I found that the episode of Better Off Ted we watched on Tuesday was a really great piece of Media to to analyze in class. Although it was a very exaggerated look at the dynamics of big cooperations, there is a very real underlying issue they in a way, expose to the viewer. I found the key issue to be that our society can be molded and manipulated so easily, which in turn gives big cooperations a plethora of ways to capitalize and profit immensely off the materialistic nature and the blindness we have as a society. They do this through incredible marketing and brilliant advertising based hugely on shaping our perception of "how things should be".
January 2013 Archives
I must say, this article was a good read. Reading it made me think back to where I had weak media literacy and the point in my life where it became stronger. The aspect of the article that stuck with me the most was the author's illustration of knowledge structures being towers on the Earth. I totally agree with the notion that having one tower can give one an enlarged perspective but that one tower only gives that person perspective of the things around them. And so it is important to have many towers or knowledge structures around the world, giving one the many perspectives, in this case, in media literacy.
The author extends this idea by portraying media iteracy as multi-dimensional. The four types of information, (cognitive, emotional, aesthetic and moral) are elements that build strong knowledge structures when all combined. I fond myself relating to this concept the most because as a news fan, it is very imperative that I remain an informed and media literate viewer to better understand the world and whats going on around me. More importantly, doing this helps me seperate the BS biased news from the actual objective news.
I was a fan of the screening we watched in class of Better Off Ted. It reminded me a lot of another of my favorite shows, Arrested Development, and not just because Portia de Rossi stars in both shows. It was clever and witty certainly but also very critical of the corporate and media infused environment that we live in. It encourages its viewers to by cynical of the media and products produced by these large corporations and in this way encourages media literacy. It also illustrated a number of persuasion situations such as when the main characters discussed ways to prevent the company from being sued for freezing a coworker.
One of the things I was thinking about while watching is "what media buyer would ever want to place ads around this show?" And then it occurred to me that this was almost certainly why it was cancelled so prematurely rather than low viewership. So much of primetime ad space is taken up by food and drink products that would never want to be associated with Veridian Dynamics. Even smaller organizations that run things in a way that viewers would like wouldn't want to place ads around this show and run the risk that viewers might associate it with this company particularly in light of the fact that the show sometimes produced fake ads to mock the fake cheeriness of much of corporate advertising. I'm surprised the show was ever able to be produced given that the networks should have realized this wouldn't be something advertisers would be fans of. This show is a good example of why you don't bite the hand that feeds you.
Discussion Question: Do you agree or disagree that Better Off Ted encourages media literacy in its viewers? Can you think of a product/brand/service that would want to advertise around a show like this?
"What is Media Literacy?", was the media text that resonate most with me this week in our course. I found applicable initially because I didn't realize that media literacy related to every form of media - since a main focus is on text media. However, it made sense it would be all forms and that media literacy was the understanding of messages in each medium of media. The article also addresses perspective which I think it highly important when trying to understand the text and subtext of a media source. This is something we should strongly keep in mind when addressing media sources. How does our background or past experiences shape our perspectives? And how do these cause the message to be interpreted differently from person to person?
With these perspectives come levels of information. There are three: message conventions, media industries and recognizing effects on society. These three are important to keep in mind because the shape the depth to which we understand the message being produce and how the message with affect the world around us. The final aspect of the article and media literacy that we should keep in mind is that media literacy is multi-dimensional, there is cognitive, emotional information, aesthetic information and moral information. We need all three when interpreting a message from the media and the most important thing to note is that you cannot have one form of information without the other. For example too much cognitive and not enough emotional makes it hard to understand peoples feelings and causes someone to just focus on the facts of a media message. Overall the purpose of incorporating all these dimensions of media literacy is to give us a better understanding of the medias messages being conveyed to us.
DQ: Even when operating at a higher level of media literacy can we be in control of the media messages, as the article suggests? Or does media literacy simply provide us with a greater understanding of the media's message rather than controlling the message we see?
In this chapter James Potter defines to us what exactly media literacy is. Which as he described it as "the perspective that we actively use when exposing ourselves to the media in order to interpret the meaning of the messages we encounter." He goes on to talk about what the key is to being media literate and at a high level. He states a couple times throughout the chapter that the key to developing a strong perspective is to build a good set of knowledge structures, using our skills as tools and raw material for information. He talks about the importance of information to knowledge and to not only understand the "what?" but also "how?" and "why." He later talks about the three fundamental ideas of media literacy: Media literacy is a continuum not a category, it is multi-dimensional, and the purpose of media literacy is to give us more control over our interpretations of the media. Media literacy cannot be categorized, in compairisan to a thermometer there are levels or degrees of media literacy instead of being categorized as media literate or not. There are four dimensions to media literacy. Cognitive is the fact based information like statistics. Emotional information deals with information about feelings, such as spite or joy. The aesthetic dimension is bases of what your eyes and ears decipher. The moral category serves as information about value, about what is wrong and right. Finally he states that the main purpose of media literacy is to give us more control over interpretation. What he means by this is if you have a low media literacy than you are letting the media dictate the interpretations. When you are more developed and have a higher media literacy you think much broader than the interpretations the media has on the fore front. You have a greater understanding of what is going on and you have control and options in how to interpret the information.
Potter spoke about the importance of being highly media literate. I was wondering if you think it would be helpful to be able to measure your media literacy on a scale? Sort of to test your media literacy and see where you stack up and if you should improve your skills.
From this particular reading, we can gather that the author strongly believes in the idea that the depth and range of a person's life perspective will determine how well she or he will be able to achieve media literacy. Knowledge structures are absolutely essential in building and broadening our perspectives so that we can continue to grow into more advanced consumers of media texts. Those on the higher end of the media literacy continuum will be active rather than passive in their consumption of various forms of media. As students who will be unpacking numerous media texts throughout our studies, we will benefit greatly from focusing on the ways in which we analyze what we see by asking questions to gain a more well-rounded understanding from the implicit and explicit codes and messages being expressed. If we are not careful to question what we are seeing and hearing, it would be very easy for the powerful people who create and display media texts to convince us that whatever they have produced that dives into our eyes and ears and swims through our minds is the truth. There is an absolutely necessary discrepancy to be made between entertainment and reality. What entertains us can certainly be informed by reality, and perhaps it may alter our reality in some way as a result of our consumption, but in general we must remember to ask questions and take media texts with a grain of salt. Being media literate is going to mean that we are able to detect potential agendas of specific television networks, for example, or understand the stereotypes written in to the dialogue of a film character and question why that is and what that might mean. Media literacy is about being aware! Potter says, "Media literacy is a perspective that we actively use when exposing ourselves to the media in order to interpret the meaning of the messages we encounter" (330). Hopefully being in this class will allow us all to increase our media literacy so that we are constantly alert to the reality that there will always more than meets the eye if we will dare to do some exploring.
Discussion question: Are most of us more active or passive consumers of media texts? It's incredibly easy to zone out to episode after episode of a favorite series on Netflix, for example, so easy that we sometimes end up spending a lot more time in front of the television/computer screen than we originally planned. It's also easy to enjoy a song because it sounds good and it's fun to dance to without realizing that the lyrics, if you paid any attention to them, might actually really offend you. In a society that recognizes passive consumption of media as a form of relaxation, how do we combine an active awareness with our leisure time?
Before I began reading this article, I thought I knew what being media literate was. Although I was familiar with the idea of media literacy, I haven't ever thought of it with all the components as defined by Potter. If anything, my idea of media literacy was the shallow barely literate idea of just knowing surface things about media. The thing that struck me was when Potter discussed the idea of breadth. As a society, I think we value the expertise so much instead of people knowing many different types of things. I agree that it is important to analyze underlying messages and how that gives the media consumer more power to control the messages they receive. The different towers in all arenas of media at different heights resonated with me because sometimes knowing the details about things isn't all important, but also seeing how the different towers relate etc.
DQ: Although there is importance to being media literate, is it okay for people to want to just enjoy media instead of constantly having to analyze their favorite tv show?
I was thinking about the segment from the television program Better Off Ted that we watched in class. Its relation to becoming media literate flew past me at first and I was focused on the dynamics of the show itself. The humor and pace of the show were quick camera shots and a constant stream of jokes. The general make up of this program reminded me a lot of The Office. A big difference between the shows was subtlety. This is important in terms of the type of self-reflexivity the individual programs are experiencing. The Office's humor is subtle and many of the jokes come from slight gestures or glances toward the camera. Better Off Ted was not subtle and it worked with their aims of a media conscious program in the center of a media driven society. Their jokes were pointed and made it clear that you were supposed to think big picture and beyond the program itself. How we might experience certain types of media in our everyday lives casually, they highlight an aspect and make the audience think further about some of the "garbage" media might be feeding us. The program is smart in its direction, but didn't have a large following.
Discussion question: Do you think the lack of success this program experienced had, in large part, to do with its pointed media commentary? Why or why not?
Potter, W James give us a very good insight of today's media, how we think and how we act toward the media. He describes the different levels of knowledge that people have, and tells us not to take for granted what we know about media, because this knowledge makes us think that we understand well all types of media that constantly surround us. I think the important thing about this article is about how we build up our knowledge through media, and how we use this knowledge to decode new media and information. Since everything that we as consumers see and is controlled and have been filtered by the broadcasting companies and radios, so we can only see the information that they want us to see. Therefore, it's important to build a solid knowledge to understand and interpret correctly the information.
Discussion question: I've noticed that ads appear more and more on the internet, especially on YouTube. Ads really annoy some people, but others like them because it generates them a lot of money, and are a good opportunity to get your product displayed. What do you think about all these ads? Would you mind getting more ads on websites such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube?
The article mentions about people's abilities and something more in understanding media message. Media message is just raw materials. To actively understand and communicate with the message, we need abilities to figure out. In this processing, people need to widen their perspectives related to media. Actually I like the metaphor of building. We cannot realize how the earth is big and have various things if we are only in a building surrounded by forest. The view that we can have by standing in front of a window in the building can be a perspective. That is, we need various perspectives to actively accept media messages. Therefore, well-made perspectives are important.
In this point, knowledge is important to build well-made perspectives related to media. For that, information and abilities are important.
Question: Not all information can be useful and beneficial. Like this, does too much knowledge related to media affect negatively? I mean that too much and too various knowledge related to media sometimes can make people feel futility and narrow perspective.
James W. Potter did a wonderful job in explaining what media literacy is in his article. He describes media literacy as "the perspective that we actively use when exposing ourselves to the media in order to interpret the meaning of the messages we encounter " (p. 330). Throughout the article he goes on to explain that media literacy rests on three fundamental ideas. These three ideas are that media literacy is a continuum and not a category, that it is multi-dimensional and that the purpose of media literacy is to give us more control over interpretations. What interested me was the fundamental idea that media literacy is multi-dimensional; that it cognitive, emotional, aesthetic and moral information shape our understanding. Potter goes on to explain that strong knowledge structures contain information from all four of these domains and that having a strong knowledge structure allows you to move the focus of deficiencies off yourself and onto the media message.
I liked the fundamental idea that media literacy is multi-dimensional because of the fact that I feel that I have a strong knowledge structure due to the fact that I have been in situations where the media I am consuming has consumed me. There is a bittersweet feeling I get when a television show influences my emotions and leaves me wanting more, but at the same time I love and admire what was produced. Being able to spot deficiencies in media messages is something that I would rather be able to do than believe everything I see and hear.
Discussion Question: In today's society, children are exposed to media messages more and more. How can we build their knowledge structure and make it stronger sooner? (Cognitive, emotional, aesthetic and moral information) Is a weak knowledge structure in children partially to blame when violence occurs like school shootings/bullying/etc.?
I personally really connected with this idea of multiple perspectives in the world and in Media Literacy. When discussing this idea of knowledge structures or "towers" in order to see the world from multiple angles, views, places and heights, it seems like a common way to view society that will be helpful now, in the future and is something many people need to learn how to do.
Because of this idea, I was able to come up with a question regarding this topic. In my opinion, there are many opinionated and one-track minded people in the world. Do you think there will ever be a society or community that will be able to do apply this concept and truly seek to know and understand all aspects of the world?
I had a good grasp of what it meant to be media literate before I read this excerpt, but I thought this article did a really good job of giving details and providing examples of what being media literate is. I would like to think of myself as operating at a higher level of media literacy, and I always have, even after reading this article. I enjoy experiencing all kinds of media; whether it is movies, television, books, and news. My friends even call me a "movie and television buff" because I watch so much of them. Therefore, I believe I possess all four domains of being media literate; cognitive (facts), emotional (feelings), aesthetic (producing messages), and moral (values) because I do not accept only the surface meaning of things, I determine the meaning and challenge what the media puts in front of me.
Discussion Question: Are there certain examples of television shows or movies that force people to challenge the media's meaning? (Ex. shows on CNN versus Bravo)
I think building strong knowledge structures and becoming more media literate is great. I would like to think I am highly media literate. When watching the news I try to pin point a bias of the network or determine what's actually an important issue/fact. I watch a lot of different types of TV shows and movies and I like to analyze the dialogue and look for subtleties in the camera angles or lighting. I'm not saying everyone is like this, or that I'm an amazingly media literate person. But I'm actively looking into the media to which I am exposed. Personally, I can appreciate the media and its messages, for the most part. If someone is not very media literate, are they really not able to appreciate the media much? And if someone were highly media literate, would they not become more jaded and unable to appreciate media as much? Is there actually some bliss to be found in ignorance?
The reading "What is Media Literacy," did an excellent job in explaining what it means to be media literate. It defines media literacy as "a perspective that we actively use when exposing ourselves to the media in order to interpret the meaning of the messages we encounter" (330). It states that this definition of media literacy resides in three fundamental ideas. These ideas being that media literacy is a continuum and not a category, that media literacy is multi-dimensional, and that the purpose of media literacy is to give us more control over interpretations. The idea that resonated with me the most was that media literacy is a continuum and not a category, because it makes sense that all of us fall somewhere on the media literacy continuum. The text explains that people are positioned along this continuum based on the strength of their overall perspective on the media, and to have a strong perspective is based around a person's skills and experiences.
I liked the idea that media literacy is a continuum and not a category because everyone is media literate in someway or the other. Every person has experienced the media and every person has their own unique set of skills and knowledge in those experiences. Having the term media literacy placed along a continuum makes sense because it is then possible to measure media literacy based on the overall perspective one has on the media. This reading was very helpful in my beginning of truly understanding what the term media literacy is all about.
Discussion Question: Is it actually possible to determine one's overall perspective of the media based on the level of the person's skills and experiences? Does this advocate for a universal perspective on media that we must all try to achieve?
It is hard for me to think of anyone born in my generation (minus young children) to not be highly media literate. Our whole lives are consumed with the media, we cannot escape it, we have no choice but to be exposed to the media and take it all in. When something like media is constant in one's life, it is not difficult to be good at interpreting it. As for older generations, I understand how they are not as media literate as younger people. They were introduced to this in their lifetime and they can remember a good chunk of their lives without media being present. Some of them would just prefer that things remain the way they were than having to change their ways and adjust to new media.
When I think of my own life, my days are consumed by the media, somewhat by choice. I wake up, turn the TV on to watch the news, listen to music or the radio on my way to class, pass the newspapers as I walk into class, pass the news TVs in Murphy Hall, check my phone for Facebook and Twitter updates, and that is just in the first few hours that I am awake. I consider myself highly media literate because I know which information to look for and I have the appropriate skill set to interpret it. However, I know that as the reading says, there is always room for improvement and I could be more media literate.
Discussion question: Can someone be at different levels of media literate depending on the type of media?
At every corner we turn we are flooded with media messaging. Media is a large part of 21st century life, and because of this it is important to be media literate. According to the reading, being media literate means interpreting media messages with our perspective. Our perspective is built from knowledge structures which consist of our skills and information we receive from media. In order to be media literate you need to be aware of the media messages and actively interpret them. The reading also suggests that the more knowledge structures and "perspectives" we have, the greater our media literacy.
The reading explains the three fundamentals ideas of media literacy which are; media literacy is a continuum, multidimensional, and gives more control. I found the third fundamental about control most interesting. This fundamental states that the more media literate you are, the more power you have over media effects and messaging. This is because being media literate you are able to break down messaging to craft your own interpretation.
I found this interesting thinking about young people and their media literacy level. I think most children are not very media literate and do not understand that media is up for interpretation, not just accepting everything word for word from the media. The issue of media literacy in young children has brought up debates about advertising to children and the ethical issues of doing so. I think now it is very important for parents to educate their children about media and help them to become media literate. I also think schools should make more of an effort to educate young students about the media and aid in the interpretation process because of the strong presence of media in children's everyday lives.
Do you think that it is possible for young children to be media literate if they lack experience and knowledge on certain topics? Do you think children today are more naturally media literate than previous generations? Why do you think media literacy is an important skill for young people to have?
This article does a great job of introducing the reader to Media Literacy and describes it as an important skill. I think the most interesting part of this article is where it talks about how being media literate is important in our world where media and technology now play such large roles, especially when it says that being media literate can allow people to "create their own media, becoming active participants in out media culture" (295). I agree that teaching media literacy in important in schools and education, but I think it is more unavoidable than it is a choice because media and technology are both used to teach and learn, they are not just subjects.
I also agree with the part in the article where it says being media literate is important in order for kids to understand things like alcohol, tobacco, food, etc. because media, like television and the internet, is where they hear about and see these products and lifestyles. Especially with all of the issues like obesity and other controversies that are popular right now in American culture (and the world in general), being more informed and educated is important as media takes on a larger role in our culture.
Overall I think this article was very insightful and made a lot of good points about media's role in our society and why learning about media and how we interpret it is so important.
Do you think media literacy is really a choice or effort, or more of a necessity? With technology and media taking over most information outlets and becoming a major way to communicate, can people really afford to be media illiterate. Is it even a possibility to truly be media illiterate since we are processing these messages so often on a daily basis, even if it's in our own way?
This Tuesday's article is a great introduction to media literacy. It lays out all the tools that you can use to analyze and understand different media texts. I thought the intermediate and advanced concepts were great tools to digging deeper than what we already know. I took an Environmental Health class as PSEO back in high school and I remember a unit where we talked about advertising and we analyzed the texts and subtexts in them...so many terms seemed familiar, but it was definitely a good refresher and much of it was new.
What I found most interesting were the persuasion techniques as well as subtexts because I like to think about the different ways ads of many different types try to persuade you to buy or use something. Bribery was also interesting because it talks about promising to give stuff like a discount, coupon, or rebate. I know I like to shop with discounts, but I've always thought in the back of my mind that it's not really a sale and sometimes look at sale prices and know that it's just marked up to make the sale look good. Advertisers know how to get into the public's mind.
When it talked about counter ads I thought it was a good idea, but then I realize it's still creating bias. Now they are mostly good things because they usually are made to counteract a bad or fake message, but then again...what bias is then made? As the article discusses bias is always there. It just doesn't seem to end and is hard to understand the many different messages of ads because of how everyone thinks of everything differently.
Discussion Question: How do you approach your interpretation of ads? Do you use caution and analyze, for example?
The article talks about how the media system is changing in the 21st century because more and more people are realizing how important it is to represent new perspectives. How have you seen change in the portrayal of new perspectives since the mid to late 20th century?
One portion of the Media Literacy reading that stuck out to me was the section about how "Individuals construct their own meaning from media (297)". The section goes on to say that people can create different subtexts for the same piece of media; therefore, all interpretations are valid and respectable (297).
I wasn't so sure if I bought into this concept. I've always been taught, at least with literary texts, that there are multiple interpretations and meaning, but in the end there are right and wrong answers. For poetry especially, we were taught to figure out what the author intends rather than figure out what comes to our minds as an audience. For instance, the article suggests that one of the subtexts for the Got Milk? ad is, "rock stars like ripped jeans (299). While based off of the image, this is a perfectly reasonable assumption, but I'm not sure how respectable it is in terms of interpreting the ad and how it is trying to persuade me. Perhaps other will have more insight into this particular topic.
Tuesday's reading is a detailed introduction and description to media literacy and its role in the world. Media literacy is something that is imperative to one's education in today's day in age. The media is all around us. There is hardly any place where people can go that there is not one media form or another surrounding us. Television, radio, newspapers, magazines, ads, books, billboards, music, internet, the list goes on and on. It is not important merely to understand the meaning of media literacy, but to know how to interpret and analyze the text and subtexts of those media messages. Some things that help me dicipher media messages are who wrote it? what is the message? and what is the medium?
My discussion question would be do you think that schools and other educational institutions nationally and globally will implement media literacy courses starting at a younger age because it is becoming so important/prominent in our society?
Tuesday's reading highlights the tremendous influence of media in today's society. It provides useful tools for deconstructing media messages and emphasizes the importance of media literacy in the development of independent thinking and decision-making skills. For me, the most thought-provoking part of the reading was its distinction between text and subtext. As it explains, the text (what we actually see/hear in a piece of media) is usually the same for all people, while the subtext (our interpretation of a piece of media) can be different for everybody. Sometimes the subtexts that the public draws from a certain piece of media can be SO different that it sparks serious controversy.
This distinction between text and subtext, and the potential controversy that can arise, reminds me of a 2012 Georgia advertising campaign called "Stop Sugarcoating It, Georgia." The campaign, which launched a series of TV commercials and magazine ads, aimed to curb childhood obesity in Georgia. It used child actors that were noticeably overweight, cast them in harsh black-and-white tones, and included captions like "Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid," and "It's hard to be a little girl if you're not." The campaign hoped to shock the Georgia public and make them realize the seriousness of the childhood obesity problem. The text of these ads was likely the same for all viewers: A black-and-white image of an overweight and sad-looking child. A large red WARNING label. The message, "It's hard to be a little girl if you're not." "Stop childhood obesity." An email address, "strong4life.com." And finally, "Brought to you by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta."
Though the text is more or less universal, people interpreted it in extremely different ways (they had extremely different subtexts). The ads caused major controversy. Some people interpreted them positively; they said that these harsh messages were just what Georgia needed to recognize and start to combat the problem of childhood obesity. Their interpretation may be have been, "Childhood obesity is bad, and we should do something to stop it." They thought the ads would initiate positive change. However, others called the ads too harsh and depressing. According to them, the ads only shamed overweight children, lowering their self-esteem and making them LESS likely to adopt healthy habits (because they may be ashamed/embarrassed to exercise while overweight, for example). Their interpretation may have been, "I am overweight, which is a shameful thing. Therefore, I am a shameful person." Critics said these ads were too negative and very counterproductive.
The heated controversy sparked by Georgia's anti-obesity ads illustrates the very important distinction between text and subtext described in Tuesday's reading.
Discussion question: Can you think of any other pieces of media that have sparked controversy in our society? What were the different subtexts people drew from these media?
Berube's article was interesting to me in the way he presented the material through homosexuality and race. Our society creates stereotypes with practically every form of being, which is sad I know, so the stereotypes related to gay men really don't surprise me that much. I have never personally heard of the stereotype "white and well-to-do" relating to gay males, but I can see where that stereotype would have come from. With that being said, I hear of stereotypes all the time but never know where they were originated or how they were originated. This article was enjoyable how Berube tracked down, or tried to, the answer how homosexual males received this stereotype and what he hopes to leave behind with the gay community and the rest of the world who follows this stereotype.
Discussion question: We all can agree that a stereotype is a generalization of people and is morally a wrong thing to do. However, I think that not all stereotypes are necessarily bad or leave negative impact toward the people being described. For instance, I have heard the stereotype of Asian people being ridiculously smart, especially in math. Is this a negative stereotype? I personally wouldn't mind being known for as smart. Similarly, is the stereotype of the "well-to-do" homosexual a negative characteristic? (Again, I know that categorizing people is a wrong thing to do, and I have no intentions of supporting this stereotype. I simply wanted to hear what y'all thought.)
Berube's article proved to evoke some questions that I haven't come across in the past, but have been exposed to throughout the media. Initially in his essay he writes about the images that one conjures up at the mention of specific categories for people. For the gay community, my initial image was similar to what he described; a white male seen as "well to do." This stereotype is constantly at the forefront of the gay community and I never really questioned its presence although I am familiar through my own personal exposure. I appreciated the way the article was written in reference to the subject matter. It all felt extremely personal, like a friend confiding in you in way that is helping them sort out their feelings while you listen attentively. It felt like a fluid stream of thoughts that were strung together to really make a point about his position about the white gay male and what they are supposed, or feel that they are supposed to, make of the situation. Berube explained his position well and didn't push a hard stance on the responsibility these men have for antiracism because he wasn't exactly sure himself. His comment in this type of forum really raises awareness and just puts what is not being said out there into the world. It is just like his story about the first group where he realized that all of the men were white and wanted to comment on it without being misread. Although, as a member of the group stated, the fact of their whiteness went "without saying," it was still important in its recognition much like the theme of the article in its entirety.
Discussion question: Who is the audience for this essay that Berube originally imagined? What audiences will respond most positively (age, gender, sexual identity, etc)?
Berube's article presents a unique and thought provoking viewpoint on how gay men are portrayed in society. By taking the time to analyze and look at various parts of the gay rights movement, Berube draws focus to how race plays an important role in it all. At first, for me, it was hard to understand what he meant by how gay was white. When it comes to homosexuality, my relationship with my uncles and observing their relationship with each other is what I know. I never thought of the different aspects or saw gay as white, but after reading Berube's article I could understand how the typical "gay man" is seen as a well-off, white male.
I found many aspects of the article interesting, especially the story he mentioned of the picket line of people protesting the triple-carding of gay men of color at the door of the gay disco bar in San Francisco. The similarities Berube draws between sexual segregation and the civil rights movement are thought provoking. In all honesty, the article left me feeling ignorant about the gay rights movement.
Discussion Question: Who is responsible for changing the stereotype of the typical "gay man"??
Allan Bérubé's article examines the fabricated construction of the middle to upper class, gay white male as the predominant figure misrepresenting the true makeup of the GLBT community. As a gay man who easily fits into the confining restraints of this propagated stereotype, I commend Bérubé for refusing to accept this extremely limiting image and daring to explore and question agendas and power structures throughout race, class, gender, and sexual orientation in order to better understand the origins of this myth. How did gayness become concurrent with whiteness? In his research, Bérubé aimed to, "know how gay gets white, how it stays this way, and how whiteness is used to both win and attack gay rights campaigns" (255). I am especially interested in Bérubé's proposition of the power of a "pale protective coloring" (256) and its ability to allow gay rights activists to speak to opposing parties within society from a perspective that it can ALMOST understand. I think this observation is absolutely crucial to uncovering why this false image of what gayness looks like has been perpetuated. Bérubé explains that many gay organizations and media began promoting the image of the white well to do male in an effort to gain "recognition and credibility" for the gay community (254). This is curious. The strategy here was to make the gay community mirror the very same patriarchal structure and racial hierarchy existing rampantly outside of it. The example of the military ban on gays poignantly demonstrates the drawbacks of pursuing such a choice. Activitsts tried to compare banning gays in the military to the similar discrimination towards African Americans, and failed. Bérubé mentions that perhaps if gay rights advocates who were also people of color had acted as witnesses in the case, the ban may have been lifted. Without it, the court was still blindly seeing gayness as whiteness and people of color, particularly African Americans, as anti-gay. White gay rights activists must educate themselves on the details of the gay experience within communities of color in order for the face of the gay community to have any fluidity. I would love to create a project/write a paper brainstorming different ways that gay rights advocacy can gain and maintain a stronger presence of participants of color. I fully enjoyed this article.
Discussion question: Do we think that the prevalence of the perpetuated stereotype of what a typical gay person looks like/where they land in society makes it easier or even easiest for white males to come out as homosexual in comparison to female/trans/racial minority counterparts? Why might this be? If other races, classes, and genders do not see themselves represented in gay rights advocacy and media, might it be more difficult to claim a GLBT identity?
I found what Allan Berube presented was very insightful and interesting. I was unaware of the stereotype of "white and well-to-do." I never thought there was specific race and class associated with the gay stereotype. I enjoyed how he told us about how he went about tracking down the answer to how gays received a stereotype. I particularly enjoyed the "staying white" section as he takes us through what he hopes to leave behind and accomplish or inspire others to accomplish. Overall I thought the article really inspired me to think harder and look closer at a topic that I have paid little attention too.
With over 10,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, we live in a time where if the wrong person obtains power a lot of people can die and suffer because of that. What I'm getting at is going forward how likely do you think it is that we will see a nuclear war and how catastrophic you think it would be?
The article "How Gay Stays White and What Kind of White It Stays" written by Allan Berube was a very good and interesting read to me. I am not very familiar with the GLBT community except for the messages that I receive through the media (Television, Internet, etc.) and school. My ignorance was brought out by the stereotypes in which Berube mentions, that "in the United States today, the dominant image of the typical gay man is a white man who is financially better off than most everyone else". I think of the shows "Desperate Housewives" or "Modern Family" and how the gay couples fit this steretype perfectly. They live in a nice, suburban neighborhood, are pretty well-off, end up adopting a sweet lovely child, and of course, they are white. To my understanding, this is proabably the biggest reason why many people associate "gay man" with "whiteness" because it is all that is given to us.
If we go to the section in the article where Berube writes about Sgt. Perry Watkins, his very open homosexuality, being African American, and in the army, we can see why there is not much more defintion to the category "gay man". He was not called upon as a witness for the Campaign for Military Service, even though he was an open gay and in the army! Was it because the group thought he would hurt their cause to repeal the laws allowing homosexuals to serve in the army more than he would help them?
Some questions I have are why are minorities represented very little/not at all in the GLBT community? Are they much different from the "gay white man"? Or are their sufferings through discrimination creates that large of a gap in their experiences?
Although I found the article, written by Berube, to be very interesting and filled with good points, I felt it was somewhat repetitive and brought up the same points often. Perhaps he could summed up his information into less points yet more valuable or explored other topics along the lines of race and sexuality. I do however think this is an interesting point to address, race and sexuality. It seems as though it has come about in only the last ten years where it is more common to talk about people's sexuality. With that, Berube has decided to take one stop further and explore the various trends among races of homosexuals, specifically males.
It was surprising to read the part about Berube not feeling comfortable to speak out in regards to something he felt strongly about, when he was wondering why all the men in his HIV-Negative group happened to be white. I feel like I, myself, and many other people have felt this way if not once in their lives but many times. Although my situation was different, there have been times where I needed to speak up about something that was bothering me or that I was wondering and I did not. It was nice to relate to Berube in that part of the story.
It was interesting to read the various discriminatory acts that homosexuals have had to overcome and are still overcoming today from the perspective of a homosexual man such as the dance club in San Francisco or being enrolled in the army. As noted in the reading, I think one day we will look back and think of gay rights how we used to think of African-American rights, ridiculous to deprive them. However, it seems that from the article, African-Americans are still dealing with both forms of discrimination in some places.
I was very intrigued by this reading written by Berube. It seems to be a common stereotype and assumption that is made in America, but nobody really realize they do it. I found it very interesting how society has turned towards this stereotype of white gay men who are typically well off. Personally, I was intrigued by the stories about interracial bars and how this was seen as a way of decreasing the status and reputation of a bar. This article stated that white managers were much more discriminating of other races attending these "generically gay" bars. When I think about gay rights and movements, it does not even occur to me that race can be another discriminatory factor among the gay community. One quote that really stuck with me was, "In this zero-sum, racialized world of the religious right, gay men are white; gay, lesbian and bisexual people of color, along with poor or working-class white gay men, bisexuals, and lesbians, simply do not exist" (238). This opinionated statement is so stereotypical, without even noticing it. In my opinion, this is one of America's biggest problems today.
Discussion Question: Do you feel there is still a problem with gay bars and interracial attendance at these bars as this article stated regarding lowered status and income when it becomes "racialized"?
I found Berube's article very interesting and thought provoking. Everyone has their own stereotypes and while they can be hard to address, ultimately it can be very beneficial to discover why they exist. After reading Berube description of the gay stereotype as a white male, I immediately agreed that this is the stereotype.
I thought it was very interesting how early on in the gay rights movement, people primarily only used gay white men to represent their cause. As Berube states, this was likely because they wanted to gain support of upper middle class white men. I agree with Berube and think they also primarily used gay white men to not "frighten" people with the unfamiliar, and try to create a gay image that is very "normal" (ie: wealthy and educated) and more familiar.
I also think that the television and movie industries have added to the gay white stereotype. In popular television if there is a gay person on a show it is usually a white male who is very into fashion and wealthy, like on Sex and The City. While I think the media is trying to increase the representation of gay people in the media, I think they need to show a more diverse gay population to better represent society and fight this stereotype.
In what ways do you think Hollywood television and movies have added to the gay white stereotype and how has this affected the gay movement?
Berube's article is a very thought provoking article that looks at many different aspects of the gay rights movement and the importance race has on it. He mentions that the typical "gay man" is seen as a well-off, white male. I had not really thought of this before, but when I took a moment to think about the "gay man," a white male does come to mind...mostly because the gay men that I know are white. But it got me to think about the importance of race and how we don't see many gay men of color at higher levels in our societal and political realms.
Berube brings up the similarities that are often seen between sexual segregation and that of the civil rights movement. From what he writes about it seems to be that gays that are in powerful positions and that affect the gay rights campaign stay white because "parallels between racist and antigay bigotry and discrimination" are drawn (p. 244). He argues that if the gay rights movement is currently part of the "ongoing struggle for the dignity of all people" that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of then there shouldn't be racial segregation within the movement and the homosexual man shouldn't automatically be seen as white (p.246). This stood out to me and I believe he makes a strong argument there that speaks volumes there.
Something that I found interesting is that he didn't seem to touch on the idea of gay minorities having more than one hurdle to accomplish before they can become a prominent figure in the gay rights movement. He seems to push the idea of including colored men in predominantly white groups, institutions, the movement, etc. which makes sense, but fails to realize the hurdles and discrimination they face as, colored and gay, men. Interracial couples still face adversity from society, but just imagine the adversity they would most likely get if they were an interracial, gay couple. It's easy for a white male gay man to join a support group such as the HIV-negative gay men group. He does touch a little bit on those struggles when he agrees it's too late to do an outreach to colored men because it is after the fact of them having already started the group and it being all white males. All in all, this article really made me think about how gay men are portrayed today and not much has changed since this article. Much of what we see today is similar to what he is describing. Many, if not all, powerful figures who have come out are white. It's interesting to see how little this issue that Berube brings up is progressing.
Discussion Question: Berube emphasizes the importance of changing the classical portrayal of acceptable homosexual people, but fails to recognize the implications that different cultural and racial backgrounds have on homosexual individual willingness to participate in the gay rights movement. Do you think different cultures address homosexuality differently? And what affect does this have on these homosexual individual's participation in the gay rights movement?
Allan Berube's article presents an unique controversy into how gay men are portrayed in society. He gives insight of the increasing stereotype in the social category "gay man" is categorized as "white and well to do." While reading the article I asked myself the question, "how do I imagine the stereotypical figure associated with the image of a gay man?", and my response didn't include well to do but it definitely included white. Before reading this article I discovered that I previously had no idea there was gay discrimination between races, and that such things like gay whitening practices existed. I found Berube's story about him witnessing gay whitening practices through racial exclusion at a gay disco bar rather outrageous. I was just so unaware of such a thing before reading the article, and his example was like modern day racial segregation. The gay community wants to be viewed as white and is making the effort to block out homosexuals that aren't.
After reading the article I felt ignorant for imagining the stereotypical figure of a gay man as white. The civil rights movement was supposed to teach us how to view everyone as equal, and I liked the quote from Dr. Marjorie Hill on page 245. "Martin Luther King is the Martin Luther King of the gay community. There is no need for another Martin Luther King because his message for equality was for everyone, and that the use of the race analogy further advocates for whiteness of gay political campaigns.
Discussion Question: Is the gay community responsible for stopping the increasing stereotype for the image of a gay man, or should society as a whole take action in stopping gay whitening practices?
I found it surprising that there were a lot of prejudices even within the gay culture. I understand that during the Civil Rights Era, racism was intense. I suppose I figured that gays would have tried to be more unified, being a minority group that was, and still is, a target of the ignorant. The disconnect between white gays and gays of color seems so counterproductive, to say the least. The gay clubs that were trying to limit the entrance of colored gays was pretty surprising. I feel that an oppressed community that still practiced oppression within its own community just because some of its members are more privileged than the others just hindered a lot of progress.
Discussion Question: Do you think oppression within the gay community affected gay rights today? Would there have been equal rights for the gay community today, or even earlier, had there been a more unified gay community years ago, or would it have remained how it is today (some progress but still miles to go)?
I found the introduction very captivating because it sets the tone and emphasis of the article by giving a broader view of stereotypes that everyone can relate too. He talks about how we need to picture what we think of when hearing different social categories. For example, if you were told to think of an immigrant worker, I'm sure most people would picture an illegal male Latino; just like most people would picture a "white and well-to-do" male when asked for their picture of someone who is gay, which is the stereotype that this article is based around.
I watch quite a bit of television and how gay men are portrayed has not escaped me. According to mainstream media, gay men are portrayed exactly the way Berube describes; "white and well-to-do". I used to love the show "Brothers and Sisters", and one of the characters is a successful, powerful, rich lawyer... who happens to be gay. I also watched "Sex and the City" when it was on television and there are plenty of gay men in that show, all who seem to be well off and white. On the show "The New Normal", there are two characters who are gay men... who are both white... and well off. The list can go on and on. The only show that I know of that has depicted a black gay man is "True Blood", and since that is a newer show, hopefully it is the beginning of expanding the portrayal of gay men.
Discussion Question: As made very clear in the article, gay men are mostly portrayed as "white and well-to-do", especially on television. Can you list any television shows or characters that portray gay men as any other race besides white?
Bérubé's article is strong in both passion and controversy. He begins by discussing how his own students often viewed or described their perceptions of gay men as "white and well-to-do". This seemingly general and simple answer is troubling, and while it may boost the perception or status of a white homosexual male, it creates a whole new separation and power struggle for those who do not fit the mold both within and outside the gay community. One phrase Bérubé used multiple times in his article is "race analogies" which describe the comparison of sexual segregation and judgment to that which occurs within races. I found this point interesting, and maybe it is just because I seem to look at this through a wider scope and do not have one successful, Caucasian image that represents homosexuality as a whole to me, because as something I never considered an issue, it seems controversial and detrimental to both relations with and within the gay community.
By maintaining this image of the wealthy white man as a representation of homosexual men, it further excludes people of color who do not fit this mold. This separates them not only from other gay individuals, but also from those who have this set image of what a gay man is or should be. This article really demonstrates how the issue of how gays are perceived stems far beyond their sexual preferences and has actually invaded the community itself. And Bérube does a great job of demonstrating why this general image is not good or representative of gay men as a group, he does explain some points I found very interesting about how this image works as an effort to mainstream the idea of gay men. One sentence that intrigued me in the article was when Bérubé mentioned, "the selling of white as gay to raise money, make profit, and gain economic power". I didn't realize the idea of gay men as white, successful men was commodified in an effort to gain power or priviledge, but Bérubé point out that it not only occurs, but actually strengthens "gayness" when being gay is viewed as the white man. The issue with this is that this power only strengthens the white gay image and is detrimental to homosexuals of other races or categories because the effort is then put into maintaining this mainstream, generalized image.
I found this entire article interesting and it provided me with a new perspective on how race plays a larger role in sexuality than I realized. I didn't realize this simple perception really existed or was maintained in the way it is and I can see why it is such a problem. However, I do recognize this article was written over ten years ago and wonder if me being a young adult now explains why I do not have this same image as I was only eight years old when Bérubé wrote this. I feel media itself has diversified and along with that so has the representation of ideas and communities.
I see this article was written in 2001, do you think over ten years later the representation of being gay simply as a white, successful male is as common or set in stone as Bérubé describes it in his article at the time? Has the view of the gay community diversified in your eyes or is there still one image in society (politics, media, etc.) that tends to represent a stereotype of what it means to be gay? Do you think the integration of more homosexual characters and actors, both male and female, into television and film has helped to alter or further reinforce these stereotypes?
Lisa Kaholeol Hall said that "privilege is the ability not to have to pay attention", or "the ability not to have to take other people's existence seriously." I thought that was really thoughtful and well defined because it is not how I would define having privileges or being privileged, but that's how I would perceive it. It is I think difficult to recognize all we have or possess when many people around us "seem" to possess the same things, or enjoy the same privileges. I thought that the definition is very thoughtful because it does not only apply to material privileges, but also to things like races, and sexuality, that we take for granted. Thus, being white may then not seem to be a privilege for a white person, but a person of color may perceive a white person as being privileged, and maybe at some point or under some circumstances, a person of color can see himself/herself as under-privileged.
Berube's article discusses the common misconception that all gay men are "white and well-to-do" (234). He says the gay rights campaign has played a role in the creation and perpetuation of this stereotype, using white men as their public figures and obscuring the true multiracial nature of the homosexual population. When I read the article, I'm surprised at how little things have changed since it was written. Berube (and likely other scholars as well) published his concerns over a decade ago, and yet the "gay equals white" misconception still thrives today. Some may say, "Well, a decade is not long enough to achieve such a major shift in collective attitude," which is probably true. But in my opinion, our society is actually moving in the opposite direction. There are various media texts that perpetuate, still in 2013, the myth of gay whiteness. For example, the new comedy television show "The New Normal" tells the story of two gay men with a baby. Both men are white. Both are successful. The show's title means to imply that gayness is normal in today's society, an admirable message indeed. However, because of its choice of cast, the show spreads the idea that white gayness is normal. Wealthy gayness is normal. It perpetuates the very misconception that Berube said (over a decade ago!) was so dangerous. The comedy "Will and Grace" posed the same problem, including in its cast two gay men, both white and successful. That show ended in 2006. Seven years later, we continue to exacerbate the problem, further deepening the conceptual divide between "gay" and "nonwhite."
Discussion Question: Can you think of any other media texts that prove/disprove Berube's ideas about gay whiteness?
Allan Berube's article presents particularly interesting perspectives into how gay men have been increasingly portrayed as white and well-to-do. A section of the article that I found particularly poignant was the section about the 1993 Senate hearing about gays in the military. I found it interesting in how the CMS likened the ban of homosexuals in the military to similar racial bans of African Americans.
After reading this, I drew a parallel between this argument and the arguments made during the Vote No campaign last fall. Those who supported Vote No made the argument that homosexuals not being allowed to marry is similar to the discrimination of African Americans, Latinos, and Asians during the mid-20th century. The ad campaigns supporting Vote No likewise relied on white, middle-class actors to portray "normal" families. Overall, I was interested by how Berube's observations seem to still ring true today in the gay rights movement.
No athletic sport in America is more "masculine" than American football, and there have been no openly gay football players that have come out while still playing professionally. How do you think this may change in the future as cultural views of homosexuals begin to shift?
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