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My Little Pro-Social Blog

6 Nov

Group: Children

Summary:

I watched an episode of the children’s TV show My Little Pony in which Twilight Sparkle, a student of the princess pony Celestia, is sent to Ponyville to oversee preparations for the 1000 Years of Sun and Moon Celebration and make friends. However, she is convinced that Night Mare Moon is going to reappear and put all of Equestria in eternal darkness and she wants to warn Celestia. Twilight starts off very reserved about the ponies she meets. For example, she has to be guilt tripped into eating brunch with the Apple Jack and the Apple family. Twilight also tries calling for help when Rarity tries to give her a make over. In general, Twilight is stand offish to the ponies she encounters who just want to be friends with her because, as she says, “All of the ponies in this town are crazy!” At the celebration, Night Mare Moon, shows up in Celestia’s place to cast all of Equestria into eternal night.

Twilight Sparkle explains to Apple Jack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Flutter Shy that the Elements of Harmony are the only thing that can stop Night Mare Moon. There are 6 elements but only 5 are known: honesty, laughter, generosity, loyalty, and kindness. The 6 ponies adventure into the Ever Free Forest to find the elements. While in the forest, the ponies encounter a series of obstacles that force them to use their own special personality traits (kind, generous, etc…) to get through. Finally, Twilight Sparkle confronts Night Mare Moon and realizes that the elements of harmony are in her friends and that she is the 6th element: the magic of friendship. They defeat Night Mare Moon who turns out to be Celestia’s younger sister Luna. Celestia forgives Luna so they can rule side by side and she allows Twilight to remain in Ponyville with her friends.

Analysis:

My Little Pony is an example of pro-social media through a children’s TV show. Pro-social is the positive effects media can have on its audience. In class, we talked about how most pro-social media made for children is socially helpful rather than personally helpful. This is definitely the case for My Little Pony because the focus of the show is on friendship and ways to be a good friend to others. The effect of this should be children who watch the show wanting to be friendlier and use all of the “Elements of Harmony.”

 One way they might pick up these behaviors is through Social Cognitive Theory, which states that characters can be models to children if they are realistic, similar to the child, there is positive reinforcement, and the action can be imitated. While these are obviously ponies, I think children could see the ponies as similar to themselves because each pony has a very specific personality, just like the child. It would be easy for a nice but quiet girl to look at the show and think, “I’m just like Flutter Shy!” Also, barring the magic and horse related actions, most actions could be imitated by any kid. For example, in order to save her friends from an upset sea serpent, Rarity generously gives up her tail. In real life, it would be easy for a kid to imitate this action by sharing his or her toys or giving something to someone who is upset. Honesty, loyalty, kindness, laughter, and generosity, all the behaviors associated with the ponies, are probably reinforced by parents on a daily basis.

Emotional Competency Theory could also work to produce pro-social behaviors in children who watch this show. Emotional Competency Theory states that people look to their environment to learn to manage emotion. Many children who watch My Little Pony are probably around the age where they are transitioning into a new school. So, they might identify with Twilight who is unsure about going to a brand new place and making friends with ponies she doesn’t know. The kids could see how even though Twilight was resistant to the new town, she made friends by being herself and caring for others. In this case, the kids would be looking to My Little Pony as part of their environment to learn behaviors that help manage their uneasy feelings about being in a new space.

Conclusion: As a pro-social show for children, My Little Pony should cause children to replicate the positive behaviors seen in the show, namely, honesty, loyalty, kindness, laughter, generosity, and friendship.

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Tim Wise Lecture

24 Oct

What surprised me most about the Tim Wise lecture was how controversial it ended up being. I never expected an academic lecture to be protested like this one. I knew going into the lecture that there were people who did not want him to speak, but I never expected them to do anything about it. Driving past the protest on my way in really freaked me out. That people were hateful or ignorant enough about Tim to actually protest was a huge shock. Even more surprising to me was the man who actually said stuff at the end of the Q&A and got kicked out. I’m not sure if it is because I have always been sheltered from prejudices or if it is because I am naturally a non-confrontational, but all the protest surrounding the lecture really took me by surprise.

I thought Tim Wise was on target with all of his assessments. There is nothing that I really disagreed with. I think what resonated with me the most was his question, “Is the dominant group ever able to see the truth?” This really stuck out to me because I realized that I can study race or learn about others’ experiences with racism, but I will never really understand what it is like to be a racial minority who has been discriminated against. By the same token, I could explain women’s rights to a man or share my experiences with one, but they can never fully understand what it feels like to be treated as a lesser person because of their gender. I think that this is something everyone needs to learn at some point so that we can all respect where each individual is coming from.

Recently, we learned about Critical Race Theory which states that race is political not biological. Tim Wise adds a lot to this theory with his discussion of war on drugs and healthcare. I liked his humorous examples of 4/20 and how only the African American kids would get arrested if they smoked on campus. I thought it was really cool how he made the topic of race theory more approachable through his jokes. Even so, they are true at their center, and added to my understanding of Critical Race Theory. Healthcare debate also helped my understanding of the theory. I liked how he said that government aid was never really a problem until it was offered to African American people. It really showed me that a lot of the debate surrounding healthcare is more racially fueled than I expected. This adds to Critical Race Theory by giving a current example of racism at a political level.

Overall, Tim Wise had a lot of great theories and I love how he used a lot of facts to back them up. I think he was an amazing speaker and I really appreciated his talk. Hopefully, he will keep making YouTube videos and doing talks in the area so I can continue to follow his work.

Blog 3- Race

2 Oct

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Group: Asians

 

Summary:

I watched the Two Broke Girls episode called “And the Kickstarter.” It opens up with Max, a white waitress, trying to wait on two Asian customers. They are glued to their technology and explain that they cannot order because they are too busy making money off a website called Kickstarter. Their Asian boss, Han enters the scene telling them to do some extra work to which Max replies, “Hold up girl!” and explains that she and Caroline are already doing extra work for their business and can’t do his too. Later, at the cupcake shop, Caroline laments her lack of new clothes and decides to start a Kickstarter where people can donate money to help her buy a new pair of pants. Max, on the other hand, decides she has to give up her old flip phone to get a new Smartphone because it is free.

After getting her phone, Max takes her first call, demonstrates all her new apps and takes a video of Caroline asking for money for new pants. Next, at the diner, Caroline tells the African American cashier, Earl, how she asked for money online and people are giving it to her. He replies, “Man, being white is easy!” Han starts reprimanding the girls for being on their phones while at work, and they start sending texts about him. Eventually, Caroline gets her new pants, and Max texts about how sick she is of Caroline but accidentally sends it to Caroline. Max blames the technology for the insult and makes it up to Caroline.

 

Analysis:

Two Broke Girls is one of many shows that use racial stereotypes for humorous effects. In this specific episode, many Asian racial stereotypes can be seen. In class, we talked about the stereotype of Asians being the model minority because of their success and technological competence. However, stereotypically, they are seen as sexually undesirable compared to other races. The technological competence of the two Asian diners who were focused on Kickstarter and Han’s success as a business owner both played into Asian stereotypes. When Max insulted Han by saying “Han, you know I don’t have a penis. It’s the only thing we have in common!” she played into the stereotype of the undesirable Asian. Critical race theory enters into play here, because all of the races being played off of are politically constructed. Han is actually from Korea and would probably Korean-American, not Asian.

Another way critical race theory can be seen in this episode is how Max and Caroline’s “whiteness” is less defined. They make a bunch of jokes about other races, but the only white joke in the show is Earl’s one-liner, “Man, being white is easy.” Tim Wise expressed this as a sentiment during his speech “The Pathology of Privilege” when he explained that when you have privilege as a white person, you don’t question it. “Whiteness” is also less defined because Max is able to pick up her new piece of technology and start using it. In Tierney’s article “Themes of Whiteness in American Film,” he explains that whiteness is not preventative of learning the Asian skill of martial arts. Similarly, in this show, whiteness does not prevent Max and Caroline from becoming technologically skilled.

 

Conclusion: By using Asian stereotypes for humor and not defining Caucasian stereotypes, Two Broke Girls perpetuates the stereotypes surrounding Asians.

Blog 2: Two and a Half Men

23 Sep

Group: Working/ Middle Class

 

Summary: I watched an episode of Two and a Half Men called “My Bodacious Vidalia.” In the episode, Alan is mourning over the breakup between him and his ex, Lindsey. In an attempt to cheer him up, Walden gives Alan his American Express card. Alan returns to the house in ridiculous new clothes proving that his style has not really evolved with the times. The two go out to a bar and Alan finds that he is “rusty” with women however he did manage to go home with a girl, Megan. Once he gets to the girl’s house he has finds out that the girl is married to an old man who is a vegetable. In order to explain her adultery, Megan talks about what it feels like to depend on someone to put a roof over her head. Alan says that he can relate because he depends on Walden to put a house over his head. Despite his misgivings, he invites Megan over to Walden’s house and Megan brings her vegetable husband. While Walden is watching him, the old man dies. This causes Megan to panic because she will lose her inheritance if anyone finds out she cheated on her husband with Alan.

 

Analysis: Throughout the episode, viewers have the chance to see just how important class is to Alan and Megan. In the beginning Alan, a middle class chiropractor, gains access to billionaire-Walden’s limitless credit card in order to get a make over. This tells the viewers that Alan’s style was unsuitable for looking for a new girlfriend. This ties in with the reading Consuming “Trash”: Representations of Poor Whites in US Popular Culture by Laura Stacer because throughout the reading, she asserts that the only people who can pass off the trend of looking like white trash are those who are in no danger of becoming white trash. Alan’s old, scruffy-looking robe and lower class standing put him in danger of becoming white trash, so Walden gives him his card to get a make over. Along the same lines, Walden’s card was a symbol of economic capitol that Alan lacked. There is a scene in the show in which Alan has a difficult time giving up the card, which shows the viewers just how much he desires to be in the same wealthy class as Walden.  Another interesting scene in the show is when Megan convinces Walden and Alan to help move her dead husband back to her house after he died. Essentially, they are committing a felony in order to help her gain economic capitol, and therefore a higher class standing. The lengths that Megan is willing to go to in order to get her inheritance shows the viewer how important it is to gain more money.

 

Conclusion: In this episode of Two and a Half Men,  money is seen as the ideal that all people should be desperate to achieve.

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Blog 1: How I Met Your Mother

11 Sep

Group: Women and Femininity

 

Summary: I watched an episode of How I Met Your Mother called “Robin 101.” In the episode, Robin becomes paranoid when Barney, who she is dating, starts acting like a sweet and attentive boyfriend. Worried that he is going to cheat on her, Robin breaks into Barney’s briefcase only to find a college notebook with notes written in it about her and a class time. Marshall reveals to Robin and Lily that Ted had been teaching Barney about how to date Robin. Some of the course topics include “Top 10 Robin Scherbatsky Facial Expressions and Their Meaning,” “Diffusing the Bomb,” and “Robin’s Surprising Erogenous Zones.” As Ted is teaching the class, Robin, Lily, and Marshall burst into the room. As expected Robin is very angry with Barney for taking a class on her and not just learning as he dates her. In the end, Robin acquiesces that it was kind of sweet that Ted still remembered all those things about her and Barney confesses that he took the class because he was afraid that Robin would dump him.

 

Analysis: Though the episode seems to be saying that Robin was right to tell Barney that he needed to work at the relationship to learn about her, it cannot be ignored that, in the long run, much of Ted’s class seemed rather accurate and helped Barney more than if he had tried to learn on his own. For example, Ted’s lesson about how Robin tells you she loves you came into play at the very end of the episode when she smiled at Barney and told him “You’re an idiot.” All in all, I believe it is Ted’s version of reality that becomes most real because, other than his lesson on Robin’s Surprising Erogenous Zones, his lessons seem to encompass Robin. This view benefits heterosexual men because it shows that most of what is special about a woman can be learned in a class. Similarly, when Lily tells Robin not to be a “crazy, jealous” girlfriend, she sets Robin up as being the irrational character throughout the story for not trusting Barney and snooping through his briefcase. Overall, audiences are left with the feeling that Ted may have a point to his classes because so much of it came into play, and that maybe Robin was acting a little absurd for being so angry at Barney. This conforms to society’s patriarchal ideologies by placing Robin in the part of “irrational girlfriend” and Ted in the part of “reasonable male.”

 

Conclusion: This episode of “How I Met Your Mother” reinforces the jealous girlfriend stereotype while conforming to societal patriarchal ideology.