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Final Reflection

3 Dec

Before I took Media & Identity I had taken a view other identity classes in college about pop culture and media effects on our society – one course that I took at Miami University was very similar to this one. Classes before this one had challenged my perspective but I think this course was still different with showing more real examples of how media shapes our society.

I think this course made me think differently about some new perspectives, and other topics we discussed I would sort of disagree with. When discussing the ratio of races in America compared to the ratio of races on TV made it very clear to me that media can shape society into thinking certain ways. I also really noticed that the media really plays up to certain stereotypes, like the smart Asian friend, the hotheaded Latino (Glee is the perfect example of stereotypes by the way). But at the same time I feel like even though I noticed that media was portraying society this way, I didn’t think that way. I knew that not all Asians were ‘stereotypically smart’ and that not all Latinos want to start a fight. I realized that TV was TV, movies were movies and I wasn’t going to judge society based off what I had watched.

I think that from a young age that I always knew that movies and TV were here for entertainment value. In my past media/society classes we often discussed Disney and how Disney has had a negative effect on people to which I have always disagreed. These are movies, I feel like I was just a super child or something for knowing that these were movies and that my life was not like a princess. I feel like I had the same view in this class, that yes I can identify the problems with our media in society but I also understood that it was just a show or a film and to not let it give me false assumptions about life.

Overall I did enjoy this class – it made me think outside of my normal box and did challenge my views.

HeForShe

25 Nov

One current campaign that I have noticed going on is the ‘He for She’ campaign. This was all first brought to my attention via Facebook and due to Emma Watson’s participation at these events. ‘He for She’ is a movement about gender equality. On their page they explain how women’s rights used to be fought for by just woman, and now men are getting involved to back woman and to back women’s rights.

A big part of the ‘He for She’ campaign is giving a new and different narrative to gender norms. I recently watched a speech that Emma Watson gave and she mentioned how men are told to be strong and tough and to never show weakness. ‘He for She’ is supporting all gender equality, for both men and woman and showing that it is okay to display any emotion regardless of sex.

In class discussion we talked a lot about gender roles and discussed how media portrays women as weak and frail and men as being strong and tough. Gender display, which is a concept we talked about in class, is also something that ‘He for She’ talks about and changing the existing narrative that is made for men and women who don’t fit the ‘norm’. I think explaining how media portrays men and women can help show what we need to society should treat the subject and that not everyone is like what they see in the movies or on TV and that anything is acceptable.

So far I think this campaign is very successful, clearly since I know that the campaign reached Facebook and Buzzfeed, which are two huge outlets that get information to young people. I think the strategy of getting a very young famous person to speak definitely helped boost their campaign and catch a lot of people’s attention.

Overall I think pro social media is a great thing if it can be effective in a long term standing. I think the concepts addressed in the ‘He for She’ campaign are very prevalent in today’s society and it brings awareness and gets people talking about these issues that need to be addressed.

http://www.heforshe.org

Gleeks

26 Oct

One of my favorite TV shows from the past few years has been Ryan Murphy’s Glee. As a former choir member and an awkward person in general, Glee had always appealed to me. Glee is on FOX at 8/9 o’clock and has been on since 2010.

Glee follows an Ohio show choir called the ‘New Directions’ and is run by an ex show choir member, Mr. Shuester, and is basically an underdog story; the awkward geeks combined with some of the popular jocks and cheerleaders and come together to make one kick ass show choir. While I have always favored the shows lead character, Rachel Berry (which I am convinced is based off myself) I am going to focus on another show favorite, Quinn Fabray and her role within the first season of the show.

In season one Quinn is introduced as the popular, pretty head cheerleader who is dating the popular and hot football player. She is shown being very mean to the awkward Rachel Berry who is in love with Quinn’s football boyfriend, Finn. While Quinn may seem like the stereotypical ‘mean popular cheerleader’ her character is a bit more complicated. Quinn is a very loyal Christian and always preaches abstinence to her boyfriend, Finn and vows to stay a virgin till marriage. She is even the president of the celibacy club where students come together and vow to stay pure together. Within the first few episodes of season one and seeing Quinn’s very Christian’s view, you learn that she is pregnant, and the father is her boyfriend’s best friend Puck. Throughout season one you see Quinn struggle with being pregnant in high school, going from popular head cheerleader to a loser and apart of the glee club (which was, at first, seen as the lowest social group to be in). She gives birth to her daughter at the end of season one and within the follow seasons Quinn’s character develops into trying to stay true to her Christian views as well as understanding who she is as a person.

Within Rendleman’s “Images of Evangelicals” he mentions numerous times that Christians are often portrayed as hypnotics and say one thing and then act upon the opposite and I think Glee shows this theory within the character of Quinn. You met Quinn and see her very pronounced religious views and then you learn that she is pregnant, breaking the vow that she mentions at least once in very episode. You also learn that she got pregnant, not from her boyfriend, but instead that she cheating on him with his own best friend. I think that Glee shows that hypocritical character very well in Quinn’s character; they show the material in a real way without becoming too crash on the subject. Quinn’s character development throughout the show’s six season is arguably one of the most drastic and dynamic, showing that she has multiple layers.

One interesting thing that I think Glee does in a unique way is that they show a very stereotypical character (examples: Finn is the dumb jock, Quinn is a hypocritical Christian, Kurt is a flamboyant gay male, Rachel is a closeted diva, Britney is a dumb blonde, Santana is the hot headed Latino) and they show that they are much more than their stereotype. Sure, their stereotype makes them who they are, but it shows that they are much more than that and it takes a controversial topic and turns it into a real conversation.

My Wife & Kids

17 Oct

I honestly hate saying this, because it is making all the stereotypes about race in our culture and society true, but it took me a while to think of a TV show with a predominately non-white cast and I had to think back to shows that I watched when I was younger. The first show that came to mind that I watched the most often was My Wife & Kids starring Damon Wayans and Tisha Campbell-Martin. The summary of the show, from IMDB.com is “Michael Kyle longs for a traditional life, but his day-trader wife Janet, gangsta rap-worshipping son Michael Jr., and brooding daughters Claire and Kady make his dream just that … a dream”.

I think the fact that it took me a while to think of a show that fits into a non-white category really shows that there is not enough diversity within out culture’s prime time television, even today. I always like using Scandal was an example but African Americas do not make up most of the cast on that show. I don’t even remember what cable channel My Wife and Kids were on (granted, I was much younger and didn’t pay attention to any channels except channel 28 which was Nickelodeon). I had to look up that this show was on ABC and I mainly watched this show when I was around 11-12 years old. At that time I didn’t think any differently of this show compared to the other live action shows that I would watch (like the OC at that time). Also, I don’t really remember any white characters on the show – this may be due to the fact that I watched this show ten years ago or that no white character stuck out in my mind. I do feel though that any characters that are white within this show will have ‘the man’ stereotype to them since the white characters in the show had higher positions jobs or situations.

The character that I will analyze is Michael who is the father of the family – he has a very similar role to Bill Cosby and other fathers in predominately black TV sitcoms. Remembering back to the show I know that Michael and his wife had been married since they were 17 or 18 years old due to the fact that they were pregnant with their first son. I thought that this was an interesting choice to give these characters as a backstory – seeing that teenage pregnancy is something that is commonly frowned upon. Throughout the series he always tries to do the best and provide the best for his two children and the show is mainly about common family struggles. I relate to this character in a way of just trying to provide the best support to those around me.

Gladiators

6 Oct

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Ah, Scandal. My go to favorite TV show to talk about. Scandal is an ABC show on Thursday nights at 9pm and has just started their fourth season. According to IMDB.com, “When you get into trouble there’s only one person to call, Olivia Pope. Olivia is a professional ‘fixer’ who makes problems go away before anyone even knows they exist. For the moneyed, the powerful and even the President, Olivia is a legend in her field. Her spectacular success is mostly due to her unbreakable rule of always trust your gut. No matter how careful you are, when you do damage control for a living, you’re bound to cause some damage to your own life. She and her crew eat, sleep, live and breathe crisis. Each week, as the team races against the clock to defuse intriguing new problems before they become full-blown disasters, they also have to deal with their own personal issues. They may call themselves ‘gladiators in suits’, but little by little, Olivia and her crew begin to reveal the chinks in their armor,” this is a summary of Scandal.

Olivia Pope is Scandal. Played by the wonderful Kerry Washington, the show and the characters, including the President, revolve around Washington’s character, Pope. Kerry Washington has also made history with this role. Washington is second black female lead to be the lead in a prime time TV series. The first black female lead was in 1971. Within the article, Why Network TV Still Stars White Americans, they explain how often stereotypical characters are placed into network shows and I think that Scandal, and it’s creators, have done a fantastic job at breaking the mold and casting a strong black female lead for Scandal.

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Within the world of Scandal, Olivia Pope, as stated, is legend. She is an extremely strong and powerful woman within the political world of Washington D.C. One of my favorite things about Olivia Pope is that she never has had to prove herself. Looking at the hierarchy of our society, white males hold the post power, especially when it comes to politics, and Olivia Pope is the exact opposite, yet she never had to prove herself. No one has ever questioned Olivia Pope and her ability to do her job. The President often goes to get lengths to see that Olivia Pope is the one handling things within the White House and his personal life. I like that Olivia breaks the stereotypical role. Even one of her other ‘gladiators’, Harrison, is another black character, and like Olivia, he doesn’t have to prove himself to clients.

Yet, later on in the show of Scandal, in season 3, you meet Olivia Pope’s dad, Eli Pope. He has mentioned a few times to Olivia about how hard they have had to work due to the fact that they are black. He has stated that since Olivia was little he always told her that she had to work twice as hard to get the same things in life. Eli made sure that Olivia went to the best boarding schools and attended the best colleges to be at everyone else’s level. I think it was interesting that the only one to really point out Olivia’s race was her own father since he is talking about experience.

I can easily relate to Olivia Pope, other than the fact that we share the same name, but that I feel like sometimes I have to work twice as hard to get equality being a female. I know class is irrelevant mainly in Scandal but within my own life growing up in Mason which was a very wealthy area and being a lower middle class family was another difficult obstacle within itself. That is how I can relate to Olivia Pope.

Scandal

25 Sep

The show Scandal, which is on ABC on Thursday nights at 9 o’clock, is a drama series about ‘fixer’ Olivia Pope and her team of gladiators all revolving around fixing crisis situations ranging from sex scandals to presidential campaigns. I am obsessed with Scandal and the character of Olivia Pope, but my focus when taking about class is the character of Huck, who is a pretty mysterious character to the audience until a detailed back-story episode late in season 2.

Huck is Olivia Pope’s IT guy – he can hack into anything and do fancy computer things that Liv doesn’t understand. You later realize that he is an ex black ops assassin for a special government military group yet a lot of the times before you realize these things you see flash backs of Huck as a homeless person, sitting on the street or in the subway, and only the goddess gladiator herself Olivia Pope came to his rescue and slowly but surely gets him out of the homeless life. Yet, my focus on those few short times when you do see Huck and how everyone reacts around him. During one episode, in a flashback, Olivia is assembling all her future gladiators, Abby, Harrison and Huck, at a diner. Abby and Harrison are both discussed just at the sight let alone smell of Huck because everything about him is so severely unpleasant. All they see at this point is a bum of a homeless man who needs to pick himself up.

I think it is very interested how they portrayed Huck in the beginning of the show when the audience, and the characters, were unaware of his backstory. The audience and characters can so easily and quickly make assumptions about Huck without knowing the extreme reasons as to why he is homeless and what he went through (Huck was left in a literal hole for an extreme amount of time, months, I think, until he started to believe that his wife and son were not real, so he was extremely emotionally, mentally and physically abused).

I think the show unintentionally let the audience and characters make their own assumptions about Huck at first and then showed that not every poor, homeless person’s story is the same. I think Scandal was guilty of playing to a stereotype of a character, “In this research, we test the hypothesis that the media portray poor people inaccurately and stereotypically” (Poverty As We Know It), yet later on into the show they go back and explain that his character is not stereotypical at all and that you cannot assume that all homeless and poor people are the same.

Caskett

15 Sep

ABC’s Castle (one of my all time favorite shows) is a comedy/drama about a murder mystery novelist, Richard Castle (played by the gorgeous Nathan Fillion) and his partnership with NYPD’s homicide detective Kate Beckett (played by Stana Katic). Within Castle the depiction of woman varies, yet Castle makes a point to have their female lead be a strong, independent woman while having a contrasting male lead.

Within the first few minutes of the show’s pilot episode you get an idea of who Richard Castle is – a famous mystery novelist who is rich, handsome and somewhat of a playboy. Castle does make a point to show off a more humble side of Richard right away by introducing his teenage daughter, Alexis, to show that he is not all about sleeping around. Once Richard Castle is introduced you also meet Beckett, a strong, to-the-books homicide detective who meets Richard and thinks that he is just another cocky jerk who is there to mess with her. After the pilot episode Richard starts a partnership with Beckett and beings assisting her on murder cases and their ever so interesting relationship (not romantic at first) beings.

I was always drawn to the character of Beckett because of how she was such a strong female lead character (this is several years before Olivia Pope was introduced to the world). Throughout the series you see Richard Castle with numerous woman, all of whom look like super models and they are just there more as arm candy to him. Castle also has two ex-wives, one of them being his publisher, who is shown in a bossy, demanding way (not a way a wife should be), and Castle’s other ex wife is Alexis’ crazy, childish mother who wants to do nothing but shopping. Both ex-wives are ex-wives for a reason. One is too pushy, too bossy, too much work – something that Richard didn’t want in a wife. His other ex-wife was too crazy, too wild and always wanting to spend money, another irresponsible choice for a wife. The other women around Castle are pointless really, you never hear their names and they are portrayed as airheads. I liked that Beckett was very different; she was tough, she was hard. Her clothes, her hair all represented that – she was very business orientated compared to Castle’s boyish ways, she made her attracted to him. In the first season Beckett’s hair was very short, low maintanence and never was distracting. She had plain ‘cops’ clothes that looked somewhat gender neutral. She was just plain tough.

Beckett also had a backstory as to why she was a cop and why she never seemed to be so close to others (her mother was murder and the killer was never caught – as you later learn). Castle enjoys hearing this more human side of Beckett and over the seasons of watching Castle you can easily see Beckett transform from hard ass cop to a softer character but never without losing her strength and her power. Sure, her hair becomes long and flowy and her clothes become slightly more colorful and feminine but all still are relevant in her cop world. She is not out wearing dresses and ditching her job to become more lady-like. She does not change who she is, she just simply opens up more.

I think ABC and the writers of Castle did an amazing job of transforming Beckett throughout the show. She was a great contrast compared to the other woman in the show and was never dull. Her solid character is not something normally shown in prime time TV especially by them having an opposite male lead (even though at first Castle is more of a playboy you really learn that he is a giant goof ball who doesn’t take anything seriously and is more on the feminine side compared to Beckett’s hard masculine role). The show Castle does a great job is showing that both personalities are perfectly acceptable. Numerous times Castle screams like a girl because something scares him and Beckett just laughs, it is not seen as him being too wimpy or not man enough. Beckett’s more masculine and hard cop role is not seen as her being out of place, but more of her just doing her job – it is not even questioned.

Castle breaks the stereotypes that woman have to fit into their role and men into theirs. Yes, the show did have some stereotypical roles, such as the ex-wives of Castle and the random girls he had, but they were in place to show how unique Beckett was, and Beckett’s uniqueness showed off Castle’s quirky side. Within the article by Oliver, Banjo and Kim there are several explanations on how society sees male and female roles in advertisements and in the media but I like how Castle played against these stereotypes.

Blog Post #1 – Olivia Berry

3 Sep

I feel like thus far my opinion of mass media and how I interpret their messages are not very different from what I already believe. I have taken several classes about media and how our cultural views shape our ideals and ideologies, so I understand how media can be very impressionable. I also understand how others see media messages are just pure entertainment and nothing more. I believe I am a bit of both. I do believe that our media plays a huge role in our ideologies but I think it an important thing to keep in mind is to stay true to your own morals and values (example – just because a music video is degrading women does not mean that it is acceptable for you to do so – basically know what is right and what is wrong regardless of what YouTube and Facebook are telling you).

 

In the article “Situation Oneself in a Radicalized World” by Kinefuchi & Orbe, a few paragraphs in they explain how different races view the topic of race. Those of European/American decent are sometimes afraid to bring up a topic of race because they are afraid that they will be seen as racist while people of color see topics and issues with race as a form of discrimination.

 

That paragraph reminds me of our class discussion about the Taylor Swift “Shake it Off” video and other comments regarding the Nicki Minaj “Anaconda” video. I personally did not see anything wrong with Taylor Swift’s video and at the time of the class discussion I was not familiar with the Nicki Minaj video. This evening before writing this post I watched both videos back to back. Even now, I would be afraid to speak up in class and state that I think the Nicki Minaj video is a worse video based on its depiction of a woman’s body because I would be afraid that I would be viewed as racist since I am white speaking about someone of color. I also think that it is interesting that I feel this way, yet, woman of color were commenting about Taylor Swift. I feel like there is often a double standard that happens in discussions in classrooms and across medias. I don’t think either artists were meaning for these videos to be looked at in a racial way, but just based off comments and posts that I’ve seen online since the videos have been out, I think that it has turned into a racial discussion.