Monday, February 24, 2014

Talking Points #3 on Gilbert: A Cycle of Outrage- James Gilbert (Quotes/Connections)

In “A Cycle of Outrage”, James Gilbert beings Chapter 1: A Problem of Behavior with a blast to the past recollection of when Look tried to help parents figure out how to tell if certain teens were delinquents or not. They did this by printing common teenage lingo and what it meant so that adults could better understand their language.

1. “It’s purpose was to analyze the unfamiliar and make it less threatening (p.12).”

I believe this quote sums up the goal of most institutions and media texts, like Life, and the Ladies Home Journal, but I also think this quote sums up all of history, as well. From war to women, humans have always tried to isolate something, nitpick at it, and form (often false) conclusions about it. This may seem like a good idea when despair is around, but doing this with teenagehood set the groundwork that labeled teens as “unfamiliar” and as an alien life form— one of our course themes. Now parents and adults could look at teens as if they were a subject matter in some type of research study, rather than as their children. They could analyze and pick apart their children’s actions to better understand them, but really all this did was set them apart even more.

2. “On top of curiosity and worry came the increasing recognition that teenagers had a major impact on the shaping of American popular culture… We’ve stopped trying to teach them how to live. Instead, we’re asking them how they think we should live (p.13)”

This quote demonstrates David Croteau’s point in “Media and Ideology” that media texts create and shift how people see the world and, in effect, how people act and respond to these images. In addition, in “A Tangle of Courses”, Rebecca Raby discusses that teenagers are “courted as a high-consumer group, and are modeled in the media as the ideal age, with teenagehood constituting the onset of ‘the best years of your life’. This connection between the two texts made me wonder if maybe adults began to look to teenagers for fads because they wanted to revisit those “best years” in their own way.

“They looked and acted differently. Often they seemed remarkably hostile or even criminally inclined. In other words, they looked and behaved like juvenile delinquents (p.17).”

A few paragraphs before this quote, Gilbert discusses the dress codes instituted by high schools as a method to control and discipline teenagers. In this situation, teenagers were being told that expression and individuality were means of rebellion and danger. As soon as teens became a market for pleasurable consumption, though, as Raby also addresses in “A Tangle of Discourses”, their expression and possible “rebellion” wasn’t as important as a new market for businesses. The fear returned of course, as teens took these new markets of consumption as their own. As they were encouraged to participate in these markets, like the work force and car industries, teenagers began shift tastes and fads.

Although it was briefly touched upon, do you think the fear of juvenile delinquency existed before media and institutions began to separate teenagers as their own class capable of so much influence and power in business markets and pop culture?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Talking Points #2 on Raby: A Tangle of Discourses: Girls Negotiating Adolescence- Rebecca C. Raby (Reflection/Hyperlinks)

Although I brought up reality television, in my first blog post, I cannot help but mentally compare everything I read to media, specifically television and pop culture...

In this text, Raby examines the five dominant Western discourses of adolescence: the storm, becoming, at-risk, social problem, and pleasurable consumption. All of these discourses obviously connect and bounce off of one another to create an idea of teenagers that construct a new teen culture. This leads to a cycle that benefits and continuously redefines the image of teenagers. For now, I’d like to focus on just two of these discourses: at-risk and pleasurable consumption.

As the teen culture is redefined and molded by social and media representation, Raby points out that businesses follow these changes so that they can target and adapt to the teenage audience, which has been recognized as the largest group for pleasurable consumerism. Raby primarily discusses this topic in terms of shopping, but the teen audience is targeted in other areas as well, such as magazines, and television because 1. Media is a valuable source for advertising and 2. Teens invest in technology and media, making it a large market. Not to mention, most teens look to media for popular trends in areas like fashion and music as they are sent the message to define themselves through self-expression. Once these teens begin to self-express, businesses once again look to these self-expressions for more marketing campaigns, supporting Raby’s statement: “Consumerism and adolescence become equated (p.347)”

The focus on television for not only advertisements towards the teenage audience, but also for shows that will attract the teenage audience, have led to many reality television shows or shows in general that reflect the social view of teens (in the United States). These shows, mostly created by mostly ADULTS, provide an interpretation of teen life that influences the way all people (including teens themselves) see the youth.

As the creators of these shows reflect teen life, the paradox that Raby points out within the discourse is supported. Teens are taught to prepare for the future and be responsible but also be consumers and have fun. However, when they participate in consumerism to acquire their identity through the “neo-liberal freedom of spending (p.437)”, they see television shows about “at-risk” teenagers, and wild teenage life which send a variety of mixed-messages.

The main television show I couldn’t stop thinking about while reading this article that supports the framing of teens as “at-risk” is the reality show "16 and Pregnant". My mother had me at 16 years old while she was in high school, and because of this, many people assume that I am also “at-risk” of becoming a teen mom or of other “risks” like drugs, alcohol, depression, eating disorders, etc. While statistically, this could be supported, this bothers me because people generally see my mothers teen pregnancy as a negative thing that will ruin her life and my own based off of the negative representations of teen pregnancies from television shows.

“Girls are more likely to be considered at risk while boys are more likely to be treated as a social problem (p.435).”: This quote stuck out to me because I believe the consideration of girls as "at-risk" is supported by these media representations of teens, specifically girls with a focus on pregnancy, and that boys are treated as a social problem because they're presented as the causes of the pregnancy, a.k.a the "problem".

Questions/Comments/Points To Share: How does this article compare to and support the Croteau text? (Media and Ideology)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Talking Points #1 on Christensen: Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us- Linda Christensen (Hyperlinks)

In “Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us”, Linda Christensen discusses the stereotypes, gender codes, race codes, disability and class codes that lie underneath media, particularly in children’s cartoons. These codes, she says, are what shape young minds by the time a child has turned three, and teach them how to act, look, and perceive others. Dubbed as the “secret education”, these hidden lessons form and shape the identity’s of children all the way into their adult years, where the myths they were taught about the roles of themselves and others are supported even more in magazines, advertisements, and other TV shows.

While reading Christensen’s analysis of media and the secret education, how she taught her findings to her students, and her goal to spread her knowledge through her students with the hope of social change, I began to connect her analysis to reality television shows. Race and gender codes, stereotyping, and all of the portrayals of power and inequality based off of privilege are relevant in almost all reality television—which is an example of how the secret education extends outside of children’s cartoons and into adult life.
For example, in the reality competition shows like The Bachelor and Flavor of Love, women are taught that they have to compete for a man’s love by being the “best” and keeping that man’s attention through physical looks and effort to “prove” their love. These women are also given titles during the shows that stereotype them based off of their race, weight, personality, and more—just like cartoons that stereotyped a black person as the “buffoon”. Some of the titles given to the contestants on Flavor of Love have been: “Buckwild”, “Krazy”, “Miss Latin”, “Hottie”, and “New York”. Not only do these titles diminish women to what they look like and where they’re from, rather than who they are, but they also often create images of what women of different ethnicities are like based off of their titles. If a child grows up in a predominantly Caucasian area, and their only information about “others” (p.126) is from reality television, than the one black contestant titled “Hood” that got into a fight on TV will be their only representation of that race.

This reality television shows support Christensen’s argument that women are taught two myths: “Happiness means getting a man, and transformation from wretched conditions can be achieved through consumption” (p.133). She connects these myths to Cinderella because Cinderella fights with her sisters and the rest of the town for Prince Charming’s love, and because Cinderella is only seen as beautiful when she transforms her look from rags to riches. The story of Cinderella also creates a stereotype for the “Prince Charming” or perfect man that defines him as powerful, wealthy, and physically attractive. Both of these stereotypes and codes are found in shows like  Joe Millionaire  where women are attracted to a male only if he fits the “Prince Charming” criteria, and in the UK show The Swan where women undergo plastic surgery to transform from an “ugly ducking” into a beautiful “swan”.

Questions/Comments/Points to Share:
In class, I would like to point out that all of these "secret education" lessons are found in many more examples, and as Christensen points out, we all adapt to them without realizing it. I know most of these stereotypes are untrue, but I'll occasionally associate an Asian person as being smart, because that is how TV and media has portrayed the Asian culture.

This relates directly to how people perceive teenagers. When we wrote 5 words to describe a teenager in class, we wrote the ones that society has made us associate teens with- emotional, wild, angsty, shopping etc. because of our vision of teenagers from magazines that target the teen audience, TV shows like the ones on Disney Channel, and reality TV shows like 16 and Pregnant. Most of these terms may not have even based on personal experience, but rather the identity/idea society has provided us with for teenagers through the help of media.

Example of how teenage characters are scripted to act in TV shows: April Ludgate from Parks and Recreation is the only teen character in the show and is depicted as an angsty, rebellious college intern that hates working and is always whiny and bored. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

About Me

I tried to figure out a cool way to post more about me on the side of my blog, but I failed at the technology...

My name is Cedar Hayes and I'm a second semester freshman here at RIC. I was a vocal performance major with a concentration in opera at the start of the year until I realized that I didn't want to turn my hobby in to my career, but rather my passion- Gender and Women's Studies- in to one, and that's when I changed my major. My long term goal right now is to graduate from RIC and then attend graduate school for Library and Informational Sciences to become a librarian.

I'm from Putnam, CT, and I work in the RIC library, at a cafe, and I instruct two color guards and a winter guard, along with competing in the 7th Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps for color guard. I obviously love reading, music, color guard, and feminism <333 But I also love dry humor and sarcasm, Doctor Who, food, and coffee:P

I'm excited to get to know you all more throughout the class!

This is a dog with glasses: