The teenager seems to have replaced the Communist as the appropriate target for public controversy and foreboding. ~Edgar Friedenberg, The Vanishing Adolescent

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I believe what Tolman is trying to do is show how society perpetuates the objectification of female bodies and how this has an effect on how woman view themselves and there own sexual desires. She interviews a 16 yr old named Isabelle who is struggling with understanding her sexuality. Society dictates that Isabelle should be a "good girl" and therefore asexual. Isabelle worries that she will never have feelings of desire. Tolman discusses how society dictates that men are the sexual beings and woman trade sex for romance. Tolman also describes how society has created women who objectify their own bodies. Isabelle when describing feeling sexy speaks about how she looks not how her body feels. " And I feel absolutely like I love myself and like everybody that I’m walking past is staring at me, and that this guy that I’m with is like 'wow I have the best of everything, cause she's really smart and she's really beautiful." Isabelle frequently refers to her body by how it is possibly seen by others (or how she would like it to be viewed by others) and not by how she feels. She struggles with trying to be "the best being" while still feeling violated by the objectification of her body by others (males). I am currently reading the book, Enlightened Sexism by Susan Douglas, in her book she discusses how the popular culture created for this generation is a backlash to the feminist movement. Douglas writes about how people view the feminist movement as completed and therefore it is now "ok" to laugh off the sexual objectification of woman. Many of the TV shows for young woman today show the objectification of woman as ok, and girls are encouraged to use this “power" to get what they want, without realizing the consequences of their actions. Tolman describes how many of the girls she interviewed follow a "romance narrative," " in which a girl, who is on a quest for love, does not feel sexual desire -- strong, embodied, passionate feelings of sexual wanting. In this story, sexual desire is male." these females use their bodies as sexual objects to get the loving relationship they crave from men, without ever attempting to uncover their own sexual desires.

What I found to be interesting was the lack of female masturbation among the young females. Males at the same age are often encouraged to masturbate and "get to know themselves" sexually. This is the exact opposite for females. Females are expected not to actually "want" sex or sexual feelings and therefore would have no reason to touch themselves. Sex, at least from the "normal" female perspective is not about the desire or the orgasm but is in fact about the relationship or bond that is formed when having sex. The media encourages young boys exploration of their sexual desire, this can be seen in many TV shows and movies, like American Pie and Weeds. In Weeds the youngest son, who is just going through puberty is given pointers on how to use household materials to "hone is craft." In American Pie male masturbation is made humorous and normalized as a "boy thing." Females do not have the same privilege to see such displays of sexual desire represented in the media. Girls instead are "educated" on the use of sex to form a loving bond or relationship. Therefore girls view sex as a necessity to creating the loving bond, not a way to explore their own sexual wants and desires. The need for masturbation by females is then not necessary because there sexual desires are not a concern.

Monday, April 12, 2010

the new phatic culture

In the reading New Media, Networking and Phatic Culture, Vincent Miller discusses the role social networking sites play in our society and the consequences these may have or are having on our culture. Phatic communication is described as "a term used to describe a communicative gesture that does not inform or exchange any meaningful information or facts about the world. Its purpose is a social one, to express sociability and maintain connections or bonds." Miller describes how blogging, social networking sites, and micro blogging are related to our idea of individualism. He believes because people are less connected by traditions, places, and history, we as people feel the need to create social bonds which are open-ended. Blogs, social networking sites, and micro blogs allow people to actively create their own "biography" and create social bonds based on self-disclosure and trust. "One aspect which is particularly important here is the assertion that self-disclosure becomes increasingly important as a means to gain trust and achieve authentic (but contingent) relationships with others. Giddens argues that late modern subjects gravitate towards relationships which engender trust through constant communication and reflexive practice." This practice of creating a biography can also be seen in other media forms, like television in reality TV shows where people sit down to watch the life of another and create bonds with the character over their daily life scenarios. Blogging too allows a person to tell their story to others and create bonds over trust, which can be seen through comments on the blogs. Text messaging has also become a way for people to stay in constant communication with each other. This communication is done not to attain substantive information, but to create the social bond. " Network sociality is an instrumental or commodified form of social bonding based on the continual construction and reconstruction of personal networks or contacts."

The information retrieved from these social networking sites like facebook, myspace, or twitter, is not telling a story but instead is a list with every item which all have the same significance. This is displayed in the news feed on facebook where users update their status giving up to date information on their location, and activities. "One can see this type of communicative practice as largely motivated less by having something in particular to say (i.e. communicating some kind of information), as it is by the obligation or encouragement to say ‘something’ to maintain connections or audiences, to let one’s network know that one is still ‘there." The concern with this type of communication is not the information presented but the process of creating trusting bonds with others.

Miller argues that this type of communication flattens are social bonds with one another by creating lists where everything has equal significance. Everything from having a baby to taking a shower is listed on the facebook homepage each with the same importance placed on the event. Friend’s lists also do this by listing someone’s close friends along with people the person sometimes doesn’t even know. This communication shows a shift from human centered relations to object centered relations, where objects like cell phones, blogs, and social networking sites, are used to keep in touch and create bonds without the need for face-to-face interaction. Licoppe and Smoreda argue that, "a new sociability pattern of the constantly contactable, one which blurs presence and absence, has resulted in relationships becoming webs of quasi-continuous exchanges." Object centered relations requires people to be in constant contact with one another, saying something, not because they would like to exchange information, but instead saying something to stay "present." "It is the connection to the other that becomes significant, and the exchange of words becomes superfluous."

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fast Foward

The preface for fast forward gave the reader a quick glance of the work put into creating Fast Forward by Lauren Greenfield, this book is a look at the lives of teenagers growing up in L.A. and how the media, Hollywood in particular, creates a demand for children to mature earlier.

I found her work to be very interesting and it gave me a better idea of what to look for when taking my own photos. I’ve decided to take most of my photos tomorrow while shopping and exploring in Boston, Ma. Boston is a city full of diversity, life, and tradition. I am hoping that like Lauren Greenfield I can find interesting subjects who will let me take a snapshot of their lives for this project. Until I take my photos I do not know exactly what story I will be looking to tell. Greenfield tells the story of lost (or stolen) youth in the city of dreams. How the youth is trying to grow up and take on the world and how their need to grow up intertwines with their need to "be cool" and fit the mold presented by the media of what a teenager should be. Many of Lauren Greenfield’s subjects talk about being a "baller" or at least portraying one. One of her subjects saved his money for two years just to show up in a limo at prom saying, "I spent close to 600 dollars. I worked hard to get the money so that prom would be at least halfway decent for me; we are a very low- income family. It took me about two years to raise that much for prom." Why is it that living the life has become buying the life? Our society today is to wrapped up in consuming to become another person, a better person, a cooler person, that they don’t realize that someone is looking at them and trying to be like them, just like they look at another and try to copy the lifestyle modeled for them. Our society is to busy buying our identities that we don’t realize that we already have an identity without having to spend money to purchase it. We are all born with our own unique personality, but like Greenfield explains, it is often not seen as cool enough. To be cool is to have money, beauty, and power. Xavier a 17 yr old subject of Greenfield’s explained I don’t know what is cooler, to drive the fifty- thousand- dollar car or to act like your unfazed by the person who drives it-- to act like it doesn’t affect you."

I believe that Greenfield would agree with Raby's pleasurable consumption discourse. Greenfields work looks closely at how consumption has become the main way to portray the individual. Greenfield worked with one subject who was undergoing a rhinoplasty. The female described how she felt like she was not good enough before and was insecure about her nose. After the rhinoplasty she felt more comfortable meeting new people and presenting her new self. The "self" is what's inside and is not our outer appearance. By shifting the target audience to adolescence the media has created a market for buying a better you. People no longer know how to express themselves without purchasing a product to do so.

Monday, March 8, 2010

this is unanalyzed raw thought about Glee

this is unanalyzed raw thought... i will edit this and add more insight tom. morning. for now i must sleep!
goodnight and for my followers sorry to keep you waiting!

who plays the lead?
high schoolers of the Glee Club
Who plays the baffoon?
the jock
Who plays the servant?

I encourage them to look at the race, station in life, body type of each character.
Rachel Berry- strong character. jewish. comes from same sex interracial family.
Finn Hudson- white. quarterback with the beautiful voice
Kurt Hummel- white. feminized gay kid or transgendered?
Mercedes Jones- strong african american female
Artie Abrams- disabled student who is bullied by the jocks and play guitar
Tina Cohen-Chang- Asian. bisexual? rebel female
Quinn Fabray- white blond hair. head cheerleader and president of the celibacy club

What motivates the character?
Rachel- rachel is drivin by her love for "theater" and her fathers' need for perfection.
Finn- forced into the Glee club to stay out of trouble. Coach, and friends expect him to be the quarter back, but his love for music inspires him to stay in defend the Glee club and it's members. stands up against the unjust class system seen as normal in the high school setting.
What do they want out of life?
What’s their mission?
If there are people of color (in the cartoon), what do they look like? (also added in disabled to this category)
tina displayed as quite, yet americanized my the society around her. she seems very confused about her sexuality and seems to be trying to rebel against her traditional background.
Mercedes- represented as a strong black women who will not be left behind. represents a sterotype of black women that must be loud to be heard.
Artie- the disabled student is often pushed around and seen as second class in the school environment. a jolke was made about him being the lead in a song during the rehearsals, which he laughed along with, progressing the idea of disabled people as second class citizens.
How does the film portray overweight people?
the cheerleading instructor often makes comments about girls weight and their inability to keep up and compete within the cheerios group.
What about women other than the main character?
many women are teachers (but it is a school). there is a female gym teacher (the cheerleading coach)

What jobs do you see them doing?

What do they talk about?
being skinny and popular
giving relationship advice
assisting males

What are their main concerns?
cheerleaders being skinny
getting the man
becoming popular
being accepted for who you are
finding fame by following your heart and your dreams

What roles do money, possessions, and power play in the film?
power is in the hands of the teachers who are suppose to model appropriate behaviors but admit they have no clue either.
power is in the hands of the popular kids who bully students who are different then themselves.
teachers reinforce the idea that these class systems within the school can not change and should be left alone.

What has it?
****popular kids and teachers (go into more detail about the idea of the class system as displayed in high school. are we pre-destine to be popular or a jock? can your personality change how you are viewed by the reining class?)
Who wants it?
other students in the school want the power to do what they want and be accepted for their differences.
Rachel wants power to fulfill her dream and more importantly the dreams of her fathers to create the perfect child.

How important is it to the story?
the idea of power is very important to the story. we see it in the lead teachers problems with his wife and their finances. it pops p again with the female teacher who is constantly trying to whoo the male teacher (a need for control and ownership). we see it most particularly in the class system of the high school, which even teachers say over and over again should not be messed with. the power is handed to the jocks and the popular kids. they dictate what is cool, what isn't cool, and who is and isn't cool. the male teacher struggles with how to get the popular kids on his side in order to influence the rest of the student body. he mentioned if he had a few popular kids that were in or accepted the glee club other students would follow and participate. in this way the "cool" kids have power over the teachers too.
What would children learn about what’s important in society?”
high school is a class system that bases importance, rank, and power on what a person looks like, and what extra curricular activities one participates in.
football stars date the head cheerleader, "normal" girls aren't given a chance

Monday, March 1, 2010

hip hop is colonizing america

Things I Do Know:

These two readings were so packed full of knowledge and scholarly vocabulary that it took me a second to find the meaning of the text, but I think I have.

Professor Ball argues that the media is designed to brainwash the masses, making them turn a blind eye to racism, sexism, ageism, and all the other isms that society places upon us from birth. Maybe turn a blind eye is the wrong term because as Ball argues we are so desensitized to seeing these ism projected on us by the media that we don’t even notice they are happening right in front of our faces.

Hip-hop is a great example of how the media creates a false image that "colonizes" a certain group of individuals in society. The music industry sells a lifestyle to its consumers, one of bling, nice cars, hard lives, and violence, but not all raps meets this criterion, and neither does the real image of the hood- life. The music industry makes these raps marketable by adding big names, product placement, and lyrical lines full of false stereotypes. These raps are sold to the consumer and present an image of the hoods and ghetto lifestyle as something normal. These raps also project a false image of the black community in America; an image that presents blacks as violent people by nature, uneducated, unemployed and people that deserve to be living below poverty level. These images are not only projected on the white society about the black community, but also upon the black community themselves. These false images "label" this group of individuals and these labels become self-fulfilling prophecies for most.

The lifestyle presented by hip-hop artists is not the average life of an African- American living in the ghetto. With more and more artists rising to power and fortune you would suspect to see a change in the dynamics and statistics about the black community, but that is not the case. Ball argues that the media uses the hoods and ghettos as a colony, using the community for cheap labor and entertainment. The images presented in the raps may help one black man or woman rise to fame, but in turn subjects the rest of the black community to be stereotyped and oppressed by the images these few represent.

Things I Did Not Understand:

"Continued references to Frantz Fanon, too often made with no equal reference or focus on what prompted his brilliant analyses, ignore the fundamental colonizing process still underway."

I wish I knew more about Frantz Fanon and what his book toward the African revolution has to say about how media plays a role colonizing and oppressing the black community.

Monday, February 22, 2010

"We should not forget that interactive media are based on a computer, which is not a human being. We can write emails to friends, buy online without entering a store, chat with unknown people, maybe fall in love with unknown people all without moving from our chair. We can even forget about the outer world, the real one. All this, though, is very different from a real chat with a friend, a day of shopping, and a first date. This is, as far as I am concerned, the biggest risk about the spread of interactive media: losing contact with the world around us. We must not forget that a computer will never be able to replace personal relationships. After all, we all need to interact with real people and places. The emotion that derives from facing such masterpieces as La Gioconda could never be replaced by the most detailed virtual tour of the Louvre. In the same way, a real hug or smile will always transmit emotions that are impossible to feel through an apathetic computer screen. (Sophia)"

Whether we like the Internet or not its here to stay. In the article coming of age with the media the authors explores how the Internet is woven into our daily lives using documentation from 72 college students to support the findings. From the information presented in this article I have come to understand that the Internet is a form of communication where knowledge is readily available and social interactions are easily made. Our society is dependent on the Internet and is only becoming more and more dependent as time moves on. There is no way around the Internet craze it has become interwoven into the everyday lives of the people of our society.

The study describes four key aspects of our lives in which the internet and other related media have come to change the way we live and perceive our world. The four domains the article focuses on are; self, family, real communities (I would like to change the domain name to outside communities because as the article describes to many people their is no difference between their real world and their virtual world because they are so tightly entwined), and virtual communities.

SELF: the Internet has changed the way we see ourselves and the ways in which we services and "pamper" ourselves in the current day. The article talks briefly about how the Internet has become a place to shop and lavish oneself, often without noticing the ramifications of the spending. There is no need to interact with people anymore, and this can be seen as both a positive and a negative thing, depending on the individual. For people who often have trouble with social anxiety the Internet is a great way to get needed materials without the awkward feelings and panic attacks, but others see it as a way to socially isolate oneself from the rest of the society.

Social awkwardness was also mentioned in the article when discussing how people express themselves and who they are through the Internet media. Often people who are shy or socially awkward face to face have a lot easier time communicating online. By typing the person has time to formulate a thought and get it down on "paper" the way they want before sending it, that person can also review what the person has said previously and refer back to it when needed. People often become outgoing when speaking online and can feel comfortable expressing who they are. With so many users online people are now finding it easier to connect with people they find similar to themselves. Although the Internet has enabled these people to feel more comfortable with them, there are negative aspects to online communication. People often find it easier to lie about their height, age, and sex online along with other things and it is harder to distinguish between truth and a lie from behind a computer monitor.

FAMILY: the Internet can have both positive and negative effects on the family structure. I will start with the positive, which is the access to a convenient and cheap form of communication called email or instant messenger (and in our case Skype). This easy form of communication can keep a whole family updated on the status of each member of the family, from any distance. This was mentioned as very important in the interviews with college students done in the article. The negative effect on the family is the "freeness" of the Internet. The Internet allows you to virtually have everything at your fingertips, and often times everything is too much. The article referenced children’s easy access to free porn as a negative affect on the family. The article did not mention, however, the effect that Internet and other interactive media have on face-to-face interactions among family members. This is more of a concern now with new cell phone technologies making it possible to be in communication with people at all times. I would have liked to see more information about the effects of other interactive media on the family, particularly the way that teenagers communicate with other people in their household.

OUTSIDE COMMUNITY: the Internet affects the way we see the world around us. The way we interact with the world and other people on it has dramatically changed since the Internet was mainstreamed in 1993. The expression "what a small world" seems to have a whole different meaning since the invention of the Internet. People from all around the world have easy access to information about anywhere in the world; news, weather, fashion, and travel information is easily accessed with a tap of a finger. Schools are changing the way they perceive technology and the way they utilize it in the schools. Children are no longer expected to memorize needless facts but instead are expected to use the Internet. Research strategies have now also changed and the Internet is now a valid resource tool. Libraries have also begun to use the Internet instead of card catalogs for easier convenience.

VIRTUAL COMMUNITY: the virtual community has come about since the invention of the Internet. This includes chat rooms, Instant Messaging, and social networking sites (like facebook, MySpace, and twitter). These enable people to create their own worlds and identities online. Today most peoples virtual lives are so entwined with their outside life that they cant decipher between them (definitely now with text messaging and surfing the internet available right on our phones).

things i dont understand: the coding method mentioned in the first few pages was very confusing and sent me spinning in virtual circles.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Girls Negotiating Adolescence

"Adolescents become as an entire social group that cannot effectively know themselves, whose legitimate grievances may therefore be silenced, and who need protection from their own instability. This position in turn legitimates attempts to govern and/or contain this stage of life that is perceived to be ungovernable."

The reading by Rebecca Raby took me a while to untangle and process, but I think I have a grasp on what she is trying to say. She introduces the five discourses that inter-tangle creating a web that traps teenagers, and segregating them from the rest of society. The reading introduces five discourses "the storm", becoming, at risk, social problem, and pleasurable consumption that surround the concept of adolescence. While introducing these five discourses she also introduces her study of Toronto-area teenager girls (from 13-19 years in age) and their grandmothers. She uses the study to explore the idea of these five discourses and how they mold societies idea of adolescence.

"The storm"- this was Raby's first discourse and the one I found most confusing to rap my head around (lets call this my do not understand section). From what I could understand the "storm" describes when teenagers begin to explore their bodies and their personalities. Adolescence is seen as a time to figure out who you are and who you want to be. This is the time that children are often seen as "easily influenced" by outside sources including peers, adults, and the media. Adolescence is also the time where a person starts to explore their sexuality.

Becoming- this describes how adolescence are in a stage where they are readying themselves for the real world and to become adults. Apparently teenagers have yet to become anything and are only in this stage to ready themselves to become something else. Raby points out that although teenagers are only in the process of becoming they can become "at risk" or a "social problem."

At Risk- teenagers are presented many models from society that dictate what the average teenager should or shouldn’t do, wear, feel, and say. These media artifacts often present images of teenagers who are easily influenced, sexually and physically frustrated, and in need of a quick fix or high. These models not only present a model for teenagers to imitate but also present a false image of teenagers to the general public as an age group that needs saving or monitoring.

Social problem- society views teenagers as a social problem that needs to be solved or eliminated. This is displayed in the way teenagers are treated in schools with cops, video surveillance, and metal detectors present in many high schools, town curfews, and dress codes. The dress codes are often used as a way to squash inappropriate behavior, but dress is one of the few outlets teenagers are given to express them and begin to form their own personal identity. We expect them to "become" but society squashes any attempt at it, which often causes discontent and rebellion, which in turn can lead to social problems (seems they're doing some of this to themselves).

Pleasurable consumption- recently the media has shifted its target from adults to teenagers. Raby describes how the teenagers are often viewed as having power over the family finances and a disposable income. The idea of consumption has become one of the only outlets given to teenagers to form their identity and also one of the only places the teenager has power.

I believe the big points from this article are that these discourses established by society are not only hypocritical, but are also a prophecy. Teenagers are expected to act out and then are punished for something that is expected of them. How can a teenager be in the process of becoming, yet already be placed in a category or label? These labels thrusted upon the adolescence of our society become self full-filling prophecies. It is also apparent that we must give teenagers a way to express themselves that is not directly correlated with the financial situation of their family. Society has put to much importance on consumption as a vehicle for self-expression. Teenagers whose families cannot afford this lifestyle are often thrusted into the "social problem" category trying to afford to live up to societies expectations. Another big point is the fact that when looked at individually the discourses are not as strong in their assertions and often contradict each other. Raby makes the point how can adolescences be "becoming" and have already become a social problem? How can a teenager assert their individuality while being smothered by rules and regulations made to snuff out anything that may be considered "at risk" behavior? These discourses tangle together to make it impossible for teenagers not to be alienated, segregated, and stereotyped by the rest of society.