Archive by Author


4 Dec

This semester I signed up for this course needing the credit.  It sounded somewhat interesting but I didn’t really know what to expect.  After the first day of class I remember telling fellow classmates that I was excited for the course and seemed like I would learn a lot, which I did.  A lot of the classes I took this semester could easily tie in with each other so it definitely made it easier to retain the information.  Already knowing how influential the media can be, this class really brought to my attention the effects media has on just about everybody ranging from children to adults and males to females.  Media is everywhere! IT’s on the television we watch everyday, the magazines we read when waiting at the doctors office, the billboards we pass when driving down the highway you literally cannot escape media.  I also really enjoyed this course because I was able to connect with a lot of the topics we discussed.  I also thought the final project was a good way to finish up the semester.  It was cool to make us think outside of the box and try to come up to solutions to solve some of the social issues going on today rather than us just over viewing what we’ve learned this year.  I can fully say I enjoyed this class and I would definitely recommend it to others.


Stand Against Racism

25 Nov

The organization I chose to focus on is YWCA’s Stand Against Racism.  The Stand Against Racism is a movement of the YWCA with the goal of bringing people together from all walks of life, across the country, to raise awareness that racism still exists.  They host an annual event that takes place on the last Friday of each April and they hold Community Cohesion Programs that address the root cause of racism and encourage conversations across diverse communities in the USA.  They want to celebrate the “richness” of diversity.  I think the article “The Portrayal of Racial Minorities on Prime Time Television: A
Replication of the Mastro and Greenberg Study a Decade Later” could relate to this topic.  I think there is still racism because one, there are people who were born in a different time where racism was more prevalent and they are stuck in their ways.  I also think because television portrays the African American culture in a poor way.  When all we are watching on TV is a black man robbed a store, a black man killed someone, a black woman won’t go out and get a job and relies on welfare our racist views will not go away.  Of course there have been black men who have robbed and killed but so have white men and Hispanic men but the media tends to not focus on that.  I think this campaign is effective.  They are organizing something just one day a year that people could make time in their schedule to attend.  If every type of person goes out and just talks to someone new we are bettering the world.  I think prosocial media overall is very effective.  We live in a digital age where most of our information comes from a cellphone in the palm of our hand.  If people are fighting to end racism and stereotyping and doing it in a way for everyone to see (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) soon it will catch on.

I’m Not Crazy, I’m Chosen

27 Oct

“Orange is the New Black” is one of Netflix’s most popular shows.  With there only being 2 seasons and 13 episodes in each season, it’s pretty easy to watch in a single weekend and become obsessed.  If you’ve never watched the show first off shame on you.  It is about a woman named Piper Chapman who is living in New York when she is sentenced to 15 months in a women’s federal prison for transporting a suitcase full of drug money to her former girlfriend Alex Vause who is an international drug smuggler.  All of this happened ten years prior to when the series started and in that time Piper had moved on with her life, living in New York’s upper middle class with her fiance Larry.  Now in prison, she has to learn to survive among the other inmates.  One of the inmates, Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett actually tries to kill Piper at the end of the first season.  Tiffany’s character is who I want to focus on.

Tiffany is an inmate at Litchfield Penitentiary for shooting a nurse who made a snide comment to her at an abortion clinic.  Prior to being arrested, she never really showed to be a Christian until her Christian lawyer helps her with her doubts when she begins to turn away from her her Christian faith.  When she arrives to prison, she has devoted herself to God and spends most of her time trying to preach his word to other inmates who most of the time ignore what she says or mock her.  In one episode, she tries to heal another inmate’s knee which turned out to be a prank/ revenge set up by Alex which convinced Tiffany she could really heal people.  She is enemies with Alex because she is a lesbian and Tiffany disagrees with that due to her Christianity.  There are a couple other inmates such as Leanne who follow Tiffany around.  They allow Tiffany to boss them around and look at her as almost a saint or disciple of God.  Tiffany makes comments such as “I’m just a simple woman, doing the work of the Lord,” and “The first one was a spiritual rapture, and the second one comin’ is a physical one, okay? And you’re not invited, because they don’t allow gay people on the rapture bus!”

In our reading “‘I know ya’ll think I’m pretty square, but tuh, I believe what I believe’: Images of Evangelicals in American Film” by Todd Rendleman we read about different types of evangelical Christian images in American movies.  Although Orange is the New Black is not a movie I think Tiffany fits two of these images.  One image is “the hypocrite.”  Tiffany preaches God’s word or I guess her version of God’s word yet is out to kill Piper when she disrespects her.  The Bible says to “Turn the other cheek.”  Apparently Tiffany doesn’t care.  In this moment she is going back to before she found God and like the nurse disrespected her and she shot her.  The other image Tiffany fits is the psychotic evangelical image.  In the first season Tiffany does come off as crazy.  The fact that she wants to kill Piper shows this psychotic side of her.  She even states “I’m not crazy, I’m chosen.”  She truly believes that what she is doing is okay because God has chosen her to be one of his disciples.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

17 Oct

fresh prince

Growing up and even today The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was one of my favorite shows on TV.  Although it is mostly comedic, many lessons can be learned throughout the series.  The show is about Will Smith (a fictionalized version of himself) from West Philadelphia who moves in with his rich aunt and uncle in Bel-Air after getting into a fight with some guys on the basketball court back home.  Aunt Vivian, Uncle Phil, and his three cousins Carlton, Hilary, and Ashley are an upper class African American family but portray what we categorize as the stereotypically white Americans.  Although Will and the Banks family are the same race, Will is almost an outcast because he fits the stereotype of a young African American who had a rough upbringing, no father in the home, and a mother who had to work multiple jobs to support their family.  Instead of trying to change his identity and become more like the Banks, he expresses his culture which sometimes makes his family uneasy.  Uncle Phil is an elected judge and Aunt Vivian is a retired doctor so they both hold a respectable standing in the community.  Will sometimes stirs up trouble which puts the Banks family in an uncomfortable situation.  Will is my main focus because he is the outsider.  He often gives Carlton a hard time for acting “white” and sees him as not “black” enough because Carlton doesn’t fit the typical black stereotype.  The way Carlton and the rest of the Banks family talks and dresses is different from his and it doesn’t fit the perspective Will has of the black community.  A time that sticks out to me when white characters are present are the episodes when Carlton and Will attend their rich, preppy, predominantly white private school.  The other students have a hard time connecting to Will because he is so different from them and doesn’t always follow the rules.  One example of this is by taking the uniform everyone is supposed to wear and customizing it to look the way he wants, more flamboyant and colorful which strays away from the basic black and white colored suit.  I thought that it was interesting how in class we discussed African Americans’ role in sitcoms are usually middle class, less professional dress, and lower levels of occupational prestige.  The Banks family is the complete opposite of this.  I guess it would be hard for me to identify with Will because he is a black male and I am a white female but not looking at race or gender I identify with him in the way that sometimes I am the outcast in my family.  I choose to live my life how I want to and be myself no matter if it goes against my stereotype.

SNL Addresses Race

7 Oct

Above is the link to the skit I am discussing below.

Saturday Night Live (SNL) is an American late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show that aired on October 11, 1975 on NBC.  It pokes fun at current political and cultural issues using a large and varying cast along with a different guest host each week.  About a year ago an episode aired with guest star Kerry Washington as the host.  The show did a skit that took place at the White House with Jay Pharoah impersonating President Obama and Kerry Washington impersonating Michelle Obama.  This was the first time since 2007 that SNL featured an impression of the First Lady.  Because SNL has few African Americans in the cast, especially African American women, they used this opportunity to make fun of themselves.  The first scene Kerry Washington plays Michelle Obama, but when it is announced that Oprah has arrived, she exits and does a quick costume change and comes back in as Oprah Winfrey.  It is then announced that Beyonce has arrived and she again runs out to do yet another costume change.  While she is gone they bring in 6 different actors dressed as Matthew McConaughey to show how many white males they have in their cast.

The character I wanted to focus on is Kerry Washington.  When a celebrity guest hosts on SNL I think they know what they’re getting themselves into.  They know that they might not only be making fun of someone else but sometimes they make fun of themselves.  Being the only black woman cast member that night, SNL took advantage of the opportunity and created the skit I described above.  Kerry Washington portrayed three different iconic women in the skit and although it was for humor it also showed how race was sometimes a factor.  Lorne Michaels, the creator and producer of SNL, when commenting on the lack of black women hired on his show stated “It’s not like it’s not a priority for us. It will happen. I’m sure it will happen. You don’t do anyone a favor if they’re not ready.”

SNL is known for making fun of all sorts of things and they don’t hold back.  So we shouldn’t be surprised that race is a topic that is currently used in skits.  Although Saturday Night Live is predominately a white cast, I wouldn’t compare it to the show Friends where race is ignored.  Race is definitely talked about in SNL but is used in a way to make people laugh.

XOXO Gossip Girl

24 Sep

One of my favorite shows that sadly is not on TV anymore (but all the seasons are on Netflix!) is Gossip Girl.  It takes place in New York City, specifically in Manhattan’s Upper East Side.  The show contains glamorous parties, sex, scandal, and of course gossip.  Most of the characters in the show are wealthy.  Lets look at Blair Waldorf.  She is the beautiful “Queen Bee” of Constance Billard School’s social scene.  Everyone at school worships her, especially her minions that are Blair Waldorf wannabes.  She is always dressed in the newest fashion; having a famous fashion designer as a mother has its perks.  Blair looks down on anyone that is not as rich or from the same area code as her.

On the other side of the spectrum you have Jenny and Dan Humphrey.  They attend the same private school as Blair and all the other upper east siders but they live in Brooklyn.  They’re father is a musician and although it is a struggle for him to send them to the private school, he wants the best for them.  Blair hates Dan, especially when he starts dating Blair’s best friend Serena.  Blair thinks there is no connection between her and Dan because they are from two different worlds.  Dan is completely comfortable being “different” from everyone else but his sister Jenny wants to fit in.  She becomes one of Blair’s minions which entails dressing like Blair, doing her dirty work, and praising her every word.  Eventually Jenny finds herself and ditches Blair’s group.

Although Dan does not fit what we may view as “white trash” wearing a trucker hat always walking around barefoot kind of guy, to Blair he is.  In the article “Consuming “Trash”: Representations of Poor Whites in U.S. Popular Culture” author Laura Portwood-Stacer gives a detailed definition of what “white trash” is.  She states “‘White trash’ is the label given to an American subculture, whose members are thought to be characterized by poverty, violence, shame, racism, criminality, immorality, laziness, ignorance, poor health and hygiene, and of course, whiteness.”  Throughout Gossip Girl, Blair constantly makes comments about Dan’s clothes, hair, and where he lives basically stating that he is grungy, has no style, and Brooklyn is dirty.  Blair is almost embarrassed sometimes to be seen with Dan. In this way Blair would most likely consider Dan as “white trash.”  Because of their social status, Blair will most likely never have to work a day in her life while Dan will have to work extra hard to achieve his goals.

I think Gossip Girl is a prime example of class dynamics.  The show focuses on teenagers who all attend the same private school but even within this group of people there will always be “the Upper East Siders” and those from Brooklyn.

“Revenge is a Confession of Pain”

15 Sep

victoria from revenge

One of my favorite shows on TV is Revenge which plays Sunday nights on ABC. The easiest way to summarize the show without me rambling on and on about it is by posting a summary I found on IMDb. “As a summer to remember begins in the Hamptons, new arrival Emily Thorne dazzles the members of high society by making herself known in the exclusive social circle of Grayson Global CEO Conrad Grayson and his socialite wife Victoria. But it soon becomes clear that the beguiling young philanthropist has a dark past. Emily was once known as Amanda Clarke, a young nine-year-old whose life was torn apart when her father – Grayson Global hedge fund manager David Clarke – was falsely accused of channeling money to a terrorist organization responsible for the downing of a commercial airliner. Now living under an assumed identity, she is determined to seek vengeance on the people who destroyed her father’s life – the two main conspirators being Conrad and Victoria Grayson – by making their lives come crashing down around them. Because when everything you love has been stolen from you, someone has to pay.” The post was anonymous but it does a great job of introducing you to the show.

The show focuses on Emily but for my blog I wanted to focus on Victoria, Hampton’s biggest socialite. In the beginning when Victoria is introduced she is simply Conrad’s wife. He is the wealthiest and most powerful man in the Hamptons and she is his beautiful, classy wife who doesn’t have to work or even lift a finger at that. They hold extravagant parties at their insane mansion that only the most elite can attend. Victoria takes pride in these parties and takes them on as her projects. I feel like this can be seen as a gendered role. The man goes to work and is the power and then the wife stays home and plans parties. Victoria is always dressed elegantly with beautiful clothes. Her make up and hair is always done perfect so when we see her not looking “perfect” it’s almost strange. In media it seems like women are always supposed to look put together.

As the show continues we start to see a different side of Victoria. You see a sneaky and conniving side to her. As secrets from the past and drama is formed in and surrounding the family she almost turns into a new person, someone that is not the typical “woman.” Although she stays classy through most of the show and is able to get what she wants she does things that women are not usually portrayed as doing such as taking someones life.  Men are supposed to be masculine and have all the power but there are times in the show when Victoria holds more power over Conrad. She kicks him out of the house and Grayson Manor becomes hers. She’s not afraid to take charge.

There are still more seasons to come and characters will continue to develop but Victoria will still remain a classy yet powerful woman whose not afraid to get her hands a little dirty.

Blog #1 by Marissa Sears

3 Sep

Mass media and our perceived reality go hand in hand. Everywhere you look and no matter where you go you see media. On the TV, our smartphones, the apps we download to them, and the laptops most of are using to type this blog are all examples of media. I know personally I don’t watch the news or read the newspaper so I usually get my source of news through twitter or Facebook. In today’s culture everything is so fast paced that most of us rely on these devices for more then just the news. People typically believe what they see or read. Our perceived reality comes from mass media if that is what we are looking at most of the day.

I also think that media plays a role in our identity and who we become. Through twitter, vine, instagram, and Facebook we create this identity that we want others to see us as. So many people have become famous for the profile they have created on these media sites. For example, I have one friend who if I show her a picture of a girl I think is pretty or a guy I find attractive she will have to look at his/her profile and looks at how many followers they have. If they have say 3K followers she will say “Oh they’re not a real person.” Obviously this person is real but what she means is their instagram famous not necessarily a celebrity. Mass media gives people the opportunity to create themselves in the way they want the world to see them.

Going off of both of these there are two ways to look at things. There is never one interpretation. In the article “Message Between the Lion” the author points out two types of messages. The Transmission Paradigm is when the message “is what it is.” There is no underlying meaning. The second type of message are Ritual Paradigms. This is when there is a symbolic meaning or hidden message. Usually culture impacts what were watching. I sometimes look at my Twitter feed and see someone has posted lyrics to a song. If following the transmission paradigm those would just be song lyrics, nothing more. But if we were following the ritual paradigm there would be a deeper meaning. Maybe those lyrics represent something going on in that person’s life. Maybe it was meant to be a “sub-tweet” directed at one of their followers.

I already feel that the few classes we’ve had have opened my eyes to hos much media and identity play a role in our culture. That being said I do feel that mass media plays an important role when it comes to our perceived reality and ideology.