Monday, April 28, 2014


Just Laugh

hope your projects are going as well as mine!

Reaction to Teenagers Talking Back Assignment

I spent a little while searching the web for something about teenagers talking back or about the media and I have to say, I'm really disappointed. I knew that a goole page wouldn't give me much because  basically every single article about teenagers comes from some outside adult source trying to decipher teenagerhood. I felt like I was reading stuff straight out of Raby's article about discourse. There were articles about teenagers literally talking their parents. It was a how to article about how to stop your bratty kid from talking back to you.  If you look at the website it's from, it's called empowering parents...oh gosh is all I can think right now.

I decided to go to YouTube, because kids these days are always making videos on the interwebz. First off, tons of them were news casts about teenage problems. They literally have a special news segment on one channel that addresses teenage stuff lie cyber bullying and buying jeans at Hollister (that was sarcastic). Again, this is all Raby. These teens need to be analyzed because they're at risk and we need to protect them...or protect ourselves from them if they're social problems.

Some videos had teens in them talking about these issues of social networks and dating. But the problem with basically all of these is that they consist of adults standing behind a camera asking teens questions. I don't see these as teenagers talking back. Teens aren't saying "hey this representation of me is wrong, let me fix it." They're being asked to tell stories about how they were marginalized or made self-conscious because of a beauty standard. Sure, they're talking for themselves, but they're not really getting to push back against this adult controlled media when they're just stories that adult media features.

Maybe you disagree and if so, I would love to hear what you have to say...that's my question to the class. There was one video series called Talk Back Teens that was interesting. It was a bunch of teens putting together an internet talk show about different things which I thought was pretty cool. They weren't specifically talking against representations of themselves, but I think fighting against the representation by hosting their own channel was pretty neat. Of course, the link disappeared and YouTube won't find it for me. Thanks YouTube.

I found one thing that's really neat!! A girl went to her hometown and interviewed a bunch of her peers about sex in teen culture. It's almost 20 minutes long if you have the chance. They get to open up because it's a teen interviewing teens.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tricia Rose: Quotes and Notes of her Interview

"So this idea that a certain kind of sexual deviance or violent behavior defines black culture has had a huge market in commercial mainstream culture for at least 200 years. Also, sexist images, which hip-hop has a lot of, seem to do very well across the cultural spectrum. So sexuality and sexual domination sell. Racial stereotypes sell. The market is more consolidated, which makes it easier for those images to perpetuate themselves."

I think this is an interesting point that seems so simple, but isn't thought about much. We all know sex sells, but racial stereotypes? I feel like face palming at the thought of this because it seems so "duh!" Black females have been portrayed either as helpful "mammies," angry black women or sexual deviants throughout historical discourse. So this portrayal of black females as sex objects permeates hip hop very often. It makes it easy to understand why hip hop music that isn't as community based and focused has made its way into popularity when you think about it. 

"Look, I don't want it to seem like I'm bashing everything about Lil Wayne and Jay-Z, because I'm not. I think they're both very talented. If you look at the metaphors Lil Wayne produces, they're amazing; they're very creative. It's the substance. What are you making metaphors about 24 hours a day? Same thing with Jay-Z. Even he has acknowledged that he's "dumbed his music down" so that he can sell records. This economic imperative has had more of an impact on hip-hop than [on] rock or soul or R&B."

I have to admit that I've listened to some stuff with Lil Wayne in it and he does know how to use words meaningfully. He rhymes well and uses words in really clever ways, but like she said, it's what these metaphors are made about. Often they have to do with "pussy" or killing someone. He also really likes to use the words "bitches" and "cashmoney." 

"Well, O.K., I agree, some parents are not very good at watching their kids. But a lot of parents are deeply struggling to figure out how to watch their kids and hold down three part-time jobs with no benefits. And they don't really need artists making their job harder by creating an allure, an excitement, for behavior that is completely self-destructive. Artists tell you to turn off, but they really depend on you doing the opposite. And I say, Let's take them up on it. They'll change their tune because they need an audience. They need us."

""The hip-hop-causes-violence camp is incredibly dishonest about the profound role of structural racism, of economic disadvantange that has been produced over decades. It's not just personal, lazy behavior. It's a dishonest way of dumping on hip-hop a set of conditions that we are responsible for as a nation. That being said, that doesn't mean that a constantly violent narrative is a good thing. I'm not suggesting there shouldn't be a challenge to it to some degreee. But it's not the source of the problem. It's a red herring."

I think this point is really important. A lot of people blame violence on rap music and hip hop culture because, yes, it often addresses violence. But this is not always an issue of parenting. Just like our talk about the Columbine shootings in class and the project done on it so wonderfully pointed out, the question of TV, video games and hip hop being used inappropriately because of bad parenting usually comes up when kids are black. It's really part of a certain discourse like what we talked about with teenagers in the Raby piece. It's not as much of an issue when it comes to white kids because people come to the table with the assumption that black kids come from a home of financial struggle where a parent can't always be around or a parent doesn't care. 

My question for the class is: what do you think about the "turning off" issue addressed by Tricia Rose in her interview? It's a tough question for me especially because I was a nanny and have young nieces and nephews. You can't stop things from happening by ignoring them as we touched upon with "Cinderella Ate My Daughter," but you don't want to expose your children to violence and sexism in music and TV...I think what we read about princess culture made a good point about perhaps allowing kids to interact with things but to talk about it. But do you think Disney classism/racism/princess stuff is a bit lighter than violent/sexist music? 

LOL  Jay Z

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Queer Youth Readings

In the readings on queer representation in the media, Media Smarts gave us some questions to ask when it comes to media. 
1. Who created this text and what is its purpose?
2. Whose voice and interests are being represented and whose are being left out?
3. What do the images and narratives being used say about queer people?
4. If the representation uses humor to make a point, are the queer people in on it are they themselves the joke? 

But what makes a form of media queer? you might ask. Well, they give us some questions to ask to decide..
1. Is it made by a queer person?

2. Does it rely on queer aesthetics or is it concerned with queer issues?
3. Has it been widely embraced by queer people?

Media Smarts then goes on to talk about "queer money" and advertising. This is an interesting issue because a lot of companies are now coming out with commercials having to do with different kinds of families like gay couples, interracial couples, etc. Media Smarts asked the question about whether or not these representations are actually balanced because with many representations of queer people, their sexuality is implied or swept to the side--it's nothing more than a label shown by their dress or speech. 

My question for the class is this...
How do you decide if a commercial is trying to represent queer people equally or if queer representation is just a way to make people feel good about a product an spend their money on it? Is it or can it be both? How do you feel about that? 
Have you seen the Honey Maid commercial yet? Great example for consideration. 

Lastly, they keep on with tradition and give us some questions to address media and queer representation. 

What's being assumed and not said?
Why are things represented in a certain way?
Does the author leave open the possibility of being queer or single and still being fulfilled and happy? 
How are queer characters or situations positioned against dominant heterosexual culture? 

I was thinking about how to connect this to our other course texts, and the thing which popped up first in my mind was "Cinderella Ate my Daughter" by Orenstein. It might not directly address queer representation, but "media" absolutely connects to Disney and princesses. Not once was a Disney show mentioned as an example of queer representation in the Media Smart articles. What do you think little girls are taught when they don't see queer characters or princesses? They're taught the same thing they are taught when they don't (often) see princesses of color or princesses who save themselves or don't fall in love at the end of their story. It's made weird, it doesn't fit into the narrative of what it means to be a princess. 

Here are the GLAAD statistics on queer representation in the media for 2012-2013! Thought you might find it interesting.. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cinderella Ate my Daughter: Response to Orenstein

Having an 8-year-old niece and cousin who are girls and being a nanny for some time, this text was pretty meaningful for me. My cousin’s entire life was drenched in pink from the moment she was born and it drove me crazy. I see that being pretty and cute is emphasized and desired a lot more by little girls today. It’s good to be smart and artistic, but you’d better be attractive or you don’t make the cut. 

Something that really struck me in Orenstein’s piece was the point that she made about having it all. On page 17 she says “girl’s repeatedly described a paralyzing pressure to be “perfect”: not only to get straight A’s and be student body president, editor of the newspaper, and captain of the swim team but also to be “kind and caring,” “please everyone, be very thin, and dress right.” When I was a nanny, the 10-year-old girl I was taking care of was exactly this. Her younger brothers were care-free, while she was stressed out about not doing her homework and tests perfectly, being on student government and maintaining friendships. Now, this might stem from being the oldest sibling--and being 10 instead of 7 or 4--but I think it is ties to the expectations that girls face. 

As Orenstein puts it, we have to be Cinderella and Supergirl. It’s not enough to be smart or successful, you must be attractive and super sweet. I connected deeply with the girl I nannied for because I’ve battled with anxiety over this striving for perfection throughout my life. I’ve always wondered where it came from because my parents always used to tell me that they were happy as long as I did my best. But the pressure is still there. Sure, as Ornestein points out, it pushes us to be better; but should girls feel that they have to be perfect and successful at everything they do? Absolutely not. 

Another point that I found really interesting was the concept of parents loving Disney Princesses and Barbies or American Girl dolls because they make them feel as though their little girls are still, indeed, little girls. This safety felt in the Princess culture reminded me of what Raby wrote about in “A Tangle of Discourses.” Raby claimed that parents project their own discomfort ad identity crises about growing older onto their teenagers, making their kids out to be “unstable” since that’s the way they feel. Orenstein makes a similar claim when she talks about the fear that parents have about the sexualization of their daughters; they try to keep them “princesses” longer in order to protect them from the real world, and watching them play with dolls like Barbie and princess toys distances the reality of growing up.

What I was left wondering--as an aunt, nanny, cousin, and future mom--and wanted to ask the class is how do you feel about allowing the Disney Princesses and the like into your home? Is it best to ward them off, allow the toys, but not the stories, or embrace the fact that your daughters and sons will be hearing and playing all of these stories? I’m in the same struggle that the moms at the school were...

PS: Peggy Ornestein has a blog!

Also, do you think the fact that famous women were made into princesses solidifies the argument that Ornestein makes about being smart, caring AND pretty in order to be noteworthy?