Fighting with the Sky

Posts Tagged ‘stereotypes

So my really exciting New Year’s Eve involved watching Easy A with a friend.  The movie was definitely entertaining and witty.  And surprisingly, I thought it did have some feminist undertones mixed in.  Warning: some spoilers.

The basic storyline of Easy A follows Olive, an invisible high school student, through her imaginary sexual exploits.  It all started when she lied to her friend about having sex with a guy that she had made up.  This rumor spread throughout the school and everyone was calling her a slut.  So in this, her closeted gay friend Brandon came up with the idea that they could fake have sex so that the other guys at school would stop picking on him.  That plan worked, but then all of the outcast guys wanted Olive’s help to make them cool by fake having sex with them.  All of the guys became cool but Olive became an outcast and labeled as a whore.  She started dressing, as she described, like a slut, because everyone already thought she was one.  But ultimately she realizes that what she has been doing is wrong and works to correct it.  In the end, we find out that the guy that she has a crush on really does like her and they end up happily ever after.  Don’t worry, some other stuff happens in there too 🙂

While there were some definite sexist and stereotypical things that happened in the movie (it is a high school, pop movie after all), I did appreciate that there were some feminist ideas that were spread throughout the movie.  The most prominent one was questioning why Olive became labeled as a “slut” and “whore” after one sexual encounter (and the subsequent ones) and all of the guys were seen as cool.  For example, Brandon and Olive fake have sex at a party so that everyone can witness it.  When they come out of the room, everyone is congratulating Brandon but they end up making fun of Olive.  I appreciated that the movie really highlighted this double standard.

The movie overall had a lot of great one-liners.  One of my favorites was (when Olive was in a bookstore): “Where is the Bible?” “Oh, that’s in bestsellers, next to Twilight.”  I also really liked Olive’s parents.  They were quirky and funny while being really supportive of their daughter.

I would recommend this movie if you like this genre of movie.  It definitely is one of those high school, light comedies.  But it does have some funny/witty parts as well as some undertones of feminism.  I wouldn’t call the movie overall feminist, but there were some of the undertones throughout.

I used to read the website Television Without Pity a lot.  Since then, I have found more…um…critical pop culture blogs that I find more interesting.  But I still have TWoP on my Google Reader.  Recently I noticed that they have a list of the favorite and most hated movies of 2009.  These lists were created by the same person and have an overwhelming theme — chick flicks are horrible and the only good movies are those that are stereotypically for men (of course there are a couple exceptions to this, but that’s the overwhelming picture).

Just so everyone is clear…I hate the term “chick flick” but I thought it was appropriate for this analysis because of the cultural prevalence of the term.  I am using the term in the traditional, stereotypical understanding as movies that are traditionally marketed towards women and are primarily fluff (don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a lot of these movies, but they traditionally don’t have a lot of substance).  I am comparing chick flicks against movies that were primarily marketed towards a male audience, most of which are action movies.  These movies don’t have a term like “chick flick,” so for this post I will be calling them “guy flicks” (sorry, best I could come up with).  On the lists were also some kids movies and indie films that weren’t overwhelmingly marketed towards either men or women.

So, let’s get to these lists…

The “Most Hated Movies of 2009” is a list of 13 movies, 8 of them are chick flicks (62%) and 4 of them could be considered guy flicks (Paul Blart, Transformers 2, GI Joe, and 2012).  And then on the other hand, the “Favorite Movies of 2009” list only contains one movie that could possibly be considered a chick flick — Away We Go (I didn’t know if I should put this under chick flick or indie.  It’s kind of both, because I do think that it was marketed primarily to women, but I also think it had a good amount of substance, where as most other chick flicks do not).  Where as 13 of the movies on the list are guy flicks.  And there were many more kids movies on the “favorites” list (5) than on the “most hated” list (one teen movie).

Now that we’ve got the statistics out of the way, I want to talk about some of the specific movies on the list.  How the hell did Observe & Report make it onto the “favorites” list?  I haven’t seen the movie, but it looked like a horrible movie with an unforgiving rape scene in it.  I was interested to see that New Moon made it onto the “most hated” list.  I know that this is only one person’s opinion on these lists, but I’m wondering if it is based off of personal preference or society’s reaction to the movies.  I’m hoping that it’s just personal preference in more areas than this one.  New Moon was bad, but I seriously doubt it is one of society’s most hated movies of 2009.

I also think it is interesting that I have seen statistically more of the most hated movies (62% of them) than the favorite movies (32% of them).  But I do have a tendancy to watch chick flicks to zone out.

So, obviously chick flicks are horrible movies where as action movies (that probably have about the same substance as the chick flicks, just packaged in a different way) are amazing.  There are definitely some movies that I agree with on the “favorites” list (Adventureland, Away We Go, and Watchmen) and some that I agree with on the “most hated” list (GI Joe, New Moon, The Ugly Truth, Ghost of Girlfriends Past)…and those are only out of the ones that I’ve seen, because I can acurately judge those for myself.

I encourage you to take a look at these lists in detail and decide for yourself which are accurately on the lists and which are not.  I would also like to see more of a distribution of movies that are marketed towards men and women.  It’s lists like these that made me move to different blogs to get my pop culture criticism.

Before I get started with my post about last nights episode of Glee, I wanted to clear up some points on my view of the show.  I think that I wanted to like Glee so much that I was unable to truly critique it in last week’s post.  Don’t get me wrong, I really do like the show.  But I think I wanted to like it so much that I focused on all the good parts instead of recognizing some of the problematic ones.

For instance, I think the show tries to be more progressive that it acutally is.  The minority characters in the show are really just there for show.  Mercedes is kind of the stereotypical black girl.  Tina, the Asian girl, is primarily silent.  The guy in the wheelchair is pretty much there to just be pushed around the stage.  And all these characters seem to do is stand off to the side and get locked in port-a-potties.

Sure it talks about abstinence-only education and attempts to talk about eating disorders, and sure the characters on the show say things that a lot of people think but would never say out loud.  This exposes what people in high school are really like and encourages people to do what they love, but looking past that, Glee just reinforces some stereotypes that it might think it’s discouraging.

102Glee-ep102_Sc44_2514Now to last nights episode: “Acafellas.”  In this episode, Will pulls back from the glee club after Rachel criticizes his dance routines and he ends up starting an a capella group, Acafellas, with four other guys.  In the end, Acafellas consists of Will, Sandy (the ex-glee club coach), Ken (the gym teacher now dating Emma), Finn, and Finn’s football buddy Puck.  The group is a big hit.

After Will pulls back from glee club, the cheerleaders on the team (led by Quinn) decide that it is a good idea to hire a professional choreographer, Dakota Stanley.  They want to hire him because they think that his tough attitude will make a bunch of people quit.  But the problem, Dakota Stanley’s services cost $8,000.  The solution: a car wash with cheerleaders in skimpy outfits, of course.  Once they hire Dakota, he criticizes everyone’s appearance except for the cheerleaders.  Everyone decides to quit, but Rachel gives a speech about how all of their “differences” is what makes them special and what will make them win nationals.  How inspiring.  So, in the end, glee is reunited.  Will is back coaching them, they are having fun again, and there is still sexual tension between Finn and Rachel because Finn doesn’t have the guts to admit that he likes her.

The side story: Mercedes is lonely.  She wants a boyfriend.  She starts spending a lot of time with Kurt, the stereotypical gay guy in glee.  She thinks they’re dating (and is encouraged by the cheerleaders who are trying to get her to quit the team), but everyone else can see that he’s gay, even though he hasn’t told anyone.  They try to tell her, but she thinks they are just jealous.  Mercedes asks Kurt if they are dating and he says he’s in love with someone else, Rachel.  But by the end of the episode, he finally tells her that he’s gay and that he’s never told anyone before.  He doesn’t have the guts to tell anyone, even the people in glee.

This episode was all about confidence.  Will’s worried about becoming a father and his dad tells him that being a father or a man is all about one thing – guts.  Will finds his confidence again through Acafellas.  Rachel gets confidence from Dakota attacking everyone.  She realizes that what makes everyone special is their differences.  Finn doesn’t have the confidence to admit that he likes Rachel, but he does gain some confidence in himself through working with Will in Acafellas.  Kurt doesn’t have the confidence to tell anyone that he’s gay.  Quinn came to the realization at the end of the episode (speaking to Sue) that when you really believe in yourself, you don’t have to bring other people down.  We’ll see how that one turns out.  If it’s true, I’m sure we’ll see Quinn not really believing in herself by next episode.

The storyline between Mercedes and Kurt really bothered me.  Mercedes was so desperate for attention that she saw the attention she was getting from Kurt (who is stereotypically gay) as romantic interest.  I really don’t like when this storyline comes up on any show.  It just makes the girl look stupid.  Everyone can see that he’s gay except for her.  She’s just so desperate that she can’t see what’s really there, no matter what other people tell her.  It’s not the guys fault, he’s just being who he is.  It’s just the girl being desperate and stupid.

I can’t figure out is Glee is using stereotypes to be ironic, or if they are just falling into the trap of perpetuating stereotypes.  Kurt is the stereotypical gay guy.  I was actually kind of surprised when we found out that he had never told anyone that he was gay.  He seems quite comfortable with who he is.  But that just goes to show that you can look comfortable in your own skin when you really aren’t.  Sue, I think, is supposed to be a lesbian.  She is also the stereotypical domineering cheer leading coach who is only concerned about winning.  Will’s wife is the stereotypical controlling wife.  She wants what she wants and Will has to get it for her.  Granted, in this episode, she did seem supportive of Acafellas towards the end.  Emma falls into a stereotype about OCD.  But I am glad that (in passing) they called it what it is in this episode, a mental illness.  We’ll just have to see how all of there characters play out.

I do like that the show is pushing messages about being confident in yourself for who you are.  Mercedes talks about how glee is about expressing what is really inside you.  These ideas of confidence in the episode do fall into some gender norms though.  For example, Will’s father talks about how being a man is about having guts.  I think it’s good to have a show that is unique in that it is musical, which grabs people’s attention, and that spreads the message that it’s ok to be who you are and to be confident in that.  As for now, I’m still getting over my “I want to like this show so much that I miss some of the problematic things” phase and will hopefully have some more deep analysis of the show in the upcoming weeks.

Also make sure to check out meloukhia’s analysis of Glee at this ain’t livin’.

untitledThis post comes from Amanda at The Undomestic Goddess (on Twitter as @TheUndomestic).  Be sure to also check out her feminist projects: The Undomestic 10 interview series and the tumblr This is What a Feminist Looks Like. Also look out for Amanda’s reaction to Watchmen after seeing the movie this upcoming Movie Monday (Sept. 14).

So, I may be a tad bit obsessed wih the forthcoming release of the graphic-novel turned purportedly-awesome movie, WATCHMEN (which I may or may not be seeing the day it comes out…in Imax).  Yet, as excited as I am, I am a bit nervous about its protrayal of the female characters (warning: slight spoilers ahead).

In the book, there is a subplot of rape that is pretty essential to the storyline, and the female in question, the Silk Spectre, emodies the stereotypical “blame the victim” role.  As much as I want to dismiss this as a way to explain a complex relationship between charcters, I can’t help but scream “cycle of abuse!” that falls too easily on women who need to be mistreated in order to feel loved (Rihanna, please do not become this!).

Though a January article in Publisher’s Weekly, which commented on the need for more (and better!) female superheroes, named Silk Spectre as the “great female hope.”  Aside from my issue with the rape scenario (which is a BIG issue, mind you), she does bring a new optimism  for women, if only in her bravery to face sexism head on, even within her own team, for the greater goal of, you know, saving the world.  And who cuold turn their nose at ambitions like that?

Then there is her daughter, Silk Spectre II (at right) who, in the book, was totally wearing more clothes, and was more feminine and less dominatrix-y (though I can’t decide which angle is worse, timid and meek or ball-busting; I guess between the two you have your range of male fantasy).  In the book, she is ALWAYS CRYING.  Maybe “adventuring,” as they refer to it, is too tough for girls.  Or maybe it’s because she’s kicking ass and saving lives in heels.  Though to put it in perspective, when the male characters are distressed, they either suffer from impotence, exile to Mars, or go on a rampant killing spree.  Is she better off?

Also problematic is that the Silk Spectre II does not choose adventuring of her own accord; she does it to please her mother, who lives out her superhero life through her (she quit once she gave birth).  In this Silk Spectre II embodies classic female guild by putting the family’s needs abover her own, not to mention her mother becomes a bit of a pushy stage-mom (another stereotype!), except in superhero terms.  And dear movie-promoters: Yes, the line at right is straight from the book, but taken out of context like you have, it’s a bit Girls-Gone-Wild, no?  Yes, I get that it was what you were going for.

Anyways, I’m real interested to see how the Watchmen movie treats gender.  The book did, after all, come out in 1985, so I am willing to ease my judgment for now.  But if the movie merely translates these stereotpes to the screen, are they staying “true to art” or perpetuating inequality?  Worse, what if the female objectification is exaggerated for sensational Hollywood purposes?  It’ll take a real superhero to knock that injustice to bay.

bones-booth-photoThe new season of Bones starts next week and since I will be doing a weekly analysis of the show, I wanted to introduce my lovely readers to my interpretation of the show.  Bones is one of my favorite shows on television right now, so I do have a little bit of a bias.

I really like crime-solving shows and Bones is pretty unique in that genre.  Bones is about a forensic anthropologist who works for the Jeffersonian (aka Smithsonian) and consults with the FBI.  Her name is Dr. Temperance Brennan, but her FBI parter, Seeley Booth, calls her Bones.  Dr. Brennan is the unemotional, scientific one where as Booth is the emotional, instinctual one, so of course they are going to butt heads at times.  Dr. Brennan and her team solve murders by examining the bones or bodily remains of the victims to find things that might not be easily recognizable.  They can identify victims in no time, determine if they broke a bone in childhood, clarify means of death, and find miniscule clues to who the perpetrator is.  Using forensic anthropology to solve murders is something that is not always seen on television.

Bones is also unique because the gender norms are reversed, which doesn’t necessarily make the use of gender norms better, but it draws attention to these gender norms.  Booth is instinctual and emotional, but he isn’t portrayed as being feminine.  He’s still a “manly man” because he uses these instincts to catch bad guys.  Dr. Brennan, on the other hand, is sometimes portrayed as not a “real woman” because she is not emotional, she uses her head to think (shocker!), she doesn’t always understand social norms, and she doesn’t want to have a child (more on this in a bit).  One thing that I don’t like about this is that Dr. Brennan is portrayed as being sooo opposite of the stereotypical woman.  While Booth is not a stereotypical man, he doesn’t face the same criticism that Dr. Brennan sometimes faces (usually from Booth, granted).

At the beginning of the show, Brennan is everything a stereotypical woman is not (except for beautiful, this is television by the way).  As the show has moved on, she has become more feminine.  For one example, during this most recent season, Brennan decided that she wanted to have a baby and wanted Booth to donate his sperm to make this happen.  While I don’t think that there is anything wrong with Brennan wanting to have a baby, or for Booth to be a father (because we all know they belong together anyways).  What was weird about this though was for the first couple seasons, Brennan was adamantly against having a child.  Her recent desire to have a child was a surprising change of events and seemed to only be predicated by a “biological clock” desire.  It did add an interesting twist to the story line for Brennan to ask Booth for his sperm, but I still don’t really appreciate her sudden change of heart with very little explanation.  If there had been a reason for this other than something other than “I’m not going to have a chance for much longer.”

Other than relying on gender norms and stereotypes (or using the opposite of them), I do think that it is great that there is a crime-solving show on TV where one of the main crime-solvers is a woman.  Brennan’s team is made up of her, two women, and two men…all of whom play a pretty equal part (Cam is technically the boss and Brennan is the who the show centers around, but each person plays an integral role in solving crimes).  Brennan and Booth are a team, and Booth gets the “joy” and glory of arresting people because he is the FBI agent, but Brennan is the woman who usually solves the crime.  She is smart and strong (and attractive).

As much as I love watching the crime solving every week, I find myself preoccupied with the romantic story line between Brennan and Booth.  We all know they belong together, they just haven’t realized it yet.  But they are supposed to realize it this season.  I’ve been wondering what a romantic relationship between Brennan and Booth would be like.  Their differing personalities make for a really good partnership in the FBI and friendship, but would that work romantically?

Anyways, I’m excited for the premiere of the new season next Thursday.  What do you all think of the show?

This is a cross-post from Miss Wizzle at feministhemes.com. Miss Wizzle is a product of the Midwest suburbs and was raised to think for herself.  She never realized how important this upbringing was until she was transplanted into the Wild West and the like-minded community she grew up with became a distant memory.  After a couple years in the conservative west, she has developed a clearer idea of who she is, what she believes, and why she believes it.

Rock-Star-v.-Guitar-Hero1

If you watch Fuse at all, you’ve probably seen a video or two starring a guy who looks like that Emo-Elvis hybrid from Guitar Hero II.  This might be your first clue that this guy takes himself a little too seriously, and probably has a pretty high douchebag-quotient (or DQ).  But trust me, there is more evidence that this man and his band, Theory of A Deadman, are kind of a waste of space, and that they are full of hatred for women.

Take the following two videos for example:

Exhibit C

In case you can’t stomach it, the first line is “My girlfriend’s a dick magnet.” Good start, right?  The theme of the video is that lead singer’s girlfriend is a “nurse” who puts in plenty of overtime, but it turns out she’s really a naughty nurse at the stripclub!  And her boyfriend catches her stripping when he’s out with the guys!  And she’s a bad girlfriend!  Here’s the thing about Theory of a Deadman: it’s not their fault that they hate women so much.  Women are naughty, bad, and evil! If dude’s girlfriend was really a nurse, he could have gone to the strip club and had a good time while she was saving the world.  But she’s a dirty, filthy liar, and she embarrassed him in front of his friends, so its okay to hate her.

Of course, like all deep, thoughtful rock bands, there is a sensitive rock ballad that tells their side of the story in a more relatable way.

Exhibit D

In this video, dude destroys his penthouse because his bad girlfriend set him off about something, and then she *gasp* leaves him. The video consists of the destruction reversing itself and girlfriend coming back.  Choice lyrics: “It’s never enough to say I’m sorry, it’s never enough to say I care,” “It’s never enough to say I love you, it’s never enough to say I try,” and (personal favorite) “Nobody wins when everyone’s losing.” Essentially, she’s the bad guy here, even though he’s demonstrating a pretty significant amount of violent tendencies.  And a good girlfriend doesn’t leave her violent boyfriend, since he’s only violent because he loves her so much.

act-a-fu2Basically, the level of misogyny disguised as male victimization in the lyrics and videos of Theory of a Deadman is about enough to make you puke.

Besides, friends don’t let friends listen to bands whose lead singers have been photograped sporting the Fu Manchu.


Follow Me on Twitter