WHITEfish

There is no question that Race intersects with just about every popular media text in today’s culture.  In 2013, a documentary was released that focussed on captive whales at Sea World, and the violent behaviors and horrible living environments they have. The film features interviews from former Sea World employees and trainers, as well as experts on Orca whales. Although it is not talked about or easily noticed, the majority of the people involved in the documentary and the majority of the people who are in the shows with the whales are white. This can be seen as a lack of representation of people of all races in popular culture and can be dangerous and discouraging to those who aspire to be Sea World employees that are people of other races.

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Linda Holtzman and Leon Sharpe discuss the issues surrounding race in popular culture in their book Media Messages. In the book, Holtzman and Sharpe touch on how race is constructed socially, culturally and politically. They say that ” Various racial categories have been created or changed to meet economic and social needs of white United States culture.”  If we really pick apart this thought, we realize that we all create our own stereotypes when it comes to race. We just assume certain races do certain things and work certain jobs. Unfortunately, as Holtzman and Sharpe point out that it is most of the time white American’s at the center of popular culture.

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As seen in the photos above, most if not all of the people interviewed for this documetary are white Americans. With the exception of a hispanic woman interviewed about the death of her husband at a aquarium in Mexico. Although it is not a film about race, there is no doubt that it depicts the sad lack of diversity in employees and performers at Sea World parks. The lack of diversity subtly hints that other races are not fit to be in these positions. When viewers of other ethnicities view this documentary they may feel like they are not welcome at the Sea World parks or they may not be able to take this career path. The trainers featured most likely went to nice colleges where they had all of the tools they needed to prepare them for this career path, where as some people of other races and class may not be given these opportunities.

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Although the documentary mainly focuses on the whales at Sea World and their treatment, a major chunk of the film discusses the career and tragic death of one of Sea Worlds “best” trainers, Dawn Brancheau, another white female. Once again, while the main message and point of the documentary is not about equality for races it does send the message of the type of people that Sea World values and aims to please.

 

 

 

In this short clip from Blackfish, we see clips of Dawn interacting with the whales and hear her co workers and friends telling stories about her. It is interesting if you look at the screen that lights up behind her in one of the shots, that all of the trainers shown on that board are also white.

The lack of diversity in Blackfish may not be the first thing that you notice when you watch it, but it is something that should be pointed out. It is important for people to see all races represented in such big media contexts because it makes it more relatable and understandable. The film in a way depicts a vision that Sea World has for a “perfect” place for all, even if those working for them are not diverse.

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A Few of My Favorite Things

There are several media contexts that I have considered while preparing my ideas for this final paper. It is hard to narrow all of these ideas down to just one because in all honesty I could write a novel on basically every one of my favorite television shows, movies or artists. These are my top 3 choices, and my final decision on what to write my analysis on.

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Blackfish was and still is one of the most talked about documentary in the past five years. The film tells the history of Sea World, a popular aquarium that features live shows starring Orca whales. The film specifically focusses on one case where a trainer was killed by one of the captive whales during a show by a well known Orca named Tilikum, whose story we also learn. The main purpose of the documentary is to expose the mistreatment and abuse that the whales endure due to being kept in captivity through brutal videos and photos, and horrific stories from people involved with the case and Sea World as a whole. Immediately after this film was released, viewers took to social media to share their opinions and outrage, and as a result of all of this outrage Sea World has decided to no longer breed Orcas in captivity.

I feel that this would be a good topic to write my final paper on because it relates to so much of the material we have covered in class. For instance, in my media analysis how media framework is used in the film. This documentary uses certain stories and emotions to tell its viewers how to feel and how to react to what is being said in the film. This framework guides the way that we think about the material being presented to us. I would also discuss how the creators of the film were “setting the agenda” in order to effect the publics perception of the idea of orcas in captivity.

Parks and Recreation

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Parks and Recreation was a popular comedy on NBC about a dedicated government employee Leslie Knope, who will stop at nothing to better the town she lives in and empower other women. This show is important to our culture because it is very rare that comedy’s feature a strong and hardworking woman as the lead role. Leslie Knope is a character that women and girls can look up to and strive to be like.

If I were to choose Parks and Recreation as the topic for my research paper, I would discuss the topic of gender and media representation. I would also discuss the topic of class, as the show features characters of numerous different classes and represents each of them in a fairly accurate manner.

Jackass 

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One of MTV’s boldest television programs to date, Jackass was a unique and risky show that featured nine “normal” guys doing crazy stunts and sketches to purposely get a reaction from their viewers. Many rebellious teens and skateboarders alike were very excited that there was finally a show that they could relate to and actually laugh at. However, the show gained so many fans and followers that many of the viewers attempted to recreate some of the stunts performed by the “stars.” This caused MTV to show a warning at the beginning of each episode (which they still use today for shows like Ridiculousness) and eventually cancel the show due to the high number of injuries caused by fans recreating the stunts.

If I were to conduct a media analysis on Jackass, I would dive into the media perception and agenda for the show. Although the show was seen as a comedy, it is almost framed as if these are the most stupid men on the earth and you should aspire to not be anything like them. Social media also played a big role in the rapid growth in popularity of the show as many people created Jackass like videos and shared them on social media. Another concept that could be used to analyze this show would be media framework. It would be interesting to research different ways that the media framed the show. The men on the show were also portrayed to be “bad boys” in the media and were made out to almost be bad guys who just did drugs and made stupid decisions.

 

And the winner is:

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In the end, I have chosen to write my media analysis on Blackfish. I am very excited to look deeper into how the media framed the film and set the agenda to decide how it wants the viewers to process the information being provided to them through the film. It is obvious that the film only presents the negative side of the concept of whales in captivity, but it will be interesting to hear both sides of the story.

I am also interested to look into the different reactions from viewers and how the film was reviewed and discussed in the media. It is interesting that it caused such an uproar among its viewers, and became a social media sensation.

 

 

The Girls Got Class

The depiction of working class American’s on television has changed drastically over the past couple of decades. Initially, many television programs focussed on depicting  perfect upper-middle class families in suburban houses with stay at moms, that center around the ideal of the “American Dream.” Now a days, we are shown more “real” characters and shows that address serious problems that viewers can relate to. Characters on popular television shows are breaking the mold of formulated characters and scenarios to depict to the audience differences in class.

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The popular HBO series Girls has changed the game for television shows and the way twenty-something women who are working for a living are seen on television. Girls is an unapologetic tale that sheds light on a new generation of feminist women and the ups and downs of their chaotic everyday lives that is kind of an alternative version of Sex In The City.   Girls breaks the mold of the traditional safe and formulated characters, plot, and themes of a television show that many producers try to stick to in order to please advertisers and minimize risks.

Girls is interesting because it does not follow the typical ideology that society/ the media wants us to believe in/ aspire to be like. Typically, many people assume that life in New York is glamorous and worry free. Shows like Sex and The City construct that ideology that make its viewers buy into the idea that working women in New York live in fancy apartments and have their dream jobs and can sleep with any man they want. Girls shows us a more intimate view of different classes in Brooklyn. The “American Dream” is shown in the series, but it is not the main characters who are living it. The main characters themselves are imagining the “American Dream” and aspiring to work towards obtaining it in some way.

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An interesting way that we can see differences in classes through Girls is by looking at the neighborhoods the characters live in. The majority of the characters live in crappy apartments in not the best neighborhoods in Brooklyn. There are some episodes where the characters attend ritzy events at higher class houses/ venues and we really see how different the two groups of people are. This adds to the realistic value of the show.

 

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The way that class is depicted and showcased on Girls is an honest representation of real women going through real life struggles. Because of their class, the main characters do not always have the resources that they need to solve these problems, thus making the characters more relatable and accessible.

 

For Real?: Fake News & The Crazy Things It Wants Us To Believe

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Facebook Fakers

It is almost impossible to avoid politics and news in todays day and age. Literally everywhere you look there is an article or video that has something to do with President Trump. Everyone has their own opinion and something to say about the topic. News reporters are catching on that Trump is a hot topic and are jumping on the bandwagon of revolving all stories around him, whether they are true or not. One of the dangers of news media is “fake news” or news that is not true, but leads people to believe that it is.

Politics is easily the most targeted subject when it comes to topics for fake news stories. With so many articles and stories coming out that detail the scandals and every thought of Trump and other important political figures, many people may actually be buying into a lie. One of the biggest problems that social media has created in terms of news is making people believe anything they see. LITERALLY, people will believe anything! There was even a news story going viral on Facebook that Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer! PEOPLE REALLY THINK THIS GUY IS THE ZODIAC KILLER.

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Not Legit? Just Quit. 

The tricky thing about fake news is how we as an audience can differentiate from what is real and what is fake. David A. Bell argues that news has begun to be “delegitimized,” and specifically this past year has turned frightening. Part of this problem, he argues, is how the people behind this fake news have a false sense of knowledge on American Politics and are misleadingly labeling themselves as “journalists,” which can trick an innocent reader into buying into the material. Bell goes on to discuss a “conservative media machine” that takes otherwise small and minor story about competence of public figures they dislike or honesty and turns it into a huge story with the intent to ignite public outrage.

https://www.thenation.com/article/fake-news-is-not-the-real-media-threat-were-facing/

 

 

Where’d Ya Hear That?

Personally, I am a big believer in proof when it comes to scandals or accusations. I don’t believe things unless they are very well backed up. In her article “Did Media Literacy Backfire?” Daynah Boyd discusses the importance of having sources to backup statements and claims. It is important to have sources, but not just any sources. As Boyd discusses it is also important to be aware of what sources can be trusted and which can not.

https://points.datasociety.net/did-media-literacy-backfire-7418c084d88d#.hfghdgs4e

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Protect Yo Self

Although the presence of fake news is inevitable, there are ways that you can protect yourself from it and learn how to determine what is true and what isn’t. Wynne Davis gives some excellent tips on how you can better protect yourself from false news. One tip Davis points out that I especially found interesting was to check the comments section on articles. If someone is commenting that the article or news is fake it probably is. This is such an easy concept and makes so much sense, I don’t know why I never thought of it myself! Another interesting tip Davis offers is to check the Domain or the URL for the source. Trusted organizations usually have their own Domain or URL and a standard and recognizable format. This also goes back to the previous section and how it is important to know the sources for the media.

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/12/05/503581220/fake-or-real-how-to-self-check-the-news-and-get-the-facts

Fake news is definitely present in today’s society and it is not something that should be taken lightly. It is important for you to do some research and investigating of your own! See what details or other information you can find on a subject if you have doubts about it. And most importantly, not everything you see on the internet is true.

 

 

Freaks or Geeks: Different Ways That Asian Americans are Represented in Entertainment Media.

When you think of an Asian American character in a modern media context such as film or television, you typically assume that they will be depicted as a geek, an extremely smart scientist or doctor, an outcast, or some side kick to the main character. Unfortunately, our culture lacks in the department of Asian American main characters or heroes. To try to analyze just how terribly Asian Americans are represented in current entertainment media, I selected three television shows, Friends, Glee, and Community. I then reflected on how the characters are represented, what patterns I noticed, and if I thought that these characters were reasonable representations of Asian Americans or if they were the stereotypical characters that see so much in today’s media culture.

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The first show I watched was Friends. In one particular string of episodes, Ross (one of the main characters) has just returned home from China. When he arrives home he brings with him a new girlfriend he had met there. Ross’s new girlfriend Julie is asian and is portrayed as a very smart and educated woman. She is very fashionable, and kind to everyone. She is the only Asian character in the episode and she is in it quite a bit which is in my opinion a great thing for popular culture. Ross and Julie are both paleontologists and are able to bond over a lot of different things. Julie appears on the show often throughout the second season.  The character of Julie is a simple one, and in a way relates to the way that most Asian American characters are displayed in entertainment media, however she is more popular, good looking and lovable than most Asian Americans that are depicted in our culture’s media. Over the course of her appearances on the show, Julie’s character doesn’t really show much range, she sticks to her sweet and smart personality. I started binge watching Friends on Netflix, and got through the first and second season in a matter of days. In all of the episodes that I watched, I did notice how Julie is the first Asian American character featured on the show who actually speaks and is a part of the plot. This is interesting because there are often many extras on the show in the backgrounds of scenes and I rarely even noticed Asian Americans represented in the extras. I think that the character of Julie is a positive and different in ways that Asian Americans are typically represented, but I do think it is sad that she is the only one in the series.

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The second show I analyzed was a show that I was obsessed with in high school called Glee. Glee is a good show to use as an example for how Asian Americans are represented in entertainment media because it is in a high school and it has a very diverse cast. The main characters in Glee are a group of high school kids in a glee club. In this club, there are two asian students Tina and Mike. Tina is portrayed as an outcast goth kid who is over dramatic and fakes a stutter in order to gain attention from her peers. Mike is a talented dancer who wants to turn his passion into a career but it stopped by his Asian American parents who want him to be the smartest kid in his class and have a real career when he grows up. The show is set over a number of years and as the years go on, Mike and Tina grow up and their personalities develop more and more. We begin to learn more about their personal lives and what they struggle with as high school student. This helps the audience see them as more of a complex character with multiple sides to them. Tina and Mike are two completely different types of characters with totally different personalities. Mikes parents are sometimes guest stars on the show, and they are represented as the “typical” Asian American parents: they are very strict with their children and their schoolwork and they are very successful with their careers. The characters represented in the show display a wide range of characters, however Mike’s parents are display the typical stereotype of the super smart and strict Asian Americans, which I believe is a huge step backwards in terms of progress for the Asian American characters on the show. I do think that Mike and Tina are excellent examples of diverse representations of Asian Americans and I think that other shows should attempt to create characters like these to open up opportunities for Asian American actors.

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The final show that I analyzed was a comedy called Community, which focuses on a group of college students and the crazy situations they get themselves into. The main characters of the show are very racially diverse, but there are no Asian Americans who are featured in every episode. There is however a recurring character named Chang, a former teacher who was fired and is now a student at the community college he once worked at. The main characters are in a study group and are also close friends. In the majority of the episodes that Chang is featured in, he is depicted as a crazy grown man running around a community college trying to become part of his fellow students study group, but is constantly denied entry due to his wild antics. Chang is always pulling pranks and plotting schemes in an attempt to impress his classmates. To me Chang’s character is much more complex than just a goofy older Asian guy. The fact that he was let go from his job, and is not allowed in his classmates study group shows a lot of sadness and an inability to fit in. Often times in Entertainment media, Asian American people are not depicted as popular people but rather as “losers” or people who don’t fit in. I think that the character Chang would definitely fit into this stereotypical mold. One thing I noticed over the course of the series is that when Chang is featured in many episodes he is depicted as the bad guy or the antagonist that the study group has to “overcome” to solve their problem or accomplish their mission. I think that this pattern is dangerous because we never get to see an Asian American as a hero or lead role. One positive thing about Chang is that he is often one of the funniest characters on the show. It is really refreshing to see an Asian American character who makes people laugh rather than just stating intelligent facts or talking about serious things.

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After analyzing all three shows, I have come to some conclusions. First, I do think that there are more Asian Americans featured in popular television shows that we first notice. However, most of the time they are not featured as main characters. In Glee, Mike and Tina are main characters, but there are also 10 main characters in the glee club who are not Asian. It is sad that there are no shows that are 100% focused on the lives of Asian American characters. The characters are both simple and complex, with a range of different personalities and backgrounds. However, although there are a wide range of ways that the characters are represented, the shows all made a point to make it known that the Asian American characters were smart, like the typical stereotype we often see. I think that there is much that can be done to overcome these stereotypical characters and it will be interesting to see how Asian Americans are represented in entertainment media in years to come.