Awareness, you say?

This class, even in the limited amount of time that we had, helped me become more aware of the deep-rooted racism and sexism in the media. It also was a good learning experience to hear from my peers and see what some of them have to say about sensitive topics not normally discussed in a journalism course. The readings, videos, blog-posts, class presentations and lectures all made me think more critically about important issues/situations that have arisen and will continue to arise in my life.

Every topic of discussion throughout the class offered new angles and perspectives on things I have thought of many times in my life. When we talked about white privilege, I found myself thinking of all these things I take advantage of on a daily basis and wondering about how difficult it may be if I was a different color. The Disney discussion was interesting to me, although we obviously had some points of difference in the class. Watching The Blind Side was another thing that increased my awareness because I had not seen the movie before and probably would have never watched it had I not been in this course. It was a great example to show some of our society’s stereotypes and had a positive message reflective of the course.

As with many things in society today, we have a long way to go to better the equality and fairness standards in our media. But in general, I see the situation improving. With education and awareness to more people now than ever, the negative messages inside the media will gradually fade away with time. For those of us who go on to become producers of content for different mediums, putting this education and awareness into practice will end it quicker. Staying “out of the box” is something I would like to do for the rest of my life, but more importantly moving further and further away from the box, if that makes sense.

Final Project Video Link:

Interesting picture I found of an event held at OU last year.

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Weird world of advertising

I’ve never read Vogue magazine before and am not much of a magazine reader in general so this was a rather interesting assignment for me. One of the first and most alarming things that jumped out while thumbing through was how very little content there actually is. The entire thing is like one big catalog of advertisements with a few articles sprinkled in between. I think it should be the other way around, but I guess if they are making a large profit on advertising and people are picking up copies then it is working for them.

The first advertisement that stands out to me is for Dillards and pictures a beautiful, slender, leggy woman in a turquoise top and bikini making a sexy pose. The advertisement is for the clothes. This would seem all too standard but it jumped out at me because the entire background is solid white and it makes the woman look so tall and skinny. The phrase on the ad is, “The Style of Your Life”, yet I can’t imagine this woman being a very accurate portrayal of many women’s’ lives. I think the problem with the ad is that it pictures the skinniest possible woman and you can tell how much it has been touched up. Wouldn’t women want to see more realistic representations, not necessarily the 1% of women who weigh 90 pounds? These kinds of ads seem to enforce the idea that women should look this way and I find that wrong.

The second advertisement I found is for Garnier Nutrisse hair color cream. I picked this one because I think it does a good job of showing an advertising phenomenon we discussed in class about black women being “whitened”. I can’t say for certain that this woman isn’t actually this color, but it really looks as if parts of her body have been given a whitened glow. Even if this was the woman’s natural color, I still have found looking through this magazine that a LARGE majority of the models are white. This I would guess is because the advertisers realize that white women are the majority buying the magazine. If I was in charge of making these ads, I would show woman more in their natural color and state rather than changing every quality about them to create some fake woman.

The third advertisement I found is for Ralph Lauren Polo clothing. I picked this one because it shows how advertisers like to frame men. It seems they like to show the good-looking, angry, badass type in their ads. . The man in the ad has a serious look on his face and is flexing his arm. I don’t think it as big as a problem for men as it is for women, but in general these advertisements give off the impression that this is what we are supposed to be. I am not really sure who this ad is targeted for because I don’t know how many men read this magazine. I get the feeling that this is geared more towards men but I could see how woman would be interested in it as well.

Here is an interesting link to an article about how the European Union has handled sexism and advertising stereotypes.

Here is the video we discussed in class during the World Cup that is completely in Spanish. It is for Bing.

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Disney and Hip-Hop

I grew up watching Disney movies and know that they had some impact on me. When I was younger, my parents would put them on. I would also go to the theater occasionally to watch them. I went to Disney World, I watched the television shows, and I also was in love with many of the movies (Lion King, Peter Pan, Aladdin and others). It has been awhile since I have seen a Disney movie, but this post comes at a perfect time for me. Scrolling through the channels on TV, I am watching a documentary called, “The Pixar Story”, about the history of the Disney animation series. There is so much about Disney movies that has changed; the graphics, storylines, fantasy, and creativity. The content is more reflective of the world we live in today. While I recognize that Disney does impact it’s audience in a number of ways, I do not believe that movies made by Disney today or in recent years are “corrupting” kids minds, as this Catholic cleric said in 2008.

It seems to me that Disney has distanced itself from many of the things it used to do with its’ movies and has transitioned to be more diverse. Friendship, overcoming challenges, and other obvious positive messages are central to most every Disney movie. One of my favorite movies is Remember the Titans and I’ve always thought it sent a great message. Disney does have a way of framing things, especially in their portrayals of male/female relationships. This video shows a little of what I am talking about.

I have always loved certain styles of hip-hop music, and over the years have been with friends who listen to it exclusively. Hip-hop culture is very interesting to me because it embodies so many styles. I find myself agreeing with my friends who have listened to I their entire lives: hip-hop, specifically rap, has declined in quality significantly. I don’t know if it is because I do not like it as much or because it really isn’t as good, but the older days Notorious B.I.G, Tupac, and others made the style extremely special to me. There are good artists and songs out there today, but nothing really matches up to what it was before.

I have evolved into a huge electronic/trance/house fan, and much of what is played in certain styles of this music involves rap. It is usually mixed into the song. One of my favorite rappers is Whiz Khalif, so I leave you with my favorite song of his.

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Unfair Criticism

For a long time, I feel like I have unfairly criticized people for things they do and the way they act. My post today is really about trying to understand why people feel a need to spread such angry criticisms of things they couldn’t possibly understand even if they wanted to.

It happens all the time; people get blamed for things they have no control over. This can be as simple as a pizza delivery driver blamed for arriving late and getting tipped less to as complicated as an unemployed college graduate blaming Obama for not having a job.

My friend is a delivery driver for Pizza Shuttle here in Norman and says that IF people decide to tip(yes, isn’t it shocking that people wouldn’t tip someone who relies completely on tip money?), he is tipped significantly less if he arrives just 20 to 30 minutes or more after the order is placed. Before I knew Chris, I thought it was common practice to tip 10-15% at least to a pizza delivery driver, no matter what. I guess I can thank my restaurant-owning and understanding parents for this.

I have worked in the service industry in Dallas as a server/barista and received such brutal treatment from customers that it has made me never want to do it again, no matter the pay. Most of the things service-industry workers are blamed for are either not their fault, or a byproduct of the customer being misunderstood. There are terrible workers out there who couldn’t do their jobs even if they wanted to, but for the most part I’ve always been able to accept someone’s mistakes as long as they are trying their best in the circumstance.

Another thing that happened today that I seem to read about all the time with my friends and in the media is unfair criticism of government. I am a journalist, so ofcourse I think fair criticism of government is necessary for society to function successfully. But when did it become okay for people to blame their everyday problems and failures on people who are busting their ass every day to try to figure the problems we face today. I am a huge critic of our political system and how things never seem to get done on a multitude of issues, but I would never blame what I have now or the situation I’m in now on ONE individual in government.

I read on a friend’s Facebook page a status update that reads, “I’d like to thank all those who voted for OBAMA…. I have no JOB and he’s done nothing…!!!! If he gets re-elected I am moving out the country!”

I would hate for my personal political biases to shine through here, but I can’t honestly believe that someone could pinpoint their job situation on one person. The funny thing is that this Facebook status update has 61 responses after only 4 hours of being up, with many of them personal attacks involving race and absolute anger.

Look at this gem from that comment conversation: “I agree with everything you have said, it was a race issue. If he wasn’t black people wouldn’t have voted for him. He was underqualified and had little experience from the gate. The only “change” people voted for was the change for race in office. I am def proud I did not go with the majority on that one….not that it matters I’m still getting fucked like the rest of america. Did you watch his interview the other day where he literally said the words “I demand people to stop placing the blame on me for this oil spill” no joke, look it up…..enraging.”

Are you kidding me? And these people are voting and walking around among us. People who think Obama was voted in because he was black, and who also think he was under-qualified.

And just reading these things makes ME angry. It makes me want to respond. But whenever I have in the past with my own views and judgments on these issues, it turns into something unbelievably enormous.

This post, while not a complete rant, because I feel like I could go on for hours longer with 100 more examples, is exactly why I will never waste my time engaging with people of unfairly-critical mindsets.

This is what I mean by unfair criticism.  Everything they are standing around paid for by taxes :/

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White privilege and my perspective

I think one of the most alarming privileges I have received throughout my life as a white member of society is the benefit of not receiving extreme criticism for my poor performance at times in school. Being white has allowed me the benefit of people(teachers, parents, friends) constantly pushing me to do better. I know there is more to succeeding in school than race but it is important to realize that there are people in our society who use race to judge academic ability. This is an interesting privilege to receive because it has really shaped my perspective growing up.

My perspective on this issue is largely shaped by the different schooling systems I have been a part of. When I lived in Omaha, NE, I attended 4 different schools, 1 public, 2 private, from Kindergarten through 4th grade. In 5th grade I moved to Dallas to live with my mother and us not knowing exactly what the school systems would be like, I gladly enrolled in Onesimo Hernandez elementary, a public DISD school in inner-city Dallas. I was 1 of 2 “white” kids in a school of 300  or so people, with the other white kid being deaf and 2 grades below me. It was the craziest year I have ever experienced as an individual and a real eye-opener to the racially-divided aspects of life. The tables were turned, with me as a minority in the school, but the white privileges were still blatantly obvious. If I were to break down the school at that time by race, it would come out somewhere around 70% Hispanic, 20% African-American, 10% other. My white advantages are so clearly evident to me looking back on my time there. I was treated different than everyone else by the teachers, principals, and other students. I was perceived as smarter than the rest of the students. My schooling in Omaha beforehand made the work I did there so easy and I would get distracted and cause trouble.

During the summer after that 5th grade year, a year in which I had not learned much academically, but a ton about how the real world operates, my mom convinced me to transfer to a Catholic middle school in a different area of town from where we lived at the time. I went to Catholic school until 8th grade, but after a move to a nicer part of town with a better public school system, I decided to revert back to public school life. In all, I have been in 7 different school systems, not including OU. The constant movement has allowed me to meet so many different types of people and see so many examples of white privilege that it would be impossible to cover them all in this blog post.

There are a ton of examples in my life and I’m sure in yours where white privilege is evident. The McIntosh reading, Tim Wyze video and class discussion has really expanded my understanding of how white privilege affects the world.

Privilege is an important aspect of a race, gender and media class because it makes clear some of the advantages and disadvantages certain people face in society. Without understanding this, it would be extremely easy as a white individual to judge other people negatively and not factor in the disadvantages they may be facing. It seems to me that most people do not want to accept the idea that many of the things they have or have done is a byproduct of an advantage they were given in society. This is a touchy subject and one that must be approached with sensitivity. Even though some may be given advantages in society, hard work is still achieved.

Tim Wise’s reflection on the Arizona immigration bill really hit home to me. I, like Wise, had a privilege granted to me that could have been because of my race, although I am definitely not sure. I was pulled over for speeding on 12th the other day, and the cop took down all my information and saw my insurance and decided to give me a verbal warning. I was going at least 10 over the posted 35 speed limit, and wholeheartedly expected the warning. Being a white, cordial student, I have a strong suspicion he didn’t feel like hassling me. If it were someone of a minority, I highly doubt he would have let the person go.

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My interpretation of Lippman’s quote is that we use stereotypes as a defense mechanism to ensure our place in society. We categorize people into groups in order to make sense of the confusing situations we encounter in our daily reality. The position in society and the rights society has granted upon us influences the stereotypes we create and provides us with a fortress of comfort.

I definitely agree with the way Lippman defines stereotypes because it implicates the issue of self-respect and how we identify with a position in society. It shows how intertwined our thought process is to the feelings and emotions of stereotypes. I agree that with the overall message that stereotypes are strong forces inside of us that act on our personal experiences in the environment we have grown up in.

I think this describes contemporary media systems in that all mediums operate on the premise of stereotypes. Media can be a manipulative force and without proper engagement and analysis of how humans develop stereotypes and biases in their lives, journalists will never be able to overcome them. When we see clips in class of television shows or movies, like South Park, stereotypes play a huge role in how the show is produced as well as how it is perceived.

And now, a South Park clip about stereotypes. I can’t find a way to embed it into the blog, so here is the link.

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Topics of race and gender in the media

When topics of race and gender show up in the media, the actual issue usually ends up being put by the wayside and stereotypical portrayals are painted. It can be a movie’s portrayal of a certain race, a newspaper article written in a way that demeans a certain group of people or an advertising campaign on television that promotes and targets a stereotype.

The first example I have to show how uncomfortable America is discussing topics of race and gender is the recent law enacted in Arizona. The full text of the law can be viewed here.If you are not familiar with the bill, it basically authorizes law enforcement in Arizona to check anyone’s residency status if they look “suspicious”, or like an illegal alien, for basically any reason. I personally find it unconstitutional and I think it will be repealed by the Supreme Court. The media has been extremely divisive and split on how to cover the bill, with most all local media outlets reporting something a little different. I read often and there has been talk this past week about enacting a similar law for the state of Texas. The consequences of this to me are devastating and will move our society as a whole in the wrong direction. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out in the coming months.

The second example I see in the media that shows how controversial and divided we are on race and gender issues is a recent article in the Washington Post. The entire article is based around how woman didn’t make gender an issue in this year’s political campaigns. It references how this year could be the ‘year of the woman’. It has a lot of interesting facts about the general landscape of politics and how it is still extremely unbalanced in many states around the country as far as male/female representation. Here is the link.

The last example I have is more a general issue of TV commentators discussing people’s race or gender as meaningful in any way. I watch CNN, local news, television shows, and it is everywhere. So I leave you with an interesting Youtube video that includes some memorable racist moments on TV in recent years. Here is the link.

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