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 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

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.