Both graduate and undergraduate students post comments.
“Time and time again, the mass media, and especially television and the internet, are held responsible for all kinds of social ills and negative behaviour involving children and teenagers” – pg. 167 – ‘Gender Transformations: Theory and Practices on Gender and Media”
Before this article, I didn’t understand that there was so much depth behind this argument, and thought that the portrayal of ‘social ills’ in the media, particularly sex, weren’t necesarily a ‘bad’ thing. I now understand that it is the use of certain features in the media that is ‘bad’; the use of ‘double standards’ in how men treat women, the very narrow minded portrayal of sex… you do not have to be wealthy and popular to have sex, nor does sex have to occur between a male/ female, etc.
I think, though, it is important not to brand all ‘social ills’ shown in the media as the reasons why they are now becoming such a ‘problem’ in todays society; personally, I have no doubt that these ‘ills’ were going on long before the media portrayed them, but what the media has done is become more public about them. Having said that, I think it is important to realise that there needs to be more diversity portrayed in the media, particularly when it comes to relationships.
This is way off subject, but I’m surprised that this article didn’t address more pornographic standpoints. It mentions pornographic influence and early exposure, but sums it up in one sentence. Some parents figure if their kids will be exposed to pornography and try to hide it, they might as well expose them now and talk openly about sexuality. What is a real or unrealistic approach to relationships and what is absent with pornography. Shows are not just directed at teens, sex has been for a while, incorporated into adult shows too. Our culture is oversexed in everything. When I hear guys mention a movie, usually it is not about the violence they were attracted to but the women in the film. What is this like in your culture? Do they censor nudity in Scotland?
I agree Jane. I don’t think teenagers strictly exist within the confines of the stereotypes peddled through teen series. I won’t negate Van Damme’s (2011) exploration of “Gossip Girl” and “One Tree Hill” because those stereotypes are continually reinforced through media, but I also don’t see those specific sexual dynamics happening in real life. Then again, I graduated from high school in 2007, and the ways that sexuality is negotiated may have changed since then. Either way, you’ve put forth a great question. I’ll be pondering it for some time.
Week 4: Readings
I really enjoyed the article on Casualizing Sexuality in Teen Series. This article is so easy to read and I like that is uses actual examples or findings to back up the research. Granted, One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl are kind of outdated, there are far more examples of television series to use now. Watching Glee in class touches on many more social and diverse perspectives that we didn’t see in class: gay/lesbian, bullying, marital/affair issues, double-standards (gender athletics), gender violence, teen sex, and black, white, Asian, and Jewish diversity.
Elke Van Damme uses these examples of One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl to back up his and other research that sex portrayed on TV creates this ideal expectation of relationships for teens (which are in return, unrealistic): 1. a relationship cannot exist without sex, 2. men do not have to use their masculinity, but women have to use their femininity/sexuality to get results from the opposite sex, thereby creating rewards for males, 3. there are no consequences of having sex- meaning the implications of pregnancy or possible venereal diseases are not always addressed. This article also implies that the idea of sex can be implied simply by kissing and then changing the scene without actually showing anything R-rated.
In Hoogland’s research, she uses Louisa M. Alcott’s famous book “Little Women” to address a tomboy. A tomboy is the opposite of femininity, somebody who chooses not to be a lady. This book isn’t necessarily implying that all tomboys are lesbian, but rather women can live vicariously through this character with all the pleasure of adventurous- a life that is far from the duties of being a lady. Being a tomboy means freedom to get away from social conventions and expectations of our sex.
I do not want to spoil the movie for anyone, but my husband and I bought the movie Now You See Me, and the movie has quite a bit of famous actors that play magicians or they set out to debunk their tricks. I like Isla Fisher’s character, because she battles with weight issues and she never feels confident enough to fit into the little stage costumes, especially after having lost weight. She struggles in a past relationship, constantly being teased for her weight and never being skinny enough for her partner. Not only is she the showwoman for her performance, but she doesn’t have an attractive assistant standing by, because she is the attraction. She is very dependent on a successful career, at the same time she overlooks the expectations/limitations of being a woman performance artist. It’s a good movie, watch it!
So on the last blog, I really didn’t have much to say because, truthfully, I had a hard time following along with most of those articles. Even still in these past two weeks, I couldn’t always follow along. I’d read the article and in the beginning I had a sense that I knew where it was going, but the farther I read the less I comprehended. On the other hand, there were several article for these two weeks that I not only was able to comprehend, but thoroughly enjoyed. These included Gauntlett’s chapter four, Hoogland, and Van Damme.
In Gauntlett’s article I found it interesting that he mentions videogame stereotypes. I think it would have been interested had he expanded on that. Being a gamer, I have noticed many stereotypes in even my favorite games.There is quite a bit to be taken from that. For instance, in one of my favorite RPG game series, Final Fantasy, in the earlier games I noticed that it was typical of the game developers to create supportive women characters who, may not have been necessarily cast in a ‘sexy’ role but whose primary role was a healer/mage. Their defense was low, but magic was high, but ultimately in the long run these characters were not always the most useful. However, in their most recent Final Fantasy game the main character, a woman is neither cast in the sexy role nor the defenseless, healer role. In fact, she is the strongest character of any in the entire game. It is now my favorite game in the series.
Also in the article is mentioned the TV series, Ugly Betty. I love love love this show. This show took me off guard a bit with stereotypes. I guess what I had expected was something of your typical ‘makeover’ show where the main character is seen as socially unacceptable in some way and the story revolves around them trying to become acceptable. It was refreshing that in this series, no matter how much persecution Betty received for her looks, she never tried to conform. That’s not to say she didn’t care, I don’t believe, but that she refused to make herself fit into the narrow view society expected her to fit in.
I found it funny that psychologists, who conducted a study on the possibility of girl power leading to girl violence ended up seeing no correlation, labeled their findings as unexpected. I felt a bit awed by the concept of selling beauty solutions. Despite being privy to this my whole life I don’t think I had ever considered these solutions to be for made-up problems by media and capitalism. I wondered how I hadn’t come to that conclusion before myself. Last, but not least, V for Vendetta is seriously one of my favorite movies ever. And not just because the character played by Natalie Portman bears my nickname, Evey. I guess you could say, I like the spirit of revolution after all the unspeakable things portrayed by the government in it.
In Hoogland’s article, the exploration of the literary tomboy peaked my interest. I, myself was a tomboy when I was young. Just like several of the literary works mentioned in this article I also had much pressure placed on me to conform to societal expectations of what is feminine and what is not. I read books similar to these growing up and it always frustrated me to no end that eventually the characters broke down and were forced to conform.
In Van Damme’s article, I liked that she discussed so many TV shows that I’m familiar with. Our culture can be oversexed, but casualizing sex and having people know more about it, I just don’t see it as a bad thing. There is a thing as too much, but it moderation I don’t have any qualms hearing about it or watching a series with lots of sex in there. However, something that Van Damme touches on is that the consequences of sex are hardly shown or even alluded to in the very series that broach the subject so frequently. For instance, in these series there are no emotional impacts to be had from having sex, no std’s, rarely a pregnancy or worry. What’s the point of showing or alluding to sex if you’re not going to inform the audience about it all–the up’s, downs, ins, and outs. If sex is going to be portrayed in a show, it should be realistic rather than idyllic.
By the way! Here is the link to that funny video I saw on Youtube video that I talked about in class:
I love this YouTube video, Evelyn. It is hilarious. As I stated in class, a fellow scholar and writer, Chloe Angyal, is exploring the rise of nudity among males in romantic comedies. I’ve included links to some of the public writing she’s done regarding her topic. It differs immensely from my own research (since I’m examining race and gender representation more so than masculinity scripts), but her research is very interesting.
I also LOVE “Ugly Betty.” I discussed my unusual fascination with the show in the second impromptu assignment. I also love Betty’s refusal to conform the “fashion ideal.” She was one of the most refreshing (and inspiring) female characters ever put forth on television.
Thank you! That sounds interesting, I will have to take a look at those.
Right? I was honestly a little sad when it was over.
Sex on TV has never really surprised me, probably because I skipped the ‘Boy Meets World’ phase of early middle school and jumped strait into ‘All My Children’. The fact that teens are watching shows with casual sex in it isn’t really new to me. What I was interested to see in Van Damme’s article was how these TV shows almost seem to be encouraging the sexuality of the female characters on the show while punishing it at the same time. The best example I saw in the article was Lexie, a character from Gossip Girl. She’s a character who is sexual and (assumingly, as I’ve never seen the show) proud of her decision to be the way she is. However the message the character wanted to convey becomes jumbled and subverted so that it has no meaning. She ultimately ends up working against her own beliefs because of how her actions are interpreted.
I also noticed how despite the fact that the female characters were being punished for sexual behavior, they seem to in turn look down on those that don’t have sex like with the ‘Clean Teens’. Not all teenagers choose to have sex, and I think it’s important that this is seen as a valid choice rather than something ridiculous and unrealistic.
In the show ‘Once Upon a Time’ the character Ruby starts out wearing a lot of clothing that shows a lot of skin. Lots of short shorts and middrift shirts with large costume looking jewelry. After she gets her own episode and matures so that she take more responsibility and learns to get along with her grandmother she begins to dress much more modestly, showing very little skin at all. She also starts wearing very little jewelry. This insinuates that women who dress more provocatively are immature and less trustworthy.
Upon reading both the blogs posted this week and the assigned readings by Van Damme and Hoogland, I find myself pondering the so-called social ills created by the media. Van Damme especially offers insight as to how tv shows offer a representation of the teenage social world and gives a sensible lens through which to understand those representations in conjunction with the reality of teenage life. However, I am curious as to how much dialogue exists on the positive effects of the “representations” offered by television directed toward a teenage demographic.
Popular tv’s detractors often take for granted that television offers a glamorized depiction of casual sex, but this extreme interpretation misses the mark. While television can be accused of doing this in several instances at the same time, much writing has an undercurrent encouraging mature understandings of sexuality. Take for example the characters of the Fox series Glee. Those characters who engage in sex flippantly are themselves depicted as superficial and flippant characters. The more intelligent and mature characters process the decision to have sex in correlation with the wishes of their parents and concern and consideration for their futures. Additionally, much television encourages tolerance in regard to sexuality. I can see how a conservative audience might deem television as the source of social ills, but it seems to me that many writers have a genuine desire to help enlighten future generations in regard to responsible decision making regarding sex and sexuality.
(1) I enjoyed Van-Damme’s article on sexuality in teenage television. What surprises me the most about popular shows on the CW and the like is just how casual sex has become.
I grew up in a conservative home, and I hold on to those values as far ass ex goes: to me, sex is the most intimate act a couple can engage in and should be treated as such. It’s a good idea if a couple becomes intimate in the later stages of their relationship; obviously, sexual compatibility is best known before you enter into marriage. But throwing around as something you do casually after a second date just seems wrong to me.
I also went to a conservative school, where sex education consisted of the teacher avoiding our questions and only answering harmless ones. I knew the terms for my own body parts but I never learned terms for female parts until ninth grade biology, where my teacher still didn’t lecture and instead gave us worksheets to complete on the material.
I feel that poor education about sex is a huge problem, and shows like “Gossip Girl” aren’t giving these kids who may not have any other information slanted idea of sex. As the article said, we rarely see these teens put on condoms and pregnancy often isn’t an issue. If characters move from partner to the other without discussion of STDs and the like, we’re not doing our kids any favors.
On the other hand, positive depictions of sex can help dissipate the stigma that television has of sex being a real, passionate act, rather than something done and over with in five minutes. But until we stop revealing breasts and penises for laughs rather than a real examination of what it means to have sex, we’ll remain stagnant in our efforts.
(2) This week I viewed “Riddick,” the second sequel in a franchise that has been dormant from the big screen for more than nine years. The movie is clearly a way to placate star Vin Diesel, who Universal needs to keep their Fast and Furious franchise running smoothly.
One of the film’s first sequences features a bedful of naked women waiting for Riddick to come on. Certainly not the strongest way to begin, and it’s pretty much downhill from there on out.
The plot in a nutshell: Riddick is a prisoner who escaped space jail years ago. After a series of contrived plot devices, he ends up stranded on a strange planet with only his trusty dog. He eventually finds an outpost from which he can call for help. He actually ends up alerting a group of assassins who can profit greatly from his head on a platter.
Here is where has a chance to present a strong female character: she arrives in the form of Dahl, played by Katee Sackhoff, who is famous for her roles on “Battlestar Galactica” and, as far as the television I watch goes, “24.” I’m not sure about “Galactica” but on “24” she was a pretty strong female character.
To the writers: way to waste a good opportunity.
You’d think Dahl, as a bounty hunter, would get to do something cool. Maybe kick some ass, pardon my French. But nope, she only gets to carry around a weapon to create the illusion that she knows her way around a fight. The one time she actually beats up a guy it’s done off-screen.
Dahl is actually around just so some of the more sexist characters can whistle at her and make rape jokes. Santana, the head of one of the bounty hunter groups, comes on to Dahl several times and we never really see her put up a fight. Riddick himself notes at one point that when he escapes from the hunters he’s going to sleep with her, “because she asked nicely.”
It’s a shame “Riddick” refuses to have a strong female character, because the sci-fi genre has had some pretty awesome heroines: Ripley, in “Alien,” is a perfect example. And while Alice in the “Resident Evil” films might be a sex symbol, she still gets to defend herself and takes down some zombies.
On the Van Damme article:
“Gossip Girl” and “One Tree Hill” casualize teenage sexuality. This is an important phenomenon because these shows are popular (Van Damme cites their Teen choice Awards). Her qualitative (read: limited) analysis of these shows is an important first step in a process I am not very familiar with. I would want to see more conclusions made on the sorts of lives these teen oriented programs seek to portray. How might the “real” and the fiction correlate? How does the stream of causality flow? What influences what?
Van Damme’s main beef seems to stem from these show’s stereotypical portrayals, of which I cannot speak on. It never occurred to me, at any point in my life thus far, to make a conscious decision to watch “Gossip Girl,” or the other one. I have not seen them. I might check them out when I get some time. Maybe.
I am not a parent, but I hope I don’t wake up one day and find that I have a kid who is making important life decisions that are inordinately informed by the content of a show like Gossip Girl.
As outlined by Hoogland, the character of the tomboy has quite a history, perhaps being one of the first truly gender-subversive archetypes in literature. I’m very interested in the archetype’s many forms and meanings. Traditionally, in children, it represented a kind of young rebelliousness, sometimes to the chagrin of the character’s parents, but often accepted as an endearing part of the character’s personality (Scout Finch from “To Kill A Mockingbird”, for example). The assumption was that tomboyishness was a quirk of growth and development for young girls, a phase that one would eventually grow out of when she matured to become a lady. However, the older she got, the more unacceptable the behavior / performance would become, throwing into question her sexuality. ‘Tomboy’ would then take on some derogative connotations. Rebelliously adopting masculine characteristics would make her “butch” or a “dyke”. That way of thinking hasn’t been weeded out entirely, as many still make assumptions in this regard, but the tomboy archetype has certainly grown to be more complex.
As I touched on in a previous post, Hollywood has created what many have called “the strong female character”, a poor attempt at a more contemporary, less sexist portrayal of women on screen. This often manifests itself in a tomboy character. The character defined by the fact that she is “unwilling to wear dresses” or “take shit from the guys”, etc. Despite the intentions, the character is often just as problematic as the damsel-in-distress archetype as they are defined solely by the fact that they are good at fighting or combating whatever their character’s obstacles are. Rarely are they afforded the same kind of nuance as their male-counterparts. Also, despite their break from gender norms, they are almost always heterosexual, and quick to fall into a “steamy” sex scene in which they appear as subordinate to a man, to appeal to male audience members and quell their castration anxieties. Still, more complex and interesting tomboy characters can be found. The re-imagined “Battlestar Galactica’s” Starbuck is perhaps a good example of a character that can be described as a tomboy that has a significant amount of nuance, defined as much by her flaws as by her strengths. “The Killing’s” Bullet, a girl who dresses and often performs very in a very masculine way, but is also quite androgynous, is a fascinating tomboy character. Having lived on the street, she’s adopted her masculine performance as a kind of strength-posturing, but her vulnerabilities leak out as the season progresses. She’s forced to confront the complexities and difficulties of being a woman in a very sexist world when she’s sexually assaulted by a local pimp.
It’s been ages (alright, five years) since I’ve been a teenager or indulged in teen series. However, it is impossible to forget the eagerness that consumed me whenever The N network aired an episode or marathon of “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” It was thrilling to witness the turbulent, triumphant, anxious, pain-filled lives of the rotating cast; but as I read and annotated Van Damme’s (2011) critical examination of sexual relationships in teen series – specifically “Gossip Girl” and “One Tree Hill” – I realized that most of the perpetuated stereotypes appeared in “Degrassi: The Next Generation” as well. The researcher explores several specific sexual tropes depicted in teen series, including the devaluing of female characters into objects designed to appease the male gaze.
One of the examples Van Damme (2011) utilizes to highlight this continual trend is Blaire – a “One Tree Hill” character – flashing her underwear in exchange for painkillers. The objectification of teenage female characters is common, as evidenced in “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” One of the cardinal characters was Ashley Kerwin, played by Melissa McIntyre. Kerwin is constructed as an intelligent, popular student, but her character is never developed outside of her relationships with male characters.
Kerwin’s dating James “Jimmy” Brooks (Aubrey Graham) during the first two seasons, but their relationship ends when he discovers she’s addicted to ecstasy. Kerwin then dates Craig Manning (Jake Epstein), the archetypal ladies’ man who can’t resist other women. Their relationship ends when Craig cheats and impregnates Manuel “Manny” Santos (Cassie Steele). Manny is constructed as the hypersexual cheerleader who’s willing to sleep with any athlete or popular figure. Kerwin proceeds to date other characters throughout the seasons, leading to the tainting of her “image.” It is insinuated that Kerwin is intimate with Manning and Graham, but the actual scenes are never shown. Van Damme’s (2011) analysis can exist within the scope of other teen series, proving that these characters are continually constructed to reinforce patriarchy and gender roles.
The sexualization of teenagers is problematic for numerous reasons, as articulated by Van Damme (2011), but what the researcher fails to examine is how race co-opts sexuality for teenagers of color. Both “One Tree Hill” and “Gossip Girl” are series that don’t feature people of color in starring roles. Of course both series include a person of color in an episode or two, but there are no recurring Black diasporic characters within either series. It’d be interesting to examine teen series in the context of sexuality and controlling images, specifically for teenage girls of color. Using auto/ethnography, Boylorn (2013) examines statements from authoritative figures in her childhood, and how these statements impacted her development as a teenager of color. The third statement is “Betta Not Get Pregnant,” a common euphemism used to discourage teenage girls of color from engaging sexually. Boylorn (2013) recounts that “sex is unspoken like sin yet ubiquitous in our little community. When my period finally comes, I am warned that I ‘Betta not get pregnant.” (p. 181) This researcher’s experience within the context of the Black American community mirrors my own. Though Van Damme (2011) outlines several tropes that should be examined and deconstructed, without addressing race as an influence on teen sexuality, it is impossible for me to relate to this reading.
I was raised in a two-parent, upper middle-class home where virtue was attached to virginity for women, so teen series had no impact on how I negotiated intimacy in relationships. Shame dictated actions, rather than media representation. One of the first definitive statements in Van Damme’s (2011) examination of sexual relationships in teen series is an indictment of media’s omnipresence in American lives: “Indeed, we could say that media are predominant in the everyday lives of teenagers.” (Van Damme, 2011, p. 167) This statement indicates that the continual existence of media in the lives of teenagers leaves little room for teenagers to negotiate their identities outside of the stereotypes peddled through media texts – including television, music videos and films. Though this is an acceptable argument, especially with the vast amount of academic research conducted on the correlation between teen violence and media, there are many individuals that can provide counternarratives. It is important to consider those.
Media representation response
ABC has struck platinum with “Scandal.” More than 9 million viewers tune in to the action-packed political thriller every week to follow the rollercoaster life of Olivia Pope, a high-powered crisis manager, and her team of code crackers, killers and broken souls. Pope runs Olivia Pope and Associates, a crisis-management firm. Her team consists of Harrison Wright (Columbus Shirt); Abby Whelan (Darby Stanchfield); Huck Finn (Guillermo Diaz); and Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes). Together, the team solves problems for some of the most high-powered figures in Washington. “Scandal” has led ABC to the top of the primetime pack on Thursdays where the network is No. 1 among young adults 18-to-29.
Olivia Pope is a boss, literally and figuratively. The dynamic character, played by Kerry Washington, was inspired by real-life crisis negotiator Julie Smith. She was brought to life by Shonda Rhimes, creator of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.” Three black American women in the creator, producer, inspiration and lead actress spots on a hit network television show grabbed black women’s attention immediately. Washington’s turn on “Scandal” is a historic. It is the first time a black woman has led a primetime network drama in more than three decades and the first time we’ve been offered such a dynamic character.
Washington’s Pope character is not only in charge of a team of negotiators, she is also a willing mistress to Tony Goldwyn’s President Fitzgerald Grant. Their complicated, interracial romance is far removed from the Clair Huxtable-perfectionist or the Beulah-mammy days of our television past. “She’s human. The great thing about her is that she’s not perfect. She’s not this magical character who walks into a room and fixes everything all the time, including her own life,” Washington told USA Today.
Historically, black women were portrayed in broadcast television in four roles: the hypersexual Jezebel; the Welfare Queen; the stressed Mother balancing-it-all, or the nurturing Mammy. All of these stereotypes cast black women as a community in need of fixing. Pope subverts these paradigms by fixing the lives of influential figures while also dealing with her internal conflicts. It’s refreshing to see such a depiction of black as complex, but beautiful, chic and in control.
Washington’s Pope isn’t the only role capturing and engaging audiences. Harrison is a gorgeous computer hacker turned gladiator that often uses his charm as a tool of persuasion. His dedication to Pope is admirable, but also displays a loyalty between a black man and black woman that’s often neglected in television representations of black relationships and platonic friendships. The complex construction of these characters is a welcome relief from the drabness of network television, particularly for underserved audiences.
Before I go further, I have little to say about Mulvey’s work because I still am wrapping my head around it. Although I would like to point out I understand her worry of being a theorists (if she is a theorist, which she might have questioned?) and being gay will limit how we perceive her, which is a valid concern. Even now, even if people do not have any sense of hatred for gay people, it is still seen as not the norm, and thus very easy to be labeled as such without any deeper inspection into who the person is. Also, for those that do have something against it, it gives them something to oppress her with. Pat Robertson might say…heh, Pat Robertson reading an intellectual paper, heh heh heh…anyway, he might say that she is sexual deviant and therefore her views are corrupt, and the dumbest people in the world world listen to him. Other people might say she has a sensitive spot due to her sexuality, and can not see it objectively, ignoring that her position would also lead her to other standpoints where she would see things we don’t. That being said “her position” is itself limiting, and is not giving her intellectual credit that no doubt she deserves based on….I have a hard time understanding her. Whether Walker is right about the holes she is close to stumbling in, such as defining woman by her lack of a penis, again, I don’t yet have a good enough grasp to say whether I agree.
Speaking of Walker…European Feminist Ranger…see what I did there?…she seems to have a solid grasp of the problems in cinema with how women are depicted, and reminds us that the problems are not limited to Hollywood, but can be found in European cinema. While it has been a while since I have seen his work, Fedirico Fellini might be a case in point. What I remember of Amacord certainly makes me speculate if he is the Robert Crumb of European art cinema. She goes on to point out that the woman is not her self a sexually perceptive being and is the object of the male gaze. When she is complicated it usually is in its own way problematic, such as the femme fatale, a corrupt and dangerous woman, who still often needs rescue because she can’t quite handle things are her own, such as Gloria in Killer’s Kiss, who stands up to her boss but still needs saved in the end, all while backstabbing her hero. This week since of variety connects back to psychoanalysis, and how Freud admittedly never had a good grasp of women in his studies. His only three paths for them were repressed sexuality (in an unholy amount of film and television), having a masculinity complex(the femme fatale perhaps), or getting a normal feminine attitude, which largely connects back to one of the other works.
Van-Damme brings us back to America with her discussion of the portrayal of teens and gender in One Tree Hill and Gossip Girls. I have never seen this but can relate to its issues thanks to Nickelodeon and Disney television. She does remind us though that this is one faucet of which we receive gender training from, and that we also receive it from family, school, location, etc. On television, youth can either betrayed as a fun time of hope for the futures, or a trouble making underdeveloped ill in society. In these shows, the young females love shopping, clothes, shoes, etc. They are often little other than sex objects, which is considered a fun past time for Drake in Drake and Josh. Men enjoy athletics and sex. If women enjoy sex, then are not rpressed sexual figures as we learned about from Walker, they are bad. A subtle example Jennette McCurdy’s character in Zoey 101, who is more willing to ask a guy out on a date that the shows protagonist and is depicted in a negative light.
Remember Walker and the females struggle for masculinity, as well as coming back to being feminine? Hoogland delves further into this. She points out that often time a girl being more masculine is scene as a phase of adolescence, and the characters that are so trademark for breaking the mold of what a girl is supposed to be, in the end conform. Her example is Jo March from Little Women. She is a tough girl who wants to become a soldier, and gives female readers a sense of excitement they do not get with the other characters, however she to settles down and marries.
It is sad how all over the world and throughout time we run into so many of the same issues. Even when we get close to breaking away, such as we did with Jo March, we fall back down. This shows that we really need this class. REALLY NEED!!!
I really enjoyed your blog and discussion on how perspective plays a huge part in valuing one another in our society-which shouldn’t be an issue, but of course will be thanks to established norms and positions whether they be political, economical, sexual, ect.
Also great discussion on a female “being more masculine”.
(1) Van-Damme’s article on sexuality in teenage television was quite intriguing, and I found the arguments about devaluing women for the male gaze to be disturbingly true.
Sex on television was never really a thought on my mind, because I was raised in an open household. I would simply view the two characters going through the motions as acting and that they were going through their scenes together that would add to the overall story. However, after reading this article and viewing current television programs, as well as past 90s shows I used to watch I’m shocked by two things.
1-What’s downright disgusting to see at times is how fast kids are being forced to grow up these days, especially being “actors”/”actresses” on channels where they are being highly sexualized to raise ratings. This is not only exploiting the individual, but also sending a terrible message out to the viewers. I don’t watch Glee so much, that’s why I was really surprised to see how much sex was involved, and worried because I know a lot of younger kids (those in my family especially) who watch it religiously.
2-What was really interesting to watch was old episodes of Friends, Seinfeld, The Fresh Prince of Belair, even children’s shows such as Rocko’s Modern Life and Cow and Chicke, had an excessive amount of suggestive humor in them. Now Friends and Seinfeld were aimed at older audience yes, but I remember everyone in middle school watching them all the time. They were colorful, relatable characters, and…nonstop sexual conversations. Now Seinfeld was more open about sex, what’s interesting though is how clever Friends got with wordplay. In the early 2 seasons they had an adult audience so they would be open with subjects, but come season 3 when the executives realized how much families watch the show you can see the writing shift to getting away with sexual references that the parents would understand, while meanwhile the children are laughing at Joey do something stupid. I give the Fresh Prince a lot of credit because they tackled issues a lot of shows would be hesitant to do. Sex did become a big part of the show, even leading to Will sleeping with his girlfriend’s mother. Meanwhile, Rocko’s Modern Life and Cow and Chicken had hidden sexual sayings, terms, and sight gags everywhere.
It’s weird to see how, in my opinion at least, shows aimed at teenagers back then were highly sexual yes, probably more so then than now, but how now the characters are highly sexualized compared to those back then.
(2) Going off that last thought though what I was really surprised to find while re-visiting some old television shows was all the hard nipples on the show Friends. Monica and Rachel especially must have never worn a bra on a set with the air conditioning lowered to the 60s. Again, Friends was a family show, but everywhere the two characters sport them. It’s just odd how one of the most colorful and light-hearted shows out there can do this- which goes along with the articles writing on transforming women into the objects of the male gaze.
Edgar’s piece on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is interesting because this program does deliver to an audience otherwise not catered to on television. Sure, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” was a big show while it was on Bravo, and shows like “Modern Family” and “Glee” have become mainstream hits. I’ve only seen a few episodes of “Modern Family,” so please correct me if I’m wrong, but even though it does boast a homosexual couple in an ensemble cast, it appears to be a pretty tame interpretation of the gay lifestyle, just like “In and Out,” where the most controversial thing was a brief kiss that could’ve even been played for laughs.
So we have an audience that now has LOGO, a channel which dedicates itself to providing programming for “gay America,” as Edgar notes the website describes the channel as. About the only exposure I’ve had to “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is through E!’s “The Soup,” a show which mocks pop culture, albeit lovingly. Host Joel McHale frequently has RuPaul on as a guest commentator.
Yes, the show allows Queens to be who they are, even though they’re being judged just like any other reality show. But Edgar notes in the piece that these women are forced to conform themselves to the norms of drag. The interesting part of this to me is how this show is also a commentary on what we define “femininity” as. Just like my post two weeks ago concerning Jennifer Aniston in “We’re the Millers,” pop culture has taken to critique what it really means to be a woman. Nina is told she must cover up her tattoos to move away from androgyny. Would you consider this form of critique mocking of the idea of a woman? It seems to me that these men enjoy taking on the tropes of what we accept as “woman,” but I’m certainly no expert on drag. I think this would be a pretty interesting discussion.
My popular culture topic for the week is “Gravity,” the new film starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Because the film only involves four characters, one of whom doesn’t get to stick around very long and another who is just a voice over a radio, the film is stripped pretty barren and forces the audience to focus on the performances. Director Alfonso Cuaron allows shots to run for up to 14 minutes at a time, often placing the audience right in Bullock’s face. It’s a cool effect, but one for discussion in an entirely different post. This post contains SPOILERS.
Really this is Bullock’s film. For reasons I won’t divulge here Clooney doesn’t have a whole lot of screen time, so Bullock is left to fend for herself. The two play astronauts on a routine (isn’t it always?) mission outside of a space station. A Russian satellite explodes and hurls debris toward the duo. The two survive the initial impact but must make their way from space station to space station to try to get back to Earth.
Once the movie become Bullock’s, she owns it — in fact, as Entertainment Weekly noted in their review, she’s just as confident as Sigourney Weaver in “Alien.” She’s thrown into a fight for survival we often see men dealing with in disaster movies; every time she think she’s safe she must deal with another problem. She’s either running out of oxygen or dealing with a fire on a station. But she’s always smart enough to get out alive.
That’s why one scene in particular gives me pause. I can’t warn SPOILERS enough.
Bullock is in a shuttle that has stalled. She’s certain she’s going to die until Clooney, who floated off into space earlier on, shows up at her window. She has a discussion with him that encourages her to press on, but before she talks to him she’s given up. It’s revealed that the entire conversation was a hallucination, but it gives her enough courage to fight her way back to Earth. And we finally get to see her stand tall after she makes it back — the first time she stands up on dry land is when the camera cuts to black.
Is the scene empowerment or just a way to give the audience closure? Bullock manages to survive on her own for quite some time before she has the hallucination. You could argue that we all need a little push occasionally. But I’m disappointed in “Gravity” that it seems as if the writers thought America wanted to see Clooney come to Bullock’s rescue, even if it wasn’t real. He’s cool and calm when he comes to talk to her, exuding that leading man charm. Maybe the writers just wanted to give him some closure. I find it hard to believe that the writers would cave on this point in what is otherwise a pretty progressive movie, but you can never underestimate the power of Hollywood to pander.
I have to say that I really enjoyed this week’s readings. Even though I was familiar with the ones by Freud, and most of the readings are based on either Freud and Lacan, I found it refreshing to see these ideas explored in new ways, for example, in the piece by George Hagman, where he talks about the way a work of art relates to a child’s relationship with their mother, and, therefore, to a person’s relationship with their surroundings and their community. I also found his thoughts on beauty and ugliness in art to be interesting when compared to readings from other weeks on the same subject. Here, he talks about creating “ugliness” as a way to break free from restrictions, which is a point of view I had not encountered before.
I also found it helpful that several of these readings, like the one by Joan Copjec, brought up concepts discussed in previous readings, like the pan-optic view from Foucault or the signifier and the signified mentioned by Saussure, because I feel like this helps clear up these concepts.
I found a lot of material in this week’s readings that I believe would help with my research, particularly because so much of it deals with themes I am interested in, such as film theory, feminism, sexuality, and to a certain extent, motherhood. I also think the readings where the artistic process is explained from a psychoanalytical point of view are also part of an area that could be explored, even if I don’t necessarily agree with all of them.
I have read psychoanalytical theories before, generally as part of Literary Criticism classes, and always felt that I could not really use them to analyse texts. These theories always seemed to me theories of the mind, and not really of literary texts and I have never been able to do a successful psychoanalytic reading of a text.
I have veered off into film studies since then, and when I was reading Freud for this class it struck me that his ideas in “The Dream Work” were also ways in which we view and interpret cinema. The notions of condensation, displacement and censorship can enable us to interpret compositions of frames in films. For instance, the use of colours in the shot, the position of the characters, the way objects are placed around these characters – all these elements can tell us more about what is happening in the film as compared to something more obvious like the dialogue.
Freud’s theory that the content of the dream can have several layers of meaning took me back to what we discussed about deconstruction in the last class. There too meanings were slippery and plural. This means that looking for stable meanings and dominant readings only in film or any other type of texts can actually be a reductive exercise.
I also found Joan Copjec’s piece “The Orthopsychic Subject” interesting to read. Her views on how femininity is constructed in cinema and also how reality itself was constructed in cinema were especially insightful. I agree with Copjec when she says that women on screen are represented for a specific gaze. This is almost always true of any mainstream film text that I watch. The gaze is obviously male and heterosexual, and because the gaze is so limiting, the woman in the film has little to do. This has been my primary grouse with most of mainstream Hindi cinema, but I am glad to say these structures of the gaze are slowly being dismantled by the newer crop of film-makers.
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