For my final assignment I chose to do a non-digital zine. My zine represents disability in the media. I chose to show both how physical disability is not only lacking in media but how disability is often portrayed as something negative. As well, characters in media who have a disability are portrayed as someone who is a freak, depressed like in the example of Quasimodo. In the first image of side by side I represented how actors who are able-bodied play characters who are not able-bodied. There is this lack of representation in media. In the last photo I chose to focus on non visible disability which can be portrayed in the media as something that isn’t real. For example someone who is suffering from a panic attack, you hear people say “It’s all in your head”.
The show Gossip Girl (2007) tells the story of a group of teens from different social classes, who live in New York and attend a private high school. The main characters consist of 2 girls (Blair and Serena) and 2 (Nate and Chuck) boys coming from an upper social class and one other boy (Dan) who is considered to be an “outsider” because he comes from a lower social class. Gossip Girl shows both positive and negative effects coming from the different social class. However, it is represented that coming from a upper social class is more desired. In one of the episodes, the show shows the characters meeting with college representatives. Blair, Serena, Nate and Chuck talk to the representatives and just mention their family name. They automatically have that connection and in to a good college meanwhile Dan who doesn’t come from a popular family has to work on impressing the representatives with his smarts. Kendall argues that “Images of wealth and poverty repeatedly depicted by the media may either reinforce or challenge readers’ and viewers’ beliefs on inequality”(Kendall, 13). Portraying both sides of different social classes in the show supports the inequality. This has also been portrayed in the show when it comes to the uniforms. Dan who is from a lower social class, keeps his uniform tidy and sticks to the dress code. Meanwhile, the other characters who come from a higher wealth social class don’t wear the uniform to dress code, they shorten their skirts, replace certain items for designer brands. “In GG, physical appearance is also appraised and is one of the main concerns of the female characters. A girl’s appearance is often addressed by others (cf. Nayak and Kehily 2008), although being accepted into the best university is considered more important.”(Van Damme 84). For Serena, she has always been used to being around people of her same social class. When she then begins her relationship with Dan who is from a different social class, she begins to see the inequality between the two. Even with her mother’s disapproval she still continues the relationship. As Stack and Kelly argued “By resistance, we mean “opposition with a social and political purpose”(Stack & Kelly 6). Serena is resisting her social purpose of dating someone from a different social group.
Analyzing Gossip Girl to a normative representative of school, the students are only shown in assembly hall where the principal is disciplining them. The students are only shown doing homework once which was when they were studying for SAT’s. Meanwhile Chuck who comes from an upper social class paid someone to take the test for him. Gauntlett argues “The media shows us situations and relationships from other people’s points of view- indeed, it is part of the eternal fascination of drama that we can see ‘how the world works’ in lives other than our own. This could hardly fail to affect our own way of conduction ourselves.”(Gauntlett 2-3). In the particular scenes where the characters are in school, they show no actual work being done giving the false idea that high school is a place where no work needs to be done and if you come from an upper social class then you can get into a good college with just your name.
Damme, E. V. (2010). Gender and sexual scripts in popular US teen series: A study on the gendered discourses inOne Tree Hill and Gossip Girl. Catalan Journal of Communication & Cultural Studies, 2(1), 77-92. doi:10.1386/cjcs.2.1.77_1
Gauntlett, D. (2008). Media, gender and identity : an introduction. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Kendall, D. (2011). Framing class : media representations of wealth and poverty in america. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Stack, M., & Kelley, D.M. (2006). Popular media, education, and resistance. Canadian Journal of Education, 29(1), 5-26.
The link below is a commercial for Easy Bake Oven taken from youtube.
The Easy Bake Oven promotes the idea that children can bake exactly like their moms but in a miniature personal size oven. Children simply take on of the packet of cake mix add water and/or an egg, put the batter inside the oven, put the timer and wait for it to bake. The actual oven itself is decorated with flower designs and is the colour purple. This product is catered to little girls so they can be just like their mommies and only bake cakes and cookies in the oven. In the commercial itself, you can see the mom in the background baking as well supervising the girls. The girls are in pink aprons and are showing how easy it is to use. The music being used is sung by a women and is very upbeat. From the article by Barthes, they argue that “All the toys one commonly sees are essentially a microcosm of the adult world”.( Barthes 53). The Easy Bake Oven toy promotes the stereotype that women only belong in the kitchen and should be baking all the time. Since the commercial itself is caters towards girls, it teaches girls that in the future this is the one role you must have and that is to be a good baker. When I was younger, I had an Easy Bake Oven but I had a different brand of it which actually was painted white, and looked more like an oven compared to this one. It even had a door, that opened like an oven compared to this version where you push out the pan. I had always wanted this toy because I wanted to be like my mom, she always used to bake things. The product is successful at marketing to the idea that you can just be like mom. The article by Wohlwend states that “ I suggest that commercially produced toys are artifacts with anticipated identities: identities that have been projected for consumers and that are sedimented by manufacturers’ design practices and distribution processes.”(Wohlwend 59). This is particular true for the Easy Bake Oven, girls are the only ones being shown in the commercial promoting that only girls can use the product. As well, the colours used on the product, such as pink and purple again catering towards a girl only product. The design in particular very round with no hard edges which could represent how girls are very gentle and have no rough edges to them.
The children’s book The Three Pigs by David Wiesner takes the original story of the Three Little Pigs and twists the story into a different version. The Three Pigs are rejecting the traditional narrative of the wolf going into each of the pigs homes and blowing down their homes. In the middle of the story the pigs are rewriting their story and breaking boundaries. Morell’s argues that the “use literacy to change dominant power structures to liberate those who are oppressed by them”(Morell, 241). In this particular literacy, the pigs are liberating themselves by rewriting the story to how they want it. For example, in The Three Pigs, when the pigs jump out of the story they first crush the page where the wolf is on. They are changing the power structure in the story, moving from the wolf to the pigs. There is not one way to tell a story it is all about how you perceive things. In The Three Pigs the representation is also far broader because it tries to tie in so many different fables and other children stories into the three pigs. This is something that is not very common today, often major news organization all report on the same thing. Morell’s argues that “Critical literacy is a reading and re-writing of the world.”(Morell, 241). In the case of The Three Pigs, Wisener is trying to represent how stories can be re-written and are open to different points of view. In particular, the pigs are given their proper voice, this can be compared to the idea that often media gives only one side of the story or a certain perspective. As the pigs moved from different stories their image changed, they had to look like the characters of the rest of the book they were in. Supporting the idea that media often portrays characters to look a certain way. This story is important for students to help them understand that it is important to question what they are reading. Asking questions like what perspective is being portrayed? What isn’t being shown in the story? Questions like these help students to become critical thinkers and also critical readers.
In the video Reel Injun, one of the speakers mentions how western films portray that all indigenous people know how to fight, ride a horse, and wear headbands. As discussed in class, media can impose different representations of class, cultural background, social language and appearance. This has affected my own personal life being a redhead or ginger to some people. Redheads/gingers have been portrayed in the media as sexual exotic being like Jessica Rabbit in Roger Rabbit or have been portrayed as the feisty type with a big temper like Merida in Brave. For myself, I’ve also been subject to these representations. I was once in a job interview for a customer service position. One of the interviewers came in and sat down and said “is your hair real?” I said “yes it’s natural”, they then asked me if I have a big temper. Not understanding why they asked me, I asked “what do you mean by that”? They then said “well, you’re a redhead, redheads have such a short temper. I don’t want to have complaints from customers that our staff was getting easily angered.” I was in shock, I didn’t have any words. To challenge the impose representation, I didn’t storm out of the interview but thanked the interviewers and left peacefully. In comparing my story to the film Reel Injun, people automatically assume these representation because they are uneducated about the actual group of people. The film mentioned, how many of the actors playing indigenous people were not indigenous and had actually never met a real indegious person before. Stack and Kelly write “Education plays a central role in providing people with the ability to denaturalize everyday media narratives. This special issue illuminates the ways in which media narratives about schools, young people, teachers, and educational problems are socially constructed”. (Stack & Kelly 20). The only way we learn to break these representations is by educating ourselves. One thing that the movie mentions was now media is now trying to actually have real indegious people portray real indegious people . As well, movies now actually show real life living on a rez in present times. This bridges the gap between older representation and new representations.
The term “new literacies” is defined as a type of literary (oral, written, reading) that has been introduced through digital technology. However, not all literacies required the technology to use it. For example; fan fiction. Fan fiction gives the opportunity for anyone to write their own story using previous characters from another story. Authors may post their fan fiction to other sites and/or their blogs. These new literacies are provided to our students in a non-formal way, students are exposed to them through, blogs, video games and videos to name a few. These are different to traditional literacy because they are less formal, what I mean by that is students are learning without even realizing they are learning. Once again using the example of fanfiction, students are able to write their own stories and get feedback from an audience who have the same interests. In the article by Alverman, he mentions about how video games bring an informal way of learning. “ game literacy refers not only to a game’s semiotic properties but also to its peripheral literacies, such as writing scripts, researching a backstory (the history behind the game’s plot), and walkthroughs (directions for playing the game), or, alternatively, participating in chat rooms, discussion boards”. (Alverman 8). This form of literacy exposes students to an informal way of learning.
In my opinion, for students to understand something they have to be able to relate to it. With that being said, these new literacies give opportunity for students to actually relate to what they’re learning. If students are interested in blogs, video games, or videos we as educators should implement these in our lessons and/or give the opportunity for students to use these literacies as a way of expressing themselves. In one of my previous classes, students were able to write their own blogs on a topic of their choosing. From what I observed students were able to express themselves more using the blog such as posting pictures, videos and comments. Students were able to learn independently and were able to develop problem solving skills. Alverman debates “A Question of Transfer” does this informal style of learning take over the formal. I personally think, that students need to have both in their learning. We can’t automatically throw out printed books for digital, as educators we should build up on the basics such as reading novels. Then once students have an grounded understanding of tradition literacy then allow them to branch out to new literacies. Alverman argue “Studies that involve mostly print-based texts used in traditional school reading and writing practices are typically perceived as having greater transfer value (and perhaps greater educational worth) than practices that engage largely nonprint texts”(Alverman 14). I agree with this argument because it helps build students foundation. From there students can then explore different types of literacies.