Sunday, August 9, 2009

You Stink: You Can't Get a Date!


Jobs performed: acting, screenwriting, directing

Thursday, July 23, 2009

BreastsLOG POasST NUMBsExR 2

Companies in the U.S. spend billions of dollars each year on advertising. No matter how small or how large a business is, it depends on advertising to reach out to the public. According to all these businesses, it is apparent that the easiest way to grab a consumer’s attention is through sex and sexual images or inferences. The problem with this is that it leads companies into objectifying the human body, especially a female’s, in order to increase sales. Women are dehumanized and are solely represented as sexualized bodies with distinct, recurring features in most advertisements. Femininity begins to have a concrete depiction of what it is a woman is supposed to look like and do.

As young girls mature into women, they begin to notice ads differently. “They are in the process of learning their values and roles and developing their self-concepts” (Kilbourne 258). Therefore, when they see advertisements with women in innocent, passive, even submissive roles these adolescent girls are brought up thinking this is the way they should behave. This is clearly demonstrated in the advertisement shown for SKYY vodka, where the man is towering over a woman that is laying on her back in a bikini. Not only is she laying between the man’s legs, but the view is focused on her silicone stuffed breasts, while the man is wearing a suit and both of his hands are clenched making fists.

Besides ascribing a role to femininity (ex. Passivity), advertisements are also guilty of objectifying women by using sexual imagery to promote their product. At the same time, men are portrayed as having the power and the intelligence. Esquire magazine is a great example of this kind of advertising when proposing that “heterosexual social life consists of mutually agreeable dialogue between male consciousness and female anatomy” (Breazeale 236). When men are not present in the ad, it is still quite evident that women are objectified no matter where you look. For example, in the shown advertisement for American Apparel, it is just a women with her legs spread and the company’s name across her thighs. Even though this ad objectifies this model a great deal, it does not compare to the blatant representation shown in the ad for mushrooms. In this case, the woman has nothing to do with the product advertised, yet the company has placed a model in a bra right next to a can of mushrooms. These ads are all summarized by the picture in the middle where an artist places a bar code by a model’s breasts signifying the theme behind all sex related ads.

Works Cited

Breazeale, Kenon. "In Spite of Women.” Gender, Race, and Class in Media: a Text Reader. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. 230-243.

Kilbourne, Jean. "The More You Subtract, the More You Add." Gender, Race, and Class in Media: a Text Reader. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. 258-267.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Blog Post #1

Media culture is responsible for both inventing new gender roles and at the same time reinforcing old ones. An example of this is evident in the Showtime series “Weeds”. Even though the protagonist is portrayed as a female drug dealer which displays Weeds’ counter-hegemonic storyline, the show still falls victim to hegemonic practices by reinforcing generalized feminine characteristics shown through Nancy Botwin.
Whenever a drug dealer is portrayed on television or in a movie, the image is standard. It is either a man living the high life with exotic cars and a mansion or a poor man living in a one room apartment with tattered clothes just trying to get by. The underlying message is simply that all drug dealers are men. Weeds challenges this standard image of a drug dealer by introducing Nancy Botwin. She is a middle-class single mother trying to support her two sons after her husband’s death by selling marijuana. Practically unheard of, this is what makes the show so compelling. Never before has a television series changed the image of a drug dealer. In fact, Weeds glorifies this image and has the audience rooting for this female drug dealer; a normally hated figure in any other program. In addition, it promotes an illegal act to viewers as a heroic and justified means to support a family, which also challenges society’s habit of viewing drug dealers as evil and dangerous.
According to Douglas Kellner, the media shows us “how to be men and women. [It] shows us how to dress, look, and consume” (Kellner 9). Therefore, we depend on the media to define gender roles in society. When a show like Weeds begins to gain such widespread popularity, society’s thinking begins to change and new ideas are born. For example, the drug dealer, a role usually ascribed to the male gender is now certainly feasible to be associated with the female gender. Furthermore, it can be argued that the audience produces its own meaning of the situations and occurrences in the show; however, when an underlying theme is blatantly deviating from the conventional mindset, that is -- thinking of drug dealers as “good people”, Kellner reminds us that it is hard to deny that “media culture has powerful manipulative effects” (Kellner 16). Also, now it is very easy for the female gender to associate new characteristics to their identity since “media culture provides materials for individuals to create identities and meanings” (16).
When the series first began, it was evident that Nancy was an intelligent, independent, strong willed woman that could conquer anything. However, as the show progressed, Weeds reverted to the old hegemonic instances of submissive females, dominating males, and the ideology behind woman finding their soul mate in order to portray that complete image of a ‘normal American woman’. It all started with Nancy being raped by a Mexican mob leader. Once this episode aired, the remaining subsequent episodes featured a weaker Nancy Botwin that was sexually harassed by more gang members and having an abusive exclusive relationship with a mob boss leading to many occurrences of domestic violence.
Once again, the use of media culture reinforces audiences to become accustomed with roles featuring “female submission to male domination and trap women in ideologies of romance, in which submission to Prince Charming is seen as the alpha and omega of happiness for women” (Kellner 15-16). This presents a potential negative consequence of the show since according to Alan Johnson:
“If a society is oppressive, then people who grow up and live in it will tend to accept,
identify with, and participate in it as "normal" and unremarkable life. That's the path of
least resistance in any system. It's hard not to follow it, given how we depend on society
and its rewards and punishments that hinge on going along with the status quo. When
oppression is woven into the fabric of everyday life, we don't need to go out of our way to
be overly oppressive in order for an oppressive system to produce oppressive
consequences” (Johnson 93).
Not only is Nancy’s role reverting to femininity as being submissive, but it also reinforces masculinity as being aggressive and dominant.
It is evident that the show Weeds has both hegemonic and counter-hegemonic tendencies when it comes to the portrayal of female protagonist Nancy Botwin. While the show starts off dispelling common beliefs behind the gender roles involving criminal activity, it later emphasizes the gender role of submissive femininity to dominant masculinity.

Works Cited

Johnson, Alan. “Patriarchy, the System”. It’s Not Just About Gender. 91-98.

Kellner, Douglas. “Cultural Studies, Multiculturalism, and Media Culture”. Gender, Race, and
Class in Media. 2003: 9-20.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Some Interesting Links

"What Happened to Weeds?"

"HBO Finally Gets a Feminist Show"
Melissa Silverstein

"What is Masculinity in Today's Modern World?"
Unknown Author

"Gran Torino"
Brady Jones

"Is it Possible to Raise a Child Outside the Gender Binary?"

Tuesday, July 7, 2009