English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: #English1102TVFem (Page 2 of 4)

Fresh Off the Gender Stereotypes

So far in season one of Fresh Off the Boat, the genders have been fairly traditionally represented. The main characters are a nuclear family with young boys. In some aspects, I suppose the show could be somewhat progressive for the way in which the mother is represented as being rather equally in control over the family as the father. However, it is also his job that moves the family, he who is the main breadwinner, and she who is at home with the kids. For the purpose of playing devil’s advocate, it is true that she very much has a backbone and that she pushes the children in school and calls her husband on his BS, often times saving his skin at the restaurant, but she is also placed in very traditional roles, almost stereotypical for an Asian mother. This way, the show plays with the transitioning role of women in society and emphasizes the context of the character both in her sex and ethnicity in terms of her role in the family. She represents the progression of the role of women in society as she is not as empowered in her career, yet she owns being a stay at home mother and takes an active role in her husband’s business, indicating that although she is in traditional roles, she still has a backbone.

Image result for mom fresh off the boat gif

the family-friendly “yo mama”

With the issue of gender, this show is much less progressive than it could be. There are only the two traditional genders represented, and even these aren’t represented very progressively. We don’t see any instances of the characters being gender fluid, transgender, cross-dressing, androgeny, or otherwise. All of the female characters are feminine and so far all have been straight. All of the men act and dress as a cis hetero male would. The show’s cultural focus is clear. It is not gender. It is not sexuality. It is about Asian immigrants in America. In a way, I can respect this because the focus is not being distracted from. The narrative is told. However, I also take issue with this because it does not reflect the reality for most Americans. Gender is a spectrum. Sexuality is a spectrum. Fresh Off the Boat isn’t too fresh with the facts.

Image result for boom gif

that’s the tea

Crazy Ex Girlfriend and Deconstructing the Love Triangle

In the season 2 episode “All Signs Point to Josh… Or is it Josh’s Friend?” Rebecca spends most of the 42 minutes allotted looking for a heaven sent sign that will tell her whether she should date Greg, the man whose heart she has broken multiple times, or Josh, the man she has been obsessing over since the start of the show. Although she’s genuinely distressed by her indecision, there’s a fair amount of glee in her tone when she tells her best friend Paula that she’s in a “love triangle.” The Love Triangle is a common trope in media, and what is somewhat desirable about being the apex of the triangle is that the person having to choose essentially holds all of the power in the situation, while the other two can only try their best to enrapture them. Rebecca goes through the episode weighing the pros and cons of the two men, never doubting for a second that she will decide everything and that both men want her desperately. However, outside of Rebecca’s inner world, that is clearly not the case. While both Greg and Josh do want Rebecca, they are also both consumed by more important problems: Greg must decide whether to follow through on his dream of attending Emory University (far away from the show’s setting) and Josh must try to get his adult life back on track after losing his apartment with Valencia. While Rebecca imagines that she is the one making the decision that will end the love triangle, it is actually the two men in her life that decide to opt out of the triangle, with Greg abandoning his chance of a new beginning with Rebecca in favor of Emory and Josh ending their relationship after a pregnancy scare that makes him realize he is not remotely ready to settle down. In this episode, the show essentially argues how much of a fallacy the Love Triangle trope is- in reality, people rarely have such all-consuming importance to two others, and the two ends of the triangle have just as much of a say as the apex, as demonstrated by Greg and Josh’s refusal to participate. This deconstruction of a popular trope is very much in Crazy Ex Girlfriend’s purview, as the show is largely about the delusions of the main character, who often imagines that she lives in a much more romantic and Rebecca-centric world than she really does.  In a broader interpretation, this episode’s theme confronts a fallacy that most people fall into- the fallacy that we are the protagonists of the story, and everyone else are merely side characters affected by our actions.

Rebecca realizing that people around her have inner lives that have nothing to do with her

“Rebecca Tries to Make Healthy Choices!”

What constitutes a healthy choice, and how does one make them? This concept is the thematic motif of episode 4, “I’m Going on a Date with Josh’s Friend!” In this episode, Rebecca aims to make healthier choices after almost following through on the impulsive decision to have a one-night stand with a Tinder date. While Rebecca has a solidly clear end-goal in mind – to feel less regret about the decisions and choices she makes – she has several ways to go about this that the episode demonstrates.

For most of the episode, Rebecca believes making healthy choices comes down to resisting her urges. It’s why she becomes vegan, despite expressing several times how much she misses meat; it’s why she becomes Buddhist; and it’s why she goes on a date with Greg, despite being in love with and wanting to wait for Josh.

Combined with resisting her urges, Rebecca’s approach to making healthier choices also includes being more practical and less idealistic, and the episode’s two songs, “Sex with a Stranger” and “Settle for Me,” both demonstrate this dilemma. “Sex with a Stranger” musically summarizes Rebecca’s sexual experience with the Tinder date, and there’s an intriguing dichotomy present in it: the visual presentation of the song is hypersexual and idealized, but the lyrics express a more realistic thought process, featuring thoughts like how stinky his genitals are and whether he’s been tested for STDs.

This same dichotomy is even more present in “Settle For Me,” the song summarizing Rebecca’s interpretation of Greg asking her out. The video and instrumentals depict an idealized version of romance and love, complete with a dance sequence, fancy outfits, and a black-and-white tint. And yet, Greg says several awkward things, and the lyrics are literally about how Rebecca should settle for him despite loving someone else.

Ultimately, Rebecca’s approach to making healthier choices leads to more regret as she ends up making a chain of impulsive decisions – namely, eating meat and then leaving her date with Greg early to hook up with the hipster taco vender she met during the date – and at the end of the episode, Rebecca’s moved away from such an approach, acknowledging its unhealthiness.

This theme of making healthy choices – and the associated, inherent dilemma of practicality versus idealism – is relevant to the show as a whole, especially in terms of how healthy Rebecca’s pursuit of Josh is and whether it’s actually worth it. This theme is also definitely relevant to society. There’s been a cultural shift in the last several years in favor of leading healthy lifestyles, which has led to more discussion of how exactly to live healthily; and the “practical versus dream” conflict is one that emerges frequently in people’s lives, from jobs to romance.


In the world of The Handmaid’s Tale, everything’s changed. We see the oppression, the lack of freedom, the seemingly hopeless world. However, the people running the new society have a different viewpoint. Aunt Lydia claims that beforehand, the girls had “freedom-to” and now they have “freedom-from” unpleasantness.

The theme of freedom is explored thoroughly in The Handmaid’s Tale. Aunt Lydia’s words are true to some extent, but the new Handmaids have neither freedom-to nor freedom-from. Most of the Commanders, Wives, and Aunts have kept a bit of their morals from “before,” but justify their actions by creating lies that seem positive to convince themselves that this is utilitarian.

Serena’s, the wife, character has been developed more in the recent episodes. Similar to Petra in Jane the Virgin, the viewer begins to understand the character’s motivations and reasons for acting the way they do. Before the cultural shift, Serena was a powerful woman- a powerful woman who supported the ambitions of her husband and his fellow officials- and had to watch as her own power was stripped away. Not only did she lose her power, she lost love and her freedom. Although the life of a Wife is not as despairing as that of a Handmaid, they are also prisoners: always forced to watch, but not allowed to participate. I’m not only talking about the Ceremony, but Serena, a woman used to playing a big role in her life, watches as the men and Handmaid decide the path of her own life. She smokes, even though she isn’t allowed to, to gain a sense of control back into her own life especially since she has to rely on another quite rebellious woman to give her fulfillment of her own biological destiny.

In S2 E6, Serena’s past journey is revealed a little bit more and her humanity is revealed with it.

The Handmaid’s with their red capes and white wings, are to be distrusted in the society. The officials convince themselves that they must punish the Handmaids because they are distrustful, but actually, the Handmaid’s are distrustful of the government because all their rights have been stripped away from them. June claims that Gilead is afraid of them escaping, both from Gilead and from life. The society needs them to continue the human race, but also do not respect them. For them, it’s easier to torture a few Handmaids to scare the others than to try to please all of them. Aunt Lydia’s comment that they have freedom-from violence and the unpleasantness of the world is frankly untrue. They outlawed rape, but renamed it to the Ceremony. They outlawed murder, but gave the government permission to do it.

We’ve all heard that saying about how it’s better to die fighting for freedom than to live as a prisoner. But the women in The Handmaid’s Tale live as prisoners, and getting a death sentence is just hard to achieve as freedom.

Portrayal of Women in Crime Television

How do crime TV shows portray women’s involvement in violent acts?


Our research question concerns how women are stereotypically pigeonholed into certain roles in television, specifically within the crime genre. Through our research on women’s representation in crime TV shows, we hope to explore the validity of the notion that women are wrongfully exploited on TV. During our initial research process, we were able to obtain information about gender representation across a large range of multimedia: from advertisements, to movies, and finally to TV shows. As we came across a particular peer-reviewed papers, we were intrigued by how TV shows dating back from even the 1970s victimized women and portrayed them as insecure and vulnerable individuals. An article analyzing the James Bond franchise points out how female characters have played nearly identical roles in all of the movies, most of which were minor or sexual partners of Bond. Furthermore, an article by Los Angeles Review of Books provided an interesting insight into the conflict that crime TV shows face in portraying deep, compelling female characters in crime shows as it uses Detector Kate Beckett in “Castle”, for example. We’re interested to see how crime TV, as a whole, employs female characters in their stories; are we getting more complex, motivated lead detectives, or damsels in distress?


The representation of women on crime TV doesn’t just affect crime TV and actresses in the business. Misrepresentation on TV can lead to a lot assumptions in young people, and when not corrected, they persist into adulthood. Through our research, we hope to discover whether or not such a problem exists with gender in crime television. Our question is important because the first step to change is understanding the problem. TV should represent genders equally, and although it doesn’t necessarily have to be realistic, it should be fair. TV is a huge influencer in the public’s lives, and crime a hugely popular genre within it, so it should present information that supports equality between genders.


Abortion in Glow

In the eighth episode of the first season of Glow, Ruth discovers that she became pregnant from her affair with Debbie’s husband, Mark. This dilemma is used to introduce the theme of abortion and provide input on the pro-choice versus pro-life argument. Ruth – already embarrassed and ashamed by the affair, attempts to remain as secretive as possible about her pregnancy and her choice to have an abortion performed. She has no real hesitation in making the decision to have an abortion performed. Not only is she single and a struggling artist and is therefore in no real position to raise a child, she also presumably would not be able to work on Glow while pregnant and would further damage her relationship with Debbie and Debbie’s relationship with Mark. Thus, Ruth can make the decision to have an abortion with relative ease, and with Sam’s aid she goes to an abortion clinic and has the operation performed.

Ruth confirms her decision to have an abortion with the doctor

The writers of the show use this story line to exhibit how there are scenarios where a woman is not able to have a child, and in doing so makes the argument that women should have the choice to have an abortion. This argument is representative of the show’s cultural stance and input into the hotly debated and controversial topic of abortion prevalent in modern-day America. This concept that women should be able to have control of their lives and be able to make their own decisions ties back into the general theme of the show that women should be able to be independent and self-sufficient. The entire idea of a female wrestling league exhibits the concept that women are perfectly capable of doing tasks traditionally associated only with men. The fact that the main character, Ruth, is single and living alone, putting herself out into the world to try to pursue her dreams and support herself further reinforces these themes.

Girl Crush/Hit List Target: Gender Reps in Crazy Ex-GF

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is simultaneously great and horrible when it comes to gender representation, and episode 2, “Josh’s Girlfriend is Really Cool!” especially highlights this. In this episode, Rebecca meets Valencia, who’s Josh’s current girlfriend, and the episode revolves around Rebecca’s efforts to become friends with her. Throughout the episode, Rebecca’s cautioned about befriending Valencia. She’s warned by Josh, she’s warned by Paula; even Greg chimes in near the end, though his dialogue is less a warning and more an expression of concern. Despite the warnings, though, Rebecca is resolute in wanting to befriend Valencia – and then the ending happens, where Rebecca kisses Valencia and then admits that she and Josh used to date. Needless to say, that budding friendship ends sourly. Through this, the viewer is privy to a paradoxical presentation, where gender roles and relations are simultaneously progressive and regressive.

The main characters, and the main bearers of agency, in the show are arguably only women – Rebecca, Paula – and yet many of their actions revolve around Josh. There are many men-women interactions depicted – Rebecca and Josh, Rebecca and Greg, Valencia and Josh – and yet, many of those interactions are sexual or romantic. Few male-female interactions on the show are purely friendly or platonic in nature, and the ones that are – Darryl with Rebecca or Paula being the main ones I can think of – typically feature some comedic misunderstanding of one gender by the other.

The biggest example of this paradox within the episode, though, is the relationship between Valencia and Rebecca. Throughout the episode, we see Rebecca combat the idea that she and Valencia can’t be friends and must be feuding, and we see Valencia progress from not having female friends to coming to see Rebecca as a friend (before the club scene, of course.)

If only things stayed this well…

And yet, intertwined with this progress is an inherent element of competition between the two. In their first meeting, Valencia is dressed impeccably, and Rebecca is definitely not. Valencia is a yogi, so Rebecca tries to be one too. Rebecca agrees with many of Valencia’s statements, even when she has no truthful reason to; and Rebecca even wears the same dress as Valencia when they go clubbing. The song, “Feeling Kinda Naughty,” best describes this competitive envy that Rebecca feels for Valencia. To quote it: “I wanna kill you and wear your skin like a dress; but then also have you see me in the dress; and be like, “OMG you look so cute in my skin!”

I think Crazy Ex-Girlfriend does a decent job with gender representation for the most part. However, the plot and the type of humor don’t always translate to great gender representation, and in this episode, that’s apparent.

Wynonna Earp? More like Wynonna Sucks.

The writing in Wynonna Earp is mediocre at best, specifically the character writing. Not only are the characters all tropes, but they are also written in an incredibly boring manner. I will focus in on Episode 2 to give a closer look at how sucky the writing truly is.


I’d like to start first with Agent Dolls, a character so one-dimensional every conversation he has is the same. To be fair, it does not help he only interacts with one character, Wynonna, but he still fails at having any character traits other than serious. Dolls is ALWAYS talking about work and he ALWAYS sounds threatening. Most of the time he is talking to Wynonna, who is never serious, but even when he has a chance to talk to another character, he fails. When Officer Haught comes in to his makeshift office, he threatens her with death if she ever barges in again. Dolls is a simple character whose only motivation appears to be destroying the demons. Even when Dolls has a redeeming moment, saying he argued against the destruction of the town in New Mexico, the show does not explore it in any depth. Unfortunately for the show, Dolls is a totally weak character with no unique qualities.


Wynonna, the title character, is not written much better than Dolls. Admittedly, she does have more than one side. She has two sides. Wynonna’s first side is when she is speaking to Dolls. Here the show writes her as the exact opposite of him. When he is strict, she takes events with levity. Wynonna’s responses almost always consist of some wise-crack that usually fails to include any semblance of humor. I think the show is trying to portray her as a bad-ass that doesn’t take orders from authority, but instead she seems like an asshole. Dolls is usually trying to help, but Wynonna just makes a stupid joke. Wynonna’s second side is used when she is talking to her sister, Waverly. In these interactions Wynonna actually seems like a real human being. She speaks like a normal older sister would to her little sister, except she can’t resist cracking jokes. For some reason, the writers have Wynonna make wise-cracks while she is comforting her sister. Overall, Wynonna is a failure as the main character of the show. She has a flat personality and she fails to be even a little funny.

An example of Wynonna’s terrible one-liners

Crazy Ex Girlfriend’s Visual Design

In Crazy Ex Girlfriend, dark subject matter is often juxtaposed with a cheery tone (example: the cartoon sun in the intro that joyfully sings “She’s so broken inside”). The general color scheme of Crazy Ex Girlfriend provides the same kind of optimistic contrast to Rebecca’s serious mental health issues. Often, light, bright colors dominate the scene. From the setting of the scene (think the bright green walls of the bar that Greg works at, or Rebecca’s white and airy house) to the clothing the characters wear (like Rebecca and Paula’s work outfits), bright colors can be found everywhere.

In addition to providing a cheerful visual tone, color is also used symbolically, especially in the outfits worn by the women of the show. For example, in Episode 6 My First Thanksgiving With Josh!, Rebecca and Valencia display their clashing personalities and methods through the clothing they wear. While Rebecca wears light blue throughout the episode, symbolizing her thoughtfulness and how she strategizes winning over Josh’s parents in order to win over Josh, Valencia wears a dark red dress that connotes her vibrant sexuality and how she uses sex to win Josh over after a fight. In the same episode, Josh’s mother Mrs. Chan wears a light pink sweater which corresponds perfectly to her nurturing personality.

In all honestly, the direction is very standard for a TV show. Quick cuts are used during conversations to display a person’s face as they speak; long shots are usually reserved for a character’s pensive expression as they mull something over or have a realization. Where the show really takes off directorially is during the musical numbers, which are shot in a variety of ways. Earlier in the show, when Greg sings “Settle For Me,” the sequence is shot in the style of ‘3os musicals, a la Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, with uninterrupted shots of them dancing in black and white. In Episode 6, which features a lovely number named “I Give Good Parent,” however, the show goes a more MTV route, with shots where the camera rotates around a still figure, and shadows are used to convey power and sensuality. The musical number are where the true talent (as well as often the true feelings of the characters) of the show’s cinematography comes out.

Another stunning example of Crazy Ex Girfriend’s directorial versatility


One Fish, Two Fish, Red Handmaid, Blue Wife

Wow, it’s so blue. Both metaphorically and physically. That was the first thing I noticed about The Handmaid’s Tale. The show begins in a whirlwind, with a woman, later known to be June, running away with her child and husband. In an instant, the cinematography built immense tension and already had me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen.

The beginning of the show is definitely confusing. Is this the US? Is it the future or past? What are they wearing? What’s going on? The show is mostly chronological, and it gives very little backstory all at once. Instead, the directors incorporated the use of flashbacks to fill in the gaps yet make you more confused all at once. The transitions between the present and the flashbacks of the past are always very jarring. You see June and Moira enjoying a run one morning and standing up to sexist barista, then the next thing you know, June is sitting silently while the world beats her up. The sexist barista represented the slow shifting of society, which clears things up. But also, it makes you wonder what was the last straw, what made society snap?

Another thing I noticed was the use of a blurry background, or sometimes foreground, in the shots. To me, this conveyed isolation and the unknown, like women weren’t allowed to “see” what was going on around them. Physically, this could be shown by the Handmaids’ wings, a bonnet-like hat that covered the sides of their faces, preventing them from seeing out and others from seeing in.

The blue filter over the whole show makes June/Offred’s characters stand out above the rest and exemplifies societal divisions.

Speaking of clothes, the colors each social group wore added to the visuals and expressed the hierarchy and contrasts the overall color scheme. As I mentioned, the show is very blue, which of course creates a depressing mood. However, blue is also a very calm color, and this society seems to revolve around passive aggressive but calm tension. The Wives wear blue, the Marthas wear green, and the Handmaids wear an especially contrasting red. Red is often seen as a provocative color, and this labels them as whores and outcasts them from society.

Unlike books, where the words must convey visuals that each individual puts together in their head, TV shows rely on visuals to convey emotion- this is what a good show does. And The Handmaid’s Tale does just that.

The Female Companions of Doctor Who and Their Reflections of Feminist Trends: Annotated Bibliography

  1. Perryman, Neil. “Doctor Who and the Convergence of Media.” Convergence, Sage Publications. 1 Feb 2008. Web. 20 Sep 2018.


This source argues that while Doctor Who has crossed over multiple television shows successfully and in a way that enriches the world of Doctor Who, it is ultimately impossible to truly combine all three Doctor Who universe shows (Doctor Who, Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures), particularly because of their differences in maturity level of content. This article is valuable because in its description of The Sarah Jane Adventures (which focuses on a former female companion of the Doctor) are revealing as to how her character was treated on the original show, and it will provide useful evidence when discussing how the figure of the female companion has changed over the years of Doctor Who.


  1. Jowett, Lorna. “The Girls Who Waited? Female Companions and Gender in Doctor Who.” Manchester University Press, Sage Journals. 1 Apr 2014. Web. 20 Sep 2018.


This article argues that while the role of the female companion in Doctor Who has always had sexist notes and stories, the last few years of Doctor Who have especially unempowered the women in that role in comparison to earlier companions, despite the fact that the most recent female companions are bolder and more confident (classic “strong woman” traits) than before. This source is valuable because it gives an overview of the series’ lineup of female companions and gives a deep analysis of how seemingly modern and empowered women characters can fall into sexist tropes just as easily as women characters from fifty years ago.


  1. Pool, Landon Garrett. “”Girls” in Time and Space: A Feminist Analysis of the Companions of “Doctor Who” from 1963–1975.” Tarleton State University, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. Aug 2015. Web. 20 Sep 2018.


This source argues that, because of Doctor Who’s record-breaking longevity, the show functions as a viewing point for feminism through the years and its interactions with pop culture through analysis of the female companions. This article is valuable because its use of the female companions as reflections of contemporary feminist trends matches exactly with my group’s research topic, and it includes detail about early companions, which is difficult to find. It is also very useful because it is written in a more understandable and less esoteric style, which is more accessible to me and my group and will help us more than an article filled with technical jargon.


  1. McCullagh, Cassie. “The Doctor’s Leading Ladies.” Australian Broadcasting Corporation, n.p. 18 Nov 2013. Web. 20 Sep 2018.


This article argues that Sarah Jane Smith was the first truly feminist female companion of the Doctor, and that the earlier Doctors’ lack of sexuality was what allowed his companions to be empowered women as compared the contemporary Bond Girls who were given no agency or allowed to be anything outside of their relationship with Bond. This source is valuable because it provides a look into how the early female companions functioned as mirrors of the flow and ebb of the feminist movement in Western culture, and what exactly allowed them to reflect feminist trends when so many other female characters could not.


  1. “Susan Foreman (Carol Ann Ford).” British Broadcasting Corporation, n.p. 24 Sep 2014. Web. 20 Sep 2018.


This article provides a short biography of the character Susan Foreman, the first female companion on Doctor Who. This source is useful because it mentions Susan’s more feminist traits (like her unusual intelligence that she took no pains to hide), but also describes her sadly trite ending of being abandoned by the Doctor so that she could pursue a relationship with a man. This article is a great representation of the feminist and sexist writing that coexisted in early Doctor Who, and will act as a way to connect the show and feminist trends of the time at which her character was airing.


  1. Moreland, Alex. “Doctor Who Explainer – Who is Susan Foreman, and is She Coming Back to the Show?.” Yahoo! News, n.p. 7 May 2017.


This article argues that, due to a few hints strewn through the new series, there is a strong possibility of Susan Foreman’s character returning to Doctor Who. This article is useful because it goes more into depth about her relationship with the Doctor than the previous article, revealing the more paternalistic approach the Doctor had with his earlier companions and how they functioned more as his pupils than his equals.


Women in International TV Advertisements (East and South Asian Edition)

  1. Gender representations in East Asian advertising: Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea (Peer Reviewed)

Prieler, Michael, Ivanov, Alex, and Shigeru Hagiwara. “Gender Representations in East Asian Advertising: Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea.” Communication & Society, vol. 28, no. 1, 2015. Research Library, ProQuest, doi:10.15581/

As suggested by the title, this source concerns mainly around the differences between female and male representations in approximately 1,694 television advertisements, as stated by the authors, from Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea. However, rather than simply focusing on observable characteristics such as age difference between males and females on average, clothing, beauty appeal, etc. of each advertisement, this source goes into a more in-depth analysis of possible reasons these differences exist and how they came to be. It looks into the Confucian past of the geographical region and how the several ideologies that had separated the genders physically and socially continue to play a role in modern television. In addition, the source also demonstrates relationships between the degree of gender stereotyping in each nation’s advertising and some common gender indices, such as Project Globe’s Gender Egalitarianism Index, Gender-Related Development Index, Hofstede’s Masculinity Index, etc. Overall, I found this source very effective in not only determining many of the ways in which each gender is represented in a part of the Eastern Asian region and how they differ from themselves, but also in explaining these differences through deeper analysis into the past culture and use of popular statistical indices.

  1. Melanin on the Margins: Advertising and the Cultural Politics of Fair/Light/White Beauty in India (Peer Reviewed)

Parameswaran, Radhika, and Kavitha Cardoza. “Melanin on the Margins: Advertising and the Cultural Politics of Fair/Light/White Beauty in India.” Research Library, ProQuest, 2009, search.proquest.com/pqrl/docview/220814710/2623F0A5B15C46EDPQ/1?accountid=11107.

Although this source does not directly talk about gender representation in Indian advertisements, it focuses on a significant underlying concern that plays a large role in many female representations in modern Indian advertisements: the social pressure for women to invest in “fairness cosmetics”, as the authors phrase it. This, in turn, explains why such a large percentage of Indian women’s representation in advertisements revolves around the cosmetics sector over any other areas. Many of the companies involved in cosmetics and beauty products essentially take advantage of this insecurity of skin color derived from colorism’s influence in castes, ethnicities and other aspects of the social landscape of the past, along with rapid economical growth and escalating lifestyle consumerism of the present. Although it was a very complex read, I found this article very interesting and valuable, especially its analysis of the persuasive narratives of commercials for fairness cosmetic products to encourage greater sales, including their choices of advertisements and women’s purpose and representation in them. I also found it interesting how the authors also dissected several advertisements’ linguistic methods of persuasion rather than just visual, such as incorporating modern and traditional science and even some of the past heteronormative ideals.

  1. Chinese Advertising Practitioners’ Conceptualisation of Gender Representation

Shao, Yun, Desmarias, Fabrice, and C. Kay Weaver. “Chinese Advertising Practitioners’ Conceptualisation of Gender Representation.” International Journal of Advertising, vol. 33, no. 2, 7 Jan. 2015, pp. 329–350., doi:10.2501/ija-33-2-329-350.

As stated by the source itself, this source analyzes how Chinese advertising practitioners’ social and cultural perceptions of gender relations influence the types of advertisements and gender representations within them that they help create. In a sense, this source digs deep in the psychological aspects behind each Chinese advertisement’s development, specifically the aspects that help explain the differences in gender representation in many advertisements such as stereotypical depictions of women’s shopping behaviors, use of certain products, lack of women in major roles, etc. However, rather than examining multiple Chinese advertisements and dissecting each to explain differences in gender representations, this source instead examines multiple interviews with creative directors, copywriters, art directors and other staff members of China’s advertising industry to further gauge at their psychological thought process behind the development of some of their advertisements and justifications of gender relations within each. I found this aspect of this source very interesting and informative, along with how this source also lists some of western and other global influences in terms of social, professional and even cultural attributes in advertisements as guides used by many members of the Chinese advertising industry.

  1. Asian-Americans: Television Advertising and the “Model Minority” Stereotype (Peer-Reviewed)

Taylor, Charles R., and Barbara B. Stern. “Asian-Americans: Television Advertising and the ‘Model Minority’ Stereotype.” Research Library, ProQuest, 1997, search.proquest.com/pqrl/docview/236497795/8CF085648FCE48C9PQ/4?accountid=11107.

Despite focusing primarily on social and gender representation of Asian-Americans in US advertisements, this source points out a similar trend to that of the first source: Asian women are rarely depicted in major roles and, in most advertisements, appear under the shadow of Asian males, even though both genders are slightly overrepresented based on their population. In a sense, this source delves into the observation that even within a minority group usually described here as affluent, high in education and partake strict work ethic, there still exists some unequal gender representations in advertisements. In addition to that, Asian women, whether in advertisements or the ones viewing them, also have to contend with similar stereotype experienced by their male counterparts of being portrayed as overly concerned with aspects mentioned above, more so that other aspects of their lives seldom appear in television advertising. Although it was rather short for the amount of depth it covered, I found this article to be valuable in the sense that it analyzed gender and social portrayals of a minority group in US television and explained how over-representing some positive aspects eventually forms a stereotype for the minority group to deal with.

  1. This Amazing Hair Commercial Portrays Gender Labels Effectively

Tulshyan, Ruchika. “This Amazing Hair Commercial Portrays Gender Labels Effectively.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 6 Dec. 2013, www.forbes.com/sites/ruchikatulshyan/2013/12/06/this-amazing-hair-commercial-portrays-sexist-labels/#1ebc4ba48cfb.

This source analyzes a hair commercial from Philippines as “Simple. To the point. Effective”, to say the least. The commercial begins with a man leading a meeting with the word “Boss” behind him and a woman in another room with “Bossy” behind her, followed by each one performing identical actions but with different labels, such as “Persuasive” for man and “Pushy” for woman, and so on. It ends with the words: “Don’t let labels hold you back. Be strong and shine.” I found this source’s analysis of this advertisement very interesting and informative at the same time, especially when it focuses on the fact that even though the advertisement was only for a shampoo company, it can be applied universally for the message it delivers of women’s increasing prevalence in the workforce and yet their continued battle against societal traditions to get the office and even during their work. I also found it interesting when the source explained that that advertisement still succeeds in convincing consumers to buy the product since, rather than focusing on “selling the product”, it instead appeals to their values and emotions and allows them to make informed choices after weighing multiple options.

  1. 6 Indian Ads that Broke Gender Stereotypes Over the Years

“6 Indian Ads That Broke Gender Stereotypes over the Years – #Breakingstereotypes.” The Economic Times, 8 Mar. 2017, economictimes.indiatimes.com/slideshows/advertising-marketing/6-indian-ads-that-broke-gender-stereotypes-over-the-years/airtel-boss/slideshow/57538927.cms.

This source, unlike the others, includes some visuals of six Indian television advertisements in addition to a brief description of the events that occur in each advertisement. It then explains how each advertisement is helping “break gender stereotypes” in not only Indian television, but the society as a whole through the messages each advertisement delivers. I share the same view as the writers of the web source about many of the advertisements the source mentions, having lived in India for ten years myself: they particularly effective in helping achieve the goal of breaking gender stereotypes. The first advertisement features a couple sitting at a registrar’s office, with the husband announcing that he will be taking his wife’s last name; a brief scene that displays a large shift from the cultural norm in a densely populated country. Other advertisements display similar shifts from the social norms of the past, such as a female executive leader of a company who handles her work till late in the evening, then comes back home to prepare food for her husband who is still at his workplace, and many more. Although descriptions for many of the advertisements were short, each one was well chosen.



Ellen: A Comedian or A Lesbian Comedian?

Wagner, Kristen A. “”Have Women a Sense of Humor?” Comedy and Femininity in Early Twentieth-Century Film.” Velvet Light Trap, no. 68, 2011, pp. 35-46. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/896625651?accountid=11107.

In this source by Wagner, the author examines how the attitudes and perceptions of women comedians change through the twentieth century. At the beginning of the twentieth century, many people questioned the lack of inherent humor in women, claiming that humor and femininity were mutually exclusive. However, vaudeville and silent film began to slowly morph the public viewpoint. Not only were the ideas of women changing with many waves of feminism, film gave women a voice in comedy and challenged the idea that women couldn’t be funny. The women comedians played down their femininity but were also seen as unique compared to their male counterparts. Through time, humor has been used to not only create laughs, but as a way to convey societal and cultural ideas. This article provided a solid foundation for the rest of my more specific research, and it helped me understand the culture behind the emergence of women comedians. This background research will provide a useful history and context for my research on a more modern comedian.

Bociurkiw, Marusya. “It’s Not about the Sex: Racialization and Queerness in Ellen and the Ellen Degeneres show.” Canadian Woman Studies, vol. 24, no. 2, 2005, pp. 176-181. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/217464144?accountid=11107.

In this source by Bociurkiw, the author examines Ellen’s story of coming out, and what effect that has on the public’s idea of the queer community. For most of the US at the time, the idea of LGBT culture is associated with being outcast or undesired. Since other qualities of isolation were race and class, people often associated people of the community with African-Americans or people of low socio-economic status. When Ellen came out, it shocked the US because she was a wealthy, white comedian. On the other hand, people were not surprised because her “failures at gestures of heteronormativity” showed on her sitcom. Her coming out was published on Time Magazine and was shown on the “Puppy Episode” of her show, in which she accidentally announced her sexuality to an entire airport. This article allowed me to better understand the idea of intersectionality and how shifts in the perception of one social class can affect the others.

Snyder, Steven. “Ellen’s a Real Crowd Pleaser.” Newsday, Feb 26, 2007, pp. D02. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.prx.library.gatech.edu/docview/280133420?accountid=11107.

In this source by Snyder, the author examines the way in which Ellen is able to capture the attention and please even the toughest of crowds. According to the author, she killed it by “killing [it] softly”. She had no grand entrance, no jarring jokes; she utilized confidence and a natural attitude to express light humor. Additionally, she uses slight self-deprecation as a mechanism to relate to the audience by opening up a little bit and conveying that she isn’t vastly different from everyone else. She plays up her awkwardness and makes it endearing. Ellen’s hosting at the Oscars was not her typical joke after joke sets, but still, many people in the audience were laughing and enjoying her light humor. This article detailing one of Ellen’s performances gave me good insight into the kind of comedian Ellen is and how she has managed to get such a supportive audience.

Scott, Michael. “The Best Medicine: Touring a Showcase of the Essential Ellen DeGeneres — Not the Lesbian Ellen, and Not the Feminist Ellen, but the Comedian Ellen — is a Cure for what Ailed Her.” The Vancouver Sun, Jun 29, 2000, pp. C20. ProQuest, http://prx.library.gatech.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/242706440?accountid=11107.

In this source by Scott, the audience examines the power of perception and the importance of a balance identity in Ellen. Through my research, I’ve found that most articles about Ellen are about her coming out and the impact it has had on society. However, nobody wants to me defined by only one thing, and Ellen did not want to be Lesbian Ellen, especially after her coming out episode. People were so caught up in arguing about gay and lesbian rights that the meaning of the show, and Ellen’s life, almost faded away. This article is useful in helping me understand Ellen’s desires to be openly gay, yet not defined solely by it, because she has a “gift, that [she] was given… [she] can make people laugh.” She wants other people to appreciate her for the comedy and art she puts out, not as a symbol for social activism because of a sexuality she was born with.

Lewis, Rachel. “Ellen DeGeneres on Coming Out and Sexism in Comedy.” Time, Time, 7 Sept. 2017, www.time.com/4921665/ellen-degeneres-comedy-sexism-homophobia/.

In this source by Lewis for Time, the article and video examine Ellen’s journey of acceptance and how that has led to a different, but better, life for her and her career. This source contrasts the last one because it shows how Ellen’s opinions have changed from 2000 to 2017. Since the chaos about her coming out has died down, along with a more accepting society, she has stepped down from her desire to only be known for her comedy. She understands that she should stand up and be a role model. She wasn’t trying to be political by coming out, but she is so glad she did. She recalls a night doing standup in which the performer before her were homophobic and sexist, which made the crowd extremely rude toward her. Before her coming out on Time, her publicist warned her that this could destroy her career, but she was tired of hiding and went for it. Ellen was awarded the medal of freedom for being fully herself without reservation.

Roberts, Amy. “Rose McGowan’s Controversial Tweet To Ellen DeGeneres Shows Exactly Why Intersectional Feminism Is So Necessary.” Bustle, Bustle, 18 Oct. 2017, www.bustle.com/p/rose-mcgowans-controversial-tweet-to-ellen-degeneres-shows-exactly-why-intersectional-feminism-is-so-necessary-2940391.

In this source by Roberts, the author examines a specific example of criticism Ellen faces because of her prominent role in social activism. McGowan tweeted a reply to Ellen that criticized her for standing up for LBGT rights in Mississippi because other issues, like birth control and abortion were important as well. Since there are more women in the US than people who identify as LGBT, McGowan believed that with Ellen’s huge platform, she should be speaking on behalf of the larger demographic- women. This article aids in the course’s focus on intersectionality and the importance of equality for anyone, regardless of which minority group one is part of. McGowan’s tweet was interpreted by critics as placing women rights over the rights of the LGBT community, although much of the latter community is comprised on behalf of women. Although women’s rights is an important cause, the article highlights the importance of intersectional feminism, one that incorporates women of all different communities, not erasing others’ experiences or claiming some issues to be more important than others.

The Cinematography of Glow

Cinematography is, in many ways, the unsung hero of television and movies. The lighting, colors, and shot choice can play a plethora of roles beyond the obviously important fact that the choices made with cinematography sculpts how the director portrays the show to their audience. These elements can also be used for character development, foreshadowing, and as a plot device, among many other important aspects that impact how the audience perceives the show.

In this post I will take a look at some of the ways that the first episode of Glow utilized cinematography to introduce the series to the world.


Ruth delivers the wrong dialogue

The show begins with this long, close-up shot of Ruth as she demonstrates her acting chops and masterfully delivers a dialogue intended for the male lead. Ruth is kept centered and as the clear focus of attention throughout this extended shot. We don’t know where she is, or she is with while delivering this shot. For all we know, since this is the very first shot of the series, Ruth is running some business and this is not a dialogue delivered from a script, but in fact her very own words. This is because the director focuses not on providing exposition here, but instead focuses on developing Ruth. We can see the strong emotions she’s attempting to portray easily since she is the clear center of attention in this introductory shot.


Ruth enters the gym

There are also a number of deliberate lighting and color choices made throughout this episode. In this shot, where Ruth first walks into the gym where the casting for Glow is taking place, the lighting is deliberately dim, and the colors deliberately muted. This gives the impression that the setting, and the people inside of it, are in a destitute state of affairs similar to Ruth, and appear to be desperately seeking work just as Ruth is.

These are just a few examples of how the first episode of Glow utilized cinematography as a means of characterization and exposition.

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.


File:1x01 - Sully St. James 01.png

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.

Image result for gif shit hit fan

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 :)

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