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Blog 8: Final Reflection

3 Dec

When I first signed up for this class, I didn’t know what to expect. I had a feeling that the class would go into the studies of media, which was why I took it. I hope to have a job in the future that involves writing, primarily something around the media. One of my dream jobs is to write for a TV show that I created. I thought that taking a class that studied on how the media works would give me a better understanding on how the job works. But I never imagined that the class would focus on something that I was somewhat unaware of.
I knew that the media was capable of influencing people’s ideas, but I had no idea that it had power over influencing one’s identity. I should have seen this when I saw the course Media & Identity, but it explains more than what the title says. Throughout this course, I have seen so many terms and messages that explain how the media has shaped the identities of multiple people. From films to magazines, I have learned just how powerful the media has become. What I was most impressed with was the Codes of Gender video. I had no idea that there was a difference between gender and sexuality. This was a stunning revelation to me. And now that I am at the end of this course, I can say without a doubt that this class has given me a new perspective as a writer.
Before I took this class, I had the passion for writing stories. I enjoyed creating new worlds and giving characters purpose. But what I wasn’t doing was writing something that was different. The stories were just the same old cliché, where the hero gets the girl and he vanquishes the villain, and everyone lives happily ever after. There was hardly any uniqueness within the plots. But thanks to this class, and the other I’ve been taking this semester, I have gotten a better insight on how a story should be and how to make the plot more realistic. I believe that now I know what to avoid when it comes to stereotyping, not just about races but also with religion and gender. I hope that in the near future, I can apply the learning from this course to make myself into the writer that I dream to become one day.

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Counter Racism Now.com

24 Nov

Website Link: http://www.counter-racismnow.com/
It is clear to say that America is not the perfect country due it it’s checkered past. We have claimed to be a nation of freedom and justice. Yet we have become our greatest hypocrites. How? Through racist acts. In the beginning of our developing country, we built our foundation on slavery. Until the day came when a war would be raged with ourselves that freed the slaves from our ignorance. But this wasn’t good enough. There was still segregation during the eighteenth century to the 1970s on the African American community. May have fought for their freedoms, to be equal like everyone else. Eventually, America came to its senses and finally gave every born American equal rights. However, this did not end racism. It may have given everyone equality, but racism is still alive today.
With all that has happened in the past, and by what is continuing to happen, I’m beginning to wonder if racism will just be an endless battle in our society. Still there are a lot of groups that have and are counteracting racism within our nation. One of them being a blog website called Counter Racism Now! The site was developed by Dr. Khalif Muhammad, Ph.D., who has been a victim of racism and hope to see it end once and for all. He plans to use his experiences and observations of White Supremacy and racism to carry out his goal. The website features a lot of YouTube videos with his comments that are connected to a specific subject. One of the subjects being titled “The REAL Reason Why Ray Nagin Is Being Charged With Corruption,” where the mayor of New Orleans was charged with corruption during the Katrina incident. Khalif states that the reason he was trialed as a criminal was he spoke out against White Supremacy by wanting his city to be a “chocolate city.” This sounded to me like the Buck theory, the stereotype of the aggressive black male, was being applied and that the government responded in fear. Nagin was frustrated with the relief effort that when he spoke out, the government feared that this might create more problems for their system. I do see Nagin’s view on the fact that the relief effort should have done a better job, but almost creating an uprising in time of disaster is anything but helpful.
When it comes to a website like this one, I have some doubts that this could be helpful when dealing with racism. Khalif does address the Whiteness theory from Tim Wise’s article, Pathology of Privilege, where class and race inequality are masked, but I can’t help but feel as though he is only supporting his race. When the term equality comes into play, all the races are expected to be treated equal. If someone just focuses on one group, that person is no better than the racists that singled him out. There is no mention of other races within this website, but if it did, then I would consider this website legit. Otherwise, this could just create more conflicts between races.

Blog 6: King of the Hill, Halloween Special

27 Oct

           There have been a few television programs that have been canceled and still run to this day. That being said, there is one that still lives as one of the best shows to air on TV, even after six years of its cancelation. This show is famously known as King of the Hill. The show was an animated sitcom series that was produced by FOX until it was cancelled in 2008 after thirteen seasons. It is now currently aired on Adult Swim where reruns of episodes are being showed. The series centers around a middle-class Methodist family, the Hills, in a fictional town of Arlen, Texas. The family consists of Hank Hill, the well-mannered/tempered father and assistant manager of Strickland Propane, Peggy Hill, the overconfident mother and substitute teacher, Bobby Hill, the overweight comedic son, and Luanne Platter, the absent minded niece of Hank and Peggy. The series focuses on the family and how they overcome ridiculous situations in a naturalistic scenario. The plots are usually centered around Hank with him being the voice of reason and occasionally solving the problem.
In every episode of King of the Hill, there is usually a lesson that involves a certain issue that affects the world. And there is one that focuses on the issue of how religion is portrayed. This was the Halloween special that I recently watched called Hilloween. In this episode, Hank and his friends are working on a haunted house for the local school in the hopes that Bobby will have the same joy that he had at is age. Meanwhile, Luanne becomes influenced by an outspoken member of the church, Junie Harper, who convinces Luanne that Halloween is a satanic holiday and should be boycotted by the community. After Junie gets the haunted house canceled, Hank exacts his revenge by taking Bobby to egg and teepee her house. In the aftermath, Junie convinces the community to cancel Halloween and issue a curfew. Bobby feels bad about the egging incident and Luanne convinces him to go to a Junie’s Hallelujah House, opposite of a haunted house. Outraged by this discovery, Hank decides to protest by marching to Junie house in the Halloween costume he had as a kid. The community then joins in, even Luanne, and they convince the kids attending the house to go trick-or-treating again. Junie is passively defeated and episode ends with Luanne joyfully yelling Happy Halloween Everyone.
This is an important episode to keep in mind when the issue of religion comes into perspective. There are two characters that portray the issue of religious beliefs; Luanne and Junie. Luanne has been convinced by Junie’s opinion because she was naïve. In Images of Evangelicals, Rendleman explains; “Often appearing as a supporting character in ensemble pieces or movies with traditional leads, the naïve evangelical is a cultural innocent who reaches out to others with his or her faith.” (Rendleman 282). Because Luanne isn’t considered the sharpest tool in the shed, she was easily able to be persuaded by an outrageous assumption by Junie and able to convince Bobby because of his youthful nature. Junie is considered the psychotic evangelist. She has not shown much signs of violence, but during the Hallelujah House she scared children asserting her own religious agenda onto them. She claimed Hank to be a hypocrite evangelist simply because he was convincing his son to dress up in a costume and have fun on Halloween. Hank was nowhere hypocritical because he was saying that Halloween is harmless fun. Hank’s beliefs disconfirmed hypocritical evangelism.

Blog 5: The Cleveland Show

15 Oct

Media is by far the most influential device that has ever existed. It can change the way we see the world and we’re completely oblivious to its effect. Yet despite how powerful media can be, there is still a problem that continues to exist, even though we should have gotten rid of it a long time ago. White supremacy over narratives. Ever since the invention of media, the majority of narratives and points of view have been centered around white people as main characters. This is a dangerous influence to the public and this creates the negative stereotypes that are assumed in non-white races. There are a few other medias, however, that have created their own supremacy that does not usually center around whiteness, rather other races. And I found one that not only features non-white characters and see them as empowering, but also hilarious as well when doing it. This is the TV show the Cleveland Show.
The Cleveland Show is one of the most funny television shows that I have ever seen and might have been FOX’s best shows of all time. It was originally aired on the FOX network, but was canceled after four seasons and now is doing reruns on the Adult Swim network. The show is a spinoff of its predecessor, Family Guy, where one of the characters, Cleveland, moves away with his overweight son, Cleveland Jr., back to his hometown in Stoolbend, Virginia. There, he is reunited with his high school sweetheart Donna Tubbs. They get married in the first episode and the families merge with Donna’s two children Roberta and Rallo Tubbs. After the pilot episode, the show then goes into four seasons of multiple situations that contain hilarity.
The Cleveland show not only displays a good amount of comedy, but also numerous scenes and funny bits that go into racial issues and stereotypes. There are multiple times in the show that uses the issues that involve race and turns them into comedy gold while addressing the situations. One of the episodes that I found to have used this tactic very frequently was ‘Wide World of Cleveland Show’. In this episode, Cleveland shows the audience how the show would look if it were done in a different ethnicity starting with Hispanic, Italian, German, and lastly Japanese. As funny as these parodies were, two of them displayed white superiority even though visible ethnicity hasn’t changed in Cleveland. In the article, Themes of Whiteness by Sean M. Tierney, he explains how whiteness can be the main focus of film even if in a different ethnic structure and that it’s invisible to most people. This is more of a reverse explanation of what this episode is about. Instead of a white man being the boss of an Italian Mob or a personification of Hitler, Cleveland and his family play these roles of whiteness without changing his black identity completely. Although, there is still the matter of the mediated construction favoring the white community. In a study founded by Monk-Turner in her article Portrayals of Race in Primetime TV, she discovered that in primetime shows white Americans have a majority focus while other races have less of a percentage. So in a way this episode is both focused on stereotypical narratives and not at the same time. I don’t think that I can actually relate to a man like Cleveland, but I would like to relate to his ethnic moral side.

Blog 4: Family Guy

7 Oct

If there has been one thing that I cannot stand for in our society it is racial stereotyping. I don’t think that I could have been discussed in anything more than racism. Just hearing the stories about how we treated race in the past sets me at rage. Even after almost fifty years have passed since the civil right movement, racial stereotyping is still an issue. Disappointing. And what’s worse is that it has found its way into the media, and most people are oblivious to it. In most television TV programs, there is always demonstrating the white supremacy of America and little to no other racial supremacy. There are, however, some TV shows that reveal the constant stereotyping that we have been oblivious to. One of these shows is the popular animated sitcom, Family Guy. Created by Seth MacFarlane, this sitcom centers around the Griffin family household of Peter, the slow-witted father, Lois, the attractive mother, Meg, the socially abused daughter, Chris, the mentally immature son, Stewie, the hostile/evil infant son, and Brian, the talking pet dog. The series, produced by FOX, usually follows these main characters as they go through their lives of humorous situations.
Despite this show being centered around a white family, there is one character that stands out from the rest. This is one of Peter’s three drinking friends, Cleveland Brown. Having some qualities similar to Peter’s, Cleveland is an African American character that represents his race’s perspective. In his multiple appearances on the show, Cleveland usually demonstrates his racial pride through different comical acts involving his friends. In one of the episodes, Peter discovers that he has a black slave ancestor and goes to Cleveland for advice on the ethnicity. The episode continues with Peter going through ethnical controversy until he finally accepts who he real is. Peter may be the main focus of the show, but Cleveland acts as an ethnic base. In the article, May the Circle Stay Unbroken, it explains why most of TV Shows’ main characters are white when it says; “whiteness as a racial position is able to maintain a sense of centrality in contemporary American racial politics precisely because it remains largely invisible and unspoken. (Crenshaw, 1997; Nakayama & Krizek, 1995; Pope-Davis & Ottavi, 1994).” (Chidester 158). Family guy is one of the few shows that is not afraid to have racial politics involved with its multiple plots, and they accomplish this by using Cleveland as a mechanism. In fact, there was a show developed for him as the main character called the Cleveland Show. This spinoff of the main series is another example of proving the article wrong when it talks about “media messages on race tend to reinforce whiteness not only as a central racial position but also as a standard philosophical site.” (Chidester 170). Since the Cleveland Show focuses on an African American main character, it is clear to see how this show and Family Guy separate themselves from the cliché that the article talks about whiteness. I believe that we should all relate to some of the main characters on the show, not by their intelligence, but by their ethnic morals that they show, especially Cleveland.

Modern Family

24 Sep

ABC has always been one of the networks that have provided me a variety of hilarious TV shows. One of them being Modern Family. This is another one of their sitcoms that also display class dynamic within it. The Show is presented in a mockumentary style, where the main characters are frequently talking in front of the camera discussing their thoughts and opinions about a situation that takes place during an episode. The series focuses on three households, each connected to family relationships. The first family is Jay Pritchett and his second wife and stepson, and the other two are of Claire Dunphy and her family of her husband, son and two daughters, and Mitchell Pritchett and his family of his husband and adopted daughter. Throughout every episode of the show, the members of the three families become entwined with each other in multiple humorous ways.
As humorous as the series is, there have been multiple signs of class dynamics. One of which, being the status of which family is the most powerful. That title belongs to Jay’s family. In the show, Jay is the owner of a closet company thus making him the wealthiest family member. In a lecture that took place in my Media and Identity class, we learned that the categorization of class involves the aspects of one’s income, profession, and/or inherited wealth. Because Jay is the owner of his own successful business, he is recognized as the most powerful family member because his income is higher than his two children’s families. It is true that the other two families are middle class wealthy, but that just makes Jay’s family wealthier by comparison. Another sign of class dynamics involving wealth is seen within the Dunphy Family. Claire and her husband Phil have been seen struggling with their firstborn daughter Haley and trying to get her through college. This implies that they believe that if she doesn’t pass college, she won’t get a well-paid job, and not have a successful life. In a scholarly article called Consuming “Trash”: Representations of Poor Whites in U.S. Popular Culture, the author defines white trash as someone with multiple poor aspects, one of which is ignorance. Sometimes the poor class is often defined as ignorant and that sets Claire and Phil off that Haley will grow out to be white trash if she doesn’t get a good education.
Although this isn’t implied in the series, there appears to be a sign of stereotypical racism involving the family members. In Poverty As We Know It, another scholarly article, it talks about how there has been a negative stereotype that the black community is more than likely to be in poverty. There have been no signs of this stereotype, but based on the fact the family members are mostly white and not black, implies that the white community is more likely to have a better life. Just something that I noticed in this sitcom and in most sitcoms.

The Big Bang Theory

15 Sep

The Big Bang Theory is by far one of my favorite shows on ABC. The sitcom centers around five characters; Leonard, a physicist, his roommate Sheldon, a smarter yet social impaired physicist, their two friends and coworkers Howard, a mechanical engineer, and Raj, an astrophysicist, and Penny, an aspiring actress who live across the hall from Leonard and Sheldon. Throughout the series, the intellect and the nerdiness of the four men are portrayed as the comic effect of Penny’s superior social skills and common sense. Due to the men’s’ lack of physical prowess, Penny the feminine heroine is often portrayed as strongest member of the group.
Aside from the brilliantly produced plot, characters, and comedic jokes, the Big Bang Theory portrays a sense of breaking the stereotypes of modern sitcoms. Usually when a sitcom is being made, you usually find the guy with the most muscles the one who gets the pretty girl and the one who is the nerdiest pretty much dies alone. This actually makes me relate back to the article ‘Judging A Movie By It’s Cover’ where it goes into how women are usually sexualized and how men are usually aggressive. That is usually the case, but this sitcom is different. There are times where Penny has been portrayed as the sexual interest of the group, but as the show progresses she tends to show her masculinity. In an earlier episode, Sheldon attempts to steal a Lord of the Rings ring from Penny while she is sleeping. He then fails, and out of instinct, Penny punches Sheldon in the face, causing a bloody nose and him run away screaming like a little girl. In that scene we see Penny demonstrating her masculine prowess, while Sheldon demonstrates his weak femininity. We often see women as helpless things and men as their protectors and not the other way around. The Big Bang Theory is a clear example of breaking stereotypes and it contains more examples like this.

Blog Entry #1 by Alexander Westcott

2 Sep

          Media has become a massively powerful tool that has changed the lives of people worldwide. It has become a very important instrument in everyone’s life, including my own. But with a powerful tool such as media, a question is now asked. Is media a purveyor of ideology? Do we really see it as an influential part of our lives? There is a term for this, and that term is obliviousness. Media can be a purveyor of ideology, but most of us are unaware of when it is taking effect on us. During one of my Media and Identity classes, we were studying the effects that the move Shark Tale had on ideology. I had no idea that movie had such an impact with the hegemonic codes; where the two underdogs work together, and the counter-hegemonic codes; where all the racial stereotypes come to place. I had never thought that the movie had more to offer than just entertainment.
          In spite the fact that media has a powerful influence on the viewers, how it influences them is a broad case. The influential structure of media can influence some people while it can be ineffective to the other side. It all depends on who the person is and what his beliefs are. An example of this would be from the scholarly article Television News and the Cultivation of Fear of Crime. The article talks about testing the cultivation theory that fear of crime is fueled by violent dramatic programing on television. To prove this, they surveyed over two thousand Philadelphia residents in a five year span. Their theory succeeded to their side, but I believe that this might not have been tested properly. In my opinion, the theory only worked because they tested it only in an area where there was likely to be crime. They should have performed the test in areas with less crime to see if the results would be the same. But the test in Philadelphia goes back to what I said earlier. Because residents of Philadelphia have lived there for a while, their cultivated lifestyle is used to the fear of crime. In conclusion, mass media can be a purveyor of ideology, but how it influences depends on the viewer.