Saturday, January 30, 2016

What Do We Censor? By Charlotte Osborn

     “To keep Instagram safe” was the excuse the social media mega-corporation provided when it removed Radhika Sanghani’s photo of a period blood stain. What the people at Instagram really mean was, “to shield people from the disgusting reality that many women experience on a monthly basis” (and by this I mean leaking period blood). 
     This brings up the age-old question: what should be censored?  Modern society accepts objectified, scantily-clad women on billboards and magazines as “normal,” but when a picture of a white string between a women’s legs or a red spot on a sheet appears in the mainstream, it suddenly becomes a call to arms. Is it because menstruation and the procedures affiliated with it humanize women and detract from their physical attributes? Most likely.
     But on a larger scale, the almost criminalization of a monthly bodily cycle, (that women have had since humans have evolved, just in case you were wondering how long this “period” thing has been around for), is more telling about how people perceive women and what they stand for.
     Women face every day struggles that are rarely acknowledged, even amongst other women. These struggles come in many shapes and sizes that most people are aware of yet choose to turn a blind eye towards: physical/verbal abuse from partners, the gender wage gap, societal pressure to prioritize physical looks over intelligence, and yes, even period spotting.

     I believe that if change is to occur, the qualities of women that are publicized in our society and the qualities of women that are kept hidden need to be reversed. In my opinion, the conversation about menstruation should be publicized in order to remove the taboo that is associated with it.     
left: Radhika Sanghani’s Instagram post
right: February 7,1995 on the cover of Village Voice: a photograph that grew traction in the public eye

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


     I think that in this day and age, it is difficult to truly gage the amount of media that we consume on a regular basis. One of the reasons behind this is that we've built up so much immunity to the amount of media that our society bombards us with, because we have been exposed to it our whole lives. After taking this quarter on media literacy, I know that I've questioned my own personality and life and how much of it is genuine and how much of it is has been defined by the influence of the media. It's almost to the point where I wouldn't know who I was had I been born in a different time period, without today's modern technology and mass media-consuming society.
     On this note, I feel as if the ever progressing media of our society will begin to define us, with its advertising, one-sided messages, and unrealistic imitations of reality. If we have already been defined by our consumerism ways and our gross intake of media, how much worse can it get? Sooner or later, companies are going to start renting people for ad space, or creating an entirely new identity for a person in order to represent their company, like the T.V. show Community exemplifies with the character, "Subway" (guess what his motto is. "Eat Fresh." You guessed right).
     I think that from this class, analyzing the media has helped me realize how defined our society has become by the media. It has also helped me to become more aware of the advertising around me and the messages that are portrayed through them. I think this is an essential part to have, of having awareness, as a member of a consumerism culture. Without being aware, we become vulnerable to accepting the messages that the media gives to us as the truth, when in reality, these messages are either fabrications of reality or stereotypes.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Saving Face

     This advertisement popped up on my dashboard while I was ogling over beautiful pictures of Kevin Ray from the best band ever, Walk the Moon. Talk about a distraction. It is an ad for a professional photoshopping company, that is trying to cover up the "blemishes" on the girl's face. The company is probably trying to portray the explicit message that small facial imperfections are not attractive or are socially acceptable. The funny thing is, that's what makes us humans, right? What would we be without imperfections? A society of robot-esque people from Brave New World?
     I think the implicit message that is being portrayed in advertisements such as these is that you are not socially acceptable, meaning your face is ugly, and that you will be lonely because you will have no friends unless you buy this cosmetic product or photoshopping software.
   I know that before I began looking at the media critically, ads like these wouldn't even faze me. It was like looking at the sky and seeing that it was blue. Looking at a billboard on the freeway or the dashboard on your computer and seeing something like this didn't really affect me, which is scary. Have we become so immune to the media's portrayal of normalcy that we not only have accepted it, but it has become our own standard?
Let's not forget about the men now, either. 
George Clooney is like, what, 53 years old now? Dear photoshop industries, stop trying to erase the lines on George's face. They're pretty and I like them, ask any other woman on the street. He probably likes them, too. What if each one has a story? That's like erasing parts of his life. That is morbid and inhumane, you're making him into a robot. JUST SAY NO to dehumanizing George Clooney and his face!

The "Fighting Fucktoy": MissRepresentation

     My guy friends ask me, "Charlotte, why don't you like action movies? Do you only watch old movies and rom-coms?" No, fo yo information I only watch old movies and QUALITY rom-coms, thank very mucho. But for more reason behind this, it's because I cannot sit through an entire movie where the only female actress is wearing a cleavage-showing, tight, black catsuit, and the only time words come out of her mouth are when she is trying to seduce a man. Because, duh, obviously that's all women are good for.
   This model that is used in action movies, an obscene but accurate term that is used in MissRepresentation which was called the "Fighting Fucktoy," is a perfect example of the stereotype that women must use their sexuality to gain empowerment. When was the last time you saw an action movie where all of the male characters are scantily clad and have to use their sexualization as an illusion  that they are empowered? Yeah, didn't think so. 
     It usually doesn't happen the other way around, because action films are geared towards adolescent boys. This young and highly impressionable audience of males then take the message that girls and women are only meant for a limited number of things: for their sexual appearance and their physical bodies. Consequently, this makes young teenage boys take this model of women that they see in the action movies and portray it onto the girls and females in their lives. This is totttttaaaallly warped, because Hollywood is not a reflection of reality. Lets repeat that. HOLLYWOOD IS NOT A REFLECTION OF REALITY.
     Despite this fact, a woman from MissRepresentation stated that we are still "a nation of teenage boys." She was saying that even though times have changed and women have made huge milestones in the past x number of years, blah blah blah, women are still viewed and portrayed as inferior to men, open to scrutinization and objectification from the public and society.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Dying Children: "Like" It, It Will Make You Feel Better

Problem: Haiti is hit by a 7.0 earthquake in 2010. 
Problem: Japan is hit by a devastating tsunami in 2013. 
The Solution: Clicking the "Like" button on Facebook to spread awareness of the issue, or donating $10 to the Red Cross that will more or less trickle down to the actual problem in the disaster-struck regions.
     This is one of the largest dilemmas that we face today. The eruption of mass media and communication has left us no excuse for not being aware of worldwide issues. This is true. Nevertheless, the way that many Americans and privileged countries respond to such known issues has a very minimal positive impact on the problems that the world faces today, such as starvation, sex-trafficing, mindless torture, animal abuse, child-soldiers, global pollution, must I go on? Our core class has already discussed this matter during the Africa unit about getting a selfish gratification out of donating to a charity or sharing a story about a world problem, without really shedding any light on the long-term solution for the conflict at hand. I saw these two pictures on my Tumblr dashboard, and it got me thinking: We're not really helping, are we?
     I guess the best way to approach such worldwide issues is to become more knowledgeable about the source of the problem before blindly donating to a large-scale charity,and putting other's interests before ours is the best way to go.

The MOOKS of Our Society

     "Healthy masculine energy." Could you define that for me? Does that mean being into cars, having aggressive energy, not showing emotion, having big muscles, ect, ect? Many people are not very fond of the way men are portrayed in the media. This is because they are portrayed as manly men, which is a very narrow classification of the variety of men and boys who live differently in our society. This classification is an all too common "mook" that is used by many industries for their male target market profiles. Industries believe that since this societal standard for men has been widely accepted and sought after, if they appeal to this standard then men will buy their products because they aspire to become a societal-defined man. This is such a popular "mook" profile because it offers a ready-made identity, and  provides a category of people for males who have a need for affiliation.
     In the video below, I agree towards the end when he says that when raising boys, they should have the equal influence of both their mother and father (or of a male and a female). But the way that he talks about the influence of women on their boys comes off as a stereotypical, negative thing, as if being raised only by your mother will make you less of a "man." The message that is being told in this video is that all boys have a "masculine energy" within them that they need to channel into becoming a macho man who does manly things. 
     I disagree with this for the same reasons that I disagree with the stereotypes that are set for women: 1) They are hard to achieve, and 2) These stereotypes only represent a very small portion of the variety of different kinds of men there are. Who says men have to be masculine? Who cares, anyway? For the most part, girls aren't into the whole showing off, flex your muscles facade that many guys believe is a turn-on. This will sound corny, but guys, you don't have to aspire to become something that's unattainable, or something that you don't believe reflects who you really are.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Let's Talk About the Body

     Mr. Starace said there were no limitations for the content of the media that we covered in our blogs, so I am now going to take it to heart. Yes, I would like to talk about boobs. It's ok, there's no need to get squeamish when you hear the word, because 50% of the world's 7 billion people have them. But I don't just want to talk about boobs; specifically, I want to talk about body image, and how media has warped it into this unattainable, nearly impossible expectation that people of all ages, female and male, struggle to obtain.
     I find this topic of body image largely accepted, and yet ignored and unaddressed in our society. Regarding the women in lingerie, clothing, dieting product advertisements and many others, their bodies are often warped into these unrealistic images. They are curvy, but not too curvy because that would mean they're fat (because we all know that fat is gross); they have long, skinny legs, with the definition of their leg muscles showing, but not too prominently because that would make them look too macho and manly (which is "unfeminine" and therefore unattractive); and their breasts and butts are perfectly rounded and proportional, because anything that is not proportionate to the rest of your body and is shaped differently from these women is not normal and should be looked down upon and changed immediately.
     Why can't the little imperfections of our bodies that the media tells us to change be celebrated? I don't know about you, but I find it rather boring to see the same ol' women on the magazines with their large breasts, tanned skin, and legs for days. It's much more interesting to show the variety of bodies that there are in the world, and to start seeing them no longer as unnatural and ugly, but as beautiful creations. Here is the article that I read before I went on a tangent:

     It's just not worth it. You were born with a body, and you will die with that very same body, excuse the morbidity of the truth (unless you get implants or whatever, but that's a whole different story of controversy). Who cares whether or not it looks like Kate Upton on the cover of Sports Illustrated? Chances are she was airbrushed, her skin tanned, her thighs made smaller, her breasts enlarged, her blemishes erased... And since when does our definition of beauty and normalcy have to be defined by the media? The media has only defined these two terms of beauty and normalcy into impossibly narrow, unrealistic categories anyway.

I think this is better, and much more realistic, not to mention more beautiful:

Why try to change in attempt to fit yourself into these fabricated categories made by the "beauty" industries of our societies? I say give them the fist,
and let em know that you are going to embrace your body and there's nothing they can do about it.

Boobs. Breasts. See? That's not so bad. And after reading this and you still don't believe me about the amount of photoshopping that goes into the bodies of women, think twice after watching this video: