Female Golfers Portrayed in Media Today


Females were not able to play sports nor were they considered athletes until a Title IX law was passed in 1972. There are very few films that feature female golfers as of 2016. However, there are 14 movies of male golfers as the main characters and only two about women. The game of golf was known originally for gentlemen only and ladies were forbidden to play. Female golfers were not recognized until the Women’s Professional Golf Association (WPGA) was formed into the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) in 1950. The LPGA tour has made women golfers more recognized, but still today female golfers are not portrayed as often as male golfers are in the media in the United States.

This blog post will be the examination of both a film, Swing Away, and a documentary, The Founders, which feature female golfers. Also discussed will be other golf movies that are all about male golfers with no mention of female golfers. This will look at the reasons why female golfers are not portrayed in many movies. The two films show women golfers and their lives of playing golf and the recognition for them in the public.

The Founders Film

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The Founders is a documentary film directed by Fisk Charlene and written by Carrie Schrader. Released in 2016, this documentary was screened in multiple film festivals all over the United States. This is a great story of 13 amateur women golfers who created the Women’s Professional Golf Association (WPGA), which eventually turned into the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). The purpose of this film was to show how the LPGA was created and that it wanted to have the world recognize that women can also be great golfers. This film is for anyone who believes in the transformative power of defying the odds.

Women golfers were treated unfairly and the world of golf discriminated against them. The film started as both female and male golfers played together in the the All-American Championship in Chicago, but not against one another. The winner for the ladies division got $500 and the male winner got $10,000. Women golfers wanted to equalize the purses for winning, which led them to separate themselves from the males. That catalyst led to the formation of the Women’s Professional Golf Association in 1944. In 1950, the 13 amateur women golfers had gone through many obstacles in order to reach their goal of becoming a professional sport for women by creating the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). The film showed that women golfers were unnoticed for many years and that the LPGA made a big impact on making them more visible. Once women golf was recognized as a professional sport, women were seen as great golfers, and they are now able to earn money by winning tournaments.

A review on The Founders by Violet Lucca discusses the good and bad about the film. “It explains that the LPGA was founded in 1950 and is one of the world’s longest-running women’s professional sports associations, and that it has attracted skilled female athletes of all races and classes the world over” (Lucca, 2016). Also mentioned in the article was that the LPGA never banned African Americans from playing and actively boycotted courses that didn’t permit them to enter the clubhouse. The Founders is a documentary that has a reenactment as well as interviews with the surviving founders of the LPGA. The subjects of the film are now elderly women who stood up against sexism years before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The film highlighted the financial problems of the LPGA’s early years. Women were forced to perform maintenance on the golf course, do the promotional work, and carpool between tournaments. The film discusses what the women had to face while playing golf. There was an incident where one of the top three female golfers in the U.S. was not allowed to enter the clubhouse on the course she was playing on in 1941. Shirley Spork, one of the founders, said, “Golf was a rich man’s game. You couldn’t compete unless you were part of an organization or private club.” This explains why it was not easy for women to play golf before the LPGA was formed. With no organization, they were not able to play unless they were part of a private club, but also they were not welcomed because it was considered a man’s game.

Swing Away

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Swing Away is a sports drama directed by Michael Nickles. The movie was released in certain theaters on May 7, 2016. This movie is about a professional golfer named Zoe Papadopoulos who had a meltdown on the last hole of a golf tournament and got suspended from the tour for it. She then travels to her grandparents’ village in Greece to get away from all the negative attention about her on the media. Being back in Greece, Zoe was able to regain control of her game and helped put the local golf course back in the hands of the villagers. The purpose of the movie is to teach about sportsmanship, the game of golf, and the cultures in Greece.

This is a good movie that presents a real life scenario of a golfer who couldn’t overcome her emotions after missing an important putt to force a playoff. Many golfers have gone through this, and it is great that she was able to turn her life around after her suspension. Zoe Papadopoulos was a professional golfer on the LPGA who had a mental breakdown and disrespected the association, the audience, and the golf course. During her suspension, she headed to her parents’ village in Greece and was able to participate in Greek customs with her grandparents. During her time in Greece, she mentored a ten year-old girl with her golf game. The public golf course in the village was in bad condition and Zoe was able to help the manager out and make the golf course more attractive. Along the way, the owner of the golf course did not accept Zoe as the pro and wanted to reconstruct the golf course into a five-star resort. The deal made was that the owner had to play against the 10 year-old girl that Zoe had been teaching. The girl won. The villagers were the owners of the golf course once again and Zoe headed back to America to play the rest of the tournaments on tour. The beginning of the movie portrayed a female golfer in a negative way, but it also gave much advice for women golfers.

A review of the movie Swing Away was written by Simi Horwitz. Swing Away was a sport and family movie that gives inspiration for female teens and golfers. The review discussed about the good and bad of the movie. The movie presented the female professional as emotional, strong, and community-oriented. While her suspension, she made progress with her golf game and helped the community of the village get their golf course back. Throughout the her suspension, Zoe learned about the power of resilience, heritage and second chances. The story of the movie was a great connection between the game of golf and Ancient Greece. It was mentioned that golf was formed in Ancient Greece. The film is very enjoyable and can be watched by any age in certain theaters. Mentioned in the article was a interesting fact about how “Swing Away was the first movie that featured a professional golfer as its heroine” (Horwitz, 2017). Compared to other sports, golf movies only had two films featuring females golfers, while there are 14 movies on male golfers.

Movies About Male Golfers

While the above films featured women golfers, the vast majority of films star male golfers. Some movies that feature male golfers are Caddyshack, Happy Gilmore, and The Greatest Game Ever Played. These movies mentioned and many more movies did not give the chance of having females as the main roles or any part in the movie about the game of golf. Caddyshack was directed by Harold Ramis and produced by Douglas Kenney. Happy Gilmore was directed by Dennis Dugan and Bill Paxton directed the Greatest Game Ever Played. Caddyshack and Happy Gilmore is a comedy and sports movie while the Greatest Game Ever Played was a drama, sports and history movie. This is to show that there are many golf movies only featuring male golfers and only two films were found including female golfers. This shows that not many female golfers are portrayed in movies and tv shows. If female golfers are shown in movies, they are shown in a negative way such as in Swing Away or on the side and usually not a big part of the golf story like in the movies where men are the main characters that were mentioned previously. Swing Away featured a professional woman golfer as the admiring figure. The Founders documentary showed the start of female golfers and the ladies professional organization.

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An article called I Just Want to Play explored women, sexism, and persistence in golf. This evidence connects to the fact that there are so many male golfer movies and few films featuring women golfers. There is a lack of women golfer representation in the media. In the early years of golf, there were barriers for women to play golf until the LPGA was made. Still with the Title IX law, women feel worthless as males are more popular in the media and in general to watch. The authors of this article wanted to discuss the barriers for women in golf and the strategies for them to play. They did a study of ten interviews, which consisted of recreational women golfers who faced discrimination on the golf course. They felt unwanted, ignored, and unnoticed on the course. Also mentioned in the article were ways to end gender-based discrimination in golf to make it more inviting for women by “having more of them work at golf courses, provide more merchandise gears, allow them to play from any tee grounds, and promote nine-hole play” (Mcginnis, 2005). Many women just want to play and so reducing gender barriers to play golf needs to happen. It should be the same in the media for female golfers to have the same amount of coverage as males.


All research has been presented to provide information about why female golfers are not portrayed enough in the media today specifically in films and shows. The Founders was a good documentary to show the creation of the LPGA and the start of recognition for female golfers. Swing Away was very inspirational and gave an impression to young females that golf can be played by females and they are able to overcome any obstacles that they face. The LPGA tour has made women golfers more recognized, but still today female golfers are not portrayed as often as male golfers are in the media in the United States. If discrimination between genders in golf make changes, golf could be the first towards equalizing genders in sports history and can lead to equal exposure between women and men in the media.

Learning Moments

One learning moment I had from this course was in Week 1. We had to read some course texts for our discussion post and what intrigued me the most was this article called “Why Students Can’t Google Their Way to the Truth”. It was one of the most interesting articles for me in this course. This article was mostly about fast checkers and how can students approach websites differently. You don’t realize that many people don’t pay attention to a website on if it is reliable or not. I have learned about choosing accurate and reliable sources for research papers before. At times I do check websites or articles if they are reliable, but at other times I just think there are good enough information to be true. What I learned most from the article was about understanding “fast-checkers”. I have never heard of fast-checkers before and the strategies and techniques that that they do, fascinates me. Fast-checkers has three strategies which are to read laterally, research more about the subject they are reading, and they scroll to the bottom first to look more at the reliable sources. I am thinking about trying these strategies and it can help me in the future with researching websites and how to learn more about a subject. This article made me realize that I am glad I pay attention to which websites are reliable when it comes to research so I am able to have the knowledge of the correct information. It also helps with figuring out which websites are reliable and teaching new techniques for researching.


Another learning moment was in Week 6 from a course text called “News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier”. I always thought the news was a good thing, but through this article, it could be a bad thing. I don’t often watch or read the news. I only look to see what is the weather locally and if anything big is happening in Portland. Also, I like to know news about my home state which is Hawaii. The article mentions that the news is misleading, irrelevant, toxic to our body, increases cognitive error, and etc. It is interesting to learn that news consumption could be a disadvantage and lead to health problems. Mentioned in the article that the news can trigger the limbic system and makes your body become stress. The news can also disrupts concentration and can weaken comprehension. In a 2001 study, two scholars in Canada showed that comprehension declines as the number of hyperlinks in a document increases. Also, some news has flaws that make people think it is right. I was taught that the news is important to watch and listen, but throughout this course, not watching the news could be a good idea. Watching the news can lead to many emotions from learning about something bad or good from the news. Staying away from reading about the news could be a good thing because you won’t have to find out how corrupted a certain part of the world is. I don’t usually watch the news and I am going to leave it that way because some news are not true also. From what I learned from the article will help me make decisions whether I will read the news information or not, and if will be benefit me or not.


Work Cited

Dugan, Dennis, et al. Happy Gilmore. Special ed., Universal Studios, 1996. https://search.library.pdx.edu/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=CP71171321620001451&context=L&vid=PSU&search_scope=all&tab=default_tab&lang=en_US

Fisk, Charlene, et al. The Founders. Level 33 Entertainment, 2017. https://search.library.pdx.edu/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=CP71259768990001451&context=L&vid=PSU&search_scope=all&tab=default_tab&lang=en_US

Horwitz, Simi. “Film Review: Swing Away.” Film Journal International, 11 Oct. 2017 http://www.filmjournal.com/reviews/film-review-swing-away

Lucca, Violet. “The Founders.” Sight and Sound, vol. 26, no. 9, 2016, pp. 75–76. https://search.library.pdx.edu/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=TN_proquest1816621378&context=PC&vid=PSU&search_scope=all&tab=default_tab&lang=en_US

Mcginnis, L, et al. “I Just Want to Play – Women, Sexism, and Persistence in Golf.” Journal Of Sport &Amp; Social Issues, vol. 29, no. 3, 2005, pp. 313–337. https://search.library.pdx.edu/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=TN_wos000230783200005&context=PC&vid=PSU&search_scope=all&tab=default_tab&lang=en_US

Nickles, Michael, director. Swing Away. Freestyle Digital Media, 7 May 2016. https://www.swingawaymovie.com/the-team.html

Paxton, Bill., et al. The Greatest Game Ever Played. Walt Disney Home Entertainment, 2005.                                                                                        https://search.library.pdx.edu/primoexplore/fulldisplaydocid =CP71113416230001451&context=L&vid=PSU&search_scope=. all&tab=default_tab&lang=en_US

Ramis, Harold., et al. Caddyshack. Warner Home Video, 1980. https://search.library.pdx.edu/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=CP71155253260001451&context=L&vid=PSU&search_scope=all&tab=default_tab&lang=en_US

Models vs Body Image


Models vs Body Image 

By Natalie Cummings

Promoting an ad with such an insensitive message creates a disconnect for women Mass media has grown substantially in the past year becoming one of society’s biggest influencers, especially when it comes to body image. The impact that the many  different forms of popular culture, such as movies, social media, and advertisements, has on the body image of girls and women can be both negative and positive. Negative in the way it affects their body image but also has the potential to be positive by showing that women of all sizes are beautiful. By primarily focusing on the different advertisement campaigns published by lingerie companies like Victoria’s Secret and Aerie; the effects that such advertisements have on female body image will be explored within this post.


The Perfect “Body”

The ad campaign published by the popular lingerie company, Victoria’s Secret caused national and world wide controversy due to the phrase, ‘The Perfect “Body”’ written  across the thin bodies of the Victoria’s Secret Angels. This ad put boundaries on what the perfect body looks like, eliminating every woman who may have a different body shape or size from being socially deemed “perfect”. Following the controversy, Victoria’s Secret changed the slogan of the ad from ‘The Perfect “Body”’ to ‘A Body for Every Body’. This ad is promoting their newest “body” bra, yet like all of their ads the message seems to be oversexualized and negative; created solely to increase revenue. In 2017, the chain that owns Victoria’s Secret, L Brands, was down -1.21% in stock while their sales were also crashing a whopping 20% (Victoria’s Secret Sales Are Down 20% and L Brands’ Stock Is Plummeting).  The common factor within every Victoria’s Secret ad is the models. The tall, skinny, typical model reveals the shallow nature of the company and their lack of desire for diversity. Photoshop is Victoria’s Secret’s best friend because un–toned tummies and stretch marks are absolutely NOT ‘sexy’. In many ways the creators communicate their close minded ideas through the ads they produce. across the world who are unable to relate. Being that this campaign was launched in 2014, the diversity of their ads has shown no progression and the influence on female body image is still predominantly negative.



The second ad campaign that I chose to analyze was the #AerieReal campaign created by the up and coming lingerie and sleepwear company, Aerie. Aerie is a branch of the very popular clothing brand American Eagle Outfitters which has a 15-25 year old demographic. The fact that it is part of a company that appeals to the younger generation, Aerie doesn’t use women’s bodies as sexual images in their ads, instead they are refreshing and exude confidence and beauty. The message created with their campaign was female empowerment. The women affiliated with this campaign are not strictly models, but are singers, Olympic athletes, actresses, and body activists. These women are role models meant to prove to girls across the world that every body, shape and size is beautiful no matter what imperfections they may possess. These women break down these body stereotypes and through their confidence show young girls that they are beautiful without having to oversexualize themselves to meet society’s standards.  Companies like Aerie are so different than companies, such as Victoria’s Secret, because they want to make a difference in how women are viewed and how they see themselves within society. Following the publication of their campaign in 2014, Aerie became the “first national retailer to sponsor the National Eating Disorders Association, (Aerie). Their commitment to promoting self love and unwavering confidence is continuously shown throughout their photos which are now completely unretouched; something they vowed not to take part in with the launch of this ground breaking campaign. Another definitive factor in Aerie’s success is that the women in their ads are not stripped down to the bare minimum. They wear what is comfortable for them whether that be boy brief underwear and a cozy bralette or shorts and a cute tank top. By refusing to take part in the over sexualization of women the true message that Aerie has created is strongly communicated. The positivity that is put forth by both the women within the campaign and the company itself, allows young girls to grow up with overflowing self confidence of who they are and who they aspire to be.   

Why do these ads have an effect on one’s body image?

After comparing and contrasting these two ad campaigns as well as a social media posting by body activist and model, Ashley Graham, I have come up with multiple findings regarding why the body image of women is affected by these ads. Multiple articles that I came across validated the troubling claim that, “exposure to thin female models in the mass media is associated with poor body image and disordered eating behaviours” (Diedrichs). So why are we still creating ads that have the potential to damage the physical and mental health of women within our society? What really surprised me was the information I found on the actions that other countries are taking to address this problem. Countries such as France and the United Kingdom, “have recently emphasized the need for changes to current media imagery, including greater regulation, a reduction in, or notification of, the use of airbrushing, and an increase in models’ body size and shape diversity” (Diedrichs). These other countries have taken action to stop the rapid spread of low self confidence within females, so again I as, why is the United States still producing media that has been proven to diminish and harm a woman’s self image?


This question is one that I don’t think is being asked enough and women like Ashley Graham and Iskra Lawrence are the voices trying to change that. I came across an article while researching that conducted a study on how the body image of different women is affected when looking at thin, average, and plus size models. Being that Ashley and Iskra are both body activists, models and most importantly role models for all women, they are also both plus size. Now the major thing they do that makes them stand out is that instead of trying to become something they are not, they choose to love and embrace their natural body in every way. The ‘standards’ put forth by society, “further perpetuate an ideal body size that is unattainable for most women, especially since 40% of women in the world are overweight and 15% are obese,” (Clayton). The unattainability of this ideal body size is what body activists like Iskra and Ashley are trying to change. Variety is beautiful, curves are beautiful, ‘Every. Single. Woman. Is beautiful’. Why society refuses to display the obvious truth is beyond me.  

Body image Beyond models

There are other parts of mass media that extend past the modeling world yet still have the potential to affect a woman’s body image. One study I found was in regards to women in commercials broadcasted by the four major news networks. Within the dissertation I discovered, that the variety of body types portrayed within these commercials are just as minuscule as that of the modeling world. The four broadcasting networks compared were ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX, and the results concluded were very shocking. The women in each commercial were given a number based off the Contour Drawing Rating Scale (CDRS) for body type they exhibited.

The scale above is numbered 1-9, 1 being the skinniest and 9 being the largest. The data combined of all four networks concluded that the majority of the women in the commercials were either a 2 or a 3. From the data tables within the dissertation by Ashley Evans, I found that 22.5% of the women were given the number 2 and 31.25% were given a 3. The data determined that “the average body ranking across all four networks was a 3.60, which represents a thin (1-3) to average (4-6)figure on the CDRS,” (Evans). From a collective standpoint, seeing these thin modelesque women in not only lingerie advertisements but also in random tv commercials creates a much broader range of exposure; enabling the mass media to target the self image of women across the world much easier. This study shows how influential society’s opinion of the ideal body size is because it affects not only the women who view the commercial, ad, show, etc but also the companies that choose to take part in this detrimental act.


Men’s body image can be affected by these ads too?! What!?

I know you are all saying, ‘WAIT WAIT WAIT… Men are negatively affected by photos of…models?? WHAT?!’ Many automatically assume that the masculinity a man possesses acts as a wall that encompasses and stabilizes their overall body image; but surprisingly that isn’t the case. While researching I came across the fact that ad campaigns like those published by Victoria’s Secret affect both women AND men. In the study discussed within the article, Waif goodbye! Average-size female models promote positive body image and appeal to consumers, it was concluded that, “women and men rated average-size models as equally effective in advertisements as thin or no models,” (Diedrichs). The fact that average size models are equally if not more effective in advertisements is one of the many reasons I am confused as to why they are not used more. There are so many positive factors that come along with using average size models in advertisements, SO WHY AREN’T THEY BEING PORTRAYED MORE IN MASS MEDIA? The potential effects that men face after, “exposure to average-size models was also associated with a more positive body image state in comparison to viewing thin models,” (Diedrichs). These models affect both genders, making the conflict within these advertisements critical in the aspect of society wide self love. Although the information surrounding how men are affected by these ads is rather minimal, it was found during the study that, “young men felt significantly more anxious about their own appearance and were more motivated to engage in exercise for appearance reasons after exposure to magazine layouts featuring thin women,” (Diedrichs). Mass media has our entire society down to a science, so why not break their cycle and follow in the footsteps of women like Ashley and Iskra who are quickly paving the glamorous way to self love for all women and potentially even men!   

What I took away from this class

This course taught me a lot about myself and the society that I am a part of. Researching this topic allowed me to look deeply into the effects of pop culture media and apply it to my own life. There were many articles that we read that applied to my topic and gave me even more insight into the positive and negative effects of pop culture and mass media. Without this class I feel like I wouldn’t have as much knowledge about mass media, which is a crucial thing to be educated on. I really enjoyed this course and am excited to learn more!


Works Cited

Clayton, Russell B., et al. “Is plus Size Equal? The Positive Impact of Average and plus-Sized Media Fashion Models on Women’s Cognitive Resource Allocation, Social Comparisons, and Body Satisfaction.” Communication Monographs, vol. 84, no. 3, 2017, pp. 406–422., doi:10.1080/03637751.2017.1332770.



Diedrichs, Phillippa C., and Christina Lee. “Waif Goodbye! Average-Size Female Models Promote Positive Body Image and Appeal to Consumers.” Psychology &Amp; Health, vol. 26, no. 10, 2011, pp. 1273–1291.


Evans, Ashley, et al. “Female Body Image and the Mass Media: A Content Analysis of Primetime Television Advertisements and How They Lead to Body Dissatisfaction in Women.” Female Body Image and the Mass Media: A Content Analysis of Primetime Television Advertisements and How They Lead to Body Dissatisfaction in Women, 2014, pp. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.


Google Images, Google, images.google.com/.


“Victoria’s Secret Sales Are Down 20% and L Brands’ Stock Is Plummeting.” Fortune, fortune.com/2017/02/22/victorias-secret/.


Minorities Representation in Popular Media


Whitewashing in Hollywood is a practice that has been around since the early 20th century in the forms of blackface and yellowface – the changing of an actor’s skin tone to match their character’s race – often times exaggerating stereotypes of each race in the white actors portrayal of the character. In modern films such as Exodus: Gods and Kings, Doctor Strange and Aloha, the practice of whitewashing is still prevalent through the casting choices of the directors and writers of the films and through their portrayal of minority characters. In all three movies the writers and producers took roles that were originally Asian characters and replaced them with white roles/actors. As an Asian American I wanted to explore why this theme exists in Hollywood by looking at movies which I felt misrepresented characters by stereotyping or whitewashing.


Aloha is a film written, produced and directed by Cameron Crowe, starring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams and Bill Murray. Cameron Crowe  The main controversies surrounding this film circulate around the casting of Emma Stone for the role of Allison Ng and Crowe’s misrepresentation of Hawaii’s diverse population. The role of Captain Allison Ng, from Crowe’s ‘apology’ essay in response to the criticism, “was written to be a super-proud ¼ Hawaiian” with a ½ Chinese father” (Crowe). But by casting Emma Stone for the role of someone of Asian and Pacific Islander descent is misrepresenting Asian Americans. On top of that, Crowe defended the casting of Emma Stone, stating that although Allison was supposed to be ¼ Hawaiian and a ½ Chinese father, “by all outward appearances, she looked nothing like one.” (Crowe). This, however, is almost worse since it shows Crowe’s intention to misrepresent the role since writing the script. It’s also important to note that Crowe highlighted that Allison having “a half-Chinese father was meant to show the surprising mix of cultures often prevalent in Hawaii.”  which was counterintuitive based on his casting decisions. None of the actors listed on the IMDB page are of Pacific Islander or Asian descent despite the movie being shot and based in Hawaii, one of the most diverse states in the US. “60% of Hawaii’s population is [Asian American Pacific Islanders]. Caucasians only make up 30 percent of the population [of Hawaii], but from watching this film, you’d think they made up 99 percent,” said founding Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) President Guy Aoki. “This comes in a long line of films—The Descendants, 50 First Dates, Blue Crush, Pearl Harbor—that uses Hawaii for its exotic backdrop but goes out of its way to exclude the very people who live there. It’s an insult to the diverse culture and fabric of Hawaii.” (Yamato) With the casting of Emma Stone, Allison’s Asian-Hawaiian heritage is inaptly recognized and presenting an unauthentic Asian American experience as truth while doing the same to Hawaii’s diverse culture. Crowe also noted, in his defense of his casting choices and his defense of his representation of Hawaii, that he hired many native Hawaiians off screen to work in the making of the movie. This again raises the question why didn’t he represent the native Hawaiians on screen and why didn’t he cast an Asian/Asian American to play the role of Allison Ng? To answer this question I’ll look at a more recent example from the movie Doctor Strange.

Doctor Strange

Similarly to Aloha’s whitewashing of the role of Allison Ng, the role of The Ancient One was edited to fit the narrative the writers wanted in Marvel’s Doctor Strange. Doctor Strange is about an egotistical neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange who’s injured in a car accident and becomes unable to perform surgeries as a doctor. This accident throws his whole identity into crisis mode spending every dollar he has looking for a solution, Dr. Strange finds himself in Kathmandu, where he meets a sorcerer called The Ancient One, who eventually trains him in the mystic arts that heal him and more. The Ancient One was originally an older Asian man but was replaced by a white woman in the movie adaptation. Director Scott Derrickson said they wrote and casted to avoid the ‘dragon lady’ stereotype – depiction of an Asian woman as strong, deceitful, domineering or mysterious – therefore opting to change both the ethnicity and gender in the end. To this, Guy Aoki also commented on the role of The Ancient One: “You’re a writer. You could modify any problematic, outdated character and maintain its ethnicity, especially when it’s a minority to begin with. So the Ancient One was racist and stereotyped but letting a white woman play the part erases all that? No, it just erases an Asian character from the screen when there weren’t many prominent Asian characters in Marvel films to begin with.” By avoiding one stereotype, they erased a potential Asian role while keeping the ‘sidekick’ character Wong whose most frequently seen, poorly I might add, being a librarian who is more or else a dunce, allowing Strange to steal books from under his nose on multiple occasions. I don’t see any way they could defend their representation of the Ancient One because the root of the problem – they both misrepresented Wong and the Ancient One – is that they wanted to change the sex of the Ancient One for no justifiable reason. They tried to avoid one form of typecasting which resulted in them whitewashing the role of the Ancient One and still typecasting Wong as the incompetent sidekick. In short, they tried to avoid typecasting by changing both the sex – from male to female – and as a result of them changing the sex, felt the need to also change the ethnicity of the Ancient One from an Asian character to a Caucasian. Their explanation for this was to avoid the stereotypes of the ‘old male Asian mentor’ and the ‘dragon lady’, resulting in whitewashing the role of the Ancient One and still stereotyping the sidekick role of Wong. This raises the question of why does Hollywood continue to practice whitewashing, stereotyping and misrepresenting Asian/ roles despite massive backlash whenever they do.

Exodus: Gods and the Kings

Exodus: Gods and Kings, directed by Ridley Scott, is loosely based on the Book of Exodus where the a defiant leader Moses rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt. Controversy arose when Christian Bale – an English actor – was casted for the role of Moses, Joel Edgerton – an Australian actor – for the role of Ramses and Aaron Paul – an American actor – for the role of Joshua. Like we saw in Aloha and Doctor Strange, the main cast is majority white despite having settings in ethnically diverse locations. Ridley Scott resorts to heavily tanning the main cast instead of casting to fit the role and defended his casting, stating: “I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such… I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.” (Foundas 2014) I found this statement very interesting because of another article I read called “The New Hollywood Racelessness: Only the Fast, Furious, (and Multicultural) Will Survive” in which the author points out that the Fast and the Furious franchise – which has notably made over $3.9 billion, 67% of which was made overseas – was successful because of its diverse cast. “While the multiethnicity of these actors is not made concrete in the narrative, related visual referents serve as submerged or not so submerged elements in the development of their characters. This makes for an ensemble with significant box-office appeal because of its multicultural roots and experience.” (Beltran 60) By choosing the ethnically diverse city of Los Angeles and actually casting a diverse main cast and extras adds to “vibrancy of racial and ethnic diversity in the millennial city.” (Beltran 59) This is also backed up by research done by UCLA’s Ralph J Bunche Center for African American Studies that analyzed the top 200 films from 2014 to pinpoint the median global earnings by diversity categories, finding that the highest-grossing grouping – with four of eight actors being non-white – had a median ticket revenue of $122.2 million which more than doubled the $52.6 million earned by films with no non-white actors featured in the top 8. (Close 2016) Therefore Scott’s argument that diverse casts don’t bring in money is just wrong, in fact it does the opposite; diverse casts bring in a broader audience which leads to higher sales numbers worldwide and domestically.


In conclusion Hollywood has created the stigma against casting Asian actors like in Aloha and even avoid writing them into stories like in Doctor Strange. However, race-bending – like seen in Doctor Strange’s adaptation of the Ancient One – and whitewashing roles – like the casting of Emma Stone in Aloha and the casting of Exodus – misrepresents minority groups in popular media while perpetuating the stereotypical white figures in positions of power in Hollywood. By under-representing minority groups in film, audience members of the same race feel like they aren’t represented and are more or less replaceable. Because of this, it’s even more important to correctly, and accurately portray Asian roles while not avoiding writing them as a whole. In the future I hope Hollywood can get past the preconceptions they have about Asian, Asian American and minority actors – and roles – to represent roles appropriately.


Learning Moments

One learning moment that stood out to me was the TED Talk during week one about astroturf and the manipulation of media messages. I had no idea about astroturf or what it even meant before I watched the talk but it really opened my eyes to how easily the narrative the media is portraying can be so different from the truth. Especially when she was talking about how “Wikipedia contradicted medical research 90% of the time”, I came to the realization that I shouldn’t trust any-one website for a concrete answer. Instead, I check multiple website and keep researching until they have similar if not identical answers, then I accept that as an answer as opposed to just looking on a single website.

Another learning moment that stood out to me was “The News is Bad for You” essay by Rolf Dobelli. Namely the idea that news makes us passive. “The daily repetition of news about things we can’t act upon makes us passive. It grinds us down until we adopt a worldview that is pessimistic, desensitised, sarcastic and fatalistic. The scientific term is “learned helplessness”.” By continuously consuming information that we’re unable to effect, it desensitizes us to the beauty of life in general. It leaves us with a constant pessimistic view of the world which I’ve definitely felt before. After reading this article I’ve tried reading less of the ‘big headline’ depressing news like the car example Dobelli gave, instead I focus on the uplifting stuff going on.


Works Cited:

Beltrán, Mary C. “The New Hollywood Racelessness: Only the Fast, Furious, (And Multiracial) Will Survive.” Cinema Journal, vol. 44, no. 2, 2005, pp. 50–67. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3661094.

Close, Kerry. “Movies with Diverse Casts Make More Money.”  Money. 25 Feb 2016. Web. 15 November 2016, http://time.com/money/4237685/movies-diversity-casts-money/

Crowe, Cameron. “A Comment on Allison Ng.” The Uncool. 2 June 2015. Web. 14 November 2017, http://www.theuncool.com/2015/06/02/a-comment-on-allison-ng/

Foundas, Scott. “Exodus: Gods and Kings’ Director Ridley Scott on Creating His Vision ofMoses.”Variety. 25 November 2014. Web. 15 November 2017, http://variety.com/2014/film/news/ridley-scott-exodus-gods-and-kings-christian-bale-1201363668/

Yamato, Jen. “The Unbearable Whiteness of Cameron Crowe’s ‘Aloha’: A Hawaii-Set film Starring Asian Emma Stone.” Daily Beast. 28 May 2015 . Web. 15 November 2017. https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-unbearable-whiteness-of-cameron-crowes-aloha-a-hawaii-set-film-starring-asian-emma-stone

Yee, Lawrence. “Asian American Media Group Blasts Tilda Swinton Casting in ‘Doctor Strange’.” Variety. 3 November 2016. Web. 16 November 2017. http://variety.com/2016/film/news/doctor-strange-whitewashing-ancient-one-tilda-swinton-manaa-1201908555/

Koreans/Asians Actors Depicted In Hollywood


Why I Chose This Topic

For my research topic for “Big Picture Blog Post”, I chose to do my topic on Korean/Asian actors in Hollywood film. I chose this topic because I was also interested in what patterns did Hollywood have for Asian/Korean actors. Before initiating my analysis, I had known of the stereotypes produced in film. However, I wanted to know more about the actors and why were they picked for their respective roles.


The first time a Korean appeared in a film was in 1934 (with Philip Ahn). This was great given that Asian roles were very scarce at the time. Many people wouldn’t know the term “Orientalism”. Orientalism is a term that is used to describe or imitate aspects in Eastern cultures. The term was given when a majority of American films knew nothing about the eastern countries and made the fictional stereotypes to depict them. Philip Ahn – a Korean actor born in Los Angeles, California – had to play the role of a waiter, in the 1934 movie “Desirable”, with such a thick accent that people couldn’t even make out what he was saying. This is just the tip of what is happening in Hollywood today. Improper roles due to the lack of proper roles (because no one wants an Asian main character). Even in the animation movie “Kubo: and The Two Strings” had none of the voice actors for the major roles be Asian (all of the Asian actors were the villagers). The three main issues that are causing this lack of diversity is due to generalization of Asian roles, lack of main character roles for Asians, and Asian stereotypes.

“’We’re the geeks, the prostitutes’: Asian American actors on Hollywood’s barriers” (Article/Interview)

The meshing of the term “Asian” has caused a lot of cultural issues. A Korean actor may not be preferred if there is someone “better”. “Better” could range from things like looks, better accents, popularity, etc…This is mentioned better in a Sam Levin’s article called “’We’re the geeks, the prostitutes’: Asian American actors on Hollywood’s barriers”. This article from the Guardian is a collaboration of examples of what current Asian-American Actors are having a hard time with. A majority of the actors are willing to play any role. However, when the qualifications and scripts for the role come, they become a little distressed. For instance, one film sought an Asian rapper who could “rhyme a few lines with an accent or in any Asian language” (Levin). Their problem with the roles given is that they are linear, generalizing, and offset. Examples of these could be things like a “typical old man is actually a grand-master” (Kung Fu), “Korean dad is played by a Cambodian actor” (21 & over), and “all the extras in a futuristic, cyberpunk city” (1982 Blade Runner).

“Rome MIA: Daniel Dae Kim Takes a Front Seat Role in Changing Hollywood’s Lack of Diversity (Q&A)” (Interview)

Secondarily, the amount of Asian main character roles in Hollywood films is quite low (when compared to Caucasian). This is an issue because this creates the generalization of roles (as mentioned in the previous paragraph). A big notice of this happening would be in Daniel Dae Kim’s interview, where he talks about the lack of diversity and progress against it. At one point in the interview, he is asked: “How can we get Hollywood to tell more diverse stories?” (Anderson). Daniel Kim responds by, “It’s complicated. I’ll say it’s complex. It’s also incumbent on us as Asians, as minorities in this country to speak up, to speak out, take positions of leadership “(Anderson). Prior to the interview, Daniel Dae Kim had recently quit a television series due to discovering a difference in pay wage among other costars. Along with that, there was also a lack of communications from the producer. In the interview, it’s noted that Daniel Dae Kim had become a producer in order to create more jobs. Kim believes by creating projects like “The Good Doctor”, it would provide roles for Korean-Americans/Asian-Americans.

“The Interview’ with a Bang” (Interview)

Diana Bang plays Sook in Sony's semi-controversial political comedy "The Inverview." She co-stars alongside Seth Rogen, center, and James Franco. (Courtesy of Sony Pictures)

Lastly, stereotyping found in Asian roles. Where actors and actresses have to carry out actions and characteristics that solidify public opinion of those races. A great example would be Diana Bang’s interview for her movie success “The Interview” (a movie about parodying North Korea). In the interview when being asked about any reservations about North Korean controversial issues, she responded with “It’s just a very foreign place that not a lot of Westerners know about. I think it allowed for the material to have more freedom” (Han). This is interesting because it’s pseudo-cultural stereotype that is being created with the movie. This meaning the creators are fabricating a culture revolving around people that they have very little information about (that will obviously be seen by a huge amount of people). And later in the interview about the roles given to her for other films casting she responds with, “Honestly, I don’t mind playing softer quiet characters,” Bang said. “For an Asian female character to be a lead in a big film though, it was really important to me that she was both strong and funny” (Han). The role did allow her to break away from the usually reserved nature of Asian females in American films. This pinpoints that there are quite a lot of actors that have to adjust to thing that they do not prefer. This is interesting because it’s an example of an expectation in western films. The actress had stated that the roles provided for her (by means of her ethnicity and characteristic) to be quiet and soft.

“Greta Lee on Hollywood Stereotypes and Playing the ‘Lovable Weirdo” (Interview)

Another thing to take note, not all Asian/Korean actors may seem distressed about the issue. To these actors, any role that was given to them (whether it may be uncomfortable or not) meant a job. This was seen in Greta Lee’s interview with NY times’ cultural reporter, Cara Buckley. Greta is a Korean-American actress who had played as the nail salon lady in the movie called “Sisters”. In the film, Greta’s character is known to have very strong Asian stereotypes (she has a thick accent, immigrant, doesn’t know “lunch breaks”,etc.). In the interview, Cara asks: “did the script say Hae Won had to have a thick accent?” (Buckley). Greta Lee responds with “there was no mention of the accent, but that was the expectation “(Buckley). This makes sense since there is a supply and demand for roles. Just because Greta doesn’t like the accent, the producers can’t just modify their script (that’s not how it works). In reality, Greta standing up would mean an opportunity lost. Greta enforces this later by stating ” it’s O.K. to be vigilant about how these minorities are represented on TV and film. Then this nagging voice said, but wait, these opportunities are too few and far between, so what’s the alternative?”(Buckley). Greta Lee was being realistic in the situation given. And there probably more Korean/Asian actors that have to deal with this dilemma as well. It’s at a stage where the actors must be obligated to fit as many characteristics as possible (in hopes of receiving more roles).


In conclusion, the Asian/Korean actors that we see on the big screen may seem to have it all (the money, the fame, etc.). However, these actors are also constantly battling between their cultural identity and Hollywood demands. Though there are many efforts in trying to make a change (bringing awareness and creating more roles). There is also a population when the security of a role means more. That they would rather put aside their vigilance than stand against Hollywood. I believe such an issue shouldn’t exist in the modern age.

Learning Moments

One key learning moment that still remains in my mind was during week 6. The aspect of news and learning how the details have become distorted throughout the years had me baffled. One great example from the text was a huge controversy created by a misleading information on who had started the fire (it wasn’t the homeless man). Five years ago, anyone would have told you that the news would never lie. But now, the rise of competitiveness and popularity has disintegrated the need for clarity and citations. Nowadays, I usually check citations used for articles (especially political).

Another key learning moment was during week 3: The influence of Advertising. When told to read both the article (created by Rushkoff) and the video segments (created by John Berger); it created a sense of realization. This happened especially when John Berger was mentioning how similar we are to the previous ages. The desire for status had stalked us throughout the cultures. John Berger exemplifies this when he compared the paintings of people in luxurious clothing to models in a clothing magazine. Both tempt us to purchase products so that we have a satisfaction of receiving a “higher status”. However, in reality, we had wasted money (thus have become poorer). And though this video segment was created long ago; there are still examples of it in today’s advertisements (like Samsung or Apple ads). With this, I’m a more aware that advertisers can grab the interest of anyone (so be cautious in what you see/read on popular media).


Anderson Ariston. “Rome MIA: Daniel Dae Kim Takes a Front Seat Role in Changing Hollywood’s Lack of Diversity (Q&A)”. Hollywood Reporter. 4:57 AM PDT 10/24/2017. Link

Buckley, Cara.“Greta Lee on Hollywood Stereotypes and Playing the ‘Lovable Weirdo”. New York Times Magazine. Dec 17, 2015. Link

Chung, Hye Seung. “Hollywood Asian Philip Ahn and the Politics of Cross-Ethnic Performance”. Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 2006.

Han Brian. “The Interview’ with a Bang”. Korean Time US. Dec 16, 2014. Link

Levin Sam. “We’re the geeks, the prostitutes’: Asian American actors on Hollywood’s barriers”. The Guardian. Tuesday 11 April 2017 05.00 EDT. Link

Movieclips. “Sisters (2/10) Movie CLIP – Hae Won and Maura (2015) HD.” YouTube, YouTube, 20 Oct. 2016. Link

Science and Religion: What Does Pop Culture Have to Say?


In the age where modes of media rapidly change and contribute to the shaping of culture, we as consumers and creators of culture ought to develop deeper understandings of the ideas that surround us. As a Christian and science student, one topic that I continually research is the religion and science discussion. This ever-changing story between religion and science—where they meet, where they disconnect, and what this relationship will look like as ideas advance—remains an increasingly prominent topic within contemporary society as a whole. The most dominant image within popular culture today is the idea of a great schism between religion and science, providing consumers of media with a skewed, incomplete image of this complex and long-standing relationship. Ultimately, failure to highlight the day to day reality in which the ideas of religion and science have intersected and cooperated can be stifling, putting an unnecessary limit to the degree in which a diverse society can work together.

The great discussion between science and religion contains a vast amount of branches and levels. Probably the most popular and flamboyant topic is about evolution and religion. However, it goes beyond evolution, present in all fields of science and in many forms. Ethics, research, philosophy, and even aspects like work team diversity are in some way impacted by the interactions of science and religion.

In 2014, one of the hottest topics to surface in this great discussion between science and religion was the live debate between scientist Bill Nye and intelligent design advocate Ken Ham. The purpose of this meeting is straightforward: it was an intellectual faceoff between two well-known thinkers in the creation discussion, debating topics like the age of the earth and differing worldviews in relation to science (Youtube).

On the debate’s cover image, the epic black and white portraits of Ham and Nye are pictured and divided by a solid orange bar, reminiscent of a scoreboard for a wrestling match. The purpose, content, and form of this debate sends a clear message to its vast audience: their fields of expertise are inevitably opposed. This message isn’t just offered to Ken Ham and Bill Nye enthusiasts; it’s also present in the popular Christian movie, God’s Not Dead.

In the main storyline, college student Josh Wheaton embarks on a journey to combat his angry atheist Professor Radisson and prove God’s existence to his entire philosophy class (Cronk). While the movie functions to reinforce the ideals of its Christian audience, the string of fiery debates between Christian student and atheist professor also relays the message evident in the Ham/Nye debate that this is a war—one wins, and the other loses. The story unfolds over the media like a dramatic relationship doomed to end in separation. To put it more broadly, the prevalent spirit of debate between religion and science within popular media transmits the idea that science and religion have no common ground, and therefore, animosity is inevitable.

From the front of popular culture media, it seems that this great, tense debate is the only way religion and science can interact with one another. However, this isn’t the case in all avenues, nor is it an idea reflected in all members of society. In a study by Baylor University, participants offered their response to the degree in which they agreed or disagreed to the question, “Are religion and science compatible?” The highest percentage, 48.4%, answered that they disagreed with this statement (Baylor).

In addition, research centers, such as the Krakow School in Poland, study the interactions between science and religion and how they can work together, highlighting that religion has played a role in the advancements of science, medieval reasoning to modern methods of science (Brozek). Searching beyond the surface reveals that there is more to the relationship between science and religion than debate and discordance.

Along with studies and research, TV shows and media sites are recently presenting a more multifaceted view. National Geographic aired a new series in 2016 called The Story of God, narrated by Morgan Freeman. In the episode, “Creation,” he interviews scientists and researchers from different backgrounds regarding their ideas on the relationship between religion and science.




Vatican Observatory astronomer and Catholic priest Giuseppe Tanzella-nitti offers his view on the evolutionary aspect of this discussion: “Creation, from a theological point of view, is perfectly compatible with the Big Bang, because you need [always] a first cause” (National Geographic).   

Similarly, the website “Closer to Truth” provides a thread of interviews and resources in which scientists and researchers from various backgrounds explore this topic. Molecular Biologist and Evangelical Christian Denis Alexander states,

“I see the relationship between religious knowledge and scientific knowledge as complementary. They’re very complementary narratives about the same reality. And the important thing is to not mix…the languages of the different narratives up.”


 Alexander views this relationship as complementary—each with different roles (Alexander). TIME magazine’s article, “God vs. Science” by David Van Biema exhibits this same motif of science and religion as complementary. In the article, what first begins as a reflection on the prevalent societal idea of a “caged death match between science and God,” turns into a dialogue between well known contributors to science, Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins (Biema).


Francis Collins

Houghton Mifflin provided this photo of Richard Dawkins, authror of `The God Delusion.' (AP Photo/Houghton Mifflin)

Houghton Mifflin provided this photo of Richard Dawkins, authror of `The God Delusion.’ (AP Photo/Houghton Mifflin)

Collins concludes,

“I find absolutely nothing in conflict between agreeing with Richard in practically all of this conclusions about the natural world, and also saying that I am still able to accept and embrace the possibility that there are answers that science isn’t able to provide about the natural world… that in no way compromises my ability to think rigorously as a scientist.”

Similar to Alexander’s counsel to distinguish between the languages of science and religion, Collins states that faith doesn’t diminish the capacity to do science.

Perhaps the greatest aspect popular culture consumers must be aware of is this: the most flagrant aspects of the science/religion discussion do not speak for the discussion in its entirety. While the debate between religion and science does exist, consumers of popular culture must recognize that the negative, antagonistic tone sometimes carried furthest and highest throughout the media is not true or accurate in all cases. It is not always a war.

In reality, the field of science is diverse, filled with people from many different backgrounds and worldviews. Collaboration between all these different views is what sparks continual conversation and further advancement of bright ideas. Media’s spotlighting of society’s loudest, sometimes most negative voices within the realm of religion and science doesn’t offer the full picture of how science and religion interact daily amongst people. Popular culture ought to reflect society’s diverse attitudes toward the religion and science discussion by portraying the many different ways in which this relationship continues to play out, including instances of opposition as well as compatibility. Debate is “healthy,” as Alexander says, insofar as it gets members of society thinking and collaborating. However, when the image of hostility or war between science and religion displayed in media is considered the whole picture of the story, discussion is stifled. Deliberation has been and continues to be a valuable tool in society’s propagation of new and bright ideas, and this should continue as religion and science continually cross paths.


Learning Moments:

From this class, I learned how we as popular culture consumers are heavily affected by our input of information. In week one, we discussed how the internet can be a tool to filter out viewpoints different from what we’ve been accustomed to.  We can tend to use sites, apps, and modes of media that best fit our views. In order to avoid this narrow influx of knowledge, diversity amongst thinkers and deeper, wider research is important to implement. I think that strongly relates to what my popular culture essay is all about: being aware of the diversity of knowledge regarding the topics that most affect us. Before making a judgment about a big contemporary topic or issue, different sources ought to be considered beyond mainstream headlines in order to gain a more substantial, multifaceted understanding of the situation.

The second lesson I learned from this class is our tendency as pop culture participants to detach a person from their portrayal in media. The excerpt, “Eliminate the Middleman” by Sara Vowell showed how we can create distorted impressions about people based on how they’re covered in the news, all while becoming less aware of their normality. Her work with George W. Bush was most interesting to me, as it shed light back onto the reality that there’s a lot more to people than what media portrays—but strangely, “a lot more” is really just the heart beneath the face on our TV screens. She shows a different side of Bush when she mentions his regular morning habits like drinking coffee and that he loves his dogs. Linking the face with the real person is difficult but important in today’s culture, considering that an extensive amount of interaction is now electronic. The synchronized meeting was a really good way putting this to practice: even on an online interface, it brought more original and lively elements to our discussions, reminding us that behind each of our profiles and screens is a real person.



“Are religion and science incompatible?” Baylor Religion Survey, 2007.

“Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham,” Youtube. Feb 4, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6kgvhG3AkI

Brożek, Bartosz, and Michael Heller. 2015. “Science and Religion in the Kraków School.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science. 50: 194–208.

David Van Biema. “God vs. Science,” TIME. Nov 5, 2006. http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1555132,00.html

Denis Alexander, “Are Science and Religion at War?” Closer to Truth. 2016.

Harold Cronk, God’s Not Dead. 2014. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2528814/

National Geographic, “Creation.” The Story of God with Morgan Freeman. April 24, 2016.

Traveling in the Media


Traveling in the Media

By: Carl Johnson

We see traveling all over the media whether directly or indirectly. Traveling can impact our lives and help shape who we are and how we perceive the world. Media can impact the way we perceive or understand certain places of travel, certain cultures or certain environments. Fictional or non-fictional movies, news articles and documentaries can help promote or demote a place of travel and can be the deciding factor on whether or not someone decides to travel there.

In the movieSecret-Life-of-Walter-Mitty Secret Life of Walter Mitty we see a man who resembles the majority of the working class. Working so much that we often don’t have time to do the things we want so all we can do is daydream about them. Throughout the movie we begin to see a man break out of his comfort zone and develop into a completely different person through his travels. Although his work is the thing that has kept him from traveling it also becomes the thing that motivates him. He traveled the world in order to find a picture that a photographer for Life Magazine had. He travels to cities all over Greenland, Iceland and Denmark. The movie shows culture, nature and the different lifestyles of the people who live there. He is able to experience different cultures, whether and meet new people through his travels.

This movie was actually one of the first major motion pictures knowingly set in Iceland. Although it has been seen in other movies and shows such as Game of Thrones and Thor we often don’t know exactly where these beautiful scenes are shot at. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was the first movie to give insight into Icelandic culture and show exactly where the waterfalls, volcanoes and glaciers are from instead of it just being a background. This movie focuses on the beauty of the landscape and rather than having it as a background element it is actually a major part of the movies story (Hull, 2013).  We also meet a photographer who talks about the beauty of photographing in the places he has traveled and often times elects out in taking a picture because a moment is so beautiful. Traveling helped Walter gain courage, self-worth and a different view of the world that surrounds him. We see his daydreams become a reality.


The Bucket List was another major motion picture revolving around the idea of traveling shaping a person’s life. In this movie we meet two elderly men, Carter Chambers and Edward Cole, who ar58390-51057e unlikely friends find that although the only common attribute they share is there terminal illness they can still gain astrong friendship. They both feel like they have yet to actually live their lives. They adventure to places such as Egypt, France, Italy and China to complete a list they have written before they “kick the bucket.” This was another movie that didn’t just include the scenery as a background but as a major aspect of the movie. Although this movie doesn’t show as many cultures in the places traveled like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty does, they do feature beautiful places to visit that people may not have thought of visiting. This movie teaches us how travel can bring joy and it can make us feel like we have accomplished more in our lives. Not only do they show how travel can fulfill their lives but also how experiencing new things and understanding how another’s life can enrich their lives. This movie also features the journey to finding god and peace. (Breimeier, 2007).

The Bucket List and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty both show how there is more to life than just a job or career. Carter Chambers and Walter Mitty share a common trait; they both have603029b453c952e1aa513b58aaa25a38 worked the majority of their lives and found their fulfillment through work never knowing anything else but their jobs. When they begin to travel due to their circumstances they begin to open their eyes to the purpose of life and the enrichment that their travels can bring to their souls. Although they are in different circumstances they both find courage, self-worth and a different view of the world that surrounds them.

Both movies have shown that there is more to traveling than just sightseeing or
trying new foods. We see that travel can help people gain a sense of self-worth and achievement. It helps people grow and become the people they want to be. Experiencing new cultures and people can help us see a new side to life and help us understand what our true purpose is. They show the life is about growth and self-improvement and that through travel we can gain these important aspects that help us to become a  better individual and benefit those around us.








Diamond, Stephen. “Staring at Sixty: Some Musings About Mortality and the Bucket List.” Psychology Today. 9 Apr. 2009. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.


“Five Life Lessons From The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty.” Wild Sister Magazine RSS. 10 Feb. 2014. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.


Hull, Robert. “Walter Mitty Gives Iceland Its First Leading Role in a Hollywood Blockbuster.” The Gardian. 26 Dec. 2013. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.


Mansaray, David. “The Importance of Travel for Personal Development.” David Mansaray RSS. 8 Feb. 2012. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.


The Average Nerdy Woman


The Average Nerdy Woman

Popular Culture: Looking In The Mirror Essay

Colby Newbold

March 8th, 2015


A nerd is defined as someone whom is awkward and often wears unstylish clothes, or is feverishly interested and devoted into academic interests. When my parents hear the word “nerd” they are reminded of Star Trek and Star Wars, a world of supernatural and space that existed in their time. Both of my parents are in their forties. When I hear the word “nerd”, I think of me: conventions and comic cons, cosplay, fandoms, action figures, and intelligence. The idea of nerd hasn’t necessarily changed, but the way we define it does. What once may have been that weirdo with quirky clothing waiting in line for a movie premiere, now appears as an icon. Sure, nerds still wear quirky clothing, and have a passion for comics and books and fandoms, but they’re no longer “weird”. There are and always will be subcategories of nerds, but when one walks into stores like Macy’s or Hot Topic, nerds are welcomed whole-heartedly into the community with graphic tees representing movies, comics, and vintage sci-fi. Nerds used to be the speed bump in stereotypes, but the new light in the nerd community is women. Women nerds are sexualized in the media, and while they appear awkward or strangely dressed, they are often desired by men. Not all women nerds are sexual by nature, if anything we are the opposite. I have been living within this community since I was roughly nine years old, and in no way has media portrayed us correctly. We are not all the same. We are not all fashionable, nor are all female nerds awkward, but media has decided to portray female nerds as these two stereotypes.

I broke out into the nerd community when my mom first read aloud Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Following, I continued to read chapter book after chapter book, and had swallowed up the words of Bilbo Baggins, Shakespeare, and Huck Finn by the time I was eleven. I was originally what many say is the typical, nerdy girl. Now, the quiet, bookworm has extended its wings to become a full-fledged nerd. In the community of nerds, the social media has focused on the sexualized and bashing of female nerds. In her thesis, Sonnet Robinsons focuses on the portrayal of female nerds in the media, and “the harassment of women both online and in-person and about representation of women in nerd culture” (Robinson, 1). For instance, television portrayed nerds as the glasses-wearing, rolled pants characters of Steve Urkel from the TV show, Family Matters. Now, not only are nerds portrayed much differently from 30-something years ago, women nerds are also highlighted in shows such as The Big Bang Theory, Supernatural, and The Guild. Media has made a step in the right direction by insisting that women nerds do in fact exist-a myth and dream of male nerds whom believed it was impossible they’d ever find someone of the opposite sex with similar interests. Then, in swooped the character Codex of The Guild, a female PC Gamer, who not only spent every free minute of her time in online gaming, but was also attractive. Not only nerds play games, but TV hadn’t seen a female so intensely intrigued by this sub-culture of online gaming, and thus, the female nerd became pretty, skewing the results of female nerds either being extremely attractive, or the Steve Urkel edition.

After the introduction of Codex, many other female characters followed in close pursuit of similar, strong female nerds. Soon after, we were astonished by the addictive TV show, Supernatural. While this is not necessarily a show about nerds, the show premieres certain characters, and in came Charlie. Also played by Felicia Day who portrayed Codex in The Guild, Charlie was a pretty, intelligent computer hacker who helped the two brothers in a few episodes, and became a character who popped up several times. While she helped achieve the brilliance of a female nerd, they decided that it wasn’t enough, and made her literally a character of unreachable levels: Charlie is a lesbian. Dean, the older brother of the show, expressed interest, but was shut down before he even got a chance when she announced her sexual orientation. If we know anything about male culture, woman-on-woman action is sexualized greatly in our media. Pros: women nerds are viewed as intelligent and attractive. Cons: sexualized immensely. To make Charlie even more unreachable, an episode later unveils the world of LARP-Live Action Role Playing- and Charlie is queen, doted on by all, and at the tier of both power and beauty. LARP is commonly tagged onto the nerd community, because it involved costumes, intense obsession with an era study, most people tag LARP on as a stereotypical interest of all nerds. Similar to Charlie is Penny from The Big Bang Theory. Literally the girl next door, she is sought out by all of the men around her. Not entirely a nerd in the classic essence of “unattractive”, she falls victim to the love of comics early on in the show, and later turns into a gamer. Going back to Codex, she is a clean, neat PC gamer, but Penny’s rise to PC Gamer is a slobbery session of multiple, shower-less days with junk food and angry obsession. Not all female nerds are classy and clean cut, but The Big Bang Theory proves that there are two sides to the gamer nerd, and not all pretty nerds stay pretty, nor are they perfect.

Like any other community, there are the outsiders: cosplayers who wear poorly made costumes, larger cosplayers, and what many recognize as the “fake nerd girl”. Because the nerd community was generally built of men, women who appear as fake or unrealistically normal are shut out. Female cosplayers who are simply dressing up as characters they love for fun and not competition are bullied or laughed at. I’ve been laughed at because I bought my jacket instead of sewing it myself. A lot of people think the nerd community is all welcoming, and most of the time it is, but there are people who are harsh and unwilling to accept all people, like other communities and cliques. A sub community of nerd culture involves conventions and comic cons. I have been attending these for 6 years now, and the Northwest has a great selection of them: Kumoricon, Rose City Comic Con, Emerald City Comic Con, and Newcon. It’s part of the convention life to dress up in cosplay, to pretend to be characters that you love and admire. In my six years of attendance, cons have been all about sexy cosplayers, women dressed up as characters in scantily-clad costumes. In an episode of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon, Howard, Raj, and Leonard go to a comic con in L.A, and they dress as Star Trek characters. Their costumes are not sexualized, nor are they tight-fitting. jessica nOn the other hand, in the Sci-Fi TV show, Heroes of Cosplay, the show makes a point to illustrate that famous cosplayers like Jessica Ngiri and Yaya Han are sexual. They wear costumes that are revealing, and make women who are more conservative appear boring and lacking femininity. For instance, the picture above is Jessican Ngiri dressed as Ash Ketchum from Pokemon. ash kOriginally, Ash looks like the bottom picture, but it has become an unspoken “in” to take a character and not only cross-dress, but make it flashier and more appealing.

When I watch shows with sexually appealing characters, I wish we could settle back to the Urkel character. The intelligent, quirky, non-feminine nerd who doesn’t care that she’s awkard or abnormally obsessed with books or subjects of study. The closest to the safe middle ground of appealing and classic nerd is Bernadette of The Big Bang Theory. The loving wife of Howard and a happy doctor of micro-biology, Bernadette is beautiful and radiating, but quirky and intelligent. She is the closest to what real nerd women look and act like-aside from the yelling. She’s fairly feminine compared to most of my friends, but it’s not unrealistic to think that there’s a high percentage of female nerds who are feminine without being sexual or wearing revealing clothing constantly.

I made an online survey that I shared on my personal Facebook page along with the Kumoricon Facebook Group. The two questions and responses are as followed:

Question 1: How are women prominently portrayed in the media?

Answer Choices Responses
Sexual; appealing 42.42%42
Awkward; inept at socialization 47.47%47

Other (please specify)



Question 2: What specific community do you believe is inadequately represented?

Answer Choices Responses
Girl gamers 37.76%37
Dorky nerds(movies, TV, books, comics) 26.53%26
Cosplayers 27.55%27

Other (please specify)



An interesting factor is the people who responded with other. When responding with “other” to the first question, majority wrote “both”, or something along the lines of “awkward but hot”. To the second question, 5 of the 8 who responded with “other” wrote “all of the above”. This survey is by no means accurate, because people chose whether or not they wanted to respond, and obviously a few people could have cared less about my survey as someone responded with “peanut butter” to both of my questions. Kumoricon is an anime convention, and unfortunately, they may not have the same media interests as I do. Over all, I have found that most people find that there’s a general over-sexualized nature in the nerd community by media influences. All superhero women are sexualized by the masks and uniforms you wear. From leather to heavy makeup, and one night stands, our community cannot change unless the world realizes who we truly are. We are not the “fake nerd girl”, and we are not Marvel’s “Blackwidow”. We are nerds, and we choose to show that however we feel fit.





Primary Sources:

Bickley, William, and Michael Warren. Family Matters. ABC. Sept. 1989. Television.

Cronin, Mark, Courtland Cox, and Dave Caplan. Heroes of Cosplay. SyFy. 13 Aug. 2013. Television.

Day, Felicia. The Guild. Youtube. 27 July 2007. Television.

Kripke, Eric. Supernatural. The CW. 13 Sept. 2005. Television.

Lorre, Chuck, and Bill Prady. The Big Bang Theory. CBS. 24 Sept. 2007. Television.

Secondary Sources:

Robbinson, Sonnet. “Fake Geek Girl: The Gender Conflict in Nerd Culture.” Thesis. University of Oregon, 2014. Fake Geek Girl: The Gender Conflict in Nerd Culture. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.




African American Women in Pop Culture


PHOTO: First Lady Michelle Obama addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.,Sept. 4, 2012.

PHOTO: First Lady Michelle Obama addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.,Sept. 4, 2012.

Black women are more empowered today than any other time in U.S. history. From our African American first lady, Michelle Obama to business moguls such as Oprah Winfrey and intellectual scholars like Dambisa Moyo, black women are making a positive impact all across the United States. Unfortunately the popular cultural media hasn’t quite caught up with this progress. In pop culture media African American women are plagued by stereotypes and falsities originating primarily from slavery. For young African American women such as myself, the overwhelming majority of media portrayal, especially in music and film, is of a hyper-sexual being with questionable moral fiber. This negative image of young black women is damaging to our population by implying that in order to be successful in America, we must conform to the image that popular culture presents.

One of the most predominate pop culture media contributions from the black community is rap and hip hop music and their accompanying music videos. These genres of music are wildly popular and reach a wide range of audiences. For many people hip-hop and rap music are their primary exposure to the African American culture. Unfortunately, the message presented to the general public about African American women through this music is very concerning. Young, scantily clad, black women are generalized as money hungry opportunists who are untrustworthy and lack self-respect. It is common to hear these women referred to as “Bitches and Hos”. The documentary Hip-hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes produced by Byron Hurt is a film analysis of the reality vs. perception shown in hip-hop and the negative effects these images have on black culture. In the documentary a professor at Spellman College sums up the root of the problem as this, “One of the disappointing things about videos like “Tip Drill” and the whole genre of music videos is they have taken a view black women or women of color that’s not radically different than 19th century slave holders.” (Hip-hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes)What the professor means by this is that women in music videos are portrayed to be metaphorically bought, sold and traded between men. These are images of one or two men surrounded by women in revealing clothing (like strippers) flocking to the artists because they are throwing money around. The women in these images are shot with multiple men passing these women around, essentially going to the highest bidder.

Sarah Jones, a famous play writer and activist explains that in music videos, “the women conversely are so dime a dozen that they don’t matter and are just eye candy” which is the underlying conclusion which viewers draw from these scenes. At this point you maybe thinking to yourself, “isn’t the sexual objectification of the female form a problem for all women?” And the answer is YES! This is bad for all women however what sets women of color apart is that women of color lack enough portrayals in pop culture media to balance out the negative portrayals. Sut Jhally a professor at the University of Massachusetts explains,


“Hip-hop culture is not separate from the rest of American culture, I mean objectified female bodies and those images are everywhere as well as in advertisement, movies, and TV programs. The really negative thing is that in music videos that is the only way in which, African American women are presented and so the only way in which men are allowed to make a connection in the public culture is through sexuality and their own desires.”(Hip-hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes)


The consequences of this imbalanced portrayal of black in media are numerous. According to the 2010 US Census Bureau around 13% of US residents identify as being black or African American leaving 83% to other races. Many people in the United State have little to no formal contact with African Americans on a regular basis. Many people base what they know about black culture primarily off of the images fed to them by popular culture media. This negative portrayal of black women in Rap music may be accepted as fact by those who have no firsthand knowledge of the true nature of young, black women.

For the black community itself, these images have a profound effect on young women of color. It is easy for many to misguidedly assume that the role they have observed in popular media is their expected path. These young black women feel that in order to receive attention, notoriety and acceptance from their peers, it is necessary to conform. Black women striving for personal success have come to be seen as the exception rather than the rule. And, when the media does portray a young, successful intelligent, black woman, her skin is often several shades lighter than the average African American. This intensifies a longstanding division within the black community and further denigrates those young women whose skin is darker in tone.

One of the may controversial edits done to a L’oreal ad which made Beyonce’s skin appear much lighter.

In many cases the lighter skinned the person, the better portrayal they have in popular culture. This, combined with techniques such as photo editing to make stars like Beyoncé’s skin look lighter, has created a rift in black subculture. Darker skinned females often don’t feel that they are represented in popular culture media at all. They are left feeling ugly and unappreciated. The documentary Dark Girls shares the stories of many women and how they feel their skin color is portrayed in pop culture media today as well as it’s effect on the issues of colorism and internalized racism. “This backlash of racism within our own color is a direct result from slavery. You have your field n*gers and your house n*gers. Women with lighter skin were seen as more presentable and beautiful and therefore were allowed to be in the house.” This a speaker in the movie explains are the same standards under which popular culture media seems to operate today.

Personally, I am appalled by the thought that any person would draw a line between me and popular culture’s portrayal of a black woman. I am always cognizant, especially in the predominantly Caucasian community where I live, that I might be perceived as somehow less upstanding than my white peers. There are times when I wonder whether my personal and academic achievements will take me as far as they would another race of girl or if some ugly, media fueled perception will hold me back. Also, as a light skinned, mixed race female, I am saddened by the isolation I feel from my own culture.

Works cited:

Hip-hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes. Dir. Byron Hurt. PBS, 2006.

Dark Girls. Dir. Bill Duke. 2011.