About BMC 277: Media and Diversity

This course asks students to critically examine the role of the media in facilitating and challenging the social constructions of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation in U.S. culture.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Homosexual Hatred on the Internet: Wisconsin Marriage Defenders Blog

By: Amanda Shalkhauser
The birth of the Internet has changed the way people communicate and form communities (Cooper 2010). It has provided ways for people and groups to communicate in a wider sphere than just their surrounding neighborhoods; now individuals can collaborate across the globe. Because of this wide-reaching ability, the Internet is able to bring people together, enlighten and educate them. It also provides anonymity to users that can be liberating and provide security, but can also promote more aggressive behavior than people would normally assert in social situations.

This anonymity can easily “turn aggression into cyber-violence,” and the internet into a place that fuels hate and criticism of beliefs (Cooper 274). Internet users are more likely to “express anger and hatred they’d censor in a more public…accountable setting,” because they do not fear the criticism or disapproval that they would encounter in public (Cooper 274). The Internet’s empowering force has given life to many hate groups that flourish on the freedom found online. These include any group that thrives on “not merely disliking others but supporting (through words or actions) attempts to cause them harm” (Cooper 273). Politically, “hate defines communities exclusively by race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation” (Cooper 273). This isolates groups such as Jews, African Americans, gays and lesbians, and continues the cycle of prejudice and discrimination against these groups.

The main focus of this blog post is on the hatred of gays and lesbians as shown on the Internet. The past few decades have seen a rise in the number of GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender) individuals coming out, expressing their sexuality and being accepted for it. With this growth in homosexuality and its acceptance, there has also been a rise in hate groups against homosexuals. These hate groups discriminate against gays and lesbians online, compare them to animals, remove their distinguishing features and categorize them into a groups of immoral, repulsive people with “dirty” sexual desires. Hate groups often use the Bible to promote this type of intolerance. Included in the category of homosexual hate groups are “Godhatesfags.com,” the “Family Research Council,” “Watchmen on the Wall,” and “The American Guardian,” just to name a few.

Scholars have already written about these and other anti-gay websites in texts about media influence, such as Cooper's "Cyber-Hate and the Disinhibiting Effects of Anti-gay speech on the Internet" chapter in a gender, race, and media textbook (Cooper 272). Anti-gay websites such as "Godhatesfags.com" and "Watchmen on the Wall" are relatively wide-reaching in their membership, and tend to be well known. What are less well known are the small websites and blogs, run by individuals or small groups, that preach the same message. Small-group websites and blogs can still encourage the same ideas, actions, and hate as more prominent websites, but on a smaller scale. This being said, blogs like the one in focus are worth analyzing in the same fashion as more prominent web pages.



My focus is on a blog run by a Wisconsin man, Teno Groppi. He authors a blog called “Wisconsin Marriage Defenders,” on which he posts anti-gay articles followed by his own personal comments. His blog came up in a Google search of “anti-gay websites;” a woman posted that she had experienced this man walking around her town passing out anti-gay literature, in which he gave the link for his blog. A quick background search on Teno Groppi showed that he is a “King James Bible-believing Christian” who sticks heavily to the teachings of the Bible and seems to be thoroughly opposed to homosexuality.

His blog also links to the Pilgrims Covenant Church and a site titled “Homosexual Truths.” The Pilgrims Covenant Church website has a page devoted specifically to homosexuality, and pages and pages beyond that criticizing sodomites and claiming that homosexuals are Fascists trying to promote Fascism and crush all resistance to homosexuality in the United States. Ironically, the site also says that it is “not the intention of Pilgrims Covenant Church to provoke mindless hatred or violence against the sodomites. We urge you to pray for the sodomites…but do not underestimate the ferociousness of their commitment to crush all resistance to their cherished goals and do not neglect your duty to resist such an evil force” (“Pilgrims Covenant Church,” 2005); the group claims not to be hateful, but basically still is. The “Homosexual Truths” site is also discriminatory and includes many pages detailing the “truth” about homosexuality, including one post listing “Convincing Reasons why Homosexuals are Hellbound” (“Life and liberty,” 2004). Both of these pages are similar to one mentioned in Cynthia Cooper’s article in “Race/Gender/Media: Considering Diversity across Audiences, Content, and Producers.” She writes about the American Guardian website, which lists statistics claiming the bestiality and crudeness of homosexuals. These statistics include “68% of all mass murders are gay men; 92% of all homosexuals ingest feces at one time or another; and child sexual molestation is a defining characteristic of the homosexual lifestyle” (Cooper 275).

The “Wisconsin Marriage Defenders” blog includes many of the characteristics of anti-gay hate websites. On each article that Teno Groppi posts, he leaves his own comment. While most of the articles he posts are biased, untruthful and hateful, Groppi’s comments are even worse. He, like many others on anti-gay websites, focuses “on the sexual behaviors of gay men almost to the exclusion of all other aspects of gay life” (Cooper 274-275). A February post links Homosexuality and Bestiality, April and October posts both list the dangers of Homosexuality as related to AIDS and smoking, respectively, and a September post claims that child molesters are most often queer (Groopi 2004). “Wisconsin Marriage Defenders” “paint[s] a picture of gay life as one-dimensional, revolving around and insatiable need for “bizarre” sex” (Cooper 276). Groppi’s February 12, 2008 post by another “Wisconsin Marriage Defenders” group member goes on and on about how “disgusting” the homosexual “sodomites” are (Bible reference), how their actions are not “normal” and their relationships are not “loving” (Groppi). The whole post is about the “bizarre” and “unnatural” sexual actions that Groppi and his guest author seem to attribute to all homosexual males; the post is, in a sense, confining gay men to a singular negative trait and dehumanizing them without any facts to back up their claims.

Groppi, claims to be a devout religious man, and uses the Bible as a staple throughout his blog post as a way to promote his hatred of gays. He employs Bible passages or quotes like “that's the way God designed it, that's the way nature works” (referring to heterosexual marriage) in order to prove points (Groppi). Groppi justifies his (and his articles’) hatred of gays through teachings found in the Bible, specifically the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Groppi has a tendency to post articles and comments that refer negatively to homosexuals, calling them “sodomites” like the sinning homosexuals whose city God destroys in Genesis of the Bible. (In fact, there is not one time that Groppi posts something in which the term “gay” or “homosexual” is used. Every reference made to homosexuals refers to them as “perverts,” “queers,” “lesbos,” or “sodomites,” and Groppi admits this fact (Groppi).)

Groppi continues to insult and batter gays on his blog, even bringing political issues into the mix. In a January 2007 post, Groppi accuses all pro-gay city leaders in Madison, WI of being treasonous liars whose only goal is to revoke the state’s new gay marriage ban. The post’s title, “Pro-Queer Politicians Lie on Oaths,” gives the reader a completely overgeneralized and false idea of the characteristics of pro-gay marriage politicians, followed by a handful of unkind and untrue comments about the politicians. A good majority of the topics posted on “Wisconsin Marriage Defenders” are concerned similarly with the 2006 ban of same-sex marriage in Wisconsin. From his comments, it is clear that Groppi does not want the 2006 amendment to be overturned. He feels that by allowing same-sex marriage, what would prevent lawmakers from legalizing unions between humans and animals, bestiality, and rape? Law-making is a bit more complicated than that, but again, Groppi resorts to extreme overgeneralizations and assumptions.



In support of his anti-gay beliefs, Groppi and his fellow “Wisconsin Marriage Defenders” also hold rallies and pass out flyers detailing the “truth about homosexuality” while teaching a “strong gospel message” (Groppi). Photos and details about these events and how “Wisconsin Marriage Defenders” are “courageously taking on the sodomites” litter the blog site, calling to action others in support of their cause. Groppi also outlines the results of one of his “enlightening” rallies, quoting that “The first few days after our outing in Oshkosh, PCC [Pilgrims Covenant Church] received an avalanche of obscene, threatening, blasphemous phone calls from that city [Oshkosh, WI], confirming that the truth we shared was badly needed. Please pray for the Christians in Oshkosh who are taking their stand under a banner of biblical truth” (Groppi). Again, Groppi is using the Bible as justification for his actions and claims about other differently-minded people he encounters.

Teno Groppi authors a blog that can very much be considered an anti-gay hate website. The comments and articles he posts attempt to cause harm to homosexuals; he bestializes, dehumanizes, and criticizes them with no facts and nothing but the justification of his own beliefs and the words of the Bible. Groppi is sarcastic and nasty, he overgeneralizes and categorizes gays and calls them names. “Wisconsin Marriage Defenders” is affiliated with the Pilgrims Covenant Church of Wisconsin, and has many followers. Groppi uses these people to rally against same-sex marriage and anyone politically affiliated with it. All in all, Groppi’s “Wisconsin Marriage Defenders” blog is an obvious form of cyber-hate against gays. Luckily, most individuals know that the unsubstantiated claims and falsities on Groppi’s site are just that – false – and so this type of hateful and influential media can be avoided.

Works Cited
Cooper, Cynthia A. (2010). Race/gender/media; considering diversity across audiences, content, and producers. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
Groppi, Teno. (2004, December). Wisconsin marriage defenders. Retrieved from http://wismd.blogspot.com/2010_07_01_archive.html
Life and liberty ministries: the truth about homosexuality. (2004). Retrieved from http://www.lifeandlibertyministries.com/archives/cat_the_truth_about_homosexuality.php
Pilgrims covenant church - homosexuality. (2005). Retrieved from http://www.pccmonroe.com/Homosexuality.htm

Civil Rights, Gay Rights

By: Sarah Felty


The United States is currently going through one of the biggest Civil Rights movements of all time. The Gay Rights movement, which is the desire by those gay and straight to have equal rights among all. For those in their twenties, this may seem like the biggest Civil Rights revolution of all time. People may feel it is unique or that issues like these have never been examined before. Though this is true, the Gay Rights Movement is unique and does bring up new issues, it actually comes on the heals of a revolution and a rejection of the social norms that are exactly like the issues being brought up in the current debates and controversies.

The roots of the Gay Rights Movement are very similar to those of the Civil Rights movement in the 50’s. The aim was to give African Americans equality to the “norm,” which was white people. Likewise, the aim of the Gay Rights Movement is to make gay relationships equal to the “norm.” Currently, the norm could be either a heterosexual relationship, recognition of familial rights or marriage. The movement being so new it is not strictly defined yet, but the obvious aim is exactly the same a the Civil Rights Movement of the 50’s, equality. Just like black people in the 50’s, gay people are treated as if its better not to address sexual orientation, almost ignore it. Black people were treated much the same way when it came to the color of their skin. The army stated “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would consider segregating gay soldiers from straight soldiers. This is similar to the segregation felt by African Americas during the 1950’s. The practices of “simple, inalienable rights” are denied to gay people, as well. For example, the privilege to marry is a struggle reflective of the earlier struggles by African American’s to vote.

The similarities between these two movements therefore, pose a very serious question, is gay the new black? Tyra Banks recently hosted an episode of her show that asked this question for the first time. The episode was appropriately titled, “Is Gay the New Black?” During the hour-long show, she compared the strides made by African American’s to achieve equality in the United States during the 50’s (and still) to the steps currently being made by those in the Gay Rights Movement. She points out the similarities between the two movements and between the opinions and viewpoints of those on either side of the issue.


“Brutality/Murder”
The reports of gay bullying and homosexual related deaths that have come out recently, sparking the Trevor Project and “It Gets Better” campaigns, are reminiscent of the deaths in the African American community during the Civil Rights campaign. (Though no one was there to stick up for African Americans like the previous two campaigns are for the gay community.) For example, the death of Emmett Till in 1555, a young African American boy who was beaten because of the color of his skin, shot and killed, then dumped into a river. (NewWorldEncyclopedia.com)

“Stereotypes”
Stereotypes, assumptions and fear have also played large roles in both movements. For example, the creation of the black sambo and popularity of “black face” prior to the 1950’s initiated the stereotype that blacks are stupid or uneducated. (black-face.com) The same thing is true in the gay community with the rise in popularity of Drag Queens and exceedingly gay characters on television/ film (Christian Siriano from Project Runway) Oppositionists begin to associate these things with the entire culture rather than individuals (in the case of homosexuality). However, they are by no means true for each or for anyone. (in the case of the black sambo)

“Inferiority”
The incorporation of a social norm and precedence of one group over another is also a key part of the arguments being made during the Gay Rights Movement and its similarity to the Civil Rights Movement. The idea that marriage is between a man and a woman expresses the idea that this is the norm and anyone deviating from this is abnormal. (Much like the idea that white people are the norm as compared to black people.)

“Religion”
This also brings into play the issue of religion. Many of the oppositionists to Gay Marriage use religion as their defense. Saying that being gay is a sin against God. Often quoting verses like: Leviticus 18:22 - "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable." When African Americans sought freedom the bible was used against them as well. Turning stories like that of Noah and his son Canaan into a story supporting slavery and racism. (http://www.gci.org/)


The similarities between the Civil Rights movement in the 1950’s is very similar to that of the Gay Rights Movement currently influencing our society. Though these two groups obviously had many different struggles and both are equally important and individual from the other, the basic structure for freedom is the same. One group is being oppressed by another, pain is felt (especially by the oppressed) and the issue of what is right or wrong must be established for an entire society of people who think very different things for very different reasons. In the end each movement has brought major issues into play such as religion, freedom, equality and the idea of a social norm. Though the Civil Rights Movement has seen its prime, the Gay Rights Movement is just getting started. It will be interesting to continue to analyze the similarities of the two movements and when the Gay Rights Movement has seen its prime, to find out what the outcome is and how the overall structure of the movement reflects that of the Civil Rights Movement. In fact the two movements have already become meshed and “The Civil Rights Movement” is now used interchangeably. Establishing that equality for Gay Rights and African Americans are part of a larger picture, that of equality for all, rather than for each group. When analyzing the words of Martin Luther’s famous “I have a dream” speech, it is hard not to hear his sentiments ring true all over again today for a whole new race with a very similar dream.



A SCWAMP Analysis: Glee


By: Kristen Piasecki

The television show “Glee” is about to approach it’s second on the Fox network. For those of you unfamiliar to what the show is about, the high school students endure many struggles and solve their problems through song. The show has done remarkably well, and continues to have an impressive amount of celebrity guest stars. The season finale shows typically deal with a “sing off” and a major competition that will serve as a cliff hanger for the next season. At the end of the final episode, the characters are still left with many problems in need of solving, which will eventually take place in the preceding season. I selected to analyze this television show using the wildly popular SCWAMP analysis. My objective is to dissect each aspect of this show that is often excused as an acceptable part of today’s media.



For those unfamiliar with the “SCWAMP analysis, it is an acronym, and each letter stands for an important term. The acronym SCWAMP stands for Straight, Christian, White, Able-bodied, Male, and Property holding” (Media and Race, 179). We notice many things that are easily classified under this analysis on a daily basis, which might by why this analysis is widely popular. The SCWAMP analysis typically analyzes the various ways in which our society has been influenced by the media; both positively and negatively. Having applied this particular analysis to the television show, Glee allowed me to see the many evident correlations between the popular television show, and the defined analysis. The show Glee can easily be categorized under each of the following sub topics.

When analyzing the “Straight” aspect of the television show Glee, I noticed both heterosexual as well as homosexual relationships. I did realize, however, that the show mainly focuses on the heterosexual relationship. While there is one homosexual male apparent on the television show, his sexuality is not deeply pursued. He mainly serves as a character of pleasure and interest to the audience, and his sexual life remains undiscovered in comparison to the infinite straight couples. The most famous relationships on this show are the relationships between a man and woman. For example, the teachers are all heterosexual. The students, all but one, are heterosexual, and the parents are all heterosexual. This give the impression that while homosexuality is acknowledged, it is still presented as a social inaccuracy, and something that is out of the norm, as far as relationships go, in our society. Through the SCWAMP analysis, Glee, while positive efforts to incorporate the homosexual into prime time, has simply proven that heterosexual relationships remain dominant.

For the topic of Christianity, this appears to be an issue that not very many shows emphasize heavily on. The reason that I speculate that Christianity, and religion in general is not widely emphasized is the media’s need to keep an open audience. Religion is a topic that is extremely personal to many people, and can easily offend people as well. While there is no direct implications of Christianity in Glee, there is still a noticeable Christian connection; Christmas. The show has been noted displaying Christmas trees, as well as holiday decorations. This aspect connects the aspect of Christianity to the widely popular television show. Without question, this observation is extremely minimal; however, it is still a significant correlation between the religion and the television show.

For the aspect of White, involving the SCWAMP analysis, the majority of the cast of Glee is Caucasian. Of the 12 members of the cast of Glee, excluding teachers and principals, who are also white; 10 are Caucasian, and there is only one African-American apart of the cast, and one Asian apart of the cast. This is an extremely scarce amount of characters in which is a race other than Caucasian. With our nation’s current state of diversity, it is shocking to discover that still, the majority of a large cast is still Caucasian. It almost appears that these two characters were placed within the context of the show to obtain the African-American audience, and the Asian audience. Through using the SCWAMP analysis, it was evident to discover that the “white” factor still plays a dominant role in today’s media.

For the Able Bodied aspect of this show, it is semi-diverse. Most of the characters appear to be in a positive body shape, and fit the generic in shape stereotype. All of the men apparently work out, and are in fantastic shape for their age. All of the woman are tall, thin and wear clothing to make these results apparent. There is, however, two individuals in which break these rules; Mercedes Jones and Kevin McHale. Kevin McHale, who is completely able bodied in real life, plays a wheelchair bound adolescent in the television show, Glee. He is well liked by his Glee friends, however is heavily scrutinized by the rest of his peers. Glee partners his character up with an able bodied female, and thus, the acknowledgment of a wheelchair student is made apparent. Mercedes Jones is able bodied; however, she differs from the rest of the cast in the aspect of weight. Her weight is significantly different than that of the rest of the cast. Nevertheless, the SCWAMP analysis proves that almost always on Glee, the characters are able bodied.

For the Male aspect of the show, although the cast is virtually evenly split with 5 characters being male and 7 characters being female, male dominance still remains a prevalent theme. In two circumstances this season, a woman is “dumped” the woman shortly cries or retaliates, implying that the male character had significant control over her feelings. Male competition is also another prevalent theme. In one circumstance, two of the male characters were violently fighting over a girl they both desired to be with. This “fight” implies the infinite search to define masculinity, as well as show male dominance. The two men immaturely fought over who would win this woman’s heart; completely excusing the fact that the women herself might now want the man who won. Through the SCWAMP analysis, it is apparent to notice that male dominancy is still prevalent.


For the Property Holding aspect, direct correlation can be made. Each character has a home in which they come home to. Although these are simply fictional houses, the show still gives the implication that each of these characters, despite ethnic make and sexual preference, all can feel secure in their own home. It implies that normal kids, dealing with normal problems, have normal homes. However, it completely ignores the entire population of kids who are living with relatives because they have lost their home. While this issue is overlooked, it might quite possibly be an issue that is too large for the show to deal with. The issue of homelessness is an issue that takes great depth and consideration, and the show Glee, while sentimental at times, probably could not deal with an issue of this severity.

The television show Glee is made as an escape for kids to watch in order to relate to their life. A realistic view would explain that this show is a fabrication of actual high school, and while students do deal with many of the same problems expressed on the show, they do not break out into song in hallways in between class periods. After analyzing this show with the SCHWAMP analysis, it was very apparent to notice why the show remains to have such a large fan base. The evidently prevalent trends that are shown in the media on a daily basis are the way Americans tend to view our society here in America. It would be interesting to see which other problems Glee chooses to deal with, however, with this large of a fan base; it looks like Glee will be on the air for quite some time to come.




Work Cited

"Fox Statistics." Viewership Statistics (2010): n. pag. Web. 3 Dec 2010. .

Grinner, Lisa. (2004, 2010). Pages 179-185 In R. A. Lind, Race, Gender, Media: Considering Diversity across Audiences

Welcome to the Sticks: Media and Regional Diversity

By: Louis-Auxile Maillard

"A man who works for a huge global corporation is sent to live in the sticks, but realizes that it isn't such a backwards place after all." This is the plot summary for Welcome to the Sticks, a movie expected to come in 2013. It focuses on the regional diversity within United States, a topic which is not very usual since USA tend to be gathered and defined as a unique culture. According to some rumors, the hero in the movie wants at first to be sent to work in Hawaii, but is finally shifted to North Dakota. These two regions are actualy known to be very different in popular culture.

Welcome to the Sticks is supposed to be largely diffused in America, at least because in the opposite it wouldn't have been produced by the famous Will Smith himself. But why is Hollywood suddenly interested in this aspect of diversity?

Obviously, because it's successful. The original plot comes from Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis (Welcome to the Ch'tis), a French 2008 movie focusing on clichés and cultural differences between the extreme south and the extreme north of France. Watching its trailer shows what is this movie about, even if French culture is unknown to you.[1]

Trailer (English Sub) Bienvenue chez les ch'tis
Uploaded by welcometothesticks. - Classic TV and last night's shows, online.

It was intended to be nothing more than a little funny comedy with the usual score of 2 millions entrances. However, it made more than 26 millions over the world, becoming the most seen French movie in the whole History of cinema and has been exported to five continents and 28 countries. Its plot has been sold to Will Smith's company in 2008 in order to create a remake focusing on American culture.[1]

The reasons for such a success are hard to define because of the fact that it was totaly unexpected. It reveals a rupture between the traditional images of cultural diversity shown by the cinema and what the spectators really want to see. Finding new roots to be related to the place where people live, which is sometimes also the place where their ancesters used to live, and being more proud of everyone's cultural environment appear like new desires of spectators. And the cinema industry is precisely supposed to satisfy spectators’ desires.

But the clichés supported by Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis and eventually by Welcome to the Sticks are not at all to be removed by these movies. Most of these stereotypes are about language (accent, specific vocabulary), intimacy, food, friendship, weather, or all the things which characterize our daily lifes. Director of Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis Dany Boon told that he wanted to "Play with the clichés in order to ridiculize them better".[2] He actually stopped at the first step, and never destroyed the clichés about northern France. On the contrary, his movie is a caricature which maintains and increases the stereotypes, even if it also shows how this cultural diversity within a country does not have to frighten, but to offer people their neighbor's complementarity: at the end of the movie, the hero finally is very pleased by his new neighborhood, and very sad to quit it on new professional purpose.

Because this unusual point of view about diversity is the only one thing which distinguish this movie from any other, and because it was also the most commented aspects of the movie when it was created, it is probably the main reason for its success. In Europe especially, the regional issues are not only related to current differences but also to a disturbed History which gave to each region its own identity. For example, there are no two regions there which have never been ennemies many times during past wars. Climate, landscapes, language, food, architectur or customs can change very deeply from one region to another, and emphasize the different aspects of land that people want to be related to.

Another hypothesis can be that people are likely to appreciate a movie which maintains and furthermore caricatures some stereotypes. Beyond the fact that it is often a pattern to provide a funny plot, and that funny plots are among the most successful, caricature also give landmarks and references to order our environment and to understand our position. It is also a way to emphasize our own culture by decreasing other culture's reputation. For these reasons, people may appreciete caricature even if they are not fair, unreal or misrespectful. Bienvenue Chez les Ch'tis success is a quite significant example for this.

However, most of cinema producers, directors and actors are officially involved in fights to improve the society, which includes sometimes to fight against stereotypes. Plenty of current movies are part of this: Forget former ideas about people, establish new views on the world which are more realistic and more friendly.

The question now is: Will the cinema industry keep fighting against stereotypes, or will it yield to the temptation of business? Will it produce a movie full of stereotypes in order to raise more money, or will it accept to teach people other views on the society even if they are less likely to pay for this?

Welcome to the Sticks will also probably be a great experience to measure the atmosphere among American states mindset, from Hawaii to North Dakota. As soon as the movie will arrive in American cinema theaters, its ability to attract spectators and the way it will be criticized or applaused will reveal a little bit of what people think about their land, the place where they live and their relation with other regions. These considerations about regional diversity througout the media are likely to improve social understanding, since they reveal people's yearnings and feelings about themselves and their neighbors.

[1]Trailer with English subtitles available there:
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x58kh6_trailer-english-sub-bienvenue-chez_shortfilms
http://www.totalfilm.com/news/will-smith-says-welcome-to-the-sticks
http://www.toutlecine.com/film/0037/00378073-bienvenue-chez-les-ch-tis.html

Queerness at its Best:Queer Eye for the Straight Eye and Noah’s Ark


“Television is a new medium. It’s called a medium because nothing is well-done” – Fred Allen (1950). Television does not fully represent gay Black males. Currently Caucasian homosexuals are seeing much more television air time; nonetheless this commonly changing TV paradigm barely incorporates the growing African-American homosexual male subdivision. Recently, however, minority figures on TV programming have. Up until October of 2005 when cable-television network Logo released “Noah’s Arc”, there was no show with more than two consistent gay Black male characters. Gay White male characters however can be seen in various reality and scripted TV shows including “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” The shows do differ in content, but both shows are alike in that they positively represent a usually underrepresented subgroup… the gay male. Author Laura Stempel, wrote in her article Queer Life for the Straight Eye: Television’s Commodification of Queerness that “queer life has been commodified so that straight audience will “buy” it (2009, p217).” But is that the case for Noah’s Arc too? In this blog analysis I will take an in-depth look at Logo’s Noah’s Arc and Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, more specifically I will compare and contrast both shows in regards to points in Stempel’s article. The points mentioned include: LGBT in the mass media, commodification of LGBT in order for them to appeal to all audiences, and show content.
“Noah’s Arc” is a series that explores the daily lives of Noah (a fledgling screenwriter), Wade (straight fellow scribe who's just learning to get comfortable with his same-sex feelings), Ricky (slutty boutique owner), Alex (boisterous HIV counselor), Trey, and Chance (university professor who has recently moved in with his partner, Eddie and his daughter).
Noah's Arc and its gay black and Latino characters, integrated such socially relevant issues as same sex dating, same sex marriage, HIV and AIDS awareness, infidelity, sexual curiosity, promiscuity, homophobia, gay bashing, and same sex parenthood. It had parallels to, and has been cited as, a gay version of Sex and the City and Girlfriends. The series ran from October 2005, to October 2006. Following its cancellation, it was made into a 2008 film, Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom, as a follow-up to the series (logotv.com1).




Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is about five gay men who specialize in fashion, food & wine, grooming, culture, and interior design. The Fab 5 consist of Kyan, the “Grooming Guru,” Jai, the “Culture Vulture,” Ted, the “Food and Wine Connoisseur,” Thom, the “Design Doctor,” and Carson, the “Fashion Savant.” After throwing out much of the straight man’s unfashionable possessions, each member of the Fab 5 take him to the appropriate places to learn new techniques, labeled as culture and grooming, and pick out new furniture, clothes, and food. They then return him to his redesigned home, and turn him loose to cook a meal for his girlfriend, wife, or family, who gush at the successful makeover while the Fab 5 watch on a TV screen from afar (genders.com1). The reality show debuted in 2003 and its final ten episodes aired in October 2007.




Laura Stempel writes about QE (Queer Eye) in her article Queer Life for the Straight Eye: Television’s Commodification of Queerness, but her theories can also be applied to NA (Noah’s Arc) and the shows make up/content. Stempel first argues that QE is good because it gives LGBT viewers a chance to see people like themselves in mass media and non-LGBT viewers get to witness the “lifestyle.” NA arguably offers the same thing seeing that the groundbreaking show was the first of its kind and showed its characters with depth and 2 dimensional. Contrary to her positive feelings about the show Stempel second argument says that QE is designed as a show needing to appeal to both hetero and homosexual audiences so it can sell. Thus, the show becomes commodified, or becomes a thing for sale, the wider its appeal the bigger its profits. Though QE is about the features of queerness, its show is turned to the service of straight people so that it will sell. In QE, “sexuality takes a back seat to the remodeling (2009, p219)” of the men. Because QE uses its characters talents to sell, this show can be viewed as a larger commodified show as compared to NA. NA uses homosexuality as the shows pitch like QE, but in the actual shows seeing homosexuality is more prevalent in NA.

Both shows have become the “face of queerness” in mainstream Black and White popular culture, but the characters may have been chosen or created precisely to embody particular stereotypes. “Its content raises critical questions about what form of queerness it represents and what parts of queer communities it renders invisible (gender.com2).” In terms of queerness represented in both shows, QE obviously shows very particular view of gay experience by not entering into the character’s personal lives. NA is the exact opposite, being more transparent with its characters and their personal issues and gay relations. Lastly, Stempel argues that the cost to the initial commodification mentioned before concerning QE, is that it is “stripped of the very things that make it queer (Stempel),” to shows gays as valuable members of straight and “normal” society. NA once again is the opposite because it embraces the sexual aspects of being gay. It openly discusses and shows every part of being a gay male.
Even though QE and NA are both two very different shows in terms of creation and characters, both are alike in the fact that they feature almost all openly gay characters in a positive manner. Analyzing these shows puts much in perspective about the networks intentions. Bravo obviously went commercial by commodified QE so that it can appeal to both homo and heterosexuals crowds for profits. LOGO took another approach and gave their characters developing storylines that unfolded personal aspects of them all. QE character might have simply been playing themselves in their roles, but it still “reduces queerness to a narrow and class-based subset, it also puts a public face on some forms of gayness (gender.com3).”


Work Cited

Stempel, L. (2009). Queer life for the straight eye: Television‘s commodification of queerness. Race/Gender/Media: Considering Diversity Across Audiences, Content, and Producers, 2.

http://www.glaad.org/publications/tvreport10/overview
http://www.xtra.ca/public/Vancouver/Black_sexual_and_gay-7052.aspx
http://www.genders.org/g42/g42_berila_choudhuri.html
http://www.logotv.com/shows/dyn/noahs_arc/series.jhtml




Wednesday, December 8, 2010

SCWAMP analysis of "The Bachelor"

By: Leslie Purnell

“The Bachelor” is about to run its fifteenth on the ABC network. Each season one bachelor is set up with a total of twenty women in a quest to find “true love.” As each show airs, the number of women get smaller and smaller until there are two women left. The finale is a two-hour special that shows the bachelor and each woman on their final date before the proposal. At the conclusion of the season, the audience channels in to find out if the bachelor has finally found his soul mate. I chose to use the SCWAMP analysis to help people see the Bachelor is the ideal for what the media craves to see today.
“The SCWAMP analysis stands for Straight, Christian, White, Able-bodied, Male, and Property holding” (Ginner pg. 181). We can see them heavily repeated in different sources of media. A SCWAMP analysis looks at how the media has a direct influence on society, and points out what contrasts with the norm. The analysis allowed me to examine the Bachelor break down aspects to see why the show is so popular. Mothers and daughters can gather around the television every Monday, and watch the season from beginning to end. After comparing “the Bachelor” through the SCWAMP analysis, it is easy to see why there the show re-airs year after year. The Bachelor falls under each topic that is prominent in American media today.

Straight- Heterosexual relationships are extremely emphasized on the Bachelor. Every season has had numerous women yearning to steal the heart of the one bachelor. There is no way producers of the Bachelor would ever have a homosexual edition. Homosexuality has never been a theme in a fairy tale story. The viewers of the Bachelor are looking to watch the fairy tale unfold in front of their eyes. Boy meets girl, he courts her, at the end of the show he will propose, and then the couple will be on their way to happily ever after. The Bachelor supports the SCWAMP analysis in displaying that heterosexuality is yet again a dominant the media.





Christianity- The theme of Christianity is seen in some, but not all of the shows. Sometimes the bachelors have discussions about religion with some of the women they have serious feelings for. Another example of Christianity is when a couple of the bachelors end up getting married to the woman they selected at the end of the show. One can also argue there are some not so Christian values on the show such as a sense of polygamy. In the beginning stages of the show the bachelor is essentially “dating” all of the women. Christianity stresses monogamy. There are also some cases during the season finale when the bachelors can invite the women to “spend the night” with him in a romantic suite as a nightcap on their final date. Even though the show does not film behind closed doors, the audience is left to imagine what happened after the bachelor shuts the bedroom door. Sex before marriage is highly frowned upon within the Christian faith. From these examples the theme of Christianity can be argued both ways for the Bachelor.

White- Out of fourteen seasons of the Bachelor, none of the men have been of different decent other than Caucasian. Some of the women on the show, throughout the various seasons, are either African American, or Hispanic. Indian and Asian women have yet to be represented on the Bachelor. The most important question to ask is why have the bachelors not been diversified? There are many successful and wealthy men of color in America. It is safe to say that producers of the Bachelor see Caucasians as the most powerful, successful, and desired men.
Able Bodied- There is not one man or woman on the Bachelor who does not appear to be in shape. All of the contestants have an ideal body shape. Not seeing a variety of body shapes can convey a message skinny people are only attracted to other skinny people. There is a saying, “Love comes in all shapes and sizes,” if the Bachelor wanted to have a show its audience can relate to, they should have a variety of body types. None of the contests are conveyed as just average. Each woman is gorgeous and well groomed. In the scenes where the man and women sit in the hot tub or go to the beach, the women wear bikinis that show off their trimmed bodies. The picture below is a group of people who have been on the Bachelor. Everyone in that picture looks happy to be together. A hidden message that can be taken from this picture is that men and women can only truly be happy when they are skinny.


Male- For the majority of the show, there is a male dominance theme about the show. Women are, in a sense, competing with one another for their chance of love with one man. The bachelor decides where the girls go on dates, and whom he takes on certain dates. Women who are eliminated often cry. Crying can convey to the audience that the bachelor had an impact on how the woman feels emotionally. On the other side of the spectrum, the female ends up having the power. After the bachelor asks for her hand in marriage, the woman then has the choice to accept or decline. The male is ultimately asking the female for her approval of the relationship.

Property Holding- Even though the show does not show the house the bachelor and other contestants live in, property is still emphasized. All the women live in one mansion together, and the bachelor stays in another mansion up the street. The producers of the show are communicating that with success comes mansions. Creators of the show want the audience to buy into how much of a great lifestyle one can have when they are a wealthy bachelors. Not every single wealthy person in America feels the need to have huge mansions and fancy cars. So why does television feel the need to emphasize material possessions? Maybe it is due to the fact that audiences like to get carried away with the fantasy aspect of TV. Many people want what they cannot have, and so watching people live the lifestyle of the rich and famous is appealing to the viewers.
The Bachelor is made for the people in the world who like to believe in fairy tales. A realist knows that the couples do not just run off and have a perfect relationship after the show. After completing the SCWAMP analysis it is easy to see why viewers tune into the show season after season. The dominant themes in the media today are a result of the way Americans want to view civilization in the United States. It would be nice to see more diversity in the cast and surroundings, but like the saying goes, “If it isn’t broke don’t fix it.”

Work Cited

Grinner, Lisa. (2004, 2010). Hip-Hop Sees No Color: An Exploration of Privilege and Power in Save the Last Dance. In R. A. Lind, Race, Gender, Media: Considering Diversity across Audiences, Content and Producers. Boston MA: Allyn and Bacon: Pearson Publishers.

“The bachelor Jason and Molly’s wedding.” YouTube-Broadcast Yourself. ABC network, 12 March 2010. Web. 23 November 2010.

Pictures from Google.com

The Evolution of Sexuality in Teen Novels and Movies: Harry Potter and Twilight


By Tamara French

Today’s generation is filled with much angst and sexuality (http://cfw.tufts.edu/), which is mirrored in many novels and movies seen in the media. Two of the most popular novels turned movie franchises among teens are the Harry Potter series and the Twilight series (http://www.goodreads.com/). Both stories speak of supernatural worlds; Harry Potter set in the wizarding world and Twilight set in a world where vampires and werewolves roam.

The Harry Potter world began in the mind of J.K. Rowling. The first novel being Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, released in June 1997 in the U.K (http://www.jkrowling.com/), is one of seven books in the Harry Potter series. Many of the novels have occupied the adult bestselling list once they have been published. The first movie in the franchise was released in 2001 and, throughout the whole series, has been a success with each film. The story of Harry Potter it begins in 1991 when an eleven year old British boy, who has been living with his uncle and aunt after his parent’s death, finds out that he is a wizard and is accepted into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The series spans six years of his life, in which he matures in skill and wit and finds out that he is not just an ordinary wizard but that he has to ultimately fight and destroy one of the most powerful evil wizards of the time, Lord Voldemort.

Stephanie Myers, author of Twilight, says she “woke up from a dream featuring seemingly real characters that she could not get out of her head” (http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/). These characters eventually became the basis for what many know today as the Twilight series. The first novel Twilight, released in October 2005 (http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/), is one for four books in the Twilight series. The Twilight movie, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, was released on November 21, 2008. The story of Twilight is one that would seem very normal, but when uncovered has a side that is not one of normalcy at all. The novel takes place in modern day and follows the story of Bella Swan, a less than average seventeen year old girl, who has decided to move to Forks, Washington to live with her father. She meets the Cullen family, and falls in love with Edward Cullen, who happens to be vampires. Bella is not deterred by this rather disturbing information and soon is in life threatening danger, this remains throughout the series.

Harry Potter and Twilight have very different perspectives on the supernatural world and deal with different types of those worlds. The fact that these two stories are set in different time periods has a lot to do with the sexual conduct and stereotypes that are present in both series’.

Sexuality in Twilight and Harry Potter
Twilight has been very sexualized and can lead many young women into thinking that what they see on the screen is what they ultimately need to be, and what they need to strive for. Because it is set in the 21st century there is a mirror effect, one does what is seen, that happens between the audience and film. Young women see Bella Swan crying, swooning, and being a bit pathetic when it comes to being with Edward Cullen. This shows a weak female, not only that but a weak and passionate female because she cannot wait to just have sex with him. In the movie this fact of a very sexualized, lustful female is played up. For instance, in the book the first time that she and he kiss is outside before a baseball game and it is a pleasant kiss, not too much and not too little, but a normal kiss. In the movie the first kiss is in her bedroom, at nighttime, and she barely has any clothing on, the kiss is not a light one but a very sexualized, drawn out one. The fact that the movie showed a very eager girl trying to do more than just kiss a man shows the way that the scene played up the sexual aspect of the movie. Throughout the novel even Bella is eager to do more than just hold hands or kiss, she wants more and one thing that stands out about this is that the male does not. Stereotypically the male figure is the one who is ready to go, but Edward is ‘old-fashioned’ and wants to wait until marriage.

Twilight Trailer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2T7d8j6I5I









In Harry Potter there are not many relationships throughout, it is not the main focus of the novel or the movies because that is not the only things that these characters think about. When they do get to a certain age it is shown that there are feelings there, but the story does not compound that simple thing. In ‘The Order of the Phoenix’ it shows for the first time a character from Harry Potter kiss somebody. They do not play up the sexuality in the films and because the novel is set in a different time period this may be why it is not as prevalent. The Harry Potter books are about adventure, not teen angst, while Twilight is exactly about teen angst. The gap between these two types of novels is huge because of the time differences, and probably also because of the fact that one is about American teenagers while the other is about British teenagers. Either way, when analyzing these novels it is evident that as time goes on the evolution of books and movies is becoming more and more sexualized and also flat.

Order of the Phoenix Trailer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14KlsramMHg









Stereotypes
The characters in both stories have their stereotypes, but how well-rounded these characters are is very important and what stereotypes they discuss also is. In Twilight there are some main stereotypes that stick out; the jock, the preppy girl, the awkward one, the beautiful girl, and the nerd. In Harry Potter there are also stereotypes; the class clown, the smart girl, the weird girl, the hero, and the sidekick. Since Twilight has become more sexualized the characters have become less well-rounded. With these stereotypes they only can be those things, all the characters are who they appear to be on the outside, it’s not like the ‘Breakfast Club’ where at the end of the movie the audience sees that they are more than what they appear to be, these characters are not. In Harry Potter even though there are these stereotypes, most of them have more than one dimension to them, the smart girl is also witty and cool, the class clown is an entrepreneur and successful, the sidekick is much more than that and proves himself to be so. Neither one of these movies represent real life obstacles, such as evil wizards and vampires, but real human beings and feelings are being represented, so to make them one-dimensional is not at all good.

Homosexuality
In the story of Twilight, a story that is wrapped around relationships, lust, and love, there is no homosexuality. Despite the obvious uncertainty of Edward’s sexual appeal, there are no gay couples in Forks, WA. There are no explicitly gay vampires. Bella herself does not experience same-sex attraction. For a story to have so much lust and sexual condonation, one would think that it would condon the use of same-sex relationships, even just to walk around. A history of homosexuality flocks behind vampires also, so why not place this in the movie? Interview with a Vampire is a movie with homosexuality and eroticism, two things that are usually associated with vampires and people even think that in a sense Edward is homosexual, but the mention of it in the film is never established. In the story of Harry Potter, even though it is not mentioned in the text or in the movie, it turns out that J.K. Rowling wrote Dumbledore as a gay character. She says, “Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald [a bad wizard he defeated long ago], and that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was.”(http://www.guardian.co.uk/)Many did not know this, even the writers of the script did not know, “in a script read-through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script saying, ‘I knew a girl once, whose hair...’ I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter, ‘Dumbledore's gay!’” So after all Harry Potter does actually have a homosexual character and now that I think about it fits Dumbledore.

Racial Divides
Both films and movies show a range of different ethnicities and races and even interracial dating happens. Harry’s first crush is an Asian girl, and there are many significant characters of all races in the novels; Dean, Kingsley, and the Patel twins are just a few of them. Even in Twilight there are multiple races. The fact that it is not the main focus in either one of the series’, shows that race does not really matter in reality, and that just because one is a different color from somebody else’s that does not mean there will be strife always.






It is evident that movies and books show sexuality, stereotypes and race in many lights. The fact that some of these things are overly stated is well known. The evolution of sexuality in books and movies has most definitely become over rated and extremely unwrapped. The stereotypes have kept to that, even though they were not just that single one-dimensional person once before. The up side is that race relations in these books and movies were accepted then and are accepted now, not being the matter that causes strife but showing that everybody can actually get along. Both of these series’ include tantalizing story lines and captivate audiences across America so much that young reader’s flock to the bookstores and theatre when these titles appear. But The fact of the matter that throughout time the movies and books have become more and more sexually pertinent, and stereotyped, is very evident, especially in the reflection shown through today’s audience.

Works Cited
http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/books-made-into-movies
Smith, David. www.guardian.co.uk. The Observer, 21 Oct, 2007. Web. 1 Dec. 2010.


http://www.jkrowling.com

Seth. www.stepheniemeyer.com. The Official Website of Stephenie Meyers, n.d. Web. 1 Dec.
2010.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2T7d8j6I5I

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14KlsramMHg

Child & Family Web Guide. Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155 © 2001-2010, Eliot Pearson
Department of Child Development. Tufts University.

Women Proposing Marriage: Seen as Unnatural and Desperate

By: Lisa Morris

The act of women proposing to men rarely, if at all, is seen in the media. In the year of 1937, the comic strip “Li’l Abner” created a story in which a man’s daughter is desperately in search for a husband. The daughter, Sadie Hawkins, is 35 and her appearance is unappealing to men all around. Her father grew weary of her ever moving out, so he created an event called Sadie Hawkins Day. This day took place on February 29, which is also commonly known as leap year. On this particular day, a foot race was organized and when the gun fired the go signal, all the eligible bachelors in town had to start running. The second shot that was fired signaled Sadie’s cue to start running after the men. Whoever she caught, whether they wanted to or not, had to marry her. Now, every leap year, Sadie Hawkins Day is celebrated for the one opportunity for women to propose to men without seeming “desperate” (Mikkelson, 1995-2010). In this blog I will discuss how Sadie Hawkins Day marks a tradition that is unusual and disturbs the ideology of women. I will then discuss two examples of women proposals in the media, one which reveals the tendency of man to regain his dominant role, while the other relinquishes in success in regards to the female actually going through with her proposal.
Sadie Hawkins Day distinguishes the abnormality of women pursuing men. This event takes place on a day that occurs once every four years. According to the document “The Privilege of the Ladies”, leap years are seen as a disturbance to the “orderly progression of the days/months/years” (Mikkelson, 1995-2010). Just as February 29th is unordinary, events that are associated with it will get the same connotation. Since the extra day was added onto February to keep the calendar balanced, occurrences that take place out of the norm are not questioned. Our society is not used to women proposing to men, so when this happens, it is considered as an unnatural event.


In this picture, a woman is seen chasing a man, in hopes to capture him as her future husband. If she does so successfully, he has no choice but to marry her. First of all, a picture like this depicts the woman as desperate, chasing the male as he looks panicked, running away. The whole point of Sadie Hawkins Day is to give women the chance to pursue the opposite sex without seeming desperate. Isn’t it funny how women are given only a single day to do something that should be free reign for all? What’s even funnier is the fact that, even though Sadie Hawkins Day is an event for out of the ordinary behavior from women, it is still accepted by women. The reason it is still around today is because of the popularity it received. Perhaps women feel empowered when they are “allowed” to approach men, however they couldn’t be any farther from authority if they tried. Sadie Hawkins Day was created by a man for women, so even though it may appear to be an attempt at creating equality, it is in fact, on the contrary. To start, the first example of a woman attempting to propose to a man is in the popular television show “Friends”.

The episode starts off with Chandler trying to throw Monica off guard, saying he never wants to get married, in order to make his planned proposal a surprise. The problem is, his actions are actually turning Monica away from him and towards an old flame she previously dated. Chandler finally realizes he may have screwed things up with Monica, and runs home in hopes she has not left him for good. Joey stops him in the hall and tells him that he is too late and that Monica was gone. Chandler is in disbelief and enters the apartment, expecting no one to be there. Little to his surprise, Monica is inside waiting for him. She knew he wanted the proposal to be a surprise, so she did the one thing no one was expecting. Monica then gets down on one knee and the audience goes wild. As soon as it looks like she is about to ask Chandler to marry her, she stops and starts crying because her emotions are too much for her to handle. Then she says a quote that proves how uncommon women marriage proposals actually are which is, “There’s a reason girls don’t do this.” After she says that, Chandler automatically takes control saying that he will do it instead. After he chokes back a few romantic lines, he takes out a ring, and proposes to Monica.(See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nczQiEHcrWs) As an end result, there was no proposal made by a woman here, and the anticipation for one shows that we are eager to see the “impossible” probable. Chandler regains his dominant role and finishes what he had planned all along. The next example comes from the movie Leap Year.


In the film “Leap Year” Amy Adams sets out to fulfill an old Irish tradition too propose to her boyfriend. She has been waiting for him to propose, and on the night she “expects” him to do it, he gives her a gift instead. She then decides to take control and travel to Dublin where her boyfriend is at. She does not do this on any ordinary day though but instead she waits till Leap Year. Once again, this date is infamous for dominant role reversals. It is obvious how badly Amy Adams character wants to marry her boyfriend, so why can’t she just pop the question on any random day? She eventually gets caught up with the man that is driving her to see her boyfriend, and in the end, she never proposes. Instead, she falls in love with the other guy, thus eliminating the woman proposal.

It is an assumption that most women dream of their wedding day to be the most memorable moment in their lives. The irony of this situation is that men do not seem as thrilled about marriage as women, yet they are the ones expected to finalize the lifelong relationship. The reason for this is because of the rejection factor and the impression that women can’t handle it. So it is the man’s job to propose because apparently a man can handle rejection better than women. This goes along with masculinity and the fact that males are not expected to show emotions with the risk of destroying his ego, but that is a different argument. Women take pride in planning the wedding and making sure everything is perfect while the man is presumed to just sit back and relax. Since women take the dominant role in planning the event, it is absurd that popping the question is somewhat out of their reach. It is time to look past old traditions and make new ones; ones that defy the norms that have already been constructed. Sadie Hawkins Day was created nearly seventy years ago at a time completely different than today. Women have more power these days, but events such as this one lead viewers to see the distorted “truth”.

Works Cited

Mikkelson, B. a. (1995-2010). The Privilege of Ladies . Retrieved November 2010, from Snopes. com Rumor Has It: http://www.snopes.com/oldwives/february29.asp

Will and Grace

By: Georgina Failey


“In many ways the 1990s and early 2000s have been a boom time in television’s presentation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and even transgender people.... Queer life is no longer simply a subject of interest to those who live it, but has been newly commodified for straight eyes.” (Stempel, 2004,2010).


Within the media, gay men usually have the stereotypical representation of being feminine, ‘showy’ and flamboyant. This male representation creates a subservient commodity: an object that is made in order to sell, in this case for television and film audiences. Generally within mediated texts, it the majority of male characters are white, straight, dominant, and tough. This representation contrasts the representation of a homosexual male and is repeated through different texts, creating an expectation or idea as to how gay males must act in real life. This representation creates a one dimensional character and in turn de-humanising them.
Within this blog I am going to look at stereotypes of homosexuals and whether these representations are commoditised for audiences and entertainment. I am going to focus on the television programme ‘Will and Grace’ (1998 – 2006) and look at the representations of the characters ‘Jack’ and ‘Will’.



In ‘Will and Grace’, the character of Jack is an extreme stereotypical representation of a gay male. “Camp is popular in portraying homosexuality on television as it takes segments of the mainstream culture and in many ways can be seen as humorous by both homosexuals and heterosexual viewers.” (Wood, 1996)

Jack appears to be over-excitable, enthusiastic and obsessed with icons such as Cher. His character is a commodity for the audience, as he is for pure entertainment and comedy.



“Today, if a gay male who is coming out turns to the gay media, most likely what he will find is that to be a homosexual in today’s society is to be a masculine young white male, with a well muscled body and handsome face, a good education and a professional job,” (Raymond, 2003).



Will isn’t as stereotypical as Jack; he appears to be more masculine and conservative in his traits such as: he is successful and steady in his law career, he is not represented as ‘over-excitable’ as the character of Jack. He is a safe representation for the show, as his stereotype isn’t as extreme as Jack’s over-sexed personality.


This contrast between the two characters reiterates the ideology of masculinity – where those with more masculine traits are more likely to be successful, than those who are stereotypically homosexual.



Will lives in an apartment with Grace as an ‘unconventional family’, and even though they aren’t officially together in a heterosexual relationship, it is their friendship, partnership and the fact that they live together that makes up for it. This shows that the hegemonic ideology is to have a male and female couple relationship in order to be supported and to be successful.

Works Cited
Raymond, D. (2003). Popular Culture and Queer Representation. In J. M. Gail Dines, Gender, Race and Class In Media: (pp. 99 - 110). Sage Publications.

Stempel, L. (2004,2010). Queer Life For The Straight Eye: Televisions Commodification Of Queerness. In R. A. Lind, Race,Gender,Media: Considering Diversity Across Audiences, Content, and Producers (pp. 215 - 222). Boston MA: Allyn And Bacon: Pearson Publishers.

Wood, M. (1996, December). The Portrayal of Gays and Lesbians on TV. Retrieved from Aberystwyth University : Gender.: http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Students/mtw9402.html

SCWAMP analysis of Entourage

By: Andy Weidner

Entourage is a comedy show that premiered on HBO on July 18th 2004 and has run for seven seasons and is about to embark on its eighth and final season. Entourage follows a fictitious young actor by the name of Vincent Chase coming into his own with his two best friends and his brother in Hollywood. The show was created by writer Doug Ellin who also writes most of the episodes and has even made guest appearances on the show. The show is loosely based on the life of Mark Wahlberg even though the show has now spun off onto its own legacy. The show’s main purpose is to make Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) the biggest actor on the planet. Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly) is Vince’s best friend and manager. Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillon) is Vince’s brother and personal trainer as well as serving as the foursomes chef. Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) is Vince’s driver and good friend, but honestly has no real value to the group other than obtaining marijuana. The only other main character is Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven). Ari is the largest agent in Hollywood and he represents Vince.

SCWAMP stands for straight, Christian, white, able-bodied, male, and property ownership. SCWAMP analysis shows that the media doesn’t deviate from a set of norms when presenting movies and shows. I chose to do a SCWAMP analysis of the television series Entourage to show that the television series is incredibly popular and at the same time shares the same values that hundreds of shows have shared for many years. These characteristics show how television executives stick to norms that make certain parts of the viewing community comfortable.

Straight


All of the main characters are straight. The four friends are incredibly womanizing and the show is constantly showing them in their sexual escapades or showing them talking about sex. The show does have certain episodes with gay men in them and the characters are generally favorable to them such as episode six in season 2. Eric tries to get a copy of a movie before its release and goes to his friend, a gay movie producer to obtain the movie. The only reoccurring gay character on the show is Lloyd (Rex Lee), Ari’s assistant. While Lloyd is an incredibly lovable character, he is constantly being torn down by Ari, his boss. In E5S6 Lloyd caddies for Ari at a celebrity fundraiser and Ari constantly berates Lloyd as his day gets worse. Lloyd does fit the commodified queer label. He is incredibly personable, lovable and successful. Lloyd is openly gay but the show rarely touches on his sex life. Lloyd is basically there to be made fun of for being gay (Stempel, 2004).

Christian
The four main characters never reveal their beliefs. It can be assumed that the four men believe in Christianity based on their conversations, but they never attend church or talk about their religion. The main religion followed on the show is Judaism. Ari and his family are Jewish. The writers of the show are always playing with the Jewish stereotypes and Ari is always dealing with his Jewish faith as a successful Jewish agent. In E17S3 Ari has to sneak out of a Synagogue during Yom Kippur against his wife’s wishes to get a movie green lit.

White
All of the main characters are white with the exception of Lloyd who is Chinese American. Lloyd is constantly being berated by Ari for being gay as well as Asian. Ari is constantly saying racial slurs and playing on Asian stereotypes. The four men are constantly having sex with white women with the occasional black woman with white features such as E3S1 where E is seen eating dinner with a black woman with white features. The show is set in wealthy white communities in California and rarely talks about racial issues.


Able Bodied
All of the characters are ultra-healthy and able bodied. Johnny Drama serves as Vince’s trainer and while they never show them working out, Johnny is constantly talking about vitamins and supplements and new workouts for Vince to try. Vince is an A-list movie star and has the looks that fit an A-list movie star. Ari is an obsessive compulsive personality who is obsessed with his self-image. He is incredibly fit and works out often on the show. In E10S2 Ari is seen running home and takes a meeting in a shirt that is soaked in sweat leading the audience to believe that he had just finished an extreme workout.

Male
Entourage is a male dominated show. The main characters are very ego driven and are constantly treating women as sexual objects. The show has filmed Vince sleeping with countless women and the group of friends is always talking about sleeping with women. The show itself always has gorgeous woman as extras as if to show that you can’t walk around Los Angeles unless you are a super model. The show is basically about four men partying and sleeping around. Ari’s wife and Vince’s publicist are basically the only two reoccurring women on the show.

Property Holding
Vincent Chase is a movie star. He has set himself and his friends up in a huge mansion with all the toys that one could ever want. He bought his friends matching Aston Martins after one of his movies did well in E5S3. They are constantly moving to bigger homes and making more money after movies. Money is no object on the show and Vince gets anything he wants, and he always takes care of his friends.

Entourage is constantly pushing the limits that television has set forth. The show is supposed to be a very light hearted comedy but can come off extremely offensive with its language. While the show is very offensive it is also extremely popular. It is constantly being nominated for Golden Globes and is about to embark on its 8th season and will end on their own accord. One must believe that the show is popular because of the close relation to the SCWAMP analysis. The show is based on four straight, Christian, white, able bodied, property owning men.

Bibliography
Stempel, L. (2004). Race/Gender/Media Considering Diversity across Audiences, Content, and Producers. Boston: Rebecca Ann Lind, Allyn & Bacon.

Comparing Extreme Home Makeover to Extreme Makeover


By: Kristen Piasecki

Cultural critics have solidly argued that marketing has encouraged individuals to look to the consumption of goods as a vehicle for happiness. Consumer goods that promise this range from a person’s physical appearance, to items a person possesses. However, the product ultimately fails, and thus, many find themselves on the never-ending journey to better perfect something we own. Reality shows such as “Extreme Makeover” and “Extreme Home Makeover” gives the indication that once the “thing” desired to be corrected, is corrected, it will fulfill endless happiness to the individual owner. However, the deeper underlying issues as why the individual is unhappy and what exactly will provide happiness is often overlooked. These shows imply that to feel good on the inside, you must look good on the outside. Often times, a person finds true happiness within themselves, not within a makeover.


The show Extreme “Home Makeover” a contestant and family is selected whose home appears to be in desperate need of repair. The homes that are typically selected are modest homes that have been over lived in, and are on the verge of falling apart. In some circumstances, the houses that this show chooses are houses that are apparently going to fall to pieces at any moment. Often times, a heart touching story is accompanied along with the selection of the contestants. For example, one show, a mother was caring for 15 special needs children. The house was very old, and their bedrooms were not desirable, and neither was the house. At the end of the show, she was given a big brand new house, with all new appliances as well as a building across the street to teach the children in. The audiences at home are rooting for the success of this individual, because she has had a hard life, and she is a giving person. Extreme Home Makeover strategically selects individuals who are both in need of assistance, yet somehow apparently worthy of the assistance. Nevertheless, this show still leaves the impression that the old house was terrible, and the new house will now make the entire family more closer together, which will in turn lead to happiness.


The show Extreme Makeover is about an individual selected (almost always women) who is unhappy with their overall physical appearance, and is in need of an extreme makeover! Often times, the individuals in which are selected for this program are typically very self conscious, and suffer from some type of emotional abuse or traumatic accident. There are many episodes where the women were teased because their nose was too big. There have even been episodes where the person selected was in a terrible accident in which emotionally influenced them, sometimes, having nothing to do with their overall physical appearance. During the duration of the show, the woman is literally transformed. She is maneuvered into a life size Barbie doll, and considered to now be socially acceptable. At the end of the show, and the grand finale, the masterpiece is revealed. She is now a socially acceptable and gorgeous girl who can now find eternal happiness because of her new found physical appearance in which was created by doctors. This show gives the impression that if a woman is beautiful on the inside; she deserves to be the socially acceptable definition of beautiful on the outside.

Although these shows differ, their overall conception is extremely similar. Thing is in need of repair. Thing gets repaired. Thing is beautiful. The main difference between the two shows are that homes are literally, “things” and people are not. Homes may be in need of repair, in order for a family to survive. People are often times in need of physical repair just to improve their self confidence. Either show, and either result, the definition of “beautiful” remains the same

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

“Bare As You Dare:" Using Nudity to Sell


By Michaela Penn

Objectified females have always been the subject of company’s ad campaigns; no matter the product advertisers still find a way to insert barely dressed females to make merchandise more appeasing. Jean Kilbourne, author of Can’t Buy My Love and the film Killing Us Softly, explains in her lectures how ads sell a great deal more than just products. “They sell values, images, and concepts of success and worth, love and sexuality, popularity and normalcy. They tell us who we are and who we should be. Sometimes they sell addictions (Kilbourne, 1).” In this blog analysis I will examine recent advertisements from Urban Outfitters and American Apparel. I will also specifically consider the difference between males and females in American Apparel catalogue ads, and how females are much more exposed and objectified than males. I choose both Urban Outfitters and American Apparel because of their young aged target market and their recent ad campaigns. Both companies have featured exposed (i.e. breast, buttock) models in various magazines, catalogues, and websites. According to website Quantcast, Urban Outfitters has a 71% consumer demographic of 13-34 year old males and females (QuantCast, 1). Likewise, American Apparel has a consumer demographic of 64% to 13- 34 year old males and females (QuantCast, 2). Though both of these brands have a stronger over 18 audiences, they still have a huge teenage following. Both American Apparel and Urban Outfitters market to young teens because their profits and consumer loyalty are what keeps these businesses running strong.

What Are You Selling Again?
With clothing becoming more risqué’ so is the advertising promoting these clothes. The latest of the nude advertising spree comes from American Apparel (see photo above). This model showing off the brand’s …errr…boy shorts, is positioned to seem as if she is performing oral sex on her male counterpart who is not seen. The correlation between boy shorts and oral sex should perplex every viewer, however American Apparel clearly understands the term “sex sells.” In another recent ad displaying American Apparel new zipper bodysuit, the model’s top half is bare. It’s hard to determine whether this is an actual advertisement or porn. Though this ad was ran in sex-related blog the Debauchette, its controversial actions and model (Porn star Sasha Grey) has made it a hot commodity all over the web and easy access for a young American Apparel shopper.











Objectified females have always been the subject of company’s ad campaigns; no matter the product advertisers still find a way to insert barely dressed females to make merchandise more appeasing. Jean Kilbourne, author of Can’t Buy My Love and the film Killing Us Softly, explains in her lectures how ads sell a great deal more than just products. “They sell values, images, and concepts of success and worth, love and sexuality, popularity and normalcy. They tell us who we are and who we should be. Sometimes they sell addictions (Kilbourne, 1).” In this blog analysis I will examine recent advertisements from Urban Outfitters and American Apparel. I will also specifically consider the difference between males and females in American Apparel catalogue ads, and how females are much more exposed and objectified than males. I choose both Urban Outfitters and American Apparel because of their young aged target market and their recent ad campaigns. Both companies have featured exposed (i.e. breast, buttock) models in various magazines, catalogues, and websites. According to website Quantcast, Urban Outfitters has a 71% consumer demographic of 13-34 year old males and females (QuantCast, 1). Likewise, American Apparel has a consumer demographic of 64% to 13- 34 year old males and females (QuantCast, 2). Though both of these brands have a stronger over 18 audiences, they still have a huge teenage following. Both American Apparel and Urban Outfitters market to young teens because their profits and consumer loyalty are what keeps these businesses running strong.




Men Vs Women
The difference between how men and women are framed in advertising is becoming much more prevalent with advertisement like the ones featured above. American Apparel especially, exposes females much more than males in their advertising. To prove this idea I reviewed the cover pictures from the company’s catalogue in 2004, 2005, and 2006. The distinctions are striking. In 2004 the catalogue featured only one male shirtless cover, while offering five females either with just a bra (and pants) or in just bra and panties.

Likewise in 2005 the catalogue shows one male models who is wearing a hooded jacket and briefs. 8 of the 10 females to make cover are exposed (i.e. exposed=cannot wear in public). Three of the models are wearing just panties, one panties/bra, one is wearing a form fitting/back & butt out bodysuit, one is wearing just socks, and the last has her breast exposed in her socks and button up blouse.
This trend with American Apparel continues in 2006. Only one male featured in both shorts and a tee-shirt.8 of the 11 females are in either their panties, bikinis, or one piece suits that expose their legs and buttocks. One female in particular has her bare legs wide opens with the magazine covering saying “wide open,” while another model has on shorts and an open hooded jacket with exposed breast.

It’s Deeper Than You Think
“Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel” (Kilborne, 2).These advertisements cause young viewers to grow up having bad taste in men, clothes, etc and poor judgment concerning self-respect. These advertisements portray females (and males occasionally) as nothing more than a mask, that is good for nothing besides advertising. Kilbourne states that in these ads our body is seen as a "thing," "and turning a human being into a thing is often the first step toward justifying violence. (Kilboune, 3)" On the most obvious level young viewers looking at these ads learn the stereotypes of how a man and woman should be. Advertising creates a mythical, mostly white world in which people are rarely ugly, overweight, poor, struggling or disabled, either physically or mentally (Kilboune, 4). Since women are active consumers, the site of women’s empowerment is through the commercial sphere, by making decisions about what and how to consume to defining themselves. However the target market of both American Apparel and Urban Outfitters starts at 13 which is young, by already subjected these over sexualized images in ads the message is clear to these teens. Teenagers are easily influenced by what they see and they often get dress/style ideas from magazines or websites. Both of these brands may have tried to take precautions by advertising in over 18 magazines, but lets be realistic …are all those readers really over 18?
Below is a message from American Apparel concerning their raunchy advertisements.

“American Apparel's ads have always been easily identifiable, standing out amongst our peers and luxury brands alike, and have been instrumental in our success worldwide. Familiar images of employees and friends from around the world—not models—allow us to express the diversity American Apparel is built on and an aspect of authenticity that is often lost in traditional advertising. Our provocative, real, unpretentious aesthetic has struck a chord with today's young trendsetters, and has drawn us an intensely loyal following, similar to that of Levi's in the 60's and 70's when they were breaking similar ground with an underserved generation.”- AA

Work Cited

Stacer, Laura Portwood. “Me, Only Better!”: Reality Makeover Television and Post-Feminist Gender Ideology