Monday, May 13, 2013

Merida Redesign

Hey guys. Just dropping this here. Merida's been redesigned by Disney for marketing purposes and this is what original creator Brenda Chapman has to say about it. She's not the only one who isn't thrilled.

Thanks for the great semester, everybody!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Weebly Link!

Hey all! I really enjoyed class this semester! Everyone is so awesome! If you want to take a look at our group's Weebly, click here! Have a great summer!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Blog Post #11: Teens Talk Back

Blog Post #11: A mix of various (Reflection meets Hyperlinks, and they go out for coffee)

It’s rather telling when several of the first responses to a google search of the phrase “teens talk back” are several parenting sites about controlling teen back-talk. This type of opinion permeates the internet; one that others teenagers as an out of control, rebellious, angst-ridden mess. A good portion of this appears to come from adult internet users.

But a lot of it comes from teens, too.

In fact, many teenagers seem to possess a certain amount of ageism against their peers, and they use various forms of social media to assert their opinions. Amongst submissions by (supposedly) teenagers for the “Teenagers” page of Urban Dictionary were varying impressions. One user argues that teenagers are (quoting verbatim) “Something im not proud to be, because a lot of teenagers are quite simply put; idiots.” Another says that a teenager is “Someone who has everything but appreciates nothing.” Conversely, a user claims they are “People who get no respect and are looked down upon because some of us are idiots.” Another discusses the issue in more detail, adding that “The word’s negative connotations stem from the actions of the minority of adolescents who typically display qualities and proclivities that can be construed as unappreciative, lame, and otherwise emo.” Amongst the respondents, the general consensus seems to be that “Like any age group, theres some good and some bad.” There’s this idea that there are some bad teenagers, but that most are okay.

Many of the users on the social media site Tumblr appear to be teenagers, too. Sometimes they perpetuate teen stereotypes: 

This one, similar the opinions on Urban Dictionary, perpetuates the idea that other teenagers are rambunctious, but the teenager creating the post is some exception to the rule.  Others lament the state of teenage-hood with quotes: “Teenagers are the most misunderstood people on Earth. We are treated like children but expected to act like adults.” Youtube also offers an outlet for teens to speak out. As we saw in a media artifact presentation, videos like “Teens React” show depict various teen opinions. Others post their own homemade videos, asserting their own autonomy in doing so.

Ultimately, while the media often promotes the dominate ideology belittling and “othering” teens, it still exists as an outlet for teenagers to talk back, even if it is in ways that both resist and reaffirm these opinions. That teenagers have the agency and opportunity to utilize these tools is at least a step in the right direction.


Whenever I look over posts and opinions about/from teenagers, I feel this weird disconnect. My experience never seemed to pay attention to any of those stereotypes. I don’t remember cheerleader cliques or football players ruling the school; it seemed like kids all just sat with their friends at lunch, regardless. My table alone had people who were athletes, band members, techies, etc., but that wasn’t what labeled them. Athletes (like cheerleaders) only wore their uniforms on game-days. Chorus and band kids weren’t treated as social outcasts; in fact, most athletes and A.P. students overlapped with various extracurriculars.  It wasn’t one or the other; it was band and football. Nobody (from my observations) seemed to care about any of that. Or maybe it was just me who didn’t, and I projected my beliefs on my classmates. But even as a teenager, I didn’t think teenagers were some weird, alien thing, as it seems so many teens think today.

Anyway, what were your memories of high school and teenage-hood? Did you see these stereotypes in the flesh?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Blog Post #10: Glee, hyperlinks

Blog Post #10: Glee, Hyperlinks

I feel like I should begin with a warning. From its inception until mere months ago, I was a faithful Glee viewer. Despite its lackluster (often plot-hole filled) writing, my mother and I stuck through, waiting patiently for the “good” episodes – the episodes that didn’t make us cringe; the ones where the music was inspiring and the writing was (at least) palatable. But months ago, I couldn’t take it anymore. I’d watched the show with a “pleasurable consumption” mindset: I was critical of its many flaws, but enjoyed certain aspects. A few months ago, the show did the thing that I really, really loathe. [Spoilers] They had a situation in which one of the girls (Marley) faints on stage, having made herself so ill because of her bulimia. Her mother is overweight and is mocked for it (though Marley defends her because she isn’t a complete tool – at least since I’ve last watched – unlike certain other characters), and another classmate (a cheerleader, of course) has taken to sewing up all of Marley’s clothes so that they’re getting smaller and smaller, so that Marley will think that she’s gaining weight, which prompts her to basically stop eating, rehearse non-stop, and induce vomiting (also brought on by the cheerleader). Although the Glee kids run off the stage to help her (and are disqualified from the competition), instead of being, you know, nice people, they blame her for their loss, making her feel worse (without anyone taking any action against her bully), and finally, in the last minute, they do the “right” thing and go to sing with her. And I was furious. Because they know better. They could have been, you know, decent people right off (or at least some of them could have­), but they weren’t and it was just awful. They took a girl who was already a wreck and basically made her feel a million times worse. And I was done. After years watching the show, I’d come to hate it (or at least aspects of it).

Rewatching these episodes has not really re-ensnared me. Too many plot holes. Like the slushies. If anybody – anybody – in my school had thrown a slushie in someone’s face, they would have been suspended so fast their head would spin. And no one would let Sue talk to the kids like that. But they were right about the lack of enforcement on bullying, which is still a major problem today. Will was basically useless. From what I remember, he never even tried to talk to Karofsky himself, merely coming up to Kurt after and asking him if he was okay. And I think that is probably true of a lot of high school teachers. They don’t really deal with it in a productive manner. Instead of having some kind of restorative program for the bully, the kid gets a slap on the wrist (or, more likely now that it’s a major media issue, some over-the-top punishment). Rather, maybe some therapy or anger management classes would do better. Or at least, maybe, making the kid come once a week after school to talk about his or her bullying, think about it from their victim’s point of view (write about it, maybe), and try to instill some empathy in the kid. (I have my own reasons for disagreeing with any legalized punitive actions, because giving the police more power is just opening a new can of worms; and God knows the majority of the people they arrest would be teens of color, because that’s how the system works, which could possibly tie to Rose in her discussion of how original hip-hop was a form of resistance – and how it should still be, because that stuff still happens).

This post is already getting a bit long, so I’m going to tie the latter two Glee episodes to the Kimmel reading. Karofsky (a middle class white boy) bullies Kurt because he feels his masculinity is threatened. He acts out violently (and threatens to “kill” Kurt) because he’s afraid of his own sexual orientation. This falls right in line with Kimmel’s discussion that gender and masculinity are major factors in school violence. Karofsky was so deeply socialized to believe in the hegemonic masculine role (straight, white, Christian, male, etc) that he lashed out. If the he hadn’t been brought up to see homosexuality as some kind of “othered” threat to his masculinity, he wouldn’t have acted the way he did. 

Glee does connect to the course theme Media Matters. Glee has many opportunities to promote positive messages. The show is extremely popular and reaches broad audiences of varying ages. In fact, I think its promotion of LGBTQ characters is further than many shows on today (for example, Santana had a wonderful character development, for the most part, if I remember correctly). I think it sometimes drops the ball, but usually it does well in this regard, and was one of the reasons I watched it for as long as I did.

For class:

What do you think of Glee’s overall messages? Positive portrayal of characters? Bad writing aside, do you think it makes a difference?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Talking Points #9: Tricia Rose, Arguement

Talking Points #9: Tricia Rose, Hip-Hop Wars 


In both her video text and TIMES interview, Rose discusses the history and controversies surrounding hip-hop, particularly in regards to race, gender, and class. Both texts center on different aspects of hip-hop’s history. In the video, Rose talks about how the original hip-hop records started – on the basketball courts, with players recording their rhymes over the B-sides of other records, and then others dubbing and recording over theirs. There was, apparently, argument over whether people were stealing others’ ideas because of this, which Rose argues is false, explaining that the new version is fundamentally different than all others, and that in other countries where hip-hop is even more prevalent, there can be thousands upon thousands of different versions of “the same song.” Further, she discusses hip-hop’s community ties in her interview. Because the music was often shared during community block parties, the demographics of listeners were very different than the audiences of today. Back when hip-hop first started, it had to be written for all ages, as listeners could vary from age twelve, to age thirty, to age seventy. This had a drastic effect on the subject matter, and omitted much of what is popular in today’s hip-hop – songs about violence and disrespecting women, which are what sell currently on the market.

Rose also argues that the capitalism is the root of this. Popular music is music that sells, and what sells in North America is violence and sex. The ones in charge of what music plays are the ones with the money, and therefore the ones with the power. And they want to keep that power. They benefit from promoting the hegemony that people of color are violent and that women are sex objects, both in immediate financial gain and in maintenance of power by keeping said groups oppressed. At least, that’s what I took from her words. The point that she emphasizes is the most incorrect about hip-hop is the issue of violence. She says that many people argue that hip-hop causes violence, but that such a connection is simpleminded in thinking about a causal relationship between the two. She agrees that violence is a problem, but posits that the problems stem from the instability created in black communities after the 1960s, and that it is a result of structural racism and rampant economic disadvantage. Rose also explains that in terms of the hip-hop wars, both parties are wrong, though that the critics are more-so. The defenders overlook the problems with gender and sexism while the critics are wrong about violence and culture. She believes the only way out of this war is developing an educated and subtle position about the wrongs and rights of hip-hop.


I honestly don’t know very much about hip-hop (aside from what I’ve learned in these texts), so all of this is pretty new to me. However, I do think Rose makes very intelligent arguments on the subject. I’m particularly interested in the connection to capitalism, because even in the world of hip-hop it seems like the root of all evil. So, Class, what do you think? Are you a Defender? A Critic? Somewhere in the middle? Do you think Rose is correct about hip-hop being in the ICU ward.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Blog Post #8: Masculinity and Teen Violence

Blog Post #8: Masculinity and Teen Violence
Extended Comments: Linette 

This week’s blog will be an extended comment on Linette’s post. Like Linette, I agree that socialization is more to blame than biology. Society’s construction of gender is extremely damaging to boys as well as girls, but in different ways. Boys are taught to be assertive (and often violent), fostered by a “boys will be boys” mentality; when they “play fight” as children, it is viewed as natural in a way that it wouldn’t were two little girls fighting instead. Further, from a young age they learn that stoicism and manliness are one in the same. As Linette notes, they are taught to keep their emotions bottled up, as “boys don’t cry.” In fact, when boys do cry, they are compared to girls (as “crybabies”), which, they learn, is a “bad” thing – and, thus, gender is even more securely rooted in their heads as “male” or “female,” with no in-between, rather than as something fluid and constructed by society. That they feel the need to protect their "manliness" in the event of the "gay-baiting" discussed in the article is the fault of society for purporting such homophobic, gender-rigid ideals.

(An aside: on Easter this year, I watched my cousin M (who’s my age, 21) play with my cousin B (who is five). Cousin M looked over at my uncle (B’s father) and commented on the blue smeared on B’s lips from a lollipop, noting that it looks like lipstick. He turned to B and told him that lipstick wasn’t something that boys wear. When I chimed in that anyone could wear lipstick, I heard him sigh (I could practically feel the eye-roll) and reiterate his point to B. Further arguing over the damaging nature of gender roles ensued, which ended in M’s counter of my “boys can wear makeup, too” (and something about gender being a construct of society): “of course it’s possible, anyone could wear makeup, but I could jump off a cliff, too, and I don’t.” And, of course, more debating occurred (not particularly intellectual on anyone’s end, because everyone except B -- the only under-aged person in the whole building -- was drinking). But I was struck by how sad it was. When we were five, M and I used to play dress up with my dance outfits and princess costumes (there is photographic evidence) and, other times, pretend we were adventurers or superheroes (“Puppy Boy and Kitten Girl”). Whatever I liked, I passed along to M, who also enjoyed it (regardless of whether it was “girly” or not). He didn’t start acting the way he does now until being ridiculed by my brother and his friends (around middle school age, I believe), who thought he was whiny; they wanted to “help” him (to “fix” him). M wasn’t born with the inherent mindset to be “tough” and “manly;” he was taught this. And, not only is it sad, in regards to my worry for B and the gender roles he’s seeing, it’s very telling of society in general).

Not my cousin. But messages on pictures like this (like "future embarrassment guaranteed") make me sad. Because, of course this little kid should feel embarrassed for dressing like a girl. So icky! Why would anyone want to be a girl? Ugh. I should stop before this turns into a full-blown rant....

Anecdote aside, Linette is correct about the gender divide of “boys” to be damaging for males, too. She notes that it implies that they cannot control their actions; in a way, this means that men are being infantilized, in a way, as we brush off their misbehavior as part of natural behavior (again, “boys will be boys”). This reminds me of rape culture, in the arguments that girls have to watch what they wear because boys can’t control themselves; this is damaging for both genders. Boys can control their actions (even if they were taught as children that it’s their natural disposition); when they rape, it’s a choice. They should be insulted by the argument that they are so out of control that they are incapable of decision making. Kimmel notes in his article that the one striking difference between the genders is a propensity for violence. Males (as noted by the school shootings) are far more likely to lash out violently than females. Fostering empathy in both boys and girls as children as well as allowing them to express their emotions and dismantling dominant ideas of "masculinity" would make the world a safer place.

Finally, I like that Linette points out that feminism is actually helps men.  I’ve heard the anti-girl argument before in regard to education (did you know in some Ivy schools boys are receiving “affirmative action” because the schools want to keep the gender balance equal? More girls are applying than boys – and more girls meet their standards than boys – but they want to keep things even… or so they say). Some people assert that girls excelling academics are damaging to boys in the classroom, and that classrooms are more suited to benefit girls than boys. Regardless, feminism does, in fact, promote equality for girls and boys, as well as the healthy expression of emotions.

Questions for class:

Out of curiosity, what do you think of boys receiving “affirmative action” to keep the gender structure in Ivy schools 50/50? Further, how do you think we could go about challenging this ideology of “boys will be boys?” Do you think that preventing this damaging hegemony of boys as naturally violent from reaching children will help to change things?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Blog Post #7: Brave and Cinderella Ate My Daughter

Blog post #7: Connections

Peggy Orenstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter reminded me of Christensen’s “Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us” and Croteau’s “Media and Ideology.” Further, Brave, which we viewed in class, relates to these texts.

Like Christensen’s piece, Orenstein’s discusses the negative messages purported through Disney Princesses, centering on the desire to ultimately win a man. Christensen notes the same thing about the various interpretations of Cinderella/Cindy Ellie, in that the message remains the same: that beauty is important and getting a man should be a main goal in life.  The only part of Orenstein’s princesses analysis I would nit-pick is her discussion of princesses’ lack of female camaraderie with other women. While this is true for 99.99% of these characters, it should be noted that, despite the many criticisms of Tiana and The Princess and the Frog in general, one of the aspects I admired most was Tiana’s friendship with Charlotte. There is no girlfighting amongst them, to my memory. Charlotte genuinely loves Tiana and vice versa. Even better, they don’t fight over the male love interest. Charlotte only wants to help. That is, as noted, if my memory serves right. And if so, then at least that example does depict positive relationships amongst girls. Orenstein, like Christensen, discusses the impact Disney Princesses have on children, but also talks about the gender division of toys and merchandising (fueled, in my humble opinion, by capitalist greed and corruption), indicating the affect these influences have on children, both boys and girls.

In this way, to me, it connects to Croteau. As she speaks about the pink-ifiying of toys, it seems as though these companies are attempting to create a new hegemony for gendered toys (because as Orenstein notes, it increases profit by impelling parents to buy the same product twice for separate children, for example, a blue bat for a boy and a pink one for a girl). These capitalist enterprises are trying to make “girls” and “pink” synonymous, indicating that a love of “pink” is “natural;” in fact, several of the people Orenstein speaks with admit as much about their opinions, claiming that they’re just giving girls what they want. I, of course, operate under the opinion that gender segregation of toys is damaging (and that Sweden is correct in their gender-neutral advertising). But I digress.

Merida from Brave is interesting in regards to all of these texts. On one hand, the background characters of the movie are depicted in gender segregated roles: the males are the ones that go off to battle, hunting down the bears, and are rowdy and quick to fight while the women are seen doing domestic work, such as working in the kitchens, or acting as dancers during the festivities rather than performing more masculine sports, but are also level headed in regards to fighting (though that poor maid is clearly traumatized by the end). However, unlike the other Disney Princesses, Merida does not seek to find a man. Although her mother (and most of society –except for her father) pressures her to choose a husband, she ultimately is allowed to fall in love in her own time, when she is ready, which defies the messages of the other movies. Merida doesn’t have a Disney Prince, and this movie doesn’t focus on one (like, say, Aladdin – which, side note, I still love despite valid criticism). It should be noted, however, that Brave is a gender neutral name. I remember hearing that Tangled was renamed from something like Princess Rapunzel to attempt to bring in more male audience members; likely something similar happened with Brave just as it’s happening with Frozen (and upcoming Pixar/Disney Princess movie). This is interesting because it reinforces the message from Orenstein’s piece: that girls will buy products for boys, but boys won’t buy products for girls (despite that they like them) because there’s something wrong with being a girl. As she notes, her “progressive” friend will proudly give his daughter Matchbox toys, but balks at giving his son a skirt. And it should go without saying that there is something fundamentally wrong with this opinion on girls and femininity.

Finally, I feel the need to comment on the toy production for Brave. As a cashier, I can say with confidence that they used to, at least, sell toy bows for Merida. I remember that one being a big seller a while back. It was this little plastic bow affixed to a shiny blue cardboard piece; I recall, particularly, because I wished I could have had one when I was little. However, I find it troubling that a quick search of the Walmart website now has Merida dolls and a “Disney Brave Merida Royal Dress.” Though, the dolls do come with bows and arrows. One of them is called the “Disney Brave Fashion Play Doll,” which, like Orenstein notes with Mulan and her dress, Merida (as a character) would likely be appalled to be a “fashion” anything.


I’m interested in how everyone else in the class interpreted Brave: what crtiticms did you find in it? Do you think it presents positive messages? Is it a step forward? What about Orenstein’s piece? Do you agree with what she says about Disney Princesses or do you see a benefit in them? What about the pinkification of toys?

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Despite have racked my brain since the announcement of a final project (i.e. the first day of class), I’m still not sure what I want to do for my project. To be completely honest, I’m still not quite sure of the parameters for the project (though I have read the blurb in the syllabus).

One of my ideas was studying LGBT teens in graphic novels to see if they embody any of the discourses discussed by Raby; but I’m not sure if that will yield any results. I would mostly be using a convenience sample of the books I have: Young Avengers, Runaways, Avengers Academy, any of my Teen Titans comics, and anything else I could scrounge up. I do have a bit of an aversion to convenience samples because they’re not particularly scientific; however, if I’m only trying to demonstrate what I’ve learned in the course, it could be feasible.

In a similar vein, I was considering choosing a text that deals with teens to look for messages (in regard to Croteau and Christensen’s talk of socialization and messages in the media). I’m leaning more toward this. The texts I was pondering include: Princeless (which deals more with gender and race in comics than teenage-hood, though the protagonist is a teen), Teen Wolf (don’t laugh, but I could examine it partially with Raby’s discourses, or look at it in terms of heteronormativity- or, in many instances in the show, lack thereof), or an animated superhero show (one that deals with teens, like Static Shock, Teen Titans, or Young Justice, to look at the messages they purport both about teens and to their audience of viewers). Heck, even looking into children’s television in general interests me and would be enjoyable to study.

In terms of resources, I own all of the comics listed, though my local library could also be a resource if I expanded my sample; he entirety of Teen Wolf is available through Netflix and the MTV website; all of the episodes of Static Shock are on Youtube; and I’m a master of finding programs online, so I have no doubt I could find Teen Titans, Young Justice, or any other show, if need be.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Midterm Prezi Link

Hello Friends,

Here's the link to CK, Daury, and my Prezi! If you have any problem opening it, let me know!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Midterm Details


For the midterm assignment, I am working with Daury and CK; we chose to complete prompt three of the suggested prompts. Thus, we will be illustrating the three course assumptions: Media Matters, Youth is a Culturally Constructed Category, and Teenagers are Not Some Alien Life Form. As such, we divided the work three ways, each focusing on a particular section. In our meeting after class on Thursday we hammered out some of the details. We are sending our notes back and forth for the others to comment on and contribute to, and we have begun creating our Prezi. This is the first time any of our group members have worked with the program, so it is taking a little while to get used to, but I think it is going reasonably well so far; I'm still figuring out all of the controls and how to arrange it, but I should turn out nicely.  Ultimately, we are on schedule with our work; our goal is to have most of it done by Monday, and we will be meeting again to make sure everything is going smoothly. Aside from that, I can't really think of anything to add. Good luck, everybody

Friday, February 22, 2013

Blog Post #5: Wesch

Blog Post #5: Reflection:

Wesch certainly has a way with words. His TED talk engages the viewer, and his use of technology certainly cemented his point.  In fact, his talk is very inspirational, in that he starts off by citing the mindset that many people probably face (that the world is on fire) and concludes his discussion by finishing up the story (that the combined efforts of many – motivated by the efforts of one individual – can stop the fire).

I liked that he pointed out the irony of the Dove commercial (a video of a beauty company criticizing the beauty industry); at the same time, I can appreciate that Dove provided that commentary to the general public, because it’s a thing that most people don’t even notice. We’re subjected to so very many advertisements every day that they become ingrained in us to the point where they’re almost “natural.” As a sociology student, when I saw the commercial I thought about the benefit a video like that can have on de-brainwashing people; on waking them up from that trance; how something like that could help and prevent children from being susceptible to that brand of advertising (and the subsequent self-esteem and body issues that come with it).

Indeed, I viewed its parody in a similar way. It made me think back to my own childhood, and I wondered if my favorite Dr. Seuss book, The Lorax, effected my views on the environment and deforestation; which further made me think about the socializing effect of children’s books (as a form of media); and how children are so easily influenced. And this brought me to how the modern technological era will affect the kids growing up right now.
Plus, the Dove spoof video provided a great example of his message: that such efforts can make change! That one person can make an impact. Technology can be used as a new vehicle for saving the world, especially when infused with teaching young people to be knowledge-able rather than simply knowledgeable. Although it isn’t easy to “connect, organize, share, collect, collaborate, publish” in real life, the media does make it technologically easier to do such things. This harkens back (to me) in fan-campaigns. While this doesn’t quite compare to changing the world and fixing the problems within it, I still love seeing the power of a good fan-campaign, because it’s an example directly relevant to me that working together can accomplish goals. Right now, for example, there are several campaigns in motion to save the shows Green Lantern: the Animated Series and Young Justice (whose cancellation you might have read about before on my blog).

One of these efforts (my favorite of the bunch) is sending toys (preferably superhero toys) to a charity. They’re calling it Heroes for Heroes. The goals are that it will: 1. Make a bunch of kids happy, 2. Produce sales for the show’s merchandise, which will make the network happy (but doing it in a way that helps other people so that it doesn’t feel like a waste), and 3. If enough people send things in, perhaps receive media attention. I, personally, am a fan of hitting multiple targets with one arrow. But Wesch’s talk reminded me that fifteen years ago, that kind of campaign wouldn’t have been possible (or would have at least been far more difficult), because all of the organization was done online and there wouldn’t have been another way for the fans to connect and collaborate to accomplish the goals. (FYI, I won’t know if the Heroes for Heroes campaign is a success for about a week or two probably, because the send in date was today so the charity hasn’t even received the toys yet. Mine should get there by Tuesday, but that’s with 2-day-shipping from Amazon, so it might be about a week before the others get there). 

I pic of some of the stuff I sent in.

Questions, comments, Concerns?

Perhaps in class or in the comments we could further discuss the impact of having technology in the classroom. Do you, like Wesch, think that it will be an overall benefit if utilized correctly? Or do you think it will cause the majority of the population to fall into a techno-zombie –like state? How do you think we could use technology to change the world?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Blog Post #4

Blog Post 4: Quotes:
“While this is largely a history of roles and expectations, the teenagers I’m discussing aren’t some exotic species—they’re real people. And that’s what makes them so difficult to deal with,” (Hine 3).

Hine emphasizes throughout his piece the importance of viewing teenagers as people; indeed, he asserts that teenage-hood is simply a stage of development, not its own entity. Further, his quote connects to our class more tangibly by embodying our third class assumption: “Teenagers are not some alien life form.” He identifies such in almost the same terms, claiming that they aren’t “some exotic species.” Throughout his piece, Hine makes sure to emphasize that teen-aged is just an age (between 13 and 19) and that those who fall in that category vary in levels of maturity; as such, he criticizes standardizing though use of “age.” Ultimately, the ambiguity of teenage-hood (that teenagers are treated as both children and adults, and yet as neither) leads to problems in treating them as individuals, instead of as a collective.

“Only by looking at people in their teens in the centuries before there were teenagers is it possible to understand how artificial the concept of teenager is,” (Hine 5).

Early in his piece, Hine notes that his examination is viewed through a historical lens; this is referenced several times, when he compares teenagers in the 1990s to teenagers in the 1940s, and 1960s, and 1970s. As such, he indicates that how teenagers are viewed varies by when the teenagers are viewed. Each timeframe provides a different culture and a different attitude. As such, I would argue the futility in comparing teenagers from the 1940s and present day teenagers, as the social milieu in which they are comprised completely differs. Indeed, this also connects to another in-class assumption: “Youth is a culturally constructed category.” Thus, the cultural frame in which we view society effects how society views “youth” (teenagers).

“What we seem to believe is that today’s teenagers are uniquely threatening” (Hine 13).

Hine points out that today, teenagers are viewed as more of a threat. He points out that concerning school shootings, the vast majority were committed by teenage boys. However, he also notes that violence was also prevalent in the past, but at the time the weapons utilized were pocket knives, not semi-automatic machine guns, and thus could only harm one person at a time (rather than a whole slew of people in moments). I would argue that the media is also used as a tool to blow things out of proportion. Similar problems probably occurred in the past, but were not as widely known about (personal opinion). It’s not that teenagers are more threatening “now;” it’s that they’re viewed as more threatening.


I thought what Hine mentioned about the juxtaposition between how the media portrays teenage sexuality and how people want teenage sexuality to actually be was particularly interesting. Ads always over-sexualize teenagers (the ad with thatgirl from Dawson’s Creek that we saw in class is an easy example! -- note, the ad linked is a different ad then the one shown in class, but has the same things we noticed); yet, various schools try/tried to promote abstinence as the only form of birth control (which is just a whole bundle of issues I’m not even going to start in on). I find the irony very amusing.

Update: here's a copy of three ads with that Katie Holmes girl from Dawson's Creek:

Works Cited

Hine, Thomas. The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager. New York: Bard, 1999.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blog Post #3

Blog Post #3: Quotes

Raby’s article “A Tangle of Discourses: Girls Negotiating Adolescence” happened to serendipitously coincide with both the current subject matter of one of my other classes, as well as of the subject matter of a class I took several years ago.

In regard to the first, the connection is in a pseudo-inconsequential way. At this stage in the semester, my Senior Seminar in Sociology happens to be discussing interviewing as a form of qualitative analysis. As this study also happened to incorporate that technique, the Methodology was reasonably engaging.

As to the latter connection, that is to the course Adolescent Literature (consisting of studying young adult fiction), which I attended many, many moons ago.  Funnier is that after class on Thursday I ran into my professor from that course (the wonderful Dr. Cook). Ultimately, though, several aspects of Raby’s piece reminded me of themes we discussed in that course. 

The major overarching theme of the class (when I took Adolescent Literature) was “power,” and the various dynamics involved. This plays well with what Raby discusses on page 443 of her article in her section on Agency. Raby explains that of the five discourses she discusses (storm, becoming, at-risk, social problem, and pleasurable consumer), “the storm creates an understanding of teenagers as powerless in the face of the inevitable tempest of hormones and uncertainties that they must cope with,” (Raby 443). Although much of my previous course is blurry, I find the pattern of the relation between “power” and “adolescence” intriguing.

This also connects to her discussion of rebellion versus resistance. She explains that rebellion is associated with teenagehood and given negative connotations, whereas resistance (less infantilized) is not. Instead, she insists that “teenage rebellion should often actually be understood as resistance” (Raby 446). This would help reduce the stereotyping of teenagers as an alien life form (as we discuss in class) and more greatly legitimize them as people in their own right.

As a side, I should note that the results her interviewing yielded somewhat surprised me, in that my experience with “adolescence” was far less dramatic. Even when I was a teenager myself, I didn’t quite think in the same terms as the girls Raby spoke with. I believed as a whole that, like people in general, the majority of us were decent people. Occasionally there was a kid or a group of kids that did something dumb, but (usually) that was just a stupid decision on their part and rarely out of malice. Or perhaps my view of teenagehood was skewed by the group of kids I usually hung around with; we were often too busy stressing over term papers to care about the goings-on of our fellow classmates. It was pretty drama-less (with the exception of stress from homework, and flailing about whatever was happening in the shows I was watching and the books I was reading, because Fandom). Also, my mom is really liberal, so I never had a reason to resist (or “rebel”), and figured that most of the kids who did probably had a reason to (like, that their parents weren’t giving them enough freedom to make decisions, or something). But… yeah. I digress.

In class, I’d like to further discuss the breaking down of teenage stereotypes. Indeed, I’d also like to discuss the ways in which the media portrays the five facets Raby describes (storm, becoming, at-risk, social problem, and pleasurable consumer), and how it feeds in or negates these stereotypes. Perhaps we can also discuss whether we think these portrayals are ultimately positive or negative.

Works Cited

Raby, Rebecca C. "A Tangle of Discourses: Girls Negotiating Adolescence." Journal of Youth Studies 5.4 (2002): 425-48

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Strong Female Protagonist

Hey ya'll! If you're looking for an engaging web comic to read, look no further than Strong Female Protagonist. It's wonderful. Link is in the name.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Perfect Rec is Perfect

Hey ya'll,
For anyone who's interested, here's a link to the first issue of Princeless, a beautiful, wonderful, pretty-much perfect comic book featuring a fantastic protagonist.

I've only read the first issue so far, but I'm planning to buy the trade soon. Princeless stars protagonist Princess Adrienne and her dragon Sparky, and is both funny and thoughtful.

Seriously though. Read the first few pages, at least. Then you'll be hooked. Trust me. The first two pages are posted below for your convenience (I couldn't find page 3, sadly). Check them out!

Here's a link to a wonderful interview by the author.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Second Blog Post! (take a looksie, if you'd like)

Reflection (though it actually ended up more like a Hyperlink post):

Linda Christensen’s “Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us” strongly resonates with me. As an aficionado of animated television programs, I have, for the past few years, been looking at cartoons and children’s programs from a similar lens. In fact, I’m kind of programed to observe such details regularly in the shows I watch (much to the annoyance of my mother who often just wants to sit back and enjoy them, especially after a long day of work; and who doesn’t particularly want to hear me rant about why [inset show title here] really dropped the ball on that subject or how those characters on [insert show title here] are presenting negative stereotypes).

Like Christensen’s students, I have also looked back at the programs that have influenced me; but unlike her students, I did not struggle with this. It’s pretty clear in my life how television programs have shaped me. When I was obsessed with Dragonball Z, I was always frustrated that of my dozens of action figures, I had only three girls (Android 18, Bulma, and Gohan’s girlfriend Videl or something). While my cousin would flaunt his Vegeta toy, the characters I had were clearly inferior on the show, so when we played his toy would go “Super Saiyan” and defeat mine with ease, as the only one that even stood a chance was Android 18.

But I loved action shows; so when Powerpuff Girls and Kim Possible came into existence, I was thrilled to have female-led superhero shows to fall back on. And while both shows likely have their instances of negativity, they also have episodes that packed powerful messages. On Powerpuff Girls at least (which I have recently rewatched), there are at least two episodes that had strong, feminist messages. One involved a female thief who tries to convince the sisters to hate men in order to get away with stealing Susan B. Anthony coins; not only are the girls taught a lesson by three of their female role models, the episode also provide a history lesson about Susan B. Anthony and her quest for equality (the episode is called “Equal Fights”). Further, in another episode called “Members Only” had the girls attempt to prove themselves to their heroes in the Association of World Super Men (AWSM), only to have the misogynistic group turn them away (despite besting them in each challenge).

If you watch the clip, you’ll see the beautiful exchange as the girls best the stereotyped household gender roles. The episode ends with the AWSM being unable to defeat their opponent and the girls having to save them and the planet. At the end, the AWSM begs the girls to join their team.

When she discusses the newer Disney animated films, I nodded in agreement; regardless of how enjoyable Aladdin and Pocohontas are, I can see their problematic parts. I did, however, want to read more about her analysis of Mulan, as it remains my favorite Disney film, and I’m interested seeing which aspects she finds troubling.

Her section on the Black Cinderella brought to mind several thoughts. She explains the negative messages of Cinderella, but also gives an example of an improved (though still far from perfect) modern rendition of Cinderella staring Cindy Ellie, which is more culturally and socially conscious. Her description made me want to read this story, but it also makes me want to write my own retelling of Cinderella in which the central message isn’t how-to-get-your-man and that beauty-is-everything. This section also reminded me of a made-for-TV version of Cinderella that I still have yet to see, but which stars a multi-racial cast. Thus far, I have only seen gifs from it (via Tumblr), but the parts that I have glimpsed look (at least slightly more) promising than the original Disney version.
[start at four minutes in until about five minutes in]

It also made me think of another modern retelling that starts a male person of color and has a completely different (better) message.

I like that Christensen then transitions into what to do with this newfound knowledge. After all, it’s true that knowing there are problems but not knowing how to go about making change is frustrating. Wisely, she first describes her students’ irritation with seeing through the glass screen (see what I did there? Tying it back to class? Yup, I’m that good); she then explains how she helped them channel their outrage in productive ways. 


While I enjoyed the article, I would like to emphasize that while most animated programs have some kind of flaw in depiction, there do exist some exceptions. While I watch all shows with a critical eye, there are moments when I’m quite proud of the messages the shows are producing. For example, while Gravity Falls could use more characters of color, there is a scene at the end of the first episode (after siblings Mabel and Dipper defeat their adversary together) in which the twins are allowed to each pick whichever item they’d like from their great uncle’s shop:


And Mabel (proving herself more than two-dimensional) choses the grappling hook, which I especially approve of because she isn’t defined by gender roles. She likes wearing her bright colored sweaters and cute outfits but she also will chose a grappling hook over a doll without any difficulty.

Indeed, one show (recently cancelled, go sign this petition to save it please!) that typically displays both a decent amount of female characters, persons of color, and presents characters from various socio-economic backgrounds is the show Young Justice. First season, the leader of the team is Aqualad (Kaldur, a person of color), and another one of the leads is Artemis, who is half Vietnamese (and also from a low income family, as evidenced when she receives a scholarship to a prestigious prep school and attends to make her mother happy, despite feeling very uncomfortable in her new setting). The character Rocket (also a woman of color) appears several times at the end of the season. Better, in the second season we’re introduced to a variety of new leads, including Jaime Reyes (Blue Beetle) and Karen Beecher (Bumblebee), and if the show progresses we will be seeing much more of Virgil Hawkins (Static Shock), whom we’ve only met briefly thus far.

Only a the first season characters are included above, but the characters Young Justice includes are typically reasonably varied and diverse; and when they divide into teams, I don’t remember a time when there wasn’t at least one person of color included (whether it be Jaime, Kaldur, or Karen); and while they could include more female characters, the ones they do include at least portrayed well and not as token females, like many other shows. Animated programs do have a long way to go, but they are (slowly) progressing.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Want to do me a favor, Friends?

Hey ya'll!

So, recently I found out two favorite shows of mine have not been renewed for the next season (despite a strong, devoted fanbase). We're trying to show the network the support behind the show, so I was wondering if anybody would be kind enough to sign this petition. It'll take you less than a minute and I'd really appreciate it!

(Yeah, they're animated programs, but they're also some of the best quality works on television at the moment, and if you get a chance you should check them out: Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series).

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Blog Post Numero Uno: An Argument of Media-Sized Proportions

Croteau’s “Media and Ideology” argues about the importance of media and the ideologies surrounding it. The author first explains that there are various definitions of ideology, including but not limited to those used in everyday language as well as those used for academic pursuits. In regard to the media, we are examining its depictions as a collective, not on in individualized basis. As such, s/he asserts that we analyze this ideology for better understanding ourselves and society as a whole. Croteau goes on to discuss how people utilize the media for their own purposes and thus it becomes a scapegoat when the messages it’s forced to purport offend people’s own opinions/ideologies (or ways of thinking).

Next, the author discusses the idea of dominant ideology, and whether or not the media is culpable in its spread. Because each person possesses his or her own opinions, the media is viewed as controversial and people argue that it is being used to further specific ideologies that offend others, such as (for reasons that are still unfathomable to me) homosexuality, abortion, and capital punishment. Ultimately, Croteau’s argument comes down to the idea that ideology normalizes behaviors.  For some, this causes fear, because their delicate sensibilities are offended when they see two girls kissing on television, and they are afraid that if people realize there is nothing wrong with it, it will become a normal part of daily life (as it should. Side note: my blog, my opinion. Deal with it).

Finally, this ties with Croteau’s argument on hegemony and what people consider natural or unnatural. The idea of hegemony comes from Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, who claimed that ruling groups can retain their power through force, consent, or some combination of the two, and operates at a “common sense” level of thinking. As such, our expectations for social life come from the things we believe are “natural.” Croutea brilliantly debunks this notion with examples that society once believed (and in some cases still believes) are natural: that women are better nurturers than men, that “you can’t fight city hall,” and that “moderate” positions are more reasonable than “extreme” positions. Ideology that is considered “natural” gains a form of legitimacy that makes it difficult to usurp. S/he makes note that racism, homophobia, and sexism are born from these “natural” beliefs that some people (white heterosexual males) are better than others.  Thus, what society believes is natural is the foundation for hegemony; and, luckily, hegemony is not unchangeable.

Thus, from this I take away that although media can be used as a tool to normalize images (for both better and worse), it can also be utilized to make change. For example: while watching Glee, a relative of mine who previously seemed a bit uncomfortable with homosexuality found herself ultimately rooting for “Klaine” (Kurt and Blaine, a gay couple), something she wouldn’t have done prior to watching the show. As such, her views have progressed to slightly less prejudiced on that subject, and I maintain hope that this type of development will continue. Despite its many flaws, shows like Glee can be helpful in breaching and devilifying concepts that certain groups consider “unnatural” and normalizing it for the masses. While it may occasionally drop the ball on subjects that could really use better spotlighting, shows like Glee could lead the way for normalizing things (like homosexuality) that really should already be normalized in popular culture, because, seriously, why is this still an issue? Although it may not have been Crouteau’s point, I am entirely in favor of tricking people into realizing their opinions are bigoted and illogical through use of the media. (Yes, this did turn into a very mini-rant. Certain subjects set me off. Don’t get me started on certain government legislation on related subjects. Trust me).