I love to play video games. It’s something that lets me forget about the stresses of life and interact with friends, wherever they may be. I play enough video games to consider myself a bit of a gamer and noticed that popular culture tends to portray gamers as violent because of a supposed link between video game violence and gamers. However, the connection between violent video games and violence has yet to be fully proved.
Law & Order, there is none in Gaming
In early 2015, an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit portrayed white male gamers as terrorists against the diversification of the video game community. To set the scene of the episode, two white males walk up to a female booth host at an FPS gaming event. Later, they attack her when she walks into the empty bathroom.
A female game developer, Raina, is kidnapped, beaten, and raped by three white males in the name of anti-female gamers. The episode shows the three kidnappers sexually abusing Raina and streaming videos of the abuse over the dark web. The first stream shows Raina being tied up, withgreen text that says “Game on NYPD”.
The next video shows one of the kidnappers ripping open Raina’s blouse and slapping her across the face. At the end of the video, text fades in that reads “level completed”.
The next stream ends with Raina being thrown onto a pile of pillows with the three kidnappers taking off their clothes around her. It is implied that the stream continues as they rape her.
In the end, Raina was rescued. She left the game industry saying “women in gaming… What did I expect?” (Law & Order).
H3H3Produces an Analysis
The episode got a lot of backlash from people saying how unrealistic the episode is. They felt the writers of the show took the recent gamergate issues and blew them out of proportion. Four people of the gamergate group threatened three females involved in the gaming industry. While the threats were illegal and horrific, the three victims of gamergate were never harmed the way Law & Order portrayed. Below is a satirical review of it, by H3H3Productions.
I must note, the man in the video – Ethan Klein – is acting more upset than he really is. That’s his format; he tries to discredit the plot of the episode while acting as outrageous as possible. However, Ethan does point out the wild assumption that gamers are violent.
In the video, Ethan says the episode “berates and belittles” the gaming community. Soon after, he points out the cinematic psychological effect of putting flashes of chanting/cheering and a sexual assault together. This connecting of scenes can cause a connection in the audience’s minds. Flashes of white men cheering and white men attacking a woman who is part of the game industry can cause the audience to connect the idea that white men enjoy the assault of female gamers.
Ethan watches a scene where the woman who was attacked is telling the detective that the assailants were pasty white and skinny. The detective then says that the description fits “80% of the crowd.” This sets in the portrayal of gamers being white male. However, violent gamers are not always locked into while males. The reason Law & Order used white males in their episode is because the demographic of the broad video game community is mostly white male.
Bernie, Hillary, & Donald
Political figures have a loud presence. They speak about popular issues, and what their opinions are. They tell us they can make our lives better. They rally the masses to support them and their ideals. Political figures have been able to get everyone to believe that video game violence causes violent people. The following video is from a YouTube channel called NerdAlert. The host, Kim Horcher, discusses the views of the top three runners from the 2016 presidential race.
The most popular government figures of 2016 see violent video games as influential to people. Hillary Clinton made “five major proposals” to make buying video games more difficult (NerdAlert). Most of what she wanted to do was to ensure the current laws on age-ratings were being upheld. Nothing wrong with that. But then she went on to say, “’we need to treat violent video games the way we treat tobacco, alcohol, and pornography’” (NerdAlert). That feel pretty extreme to me. Bernie Sanders mentioned video games with television and movies in saying that they desensitize people, specifically to death and killing. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted “Video game violence and glorification must be stopped – it is creating monsters!” (NerdAlert). These three all believe violent video games can cause violence in gamers. They, being a part of popular culture, encourage and support the portrayal of violent gamers even though the research says that video game violence does not cause people to act violently.
Violent Gamers, it’s just Science
A TIME Health post, written by Alexandra Sifferlin, summarizes research that answers the question: Are violent video games linked to aggressive behaviors in players? According to the TIME article, the research says “that playing violent games is linked to aggression, but that there’s insufficient evidence to link the games to actual criminal violence” (Sifferlin). So it seems that research from 2003 to 2015 has concluded that young adult gamers are more aggressive than those that don’t play video games but they are not more violent.
Here is a video from 2014 discussing the popular controversy in the news on the correlation between video games and violence:
The video, published by YouTube channel Health Triage, mentioned how there have been more news coverage and articles on research that linked video game violence to violent players than research that did not link video game violence to violent players. This doesn’t mean there are more studies that determined violent video games cause real life violence. It just means that they were discussed more over popular media, making them more popular in our culture. The popularity causes more people to see a gamer as violent.
The host specifically covered research conducted by Dr. Chris Ferguson. He “studied 103 young adults” that were randomly split up into four test groups; (1) could not play any video games, (2) could only play a nonviolent video game, (3) could only play a violent video game where they played as a “good guy”, and (4) could only play a violent game where they played as a “bad guy”. Then, the young adults had to do “frustration tests… they had to engage in some activity which would make it more likely that they would get frustrated and perhaps aggressive. And [Dr. Ferguson’s] study shows no link between video games and aggression” (Healthcare Triage). Dr. Ferguson also wrote that the test subjects that had previously played video games had “fewer hostile feelings” during the frustration tests (Healthcare Triage). What is interesting to note, is that Ferguson’s research showed the people who have played video games over time were harder to enrage or frustrate than those who recently began playing video games. In all of the studies that Health Triage analyzed, there was no data that adequately proves video game violence causes gamers to be violent.
A survey that the host talked about covered the studies that gathered data on the test subjects’ thoughts after playing violent video games. The studies could only gather thoughts that lasted “4 to 30 minutes.” Out of the thirty or so surveys conducted, only twelve gathered data over extended periods of time. Of those twelve, only one could prove a connection between violent video games and violent tendencies. The rest either didn’t have “any data on family relationships or mental well-being” or they concluded that the family relationships or mental well-being played a larger factor in the violent tendencies than video games (Healthcare Triage). By not gathering data about each test subject’s family relationships or mental well-being, the correlation is not valid because there could be underlying reasons why the subjects were easily angered.
So we hear gamers are violent. It’s on television. It’s in the news. It’s in our government. Popular culture has done a great job at portraying gamers as violent people. Yet, research says otherwise (well, research that holds credible statistics). I know I am not a violent person. I play video games, especially now that I got my hands on a Nintendo Switch and spring break is upon me, and I have yet to see myself (or my gamer friends) become more violent as they continue to play violent games. I have no doubt that I will not become a crazed man and start swinging swords or stealing cars or ram into things and drive up the side of a mountain, because violent video games do not make violent gamers.
The Hijab has evolved from symbol of oppression to fashion statement to those who don’t understand what the the veil (Hijab) symbolizes. In Islam, Hijab is a symbol of piety and obedience to one’s lord. Since the age of Orientalism when veiled women were portrayed as exotic and a subject of fantasies to now an age where the hijab is a symbol of empowerment and women reclaiming their body image from men and from being objectified. (The Muslim Veil in America) As I was conducting research to further prove this point I noticed that in the artifacts I have chosen that depict veiled Muslim women in popular culture (popular blog, new show, and a prominent magazine) as empowered and show the hijab in a positive light. The 3 different artifacts depict 2 real women and 2 fictional characters succeeding in all spheres of life from education, career, and the fashion.
The second artifact I have chosen is a fictional character as opposed to the Individual World Poetry Slam champion and the first veiled Muslim model for the H&M campaign. All the artifacts I have chosen show Muslim women who wear the veil in a positive light. The women are empowered, strong, and educated. This recurring pattern is giving me hope that our society is becoming more accepting and knowledgeable. When I see one of my most important identities portrayed in the media in a such a way I feel proud to be an American. The media is the greatest challenge that Muslims face in their day-to-day lives because most media coverage concerning Muslims is slanted, portrays Muslims as being hostile, and implies negative tensions between Christians and Muslims. Much of this information is propagated by Islamophobes who either don’t know anything about Islam or have an agenda of their own. (Smearcasting: How Islamophobes Spread Fear, Bigotry, and Misinformation)
In the article that we read in class The Urgency of Visual Media Literacy in Our Post-9/11 world: Reading Images of Muslim Women in the Print News Media, it was interesting how she introduced Edward Said’s Orientalism to teacher candidates so she could familiarize them with the concept of “othering”. Orientalism has several different but interrelated meanings. Generally, the word Orientalism describes the way the West understands the Orient in context to Western experiences. While Western scholars, Orientalist, attempt to form a collective body of knowledge of an entire half of the Globe, including Eastern philosophy, history, religion, culture language, and social structure, an entire half of the globe is generalized and categorized. But the political connotation of Orientalism was a political vision of reality whose structure promoted the differences between the familiar (west) and the strange (the east). This idea of the minority being viewed as the other is not a new concept.
As a minority population in America, Muslims women face many challenges and difficulties. Some of these challenges can be overcome easily and others require a bit more effort and struggle. They are faced with discrimination and prejudice. They also have trouble assimilating into the current Western culture. It’s even more difficult for them when the people who are the majority are trying to keep them from integrating and assimilating with them because of ignorance and miscommunication. The media is the greatest challenge that Muslim women face in their day-to-day lives because most media coverage concerning Muslim women is slanted, portrays them as oppressed, subjugated, and victimized. Much of this information is propagated by people who don’t understand what veil signifies. I know firsthand what it’s like to be categorized, stereotyped, and discriminated against because I too wear the veil. As a Muslim women I am constantly and cautiously aware of how I carry myself and how present myself. For many people I maybe the first veiled Muslim Women they come into contact with in an academic or professional setting. And whether or not I like it they will, consciously or subconsciously, use me as an example of what a Muslim Woman is like. (Smearcasting: How Islamophobes Spread Fear, Bigotry, and Misinformation)
I found the original article on buzzfeed through FB. It describes the events that went down on the grounds of Yale university. However, the article was written by a community user so I wanted to make sure that the information was factual. I looked up the information and found the same information on a more credible site. The article was written to recognize Emi Mahmoud for her award. The target audience of Buzzfeed is millennials, tech savvy, global, and cosmopolitan, an increasingly more tolerant and open minded generation.
At the Annual Eid celebration, Emi Mahmoud Neo-Priestess is recognized as the Individual World Poetry Slam champion of 2015. The title of the article, Muslim Girl breaks the internet. The last time the internet was broken, thanks to Kim K, it was due to her almost nude body covered in oil, alcohol, and a tasteless black garbage bag. Now the internet is “broken” because… an empowered Muslim women wins a global award while wearing the hijab and getting an education at Yale. Fans worldwide reply with adulations of “SLAY” and “this is so lit”. What I found very interesting was that almost all captions that went along with the pictures from the event made some reference to pop culture. The setting; hogwarts, the girls poses; Solange inspired, their ootds and makeup; Flawless (Beyonce), and the title; Kim K. I never expected Muslim women who have reached acclaim to be compared to other “notable” women from the Knowles sisters to the more notorious Kardashian, classy or not. Why does their presence need to be compared to these other women in order to be recognized as influential or distinguished? By comparing Emi to these women, the connotation is that we cannot see or understand her success without comparing her to other popular figures in our “culture”. In a way it’s demeaning as well because her success cannot stand alone without that comparison.
The piece definitely showed veiled Muslim women in a positive light.The article used the title to grab the audience’s attention. Muslim girl breaks the internet. The last time the internet was broken by Kim Ks almost nudes. However, the reader quickly realizes that this blog post is very different. Veiled Muslim women can take the stage and do awe inspiring things
The writer of the piece on Buzzfeed thought that Emi was a “Queen’ who “Slay[ed]”. In current popular culture to be described as a Queen who as slaying (doing exceptionally well) and then to have your art described as “lit” (amazing; turnt), is the highest adulation you can receive.
As a Sudanese American attending an Ivy League, Emi has probably overcome a lot of discrimination and challenges to get to where she is today. Some people might say that the only reason she got accepted to Yale or won the award is because of affirmative action. As a survivor who endured so much, escaped Darfur with her family and who is trying to achieve her goals and fulfil her grandmother’s dreams, I see her as a role model and someone who I want to aspire to be like. When you read her story regardless of whether or not you identify with her you should feel inspired as I do. Even though the odds were stacked against her, she came out on top, a victorious Queen.
Here is one of Emi’s more recent pieces:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaWw6-3GrcU
The ABC drama Quantico, premiered this fall. According to Variety, Quantico ratings are climbing especially for a show that runs on Sundays at 10. An arresting drama set at an FBI training school, with diverse characters. ABC networks writer/executive producer Josh Safran for Quantico says that the writing staff is very diverse even including a Palestinian Muslim. He wants to start conversations in America’s living rooms.
What makes this show so enthralling? The demographically diverse characters? The depth of characters who ask questions that are necessary for our nation to move forward and develop? The most interesting character (in my opinion), Nimah Amin, is a Muslim woman who wears the hijab and has an accent. Later in the show it is revealed that she actually has a twin and the both of them are there as one student for an experiment run by the deputy director, a black woman who is also the highest ranking women in the FBI. “Nimah” is bold, brazen, and sometimes brash. A far cry from the stereotype of the demure, subservient victim that is often portrayed by Hollywood. She makes her opinions known, and makes sure everyone knows that she doesn’t especially care about their opinions of her. She’s there to become an agent because “she” is gracious for the opportunity that America has given her.
From the very start the audience knows that the show is about finding the identity of the person responsible for the largest terrorist attack against New York since 9/11. Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) the “protagonist” and a brown girl as well is framed for the attack. It later become obvious that the terrorist is one of the FBI’s students. As the episodes go along and more information surfaces, certain clues make some of the students look guilty. The blonde debutante heir to a fortune who is becoming an agent to avenge her parents death in 9/11; the “gay” Jew, former CPA, former IDF soldier who lived in Palestine who wears fake glasses; the resident golden boy blonde and privileged by all accounts and a notorious underachiever who only got into the academy because of his parents have all gotten their turn under scrutiny. However, the veiled Muslim women with the accent has been shown in the most positive of lights. She is shown as an empowered and educated agent. Is this a bureaucratic decision made so as not to offend or is there a deeper meaning behind this decision to keep this character from coming under scrutiny?
The creators behind Quantico come from diverse backgrounds and it is reflected in the content of the show. The most obvious and important way it’s reflected is the characters are demographically diverse, not whitewashed nor do they conform to mainstream stereotypes. It’s refreshing to see diverse characters on TV played by their respective identities.
It’s a show on ABC network that’s gaining viewers and ratings. Since there are commercials in between I’m assuming that’s how they make their money. They have to keep ratings and viewings up so that may influence the content of the show. They have to make sure that the plot twists and character addition if any, don’t upset their viewers so much that it affects the ratings. In one of the earlier episodes, a Mormon character is shown in his temple garments. Later it is revealed that said character should have been ex communicated on grounds of misconduct while on a mission and tried for criminal deeds. This caused an uproar in the LDS community but obviously not enough to lower ratings and views.
Often times when ethnic or diverse characters are shown on major networks are whitewashed within an inch of their identity. Sometimes you will have a white actor playing a person of color. As recently as the beginning of this year in the movie Aloha, when Emma Stone plays a Hawaiian and quarter Chinese character. Some think that one of the reasons that the movie did not do well at the box office was because of this “cultural insensitivity”.
Another cultural insensitivity in episode 6 when Simon and “Nimah”’s friendship becomes more than just that and culminates in a passionate expression of “Nimah” removing her scarf and telling Simon it’s ok for [for him to kiss her presumably]. This bothers me because so far the producers of this show did everything so well in presenting this character. The scarf is a symbol of submission to her Lord, only her family and her husband can see her without her scarf, and pre-marital relations are forbidden in Islam. Entertainment media is often not synonymous with accuracy but I would like to see how their relationship develops or doesn’t. Especially when they examine his Zionist background and her Muslim family.
The tentative caress: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGji3u4RtbM
In an age of fast paced technology and social media a phenomenon “the Instagram model” as emerged. That’s how, Maria Hidrissi, the first veiled Muslim women in a H&M campaign was discovered. As I conducted further research I found out that this campaign, H&M Close the Loop – Sustainable fashion through recycled clothes was released September 2, 2015 on youtube. The campaign released by H&M hopes to reach its diverse customer base by featuring Sikh men, a transgender women, an amputee, and a veiled women. Maria, an entrepreneur of Moroccan and Pakistani descent, owns a beauty salon in London where she calls home. A budding fashion blogger, she was surprised when H&M contacted her. Her initial response, they know I wear a scarf right?
You can view the full campaign ad here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4xnyr2mCuI
According to their website, H&M is the second largest global clothing retailer and they continue to expand. Where does their success come from? They aim to provide fashion and quality sustainably at a great price. They also collaborate with prominent celebrities fashion houses and designers. Their newest collaboration with the fashion house Balmain will hit the stores in November. The campaign urges its target market that the only rule of fashion is to recycle your clothes. The video features a demographically diverse group of people.
As a relatively new company (68 years young), bringing revenue of billions of dollars, remaining socially responsible, and environmentally sustainable is difficult. And now this campaign released before the release of one of their largest collections and collaborations with Balmain (French fashion house). If H&M was not known as a socially responsible company people might have “thrown shade” towards them for engaging in such common marketing tactic. New companies are generally expected to be sustainable in order to be successful on the long run. However, the campaign has come under the radar because they might be using the diverse models as a marketing tactic and not actually because they believe the society has become more accepting. This is important because people need to be conscious consumers and as Americans we are “brainwashed” by million of dollars of marketing and we often buy into such campaigns when in reality they are not as socially responsible or environmentally conscious as they say they are.
The creators of this campaign ad believe in being socially responsible and environmentally conscious. If you associate or identify with any of the minority identities featured in the campaign you might feel like the fashion industry is becoming more welcoming and accepting. As a person of color, and a veiled Muslim women who shops at H&M I definitely feel good about being represented by the brands that I like to shop from. Even though the fashion industry in general has a long way to go before they can be classified as progressive or accepting I do feel like H&M is changing the game.
There is no doubt about the commercial purpose of the campaign ad. H&M is a company that has a combination of good company values and a great marketing advertising department. According to AJ+, Muslims are expected to spend an impressive $484 billion on clothes and footwear by 2019. Not advertising or tapping into this niche target market would be essentially throwing away money. In the fashion industry many designers and brands choose white models with certain body types (fit/toned for men and underweight for women). The models must conform to certain standards of “beauty”. These standards rarely if ever represent the majority of the population. It is refreshing to see such a big company take that leap and be one of the first to break these constructs.
It is interesting to see how increasingly veiled Muslim women are showing up in recent popular culture. Growing up, I can safely say that I did not see veiled women on TV or magazines or blogs. It’s fascinating to see how the preconceived notions about veiled Muslim women have evolved over time; especially since 9/11. During the rise of Orientalism, the veil woman was seen as exotic or someone to fetishize. After the decline of peace in the Middle East, the veil became a symbol of oppression and victimhood aa way to silence women. Now there are prominent veiled Muslim women are coming into the limelight for doing incredible things; Ibtihaj Muhhamed who is on the American fencing team, Asia AKF a fashion blogger and entrepreneur with over 1.5 million followers on Instagram, and many more. These are the faces under the veil.
There is a newly emerging “Islamic” culture industry specifically market towards muslim women. These Muslim women have been active as consumers and producers in this new industry. Many of these women are writers editors models and business owners. The entrepreneur in specific have paved a new road while combining Islamic teachings with new concepts of fashion, lifestyle, and beauty. Since Muslim women’s needs are specific this creates a niche market that is constantly changing and redefining how the Muslim woman is shown. In specific, this paper will discuss how images and ideals of the Muslim woman are produced, broadcasted, and consumed by an increasingly capitalist global market.
There are social implications that comes with what it really means to be a Muslim woman who wears the veil in the market as a producer or a consumer in a capitalist society. Many of these women have to navigate between stereotypes and preconceived notions of the orientalist days while presenting themselves as independent and professional. Much like the feminist movement in America, Muslim women want to challenge and reify stereotypes by making their voices heard. (Introduction: Muslim Women, Consumer Capitalism, and the Islamic Culture Industry)
There is also a growing Muslim lifestyle magazine industry that has emerged for an increasing Islamic Bourgeoisie. Namely fashion editorials but unlike the ones we are familiar with, such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, these magazines feature veiled and modest women. The different magazines have appeal to a variety of Muslim women and present different lifestyles from the elite fashion bloggers to the working professionals. These magazines prove that you can be a modest veiled women and lead a fashion forward lifestyle. They use different aspects to appeal to these women. Some use the common cultural aspects, socioeconomic status, or degree of “piety” to attract certain consumer/customer base. However. the different magazines discussed all had the same challenge of overcoming the politics of how they represented Muslim women.
This reminds of the discussion we had in class of the influence of the media. In the media saturated world we live in today, we are constantly bombarded with images of the ideal. Doctored images, of what perfect people look like. At every turn, we are besieged with images of what we are suppose to look like. The magazines and commercials that extol the beauty of the size 0 figure are endless. Girls, before they even reach puberty are affected by these images so much that they feel that they are lacking, or will never be beautiful. This is also the same media platforms (Instagram mainly) that is also helping Muslim veiled teens find their style or fashion inspiration from the likes of ASCIA_AKF and YAZTHESPAZ89. Media influence can be used positively in this case of this Muslim girls who might feel that they are not represented by their favorite actors, models, and musicians. (Marketing Muslim Lifestyle: A New Media Genre)
Muslim media such as these lifestyle magazines face challenges when it comes to depicting veiled Muslim women. The point of contention is modesty. Some consider the veiled women in the magazines as not modest enough and others say the women are too modest. Another interesting point I came across in my research is how the identity of Muslim women has been materialized or commercialized. The veil is required for Muslim women to wear as symbol of submission and piety to their Lord. On the other hand, many fundamental components of capitalism “self-indulgence, conspicuous consumption, this-worldly orientation, materialism, and individualism” is against the basic principles and teachings of Islam. Not to mention the fact that the veil, a symbol of reverence and devoutness, has been commercialized. (Introduction: Muslim Women, Consumer Capitalism, and the Islamic Culture Industry)
One thing that fascinated me is how the Hijab has evolved from symbol of oppression to fashion statement to those who don’t understand what the the veil (Hijab) symbolizes. Since the age of orientalism when veiled women were portrayed as exotic and a subject of fantasies to now and age where the hijab is now a symbol of empowerment and women reclaiming their body image from men and from being objectified.
Bee, Zenith. “Community Post: Muslim Girls Break the Internet.” BuzzFeed Community. N.p., 7
Oct. 2015. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.
Bhagwati, Anu. “ABC’s ‘Quantico’ Is A Breakthrough for South Asians on TV.” New Republic.
N.p., 27 Sept. 2015. Web. 01 Dec. 2015.
Castellanos-Monfil, Román. “Yale Senior Wins the Individual World Poetry Slam
Championship.” Yale News. YaleNews, 26 Oct. 2015. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.
Cohen, Lori, and Leyna Peery. “Unveiling Students’ Perceptions About Women in Islam”.The
English Journal 95.3 (2006): 20–26. Web.
H&M Close the Loop – Sustainable Fashion through Recycled Clothes. H&M, 2015. YouTube.
Gökarıksel, Banu, and Ellen McLarney. “Introduction: Muslim Women, Consumer Capitalism,
and the Islamic Culture Industry”. Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 6.3 (2010): 1–18. Web.
Lewis, Reina. “Marketing Muslim Lifestyle: A New Media Genre”. Journal of Middle East
Women’s Studies 6.3 (2010): 58–90. Web.Porter, Rick. “Where ‘Quantico’ Goes From Here: Creator Breaks Down the Twisty Premiere.”
The Hollywood Reporter. N.p., 27 Sept. 2015. Web. 01 Dec. 2015.
Rendall, Steve, Isabel MacDonald, Veronica Cassidy, and Dina Marguerite Jacir.Smearcasting:
How Islamophobes Spread Fear, Bigotry, and Misinformation. Ed. Julie Hollar and JIm Naureckas. NY: FAIR, 2008. Print.
Watt, Diane. “Journal of Media Literacy Education.” “The Urgency of Visual Media Literacy in
Our Post-9/11 World: Reading I” by Diane Watt. N.p., 10 Sept. 2013. Web. 01 Dec. 2015.
Sexy, sassy and spicy are the three s’s commonly used to describe Latinas portrayed in film, television, and sometimes even daily life. However, there is often another s-word that is often forgotten when describing portrayals of Latinas: stereotyped. Latina characters have been a part of American media since the beginning of the film industry, with the beautiful Dolores del Río playing the exotic and passionate lover in the 1920s, and Carmen Miranda playing sexy and bombshell characters in the 1930s and 1940s.
Those same limiting roles of promiscuous, fiery and exotic women they had back then still prevail to this day. Josefina Lopez, the writer of Real Women Have Curves, agrees by affirming that “most of the time when we see Latinas, we see male fantasies in an exoticized, eroticized Latina. This whole hot señorita thing has always been around, since the beginning of time” (Latinos Beyond Reel). These “hot señorita” roles can also be seen in many recent television shows. This is becoming a real problem because Latino/as make up about 17 percent of the US population, making them the largest ethnic group in the country with over 53 million people and counting (Negrón-Muntaner 1). Despite the glaring fact that Latino/as have a fast growing presence in American culture, television has yet to fully embrace the idea of positive, non-stereotypical Latina characters in its contemporary shows of Modern Family, Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin.
The spicy Latina stereotype is emulated in the television show Modern Family created by Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd in 2009. The stereotype is seen though the character Gloria Delgado-Pritchett played by Sophia Vergara. Gloria is portrayed as a sexy trophy wife that wears a lot of provocative, skin-tight clothing and high-heeled shoes. She often also has trouble pronouncing English words. Nearly every episode of the show incorporates an argument between Gloria and another member of her blended family, but more often than not it’s with her much older husband, Jay. These arguments are often for comedic effect, but they constantly reinforce the stereotype that Latinas are spicy and hot-headed.
In the episode “Disneyland,” Gloria is criticized by Jay for not bringing practical shoes to wear on the vacation, as she only brought heels, and that offends her. Near the end of the episode the conflict is resolved when Jay brings Gloria slippers for her to wear, which is sweet until he tells her to calm down and not “go all Latin on him,” insinuating that she would yell at him loudly in incomprehensible Spanish. That remark can very easily be taken offensively by Latinas because not all of them behave like that. The identity of Latina incorporates people of more than 20 Spanish speaking countries, so generalizing all of them in such a way is hurtful.
Link to the “Disneyland” episode where Jay tells Gloria to not “go all Latin” on him:
Even Sofia Vergara has faced criticism from the Latino community for her portrayal of Latina women. Lifestyle and popular culture blogger Tanisha Love Ramirez criticizes Vergara’s support of her character Gloria and points out that, “The problem here is that the idea of the curvy, sexy and sultry Latina denies many Latinas their cultural identification based on their physical appearances and sexual attractiveness, alone.” Not only does the portrayal deny Latinas of their cultural identification, but it perpetuates a stereotype that has long been engrained in American media.
Four years after the creation of Modern Family, Orange is the New Black (OITNB) premiered on Netflix, featuring a plethora of supporting characters from different cultural backgrounds, including Latinas. While technically not a “television show” in the traditional broadcasting sense, OITNB still has episodes and seasons and is available for purchase from cable providers like Xfinity On Demand. OITNB features seven reoccurring Latina characters of Gloria Mendoza, Dayanara Diaz, Marisol “Flaca” Gonzales, Blanca Flores, Maria Ruiz, Aleida Diaz, and Maritza Ramos. These characters perpetuate Latina stereotypes of sexy, sassy and spicy women as Flaca and Maritza are often shown being insubordinate to the prison guards and Dayanara is impregnated by one of the guards. Gloria, Maria and Aledia embody spiciness as they are often quick to temper and aren’t shy about it. The portrayal of these women can be considered offensive to Latinas because of how they are in prison and how they behave in it.
While those stereotypes are active and present in OITNB, the show is actually a step in the right direction for portrayals of Latinas because the characters show development, which is unlike Gloria Delgado-Pritchett from Modern Family who after all this time is still the sexy trophy wife. At least with OITNB characters like Flaca, who adores Depeche Mode and the Smiths, have interests outside of their cultural norm.
Blogger Alex Abad-Santos expresses that “It might be hard to understand why Flaca’s musical taste matters unless you’ve grown up watching television shows where no one looks like or behaves like you,” which is a reality for Latinas because they hardly see positive, accurate representations of themselves on television. OITNB has set somewhat of an example in creating Latina characters that are relatable and humanistic; therefore, paving the way for television shows like Jane the Virgin.
Jane the Virgin premiered on the CW in October 2014. The show features an almost all Latino cast, which has only been seen a few times in the new millennium with the George Lopez Show, Ugly Betty and Devious Maids. The main Latina characters are Jane, Xiomara and Alba Gloriana Villanueva, and out of the three, Xio is the most stereotypical. This is due to the fact that she embodies the sexy Latina trope, wearing tight, revealing clothing and often flirting with many men, which is seen throughout the show and through flashbacks. The other two women are less stereotypical, making them more believable in the melodramatic, farcical world they belong to.
The show itself is one of the most progressive and nuanced shows featuring Latina characters. Ivonne Coll, who plays Alba Villanueva describes it as “not a Hispanic show, but it is a show about a Hispanic family,” which tells the audience that the show is meant to appeal to viewers of all ethnicities rather than it being a token show focused solely on Latinos and their culture (Ryan). This in part is do to the show’s writers who welcome suggestions from the actors to make it seem more authentic than over the top. Avid watcher, Amy Zimmerman, praises the show and believes that “by making Jane an actual human, as opposed to a stereotype or the butt of a joke, the series begins to normalize the notion of a female, Hispanic lead on a mainstream television program,” which is accurate. The only real stereotype is Xiomara, and she isn’t even the title character.
Though snubbed by the Emmy’s, Jane the Virgin was recognized at the 2015 Golden Globes when Gina Rodriguez, the actress that plays Jane, won for Best Actress in a TV Comedy. In her acceptance speech, Rodriguez emotionally announced that the award “represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes,” which shows that maybe Jane the Virgin can truly enlighten television producers and set a precedent for including more Latina heroes and less stereotypes in future shows (Entertainment Tonight). Granted, Jane the Virgin is not completely free of stereotypes, but perhaps the leaps and bounds it has made will spawn more progress.
There is no denying the fact that Latinos account for a fairly big percentage of US population, yet it is clear that American television has been having a hard time accepting it. It continues to portray Latina women using the tried and true s’s of sexy, sassy and spicy, even though it puts Latinas in a bad light. The perfect example of that is Sofia Vergara’s role of Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, who is still the same sexy, spicy character she was six seasons ago. Thankfully there has been a smidgen of progress with shows like Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin that have given their characters depth and development among the stereotypes they still perpetuate. Hopefully some day in the near future young Latina women will be able to turn on the television to see positive and accurate representations of themselves that can be described with three different s’s: smart, successful, and strong.
Being a Latina in the United States can be hard, especially when you are constantly surrounded by stereotypes that tell you you have to act and look a certain way or you don’t exist. Researching how my identity of being Latina is portrayed in television shows that I, along with my peers, are familiar with was a real learning experience. I was most influenced to write about my Latina identity though the first blog assignment that I had for this Popular Culture class where we had to read the article “The Evolution of the Doltish Dad” by Hannah Rosin. I was inspired because Rosin describes how fathers have been portrayed in the same goofy way for decades and that only “until very recently, a guy who wanted to stay at home or be earnest about fatherhood could not see his image reflected on TV, which essentially meant he did not exist” (Rosin). That quote really struck me as I could relate to feeling like I didn’t exist in the eyes of the society I live in because I wasn’t a stereotypical Latina with Sofia Vergara’s body. I appreciated that Rosin draws attention to the portrayal of dads because of how the stereotypes have “become a genuine block to social progress,” which is my reasoning for writing my blog post as well. If Latinas are a part of the largest growing ethnic group in America, then that needs to be represented in television. Unfortunately, our stereotypes are in the way of that, among other things.
The other blog assignment that I learned a lot from was in the third week when we read a transcript of the radio program The American Life featuring journalist Sarah Vowell. In the piece Vowell discusses an incident where Al Gore was misquoted during his political campaign and how it snowballed, causing him unnecessary negative attention. At one point, Vowell poses the question, “If it’s not accurate, is it not true?” (Glass). I was struck by Vowell’s question because it really make me think about not only journalism, but other forms of media portrayals. I formulated my own answer to that question in this blog post about Latinas and how the portrayals of them in television are not accurate and therefore not true. Unfortunately most writers write what they know to be true, which in my case happens to be stereotypes. If there were more enlightened or authentic Latino writers on those television shows, then maybe the portrayals would e more accurate and ultimately true.
These assignments and this class really taught me a lot. They taught me to question the media outlets and their purposes, and they taught me to question and analyze how I am portrayed in them. And that I did.
By April Hernandez
Abad-Santos, Alex. “Orange Is the New Black’s Latina Characters Are Women We Hardly Ever See on Television.” Vox. Vox Media, Inc., 12 June 2015. Web. 27 July 2015.
“Chapter One.” Jane the Virgin. Writ. Jennie Snyder Urman. Dir. Brad Silberling. 13 Oct. 2014. Xfinity On Demand. 10 July 2015.
“Chapter Seven.” Jane the Virgin. Writ. David Rosenthal. Dir. Janice Cooke. 24 Nov. 2014. Xfinity On Demand. 10 July 2015.
“Chapter Ten.” Jane the Virgin. Writ. Meredith Averill and Christopher Oscar Peña. Dir. Elodie Keene. 19 Jan. 2015. Xfinity On Demand. 10 July 2015.
“Disneyland.” Modern Family. Writ. Cindy Chupak. Dir. James Bagdonas. 9 May 2012. Television. 11 July 2015.
“Do Not Push.” Modern Family. Writ. Megan Ganz. Dir. Gail Mancuso. 1 Oct. 2014. Xfinity On Demand. 11 July 2015.
“Dude Ranch.” Modern Family. Writ. Paul Corrigan, Brad Walsh and Dan O’Shannon. Dir. Jason Winder. 21 Sept. 2011. Television. 9 July 2015.
Entertainment Tonight. “2015 Golden Globes: Gina Rodriguez Made Us All Cry With Her Incredible Acceptance Speech.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 12 Jan. 2015. Web. 24 July 2015.
Glass, Ira, and Sarah Vowell. “Transcript: 151: Primary.” This American Life. Chicago Public Media. Chicago, Illinois, 28 Jan. 2000. Transcript: 151: Primary. Web. 6 July 2015. Transcript.
Latinos Beyond Reel. Dir. Miguel Picker and Chyng Sun. Perf. Yancey Arias, Josefina Lopez, Luis Antonio Ramos, and Lisa Vidal. Open Lens Media, 2012. DVD.
“The Long Honeymoon.” Modern Family. Writ. Danny Zucker. Dir. Beth McCarthy-Miller. 24 Sept. 2014. Xfinity On Demand. 11 July 2015.
“Low Self Esteem City.” Orange is the New Black. Writ. Nick Jones. Dir. Andrew McCarthy. 6 Jun. 2014. Netflix. Web. 6 July 2015.
“Mother’s Day.” Orange is the New Black. Writ. Jenji Kohan. Dir. Andrew McCarthy. 11 Jun. 2015. Netflix. Web. 9 July 2015.
Negrón-Muntaner, Frances. “The Latino Media Gap a Report on the State of Latinos in the U.S. Media.” Columbia University, 19 Jun. 2014. Web. 19 July 2015. PDF file.
Ramirez, Tanisha L. “Sofia Vergara Loves Playing Stereotypes.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 5 Mar. 2013. Web. 17 July 2015.
Rosin, Hanna. “The Evolution of the Doltish Dad.” Slate. The Slate Group LLC, 15 June 2012. Web. 29 Jun. 2015.
Ryan, Maureen. “‘Jane The Virgin’ Helped Change TV, But The Struggle Is Far From Over.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 6 Apr. 2015. Web. 28 July 2015.
Zimmerman, Amy. “‘Jane the Virgin’ is The CW’s Best Show Ever.” The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, 28 Oct. 2014. Web. 28 July 2015.
Jewish Assimilation: its prominence as a subject in current times and how Popular Culture affects it.
Nimi Einstein, Sunday, May 18, 2014
If there is one long lasting, self-aware community, it is the Jewish People. For whatever reason, we have always been concerned about passing on the tradition, and the loss of said tradition has been the biggest fear. Within almost 4000 years, the Jewish people have lived and died, been fortunate and not, but most importantly, have been together and aware of the importance of holding on. In my research within popular culture, I have stumbled upon a couple of different articles talking about Jewish assimilation into American culture, and I would like to share them to discuss why assimilation so important as a topic, and how popular culture can influence and affect our perception of it.
At around 1800 BCE, Judaism began with Abraham. 400 years later, the Israelites where enslaved in Egypt and one hundred years after that, Exodus; the Jews departed for Israel. 600 years later, the Jews where in Israel and the first temple was completed. Another 400 years and the first temple was destroyed, many wars happen in between and come the year 7O CE (approximately,) and the second temple was destroyed with the Romans ruling Jerusalem. Fast forward almost 2000 years, and WWII and the Holocaust ravages Jewish populations in Europe. A little bit later and the state of Israel is founded.
We are now in 2014 and the loss of Jewish culture and tradition is still up among the biggest and most talked about issues within the Jewish community. In 2014, unlike when it first started, Judaism has many different denominations and all of them identify as Jewish. The first split is that of religious and secular. While most people would not identify as Christians, Muslims, and etc. if they where not religious, many Jews identify as Jews even if they do not practice Judaism religiously, I being one of them. After the religious / non-religious split we have several main groups: Alternative, Classical, Reform, Conservative, Humanistic, Haymanot, Karaite, Liberal, Orthodox, Progressive, Reconstructionist, Reform, Renewal, and Traditional. Each practice Judaism differently; some reading the Torah, (the main Jewish religious text) more literally and some interpret parts more loosely. In the end, all of these denominations and sects were born out of the same roots, but between the different groups, like any large group of people, there are always problems, controversies and politics.
The first noteworthy article I found while researching was an eight-paragraph op-ed in a leading Israeli online newspaper “Ynet” called Dangers of assimilation. In it, the author, Bambi Sheleg, is telling us about Rabbi Yuval Cherlow’s trip to America to visit with American Jews and learn about the problems of assimilation. Rabbi Cherlow, who is a prominent religious teacher and helps run the Tzohar rabbinical organization, came back to Israel with horrifying news of American assimilation. He published an article discussing horrible number of Jewish loss in culture.
“It is estimated that about 50% of students who can be linked to Judaism do not have two Jewish parents. Some very serious studies show that 5% of New Yorkers who identify themselves as Jews are not Jews according to any definition (not even the Reformist definition) and have not gone through any conversion process – even Reform conversion – yet they still consider themselves to be Jewish.”
Rabbi Cherlow is part of the Jewish Orthodox tradition that is very strict with the rules of the Torah. The Reform movement that he discusses is a much newer interpretation of Judaism, which started in Europe but has gotten very large in the United States. Since the movement started, there has been a big conflict between the Orthodox and Reform movement due to the Orthodox movement not accepting Reform as a legitimate Jewish religious group. Instead of focusing on Rabbi Cherlow’s efforts in stopping assimilation, Sheleg comments on this religious arguments within different religious groups saying that
“This is one of our greatest national tragedies: One cannot discuss any existential issue without being accused of crossing the lines.”
Sheleg then throws in the Holocaust and talks about loss of life and really uses guilt to say that we are all in this together, so everyone should be accepting of each other. With a title like Dangers of assimilation, in a very large newspaper, I assume that many readers arrived to this web article to listen to solutions and outcomes. Because this opinion article instead brings in a victimized point of view instead of a factual, enthusiastic, and optimistic push, I believe that readers could get discouraged about the problems of assimilation and would not be hopeful for the future. I think that is a key ingredient in continuing to cherish and enjoy a tradition.
Sheleg also does not provide us with a link to Rabbi Cherlow’s article. After much personal searching for this article, I found many other reactions to it, but no copy of the original text. Among the many blogs and articles, several where White supremacist pages. One user on a website named storm front, white pride world wide named “White Dude” states
“I find it really interesting how it’s okay for Jews to protest their assimilation and third worlders moving to Israel. But if Whites protest our assimilation and the third worlders invading our countries, we’re called “racists”.”
If articles like this give ammunition for people to hate, I do not see how it is a worthwhile cause. Why would a person decide to continue being part of a community who constantly excludes members due to beliefs?
The second article I found was much more uplifting in nature. Viewpoint: Judaism is Too Afraid Of Assimilation written by Douglas Rushkoff, Oct. 01, 2013 on Time magazine’s online Op-ed forum discusses problems with trying to stop assimilation and the alienation that can occur when positive intentions are not implicated well. Rushkoff ends his history laden, tongue in cheek article with very happy twist.
“All Judaism needs to do is bite its tongue and stop putting this frightened, scarcity-based logic at the forefront of its effort to engage its people. Instead, spend as much time just doing and celebrating whatever Judaism means to you. The rest will follow.”
An article like this, to me, is way more fun to read. By the end, I am optimistic. I finish it wanting to continue this tradition. In 2009, 3.4 million subscriptions of Time where sold. If you add the other people that read but didn’t buy the magazine, you will get a whole lot of people reading articles like this daily. It is these kinds of articles that take people who don’t usually think about assimilation and bring them to think about their ancestors. The people that think about assimilation and its problems are active in their Jewish lives, so really, you have to reach the ones who do not discuss it to change the problem.
The last article is much more informative. It doesn’t give any point of views or decides for you which way to look at this problem.Birthright Israel, By Shaul Kelner, teaches us about the Israeli program Birthright. The article, which is hosted on Myjewishlearning.com article is broken down into 4 sections; Birthright’s history, structure, controversies, and impact. The first two sections are based within the interworking of the organizations and the last two are quite longer and really delve into the outcome. Kelner really manages to bring in different parts of the issue to create an unbiased setting for us to take away our own outcome.
“Some critics have contended that the trips promote a vicarious Jewish identity centered on Israel, rather than on Jewish life in the tourists’ own countries. Others have argued that the trips reinforce a classical Zionist core-periphery model that implicitly devalues Jewish life in diaspora.”
I truly appreciate both Kelner’s and Myjewishlearning.com’s approach to relaying information. I think that if I was curious about this issue that I would like to find a source of information that I could easily form my own opinion from.
It’s hard to say which of these authors is doing it right. The way we receive information through popular culture artifacts many times changes how we react to the material given. Beyond that, people differ greatly in what makes them tick, and there is no one way that people will listen.
I personally believe that each of these main authors are trying to help solve these issues. No matter how they put the information out to the world, they know that their platform of online articles reaches a large and diverse audience. I know that as our population increases and time goes on, more and more Jews will begin to assimilate into the populace, so outlets like this hold both power and importance as our communities try to continue our traditions.
Sheleg, Bambi. “Dangers of Assimilation.” Ynet News. 31 Dec. 2012. Web. 19 May 2014. <http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0%2C7340%2CL-4326173%2C00.html>.
Dude, White. “Rabbi Warns of “Dangers of Assimilation” for Jews – Stormfront.” Stormfront RSS. Web. 19 May 2014. <http://www.stormfront.org/forum/t936149/>.
Rushkoff, Douglas. “Is Judaism Too Obsessed with Assimilation?” Ideas Viewpoint Judaism Is Too Afraid Of Assimilation Comments. Time, 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 19 May 2014. <http://ideas.time.com/2013/10/01/viewpoint-american-jews-worry-too-much-about-assimilation/>.
Kelner, Shaul. “Birthright Israel.” Birthright Israel – My Jewish Learning. Web. 19 May 2014. <http://www.myjewishlearning.com/israel/Contemporary_Life/Society_and_Religious_Issues/Israeli-Diaspora_Relations/birthright.shtml?p=0>.
  Sheleg, Bambi. “Dangers of Assimilation.” Ynet News. 31 Dec. 2012. Web. 19 May 2014. <http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0%2C7340%2CL-4326173%2C00.html>.
 Sheleg, Bambi. “Dangers of Assimilation.” Ynet News. 31 Dec. 2012. Web. 19 May 2014. <http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0%2C7340%2CL-4326173%2C00.html>.
 Rushkoff, Douglas. “Is Judaism Too Obsessed with Assimilation?” Ideas Viewpoint Judaism Is Too Afraid Of Assimilation Comments. Time, 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 19 May 2014. <http://ideas.time.com/2013/10/01/viewpoint-american-jews-worry-too-much-about-assimilation/>.
 Kelner, Shaul. “Birthright Israel.” Birthright Israel – My Jewish Learning. Web. 19 May 2014. <http://www.myjewishlearning.com/israel/Contemporary_Life/Society_and_Religious_Issues/Israeli-Diaspora_Relations/birthright.shtml?p=0>.