Archive by Author

Reflections On Racial Identity In Media

9 Mar

This blog has really opened my eyes to the injustices that occur in the media in correlation with racial identity. However, it’s also helped me realize the incredible things that are being done in the media industry to further bring racial awareness and pride to what consumers view, hear, and read. When I read a book, watch a movie, or listen to the radio, I don’t often think about racial stereotypes unless it’s a prominent theme of whatever I’m watching (like in the film Crash). So to become aware of these things as an assignment has been really interesting and has opened my eyes to see certain themes in the things I view even now, after the assignment. I think it’s important for us as humans to be aware of racial identity and the negative and positive aspects it brings in correlation with the media industry because where there is ignorance there is no room for growth, and by eliminating ignorance and taking steps to make more consumers aware of racial issues in media, we can all become more educated and well-rounded citizens.

I’ve really enjoyed this assignment and I think it was extremely beneficial to the class as a whole as it sparked conversation and allowed us to look into things we normally wouldn’t even notice. From now on when I consume media I know I’ll be keeping these theories in mind and be better equipped to understand them in my daily life. Like the penguin Opus in “A Wish For Wings That Work”, above all we must embrace ourselves and those around us for who they are and celebrate diversity in all ways, including through racial identity.

Sucker Punch Sucker-Punched Minorities?

2 Mar

This week I chose to write my blog about the movie Sucker Punch, starring Emily Browning, Jena Malone, Abbie Cornish, and Vanessa Hudgens. Sucker Punch is a film about a young girl called Baby Doll who is put in a mental hospital by her abusive stepfather. She falls into an alternate reality as a result of trying to cope with what’s happening to her, and in this alternate reality she works with fellow patients Sweet Pea, Blondie, Amber, and Rocket to try and escape the hospital. Rocket, Blondie, and Amber all end up dying at the hands of their captors, and in the end Baby Doll sacrifices herself to make it possible for Sweet Pea to escape.

 

This movie doesn’t deal with racial issues in a controversial way, as the plot isn’t centered on a particular racial issue. However, the cast is rather diverse; Blondie is played by Vanessa Hudgens who is Latina, and Amber is played by an asian actress. Sweet Pea, Baby Doll, and Rocket are all white. An interesting point to note is that the people who run the mental institution are all white. This includes the dance instructor and the “warden”. There are actually no black characters, and no Middle Eastern characters at all. I don’t think this was a purposeful move on behalf of the casting directors seeing as racial issues are not a point of discussion throughout the movie, but I think it’s worth noting the irony of white characters in powerful dispositions.

 

Personally, it didn’t bother me initially that African American and Middle Eastern people were underrepresented in the film, but now that I’m writing this blog, it is somewhat unnerving. However, I do give credit to the casting directors for representing strong-willed women who are hispanic and asian. The only issue with this is that all of the main characters (namely Baby Doll, Sweet Pea, and the warden) are white, while the ethnic actors play lesser roles.

Stereotyping And The Missing Link

17 Feb

This week I watched The Office on NBC and Teen Mom 2 on MTV. In The Office, a few characters go to Tallahassee to start a new branch of Sabre stores to expand the company. Notable characters I will be discussing in this blog are Jim, arguably the “main” character on the show, and Stanley, a salesman at Sabre who happens to be African American.

On Teen Mom 2, Leeah and her husband Corey get a divorce and have to cope with passing their twin girls back and forth; Chelsea has to deal with her baby’s father breaking up with her and getting back together with her multiple times; Kailyn deals with cheating on her boyfriend with her baby’s father; and Jenelle tries to get her life in order when she goes to rehab.

 

Teen Mom 2 doesn’t deal with a lot of racial tension, as the teen mothers on the show are all white. However, it’s interesting to note the differences in their actions and speech due to their hometowns and the families they grow up in. Jenelle and Leeah both live in southern states, and so their speech is much more relaxed and drawn out than Chelsea and Kailyn. In addition, Kailyn’s child is half hispanic because his father is hispanic, which could prove difficult for the child if he encounters conflict over that later in his life.

The Office deals with many more racially impacted situations due to the racially diverse cast. This week, Jim spends a large amount of time with Stanley in Tallahassee. Stanley spends his time in Florida “living the dream” by renting a sports car and wearing tropical shirts while the characters go about their business. Stanley is typically a high-strung character who gets angry easily but he’s much more relaxed and seems to be in vacation mode in this particular episode. Throughout the series he embodies the stereotype of the large, lazy, grumpy black man, and in this episode he is a more relaxed, albeit still lazy, Stanley.

 

Normally stereotyping an African American as the fat, lazy person would piss me off, but I think the Office does a tasteful job of poking fun at this particular stereotype among the others on the show. While the characters do encounter conflict based on race, the characters are very attainable and real to the viewer and so it doesn’t feel as contrived as it does on shows like Glee, which I highlighted in a previous blog post.

In addition, I find it a bit alarming that of the ten or so young ladies that appear on each season of 16 and Pregnant, the producers for Teen Mom 2 chose the four white girls to be on Teen Mom 2. Where is the racial diversity here? It’s incredibly lacking and upsettingly so.

Sassy Latinas.

3 Feb

This week I watched Glee on Tuesday night at 8pm. There are a number of racial minorities present in the show, including african americans, asians, hispanic students, and even a foreign exchange student, although he’s from Ireland and by any standards, is white. This week the cast was doing a tribute to Michael Jackson, so the glee kids sing and dance to a number of his songs while dealing with their own personal issues, like a rival glee club that tries to intimidate them into losing in an upcoming competition.

 

Like I said, there are a number of racial minorities in the show, but the group that I want to focus on in this blog post is hispanics. Hispanic women especially tend to be stereotyped as sassy, vibrant, loud, sexual, and dramatic in television and movies, and Glee feeds right into this stereotype. Santana, a senior cheerleader at William McKinley High School and a member of the glee club, gets into a fight with the leader of a rival glee team from another school. Writers chose the song “Bad” for this rivalry, with a scene in a parking garage where the two glee clubs duke it out through song and dance. Santana ends up being the leader of this forray, and through the rest of the episode she continues to have it out with the leader of the other glee team, in her sassy, Latina way. All the while, she’s wearing short skirts and making references to “Lima Heights Adjacent”, which on the show is a “rough and tough” part of town. She yells things in Spanish for seemingly no reason, and multiple references are made about her “relatives in jail”. This stereotype has clearly been taken to the limit through Glee.

 

Now that I’m really thinking about it, it makes me angry. I love Glee and watch it every week, but lately they’re really starting to subject minorities to stereotyping, such as an episode called “Asian F” in which an asian student gets an A- and his father is extremely upset. It’s so easy to pick these stereotypes out that my Chinese roommate was actually really angry about the asian episode because of the stereotyping in it. I think we get the point, Santana is a sassy Latina, but do they really have to take it so far into borderline offensive material?

White Skin, Blonde Hair.

28 Jan

The three magazines I chose to evaluate for this blog are Cosmopolitan Magazine, Elle Magazine, and Seventeen Magazine. I chose these three magazines for a number of reasons: First, they are all geared directly for women, and as a woman I felt I could draw the most from these in terms of experience. Second, I chose a magazine designed for young women under the age of 35 roughly, and all three of these magazines have been prominent in my life at one point or another. Cosmopolitan Magazine is a sex, beauty, and lifestyle magazine for young professional women, geared towards those who are unmarried and have exciting social lives. Elle Magazine is mainly a fashion magazine for young professional women and offers advice on high-end, current fashion trends with some lifestyle pieces also in the mix. Seventeen Magazine is different from both of these in that it is geared towards younger girls, primarily teens, with beauty advice and lifestyle articles to help them navigate teen-hood.

 

The first item I want to touch on is skincare. All three of these magazines have sections specifically for skincare, and all three are relatively similar in their articles where race is concerned. Articles that are centered around skincare products like exfoliators, face wash, and SPF protectants all feature white or European skin types as their primary focus. For example, there are different sections that offer specific products for “oily or dry” skin etc., but the photos that accompany them are of white women. There are no articles in any three magazines specifically geared towards African American, Asian or Middle Eastern skin types, and these skin types are also missing from any photos. The areas where ethnicities are shown are in the articles on makeup, with bright, vibrant and bold colors being shown in particular on black and asian women, and more natural colors being shown on white women. The advertisements for skin care, of which there are many in all three magazines, feature these same sort of “guidelines”: Mainly, advertisements for face wash, protectants, etc. feature white or light skinned women while makeup advertisements are more diverse, but with black and asian women sporting the more bold, colorful trends and white women displaying the more natural tones. In addition, there are many hair articles that have tips on how to do different hairstyles; for example, Seventeen magazine offers an article each month showing different hairstyles for everyday of the week. However, in all three magazines, there is rarely an article on how to specifically style black, asian, or middle eastern hair types; the hair featured in the articles is primarily blonde or easy to work with. As any middle eastern or black woman knows, more ethnically inclined hair types can be quite unruly to work with.

 

I’ve never really noticed the racial tendencies in skin and hair advertisements and articles until I wrote this blog, and now I’m really glad I chose to look more closely. I think it’s rather unfair how hair and skin types are portrayed in women’s magazines, because as an Armenian girl I definitely struggle with my hair in ways that these magazines don’t even touch on. In addition, it would widen the markets of these magazines if they included articles for different racial skin and hair types, because they would gain a wider readership and also be able to sell more ad space for products geared towards these specific hair and skin types. I went on the websites for these magazines as well, and was discouraged to find that most of the photos of women were of white skin and blonde hair, specifically in Elle Magazine (of which a picture is included in this blog).

The Golden Rule… I Mean, Tan.

14 Jan

Summary: For this blog, I watched Jersey Shore on Thursday, January 12 at 10pm on MTV. This episode revolved mostly around the Jersey Shore housemates getting back into the groove of partying, drinking, sleeping, and of course, tanning excessively. Housemate Vinny decides he misses home, so he leaves the shore house to be with his family in Long Island, leaving all of the housemates in sadness. The crew goes partying, and as usual Snooki makes her boyfriend Jionni upset with her crazy bare-all dancing style. One of the main themes, which is the inspiration for this blog post, revolves around Pauly D tanning so excessively that he accidentally gets burnt on his face, and has to walk around with red cheeks for most of the episode, which serves as a constant point of embarrassment for him.

Analysis: The main point I want to focus on in this blog is the issue of Pauly D tanning to the point of burning himself. Although Italian-Americans are considered white, there is definitely an underground “race” in New Jersey known as “guidos” and “guidettes”. Those who go by these monikers typically have dark hair that is styled in specific ways, have muscles, and of course, are incredibly tan. The Jersey Shore cast spent three months in Italy where tanning beds aren’t commonly used, and gyms are fewer between. As a result they came back to the United States with “pale skin”, which would be tan by anyone else’s standards, and less jacked arms. They all find themselves outsiders in Seaside because they become the minority there, here meaning, not super tan/buff versions of themselves. The first thing they do when they get back is hit the gym and the tanning beds to get themselves back in shape and recreate the “Jersey Shore guido/guidette” look that they are so well known for. In his haste to become tan, Pauly D hits the tanning beds one too many times and ends up burning his face on accident, which causes him to peel and feel embarrassed for the rest of the episode, seeing as it’s laughable to be too pale but also to be burnt among the guidos and guidettes of Jersey. Thus the entire cast, and most prominently Pauly D, experience what it’s like to feel like an outcast by not abiding by the racial “rules” of their chosen lifestyle, and as we know they try extremely hard to get back into the circle.

Response: Although I do think Jersey Shore is a ridiculous show, I admit that I watch it every Thursday and happen to enjoy it. I think the most interesting thing to me in this blog post was realizing the intense pressures of being racially “correct” in the space a person chooses to belong to. Multiple times, the Jersey Shore cast was made fun of because of their pale skin tones when they got back to the shore, so much so that Pauly D excessively tanned to try to speed up the process. But then even after he became tan again, his face was red and peeling from the burn, and again he was mocked because he clearly wasn’t groomed right according to Seaside standards.