Thursday, March 29, 2012

Discussion Points for "The Rise of the Female Anchor"

I think the bottom line Alessandra Stanley is trying to make, is that women are overlooked in television news. They are seen as too sensitive, incapable of doing a “man’s” job, and are not taken seriously. It portrays this ideal of women having to use style and personality to succeed in this field. The author uses women like Katie Couric and Dyane Sawyer to support her argument, and exemplify how they fit this ideology of how women should be represented in television news as an anchor.

Why do you think women that show their ambition too openly are punished for it?

Discussion Points: Media Images, Feminist Issues

Bottom Line:
            Throughout the 20th Century, women found it difficult to voice their opinions in many media outlets such as political campaigns, television, and feminist movements. Although media coverage has been shaped in a way that portrays the male perception of women issues, feminist views are oppressed by gender bias, which make it harder for women to fully voice their opinions. 

Do shows such as Oprah and The View have certain restrictions as to what issues on women they can address on television being that their main target audience is women?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Media Moments:"Hunger Games" Cast Subjected to Racist Attacks In Shocking Tweets!

As students of a Women and the Media course, one can only feel happy to see that African American women and men are being given, not "black roles" but an "equal role" in current films like "Hunger Games," knowing that they have been underepresented in the media, and have not been given many major roles, let alone two. However, the so-called fan's of "Hunger Games" tweets beg to differ: Hunger Games Cast Subjected to Racist Attacks In Shocking Tweets Biggoted fans objected to the characters;Stenberg and Okeniyi being "darker" than what the book portrayed them to be. One of the most outrageous tweets was;"Why did the producer make all the good characters black?" I wonder if the dissaproval of these actors will affect their future appearances in the sequel or other major films, but hopefully it will be outweighed by supporting audiences.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Media Moment: Employer requests for Facebook passwords

Holy mackerel! Could you imagine getting ready for a job interview, you’ve waited what seems a lifetime for -- or any job interview for that matter, and the next thing you know, your prospective employer is inquiring about your Facebook password to review your social media credentials?! Uh, pretty bogus right?! It Kind of makes you second guess that image you were about to post or that status update you were about to tell your friends. The absurd thing is, certain employers are actually asking job seekers for such thing! In any case that a company didn’t hire a prospective employer, because of their Facebook inquiries regarding race, gender, religion, and age, job agencies could fall liable for claims of discrimination upon these findings of personal information.
Do you think supervisors should have the ability to ask prospective employers to provide their social media credentials or do you think it is violating federal law?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Media Moments - Roseanne Barr runs for President

Prior to our future discussion in class on Roseanne Barr, I came across an interesting article related to her. In a time of political unrest, everyone is beginning to believe that they too can do a better job as President. Roseanne being the outspoken entertainer that she is, decided that she is going to run for the presidency.
It is not uncommon for an actor to become President. There was Ronald Reagan who was an actor before being a politician.

Being that Roseanne is stubborn, hard headed, and comedic do you believe that she can run the country?
Or do you think that she is not serious and this is a publicity stunt?

Discussion Points-"And I Know"

What is the bottom line? What is the point the author is trying to make in this
reading? What is their thesis/ their argument?

Roseanne Barr discusses her difficulty in keeping her perspective, and feministic 
views while in Hollywood.

This article displayed the pressures of remaining true to your self identity  in Hollywood. In an atmosphere where many in Hollywood change who they are to become popular Roseanne, showed how she rose above it and stayed true to herself. 
What I liked about this article is it showed Roseanne's strength not only a 
person but as a female as well. 

In the article Roseanne mentions an argument she had with Matt over a line change. Matt wanted Roseanne's character to say something along the lines of“You’re my equal in bed, but that’s it.” Instead of conforming to the boss, she argued for hours because she believed her character would not say that. In the end she won against Matt. This argument was empowering because she did not and refused to back down. 
It was a great feeling that she never settled while filming the show. It 
makes me wonder what the show would have been, if she would be like 
Margaret Cho and change to please. Would the show be the same success? Also 
Roseanne claims that her show, is the last feminist and working-class-family 
sitcom. However, I beg to differ. I believe that the ABC television program THE 
MIDDLE displays the same, modern, and feministic approach Roseanne had. Can
anyone else think of a program similar to Roseanne? Or is her show the only
feminist and working-class-family sitcom?

Discussion Points for Roseanne: unruly woman as domestic goddess

Bottom line: Roseanne’s overall character threatens the dominant ideology of femininity all together. Deemed as grotesque, slouchy, excess, loose and fat, Rosanne’s critics attempted to contain her unruliness that challenged traditional values. Though subject to ridicule, Roseanne was able to embody the unruly domestic goddess and portray it as a positive image.

 1.Why is it that Roseanne was portrayed so negatively in the media but was so well received by audiences? Is she seen as a threat to them? (The media)
2.  How does her character threaten the dominant ideologies in place?
 3. Are there any other actresses or characters that can be categorized as the Unruly domestic goddess?
4.Does Margret Cho have similar attributes to Roseanne’s character? Can she be considered unruly as well?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Afghanistan women set themselves on fire!

The readings we had were about Muslim and Arab women not being opressed and how compared to American culture treatment of women is pretty much the same we just dress different and observe different ways of expressing our selves. I remembered the issue of women in the middle east setting themselves on fire so thier husbands wouldn't want them anymore and divorce them but the the outcomes were usually fatal. Domestic violence in America is a very prevalent issue, but battered women here have not come up with solutions as creative/symbolic as setting themselves on fire. Not to say that this is not an interesting read but one point made in the readings was that the media would rather us focus on the negative things that happen in other countries to build and reienforce the image that America is good and everywhere else is bad, when in fact American Media tends to neglect our own issues by not giving them the much needed attention they deserve.

What are issues you wish the media would focus on, on our own shores.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Media Moment...Key & Peele: Gay Marriage legalized

This past week I came across an episode of Comedy Central's new show Key & Peele. Similar to the Chapelle show format, Key & Peele star in their own sketches typically rooted in satirizing stereotypes, social normatives, and political issues. I was initially intrigued by the show after watching one of its early commercials (which can be viewed here) noticing that the were directly challenging and commenting on cultural and social schemas as it relates to the people of color as well as the white community (the majority of their sketches can be viewed on youtube).

In this particular skit the two actors play two gay men in front of what appears to be a city hall building celebrating the legalizing of gay marriage. 

Key's character is more reserved while his partner is much more flamboyant and outgoing. It's interesting to note how in their dialogue, Key's character constantly brings up the fact that the idea of marriage is something that he is not necessarily convinced of quite yet as opposed to his partner who fantasizes about their future. This back and forth between the two challenges certain schemas and hegemonic structures. Those being: B) Marriage is bliss or equates to happiness and that B) the legalizing of marriage constitutes or represents the desire of every LGBT individual. The skit supports the idea that marriage requires just as much consideration for the homosexual individual as do heterosexual couples, offering a different take on the subject then what is normally displayed in mainstream media. While this is a comedic sketch, its subtext is one of a much more serious and necessary discussion in both homosexual and heterosexual circles as to what are the implications of marriage beyond simply a government passed privileged. These types of conversations are typically not raised in mainstream media or in a 20/20 segment for instance yet Key & Peele are using comedy as a medium to offer smart and funny takes on these issues. By doing this they are in some sense unifying the personal and individual struggles of people and not just heterosexuals as it relates to marriage. The idea of marriage is not simply a debate between couples in heterosexual couples but rather one that is equally important in both sectors, and Key & Peele continue to use their sketches to tackle the notions of marriage. 

Question: Why do you feel that these kinds of discussions are not presented in mainstream media? In your opinion can the comedic structure allow the issues to be taken more seriously or do these issues need to be presented in a different context? Are we in a post-gay society where these issues are diminishing or have we simply neglected these kinds of conversations and why? 

Discussion Points for Homa Hoodfar's "The Veil in Their Minds and On Our Heads"

Information About The Article:

Homa Hoodfar illuminates the reader with the origins of the various veils worn by Muslim women and explains the ways in which the veil has been used by both Westerners and Muslims alike to facilitate their own person goals for either continued oppression or liberation. As Hoodfar states “veiling is a lived experience full of contradictions and multiple meanings” (Pg. 5).  Some women wear it because it is so socially ingrained that a proper women wears it and that to do otherwise makes them feel naked.  Some women wear it to fight the oppressive colonial influence in the Middle East and North Africa.  Some women wear it as a symbol of feminine empowerment.  Hoodfar points out that the veil is not directly forced by Islam, and instead has been adopted through interpretations of religious text.  The misconceptions and misinterpretations of the veil and it’s actual place in Islam and Muslim culture illustrates the underlying ignorance and racism of Western culture towards Muslims.  The Western patriarchy uses the veil as a way to show how good women in the west have it, and they should be grateful they aren’t oppressed in such a way, thus reinforcing the patriarchy.  This is mentality then permeates Western feminists and they in turn try to implement their feminist belief structures on Third World Women, with no care for these women’s actual desires for equality, thus perpetuating the oppression and ignorance. As Homa Hoodfar explains this forces Muslim women  to choose between fighting racism and fighting sexism, and in her opinion they shouldn't have to choose at all.

Questions For The Class:

Before reading this article did you know the history of veiling, or the realities of the practice?
How far have we come since the 90’s in regards to understanding veiling and the various ways in which it is used considering how veiling has since been outlawed in some countries in the West? 
Do you believe countries have a right to ban veiling?
Do you believe veiling to be oppressive and a reinforcement of a patriarchal system?

Lucy Liu to play Watson on new Sherlock Holmes Adaptation

Actress Lucy Liu

Veteran television and film actress Lucy Liu has been cast to play Sherlock Holmes' loyal sidekick, Watson, in a pilot episode of a new CBS adaptation of the popular detective stories.  The show, "Elementary" is being marketed as a modern, updated retelling of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's beloved short stories.  It comes at a time when the BBC's "Sherlock" - also a modernized version - has been a critical and commercial success in spite of its somewhat radical approach.  Liu's character, Jane Watson, is a former surgeon and NYPD consultant who platonically assists Sherlock Homes in solving mysterious crimes. 

Although this is not the first time that a woman has filled the role of Watson on the small screen, Liu's status as an Asian American woman has sparked more than a little controversy across the web following the breaking of this news.  The Guardian's TV & Radio blog scoffed at the idea, writing,
Now, the easiest thing to do when presented with this news would be to slap your head in despair. Watson? A woman? What madness is this? Won't this cancel out the asexual ambiguity of Sherlock's character? Why stop there? Why not make Watson a child, or a alien, or a rapping cartoon animal?

 Comparing, even equating, a woman in the role of Watson to an alien or a "rapping cartoon animal" playing the character is, at least to me, extremely offensive.   Even more so is the author's absurd claim that Holmes' sexual ambiguity will certainly be comprised by the addition of a female Watson.  In his opinion, apparently, men and women cannot work together productively without a relationship or sexual intrigue developing.

The shock and resistance to a female, Asian Watson is clearly quite fierce.  A meme even appeared on Buzzfeed which illustrates more blowback to the idea of Liu as Watson:

It bears mentioning that the Sherlock Holmes series of short stories was written by a Scottish author, and first appeared in 1887.  At that time in Europe, more than a century ago, most detectives and their assistants (and, moreover, most publishers of literature) were privileged white men.  Since then, these stories have been enjoyed by many people from all walks of life and society itself has changed dramatically.  That the characters in our modern myths, such as Sherlock Holmes, could or should reflect this shifting social structure, seems to me an incontrovertible matter.  That is not to say that "Elementary" as a television program will be good or bad - just that its quality should not be assessed even before it has been released, solely on the casting director's choice of an actor of a certain gender or race. 

How do my classmates feel about this casting decision? What are the potential positive and negative effects that such a casting could have on this program? Do you think (or even, hope) that this could be part of a trend in more-inclusive casting of women/minorities into "traditional" characters?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Expedia Commercial Endorses Asian Male Inferiority

Our last week's analysis in desexualization of the Asian male brought forward my attention to the new Expedia commercial, released in January of 2012. The above clip shows Michael Ian vacationing around the world, filling the role of the dominant, white, heterosexual male. Towards the end of the clip, Ian is seen to be pursuing a woman, when he is interrupted by an Asian man wearing the same sweater. The man is portrayed as clumsy, stumpy, foreign, and stripped of all forms of  masculinity. Ian's initial reaction to noticing their matching attire is a form of embarrassment and shame. By wearing the same sweater as the Asian man, Ian is symbolically castrated. Such a portrayal depicts the oppression and inferiority induced by the media on Asian men. The commercial projects the dominant ideology of the white, male dominance and once again creates a social hierarchy, where the minorities are placed at the bottom of the ladder. 

Question:How would the commercial differ if Ian and another white male were wearing the same attire? 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Black Perspective in Hollywood

After taking this class and watching this video, I was very engaged in what Viola Davis was saying and how she as a working actress of color has dealt with the pressures of Hollywood's stereotypes. We are consistently bombarded with stereotypes in media, which in actuality alters such amazing and talented actors and actress due to the pure fact that they don't fit Hollywood's standard in appearance. I found it very interesting what George Clooney was saying about how studio heads view the public. After watching this video I did further research on this and came across an amazing article, to elaborate further on this issue.

After watching the video and reading the article what are you thoughts on Charlize Theron's reaction to what Viola Davis was saying? Why do you think her response was so simple and what where your reactions to what the other actors where saying? How did you feel after watching the video and reading the article?

Ling Woo in Historical Context: The New Face of Asian American Stereotypes on Television

Sun explains what historical stereotypes have existed for Asian women and how they have hyper sexualized the Asian women in order to maintain the myth of white male virility and superiority. Traditionally these stereotypes have consisted of the Lotus Blossom Baby, ultra feminine and submissive and the Dragon Lady, cunning and dangerous. Both of course are subject to hyper sexualization; the Lotus Blossom being geisha like and submissive while the dragon lady often takes a femme fatale like role.
Finally moving onto Ling Woo, Sun presents the ambiguity of her role in the media. She can be viewed both as a strong woman taking control of her sexuality, unafraid to speak her mind but it can also be argued (with ease) that she is simply another way to hyper sexualize Asian women, ultimately feeding the white male myth of Asian women existing for His sexual pleasure.

This hyper sexualization is not unique to Asian women. Latin women are assumed to be Caliente at all times while Black women have been seen as exotic and sexually charged since they were first forcefully brought to America. Why do you think white America continues to push these stereotypes today? Do you think the novelty and perception of Non white women as exotic will wear off ?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Communist Sterotypes in Penguins of Madagascar

     While most cartoons in the 1950's and 1960's victimized and oppressed certain cultural groups, primarily minorities, I found it fascinating that these stereotypes are still openly swimming in today's cartoon industry. As a nanny, I usually shift the children's leisure time away from television programs and any materials associated with the mainstream industry. However, during my shift this week I softened my standards and got pushed over into letting one of the girls to watch an airing of her favorite cartoon "Penguins of Madagascar". During the viewing of the episode, I encountered  yet another alarming element in the media.One of the characters in the show, a plumber,  Gus portrays a clumsy, Russian meat-head, who owns a business entitled Babushka Plumbing.
 As comical and innocently funny as his character might be, this depiction provokes the already existent negative connotations of the Russian community. Gus's broken English, his Lenin-based work ethic, and immense physical strength all translate into the endorsement of the Cold War tension that hurricaned through United States from the late 40's til the early 90's. As an immigrant, I found this episode to be extremely detrimental and offensive to the Russian demographic.It's immensely disappointing to see these constructions being fed to the youngest generation, due to the fact that such negative portrayal formulates a vicious cycle of oppression. Despite the fact that Cold War ended in 1991, American television still holds the division ground between  United States and  the "Soviets".

     Do you find that the depiction of  the above stereotype is directly correlated to the previous historic and political events? What do you think is the primary driving force for its release?

Monday, March 5, 2012

For India the arrival of cable television and Western fashions and films has given today's teenagers the idea that thin is beautiful.

We spoke about this happening in Fiji.
Now, we can add India to the list.

If in fact media is our # 1 export, what is our national ethical responsibility around eating disorders?

Click on the image or here for a link to the story.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Media Moment, "AXE Noah's Ark Commercial."

Being a Christian is something I truly take to heart so when I came across this Axe commercial, mirrored from the Bible story of Noah’s Ark, I was beyond LIVID!

Trying to type a full explanation of the immoral content of this ad, not only for Christians but also for females, would cause my keyboard to catch on fire so I will keep this in bulleted format.

  •  The ad it itself is a blaspheme of God, the Bible and it’s message. The story was not built to secure women for sexual purposes of one man- FAR from the Biblical truth.  
  • Nowhere does it state in the Bible that Noah was a white man.
  •  Noah didn’t use signs of Anarchy or the world ending to build the ark- it was constructed on a message of salvation. 
  •  Biblically, the ark itself was built to house animals; a male and female of every kind so that once the Flood was over, there would be offspring (it was to house people as well, those willing to go). The women in this ad are belittled to animals in the same fashion, two of a kind. The Noah-like actor is their Sheppard, directing them to sexual escapades, exercise, poll dancing, music and other “goodies” in his life saving ark.
  •  The Axe cologne is the only thing that draws these animalistic women to the ark- not by their own sense of safety from the fast approaching anarchy.
  • The women shown were mostly white, longhaired, slim, wearing skimpy, extra short, extra tight or flimsy clothing exposing body parts and the pairs were almost always twins.
  • Notice that the fruit “Noah” was cutting to eat was in the shape of a woman’s bottom, not only objectifying a woman’s body but also sexualizing it.
  •  At the point of the world’s end, “Noah”, spraying Axe to save the women of the land can be seen as the male savior for all women.
  • Lyrics in the song says, “Oh no oh yes no man can walk alone, this is chemical/ this is critical,” which I assume means a man can’t be alone so its very important that he gets women to “walk” with him. This is done by a chemical reaction, which is in this case, the Axe men’s body spray.
  •  Throughout the whole ad, “Noah” has a dog, an actual animal (man’s best friend) faithfully by his side showing that these women are merely play pieces in his game. It’s not realistic for a woman to be trustworthy or loyal so he uses many for one purpose- sex.
  • “Have a happy end of the world” is said at the end playing on the cultural ideas of the Mayans that the world will end in 2012. This basically says, since we’re all going to die this year, guys get some Axe 2012 and wait for the women and sexual escapades to begin- let life end with a bang. And women, because these guys smell undeniably good, get ready to be sex slaves because you wont be able to resist.

 I may have missed a couple of things but overall this Axe advertisement is disgusting. I understand its creative, definitely unforgettable and risqué and that the company, Unilever (the same company that makes Dove and their “Campaign for Real Beauty”- how ironic) wants to make money but I feel like standards have gone too low.

What I’d like to know is why do you think Axe is using Christian Biblical stories to promote their brand (there was also a “Fallen Angels” commercial as well)? Why not use a Jewish custom, a Hindu story from the Bhagavad Gita, or something from another religion? Why even use religion at all? Do you think the advertisement would’ve gotten much more flack had it been a play on another belief other than Christianity? 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Discussion Points for "What Does Race Have To Do With Ugly Betty?" by Jennifer Esposito

INFO: The article "What Does Race Have to Do With Ugly Betty?" by Jennifer Esposito examines the use of affirmative action by exploring the episode’s focus on race and privilege. After being told that she was chosen for an internship only to meet a quota, Betty begins to doubt her own abilities and starts to question the value of meritocracy. This emphasis of race over meritocracy in the episode exhibits how race still continues to structure our lives. Esposito also discusses the reverse discrimination that the character Marc faces since affirmative action allows minorities access to education and employment. Since affirmative action is present in society, it is debatable whether or not it is actually beneficial or unfair. The article shows the two separate views from minorities on affirmative action, between Betty (who thinks it is unethical) and her family (who think it is a great advantage). The author concludes the reading by advising that the only way to abolish racialized hierarchies is by examining the ways race, popular culture, history and the political economy support it.

QUESTION: In our society, what is the dominant ideology on affirmative action? Who is actually benefiting from this dominant ideology? Why do you think the ABC network is promoting this social ideology through it’s programming?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Discussion Points for Debra Merskin, Three Faces of Eva

Info About the Article: Merskin describes how Eva Longoria's character on Desperate Housewives falls into the three categories mentioned in the article which are the Cantina Girl (the sexual object), the Faithful, Self Sacrificing Senorita (the good girl, gone bad who protects her white love interest) and the Vamp (uses her intellect and sexuality to get whatever she wants and she brings men to act violent).  Longoria uses the fact that she is Hispanic and her sexuality in real life which does not make her so different from her character on television. The author ends the reading by stating that these stereotypes on televison make male viewers not  expect much from Hispanic females based on how they see them portrayed in real life and that leads to Hispanic females not expecting much for themselves.

Questions for the class: Do you guys think that all Hispanic actresses on American televison fall into the "Latina Stereotype"? and for the ones that do fall into that stereotype can they be taken seriously in Hollywood or are they stuck playing these roles in any other project they do?

Discussion notes for the article "The myth of the Latin woman: I just met a girl named Maria" by Judith Ortiz Cofer

The article by Judith Ortiz Cofer discusses the struggles of both cultural differences and stereotypes that Latin women face here in the united states and abroad. Judith bases these struggles in the idea that because of the cultural differences of Puerto Ricans and Caucasians, certain cultural identifications for the Latin female are often misinterpreted by White males and are thus perpetuated in mainstream society through the media. For the dominant white male culture all that is seen are these stereotypes instead of a consideration for their cultural differences and personal individuality. This occurs both publicly and within the business sector in which women are taken advantage of as a result of these misinterpretations and because of their lack of education. Judith emphasizes the importance of education for young Latin women as a means for social transformation first on an individual level and then in society at large.
Questions: Are the issues of misinterpretation presented by Ms. Cofer truly issues of misinterpretation or could this be a segway into a larger discussion that should be centered around gender roles and feminist arguments? How have you individually processed a situation where an individual identified you by a cultural stereotype? 

Media Moment, "Shit White Girls Say . . . to Black Girls"

Comedian Franchesca Ramsey posted her "Shit White Girls Say . . . to Black Girls" video to YouTube on January 4, 2012. Now, almost two months later, it has around 8.5 million views and 32,829 online comments. It's become one of the most viewed and most famous videos from the "Shit People Say" meme.

Franchesca got a lot of media attention for this video. The video's online comments made charges of racism, stereotyping and divisiveness, and media outlets covered the responses as a controversy. Franchesca pushed back. In this appearance on the Anderson Cooper Show she defends her video and her position.

For the class discussion tomorrow, think about these questions:

1. How do you read the "Shit White Girls Say . . . to Black Girls" video? Who is the intended audience? What is the video trying to say? Is it effective?

2. On the Anderson Cooper Show, how is Franchesca put on the defensive? What arguments does she make to defend herself?

3. Why did Anderson Cooper bring Franchesca's white friend on the show? What role does she play?

4. What is the ideology at play in this clip from the Anderson Cooper Show? How is racism treated and/or defined?