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Final Thoughts

7 Mar

The topic I focused on this quarter was gender identity.  After analyzing different types of media and the way that they portray gender I noticed that the portrayal of males and females is extremely different.  Males are portrayed as powerful and confident, while women are portrayed as submissive, childlike, and helpless.  The media shows these different portrayals by the types of poses and roles they place men and women.  I found that typically women are shown in childlike positions or poses where they are touching themselves and showing a lot of skin in an attempt to attract the attention of males.  Men on the other hand are shown in powerful or “macho” poses and are never revealing as much skin as women.  Men and women also hold very different roles in movies and television.  Men tend to play the lead roles and the characters that are the decision makers, while the women tend to be the man’s sidekick or support system.

I think that in order to change the stereotypical roles that males and females have now the media needs to change the way in which each gender is portrayed.  This is not a simple task because many people see the way males and females are portrayed now as normal.  If the media were to start placing females in more powerful positions with more clothing on I think that the public would have a much greater reaction because people are so used to seeing women hyper sexualized and put in submissive positions.  Over time I think the media will be forced to start portraying women differently because today more and more women are holding positions of power.

This class opened my eyes and made me realize a lot about the media that I have never given much thought to before.  I now notice myself looking at advertisements, television, and movies differently and analyzing the role gender, race, sexuality, ability, and size play in each type of media.  I also realized how the media does not always give an accurate representation of different cultures and groups and can tend to put a negative spin on cultures they do not fully understand.  Overall this class has made me realize that there are a lot of stereotypes that need to be overcome and hopefully with a greater use of pro-social media this will be possible.

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The Help (2011)

1 Mar

Summary:

The film I watched for this week was The Help.  The Help is about an aspiring journalist named Skeeter who is determined to accurately write about the African American maid’s perspective of her job.  In order to do this Skeeter secretly teams up with a few of the African American maids, Aibileen and Minny.  Minny happens to work for the most racist and harshest housewife, Mrs. Hilly Holbrook.  With help from Aibileen and Minny, Skeeter is able to gather accurate stories from many African American maids and eventually publish them in a top selling book.

Analysis:

Gender plays a large role in the movie The Help.  Skeeter is not like most women in the movie because she wants to become a successful journalist and work outside of the home in a time where the home is believed to be a women’s place.  Skeeter also attended college and is well educated, which is another trait that sets her apart from the other women her age in the movie.  Not only does Skeeter’s education and ambitions make her different from all the other women, she also does not seem to care about her appearance as much as the other women.  The other women in the movie are not only obsessed with their psychical appearance, but also with how nice their house looks, how good their maid is, and how their children act.

The men in the movie although they are not the central focus still play an important role.  The men are the providers who work outside of the home and when they return they expect the household to be neat and tidy with a meal on the table.  The men have the voice and the power in the movie and their wives are there to stand by their side.  In the movie Skeeter breaks this mold when she starts dating Stuart because she does not let him have the power and she speaks her mind.  In the end Stuart cannot handle Skeeter because he does not agree with the book she is trying to publish about the maids and has to end the relationship.  When Stuart was not able to fulfill his role as the powerful man he had to end the relationship because he felt as though his expectations were being violated.

Response:

When I first watched this movie I never realized the gender issues that were present in The Help.  I think that was mostly because the issue of race was more dominant.  I think that this movie does an excellent job showing that just because most people are doing something doesn’t mean you have to jump on the bandwagon and it is okay to be different like Skeeter.

The House Bunny

22 Feb

Summary:

The movie I watched was The House Bunny.  This movie centers on the main character Shelley, who was a playboy bunny until she gets kicked out of the mansion for being too old.  After being kicked out of the mansion Shelley has nowhere to go and stumbles upon a sorority house and while at the sorority house she overhears people talking about an open position for housemother.  Shelley takes the role of housemother at Zeta, the most rundown sorority house and with the least social girls on campus.  Once Shelley becomes housemother at the Zeta house she transforms the girls into attractive socialites, who host the best parties in order to keep the campus from shutting down their sorority.

Analysis:

In the movie The House Bunny a positive message is given in the end, but up until the end of the movie women are portrayed in a negative light.  In the beginning of the movie when the main character Shelley is kicked out of the playboy mansion for being too old it shows how harshly women are critiqued on their age.  Although Shelley was still a very attractive women she was forced to leave the mansion after her birthday because it is unacceptable for women to stay in the mansion after they reach a certain age.

Women are portrayed negatively again when Shelley becomes the housemother of the Zeta chapter and wants to transform them from “ugly” anti-social girls into “beautiful” popular girls.  Below are before and after pictures of the Zeta girls.

house_bunny_before.jpg      house_bunny_after.jpg

Shelley’s version of “beautiful” is similar to the idea the media has about beauty.  She puts the girls in less clothing so that they are showing more skin so that they will be more appealing to men.  This relates to the male gaze, where women are placed on display for the pleasure of men.  The poses the girls have in both pictures are also much different.  In the before picture the girls are laid back and are standing or posed so that they are comfortable with smiles on their faces.  In the after picture the girls are all standing upright and confident with seductive faces.

Response:

The first time I watched this movie I found it very entertaining and did not think about the way it portrayed women.  When watching the movie again and keeping in mind material talked about in lecture, I noticed the movie first sent the message that in order to be popular and well liked girls have to be pretty and wear the perfect outfit, which I found a little upsetting.  Then I realized the movie sent another more important message at the end when the girls from Zeta chapter realize in order to be popular and pretty they just need to be themselves and take some chances.  Overall I think that the movie has a positive message, but the viewers must look a little closer in order to pick it up.

Revenge and King of Queens

15 Feb

Summary:

For the one hour of primetime television I watched Revenge at 10pm on ABC.  Revenge follows the path of main character Emily Thorne who is desperately seeking revenge for her deceased father who was wrongly accused of a crime he did not commit.  In each episode Emily Thorne chooses a new person who wronged her father in someway and takes them down by ruining their success or social life.

For the one hour of cable television I watched two episodes of King of Queens on TBS.  King of Queens is centered on a married couple living in Queens, New York, who go by the names of Doug and Carrie Heffernan.  Doug is an IPS delivery truck driver and Carrie is a legal secretary.

Analysis:

In Revenge the women are portrayed much differently than in King of Queens.  The women in Revenge are “prim and proper” and always say and wear the right thing, whereas Carrie says whatever comes to her mind and dresses for comfort unless she is attending work.  Although the appearances of the women in Revenge and King of Queens differ, they do share some similar behaviors.  The women from both shows are sly and manipulative and will do almost anything to get what they want.  For example in Revenge, Emily Thorne becomes close with Daniel Grayson in an attempt to learn more about the Grayson family to seek vengeance for her father.  In King of Queens, Carrie manipulates Doug with food or leisure time in order to get him to do something she wants.

The men in both shows are also portrayed very differently.  In Revenge the men are wealthy, upper class men who are seen as extremely powerful.  In King of Queens, Doug and his IPS co-workers are middle class men who are not regarded very high in society and are not seen to have much power.  Conrad Grayson, from Revenge will do anything to further his company and devotes the majority of his time to his work, which is very different from Doug who would do almost anything to avoid a day of work.

Revenge and King of Queens show two completely different ways of life and how men and women are seen in each type of lifestyle.  In the upper class society of Revenge, men are powerful and the head of the household, while women are elegant and submissive.  In the middle class society of King of Queens, the men are seen as lazy and comical while the women are seen as responsible and in charge of the household.

Response:

Before this class I never paid much attention to the different roles men and women played on television.  After analyzing these two shows it has become apparent to me how stereotypical male and female roles are.  I think that the way middle class men are portrayed is incorrect because I feel like most middle class men are extremely hard workers and should not be penalized because they do not hold high up positions.

The Lying Game

3 Feb

Summary:

This week I watched The Lying Game on ABC Family.  This show is about twin sisters that were separated at birth when a wealthy family adopted one girl, Sutton, and the other girl, Emma, grew up in the foster care system.  The sisters reunite over the Internet and both desperately want to find their birth mother.  In order to find their birth mother Emma pretends to be Sutton while Sutton goes on a mission to track down their birth mother.

Analysis:

In this show Sutton is always dressed in the latest and most expensive apparel and would not be caught dead wearing anything that was not designer. Emma on the other hand has no money and dose not care about fashion and wears cheap or used clothing.  Throughout the show it is clear that Sutton views Emma as beneath her because she does not possess all the luxuries that she does.  This relates to our class discussions about white trash because Sutton in a way thinks of Emma as white trash because she does not have much money, she wears worn clothing, and she lives in a foster home.  When Sutton and Emma switch places they each take on completely new roles and Sutton is able to get a glimpse of the white trash lifestyle she thinks Emma lives. This could be seen as a class change because in the end Sutton is able to return to her previous role, which is the rich girl with a worry in the world.  Besides showing the difference between the two girls lifestyles the show also gives a somewhat negative portrayal of women.  The show does this by not allowing women to make any decisions on their own, they must always confront their husband, boyfriend, or guy friend before making a final decision.  This is shown especially with Sutton’s mother and father when the mother wants to tell Sutton who her birth mother is, but the father forbids her to do so.  Not only are women not allowed to make decisions they also must have the perfect outfit and hair before leaving their house.

Response:

When I first watched the show I found it very entertaining, but after taking a closer look at the show the more I began to dislike it.  I do not like how the women are not allowed to make their own decisions and must receive approval from a male before taking any action. I do not think that I will watch the show anymore after analyzing it because it will be hard to go back to watching as just entertainment.

Gender in Magazines

27 Jan

Summary:

The three magazines I analyzed were Cosmopolitan, People, and Self.  These three magazines target a strictly female audience so the advertisements and stories in the magazines are topics that pertain to women.  The first magazine Cosmopolitan, focuses on beauty, fashion, and sex advice for women.  The second magazine People, keeps readers up to date on the latest celebrity trends.  The third and final magazine Self, provides workouts and healthy eating ideas for women looking to become fit or stay fit.

Analysis:

As I began to analyze the magazines the first thing I noticed were the covers of each magazine.  All though I analyzed three magazines which each covered different topics the covers were all similar.  Each cover focused on a beautiful woman or on People magazine an attractive man and woman.  The roles that males and females held in the advertisements were the roles that society would define as typical.  The females would be dressed baring large amounts of skin and in posed or child like positions while the men would be shown in dominant or powerful positions.  A lot of the advertisements involving females also tended to cut off the women’s head and parts of their legs leaving only their torso and chest visible.  This tactic was seen in all three magazines and most likely because sex sells and the women’s bodies that were used were attractive.

Response:

When analyzing the magazines and the advertisements I was not surprised by the way males and females were portrayed.  I feel like today sex sells so in order to appeal to consumers advertisers use attractive males and females in whatever way they think consumers will view as most desirable.  Overall I think that the advertisements seen in these three magazines are typical of most advertisements not just in magazines but in all types of media.

Advertising: Male vs. Female

20 Jan

Summary:

This week I watched Revenge again which airs on ABC at 10pm.  The advertisements that ran in between the segments of Revenge varied in products or services being offered and used different techniques to grab the viewer’s attention.  Although there was diversity in the advertisements, cosmetic (L’Oreal and Neutrogena) commercials seemed to be the most prevalent.  The cosmetic advertisements involved a female and the product being promoted.  The next type of advertisement frequently seen involved cars (Nissan and Mazda); these commercials showed predominantly men or sporty cars driving fast with a man’s voice narrating.  Although cosmetic and car advertisements seemed to air the most, there were also a few Wendy’s, Tropicana, H&R Block, and Capital One commercials.

Analysis/Application:

The advertisements that aired in between the segments of Revenge catered to both male and female viewers.  Although there were advertisements for both male and female viewers there were distinct differences in the way that the men and women were portrayed in the commercials. For example the Nissan truck advertisement involves a man performing a daredevil stunt of driving the truck down a steep snow covered mountain while being cheered on by a group of his male friends.  This commercial shows a group of men performing a “macho” stunt and there are no females seen throughout the entire advertisement.  In another car commercial a Mazda is shown driving fast around winding roads and while there are no people present there is a male voice narrating.  When the commercials are trying to portray a product as strong, fast, or reliable, men or male voices tend to be used to create the message.  This is very different from the message than the advertisements where females are the focus.  In the L’Oreal cosmetics commercial Beyonce is shown sitting down wearing a short, low cut dress and using self-touch as she is speaking about the product.  Similar to this advertisement, Neutrogena also uses a female wearing short shorts and a tiny tank top while she is apply the lotion to her legs in a sensual manner that could also be seen as self-touching.  The advertisements with females are used to portray a product as soft and beautifying.

Overall the main difference between males and females in the advertisements is that females are put it positions to look vulnerable and attract the male eye, while males are made out to look strong and in control.  This goes along with not only the views of society but also with the views characters in Revenge have that males are seen as protectors and women are more of the caregivers.  In Revenge the male figures seem to be the ones to protect or save the females characters when they are in trouble or the damsels in distress.  This is clearly shown in the previous episode when Jack and Daniel save the main character Emily Thorne when she is being held a gunpoint.  Emily looked scared and helpless until the men came to her rescue.

Response:

I have seen several of the advertisements before and have never thought anything about the different roles men and women play.  After lectures and class discussions, I noticed there are distinct roles that each gender plays.  I think that women tend to have more sensual roles than men because their bodies are seen as more beautiful and desirable than male bodies.

Revenge and Gender Identity

13 Jan

Summary:

I watched Revenge on ABC at 10pm. Revenge takes place in the Hamptons and centers on the main character Emily Thorne.  Emily Thorne once known as Amanda Clarke, grew up in the Hamptons as a child with her father, until he was taken away for a crime he did not commit.  Emily moves back to the Hamptons seeking revenge for her father. While in the Hamptons Emily carefully executes her plan to bring down all the people involved in framing her father. Grayson Global the company Emily’s father worked for is responsible for her father’s imprisonment and is headed by the Grayson family who reside in the Hamptons. Conrad and Victoria Grayson are the owners of Grayson Global and Emily’s biggest targets. Each week the show unfolds a little bit more about Emily’s troubling past is revealed.

Analysis/Application:

In Revenge, the women have the power although at first glance it may not seem that way because it appears that they are just concerned with hosting prestigious events, but as the show unfolds it is clear that behind each man there is a women calling the shots. Women having the power is nontraditional because in most cases in our culture men have the power. Although the women do have power they must also keep up a feminine image and look their status or represent how much money they have by the clothing and jewelry they wear.  The show benefits women because it shows that women can also hold powerful positions and support themselves just as Emily does.

Response:

I enjoy watching Revenge, because it keeps you guessing about who Emily’s next victim will be. I like how Emily comes off as such an innocent, harmless women, but the more you watch the show the more of her troubled past in revealed. The show keeps you on the edge of your seat because the closer Emily gets to taking down the Grayson’s the bigger the risk of her real identity being revealed becomes.