Week 13 Discussion

Group B and Grad Students post thoughts on readings/film here.  All others are welcome to comment on posts.

23 thoughts on “Week 13 Discussion

  1. Ryan Freels

    Actually, I would be cool with more transgender characters, that would be a major step of progress. Aside from that, there are athletic women in the real world, making the idea of a female superhero that is physically powerful not a huge stress. And when we have run tests to see if they are “woman” enough, as has been done in the olympics, it has been humiliating to them based on societal expectations of this and their sense of gender (Judith Lorber’s “Believing is Seeing: Biology as Ideology” goes into this pretty well). Also, individual biological variations over people that identify as male and female make sex a little less cut and dry. I think that would be a limiting and destructive route to take representation in comics. Also, its a genre full of science fiction and magic. Considering the nature of the worlds I think it could be believable. Now, I agree there needs to be more work with African American heroes, and would prefer more characters that our black rather than changing races. But considering how films and later comics play with the histories anyway, I wouldn’t mind them going ahead and changing their race.

    1. Michael Colucci

      Transgender characters would be cool to see more of. I personally think female characters make more badass characters then males do when they’re given the right context, I’d like to see more of that too.

  2. Charles Scott

    Viewers of animated media are especially good at identifying with animated “characters” due to the nature of animation. As we have discussed time and time again, animation is the best form of visual stimuli that is capable of depicting metamorphosis and transformation of forms.

    As children, we are frightened when a sunny day can immediately change into a dark, stormy night and when trees come to life in a menacing, inhuman way. We are encouraged to sympathize with our hero’s journey, and we become attracted to characters in ways that foster pre-pubescent sexual development.

    Identifying with animated characters is easy because these characters are inherently, constructs of a desire to relate to their human audiences. Animated characters are not human- but they can be modeled after humans; they are voiced by humans- but all of the dialogue is presupposed. An animated character is designed to appeal to us, but we are almost always very aware that they are not real in the same way that we are.

    It is possible that animated characters will be the first test of social interaction, and psychosocial development for children moving forward because there will always be animated media that is specifically aimed at young audiences. Animated characters will be as “real” and influential to people as their interactions with other human beings.

    1. Jeremy Thurlby

      At this point in time why would it be animation as a test os social skills or interaction? That seems such an outdated form. Why wouldn’t it be robotics or animatronics that could interact or “test” the child?

    2. Maggie Batson

      I feel like this idea kinda goes along with what we were talking about in class today with Fritz the Cat. In this situation the creators could depict specific social groups without the fear of singling out people. Things in society can be talked about and brought up in a way not just like Fritz the Cat, but also in a more productive way. Big ideas like racial issues and how to best deal with them and help prevent them can be easily taught to children without this fear of being too political.

  3. Jeremy Thurlby

    With in the Paul Wells reading he talks about the amount of people who have seen Disney films or own them outright as a testament of the “enjoyment and acceptance”. I believe that correlation doesn’t actually exist, it has more to do with marketing and business decisions. Simply put with disney controlling the market and few major challengers its easy that these are the films with often reminisce about. Disney’s act of rereleasing films with gold or limited editions releases helps create that icon statue and reinvigorate the viewer.

    With Static Shock it is rather difficult to comment one way or another in regards to the cultural references if one hasn’t seen the show. But Chaney makes for a good argument and detailed account for his case.

    In regard to South Park and Cartmens adaptation of blackness. I think especially in the time frame of the shows debut it was a quite common for white people to take on this role. I had many friends at this time taking on such personas, the show was merely Imitating society at large. This also coincides with the rise or frame of Eminem, being a white rapper with many of the associated stereotypes.

    The reference of King of the Hill, being hick or backwards depicting is off base. I will agree its a northern stereotype that ultimately is being depict or defended in this reading. I would assume if you ask someone from the south to comment you will get a completely different reactions. It ties in the Wells reading that each viewer bring with them their own experiences that they will react or respond to when viewing an animations

  4. Alejandra Vargas

    Michael Chaney’s reading argued how the popular animated shows, Static Shock, King of the Hill, and South Park, all represented appropriations of racially marked cultural forms. Although I’ve never watched Static Shock, Chaney has brought up good arguments that I have seen in other shows. Such as how the show fails at representing a black lead character as strong and independent, since he still needs the skills and approval of his white friend. I related this to the animated show, Archer, in which we have a black female lead, Lana, who is paired with the white handsome male, Archer. Not only that, but the fact that they show other black characters much darker in complexion than Lana, who is very light-skinned for a black woman, seems to be a cop out on representing her as a part of the African American community.
    This also correlates to the statement on how blacks are represented by certain characteristics, such as having an exotic and mysterious background. In this case, Archer represents Lana, as a beautiful, exotic woman, while one of the white females, Pam, is overweight and presents grotesque habits. Which brings us to the question of what if the roles were reversed, and how can they represent black characters without being offensive?
    As for Static’s white friend using Black English, I believe it was really unnecessary. It was as though the writers included it as a poor way of trying not to be racist if the white kid has a black friend, showing viewers it’s only okay for him to relate to his black friend’s slang, but not strangers.
    Chaney also included South Park for using Black English, which was a surprise to me. He used Eric Cartmen as an example, since his ‘accent’ seems to appropriate hip-hop culture. I never thought about it that way, since I though his voice was a correlation to him being an overweight brat. But aside from that, I also felt the show does a great job satirizing the characters and the show itself, that the viewers can’t really argue about the show being disgusting and racist, since it openly agrees to that. However, I agree with Chaney when stating how voice-over in cartoons creates the space in which racial performance emerges and mediates imagined rebel identities, since I’ve also argued on how voice-actors are mostly never the same race as the characters they are representing, and if this problem should be discussed.

    1. Daniel Vincent

      I agree with your assessment on Cartman’s voice, although I admit I haven’t seen much of early South Park. I found it fascinating simply because Chaney calls South Park homophobic and sexist too, and I’d disagree with that today. South Park has evolved to the point where although there are sexist and homophobic jokes, these jokes come from characters that you’re not supposed to empathize with, as South Park is a satirical show these days, rather than a purely comedic show. It does need more work on female representation, but it’s a nuanced show to discuss just thanks to its unique production schedule and previously-mentioned satirical-not-necessarily-comedic nature.

    2. Jon Booker

      It’s a nice comparison between Static and Lana. It kind of reminds me of the way that there was controversy with princess and the frog when the first black princess was a frog for seventy-five percent of the film. I feel like it is just a matter of they do not want to offend everyone, but inevitably do offend someone. It’s unfortunate but in this day and age someone will be offended by something no matter what.
      Your point that voice actors are never the same race is a really good point. In Family Guy Cleveland Brown, an African American is voiced by Mike Henry a Caucasian actor. Although I will say in films they do tend to get actors of the same race to play the characters.

    3. Casey

      I mostly think the same when it comes to your notes on representation in accord with the reading. However, as other people have pointed out, South Park and King of the Hill are satirical comedy shows. South Park’s most prominent black character — with the departure of Chef — is literally named Token Black. His name points to misrepresentation in media, but, I will acquiesce, does nothing to prevent it. Lana and Token are voiced by black actors, though, as is not the case with some characters of color such as Kuzco from The Emperor’s New Groove. Trey Parker, South Park’s white, co-creator did voice Token at one point, however. In my opinion, media tends to represent those who create it, with a tendency to misrepresent others. Recently, there have been efforts to correct this, but a large problem remains the disproportionate amount of white people working in the industry as compared to people of color.

  5. Dionte Bolling

    The Chaney reading was about how race is represented in the shows Static Shock, King of the Hill, and South Park.

    The Static Shock section was about how racially switched the blacks and white characters were in the show. From my understanding it seems like some but not all of the Whites were represented as poor and that Blacks and Whites that were also shown as Thuggish and bad guys. Also with Virgil and Richie’s relationship it seems like when bad things happened Virgil would call and get advice from his White friend rather than figure it out himself. But all in all, based the observation it was that “Blackness” of the show was “whitewashed” and the Whites needed to be saved and that everyone should learn from their struggles even though Blacks were having those issues all long time ago.

    The King of the Hill section was about how the Hills “blackness” is shown. It is shown by how much of an oddball family they are compared to the other white families in their neighborhood. Also it shows when Hank moves to Texas with his family and how he still shows his love and appreciation of New York to Texas, which is a no no, because he now lives in a state where you have to be about that land and no where else.

    The South Park section was about the show. The show is based on satire of politics and real life events. And based on the look of the show the voice acting is going to be the strongest part of the show. In the reading is focuses on Eric Cartmen and Chef. The characters on the show are predominantly white, but there seems to be a display of “blackness” in the voice acting. The blackness comes for Cartmen voice. From the reading we find out that he uses Black English and there are also black interactions as far as movements. When it comes to Chef, yes he is voiced by Isaac Haynes, but if you view the show he is whitewashed with his movements and the way he talks. Chef always sings and one day he wants to marry a white woman. Chef never to acts or speak “Black English” as Cartmen who is white does.

    1. Jeremy Thurlby

      I think that sums up the show perfectly “The show is based on satire of politics and real life events.” I think its important that you view it as a parody of actual events and not something that stands separate from society.

  6. Evan Swiech

    The Paul Wells reading “Cinema and the Spectator” focuses on the relationship between cinema and its respective viewing audience. He states that people know animated characters and their adventures are not real yet they sense a realism and are able to possess feelings toward these characters. Adults have different reactions toward animation than children, and in WWII Bolton, adults did not consider it relevant whether a film was animated or live action. Wells suggests that audiences enjoyed animation as a further escape from WWII; the animated characters were an escape from live-action. Wells states that viewers enjoy creativity that has substance. They can watch the artistry of animation, aware that it is composed of several frames of artwork. Animated films, he argues, have a “plurality and elusiveness”. Animation possesses the ability to morph at any time. Live-action films only possess this ability when utilizing animation.
    He concludes that nostalgia is an important factor, especially when considering animated Disney movies people viewed as children. Adults consider animated films from their childhood in terms of their empathy and identification with that characters, their fear and concern for the characters, the special occasions under which they viewed the movies, and the contentment they felt during the viewing. I agree that nostalgia is a very important factor in Disney animated movies. I appreciate Wells’ organized chart, but I would be interested to know one more thing: color. What colors do the adults remember? One of the main things I remember from Disney cartoons I saw as a child was their bright colors. I heard an animation historian say of Disney concept artist Mary Blair, “When I think of my childhood fantasies, I see Mary Blair colors.” Perhaps Disney animations are able to tap into the way children imagine the world around them.
    The Michael Chaney article focuses on issues in racial depictions in televised cartoon series. Chaney argues that Static Shock portrays its hero as inferior to his white counterparts. I watched some episodes when I was a child, and it took me a few minutes to even remember there were white supporting characters in the show. I remember two white female antagonists but, other than that, I remember Static, his sister, his father, and I remember he had friends but I do not remember their race. When I read about the Rubber band-man episode, I immediately remembered that I had seen it before as well. I wish Chaney would have written more about that episode so I could compare his statements to my memories. I disagree with Chaney’s statements regarding King of the Hill. The show does make note of class. Class and race are often linked, but Chaney does not make a strong enough connection between the two. I believe the show conveys so much more commentary and humor regarding class. I have not seen enough South Park to comment on Chaney’s description of the show.

  7. Ashley OBrien

    The Chaney reading discussed how shows like Static Shock, King of the Hill, and South Park ‘whitewash’ a show, or or switch racial stereotypes to represent the black community in these animation.

    In static shock which I have never seen it talks about how the black friend always asks approval of his white friend or asks him for advice before he does anything in the show.

    In King of the Hill it talks about how the show represents hicks and how they won’t change and you need to love Texas because its the best state. It mainly talks about how Hank and his family who moved from New York to Texas are backwards compared to the rest of the white families in their neighborhood. They aren’t hicks and they still love New York and not Texas which is not okay for him and his family.

    In South Park they talk about the voice actors and how the voice of Cartmen who is a white character uses ‘black english’ to bring ‘blackness’ to the show. And how Chef who is black doesn’t use ‘black english’.

  8. Tiffany McLaughlin

    I was very entertained by the Chaney reading. His examples of representation and space of characters give a decent understanding of what shows like this are trying to say.
    I have never seen Static Shock. But from the reading, it explained a lot. The show places white characters in settings that society would normally associate with black characters like in poverty, bad neighborhoods, etc. This show plays with that. The main character who is black has a white friend who is used to help him figure things out. Without him, the man character wouldn’t be able to get the job done, is what I’m getting from this. You give the show a black super hero, which is great, but then make him inferior to his white best friend anyway? Chaney must mean from all of this is what the white guy is always superior to the black guy no matter what role he is in society or if he is the superhero or not. I could be completely wrong, but that is what I got from that part.
    I used to like King of the Hill when I was a kid, but the older I get the uglier that show becomes to me. According to the author, the show focuses around a group of stereotypical “hillbilly” white folks who stand around with their beers by a fence and their southern accents. The author describes this as a possible joke at the stereotype itself as the normal American, rather than favoriting the type as the ideal American. There is a lack of black characters, however there are Native American characters, so I’m not sure Mike Judge was trying to completely white wash the show. The rest of the reading goes about how Hank Hill is basically the face of “regional identity” and that is correlated with Static Shock in the sense of white appropriation in black space.
    Then he goes into the bit about South Park and Cartmen’s white privilege as he uses black english. This is something I never noticed or thought of as “black english”. I just thought he had a weird voice and a mild speech impediment. Never once have I associated his speech as “black”. But now I see what the author is getting at. I will probably watch for more of this now when I watch the show. The author’s entire point here is that the show and the town itself also struggles with regional appropriation like the other shows do.

    This comes a little off topic to the reading, but it reminds me of the episode where Token is made fun of for being rich and having all these nice things that Kyle, Stan, Kenny, and Cartmen don’t think they’re good enough to play with him because they’re poor. But the real “joke” is that it’s always the black kids who are portrayed as poor and the writers know this, so in this case it’s the white kids, the main characters. So a bunch of wealthy black families (some with english accents) move to South Park and the little rich kids don’t know how to have fun with Token like he had fun with Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartmen. The whole episode is formed around this joke that “those people” we assume they mean that their black, are actually “those (rich) people”. But you are supposed to think they are referring to their blackness.

  9. Nicholas Price

    race is always an interesting topic in media. i would like to talk about the way that race is handled in the ilm industry and relate it back to a few different readings.
    Firstly, the film industry has done a terrible job when it comes to representing race in a predominately white industry. one of the biggest problems in the industry now a days is upholding racial stereotypes. it is difficult to represent a black character as a white person because white people are not white. a white man may say “racism doesn’t exist anymore” because white men are not experiencing racism and don’t understand what modern day racism even looks like. one of the biggest forms of racism is focusing on putting a minority into upholding certain racial expectations. even looking at the Chaney article, creating a black character that is from the ghetto and making Static Shock live up to the expectations of what a black superhero should be doing.
    Even though Static Shock is a bit of an older cartoon it is STTILL happening now a days. just watching Chris Rock’s monologue at the Oscars we can see how this is still happening. black people are cast for black roles. and even the fact that there are black roles and white roles is just another example of racism in modern day culture.
    there is a book titled “the Racial Contract” written by Charles Mills. in the book it talks about the idea of the racial contract and institutional racism. the big point in the book is that an Institution in itself cannot be racist, but the individuals that are a part of said institution have the complete capability of racism. the directors, writers, creators, and producers in the film industry are the ones creating race specific roles. the other idea from the book is the idea of the racial construct. this is the idea that society has constructed these ideas of race and created specific traits that are associated with certain races. i think cartoons are some of the number one offenders of this idea of the racial construct.
    it will be interesting and difficult for the animation and film industry to move forward and create films and tv shows that exist as completely racist free films.

  10. Joey Burrow

    In “Representations of Race and Place”, Chaney describes that shows like King of the Hill, Static Shock and South Park depict race and stereotypes. In the Static Shock part Chaney describes that even though there is a main black character. the show fails to represent him equally. Saying Static often asks his white friend for approval.

    in the King of the Hill part of the reading. I did not think of it as a piece about race but rather, I thought it more focused on classism. describing how Hank, even though being on of the guys that hangs out in the ally. He is shown to be different from the others in his neighborhood.

  11. Trevor Leavell

    To be frank, I haven’t seen Static Shock, but the things Chaney puts down in his article does have me a bit more intrigued to watch it. Kinda feels like it would be that show that kids would watch for it’s premise, and adults would watch for its commentary.

    I really enjoy how shows like South Park make commentaries not only on race, but also says things about class as well. I like how Chaney points out how South Park makes fun of the trope of having a black character. I can really only recall there being only two black characters in South Park: Chef, and Token, who himself is supposed to be commentary on TV shows having the Token Black Character.

  12. Stefan Barnwell

    Static shock was one of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons when I was growing up. It may have been the only show I experienced that had a black superhero, until the justice league cartoon came along with the green lantern John Stewart. IMy judgement may be a bit biased since it is childhood favorite of mine, but I disagree with Chaney that the show was whitewashed in a way. The fact that the main character Virgil depended on his white friend Richie does not strike me as him needing a white person to help him. To me, the relationship on the show was more about illustrating to young viewers the friendship between to people. Of different racial backgrounds. The were both black and white characters in poverty, in peril, as villains, and as heroes. Just because every character was not black does not necessarily mean the show was being whitewashed.
    I view king of the hill as a satirical depiction of the southern redneck stereotype. However, what always bothered me was the lack of racial diversity on the show. From what I can recall, I only remember two black people occasionally making appearances on the show. All of the Asian characters are shown as foreign and exotic, seemingly none of them being born in the US, except maybe Connie (not sure about that). The one Native American character is also depicted as “the other.” I also find it interesting how the only Native American character is somewhat villainized because he is having an affair with one of the white character’s wife. He is in a sense wronging the white man throughout the whole series, drawing attention away from the reality of how Native American are wronged even to this day.
    As in most of the other posts I’ve read here, I never viewed Cartman’s speech pattern as “black English,” I just assumed he talked a certain when because he was being portrayed as fat and lazy. To me, this almost sounds like a case of looking for a controversy where there isn’t one. Certainly South Park has many controversies, good and bad, but I don’t think this is one of them. All aspects of Cartman having nothing to do with the black community, even as a stereotype. If anything, he represents a stereotype of an intolerant racist white person.

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