The O.C – Representation of Men

March 16, 2009 at 5:08 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

The O.C, a pivotal point in many teens live during its 4 season span.  I remember first hearing about this famed show, after its first season.  I didn’t much care for teen drama shows, and therefore wasn’t interested in watching its premier season, however after much insisting on the part of my friends I began to watch the second season.  Eventually I was hooked, and remained hooked for seasons 2 and 3.  After Marissa died, it all went down hill (a major jumping of the shark occurred), and I barely paid any attention to season 4.  Reading chapter 38 brought back many memories of the beloved television show.

Two of the main characters are touched upon, when examining the roles of men and the way they are portrayed within TV shows.  Ryan, the brooding, handsome kid from the wrong side of the tracks, represents hegemonic masculinity.  This type of masculinity is the most important within the patriarchal culture.  Seth, the cute, science geek represents complicit masculinity.  This type of masculinity “does little to challenge the patriarchal gender order, thereby enjoying its many rewards”.

Two conspicuously absent or underrepresented types of masculinity within the OC are marginalized and subordinate.  Marginalized means men of a different race (other than white) and men with disabilities.  While race is addressed very sparingly within dialogue, or characters that appear for less than a minute in a scene, men with disabilities are completely absent.  When there is a character of a different race within a scene, they often only personify a stereotype of the culture.

Subordinate masculinity represents men who are effeminate or gay.  This type of masculinity is at the very bottom of the hierarchy.  The only real representation of this type of masculinity is Luke’s father, who we find out is gay in the first season.  The other representation is Luke’s anti-homosexual remarks (he is uncomfortable with his fathers sexuality).

When gay characters are represented within TV shows and movies, they are often represented as a stereotype.  They usually personify many misconceptions of the gay community.  For example, when characters on TV shows talk about someone who is gay, they usually assume that they are feminine.  They put a pitch to their voice, flounce around, etc.  While this is the way some homosexual men behave, it is not an accurate portrayal of all gay men.  Many gay men behave just as any heterosexual man would, they just prefer men to women as sexual partners and lovers.  Characters often assume that gay men enjoy everything the women do, nice clothes, food, shopping, hair, etc. however, once again, this is not necessarily the case.  The gay community is completely and totally underrepresented within mainstream TV. 

While I do agree with this analysis of the OC and its clear lack of homosexual and racially different men, I don’t think the creators of the OC ever meant the show to be analyzed so.  It is a soapedy, part comedy, part soap opera.  It was created, not to make a statement, but to provide teens and young adults with an hour of entertainment every week.  It is supposed to be popular, with attractive stars, and watched enough to sell good ad time.  Therefore, although the show clearly lacks a dynamic representation of men, it is still an enjoyable show with (in my opinion) purely an entertainment purpose.



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Women & Television (Young & Old)

March 15, 2009 at 10:01 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

I had never thought about how older women were portrayed in the media before reading chapter 36 of the Media Literacy book. 

In Bewitched, Endora is the older woman of the series.  She is Samantha’s mother and is also a witch.  Her character does not approve of Samantha’s husband, Darrin, nor does she approve of the fact that Samantha is attempting to live a “mortal” life.   In the show Endora is portrayed as being ecce2ntric and her “grotesque by comparison” to her daughter.  Her clothing is strange, as well as her choice of makeup and especially her mannerisms.   A big thing that this section of the chapter examines is the fact that men are not supposed to be attracted to Endora, she is the mother figure, the older woman, the crazy uninhibited older woman.

Its remarkable how much women’s roles have changed throughout the past 50 years.  Women are now prominent figures in many previously male dominated careers.  Although we are continuously making huge strides in women’s rights throughout the world, television shows and movies continuously depict women in stereotypical “women’s roles”.  Family oriented TV shows and movies continuously show the mother in the kitchen, driving kids around, etc.  While it is up to the man to make the money and provide for the family.

When women are portrayed as career oriented and driven, they are often ostracized.  Shows like Lipstick Jungle and Cashmere Mafia are about women in business with strong and prosperous careers.  However, while they succeed in their careers, they are often depicted in dysfunctional relationships, or unable to have a relationship.  The reason for these dysfunctional relationships is often because the men (or women) in the relationship feel as though the career woman is too work oriented.  Women are not allowed to put their career’s first.  Women are expected to put their families and significant others before their careers.  When a woman does put her career first, she is seen as different and abnormal.

In chapter 36 the character of Samantha is examined in respect to her role as the lead of the show as well as a woman within the show.  For example, she is a witch and therefore could easily use her magical abilities to clean the house in a second.  Although she has this ability, Samantha decides to perform these household chores the “mortal way”, believing this is what the “typical mortal woman” would do.  Samantha also tries not to use her natural magical gifts, as Darrin, her husband, does not like it.  Darrin wants to be a normal family and for Samantha to perform her normal matronly duties.  She is prescribing to the ideal that the man is the head of the household, and he expects certain things. 

Bewitched allowed its female viewers to really think about their prescribed place within the family.  It allowed these women to, for 30 minutes a day, live outside of their typical life.  Thankfully women today no longer need this television escape, they can live independent lives.


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Exploring Media – Digital Self Portrait

March 15, 2009 at 1:35 pm (Uncategorized)

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Girl Power! – Cartoon Network & Spice Girl Style

March 12, 2009 at 1:29 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

A Positive message meant to instill confidence, a sense of self and security in every girl.  It is meant to ensure that as women, we remember that we have the power to instill change and overcome difficulties.  It is especially relevant to, women who are, I guess, at the age that they would be refered to as girls (I am guessing elementary, middle and some of high school).  The three cartoons that the book talks about are on Atomic Betty, Powerpuff Girls and Totally Spies, all on the Cartoon Network.

Each of these shows are examples “mass-mediated girl power”, each of the characters have two identities.  Atomic Betty, the Powerpuff Girls (Blossom, Buttercup, Bubbles) and the Spies are all “typical” girls leading “typical” lives.  However, when they are called by the higher powers, they must go and usually need to save the world. 

These girls/cartoons all represent the third wave of feminism.  This third wave emerged in the 1990’s.  Third wave feminism is a more historically and culturally influenced notion of feminism and femininities.  It “contends that the female identity is made complicated through parodic and irreverent representations.” 

I will admit that when I was younger I watched Powerpuff Girls and Totally Spies, however, Atomic Betty was a show that came out when I had surpassed the age that any cartoon that wasn’t lewd was unacceptable.  Therefore the only two shows that I really know much about are the spies and power puffs.  And I know that each of these shows encourages a strong sense of power for your girls.  However, these shows also encourage consumerism among these young impressionable girls. Basically, to be a pro-girl-power type of girl, you have to purchase the goods.  Things such as things that are basically the female version of typical male items.  Things like toy guns, trucks (which come pink, pretty, ie: girly), spy gear, etc.  It is extremely difficult to walk into a toy store without being bombarded by some sort of girl-power targeted merchandise.

My favorite representation of Girl Power were/are the Spice Girls.  They came before Atomic Betty, Totally Spies and Powerpuff Girls, and obviously are not cartoon characters (although they would make an excellent show…which I would have watched….) Anyway, the Spice Grils, for my generation, represented sexy, butt kicking women who were able to take care of themselves.  I was absolutely in love with the girl power group.  For my 8th or 9th birthday (I don’t remember which one) I had a Spice Girl themed party, and even went so far as to have my hair done like baby at my hair dressers.

I loved everything about them, I loved their dancing, their clothes, their attitudes and of course their outrageous “names”.  They were a group of girls for girls, their message of Girl Power appealed to a world of eager young female consumers.  I will also admit that I spent money on the Spice Girls.  I bought their CD’s, their merchandise, I still remember one Easter I opened up a present and found a Baby Spice doll!  (That was a great Easter!)  I can also remember wanting to buy platform shoes, and eventually convinced my mother to purchase a shiny pair of silver ones.  If you can recall (or just look at the picture of them I added) the Spice Girls were always sporting the highest and most trendy of platform footwear.

I definitely agree with the positive message of Girl-Power, and believe that it is an incredibly important part of any young girls life.  However, I do not agree with using this idea as a marketing ploy.  I applaud the brains behind that idea, yet I don’t think that the tools to improve a young girls sense of self should need to be purchased.



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Integrating Technology : Can be Difficult

March 2, 2009 at 4:24 pm (Rethinking Technology in Schools) (, , )

Integrating technology into the classroom is not as simple as some might believe. It is not merely using various technologies within the school, it requires an understanding if how this technology can be used to meat curricular goals. It is required that teachers use technology to further their students understanding of their subject. Even for the most technologically literate teacher, integrating technology into the classroom can be a challenge.

Schools with higher than average drop-out rates, those with low parental involvement and schools with a large number of student disciplinary problems may find it difficult to integrate technology effectively. Instead of being able to focus on using technology to further their student’s education, the teachers are instead focused on the schools difficulties with their students, not even having time to think about interesting methods of teaching. Technology also creates difficulties with schools, as there are more budget constraints involved as well as security and access challenges. For a school to even consider making technology part of their teaching practice, the budget must be taken into account.

Technology is expensive; computers, digital cameras and camcorders, video equipment, etc. is all extremely expensive. This equipment can also be extremely delicate. Therefore, purchasing such things cannot be taken lightly, and isn’t. Then, once the technology is purchased, there is the difficulty of monitoring who has access to those things. What happens if something gets broken or stolen? What type of websites should not be accessed by students while they are at school? All of this must be taken into account.

For grades 10, 11 and 12 I attended a private boarding school as a day student. At this school there was a mandatory laptop program. Each student was required to have a dell laptop and to bring it to each class unless otherwise told. For my three years at that school technology was a daily part of my life. All of my projects, papers, etc. where done on my computer. My classes in English, history, world issues and some science courses required the use of my computer. I was fortunate enough to have teachers who were well versed in the world of technology, and therefore had the opportunity to learn a great deal about it. We were required to have dell laptops because there were two men who worked at our school who were our IT guys, and because we all had the same laptop it was easier for them to fix problems. When we needed a new part, they were able to quickly order it. They only had to be well versed in the ways of the Dell laptop, as opposed to Macs, Toshiba, etc. These men were also in charge of Cybercop, the bane of every student’s existence. This software allowed them to block things such as MSN, Facebook, Miniclip, etc. while we were using the schools network. If a site was becoming to popular, one day you would type in the sites URL and sure enough, the cursed words “this website has been blocked by Cybercop” would appear.

I was extremely lucky to have had my education so well integrated into technology, however, many of my friends who went to public schools were not so fortunate. While they had computers at home, the teachers could not assume that they all did. Therefore their projects and papers could be done by technology, but they could also always be done in more traditional methods. There was no reason for teachers to be versed in the ways of technology, they merely had projects and papers for the students to do, if the student wished to incorporate technology then it was up to them.

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Technology : Always Changing

February 10, 2009 at 9:11 pm (Rethinking Technology in Schools) (, , )

Technology has been shaping our world for years. From the age when fire was discovered, when we used stones to build, to when we began using metals and electricity and engines. Every year we create new creations, and lately, new models of already invented things. The phone, computer, television, etc. have all gone through remodeling, and it seems as though new technologies are becoming obsolete as soon as you can shell out the money to purchase it.

With such an expanding market and developing technologies what hope can we have for ourselves, as teachers, keeping up with the it, much less our students. However, we are now approaching the new generation of teachers being in the schools. While teachers now have many opportunities to learn about using technology, the teachers who will be employed in schools in the next few years will have grown up with the use of computers, mp3 players, DVD players, computer applications, as well as a profound knowledge of the internet.

While many students have grown up with access to computers and many other technologies, there are numerous students who do not have the means to access such things. Therefore it is extremely important that students have access to computers at schools, and that they are taught how to properly use the computer’s resources.

“Teaching with and about technology is much more complex than the educational climate suggests. Meaningful uses of technology require an integrated knowledge of content, pedagogy and technology and how they work together to comprise learning environments”. It is incredibly important that teachers are given the necessary knowledge and tools and then pass them on to their students. We must be educated to then completely and adequately educate our students.

I only really began using computers at the very end of elementary school (grade 4 & 5) with an introduction to typing in grade 3. However, my knowledge and use of computers was limited to writing stories and book reports on Microsoft word. Grades 6 – 8 (my middle school) were filled with further use of Microsoft word and the Internet. I had essays and projects that needed to be done, but each one only really required Word and the Internet. This continued on throughout High School. Although in grades 10 through 12 I had a mandatory laptop, there was still much to be discovered. I only wish that I had the opportunity to use computers more in school.
There are so many interesting websites and resources now that students have access to; they only need to be shown how. The discovery channel and other such learning websites are at the fingertips. There are applications and games that encourage learning, while are fun and entertaining for the less interested student. More and more schools are incorporating computers into the students daily activities. Instead of just textbooks, students have the opportunity to use both the textbook and the computer. Slowly, but surely an increasing number of students have completely and constant access to these computers. Along with computers in schools come cameras, video cameras, DVD’s, smart boards, etc. While not all schools have access to all of these things, many do. Increasing students’ ability to be creative and technologically proficient.

Therefore, with an increasing number of students who are computer literate it is important that their teachers are too versed in the ways of technology. Without a vast knowledge of all technological practices and the ability to incorporate them into the classroom, how can we hope to educate the 21st century student?

Computers can be incredibly confusing

Computers can be incredibly confusing

A student learning from a computer

A student learning from a computer

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Technology & Media

February 4, 2009 at 9:14 pm (Media Literacy) (, , )

First of all, I know I am not an expert in American politics, but I know enough about the world around me to have a perspective on the subject. I found chapter 6 to be extremely interesting and insightful. It is a really interesting reflection on the media’s role in the United States and how greatly the media affects all of us.

The most interesting part of the chapter was the first paragraph of page 82. This paragraph the media’s role in the lack of public debate about the strike on Iraq in 2003. I know I’m not American, but as a Canadian whatever the USA decides to do, well it impacts my life a lot. When the United States decided to invade Iraq, based on “bogus claims made about Iraq’s connection to al-Qaida” it affected me greatly. The media played such a crucial role. The war in Afghanistan and Iraq were depicted as “an Arnold Schwarzenegger action film”. The US soldiers were seen as kind and giving while the Muslims were just some crazed terrorists. It is an interesting take on examining the war in Iraq, and (at least in my opinion) America’s ultimate failure.

I found the 7th chapter to be slightly confusing, as I didn’t realize until about half way through that Noam Chomsky was talking about George Bush Sr. and not George Bush Jr. I then had to go back to beginning and read it again. I mean, I was a little confused throughout the beginning of it, and the change of person clarified it. Basically this chapter demonstrates how screwed up the world we live in is, and how America plays such a huge role.

Saddam Hussein was portrayed by the media, the intellectual community, and generally the whole of America as “a new Hitler poised to take over the world”. He was the enemy and the USA (Bush Sr.) was the hero, there to save the world, and more specifically, American citizens.

I find it interesting that although I was not old enough to be aware of the President Bush Sr’s actions, I have lived and been able to see first hand Bush Jr’s decisions and their effects. I was also able to learn about and Saddam Hussein and all of his terrible acts, as well as his execution.

Sometimes I forget that there is a war going on, that men and women are dying. That soldiers and citizens alike are being killed because of guns, bombs, tanks, cars, weapons in general. It is easy to disassociate myself with the war because it is happening so many thousands of miles away. I know that I am not an expert on politics or warfare, but I believe that war is wrong. I really don’t think that war has ever solved anything. While usually a “solution” is found by the end, what does it really solve? Does it ever fix the animosity between groups of people. Does it give those who have killed, and the family and friends of those who died a sort of peace and understanding? I couldn’t imagine how it ever could. I have never been affected by the war first hand, I had family members killed in WWI and WWII, but they were people I never knew. I will never condone war, nor will I truly ever understand it. However, I will never judge those who decide to fight for their country, I will accept it, but definitely never understand it.

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