Friday, June 02, 2006

Final Project

Summary of findings: I found that not much has changed in 60 years as far as stereotypes go in slap stick comedy films. Many of the same stereotypes are used in both the old and the new movies.
Corpus: I used qualitative research method in a content analysis study of two old slapstick comedy films and two new slap stick comedy films. I noted each character and described how they portrayed their race, gender, and social class.
Findings: I was somewhat shocked to see how similar the stereotypes were in the newer and older movies that I focused on in my study. I found that it is all too easy to use sterotypes in comedy in order to buy a laugh.

“The Ghost Breakers” 1940
Lawrence- (Bob Hope)-Smart white Male
-“You look like a black out in a black out. We will have to paint you white.” (Says to Alex)
-“Colored caretaker”-he describes an African American woman
-spoken to as if he was lower
Mary (Paulette Goddard)-Smart white Female
-has to be saved be the man
-seen taken off her dress (she has undergarment on that does not expose much)
Alex-Unintelligent African-American male servant that talks jive.
“Boss”-he refers to Lawrence
Wrong pronunciation-he says “expection” instead of “expectation”
Mr. Ferrada-Cunning French guy
Mr. Avez-Cuban Consulate

“Just Married” 2003
Tom (Ashton Kutcher)-Middle class American white male.
Sarah (Brittany Murphy)-Wealthy American blonde white girl.
Ewon-Chinese butler with bad english portrayed as unintelligent. Ordered around like he is lower than everyone else.
Father-Wealthy stuck up white male. Sees Tom as not qualified to marry his daughter b/c he is not “successful” enough for her. Speaks down to Tom and degrades him as a man. Calls Tom by his last name.
Mother-Wealthy white woman. Stands by her husband’s side out of the picture with no opinion that matters.
French Hotel Owner-cliché French guy
Dumb Girl- promiscuous blonde with big breasts

Both movies portrayed the minority servant the exact same way. Alex in “Ghost Breakers” was portrayed as the ill-witted black servant who “knew his place”. Ewon from “Just Married” was portrayed as the ill-witted Chinese servant who also “knew his place”. Both characters were used for comic relief. They were funny at their own expense. Before watching these movies I expected to find dramatic differences between the old and the new movies because obviously our world has come a long way since 1940. We went through a world war, the cold war, and the vietnam war. We landed on the moon. We discovered nuclear energy. The United Nations was formed. Martin Luther King and all the civil rights movements. We have accomplished all of this yet there is still one looming over our heads. Equality among men is a monumental task that desperately calls for attention. Sadly speaking, Society has always tried to find a group to make the sub race of the culture. The whites in America have obviously done it with African-Americans. These days it seems as though Mexicans have taken their spot as the outcasts. Chinese have been looked down on as well to an extent. In China they look down on Tibetans. In India they have a caste system. For some reason people naturally want to put themselves above others. Even though we are all the same beings, the idea gets to our head that we are different.

Sometimes it is more than race that people use to make themselves “higher” than other people. Social class is a huge issue today and has always been. In general, wealthy people do not associate with poor people. There is a definite understanding that the poorer people are the “sub-people”.

Many people believe that women are viewed as “sub-people”. It has been noted that it is much easier for a man to get ahead in the work place than it is for the woman. There are certain expectations of women and that differ greatly from the expectations of men. Men are seen to be more of the providers of the family. They are suppose to make the money and be the leader of the household. Women are seen to be caretakers of the household. They are suppose to stay at home and not have a job other than to cook, clean, and raise children (Which seems to me like that is much greater challenge than that of the man). These expectations have been upheld for centuries and centuries. We are just now recognizing the injustice and unequality and making an effort to for change. Not all women want to be “stay at home moms” and not all men want to be the “bread winners”. We should not force life decisions on people because we have a certain image in our minds of what this country should look like. We need to wake up and stop caring so much about what is not our business.

Some like it hot (1959)
Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe) – Dumb airy blonde, expects to find a male that will take care of her (which is kinda appropriate with the times), feels like she always finds the wrong guys who just use her.

Joe - 'Josephine'/'Junior'(Tony Curtis) – playboy who uses women, is exactly what Sugar is trying to get away from, pretends to be a wealthy man with a yacht to attract Sugar, learns that he really loves her and doesn’t want to use her

Jerry - 'Daphne'(Jack Lemmon) – comedic relief, best friend, into his feminine side, goes along with whatever plan that Joe comes up with

White Chicks (2004)
Kevin Copeland (shawn wayans- Cop, leader of the two, playboy image
Has ideas of how they can get ahead in the FBI, but always drags them back, is attracted to Denise. Dresses up like a blonde white girl and completely stereotypes them as a blonde valley girl in the way he portrays them.

Marcus Copeland (marlon wayans) - cop, married, always used by brother/partner
Always the one who cause physical destruction due to clumsiness, learns to appreciate his wife more after dressing as a female. Dresses up like a blonde white girl and completely stereotypes them as a blonde valley girl in the way he portrays them.

Denise (Anne Dudek) – reporter for social pages, once was investigative reporter, alludes to wanting to find a wealthy man because she always attracts the wrong guy

Karen (Busy Philipps) – friend of the Wilson sisters, blonde who is used by another girl’s
Tori (Jessica Cauffiel) – friend of Wilson sisters, very peppy
Lisa (Jennifer Carpenter) – super preppy brunette who is extremely self-conscious,
although having a balarina like figure
Heather Vandergeld (Jaime King) – spoiled socialite who likes to ruin others’ lives
Heath (John Reardon) – boyfriend of Heather Vandergeld
Russ (Steven Grayhm) – dumb sidekick of Heath

In these two movies women are portrayed as unintelligent “blondes” who are completely dependent on males. In these movies, the depictions are meant for comedy and not real life, but it is the fact that using stereotypes of women is funny to us that concerns me. In laughing at these stereotypes only perpetuates the issue of abusing women in the way they are always portrayed. If all we see in the media are these “ideas” of who women are than that is what we will believe that they are or should be. This is dangerous because if a real life woman does not fit this profile than they run the risk of being an outcast.

Conclusion: I have learned a great deal about the content of movies and that not a whole lot has changed from the “old days” to now. I think there is an assumption that things are different. To an extent it is, but in some ways nothing has changed at all. It will take more people looking at what we are doing when we watch and make movies. It will take us raising our voices when we see something that is offensive and stereotypical. When enough people lift the blindfolds off of their faces and recognize that people are being degraded, things will happen.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I have learned so much in this class that has completely changed the way I view the media and our culture. I knew it would happen. You told us it would. I am thankful for the knowledge. I would not trade it. I am only feeling a little disappointed. I am an optimist, I guess, and see the good in the world for the most part. When so much crap is revealed to you (especially in large doses over a short period of time) you feel a little unfullfilled and depressed. I know there is still good in this world. I think I need to go discover some of it once again in order to remind myself that it is still there. Hopefully with this new knowledge I will play my part in this world of pushing back the negative with the positive and let people dwell on that for awhile.
I have discussed a great deal that I see wrong with the American media. Is there anything worth a "pat on the back"? We are definitely handicapped without the media feeding us valuable information. The weather, for one, is probably the most unbiased, informative, and important parts of the media today. The amber alert, although maybe a little racially lopsided, is a very beneficial part of the media. I don't know how vital it is to know about every single murder, robbery, and fire in your metroplex, but it is definitely beneficial to know when there is an immediate thret to you or your family. I am positive we could do with less news about celebrities. I think I just threw up a little, thinking about how much people care about these people who are seen in the media. Celebrities are almost viewed as gods because of how much they are publicized. Overall I believe that the media is a good thing. I just think that there is much progress to be made.
I just sat through a meeting at work for two hours listening to a guy talk about the American Disability Act and how it applies to us. Aside from the fact that I was bored out of my mind and think I actually fell asleep for 30 seconds, I did learn a great deal. I was overall impressed with what the government is trying to do. Before this act Americans with disabilities had basically no chance of landing a good job. They were overlooked and pushed aside because of obvious differences that were thought to get in the way of the job. Now they are given extreme preferential treatment in order to somewhat make up for wrongs done to them. It reminds me of forty years ago when African Americans were being integrated into society and the work force. Affirmative action was huge in many African Americans getting a job. Even though they might have not been as qualified for the specific job as a white person they were still given this preferential treatment. Now that today there has been great success in their integration it is time to look at other people that are discriminated against. Hopefully in a few years there will be as much success with the handicapped as was with African Americans. Women sadly are overlooked as well but I think changes are being made. This country is making progress, slowly but surely, toward what is right in some areas. In other areas we need to be woken up.
Our culture as Americans places much more value on outward appearance than personality and brains. In this country if you have looks and height you are a shoe in for "success". Well the other 90% of "normal America" have to actually earn their way and it is not exactly fair that something uncontrollable makes such a difference. I have a friend who has a degree from North Texas in graphics design who not exactly the most handsome guy. He has not landed a decent job and he has sent out over 300 applications. I might be mistaken but I thought graphics design is "where its at" these days. At this point he is willing to take any job he can get. Even McDonalds. I just think it is sad because I know that a better looking person would not have this problem. For some reason that is the way our culture is and I know there is no reason to whine about it because it won't change. I just notice it all the time and it is frustrating.
Class today was the most thought provoking and disturbing yet. The video that was shown, "Bamboozled" really hit me and made me almost literally sick. I had known that racism was real in the media today, but the message of that movie that Spike Lee means to send is that it is worse than ever and something has got to change. I think most people "think" that we are pretty politically correct in terms of the media but obviously we are not. It was interesting that black people in the audience of the Mantan show were joining in if not most supporting it. It is like they didn't even realize what they were doing. The white people in the audience were shocked at the material at first, but once they saw that the black people around them were laughing and applauding they joined right in as well. I think this movie was brilliantly done in the visual slap in the face and symbolism that he shows. I hope it has some lasting effect on today's media world.
I have always been curious about "homosexuality". I do not believe that people are born homosexual. I believe it has to do with upbringing. I have found that many gay people have had rough childhoods. There are probably many factors that contribute to the dillusion of gayness. In my opinion homosexuality is not real. It is something that people convince themselves and the world that they are. I am not trying to put them down. I just think it is a psychological problem that people face. They are just as much a person as you and me. This is all my opinion, I know. I can't ever really know for sure because a gay person will never tell you that they are suffering from a psychological disorder. They will tell you that they were born that way. I believe in God and that he created us to be heterosexual. He created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. I am trying not to be closedminded about this but this is what I believe about the issue. I do not judge gays. We all have issues in our lives that we struggle with. This is just one of those issues.
The news is so depressing these days. It seems as though the only thing that captures our attention in the news is the negative. I wonder why we can't be entertained by the positive that is out there. We almost forget that it is actually out there because of the overwhelming load of the opposite. I wonder if the ratings would take a dive if positive stuff was shown for a week. Would they? Or would people actually be interested because it is so different. I think they would be somewhat shocked to see it. I also think that people would be affected. If people only get the negative thrown at them all the time, their mood is affected over a period of time. In the same way, people's mood would change if the media only covered the good in the world.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Why does there have to be such a difference between races? I mean God created us as humans with varying characteristics. I just don't understand why people make such a big deal about people different than them. They are still people with the same form as you and I. They might have a different skin color, language, or culture, but that doesn't change the fact that we are the same. The sooner we all realize this, the sooner our racial issues will cease. If we all could learn to accept and respect each other's differences we could start to become one unified people without so much conflict. People need to stop hating each other but will it ever happen? Is it possible?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

How far have we come as far as racism goes? Are we satisfied with where we are or do we intend to keep pushing back these issues that still exist in our world? I believe that we have a long way to go and that it won't be fixed completely for a long time. With each generation it is pushed back a little. People are still walking around hurt from things that have happened just 30 or 40 years ago and they have an impact on our world. People are still walking around that seek to hurt people different than them. Both of these kinds of people will share their views with those close to them which just extends the time that it will take for this to end. The issue that is not looked at very often is when people who are hurt from racial issues, retaliate by being racist to the color of people that hurt them. We can't worry about having the last word in this fight. We both have to be the bigger man and just let it go.

The media is not helping this situation. Equal representation is rarely seen in the media today. I believe if we change the way media portrays different races we will be on the fast track to healing this nation fully and completely.

Monday, May 29, 2006

I wonder what the relationship is between sex in the media and the succeptable young kids. Does it subconsciously warp their minds? Is it warping ours? It seems as though it is. Fifty years ago their was not a hint of sexual immorality in the media and the younger population seemed to not step into that sexual world until much later in their lives. Today I am hearing stories of twelve year boys raping their female classmates. What has changed? It is the content that is being thrown at these impressionable kids. We are setting the trap for ourselves and wondering why we are stepping in it. That pretty penny is so important to this world that we seem to not care what we are trading for it. It saddens me to see what the world is doing to itself. If only there were some way to change it. Unfortunately sex sells. Until it doesn't, the world will continue to use it in the media.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Two sentence summary of findings:
I found that in magazines of stature and relevance to our world like “Time” and “National Geographic”, sexualization and stereotyping of women and men are not nearly as evident. Using sex to sell has not completely dominated the media today.

Summary of the Previous Study:
“Sexed Up: Theorizing the Sexualization of Culture.” By Feona Attwood. Feb. 2006.
This article examines the escalating emphasis on a sexualized culture in the media today. It shows the apparent breakdown of rules against obscenity. The article talks on some key themes in recent academic writing on sex and sexuality, especially those relating to the emerging characteristics of sexual discourse. The issues of pornographication and democratization, post modern sex and intimacy, and sexual citizenship are explored in detail.

Its most important foundation literature and how it relates to my own project:
Lecturer in Media Studies, Sheffield Hallam University, UK

Corpus/ Method:
I used quantitative research. I looked at every picture of “Time” and National Geographic” magazines and used three coding methods. 1. Clothing 2. Facial Expression 3. Body type

I looked through two of the more respected magazines out there in order to see if the same type of sexualization of men and women is occurring. In these two magazines there were actually more photos of men wearing suggestive clothing and being more partially clad than women. Keep in mind that there were very few of these type of pictures all together and the ones that are there are not intended to be sexual. Facial expressions tell different stories of despair, joy, and hope.

Sex is not a seller of magazines that depict today’s world and important global events. Magazines like “Time” do not have to stoop to the level of sex in order to sell.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My roommates and I have agreed that we don't want television in our house. We think it is a waste of time and it definitely is not worth paying for. I know that if we did have TV we would watch it but we don't know what we are missing so it doesn't bother us not to have it. I know that this must have a huge effect on me when compared to my friends that watch a great deal of TV. Or I guess I should say that it has no effect on me at all when compared to the great effect it must have on my friends. I think we can agree that TV is the main source of media thrown at you. I am still affected by billboards, movies, music, and the internet which is quite a bit, but by cutting out TV I have so much more time in the day to accomplish things of more importance. When I lived in my parents house I would watch up to 5 hours of TV everyday. You could basically call me a zombie from the hours of 5pm to 10pm. We are bombarded with images of the media telling us what to think and I am a believer that the more of it we are able to cut out of our lives the better.