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Reflection on Class Identity

9 Mar

I think this blog assignment was very interesting and eye opening. I chose to discuss class identity within the media and I think it has really shown me a different side to media and the storylines that are typically followed.

Both TV shows and movies did a great job of addressing class identity, and not always in a positive way. I think that the TV show Grey’s Anatomy addressed it well but I also believe that it was not always a realistic portrayal. This was not necessarily a bad thing since it was obvious to the audience that the directors were not always trying to make a realistic storyline but tried to keep it fictional in order to simply entertain.

One assignment that really made me reconsider the way class identity is portrayed in the media was the movie In Time. Even when I watched the film the first time I really gave me a different perspective on how class is an important part of our society and that many don’t always realize what it may seem like to some. For example, in the movie, the upper class were treated as royalty and they were kept separate from everyone else, as if they were on their pedistle. To lower class, that made them feel worthless and inadequate, which is low members of the lower class and even middle class of our society may feel everyday, even in situations most of us may not take so seriously.

Discussing class identity also made me be more aware of stereotyping and priming. When we learned in class how people feel that they’ve been stereotyped into a less important group they will then care less and actually believe they are worthless, I thought about class identity and how stereotypes can force that feeling upon people. Priming also came to mind because of how class identity is portrayed in the media. Even though the stories are fictional and it’s obvious, such as Grey’s Anatomy, priming still occurs because they’re creating schemas for people and then they have misperceptions of what that situation may be like in reality. This is definitely difficult to handle, specially if this occurs in a hospital.

I think a great way to work on how class identity is portrayed in the media is to give it a more realistic spin. Don’t allow so much drama to happen within a show that it results in someone slapping their boss or treating their employees like trash. I think if this behavior was stopped in the media then it would not occur in real life which would result in less appearances in media. The way things are portayed in media and then enacted in real life is definitely a continuous chain. I believe in order for their to be change you have to pick a spot and start there and media is definitely a great start, especially TV and films.

In Time, In Society

2 Mar

Group: Class Identity

Summary: I chose to watch In Time, which was released in October of 2011, stars Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wild and Cillian Murphy. The plot of this movie is based in the future where everything revolves around time. Everyone stops at aging at 25 and in order to continue living they work for time. If you run out, you die. The storyline follows Will Salas, a 29-year-old low class worker that is given time from a wealthy man over 100 years old. When Will (Timberlake) is accused of his murder, he rebels against the wealthy and controllers/distributors of the time. Seyfried’s character, the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in the world, teams up with Timberlake and the movie continues with a lot of action and romance.

Analysis: The movie In Time revolves around class identity and the entire point of the movie is about class level and privilege. Amanda Seyfried’s character, Sylvia, and her entire family are the wealthiest in the district, which means they have an unlimited amount of time. They can use this time just as they would money, so they’re living in a lavish home with many materialistic objects. Timberlake’s character, Will, however, is the opposite. The country has been divided up into districts and Will lives in one of the poorest most underprivileged districts. It’s very noticeable throughout the movie as they move from one district to another, which is similar to crossing a boarder, that they have been divided base on class level. They travel from the wealthiest to a more middle class and then the ‘dumps’.

It’s a very extreme portrayal of class identity and how it plays out in society but it also seemed like fair way to explain how it may be perceived to some members of our actual society. For example, in the movie, time is like money and they can spend it, invest it or blow it. For members of our lower class, time may have that value to them. People in our society that could be struggling with many responsibilities other than being able to work or maintain the ‘American Dream’ lifestyle could feel that they’re always running low on time and that’s what causes their struggle. This is why I believe the lower classes view of reality is defined as most real because the entire movie in itself is like a metaphor for their reality. Also, the reality of middle and lower class is portrayed as the most common, because there was only one district in the film that consisted of the wealthy. This, I believe, is pretty accurate because in our society the middle and lower class definitely out number the upper class.

I think the upper class definitely benefits from the representation, but so does the lower class. The upper class is displayed as prestigious and beautiful, which can be a good boost of ego, but that’s the only benefit in this film. They’re also portrayed as selfish, greedy, oblivious to actual hardship and vain. This puts a negative viewpoint of what the upper class is and who they can be, when in reality, they may not be those things. Few obviously know but the film had a very stereotypical twist on the upper class.

The lower class benefited and also did not. One example of how they did not benefit was the way many members of the lower class district were portrayed as criminals and addicts. Just as the upper class, these stereotypes may be accurate but that could be because of how frequently they are portrayed that way in films. The lower class was benefited because the film showed the underdog conquering and winning in the end. Granted it is a fictional story and did not follow a realistic storyline but, regardless, Will defeated the strong and that is enduring and motivational.

This is why I also think the audience would interpret the decisions made by the designers of this film in a positive way. It is always nice to see the good guy come out on top in the end with the ‘riches’, girl and happiness. It’s also even nicer when the good guy is someone most viewers can relate to and have a connection to.

Response: I think this movie was really interesting, fun and worth watching. I would even watch it again just for the entertainment. But as a good representation of the theories were learning in class, it’s adequate and it works, but just as other movies and shows I’ve watched for this assignment it’s painfully obvious it’s fiction and that makes me aware of how it cannot be entirely accurate for representing our society. However, it also makes me aware of how influential our society is so, therefore, we’re being strongly influenced by fictional movies that that’s contributing to our society in a negative way. We’re trying to become something we either can’t be because of laws and norms or we’re striving for something that is unrealistic and unsafe. I think it’s becoming difficult for our society to differentiate between entertainment and something to aspire to.

Class Identity = The Notebook

24 Feb

Group: Class Identity

Summary: For this blog I chose to watch The Notebook, which was released in 2004. The Notebook is a fictional film based on Nicholas Sparks best selling novel. The story follows the love story of a lower class man, Noah, and an upper class woman, Allie. The movie spans from the beginning of their relationship as young adults having a summer romance throughout the time they spend apart before finally coming back together, forever.  Ryan Gosling plays Noah and Rachel McAdams plays Allie; Ryan and Rachel had impeccable chemistry while on set and it shows in the film, as it’s difficult to remember it’s not a true story.

Analysis: Class identity plays a strong role in The Notebook. It’s evident from the moment Noah and Allie’s characters meet, because he is a lower class worker that lives at home with his father and she is the daughter of a very wealthy family, preparing to leave for college. The movie takes place in the 1940s, and Noah mentions to Allie’s family at one point in the film that he only makes 30 cents an hour, to which Allie’s entire family has a notable reaction to, especially her mother.

Allie’s family is not happy about her relationship with Noah throughout the entire film, until the very end. Her mother even calls Noah ‘trash’. The movie, in my opinion, makes a realistic portrayal of how life was in the 1940s and that, even still today, having a relationship with someone of lower status is typically not acceptable and frowned upon. Also, in particular at the time period this movie is based in, it is even more of an issue when the man has less money because he is expected to take care of the woman and supply her with all that she needs.

The reality I believe was portrayed as the most believable and real would actually be nearly all of the characters. It was a very realistic portrayal of the class identity situation, except that they ended up together in the end. Personally, I don’t believe in reality there would have been such a ‘happily ever after’. However, the way Noah’s life as a worker in a lumbar yard who joins the army and then comes back to still live in his hometown was very realistic, as well as the way Allie went onto school to become a nurse and then becoming engaged to a man of money.

The representation doesn’t supply a very realistic and real benefit except as entertainment. As I said, they end up together happily ever after and, as much as everyone loves a happy ending, the reality of that happening may not have been as likely. This is why I believe the sole main purpose of this film was to entertain, encourage hope and to promote the ‘all you need is love’ mentality, and this is also how I think the audience interprets the storyline. It’s a fictional story that was made for entertainment but also maintained a fair amount of realistic accuracy.

Response: I absolutely love The Notebook. It’s a movie that I have seen countless times and it’s a classic, in my opinion. I also think it was definitely made as a fictional story just to entertain and that even though it sticks fairly well to a realistic plot it still was not made to make a statement. Class identity in this film is extremely noticeable because that is what the story is built upon and I believe it’s a fair portrayal of what class identity can be.

Justified Grey’s

17 Feb

Group: Class Identity

 

Summary: I chose to watch Grey’s Anatomy, on Thursday at 9:00pm on ABC. This week’s episode was primarily about the residents and the actions asked of them in the hospital. At the time of this season, all residents are practicing for their oral board exams and Alex Karev has been requiring one of his interns to quiz him throughout the day. Due to this distraction, he did not notice when the intern, who was pregnant, had a mild heart attack and went into premature labor. Meredith Grey was also a an important aspect of this episode because she was asked to work with Callie, an attending, on removing a man’s hand from a meat grinder. Lastly, Derek Shepard was very wary of working with his sister, who is a recovering drug addict, on a dangerous surgery.

I also watched Justified, which airs on FX every Tuesday at 10:00pm. Justified is about Raylan Givens, a U.S. Marshal sent back to his hometown in Kentucky due to his unruly behavior. This week’s episode followed a prison guard and nurse in rural Kentucky that helped break out a well known fugitive, Dicky Bennett, in order to steal money that has been hidden since his arrest. Raylan ends up finding Dicky and putting him back in prison after a small confrontation.

Analysis: Grey’s Anatomy has always been very adamant in their displays of class identity. One of the prime examples from this episode was when Alex did not notice his pregnant interns illness. Due to his superiority, she never mentioned her symptoms to him because she was afraid of being weak. By the end of the episode, however, Alex became aware of his unfair actions and spent the rest of the episode at her bed side, not studying. The way this portion of the show played out reminded me of hegemonic behaviors because he is superior in the job, as well as a male. Callie and Meredith’s relationship was also a good example of class identity. With the oral boards approaching, Meredith has been looking for a study buddy, which Callie is perfect for because she’s a studying genius. In order for Callie to be willing to study with Meredith, Meredith was required to work exceptionally hard that day and had to prove herself, more on a personal note than a professional one. This shows how the relationships in this show continue to maintain aspects of class identity outside of their careers and within their personal relationships.

Justified is primarily all about class identity. Raylan is the law and what he says goes, and if not, he enforces it with his gun. Granted, he is always fighting for right and not wrong but it is always made obvious, in ever episode, that he is superior, regardless. His superiority, however, is not recognized like it is in Grey’s Anatomy. Since the storyline is placed in rural Kentucky, Raylan’s hometown, his job title is not what gives him his class status but, instead, his reputation. Class identity in this show is not abused or always portrayed in a negative way but usually in a more positive and fair way. Raylan does not always abuse his power as a police officer but he does take advantage of the way his reputation helps keep the law in line.

As usual, the benefit usually goes to the person with a higher level of class, but Grey’s Anatomy always has a small twist that evens the field: Meredith being about to work with Callie and Morgan, Alex’s intern, being apologized to. Also, the perspective is pretty equivalent to ‘the common’, because it is well known that this is the most relatable to the viewers. It’s more common to be like the residents where you’re taken advantage of, to an extent, or are required to prove your worthiness. It’s less common to have the ability to be the person taking advantage or asking so much of inferior workers.

Justified is similar in this aspect. The writer’s of Justified seem to be more aware that this is a fictional show and don’t bother focusing as much on the realistic side of the storyline. The writer’s of the show mostly try to appeal to the fantasy side of a viewer’s perspective because, in our society, criminals are not usually frightened by words and gossip but action. This show gives Raylan a sense of hardness through reputation, as I’ve stated earlier.

Response: I really like this episode of Grey’s Anatomy because it’s always interesting when Alex realizes when he’s been wrong, especially when he tries to correct it. I don’t believe the writer’s of this series intentionally follow a male dominance style, but it was very obvious in this episode: Derek being dominant over his ‘fragile’ sister, Alex treating his pregnant intern unfairly, even Mark Sloan, an attending, was very harsh with Miranda Bailey, a resident, who was frantic and emotional during the episode.

Justified is a show I like to watch because of the violence, sarcasm and the unrealistic portrayal of the good guys and the way they maintain their role. Class identity in this show is more realistic than other shows I have watched for this assignment but the storyline itself is not. I find that interesting that the writers and actors are able to maintain that relationship but I also find it understandable because fantasy and fiction are obviously entertaining.

 

Grey’s Anatomy: Never Black and White

20 Jan

Summary: I watched the Grey’s Anatomy episode “Hope For The Hopeless” that shows on ABC at 9:00pm Thursday nights. This episode focuses on how Richard, the previous chief of surgery, performs his 10,000th surgery and, as usual, the drama that follows. Teddy is also still struggling with the death of her husband, and her and Christina cope by rebelling against the chief’s wishes and orders. Derek and Lexi perform a risky surgery on a young boy, which doesn’t end positively.

Analysis: In typical Grey’s style, class order and power is not properly distributed or realistically portrayed. When Richard arrives at the hospital, everyone is congratulating him on his 10,000th surgery and a large party is planned in his honor. Even though he is no longer the chief of surgery, it makes me wonder if he had never held that position would everyone be so inclined to acknowledge his achievement. News stations were even called in to interview him and snap photos while he was in the OR, which did not seem like a very realistic portrayal. Class identity was also wrongly identified when Christina and Teddy deliberately did exactly what Owen, the chief resident and husband to Christina, told them not to do. Owen did not want them performing a specific surgery or disrespecting him anymore and when they had the opportunity they did just that, then laughed in his face. This goes against all ideas of what a hierarchical status would be and, in all honesty, how it should be.

The commercials were very consistent and repetitive. The commercial by H&R Block and an advertisement for a new show entitled ‘The River’ were shown nearly four times each. Nearly all commercials had humor, music or something attractive to look at: artistic quality or beautiful people. There were also several commercials that were trying to make a sale. Whether it was car insurance, Colgate or restaurants, the purpose of four out of five commercials were to make a profit. Overall, class identity was not very evident in the commercials. The characters were not complex or hard to understand. They were mostly relatable and had simple dialogue, which I believe was the goal of the writers. This way, the audience would be able to understand and relate to the commercial which resulted in a higher appeal, which then can result in the audience making a purchase or giving their support to whatever company is being advertised.

Response: I think Grey’s Anatomy gives the wrong impression on class identity and order within a hospital. Even though people in a higher position do tend to receive better treatment and have more luxury, large parties that have media coverage does not seem likely. Also, it gives the notion that is acceptable and normal for people to argue or mock their bosses. When Christina and Teddy laughed in Owen’s face and deliberately disobeyed him, I couldn’t help but think that this would have never been acceptable in real life. The same situation applies to Lexi when she told Derek what to do. Even though they’re all doctors and their opinions should be valued, residents do not have the right to disrespect attendings or the chief of surgery in such ways.

However, I do remember past episodes when the character Miranda Bailey would acknowledge how there was no structure and order in the hospital. She would call out several surgeons for their behaviors and this helps me respect the writers of the show for being aware of how fictional their storyline truly is.

Lastly, the commercials during this episode of Grey’s Anatomy were very similar to commercials on past episodes. They’re usually companies advertising their product and then a trailer of other shows or movies that are shown on the same channel. They were very simple and easy to watch, so the creators definitely succeeded in their goal: simplicity and straightforwardness.

The Gray Area of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

14 Jan

Group: Class Identity

Summary: For this blog entry I chose to watch ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and focus on the role of class identity. This weeks episode was titled The Magic Moment, which involved a lot of drama, blood, and tears. The show is based at Seattle Grace Hospital in Washington and follows the personal and professional lives of several surgeons. This episode focused primarily on a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ surgery that involved the majority of the doctors: separating twins. Bailey and Meredith were in a separate surgery, as well as Christina, April and Teddy. All of the characters in this drama have intertwined lives and they have never applied the concept of keeping your personal life separate from your professional life for the past seven seasons.

Analysis/Application: Class identity is very evident in this primetime show, primarily because it is based on the lives of doctors. There needs to be a certain level and amount of power distributed in the realm of health care and Grey’s Anatomy strongly sticks to that method. Derek Shepherd, Mark Sloan and Teddy Altman are the attendings while Owen Hunt is the Chief of Surgery. Meredith Grey, Miranda Bailey, Arizona Robins, Callie Torres, Christina Yang, Alex Karev, Lexi Grey, and April Keptner are the main residents. Each character has a title, just as in the real world, and they stick to their duties and structure.

In this episode, class identity was very strongly emphasized by the way Teddy treated Christina and April. There was a situation when April raised her voice at Teddy and even though there weren’t any repercussions, it was still a tense moment in the show.  In real life, however, the situation would not have gone over as smoothly. Another situation this occurred in was when Bailey and Meredith were working on a surgery together. Bailey, who has the same title as Meredith, told her to come work with her and Meredith agreed. Even though these are small instances of power and control, they’re still there.

Also, the show itself gives the intention that each character, regardless of title and experience, have power and a sense of higher class simply because they’re doctors. They’re portrayed as more prestigious and more important, especially based on the short interludes of each episode. The show manages to keep the viewers entertained and engaged, as well as making you feel inadequate and somewhat powerless because you do not possess the same amount of power as the characters supposedly do. The above examples of power and status is a prime example of how the show manages to make the viewers seem incompetent: even though there is hierarchy within the hospital, the doctors still do what they want and when they want it. Power and status doesn’t always matter in Seattle Grace and that is not realistic.

 Reflection: At first glance, Grey’s Anatomy seems like a modern day drama about doctors and their relationships with one another in Seattle, Washington. However, in an oppositional view, the show has very typical and ritualistic aspects. For example, the smartest and most professional character, Christina, is Asian. All of the doctors are extremely good looking, rich and seem to have flawless lives that always manage to work out. The target audience is obviously young and middle aged women, particularly because of its drama and sex appeal, but it could easily offend doctors and nurses in the real world. The jokes that are consistently made about nurses and their inferiority would be very offensive and not true. Of course, no such jokes were made this episode. Lastly, the sole reality that seems the most believable and plausible in Grey’s Anatomy is that of the patients and their families. The show does a spectacular job at making the health situations very believable and accurate but, unfortunately, the lives of the doctors and main characters are strongly fictional and there’s no mistaking it.