Living in the United States as an American-Iranian

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My mother is Iranian and my father is from the Midwest. I was born in Portland, Oregon and raised learning about my parent’s languages, cultural beliefs and customs. Additionally, because my grandfather, an immigrant who is largely monolingual in Farsi took care of me for years, my Iranian background feels very present for me though I have never been there. I am a bicultural American-Iranian, twenty-something who loves sports and played on team sports for years. My family and I have worked with community organizations to help those in need. I spend a lot of time taking care of my grandparents. We enjoy the outdoors and taking walks with my dog. In short, there is nothing unusual and extreme in my life. My parents and extended family are very clear that this country is our home and we belong here. However, when I turn to the news stories, movies or media, I cannot find me or people like me anywhere. To the extent that Iranian-Americans are presented at all in the media, they are the terrorists, the dark figures who are so against the western culture that they want to destroy it from within. The stereotypes of Iranian extremists saturating the media’s portrayal of Iranians drawn from political tensions over the past decades have created a negative image of Iranians and marginalized the significant contributions of Iranian-Americans in the United States.

More recently, The Shah’s of Sunset, a popular reality show on Bravo Cable, adds another unfavorable extreme theme to the image of young Iranian-Americans here, this time focusing on a group of young Iranian-Americans as crazed materialistic people with shallow values. In contrast to these two extremes, Iranian Americans overall are among some of the most educated groups in the US. They have had major accomplishments in the sciences, engineering, literature, entertainment and sports, but these achievements do not get nearly as much attention as they should. Instead we are still in an era where after any tragic bombing or attack on our cities or Europe, the first groups suspected are young Iranians. Popular media stubbornly continues to show Iranian-Americans in an unfavorable way. These negative images work to the disadvantage of young people like me searching for a positive place in our society here today. I find as I meet a new group of students or apply for a job, I am responding to questions such as do Iranians say they are Persians to hide they are Iranians? Did you watch the movie 300? Does your family feel awkward here during Christmas? Do you celebrate Thanksgiving like us?

In the US people often think that the tension between the US and Iran started around the hostage crisis of 1979. But actually the tensions started much earlier. Many historians look to the US overthrow of a democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 as the most important event causing the resentment of many generations of Iranians against the US. The CIA took part in a coup that imprisoned Mossadegh and brought back the Shah. Years later the return of Khomeini and student demonstrations in Iran resulted in the overthrow of the Shah’s regime and takeover of the US Embassy in 1979. What the media picked up immediately was the drama of the hostages on a daily basis, and the public demonstrations next to the Embassy in Tehran with burning US flags. Those images are the lasting images of those times. Little attention was paid to what were the reasons behind such apparent hatred. What the US media did not cover were the root causes of resentment toward the US among those students. In their mind, the US had by its meddling overthrew a popular democratically elected prime minster, who had successfully nationalized Iranian oil. This did not serve the West. Winning nationalization of the Iranian oil meant that the west could no longer export Iran’s natural resources with paltry sums in reimbursement to the Iranian government (Kinzer). For this success, the U.S. forced the only democratically elected prime minister in Iran out of power setting Iran back in its development of democracy at home.

Years later, as a result of the hostage crisis, the tension between Iran and US reached an all-time high and those of Iranian identity and non-immigrant visa could not renew their visas. Many Iranians had to present themselves at immigration offices. The discrimination that Iranians faced in the United States during this time made them want to blend into the US culture much more than they had before. (Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans: Iranian-Americans by Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, page 6). Years later with the events of 9/11, the tensions against Iran and Iranians grew again. “Even though Iranians did not have a part in the terrorist attacks on the United States, in his State of the Union address in January 2002, President George Bush labeled Iran, Iraq, and Korea as part of the “axis of evil” countries that were sponsoring terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction” (Id). Once again the borders were closed off to Iranians and the Iranians pulled together and shied away from attention to minimize problems. Iran to this day is blamed for the 9/11 – for example see the default judgment entered against Iran for billions of dollars in a case brought by the families of victims brought in a court in New York, though they dismissed the Saudi Arabian government (though most of the terrorists were Saudi nationals) (CBS NEWS 2011).

During the past three decades, there have been countless Iranian engineers, mathematicians (Maryam Mirzakhani won the Fields Medal in mathematics in 2014), reporter (Christin Amanpour), actors, sports figures (Agassi) who have had great achievements in their field in the U.S. There is little media coverage about their background as Iranians or Iranian-Americans. To the extent that they have an opportunity to talk about their background and heritage they seem to shy away from it themselves. As my first artifact, I watched an interview of Agassi with CNN Anderson Cooper in which he only very briefly mentions that his father was an immigrant from Iran though he speaks extensively about his father and how he raised him to be the number one tennis player in the world (CNN Interview 2010).

Agassi also wrote a book about his own life called OPEN. But even in the book, an autobiography, he refuses to talk much about half his heritage as an Iranian-American. He only mentions his dad’s birth place one time even though much of the way that he was raised may have had to do with his dad’s background and as an immigrant to this country (Agassi). As an athlete with an Iranian-American background I look with interest to any professional athlete of the same background and there are so few who talk about their background in the media. I am disappointed of the fact that the once a number one tennis player in the world would not acknowledge that he has a similar background to mine. The interview with Agassi was to sell his book and I assume that he did not think it was too good for selling his book if he emphasizes the fact that his dad was Iranian.
By contrast some actors and entertainers who are interested in showing their bicultural background are passed up and never given the opportunity for roles other than bad guys with bombs strapped around their body in movies or films. Precisely on this point, in a fairly recent presentation Maz Jobrani an Iranian-American comedian shared his story on TED TALK (a nonprofit dedicated to creating a global community). This TED TALK was my second artifact. Maz says that his hope is the standup comedy show he has created will break the stereotypes about Iranian-Americans and Muslims. He labeled his comedy show “Axis of Evil” a tongue-in-cheek reference to the phrase coined by President Bush in tying Iran with other countries that have been viewed as irresponsible and untrustworthy. Maz is trying to break that stereotype and explain that he and others like him have nothing  to do with what one or two people out of masses may do to leave a bad image. Maz, described the turmoil he feels every time there is a bombing and tragedy in the U.S.. He fears that each time the culprit may be Iranian or Middle Eastern and that the U.S will once again turn negatively towards Iranian or Middle Easterners and Muslims. Maz claims that he gets people’s attention by relating it straight to what they may have felt and create a place where they can laugh about it and reduce tensions (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmXiItk49Gw).

What I found most intriguing and surprising is how much I enjoyed listening to Maz talking about how he felt in this country as an Iranian-American. It seemed a big weight was lifted off my shoulder just to know other people struggle going through the airport or, are worried that any terrorist activity that happens is tied to Iranians. I know from my own experiences how much we worry about these issues and problems that he talked about in such a funny way. I hope that he continues this work. I do not look as the stereotypical Iranian, so some of the stereotypes do not directly affect me, but my name is part Middle Eastern and I want to keep it and so I have to explain who I am and my background all the time to people who seem surprised and a little taken back by it all. I like the positive spin he put on his talk. The audience seemed to enjoy and nodded their heads in understanding.

The third artifact that I found in how Iranians are portrayed in the media, if at all, was the reality show called Shahs of Sunset first shown in March 2012. It was released and the show received much criticism even before it release from many Iranians, and particularly those in the Los Angeles because of its characters replace one stereotype of Iranians as savage fundamentalist with another as shallow materialistic people. Despite the criticism the show is soon to enter its fourth season. The reality show follows the lives of Six Iranian American friends grown up in Beverly Hills covering their everyday life in luxury. They use lines such as “we do not work in the buildings, we own them!” The actors talk about the only pay check they get is the one from their parents though they are in their 30s. They are drinking constantly and it seems their focus is one party after another. They are surrounded by gold and red furniture with expensive watches and piles of large jewelry around their necks and fingers. They seem obsessed with their cars, furnishing and fashionable clothes and nothing else. They are not modest in the way they dress or behave unlike any Persian-Americans that I have seen here. The actor’s claim that they are doing a favor for the Persian-Americans here breaking stereotypes of all Persian-Americans as potential terrorists. The actors claim that they are showing daily life and humanizing the Iranians.

The Critics of Shah’s of Sunset are worried that the show is more stereotypes and commercialism just like other trash reality shows, but this one is also bent to make it more exotic, more oriental in the same formula as early years of Hollywood’s infatuation with stereotypes of Arabs, here Iranians and the Middle East to sell its films to intrigue the audience (Prodanovic). On the other hand there are those who think there are some useful aspects to this reality show. An Iranian-American sociology professor, Neda Maghbouleh originally of Portland, Oregon now teaching in Canada wrote an article in Salon in which she took the position that even though the Shah’s of Sunset has many faults including its focus on material goods and shallowness of its six Iranian-American characters living in Los Angles, the show nonetheless has some merit in creating a better understanding of Iranian culture among American audience. She writes that she knows defending this show among Iranian intellectuals is a minority position, but what she thought was important were two points. The first is that show demonstrates the close fabric of Iranian family between generations as the elders regularly appear in the show and are included in events with the younger generation. The Iranians view their families’ connection and closeness as among the most important factors in their lives and this runs against stereotypes of Iranians in such films as Not without My Daughter. Second, the show presents interaction between both Muslim and Jewish Iranians and to many Americans the fact that there are other religions in Iran is surprising. But Iran has had a history of tolerance of other religions and particularly the Jewish faith (Maghbouleh).

In Shah’s of Sunset the participants believe that by showing the luxury life that they lead in Beverly Hills the mainstream America will be so impressed by their success that falsified negative images of Iranian as ”terrorists or hostage takers” will suddenly disappear. They seem to think that presenting themselves in tight glittery clothes is somehow classy and in stark contrast to fanatical religious conservatives. Many Iranians-Americans, including the Iranian mayor of Beverly Hills absolutely hated the show because they believe it is disgraceful, and another misrepresentation of Iranians. However, the participants in the show defend their action because they claim they are humanizing Iranian-Americans. The audience claims that the show is wrong in emphasizing luxury and material riches as what is Persian identity. In looking at this show and the interviews, I felt that they had actually robbed the Persian history and culture and gave Iranian-Americans little reality of the truth.

It appears though there are a significant number of Iranian-Americans living in the U.S. they or their children are shown more as merely stereotypical cartoon-like characters of what the average American may view as Middle Eastern. There have been years of tension between the two countries and both sides mistrust each others’ government. I am uncertain whether either extremes, Iranian-Americans as conservative religious fanatics or, shallow materialistic spoiled adults help erase negative stereotypes about the Iranian-Americans. My hope is that Iranian-Americans in the U.S. who are people like everyone else trying to help their families and communities will eventually be presented more accurately in the media. I do not see myself or people like me in the media. Until there is a more fair representation I think the media is hurting our connections instead of bringing us together.

Works Cited
Agassi, Andre. Open: An Autobiography. New York: A. Knopf, 2009. Print.
AP. “Judge: Iran, Taliban, Al Qaeda Liable for 9/11.” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 23 Dec. 2011. Web. 08 Feb. 2015.
Did You Hear the One about the Iranian-American? Perf. Maz Jobrani. Ted Talks. YouTube, 19 Aug. 2010. Web. 08 Feb. 2015.
Kavanagh, Jim. “Andre Agassi’s Life Is an ‘Open’ Book.” Anderson Cooper 360 RSS. CNN, 4 Sept. 2010. Web. 2 Feb. 2015.
Kinzer, Stephen. All the Shah’s Men: The Hidden Story of the CIA’s Coup in Iran. New York: Wiley, 2003. Print.
Maghbouleh, Neda. ““Shahs of Sunset”: The Real Iranians of Los Angeles?” Saloncom RSS. Salon, 30 Nov. 2012. Web. 1 Feb. 2015.
“PAAIA Releases Report on Iranian American Immigration and Assimilation – PAAIA.” PAAIA Releases Report on Iranian American Immigration and Assimilation – PAAIA. PAAIA, 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.
Prodanovic, Branka. Creating Exotic Beings: An Analysis of Shah’s of Sunset and (n.d.): n. pag. Trashculturejournal. WordPress, 2013. Web.

Asian-American stereotypes in popular culture.

I have been in America for a few years. Before I came to the country, I was aware of some Asian American stereotypes, which had been portrayed in American shows and movies in the same manners over and over again. As an Asian guy who did not grow up in America, I always wondered if Asian Americans are just like how they are portrayed in media, whether or not they are different from me. But that was not all, I had never known until I moved to this country. There are more stereotypes of Asian Americans that I did not know about. More and more people from Asia are coming to the US in recent years, either study aboard students or immigrants. I have noticed and feel like most of those stereotypes are about newcomers like me, and only a few of those stereotypes are about Asian Americans who were born in the US. In other words, the media are still portraying Asians as foreigners more often than portraying them as Asian Americans, although America has been home of many young generations of Asians.

A very popular Asian stereotype is “Asians are nerdy, smart, and good in school”. When I first came to this country and started high school, my classmates in Algebra class just assumed that I am good at math because I am Asian. I had seen that happened in some movies long time ago, Asian characters are nerdy and “have a boring life”, but that is nothing like me. An examples of this stereotype in media, Rajesh from The Big Bang Theory show. He is a nerdy guy who is good at science, and is lame when talking to people, especially women.  He is smart, but his disadvantages are lack of communication skills. This is also an example of another Asian stereotype, “Asians are shy and bad at communicating”. These two stereotypes may actually have a link, smart Asians are bad at communicating because they are more into study and do not have time for social relationships. I am also an example of a shy Asian guy. Since I have limited English speaking ability, I only talk when necessary, and I feel awkward when people ask me to repeat what I said because I do not have American accent. However, the Asian Americans are very different. Most of my Asian American friends are open-minded, friendly, and confident when communicating. The root of this difference, I believe, is the adaption in different environments. In America, students have more freedom to speak up, to make their voices heard. That is why they are confident when talking to people. The “shy” stereotype is true for many newcomers like me, but is not true for Asian Americans. And what about the “smart” stereotype? Some Asian students are good in school, but not all of us. Our parents told us that studying is the only thing we need to focus on, that is kind of a traditional way of thinking in Asia. But that does not mean we are smarter than other people. If a non-Asian person studies hard, he can do well in school. There are smart people and average people, the same for any race, not just Asian.

I played soccer and badminton in my middle school and high school years. I consider myself a fairly good player, although not excellent. “Asians are not good at sports, but good at martial art”, that is a new stereotype I had never heard about before I started doing this mirror essay assignment. From an article named “The 7 worst Asian-Americans stereotypes” of an Indian writer, I found this stereotype about Asians and sports interesting because I do not know why people think Asians are not good at sports. However, I knew Asians are portrayed as good at martial art. What is the root of the “not good at sport” stereotype? From my reasoning, Asians are usually portrayed as nerds; nerds are usually physically weak and know nothing else but study, and so Asians are weak and cannot compete in sports. In reality, people are different from how they are portrayed in media. When I was in high school, there were a lot of Asian players in our school’s sport teams. Basketball, soccer, tennis, volleyball, football, every team had Asian players, and they did not play badly at all; some of them were chosen to be captain of the team. Speaking of martial art, Asians are portrayed as very good fighters in many movies. When Bruce Lee’s Hollywood movies first came to American audience, he gave people a deep impression of an Asian street fighter, a proud beast. Bruce made Asian American kids proud to be Asian; he also inspired more people to practice martial art more than anyone else in history. No matter what race you are, he used martial art as a way to break the racial barrier and create brotherhood, people of any race can learn martial art. Bruce Lee became a symbol of martial art, and because the martial art’s symbol is Asian, today movies usually portray Asian characters as extremely good martial artists. In a lot of movies about martial art, the main characters can be white, black, or any race, but their mentor, helper, or teacher, is usually an Asian master. The movie “The Karate kid” is a perfect example. There are different versions of this movie. In the 1989 version, the main kid is white; and in the 2010 version, the main kid is black. In both versions, the Karate teacher of the main kid is an Asian guy. American movies usually have Asian characters as minor roles, unless it is a movie about fighting, Asians may have a chance to play one of the main roles. In the “Rush Hour” series, the Asian actor Jackie Chan played a main cop role. He deals with the criminals mostly by martial art instead of gun, although he is a cop. If that was about an American cop, there would likely be an intense, thrilling gun fight instead of a martial art fight. This stereotype, however, is created by the impression of famous Hollywood stars like Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan, and the fact that most of the world’s martial arts have origin in Asia. There are Western martial arts, but there are many more martial arts invented by Asian people. Despite that, not all Asians know martial art or good at martial art. Anyone who is interested and has patience to practice can be a great martial artist.

Sometime stereotype concerns racism. As I mentioned, media are still portraying Asians as foreigners more often than portraying them as Asian Americans, although many young generations of Asians were born and grew up in the US. Many people in the US still do not see Asians as one of them, and some people even see Asians as a threat to the rest of the world. “Yellow peril”, a color metaphor word phrase that is about the expansion and invasion of East Asians over the West. I heard about this theory before, but I did not know where it came from, because I do not believe that Asian invasion would happen and never paid attention to it. After doing my research for this mirror essay, I found the root of this word phrase is mythic but interesting. Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany dreamed and saw Buddha, riding a dragon, invades Europe. This is funny to me, because he had that dream in the 1890s. In the late 19th century, the Europeans were the ones invading Asia and other continents. However, it is not strange if people worry about being overpowered by Asians. In the recent years, Asian countries like Japan and China had surpassed European countries in economic development. The fast rate of development in Asia, especially East Asian countries, makes the Western people worry. My dad was born in South Vietnam in the time of the Vietnam War. He lived in the barrack when he was a teenager and watched American TV. When I ask him about the “Yellow Peril”, he said he remembered what an American scientist said on a science show. The scientist said that every morning the Americans woke up and looked over to the other side of Pacific, they saw the Japanese have a new invention. With that rate of development, each day a new invention, Japan would surpass the US soon. This “Asians are a danger” stereotype is not often portrayed in media, but it does exist. Some people in the US today blame on Asian immigrants for stealing their jobs. An example for this blaming is the South Vietnamese immigrants. My grandparents, like millions of South Vietnamese people, had to leave our homeland after the Vietnam War because the country had fallen to communism. They came here with no English, no money, nothing; they had to work in the worst places, losing their jobs very often. They had to work very hard to make a living. Some people in the US blame these immigrants for stealing their jobs, but I do not think it is reasonable. America is a promise land, who work hard will harvest the good result, there are equal chances for everyone. Besides, those poor immigrants got the worst jobs because they were almost the lowest class in society. Why would some people blame on them for stealing jobs? There are plenty of better jobs for people who are native or have been living in the US most of their life.

The young Asian Americans are changing people’s perspective on Asians. They were born here, they grow together with kids of other races, or immigrants like me who came to the US at young age. We are not the first generation, we do not have to deal with the hardships our parents had, and we can become part of America more easily. Some stereotypes of Asian Americans are changing because the new generation is different from the old, based on people’s social interactions with the young Asian Americans. Those stereotypes like “Asians cannot speak English in true accent” or “Asians can become nothing but doctor and engineer” are not true anymore. Stereotypes reflect image or idea of an ethnic group; they are not wrong, but they are not totally true. We cannot just believe the stereotypes showed in media and assume that all people of an ethnic group are the same. To know someone, we need to look at how they talk and act, see what they like to do or what they can do, and do not assume anything based on their skin color or origin.

Sources citation:

Phan, D. (n.d.). Asian and Nerdy – TV Tropes. Retrieved March 9, 2015, from http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AsianAndNerdy

Noronha, M. (2012, November 24). The 7 Worst Asian-American Stereotypes. Retrieved March 9, 2015, from http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2012/11/24/the-7-worst-asian-american-stereotypes/

Top Martial Arts Action Stars of the Century. (2011, March 2). Retrieved March 9, 2015, from http://www.imdb.com/list/ls000048950/

Yellow Peril. (n.d.). Retrieved March 9, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_Peril

Nittle, N. (n.d.). Asian-American Stereotypes in TV and Film. Retrieved March 9, 2015, from http://racerelations.about.com/od/hollywood/a/Five-Common-Asian-american-Stereotypes-In-Tv-And-Film.htm

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 College Students in Media

College is an institution all parents want their children to go to. They drill it into their children’s minds that college is everything you need. That without college you can’t go farther in life. Children then watch movies about colleges and decide that they must be this way to get into college and be popular. That if they aren’t a certain stereotype they won’t be able to do anything with their life. One article titled Mean Girls? The Influence of Geneder Portrayals in Teen Movies on Emerging Adult’s Gender-based Attitueds and Beliefs states:

“It is argued that individuals adopt gender characteristics in part by monitoring the rewards and consequences associated with others’ behavior. Thus, representation of female characters in the media would be expected to play a role in viewers’ perceptions regarding gender identity, which may ultimately influence attitudes and beliefs about appropriate gender roles” (132).

I agree with this article’s idea that the media can influence how children grow. Children take certain attitudes about gender roles, from the world around them, and how they, as a female, should act. Media heavily focuses on the idea of females in college. The two main stereotypes about females focuses on their hair color, the blondes and the brunettes. Blondes are portrayed in two different ways: either they are dumb blonde or the mean blonde. Brunettes are often cast as the kind but shy character. These two stereotypes are often found battling each other because of what these girls grew up believing.

If you look at my roots you can tell what my true colors are: brown. I see myself in media as the shy but smart type. They type that doesn’t know how to act around others, but does well in school. One movie that shows this stereotype is Sydney White starring Amanda Bynes. Amanda’s character, named Sydney White, is first seen at a construction site. It is also made known that she got a scholarship to college because her father is just a plumber. When she gets to the college campus, Sydney tries to get into her mother’s sorority.  A sorority full of blondes with a blonde, named Rachel,  as their president. It is immediately shown that the blonde president doesn’t like Sydney. Not because of her hair color, but because Rachel’s ex-boyfriend is flirting with Sydney. From then on Rachel sees Sydney as a rival for her ex’s love and for the friendship from the sorority girls. After the hazing ritual the freshman are inititated into the sorority. During the banquet everyone is given a pin by Rachel, everyone except for Sydney. After this Sydney realizes just how mean and vindictive blondes can be. Because of this she goes to live with the misfits. Outcasts like her that have been shunned by the rest of the world.

Later, in the movie, both Rachel and Sydney duke it out to be president of the campus. It is no surprise that all the “outsiders” side with Sydney. For she is the kind brunette unlike her vindictive counterpart. The blonde has even pushed her sorority sisters so badly that one from her own house goes to help Sydney. Sydney White is a movie that shows the battle between the typical idea of blondes and brunettes. This movie shows just two ways girls can be: either nice or mean. While I love Sydney White it is a movie that most children should probably not watch. It is a movie that doesn’t show good role models for young girls. There is only one blonde that is nice, but other then her the movie shows all the stereotypical ideas of blondes and brunettes.

Another movie that shows the stereotypical idea of a blonde is Legally Blonde, in this movie Elle Woods is the star. She starts out as the blonde head of her sorority house.  When her boyfriend breaks up with her Elle decides to follow her ex to Harvard Law school. Working hard she gets a 179 on her LSATS a feat which is very incredible. The people who look over her application are all males, males that see the dumb blonde and are, at first, skeptical of why she wanted to get into their prestigious school. Elle makes a movie to sell herself to the acceptance committee and in the movie she is often seen either in a bikini or in a small, tight outfit. With her charm, and her hidden brain, Elle is able to get into the law school.

Twice, during the movie, Elle brings up how she is viewed by her peers. The first is when her boyfriend breaks up with her. She asks him if he breaks up with her because she is “too blonde”. The second time, Elle shows prejudice against a brunette, when asked why she replies that because she acts that way because people, also, discriminate against her because of her hair color. Why can’t she discriminate against them? With this statement Elle shows that she knows what people think about her: that because of her hair color she must be dumb. When in all reality she is quite smart. Once she decides to be openly smart Elle is able to not only graduate from Harvard Law, but graduate at the top of her class. A feat that even her smart, white ex-boyfriend couldn’t achieve.

Elle starts out as a dumb blonde. A blonde who had no idea she could possibly be able to get into a school like Harvard Law. With hard work Elle is able to show that she does have a brain. That she can be smart enough to do so well on her LSATS. Having such a strong, blonde protagonist shows young blondes that they can be something. These children can grow up and not have to be mean or dumb. Instead, following Elle’s example, they can become a lawyer or a doctor. Elle is an excellent role model for girls showing them that they can be anything that they want to be.

A different character that also knows she that the world thinks her to be a dumb blonde is Shelley from The House Bunny. While she isn’t a college student, she, like Elle, goes to school because a guy. Shelley tries to make herself smarter because she wants to be good enough for him. She believes that he won’t like her because she is “dumb” and thus goes to college classes to learn more about the world and gets tutoring from the girls she takes care of. Before her lessons Shelley shows how ignorant she is of the world. She doesn’t know what the policeman wants when he asks her to blow for an alcohol test. Instead, she believes that he is asking for a blow job and gets herself a night in jail for her confusion.

Before her fiasco with the police officer Shelley was working as a bunny for Hugh Hefner. Thinking that Hugh didn’t want her anymore Shelley leaves the house with no idea of what she is going to do. Her first stop, after spending a night in jail, is a college. There she stumbles upon a sorority house. After meeting the girls she decides to become a house mother. The mother of the house, that Shelley finds, is also a blonde. Unlike Shelley, she is a very mean woman. She sees how strange Shelley is and says that Shelley can never be a house mother. Shelley proves her wrong and becomes the house mother of the outcasts. This house is full of girls who couldn’t find a place in any other sorority so they banded together. While Shelley says strange sentences, like “eyes are the nipples of the face”, the girls soon come to love her and Shelley grows to love them.

What Shelley does not know about the world she makes up for knowing about how to get people to pay attention to her. She teaches the girls how to be more outgoing and how to charm others. One of the girls, named Natalie, is a typical shy but smart brunette. At first, she doesn’t know how to talk to her crush, but because of Shelley she learns how to. Natalie learns how to be an outgoing girl, but in the process loses part of herself: compassion.

Why Shelley is kicked out of the Playboy Mansion is because of another blonde. One of her fellow bunnies gets jealous of Shelley and works up a scheme to trick Shelley. She writes a letter, pretending to be Hugh, saying that Shelley was being kicked out. When Hugh returns there is another fake letter saying that Shelley had decided to leave of her own free will. Eventually, the woman gets caught and then thrown out of the house. After Shelley moves back to the mansion the girls realize their mistake; that they have become like the mean blondes they hated so much. Natalie states that they must become a combination of their old and new selves. A combination of the outgoing blonde and the kind brunette.

Shelley soon returns to the college and her girls. She has realized that she doesn’t love modeling anymore, but, instead, has fallen in love with these girls. She has become smarter and more worldly because of their teachings and they have become smarter because of her. She is no longer just the dumb blonde that people called her. Now, she is truly herself. A person who has shown her true colors because of the people she loves and those that love her.

Young girls are watching these movies and learning what the world wants them to become. That they can be smart, but must not be outgoing. Or that they can be outgoing, but in the process must be dumb. Everything boils down to them either being kind or mean to other girls their age. It all depends on their hair color and that is how the world will view them. This thought process can be toxic for young children and teenagers. For like Sydney White you must be either kind or mean. There should be more movies like The House Bunny or Legally Blonde that teaches that one can be both outgoing and kind at the same time. These are the ideas we should be teaching our children. So, that when they go to college, they have a good view of the world and how to behave in it.

Works Cited

Behm-Morawitz, Elizabeth, and Dana E. Mastro. “MEAN GIRLS? THE INFLUENCE OF GENDER PORTRAYALS IN TEEN MOVIES ON EMERGING ADULTS’ GENDER-BASED ATTITUDES AND BELIEFS.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly Spring 2008: 131-46. Web.

The House Bunny. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2008. DVD.

Legally Blonde. MGM Home Entertainment, 2001. DVD.

Sydney White. Universal Studios Home Entertainment, 2008. DVD.

 

 

Professional Ballerinas and the Media

Shannon Dunlop
Feb. 19, 2015
Popular Culture SINQ
Daneen Bergland

Professional Ballerinas and the Media

      In the past decade, there has been a very large spike of fascination of the female baller dancer in popular culture media. We are starting to see a lot of ballet influences on the fashion runway, music videos, and in everyday television and movies. By looking at some of these examples in popular culture media, you start to see a lot of common traits on how we portray professional female ballerinas. If you asked one person to describe what a ballerina looks like to them they would probably use a description using entities of some of these words: elegant, thin, tall, pale, woman. I believe that in popular culture media we are making a very narrow stereotype about female professional ballerinas. Through looking at three different pieces in popular media such as the film “Black Swan”, the reality television series “Breaking Pointe”, and the film “Step Up” we will further see how we create an image around ballerina’s that is about drama and poor healthy among many other things.
One of the most popular pieces of media that has been released in the past ten years with female ballerinas as the spotlight is, “Black Swan” (2010) directed by Darren Aronofsky, starring Natalie Portman. The film is a psychological thriller about a professional ballet dancer who wins the lead in “Swan Lake” and starts to mirror the Black Swan role of “Swan Lake” and loses her mind because of multiple pressures from the ballet world.
In the film, Natalie Portman’s character, among others such as Mila Kunis’ character are portrayed as very thin. In reading about the production of the film, Kunis said that she dropped 20 pounds (from her already extremely slender frame) to 95 pounds. Kunis said, “I was muscle, like a little brick house, but skin and bones” (Mapes) in an article about how extreme weight diets warp your body. Kunis came out and spoke about all the negative side effects that she went through when gaining the weight back after finishing the film. As a dancer, what I can appreciate from this is the fact that they really wanted to be authentic when trying to portray the role of ballet dancer. Ballet dancers put their body through a lot of work and pain to get into the form they need to. What I can’t appreciate is how they forced a very scary diet and body weight on Kunis who is not actually a professional ballet dancer. Not even a professional ballet dancer should weight 95 at 5’4”. Coming from a medical standpoint, that’s extremely unhealthy. In a research study done by a group of educators in Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California they studied body imagery of dancers in Los Angeles and what they call “the cult of slenderness”. In there they state that “for a dancer, thin is ‘15% below your ideal weight for height, which is basically anorexic weight” (Loyola Marymount University, 257).

This film adds substance to the argument that all female professional dancers have eating disorders or strive to push their body past healthy limits. I know for a fact, that there are professional dancers that practice healthy and clean eating. Although, I haven’t met a dancer that won’t admit to have not having body image issues. “Dancers’ identities are not constructed as a whole person, but as a physical body” (Loyola Marymount University, 259). Having said this and this being true, Black Swan really pushed this belief. A lot of the film became about how Natalie Portman’s character went crazy (among other reasons) over controlling her weight. What’s upsetting is that although this is a very strong concern of the ballet world, they felt the need to include multiple scenes referring to her eating disorder. While there are multiple things that drive her to go insane, I felt that they way over shot scenes with examples of her eating disorder.
In 2012, the network CW premiered a reality television series called Breaking Pointe that goes behind the stage curtain for an extremely competitive Ballet Company called Ballet West located in Salt Lake City, Utah. The television series focuses a lot on the athleticism, dedication, hard work, and pressures of the ballet world. The series has been well received as it’s gone through two seasons and is scheduled for a third.
The level of talent that comes from these dancers is ¬immense; it really takes your breath away. You get to see the true dedication that it takes to be a dancer of that caliber. All of the dancers give almost 110% to their art. The series focuses a lot of the individuals and the relationships of the people in the through all their hard work. In the first season one of the woman was broken up with and her ex-partner’s reasoning was that he believed that “she loved dance more than him”. Those examples right their shows you how much these people are willing to give everything they have to their company. The negative that comes from this is that in the series, you feel the pressure that the show puts to create the drama between all these relationships. They hone in too much on the relationships and not on the dancing and this really hassles me. The show isn’t about showcasing the dancing as much as it’s about the relationships. You can feel the pressure that the producers are putting on the show to create these rivalries and love stories between dancers rather than focusing on their amazing talents. Much like the director’s decisions in Black Swan. In Black Swan, there is a scary rivalry between Mila Kunis’ character and Natalie Portman’s to be the lead in the “Swan Lake” performance. Whenever ballet is put in the spotlight, it’s either about eating disorders or this frightening thought that all dancers hate each other when really a healthy dancing community can be the best support system you could ask for. As a dancer myself, I couldn’t imagine going through my awkward teenage years without the love and support of the amazing dancers that I chose to surround myself with everyday.

Another interesting point to look at in the series Breaking Point is in the beginning of the series where a young dancer brings up the topic of dieting so that she can look “tiny” in a costume that she is supposed to preform in. At first, you are appalled by how someone with such a tiny frame could ever want to be any tinier. In a following episode, they make a strategic point to have the dancers having an open discussion about diet and having good eating habits, emphasis on the actually eating part. This, I thought, shined positively for ballerina’s in this case. In a New York Times article written in 1997 by Jennifer Dunning, she said some things that I believe are still extremely interesting and relevant more than a decade later. It reads, “…the average incidence of eating disorders in the white middle-class population in 1 in 100. In classical ballet, it is one in five” (Dunning). I believe that is a statistic that still applies to our society today and is why it’s so important that during that episode, they shined a more positive light on ballerinas and eating disorders.

In 2006, director Anne Fletcher released a movie called “Step Up”; a movie that shines a spotlight on female dancer who ends up with a male partner of very little dance practice for her senior show out of desperation. I think that this movie shines more positive light on ballerinas than negative. Although Nora, the female lead, is not directly portrayed as a ballerina, she is a dancer that comes from a practice of ballet and could be referenced as one. Whereas, Tyler, the main male role does not have any formal ballet training.
In this film, they create a very strong image that Nora is young woman and therefore, she must only practice jazz and ballet, whereas, Tyler, being a man, must do the masculine thing and reject all ballet practice. This creates the stigma that men can’t be ballerina’s, especially heterosexual men. In the movie, Tyler takes a very long time to warm up to the idea of practicing a traditional elegant style like ballet.
I think that popular culture media makes ballet dancers portrayed as people with eating disorders, who hate each other, and are strictly woman. In many cases, all of that isn’t true but what we see in media loves to make us think that it is. By comparing all these series and films you start to develop your own thoughts on which ballerina’s are and you get a very skewed image of them.

Citations

Black Swan. Dir. Darren Aronofsky. Screenplay by Mark Heyman. 20 Century Fox, 2010. Film.
Bonsall, Lindsay, prod. Breaking Pointe. CW. Salt Lake City, Utah, 2012. Television.
Step up. Dir. Anne Fletcher and Duane Adler. Universal, 2006. Film.
Dunning, Jennifer. “Eating Disorders Haunt Ballerinas.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 15 July 1997. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.
Mapes, Diane. “Mila Kunis, ‘Black Swan’ and How Extreme Diets Warp Your Body.” TODAY. Today.com, 7 Mar. 2012. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.
Heiland, Teresa L., Darrin S. Murray, and Paige P. Edley. “Body Image of Dancers in Los Angeles: The Cult of Slenderness and Media Influence among Dance Students.” Research in Dance Education 9.3 (2008): 257-75. Nov. 2008. Web.

Portrayals Of Women Who Work In Law Enforcement: Media vs. Reality

Mirror Essay

The word identity is defined as “a person’s conception and expression of their own (self-identity) and others’ individuality or group affiliations.” (Tajfel, H. (Ed.). (2010). Social identity and intergroup relations (Vol. 7). Cambridge University Press.” I am a sophomore here at Portland State and I am majoring in Criminal Justice. I am not sure what I want my profession to be, however, I do know that I want it to be in the field of law enforcement. I have always been very interested in all of the television shows and movies that have to do with the law. As I grew older, I saw some stereotypes taking place when it came to the women who worked in law enforcement. I wanted to take a deeper look into exactly how women are portrayed by the popular culture compared to reality. When it comes down to facts, women only take up 12% of the U.S. law enforcement industry. (Davis, A. (1998). Masked racism: Reflections on the prison industrial complex. Color Lines, 1(2), 11-13.) You would think with this being such a small percentage that women would be looked at like superwomen by the people of our world. Individuals see women on the screen as officers who are gorgeous and being glamor up when in reality there is so much more to it. Truth be told, the media enhances and portrays women way more positively than reality.

One piece of artifact that I want to look at is a clip from the show Criminal Minds that was aired on May 16, 2012. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iN5LyINg5gc) In this clip, we see a suspect trying to run away and two agents that are not going to let that happen. Agent Morgan is an African American male who is portrayed as the handsome one who gets his job done. JJ is a Caucasian, blonde female, who is portrayed as the brains of the team and one who can hold her own. Having a female as his partner, Morgan trusts JJ with his life. In this specific video, we have guns drawn, a man jumping out of a two-story house, a small foot chase, and a very determined woman agent.

There are so many reasons why I think this clip is amazing. One of those reasons being a woman taking charge for once instead of a man having to. Honestly, my favorite part about this clip is the determination JJ has in herself, along with the look she has in her eyes. The fierce expression she has while shooting a gun at this man. She accomplished a head shot kill from somewhat far of range. It shows women that they can be the ones behind the gun protecting civilians or trying to solve a case. It gives them hope for a change. In actuality, men are usually always the ones to solve a big case or to catch the suspect. They are the ones in real life who handle all of the physical actions of a police officer. Men have respect in this type of occupation where women don’t. They have to earn it. While them men get respect handed to them. This is why I love seeing shows that switch up the roles a little bit and don’t care too much of what someone’s gender is. Morgan never had a clear shot at the suspect running away and he knew that. Having that connection with his partner, and the trust that she can handle it, he relayed the message over to her. Television gives women so much more value compared to real life. JJ was vocal during the chase and not a quiet girl that couldn’t take charge, which I feel, is absolutely wonderful. At the end of the day, the guy was killed and a woman saved the day. I think the media needs to realize that our world doesn’t revolve around men and women are independent and can handle taking care of themselves and others.

The media has so many different shows and movies that are not only cop related but just action portrayals in general. There are some that reveal women of course negatively, although, there is that handful that gives women faith. When you watch certain shows you don’t just watch it, you soak up the information being given to you. Just like when we go to school. We go to learn. One of my favorite female action movies is one titled, Charlie’s Angels. There are three girls who play as what you can call agents. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tS0HTeoHNjM) The scene that I have chosen to focus on is one that has Drew Barrymore is involved in. It is what you call somewhat of a fun type of scenario. This scene starts off with Barrymore’s hands and feet tied up as she is sitting in a wooden chair. There are five men in this room, one whom pisses her off by taking her lighter. They are good-sized “muscle men” that should be able to handle a female who has her hands and feet tied in a rope. The men don’t see Barrymore as a threat because she is considered a damsel in distress at this point. Well, what they don’t know is she is her own secret weapon.

Barrymore takes the situation into her own hands. She doesn’t look scared at all. Actually, she knows she is about to kick some ass so she is somewhat cocky. Almost instigating the men to attack her. The men laugh it off thinking all that she says isn’t about to take place. The men never even lay a finger on her. The media portrays Barrymore as this funny agent, but also strong willed female at the same time. She doesn’t get stereotyped into waiting for a man to come and rescue her, like a princess movie. Yes, these are indeed just movies, but why get into girls mind that they need a man to feel safe. Women should be portrayed just like Barrymore as an independent kick ass types of girls. Never once did she think she was in danger. She had confidence in herself and she knew what she was capable of. Women in reality, I don’t always feel believe in themselves as much as they should. I wish more girls in their late teens would believe that they are in charge of their own happiness and nobody can take that away from them. Too many girls watch the movies like Shrek or Cinderella, where the female is always saved and can’t hold their own. The stereotype that women can’t do what a man is capable of aggravates me. I can do anything that I set my mind to and I know that because I believe in myself. The media does a wonderful job portraying women in this scene. It closes out with Barrymore saying, “ And that’s me kicking your ass.” Isn’t that the attitude all women should have?

Occasionally, the media will give women the upper hand when it comes to a fight scene when it is male vs. female. The media does anything and everything to make the man look better or stronger than the female. They always want the man to be seen as superman. However, sometimes the media will switch things up just a little bit. I have never seen the movie Fight Night, but this next clip I want to focus on is in fact from that movie. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ek2DPTK3WFc) This scene is a no rules, straight up street fight and is male vs. female. A massive, muscular, scary looking guy, fighting a somewhat average looking female. The crowd is rowdy and loud. Having there been no rules she gets the guy in the choke-hold and then snaps his neck and kills him. Before the fight even started she saw whom she was fighting and was not at all rattled. She seemed excited she had the opportunity to fight this guy. It is really cool to see the media portray women like this because it is very rarely you see this on the big screen.

In reality, the only type of women fighters we see like this that are professionals is Ronda Rousey, who is a UFC fighter. She is the image of women fighters around the world. When I say the image she is the entire package. She has the record of 10-0, an attitude that you wouldn’t believe, and the determination that I have never witnessed before. Seeing her fight is inspirational to young girls and women nationwide. When girls watch her fight they get the sense that they could one day be just like her. Rousey is greater than some male UFC fighters which is unheard of. They compare her to Floyd Mayweather and Nate Diaz. Having her in the media is all facts and stats. As a female fighter and a successful undefeated one at that, is what people love to see. She’s doing everything the right way that young girls strive to be one day. Magazine covers, modeling, and acting, she does it all. The media can portray women in a male work occupation in anyway they want but when it comes down to it, women can do anything men can.

Looking at the true meaning behind the word stereotype from the What is? website: “In social psychology, a stereotype is a thought that can be adopted about specific types of individuals or certain ways of doing things. These thoughts or beliefs may or may not accurately reflect reality.” In my opinion the popular culture does not accurately reflect the reality of females who work in law enforcement. Females are not usually the ones who take care of the fighting crimes in real life, or the ones behind the gun when some gets killed and it makes the headline news. Women take up 12% of the law enforcement industry like I stated before, but it is not what you think. You are probably thinking that they are cops, or detectives, right? These women are mostly district attorneys, lawyers, judges, etc. They are the behind the desk, non-field agents. Although there are obviously a handful of female field agents, they aren’t treated the way the media portrays them. They have to work and earn their respect. They have to climb up the ladder before the men in their field of work respect them even a little bit. Honestly, there are some people out there who don’t believe women have what it takes to be an officer because they’re not physically strong enough. The media in my opinion gives young girls hope that they can be and do whatever they want. I can’t wait to be apart of the law enforcement agency and I will be someone who is portrayed like the media shows. Respected, independent, hardworking, an all around amazing agent.

All in all, I feel as if women get a lot more credit from the media than in real life. Every single one of my three artifacts proves this theory correctly. In reality, women have to earn their stripes in this type of work force they are not seen as these amazing women who do great things on a daily basis. The stereotype in actuality is that women can’t hang with the boys. Little girls watch television shows and movies and see women being the great agent who solves crimes and want to one day be that. The media takes up a huge part of our lives today whether it is in a negative or positive way. Regardless of the negativity or positivity people feed off of this information and have to learn the hard way that its not always true. I wish people in our world would give women working in the law enforcement just half of the respect that they deserve. They are the real heroes who risk their lives everyday to try and make our world a better place.

 

References

  1. JJ shoots unsub. (2013, June 8). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iN5LyINg5gc
  2. Charlie’s Angels “By the time this is over…” 1080p full scene. (2013, August 13). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tS0HTeoHNjM
  3. Male vs. Female Fight Night. (2013, June 10). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ek2DPTK3WFc
  4. Tajfel, H. (Ed.). (2010). Social identity and intergroup relations (Vol. 7). Cambridge University Press.
  5. Davis, A. (1998). Masked racism: Reflections on the prison industrial complex. Color Lines, 1(2), 11-13.
  6. Stereotype – definition – What is ? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://what-is-this.net/en/define/stereotype

Christian Identity

Popular Culture Mirror Essay

Rachael Woolley

            Christians have a lot of interesting stereotypes that are exploited in the media. There are multiple television shows, movies, and books that include a Christian character that is an exaggeration of one or more stereotypes related to Christians. Season 17 of The Bachelor (Fliess, 2013) was an example of the Christian who was abstaining from sex before marriage. In the popular television show that aired from 2000-2007, Gilmore Girls (Sherman-Palladino) has a recurring character that is an extreme version of a Christian who is legalistic and mean, forbidding her child of listening to any music besides Christian. Thirdly, Easy A (Gluck, 2010) was a movie loosely based on The Scarlett Letter with a main character portraying the extreme and offensive Christian who tells others they are going to hell. All three of these artifacts include a character that exhibits melodramatic characteristics of Christian stereotypes.

            The Bachelor (Fliess, 2013) is a show that stars a single man who is looking for a wife. Women across the nation audition for one of the 20 spots who, over multiple weeks, compete for a love connection with the bachelor. In season 17 of the show, Sean Lowe received the role of the bachelor and for a few months dated multiple women at a time in order to find his wife. As the show progresses, women are eliminated until the final episode when there is usually a proposal to one of two women left. A few weeks before that, when there are three women left, there is an episode called the “fantasy suite” week. This is where the bachelor gets to spend three consecutive nights with each one of the women left with no cameras around or anyone else with them. In every season before this one, the men ask the women if they each would accept a night in the fantasy suite with them and most have said yes. During Sean’s season, when it came to the fantasy suit week, he did not invite the girls to stay the night with him. This got a lot of attention from the media because it had never happened before.

            This portrayal of innocence was really interesting because Sean said nothing during any of the other weeks about his faith except for that particular week. Sean was mostly quiet about his faith, whether that was his decision or created through editing, until the week where he is “allowed” to sleep with the women. Once that week comes up, he begins saying that he will not sleep with the women because of personal beliefs. This order of events places a huge emphasis on only one aspect of the Christian faith. All of media was talking about how unusual it was that Sean was the first “virgin bachelor” and that was all they focused on.

            In 2000, an incredibly popular television show about a mother-daughter relationship began airing. Gilmore Girls (Sherman-Palladina, 2000) focuses around a young teenage girl named Rory and her journey through high school, with one of the main characters being her best friend, Lane Kim. Lane’s mother, Mrs. Kim is a very intense and strict Christian woman who only lets Lane out of her sight to go to school. She controls what music she listens to, what friends she has, what boys she talks to, and what extracurricular actives she can partake in.

            Mrs. Kim fits the very old stereotype of the legalistic Christian who is afraid of anything that does not explicitly relate to the Christian faith. Although the show follows Rory pretty closely, it also follows Lane and how her mother’s parenting affects her life. Gilmore Girls (Sherman-Palladino, 2000) shows scenes of Lane hiding her records in her floorboards and hiding her boyfriends from her mother. There is an episode where Mrs. Kim finds out about Lane’s boyfriend and she approaches him on the street telling him he is going to hell. Throughout the seasons we see Mrs. Kim’s anger and intensity create a divide in her relationship with her daughter. By the series finale she has moved in with two boys from her rock band and is married and pregnant with twins without any real restitution with her mother.

            Mrs. Kim is an illustration of the legalistic, strict without reason, angry Christian. She goes around telling anyone who believes different than her that they are going to hell and doesn’t apologize for any of it. She represses all of her daughter’s interests because she believes they are of the devil. This makes it so she never actually gets to know her daughter and have a healthy relationship with her. This stereotype is very familiar with most Americans because they have interacted with this type of Christian. It is interesting that the writer decided for the show to end with little restitution between the mother and daughter.

            Another piece of the Christian stereotypes that exist is the Christian who is very rude and tries to force her beliefs on to others. She pities those who do not believe and tells them they are going to hell. One of the characters in Easy A (Gluck, 2010) is a high school Christian who spends most of the movie rebuking other students in a very unloving way. She is portrayed as brainwashed and incredibly judgmental. A lot of the songs they sing during their morning Bible study are not real songs but were written for the movie. This character is the antagonist throughout the whole film. Easy A (Gluch, 2010) ends with the Christian character’s boyfriend contracting an STD from sleeping with the school counselor. This perpetuates two different stereotypes. The first is that Christians are judgmental and angry, with their only goal being to convert others and make them feel bad. The second is that most Christians end up “messing up” and it gets revealed.

            In 2014, Relevant magazine posted an article on how Christians are portrayed in television. The article talks about many of the points touched on above and agrees there are many Christian stereotypes exploited on television. This article talks about how these characters probably exist and are accepted because there are real life Christians out there who mirror these characters. I would agree with this statement. As much as I think all of these examples are very hyperbolic, I know that people like them really do exist. I go to a church in West Linn where I do not interact with many people like this. These characters are a jarring to me because I do not know any Christians in my life who are like this. However, I do know they exist.

            This analysis really helped me wrestle with and better understand my frustration at the portrayal of Christians in media and television. There are many other examples in other shows and movies where different stereotypes are focused on and blown up in order to make good tv. Looking at my all of my different artifacts really help break down the different stereotypes I was noticing and made me think about why that might be. The Relevant article I read was another great insight in to why these characters exist. Writing this paper helped me better understand my identity. It helped me think about what areas of Christian culture do I accept and find reasonable and what areas do I think this identity as a whole needs to grow in.

Bibliography

Easy A [Motion picture on DVD]. (2010). United States: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions. (2000). [Television series]. In Gilmore Girls.

Copeland, C. (2014, January 10). So you don’t like the way Christians are portrayed in                                    television? Relevant.

Latinos Portrayed in Disney Movies

The purpose of this research is to explore how Latinos are being portrayed in Disney movies. At a young age children are socialized from mass media and it affects their cognitive and social development. With the average child watching television 3-4 hours of television a day, television and film have the greatest impact of socialization in children (Gonzalez, 2009). Since 1937 Disney has been making movies that many of us have grown up with and loved. As kids we are shown our first glimpse of the larger world with movies like The Lion King and Aladdin. “We think that these are innocent kids movies, but they aren’t” (Avant-Mier, 2013). Of the different nationalities shown in Disney movies, Latinos are shown the least, and when they are shown they’re in the most stereotypical ways. Disney movies introduce and enforce negative stereotypes about Latinos to children. Children try to interpret and reason about race at an early age. For some children stereotypes can be difficult to tell the difference between fact and fiction. Stereotypes can affect children in many ways ranging from negative interracial exchanges, affecting their academic ability and mimicking theses stereotypes resulting in false representation (McKown and Strambler, 2009).

Children ages 3 to 5 are able to identify and create judgments about ethnicities apart from their own (Aboud, 1988). Disney does a good job showing the appearance of a Latino in the most stereotypical ways. There are two main kinds of appearances when it comes to these stereotypes, one is the macho look, and second is the greaser bandito. The word bandito comes from the Spanish word for bandit, the look is usually portrayed as a dirty, unshaven, missing teeth and greasy hair. A Disney character that portrays this kind of look is Tito from Oliver and Company. Tito is a small rugged chihuahua; he has a bite taken out of his ear and always wears a green bandana. The macho look is best portrayed in the movie Despicable Me 2. The character Eduardo had a thick black moustache; he wore an opened silk shirt that showed his chest hair and his gold chain. Eduardo looks like he was based off Scarface’s character Tony Montana.

Along with the appearance of Latinos, Disney does a good job using the stereotypical thick accent. In most cases Latino characters have thick accents that are used in a comical way. Kids associate the accents they hear in the movies to the ones they hear in real life. It is said that a kid who sees an antagonist with thick accents will have negative views on them in real life (Lippi-Green, 1997). Tito from Oliver and Company has a thick accent, voiced by Cheech Marin, and is used as the comic relief in the movie. Tito is shown being hyper active and is always trying to pick a fight. Marin voiced another Disney character Banzai, a hyena from The Lion King, and his accent was used in a similar way, the character was used in humor, as he was always getting hurt or joking around. Accents are used to add flavor and to distinguish themselves apart from other characters in the film. Tim Allen voices buzz Lightyear from Toy Story 3, however when he is switched to Spanish mode Javier Fernández-Peña voices him. The new voiceover added flare and a whole different dynamic to the character, making it very obvious that he wasn’t English anymore.

I find it interesting that Disney movies show Latinos having different social interaction than the rest of the characters. This is blatantly shown with Buzz Lightyear’s character in Toy Story 3. In the movie Buzz accidently gets switched to Spanish mode, his language not only changed but his interaction with the other characters changed as well. Buzz re-discovers the character Jessie and makes it know that he is interested in her. Buzz became very jealous with her friendship with Woody and not only did Buzz create a rivalry with Woody, he also made wooing Jessie his priority. The creators showed Buzz wooing Jessie in one of the most stereotypical ways, he used romantic words, using his masculinity and good looks, and he also knew how to salsa dance. This stereotype is known as a Latin lover. The Latin lover was first shown in the 1920’s by the work of Rudolph Valentino. The Latin lover is a stereotype of an attractive, charming, exotic, mysterious, masculine, passionate, hypersexual Latino (Sutherland and Feltey, 2013). This is a very common stereotype, and even though there is something to be said about being a ladies man, the stereotypes often makes them look like a sex symbol. In Despicable Me 2 both Eduardo and Antonio were portrayed as Latin Lovers. Antonio is smooth and seductive and he catches the interest of Gru’s daughter Margo. Gru does not trust Antonio throughout the film. Latin lovers are shown as sneaky and untrustworthy. Later in the film Margo catches Antonio flirting with another girl, proving to her that Gru was right not to trust him.

A very common stereotype that is used is that all Latinos are the same. Stated by World Atlas there are twenty countries that Spanish is the official language and each country has their own culture, yes there are similarities between each country but they are not the same. Most of the time kids don’t know different countries that speak Spanish but the one that is most commonly used is Mexico. Because of this it is shown to kids very early that all Latinos are Mexican. One similarity that not all Latinos share is the use of salsa music. The ironic part is that salsa music is very big in the Caribbean and Puerto Rico but not very much in Mexico. This doesn’t stop Disney from putting it into their movies, showing Latinos listening to salsa music and instinctively knowing how to salsa dance, like a dog knows how to swim. Tito from Oliver and Company is first shown listening to salsa music while the rest of the gang is sleeping; Tito is shown salsa dancing around the houseboat. In Toy story 3 when Buzz gets switched to Spanish mode and when he does he instinctively knew how to salsa dance, and continued to salsa dance to woo Jessie. The biggest use of salsa dance and music was used in Despicable Me 2. In the movie Eduardo was the owner or a Mexican restaurant called Salsa & Salsa, which included salsa music and salsa dancing. Eduardo was introduced salsa dancing on stage and throughout the restaurant. Antonio also knew how to salsa dance; he danced with Margo at the Cinco de Mayo party. When Antonio was caught flirting with another girl his comment was “you were a lucky girl that had the opportunity to dance with me.” Whenever the characters were in the restaurant there was salsa music playing in the background and when Eduardo or Antonio were on screen salsa music would play.

Since the beginning of film Latinos have been portrayed as bandits and that doesn’t change in Disney movies, as Latinos are associated with being criminals. In Oliver in Company the main character Oliver meets a gang of dogs that live on the streets. As a member of the gang, Tito is the only dog that knows how to hot wire a car and it’s his job to steal cars. The fact that the Latino dog is the only one that knows shows kids that all Latinos must steal cars. In Toy story 3 Mr. Potato Head is shown trying to escape from the day care. He transforms himself into a tortilla to slip away. A pigeon attacked him at tore him into strips, “hinting that they’re is something unnatural about the Latino incarnation” (Montilla, 2013). Lastly in Despicable Me 2 both characters were shown as untrustworthy villains. Gru recognized Eduardo as a super villain from twenty years earlier named El Macho. Eduardo continues to be El Macho throughout the film, trying to turn the minions into evil minions to destroy the world. Even though these movies are fun and meant to be shows as entertainment showing these characters to kids gives the impression that all Latinos are criminals.

In conclusion, Disney makes a lot of movies that most of us have grown up watching and loving, but that doesn’t stop the presence of negative stereotypes that we see every day in our society. Disney movies introduce and enforce negative stereotypes about Latinos to children. As kids we are shown that Latinos have very distinct thick accents that allow kids to have judgments about Latinos as a whole. Latinos are stereotypically shown as a bandito or having a macho look. Latinos interact with people in a different ways than the rest of the population such as a Latin lover. Latinos are portrayed as criminals and villains that create conflict with the rest of the characters. Finally, all Latinos are portrayed the same even though there are twenty countries that have Spanish as their official language. These stereotypes give kids a false representation of Latinos as a whole, and since it’s difficult for children to distinguish between reality and fiction many kids carry these beliefs into adulthood.

 

Resources

 

Avant-Mier, Roberto Despicable them: When a children’s movie makes stereotypes fun, that’s just wrong 2013

Wenke, Eric Accents in children’s animated features as a device for teaching children to ethnocentrically discriminate 1998

 

Allende Llona, Isabel Toying with the Latino Identity: Latinization in Toy Story 3 2010

 

Montilla, Patricia M. Latinos and American Popular Culture 2013

Sutherland, Jean-Anne and Feltey, Kathryn Cinematic Sociology: Social life in Film 2013

Aboud F.E Children and Prejudice, Oxford, England 1998

Lippi-Green, R Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States. London: Routledge 1997

Gonzalez, Mena The Media as an Influence on Socialization 2010

McKown, Clark and Strambler, Michael Development Antecedents and social and Academic Consequences of Stereotypes – Consciousness in middle school 2009

World Atlas www.worldatlas.com/spanish.htm

Filmography

Oliver and Company Dir. George Scribner, USA 1998

Toy Story 3 Dir. Lee Unkrich, USA 2010

Despicable Me 2 Dir. Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud, USA 2013

 

 

 

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.” SI.com. N.p., 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2015. http://www.si.com/swimsuit-2014/photos/2015/01/19/alex-morgan-2014-swimsuit-guana-island>.

Calzo, Jerel. “Gender Nonconformity and Athletic Self-Esteem.” Research Gate. The Society of Behavioral Medicine, 18 Dec. 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.researchgate.net%2Fpublication%2F259353199_Physical_Activity_Disparities_in_Heterosexual_and_Sexual_Minority_Youth_Ages_12-22_Years_Old_Roles_of_Childhood_Gender_Nonconformity_and_Athletic_Self-Esteem>.

“David Beckham Bodywear Underwear for H&M Commercial.” YouTube. Ed. Marc 6Atlan. YouTube, 6 Feb. 2013. Web. 07 Mar. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPcjTefW_Ao&gt;.

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. <http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/opus/issues/2012/fall/female&gt;.

She’s the Man. Dir. Andy Fickman. Perf. Amanda Bynes. Youtube She’s the Man. N.p., 3 Oct. 2011. Web. 20 Feb. 2015. <(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StziRu2t85Q)>.

Portrayal of Siblings in Television and Film

Having brothers or sisters is a trait that many can relate with. It is an identity that most people are a part of, and as such it is also something that is portrayed commonly in cinema and television. But how this trait is portrayed is important, and it is interesting to see the patterns that are present among several sources. However, when these images are viewed by a younger audience, several problems may arise. Children are much more impressionable than other audience members, and viewing these characters can cause serious issues. In fact, the characterization of siblings, in particular the comparison between older and younger siblings, has many recurring traits between different media, and can be especially problematic as it can make a bad impressions on developing children and teenagers.

The main difference used by the media to distinguish one sibling from another is intelligence. Not only is this a way to fuel stories for episodes, but it is also used to define who the character is. For example, Lisa and Bart Simpson from the 20th Century Fox show, The Simpsons. Lisa being intelligent is one of her few defining characteristics, as well as Bart’s remarkable dimwittedness. Lisa, Bart’s younger sister, is a gifted musician and student, who excels academically and is even a member of Mensa (Groening, “They Saved Lisa’s Brain). Bart, however, is the notorious ‘bad kid,’ who is always getting into trouble, over bad grades or other mischief. Many episodes of the show are centered on this difference of intelligence: whether they are solving some Hardy Boys’ style mystery or trying to write an episode of their favorite cartoon, Itchy & Scratchy (Groening, “The Day the Violence Died”). This is distinction is glaringly clear in the episode “Bart vs. Lisa vs. the Third Grade”. In this episode, their elementary school gives an ‘achievement test’ that determines how well they are doing; Lisa spends all week studying, and Bart watches TV. Lisa does so well that she gets promoted to the third grade, while Bart does so poorly that he is demoted to the third grade. They are soon forced to cope with their differences and survive being in the same class (Groening, “Bart vs. Lisa vs. The Third Grade”). While Lisa studies harder and harder for each test, Bart finds ways to cheat on them. Where Lisa excels in intelligence, Bart is more deceiving and clever. This is only one example of many featured in the series. This difference of intelligence between siblings is arguably the most defining qualities of the children on The Simpsons. It is certainly a plot device for many episodes, and has remained consistent throughout the seasons. And it is not isolated to this show either. Intelligence is also a defining factor in Fox’s Malcolm in the Middle.

Arguably the most defining characteristics of the main children on Malcolm in the Middle is their intelligence. It is a theme that is brought up several times, and is the center of many episodes. The family consists of several characters: Dewey, the youngest son; Malcolm, the next youngest son; Reese, the second eldest; and Francis, the eldest son; as well as their parents Hal and Lois. Malcolm is the center of the show, and is often portrayed as the smartest, however Dewey is also considered to be rather intelligent. These characteristics are clearly demonstrated in the episode “Dewey’s Special Class.” After seeing Malcolm struggle in the ‘Krelboyne’ class for the smart children, Dewey intentionally throws an intelligence test and is placed in the remedial class. There, he soon becomes the unofficial leader when the other children recognize his intelligence (Boomer, “Dewey’s Special Class”). This class later becomes an outlet for Dewey to express his knowledge and creativity when he is not at home, and is a clear demonstration of his talents. This is contrasted by episodes that star their brother Reese, such as “Reese’s Party.” In this is episode, Reese throws a party while their parents are out of town. However, the situation quickly escalates when some guests turns it into a meth cooking operation. Reese eventually turns to Dewey to solve the problem, which he does by calling the guests’ parents (Boomer, “Reese’s Party”). This is just another example of these characters fitting their roles. Dewey is once again portrayed as the smart child, and Reese as the dimwitted older brother who needs help. Although the family structure is different, they dynamics bare a resemblance to that of The Simpsons. In both shows, the younger child is the most intelligent, and the elder is not. Where Lisa and Dewey both exceed, Bart and Reese fail. It is clearly a reoccurring role that extends further than just these series’ own episodes, but is found in other series as well. In fact, using intelligence to define a sibling is not just a tool used by television series, but is also found in cinema.

This type of characterization is also found in the 1990 comedy film, Home Alone. The film follows Kevin McCallister, a boy who is mistakenly left home alone while the rest of the family leaves on vacation. Kevin has a few siblings, but the most prominent character is his elder brother, Buzz. In the beginning, Buzz is quickly portrayed as a dimwitted jock. It is made clear by the sports posters adorning his room, as well as his ‘bully’ attitude towards Kevin (Home Alone). His intelligence is further demonstrated later in the film. When asked whether he is worried about Kevin being left at home, he responds, “No, for three reasons: A, I’m not that lucky. Two, we use smoke detectors and D, we live on the most boring street in the whole United States of America, where nothing even remotely dangerous will ever happen” (Home Alone). Clearly, anyone who uses the characters A, 2, and D as to number a list of three items is not too bright. Kevin’s defining characteristic, on the other hand, is his incredible cleverness. The entire plot of the film is centered on Kevin outsmarting the criminals that are out to rob his house. He uses clever traps and distractions, such heating up doorknobs to burn them, and throwing marbles on the ground to make the burglars slip and fall (Home Alone). It is Kevin’s ingenuity alone that defends the house, and is what defines Kevin’s character. Once again, this role assignment of intelligence is placed on these characters: the youngest Kevin, is the extremely intelligent, and the older brother, Buzz, is not. Buzz is used as tool to further demonstrate how smart Kevin is, and by the end of the film, even he is impressed with Kevin’s accomplishments. It is a very similar, if not the same character pattern that is found in both The Simpsons and Malcolm in the Middle.

But why is this pattern important? The most glaring problem is that all these example are from media that is commonly viewed by younger audiences, a group that is extremely impressionable. Children are influenced by many outside sources as they develop, and exposure to television programs is one of the major contributors. According to the University of Michigan Health System, television plays a large part in a child’s development, especially their social interactions. They explain that children who watch TV often accept stereotypes that are commonly portrayed, and sometimes adopt them (Boyse). This means that children who see characters similar to themselves on television, such as Bart Simpson or Kevin McCallister, might adopt this idea of sibling characterization. As they develop, they might feel forced into the role of the dimwitted sibling, especially if they believe that they have a brother or sister that they feel is more intelligent than they are. Because they witness these sibling stereotypes on the television, they could potentially feel obligated to fill a similar role. This important to understand, as children who see characters similar to themselves on television are much more likely to identify with them and model their behavior after them (Evra, 243). By modeling behavior after these television shows, children might suffer these developmental problems, and limit themselves in order to fit these stereotypical roles. Luckily, this problem can be avoided entirely. By restricting what a child watches, until well after their impressionable stages, this would no longer be a problem.

Having a sibling is a common trait that many people share. Because of this, sibling interactions and stereotypes are portrayed frequently in modern media. After analyzing several examples of this identity, a clear pattern has emerged. No matter the age gap or gender differences, siblings are often divided by difference of intelligence. Although this can provide material for episodes and other content, it can have serious consequences. Clearly dividing the siblings can effect younger audiences who view them, and have a negative impact on their development. It can force children into these stereotyped roles, and inhibit them later in life. Although it is not difficult to solve this problem, it is necessary that steps must be taken; the lives of developing children could be at stake.

Works Cited

Boomer, Linwood. “Dewey’s Special Class.” Malcolm in the Middle. Dir. David D’Ovidio. 20th Century Fox. 2 May 2004. Television.

Boomer, Linwood. “Reese’s Party.” Malcolm in the Middle. Dir. Levie Isaacks. 20th Century Fox. 27 Apr. 2003. Television.

Boyse, Kyla. “University of Michigan Health System.” Television (TV) and Children: Your Child:. University of Michigan Health System, Aug. 2010. Web. 01 Mar. 2015.

Evra, Judith Van. Television and Child Development. Hillsdale, NJ: L. Erlbaum Associates, 2004. Print.

Groening, Matt. “Bart vs. Lisa vs. the Third Grade.” The Simpsons. Dir. Steven D. Moore. 20th Century Fox. 17 Nov. 2002. Television.

Groening, Matt. “The Day the Violence Died.” The Simpsons. Dir. Wesley Archer. 20th Century Fox. 17 Mar. 1996. Television.

Groening, Matt. “They Saved Lisa’s Brain.” The Simpsons. Dir. Pete Michels. 20th Century Fox. 9 May 1990. Television.

Home Alone. Dir. Chris Columbus. By John Hughes. Perf. Macaulay Culkin and Joe Pesci. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, 1990. Film.

Nerds now

The first documented use of the word Nerd is in the 1950 Dr. Seuss story, If I Ran the Zoo, in which a boy named Gerald McGrew made a large number of delightfully extravagant claims as to what he would do, if he were in charge at the zoo. Among these was that he would bring a creature known as a Nerd from the land of Ka-Troo. The accompanying illustration showed a grumpy humanoid with unruly hair and sideburns, wearing a black T-shirt.But since then so  many thing got changed and word nerd become more complex  people identified as nerds became popular over the last decade and were suddenly tolerated by outsiders. This change of society’s perception has three reasons; first, the definition of the term “nerd” has changed in a positive way, second, the nerd culture became an essential part of our everyday life, and third, the successful American media featured nerds heavily in globally watched TV series, movies and played video games.

Firstly, a reason for nerds’ sudden popularity lies in the positively altered definition of the term “nerd”. It changed from the old nerd picture of a socially-impaired person to an ordinary, acceptable human. Before the decade, nerds were seen as “machine like and socially awkward” .The reason for this lies in their enthusiasm towards technology and knowledge rather than emotional and physical interactions. Therefore, they enjoy studying, “getting A’s in school” and playing with machines more than seeking for emotional relationship. Non-nerds were confused by nerds’ logic and rational communication and their misunderstanding of humor and feelings. Therefore, most nerds cannot understand jokes, which were considered as normal and cool, about or between people.In addition nerds were society’s outsiders and perfect bully victims. The image of the “ultimate male” pictured an athletic man with physical exertion. Surfers, cowboys, and basketball players were “the heroes of American popular culture”, not nerds with their underweight body, big glasses, and shirts of video game characters. Nerds were seen as ugly boys who are unpopular with women .Essentially, in the last decade, nerds were just “uncool” and “creepy”.

In contrast, nerds nowadays are seen as ordinary humans with a fanatical interest in a subject or several subjects. They interact in groups and have fashionable clothes.for example I can mention a few characters in different well known movies like on last James bond movie there is character that helps James bond through earphone or in movie harry potter the character Hermoine or Harry himself  .This obsessive interest can be broad but generally lies in technology and the idea of “precision” .However, many people do not mind this anymore and do not call them machine like. They can understand this passion as they are interested in technology, as well. The rise of computers and smartphones made almost everyone a technology user and let them understand why technology is attractive. Moreover, all people including nerds inform themselves about the same technology which leads to conversation topics that were not found before. Although some nerds are shy, they can talk passionately about their hobbies and passions. Now they have the opportunity to talk to “ordinary” people, too. The image of a social loner has been altered, as well, as nerds typically gather in groups now and celebrate their interests. One can see this group movement, for example, in the countless websites divorced to “nerdy” interests such as manga, comics, and technology. Also, the group movement is evident in the multiply societies at universities and in the enormous commercial conventions like the “Comic-Con” or “gamescom”, which attract thousands of visitors each year. also, the “nerd” style with large glasses and video game character T-shirts inspired some designers such as Carmen Marc Valvo to create clothes collections to reflect on it. These clothes are quite profitable which imbues companies to invest in it. One example for this would be the popular website thinkgeek.com, which only sells “nerdy” clothes and other gadgets with much success. So the clothes and accessories of nerds became fashionable and attractive for everyone. Therefore, nerds are a part of the society today and are accepted with their unique lifestyle and attitude.

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-2032551 http://cos.h-cdn.co/cm/14/25/53a0ba74045b6_-_cos-01-matt-damon-nerd-0b0puh-de.jpeg

 

Secondly, over the last decade the nerd culture became an essential part of human’s everyday life. Technology, science, and “nerdy” interests dominate the modern world. Technology is accepted and appreciated today by nearly anyone. Moreover, in everyone’s life one can find technology. Smartphones, computers, TVs, MP3 players, microwaves, cars and plenty more technical instruments are the life partners of humans. This technology is used without any thoughts. In other words, “the technology associated with nerds is now seen as hip”. The pessimism towards technology is gone, now humans are dependent on it. Especially younger generations cannot imagine living without the new technology anymore

Beside this, “nerdy interests” strike more attention nowadays. In the past, comics were seen as nerdy art and books. Moreover, the audience was considered as children or nerds. No “normal” teen or adult would read them. However, this audience profile changed due to the commercially successful comic movie adaptions such as “The Dark Knight”, “Iron Man”, and “Hulk”. In addition, the recent movie “Marvel’s The Avengers” demonstrated impressively that a comic movie adaption can attract millions of people and achieve record sales globally. As it was just released in America, one can expect way more sales and breakthrough records (Marvel 2012). Because of these movies, adults gained more interest in comics and are willing to read them. In this manner, not only nerds and children are reading comics, but also ordinary adults.

Another nerdy interest, which is accepted all over, is the allure of fantasy and science fiction. Nearly everyone is fascinated by the supernatural, but due to the technology pessimism in the past nobody wanted to hear or talk about it. However, as comics such as “X-Men” and “Marvel’s The Avengers” as well as movies like “Star Wars”, “E.T.”, and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” were successful, the general audience wanted to read and see more fantasy and science fiction work, not only nerds. In addition, theme parks such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios are based on the fantastic and science fiction theme and are enjoyed by their visitors. In this manner, the nerdy interests that isolated the nerds from the society became an essential part of it. Moreover, these interests influence society’s life in significant ways.

 

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. We are a society just looking at the outliers of a cultural trend because they attract the most attention and we accept the easily from my research on how nerds are portrayed in popular culture articles, videos and blogs I would say that overall, society as a whole, has made the effort to explore and show all the aspects of being nerd, although stereotypical nerds make up the majority of the group. I would also state that it is a good thing that this new picture of nerds is replacing other outdated portrayal. I consider myself one of these people and wish I could see myself more and better in popular culture

 

WORKS CITED

Burners are Brain Dead

Burning Man participants are eccentric drug consuming tribalistic animal abusing hippies.   These descriptions come from satirical American sitcoms and are definitely exaggerations of stereotypes for the sake of humor. But what are the Burning Man stereotypes that the comedy writers are exaggerating? Are those stereotypes based on reality, or are they completely fabricated? I decided to watch sitcom episodes based on Burning Man and examine the stereotypes. I expected to see the Burning Man participants, or Burners, portrayed as one dimensional hippy types that are often used in sitcoms for comic relief. I definitely found this representation to be a common thread, but was also surprised to find positive characters as well.

I decided to watch three different episodes that I hadn’t previously watched so that I could be as objective as possible. The Simpsons Blazed and Confused, Malcolm in the Middle Burning Man, and Reno 911 Burning Man Festival. I’m a fan of these shows but have always avoided the Burning Man episodes because I didn’t want to dislike the show because of bad stereotyping. I wish I hadn’t been so stubborn to this point because the episodes were pretty good and I had been missing out.

All the shows seemed to agree on one thing. The costumes. Lots of faux fur, bright lights, wings, and so on. The representation of costumes was fair on the three shows. They showed a wide variety outfits while the actual costumes were fair, the ratio of costumed to non-costumed burners was definitely off. The Simpsons showed everyone not in the usual cast in a Burning Man costume. ,   Image searches of Burning Man bring up tons of examples of the outrageous costumes so I imagine it was easy to imitate by the show producers. Burning Man is often described as a tribal experience and two shows took this very literally. The Simpsons and Malcolm in the Middle both had groups of people dressed in traditional native outfits dancing around a fire. The scenes looked more like something from national geographic then from Burning Man. They were funny representations though and not at all offensive.

The shows also got another thing right. Experiences vary. Each person has their own series of events play out on any vacation and experiences always vary. In the Malcolm in the Middle episode the family was divided on their experiences. Lois and Reece loved their time at Burning Man and wanted to go back next year. Hal, Malcolm, and Dewey didn’t want anything to do with it. First time burners often see this divide to some degree. I think I was more surprised to see any of the characters say that they like the event and wanted to go back.

The shows also got plenty wrong about Burning Man. Most of the discrepancies were probably done for comic value and are harmless but they were inaccurate. Cacti showed up in two episodes and created first aid opportunities. Cactus doesn’t grow near the event though. Neither Malcolm in the Middle or the Simpsons showed any kind of law enforcement in their episodes. Law enforcement is present, both state and federal, and this isn’t something that is hidden well. The absence of law enforcement had to be intentional in order to create a greater sense of lawlessness. Burning Man is often portrayed as unorganized chaos but this just isn’t the case. The event is very organized and people are often surprised by how smoothly the event is run.

One of the most surprising things I saw was in the Simpsons episode. In one of the first scenes at Burning Man a couple people were dressed in traditional tribal wear, masks and all, and were spinning fire at a pig, who was also wearing a mask. The pig was terrified. I know it’s only a cartoon sitcom and no animal was in harm’s way, but I still found it somewhat offensive. The writers were trying to create an atmosphere of lawlessness and chaos and used that scene to support the environment. It was definitely a surprise to see burners represented in this way because they are, for the most part, animal lovers and activists.

The Reno 911 episode was a very funny take on Burning Man. Three of the shows stars got dressed up in full costume and tried to take a rental van to the event so that they could “Bust all those LSD taking hippies”. They got lost a lot and spent plenty of time turning the van around and arguing about directions. They eventually ran out of gas and never made it to the event. This sort of thing actually happens when people who have never drove to Burning Man decide to take up the challenge. Even though they never actually got to the event they managed to make multiple references about Burners and drug abuse.

The most surprising thing I saw was in the Malcolm in the Middle episode. Malcolm was asked by his parents why he wanted to go and he gave a heartfelt explanation about the meaning of Burning Man. His explanation sounds like it was written by a person who had experienced the event and had a great time. It was nice to hear something positive when it wasn’t expected.

“Burning Man is an incredible, interactive experiment in human creativity, where you do art, just for art’s sake, and you make music from instruments that came to you in dreams. It’s the only place you’re free to let go and really see what you’re capable of creating without worrying what anyone else thinks! That is what Burning Man is all about!”

The entire episode seemed to be fair to Burning Man and its participants. The highs, the lows, and the unexpected. Not everyone had a good time but those that did had a life altering experience. In my experiences with Burning Man this seems to be the case for those going to the event for the first time. This was the least stereotypical representation of Burners but still pushed the dopey hippy character.

The Malcolm in the Middle episode lacked what the other episodes lacked though. Well educated science-minded participants. Burning Man is full of them, but they usually dress plainly and tend to not stick out as much. They don’t focus on creating crazy costumes but instead, they focus on art based engineering. Mutant vehicles are a huge part of the event and aren’t constructed by drugged up hippy character often portrayed by the media, but by responsible, well-educated contributors to society. EDN magazine is an engineering publication. Last year they published an article on the fun of engineering projects for Burning Man. The author Steve Taranovich has a masters of electronic engineering and described these Burning Man engineering feats as this: “A Mutant Vehicle is a unique, motorized creation that shows little or no resemblance to their original form, or to any standard street vehicle. Mutant Vehicles are radically, stunningly, (usually) permanently, and safely modified from their base vehicle. Sometimes the whole vehicle is made from scratch.” ­­I agree with Steve’s sentiment about the complexity of the projects. Stereotypical drug taking hippies could never pull it off.

Shaun Maguire writes a blog for the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter at Cal-tech. His article “Science at Burning Man: Say What?” explores the science at burning man and challenges the typical stereotypes usually associated with Burners. Shaun camps with about 200 other scientists and can talk endlessly about the brain power needed to construct Burning Man projects. His roommates are in the middle of their theses at Cal Tech and decided to build a 3 million volt musical Tesla coil, just for fun. The contraption ended up standing over 20 feet tall when completed. Other science and engineering students volunteered time and brain power to help build it. Shaun says “You should come away convinced that there’s much more to the festival than just ‘a bunch of hippies doing drugs in the desert and listening to music.’ He agrees that the typical Burning Man stereotype is misguided and is an unfair representation of most participants. His blog post does a great job of portraying participants as very well educated and science minded. A stark contrast to the typical hippy image.

Engineering types aren’t the only ones flexing their brains at Burning Man. Tristan Ursell, a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University, brings a mobile micro-zoo to the dessert. He provides microscopes and slides full of interesting things to look at ranging from trumpet-shaped protozoa to human skin. During the day he shows Burners the wonders of the micro world, and at night he joins his campmates and hosts topical talks about various things including stem cells and 3-D modeling (LeCompte). Tristan is like many Burners not represented by pop culture. He is well educated, articulate, and driven to succeed.

I began this exploration expecting to see an unfair representation of Burning Man participants full of exaggerated stereotypes. While I did find that, it was usually light-hearted and funny and wasn’t to the degree that I expected. My biggest complaint isn’t what I saw, but what I didn’t see. Well educated, rational, responsible people were nowhere to be found. Burning Man is full of those people but since they don’t grab headlines or make good satirical targets they’re not often referenced. I imagine this is the case with many stereotypes that are perpetuated in pop culture. Take the extreme case of any given social setting and wildly exaggerate it for comic relief. I’m a huge fan of comedic satire so I need to just except that from time to time I’ll be mis-represented in favor of a few laughs, and that’s fine with me.

Works Cited

LeCompte Celeste. Scientists Showcase the Wonders of the World at Burning Man Festival. Scientific American. Oct 155 2013. Viewed Feb 18 2015.           http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/scientists-showcase-the-wonders-of-the-world-at-burning-man-festival/

Maguire Shaun. Science at Burning Man, Say What?. Quantum Frontiers. Blog. October 15 2014. Viewed Feb 20 2015. http://quantumfrontiers.com/2014/10/15/science-at-burning-man-say-what/

Malcolm in the Middle: Burning Man. Season 7 episode 1. Sep 30 2005.

Reno 911!: Burning Man episode. Season 1 episode 10. September 24 2003.

Taranovich Steve. “Can engineering be fun?: Nuvation and “Burning Man”. EDN Network website. August 16 2013. Viewed Feb 20 2015. http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/anablog/4419775/Can-engineering-be-fun–Nuvation-and–Burning-Man-

The Simpsons: Blazed and Confused, Season 26, Episode 7. TV show. Fox broadcasting. Nov 16 2014.

Stereotypes of Chinese figures in Pop Culture

Popular culture

Jiali Zhang

With the popularity of “made in China”,China has became the world of factory. Chinese characters were gradually emerging into American popular culture, and especially in movies. However, with a limited understanding on this oriental country, which has a 5000-year history full of mysteries, the Chinese images have been strongly stereotyped in pop culture. This essay will provide a respectively analyze on Chinese figures, which are often been heroized, demonized and ignored in American pop culture. I feel it is worth noticing those misunderstanding; because in today’s society, media can create a huge influence to public attitudes. People may much more easier to receive information, concepts and news from the media (Chen, 2006). The reason why I pick up movies as my research objects is because movies have been one of the powerful tools to spread information in today’s society (Shah, 2006). The one-sided description of Chinese figure would cause U.S. audiences having a limited understanding on Chinese culture. Also it may bring psychological harm to those Chinese who are staying in American.

The way of presenting Chinese character in pop culture is not out of nothing. In fact, it has very deeply historical reasons. In the past century, Chinese, as outsiders, were writing their struggling history in American society. Nowadays, the new establishment and development of Chinese government is attracting more and more attention from other countries. However when Chinese characters finally got a slight expression in media, the figures of them were formed into extremely ends. The Chinese figures are often portrayed as Kung Fu masters,villains or nobody.

First of all Chinese were often misrepresented as Kung Fu masters in pop culture. When talking about Chinese Kung Fu fashion among Americans, “Bruce Lee” may come to peoples’ mind immediately. He has become one of the most influential symbols in American popular culture. Lee not only made a great contribution to show the Chinese-American self-confident, but also brought up a global wave of Chinese Fung Fu (Richer, 2011). Since then, the element of Kung Fu became a new darling of Hollywood movies, which was frequently broadcasted on big screens. More and more Chinese Kung Fu actors were recognized in popular culture, such as Jacky Chen, Jet Li, etc. In those movies Chinese figures usually play as the roles of heroes. For example in the movie Rush hour 3, the detective Lee (Jacky Chen) climbed up a building without any post–production and associate-equipment, he also fight on the top of the Eifel Tower without any protection; and he finally destroyed the international gang called “Triad” with his partner James Carter (Chris Tucker ornaments). In the movie The Tuxedo, Chinese driver Jimmy became a super agent and fight against the dark forces by using his magic power. Moreover, the cartoon movies also start to involve the Kung Fu elements as well. The most famous one was Kung Fu Panda, which was made by DreamWorks Studio, one of the biggest American movie producers. From these movies, Chinese figures have been given the image to American audients that Chinese people have extraordinary skills be the hero with legends, and with the mythologized “Kung Fu”(keith,2013).

Such a high intensive exposure makes Chinese people as synonymous as Kung Fu masters to American. I still remember when I first introduced myself to the classmate, one of my native friends said that “Oh, you are Chinese, you must know Kung Fu, do you guys practice Kung Fu everyday?” That is a total a misunderstanding. The truth is that not every Chinese know play Kung Fu; on the contrary, only a small group people may know it. Kung Fu is a traditional fighting skill, people who want to learn it needs to accept the special training. They not only need to have physical strength and stamina, but also need to have a deep understanding on Chinese philosophy Enlarging the Kung Fu element too much may cause people in other countries have a misconception on Chinese culture. Even for “Kung Fu” itself it is not only about fighting and wining, it has more cultural understandings behind of that. The real purpose for practicing Kung Fu is about self-development and healthy feeling the harmony connection between self and universe, and even more, feeling the philosophy and the principle of the eternal truth. When they fighting for something it is a protection for faith, justice and love. This is also what Chinese culture looking for (Zhong, 2011).

Secondly, Chinese characters in American pop culture are often covered by the evil mask. Most of them are supporting roles and only have a few lines. The common point of those movies is: Chinese are villains. The images of Chinese males are mostly portrayed as the gang members; while the female characters are often presented as killers, prostitutes or witches…(Chen, 2006). For example, in the series of Lethal Weapon, the detectives Roger and Martin works together to duel with a powerful boss who is a Kung Fu master from the mysterious China. In movie of Tomb Raider 6, Chinese actor Simon Yam plays a leader of big gang. The Joy Luck Club is an old film, which is talking about Chinese women. However, the Chinese men still didn’t get rid of the negative representation; they were portrayed as a metamorphosis that often persecuted Chinese women. Last but not the least, In Pirates of the Caribbean 3 Chinese movie star Chow Yun- Fat played a role of Asian pirate captain and give American audiences a very vicious impression.

These kinds of negative representation will subconsciously give the public a bad impression on Chinese. In addition, these may reduce the reputation of Chinese people intentionally. This may also will result in hostility to China and cause a certain racial discrimination.

Thirdly, according to my research, Chinese characters in pop culture are mostly represented as co-stars. In another word, they are nobodies; sometimes they even do not have any speech. Most of them are immigrants, which are presented as laundress, housekeepers or waiter/waitress. They usually have very low social class and speak with accents. They were divorced from the mainstream of American society. For example, In the Desperate Housewives Mei is an illegal immigrant form China who suffered in China and almost be sold by her uncle. As a result, She has to smuggle into the United States in order to seek a protection. She stays in Gaby’s home and become a housemaid. In the first season ep.4, she was described as a person who is using sock to clean the house. Moreover, in the ep.14, Gaby said that Mei would realize what was the real democracy and freedom in US, which she may not really have in China, back to her hometown. Mei is only one extraordinary example, which could not represent the overall Chinese situation, but it will probably give out a misunderstanding on Chinese society’s situations to U.S. audiences.

The Chinese image in the movies may act as the decorative elements. For example In the Pursuit of Happyness, a Chinese old lady appeared 1or 2 minutes. She has been given the information that she is selfish, greed, and don’t understand any English in such a short period of time. Some of Chinese characters may heighten the main characters or narrative. For example in the beginning of Once upon a time in America, the director gave a shot of China town, with Chinese passers in the screen who are famished and numb. The long braid behind the man is very old fashion and particular striking. This kind of description made a contrast to the rest of piece with the senses in modern city surroundings. Also, in the Batman 3, there was a Chinese father who was afraid to go into the flames and save his children. His cowardice foils the braveness and justice of American spirit.

According to Chen, “After more than two decades of serving as welcome source of cheap labor and earning a reputation for industry, honestly and a peaceful disposition, the Chinese had become the object of scorn” (Chen, 2006). Chinese characters often play supporting roles and sometimes they may act as the ridiculous elements in the popular culture. Many artifacts may intentionally misunderstand Chinese and Chinese culture with characteristics as the selfish, wretched, funny roles in many movies. This kind of situation may marginalize Chinese in American society. It certainly reflects the exclusion of foreign culture in Untied States.

Under the influence of globalization, development of technology and diversified cultural exchanges, simplifying, unifying a foreign culture may increase efficiency to study them (Chen, 2006). However, the incomplete descriptions of Chinese may intensify the social and cultural differences. With the popularity of the Internet and communication technologies, disseminating the stereotyped images of the Chinese will have a huge impact. Because of the real scene and the nearly perfect props, the stereotypical figures of the Chinese in movies are giving a sense of real to American audiences. The impression of Chinese has been changed from Qing- style long braid and foot binding to Chinese food and Chinese Kung Fu, the Chinese figures have been modeled as backward, humble and mysterious in pop culture. Popular culture brings the image of Chinese into the global arena. This not only make people have a misunderstanding of the reality of Chinese images;it may also cause those misunderstanding figure become the fixed impression and not easy to be changed in the real world. According to the article “ How Do Movies Affect Society?” that “Movies portray reality yet reality portrays movies” (Yuan, 2012). In another word, movies and reality are interacting to each other. As a result, the incomplete description of Chinese in movies may give the wrong self-perception to some Chinese in the United Stated.

Movies are the time-limited artifacts. As a result, the audience should notice that the descriptions within the time frame maybe incomplete. Some screenwriters may exaggerate some parts of details in order to create the dramatic conflicts and attack the commercial interests. To the audiences, we would better to use tolerant attitudes to admire other countries’ culture from different perspectives, in order to have a comprehensive understanding on foreign culture.

Reference

Chen, Y. (2006). Stereotypical images of Chinese characters in Hollywood films,

1910–2005.

Yuan, L. (2012). How Do Movies Affect Society?

Shah, V. (2011). The Role of Film in Society

Richer, J. (2011). The President and the Dragon: The Rise of Bruce Lee in the

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Rush Hour 3 [Motion picture on DVD]. (2007). USA: New Line Home Video.

The Tuxedo [Motion picture on DVD]. (2002). USA: American Broadcasting Company.

Keith, Z. (2013). Hollywood Asian Stereotypes.

Lethal Weapon [Motion picture on DVD]. (2000). USA: Warner Home Video.

CCTV Science and Technology Channel. Wudang Taiji. (2011). Episode8.

Kung Fu Panda [Motion picture on DVD]. (2008). USA: Paramount Home Entertainment.

The Joy Luck Club [Motion picture on DVD]. (2002). USA: Buena Vista Home

Entertainment.

Desperate Housewives. (2004). First season, ep.4 and ep.14

The Pursuit of Happyness [Motion picture on DVD]. (2007). USA: Sony Picture Home

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Once upon a time in America [Motion picture on DVD]. (2003). USA: Warner Home

Video.

 

My Analysis for Asian Stereotypes in American Media

As an Asian student who studies in America, I found out the stereotypes of Asian-American in media is interesting and different with what I thought. Like when I was in China all the stereotypes I know about American are from the movie or the TV show I watch. When I came to America, it is totally different than what I saw in the movie. Also, the stereotypes about Asian-American are based on what people fell in their daily life or what they saw in the media. The stereotypes in media also different with what people think about from their daily life. Because the development in Asia is fast, more and more Asian came to America. From the report, there is 5.6% of the total population, and half of them born in America. More native Asian-American happened because there are Asian came to America and had family long time ago. The new Asians who born in America are people get media and other’s attention. The new Asians makes the different idea happened. What people’s idea is from the Asian in their daily life, they went school or work with, but the one in media are people who born in Asia. People may already change, but the stereotypes are still there. I will analysis three popular culture artifacts that are Bruce Lee’s Martial Arts Movies; “The Big Bang Theory” and “The Face of Fu Manchu” & “Jimmy Kimmel Show”. These popular culture artifacts would show three different stereotypes about Asian in America media.

When people talked about Asian, the first thing they will think about would be martial art. I have seen lots of movies that show martial art about Asian, no matter it is a Chinese movie or Japanese or Thai Movie. Different countries’ people but all knows martial art; this makes a fun stereotype about Asian that if you are an Asian you need to know martial art. But this stereotype does not only happen because the movie but also the class people take. People can easy to find taekwondo or Tai Chi class. American are not the only one who interested; the Asians are more interested than Americans, and they go to learn it, it is kind of true for people think Asian knows martial art. The artifact I found is about Bruce Lee (Bruce Lee’s Martial Arts Movies-YouTube), and even he died for years but, people still can remember his act in the movie. Most of Bruce’s movie was talking about how people fight back with villains by using his Kung-Fu. These movies are indelibility not only because the story but also because the martial arts in the movie. These movies made fifty years ago, but people still can remember it, this shows how profound these movies are. Bruce Lee’s movie may start gave people an idea of martial art, and when these kinds of movies came to America, the stereotype is indelible in people’s mind. But people think Bruce Lee in Asian is different than what people think about him in America. From the IMBD, people think Bruce Lee as a well actor that “greatest icon of martial arts cinema and a key figure in modern popular media.”(IMBD) He is only a successful actor in American’s thinking. But for Asian’s view, people are more focus on Bruce’s life. He was unsuccessful when he first arrive America, because he did not have a good grade and always fight with others. But he got success after he came to America and people in Asia were remembering of this. On the other hand, because Bruce Lee people start to have interested in martial art. Like the “Kung Fu Panda” was put two stereotypes together, the panda and martial art. For my personal expensive I always get the question about this movie star like Jackie Chen or Bruce Lee, or questions like do I know the martial arts. These are made me pride because martial arts are cool, and I am glad I can be an Asian.

Except the martial arts, another important stereotype people have for Asian is good at study but cannot speak English or having conversion with people well. No matter in people’s mind or they saw in school; the Asian student was always good at study. But on the other hands they just good at study, they do not like to talk with others much, and they never are a good leader. In the famous TV show big bang theory, one of the geniuses Rajesh, this character is from India and study in America, like most of the Asian he is smart but shy to talk with people. Also, he has the strange accent that people would laugh at him sometime in the show, but he also have friends who support him all the time (The Big Bang Theory-YouTube). As an international student, I think what the stereotype shows in the show is true. The idea in America and Asian is different. Spend lots of time also causes Asian students good at study. Their parents told them the only thing they need to worry about would be a study, and they do not need to worry about the money problem. But except study, they do not have much time to do other things, this causes them shy and cannot be a good leader. Also, almost all Asian students have accent if they not born in America, no matter they from India, Japan, Korean, China or other countries. The accent in different countries are different, this is why Asian cannot speak English well. Sometimes Asian is not good at study, they just out too much time to study, everyone spend that time to study can get a good grade. I think another reason Asians are shy because they are not good at English. When I am in school I scary to talk with people because I afraid they cannot understand me. Even though they are kind to me, but I still shy to talk with people, I think most of the Asians are same as me. They are willing to talk with people in native language but shy to talk in English.

The martial and good at study are good stereotypes, but nothing is perfect. Another stereotype I want to talk about was the “Yellow Peril”. People may not familiar with this word now, but it was in people’s mind for hundreds of years. The meaning of yellow peril means the yellow skin color will influence the global position of white people. The theory of yellow peril first brings up in Europe when Huns attack Europe with his army. At that time, Huns are too strong that no one can defeat them. At the Holmes’s story, one character called “Dr. Fu Manchu” (The Face of Fu Manchu-YouTube). In the movie or the novel, Dr. Fu Manchu was the evilest person in the world. Later on a British writer wrote a series of novel about this evilest guy. The reason people write or make this character is to let people in Europe have the mind of the Asian of evil. The movie or novel are published everywhere in Europe, and it gives people an idea that Asian will make their life worse, and they should avoid them. This theory also becomes one of the reason Europeans attack China or Japan during the 1800s. Now this theory is changing but still exists.

The new “Yellow Peril” theory started in U.S in late 1800s; Americans bring Chinese to build the road. When they finish, they found these Chinese starts take over their jobs (Sharp, Gwen). After that, in the recent years, Chinese and Japanese economy grow extremity fast, and American scary these Asian will take over their status of the economy all over the world. I have seen a video from Jimmy shows, in this show Jimmy was asked children how to pay back the money America borrow from China. One of the kid said killed all Chinese then they will never need to pay for the money. Also, another child said to build a wall is not let Chinese ask for the money (“Jimmy Kimmel Show”-YouTube). These kids may not old enough to have a mature thinking, but they are also not joking about this. Some of the people not see Asian as one of them and have hostility with Asian. They are not only aim at China but also with other Asian countries like Japan or India. Japan is big economic country, and India are like another China, they have more people than China and now the economic in India growth as fast as China. Now Asian-Americans are the people who earn most for the average salary, lots of Asian work on well-street or different bank. There might be people who think that is these Asian took their opportunity and let them lose the job. I never got the hostility like this and people are all nice to me. But these video get my attention because I think no one suppose treat like this. This TV show is famous, and everyone can watch when they saw this kind of news they may just change the idea about Asian. What on the news are not right ideas? Goods are all made in Asia like China or Vietnam because over there the labors are cheap, and to let them make they good can earn more profit for the company like Apple or Nike. These big companies can choose to make goods in America, but it will cost too much for the labor, is their decision to let those help them make the goods.

There are also stereotypes for Asian like Asian is bad drivers, they are smart and know how to do the business or good at technology. The stereotypes now are based on people’s daily communication with Asian. At the same time the stereotypes of Asian are also changing because the generation is changing; now the new kinds of Asian-American fit much better than their parents. These stereotypes may true in some way but wrong in the other way. These artifacts may true or not but once they are in the media people will change the idea about Asian in good or bad way. For my opinion, I think people should know others from their daily life, to spend time with people and know who they truly are. Only base on the media to think about people may make a big mistake. The best way to learn one is getting into his or her life.

Bibliography:

 

“Bruce Lee | Trailer ( from His 5 Martial Arts Movies ).” YouTube. YouTube. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

 

“Bruce Lee.” <i>IMDb</i>. IMDb.com. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

 

“The Face of Fu Manchu / Official Trailer (1965).” <i>YouTube</i>. YouTube. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

 

Sharp, Gwen. “OLD “YELLOW PERIL” ANTI-CHINESE PROPAGANDA.” Sociological Images RSS. 20 June 2014. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

 

“20131016 Kill All Chinese Jimmy Kimmel Show.” YouTube. YouTube, 16 Oct. 2013. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

 

“The Big Bang Theory S06E06 Indian Accent.” YouTube. YouTube, 13 Nov. 2012. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

Female Gamers

Video games have been a big part of growing up for a lot of people ever since games have come out for commercial use from the 70’s and 80’s. A lot of those people though are males.  You may not see a lot of females in the gaming era because they are yet to be really noticed and are slowly being recognized. Like many females today we are harassed, sexualized, demeaned and overcoming the male spectrum. Woman are just as capable at gaming as men as they are with everything else men can do but not all of us are given that chance.

According to the Washington Post men under the age of 18 are 17% of the gaming community while women over the age of 18 are 36% of the gaming community. This study was done by a gaming advocacy group Entertainment Software Association. The number of female gamers age 50 and older increased by 32% from 2012 to 2013.

Many of us who have been playing video games for a long while can say that most women are portrayed as the damsel in distress or over sexualized goddess like warrior/super hero. Games like Zelda, Super Smash bros, Mortal Kombat and some characters in the RPG game Skyrim are a good example of these. In many of the Zelda games, Link, the hero is sent on missions to save his land and also save the princess Zelda, this also goes for the Mario games with princess Peach. As for Mortal Kombat, the women are very over sexualized by wearing bikinis with huge chests and tiny wastes. In Skyrim the females are portrayed as house wives or sexy warriors. I believe because of these games women aren’t looked at as equal when it comes to playing the games with other people.

As games have started changing and adding more female roles (females as the protagonist) more female gamers have started coming to light. One game in particular would be The Walking Dead by telltale games. It starts out with a male main character but soon changes to the younger girl’s point of view. These types of games are not only for men but for women too, or at least that’s the image they are trying to put out there. With games like these it definitely gets more females involved especially the women that like gore. If you were to look on YouTube or type in the search “gamer girls” or “female gamers” you will see a lot of females pop up. Some are videos of girls being scared or being bad asses.

Because games are trying to get more women involved, more women start playing. The game Grand Theft Auto V has a new feature, online gaming, with this new online gaming anyone can play. Meaning they have both genders for your choice and any race you want, the same goes for Call of Duty Ghosts. Video games like this are where women get harassed the most. On a web site called VG24/7 there was a survey conducted by Emily Matthew and she found out that women are harassed four times more than men while playing video games. I for one am one of those females. No matter what game I play I’d rather be male and not use my microphone so no one knows I’m female. I do love games that have female characters or have more female options, but that is just setting us up for tons of harassment.

 

Overall I feel society as a whole views women as lesser individuals when it comes to the gaming community. Whether it be being made fun of for strategizing and problem solving, or being constantly harassed by other fellow male gamers. Women have branched out and become more prominent in the gaming world. More game developers have incorporated females and female protagonists to get more women involved but with the online community and harassment we female gamers will still be scared to fully come to light.

 

Work cited.

Washington Post

 Harwell, Drew. “More women play video games than boys, and other surprising facts lost in the mess of Gamergate” the Washington post N.p 17 October 2014 Web. 06 march 2015

<http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/10/17/more-women-play-video-games-than-boys-and-other-surprising-facts-lost-in-the-mess-of-gamergate/&gt;

VG24/7

Nunneley , Stephany.  “Study – 63% of women polled report being harassed while gaming online” VG24/7 N.p 8 September 2012 Web. 06 march 2015

<http://www.vg247.com/2012/09/08/study-80-of-gamers-believe-sexism-is-rampant-in-the-gaming-community/&gt;

Portrayal of Female Athletes in Media

When looking in the popular culture mirror, I found that how my identity is represented in media has changed dramatically in recent years. Stereotypes are being broken down and diversity is being employed in advertisements and films. There is now a breadth of nationalities, body types, personalities and income levels. Although in my memory, female athletes had been represented as very masculine and tomboyish; thin, tan and overly competitive and always persecuted for passion for sport instead of more traditionally feminine activities. My analysis of contemporary films and advertisements that feature female athletes as their main subject displayed that characters goals transcended these stereotypes, but similar conflicts of the past are still interwoven in the content. Despite the positive change, stereotypes are still reinforced if a few ways.The female athlete in media seems to be in a constant process of reconciliation between her gender and her sport. She is caught between two ideals. The complication lies in several areas: the attempt to juggle their gender-specific activities with their athletic ones, their athlete-specific struggles within the dating sphere, and the pursuit of personal values despite social expectation. Being a female and an athlete is portrayed as quite a balancing act. Is this an accurate representation of the contemporary femlete?

In Bend it Like Beckham (2002), Jesminda challenges her family’s religious and cultural expectations in order to pursue her love of soccer. Stick It (2000) follows the story of Hayley, an off-the-rails tomboy who is ordered to return to her gymnastics academy in the stead of juvenile detention in order to expose the pressures within women’s competitive gymnastics. Furthermore, the “This Girl Can” video and others like it provide an example of how the media is working to change the image of the female athlete, while at the same time appealing emotionally to that demographic as an advertising tactic. By breaking down the stereotypes and expectations imposed upon characters in the films I will be able to assess the authenticity of the dynamic between gender and sport for the female athlete.

Jesminder’s (Jess) character in Bend it Like Beckham  is, although not a tomboy per-se, not quite girly. Her daily outfit consists of trainers, sweats, and a name brand t-shirt or sweatshirt. Her appearance gives the impression that she’s prepared to kick a ball around at any moment, not necessarily attempting to attract a husband or display the tradition of her culture or religion like her parents wish her to. Her mother constantly badgers her about finding a man and acting and dressing differently, like her sister, in order to do so. It is clear that an athletic girl must take precautions, however, as the boys she plays soccer with tease Jess for having breasts. In one scene they tell her to “chest [the ball]” and to “make it bounce,” either her breasts or the ball itself. To teach the boys a lesson she throws the ball at one of their player’s groin and effectively shuts them up.

In the realm of appearance, Jules’ character is a good compatriot for Jesminder’s. She goes through similar teasing. Her mother pushes her to look at some more feminine, lacy bras, and then rebukes her when she gravitates towards the sports bras. In another scene Jules’ mother yells, “no boys gonna wanna date a girl who has got bigger muscles than him.” It seems that in this film soccer is the more important thing at work, and dating is undermined by the girls despite societal and familial expectations.

This portrayal of young female athletes is common in popular culture. The women are required to make a decision between their femininity and their sport, or their dating life and their sport, as if pursuing an athletic goal undermines the other two. Jules does not have to deal with the pressures of religion, but the two girls are both constantly questioned for their lifestyle choice, as if it strips them of their gender identity. Their mothers even take it as far as to question their sexual identity. Because of their athletic wardrobe and interest in sports, qualities their mothers find extremely masculine and not socially acceptable, when Jess and Jules get in a fight their mothers wrongly insinuate that it is a lovers’ dispute. This insinuation is all too common for female athletes. I remember being questioned and targeted by my classmates as a softball player in high school. Although I currently identify as bisexual I didn’t when I was a teen. I found it starkly inappropriate to ask such personal questions and imply anything about my sexual orientation. It was as if everyone was in on the joke that softball players are “just all lesbian for each other.” First, I only personally know a few LGBTQ athletes. More importantly, our sexual orientation has nothing to do with how we perform as teammates or as athletes. Gender identity and sexual identity didn’t influence our batting average, nor did it affect how much we wanted to compete and win.

One thing that Bend It does to accentuate the girls untraditional behavior is to parallel them with Jess’ sister Pinky and her friends’ ultra-femme appearance and behavior. They wear very tight, revealing clothing and fawn over the boy soccer players. Instead of bettering themselves, they manipulate others and smear on some lip gloss to get what they want. Also, Pinky has just gotten engaged and is following the traditional steps her mother has laid for her. Jess is a bridesmaid and there are quite a few expectations for her.The final scene is a compilation of shots that juxtaposes Pinky’s wedding with Jess’ championship game. Although Bend It puts the athletes on a pedestal, it also seems to put a strict divide between an athletic identity and one of traditionalism and femininity. But I wonder why they can’t have both at once?

This film shows that there is nothing wrong with the desire to be girly and traditional nor to be athletic and modern. It plays both sides pretty decent, except that the girly girls have repugnant values and the athletes the most mental and physical strength. Overall, I found that this film gave a fair representation of female athletes except for its reinforcement of the expectation to choose between several sectors of a girl’s life.

Like Jesminda, Hayley’s appearance and attitude in Stick It follow the stereotype for women in sports. She is a natural tomboy like Jess’ character, although her tough exterior makes her much more uncompromising. Additionally, none of the females’ athleticism is brought to question in this film.

Nonetheless, stereotypes of appearance and attitude persevere. In the introductory scene to Stick It, Hayley’s gender is kept hidden under baggy jeans, a sweatshirt, and the way that she carries herself. The intention for this first scene is to mislead us. The film discloses her gender only after her athleticism and rebellious nature is revealed through a bike-trick competition. They want to show that this is not just another girl on the street, but someone to be reckoned with. I wonder if the audience would have doubted her if they knew of her gender outright, and if not, what was the purpose of the nondisclosure?

Regardless, her wardrobe remains characteristically tomboy. Her obstinance, silliness and gait seem to be more traditionally masculine. She does not chase romance – her two best friends are dudes that she skateboard and bikes with – and most significantly, she makes fun of the girly way her teammates carry on. From scene to scene she mimics the way the girls talk by mimicking the words “like,” “super,” and “totally.” In this way she distinguishes herself from the group. Unlike Jess, she doesn’t feel the need to be polite, nor to fulfill any daughterly duties. Her priority is to make a point, through winning at a meet or in an argument. In this way, I find that her femininity does not need to reconcile with her athleticism. She makes no apologies for who she is. A fairly emotional tomboy outside of gymnastics, she fights conformist expectations on the TumblTrak. For example, her teammate Mina perfectly executes a particularly difficult flip but receives an imperfect score merely because her bra strap was showing. Instead of being praised for her skill, she is scrutinized for a technicality of appearance. And please, they’re wearing skimpy leotards I’m surprised that was the only thing that popped out during the competition. Hayley takes it into her own hands to set things straight by purposely scratching on her  turn and convincing the other girls to do the same. They let the judges know that they are not to be judged merely by their appearance, but by what they can do. Furthermore, Hayley takes some liberties with her final floor routine and a few others also bring more originality than usual to their routines. Wei-Wei performs her balance beam routine to hip-hop music and even does the worm at one point. These girls are defying the expectation to remove their personality from their passion. It isn’t the girl or the athlete, neither the values or the expectations of her, but what she can perform in her entirety.

Despite rebelling against expectations on the mat, the girls naive and girly behavior is constantly ridiculed by Hayley. More than her teasing about their inflections and word choice, she makes fun of their routines, their passion for the sport and their infatuation with all things girly: boys, dresses, prom, giggling ,etc. Whether this is to make herself feel better about her past or not, I’m not sure. Breaking down the girls for being who they are reminds be of the psychologically manipulative and competitive behavior I have seen among female athletes throughout my life. Her behavior in the film defies the theme to be yourself unapologetically. Although is not scrutinizing them for being too masculine like in Bend It, but for being too girly, she nonetheless adds to the scrutinization of women.  As if athletes should be more like her, and less like all the other girls out there. I don’t believe that any of the other girls are of more silly or less athletic because they are girly. In fact, it may even enhance their athleticism in gymnastics as it is an aesthetic sport. But it certainly distinguishes Hayley from the rest of the group.

I find that these distinct differences draw a line between leadership and subservience. It didn’t matter that the others girls shut themselves away in a gym in order to become nationally-ranked while Hayley, thrice, ruined her chances from rebellious acts at competition, or that she is only at the academy because a judge sentenced her there. It is that she has an influence and an attitude that says “F you, I’m going to do what right for me regardless of what anyone else has to say or who it affects.” Because her attitude rejects social expectations, she is the leader. I find this absurd because she is technically falling into the mold of a girl who let’s her emotion control her, although it seems that she doesn’t let it get the best of her.

In response to the unfair scrutiny of female athletes and the fear of judgement that young women are facing today, Sports England has launched a campaign titled, “This Girl Can” in order to motivate women to get out and get moving. They performed several studies that revealed that “75 percent of British females ages 14 to 40 want to become more active, but that insecurity is a big obstacle.” (Sports England) Their campaign launched several youtube videos with the intent of empowering women to make a change. The self titled video features a diverse group of actors; women with many different body types, skin colors and modes of fitness; doing their sport with enthusiasm to the soundtrack of Missy Elliot’s “Get Ur Freak On.” The montage highlights sweat, pooge, jiggling and all the weird faces that come with the intensity of working out. Many of the advertisements I have seen for workout gear feature very thin models in semi-athletic poses with little-to-no sweat. Now I don’t know about you, but when I leave the gym it’s not a pretty sight. But that is what is so beautiful about it – I look like I worked my booty off! That is the theme of the “This Girl Can” video. The captions that appear over the video say things like “I juggle therefore I am,” and “sweating like a pig – feeling like a fox.” It is trying to show women that it’s not all about what they look like, but what they can do. Jenny Price, Chief Executive of Sports England writes, “If you are wondering if you should join them—or carry on—this campaign says it doesn’t matter if you are a bit rubbish or completely brilliant, The main thing is that you are a woman and you are doing something, and that deserves to be celebrated.” (Raders Reality) This is just one campaign in a pool of many advertisements being created that display a more realistic view of female athletes. Nike, Athleta and Lululemon have released similar videos. It is clear, however, that they are still using our values to market their product. Additionally, the videos may have nothing to do with the beliefs and intentions of company executives For example, the recent press release by Chip Wilson, founder of Lululemon. (Bloomburg) At least there is a trend of change in the way we portray women.

From my sources in films and advertisements, it is clear that there is a larger group of women pursuing athletic endeavors and that they are influencing the media to change. While some stereotypes still prevail; those of class, size, appearance and attitude; there is an effort being made, like that of “This Girl Can,” to bring us back to reality. The expectations and judgements are out there which, it seems, cause women to separate their values and identities into two spheres, and put one or the other on the backburner. But is that really necessary? The message should be: be who you are and be the best you can be. The bar is being set high and I encourage not only other companies, but any organization with influence, to reach for it. Empower, not devour.

Hannah Stewart

Black Female College Student

Auzurea Stephens

Prof. Bergland

Popular Culture

March 8, 2015

Mirror Essay: Black Female College Student

Being a Black woman as well as a college student I hardly see myself represented in the various forms of popular culture. Moreover, when I do see a black woman represented on television for example, they are usually on reality shows, throwing drinks in each other’s faces, gossip driven, angry, hypersexual and territorial. They are not usually depicted in a positive light. I hardly ever see Black women who are like me; a student pursuing higher education, and living a life not full of drama. However, after doing some research and talking to people, I discovered a few media sources that somewhat represented myself and those included a film Dear White People (Justin Simien 2014), and television series A Different World (Bill Cosby 1987) a spinoff of the then popular sitcom, The Cosby Show as well as a secondary source, Stolen Women: Reclaiming Our Sexuality, Taking Back Our Lives by Gail Elizabeth Wyatt. I chose to write about this because I feel it directly connects to who I am as not only a college student but also as a Black woman. I was curious as to what I would find when it came to mirroring my identity within popular culture media.

In the semi-recent film, Dear White People (Justin Simien 2014) I found some characters who represented Black female college students and the complexity of their identities. This movie takes places on a college campus at Winchester University. Dear White People deals with identity crises, racism, family issues and social injustices. There are two characters in particular that I want to focus on. First being Samantha (Sam) White who is a bi-racial female who has fully embraced her Black side but has neglected her white side in the process. Sam is what one would consider a pro Black intellect who wears her heart on her sleeve. She is always stating unfiltered facts about the systematic oppression that happens on campus and beyond. She is the editor of the controversial blog named “Dear White People” that focuses on Black culture. Her personality put her into the leadership position of the Black Student housing. This puts her in an awkward position because she is dating a white guy but is embarrassed to let her Black friends know. The second character is Colandrea ‘Coco’ Conners. Coco is a Black female who struggles with embracing her Black identity and her class background. She has accepted the European standards of beauty by wearing long straight weaves and colored eye contacts. She only wants to be associated with white people of elite status because it makes her feel more important.

Sam and Coco represent a small fraction of Black female college students however; they do endure the struggles that many women of color face in today’s society. I felt I could personally relate to both of these characters because I have been in the position of feeling the need to be accepted by both my Black and white counterparts throughout my life. For example, I remember when I was in middle school I begged my mom to allow me to get a relaxer on my hair. A relaxer is a chemical product used to straighten hair. I hated my hair because it was kinky and hard to comb, I wanted to fit in with the other girls at school (black and white alike) who had straight hair. College is such a vital time of figuring out whom you truly are and what you value as person and not to mention how you want others to identify you as. Moreover, it was not until my college years that I came to fully accept who I am as Black woman and to embrace my identity. I realized I did not need straight hair to be considered beautiful and after almost ten years of getting my hair relaxed I started to let my natural hair grow and eventually cut off the remaining relaxed hair. I know embrace my naturally kinky hair and I have no desire to fit in with anyone. However, that was not an overnight process, it took years. It is for that very reason I wanted to focus on my identity as a Black female college student because Black women are so often misrepresented in the media. These misrepresentations do impact young girls like the 13 year old me and I think it is important that we are seen as more than just the stereotypical Black women in the media. Our backgrounds and lifestyles are much more diverse than what is shown on networks such as VH1 and Oxygen.

This brings me to the old television sitcom A Different World (Bill Cosby 1987). It was hard for me to find current shows that were primarily about Black female college students however, while researching, A Different World is one of the first examples that I came across. A Different World is a television show about a group of good friends, who all happen to be of African American descents that attend Hillman College which is a fictional historically black college (HBC) located in Virginia. The show is based around the various students’ life on campus and deals with race, class relations and the Equal Rights Amendment. The show also displays the Black Greek life of sororities and fraternities which is something I can relate directly to because I recently joined the first Black Greek letter sorority that was founded at Howard University which is also a HBCU.

This show is surrounded around the relationship of main characters, Dwayne and Whitley. Dwayne is from the inner city of Brooklyn, New York and considered smart mathematician and a cool guy who has all of the hippest clothing. Meanwhile Whitley is a Virginia native who is a on again, off again relationship with Dwayne. She is depicted as an intelligent academic student who is very involved in college extracurricular activities such as joining the fictional sorority Alpha Delta Rho, involved in an internship and is also a member of the Hillman College debate team. I feel as if this show does a pretty good job of accurately capturing student life at an HBCU. While I personally never did attend an HBCU I know plenty of people who have and it is similar. I appreciate the fact that this show is not fused around drama nor does it glorify disrespecting one another. While a lot of times on television it is depicted that Black people are always trying to one up another and put emphasize on the division of the Black community, this show displays the unity that can and does happen in a predominately Black setting.

Black women are constantly being depicted in stereotypical behavior in the media. Stereotypical being as I explained previously, loud, hypersexual and living drama filled lives. These stereotypes were explained in depth in the reading, Stolen Women: Reclaiming Our Sexuality, Taking Back Our Lives by Gail Elizabeth Wyatt. Wyatt discussed her own personal experience being a Black woman and the issues she has had to face in her life. She goes on to explain how the stereotypes of Black women started many years ago. She stated, “Stereotypes about black women that are rooted in slavery perpetuate myths about lack of sexual control and sexual irresponsibility, making it difficult for black women to express their sexuality without being defined by it.” Going more in depth by providing actual images of Black women during slavery and how their bodies were looked at as sexual objects and how there is a direct connection to how (Black) women’s bodies are looked at today in the 21st century. According to the reading Wyatt provided the reader with, “principles and knowledge that can help women take responsibility for their sexuality, regardless of past experiences or societal demands.” I believe that it is very important for us Black women to take control of our actions and how we choose to be depicted.

In conclusion both Dear White People (Justin Simien 2014) and A Different World (Bill Cosby 1987) show that there are very different types of college experiences for Black women that are students. In addition that they all do not have to be negative, which is why I appreciated those two visual media sources as well as Gail Elizabeth Wyatt’s personal view in, Stolen Women. Us Black women have the power to be respected and acknowledged as intelligent, powerful and strong women. We have the power to show the world that we are worth much more than just showing off our bodies, fighting/competing with other women, being aggressive and territorial. Our roots are very deep and very strong and it is up to us to change the way we are seen by the world. I hope that one day the negative stereotypes of Black women can be demolished and that we are seen as the strong willed, independent women we are!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Cosby, Bill , Marcy Carsey, and Tom Werner. A Different World. National Broadcasting Company. NBC, New York City. 24 Sept. 1987. Television.

Simien, Justin. Dear White People. Perf. Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Brandon P Bell, Kyle Gallner, Brittany Curran, Dennis Haysbert, Marque Richardson. S.n. : Lionsgate (2014) (USA) (theatrical), 2014. Film.

Wyatt, Gail Elizabeth. Stolen Women: Reclaiming Our Sexuality, Taking Back Our Lives. New York: J. Wiley, 1997. Print.

Bisexuality as portrayed by the media

In recent years, there’s been a lot of exciting social progress surrounding the LGBT movement: the Supreme Court declared that banning gay marriage is unconstitutional, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed, more celebrities are coming out as queer, and there’s been an overall increase of gay representation in the media. Unfortunately, even with the increased acceptance of homosexuality, bisexuals have been left out of this progress.[1] There is still a severe lack of bisexual representation in the media, and the representation that does exist is generally surrounded with many negative stereotypes and misconceptions.[2] Bisexuality is most commonly defined as being attracted to one’s own gender as well as other genders—it isn’t necessarily as simple as being attracted to both men and women.[3] Of course, there are positive stereotypes about bisexuality as well, such as the idea that bisexuals are very open-minded and more interpersonally flexible. Some people admire bi individuals for being attracted to a person’s personality over their gender.[4] While the media does sometimes highlight these characteristics, more often the negative stereotypes overshadow the positive, thus perpetuating negative ideas about bisexuality. In this essay, I’ll discuss a few common stereotypes surrounding bisexuality, as well as the concept of queer baiting, and how both of these things contribute to bi erasure. How society views the bi community is directly influenced by the media’s portrayals of bisexuality, which in turn affects the lives of bi people.

One of the most common stereotypes regarding bisexuals is that they are hypersexual.[5] Often bisexuals are shown as being unable to “pick a side” because of their sexually greedy nature; they are too obsessed with sex to sleep with members of only one gender, and are thus incapable of monogamy.[6] Bisexual women in film or on television tend to be highly promiscuous and are often typecast as the “temptress,” existing only to fulfill heterosexual male fantasies.[7] This association with greediness and depravity usually results in bisexual characters appearing in villainous roles or in otherwise immoral roles. Their sexuality isn’t part of their identity, it’s more just a result of their dark psychological issues.[8] Sharon Stone’s character in Basic Instinct is a classic example of this phenomenon.

This oversexualization also results in the thought that bisexuals are less trustworthy or less loyal than people who are monosexual (either hetero or homosexual).[9] Television shows might be the most common place to see this stereotype. In the TV show House, M.D., the character Dr. Hadley (nicknamed “Thirteen”) exemplifies some of these stereotypes. Although her sexuality is ambiguous at first, it’s eventually confirmed that she’s bisexual. Dr. Remy "Thirteen" HadleyThirteen’s orientation and sex life are the target of many of Dr. House’s jokes, and the other (male) doctors seem to assume that she has many sexual partners. Sometimes her character is played up as having questionable morals, as she seems more rebellious and secretive than the other doctors are. This can be seen when, at the end of season seven, she returns from a prolonged leave of absence and reveals to House that she spent most of it in jail.[10] And although she’s only a main character for three out of eight seasons, she appears in more physically intimate scenes than any other character. This doesn’t really surprise me, since she is the only bisexual character on the show, not to mention the only non-heterosexual character. Combine this with the fact that she’s also a woman, and it becomes even more stereotypical.

Like Thirteen, Game of Thrones character Oberyn Martell is complex and dynamic, but is not free of the stereotypes surrounding his bisexuality. Oberyn is portrayed as sexually voracious from the start. His first appearance is a scene in which he and his bisexual female lover, Ellaria, stand in front of various male and female prostitutes, deciding who to hire.[11] Pedro Pascal, the actor who plays Oberyn, said in an interview that “[Oberyn] enjoys life. He does not discriminate in his pleasures. This is the way he understands life, to live it to its fullest.”[12] That’s great, but his statement basically confirms that Oberyn’s bisexuality is simply a characterization tool, rather than part of his identity.[13] Many fans have praised Game of Thrones for including a bisexual male character, and while I agree this is certainly a step in the right direction (it’s better than nothing), I don’t quite agree that Oberyn is truly a “progressive portrayal” of bisexuals, as one article put it.[14] Oberyn and EllariaIt seems that, instead of being portrayed as a man who happens to be bisexual, he’s portrayed as a man who is sexually insatiable. To clarify, I am not arguing that bi characters should never be sexual or shown in sexual situations—that would be unrealistic. But, the fact is, bisexual characters are consistently stereotyped this way, and it continues to negatively impact the bi community.[15] There’s already a serious lack of bisexual representation in the media,[16] [17] and this pattern of oversexualizing the few bi characters that do exist is obviously an unfair misrepresentation: bisexual individuals can fall anywhere on the spectrum of asexual to hypersexual, just like any person. Now, returning to Oberyn: the fact that this character enjoys sex with both men and women is not what’s problematic. What is problematic is that the only two bisexual characters on Game of Thrones—Oberyn and Ellaria—are both stereotypically extremely sexual. If there had already been another recurring bisexual character in the series that didn’t feed these stereotypes, Oberyn and Ellaria’s characterizations wouldn’t really be an issue. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and Game of Thrones is still one of the many shows that play into this stereotype.

While all of the negative stereotypes that come from oversexualizing bi people can be hurtful, what arguably hurts most is the commonly held belief that bisexuality is not a real sexual orientation nor truly exists at all. This denialism is the most common stereotype about bisexuality, and is largely responsible for the lack of bi representation in popular culture.[18] The overall tendency to ignore or falsify bisexuality in society is usually referred to as “bi erasure.” Bi erasure doesn’t necessarily involve overt antagonism, but it does happen because society is uncomfortable with and threatened by the fact that bisexuality does not fit into the accepted binary of gay or straight.[19] Society seems to have a relatively easy time accepting that people are either heterosexual or homosexual, because binary oppositions are easier to understand. But, by its nature, bisexuality challenges all of that, because it presents sexual orientation as fluid, and rejects the idea that attraction has to be dependent on gender. Of course, because we’ve been taught to accept this gay/straight binary, many people are still confused by bisexuality—and unfortunately, people tend to dislike and ignore what they don’t understand. This clearly isn’t even remotely helpful to bisexuals, who often feel silenced, ostracized, and invisible because of the absence and erasure of their identity in the media.[20] Bisexual youths, including myself, especially tend to feel their identity isn’t valid simply because they rarely see positive portrayals of themselves in pop culture.[21]

A common stereotype specific to bi erasure is the idea that bisexuals are people who are actually gay or lesbian, but have yet to come out as such.[22] Or, as Carrie Bradshaw notably put it in Sex and the City, bisexuality is “just a layover on the way to Gay Town.”[23] My own mother seemed to believe this stereotype when, after coming out to her as bisexual in high school, she responded that I was “probably just gay.” Not only did I feel somewhat rejected, I was upset that I should have to defend my identity to my mom. Bi erasure can also come from within the gay community itself, stemming from the assumption that identifying as bisexual is just taking the easy way out—that these individuals can be part of the gay community without having to commit to the hardship of being homosexual, while also still having the option to benefit from straight privilege.[24] In reality, bisexuals face discrimination from both communities and often don’t feel quite welcome in either one.[25] This general feeling that bisexuality is less “real” than being gay or straight is something I come across somewhat regularly in my personal life. For example, I’ve heard my gay and lesbian friends say things like, “If Kristen Stewart isn’t a lesbian, then she’s at least bi.” At first I wasn’t sure what specifically bothered me about these comments. After giving it more thought, I realized I did not like implication behind my gay friends labeling Kristen Stewart as “at least bi.” It implies that her attraction to women would be automatically less valid or less serious simply because she could also feel attraction towards men. It suggests that she is somehow not committed to being a “real” lesbian, that her bisexuality makes her less capable of loving a woman as deeply as a lesbian could. Obviously, these sentiments aren’t true, and I’m sure if my friends thought about the implications of what they were saying, they would agree it doesn’t make sense.

Bi erasure is also responsible for the many movies and TV shows that depict bisexuals as either straight people who occasionally experiment with gay sex, or gay people who occasionally experiment with straight sex, depending on the intended audience.[26] For example, shows that are aimed at a gay audience such as Queer as Folk or The L Word treat their bi characters as gays that have had heterosexual flings[27]—one of the bisexual main characters in The L Word literally renounces her bisexuality under oath, instead identifying as a lesbian.[28] This can be very disappointing for bisexual viewers who had expected to find better representation in a show for queer people, only to feel totally let down. Personally, I find these kinds of shows boring as well as disheartening, because I wonder, “Why don’t they want to put someone like me on their show?” I’ve stopped watching a lot of shows that I used to enjoy because the lack of queer inclusivity has become too obvious, and I end up feeling like I’m watching a show made for someone else.

Because of the lack of representation in pop culture, bisexuals (and other queer individuals in general) tend to quickly latch on to characters that represent their identity, however ambiguous that representation may be. In recent years, movie and television show creators have begun to capitalize on this, starting an unfortunate trend that has been coined by fans as “queer baiting.”[29] This happens most often in television series, when creators intentionally include just enough queer subtext for queer fans to recognize, but not enough that a straight viewer would notice or, rather, take seriously. This way, creators can profit off of the viewership of a queer audience while still avoiding any backlash from their conservative viewers.[30] Writers will continuously hint at a queer relationship between two of the main characters (usually “straight” males), but have no real intention to actually go through with it, which both dismisses the validity of queer identities and relationships as well as avoids any social progress.[31]

I’d like to specifically address the characterization of Dean Winchester, from the CW’s Supernatural—a show that is perhaps the most famously criticized for queer baiting.[32] Dean and his brother Sam are the stars of Supernatural; they hunt monsters, fight angels and demons, and stop apocalypses. On the surface, Dean embodies all that is classically masculine, but anyone who watches the show can easily see that he does not fit this ultra masculine stereotype.[33] It has also become apparent to many fans, both queer and straight, that Dean is bisexual.[34] Dean and Castiel, season fiveFans have speculated about his sexuality since the premier of season four, when the angel Castiel was introduced. Viewers responded so positively to Castiel and his obvious chemistry with Dean that the writers changed the storyline to permanently include him, having originally planned for him to only appear in that fourth season.[35] The next six seasons are filled with queer subtext, romantic tropes and boyfriend jokes all in reference to Dean and his relationship with Cas. I am not going to attempt to make a case for Dean’s bisexuality nor his “profound bond”[36] with Cas—it has already been proven countless times that it’s a legitimate interpretation of his character.

Although this interpretation is directly based on the collective decisions of the writers, actors, producers, directors, and editors[37] of the past ten seasons, these very same writers still sometimes publicly deny Dean’s bisexuality (as well the romantic subtext with Castiel), dismissing it as something fans came up with on their own.[38] Chad Kennedy, an executive at Warner Brothers, once tweeted, “I support the idea of bi lead [characters]. But on this specific show, it is not our intention for these [characters].” Then, when directly asked if this was a certainty, as the answer is important to LGBT fans, he responded, “I’ll put it this way: don’t know that we’ll ever go there, but don’t know that we never will…And if it served the story, I would support it.” Kennedy’s tweets have since been deleted, now only existing as screenshots,[39] but they quite accurately represent the nature of queer baiting; i.e., denial of queer subtext, followed by vague backpedaling and somewhat meaningless declarations of LGBT support. He also implies that there has to be a “good reason” for a character to be bisexual or queer in general, which is very offensive. Dean’s non-heterosexuality shouldn’t have to “serve the story” in some way; Dean should be bi just because some people are bi. Dean, season eightThe show also frequently includes demeaning jokes about (bi)sexuality, which serve two purposes: first, they are a way to further suggest to queer people (who have, undoubtedly, been picking up on the subtext) that maybe Dean really is bi, while also reassuring straight viewers that he isn’t, because of course, being queer is a joke. These jokes say, “Look, these characters are very heterosexual, very masculine, and to imply otherwise is ludicrous.” It would be truly disappointing if the creative team of Supernatural believed that bisexual men can’t also be masculine and strong like Dean is. I realize it’s not the responsibility of Supernatural to fix television’s lack of bisexual representation, and if they want Dean to be heterosexual, so be it; but I don’t think it’s that simple anymore. The fact is, they’ve created a likable and complex character that in many ways comes across as bisexual without being a stereotype, which is great. But they have also intentionally given fans (false?) hope for representation, which is why Supernatural should be held accountable, and should do the socially responsible thing by confirming Dean’s bisexuality. If this is not the case, the show will ultimately continue to contribute to bisexual erasure by dismissing bisexuality as a legitimate orientation, which would be unfortunate.

In conclusion, the majority of the current portrayals of bisexuality in pop culture aren’t acceptable. As a society that prides itself on equality, we should demand better treatment of bisexual characters and of bisexual individuals in the media. The current patterns of erasure are harmful to the bi community and especially harmful to bi youth, and things have to change. Although there’s been improvements of bi representation in the past few years, the examples I’ve given are all quite recent, and are perpetuating the negative ways in which society views and erases bisexuality. I hope we can all have a better awareness that bisexuality hasn’t necessarily been included in the positive trends of homosexual acceptance, and then work to collectively adjust these attitudes to be bi-inclusive as well. As society becomes more informed of what bisexuality actually is and isn’t, our attitudes will really start to change, and we can then see more realistic, non-stereotypical representations of bisexuality in the media.

——–

[1] Tanya Rubinstein, Shiri Makov, and Ayelet Sarel. “Don’t Bi-Negative: Reduction of Negative Attitudes Toward Bisexuals by Blurring the Gender Dichotomy.” Journal of Bisexuality 13, no. 2-3 (2013): 357.
[2] Amy Zimmerman. “It Ain’t Easy Being Bisexual on TV.” The Daily Beast. August 14, 2014.
[3] Rubinstein, et al. “Don’t Bi-Negative,” 357.
[4] Rubinstein, et al. “Don’t Bi-Negative,” 358.
[5] Robyn Ochs. “Why We Need to ‘Get Bi’” Journal of Bisexuality 11, no. 2 (2011): 172.
[6] Rubinstein, et al. “Don’t Bi-Negative,” 357.
[7] Zimmerman, “It Ain’t Easy.”
[8] Tom Hawking. “In Praise of ‘Game of Thrones’’ Prince Oberyn: A Genuine Bisexual on TV.” Flavorwire. May 20, 2014.
[9] Rubinstein, et al. “Don’t Bi-Negative,” 358.
[10] David Shore. “The Dig,” House, M.D. Fox. April 11, 2011.
[11] D.B. Weiss and George RR Martin. “Two Swords,” Game of Thrones. Home Box Office. April 6, 2014.
[12] Jennifer Vineyard. “Game of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal on Oberyn’s Bisexuality, Orgies in Westeros, and Boy Candy.” Vulture. April 7, 2014.
[13] Zimmerman, “It Ain’t Easy.”
[14] Hawking, “In Praise for Game of Thrones.”
[15] Rubenstein, et al, “Don’t Bi-Negative,” 357.
[16] GLAAD. “Where We Are On TV Report 2013.” Where We Are On TV 7 (2013): 6-7.
[17] GLAAD. “Where We Are On TV Report 2014.” Where We Are On TV 8 (2014): 7.
[18] Rubenstein, et al, “Don’t Bi-Negative,” 357.
[19] Ochs, “Get Bi,” 172
[20] Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli. “Erasure, Exclusion by Inclusion, and the Absence of Intersectionality: Introducing Bisexuality in Education.” Journal of Bisexuality 14, no. 1 (2014): 9.
[21] Zimmerman, “It Ain’t Easy.”
[22] Rubenstein, et al, “Don’t Bi-Negative,” 357.
[23] Darren Star. “Boy, Girl, Boy, Girl…” Sex and the City. Home Box Office. June 25, 2000.
[24] Jillian Todd Weiss. “GL vs. BT: The Archaeology of Biphobia and Transphobia Within the U.S. Gay and Lesbian Community.” Journal of Bisexuality 3, no. 1 (2004): 25-55.
[25] Weiss, “GL vs. BT.”
[26] Hawking, “In Praise for Game of Thrones.”
[27] Nicole Kristal. ““The L Word” Reinforces Negative Bisexual Stereotypes.” After Ellen. February 26, 2008.
[28] Kathy Greenberg. “Lay Down the Law,” The L Word. Showtime. February 24, 2008
[29] Sadie Gennis. “Supernatural Has a Queerbaiting Problem That Needs to Stop.” TV Guide. November 17, 2014.
[30] Emmett Scout. “Please Do Not Bait the Queers.” The Next. June 19, 2013.
[31] Scout, “Please Do Not Bait the Queers.”
[32] Eliel Cruz. “Fans Take Supernatural to Task for ‘Queer Baiting'” Advocate. July 17, 2014.
[33] Emily Asher-Perrin. “Supernatural’s Dean Winchester Dismantled His Own Machismo—and That’s Why We Love Him.” Tor. May 17, 2013.
[34] Samantha Pajor. “’Supernatural’ Needs to Admit Dean is Bisexual.” Arts.Mic. October 25, 2013.
[35]Veronika K. “Supernatural – 9.07 – Dean and Castiel’s Reunion and Queer-baiting.” Spoiler TV. September 20, 2013.
[36] Ben Edlund. “The Third Man,” Supernatural. CW. October 8, 2010.
[37] Pajor, “Supernatural.”
[38] Gennis, “Supernatural.”
[39] Aja Romano. “WB Executive Deletes Twitter Account After Angering ‘Supernatural’ Fans.” Daily Dot. October 24, 2013.

California Girl

                                                        California Girl

Reanna Pechner

UNST 254 Pop-Culture

March 8, 2015

Winter 2015

The stereotype of a “California girl” is represented in music, TV, movies, and the thriving Hollywood celebrity culture. I myself am a Californian woman, growing up in San Diego until the age of 17. Pop-culture has played into the stereotype of California girls being pictured as blonde, tan, thin, flirty, and living in a bathing suit year round. The California girl stereotype also suggest having an uptalk dialect, a high-pitched voice that carry out the last syllable of every word. Upon moving to Oregon in 2011, I realized that this satirical representation was exactly how the rest of the country actually perceived California women to be. I began to see that in telling someone where I was born and raised, the stereotype of what I was suppose to look like and act like was imposed on me. I began to wonder how these misconceptions of what California girls look like and act like became so common throughout society. The answers are found in pop-culture.

The media has worked to represent Californian women in an physically idealized way. This can have an extremely negative impact on girls growing up in California’s culture, making them question the way they view their body in trying to live up to unrealistic beauty standards. In this essay, I am going to focus on how media’s representation of California girls idealizes their bodies, depicts them as being wanton, and uses an exaggerated dialect to portray them as naive. In looking at specific pieces of pop-culture that suggest these stereotypes, I will discuss how this is a misrepresentation, and how this stereotype can have a negative impact on girl’s self-esteem growing up in California’s culture.

In 2010, Katy Perry released one her biggest singles, “California Gurls,” making her a household name. Perry’s song title evokes similarities to another classic hit summer song, the 1965 Beach Boys’ hit “California Girls.” Both Perry and The Beach Boys are iconic figures in pop-culture who contribute to how society stereotypes Californian women. Both of these songs give ode to the state and all the women living in it, sharing a common thread of placing these women on a pedestal.

In a music review by Adam R. Holz, he explains that the biggest differences between Perry rendition and Beach Boys classic is “unlike Brian Wilson’s version, which stops at ‘just’ ogling ladies in ‘French bikinis,’ Katy’s details what happens after said swimwear is summarily shed” (pluggedin.com). Perry’s lyrics and video focus on the women’s bodies and sexualizes the flirtatious behaviors of these California girls. Perry’s lyrics read, “Daisy dukes, bikinis on top/Sun-kissed skin, so hot/We’ll melt your popsicle.” This chorus uses imagery of barely dressed women barely to suggest that these women will be tantalizing to men. The sexualizing continues as Perry sings, “Sex on the beach/We don’t mind sand in our stilettos/We freak in my Jeep.” These lyrics reinforce the depictions of flirtatious or promiscuous sexual behavior. Perry makes sure to use the plural pronoun “we” to group all Californian women together in making her generalization that all California girls like to have sex on the beach or public spaces and that we don’t care if it gets “sand in our stilettos.”

In Perry’s music video, California is not as a warm and beachy paradise, but rather the a fictional landscape called “Candyfornia.” The representation of California is created completely from candy, including Perry’s (now) iconic cupcake brassiere. The implication of “Candyfornia” is that it works toward representing California as sweet, indulgent, and desirable. The scandalous lyrics and video work to represent these women as desirable and indulgent, just like “Candyfornia.” The issue with this song is that it is aimed at the younger generation of girls. The lyrics and video focus on women’s body, sexualizes them and sets a narrow beauty standard. When girls do not fit into this stereotype, they are essentially failing to be what media tells them they should be. Allowing media to set expectations of what a “California girl” looks like or behaves like can be damaging to young girl’s self esteem.

Another piece of culture that perpetuates the California girl stereotype is the 1995 hit movie Clueless. This movie is intended as satirical portrayal of a Beverly Hill high school. The main character is queen bee Cher (Alicia Silverstone). Cher is represented as a wealthy, extroverted, desirable superficial, and “clueless” Beverly Hills girl. This movies has an impact on what society’s common misconceptions about how California girls behave because of its wide popularity. This movie constantly has Cher doing ignorant things for the sake of humor:  She can’t parallel park a car, gives an idiotic debate on immigration reforms, and believes she can negotiate her way out of bad grades. The character of Cher misrepresents Californian girls because it projects Cher’s lack of intelligence and inabilities as all California girls. Cher’s body language and dialect goes hand in hand with her “clueless” nature. This movie has coined the uptalk dialect of California women, giving Cher an exaggerated high-pitch voice. Some of the most popular phrases of today from this movie are “as if” and “whateverrrrr.” In an AirTalk article by Robert Dowhy titled “How does your voice affect the way you are perceived?”, Dowhy notes that people from California are perceived as having an this “uptalk” and states that people with this tone of voice “are often stereotyped as young, or inexperienced.” Dowhy also notes that people with who are considered to have an annoying voice (i.e Cher’s uptalk) are more likely to have confrontation at work and social settings because of their voice. This article highlights how ones voice has a large influence on how they are perceived by society. The up-talk dialect is one of the biggest misconceptions of California women. Amy Heckerling, the director of Clueless, likely didn’t realize that the exaggerated dialect of Cher would— 10 years later—help mold California girl stereotype. This movie poorly represents Californian women, and because of its popularity it has been able to affect the way generations perceive Californians.

Another large contributor to the misconception of California women are reality TV shows like Laguna Beach, The Bad Girls Club, The Hills, and Keeping Up with the Kardashians. When I was in highschool I used to watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I was drawn into their lavish lifestyles, impeccable clothing, and the bodies and beauty these women possessed. This show takes place in Calabasas, a small wealthy city near Los Angeles. The Kardashians portrayal of “reality” places an impossible beauty standard on California women. The show uses the family’s good looks and expensive fashion to idealize these women, making them inspirational for young girl. According to celebrity website “The Gawker” in 2009 Kourtney Kardashian is the only sister to have openly talk about getting a boob job while in college, while the rest of the family denies having any work done, but in looking at pictures most people would easily disagree with this families denial. Kim Kardashian face is noticeable botoxed and can’t give facial expressions in interviews, while Kylie Jenner, the youngest of the sister clan at 17 years old, has had noticeable has lip injections. Being as beautiful as one of the Kardashians is practically unattainable for most girls because of their expensive clothes, and plastic surgery that has created their impeccable beauty. The misconception that California women look this flawless in “reality” is enforced through the superficial celebrity culture that thrives in California.

Kylie-Jenner-before-and-after-lips-2013-2014
The impact of media putting this stereotype on girls growing up and living in California is negative. In a journal from the American Psychology Association discussing the impact of sexualization of girls, contributor Jeanne Russell explains how healthy sexuality can turn into sexulization in media. She states this happens when “a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics; a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy”( Russell, 1995). Girls are getting suffocated in expectations and the beauty standards are becoming increasingly narrow. Music, TV, and movies aimed at a younger generation of girl are perpetuating the standards set in the California girl stereotype. These forms of media are presenting unrealistic and narrow beauty standard and the influence on young girls can be detrimental. In the example of Keeping Up with the Kardashian, Kylie is only 17 years old and has undergone plastic surgery. The message that is delivered to young girls is that physically altering oneself to meet these high beauty standard is acceptable and normal. Katy Perry’s sexually suggestive song will hit the ears of young girls all over California who look for a sense of identity in their states anthem. Russell explain how the “frequent exposure to narrow ideals of attractiveness is associated with unrealistic and/or negative expectations concerning sexuality.” Growing up in California, I felt these unrealistic expectations pressed on me; being a high-school girl and believing I needed a “bathing-suit body” year round is simply unrealistic. These high standards set young girls up for failure.
Through the different facets of media, “we” California girls have been harshly misrepresented and have had unrealistic beauty standard have been placed on us. I know that many women in California and myself do not live a scandalous life and getting dirty with boys in the sand. We do not all have “perfectly” tan skin, beach blonde hair, or have a “perfectly” constructed face. Unfortunately, media has made the California girl stereotype one that idealizes the body and beauty of women. I ask for people to seek out a representation of real women of California and media to represent us properly. We should all be proud of the where we come from and not allow pop-culture to create and enforce beauty standard on us based off where we live.

                                                                    Work Sited                                                     

Beckmann, Leah. “A Guide to the Kardashian’s Plastic Surgeries.” Gawker. Gawker, 10 Sept. 2011. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.

Dowhy, Robert. “How Does Your Voice Affect the Way You Are Perceived?” Southern California Public Radio. AirTalk, 30 Apr. 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.

Holz, Adam R. “Katy Perry | California Gurls | Track Review | Plugged In.”California Gurls | Track Review. PluggedIn, n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.

Maslin, Janet. “Clueless (1995) FILM REVIEW; A Teen-Ager Who’s Clear on Her Priorities.” The New York Times/ Film Review/ Clueless. The New York Times, 19 July 1995. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.

Perry, Katy. “Katy Perry – California Gurls Ft. Snoop Dogg.” YouTube. YouTube, 14 June 2010. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.

Rudin. S (Producer), & Heckerling. A (Director) . (1995) Clueless [Motion Picture] . United States: Paramount Pictures.

Russell, Jeanne. “Executive Summary.” Academy of Management Executive 9.1 (1995): 54. APA.org. American Physiological Association, 2007. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.

Portland stereotypes

Growing up in Bend, Oregon a town 4 hours from Portland with a population of 81,236 (United States Census Bureau) Portland was the city notoriously known for the overly-friendly eco hipsters that most 16 year olds dreamed to escaping to one day. Taking a trip to Portland from Bend usually meant you were seeing an obscure concert and counting how many men with beards you saw over the 24 hours you were here. Now, having lived in Portland for almost two years, the thought of someone thinking of me as an overly-friendly eco hipster is something I cannot quite grasp, because most of the time I am held up studying and living of pasta. While looking back on the stereotype I can not pinpoint where I first heard it, or where it came from and the more I think about it while writing this paper the more obscure it seems. Researching this paper, I really wanted to understand where this stereotype came from and how it is still perpetuated in society.

If you mention Portlandia to people who live in Portland, as well as people who have never been to Portland, the response will be about the much loved IFC show, which is currently on its 5th season. Portlandia displays many different types of stereotypes on the show. One of the most popular sketches from the first season is called In the Restaurant, in this sketch we see two characters, Nance and Pete, who are being portrayed as the eco or green stereotype by asking about the chicken they are ordering. They proceed to drill the server about the chicken on the menu, such as “This is Local?” “Now is that USDA organic, or Oregon organic or Portland organic,”(figure out how to source a TV show), implying that the people of Portland have a higher standard of what local means. The two characters end up driving out to the farm where the chicken was raised to make sure it led a happy life. I know many people who pay a lot of attention to what they eat, but none of them would act rudely towards waitstaff at the restaurant, and they certainly would not drive to see where the chicken previously lived. Portlandia is not the only form of media that the “eco” Portlander stereotype is portrayed. An article called 10 Portland Stereotypes that are Completely Accurate that appears on the website motovo.com. The fourth stereotype the author discusses is, “Portlandians make it a mission to buy from the little guy,” this point talks about buy local and organic, the author writes “Portlandians have hardcore beliefs about buying local and supporting farms, small businesses and regional artisans,” (motovo.com).

The biggest stereotype of Portland portrayed in the media is the hipster. Most people have heard of the Portland being filled with the coffee snobs who discuss microbreweries while downing the PBR in their hand. A video posted on YouTube called, Shit Portlanders Say portrays this stereotype. In the video the people say things like, “I brew my own beer,” and “I don’t really have a job.”(Shit Portlanders Say). The article 10 Portland Stereotypes that are Completely Accurate has a section called, “Portlandians take their coffee snobby and pretentious,”(motovo.com). Portlandia covers the hipster stereotype with the aggressive, bike riding character Spike. In the first season, the sketch OVER shows Spike declaring things, like fixies, certain bars, even shell art is over because he sees a stereotypical “normal” man riding a fixie, or doing shell art. Even The Times featured an article about Portland called, Will Portland always be a retirement community for the young?

To some people, these stereotypes do not seem to be very harmful, but I think they have a bigger effect on the people of the city than it might seem. Somehow over the years the term hipster molded into being a very judgemental person who follows trends. Sometimes it feels like people are being judged for drinking their coffee black, because its so “hip” and people assume that they drink it black to be cool, and on the other hand sometimes it feels like people are being judged for drinking a double shit vanilla frappucino from Starbucks, because “they just can’t handle real coffee.” Portland has always been known for being a really accepting city, and this blown out of proportion stereotype of hipster has created a certain amount of judgemental tension. Passing judgement is not the only negative outcome of Portland stereotypes. The eco hipster Portland stereotype is such a small fraction of people in the city, but that stereotype overshadows everything else, making Portland seem like a almost perfect utopia to the outside world where our biggest problems revolve around having to drink Starbucks coffee or not being able to find organic free range chicken. There are real issues in Portland, “On a given night, some 2,869 are without homes in Portland, with 1,572 more living in transitional housing,” (United States Census Bureau). Oregon Live featured an article about child sex trafficking, “At least 469 children in the Portland area were exploited as commercial sex workers from 2009 to 2013,”(http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2013/08/portlands_role_as_hub_of_child.html).

Portland is known for the eco hipster stereotype, despite it seeming like not the most severe stereotype, it does affect people in the city in real and serious ways. In some cases, the stereotype allows people to pass judgement easier because they do not like the same things, in other cases is allows major groups of people and issues, such as homelessness to be highly overlooked and it is much harder to fix issues that people ignore.

 

The not so secret life of a Hispanic female student

Mirror is defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary as “a polished or smooth surface (as of glass) that forms images by reflection” but what is shown is not just the reflection of light waves that show an image, it is what others see you as. It is the millions of identities that you represent; from your race, social class, education level, etc. Popular culture media serves as our mirror. Through popular culture media we can see our identities represented through the lens of the general public. As I peek at my mirror I see a female Hispanic student with aspirations to be a successful Hispanic business woman with a college degree and be a role model to my fellow Latino students everywhere. But what does the general public see my identity as? After watching a couple of shows I noticed some trends amongst how Hispanic students are perceived in general. Although education is often claimed to be a priority in the Hispanic community, Latino students are massively represented as doing poorly. They are not only inferior to their classmates for the academic performance in course materials but also in sexual education. Hispanic students are often correlated to teen pregnancy. Popular culture has deemed this cultural group with a negative connotation when in all reality being a Hispanic/Latino female student should be something you should be proud of.

In East Los High, an original Hulu series written and directed by Carlos Portugal, a Latina student goes to a high school in Southern California. This show is the only Hulu series with an all Latino cast, it’s a teen drama that portrays the lives of students from the American-Latino point of view. In season one Jesse is the main character, she is a Latina from the lower working class, her mother has raised her independently and although she struggles to pay the rent she refuses to let her daughter help. Jesse’s mother is a strong believer in higher education and wishes that her daughter concentrates on her academics, so that one day she will not have to be struggling to pay the bills like she is now. Jesse, like her boyfriend Jacob and best friend Soli, is a very good student, she is a member of her school’s science club. Jacob has the opportunity for a full ride scholarship to a school out of state for his recognition in American football and academics. I found it interesting that the character, Jacob, plays American football, considering the stereotype is Latinos play soccer. He turned down this opportunity for free higher education to help out his father in the family business. They own a taco shop and his father was struggling to keep the business afloat. Jacob chose family over free education. Although his father insisted for Jacob to go off to college, Jacob did not listen. Soli and Jesse are part of a “virgin club” which only consist of them two. In this “club” they vow to not have sex until they have earned their college degree. Their motivation for this oath is to not end up like their family member or as Soli said in Season 1 Episode 2 “I’m not going to end up like my tias (aunts), waiting for their welfare with loads of babies and no baby daddies”. During this show a lot of Spanglish is used. Spanglish is the merging of both Spanish and English, it is common amongst the American-Latino community. Unlike Jesse and her friends, Maya (Jesse’s cousin) does not have a special interest in school. She does not see the importance in it, during the first half of the season she is shown on the “streets” with her friend Scrappy. Scrappy dropped out of high school and is seen like a cholo, he and Maya sold cocaine until Scrappy got killed in a drive by for not giving the “head” narc a cut since they were selling in his neighborhood. This series shows the lives of these teens on the street, at home and at school. Also different social classes are represented. Jesse and Jacob are part of the working class, Maya was part of the lower class, she robbed houses for a living and lived in the streets until Jesse’s mother took her in, and then there is Vanessa. Vanessa is filthy rich and gets everything she wants. Due to East Los High having an all Latin crew it shows Latinos in all education levels, ethics, morals, cultural beliefs, social classes, defying social norms into thinking there is only one type of Hispanic student. Hispanic students are not a “one size fits all” the stereotypes do not pertain to every single one of them.

In The Secret Life of the American Teenager or plainly, Secret Life, an ABC Family Original Production written by Brenda Hampton, a Caucasian freshman student (Amy) gets pregnant by a boy she met at summer camp, Ricky, but he had a girlfriend. Ricky’s girlfriend is Adrian. Adrian is the only Hispanic student, and her family is the only Hispanic family on the show. Although the Hispanic culture is never spoken of, unlike East Los High, this tv show was not targeted for the Hispanic community and the only Hispanic cultural aspect that is seen is the food. Adrian is perceived in school as being a slut but her outstanding academic achievements are not recognized or noted by her classmates. Adrian is a star student, at one point she was about to be the valedictorian for her class but was not due to her unexpected pregnancy and miscarriage. She got depressed and stopped attending school. Adrian’s mother raised her independently and she also has the same reputation as Adrian. They both have the reputation of being “sluts” because they like having multiple sexual partners without the commitment of a serious relationship. Their taste are frowned upon because they are female but if a male would have multiple partners no one would say a word. Adrian’s and her mother’s character are both overly sexualized, their wardrobes are very provocative in comparison to the other characters. Their achievements are constantly overlooked because of their reputation, Adrian’s mother was independent enough to raise her daughter by herself without the financial assistance of anyone but she is still criticized for being a bad mother because she does not have a stable relationship.

La Rosa de Guadalupe is a drama series in which each episode has an individual story. Carlos Orduna is the creator and producer of this show, its production company is Televisa. The audience is the Hispanic community, more specifically adult females. I know this because Hispanic female adults typically watch these types of shows, for example my mother, aunts, grandma, older cousins, etc. During each show a problem is raised whether it’s a financial issue, domestic violence issue, gang, etc. and when the white rose magically appears that the when everything magically gets fixed. At the end of the show a blurb about why this was an issue and how it could be prevented is told and it is an all-Spanish show. I decided to analyze one episode since they each have an individual story, I’m analyzing episode 325 of season 1, En Buenas Manos. In this episode Belen is a young student that gets pregnant and decides to keep her child. At school she is constantly being ridiculed and bullied for being a single mother since her baby daddy fled the country as soon as he was told about the child. This episode takes place in Mexico and having a child out of wedlock is very frowned upon. Belen’s mother helps her raised the child with the condition that she remains in school and gets a degree. Other mothers could have kicked their daughters out or made them ask the father for support. Considering how expensive kids can be and Dona Ceci’s job as working independently washing other people’s clothes, this was a very generous offer and I think she did it so her daughter could better herself and not end up washing other people’s clothing. Although Belen’s mother, Ceci, goals are for Belen to be a financial secure, educated single mother, Belen has another plan. Her plan is to be nothing like her mother, she doesn’t want to work, she wants her “man” to take care of her and her child, and she doesn’t want to be single. Belen ultimately ends up dropping out of school and abandons her kid so that she can follow her dreams of being with a guy that can pay for all her things although he hates her kid.

For my secondary source I chose “Voices of Hispanic College Students, a Content Analysis of Qualitative Research within the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences” by Cassandra A. Storlie, Luis S. Moreno and Tarrell A. Portman. In this article they are addressing the Hispanic community and primarily to students. Telling us the story of Hispanic students’ quest to achieve their dreams and getting a college degree. This article says that Hispanic students are an underrepresented cultural group in higher education, one the reasons for this could be lack of support. Voices of Hispanic Students goes in depth, explaining that Hispanic children feel inferior to other races and self-destruct in result. Also social class plays a big role in this issue, Hispanic families are often categorized as the lower class or working class so the opportunity cost of attaining a higher education would be working less and having less money that they need. This article helps me understand why there is so little current shows or movies representing college Hispanic students and why it is more common to see Hispanic students in high school rather than higher education. This article supports my idea that the reason for under representation of Hispanic students is not only due to cost of the tuition, but also opportunity cost, culture aspects, and stereotypes that have been placed on them that makes them feel inferior. For example the opportunity cost of Jacob taking the full scholarship was his family business could go bankrupt.

There is ying and a yang for everything we do in life, it just depends in which light we see it. Although Hispanic students have a negative connotation I see this as an opportunity to make it better. I do not wish to be the best Hispanic female student ever, I am going to be the best version of myself possible, despise what my popular culture mirror reflects. My identity might be prone to be seen as a teen pregnancy, slutty, and academically challenged, but despise all of that I will be the successful business women that others will be admiring.

References:

“Mirror.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

“East Los High.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

“The Secret Life of an American Teenager.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

“La Rosa De Guadalupe.”Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

Storlie, Cassandra A., Luis S. Moreno, and Tarrell A. Agahe Portman. “Voices of Hispanic College Students.” Voices of Hispanic College Students. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, Feb. 2014. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

The Portrayal of Arab Women in the Media

The Portrayal of Arab Women in the Media

For decades, the media has shown that Americans have a skewed public opinion of Arab women. The countless stereotypes and misrepresentations about us that are around today are still the same ones that were around years ago. Rather than displaying an accurate representation of Arab women, media tends to portray an artistic expression for the sole purpose of entertainment, which creates an unrealistic view of the Arab culture and teaches us anything but the truth. Diane Watt, author of The Urgency of Visual Media Literacy in Our Post-9/11 world: Reading Images of Muslim Women in the Print News Media, states that, “we learn more about issues related to our society and the world from media discourses than from all other sources of education, making media literacy a key to negotiating our relationships with difference, both locally and globally. Most are unaware of the ways we are being educated and positioned by the media because their pedagogies tend to be “invisible and absorbed unconsciously”” (32). Therefore, we cannot rely on the media to gain an educational and historical context of Arab women when popular culture constantly perpetuates various untrue stereotypes. The most common stereotypes of Arab women in the media include the portrayal of physical appearance based off of cultural dress, the idea that we need to be saved by the West, and we are all violent and harmful.

As children we never seem to fully digest messages from the shows and movies we    watch. We are so easily entertained by the simplest things that we don’t take the time to think about what we feed our brains. The saying, “a child’s brain is like a sponge,” is spot-on and children will take into account everything they hear and start acting accordingly. When Arab students are projected with only negative stereotypes about themselves and their culture, it starts to take a toll on them. It creates a low self-concept of themselves by making them believe they are inferior to other races. They start convincing themselves that they can never amount to anything and eventually stop trying in school (Karaman and Wingfield). This will lead the child down the wrong path in life and removes any form of motivation to succeed.

Although people may applaud Aladdin for being one of the few Disney films to feature Arabs, it becomes clear after some deep analyzing that the film actually represents disturbing messages about Arab women by eroticizing them and making them inferior to men. The women in the film are either over sexualized or covered up with a hijab. The women who are over sexualized wear belly dancing costumes; a universal theme of Arab women in the media. These costumes are worn by many women in the film, including Jasmine. They sometimes wear a veil over their faces to make it seem as if they are somewhat into the religion of Islam, but all these veils do is make the girls more mysterious and sexualized. The city in which the movie is set in, Agrabah, is a predominantly Muslim city. Based off of this fact, it does not seem to make much sense as to why the majority of the women are in the belly-dancing outfits because Muslim women are supposed to be covered up. What I mean by this is that you do not mean you have to wear a hijab but you still have to respect yourself by not wearing revealing clothing. Putting a veil over a woman’s face does not make her any more Muslim if she is already disobeying the clothing guidelines.

If women are not being sexualized, they are displayed by wearing a hijab, a major staple of the Muslim religion. This is a major misconception of Arab women; that people assume all Arabs are Muslim, when in reality fewer than 15% of Muslims are Arab. The women who wear hijabs or veils never seem to have a speaking role. This contributes to the mainstream ideas about the confined existence of Muslim women. Elizabeth Marshall and Özlem Sensoy suggest this “reinforces existing ideas about their silence and that we in the West (conceptualized as “free” and liberated”) need to help unveil and give them voice” (Marshall and Sensoy, 122). The media has a way of making it seem like the lives of Arab women are depressing and they have no enjoyment. The cultural inconsistencies here generalize Arab cultures and perpetuate pan-Arab stereotyping.

When women are not portrayed by their physical appearances, they are being talked down on by men. Arab males are understood to be the dominant ones in Arab culture, so it is no big deal if a man tells a woman what she can and cannot to do. In the scene where Jasmine and her father, the Sultan, are arguing, he tells her, “heaven forbid you ever have a daughter,” simply implying that women are difficult to handle. Jasmine does not stay quiet like expected, she grows angry with her father and is appalled when he tells her he is going to try to find a man who will take care and provide for her. She rebels and tells him that she wants to marry out of love and wants to move out immediately because she has never done anything for herself, which causes her to run away. This indicates that men do not believe women are able to provide for themselves; that they need a man in order to live a comfortable lifestyle. Jasmine’s replies to her father advocate the constant fight women have to put up for their freedom of choice, again, shedding a negative perception of Arab women.

Harem Girls

An American remake of an original Israeli television series, Homeland, has become an award winning show and a top favorite for President Barack Obama. A show that revolves around CIA agents, the fight against terrorism, and reflective of American’s dreams of an anti-Muslim world is our president’s favorite TV show. This alone says a lot about the society we live in. The show holds countless misrepresentations of the Arab culture and the women in it, making it appear as an environment of islamophobia. Roya Hammad, a beautiful, successful female television reporter and journalist, is trusted and well-respected for what she does because she is able to arrange meetings with members of congress and other officials. She does not portray the “typical Arab woman,” so when she reveals that she is Palestinian and she knows Abu Nazir, a terrorist, because their families were refuges from Palestine together, it comes as a shock to everyone. Due to her modernized style, people had not made assumptions about her ethnicity. She wears tight skirts and does not cover up with a hijab. When Roya reveals herself, it makes the audience assume the worst of Arabs by thinking they are all somehow associated with a terrorist network. Another implication that Americans can attain from this is seeing that no matter how successful or educated a Muslim is, they are still a danger to Americans.

The roles that the Arab women play in the show are very limited. These roles consist of being a terrorist or being a “good Muslim” and working with the state. The active Arab collaborators with the CIA are two women, who are abused by their husbands. This complies with the example stated earlier regarding how Americans think Arab women need to be saved by the West. The CIA in this case receives all the attention from saving two women, who in their eyes, could have been in a lot more trouble if they had not jumped in and taken action.

The ad campaign for season 4 of Homeland displays racial representations before even needing to watch the show. The cover of the campaign displays the main character, Carrie, a white, blonde female wearing a red headscarf surrounded by a group of women wearing black colored burqas. Burqas are worn by Afghan women, so this automatically makes a knowledgeable viewer assume this season will take place in Afghanistan. However, Carrie goes to Pakistan for a mission during this season, so this highly misrepresents the cultures it is depicting.

In the ad, we can see that Carrie is looking back and making eye contact with the audience. She stands out from the crowd of women in black burqas with their backs to the audience because of her lighter features and red scarf. The position of the women reference the idea that Arab women do not have a voice. Over time, burqas have become a trademark for women’s oppression. The media constantly reinforces the idea that Arab women are oppressed in ways that Western women are not, making Americans become comfortable with the stereotype that Arab women cannot work, vote, or even walk around without the threat of violence (Marshall and Sensoy, 125). After taking a close look at the ad, it becomes clear that the campaign is just one big misrepresentation of Arab women in general, combining various illustrations of Muslim women’s dress code into a single image without thinking about the historical context of what is being represented.

Homeland

Recently, another movie about a war between Americans and Arabs was a huge hit in the American community. American Sniper, staring Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, is a film about a United States Navy Seal, who is also the most successful sniper in American military history. While at war in Iraq, Kyle witnesses a mother telling her young boy to throw a grenade at the American troops. In this particular moment Chris feels that he is left with no choice but to kill them both. When he kills them, the focus is all on how he copes with the misery of being at war, but the camera fails to capture any emotions from the mother and son. Our point of view is skewed by the lack of emotion from Arabs, creating a distant feel. This displays how Americans view Arabs as being a danger to their lives and makes Arabs look like they are cruel animals. If an American woman were to make her son do such a thing, it would be perceived as cruel and we would think poorly of the woman, but not all Americans. When the story involves an Arab, however, society seems to put the blame on the whole community and think poorly of them.

There is not one time in the film where there is a positive focus on the Arabs. The lack of presence of Arab women in the film give off an idea that women in the Arab culture are not important. Both, Arab women and men, in this case can be viewed as “other” from how Chris Kyle and other Americans refer to them as if they are not humans, calling them, “savages.” Kyle sees all Muslims as being “savages” and their only purpose is to provide him with another kill. Through his eyes, all Arabs are unworthy, evil, and lack a sense of humanity. The director of the film wants its viewers to be able to connect with Kyle and appreciate his sacrifices, but most of all he wants us to look through Kyle’s lenses and think the way he thinks. The real question here is, “why?” There should be no reason to recognize Kyle’s humanity when the film does not once let its viewers recognize the humanity of the Arabs. Kyle’s view on Arabs is common amongst many other Americans and it is because of films like American Sniper that keep distorting the way people view the Arab community.

Mother and Son in American Sniper

Popular culture and the media have long depicted Arab women in a negative light. We have been strongly misrepresented for years and due to society being highly influenced by media, people start believing everything they see, resulting in false knowledge on the historical context of Arab women. As Dianne Watt says, “there is no single fixed, Muslim, female identity (or any other identity) out there in the lived world, yet we live our lives as if there is” (33). So, next time you meet an Arab female, think twice before asking ignorant questions like, “Why aren’t you covered if you’re Muslim?” or “Are you forced to wear that?” However, we understand that people who ask these types of questions are not to blame; the blame is to be put on the media, which relentlessly prolongs the misconceptions of Arab women solely as a way of entertainment.

Works Cited

Aladdin. Dir. Ron Clements and John Musker. 1992.

American Sniper. Dir. Clint Eastwood. 2014.

Harem Girls. Digital image. Harem Girls (Aladdin). Wikia, n.d. Web.

Homeland. Digital image. Framing Muslim Women: The Problem with Homeland’s Season 4 Campaign. The Postcolonialist, n.d. Web.

Homeland. Showtime. 2011-2014.

Marshall, Elizabeth, and Özlem Sensoy. “‘Save the Muslim Girl!'” Rethinking Popular Culture and Media. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools, 2011. 120-28.

Mother and son in American Sniper. Digital image. American Sniper Perpetuates Hollywood’s Typical Arab Stereotypes. The Conversation, n.d. Web.

Watt, Diane. “The Urgency of Visual Media Literacy in Our Post-9/11 World: Reading Images of Muslim Women in the Print News Media.” Journal of Media Literacy Education 4.1 (2012): 32-43.

Wingfield, Marvin, and Bushra Karaman. “Arab Stereotypes and American Educators.” American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (1995).

Brains vs. Beauty

The Battle Between Two Asian Female Archetypes in Popular Media

I am a bit of a geek. Just going to put it out there, right from the beginning, so you know which of the two camps the writer of this piece leans towards, but that doesn’t mean I believe people can or will fit into these sort of predetermined boxes and possess all the stereotypical traits and characteristics that make up those “neat” little packages. No, while I feel I am mostly comprised of what popular culture might consider to be a little “nerdy” I also think I am beautiful at times, I am the major character in my life and a minor one in others, I can be dynamic and will change over time and I have a complex personality (even if I don’t like to show it to many others). These are just some things that real people are made of, and although we like to believe, even trust, the portrayals of ourselves we see in television and film, not everything we see on TV is real. While doing research for this essay, I’ve discovered that:

  1. Asians are largely lacking in mainstream media, Asian women even more so, and
  2. Of the Asian girls onscreen, many of them fall into two basic types which we’ll look at a bit more in this paper, the appealing “airhead” and the drab and/or “nerdy” girls.

Basically, educated Asian females are portrayed this way because more often than not, they are highly sexualised in mainstream media, reducing the women and characters who are deemed “less appealing” to roles that only glorify the former. This leaves the selection of role models for young girls severely lacking onscreen and further develops a skewed and/or distorted reality.

SkyeChloe Bennet’s character Skye in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a well-rounded character who is both pretty and intelligent.

One major misconception about young Asian ladies, and many other people, who believe education to be one of the most important things in their lives is that they are plain, lacklustre or not much to look at. While staying on top of their studies may more often than not take a higher precedence over looking “picture perfect” every single day, there is the idea that someone who is more or less considered “bookish” is also assumed to be physically unattractive. This is simply untrue, a false stereotype that unfortunately lives on in popular culture as stock characters used to shine a spotlight on qualities that are deemed undesirable. Take Elaine Tan’s character Lucy Chang in the British film Starter for 10, released in 20061.

Lucy“And my name is Lucy Chang from Minneapolis, reading medicine.”

The actress herself is quite attractive, but Lucy’s wardrobe and makeup were specifically chosen to play up her “studiousness”, having her sport big, geeky eyeglasses and an overly-conservative attire bordering on bland and uninspiring. Personally, I wouldn’t view myself as being “fashion-forward”, but I do take care to style my hair in a variety of fun and pleasing ways, play with makeup and mix up what I wear, whether it’s a pair of Guess chinos with shiny black pumps to the office or a flowy chiffon dress with champagne-coloured gladiator sandals in summer. Comparing myself and Lucy as people, I believe we are very similar inside, but through persistent use of equating intelligence with appearing plain and/or homely, audiences are continuously told that’s how smart Asian women should look.

There is also the impression that literate Asian females aren’t skilled at interacting with the opposite sex, that they are socially reserved and that they don’t have a life outside school or work, three things that aren’t necessarily true and do not apply solely to this characterisation. As an aside, I’m quite curious where these perceptions originally came from, although I have a suspicion it may have stemmed from the same stigma the nerdy male counterpart is also known for, that they are inexperienced at conversing with women, etc etc. By any means, this theory that geeky Asian girls like myself don’t possess any sort of social life is essentially fictitious, in spite of television writers still inserting it into their TV programmes when a scene calls for a particularly awkward group situation, usually where the Asian woman fails to understand what she is supposedly lacking.


Torchwood – Toshiko Sato “That Stick Up Your Arse”

In this episode from the first series of Torchwood2, a popular science-fiction show that aired on BBC Three in 2006, the team’s technical expert, Toshiko Sato (played by Naoko Mori), is affronted by her coworker, Owen Harper, for spoiling the mood between him and his current flirt, the new girl, Gwen Cooper. This is regardless of the fact that he had set her back days, weeks, who knows how long in her work because of his recklessness in the office. All in all, this scene was made to reinforce the idea that because of her background, she wasn’t proficient enough at dealing with the scenario at hand and therefore she is in the wrong. Honestly, should any stand-in character archetype, race and gender notwithstanding, have to carry this kind of ill repute? This is simply rude, and unlike how the roles are being written on the page for film and TV, I wouldn’t stand for that kind of treatment.

Apart from this, the idea that educated Asian women are incompetent at connecting romantically or intimately with others, I came across something not entirely related, but certainly falling in the same category, the concept that Asian girls “are continuously depicted as subservient sexual objects that are only present to satisfy the White male character’s sexual desire”. In Murali Balaji and Tina Worawongs’s study The New Suzie Wong: Normative Assumptions of White Male and Asian Female Relationships3, the authors examine romantic relationships between Asian females and white males in television ads, unearthing some thought-provoking concerns. What interested me the most was their conclusion that this subject and those related to it should be further examined, as information of this kind reveals that “multiculturalism in advertising might perpetuate hegemonic ideals presented as norms”. I never before even considered that the “subservient Oriental girl” that can be seen every once in awhile in various forms in mainstream media, could be a product or by-product of extended use of the character archetype, unquestioned over time and simply accepted as something that just “is”. I also happened to find a 2013 film directed by Debbie Lum entitled Seeking Asian Female, that follows an aging white man with a penchant for dating young Asian women, however, perhaps that rabbit hole should be saved for another time; for now we turn our attention back to the geeky gals, the intellectual Asians that are supposed to be a reflection of me and those like me onscreen.

Sandy
Steven and Sandy, whose relationship is the basis for Seeking Asian Female.

Now, not to be completely negative, not everything on our screens misrepresents Asian women in this way, and I find it very interesting that sometimes our TV studios do get something right. Take for example, Sandra Oh’s character in Grey’s Anatomy, Cristina Yang, a cardiothoracic surgeon.

Cristina Yang Cristina Yang 2
From season 7 episode 17, “This is How We Do It”.

I’ve never seen the show, but from the clips I’ve seen while researching primary sources for this essay, it seems like this character is someone I can definitely relate to. Cristina is hardworking, intelligent, ambitious and — like the show she comes from — is deeply interconnected within all of the relationships she is an active part of. In one of my favourite scenes from season 5 (Grey’s Anatomy – 5×07 – Cristina’s Dad4), she is accused by the new surgical attending, Owen Hunt, of becoming a doctor just to be better than everyone else, but then she sits down with him and sets the story straight, exuding a toughness and confidence that some might even find captivating… You’d be hard pressed to label her as “brainy” and try to fit her in that box; she can’t be contained.

At any rate, it’s not easy to take these few examples we’ve been able to collect and pass judgement about whether or not the portrayals are completely accurate against all Asian girls who might identify themselves as erudite, but juxtaposing them against my own personal experiences I would have to say that popular culture more often than not misrepresents “me” in film and television. I feel like at my core, I am Lucy Chang and Toshiko Sato, but the audience can’t directly see that, and interpreting them only by how they look or associate with others in the media, therein lies a disconnect. Cristina Yang and I can relate much better overall, but I think characters like her are rare and rather uncommon in the sea of roles that are being written every day, passed over in favour of stand-ins and personalities that suit other, more superficial means and that’s a bit disappointing. In the future, I will continue to look out for other representations of the “brainy Asian girl” and hope that as time goes by, perhaps we as an audience begin to demand a little more realism, a little less instantaneous gratification, and maybe then we can start to see a little bit more of our true selves in the immediate culture we create and consume.


Cite:

  • 1 Starter for 10. Perf. James McAvoy, Alice Eve, Elaine Tan. Icon Film Distribution, 2006. DVD.
  • 2 Torchwood. Perf. Eve Myles, Burn Gorman, Naoko Mori. BBC Worldwide, 2006. DVD.
  • 3 Balaji, Murali, and Tina Worawongs. “The New Suzie Wong: Normative Assumptions Of White Male And Asian Female Relationships.” Communication, Culture & Critique 3.2 (2010): 224-241. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
  • 4 Grey’s Anatomy. Perf. Sandra Oh, Kevin McKidd. Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2008. Film.

Female Athletes

What comes to mind when you think of a female exercising or playing a sport? There’s a likelihood that you will get a whole plethora of mental images, ranging from strong, skilled women to a lady running through a field in a tennis skirt. More than likely, an image of a scantily clad (sporty clothes, but still not much of it) woman flashed through your mind regardless of everything else. Or you might immediately think about the phrase “run like a girl/throw like a girl”, or any of the gender projecting stereotypes about the athletic skills women might have. These are strongly embedded cultural attitudes about female athletics, which strongly effect the choices that both young, old and everything in between, female decide to make about what to do with their bodies.

As a female who’s always been into sports, I’ve been told, culturally and directly since I was a little kid, that I will never as good as men at sports. Many women’s sport leagues are considered a laughing stock. When was the last time someone got excited about a WNBA (women’s basketball) game, for instance? Can you even name a WNBA team if you tried? They play these games on national TV channels like ESPN, but if you watch a game, you can clearly see empty bleachers. What sort of message does this send to our young girls about the importance of women’s sports? A popular trope in comedy movies is for a female to pose as a male in order to be able to play competitive sports, such as in 2006’s She’s the Man starring Amanda Bynes; but the concept is rarely explored on a more serious level.

Another form of media in which you may discover a startling bend to female athletic ability is in popular magazines for young women, such as Cosmopolitan or Seventeen. It’s quite easy to find the exercise section. They typically present you with photos of fit young girls, and then provide you with terrible exercise and diet advice. They promote and push the concept of “toning up”, which in the world of exercise, is actually considered to be a falsehood. I remember as a teen girl, doing hundreds of crunches with my girlfriends in hopes of obtaining that ever-elusive perfect hard and flat tummy. Of course, I couldn’t, because I just wasn’t aware of the amount of work that goes into having a perfectly fit body. These magazine articles skirt around the idea that women are strong, and can have muscles too. Women are encouraged to use cardio equipment and eat salads. The truth of the matter is, women are just as capable of doing anything at the gym a man is, even if they can’t lift (quite) as heavy weights ultimately, and if they want to have a perfect fit body, then they should do more then a few simple exercises a day.

Beyond the doubting of whether a female can acquire a skill, there is also the complete dismissal of skill entirely. What I’m speaking of here is the sexualization of female athletes; the long legs, flat stomachs, tight tan skin, and the skimpy outfits that no doubt accompany them. While thinking about this, I performed a simple experiment and typed in several different queries into YouTube that had to do with female athleticism, such as ‘female runner’, ‘female athlete’, ‘female tennis’, etc., and every single query included results in the first 5 results that included the word ‘sexy’; in fact, the “sexy” results dominated the search results each time. These videos typically contain up close videos of the women, focusing on particular body parts or actions (butt, breasts, up skirt, for instance), and pay little mind to what sport is at hand, much less whether the woman at hand has true talent and skill. Most of the time, if you watch these videos, you won’t have any idea of any athletic accomplishments by the time they’re finished playing.

I think it is difficult to separate out sexy from female athlete in our minds. It’s pretty far spread throughout our culture that the two go together. There are plenty of situations where the athletic skill of a female athlete is completely ignored in favor of discussing her body or overall attractiveness. There are even female sports that seem to exist purely to titillate the audience viewers, for instance, one may think of that as cheerleaders, completely disregarding the actual skill, talent and time it takes to become a major league cheerleader. In a short documentary about female athletes by Challenging Media (mediaed.org), the researchers at hand discuss some of the reasons for this type of sexualization of female sports. They hypothesize that male sports viewers typically view male sports as a competition and a way to vent stress, even if they are not personally involved. So for them to watch female sports, it wouldn’t engage the same competitive or stress relieving feeling, and they are more likely to project sexual feelings on to the females, rather than how they would normally feel about male sports. However, this explanation is not strong enough to explain why the sexuality of female athlete’s is so pervasive.

All that being said, there are people trying to change the way we think about and approach females in sports. Lately, there has been a strong push for women to just get out there, exercise and be healthy. Both the media, and just individuals are realizing the necessity of being active, and that encouraging women to just do some crunches and run on a treadmill isn’t necessarily effective. This is encouraging, because it means some women will find their way into sports that never otherwise would have considered it. And these days, it is common to go to the gym and see women using free weights and all different sorts of equipment, not just limiting themselves to a certain way of exercise. Furthermore there is a growing voice that already being slim and fit is not a prerequisite to being active; participating in sports and exercise is something that transcends body shape and size.

However, there are still some icky feeling sexism to fight. For instance, that feeling that I mentioned in the beginning of this of inferiority, compared to male athletes. I grew up feeling inferior to male athletes, and I know many other girls did as well. People would assume my skill would be sloppy and uncoordinated. It was insulting for a boy to be told he throws like a girl. I constantly felt like I had to prove myself. As an adult, these feelings really aren’t present; I know I am strong, and capable. However, as a young girl (think age eight to eleven), it often came as a strong self-esteem blow. I would refuse to wear pink clothes and wanted my hair short. I wanted to play male-oriented sports, like football and hockey. I really didn’t want anyone tell me I couldn’t, but it was still pervasive.

During the Superbowl football this year, Always maxipad brand aired a commercial that attempted to fight that particular stereotype and phrase. “Like A Girl” interviewed a few different females and males of varying age on their opinions of the phrases “Run like a girl”, “fight like a girl”, etc and discusses how much this can effect young girls, and how we should change the phrases to mean something positive versus negative. I liked the message behind the ad a lot. I’m all for things that might challenge how people think. However, there were several issues with the ad that makes it less effective. First of all, it never even mentions that it is an ad for menstrual products, which inherently suggests that there is something shameful about female bodies and should not be mentioned, and secondly, the people they chose to show in their ad are exaggerations (for instance, a teen girl gets worried about her hair). These are just little things I noticed that bothered me, pushing me to think the ad is not as open-minded as it may seem.

Overall, we have come a long way, but a lot of pervasive stereotypes and representations pervade in our culture and media. I think that a big difference will come when we start to value female talent over looks in athletics other than the big leagues like the Olympics. After all, a woman shouldn’t have to be a superstar athlete in order to get noticed for talent. I personally hope to see sports uniforms that focus less on exposing the midriff and shaping the bottom, to more on functionality, as well. As our culture continues to fight gender stereotypes, we will also see more young girls willing and able to be active and sporty beyond just stereotypically female oriented activities. We should encourage these girls to further their skills, and not compare them to their male counterparts. While we cannot change what the media says or does, we can all take a little part in fighting the misrepresentations, even if, for instance, you don’t take a personal interest in sports.

Sources

Asian Women Identity Essay

Asian Women

The cultural stereotype of Asian women as sexual, exotic and submissive objects is historically dated back in the Western colonization of various Asian countries. Asian women were viewed as objects to be possessed. Asian women are portrayed in the media as sexual objects. Asian women identities of being Asian females no longer exist because their sense of individuality was viewed by Westerner as “Asians”. Asian women who immigrated to the United States were only seen as an exotic object. During the US involvement with wars in Japan, China and World war II, Asian women were perceived as prostitutes and sexual objects to American soldiers because they had provided sexual activities from the war zones. Asian women at home who are expected to be domestic by providing care, rest and recuperation. These stereotypes led throughout the years have been perpetuated in media and films. By showing Asian women as only sexual beings in films and the media, this then offers Asian women only two choices in films to either be naïve and hopeless or untrustworthy and devious.

Although throughout the years, the media had made improvements to eliminate stereotypes from films, televisions and advertisement of Asian women it is still arguable that the sexploitation of Asian women is still apparent. There are more Asian women who play in films such as actress Lucy Liu who plays in Charlie’s Angels. She is one of the most well-known Asian women actresses who play one of the main characters; however they still make her looks erotic in the film. There is also an actress name Brenda Song who plays a not so smart rich girl in the Suite life of Zack and Cody. Though, her character is a normal character and there isn’t a stereotypical portrayal on the show, it is very rare to see that an Asian woman plays a non-stereotypical character. I feel that I can name more movies that have Asian women in film that plays a sexual object in films oppose to Asian women that plays a non-stereotypical character of an Asian women.

Studies show that how Asian Americans are portrayed in the media began only in the 1990’s. Asian American representation is sparse and often virtually invisible and when Asian American is assigned a role they are narrowly defined roles based on the model minority stereotype. American entertainment media have defined the Asian image to the public, and usually, that image has been shaped by people with little understanding of Asian people and their culture and with the little foresight into how such portrayals would impact the Asian community. These stereotypes portray Asian Americans as lacking in leadership, innovation and motivation. More often, many Asian Americans encounter a point that prevents them from being promoted to a main character movie role or a top administrative position.

I didn’t think too much before about how the world portrays Asian women. I knew the typical stereotypes that Asian people had which was being nerdy and anti-social. I do remember when I was in high school; I was speaking to one of my teacher about how excited I was to go off to college. She then told me “to be careful because American men tend to take advantage of Asian women”. That was the first encounter I had with realizing that Asian women are portrayed as being exotic sexual objects. Also, Asian women are also known as being “mail order brides” meaning that Asian women are desperate to come to America so therefor they are willing to marry any American men. I notice that when people see an Asian woman with an American man they start to think that she was probably a mail order bride. That shows a valid reason how people portray Asian women. However, that is arguable because I know many couples who are in a happy interracial relationship and the Asian woman is far from a mail order bride.

Asian women aren’t only as portrayed as a sexual object but they are also portrayed and being nerdy or anti- social. People tend to think that Asian people are all smart and usually Asian women are raised to be perfect and successful. That is because their parents emigrated from another country and didn’t have the chance to go to college so therefore they push their children extra hard to study, finish school and find a good job. Asian women come off as being quiet and vulnerable, which they are portrayed as being anti- social. That dates back to how Asian women are brought to be domestic house wives and they are raised to respect their husbands and elders to not speak back, it’s their culture. Being raised the way they are, makes them be anti-social to society.

After analyzing one of my sources the TV show “Fresh off the boat” it made me to believe the stereotype of Asian women is still an issue. The TV show is based off a memoir of Chef Eddie Huangs life. Since my identity is Asian women, I mainly analyze the Asian woman that plays the mother. I think the show makes good points on which some things as being Asian in general I can relate too but I also feel that some things on the show can be offensive. The mom on the show portrays many stereotypical ways of how an Asian woman is portrayed. She is a stay at home mother, which is typical for Asian women. She has a heavy accent which is something I can relate too growing up because my parents are immigrants. They made her be very “cheap” which another stereotype of Asian people is. They didn’t make her as submissive as most movies with Asian women in them because this show is more of a family show.

My secondary source was a YouTube video I found on YouTube called “18 different types of Asian girls.” After analyzing this video, it wasn’t helping the stereotypes of Asian women. This video explained basically every type of Asian girl there is. Of course, the submissive Asian women were analyzed as being import models which are basically models wearing little to no clothes and the model with cars. The video also explains how Asian women dress, of course they dress provocatively. They also state the nerdy Asian women that are the smart ones and also they state the quiet good girl Asian girl. After analyzing the video, they were Asian people that made the video and it was an Asian girl that portrayed all these Asian women. The go into detail with each different Asian women and how they are all different. Though, the video was obviously made to show the different types of Asian girls, they brought up obvious stereotypes of Asian women that are still portrayed in our society today.

 

 

 

The Stereotypical Female College Student

Looking into the Female College Student Mirror

By Amber Bennett

In most media sources I have seen, the typical female college student is in a sorority or band and doesn’t seem to care about getting good grades or learning. She pretty much just cares about guys, hooking up, and drinking. My analysis revealed that when women are shown to hook up with men, we are looked at as promiscuous. But in comedy movies, such as 21 and Over and American Pie 2, hooking up is portrayed as cool and expected which may be because it is aimed towards a male audience. Thankfully, Gilmore Girls and Liberal Arts show a completely different side of the college student, especially the smart, studious, female college students.

Gilmore Girls is a show that came to my mind first as being a source which breaks the stereotypical portrayal of a female college student. Instead of the typical college female portrayal, the main character Rorie Gilmore is going to Yale, on her way to becoming a journalist. She has a few rough patches throughout but the difference is Rorie regrets her mistakes and faces her consequences of them. Whereas, this is not the case in the comedies American Pie 2 and 21 and Over. The movie that was the exception to any stereotypical college student usually portrayed in movies is Liberal Arts. This movie showed a more realistic version of a college student. Zibby is a drama major, loves to read, “doesn’t want to “hook up” like other others at her college do”, She explains in the movie. She wants a long lasting relationship with someone she truly cares about. I feel this is more representative of the majority of college students or at least another identity being portrayed, that others like myself can relate to.

In Liberal Arts, Zibby is even portrayed to be a virgin in her sophomore year of college and it is because she wanted to wait for the right person, which people do still do, despite what media usually teaches us. I waited until 19 years old and for the right person just like Zibby does so I felt like my identity was being portrayed in a very positive way, unlike other movies where that part of my identity being shown is non existent. Liberal Arts shows a realistic view of daily issues and real life problems. For example, it showed the struggle of a college student battling with mental illness, which is another identity others would connect with. I quickly realized while watching this movie that this is one exception in the media that truly breaks the stereotypes for college students. It shows a wide range of identities that college students possess. College is more than just sex, alcohol, and partying, which is the only things that happen in other forms of media that are created.

No matter the type of female college student, whether it be the band geek, sorority girl, or quiet and studious, the media I analyzed other than Liberal Arts, portrays women as promiscuous. When watching and analyzing 21 and Over and American Pie 2, I noticed that the main girls are extremely sexual and either in sororities or in the band. The female band geek who plays flute is a stereotype especially depicted in American Pie 2. She is really experienced and extremely sexual, she gives her friend lessons on sex because she is very experienced. There is not much character depth for the band girl other than her being very sexual and a flute player. I found it interesting that women with these college identities are shown to be so experienced and obsessed with sex, but usually in comedy movies that seem to be aimed at a male demographic. In addition, the girls in these comedy movies do not have much to their character because they are just focused on sex, partying, and drinking. However, in Liberal Arts and Gilmore Girls, the women are more studious and wanting to wait for the right time to have sex with the right person.

      Zibby and Rorie’s characters are depicted as more important and thought out, probably because they are dramas as opposed to comedy. These dramas are aimed at a female demographic and shows consequences of actions along with character development. Rorie in Gilmore Girls does end up sleeping with her ex boyfriend who was married. However, at least the show portrays her as being regretful of those decisions as opposed to not caring about consequences at all in the comedies. I found this to be revealing because I wonder if increase of rape on college campuses could be related to these comedies, usually aimed at a male demographic, to be portraying females as hyper sexualized. This is portrayed so intensely in media that could lead men to think women always want sex and want to sleep with any guy available. 

The two comedies also portray all students as being heavy binge drinkers, which many sadly are, but not all students are. No one in these movies were abstaining from drinking which many students do in real life. Since drinking is so popular and normalized, however, students that do not drink are looked at as weird and not normal. Researchers Herman-Kinney and Kinney explain that they “learned early on in their research that being an abstainer from drinking at college was a topic that many of these students chose not to make widely known” (69) because it is to the point that media portrays it as the norm. Media makes it binge-drinking and partying seem so normal that when real life college students abstain from drinking, it is looked at by other students as abnormal. These researchers use pussies, nerds, losers, and freaks as examples of what some abstainers from drinking have been called. For these reasons, I believe media is to blame for this stigma placed on non drinkers, as it is portrayed as “cool” and the purpose of college.

These researchers also report “that while some students (especially females) regretted hooking up while intoxicated, others defined the experience of hooking up as a positive benefit of binge drinking” (66). Sadly, in these comedies I analyzed, men and women were not shown to be regretful as they are in real life and are instead encouraged to get wasted and hook up with random people. However, Gilmore Girls does show regret and shame for this behavior so at least viewers can see the consequences that one has to deal with. The tv drama and movie drama portrayed realistic life for college students. Struggle, hardships, happiness, and love.

It is sad that comedies aimed at a male audience only portray women as hyper sexual beings and that all they want is sex and do not value anything else. One girl, Nicole, did value school in 21 and over but was really into partying and obviously in a sorority, like most girls are in college movies. Her good grades were not focused on for long though, she still seemed to like partying more. There is not much else I can say about this character, as she was shown to just go from party to party. Nicole was not shown much in the movie and she was the only girl as the focus was on the three guy friends. I am not in a sorority as they are not very popular at PSU. As one student said on Niche, the college scholarship site “You don’t come to PSU for the greek life, it is pretty much non-existent”. The fact PSU isn’t known for sororities or fraternities makes me feel more welcomed since I am not really into that part of college. If I went to OSU, I would feel out of place, like how I felt when watching the two comedies that depict greek life as being so normal and the only option for college students.

My analysis proves that teen and young adult comedies show a college party scene as being the norm, whereas the tv and movie drama shows realistic and responsible college students. Maybe not always responsible, but at least feel bad for their bad actions. These show a different identity of college students, which fits my identity more as a student and I am sure many others as well. It is too bad that more media sources are not portraying more responsible identities of young adults in college and focus on negative portrayals. This can have a negative impact on how older adults view college students and will not take us seriously in real life.

Works Cited

21 and Over. Dir. John Lucas and Scott Moore. Perf. Miles Teller, Justin Chon, and    Jonathon Keltz. Relativity Media, 2013. Film.

American Pie 2. Dir. J.B. Rogers. Perf. Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, and Shannon Elizabeth, Film.

Herman- Kinney, N., Kinney, D. The Stigma and Sobriety and How Some College Students “Stay Dry” on a “Wet” Campus. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. 42(1) 64-103.

Liberal Arts. Dir. Josh Radnor. Perf. Josh Radnor, Elizabeth Olsen, Zac Efron. BCDF Pictures, 2012. Film.

Portland State University. Greek Life Reviews. Niche. 2015.

Sorority Girl in the Mirror

Sorority Girl in the Mirror

Female, blonde, pretty, perfect hair and makeup, fit, campus hierarchy, drunk, partier, judgmental, and boy crazy. These are the most typical words and phrases used to describe a sorority girl. Media is a large source of people’s knowledge on social interactions and human behaviors. The stereotype that I chose to decipher was the “sorority girl,” many of these stereotypes go unnoticed unless someone is watching for them because it seems natural. However, what is natural is the sisterhood that is created and the love of the sisters.

Being in a sorority myself, I have encountered many misconceptions from people that have gained their knowledge from the media. Media doesn’t portray the full truth, it exaggerates everything. Take Disney for example, not every girl is going to be swept off their feet into a horse drawn carriage by Prince Charming yet, some girls grow up with these very thoughts and hold men to these standards. Some people are so quick to judge someone that is involved in Greek life; therefore, in conversation I chose to lead with the topic. People always seem surprised when I say that I am an accounting major, on the Dean’s list, in The National Society of College Scholars (as well as the High School Scholars), work for a bank, involved in other programs at school, and have a generous amount of volunteer hours.  I have received numerous types of reactions as far as, “then why are you in a sorority.” Responses such as this feel so disrespectful because I am proud to say I am a sister in Alpha Chi Omega and have hundreds of sisters just from my school that are there for me through everything and countless from all over the United States.

The first piece of media I analyzed was a favorite amongst my sorority, Legally Blonde. While there are many stereotypes embedded throughout the movie it sends an overall uplifting representation of a sorority girl. The main character, Elle Woods, went from being a stereotypical sorority girl to top of her graduating class at Harvard Law. In the beginning, it showed Elle and sisters partying with fraternity brothers, practicing cheer, exercising, getting their nails and hair done, and gossiping amongst each other. Yes, many women participate in one if not more of these activities, but it is not only sorority girls. When Warren, Elle’s boyfriend, broke up with her he said he needed to marry “a Jackie not a Marilyn” and she goes straight to appearance with this reference as if that is all she cares about. With that reference he was saying that she wasn’t sophisticated and classy.

To prove that she could be more than just a sorority girl, she decided to apply for Harvard Law. In the video she uses being president of her sorority to display her values and leadership ability which is also a common way to choose sorority sisters. On the other hand, she was in a bikini for a lot of it and very girly. The acceptance team for Harvard was all men and they decided based on her video. Once admitted in to school, she sticks out due to her appearance and is tested because people are so shocked that a blonde sorority girl is in their class. She ends up winning a spot on a professor’s team representing in a real murder case in court. Turns out she knows the defendant, an alumni of her old sorority chapter, on trial for the murder of her husband. Just when it starts to turn the focus away from the sorority and more into a success story they bring it back in court. She wins the case because of her knowledge about hair because a sister had previously had a perm. With this connection she gains an advantage because Brooke, the defendant, trusts her sister. Sisterly love created a bond of trust and won the case.

Next, I watched House Bunny with a lead character, Shelley, which was a Playboy bunny and later a house mom for the Zeta sorority. I watched the movie prior to this assignment and failed to recognize the true moral of the story. In the beginning, all I could focus on is the sexualized stereotype of a sorority girl.  Shelley is in skimpy clothes throughout the movie and always turning boys’ heads. When she leaves the Playboy mansion she is wandering the street and passes by a sorority house and compares it to the Playboy bunnies. I was so shocked by this statement because of how bluntly they focused purely on appearance. Shelley becomes the house mom for the Zeta chapter, the chapter who is considered the losers on campus and was about to be kicked out. Shelley teaches these girls to be attractive to men and get the attention of incoming girls. The girls dye their hair, buy make up, and change fashion styles and quickly transform. The chapter then hosts the largest party with a theme of Greeks displaying many drunk college students. The Zetas become the most popular sorority on campus and they get so many girls that want to join that they have to deny people. The original girls start to judge solely on the appearance and the best qualities. In reality, when choosing who joins a sorority, the chapter decides based on the standards of the chapter, such as academics, and the connection they made and if they would be a good fit. Never is it based on what they look like or financials. The original girls decide to go back to being more like themselves in appearance while keeping some of Shelley’s input. In the end they chose the sisters randomly by picking names and learned that it doesn’t only matter what is on the outside but their character.

Unlike the uplifting views at the ends of Legally Blonde and House Bunny. Sorority Row is pure stereotypes. This movie is classified as a horror because of murders. The first scene is a party that has hazing, drinking, kissing, and drugs. The senior girls pull a prank on an ex-boyfriend because he cheated on one of them. He believes that she is almost dead and he stabs her to fully kill her. There is killer that begins to taunt them and threaten their lives. They decide to keep the death a secret to protect their futures. Every time there is a bad situation they bring up how sisters stick together. It is true that sisters stick together but it is through good and bad and not to be used as a bribing tactic. The victim was a sister too. The main characters fit all the characteristics I stated at the beginning. There are parties the whole time, sex scenes, no true bonds, and a lot of lying. In the, there is no hazing allowed at any chapter and there can be serious consequences for doing so. Sisters don’t want to hurt each other. This movie shows how media exaggerates the stereotypes.

Critics also take into consideration the influence of the media and do studies on drinking habits of sororities and fraternities. A critic, Gary Pike, compared the student engagement in other campus activities and education in the last four decades. He was surprised that there was such bad scrutiny and assumption of negative affects with alcohol and education. He decided to do a retrial of these findings and came up with mixed results. Student engagement and academic challenge were the same between students and Greek life with no change from past results. Thus, showing that the stereotypes of Greeks taking easy classes and just sliding through college is not true. On the other side, with campus support the Greeks have a higher gain in Personal Development.  In the end he also points out that there is a large power in socializing and the policies within the Greek system meeting “campus values and sound educational practices.”

There are many forms of media that portray everything in different views and the viewers will take what they wish to believe from each of these pieces. When it comes to sorority life, I believe that sororities are much more than what is perceived in the media whether it is good or bad. These organizations make a large impact in people’s life. I have gained a lot from my sorority and truly believe that it has positively influenced my life. I have learned how to better be a leader, time management, true friendship, and have created a bond with each of my sisters including the sisters in different letters (other sororities).

 

 

Work Cited

Elling, Susan R., and Theodore W. Elling. “The Influence of Work on College Student Development.” Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice 37.2 (2000): n. pag. Journal of College Student Development. Project Muse, May-June 2003. Web. Feb. 2015.

Legally Blonde. Dir. Robert Luketic. Perf. Reese Witherspoon and Luke Wilson. MGM Home Entertainment, 2001. DVD

Sorority Row. Dir. Stewart Hendler. Perf. Briana Evigan, Rumer Willis, and Carrie Fisher, Summit Entertainment, 2009. DVD.

The House Bunny. Dir. Fred Wolf. Prod. Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo, Allen Covert, Heather Parry, Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith, and Anna Faris. By Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith. Perf. Anna Faris, Colin Hanks, and Emma Stone. Columbia Pictures, 2008. DVD.

Minimum Wage

I got my first job while I was still in high school, working as a fry cook at McDonald’s. At the age of 18, I was the youngest employee there by three years and well below the average age of the staff, which must have been somewhere around 30. The story was much the same at my next job, a retail position at Staples, where I was younger than most of the other employees by a number of decades.

My personal experience fits into one common cultural mold rather neatly: I’m a student with a part-time job. I’m working minimum wage jobs to support myself while I’m in school, but this is a temporary situation. Eventually I’ll have my degree and I’ll be doing something else. It’s a simple and relatable story. So many adults with successful careers started where I am now. You can see this “type” depicted in movies like Waiting and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. But in my experience, my type is the exception, not the norm. Most of my coworkers have been minimum wage “lifers.” When I say lifer, I don’t mean that they’ll be working the exact same job their entire life (which is unlikely given how high turnover rates are for these types of jobs) but rather that they will continue to work food service and retail jobs. For some, minimum wage work is their only option because they didn’t graduate high school, have a criminal record, or are an immigrant who doesn’t speak English very well. Whatever the reason and despite their personal ambitions, they’re stuck where they are.

From the sources I’ve reviewed, this second type, the “lifer,” is the type of minimum wage worker that sees the most representation in popular media. As an example, consider an episode from the show 30 Days by Morgan Spurlock (of Super-Size Me­ fame) where he spends a month living on minimum wage with his wife. The premise of the show is that someone (often, but not always Spurlock himself) lives an alternate lifestyle for a month, such as a Christian living the life of a practicing Muslim, or in this case a well-off actor living on minimum wage. Spurlock and his wife start with a few hundred dollars and have to find jobs and an apartment. Spurlock ends up finding work at a temp agency while his wife gets a job bussing tables and washing dishes at a café. This experiment more closely mirrors the life of someone working a job just to get by than a student working to help pay for school.
Spurlock puts himself in a situation that is tougher than the one most minimum wage workers face by moving to a new area where he has no friends and getting his own place instead of trying to find roommates. He also plays up certain themes and events to make a point about how difficult it is to live on minimum wage. For example, when his wife sprains her wrist she goes to the emergency room because she has no healthcare and is then stuck with an insurmountably large bill. Spurlock talks at length about how difficult it is to live on minimum wage, and how living pay check to pay check can easily to into a trap.

The theme of minimum wage as a trap is echoed in another nonfiction media source, a PBS news feature about what it’s like to live on minimum wage (the feature is available on Youtube: youtube.com/watch?v=-a0k68ZJEQU). The news feature approaches the same topic from a different angle, interviewing a McDonald’s employee and an airport baggage handler, both of whom work for minimum wage. The interview with the baggage handler does not delve into how the subject found himself in his present situation, but the interview with the McDonald’s employee discusses the subject at length. She explains that she is a single mother of two and a high school dropout with a shoplifting conviction on her criminal record. I don’t think that it would surprise anyone to find out that a fast food worker has a criminal record, or that they dropped out of high school. The McDonald’s employee is stuck. She lives pay check to pay check, held back by the financial burden of raising two children and the professional barrier of having dropped out of high school, not to mention having a criminal record.

 

Gamers – Not always Fat, Lazy, Nerds

Fat, lazy, nerds, three terms that are often used in reference to people who enjoy playing video games. Those are words I’ve been called on many occasions often when I just mention that I like playing video games. Popular culture, such as shows like South Park, supports the stereotype that gamers are fat and lazy. Just like with any hobby such as movie fanatics, there are those who are skinny, fat, tall and short. The hobby itself does not make one socially awkward. However, according to the majority of media, sitting in front of a computer screen for games makes you a different person. There are many stereotypes that sadden me, the very common ‘Girl Gamer’ stereotype is among them, essentially; women who only play video games for attention. It has never made sense to me why these stereotypes exist, they often bring me a lot of sadness, not the solace and joy I find in video games.

One of those many stereotypes that I’ve found is that video gamers are violent. Granted, many games involve shooting other players or NPC’s (Non-player character). To many people who don’t understand the fun in the game, they simply think that gamers are violent. The most popular games are based around killing, such as League of Legends, World of Warcraft and Call of Duty. An article written by Seb Wuepper describes how Bioshock 2, a popular game from 2010, has a great story line but puts off the public because of the gore. To many people, especially those who don’t play games, Bioshock 2 may just seem like a bloody onslaught while it actually has a great storyline. Wuepper believes that if there is less gore, or the games are less horrifying that media won’t keep portraying video games as evil. While I understand why Wuepper might think that gore is the reason for many problems video gamers, there are plenty of movies that have endless amounts of gore and are critically acclaimed. Think of the movie Django Unchained by Quentin Tarantino, an extremely gory movie. It was loved by movie goers and critics alike, receiving an 88% on rotten tomatoes. So why should video games that have gore be shunned while movies that have gore be praised?

Along with being gore loving, video gamers are stereotypically male and do not like playing video games with women. In my experience this is far from the truth, but I know that this is a common trend. The term ‘Girl Gamer’ has negatively affected a lot of women because men have started to believe that women only think women play games for attention. In a video by Buzzfeed called If Gamer Girls Acted Like Gamer Guys they reverse the stereotypes in order to amplify them. They show how poorly women are treated which is horrible when it does happen. For the most part, the simple fact is that most men don’t care whether it’s a man or women playing video games with them. It’s unfortunate that the perceived notion is that most men are always mean to women who play games and that women only play games for attention.

When it comes to girlfriends who play video games, it doesn’t seem like media believes that it’s an acceptable norm. In the Big Bang Theory, a popular sitcom, the men of the group love playing video games. In an episode titled The Weekend Vortex, we see the four guys of the show planning a weekend marathon for a new Star Wars video game. When the girlfriends of the guys ask them to do other things they refuse. Only one of the three who have girlfriends allows her to join in on the marathon of fun (although she goes home later in the night). The simple fact most of my friends who have girlfriends either play video games with their girlfriends or try to get them to. Video games are something that people like to share with their girlfriends. People enjoy sharing their hobbies with the person they are in a relationship with, even when it comes to video gaming. In my personal gaming group there are two pairs of boyfriend and girlfriends who play games together. There is in no way any resentment towards women who play games and still find it mind boggling that that stereotype exists. The term ‘Girl Gamer’ and the negative stereotypes around women who play video games has negatively affected the gamer identity as a whole.

In my personal experience, most people don’t think gamers are smart, healthy or any other positive word that are used to describe attributes. In the show South Park in an episode titled, Make Love, Not Warcraft, we see the characters of the show playing a popular video game called World of Warcraft. While I have to admit, the episode was funny, it did not portray video gamers in the way I see them. South Park portrayed gamers as fat lazy nerds who ‘have no lives’. In the show, the greatest and most talented video game player is exactly what they describe video gamers as, a fat and lazy person. This is South Park’s representation of a video gamer.

When the four main characters of South Park play games for hours a day, they almost instantly become fat and extremely lazy with a great amount of acne. I know for a fact that every video gamer is not fat and lazy, there’s no evidence that they are. Video gaming is just like any other hobby. Are people who watch TV or read books instantly fat and lazy? No, because it’s not the hobby that makes you fat and lazy. The stereotype that gamers have no life makes me sad. Just because we enjoy talking to friends online and fighting our way through dungeons or building a city online, does not make us have no life.

A story written by Dan Iverson for IGN, a gaming website, shows how even gamers have accepted their fate as being labeled as fat lazy nerds who have no life. He wrote an article about the South Park episode Make Love, Not Warcraft. While he noted the comedic aspect of the show (I tend to agree, the episode was funny), he does not look at the stereotypes that the show is giving off. It basically says that if you play this game called World of Warcraft, you have no life. That would be like saying, if you play basketball for more than a three hours a day, you have no life. Imagine the retaliation that would be given if that were to be said by hundreds of movies and TV shows. But to most gamers, it’s a normal thing to be criticized. I’ve personally played World of Warcraft and I went to college at the same time. I would love for the media to stray away from criticizing gamers. What’s the evil that games are doing? Granted, some games are extremely gory and sexual but so are thousands of movies, books and TV shows. There is no great evil that video games are radiating so why all the hostility towards gamers?

There is one person on the internet agrees with me. A video on YouTube titled Gamers are fat lazy nerds! (You have to watch the video to make sense of the title), by a channel by the name of JimSauce, (I believe his actual name is Will, said at the beginning of the video) shows how a gamer much like myself distastes of the misconception around gamers and simply does not understand why gaming can be looked down at so heavily. In his story, he talks about how a teacher was telling about person who dropped out college. The teacher blames his ‘laziness’ and college failure on video games. It’s very easy to blame something randomly with your eyes closed but does it really paint a whole picture? It seems like games are becoming a scapegoat. I understand where Will is coming from because it’s frustrating to see people who seem nice despise video gamers for the sole reason that we are stereotyped to be fat and lazy. Just because you may not play video games, or even if you don’t like video games, doesn’t automatically make video games a bad thing.

It’s not just something that media is stereotyping any more, it’s most people who have never played a video game. My parents used to not like the fact that I liked playing video games for the sole reason that it took time away from my studies. I got into Portland State, the college I wanted to go to, I think I’m doing just fine even though I’m an avid gamer. One of the ways that I think works is that video gamers can show non-gamers what video gaming is really about. I once played a game called World of Tanks with my Dad. While video games weren’t for him in the long haul we had a great time bonding while playing the game. Video games are a great source of entertainment for people of any age, media needs to stray away from the idea of gamers that are fat lazy nerds who are socially awkward and have no life.

Playing video games is something I have taken a great deal of pride in for a long time, I’m competitive just like anyone who strives to play sports at a high level is. It simply hurts my brain to think of how many people have told me video games are evil machines that do nothing except corrupt your mind. Most of my best friends I’ve found over the internet because of video games. I think I’m better in certain social situations because I interact with my friends on a daily basis. I can’t imagine my life without video games and honestly wouldn’t want to even if I could. I absolutely love video games and I wish mainstream media and those who watch media could see video games in at least some of the light that I do.

 

 

Bibliography

GAMERS ARE FAT LAZY NERDS! YouTube, 5 Sept. 2013. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcG3790B1BM&gt;.

If Gamer Girls Acted Like Gamer Guys. YouTube, 23 Oct. 2014. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCraeo0PPcw&gt;.

Iverson, Dan. “South Park: “Make Love, Not Warcraft” Review.” IGN, 6 Oct. 2006. Web. <http://www.ign.com/articles/2006/10/05/south-park-make-love-not-warcraft-review&gt;.

Loree, Chuck, Bill Prady, and Tara Hernandez. “The Weekend Vortex.” The Big Bang Theory. CBS. 8 Mar. 2012. Television.

Parker, Trey. “Make Love, Not Warcraft.” South Park. Comedy Central. 4 Oct. 2006. Television.

Wuepper, Seb. “The Outside Perspective.” The Outside Perspective. Gameranx, 21 Jan. 2012. Web. <http://www.gameranx.com/features/id/4603/article/the-outside-perspective/&gt;.

Looking in the Pop Culture Mirror: Black Women in Entertainment

Modern Black feminist thought often times asserts the idea that though the widespread recognition of Black women in the workforce, popular culture, movies, TV, and music is certainly a testament to societal progress, much of it complies with a white patriarchal power system where institutionalized oppression and societal assumptions stigmatize Black women for stereotypes that were imposed upon them, while simultaneously requiring that Black women hold true to those stereotypes in order to be deemed entertaining enough for the mainstream. Black women in all forms of media are chastised for their unapologetically loud voices, sexual identities, and their socioeconomic standings. They are laughed at, mocked, stared at in awe and confusion, and are usually completely without control of how they are presented to the rest of society.

The idea that Black women are inherently aggressive both violently and sexually seems to be incredibly pervasive in much of mainstream media that is consumed by people of all genders, classes, and races. The assumptions made about Black women throughout society about their reliance on welfare, hypersexuality, and inability to get along with people are what have formed and helped bolster the “celebrity” status of the few Black women in positions of cultural relevance today.

These ideas can be found specifically in TV media, specifically “reality” TV. Shows like Bad Girls Club, Basketball Wives, etc. have been popularized for featuring fights between Black women, scenes that showcase their sexual indiscretions, infidelity, violent behavior toward others, loud voices, and rude demeanor – all of which are stereotypes about Black women that are perpetuated constantly.

Bad Girls Club, a cable TV show, is wildly popular in many social groups, and uses fight scenes to draw viewers in and consequently make more money. This fact, that the Oxygen Network’s goal is to make money, informs how the show is constructed in a way that is meant to draw people in. Surely, like in a lot of TV and movies, the antagonist is just as scary as it is entertaining. Because the makers of the show are interested in getting more people to watch, it makes sense for them to rely on socially accepted and exploited notions of what Black women are like. This reliance on Black women for the sake of entertainment goes back hundreds of years to when Black women were put on display for their “freakish” bodies, and it doesn’t take much to see that the audience, probably not cognizant of this history, will therefore be entertained. Even the way the show is filmed is entertaining: dramatic music, quick scene cuts and highly intense drama that victimizes white cast members and demonizes their Black counterparts.

Another type of media, which is uniquely 21st century, is YouTube. Specifically, videos from the Internet craze around parody videos has lead to a glaringly obvious show of how strong stereotypical views can be, and how viewers react to these stereotypes by seeing them as comedy. In a music video from 2012 two men created a song called “Ratchet Girl Anthem” with lyrics and a video that used highly exaggerated stereotypes about Black women to create a “funny, catchy” song:

Girl, let me tell you what I got my mister mister (girl what)
A baby boy and it came with a sister (uh uh)
Girl, yes, I’m pregnant, but I still hit the club I’m in the middle of the floor, no shoes, WHAAT’S UUUPPP!!!
I had to get cute today, apple bottom jeans, fur boots today
I had to keep it looking ’cause my baby daddy just made bail
He a thug, you know he’ll shoot today
New baby need new shoes today, child support check get today
Got the tracks yesterday, girl did you get the glue today (you know it)
Gone beef it up, mooove tramp
It’s the 15, I got food stamps
Got a brand new piercing, brand new tatt, I paid 95 dollars for this weave plus tax, BOW

This parody relies solely on the exploitation on typical stereotypes of the Black woman as a welfare queen, baby mama, gold digger and violent aggressor. It was literally made to make people laugh, and is a glaringly sexist caricature of Black women as these men—and arguably the rest of our culture—see them. The techniques used to launch this parody in the mainstream include extremely exaggerated costumes, body movements and mannerisms, slang, and of course a catchy hip hop beat. It goes without saying that this video was meant to cast “ratchet” girls in a negative light, as the newly popular “ratchet girl” character is only popular when being ridiculed and laughed at.

Though people who enjoy this video possibly find it amusing because they already have deeply ingrained hatred toward Black women whether implicit or explicit, the video only strengthens those opinions. Audiences approaching the video from a complete outsiders’ perspective might come to believe that this is how all Black women are, which wouldn’t be a stretch considering a lot of other mainstream media that isn’t marketed as comedy or parody uses these same tropes and stereotypes in more inconspicuous ways. There is little to no representation of Black men in the video (besides the men playing women), which also supports the idea that Black women are against other women and doesn’t acknowledge the possible tension between genders in these situations.

Stereotypes about Black women can be traced back to several sources that combined together into forming very strong “characters” that people think of when they think “Black woman.” Black women during slavery were raped endlessly and used as sex objects that white slave owners saw as less pure than their white wives, and assumed to be primal in their sexuality because of their “jungle roots.” Additionally, capitalist economic systems that do nothing to mend generational inequalities surrounding social mobility and economic conditions stick negative stereotypes on Black women who sometimes rely on government assistance for food stamps or other benefits. If traced back, these ideas all have a concrete source that prove their falseness, however as stereotypes do, after so much perpetuation of beliefs, the ideas are more prominent than the proof at this point.

The ways in which black women are portrayed in our media outlets, whether music, movies, TV, or the Internet, are not simply coincidental. They follow in the footsteps of strong stereotypes about black people, women, and the combination of the two. This is important to consider in looking at why we find certain things entertaining, and how these portrayals directly socialize our young people to believe certain things about themselves and others around them.

 

 

 

 

Looking in the Mirror: Diva Singer

The stereotype for what it means to be a female singer is set in place with the notion of the performers being perceived often as snooty, high bow, diva-ish, and over-confident. However the stereotype may not be too far off from the reality of the situation, as vocalists are produced in a way that requires them to build confidence and poise. In this essay I hope to explore the idea that the attitude of a singer may not be such a stereotype, but why society’s exaggerated view of it is be harmful to the way we pass judgment on people.

First I would like to explore a very “mainstream” view of what opera is to the general public by analyzing the 2004 film The Phantom of the Opera. The main opera “diva”, Carlotta, is one of the most stereotypical opera divas you can find. Carlotta embodies every horn hat wearing, over-weight, and arrogant opera star that everyone associates the art with. She even has her own song dedicated to how much of a prima donna she is where the opera house owners are begging her to perform and she refuses until they start to literally sing her praises. Although she is greatly exaggerated, the idea of her unappealing attitude is not so wrong. Singers are criticized and shut down for their talent more often than not. As a performer you are trained to accept negativity and that not everyone will enjoy your voice. Therefore the confidence in themselves to continue on when they are torn down for what they do must be incredible. So the way others perceive that confidence translates to bad attitude could possibly stem from the idea of judging people based off first impressions, where people forget that others are more than one dimensional beings and that their attitudes, personalities, and personas were all formed for reasons based off what those people need to do to live their lives.

The movie Pitch Perfect gets away from opera side of singing and is more focused on the collegiate, all female a cappella group and the attitude struggles within that different genre. The character I want to focus on in this movie is the student director of the girls group named Aubrey. Starting off in the film you see her as a younger member with a lot of pressure put on her to do well in competition from the older girls, then she throws up on stage and loses the competition for them. So the next year she takes the group so seriously to be able to make up for the loss that she fully blames herself for from the previous year. Therefore, the seriousness that she portrays is taken negatively by the new members who do not know her or why she is desperate to turn them into a winning group. It was perfectly correct for the girls to be taken back by her attitude and her critiques, and for them to want her to lighten up for them to stay together, but the theme I come back to now is how people are perceived based off poor introductions and snap judgements. People see the stereotype and stick to that perception of the person without being interested in learning their struggles or worries. It took a lot of her own self reflection to come to terms with changing the way she goes about addressing and running the group, but it took her a lot of individual work to get there pretty much on her own.

To look more into the history of what it means to be a diva I looked at the article “Anti-theatricality in twentieth-century opera” by Herbert Lindenberger. He starts his paper saying “The term operatic implies the exaggeration of a theatrical stance already assumed to be exaggerated. Thus, an opera that questions the nature and value of theatricality would seem to put enormous constraints on composers and performers, not to speak of audiences eager to experience the enactment of those high emotions that they would not dare to reveal in their everyday lives.” (Lindenberger paragraph 1). It is easy to be pulled in by a character to believe that they are that person in real life. If anything that is a compliment to the artist for putting on such a convincing performance! However, when the personality of the character is less than desirable, that can result negatively on the singer. In some cases it is crazy to believe that people could be their characters in real life: for example, in the opera Salome by Richard Strauss, Salome famously confesses her love to the severed head of John the Baptist and them makes out with it on stage. However, for the vocalist to be able to play that role she needs to have a larger than life personality who is willing to take risks and that confidence often scares people. It can be interesting and somewhat bizarre to watch your friend passionately kiss a bodiless head on stage while singing with incredible volume and technique. You can view such a scene (it begins around 2:06) here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kj99qASGCiw . Lindenberger argues that despite what comes to mind when one thinks of opera, the idea of transitioning into a new age of anti-theatrical opera is not so much a blow to the art of what opera has been, but an opportunity to view the performance in a new light from what has been traditional. He says that even though the larger than life diva persona that many of the women take on is usual, it might be time to stray away from that image to evolve to a new, calmer one.

The view of a calm performer, though incredibly possible in reality, may not become the general public’s idea of vocalists anytime soon with shows like Glee that create characters like Rachel Berry, a young high schooler that starts and becomes president of the school’s glee club. Her dream is to become a broadway star and get out of Ohio to live the life of a star. Her obsessive persistence to sing solos and correct other people give her a bad name right off the bat, and she struggles to maintain friendships in a group that is often competitive in nature. There is a scene where she and another member, Mercedes, are both auditioning for a role in the school musical where the role is Rachel’s dream role as Maria, and the casting people could not decide between the two girls, so they suggested them both playing the role but on different nights. When this was suggested, Mercedes turns down the role because if she was not the only star then she will not accept it. When the people Rachel must surround herself with to prepare for her profession are hostile and are willing to risk friendships to perform, it is not a surprise that she herself must be persistent and at times, ruthless, to launch herself towards her dream. Not to mention the fact that her dream career is incredibly difficult to break into, and her obsessive attitude and competitive nature are required for her to have a shot at making it onto a stage. She is often scrutinized for her efforts and is considered an over the top overachiever, but to people that do not understand the severity of what it means to try to be a performer it is right for them to see her that way. It is not uncommon for viewers to tune in every week to see what crazy antics Rachel will get into that week or how she will deal with rejection when she if often awarded everything. There are many professions that often encourage teamwork, despite people working for their own success, but with Rachel’s dream, and many other women’s dreams, of becoming a professional singer and actress it is almost impossible to create the healthy relationships with co-workers that can sustain a friendship. Many of these people are pitted against each other and watched closely to see if they can perform a role better or worse than that other girl. When the stakes are so high it is difficult to keep friends with other people that could be the person that got your dream role because when you see them living the life you wanted and trained for for so long it is hard to be happy for them. People that do not understand that world will look at this show, see how crazily passionate a character like Rachel is, then assume they themselves are just crazy in everything they do. They often do not take the time to look deeper, and when they see someone that is a mirror image of who that television character is they just assume that they are crazy too because all performers are the same.

Although this topic may not be the most important face of “injustice” that there ever was, and is, in fact, not so very important at all, it is interesting to look into the eyes of the people that watch someone like yourself on television or in a show and automatically label you as someone you just might not be. This essay looks into the idea that media morphs people’s images of what it means to be whatever you do rather than look into who you really are. Being someone who studies voice is something that I have made into my life but I often feel suffocated when people write me off as some naive girl with an unattainable dream or that I should skip studying and just try out for American Idol already. I feel it is important to look into how and why I am being portrayed the way people of my profession are, to understand where I fit into society by what they see me as. If they see me as someone who must be difficult to work with or if they see me as someone who must have the spotlight then that puts me in a negative light. This particular topic may not be the most earth shatteringly form of stereotyping, but it is interesting to see how you are viewed through others eyes.

WORKS CITED

Lindenberger, Herbert “Anti-theatricality in twentieth-century opera” Modern Drama, University of Toronto Press 2001

Murphy, Ryan, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan. “Glee.” Glee. Fox. 19 May 2009. Television.

The Phantom of the Opera. Dir. Joel Schumacher. Warner Bros. Entertainment, 2004. Film.

Pitch Perfect. Dir. Jason Moore. Perf. Anna Kendrick. Universal, 2012. Film.

Salome. By Richard Strauss. Semperoper, Dresden, Germany. 9 Dec. 1905. Performance.

Salome Preview from San Francisco Opera. Dir. Nicola Luisotti. Youtube.com, 2009. Online.

Nice Guy…… Nah

People have all heard this saying when a guy has been placed into the magical relationship barrier known as the “friend zone”. “I’m a nice guy, why doesn’t she date me?” Being a nice means that you are genuine, sincere, and compassionate, but taken from this context, its meaning has changed into what it has become an assumed stereotype of what it means to be a “nice guy”. The perception of the “nice guy” can be viewed in two ways, one commonly assumed than the other. The meaning of the “nice guy” has become more of an insult and excuse than a complement. Popular culture and media has shaped the meaning behind the “nice guy” into a tag/title. The perception of the “nice guy” in real life and in popular media is viewed in a negatively light, causing misconceptions on what it means to be nice person and a “nice guy”

Firstly, I should talk about how the “nice guy” is viewed in popular media. Television has its own perception on the “nice guy” and the role that he plays on the television show. Teen shows like iCarly, Zoey 101, Girl Meet Worlds, and Lizzie Mcguire have their own “nice guy” and common similarities between each show. To list the basic common similarities, each of the four shows above has three main characters (Two girls and one boy), the “nice guy” is the best friend of the main character, and the “nice guy” gets the girl at the end of the series. iCarly is a Nickelodeon teen show about the lives of three best friends, Carly, Sam, and Freddie. At the beginning of the series, the viewer is introduced to Freddie who is in love with Carly. It is immediately assumed that Freddie is the “nice guy” of the show, not only because of the knowledge of his love for Carly, but his appearance and personality. The common stereotype about “nice guys” in teen shows is that the “nice guy” is nerdy, yet very caring and charming to the audience. Popular media make the “nice guy” a person that the viewer wants to get the girl in the ending. Making iconic “nice guy” characters like Chase (Zoey 101) and the Gordo (Lizzie Mcguire), the captain of teenage ships. “Ships” in popular culture refers to a person’s opinion on who two characters should be romantically linked to each other. In popular culture, the “nice guy” is viewed in a positive light, but in reality, it is a much complex situation.

A word that is one-hundred percent tied to the “nice guy” is the “friend-zone”. The “friend-zone” in popular culture refers to a platonic relationship between two people, when one person (a guy in this situation) wants to be in a romantic relationship, but the girl does not (Wiki). Most men who are put in the friend-zone are “nice guys”. Popular culture and society views this situation in two scenarios, the first scenario is when the “nice guy” does not want to ruin a relationship due to his fear of rejection, and causes pressure in himself not to express his true feelings. The second scenario is when the “nice guy” is put in the “friend-zone”, they complain and question why the girl doesn’t want to be in a romantic relationship with them. They also put blame on the female for not seeing how “great” of a guy they are and that he is everything that she would look in a guy. The second scenario is the assumption and perception of what all “nice guys” are and how they act. Both scenarios, although very different, causes very negative views and accusations of guys in real life.

I have never been placed in the “friend-zone” or put myself into a position where I would hear the dreaded words, “I like you, but not in that way.” Frankly, I don’t believe that there is a “friend-zone” but let’s just say there is. Yet, looking at my personality and my past experiences with girls, the perception that I have of myself is being a nice guy. I consider myself a nice guy in the sense that I am a very compassionate person and perceived as very charming to girls. The problem of having those personality traits is that I have a high chance of a girl complimenting me as a “nice guy”, and absolutely hate being called that. It’s not because I dislike being a nice person to others and it’s absolutely not that I don’t want to be complimented by a girl, but it’s because of my appearance. Popular culture stereotypes the “nice guy” in most situations as a male who is caring and sweet, but is average or lower in appearance. I am a “decent” looking person, and when a girl compliments me as being a “nice guy”, because of the negative perception of “nice guys”, I do not get the feeling that I compliment should have on a person. Instead, I feel ashamed of being a “nice guy” in a society that views it as someone who is selfish and only wants to be in relationships with attractive females.

One artifact that I analyzed relates to myself and portrays the “nice guy” in a positive light is a YouTube short called Just A Nice Guy (www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMSixENoid4). It was filmed and created by Wong Fu Productions in 2007, and it tells the story of the “nice guy” and his story with a close friend/love interest. In this 23 minute film, you are introduced to Nick, the “nice guy”; in the first four minutes, Nick addresses his problem of being titled a “nice guy” without being asked to one. In terms of what type of “nice guy” he is viewed as, he is the “nice guy” described in the first scenario; Nick is the nice guy who cares deeply about the girl, but hides his feelings for the girl due to him thinking he was in the friend-zone. Nick is a college student with lots of friends, but he is considered a “nice guy” instead of a popular guy. An example that is given about the difference between a nice guy and a popular guy is when a girl thinks of a “popular guy”, they are use words like cute, sweet, and handsome; when a girl thinks of a “nice guy”, they use words like adorable, sweet heart, and great friend. Although both sayings are considered compliments, the “popular guy” is more associated with a potential relationship partner, while the “nice guy” is only associated with being just their “good friend”. During the progression of the film, Nick decides to try to change his image of being the “nice guy” in an attempt to try to get the girl, Amy, who only views him as a good friend. He is convinced by his friend to try to change his behavior to how a “popular guy” would act, a jerk. His friend even uses the assumption that “girls like jerks”. Nick goes to a college party with the girl and attempt to act like an arrogant jerk to everyone including his love interest, but it backfires because everyone associates Nick as being a “nice guy”, which makes everyone to perceive his actions as being a joking manner and not taking Nick’s behavior seriously. In trying to change his image and hiding his feelings for the girl, she happens to find another guy who she is interested in. Feeling regret and sadness, he finds himself getting advice and encouragement from the girl’s best friend to tell his feelings. She even goes to tell him that the reason Amy treats Nick like the “nice guy” is because Nick treats everyone the same, in doing so, there is no way for Amy to see that Nick has feelings for her. That is when Nick realized that he put himself into the “friend-zone” due to his self-assumption of being seen as the “nice guy” that was placed in the “friend-zone”. At the end of the film, Nick goes up to Amy and expresses all his feelings to her and asking her for a change. Like every happy ending, Nick and Amy become a couple (Wong Fu Productions).

In the artifact above, it perfect addresses the problems and struggles of this version of “nice guy” in real life. The video addresses everything that is to know about society’s view about the “nice guy” in this situation. This artifact is a very accurate portrayal of my experience with this situation and other guys who have been in this situation. This is just one side of the perception on the “nice guy”, the next artifact illustrates the most common and associated view about the “nice guy” in popular culture.

The last artifact that I analyzed, that corresponds to second scenario, is another YouTube video called Nice Guy Syndrome – A Doce of Bucklet (will not post link due to use of profanity). The video explains the concept of what it means to have the “nice guy syndrome”, and the ideas that surround this topic. According to Urban Dictionary, “nice guy syndrome” is when “a heterosexual man concocts over simplified ideas why women aren’t flocking to him in droves” (Urban Dictionary). The video goes deep into the perception of a self-proclaimed nice guy, starting with the statement that “nice guys” who claim about girls not wanting them for being too nice, are not nice and are actually jerks. In popular culture, there is this belief that because girls claim that they are looking for a nice guy, and because you think and say that you are a nice guy, that means you will be in a relationship with the girl. The video talks about the meaning and misconceptions of what girls want when they say, “I want a nice guy”. Most guys who hear this, believe that if they act nice to the girl who said it, the girl would eventually fall for the guy’s act of kindness. When the girl is not romantically interested, the “nice guy” assume that the girl is only interested in attractive jerks. They make excuses to why the girl doesn’t want to be in a relationship with them, and improves their own self-esteem by claiming themselves to be “nice guy” (“Nice Guy Syndrome – A Doce of Buckley”). Also, “nice guys” in this situation aren’t really trying to be the girl’s friend, because in an article, The Problem With Nice Guys, “that also addresses the “nice guy” syndrome and explains the concept of the “nice guy”. “A true friend doesn’t make his relationship with a person conditional to the idea that someday – maybe not today, but someday soon – that person is obligated to fall in love (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) with him” (Dr. Nerdlove).  In reality, they are hypocrites and actually jerks.

Here is what lies the problem. In popular culture, most people associate a “nice guy” with “nice guy syndrome”. If you were to type in “nice guy” in a Google search, the first page is all about the “nice guy syndrome” or viewing “nice guys” in a negative way. In today’s society, being called a “nice guy” is no longer a complement; some people like myself, feel disgusted because of the view that “nice guys” have “nice guy syndromes”. The “nice guy” is viewed negatively than it is from the Youtube short Just A Nice Guy. Another article called Nice Guys Are Often Losers, views nice guys to be hideously insecure and desperate for the girl (heartlessb*tchesinternational). The problem is that the article is addressing all “nice guys” and nowhere in the article does it refer to “nice guy syndrome”. There needs to be a difference between the “nice guy” and “nice gut syndrome” because you are not a nice guy if you have nice guy syndrome.

Popular culture has created a negative perception of what it means to be a “nice guy”, also causing a bad reputation to the meaning of the words. The point is, people in this day and age will think very negatively about a genuinely nice person and will stereotype the person to have the “nice guy syndrome” or think lowly of him. I hope personally, that someday, the association between a “nice guy” and the “nice guy syndrome” is no more. There really shouldn’t be a reason to use the words “nice guy syndrome”, just use the word arrogant, selfish, and JERK. I’m not a nice guy, I’m just a decent guy who is nice to people. Here’s a little video for anyone’s amusement.

Words Cited

A Duce of Buckery. “Nice Guy Syndrome – A Dose of Buckley.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d.               Web. 09 Mar. 2015.                                                                               <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-3cu46Dcvw&gt;

Dr. NerdLove. “The Problem With “Nice Guys”” Paging Dr NerdLove. N.p., 17 Dec. 2012. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.

HBI. “Why “Nice Guys” Are Often Such LOSERS.” HeartlessB**ches. N.p., n.d. Web. 09            Mar. 2015.

“ICarly.” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.
Urban Dictionary. “Nice+Guy+Syndrome.” Urban Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2015

Wiki. “Friend Zone.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.

Wong Fu Productions. “Just A Nice Guy (2007) – Re-Release.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d.              Web. 09 Mar. 2015.                                                           <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMSixENoid4&gt;

Mind if I Watch?

Featured

Gabrielle Meik
Queer Women in Entertainment Media
3/8/15

The sexualization of LBPQ (lesbian, bi, pansexual/polysexual, and queer) women in the media is both rampant and incredibly harmful. This phenomena is rooted in the same ideas that cause the sexualization and objectification of all women: that our bodies and our sexuality are not ours, but exist for the consumption or entertainment of men. Queerness removes the exclusive focus of women’s sexual attraction from men, either excluding them altogether or expanding to include people of other genders. This anomaly is sought to be rectified by positioning queer women’s sexuality as a heterosexual male fantasy or a show performed for their entertainment.
While the representation of LBPQ women and girls in movies and television is rapidly growing, there is much left to be desired. Minority representation in mainstream media is vitally important to those who are being represented. Not seeing images of yourself reflected in the media you consume can cause feelings of isolation and low self esteem, and the main goal of viewers and activists pushing to increase the media’s representation of minorities is to curb these negative impacts on the mental health of minority viewers. Regardless, even with the increasing number of media portrayals of LBPQ women, many of these characters were written without a queer female audience in mind. The impact that this difference in target audience has on the content itself is very noticeable.
This phenomena can be analyzed by comparing three different media artifacts, all featuring LBPQ women, but approached from vastly different angles and targeting different audiences.
The sexualization of LBPQ women characters is most noticeable in primetime network television. These shows target a very wide and mainstream audience and in general stray from topics that could be seen as overtly political or revolutionary, adhering to social standards fairly strictly in order to avoid causing offense or controversy.
A good example of this is a fifth season episode of the long-running TV medical drama House entitled Lucky Thirteen, written by Sara Hess and Liz Friedman. The episode focuses on curing a female patient with whom Dr. “Thirteen” Hadley, Dr. House’s employee, had a one night stand.  The episode’s opening scene  depicts the women kissing passionately and undressing each other, mostly relying on disembodied shots of their midriffs, legs, breasts, and mouths: this strategy of visually cutting women’s bodies into small pieces is a classic hallmark of objectification.

Many comments about the attractiveness of both women are made by male characters throughout this episode, and in Dr. Hadley’s case, throughout her whole run on the show. Dr. House shows interest in this patient specifically because she slept with Dr. Hadley, and at one point in the episode interrupts a medical examination to sexually harass the patient, asker her invasive and inappropriate questions about having sex with Dr. Hadley. Dr. House asks the patient questions such as “you had sex and then a seizure, it could be a particular activity or position that set it off,” asking if the lights were on, and requesting that she rate the sexual experience on a scale from one to ten. While Dr. House is not generally portrayed as a likable character and this behavior is clearly sexual harassment, the patient responds by calmly answering all of his questions. This scene seeks to normalize this behavior, both through comic relief and the fact that the patient did not react with offense or anger.
In addition, this episode, as well as the rest of Dr. Hadley’s character arc and romantic history, insinuate that her attraction to women is purely sexual. Dr. Hadley’s promiscuous sex with female strangers coincides with drug abuse and her struggle to cope with her diagnosis of a terminal illness to position her sexuality as reckless and exclusively physical, devoid of human connection or personal meaning. Throughout the show, Dr. Hadley fosters romantic relationships with men, but never with women. The stereotype that same-gender relationships are inherently and exclusively sexual is a very harmful one that contributes to this pattern of objectification.
While this episode is an example of the sexualization of women in television made to appeal to a broad and mainstream audience and whose survival depends largely on ratings, Jenji Kohan’s Netflix Original Series Orange is the New Black does exactly the opposite. Because of its subscription-based nature, Netflix’s profit is only subtly and indirectly influenced by the success and popularity of Orange is the New Black. The fact that liking or disliking this particular show is more than likely not going to be the difference between someone canceling or renewing their Netflix subscription allows its creators––Jenji Kohan, Lauren Morelli, Sara Hess, Sian Hedder, Tara Herrmann, and Nick Jones––to generate content without worrying about appealing to a massive and mainstream audience.
Throughout the series, Orange is the new Black depicts graphic sex scenes between women characters on a regular basis. Despite the nature of these scenes, the way they are handled is distinctly authentic and realistic. Sexual situations between the women of Litchfield are often awkward or funny. Characters will have honest, candid conversations during sex and be depicted in positions or situations that are by no means designed to be appealing or exciting.

Warning: NSFW video

In addition to this approach to the act of sex itself, the LBPQ women featured in the show also deviate from the widely accepted standards for sexual appeal. These women vary greatly in terms of body type, race, and age, and few of them would be considered conventionally attractive in light of social standards which savagely deny the beauty of women of size and color. Hair, makeup, and wardrobe decisions made during filming were also made, quite obviously, without either aesthetic or sexual value in mind. Characters are shown wearing almost exclusively shapeless and loose-fitting prison khakis. The women of Litchfield who choose to wear whatever cosmetic products they can purchase from the commissary are obviously doing it for their own personal enjoyment, as the environment itself does not place value on appearance.
This unapologetically honest approach to LBPQ women’s sexuality is part of what makes Orange is the New Black so provocative and controversial. While these decisions were made with the freedom provided by using Netflix as a broadcasting platform in mind, they did not seem to compromise the show’s popularity or critical reception. The series received no less than 12 Emmy nominations, and is rated at 8.5/10 on IMDb and 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.
On the other end of the ratings spectrum is Jamie Babbit’s satirical romcom But I’m a Cheerleader, which was a flop at the box office and a ratings disaster: the movie was given an unimpressive 34% by Rotten Tomatoes users.  But I’m a Cheerleader takes place at a residential inpatient conversion therapy facility. The main cast consists of queer teenagers sent to the camp by homophobic parents. This setting is automatically overtly political, and concepts explored in the film––such as prejudice and the innateness of gender and sexuality––are heavily controversial, which serves to alienate a substantial demographic of a mainstream audience. Despite its critical reception, But I’m a Cheerleader is widely regarded as a popular cult classic among LGBQ+ audiences.


The combination of these factors allows us to infer that this film was written with a queer youth target audience in mind. Tyler Coates describes But I’m a Cheerleader as “a movie for queer people, about queer people, by queer people.” Because of this, the sexualities of leading characters Graham and Megan are approached from a distinctly queer perspective. Not only does the portrayal of these characters not cater to the heterosexual male gaze, but they are distinctly parodied within the film. Romantic interactions between female characters are emphasized and generally appear sweet and chaste, distinctly sexual interactions do not happen, and the topic of sexuality itself is approached from an almost exclusively comedic standpoint.
In analyzing these three pop culture artifacts, it appears that the root of the sexualization of queer women in entertainment media is the intention to receive positive ratings. This also accounts for women creators generating content that objectifies and sexualizes their women characters. In the current social climate, women’s sexuality is only uncontroversial when men are the focal point, and writers will keep this in mind on the quest for good ratings. A wide viewership and positive critical reception are necessary for the continued production and broadcasting of a television series and lack of box office revenue for feature films is a recipe for financial disaster. This phenomena reflects broadly on the general social ideas surrounding women’s sexuality. The compulsion to center queer women’s sexuality exclusively around men is not only degrading and dehumanizing on a personal level but contribute to acts of violence such as corrective rape. While the portrayal of LBPQ women in movies and television is not the root of the problem, the relationship between popular culture and the social status quo is such that the media will reflect societal attitudes as well as influence the way that we think.

Works Cited

Hess, Sara, and Liz Friedman. “Lucky Thirteen.” House. Fox. KPTV, Portland, Oregon, 21 Oct. 2008. Television.

Kohan, Jenji, Lauren Morelli, Sara Hess, Sian Hedder, Tara Herrmann, and Nick Jones. Orange Is the New Black. 11 July 2013. Netflix. Web. 8 Mar. 2015.

But I’m a Cheerleader. Dir. Jamie Babbit. Screenplay by Brian Wayne Peterson. Perf. Natasha Lyonne and Clea DuVall. Lionsgate, 1999. DVD.

Coates, Tyler. “Was It Good For The Gays: ‘But I’m A Cheerleader'” Decider. N.p., 4 Mar. 2015. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.

Higgins, Marissa. “The Problem With the Sexualization of Lesbians.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 06 Apr. 2013. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.

Josephs, Anya. “The Sexualization of Queer Women in Media | SPARK Movement.” SPARK Movement RSS. Sparksummit, 29 Nov. 2012. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.

Matthews, Cate. “Here’s Why ‘Orange Is The New Black’ Sex Scenes Are So Believable (NSFW).” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 19 Sept. 2014. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.

Looking into the Mirror: The Cheerleader

When we think of a cheerleader in today’s society, we often resort to a representation that has been depicted throughout time. The idea of a cheerleader being the highly feminized, ditzy, or pseudo-athletic picture is what I believe comes to many minds in America today. Throughout many decades, cheerleading and cheerleaders have always been thought to have been the “supporters” in athletic events and the sport didn’t require any true athletes or athletic ability. The stereotypes of cheerleading and females who participate in the sport leave the lingering question as to where these ideals originated from. At cheerleading’s inception, it was known to most that the world of cheerleading revolved around the obligation to “support the boys”. According to Moritz (2011), this is an idea that in reality is dramatically changing. The ideas and depictions in popular culture media are harmful to the progression and legitimacy of a sport that in contrast to popular belief brings more than just a pastime to many young women and today even men.

Moritz (2011) describes in her article the new-found world of competitive cheerleading. This is the world where cheerleading has left the sideline and is now the main event. These competitions are composed of teams competing in athletic and physically challenging competitions with rivalry teams across an entire nation. In other sports such as basketball and soccer, when someone hears the term “all-star”, it is often to refer to a person who is above and beyond the average athlete. In cheerleading this terms holds the same connotations. However, An exception to this is that this is how the whole sport of competitive cheerleading is classified. In this YouTube mini documentary from Courtney Latterner, I am hoping to give many of you a view through the looking glass at the world of competitive cheerleading:

In popular culture media today including, movies, television shows, and online platforms, many audiences are retrieving these ideas and depictions of what cheerleading is as well as whom cheerleaders are as a community. If I were to ask you as an audience to compile a list of attributes you feel a cheerleader or the sport in its entirety possess, I could predict which attributes you would choose. For example, I believe many would say these adjectives: ditzy; stuck up; overly feminine, and perhaps even not athletic. This opens the question as to why do many correlate these adjectives with cheerleading and the individuals who participate in the activity? When looking at popular culture media, many are not a stranger to understand what a cheerleader is. With so many artifacts using cheerleaders in their stories we begin to see an underlying connection between many artifacts we begin to question the accuracy and legitimacy of these assumptions and attributes.

When examining many artifacts I start with a classic interpretation of cheerleaders in movies. In the movie “Fired up!” (2009) many cheerleaders are being highly emphasized by their sexual manner and how they are being perceived by those around them. Following, I have a clip from the movie when the two male protagonists arrive at cheerleading camp for the first time:

(Source: on YouTube: Xpolakx).

When looking at this clip, I begin to look at what the cheerleaders are doing in the scene through a personal lens (I, a former cheerleader), to also looking at how it is meant to be perceived by an outside audience. To an outside audience, the scene is meant to have a very sexual connotation, and reinforce the stereotype where cheerleaders are highly sexualized individuals who hold a reputation for showing of their bodies. This is supported by the music that was shown in the scene, “Bananza (Belly Dancer)” by Akon. This song is one that is highly sexual including lyrics such as “shake your body like a belly dancer”. This is contributing to the scene being sexual due to my viewing of the scene without the music. Although the movements of the bodies remain the same, the physical act of stretching before a physical activity is not a sexual act regardless of the motions used to perform the stretches.

Another example of the media portraying cheerleaders as being highly sexualized is from the CW television show, “One Tree Hill”. In this scene, we see a “catty” argument between two captains of rival teams:

(Source on YouTube: TheLk49).

In this scene the two captains resort to using sexual jokes to insult each other. In my opinion, this is contributing to the negative stereotyping and reputations of cheerleaders based on this repeated representation in popular culture.

Another popular stereotype I want to draw attention to is a clip from “One Tree Hill”, where the cheerleaders in the scene are in full make-up. This is interesting to analyze based on the way that cheerleading is perceived by the general public as being a feminine sport. In theory, there is nothing wrong with this interpretation of the sport; however, it lingers a certain connotation in the perception of the athletic ability of an individual. I first want to make a distinction between the portrayals of practice vs. sport. In my opinion these portrayals of cheerleaders in full make up and glam to practice is a very negative stereotype. When most think of sports I believe most do not expect to have make up on due to the high cardio regimen and the likelihood of high perspiration. Why would we bother with make up? In my opinion, depicting these cheerleaders in full make up during a practice is holding the underlying assumption that cheerleaders are not true athletes; therefore, can wear make-up when practicing their “sport” because they wouldn’t sweat.

In contrast to this is the fact that in reality, cheerleaders do wear full make-up when preforming their sport. Notice the distinction between practicing and preforming. Cheerleading is a unique sport because the sport judges it’s athlete on the way they present themselves. It is a feminine sport. But since when did feminine equate to non-athleticism? Mortiz points out an interesting fact about how regardless of femininity, the look is not evident of the athleticism the sport involves. “The femininity aspect- the short skirts, make up, hair and other adornments- were viewed as part of the showmanship of the competition” (Moritz, 2011, pg.668). I want to draw special attention to the key word in this, Showmanship. Competitive cheerleading is a performance based sport where cheerleaders are preforming a 2:30 second routine comprised of stunting, tumbling, jumping, and dance. Participating in this level of athletic ability with a smile on your face and a bow high in your hair is how I would define athleticism and showmanship.

I lastly want to draw attention to one last strong stereotype I often witness in the popular culture media. This in my opinion is one of the most damaging stereotypes to cheerleaders, this is the stereotype of cheerleaders being stuck up and rude. I feel this is severely damaging because it discourages outsiders from joining the sport, it causes outsiders to judge the sport and it’s athletes harshly, and results people to distance themselves from the individuals who are associated with the sport. There are many representations of this in popular culture; however I want to draw particular attention to a particular franchise of movies: “Bring it on”. This is a set of movies I am sure many associate their perceptions and stereotypes of cheerleaders they hold. In these movies one of the most loved by viewers is the portrayal of drama. Here are a few scenes from different “Bring it on” movies that have represented the common attitudes associated with cheerleaders:

(watch until :35) (Source on YouTube: MOVIECLIPS).

(watch from 7:50) (source on YouTube: Kaitlin Cameron).

These are both representations of cheerleaders being explicitly cruel to one another in ways that are un-imaginable. This is just in one movie franchise alone. If we begin to examine other movies and television shows; more often than not, this is a pattern we see through many different depictions of cheerleaders based on the conclusion that audiences love drama. In reality, cheerleaders can be catty, as much as any other group of girls being put together. It is often a stereotype that goes alongside with being a female; however this stereotype being solely attributed to cheerleaders is highly inaccurate. From the study conducted by Moritz, she spoke to many real cheerleaders who explain, “In cheerleading, we do have the highest injury rate. We’re way higher than football and you do trust your teammates with your life.” (Moritz, 664). With injury rates and the level of trust that is needed between teammates, having high amounts of cattiness and disrespect among cheerleaders is extremely detrimental and almost impossible to have in reality.

Overall, the negative stereotypes that are being portrayed in popular culture media in today’s society are negatively affecting the way cheerleaders and the sport is being portrayed by outsiders in reality. With a sport and athletic community that over the years has been making strides towards breaking these assumptions, it is crucial to move into the era of change. The media and society need to move past the stereotypes and present the sport in ways that are accurately representing the athletes and individuals associated with the sport. They need to show cheerleading and performing as a positive experience young women and even now men can experience, and understand the benefits of participating in this sport without negative judgment and assumptions.

Bibliography

Clark, D. (Director). (2004). Spirit in the Night (One Tree Hill) [Motion Picture]. Gluck, W. (Director). (2009). Fired Up! [Motion Picture]. Latterner, C. (2013, May 16). All Star Cheerleading: The Addiction. Mortiz, A. (2011). Cheerleading: not just for the sidelines. Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce,, 660-669. Rash, S. (Director). (2006). Bring it on: All or Nothing [Motion Picture]. Reed, P. (Director). (2000). Bring it on [Motion Picture].

Crazy Cat Ladies Unite

Crazy Cat Ladies

Hayley Merrick

Popular Culture


Many movies, television shows, and different sources of medias have stereotypes that they like to play with over and over again. One of them that has always appeared but has made a comeback recently is that cat lady character. You know, the one that lives with 20 cats, is single, and the weird character? These cat ladies are everywhere; movie, tv, tumblr, any media source you can think of. But why are they always known as the lady who ends up single and is always really weird? As a cat lady myself, it’s hard to think that I will end up alone one day, just because I really like cats. By looking at Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and myself, I will analyze the cat lady and remind our world that it is a good thing to be a cat lady!


Taylor Swift, one of the most famous people in this day and age. She sings songs, lives a glamorous life, and dates men. She is known for having quite the dating life, dating everyone from John Mayer to Harry Styles. But when she said that she was going to take sometime for herself, and focus on her music, people started calling her a “emotionally, unstable cat lady”.

taylor-swift-diet-coke

Why the need for calling her a cat lady?


Some people find is unusual that she brings her cat with her places, because traditionally cats stay at home during the day. But do we find is weird when people bring their dogs with them to stores and places? We don’t, and the fact that people are calling her a cat lady because of it is ridiculous.

Katy Perry is another pop star that has used the term cat lady to her advantage, since people were calling her that anyways. The star, who has multiple cats and one of them is named Kitty Purry, shares her love of cats, and wears it too! She has worn many outfits during her shows that are inspired by cats and even has her mascot as a giant purple cat. She has even taken her cat on tour with her before.


But why is being a cat lady such a bad thing afterall? Katy is looked at as weird and crazy. Her love of cats is used a way to call her such things. Even though she has a strong love of animals, I hardly think it is fair to call her a crazy cat lady!


When googling cat ladies, I found an interesting occurrence. When I put in “Katy Perry Cat Lady”, it came up with many articles like The Coolest Celebrity Cat Ladies and Famous Cat Ladies. But when I searched Taylor Swift Cat Lady, the ones that popped up were much more negative, like “Abigail Disses Taylor: She’s Unstable or Taylor Swift Becomes Crazy Cat Lady. I find it interesting that even in the cat lady world, there are different degrees of cat lady and apparently some are more socially acceptable than others.


I have a hard time calling myself a cat lady, just because I have a strong love of cats doesn’t make me crazy. I have always loved the felines, ever since I can remember. In 5th grade, I remember being told I was weird for liking cats, because dogs are so much better. I have always loves the companionship of cats (mines is laying across my keyboard right now) and their purring is so soothing to me. My friends always call me a cat lady. I admittedly stay home with my cat some nights instead of going out, but why is that weird? All of my single friends say to me: Lets just be crazy cat ladies together, shall we? But I want a family, a husband and kids, and I want cats. Why can’t we synchronize the two options. Why must the cat lady always be single?


When an E Harmony video went viral on the internet and people watched this lady start to cry about cats, people started identifying the crazy cat lady as the one who is not emotionally stable. This video, which is a fake one, shows a lady start to cry after thinking about how much she loves cats. This love of cats overwhelms her and she looses focus of internet dating and switches to cats. This video is the pinnacle of how people view crazy cat ladies; as emotionally unavailable women who start to cry about their cats because they love them so much. Society takes this video as a way to show how not to be; no one wants to be home alone crying instead of on a date.


Part of the problem that we have with the cat lady stereotype is that we look at strong, independent women who chose to have a career as weird. These women should be praised instead of belittled. So what I’ve got a cat at home but not a boyfriend? Ain’t nobody got time for a boyfriend, I say. We need to lift this weird expectation that women need to have a husband to be normal when that isn’t true.


Another thing society needs to take a look at is how we compare dog ownership to cat ownership. People who own dogs are known as outgoing, fun, loving people. While instead, people who cats are known as quiet, inbred people. Why is there a difference in which pet you own? It just doesn’t make sense to me why we can’t have a fun person who owns a cat or a quiet person who owns a dog.


While society sees us cat ladies as the outsiders who need to get a life, I would say we are the ones who just love a little too much and can’t get enough of the furry felines. Cats are a great companion, especially people who don’t necessarily have time to take care of a more active animal, like a dog. As media likes to put out that cat ladies are crazy and like to hoard cats, I would rather see us portrayed as normal animal lovers who just really like cats! It’s okay to have an intense love for football, or tacos, but why should loving cats be any different?

Citations

“Did Abigail Breslin Call Taylor Swift A ‘Nightmare’ ‘Cat Lady’?” News. Web. 3 Mar. 2015. <http://www.mtv.com/news/2023879/abigail-breslin-taylor-swift-cat-lady/>.


“Crazy Cat Lady.” Urban Dictionary. Web. 4 Mar. 2015. <http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=crazy cat lady>.


“EHarmony Video Bio.” YouTube. YouTube. Web. 5 Mar. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTTwcCVajAc>.


“Famous Cat Ladies: Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, and Kim Kardashian.” Yahoo Celebrity. Web. 2 Mar. 2015. <https://celebrity.yahoo.com/blogs/now/famous-cat-ladies-katy-perry-taylor-swift-kim-162037007.html&gt;.