Archive by Author


4 Dec

Before taking this course, I had an interest on the social implications of identity as I was discovering facets of my own and also understanding how identities interact with one another in a social environment. I found this course to be quite an eye opening experience in that it really put the words to the ideas I had been exploring with the past year. I’ve also found that the course really helped me comprehend the interplay between media and psychological influence which is now what I would consider to be one of my top academic interests as I move forward with my education.

I think one of the most integral elements of this course was the pro-social media project. If I’m honest, some of the subject matter can get a bit depressing as the course goes on, but the project helped me recognize the production process of media that can counter what we identify in the course as problematic. I now find myself more empowered as perhaps a future decision maker in the media. 🙂

– Peter Laug


FCKH8 and Issues With Capitalism in Pro-Social Media

24 Nov

FCKH8 is an organization that sells apparel and uses social media to target inequality in a brash manner. Namely, the organization targets racism, sexism, and anti-lgbtq sentiments by using social media campaigns, like the most recent campaign in which they get young girls to say the “f word” and then justify its usage by comparing it to sexist societal standards, and also by selling shirts like their “this is what a feminist looks like” and “some dudes marry dudes, get over it” shirts. Their strategy is heavily reliant on appealing to the average person’s sympathy to share a post and buy a shirt.

By addressing issues in a very abrupt manner, they create lasting material memories for people who witness or partake in their media, which could play into schema theory in which the event schema will associate human rights and social sentiment with the event in which someone is confronted with these images. Because of FCKH8’s brazen strategy though, this may help or hurt them in getting their message across.

I think this strategy works to a degree in that their merchandise creates an in group for people who support equality. Conversely though, I think that, especially with this organization, any for profit group that operates with pro-social intentions walks a fine line with between exploitation and countering social problems. Furthermore, FCKH8 has been operating under scrutiny, due to their brash campaign strategy, in that some of their campaigns against sexism include language that excludes the transgender community from the conversations they are posing. So I think that this specific organization may not be the best example of a well run pro-social organization although it is prominent and well established.

-Peter Laug

1950’s Christianity in Mad Men

27 Oct

The 1950’s in America’s history represent a time of rigidity and oppression on which the producers of AMC’s Mad Men focus. Specifically with religion the show represents the issues that are addressed with a show don’t tell mentality.

In the episode “Three Sundays”, the producers explore Catholicism in the 1950’s in a light-handed confirmation of stereotypes while never actually having characters verbally claim their religions. The episode focuses on one of the lead characters, Peggy, as she goes to mass and spends time with her family on the three sundays leading up to Pentecost.

The audience is introduced to her superstitious and seemingly socially naive family as well as the new priest at her family’s church. The character that stands out most to me this episode would be Peggy’s sister. Ironically equal parts doting and malicious she seems to manifest Rendleman’s hypocrite in his article, “Images of Evangelicals in American Film.” Peggy’s sister over the course of the episode manages to blackmail Peggy and lie to a priest during a confession in a church claiming that Peggy had a child out of wedlock. The scene resonates with Rendleman’s article in that her theological and lived values are very dichotomous. Peggy’s sister throughout the episode seeks religious purity and judges Peggy for not being as good of a Catholic as she. In the opening scene she is seen bickering with Peggy for coming to church hungover, and then dismisses non catholic prayers before a meal and insists on saying Grace (i.e. Bless us oh Lord and these thy gifts).

The possible implications of this portrayal could highlight, as Rendleman mentioned, the failure evangelicals have found with communicating their message to non evangelicals in America. Namely, how the strengths that evangelicals view they have are viewed as weaknesses in non evangelical or religious communities like verbally expressing their religion.

-Peter Laug

Manifestations of Whiteness in Blackish

16 Oct

For this blog, I decided to analyze the pilot of ABC’s new family sitcom, Blackish, which addresses the cultural and social tensions that exist for a modern black family in a white neighborhood. The show focuses on Andre “Dre” Johnson as he navigates the world of working in a predominantly white company, parenting four children who go to a predominantly white school, and being married to a biracial (white and black) woman, all while trying to retain his cultural background.

I think one of the most interesting aspects of having a majority non white cast is the static, white characters of this show. Many of the white characters follow tropes that are placed on highlighting their ignorance to the constructs of race and whiteness in america. For example, Mr. Smith, Andre’s boss, represents a powerful yet completely ignorant white man with his reckless substitution of black to “urban” when he makes Andre the vice president of urban affairs in the pilot episode. Mr. Smith could fulfill what Omotayo Banjo and Todd Fraley discussed in their text “Portrayals of Whiteness in Black Films”, the man archetype in which he is portrayed as manipulative of Andre in the show.

Most notably in these tropes though, is the character Josh who works with Andre and clearly manifests the wannabe, the whitebread, and the man archetypes as he makes wild race related insights and behavioural changes when in Andre’s presence yet is also in a higher level position than him in the workplace. I think some possible implications of this characterization is both a recognition of the fundamental differences of racial backgrounds acknowledged by predominantly non-white media and a satire of the sector of white america that has little recognition of race issues or how whiteness has influenced their lives. Josh portrays whites as fearful of directly addressing race but also at the same time completely unafraid to exploit his stereotypes of black america to pigeon hole Andre.

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Growing up in a majority white neighborhood and being of, most likely, european descent myself I can definitely connect with this character or ,namely, that I connect with the fact that I see Josh’s archetype being grounded in some reality. One of the key things about this character is that although he is blatantly racist, he never talks about race, and quite frankly no one I knew really talked about race when I was growing up either. I think that these archetypes not only poke fun, but also comfortably address the concept of invisible whiteness that can be so toxic to not recognize.

-Peter Laug

Blog 4- How To Get Away With Murder and Intersectionality Through Race and Sexuality

7 Oct

For my blog topic this week, I chose the pilot episode of How To Get Away With Murder. With 5 out of 7 non-white lead roles , and one of the white characters being portrayed as queer I thought this would be the perfect blog topic to explore the intersections of oppression we have been learning about through the lens of race.

How To Get Away With Murder or “htgawm” as the internet has affectionately abbreviated it, follows the narrative of five law students under the tutelage of their notoriously tough criminal law professor, Annalise Keating. The pilot reveals that they are the best students in the class, and coincidentally are attempting to get away with a murder of their own. Although the black and latino characters in the show are portrayed without intersectional class stereotypes, Oliver, a minor character sexually exploited for information regarding a case by Connor Walsh doesn’t vear from a mediated stereotype of Asians.

Oliver’s intersectional background in both his queerness, and race make the character an easy target for stereotypical mediated portrayals and the producers of the show do not hesitate to make clear that he is sexually clumsy in the short minute montage of a sex scene which could partially lend to the psuedo – asexual stereotype of asians promoted by media. Furthermore, Oliver is an IT employee at an advertising firm which confirms the mediated stereotype of an “educated asian.”

Some possible implications of this portrayal could be that the producers may have felt that having an intersectional character would be too much for hegemonic audiences to digest so they relied on stereotypes to develop the character. Societally, this portrayal could influence the way audiences see both gay, and asian communities as upper-class and sexually repressed.

Despite the excellent amount of characters in the television show, I think Deggan’s point in his chapter concerning race that “filling shows with minorities isn’t good enough” would apply in this case. Although, the portrayal of Oliver may fit a stereotype I feel that it is important that I take a negotiated view with this show.

The show is an excellent example of good storytelling, maybe even my favorite new show I’ve seen this year. And it depicts other minorities as characters not tropes. Even though there are few racial prejudices visible under a counter hegemonic analysis, I felt that the fact that an intersectional character is represented was a huge step forward in primetime television.         -Peter Laug

Class Dynamics Within Don’t Trust The B- In Apartment 23

25 Sep

ABC’s Don’t Trust The B In Apartment 23 is a class based comedy that highlights some issues of class we’ve discussed in this course thus far. The show follows an middle class twenty something named June who moves to New York from a small town in Indiana to pursue her career goals. She eventually moves in with party-girl/ debutante Chloe who is the eponymous “B- in Apartment 23.” Chloe has celebrity friends, a terrible attitude, and copious amounts of money. June works at a cafe in the show, that employs a cast of other twenty somethings working low paying customer service jobs, displaying the class gap within the show’s demographic.

The character June provides an interesting backstory for the series as she comes from the midwest where the concept of a protestant work ethic getting her american dream is still a promising one. Her characterizations lend themselves to a homely nature; she likes to bake, goes to church, and just can’t understand the inhumanity of the big city. June is hardworking, organized, and well spoken, yet she still can’t find a job in the series to get her out of her low paying barista job, which is a major source of the comedy and plot dynamics in the show. The writers depict Chloe and her friends as irresponsible and wealthy, and June and her friends as hardworking and struggling even though they hold more “traditional values.” This could possibly link back to shows like Honey Boo Boo where the media may make fun of a lower class family, but that family holds relatable values. Furthermore, June, as a character could represent the concept that poverty isn’t that bad as long as you have your values.

An issue with this representation of class though, is that despite June’s struggle to find a job, she is still a single young woman living in New York City, one of the most expensive places to live in the world, and not only is she living in New York but living well, with a wealthy roommate in their posh apartment. She is still paying bills and she still has a job yet she and many other characters in the show consider her to be the picture of midwestern lower middle class. I think that some of the implications of this show are vast with depicting a class divide as its main source of comedy and only choosing to represent upper class and working class. The show gives a voice to the wealthy, and working- middle class and doesn’t at all consider the class structure affecting those who live under the poverty line, which is a profound thing to leave out from a show that has a constant theme of challenging class issues.

-Peter Laug

Blog #1: Media Social Construction From Cradle To Grave

4 Sep

Media was once something I felt had little true impact on ideology. At least for me, I think I thought that I was impervious to anything the media would throw at me actually influencing how I saw the world around me. After a few classes, articles, and examples of reframed dialogue though I think that I have a completely different view on how the subtleties of media creating a structure and not influencing me personally.

I never thought that I could say the Lion King has problematic subtle representations of mental illness, race, and class but after reading Rockler’s analysis of the film I find myself questioning how ingrained these concepts of social structure are for me. At the age of 5 or 6, when I first say Lion King, sure, maybe I was unaware of  media bias, and how the individualistic nature of American consumer culture leads to the transmission paradigm, but perhaps that makes these ideologies all the more damaging.

I think that I now see how media, especially Children’s Media (i.e. Lion King, Shark Tale), is a purveyor of ideology. When consumers of media are children, perhaps the media subtly suggest social structure and maybe children don’t quite understand it at that point in their lives, but once they grow up, after watching shark tale, “vegetarian” and “effeminate” being a character conflict presented in a film becomes “homosexual” in a reality. Perhaps that jump might seem severe but I don’t quite think it is totally unreasonable to think.

Furthermore, after seeing the results of the Kinefuchi and Orbe social experiments with college students, I feel like I can see how the media influences people differently according to social location. So many of the findings fell into social groups with many white students distancing themselves from accountability of racism, or direct mention of race, and people of color acknowledging the realities of the film “Crash” in their everyday lives. Its interesting to see how the generation of white students upon which the study was based has grown out of accepting the subtly problematic “Lion King”, but when confronted with the racism of  “Crash” they found it repulsive or unbelievable. I think that detached media construction of oppression is exactly the evidence of  how the media purveys; creating the very issues that people grow up to be uncomfortable talking about.

-Peter Laug