La Divina Commedia di Dante

<i>La Divina Commedia di Dante</i>
I took this in Florence (Nov. 2010) at the Museo Casa di Dante

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"It's a testosterone thing"

"How Being a Good Girl Can Be Bad for Girls"
Deborah L. Tolman & Tracey E. HIggins

"Nothing my boy did was anything any red-blooded American Boy wouldn't do at his age." Their mother commented, What can you do? It's a testosterone thing." (page 207)

When first read this piece, this quote stopped me in my tracks. I think I actually said, "Are you kidding me." I reread the section numerous times. I even had to walk away from the piece for a little bit because this phrase, "it's a testosterone thing" makes me so mad. Being a person who is on testosterone I understand the hormonal piece of it. I know what testosterone does to a person. I have the same T-level as any biological male at this point. I have never liked this phrase because all it is, is an excuse for bad behavior and a lack of self-control.

When reading about the actions of the Members of the Spur Posse, I couldn't help but think of Raby and the discourse of at risk and social problems. "Such risks are also gendered, with girls particularly at risk of pregnancy or assault, and boys more likely to get in trouble for things like drug offenses" (435, At Risk). "'Teens are running roughshod over this country - murdering, raping, gambling away the nation's future - and we have the bills for counseling and prison to prove it" (435, Social Problem). Their behavior is written off by the discourses of the American Teenage Boy. But this discourse transcends the teenage years and move into adult hood. Ron focuses his blog post on this concept.

There is an obvious double-standard and I really do not know how this will ever be rectified. You see it all the time. Here are just some popular examples:

1. Ben Roethlisberger, 2- time Superbowl Champion Quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
2. Rick Pitino, Hall of Fame Basketball coach
3. Tiger Woods
4. Bill Clinton
5. Kobe Bryant

In all of these cases the men mentioned above have been excused and really never missed a beat (except monetarily) and there will always be a large contingent that will say, "Oh, the girl seduced him," or "She knew who he was-she was after his money."

From teenagers to adult men this behavior categorized by the discourses of at risk and social problem are an epidemic. But these discourses and standards are gendered as Raby touches on: "Such risks are also gendered."

This is where the "Atalanta" track and the movie "Alice in Wonderland" come into play. It is clear that these two texts could never be about young men. I can only imagine what the movie "Alan in Wonderland" would be about. Certainly it wouldn't start as a young man running away form an arranged marriage. The Atalanta track wouldn't even be possible because no king would be marrying off his prince.

Using the three media texts, it is almost as if being a "good girl" is good for parents and families - the families in "Alice in Wonderland" clearly want Alice to be a "good girl". To an extent, while it is rather different from Alice's situation, Atalanta is kind of the "good girl" image - but not as much as her father would hope her to be. But, as the article is titled sometimes, "being a good girl can be bad for girls." Much of the images in media have to do with girls being "bad." I love the way Ron describes the following scene form 90210:

Take a look at this clip below from Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990-2000). Tiffany Amber Thiesen (yes, Kelly from Saved By The Bell) replaces Shannon Doherty as Brandon and Brenda's long lost "Good Girl" cousin from Buffalo. She starts off as the "Goody-Two-Shoes Cousin" but has a "Dark Side." Luke Perry plays Dylan McKay, who is the "Bad Boy" of the show.

She is the "goody-two-shoes" cousin with a "dark side." Isn't this a classic image and desire of young men in media texts. So often young men are looking for the "good girl with the dark side."

Because I enjoy the older version of 90210 and I used Ron's video clip as an example:

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Twilight: Talking Points #10

Talking Points #10
Connections: Grinner, Raby, Christensen

The blockbuster movie Twilight has a lot that can be broken down for the purposes of this class. I'd like to look at Grinner, Raby, and Christensen to draw some connections between these texts and the text that is twilight.

Let's be honest, I forgot to do this ahead of time, and I'm not going to pretend that this was done a couple of weeks ago. Grinner's SCWAMP is pretty well established. She came to class and discussed and did a forum. It put it in short, Twilight is a perfect example of SCWAMP and all that society values. The lack of LGBT representation, the clear Christian values, the lack of persons of color, the fact that only one person speaks with an accent - he is also the only person of color, that there is only one person with a disability and the main characters clearly rely on their ability as vampires and wolves, Clear male dominated cast, and Edward's family is very well off.

I also think that Raby and Christensen have something to say about Twilight. First, Raby.

It seems to me that Bella can really be described by the discourse of becoming. As she moves, she begins a transformation. She falls in love, this is all part of "growing" up. But the storm isn't escaping Bella. The whole movie is about her, the boys who want to love her, and the people who want her dead.

The last connection that can be made with Christensen and myths. A perfect example of this is how her parents talk to her about sex. Her father likes to believe that she is daddy's little girl and will never really grow up. Clearly daddy's little girl isn't having sex. Mom - is singing a little different tune. She assumes Bella is already having sex, by telling Bella to be safe. Neither parent really has a conversation with Bella about this. They both assume and go by the myths of teenage girls/daughters.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Final Project

Media Matters: What television and movies say about LGBT Teens and their progression to adulthood.
Dante Tavolaro

To start I want to take a look at the class assumption that was the inspiration for the title of this project.

Media Matters: Popular culture is not just a form of entertainment. The media play a critical role in teaching us about the world. Film, television, music, the Internet, advertising, fashion and other forms of popular/digital culture shape the daily lives of all Americans whether we celebrate or resist their influence. We must learn to see the things we take most for granted, to analyze and interpret the media around us in order to understand how these things contribute to how we think about what is “normal,” “natural,” and “good.” In this class, we will take the media seriously as an educating force.

This was the starting point for this project because it is important to acknowledge and analysis those things that shape and form they way we think. Christensen in "Unpacking the myths that bind us," talks about the assumptions we hold and where we get them from. In the trainings I ran for Youth Pride Inc. I frequently heard folks say things like, "Well I don't know any gay people, but I've seen them on TV." I think Christensen would have the same reaction I did, one not of surprise but of disappointment and sadness. These persons take what they see on TV and assume it to be the reality. We all know what happens when one assumes!

Let's look at some of the media texts - primarily in TV and Movies - around LGBT Teenagers.

Here is a trailer for the 1999 movie Boys Don't Cry.

I picked this video for the project because it is a better portrayal of the entire movie as opposed to the official trailer.

Boys Don't Cry, was the first movie I ever saw about a transgender individual. It did not give me the courage I needed to come out. There are other films out there. I recommend the documentary TransGeneration . Here is a quick clip to give you an idea of what it's about.

This is a great mini-series documentary that follows the lives of four trans identified college students.

Another classic LGBT Teen flick is But I'm A Cheerleader. One of the things that is great about this movie is it deals with the issue of perceived sexual orientation and the failure of "ex-gay" programs. "You know it's kind of like homosexuals anonymous"

One of my favorite movies is Latter Days It is the story of a young Morman man who is gay - but can't tell anyone or even admit it. He moves next door to a gay man - and I'll let your imagination do the rest. The story does have a tragic end, but it shows the problem that many LGBT individuals have with religion. It is a story about what happens when shame and guilt are allowed to overcome a person's life and they are denied for who they are.

I could go on, there are so many great films that show the positive and not so positive realities of LGBT life. A great place to check out is LOGO. LOGO is a station owned by MTV that focused on LGBT content. One thing that you may notice, is that for the most part you'll never seen these on main stream television. This is where Leslie Grinner comes into play. In a tongue-in-cheeck sort of way I only put one word down for how Grinner and SCWAMP apply: "DUH!" As we learned from SCWAMP (and paying attention to society in general) there are certain identities that are valued above others. Straightness is one of them. The reason why much of this is never shown on mainstream television is that homosexuality is not something that is valued in our society. To think back to Christensen and the class assumption, media matters because it is portraying myths of invisibility for LGBT individuals. Remembering the Glee episodes we watched earlier in the semester, there are mixed messages in that. Violence, rejection, acceptance, openness. I think it does give a better picture of the complicated experiences of LGBT teenagers - and LGBT individuals in general - than most TV images out there.

Raby's discourses can also be seen here. The violence and self destructive behavior of LGBT teens plays right into the storm. There are hundreds of statistics out there that ultimately say the same thing: that LGBT teenagers are more likely than there heterosexual peers to engage in at-risk behavior. Becoming is also clearly seen not only in the coming out experiences of the characters, but in the coming out process of those around them. Think of the parents in Latter Days and in But I'm A Cheerleader.

These aren't the only images of LGBT folks in the media. There is a very dramatic shift in the images of LGBT teenagers and that of LGBT adults.

There is the hit showtime series Queer as Folk.

Now this trailer is all well and good - it's Showtime getting ready for a new show. But this is a little more what the show is all about.

This is the intro for the show circa seasons 4-5. It shows that this show is definitely about sex! There is a lot of anonymous sex, drug use, etc. It deals with family, coming out, AIDS, and many other issues that effect the LGBT community.

There is the classic Ellen coming out episode.

Ellen faced a lot of backlash in real life for this, but her experience overall on the show was nothing compared to some of the images of LGBT teens.

Then there is Will & Grace. Some praise the show for having openly gay characters, but for my most part Will is normalized to be as straight as possible - while still being gay. Jack - is the joke, the stereotypical image of a gay man. Here's a clip of the show that shows some of the best "gay" moments.

Again, I could go on, but you are probably sick of reading this by now.

I want to go back to Christensen. It is very important to unpack the myths that bind us. I think Queer as Folk does that. It shows the stereotypical images, but also tackles some very challenging issues and forces the audience to look differently at the lives of the characters. This is something that the mainstream Will & Grace could never do.

As times change the images are beginning to change. There are more positive images, mixed in with the classic negative ones, in mainstream television and movies today. There is hope things are changing. To see the next wave, the deconstruction of myth, the further acceptance of LGBT folks in society all we need to do is look to Glee. A mainstream show, that has demonstrated hardship, struggle, and always has a good love story.


As promised, here is the link to the site where I got my statistics.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kid's Cancer Buzz-Off

Hey Everybody,

So this is a little different that what we normally post, but I wanted to let you guys know of something I'm going to do this Summer. It's Called the One Mission Kid's Cancer Buzz-Off.

I'm going to be hosting some sort of event in early/mid June. Let me know if you want to be kept in the loop.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Final Project Idea

I'd like to look an the images of LGBT teenagers in TV and movies. Off hand shows like Glee and Degrassi come to mind. There are also images in the Showtime hit Queer as Folk. There there are movies like; Boy's Don't Cry, But I'm a Cheerleader, and Latter Days. I'm sure I can find more, but these are the things that I'm coming up with off the top of my head. There is actually a ton more stuff on Logo, and I've seen other movies, their titles just aren't coming to me at the moment.

Most of these images are not very positive. It is a clear example of Grinner, SCWAAMP, and heterosexism. Other examples play into the various discourses of Raby - particularly storm and becoming. One of the things that these media texts show is that being LGBT is something that goes with you everywhere and that can make life really complicated.

For teenagers today tv and movies are so often where they get their information. I will never forget watching Marco on Degrassi google search "I think I'm gay" and thinking that I should do the same thing.

Some starting thoughts. I'll put up another post and things start to come together more. Thanks everyone for the help in figuring out what we were supposed to do.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Talking points #8

I'm really confused about this week's homework assignment. We haven't talked about his in class so I don't know how I'm supposed to come up with ideas for the blog. Help?