Roseanne has been highly acclaimed for being a television show that focuses on the working class, and particularly that through the lens of women. Particularly in a time where Stanley Arnowitz claims that class representation was disappearing, resulting in a kind of “cultural homelessness”, Roseanne was a contemporary show that aimed to show the life of a “real” working class. Often “blue collar class is suppose to entertain not educate”, but in Rosanne, it not only tries to entertain audiences but educate them as well. Unlike in typical representations of working class where “most TV wives work do so not out of economic necessity but in pursuit of personal professional success”, Rosanne follows the life of “truly” working class female who works to support her family. Rosanne tries to debunk many of TV’s polished images of working class where it often ignores women’s class positions altogether.
Roseanne’s attempt to break the female working class stereotypes that are commonly used in TV is especially seen in the episode “Home-Ec”. At first, Dan is invited to come to Darlene’s school for career day. Roseanne gets angry that the letter is automatically addressed to Dan. Roseanne directly questions why men are always automatically assumed to be the bread winners of the family as if women have no contributions to the family. She then invites herself to go and talk to Darlene’s class. She goes to Darlene’s school and is once again faced with another stereotype when the students ask questions like “what is your favorite soap opera?” or “what did you really want to be”. These questions shed light onto how women, especially those in the working class, are automatically assumed to be stay home moms that live these perfect little lives cooped up in their homes. But Roseanne goes on to teach them that there is more to being a housewife that what they perceived (and these preconceptions probably came from TV shows).
Here producers “open up for consideration the ways in which women’s relationship to class may be expressed not only in terms of work identity and income, but also in terms of familial relations, social relations unrelated to those of employment, and practice of consumption”. At the grocery store, there is a clear distinction between the working and middle class, as seen when Roseanne asks one of Darelene’s students to pick out a meat and she picks up steak. Darlene’s classmate’s father is a dermatologist, thus Roseanne makes a sneer remark about how they can probably afford it, and then tells Darlene to pick out a meat, where she automatically knows to pick out ground beef. Roseanne portrays consumption not just production as a defining class activity. Furthermore, like Bettie writes, Roseanne “persistently reveals a simultaneous envy of and disdain for the middle-class culture”. While Roseanne’s family lives pay check to pay check, there is a constant comparison to Darlene’s middle class student. In some sense, this can be seen as what Bettie calls the “hidden injuries of class” where “the social psychological burden of class status anxiety, the feeling of vulnerability in contrasting oneself to others at a higher social level, the buried sense of inadequacy” is hidden through Roseanne’s sarcastic remarks about class and gender. Hence Roseanne’s constant comedic remarks to Darlene’s classmate that indirectly brings discourse about class.
I think that one of the reasons why Modern Family has become such a success is because its literal modern take on family today. This is seen obviously in the three families that it follows. I feel that the show does a good job on trying to deviate from heteronormativity. This deviation is seen as a metaphor from the onset when in the first scene where Phil, Claire, and Luke are riding their bicycles and Luke is riding his sister’s old bicycle. They try to put black tape on the bike to make it appear more “manly” and normal. But the fact that Luke is riding a girl’s bike cannot fool anyone, as seen when Jay rides by acknowledging the “sissy bike”. This theme of sexuality trying to blend into society to appear normal is seen throughout the episode. We discussed in class this week about how queer theory tries to study the deviation of sexual activity or identity in society.
This deviation is especially seen in the relationship of Cameron and Mitchell. They are worried that as the only gay couple at the play class, they might be shunned or looked down upon. Mitchell has this “shame” of the significant other- often forcing Cameron into roles that tries to duplicate hetero-norms. He tells Cameron to change his shirt and dance like a straight guy, when in fact they may never be “normal” because they are homosexual. In Mitchell’s mind, a flowery shirt stereotypes the gay man, while a polo and khaki shorts normalizes a hetero-man. It can be argued that Mitchell tries to duplicate heteronorms through they way they act and look. He tries cover themselves with black tape (heteronorms) when in fact, the core of their difference is that they are heterosexuals; something that cannot be covered or normalized, it is their core beings. I feel that through this particular episode, the show is trying to break down heterosexual norms to its audiences. These heterosexual norms are largely invisible and we often don’t realize it, until it is challenged, as seen in Cameron and Mitchell’s unsuccessful tempt to fit into this heterosexual norm.
Yet it also is interesting to note that the show also does not show any instance of their intimacy. They do not touch, kiss, or even show any physical attractiveness. Although it does try to take the more liberal motive of portraying gay couples, there are still many reservations that the show has about how sexuality can be allowed to appear. Maybe one can argue through political economy that producers and the TV corporations were weary about how much sexuality to portray especially since there is still much controversy about gay marriage and other sexuality issues. They wanted to be “modern” by having a gay couple, but still attract the largest audience. Therefore taking more of a “conservative” stance in a “liberal” issue and due to political, legal, and economic reasons, these agreements were responsible for the way Modern Family has been written and shot.
I also found it interesting how the show still keeps many of the typical “formulas” of a TV show, particularly in the way women are portrayed. Gloria and Desiree are the perfect example of how many women are portrayed in media. Both are portrayed as over sexualized women often being sexually objectified. Especially Desiree who is just in that episode to be “looked at”. She is always shown in low revealing tops or extremely tight clothes. Like Mulvey argues, men are the active lookers while women are the ones being looked at. Phil, although he tries not to, always ends up looking at Desiree. Desiree is overly sexualized in every seen that she is in. Often playing on words or phrases of words that have a sexual overtone to them. Desiree really has no purpose in the plot, but is just used as a visual object. Mulvey would argue that it is actually Phil’s situation with him climbing into the window and him lying to Claire that actually makes the story line move. In many ways, Modern Family still has many of the stereotypical formulas of TV shows when it comes to the portrayal of women and gender relations.
I would have to disagree with Nicole’s statement that GQ ads show men in a vulnerable way. The ads that I see in the magazine, the men are looking towards the camera, portraying a direct and powerful behavior. The men in most of the ads look directly at the camera engaging the readers. Unlike women in ads where most are looking away, vulnerable, and under the domain of men, the ads in GQ align with dominant ideology that men most be the dominant force in any relationship. Whether the ads are of men with a watch, a phone, or wearing clothes, they are portrayed as the controller. While women in ads are usually being controlled by the product or men, the ads in GQ seem to go along with dominant ideology that men must always be in control. As a men’s magazine with a largely male audience, this ideology is placed to benefit and reinforce these ideas onto men.
To some extent, one could argue that this ideology is forced upon the readers through a psychoanalysis point of view. The magazine, especially through their ads, taps into men’s conscious and unconscious desire for women. Especially in ads where they are trying to sell a certain product, the ads play into men’s desire to be desired by women. These ads play into the idea that if a male wears a certain brand, wears a certain watch, or has a certain product, they can be desired by women and at the same time be the dominant player in that relationship. These ads make men believe that these products can help to fulfill their deepest unconscious desires. This can clearly be seen in the Dolce&Gabbana ad where the the man is obviously in control of the women he is holding. Although not looking at the camera, he is glazing down at the women, his arms in full control over her physically and emotionally. The women, lost in her desire for the man, is portrayed as as a mere puppet for the man. When studying psychoanalysis in class, we also learned that the men are always doing the glazing while women are being watched which is heavily argued by Laura Mulvey. When the men are not looking directly into the camera, they are glazing at the women. Men are staring at the women, glazing at them, while the women’s glaze is somewhere else. The men’s glazing over the women portrays men’s dominance over them. Men are allowed to look, while women must look away, vulnerable and at the mercy of the men. Even in stories like “A Year in the Life of Pippa Middleton’s Bottom”, the whole article focuses on literally Pippa’s butt. The article, with pictures and captions, give the men a glazing point of view. The analysis of her butt and the pictures tells male readers that it is okay to look at glaze, in fact it is encouraged. And this glazing in fact is what allows the men to feel dominance over women.
Stuart Hall argues “an intervention in the media’s construction of race is an intervention in the ideological terrain of struggle”. Media shapes society’s view on races. In fact, Hall argues that it is these “images, concepts, and premises…provide the frameworks through which we represent, interpret, understand, and ‘make sense’ of some aspect of social existence”. Most scholars probably agree that mainstream media has heavily influenced certain views on races, thus leading to the many stereotypes portrayed on TV and carried over into to reality.
Crash however is a movie that focuses on many of these typical stereotypes to bring race into a different light. Crash follows a group of random racial individuals who are in the end all interconnected with each other. The movie begins with a car crash involving an Asian women and an Hispanic women. The Asian women has a thick Asian accent and immediately the Hispanic women begins to assume that because she is Asian women, the car accident was here fault. She even says to “write in the [accident] report about how shocked [she is] to be hit by an Asian driver”. Then we switch over to Persian father and daughter who are trying to buy a gun to protect themselves at their store. The white gun show owner becomes frustrated when the man cannot speak English and immediately thinks that all Middle Eastern people are terrorists. These are only few of the many racial “floating signifiers” or racial meanings that change in context. Stuart Hall argues that race is never a fixed meaning but changes in different cultures and situations. This can clearly be seen in many of the scenes in this movie. For instance, when Jean and her husband get their cars stolen, Jean says that she saw two black men coming, but it would be seem racist to feel suspicious, so she didn’t say or do anything, but they eventually ended up stealing her car. She had this preconceived notion that black men are dangerous and thieves. The color of their skin signified to Jean that they were dangerous. Another example would be when thieves broke into the Persian family’s store, Arab was written all over the walls. The thieves thought assumed at all dark skinned foreigners were Arabs.
The movie Crash engaged with these stereotypes by trying to over-exaggerate these characteristics that are often portrayed in media. Marxists would argue that mainstream media very much is the working of ideology. Popular media over and over again portray races with same characteristics. Media is used by the ruling class (or in this case the elite like producers, media owners, etc.) to instill their beliefs upon the other classes through hegemony. But Crash can be seen as trying to work against this ideology to create a new one. Thus as Crash tries to deconstruct media portrayal of race, they are actually deconstructing dominant ideology. Although some would argue whether Crash is really trying to go against racial stereotypes or actually further deepening society’s typical views on certain races, I would argue that Crash tries to take traditional portrayals of race to show society’s fault in racial portrayals. Thus it is going against dominant ideology that portrays Asians as bad drivers, blacks as thieves, Hispanics as gang bangers, etc. to try to show society fault in the ideology that media has driven unconsciously in us.
Shahs of Sunset is a great example of orientalism in media. The Shahs of Sunset is a TV series following a group of Persian-Americans and their luxurious lifestyles. One of the characteristics of orientalism is that it tends to portray all non-western cultures as homogenous. For instance, the fact that it portrays all cast from the same social-economic class is very telling. Although the show’s goal is to show insight of the “rich and fabulous” Persians, it also tends to stereotype all Persians with certain characteristics. For instance, all the characters are stated saying that when they were in Iran, they had the good life. But then war broke out and they all had to leave, usually with “nothing” or one suitcase. The show tends to give off the impression that when all Persians left, they all came with nothing, but they all made riches; an over generalization. Furthermore, often the characters themselves tend to over generalize themselves. When they say “us Persians” they are only really talking about the upper class Persian-Americans.
Julie argues that in the Shahs of Sunset generates appeal and emphasis because it highlights the “ruling class” lifestyle and those in the non-working class want to the desires and luxuries of the ruling class. However, I would argue rather, that the appeal (or why the producers thought it would create appeal to audiences) is because of psychoanalysis. Deep down in our unconscious, everyone has at least a little bit of yearning to live the “fabulous” life and be in the ruling class. Some may say that the show is ridiculous, or outrageous, but there is a force that makes us want to keep watching, and I believe that is because we unconsciously want to live variously through these characters. Certain social, family, or religious institutions have suppressed our natural desires for material satisfaction into the unconscious and thus series like Shahs of Sunset, or even other popularized shows like “The Real Housewives” have gained tremendous success and popularity.
I do agree however with Julie’s statement that the Shahs of Sunset does have a negative or backwards view of the Orient. Julie brings up how Reza would probably we hanged in Iran and how that portrays the Orient as primitive and narrow minded. I found that the show puts on this strong tension between Persian-Jews and Persian-Muslims. It tends to characterize all Persians into only these two categories. Furthermore, the show highlights that even though these groups of Persians are friends and interact with one another, they are portrayed as never being able to be together in the end. There are separate social and religious classes and they should never cross, an ideology that the show tries to portray as primitive and backwards
Feminist critics have pointed out that beauty was a harmful practice for women. Beauty was what was restricting the freedom of women. Andrew Dworkin argues that beauty even has a psychological defect on women. Women are forced to change or alter ever part of their body which ultimately restricts their physical freedom as well. Beauty practices create a difference between the dominant (male) sex class and the subordinate (women) one. Women are stereotyped, culturally dominated, and sexually objectified thus leading to alienation.
The root of the treatment of women is that they are seen sex objects. Bartky defines sexual objectification as when “a person is sexually objectified when her sexual parts or sexual functions are separated out from the rest of her personality and reduced to the status of mere instruments or else regarded as if they were capable of representing her”. The fashion-beauty complex promotes itself to women as something that seeks to glorify and encourage women, but in fact it is depreciates woman’s body and is a deadly blow to her narcissism so that women will buy more beauty and fashion products.
In the section titled “The Personal is Political”, Dworkins and Mackinon argue that the distinction from public and private world is fundamental to male dominance. In the private world, their is male dominance in which the women simply choose to lay out their energies and bodies at man’s disposal. The private world is long protected from the public view. But radical feminist critics argue that the “personal” or “private” world are indeed “political”. “The private world was recognized as the basis of the power men wielded in the public world of work and government”.
Few feminism argued that women had achieved huge advances by the late twentieth century towards equal opportunities with men in the public world of work. This new feminism found that woman’s private lives were a result of their choice and should be off limits for analysis or action. Karen Lehrman, in accordance with “new” feminism, argues that makeup is compatible with feminism. Now, women have the power and the respect, thus they can wear makeup or sexy clothes because that gives them power, but it is not their only power.
Furthermore, in the 1980s and 1990s, there was a cultural turn which placed more emphasis on woman’s capacity to choose and express agency than on the forms of coercion that caused women to engage in beauty practices. Some feminist found work in ways to answer not the question of how beauty practices work to oprres women but rather how women could enjoy these practices and be empowered by them.
The word genre comes from French meaning “kind” or “class”. The word has been used to describe division in society. For instance in literature, there are divisions of poetry, prose, and drama. Although Chandler also argues that there is often no consensus on difeintion of specific genres. Especially when it comes to films, practitioners and the general public could make sure of their own genre labels quite apart from those of academic theories.
There are four problems with generic labels: extension, mormativism, monolithic, and biologism. Putting a film into a genre poses many difficulties. In some cases of film, some seem to be aligned with one genre in content and another genre in form. Genres are not concrete systems with clearcut procedures of classifying. Many text fit into multiple genres. “An individual text within a genre rarely if ever has all of the characteristic features of the centre”. Often theorist approach genres in terms of family resemblance: finding similarities between some of the texts within a genre. Another approach to describing genres is based on prototypically. Some text are more typical members of a genre than others, and therefore “identify the extent to which an exemplar is prtoyical of a particular genre”. Genres are thus seen as fuzzy areas without clear standards that separate each genre.
Previously, genres tended to be regarded as fixed forms, but contemporary theory emphasizes that genres are dynamic because society often shapes genre. Theoriest Abercrombie argues that television is dismantle genres because of the economic pressures to pursue new audiences. Genres expand and mix and can also be “discontinued”. Some genres are more “powerful” than others. Over time, there is a constant power shift in genres. Thus, because genres can shift over time, often genres are historically relative, and therefore historically specific.
Many theorist even argue that genre defines the moral and the social world. Genres change according to the ideological climate of the time. Texts within genres embody the moral values of a culture. Some even go as far as saying that modern genres have a purpose. Genres have a purpose attached and the communicative purposes of text are what puts them into genres. Another theory focuses on the relationship between makers and audience. Producers try to look for profitable genres thus genres are also influenced by the economy. Its makes more economic sense to use sets, properties and costumes over and over again. And once genres create a loyal audience base, the same genres can be used again.
Mulvey argues that psychoanalysis can be used as a political wagon, demonstrating the way the unconscious of patricarchal soceity has structured film form. It all begins with the castrated woman who gives order and meaning to the world. The women’s function in the unconscious is to symbolize the castration threat by her real absense of a pensi and second thereby raises her child into the symbolic. After this has been acheived, women lose meaning the process. Either she must gracefully give way or struggle to keep her child down with ehr in teh half-light of the imaginary.
With the technological advances in cinema, this has led to for a space where films can be both a political and aesthetic. One possible pleasure that cinema offers is scopophilia, or where lookinga t oneself is a source of pleasure. In cinema studies, there is a separation or indifference to the presence of the audience. It gives spectators an illusion of looking in on a private world.
Another aspect of cinema is the narcissistic aspect. The cinema has a strong fascination with ego. There is a forgetting of the world that is nostalgic in cinema. “It demands identification of the ego with the object on the screen through the spectator’s fascination with and recognition of his like” (750). Freud saw egos and scopophilic as two interacting and overlaying ideas. They have to be attached to an idealization before they have significance.
Mulvey argues that it is the males who are doing the gazing and the females who are being looked at and displayed. Although an indispensable element of the storyline, her visual presence tends to word against the development of the narrative. Women displayed have functioned at two levels: as erotic object for the characters within the screen story, and as erotic objects for the spectator within the auditorium.
Then, the male figure cannot bear the burden of sexual objectification and thus the man’s role is to make things happen, make the story active. The man controls the phantasy and emerges as the representative of power. Murvey uses Sternberg and Hitchcock movies as examples. For instance, in the movie Vertigo, Scottie portrays voyeuristic tendencies by following after the female lead and hopelessly falling in love with her. He is the one leading the story plot through his perspective.
Murvey’s arguments reminded me a lot of some of the criticism that Disney movies have received. Many critize that Disney movies always portray the female characters as either helpless, in despair, in need of a man to save her life, or as overly sexy or “typical” female qualities. Usually the main characters are in the first category, while supporting or not as significant characters tend to have over stereotyped roles. It is always the male character that leads the plot or makes the story active.
Suture is the name by which of means where cinematic texts confer sbjectivieyt upon their viewers.
“Domain of real” which states that the signified and siinifier are subjctive or self-apprehension only through the intevention of signification. Beneniste argues tat signifiers are onl activated within discourse ecause they equire both a subject who will supply them with a signified. Discourse involves the “match” o linguistic iniiers “I” and “you” to ideal representations. But in cinematic studies the signifier of “I” and “you” are different. In cinema, “the speaking subject of the cinematic text is always situated at the site of production, while the spoke subject of that same text is most exemplarily found instead at tens tie of consumption.
In film, shot relationships are very important. Where one enters, exits, what is framed, and the composition of the frame are all important functions where meaning emerges and a subject-position is constructed for the viewer. Silverman discusses how the shot/reverse shot formation, which is when “the second shot shows the field from which the first shot is assumed to have been taken”. The camera tries to obey the 180 rule where a shot portrays only 180 degrees of a certain scene. This shot/reverse shot formation is meant so that when scenes transition, the gaze which directs our look seems to belong to a fictional character tauter than to the camera. But the viewer is aware of the limitations on what it sees. So the shot becomes a signifier of what is not seen.
Suture and ideology are related in that in cinema “the viewer is encouraged to establish a relationship not with those apparatuses themselves, but with their fictional representation”. Silverman goes into how discourse is related to interpellation because interpellation designates the conjunction of imaginary and symbolic transactions which result in the subject’s insertion into an already existing discourse.
Lastly, Silverman goes into how cinema represents man and women differently. There is a sexual division between female and male characters. Women are portrayed as trying to capture the gaze of men, as exotic, and often in a negative view. Silverman discusses a character called Lola who is portrayed in cinema through the typical lenses of an exotic women wanting the attention of males.
In Edward S Hermn and Noam Chomsky’s “Manufacturing Consent”, the authors argue that the mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. There are essentially 5 ways in which the media sets “filters” of information.
The first filter is the size, ownership, and profit orientation of the mass media. The market eventually became the natural intervention of media. Because running a newspaper was expensive, it was limited to the few upper class. This eventually led to the concentration of media ownership. The authors argue that there are 24 media giants controlling much of media content.
The second control filter is advertising. Because media is so dependent on advertisers, often advertisers play a huge role on the content of a program. If advertisers don’t like what a company produces, they would pull their advertisements, which would ultimately be the lose of the media companies. Thus media companies are more and more pressured to create programs that are not controversial and put advertisers in good light.
The third filter is how media companies source mass media news. Because they cannot send correspondences everywhere, new companies are forced to select a few area to send their correspondences, where news often occurs, like the white house, police stations, etc. Also, bureaucratic accounts hold merit over other sources because they are seen as objective and are cheaper. Thus Bureaucratic organizations often provide advance speeches, press conferences, photo ops etc to the news providers and thus there creates this mutual dependency. The media may feel obligated to carry extremely dubious stories and mute criticism in order not offend their sources. And these sources can often become blurred with funding from specific organizations.
The fourth filter is flak. Flak refers to negative responses to a media statement or program. Flak can be very negative to media outlets and thus these institutions try to organize their news around subjects that won’t garner flaks. Advertisers may withdraw patronage and these institutions can cost them money. Further because there are institutions organized for the specific purpose of producing flak, these media companies are even more pressured to create content that won’t offend the public and advertisers.
The fifth and last filter is anticommunism. “This ideology helps mobilize the populace against an enemy, and because the concept is fuzzy it can be used against anybody advocating policies that threaten property interest or suport accommodation with communist states and radicalism.” Politicans are pressured not to seem communist with their ideals which can be detrimental to their image and career.