiest to create. You don’t have to be a professional, government organization to have a website. It can be created by an upcoming business or someone who just wants to share their knowledge with others.

There are plenty of great, well-trusted news sources that use this domain. To claim that these websites only exist to make money is like claiming that every restaurant only exists to make money. Of course, that is a big focus and is obviously important. But the restaurant also wants to serve great food and provide an excellent experience to their customers.

In order to make money, they have to provide great content first.

A lot of news outlets do want to make money, they’re all a business at the end of the day. But that’s not the only reason why the website was created in the first place. Like a restaurant, they must provide quality content that is true and reliable in order to attract advertisers to support the business. This isn’t to say there aren’t bad restaurants out there too! It’s just important to consider that money isn’t the only motive at play here.

So how can we accurately verify information? What are the new steps? Let’s go back to our original example, “Snoop Dogg Leads Worship At Local Megachurch.” The first step is to quick-check the source. Wikipedia can be a fantastic way of doing this, and most importantly, it can be done in a pinch. You can quickly click on the link and see that it’s from “The Babylon Bee” then look for that source on Wikipedia: 

The Babylon Bee is a news satire website that publishes satirical articles on religion, politics, current events, and well-known public figures.” So, there’s our answer. The story comes from a satirical news source that emphasizes religion and celebrities. 

But say we wanted to take this verification a little further. The next step is to google the headline. A lot of the time, an article will be reposted by other websites in order to attract traffic to their site rather than the original. Simply put, they’re stealing the story. It’s common when something is reposted by a different news source, they might end up twisting the story or leaving out important details. Leading you, the reader to believe something about a story that isn’t true for the sake of the website generating more clicks. In order to combat this, we can simple copy and paste the headline into google, and take a look at the first few sources that come up. We can either “quick-check the source” on those new websites or we can click on them to see if any of them cite the original publication source. It’s a simple way to make sure you’re getting information from the right place without all the twisted details.

You may have noticed I skipped an explanation of the third original research point, “You must spend at least 20 minutes in order to truly verify a source.” This is because I believe these new steps listed above can be done in a pinch. One of the biggest problems with the previous ways of fact-checking is that it simply took too much time to do. We are constantly moving through information, taking it all in quicker than before. Because of this, we need to be able to verify whether a source is reliable within minutes. If we are told that we must spend half an hour to make sure sources are correct, we aren’t going to be able to learn as much as we do, and we’ll often skip verifying a source at all because it’s just easier. If the new generation of students are presented with a method of fact-checking that can be done without wasting much time, we will be a much better educated generation that can process all the of the information we’re taking in as quickly as it’s being received.


Observations of Chinese Culture Portrayed in Media

In the modern society, people can easily receive massive information and messages because of the development of technologies. I’ve also watched many TV shows and movies, but I’d never thought about how those cultural traits are interpreted by people who grow up in different cultures. I want to see how Chinese culture is played in shows in a different society. I originally wanted to do Asian culture to be my topic, and I realized it was too broad since it includes many different cultures, so I decided to focus on Chinese culture.

In my opinion, Chinese culture is more conservative and strict according to what I was taught. Many classic works of literature generally tell people to be humble, polite, frugalness and satisfying what they currently have instead of having strong desires. The other way to describe can be that Chinese people believe that a good person should be able to restrain its desires and control its behaviors.

Although cultural aspects and elements are good and positive, it’s not always be interpreted in positive ways. Frugalness can be a good example of having negative impacts by over fulfilling it. I’ve seen many cases of being greedy for small advantages. Those people try to save money as much as they can, and it leads them to be greedy. One thing which is confusing me is that it’s often to see Chinese people being selfish and self-center in media, and it contradicts my idea toward Chinese culture. When I see news about Chinese people acting ridiculously in media, I really wonder why they are acting like that. I’m also thinking what impacts may be caused by the phenomenon in different society.

I started looking for TV shows and movies which are played in Western society, and I wanted to see what stereotypes and traits are portrayed in media. As I watched more TV shows and movies, I noticed comedy often includes jokes which may be a bit offensive from other perspectives since it’s made for amusing audiences, so I think comedy includes more information to talk about.

I will be discussing some stereotypes and traits which I’ve watched in media and connecting to reviews which enhance and inspire me of the understanding about them.


Silicon Valley

The first source which I chose was Silicon Valley which is made by John Altschuler, Mike Judge, and Dave Krinsky, and it’s broadcasted on HBO. There is a Chinese character, Jian-Yang, is played by Jimmy O. Yang. Jian-Yang doesn’t appear in many scenes, but he always causes issues and problems when he shows up. In my opinion, the personality of Jian-Yang is very bad in the show. He is selfish, greedy, and crafty. There is a scene showing that how Jian-Yang tries to fake a testament and fool a judge in the court, so he can inherit properties of his landlord. His landlord is out for traveling, and the landlord is tall and big, so Jian-Yang even prepares a body of a pig to pretend to be the body of his landlord. I thought it was weird and crazy when I watched it, and Jian-Yang’s roommates also think Jian-Yang is ridiculous and unreasonable.

The other scene which I remember clearly is when Jian-Yang’s roommates come back to their home, they see many technology company names which are written on a board. They ask Jian-Yang, and he replies that he will copy them to China to start new companies. I thought the producers are trying to satirize copyrights issues between Chinese companies and the US companies.

These two scenes may not have significant relations in Chinese culture, but these reflect Chinese traits which people see in modern society. There are other scenes in Silicon Valley representing selfish actions which Jian-Yang does. I guess the reason for producers to create these scenes may relate to what I mentioned earlier. They may have seen cases of Chinese people being selfish and self-center in their life, and the behaviors may offend other people.

However, I’m also thinking that for people who are not so familiar with Chinese culture, they may really be affected by media. According to an article, The Chinese in Silicon Valley: Globalization, Social Networks, and Ethnic Identity by Bernard P. Wong., reviewed by Joseph Bosco, it mentions that Chinese population is very concentrated in Silicon Valley workforce because of globalization. I think the TV show is trying to show some conflicts existing between Chinese and local employees as Chinese population keeps increasing in the area.

Fresh Off the Boat

The TV show, Fresh Off the Boat, is made by Nahnatchka Khan according to a biography which is written by Eddie Huang, and the show is originally played by ABC. Eddie Huang is an immigrant, and he writes the book to tell the story of growing up in the U.S. as Taiwanese family. There are many stereotypes being portrayed on the show since it is trying to represent the differences and conflicts between two cultures.

Eddie’s mother, Jessica Huang, is a very stereotyped Taiwanese mom in my opinion. She always forces or leads her kids to focus more on studying, so they can be accepted into schools with the nice reputation. Instead of thinking about being actors or rappers, Jessica thinks it’s better to have a practical and stable job such as doctor or engineer, so studying is the only thing that Jessica want her kids to do. Although Eddie receives straight A’s at the school, his mom thinks the school should be more difficult and strict. There is an interesting thing in here. Since Jessica thinks Eddie should study more, she wants to send him to “Chinese Learning Center”. I was wondering what was CLC, and then the show explains CLC is a place where students are given massive examination questions for them to complete, and they have to stay there studying for couple hours and complete questions again and again. This is very common in Taiwan and in some countries such as China, Japan, and Korea. Many students are getting the high-stress education by taking uncountable exams and infinite examination questions in order to be accepted in popular universities. Taiwanese parents generally believe studying is the only way to gain a chance to qualify stable jobs since companies tend to hire people graduated from popular schools. I’ve personally heard of people intuitively think I must be good at studying and math. In my opinion, if they received the same style of education, they might be even better.

One thing I also noticed in the show is superstition. When Jessica receives a check with many numbers 4 on it, she thinks it’s better to get rid of it because the pronounce of 4 is close to the word “die” in Mandarin. And Jessica believes it attracts bad luck if she keeps the money. I think this scene perfectly represents the different cultural concept. In Chinese culture, there are many taboos, and people may view it as superstition. For example, hospitals in Taiwan usually don’t have number 4 in elevators because no one wants to stay on the fourth floor especially in hospitals. I think this scene provides a great idea of how people with the different cultural background view things differently.

In one episode, Eddie’s school is asking students to pick a culture and represent the cultural traits. Eddie doesn’t want to do China. I guess the reason is Chinese culture is not so popular and liked in Western society. Also, in the show, Eddie is the only Chinese student at his grade, so he joins his friends’ group for representing Jamaica. When they are chatting, one of his friends makes fun of China saying China having nothing to show. In the scene, Eddie is getting serious about what his friend says about China and questioning him to be more specific about his words. In the show, Eddie is brave enough to speak up for protecting his identity and culture, but what about in reality? An article “Yes, you can laugh at your culture: Fresh Off the Boat cocreator Nahnatchka Khan explains why seeing the humor in your roots is the key to happiness” by Katie L. Connor talks about the impact of cultural differences. People often experience embarrassing moments because of cultural differences, and they can choose to just laugh about it. I think an important point in here is people can laugh about their “own” cultures since they have enough understanding. If people laugh or make fun of other cultures, it can just simply be considered despising other cultures.


Silicon Valley shows many contradictions to my understanding of Chinese culture. In my opinion, Silicon Valley is showing the phenomenon of Chinese people in recent years. The TV show reflects what people actually see in life about Chinese people. It may be exaggerated in comedy, but there are many cases of weird behaviors done by Chinese people in reality. And Fresh Off the Boat represents many Chinese cultural stereotypes such as frugalness and CLC. When I compare these two TV shows that I watched, I think it’s apropos to say that’s what I see in the past and now. I think Chinese culture is not valued as much as in the past as I see more and more negative cases about Chinese people. Instead of control itself or caring others, more and more Chinese people just do what they want without considering for others. It’s sad to see this happen as a Chinese person, and I think it really hurts the image of Chinese culture.


Work Cited

“The Chinese in Silicon Valley: Globalization, Social Networks, and Ethnic Identity by Bernard P. Wong.”  Reviewed by Joseph Bosco. 2006.

“Yes, you can laugh at your culture: Fresh Off the Boat cocreator Nahnatchka Khan explains why seeing the humor in your roots is the key to happiness” by Katie L. Connor. Cosmopolitan, 2015, Vol.258(3), p.50(1)


Artists are Kooky Eccentrics… Right?


Artists have an unusual relationship with popular media; first of all, it’s kind of difficult to locate many artists in pop culture in the first place, a fact that I fully came to understand after searching for examples of artists in a number of sources. In movies and TV shows, artists are largely unpopular characters to be found; I had to dig deep and think somewhat abstractly before I came across some suitable characters for my argument. And when they are present in the media, they’re also very commonly portrayed as either eccentric weirdos, or lower class people.


Is this really an issue? I mean, artists really are often living life to their own beat.. Many artists don’t follow the conventional rules that our society has decided are the right ones all the time, and they often don’t make a ton of money. I know people like this in my real life, and I’m sure most other people do, too. I mean, I’m an Art student myself, so I’m familiar with the stereotype.  So what’s the big deal? Why is it an issue to only ever portray artists like they’re the misfits in society, never the norm?

In popular media in the United States, I think there’s a bit of a chicken and the egg situation happening. It happens to all kinds groups of people, but I’m going to focus on the artists here for a moment. A lot of people in this world are only exposed to a large number of things exclusively through their television, or as of the last 20 years or so, their computer or smartphone. It’s somewhat reasonable, there’s not enough time or resources to experience everything first hand. It just can become an issue what that’s all they have to base their ideas and opinions on for all kinds of things, and people. It has very real consequences of how people perceive things in their lives. What I’m trying to get at here is that when they see the typical “starving artist” being portrayed in their favorite TV show, that stereotype can honestly change their impressions of people that they perceive as fitting in that box. Basically, if the TV is treating artists like poor weirdos, eventually that will come to pass and have an impact on the lives of real people.

Exhibit A: Titanic


The Titanic is an epic romance story released in the 1990s that focuses more on the lives of two passengers of the ship than the disaster itself. A wealthy upper class lady named Rose is due to be married off to someone of her status when she finds Jack. He’s one of the lower deck passengers, and he doesn’t have much money to his name. Jack is an artist, which is why he’s relevant here.   We know this because Rose asks him to draw her “like one of his French girls”, which he does so gladly. The film depicts him as very skilled, drawing Rose with a level of dedication and intensity that really only belongs to a master of his craft (Also Leonardo Dicaprio does a great job with his acting in this scene, which helps a lot). Jack is also seen to very clever and an all around upstanding guy, but Rose’s family would never approve of him because he is both poor and an artist. Only the best noblemen for their darling daughter Rose.  Surprisingly, this sentiment hasn’t really changed for a lot of people over the course of roughly 110 years, and a lot of parents wouldn’t be pleased if their daughter brought home an artist today. Living in Portland, it’s easy to forget that there’s such a stigma against those that are passionate for the arts because it’s such a progressive city that really supports its artists, but there are still plenty of people in this world that think it’s a complete waste of you time to invest in any kind of art related skill at all.

Basically, everyone but Rose discards Jack as being a worthless waste of space despite his numerous skills and generally likeable personality, all because he’s an artist and poor. I think part of the reason Rose falls for him because she knew his personality before his background, and not the other way around. Chances are, Rose would have ignored him too, has she known he was poor if the world in Titanic is anything like the real one. Then again, there was totally room for Jack on that board so who knows?

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It’s hard to say what the causation/correlation relationship is between being poor and being an artist, but it’s definitely fair to say that they’re often found together in popular media.


Exhibit B: Edward Scissorhands

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Edward scissorhands was a not-so-obvious choice for this project at first glance, because when I think of Edward Scissorhands, my first thought is “weird sort of Christmasy, sort of Halloweeny move about that guy with the scissorhands”. My second thought is “Yup, that’s a Tim Burton film”.  ‘Artist’ was definitely not the first word that popped into my mind in any case. I quickly changed my mind when I gave it further consideration, though.

It’s a quirky movie about a really lonely scientist who lives in a mansion overlooking a small suburban town. Out of this loneliness the scientist comes up with the idea of creating a human being to fill that empty void in his life. Instead of doing it the old fashioned way, he literally creates a person with various machines, parts and pieces, and of course love. And so Edward was ‘born’. However, just before the scientist could finish Edward, he dies, leaving him with clumsy scissors for hands. Edward is found by a kindly middle age woman involved in a pyramid scheme from the suburban town below, and is takes him into her home. Eventually it’s discovered that Edward is greatly skilled at using his scissorhands to  make things of beauty. He starts out with trimming hedges into amazing topiaries, and then graduated to doing pet grooming and hair styling on the women of the town.

I like this movie for this topic because both Edward and his creator can be considered to be artists. The scientist designed Edward and created him out of love, just as many artsits and graphic designers do with their own work.  Edward is a more spontaneous kind of artist, and doesn’t seem to need to have much of a planning stage before he gets down to the creation. It’s almost like the scientist passed on his ability to create to Edward, and Edward is carrying out his legacy in his own way; Art creating art. It’s also noteworthy to mention that they were both very much outcasts in this strange fictional world. We didn’t learn much about him in the film, but the scientist clearly never fit into society, living on all by his lonesome in a great looming mansion, forced to create someone that would accept him. Edward is of course an outcast because he’s never been exposed to anything; everything is new and a bit scary to him. He almost comes from another world in the context of this suburban town. His personality heavily contrasts with the other people in this film as well. He’s depicted as a quiet, introspective individual who’s probably very sensitive and naive. I wouldn’t say these kinds of traits are associated with an artist, but I do think that they’re often associated with weird people which is telling.

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 I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but I’m also intrigued by how Edward’s scissorhands, the tools that he uses to make his art, are the very things that keep him from being able to get close to other people. Whenever he tries, he ends up hurting the people around him, or himself. It’s like the thing that allows him to be so successful and happy is also the thing that holds him back and the thing that makes others question his worth in the first place.


Exhibit C: Grace and Frankie


This is a comedy show that aired on Netflix a few years ago. A rough synopsis would be that two elderly women who aren’t fond of each other due to a personality clash end up living with each other after their husbands declare that they’re gay, and that they’re marrying one another. Grace is a stuck up prim and proper type who used to own a major beauty product company, while Frankie is the embodiment of the classic kooky art teacher stereotype. Some qualifying examples include:

  • Has her own art studio in the house
  • Teaches ex-cons how to paint
  • Smokes an obscene amount of weed
  • Has a sizable collection of penis shaped vases
  • Likes to “go with the flow”
  • Wears a lot of loose tie-dye clothing
  • Wears chunky gemstone jewelry
  • And many others

Grace and Frankie get the idea to create their own company at some point, and it quickly becomes evident that Grace is going to be the one who calls the shots. If Frankie even tries, she’s immediately shut down because her ideas are too weird, or she’s too weird in the first place. Her main contribution to the business was the initial idea in the first place, and the art on the packaging of the product, and after that she was more or less ignored.

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She is also shown to be unable to stick to something; she’s a vegetarian,but sometimes eats meat and constantly eats junk food. Part of that is the fact that she’s also representing the stoner stereotype, but that’s another stereotype that is often seen in association with artists as well.

Art Movies?


So what about Art Movies? Don’t movies that explore the fabulous lives of artists like Van Gogh and Caravaggio show them in a favorable light? The answer is yes, they absolutely do, but it kind of doesn’t count. First of all, these people are only put on a pedestal today. They weren’t always the historical figures that we seem them as now. In their own time, they were seen as just as eccentric and weird as any other not very well known artist of today. Second of all, these movies are hugely embellished and over emphasized, but they’re still based on the lives of real people, while I’m focusing on fictional artists. And thirdly, most people don’t watch art movies. They’re usually kind of weird and not all that consumer friendly, sort of an acquired taste. Basically, they’re not really “pop culture” at that point, so I don’t really think that a movie that idealizes an artist like Van Gogh is really saying anything about society.

So, are artists receiving the short end of the stick in media? Kind of. The vast majority of examples of artists on TV right now are mostly cast aside as weird people who don’t abide by the normal societal rules. It matters a lot to me because I’m living that life; I’m paying a lot of money, and I’m spending a ridiculous amount of time dedicated to becoming a better artist. I want to hone my craft, I want to become better and I want to be able to identify as an artist without feeling shameful or guilty because it’s a “waste of my time”. Despite having two other minors in more “sensible” fields, I’ve still had people tell me I’m wasting my effort on such a useless degree. I want other artists to feel like it isn’t a stupid decision follow their passion if they feel like they have to willpower to make it work.

If we only ever see strange weird people being artists in our media, that’s the only thing that’s ever going to happen. I understand fully they there are outcast artists, but they certainly aren’t all going to fit in that mold, contrary to how we’re seeing them now on TV. Art is important; creativity is vital to a functional society. If we want to have a social environment that fosters a positive relationship with creative people, then yeah, this kind of representation needs to change, or at least have a bit more diversity.


Learning Moments

Throughout the course of this class, I learned a few things about myself, the most prominent of which is the fact that I don’t tend to agree with the majority of the opinions that I would read from my classmates. At least about the articles we would read in the given week, anyway. We read “The News is Bad For You” by Rolf Dobelli and when I read it I was pretty unenthused by the author’s opinion that we should stop consuming altogether and the world would be a better place (paraphrasing, but that honestly was the jist that I got). However, I was surprised that a lot of my classmates were totally on board. “The article “News is Bad For You” was actually my favorite article to read in this weeks texts. This is mostly because I definitely reside with the words written in this article- and I’ve said those things my whole life. News is DEPRESSING. News causes unnecessary anxiety. News, for the most part, focuses on the wrong part of the information being shared. We’re so quick to believe every word we see in the news, and we often get emotions while watching the news that we don’t or shouldn’t need to feel about certain situations. We get scared to fly in a plane because of the Malaysia plane going missing, we get scared to do a marathon in case a terrorist bombs it, etc. Unnecessary fear spoon fed to us by the news.” – week 6.  Where I saw a loss of agency and empathy, they saw an opportunity to escape the more depressing side of being caught up in the news. It was an interesting experience to be at such polar ends of the spectrum, especially because I’m certainly not the most up to date person in the world.

The second thing I learned was just how under represented artists are in media! I know I already discussed it in the meat of the post above, but I really did have a hard time finding examples, especially from the library’s resources. My initial plan was to also include a section on the differences between male and female artists in popular media, but I couldn’t find a large enough sample to make any kind of conclusive deductions with what I had.

Overall, I had a better experience than I initially thought I would have, and I really found myself fully engaged in writing my weekly blog posts and reading the articles (even if I didn’t agree with them… maybe especially if I didn’t agree with them). Before this class, I was very turned off by online courses, and now I’ll definitely be giving more of them a try in my college career.  


Art Imitates Art, Steve Chagollan, Variety, Jan 8, 2001, Vol.381(7), p.S8,


Art in the Movies, Jim Gaylord,


Edward Scissorhands – Tim Burton – 2005


Grace and Frankie – Netflix (Firm),, et al. Grace and Frankie. Santa Monica, CA: Lionsgate, 2016.


TITANIC 1999 – James Cameron – United States Titanic. (1999). [DVD] United States: James Cameron.


How mexicans are stereotyped and represented in a negative light in media

Isn’t it obvious by now?

Pretty much everyone is aware of the common stereotypes that are used to portray Mexicans, enough to where you could make a list. I feel like the most common perceptions I see are the “funny friend”, the “machismo/violent man”, and the “hot latinas” who are considered spicy or loud. Mexican is an overstatement because these stereotypes and more are often used and grouped with other communities, like Latinos and Hispanics. So there is often a lack of representation because they’re not accurately being culturally representative. Often, I see people forget the differences between them. I wanted to look into films and television to further my point in how Mexicans are often portrayed negatively or not represented in a culturally respective light. Even though in today, we are noticing some changes through the media, we are still lagging empathy and logic in recognizing the differences in other communities. The problem I am seeing is not just the portrayal in media but the lack of understanding that these things are not reality and what perceptions come within.

¡Three Amigos! Directed by John Landis

This is a movie that falls into the category of comedy and “adventure”. I am not sure about the purpose of the movie. Although, Steve Martin who wrote the screenplay had been attached to the project since 1980 and went through rejections prior to Landis. It changed throughout time, by that I mean the title and actors involved. None of those actors for the “amigos” were in any ethnicity of Hispanic or Mexican. It premiered on the 10th of December 1986 in the U.S.

I feel like I can’t speak for that but what I can say is, it affected more of the older generation viewers since it was out in their generation and kind of created and pushed this idea and fascination of the humor of Mexicans and the slang. It kind of made “amigo” a more used and popular word too. I realized now where a lot of people have gotten it from when they’re in a group of three like the three musketeers.

The stereotypes I often saw were like the “bandito” meaning the violent or thief like man. With the bandito, there was the sidekick who wasn’t very smart and had a very distinct odd accent that stood out more than the others which I thought portrayed a lot with the “funny Mexican friend” stereotype that furthered on in other media.

Below is a clip, showing how “dumb” Jefe is acting:

While observing the characters in the movie I noticed that the “Mexicans” were given this dirty image, and it seemed like they used a mild level of brown face. My reason for this observation is that the actor Tony Plana who is American-Cuban has significantly lighter skin than his character Jefe. Because they are set in a desert, I understand why he may appear to be more tan but he also looks very dirty, which reflects the stereotype of Mexicans being uncivilized. Though he is Cuban, there were a lot of other actors non-POC that played Mexicans in the movie.

Tony plana jefe.jpg

The movie seemed to stereotype just to help convey a point or simply for humor. Since they were all comedians they were probably just trying to “poke at it” instead of appropriating but it’s very demeaning when you think of it. In comedy, it appears to me that it is easier to get away with appropriation and stereotypes since it’s all for the “comedic relief”. What people don’t get is this action causes the audience to feel like it’s okay to joke around about it. Stand-up comedians, for instance, make fun of their own races but forget that their audience is more diverse than they imagine and that can cause an issue by how people interpret and interact with others in their daily lives.

Modern Family

S3:E22 Disneyland

S4:E13 Fulgencio

In this show, there is often this portrayal of Sofia Vergara who is American-Columbian and plays the character, Gloria. Gloria is often dressed in provocative clothing and is always speaking in a loud feisty tone, that is often portrayed with Mexican, latina, and Hispanic women. This isn’t the only time Sofia has played this type of character, in most movies or cameos she is typecast into this role. I find it interesting because Claire whose the other mom and the daughter of the man who married Gloria, is always dressed in comfy “soccer mom” clothing, so why can’t both of them dress either way? The differences between the two really show how often they stereotype Gloria and even her tv-show son and family.

Gloria Modern Family tops claire modern family

In episode twenty-two of season three “Disneyland” Jay is in shock when Gloria’s angry tone starts to calm down when her heels are off when she puts on the slippers he got her from a Disney boutique.

He then says “ Now please don’t go all Latin on me, when I say this ”

He was wondering if the reason she gets angry is that she’s always wearing uncomfortable shoes. This might not be the biggest deal but it’s still a problem with the generalization that all Latinas turn angry or spicy on men or people. Why is Latin used when he could have just said, “don’t get angry with me when I tell you this”. When he uses latin does he mean the stereotype of all Latina women being overly dramatic and angry or Latinx being anyone of latin decent? I do know that people use this stereotype on all women of this community.

In the “Fulgencio” episode, there was a lot going on… it started with Jay getting annoyed by Gloria’s relatives and doesn’t want their newborn babies name to be Fulgencio. Which is what Gloria’s mom wanted since it was her dead husband’s name.

He says to her mom “in America, it’s not real common to hear the name, Fulgencio”

The mom then tries to teach him how to pronounce it right when he butchers the name.

He then goes like; “I don’t even practice it, because I can’t name my son that”

Gloria’s sister is shown at 7:00. Claire mentions to Gloria that she’s getting pretty cozy with the “housekeeper” when Gloria tells her that’s her sister, you can tell Claire was surprised because of how weird the relationship was.

Her sister comes back in the scene asking “where is the river?”. At the end of the episode, they offer to buy the sister a house of her own so she can be “independent”. This idea as if she is helpless and can’t find her way out is often used as a stereotype for not just women of Mexican, Latinx, Hispanic culture but men too.

It seems like Gloria is the focal point and the comedy of the show for always being the diva and getting over emotional, I found a video of a compilation of her mispronunciations, since English isn’t her first language and she always gets corrected, but at the end; the family starts making fun of the times she had mispronounced and you can see she got really offended.

Danny Trejo… the typecast issue

The reason I picked the actor instead of a specific movie of the stereotype is that I find it very interesting that this actor, Danny Trejo is typecast into this bandito, angry violent character who kills people. People literally know him as that type of character but don’t really know any of his other stuff since there isn’t too much that stem off from the stigma. It does make it hard when his past, prior from acting; he was in and out of jail and prison which I feel like gave him this persona that he could only play in that type of role.

I am going to list a few movies he is in and just gives you the brief similarities of who he plays and attach photos.

Machete (most commonly what he is known of) directed by Robert Rodriguez (2010)

danny trejo

  • ladies man, violent character/vengeance, solving everything by killing

This Machete is very different than the one in spy kids because it shows a very violent side of him, where he deadly kills a lot of people.

Spy Kids, directed by Robert Rodriguez as well, first opens to the character Machete who is the uncle of the kids. Which was original what movie I knew from him and grew up with. He at first is very closed off and doesn’t want to express his emotions and tell his nephews that he misses his family and loves them because he is afraid and feels like he has to play tough. It is very different from what he regularly plays which makes it stand out. Although he is still pretty intimidating in this role, he becomes more open later by revealing how emotional he actually is in the series. He then helps the team a lot.  

Bad Ass directed by Craig Moss (2012)

danny trejo bada

  • Violent character/vengeance
  • Difference: he did show a little vulnerability that he often hides in his other movies.

In this movie, he has a hard time as a war veteran with a disability, to find a job so his last resort becomes working at a hot dog stand. He then gets this badass label when he beats up two white guys on a bus to protect the civilians.

I had realized that most of the reason why he killed was from some sort of vengeance or for the good but it still doesn’t beat the fact that his most played type of character is someone who is willing to use violence and someone who is intimidating and scary rather than playing a sweet or a romantic character. Yes, he’s been in comedy but it isn’t his most liked stuff or is left unrecognized since people rather see him kill in tv.

Let’s Back It Up Now…

In an article, I found called Using Media Literacy to Explore Stereotypes of Mexican Immigrants written by Lucila Vargas and Bruce DePyssler; they mentioned something very relatable to the point of what I am trying to come across.

“Media producers select small pieces of the real world and use them as building blocks in their own constructions.” ( pg.4)

Basically, they grab a small portion of what is considered real and make it into something totally opposite. Either that be replacing POC with white actors or stigmatizing a group and influencing the audience that Hispanics and Latinos are the same as Mexicans and they all speak with a funny accent, have this sexy look, are seen as violent, criminal or lazy. Where’s the positive light? We might be doing better recently but not enough to make a difference.

So what now?

In conclusion, these films and television shows have put some impact on their audience by the way they see the world. The idea of Mexicans are often grouped with other Spanish like speaking communities that aren’t even Mexican but because they speak a foreign language similarly it all involves sombreros and funny accents. Stereotypes have become so normalized through the years that even some Mexicans seem to be fine with it. The question I keep asking myself is, what can we do to break down these barriers and avoid the issue of grouping and stigmatizing?

Learning moments

During this term I learned a lot in the way media does influence our way of thinking and helps us perceive things, rather it is the right or wrong way. I do think as a society we need to not let film, news, and other sources of media and the internet, interpret how we see things and people exactly but learn from it and ask ourselves… is this accurate?
I would say a big learning moment would be the Every Single Word videos. I came with an expectation that there weren’t going to be many and kind of had an idea of the purpose. Although it was more shocking to see some movies that didn’t have any single person of color… That’s just like WOW… And the ones that did have an act, they were small roles most of the time and stereotypical.

Work Cited

    1. ¡Three Amigos!. Dir. John Landis. Perf. Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Martin Short. HBO Video, 1986. Film.
    2. Modern Family. Dir. Jason Winer, Steven Levitan. Perf. Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ed O’Neil, etc. American Broadcasting Company. 2009. Television Show.
    3. Machete. Dir. Robert Rodriguez. Dir. Ethan Maniquis. Perf. Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Steven Seagal. 20th Century Fox, 2010. Film
    4. Bad Ass. Dir. Craig Moss. Perf. Danny Trejo, Ron Perlman, Joyful Drake, etc. Samuel goldwyn Films, 2012. Film
    5. Spy Kids. Dir. Robert Rodriguez. Perf. Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Antonio Banderas, Danny Trejo, etc. 2001. Film
    6. Vargas, Lucila, and Bruce DePyssler. “Using Media Literacy to Explore Mexican Stereotypes of Mexican Immigrants.” Social Studies and the New Immigration, Nov. 1998.

Computer Magic


This blog post is not meant to nitpick the details of popular culture artifacts to show how they have allegedly contributed to negative stereotypes of programmers. I decided I wanted to take the approach of how programmers are represented across genres, across disciplines, and even in different countries. Computer science is a broad field, so I feel that looking at the material in a similar, broad approach is justified.

As you may have already noticed, the identity that I am going to analyze is that of the Computer Scientist. We go by many different names: Programmers, Software Developers, Software Engineers, Hackers. These are just a few of them, but they represent the majority. Now, when I initially did my analysis of pop culture artifacts, I looked primarily at TV shows. This was because lately there have been a plethora of shows with characters fitting this bill. These are mostly shows that I have watched myself, which is likely due to wanting to see characters similar to my identity. But, as the class has progressed this term, I have gotten some other interesting ideas for places to look for artifacts. One of those is commercials that represent this identity.

I am going to start out with an overview of the pilot episode for each of these TV shows that I analyzed, and some of the things that I noticed while watching them. I chose the pilot episodes as a way to hone in on the initial representations for the audience. Next I will tie those artifacts to secondary sources, and go more in depth – tying together the characters, and discussing the significance of the genre to their representations. I will end off with a personal assessment of how my identity is portrayed in pop culture, linking my own experiences to how my identity is seen.

Mr. Robot:

I chose the pilot episode of Mr. Robot as my first pop culture artifact. This is a TV show about a hacker, Eliot, and his team that is trying to bring down one of the most powerful conglomerates in the world. The genre is a mixture of drama and psychological thriller.

One of the reasons I believe programmers have an inclination to watch this particular show it the fact that it tries to set itself apart from previous ideas of computers. When classifying oneself as a programmer, it is important to look at the means by which this identity is even possible – this being that of the computer. For years pop culture has used computers as important plot devices without delving too deep into what they even are. They are seen as a black box, a source of magical power that is hard to understand. In the article ‘Mr. Robot killed the Hollywood Hacker’, Doctorow even goes as far as to say “Mr. Robot makes a turning point for how computers and hackers are depicted in popular culture”.

Mr. Robot throws away these ideas. One detail that struck out to me is just the name of the episode. The name itself looks like a typical filename on someones computer. The numbering system of the episodes even lends itself to fundamental ideas in Computer Science. There are ten episodes in the first season, and they are labeled eps1.0, eps1.1, …, eps1.9. Starting to count at 0 is a small detail, but something that is done often in programming.

Eliot does have tendencies to fall into regular stereotypes of computer programmers. He hates talking to people. He spends most of his time holed up in his apartment on his computer, wishing that he could be less anxious all the time. He is a pale, caucasian male – the epitome of programmer. This seems to be overshadowed by the realistic approach towards technology, the scenes of Eliot stopping a hack by pinpointing the issue while the audience watches the commands that he is entering into his terminal. Eliot even demonstrates some of the motivations mentioned in the article ‘Hacking Hollywood: Discussing hackers’ reactions to three popular films’ – namely, ‘curiosity’, ‘knowledge’ and to escape the boring world around them.

Silicon Valley: Minimum Viable Product

Silicon Valley is an American TV show about a group of software developers in Silicon Valley who are trying to make a name for themselves with their startup company, Pied Piper. The genre primarily falls under comedy.

There are many scenes in this show that play into stereotypes. The guys walking through he part and mentioning that all of the girls and guys are separated – showing that programmers are typically bad (yet extremely obsessed) with women. Erlich Bachman is being pitched to on  an idea of Binary Soup, alphabet soup with 1’s and 0’s. Bachman grills the guy and goes into how he memorized the hexadecimal times tables when he was 14 – “Ask me what 9 times f is”!

Then there is a quote by Gavin Belson that leads into my next point. He says, “That’s weird. They always travel in groups of 5, the programmers. There’s always a tall skinny white guy, short skinny asian guy, fat guy with a ponytail, some guy with crazy facial hair, and then an east indian guy”.

The article titled ‘HBO’s Silicon Valley and Stereotyping’ goes into detailed analysis of the demographics of Silicon Valley in reality, versus that of the TV show. According to this article, 71.8% of the cast of Silicon Valley are white, whereas the population of Palo Alto is 60.6% white, and the tech industry alone only has 44.1% white workers. The Asian population is the most grossly underestimated as they only comprise 9.1% of the show, despite having more tech workers in the area than even white workers.

The IT Crowd: Yesterday’s Jam

The IT Crowd is a British sitcom about the workers in the Information Technology department for a company that are forced to work hidden in the basement. As mentioned previously, the genre falls under situational comedy, and this is the only non-American show on the list.

One of the IT characters, Roy, is shown sitting at his messy desk eating fried chicken. He is wearing a graphic t shirt that looks dingy. His hair is messy, and there are boxes littered all over the office. He waits a while to answer the phone because he is busy eating and licking his fingers off, then he gets angry on the phone. The other character, Moss, is shown wearing big rimmed glasses, a button up shirt and a tie. He then tries to explain to someone what is wrong with their computer, and doesn’t understand why they don’t understand what he is talking about. When a girl comes downstairs, Roy quietly rubs deodorant on his shirt sleeves and his face, then tries to make it seem like they were talking about books. Moss is oblivious, and keeps asking questions about what he is talking about instead of going with it. Later on in the show, their new manager says “You know, I mean I’m a people person. And people like you need a person to deal with people, a people person like me.” Even later on she tells them “It’s all right for you two. You’re used to being social piranhas.”



There was a pattern between the three, where they all had some line self referencing themselves into some kind of stereotype. Silicon Valley, and the conversations about how all groups of programmers are basically the same. In the IT crowd, they are generalized as being social piranhas, and overall just terrible with people. In Mr. Robot, Elliot says something about how hackers get bored quick and will just move on to the next job. It is interesting because they all come out with their stereotypes upfront, and all in their pilot episodes.

My thoughts

Now that I have looked at all of these sources, I felt it would be important to assess my feelings for how my identity is represented in pop culture. I will agree this identity is primarily dominated by men. I am currently working at Garmin AT in Salem for a Software Engineer internship, which I started the same day that this class started. Right now there are two other software interns there with me, but on different teams. They are both females, which is kind of surprising given that it seems a large percentage of my classmates in Computer Science are male.

On the other hand, I am working on a team of about 10 people. All of us are white males. In fact, the majority of the people at work or school that I know are white males. Now, I do not know if this is because of the location or not – it is just something notable. For the most part I feel that this identity is portrayed pretty well in pop culture. Silicon Valley, for example, has its statements such as the quote by Gavin Belson, but it shows a wide range of personalities among its programmers that I can relate to. I am also impressed with how Mr. Robot gets rid of the idea that computers are black boxes of magic without going too in depth (which would end up making the show boring).

Some Interesting Commercials

Works Cited

Primary Sources:

Judge, M. (Writer/Director), Altschuler, J. (Writer),  & Krinskey, D. (Writer). (April 6, 2014). Minimum Viable Product [Television series episode]. In J. Kleverweis (Producer), Silicon Valley. Palo Alto, CA: HBO.

Esmail, S. (Writer), & Oplev, N. A (Director). (June 24, 2015). [Television series episode]. In I. Srubshchik (Producer), Mr. Robot. Universal City, CA: Universal Cable Productions.

Linehan, G. (Writer/Director). (February 3, 2006). Yesterday’s Jam [Television series episode]. In A. Atalla (Producer), The IT Crowd. London, England: Talkback Thames.

Secondary Sources:

Doctorow, C. (2017). Mr. Robot Killed the Hollywood Hacker. MIT Technology Review, 120(1), 100-103. Retrieved May 3, 2018, from

Vlad, J. (2011). Hacking Hollywood: Discussing hackers’ reactions to three popular films. Journal of Media Research, 4(2), 95-113. Retrieved May 3, 2018, from

Lai, L. (2017, August 22). HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ and Stereotyping. Retrieved May 13, 2018, from


How to be a College Student (according to popular culture)

The Side We See

There are two sides to college. One is the exams, books, and studying side, while the other is the drinking, parties, and fun side. Which one do we see more often in popular culture? Well the fun side, of course. Yes, the serious part of college is very real and important. Academics, knowledge, and drive for future success is really the whole purpose of it all. But, this is not what will really entertain people on the big screen.

Instead, movies show its audiences what they want to see. The typical college movie
revolves around the fun parts of college life; a few prime examples I found in my research were 22 Jump Street, Neighbors, and Happy Death Day.  In all three movies,
each capture and glamorizes everything on the side of college that lures teens and
young adults in – crude humor, pretty girls, hot guys, partying, alcohol, and fun. As a college student myself, I have to say I personally love these movies and think they are hilarious. These movies are all in good fun and in all honesty, do portray some truth at a glimpse of college life. But here’s the problem: what draws the line between what is fun and too much fun?

The Side We Don’t

In February 2017, a freshman at Miami state was found dead in a dorm room due to alcohol poisoning. A couple months later, a pledge from Pennsylvania State died from binge drinking and rough hazing by a fraternity. Later on, another student at Louisiana State University found dead with toxic levels of alcohol in his system. This is the side that we don’t see in movies and popular culture.  It seems like the same unfortunate story happens over and over, and since these occurrences aren’t particularly out of the norm, nothing is done about it. The glamorization of college, freedom, and fun in the media makes it easy to forget the very real consequences that can come from reckless behavior.

This really made me question the crude way college life is represented in the movies like 22 Jump Street, Neighbors, and Happy Death Day. It goes to show that the effects that they have in appropriating college culture can be harmful to its viewers, who are mostly teens and young adults. The way college culture is currently portrayed in the media leads to unrealistic expectations and troubling behaviors in students in the real world.

22 Jump Street

In this movie, two undercover cops are assigned to go to college as students and find a drug dealer on campus. Amidst their mission, they try to blend into the college lifestyle by doing the same things and acting the same ways as the college kids around them.

The whole vibe of the movie is very humorous, following the plot of the undercover cops’ mission while portraying a glimpse of college culture. The more compelling things are what really make the movie – like sports, frats, parties, drinking, and drugs.

Given the theme of the movie, alcohol and drugs are widely normalized in 22 Jump Street, being used, talked about, and humored throughout. For example, in order to become initiated into a fraternity and gain their trust, the two undercover cops drink and are hazed until they can barely function.


The movie itself does not take place on a college campus, but is still highly associated
with college through greek life. The whole plot of the movie involves a fraternity
houses’ neighbors trying to calm them from being loud so that they could live a normal life. Again, this movie portrays fun, light hearted humor as the two houses prank and rival each other.


In this movie, the college boys associated in the fraternity are represented as rowdy,
uncontrollable party animals. It fits with the whole theme, but what was strange was
the crude way young college students were shown  in the film. I don’t remember one
calm, studious college student throughout the movie. They were all portrayed as alcohol driven, immature, and obnoxious frat boys who only knew how to cause trouble and party all day.

Happy Death Day

A slightly different genre from the first two movies, Happy Death Day is a thriller that revolves around a girl who dies everyday and comes back to life until she finds her murderer. The movie does take place on a college campus, though, and gives us a good idea on what college life might be like.Being that the movie’s protagonist lives the same day over and over, here are a couple
things that I picked up on for the average day in college. The main character wakes up in the dorm room of a boy she doesn’t know after a night of drinking. As she’s walking through campus, she sees a group of tired, drunk fraternity pledges chanting the song “99 bottles of beers on the wall” as one of them passes out and falls onto the grass. She goes back to her sorority house to get ready for class and then at night, there is a party.

So What?

22 Jump Street, Neighbors, and Happy Death Day portray college students and university life in around the same ways: wild parties, drunken nights, and young kids doing careless things. College most definitely has its fun times, but this kind of portrayal is not the complete truth and there is so much more that is not shown. When
to – be college students are only shown that college is a certain way by these movies,
it becomes what they expect it to be like. These movies targeted toward young adults tell them about the free and exciting world of college life, and in effect, students learn to look forward to those glamorized parts.

Personally, when I was in high school picking out potential colleges, academics were important but I’d be lying if I said party life did not sway my interest. Unconsciously, flashy, well known party schools automatically became appealing just for their social status. I’m sure many college students can relate to this, given how the media grooms us to create certain expectations for college. In addition, I am sure that amidst research, many must have run into a list or two titled along the lines of “The Top Party Schools in America”.

“The Top Party Schools in America”

These lists are not typically hard to encounter when on the search for potential colleges. When looked up online, you’ll easily find several sites that playfully list their own opinions on the party life of different universities. Though they seem pretty
amusing and harmless, they still glamorize the wild, reckless side of college in the same way that popular movies do.

What’s bizarre is that even larger publishers like The Princeton Review (an academic site well known for college preparation in young students), have jumped on the bandwagon as well, creating their own annual list.

Dr. Dyszlewski, a Brown University Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, further explains the absurdity of such lists, stating implications like “when an influential publisher…. glamorize[s] a culture of drinking and drug use, they are also supporting a number of problems that are linked to excessive substance use”.

This all seems irresponsible and wrong, but here is the logic behind all of this: big publishers will only put up content they know their audience will be interested in. This is dd8b67eeed1c33f36d430faa7411f2405367a94810fcd145502ec6664b7c939c.jpgin the same way movies only show its viewers what they want to see. So when the audience, being students, are hyped up by movies about the fun side of college through popular culture, of course they would be interested in an article talking about the top party schools in the nation.

And so, the vicious cycle begins. Popular culture excites kids about the fun in college, influential publishers show them colleges well known for partying, and students go into
college expecting and seeking that kind of excitement. Then, the fun, drunken side of college becomes even more mainstream, media plays catch up with its audience, and it starts all over. Partying and drinking may already exist in college culture, but college representation in popular culture sustains these behaviors in young adults.

The Aftermath

These actions do not go without consequences. The three students from earlier in this post are unfortunately just a few examples within a larger population. From a statistic reported from The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in 2015, as much as 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 died from alcohol-related situations. In addition, the action of underage drinking within the college campus is so normalized that a huge majority of 80% of college students admit to using alcohol, and of those, around 50% engaged in binge drinking within the last two weeks. It is quite ironic how the potential repercussions of the issue are devastating yet advertised in the media as light hearted fun.

Wrapping it All Up

There is a huge problem in the way college is portrayed in popular culture. The representation that college is wild and fun at all times is dangerous, especially to viewers who are soon to be or are currently in college. The conclusions that are drawn from the typical college movie or article today create bad examples and lead viewers into thinking college is something that it is not entirely. These preconceived notions, in turn, lead to negative influences in behavior and health in real life students.

Fun times in college exist, but realistically, getting a college education takes a lot of time and effort. Good grades don’t come easy, all nighters will drive you practically insane, and half the time you are sleep deprived running off of coffee. If popular culture continues to parade only the fun side, students will be gravely misled when they encounter the real thing in life.

… and here’s the reality

Learning Moments

  • The first big learning moment I had was actually toward the beginning of the term when we discussed Filter Bubbles. Eli Pariser’s TED talk, “Beware Online ‘Filter Bubbles’”, was very insightful to me, especially because it grounded a definition to something I feel like I have always kind of been aware of. I still think it’s scary how powerful social media is in showing or not showing things on our personal timelines. Given that I use social media everyday, I definitely think this awareness is important in order to always remind ourselves that what we see online is always a distorted truth.
  • The second big learning moment for me was in Week 5 while watching the Every Single Word videos. It really blew my mind to see that every single word spoken by people of color in major movies could be summarized into 2 or 3 minutes. It really reminded me of the unfortunate underrepresentation of people of color in popular culture. This knowledge is important to have in the future since this is something that needs to change. As more people become educated and aware of the issue, hopefully in the future we see more progress.

Works Cited

Dyszlewski, Margaret Paccione. “College Drinking: Listing of Top 20 ‘Party Schools’ Called into Question.” Brown University Child & Adolescent Behavior Letter, vol. 26, no. 10, Oct. 2010, pp. 8–8. Academic Search Premier [EBSCO].

Flanagan, Caitlin. “Death at a Penn State Fraternity.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 9 Nov. 2017,

Kaufman, Ellie. “Police Investigating Possible Hazing Death at LSU.” CNN, Cable News Network, 15 Sept. 2017,

Landon, Christopher, director. Happy Death Day. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, 2017.

Lord, Phil and Christopher Miller, directors. 22 Jump Street. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2014.

Murphy, Kate. “A Night of Drinking Ends in Death at Miami U.”, Cincinnati Enquirer, 23 Feb. 2017,

Stoller, Nicholas, director. Neighbors. Universal Pictures, 2014.

Terry-Mcelrath, Yvonne M., and Megan E. Patrick. “Intoxication and Binge and High-Intensity Drinking among US Young Adults in Their Mid-20s.” Substance Abuse, vol. 37, no. 4, 2016, pp. 597–605. Academic Search Premier [EBSCO], doi:10.1080/08897077.2016.1178681.

The Female Stigma of the Military

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Meagan Levey, 2017.


Baldwin, J. (1996). Female Promotions in Male-Dominant Organizations: The Case of the United States Military. The Journal of Politics, 58(4), 1184-1197. Retrieved from


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


Lesbian Representation In Pop Culture Media

Lesbian Stereotypes in Popular Culture

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

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

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


Misrepresentation of Lesbian Relationships

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

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

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

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


Whiteness and Heterosexuality of Lesbian Media

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

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

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


Positive and Diverse Portrayals of Lesbians in Hollywood

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

Scene from “But I’m A Cheerleader”

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

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




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

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

GLAAD Where We Are ON TV Report. 2017, GLAAD Media Institute,

Swisher, Kara. “WE LOVE LESBIANS! OR DO WE? ‘HOT’ SUBCULTURE — OR JUST NEW HURTFUL STEREOTYPES?” The Washington Post, WP Company, 18 July 1993,

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

Jews in Media: Laughing with us or at us?

Reflections on Research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Takeaways from the class

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

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

Work Cited

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

David, Larry, writer. Seinfeld. NBC.

Manwithaplan999. “WAYS OF SEEING (final episode – advertising) 1/4.” YouTube. March 09, 2008. Accessed February 27, 2018.

Meriwether, Elizabeth, writer. New Girl. FOX.

“7 strange Jewish jokes that prove ‘New Girl’ is the anti-‘Seinfeld’.” The Jerusalem Post | January 05, 2016.

TEDxTalks. “Astroturf and manipulation of media messages | Sharyl Attkisson | TEDxUniversityofNevada.” YouTube. February 06, 2015.

Women in Today’s Sports

Ashley Doyle
Women in Today’s Sports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work Cited
“Let’s Get To The Bottom Of Why Male And Female Coaches Are Treated Differently.” GOOD, 28 Dec. 2016,

Tod Palmer <a href=”” title=””> “Mizzou Softball Coach Ehren Earleywine Expected to Return in 2017.” Kansascity, The Kansas City Star, 18 Aug. 2016,

Hobson, Will. “USOC, USA Gymnastics and Michigan State Answer to Congress for Larry Nassar Scandal.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 13 Feb. 2018,

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


I worked at a shoe store for a few months, and one of our bestselling brands happened to be Skechers. The Skechers brand is known for comfort and are very popular with older customers. My coworkers and I were all pretty young, and we’ve had a few instances of older people being rude to us simply because of our age. This puzzled me because we’d be doing everything in our power to make a successful sale. What exactly sparked this negative attitude?

I wanted to know…

How are Millennials represented in mainstream media?

ABC’s Selfie:

The show centers around Eliza Dooley, a 20 something, social media-obsessed pharmaceutical sales representative. Her whole life revolves around her online presence, she’s a micro celebrity. After embarrassing herself by throwing up in front of all her coworkers, Eliza realizes that fans and followers do no translate into real life friends. After the incident, Eliza barricades herself in her apartment, and no one comes to her aid. In an effort to ‘re-brand’ and make herself more likable, she enlists the help of her coworker, Henry, a successful marketing wiz. Henry has to teach Eliza the all basics, such as how to look people in the eyes when she talks to them, strike up small talk around the office, and when to put down her phone.

Henry’s character describes Eliza as a “vapid, despised, social media-obsessed narcissist”. In this show, Eliza represents the stereotypical Millennial, however the personality is cranked up a few notches to add for comedic effect. She fits many of the typical Millennial traits like always being on her phone, not knowing how to actually talk to people, and prioritizing her online brand over her real life image.


Speaker Jason Dorsey Shares How to Market and Sell to Gen Y:

This artifact is a recorded video of Jason Dorsey giving a presentation instructing an older generation on how to successfully sell to Millennials. He begins his presentation by emphasizing the importance of the Millennial generation, as we are the generation with the most spending power, surpassing that of even the baby boomers.

He also goes on to point out the lack of communication skills of millennials. He uses an example, saying you can call a millennials 5 times, and they will not pick up, but if you text them, they will respond (even if they’re driving). Dorsey blames the lack of communication skills on being tech-dependent. We are not tech-savvy, but tech-dependent. Millennials don’t know how technology works, despite not being able to function without it, it makes us tech-dependent. Knowing this difference is how to attract Gen Y to be potential buyers, claims Dorsey.

If it’s not unique, it’s not something we want. Dorsey concludes that millennials come off as entitled because ‘we’ve been saved by our parents’. He claims that the diversity that exists within the millennial generation is due to people being raised in different environments, such as rural areas versus urban areas. It is difficult to market to such a diverse group of people, which is why other generations see us as entitled.


Why do these stereotypes exist?

Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation By Joel Stein

Joel Stein is a former humor columnist for Time Magazine. The article “The Me Me Me Generation” was a cover story in 2013 and garnered Stein quite a bit of negative attention.

In the article, Joel Stein points out a few negative traits the Millennial generation carries. He then goes and breaks down why such labels were formed.

The narcissism exists because in the 1970’s, everyone thought it was a good idea to boost their children’s confidence, by telling them how special they were. As a result, it created self-centered kids.

The explanation for millennials being so slow to move out or putting off buying real estate is simply because we are a cautious generation, afraid to take a step before analyzing our alternatives.

All this information relates to my primary sources because it affirms the stereotypes projected onto millennials. The stereotypes are basically surface-level to understanding why millennials act the way they do, and much of it has to do with growing up with technology and having to take calculated steps due to all the career and life choices available.


Goldman Sachs Infographic

This secondary source is an infographic about the millennial lifestyle, spending, and investing habits. It focuses on the trends of millennials. It summarizes that due to technological change, that some industries have gone through change and some disruption. The statistics state that millennials are slow to buy big-ticket items such as cars and homes due to the ‘sharing economy’. The sharing economy includes the rise of renting real estate and car sharing services such as Uber, Lyft and Car2Go. With an adaption to the ‘sharing economy’, the article explains why the housing market, for example, is not as appealing to millennials, with less and less of us prioritizing buying into real estate. The reluctance to dabble in real estate is attributed to the fact that millennials have less money spend, and as a result renting living space has become more popular.


Turns out, there is some truth to the common Millennial stereotypes. All the research points towards the notion that as a generation, we are a product of our environment. The narcissism is contributed to the way we were raised. The entitlement stems from our diversity. Our ‘laziness’ is due to the fact that Millennials don’t have too much money to spend, instead turning to the ‘sharing economy’ for alternatives. As cliche as it sounds, we’re just misunderstood.



“How to Market and Sell to Millennials.” Performance by Jason Dorsey, How to Market and Sell to Millennials,–_zA.
Kapnek, Emily. “Selfie-Pilot .” Selfie, season 1, episode 1, ABC, 30 Sept. 2014.
“Millennials Infographic.” Goldman Sachs,
Stein, Joel. “Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation.” Time, Time, 20 May 2013,






A Product of Our Generation

When I started to think about the topic of millennials, the first thing that came to mind were the jokes that surround our generation. It seemed to me that most of the talking people did about millennials included jabs at our use of technology, our love of the selfie, and the fact that we tend to live at home longer than the previous generation. When I did a little more research, I found that this was mostly true.

However, I went into it thinking that these generalizations were just a joke. People like to make wild assumptions about other generations. They like to condense people into a few stereotypes that look funny in an SNL skit. In the case of millennials, that means lazy, narcissistic, and technology-obsessed. I didn’t think that many people actually thought it was true. So, I then set out to research the articles and portrayals of my generation.

One of the first things I found was an article titled The Me Me Me generation. This is a pretty popular article from Time magazine that was written in 2013. The first half of the article talks about the exact traits that most people attribute to millennials. The author lists off statistics like “the incidence of narcissistic personality disorder is nearly three times as high for people in their 20s as for the generation that’s now 65 or older,” and “more people ages 18 to 29 live with their parents than with a spouse.” Reading statistics like this, I was skeptical of their sources, and of their actual validity. Are millennials really narcissistic and lazy, or are these other traits that are being misinterpreted?

The article didn’t include any sources, so I looked into it a little bit more. I found the study that measured narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) by age, and found that the statistic was true— but the author of the article left out one key factor. “3-year follow-up found that about 50% of the 22- to 45-year-old subjects with [NPD] did not qualify for the diagnosis 3 years later.” Meaning that younger people tend to sort of grow out of it. It’s important to research the statistics in articles like this. The author didn’t include any sources or links, and he didn’t include all of the information about these studies. He just rattled the numbers off and called it cold, hard data. We learned about this in the first week of the term, when we covered how difficult it is to get the correct information.

So, the author took it out of context, and I think that’s the case for a lot of evidence against millennials. If you take us out of context, we look ridiculous. Why would we live at home when our parents could afford to have an apartment and go to college all on a minimum wage job when they were our age? Why do we constantly take pictures of ourselves and post them on the internet for everyone to see, when the generation before us didn’t do anything like that?

I continued to wonder whether the stereotypes about millennials were true. When I looked around at my friends and classmates, I didn’t see a bunch of lazy narcissistic people. So I set out to look at the different portrayals of millenials in videos, skits, and TV shows, as well as articles and research.

Lazy. Baby boomers love to point fingers at millennials and call us lazy. According to the older generation, we like to have things handed to us. We expect to get jobs without hard work, and we expect high pay without a fifty-thousand dollar college degree, and we expect to succeed without deserving it. According to a survey by Bentley University, fifty percent of millennials think that their own generation don’t succeed because of a bad work ethic. Seventy-nine percent also expect a pay increase every year. But the same survey finds that sixty-six percent of millennials want to start their own business, and that seventy-seven percent think flexible work hours would make work more productive for them.

Narcissistic. It’s no secret that millennials love social media. Facebook, Tumblr, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter– whichever you pick, you have the ability to amass hundreds to thousands of followers, to post pictures and statuses, and to broadcast your thoughts to the world. It’s the ideal platform for a narcissist. I don’t want to believe that millennials are narcissistic, but then, there are plenty of statistics to back it up. On the other hand, many of these statistics are based on a short quiz called the narcissistic personality inventory. It asks you to pick answers like “I am assertive” and “I wish I was more assertive.” This is an old test. It’s hard to tell if it really measures narcissism anymore, especially since it’s based on self reporting. Other studies have also found that narcissism isn’t actually related to generation, but the stage of your life. Maybe we need to wait until millennials are older to really find out.

Tech Obsessed. When you look at media that includes millennials, the young people are always staring at their phones. In the SNL skit titled Millennials, the main characters are looking at their phones throughout every scene. They never take their eyes off of them. In one scene, one of the characters is standing in a window and talking about how he’s going to give up social media. The scene is very clearly comparing giving up social media and jumping out of a window, and implying that millennials feel that way about it. The other characters are also texting throughout the entire scene.

The same thing happens in the short film Millennial Job Interview, in which a girl is texting while interviewing for a job. The interviewer in the video asks what computer programs she’s proficient in, and she responds by telling him all of the different social media websites that she uses, as if that’s the only way she could comprehend using a computer. Millennials are always shown this way– taking photos, texting, and surfing through social media. So is it true that most of us are like this? A report on social media usage across different age groups found that “adults 35 to 49 were found to spend an average of 6 hours 58 minutes a week on social media networks, compared with 6 hours 19 minutes for the younger group.” Sure, we use our phones a lot, but we aren’t necessarily more obsessed than our older counterparts.

When you look at the research, it’s pretty clear that the information is so muddled that it’s hard to come to a real conclusion. Some research finds that millennials love ourselves, and another study finds that we don’t. One finds that we’re on social media all the time, and another finds that adults are too. When it comes down to it, it’s possible that millennials are just a product of our generation. We’re not good or bad, we’re just different from those who are older and younger than us.

I’m friends with a lot of baby boomers on Facebook, because I mostly use it to keep in contact with my family. This is not a solid form of research by any means, but I thought I’d ask my friends on there what they would have posted about if they’d had social media at my age. The responses were surprisingly familiar. Politically, they listed off things like apartheid and nukes, as well as the time Reagan said “you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all,” about California redwoods, and how they categorized ketchup as a vegetable in school lunches. In entertainment, they’d have posted about color TVs, microwaves, Secretariat winning the Triple Crown, and Grateful Dead concerts. They’d have posted about health food like alfalfa, molasses, and carob, and pictures of clothing optional beaches and waterfalls and communes. And what do we post about? Political turmoil, stupid things our president has said, new technology, amazing athletic feats, concerts, and health food.

So, how does it affect us to be viewed this way? For me, it hasn’t changed a lot. I think if anything it pushes me to be the opposite of what they think me to be– to be proactive and down to earth and to unplug. But at the same time I am what I am. I love my phone and my computer and my netflix. I text all the time, and keep my headphones in on the MAX, and I’m not ashamed of it. An article by Heather Molzen chronicles how she looks around her and sees how millennials are helping people and working to make a difference in the world. She writes; “even though we have opportunities and technology that was unavailable to other generations, we try our best not to take these privileges for granted. Instead, we use them to tear down generational stereotypes–one action at a time.” I couldn’t agree more. It isn’t helpful to try to break down an entire generation because you don’t like the way they were raised.

In the end, we’re really not that different. What’s different is the world around us. It’s not our fault that we have the technology that we have now. They invented the TV so we could invent the tablet. They teach us about their thoughtless presidents so we can be critical of ours. They told us to take pictures now so we could remember those moments in the future. Maybe some of us have negative traits, but that’s what it is to be human.

Works Cited

Bentley University November 11, 2014. “Millennials at Work.” Millennial Minds: The PreparedU Project Survey | Bentley University, 11 Nov. 2014,

Brea, Daniel, director. Millennial Job Interview. Breafilms, 24 Oct. 2017,

Stein, Joel. “Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation.” Time, Time, 20 May 2013,

King, Don Roy, director. Millennials . NBC, 2017.

Molzon, Heather. “Students counter millennial stereotypes through work ethic.” UWIRE Text, 27 Apr. 2016, p. 1. General OneFile,

To Thrift or Not to Thrift: Is Never a Question


I thrift for joy. The glee I feel while thrifting is a combination of several factors: I am a consumer; I get pleasure from wearing or having something entirely unique; my daily creative outlet is my clothing choices; and I do not have the budget for first-hand clothing. These features about myself become important when considering the external nature of clothing and that it is highly visible; because of this, my clothing choices contribute not only my personal identity but also to my ascribed identity. The aim of this research project is to locate and study some of the ways that media and popular culture have contributed to how my identity is perceived. To illustrate my discoveries, I will comment on three examples of how thrifting is represented in popular culture from primary sources followed by three summaries of secondary source analyses of thrifting. A common theme of the artifacts detailed here is relationship thrift-shopping has with money and commerce. The opinions and perceptions of this relationship comment on my personal identity and how I feel people have reacted to my ascribed identity. It is my opinion, supported by this analysis, that my identity as a “thrift shopper” has shifted positively in recent years and this shift has been reflected in popular culture. These examples will illustrate that thrifting still exists in popular culture as primarily as a money saving tactic, however there is evidence that this could be challenged soon if it already hasn’t already.



            This research was approached with the purpose of finding how my personal identity reflected in popular culture. Because of the niche nature of thrifting in popular culture, I was limited in my possible sources. The sources I selected emulated in some way, the popular theme of money and economy.

Further research is suggested into the relationship of gender and thrift shopping, as well as the connection of environmentalism and conscientious consumerism to thrifting. 

Results & Analysis

            This section includes, first, a summary of the subgenres identified from the primary source research, and then a summary of the second sources and the analysis and personal reflection.

Primary Sources

“The Woman American”

(The Crittenden Automotive Library, 2016)

(twinklez1985, 2010)

American Thrift is a product placement promotional short film produced by the Jam Handy Organization in 1962 for the Chevrolet division of General Motors. The purpose of this film is a commercial, and it’s audience is American consumers of automobiles in the 1960’s. The film is acknowledged as “A Tribute to the Woman American” and chronicles the trials and tribulations of thrifty women in American nuclear families in the 1960’s. The film emphasizes the resourcefulness of the woman American as a positive feature. She, the woman, is tough and resilient yet generous. This film celebrates thrift as a way to promote Chevrolet’s economical mass-production manufacturing which they deem as thrifty as well.

Though this film is a commercial for all intents and purposes, it is also an interesting insight into the historical perception of thrift. The very intentional promotion of thrift as a positive ideology suggests to me that there was a negative association the film intended to dispel. This is impossible to learn for certain, but there has always been the notion of poverty and scarcity associated with thrift.

I found myself reflecting on how I perceive my own economy of thrift while watching this film. I have never been in the position to shop first-hand retail and am almost certain that even if I was, I would likely still shop thrift for the same principals I listed in the opening paragraph. I haven’t always had this conviction however, and there was a period where I longed to not be thrifty. This film allowed me to feel comfort in my ingenuity and resourcefulness through thrift. 

Thrift Shopper for Profit


(SPIKE, 2010)

Thrift Hunters is a reality TV show on Spike about two men Jason Smith and Bryan Goodman, who make a profit reselling thrifted items on eBay. The purpose of this TV show is that of entertainment. The episode selected for this analysis featured Smith and Goodman attending a community garage sale. The reoccurring theme in this episode is that of negotiating. The thrifters are attempting to lower the prices on the items they plan to resell and the sellers in several occasions do not yield to them. The show ends with the Smith and Goodman stating how much money they spent at the garage sale and how much they anticipate charging for the same goods on eBay.

This show represents a potentially negative interpretation and facet of thrifting. In the realm of thrifting there exists a contingent of individuals who attempt to exploit the economical and cheap nature of second-hand for personal gain. These individuals taking advantage of the system, make access to reasonably priced interesting goods difficult.

Often while thrifting I have encountered individuals that I associated with this trope. At an antique mall in Newport, Oregon I had a conversation with a person who owned a small vintage store in Portland. This person commented to me that the prices of the items at the antique mall were great because they could easily mark them up 300% and still sell them.


New Generation of Money Savers


(Macklemore LLC, 2012)

Thrift Shop is a 3 min 55 sec comedy hip hop song released 27 Aug 2012 by the duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz; and had internet success with 1,156,535,618 views as of 12 Feb 2018. The music video was filmed in several thrift and consignment stores in Seattle, Washington. The audience was likely young music listeners and hip-hop fans. Its purpose is for entertainment.

The music video features crowds of people dancing and seeming to have a good time while wearing clothing the viewer assumes came from a thrift shop, the connection the viewer makes is associating young famous people with second-hand clothing and items. There are many references to other popular culture events like R.Kelly’s sheets and sneakerheads that are embedded in the lyrics. There are many lines about money in the song, many about saving money but there is a prominent segment from 2:34-2:51 where the lyrics seem to be mocking expensive designer clothing.

This song and video came out when I was in high school, which proved to be a very formative for me. At the time of its release, I was attending a generally affluent school and I was still choosing my clothing in an attempt to reflect a wealthy lifestyle I did not live. Macklemore’s lyrics and outrageous dancing, though not my personal style in music, did resonate with my deeper desire to dress differently. Watching as Thrift Shop gained prestige in popular culture, I began to feel liberated and validated.

Secondary Sources 

Thrift shopping: Combining utilitarian thrift and hedonic treat benefits (Bardhi & Arnold 2005) is the first article I identified about thrifting. This paper was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Consumer Behavior. This paper is a small scale ethnographic study of five thrift stores in the Midwestern United States. The authors were writing in opposition to a theory put forth by Miller in 1998 in the book Theory of Shopping (in Bardhi & Arnold 2005). Miller argues that thrift and treat work in opposition to each other. Bardhi & Arnold (2005) suggest the opposite, from their research on the patrons of the five thrift stores, they suggest that the intersection of thrift and treat is thrift shopping.

The second source outlined here is an article titled 25 Famous Women on Thrift Shopping (Ma 28 Dec 2017). The article is a compilation of quotes from 25 women celebrities. Some of the quotes, notably from Winona Ryder and Eva Mendes, are anecdotes about a time in the celebrity’s life when they wore something publicly that was from a thrift store. Others are about the “thrill” of the hunt, Lorraine Kirke calls it “scouring.”

The last source is a IMDB user review of the Netflix TV series Girlboss that was posted on 29 Oct 2017. The username of the author is shrpalodhi and the title of the review is A story about a Spoilt kid, who has no sense of ethics and is kind of an awful person. This show is loosely based on the story of Sophia Amoruso, the owner of the online retailer Nasty Gal.

This review is generally negative, giving the series an overall rating of 2/10. Most of the review is about the main character’s flaws, for example: “Within the first 5 minutes of the show, the main protagonist has become so detestable to me that I am actually rooting against her.” The review has several more comments along these lines. Halfway through the review, the author comments on the premise of the show, which is the main character’s ascension into online vintage retail success. The reviewer shows disbelief and shock in the character’s ability to sell a jacket for $650 on eBay, which is the catalyst for the online marketplace she created.


Although 1962 is very far from the world I operate in today, some of the points made in American Thrift (The Crittenden Automotive Library, 2016; twinklez1985, 2010) resonate with me. I am a resourceful woman and I feel pride about it. It is difficult to overlook, however, that this was a promotion for a car company, and it seems as if the advertisers were attempting to associate their product with the ‘woman American’s struggle.’ I also have difficult feelings about the perspectives presented by Thrift Hunters (Spike 2014) and Girlboss (shrpalodhi 2017), as both leave the viewers with a sense that there are individuals in the world actively looking to exploit the thrift world for profit. I did find myself represented and amused by Bardhi & Arnold’s (2005) conclusion that thrift shopping provides a hedonic benefit. Lastly, I felt comfort and validation from Macklemore’s Thrift Shop (Macklemore LLC, 2012) and the 25 celebrity women who commented on thrifting, all positively (Ma, 2017).


            How people interact and perceive another’s clothing choices is ultimately a comment on perceived status and wealth. The connotations and associations with regards to thrifted clothing are highly context dependent and variable among different groups of individuals.

One interesting interpretation of thrifting’s success in recent years came from my partner, who is a conscientious consumer and by extension, an avid thrift shopper. He perceived the popularity of thrifting as connected to how fashion is constantly revisiting previous styles. For most, haute couture is financially unavailable, so fashionable people with limited budgets depend on recycling styles found in the time warp of some thrift shops.

In every artifact I found about thrift shopping in the popular culture, as well as the commentaries about thrift shopping in academia, the theme was money. The connection and feeling about the money shifted from the thrifty American woman in the 1960’s out of necessity to the pride Macklemore exuded for finding bargains in 2012. This shift is potentially an indication of change, which I perceive positively. Allowing thrift shopping into the mainstream validates the creative and economical choices of many individuals in society. In an world that is increasingly ravaged by consumerism and capitalism, it will be important thrifty individuals to be given a place.

I have always been fascinated and interested by clothing, this investigation into my identity via clothing inspired an anecdote with which I will conclude this analysis.

When I was in sixth grade, the most desired piece of clothing was a $60 Hollister logo sweatshirt, of which many of my peers each had several. For Christmas in 2007, my parents gifted me a green zip up hoodie with the Hollister logo embroidered across the breast. The second day after we returned to school, one of my friends spilled a particularly oily packet of ranch on the sleeve. I never could remove the stain. After all the yearning and devastation, I donated the sweatshirt to Goodwill, where hopefully it was reincarnated as a thrift find, starting another cycle of life. 

Learning Experiences from the Course

           Civic Online Reasoning

At the moment of writing this, I am less than a month away from graduating with a degree in Applied Linguistics; which is a science that is largely concerned with research acknowledging what has come before it. All of this is to say, I have read and analyzed many papers published about studies, many of which came from “credible” institutions like Stanford. While reading the Civic Online Reasoning study (Wineburg, McGrew, Breakstone & Ortega, 2016), I found myself shocked, annoyed and even slightly offended. Feeling attacked in this way colored my interpretation of the research in a way that demanded pause and examination. The self-examination and reflection calmed me down, and allowed me to sort through the fact that the researchers were more than likely not intentionally belittling me, instead they were documenting a phenomenon they had previously noted in an academic environment. The external evaluation lead me to conclude that research institutions like Stanford, are not perfectly objective by default, and that some allowance should be more for new areas of study like the internet.

Overall, my initial and subsequent reactions to this study were an experiment in patience, understanding and processing.



Lupita Nyong’o (left) and Kumail Nanjiani (right) at the

90th Academy Awards, $ March 2018 (“Oscars 2018”).

“Some of my favorite movies are movies by straight white dudes, about straight white dudes. Now straight white dudes can watch movies starring me, and you relate to that. It’s not that hard. I’ve done it my whole life.”-Kumail Nanjiani

Of the course blog discussions, I personally found the discussion on Hollywood movies to have been the most enlightened and engaged. My peers’ comments were ablaze with realization and deconstruction. Hollywood movies being identified as under-representational is not an original idea to this class, however, it was made a reality by the comments of my peers. Many of my class mates, including myself, seemed to be analyzing the films from a new perspective that left some people longing and some people seemingly upset. It was incredible to be in the middle of such an engaged group of individuals, and although many things in the media and popular culture today are dire and upsetting, the sentiments echoed by this class was encouraging.


Bardhi, F. & Arnold, E.J. (2005). Thrift shopping: Combining utilitarian thrift and hedonic treat benefits. Journal of Consumer Behavior, 4(4), pp.223-233. Wiley. Retrieved from

[The Crittenden Automotive Library]. (2016, Oct 3). American thrift (Part 1) [Video File]. Retrived from

Ma, J. (2017, Dec 28). 25 famous women on thrift shopping. Retrieved from

[Macklemore LLC]. (2012, Aug 29). Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Thrift shop feat. Wanz (official video)[Video File}. Retrieved from

[Oscars 2018] [image]. (2018, March 4). [Photograph]. Retrieved from

shrpalodhi. Girlboss. (29 Oct 2017). The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 18 Feb 2018 from

[SPIKE]. (2010, Dec 17). Thrift hunters: A garage sale on steroids [Video File]. Retrieved from

[twinklez1985]. (2010, Dec 17). American thrift part 2 (1962) [Video File]. Retrieved from

Wineburg, S., McGrew, S., Breakstone, J. & Ortega, T. (2016). Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at:




Portrayal of the modern Native American

All of my life, I have always been very proud of my heritage. My family always encouraged me, and always made sure I felt strong and confident in who I was. It wasn’t until I started school that I started realizing that I was different, and that was brought on by parents, teachers and the other students. I also realized at a young age that, because I am not white, people feel as though they have the right to guess my ethnicity, or ask rude questions. It’s routine at this point that when I meet someone new, they ask my name and then “what is your ethnic background?”

Particularly with older people, often I get asked if my family “lives on the rez”, or if they have tipi’s and this really shows how little most people know about Native Americans. To a startling number of people, we are often thought of as very backwards, as though we haven’t caught up with the rest of the world in terms of advancement. I’m also meant to have all the answers to questions, such as if it is offensive to have an ‘Indian for a mascot” (Graduated from Philomath High School, “Home of the Warriors”) and then be told that I should be proud because I am being depicted as “powerful”.

Image result for washington redskins native american

Native Americans are nothing more than a brief history lesson from middle school to most people, and are so often disregarded by the general public. In almost all movies where Native Americans are featured, they are only depicted in historical movies and they often are just an inconvenience to the main characters. Considering how I hate old westerns, I had a very limited selection of movies to watch growing up. There was Pocahontas, Spirit, Brother Bear, and Peter Pan; and a majority of these are not positive representations. That is why I decided to do my blog post on Native Americans in media.


I have decided rather than just limiting myself to the depictions of Natives in Film and TV, I thought I would also incorporate different aspects of the media that they would be in, such as news or events. To start off, I think a good place to start would be Native Americans in the news. The two major topics that are often thought of the use of Natives as mascots for sports teams, and the Dakota Pipeline. For background, a major controversy is the sports team called the Redskins, that uses the face of a Native American as their mascot. There are largely differing opinions, a pretty stark contrast between Native opinions and ones from non-native descent. In a poll done by Washington Post, they stated that 9 out of 10 Native Americans did not find the name offensive. While on the other hand, they only surveyed around 500 people, many of whom had no tribal affiliation.

Image result for washington redskins native american poll

In a blog called Native Appropriations, ran by Dr. Adrienne Keene, she talks about the many things wrong with this survey. To start off with, it’s important to note the fact that despite many studies, tribal council votes, and the voices of actual Native Americans saying how offensive this is, Washington Post still felt the need to run their own personal poll. The reason this is so discouraging, is that it just gives fuel to those who want to silence the voices of those who are being disrespected. In an interview on NPR with a representative of the Oneida Indian Nation and CEO of Oneida Nation Enterprises by the name of Ray Halbritter, he is quoted as saying

Anybody who believes in doing what is right knows that you shouldn’t use a slur against someone. You shouldn’t say a name to somebody else if they are offended by it, even if it’s not defined as a slur, and this is defined as a slur. And you can’t change that. No poll in the world is going to change the fact this is a dictionary-defined slur that our people are subjected to on a daily basis.”

The second example that I wanted to use is issue of the Dakota Pipeline. To give a little bit of backstory, the Dakota Pipeline was a construction project that was started in 2016 and spans 1,200 miles across South Dakota and Illinois. There was a massive protest that went on for months, and the reasons for it were varied. From an environmental perspective there was a lot of outcry (which is for another time), but there was also backlash for this project from the Sioux tribe too. The reason behind this is because the project was moved from Bismarck, which is a highly populated, higher income part of the state to the edge of the Standing Water Sioux Reservation. Not only does this violate several federal laws that are put in place in order to protect land that is federally known as theirs, it is also detrimental to their only water source.

Image result for dakota pipeline native american

The last form of media that I am going to mention is how Natives are portrayed in TV and film. There are many older films such as Dancing with Wolves, Pocahontas, Peter Pan, and the like; but I’m going to focus more on modern examples. The first being Ken Hotate, which is a character is the TV show Parks and Recreation.

Ken Hotate is the tribal elder of the Wamapoke Tribe, and his character is introduced because the annual harvest festival is taking place on Native American burial grounds, and he asks for it to be moved. After saying that there isn’t anywhere to move the festival that wouldn’t be offensive, because of Pawnee’s bloody history, Ken then subtly threatens a curse on the festival to scare them. This ends up working, and the festival gets a lot of bad publicity and the characters are stressed throughout the whole story arch.

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I think that watching these episodes is better than explaining, because it was a satirical way of portraying Native Americans, but was done well. Not only did they get an actual actor of Native descent, they took a lot of the stereotypical tropes and showed them as what they are; which is completely ridiculous.

The second example I chose was John Redcorn from King of the Hill. The reason I chose to discuss this character is because he is portrayed just as a modern Native American would be, and he brings up a lot of issues that are faced. He is also known for calling out ignorant remarks that are made, and educates the others. He is not a perfect character, along with my other example, but I think that is what makes it much better.

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Analyzing these sources has made a realize a few things; and those are that in the real world, there is still a lot of progress to be made. In an article written by William Gallo titled “Native Americans: A Forgotten Minority in US Presidential Campaign”, they are said to be the most marginalized group in America, but not many people know that. The struggles that are faced by Natives are swept under the rug, and are extremely misunderstood, and there is so much more to write about. It wasn’t enough that almost a whole race of people were taken out by genocide, but the remaining are completely disregarded and disrespected.

The example that I chose to use in this essay were meant to differ a bit, because I did want to show not only the real world examples, but also a couple of media examples that I do like. So while I could have focused on the negative representations such as Pocahontas and Dancing with Wolves, I chose not to for the sake of not being redundant. Those are used widely in different essays and works, so I wanted to incorporate a few that I remembered from my favorite shows.

The reasons I love the characters Ken Hotate and John Redcorn is because I do relate to them; I have a lot of the same thoughts that are voiced in these show. They bring up issues within the government, ignorance towards their cultures, racism, and disrespect from peers. I do hope that I did bring more awareness to this topic, because it was difficult for me to articulate. This was an excellent learning opportunity for me, because I am used to my family and I responding to this subject more along the lines of this image.

Image result for funny john redcorn

Learning Moments:

I think that the biggest learning moment for me this term was the text called “Inequality in 700 Popular Films”. It really put into perspective the lack of representation of any ethnicity other than white, and it gave me the idea of looking in any examples with Native Americans, because in this text they are not even listed or they are less than 1%. I knew that there weren’t many spaces with accurate portrayals of those of my ethnicity, but I never knew the extent of it.  I’m happy from doing this project, because in the process I did learn more about my own heritage.




Rosenstein, J. (2016, May 31). How Do Native Americans Really Feel About the Washington Redskins Nickname? Dont Use the Phone. Retrieved February 27, 2018, from


Native American Leader Responds To Washington Post ‘Redskins’ Poll. (2016, May 21). Retrieved March 01, 2018, from


Natives Against Redsk*ns. (2017, June 21). Retrieved March 01, 2018, from


American Indian Issues Are Marginalized. (2017, November 10). Retrieved March 14, 2018, from


Gallo, W. (2016, March 15). Native Americans: A Forgotten Minority in US Presidential Campaign. Retrieved March 14, 2018, from

Latino Stereotypes in Hollywood.

Latino Stereotypes in Hollywood.

As a latino living in The United states I have been subject to certain stereotypes that surround my ethnicity. Growing up English was my second language and during my years in elementary school I had a very difficult time communicating with my peers. I lived in an area that had high rates of cultural differences however I was still subject to being associated with common stereotypes like being an illegal immigrant or being latino and not being able to speak english etc..  I thought it would be interesting for this project to see how latinos are portrayed in hollywood for it is one of the biggest business in the country. Hollywood in my opinion is a platform that heavily plays a role in stereotypes when it comes to portraying characters. This essay will focus on taking a closer look at how Hollywood plays a large role in influencing the negative views that people have on Latino culture in the United States.

Latinos As viewed through Holywood.

Sadly there are many stereotypes that  carry negative connotations when it comes to latinos in hollywood. The first big example of this can be seen through Zalma Rios article 8 examples of the problem hollywood has portraying Mexico and Mexicans.


In Zalma Rios article 8 Examples of the Problem Hollywood has Portraying Mexico and Mexicans , Rios points out one of the first stereotypes that Hollywood places on the latino population. Zalma points out a movie called Spanglish in which one of the protagonists of the story plays a recently immigrated single mother in where she fills the role of being a housekeeper that has difficulties communicating in english. This movie was played in theaters and had a large budget therefore I believe it reached a lot of people. This fits in making this movie a large influence in how people perceive the Latino population in The United States.  

The movie Spanglish is enforcing a couple of negative stereotypes. The first one being that Latinos are uneducated therefore the protagonist ( Flor ) had to get a job as a housekeeper because that is all she is capable of doing. Furthermore the negative stereotypes of  miseducation continues to be reinforced by the fact that Flor has difficulties speaking english. Had it not been for the fact Flor is uneducated she would be able to properly communicate with the family that she works for. Lastly , Flor also seems to not be financially stable to be able to keep her children and provide for them. This gives her the awfully negative connotation of financial unsuitability.  Because Hollywood is such a large driving force in the way that we perceive people, this movie was able to comically jab at the latino population and enforce negative stereotypes that do nothing but harm those who are trying to live in The United States

Another artifact that was examined for this project was BABEL.


Babel was released in theaters in 2006 by Paramount Vantage and won the Golden Globe awards for best motion picture in the drama category. Because of its accolades this movie serves as a vehicle for latino stereotypes. In the movie one of the protagonists Adriana Barraza (Amelia) is the greatest victim of the negative stereotypes of latinos as viewed through a Hollywood lens. She is also portrayed as a housekeeper who much like in the movie Spanglish , has difficulties communicating in english. However , when Amelia does try to communicate in English she is able to do so but in a heavy and thick accent.

Babel manages to further attach negative stereotypes to the latino population. is a housekeeper that does not have any papers and is undocumented furthermore she also has difficulties communicating efficiently in english. The actor that plays the housekeeper is Adriana Barraza (Amelia) . During the movie , the actor Bazzara  has a hard time speaking english and also has a very prominent thick accent. There is one specific scene in the movie where they are trying to cross the border with two kids who are not theirs. when they are trying to cross the border they are stopped by the immigration police who start asking the kids questions. The kids are confused so they say that they are not their parents and that is when the two latin actors decide to break the law and speed past the security checkpoint.

Babel manages to pull out a lot of different negative stereotypes for the latino population. It can be argued that the movie is trying to convey Latinos as undocumented immigrants , meaning that they don’t really have a right to be in the United States . Furthermore it paints them as violent. Willing to break the law at no cost as long as they will benefit from it.

Finally, Thought the movie Babel , the country Mexico is portrayed as an inhabitable dessert. There are a lot of effects which emphasize a desert like quality of the country. Trucks pass by living dust everywhere they go. The shots in the movie  have a brown tint to the there is a shot where there is a fence displayed and on the other side of the fence there is a truck with the words border patrol on the side of it. It seems to taunt people who try to look at the fence with a constant reminder that even if they wanted to get across into the US they would most likely fail and get caught in the process. When the housekeeper first crosses the border with the kids one of them states that their mother has said that Mexico is very dangerous.

Why is it important to look at how latinos are represented in the media?

The media and popular culture play a huge role in shaping society and the way people learn and digest information. In one of our earlier readings in the term the class was assigned to watch a ted talk by Eli Pariser where he talked about “Filter Bubbles” essentially search engines such as google use their algorithms by displaying specific search results based on the type of person that they are such as ethnicity or where they live and what they are searching. Basically everyone will get a different search result. The way we digest information in this digital world is very specifically delivered therefore it plays a large role in shaping how we view people and current events. It is hard to turn one’s head and look the other way when the media plays such a large role in shaping the way that we think. One might think they are in control of the things that they want to learn and research but in reality much of these things are controlled.

To further understand the interpretation of latinos in popular culture, I researched secondary sources for this project.  I found an article called Using Media Literacy to Explore Stereotypes of Mexican Immigrants.  Written by Vargas , Lucila , The article argues that the media plays a large role in determining the populations attitude towards a specific subject like in this case immigration and latinos. Varga’s article examines the fact that Mexican immigrants or Latino born Americans have had a hard time integrating into U.S. culture without automatically being labeled an  immigrant or being associated with their stereotypes. Without people being able to tell the difference of the two groups.

The article takes a closer look at entertainment and how the Mexican population is interpreted. Varga states that Latinos usually play supporting characters. In fictional works the author states that latino immigrants usually play law breakers and victims. The author further stated that Film researchers have identified six Latino media stereotypes: dark lady, Latin lover, female clown, male buffoon, half-breed harlot, and bandito.

Vargas enforces the effects that the negative stereotypes such as the ones mentioned in this post have towards the latino population. Essentially Latino immigrants are viewed in a negative connotation by The United States population. Through the power of popular culture and specifically Hollywood. There have been negative connotations that have slowly evolved and gave Latino Groups in the U.S. harmful effects such as being lazy , uneducated and with no possible future when compared to the rest of the population.

Two Things I learned

I think that the most interesting thing I learned while doing this project was being able to uncover the effect that popular culture has on people. There is so much media around us and I think for the most part we are oblivious to how much it affects us. I think it is extremely eye opening to realize how much popular culture is able to guide the way we think and our opinions.

The other thing that I learned about while doing this project was being able to distinguish how different groups are treated. In my case I was aware of some of the stereotypes regarding latinos because I had experienced some of it  but I wasn’t aware just how prevalent these stereotypes are in Hollywood.


Pariser, Eli. “Beware Online ‘Filter Bubbles.’” TED: Ideas Worth Spreading,


Rios, Zelma. “8 Examples of the Problem Hollywood Has Portraying Mexico and Mexicans.” Borderzine, 26 Apr. 2015,

Vargas, L., & DePyssler, B. (1998). Using media literacy to explore stereotypes of mexican immigrants. Social Education, 62(7), 407-412. Retrieved from

“Babel.” Paramount Home Entertainment, 2007.

“Spanglish” Colombia Picture , 2004


Traditional Roles of Non-Traditional Students in Entertainment Media

When we think about college, we think about adults fresh out of high school starting out their adult lives, experimenting and finding their place in society, educating themselves and setting patterns for the rest of their life.  While this is the majority of college students, there are other “non-traditional” students which do not fit this stereotype. These students are usually over 30 and have either returned to school or have come to a point in their life where the feel the can finally go to school.

Being an older non-traditional student myself, this pop culture class has encouraged me to look in the mirror and evaluate my position in society. Our discussions so far have prompted questions about stereotypes in media.

Why look at media portrayal of older students? Is the portrayal accurate? Looking at these questions and looking for patterns in media portrayal can help us establish a groundwork for other questions about fairness and social bias and the bigotry that comes with it. Namely, does ageism disadvantage older students?

In our modern day and age, movies and television commonly push social and political messaging that both reflect and mold popular opinion. By looking at how entertainment media portrays individuals, inspecting character roles, interactions, and value of the character in the portrayal, we can get a better idea of how we as a society see older students and justify our treatment of them. If our ideas about older students are accurate, we can then have conscious justification of why we treat older students the way we do. On the other hand, if our ideas are not accurate, the realization of this can empower us to reevaluate our social interactions, and empowers us look at ways in which the stereotypes negatively impact older students. When we are hurting someone and don’t realize it, we end up being disadvantaged as well, as we are limiting our ability to engage in our social interactions which have the potential to mutually beneficial.

So the search is on.  How does media portray older students?  Here’s what I’ve found.

The majority of older student characters are included in films or television series as background characters, with main character portrayal being the exception, not the rule.

Honestly, I scoured the internet for a couple days looking for something to watch where the older student wasn’t just an incidental character without any purpose in the plot. This lack of representation makes it difficult to study this subject, but I did manage to find a few different things, so onward!

Let me go over what I’ve found.

Spoiler alert: I’m going to talk a lot about what I see, so you might want to watch the first episodes and movie before I tell you how everything turns out.


From 2009 to 2015, NBC Studios produced a television series about an older student going to community college named “Community.” This sitcom was targeted primarily at teen to young adult audience.

In this comical representation of community college life, Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) is a disbarred lawyer who is forced to return to college when it was discovered his college degree was faked, in order to get back to getting his life as a lawyer. With a somewhat pleasant personality, he is a fast-talking type and tends to engage in deception and pretense to manipulate those around him.


It’s interesting that Jeff, being a GenX, is portrayed as a shifty, fast-talking, slacker who wants to make everyone else do the work. This is a generational teen stereotype that exists in many movies from the 1980’s such as “Back to the Future”, “Footloose”, “Breakfast Club”, etc. He is portrayed as not going to college to learn, but only to jump through hoops required for getting back to his career after he was booted out from the legal bar for faking his college degree. He says whatever is needed to get what he wants with no real merit to offer. The “slacker” character archetype. A GenX hold over from teen movies from the 1980’s.

Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase), is another older character. He is a white male baby-boomer with a slight air of pompousness, who seems to be disconnected from progressive standards and current trends. He’s openly identified as having a “creepy vibe,” which he doesn’t seem to understand. In the first episode, he is openly verbally chastised for “sexual harassment” by two black characters, an athletic jock and the target of his affection, Shirley Bennett, a middle aged salty woman with a passive aggressive attitude.


Pierce Hawthorne is portrayed as being unable to relate to the modern college world, holding vestiges of legacy societal values that are shunned by the current progressive movements common on modern college campuses. As a baby-boomer, he’s portrayed as irrelevant, disconnected, and a social nuisance, with comments like “why would I harass someone I’m attracted to?”

Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown) is a middle aged black woman who is tagged with the stereotype of being in school for making “poor life decisions” by a young white female student, who then goes on the offensive with salty attacks about the young woman’s age and inexperience in life.


So all-in-all, we have three characters who are represented. The boomer character Pierce is often the butt of many jokes. Though, this being a situation comedy, all of these characters are meant to be laughed at, but he seems to be the target of much ridicule and disdain.

The one thing that ties these three characters together is that they all have somehow failed in life and are returning to school to attempt to correct that failure or try to skate by in life until they find something else to do.

These portrayals are based on a cultural “generation gap”, and the assumption that individuals cannot adapt or be part of current college culture, because they are imprisoned in their conditioning and social expectations. Also, neither of these characters are portrayed as going to school for education, but for ulterior motives.

Adjectives that I see assigned to the three older student archetypes in this portrayal are: recovering from failure, desperate, predatory, underachiever, past their prime, irrelevant, disinterested, foolish, dishonest, average, sexually inappropriate, and alone.

Beer & Seed:

This 2002 indie film was written by and stars comedian Bill Cox. This dark comedy on the experiences an older people who return to college to “start over again” is targeted at college audiences and indie movie circuits. It is currently available to rent on amazon and vimeo.

The main character, Bill, is portrayed as a balding overweight gray-haired veteran. One of the first scenes how him getting into a younger student over the ownership of a pen when the younger student takes it, and ends up driving the pen into the hand of the student.


Bill goes back to school with the intention of doing what he felt he missed out on in life, but finds a lack of acceptance there. It’s interesting that there are several cues in the movie that Bill, the main character, has no future prospects past college. He’s portrayed as having no purpose except self-satisfaction. He’s not going to school to get a career or to prepare for the future. No one pays him any attention for his college career until his fight with another student. He is irrelevant to society, as he is already used up and has little left that can be taken, or that he can offer, in the way of a traditional college student.

It’s revealed that the character works at a bar mopping up urine in the bathrooms, and spends time fantasizing about fat girls who attend the bar. There is an animated rap song sequence called “I like the fat chicks,” where he’s checking out pigs and fat girls, then creeping after a fat girl at the end.

fat chicks

Socially, he’s not really able to connect with students or professors and is isolated socially. The dean has an interview with him where he tells him directly, “I don’t think you fit in.” His drafting professor also tells him “a good eraser will be the key to your success.” The school pushes him out by granting him “life experience credits” and charging his GI Bill, suddenly reducing his time to graduate to 4 weeks.

He’s told in his progress interview, “You lived life once, and it took all you had. This was never your life, you are just here marking time.”

It appears the author is trying to make a statement about stereotypes and being cultural ostracized because of age, being a social outcast, and not fitting in no matter how hard you try.

The other younger students ignore and avoid him, and when they are forced to interact with him, tend to be hostile. His social position with his professors is one in which he is not treated as a normal student and even though he works hard, they target him for harassment.

This is contrasted by a sudden switch in the last ten minutes of the film where he finishes his degree and goes around fixing everyone else’s problems, resulting in everyone living happily ever after. It’s a bold statement, in that the writer seems to be saying that people do have value, even if you don’t see it at first.

Adjectives attributed to Bill, as the adult student, as I see it, are: seeking purpose, bored, predatory, troublemaker, past their prime, irrelevant, unwanted, outsider, failing, average, sexually inappropriate, and alone.

Campus Ladies:

In 2006, Oxygen television network broadcast “Campus Ladies”, a television sitcom targeted toward a female middle class demographic. It was aired in 2006-2007 and was canceled when NBC Universal acquired the network in 2007.

Joan and Barri, the two main characters in the series decide to go to college after they are free of their husbands, one of which passed away and the other caught cheating. They decide to go to college to rediscover and recreate themselves, as without their husbands they feel free but without purpose.


As they move in, their dorm roommate is offended that she has to live with 2 “elderly” ladies, though they are admired and offered assistance by young college men who also live in their co-ed dorm.


They face opposition when approaching a sorority, where the sorority interview shows disconnect from understanding questions about vegan-ism, modern trends, fashion, pop-culture and the like. One of the sorority girls asks “Can they even be in a sorority?” The age-based bigotry from both the room-mate and the sorority are are pronounced.

Toward the end of the first episode, they attend a frat party and get drunk with everyone else and when inhibitions are down start to ft in. Playing ‘spin the bottle’ and ‘truth or dare’ are bonding moments at the party. One of the ladies gets into a make-out session with a young student, who finds her attractive, and ends up going back to her place for some cuddle action.


At the end of the first episode, while trying to comfort the room-mate (who also was rejected from the sorority), they talk about the horrors of aging in the body, age spots, blemishes, bald spots, hair on chin, etc. These horrors are based in societal valuation of female body.

Every male in the series supports and accepts the main characters, even finding them attractive, while the other females in the series are resistant to their presence. It’s interesting that in a show on a network targeted at female demographic, which panders to a feminist ideology, that personal empowerment in returning to college first starts with separation from their husbands.

This starts an initial series of events in the first 15 minutes of the characters rediscovering themselves and overcoming their inhibitions. This feels like a message that going to back to college is a symbol of new beginnings and letting go of the old. The focus of the show doesn’t seem to be about their study or going to school for an education, but to have the “college experience.” This includes socializing, cute guys, drinking, and some social conflicts based in identity objectification.

I think there is a portrayal of age bigotry at work in the program, as they are emotionally opposed by their roommate and the sorority girls because of their age, though it may just be a proxy for jealousy, considering the younger women aren’t being portrayed as attractive, and target demographic for the program are middle aged women themselves. This bigotry and the characters overcoming of it may be a proxy to help the target demographic to feel a sense of personal empowerment and relevance that they may be lacking.

There is also a pronounced generation gap in relation to pop culture knowledge with the sorority that appears. This seems to indicate a belief that older people are disconnected from the world and isolated from their peers when returning to college.

So, there are some positive adjectives in this portrayal of female older students, as well as some not so positive: recovering from failure, desperate, sexually empowered, caretaker, relevant, disinterested in education, honest, average, sexually inappropriate (relative to inter-generational relationship taboos), and alone.

So looking at these portrayals I can see several adjectives that describe the character archetypes which are held in common, these include: recovering from failure or seeking purpose, desperate, average, sexually inappropriate, and alone.

So, what?!

I’m going to take a moment and interject a little bit about myself, so you can understand a little better my own experience and maybe see my bias in things.  I am a non-traditional older student. As an older student, I don’t think any of these portrayals really represent me in my reason for attending school. I am attending college to educate myself in higher mathematics and computer science, as they are interests of mine. In my past I have had successes and failures like any other person, but I am not attending college to try to recover from any particular failure.

Up until this point in my life, I have been prevented from getting federal funding for college because I didn’t register for military conscription with Selective Service between the ages of 18 and 24, which only males are required to do. Over the years I have been denied FAFSA assistance. Luckily, with persistence, PSU granted me a waiver after considering circumstances in my life when I was still of an age where I could register. Getting a higher education is something I always wanted, but was never privileged enough in society to attain.

Contrary to the comical narratives portrayed in these shows, I believe a majority of older students are enrolled in school with the purpose of gaining further education, not because they have a lack of purpose or direction.

All in all, this really isn’t a full look into bias and bigotry in society.  Much of my experience is anecdotal, and observations drawn from a small sample, but there does appear to be a mismatch between social stereotypes about older students and the reality which surrounds them.

Could messaging be promoting societal bias against older students?  Older students do seem to be less connected socially than some of their peers, and the level of prejudice is something that could be studied further.

Does messaging reflect existing society bias against older students? Statistically, older students have been shown to receive far less aid in the form of scholarships, honors, and the like, and make up a relatively small representation of the student body.  Whether these are because of institutional prejudices or because of personal choice is something that would also be worthy of further research.

 All in all, it looks like there may be something present which we can address as a society, looking the mirror of our own expectations. I encourage us all as a student body to look internally at how we feel about people of different ages, and how much of that comes from social conditioning. Ideally, we should strive to judge people for who they are and the merits of their hearts, and not their age, genetics, or other bodily constraints outside their control.

Being able to connect with other people on a real level seems to be less and less common as we continue to add more abstractions to our understanding of reality. Honest, intimate, real. These types of social relations with other people are precious and should be cultivated and treasured.

Why else are we living?

What Influenced Your Perception of Single Motherhood?

For decades, single mothers have been shamed and looked down upon in our society. They are commonly portrayed as inadequate, lazy, and as abusive of the welfare system. Historically, there has not been a positive connotation to the title single mother, and it has only very recently become less stigmatized. Despite the normality of being a single mom, there is not a significant amount of popular culture references to the lifestyle. Although there are few TV/movie single mother plots, the ones that do exist are frequently criticized for glazing over the realities of single motherhood, leading to mothers feeling like they don’t get accurate representation in the media. This representation not only impacts mothers, but is also harmful for children to have their mother’s deal with such harsh stereotypes.

I grew up with a single mother who had three children with three different fathers, and I wanted to focus on the way that I saw stereotypes affect my family and I. My mom was not a single mother by choice, it was very much so circumstantial. Based off of the stereotypes that were attached to single motherhood, I felt a sense of shame and guilt frequently throughout my childhood. I felt like it was a bad thing that we didn’t have a father in the home, and I didn’t understand why my family was ‘different’ than others.

I was the oldest of three, and while my mom was going through college I took on a large responsibility of caring for my younger siblings when necessary. We didn’t have a lot of money, but everything my mom made she gave to us. Any financial assistance she received went towards providing a stable home where we didn’t have to fully see how little she was working with. What was provided to us based off our family financial needs was never used for anything but the purpose of meeting basic needs for us. Many people believe that single mothers abuse any assistance that they are given, or that their assistance is not deserved. For single mothers, that is such a frustrating stereotype because so many single mothers work as hard as two parents would work combined, and that stereotype takes away the credit they deserve.  A common misconception is that single mothers are a driving cause for high poverty rates here in the United States. Single mothers are seen as taking more than they need, or sometimes trying to profit off the financial assistance they are given.

Beautiful portrait of a mother with her two sons outdoors

A show that represents single motherhood poorly are the 16 and Pregnant, and Teen Mom series. These shows follow young mothers throughout their pregnancy and then throughout the children’s lives up until now. Many of these young moms end up single mothers. This show essentially shows what is easily consumed by media. It focuses on the extremes, like the highs and the lows, and it doesn’t necessarily deal with the essence of single motherhood. When watching these shows you get the sense that single motherhood makes your life chaotic and all over the place. It is important that viewers are able to recognize that shows like these are fabricated reality TV, and it is not this raw, unedited show many view it as.

An article I found that works to disprove the claims and ideas that single mothers are a leading cause for high poverty rates in the United States. The article is titled ‘Single Mothers Are Not the Problem’ by David Brady, Ryan M. Finnigan and Sabine Hubgen, and discusses how no group in America is linked to poverty rates more so than single mothers. When the poverty scholars formed a bipartisan panel to write a “Consensus Plan for Reducing Poverty” in 2015, their first recommendation was to promote a new culture around marriage and new norms for parenthood. In response, they prove that single motherhood isn’t the cause for American poverty. Brady, Finnigan and Hubgen recently published a study in the American Journal of Sociology, noting that reducing single motherhood rates does not substantially reduce poverty. They prove that single-mother families are a smaller percentage of society than people assume. It has declined in percentage from 10.5% in 1980, to 8.8% in their last study from 2013. In turn, because single-mother family rates are lower than expected, reductions in single motherhood would not make a large dent in poverty rates. They go on to say that we have high poverty rates because of the way we penalize our four major risks of poverty, which are unemployment, single motherhood, low levels of education, and forming households at a young age. They give examples like if you lack a high school education in the United States, your probability of being in poverty increases by 16.4%, where in 28 other rich democracies, lack of education only increases the probability of poverty by less than 5%. This article simply disproves the idea that single mothers are at blame for the high poverty rates the United States maintains.

Single mothers historically have not had the deserved space to claim what is theirs, and have had to slowly break down the many barriers in the way of their equality to mothers in dual parent relationships. A circumstance that has become a more common occurrence are single mothers by choice. As single motherhood gradually becomes more socially accepted, more mothers have begun to feel comfortable with making the intentional decision to go into single motherhood. An article that touches directly on this is called ‘Doing the Right Thing? Single Mothers by Choice and the Struggle for Legitimacy’, by Jane Bock. She begins the article by mentioning that rates of teen pregnancy, drug abuse, and behavioral problems are higher within in single-parent households than in dual parent households. She also mentions that families run by single-mothers are statistically the poorest of all major demographic groups. The use that information is used to go on to say that single mothers are commonly attacked because of those statistics. Single mother and welfare-dependent have become synonymous. The article notes that there is a new wave of single mothers, who happen to be mid-age, and they have inherited the stigma of their poorer younger sisters. Bock reveals that the new entry of middle-class women into single-parenthood has sparked conversations about whether single-parent homes are ‘legitimate’. The term Single Mother by Choice, SMC, is coined, which is single women claiming their entitlement to make this decision. They acknowledge that this is a way for them to separate themselves from other single-mothers who are represented as the ‘real’ problem. Overall, this focuses on the legitimacy at hand with when a single mother raises a child, and either praises or condemns the single-mothers. In response to this movement, it becomes apparent that those who are able to make this claim are individuals with privilege. It is critical to acknowledge that single motherhood looks completely different for those who are not white.

An example of how different single motherhood can be is shown from the event summarized in the article ‘Foster Care as Punishment: The New Reality of ‘Jane Crow’’, by Stephanie Clifford and Jessica Silver-Greenberg. This is an article about the higher risks African American mothers living in poverty face of having their children removed from their care, likening it to Jim Crow laws. A mother put her child to sleep, and is bathing per usual, and when she gets out of the bath, she is not able to find her daughter. Her daughter was 5, and was looking for her mom and once she couldn’t find her, her daughter Deja headed to her grandmother’s house. When the mom went to the police to receive help with finding her daughter, and bringing her home safely, but instead, authorities removed her daughter from her home, and placed her in foster care. She was then charged with endangering the welfare of a child. There was no benefit of the doubt in this situation. Her child was taken into foster care, and when returned, for these minor infractions, the single mother still had to be in the ‘system’, and remain under monitoring with frequent home visits from authorities. She dealt with stigma and trauma when she was already living in a society that doesn’t support that community of single moms already. The purpose in this article is to highlight how institutional racism impacts single mothers and their children, especially when focusing on the unfair threat of having a child taken away from you if you are a single black mother living in poverty. In this article we see that instead of mothers being seen for their sacrifices they are judged and penalized. Single mothers are often compared to the perfect standard of mother, and when unmet, they become criticized. That idea of perfection is going to hurt less privileged mothers more, as shown in this article.

The enforced stigma around single motherhood is harmful to so many. The common stereotypes that are pinned on single mothers makes me think of the Chimamanda Adichie concept of the danger of a single story. Chimamanda uses the example of how Africans are categorized as starving, poor humans over and over again, and after long enough, that becomes the single story for those in Africa. I see similarities in this because after the continuous labeling of single mothers as lazy, accidental, and welfare dependent, people reduce individual single mother’s stories to one.

Throughout the course of this class I have taken away many tools and skills that can be useful in any environment, including outside of school. We have spent much of this term focusing our attention to issues and topics that provoke thought, while also listening to the variety of opinions and perspective from students in this class. Through the process of critically analyzing sources in this class I have gained a great tool set for looking at issues deeper and more wholesomely. I was able to take a lot out of reading other student’s responses to the assigned material. I feel lucky to have had access to a class such as this, and the online aspect was intriguing because I think we were able to see a really honest side of people. Many people feel more comfortable opening up online, and our weekly assignments were grounds for critical thinking and expressing our honest thoughts and ideas.

Bock, Jane D. “Doing The Right Thing?” Gender & Society, vol. 14, no. 1, 2000, pp. 62–86.,
Brady, David, and Ryan. “Single Mothers Are Not the Problem.” The New York Times, The New
York Times, 10 Feb. 2018,
Clifford, Stephanie, and Jessica Silver-greenberg. “Foster Care as Punishment: The New Reality
of ‘Jane Crow’.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 21 July 2017,

Coffee in the Popular culture

Several days ago, I watched a drama called “The Big Bang Theory”. I think it is a great drama because it is really funny to me. The story is about the daily life story of how four dull male physicists get along with women. While I was laughing, I also realized a problem: In the show, when actor trigger the love event, they often do something at the same time, like drinking the coffee. So here is question come out in my mind: Is there any special meaning when they drinking the coffee?

I took this opportunity to watch two films again. One is Rome Holiday, another is Baby driver. The Rome Holiday is a famous movie in 20th century. It is distributed by Paramount Pictures and directed by William Wyler. The movie talks about a loving story between princess in a small European country and an American journalist. The princess came to Italy for a state visit. The day before she departed, the princess escaped from the hotel and met the American journalist. American correspondent gave up exclusive coverage because he found both loves at first sight. In one day, two people spend the perfect time together and browse the most famous human landscape in Rome. After a day of traveling, both parties must return to their original lives, although they know each other both love each other. However, because of the difference in status, this touching love regret ended up with no result.

Watching the whole movie, it has very successful use of the montage method. Especially when Joe took Ann to browse the whole of Rome. Throughout the whole movie plot, princess Ann met with journalist Joe at the half of the whole romantic story. When they go to the restaurant, Joe had Hesitated for about 10 seconds to decide what to drink. At last, Joe decides to order a cold coffee but not as same as Ann ordered a cup of Champagne. When I first watched the movie, there was no special feeling. But After I replay it several times, this detail is really weird. We need to know that 50 years ago, especially in the era of black and white film, every second of the films’ value is expensive. Especially this classic movie that won several Academy Award, there is no reason have so such meaningless plot. So, I decided to watch it again. As I carefully observed, I found two problems, I conclude them as the occurred moments and the screen cut by using Montage.

The word “montage” from France, which means to form, assembly. Modern, named by Russian artist as an art form (Videomaker). The main purpose of this approach is to highlight some of the minute details which the author wants to show to the viewer by cutting the picture (Nelmes). The reason that montage appear is can save more manpower, funding and achieve the better result at the same time. After all, many times the photographer cannot achieve the desired photographic effect but the film which after montage can easily show the outstanding effect which director needs. Therefore, I carefully observed the brief story in the café. After Joe ordered his cold coffee, there are indeed several shots that cover this cup of coffee. In this snippet, it included the behavior that from how the waiter served, what kind of tables placed and so on. Moreover, this cup of coffee just appeared at the key turning point that Joe needs to make the decision between love and career. And then I came out a question: why Joe ordered a cup of coffee but not like the princess ordered a cup of champagne? As we know, there are thousands of drinks in the world. This is by no means accidental that the author arranges Joe to order a cup of coffee here.

I decided to look for the answer from the properties of the coffee. As we all know, coffee is a pure and bitter drink. When entrance, fragrant is full of taste. Over time, a trace of bitter and sour came out to shock your taste. Associated with the story in the movie, I found a striking similarity between Joe and coffee. The fragrance of the entrance is like falling into love’s Joe, the following separation was similar with the bitterness. But may this be a coincidence?

Therefore, I chose another movie in recent years which called Baby Driver. It is a 2017 action crime film written and directed by Edgar Wright. Production companies were Media Rights Capital, Big talk productions, and Working Title Films. Baby Driver had won several awards, one of the awards is San Diego Film Critics Society Best Use of music. The movie is mainly talks about how love changed Baby life and a series of thrilling stories. Because Baby’s parents died in a car accident when he was young, Baby is also suffering from mental tinnitus, only music can let him calm down. One day, Baby had caught by Doc as a car theft, he made an agreement with doc to help him rob bank. About to finish the agreement, Baby had fallen in love with a waitress. Since then, Baby decided to embark on the path of redemption.

In the movie, there is a plot that memorably memorized. When Baby first met Debora, the beauty of Debora made Baby feel amazing. When overwhelmed, baby subconsciously ordered a cup of coffee. Throughout the entire movie, it’s almost the only time Baby drinks coffee. Not only that but also because of the nature of the music movie, from the changing of the background music, we also can easily know the inner activities of a protagonist. When the moment that Baby met with Debora, the background music, which was originally blue because of Baby’s melancholy mood, immediately became romantic. In the film and television works, especially modern movie, music and other forms of work and the visual combination is a very important part of the movie portfolio. Extensive experimentation proves that all three low-level modalities (text, audio and visual) boost the performance of a content-based recommendation system, compared to the typical metadata-based content representation, by more than 50% relative increase” (Konstantions).

Not only in the movie, in China, coffee is gradually becoming synonymous with love. In Chinese popular music, there are countless songs that make love and coffee more relevant. 烟味(the Smell of Smoke), sung by Eason Chen, who is very famous in Chinese music field. The song mainly expresses the pain after the lovelorn of man and the memory of love. Among the song, coffee as a keyword appeared many times. And this phenomenon is not accidental.

So I have a question want to ask: why coffee become synonymous with love? Especially China, the country which doesn’t have coffee in ancient time. During the research, I didn’t any clear evidence of how the relationship built between coffee and love. It seems as if a convention when people say coffee, the word “love” will come out in their brain. At the same time, there is countless modern poet use coffee to describe the love. For example, many people like to use Cappuccino to describe waiting for love, the kind of sweet with bitter and consistent taste, so many girls tasted the taste of love. From the not authoritative data, I found that after the founding of New China, most people can’t stand the taste of coffee. Most Chinese people don’t like such bitter and little sour drink. Until the 1970s, with the relationship between China and the United States, ushered in the honeymoon period, there were a large number of Chinese international students appeared. With a large number of returned students, the local diet has gradually received the impact of European and American culture. During the same period, coffee also had a large number of loyal fans in China. In the emerging coffee period, this drink is expensive and noble. Because very few people are able to afford the price of coffee and know the advantages of coffee. This idea had a profound impact on the 1970’s people whose age like my parents. This kind of popular cultural impact is unjustified, but it truly affects nearly 30 years of Chinese popular culture. Until today, countless cafes on the streets of China attract customers with “lovers cafes.” There are also countless couples dating in coffee shops.














BOUGIATIOTIS, K; GIANNAKOPOULOS, T. Enhanced movie content similarity based on textual, auditory and visual information. Expert Systems with Applications. 96, 86-102, Apr. 15, 2018. ISSN: 09574174


Edgar Wright (2017). Baby Driver


Montage Then and Now. (2016). Videomaker., 30(10), 50-51.


Nelmes, J. (2012). Introduction to film studies. Oxon: Routledge.


William Wyler (1953).  Roman Holiday


2017 San Diego Film Critics Society’s Award Nominations. (2017, December 09). Retrieved February 27, 2018, from


Pilots and Pop Culture in a Post 9-11 World

I began this project with the idea of using all movies with pilots as a starting point.  As I started looking closer to how pilots are portrayed in popular culture, I realized that September 11th, 2001 was a watershed mark for how pilots are represented in film and television.  September 11th, was not just a tragic moment for America, but also the beginning of aviation’s “Lost Decade” (Centre for Aviation, 2011).  The terrorist attacks were the start of a long struggle for the commercial aviation in the U.S., followed by high fuel prices and an economic recession.  For these reason I decided to look at pilots in movies and television post 9-11-2001.  Although there are few examples, the portrayal of pilots in popular culture since September 11th has transitioned from ultra-professional to absurd.

The stereotype for pilots has been fairly constant in pop culture; white, male, cocky, risk takers, wearing ridiculous sunglasses.  The white male descriptor is well deserved as only 4.36% of Airline Transport Pilots, or ATP*, are women according to Women in Aviation (2016).  Minority representation is small as well; in 2014 only 2.7% black, 5% Hispanic/Latino, 2.7% Asian pilots compiled the ranks of ATP rated pilots (Zirulnik 2014).  As for pilot personality, a 2003 study comparing airline pilots and applicants to the general populations found:

“… the type of person that is drawn to the occupation of airline pilot is substantially more reserved, intelligent, emotionally stable, dominant, enthusiastic, conscientious ,bold, trusting, self-assured, conservative, socially precise, and relaxed than is the general population.” (Blackman, Cross, and Wakcher 2003)

Conservative, conscientious, and reserved are traits that counter what the entertainment industry would have us believe most pilots are.  Bold, dominant, and self-assured all fit the stereotypical image.

And the sunglasses, I guess that’s just a matter of taste.

The first example of pilots in cinema that I looked at is in the film United 93.  The movie is based upon its titled flight on September 11.  United 93 is a dramatic (and speculative) recreation of the terrorist hijacking.  I think United 93 was the focus of a movie over the other flights involved in the 9-11 attacks because of the role the passengers played; United 93 makes for a better story.  Despite the resulting crash, the passengers fought against the hijackers to keep the plane from hitting its intended target.  The movie role of the pilots is small. Which is understandable considering the movie is mostly focused on the hijackers and passengers.  The pilots portrayed in United 93 act mostly like real pilots.  The pilots engage in minor small talk, conduct pre-flight inspections, and complete checklist; all normal pilot tasks.  The movie, compared to other aviation themed films, shows a very average flight that most passengers would be familiar with up until the hijacking begins.  United 93, the movie, hits close to the American heart. Both in in time (released shortly after 9-11) and in substance.  United 93 is a somber reminder of the tragedies, which is one reason I believe the pilots were shown with such professionalism and respect.

Sully is a movie based upon US Airways flight 1549, also known as the “Miracle on the Hudson”.  In the actual crash events birdstrikes caused the failure of both engines shortly after take-off, forcing the pilots to ditch the airliner in the Hudson River.  All passengers and crew survived.  US Airways 1549 is one of the rare cases where accident investigators did not list pilot error as a contributing factor in the crash and the pilots are actually credited as a factor to the high survival rate.  The pilots in the movie, played by Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart, display exceptional professionalism, with just the occasional glimmer of humor sprinkled in.  With the flagship joke at the end of the movie; when asked if the First Officer, Jeff Skiles (Eckhart), would have done anything different he responds in reference to the winter conditions, “I would have done it in July.”  Sully is a feel good story since everyone survived, lending to humor being more acceptable to the audience.

A more recent example of pilots in pop culture is shown in the FOX television show “LA to Vegas”(2018).  The show is a situational comedy, so by definition should be more humorously written than the other two examples I’ve given.  There are two pilot characters who fly the same route every week: Captain Dave and co-pilot Alan played respectively by Dylan McDermott and Amir Talai.  In LA to Vegas the pilots are portrayed in a silly manner, completely lacking in the professionalism shown in Sully or United 93.  Captain Dave appears to lack self confidence, but tries to make up for it with inappropriate behavior at every opportunity.  The Dave character, despite wearing an unmistakable pilot uniform, never has the top of his shirt buttoned and his tie is always loose.  Co-pilot (a term loathed by real-life first officers, because it implies that they aren’t actual pilots and therefore less capable than the captain) Alan is a goofy scatter-brain who claims in the first episode he wanted to be a dancer, not a pilot.  During another episode when Captain Dave can’t land the plane, the flight attendant lands, not Alan.  Contributing to the incompetent “co-pilot” image.   Talai‘s character isn’t even listed on the main cast webpage on FOX’s website.  LA to Vegas has most of the typical pilot stereotype jokes: oververt use of aviator sunglasses, ego, inference that pilots don’t actually fly because the planes fly themselves.

The progression from images of no-nonsense profesional to absurd silliness shows how far commercial aviation in popular culture has come since 9-11. In the public eye flying is now not something to be scared of, but something to make fun of.  This shouldn’t be surprising since  2017 is known to be the safest year ever regarding commercial aviation (Ranter 2017).  With more time passing since a major aviation accident I expect the jokes to continue.  As a pilot myself, I’ll take the humor as a complement to the efforts made everyday to keep the sky one of the safest modes of transportation we have.  Now if pop culture could just start shaming people who fly in pajamas…

*The Airline Transport Pilot certificate, or ATP is the highest level of pilot certificate available to U.S. pilots.  An ATP essentially the doctorate of pilot certificates.  Pilots flying for airlines must be ATP rated pilots in the U.S.



Aviation’s lost decade? 9/11 and beyond. Cause for optimism in the wake of 9/11 changes.

(2011), Centre for Aviation. 3-13-2018

Blackman, Melinda C.; Cross, Kara; and Wakcher, Sandra  “Personality Comparison of Airline Pilot Incumbents, Applicants, and the General Population Norms on the 16PF”  Sage Journal, Volume: 92 issue: 3, page(s): 773-780, Issue published: June 1, 2003, Accepted: March 05, 2003

Benzon, Robert P (Investigator in Charge) NTSB Accident #DCA09MA026  (2010)

Current Statistics of Women in Aviation Careers In the U.S. (2016)  Women in Aviation International. 3-13-2018


Greengrass, Paul “United 93” (2006)

Komarnicki, Todd; Sullenberger, Chesley; Zaslow, Jeffery  “Sully” (2016)

Ranter, Harro “ASN data show 2017 was safest year in aviation history” Aviation Safety Network (2017) 3-13-2018

Zimmet, Lon “LA to Vegas” FOX (2018) 3-18-2018

Zirulnik, Michael L.  “Airlines’ flight decks lack diversity”  The Hill  (2014) 3-13-2018

Female Artists Invisibility

Up until the last couple decades, women have been nearly invisible in the art world. Refused to be put in art shows or even taken seriously, women artists have only recently made headway in the art world, and it’s about time. I chose to study the role of female artists, an identity that I’ve always felt a strong connection to. I was raised by two artists and have always had many strong female artist roles in my life, so when I decided to study this identity I wasn’t expecting to discover how uncredited and unrepresented women have been in the art world.

When the critically acclaimed textbook Janson’s Basic History of Western Art first came out, zero out of the 318 artists represented in the book were women, which has only raised to 27 in the most recent editions. [1]  I guess having been raised around so many amazing female artists, I hadn’t been exposed to how divided the art world has been, and how hard its been for women to have their roles as artists taken seriously. When it comes to women artist portrayals in popular culture, the results are slim. Not only are women rarely featured in Hollywood lead roles unless their sole purpose is to keep the romantic plot line going, women being shown as successful artists is extremely rare. From my research, I found that most films involving female artists are biographies about existing well known female artists. Very few roles show women as artists, and when they do, they aren’t successful ones. Typically, the art world is shown in a joking manner when referenced in popular films or TV shows. When actors play artists that are shown as successful, they are automatically shown as arrogant and self-obsessed. When they’re shown as unsuccessful (a more common role), they are portrayed as naive and doltish. Not really a win-win situation. Here’s what I found for roles of women artists in popular media, along with some information on the history of women in art.


Lily from How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother is a playful sitcom on the life of five friends living in New York City. Lily Aldrin is one of the two main female characters in the show, and plays a kindergarten teacher and artist on the side. The show doesn’t often focus on her side career as an artist, but when it does it portrays her as a failed one, with unrealistic dreams of success. In an episode titled “Everything Must Go”, Lily and her husband (another main character) must come up with a large sum of money to fix the floors in their apartment. Lily suggests to sell her paintings to come up with some extra money, and ends up selling a piece to a couple. Thrilled, she decides to host an art party to sell more, and calls to invite the couple that bought her piece, only to find out that they only bought the piece for the frame it was in and threw away her painting. In another episode titled “The Scorpion and the Toad”, Lily is moving back to New York after a brief stay in San Francisco to pursue her art.  When first asked about her trip, she gushes about how amazing it was, how she met interesting people and how her art teacher praised her, saying he couldn’t teach her anything she didn’t already know. Later in the episode, we find out that she was lying about all this, and was actually told that she had no talent. In both these episodes, Lily is portrayed as unsuccessful and foolish. Nearly every time she attempts to go further in the art world, she’s shot down and told that she’s not good enough, so much so that she basically gives up pursuing art. This just further emphasizes the stereotype that women aren’t serious artists, and aren’t considered talented by the masses.


Big Eyes

Big eyes is a film directed by Tim Burton, that follows the true story of Margaret Keane and her husband Walter. Margaret Keane is an artist famous for her portraits of women with large eyes, who was involved in a legal scandal in the 1960s when her husband was found taking credit for her paintings. The film starts with Margaret meeting Walter Keane at an outdoor art fair in San Francisco, shortly after he proposes and they get married. He then starts marketing her pieces, convincing her that since he is such a great business man, he can actually sell her work, unlike she’s been able to in the past. He starts selling them at a local jazz club, and without Margarets knowledge, tells customers that he painted the pieces himself. He tells her this is the best way, that she can stay at home and paint while he goes out and sells them, because “nobody buys lady art.” [2] This continues, until Margaret files for divorce after Walter tries to hurt her and her daughter following a bad art review. A year later, they go to court to fight over the rights of the paintings. After a lengthy court battle, the judge asks them to both create a painting in court, so the real painter of the big eye pieces can be determined. Walter claims he can’t paint because of a hurt shoulder, and Margaret completes her painting and wins the lawsuit. This movie represents a real life battle between female and male artists in the 60s, and is a perfect example of how uncredited and mistreated women artists have been in the past. The fact that the paintings had to be represented by a male artist in order for her paintings to gain success and to have public praise, shows how little respect the world had for women artists. In an interview done with Margaret Keane regarding why she let her husband take credit for her work, she said, “Back then, women kind of went along with their husbands, didn’t rock the boat, He finally wore me down.” [3] Another aspect of this ordeal that I found interesting was the fact that even though Walter had no witnesses or a lawyer in the court battle, the judge still remained unsure until Margaret literally painted a piece right in front of him. Despite numerous witnesses who backed  Margarets claim, the judge still required her to demonstrate her painting skills. This is ironic because over the decade that Walter was taking credit for her work, he wasn’t once asked to demonstrate his painting skills live, or prove in anyway that he was in fact the creator. The public found it easy to believe that a man was painting these amazing works of art, but required proof that a women was painting the same pieces.


Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo

This book is a biography of the inspiring Frida Kahlo, written by Hayden Herrera. I chose this reading as one of my artifacts because of the incredible story that is Frida’s life, and because of the way the book tells it. The book follows her life starting as an ambitious young girl who was full of life and ambition, who gets diagnosed with polio and later endures a terrible accident at the age of 18. Though she lived a life of pain and discomfort, she never stopped producing her art. Inspired by her Mexican heritage, her pieces often reflected the nature and artifacts that were apart of her culture, along with frequent autobiographical elements and self portraiture. The book also covers the well known love story of her and her husband, famous mural painter Diego Rivera, and the tumultuous relationship that came from this. Frida lived a both emotionally and physically painful life, which made her an incredibly strong artist and person. There are many films and novels that tell the inspiring story of her life, but the reason I chose this book specifically was the backlash it got regarding the way Hayden Herrera chose to portray Frida, and the aspects of her life that she left out. Readers accused Herrera for portraying Frida as Diego-obsessed and borderline pity-full, making her out to be a very “stereotypical women” that is so often depicted in popular media. I think Herrera did a great job at showing the struggles she went through in her life, and showing how this led to her being such a creative genius. This said, I don’t find the book to be an accurate representation of the life Frida lived. Herrera ignores the fact that Frida was a invested, gender bending feminist, and revolutionist. Many people claim that Herrera uses personal statements and assumptions far too often, basing her information on Fridas emotions sheerly off popular gender stereotypes, thus simplifying her multifaceted life. Whether or not this biography is the most accurate portrayal of Frida, it doesn’t take away from how phenomenal Frida Kahlo was, and how much she did for female rights in the art world and in everyday life.


In conclusion:

I chose these three examples because I wanted to show a range of female artist portrayal. In the first example, Lily from How I Met Your Mother plays a wannabe artist, whose constant negative responses to her work eventually lead her to give up on being a professional artist. In the second example, the film Big Eyes tells a true story on the struggle of being a female artist in the 60s. When she was the face behind her work, no one bought it or showed interest in it, and galleries refused to put her on their walls. As soon as a man takes control, they became a phenomenon, because people were more comfortable and more likely to praise a male artist. The third example is a bit tricky, because while nothing could take away from the pure genius that is Frida Kahlo, the way she is portrayed in the most popular biography written about her takes away from her many revolutionary acts towards feminism and female art, and strengthens the idea that she was boy-obsessed and dependent.

Since then, a lot has changed in our society. But after centuries of neglect, how do we just now start to re-establish and empower female artists so they can finally get the attention they deserve? A recent solution has been an influx of all-women art shows, exhibits that focus on female creators and offer a way to for them to get seen in the art world. These shows are a way to recognize the female voice, and as artist Barbara Kruger said, they’re a way of “playing catch-up, after centuries of women’s marginality and invisibility.” [4] Barbara Kruger is another female artist whose art was stolen without any credit, the streetwear brand “Supreme” took their logo directly from her work, and have been profiting off it for decades. The interesting part about these new all-women shows, is that galleries and art directors are now sensing the trend, and are looking to buy into this new market of showing women artists. The galleries who once wouldn’t allow women artists to be in shows based on the popular demand for male artists and disinterest in female artists, are now using women shows as a sort of marketing scheme to attract more customers. It’s hard to be picky, since the shows are still doing their main purpose which is getting female artists seen and recognized, but it is slightly ironic.

Overall, we’re on the right track. Making up for years of exclusivity in the art world won’t be easy or immediate, but the fact that we have recognized the problem and are taking steps to reconcile are good signs. Hopefully, in the near future, female artists can get the recognition and respect that we deserve, and we can finally have true equality in the art world.


Learning Moments

Week 3. I really enjoyed the article written by Douglas Rushkoff on consumerism, titled “A Brand By Any Other Name.” It’s crazy the lengths brands go to market their product, and reading about the marketing strategies companies come up with to get the suspicious consumer hooked was interesting and honestly frightening. It was definitely a reality check, and makes you reconsider the marketing schemes that you’ve fallen for in the past.

Week 6. The article, “News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier” really stuck with me, because it summed up how I’ve felt about news for the last couple years. I’ve always thought it was strange how popular news websites seem almost giddy when something horrible happens, and this article made it clear that they rely on tragic events so they can create a story based on humanizing and dramatizing the event as much as possible.



[1] Fields, Jill. Frontiers in Feminist Art History. 2nd ed., vol. 33, University of Nebraska Press, 2012.

[2] Burton, Tim, director. Big Eyes. The Weinstein Company, 2014.

[3] Lang, Kevin. “Big Eyes True Story vs. Movie.”, History vs. Hollywood, 4 Jan. 2015.

[4] Sheets, Hilarie M. “Female Artists Are (Finally) Getting Their Turn.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 29 Mar. 2016,