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Reflection Blog

9 Mar

For this Media and Identity blog assignment, I decided to closely follow and study Class Identity in media. It proved to be a very rewarding and enlightening study, because I learned a lot about how different classes can relate or disagree in certain situations shown through media. Through ideological analysis, I was able to see and differentiate different class struggles through watching TV shows like ‘Revenge’ and ‘The Office’, movies like ‘The Horde’ and ‘Tower Heist’ and magazine advertisements. I found there to be a lot of intersectionality involved in class identity, meaning that there is usually another classification struggle like gender identity or racial identity. For the most part, when class identity stereotypes are challenged, it results in some pretty interesting entertainment. For the poorer class representation in media, it usually results in the stereotype of being less intelligent or having more struggle in their lives, and they in turn feel sorry for the more privileged class, because their lives come with an entirely different set of problems. In order for class identity to change, there will need to be shows and movies and advertisements that push the boundaries of who represents what class.

Overall, I enjoyed this blog and pushing myself to find new distinctions in a topic I had to discuss for 8 weeks. It helped me to look at these shows in a new thought-provoking way, and I will most likely continue to look for these distinctions in future shows I watch.

Tower Heist

2 Mar

Summary

I watched the movie ‘Tower Heist’ starring Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Tea Leoni and Gabourey Sidibe this week with some friends. The movie starts out following Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) as the manager of a high end residential apartment complex in New York City. He is the kind of manager who knows all the tenants by their first name, as well as the little things that help to make their lives easier. He really values his relationships with the tenants, especially his relationship with Arthur Shaw, a big time financier. One day, Shaw gets arrested by the FBI for fraud. Initially, Josh thinks it’s a mistake, but upon further investigation, he realizes the employee pensions’ that Josh asked Mr. Shaw to handle, are gone. Thus ensues a very funny plot surrounding a motley crew of characters as they attempt to steal back their pensions from Mr. Shaw.

Analysis/Application

In this movie, you are dealing with people of all walks of life. You have the main character Josh, who has lived a very straightforward life, and lives his life by the book. On the other end of the spectrum, you have Slide (Eddie Murphy) who is a criminal Josh knows from childhood. The group enlists Slide to help them think like criminals, and so they have someone on their team who actually has experience stealing something. The rest of the group is made up of other employees at the tower building and Josh’s brother. You also have Mr. Shaw, who is the quintessential form of a hegemonic, old, very rich, white male. It’s an interesting turn on who is deemed the “bad guy” in this film. Usually, the people stealing are labeled the bad guys, but in this case, it’s more of a Robin Hood scenario. They are stealing what’s rightfully theirs, and Mr. Shaw (the rich, white male) is the bad guy. The movie also shows a lot of how different classes interact with one another through the funny situations they get themselves into, and how the different members of the group react.

Response

This movie was very funny and entertaining, but I enjoyed the underlying messages revolving around class identity and the sort of “flip” the character roles took compared to the usual stereotyped roles. It was interesting that they had an old, rich white male play the bad guy, and a band of unlikely people bond together to become friends and the protagonists in the movie. There was a lot of intersectionality involved as well because out of the two female leads, one was a blond haired, blue eyed tough as nails CIA agent (Tea Leoni) and the other was a heavyset, energetically hilarious black maid who worked at the Tower (Gabourey Sidibe). Both very strong female roles that bent the stereotyped rules a little bit.

The Horde

24 Feb

Summary

For this week’s blog assignment, I decided to watch and analyze the movie The Horde. The Horde is a fictional film made in 2009 featuring a cast made up of gangsters, cops and zombies. The movie starts off with a taste of revenge, showing the cops we follow at a funeral for a fellow cop and making plans to go ambush the gangsters who killed him. During their surprise attack, they are foiled by a loud landlord and the gangsters are able to suppress the attack and take the cops as prisoners. While they are interrogating and torturing the cops, a zombie apocalypse breaks out. The group doesn’t realize until it’s almost too late, and they are able to escape to the roof of the apartment building, where they have a clear vision of everything that has occurred. Here, they realize that if they are going to have any chance of making it out alive, they will have to join forces and combine their manpower. Thus ensues a classic zombie film filled with blood and gore, but also with an interesting combination of people relying on basic survival instinct to survive.

Analysis

This film is a zombie movie, so it contains a lot of scenes that are dominated by gore and blood and violence. But, this movie has a strong underlying plot that revolves around class distinctions and how that can immediately go out the window when basic human survival kicks in. We first see class identity at the very beginning, when there are clearly two different identities; cops and gangsters. They are very clearly distinguished by their demeanor and loyalties. Then, when all life is threatened and they team up, that distinction goes right out the door, except for strained occasions within the group. The leader of the cops and the leader of the gangsters are the most calm throughout the movie, I believe because they feel a sense of camaraderie with one another because they both identify as leaders. The different class identities also comes into play in one particular scene, when the group is separated by a zombie attack, and the two groups go their separate way except for one of the cops who gets situated with the gangsters. He is excluded and mocked. Then, at the very end, there are two survivors. Aurore and Ade, a cop and a gangster. Aurore ends up shooting Ade for what he did to their friend at the very beginning of the movie.

Response

I really enjoyed this movie. While it was a scary movie with zombies, I really paid attention to the plot because of the strain of the relationships and how it caused everyone to find common ground. It asked for people to protect others that they normally wouldn’t under any other circumstances. It also showed a lot of true colors between the groups, it was ironic in the end who could be depended on and who could not. The class identity differences in this movie were extreme, but they blended under extreme circumstances

Week 5

20 Feb

Summary

I watched The Office on Thursday on NBC at 9pm and I also watched Friends on Friday at 4pm on TBS. This week’s The Office episode showed Dwight given the task of assembling a team to go to Tallahassee and work with Sabre to develop their new retail chain stores. He decides to take Jim, Ryan, Stanley, Erin, and new office temp Kathy. Jim plays a hilarious prank on Dwight at the hotel, and it is revealed that Kathy wants to try and seduce Jim while they are in Florida. During the initial meeting with the other Sabre representatives, it is discovered that Dwight has appendicitis, and must get an emergency surgery. During the Friends episode I watched, we are introduced to Phoebe’s little brother, and his new fiance who used to be his high school home economics teacher. Phoebe asks Chandler, Ross and Joey to help talk him out of the idea, because she doesn’t feel that it would be good for her brother to enter a relationship with this woman.

Analysis

In The Office, the group is in Tallahassee and they are reunited with Packer, Michael’s old friend that Jim and Dwight thought they had gotten rid of. It turns out, that Packer is the front runner in Nellie’s quest to find a Vice President to work under her. This is an interesting look at class identity, because by normal standards Packer is a vile and crude person that most people do not enjoy working with, yet he is the lead candidate for a very high up, important position. Also, there is a moment where Nellie asks Jim to help her pull a projection screen down from the ceiling, and she points to Ryan (who is a shorter man) and teases him for his height saying he would look like a little boy trying to pull the screen down. Ryan is the only one in the office who went to business school and actually worked at corporate for a little while, yet he is treated as less than by Nellie because of his stature. In the Friends episode, it’s interesting that Phoebe doesn’t want her brother to marry his old high school home ec. teacher because of her age, when if you take age out of the equation, she is a successful, educated, well-rounded individual who loves her brother.

Response

I think both of these shows I watched showed interesting depictions of class identity issues because it showed that class is determined by many factors, most importantly the perception of others. And while you can have your own perception of yourself and your standing, it is shaped by the perception of others .I loved both of these episodes and found them to be thought provoking, while still very much entertaining. Intersectionality played a big factor in both of these episodes as well.

Class Identity situations in The Office

3 Feb

Summary

I decided to watch this weeks episode of  “The Office” to see if there were any examples of class identity issues explicitly addressed. The Office is on NBC on Thursday’s at pm. The characters involved on this show come from a variety of backgrounds with many different ethnicities. You have Jim and Pam, a white middle-level income couple who both work in the office as sales people. The other main characters I’ll discuss in this blog posting are Dwight, Stanley, Andy and Angela. In this episode, Jim returns from a week of jury duty and Angela has her baby. The coworkers start to grill Jim about his time spent at jury duty,even though he didn’t actually have to go and he just spent the majority of his time at home. Angela doesn’t want her coworkers to see her premature baby.

 

Analysis

This week’s episode didn’t have a ton of specific class differences, but we can tell that all of these people are middle class citizens. They all work at a regional paper supply company as sales people, HR, customer service, warehouse and accounting. The most notable differences in class identity amongst the cast, also relates to who they are as individuals. Dwight, owns a small bed and breakfast on a beet farm, as well as his paper sales job at Dunder Mifflin, so he has a large chunk of money he’s able to purchase things with. Jim and Pam just had their second child, so we see Pam switch from a small 4 door older model car to a newer model mini-van. Then we have the infamous Robert California, the CEO of Dunder Mifflin, whose attitude oozes privilege and wealth. He also regularly takes the other workers out to lunch. The writers of this show have the lower class citizens as far as financially (the warehouse workers) seem very quiet and somewhat angry. They have an “against the man” attitude as well.

 

Response

I really enjoy The Office as a show. It has a diverse cast with many different ethnicities and religious preferences that they show for comedic reasons. The show is based out in a suburb of Pennsylvania, so when you get all of these very different personalities and classes together, it results in great comedy. Viewing this show in a dominant context, I think it has many great examples of how different people collaborate in the work place.

Magazine and Class Identity Review

27 Jan

Summary

I chose to analyze Glamour magazine,Vogue magazine and Cincinnati magazine for this week’s blog posting. I subscribe to Glamour, so I knew that viewing their magazine would be a perfect selection for me, since I see every issue they come out with. I had a Vogue magazine through a free promotion from Glamour, so I was able to use that for this assignment. Lastly, I had a Cincinnati magazine on hand because I just did an interview with them for a potential full time position after I graduate. I thought this would be a cool example of the differences between a local publication and a national publication and the types of ads they have. Glamour magazine is a magazine primarily targeted at women, that discusses topics like Health, Fashion, Sex, Men, Current Events, etc. Vogue is a magazine primarily targeted at women as well that discusses all things high fashion and couture. Cincinnati magazine is a lifestyle magazine based here in Cincinnati, their target audience is older (35-60) year old women. They feature current events, some  fashion, but mostly editorial pieces.

 

Analysis/Application

Between the 3 magazines, Vogue was the one that really left out a group as far as class identity goes. They’re a magazine featuring high fashion and couture, so they are marketing their magazine and the advertisements to those who can afford to purchase these elaborate, glamorous clothing pieces. Their ads were mostly for very big designers like Gucci, Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton, etc. The ads ranged from makeup, to purses, to perfume, but they were all for very large names, hardly any drugstore names. Glamour magazine had a good mixture of high priced items and low priced items for the advertisements. They had an ad for Giorgio Armani cologne, but they also had ads for Kohls and Maybelline. They know their readers range from low income to high income, so they want to give everyone products they have the financial ability to purchase. Glamour also had more ads for television shows than Vogue (PanAm). Another ad I saw in Glamour that appealed to any class, was their ad for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I thought that was the best example of an advertisement that could speak to all women, regardless of class standing. Out of the three magazines, I’d say Glamour was the most class conscious with their standing amongst their readers. Cincinnati magazine had ads ranging from new exhibits at the Cincinnati Museum Center, to an ad for the Farmers Market in Madeira, to an ad for Kroger. All of their advertisements were locally based, which is an awesome idea when you’re a locally based magazine. Especially when their readers can view the national advertisements in magazines like Glamour or People, they are giving you an idea of what’s closer to home. While they are very conscious of where the majority of their readers live, their class standings all vary drastically.

 

Response

I really liked reading all three magazines. As a person who can’t afford anything in Vogue’s editorial pages or advertisements, I just like to look at the beautiful clothing, and then I go to magazines like Glamour to find similar inspirations that are much, much cheaper. I don’t feel that I shouldn’t read Vogue just because I can’t afford anything in there, but I am fully aware that my class/financial standing does not allow me to purchase what I find in their magazine. I love reading Glamour, there’s a reason I subscribe to it, so I always find things I enjoy and the advertisements are usually featuring something I can afford or could save up to go do. Cincinnati magazine is definitely pertinent to my life right now because I  live in Cincinnati, but their advertisements were for a very large selection of things ranging from nursing homes, to restaurants all in different areas of Cincinnati. Vogue and Glamours advertisements were targeting a more selected demographic, while Cincinnati magazines were very spread out, but not necessarily leaving out a class.

Revenge provides great things

20 Jan

Summary

This week on Revenge, Emily has to deal with the arrival and worn out welcome of Amanda Clarke. With Amanda’s crazy and sporadic actions constantly threatening Emily’s whole plan, she continues to try and forge a way to pin any curiosities the Grayson’s have against herself, onto Amanda. Victoria and Conrad’s marriage continues to unravel as divorce proceedings being with mediated sessions discussing how they will divide their assets. Emily found tapes where her father is discussing how he believes Charlotte is his and Victoria’s daughter together, and that she is not Conrad’s daughter. Emily then sends this to Conrad for him to use as leverage against Victoria in their mediation sessions. Victoria isn’t convinced Amanda is the real Amanda Clark, and orders a DNA sample, only to have that sample intercepted by her lawyer, who is an old friend of Emily’s father’s. Jack gets beat up by a man Victoria hired to go through Amanda’s things to find the tapes she supposedly stole. Daniel proposes to Emily, and no one in their family is too happy about it. Victoria then claims that David Clark forced himself on her, and that Charlotte was a result of that.

 

Analysis

This week’s episode proved to be very dramatic, with twists and turns everywhere you looked. The episode once again dealt with a number of instances in which a class divide was expressly shown. After a closer look at Victoria’s take on the lower class, I realized that she is a consistency seeker when it comes to those she surrounds herself with. She looks for any evidence she can take out of context to twist into supporting her belief that people of a lower class are lesser than her. Another example of the class divide  is when Charlotte asks Declan to lunch with her father, and her father tells Declan that he is willing to pay for his education at the private institution that Charlotte goes to. This is an example of Conrad hegemonic ideology to hold a sort of power over Declan. He pays for his schooling, but in return he now has something to hold over his head. The commercials that appeared during the breaks of the show ranged from CW commercials for other shows that are premiering like “Ringer” and “Gossip Girl” to Buick commercials for their new car and Esurance commercials. These commercials were targeting a wide range of demographics, but I feel they mostly try to garner towards the 15-25 age group of young women as well as the 35-45 age group of older women who watch these shows as guilty pleasures. While a young 16 year old girl can’t afford to buy herself a new Buick, if her mother is watching the show with her, she might be a prime example of a potential buyer for them. The CW knows they have a niche, so for them to show commercials advertising their other, similar shows that appeal to the young women demographic is very smart. They know they have a loyal fan base so they create new material with them in mind, and then show commercials during their popular shows for new one’s coming out.

 

Response

I really enjoy this show, because I’m constantly on the edge of my seat with my jaw dropped to the floor. It’s always exciting, but it also shows a lot of different characters and different aspects of their lives to identify with everyone. There is no sparing of drama with this show either, to the point where I’m thankful it only comes on once a week to give my psyche a little time to process and breathe! I think that the CW is doing an excellent job of producing shows with strong plots and characters that appeal to their target demographic. Advertisers are aware of this demographic, so they are willing to pay premium dollar for 30 second slots to advertise the next greatest thing. I hope they delve further into the character differences between the different classes more as the plot unravels.

Revenge and Class Identity

13 Jan

Summary: I have chosen to discuss the TV show ‘Revenge’ and the impact Class Identity has upon the dialogue, characters, and overall plot. ‘Revenge’ begins by introducing us to Emily Thorne, or also known only by the viewer as Amanda Clarke. She is living a double life in order to take revenge on the people who framed her father for a hanous crime. We first meet her when we see her moving back to the Hamptons, presumably because Emily Thorne likes the area, but in reality because her plan has finally come to fruition and she is in a place to start destroying the lives of those who destroyed hers and her father’s. The people she is dealing with are all extremely powerful and rich, except for the local bar owners Jack and Declan Porter, who don’t have two dimes to rub together. The other main character on the show who has less than the wealthy socialites making up most of the Hamptons is Ashley Davenport, Victoria Grayson’s personal assistant who dreams of breaking into the social circle. The Grayson’s are the reigning royalty of the Hamptons.  Conrad and Victoria Grayson are essentially the King and Queen of the Hamptons, while their children Daniel and Charlotte live lives of priviledge. Daniel later becomes Emily/Amanda’s boyfriend. The show has dealt a lot with how these priviledged characters interact with the less fortunate ones.

Analysis/Application: The major high class/low class interactions are from Victoria/Ashley, Declan/Charlotte, and Jack/Emily. Victoria displays on numerous occasions her distaste for her children to be romantically involved with anyone of a lesser station than her children. Manipulative by nature, she muddles in their loves lives always, but even more so when their person of interest isn’t wealthy like they are. When Charlotte and Declan become romantically involved, Victoria goes so far as to offer Declan $100,000 to stop seeing Charlotte. As viewers, I feel like we define Amanda/Emily’s real life as Amanda Clarke as most real. When everything is spinning out of control with her plan and there’s an accumulation of drama, I feel like that’s what the viewer clings to. Amanda’s plan of revenge and why she’s doing it to begin with. Even though her reality is “invisible” to everyone except for Nolan, (her friend/unlikely co-conspiriator) it’s very powerful because it has the potential to ruin multiple lives. As far as the reality of class, we define Jack, Declan, and Ashley’s as most real, because they’re real people with way less problems than those of the wealthy socialites. It’s harder for the viewer to identify with a reality of yahts, sport cars and summer homes in the Hamptons. The representation serves to benefit Jack, Declan and Ashley because they are portrayed as humble, ambitious and good hearted, while the wealthy socialites are portrayed as cold and heartless. The audience is interpreting the decision made by designers well. The location is beautiful, as the show is filmed in Los Angeles, and the designers also show us the life of the wealthy which is most often beautiful and luxuriuos. Even Jack and Declan’s bar, which is supposed to be struggling, captures the best of the Hamptons with the nautical vibe and old school shipping build.

Response: I really enjoy this show, because it deals with an array of dynamic characters from all different walks of life. Wealthy, poor, American, British, White, Black, Alcoholics, Liars, Homosexuality, etc. The writers have done a really interesting job juxtaposing the wealthy with the poor in this show, and the lengths a person would go to to keep the two separate. This show very clearly works with the idea of hegemony, seeing as Conrad Grayson, supposedly the wealthiest and most powerful person in the Hamptons is a white, heterosexual, priviledged, male.