Friday, August 6, 2010

Delia, a 16 year-old high school student, was thinking doing some extra-curricular activities. Since she was brought up with three sports-minded brothers, it was natural for her to decide fairly quickly that she wanted to be in athletics.  Therefore, she researched on which particular sport she would like to partake in. While researching, she came to a realization that there is a masculine-feminine dichotomy between the gendered sports in that the sought for traits and the dress of each sport differs between the gender roles.
As Messner states, “organized sports is also a ‘gendering institution’ – an institution that helps construct the current gender order. Part of this construction of gender is accomplished through the ‘masculinizing’ of male bodies and minds” (134). Delia found this especially true when she compared two oppositely gendered sports: gymnastics for girls and football for boys. Gymnastics focuses mainly on flexibility and grace, common traits attributed to women. For football, however, the desired traits are power and strength, prominently masculine traits. It is true that the oppositely focused traits may help in the sport, but they are not as valued.
Not only did Delia find the traits different, she also noticed that the clothing reflected their gender roles. Jhally states, “visual images are the central mode through which the modern world understands itself. Images are the dominant language of the modern world” (256). Thus, high school sports utilize images of clothing to dichotomize their athletes. It is obvious that different sports that mostly adhere to one gender would have different clothing, e.g. cheerleading vs. football. One can see that girls where short skirts and tighter shirts to show off their bodies, while the boys usually clothe upmore. However, if you look at a sport that both genders participate in, i.e. cross country, the clothing dichotomy is still there.
Works Cited:
Jhally, Sut. “Image-based Culture: Advertising and Popular Culture”. Gender, Race, and Class in Media. Ed. By Dines and Humez. California: Sage Publications, 2003. pps 249-257.
Messner, Michael. “Boyhood, Organized Sports, and the Construction of Masculinities”. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. Sage Publications, 1990.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

"California Gurls" Re-remake.

This student-created production is covered under the Fair Use codes US copyright law. Specifically, Section 107 of the current Copyright Act and Section 504(c)(2) cover the educational-basis of this video production. The production is intended to be a transformative remake, aiding in both student and public media literacy. The use of copyrighted material is in the service of constructing a differing understanding than the original work, which according to Section 110 (1) (2), is to be treated as a new cultural production. This student-production is in no way limited to the protections provided by the Fair Use codes stated above due to the many other sections of the current US Copyright Act, which also include the principles of Fair Use.

Please refer to Fair Use principles when re-posting, quoting, and/or excerpting the video-production posted here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Blog Post 2: Janelle Walks on a Tightrope of Feminism

Janelle Monàe is a blossoming artist that promotes the feminist movement. Her style weaves in hip-hop with blues, and also adding some techno flair in the background. She believes that music may be able to change the way that the audience perceives her culture into a positive movement. Her feminism is conveyed in her video of her song, “Tightrope.” Monàe’s video utilizes its imagery to subvert normative hip-hop videos in the setting of the video, in the way she dances, and in her style of dress.
The setting of the music video takes place in an asylum called “the Palace of the Dogs”. This can be interpreted as the social institution of patriarchy or masculinity since  “Dogs” may be referenced as a symbol of masculinity. As the video suggests, Monàe is a patient in the asylum. However, she is seen sneaking out of her room to participate in dancing, an activity that is “long been forbidden for its subversive effects on the residents and its tendency to lead to illegal magical practices” (Tightrope). Therefore, her intentions to undermine the asylum’s regulations can be seen as her effort to break away from the trends of contemporary hip-hop videos that are “objectifying and subjugating black women in hip-hop music videos, and their potentially damaging social impact” (Perry 136).  In other words, she attempts to overthrow the misogynistic image of black women in hip-hop videos and try to advance the perception of them in a positive light.
As previously mentioned, Monàe dances in this video, a common theme in many hip-hop videos. Her dancing constitutes of a lot of footwork, similar to that of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Her dancing portrays an artistic form of expression that exudes energy and soul. It does not portray signs of being sexual at all. Her dancing portrays an artistic form of expression that exudes energy.
Because Monàe’s movement does not portray pornographic imagery, it subverts the popularized notion that music video girls are used for their sexuality. In her essay, Perry observed that in popular music videos that “even the manner in which the women dance is a signal of cultural destruction” and continues to say that “the women who appear in these videos are usually dancing in a two-dimensional fashion, a derivative but unintellectual version of black dance, more reminiscent of symbols of pornographic male sexual fantasy” (137).  However, Monàe dances in a sophisticated way which is not even remotely close to what Perry observed in music videos that demeans black women.
Not only does Monàe dance in a sophisticated manner, her dress is sophisticated also. In the video, Monàe does not dress in the typical hip-hop video “hussy” style. She does not wear scantily clad clothing while showing off her buxom and curvaceous body. Monàe dons a fitted tuxedo similar to those of the male characters somewhat symbolizing equality between them. Even the other women in the video do not go along with the norms of contemporary hip-hop videos.
Dressing like that conceives a counter-hegemonic notion.  As Miller-Young points out, “hip-hop artists or entertainers have been the principal location for a growing pornographic sensibility that functions to market black bodies, aesthetics, and culture to a global consumer audience” (262). Her dress does not promote any pornographic imagery that succumbs to the global consumer audience. Therefore, she further subverts popular ideologies.
In conclusion, by producing imagery that subverts the persuasive influences of the negative media in her video she promotes a healthy image and portrayal of black women.  Her sophisticated nature deters any representation of hegemony. She is focused on working to change the music industry through her work. Janelle Monàe definitely utilizes her talents in a positive way.

Miller-Young, Mireille. "Hip-Hop Honeys and the Hustlaz: Black Sexualities in the New Hip-Hop Pornography". Smith College, 2008.  
Perry, Imani. "Who(se) Am I? The Identity and Image of Women in Hip-Hop." Gender, Race, and Class in Media. Ed. Dines and Humez. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc., 2003.
"Tightrope." Per. Janelle Monàe. Music Video. 2010.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Critical Analysis of Lloyd on the HBO Series, Entourage

Entourage is a smart and intriguing series on HBO about the stylized lifestyles of the Hollywood elite. Its characters are interesting and depict different aspects of pop-culture, especially the character Lloyd.  A gay Chinese-American secretary played by Rex Lee, he is the central ‘diverse’ character in the series, being the only major recurring character that is neither Caucasian nor heterosexual in the popular series. Therefore, the inclusion of Lloyd in the series not only breathes in some of the gay sub-culture and ethnicity in Entourage’s non-divert Hollywood atmosphere, but also breaks down social norms. This can be seen from how Lloyd is portrayed, especially in the season premiere episode of season 6, “Drive”, where Lloyd confronts his demeaning, silver-tongued boss, Ari Gold, played by Jeremy Piven, for a promotion from his secretarial position, and with his relationship with his aforementioned boss.
As previously stated, Entourage quite rarely utilizes characters that are either non-white or non-heterosexual. This leaves Lloyd in charge of with the burdening task of representing both communities as a Chinese-American homosexual. He does that with flair. Lloyd does not conform to the stereotypical Asian that is depicted as “camera-wielding tourists, scholastic overachievers, or sinister warlords” (Newman 95). Lloyd is, out of all things, a homosexual secretary for an Agency firm in Hollywood and a pretty good one as the episode depicts that his retention by Ari Gold, who is notoriously known for having a new secretary every couple of weeks, lasts for over three years in the course of the show. However, what Lloyd’s character achieves to do is reinforce the characteristic stereotype that most male homosexuals are effeminate. Lloyd’s perky personality, boisterous attitude, and an impeccable fashion sense, although giving a fresh and somewhat relieving juxtaposition to his demeaning, self-serving boss, are given characteristics of that classic stereotype. Lloyd does break down the social norms for his sexual orientation in other aspects.
As the episode’s title infers, Lloyd’s grit and determination are represented well in his “drive” for success. After being refused once before by Ari, Lloyd lays down an ultimatum for the agency executive by willfully saying, “Ari, promote me or I’m leaving you!” Not to be deterred by Lloyd’s outbreak, Ari still arrogantly refuses to tend to Lloyd’s wants. However, after some thought of losing one of his most prized and loyal employees and some words from his wife and kids, Ari finally gives in to Lloyd’s demands by proposing that after 100 days, if Lloyd is still with him, he will get that most sought for promotion. With this, Lloyd plans on moving up the social ladder by hard work and determination. This does not conform with the media stereotype as indicated by Newman where he states, “images of homosexuality are rather narrow… Most gay and lesbian characters are white, and virtually all of them live comfortably in the middle class” (99). The passion for moving upwards is a sign that he is uncomfortable living his life as a secretary. He wants to become a powerful agent in the industry and to become a force not to be reckoned with.
To become a powerful agent, Lloyd needs to learn from the best.  Ari Gold is not Lloyd’s boss for nothing; he built one of the most powerful agencies from the ground up. He symbolizes the epitome of America. A powerful white man that has a dominant say on what goes on in the business. His rationale then can be compared to the interpretation of the show. Therefore, his relationship with Lloyd speaks volumes on how the creators of Entourage feel about his character. As Raymond notes, “portrayals of ‘minorities in the media’ tended to focus mostly on ethnic and racial minorities and to ignore sexual orientation as a defining aspect of identity” (101). Ari teases both Lloyd’s race and sexual orientation at somewhat equal magnitudes. For example, after asking Lloyd, “You never told him [Lloyd’s father] you like dick,” he continues, a minute later, to suggest that Lloyd’s father works in a dry cleaners. This goes to show that both character traits equally describe Lloyd. Raymond further states, “Depictions of glbt people tended both to dichotomize anyone glbt as victim or villain” (101). Even though harassed by Ari’s smart-mouthed tongue on numerous occasions, it never seemed that Lloyd was either a victim or a villain in the show. Maybe that’s just how Ari is, poking fun at everyone and not caring about the consequences. Or maybe Ari feels that Lloyd plays a bigger part in his life that he lets on, sometimes being the voice of reason and salvation when Ari is at a low-point. Therefore, Lloyd is somewhat a hero that saves Ari when he goes on a road to self-destruction, not a victim or a villain.
In conclusion, Lloyd takes on a bigger role than it seems. He represents his race and sexual orientation in, what I feel, a good light. He breaks down social norms with such flamboyancy and energy that it is difficult not to fall in love with his character. He marks an age of gradual acceptance of both race and homosexuality in the media. It is a definite given that Lloyd will continue to play a vital role in Entourage.
“Drive”. Entourage. By Mark Wahlberg. Perf. Jeremy Piven, Rex Lee, et al. HBO. 2009.
Newman, David M. “Chapter 3: Portraying Difference”.  Identities and Inequalities: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007. pp. 94-99.
Raymond, Diane A. “Popular Culture and Queer Representation: A Critical Perspective”. Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text-Reader. Ed. Dines, Gail and Humez, Jean M. California: Sage Publications, Inc, 2003. pp. 98-110.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Music Journalism's place in this Techno-Essentialist Society
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Patriarchy and punk: Fighting hegemonic masculinity in a supposedly equalitarian subculture
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Matthew Hunter: A history of homophobia
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Third Time's Still Not The Charm for Toy Story's Female Characters
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Rap as a complex art form - thoughts arising from "Music as art"
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