Day Sixteen: March 9


Please remember to check the due date list for the assignments that are due the week after break.

Making the Normal Strange...

Here's a passage from the Codes of Gender film that I think fits with our class and our earlier discussions about being cultural critics and critical thinkers:

And this may be Goffman's most lasting contribution - to help us question what we're told is normal or natural, when it may just as well be destructive or unjust. While these representations may look normal - in that they don't look strange to us - we have to remember that they communicate powerful ideas surrounding femininity and masculinity. And while the gender displays have been around for some time, the fact is that they have been chosen for prominence. And this means that the ideas they communicate come from someone's imagination. Images do not fall from heaven fully formed. They are the creations of human beings. People are behind the cameras giving instructions. There is no such thing as a neutral or natural image. As one ad very tellingly states: "Our fantasies, your realities."

All images are authored by someone, and it is up to us whether we choose to participate passively in the worlds that are created for us by meekly accepting the ideas behind them, and reinforcing them through our silence, or whether we choose to engage the world actively by recognizing what is happening and not reinforce it - question it, point out how strange normality can actually be. It's only when you make something strange and unacceptable that you have any chance of changing it, any chance of intervening into that social process. And that was the main point of Goffman's analysis - to make what was invisible visible, so that we have a choice to make about how we want to participate in the worlds we inhabit.

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