Thursday, July 31, 2008

In today’s capitalistic society it is impossible to avoid advertisements. We jump into our cars each day to drive to work, turn on the radio and hear advertisements. Chances are during the drive you saw a billboard or two. But it would be too easy if they stopped there. They are in our homes on our televisions, our internet, and the magazines we read. They are simply everywhere. We live in a culture that sells any and everything. The problem with advertisements is how they portray them. Nearly every advertisement lives up to the stereotypes we have been socially constructed thru media over the years. They fill these promotions with the media’s idealistic beautiful/masculine young people. Corporate America places great emphasis on its ability to expand, produce, and sell without any concern of its negative impact on consumers or society as a whole. Without any hesitation corporations flaunt sex to promote merely any product to all age groups, thru revenues such as T.V/radio commercials, billboards, internet, and reading materials. It is extremely unfortunate that corporate America is too greedy to change its means promotions. The majority of Americans are uneducated and unaware of how media effects and shapes our thoughts. Young adolescents face huge pressures from the socially constructed idealism. They feel compelled to live up to the media’s ideals of what a perfect person is, which in turn keeps them buying the latest products to do so “teenage girls spend over $4 billion annually on cosmetics alone” (259, Kilbourne), and the magazines that tell you how you’re expected to act sexually. Advertisements rarely if ever, show the negative outcomes of sex, such as teen pregnancy, abortions, rape, or even sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s). Yet they always focus on the pleasures of sex, while a teenager can only perceives what is displayed, unless taught otherwise. But the continuous reminder people have of sex flaunted in the media makes it impossible to ignore. Instead young adolescents feel encouraged and receive pressure to maintain a certain sexual status among peers. This persuades them to start experimenting with sexual behaviors at a young age. While they receive sexual education courses, they are very narrow in their curriculum which excludes sex within pop culture. Students are exposed to sex in pop culture at a much earlier age then they are when they receive their sexual education courses which hold a more profound effect to shaping their thought and actions.
The fact that beautiful/masculine people are seen constantly produces a desire for people to emulate touched-up people. Young adolescents are also uneducated and unaware of the technical advances to each advertisement and try to live up to these expectations. Seeing woman in advertisements they are tall, skinny, without imperfections, and now days they are posing in one of many sexual positions naked or revealing more then an imagination needs. As for the men seen in the advertisements they are muscular, tall, tan, with strong facial features. Consumers are constantly comparing themselves to models, celebrities, and other famous role models instead of being satisfied with who they are as in individual. The pressure becomes so great for many and their health is affected. Females are known to starve themselves to meet or maintain the media’s idealistic weight level. “As most of us know so well by now, when a girl enters adolescences, she faces a series of losses—loss of self-confidence, loss of sense of efficacy and ambition, and the loss of her “voice,” the sense of being a unique and powerful self that she had in childhood” (259, Kilbourne) they are confused without any added pressures. Girls carry a lot of pressure on themselves about their weight, instead of being taught that it is normal for an adolescent’s weight to fluctuate, those who have these problems find that “cultivating a thinner body offers some hope of control and success to a young woman with a poor self-image” (260, Kilbourne). Too many girls suffer from anorexia or other eating disorders to maintain these “sexy” ridiculous standards. Guys however, face different but similar pressures from sex in the media. They are seen ideally as tough men and feel that they need to also be tough. In order for many guys to become this image they turn to the use of steroids to produce stronger muscles faster. It is horrible that people would perform such drastic measures to change who they are to be something that is completely factitious. Sex in the media is always portrayed as a positive, cool thing to do it isn’t showing the problematic situations it gets people in. People’s thoughts and behaviors have changed because of our sexual society people need to realize that “advertising doesn’t always mirror how people are acting but how they’re dreaming” (251, Jhally).

Work Cited

Cosmopolitian Nov. 2007
Aug. 2007
Aug. 2008

Dines, Gail and Humez, M. Jean Gender Race and Class in Media. Thousand Oaks, CA:
Sage Publications
Jhally, Sut. Image-Based Culture.
Kilbourne, Jean. The More You Subtract, the More You Add

Marie Claire Aug. 2008

Men’s Health Aug. 2008

Oprah Vol.8 Aug. 2008

Women’s Health Aug. 2008

XXL Sept. 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Emma's Wish List

Emma’s Wish List
My niece Emma is almost five years old and spoiled by her parents. When I say spoiled I mean she gets what she wants because it is easier to give then listen to a kid have a tantrum. She is constantly getting new toys, candy or whatever floats her boat at the moment. However, when I have her, tantrums don’t bother me and she knows that. I will only buy her certain toys that I approve of. I tend to stay with educational toys such as books, puzzles, or games but there have been times where I will by her the princess toys she craves. Her favorite is of course, Cinderella from Disney. She is continuously put in front of a television so that she can watch cartoons either a Disney movie or a show on cable while she is at home with her parents. Unfortunately, the amount of time I spend with her is limited due to her parents being separated and shared custody as well as my schedule. However, when I do have time with her I take her outside to play, the zoo, the beach, to parties, I try and get her involved with many various activities in which she can acquire her curiosity and to be able explore the adventure within her. If I was to create a wish list of the things I would want to have I would take into consideration the time of year her age and how she can encourage a creative side to life.
However, today’s toys tend to make that more and more difficult. The productions of children’s toys are far too often built marketing schemes that do little to enhance child development and imagination. Some of these toys have the potential to demoralize children when they realize that they aren’t built to some specifications. For example, Emma is constantly playing with her with various dolls, mostly Disney princesses. But it isn’t just playing with dolls to her it’s much more. If she isn’t playing with the actual princess doll itself she will pretend to play the character of the princess which normally makes me her mother or her “Prince Charming.” She always then makes me pretend to get married. She at such a young age is already confiding into these socially constructed gender roles. “Being the object of desire for an adult make is a roundabout method of obtaining power. Because girls are in a transitional state of their gender role.” (23,Anna White) Her imagination is extremely creative but is also filled with this unrealistic fantasy that in fact will never happen. They live in a castle, pumpkins become carriages and Fairy Godmother’s can make rags into riches. While I like Emma to have these pleasant thoughts. I want her to also know that she is fabricated from and that she shouldn’t compare or compete with these characters.
If I was to create a wish list of the things I would want to have I would take into consideration the time of year her age and how she can encourage a creative side to life. Since it is July the middle of summer I thought if I was Emma’s age what would I want? I came up with four different toys if you will. The first being a kiddy swimming pool, a few books, Disney dolls, and she loves to play dress up so I would get her a costume to play in.
When shopping online I discovered a website that is specifically designed for kid swimming pools. is affordable for its consumers and seemed to be a resourceful site. While searching thru the site I took into consideration the different ways they portrayed the different genders. I have to say that this site was not really geared toward either gender. The majority of pools had colors that were both appropriate for either gender, with the exception of a pirate pool. The pools were designed to either be simple with neutral colors or were sea animals, such as whales or fish. Instead of separating their stock by gender they separated it by category. The pool that I chose to buy Emma was in the shape of a blue rectangle. It is relatively cheap and on sale at the price of $49.99.
The second gift(s) on my wish list is books. Every night just before Emma goes to sleep at my house she gets a story read to her. She actually doesn’t like to go to bed but loves her bedtime stories. Again, Emma has many Disney related stories. But she also has many other kinds such as nursery rhymes, the Berenstain Bears, Dr. Seuss, Dora, Sponge Bob, among others. I know from going to stores and seeing children’s books that they are sometimes categorized between genders. However, when I searched for children’s books on I surprisingly found that they too didn’t separate their sections by gender. Instead, I chose an age for the child I was shopping for. There were various types of stories too and was quite pleased to find that they were extremely reasonable with price. The selection was also alarming to learn that they didn’t have but one Disney story. They provided a good amount of “step into reading” books. So since I’m majoring in Education I’ll purchase a few “step into reading classes”.
Every little girl plays with a doll at one point or another, Emma plays with them just about every day, well at least the days that I see her. While looking on at KBTOYS.COM for dolls I found that Barbie was the second doll shown. Among the many Barbie’s that were shown there were also a lot of Disney princesses and of course the now popular Bratz. Seeing how Emma has many of each type of dolls, however luckily only a few Bratz I decided to venture outside the box and get her a kind of doll that she normally wouldn’t choose. I got her something that I used to love when I was her age and a little older, a Popple. I think that it is a safe toy for her to play with that inspires her to use her imagination.
Lastly, I decided to get Emma something that would continue her to use her imagination, dress-up. Most children love to pretend to be a favorite character that they idolize. Emma’s first choice if I gave her the option would be Cinderella. It’s almost like she forgets everything else she has learned or seen and puts Cinderella on a pedestal higher then any other character. I continued my search on KBTOYS.COM and discovered the first costume is that of whom? Cinderella! But as I continued to look I see many other princesses and other cute “girly” costumes, such as butterflies, fairies, and let’s not forget about little brides. They perceive that little girls even have to be set into a certain gender role. Girls learn at an extremely young age that to be beautiful gains you privilege, although it may not be taught directly they still learn it. “Women’s identity must be premised upon our “beauty” so that we will remain vulnerable to outside approval, carrying the vital sensitive organ of self-esteem exposed to the air.” (122, Naomi Wolf) They don’t offer a variety to allow children to have options to choose from. While the costumes are cute and little girls find a deal of pleasure from them they are limited and stereotyped.
During my searches and thru different websites was extremely surprised to find that two out of four sites didn’t sell items that either sex couldn’t use. On the other sites, it was clear that they push the social constructed gender roles for children. I know for a fact that the majority of stores sell toys that are marketed toward a certain stereotypical standard for each gender role, even if I only found half of my sources who did. My niece is no exception that one day she will realize that to be Cinderella is only a dream and people really don’t life like that.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Family Guy "Don"t Make Me Over"

Family Guy is a television show that many viewers have found to be one of there favorites to watch. It is extremely funny, however its comedic grounds are found through making fun of different genders, socio-economic-statuses, and racial stereotypes. In the Family Guy (Season 4, Don’t Make Me Over) episode that was shown to us, I noticed numerous times that it was blatantly obvious that they were “making fun” of a certain group.
At the very beginning of the episode, Meg is talking to some friends about her boyfriend. Then Meg goes to see him and he is dirty, drunk, homeless, and passed out under a tree with trash all around. This implies that homeless people are dirty drunks. It makes fun of people who are a part of this SES background. Meg was dressed in her normal conservative clothing, wearing glasses and a hat with her natural brown hair down. Then she was almost immediately found talking to a popular “jock” at school, he completely put her down because she was what he had seen as “ugly,” and wouldn’t give her the time of day if she asked. This sends the message that she doesn’t meet the standards that teenage girls are expected to meet in order to get the respect of a popular guy in school. It sends the message that Meg wasn’t cool enough as herself which made her feel that she needed to change her appearance to be noticed.
With the low self-esteem that she had from her school experience, her and her mom went shopping to “make her over” into a cool kid. She went to the mall conservative in clothes that made her comfortable but left a new girl. Her mother was even picking out clothes that read on the tag “Porn Star” or “Slut.” These clothes revealed a lot of skin and made her a sex object. It was shocking that her very own mother was helping her fit into these ridiculous standards that are pushed onto teen girls. She had won a contest and received a make-over, which they dyed her hair blonde gave her contacts and revealing clothing. After the make over, she was noticed by the cool jock that made her feel so horrible earlier. This definitely sends the message that girls are noticed when they portray themselves in this manner. However, the jock still acts like a jerk and still doesn’t treat her as if she is a person and has feelings. The episode implies that the jock is cooler and hipper then her homeless boyfriend also that Meg is better after her make over then she was without it, which are two examples of hegemony.
Meanwhile, Meg’s father is worried that his favorite bar isn’t producing enough business since the super mall across the street has incorporated many bars and restaurants. This is another example of hegemony, implying that the new bigger then an older smaller business. They install a karaoke machine to drawl in customers and by accident the family forms a band. The band is named after Meg, implying that she is the star; she is the sex appeal to the band. Meg’s attitude changes after this make over. She gets noticed and knows it, starts to get a big head after she and the rest of the family are in a band. She starts treating her family as if they are below her, that she is better then them.
The band manager is an African-American man, and the family dog (Brian) is obviously a completely white dog. The hegemonic side of this is that Brian barks at the manager each time he sees him, also he makes comments that imply he is racist. This implies that white is better then black, which in reality we are all the same. Just that some people perceive it to be different.
This is a very funny television show; however, it mocks and demeans people of different backgrounds. But at the same time, it kind of shows views that are there just not talked about on a daily bases. I personally don’t watch it regularly but have found myself stopping to watch it if I see that it is on. I will probably watch it with new eyes from now on.

Family Guy "Don