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Week Eight: Music & Taste

Bourdieu believes taste is something that is acquired through habitus.  Habitus is our taste or liking of music, food, art, fashion, etc. based on our class, education or profession. He feels that lower and upper class people both use their cultural capital (knowledge of the culture or references) or social capital (personal connections and influence) to discriminate against other classes. Some examples that are relavent today would include hip hop and fine art for lower class and upper class, respectively.

Carl Wilson agrees but to an extent. He brings up the example that if one becomes a bank manager, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to like all that “high-brow” type of taste. Wilson also brings up distinction, in which people try to separate themselves from certain cliques. For example, if a nerd wanted to become cool, he might want to start listening to music cool people listen to while hating music nerds like. I tend to agree with Wilson more because I don’t think habitus has as much control as Bourdieu theorized it does.

Most of Celine Dion’s fans are older, middle-aged women that are typically classified as “soccer moms”. This has a huge effect on Dion’s perceived coolness. Coolness is usually defined by the younger generation and almost nobody wants to have the same taste as their mother. That is the biggest reason Dion’s coolness takes a monumental hit.

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Week Five: Race, Gender and Class Politics in Comedy

In Christopher Hitchens’ ‘Why Women Aren’t Funny‘, Hitchens takes a very close look at humor. He notes that humor is very stupid and men laugh at it because they are extremely stupid. Hitchens argues that men started being funny because they wanted to take shots at authoritative figures, in this case women. Women don’t care about being funny because they know it’s not a primary thing they should be concerned with.  They’re vessels of life and they don’t consider being funny more important than other things. Hitchens’ contribution was that women aren’t funny because of their innate choosing. Men need humor so they get validate themselves to women and they view funniness as a top priority for courting mates.

Alessandra Stanley’s views on women and humor can be seen in her article for Vanity Fair, ‘Who Says Women Aren’t Funny?‘. Stanley states women got their huge chance from cable. Chances began sprouting up because “there were too many hours to fill up and not enough men”. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were absolute pioneers for female comedians. To be on television/cable, women had to be funny and attractive. She added a gem to my knowledge: funny women writers, such as Fey, have to tone down their sexist writers to make shows appeal to a broader audience.

In the blog post ‘Genderlicious: Dear Olivia Munn‘ by Thea Lim, Lim takes an angry stance against Munn and her ability to sell out her own race (and gender) so easily. Lim feels Munn doesn’t use the stage she was given as a Southeastern Asian woman to set a good example but instead uses it to give white people the ‘A-OK’ to laugh at (instead of with) Asians and women. On a segment on The Daily Show, Munn uses her stage to make fun of Vietnamese people and say Indians are “Asian-ish”, implying only Chinese and Japanse are true Asians. Lim taught me that audiences find it hard to take female comedians sorry because a select few would rather sell out to misogyny and racism than use their stage to show women of color can be funny and be laughed with.

Roseanne Barr’s ‘And I Should Know’ definitely exposes the sexism and classism in the television industry. Roseanne was told how to dress and was made to say sexist lines that she didn’t agree with. Roseanne received no credit from the beginning on a show that she created and when she got the number one television show, she was rewarded with chocolate ignoring the Porsches and Bentleys that were given to men previously. The worst thing was that she couldn’t quit because she knew there would be no other chance for her to create a feminist, working-class show in a male dominated world. Roseanne opened up my eyes to how incredibly sexist television actually is. She would just have to take the abuse and cry in her dressing room while men got all the credit. 

Week Four: Critical Frameworks Bechdel Test for Race Part II

This was an interesting experience becase my friends and I had tried to figure out how many predominantly white tv shows had more than two people of color in them. We came up with Grey’s Anatomy, The Office, Community, and Scrubs. We had no idea that this was being looked at in a scholarly manner.

For films, it’s definitely harder. I tried to think of any for five minutes without any help and was shooting blanks. The film industry could be (and is) racist. There’s no other way of putting. Whether saying audiences wouldn’t want to watch black people do things on the big screen or not being able to relate, it’s all veiled racism.

Week Four: Critical Frameworks The Bechdel Test Part I

Black Swan – Passes the test because the two main people are Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis and they talk about ballet.

Drive – Does not pass the test because it does not have more than 2 women.

Ides of March – Does not pass the test because the women don’t talk to each other.

The Help – It passes the test because it’s a mainly women cast who talk of things not having to do with men.

Crazy, Stupid, Love – Does not pass the test. The women in the movie don’t speak to each other about anything other than men.

Sherlock Holmes II – Does not pass the test.

Kung-Fu Panda II – The women characters don’t talk to each other.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II – Though the film has multiple strong women, they rarely talk and if they do it’s about the men in the movie.

50/50 – It has multiple women characters but they do not converse.

Puss in Boots – It had some women but they did not talk to each other.

 

The Bechdel Test was a really interesting way of looking at something that most people overlook.  Filmmakers are not degrading women explicitly, but instead are limiting their roles and typecasting them into roles that enforce stereotypes. If they do put multiple female roles into a movie, they usually are there to talk about the male protagonist. It’s a shame that there aren’t many roles women can play without having to lean on a man.

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