English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: Callie Anderson

Cinematic Crash


Image of the plane crash from Scandal S1E

Good evening, people. I am signing on just one more time. In my last blog post, I plan to revisit cinematic elements in the Scandal show, but in episode 5, “Crash and Burn”. The cinematographers capitalize on portions of the show where characters face tragedy and crises. Specifically, the cinematographic tactics used when Olivia and her team see the plane crash site and when they listen to the black box recording of the crash.

This episode begins with the disappearance of Pope and Associates’ client, Amanda Tanner. The team goes into a frenzy and cameras switch quickly between their faces as they scramble around. The show then suddenly cuts to Quinn and Harrison stumbling down a hillside to discover the horror of a deadly plane crash. The cameras flash horrific images of burned plane pieces, smoking fabrics, scattered clothes, and even dismembered body parts. Then, it pans back to the shocked faces of Quinn and Harrison. Dramatic music plays in the background and there is a grim filter on the lens as it blinks between these somber pictures. I believe Rhimes and her directors wanted Scandal viewers to feel the gravity of the situation just as Quinn and Harrison were experiencing. Olivia and her client, the husband of the plane’s pilot, visit the site later, and the somber mood is amplified by the client’s explanation that the red flags symbolized parts of passengers bodies. The cameras then proceed to pan around the crash site to demonstrate the hundreds of red flags scattered throughout the smothering plane pieces and all along the ground.

However, I think the most cinematographically intense scene occurs when Olivia and her team must listen to the black box recording of the crash. The pilots start out just conversing between each other in a friendly manner and the camera remains zoomed out at a long distance from the team while they listen. But, as the action picks up and the crewmembers become increasingly stressed, the camera starts focusing in closely on the facial expressions of Olivia’s team. Eventually, the camera starts cutting faster and faster between their horrified faces as the recording on the box intensifies. Finally, after all this action has built up, the camera stops on Olivia’s face, which fills the entire frame, at the exact moment that the plane crashes and the audio cuts out. Thus, viewers are left with her intense look filling the screen and it is completely silent. This very dramatic sequence of cinematographic elements increases the heart rate and suspense of viewers as they watch and listen carefully to this scene, just as the team’s heart rate and suspense rose when they listened to the black box recording.

Therefore, I believe in this episode of Scandal,  the cinematographers desire to use their filmographic art to connect the viewers to the emotions and experiences of Olivia and her team.

Moral Compass and Actin’ Pompous


Good evening fellow Scandal fans!!

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** these Scandalous feelings got me like…

Tonight, we are discussing THEME. The final episode of Scandal’s first season deals heavily with the theme of morality. Almost every single main character is shown facing questions about their morality. A long chain of immoral actions and unethical decisions becomes a vicious cycle as the culprits start lying in order to cover their previous mistakes.

Well, let’s begin at the start of the episode. It opens with a very gruesome scene that places Quinn at the scene of a horrific murder. Instead of calling the police, Quinn calls Olivia. Together the team argues over whether they are willing to break the law and risk their freedom to defend someone they barely know. Ultimately, they decide to break the law, not because they care about protecting Quinn, but solely because of their fierce loyalty to Olivia.

From here, the show depicts how Billy, the victim’s actual murderer, copes with his actions. He must decide whether he will come clean, run away, or cover it up. Initially, Billy really grapples with himself after killing the victim. In private, he struggles with his emotions, but he puts on a brave and innocent face in public. Billy finally decides to lie about this incident and make up an additional issue concerning the President, raising further questions of morality.

Next, the President must decide how he will handle his immorality. At first, it seems as if Fitz will do the unthinkable and actually tell the truth about his affair(s). Shockingly, his wife and former mistress (Olivia) convince him to lie about his affair with the office aide.

Finally, David, the Attorney General, condemns Olivia and her team for breaking the law. He calls himself the law and states he will always keep it. However, in the very last scene, we see David conflicted with compassion and the moral high ground. Thankfully for Quinn, David chooses compassion. But, we can tell this decision still really bothers him, as he feels he is betraying his country and his duty to uphold justice in this country.

Overall, this particular episode of Scandal desires to demonstrate to viewers that each human on this earth will face different questions of morality. In this episode, the show asks the hard questions like, “Is doing the right thing always right for everyone?” or “Is kindness more important than justice?” and of course, “How do you internally handle your immorality?”

Obviously, a show called Scandal will be dealing with some aspects of immorality. But, by showing how each character wanted to respond to the immorality they faced, versus what they ended up doing, Scandal shows us that the world is not strictly black and white. Sometimes good people do bad things for the right reasons. Sometimes bad people do good things for no reason. And, sometimes people just don’t know what they are doing at all, but they desire the best for others.


Long Takes and Heartaches


Camera Crew with Kerry Washington on the set of ScandalS

Season 1, Episode 6, of Scandal dives into the story of how Olivia and Fitz’s notorious affair began on the campaign trail. The episode is the most fitting to study cinematography within the show because very distinct cinematic strategies and elements are used to tell the backstory and current status of the relationship.

The show is shot very methodically and has a few captivating cinematic characteristics I would like to specifically point out. For example, opening scenes and occasional transitions are shot with pans through the background setting or behind an unfocused blocking object before focusing on characters. In addition, Scandal is filmed with extremely close-up shots. A large majority of the scenes in this episode and others are purely facial. Scenes with two or fewer people hardly ever show below the shoulders of the actors.

Another factor in the cinematography and filming direction of the show is the length of takes. The most notable length of cuts are the very long scenes of just Olivia and Fitz. This episode, in particular, emphasizes their alone time through lengthy takes with only their faces in the frame. For example, twice in the episode, Fitz asks for just “one minute” of silence with Olivia and the cameras grant him both of those moments in full. The only short takes with these two characters are during sensual scenes. During the sex scene, the camera spends very little time on each frame and there are nearly a hundred different takes within the two-minute scene. The intro itself is a flash of multiple images within two seconds with a clicking noise, which imitates the paparazzi cameras.  I believe the directors wanted to stay true to the theme of the theme of the show, its namesake, scandal. The longer scenes with Olivia and Fitz are more romantic and pure. Meanwhile, the sex scene being more inappropriate (since Fitz is married) is much shorter and filmed like the intro, insinuating the scandal that it is.

In regards to lighting, the show uses it to reveal mood and dictate morality. Olivia and Fitz’s scenes are always dark with a few warm colors, indicating romance and a sensual tone.  During interviews, debates, and other campaign events, the scenes are very bright. I believe this is to show how the darkness attempts to hide the affair, but the lights used during the campaign events follow the old narrative that where there is light, there is truth. Thus, a brightly lit campaign demonstrates a candidate of truth. However, the darkness tries to hide reality.

The use or lack of color may be the most distinguished cinematic element in the episode.  The directors choose to desaturate the frames in order to reveal flashback moments. This specific episode, “The Trail” explores the Grant campaign trail of two years prior and details the evolution of Olivia and Fitz’s affair. Therefore, the lack of color in certain scenes is what tells viewers that this happened previously.

Female Host Frequency on Prime-Time TV News

Of the “Big Three”, CNN, FOX, and MSNBC, which network currently has the most shows with female hosts during weekday prime-time hours of 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.?

This research question aims to understand which major television news network has the most female hosted shows during prime-time TV during the week.  The question goes deeper than female representation on these networks, or even female anchors. Instead, the research question inquires which network gives female personalities their own show during the time when a network receives maximum viewing.  Thus, not only does the female personality report the news cycle, but they are also entitled to share their opinion and dictate their program. The way to recognize these shows is typically through the title. Usually, the host’s name within the title is a sign that the person hosts their own program, versus a title with the network’s name which indicates a regular news cycle with an anchor or newscaster.

Our group arrived at this question after refining our original topic down to a specific quantitative inquiry we could discover through research. We started with just the simple topic of Women in News.  The five group members each went in a different direction from here. Together we gathered sources which studied gender representation amongst major networks, sources which studied the types of stories women reported on the news, and sources which analyzed how often women appear in news stories. However, after combining our best sources, we decided to ask a question about power. We wanted to know which major news network gives women the largest and loudest voice during prime-time hours. Next, we decided to narrow down the networks to the “Big Three”, FOX, CNN, and MSNBC, and we chose what hours were considered “prime-time”. Lastly, we wanted to collect data from scheduled weekday shows rather than weekend shows which had less personality-specific programs.

The research question matters to us because the frequency and credibility granted to these women matters to the nation. The representation of female voice and opinion during heavy watched hours is a representation of the female voice in America. Throughout our research, we hope to understand which network best depicts feminism and a female perspective through the largest number of female hosts.


***Revised ***
Additional Comments & Questions:

  • Compare how many males host during 7-10pm
  • How does this compare to morning hours and their hosts? 7-10am
  • How many viewers do these shows get?

Make research question or Infographic title broader. Then use the specific questions and data to reveal the answer.

Willful Writing


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When words fail, fries and wine will do the trick! A few fries might have aided me in the writing of this very blog post…

In today’s blog post, I will be discussing the willful writing of Shonda Rhimes, in Season 1, Episode 3 of Scandal, “Hell Hath No Fury.” First, I will define “willful” so that the word has appropriate meaning within the context of this blog post. The definition of willful I will be using is, “deliberate, intentional, or done on purpose,” rather than, “a strong sense of will or stubbornness.” Throughout this post, I hope to show you that Rhimes’ writing obtains a very deliberate and intentional purpose.

For this specific episode and the entire series, Shonda Rhimes is credited with the writing. In addition to writing  Scandal,  Rhimes has also written other TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. Rhimes is credited with the production of other widely popular shows like How to Get Away with Murder and Station 19. She also wrote Crossroads, a film about singer, Brittney Spears. Finally, last but certainly not least, she wrote my absolute favorite movie of all time,  Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement!!! Needless to say, Shonda Rhimes has a very successful, and almost unrivaled, writing career, especially in the female television writer and producer arena.

Now, back to the third episode of Scandal.  The dialog in the show is very cold and straight-forward. The characters speak without warm and convey no emotion. I believe Rhimes does this to authenticate Olivia Pope within the harsh, cut-throat environment of Washington and the White House. In this particular episode, Olivia deals with a horrific rape case and yet she shows almost no emotion, and she definitely does not sympathize with the victim. Thus, Rhimes keeps Olivia’s female character from showing “traditional” feminine characteristics to show Olivia can handle the good, bad, and ugly, just like her male peer professionals. Therefore, the harsh dialogue discourages personal affections and reinforces work prioity.

There is no voice-over in Scandal, and I believe that again authenticates the show and its characters. Rhimes would rather have events play out and film the reactions or have the characters voice the plot themselves than have an unknown narrator provide information. The Scandal world is full of strong lawyers and highly successful businessmen, so providing information from a separate, unlinked source would not fit into the rest of the writing in this show.

Rhimes uses silence amongst her characters as a placeholder for emotion. Many times throughout the show, and especially in this episode, Olivia remains quiet instead of demonstrating her own feelings about a situation or scenario. For example, as the rape victim gives her testimony and continuously asks Olivia rhetorical questions, Olivia remains motionless and completely silent.

For this particular episode, I did not notice any literary allusions or callbacks. However, I did notice that Rhimes’ writing aims to put each character in a light of reality and truth. She does not hide Olivia’s cold heart, Quinn’s stupidity, Huck’s anxiety, or Steven’s doubt. Instead, Rhimes almost makes the faults of her characters blatantly obvious, as to appeal to viewers’ sense of reality and relatability.


Annotated Bibliography

Topic: Role of Women in and on American Televised News

Baitinger, Gail. “Meet the Press Or Meet the Men? Examining Women’s Presence in American News Media.” Political Research Quarterly, vol. 68, no. 3, 2015, pp. 579-592. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.prx.library.gatech.edu/docview/1706180070?accountid=11107.

This source analyzes why women are still a minority presence on America’s televised news networks. In the publication, author Gail Baitinger conducts a study which finds the presence of women to be significantly less than the presence of men on American’s news network. Her research focuses on the quantity of each gender within 4,200 Sunday morning appearances across the many American news networks.  One reason this source stands out and holds a particular value is that it identifies the factors determining who gets chosen to be a frequent guest on these networks instead of simply explaining how women are represented on the news or by the networks. The source is also peer-reviewed and provides quantitative data and other useful statistical figures which will assist in creating an effective infographic. It was also published in 2015 meaning Gail’s data depicts information relative to the climate of today’s newsrooms. Lastly, and most interestingly, Gail argues the fact that women appear less on these news networks is not a result of overt sexism. Therefore, this publication could provide a counter-claim to other sources with similar data but dissenting explanations.

Desmond, Roger, and Anna Danilewicz. “Women Are On, But Not In, the News: Gender Roles in Local Television News.” Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, vol. 62, no. 11-12, 2010, p. 822+. Gender Studies Collection,  http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A231826032/PPGB?u=gainstoftech&sid=PPGB&xid=8cc2e.

This source is an academic journal detailing the results of an investigation conducted by Roger Desmond and Anna Danilewicz which analyzed 580 news stories of the primary three TV news programs in the northeast U.S over the span of two weeks. Desmond and Danilewicz examined whether there was a relationship between the gender of a reporter and the type of story they reported on and whether there was a large gender difference within that correlation. They found that women were more like to report on stories that relate to public welfare and health-related stories. In addition, males are much more often asked to report on television as experts on a topic rather than females. Their findings are very significant to the topic of male dominance on television news networks, and the report reveals either sexist or subconscious choices to perpetuate the portrayal of the male gender as more knowledgeable.  The investigation was conducted eight years ago and thus lacks current political climate. However, the article was peer-reviewed and published in a Sex Roles research journal which establishes academic credibility.

Sandler, Lauren. “Beauty Tips and Politics: Hot Media News: Women Want Hard-Hitting Reports on Issues that Affect them.” The Nation, vol. 275, no. 7, 2002, pp. 24-28. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.prx.library.gatech.edu/docview/59911397?accountid=11107.

In this article, author Lauren Sandler argues that women desire to report issues with depth and relevance rather than make-up brand superiority. The article was written in 2002, during the prime age of Cosmo and MTV, therefore it goes against the stereotype of women at the time. Sandler asks that women be given relevant issues upon which to inform the public so that their presence in the media may have some significance. Sandler attempts to break the domestic chains of women in the media and ensure their stories are not limited to which shaving cream or Swiffer product works best. The source holds a different value than my previous two sources because it is not a study or investigation with specific results. Instead, this publication is a straightforward argument against locking women into a cycle of airy, plush, materialistic reports. However, the source is fairly outdated and relies on the regularity of the early 2000s reporting trends. Also, the source lacks any measurable data which can be demonstrated in an infographic, but it does provide a strong opinion.

Blyth, Myrna. Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness and Liberalism to the Women of America. St. Martin’s Press, 2004. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.prx.library.gatech.edu/docview/59863368?accountid=11107.

In Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness and Liberalism to the Women of America, Blythe argues that those few women who do hold positions in the mass media, specifically on television, broadcast their opinions through their positions which influence and shape how American women see themselves and their gender role in the world. This source is another journal article which argues a stance rather than presenting the results from an investigation or study. However, it provides an interesting viewpoint which holds its value in its disagreement with popular public opinion. The stance may seem abstract and less prevalent, but that may the exact irony of what the author wants to communicate. The very idea that this seems like a differing viewpoint may be a result of how our opinions on women and their role in society were shaped by the few women that do hold positions in mass media. However, the source is biased and loses some validation and credibility due to its strong argument against one political party. Even though it asks good questions, the article only presents points against the imposition of a political ideology through the influence of women in the mass media.

Persaud, Subriena. “Gendered Representations and Portrayals in Technology Advertisements: Exploring Variations by Age, Race and Ethnicity.” Gender Issues, vol. 35, no. 2, 2018, p. 137+. Gender Studies Collection, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A540797231/PPGB?u=gainstoftech&sid=PPGB&xid=5cade6c8.

This academic journal is an extremely extensive report capturing qualitative and quantitative data which analyzes the gender images represented in television or other technology advertisements produced by top technology companies.  The report found underrepresentation and misrepresentation of the female gender in these technology advertisements. A huge portion of this article’s significance is that its main focus is the intersectionality of underrepresentation or misrepresentation in gender, race, and age within the advertisements. Therefore, Persaud’s ultimate argument based on his research data is that African American and Latino women were missing almost completely compared to white women, and of course, white men. He also found that as age increased, the gender and race parity decreased. Even though this source is not directly related to women in the news, the source holds high value because it demonstrates with both qualitative an quantitative data how TV advertisements reinforce the association between technology and whiteness, youth, and masculinity.

Correa, Teresa; Harp, Dustin.“Women Matter in Newsrooms: How Power and Critical Mass Relate to the Coverage of the HPV Vaccine.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 2011. https://doi.org/10.1177/107769901108800205.

In this study Correa and Hard explore how female journalists affect news content when holding positions of power, reaching a critical mass in the newsroom, and covering an issue that appeals to them. It focused specifically on how male-dominated news companies covered the HPV vaccine versus more gender-neutral news companies handled coverage of the vaccine. Correa and Hard found that the more gender-neutral organizations covered the vaccine more frequently and more extensively. This source does not address television reporters, but it does provide insight on women in the news industry and women who obtain the power to dictate what gets reported in the news and how often or in what manner. The source is not the most value out of all six sources, but it does analyze the presence and role of women in a correlating and equally relevant area of mass media.


Love and Honor

Today, September 11, 2018, marks 17 years since 9-11. Thus, today seems an appropriate day to analyze the very first episode of Scandal which deals directly with military service, honor to your country, and respect. Most importantly, this episode deals with love and society’s expectation of it. In this blog post, I will analyze the gender representation of a gay soldier in the “Sweet Baby” episode of Scandal.


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Lieutenant Colonel Sully St. James, the most decorated veteran since the Vietnam War, and the primary suspect in his wife’s murder.

Overall, Scandal has a very large gender spread within it’s cast. The main character is a powerful female, Olivia Pope, and her team on the show consists of two other females and three males. Writer, Shonda Rhimes, created the show with a balanced cast, and throughout seasons 1 and 2 (all I have seen so far) the cast remains fairly balanced.  However, at the end of the day, Olivia Pope is the ultimate leader and provides an almost overwhelming female presence to the show, alone. Above, I used the term “team” loosely, as Olvia really holds all the power. Whatever she says, goes. Even though she may extend a vote to her team, she many times completely over-rides their unanimous decisions with the opposite choice.

In this particular episode, the character Quinn lacks significance. Although fans will discover her meaning later in the show, during this episode she is pointless. We actually see her loose power throughout the episode. She begins strong and confident but ends the episode crying in the bathroom.

Despite these last two paragraphs being about the presence of women and their significance in the show, I really want to write about the underlying gender representation in this particular episode regarding the gay soldier, Sully St. James. James approaches the Pope team covered in blood, saying his girlfriend is dead, and that of course, he did not kill her. Olivia goes against all members of her team and decides to take his case simply because her gut tells her to. During their investigation, the team discovers James’s alibi… He was out kissing his boyfriend!

Yes. Yes. So, uh, here is where crap hits the fan.

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Y’all, this man is crazy!!!

Sully St. James refuses to release his alibi to the public and chooses to be taken to jail instead! This drives Olivia crazy since she could have kept her client from prison and a death sentence, but instead, he chose his reputation as a Conservative, Christian, anti-gay war veteran over his innocence.

Olivia later encourages Sully St. James to think of sharing his story for reasons outside his innocence at stake. She tells him that he should be just as proud of who he loves as he is of his incredible military background. Olivia challenges the social norm and asks James to be proud of his identity as both a gay man and a conservative soldier. Thus, the show connects gender to sexual orientation and gender interactions axis of representation.

such scandalous love :)

Scandalous Intro

My motto is pretty similar to Mel’s: sit back, snack, and talk some smack.

Hello, fellow gladiators! My name is Callie Anderson, and I am a business administration major with an anticipated graduation date of 2022…ish. My overall experience with English classes has been quite enjoyable. I always learn new aspects of literature and communication, and I look forward to furthering my skills this semester. This is my second English class here at Georgia Tech. Over the summer, I took English 1101 with Dr. Rose and absolutely loved it. Her class had an urban sustainability focus which I got to implement into my life here at Tech. In both English 1101 and 1102, WOVEN serves as the platform for communication development. Written and visual forms of communication are where I thrive. I love depicting stories through artful language or by providing fun and helpful visual aids. Although I believe WOVEN is a great foundation for growth in composition and communication skills, I struggle with certain parts. Oral communication is my real-life version of Eli Pope (for all you Scandal fans). Every once in a while I can outsmart that sucker, but he always comes back to get me in the end. I rehearse, prepare, recite, and sometimes I am actually successful. But most times, even when I think I excelled, I stumble and stutter through a presentation, receiving a disappointing grade. I know my oral communication skills will not transform magically overnight, but I am hoping Professor Wilson’s class will “handle it” over time.

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Whip that communication into shape, Dr. Wilson!

My experience with the theme of this class is both limited and extensive. Many of my nights have been spent watching countless hours of Netflix shows. If the Ghost of Christmas Pasts came to see me, he would probably focus on the boat-load of hours I have wasted watching mindless Netflix shows, eating the best junk food on the planet.

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Mhmm I ain’t lying.

However, and here comes the scandalous part, I have almost no experience with feminism…

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Say whaaaaat???

Yes, you read that right. I do not consider myself a feminist. I do wholeheartedly support equal rights for women across the globe, but I hate taking on the victim mindset which I believe “feminism” embraces, especially in American culture.

This is why I chose Scandal as my TV show to analyze throughout the semester. I believe Olivia Pope, Melly, and other female characters fight to be treated equally without ever feeling sorry for themselves. Instead of stopping their jobs to protest unfair treatment while hoping for some government intervention, these women power through and fight for what they want. Not only do they fight for themselves, they usually succeed, which is quite refreshing and satisfying to watch. Therefore, I plan to demonstrate the real “feminist” work being done by these women in my blog posts over the semester. I hope that my blog posts will inspire the women that read it to put down the victim-focused protest signs and pick up their intelligent mental weapons to go get want they want and deserve.

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