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. (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 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.