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?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hip-Hop and Colonialism: Recognition and Response IV

Hip-Hop and Colonialism: Recognition and Response IV
Dr. Jared A. Ball

I don't know if it is from burnout, exhaustion, senioritis, or some combination of all of the above but I really struggled with this article. I picked three quotes that jumped out at me. Please respond and comment because I would love to hear what others think about this. Looking forward to class and feeling less confused - hopefully.

"Ours must be a concern over how, in this case hip-hop, can demonstrate the existence and need to overthrown the colonial status or the very existence of colony."
This is a really powerful statement. That one medium could express the need to - and I think at times does - overthrown the colonial status and/or the very existence of colony. Thinking about colonization as a white person is a bit uncomfortable and I find myself thanking God that I'm not English! Here is a genre of music that transcends what a typical genre is. It is about records or getting on the radio, but rather it is about a message of overthrowing centuries upon centuries of oppression. Wow. That's some serious stuff. I cannot think of any other medium - other than black spirituals - that come close to this. Eddie Izzard is one of my favorite comedians and I think he finds exactly why it is music coming out of the black community that is so powerful.

The part I'm talking about begins at the 3:26 mark. I recommend the entire clip - and all of his stuff for that matter.

Out of deep oppression comes a form of expression that is so powerful it can call and challenge the greatest institution - or at least one of the greatest institutions of all time - colonization.

"The goal was not to reduce the issue to the failings of this or that individual but to draw attention to the colonizing process of which requires use of members of the colonized population to mouth the views of the colonizer."
This is one of the sentences I had to read a few times to figure out what it means - I think. I think what this is talking about is normalization: the process by which oppressed groups change their behavior to mimic that of the dominant ideology. An example of this is the character Will in the hit show Will & Grace. Will is very much a straight man - or at least he often acts that way. Many scholars write about Will & Grace as a straight relationship without sex. (I wish I hadn't sold back one of my books from POL 350 (which was cross run with WMST) last semester which had a great article on this). I'm not really sure what Ball was getting at with this quote but my guess is that it is important to note the ways that popular hip-hop is attempted to be normalized to fit dominant ideology which derails the objective of drawing attention to the oppression of colonialism.

The last quote - at least in terms of this blog entry - that really jumped out at me was this one:
"However, it misses that important point of colonialism which is that individual or even small group collective agency is no even match for the power of mass media and communication or their ideological content which they are employed and design." I think Margaret Mead would disagree with Dr. Ball here. I'm pretty confused by this. I was under the impression that much of what Dr. Ball is saying would echo Dr. Mead, no this quote. Or, does this quote speak to the magnitude of colonialism? I'm not really sure. This just struck me as a very powerful reminder of the magnitude, and over whelming power of dominant ideology.

Comment/Question/yada yada yada for class
What do you think of this final quote: However, it misses that important point of colonialism which is that individual or even small group collective agency is no even match for the power of mass media and communication or their ideological content which they are employed and design."? What does it mean to you?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Extended Comments: Deirdre "Glee Episodes, Raby and Grinner"

If it would be sufficient, I would just say "Amen" to Deirdre's blog entry about Glee. Her analysis of the text through the lens of SCWAAMP is spot on.

There is however, something I disagree with Deirdre on. In her entry she write, "There is a lot of focus on problems like bullying and emotional intensity in the teenage years, which is based on real-life problems teens are facing today. However, by representing this issue in the media, in a sense it is perpetuating ideas discussed by Raby such as 'the storm.'" My interpretation of the storm discourse from Raby was a more negative one. That it is a discourse with the focal message that teenage lives are nothing but problems and risks. This is not the discourse, in my opinion, that the creators of Glee are attempting to present - particularly in regards to bullying. I think the discourse being presented in "Never Been Kissed" is one of connectedness, belonging, and hope.

This episode was done in response to the pandemic of young LGBT people committing suicide as a result of bullying. While there are other things going on in the episode, a clear focal point is Kurt's experience as a young gay man at William McKinley High School. These themes are carried over into "Furt" as well. Having been in a similar situation as Kurt, I would have killed for a teacher like Mr. Schuster. Not that he is perfect - not even close - but that he reached out to Kurt when he saw he was being picked on. He reaches out to Kurt, granted not the most helpful way, but he saw what was going on. To often when young LGBT people get picked on in schools teachers and staff just look the other way. As the episode continues there are the slipped in gay jokes and homophobic and heterosexist comments. This wasn't very hard for the writers to come up with, it happens all the time. There is a very clear discourse of heterosexism in society in general and that is portrayed very well here.

The relationship Kurt builds with Blane is a great one. What a great thought to know that you are not alone. That there are others going through the same thing.

Looking at "Furt" the whole blow up with Finn and Kurt sets the stage for one of the final scenes in the episode where Finn sings to Kurt. Trying to think more positively, it shows that people can come around, and that they have to go through their own coming out process when their friends/family come out.

There is hope that those around you will come through. The other members of Glee stick up for Kurt. His parents make a sacrifice to send him to a different school. He learns the joy of falling in love, and being able to stand up for who he is. That is ultimately the best message this show could send - the best discourse it could use. Blane helps Kurt to see how important it is to not let others push you around, to stand up for who you are. It doesn't matter how someone identifies or what their age. This is a message for all people.

Deirdre's response to the overall stereotypical nature and dominant ideology of the show is right on. However, I wonder if using stereotypes is a way of general understanding that the writers can use to push better messages. Even if someone is gay - and a stereotype at that - they still must be treated with dignity and respect.

Thanks for your comments Deirdre always a pleasure to read .

Glee Reflection

Hello All,
Sorry my Glee reflection isn't posted yet. I did not have a very relaxing Spring Break. When I planned on doing my Glee Reflection - sitting in the Atlanta Airport on Saturday - I couldn't get wifi. I've seen the episodes, but haven't had time to respond. I will get something up today. Sorry for the delay.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I can't find the episodes of Glee online. Has anyone else been able to find them?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Did You Know?

On Saturday I was at my Diocesan Convocation, we watched Did You Know? 2008

I thought these are a great example of what we are talking about in class now with our Digital Autobiographies and Wesch's New Media Revolution.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Boys Don't Cry 2011

Before you watch this please watch the video below titled "Boys Don't Cry."

The movie "Boys Don't Cry" is a story about a young FtM (Female to Male) Transgender individual. It is what modern day folk are calling Transition files/stories/vlogs etc. The is rather triggering, but it is a brilliant commentary on the life of Transgender individuals both then and unfortunately now. My digital autobiography is a spin off of this idea. Enjoy.

p.s. The opening frame says
To: Teenagers in/and the media
Subject: I thought you should know . . .

Boys Don't Cry

This is a very powerful movie. If you haven't seen it you should Netflix it. More about this later.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Providence College Public and Community Service Program

In my post about Wesch's article, I used the Providence College Public and Community Service Program as an example of New Media Education. Unfortunately I posted that article from my phone and wasn't able to get the hyperlink in properly. So here it is: Feinstein Institute for Public Service

Each Public and Community Service major takes a two semester class during their senior year called capstone. In one of their meeting/classroom on the 4th Floor of the Feinstein Institute each capstone class paints a mural as their legacy to the program. This is the mural that my partner - Kaytee - and the rest of her capstone class (2009) did.

Knowledgable v. Knowledge-able: Question/Comments/Point To Share

While re-reading my blog entry tonight, I realized that I forgot to post my Question/Comments/Point To Share portion of the post. So here it is below.

What experiences have you experienced at RIC that demonstrate both the knowledgable system of learning and the knowledge-able system of learning?

Knowledgable to Knowledge-able

"From Knowledgable to Knowledge-able: Learning in New Media Environments"
Michael Wesch

1) "It becomes less important for student to know, memorize, or recall information, and more important for them to be able to find, sort, analyze, share, discuss, critique, and create information. They need to move from being simply knowledgable to knowledge-able."

This quote from the opening of Wesch's piece gets to the heart of what this article is about. As a result of the New Media Environment, the old way of understanding education becomes less important. As he says, "it becomes less important for students to know, memorize, or recall information." He says over and over again that it isn't about spitting back the information, but it is about being able to ask the right questions. On page 11, Wesch gets to this best case scenario, "In the best case scenario the students will leave the course, not with answers, but with more questions, and even more importantly, the capacity to ask still more questions generated from their continual pursuit and practice of the subjectivities we hoe to inspire." It seems that this New Media Environment and the educational reforms the Wesch talk about are closely related to the socratic method of teaching - teaching students to learn by asking questions. How remarkable that this time test method of teaching can be combined with the New Media Environment to produce a completely new standard of education and learning. A way that takes information as something hard to find and turns it into something to be created.

2) "Always aware of the hidden metaphors underlying our most basic assumptions, they suggest calling this "the Vaccination Theory of Education" as students are led to believe that once they have "had" a subject they are immune to it and need not take it again."

Here Wesch suggesting that to achieve this Knowledge-able state, we must completely change the way we talk about schooling. The moment I read the above quote, I thought of all the times that I have used that exact same phrase. Think back to all the classes and subjects you've taken. Can you remember the information you gathered in that class and the questions it led you to ask? I know I can't. I think that has something to do with this way we understand courses, but also the larger picture of this article. Most of my classes have been about memorizing and spiting back information. This at times has been literal, where I've had to memorize Constitutional Amendments and copy them on an exam. A week after the exam I couldn't tell you what it said. The problem with memorizing spitting back information is that students generally forget it once the exam is over. They no longer need that information they have "had" the class. There is even an assumption on the part of professors in the rest of the department that once you have "had" a class you don't need to go over that information any more. "You should remember this from 202 so we won't go over it now." When this is said by the professor in my Political Science classes my peers and I look at each other shrug and then go look it up on Google. Wesch is really on to something here. Looking at a subject once and never returning it means that students are fully developing the critical thinking skills that he talks about as the core skills of this New Media Environment.

3) "love and respect your students and they will love and respect you back. With the underlying feeling of trust and respect this provides, students quickly realize the importance of their role as co-creators of the learning environment and they being to take responsibility for their own education."

It is my firm belief, and supported here by Wesch, that without trust and respect students cannot and will not learn in class. A great example of this - not fitting with what Wesch describes - standard lecture classes. The professor stands in front of the class and lectures for an hour and a half - from the start to the end of the class - and assigns the next assignment and leaves. Half time, students don't even show up to these classes, but there is not connection. This, in my opinion, show a lack of respect for the students on the part of the professor and in turn the students do not show respect back to the professor. In classes where students have to take responsibility for their education, they are more invested in it and more likely to actually show up. My partner shares stories all the time from her time at Providence College as a Public Service major. This program at PC is defined by the quote above. The most important thing for freshman and new classes to establish is a sense of community within their program. At the begin of each semester the professors and students define their class norms and assumptions. They work together to define the agenda for the class, and students are encouraged to share articles they find on their own with the class. It is not about memorizing information, but it is about forming community built on love and respect and asking questions while seeking information in the world around them. Much like Wesch recreates the world in this classroom. Public Service majors recreate the community in their classrooms, address issues, create programs, ask questions. They then go out into the world and attempt to put what they have learned and created together into practice. If it doesn't they come back to the classroom with a new set of questions and problems and start the process over again. They are taught to constantly question things. Two years after graduation, my partner still remembers almost everything she learned as a Public Service major. I, on the other hand, in a more "traditional major" that is pretty much based on lectures and memorization can't remember things that I learned in classes last semester. With out love, respect, and investment in one's education there cannot be a true form of learning. If students get to the Knowledgable stage, it certainly prevents them from getting to the Knowledge-able stage.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dancing Through Life

After reading through a few of the blog entries for the Raby piece, I was reminded of one of my favorite songs from the hit Broadway musical Wicked. The song, "Dancing Through Life," is all about not thinking to hard and just dancing through. To me, it is about popularity and fitting in and not trying to find your own individuality. Elphaba - who is clearly different - is taunted and the like. Most of the taunting comes form Glinda the Good - the popular girl. Thanks Jess for reminding me of this song.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Tangle of Discourses: Girls Negotiating Adolescence

Rebecca C. Raby
"A Tangle of Discourses: Girls Negotiating Adolescence"

After explaining the five dominant, Western discourses of adolescence – the storm, becoming, at-risk, social problem, and pleasurable consumption, Raby begins to go into the interconnectedness of them. The opening few sentences of the section titled, “Living the Interconnections and the Clashes” made me begin to think about the importance of the five dominant discourses: particularly the importance of being able to go through all of these stages.

Of the five stages it seems that there is quite a bit of importance on becoming. “Less prominent in the more sensationalistic media, but nonetheless present in much literature on teens is the concept of teenagers as ‘becoming’, usually discussed in terms of self-discovery and/or identity formation” (p.433). What happens when a teenager is not allowed the room to explore and have this time of self-discovery? While I think Raby discusses this vaguely I did not grasp and real meat on this issue.

I would argue that when a teenager is not allowed to fully live into their own self-discovery they are more likely to partake in at-risk behaviors. The same could be said for young people who are not supported in their self-discovery or who experience some sort of hardship as a result of said self-discovery. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) is done throughout public high schools in the straight of Rhode Island. It looks at a variety of at-risk behaviors and compares the participation in those activities to heterosexual and gay/lesbian/bisexual/unsure (LBG/Unsure) youth.

What the study shows is that LGB/Unsure youth are more likely that their heterosexual counterparts to engage in at-risk behaviors. In every category LGB/Unsure youth are engaging more than their heterosexual peers. This is not true of two categories. The first is current alcohol drinking. Both groups scored at 34%. However, the confidence interval (CI) is greater for LGB/Unsure. This is to suggest that the reality of the situation is that more LGB/Unsure young people engage in drinking alcohol. The only are where heterosexual teenagers score higher than LGB/Unsure teenagers is in Dr. Check up. This is clearly area where score in a lower percentile is not a good thing. The YRBS shows that there is great risk for young people as a result of identity and issues related to said identity.

All of this plays into the concept of Agency that Raby discusses beginning on page 442. She defines agency as “the ability to make choice, to reflect on and influence one’s own actions, and to potentially make change in the world around us” (pg. 442). The YRBS suggests that there is a clear lack of agency amongst LGB/Unsure youth. If so much of the dominant discourses on teenagers is projections from parents and the larger society, it is clear why LGB/Unsure youth have a lack of agency. These dominant discourses seem to dominant in not only the range of acceptance among scholars but also a dominant ideology in their impact on teenagers today.

Questions/Comments/Point To Share
I wonder what happens when to this process - as set forth by the five dominant discourse - when a teenager does not clearly express one of the stages. For example the storm. What about the super involved, honor student, who looks likes s/he has it all together?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dominant Ideologies of Race

In class we've been talking about the dominant ideologies, and in my political science class we are reading about segregation. The two are going together very nicely. The following is a clip of Glenn Beck of FOXNews fame. I think it is a great example of what happens when dominant ideology takes control and becomes radicalized. Glenn Beck talks about race, religion, etc. I find it scary to believe how many people follow Beck's line of reasoning.

Interesting sign of the times

I've seen this commercial a few times on TV and I haven't been able to wrap my head around it. Now you can get facebook updates through your car. Thoughts?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us"

Linda Christensen
"Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us

I teach a Sunday School class at my church called Rite-13 (my students range in age from 12-14). It's part of a larger program called Journey to Adulthood. It's really a great formation piece for young people. This morning we had an open discussion day - a time when the young people can talk about anything and everything that's on their minds. I don't remember how it came up, but one of the students (14 year-old male) made a comment about a "really gay kid" at his school. He continued to go on and talk about how all gay kids (mean young gay men) wear skinny jeans. He concluded he comments by saying, "I'm ok with gay people as long as they don't hit on me." As you can imagine, some of the other students in class were not too happy with his comments. After settling them down, I asked the young man to say more about what he was feeling - explain it a bit. The can of worms that I opened! While things got a little crazy, some really great conversation started to happen. The students started to talk about stereotypes (at first without realizing it). When one student asked the young man who started the conversation where he got that idea about gay people he said, "I don't know." When pressed further he responded, "I see that stuff in movies and TV." He paused for a moment and thought about what he had just said. It was a really powerful moment to watch him work out what that means in his head. Wonderfully enough the sermon helped tie a lot of what we had talked about in class together. After the service, the young man came up to me. He looked really upset. He told me he couldn't believe what he had thought, "I never thought about what I thought before" he told me.

As I read the Christensen piece, I couldn't help but think of him when reading a sections of Justine's dialogue journal: "It's painful to deal with. The idea of not being completely responsible for how I feel about things today." Justine came to the same conclusion as my student did today, just with different words.

My class decided that their homework would be to look for stereotypes at school this week, and think about how they think about their classmates. I had no idea what I was going to do with that for next Sunday. I think I might try some of Christensen's ideas of turning writing into action. Part of the program these young people are in is about becoming adults and taking active roles in society. After reading this article, I couldn't think of better way for them to start taking action.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Superbowl Ads

Lots of people tune in to watch the big game (Go Packers!) But, that's not all people tune in to see. Advertisers pay ridiculous amounts of money for a 30 second spot during the super bowl. There were plenty of ads, that I thought were just plain stupid. Others that were sexist, and heterosexist. I'll post more of those later, as they are a good example to use SWAMP (See Grinner article). This one however, was my favorite of the night. Sure there is a lot being said here. It is clearly a straight white family of a upper-middle class background. But, besides that I was hooked by the use of Star Wars (one of my media weaknesses). I wonder what your favorite ad was?

Hip-Hop Sees No Color: Talking point #2

Leslie A. Grinner
"Hip-Hop Sees No Color: An Exploration of Privilege and Power in Save the Last Dance"
Argument (I think)

Let me preface this by saying that I have never seen Save the Last Dance. Therefore some of my comments may not be totally actuate without that background knowledge.

Grinner argues that as a result of the dominant ideology expressed in media texts the observe must critically analyze that ideology and what it is saying about the norms of society. As part of her argument she offers SCWAMP as a tool for dissecting that ideology. SCWAMP, as Grinner describes it, stands for Straight, Christian, White, Able-bodied, Male and Property holding.

While I fully agree with Grinner and the application of SCWAMP, I was left dissatisfied with her use of it. I found some of her conclusions to be false, or not well supported via her explanation in terms of the media text at hand.

What Grinner writes about in this section is the concept of Heterosexism. Heterosexism is defined as the presumption that everyone is, or should be, heterosexual. Her examples of how heterosexism is present in Save the Last Dance seem a bit weak. There is no real comment about language. She gives one example, "At one point, Nikki confronts Sara with the idea that white women are always "creepin' up and takin' our men." That seems to be more a comment about race than about sexuality orientation and heterosexism. She [Grinner] goes on to describe that scene as "one of the few scenes presenting an opportunity to deal with the issues of race and gender raised by the film." The reality is that race and gender have nothing to do with sexual orientation be it heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or any other sexual identity. That comment and scene reflection could have been better suited in the sections on race and gender (Note: using her language here. This concept is really Gender, but rather sex as I will explain later). It seems that Grinner tried to hard to force the connection between race and sexual orientation. Maybe that is a result of the context of the movie, but those are two things [race and sexual orientation] that are actually closely linked.

In the purpose of full disclosure let me say that I am a faithful Christian. I will whole heartedly admit that this certainly gives me a sense of power and privilege in today's society. With that I did have one major issue with her assessment of Christianity. "Many of the legal and moral codes guiding our society, such as "an eye for an eye," are steeped in Christian ethos." The principle behind that sentence [Many of the legal and moral codes guiding our society] is completely accurate. In fact there is part of law known as Natural Law - Law from God or other greater power - that is frequently used in the American legal system. However, Grinner's specific example is not actually true. She describes that teaching of an eye for an eye as one that is "steeped in Christian ethos." That is actually a teaching that Jesus directly counters in the Gospel making it contrary to Christian teaching. "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also." (Matthew 5:38-39 NRSV). Now, if Christians do in fact live by this motto depends on the person and the time. But, regardless of human action, the teachings of Christ are clear "turn the other cheek."

If anything, I felt she could have gone a little deeper into this section. In my opinion, one of the most harmful things about popular culture, is the lack of examples of "successful" black families on television. Despite all the laws, actions, and even the election of a Black present, Whiteness still (and for the foreseeable future) reigns supreme.

Just as with whiteness there is not much that I wanted to add or subtract from her argument. I think the inclusion of nonphysical disabilities was brilliant. So often the term "able-bodied" leaves the hearer with images of people in wheelchairs, people who are blind or deaf, etc. Including people who are overweight and intellectually disabled shows how far reaching this concept of able-bodiedness really is.

The issue I took with this was her terminology and the implications of the terminology she used. To describe male and female, Grinner used the term gender. Despite popular opinion, sex and gender are not interchangeable terms. Sex refers to one's biological sex. Gender refers to the way a person identifies. By using Gender and limiting it to the societal construction of the gender binary, Grinner re-enforces the societal norm that everyone fits into that binary. By using this binary Grinner fails to recognize how male privilege impacts those people who are part of the transgender community - those people who live outside the gender binary.

All that aside, this leaves me with saying "Duh!" Of course males are seen as superior over females in today's society.

This, like able-bodiedness, is a perfect example of how Grinner takes this concept and broadens the readers understanding of it. Her she is not only referring to physical ownership of property, but also economic, intellectual, and cultural property. What a great way to talk about a concept that is deeply rooted in the history and tradition of this nation.

I am a firm supported and believer in SCWAMP, however Grinner's application of it leaves something - at least for me - to be desired.

Questions/Comments/Point To Share
I wonder what others found of her application of SCWAMP, and in which ways our own possession of societal power impacts that opinion.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Media and Ideology

REFLECTION: Write about your personal connections to this text. What does it make you think about? How does it relate to you? Be sure to draw directly from the text so that the author’s themes and issues are clear.

As I read through the text, I could not help but compare the various topics Croteau presents with politic and legal concepts. In the beginning of the chapter, Croteau explicitly sights various ways that politicians have targeted various media texts. Debates, video games, the internet all have been targets of politicians pushing particular political agendas. When Croteau mentions the sexually explicit material on the Internet, I could not help but think of the various obscenity statutes.

One point that Croteau makes is about the nature of political discourse in this media era. In referencing James Davison Hunter’s (1991) work, Croteau write, “ Hunter stresses the ways in which media – advertising, news, letters to the editor, and opinion commentary – provide the principal forms of public discourse by which cultural warfare is waged.” What Croteau is describing is a modern day Saloon. It has been a common practice to gather at Saloon to discuss political issues and form social movement – just like the modern LGBT rights movement started in the bars – but that is not the case today. This modern discourse is happening in the ways Croteau mentions, as well as via the internet, social networking sights, blogs, YouTube, etc. This struck me because of it’s implication on the political discourse of today. There is a fundamental piece of discourse that has been lost as a result of the digital age. People are not gathering in saloons the way they used to. Now comments can be posted on blogs, rants happen on Facebook, and individuals never have to actually meet face to face to have these conversations. What a great disconnect there is without that personal contact. It seems to me that this distance and disconnect makes the battles of “us” and “them” much easier to happen today than it was in the case of the Action-adventure movies of the 1980s. At these those character met in person and established some form of a relationship.

One of the things I struggled with the most was in the section titled “News Media and the Limits of Debate.” Croteau write, “While media outlets fend off attacks from the political right that they are too liberal and attacks form the left that they are too conservative, journalists find themselves precisely where they want to be: in the middle.” I do not agree with Croteau on this one. There is no such this an a non-ideological middle – these are reports not Switzerland after all. It is pretty clear there is no such thing as “fair and balanced” when it comes to the news. With a pretty strong sense that every media text has some ideology, I don’t understand this concept of the middle that Croteau is referring to here.

For the most part, Croteau focuses on the examples of dominant or “normal” ideologies as demonstrated through various media texts. One particularly striking section is in regards to rap music. Croteau writes, “At the same time, rap is full of ideological contradictions. While some politically radical male rappers critique the institutions of society as being racist, the lyrics and imagery of their music are often sexist and homophobic.” This is fascinating. He is a media expression coming from a politically and culturally disadvantaged group. There are schools within the rap community that critique the social norms and give voice to those who are underrepresented or not represented at all in the dominant culture and society. At the same time there are rappers who are sexist, racist, and homophobic. All characteristics that play to the dominant character of society, the same characteristics that have oppressed many of the people who enjoy rap music for centuries.

Just as I understand everything to be political, Croteau shows how everything has and ideological stance. It is important for the reader of the media text to decode what that ideology is, because it changes everything from the news to their favorite sitcom.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A little about myself

My Name is Dante, I am a four year Senior - graduating in May - majoring in Political Science. My semester is going pretty well so far. I'm taking a pretty easy semester so that I could enjoy my last one here at RIC. Unfortunately, I'm unemployed which leaves me with a decent amount of free time. My three greatest loves are cooking, traveling, and music. In fact, if all goes according to plan, in a few weeks I'll be headed to London for about a week to visit my partner who is getting her Masters in Gender and Social Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Looking forward to meeting you all on Tuesday.