Latina Stereotypes In Pop Culture

Alejandra Trujillo

February 20, 2015

Mirror Essay


Latina Stereotypes In Pop Culture



Latina adolescent had been shamed with all sorts’ stigmas in pop culture, although some of these stigmas may have been around for years they still affect the Latino population today. With the Latino population being the highest increase over the years, according to the United States census bureau as of July 1st, 2013 the Latino population had reached 54 million. Latinas have become objectified and categorized to teen pregnancy and lack of education, which brings on a bigger issue misrepresntations assumption. So why are Latina women categorized into theses stigmas, and stereotypes?

My whole life I’ve lived in the small town of Oregon City with the Latino population being below 10% 7.3% to be exact according to the United States Census Bureau. Growing up in a community that was and still is very undiverse resulted in me losing a lot of my cultural values and in many ways it made me see the Latino/Hispanic population very differently. I slowly began to struggle to talk in Spanish fluently it then turned into “Spanglish.” I was not only losing ability to speak the language properly, but I was losing the connection with my parents who could barley speaks or understand English. I began to see how different I was to the other Latina girls at my high school, and realized that I was not one of them. I had gone from attending church in Spanish to English, and not to mention people telling me I was “white washed.” Until college I began to gain my cultural values and morals back with the small diversity at Portland State that seemed very diverse to me. Last year in my Portland Freshman Inquiry I remember my professor tell us that Portland itself was not diverse, and to me this seemed wrong. This was very shocking to me because I had previously done an assignment for this class about the diversity in Portland. I then realized that the lack of diversity in Portland was greater then what I saw before. Coming from a small town were the Latino population was below 10% Portland seemed overly more diverse to me, but it actually was not like that at all.

Latina adolescence have gained a stigma that has portrayed them in negative ways some what may be true others that may not be so true. One of the main things that is seen mostly in the media Latina women being objectified to be “sexy” more so in news channels, soap operas, music video’s, or movies. Instead of being pessimistic and thinking that most Latina adolescence will becoming pregnant throughout high school, we need to be optimistic and talk about higher education and safe sex. Latina adolescences face many obstacles with the lack of resources in the underrepresented communities to language barriers. One of the main struggles for Latino/a adolescence comes with being the first generation in their family to attend college, with the possibility of becoming pregnant more common in the Latino community it has become difficult to reach out to receive the right resources, and help. While pregnancy may be an issue another issue would be the relationship needed from parents or guardians to pursue higher educations. From my personal experience I know how difficult it can be to find the right resources, and motivation to find a better future. Although my parents were very supportive the support was very limited. It became hard to seek their help when they had never done a college application because they had never got the opportunity to even consider attended college. Its important to become aware of the issue that occur and barriers that are faced that may lead to young Latino women becoming a statistic.

Back in 2012 a Latina student made headlines by composing “The Pregnancy Project” for her senior project, what was then made into a film. The project consisted of making everyone in her community believe she was pregnant. The reason to this was to see how differently she would be treat not by her not just by her peers, but family, teachers, and community. We have stereotyped the success that can be reached if an adolescent becomes pregnant, and it is very similar for every race. Throughout this film it shows how one can go from being treated in a favorable way to a non-existing person. Gaby being a student who is looked up to be her peers, and greatly appreciated by her teachers sees the transition of her now being considered a statistic, and how differently one is treated when they become part of a group. In this case it was that she was a Latina teen whose mother had her at a young age followed by her sister and brother becoming teen parents.

Freedom Writers was released in 2007 it tells the real life story of teacher who helped students who were struggling academically at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach become successful involved in their education. The lack of striving for a higher education for underrepresented communities and the difficulties those are associated with being in a low-income. The different struggles vary from gang associate, abuse, and violence and I think a lot of the time we forget that this issue occur on a daily biases. Many times with underrepresented communities more so with Latino/Hispanic and African American populations the issue of higher education is grater and I think it is well represented in this film. For some it may be difficult to open up about issue that occur outside the school setting, and it becomes difficult to talk about the issues because a lot of the time these underrepresented populations think that no one cares. The idea of mentor and supportive academic advisor who shows care into helping these type of issue that occur outside of the school setting can simply change the life of not one but multiple students.

Orange Is the New Black is a series on Netflix that tells the real life story of Piper Kerman who was busted in an drug that has happened 10 years ago. In this series the prisoners have segregated themselves into racial groups. An interview done by Gabillet on PopSugar, Kerman stated, “While initially people might sort of gravitate toward the people who are the same color of them.” While reflecting on the stereotypes that Latina women face I noticed many of them being applied in this series. Daya Diaz being pregnant by an officer seems something scandalous especially in prisons. Latina women are known to be loud, intimidating and scandalous. Later in season two you see the group of Latina women take over Red’s job in the kitchen, and they use that to their advantages because Latina women are known to be good in the kitchen. The emphasis that is shown thought this series is a lot of what you may imagine Latina women to be in areas where the Latino population in greater and the gang violence may be more present.

In conclusion I believe its important to understand and read about these on going issues that do not just affect the Latino population, but the underrepresented communities in United States. We need to seem beyond that fact that not everyone is a statistic. Learning to see things from a different perspective to understand pop culture and change how Latina and other communities are portrayed. Beginning with having more access to resources and programs that help pursue higher education, and opportunities for Latino women.








Work Citied


Brown, Anna. “U.S. Hispanic and Asian population growing, but for different reasons.” Pew Research Center. (2015) Web. 26 June 2014.


Freedom Writers. Dir. Richard LaGravenese. 5 January 2007. Perf. Hilary Swank. Imelda Staunton, Patrick Dempsey. Biography. Film.


Gabillet, Annie. The True Story Behind Orange Is the New Black. PopSugar. Web. 16 July. 2014.


The Pregnancy Project. Dir. Teena Booth. 28 January 2012. Perf. Alexa PenaVega, Walker Perez, Sarah Smyth. Film.


United States. Census Bureau. “State and County Quickfacts.” Oregon. (2015). Web. 05 February 2015.

Female Athletes

Breanne Chilton-Eddy

5 March 2015

Female Athletes

Pop culture has shaped how people think of their own identities in many ways. The social stigma that comes with being a female athlete can cause stresses in the social aspects of their lives. Due to how the media portrays female athletes in magazines, films and T.V. they are often over-sexualized.

Male athletes have always been glorified and noticed purely on their abilities while the common female athlete faces social stigma because of their athletic prowess. Men and women’s sports differ because of the way they are seen in the media. Female athletes are shown in a particular way in all types of pop culture: television, film and magazines.

The stigmatization of the female athlete in popular media has been shown in many films while I was growing up. I have noticed that they are the main focus in the film and are trying to prove their athletic capabilities or are seen as endangering the feminine image.

In the movie, She’s the Man the girls’ soccer team gets cut so the main character Viola tries to go out for the boy’s soccer team. She isn’t aloud to try out because the coach and the team think she and all girls are incapable of competing with the boys. Viola heads over to her brothers elite boarding school, while he is away and disguises herself as him to play for the boy’s team. She’s the Man gives a good representation of how society views females in attempt to playing sports. Society expects females to be athletically incompetent and if a female shows athletic prowess it is considered to be one of many stereotypical traits of lesbians.

The best athletes are often labeled as lesbians because they don’t protect their femininity. I think it’s interesting how society thinks that if a woman has an athletic body type and athletic capability this makes them masculine or manly. It proves that there is stigma attached to being a female athlete. Females are expected to do things that don’t endanger their femininity like cheerleading or dance. I believe there is a stigma in being successful at your sport; successful women can be intimidating especially if they were to endanger a man’s masculinity.

Unfortunately, the social stigma of being possibly perceived as a “lesbian” can cause stresses in the social aspects of a female athletes life. These athletes feel the need to appear more feminine in order to mask their masculinity. For example, being really strong is considered to be masculine so women will attempt to avoid these negative stereotypes by trying to prevent an increase in muscle mass so they don’t appear to big. This can affect them negatively because it puts them at risk for injury.

Sports Illustrated is a well-known sports magazine that is read around the country. This past year Little Leauger, Mo’ne Davis was on the front page, she was just thirteen. She was featured mainly because of her age and the circumstance but it is outrageous that this young girl got more media attention then most famous female athletes. When it comes to media exposure, men definitely take center stage especially in magazines like Sports Illustrated. When men are featured they are portrayed solely on their athletic capabilities. When a male athlete is featured on the cover they are seen in uniform or other athletic clothing, but if a female athlete is shown on the cover if at all, they are hyper‐sexualized when posing. For example, just last year a soccer player for the US National team, Alex Morgan was featured in the magazine posing in a swimsuit. If you were just to look at the photos you wouldn’t realize she was a successful female athlete, you would probably assume she was a swimsuit model instead. The majority of readers are male and the best way to draw male attention is to sexualize the sport or athlete; publicity and advertising does this. This brings new audiences and creates a popular representation of what that sport or athlete represents which influences other people and creates a new stigma or status to uphold.

The outcomes of portraying female athletes like this are negative. It can decrease their self-esteem. Athletes will either try and fit or steer away from these stereotypes. This kind of portrayal can discredit from their work because they are appreciated for other attributes like looks and appearance. Instead of being focused on being an athlete there is this competition with other female athletes that is not sports related, you become compared or contrasted based on irrelevant statistics like looks.

Sexualizing women’s sports doesn’t necessarily seem to be going away in popular culture but only growing, because of this women’s athletics are more popular than they have ever been. In general more females are playing sports. This is becoming a new avenue for females in attempt for an equal opportunity.

There are other sides to this debate, including the perspective that our society over-sexualizes male athletes, quite a bit. Such as the H&M commercial featuring David Beckham running around in his underwear. In this commercial, the film maker ensures that the viewer notices him in his underwear first, but then they also show his incredible athleticism while he swims through pools, jumps over cars and fences.



Works Cited


“Alex Morgan 2014 Swimsuit: Guana Island.” N.p., 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.>.

Calzo, Jerel. “Gender Nonconformity and Athletic Self-Esteem.” Research Gate. The Society of Behavioral Medicine, 18 Dec. 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2015. <>.

“David Beckham Bodywear Underwear for H&M Commercial.” YouTube. Ed. Marc 6Atlan. YouTube, 6 Feb. 2013. Web. 07 Mar. 2015. <;.

Paloian, Andrea. “The Female/Athlete Paradox: Managing Traditional Views of Masculinity and Femininity – Applied Psychology OPUS – NYU Steinhardt.” The Female/Athlete Paradox: Managing Traditional Views of Masculinity and Femininity – Applied Psychology OPUS – NYU Steinhardt. N.p., 2015. Web. 20 Mar. 2015. <;.

She’s the Man. Dir. Andy Fickman. Perf. Amanda Bynes. Youtube She’s the Man. N.p., 3 Oct. 2011. Web. 20 Feb. 2015. <(>.

Alaskan Woman

Looking in the Popular Culture Mirror

Erin Jutras

Mirror Essay Draft #1


Daneen Bergland


Alaskan Woman

            In the last few years the United States has sparked an interest in Alaska, a state that, until recently, had only been cared about for it’s gold, oil, and placement near Russia to protect from attacks during World War II. Now, this strange cold state has struck an interest in the rest of the world. It has been a stage for many movies and Alaskan-based reality TV shows, many of which have grown popular. Sadly, I have found these shows to be a misinterpretation of the Alaska, and Alaskans, I grew up with. People from the continental United States, or Lower 48 (as Alaskans call it), only know about Alaska from what they’ve seen on the television. In my visits to the lower 48 and now living in Portland for college, I see how these TV…

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How Portlanders are viewed through the media




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I’ve been hearing the claims ever since I moved here 10 years ago; Portlanders are weird, Portlanders are crazy, they have no direction. I could never put my finger on what these claims meant or fully understand where these ideas were coming from and why we were singled out as so different and extreme. With Seattle to the north and San Francisco to the south, I always believed we were simply people from the west coast who preferred living in a smaller, open-minded community that promoted living happily and honestly. However this is not the view many seem to hold who have either never been here or have little exposure to the wide variety of people who have chosen to call themselves Portlanders. What are some of these preconceived notions outsiders have about us and why have they become so wide spread in the last decade? A glance at our representation in the media and how we are viewed may give us some insight as to what some of these ideas are, where they may have originated and how the wide spread dissemination of the belief that we are so different came about.

            The opening sketch of the first episode of Portlandia really says it all, “a place where young people go to retire”. Is this really how we’re seen, and if so why? How could this image have been cultivated and what characteristics do we display that set us apart from other young city dwellers? I recall disliking the idea that we would be portrayed on T.V., then watching it and laughing hysterically. While satirical in nature, there was a level of truth built into the characters. Still, after giving it some thought, I believe the only way one could fully understand the overflow of inside jokes would be to have spent some time here, to know the people and why these characterizations are made. This is simply not the whole story about who we are. The real message of the show, which I don’t believe was intentional, ends up having positive and negative effects on our image. While Portlandia is a program about a city and its inhabitants, the real content of the show is about the people. As Newsday put it, “before long it doesn’t seem like satire any longer but a funhouse mirror reflection of intensely real people.” And after all, without the people and they’re unique lifestyle choices there would be no material to use for singling us out.

            We see an emphasis on the youth and young people when Portlanders are represented in the media, as well as an apparent lack of representation for older people. Is everyone in this city really between the age of 20 and 35? While there are a lot of young people moving here every day from all over the country, we are not all simply image-obsessed twenty and thirty something’s. The average age of Portlanders, according to the Portland Business Journal, is 36.4 in comparison to the national average of city goers nationwide at 36.9. There are a large number of well-educated young people and the number of college attendees has also been on the rise in recent years. The notion that we lack ambition is false and by the growing number of young adults.

A common theme when analyzing stereotypes of Portlanders is the assertion that we can be easily summed up by the way we dress. In the article ‘The four types of people you’ll meet in Portland’ the author, who is neither from nor lives in Portland, gives a tight narrative about exactly who each individual Portlander is and how they can be recognized upon sight. While distinct sub-cultures exist here, they exist in every city. The undeniable presence of unique and diverse clothing styles is highlighted by the media and we are sometimes seen as members of clubs rather than individuals. Should he or she dress a certain way then they must certainly adhere to a distinct set of values. Should they drive a certain car or live in a particular part of town they must shop at these businesses and eat specific types of food. This assumptive labeling happens to many of us as we are spotted in the open and quickly summed up based solely on the way we look. These predications are supported by portrayals of Portlanders and help in creating an exaggerated image of us to those who have had little exposure to Portlanders aside from what they’ve seen in the media.

            Another misconception we see burgeoning in the media is that we are a group composed of fanatical and intolerant cyclists. As many of us are cycling enthusiasts and we live in an environment where this activity is fostered, how many of us are overly-aggressive road hounds who hate automobiles and drivers alike? Again in the first episode of Portlandia we see the characterization of a young, fixed gear-riding, refusing-to-share-the-road stereotype. As he rides around the city yelling at people in cars and cutting of pedestrians we can all get a laugh knowing there is a good chance at least some of us have previously seen exhibitions of these behaviors. But how many of us live up to this standard? I believe these images help support the notion that this is who we are. Again, this is not so. As a community we have made the efforts to design our streets to fit our lifestyle choices and allow us to live the way we would like, but this over-the-top drama can make us look silly and takes away the meaning of our collective value for bike riding and what this component of our personalities means when we call ourselves Portlanders.

            Lastly, I’ll address the idea that we are a bunch of young, directionless people, content with simply getting by on part time jobs and never living up to our full potential. How this idea originally came about has been a bit of a mystery to me. Again, in the opening of Portlandia, the viewer is told we are retired young people whose aspirations are nothing more than to work in coffee shops a few hours a week, play in garage bands and make art. In the short-live sitcom Life Unexpected the lead male character is a 30 something who’s been left a building by his father, and instead of getting a job, he’s converted it into a bar where he hangs out and drinks, sleeps late and plays videogames all day until the bar opens again. His lack of direction or desire to grow as an adult is highlighted by his reaction to finding out he has a teenage daughter whom he has never met. This is a misconception that has been flung far and wide as I have personally experienced questions from people when traveling abroad. While on a trip last year and met a girl from Australia, who upon finding out I was a Portlander, informed me of how cool it was to be a Portlander and how lucky I was to live in place where life was so easy and where we didn’t have to work hard. It was surprising to learn this image had travelled so far. I, like some of my fellow students, work full time, attend school and do my best to maintain a social life. While there may be those of us who are content living in a house with 6 roommates and working a few hours a week at the local coffee shop, I believe we are more ambitious than that. We Portlanders, like young people anywhere, have aspirations and the desire to improve our lives as we grow. And while living in a free and un-inhibiting environment may be a value we hold as important, we are only people, and we all aspire to be something more than who we are today.

            Portlanders are a unique bunch of folks; a little crazy at times and perhaps a little outside the boundaries of “normalcy”. That said I believe we are often unfairly seen as just plain ridiculous. It’s my conclusion that the media helps perpetuate these stereotypes through the characterization of people with extreme lifestyles. The rather harmless, and at times humorous, stereotypes about Portlanders give those who do not know us ideas about who we are before ever having a chance to really get to know us.


Works Sited

Hayes, Dustin. “The Four People You Meet In Portland.” TravelSages. TravelSages, 12 Feb. 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.

“Farm.” Portlandia. IFC, 21 Jan. 2011. Television.

Stein, Jake. “’Portlandia’ Season 3 Review: Has the Series Helped Or Hurt Portland’s Image?.” PolicyMic. PolicyMic, 1 Mar. 2013. Web. 1 Mar. 2014

“Pilot.” Life Unexpected. CW, 18 Jan. 2010. Television.

Stevens, Suzanne.Portland metro average age: 36.” Portland Business Journal. Portland Business Journal, 22 Feb. 2012. Web. 3 Mar. 2012


Nerds in Pop Culture (This essay was completely redone)

Real Genius: Nerds in Pop Culture

            The nerd, a term that has taken on many different definitions over the years, the very origins of the word can be traced back to the Dr. Seuss book “If I Ran to The Zoo”, but it wasn’t until a Newsweek article in 1951 made the real-life connection to someone who was considered “uncool”, or “square” also bringing up the fact that the term was first used as slang coming from the city of Detroit (Quail, Brooks). This initial definition provided to the masses would be the stigma that followed the term “nerd” for over half a century. Up until about the turn of the millennium the term “nerd” would start taking on new meanings, such examples can include the hipster population that we find an all too familiar site in Portland, as well as people who are really into a certain subject matter (i.e. Star Wars, Star Trek).

While the identity of the nerd may seem like something more geared towards a youthful crowd, it’s an idea that really can apply to all ages, races, and genders. The nerd identity was always seen as a means to cast people out due to their non-conformity or unwillingness to adhere to the rules of a certain social idea, these same means are now taking on a whole new meaning because people are tired of being told how to act and how to be in a social setting. This revelation has now taken the once negative stigma of a nerd and begun to take a more positive outlook, and the once uncool or square individual has now become the new cool kid on the block as it were.

This idea that the nerd is finally ditching the once negative aspect can be found in television and the internet alike. T.V. shows like the Big Bang Theory, and Malcolm in the Middle both show characters who are considered nerds, while they are portrayed as the seemingly uncool kids that the term nerd came to be known as. This uncoolness is the very thing that makes them normal, people who either grew up like Malcolm, or are living like the characters in the Big Bang Theory, are a part of what popular culture is starting to perceive as normal, in comparison to what was considered normal 50 years ago.

I identify with being a nerd because for a long time growing up I was often the quiet one, the kid who was strange and didn’t necessarily have a lot of friends, and for this I was often ridiculed. The idea of being a nerd initially was being the social outcast, keeping mainly to yourself, and escaping the trials of life through means of fantasy and imagination. As well as having a sense of belonging when I met other people who were just like me and into the same interests as myself. Now with the advent of nerd culture in T.V. and movies like Star Trek, as well as the advancement of technology, all the things that used to make me seem odd are now suddenly cool, and not looked down upon by other people (not as much as it used to be anyway).

Nerds are often mistaken for another type of identity, hipsters. What hipsters are is a sort of condescending version of the nerd, for example, ask someone if they had ever heard of a certain band, or show. What a nerd will tell you is that “no I’ve never heard of that show”, or “yes I’ve watched for years I know everything about it’s really cool that you’re into it too”. Whereas a hipster will more than likely eschew this response “Yeah I’ve been watching that show since it started, you know before it was cool, you’ve come in too late and probably won’t understand the story”. This is frustrating because it seems like just as nerds were finally getting the recognition, hipsters came along and started tarnishing the nerd identity with ideas that nerds let go of a long time ago.

In 1982 the band Rush debuted one of their most pivotal albums Signals, the biggest hit off of this album was the song Subdivisions. Subdivisions was written by the bands lyricist and drummer Neil Peart, who wrote most of the music for the group. The song he wrote was about growing up in the suburbs and how it fostered this need for conformity, and the alienation that came with it. While this may seem like a bit of a stretch relating to the nerd identity, in reality its basis is the very thing that defined the nerd identity for so long. In the lyrics this idea of alienation due to non-conformity is made very clear through these following lines.

“Subdivisions – in the high school halls, in the shopping malls, conform or be cast out.

            Subdivisions – in the basement bars, in the backs of cars, be cool or be cast out.”(Lee, Lifeson, Peart)

It was this song that really brought to light the idea that growing up in this world where conformity was a means of keeping people in line or keeping them down as it were. The nerd identity was very much still seen in this way at the time of this songs release, which is why a lot of people that I‘ve found fit in the nerd identity relate so much to this song. The bands lyricist even mentioned that this idea he was writing about was meant to touch a broad audience, here’s an excerpt from that interview.

“In our song “Subdivisions,” the background that all three of us grew up in is the common denominator…and I see our audiences being congruent with us through many of these phases. There’s certainly that commonality—it’s a question of background, and of needing certain things to alleviate that background.” (Peart, McDonald, Stern).

In many ways I believe this was a paradigm shift in the way people thought about conformity, this would eventually lead to more people coming out of their shells of safety and finally saying enough. For the nerd identity it was a pivotal moment in which people who considered themselves as such could finally relate to something that was a mainstream idea, and something that other people could get behind.

I relate to the ideas in this song because it essentially described the way that I went through most of my early years in school. While the band is referring to growing up in the suburbs, I believe the idea behind the alienation that came with growing up in the suburbs is something that most people who consider themselves nerds can easily relate to.

Malcolm in the Middle first aired in 2000, the show centers around Malcolm, a gifted young man who had to deal with the intelligence level he was at as well as dealing the social hardships of a growing teenage boy. He lives with his seemingly dysfunctional family, who at first appears to be the atypical American family, but in reality holds the value of family itself very dear. This show illustrated for the first time that someone who was as into comic books and chess as much as the next nerd, was also keen on getting into trouble with help of his two brothers. In doing so the show finally gave a sense of normalcy to an identity that for a long time had been seen as uncool. While the show does seem to emanate the fact that Malcolm is a little bit isolated from the world around him, his character shows the soul of an all-American boy (Frutkin) who has the desires of being normal. Now it may seem like the show is showing the typical negative connotations of the nerd identity, when in reality it was showing a new normal. The message here was that it was ok to be who you are; the people around you were also dealing with their own little quirks. While it didn’t feel like it you were really just like everyone else, the difference being is that you might be on some different level of understanding than the people around you.

I identify with this show because it’s essentially the storybook of my entire childhood. Growing up I wanted that feeling of being normal, but like Malcolm had a hard time relating with those who weren’t at my level intellectually, and the people that I was friends with just seemed to be stuck in this perpetual rut that I wanted to escape from. However, it was only later that I came to realize (much like Malcolm did) that the people that I thought I wanted be like so much, were in reality like the people I was already hanging out with.

The Big Bang Theory is probably the most widely known example of nerds in mainstream culture to date. First aired in 2007 the show revolves around four intellectuals and their incredibly attractive neighbor. When the show began there was this air of negativity surrounding it, most self-described nerds would tell you that they hate this show because it relies on jokes that more or less make fun of the nerd identity as a whole. For the most part they’re right, the show does rely on humor that does make fun of the nerd identity, but it’s that humor that has brought the nerd identity to the masses. So how can something that is seemingly making fun of nerds be a positive thing? The answer would be that it’s the characters are actually making fun of themselves. It’s essentially showing that those who consider themselves nerds are fully aware of what they do, and every now and again aren’t afraid poke a little fun at themselves.

Another thing that makes this show so popular could be the most recent advances of technology. With the previous two examples technology hadn’t yet reached the point of where it’s at today, the reliance we currently have on technology has come to redefine the type of person we now relate to (Ross). Our reliance on technology has seemingly made a nerd out of everyone, people can now relate to the type of person that has been defined as uncool for years. The Big Bang Theory now reflects the shift in the center of American industry (Ross) where knowledge is power.

With the recent resurgence in people wanting to return to college we now find some Gen X’ers and some of the baby boomer generations relating more to the situation that nerds have found themselves in for a very long time. This too is reflected in the Big Bang Theory, in the way that most of the characters themselves aren’t as young as they would have been in previous years. The characters in this show are grown adults ranging from early to mid-thirties, as opposed to the previous examples I mentioned. In both of those examples they talk about dealing with the nerd identity growing up, whereas in the Big Bang Theory the characters are already adults and I think that makes it easier for those who are older to relate to people seen in the show. I identify with show because it finally looks at the nerds who grew up, most other portrayals of the nerd identity almost always deal with the character as a young person or child. This shows me that while the characters are fully grown adults, they didn’t lose that sense of the nerd identity when they had to enter the real world and take on more responsibility. For me I find that hopeful that even as an older person I might retain some of the things that defined me as a youth.

The nerd identity has finally come into its own, the days where nerds were considered uncool out outcasts are slowly starting to fade away. The future of the world and culture as we know it lies in the hands of the technology that we build, and the ones at the forefront of all this were the ones that were considered uncool, outcasts, or odd. Given time I believe that there will be an outpouring of all things nerd. Nerds have always held the keys and have always guarded the doors, but now it’s time for the doors to be unlocked and the culture of the nerd to be released to the world.

Works Cited

Primary Sources

The Big Bang Theory. Creat. By Chuck Lorre, and Bill Prady. Perf. Jim Parsons,Johnny Galecki, and Kaley Cuoco. CBS. KOIN. Portland, 24 Sep. 2007 – 13 Mar. 2014. Television.

Malcolm in the Middle. Creat. And Writt. By Linwood Boomer. Perf. Frankie Muniz,

Bryan Cranston, and Jane Kaczmarek. FOX. KPTV. Portland, 9 Jan. 2000 –   14 May.2006. Television.

Rush. “Subdivisions.” Signals. Mercury, 1982. Vinyl Record.

Secondary Sources

Frutkin, Alan James. “Childs Play.” MediaWeek (2000): 66-72. EBSCO Host.

Web. 9 Mar. 2014.

McDonald, Christopher. “Open Secrets: Individualism and Middle-Class Identity in the Songs of Rush.”

Popular Music and Society 31.3 (2008): 313-328. Taylor and Francis Online.

Web. 10 Mar. 2014.

Quail, Christine. “Nerds, Geeks, and the Hip/Square Dialectic in Contemporary Television.”

             Sage (2011): 461-482. EBSCO Host. Web. 9 Mar. 2014.

Ross, India. ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and the Rise of the Pathologically Nerdy in Sitcom TV’

            Popmatters, 13 Aug. 2013. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.


Understanding the Female College Student through Popular Culture

Adrienne Wallace

To be a woman in college is entirely different from being a male in college. College was once only accessible to men and the image that women have collected as a result of neglected access may not always be a positive one. Stereotypes are generated through various sources, popular media playing a huge role in the more recent years of TV, movies, Internet and cellular telephones.  Mass media tends to depict an image of college women as inferior to men, constantly striving to look a certain way, drinking, smoking and partying. The identity chosen is of a female college student. How might the image of female college students compare to those of modern day male college students? What connotations are expressed through sources of everyday media? By delving into some American sources of popular culture, these questions can begin to have an answer, as the reality and the stereotypes are compared.

Taking a closer look into the multitude of images, videos, advertisements and mass media depictions of the female college student, one artifact to look at comes from ABC Family’s Television Series: Greek (2007-2011).  By viewing the trailer for this series, a few images standout: college life revolves around partying, drinking, and relationships. This is clearly an assumption and generalization of what it means to be in college. Although the show is set at a fictional university, the series is generating an image for viewers of what college might be like. Most people might say that college is meant for learning, for furthering ones knowledge and stretching the mind through critical thinking, problem solving and time management. Although this is only one definition as to what the purpose of a college experience is, by watching the show Greek, you could say something completely opposite of that. Without watching the series itself, the trailer sets a viewer up for the experience of watching a lot of drama unfold through drunken nights, sexual encounters, and fraternity parties.

A prominent detail from the trailer exhibits a strong divide between females and males. Males at the university are living at a fraternity, drinking, having sex, cheating, fighting and walking around without their shirts, while the females are shown with tidy rooms, worrying about their image and being promiscuous. This is not to say that the show is faulty and only paints a negative image of college life in general, but the hidden images may be reflective of popular culture and mass media.

In a review of the show from the website, one of the first points made is that, “classes are little more than a daily annoyance interrupting the real course of study: getting drunk, having sex and navigating the bewildering maze of Cyprus-Rhodes’ social structure” followed by the portrayal of women through what is described as, “sorority sisters parad[ing] around in bikinis and other skimpy outfits” (Paul Asay, 2008). The show does little to exemplify the educational aspect of college, yet they do include it in the show but not in the trailer. There are many positive and negative aspects of the series, but without watching the entire thing, you may leave feeling that as a female college student you should be partying more, wearing less, focusing on finding a significant other, sleeping around, competing and joining a sorority to be “popular”. A main takeaway of this show, is that through popular culture, an idea of what it means to be in college is not always reflective of the reality- and such might be said for a large span of identities portrayed in mass media today.

As a second artifact, the Spring Breakers movie trailer proved to show some images that can only be propagations of all of the negative stereotypes about women in college. You see 4 girls going on a trip for Spring Break and become involved with a guy they meet while out at a party. You only see the girls in bikinis, looking for money and partying. This is exactly what mass media feeds to society and although it isn’t always untrue- it makes a large generalization for all of the other girls in college who don’t go partying for spring break. The carefree element of this movie, not only the trailer, is that as a female college student, it may not be true that every spring break, all there is to worry about is where the “hottest” party town is to travel to. Getting drunk, sun tanning and lounging in a bikini is very stereotypical of how a skewed reality is drawn. The carefree life that leaves out study time, money troubles, self-consciousness and social or familial pressures, is the one that Spring Breakers propagates.

As a last look into the pop culture mirror of how a female college student is portrayed, the Mundovision documentary titled: College Days, College Nights (2004) is chosen as an artifact.  The description found on the Films on Demand website reads as follows: “Sixteen students search for knowledge, fun, love, sex, and a path to a rewarding career…partying, clubs and sports compete head-to-head with classes and sleep-but campus life is only one part of this compelling story… a team of eight film students who capture events that the pros could not have witnessed.” (Zaritsky, 2004). By  watching this film, a few things become apparent. First is that each individual within this documentary has a different story to tell yet shares concerns or experiences of all college students. Second is that the way in which the film is presented, provides true honesty to the story of college life. Instead of the popular media making assumptions or generalizations that may propagate stereotypes of women in college, this documentary only shows real life stories from real college students as they experience life in university. The refreshing reality of “College Days, College Nights” is that the females are concerned with things other than just parties, sex, drugs and drinking. They experience home sickness, they worry about their friends and relationships, just as they are concerned with their educations. Overall, the images found in this documentary are a refreshing change of pace from what was seen in Greek and Spring Breakers.

An identity can evolve, develop and ultimately mean something different for every person. It is for those reasons, that trying to define an identity, or properly describe what it means for someone to define themselves through the tools of popular culture. Including, but not limited to: Facebook, Twitter, Television, Internet, Blogs, Movies and Advertisements. The previously mentioned sources, could not completely depict a female college student without generating misguided attempts at reality, yet they provide an array of images that many will watch and affect their view of female college students. Aside from solely generating an image, what mass media can result in, is a pressure for those who identify as a female college student to strive to be a certain way. By seeing females in college being promiscuous, drinking alcohol and doing drugs, the subconscious may push someone to think they have to act that way. Media affects the popular image but more importantly can shape a personal image. The stereotypes that were only seen as that, can turn into reality for many.

Through all that is seen in movies, TV, and the Internet, college girls get a bad reputation. This is not true in every scenario, but from what I have found it is still the dominant stereotype that shines through- college girls are partiers, they are promiscuous and they are carefree. As the identity as a whole contains so many different stories and individuals, there is not way that mass media could properly portray them all, yet there is still a very dominant image that will hopefully one day become just a piece of the image. Some questions that arise from this analysis include: Why must an identity be so complicated to depict to the world? Will there ever be enough popular culture media that can paint the true picture? Is it possible that the female college student is so broad that defining it is too difficult? How might a healthy image be presented, and viewed through critical media analysis, so that everything is not taken as truth, but simply an idea to consider?

Works Cited

Asay, Paul. TV Reviews. June 2008. February 2014


College Days, College Nights. Dir. John Zaritsky. 2004.

“Spring Breakers Trailer 2013.” 30 January 2013. YouTube. February 2014                         <;.

Youtube. “Greek Trailer.” 2 July 2007. Youtube. February 2014           <;.

Trans* in the Media

Tarek Skarbek

UNST Pop. Culture

February 20, 2014

The Representation of Trans* in the Media

I believe that the media is responsible for sizable chunk of our society’s education.

The media is in charge of setting the norm, many people repeat what they see in the

media. If people see violence or offensive language aimed towards a certain group,

they become desensitized to such negative content, it becomes the “norm”. I see it in

the news, at school,  and from trans* individuals themselves. And unfortunately

some of the most popular shows, are the ones demonstrating transphobia


The media the portrayal of Trans* individuals is mainly that of the victim or

the aggressor.  According to GLAAD’s article Victims or Villains: Examining Ten years

 of Transgender Images on Television. Transgender individuals are casted as the

victim 40% of the time, while they are casted as villains 21% of the time. We are

rarely portrayed on the media in a strong positive role, being seen as either a victim

or a villain affects how society views people like me. We are seen as unstable, like

something is wrong with us, that we are sick. GLAAD points out “Since 2002, GLAAD

catalogued 102 episodes and non-recurring storylines of scripted television that

contained transgender characters, and found that 54% of those were categorized as

containing negative representations at the time of their airing”.

Skarbek 2

That is over half of the TV shows being aired, if that was bad enough 61% of TV

shows content contained anti-Trans* slurs, and dialog. GLAAD even calls out some

of the more popular shows which contain offensive content below:

CSI (CBS), which not only featured a transgender serial killer who murdered his

own mother, but scenes in which transgender murder victims were openly mocked

by the show’s lead characters while examining their bodies and crime scenes.


The Cleveland Show (Fox), in which a man vomits onscreen for a lengthy period of

time after discovering he had slept with a transgender character.  The episode also

contained anti-trans language and defamatory characterizations.


Nip/Tuck (FX), which featured a storyline about a transgender woman who

regretted her transition, a transgender sex worker being beaten, and an entire

season about a psychopathic trans woman depicted as a baby-stealing sexual

predator who sleeps with her own son” (GLAAD).

This is so disappointing, as a child I was often referred to as “It” or “He-she specie”

and it is frustrating seeing the media endorse this kind of behavior.

You may oppose my accusation, the effect that the media hold over our ideas of

normal is subtle and toxic, although it has the potential to become empowering.

The Media hold the potential to change the norm for the better, shows suck as

Orange is the New Black, The Fosters, and GLEE are changing how we see Trans*

represented in the media today! They are portraying in-depth, realistic Trans*

characters. And I give extra props to The Fosters and Orange is the New Black for

actually using Transgender actors and actresses to portray the Trans* character!

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I would like to believe that the media cares what happens to us, how their content

affects us, but right now I am feeling nothing.

After the death of Dr. Vanderbilt, ESPN chose to post the article which lead to her

decision to end her life. Dr. V was forcibly “outed” by journalist Hannan, after he

promised that he would only write about the science behind her famous golf clubs.

When discussing the death of Dr. V, Mr. Hannan referred to her as his “subject”.

Below is a conversation courtesy of Buzzfeed LGBT:

Wasik: “Reread it with this thought: ‘All this was written after the central subject had been driven to suicide, arguably by the the writer.’”

Hannan: “Ouch.”

Wasik: “But if I were your editor, I don’t know that I could have steered you any other way. The story must go on.”

Hannan: “Appreciate that, Bill. These questions are going to come up when the subject of your story takes their own life.”

In his mind he didn’t cause the death of a woman, but rather some horrible creature.

If Dr. Vanderbilt had been cisgender, and Hannan had bullied her to the point of

suicide, he would have been arrested.  As victims we are not taken seriously, we are

seen as subhuman, or not even human at all.  Another example is CeCe McDonald, a

23-year old (trans) woman who was sent to prison for stabbing her tormentor with

scissors, he was committing a hate crime, and CeCe was using self-defense. But CeCe

was never seen as the victim she really was, rather she was sentenced to 41 months

in a MEN’S prison facility. A MEN’S PRISON. What kind of sick fuck puts a women in

a men’s prison? When the incident was brought to the media’s attention they used

her birth name and the incorrect pronouns. Paul Walsh referred to her using

masculine pronouns or as “Admitted Killer”.

Skarbek 4

People think it is okay to humiliate Trans* people through the use of media, because

they see us as “fake”, as if we are deceiving them.  You probably don’t know how

hurtful or embarrassing it is to be mis-gendered, to be purposefully called by the

improper pronouns. There are many documentaries which bring to light the

discrimination that many trans* individuals face daily, there is proof of the prejudice


In the documentary I’m Not Les the discrimination that Sherri (Les) faces

throughout her life. She was abused by her father for not being “normal”, was

constantly ostracized and bullied by her peers, and as a adult she was fired

for being biologically born a man. She went to the bank to apply for a loan for sex

reassignment surgery, she received “bottom” surgery and “top” surgery in Thailand.

But even after the surgeries she was still afraid. This fear kept her from doing what

she loved best, dancing. She dropped square dancing off and on, but soon found her

courage. Shortly after she met Sonny. He was raised traditionally and spent time in

the military, there he was taught to hate gays. Once Sonny heard the rumors that

Sherri was born a man, he walked out on her. He would no longer look her in the

eye, or talk to her. Many trans* individuals face the fear of losing someone they care

about just because they were born a different gender. I face this fear every day, it is

terrifying if I am put in the situation where I have to tell a friend I’m trans*, most of

the time I chicken out. I believe that this stigma on trans* individuals stems from the

media. Looking back in history the stigma towards Trans* individuals was almost

nonexistent (until Christianity started their conquest). Many held seats of power;

they were priests and priestesses, advisors, or sages.

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In Albania if a virgin (woman) swears before 12 witnesses she is recognized as a

man and carries out duties traditionally belonging to men, she may also marry.

This practice still continues in modern Albania, although stays primarily in the

countryside.  In Greece MTF priestesses served Artimis, with stories depicting

gender-bending heroes ( Unfortunately, the violence against

Trans* and non-conforming individuals is not a new phenomenon, and in “1513

conquistador Vasco Nunez de Balboa discovered what he claimed was a colony of

cross-dressing males in present day Panama and slaughtered them” (

Where does this hatred and animosity come from? Does it sprout from

Christianity? The you may question why I would blame the media…  While the US

claims separation of State and Church I feel that the boundary line is smudging. If

feel that we are allowing religion to influence broadcasting, bills, and even the image

of presidency. Is Obama really Christian? Or does he too fear religion? Everything is

connected, while not every one is constantly exposed to religion, one constant is the

media. If a gay man is constantly viewed as extremely flamboyant society quietly

takes note. If a trans* person is broadcasted as a freak, while unconscious the note is

still being taken. Society dictates how we act, perceive ourselves, and what roles we

assume.  For example, in action movies and TV shows Russians are often portrayed

as communist villains, or mafia. And our source of societal education comes from the

media. By changing how our media represents different groups we can change the

out come. Prejudice and intolerance could potentially be a thing of the past. But until

the change is made we will continue to live in fear. The fear of being rejected,

Skarbek 6

ostracized, mistreated, and assaulted. Every time I attempt to use the men’s

restroom I am always on high alert. Any one of those men could lash out. I can see it

in their eyes.  I am so tired of being on guard. My biggest fear is that I may end up

like CeCe, in prison for defending myself. We are not a free country, so many of us

are still discriminated against. We are no better than Russia… there are still states

who hold similar laws.


Works cited:



I’m Not Les




When I started thinking about all of the things that I identify with one stuck out in particular: being a woman. Women can have many identities based on what they believe they are or by what defines them, but at the core of all of those identities, they are faced with the larger challenge of being a women. Historically, women have always been looked at as the second sex. They have never had the same opportunities or rights as men and have been constantly objectified by the media and advertising. Popular culture, media, and advertisements have a very large impact on how we see and feel about things in our life. We are surrounded by advertisements in every aspect of our lives. We are exposed to the objectification of women on the tv, internet, apps, magazines, and news. This exposure helps to define and affects the way in which society, including women, view and treat women and themselves.
In the past, advertising has portrayed women as sex symbols, and housewives, who are dependent on men, unintelligent, and unable to make their own decisions. Although there has been some shifts, to help empower women in the media, this trend still happens today. Women are now being objectified more than ever in advertising. Not only are being used as sexual objects, to grab the attention of men, to help sell a product, but the, big busted, thin, young, blonde is the ideal for all females out there. Advertisements are trying to sell this ideal women as a product that any average women can transform into.
An example of this type of advertising is Yoplait Light commercial. The commercial starts out with a women standing in front of an open fridge looking at a plate of strawberry cheesecake. The women is having an argument in her head that goes something like, “what if I just have one little piece, I’ve been good today, I deserve it. No, what if I have one piece while jogging in place.” This goes on for a minute until a younger, thinner, women comes up and says, “Hmm, strawberry cheesecake, i’ve been thinking about you all day”, and then she grabs a strawberry cheesecake Yoplait Light from the fridge. The first women comments on how she’s lost weight, the second women thanks her and walks away. The first women then grabs the yogurt and shuts the fridge in a hurry. This advertisement is basically saying that women have no control over food, and they are using the thin women as an object to show you what kind of will power you could have and how you could look if you buy that yogurt (Yoplait). Although on the outside this commercial might look like an empowering ad to show women that can have control over their food, it’s really just enforcing the stereotype that women are unable to do things by themselves and that they are only objects.
The media often defines women as dependent on men and unable to do certain things on their own. A perfect example that I found of this is a commercial from the company called True Car. Men and women have always been known to get swindled by car salesmen. Think of the term “greasy/dirty salesman”, it’s a negative term which is often associated with distrust and getting used. True Car is a company that lets you compare the best prices online for a car and lets you print out a barcode for the deal to scan so they know the exact price you want and are willing to pay for. In the commercial only women are acting in it and they are saying lines like “I don’t need to bring a dude” (True Car). That line is pretty insane. It’s a sad realization that even though I look at myself as a strong and independent women, capable of doing things on her own, most women STILL feel that they need this tool in order to be capable of buying a car. It’s saying if you don’t have a man or don’t use their site, you are incapable of getting a good deal on a car. That women wouldn’t be able to get a good deal by themselves or that they are able to do their own research or stand up for themselves. The women go on to say how great and confident it makes them feel, trying to send the message the yes, we women are able to do things alone and handle ourselves. Although I believe the company meant the commercial to be helpful and empowering to women, it did the complete opposite and reinforced the stereotype the men are incapable of doing things or are dependent on men.
As mentioned earlier, women are often looked at as sexual objects in advertisements. Advertisements use female objectification to not only capture the attention of viewers but also portrays the visual power that men still have over women (Lukas, n. d.).


The above advertisement is an example of this power, “The varied dimensions of posture, position of bodies, location of body parts, height and depth of figures, all suggest that women are inferior, and men are superior.” (Lukas, n. d.). Women are often portrayed in a negative and submissive sexual way that can lead men thinking that they are superior to women. Not only that, but it’s shows women that they need to be submissive in order to feel wanted, beautiful, and important. By objectifying women in the media it affects how women see themselves as well as desensitizes men and allows them to separate themselves from women and look at them as objects and not human beings.
It’s obvious that sex sells, for both men and women. Men see women as a sexual object and women feel the need to be that sexual object in order to get the attention they want from men. It makes women feel that her only value is her appearance and sexuality. We can’t open our eyes without seeing an ad that objectifies women or makes women seem like the second class and dependent on men. As a women I am faced with this constant pressure to look or be a certain way and constant obstacles that I’m faced with in my every day life. Even if we don’t mean to compare ourselves to these unreal ads, they are surrounding us, they basically become our false sense of reality. These advertisements set a standard for women that are almost impossible to meet. Yet, so many women are trying to meet them every single day, even though those women are the actual reality. That is why this is my main identity because it doesn’t matter how I see myself if the world see’s me differently. I can only do so much with my life, I need the corporation and assistance of others in order to be the person I want to be.
Not only can I not live up to my full potential if the world around me is telling me I’m supposed to be a certain way, but it also affects society much deeper than that. Research has been shown that these sexist and objectifying ads can have tremendous affects on the youth and women in this society. “Exposure to sexually objectifying media has been related to greater importance of beauty and appearance in defining an individual’s own self-worth as well as in defining the value of females in general” and “to self-objectification, body shame, appearance anxiety, internalization of cultural standards of beauty, body dissatisfaction, and disordered eating symptoms among predominately White women” (Szymanski). Women to varying degrees internalize this outside view of them and in turns started viewing themselves as objects (Szymanski). This then stops the growth of women and continues them in a downward spiral, allowing themselves to be objectified and even being apart of it.
This internalization doesn’t just happen with sex appeal, it also happens with the other stereotypes of being dependent, unintelligent, and unable as well. When women see themselves in advertisements they begin to believe that the ads are actually reality and start making their choices and actions based on how these other women are acting. It brings up the issues of the women who are actually acting in these “empowering” commercials or posing in the ads. They might just be doing it because they are a starving actor, or wish to get known, or maybe they really believe in the product, which is the worst of all. Whatever their reasoning for being apart of these commercials it is just again showing the world that it is ok because women are only objects or they are unintelligent and don’t know any better.
I don’t think that all of these advertising agencies or companies who put out the “empowering” commercials fully realize the affect that they are having on society. Or maybe they do, and that makes them even more evil. But more and more companies are beginning to see that affect and trying to make a difference and change in the way that women see themselves and the way that society treats them. Dove is leading the way in this change with their “Real Beauty” campaign. They have released many videos and commercials that help show the tools and tricks used to make these average women look like the ideal women in ads and advertising and to help women realize their actual, real beauty.. Their “Evolution” video has over 17 million views on youtube. It show’s a very average looking women getting transformed with make up, hair styling, and photoshop tools to become this “ideal women” for a make up billboard (Dove Evolution). It shows people that these things can complete change the way a women looks and what we see in ads isn’t real. The ad ends with a line that says, “No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted” (Dove Evolution). They are absolutely right.
Dove also has a video called “Real Beauty Sketches” that is only 11 months old and has over 62 million views on youtube (Real Beauty). This ad starts by showing women of different ages and races describing how they look to a professional sketch artist. They skip around to show a stranger, that had just met this person moments before in a waiting room, also describing this other person to the sketch artist. At the end the women are shown the picture that they described and the picture that the stranger described and with each women, the strangers description was more accurate and much more beautiful than the women who described themselves (Real Beauty). Although there is some controversy with both of these videos because the women shown are still considered above average looking, thin, and mostly young. The message that they are trying to spread is one that needs to be heard. Every women needs that stranger describing the picture of her, showing her that she is more beautiful than she actually thinks, because of the awful self images that the media has created.
The media has played a huge part in how society see’s women, and although women have come so far, they still have a long ways to go. In a perfect world women would step above these stereotypes and actually become empowered and subjects, rather than objects, but that’s a hard thing to do. This world isn’t perfect and we are social creatures that need the approval of others. I think that this is the time for change for women in the media, but it’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of realization, and a lot dedication from every women out there. Because in the end, the women are also falling into this trap of self objectification and self doubt, and they are the only ones who can lift themselves out.
Work cited

“Dove Real Beauty Sketches.” YouTube. YouTube, 14 Apr. 2013. Web. 09 Mar. 2014. <;.

Lukas, S. A. (n. d.). The gender ads projects: Men in control. Retrieved March 9, 2013 from,

Pipper, Tim. “Dove Evolution.” YouTube. YouTube, 06 Oct. 2006. Web. 09 Mar. 2014. <;.

Szymanski, D. M., L. B. Moffitt, and E. R. Carr. “Sexual Objectification of Women: Advances to Theory and Research 1 7.” The Counseling Psychologist 39.1 (2010): 6-38. Print.

“ | A Better Way.” YouTube. YouTube, 01 Mar. 2013. Web. 18 Feb. 2014. <;.

Yoplait Commercial. Yoplait Commercial. Youtube, 3 July 2010. Web. 27 Feb. 2014. <;.

the 1%

Alaine Valdez




The 1%



Hair plays a big part in everyones identity. From being bald to blond there are constantly stereotypes and associations connected to this spot on the top of our heads. My focus is on the rarest of natural colors, the redhead! Apparently we make up just 1% of the entire population. Although there are many shades of this color it always seems to get noticed and stand out. Much like a traffic cone the attention to this hair color comes with a lot of stigmas and outlandish ideas of how the person under the hair will behave. Things like sexy and hot tempered to evil or weird. Even a very popular theme that gingers are soulless have all been associated with this hair color. Our popular culture and media have taken this identity and transformed it into so much more.

In movies like Devils Advocate the red haired woman plays an evil vixen, a spawn of the devil. She uses sex appeal to manipulate peoples lives and seems to get happiness and pleasure out of all of it. This evil theme associated with red hair has traveled through out history as well. Things from a symbol of witchcraft to Judas “betrayer of Jesus”(Best) both frequently are portrayed as redheads and caries a negative taboo in our culture. In Hocus Pocus Winifred the witch sister with bright red hair was considered the ugly and worst sister. Even the way she talked was creepier then the others. Another big example of this evil theme associated with red hair is Chucky. He is best known for his bright orange hair as well as his demonic lifestyle.

Another very popular idea about red heads is the statement made by South Park, “gingers have no soul”. This is something that I know every kid and young adult with red hair in America has been told. What started out as just another episode idea has morphed through out our pop culture. Other shows like Glee build off of this idea, as well as thousands of you tube videos both fighting and contributing to this idea of gingers have no soul. One in particular with millions of views appeared on the Tosh show as a video redemption. Here his video of trying to protest against the bullying that has came from that episode of South Park is completely mocked. Proving that in the end gingers are an easy target and our mainstream media supports this idea all over the place.

Having not seen the Gingers Kids episode of South Park since it probably aired years ago I watched it again. It was almost like watching old Disney movies where I was shocked by some of the things that were being said. In this episode a Doctor even suggested putting down a perfectly healthy kid because he was a ginger. If it was based instead on the color of his skin and not just on the color of his hair this episode probably would not have been made and definitely be considered horribly racist. It also would not have developed such a huge following carrying on this prejudice. This episode from beginning to end sends out the idea that gingers are not really people and should not be treated the same. All the parents of the “gingers” were actually disturbed by the idea that their kid has red hair. It makes me sad that this episode has gotten as much attention as it has for being humorous. I can take it as a joke but when kids see this or even worse bullies see this episode it just gives them more ammunition to make this group feel bad based solely off of physical appearance.

Another common association that comes with red heads is the fiery, sexy concept that has been shown in tons of movies and shows. One I grew up to was Jessica Rabbit from the cartoon movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Even though she was a cartoon character she was still viewed as a sex symbol even in current times. Everything from her curves and the slit in her dress, to the sound of her voice screamed sexy. Which seams a little strange for a children’s movie, but definitely goes along with this popular theme. An idea that has continued to be expressed in current popular culture with shows like Mad Men. Joan plays the role of a voluptuous red haired secretary in the show. In the office she is the desire of everyone. The men all want her and the women inspire to be more like her. Things like fiery are often used to describe her in efforts to relate her personality to her hair. In the show she sticks to another common role associated with her sexy looks an affair with a married man. She is the other woman and the lust of her boss. A vixen is another idea we have connected to red hair. One possible reason for this association is the idea of Lilith having red hair passing off her sexual defiance ways all with that color(Best).

Through all of the stigmas and prejudice that have come to light in our present day pop culture another thing that has also become popular. A unity of all red heads. In an effort to support and encourage others through out the world. Even in Portland last summer they attempted to set a world record for most red heads in Pioneer Square. This idea formed in Europe where real problems of “gingerism” have been occurring to spread the word of equality for all hair colors. Its seems that in our current society we would be over discrimination based on physical appearance but clearly many people around the world are still facing problems of prejudice in their daily lives.

Overall times are changing and so are stereotypes. We live in a world where everyone   has predisposed opinions and ideas on everything. Red hair can symbolize attractive traits as well as some of the worse. One thing that will hopefully change is support and love for everyone no matter the color of their skin or hair. Its such a meaningless characteristic that no one can change, but sadly since its something you see first it also has made it an easy joke.



Works Cited



Best, Amy. Druann, Maria Heckert. Ugly Duckling to Swan: Labeling Theory and the Stigmatization of Red Hair. JAI Press Inc.


The Devils Advocate. Dir Taylor Hackford, Warner Bros. Pictures, 1997. Connie Nielsen.


“Ginger Kids.” South Park. Comedy Central. November 9, 2005. Bette Midler.


Hocus Pocus. Dir Kenny Ortega, Walt Disney Pictures,


Mad Men. AMC. July 19, 2007-present. Christina Hendricks


Overqualified and underemployed


“Overqualified and underemployed 

Carly Hicks

Popular Culture: Looking In The Mirror Essay


For many, the harsh transition from university life to the real world can be an overwhelming and sometimes disappointing adventure. All too fast, the glamorous lifestyle that we imagined for ourselves is met with the realization that our generation is being faced with obstacles and problems that generations before us never imagined. Some have found the rewards plentiful from their hard work, dedication and persistence, while other who try just as hard and sometimes harder, have not been received with as much luck. Until recently, media consistently portrayed a glamorous and carefree lifestyle associated with university life and life after. And while shows like that with a fairy tale glow to them are still relevant, I’m pleased that shows are emerging that reflect the struggles that are relevant in real life. The younger generation, and the people currently struggling with the expectations set for them need to understand that the media has set unrealistic stereotypes.

First, I think it is important to review examples in media that glorify some expectations for college and post college students in regards to job opportunities. In the TV show Greek which aired on ABC Family; it is easy to notice a clear class divide between the people who are born into wealth and opportunity, those who have to work for their success, and the few who are ‘slackers’ or wanderers just getting by. In this show, there is a character named Evan who is son of a wealthy and widely known man in town. Other characters judge him for that sometimes, and eventually he cuts ties with his father to try to make it on his own and make his own decisions in life. That puts him in about the same realm as Casey, the main character. They are both in sororities/fraternities and it feels like all of their career opportunities just fall into their laps because of that. It gives a confused feeling that you don’t have to work too hard to get your ideal career, if you just attend university and surround yourself with other wealth. The other character, Cappie, is a college wanderer, a sort of slacker who wanders through college with no particular direction. His exploring of every degree and his pursuit to stay in the college lifestyle is seen as a negative and he almost loses relationships because of it.

Overall, this show perpetuates the idea that minimum wage jobs are of a lower class, than the internships and careers that some of the other characters land. But either way, all of those opportunities, good or bad, is a ‘result’ of them being in college and the opportunities being their ‘right’. One of the sorority sisters at one point says: “Fate is for poor people. Otherwise we wouldn’t have a state lottery.” Her character, and many others perpetuate the idea of a class divide of opportunities within college, and out. It seems like now in order to have a leg up on the competition, you need a master’s degree in your field of study. Whereas before, a college degree was plenty to have under your belt going into the work force.

Another show that focuses more directly on the contrast between ‘types’ of characters trying to make there way financially is the TV series “Don’t trust the B”.  The premise of this piece of media is based on June, a hard working type A who has just moved to New York to pursue her career dreams. She is met by her roommate, Chloe, a scam artist who tends to use less than legit antics to pay her rent. Through the whole of this show, Chloe is constantly trying to break June down and get her to go with the flow. June is devastated though when she cannot find a high paying job that she and her parents spent their whole life savings on getting her through college for. Instead she must work at a local coffee shop, which is seen as grueling and beneath her. These characters, while nicely contrasting and meshing two stereotypes, are in there own ways also perpetuating said stereotypes. It is made very obvious the negative connotations associated with being underemployed. It is estimated that “The U.S. Department of Labor shares that nearly half of working college graduates are “underemployed” (Forbes)”.

June may be the main character, but she can come off as boring and rigid. Her persistent manner seems frigid, yet she is scrutinized for doing what it takes to reach her goals just because she is working a minimum wage job. One of the characters that are a friend to Chloe’s rich best friend confronted her saying:  “Because in the past four years, you’ve borrowed… over $20,000 from James. Dinners, shopping sprees. And I’m not even counting James’ stunt double you ‘lost’.” Little inputs like this really poke fun at Chloe’s laid back financial attitude. Her manipulative and scheming ways are usually seen as endearing and successful. Of course, this is a comedy television series and she is definitely the comedic relief. But its subtle stereotypes like these characters, that when juxtaposed, highlight the expectations and judgments associated with being underemployed.

As a college student myself, media reflections are what I grew up to think university life would be like. I expected lots of partying and social life and when I graduated, I expected a job and a career to just appear. If examples of real life struggles like “don’t trust the B” were made when I was still in high school, it might have given me a more realistic idea of what to expect. Shows and media are a little slow to reflect the common struggles of the time, so it can be expected that shows like that are a little late to the metaphorical media party. With the popularity growing of shows with more realistic expectations, I hope that the negative connotation with minimum and entry level jobs as a means to achieve your ultimate goal can be erased. Some people are fortunate enough to have opportunities presented to them simply from knowing connections or being in the family that they are in regardless of work ethic. Some people work hard and receive jobs that they worked towards. And some people work hard and take all the steps they are supposed to, but the opportunity they want are never presented to them. There is no right or wrong way; you just have to do what feels right. Life is a gamble, and in the words of Chloe, You have to walk away from the past in slow motion as it explodes behind you like in a John movie.”



Caprino, Cathy. “How Millennials Can Better Prepare For Today’s Workforce: 10 Critical Steps.” Forbes. Feb. 22nd, Web. 10 Mar. 2014. 

“Greek.” IMDb., n.d. Web. Mar 1st. 2014.


Martial Arts for the win!

            The abundance of mass media in our society has a strong influence on how we judge the people we encounter. When meeting someone for the first time, people look for an identity. In other words, they look for an easy way to recognize who a person is, and what they represent. Although everyone carries a certain individuality to themselves, it’s become almost instinctive for people to categorize each other based on archetypes found in popular culture. Since the Martial Arts movie rush during the 1970s and on, famous actors such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li have promoted, and popularized Asian Martial Arts throughout America. While these films introduced a foreign, and distinctive style of art to the US, they also contributed to stereotyping and prejudiced thinking of Asian Americans and Martial Artists in particular. By analyzing popular and revolutionary films such as Karate Kid (1984), Karate Kid (2010), and The Forbidden Kingdom (2008), connections can be drawn between the messages found in these films, and how people have expressed these ideas towards my identity as an Asian American Martial Artist.

When someone mentions Martial Arts, who’s the first person that comes to mind? Chances are, most people would pick an actor out of the most recent Martial Arts movie they’ve seen, or one of the Martial Arts film giants like Bruce, Jackie, or Jet. While it’s understandable that a majority of people don’t prioritize having any knowledge about Martial Arts, it’s a problem that movies have become one of the only ways to spread knowledge to a large audience. Movies can be captivating, exciting, and influential, but can also be misleading through the messages they send. This can lead people to believe real people follow these inaccurate portrayals found in film. One way that films convey misleading information is through characterization.

In the film Karate Kid (1984) there is a character named Mr. Miyagi, who is a Japanese American Martial Artist, and the teacher of an American teenager named Daniel. Through various interviews off screen, it’s evident that the actor of Mr. Miyagi speaks with a perfect American English accent (1), but the film makers decided to give Mr. Miyagi a thick Japanese accent, coupled with the frequent use of deep and elegant figures of speech.  The characteristics that made him more “Asian” were emphasized through his speech and manners. Since Mr. Miyagi was the expert Martial Artist in the movie, this could lead viewers to believe that people with more Asian characteristics are also more skilled in Martial Arts. In my own life, throughout my experiences in Middle school and High school, many people have assumed I do Martial Arts without getting to know me, simply because I’m Asian American. I’ve heard things like “show me your Kung Fu moves” countless times.

.The most apparent example of this is the sense of mysticism and ambiguity represented in particularly Asian Martial Artists. Mr. Miyagi was able to heal Daniel’s injured leg at the tournament after simply clasping his hands together and humming. The scene cuts away, and the rest is left for the viewer to decide what happens. Comparatively, in Karate Kid 2010, Dre injures himself a similar fashion, and has Mr. Han miraculously heal him using some jars and fire. There was no change between the portrayal in 1984 and 2010, with the exception of some special effects. Even after the near 30 year gap in time, the film makers chose to keep this scene in order to maintain the elaborate and spiritualistic aspect of Martial Arts. No matter what they did to make Martial Arts more relatable in the US, they had to preserve the exotic theme, which contributed to much of its appeal. This representation can be detrimental to the identity of Asian Martial Arts because it allows the viewers to make an assumptions during ambiguous moments. Whatever pops into their head is most likely what they assume happens in the real world.

While some aspects in each film have been kept the same, there is a contrast between them that is worth noting. As a fly buzzes around Mr. Miyagi, he uses a pair of chopsticks to catch the fly. This soon evolves into one of the most widely known movie scenes in the Martial Arts world, as cartoons, and even comic books begin incorporating the chopstick scene into their repertoire. In Karate Kid (2010), the complete opposite happens. Mr. Han breaks the cliché and nostalgia of the previous movie by simply killing the fly with a fly swatter. The discrepancies made between these scenes are important because they emphasizes that not all Martial Artists do everything one way. This provides a contrast to one of the many Martial Arts clichés.

Growing up, I’ve experienced two main portrayals of Martial Artists coming from the people I’ve interacted with. Many people have shown respect towards my identity as a Martial Artist, but there have been those who act unimpressed, and sometimes ridicule my involvement in Martial Arts. Different people can extract completely different messages from the same Martial Arts film. For instance, consider the speed in which the main characters from the Karate Kid films and The Forbidden Kingdom progress in their development. In all three films, the main character learns seemingly advanced techniques within a matter of minutes. This unrealistic display of training time gives the wrong message to the viewers. Learning Martial Arts is a lifelong journey filled with discipline, and hard work. Jackie Chan’s character from The Forbidden Kingdom states,

“Kung Fu: Hard work over time to accomplish skill. A painter can have Kung Fu, or the Butcher, who cuts meat everyday with such skill. His knife never touches bone”. (2)

When the audience sees how easy is it for the main character to master Martial Arts, they are split between two interpretations. Either they become inspired, or they mock the film since it seems spoon fed and fake. They begin to look at Martial Arts as a joke because what they’ve seen in films. For example, in Karate Kid (2010) Dre starts his training by taking off his jacket and putting it back on repeatedly in order to cement discipline. By the time Dre attends the tournament, there is almost no footage of his real training, and yet he miraculously does a one footed back flip kick to win. To many viewers, this seems farfetched, phony, and absurd. Through what they see in popular film, viewers like these disrespect Martial Arts and disregard the actual time and work needed to master Martial Arts. I remember being picked on in the 3rd grade because I told people I knew Martial Arts. Kids would ridicule me because they didn’t take Martial Arts seriously. This idea originally stemmed from the unrealistic, and sometimes blasphemous portrayals of Martial Artists in film. In reality, Martial Artists like myself dedicate many years of their lives to their physical and mental training. Great skill in Martial Arts should be portrayed as something worth achieving, where one sacrifices time and effort to attain it.

While the Karate Kid movies have been ridiculed for spreading such a variety of hurtful stereotypes,  a large emphasis was placed on explaining what Martial Arts teaches, and what it should be used for. All three films show this by pushing themes such as self-control, discipline, and respect. I find these lessons to be homologous to what it means to be a real Martial Artist, and I’m thankful that they were included in these films. If there is one thing people should gain from Martial Arts, it should be that these values that triumph over any fighting technique, no matter how advanced or flashy they may be. This is a core theme that revolves around every Martial Art style, and these films all helped reinforce the basic principles of Martial Arts.

When film makers produce these movies, they surely aren’t trying to degrade the image of Martial Arts in the United States. The way people perceive each movie is what shapes the common portrayals about Martial Artists in our society. Ultimately, the viewer is the one that remembers what they’ve watched, and molds the “ideal Martial Artist” in their head. Hopefully, Martial Arts films that are released in the future will change these perceptions for the better. While Martial Arts films in the past introduced a foreign, and distinctive style of art to the US, they also contributed to stereotyping and prejudiced thinking of Asian Americans and Martial Artists in particular. By analyzing popular and revolutionary films such as Karate Kid (1984), Karate Kid (2010), and The Forbidden Kingdom (2008), connections were drawn between the messages found in these films, and how people have expressed these ideas towards my identity as an Asian American Martial Artist.



(1) Mr. Miyagi Interview regarding Karate Kid <;

(2) The Forbidden Kingdom. Directed by Rob Minkoff. 2008.

(3) Jackie Chan Forbidden Kingdom Interview. <;

(4) The Karate Kid. Directed by John G. Avildsen. 1984.

(5) The Karate Kid. Directed by Harald Zwart. 2010.

The Real Foodies


The Real Foodies.”


Lauren Befus

Popular Culture: Looking In The Mirror Essay

February 23rd 2014


With the upsurge of television cooking programs in the last two decades, a new real life sub culture has evolved. Popular culture has deemed this culture as “foodies.” Seeing as this group has emerged from the increased popularity of cooking programs, the majority of members who identify themselves as foodies say that their love of food and of cooking emerged from these television shows. As is typical of our society, we have seen a new “fad” or “trend” come forth and have focused purely on the strange outliers or extremists of that community and based our opinions on them. Foodies are largely seen as pretentious, snobby and out of touch with the real world. I consider myself a foodie and I am not any of those previously stated things.

To understand how foodies are wrongly portrayed in the media and misunderstood in our every day lives, we first have to define what pop culture says a foodie is. To define what a foodie is and to analyze how popular culture can manipulate it into having negative connotations, I’ll present two definitions of the same word. In the dictionary a foodie is defined as “a person keenly interested in food, especially in eating or cooking”. This is a relatively tame description compared to the popular online faux dictionary called Urban Dictionary. Two of Urban Dictionary’s most popular definitions of foodies are “A douchebag who likes food.” and “A fat kid pretentious enough to think up a special word to describe their desperate longing for anything to shove down their face. They’ll often claim to be “food enthusiasts” or to have “refined tastes,” but they’re usually lying”. As any one could tell from these popular sources, the jump from someone who likes food to a so called lying pretentious douche bag is a relatively short one. So who are the people who make up the majority in foodie culture?

Some people would say the vast majority of foodies would be likely to say something like this: “Can I crash on your couch? I just sublet my apartment to have dinner at Persay.” This statement was said in a popular YouTube video entitled “Shit That Foodies Say.” ( I think phrases like this one are what contribute to popular cultures idea of foodies being out of touch or snobs. I do not feel like I can relate at all to this statement and the notion of subletting my apartment to pay for a single meal. This YouTube video is obviously using extreme statements to garner a reaction from it’s viewers. As we know, sensationalistic headlines and statements are often used to attract attention. What I would argue is that this view is completely unrealistic and does not reflect my life or my choices, yet I’m considered a foodie as well. I don’t feel represented whatsoever when I hear these kinds of statements being said about foodies.

Regarding the economic issue surrounding foodies, supposedly most of us spend absurd amounts of money to eat well. This popular myth is for the majority of foodies, simply untrue. There are even books that debunk this myth that we are all spend thrifts.The book called, An Economist Gets Lunch, written by Tyler Cowen who is a leading economist, is a great example.



You can be on a budget and also make delicious, interesting and creative food choices.


The backlash was swift against this generally overwhelmingly positive force. A movement of mindful nutrition, joy in simple food and a movement that promotes passionate debate about food. I believe that the backlash against people who are interested and thrilled with food is a typical knee jerk reaction to anything popular that comes to the foreground of society’s conscious. From past experiences with trends or things that become popular very quickly, for every 5 people who like something and stay silent, you’re going to have one person vehemently apposed to it for a multitude of reasons. One of these people is Steven Poole who wrote an article for the guardian’s online site ( ). According to Mr. Poole, “ Western industrial civilization is eating itself stupid. You can’t watch cooking on TV or in front of your face, you can at least read about it. Vast swaths of the internet have been taken over by food bloggers who post photographs of what they have eaten from an edgy street stall or at an aspirational restaurant, and compose endlessly scrollable pseudo-erotic paeans to its stimulating effects.” I would not argue with that statement and in fact, I agree with the latter part. My argument is simply: so what? In this age of reality television, rapid consumerism and many empty hobbies that are without a positive outcome, why are we attacking something that helps our national economy, promotes local food consumption and glorifies people who are inventive and hard working?


I also observed popular culture subconsciously teaching us to self shame ourselves as foodies. There are many backhanded and passive aggressive phrases that are used in day to day life concerning foodies. One popular article from the New Yorker interviewed a woman who states this self blaming attitude accurately: “But it’s like when my boss says, ‘Oh, you’re such a foodie.’ I’m like, Oh God. When I hear the word foodie, I think of Yelp. I don’t want to be lumped in with Yelp.” This stereotyping and generalization is undoubtedly subconsciously shaming to those who call themselves foodies.

With all of the negativity surrounding foodie culture, I am still proud to say that I am one. Firstly because I know that I have not gained a so called snob attitude since fully realizing my love of food and cooking. Secondly because it has been nothing but a positive force in my life. I use cooking and food as an outlet, a time of mediation for myself. I get excited thinking about what I could make and whom I could serve it to. In my mind, cooking is just another way for me to nonverbally show someone how much I care for them. Unlike many popular portrayals of foodies, my world does not revolve around food but my life is made much better by it. Many, like Steven Poole, negatively liken foodie culture or the new culinary culture to an art form. I feel like it absolutely is. I’m not ashamed to say that food and cooking are the only ways I feel able to make something that is metaphorically full of emotion. I feel like the time I use to make a meal and the amount of effort I put into it, is directly correlated to how great I want the person I served it to to feel. I can neither paint, draw or write as well as I can create a meal and that meal has the same amount of inspiration and thought behind it that my writing would have. Why is popular culture condemning something that only a rare few people go to extremes on? I liken that statement to people’s attitudes towards tattoo’s or piercings for example. Many have taken both to extremes yet the vast majority of people who have tattoo’s or piercings are moderate, normal people. I hypothesis this is because the trend is a relatively new one and still forming it’s social identity.

In conclusion, I would say that I’ve learned from my own experiences that it’s incredibly important to read in between the lines of fads or trends. Are we as a society just looking at the outliers of a cultural trend because they attract the most attention? From my research on how foodies are treated in popular culture articles, videos and blogs I would say that overall, society as a whole, has not made the effort to delve deeper into the majority of moderate, thrifty and un-self absorbed foodies that make up the majority of the group. I would also state that it is a good thing that food is replacing other outdated art forms and that it gives another type of person the ability to be creative. I consider myself one of these people and wish I could see myself more accurately portrayed in popular culture.


Cowen, Tyler. An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies. New York: Penguin, 2013. Print.

Idov, Michael. “New York Magazine.” N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2014. <>.

Poole, Steven. “Let’s Start the Foodie Backlash.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 29 Sept. 2012. Web. 10 Mar. 2014. <;.

“Shit Foodies Say.” YouTube. YouTube, 21 Feb. 2012. Web. 10 Mar. 2014. <;.


Stephanie Hale

Pop Culture

23 February 2014

Daneen Bergland

            The origin of kawaii arises in Japan around 1914 by Yumejji Takehisa exhibiting cute characters and designs targeted toward female consumers (Kinsella, pg.329). Kawaii translates into “cute.” Takehisa aimed numerous goods toward schoolgirls which we refer to as fancy goods. Many people asked to copyright his ideas of cuteness designs and began to refer to them as kawaii. In the 1970’s, the emergence of modern kawaii rises through Japanese teenagers, mainly women through informal “cute” styles of writing by decorating their paper with happy faces and hearts. This form of writing was banned in schools and unapproved by adults interpreted as a sign of rebellion. In the 1980s kawaii spiked ultimate popularity dominating Japanese popular culture through many young people using kawaii as a way to rebel against adulthood. Adult’s roles present a restraint to freedom of expression with strict societal expectations.           

             Kawaii is a youthful identity utilized as a mechanism to escape the loss of freedom. Instead of rebelling through violence or sexuality as in the West, kawaii utilizes rebellious acts by cherishing the spirit of childhood. To retain youth, is to be free. This form of rebellion promotes independent style and behavior that misconstrues as immature due to its lack of conforming features such as fixed gender appeal. When we think of the word rebellion in the west, media molds this through violence, using examples of gangs, drug dealers, or criminals. Sex appeal is a high form of rebellion that women use to differentiate and highlight the meaning of beauty. However, kawaii is an evolving act of rebellion that encounters women utilizing “cute” as a way to create an individualistic identity.         

            Hale 2

            I think that kawaii is a reminder of youth creativity that society forces adults to lose. However, kawaii differentiates into various degrees ranging from kimo kawaii (creepy cute), guro kawaii (grotesque cute), harajuku kawaii (punk cute) to kawaii (cute) and is not gender focused. The key differences of the ranges of kawaii are explicitly balancing scary and punk features with cute, but all versions utilize the identical theme of rebellion against mainstream designers. The mass consumerism of kawaii, in particular for women, gains power and freedom from traditional normative values (Wilcox p.13). Inspiration arises from recycling the clothes in the closet but generating a new outfit while creating a statement about alternative beauty.

            I identify with kawaii because it shapes a unique form of rebellion through cuteness. It does not focus on attempting to be sexy; the point is to bend the line of adorable through balancing coloration, patterns of design, and trying new combinations of clothes by taking a risk. Fashion here in the United States focuses on sexy, thin, tall women advertising designer’s clothes suggesting us to wear the trend of the season (Kinsella, pg.229). Cute demonstrates a symbol of immaturity in the West; however, kawaii utilizes all spectrums of time in reference to fashion and attitude (Kinsella, pg.10). It is a nonjudgmental way of reflecting youth and individuality. 

            Kawaii falsely comes across to people as dismembering acts of responsibility and as disastrous style because women are unafraid to experiment with cute complexes. It is a misunderstood style. I wore glittered eye shadow and make up, with a paisley shirt, layered black skirt, with wedges, and purple fish earrings out with friends walking in down town Portland. A woman critiqued my style as “blown out of proportion,” but I walked by her with confidence and smiled. Kawaii unravels into a revolution of rebellious fashion that is spreading word across the world. Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Madonna are a few westernized kawaii icons that are popular in the media. This identity allows individualism to seep through and blend the lines and roles of rebellion through cute.  

            Western culture embodies the primary values of leadership abilities, ambitiousness, and strength linked to positive characteristics such as self-efficacy (Wilcox pg.13). Kawaii in the view of westerners puts young women at risk of portraying as weak people. Western gender norms represent men as masculine and women as feminine. There is a specific behavioral and physical difference of the components of the socially constructed concept of gender. Men only wear baggy clothes, they are muscular, and show no emotion. The expectation for women is to manicure their physique, be thin, and sexy. However, kawaii in Japanese culture is androgynous (Kinsella, pg.230). Men and women are able to wear any color, design, or style without fear of judgment.            

            In the 1980’s, the actress and pop singer Seiko Matsuda is credited toward the popularity of kawaii. Her career began at the age of 16 winning the regional Sony talent show, but her father banned her from singing at the finals. However, Matsuda continued to train vocally with Sony. Matsuda’s image involved the shy girl who used this to her advantage to charm audiences with her childish cuteness. Matsuda wore clothing such as neon skirts with plush furry shoulders. Young females want to emulate Matsuda’s representation of unconformity (Okazaki, pg.12). Matsuda’s private life received more attention than her records. Her marriage with pop star Hiromi Go ended shortly after his failed attempt to force Matsuda to quit her career. Matsuda divorced her husband and pursued an edgier look and career, which women found fascinating and compelling.

            In her 1988 concert in Tokyo performing “Strawberry Time,” represents her unique form of rebellion. Her child like behavior demonstrates unconscious innocence (Kinsella, pg. 6). Her wardrobe consisted of an intensified light pink jumpsuit that is puffed out symbolically like a strawberry. The silver streaks in her hair are unconventional along with her silver buttons draped along her outfit. Matsuda’s identity of kawaii engulfs the nostalgia of childhood simplicity, happiness, and emotional warmth (Okazaki, pg10). Matsuda’s cute is a backlash against the restraints of social responsibility of adulthood by romanticizing youth behavior.

            The lyrics of her hit single “Strawberry Time,” focuses on luring in her audience into a utopia of peaceful and youthful eternity. Matsuda sings, “All the people that pass by are filled with happiness. Kaleidoscope world is unfolding, flower fairies with pretty eyes, welcome to strawberry land.” Matsuda’s message is a passive suggestion rebelling against a world that fills with discontent, and the lyrics and unconventional outfits lure in her audience. Toward the end of the song, she begins to specify that, “like the child turning the pages of a picture book” the worries and tears that burden our life disappear when we remember the days of youth. The passive language and youthful remembrance of a world without greed and hatred revives memories of contentment. 

             Kyrary Pamyu Pamyu is 20-year-old j-pop musician that is slowly integrating herself into western pop culture through embodying kimo and guro kawaii. This icon began as a raucous high school student at the age of 16. Pamyu grew up in a strict environment where her parents regulated early curfews, cell phone access, and were critical toward her fashion sense. When Pamyu left her house, her mother threw away her “rebellious” and outrageous clothing. On Sundays, Pamyu visited the streets of Tokyo in her homemade wild and colorful outfits and accessories. A photographer of the popular J-fashion magazine KERA admired her originality and advertised Pamyu’s picture in the fall of 2009 as the ultimate individual (Okazaki, pg10). After becoming a prominent kawaii model she furthered her interest into music and became a j-pop icon in 2011.

            Pamyu is responsible for strange fads such as eyeball fashion and emphasizing makeup to enlarge eyes. In the Japanese Times, Patrick Michel interviews Pamyu and states, “my concept is that scary things become traumatic with their cuteness to be memorable and creative, I encourage people to dress and behave differently.” She creates her own costumes through her personal inspiration of kawaii.

            In 2011, Pamyu created her first popular hit “Pon Pon Pon” leading to reports on MTV and the Huffington Post of her eccentric behaviors and manifestations related to kawaii. The music video exhibits qualities and behavior of women rebelling against the traditional values of Japanese culture through freedom of expression. Through the music video, she exemplifies independence through her unique clothing that also creates a burning image. With the identity of kimo and guro kawaii, there is independence through rebellion. Her exotic outfit catches the eye with the mixture of eyeballs and brains lingering masks the neon coloration and plush toys. Paymu does not use “sexy” as the fashion trend, but creates unique outfits everyday. The music video represents a revolution toward the preservation of youth. It unleashes creativity and societal roles through the restriction of age (Okazaki, pg.8).

            In the West, there is a focus on differentiating ourselves by creates an edgier sex appeal or becoming dangerous or aggressive (Kinsella, pg.230). I love how there are other artists and individuals who focus on a different technique to represent themselves unconventionally through a sweet attitude and style that I can relate to. Foremost, I think that the identity of kawaii is misunderstood and disapproved because it portrays blown out immaturity. MTV posted on Pyamu’s video that they had no idea what to make of her video (Wender). The identity misconstrues the incapability of meeting responsibility because of the passivity toward meeting a societal norm of attitude conformance (Wender). However, it encases a different route of rebellion, being passive through cuteness and recalling youth. This creates an unconventional form of satisfaction. Artists such as Lady Gaga and Pyamu discuss eccentric styles and attitudes that equally influence each other (Wender). Pamyu is a constant remembrance in my life that rebelling takes different forms. I am not as wild as this j-pop artist, but I think that my originality in style and ideology to resist mainstream appearance exists. I wear unique clothing similar to Kyrary Pyamu Pyamu, but I differ in the extent of wildness. I never found indulgence in rebelling in a manner of representing myself through sex appeal or aggression, but being kawaii is a way to remember the benefits of youth. It is compelling to bend the limits of fashion by using cute to escape the conformation of strict societal norms.

            Shaochi Aoki is the publisher of the Japanese fashion magazine FRUiTS established in 1997. The magazine focuses on Harajuku Kawaii that is a mixture of punk and cute. Aoki names the magazine FRUiTS to reflect color and freshness of the movement (Wilcox, pg.20). His photographs document the revolutionary emergence of an edgier form of kawaii led by the people in the mid 1990s. Aoki created a simplistic formula of shooting people on the streets of Japan and compiled these photographs into a magazine. A regular person can be featured in FRUiTS, this furthered the inspiration for individualism. Aoki interviews with reporter Jessie Weinder from The New Yorker and states, “I want to see people’s inner thoughts; their personalities come to the surface, their individuality that separates oneself from others.” The cover of FRUiTS magazine in December 2013 establishes individuality through an evolutionary stage of harajuku. The woman’s name is Mikako Guppy and she is 20 years old. Her hair is light purple, with pink and green camo pants, complimented with a red striped shirt. In a short description of her aspirations, she describes that she elaborates on her beauty through the exaggeration of cute, it is mellow, but speaks her mind (Aoki). Her unconventional style is a way to differentiate from another person and is lively in comparison to Western fashion.

            FRUiTS became influential to the west and exposed harajuku kawaii to other countries as a magazine of being able to mix cute back into alternative fashion (Wilcox, pg.16). I idolize these women because they are not afraid to test the limits of cute and represent a different form of beauty.The magazine features short biographies on the individual that Aoki finds important to extrapolating along with the image. This is my favorite section of the magazine; it represents women’s style as an alternative fashion statement.

            Aoki believes that fashion is a form of communication; he is interested in identifying why people express themselves through a certain style (Wilxcox, pg.18). The people in this magazine revolutionize expectations of appearance by withdrawing the line of what is normal. Wearing a hot pink-layered skirt with an eyeball t-shirt, or a bright flowered pattern dress, resists traditional methods of not only fashion, but also actions. It represses the consumerism of mainstream fashion and focuses on personal creativity. Designer clothing is only what people take suggestions from and incorporate minuscule ideas. The fashion of the young and the eccentric radical styles inspires mainstream designers. Freedom in expression of appearance is a rebellious mechanism by staying in contact with youth and utilizing fashion as the time machine. It creates independent choices of consumerism and time spent by utilizing a freedom-seeking attitude through cute to create a unique identity.

            When we reach our twenties, western society asks us to mature and drop the freedom of youth. There is a misconception that kawaii interprets into disconnecting with self-reliability. However, it is about living without gentrified limits and societal expectations. Labeling women who dress kawaii as infantile implies that there is a lack of uniqueness and self-will. I love dressing kawaii and feeling confident by withdrawing from the expectations of how society tells me to appear. Enduring criticism from outsiders is exhausting by labels such as “childish” or “immature” because it is easy for outsiders to demean a group of different people. Kawaii is spreading word slowly throughout fashion magazines and television shows. Kawaii slowly is gaining social acceptance as more people take the time to analyze this. As time progresses I feel that the West will view kawaii as an alternative international movement of individual expression.

Works Cited

Aoki, Shaochi. “Mikako Guppy.” FRUiTS. Dec Feb.2014.

Kinsella, Sharon. “Cuties In Japan.” (1995). 19 Apr. 2005            <;.

Michel, Patrick. “The best Japanese Albums of 2013:Kyrary Pamyu Pamyu.” Japanese Times. 17 Dec 2013: n. page. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. <

Okazaki, Manami. Kawaii! The Culture of Cute. London: Pistel, 2013. 4-25. Print.

Wender, Jessie. “Japanese Street Style.” New Yorker. 3 Apr 2012: n. page. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.

Wilcox ,Clair. Radical Fashion. V&A Publishing. London, 2001.10-23. Worldcat. Web.




Female Millennial’s and How They Are Represented in Television Sitcoms

The Millennial Generation is defined as anybody born between 1980 and 2000, which means that anybody from the age of 14-34 is considered a millennial. This generation is the largest generation, even slightly larger than the “baby-boom” generation which spans from 1946 to 1964. Almost 78 million people were born in the millennial generation, so we have a large influence on all aspects of culture, including social, economic, and political influences. (Noren “Graphic Sociology”) Female millennial’s and millennial’s  in general are viewed upon by older generations as lazy, unmotivated, promiscuous, and classify us for the most part as still dependent on our parents for many things. “According to a national survey, barely one adult in three think that today’s kids, once grown, will make the world a better place.” (Howe 3)  If we truly were all of those things, older generations are partly to blame, they are the ones who raised of us.

But, nonetheless, I can see where they are coming from, especially from some of the recent reality shows on MTV, which is a television network largely targeted towards younger people and millennial’s. But, I don’t think shows like the Jersey Shore and The Real World fairly represent millennial’s, especially females. Snooki, in her Jersey Shore days, is not the reality of how most generation Y females are. In recent years I have started to see shows that are more true to how female millennial’s really are. Shows like 2 Broke Girls, New Girl, and Girls, are starting to get the right idea of how we are and how we think. Older generations like the baby-boom generation, are very one sided when it comes to their opinions of the millennial generation, they look at every negative thing, and they don’t see all of the positives that the millennial generation contribute to society.

Shows like 2 Broke Girls, break down the barriers and really argues against the opinions of older generations. The show is about two young women that are hardworking waitresses who work all the time in order to save up and realize their dream of owning a cupcake shop. Max, one of the lead characters, is the baker of the group, she’s a snarky, sarcastic person, that’s never really known what it’s like to have a lot of money and she doesn’t believe in herself as much as her co-lead Caroline does. Caroline, is a former millionaire that had all her money taken from her, when her dad was charged with fraud and sent to jail. She’s a smart, business minded person, but is naïve when it comes to “the real world”. This show is a sitcom, so there’s a lot of witty banter throughout each episode, but behind that banter, there are underlying things that you can see are true about the characters, and true about female millennial’s in general.

In one of the episodes entitled, “And Hoarder Culture”, they are picking up a side job from waitressing, to earn more money to put towards their cupcake shop savings. In the episode, they are cleaning out a hoarder’s apartment and finding anything they can sell to make more money. This isn’t the only episode where they take up side jobs in order to save more and more. They are always taking side jobs whether it be cleaning a hoarder’s apartment, to being elves in “Santaland”, to being maids for their neighbors cleaning business. This shows how hardworking, independent, and motivated they are to realize their dreams, and they’ll do anything in their power to be successful. Which defies a lot of what older generations think about millennial’s.

The show New Girl is about a 20-something year old’s life living with three men for roommates. Jess the main character, is a teacher that’s super quirky, who knows what she’s doing in life, but has yet to settle down in a traditional household. Her and her roommates explore what it’s like to be independent, to live with the opposite sex, and what it’s like being in a relationship in the 21st century. Older generations, get the idea that the millennial generation is promiscuous because we date a lot more before we settle down then they did. But, I don’t think that should be a negative thing. When you look at the divorce rates, maybe waiting longer than usual to settle down with someone is the smarter way to go. When question the reason why less people are getting married, Alice Walton says, “the benefits of marriage were simply not enough to counter the potential psychological and financial pain of divorce.” (Walton “The Marriage Problem…” Jess throughout the series dates many guys, she explores her options, and she gets hurt on many occasions.

The show breaches the subject that it’s okay to be in your late 20’s and to still have roommates. Older generations tended to settle down around their early 20’s, so when they see that younger generations aren’t doing the same, they view it as promiscuous, and unhealthy in some aspects. I think that older generations have the opinion that women especially should be settling down and starting motherhood. But, it’s healthy to explore your options and not settle for just anybody and its okay to still be figuring things out. When you settle down to quickly, you can feel like you have to give up on a lot of things that you wanted to do with your life, and women should have the same opportunity that men have to explore their options before settling down. New Girl, show’s women especially, that they don’t have to settle and they can live their life how they want. Women shouldn’t be called promiscuous for exploring their options.

The show Girls is also exploring the idea of promiscuousness, and independency. In the very first episode one of the lead characters is being told by her parents that they are no longer supporting her financially, now that it’s been two years since she graduated college. She’s thrown to the wolves in a sense, and she has to figure out how she’s going to survive on her own. She has to learn to be independent in the tough economy, and her choice of careers is not the most thriving. Her and her friends start to live out their twenties “one mistake at a time” according to the HBO summary of the show. The four main characters all have jobs or are going to school. There may be statistics that show that the amount of young people in the workforce has decreased, but statistics have also shown that more and more young adults have chosen to pursue their education. “19.9 million students were enrolled in colleges and universities in 2013, compared to 13.5 million in 1990, 7.9 million in 1970, and 2.7 million in 1949.” (US Census Bureau). A lot of critiques call the show unclassy and misguided. But, it’s an accurate representation of women in their 20’s trying to figure out their lives, and it may have an undertone of feminism throughout the series, that I think highlights a lot of the things that may not “be okay” for women to do or be like. There’s a lot of nudity and sex, that I don’t think older generations are comfortable with seeing. But, it’s the reality of our culture now.

Men have always had the benefit of the doubt, when it comes to being sexual. People don’t look at men and call them promiscuous or slutty. And this show, brings in the reality that women can have large sex drives as well, and they shouldn’t be looked down upon for that. I think sometimes older generations have a tough time accepting that thinking, women should be virgins until they’re married of course! Women have been exploring their sexualities for as long as history can recall, it’s just becoming more and more apparent as time goes on. Slowly, women are becoming more open with themselves and people around them, and it’s time that everyone accepts that. Girls brings in the reality that, it’s not fair nor acceptable for that double-standard to still exist in the 21st century.

All three of these shows argue the very basis of how older generations view female millennial’s and millennial’s in general. They show that young adults can be hardworking and motivated to be successful in their endeavors. That it might take a while and there might be some bumps along the way, but that female millennial’s are capable of being independent and relying on themselves to survive in this world. That they might be what older generations consider to be “promiscuous” but that it’s okay to explore relationships, and not settle down. And they break down double-standards when it comes to females and males. So, older generations who generalize all of the millennial’s to be lazy, dependent, and unmotivated, are not always right. Our generation is capable of doing everything their generations were capable of doing, which let’s face it they made mistakes too, and we might even be more capable then them in some aspects.


Works Cited:

Howe, Neil, William Strauss, and R. J. Matson. Millennials Rising: The next Great Generation. New York, NY: Vintage, 2000. Print.

Noren, Laura. “Graphic Sociology.” Graphic Sociology RSS. Graphic Society, 04 Oct. 2011.Web. 05 Mar. 2014.

US Census Bureau, “After a Recent Upswing, College Enrollment Declines, Census Bureau Reports,”, Sep. 3, 2013

Walton, Alice G. “The Marriage Problem: Why Many Are Choosing Cohabitation Instead.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 07 Feb. 2012. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.


Tennis as a gentlemen’s sport

Cory Lu

Pop culture

Revised draft

Tennis as a gentlemen’s sport

Tennis is often regarded as a gentlemen’s sport. You might ask, “Why?” One reason could be of its origin. The modern game of tennis originated in England in the nineteenth century. It was played only by rich, upper class men, like the kings and nobles of England. These men were sometimes labeled as “gentlemen.” So that could be one reason why tennis is regarded as a gentlemen’s sport. Another reason why is because it isn’t a contact sport. You can’t tackle a guy and slam him into the ground like for football. It does not seem as intense or physical.  But time has passed and things have changed. Male tennis players today, aren’t all exactly very gentlemen-like. But here right now, Roger Federer is one exception for this rule, and he’s known for being a “gentlemen.” The main point is, despite the historic background, tennis players today do not all present a gentlemanly image.

Having won the most grand slams in modern era, Roger Federer could be one of the greatest players of tennis. Having so much accomplishments, you might think he be someone arrogant or cocky, but the fact is, he is the opposite. One example would be where he met a cancer survivor that was a fan of him. ( 1 ) Beatriz Tinoco, battled against cancer from 2011 to 2012, participated in the Make-A-Wish foundation. She told them she wanted to meet Roger Federer. Beatriz got a reply that was a video where Federer invited Beatriz Tinoco and her family to watch the Wimbledon tournament that was held in England. They were flown to England, where the expenses were paid by Federer. Beatriz was able to hit with Federer in a practice session where he was practicing for the major tournament, being invited by Federer himself. She spent a day with her idol, documenting the whole day by posting pictures of Federer and herself on Twitter. Ever since this story went viral, fans of Federer acclaimed him for his generosity and sympathy. He had to take time out of his busy schedule to see a fan, longing to see him. There are not many other top athletes that have done this. This serves as one example of his nice doings.

This tennis star also has a foundation named the Roger Federer Foundation that was founded in 2003. (“Gentleman, charity worker,,” 2012) Its main effort is to give kids living in South Africa an opportunity to play sports and to promote it. Federer also has traveled to Africa and played along with the kids. He also has contributed to disasters such as the 2004 tsunami and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. On his website, it states that 86,400 children are being currently supported by this foundation ( 7 ). Aside from Federer, there are also other tennis players that donate to charities that help disaster reliefs, like Andy Roddick, where he stated he would donate the money he won in the tournament to the area affected by the Sichuan earthquake in 2007. (Kavitha, 2008) In an interview that is on Youtube, Roger Federer is asked what the Rolex watches he own, means to him. One of the Rolexes he brought with him was back from 81, a vintage watch, for his 30th birthday. He says it’s actually gotten for him from his wife, Mirka, with a bit of help from the Rolex company itself. Another watch he liked very much was worn when he won his 15th grand slam at Wimbledon in 2009.

Contrary to the above statements, there are people that think there is a different shade of Federer. In an incident in early 2012, there was supposedly a strike by players to have the tournament prize money to be raised, and while many other players are agreeing, Federer did not say anything about it. From an interview by Rafael Nadal, a Spanish tennis player, said, “It is very easy [for Federer] to say, ‘I am not going to say anything , everything is positive’ and come off as a gentleman and burn the rest.” So Federer did not support his fellow peers for higher tournament prize money, making him stand alone and getting some blame. Federer just thought having a strike is not the best solution, disagreeing with the other tennis players. And from another tennis player, Nikolay Davydenko, said, “I don’t know why Roger is not supporting the players. Because he don’t want any problems. He’s a nice guy. He’s winning grand slams. He’s from Switzerland. He’s perfect. He don’t want to do anything, he is just trying to be an outsider from this one.” (Cambers , 2012) This Russian tennis player displays that Federer does not want anything to do with this strike, he does not want his reputation to be affected, he wants to keep being perfect. So people all have different views on Federer on certain subjects.

Being a tennis player myself, I have experience some player-integrity issues. Last December I played in a tennis tournament named the “O’tennisbaum,” for 3.5 men’s singles player. The 3.5 is a rank level, and 3.5 is pretty much intermediate level. I won all my matches without too much trouble, and I was through to the final of this tournament. On the day of the finals, my opponent named William, had some problems with the time of the match, and asked for a reschedule and I agreed to it. He said his kid was sick that day and had to take care of them. And on the day of the rescheduled match, we started our match. I played very good tennis for the first few points of the game and William told me why I was cheating. He said I am not a 3.5 ranked player and more like a 4.5 player. He was frustrated, thinking I was blatantly trying to cheat and win the tournament, which I was not. He forfeited the match, after probably five minutes into the match. From this, I felt offended by his accusation of trying to cheat. I might be a high 3.5 level player, and maybe close to being a 4.0 player, I did not try to fake my level to win. Experiencing this, I feel that some players have bad sportsmanship in tennis.

Afar from Federer not being so called “gentlemen,” there are instances where other tennis players display outrage during a tennis match. Players from the eighties that were famous for their tantrums include John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. (Kavitha, 2008) This includes breaking tennis racquets and screaming at the umpire for bad calls. One example of a tennis player that seemed to have cheated occurred at the Olympics in Beijing in 2008. James Blake was playing against Fernando Gonzalez at the semi-finals of the Olympic game. Blake returned a ball hit by Gonzalez, that had barely touched the racquet of Gonzalez. If Gonzalez had touch the ball, Blake would have won the point. The empire makes the decision that Gonzalez did not touch the ball. After seeing the slow-motion replays, it proved that Gonzalez had indeed touch the ball. But he remained silent and did not admit his action. So that match had some controversy between player integrity. There is this interesting rule in tennis, or atleast for the ATP ( Association of Tennis Professionals ) is that players are required to play their best and give their best effort. Near the end of 2007, Nikolay Davydenko was penalized by lack of effort in a tennis match and was fined $2,000. (Kavitha, 2008)

To sum it all up, there are all types of tennis players in the game right now, and the perceived stereotype of tennis players being labeled as “gentlemen” is not completely true in this day. Not all of the tennis professions display a gentlemen image, like Roger Federer, but I do believe he is a genuine and marvelous person, contributing to a variety of foundations and disaster relief efforts. He consistently displays compassion and kindness through his actions. There might be one or two tennis players today that display a classic, gentlemen image, whereas the majority of other players are not as concerned, and the truth is, tennis should not be seen as a gentlemen’s sport.


( 1 ) Roger federer’s compassion goes viral as cancer survivor gets wish of a lifetime . (2013, 8 2). . Retrieved from

( 2 ) World of Rolex. Roger Federer: Every Rolex Tells a Story – Rolex Rendezvous. 2012. Youtube. Web. 19 Feb. 2013. Retrieved from

( 3 ) Lindt Chocolate USA. Lindt Lindor Truffles and Roger Federer “Airport” TV Commercial. 2010. Youtube. Web. 19 Feb. 2013. Retrieved from

( 4 ) Kavitha. (2008, 10 1). [Web log message]. Retrieved from

(Kavitha, 2008)

( 5 ) Gentleman, charity worker, irrepressible tennis talent: Why roger federer is the king of centre court

(“Gentleman, charity worker,,” 2012)

( 6 ) Cambers , S. (2012, 1 21). The many shades of roger. . Retrieved from

(Cambers , 2012)

( 7 )

Mirror Essay: Italian-Americans

Jasmin Limbaugh

9 March 2014

Mirror Essay

Italian-American Stereotypes in the Media

         Italian-American stereotypes projected by the media in films and T.V. often suggest that they “Italian-Americans” are heavily involved in organized crime. However, a survey conducted by the Italic Institute of America between 1996 and 2002 shows that 88% of these such characters are fictional(2007). The purpose of this essay is to better understand where these stereotypes originate, how they were popularized, and how they affect perceptions of the Italian community. In particular, what is it that attracts us to these portrayals, and why do we continue to accept them as a form of reality despite repeated criticism from large numbers of the Italian community?  This is not to say that there aren’t those who embrace the association, however in my opinion, and speaking as an Italian-American, our media portrayal should be viewed separately from us, for the most part. These stereotypes are an artistic expression which largely serve the purpose of entertainment, rather than claiming to represent an accurate historical context. Furthermore, that which is considered to be what is taken from history pertains to a very small demographic of Italians. The portrayals we often see today are often associated with Italians who arrived from Southern Italy; and while the Mafia did originate there, it was originally formed by rebels uniting over political oppression. Like the Swastika, which now conjures thoughts of anti-semitism, but was originally a symbol of peace, the term “mafia” according to Selwyn Raab, author of “Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires,” (Staff, 2009) originates from Sicilian-Arabic slang which meant, “acting as a protector against the arrogance of the powerful”. Nevertheless there are few mainstream films whose representations of Italians outside this skewed avoid the clichés we have all become to familiar with.

Italians were not always represented as gangsters. Prior to the influx of Italian immigrants to the U.S. in the early nineteenth century, Italians were held in very high regard. They were admired as artisans, craftworkers, intellectuals and artists. However, as an increasing number relocated to America in search of a better life, anti-Italian sentiment grew. With the introduction of film Italians began to be typecast with embellished accents, which later would change to the stereotyped New Jersey accent, which has become synonymous with Italian movies. Their roles often included the jokers, village idiots and small time crooks. As these films gained popularity, so did the stigma of Italians as low life criminals. Films began portraying Italians as being heavily involved in organized crime, and the public couldn’t get enough of these gangsters on screen. However, in day-to-day life Italian-Americans began to feel the effects of this systematic misrepresentation. Regular people who’d never done anything wrong were facing prejudices because of such portrayals. Organized crime became synonymous with Italians. Italian-American former governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, has long opposed the image pop culture lends to our community and even urged press to refrain from using the term mafia, stating “Every time you say it, you suggest to people that organized crime is Italian”(Sam Roberts, 2013). The truth is there are many different Mafias across the world, Israeli, Jamaican, Russian, Chinese and more, yet none of these are used by the media to stereotype their ethnic group quite like the Italian. Yet, historically, Italian gangs have had the lowest number of members, never reaching more than 5,000, an amount which translates to less than .0034% of Italian-Americans(Italic Institute of America, 2007). However, thanks to the film industry and its continual depiction of Italians as Mafiosi, many began to believe in the stereotype.

One of my first experiences in facing the power of stereotypes in the media came when I moved to Scotland. A group of boys began to bully me because I was foreign, using verbal and physical abuse simply because I was outside their comfort zone. At first I felt like it was my fault, but I soon realized that it was their own ignorance and fear of the unknown that led them to their actions. In response a few of my friends spread a rumor that my family back in Italy was involved in the Mafia. As an Italian-American who has seen many films which portray us as gangsters involved in crime I had never given it much thought, or considered them to be autobiographical in any way. However, as people started spreading the rumor around the school, I began to realize just how much the media can have an impact on our perceptions. The image of “The Godfather” burned in every teens mind. Of course the factor of everyones young age played a huge role in the ability to persuade. This is further highlighted in a poll conducted by Zogby, showing an overwhelming 78% of teens between the ages of 13-18 relate Italian-Americans to organized crime or blue collar work(The Order Sons of Italy in America, 2003). In the end teachers got involved and the rumor was laid to rest, but the boys who had previously been bullying me did not bother me again. The experience has taught me about the false reality media can evoke, how for a lot of people it is the only exposure they have to certain subjects. It highlights the importance for us to look for truth beyond what we see stereotypically as well as the responsibility which should be placed on popular culture to portray more accurate representations.

The release of “The Godfather” in 1972 saw Italian-Americans were finally portrayed in a humanized manner, allowing the audience to engage and relate to the characters on screen. Unfortunately they were still being portrayed as criminals, albeit romanticized criminals, who’s lives exhibited a sense of excitement, opportunity and refinement previously not associated with Italian-Americans. The story follows the Corleone crime syndicate as two generations struggle between traditional values and the obstacles a modernizing world brings. Don Vito Corleone, head of the the crime family is shown as compassionate, though ruthless when necessary to those who fail to show respect and loyalty. Michael, his youngest has just returned from the war and has always shown contempt for his family’s line of work. However, when an attempt on his father’s life is made and his older brother Sonny is killed, he is faced with the responsibility of taking charge as new head of the family. Michael quickly becomes conflicted with himself morally as he struggles between what is right for the family and what is right for the family business. As he becomes more heavily involved Michael begins to lose himself as he is blinded by power and revenge. While the film received critical acclaim and is revered for it’s cinematic artistry, the film enforces stereotypes that Italian-Americans are inherently involved in organized crime. The images of power, affluence and masculinity invoked by the Mafia has been the biggest draw to these genres of film and in terms of entertainment they are excellent, but in terms of generating an accurate portrayal of the everyday Italian it does little justice. Furthermore, they do not support a positive image of Italian-Americans. A study conducted by the Italic Institute of America between 1996 and 2002 shows that 69% of films which portray Italians do so negatively. (2007)

The T.V show “The Sopranos” shares many similarities to “The Godfather,” the portrayal of a man in two families; the one he has at home and the one formed with his work in organized crime. He too is humanized as we often find him in his discussing his inner most fears and anxieties with his therapist, Jennifer Melfi. Watching him talk to his children about school, problems at home and the day to day, makes his life more relatable. Taking the fundamental values of influential cinematic crime lords of the past and generating them in our present enables us to imagine Tony’s life in a more accessible way. The structures are essentially the same, yet on some level we’ve deteriorated back into a less refined criminal. Tony Soprano is not a degenerate but he lacks Don Corleone’s charisma and value of tradition. The women are louder and more emotional than before, often portrayed as bimbos and regarded as material possession. These portrayals have become so banal they border on reality, it’s what we expect and know. Even the character of Jennifer Melfi in “The Sopranos” comments on how cliché Tony’s life is. Despite these clichés and the fact that there is no longer any real mystery to the characters we see portrayed all too often, their popularity does not diminish.

While my focus is on the endless characterization of Italian-Americans as gangsters, I feel I would be indolent in failing to mention anything of “Jersey Shore.” Here I wish to draw parallels between the cultivated criminals of the past and the crude socialites which seem to be the only representation in media we have today. “Jersey Shore” is like a punch to the face of Italian-Americans; there is absolutely nothing subtle about it. The housemates were cast based on how loud, candid, short fused and obnoxious they were. It was all about the drama. It’s about entertainment and making money, but it did something more. It branded Italian-Americans in a rather unfortunate way. Suddenly anything stupid associated with “Jersey Shore” wasn’t just a “Jersey Shore” thing, it was an Italian-American one too. It’s not just that “Jersey Shore” is utterly obnoxious, but it’s offensive too. Here you have eight people oozing about how they are Italian and proud, yet they bring no pride to their country. They go around calling each other guidos, which in its original context is a slanderous term referring to a working class, urbanite Italian. Yet here they are branding themselves  and their lifestyle as “the guido way.” If that was not enough two of the main “stars,” Snooki and JWoww are not Italian, so why are they representing us?

Why is it that Italian’s cannot seem to catch a break? Suddenly our options are being fame hungry Oompa-Loompas or criminals, I’ll take the latter please. Having said that, what we’d like to be remembered for are our achievements. There is so much more to our community than what the media might suggest. It was after all Italian-Americans who discovered AIDS, invented the jacuzzi and founded the FBI, amongst many other achievements (OSIA, ). However, to popular media these are not topics to capitalize on so do not expect to see them on the big screen anytime soon.

The Godfather. Dir. Francis Ford Coppola. Perf. Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James
Caan and Diane Keaton. 1972. VHS. Paramount Home Video, 1999.

– The Sopranos. Creator David Chase. Perf James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco. 1999. Home Box Office (HBO)

– Jersey Shore. Creators Anthony Beltempo, SallyAnn Salsano. Stars Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, Vinny Guadagnino,Jenni ‘Jwoww’ Farley, Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi, Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino, Paul ‘Pauly D’ DelVecchio, Sammi ‘Sweetheart’ Giancola. 2009. MTV

-Image Research Project: Italian Culture on Film (1928-2002)                               

Article Details:

Origins of the Mafia, Author- Staff. Published 2009

– Mario Cuomo, Vocal Foe of Italian Stereotyping, Finally Sees ‘The Godfather’


Published: October 21, 2013


Prepared by:




Click to access Talking-Points-Godfather.pdf

Hip-Hop Head

I remember discovering Dr. Dre when I was in fifth grade, and since then my life has never been the same. Hip-Hop music and culture have basically dictated the way I live my life. I have been heavily influenced by Hip-Hop, and some would see that as a negative thing, due to how Hip-Hop is portrayed and seen in the media.          

            When you watch video interviews or music videos of Rap artists, you will probably hear explicit language and you will most likely see marijuana or alcohol. Hip-Hop was born in the inner city, and it is the voice of inner cities across the US  today. Because of this, there is often violence, drugs, money, and other suggestive topic matter in the music. Rappers are often profiled or labeled as gangsters or bad guys because of what they talk about in their music as well as their interviews. For example, Multi-platinum selling superstar Eminem has gotten into a lot of trouble over the years because of his lyrics and his use of homophobic slurs. I found a video online from a news station that discusses Eminem’s use of homophobic slurs, and it pulls scenes from an interview of Eminem with Anderson Cooper on 60 minutes. Anderson Cooper and Eminem discuss some of his lyrics that bash the LGBT community, and asks Eminem if he is a homophobe, to which he replies: “No, I don’t have any problem with nobody.” His use of a double negative even makes the reporters laugh after he says that line. That shows me that the use of slang is looked at as comical to people who identify with this particular news station. Eminem doesn’t hate gay people just because he says something in a song. But because of his lyrics, he had a long bout with GLAAD and the LGBT community, which was highly publicized by the media. I knew a lot of people who’s parents wouldn’t allow them to have the Marshall Mather’s LP because of these reports and views seen in the media related to Eminem’s lyrical content.

It isn’t just Eminem, the news blames rappers on murders and crime rate increases solely based off of lyrics. For example, there is a strong movement that has been going on right now out of Chicago called Drill Music. Drill music is a scene of Hip-Hop that gives listeners insight on life in the troubled Southside of Chicago. These songs are full of murder, drugs, sex; but Chicago’s murder rate is out of control, so what do you expect these artists to talk about? People focus more on the lyrics and how they could affect the youth, but there are limited nationally televised reports or news coverage on the city and how it is impoverished. A lot of people don’t even know that Chicago has the highest murder rate in the country. It is even referred to by many Drill artists as “Chiraq”, because one year there were as many homicides in Chicago as there were US soldiers killed in Iraq. It seems like the agenda of the news is to focus on the negative aspects of Hip-Hop rather than focusing on solutions to improve areas of our own country. This point is illustrated by Chicago rapper Chance the Rapper in a song called Pusha man/Paranoia:

They murking kids; they murder kids here
Why you think they don’t talk about it?
 They deserted us here
Where the f*ck is Matt Lauer at? Somebody get Katie Couric in here
Probably scared of all the refugees; look like we had a f*ckin’ hurricane here
They’ll be shooting whether it’s dark or not, I mean the days is pretty dark a lot
Down here, it’s easier to find a gun than it is to find a f*cking parking spot
No love for the opposition, specifically a cop position
Cause they’ve never been in our position
Getting violations for the nation, correlating, you dry snitchin.

In this verse, Chance talks about how his city is in ruins, and he talks about how there is no coverage at all, and he feels deserted. 

The perception of music from areas like this is that people are savage and ruthless, and maybe rightfully so, but the ordinary citizen doesn’t take the time to understand the position that these people are in. Part of the beauty of Hip-Hop is that a white kid like me, born and raised in a suburb named Happy Valley can take a tour to an area full of murder and crime, through the music. It is fascinating. It does not make me want to buy a gun or some crack cocaine to distribute to the community like some people suggest it does.

Lil Durk, a Drill music artist from Chicago has a song called “Dis ain’t what you want” where he talks about his shows being cancelled by the Police and the city because they think that his music has a lot to do with violence in the area.


I got the police all into me, this ain’t what they want
In my own city they hate on me, put weight on me
F*ck TMZ, f*ck Breaking News and ABC

I can’t do no shows cause I terrify my city, they say I terrify my city

This passage of lyrics from “Dis ain’t what you want” talks about the people who run Chicago; and how he (Durk) thinks they would rather focus on shutting down a concert than to work towards creating a better living environment for the lower class in their area. He goes on to flame media outlets like TMZ and ABC because the coverage that they report on artists like him falsely represents his motives as an artist.

            There is also a relationship between Hip-Hop and Social media that is important to note. Going back to the Drill Music scene, Rappers from Chicago like Chief Keef and Lil Reese use social media like Twitter and Instagram, and that has a lot of effects on how Hip-Hop is portrayed to the world, and has mostly negative effects on how Hip-Hop heads such as myself are seen. For example, rapper Lil Jojo, who was a rapper from a rival gang as Keef and Reese used twitter to post a video of him and his crew driving up to Reese and starting a verbal altercation. In the video, you can hear Reese say, “Jojo, I’m going to kill you.” A couple of hours after the video was posted online, Lil Jojo was gunned down on the street. He was 18 years old.

            After the incident, Chief Keef posted this tweet:

sosa jojo

you can see that the tweet was favorited 390 times and retweeted to the rest of Twitter 1,560 times at the time this image of the tweet was captured. He later would claim that someone hacked his twitter, but no one knows for sure.          

            Chief Keef is signed to a major label, and antics like this are what give Hip-Hop a bad name. People who don’t listen to Hip-Hop, but see something like this, they will often generalize and think that all of the culture is like this. There is a quote from Legendary Artist Jay Z that shows this point well:

“Hip-Hop is controversial: People don’t bother trying to get it. The problem isn’t in the rap or the rapper or the culture. The problem is that so many people don’t even know how to listen to the music.” 

What Jay is saying in this quote is that the problem when it comes to Hip-Hop and how it is perceived in pop culture isn’t the explicit lyrical content, but the people who don’t understand the culture.

            Besides the music, Hip-Hop fashion is another thing seen in popular culture that effects me, and others who are perceiving Hip-Hop. Fashion is an important part of both popular culture and Hip-Hop culture. There are so many trends, fashion styles, and accessories associated with Hip-Hop. People like to link certain clothing with Hip-Hop heads, and in turn, these styles are used to stereotype people like me. Sagging pants, big T-shirts, flashy jewelry, and snapback hats are all examples of this. Hip-Hop fashion is often vibrant, flashy, and loud, so it is perceived by people as obnoxious at times, and is often used for comedic purposes. The movie “Malibu’s Most Wanted” plays on these stereotypes. In the movie, Jamie Kennedy is portrayed as a white rapper who lives in Malibu, California. He wears outlandish clothes throughout the whole movie. Tracksuits, Baggy clothes, jewelry, du-rags, and designer clothes like Gucci and Coach. This character and his fashion enrich the  stereotype that people who listen to Hip-Hop dress this goofy. I thought the movie was funny, but I also considered it to be kind of racist.

            The fact that Jamie Kennedy is white and his role in Malibu’s Most Wanted is what some would label as a “wigger” which is a white person who thinks that they are black effects me and how people like me are perceived. I am a white male, and the culture that I identify with originated with strong roots to the African American population of our country. When people meet me and see the way I choose to dress, they know that I am into Hip-Hop, so this wigger character can be drawn upon to label me as a person. I don’t wear Du-rags or 5XL t-shirts, but I do wear jewelry often, and other Hip-Hop inspired fashion. At the end of the day, I don’t care what people think about me, or the way I dress; but I’m conscious of the labels that might be stamped on my forehead for doing so.

            Another important element of Hip-Hop culture that is subject to criticism or labeling is the use of slang derived from rap music, or used by rappers. When I am having casual conversations with people, I make use of slang terms or slang words in my speech. It’s the way I talk. It’s the way all of my friends talk. Sometimes I am not aware that the words I say aren’t commonplace, and I am viewed differently because of it. I can’t count how many times I have been told that I talk black. I hate it. How do black people talk? It is hateful. Slang is heard all over popular culture be it Twitter, film, music, or social media. It is an important part of Hip-Hop. There are even songs devoted to slang, like “Ebonics” by the late great Big L. In the song, Big L breaks down the meanings of his favorite slang terms. The way that I talk defines me as a person and affirms my role in society as a Hip-Hop head.

            Hip-Hop is a huge industry that is always in the spotlight in the media in one way or another, whether it be suggestive lyrics and the effects on the youth, crime rates, violence and drugs, fashion trends, or use of slang that is exclusive to the culture. It is important to take a step back and look deeper than what the media wants you to think about these topics, and try to understand the culture so that stereotypes surrounding Hip-Hop heads such as myself can be alleviated.        

Hollywood Weird

            Hollywood has created a standard for weird that encourages a “be yourself” attitude and, while that is positive in itself, it alienates people with actual social limitations, making them “too weird” for weird. This complex can be seen in many current TV shows and movies such as New Girl and Ugly Betty. I relate to these shows, but I’m also conflicted because I see that Hollywood weird is a safe, edited version of reality.

            I’ve always thought of myself as a weird girl. I grew up in Hawaii and have had the same best friend since preschool. I was mildly obsessed with spelling, punctuation and math at a young age, and when introduced to our first family computer at age 9, I fell deeply in love. I took Jazz dance, listened to punk music, played World of Warcraft, and my family always had at least six cats. In the media, “the quirky girl likes nerdy things, is imperfect in appearance, socially awkward and not afraid to be a tomboy” (Alex). I’ve always found it very easy to align myself with these atypical characters. I relate to their personalities, I get their jokes and ultimately I like them; I think we’d be good friends in real life if we had the chance and there’s something intrinsically comforting about that.

My favorite example of this archetype is New Girl, starring Zooey Deschanel as Jessica Day (“simply adorkable”). Her character embodies every quirk I think I have, and even some others I want just because I like her so darn much. Unfortunately, Zooey Deschanel is also a perfect example of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) TV trope, something I don’t exactly relate to. The MPDG is an unrealistic, beautiful, quirky female character only there to open the eyes and give new meaning to the life of the brooding “stuffed-shirt” male character in whatever media. The TV Tropes webpage quotes New Girl itself as the first example:

“I brake for birds! I rock a lot of polka dots! I have touched glitter in the past 24 hours! I spent my entire day talking to children! And I find it fundamentally strange that you’re not a dessert person; that’s just weird and it freaks me out! And I’m sorry I don’t talk like Murphy Brown! And I hate your pantsuit. I wish it had ribbons on it or something to make it slightly cuter!” (MPDG).

This trope suggests to the viewer that “not being able to function socially makes someone attractive and interesting” (O’Brien). Movies like 500 Days of Summer, Benny and Joon and Garden State reinforce this idea, in turn having a negative effect on their audiences, urging them to strive towards this unrealistic goal. As a matter of fact, most weird and quirky characters fall under similar impractical standards.

In the last few years we’ve seen these weird, loveable lead characters surface and win over the hearts of viewers everywhere. These characters are supposed to be approachable and likeable to the female audience; they send the message, “It’s okay to be yourself,” but they all abide to the same Hollywood standards. She’s “a klutz, bubble-brained, socially awkward, a bookish loner or fond of spouting ridiculous things that makes no sense. This makes her awkward and thus relatable to awkward… but only in ways that will call on the laugh track. What she likes is meant to be obscure, but if it’s too obscure, no one will know what they’re referencing” (Alex). She’s not Hollywood gorgeous… until you take off the thick-rimmed glasses, braces and eccentric sense of style (Ugly Betty, for example).

Based on my analysis, I began to realize that the differentiating factor between weird and quirky is attractiveness. Perhaps the reason that I relate to these TV shows is because I consider myself attractive, and maybe for the opposite reason people like the author of Perils of the Quirky Girl think they’re shallow and contrived. I think a major problem in my argument is that, while I agree that weird girls in pop culture are limited by the Hollywood standard, I don’t know if I have a problem with that; and maybe I should, being a quirky girl myself. Or maybe I’m not actually that quirky. WHO AM I?!?!

In today’s world, it’s more important than anything to be different. Being weird means being unique and standing out, and that can be taken in both a positive and a negative fashion. Based on my references, you can see the Hollywood standard of weird is really safe, and doesn’t even touch on some of the real-life aspects of weirdness (IE: serious social anxiety, body issues, cognitive disorders, troubled pasts). While I enjoy and relate to these shows, I think an actual weird character would be welcomed. It would be refreshing to have writers stop being afraid of viewers actually perceiving one as unusual, and we can only hope they move in this direction!


Alex. Blog. 9 Mar 2014. <;.

MPDG. Web. 10 Mar 2014. <;.

O’Brien, Daniel. “4 Pieces of Relationship Advice Movies Need to Stop Giving.” Cracked. 21 Oct 2011. Web. 10 Mar 2014. <;.



Sobriety and Recovery: A Popular Culture Portrayal

Sobriety and Recovery: A Popular Culture Portrayal

By Ivy Handleman


It’s easy to overlook media portrayals until you see a representation of your own identity. Sometimes they are accurate, and at other times insulting. As an alcoholic and addict in recovery, I have seen stigmas in media and popular culture over and over. Pop culture has both an accurate and deadly incorrect portrayal of addiction and recovery. Media increases the idea of addiction being a moral issue and downplays the length of time and challenges it takes to recover.

Seeing addicts and alcoholics on television and in movies is something I have been particularly aware of since getting sober three and a half years ago, and it never ceases to amuse me how accurate these portrayals often are. There is never a lack of drama when it comes to people who are drinking and using drugs; I would imagine that producers don’t have to do much work to get it started. I relate to a lot of the behavior I see and I can even laugh at it, because when we are in our addiction, most alcoholics and addicts are the same. We are quick to think how unique and different we are, but that uniqueness is almost unattainable.

Recovering from drug and alcohol addiction is a whole different story. Based on my research in the media, there is less accurate information given for recovery than there is for the excitement and drama of being sick in the disease. It’s much easier to portray negativity in a realistic way than it is to show positivity. There are shows on rehabs, and getting clean, but hardly anything about alcoholism and addiction as a disease. With this information, we are made out to be weak; seen as people who have been “brought down” by drugs and who need an institution to “get their life back on track”. Most people want to see drama of being an addict, and the quick and easy fix to turn it around when they are watching a show or movie.

The focus is not on addiction as a disease, but rather people who, “fall into the wrong crowd” or who, “just ended up partying”. The problem with this is that it puts blame on people. And, while I think it is extremely important to own the things we as addicts have done, it is equally as important to remember that as an alcoholic and addict thirty days in rehab is not going to cure me.

There is a science behind addiction, though it is frequently seen as a moral issue, “It is often mistakenly assumed that drug abusers lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behavior” (National Institute on Drug Abuse). The description of the science of addiction goes on to explain what drug addicts and alcoholics actually face, “drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions or string will”. Unfortunately this is something that is hard to portray through television, movies, social media, and much more.

So, even a show like Intervention, where there is some sort of positive message being sent: that drug addicts can get sober when they have help, is not fully accurate. The problem is what we don’t see in shows. We don’t see what each person really has to go through to get clean and sober and stay that way. It’s unfortunate that not many people get to see the truths of recovery from alcohol and drug addiction.

According to a study from 2008-2009 found at,, the relapse rate for drug addicts is 40-60%. It’s a miracle when you find someone with multiple years of sobriety. This is because it’s not something that you get over. It’s not something that is fixed after a certain number of days. I have seen people get sober, pick up their lives, get everything back that they lost (relationships and material), become happy and still relapse. I have had friends die of overdoses. It’s definitely not popular culture media’s fault for these tragedies, but we are responsible for knowing the truth behind what we see on a screen.

When I watch a show like Intervention, it actually has a pretty powerful impact on me. As I said earlier, in my experience, addict behavior is addict behavior and it’s all the same. It’s very humbling to see the behavior in other people, especially on TV. And it brings up a lot of emotions to see what a powerful impact they have on the family. When I see active addicts on TV it often makes me cry, or tear up because I remember being in a similar situation.

My analysis raises some questions about what, if anything, would help prevent people from ruining their lives with drugs and alcohol? What I am proposing is that all of the effort media has put into the awareness around drug and alcohol addiction may not actually be helpful in the larger scheme of things. In other words, I am saying that it looks pretty bleak as far as helping those who need it. In some ways, that is true, seeing as how rare it is for people to get and stay sober who need it. In addition, if pop culture is the only information someone is getting on getting sober, they may be greatly misinformed. It may point them in the right direction, but it also may attract them to another thing that is supposed to fix them.

Popular shows, media, internet, social media, and the list could go on, influence our day-to-day lives more than we can imagine. No matter how far disconnected you are, you are still tuned in to what other people are doing to change or obtain something before you do it. This has a great impact on how we make our life decisions and how we overcome difficult situations. Ultimately I only know my experience on this subject and I don’t think there is one way that works for everyone.

An article found in the Los Angeles Times addresses this same issue. In her article, “The 30-Day Myth”, Shari Roan talks about how our country is looking for a quick and easy fix to our problems. These types of options are always more desirable than long-term solutions. “But in the case of drug and alcohol dependence, it’s becoming increasingly clear that there is no such thing as get-well-quick therapy” (Roan). She goes on to say that the longer the treatment is, the higher success rate.

It seems as though the word is spreading about the truths of addiction and recovery, but I still believe it has yet to hit popular culture media. There is still a misconception that addiction is a moral issue and can therefor be fixed easily, only if people want to change. There is much more to it, and we have to remember that there is always more beyond just what we see on TV or in movies.





Works Cited Web. 9 March


Roan, Shari. LA Times.

10 November 2008. Web.




Mirror Essay: TOMBOY

Kate Jeddeloh

Pop Culture

Mirror Essay: TOMBOY

Starting from when I was young, I’ve been a tomboy. I always wore my hair in a ponytail, I wore either clothes from the boys section or my brothers hand-me-downs, and I loved to play sports or video games. When I watched TV I always found myself favoring characters who were also tomboys, or girls who had short hair and tomboyish style. However, I never really payed attention to the way they were being portrayed. However, when I look back at the shows that contain tomboy characters, it seems that no matter the age range that the TV show is being aimed towards, tomboy characters usually share similar traits, and many of those traits may be negative, however they are shown in a way that could be seen as humorous and in the end, make for some very likeable characters.

When I thought back to my childhood, one TV show that I often watched was The Powerpuff Girls. The Powerpuff Girls was a cartoon that played on Cartoon Network and was a TV show aimed towards children from ages 6-8. In the show, there were three sisters, Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup. The three sisters were created by a scientist in his lab to fight crime and protect the citizens of Townsville. Buttercup was my favorite because she was the tough tomboy. I watched an interview of Buttercup on Youtube, and when she was asked what she liked best about being a powerpuff girl, she said that, “I get to use my fists, A LOT!” (“Buttercup Interview – Powerpuff Girls.”). Throughout the video she talks about how much she likes fighting, and when referencing the bad guys she uses names like “chump”, “punching bag”, showing she’s a little bit crass. When the interviewer says how she’s known as the tough one and asks about her sensitive side, she quickly acts tough and the interviewer changes the subject. When asked if she’s worried about getting hurt, she replies,  “Nah!”, continuing to show how tough she is. When the interviewer asked about the rumor that she and a boy on the show were together, she says that actually she and the boy are just good friends and that boys are gross, showing that she is more interested in friendship with other boys rather than love. When you look at her facial expression compared to her two other sister’s expressions, she appeared to be irritated and her hair is the shortest of her sisters, catering to her tomboy image. After watching this interview, I could see how she is always referencing how tough she is and how she loves to fight, trying to keep her strong image. She also refused to talk about her sensitive side, instead she just liked to talk about how tough she is. I remember not wanting to talk about feelings either when I was young because I wanted to seem tough. To this day I still battle with emotional topics because I wish to stay strong and not let other people see my weak side. Throughout the interview, I thought it was interesting how they decided to emphasize how “tough” she is. I remember when I was a young tomboy, I too wanted to prove how tough I was so that I could seem more like a boy as opposed to a girly girl. When she was asked about the boy, she just said that they were friends, and she didn’t have feelings for guys because she thought they were gross. I think because at that age being a tomboy, we kind of think of ourselves as guys so of course we couldn’t like another guy.

When I was in elementary school and middle school, I used to watch the TV show iCarly a lot, and one of the main characters was a tomboy called Sam Puckett. It was a teenage comedy show that was aimed towards kids from ages 8-17 and was about three teenage friends and the goofy adventures they shared together. For this TV show, the tomboy character was represented as a tough girl as well. I watched a Youtube video of some of Sam’s best moments to remind me of her character and how she was represented on the show. I could see that she loves to fight and tries to just be one of the guys. She refused to talk about sensitive topics or cute things; she just wanted to keep up her strong and masculine image. To children, it can be seen that in order to be tough and be like one of the guys, you have to like fighting and you can’t be afraid. Sam wore more masculine clothing like longer shorts and sneakers. She liked to pick on her friend who is a boy, showing she’s tougher and stronger. She was often portrayed as violent and competitive, and refered to people as “dude” and “man”. She didn’t like to be told what to do, and so when people tried to tell her what to do she hurt them. She sometimes acted goofy and quirky and made weird sounds or used funny voices. She didn’t like to respect authority and liked to insult most people other than her best friend Carly. Like Buttercup, Sam too is represented as being tough, strong, and crass, and likes violence and violent things and also didn’t like to respect authority. Although there are many similarities between the two characters, I’d say that Sam is the most common representation of a tomboy. She is always tough and strong, doesn’t like to talk about her feelings, likes to insult people, doesn’t like to respect authority, and wears more boyish clothes. You can see that this is a slightly negative image of a tomboy because she is also represented as sort of a bully. In most of the show, she picks on her friend who is a boy but later in the show when the both of them start to grow up, she tried to be more feminine and then the two of them started dating. This is a typical situation for a teenage tomboy being represented on TV where they begin to have a crush on a boy and want to become more feminine. I relate to this because when I was young all I ever wanted to be was one of the boys, however, once I started to grow up I started liking boys and so I tried to be be more feminine hoping that a boy would eventually like me.

When I got into high school, I found myself being more interested in boys and I knew that no boy would like me as long as I was a tough tomboy. So, I started to wear more feminine clothing and lots of makeup and tried to change my personality to be more bubbly and kind to others. The character Darlene Conner from the TV show Roseanne also had a situation like this. To this day I occasionally watch the TV show Roseanne which is a comedy/drama TV show about an American family, and was aimed towards young adults to older adults. Once again, I watched a video on Youtube to brush up on what kind of character Darlene was to see how she was represented. The video started with a clip from when Darlene is in high school and tried to dress more feminine to impress a guy, and talks about how she is such a dork, and tries to get advice from her more feminine sister. In the show she always teased her older sister and younger brother as well as her peers and enjoyed doing so. When she go into high school, she had problems with her guy friends liking her or she liked her guy friends. Eventually, she got a long-time boyfriend who she bullied the most. She was quite rebellious, leaving the house without her parent’s permission. When she was young she often played sports and dressed like a boy, refusing to dress like a girl. In this show, the tomboy character was represented as a more cynical bully character that doesn’t care about anything. Like Buttercup and Sam, she too didn’t like to talk about emotional things; she also liked to bully those around her and was quite crass and used stronger language. She also wore more masculine clothes and doesn’t wear makeup. It’s interesting how in this show too, the tomboy character was represented in a more negative light. Darlene was more cynical than the rest of the girls, but she too was represented as a bully. The younger version of her was how I was when I was younger, always playing sports and wearing boys clothes and trying to act tough, but as I grew older I tried to take a more positive path.

For Buttercup from The Powerpuff Girls, the creator made the assumption that tomboys are violent, and don’t like to talk about cute subjects or emotional subjects, and has no interest in boys. Some might see that tomboys are just trouble and they are too violent, creating a negative image for tomboys. Others might see them as being cool and strong and tough. I too didn’t like to be emotional however I still loved cute things and animals. One thing though, is I always had crushes on my guy friends, I was never really grossed out with them; they were more grossed out by me because I was a tomboy. By having a character such as Buttercup, it creates a character that girls can try to relate to. It could relay a positive image in the way to make women strong and not be afraid, however it can create a negative image in the way that tomboys could just be bullies.

For Sam Puckett from iCarly, the creator showed the assumption that tomboys are bullies, they love to be violent and pick on other people, they don’t like to talk about emotional things, they are quirky, they dress more boyishly, they have an appetite, don’t like being told what to do, and they are athletic. Some viewers might get the idea that tomboys are just mean and aren’t good to be around. Other viewers might see her as fun and might be a person to look up to or be friends with. I think Sam is a good representation of a tomboy however I don’t like the bullying aspect of her behavior. She had good style for a tomboy, she was weird and quirky which is good, she was strong, she didn’t like to be told what to do, and she had an appetite, all of which are things I can relate too. The TV show gained a lot of popularity and Sam was one of the main characters so although she was a sort of bully, she was still likeable. The only problem with this though, is that it condones bullying behavior which is not good.

For Darlene from Roseanne, the creator showed a tomboy as being a sporty girl who wore boys clothes when she was young and having only guy friends. Though once she started going through puberty started to develop feelings for her guy friends, tried to become more feminine, but eventually became a more angsty cynical person who gets joy out of making fun of other people. I totally relate to the young Darlene in the way that I was always playing sports like basketball, I always wore boy clothes and I usually had a ponytail. Once I went into middle school and was going through puberty I too started to have crushes on the boys around me and I tried to be more feminine too. However just like every other tomboy who I looked at, she too became more like a bully by always making fun of and teasing those around her. One thing that was more unique about her, though, is the fact that she became more angsty and cynical. The nice thing about watching Darlene in the show though also showed her through many stages of her life so you can see how her character as a tomboy changes as she gets older.

From looking at all three examples, I can see that tomboys are portrayed as being tough, kind of mean, and aren’t prone to talking about their feelings. The common image of a tomboy is usually a younger girl who likes to play sports, has either short hair or a ponytail, and a girl who likes to be tough and be one with the boys. One thing that shocked me the most though was that all three examples were portrayed as being rude bullies which I had never noticed when I watched the shows when I was younger. In conclusion, no matter what the age a program is being aimed towards, tomboy characters usually share similar traits, and many of those traits may be negative such as bullying other people, however they are shown in a way that could be seen as humorous and in the end, make for some very likeable characters.

Works Cited

“Best Moments of Darlene and Becky Conner [3/3].” YouTube. YouTube, 07 Sept. 2011. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

“Buttercup Interview – Powerpuff Girls.” YouTube. YouTube, 21 Mar. 2008. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

“ICarly.” IMDb., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

“Jennette McCurdy’s Best Icarly Moments.” YouTube. YouTube, 08 Aug. 2010. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

“The Powerpuff Girls.” IMDb., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

“Roseanne.” IMDb., n.d. Web. 16

Sobriety and Recovery: A Popular Culture Portrayal

Sobriety and Recovery: A Popular Culture Portrayal

By Ivy Handleman


It’s easy to overlook media portrayals until you see a representation of your own identity. Sometimes they are accurate, and at other times insulting. As an alcoholic and addict in recovery, I have seen stigmas in media and popular culture over and over. Pop culture has both an accurate and deadly incorrect portrayal of addiction and recovery. Media increases the idea of addiction being a moral issue and downplays the length of time and challenges it takes to recover.

Seeing addicts and alcoholics on television and in movies is something I have been particularly aware of since getting sober three and a half years ago, and it never ceases to amuse me how accurate these portrayals often are. There is never a lack of drama when it comes to people who are drinking and using drugs; I would imagine that producers don’t have to do much work to get it started. I relate to a lot of the behavior I see and I can even laugh at it, because when we are in our addiction, most alcoholics and addicts are the same. We are quick to think how unique and different we are, but that uniqueness is almost unattainable.

Recovering from drug and alcohol addiction is a whole different story. Based on my research in the media, there is less accurate information given for recovery than there is for the excitement and drama of being sick in the disease. It’s much easier to portray negativity in a realistic way than it is to show positivity. There are shows on rehabs, and getting clean, but hardly anything about alcoholism and addiction as a disease. With this information, we are made out to be weak; seen as people who have been “brought down” by drugs and who need an institution to “get their life back on track”. Most people want to see drama of being an addict, and the quick and easy fix to turn it around when they are watching a show or movie.

The focus is not on addiction as a disease, but rather people who, “fall into the wrong crowd” or who, “just ended up partying”. The problem with this is that it puts blame on people. And, while I think it is extremely important to own the things we as addicts have done, it is equally as important to remember that as an alcoholic and addict thirty days in rehab is not going to cure me.

There is a science behind addiction, though it is frequently seen as a moral issue, “It is often mistakenly assumed that drug abusers lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behavior” (National Institute on Drug Abuse). The description of the science of addiction goes on to explain what drug addicts and alcoholics actually face, “drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions or string will”. Unfortunately this is something that is hard to portray through television, movies, social media, and much more.

So, even a show like Intervention, where there is some sort of positive message being sent: that drug addicts can get sober when they have help, is not fully accurate. The problem is what we don’t see in shows. We don’t see what each person really has to go through to get clean and sober and stay that way. It’s unfortunate that not many people get to see the truths of recovery from alcohol and drug addiction.

According to a study from 2008-2009 found at,, the relapse rate for drug addicts is 40-60%. It’s a miracle when you find someone with multiple years of sobriety. This is because it’s not something that you get over. It’s not something that is fixed after a certain number of days. I have seen people get sober, pick up their lives, get everything back that they lost (relationships and material), become happy and still relapse. I have had friends die of overdoses. It’s definitely not popular culture media’s fault for these tragedies, but we are responsible for knowing the truth behind what we see on a screen.

When I watch a show like Intervention, it actually has a pretty powerful impact on me. As I said earlier, in my experience, addict behavior is addict behavior and it’s all the same. It’s very humbling to see the behavior in other people, especially on TV. And it brings up a lot of emotions to see what a powerful impact they have on the family. When I see active addicts on TV it often makes me cry, or tear up because I remember being in a similar situation.

My analysis raises some questions about what, if anything, would help prevent people from ruining their lives with drugs and alcohol? What I am proposing is that all of the effort media has put into the awareness around drug and alcohol addiction may not actually be helpful in the larger scheme of things. In other words, I am saying that it looks pretty bleak as far as helping those who need it. In some ways, that is true, seeing as how rare it is for people to get and stay sober who need it. In addition, if pop culture is the only information someone is getting on getting sober, they may be greatly misinformed. It may point them in the right direction, but it also may attract them to another thing that is supposed to fix them.

Popular shows, media, internet, social media, and the list could go on, influence our day-to-day lives more than we can imagine. No matter how far disconnected you are, you are still tuned in to what other people are doing to change or obtain something before you do it. This has a great impact on how we make our life decisions and how we overcome difficult situations. Ultimately I only know my experience on this subject and I don’t think there is one way that works for everyone.

An article found in the Los Angeles Times addresses this same issue. In her article, “The 30-Day Myth”, Shari Roan talks about how our country is looking for a quick and easy fix to our problems. These types of options are always more desirable than long-term solutions. “But in the case of drug and alcohol dependence, it’s becoming increasingly clear that there is no such thing as get-well-quick therapy” (Roan). She goes on to say that the longer the treatment is, the higher success rate.

It seems as though the word is spreading about the truths of addiction and recovery, but I still believe it has yet to hit popular culture media. There is still a misconception that addiction is a moral issue and can therefor be fixed easily, only if people want to change. There is much more to it, and we have to remember that there is always more beyond just what we see on TV or in movies.





Works Cited Web. 9 March


Roan, Shari. LA Times.

10 November 2008. Web.




Mirror Essay: The use of Power, Redheads, and Stereotypes in Popular Culture Today

Mirror Essay: The use of Power, Redheads, and Stereotypes in Popular Culture Today

I have found that as I age, I don’t look in mirrors as much as I used to. The journey in searching for my true self has found its way within, and as much as I would like that to reflect how the world around me wishes to view me, sadly, I’ve learned that the way the world perceives people, a lot of the time, is through their exterior.

The Popular Culture Media outlets I focus on in this blog use their power of authority to capitalize on prejudices. I discuss how redheads are stigmatized by their peers, Popular Culture, and Popular Culture Media, and how this stigmatization reinforces the message that power is what determines how differences in people can be singled out and used to create discrimination of a group of individuals. The methods to create and reinforce discrimination may be through humor, profitability, or repetition of the discriminatory message in various Popular Culture Artifacts of today and I analyze those various methods through the use of redhead stereotypes.

When entering a new environment, I am constantly greeted with more attention than the average person. My bright red hair that is now down to my waist is certainly eye catching, and it wasn’t until the age of nine that this became more apparent as to why I felt like people treated me differently.

It was on a summer day, and I had been hanging out with a few of the kids at our year-around-school. A boy came up to me who all of my friends, including me, had a crush on. We were all playing truth or dare, and my dare was that I would have to ask out the person that I had a crush on. I told this boy in front of me that it was him, and he  responded that he  “….didn’t like me because I had red hair and freckles… and that he wanted to go out with Amanda, the girl who had brown hair like him.” Now this boy and I had been in the same class since Kindergarten, and I couldn’t believe that me having red hair would make him not like me, and it dawned on me that there really wasn’t anyone else that had red hair in our school, except for my sister and I. I left, feeling crushed, and “the ugly duckling” of the group. It didn’t matter if I was in the Talented and Gifted program, or that I was a peace mediator, or that I had a lot of friends. To me, I was broken and not the same as everyone else. This stayed with me for quiet some time growing up.

As I take the time to look back on how it was growing up, I continue to reflect on a few of the obstacles that I endured and how redheads endure similar depictions in popular culture and the media. I believe that our media is a powerful tool that sends messages to all age groups, and that any type of media can create a stigma against a group of people, by using their power over viewers to believe in the messages that the media puts out there.

I identify as a redhead who was born in a family of redheads in America. My mother and father have red hair, my sister, best friend, aunt, cousin-in-law and a few others I know have red hair. This might seem like a lot to some people, but we see it as the norm, and wouldn’t have it any other way. My sister, best friend and I have grown up together with red hair, and we were often given compliments throughout our childhood and into our adult years. As I have told you previously, some associations weren’t particularly positive though, and I started to grow more and more aware of these misrepresentations of what it means to be a redhead.

It wasn’t until I saw South Park that I found I wasn’t the only one who recognized the stereotypes that were being thrown around in our society about redheads. South Park is an animated satirical TV series shown on Comedy Central, and is a tool for society to reflect on the major controversies throughout our culture, and the cultures around the globe in a satirical fashion. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are the creators, as well as the directors, and narrators for most of the characters. They deliver messages to their viewers by writing the episodes weekly, narrating, and then producing the episodes on a strict and fast paced deadline that is usually within seven days.

The first episode I saw about redheads was when Cartman made a speech called “Ginger Kids”.

You can see the episode here:

Trey and Matt put Cartman in the front of the class to get both the actual audience and the animated kids in the TV show to pay attention. The viewer was forced to focus only on Cartman, who starts off by saying that “Ginger kids have gingervitus,….it occurs because ginger kids have no souls…. that they cannot be cured…… and that redheads are going extinct.” Stan, a hat concealed redhead, doesn’t like this discrimination that Cartman is igniting in his school towards redheads, and so he dyes Cartman’s hair when he’s sleeping. Later on, in the same episode ten minutes in, Cartman, who is now “ginger” with red hair and freckles, sits by his “friends” in the cafeteria who tell him he
can’t sit with them because other gingers will think its okay to be in the cafeteria. He leaves and immediately has a meeting with other redheads about being discriminated against, causing the redheads to unite and rally to fight against discrimination and become “the master race they are intended to be”. Stan eventually tells Cartman that he dyed Cartman’s hair red in his sleep, resulting in Cartman telling everyone that they should “all live together in harmony” so he doesn’t die from the revolt.

The subtext of these stereotypes was not only to bring up Cartman’s biased issues, but a way for Cartman to get attention from his peers. We see this need for attention with the creators of South Park and how it is made to create awareness for issues that should be questioned, but also for the TV ratings. It is scripted and formed completely by Comedy central and the producers. Another thing to notice is that the creators put real people, not animated redheads on the overhead projector that Cartman shares with the class. This sets the viewer up, to not only connect with the stereotypes of the culture, but it gives the viewer a real image to emotionally connect with.

We  should also question Trey’s, Matt’s, and Comedy Central’s motives for bringing these issues to our attention. South Park only exists because they are bringing up issues in our popular culture in a satirically biased journalistic form. They are important issues to focus on, but if South Park wasn’t animated, and didn’t make fun of the issues by acting out the prejudices through their characters, one could question how many people would be watching the show. The show is surrounded by shock based strategic, lewd humor that calls out people’s discriminatory acts in our own Popular Culture. South Park chooses, usually, to end with a morally acceptable lesson to learn, like “we should all just get along and not judge”, but the main point of the show is to take the problems in Popular Culture, twist them into disgusting and disturbingly shocking parables for TV ratings, that ultimately make them copious amounts of cash. The authority, South Park, and Comedy Central, feed off of the viewer’s environment of stereotypes to produce a humorous message, but tries to change that message to be morally acceptable. It really doesn’t matter what the message is, it is obvious that the authorities in this context are reinforcing a message they believe is true, and are using their facility of power and money to make the audience believe it.

If the viewer is knowledgeable of past issues in the world that South Park references in The Ginger kids episode, the viewer notices the different messages South Park is sending be that of the Holocaust, the witches that were burned that were redheads, and the disparate treatment of African Americans in the U.S.,  just to name a few. The way in which South Park is used to talk about discrimination, by re-enacting the prejudices, and sharing facts about redheads and other historical prejudices, is also a way for the creators to refer to the issues that they find important, and by throwing in these  references throughout the show, it is obvious that the creators want to shape the audience’s point of view with the predetermined biases of the creators.

Going back to the idea that I was not as sought after of a person as the brown haired Amanda, it is easy to assume that something in the environment created this bias towards me at such a young age by what has been analyzed thus far. Having red hair or brown creates a visual boundary between people, even if it is something that is overlooked. Jane Elliot, a school teacher from the 1970’s created an experiment that reflects what Trey and Matt were trying to convey through Cartman. Jane created an experiment where half of her class had blue eyes and the other half had brown eyes and they became divided by a simple blue collar that the brown eyed people had to wear. The lesson taught children how it felt to have prejudices against a group of people and how once a person is discriminated against, their feeling of empowerment and privilege dwindles quickly.  The people in power quickly became bullies against the oppressed. The oppressed fought back, but still felt marginalized. Jane switched the collars onto the blue eyed kids the next day and reversed the prejudice. It was shown later in the experiment that the oppressed children even did worse academically.

Brown Eyes Vs. Blue Eyes Video Link:

The Jane Elliot video that is analyzed by Dr. Phillip Zimbardo in the clip explains it best, on how power is the ultimate predictor in discriminating against a group, and that  “the most minimal cues of differences between people like eye color, or lip size, can be the basis of discrimination when authority adds values to one or another.” This idea connects to the Cartman episode, where he is treated as lower than the rest of the kids and it connects to my own experience of being told I wasn’t likeable because of my red hair. This idea that power gives one authority to discriminate against people, is the idea that Trey and Matt reinforce. By putting a stereotype out there in the media, as a legitimate argument, people can easily start to believe it, only South Park’s message is that it is wrong, and it can be reversed to show how powerful a message can be given authority, as we see with Cartman.

Another artifact of Popular Culture that shows how stereotypes of redheads are thriving today is from the show Millionaire Matchmaker, on the Bravo TV channel, with host Patti Stanger.

Patti Stanger “Hating Redheads Clip:

            Millionaire Matchmaker is a reality show that is currently on television. A reality show is usually a scripted form of entertainment, that has an agenda, and whether or not it is morally sound advice that Patti gives isn’t important, so much as to how and why it is entertaining to people.

The episode I focus on grew a lot of attention, and was one of the many controversial episodes that caused criticism and drew attention to her insulting remarks towards people of different religions, sexualities, and colors of hair.  This particular episode involved a redhead, with Patti Stanger asking the redhead named Rayne if she would date a fifty year old. Rayne replies no, Patti gets angry, and the camera shifts back and forth providing close ups of them both going back and forth, focusing on Raynes emotions in her face, while Patti calls her names, and proclaiming, “this is the reason I hate redheads….. every redhead in our company is a pain in the ass.”

This type of scripted bias towards redheads is the device Bravo uses when demonstrating their authority, resulting in getting people to watch their show, by sacrificing a group of people, redheads, along the way. If it wasn’t something that they didn’t want people to see, Bravo and Patti could have easily edited out the part with Rayne in it, but instead made the entire episode about Patti having prejudice towards redheads. When Rayne decides to go to the meet and greet anyway, she is immediately attacked by Patti. The viewer is watching, while the camera is standing behind Patti, making it feel like it was a deliberate attempt to make Rayne feel trapped, and bullied. Patti later on went to apologize publicly, but the damage had already been done, and their ratings had gone up. This choice to demean a protected group of people is a common subtext in the Millionaire Matchmaker.

It seems important to end on a more positive note, and so I chose to analyze an online YouTube Science video clip on: , a renowned science website.

     The clip I analyzed is by Adam Mordecai, who explains the “Truth About Gingers” and how “although redheads aren’t rare… they aren’t very common either… making up only one to two percent of the population”. Adam speaks to the viewer by looking right at the camera, with clips of pictures of the various myths and facts he talks about, regarding the “Big Red”, or redheads with facts, such as, “they don’t get their fiery red hair because they were conceived during menstruation, or bitten by a werewolf as a baby, they get their hair the same way we get our hair, from melanin.” He speaks in a very fast explanatory manner, with many hand motions to enhance what he is speaking about. Adam separates the video with: at 2:40 “We learn their superpowers, at 2:56, we learn their weaknesses, and at 3:27 we learn why any apocalyptic war against them will prove fruitless.” Adam uses humor just similar to the other sources above, but his use of authority is based on using scientific facts, and discouraging redheaded discrimination. This video clip is the least biased, by giving out information that helps people understand the difference between a myth and a fact amongst redheads, without giving his opinion.

At the end, Adam gives a shout out to his subscribers and how he would not be able to do what he does without them. This demonstrates that there is a certain audience that he is providing this information for. The audience is interested in facts, more than shocking entertainment that we see in South Park, or The Millionaire Matchmaker, otherwise his viewers wouldn’t be subscribing to his channels. Adam is using the many counterarguments, or myths as I like to call them, to promote his YouTube channel, and backing up his claims with facts that have been proven by science, all while making money from the many viewers tuning in. He has the authority and is giving the message that these myths that previous authorities have used to fuel their agenda have now been tweaked to back up Adam’s agenda on getting YouTube users to tune in and to believe his scientific claims on redheads.

The sources examined were all helpful in understanding how our media chooses to project these stereotypes of redheads, whether that is through animation, shock value, or debunking myths. All used humor as a way to get their message about redheads across. As I reflected on how these stereotypes have an effect on how people perceive one another, I use this reflection to mirror back to the feelings I have had growing up. I was not like everyone else, and I was greeted with mixed ideas of what it is to be a redhead and how to feel about being different. Although I don’t look as much into the external mirror as I used to, I will say that I do believe that how you feel reflects what you put out into the world, and if a person wants to view you for just your red hair, let them stay a minute longer and they will start to see the real you. The main message is that power is what determines how differences in people can be singled out and used to create discrimination of a group of individuals. Creating the power within our individual selves to see past what another authority wants us to believe is true can lead to a more critically conscious, equal, and united culture. Mirroring my internal true self out to the world is my goal, and my power of authority. I have a responsibility to mirror messages that reflect moral and non-discriminatory practices and I believe that our Popular Culture and Popular Culture Media should be cautious when putting out messages that can cause a difference in a group to become a negative association in a Culture.

Works Cited

Adam Mordecai.

IMDB Clip Hating Redheads 1990-2014

South Park orignal Air Date 11-30-2005

YouTube user: HeroicImaginationTV Channel. uploaded 2011.

The Subordinated Portrayal of Female Athletes in Media

The Portrayal of Female Athletes in the Mass Media

        A widely addressed issue in the media today is the topic of professional and collegiate female athletes and the misconceptions linked to their success. One of the main concerns is how female athletes are being characterized compared to male athletes. In many cases, the 21st century media portrayal of the female athlete tends to favor their physical appearance above their athletic ability; but regardless, male athletes get more attention and publicity. The number of female athletes participating in a sport has significantly increased over the past few decades, specifically since the passing of Title IX.

In 1972, Title IX was enacted to insure gender equality in federally funded college educational programs. This enactment has been a step in the right direction for female athletes but there are still issues beyond participation in a sport, such as the perception of a female’s identity or image, which tends to be distorted by the media.

The mass media feminizes, sexualizes, reinforces gender stereotypes and under represents female athletes compared to male athletes. Some examples of media imprinting these issues are the movies Million Dollar Baby and Dodge Ball, as well as magazines such as ESPN and Sports Illustrated. In comparison, female athletes are sexualized in sports magazines but popular movies portray them to be masculine, unsupported, vulnerable, and inferior to men. This negative light disguises the positive traits female athletes possess.

Stereotyping has become a large problem in society.  People tend to be labeled and this puts added stress on those who do not fit into the stereotypically made categories. Some of the most occurring stereotypes are that women athletes are emotional, attractive, feminine, and heterosexual. In the movie Dodgeball, Kate, on the Average Joe’s team, presents herself as attractive, skinny, and feminine. The producer portrays her to be this way to reinforce these stereotypes about female athletes. Men on the other hand are portrayed to be strong, athletic, and masculine. The media is very powerful in that it can construct how a female athlete’s gender is reflected. “Such paradoxical sporting practices continue to ensure that gender remains the primary categorization of women athletes, re/producing female athletes as women who play sport rather than as athletes first and foremost: (Kassing, 2008)

Another example of how the media portrays the stereotypes of female athletes is by making them appear masculine. Assistant Professor, Lindsey J. Mean and Associate Professor, Jeffrey W. Kassing, both in the department of communication at Arizona State University mention, “… In claiming membership of a male category, women’s athletic identity work has to manage the implications of contesting masculinity. This includes being framed as masculine and hence lesbian resulting in derogation, exclusion, and invisibility…” (2008).  An example of this is seen in the movies Million Dollar Baby, and Dodgeball; each of the main characters face being portrayed as masculine. The women in these movies are participating in male dominated sports where they do not care about their appearance. Kate, from Dodgeball, is thought to be a lesbian throughout the film and she in fact turns out to be one. These films reinforce this stereotype and in result, in order to encourage women’s participation in athletics, female athletes manage their femininity by “policing” their own identities (Kassing, 2008). On the contrary, female athletes also struggle with the issue of feminization. One example of this is in the movie Dodgeball. The producers have to reinforce Kate’s femininity through things like her obsession with unicorns (her house is filled with them) instead of focusing on her insane athletic ability.

Correspondingly, women athletes in the sports media deal with feminization due to the fact that they are more likely to be broadcasted playing sex-appropriate sports such as gymnastics, ballet, synchronized swimming, and ice-skating. In a quantitative study concerning women in Sports Illustrated Magazine, at the time when Title IX was passed, it was found that the number of women portrayed in the magazine barely increased, and the covers only consisted of women who played sex-appropriate sports. Women who played male-appropriate sports like basketball and soccer were rarely ever portrayed (Kane, 1988).  Significant research done on the broadcasting of women’s athletics over the past couple of decades, shows that camera angles have a huge impact on the objectification of female athletes. By focusing these angles on chest shots and butt shots for example, they are exploiting their physical attributes rather than their athletic talent. These findings are “…suggesting a female athlete’s sexuality is more important than her athleticism” (Bissell, K., & Smith, L., 2010).

The act of sexually exploiting women athletes is an issue that is very bothersome to society. There are many examples of this happening in the media today. For one, photographs are a hot spot for athletes being sexualized. Female athletes are being featured in sports magazines, posing and wearing little to no clothing or “ …in a non-competitive setting, dressed in some form of non-competitive manner, and posing specifically for the camera (either a professional shoot, or walking into an event)” (Smith, L.R., 2011). This issue of feminization draws attention to the non-athletic aspects, nullifying recognition of their athletic ability and talent. Recently, Russian tennis player Agnieszka Radwanka posed nude for ESPN Magazine getting her more attention from the media than for her talent as a tennis player. Other women tennis players have become widely recognized by the media, not only because of their athletic talent, but also because of their beauty. Russian player, Maria Sharapova, has become famous not only by being the number two ranked player in the world, but also is known to be a successful model, and Anna Kournikova was noticed because of her presence in the 2004 issue of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Magazine and voted the “sexiest female athlete” by

As a result of the portrayal of female athletes outside of playing their sport, it can create feeling like an object rather than feeling confident about their body when competing (Smith, l. R., 2011). Female athletes being feminized and sexualized through the media’s unrealistic images can create psychological consequences; body shame, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders can be a result (Frederickson & Roberts, 1997).

In sports media, female athletes are continuously depicted as being inferior to their male counterparts (Buysse & Embser-Herbert, 2004; Koivula, 1999). The movie Million Dollar Baby, is a prime example of female athletes’ inferiority to men. The title itself is degrading to female athletes because if a man were the main character, the producers surely would not use the same movie title. Maggie is shown to be young but her maturity, strength, courage, and dignity portrayed through dealing with her unsupportive family and her decision to end her life, shows that she is far more than a baby and she deserves recognition for that. At one point in the movie, Maggie’s mother said, “Find a man Mariam! People hear about what you’re doin’ and they laugh. It hurts me to tell you but they laugh at you”. Her mother’s lack of support just shows that there was no belief in her. This says a lot about female athletes being portrayed in movies because men are always portrayed in a different light; confident, the hero, or even rising above hardships. The bottom line is that the media purposefully makes women athlete’s look and feel inferior to men in order to keep male dominance from feeling threatened.

The lack of representation from the media is another controversy that has made an impact on female athletes. Studies show evidence that female athletes received less game coverage, less broadcasting time, less photographs and cover stories, as well as a lower quality of broadcasting coverage than men’s sports (Knight & Guliano, 2001; Koivula, 1999; Salwen & Wood, 1994). For example, there was a study done regarding the male versus female athletes shown on the cover of Sports Illustrated Magazine and the results were breathtaking. Out of 837 articles, 55 females (6.6 percent) were featured while 782 males (93.4 percent) were displayed on the cover page (Salwen & Wood, 1994). This study proves that the magazine company is biased towards female athletes.

Much of the lack of representation of the female athlete comes through television. For example, there was a study done on the Olympic Games that “…suggested coverage of women declined from the 1996 Olympics to the 2000 Olympics, with coverage of sports containing power or contact going almost solely to men: (Tuggle, Huffman and Rosengard, 2002). On the bright side, research from 2008 has shown an increase in coverage for women in the mass media but it was found that there is some fault to this statement. For one, through examination of track and field events in 2009, the men’s coverage was more visually appealing than the women’s coverage. There were a wider variety of camera angles and more special effects. It was concluded that these differences could contribute to the audience’s interest in watching the sports (Bissell, K., & Smith, L., 2010). These are just two of the many issues that contribute to female athletes being under-represented in the media. With public interest increasing in this topic, the big question is, why have private media corporations not made efforts to equalize broad casting and television time?

Most of the issues that female athletes face are a result of how media coverage represents them. These women are being judged more on their appearance rather than their athletic ability. Some athletes then focus on their body appearance, which can lead to psychological disorders. In order to put a stop to this controversy, the media must do a better job of respecting women athlete’s by treating them fairly, with non-stereotypical coverage and making them equal to men.

This controversy of how female athletes are portrayed in the media hits home with me because I have had some of these same experiences as an athlete growing up. Because of my participation in sports at a young age, I can relate to female athletes who feel the need to manage their identity. However, I prefer an equal balance of masculine and femininity. My personal experience with the media was from articles in my local newspaper back home. Coming from a small town, media follows the same course as anywhere else. The local sports editor would write articles about me which usually contained positive, as well as negative information, along with a picture of myself in a short tennis skirt. Title IX continues to make changes and provide opportunities for female athletes. It has also allowed me to play tennis at Portland State, which I am proud of.  The journey has been long and something I have had to fight for; overcoming the odds that very few female athletes become college tennis players. At times I have felt inferior to the expectations of being a female athlete, always striving to be better than my male counterparts. Being told that I would never be great had a huge impact on my athletic career because I wanted so badly to prove everyone wrong, and I can honestly say I have succeeded.

Work Cited:

Bissell, K., & Smith, L. (2010). Let’s (Not) Talk About Sex: An Analysis of the Verbal and Visual Coverage of Women’s Beach Volleyball During the 2008 Olympic Games. Conference Papers — International Communication Association, 1.

Buysse, J. A. M., Embser-Herbert, M. S. (2004). Constructions of Gender in Sport: An Analysis of Intercollegiate Media Guide Cover Photographs.  Gender and Society, 18, 1, 66-81.

Kane, M. J. (1988).  Media coverage of the female athlete before, during, and after Title IX: Sports Illustrated revisited. Journal of Sport Management, 2,2, 87-99.

Knight, J., & Giuliano, T. (2001). He’s a Laker; she’s a “looker”: The consequences of gender-stereotypical portrayals of male and female athletes by the print media. Sex Roles, 45, 217-229.

Koivula, N. (1999).  Gender stereotyping in televised media sport coverage.  Sex Roles:  A Journal of Research, 41, 589-602.

Salwen, M. B., Wood, N. (1994).  Depictions of female athletes on Sports Illustrated covers, 1957-1989.  Journal of Sport Behavior, 17, 2, 98.

Shoot, Score, Strip? An Examination of Media Representations of Female Athletes and Their Impact on Collegiate Athletes. (2011). Conference Papers — International Communication Association, 1-25.

Mean, L. J., & Kassing, J. W. (2008). “I Would Just Like to be Known as an Athlete”: Managing Hegemony, Femininity, and Heterosexuality in Female Sport. Western Journal Of Communication, 72(2), 126-144. doi:10.1080/10570310802038564

Anaylsis: The Life of a Red Head

Olivia Mabie UNST245

Professor Bergland

Analysis: The Life of a Red Head

The setting is downtown Portland around Chinatown. As I’m walking down the street, I get approached by a homeless man. He’s staring at me with a curious face, not saying anything for a few seconds. He then asks me, “Does the carpet match the drapes?” I look at him with confusion and then realize that he is talking about my red hair. I immediately walk away without saying anything. He yells after me in a joking tone, “I was just asking if your hair was natural!” I then yelled back, “You didn’t need to ask like that!” I literally could not believe that some random guy asked me a really domineering question. Being a red head in today’s society bring a lot of jokes, stereotypes, and accusations with it. Whether it be a “soulless Ginger”, “Carrot top”, or “Daywalker”. The most common joke I hear about being a red head is “Gingers have no souls”. Where do these statements and questions even come from? Why do people associate red headed people with being soulless along with many other stereotypes? Maybe it’s because red hair is the rarest form of hair color on earth. Only 2% of the world’s population have red hair. That’s a pretty small percentage for how many people there are in the world. Red heads are associated in the media as “The Geek”, “The Sexy One”, “The Villain” and even “Soulless Beings”. All of these stereotypes stick in our society and get used against people who have no control over their physical traits.

One stereotype that is portrayed in the media is redheads being classified as the geeks in films or TV sitcoms. A classic example is the Sherminator in American Pie. A guy with vibrant orange hair, freckles head to foot, and braces. This guy was classified as the geek who wanted to fit in with the cool crowd but just could not blend in. He would show up to house parties and have a persona of being suave and cool. However, everyone in the movie knew that he was the ginger, nerdy kid who tried too hard. Another example of a nerdy redhead is Michelle from American Pie as well. The famous quote that she repeats through the movie, “This one time, at band camp…” proves that Michelle was portrayed as a geeky girl who happened to turn out to be cool. However, she was portrayed crazy in the bedroom. This is another stereotype that gets brought up about redheads.

“The Sexy One” is a stereotype that brings up not only a lot of assumptions, but a lot of stereotypical questions. It’s interesting that redheads get categorized as these crazy people who are crazy in bed and freaks in the bedroom, all just by having red as a hair color. The media promotes this stereotype in many ways, whether it be Michelle from American Pie, to the cartoon character Jessica Rabbit from who Framed Roger Rabbit? Producers cast attractive, outgoing, and witty redheads to play characters that are promiscuous, mysterious, and can have an attitude to them. All these chracteristics come with being a redhead in today’s society. Simply because of the creation of these stereotypes in the media. A good example showing this stereotype in the media is Jessica Rabbit from the Who Framed Roger Rabbit. A redheaded, and seductive bombshell that Roger Rabbit as well as other characters cannot get enough of. In one scene, Jessica Rabbit is seducing the detective in the movie, trying to persuade him to find her husband. The detective is uneasy about it, claiming she has gotten around. She replies back saying, “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.” This single quote and her seducing the detective shows that media is portraying red heads to be masters of seducing and easy on the eyes. I think the quoted line is a perfect example of the redhead stereotype. Being as not all redheads are the way they’re portrayed, it’s just what society sees them as. Wearing a sequined red, heart shaped dress which starts low on her back and shows plenty of cleavage for a cartoon. Her vibrant red hair is to one side, only showing half of her face, bringing mystery to her appearance. jessica_rabbit_mmd_by_chatterhead-d664w2z Another great example is another character that goes by the name of Jessica on the hit HBO sitcom True Blood. She’s a sheltered, religious teenager who gets turned into a vampire unwillingly. Jessica is a tall, pale, green-eyed, and has long thick red-orange hair. She tries to find herself and later rebels against her “maker”. In one episode she ends up making out and sucking on some guy’s neck in a vampire bar. None of the other vampires have scenes like this in the sitcom. Sure you see them have sex with their boyfriends or girlfriends, but Jessica was portrayed as a rebellious girl who hooks up with random strangers in bathroom stalls. It’s also interesting to me that a lot of the “sexy” characters in TV shows and movies are named Jessica (Maybe Jessica is a good red head name). tumblr_m8pk3b6DqM1r8tyvto1_500 This brings me to some accusations of red heads in the real world after these stereotypes are showed in the media. According to the website, an article titled, The 18 Most Offensive Things People Say to Redheads written by Erin La Rosa, some of the most offensive questions or accusations one could say to a redhead are related to this “sexy one” portrayal. Rosa explains why a statement is offensive and how people should rephrase their comments when they’re talking to red heads. “10. You must be crazy in bed. Why it’s offensive: Yeah, we saw American Pie too, and we remember how “crazy” Alyson Hannigan’s character was. How to rephrase: “I’d never be foolish enough to believe stereotypes. I’d only be a fool if I didn’t tell you how hot you look with red hair” (Rosa). Another great insight on this subject comes from the YouTube channel Buzzfeed. A YouTube channel that posts comedic skits and short videos. The short video is titled, Why You Shouldn’t Mess With Redheads. It’s a two minute video of redheads sticking up for the hair color and making fun of some stereotypes that are in the media. For example, a long haired red head is sitting on some stairs outside a building. Discussing how it’s true that redheads are great in bed. She states, “You heard we’re crazy in bed. Well that’s absolutely true. By crazy you mean the best f*cking thing you’ve ever had” (BuzzFeed). This vulgar comment definitely embraced the stereotype and made it entertaining to watch. The short video goes on with multiple red heads swearing and being defensive. I found it interesting that the red heads were showing that they are portrayed as people who use foul language as well. This is a charactistic that I have experienced because, I too sometimes have a sailor mouth. This brings me to another stereotype that red heads deal with.

“The Villain” is a stereotype that is strongly played out in the media world that portrays red heads as evil and problematic. Red heads get portrayed as people who have fiery-tempers and have no patience. This stereotype I think is probably the most relatable for me. When I was younger, I had temper tantrums from time to time and I was always called the “Red headed stepchild” from my family. This term is still used to describe red heads that have short tempers. I find the stereotype of redheads having “fiery” tempers interesting because it’s funny that hair color can affect a person’s perception on how another acts. Anne of Greene Gables, a fellow red head once said, “You’d find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair” (GingerParrot). This stereotype is interesting because I find myself to have a fiery temper at times. It’s like a whole different emotion compared to being mad or frustrated. The fieriness seems to be apparent in redheads more than other hair colors.

The last stereotype that is probably the most used is redheads being “soulless”. Red heads are claimed to be soulless, vampires or witches that cannot come out in the sun. Both men and women who had red hair were accused the most during witch trials in this little town I once visited in Germany. An example that shows this is the villain in the movie Hocus Pocus. The leader of the trio witch-pack being a red head that wanted the souls of all the children of Salem, Massachusetts. Some of the most popular statements are, ‘Red heads have no souls’, ‘Are red heads able to go out in the sun?’, and ‘Red heads are related to Satan’ (Rosa). My whole life, as I’ve gradually gotten older, these comments have become more common than others. It makes me feel like these jokes aren’t original when I get asked them, but rather an enforcement of the stereotype. In Rosa’s article, theirs an image of a red head for every offensive term. For example, under the question asking if red heads are related to Satan theirs an image of Michael C. Hall, the red headed actor who plays the serial killer on Dexter on Showtime. The people that are used in the article are portrayed this way to show a point that they are all red heads, and the questions or terms that come with them do not represent them as people. These photos are also altered in the way that these terms do not directly go to the people in the images. BuzzFeed is using images that misrepresent the term or questions it’s trying to portray, but are using general photos to represent a population. dc1fdaf396c8bf97d54ea71f916c6a40a56e5e07 All in all, being a red head is something to feel special about. No matter what the media may portray what a red head is supposed to be. However, the media emphasizes these stereotypes in films and shows, constantly making more notations as to how a redhead acts as well as how they look. The media has created this group of people to be fiery, soulless, geeky, and great people in the bedroom. It’s bewildering that mainstream media can create this and have assumptions that red heads are a sort of different species than people with other hair colors. I think the positive light that is being shed in society is that redheads can embrace their stereotype and live with the red hair norm. Some negative light would be how we are portrayed as promiscuous and villainous to other people who don’t have red hair. Out of all the analysis research on this identity that I relate to myself, I find that red heads are represented in a very sassy, passive, and provocative way in media. The redhead stereotype consists of people who can be defensive, have fiery tempers, and are soulless creatures. The article and videos definitely invoke these stereotypes either by flaunting the stereotype or calling it out and rephrasing it in a way it will no longer be a name call. The stereotype of being a red head comes with many pros and cons. The media definitely takes the cons and exposes them to the population, which can give red heads a bad name and a bad association.

Work Cited

Ball, Alan, dir. “True Blood.” True Blood. HBO. 07 Sept. 2008. Television. “Ginger Quotes.” Ginger Parrot. N.p., 20 Feb. 2014. Web. 08 Mar. 2014. <;. La Rosa, Erin. “BuzzFeed.” BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed Staff, 25 Feb. 2013. Web. 08 Mar. 2014. <  to-redheads>. Manos, James, Jr., dir. “Dexter.” Dexter. Showtime. 01 Oct. 2006. Television. Ortega, Kenny, dir. Hocus Pocus. Walt Disney Pictures, 16 July 1993. Television. Weitz, Paul, dir. American Pie. Universal Pictures, 09 July 1999. Television. Why You Shouldn’t Mess with Red Heads. BuzzFeed Video, 2013. Clip. <> Zemeckis, Robert, dir. Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Touchstone Pictures, 22 June 1988.  Television.

The Binaries of Gay Men


A gay person is and is not so much more than their sexuality, but sadly the greater of pop culture feels that gay people are the latter. In about the last decade or so there has been an incredible surge in LGBTQ people in television, and just overall awareness of gay people in general. There has been a great amount of exposure and focus on gay people as of late;however, the focus is so narrow and dividing. The focus gay people get in pop culture is an unfortunate attempt of inclusiveness. Gay people are capitalized and content is produced merely because there is a market for it. In 1998 when Will and Grace first aired it was shortly followed in 2000 by Queer as Folk, simply because a market had previously been created. This market for gay centered programing has since expanded, however the expansion of programs has garnered little to no broad representation of gay people. A new HBO show Looking shows gay men on a heteronormative scale. The characters break away from stereotypes, but ultimately lack any depth or interesting qualities. Then the complete opposite spectrum of gay people is represented as the flamboyant queen. Queen being taken literally in RuPauls Drag Race. Also, Stefan from SNL is the exact representation how a modern American perceives a gay person. Furthermore, I find these two representations often pitted against each other. I see this between Jack and Will in  Will and Grace, and Robin Williams and Nathan Lane’s characters in The Birdcage. The only true representation I’ve ever felt is in a film called G.B.F. I will go further into what the film is latter in the essay; nonetheless, I’ve found that even with something that I feel accurately portrays what it is to be a gay, at large an overwhelming feeling of ideas from the film are being missed. Ultimately, the film just proves that Straight America capitalizes on the gay community and lacks actual support for the community. At last I feel that although today’s world is so diverse and full of characters, gay men in Pop culture are portrayed between the flamboyant queen or the reserved heteronormative ideal.

HBO’s Looking has nearly obliterated any trace of heterosexuality. There are a few supporting characters who are straight, but they are few and far between. That being said the  staring characters couldn’t fit more perfectly into a heteronormative identity. The main protagonist of the show is played by Jonathan Groff, and he’s character’s name is Patrick. Patrick doesn’t meet the general stereotypes of a gay man. He’s rather reserved, works as a video game designer, and is overall rather naive about anything in the gay scene. At first glance this seems awesome and like a very progressive show. However, the show just seems to lack depth with the characters. Have the staring cast all be gay characters opens up and array of ideas, but the show keeps resorting to a very standard drama guideline. Rich Juzwaik wrote a piece on Gwaker and had this to say about the characters, “Patrick has a flirtatious relationship with his ball-busting boss! Dom is intrigued by a man who’s older than his usual type! Agustín has eyes for a bad-boy escort, even though he should know better!”. All the characters just seem to follow very rudimentary plots but just with a twist of gay added to it. When saying that this show falls into a heteronormative ideal is saying that the gay characters have been assimilated into everything that would portray a heterosexual person. Everything except their sexuality of course. This can all be argued with that gay men are finally allowed to be portrayed as boring, and that the show has a sense of normalcy to it. However, this is still not a normality that I know. I don’t know what it’s like to be a gay person who shies away from his sexuality. I certainly don’t make it apparent, but I am not one who doesn’t enjoy flaunting it from time to time like the men of Looking seem to. However, this flaunting is done to the nth degree by the drag queens in Ru Paul’s Drag Race.


RuPaul’s Drag Race is a reality television competition in which men dress as their drag persona to compete to be the next drag superstar. Drag Queens are a subculture in the gay community of men who dress as women and lip sync to songs. This is the simplest of definitions. The show is highly entertaining, but it shows a very specific side of gay culture. These performers while incredibly talented in many aspects, they are also the men of the gay community who are the most boisterous and at times ostentatious about their sexuality. It’s no secret that any of these men are gay. They flaunt it, own it, and embrace it. This is something I have incredibly respect for and a aspect of the show I can slightly relate to. However, these men are so over the top that I feel it’s a very polarizing show. These men are the embodiments of a gay stereotype. They are all catty, they’re all witty and have great one liners, moreover they all seem to be image obsessed. Nonetheless, I can still sit and enjoy the show, but, no, I do not feel as if my identity is being represented through these men.

Not feeling represented through these shows is fine. It is understandable that it is impossible to show every possible person, and that a show is not going to try and portray every known identity. This is especially true of the show I previously discussed – Looking. However, it is still apparent that the only know homosexual identities that are portrayed throughout pop culture are the boisterous queer and the subdued half way in the closest gay guy. These identities are not only seen isolated in me previous examples, but can also be seen pitted against one another.

As far back as my knowledge and pop culture understanding goes the film The Birdcage is one of the earliest films to pit the queen and the reserved gay together. The film is a remake of the 1978 Franco-Italian film, La Cage aux Folles. The remake stars Robin Williams as the macho straight acting man, and Nathan Lane as the out spoken, clearly gay, lover to Robin Williams’ character. Through out the film Nathan Lane’s character is criticized for his apparent homosexuality. There is even a scene where Robin Williams teaches Nathan Lane how to appear more masculine. This is all done in order to calm the heterosexual guests that will be visiting Williams and Lanes’ home. After the debut of The Birdcage it was only two years until Will and Grace appeared on T.V. Will and Grace was a very popular show back in early 2000’s. The show revolved around a gay man, Will, and his best friend, Grace. Will is a seemingly put together lawyer who at first glance doesn’t appear to be gay. Will is countered with Jack. Jack is clearly a homosexual with an obsession with Cher, and he’s a man who doesn’t really seem to have anything in life figured out. This show once again provides the example of the binary portrayal of gay characters in T.V. and film, but it is also clearly a portrayal of the two being contrasted against each other. The representation of gay men for the last 15 years or so has remained constant. However, there has been at least one film to tackle this binary.

G.B.F. or Gay Best Friend is a film that tries to break the obvious gay versus the reserved gay cliche in movies and T.V. The film is about a gay teenager, Tanner, who wants nothing more than to fade into the background. Tanner just wants to read his comics and get through high school life. When Tanner is accidentally outed he becomes the newest cool kid to have at the prettiest and most popular girl’s side. Tanner essentially becomes the hottest commodity, much like an iPhone would.This filmed seemed to have the most realistic portrayal of gay people even if it is just slightly out of my generation. I felt Tanner’s high school experiences most relatable to my life, much more so than what I see on T.V. anyways. The sad truth to the film is that it recognizes the binaries I discuss that gay people are portrayed in. The moment Tanner is outed all he wants to do is to continue to be unnoticed and enjoy his nerd lifestyle, but that isn’t allowed when the popular girls want to make him their new gay best friend. When Tanner does;t conform to their ideals of a gay person these girls force him into it. They want him to gossip, dress like he has the great fashion sense, and to be that oh-no-you-didn’t-gay they’ve seen on Bravo. While I felt this film had the best representation of my chosen identity, it still shows that at large the majority of gay male representation is of a man whose outfits are so stylized it’s unquestionable of his sexuality, and that he has the wit to match the floral pants he’s chosen to don.

I feel I am represented in both of the binaries that are often portrayed. I feel I am unquestionable queer at times with my mannerisms and how I choose to present myself. Nonetheless, I feel subdued and subject to heteronormative lifestyle when I drink a beer or watch a football game on T.V. I feel very straight whenever I play a video game, and then I feel my queer side come out when I chose to play a different gender in said video game. My favorite part about my homosexual identity is that it does’t need to conform to gender roles. I can be feminine or masculine at the drop of a hat. However society, or pop culture, at large doesn’t sen o get this notion. A gay man isn’t portrayed as flexible as I fell. Hopefully, I will see a more honest portray of gay man, rather than restricted portrayals I see now.


Portlanders in Popular Culture.

Helena Wolfe

Prof. Bergnan


Pop Culture

February 2th, 2014

Portlanders in Popular Culture

Over the past fourteen years I have lived in Seattle and Portland, in the heart of the Pacific Northwest. I have spent most of my adult life in Portland and as a visual artist I spend a lot of time observing other people and places. Portland was much different when I moved here in 2005, or at least it appeared that way to me. Over the past eight years I have explored the city and really gotten to know its nooks and crannies, as well as the culture of Portland. I have noticed how much Portland has grown, not just physically with the sheer number of construction sites around town but also in it’s “weirdness,” and popularity. I notice new things daily but I suppose each year there is a general trend that I see forming in this city. Most people I see tend to follow the trends of Portland, whereas I see myself as an outsider to this. I suppose people would stereotype me as an outdoor enthusiast and artist. I am sure there have been several episodes of Portlandia about people like me. However I see myself outside of what is considered “popular culture” here in Portland.

Of course one of the popular culture artifacts I am using is Portlandia and other such representations of Portlanders in the media. Before this show really came together in 2005 I believe that people who lived outside the Pacific Northwest probably had no idea what Portlanders were like. I had no idea what Portlanders were like and I lived only three hours away. Since then Portland has become a buzz word with young people across the United States and the place to move to if you are young and interested in being free, pursuing your passion and living an “alternative lifestyle.” Portlandia takes such a satirical angle of how it describes the people and places here that it’s no wonder that many people all over the country became intrigued with Portland. The show describes the people here as weird, hip and full of youth.. I can’t help but ask myself...are the majority of the people who live in Portland really young hipsters?

Another artifact I used is Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ video for Thrift Shop, which was filmed in Portland. Many people think the video was filmed in their hometown of Seattle, however, the pair chose to venture to Portland to shoot this particular video. Why might this be? The video is about taking the power away from expensive, new clothing and going out to search for one of a kind clothing items from local thrift shops. They shoot this video in one of our local thrift shops and around town. I thought this was a telling sign of what the two artists, as well as the rest of the Pacific Northwest think of Portland. According to these representations I should really care about how I look, so much so that I should put effort into my appearance to make it seem as though I don’t care. Tangled hair, ripped or high-water pants, fur coats, sequins and a fixed gear bicycle are just a few of the quirks that should define a young Portlander according to this media reprentation. I should try to be as “vintage” as possible, be dating a man with a large beard or mustache and only go to dive bars. I should own an old car instead of a new one and when it comes down to it I believe that the media describes Portland as a place where you can find alternativesto what is popular in the rest of the country.

Alternatives can be anything from food choices to transportation decisions but they are meant to push back at what’s popular. Portland is strange this way because it’s popular to be against what’s popular. Sounds like a silly concept but that’s the way Portland’s culture is. One of my major artifacts is a clip from Portlandia in which the two main characters are planning their wedding. I found it hilarious because the create an altar made of bicycle parts and hire a “priestess” to perform the ceremony. They determine that no one should have to sit next to each other in the ceremony to be politically correct. Though this clip is over the top, as all Portlandia episodes are, it does touch upon some hilarious phenomenons of Portland popular culture. In this way it makes me look at myself. When I was married last year I insisted on having a woman marry us. It was not a “priestess” and we did not have an altar made of bicycle parts but still, some of the ideas and concepts that were presented in this clip rang true for me. I wanted a woman to marry us because I grew up in the Catholic faith and I found (and still find) it ridiculous that women can’t be priests. I intentionally wanted to go against the norm, which is exactly what the characters on the show did.

I have also seen Pemco advertisements on the side of the buses in town which read, “Profile of a Pacific Northwesterner #103,” then show a photograph of a man wearing Birkenstock sandals with white socks. How accurate is this advertisement? I can’t say I have never seen a man wearing white socks and sandals but do I see them as often as the ad may suggest. How are these representations of Portland true and how are they false? What do these ads say about the people from our side of the country? When I was very young growing up I had the privilege of living both in middle America (Kansas) and on the east coast (Pennsylvania). Though I was young I do remember asking people about Seattle and hearing people say, “Everyone is so laid back and casual there.” I didn’t know what this meant but I finally understood it after taking a trip to Boston one year. Everyone there was in their finest business clothing or evening wear, you didn’t see a pair of jeans anywhere. In Portland it is strange to see someone dressed to the nines, even in business wear. As a female I noticed that every woman I saw on the east coast was wearing heels. I determined I was much more fond of the casual nature of Portland and Seattle. Even the most well dressed business people here are often dressed in a more practical manner.

Another artifact I looked into was a play I saw last year called Portland, I love you (I think that was the name). I was in stitches laughing the entire time. The show was a monologue by a comedian/actress, originally from LA, who describes coming to Portland for the first time to visit. It was absolutely hilarious listening to her describe trying to make friends with the barista and his cavalier attitude towards her, sitting outside the coffee shop seeing tall bicycles or unicycles ride by and going to a “freedom dance.” It must have been a huge change from the culture of Los Angeles, which she describes as quite a shock at first and very alluring. She fantasized about moving her family here because she wanted her son to have the fun, playful and weird freedoms that so many people in Portland have. I loved this play because it touched upon many of the issues I have already brought up from the perspective of an outsider to the Pacific Northwest.

I think it’s important to realize that just because we live in a place where people ride tall bikes or dress up in strange attire doesn’t mean that we all do. It does accurately describe some of the scenes in Portland but it’s important for people from other places to know that Portland is not just full of young, strange hipsters but that there are many diverse populations here. Sometimes I laugh at myself when I find that there is something about me that is being over-dramatized in a show like Portlandia because I feel that I would still have that trait if I lived elsewhere. For example, as an outdoor enthusiast and outdoor educator I love to “nerd-out” over gear. There was one episode that showed people going to hike in Forest Park and instead they end up talking about in great lengths the gear they should bring. If I lived in Boston or some other city outside the Pacific Northwest, I feel I would still appreciate talking about gear with other people. It’s important to remember that people from other cities are viewing these episodes of Portlandia and making judgments of people from Portland based on them. Being aware that the media exaggerates is a good step but also coming to some understanding of what the trends in Portland are can help to clarify what is a part of the popular culture here and what is not.

Welcome to the Geek

Welcome to the Geek

            Just years ago the geek was a petty insult used to generate juvenile stereotypes. Today, this is no longer the case, which may be partly due to the effects of pop culture and media. It has just recently taken the world of film, news, and print by storm; evolving into its own state of being. With its growing popularity and following, it has begun to constitute questions surrounding how it’s represented. In order to answer these questions we must delve into the lifestyle and interest of a real world geek. Fortunately for you (the reader), I happen to associate myself with things geeky and beyond. Together we will view the wide range of interests, activities, and values of geeks presented in pop culture. Along with it the positivity and negativity presented and shown by the media when referring to geeks. Using some of today and yesterdays pop culture, we will peer into how geeks are being portrayed in media and the effects it is having.

Growing up in a small town, it was difficult to acquiesce with the stereotypes set in place. I felt the pressure of peers to follow in their interests or be left by the wayside. This created conflicts within me; my interests were not of sports, girls, or social activities. No, I felt the desire for technology. It was difficult to find others who shared interests, so I created a façade in order to fit in. However, as time began to pass, I found it easier and safer to reveal who and what I really was. I’d like to think pop culture played a factor in making this happen. Being a geek had become less negative and in return granted an opportunity for comfort in an otherwise reluctant stereotype. Progress is being made, yet some negative images and depictions remain in place.

Negative imagery related to geeks can be seen in movies, television, advertisements, and other forms of media. Unfortunately, these images have had a hand in shaping the modern view of the geek in today’s society. In these images geeks are often portrayed as socially inadequate and awkward, and all around irregular to everyone else in society. The way they dress, talk, and interact is suggested and applied to further progress the media’s illustration.

A prime example of negativity in pop culture towards geeks can be seen in a commercial created by Go Daddy. The commercial features a narrator (Danica Patrick), Bar Rafaeli, and Walter (Jesse Heiman). Bar appears as an attractive woman wearing a pink dress showing her near perfect smile. While Walter is a heavyweight man wearing glasses, a button-up shirt, and a tie. In the commercial Walter is busy typing on a nearby laptop while sitting next to Bar. While doing so the narrator introduces each character and labels both; Bar the “sexy side” and Walter the “smart side.” After the introduction of both, the narrator reveals it takes both sides to create a “perfect” website. Upon the end of the sentence both Bar and Walter stare into the screen, look to each other, and kiss. Upon exiting the kiss a text appears, stating “When sexy meets smart your small business scores.”

Go Daddy creates a multitude of questions from their character representations. Is it not possible for a website creator to be both “sexy” and “smart?”  What makes Walter the “smart side” and Bar the “sexy side?” The commercial sets a standard that is irrational and unfortunate. It seems Go Daddy has used a number of preconceived notions in order to create identities for the characters. One of these notions uses the idea that Walter is not sexy. Thus Walter may be seen as less attractive and not physically desirable in comparison to Bar. Another of which is that someone who creates websites, can’t or doesn’t look like Bar. Why can’t Bar Rafaeli play the “smart side?” The ideals represented don’t do a great job of breaching boundaries placed by generalizations from the past.

While Go Daddy’s commercial presented a high amount of negativity in manufacturing an image for geeks, it offered one positive image. The geek kisses Bar, the “sexy side.” How often do we see the geek looking from afar, dreaming of one day kissing the attractive guy/girl. It doesn’t happen generally, at least not without overcoming obstacles. These obstacles often include either shyness or appearance. In films and television shows such as “Freaks and Geeks,” the geeks are smaller, less social, and awkward when put in situations involving other people (usually of the opposite sex). Where did this objectified ideal come from?

We follow the characters of Sam Weir (John Francis Daley), Neal Schweiber (Samm Levine), and Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr), all of which make up the gang of geeks on the show Freaks and Geeks. The show is set in McKinley High School during the 1980’s. Most of the time the geeks are wearing polo’s, button-up shirts, and/or sweaters. The show offers positive and negative images that mirror the real life geek during that time period. One of the scenes in an episode includes Sam and Neal arguing over who the real geek is, as though it is an  atrocious title to carry. This may be because being labeled as a geek at the time had larger ramifications in society. Freaks and Geeks offers a great look into the difference of being a geek during the 1980’s compared to being a geek in today’s world.

When it comes to the educational skills represented by the geeks in Freaks and Geeks, the show characterizes the geeks as smart. They are knowledgeable in almost every aspect of school (excluding female anatomy). According to the educational journal, Nerds and Geeks: Society’s Evolving Stereotypes of Our Students with Gifts and Talents (2005) written by Tracy L. Cross, research has found that there is connection between positive educational skills and technology. Cross suggests that growing up, “immersed in technology,” has increased the learning ability, and in return has given a positive view to being a geek. Both the Go Daddy commercial and Freaks and Geeks feature the geek(s) using technology such as a computer, television, or game devices.

Technology is a prime aspect in describing a geek. It can be described as a hobby and an interest. One could say the level a person is enveloped in technology is related to how geeky that person is. Technology is not the only aspect though, and the television show The Big Bang Theory provides a great example. This sitcom includes comic books, sci-fi, board games, books, etc. All of which are also related to the image of the geek created by the producers. The Big Bang Theory offers a different perspective on the social aspect of the modern geek. An aspect I find to be a much more accurate portrait than either, Freaks and Geeks and the Go Daddy commercial.

The producers and writers of The Big Bang Theory create a prominently positive image of the modern geek. The characters appear to be in their late 20’s, and live in an apartment in Pasadena, California.  Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) play the main characters, while their “geek” friends include Raj (Kunal Nayyar) and Howard (Simon Helberg). Many of the scenes are set in Sheldon’s apartment, with the characters watching television, playing video games, or surfing the internet a sizeable amount of the time.


I can relate to the characters of the Big Bang Theory well enough to find enjoyment in watching the show. As a geek I enjoy comic books, movies, video games, and virtually anything relating to technology. While there are many similarities, I can also find some differences between myself and the show. I’m not particularly fond of clothing relating to video games or comic book characters. Another difference is vocabulary used; the characters make constant references to sci-fi film and use a sizeable amount of scientific jargon. In a way, the producers create an image that science is geeky. I believe this is an accurate image as many of the factors of being a geek can be related directly or indirectly with science, however being a geek doesn’t necessarily mean you use scientific jargon.

What affects do these forms of media having on geeks in today’s society? Level of comfort is the first thing that comes to mind. The Big Bang Theory reaches such a large audience, not only in the United States, but around the world. It has created a centralized form of media in which geeks alike can refer to. Even those who watch purely for entertainment and don’t associate themselves with the term geek can gain an understanding of what a geek is. The Big Bang Theory has created a link between mainstream media and the geek. Becoming more mainstream through media has offered an opportunity for society to accept geeks as a legitimate identity. Acceptance offers an opportunity for geeks to feel comfort in a world of diversity.

Upon many revealing pop culture artifacts, I believe that progress is being made to normalize the geek. The Big Bang Theory provides a great example since it reaches such a large audience. The show mirrors real life geeks in a positive way; the characters do not alienate non-geeks and are not alienated in return. They have shown that there is a place among the rest of society for geeks to take. With so many different facets related to geeks, it has become easier than ever for a person to associate themselves without resentment. Even if you enjoy something as little as reading a sci-fi magazine, you can consider yourself a geek. By interacting with a geek or anything relating to geekiness, you can help evolve a stereotype into an acceptable image. While there is still progress to be made, I can safely say I enjoy being a geek in the world of today.




GoDaddy. “Bar Refaeli Kissing Jesse Heiman Go Daddy Perfect  Match Super Bowl Commercial.” Online video clip. Youtube, February 8, 2013

Prady, Bill. Lorre, Chuck. “The Big Bang Theory” CBS.

Feig, Paul. “Freaks and Geeks” NBC. 1999.

Cross, Tracy L. “Nerds and Geeks: Society’s Evolving Stereotypes of Our Students with Gifts and Talents.” Gifted Child Today. v28 n4 p26-27, 65 Fall 2005


Sneakerhead in Popular Culture

Tony Pham

UNST 254

Professor Bergland

Popular Culture: Mirror Essay

            Before 1985, shoes of any style for any gender had no buzz around them. There was no spotlight or flare in a conversation about shoes between people. It was made simply for cushioning the bottom of the human’s feet. That was how it is, until when Michael Jordan signed an endorsement deal with Nike. Though it wasn’t just any endorsement, because Jordan was able to get a percentage of the revenue deal thanks to his agent, David Falk. From there, Jordan not only led his team to multiple championships, but he made the shoes he wore mainstream. Thanks to Jordan, he made approximately 130 million dollars for Nike within a year, which Nike only expected three million out of him. Jordan shoe line grew and so did people’s interest for his shoes. The shoe line would be expected to come to an end when his career is over but that is definitely not the case. A tag price of what used to be 65 dollars now range above one hundred and fifty. People would riot to get their pair in a shoe retailer store. The lust and craving to own Jordan shoes and other rising star with endorsement deals became a hobby that leads to the term sneakerhead. Shoes became so mainstream and popular because of the famous people who wore them. The demand for shoes not only made the original pricing went up but the reselling value of it too. Fans and collector bought shoes that they love, but because of popularity and fashion, it has lure others’ interest in buying shoes to resell for profit which should not be considered as sneakerheads.

People that followed hip hop and famous athletes like Jordan have noticed the shoes that are being worn by them. Their love and interest as fans selected each as part of a representation of whom they want to be like. Air Force One, a pair of shoe worn commonly by a rap artist named, “Fat Joe.” Made the shoes popular. Not only did rappers wear them but also in basketball players. “A really classic style that has to do with whether or not you play basketball.” (Life of a Sneakerhead) The style when made popular and trending had people positively commenting others that wore them. Some shoes that were not too popular at first but then when worn by a celebrity, people started wanting to buy a pair. Dj Skee, a huge sneakerhead himself, owns hundreds of pairs that he loves very much. When interviewed by George Kiel, DJ Skee mentioned multiple times that the shoes he got were all before the craze went on about the shoes. Some of which became very rare because of how tough it would be to collect nowadays. His love for the shoes came before the hype. He bought shoes that meant something to him and captured his own interest. That lead to him buying multiple pairs of the same style just to not have to worry about ruining the style of pair that he loves. (Sneak Peek: Inside DJ Skee’s Sneaker Closet Part One)

As the demand start to rise, the price of shoes also went up. Another reason why shoes can get so popular is because celebrities start to wear sneakers and sign with shoe brands like Nike and Jordan. Coming out with shoes that are intentionally for them but also in extremely very limited quantity. Thus, when someone manages to get their hand on a pair, it can be resell for a very large amount of profit. Recently, Kanye West had his personal shoe style that Nike made for him; the hype that was build around the release had everyone anticipating it. Minutes after release, the pair which originally priced at two hundred and forty-five dollars was reselling online for well over three grand. (Flores) As a sneakerhead, it would be a prized-possession to have that in part of their collection. Better luck if they could have got it for retail instead of the reselling value. So like what was said in the video, “Life of a Sneakerhead,” why one pair might be inside a glass case, well it is because it is worth more than his car.

Even though it seems nice to own a pair that is worth a lot in money value. There are others out there that take advantage of the popularity of the shoes and would buy it to make money out of them. People with the sole purpose of reselling for profit should not be considered sneakerheads but just the simple term of resellers. Alex, from ABC news is one of the many people who take the opportunity to get the shoes that are well praised by people to sell for profit. In the city of New York and New Jersey, it seems as so that everybody is either buying, selling, or trading for a pair that they want; but in reality, teenagers like Alex, is there to make money. Alex would go camping out on the next release or anticipating the online release to snag a pair to resell later on. (ABC Nightline Take A Look Into Sneakerheads) This really counters others that would want the pair and now the only way to get it is to buy it for above the retail price. It is not as if the price of shoes aren’t already going up due to the amount of people growing interest in shoes such as Nike and Jordan. Nike Industry knows there are always consumers of their products so it isn’t a problem for them to steadily increase the price of their products over the past decade. People who know of the sneaker culture sometime recognize them as being quite wealthy because of them going out to buy such high price shoes.

Before the entire buzz about shoes and it being mainstream, kids who were fortunate enough would get an iconic shoe that NBA star player would wear on the court. Macklemore, was one that appreciate the shoe game at a young age too. A rapper who originated from Seattle, Washington rapped a song that really explained how the trend of shoes from back in the day to up to date now. The song he wrote called, “Wings.” Tells a story about the age that he first own a pair of Air Jordans along with the effects and result that came along with it. Within the song, he mentioned that owning the pair of shoes made him cool and it made him feel like playing like Michael Jordan; this were some of the positive attribute in owning a nice pair. It was all swell until something sad happened, his friend’s brother died because someone wanting what was on his feet. One of the saddest part about the shoe culture is that the people who go over board to obtain a pair. (Kiel) Macklemore’s music video showed that in the end he lost his shoes because somebody ganged up and robbed him. In the video of ABC news, it mentioned how people rioted in mall and break down doors to get to the store first just to get the shoes. This could make it hard for people to not agree that sometime sneakerheads are crazy for their shoes or even inhuman. The length and determination of someone who wants to get their pair if they really love it can be pretty astonishing.

Growing up I was always a basketball fan and had the inspiration to play like the NBA star. What better way to do it then beg my parents to buy me a pair of shoes that Michael Jordan wore. As I grew older and start buying my own shoes, I noticed the craziness that happened in the sneaker culture. One of the scariest happenings was I getting chased by a couple of dudes who was after the shoes that I was wearing. Shoe collecting was much easier back then than how it is now. I was able to walk into the mall, pay for my shoes, and wear it the next day to school and all my friends be complimenting how cool I am or how great the shoes look. It then became what seems like me showcasing my collection by wearing a different pair each day. Students at school recognized it and some thought I was insane, and others thought I was rich. What I was really doing was wearing what I feel like wearing and how I feel for the day.

The evolution of shoes of different style has followed along with fashion as best as possible. As Nike have been creating shoes with colors that are retro and favorable in consumers. Sneakerheads are going to continue to collect because of their love for shoes and others that like to make a profit out of the real popular shoes. With the rate of hype that is continuing to build on shoes that are coming to release along the years it doesn’t seem that there will be an end to people buying shoes. Those that is capable of buying all the shoes that releases can be viewed as rich and wealthy, whereas those that don’t might try to get them other ways. Some might even think it is ridiculous to own that much pair. As for me, I’m going to continue to buy whatever pair that gets my attention and keep it for a very long time.

Work Cited

LIFE OF A SNEAKERHEAD. Dir. FungBrosComedy. 17 July 2013. Youtube. Web. 1 Jan. <;.


Flores, Gerald. “Did Nike Handle the “Red October” Air Yeezy II Launch the Right Way?.” ComplexSneakers. N.p., 9 Feb. 2014. Web. 1 Jan. <;.


ABC’s Nightline Takes A Look Into Sneakerheads: Teenagers Mak. Dir. ABC. 15 July 2013. Youtube. Web. 1 Jan. <;.


Sneak Peek: Inside DJ Skee’s Sneaker Closet Part One. Dir. Nicekicks. 30 Jan. 2013.Youtube. Web. 1 Jan. <;.


Kiel III, George. “CONFLICTS OF A CULTURE: 1 ON 1 WITH “WINGS” ARTIST MACKLEMORE.” Nicekicks. N.p., 2011. Web. 1 Jan. <;.


Esteban, . “23 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Air Jordans.” Refined Guy. N.p., 5 Mar. 2013. Web. 1 Jan. <;.


Society’s View On Cat Lovers

How Cat Lovers Are Viewed:  The Change

Oliver Etherington


Professor Bergland


A smelly, worn for year’s sweater, a crazy look and of course more cats than a local animal shelter.  This perception described above, and illustrated with this picture from the popular T.V. show The Simpsons×225.png, provided by Jgurian’s blog, shows the perception of cat lovers as something much different than how we’re viewed today.  Cat lovers were once viewed as weird people, who should best be avoided, and prefer the company of our feline friends.  It is my intention however, to show my reader’s that the view of cat lovers has changed over the years to something entirely different.  I will explain in detail, why this change has occurred, and provide examples that prove that cat lovers around the world are no longer viewed as crazy, obsessive people.  Rather they are viewed as trendy, quirky and unique individuals.

In our dog-centric society, dog owners are usually seen as normal individuals, where as cat owners are seen as eccentric, and bizarre.  Case in point, this video (  This video, which is viral and has over 28 million views, shows a single woman posting a video to her dating blog.  However she kind of loses her grip on reality, and the purpose of the video and starts divulging her love for cats.  Videos like this don’t exactly help the view that cat lovers are crazy individuals, if anything it enhances the opposition’s views.  However as crazy as this lady may seem, it also goes to show how unique, and quirky she is.  This opinion is shared by not only me, but by many viewers of this video.

People who commented on this video for the most part complimented her uniqueness and tenderness towards cats.  As a fellow cat lover I can relate to the creator of this video.  Although it is only a short glance into her life, she displays uniqueness, and has her very own quirky qualities that so many cat lovers share.  It makes you question, are all cat lovers insane, and obsessive about cats or is this just how people are, and they’ve chosen to display their affection in a way that seems strange to us?  I strongly believe that the perception of cat lovers has shifted, and that being someone who loves cats is now sort of the trendy, hip thing to do.  Through my research, and thinking about writing my paper I thought about why the perception has changed, and what caused this change.

While I was conducting my research into cats, and the people whom love them I noticed that the majority of my research was being done online.  I visited the library to try to look for things like comics, or maybe an article about cat lovers but unfortunately came up blank.  However, the Internet is teeming with cat memes, YouTube videos, GIFS and even whole websites dedicated to cats and their devoted followers., for instance is an entire website that is devoted to comedy involving cats and the people who love them, and I’m proud to say it is probably one of my favorite websites.  It really appeals to me, and fellow cat lovers alike and the reason for that is its unique and quirky, much like us.  Cat lovers are everywhere and abundant.  Just do a quick Google search of “cat lovers” it will turn up articles, websites and YouTube videos trying to appeal to us cat lovers?  If you go to these cat loving websites like, or you will notice advertisements all over the pages.  What you may also notice, like myself, is that the vast majority of these ads are related to, or targeting women.  This is no coincidence I assume, because think of a cat lover; go ahead I’ll wait.  All done?  Did you think of a quirky hipster type person, who happened to be a woman?  Chances are you did, and chances are you’re right.  Professionals who are targeting a specific audience carefully place these advertisements on these websites.  Professional ad agencies understand that the perception of cat lovers has changed from the image portrayed by TV shows like the Simpsons, into something much more complex and diverse.

Another one of my artifacts is a YouTube video titled, “12 reasons why cat people are crazy awesome.”  The video which was made by the popular comedy website, is about how cat owners are different from other pet owners.  The first thing I noticed about this video was a catchy melody, and lots of pictures of cats.  The video is defiantly pro cat owner, and lists reasons as to why cat owners are better than other pet owners.  It suggests that cat owners are healthier, and modest people, who are more likely to find love.  While there are no hard statistics to prove this data, I couldn’t find anything that discredited it either. Something that really caught my attention in this video was that cat owners are more likely to be romantically involved in other cat owners.  Maybe we just understand each other better.    Overall this video portrayed cat lovers as quirky, unique individuals who are a lot different from other pet owners.  Don’t take my word for it however; go check it out for yourself.

My third artifact is a spoof video.  It pokes fun at those prescription drug commercials.  The video’s purpose is to “sell” a drug named Fellinopril.  Fellinopril is for people who are addicted to cats, and want to get their “addiction” under control.  I watched this video over and over again; it made me laugh uncontrollably throughout.  Like the other videos, and cat lovers alike this video was very quirky, my favorite part was when one of the side effects listed was “the subconscious urge to purr, and burry your waste in sand.”  Thankfully cat lovers don’t tend to have those problems, I hope, but it further illustrates my point that cat lovers are unique and quirky individuals.  Check out the video for some great laughs,

You may have started to sense a pattern to my paper, the pattern being that cat lovers are quirky, and are thus viewed as being quirky in today’s society.  I think that the view shifted from the crazy cat lady portrayed by the Simpsons to the quirky individual because of websites, and memes alike.  I think that ultimately who changed the way society views cat people today, were cat people themselves.  I believe they were tired of the negative stereotypes being portrayed, and they took it upon themselves to change it.

I realize that cat people’s opinions on cat lovers are varied from person to person.  Some people still view cat lovers as crazy, and obsessive people, rather than quirky.  According to, it was recently discovered that cat lovers are most likely more introverted, and reserved compared to owners of other animals.  Cat lovers are on the rise, and the negative stereotype associated with owning a cat is on the decline.  According to, cat ownership exceeds dog ownership 95 million, to 83 million.  Chances are you could think of someone you know who owns a cat, and who is in fact not crazy.

In summary the negative view of cats, and the people who own them is on the decline.  Above I have given examples of both sides of the coin.  I have shown you examples of the “crazy” cat lovers, for instance the famous crazy cat lady from the Simpsons.  I have also shown you the quirkiness of cat lovers, which is often mistaken for being crazy.  I have shown you YouTube videos, and websites that show the quirkiness I speak of as well.  You can also look at certain websites like the, which shows that cat ownership is becoming a serious trend. 95 million people in the United States own at least one cat, more than any other animal ownership.  These 95 million are unique in their own ways, and can confidently say they aren’t crazy cat lovers; cat lovers all around the world are continuing to change the view of cat lovers from something negative, and scary into something positive and quirky.  Just like cats.

The Female Addict in Visual Media

Addiction, drugs, and the addict have been around since the beginning of time. Whether addicted to tobacco, alcohol, or heroin, all cause harm to the body and mind. Once media became more advanced, people of all kinds were being represented in visual media; film, television, and eventually, the internet. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “in 2012 there were 156,000 persons aged 12 or older who had used heroin for the first time within the past 12 months.” Females are less likely to use illicit drugs than males (Substance…”). Females are represented in a different light than males no matter what they may be representing in popular culture media. When it comes to drug addiction, talking mainly about heroin and opiate addiction, females are usually seen using their bodies to get money to get drugs or trading themselves, sexually, to get the drugs themselves. Just because film and television show female addicts in this light, does not mean this is always true and we will take a look at a few different movies, SpunRequiem for a DreamCandy, and a few episodes of the television show Breaking Bad. Only a couple episodes of Breaking Bad fit into the topic for this essay, the ones in focus involve the character Jesse Pinkman’s girlfriend, Jane Margolis.
In the film, Requiem for a Dream, actress Jennifer Connelly plays one of the most daring roles of her career, that of a women named Marion Silver, a young woman with the world at the palm of her hands until drugs overcame anything she ever was. The movie takes place through three seasons, summer, fall and autumn, starting out with dreams and a passion to open a clothing store featuring her designs, to completely unraveling life due to increase drug use. Marion’s first encounter of sexual exchange is when her boyfriend, Harry Goldfarb, played by Jared Leto, convinces her to have sex with her psychiatrist in exchange for money. After that, things for Marion quickly fall apart. There is a scene in which Marion meets with a pimp named Little John and she performs a sexual act on him in exchange for money or drugs, the movie doesn’t specify what exactly. After the scene is over Marion is seen in fetal position, head submerged under water, in a drawn bath, trying to “clean” herself of what she’s done, screaming under water, a very powerful scene. This movie portrays everything negative about female drug use. Roger Ebert wrote a review of the film and sums up what an addict feels the moment the drug overcomes their body, no matter what way their method of use is.

“What is fascinating about “Requiem for a Dream,” the new film by Darren Aronofsky, is how well he portrays the mental states of his addicts. When they use, a window opens briefly into a world where everything is right. Then it slides shut, and life reduces itself to a search for the money and drugs to open it again. Nothing else is remotely as interesting” (Ebert).
The reason I quoted this entire paragraph from the review is because he really sums up how a drug addict lives their life, everyday, no matter what else is going on in the world or in their life, this comes first, the drug comes before everything and everyone. Marion lives her life like this, the drug even comes before her own body, her mind, and soul (Aronofsky). As a woman who has overcome drug addiction, specifically opiate addiction, Marion doesn’t portray every female addict, not all use their body for drugs or money. Another false portrayal of all female addicts or addicts in general is that there is nothing positive going on in their lives. For example, I first used in my senior year of high school and battled addiction for quite a few years before conquering it altogether. Throughout my entire addiction I took care of myself financially, always had a job, graduated high school with great grades, and went off to community college and then headed to a university.
I knew no matter what I searched through popular culture media that I would get the same sort of portrayals of female addicts because that is what sales in film; sad, depressing, drama filled movies. As I kept searching female addicts in popular culture media, I was reminded of the television show, Breaking Bad. Most of this series focuses on methamphetamine production, use, and distribution. However, during season 2 Jane is introduced to the show, Jesse’s landlord and soon to be girlfriend. While the show doesn’t feature much about Jane herself, she still portrays the same kind of female addict any other popular culture media would feature a female addict other than using her body for drugs or money (she didn’t need to because Jesse sold drugs and made enough for them both). A movie that portrays female addicts in the same light as Breaking Bad is the movie Spun directed by Jonas Åkerlund. This movie is a little different than the others featured in this essay because this movie is all about methamphetamine, not opiates or heroin. However there are a few different female addicts featured in this movie; Nikki played by Brittany Murphy and Cookie played by Mena Suvari, both are out of character roles for the actresses due to the harsh reality of female addicts. These female addicts are similar to Jane in Breaking Bad because none of the three are shown or hinted of using sex or their bodies for drugs or money. This is one of those films that if you have never been around drugs or know anything about them besides what you see on TV, you might not understand these women and how there seems to be no point to the movie. I particularly love the character Nikki; she has more to herself than just the drugs. She wants to get out of that lifestyle and be reunited with her son again. In Requiem for a Dream and Spun, no other female character shows the actual courage to begin the process of restarting their life as Nikki does and that is a powerful, hard thing to do when addicted to drugs. Maybe she appealed to me in the sense that a little bit of her reminded me of myself, not all the craziness her life revolved around but that flicker of hope still inside her heart that there is something better, her life is worth living, and she will fight for it one way or another and that flicker, no matter how small it may be, is what will carry you through to the other side of the dark, cold, lonely, drug addiction (Åkerlund).
After reading, watching, and researching female drug addiction, it can start to drain you. There seems to be a lot of “no hope” type of movies. That was until I watched the movie, Candy, a marvelous Australian movie starring Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish playing Dan and Candy. Although this movie pulls at the audience heart, you can’t help but cheer for Dan and Candy to work through this life they have created for themselves, a drug infested, so called, life. The movie is organized in three acts, Heaven, Earth, and Hell. While this movie is centered on the relationship between Candy and Dan, I am specifically looking at Candy. In Heaven, Candy is a young art student, beautiful blonde, the apple of her father’s eye. Drugs and sex are a part of the young couple’s life. In earth, reality starts to sink in of the severity of the addiction for Candy. She starts prostituting to be able to buy drugs for her and Dan. She ends up getting pregnant by Dan and they make an effort to get clean but the baby does not make it. Hell; Candy looses herself, the drugs have taken such a mental and emotional toll on Candy she has a complete mental breakdown and ends up getting the help she needs and gets clean. I love this movie; it shows the hope that is out there for any female struggling with addiction. I relate the most to Candy because she looked normal, she wanted a better life for herself, and struggled to finally get that life back (Armfield). There is nothing pretty or glamorous about addiction but it doesn’t have to be a death sentence or the end of the story. My story has only begun.
Works Cited
Primary Sources: 
Åkerlund, Jonas, dir. Spun. Prod. Timothy Peternel, Danny Vinik, and Chris Hanley. Newmarket Capital Group, 2002. Film. 23 Feb 2014.
Aronofsky, Darren, dir. Requiem for a Dream. Prod. Palmer West, and Prod. Eric Watson.           Artisan Entertainment, 2000. Film. 23 Feb 2014.
Armfield, Neil, dir. Candy. Prod. Margaret Fink, and Emily Sherman. Renaissance Films, 2006.   Film. 23 Feb 2014.
Secondary Sources:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-46, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4795. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental            Health Services Administration, 2013.
Ebert, Roger. “Requiem for a Dream.” Roger Ebert. Ebert Digital LLC, 03 Nov 2000. Web. 24 Feb 2014. <;.


Becoming an Individual

Alexandra Young

Popular Culture

Becoming an Individual

We all share this world with seven billion other people, which can seem extremely overwhelming when trying to stand out as an individual especially with the influence of pop culture looming everywhere you turn. How many different identities could there possibly be in a society where the media is in control of the population? When it all comes down to each of us as individuals, it’s not necessarily about what identity you choose, but what identity chooses you. It’s about finding whatever identities you feel a connection with and making them your own. Everyone has the chance to define their own unique selves despite the media’s influence. I personally believe that a person cannot simply choose a single identity. There are a collection of identities that make up each of us in a unique thread of characteristics that no one else could ever recreate. For the purpose of this essay however, I have chosen to elaborate on part of my identity as a college student, and how the media has affected that part of me. The “college life” that I am now living is much different from the “college life” I had expected based on what the media portrayed it as.

A lot of different media artifacts had influenced me before I experienced college for myself, but one of the most prominent was the TV show Undeclared. I watched it a lot during the summer before I attended PSU which made it interesting to compare the media’s version of the first year of college to the real life version. In the TV show, the main characters were constantly worried about what parties were coming up and which fraternities to apply for. The only time education was a factor was when there was a big paper or a midterm that was put off until the last minute and a montage of coffee drinking and hasty studying followed as they tried to get their work done in time to turn in the next morning. Although I too have suffered a fair amount of all night projects, I have never been too concerned with the party scene. A lot of this has to do with the fact that PSU is a more dignified school made up of generally mature people with education as their highest priority.

One aspect of Undeclared that I have found to be somewhat true was the separation of students into individual cliques. My second artifact really focused on this subject. It is a YouTube video called Wicked Accurate College Stereotypes made by two female college students who playfully act out the many different college cliques. They covered nerds, jocks, preps, stoners, and many more. The way they acted out each part was exaggerated and meant solely for entertainment, but there was some truth in it. Students do tend to identify with groups of people that share the same interests as them such as school work, video games, sports, art and so on. Finding this sense of belonging is what everyone yearns for, especially in a new environment such as a college campus, so although the aspect of a clique may seem stereotypical, it is often accurate. The media may have created or influenced these cliques, but at some point the media didn’t have to do anything but support the reality that it had created.

My final artifact was an educational video called College Life that was made up of real student interviews giving advice and sharing their experiences of what college life really is all about. Most of what they talk about has to do with financial struggles and the fear of not getting hired after graduating. A lot of them also elaborated on how scary the first year of college can be right out of high school since it is usually the first time that students start living on their own. Getting used to doing your work on time and going to class without being told while also trying to fit into an entirely new group of students can be difficult for some people. A few of the interviews even talked about past roommates or classmates that they knew who committed suicide due to the pressure. Things that are often glazed over in the media are usually what affect people the most in real life.

In each of our lives we will all encounter many obstacles. The way that we choose to overcome these obstacles is what builds our true identities over time. A lot of who we are will be influenced by the media since it is everywhere you look. This can also affect how we are raised and what we believe, but we each have the opportunity to be whoever we want based on our outlook on life. In this world of so many individuals, we should all try to stand out as the best people we can be.

Sources Cited

Apatow, Judd, dir. Undeclared. Fox: Television.

Frayer, Ariana. Wicked Accurate College Stereotypes. 2013. Video. YoutubeWeb.             <;.

Hamilton, Patrice. College Life. 2013. Video. Films Media GroupWeb.             <;.

Artists in Pop Culture

Allie Michelotti

Pop Culture

Mirror Essay



Messy hair, weird clothes, individualistic- “artists” are represented in our pop culture as the outcast, someone who is extremely different than those around them. They are constantly faced with obstacles to overcome. Whether in TV or film, the “artist” identity is portrayed with these similarities. In this paper I am going to discuss the characteristics that create this identity, and how that has impacted my life as an actual artist.


The first character I want to analyze is “Katherine Watson” from Mona Lisa Smile. Katherine is an art teacher from the West coast who decides to pack up and head to one of the most conservative schools on the East coast. She easily stands out because of the way she dresses, thinks, and teaches. She was labeled progressive, and too different to be successful. At one point she is threatened to lose her position if she keeps acting the way she has been- basically for being herself. But Katherine is dedicated to making a difference. She is a strong, confident character and able to stay true to herself, despite extreme opposition. She asks her students to actually think for themselves, and not just give the answer they have been trained to spit out. Katherine is seen as the movie’s hero, and savior to these girls. By challenging them to look past the surface, her students realize that there is so much more to art than meets the eye, and what is explained in an old art history book. With this mindset, her students are able to look at their entire lives differently. Not only did this teacher impact the way these girls experienced art, but also the way they wanted to live life.


Just like “Katherine,” “Pam Beesly” from The Office experiences her own set of struggles and obstacles she must overcome. In this TV show Pam is a receptionist- not what she really wants to be doing. She experiences a great struggle to find her artistic voice, and ultimately her own voice as a human being. It is difficult for her to pursue her creativity because there is always something in the way. Pam doesn’t get a lot of support from those around her, her boyfriend doesn’t want her to apply to art school because there is “no guarantee of a job after.” All of these things add up to a very insecure, meek, struggling character who knows what she wants, but is too afraid to chase it. I think this might be reflected in the way she dresses also- pretty conservative for an ‘artist,’ with collared shirts, baby blue and pink sweaters, very clean and neat. There is a point in the life of Pam Beesly where she overcomes these obstacles and finally says what she has been meaning to say all these years. In “The Beach” episode, Pam speaks out to her entire group of co-workers. She is confident, not afraid, and declares what she wants to in the moment she needed to. She rises above her old self, and transforms into this new strong character full of drive. You can tell it was difficult for Pam to muster up the courage to speak out like that in front of the entire group- something she had been trying to do for years. She doesn’t make direct eye contact at first, but towards the end of her declaration she speaks directly to them. Her words gain power as she says them with more authority and strength. Even Pam says, “Wow, I feel really good right now,” (The Office). She overcomes the opposition that terrorized her and kept her captive for so many years, coming out of her shell into the person she was born to be. After this she has a new-found confidence that carries over into all aspects of her life. Pam begins to pursue her art, and is not afraid with what the outcome may be. She found her voice.


“Gabrielle Chanel” (Coco Before Chanel) was also someone who had a rough start. She was abandoned by her father at a young age, so right off the bat she had to learn how to be the provider for herself and sister. That is a very difficult thing for a child to do. As a result, we see her character as a strong, independent individual. She also starts out not doing the thing she ultimately ends up pursuing and absolutely loving it. One of her first jobs is singing and dancing at her local bar. She also sewed the costumes she wore while performing. It wasn’t until she met a very rich man who supplied her with an opportunity to pursue her creative side, and thrive. What started out as designing hats turned into one of the most famous and successful fashion designers. The movie ends with a hero and a triumph. Coco was able to overcome the opposition that faced her life and rise above it. Proving what a strong and determined individual her character is.


What are the messages being told here? How are the ways these artists are being represented affecting us? I found a lot of similarities within all three characters. I feel the biggest meaning we can draw from these representations is that all artists are faced with some sort of opposition, and triumphantly defeat it. “Katherine” was placed in an environment of people who didn’t like the person she was because she was different, and wasn’t allowed to teach the way she knew how. “Pam” spent years as a slave to her own insecurity, never being able to speak up for herself. “Coco” was left alone by her parent, she had to grow up all on her own and learn everything herself with no one to guide her. Despite these challenges all three characters overcame them and arose victorious. “Katherine” successfully created a lasting change at the school and in the hearts and minds of her students. “Pam” was able to find her voice, and as a result, found herself. “Coco” rose above her circumstances to pursue her creative desires and became successful in her form.


The artists portrayed in the movies and TV shows are surrounded by people who don’t believe in them or don’t support their ambitions. There is opposition to the direction they want to take their life. These characters are misunderstood- no one understands what they’re feeling or going through. Because of this they find it difficult to find their artistic voice. These artists are living in a community of non-artists so they experience a struggle to find themselves and creativity. What is the meaning we derive from this? If you are an artist, you are going to be surrounded with people who don’t think anything like you, and will therefore completely misunderstand your goals and aspirations. It is going to be a challenge to express your voice as an artist because not a lot of people will be there to support you along the way. But with this struggle to find yourself comes great triumph and even greater victories. All of the characters I have analyzed ended in great successes. They grew, became determined, strong, confident, and powerful.


In my own experience as an artist I will admit that some of the representations found in pop culture are true. We do face a different set of obstacles than other people. And we sometimes feel misunderstood with those who are not like-minded. I don’t know if the struggle is as extreme as it is represented. I will say it is important to have your own voice as an artist. You need to know who you are, and that will carry through to your art and all other areas of life. But the extreme struggle and opposition might be taken a little too far. I also think it’s offensive that the artists in pop culture are oftentimes seen as people who can’t hold down a job, or are very unprofessional. I have to wholeheartedly disagree with that. That is a definite generalization, certainly not all artists are like this.


I think there a lot of us in the art community who are upset with the way artists have been represented in pop culture, because it is not always an accurate reflection of reality. An interesting blog post I discovered brought up a good point about how artist stereotypes are used for entertainment: “These stereotypes, the classic role of the artist, are entertaining. They intrigue readers and moviegoers. That said, the stereotypes have infiltrated beyond the realm of mere entertainment. These stereotypes have been used against artists by politicians and others who are in positions that can impact the arts in general,” (Discuss: Stomping out artist stereotypes). The writer talks about the negative impact these stereotypes have had on the art community, because a lot of actual artists do not fit the mold that these stereotypes have become. The ‘classic role of the artist’ as the writer states, are just not always true. Artists in reality are able to be professional, on time, and have direction.


Overall I think we all have a similar idea of what an ‘artist’ looks like, talks like, and acts like. This identity has been created by stereotypes repeated over and over again in TV shows and movies throughout pop culture. Although some content is hopeful and positive, I think the majority of the ‘artist’ identity is seen as a tortured soul faced with extreme opposition and little support for who they are. I believe that the art community can move past this and prove to be a determined, creative, professional group of people. Despite all the stereotyping portrayed in the media, actual artists prove to be someone different.

Teen Mom’s in Popular Culture

Alejandra Hernandez
Professor: Daneen
Teen Mother in Popular Culture

We all have seen many young women between the ages of fourteen to eighteen years becoming pregnant. Teen Pregnancy is something that has been around for ages, and isn’t all that uncommon now day in our society. Teen Moms are often portrayed in a negative light in popular culture media; however, some artifacts in today’s popular culture media are beginning to change those negative stereotypes. There are some common stereotypes that stick out about teen moms. A lot of the time they are portrayed as being high school drop outs, drug-addicts, and being irresponsible. According to some of our popular culture media, teen moms may not know how to care for their children. While teen moms are often portrayed in a negative light through reality shows, some artifacts are changing those negative stereotypes.

Personally, being a teen mom myself has been a challenge but it has shaped who I am today as a person. I got pregnant when I was 16 years old and still in high school. I still remember all the negative stereotypes that were portrayed in my school from teachers and from students as well. One teacher asked me if I was going to drop out from high school, because I was pregnant. I laughed and said “Even though I am pregnant that does not mean I am going to drop out just like other people do”. I know that she did not believe me but I knew to myself that I was capable of finishing school. As the months passed by, my delivery was getting closer and I had time to plan things out before I had my baby. After I had my baby, I manage school and motherhood at the same time. When I graduated I was able to show everyone that I was capable of finishing school while being a young mom. I think that all the negative stereotypes that were portrayed were false, and I prove everyone wrong. My experience as a teen mom, has been great, I have been capable of taking care of my daughter and keeping up with school work. In my opinion, being a teen mom is difficult but I think that it makes you a better person and a more responsible adult.

Teen Mom is a reality show viewed on MTV that has opened up to society what a teenage mother goes through as she raises her first child.” The show presents four teenage girls, who are now eighteen, struggling with money, school, and dating as well as dealing with insecurities, their parents, the father of their children and for a couple and a mother and daughter, domestic violence,” which says a lot about how teen moms are portrayed in popular culture media. This show has had the criticism of paying these girls in order to let people into their lives and see how they live is only in the beginning of their reality show world. Teen mom has affected the society’s perception of teen pregnancy.

Teen Mom reflects how the media has changed the way society views teen pregnancy as whole, because of the way it has “glamorized the lives of these young mothers by having them as a star in a reality show, getting paid thousands per episode, and living a celeb-reality life by making public appearances and doing various broadcast and published interviews.” This makes them sound like they are just there for the fame and to get money and that is exactly how these girls are portrayed in this show. Personally, I think that this are negative stereotypes that teen mom is getting, since all the girls act so dramatic as the episodes keep on going,

One show that does the opposite of portraying negative stereotypes about teen moms is 16& Pregnant, which is also shown on MTV. This are rarer and harder to find, because it highlights the difference of those negative stereotypes, and it gives a more accurate portrayal.This show also shows the lives of four young women who are dealing with pressures of “being teenage mothers, and along with the struggles of everyday life like, going to school, maintaining a social life, and a love life. “ This show shows the challenges teen parents have to face when having children at an early age.

16& Pregnant focuses on the difficulties of raising a child at such a young age, which make these four girls struggle throughout the episodes. This show allows these young girls to see how they feel about being a mom, and make them become more responsible adults. In one of the episodes, one of the girls accepts her unintended child and makes him wanted and grows to be a responsible mother, which I think shows the positive outcomes of teen pregnancy. I think that there are differences between unintended and unwanted pregnancies. Teenage pregnancies are unintended but it does not mean the child is unwanted, depending on the support system the mom and child get in the surrounding environment.

One born every minute is another reality show, about teen pregnancy. It starts off with Janet and Ralph who are both eighteen and recently married. They are also having their first unplanned baby. This show looks at the drama and emotion of a maternity unit, from the parents to be and the maternity staff. Even though this show is different than the other two, it also shows the different stereotypes that are often portrayed.

It is important to point out that these shows are popular amongst young viewers because it shows the drama and difficulties of being a teen parent. The successful television series lets viewers in on the lives of these young parents and how having children has affected them. These shows were originally broadcasted as a way of diverting young women’s desire to be pregnant. I think that all these tv. shows show how one can have a difficult time raising a child at such a young age, but it also shows how one can become a responsible adult.

While teen moms are often portrayed in a negative light in today’s popular culture, some TV shows are beginning to recognize that these stereotypes are often not true. The shows Teen Mom, 16& Pregnant, and One Born Every Minute are just a few media artifacts that give teen moms a chance to be represented in a more positive view rather than negative.

 Work Cited

Dolgen, Lauren. “Teen Mom› Main.” Teen Mom. N.p., 8 Dec. 2009. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.
Dolgen, Lauren. “MTV’s 16 and Pregnant› Main.” MTV’s 16 and Pregnant. N.p., 11 June 2009. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.
Hartley, Steven. “One Born Every Minute.” Channel 4. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.

I Am a Pacific Islander

Popular culture can easily influence people’s perspective into what a movie, television show, or ad is displaying.  Different races have been portrayed through media for years and have created numerous stereotypes for almost every single race.  However, are the stereotypes true?  Do people actually believe the stereotypes that popular culture portrays?  From what viewers see, they start to believe what pop culture is showing them, regardless of the accuracy of the portrayal of certain races.  One race that has been both positively and negatively stereotyped through many television shows and movies is Pacific Islanders.  In media, “Pacific Islanders—particularly Polynesians—are portrayed as a simple people lacking in complexity, intellect, or ambition. Acting always as a group, Pacific characters can be seen running, fishing, or eating..,” (Representations of Pacific Islanders in Film and Video, Hereniko).  Everyone that watches movies or television shows based on pacific islanders have different perspectives of pacific islanders afterwards.  Some, but not all Pacific Islanders see movies that depict themselves to be incorrect and some may even get offended while watching.  Then when non-Pacific Islanders watch movies portraying Pacific Islanders, they believe almost every detail from pop culture’s idea about Pacific Islanders to be accurate. Three movies that are great pop culture examples that portray stereotypes of pacific islanders and their lifestyles are Lilo and Stitch, Hawaii Five-0, and 50 First Dates.

In the Disney movie, Lilo and Stitch, directed by Dean Deblois, it is the story about a friendship between a little Hawaiian girl named Lilo and her pet, Stitch.  Through hard times in her life, Lilo finds ways to get her family and herself through them.  There are many stereotypes of pacific islanders all throughout this film.  Many scenes showed Lilo, Stitch, her older sister Nani, and Nani’s friend, David, at the beach.  One scene in particular showed all four characters spending a day at the beach surfing.  Each of them can surf and this can create a stereotype in viewers’ minds that all Pacific Islanders can surf.  However, not everyone has the skill or interest to surf.  “Hawaii has great weather year-round and has great waves for surfing, but not everyone that lives in Hawaii grew up around surf. For people that live in the city, the beach is not that close” (5 Common Misconceptions About Hawaii, Lum).  Another stereotype that could be created in this movie is the freedom that Pacific Islander children have.  In many parts of the movie, Lilo goes to different places around the island by herself or with Stitch.  She is rarely accompanied by Nani when she goes to places and seems really comfortable with her surroundings.  One aspect that could lead Lilo to feel comfortable enough to go around the island by herself is the community that she lives in.  Pacific Islanders are always looking out for other locals and will do anything for them.  From experience, I can approve that the stereotype of Pacific Islander children being free to go wherever, whenever is not true.  I was not even allowed to leave the house unless I could get permission to do so.  Even if I could leave the house, the only reason I wanted to go outside was to go to my best friend’s house and she was my neighbor.  Moving on, although there are many children who live on a small island such as Kauai, actual Pacific Islander children are always with some type of guardian or caretaker.  Even in this loveable Disney movie, the characters and their lifestyles create a few stereotypes about Pacific Islanders

The television show, Hawaii Five-0, produced by Leonard Freeman is about a police officer named Steve McGarret and his return to Hawaii to find out who killed his father.  He is joined by his Honolulu police force team—Chin Ho Kelly, Danny “Danno” Williams, and Kono Kalakaua.  Throughout the seasons, one common aspect that can be heard is the use of the pacific islander slang, “pigeon.”  This slang is used amongst many locals and Pacific Islanders and has been around for quite a while.  For example, a phrase such as “How are you doing?” is equivalent to the “pigeon” slang, “Howzit?”  So in the television show, a lot of the characters speak “pigeon,” but they do it in an excessive manor to the point that it is irritating.  People who do not live in an area where they are not used to hearing “pigeon” will not mind hearing the overuse of it, but locals and Pacific Islanders will see or hear things differently.  From living in an environment where people speak “pigeon,” I can say that not a lot of people speak that way 24/7.   Pacific Islanders have an on and off switch for speaking “pigeon” and know when speaking in our slang is appropriate such as in an interview or being in an environment where people do not know “pigeon.”  When Pacific Islanders hear other Pacific Islanders speak “pigeon,” it sounds natural, but when people who do not speak the local slang try to speak like locals, it becomes weird and irritating.  Viewers watching this television show will most likely conclude that Pacific Islanders speak in a slang that is almost hard to understand.  This could then potentially lead to the stereotype that Pacific Islanders are dumb and cannot speak correctly.  From this show, the stereotype that can be created of Pacific Islanders is that they like to speak in a slang that is almost incomprehensible.

Directed by Peter Segal, the movie, 50 First Dates, is about a man trying to make a woman fall in love him even though she suffers from memory loss and forgets about him at the end of each day.  The setting of this movie is in Hawaii with a lot of greenery, ocean, and sun.  Adam Sandler’s character, Henry Roth, works at Sea Life Park with different animals such as penguins and walruses.  While living and working in Hawaii, he met his friend, Ula, along the way.  The way that this movie portrays Ula is as a tan, short, chubby, and crazy Pacific Islander.  He walks around with either an aloha shirt or he goes shirtless, shorts, and rubber slippers.  Ula has five children and a very big Pacific Islander wife.  The children seem wild and the wife looks grouchy and intimidating.  Viewers that watch this movie would think that male Pacific Islanders walk around and look like Ula, women are big and intimidating, and “local kids hang out all day in the sun instead of going to school” (  However, being a Pacific Islander, I can say that this isn’t the truth.  Pacific Islander men do not walk around without a shirt unless they are homeless, not all of them are fat, and not every man wears aloha shirts.  As for Pacific Islander women, not all of them are big and intimidating.  Most women may look intimidating, but they can be some of the most compassionate women.  Pacific Islander children are not wild, but instead they are some of the most relaxed, laid-back kids.  Altogether, watching this movie can create a stereotype in viewers’ minds that Pacific Islander families have big family members, are intimidating, and contain a lot of children.

Certain pop culture media that portrays Pacific Islanders can influence viewers’ perspectives on how they see pacific islanders.  From the stereotype of all Pacific Islanders being able to surf to the stereotype that all Pacific Islanders wear aloha shirts, non-Pacific Islanders believe them all thanks to movies and television shows portraying Pacific Islanders.  Most Pacific Islanders see movies such as the ones that I explained as mostly inaccurate, but at the same time interesting to watch because the show/movie takes place in Hawaii.  However, when others watch movies that have Pacific Islanders involved, they believe that how the actors are acting is how Pacific Islanders behave on a daily basis.  In my perspective, I do not find the way that pop culture is portraying Pacific Islanders to be seen negatively.  I actually find some of the scenes to be humorous!  In all, pop culture portrays Pacific Islanders to be an intimidating, slang speaking, and adventurous people.

















Works Cited


Freeman, Leonard, prod. Hawaii Five-0. CBS. Honolulu, Hawaii, 2010. Television.


Hereniko, Vilsoni. “Representations of Pacific Islanders in Film and Video.” YIDFF.          Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2014.      <;.


“Hula and Luaus.” TvTropes. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.            <;.


Lum, Ron. “5 Common Misconceptions About Hawaii.” The Hawaii Plan. N.p., 2012.     Web. 23 Feb. 2014. <          about-hawaii/>.


Lilo and Stitch.  Dir. Dean Deblois, Dir. Chris Sanders.  Disney, 2002.



Freeman, Leonard, prod. Hawaii Five-0. CBS. Honolulu, Hawaii, 2010. Television.



50 First Dates.  Dir. Peter Segal.  Columbia, 2004.



The Progression of the Televised Homosexual

In 2012 during a meet the press interview, Vice President Joe Biden had this to say on the subject of same-sex couples, “When things really began to change is when the social culture changes. I think ‘Will & Grace’ probably did more to educate the American public than almost anybody’s ever done so far. People fear that which is different. Now they’re beginning to understand” (Eldridge). Biden, like many other public figures has changed strategies in reaching out to a new generation. Instead of preaching about the change we have had culturally since Stonewall, they focus on what we know – television. The entertainment industry holds a strong social power over the American youth. What television implements into its nightly programming is often implemented into society. American programming has come a long way since pioneers Ricky Vasquez (My So-Called Life) and Ellen Degenerous (Ellen) came out in our living rooms. Nearly every popular network now features ensemble casts that contain homosexual characters – and not the 90’s version of the concept, but the reality. The generalization of the overly flamboyant and very effeminate gay man has now become a part of television history and is no longer television reality.


copyright ABC, 1994.

On September 8th, 1994 ABC broadcast the My So-Called Life episode “Guns and Gossip.” Those sitting down to watch the show had no idea they were about to watch television history. Openly bisexual (and later homosexual) character Rickie takes the blame for a gun that went off in school; although, he was not the one to bring the firearm. His reasoning for doing so was to let word get around that he carried a weapon. He wanted this piece of gossip to spread so that those who bullied him would maybe become apprehensive and leave him alone (Tanner, MSCL). The reason this episode would become so iconic is because it was the first television program to focus on the very real problem of homosexual hate crimes. The early 1990’s were plagued by such, with there even being an “Anti-Gay Serial Killer” being on the loose in Georgia (Gary Ray Bowles). There were also a large number of adolescent suicides due to bullying for sexual orientation. The number of fatalities from self-inflicted harm and homicides from 1990 through 1994 within America is hundreds (Vassar, 1999). This one episode made the public listen. It took a very serious issue that wasn’t receiving enough media attention and put it on blast. Within the gay community – the televised episode was still appreciated – however, the effeminate generalization was made even larger amongst American culture.


Copyright Comedy Central, 2010.

Another popular television show took a role in shaping the generalization of homosexuals in 2007. The Sarah Silverman Program which features an ensemble cast of five. Within the five protagonists, there is a same-sex couple. Sarah Silverman who also wrote and created the show modeled the two men after several gay friends of hers. The characters are shown to be very masculine, not well-dressed, and into rock music and videos. This helped break the trend in television programs by only showing the stereotyped gay man. Although the program was on Comedy Central, the LGBT network LOGO ended up as a second producer for the third season in support of the shows challenging of the gay male stereotype. This was not the only groundbreaking component of how the show featured alternative lifestyles, but it also touched down on same-sex marriage. The show which took place in California poked at the government’s prop 8 in holding off on marriage licenses. On February 25th, 2010 the show broadcast episode “NightMayor.” The episode depicted an uneducated, unconstitutional mayor that was on a warpath against same-sex marriage – putting a ban on it (Harmon, Sarah Silverman). In the episode the same-sex couple was ultimately able to get married (this being the first television show presenting a same-sex marriage); however; it would take three more years after the episode aired for the state of California to overturn prop 8, and start issuing same-sex marriage licenses again. Not only did the Sarah Silverman Program work on eliminating generalizations, but it also took a political stance and used humor to broadcast the very real problems that same-sex couples in America were (and still are) facing.

Copyright Showtime, 2012.

Copyright Showtime, 2012.

 The United States of Tara aired on Showtime between 2009 and 2011. The show focused around a seemingly normal family, except the mother who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple personality disorder). There is her husband, a construction worker, and her two teenagers. One of whom is gay. The interesting thing about the homosexual character in this show – Marshall – is that no one really acknowledges it. It is very nonchalant. The entire family knows, as do his peers, but it is something that has always been that way. Early on in season one the son and father are talking about how the son never really had to “come out.” Everyone just always knew and accepted it (Cody, US of Tara). Just like with any ensemble cast featuring teens, we see them deal with drugs, alcohol, sex and dating. The only difference is that with the male teen, Marshall, we see it from a homosexual’s perspective. The character is also unique in that he is not the stereotypical homosexual male. He is his own identity, and is not characterized by his orientation. The show premiered fifteen years after My So-Called Life was broadcast, and in that time television has finally progressed to represent that reality of being a homosexual in today’s society. Diablo Cody (writer of United States of Tara) has received praise from critics for her seemingly obvious and truly realistic, but never-done-before portrayal of a teenage homosexual in America.

I’ve been fortunate in that I have grown up in a progressive city in progressive times. I can’t help but wonder had I been born a homosexual male in another city or another time what my life might have been like. Sure people have made me subject of generalizations by assuming that I must like pop music and must sleep around. It is not uncommon for me to hear statements like, “you’re not like most gay guys.” I never know how to take this. I know plenty of queer people and not one of them is exactly the same – as goes for heterosexual people. Occasionally I have been picked on for what I am, but unlike Rickie Vasquez, I never felt the need to make people thing I possessed a gun. It would seem my adolescence would most resemble Marshalls – it being just a part of who I am.  I’ve had many friends tell me that I am their first homosexual friend, or that they didn’t know any gay people until college. These people were never uncomfortable with me. They never challenged who I am and what my beliefs are. I can’t help but think pop culture had a part in the wider range of acceptance for homosexuals. Just this year Queen Latifa took the stage at the Grammy Music Awards and in front of thousands of cheering strangers, she married dozens of couples – some of whom were same-sex. Had television not presented homosexuality in the diverse ways it has over the past two decades, I don’t think as much change would have occurred. Television isn’t entirely responsible for our country becoming more progressive in terms of sexuality, but over the past two decades it has certainly helped in presenting homosexuality accurately.








Works Cited

Eldridge, David. “Biden ‘Comfortable’ with Gay Marriage, Cites ‘Will & Grace’. Washington Times.

            6 May 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.


Unknown. A partial listing of US men and women murdered in “anti-gay” hate crimes between 1992 and       1994. Vassar College.  2 April 1999. Web. 20 Feb. 2014. 



“Guns and Gossip.” My So-Called Life: The Complete Series. Writ. Justin Tanner. Dir. Marshall Herskovitz.

            Shout! Factory, 2007. DVD.


“Resolutions.” My So-Called Life: The Complete Series. Writ. Patrick Norris. Dir. Ellen Herman.

            Shout! Factory, 2007. DVD.


“Pilot.” The United States of Tara: Season One. Writ. Diablo Cody. Dir. Craig Gillespie. Showtime Ent.,

            2010. DVD.


“NightMayor.” The Sarah Silverman Program: Complete Season Three. Writ. Dan Harmon. Dir. Dan

            Sterling. Comedy Central., 2009. DVD.