Monday, April 22, 2013

Last Talking Point (11)--Teen Voices--Reflection

I found videos that feature teens talking back in various ways. The videos I'll be presenting aren't all as explicit as the first (which will directly tackle a mediated image and the structure that created it) but I believe that all of the videos I will be including we have moments of fugitivity, moments in which these voices are challenging the dominant paradigm in various ways.

The first is a piece called "Nicki Minaj" also known as "The Mis-Education of Barbie" by Jasmine Mans (something that makes viewing/comprehension easier is to keep in mind that the parts that seem out of place, like the "It's me","Give it up" and "I annihilated every rap bitch in the building" etc etc are lines of Minaj's interjected into the poem. Mans is about 20 in this video, and given the way in which youth is a cultural construction we know that the age included is not fixable and nowadays people are considered a part of the "teen" community well past the age that stops using teen as a suffix.

Some amazing moments
"don't let the industry rape the Assata out of you"
"do you know what this media is trying to do to you? Look in the mirror, they will porcelain (barbie) doll the shit  out of you. Leave you noose-necked hanging from Zion. They will Lauryn Hill you, the mis-education of a Barbie doll coming soon. I just had an epiphany (Barbie) I think NYC is making you forget you come from queens"

I select the first quote because it's just so straight-forwardly powerful. For those who don't know, Assata Shakur is a revolutionary. She's currently living her life in Cuba after being targeted by the US government because of her affiliation with Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army. Assata is a strong and powerful revolutionary woman. She's a role model for many. I believe the Mans is pointing out that we, as women-identified-folk all have the potentiality for revolutionary womanhood (I specify because of the examples given. That is not to say that Mans would argue against the idea that we all have the potential for revolutionary person-hood, but the poem and the examples are very much woman/girl role model/images/representation oriented). By name-checking Assata she is being resistant; Assata is a name we aren't taught in most schools for a reason (and if we are taught about her she is presented as some sort of social problem instead of the true revolutionary figure that she is). In that same line Mans indicts the industry, and thus the structure the industry represented and the ideology it is putting forward (because we know, thanks to Croteau, that the media has the ability to act as a medium for dominant ideologies/paradigms)

The second quote I chose partly because I think it highlights the way in which media matters and the way in which media can be incredibly powerful.

The above is from Brave New Voices, a youth poetry competition/show. Unfortunately I don't know the names of the two boys but the girl is Alysia Harris.

The poem is called "Sean Bell" and is about the killing of Sean Bell by police officers. By recognizing this form of Black death and anti-Blackness and indicting the police state these poets are being subversive to the dominant paradigm. If we are to believe that Whiteness is a dominant ideology then centering Blackness and calling out anti-Black gratuitous violence is an act of resistance. We aren't taught to think of the Police State as "hunters of humans", but one could argue that that is precisely what the Police State is (and at this time I would like the point out that this is a discussion of POLICE on a macro level. We aren't discussing individuals but a SYSTEM).

These folk are giving a voice to a situation that has none. Sure, Sean Bell took over the media landscape for a moment, but for many he is but a memory. Much like Oscar Grant. Much like Trayvon will be in a few years (although, it would appear he is simply a memory now for many people). Much like the countless 'nameless' people gunned down and executed in the same fashion whom we will never know about. They are giving voice to a problem in our system.

The 4 girls who lost their life in the 16 Street Baptist Church Bombing
Comments (no questions today): And on the note of giving voices I'd like to end with another Jasmine Mans piece. This is a persona poem from the POV of one of the girls who lost their life in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in
Birmingham. This young girl lost her life because the dominant ideologies of white supremacy and anti-Blackness. Giving a voice to the voiceless is an act of resistance. Questioning the things that Mans questions is an act of resistance, it's not allowing the history fed to us by the media and by history texts to be the one history in our minds. Want to be resistant? Question everything. Always look critically. That is something that we could definitely take from the Croteau text and we should be leaving this class with.

Thanks for reading. It's been swell

(If any of the videos don't play please right click and just watch the videos on Youtube. They are too powerful, significant, and important to ignore)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Talking Points 10--Glee Extended Commentary

For this post I intend on providing extended commentary on Julie Kessler’s post on Glee. I will utilize not only Julie’s post but also the episodes (Pilot, Never Been Kissed, and Furt) themselves.

Before I dive in I just want to point out some of the things that I noticed. The first episode alone was filled with moments that spoke to concepts we’ve discussed and meditated on throughout the course. We were particularly able to see these concepts come up when the students were speaking about
themselves. With Rachel she talks about how she doesn’t have much time for outside friends because she’s too busy with her networking online. This immediately made me think about the first media artifact group and the Toyota Venza commercial they used. Teenagers being so disconnected from reality and subsumed into the world of hyper-reality of the internet. We also got to see a bit of Kimmel (in all of the episodes but we first see it in the episode) with the footballers harassing Kurt, and later Finn when he joins the Glee club. In the case of Kurt it was homophobia as homophobia, but with Finn it was homophobia in the way that the Kimmel article described---misogyny projected as homophobia. He had failed to be a “proper man” and they had to try and put him in his place.

Speaking of Finn, in his end scene (starting with telling Puck that he’s not quitting until the end), we see a lot of the discourse of “becoming” that Raby discusses. Finn seems incredibly conflicted with trying to be someone, with being on a journey to becoming a “man” that his mother and others could be proud of. This discourse of becoming serves as motivation for Finn throughout the series (we also see this in Furt when he’s clearly struggling with doing the right thing and being particularly hurt when Rachel says that she’s disappointed in him).
Now, on to my extended commentary. I’m basing this off of Julie’s comments/questions for class. She asks:What do you think of Glee’s overall messages? Positive portrayal of characters? Bad writing aside, do you think it makes a difference?

As I mentioned in my comment toJulie, I have a really big issue with Glee, particularly when it comes to representation. I understand Glee’s message which is basically “We’re all different and weird and come from different backgrounds with different skin colors, sexual identities, preferences, etc. We’re diverse! And that diversity is beautiful. Our differences make us special”. However, I wonder sometimes if Glee even understands its own message as often the way in which the show operates tends to contradict with this idea. Glee preaches tolerance, but the way in which it is so dependent on flagrant stereotypes is anything but tolerant. It highlights ignorance. It’s a big problem I have with Glee and, even moreso, its creator Ryan Murphy. He seems to think that because he is in a marginalized community he has some sort of skeleton key that allows him to make fun of other marginalized communities and prey on stereotypes as if they are his to “reclaim”. He’s able to use a form of hipster ignorance (which presents itself as hipster racism, hipster sexism, etc) to hide behind so that he never has to truly take accountability for the messages that he puts out in to the world. It’s as if he thinks we’re so beyond certain topics that we can joke about them in a way that simply recreates the oppression/marginalization. Casting the main Black girl and making her into some sassy diva isn’t a huge stride when it comes to Black female representation. Mercedes (the name alone preys on Black naming stereotypes). In the very first episode we see her neck-snappin’ and sassy-talking. Her and Kurt are THE sassiest characters, which is a stereotype of Black women and gay men (the sassy Black woman, the sassy gay friend). Speaking of racial stereotypes…Mike Chang?! He gets pushed to the sideline most of the time but when we do get to meditate on him we’re given  the same old tired Asian-stereotypes. It’s hard to think that it’s coincidental that he’s the one man from New Directions whose girlfriend needed to think about Bieste to cool down and not take things too far sexually. It feminized Mike in a way that Asian men have been, and continue to be, feminized and emasculated in American media. Do I think Ryan Murphy did these things intentionally? Not necessarily. Some things, such as Mercedes’ characterization, are too obvious to think Murphy didn’t know what he was doing. But other, more subtle things (like the Mike Chang example), are probably simply symptomatic of a secret education Murphy himself received overtime and is continuing to spread to others who are taking in his messages by watching his show. 

What were the things that stood out to y'all throughout the episode(s)? Which reading that we've done so far did you find yourself mentally turning back to while watching? Were there any previous texts that we've encountered that seemed to speak more to your experience viewing the Glee episodes, and if so what were they? What stereotypes did you pick up on while watching the show? Do you think that the intended message of Glee is still able to be effective even though the show and its creator continues to perpetuate various forms of marginalization?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Talking Points 9: Tricia Rose--Hip Hop/Black Suffering--Hyperlinks(?)

Texts: Tricia Rose TIME Magazine Interview and Tricia Rose's Hip Hop Wars Youtube Video

The above is a video taken during a National Action Network panel discussion on the entertainment industry. The man speaking is Radio One (one of the few major companies that own MANY radio stations, Radio
Emmett Till before (left) and his corpse after the brutal fatal beating he received (right)
One alone owns almost 70 stations) CEO Alfred Liggins . I included this video because it relates to what Tricia Rose was addressing, particularly in the TIME magazine interview. I cannot speak for these girls who spoke out during this panel discussion (quite impressively, I must say) but I must say that I agree, to an extent, with their argument. I have no issue with the proliferation of hip-hop on the airwaves. However, I wish that the hip-hop that got radio play was not the same ole' track saying the same ole' thing (get money, get bitches, get drugs [yayo, weed, and now molly]). We need more "conscious" rap on the radio. We need a diversification of what we have access to. As it stands, the popular rappers with the popular tracks are simply saying exactly what the Machine wants us to hear. The message being shared and what we are taking in falls in line with the dominant ideologies of society. 1)Capitalism--the music often praises money as being one of the greatest things on earth. Be it money made by selling drugs or money earned my slangin' beats. 2)Misogyny/Patriarchy--Let's just look at Rick Ross' lyrics about  date rape or Jay-Z's "Bitches and Sisters"
3)Anti-Blackness/White Supremacy--Lil Wayne's lyrics about beating up "that pussy like Emmett Till", Lil Wayne again, this time on a track with Drake, saying "Beautiful Black woman I bet that bitch look better red", Kanye West stated in Essence "if it wasn't for race mixing there'd be no video girls"
4) Homophobia/Straightness-Snoop Dogg Lion said "Frank Ocean ain't no rapper. He's a singer. [Being gay] is acceptable in the singing world, but in the rap world I don't know if it will ever be acceptable because rap is so masculine"

A "meme"type image I created durng a workshop in which we discussed the ways in which hip-hop has been hijacked by capitalists and other hegemonic figures who now use mainstream hip-hop as a way to spread their message. 
These are all examples from commercial hip-hop, and, as Tricia Rose said, "commercial hip-hop--that is dead". By saying that commercial hip hop is dead, what Rose means is that it has lost its way. It has gotten so far from the roots of hip-hop and what hip-hop is supposed to be, that it might as well be dead for it's lost almost all of its connection to its genealogy.
Rose does not state this outright in neither the TIME magazine article nor the video clip from the alumni talk at Brown but I would argue, and others would as well, that the origins of hip-hop are comparable to that of Black studies. In "Black Op" Fred Moten states:
This open secret...the aim of black studies...the critique of the structures and tendencies whose delimitation and denial of that aim appear integral to their own foundation has rightly been understood to be indispensable to black studies: "the critique of Western Civilization" is black studies. (1743, emphasis mine)
 Essentially, Black Studies' goal is the critique of Western civilization. It is possible that the same argument could be made for the origin of hip-hop. Particularly given a quote from the same article of Moten's in which he states:
Black studies' concern with what it is to own one's dispossession, to mine what is held in having been possessed, makes it more possible to embrace the underprivilege of being sentenced to the gift of constant escape (1745)
If we were to replace Black studies with hip-hop the first sentence would still work because an argument could easily be made that owning/recognizing one's own disposession is a large part of hip-hop, old and new. And to recognize the state of being dispossesed, of being considered separate from the rest of humanity, of being considered inferior/less than/inhuman in the variety of ways that the dominant society has created (see: Black folk and hypersexual representation, Black folk and inherent criminality/ Black folk and natural lower intelligence, the list could go on)

It is precisely for that reason that my idea of "conscious" rap is a bit more encompassing than most people's. Many only see rappers like Talib Kweli, Lupe Fiasco, and up-and-comer Kendrick Lamar as "conscious rappers" because they think they're rapping about something 'more important' than drugs, people think their raps are smarter or have more to offer. I would argue that there are plenty of rappers who are disregarded as having nothing to offer who actually do have quite a lot to say, and that those folk are plenty "conscious". The hip-hop that often plays on the radio right now, that kind of music that talks about slipping molly into a girl's drink, has lost its connection to hip-hop of "the past". But, I would hesitate to group some hip-hop that gets dismissed as garbage with that same group. A lot of "hard" rap, also known as "gangsta" rap very much deals with acknowledging one's dispossession. There is a lot of pain and hurt in the lyrics, these so-called "tough" guys are opening up about their own depression, about feeling trapped with nowhere to go, about feeling like they are outside-of-humanity. In Troublesome '96 Tupac announces that he is "hopeless", he goes on to say that there "ain't nothin worse than this cursed-ass hopeless life". DMX spent a lot of time talking about his depression, likening himself to demonic figures because that is how he saw himself (because he was looking through the lens given him by the dominant society); in "Get at Me Dog" X states that "the days are longer and seems like I'm wastin' time/I've got a lot of dreams but I'm not really chasing mine...I live to die, That's where I'm headed".
These are rappers, young men, who have been reaching out with the means that they were given. But, it is easier to simply dismiss them as criminals or "gangstas". To use their pain as proof of the criminality rampant in the Black community and/or as entertainment. Black suffering turned into entertainment for the masses.

Questions/Comments for the class:
I suppose I don't really have any direct questions, just general things that I wonder. I wonder how many people simply dismiss hip-hop or never look deeper into lyrics that they think are "garbage". I wonder how many of those people actually reflect on why they so quickly decide to dismiss this music, whether they've ever truly given it a chance or if they've allowed what they've learned through various 'secret' and not-so-secret educations about rap and the Black community to cloud their judgment. I've also got to be honest and say that I'm disappointed with the readings for this week. I was so excited for this week from the very beginning of the semester. I wish we could've read an essay of hers or two. Perhaps there'd be less breadth, but I think the depth that we'd get would be beneficial for the class.

ETA: Rachelle's blog post reminded me of one of my favorite Talib Kweli songs. I linked a bunch of rappers that I'd argue should join the ranks of conscious rappers, I might as well include a song by a a rapper unquestionably considered "conscious" by most hip-hop heads and fair-weather fans alike. He's amazing, and unlike Mos Def who I have problems with after watching Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, he's also quite consistent and never seems to front.
anyway, enjoy two Talib videos. First is "Beautiful Struggle" and the other is 'Black Girl Pain' featuring a fantastic woman rapper who does not get nearly enough love. Both are from his album "Beautiful Struggle"

Monday, April 1, 2013

Talking Points 8--Kimmel & Mahler: Adolescent Masculinity, Homophobia, and Violence (Argument)

In "Adolescent Masculinity, Homophobia, and Violence: Random School Shootings, 1982-2001" Michael Kimmel and Matthew Mahler argue that masculinity, and feelings of inferiority as it pertains to masculinity, may be the major contributing factor to acts of mass violence, particularly in schools. They argue that masculinity, more specifically White masculinity, may be intrinsically* linked with acts of violence. Throughout the article Kimmel and Mahler note how homophobia is often fueling the ways in which boys tease other boys as a way to call their masculinity in to question. The authors also address ways in which young men can resist certain factors that might crack others and cause them to turn to violent means as payback.

Above I note that the authors argue that White masculinity may be intrinsically linked to violence. That is my perception of their argument and the article, not necessarily something that they explicitly stated. In fact, one could argue that they believe the opposite to be true, that violence in not inherent in White masculinity. On page 1440 they conclude their introduction stating that "in [their] view, these boys are not psychopatholoical deviants but rather overconformists to a particular normative construction of masculinity, a construction that defines violence as a legitimate response to a perceived humiliation". This particular line can be read in a variety of ways, but I choose to read it as I've expressed above. The issue I have with this statement of theirs is the same issue that I have with a few other points found in this article: they don't go far enough. I don't think they level a harsh enough critique. These boys, these shooters, aren't overconformists. They are simply conformists who needed to prove that they were in fact still "men" and chose the grandest ways of doing so according to the doctrine of masculinity that they abide by. It is because of this fact that I feel comfortable stating that White masculinity is intrinsically violent, for it is not the same as me saying that men  are intrinsically violent but rather that the idea of what it is to be a man in our society has its foundation on violence and domination, particularly as it pertains to the White patriarch.

The other aspect of this article where I feel they do not go far enough or explore deep enough is their usage of homophobia. I don't disagree with their argument that homophobia plays a large role in the ways in which men have their masculinity put into question. I would argue, however, that as it pertains to the situations in this article it would have been better if they acknowledged that this particular form of homophobia has its roots in patriarchy and have very little to do with actual hatred and fear of the gay community. They come so very close but they drop the ball several times. For example, when they snarkily quoted Eminem and his idea of the word "faggot", they should have followed that quotation with a deeper exploration of the fact that this homophobic slur has little to do with being "Gay" and everything to do with being an inferior man. For the homophobia that many of these bullied boys face has very little to do with a hatred and fear of gay men, as stated above, and a lot to do with a hatred and intense fear of being an imperfect/failed man. And, if we go back to the 13th century church, women are imperfect men (Albert Magnus: Woman is an imperfect man and possesses, compared to him, a defective and deficient nature). There exists, possibly particularly amongst adolescent men but I doubt it is confined to that age group, a deep fear in many men of being "woman-like". The concept of masculinity that men in our society have been socialized to believe is one that has its foundation in hating women at the core. It is thought, mostly subconsciously, that to be a woman (when we're talking simply of patriarchy and not involving other factors such as race. If we were to explore race here then this concept would become far more complex) is the worst thing to be. In C.J. Pascoes' "'Dude, Youre a Fag': Adolescent Masculinity and the Fag Discourse" Pascoe states that "the relationship between adolescent masculinity and sexuality is embedded in the specter of the faggot. Faggots represent a penetrated masculinity in which 'to be penetrated is to abdicate power'...Penetrated men symbolize a masculinity devoid of power, which, in its contradiction, threatens both psychic and social chaos. It is precisely this specter of penetrated masculinity that functions as a regulatory mechanism of gender for contemporary American adolescent boys". She goes on to argue that "'Homophobia' is too facile a term with which to describe the deployment of "fag" as an epithet. By calling the use of the word "fag" homopobia--and letting the argument stop with that point--...obscures the gendered nature of the sexualized insults" (124).

This is not to say that "fag" or other forms of homophobic taunts and behavior are never just that, homophobic. But, in these instances, so often these slurs have very little to do with the sexual identity of the boys that are at the receiving end and everything to do with throwing that boy's masculinity into question. As Pascoe found in her research, and the quote that Kimmel and Mahler used of Eminem's supports, to be gay does not necessarily throw an individual's manhood into crisis (or, rather, does not necessarily throw an individual's manhood into crisis in the eyes of others. For that's what this is all about in the end, the perception of one's masculinity. These boys have to constantly prove their manhood to others, very little is actually about the way one feels about themselves). Pascoe states that "according to this group of boys, gay is a legitimate, if marginalized  social identity. If a man is gay, there may be a chance he could be considered masculine by other men". But, to be gay or "a fag" in the pejorative way used by these young men, does not mean to sleep with other men but rather to be a failed man.

I think that Kimmel and Mahler's article could only have benefited form a deeper exploration of the complexities of the "homophobia" that they cite as a factor in violent White masculinity. Although I think that this exploration would only have strengthened their argument, I also appreciate the strength and content of this piece as well as their section regarding resistance and acts of resilience. And I do acknowledge that I am  doing a disservice to anyone reading this by not fully exploring my own usage of "White masculinity" instead of simply "Masculinity". Part of my reasoning in doing this is because Kimmel and Mahler themselves are concerned with White masculinity, not masculinity across racial axes and so to simply use "masculinity" without the qualifier would be to skew and misrepresent their argument.

Questions for the class:
Did you find yourself disagreeing with points brought up in this article? Was it difficult for you to read this analysis of masculinity and keep your mind on the macro level or did you find that there were moments where you said to yourself "Well, my guy friends are nothing like this, so maybe there's not that much validity here?". I'm always interested to see the ways in which conversations/readings that are about structural issues end up getting derailed by a focus on the individual, and it's interesting to see the ways in which people struggle to maintain a macro-lens. It's a constant struggle, particularly when studying structural inequalities, but it is something that we would all do best to remember, that individuals may seem to be exceptional but they do not invalidate arguments about systematic/structural problems.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Talking Points 7: Brave, Orenstein--Connections

After reading Orenstein's chapters, particularly the section on "Pinkification" and then reading Tyne's blog regarding the Steubenville rape case, it only made sense that this performance came to mind. I'm glad I was able to find it as for a moment the poet's name escaped me but luckily I had posted it to tumblr a year or so ago and it was easy to find (that's why tagging is important, y'all!)
I'll post the text of it at the end of this post. Do watch the video, it's powerful

EDIT: For whatever reason the video isn't playing from here. Go watch it on youtube
Anywho, onto the post.

                Reading the Peggy Orenstein excerpts from Cinderella Ate My Daughter served not only to be a good supplement to the Pixar film Brave but also to our course assumptions, particularly the second (Youth is a Culturally Constructed Category). In the chapter “Pinked!” Orenstein gives many examples of how youth, and various stages of youth, are truly just cultural constructs and nothing more. Not only are these categories cultural constructs but they have been constructed to uphold our society’s dominant ideology of Capitalism. As Raby noted in “A Tangle of Discourses: Girls Negotiating Adolescence”, pleasurable consumption is a dominant discourse of teenagehood:
Youth today are courted as a high-consumer group, and are modelled in the
media as the ideal age, with teenagehood constituting the onset of ‘the best years
of your life’. Social historians often connect the emergence of adolescence to
processes of production and patterns of consumption (Raby, 437).
What Orenstein’s text makes clear is that teenagers aren’t the only valuable group that marketers target. The whole Princess line was created because of its marketability. Dora the Explorer, supposedly an example of Nickolodean’s subversive gender portrayals, might as well be a part of the Disney Princess line when it comes to her toys and other merchandise (Orenstein, 42). What’s actually good for the children, in this case the young girls’, psyche isn’t even a factor passed the first stage of product development. More important than teaching girls that they can be a wide variety of things, that they can embody a multitude of characteristics and interests, is cash-money. How does that not disgust everyone?

Another truly sad thing about many popular girls’ toys, particularly the Disney Princess line, is that these toys put docility and fragility on pedestal. It’s not as if these Disney Princesses are giving us subversive takes on what a princess is. They are very much in line with what we would expect. The Princesses that are showcased are always waiting for “True Love’s Kiss”, they love their man with every fiber of their being and would sacrifice themselves for said man, they often enjoy cleaning or are at least very good at it. They rarely have much motivation beyond love, and even if they started out with others motivations half way through their story LOVE becomes the biggest thing on their mind. There’s nothing wrong with love and wanting to be in a happy and fulfilling relationship, but to teach our young girls that that’s what their main focus to be is a great detriment. Even the princesses who we think combat the dominant depiction of the servile and fragile princess actually aren’t subversive at all.. In Croteau’s “Media and Ideology” he notes:
Research on the ideology of media has included a debate between those who argue that media promote the worldview of the powerful—the “dominant ideology”—and those who argue that mass media texts include more contradictory messages, both expressing the “dominant ideology” and at least partially challenging worldviews (Croteau, 161)

Where Croteau doesn’t go far enough, in this particular piece, is that he does not address how the seemingly contradictory messages are often just disguises, Trojan horses if you will. Take Mulan for example. I wrote about this before in a comment section to Julie’s second blog post on Christensen’s “Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us”. Mulan is NOT the gender-bending badass “Princess” that people like to believe she is. Nala, from Lion Kind, is more badass than Mulan to be honest. Mulan is a strong woman, yes, but the strength that she exhibits is simply a different expression of the same beliefs as the other princesses. Mulan’s great sacrifice, risking her life to fight, was in order to protect her father. It was an act of selflessness, which is a characteristic that we often teach to our young girls. Selflessness, self-sacrifice, these are traits that we instill, usually covertly, to the young women in society. In moderation these traits aren’t terrible, and in fact can serve to make someone a compassionate human being. However, girls aren’t often taught to be self-sacrificial in moderation. We are taught that we need to serve others, that we must be kind and caring and help others in any way that we can (even if that serves to hurt us). That’s a damaging thing to constantly be teaching kids, especially if no counter-message is produced.

Orenstein touched upon a wonderful point when she mentioned the ways in which intragender competition is taught to girls. There can only be one highlander princess. That princess must be the fairest in the land or else she risks her status as a princess. This competition is not only with the girls’ peers, it’s intragender-intergenerational competition that is bred. We see this through the common tropes of women presented in these stories: The Crone, The Matron, and the young beautiful girl/princess. The Crone is what we never want to be, the Crone is the old Queen who gave Snow White the apple. The Matron…well she has one foot in the doorway to Croneville. The Princess…she’s the one we want to be, she’s good/nice/sweet/beautiful/etc. This is another message that’s often given covertly (through a “secret Education” if you will). As I said, take Snow White for example. We all know what trope Snow is. The Queen, however, inhabits both. She is at once the Matron and the Crone. As she ages, she becomes more evil and more overtaken by jealousy. At the peak of her despicability she is THE CRONE. Older women are rarely depicted as anything other than evil in Princess tales (unless their ~*~*magical fairies/godmothers*~*~). We even get this in Brave, the so-called feminist Princess movie. There’s really no evil antagonist in Brave. The closest that we come to evil would be the Witch *cough*Crone*cough*. She set everything awry in Merida’s life, and if she could do that who knows what evil she’s capable of.
I did enjoy Brave, it was an entertaining film to watch. However, it was not a feminist Princess flick in the least. The majority of the competition in the film was intragender, as usual. The most subversive part of the film wasn’t that Merida was athletic and could shoot arrows like nobodies’ business but rather that she was a selfish brat. I’m not saying this because she wanted to put herself first over tradition, but the lengths that she went were incredibly selfish. Enlisting in some random witch’s help to change one’s mother is generally not a good idea. As they say in Once Upon a Time “magic always comes with a price”. And it did. Even after her mother was turned into a bear it took forever for Merida to stop thinking solely of herself and to see her mother’s plight (that she caused, mind you). And so we're still left with basically what we had before Brave. We lack a good example of a balanced character for young girls. Merida's selfishness makes me question her strength. Is she truly strong or is she just self-centered? We don't want to teach children to only be selfless, but we also don't want to teach them that they should ONLY think about themselves (unless they turn someone into a bear, then they should probably get some compassion and get their shit together).

Anywho, I don’t want to linger too long on Brave or else I won’t have anything to say in class tomorrow.

Speaking of class, I suppose my questions would be: How did y’all see Merida? Did you see her as a feminist Princess? Do you think she’s a good role model for girls? What would you envision a “feminist princess story” looking like? What would the characteristics of the Princess be? Is it possible to have a feminist princess story?

And now the text of the poem, as promised

Sierra DeMulder

We are taught
from the moment we leave our pink nursery
that we are collapsable paper dolls
light to hold
easier to crumple. 
that as women our worth lives secretly wrapped in lace and cotton panties
our fragility armored with pepper spray and mace, they say:
women will be raped or sexually abused in their lifetime
and I am one of three daughters.

Now imagine: each victim is an acrobat
Her sanity, a balancing act
Our response is the unfailing safety net
We never expect to see her across the wire
You weren’t just violated, we tell her
You are an empty museum
A gutted monument to what used to hold so much worth
And with the best intentions we tell her to reclaim it,
Put a price tag on her rape and own it,
But don’t stand too tall, don’t act too strong
or we will name you denial, come back when you’re ready to crumble
Like your bones are made of chalk
You may only laugh cutely or cry beautifully
So cry beautifully
We will catch you

We are calling it theft 
As if he could pluck open your ribs like cello strings
Pocket your breasts, steal what makes your heart flutter and tack its wings to his wall,
Some days you will feel dirty!
Some weeks you’ll remember how hard it is to breathe in public, like your heart beat is climbing to the attic of your throat only to suicide itself out on the pavement
But know this: the person who did this to you is broken, not you.
The person who did this to you is out there, somewhere choking on the glass of his chest, 
it is a windshield, and his heartbeat is a baseball bat saying regret this, regret this

Your body is not a hand-me-down
There is nothing that sits inside you holding your worth,
no locket that can be seen or touched, sucked from your stomach and left on the concrete
And I know it’s hard to feel perfect
when you can’t tell an Adam’s apple from a fist
because some ashtray of a man picked you to play his Eden.
but I will not
watch you

    Saturday, March 16, 2013


    Some ideas for the final
    I was thinking of perhaps finding a way to explore the intersection of race, specifically Blackness, with the discourse of teenagers. Certainly there are ways I would be able to make an argument that at the intersection  some of the discourses/ideas about teenagers are multiplied exponentially (off the top of my head the "wilding" from the conversation surrounding the Central Park 5 and the discourse of social problem). I don't know what I'd use for the media text itself but I suspect it wouldn't be terribly difficult to find one that would allow me to draw on the texts from class as well as a few others. For this topic I would certainly utilize the "Report on the Extrajudicial Killings of 110 Black People" from Malcolm X Grass Movement, primarily to supplement my usage of Jackie Wang's article "Against Innocence: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Safety". Potentially the week that we discuss "Hip Hop Controversies" would unearth some great material for me to use as well. I could also probably get some inspiration from Byron Hurt's Hip Hop:Beyond Beats and Rhymes depending on the Tricia Rose texts that we use.

    A couple of weeks ago I finally broke down and watched Pretty Little Liars after MANY people suggested I watched it (surprisingly, the average age of the people suggesting it? Mid-late twenties. Perhaps no the target audience but they are definitely lapping it up!). I finished the two seasons in a couple of weeks, and have had to use all of the will power within me to not start the third season. This show revolves around teenagers (although if some of the scenes didn't occur in a high school you'd probably think they were college students) and definitely plays on the discourses put forth by Raby. It'd be easy to incorporate "Media and Ideology" with this text as well (the capitalism/conflict theory portion especially. And pleasurable consumption from Raby. One of the character's LOVES to shop [steal..], they're all generally rich, and have amazing wardrobes).

    Sunday, March 3, 2013


    For the midterm I've chosen to kind of merge prompt 2 and prompt 4 (the "do what you want" prompt). The reason I don't feel comfortable simply saying that I'm choosing prompt 2 is because I intend to put the authors of our past readings into conversation with more than just each other.

    The past few days have been really hectic with work ( in paid work) so I've unfortunately not been able to flesh this out as fully as I would've liked to by now. This doesn't worry me as I have no doubt I will get everything done by tomorrow evening (after work. WAHH, why do I need money?!?! Someone should pay me to be a student. Oh, how I can only hope to find a grad program that will put money in MY pocket).

    I had a moment of stress yesterday evening because I felt so lost. I have no trouble with the readings, but to try and figure out what to do for this project? That really had my head spinning for a little bit. But, things are calm now and I've figured out exactly what I'm planning to do. All of you (my educators, meaning my peers as well as Dr. Bogad and Chris) have inspired this project.

    As to what program I will utilize....I'm torn between voice-thread and prezi. So, I'll probably make both to see which one I like better.
    At the end of that sentence "....I like better." a great thought came to my mind. Okay, as of this moment, this very moment, there is a high chance I will use Weebly.

    Wow, I just got so much more excited about this project! And excitement is the best motivator. Woohoo!

    Oh, okay, before I end this I suppose I should give a little bit more information. Because I'm the most fascinated by (and comfortable with, probably due to my interest) the Croteau and Wesch pieces I will primarily use those two, but as I like to get as many points as I can I will more than likely try to work in all of the past readings (if that's not feasible then I will at least work in Christensen, particularly because her prescriptive section ties in nicely with Wesch)

    Hopefully this outlined enough information without giving it all away. Mystery is part of the allure, after all.

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

    Happy birthday to MEEEEEE

    Little toddler me!
    NOW 22, WHOOP WHOOP. Another year! Still, unfortunately have a vertical license. It doesn't expire until 2016. I can't wait to get my nice horizontal grown-up license.

    Sunday, February 24, 2013

    Michael Wesch-From Knowledgable to Knowledge-able---Reflection

    The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives. It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realized. This is poetry as illumination, for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are, until the poem, nameless and formless-about to be birthed, but already felt. That distillation of experience from which true poetry springs births thought as dream births concept, as feeling births idea, as knowledge births (precedes) understanding.

    As we learn to bear the intimacy of scrutiny, and to flourish within it, as we learn to use the products of that scrutiny for power within our living, those fears which rule our lives and form our silences begin to lose their control over us.-Audre Lorde, “Poetry is Not a Luxury”

    I’ve chosen to begin with this particular epigraph, an excerpt from Audre Lorde’sPoetry is Not a Luxury” because I feel it details, in a wondrously poetic fashion, some of the framework that I will be working from and the perspective I am critiquing the Wesch text through. Hopefully as you read this post you will more clearly understand why I’ve chosen this particular Lorde excerpt, but if anything is unclear in my choice of quotes or anything I bring up throughout this post then please feel free to ask for clarification and shoot me questions in the comment section.

    Michael Wesch
                In “From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able: Learning in New Media Environments” Michael Wesch discusses the ways in which the predominant current teaching methods are no longer apropos given the new technological age that we are currently living in. He posits that the current teaching methods, and the classrooms themselves, are:
    built to re-enforce the top-down authoritative knowledge of the teacher…the ‘message’ of this environment is that to learn is to acquire information, that information is scarce and hard to find (that’s why you have to come to this room to get it), that you should trust authority for good information, and that good information is beyond discussion. In short, it tells students to trust authority and follow along (1).

    He goes on to note that the new digital age has given people the ability to access knowledge in a new way. In this new way of accessing knowledge they are not simply taking in information that an authority figure is spewing at them but rather they are directly engaging with the information; they are aiding in its creation, its delivery, and everything in between. He argues that knowledge, as it stands now, is not something that can simply be fed to an individual, it is something that must constantly be interacted with and in order to keep up with the way that the digital age has allowed students to engage with information classrooms and teachers must change up their stale authoritarian routine and find ways to “move [their students] from being simply knowledgeable to being knowledge-able” (1). This means that they need to learn how to truly engage with the material, they must be able to critically look at texts and analyze them, not simply memorize ‘important’ facts and reiterate said facts when an exam comes along.
                Now, just because I am able to summarize his general argument (at least in the way that I read the text) does not mean that I completely agree with the points that he uses. There were a few moments when I had to disagree with his statements, and other moments where I felt he was simply not delving deep enough.
                Given that Wesch chooses to use the language of revolution, it is disappointing that he doesn’t really deliver a deeper analysis of some of the systems that he rails against and for. One of the dominant discourses of society is that of Individualism. As the State has gotten more powerful it has worked to eradicate a sense of community and collectivism amongst people (this is clearly an attempt to stifle resistance, for no resistance can occur if people cannot develop a collective consciousness). This idea of individualism and submissiveness (to the State and those who represent the state i.e: Authority) is taught to us in many ways and settings, and one of those settings is within the classroom. Wesch notes that the current teaching methods often rely on the educator being seen as the authority figure and that all of the students must follow the instructions of said authority figure very closely. Lecture style classrooms do not breed community, they breed submission and regurgitated thinking (regurgitated thinking: we spit back out the same thought/ideas/lessons that we take in. The delivery will more than likely be in a different order from the original thought digested but the content will be exactly the same). Wesch states that the “Web 2.0” breeds a “spirit of interactivity, participation, and collaboration” (1) and that new model classrooms and teaching styles should invoke the same spirit. Doing so fosters community; it fosters connections between students with their peers and their professor. It allows knowledge and information to seem more dynamic instead of static and stagnant. The current teaching methods simply reenact the same dominator/dominated; authority/submissive narrative. In order to have a social resistance, whether it is within the classroom or beyond it, we need to advance beyond the current methods into something that creates a new, more revolutionary, narrative.
                Throughout the reading I took issue with Wesch's assertion that within new media we are able to be “creators” of information, he states this first when he talks about bloggers crating information (2). I have to strongly disagree with that. We, as bloggers or writers, are not creating information. We are vessels for information. Blogging has simply given us a new way to share said information that we have within ourselves with others. Yes, perhaps we are providing this information in a new way, but I would be hesitant to say we are “creating” it. We are simply furthering the path of information. What we are creating…what we are producing…is thought. Thought based on the information that we have collected, but we are not creating information itself. We are compiling the information and turning it into something. On a similar note, I did not appreciate Wesch’s argument that “our old assumption that information is hard to find, is trumped by the realization that if we set up our hyper-network effectively, information can find us” (2). He then goes on to use an example of a web app that I have never heard of, which feeds into my opinion that his argument comes from a place of privilege. I could make the argument that within academia there is SO much information, it seems limitless and like it is constantly coming at me. However, to say that statement and that statement alone would be ignoring the fact that academic information is hard to find for some people. Web information, even with the ubiquity if the internet, can be hard to find. Some people do not know what to look for, where to explore, or what to explore. The question becomes: How do we share our knowledge with a wider audience? Simply putting it online is not enough. How do we cultivate the appropriate audience? What even is the appropriate audience? If we limit it to fellow academics like ourselves then are we simply moving the traditional classroom onto the internet? And if we choose to broaden our audience base how do we ensure that we get as many people as we can, and how do we guarantee that we are actively engaging with them?
                A bit later Wesch discusses the idea of the “crisis of significance”. He states that we need to “bring relevance back to education” (2). I would argue that we would first have to define what education is. And this is not only the job of the educator but also the job of the person being ‘educated’. Why do they want to be ‘educated’? What do they see ‘education’ as? What is the goal of their ‘education’? For me, education for liberation is my goal. Therefore, the types of knowledge that catch my attention are most of the things that I can find applicable to resistance, resistance mobilizations/theory, forms of resistance, and foundational to revolutionary action. This framework makes many concepts quite significant, even if it doesn't seem so at first. To use this class as an example, learning about media as a medium for ideology is critical for me, as I must be able to see all of the ways that the ruling/dominant class works to manipulate and further repress others. If I cannot see how they are working against us, how could I possible begin to address ways in which to dismantle the system/structure? I think that it is our duties as students, as active engagers with knowledge, to question what our guiding framework is and what our goal is. Are you simply learning in order to eventually get a career? If so, why is that? What has taught you that in order to be ‘complete’ you need to learn things that may mean nothing to you in order to be in a job that also may mean nothing to you in order to earn a paycheck? There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, what’s wrong (or perhaps "problematic" would be a better word) is following a narrative that has been written for you without ever stopping to question what the narrative is and why you feel the need to follow it. We must all develop a working framework for how we seek and ingest knowledge/information.
                Because this post is plenty long enough I will attempt to wrap it up by addressing Wesch’s “Not Subjects but Subjectivities” section while incorporating another quote from the magnificent Audre Lorde. This is, perhaps, the section that I had the least complaints about (other than my overarching complaint that Wesch does not delve as deeply into some of these concepts as he could/should). Wesch states that “learning a new subjectivity [ways of approaching, understanding, and interacting with the world] is often painful…You have to unlearn perspectives that may have become central to your sense of self” (3). How could I note read this as “DECOLONIZE/LIBERATE YOUR MIND!”?? Our knowledge, our current subjectivity, is not our own. It is the dominant society’s knowledge/subjectivity. We are often taught frameworks that do not allow us to further analyze our surroundings, at least not in ways that would allow us to truly QUESTION, TRANSFORM, and RESIST. At the end of her poem But What Can You Teach My Daughter Lorde states that “even my daughter…knows/what you know/can hurt/but what you do/not know/can kill”. We need to teach that! This should be our working framework! If this were our framework then would we not all be interested in gathering as much knowledge as possible and engaging with it as much as we can? If we acknowledged the fact that the knowledge that we allow to slip through our fingers could prove fatal (be it literally or metaphorically in the sense of social or civic death), then we would try our hardest to take in as much as we could, and not only that, but we would try to understand it and work with it to the best of our abilities? And with the more knowledge that we take in, the more that we develop our working frameworks for life/knowledge-gathering, the more successful we will be at dismantling the system that works to oppress/repress/suppress us!

    To try and put my questions and comments into one section would be impossible! My questions for the class are strewn throughout this post. I suppose my biggest question(s) for the class would be: what is your guiding framework for knowledge-intake? What is your goal when it comes to education? How often do you question the goals that you have that seem to be natural to you?

    And, because I love this poem so darn much, I will end this post with it.

    But What Can You Teach My Daughter
    What do you mean
    no no no no
    you don’t have the right
    to know
    how often
    have we built each other
    as shelters
    against the cold
    and even my daughter knows
    what you know
    can hurt you
    she says her nos
    and it hurts
    she says
    when she talks of liberation
    she means freedom
    from that pain
    she knows
    what you know
    can hurt
    but what you do
    not know
    can kill.

    Works Cited

    Lorde, Audre. The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde. New York: Norton, 1997. Print.
    Lorde, Audre. "Poetry Is Not a Luxury." Power, Oppression and the Politics of Culture: A Lesbian/Feminist Perspective. Web. 24 Feb. 2013.
    Wesch, Michael. "From Knowledgable to Knowledge-able: Learning in New Media Environments." Academic Commons. Web. 24 Feb. 2013.

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    Saturday, February 23, 2013

    Thomas Hines-The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager: Quotes/Reflection

    Because I have merged the format of Quotes and Reflection I have chosen to work with only two quotes so that I may explore them more in depth while still maintaining a reasonable word count.

    ’Maybe I’m something special, and maybe I’m not. Maybe I’m here for a reason and I might be going somewhere after this, but then again I might not. I wonder where I fit in?”…Figuring out where they fit in—to the universe, the world, the economy, their social circle, their family, is a project on which teenagers spend a lot of their time and energy…study after study suggests that teenagers’ principal preoccupation is to adapt, to find a place in life. (2)

    Thomas Hines, in his introduction to The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager, quotes his younger, seemingly angstier, self as a way to personally connect with the studies that he alludes to (these studies that talk about how teenagers are constantly on a quest to “find themselves”). He does so not to prove that these students are right but rather to highlight ways in which our teenage self isn’t a completely different entity from our grown-up self. This is the same idea that we address with our third course assumption: Teenagers are not some alien life form.
    On a personal level, the thoughts that Hines quotes from his younger self are thoughts that are constantly running through my mind. I am always wondering what the goal of my existence is, if I will become “something” if I will “be somebody”. The fact that these thoughts are constantly running through my head does not expose me to be stunted but rather it shows that I am human. I am a human who has grown up in this Western society. Let’s take a look at some of the “greatest” writers (I put “greatest” in quotes because there is always a question of how and why some authors are canonized and others are not, but that is not a relevant train of thought for this post) and philosophers: are not most, if not all, of them in some sort of perpetual existential crisis? Are these thoughts that Hines quotes not the thoughts that run/ran through their head constantly and served as major themes for their work? And yet somehow we have decided that it is only teenagers who are on a quest to find themselves when, in reality, we are all on the same quest. We live in an individualistic society, which not only means that we lack a sense of community with each other; it also means that we see ourselves as individual, independent, beings with personality and thoughts that mean something. Given that we identify ourselves as individuals first and community members second (or never) we, of course, are then always trying to figure out just who exactly we are. This is not a teenager crisis, it’s a human crisis.

    This lengthy waiting period has tended to reduce young people’s contacts with older people and increase them with people who are exactly the same age. That, in turn, has led to the rise of a youth subculture that has helped define and elaborate what it means to be a teenager (7).
    The lengthy waiting period Hines is talking about is the “long period of education, exploration, and deferred responsibility” (7). Teenagers are in school longer than their predecessors (or, rather, their predecessors’ predecessors); they are less likely to be expected to work, and generally when they do work they are employed at places that aim to hire teenagers; and they are expected to be on the aforementioned existential journey to find themselves. All of these factors lead to less cross-over with non-teenagers and so teens are often surrounded by their peers, resulting in "youth subculture".
                    Now, just because I can summarize Hines’ argument does not mean I agree with it fully. This point of his is perhaps the point that makes it the most obvious that his usage of teenager actually means middle-class White teenager. Depending on one’s social class and situation it should not be expected that they 1) will not be working and 2) will have less interaction with those older than themselves. This does not take in account the families who live in a household with multiple generations (and thus are not only spending time with people a bit older than themselves but with those who are FAR greater in age). A teenager who has to help support the family does not have the luxury to only choose a job that allows them to essentially shoot the breeze with other teens. They will be on the hunt for a job that best suits their needs and their schedules, regardless of the age and life circumstance of their co-workers. And having to be a pillar of support for the household tends to mean lots of work hours, and if this teen is a good student then they certainly do not have all that much time to spend hanging out with other teens. Free time is a luxury for many teenagers. I’m not saying that what Hines posits is wrong but rather that it just does not take enough different factors into account. He should have made a disclaimer or made a less generalizing claim, but because he did I feel that it is our duty to take him to task for that (even if it is simply on our blogs and in class). In general, in class I would like to further discuss the ways in which Hines makes it clear that the “teens” he talks are about are middle class White teens. Middle class White teenagers is a shrinking group, there is no reason why texts should still use them as a norm, and no reason why we should accept that norm willingly.

                    On a personal level, I have to wonder if some of these things are why I often feel a bit of a disconnect with my peers. I’ve been working since I was 13 and had 3 jobs at the age of 15. Due to various personal life circumstances I did not have the “typical” (again, what is “typical”, really?) teenage experience. This idea of the “teen subculture” is so prevalent that those who existed outside of said subculture are at a bit of a loss with their peers. That doesn’t make those of us who had different teenage experiences any less of a “teenager”, it simply means we didn’t have the expected teenage life. And in these changing times, how many people are actually having the expected teenage experience? What is the “teenage subculture” truly? Can we simply give it such a general name when the subculture may vary by race, region, etc? And, by implying that there is a shared “teenage experience” aren’t we furthering the feelings of confusion, angst, un-belonging, for those teenagers who exist outside of said experience?

     Works Cited
    Hine, Thomas. The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager. New York: Bard, 1999. Print.

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