Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Michel Foucault - Discourses and Lifestyles

In chapter 6 of David Gauntlett’s book, Media, Gender and Identity – An Introduction, Gauntlett focuses on Michel Foucault’s views of “the self, identity and sexuality” and Foucault’s ideas about how these can “develop our understanding of identities and the media in modern society” (115). Gauntlett points out that Foucault’s views about how individuals are influenced by cultures and ‘outside forces’ has changed over time. According to Gauntlett, Foucault believes that the world is constructed of individuals who adapt to different experiences and their environment and affect the world rather than a world which imposes ‘external discourses’ on individuals in society (116). Gauntlett also points out that Foucault believes that power is something that is not controlled by one individual or group or individuals. Foucault believes that power flows through interactions with other individuals and presents itself to people in different situations. Foucault believes that rather than a negative result, the use of power results in productivity. He is not saying, however, that every act of power is positive; he is saying that even with resistance to power, something is being produced.
I find it interesting when Gauntlett continues to write about Foucault’s view of power in relation to the ideas about sexuality in Victorian times. Gauntlett writes that Foucault argues that because the views regarding sexuality in Victorian times stifled some behaviors those behaviors were given an ‘identity’ which, Gauntlett writes, “…launched them (the behaviors) into the public eye” (121). Thus, the behaviors were almost made 'popular' and individuals in society became more aware of those behaviors and could possibly relate or give a name to the thoughts or behaviors they might have been engaging in themselves.
Gauntlett continues to describe another view of Foucault’s, ‘technologies of the self’. ‘Technologies of the self’ refer to the ways individuals act in society and how outside influences can allow or restrain those individuals from acting a certain way. Gauntlett describes these ‘technologies of the self’ as the “(internal and external) practice of our (internal) ethics. The ethics are our set of standards to do with being a particular sort of person; the technologies of the self are how we think and act to achieve this” (126). In terms of media influences then, our self identities can be influenced by media and images that media portrays to the public, but ultimately we have the decision to act one way or another either in support of the images that media portrays or not. In all, this chapter in Gauntlett's book basically states the views of Michel Foucault and how he believes that when it comes to sexuality, we must develop our own ethics so that we can create our own 'mode of living' which may agree with the messages media conveys, or may disagree with those messages.

Lebron James - Will You Ever be as Powerful?


I'm not exactly sure why this commercial stood out to me, possibly because of the cool music and obscurity of the entire thing. However, I believe this commercial illustrates how Lebron's ethics and 'technologies of the self' have developed him into the 'powerful' person that he is today. It is an encouraging commercial because it tells the viewer, especially viewers who are athletes, that with hard work and effort they can achieve their goals in the midst of people who may discourage them. Of course, what this commercial really wants to convey is that this process of gaining power and fame is much more easily done with Nike products. At any rate, individuals can view this commercial and be influenced positively to work hard no matter what the opposition or difficulties may be, or they can possibly be encouraged to purchase Nike products so that they will somehow become better or more powerful athletes or the viewers could reject this commercial in its entirety as something ridiculous and silly and meaningless.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Giddens, Modernity and Self - Identity

In this chapter in his book, Media, Gender and Identity, David Gauntlett writes about the work of Anthony Giddens’ and how Giddens analyzes the way in which individuals “understand and shape their self-identity in modern societies” and how media plays a role in shaping this understanding (91). Giddens suggests that the way individuals conduct their lives and understand who they are in this world has to do directly with social forces; however, social life is not completely determined by these outside forces. Giddens says that there is a social structure but that this social structure can easily be changed if an individual feels the need to change that structure. Giddens suggests that individuals almost unconsciously conduct their lives based on this social order and when another individual decides to do something that may be out of the ‘norm’, it makes people uncomfortable. Gauntlett uses the example of how individuals in the past and present have questioned the way in which men and women should behave, and this has rattled people because men and women are changing the way they may have behaved in the past or according to past social structures. Gauntlett continues to write that Giddens believes we are in an era of late modernity.
I find it particularly interesting when Gauntlett writes that modernity directly affects an individual’s self identity. Because of modernity, new technologies, etc, individuals are offered many options, or many identities to choose from. In effect, some traditional self identities are being diminished. Advertising and the corporate world allows consumers to choose from multiple identities and therefore, consumerism directly relates to an individuals lifestyle. Gauntlett also writes that not only has modernity affected an individuals self identity, but it has also affected the body. Gauntlett writes, “In every interaction with another person or group, each of us routinely fosters more or less of an illusion designed to give the ‘right impression’ to our ‘audience’ (104). Gauntlett refers to this as the ‘reflexive mobilization’ of the body. In today’s society, we are able to ‘manipulate’ our bodies into fitting in to specific social situation. Obviously, modernity has a direct effect on society’s views of their self identities and their physical self.

Dr Vitolo


I chose this advertisement because I think it shows directly how modernity, including new technologies have affected our sense of self identity. This commercial is sickening. The narrator says, “I know we don’t all get to be born beautiful, but what I wouldn’t give to have a body like that”. This just shows how our society has put stress on the fact that we can now alter our bodies to fit a specific social ‘norm’ or expectation. It breaks my heart that because we are not all ‘born beautiful’ we can rely on consumerism and alterations to change the way we look to fit that definition of ‘beautiful.’ The only way to change this perception and the measures individuals take to alter their bodies to fit that social ‘norm’ is to change the way society views beauty. However, as long as media, advertisements, and society at large portray that image of beauty, how will individuals ever change their ideas of beauty?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Feminist Perspectives and Gender Representations, Oh My!

Feminist Perspectives on the Media – Liesbet van Zoonen

This article was difficult to read and analyze. However, I was able to pull a few different ideas from Liesbet van Zoonen’s writing entitled, Feminist Perspectives on the Media. According to van Zoonen, there are three feminist perspectives on the media. They are a liberal perspective, radical, and socialist perspective. First of all, what van Zoonen calls “liberal feminism”, they stereotypical thoughts about the roles that women play in society, especially the role as a housewife and mother, are all responsible for why women hold a “lower” or “unequal” position in society. In terms of media analysis, liberal feminists analyze “sex role stereotypes, prescriptions of sex-appropriate behavior, appearance, interests, skills and selfperceptions” (35). The second perspective is a radical feminist perspective. In this idea, “patriarchy” is the main point. Van Zoonen puts it well on page 36 when he says in terms of this feminist perspective, “In radical feminist discourse ‘patriarchy’, a social system in which all men are assumed to dominate and oppress all women, accounts for women’s position in society”. I found it interesting when I read that in “feminist utopias” which would be a radical feminist’s greatest dream come true, lesbianism is a “political choice” because in a feminist utopia, women must completely cut themselves off from all ties with men and “form their own communities” (37). In this perspective, in terms of media, pornography has been closely analyzed. The conclusion is that media greatly affects men’s views and attitudes towards women and how women view themselves. Finally, the third perspective that van Zoonen brings up is socialist feminism. In a socialist feministic perspective, gender, class, and economic conditions each directly affect women’s positions in society. Van Zoonen says that the solution in terms of media representation of women is “reforming the mainstream media as well as producing separate feminist media” (39). Van Zoonen writes that the negative perspectives of women in society need to be reformed. This can be accomplished either by reforming media that exists today or through creating entirely new, feminist interpretations of the way women should conduct themselves in society.

Feminist Media Project


This website is extremely interesting. It was started by a group of people, a mix of academics and journalists, concerned about media depictions of missing and murdered women. This website refers to the trial of Robert Pickton in Vancouver, British Columbia, for 26 charges of first-degree murder. The website says, "Details of the trial against Pickton, which begins in January 2007, are bound to generate the most salacious and disturbing media coverage that reinforces stereotypes about women victims of violence and their perpetrators. Recognition of these issues and subsequent change in media representations can only occur through informed public discourse." Apparently, this website posts news alerts and media coverage about the "Missing Women" from a feminist perspective. I'm not sure how recently this site was updated, but it is still interesting to find that there are some active groups advocating feminism and media depictions in society.

Representations of Gender Today – David Gauntlett

In chapter four, Representations of Gender Today in David Gauntlett’s book, Media, Gender and Identity, an Introduction, Gauntlett writes that by the mid 1990’s, gender representation in media has been growing towards equal representation of both males and females. Gaunlett refers to a few examples of television shows in which the women are main roles and portrayed as successful and confident intelligent characters while men are portrayed as having emotions and sensitive. Gauntlett says the same thing has been happening in films. He uses an interesting example by referring to the Terminator 2: Judgment Day when Arnold Schwarzenegger’s evil character, the Terminator comes back in the second film as a “protective father-figure to nice little Ed Furlong” (65). This could also possibly be part of the 90’s trend of changing the perspective of “fatherhood.” Gauntlett continues to discuss advertisement representations of gender, which he seems to think have been almost equal in terms of the representation of women and men in advertisements. I find it particularly interesting when Gauntlett writes in reference to gender representations in advertisements, “…the make-up adverts referred to above remind us of a concern uniquely applicable to advertising – that it is produced by capitalists who want to cultivate insecurities which they can then sell ‘solutions’ to” (77). I feel like this is true not only for women, especially in advertisements geared towards beauty products, but this can also be true for men in advertisements geared toward control or power through the purchase of a specific product. Finally, Gauntlett writes about the emergence of alternate sexualities on television. He writes that although representations of homosexuals have been emerging frequently in T.V. sitcoms, they are still not as frequently represented as a heterosexual cast of characters.

Clean Clear and Confident - What Everyone Woman Wants...


This commercial is possibly more for a laugh than anything else, but it relates to what Gauntlett wrote about when he said that advertisements are geared toward solutions to insecurities that the consumer may have. In this advertisement for Clean and Clear, the characters in the advertisement are upset because they have oily skin. They find a solution in Clean and Clear which takes away their 'oiliness' so that they can have fun again and sing songs. The hope for the producer of this ad is that the consumer finds that she can relate to these two girls because she too has oily skin sometimes and that oily skin is probably keeping her from having fun. Not only does this ad address insecurities in women, but it excludes men altogether. Where are the oily-faced men in this ad? I know that there are oily faced men out there...why isn't this ad geared towards both men and women? Clean and Clear is not just a product for females...atleast I don't think it says anywhere on the container: "for women only".
I have to apologize for this commercial because it is in another language...of which I am not sure. But it results in some good laughs (atleast I laughed a lot at it) because of how ridiculous the two girls in the ad act. You can still get the main point in the ad, however, even though it is in some other language.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Representations of Gender in the Past - Gauntlett

As with Tuchman, David Gauntlett, in chapter three of his book, Media, Gender and Identity, an Introduction, stresses and observes how women have been underrepresented in media. In this chapter, Gauntlett looks at different decades of films produced and analyzes the portrayal of women in these films. It was not until the 70’s that some women were portrayed as a “heroic” type of character. However, the majority of films produced have depicted men as the hero and prized possession of the film. Women have played important roles, and many roles that have been much more than simply a love interest. However, it seems that men have played much more important roles in film.
Gauntlett proceeds to tell the reader that women’s magazines in the past have portrayed women a little more than “simpering housewives whose dream was to impress their authoritative, working husbands by using the latest kitchen accessory or washing powder” (50). Magazines through the 1950’s encouraged women to work, but still emphasized the importance of being a mother, running the household, and finding a great man to marry and have children with. Gauntlett writes that it was not until the 60’s that women’s magazines began to inspire the women’s “liberation movement.”
Gauntlett addresses Cosmopolitan in some ways that I really haven’t thought about. I never really took the time to read an entire Cosmo magazine, mostly because I viewed that particular magazine as vain. Gauntlett’s description of Cosmo only enhanced my pessimistic view of the magazine. He writes that Cosmo expects women to be “so many things: sexy, successful, glamorous, hard-working; sharp and relaxed in social settings, powerful and likeable at work” (54). Although these are great attributes to have, Cosmo is putting too much emphasis on the outer image and trying to keep up a “good” image so that people will accept you or somehow like you more (so you’ll be able to catch more men). Gauntlett continues to write that even in advertisements, women are underrepresented. If women are in an advertisement, the advertisement often supports the woman’s role in the household. However, Gauntlett seems to leave us (in his summary) with a feeling that, although the representation of women in the past has been lacking, the representation of women in media is changing and will be changing more in media.

Mr. Clean - 1950's-60's


I had to laugh a little when I first viewed this 1950-60's advertisement for the Mr. Clean product. I feel like it was an attempt to take some of the stereotypical "cleaning pressures" off of women at that time. However, during the first few seconds of the commercial I found myself waiting to see the woman of the house. And when she finally made her appearance, I felt satisfied seeing her in her bandanna and apron, ready to clean. The man of the house (the singer) sings about how he needs to do some 'weekend' cleaning and needs Mr. Clean's help. The male's weekend cleaning consists of 'manly' jobs such as cleaning a wall, a paintbrush, and the car. However, when the woman makes another appearance, it is she who is spending her time in the kitchen, doing laundry, etc. One positive thing that I noticed about this commercial is that the male character (the lead character) says that this is weekend cleaning. He leaves no reason for the viewer to assume that maybe his wife does work during the week, and that is why they must save all of the cleaning jobs for the weekend. However, as Gauntlett and Tuchman both wrote, the male for some reason is the dominant character in this advertisement. This could be, however because the makers of Mr. Clean wanted to reach out to men to tell men that they too can clean with this product. Even so, this commercial is an accurate underrepresentation of women in advertisements, even when the advertisement should be a "women's advertisement" in the terms that it is a cleaning product which women would, obviously, need more than men.

The Symbolic Annihilation of Women by the Mass Media

In Gaye Tuchman’s writing, The Symbolic Annihilation of Women by the Mass Media, she suggests that television and other media texts, such as women’s magazines do not accurately depict women. Tuchman writes on page 10, “From children’s shows to commercials to prime-time adventures and situation comedies, television proclaims that women don’t count for much.” Tuchman uses the term “symbolically annihilated” to describe how women are extremely underrepresented in television in today’s society. Tuchman suggests that this lack of representation for the female race tells society that women do not have an influence, or matter much in American society.
I found it interesting when Tuchman talked about how women are portrayed as incompetent in television. She also suggests that television portrays an approval of married women and a “condemnation of single and working women.” She writes that “single women are more likely to be victims of violence than married women, and working women are more likely to be villains than housewives” (13). I am not sure I completely agree with Tuchman, especially when she writes that women seem to be underrepresented in media outlets such as television. I think as time and society has been changing, women have been more and more positively represented in television. This is especially true as women have become appointed into more prestigious positions in society such as governmental positions. I do understand, however, that in the past women have been underrepresented, but I feel as if Gay Tuchman over exaggerates the under representation of women in media.

The Devil Wears Prada


I chose this clip from The Devil Wears Prada because when I read from Tuchman that working women are often portrayed as the villain in media, my mind immediately went to this film. Understandably, Anne Hathaway plays a working woman as well, but Meryl Streep is, in this film, the woman with all of the power. She is portrayed as an evil, demanding snotty owner of a women’s magazine. She has all of the power, yet she must be a villain to obtain that power. Anne, on the other hand is not as powerful, and is therefore portrayed as weaker. However, at the end of the movie, Anne somehow sees the light and realizes that because of her job she has been neglecting her lover and she realizes that she needs to reconcile things with her lover, and that there are more important things to life than a multi-million dollar job; like a love. Possibly I am reading too much into this film, because I definitely enjoyed the movie myself, but I can understand Tuchman’s point when she says that women are underrepresented in media images. This successful (Meryl Streep) is portrayed as needing to hold evil characteristics in order to make it big, or make a ton of money. I suppose the movie has a good message in that money is not important, but you do not have to be an evil Meryl Streep (Devil) type of person to have influence on other individuals.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Media, Gender and Identity - David Gauntlett


In the introduction of this book, David Gauntlett explains that media has played an important role in influencing gender identity. However, Gauntlett also emphasizes that media has had a “direct and straightforward effect on its audiences” (Gauntlett, 1). In his book, Gauntlett sets out to analyze the messages that media are sending regarding how men and women view their specific roles, and the impact those messages have made in society. In the introduction, Gauntlett describes how gender roles have developed throughout history and how media has encouraged those specific roles designated towards males and females. For women, Gauntlett uses the example that the view of women staying at home and “running the house” is almost extinct, whereas now women are expected to be active in society through a full time job or some position of prestige and power. Men, however, are placed in an awkward situation because now women are taking over the traditional male roles; the main monetary supporter of the family, masculinity, etc. Gauntlett proposes, however, that mass media is helping to shape this new identity that men must learn to play in the household, as well as the new identity that women are engaging in. Throughout the introduction, Gauntlett gives an outline of his entire book, what the goal is, etc. Gauntlett also mentions some things that are “wrong” with this book.

Chapter 1 – Some Background Debates

In this chapter, Gauntlett brings up the following question: “Does the mass media have a significant amount of power over its audience, or does this audience ultimately have more power than the media?” (19) Gauntlett introduces two theorists who represent both positions: Adorno and Fiske. Theodor Adorno, who fled from Germany in the 1930’s when the Nazis rose to power and who was also a member of the Frankfurt School for Social Research was a theorist who supported the idea that media has a significant amount of power over its audiences. Adorno and his colleague Max Horkheimer proposed that anything “new” introduced into mass media simply becomes a part of the “whole” of media. And, that as consumers, we must accept whatever it is that the “culture industry” is producing. So, things may relate to us, and we may think that those products are distinct, or make us distinct, but in reality, those products are nothing new and nothing different because they are a result of a “culture industry” that makes those products seem unique (21). John Fiske, however, argues that the audience holds the power over media. The audience has the power to interpret media texts and to determine how popular or unpopular those specific products or texts are or will become. Fiske argues that this power that the audience holds “…far outweighs the ability of media institutions to send a particular message or ideology to audiences within their texts” (23). This chapter continues in criticizing the ‘media effects’ theory of research, stating several reasons as to why this theory is faulty.

Gauntlett, David. Media, Gender and Identity. London: Routledge, 2002. 1-42.

One point that Gauntlett brings up in his Introduction is that regarding marriage and the values of marriage. Gauntlett writes that because gender roles have been changing, men and women have become equals in terms of relationships with one another. Relationships are centered around an emotional or "trusting bond" rather than "external laws, regulations or social expectations" (3). Gauntlett writes that when that emotional bond loosens, or 'ceases to exist,' society accepts a break up or an end to that particular relationship. However, is marriage solely based on the emotional? What roles is media emphasizing in today's marriages? And, if roles are changing, what does that look like in a marriage? What about cultures where marriage is based on necessity rather than feelings or the emotion of love?

Although a joke, this picture is titled the International Sign for Marriage. What does this tell viewers that marriage has become, or how the stereotypical roles have switched in marriages in today's society? I'm not quite sure what or how I feel about this image and what it might mean...but I do know that it makes me feel uncomfortable because this image has come from somewhere. Someone, through media or today's culture, someone came up with this image as a stereotypical relationship between a man and a woman.

(I found this image at: www.joe-ks.com/archives_jan2005/MarriageSign.htm)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Idealolgies and Power – Branston and Stafford

In this article, Branston and Stafford argue that our ideologies, which are our ideas about the social world, have something to do with social power. The first approach that the authors define is the Marxist approach. In a Marxist society, the capitalists dominate; the dominant ideas of society are the ideas of those who dominate that society. Through this power, the dominant class is able to make those who are not in the dominant class (workers) believe that situations of cruelty and exploitation or abuse are normal. The term hegemony came out of this way of thinking. However, power in a society is constantly fought for by dominant social groups. The author ties this in to Media Studies by saying that media encourages individuals in society to agree or abide to those specific dominant groups. The author presents an opposing view, however. He refers to writers Abercrombie, Hill and Turner. They argue that “though dominant ideologies do exist, they are not the most important means for making social orders hang together” (125). These authors argue that because armed control exists and large means of surveillance also exist that “unified social orders” do not exist. Through these authors, Branston and Stafford argue that Media Studies now look to explaining “powerful or not so powerful ideologies and identities” as being connected to specific social groups (class, ethnic, religious, sexual, etc). These social groups are played out in individuals’ lives through “lived cultures” and “discourses” (126).

Compassion Commercial

This commercial is upsetting in many different ways. But you have to get past being upset or feeling awkward because you may have thought these things or felt these things at one time and realize why this commercial is so effective. Unfortunately, these ideas, what these children are saying comes from some place, be it dominant society or not. The unfortunate part and the most influential part of this commercial is the fact that children are the ones saying these things about cultures that are different or "subordinate" to American society. Although the childredn are obviously of different ethnicities, they are each speaking perfect english and therefore representing dominant "english-speaking" society and its views regarding cultures that are in turmoil or war, etc. I think this commercial is effective in showing how dominant views can possibly affect even the youngest members of society.

Hegemony – James Lull

In this article, the author defines hegemony as “the power or dominance that one social group holds over others” (61). The idea of hegemony is attributed to Gramsci, an Italian intellectual. According to this idea of hegemony, the author points out that mass media are “tools” in which those dominating society, or social groups, can use to increase their power over society by making popular and possibly universal their own specific beliefs, morals, etc. These messages and accepted social behaviors become “routine activities” in individual’s daily lives. This connects hegemony, or “ideological representation” to an individuals own culture (62). Hegemony’s success relies on those not included in dominant culture accepting the dominant ideologies as reality or “common sense.”

I do like football...

I do like football, I really do. And, I think both of these commercials are compelling and effective in relaying motivational messages to do your best and work your hardest. However, possibly because I'm in the mode of criticizing every piece of media that I see, especially commercial related media, these two commercials may have some hidden messages. I believe that we can look past these messages, however, because we have learned to accept them. Both of these comemercials are about power and being successful through being the best. These commercials have a lot of energy, close up shots of rather large powerful men, and frankly these commercials are pretty intimidating. These men are out to get what they want; success, possibly the death of other human bodies, etc... And, these commercials are probably most compelling to young athletes and lovers of football...and who are the majority of those individuals? Young men. Men are being taught to be strong and only successful...of course...I suppose in football you have to be huge and strong and relentless. And I also guess that Nike is the answer to the possibly "weak" boy's struggle for acceptance and dominance...Maybe I'm just reading into things too much. I understand that these commercials are cool and really can motivate, especially athletes, to "be all that they can be"...but there is so much more to life and to individuals than being the most powerful or the best.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Importance of Cultural Studies

In this chapter, of Gender, Race, and Class in Media edited by Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez, Douglas Kellner emphasizes the importance of cultural studies in effectively analyzing media. Kellner stresses the importance of cultural studies in that cultural studies can enable individuals to better understand their own culture, allows individuals to look at and analyze culture without previous prejudices toward “one or another sort of cultural text, institution, or practice,” and cultural studies can show how media has positively or negatively affected individuals (Kellner 11-12). Kellner then goes on to explain that there are three parts that must be taken into account when engaging in critical cultural studies. The first component is taking into account a cultural text’s “system of production and distribution, often referred to as the political economy of culture.” An example of this system that Kellner uses deals with radio or music television. Because there are specific rules that must be abided by, songs that are played on the radio or television must be three to five minutes so that they fit into “the frames of the distribution system (Kellner, 12). The next component to take into account is a textual analysis. Kellner talks about semiotics and how cultural “signs” form “systems of meanings” (Kellner 14). Finally, Kellner stresses that texts are interpreted differently by different audiences. Members of a specific social group, gender, religion, race, etc will determine the meaning of media images in different ways. In all, Kellner stresses that a cultural studies will only be effective if it is “critical, multicultural, and multiperspectival.” If this is accomplished, a “critical cultural studies” will attack specific biases or stereotypes against different racial, gender and other cultural groups in society (Kellner 18).

The Times Are Really 'A Changin' Bob...

Victoria's Secret Commercial:


Cadillac Commercial:


I chose both of these commercials because first of all, they shocked me a little in that when I think of Bob Dylan, I think of acoustic, folk music that isn't really "edgy"...In both of these advertisements, Dylan seems a bit edgier. In the Victoria's Secret commercial, I guess Dylan is supposed to seem sexy. When I first viewed the Victoria Secret commercial, my initial thought was, "My mom loves Bob Dylan...I hope she never sees this commercial." I think that possibly my mom would be disappointed that Bob Dylan was in a commercial like this, a commercial celebrating the sexiness and lure of young, fit women in skimpy bras and panties. Bob Dylan, someone my mother related with and loved for his music back in the 60's probably can not relate to the young woman in the advertisement. However, given the fact that time times have 'been a changin,' this commercial could probably relate to a younger generation of women...Even so, I don't know how many young women listen to Bob Dylan. I feel like Victoria's Secret was trying to reach out to women who may have loved Bob Dylan and somehow thought that his sexual lure would intrigue women to buy their products but I think the entire commercial is ridiculous and I wish I would not have seen the commercial because I love Bob Dylan...but not paired with bras and panties.

The second Bob Dylan commercial I think better portrays Bob...This commercial takes place out in the country and is trying to sell a Cadillac. I think this commercial may be more effective in persuading an older generation of consumers because it seems to possibly portray who Dillan really is (or was). The commercial is set on an open road, no obstacles, etc. At the end of the commercial, Dillan says, "What's life without the occasional detour?" and then Cadillac puts up the words "Life. Liberty. and the Pursuit." I feel like this commercial may also possibly relate to an older generation of men as it seems to be trying to convince the consumer to buy or be interested in this product because it is something that will enable you to "detour" away from life, or be sort of rebellious in a way. I think this commercial better relates to an older generation because maybe they related with Bob Dylan in the 60's because of his controversial music, or strong lyrics that encouraged individuals to look away from what was happening at that time.

In this, it is important to know the audience when looking at media images such as these two commercials. Kellner stresses the importance of knowing the audience. If Victoria's Secret was trying to relate with an older generation of consumers, I think they probably failed miserably. Then again, just as Bob Dylan was portrayed as a "tough rebellious" guy in the second commercial, maybe an older generation of women sees him as some sort of sexual icon, someone who ignites rebelliousness in their hearts. (I'm not completely sure what Bob Dylan is to anyone). Even so, I laughed at both of these commercials, possibly because I don't really see Bob Dylan as some sort of tough guy who idolizes cars or women...but I could be completely wrong...possibly Bob Dylan's new music is now racier or edgier and can relate to a new generation of listeners...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Disappointing Disney

Are Disney Movies Good for Your Kids?
By: Henry A. Giroux

In this chapter of the book entitled, Kinderculture - The Corporate Construction of Childhood, edited by Shirley R. Steinberg and Joe L. Kincheloe, Henry A. Giroux basically points out that Disney as an "empire" is not as innocent and fantastic as it's films may represent it to be. Disney has become an important representation of American culture through being present in almost every facet of society. Giroux continues to explain that not only do children “experience Disney’s cultural influence” through watching the films, but also through merchandise in shopping malls, television, restaurants, and even in the classroom (Giroux, 166). Disney has become much more than simply a source of “quality” entertainment for children. Through the Magic Kingdom, Disney has possibly even become the example, or image for American culture to strive to achieve. Unfortunately, Giroux puts it well when he says that the Disney empire, through clever business tactics and “a sharp eye for providing dreams and products through forms of popular culture,” has been able to convince children to be “willing to materially and emotionally invest” in what the Disney empire has to say about society (Giroux 167). Giroux goes on to explain and give numerous examples of the ways in which Disney portrays stereotypes in films. From racial to gender to social stereotypes, they can be seen all throughout “innocent” Disney movies. Giroux says that there are a few lessons that need to be learned in regards to ideas about society that Disney projects through its films; I’ll name a few of those lessons. Society needs to take seriously the fact that Disney films and the ideals and lessons presented in Disney films are a source of learning for children, and parents should be aware of the messages being revealed to children through these films. In saying this, it is important for parents and educators to realize that Disney films are being interpreted differently by groups of children from various backgrounds. Giroux ends his chapter by arguing that Disney should be held accountable for what it produces because its products and power are so prevalent in society.

What Happened to My Childhood?

After reading this article, I have to be honest in saying that my heart sank. I knew that Disney movies negatively display racial, gender, and other social stereotypes, but somehow reading the facts on paper was just a bit more disheartening. As a child, my heroes and sources of entertainment were characters in Disney movies. I was obsessed with Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I owned many of the Barbie dolls from Disney movies: Pocahontas, and Jasmine from Aladdin to name a few. While reading this article, however, my mind drifted from Disney movies to other sources of entertainment that I surrounded myself with as a child: television. For some reason, my mind went directly to the old cartoon, Pinky and the Brain. (I’m sure many of us could recite the theme song.) Although this T.V. serious is Warner Bros. and not Disney, some of the same issues regarding stereotypes are obvious in this children’s television show. The show begins with lyrics that already suggest some stereotypes that are prevalent in this T.V. series: “Pinky and the Brain…One is a genius the other’s insane…” I have to admit that as a child I loved the “insanity” of this television show. However, while thinking about stereotypes in shows geared towards children, I quickly became sick to my stomach. The two different mice, Brain and Pinky represent two extremely different stereotypes. Brain represents the “smart” mouse who is constantly trying to find new ways to take over the world. His head is much larger than Pinky’s head (or any mouse I’ve ever seen) and he talks in a monotone voice. Is this really what we think of people who are intellectuals? Can these individuals not speak normally or relate to other individuals? Pinky on the other hand, is the representation of “insanity.” He has a huge overbite and talks mostly in words that are nonsensical. He uses many different “sounds” such as “zort,” “norf” or “poit”. Apparently, according to wikipedia.org, Pinky also is aware of many different changing trends or fads of which Brain has no idea because he is wasting too much time being “genius”; another stereotype of individuals with a lot of “brains.” Both of the stereotypes developed through the two characters, Pinky and the Brain can be hurtful towards individuals who may be more intellectual or less intellectual. However, the portrayal of the “insane” is especially disturbing. I’m almost ashamed that I was entertained as a young kid by a negative portrayal of something that some people in society must deal with every day. However, I didn’t know any better; I thought it was funny. The solution I believe, as Giroux pointed out, is left to the responsibility of the parents and educators. Unfortunately, these stereotypical portrayals of individuals in society will probably continue in entertainment. Although it’s upsetting that many stereotypes are evident in entertainment specifically geared towards young children, I think it’s something we must deal with rather than complain about. Parents need to take time to explain to their children the difference between stereotypes and reality. Entertainment will continue to develop world views and ways in which children view society. It is extremely important that we, as knowledgeable individuals regarding the fallacy of stereotypes, educate young people so that they too are aware of the reality of society.


I decided to post this particular clip from Pinky and the Brain (mainly because I think I remember it from years and years ago) but also because it depicts some of the stereotypes obvious to this cartoon series. Brain is obviously the one who knows all about the brain, which is why he is the one naming the parts of the brain. Pinky, on the other hand, can say nothing but "brainstem," while swinging from what looks like a bungee chord, obviously oblivious to anything other than his own "insanity." Brain seems to try to fit in with society, or normality when he begins to play the tambourine. However, the same blank expression is shown on his face while playing the instrument, as if he is consistently in a state of thinking or analyzing, not even able to change his facial expression for something fun. At the end of the scene, you can clearly hear Pinky's absurdity and insanity when he says "zorf" or some word that has no meaning, and you can clearly see his large overbite. At the very end, when Brain hits Pinky over the head, Pinky seems to enjoy it, a smile on his face as he tumbles to the ground. In all, I think you can pick out the stereotypes for yourself as they are evident in this clip.

Thanks to <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinky_and_the_Brain> for refreshing my brain as to some facts I had forgotten about Pinky and the Brain…