Posted in Uncategorized

The CW: How the LGBTQIA+ Community is Represented Based on their Time Slots.

I’m going to start this off by addressing why I even watch The CW – superheroes. I love superheroes and comics, even despite the pure garbage a lot of superhero content is on TV. I suffer through plot points that make no sense all because I love the characters created from their comic book pasts. I did watch Smallville and Gilmore Girls back when the network was The WB, but the platform has changed quite a bit since then. Superheroes dominate the network’s roster and they are the only channel doing it. Besides FOX with Gotham, Netflix, ABC with Marvel’s Agents of Shield, and when CBS had Supergirl for the first season and then The CW picked it up. But The CW are the only ones that have a whole universe to play in. (While Netflix has the ability to create The Defenders, the extent of the CWDC characters are too vast for Netflix to keep up with).

While The CW is currently known for their superhero lineup and comic book adaptations, their representation is lackluster, to say the least. Though could a show about a man who gets struck by lightning, who can thus run faster than the speed of – well everything – something people can feel represented by? Yes. The answer is yes. That is the beauty of creation, the audience and reader can find what they need from an artifact and feel whole. For a community like LGBTQIA+ though, representation means a lot and many looks to people or characters in this case, that resemble them and how they may be feeling. Being a part of the community myself, I can attest to the feeling of being alone in the world for thinking you are something looked down upon, but through characters on TV and in film, I found that I wasn’t alone. Representation matters for all races and orientations, we all want to feel like we aren’t alone and characters in TV can provide that comfort and reassurance.

As I searched full lineup of shows, I found that the network provides many characters that young and old, queer boys and girls can feel represented by and relate to. But I noticed that the 9 pm time slots actually had flushed out story arcs with their LGBT+ characters, versus those in the 8 pm time slot each week. Thinking that the ‘girl’ shows and the ‘boy’ shows would be different, I was surprised to find that they were pretty even on characters, the big factor being the time slots. The typical “family time” on primetime television is at 8 pm, though I doubt many families are sitting down together to watch Arrow, the stigma still stands as the family-friendly content. Eight pm is seen as a place many children may be watching and given that The CW’s powerhouses are all in the 8/7c time slot throughout the week they hold a huge impact on them. Meanwhile, 9/8c are the shows that are reboots, spinoffs, new, or the less popular DC shows. The network seems to give these shows leeway to create freely, providing great representation to almost make up for the 8 pm slot.

Through deconstruction, the network’s flaws almost fell into my lap. It’s not unknown that the top-rated superhero shows are The Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl; but why wouldn’t they when they get promoted more on social media and in commercial space. From my feeds online, I am bombarded by sponsored trailers of these three and Riverdale the most. As far as DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning, or even their new show All American; I haven’t seen one promo. Watching on The CW App is the same, Riverdale is the top and then The Flash. On the channel, you get the normal advertisements of all the shows coming up in a day or two, and the big guns thrown in two times instead of once in half an hour. Taking apart the workings of The CW through their ad play was an interesting find in the form of deconstructing why these main 8 pm slots have so little representation for the LGBT+ community versus the 9 pm.

Why don’t we just look at the shows and compare how the time slots affect the representation.

CAUTION SPOILERS AHEAD

(Doubt it would matter but I feel weird not saying it.)

Sundays

            Supergirl 8/7c

Supergirl is a typical girl power show, addresses feminist ideas and today’s problems through the scope of an almost indestructible girl. While the storylines of girl power got lost when Kara Danvers (Supergirl) dated a former Prince playboy who owned slaves and degraded women (but that for another time). The show features at its core the relationship of the Danvers sisters, Kara and Alex. Alex is currently one of two LGBT+ characters on the show, and had a coming out story in season two after making their debut on The CW from CBS. During their run on CBS, Alex was basically paired up with a rich asshole named Maxwell Lord. He was condensing and the type of guy that wanted everything when he wanted it because he thought he had power over others, and he wanted to date Alex. He ended up being a decent guy, and Alex kissed him at the end of the season, but once the location of Los Angles to Vancouver happened due to The CW, Max was never seen again, and Alex was gay now.

Though the CBS season of Supergirl has been the best so far (and they are in season 4 right now) having the switch, Alex was able to be a great piece of representation for a lot of young viewers watching Supergirl. But once she had a girlfriend, their storyline got sidelined for Kara and her boyfriend, resulting in two minutes of screen time in a 44-minute show. Floriana Lima who played Alex’s girlfriend, Maggie Sawyer, was a series regular getting next to no screen time and decided the best for her was to leave the show. But before that was conveyed through talks behind the scenes, the season two finale ended with Alex purposing to Maggie. Their relationship lasted five episodes after that due to a bullshit excuse about Alex wanting kids, when Maggie didn’t; making it so they had to break up. Breaking up one of the only LGBT+ couples in all of The CW shows.

Talking about how the realationship of Alex and Maggie has effected her and the fans. (19:14 – 26:00 [25:55 (“I fought friend”)]

Talking about how they cut more than half of Alex and Maggie’s scenes. (35:00 to 36:00)

For the new season, they also introduced the first transgender superhero played by an actress who is transgender. Though her character is revealed to be an alien which in of itself seems as though they are sticking their character into an even lower-class level due to aliens being seen as “roaches” this season. (Trying to play off the immigrant problems the U.S. are experiencing today). But it adds a factor to how this character is represented in the show, making viewers who may be trans to feel as though they will still be alienated even if they are a superhero.

Charmed 9/8c

Charmed is not only a new show for The CW this season but it is also a reboot of the original show of the same name that started in 1998 and ran until 2006. The show is relatively the same despite the general CW vibes it gives off and one of the main characters is portrayed as a lesbian. While the original featured four main sisters who were all straight, now there are three sisters set in present time going to college. Within the first episode, they show Mel’s (one of the sisters) ex-girlfriend who ends up getting back together with her at the end of the episode.

Mondays

            Arrow 8/7c

Arrow is the breakout for the DC comics on The CW, besides when they had Smallville on The WB. But Arrow started this whole universe, every new show with DC comics (expect Black Lightning and the transfer of Supergirl) has stemmed from Arrow. Barry Allen showed up in season two, next year he had a show. Barry crossover-ed with Supergirl on CBS during her first season, then The CW picked it up and now they are Super-Friends. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is the B-list superheroes that started with the characters the writers couldn’t find a place for in their original shows so stuck them on a time ship to help fix time. They all are connected in the Arrow-verse because Arrow was a success in the first couple of seasons.

As far as representation for the LGBT community goes, they never had a great track record. Sara Lance who is the Captain of the Waverider now on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow started on Arrow and is the first character to be a part of the community. Having dated Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) at the start (well he actually cheated with Sara behind his girlfriend’s back which in fact as Sara’s own sister, Laurel) when she came back from her disappearance like Oliver, her girlfriend, Nyssa, came looking for her. Since she left the show more than four years ago now, Arrow has one LGBT character that receives no storylines at all. Curtis Holt in the comics was never gay but in the adaptation of the character, they had him married to his husband, Paul. When his relationship crumbled because Paul found out about Curtis’ vigilante crime fighting, his sexuality and plotline changed to just have him helping Team Arrow.

Now they only insert random lines pertaining to Curtis being gay just to remind the audience that the writers hadn’t forgotten that he was. He has a boyfriend in the current season, yet we don’t get any scenes with them or development in their relationship. Curtis creates representation in a show made for the boy demographic in a sea of girl content on The CW but having him enter in season four and Sara leaving a year before he got into the story feels as though he was a second thought only really added for another tech person besides Felicity.

They also made Oliver’s son reveal that he is gay through a flash forward in a conversation with another character by stating, “that’s why my boyfriend broke up with me.” That’s the only time they mentioned William’s sexual orientation and only said it in a conversation in the future. Not having any real impact other than having another LGBT character in the show.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow 9/8c

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow started out being the B-list superhero show trying too hard to be serious like the other main three programs. They soon became the fun and lighthearted show featuring wacky plots that are so far from the typical superhero stereotypes that every other falls into. I mean they literally had an episode where the team becomes a giant knock-off Tickle Me Elmo named Beebo to fight a giant demon. (Honestly, it is a great time, the best superhero show on TV and streaming service. Highly recommend it.)

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The main character of the show came from Arrow as stated before, Sara Lance, who is a canon (fandom terms meaning the show has solidified it) bisexual woman as the Captain of the Waverider. Sara hasn’t had a proper relationship until last season (season three) but had many hook-ups with women in different time periods and a few men. Currently Sara is dating the Director of the Time Bureau, a government program in charge of keeping time in place, named Ava Sharpe who in fact is one of the clones from the future that was created as help and is described as “the perfect woman” (which is not great in terms of feminism but that for another time) and is a lesbian. They are the main couple in the show giving a well-rounded relationship with two badass women in charge of their respected teams.

Two other characters in the show are canon bisexual, John Constantine and Gary Green. Constantine is basically a demon bounty hunter who uses the dark arts to send them back to hell. He has been with Sara, Gary, and the season is displaying a past love, Des, he had to send to hell due to a demon latching on to him. Gary Green is the right-hand man to Ava at the Time Bureau, has a wacky and nerdy personality and just wants love. He was said to have been with Sara one episode in conversation, Constantine, and has a crush on a new character at the bureau named Mona. Legends has the most canon LGBT characters on The CW and shows a well-written storyline with Ava and Sara as well as giving them their own separate stories growing the characters in a natural way relating close to how it is in real life.

Tuesdays

            The Flash 8/7c

The Flash is the highest rated DCCW shows based (in my opinion) on many people knowing who Barry Allen is prior to the show. The Flash is known even without comic book knowledge much like Batman and Superman are, so it is fair that he would have the highest rating. Though Barry and the gang have no representation for the LGBT community other than the Captain at the Precinct both Barry Allen and Joe West (his kind of step-dad/father-in-law – yeah don’t ask) work at until this season. Barry and his wife/kind of step-sister (again don’t ask about that past, just accept it and move on), Iris’ daughter, Nora West-Allen, comes to their time period to meet her father since he gets lost in crisis two years after she is born. Nora turns out to be either a lesbian or bisexual, they only touched on it in one episode where she had a crush on a journalist that follows the meta-human activity in Central City. That is all, five seasons in they finally have an LGBT+ character to hold value in the show and not a supporting character to drive the plot further with no real storylines of his own.

Black Lightning 9/8c

Black Lightning is the newest of the DCCW shows, it is in its sophomore year and features Jefferson Pierce (Black Lightning) and his family, wife and two daughters. Jefferson was a vigilante back in the day before his girls were born but since he would come home bloody constantly his wife convinced him to put the cause down. Years later his city is still crypt, he is a principal of a school surrounded by gangs, and his youngest got involved with a guy in a gang who threatens her in the first episode. The boy’s gang then kidnaps Anissa and Jennifer, so Jefferson took the problem in his own hands, put the suit back on and got his girls back. Soon Anissa realized she had her own powers as well as her younger sister, Jennifer. In season two, Anissa finds herself having a crush on Grace and the two start a relationship by the fifth episode. Paying tribute to the relationship developed in the comics.

Wednesdays

            Riverdale 8/7c

I have a bone to pick with Riverdale for ruining my Archie comic characters, but I will save that for another time. Riverdale is an adaption of the characters from the beloved Archie Comics turned into a teen soap opera with a mystery. The show has many problems branching from the direction of the show after season one and their depiction of kids on TV. But their representation of the LGBT+ community is sidelined. From the start, we had Betty’s best friend, Kevin, the stereotypical gay best friend but the show acknowledged that flaw and made a joke out of it, which gives an awareness in of itself how problematic that is. Though when Riverdaleblew up, the show gained their episode count from 13 to 22 and they started taking themselves too seriously. The show and it’s writing changed drastically and so did their characters, changing the feel of the show from aware of their faults to it being all serious.

Kevin fell back into the background only appearing in an episode to drive the plot. Cheryl, the head bitch in charge (her words not mine), who has been in the show since the first episode got an amazing story arc about her sexuality. Though we had this turn in Cheryl’s character, when she and her girlfriend, Toni, started dating they got all their scenes cut for other straight couples. While Cheryl and Toni have been together for about a year now on the show, they are barely given thirty seconds of screen time in most episodes compared to full five-minute sex scenes between two straight sixteen-year-old. They even have a sex scene between a teacher and her student, Archie, in season one; but having a proper scene of two girls singing a ballad to each other in the musical episode gets cut for time?

(13:30 to 14:50 [can just watch for a few seconds too you will understand])

(12:55 to 14:00)

            All American 9/8c

While I haven’t seen too much of All American, I’ll keep it short. I really just wanted to see if the time slot after Riverdale, had a more prominent LGBT character, as I found in the previous days. Turns out it does. Coop who is Spencer James’ (the lead) best friend is a lesbian who hits on all the ladies constantly. The show is mostly about football and Spencer’s transfer from his home in South Los Angeles to a team in Beverly Hills. It shows how his two worlds collide and are based on the real life of pro football player Spencer Paysinger.

Looking at the effect of the time slots and how the LGBT+ community is represented through fantasy themes and queer studies, we can figure out how this company can change how a character is treated at eight versus nine.

As stated earlier, primetime television on major networks has more “family-friendly” programming do to the fantasy theme of censusing the eight o’clock time slot. “In 1974, there was widespread public criticism regarding the amount of sex and violence than on American television.” The biggest backlash in that year was a made for TV movie called Born Innocent that showed a lesbian rape scene in the move and in promotional ads and thus was blamed for a rape of a young girl that same year. The FCC got the three major networks at the time to adopt the “family-friendly hour” and addressed the government to solidify the mandate of family hour. Due to the effect of the mandate on All in the Family being moved to 9 pm and ratings dropping, the creator and legend Norman Lear cited creative infringement and first amendment rights winning the lawsuit by being backed by guilds. The next year, 1975, a district court judge declared the “family viewing hour” null and void. Though the effect of the act for a year has continued today.

As they found out the mandate was infringing on these TV shows and not allowing the freedom of speech in television causing it to return back, networks still continued the notion of the “family viewing hour” due to the countless amounts of views they need to keep their company from losing profit. Thus, today the eight o’clock hour is still seen as a family-friendly time slot for the major networks. Creating the censor of not only cuss words, sex, and violence; but the representation of LGBT that not everyone has accepted to show to their children. Creating a space for minor characters to be classified under LGBT but not shown their own storylines in a relationship fully compared to those straight couples. Since the 8 pm slot is reserved for the family, The CW falls into the trappings of thinking children won’t be able to watch if they are showing a couple that some parents and people don’t feel comfortable watching (for some reason).

The funny thing is that Arrow is basically a Batman version of Green Arrow, dark and broody, who ends up killing most of his opponents unlike Supergirl and The Flash, who don’t kill any of their opponents. So, the company is fine for Oliver Queen to have sex scenes with Felicity and show violence but to show a couple together, that draws the line from the eight o’clock hour to the nine. Having a couple or two couples in one program through well-written plotlines that give life to both characters and representation for a community that feels excluded, is not “family-friendly” to The CW?

The network seems to have a naturalization of heterosexuality, like most of the world does due to society. The naturalization of heterosexuality, in terms from queer studies, is the assumption that everyone is heterosexual unless labeled otherwise. While they have one to two LGBT characters in their eight pm spot, most hold no value other than another team member that drives the plot and helps, not having a storyline arc for themselves. The CW also has the mentality to say that having one couple or character is all the show can have due to their being too many LGBT characters. But in real life, LGBT people tend to hang out with others who are like them, as well as straight people – not just straight people. In Supergirl, Alex hadn’t fully realized that she was gay until Maggie Sawyer came into her life and showed her how free and comfortable you could be once you accept who you truly are. While Alex had always really known she was a lesbian, it took Maggie (another LGBT person) to express how opening the closet door can relive a lot of stress to conform to that naturalization. Even expressing how Alex fell into compulsory heterosexuality, the impression explicit or implicit, that people should be heterosexual or else something is wrong with them. When she came out to her sister, Kara, she said that in high school she liked going to sleepovers with her best friend because she knew how she felt about her but pushed it down for 15 to 20 years thinking something was wrong with her.

The CW has only one show (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) that has four canon LGBT characters and are even hitting at two more on the same show. While Legends of Tomorrow is on at nine, the depiction of four characters with story arcs and are written complex is amazing representation on TV. A big problem is that The CW doesn’t promote their nine o’clock nearly as much as their eight pm time slots, due to the popularity of those on at eight. But if you stop and think about advertisements, the whole point it to push a product to a viewer who may not know about it. So, why spend more on ads for shows that have large loyal fanbases coming back each week and not any on the shows not popular? That would just make your nine o’clock hour have even fewer viewers besides the smaller loyal fanbases they already have.

The real question that I want to be answered is why do we just expect this as okay? Just wait till nine for your representation kid, when your parents are watching their content that is not family-friendly. The problem is that kids who are struggling to find themselves or feeling they have something wrong with them like Alex, can’t watch their favorite superhero show or teen mystery and find that. While they have the connection of the arc of Alex finding herself in Supergirl, and Cheryl in Riverdale at eight, that is where it stops. Two characters on two very different shows, who are both girls, one a lesbian the other bisexual, with no guys for young men to relate to.

While networks have the mentality to always gain and never lose as a Variety article states that the “Museum of Broadcast Communications television curator Walter J. Podrazik says he has seen a “desire not to offend from the business side” since the days of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, and Rob and Laura Petrie, sleeping in separate beds.” I mean I love, I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show probably more the next person, sometimes you have to stretch the rules; like how they pushed the twin beds together in I Love Lucy with a huge headboard to allude that they slept in just one bed. Plus, we have come this far from the days that Laura would be home all day cleaning and taking care of Ritchie waiting for Rob to get back from writing a television show. One hour shouldn’t be this much of a difference in representation for a network that says they are, “Open to all, all choices, all orientations, all lifestyles, and all possibilities.” Honestly for a network that “Dare[s] to Defy,” they should defy the depiction of lack-luster LGBT characters with no meaningful arcs and no point other to help the straight couples who show five-minute sex scenes and one kiss in a season for the LGBT characters. The CW has the right idea in the nine o’clock hour, just influence the writing to be free for all characters at eight.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Queerbaiting

When I was younger I would tape up posters all over my room, mostly boys that my friends talked about and girls I “admired”. Back then I never understood why I truly had these women on my walls other than the fact that at that time I wanted to be an actress like them. But as I grew up I started to take notice why they had a spot. Sophomore year of high school, I had three best friends that I hung out with all the time. Throughout this time we all found out why we “admired” women but only talked about One Direction. One of us loved Lady Gaga, one loved Florence Welch, one loved Demi Lovato, and I loved Sasha Alexander. Having each other to talk to about the feelings we had towards certain people, gave us an outlet to understand who we are and who we like.

Having that connection is how I figured it all out. But for most, they don’t feel safe or comfortable to talk to others they care about, due to the fact that you have no idea if that person will accept this small fraction of them. So, they look to the representation on TV and in movies for their own sort of Bat-signal. Though a lot of TV and films didn’t have representation of LGBT or really much of any race for that matter until the world got a little more accepting.

Many years ago queer-coding dominated the screen, which ultimately defines a character through traits associated with the LGBT+ community without specifying that they are indeed a part of the community. Much like male villains being depicted as flamboyant in Disney films, like Scar in The Lion King and Jafar in Aladdin. But while it died down a bit, the gay characters altered into the cliché best friend – only there for the joke not to represent the population of who identified as gay.

Nowadays, with people more open to showing LGBT+ characters that hold a value and with more people wanting to see themselves on the screen; we have entered a new form of “coding”. In the community we call it queerbaiting – if you aren’t in the community you probably haven’t heard of it – which promotes characters that are straight as if they could be gay or will become gay at one point. Just think of how the network always suggested the will they/won’t they relationship of Grace and Will on Will & Grace but just reversed. A major example of this is the first episode and the promos for season one of The CW’s Riverdale, which showed Betty and Veronica kissing in order to get on the cheerleading team. The promos had implied that Betty and Veronica may be more than friends – based solely on the promos alone – but when many watched the first episode to see a piece of them represented in a new teen drama on The CW, they were taken for fools.

(I couldn’t find the promo from the first season, but found the kiss they promoted in the first episode of the series)

 

Posted in Rhetorical Criticism

What is Right?

In the wake of the shooting in Pittsburgh over the weekend and the threats sent to known Democrat leaders; fear, anger, and blaming has driven a greater divide between the two parties. The two parties use of what is <right> is all a matter of which “side” is persuading people more in media. Taking this fundamental stance on what is right in terms of Ideographic Criticism developed by Michael McGee, we can take the word <right> as an ideograph to dissect divide in the country today.

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That word, <right>, is defined as morally good, justified, or acceptable; but it is also stated as true or correct as a fact. The ideograph is addressing the two parties’ own views and stating them as facts in the light of media and the American people. While the term holds a meaning of truth and correctness, to a lot of people it means a million things and ideas. So is anything really, truly <right>? Can anyone have the <right> stance on life? Sure there are moral rights and wrongs that are universal, like murder being immoral around the world, but crime is being tested recently in the political landscape. Stories taken true on Fox News or CNN. Threats sent to either party. Hate sent through bullets. Where has the <right> thing gone, if it has ever been here? If any it is lost in the news and speeches political leaders are driving into the minds of voters for the midterm elections.

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From Donald Trump’s tweets about ‘Crooked Hilary’ and ‘Crazy Joe Biden’ to Maxine Waters’ call for mob mentality against Republican leaders in public places, they both fight for what they believe is <right>. In the video of Maxine Waters talking about liberals making conservatives leave restaurants, she says “God is on our side, on the side of the children, and on the side of what’s <right>.” But what’s makes her side the <right> side? Nothing really, just her beliefs turned into “true or correct as a fact” for others in her party to latch onto. The same thing happens with the Republicans, Trump’s constant fight with fake news is plastered on his Twitter for the world to read. He believes that they are out to make him look bad, stating quotes that are apparently false. Making his tweets a “real” source of acceptable, justified truth, unlike other news sources.

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While the two sides argue, in speeches, in the world Americans live in – being a Trump supporter is wrong and a Hilary supporter or Democrat is <right> and vice versa. The ideograph <right> has been changing for a long time, but not until now has hate replaced it. It is <right> to think differently than others, but now it is <right> to attack others for their ideas. Not with bullets. Not with bombs. That is immoral. But with crime and words. Videos of alt-left and alt-right groups fighting each other in the streets of New York. Protesters denying others from speaking or even disrupting a nice interview at a protest or event. Both sides are fighting back toward the other in their fight for what they believe is <right>. Who even knows what is <right> anymore. This is what America has become, a place filled with millions of <right> thoughts all driven by what society has stated for people to consume. But with knowledge and research what is <right> can be found in this world. Otherwise, we have heard it both ways, <right> and wrong on both sides.

While writing this I have been listening to Imagine by John Lennon on repeat, in the hopes that ‘the world would be as one’ in this fight for a better country and world. The real <right> thing to do in today’s America is to put down your own prejudices and judgment and listen to what others say, peacefully. Not through hate. Just listen. Just research and find the true facts not what Donald Trump, Fox News, Hilary Clinton, CNN, and Rachel Meadow say. Maybe then we can all live as one. Imagine that.

Posted in Rhetorical Criticism, Uncategorized

Can’t we all get along?

Preface

I honestly had no idea where to start on an assignment like this. I understood the assignment but when searching for an article on a rhetoric journal I was lost. I wanted a piece that I could truly invest in and spend time understanding, as well as honestly enjoy the argument laid out in front of me. With nothing piquing my interest and work giving me too many hours, I have run out of time. I went to The New York Times op-ed page and finally found an interesting article I could actually sink my teeth into.

Article Review

I came from a small community college in Glendora, California to a four-year private university in Orange, California. When I showed up here I was lost, the size of the school wasn’t a problem due to it being rather small in comparison to other colleges, but one thing got me. The political landscape is much more prominent at a university than a community college. Whether it may be that at a junior college you aren’t living on campus and hanging around the school just because or due to the fact that no one cares about each other’s political views in a classroom setting unless it’s political science. Either way, I have been thrown into a new wave of political views in a school setting that I have been used to. Now, do not get me wrong I am not the one arguing if that is a good or a bad thing, just a new thing I was not prepared for when moving into my apartment. (Though I should have I do live in California).  I was expecting heavier course loads, constant studying and reading, and that making friends as a Junior transfer would be extremely hard for a person like me. (In fact, I still have only found two friends and I haven’t even worked up the courage to ask if they would hang with me. I am pathetic but that is beside the point). While I knew life on a college campus would involve politics especially given the climate in the U.S. we are living in today; maybe I just didn’t expect this much of it.

While searching for this assignment I came across The New York Times opinion page online, and I saw something I thought I never would have seen on the known left-leaning newspaper’s website. An article titled, “Think Professors Are Liberal? Try School Administrators,” by a professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence College, Samuel J. Abrams. The piece showcases non-curricular activities residence life and the Office of Student Affairs had put on at his school leaning toward “overtly progressive events – programs with names like “Stay Healthy, Stay Woke,” “Microaggressions” and “Understanding White Privilege.” Abrams also addresses the ratio problem of administrators in what he called “‘student facing’… – those whose work concerns the quality and character of a student’s experience on campus” giving an average ratio from his survey of 900 administrators as 12-to-one.

Within the article, Abrams’ viewpoint gives his audience a look at how much the college landscape in the United States is lopsided in political views. Showing the student body with less than a two-to-one ratio of liberals to conservatives being taught by a six-to-one ratio of professors and socialized by an “incredibly liberal group of administrators” with a 12-to-one ratio, as stated before. In a country divided based solely on party lines, this type of divide is extremely damaging for the students attending college now. Seeming as if the only way to get by in college is to either shut up or be liberal, showing that the only events provided by the administration are leaning to one side. It “threatens the free and open exchange of ideas, which is precisely what we need to protect in higher education in these politically polarized times.”

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Abrams uses narrative criticism in giving a background of events as well as the email he had received “from a senior staff member in the Office of Diversity and Campus Engagement… soliciting ideas from the Sarah Lawrence community for a conference, open to all of us, titled ‘Our Liberation Summit.'” The story he had set up at the beginning of the article drives his point of view to the astonishing ratio of liberals in the country’s colleges and universities, showing that higher education should be kept as a mutual environment for discussions and debates on issues, rather than one side this and the other that. The use of narrative criticism in this light adds to the severity of the situation due to how a group of people is being silenced or threatened to conform to the administration and the college environment’s viewpoints. With Abrams providing a real instance of administrators holding an event leaning so far to the left, “the conference would touch on such progressive topics as liberation spaces on campus, Black Lives Matter and justice for women as well as for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and allied people,” the reader of the article possesses an understanding of the side of a leaning conservative in a school setting; ultimately driving his point of free exchanging of ideas among students as a clear notion all of America should consider. Thus, the polarized nation could put down their metaphorical pitchforks towards each side to finally grasp the fact that everyone as a human being that is all created equally.

While I enjoy the university I attend now, there are instances in which I feel like an enemy of the state. I am not very political in a sense of keeping up with every story that CNN, Fox News, Washington PostThe New York Times, and even Twitter cover. Due to the fact that I have been under stress ever since I got to this school nine weeks ago, so while the news may interest me on occasion I find myself in the middle of these two sides. I see the views of both parties, I agree with certain ideas on either side like most people in this country. While I am not used to seeing the amount of politics shown on a college campus until I got to Orange, reading this article got me thinking about a setting in which both sides can sit down and have helpful conversations about each other’s respectful views and ideas.

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While reading this, I thought of the Brett Kavanagh walkout held on campus about two weeks ago. I loved the students shining a light on a topic many find uncomfortable to even talk about, as well as the event itself simply empowering women to stand and fight against sexual violence and even harassment is amazing to see. Even though I enjoyed the girl to girl, or woman to woman strength being shown, the complete shutdown of the student who had a different point of view on the Brett Kavanaugh situation was a clear example of what Samuel J. Abrams was getting at in this article. Though I am unclear of who orchestrated the event, the walkout was given a microphone for students to be heard while speaking in front of the crowd; most likely provided by administrators and faculty. I would think if the event were opposite they would provide the same for say a celebration of the nomination passing, but from what Abrams has stated and from hearing about the argument that ensued from the walkout because one student thought differently, I am hesitant.

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If you get to know me you would learn that I am a part of the LGBT community, I am extremely loyal, I put every single person I care about even in the slightest before myself always (I need to stop doing that, I have been a doormat for many people), and I am very open-minded toward every idea that passes its way to me though if I find it complete crap I leave it in the past. But how Abrams shows his audience, of what I believe to be students in college and parents of those students due to his last sentence, is that we are living in a new time period; one filled with extreme viewpoints and ideas that if you aren’t with me on an issue, you are the enemy. His survey of administrators gave me a new perspective on something I didn’t even know I already knew like I said before I live in California, the bluest state of all the blue states (I mean we have Hollywood). Though to read about it made me kind of sad, I am seen as an enemy because I think that that student at the outwalk should have been able to state his view, I am the enemy because I think that transgender people should be able to have rights, I am the enemy because I think different in one issue than someone else. Now, Abrams has a great solution that I think many should consider, what is there to lose in have a civil conversation or debate on issues that we are faced with in this country or even the world. Maybe that way we could bring people together, understand each other’s own views whether we agree or don’t, respectfully debate and be civil in life. Like I said before, we are all humans, created equally; but we aren’t treating ourselves as equals and I think Abrams has a solid article that showcases how life is at the moment in college and how we can come together and change it. Honestly, I hope his thought comes true.

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Be a Maverick

The kids of the world are being corrupted by a pair of brothers, more specifically one of them; Logan Paul. If you are asking yourself who in the hell is that, you are probably over the age of 16 years old. Logan Paul is a 23-year-old boy from Ohio who first grew to fame on the app Vine, then moved to vlogs on YouTube. He uploads a new video every single day, owns a multi-million-dollar home in the Los Angeles hills, and influences many kids of today. His fans follow every word he says, he motto is Be a Maverick. Yep you read that right, Be a Maverick. To me this as stupid of a catch phase as YOLO, but these three words come with so much more behind them than you may think.

In the rhetorical theory – fantasy-theme criticism, which “is a method of rhetorical criticism that seeks to understand how shared realities within a group shape the way people think and act…” (The VCG). Its purpose is to figure out why the groups that are following the artifact by looking at the characters and actions of the piece or in this case the phrase and the person behind it. If you apply this criticism to the phrase Logan Paul has crafted his ‘brand’ around, you may start to understand why his ‘fans’ are obsessed with him (if they even know why).

If you apply the symbolic convergence theory as well, having two main concepts to factor in to the phrase – “communication creates reality and that reality is shared as a social construction” (Bormann/Read-Davidson), you would be able to deceiver how Logan uses his platform to create his own reality of what is true and makes it ‘Savage’ to get people to subscribe, follow, or buy merch.

According to Logan is reasons for his brand name and his bird’s name is that, “If you’re a Maverick you’re someone who paves your own path which has become my way of life.” In retrospect the phrase has a great message for kids, go out and be unique and different and don’t think about what others are doing, be someone great. The only problem is that, Logan doesn’t emulate that message in a good light, with morals. He views it as a next level opportunity to gain subscribers and people to buy his merch. He only wants to be the biggest entertainer in the world and he won’t stop for nothing.

Kids see him doing videos of pranking his brother back and forth, trying to one up each other and ultimately, they show how siblings should be treating each other to their viewers. Because why wouldn’t you sleep with your brother’s ex-girlfriend and everything would be amazing between you?

The one thing that rocked Logan’s world that made his motto “Be a Maverick” go to the top of the WORST level cam on New Year’s Day 2018. Logan put out a video of a dead body he had found while in the Japanese Suicide Forest and masked it as a prevention video. He showed a poor man’s lifeless body with only the head burred out and laughed. Even in the video he saw some fans in the parking lot and told them to “not go over there” pointing in the direction of where he had found the body.

Kids from all over the world, from the ages of 8 years old to 18 years old, watch Logan Paul every day and idolize what this message ensues. Be a Maverick, be Savage, be the best of the best always or no one will care. A man who filmed a dead body, has young fans wanting to be him. A man who says he has sociopathic tendencies and that those who have tendencies are just “a little more savage.”

YouTube has their golden boy back on top after a rough start to the year. He fought KSI, another YouTuber, in August for the biggest YouTube event in its history online. And kids everywhere are still trying to #BeAMaverick. The likability of the guy is just apparently too strong for kids to understand they are being manipulated into a life of wanting to be Logan Paul. God help us all.

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The Joss Whedon Problem

 

When I was younger all I wanted to be was as confident and strong as Buffy Summer; and as loyal and determined as Willow Rosenberg. (Also, can I point out that Buffy, Sarah Michelle Geller, and her friends are called the Scooby Gang in the show and then Sarah Michelle Geller played Daphne in the Scooby Doo live action movies. Okay anyway back to my blog.) Buffy theVampire Slayer was a show I found the first strong teen I could look up to. She wasn’t on a Disney Channel show and she had real world problems, like killing vampires and being a badass. Today, there are superheroes to take that place for young girls, but they still have to face the fact that men have the control over how these strong women are depicted to us and these young girls.

For example, let’s look at someone who inspired me and today’s kids, Joss Whedon. Joss Whedon is the wildly famous known male feminist who created the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, thus creating the badass who is Buffy Summers. Being that of a nerd the man loves science-fiction and anything comic book related. Which is how he became the director and screenwriter for The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Though within these movies his values seem to change, and it wasn’t until his divorce to Kai Cole in 2017 that his true façade had shined out into the world. His ex-wife had written an article on how much her ex-husband was a hypocrite and quite honestly after Black Widow and his screenplay of his unproduced 2006 Wonder Woman script, I don’t think she was wrong.

Looking at this article with Kenneth Burke’s dramatic pentad in mind, I am able to define the use of act, agent, agency, scene, and purpose to the article Kai Cole wrote about her ex-husband, thus exposing the true culture of men in dominating the depiction of strong women in pop culture.

Act: Joss Whedon admits to 15 years of affairs with women he could control due to his power over them, not only deceiving them but his wife the majority of their marriage. Giving light to how his “feminist” label is a façade in the limelight.

Agent(s): Joss Whedon and Kai Cole

Agency: Over the course of 15 years of power and control from the fame of Buffy the Vampire Slayerand projects that came later.

Scene: Los Angeles/Hollywood (the male-dominated Hollywood)

Purpose: I don’t really know why he did it but according to Kai Cole, “He wanted it all; he didn’t want to choose, so he accepted the duality as a part of his life.” In the terms of the article it was done to stop the world’s view of her ex-husband to be that of his true self, non-feminist.

In Kai Cole’s essay she addresses how her then-husband was a man who mostly paid attention to women, while his responds according to her was, “because his mother raised him as a feminist, so he just liked women better. He said he admired and respected females, he didn’t lust after them.” The agent – Joss Whedon – lies in order to deceive his act and in that of the affairs he soon has with women. Not only in the terms of how his actions changed but how he decided to end their marriage and come clean of the 15 years of lying to the woman he said, “[He loves] how you are, how we are, who you are and what we’ve done both separately and together, how much fun we have…,” to Kai.

The use of the Agent’s – Kai Cole – use of Joss’ words to depict how his Act was unlike his persona in the public eye expresses just how the man could drive a character who should inspire girls is placed in the back or only sexual objectified. Much like how his actors in The Avengers, objectified Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, as a slut saying, “But if you slept with four of the six Avengers, no matter how much fun you had, you’d be a slut. Just saying. I’d be a slut. Just saying.”

 

The essay shifts into her own perspective to address her own opinion on the note her ex had left her and her quoting it the other half of the essay. The act over powers the agent in that of her words,

Despite understanding, on some level, that what he was doing was wrong, he never conceded the hypocrisy of being out in the world preaching feminist ideals, while at the same time, taking away my right to make choices for my life and my body based on the truth.

Showing how the Act of his infidelity had no impact on how his being/Agent, expressing how the Scene can have the same problem. Much like how Jeremy Renner said Black Widow was a slut and how many critics after Captain America: Winter Solider was released, according to The Daily Dot’s Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, only seemed to describe Scarlett Johannsson’s character by how she was dressed:

Bear in mind that most of these quotes are the only description of Scarlett Johansson’s performance in the entire review.

In the New Yorker, Anthony Lane wrote, “not to be left out, Black Widow repels invading aliens through the sheer force of her corsetry,” … New York Times reviewer A.O. Scott referenced the 1960s British spy series The Avengers (no relation), writing, “those poor souls who cherish old daydreams of Diana Rigg in leather will have to console themselves with images of Scarlett Johansson in a black bodysuit.”

… while Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir didn’t even bother to beat around the bush, describing, “Scarlett Johansson in a catsuit… cocking her head just so as if to acknowledge that she’s the idealized fetish object of the 11-year-old boy within every so-called adult male.” Idealized fetish object.

The fact of the matter is that Kai’s essay is to show how the Purpose/Agent drives the force of how the two personas match up. The Agent, Joss, is this “powerful producer” around all these “beautiful, needy, aggressive young women” how would the Purpose to the essay not end up being the same. The Act is what drew him to his “disease” like that of a “Greek myth” in the first place to build up to Kai’s courage to tell her story (Purpose).

I mean I cannot blame her for not wanting the world to hear about the man she had been duped to believe was someone different for the majority of the time you knew him. If he can live two lives in his personal life what else is he capable of. The only way that could be solved is expressing the Purpose of the essay.

I want the people who worship him to know he is human, and the organizations giving him awards for his feminist work, to think twice in the future about honoring a man who does not practice what he preaches.But no matter what happens, or how people interpret this statement, I no longer have to carry the burden of Joss’ long-term deceit and confessions. I am free.

Now if I could the Purpose imposed in your brain after just reading it, can be applied to the way Diana Prince is pictured in both Joss Whedon’s 2006 non-produced script of Wonder Woman, and her in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice:

 

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The two both express how Diana is a beautiful woman and has great hair, but one goes as far to say, “Her body is curvaceous, but taut as a drawn bow.” After reading Kai Cole’s essay about her ex-husband, I probably wouldn’t have thought of that line as anything other than how all male writers write their female superheroes for the most part. But knowing that Joss’ views are women are not that innocent than “his mother raised him as a feminist” I feel as though his purpose is not that innocent. So, the fact that her essay shows how Joss was drives her Purpose/Agent in full force in a lot of his work. Thus, showing the dark side of Hollywood, the power driven and “Greek myth”-ed men of the town.

Before I leave you, take a look at how the actual Wonder Woman, wrote how Diana looked, and while they did already have Gal Gadot set to play the part it does make you think about how Joss’ description of Diana makes you want a shower.

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Works Cited

https://www.thewrap.com/joss-whedon-feminist-hypocrite-infidelity-affairs-ex-wife-kai-cole-says/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPpYAFIYQBc

https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/fandom/black-widow-reviews-wrong-captain-america/

https://scriptslug.com/assets/uploads/scripts/batman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice-2016.pdf

https://indiegroundfilms.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/wonder-woman-aug7-07-joss-whedon.pdf

https://ricgibbs.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Wonder-Woman_Allan-Heinberg_2017.pdf

 

 

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Supergirl/Wonder Woman – New Wave of Female Lead Superheroes

Growing up I was never truly into comic books and superheroes. I was the type of kid who sat watching Saturday Night Live and wishing to be on it. When I thought of superheroes I thought of Batman, Superman, and Spiderman. Though, if I was growing up in today’s culture I would be begging my mom to go to the comic book store every week to get the next issue of Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and Supergirl. But a new wave of hero is coming to the forefront movie and TV franchises. The boys are getting shoved to the side to make way for the true heroes, the HERoes if Captain Marvel as anything to say about it.

 

The new age of superheroes has come full force, from the popular CW TV show, Supergirlthat started in 2015 and is going into its fourth season, the major box-office hit, Wonder Womanreleased June 2nd, 2017, and the highly anticipated Captain Marvelmovie set to release in 2019. Not to mention the fact that Elastigirl got to front the new Incredibles 2movie this year as well.

 

 

While each of this superheroes’ narratives are different they all drive the same point: They are women who help and save people. They really aren’t much different from their male counterparts, other than the obvious – screen time. Both the women and the men both fight for justice and saving their world, city, friends, and family; so why not have more women lead superhero movies. It isn’t because of the turnout for the movies, that was shattered at the numbers of viewers each week on Supergirl and the box office for Wonder Woman. It’s society and its lack of creating a well-rounded female superhero that isn’t stuck by her male co-stars. As we have seen from the Avengers with Black Widow, Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy, and Black Canary on Arrow.

The way society sees women is weaker than men, whether it be strength or even emotionally the world puts us in a box and labels girls as less. Even Supergirl is put in a box and finds that when Cat Grant, Catco Magazine’s CEO and Kara’s boss, named her alter-ego, Supergirl and not Superwoman she confronts Cat as Kara.

What makes the show, Supergirl, interesting to dive into (mostly the first season) is that not only is Kara Danvers a.k.a Supergirl a force of empowerment to show the world that girls can become someone powerful. But Cat Grant, has built herself worth up from nothing; she started at the Daily Planet as a journalist and worked her up to a rich CEO of a famous magazine. She has no powers and still is this woman who empowers the super alien in front of her to take hold of that name that may be filled with years of belittling and change it. The narrative gives the audience in a world dominated by the patriarchy a fresh take on life and it’s not just woman watching these movies and shows, men are taking notice too. When Supergirl priemered the ratings between men and women were basically split 51% male and 49% female, with the median age of viewer being 56 years old. (USA Today).

From society’s move from more male centered movies to female and movements in the world geared toward the equality of sexes. Such as, the Me Too movement and The Future is Female resurration from the 70’s; shows that the times are changing, the world wants a new narrative to shine in a bigger light. For many decades these characters have been empowering females who read comic books, but today a young girl could watch Diana walk through No Man’s Land, and feel as though that walk to the graduating from college is the same.

These girls aren’t some fictional beings to show how superheroes could be seen if they existed in the real world, they show us that powers or not we all are powerful and we all are heroes in our own right. Superhero culture is changing; it’s hasn’t been for the nerds since Iron Man, it’s not for the men, now it’s for the girls.

 

Works Cited

https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2015/11/08/superhero-tv-series-male-female-viewers/75218606/

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0451279/

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4016454/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2WTK4ExElE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJCgeOAKXyg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1BCujX3pw8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1f39F1eAqkk