Thursday, April 18, 2013

GLEE (Reflection)

I know this blog is late, and I apologize, but my life is insane and I did watch the episodes (all 3 of them) in a row but didn't have the time to blog about them. Until now. Here goes...

I'm going to start off with stating that I have never ever watched Glee before this class and the reason being is I just thought I'd never like it. It seemed too immature for me and I thought that only high school kids watched it. After watching "Pilot", "Never been kissed" and "Furt", I realized that I still don't like it and there is an overwhelming amount of over exaggerated stereotypes within the show. Anyone can disagree with me on this, but I really feel that Glee is a terrible representation of teenagers, especially LGBTQ teens struggling with daily issues. Glee works too hard to proliferate categories of people like jocks, nerds, sluts, cheerleaders, "ALTERNATIVE" kids, and so forth. It tries waaaaaayyy too hard to label and categorize teenagers as certain things allowing that categorization to extend into American teenagers heads.

In the Pilot episode, I noticed that one of the first scenes was Kurt walking down the hallway, strutting his stuff bragging about how he's wearing "Marc Jacob's new collection!!!", and then he gets thrown in a dumpster. The guy playing piano (who is wearing pink), touches the abs of a male chorus singer. When introducing the characters, Rachel goes "I'm not homophobic, I just have 2 gay dads!" then proceeds to go on about how she was born to be a star and is hyperflamboyant and competitive so the other kids in school make fun of her. Did she REALLY have to say "2 GAY Dads"? Why couldn't she just say, "I have 2 Dads?" Fin is the popular, hot football player who joins Glee club after being falsely accused of possessing marijuana. He lies to his football friends about it because to be in Glee club is to be feminine, weak, and ultimately, gay. Finn faces punishment from his fellow football players by getting attacked with paint balls when he misses A practice and is expected to redeem himself by bullying Artie. Artie is put in a porter john and Finn is expected to tip it over because Artie is in a wheelchair and can't get out of the situation! How funny is that?! NOPE.

In the "Never Been Kissed" episode, Kurt is faced with the horrible tragedy of being bullied. This episode got me SO MAD because nobody seemed to want to help Kurt in a real, institutialized way. Girls just expected their boyfriends to do it for them. How traditional/heterosexual can you be with that?! A girl in Glee club made a comment after they were told about their new song and she said, "OH MY GERD, SOOOO many gay jokes just popped in my head right now!" Who says that, really? Kurt keeps getting pushed into lockers. He wears a feather boa and wants to sing Diana Ross then gets shut down. Then he goes to an all boys school where he meets the love of his life and discovers that this new school has a zero tolerance policy. Kurt cries and says "I refuse to be the victim", then transfers schools. The kid who is bullying him is really struggling with his own identity and kisses Kurt. There's a lot more that happens in this episode but it made me too mad so I don't want to write about it.

In the "Furt" episode, the same guy keeps bullying Kurt and threatens to kill him. Kurt gets really scared and the football players on the Glee club (except for Finn) get together and threaten the bully to get him to leave Kurt alone. The girls don't do anything except swoon over their boyfriends when they get in a fight. Romantic. Finn gets punished because he prioritized the football team over helping Kurt and his girlfriend gets mad at him. OOOHH. The bully gets expelled, but let back in eventually, then Kurt actually transfers to a school where he can be safe and also be with his crush.

I know Glee is a really popular show and there are a lot of good things about it, but in my humble opinion, I think it's cheesy and gives a poor representation of what "real" high school kids experience. It definitely touches on a lot of topics, but over exaggerates them in ways that Leslie Bogad says exemplify the binaries within popular media. I'm really not trash talking Glee, I just want gay and straight kids alike to have a healthy idea of themselves and not base their own self-image off of the characters in Glee.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Rose (Argument)

On the YouTube video:
Tricia Rose in the YouTube video gave a brief history of the origins of hip hop. A few of her main arguments stuck out to me along with a few things she said. In the beginning, she pointed out how hard it is to talk about race/gender because the American population is so diverse that the only thing we have in common in popular culture. Everyone can connect through popular culture if there's nothing else. We get our cultural knowledge about race through popular culture which includes movies, television, magazines and music (in this case, hip hop). Although she didn't discuss the modern issues with hip hop culture in the clip, she did talk about some of the origins which made sense to me when thinking about current hip hop music. Starting around the 1970s,  hip hop mostly took place at parties or on basketball courts as a casual, social, pseudo-competitive game. It was never meant to become this elaborate mainstream culture as it is now. Early hip hop began as simply taking apart already existing music like disco songs, recording something over it and transforming it into something new. Rose said that when creating an early hip hop song, originality rests in the context of how you create already existing sounds. The notion of borrowing, versioning and treatment of living material is a notion that arises out of African-American culture. Another concept that Rose brought up was the notion of quoting songs as if the artist is having a conversation with other artists. Pulling parts from other songs and putting them into your own was a way of conveying a feeling or lyric in the way you want to convey it, but can only do so by using that particular song. Another aspect of early hip hop was a representation of the decline and despair taking place in urban America after the 1960s, manifesting in limited economic opportunities. Rose said this lead to creativity. The FIRST DJ's were people who were in vocational tech schools learning to become repairmen or some other middle-low-class job who learned how to create their own DJ equipment. They knew their equipment inside and out. The guy that I'm dating (kind of, I don't know) is a total gear-head (which means he's somebody who spends a LOT of money on synthesizers, looping devices and samplers all made before 1985). He buys them, pulls them apart, then puts them back together in order to produce the best sounds. He is also, debateably, one of the best musicians I know. Anyways, Rose said that the era of early hip hop was a profoundly destructive era for Black America due to urban renewal. The music was a way to express pain, anger and "nihilism". This can be seen in early hip hop artists lyrics as well as urban culture.

On the TIME article:
Everyone is wrong about hip hop. Rose acknowledges in her FAQ with TIME Magazine that hip hop isn't dead, it's gravely ill. (That's the first line in her book too, but that's besides the point.) She elaborates on this point by saying that the incredibly rich world of hip hop has been buried by commercialized, stereotyped hip hop music. She goes on to say that hip hop was never about making money, killing everyone who gets in your way or never caring about a woman; it started just for fun and creative expression. However, in current times, artists who can SELL become famous. Even artists who aren't talented when compared to much more creative, talented non-famous artists. Sex sells. Racial stereotypes sell. The artists who can perpetuate these stereotypes get the richest and most famous, therefore further perpetuating these stereotypes. So, what's the right way to think about hip hop? Who knows! Rose says we have to be educated and think about our position in the hip hop war in a sophisticated way. Subtlety is key when thinking about what's right and what's wrong in terms of hip hop.

In the next class I'd like to discuss a likely extremely controversial topic: young, middle-class white boys and hip hop music. What is that culture like and how did hip hop become such a commercialized, mainstream genre?!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Boys (Argument)

I was very impressed by this article. Kimmel did a fantastic job of pinpointing the issues and problimatics of what's wrong with American masculinity today. I particularly liked the quote, "There's no question that there's a boy crisis. Virtually all the books cite the same statistics: boys are four to five times more likely to be diagnosed as emotionally disturbed, three times more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, and fifteen times more likely to be victims of violent crime". This, to me, reminds me of a lecture I had in Physiological Psychology. We learned in that class that the Y chromosome is tied to a motherload of genetic disorders, Alzheimers, and a bunch of other diseases that are not prevalent in women, Men die earlier, are more prone to disease, and it makes me think that men are kind of more worse off then women due to their genetic disability. I really wish that I could write more on the subject but I have to tell you that I worked 3 doubles in a row, I'm babysitting my friend Jay's cat (who is super meow-y and annoying and I have to get up at 7am tomorrow so I did the reading and I'm fully prepared to discuss it in class on tuesday, but I have to sleep and I'm really looking forward to our class and everyone in it, Love you guys. I'm fading fast. I'm 22 years old but I feel like a 78 year old man. See you guys in class on Tuesday. In the next class I;d like to discuss the concept of masculinity and what that means to everyone, Love you guys/ Catch you on the flip side.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

For our final project, raeanne, Craig and I have chosen the topic of how teenagers are represented in the media in terms of drug culture and substance abuse. It's going to be rad.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Talking Points #7 (my life is in ruins)

I say that my life is in ruins because I worked a total of 48 hours at 3 different jobs in the past 3 days. It is now 9:39pm and I'm just now realizing that I can't find my RIC ID anywhere (I think I left it at the rec center) so I don't know my barcode, therefore I can't read the excerpt from Cinderella Ate My Daughter but I really wish I could. From the blogs I've been reading, I'm assuming it's a really interesting, relevant piece that I would totally read if I could. Just trying to be honest. However, I will blog about Brave, because I was in class for that and I'm choosing to write a reflection on it. Tomorrow I plan on obtaining a new RIC ID so that I won't make silly little mistakes like this again. Sorry, Professor Bogad.

To be honest, I really enjoyed Brave and drew a lot of different connections to what we have been learning in class. However, it pulled at my heartstrings due to the absent relationship that I have with my mother. I actually found myself almost tearing up at one point. BUT ANYWAY, I continuously thought about Christensen while watching Brave. The first thing that I noticed was all of the royal women in this film were tall, white, and skinny with long flowing locks. The most important man in the film (the father/king) was tall, HUGE and ugly. He sort of reminded me of the beast in Beauty and the Beast. But he's rich and has a castle so it totally doesn't matter.

I suppose the most personal reflection that I can make about Brave is the never-ending expectations that the princess was expected to live up to. "A princess should never put weapons on the table" and "A princess should be knowledgeable and compassionate" were some of the expectations that the main character in Brave had to live up to. I thought that those expectations are exactly what young girls in our country experience daily. "To be popular, you have to be skinny." and "To be loved by your family and friends, you have to do exactly what they want you to do," are some expectations that I had a tough time with in my adolescence. The main character was expected to marry young, take daily princess lessons and learn how to be a "lady". For example, I liked going to punk rock shows. I liked skateboarding, smoking pot, making art, getting piercings and tattoos. These are not "lady-like" interests, but I always kept true to myself and that's what I thought I had to do. I come from an extremely conservative, Republican, Catholic, racist and homophobic family (yes, I'm from New Hampshire) and for some reason I always rejected their ideals. I lived up to their expectations because I loved my parents. They fed me, paid for the roof over my head and are generally loving, wonderful people.

I can make a direct and obvious personal connection to Brave. I kept thinking about this when we were all watching the film and I can't help but to share it and hope that other people see the connection too. In the film, the princess gets fed up with her mother's expectations of her, runs away, gets all cocky when she finds about magic spells, casts a spell she regrets, turns it around, then her mother and her are forever changed, they love each other again and are both changed forever as human beings and all is well in the end. FANTASTIC. I got my first tattoo after a punk show in Lowell, MA at a tattoo party. I was 16 but nobody else knew I was that young. I got a little anchor tattooed on my foot and thought, "If I just wear socks, my dad will never know. I'll keep good grades in school, make it LOOK like I'm doing everything he expects of me, and hope that he'll never know." My dad saw my tattoo one day and kicked me out of the house. He told me that "anyone with that shit on their bodies is going against God and should not be allowed under my roof". It would have been easier to go to my mom's house, but she would have been equally disappointed. So what did I do? I got 3-4 friends together, bought a huge tent and lived in the woods for 2 months. Much like the princess in Brave, I ran away. I spent the entire time resenting my father for making me homeless. I was only 16 living in the woods with some crusty 20-something year old hippies. I pretended to be happy and self-sufficient. After 2 months of homelessness, my dad finally found out that I wasn't staying at my mom's house. He FREAKED out, cried, and demanded that I come home immediately. We had a long discussion about self-identity and how much I needed his support in whatever decisions I make. He just couldn't believe I was living in the woods for 2 months. I can't believe it either. Much like the film, I rejected the "social norms", stood up for myself, and in turn, my father now has 3 tattoos and we have the best relationship I could have ever asked for. That's my reflection.

I hope to hear about what everybody thought of the reading in the next class. Like I said before, I'm a total space cadet and lost my RIC ID but I will prevail in obtaining a new one so I WILL read the excerpt. I guess I'd just like to know about what everybody else made of the film, gender roles, stereotypes and what being a princess really means in terms of the film. That's all. See you guys.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Hi. I'm particularly interested in doing my final project on media representations of teenagers with substance abuse issues. I've noticed throughout the years that teenagers and drug culture have continuously been represented SUPER dramatically and negatively. Teenagers in the media with drug problems are portrayed as "rebels", "bad kids", "punks" or using substances to act out against their parents OR to fit in with the "cool kids".

I'm a Psychology major in the CDAS (Chemical Dependency and Addiction Studies) program and I work with teenagers struggling with addiction so I know how much that stigma bothers them. ALSO, the media, in recent years, has started to glamorize drug culture in music, popular television and other forms that influence teens. There are millions of media representations of teenagers with substance abuse issues and here are a few that I first thought of:

This girl has become flat from smoking pot.

This is a mixture of clips from Skins showing attractive teenagers getting f***ed up.

Look at that! Even the Biebz smokes the reef.

Wow-ee, Look at the size of that blunt! You go, Rhianna. 

More to come.