Booty & the Beast

"American Idol" XIV Grand Finale - ShowHOLLYWOOD, CA – MAY 13: American Idol judge Jennifer Lopez onstage during “American Idol” XIV Grand Finale at Dolby Theatre on May 13, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Jennifer Lopez is a bonafide triple threat in Hollywood; the talented “Boricua beauty” from the Bronx has shown the world that she can act, dance, and sing – which is a feat that only a few have conquered successfully across all three categories in the entertainment industry. Despite the breadth and depth of her abilities as an entertainer, the media has shifted the focus away from her talent and versatility, and onto her being “the Puerto Rican girl from the wrong side of the tracks who speaks her mind. They say she is famous for her looks, her bottom, her ex-boyfriend. And her big mouth” (Molina Guzman, pg. 66).

  Guzman’s reading delineates how the media interprets and delivers different messages when talking about ethnic women versus white women in Hollywood. The negative connotations that are attached to ethnic female celebrities like J.Lo, who “embraced her booty as a marketable symbol of desirable beauty,” are meant to counteract the challenge that her celebration of her body had posed on “white cultural dominance” (Guzman, pg. 61). In order to strengthen the pillars of white supremacy, the media took to alienating and devaluing ethnic females through objectifying, hyper-sexualizing, and subsequently reducing these powerful figures to their physical figures. The weakening of an ethnic woman’s esteem in both herself and her ethnic background reasserts “the power of whites to control or contain constructions of nonwhite ethnicity in the U.S. popular culture” through the “white gaze” (Guzman, pg. 65).

This creates a perpetual cycle of building women up about something as fleeting and temporary as their physical appearance—rather than talent or intelligence—and then shaming them for being proud of the bodies that they praised them for having just earlier. As a result, there is a constant anxiety and uncertainty placed on ethnic female celebrities to make sure they fall somewhere within the realm of what’s “acceptable” by Hollywood’s white standards.

White female celebrities are not burdened with the bait-and-switch strategies employed by Hollywood the way their ethnic counterparts are. In fact, they are taking part of the shaming themselves at times. In Negron Muntaner’s article, he mentions Lopez’s own experiences with bullying from white supermodel, Cindy Crawford, who “was repeatedly quoted in the media dissing Lopez’s bodily proportions with drag queen meanness” (Muntaner, pg. 245).

In an atmosphere thick with racial tension and power-struggles, white Hollywood norms are not planning on making any concessions for people who they perceive as inferior. It’s easy to target ethnic females because of their inherent appeal to white men, and white people in general. Ethnic women like Jennifer Lopez, who is proud of her figure and works hard to maintain it, are a threat to the institution of marriage in a hegemonic society. It might be that these white men feel shame for harboring lascivious thoughts and temptations towards the ethnic female body, and their way of relieving themselves that shame and guilt is to transfer it onto the women themselves. Sexism parallels racism in many ways, as Peggy McIntosh pointed out in a previous reading, and the white male patriarchy simply cannot allow these non-white women (for whom they have lusted after and objectified as a piece of meat) actually feel good about themselves, even in a superficial way (McIntosh, “White Privilege”). No, these ethnic women must accept the sexual objectification forced upon them through the media, as well as men in general; they must accept the compliments and perform in a hyper-sexualized way – but only begrudgingly, and never with any pride or empowerment – and always as the subordinate sex and race.

-D. Liao

Advertisements

Sexism in Video Games

Violence, no matter the definition, is prevalent in modern society. It has plagued the country for centuries, through wars, terrorism and even entering homes through the media. The violence has become so prevalent that the partaking in violent tendencies is becoming quite acceptable.

The video game industry has taken advantage of this desensitized craving and made the target audience young male gamers. Cutting out violence from such an impressionable demographic was even ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2011. Ruling against the ban of sale or rentals of such games to children left open another market for more military and action games.

However, the pursuit for more a casual market of gamers was pushed towards women and older adults, but, the core audience remains with younger suggestible males. As referenced in Chapter 5 of the book “Race, Culture, and Gender in the New Media Age,” the author says that, because the demographic of the video game industry has grown tremendously male-dominant, sexism towards women is only growing (Wilson ll, 120-121).

One of the best known female characters in video games is Lara Croft from Tomb Raider. Though her bravery and strength throughout her virtual adventures can be seen as power to women, it can also show the mass sexualized nature towards women, each to be seen as just their bodies. This is rampant when Croft’s signature outfit is shorts and exposed midsection and arms in a tight tank top.

The character even took life in film when the most sexualized women at the time, Angelina Jolie, portrayed the character on screen. She was and is still sought after because of her large lips and breasts and this is only the basic form of sexism that happens throughout video games and media. Treating women as objects, for just their bodies, changing appearances and proportions of body parts, even virtually, in order to sell, is sexism.

The male demographic has so much control over the marketing and creative attention of the gaming industry, which women are being left out of even the production line of video gaming creation. The reading speaks of the 2007 survey by Game Developer magazine, saying that barely 20 percent of the gaming industry’s work force was female and only a low three percent of women were actual game programmers.

A small victory for women involved or affected by the gaming industry was in 2006 when E3 banned “booth babes,” who were women appearing scantily clad to attract the male gamers passing by. The book author quoted Simon Carless, publisher of the Game Developer magazine, who said, “It’s important for women to be involved creatively because we need to broaden the reach of games…They should be a universal art form.”

Sexism will only cease if women and men alike stand against such broodish behavior, because sexualizing women in games does not empower women of this modern age to be treated as equal and as fairly as the controlling male demographic that is still in power today.

Asian Misrepresentations

Asian and Asian Americans are a nearly-invisible group when it comes to representation and presence in media/Hollywood, despite their being the fastest-growing ethnic group in the U.S. since 2010. Hollywood’s brief and sordid interest in making Asian-themed movies during the early 20th century involved depictions and representations of Asian people that were inaccurate at best, and disparaging at their worst. The most common and ill-conceived portrayals during that time were of Asian men as sexual deviants or, conversely, as asexual eunuchs, opium drug-lords, gangsters, and evil masterminds. Asian women were portrayed almost in opposition of their male counterparts; they were usually the exotic seductress, cunning mistress, or love interest who repudiates her culture and ethnic identity to assimilate to white society (Marchetti, pp. 2-5).

What’s more, many of the Asian roles were not even portrayed by actual Asian actors or actresses, but by white ones. “The practice of white actors playing Asian and Asian American characters were not scarce. When such characters did exist, a convention of yellow face ensured that they were played primarily by whites (Ono Pham, pg. 45).” Thusly, the earliest imagery many people had of Asian people were actually of white people performing explicit yellowface, which allowed them full control of the way the character was conveyed. The image of Mickey Rooney in explicit yellowface as “Mr. Yunioshi” for Breakfast at Tiffany’s has provided yet another unsavory Asian archetype manufactured by Hollywood. His exaggerated yellowface that featured his taped eyes, balding head and cartoon-like buck-teeth did not paint a pretty picture of Asian men. “Mr. Yunioshi functions as comic relief, especially through his unrealistic desire for Ms. Golightly. His broken english, excessive clumsiness, and implausible sexual fantasy are there for the comedic pleasure of the non-Asian audience (Ono Pham, pg. 49).”

Furthermore, these images are generally devoid of historical, cultural, or racial substance. This is largely due to their being the creation of white writers and filmmakers, who had no genuine knowledge of the East and its vast array of different cultures, societal structures, languages, religious standings, and political systems. “White media producers have created imaginary and derogatory fictional representations of Asians and Asian Americans, while Asian and Asian American actors simultaneously are virtually excluded from writing or playing such roles (Ono Pham, pg. 46).” Keeping Asians out of the industry, even in Asian-themed films, has only made it more difficult for people to accept real Asians into society because of their lack of exposure to authentic Asian people that are relatable.

Postmodern representations of Asians have not changed much, in spite of the relatively forward-moving trajectory of almost all other groups. There have even been recent instances of yellowface, such as Alex Borstein playing “Ms Swan” on MadTV, or Eddie Murphy as “Mr. Wong” in Norbit (Ono Pham, pg. 52). It seems as though everyone is allowed to have a laugh at Asians, at the expense of Asians. Consequently, alienation and vilification of Asians in Hollywood has cemented their roles as “the others” in the U.S. on and off the screen.

Works Cited

Marchetti, G. (1993). Romance and the “yellow peril”: Race, sex, and discursive strategies in

Hollywood fiction. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Ono, Kent A., and Vincent N. Pham. “Media Yellowface “logics”” Asian Americans and the

Media. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2010. 45-62. Print.

Latina/o Underrepresentation

  • “Filmmakers attach conditions of poverty, marginality and deviance to the Latino male experience. The constant focus on the street life of inner-city youths and delinquents make this attachment salient and exclusive and leaves out important aspects of Latino immigration and adaptation to US society. This is important since very few cinematic narratives actually tell stories about their lived experiences and status in US society and the particular historical, political, and economic circumstances in which they arrived (Flores 1993). In essence, the narratives of these movies promote the sense that the poor and economically marginalized represent a threat to urban life and to society at large. They live broken lives in broken environments, and as a consequence have no future. Within this depiction, Latinos should not be ‘rescued’ or ‘vindicated’, since neither their families nor their communities are deemed able to cope with their problems or improve their situation. They live marginal lives and possess a marginal citizenship.” (Ana S. Q. Liberato, Guillermo Rebollo-Gil, John D. Foster and Amanda Moras, 2009, pg 955) 
  • I chose this quote and image because of how much Latina/o representations are portrayed in ways that are not accurate or positive towards Latina/os. These subliminal messages that are being projected through negative depictions of the Latin community on film and tv reinforce presumptions and hostile stereotypes. Hollywood’s inclusion of Latinos in film (mostly in the ‘90s) were often for roles that portrayed them as criminals, misogynistic abusers, comedic relief, or a deft immigrant. The audience is then influenced by these projections and as a result, that’s how some may learn to see Latinos. By only presenting the picture/imagery of troubled Latino delinquents living in dangerous and predominantly Latin neighborhoods, carrying out drug deals and beatings, and as well as engaging in implicit homoeroticism, Hollywood has constructed the image of Latinos as dangerous and lazy eunuchs, ensuring that they are seen as bad while attempting to take away their sexual prowess. Creating these roles for Latinos without offering a background story of these characters that show their emotional, social, cultural and personal struggles, or how difficult it is for Latino/as to adapt to the US and take care of their families when all odds are against them, only perpetuates a lack of understanding; it widens the racial divide, making it impossible for others to see Latina/as up close for who they truly are, which is what we all are: people.

Race and Ethnicity in Marketing and Advertising

“Asian women in commercials were often featured as China dolls– with small, darkened eyes; straight hair with bangs; and  narrow, slit skirt. Asian American women who hoped to become models sometimes found that they must conform to these stereotypes or lose assignments. (Racism, Sexism, and the Media pg. 167)”

#stereotypes #conformity #asianwomen #raceandmedia

Asian Underrepresentation

“…it makes far more sense economically to depict upwardly mobile Asian Americans alongside, rather than in opposition to, Latinos and African Americans. Multicultural advertising relies on all three of these groups coexisting happily in consumer culture, and purchasing power trumps race as a measure of differentiation. In other words, good minorities are consumers” (Shankar, Shalini; Advertising Diversity; pg 28).

-Liao