COMM 370 – Week 3

9 Feb

The readings for the last week elected quite an emotional response from me.  Many of them made me rather upset at the world or disappointed in it.  Then again, there were moments of hope.

Nero’s identity as a black gay man seemed to be a rather typical story but one that was no less powerful.  I found it intriguing that he could go through so much and still reflect rather insightfully about it.  I feel like it must be hard to have someone say the accept you for who you are, and then imply that they’re not fully proud of you or comfortable with you.

Gerhard’s piece on Sex and the City got me very upset.  I have seen a little bit of the show and understood it as this ridiculous thing out in pop culture celebrating women by overfeminizing them and not showing the intricacies of their culture.  I find the show very upsetting because it suggests that you can have all of the things the women have – being sexy, smart, successful, and fabulous – only if you’re white, upperclass, and are fairly attractive.  They can engage in their sex talks because they have the freedom to choose, the freedom to explore, the freedom to put societal concerns to the side.  And yet, it is this very freedom that holds the show back because it only engages that particular audience.  I just find the idea of the women eating, drinking, shopping, and fucking so outlandish because they are let loose upon the world.  I am not asking to restrict these women, I am just calling out that the show has a very elitist viewpoint of the world.  Women viewers from all different sections can fantasize themselves into the show, but in the end they are trapped into thinking that they could almost be equals to men.  However, that equality to men can only be equalized if, like the women of the show, they retain their feminine qualities and utilize them to succeed.

I found Gerhard’s discussion of the hints or possibilities of a homosexual subtext to the show compelling.  It hints that there may be something positive and not purely postfeminist to Sex and the City.  The way the women bond together is so close.  Hell, they spend more time together than they do with any of their sexual partners.  Nevertheless, the show hints at this prospect, but it ultimately confides itself with the societal, heterosexual norm.

Cuklanz and Moorti’s piece on Law and Order: SVU was fairly compelling.  I found it interesting that they found so much positive and so many avenues explored and yet they settled that the show has a “cumulative effect of the anti-feminine traits” which “makes the series appear more misogynist rather than feminist” (124).  To me, I can see how they came to this conclusion, but they spent so much time arguing the feminist nature of the show to only round it up with one very bad dock mark against the show’s representations that brought it back down.  Then again, on further reflection, I suppose that the conclusions in the paper are sound.  The beginning of the article instills such hope for the series that it almost outweighs the negative aspects in the end.  The show represents a variety of domestic abuse often showing survivors and never engaging the audience in the actual abuse but the aftermath.  This is then coupled by feminine characteristics in the character of Elliot Stabler hindering his ability to fully perform his job.  While, Benson’s character, has to adopt masculine characteristics in order to succeed at her job.  I suppose the largest negative aspect of the show is its representation of the mother.  I found it very compelling that the author’s discovered time and again that the root cause of family abuse to be in the mother’s role rather than the father’s.  Therefore, the mother has such a large influence over the family while the father is barely present.  This seems to be a common theme for shows or media to promote one or two positive behaviors but rely on continued stereotypes that hinder themselves from being pro-feminist.

Padva’s critical look at The Simpsons was an enjoyable read.  This mostly came about in its focus on the narrative of the “Homer’s Phobia” episode.  Even in description, the show readily makes itself satirical and pro-queer representations.  The descriptions of “camp” was interesting because I kept on thinking back to my experience with the word: Boy Scout Camp, Basketball Camp, etc.  All of these things that were fairly masculinized using the word camp that Padva found the OED to describe something “theatrically exaggerated; effeminate; homosexual.”  It’s funny then that the gay character finds the Simpsons so camp when their choice of decor was probably made 8 seasons before as a stylistic choice for practical reasons and was only now being investigated for other undertones or second characteristics.  Homer’s realization in the end helps provide a great representations of queer identity: we’re all at least a little queer and we should embrace rather than ostracize it.

Similar to Nakayama’s interest in representations and prevalence of Asian-Americans, Han’s examination of gay Asian men within gay publications was very compelling because it was not something I had really considered.  First off, I’m not gay nor am I Asian.  So, that would make me more likely to be uninvolved with the situation, but, when it’s brought to my attention, I recognize it as something very strange.  The most upsetting thing about the article was that, when represented, gay Asian men are seen more as commoditities than actual people for the White gay audience.  I suppose this sort of thing affects Asians in general such as White Men’s sexual obsession with Asian women because they still look like children.  It begs the question, “Why Asian?”  Why are they so easy to turn into a commodity for western society?  These questions are the ones that underpin Han’s article, and shows that there is a large dispositional representation of Asians nearly everywhere in the west, and, when they are shown, it is for personal pleasure or humor rather than as positive portrayal of their (gay) culture.

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