Monday, June 1, 2015

woMEN

Women have struggled throughout history to be seen as equals. Even after gaining suffrage in the 1920s and after March 22, 1972, when the Senate passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution-which proposed banning discrimination based on sex(The New York Times), there is still so much discrimination against women. An obvious sign is the unequal pay gap between women and men (which I've blogged about here), as women only make 77 cents to every dollar a man makes at the same job. This tells us that society literally values men more than women. Sadly, this isn't surprising to me. 

As young girls, women are taught by society that they're different and that ultimately it's okay that they deserve 33 cents less than men. This stems from the types of toys advertised to them and even the school supplies marketed to them in stores.


 To the right is a picture of the same exact pens, made by the same exact company. But what's different? The right pair of pens are "for Her." Notice how the pens are packaged and the actual pens themselves are purple and pink - with a fancy little cheetah print design. Why is it necessary to have a different design of pen for women? Why does the company believe these pens would actually sell? 


It's because society has taught women that the pink/purple girly combo should be aesthetically pleasing to them. Women should love pink and cheetah. Notice how there is nothing on the right package of pens about actually writing or using the pen - while on the left, clearly more masculine pens, has a huge,"Smooth Writing" stamped on the side. Women are not expected to write or have thoughts to add to society- they should just be pretty to look at (exactly like those pens). As little as these pens may seem, I think they play a huge role in society in assigning gender roles. Women are not just the only victim, but men are hurt from this too. What happens if a little boy likes the pens on the right, but sees the "for Her"? How do you think he feels? 

These types of restrictions on society is what leads to the discrimination and stereotypes revolving around what it means to be a girl and a boy.

Another example, is this globe. I think this globe is a great metaphor for how the world is literally different for girls. The pink hues of each country and the smiling little girl hugging the globe to the side of the package makes me, ultimately, sad - how can women expect to be paid the same as men, when their taught that their world, and their role in it, is entirely different. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Good Morning, Baltimore!

Since August 9th of last year, the day Michael Brown was shot by a police officer in Ferguson - there has been national tension on the relationship of law officials and African Americans. Riots, civil unrest, and many protests broke out, not only in the streets of Ferguson, but all over the world. #Blacklivesmatter is still trending on Twitter today. Yet, sadly, history repeats itself. Just soon after Ferguson, protests have broken out in Baltimore over an eerily similar situation. Freddy Gray sustained injuries from an arrest by a police officer - and then shortly died soon after. Just like Ferguson, protests have broken out and spread to every corner of the nation. ((I've blogged about these protests, and similar protest symbols before (click here and here)). 


While looking online, I noticed a strange parallel to one of my favorite childhood musical movies, Hairspray. On the right is an image taken from a scene in the movie and on the left is an image of the real-life protests in the streets of Baltimore today. Both protests are set in Baltimore and both are standing up for equality. Similarly, both marches are made up of, mainly, young African Americans and a few other white people. I think it's important that both protests are set in Baltimore because according to the Census, 63% of Baltimore city is African American. It's interesting that in a city that is predominately African American, there is still so much inequality in both scenes. The only thing that is different between there two images is the time period. These two scenes are 53 years apart.

 Have we made any progress? 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Balls Are More Important

Football: a sport so uniquely American - associated with masculinity, toughness, and aggression. Every year, millions flock to their television to watch the magnum opus of the National Football League: The Super Bowl tournament - which determines the overall best team in the nation (and I guess, overall the world). This past year, there was a scandal involving the air pressure in the footballs used. Many thought the Patriots deflated the balls on purpose, making them easier to catch. This past week, Tom Brady, the quarterback for the Patriots, was found guilty and suspended 4 games

The investigated report said, "it is more probable than not" that Brady was "at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities" of locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski" (CNN). 

This made me unhappy. Not because I am a die hard Patriots fan, nor do I even care for football in general, but because Tom Brady was suspended for more games than another football player, Ray Rice. 

This fall, a video was released of Ray Rice beating his fiance and then dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator. And what did the NFL do? They suspended him for a mere 2 games and made him attend a mandatory domestic violence workshop, because sure... that'll really teach him a lesson.

 According to the results of a recent Adweek/ Harris Poll, "almost two thirds of U.S. adults say they currently watch NFL football (64%), including almost three quarters of men (73%) and over half of women (55%)"(TVbythenumbers). Football has an obvious pull in American society, with the fact that more than half of the population is said to tune into the big games. So what does this difference of punishment teach Americans? It teaches us that domestic violence is okay, and that it can be fixed with a  little slap on the wrist, but how dare Tom Brady be "generally aware" of the fact the air pressure wasn't up to standard.

I guess balls really are more important. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Fast and Easy

As with every era of history, American culture has shifted. Americans now lean towards  a more “push-button mentality,” meaning that people are always searching for quicker, more efficient, and easier ways to do things. An example of this is the love for smartphones. With each new update of smartphones, advertisements shout, "do things simpler and easier," "do things faster", "do them better."


http://www.tubechop.com/watch/5929465

Above is an example from the New IPhone6 Ad. Notice how in that short segment they use words like, "fast, easy, secure" and "You simply pay by placing your finger on the TouchID." These are the types of advancements that play into this American push-button mentality.The overall pace of existence has just been accelerated. It is no longer part of American culture to sit around on a Sunday morning, and read the newspaper for two hours. People are looking for quick sound bites, faster ways to find what they want to know, and as much information as efficiently possible. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Survival of News


American newspapers have lost 42% of their market value (Pew Research Center). Value is measured by the revenue of the paper, which heavily relies on readership. There has been a steep decline in readership, and this affects the job market in the printing industry because in order to gain back economic balance, newsrooms are forced to become frugal and cut newsroom jobs.  According to the American Society of News Editors annual newsroom census, there was “a net loss of another 1,300 full-time professionals last year” (Edmonds). With the shorthand of staff,  newspapers are being forced to consolidate, this means they have to print less words per page and combine with other papers to stay alive. For example, as of October 31st, The Chicago Tribune bought the Sun-Times, “The agreement… brings six daily and 32 weekly suburban newspapers into the Tribune fold, bolstering circulation and revenue while significantly expanding its publishing footprint across the Chicago market, from Waukegan to northwest Indiana” (Channick).

This deal was made to balance the revenue to cost ratio. Buying the Sun-Times would increase circulation of the paper. But consequently, doing this leads to a much less local touch. The paper has to be printed more generally to be able to relate to the wider publishing footprint, making the paper blander and less effective. From a business perspective, advertisers are less likely to print in the paper because it is too much of a risk. Without the money from advertisers and the loyalty of readership, print newspaper is at a loss to the new future of the news.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

News Just For You

Not only did the 1980s give us Full House, New Kids On The Block, and Dirty Dancing but it also gave us the start of the 24 hour news broadcast. Instead of filling up only a 30 minute time slot, reporters are now tasked to fill up 48 of those 30 minute time slots in a day. How much news is there really to report? 

Well really, not much. In a more than competitive race for viewership, overblown stories and biases have engulfed the news. This has created and evident polarization between the different network news stations available on television.

 For example, Fox news has been widely noted as a highly conservative news network, so who do you think their viewers are?

Mainly, white older males.According to a study done through The Wire, " Fox News's viewership is aging out of that key demographic, even as the overall median age of cable news viewers remains high: the median ages for the three cable networks in May were 62.5 (MSNBC), 62.8 (CNN), and 68.8 (Fox News)." 

With the unlimited access to different choices of news, viewers are able to hear the news they want to hear. Is it right for news to appeal to certain audiences? 

All networks make choices on what stories to highlight, which experts to bring in, even the order of the stories that our shown. But, personally, I feel like this leads the general public into opposite ends. With one side not understanding the other and visa-versa. I think generally this is making the public more ignorant to the thoughts of others, by the way they hear the news through different channels. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Inter-news

In this day and age, in a device that can fit in the back of your pocket, we are able to have access to the weather, the news, our friends, our family, and endless hours of entertainment. The internet. A game changer in more ways than one (to say the least). The internet coincides perfectly with the push-button mentality of American society. "Push-button mentality" meaning finding easier and quicker ways to do things. But with this constant accessibility to this un-quantifiable amount of information, comes obvious draw backs. One industry that has been majorly compromised due to the internet-boom of the last 2 decades is the print news.

Almost all statistics show an evident decline in print newspapers sales. According to McChesney, American newspapers have lost 42% of their market value in the past 3 years. Only 23% of households are delivered a newspaper at the foot of their doors in the morning. So how are people getting their news?

Obviously on the internet, but where?



As of right now, Facebook leads the way as 64% of US adults use the site, while 34% get their news on this site (PewResearchCenter) and this phenomenon is only growing. With the ability of sharing anything with a push of a button internet users almost become reporters, as they weigh in their thoughts and opinions on the breaking news story. This can be dangerous is many ways. With so an overdrive of information, it's becoming harder to find credible news online when almost anyone can write, share, and send a story out to the world. Falsities and rumors tend to go viral, hurting the image of many. Without a whole fact-checking team working behind a print newspaper, information is just released.The easy "fast-food" way of getting the information is through a social media sharing site (i.e. Facebook), not waiting for a print newspaper.

It looks as though this trend of online quick easy news is set for exponential growth, but what this nation needs to adapt to this is a fact-filter to see what is credible/reliable or what's just here to cause a stir.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Time for Change


If you reach into your pocket, your purse, your wallet, chances are you'll probably find the face of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or maybe even (if you're Beyonce) Benjamin Franklin. Money is arguably one of the most important things in American society. So what does it mean when something this important only features white males? What does this show us about our history? If I were to read American history based off of the 7 different dollars shown to the right, I would think that the only important members of American history, worth any value, would be old white guys.

Luckily, this soon might not be the case. A new national campaign has emerged in the hopes of replacing Andrew Jackson (present on the $20 bill) with a fresh new female face. "Women on 20s" has hit the internet and gone viral. According to nbcnews.com, Candidates for the replacement include Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Patsy Mink, and Sojourner Truth. Founded by Barbara Ortiz, the movement is hoping for change by 2020 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote.

I think this is so important, because it finally gives women the recognition they deserve for their roles in helping shape America. Drawing from my own experiences, the only American women that were really talked about in middle school were Sacajawea and Betsy Ross. Although both women are important, Sacajawea is only credited to helping two (white) men explore and Betsy Ross for sewing the American flag. Two actions that are important, but not powerful or inspirational. I think adding a women into the lineage of American currency is symbolic, it shows that women are literally of value in society. It will inspire the teachings of more than just two important women. Hopefully, as the times change, more and more small everyday things will adjust until gender equality becomes a true social norm. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Middle of Nowhere

Today I instagramed this picture to #anamericanstudies with the caption "And everything else is 'in the middle of nowhere' #neverending." In my caption I was quoting a phrase we discussed in American Studies class on Friday as we were analyzing the painting "Kalounna at Frogtown," which portrays a young boy standing in  a field with a house, a truck, and tons of sky framing his body. 

After a fellow student said something along the lines of "it looks like he is in the middle of nowhere." We talked about how, in America (and especially in the North Shore), if you're not in or around a city, you're nowhere. For example, on Road Trips, people tend to drive from city to city, never paying attention to the "nothing-ness" or "nobodies" between them. "Nobodies" like young Kalounna, the young seasonal immigrant worker in the painting. Which I think also speaks to The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, as Lola and Oscar also felt looked past by society at times. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Say Yellow to the New Emojis

You've either sent them, received them, or more likely than not, done both. Emojis (emoticon faces), originally started in Japan, are a widely popular feature on the iPhone; letting users add a little expression to their text bubbles. And now (to many users excitement), in the new IOS 8.3 iPhone update 300 new racially (and LGBTQ) diverse emojis will be added to the emoji world.
Shown above is a little taste of what the new emoji future holds. But something here isn't right. The emojis on the far left (who I assume to be the Asian representation) look so yellow, they're almost un-human. I've blogged about Asian representation (or lack of representation) in media before (click here), but I still find this to be unsettling.

When I first saw the sneak peak of the new emojis, I immediately thought of a parallel to the "Yellow Peril" during WWII, where the United States government used propaganda to discredit the Japanese enemy, which consequently affected the fate of many Asian-Americans (i.e. interment camps). The picture on the right shows a round, asian, yellow face being punched by "American Labor." The poster also portrays Asians with wide square teeth, while the new emojis do not. The only difference between the new emojis are the hues if skin color. So although, I know the new emojis are not intending to be anti-asian propaganda, I still do think the new rounded, yellow faces are eerily similar to the obviously racist ones from posters in the past. 
According to an opinion piece written by Caitlin Dewey for The Washington Post, "The yellow emoji has been a standard hue for icons for years and represents a generic (nonhuman) default....Even tracing back to the 1960's, starting with the big yellow smiley face." Personally, I don't buy it. Why release a "generic" face along with a new racially diverse update? To me, the new emojis mean more.

What do you think? Are these emojis racist? If so, how can we fix them?  


Saturday, February 28, 2015

50 Shades of Rape

February 13th, 2015 marks the big screen debut of 50 Shades of Grey. Assuming you haven't heard about the buzz of this movie, it's appropriately rated R for mature audiences due to the many sexual (and almost on the verge of abusive) scenes. The plot of this movie is almost too silly to be believable, yet some were still inspired in a horrific way.

Mohammad Hossain, a student at the University of Illinois Chicago, was accussed and held for $500,000 on sexual assault charges. His defense? He was just trying to act out some scenes from 50 Shades of Grey. 

In my American Studies class, we've discussed the effects of media on society. I think 50 Shades of Grey has had a negative effect, because it glorifies and popularizes assault.  According to Dawn Hawkins (National Center on Sexual Exploitation), "It makes people think that this is kind of a healthy intimacy that they should try to engage in in order to spice up their relationship, but really it's just violence." History has always glorified violence through stories of war heros and so forth, but Hollywood has taken things a step too far by making sexual assault into a social norm. Especially seeing that rape is already a massive problem that plagues our society today. 1 out of every 6 American adult women has been a victim of an attempted or a completed rape (Cleveland Rape Crisis).

Some critics believe that 50 Shades of Grey shouldn't have been allowed to be released, which would be an obvious abridgment of the 1st Amendment. Sort of like we talked about in class with our Perilous Paper, would that be fair? What type of restrictions should have been put on the movie? If any? What do you think? 

Monday, February 23, 2015

All the 'Glory'

When the Oscar nominations were released back in January, I wrote a blog post about who seemed to be really represented at the Oscars. To reiterate, based on the ethnicity of people nominated, this year's Oscars were set to be the "whitest" Oscars since 1998.

Although, Selma ( a movie based on the true events of the historic march, led by Martin Luther King Jr., from Selma to Montgomery in protest of The Voting Rights Act of 1965) didn't win Best Picture, nor did any of the actors even receive any nominations, John Legend and Common took home the Oscar for Best Original Song for "Glory."

As known, the Oscars were publicly criticized for almost entirely ignoring the non-white actors and filmmakers this year, so in turn they payed a wonderful homage to the lone Oscar win for Selma and arguably African-American representation in entertainment.

"Glory" was actually performed right before being dubbed the award. The performance made such an impact, it moved many stars to tears and provoked a standing ovation from the audience. I think the set of the performance was so important because it really helped convey the songs true powerful message. 



The first picture is an actual picture of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the site of 'Bloody Sunday' on which armed officers attacked peaceful protestors marching from Selma to Montgomery (Alabama). The second is a picture of the set used during the performance of "Glory." I think the set designers made a powerful choice to incorporate such a historic and heavy bridge during the song, because it reminded us of the racial struggle and police brutality we saw back then and continue to see today. As John Legend said in his acceptance speech, "The struggle for justice is now." This performance was an eerie contrast to the song, "Everything is Awesome" which was also performed that night on the same stage.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Dad Ads

Usually Super Bowl ads are half-naked women or slap-sick comedy featuring celebrities. But this year, I noticed a new trend in the Super Bowl advertising market. This year advertisers seemed to pull on heart strings, instead of trying to strike funny bones. Ads spanned from bringing awareness to cyber bullying (Coca-Cola #MakeItHappy) to an NFL sponsored NOMORE.org ad, an organization that helps end domestic violence and sexual assault. (The NFL faced several domestic abuse scandals this season and donated 30 seconds of commercial time for this ad). But the most common theme I noticed was the idea of fatherhood and commercials featuring children. 

An ad that showed the real softer side of Dad's was the Dove Men+Care #RealStrength commercial.

 
 "What makes a man stronger," the video asks. "Showing that he cares." 

There was an immediate overwhelming response to this ad on social media. It reminded people of how much they love, either being fathers, or having one. I think this commercial was so effective because of the demographic of Super Bowl viewers. According to a study by sportsbuisnessdaily.com:

54% of Super Bowl viewers are male
25% of viewers are between that ages 35-49 
80% are Caucasian 
30% have an HH Income of $100K 

Obviously the target market here was the upper-middle class white father. I think Dove really hit the nail on the head with this sweet commercial. They targeted their viewing audience well and I think the use of children made this commercial relatable to a wide range of viewers. I think this type of commercial is more effective than a supermodel walking around naked with a hamburger she probably would never be allowed to eat in real life. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

An American Icon


While I was at the Blackhawk's game, I took this picture of the star player, and captain of the team, Jonathan Toews. Then I uploaded this picture and tagged #anamericanstudies for a few different reasons. Firstly, the American theme of competition. Secondly, for the role Sports stars play in our society. And then thirdly, for the sheer patriotic tones that engulf the entire picture, which I think really emphasizes the American fascination over sports. 

America is driven upon being better to survive. We have are a capitalist system and it's part of our American nature to have a winner and a loser. That's why I think sports and sporting events fit so naturally into the lives of many everyday people. We love to watch teams succeed, and on the flip-side, criticize those who don't. We treat sports stars like heros, and we rewarded them heavily. Jonathan Towes has an annual salary of $6.5 Million dollars. Compare that to Barack Obama's annual salary, the President of The United States, which is in total $569,000 (granite, excluding all of the benefits and perks that come with being head hancho of America), but still the gap is substantial and it's interesting to recognize what we value (literally) in American society. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Behind the Oscars: Who Is Represented?

Selma, a movie featuring the story of Martin Luther King Jr's march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, was released this past weekend on January 9th. Already the movie has had such positive critic feedback. Rottentomatoes.com (an extremely popular movie review website) gave the movie a 99% out of 100%. The "critics consensus" calls the movie "a gripping performance" and admires the way it "draws inspiration and dramatic power." 
About 37 million people tune into the Oscars every year
Some people see the latest Oscar nominations and the Academy as a reflection of Hollywood hiring patterns, but others say that it's just a group mission to honor cinematic achievement, not promote diversity. But I think the Academy should represent more of the movie-goer population. 
Who do you think should be represented in the Academy? Which demographic should be prominent? 


So then why was it snubbed at the Oscars this year? 

Only nominated 1 time for "Best Picture" (compare this to the 4 nominations it got at the Golden Globes), the leading actor, David Oyelowo, was left out of the "Best Actor" category. Coincidentally, no actors or actresses were nominated. This years Oscars are set up to be the whitest Oscars since 1998 (which is almost two decades ago).According to the Huffington Post since 1998, "at least one non-white person has been nominated each year in the four acting categories." 

This could be due to the fact this year's Academy is mainly comprised of an "overwhelmingly white" group of males. A study conducted by the Los Angeles Times found that the Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% of them are males. African American representation only makes up about 2% of the Academy (and despite the growing population of Latinos in American, Latinos make up less than 2%). The median age of the voters are 62, and people younger than 50 make up 14% of the vote. 


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Missing Part of the Globe

A Huffington Post Article claims that the 2015 Golden Globes were, "big wins for diversity and standing out." This is only partially true.

Diversity wins include: Women's Rights, which is when Amy Adams won for best actress in a motion picture for her role in Big Eyes, which is the story of Margaret Keane standing up for herself, when he husband took credit for her paintings. Another win was for Latino representation in media, when Gina Rodriguez took home the Golden Globe for best actress in a TV comedy with her role in Jane the Virgin.  The African American civil rights movement had a moment in the sun when Common and John Legend won for Best Original Song, Glory, which is from the new movie Selma. But some of the night's biggest wins came from LGBT stories, including the night's overall big winner Transparent, which I talked about in my last post.

But what's missing?

Asians remain the major group not represented at the Golden Globes. The only Asian representation was Margaret Cho's sort-of funny, but mostly racist impression of North Korean leader Kim Jung Un. The joke definitely didn't belong at a an award show where Asians are virtually non-existent. Historically, Asians have been absent from being nominated, presenting, or even as guests at the Golden Globes. The running stereotypical Korean gag was for a mainly white audience. Cho was only invited to not be herself and to feed into racist Asian stereotypes for the laugh of a white audience. Asians are mainly absent from the Globes not for a lack of talent, but for a lack of representation as a whole in the American TV society. Asians are mainly portrayed as TV Tolken minorities, playing alongside a white male/female main character. Asians typically play doctors, tech support, computer nerds, or they're just insanely smart. I think directors cast Asians in certain roles because they know the audience will fell comfortable with the stereotypical role.


Above you see Nelly Yuki, a character in the popular TV show Gossip Girl, she is one of three minorities seen throughout the entire 6 season show. Her character is smart, but also is refered to as one of "Blair's Minions" who runs around doing all of the biding for the more popular (all white) girls. She is quoted in Season 2, Episode 4, "I need to go ivy, or my parents will kill me." When she says Ivy, she is referring to an Ivy league school. 

In the future, I would like to see more Asians represented in realisitic and main character roles. I think this would help transform the stereotypical image and break boundaries to really achieve a "big win for diversity."

TV TRANSformation

This year  a TV series about a transgender woman, played by Jeffery Tambor, made history Sumday night.Transparent took home Golden Globes, including the award for the Best TV Series, Musical or Comedy. Transparent is the first online series to win in a Best Series category (upsetting the Netflix front-runner Orange Is the New Black, which also features a main character struggling with her sexual identity and  has a side transgender character). But what gave Transparent the edge in the competition was the rarity of making a transgender main character.

Jeffery Tambor told AFP, "This [show] is huge, it's a game changer." In many more ways than one, Transparent is a game changer. With its recent success at the Golden Globes, it has managed to put Amazon Instant Video on the map. Amazon hoped that the launch of the new original show would help the company compete with big names like Netflix and Hulu. I think the edginess and raw humor will push competitors to strive for more progressive TV. With the success of Transparent, obviously the public is ready for a TV transformation and I think with Amazon willing to give shows like Transparent a place, the TV business will change for the better.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What The Learning Channel is Teaching

TLC is famous for their various controversial reality shows. Following the line of Sister Wives, featuring an open polygamy marriage, they announced a new show which has already sparked major protests. My Husband is Not Gay is set to air January 11th. The show focuses on men with same-sex attraction who are married to women. TLC released brief profiles of the men featured. One includes a man named Jeff who met his wife in Sunday school.


A Change.org petition states that the show is promoting "the false and dangerous idea that gay people can and should choose to be straight in order to be part of their faith communities." This petition has nearly 67,000 signatures.

This isn't the fist time protesters have petitioned to cancel a TLC show due to conflicting values of the LGBTQ community. Back in October 2013 there was a petition urging TLC to cancel "19 Kids and  Counting," (which features a huge Conservative and religious family), in response to the family's comments against LGBTQ rights. The petition has currently more than 180,000 signatures, yet TLC refuses to pull the show and continues to stand firm with releasing My Husband is Not Gay.

I think it's interesting how TLC may as well be sending subliminal anti-gay messages to their viewers by choosing what to air on their network. They're showing their audiences that your sexual orientation is a choice, and it's worth being straight to have a proper family in the faith community. By not cancelling, or even addressing, the Duggar family anti-gay slurs, TLC is supporting their actions and statements. I think all TV networks in someway purposefully portray certain values to their audiences, but I think TLC has gone insensitively too far.