“The Greatest Western”

           Newman/Levine’s chapter “The Showrunner As Auteur” acknowledges the rising role of the showrunner as the primary author, or mastermind of a show, and how the elevation to showrunner legitimizes television as “quality TV”.  By filling the role of “story-teller in chief” and “original creator” (39), the showrunner promotes him or herself to status of the film director—only, a film director for the small screen artsy realm(40). Like film culture, the showrunner as auteur puts effort into visual aesthetics, deep narratives, historic accuracy, and consistent motifs (50). He or she is also credited to adding a “personal touch” to the storyline, which makes the oeuvre more identifiable and distinct. (51). By integrating personal motifs, using either consistent or recognizable “aesthetic integrity” (40), and using historic accurate information to propel plots and storylines, the showrunners program is considered legitimate and quality TV because the content challenges its viewers to “brood over and analyze” what is going on in the episode. There is something to chew on rather than blissfully watching a show.

            In addition, these types of hour-long shows (or mini movies) allows the showrunner to express originality through personal decisions, personal ideas, thus making what society considers, quality TV.  Furthermore, the showrunner is called a showrunner for a reason—because he or she is the boss. Although television shows are undoubtedly a collaborative work, by assigning a showrunner, or in film terms, a director, to run the show equates showrunner (TV) and director (film), thus legitimizing a television show as quality TV, and also raising its commercial status.

            David Milch, the showrunner of Deadwood, shows signs of filling Newman/Levin’s analysis of the showrunner as auteur. The article I found was in Esquire from 2011 and began with a reference to the Cohen brother’s True Grit (2011) and how there will be more Westerns following True Grit. Right after that prediction, the article introduced David Milch with, “To get a sense of what those movies might look like, we got up with the creator of the last great Western, Deadwood, which—like too many great genre masterpieces of the last decade—was actually on TV” (Sanction).         

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        First, by linking David Milch with the Cohen brother movie True Grit, elevates David Milch on similar cinematic levels as the Cohen brothers. Instead of opting to link the Cohen brothers with another Western film director, Esquire chose to compare a film to a showrunner’s production: Deadwood. Second, Esquire considers Milch’s Deadwood the “last great Western”. This again supports the notion that not only is David Milch is equivalent to a film director, but his show Deadwood is considered a “great Western” as if it were a movie. This demonstrates how much power and praise television showrunners are receiving like any filmmaker might get. Third, Esquire recognizes that David Milch is the creator of Deadwood thus legitimizes Milch as the showrunner, and also legitimizes his show as quality based on the line” last great Western”.

            Furthermore, on the topic of writing stories Milch says, “I try to do the story the way I feel the story should be done, and how that folds in to whatever larger sorts of categories or questions is non of my business”. In this last comment Milch asserts himself as the primary storywriter who not only runs but is the show (40).  

            Down the page, Esquire shifts from Deadwood to Luck, Milch and Hoffman’s newer production about horse racing. The article mentions that Milch is very familier with Luck’s setting: “a world of horse racing” (Sanction). He says, “When I was a kid…my dad used to take me out to the race track and so many formative experiences have to do with associations like that” (Sanction). Milch’s personal history with horses gives Luck the “personal touch” that Newman and Levine reference to as “boutique television”, television that uniquely created and is not part of the standard “assembly-line fashion of the usual programming” (45). The personal touch of a TV show again, is another way for showrunners to legitimize their show, legitimize themselves, and thus derive commercial and capital benefits.

            David Milch fits Newman and Levine’s mold of the showrunner as auteur.  He is considered the creator of a great Western by Esquire, he considers himself the creator of Deadwood, and he integrates pieces of his personal history to give his shows a uniqueness, and quality to them so audiences can chew on the content of the small cinematic medium we now call quality television. David Milch is amongst a host of showrunner titans who are currently redefining what exactly, quality television entails.

 

http://www.esquire.com/the-side/qa/david-milch-luck-interview-011411

 

 

Outside Sources:

 Sanction, Julian. “David Milch Does Not Believe in Genre”. Esquire. 14, Jan. 2011. Online. 19, April. 2014

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Readability and Personality.

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The readability of People is incredibly important to, and evident within, its modern iteration. Though some articles are obviously centered on celebrities, a significant amount are human interest profiles, mildly journalistic ones. For example, in my Dec. 9 2013 issue, the cover story focusses on “The McStay Mystery,” a story on the murder of a suburban family, who’s remains were found in the desert. The first thing you see of the article is a massive spread photo, big letters, more photos, and captions everywhere. Less than a quarter of the two pages is actual text. The whole article, to an extent, can be skimmed by reading captions and looking at pictures. The whole thing does indeed seem “tailored for short attention spans,” you could read it in a minute just by glossing over the pictures; “A Trail of Clues” “I’m not going to give up on trying to solve this until the day I die” “It was love at first sight”. Those little snippits build a profile of the family and the story, and you barely have to read anything. The whole article could be packed into two written pages, but with pictures covers five; it is definitely “easy to read and heavy on photo content.” The whole form of the magazine still matches, with the exception that it is obviously now all in full color. 

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The most potent connection between old and modern people is its connection to individuals. The article I focus on is entirely dependent on creating an interpersonal connection with the subjects of the story. In the grand scheme of the world, the story of the McStay’s death isn’t that important, maybe it signals an increasing presence of violence in the “safe” corners of America, or maybe it is a realization that our lack of connection to our neighbors allows things like this to happen. The article doesn’t do that however. People gives us a personal connection to the McStays, painting a picture of a family who was “a snapshot of a normal, sometimes chaotic household.” That type of storytelling is key to human interest; “People Magazine manifested the notion that any story is actually made up of individuals – not societal issues, legislation or global strife.” The McStays’s story is made up from individuals, from the full of quotes from close friends, investigators, parents and siblings. Those quotes are  the article, literally made up of the words of individuals, not the words of the author. 

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J. Warren Kerrigan

 

J. Warren Kerrigan had a profile written about him in photoplay in January 1931. The subject of the profile was a bit unusual, he’s retired, and he loves it. Warren was an early film personality who left Hollywood gracefully after a successful career. The interesting thing about his profile is that it doesn’t fall perfectly into any of Dyer’s categories, except of course the catch all “alternative type.” Originally I thought the profile would fall under the dream sourced, Dyer initially comments that “consumption and success are from time to time shown to be wanting.” (159). The dream sourced celebrity is however not successful, they are tragic failures. Warren was not presented this way, indeed the title of the article is “Hollywood’s only contented man.” For this reason, I think Kerrigan is categorically an ordinary star. He says “this retiring business has always been a dream of mine” and “when the house is sold, I’m going to Europe for a good long trip, then I’ll set myself up on a ranch in the valley.” These sorts of dreams or incredibly ordinary, the sorts of things every day men dream about. Granted they involve a large (yet not unmodest) amount of money, but what dreams don’t? 

Dyer categorizes these sorts of ordinary people stars as one of two categories on page 158, I think Kerrigan falls under the first, “stars can be seen as ordinary people who live more expensively than the rest of us but are not essentially transformed by this.”  Kerrigan embodies that ideal. Later in the article, a direct comparison is drawn between Kerrigan’s ideals and the standard ideals of Hollywood. An old producer of Kerrigan’s once thought he was crazy to sit around his garden and read all day, saying “That Kerrigan is crazy; passing his life that way, when he could be out making money and having a good time in the world,” That producer later turned up working as an extra in movies and said “I guess it was me, not Kerrigan, that was crazy.” That anecdote plays into Dyers concept of ordinariness perfectly, Kerrigan wasn’t changed by his money. 

 

This article is different in a couple of ways from modern pieces. First of all, the tone is different, more formal and planned. The interview reads, well, like an interview, whereas today they are surface level and short winded. More importantly though, the interview was relatively celebratory, and definitely not surface level. It was making a pretty accurate and flattering value judgement of the star, not spreading gossip of one form or another. 

This is the photoplay archive its in, it starts on page 55

http://archive.org/stream/photo40chic#page/n53/mode/2up

Fuckin’ (Feminist) Problems

For our project, we decided to make a feminist version one of the first videos we watched this year, “Fucking Problems” by A$AP Rocky (2012).

After a semester of critiquing media texts for their representations of gender, we decided to use DIY culture to create a progressive yet funny video that satirizes the normalization of sexism in popular media. To be fair, we like the original song. Yet, we wanted to recreate it from a feminist perspective to challenge and push beyond the dominant ideologies of the original video. We made an effort to emphasize the need for collective action by using the phrase “we” and highlighting different men and women in our chorus. In essence, we showed our problems with the song and the treatment of gender in our society.

To begin, through our lyrics we conveyed a feminist perspective that specifically addressed both men and women.  Tackling issues such as rape culture, sexual objectification, post feminism, reproductive rights, and slut shaming, we did our best to incorporate empowering rhetoric behind our critiques. We underlined the need for both women and men to recognize feminism as an essential political stance, drawing attention to the hesitation of both sexes towards identifying with the feminist movement. Rather then simply calling out men for their contributions to female oppression, we also spoke to women for the need to recognize and actively combate gender inequality. As two self-proclaimed feminists, we often receive criticism from our friends about expressing a strong feminist standpoint on various issues in everyday life. Therefore, we used our video to express feminist opinions in a simple yet relatable way. While we may come off looking ridiculous, the video gives us a platform to express a crucial message that doesn’t necessarily have a space in dominant media.

Furthermore, we matched the aggression behind the original song in our lyrics, ensuring that our message would be forceful and in your face. While our lyrics were not terribly radical or complex, consistently screaming “fucking problems” allowed us to express our frustration with the inherently misogynistic, hyper-masculine and arrogant focus of the original video. Using the same refrain, we reinterpreted the lyrics to address what we see as the daily problems faced by women in society. While these problems often get ignored or even go unnoticed, our video attempts to show that these things can and should be talked about. Additionally, we directed our video in a similar way to the original, such as shooting from below the “rapper”, solo dance scenes, and aggressive hand gestures.  Yet we refrained from directly imitating the masculine and problematic aspects of the original. Rather then cutting to images of overtly-sexualized women, we used long shots of us dancing casually by ourselves. Instead of focusing on one rapper in the chorus, we used a variety of people to spread our message. While we used some of the same lines from the original, we added intelligence, complex and meaningful details to our lyrics unlike the simple and derogatory troupes of the original. Further, rather then simply flipping the video by creating a Magic Mike-esque female gaze, we created a neutral gaze that focused on our message rather than our image. We were able to recreate the video with a more empowering and positive representation of gender by playing off and reinterpreting the techniques of the original.

DIY culture creates an opportunity to respond and reinterpret dominant forms of media. We used our video to challenge the ideologies behind “Fucking Problems” and rap videos in general. Not only did we seek to critique the original video, but we made a broader statement about gender equality in our society. When we first told people our idea, we largely received blank states, eye rolls, and critical comments about our “radical feminism” need to critique everything in society.  Ultimately, this hesitance reflects the need for new forms of media that challenge the dominant culture in a relatable, humorous and appealing way. After showing our video, many of our friends acknowledged the problematic aspects of the original and were receptive to our views. Thus, we were able to negotiate the “fear” of feminism while still spreading a crucial message. Knowing that we may look ridiculous (we can’t write fluid lyrics, rap, or even dub our video correctly) we still attempted to use DIY culture to express the importance of our view of gender and sexuality in the media.

For comparison:

 

Lyrics:

I live in patriarchy, that’s my fucking problem

And yeah I’m feminist, thats not a fucking problem

They call us bitches, that’s a fucking problem

And yeah I speak up, thats not a fucking problem

They said I asked for it, that’s a fucking problem

And yeah I wore skirt, thats not a fucking problem

If finding feminist media is your fucking problem

Bring your homies to the blog we can fucking solve it

 

Verse 1 – Jess

Hold up, boys simmer down

Taken long looks, we want you listenin’ to us now

Keep your hands off till I tell you that its fine

Ooh boy like it raw? we’re not a body for your needs, huh

Jess Good get like me

Never met a fuckin feminist like me

All these motherfuckers tryna objectify me

Put some knowledge in that dome, make you respect me

Cause you’re a problem, its a problem, how you actin like this

Broing out and getting biddies, ain’t the goal here

Up in Congress, down in Stubenville, thats patriarchy saying

She doesn’t need her rights, and oh those poor rapists

They say women make a man completely power-less

But she’s finally “allowed” to get rich

I be fucking tired like I been fucking fighting

Time to stop copping out, be a fucking feminist, boy

 

Verse 2 – Kate

Girl, I know its hard when real shit come on

Make you think bout all of the times you’ve been prayed’ on

Make you think bout all of the disrespect they’ve been feedin’ you

Got a feelin’ these the same dudes that we speakin’ on, listenin’?

But take a second? Are you believing them?

We can’t internalize the comments and accept their expectations

Ain’t a fuckin’ man’s world when you lend a hand girl

Then ju.. (Okay, I got it)

Then just stand up and get yo feminism on

Or we sit here silent, let our rights get trampled upon

Remember all that progress that we made? well its time for an upgrade

There’s more work to be done, don’t get distracted by post feminism

They tellin you go buy heels, don’t trust it

If you want respect, then we gotta have equality uhhuuhhh

Yes ladies, we should really say this often

These strong ladies ain’t for the passive talk, we believe

 

Homoeroticism and Queer Interpretations of Masculinity

http://pinterest.com/taborsinterests/

For my DIY Project, I chose to make a Pinterest account about homoeroticism and Queer Interpretations of masculinity. I came up with this idea based primarily on my essay about queer culture in sports and how many people still view queerness and sports as two separate entities when in reality they are very much intersected. Secondly, I wanted to further pursue and elaborate on a topic that we mentioned briefly earlier in the semester; “queer reading” (Doty).  In the article that we read about it, the author Alexander Doty discusses how queer readings of texts “aren’t ‘alternative’ readings, wishful or willful misreading, or ‘reading too much into things’ readings. They result from the recognition and articulation of the complex range of queerness that has been in popular culture texts and their audiences all along” (Doty, 345).  I wanted to do two things with Doty’s theory: 1) to combine it with my idea of a legitimate queer presence in sports, and 2) to prove that “queer readings do not only apply to contemporary texts but also historical texts as well. I also wanted to illustrate Alison Piepmeier’s point that “Origin stories are important because they tell us where to look and what patterns to watch for. The ‘wrong’ stories can give us a distorted or diminished of the past, and by extension, the present moment” (Piepmeier, 26) I thought that Pinterest would be the best and most obvious way for me to prove Doty’s theory and apply it to sports as well because photos allow for individual interpretation.

The first part of my project was to look on Pinterest, which I considered to be a fairly progressive site, and see if I could find any boards or ‘pins’ of homoeroticism/ queerness in sports,  and if I could find any historical photos of “queer readings”. After a few extensive searches, I only came up with two or three photos of which I used one for the boards. Since there was a virtually non-existent presence of historical homoerotic photos or queer readings of sports photos on Pinterest, I began the next phase of my project, which involved exploring the web for appropriate and relevant photos to ‘pin’ on my boards. This was a more time consuming process than I had anticipated because I wanted to try and find a variety of photos so as to have the most inclusive boards. For instance, I wanted to find queer interpretations of photos in as many sports as I could, and at least one or two women’s sports (I found one that I thought fit particularly well). In addition, I wanted to find historically homoerotic photos not just of white men, but also other minorities (I found a few photos of black men). Lastly, I wanted to make sure that I included a few contemporary photos of homoeroticism and queer readings of traditionally masculine activities.

I am pleased with the amount and quality of photos that I found, and realized that it is fairly easy to put a “queer reading” onto a text, especially photographs. I think Pinterest was a perfect medium of choice, especially for sports photos, because I think it is evident from looking at the photos that “queer readings” are just as legitimate a way to interpret a text or activity as a heterosexual reading. Furthermore, I was pleased that I could find so many historical photos of homoeroticism or queer interpretations. I think my Pinterest boards help to demonstrate and legitimize “queer readings” of texts and although my boards will not get the same attention as a mainstream media product, I did pin 63 new items to Pinterest for others in the future to use and see, and I plan on continuing to pin more relevant photos to my post. Even though, the Pinterest account that I made, isn’t one that I would use for recreational use, it is one that I plan on periodically updating and adding to because “queer readings” are something that  I want more people to become familiar and comfortable with.

Works Cited:

Doty, Alexander. “There’s Something Queer Here” pgs. 338-345. n.d. Print.

Piepmeir, Alison. “If I Didn’t Write These Things No On Else Would Either: The Feminist Legacy of Grrrl Zines and the Origin of the Third Wave.” Girl Zines: Making Media Doing Feminism. New York: New York UP, 2009. 26. Print.

 

MacKenzie McHale – Dependent, Weak, Flustered

The Newsroom follows the story of hotshot news anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels). After he comes back from a forced vacation, McAvoy finds out that his staff has left him for another show and must now work with a different staff. His new executive producer, MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer), is also his ex-girlfriend. McHale’s job entails overseeing all activity on the show and making executive decisions. Her main goal as the executive producer is to produce a news show that isn’t conventional. She wants to talk about issues on the economy and legislation rather than the Casey Anthony trial. At first glance, MacKenzie McHale represents a strong, independent, and influential person. Unfortunately for McHale, The Newsroom, compensates her with characteristics that depict her as someone who is not competent for the job. She continues to mess up on her job, needs help from other men because she can’t complete a task, and at times clueless.

I made a video to help illustrate the disparity between McHale’s esteemed job (executive producer) to how she is actually portrayed. The video starts out with Mortimer herself explaining her character’s role in the show and ends by saying that “[McHale] is at the center of all the action.” With that being said, Part 1 of the video illustrates the control that McHale has over her staff. She leads meetings, monitors the work done by her reporters, and inspires them to produce a great news show. McHale’s power is quickly trumped in Part 2. Even though McHale pushes her boss to change the conventional style of the show, she ends up listening to him and takes ‘no’ as an answer. She hires other men for work she can’t do. She also lives with the guilt from cheating on McAvoy, which immediately gives him an upper hand in their relationship. McHale is clumsy and dependent on men to get the job done. My goal with this video was to further prove that, in the media, women who hold positions of power are compensated by having weak characteristics that make them seem unqualified for the job. The video format helps visually show how quickly a character can change. McHale is viewed as the person leading the meetings, and then quickly is portrayed in utter confusion. By showing clips one after another the audience views the progress of her character.

DIY projects are necessary because it gives an opportunity for people to express their reaction to the media they consume. Alison Piepmeir interviewed people who do DIY projects and explained that “Because we must take over the means of production in order to create our own meanings,” also “if I didn’t write these things no one else would” (Piepmeir). DIY projects are an opportunity for fans to creatively display their reaction and have a discussion about it. They are able to comment on the media and what that says about our culture. 

Works Cited:
Piepmeier, Alison. “”If I Didn’t Write These Things No One Else Would Either”” Making Media, Doing Feminism (n.d.): n. pag. Print.

 

Before you view:

 

The Batman franchise, in particular the newest Dark Knight Trilogy, sells itself with hyper masculinity to the point of ridiculousness. For this reason, I have decided to take two of the series’ most masculine characters, Bane (Tom Hardy) from The Dark Knight Rises and Batman (Christian Bale), and provide an alternative reading to their relationship by “shipping” them together. Also, as you watch, try to pay attention to the role Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) has in this vid.

 

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtMZtTLr0Y4

 

Post-viewing:

 

The effectiveness of this vid relies heavily upon eyeline matching. Put differently, while making my project, I paid special attention to the implications Batman’s, Bane’s, and Catwoman’s gazes could have by cutting various scenes from The Dark Knight Rises and splicing them together. For instance, when the song goes into the guitar solo, I used that break to explore the various gazes Batman and Bane have with each other throughout the film. I also used shots that were out of context in the same fashion.

My choice in music also played a huge role in how I approached the vid. I used Florence + The Machine’s Kiss With a Fist. While Florence is indeed a woman, her voice and this song are by no means feminine. I used the violent lyrics of the song – for example the chorus begins with, “You hit me once/I hit you back/You gave a kick/I gave a slap” – to posit a queer reading of the Batman/Bane relationship in which the characters are trapped in an abusive yet passionate relationship. I thought that this song choice fit particularly well with the almost ludicrously masculine exchanges between Batman and Bane.

Most of all, I hope you enjoy the vid. If anything, my goal in creating it was to poke fun at a serious movie while at the same time creating a space for a different – and potentially more compelling – reading.

Pretty Little Johanna

I chose to create a vid examining gender and power through the character of Johanna in Tim Burton’s horror-musical Sweeney Todd. Set in Victorian England, the women in this film are perpetually under the control of men. Lucy is sexually abused, and both Lucy and her daughter Johanna are ceaselessly passed between different men who seek to control them. Mrs. Lovett, the sole other female character, breaks this mold; however, at the end of the film, she is killed by the man she loves.

This video isolates the character of Johanna, commenting on the way men in her life objectify and covet her. I titled the vid “Pretty Little Johanna,” a reference to Mrs. Lovett’s envy-tinged description of the young girl. Despite Mrs. Lovetts jealousy, it is beauty that has Johanna trapped. Without her beauty, she would be free from the desires of Judge Turpin and perhaps be in control of her own life as Mrs. Lovett is. “Pretty Little Johanna” also references the fact that the men in her life consider her delicate, pure, and therefore infantilized and devoid of agency. She is not granted personhood besides what little character is projected by her delicate appearance and sweet singing voice.

While Judge Turpin’s objectification of Johanna is portrayed negatively, Antony is also guilty of this overprotective, possessive objectification. Antony is Johanna’s love interest and savior, and the film constructs him as loving, pure, and guileless. However, without the lens of romance, his actions are as unsettling as the lecherous gaze of Judge Turpin. I determined that the redemptive nature of ‘romance’ rested in the mutual affection between Johanna and Antony. After removing the few indications of Johanna’s eventual affection for Antony, his immediate vow to “steal” her for his own becomes more sinister. From the instant he glimpses her through her window, Anton becomes an obsessive youth who stalks Johanna relentlessly. He rescues her from the madhouse, but it now appears as a selfish gesture — he is stealing her for himself, not rescuing her so much as changing. It takes the most minor of alterations to expose how unacceptable many of his actions are.
In this altered reading of the film, Johanna lacks a savior hero. This absence leads to the fate of continued entrapment, making Johanna’s complete lack of power more tragic and therefore more visible.

DIY media is the ideal way to discuss and critique a movie because of the accessibility: a vid has the potential to reach the movie’s fanbase rather than circulating among academics as many texts might. Furthermore, DIY media is necessary to “articulate alternate perspectives, particularly in terms of gender and sexuality” that The Media rarely addresses (Coppa, 25). Vidding and DIY media in general allows fans to proactively take control and create a media that is truly representative of the fanbase instead of representing the elite white males that generally have power in the media.

Coppa, Francesca. “Women, Star Trek, and the early development of fannish vidding.” Transformative Works and Cultures, 1 (2008). Print.

The First Pinterest

            For my DIY project, I was inspired by the Pinterest set-up and culture: pinning Internet clippings onto a personal “board”. However, instead of creating my own Pinterest, I wanted to explore a more “original” version of Pinterest that involves the actual act of “pinning” a clipping—whether that be a picture, or a card—to a board. For this project I went around the Jewett Residence Hall floors and took fifty-six pictures of first-year corkboards. (With the permission of the residences). I took nine pictures in each single sex hall, and ten pictures in each co-ed floor. (For example: five girl boards, and five boy boards for Four East and Four West, both co-ed halls). This meant I had twenty-eight pictures of boards decorated by females, and twenty-eight boards decorated by men. I was interested in seeing what kinds of items Whitman first-years put on their boards. Who are the people in the pictures and how are they related? Which musical or visual artists influence them? What do the colors and the design of the board have to say?

            What I found during my project is that yes, many more female residence members had a lot more pictures, colors, and “girly” aspects. The women of Jewett tended to have more arts and crafty type of items that were pinned onto the board. Further, what was interesting was most of the big posters that the first-year women hung up were of white male men. (If you look you’ll see some Bob Dylan, John F. Kennedy, a Friends poster etc…) The other larger posters included animals, or nature pictures, and if you look closely you can see Audrey Hepburn on one board.

            For the first-year men of Jewett, the corkboards were not as heavily decorated, but displayed a lot of stereotypical masculine interests such as sports, hardcore science posters, action movie posters, and women. However like the women of Jewett, there were definitely exceptions and in fact, there are a handful of male corkboards that did not present themselves as “overly masculine.”  (One has a couple of crafty cards dangling from it). The male corkboards were much less busy, and there was not as much color, but interestingly color was easier to see because the boards were not as busy. I saw a lot of flags, music posters, (Bob Marley is pretty popular) and maps. I think it is important to highlight that both men and women’s corkboards were, for the most part, pretty organized. The difference was the amount of stuff pinned to the boards.

            As I thought about my project more and more, I decided that a corkboard is like the Pinterest board except physical. Boards are personal, and often people pin up items that express who they are, their personal opinions, (politically, musically, artistically…i.e the 2012 Obama signs) as well as the people that influence them. Looking back at the corkboards decorated by women, the creative designs gave a lot of information about the “in” styles.  A number of the boards had a “hipster” vibe to them (like nature pictures, Nols stickers, crafty items), but for the most part organized, and loosely collected. Others were more “girly”. Granted, some boards were much more busier than others, and to go against the stereotype there were at least three boards that had barely anything on them.

            However, I would also argue that these corkboards are like scrapbooks as well. The women of Jewett pinned special cards, memorable pictures, and clippings onto their boards. One girl’s board had everything from cards, pictures to candy wrappers. Like a scrapbook, corkboards collect memorabilia, but instead of being bounded by a spine, the “scrapboard” is open to anyone who walks into the room.

            Unlike a zine, I did not see a lot of “resistance” against what was on these women’s boards, or “talk back” which why the “scrapboard” resembles a Pinterest board. Similar to a scrapbook in which, “girls and women would place cards they had collected…while allowing space for personal expression…” conveying, “a more colonizing interest in incorporating people into a commodity marketplace rather than providing a site for resisting that marketplace.” (Piepmier, 32).  Most people do not “pin” images on their Pinterest (or their personal corkboards for this matter) that they resist. However, I would like to “talk back” to these corkboards and point out that despite the aesthetic look of most of these women’s boards, they are representations of status and mainstream culture. (In this case, first-year college dorm culture). Because there are so many books and sites on “how to decorate your college dorm room” there is a push to decorate your dorm room and of the women and men of the Jewett Residence Hall who did not have as many items on their boards, apologized or warned me that their board was not very interesting. Some even felt bad about it. One girl commented, “Sorry, mine kinda looks like a guy’s board.”  

            As a result of these comments and reactions, it proves that media influences everything from the clothes you where to how much a college student should decorate his or her dorm room and how. A dorm room corkboard should not wholly define a person; yet apparently in the Jewett Residence Hall students still feel slightly “outside” of the conventional college corkboard designs. Not only does media influence different genders on appearance, the professional fields to excel in, and something as simple as what to put on a corkboard, but also the pressure to decorate one’s board for the sake of being a) a person who has “unique” yet “common” interests like everyone else and b) to prove that your corkboard or Pinterest, or scrapbook is à la mode depending on your gender.

Cork-boards decorated by women:

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Cork-boards decorated by men:

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Piepmeir, Alison. “If I Didn’t Write These Things No On Else Would Either: The Feminist Legacy of Grrrl Zines and the Origin of the Third Wave.” Girl Zines: Making Media Doing Feminism. New York: New York UP, 2009. 32. Print.

Talking Back to Sexist Fan Reactions

For this project, I decided to do a video for Game of Thrones with the song “Run the World” by Beyonce. Game of Thrones has many interesting and multi-faceted female characters that wield varying levels of power and who use subtle (and not-so-subtle) negotiations with men to exert influence in a male dominated world. However, many of the show’s viewers dismiss these characters for existing within a traditionally feminine role. For instance, thirteen-year-old Sansa Stark is hated by a sizeable percentage of viewers for being too much of a stereotypical teenage girl and for using courtesies and traditional femininity to survive, while they praise her younger sister Arya for being a tomboy that subverts such expectations. Neither view fully understands the characters; Arya would be dead if she were in Sansa’s position and vice versa. Cersei, who is queen and then queen-regent, is another character that is often hated by fans. There are reasons to hate Cersei, she is positioned by the narrative as one of the antagonists to the designated moral protagonists the Starks and has done many bad things, but many of the reasons fans hate her are gendered. They hate her because they view her as a bitch or as overly manipulative. She is manipulative, but no more than many of the male characters who do not receive such hate, and her supposed bitchiness is often her way of showing her frustration with the limits her world places on her because of her gender. Viewers who hate Cersei seem to have confused hating a character’s actions with hating the character herself, something that does not generally happen with morally questionable male characters.

Because the female characters in Game of Thrones are so frequently misunderstood, I decided to make a vid exploring how women in the world of Game of Thrones exert influence and power, and how they use either feminine or masculine roles to survive in their circumstances. My vid is thus less a critique of the subject material, as is common among vids, but a critique of the fan reaction to the subject material. I decided to use Beyonce’s “Run the World” song to demonstrate how the women in Game of Thrones actually exert a great deal of power with very limited resources, and how even if they use power by utilizing traditionally feminine gender roles they are still strong and worthy characters. As Game of Thrones is a visual narrative, a vid is a good medium to address these things. With my vid, I can take clips from the show and place them within a context that more easily demonstrates why a character’s actions were a sign of power, even if viewers may have interpreted them as passive or weak within their original context. However, a visual format was at times not adequate to get all I wanted to across. Many of Sansa’s exertions of power are extremely subtle out of necessity. Her only outward sign of power is her continued survival in a hostile environment, and that can be hard to convey through a vid format.

I think DIY is very effective in this instance. As fan reactions are DIY, making a vid talks back to their reactions within the same context and reaches about the same audience. As Francesca Coppa explains, “in vidding, […] music is used as an interpretive lens to help the viewer to see the source text differently. A vid is a visual essay that stages an argument” (Coppa). My vid is a visual response to sexist critiques of female characters demonstrating why the female characters in Game of Thrones are awesome and powerful, especially the commonly hated ones.

Works Cited:
Coppa, Francesca. “Women, Star Trek, and the early development of fannish
vidding.” Transformative Works and Cultures, 1 (2008). Online.