Thursday, June 01, 2006

Final Project

The Portrayal of Men and Women in Modern Music Videos

Intro:
I love watching music videos. Call me voyeuristic, but there is something so fun about watching these three minute “mini-movies” that are shot portraying the latest pop princess, aging rockers, or emerging new rapper. But one thing I absolutely loathe is the sometimes generic and sexist depictions of women and men in the videos. I do not need to see another woman strutting around in stilettos, a bikini and a vacant smile to trick me into thinking that this particular male rapper is a stud and can pull in any chick he deems worthy enough of appearing in his videos. I don’t need to watch another video portraying all the featured young black men in baggy, ill-fitting clothes to think they are “gangsta.” I understand that as a performer, a person or group will have a plethora of groupies, but I don’t need to see repeated cut-to’s of them nodding their head to the beat or flashing their jewelry at me. And I don’t understand why, regardless of the gender of the artist singing/performing, must there be a dance segment featuring women wearing barely-there ensembles. I decided for my final project I would test my own personal stereotypes against music videos and see whether I was simply making a big deal out of nothing or if there was genuine trend in pop culture music videos. I chose to look at the depiction of men and women in modern music videos.

Most Important Foundation Literature and How It Relates To My Project:
I found some really great research from other analysts that were extremely beneficial to my research project. I borrowed Joe Gow’s coding for music video’s supporting roles (“Reconsidering Gender Roles on MTV: Depictions In The Most Popular Music Videos Of The Early 1990s” 1996, Communication Reports) and also used Table 3.1 and 3.2 from our textbook, Sex in the Consumer Culture: The Erotic Content of Media and Marketing, to code. Other research available that helped guide me through my project were works by Diane Railton and Paul Watson, Helene A. Shugart and Catherine Egley Waggonor, Stacy L. Smith, Kenneth Jones, Paul Bolls and et. al, Richard C. Benson and et. al., and Steven A. Seidman, all works cited at the end of my paper.

Corpus and Method:
My corpus involved looking at the top 5 music videos hosted on Launch.com, the music portal of the Yahoo! website that keeps track of what video is being played and how often and how much. I wanted to look at how different the performers are (male/female, genre of music) and how their particular video portrayed them as whatever gender they are, but also how the supporting roles are dressed and directed. The top 5 music videos of May 30, 2006 and the ones that I coded for my project were 2 pop songs and 3 rap songs. I used both qualitative as well as quantitative content analysis while doing my research. I used three different analysis/charts from outside sources. The first step was to determine whether the artist(s) performing were male or female (Andsager, pg 37). Secondly, I assessed whether or not the video showed sexuality through clothing by coding male and female clothing types as alluring/ non-alluring clothing (Andsager, pg 38). Finally, I used a content analysis by Joe Gow. I looked at the people making up the rest of the music video (supporting actors/actresses) and coded them by gender and 7 subcategories that were broken down thusly: Model (no real purpose for being in the video, there to just look pretty and be a decoration), Backing Professional (have a purpose for being in a video, to either dancing, back-up singing, et. cetera), Companion (friend or group of friends to the artist(s)), Victim (a person depicted being victimized someway, either by the artist or supporting characters), Aggressor (person/ people victimizing a supporting character), Worker (a person “shown engaged in manual labor, for example, pumping gas, washing dishes, or selling shoes”(Gow).), and Parent (an older figure making an appearance in the video). I used descriptive analysis to depict anything else I saw that struck me as interesting, but couldn’t be identified through my coding. Some specific research questions I wrote to myself included: How are men and women portrayed in today’s top music videos? Are women put in more sexualized situations than men? What are the men and women wearing in the video and is it sexually enticing/ alluring?

Findings:
#1 Video: Shakira- “Hips Don’t Lie”
This was the only video in the top 5 that was performed by a one-woman band. Shakira is a latin singer who is well-known for her distinctive sing style and curvaceous body figure. She is shown in several different ways in this video, from a demure woman singing in a room to almost nude with gold rhinestones covering her back and a scarf covering her breasts. Based on Gow’s coding chart, I coded 11 female and 2 male backing performers, 1 male and 0 female companions, and 3 female and 2 male models. All of the women were coded as being dressed in alluring clothes, whereas none of the men were.

#2 Video: Chamillionaire- “Ridin’”
Chamillionaire is an African-American rapper who’s video was coded showing 3 female and 0 male models, 1 male and 0 female backing performers, 3 male and 0 female victims, 2 male and 0 female aggressors, and 1 male and 0 female workers. This video portrayed rappers and cops in different situations and violence from police officers. Zero percent of the men were coded as wearing alluring clothing, but all three of the women were wearing alluring clothing, including a bikini in an enclosed garage area.

#3 Video: Pussycat Dolls- “Buttons”
The Pussycat Dolls are a group of all-female professional dancers. There is only one singer, yet the other five are considered to be back-up singers, but they are really just dancers. This video features only one male, the rapper Snoop Dogg. He is wearing non-alluring clothes, but all the women dressed in enticing attire. The video shows several strip-downs from the women, which is plainly amazing considering they start out wearing shorts and ripped t-shirts and end up in next-to-nothing attire. The entire shoot, minus Snoop’s rapping bit, is a dance number/performance. There are no models, companions, victims, aggressors, workers or parents in this video.

#4 Video: Yung Joc- “It’s Goin’ Down”
Shot mostly in the street of a run-down neighborhood, it is basically one big block party with Yung Joc presiding over it. There were 0 male and 11 female models, 2 male and 0 female backing performers and 1 predominant male and 0 female companions. This was a hard video to code because there were well over 50 people shown throughout it, so I counted those who had multiple face shots and screen times. All the females were coded in alluring clothing and none of the men were.
#5 Video: Li’l Jon-“Snap Yo Finger”
This particular video was very easy to code. It’s a rap video showing 3 male and 0 female backing performers, and 1 male and 4 female models. The women had no purpose in the video other than to be shown in bathing suits and cropped shirts/shorts. All were coded as sexually alluring. The men were all dressed in baggy clothing with only their arms exposed and coded as non-alluring.

Conclusion:
I was slightly surprised by my findings. The use of women as place-fillers, only to be pretty but mute was very discouraging. The only aggressors and victims were men, which coincided with the finding that “as for affective behaviors, male characters on MTV were found to be more aggressive, domineering, violent, and victimized than were female characters” (Seidman). None of the men in ANY of the videos wore sexually alluring clothing, yet more than 80% of the females in my study did. I shouldn’t be surprised because “male characters in music videos on MTV were more adventuresome, aggressive, domineering, victimized, and violent than females. Female characters were more affectionate, dependent, fearful, and nurturing than males, and more likely to pursue others and be pursued sexually. More than one third of the female characters wore revealing clothing ”(Seidman). The men in the music videos were able to play different roles, such as excited singer to perpetrator on the run. Women are more likely to be stuck in the same roles repeatedly, playing second fiddle to the male artist and confined to sexual objectification (Gow).


Citations:

Andsager, Julie “Seduction, Shock, and Sales: Research and Functions of Sex in Music Video.” Sex in Consumer Culture: The Erotic Content of Media and Marketing. 2006 ed.

Bolls, Paul and Chen, Chien-fei “Sex and Violence Makes Me Yawn: Autonomic Desensitization to Music Videos.” Conference Papers—International Communication Association; 2003 Annual Meeting

https://eaglemail.unt.edu/horde/services/go.php?url=https%3A%2F%2Flibproxy.library.unt.edu%3A9443%2Flogin%3Furl%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fsearch.epnet.com%2F

Gow, Joe “Reconsidering Gender Roles on MTV: Depictions In The Most Popular Music Videos Of The Early 1990s.” Communication Reports 1996.

https://eaglemail.unt.edu/horde/services/go.php?url=https%3A%2F%2Flibproxy.library.unt.edu%3A9443%2Flogin%3Furl%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fsearch.epnet.com%2F


Seidman, Steven A. “An Investigation of Sex-Role Stereotyping in Music Videos.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Spring 1992.

https://eaglemail.unt.edu/horde/services/go.php?url=https%3A%2F%2Flibproxy.library.unt.edu%3A9443%2Flogin%3Furl%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fsearch.epnet.com%2F



********DR. LAMBIASE- I TURNED IN SUPPLEMENTAL CHARTS IN CLASS ON THURSDAY MORNING THAT WENT ALONG WITH MY RESEARCH PROJECT. HAVE A WONDERFUL SUMMER!**********

End of Class

I have to say that I will miss this class a lot. I wish that I had taken it in a normal semester and gotten a boring class over quickly in mini-mester. Our class discussions have opened my eyes to many issues and subjects that I overlook daily. Instead of flipping through commercials, I will watch and see how a company tries to sell their product. I've started catching myself in how I view people and wonder how I learned those feelings and thoughts. We covered so much in such a short amount of time but I still feel that what was addressed was done fully and that we didn't short-change any particular topic. I will miss the discussions and different viewpoints that were presented daily. I hope everyone has a great summer!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Bad Mouse

When we watched the film portraying Disney in a bad light, I was skeptical at first. Yes, I had seen and heard about the priest's erection in The Little Mermaid and read "SEX" in the sky in The Lion King, but I was not prepared to think about the roles of violence that are portrayed in the sweet, animated movies that Disney creates so well.

To think about the negative ramifications that little children who already witness verbal or domestic abuse is horribly sad, but then add that to what they potentially see in their cartoons and it jumps to simply horrible. If they are watching Disney to escape reality and enter fantasy, and they are shown verbal violence by father figures and/or partners, do they start to believe that is how they ought to be treated? I wish I knew the answer, but I don't. I just pray Disney will keep that out of children's movies in the future.

Rebecca and Beth

Today's class visitors were worth the wait. Both women provided valuable insight for female students planning to go into a journalism field of some sort. I am glad that the message that was put out there was for women to try, not give up hope and create a path suitable to her wants and desires as oppossed to those of a news station (or whatever corporation). I admire their dedication to their joint venture and hope it works out well for them. And if all else fails, maybe Beth should take a stab at stand-up comedy... she was hilarious!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Movie Review

Movie: Not Another Teen Movie (2001)

Overview: A mock-up of all the wonderful 1980s teen movies that starred the Brat Pack and some of the newer ones as well. A lot is taken from John Hughes, who is arguably the best '80s teen-and-young-adult movie director and writer. Basically, it is a funny movie that spoofs funny-bad teen movies and how Hollywood thinks teens act and think, which is extremely laughable.

Plot: Here is what imdb.com uses to summarize the film: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0277371/plotsummary . All of these characters are very broad and use many stereotypes to make points and get laughs.

Char. #1- Janey Briggs: She is one of the main characters in the movie. She is the female protagonist and most of the movie is about giving her a makeover to win the boy and become popular. Her family is poor and she wears "glasses, a ponytail and paint-covered overalls," which makes fun of all the earlier depictions of the "artsy" girl being different and the school outcast--- simply because of those 3 things. She is also ostracized because her dad is crazy from the Vietnam War and, once again, she is poor. She is set-up to be made-over into a beautiful swan, so all she does is lose the ponytail, gallses and slipped on some revealing clothes and VIOLA, she is now socially acceptable. Her role is to just be pretty and the message is this: don't use your mind, change yourself to get the guy and cute clothes are the key to being popular.

Char. #2- Jake Wyler: Jake is the embodiment of the "preppy jock." He is a white football player who takes a bet to turn the weirdest social-freak of the school (Janey) and turn her into the prom queen. Obviously, he falls for her, but then the scam is revealed to her and she decides to hop a plane "to the art school in Paris". His character is rich, giving him a one-up everyone else, he's gorgeous, therefore popular (girls throw their underwear at him in the hall), but he is DUMB. But that "tiny" flaw is insignificant because he has the previously-mentioned attributes. He shows that you can be ignorant of issues and misogynistic but it's ok if you are white, rich, and attractive because even then, you will be popular.

Char #3- Priscilla: She is the antagonist of the film. She is dating Jake, wants to be prom queen and tries to ruin Janey's new rise to popularity. She is a mean, nasty person, yet because of her blonde good looks, big bosom and trim waist, she gets away with it. Girls in high school look up to her and her clique are afraid to talk back to her. She is a cheerleader who steals rival squads' cheers, but never gets reprimanded for it because of her status. She never does more than pout, insult or smile, giving out the idea that if you are viscious and mean but beautiful, then you can get away with anything.

Char. #4- Malik: Here is the character that gave me the idea to use this movie for my critique. His WHOLE character is a stereotype of a stereotype. He comes out and says many times throughout the movie that as a black individual, all he is "supposed to say 'damn', 'shit' and 'that is WHACK!'" There are no other black people in the movie except when they are all at a house party, Malik sees another black guy getting a beer, walks over and asks him what he is doing. When the guy answers, Malik responds "you know I'm supposed to be the only black guy at this party..." to which the guys nods knowingly, apologizes and leaves the party. This shows how few and far between black men are shown in these types of movies, if they are evn shown at all, and how little their characters have to do, except be a form of comedic relief.

Crash

Last week, my boyfriend and I watched the movie Crash. I wasn't sure what to think, but I knew everyone in Hollyweird was in it (joke), so it was bound to be at least okay.

I thought it was a great, great movie. The scenes were tight and well-shot, the actors and actresses were believable and the situations were somewhat outlandish, but gripping nonetheless.

The part that I audibly gasped at was the scene where the Hispanic man's daughter dives in front of a gun to save her daddy. Their relationship was my favorite of all in the movie. I loved how it portrayed him as a DAD (not mom) devoted to his child, willing to act silly by telling the story about the invisible cloak yet be so tender at the same time. Men, especially latin and hispancs, are rarely depicted in that light.

I thought this movie was a little too close to what we were looking for, so I decided not to use this as my movie critique, but it was too good not to blog about it.

Memorial Holiday Weekend

Last weekend I went to Galveston Beach to celebrate my high school friend's graduation from Tarleton State. The 3-day fiesta was thrown by her parents and included a huge condo on the beach, free booze-n-food and a mariachi band for everyone's enjoyment. I knew my group from high school, but there were a lot of people I didn't know as well. Everybody kept to their little cliques (yes, even after high school) and a merry time was had by all.

When the band pull up on Saturday late afternoon, people were understandably tipsy and/or full-blown trashed. The van door openned and out popped 4 Mexican men, dressed in traditional mariachi garb, each carrying their particular instrument. Out of nowhere, the normal people I had been talking to and the other pary-goers go insane over these men. Regular English was replaced with ear-piercing "A-YI-YIIIIIIIIIs" and "ARRIBA ARRIBA." People would just go up to the band while they were playing and steal their sombreros, perform dances on them and take pictures of their friends making goofy, stupid faces and gestures.

I don't know if I am describing it how I saw it. I found it to be really tasteless and tacky. These musicians worked all day (it was something like their 8th gig of the day) and THIS is what they were subjected to? Animal cries and unwanted contact? Pictures of someone pretending to lick your trumpet? It seemed as though the people I was with thought it was okay to enact stereotypes just because the band was hired and getting paid, like that made it reasonable. Maybe I am over-analyzing, but the whole thing made me uncomfortable.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Mini-study

Title: Magazines Covers: the Modern Portrayal of Men and Women

Two Sentence Summary of Findings: Although the magazines I used in my study showed more men than women on the covers, there was a vast difference in the depiction of the two sexes. None of the men were suggestive sexually, whereas ALL of the women were in bathing suits or panties with their hands covering strategic body parts.

Summary of the Previous Study: I based my study on the research, study and tables (particularly Tables 5.1 and 5.2) of Chapter 5 from our textbook, Sex in Consumer Culture. It discusses how women and men are depicted on six different magazine covers from the years 1995-2000, and what the differences are in the way they are dressed, posed and how much of the body is shown. The study indicated that women were much more likely to be shown in sexually suggestive ways, as opposed to their male counterparts, whose photos were coded as “demure.”

Important Literature and How It Relates to My Study: The most important literature I used for this was the entire Chapter 9 from our textbook and the study by Tom Reichert, Lambiase, Morgan, Cartsarphen and Zavoina titled “Beefcake & Cheesecake” (Spring 1999 Journalism and Mass Comm Quarterly). The “Beefcake & Cheesecake” study showed that from 1983-1993, the number of photographs of females portrayed them in sexual ways and that it was continuing to rise. On the other hand, males that were photographed were generally fully-clothed (demure) and not sexualized

Corpus and Method: For my corpus, I found the May 2006 covers of the five magazines used in the original study from our textbook (Table5.1, page 76) and added four more that are popular today. In total, the magazines are: Rolling Stone, Details, Esquire, GQ, Maxim, Sport Illustrated, FHM, Stuff and Blender. I also used the coding from that study, which was to look at the following aspects of the photos: gender, pose, body view, clothing, and sexual tone. I used the quantitative method to code, because all of the images were very straight-forward and easy to place in the categories and their sub-categories.

Findings: Six out of nine covers feature men and all but one were coded as demurely dressed. The sole partially clad male was wearing swim-suit trunks, but he was shown exercising in a pool. The other men wore items like tuxes, button-up shirts, and t-shirts and jackets. None of the males were posed or pictured in sexually provocative ways. However, all of the women were shown in bikinis or lingerie, looking at the camera in stimulating fashions. All were coded as partially clad and both their heads and torsos were in the frame. One woman was wearing a Little Red Riding Hood outfit, and by outfit, I mean a mini-mini red cropped jacket that didn’t cover her breasts and a matching red thong.


Conclusions: My mini-study reflected much of what the previous studies had already concluded. Men were demure, while women were not. The men represented were not photographed with sexual tones, but the women were. From previous consumption of a lot of these magazines, I know what they mostly put on their cover and, sadly, it is generally identical to what I have found in my small project. Women’s bodies are mostly on show and are usually scantily clad. The men are shown as just that, men who are being interviewed to discuss their work and they are not subjected to posing half-naked and leering to readers. I wonder if this will ever change, or even if maybe it will become more equal and not so tilted so favorably toward one gender.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Monday's class

Monday's class was very interesting. I loved hearing what people had to say. Many different issues were brought up and although the tension was super-thick at times, I thought everyone was very mature and articulate in their discussions.

I was disappointed, however, by the two men who basically said that women bring it (negative stereo-typing) upon themselves and that since Maxim "knew" their audience, it was essentially ok to show the images and project the ideas that women are simply objects to be looked at and that all we do is gossip, shop, and be recepticles of sex. WHAT?? I know that I am exaggerating what they said and I'm sure they didn't mean it in such a harsh way, but if every man believed a small part of what their points were, well I think women are in a lot of trouble. What a sad idea to think that I can be whittled down into such a demeaning and small niche. All the strong and wonderful women I grew up admiring are being lumped together with these horrible stereotypes simply because a small percentage of women pose and pout prettily on some lad magazines and because of the way we are portrayed in some of the media, i.e. "Clueless", Cosmopolitan, Playboy channel, etc. I truly hope that these ideas were just taken out of context and are not indicitive of the way most males think about women.

That would really ruin my day :)

Killing Us Softly

The video shown in class today was great. I saw the same video a few years ago when I was freshman in a communications class and loved it then, too. It's funny how things haven't seemed to change since then, in fact it seems a little worse.

I hate seeing how women are depicted in advertisements and I loathe that there are big-shot CEOs who are deciding what people will be shown and that they are the ones that have power to influence the minds of the world. I have a fifteen year old brother who is my life, plain and simple. Every time I see something racy and overly-sexualized, I think of him and how this will impact his way of thinking about women and sex (I really sound like a mom on this, but it's true). I don't want my brother to grow up thinking that most women will take their shirt off for a camera in exchange for 30 seconds of airtime and a free baseball cap. I don't want him to think it is okay to refer to girls as "sluts" and "whores" simply because they are sexual creatures. I hope he will remember that there are two people in a sex act, and if they woman is going to be branded a whore, then so should the man. I am tired of all the sexist, double-standard b.s. that is being taught to children and I'm even more tired of the sad fact that kids are starting to buy into it and think that it's how the world truly, really is.

Jean's video is extremely educational because it puts all these images together and makes it easy to see the common threads that advertisers use to appeal to women or men. Although I thought she took it a little over-board at times, I think the content was thought-provoking and well laid-out.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

P.O.W.s

To simply have been a prisoner of war is a horror I could never begin to fathom, but to come home to a country who cares more about Donna Karan's new fashion line and wonders where the pretty people (celebrities) go to frolic in the sand and surf... well, that's downright dis-heartening. As a person who lacks having a brave bone in her body, I stand up, applaud, honor, revere, etc. the men and women who march into any recruiting office and potentially sign their life away on a piece of paper to devote themselves to the military and defending the U.S. and the citizens who occupy it.

But what happens after that? What do they gain? What happens for them if they, goodness forbid, become captured by the enemy? After looking up some sites about P.O.W.s, I learned that, well, not to much. Of course, the military branch the soldier is in will try to get him/her out, but then you come home, receive your medals and forever have your memories of that time, whether it was relatively pain-free or made up with the stuff of night-mares (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner_of_war#Treatment_of_POWs).

The specific case of Jessica Lynch and Shoshanna Johnson really angered me. Here is a woman raising a child, simply enlisted to become a chef as a way to further her dream career and pay the bills, and she gets shot in both legs, held in enemy captivity longer then Lynch, and is still partially disabled. Yet Lynch's story is the one we know. I saw her face emblazoned on the TV screen when they freed her, I saw her walk off the plane, I saw the Time magazine cover and all the media appearances. Yet when I saw Johnson, a big question mark popped up; "huh, who's this??" I am not saying that Lynch did not go through her fair share of plight, and in no way could I have dealt with what she did, but it is just so disheartening to know there was another person with her who was injured badly and held captive, and yet I only saw this blonde-haired, fair-skinned being reported and how the government "rescued" her, a story which later came under fire.

How Johnson and her family must feel is something I will never know. How can you ever look at your country in the same way? And how could the media perpetuate two stories so similar, yet give them such different spins? It's sad and kind of disgusting, to be honest.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Blog numero uno

Today's class was great! This is the first time I have taken a mini-mester class and I had slightly ambivalent feelings toward it. However, the content is thought-provoking and course is sure to be fun and full of opposing opinions. I have already been discussing what was brought up this morning to people throughout the day to get their views. I asked the ten-year-old boy I babysit what he thought of when I asked him about different races and gender, and his responses were actually really interesting! I've also started watching ads closer and even my boyfriend has gotten in on the trend by identifying sexism in beer ads and sports commercials (we're watching the Mavs basketball game).

A really intriguing topic was brought up today about how working and non-working mothers are being pitted against each other in the media. I have noticed recently that this is a BIG trend. Maybe it has been like this for a while, but I have lately noticed how women and girls are always being portrayed as rivals in mainstream media. Jessica Simpson and Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears vs. Christina Aguilera, the women on reality T.V. shows... all seem to be feuding with one another. And this is just celebrity fluff. Now moms are supposed to taking one another down?? I don't know, I just don't get it. I don't see this trend amongst men that often. I never hear about Jack Nicholson wanting to duke it out with Harrison Ford or George Bush throwing down with Dick Cheney. I guess women catfights are a lot more interesting than females simply getting along. Like sex, I guess drama sells...