Thursday, July 31, 2008

Disembodied Gendered Objectification in Images of Femininity

“Sex sells” a classic cliché seen used in advertising strategies across the market has successfully captured an impressionable audience that can not seem to look away. Wherever your eyes take you, companies are shown objectifying images of women in their ads, and growing to become so commonplace that they are deemed acceptable; however having damaging effects on young women’s perception of their self images.

With the growing power and uses of technology, companies are utilizing it to target raw, inexperienced consumers. Commonly targeted for these reasons, Kilbourne discusses how adolescents “are in the process of learning their values and roles and developing their self-concepts. Most teenagers are sensitive to peer pressure and find it difficult to resist or even to question the dominant cultural messages perpetuated and reinforced by the media. Mass communication has made possible a kind of national peer pressure that erodes private and individual values and standards, as well as community values and standards (Kilbourne 258).” It seems as if the abilities of companies to advertise to a consumer and project images and messages in efforts to sell their product are unstoppable. Whether a young female is checking her Myspace page, watching television, or flipping through a magazine, she is bombarded with advertisements of females stripped nearly down to their birthday suites to sell one product or another. The product being pitched could be geared towards either the male or female consumer, but having young females exposed to such objectifying images can negatively effect their perception of the way she needs to look and act in this sex selling market and society.

The ramifications of a media and marketing industry driven by such objectifying sexual images could be and are already showing to be incredibly harmful to our young female population. Wolf discusses females developing distorted vision of beauty, noting that “The contemporary ravages of the beauty backlash are destroying women physically and depleting us psychologically. If we are to free ourselves from the dead weight that has once again been made out of femaleness, it is not ballots or lobbyists or placards that women will need first; it is a new way to see (Wolf 125).” Not only are women loosing their ability to construct their own ideas of what is beautiful, they are also loosing self respect for their own images and image as a whole.


Kilbourne, Jean, “The more you subtract, the more you add: Cutting girl down to size;”
Gender, race and class in media Sage publications, 2nd ed. California 2002

Wolfe, Naomi. “The Beauty Myth”
Chapter III. Gender and women’s bodies

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Gendered Consumers/Engendering Consumerism

The toys marked to young males satisfy a strong need for identification that has been created by the media through its idolizing of sport figures and the overindulgence lifestyles portrayed in popular television.

My subject for this assignment is a 12 year old white male of the upper class that resides in a well known wealthy beach town in my area. My subject, Sean, was introduced to me through my sister, who frequently baby-sits for Sean and his other siblings. Sean attends an expensive, private Catholic grammar school and is involved in several sports. He was happy to help me out with my assignment, being that it had to do with shopping! Sean has all the toys a young male could ever want, therefore he more or less told me what toys interested him the most.

Sean informs me that after school he likes to play sports, hang out with his friends, and watch television. His favorite shows are Rob and Big and MTV Cribs. Being quite familiar with both shows, it was easily to see how they could possible influence a young person. Rob and Big shows the life of a rich entrepreneur skateboarder that has a luxurious house and lavish lifestyle, shown weekly on MTV. Rob, a young white male, goes around buying excessive amounts of items, cars, lottery tickets, and even toys! While MTV Cribs just merely shows the enormous households of celebrities and how many luxury cars they have sitting in their driveways. “Our notions of what is adequate, necessary, or luxurious are shaped by the larger social context.”(Schor 187) These shows have created a need to consume and collect these items in order to develop a glorified, superior status that has spread into our society.

“Because television shows are so heavily skewed to the lifestyles of the rich and upper middle class, they inflate the viewers’ perceptions of what others have, and by extension what is worth acquiring- what one must have in order to avoid being out of it.”(Schor 185) These shows have clearly influenced Sean and his needs as a young man. Forget toys, Sean has moved onto bigger and better needs such has the new I-Phone, a laptop, and what kind of a car he wants when he gets his license, in 5 short years. Sean also expressed interest in a new Jason Giambi jersey, the once steroid abusing first baseman of the New York Yankees. Sean expressed interest in these items because, well, he needs them and likes them, and that all of his friends have them.

“Males use sports as a terrain of fantasy identification, in which they feel empowered as “their” team or star triumphs. Such sports events also generate a form of community, currently being lost in the privatized media and consumer culture of our time.”(Kellner 16) When Sean expressed his interested in a new baseball jersey, I went off on a bit of a tangent about sports with Sean. I asked him why he liked watching sports and it seemed as if he liked them because of his dad, and that his entire family were fans of the teams that he enjoying rooting for. It’s the overwhelming need to apart of a community and to adhere to the rules and wants of the community that sport exploit and build upon.

When I went online shopping for Sean, nothing that he requested was found in the toys selected for his age group on Sean and his peers are ahead of the pack. It’s actually quite alarming to think that this young man has many of the same needs and concerns of most of the of males of my own age. “In order to fully grasp the nature and effects of media culture, one needs to develop methods to analyze the full range of its meanings and effects.”(Kellner 13) We have to start changing the ways individuals are portrayed and, more importantly, awarded and gloried in the media. Our embedded needs to identify ourselves with those that our seen extraordinary and superior has affected young males and has clearly influenced their needs as consumers.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Family Guy

Family Guy. “Don’t Make Me Over.”

Season 4, Volume Three, Disc One, DVD. 6/5/05

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation: Beverly Hills, CA. 2005.

America loves hott white jailbait ass”-of course we do. This episode of family guy plays off of the hegemonic ideologies of how attractive, young females should present themselves in our society. Maggie Griffin gets shut down by the class hunk when she asks him out on a date, leading her to believe that she is not beautiful based on the hegemonic ideologies that have been placed on her, her family, and friends by our society.

When Maggie comes home in tears to her family, informing them of her being rejected by Craig Hoffman, she looks to her parents for comfort and support. Maggie is quickly insulted by her father, insinuating that she probably is ugly given that the popular kid in class wouldn’t go out with her. Mrs. Griffin offers to take Maggie shopping to improve her appearance, instead of consoling her daughter and assuring her that she is in fact beautiful and a wonderful person. Mrs. Griffin builds upon the gender hegemonic ideology that young ladies must look a certain way to be considered attractive in order to compete for attention. Mrs. Griffin offers lower rider jeans and baby tees with suggestive statements as smart purchases during their trip to the mall.

As Maggie changes her image, others notice. Her crush, Craig Hoffman asks her out, and a group of upper class, white, popular girls invites Maggie to hang out. “Now that you’re attractive how about we go out sometime?”- With the hegemonic ideologies of class seen here, it clearly shows how an upper class group of individuals only can been seen or interact with another idealistic attractive person. Maggie remains the same person, however since she changed her image; she was able to climb the social class.

Peter decides to start a rock band on account of his success with his friends on karaoke night at the updated Drunken Clam. Their band, “Fat Horny Black and Joe” is everything that we have been bred to believe. Fat Peter Griffin is a fat version a Devo, a band popular for the song Whip It, in the 1980s. Horny Quagmire is dressed as Tommy Lee, given the fact that he just was diagnosed with hepatitis. Black Cleveland Brown, a stretch, is dressed in a tight white disco outfit with a huge afro. And Joe, the paraplegic is the white 80s hair band keyboardist. They all fit into the ideologist ideas of ethnicity and race that our society holds. But hey, “it doesn’t matter what you wear as long as you play kick ass rock and roll…”, it does matter. We’ve made it matter.

As the band rolls up to their first gig at Rhode Island State Penitentiary a sign reads, “Minorities Welcome” taking the thought that only minorities commit crimes and that they are more likely to do so. The hegemonic ideologies of race are highlighted here and also show our unjustified presumptions of prisoners.

Lastly, Dr. Diddy makes an appearance in the show, with his backwards hat, gold chains, and slang language. Brian the dog aggressively barks at him, cracking at the idea that dogs are racist. When in fact Brian is in a predominately white neighborhood setting, so he just fears and untrust what he doesn’t know. However the show tries to make a joke off of an ideology that we tend to keep in our society.