Representation of Difference: Gays Discriminated Against In the Media
Throughout history, gays have been repressed in our society. Being openly gay was nearly impossible if you wanted to avoid ridicule and discrimination. It is only recently that our government has begun to recognize them as equal under the law, but they are still discriminated against daily.

In the media, homosexuality is the topic of many jokes and through watching these numerous television shows and movies it has become a part of our culture. People in society find it appropriate and even acceptable to use discriminatory remarks against gays. In a popular show, Weeds, there is a scene where one of the main characters goes to a PTA meeting. You hear them discussing an issue about the “gay gym teacher” and their decision to fire him based on the fact that they “don’t want a gay to teach their kids wrestling”. Through a scene like that, a television show will give its audience the impression that there is justification in firing someone from a career just because they are gay. And this allows that to continue to really happen all over the country.

Gays are not only portrayed in the media negatively through discriminatory jokes, but also in the typical stereotype they receive. If there is a gay character in a movie or on a show, they are most likely very feminine-looking and sounding. They may be very flamboyant and fashionable. Take the show Glee for example. One of the main characters, Kurt, is gay. His character is very feminine, dresses well, and even has a high pitched voice. Even if we didn’t know that his character was meant to be gay, our preconceived image of gays would lead us to assume that he was. As Matthew Wood states in his article called The Portrayal of Gays and Lesbians on TV and How Viewers React, gayness is “essentially invisible”. The fact that gayness isn’t so easily identifiable leads shows to have “adopted signs of gayness in order to portray characters’ sexualities as quickly as possible”. This affects the stereotypes we apply in the real world. We see a more feminine-looking man and we automatically assume they are gay, or we see a very masculine man and assume there is no way they could be gay. In some cases we may be right, but in many others we could be wrong. The media shows us a certain picture, and we end up labeling people in a certain way.
external image glee-kurt.jpgGay characters in television shows are also many times shown being bullied or ridiculed. Also in the show Glee, Kurt who is gay, is made fun of regularly by his peers. He was threatened and so frightened that it forced him to change schools. Even though it is just a show, this depicts a situation that happens in the real world all the time. Teenagers watch these shows and see people doing these things, and assume that makes it okay for them to do the same.

Media is extremely influential on an Americans and especially on teenagers today. Allowing gays to continue to be represented in a negative light through media will make the cultural acceptance of gays in our society even harder to achieve.

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Growing Up Female/Male in America in 2011: "What it Means To Be A Man"
Being a man has always been defined by having the traits our society has labeled as “masculine”. Men have always been tough and strong, the providers of a household, the dominant partner in a relationship. Throughout time, the idea of what it means to be a “real man” has begun to change, but there are many who are still desperately clinging to the out-dated stereotype.

Media has always been a strong source in which the typical male stereotype was encouraged. Through gender-based commercials and ads, men have maintained the role of the “tough guy”, while women are portrayed as more delicate and weak.

The Old Spice spokesperson is known for his humorous commercials. But beside from being funny, the ads also have underlying gender messages. In one of his more popular commercials “The Man your Man Could Smell Like”, the spokesperson prompts you to “look at your man, and then look at him”. He says that your man is sadly not him, but he could smell like him if he used Old Spice. He compares himself, an attractive desirable man, to other men, explaining that they could be like him if they bought this product. This does not only appeal to the men who want to be the “man’s man” that he is, but also women who look for that dominant male stereotype in a partner. In the commercial he is suddenly on a boat, telling the women they can have luxurious things like diamonds if only their man smelled like “a man’s man”. He tells them that anything is possible with Old Spice. This gives the audience an idea that a real man is able to provide them with anything they want. It makes it easy for a man to feel the need to live up to these ridiculous standards set by society.

Any attempts to stray away from the typical male stereotype our culture has become accustomed to, causes a negative reaction within the male population. In an article written after the Super Bowl, the author stated that “masculinity was in crisis”. He said that there is a new genre of Super Bowl ads aimed at the “modern man”, showcasing metrosexuals and men in more feminine roles. This brought attention to many and frightened some. With so many clinging to the traditional roles of males, it seems like it may be tough to begin breaking away from the gender stereotyping in our society.

Text: Old Spice Commercial


Representation of Power: White Supremacy
In the United States, every citizen is entitled to equal rights regardless of ethnicity or skin color. Even so, in many aspects whites hold the power. Racism against blacks still happens daily by many who work at promoting white supremacy.

Even in the media, blacks are portrayed in a certain way. They are usually shown as the bad guys, violent dangers to our society. Whites prove to be the heroes, sometimes cops who fight to put the black criminals in jail. Through these roles played out in movies and television shows, it allows society to make judgments and racist assumptions in the real world.

The movie Crash depicts many of these stereotypes. There is an array of characters, some black and some white, and their respective roles are strictly enforced. Some of the white characters in the movie are cops, while two others are victims of a carjacking. They are held at gunpoint and forced to give their car to two black men.

In another scene, a black couple is pulled over by two white male cops, and they hadn’t done anything wrong. They are forced to get out of the car and are searched by the cops. One of the cops is searching the woman and begins to put his hand up her dress. She and her husband are forced to stand there and do nothing while he sexually assaults her. To me this is the ultimate show of white’s power over blacks. The couple cannot do anything because as the husband later says “did you want us to both get shot?” The cops were able to pull them over and inappropriately search them for no reason because they would never get in trouble for it. They could easily claim the black couple was doing something wrong and potentially dangerous, and their actions were justified. In the case of two black people’s word against two white cops, it is easy to see who would be believed.

We live in a world that has always privileged whites. Racism was invented to protect white power, and through the movie Crash we are forced to see the racism that is so prevalent in our society. In a review of the movie, the writer pointed out that while the movie highlights racism and stereotypes in the world, it doesn’t help to stop it, it only enforces it. The movie is saying one thing, “We all carry around racial/ethnic baggage that’s packed with unfair stereotypes”. In order to get to the root of the problem, we must get rid of the preconceived assumptions we make in our own heads and stop giving whites all of the power.

external image crash.jpg

Text: Crash movie


Connection to Another Student Wiki

“Being homosexual, especially in men’s sports, is seen as almost a cardinal sin”. This statement couldn’t be truer, as Kyle Sanders said in his blog. The societal image we have of athletes and the one we have of gays is so entirely different that it seems inconceivable that the two could be the same.

The idea of being gay is frowned upon in our culture, and it makes it hard for powerful figures to be open about it if they are. Especially for sports figures who are role models to millions of kids, who may be afraid of losing their fans due to their sexuality. Athletes are supposed to be masculine and strong, real men. The opposite of how gays are portrayed, weak and feminine. Masculinity and being gay don’t seem to go together, so for athletes it is either one or the other.

It is a rare occurrence for male professional athletes to come out as being gay during their careers. Most wait until after they have retired, or never publicly come out at all. If they come out while they are still playing, they run the risk of losing their fans, or ruining their reputation. They may not get certain deals because agents or teams don’t want to represent them because they are gay. This could cause them to lose money, which could affect their entire livelihood. For most gay athletes, it is just easier to stay in the closet.

It is sad how media segregates gays to the point where even if you are successful and beloved as a professional athlete or other figure in society, it could all be taken away just because of what gender you are attracted to. In shows and movies, the star athlete is almost never also gay. He is most commonly a typical jock, strong and manly. This reminds me of a character in the show Glee, who is on the football team. He is extremely homophobic, and ridicules Kurt, the only open gay at the school, mercilessly. In one of the episodes though, the big jock corners Kurt in the locker room and kisses him. It is so shocking because you would never suspect that he was actually gay, because he doesn’t match the typical stereotype.