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“Having Your Beefcake and Talking About it, Too” March 12, 2007

Posted by erinsull in Uncategorized.
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This article was on the front page of the New York Times Weekend Arts Section. It is looking at the “chick TV genre” which we started talking about in class on Thursday. The author has a take on why women are watching these shows, “All of them offer demale fantasy of the most romantic -and torrid- sort, and thats not multiple orgasm, it’s multiple choice”

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/09/arts/television/09chic.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

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Relevant Poem March 5, 2007

Posted by lindamc in Uncategorized.
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happywomancelebrationjoepbuijsm.jpgBecause women's work is never done and is
underpaid or unpaid or boring or repetitious and
we're the first to get fired and
what we look like is more important than
what we do and
if we get raped it's our fault and
if we get beaten we must have provoked it and
if we raise our voices we're nagging bitches and
if we enjoy sex we're nymphos and
if we don't we're frigid and
if we love women it's because we can't get a "real" man and
if we ask our doctor too many questions we're neurotic and/or pushy and
if we expect childcare we're selfish and
if we stand up for our rights we're aggressive and "unfeminine" and
if we don't we're typical weak females and
if we want to get married we're out to trap a man and
if we don't we're unnatural and because we still can't get an adequate safe
contraceptive but men can walk on the moon and if we can't cope or don't
want a pregnancy we're made to feel guilty about abortion and...for lots of
other reasons we are part of the women's liberation movement.  

~Author unknown, quoted in The Torch, 14 September 1987
 

March 5, 2007

Posted by lindamc in Uncategorized.
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who doesn’t love Dolly Parton? March 5, 2007

Posted by Wasik in 9 to 5, bodies, Uncategorized.
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There were two things that struck me about Nine to Five. First, many elements that the film uses for comedic value are actually a bit problematic. One of the main characters fantasizes about dressing like a cowgirl and shooting her boss. The image of her wielding a gun and shooting her boss while he is curled up (in a very feminine way) on the toilet seat is supposed to be funny—there isn’t any real power in the image. The way that Dolly Parton imagines she will deal with her boss is even more ridiculous to the viewer—switching roles with him, she sexually harasses him by asking him to wear tighter pants to emphasize his package and calls him “hot stuff”. However, again, her words cannot be taken seriously. The idea of Dolly Parton forcing herself upon her male secretary, or even using terms that objectify him, is hilarious but not dangerous. Later, the fantasies of the three women accidentally become reality; once enacted, their ideas are carried through in an intelligent way, but the fact that the women’s power over their boss is the main comedic basis for the movie is still a bit questionable.

On a second, and completely unrelated, note, the clothing of the women in the film (and their general physical appearance) seems to directly determine how they are treated by others. What I found especially striking was the contrast between Dolly Parton’s and the new girl’s necklines. While Dolly Parton wears low-cut shirts that provoke unwanted attention from her boss (and make the other women in the office resent her), the new girl consistently wears shirts with extremely high necklines. Most of the time she emphasizes her ‘good girl’ persona even further with large bows or standoffish frills covering her neck as well as chest. Since most of the other women in the office fall somewhere in the middle of the Dolly-new girl neckline spectrum, I think that the necklines of those two women are intentionally meant to be revealing of their personalities—again, I find this a bit questionable.

What is a “Dreamgirl?” March 4, 2007

Posted by jsaffold in Uncategorized.
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I missed the Oscars due to two terrible exams, but this was the one clip from the evening that I caught on YouTube. In class on Thursday, we discussed Beyonce’s status as a ubiquitous sex symbol and the strategic marketing used to create her mass appeal.  It is interesting to see Jennifer Hudson’s journey through American Idol to Dreamgirls. This video shows one of her performances on American Idol, just as a comparison. The voice is just as powerful but her look is certainly different.

What I find interesting is the nature of Dreamgirls and the fact that it was that film that propelled Jennifer to stardom. I wonder if her path would have been at all similar had she not been the underdog and if she hadn’t been constantly in comparison to Beyonce. Her voice is clearly superior to Beyonce’s, but that alone is not what I think made her into a star. I wonder if we will expect to continually see Jennifer Hudson in the underdog role–it is sort of related to how female power often comes in the form of revenge. What struck me about the clip was that Anika Noni Rose, the third Dreamgirl, was in the center and Beyonce and Jennifer were off to the sides when in all the promo pics and in the movie, Beyonce assumed the spotlight position. It may seem minor, but it was a big deal in the actual film that Beyonce took Jennifer’s lead position and assumed the “center” spot. In this performance, Jennifer effortlessly sings circles around Beyonce, although Beyonce does clearly try to sing up to Jennifer’s level.

The problematic part for me is this: why were we more apt to accept someone like Jennifer when she was in the Effie White role? Would she have been as successful if she hadn’t played the part of a woman wronged? Also, if Jennifer came out with a video even remotely resembling “Upgrade U” (complete with the sensual rolling in jewelry, the diamond in her mouth, sitting in the trunk of a car) it would certainly be received much differently from Beyonce’s.

As a not-so-academic side note, I had a “moment” when I was sitting at the men’s basketball game last weekend (the NESCAC semifinal against Colby). It was in the silent moments just before an Amherst free throw, when from behind me I heard the refrain of an adolescent male voice: “To the left, to the left, everything you own in a box to the left…” I’d heard the female done-wrong “anthem” many a time on the radio and even listened to it by choice on my iPod, but it had never struck me just how ubiquitous Beyonce and all things related are.  

March 4, 2007

Posted by kblack10 in Uncategorized.
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I was recently thinking about Beyonce’s song “Upgrade You” when I came across one of Ciara’s new songs, “Like a Boy”. While each is supposed to carry a different message, I found both songs to simply be “upgrading” men. Both women act like “boys” as each dresses in “boyish” clothing, Beyonce when imitating Jay-Z and Ciara for the majority of her movie, yet unlike Beyonce’s lyrics which portray her as a trophy girlfriend who is happy with her role, the chorous of Ciara’s lyrics in which she says “Sometime’s I wish I could act like a boy” raises the question of why can’t she?? Some verses from the song are:
Wish we could switch up the roles/And I could be that.
Tell you I love you/But when you call I never get back
Would you ask them questions like me?
Like where you be at?/ Cause I’m out 4 in the morning
On the corna roll’n/ Do’n my own thing
What if I?…/Had a thing on the side?/Made ya cry?
Would the rules change up?…
Or would they still apply?…/If I played you like a toy?…
Sometimes I wish I could act like a boy
My main problem with the song is that it portrays a woman stating everything she she should be able and allowed to do, yet still limits herself from because of her sex. If Ciara took all the time to sing about what she SHOULD be able to do, I’;d like to see a second part of the video called “Actually Being Like a Boy Because it’s My Right”. I suppose some might say that this is a statement of “girl power” because Ciara is “so bold” to be putting everything out on the table and taking a stand….but all I see is another woman who is well aware that she is being treated unfairly, and doing nothing to rectify her situation. Here’s the video:

 

Male Gaze Gone Technological March 3, 2007

Posted by Rob Anne in Uncategorized.
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The newest search engine – check it out. Now I wonder, why would they choose her. And what is up with some of those lines? “Blah blah blah using this gun makes me hot!” Like, WTF?!

Click Here to Check Out Ms. Dewey.

Why Women Aren’t Funny March 2, 2007

Posted by Rob Anne in Uncategorized.
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Found this Vanity Fair article – will elaborate later on.

http://www.vogue.co.uk/CoverArchive/Inside.aspx?Year=&Model=&Photographer=&Issue=2007%20March

New Beyonce Videos March 1, 2007

Posted by ajaramillo in Uncategorized.
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Since we just finished our class discussion about the portrayal of Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson in the media, I thought it would be appropriate to put up the two new Beyonce videos. The first one is for her newest single “Upgrade You,” and was the song that Professor Parham mentioned in class about the civil rights movement. I believe the line that Professor Parham was quoting is…

“I can do for you what Martin did for the people
Ran by the men but the women keep the tempo.”

I think that this video is very interesting because in one part, she actually acts as if she is Jay-Z. I do not know if this is some kind of message that women can be just as strong as men, but if it is I do find it strange that she continues to dance around herself as if she is trying to entice Jay-Z. (This will make more sense if you watch the video.)

I am also putting up her new video that features Shakira, “Beautiful Liar.” I feel that this video perfectly portrays the way that many Blacks and Latinas are shown in mainstream media. In this video both of the women come off as very light-skinned, blonde and “passable.” However, there is still an undeniable “ethnic” quality, which can be seen in the way that they are constantly belly-dancing and gyrating.

Ambition: Lora vs. Sarah Jane February 27, 2007

Posted by Wasik in imitation, Uncategorized.
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I found the comparison between Lora and Sarah Jane very interesting in “Imitation of Life”. I felt as though both of them were driven, ambitious, and wanted to achieve something, though their circumstances were very different. In the end, race was clearly the main difference between the two, and it imposed a limit on Sarah Jane’s success.

It was hard for me to tell whether or not Lora was meant to be seen as a sexual object by the viewers of the film. She is often wearing very beautiful, eye-catching clothing, but did the director use these outfits to titillate those watching the film, or did he simply mean to show Lora’s wealth? Clearly, the men within the film (Steve and her director friend) find her attractive, and wish to posess/control her; however, at different points in the film, she rejects both of their advances in order to pursue her dream on her own terms. In the end, I think hers is a success story, because she achieves what she wants, and actually gets Steve to conform to her.

Sarah Jane, on the other hand, is far more objectified. She is portrayed as a disobedient, edgy young woman who has a mind of her own. She wears sexier clothing than any of the other female characters, and is the only one which ever exposes her underwear to the camera while she is changing. However, I think that her ambition is very similar to Lora’s: she wants to be a performer, and wants to leave home and create a career for herself. It’s interesting to note, however, that the director chooses to make her a sexual object in the film even before she runs away from home– is he trying to say that there is something inherently erotic about her (and her ambiguous racial makeup), is he saying that society cannot help but see her (or black women in general) as a sexual object and not a true protagonist with any sort of real agency, or does he mean to present a combination of the two? Her identity is already very problematized by her unusual appearance and background; why is she further complicated by strange, dangerous sexual tension? In general, I found many parts of the movie to be unresolved by the end, and Sarah Jane’s confusing existence was the most interesting one.