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June 10, 2009

Tweet Mania

I had never heard of Twittter before i started this class. Now it seems is everywhere. Like Myspace once was really popular when it first came out. Twitter is the the new hype obviously . Everyone has one even celebrities. Watching Conan O'Brien last night he had a segment called Twitter tracker where he brings you the latest celebrity tweets. Jessica Simpson wrote I think a broke a new heel. It's a little ridiculous how shows and tabloids post celebrity tweets and blow them out of proportion. They're really ordinary tweets at times, but coming from a celebrity they are a must read.
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June 8, 2009

Racial Stereotypes--Funny?

When viewing many of the television shows today, they seem to be making fun of one particular subject alot: racial stereotypes. Some examples include: "The Simpsons," "South Park," and "Family Guy." They all use stereotypes of every imaginable race. Two particular examples are: Homer Simpson's Indian friend, Apu and Peter Griffin's African American friend, Cleveland Brown (Brown...). The thing is, they bring laughters, even to the "victimized" races. However, despite the laughters from these hysterical shows, it should also be noticed that prejudice exists in a form of comedy. If it appears to be funny, then should it be dismissed without any thoughts? Or should we treat these racial remarks with same degrees as other "serious" racial remarks.
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The Death of Anna Nicole Smith

We talked a lot about death and dying while reading the novel White Noise. As you all know, one of mankind's greatest fear is of death. Any person is susceptible to dying at any moment and this held true for American sex symbol Anna Nicole Smith.
For those who don't know, Anna Nicole Smith (aka the Marilyn Monroe look alike) became popular at first by modeling for Playboy and then, along with a lot of other things, did commercials for TrimSpa and had her own reality TV show. She ended up dying due to a drug overdose. When famous people in the media, including those of high class and status, die and their death is known to the general public, it often makes us reflect upon our very own lives and how fragile we are as human beings.
Anna's death, to me, was a little bit scary because it seemed like one minute she was the talk of the town due to her "annoying" TrimSpa commercials (Trimspa Baby!) and because she was married to a very old sugar daddy. However, all of the sudden she ended up dying and now all we have left is a memory of her through written text, television footage, and other things. I also felt the same scariness when Steve "The Crocodile Hunter" Irwin died due to some freak accident.
Upon reading White Noise and thinking about the way Jack Gladney acted knowing he was going to die due to the inhalation of the toxic air, I realized that death is an inevitable entity and is something we cannot escape. DeLillo's characterization of Jack and the other characters in White Noise made me realize I shouldn't fear death so much because it is simply a part of life.
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June 7, 2009

Gender Roles in Halo 3

In the Xbox 360 game Halo 3 the main character, Master Chief, is accompanied on his missions by an artificial intelligence named Cortana. She is essentially a computer program, and is inside Chief's helmet to help him out on various tasks. She is linked to the entire military communications, and often helps the various generals in the army strategize with Master Chief. At various cutscenes in the game, she can be seen as a 3-D figure, coming out of a computer console.

The interesting part is during the parts she is represented as a 3-D projection, she is very slender, curvy, and has various computer codes running up and down her body to mask what would be her private parts. She is also given somewhat of a spunky personality, often being the only one brave enough to to talk back to the Chief. She is given a very strong and independent personality, often giving the message that she doesn't need a man to help her. Cortana's appearance and personality are juxtaposed, with her personality being very different from her typical gender role and her appearance fitting right into what she's supposed to be. This reminded me a lot of the reading we did a little while ago called "The New Sexual Stone Age" in SOL. Her personality and role in the game is very progressive, yet she is feeding into the age old, scantily clad, sexual-objects-of-men-role women typically used to be in the media.
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June 6, 2009

Gender Roles in the Kitchen

I saw this Kingsford Match Light commercial a while ago, and it saw it again recently, and couldn't help but notice how blatantly it described gender roles in relation to cooking in the kitchen. In the advertisement, a women is putting charcoal into a grill and is about to light it when her husband runs to her to stop her. he then tells her, "This is no stove alright, I mean what if I just walked into the kitchen and started making a salad?" She repsonds by saying, "That would be weired." This obviously states that in the home, the kitchen is a place for women and not men. It even goes as far as saying that men cannot cook since the man's idea of what he would make would be a salad, which is an example of a dish that is supposed to be easy to make. Also, when he takes over to show her the "technique," it is just lighting the charcoal. The commercial also states that barbecuing is what men do and not women, as the husband quickly stops her from even starting to start up the fire. However, times have changed and there are cases when the roles are switched. This blatant description of gender roles is still successul as a joke though since there is still that idea that women cook in the kitchen and men do the barbecuing outside.
Posted by      Izumi S. at 1:27 PM PDT
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June 5, 2009

Female Gender Roles in Anime

For those who don't know, anime is animated, cartoon shows whose origins are from Japan. There are many popular anime's out there today such as One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Death Note, and other notable ones. The animes are also placed into different categories such as Shounen (targeting junior to high school boys), Seinen (targeting an 18-30 year old male audience), Josei (targeting women), and others.
Due to social constructs and my inability to make many friends outside of the cyberspace world, I have ended up watching a lot of anime and continue to do so to this day.
One of the things I have noticed in much of the anime I have watched are the female characters. Almost always the female characters are slender, big breasted, smooth skinned, and have otherwise a very fit body. They also have a tendency to wear short skirts which reveal a great deal of their legs, or various promiscuous dress which exaggerate parts of the body. In most of the anime, their roles are so stereotypical and standard that it gives me a headache. Every single time it seems there is always some type of damsel in distress who was able to fight but then ends up needing to be saved by the male hero. Relating this back to Terminator 2, Sarah Connor was the same type of woman as many of these anime women; she was strong and courageous but in the end needed to be saved by the T1000.
I don't blame the the artists for creating or drawing these type of women characters because sex sells of course, but I do hope to see a bit of variation in the future (if anyone's every watched Black Lagoon this is one anime I have seen that goes against the standard). Another note is that in the Japanese culture the women tend to be more submissive and allow the men to pick up most of their slack. As I have noticed, most of the successful women in Japan tend to be figureheads such as singers, actresses, or other types pop culture idols.
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Tags: anime
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Male Objectification

In class, Dr. Tanner Higgin discussed how D?angelo?s music video for the song ?How Does It Feel,? objectifies males through the use of an ultra-masculine figure. In the video, the camera is close up on D?angelo?s face. As the camera angles open up, the rapper?s emotion is excluded as he declares, in a high pitched voice, soft voice:
Girl it?s only you
Have it your way
And if you want you can decide
And if you?ll have me
I can provide everything that you desire
Said if you get a feeling
Feeling that I am feeling
Won?t you come closer to me baby,
you?ve already got me right where you want me baby
I just want to be your man (
D?angelo?s lyrics feminize him because he declares his love for a woman and declares that he would do anything to satisfy her. Traditionally, men are stoic and women are emotional beings expected to satisfy the male. Conventionally, Men are the authoritative breadwinner who supports the family and women are the housewives who cook, clean, and sexually satisfy their husband. This music video depicts D?angelo as the feminine man who would do anything for his woman. ?How Does It Feel? also creates a sense of homophobia. As the camera rolls down from D?angelos face to his muscular chest and his six pack, it stops at his waist right above his crotch and creates homophobic anxiety in the male viewer. Traditional masculinity creates the idea that women are supposed to be the object of the male gaze, yet this music video labels man as the scopophilic object. Despite the homophobia formed in the men after viewing this video, the video teases the female viewer when the camera slowing moving down D?angelo?s naked body and stopping right above his crotch. This scene objectifies men by showing them in a highly sexualized way. This objectification and switch in gender is weakened by D?angelo?s gangster, masculinized image (muscular physique, tattoos, and corn rolls); thus reasserting traditional masculinity superior to gender-bending.
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Kanye's 808s and Heartbreak

Kanye West's newest album 808's and Heartbreak was an obvious break from his own comfort zone. Regardless of the diverse reaction the album received, the album was his most interesting piece. Everybody knows Kanye to be an arrogant and proud artist. In his first three albums, he portrayed himself as the underdog that broke the odds against him and emerged as a great hip hop artist. However, the most recent album didn't portray him as strong but rather as an angry and independent individual. Prior to the release of this album, Kanye had to deal with the loss of his mother and the breaking of his engagement. Songs like "See you in my Nightmares" and "Heartless" portray his resentment and anger at his ex-fiance, and "Coldest Winter" shows his sadness for the loss of his mother. Regardless of how different this album is though, the fact remains that its still Kanye West, and he still portrayed himself as independent, even in his vulnerability. The best example of this is shown through his music videos. Almost every single video he released for this album has only him in the video with the exception of "Love Lockdown". The video for "Amazing" has him completely isolated and completely away from any civilization. So even though this album was so different from his usual works, Kanye still portrayed himself as the person he always was. The album shows him going from resentment and sadness with "Welcome to Heartbreak" and "Heartless" and ends with the anger of "See you in my Nightmares" before he calms down and mourns over the loss of his mother with "The Coldest Winter". Even in his vulnerability, he shows that he doesn't need anybody else to get through whatever he is going through and that he is just as independent as he ever was.
Posted by      Aditya T. at 1:59 PM PDT
Tags: kanye
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Semiotics of D4L's

Notice how in every rap music video, the only men that are present are the ones that rap the song. This is especially exaggerated here, where the rap group D4L is the only ones surrounded by all of the women. They are barely shown as being next to each other as a group, as this would suggest homosexuality. What is especially hilarious is how they use everything as a sexual innuendo, such as bubble gum and water guns.

P.S. Anyone else notice the trend with rappers and how they denote candy as sexual objects? lol
Posted by      Timmy J. at 1:46 PM PDT
  Robert Marquez  says:
I definitely agree with you on the fact that the rappers denote candy as sexual objects. I know of a few rap songs that fit this case : Lollipop (by Lil Wane), the one mentioned above, Sugar (by Trick Daddy), and others. I think one of the main goal of the rappers in their music video is to sell sex in order to sell their music. If they are singing along side beautiful women and partying then this could have the tendency to cause people watching the music video to do as they do.
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June 4, 2009

Consumption, Gender, and Video Game Consoles

Each of the major video game consoles sells different types of games at different target audiences. These consoles consist mainly of the Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3. The huge majority of games sold by the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 consist of violence, ranging from action-adventure to first person shooter games. Some examples include Resident Evil 5, Halo 3, Gears of War, etc. With the focus of these games consisting mostly of violent gameplay, this shows that the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 have a target audience that conforms more to masculinity. In contrast, many of the popular games sold by the Nintendo Wii are quite feminine in nature. For example, games such as Wii Fit are targeting a more feminine audience such as stay-at-home moms who want to stay in shape. Even though the Wii does sell violent games, these examples show that the Nintendo Wii is, for the most part, using gender roles to target an entirely different audience than the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3.
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June 3, 2009

Axe Commercial

So I was rifling through youtube videos and came across this Axe commercial. I thought about hwo this relates back to that discussion on the men's men, men's women, etc. and noticed some key things in the commercial. First is the guy riding the bicycle. They start from the bottom and work their way up, building a sort of expectancy. You get a regular looking guy who you'd find working in a place like staples wearing a dorky helmet. The light focuses on him from the top, illuminating him from his surroundings. Next you get a cut off body part, which was mentioned in class that objectified women. Notice how the camera is leveled at about the same height as her butt. The light radiating from the window is almost like how you see a light from the end of a tunnel since everything around the window is a neutral, bland color. Many women are turning their heads at him, but I love this one part with a woman in tight clothes (which hides nothing of her curvy body) turns from her plants with a watering hose to look at him. At the sight of him, the watering hose erupts and spurts out water. So the phallic symbol is the watering hose and the...yeah. I like how you can still see part of her body which shows that the watering hose is about her crotch area. All of the women seen are white, attractive, and feminine. They look like the men's women. The commercial ends with the guy opening his Bible which has Axe embedded within its pages and riding off. So the desecration of the Bible can be seen as how the Axe is some sort of miracle or replaces God. The Axe is clearly a phallic symbol, which becomes significant as the bottle is shown upright. It's message of "Spray more, get more, the Axe effect" has a heavy innuendo, which has the bottle "inserting" into the words. So, since the Axe bottle is a phallic symbol, spraying it is equated with the action of a guy ejecting his load. I find it kind of interesting that the man isn't buff or overly masculine. He just looks like a regular guy, he even looks kind of sensitive in his slacks and white button up shirt, almost like a woman's man. The commercial gives a feel of adventure sine the guy is riding through a neighborhood with women just gaping after him. It also doesn't give a feel of attachment. No kids, no potential rivals, and these women just look kind of lonely and desperate. The safety helmet he's wearing an also be seen as something that turns his own head into a phallic symbol, it gives him this weird mushroom like outline and the tie just kind of completes the phallic imagery. The tie, helmet, and Axe bottle are all black, which connects them. So wow, they're really playing the imagery up.
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Let Me Upgrade U

In the video Upgrade U, Beyonce plays the role of an empowered female figure, flaunting her wealth and high class status. In the lyrics of the song, she offers herself, almost selling herself as a high-priced diamond. Her sensuous looks, and provocative outfits throughout the video perpetuate the statement she is trying to make- she is not easily impressed, but if she is, then you're lucky. This can be proven by her many confident lines including- "Come harder, this won't be easy- don't doubt yourself, trust me you need me..." She presents herself as this great asset that is most desirable, and hard to obtain. Her mannerisms are taunting and seductive at times, and then she reasserts her authority by reminding viewers that she is the one in control, and that it takes a lot of time, money and effort to please her. She makes it clear that she is independent, and does not need a man to support or complete her. She is surrounded by gold throughout the video, and at one point has a key and a diamond in her mouth. Towards the end of the video, Beyonce is switches roles, and dresses in the attire of her husband, who is a popular rapper, Jay-Z. She imitates his rapping, and sits in his stance and puts on this performance from the male perspective. This can be seen as an attempt to lower her intimidating presence, so that she maintains her sexual attractiveness, by not scaring off all the men.
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June 2, 2009

Race in World of Warcraft

When I first played World of Warcraft back when it first released in 2004, there were a lot of complaints about how the Alliance would outnumber the Horde. This reminded me of the discussion we had in class, about how people who play role playing games wish to fantasize themselves about a perfect noble human knight. It is also quite significant , considering the fact that Warcraft is loosely based on J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and there has been accusations that the antagonists were racist. This could be seen in World of Warcraft, as the Horde faction's Taurens, Orcs and Trolls all live in a barren area and live in very primitive ways, which resemble the living conditions of the third world countries. The Horde class of shamans also embody this, as the idea of a shaman refers to the mystical culture of the third world countries. To further push the depiction of race, the trolls talk with a Jamaican accent. While in game, the trolls and orcs were a very unpopular race, as most Horde players were either tauren or undead. This goes back to the idea that people fantasize to be something beautiful and not ugly, which makes the Horde look very unattractive in comparison to what the Alliance has to offer.
Posted by      Timmy J. at 4:24 PM PDT
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Addressing the Double Standard Through Music

Continuing from our discussion of music videos, I found another video that fits into what we have been interpreting.

Beyonce?s ?If I Were a Boy? music video addresses the double standards and the behaviors of men in relationships. Similar to Ciara?s ?Like a Boy,? Beyonce assumes the character of the male counterpart in the music video. Beyonce is a police officer who spends all day hanging out with her co-workers, shoots guns at a shooting range, and comes home late to a spouse who longs for the attention they do not usually get. She is seen at a party flirting around with her co-worker and her spouse sees it. An argument occurs where she says to her spouse that it is not a serious matter because she is not sleeping with him. At this point the characters switch roles. The male spouse becomes the police officer and Beyonce is the lonely girlfriend.

The career choice in the video was very interesting. A police officer is an intimidating, law-enforcing figure that demands respect from the public, similar to Reggie Bush?s role in ?Like A Boy.? If the career was not masculine enough, the shooting range scene was much stronger. The gun was used as an obvious phallic symbol, as we interpreted from the Terminator 2. Themes of masculinity were clearly displayed in the video but the tone of loneliness and sadness were shown through shooting the video in black and white.

The video ends with the man taking his original place as the police officer and Beyonce taking the place of the lonely girlfriend. Ultimately, the music video sends the message that it is impossible for a woman to take the role of a man and that the double standard will still remain.
Posted by      Ugochi E. at 3:11 AM PDT
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UP Went the Movie Down Went the Toys

The newly released Pixar movie UP was having issues with marketing during its development and almost faced termination because of the problems. Toy companies and Pixar were worried about the limitations that an old man and an obese boy would put on the toys that could be released along with the movie. This was also the case with the movie Wall-E. The fact that Pixar considered cancelling the movie based on cross promotional products emphasizes the importance of making money to a company over the artistic value of the film. These events also highlight the culture of consumption that our society takes part in today. Pixar was considering not making UP for the sole purpose of its paraphernalia not being viable sources of profit. Not being able to generate alternate sources of revenue is a legitimate concern for film companies to be able to stay in business, but their loyalty to their art form and consumers should take precident over profit. This issue of consumption also calls into question the ethics of media corporations. Such an issues, as whether or not the choice to let fast food industries sponsor the movie, reveal conflicts of interest within films and the film industry. Some of Pixar?s movies are actually produced with the companies? concern for your health in mind, while others bear in mind only the issue of revenue from a movie, with a positive health message taking a backseat. The problem is there is no way to tell, which companies are the ethical ones. Even though we live in a society that is driven by consumption, corporations should be held to an standard of ethics.
Posted by      Jonathan S. at 12:55 AM PDT
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50 Cent is Ghetto Fabulous!

Rappers have romanticized the ghetto lifestyle and glorified the gangster image, both of which have become stereotypical images associated with African American culture. 50 Cent, a famous African American rapper from low-income, inner-city upbringings, is one such example of this imagery. Most pictures of him show off typical masculine traits such as being buff, violent, uncaring, and independent. For example, he was glorified as being authentic and hardcore when he was shot 9 times, even though this was an incredibly violent action. He also asserts his masculinity not care because he views women as pleasure objects like in the music video of his song ?The Candy Shop.? He fuses such cross-cultural ideas of ?manliness? with the gangster image. The gangster image that has been popularized in the media is a very tough, thuggish, violent, emotionless person with countless money and material possessions. He emphasizes his gangster image by always having a gun in his hand like in the posters for his videogame 50 Cent: Bulletproof. He also shows a very glamorized sense of the gangster lifestyle by always having lavish things with a lot of women around him. By doing this he is linking masculinity to this romanticized view of the ghetto lifestyle. He glorifies the ghetto lifestyle much like other rappers by incorporating infinite consumption with the freedom to do anything you want. This has become an iconic symbol for males everywhere, but people assume it is mostly centered in the black community. This blend of consumerism, and gender-defining stereotypes helped 50 Cent glamorize a false perception of a gangster lifestyle, which effects our perceptions of certain ethnic groups.
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June 1, 2009

Left 4 Dead, Race, and Gender

Some warning, if you guys decide to watch it's a little violent. If you get scared of horror themed things, don't watch.

So I never really thought about the things I watched before, but after being in this class I started to think about things in our culture and some things I passively accepted before. For example, the above link leads you to the trailer of one of my (currently) favorite games, L4D. Basically the idea is this, the zombie apocalypse has come and four survivors are desperately trying to get to safety. You go from point A to point B as best you can while defending and fighting against those who are infected. Of course, there are the normal zombies (which can run and flank you) and the special infected which you have to watch out for. When I first saw the trailer for this game I just thought it advertised the game and gave you some basic ideas, such as what certain infected did and what to watch out for. Then I looked at it the way this class told me to.

I recognized some basic elements in other media in terms of gender roles and race. Bill (old war vet) leads the way as Zoey (college girl) takes the rear. Already the female character is pushed to the back as the men take the lead. Zoey continues to let the men take the lead as she acts as the support. Notice how she is always using pistols, guns being common phallic symbols. Her use of the small guns puts her in a position of inferiority. Bill warns her of danger as she doesn't notice anything amiss. This signifies that she is incapable and needs a man to protect her. The first person to make a mistake is the black guy, Louis. Luckily he is able to fix it by killing the witch, which shows that he is at least capable unlike Zoey. The uzi he uses is bigger than Zoey's pistols, but is smaller than the guns handled by the white males, his phallic symbol is lacking in comparison to the other two. Francis (white biker) is also competent as he saves his fellow survivors. He's masculine, he uses a shot gun (sometimes with one hand) and has huge biceps. Louis makes a second mistake by running out and isolating himself from the others. Zoey asserts herself by saving him, but while she uses two pistols, one shot from Louis's single pistol is enough to finish off the threat. The woman is unable to do a man's job and is only able to support him. That single shot from Louis, however, sets off a car alarm and alerts the horde of zombies, Louis's third mistake. When the survivors go back to back, Francis is the one most prominently shown, the most healthy white male. Louis asks Bill for orders when they face a zombie bigger and more dangerous than the rest. The oldest white male has power to lead the group since he is the most experienced and wise. As they run Zoey acts as support, though her efforts seem mostly futile. She loses one of her pistols, so she is further reduced in power and has to rely on the strongest white man to save her from falling to her death. The trailer ends as we see them from above, surrounded by infected.

The men are often shown in darkness while Zoey is shown with light shining on her. Her jacket is pinkish red, a feminine color. Her clothes are tight fitting and her hair is in a cute little pony tail. Even in this zombie infested world she is tailored to be eye pleasing for the men. She cannot take the lead and can only act as support. All of the warnings the trailer shows to the gamers has Louis making mistakes. Don't startle the witch, don't stray from the group, don't shoot cars with alarms. The black guy is shown as incompetent at times, though always more powerful than the woman, Zoey.

Even in this game trailer the characters act in the roles assigned to them by our culture, following the values set by a society dominated by white males. It follows the formula seen in much of the media today. Ironically, it doesn't matter which character you play as they are all capable of doing the same things. They are only different on the outside, their capabilities depend on the player. I didn't notice this the first time I saw the trailer or even the couple of times after that. But I noticed after I was shown what to look for. It really is there, even if we don't realize it.
Posted by      Kathie N. at 11:10 PM PDT
Tags: 4, dead, gender, l4d, left, race
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Terminator Salvation and Gender Roles

Over the last weekend, I had the opportunity to see Terminator Salvation. Even though I thought that the movie was the worst out of the terminator series, there were definitely some important examples showing gender roles at work. During the film, there was one point where a female pilot named Blair joins up with Marcus Wright, who is half human, half machine. While on their journey, there is a scene where Marcus leaves to go look for supplies, while Blair is left alone. A few strangers then come up to harass Blair, and she ends up fighting them. However, she is not able to fight them off by herself, and eventually Marcus shows up and beats them all. This is a classic example of a ?damsel in distress,? and it shows how masculinity succeeded whereas femininity failed.

However, there is another interesting scene in the film that I think reverses gender roles. When Marcus gets captured by the resistance and is unable to escape, Blair ends up rescuing him and helping him escape from the resistance. I found this scene interesting because it showed that one of the main male characters relied on a female character to get the job done. This goes against the ?traditional? masculinity, and is essentially a reversed form of the ?damsel in distress,? where the damsel is the male who gets rescued.
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Juno's Consumerism and Gender Bias

Juno is supposed to be an Indie movie that displays the ideals of counterculture. It has a heroine that is a strong independent woman. It is also supposed to be an artsy film without any consumerism involved like the ideals of counterculture. Counterculture is supposed to embody the movement of ?stickin? it to the man? (i.e. going against the man). It is a movement that is not to be defined such mainstream activities as consumption of popular products including music or clothing. Juno differs from the mainstream in the sense that Juno has a lot of the typical male characteristics, such as being assertive and independent. She does, however, show stereotypical female characteristic of being dependent on a man, at the end of the movie when she needs her significant other in order to complete her. The advertisement poster for the movie also portrays Juno with her man, even though her man did not play a very big role in the movie. Another problem with Juno is that it created a mainstream culture within counterculture. It was released with much ado or fanfare as a small film with little known or no-name actors, but it became one of the most well-known and well-liked movies of the year. It was even nominated for several awards. The music within the movie became popular with the growing fan base of the film, the soundtrack becoming highly soughtafter, etc. The fashion from the movie was also popularized. Big clothing companies were starting to make clothes based on hipster trends, and becoming very successful companies like American Apparel. Ironically, people were defining themselves through consumerism, even though they were supposed to be praising something that was against typical consumerism. The very act of the movie becoming a mainstream phenomenon with all the fanfare surrounding its huge popularity went against the counterculture ideals Juno was trying to espouse. Juno embodies the traditional ideas of consumerism of products, even though it has been repackaged as a new culture of going against the man.
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