Monday, April 18, 2011

Extended Comments: Twilight directed by Catherine Hardwicke

Extended Comments:
Ron discusses in his blog the stages of teenagers; “Becoming” and “The Storm.” He mentions throughout the film the character of Bella portrays some of the characteristics of Raby’s teenager. First off, Raby’s “Becoming.”  As Ron states, Bella and her parents are a good example.  This rebellion she portrays is actually a mask to help her parents. She knows her mom loves this new guy and that she is really just in the way, and when she gets angry with her father and leaves it is to protect him from the vampire.  Although, her overall quite, keep to herself, demeanor toward her father and others in general  is very conventional to teenage behavior.  Like Raby says they are finding out who they are. Becoming is a time of self identity that forces the teenagers, such as the character of Bella to seem rebellious. “they assume that all teenagers rebel just because this is the age when we start to become our own person’ (Raby). This is certainly apparent with Bella. She is figuring out who she is and where she fits in. She doesn’t fit in at school, she feels out of place, she doesn’t like to be around too many people, hence the prom and social situations.  Obviously her biggest issue of self identity is the fact that she wants to become a vampire. This is definitely a sign of self discovery.

“The Storm,” Bella’s character can also fit into this category. Raby describes it as “ahistorical understanding of adolescence in which teens are inherently inclined toward experimentation, risk taking and uncertainty.”  Bella completely puts herself at risk by choosing to be with Edward. Although he tries to convince her to move she decides she can not live with out him. She says “I want you always” knowing that she would have to give up her life as a mortal to be with him. She is uncertain of the future but as long as she is with him it doesn’t matter. She not only puts herself at risk but she puts her mom and dad’s lives at risk also.

This brings me to two other points that Ron doesn’t bring up in his blog. Firstly, Bella as the good girl. Last weeks reading “How Being a Good Girl Can Be Bad for Girls” the authors discussed the good girl and the bad girl. In the third film Eclipse Edward asks Bella to marry him, she replies “People will think I’m knocked up.” Bella is obviously worried about her good girl status. This was surprising to me considering her love and devotion for Edward.
Secondly, the choices Bella makes. As opposed to Alice and Atalanta, Bella conforms to the ideology that women need a man to survive. Edward is a perfect example of the male, ( SCWAMP ). “The common belief is US culture is that anything associated with the feminine is weak, while masculine traits are deemed stronger and more valuable to society” (Grinner). Edward, although a vampire, is the protector, the fixer, the everything in Bella’s life. Her choice is to give up her whole life to be with Edward. Her future; college, exploring, and family is not thought of because her value is how she feels when she is with Edward. She is still a young girl but thinks she has found happiness.
There is an interesting article how media represents and therefore influences teenage girls to want boyfriends. Twilight is one of them.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Quotes: Tolman and Higgens; Alice in Wonderland; Atalanta

“How Being a Good Girl can be Bad for Girls” by Toman and Higgins.
Alice in Wonderland  and “Atlanta”
“The cultural anxiety precipitated by unbounded female sexuality is perhaps most apparent with regard to adolescent girls.  Coming under scrutiny from across the political spectrum, girls’ sexuality has been deemed threatening either to girls themselves (potentially resulting in rape, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy), or to society (as evidenced by the single mother, school dropout, welfare dependent). Although none of these issues is limited to teenage girls, all frequently arise in that context because of society’s sense of entitlement, or indeed, obligation, to regulate teen sexuality” (Tolman).
Tolman argues that adolescent females do not fit into the “good” girl category. Teenage girls are more in touch with their own sexuality that they do not restrict how they feel and for many,  how it effects the male. This behavior is threatening because for a girl to be aware of your sexuality and to not be afraid to reveal it is seen as bad. The “bad” girl appears and girls are seen as “wanting” it. The double standard applies here because “boys will be boys’ but when a girl is seen a provocative it opens up society’s views of them as being promiscuous and a tease.  AS usually, the burden always seems to fall on the women; it wasn’t rape because you teased him and wanted it, you are pregnant because you chose to have sex. 
This reminds me of Grinner’s “Hip-Hop Sees No Color” when she discusses  SCWAMP  through the film Save The Last Dance.  “Her body represents sex, as in one scene where she  “steals”  Derrick from Sara on the dance floor and begins dancing in a sexually explicit and provocative way in contrast to Sara’s innocent movement” (Grinner).  Although this fits into the “Good girl, bad girl” category also, I want to emphasize  Nikke’s  body language . This may certainly be seen as “threatening” behavior that Tolman discusses in his text.  If she were to be raped that night the prosecutor would most likely bring up her dancing as sexual behavior.

“Perhaps more than any other group of men, teenage boys are assumed to be least in control of their sexuality.  The responsibility for making sexual choices, therefore, falls to their partners, usually teenage girls, yet these “Choices” are to be enacted through passivity rather than agency. Girls who attain good girlhood are at constant risk of becoming bad girls if they fail in their obligation to regulate  their own sexual behavior and that of their partners”(Tolman).
Here Tolman discusses the fact that boys cannot control their sexual urges, thus making it the girls responsibility to say yes or no. However, the choices the girls make usually tend to let the boy have control, as opposed to the girl being in control to say yes.. if she wants to. Although saying yes and succumbing to their sexual desires puts them into the bad girl category.  It is a no win for the girl. Tolman goes on to discuss the fact that many teenage girls use their sexuality to please the male.
This is unfortunate but true. Women and girls,  from the beginning of time have always wanted to please their man, as opposed to a man pleasing a woman. This is not just for sex, but when it comes to taking care of others. It has always been the job of the women.
“Teenage girls interviewed in the Sentinel story explained their peers’ behavior in terms of girls giving boys what the boys wanted. One suggested that “sometimes girls, in order to get certain guys, will do anything the guy wants. And that includes sex” (Tolman).
This statement suggests that girls want a boy more than they value their own sense of self and body. Girls are also much more aware of what their sexuality portrays and what their sexuality arouses from their partner or men (boys) in general.  Many use their sexuality  it as a tool as opposed as pleasure for themselves.

Perhaps here I can connect “Atalanta”  and “Alice in Wonderland.” Both Atalanta and Alice go against this behavior. Although neither one of them have the sexual qualities that Tolman brings up on his text, both females seem to fit into the “good girl “ category as they refrain from “getting their man” by  arousing them with their sexuality. Most importantly  Alice and Atalanta do not fit into the ideology that a woman needs a man and the male is of dominance. They are confident and that stereotype is exactly what they are not. They go out to experience the world or at the very least, they respect and act upon their own needs and desires. If Alice were portrayed as more sexual I am sure she would have acted on her desires without hesitation or the thought of what people may think.  
When thinking about Christianson’s “Myths that Bind Us” I was reminded of the “Secret education” he discussed. It is interesting that Alice in Wonderland is a Disney film unlike most of the other films Disney films like Cinderella, Snow  White and the Seven Dwarfs, and The Little Mermaid all have female heroines who focus on who they will marry as it is the most important thing in their life. In the end, they get their man and live happily ever after. They do not need anything else. They represent to the viewers (mostly young kids) that a female’s worth is the man at the end. However, Alice is portrayed as a educated, dominant female who puts any desire for a man aside to fulfill her own destiny. The vidoe has many of Disney's female leads waiting and wanting thier man.

Something to think about: Don't we all want soemone to love in the end?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Another Final Project Idea

After reading some other ideas I too, like Alexis and Ron, also thought that it would be interesting to compare two films or TV shows from when I grew up to the present (yes, this is a popular idea) but I would like to get the teenagers reaction. But I would like to see if teenagers have changed so much that they don't enjoy the films of today, that are much more explicit, and supposedly geared toward this age group. Does a film have to have sex, drugs, and/or violence in it?  Do we just think that our teenagers like this stuff as opposed to a film that focuses more of a good theme?  It would be fun to give out questionnaires and see what the response is. What is in in the text that attracts the teen?

Risky Business/ Fame/Dirty Dancing/ 16 Candles vs. Save the Last Dance

This can also be done with TV shows.  Brady Bunch, or The Cosby Show vs. current TV shows.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Final Project Ideas..

Well I am always interested in teenagers and technology. Not how they are represented but how teenagers use technology and how it effects their learning, their brains, and their social lives. I am not sure if this fits into the final project category though. Often the media does have a negative portrayal these "digital natives" as to many parents. However, is all this technology bad for our teenagers? Perhaps it is good for their brains but bad for their communications skills, I don't know but I did a little research and found many different  opinions and research that has been done on this subject. These videos are very interesting. Watch the "Teens Brains on Technology "until the end. The father suggests something about technology and teaching that is very interesting.

The first idea that I thought about was to write a hip-hop song/ rap/ slam poem. Whatever it turns out to be, but preferably with a beat to it.  I though it would be fun to write the lyrics about the media's representation of teenagers. I thought I could mix it with lyrics that represent real teenagers. Once the lyrics are written I woul have my studetns sing the words while I video tape it.  Challenging but fun!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Relection: "Colonialism is the Lens and Hip-Hop is the MIrror"

“Colonialism is the Lens and Hip-Hop is the Mirror”
by Jared A. Ball Ph.D


     The idea of Hip Hop being seen as remotely colonialized, or having a “poor/inaccurate representation” as Ball states, at first seemed inaccurate to me. We are talking about Hip-Hop; this genre of music is heard all over now. My students in EP High certainly listen to it, and my son and his friends from the SCWAAP area of Barrington, listen to the ever popular lyrics. I, too have my favorites. So when reading the article through the perspective of Ball I didn’t quite get it, until I realized how I was, and in some aspect still am, a part of the “Colonialism” of Hip-Hop.
     In ever really gave a Hip-Hop a try. I am talking about years ago, before kids, I had a prejudice view of Hip-Hop music. Prejudice is ignorance so I was ignorant. I didn’t really listen to it or its lyrics. Although, in the 80’s when Rap or Hip-hop (please ignore my ignorance here, I know there is a difference) started to become popular I really enjoyed it. It was the days of  MC Hammer and The Sugar Hill Gang.  I loved the beat and the lyrics. They were fun to listen to and Roller skate to (roller skating was big in the 80’s). So in my early 20’s I did listen to whatever was on the radio and Rap and Hip-Hop were played. Then something happened, I am not sure what it was but I remember Rap and Hip- Hop getting a bad “rap.” The lyrics were no longer fun and enjoyable but they seemed to take on a message that many wanted to ignore. Parents didn’t want their kids listening to it and the offensive words and messages were too strong. I also felt like I didn’t want to listen to words about jail, and guns, and drugs, and poverty.  Rappers were getting shot and I think this is when the “Colonialism” may have started. Again, this is my prejudice view  because I know there were some very inspirational and wonderful lyrics from the music, but no one was hearing it. Who do we blame for that? I can go back to the text here with Ball’s words;” “the people,” “the artists,” “radio stations,” or “record labels.””
     As a high school teacher and a parent of teenagers I have had no choice but to listen to Hip-Hop and Rap. My inaccurate view of this music and its artists has changed dramatically. I think about Ball’s frustration at the inability for many to be exposed to this genre. Although I do believe that the venues may be scarce, the availability is not. Nowadays, our ability to listen to anything, and being exposed to all genres of music is astounding.(I am still shocked that some of my students didn’t know who John Lennon was) The radio is something entirely different from  when I was a kid; there is satellite radio, I tunes, computers, and the numerous channels on digital TV. Hip-hop is here and it can be heard. I often find myself in the car hitting one of the pre set stations that my son set and listening to some Hip-Hop. Exposure is the key to understanding.
     To me, Hip-Hop seems to be ruling the airwaves. Maybe it is because that is what is around me.  Recently I have had a bigger revelation and respect for this genre of music. I realize that words are words. Some words hit harder than others. When I say hit harder I mean they make the listener feel emotion. I recently started listening to Slam Poetry. This opened up my eyes to words; the spoken word. Without the music, all songs are words, saying something about society, life, love, or feelings. They make us feel; they make us cry or laugh. They make us angry or melancholy. John Lennon, Eminem, and Daniel Beaty all have something to say. They just all say it with a different tune. We as a society need to have a diversity of words in our vocabulary.
To Think about:  How can we expose people to all types of music?
I have included Daniel Beaty’s “Knock Knock” slam. If you have never heard it then take a look. It is very powerful

Monday, March 21, 2011

GLEE : Connections to Christensen and Grinner

Grinner’s SCWAMP is apparent ideology in the television show GLEE.  Straightness is the most obvious dominance in this school with the exception of the one Gay student. However, the episode “Never Been Kissed” centers around the students hardships for being who his is. He is bullied by the jock, who is Gay but cannot and will not come out. Besides this young man, the characters are predominately straight. Christianity – This is apparent in Furt when there is a Catholic marriage, giving the impression that most of the people are Christian. Whiteness is definitely the dominant ideology here. I was looking for African American and minority characters but I found just a few. The one black girl I noticed was heavy set. Able-Bodieness, with the exception of the wheel chair boy. I didn’t notice anyone with special needs, or impairments. Male: Well this is high up on the dominance ladder. The male is truly more valued as the dominant ideology, at least in the episodes I watched. The male teacher who seems to fix everything, and the boy who just got out of reform school who  is idolized by the cheerleaders while he treats them like lower class citizens. The male masculinity with the connotations to sex is a message in the episode also. So, yes SHWAMP has its place in GLEE. However, that is , I think if one is analyzing it. This is where Christensen is relevant. The underlying message that women are inferior to men is in the episode “Never Been Kissed.” Just as Christensen discusses the “secret education” that kids are getting from cartoons, so are kids getting from Glee.  An education that  Gay is a bad thing because the Gay kid gets hit and bullied. Another message that is coming from Glee is that women need men to feel good. For instance, when the teacher kisses the Beast and suddenly everything is OK. Also, the cheerleaders who are degraded . There is a lot of “secret education” one can get from this show if one looks for it.
Overall I think that the theme of the show is the most relevant to the viewer. Just think , this media is giving people the opportunity to experience this diversity. When I was a kid one would never see  a kid in a wheel chair as one of the main characters, nor did we see a gay person or many African Americans. Today, we see it all and that is good. I think the overall message that it is OK to be gay, one can be accepted and respected if they are in a wheelchair and that bullying is wrong and hurting someone’s feelings is wrong.  Hopefully it is the theme of the show that viewers will latch on to and take away with them.
Glee reminds me of the film Grease.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Extra comment with links regarding SCWAMP

 Langston Hughes is one of my favorite poets. I enjoy reading poems written by African Americans during the Harlem Renessaince because these poems are rich with culture and history. Many of the poems convey a message of hope and dreams of the African American and many convey the struggle through at time of oppression and segregation.  SCWAMP was very visible back then, as it is now. We now have the media in which young America can veiw this ideology. This ideology is inferred in so much of the literature and poetry. I have posted a few links below.  One of my favorite poems is "I, Too" by Hughes

Friday, February 25, 2011

Wesch, "From Knowledgable to Knowledge-able: Learning in New Media Environments"

"From Knowledgable to Knowledge-able: Learning in New Media Environments" by Michael Wesch


Learning in new media environments is absolutely the epitome of what our educational institutions need to understand and implement in classrooms across America. However, what is equally important,  and Wesch does consider this in his article, is teaching in the new media environments.  Wesch states “As we  increasingly move toward an environment of instant and infinite information, it becomes less important for students to know, memorize, or recall information, and more important for them to be able to find, sort, analyze, share, discuss, critique, and create information.”  Teaching and learning , is changing its form, and students of today are ready for the shift to take place.  We see it slowly happening in the college classrooms but the high school classrooms are still archaic. The teacher lectures, the students take notes, and then there is a test on the notes.  This learning through technology is not going away. Students have instant information at their fingertips and it might be said that many, if not most, students are more knowledgeable then their teachers when it comes to this  important and life changing venue. Wesch argues that “This is a social revolution, not a technological one, and its most revolutionary aspect may the ways in which it empowers us to rethink education and the teacher-student relationship in an almost limitless variety of ways. “ Technology is not going away and young people are very savy with it, why not tap into this passion and intriquing power the youth of today have aquired in this “new” world of information. I say “why not” but we must engage in this ever changing vast of knowledgeable.
Wesch understands the value in transforming the classroom into a innovated, knowledge- able learning and teaching atmosphere because students are tuning out.   This is  “the crisis of significance.” Educators need to bring “relevance back into education.” In the online article “How Web-Savvy Edupunks Are Transforming American Higher Education” by Anya Kamenetz, she touches on an even more thought of urgency.,0&partner=rss%23
Her article claims that if we, as a society do not do something about the lack of technology in the classroom that professors will be out of a job. Online colleges will take over. “"If universities can't find the will to innovate and adapt to changes in the world around them," professor David Wiley of Brigham Young University has written, "universities will be irrelevant by 2020." Although for  many of us, the traditional college campus is still a prominent ideal, but Professor Wiely is not far off. Today there are many online colleges offering college classes right from the comfort of our own home. Realistically these online classes were first designed for the continuing educator.  Mom and dad’s took advantage of this new educational venue because they need to earn a higher degree, or earn thier bachelor’s degree to increase their salary to provide for their families. Today, these online colleges are a haven for all who seek an education. In the New York Times online “Room For Debate” blog articles, many discuss this new form of education. Many agree with Wesch that it is a crisis of significance. Greg Von Lehman states in his article “As Good as Classroom Lessons”  that there is rise in online education. “UMUC offers more than 100 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and certificates fully online. The university has approximately 90,000 students worldwide.”  He also confirms that it is not just the working class who is seeking this technology education, it is everyone who wants to be educated.” This should get many educators worried.  
Points to Share:  Are the youth of today getting a quality education online?  Can our instructors be replaced by screens? Is personal interaction a thing of the past?

Grinner "Hip-Hop See No Color"

“Hip –Hop Sees No Color ” by Leslie Grinner
This author argues that the media brings out dominant ideologies which reinforce stereotypes and racism.. Grinner, skillfully has come up with an acronym for these specific ideologies called SCWAMP, which stands for Straight, Christian, White, Able-bodied, Male, and Property holding. In this specific article she is referring to a movie called Save the Last Dance.  Grinner claims that the film secretly and skillfully reinforces white America.  AS she states in her article, “Though it claims opposition  to white supremacy, Save the Last Dance actually reinforces whiteness as a standard of superiority.  While the cast of the film  is predominantly Black, the ways in which Blacks and whites are coded indicate that whiteness is considered more valuable throughout the film.  The film defines Blackness in a certain way, with poverty, drug abuse, and violence at its core” (184).   Grinner argues that this film, like many Hollywood films, sets up a good plot, and most people watching this film will see the theme as a young person reaching the American dream when it fact the undertone is very racial and stereotypical and fits into the SSHWAMP ideology perfectly, she states ‘But there’s something else-an invisible set of ideals that guides this film and others.  We need to make these ideals visible, and in doing so we can become a more media-literate population”(181).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Raby, "A Tangle of Discourses: Girls Negotiating Adolescence" By Raby

“A Tangle of Discourses: Girls Negotiating Adolescence” by Rebecca Raby
As a mother of an 18yr. old son it was exciting as a parent to identify with the her “stages” of adolescence; The Storm, Becoming, At- Risk, Social Problem, and Pleasurable Comsumption. With every discourse discussed I found myself self reflecting on my son’s teenage years.  Although Raby’s   research focused on girls, there is certainly evidence to say that her discourses are stages  of all  teenagers.  My son certainly went through all of those stages, some greater than others.  My favorite stage was the “The Storm.” It was in this stage where he learned so much about himself and I learned so much about my son, and myself.
When Jerry, my son, was 11 we moved as a result of a divorce.  Jerry took everything in stride.  He was, and is, a very laid back person. Up until high school he was a straight A student . He had friends, (not a lot but some close friends) and he was, and is, very polite. I am not just saying this because he is my son, but he was the “perfect kid.”  I remember the time in 10th grade when Jerry started to change ; not physically but his ideals changed, his motivation to be a straight A student changed, and the way he dressed changed.  This all happened simultaneously.  Many friends of mine told me this was his way of rebelling.  I never thought of him rebelling, I thought of my son figuring out who he is. Just as Raby states in her text “They assume that all teenagers rebel just because this is the age when we start to become our own person” (433).   One example of Jerry’s “rebellion slash finding himself is when he was fifteen. He was raised Catholic and spent years going to CCD classes. All of a sudden he decided, just weeks before his confirmation, that he wasn’t sure about God and didn’t want to make his sacrament. I begged him to just go through the motions, but he would not. I respect him now for his decision.
 In a school of predominately white upper class kids, Jerry needed to venture out of the norm. He started to do the “Gothic thing.” He wore black , with chains hanging from his pants and black eyeliner and black fingernail polish.  MY friends were so surprised that I “allowed” him to dress this way.   He was still a very polite kid who was still doing well in school (A’s turned into B’s).  My son just needed to experiment. I was happy his experiments didn’t involve alcohol and drugs. I knew this to be just a stage in his life. Others were not so sure.  I will never forget my friend telling me that I should make him wear “regular “clothes and I should never allow him to wear makeup.  I looked him in the eye and said” I do not want a cookie cutter kid.” This Gothic stage lasted for about 8 months. He slowly started to change and evolve into who his is, not who society thinks he should be. He has turned out to be a confident, secure young man who I am extremely proud of. He is in his first year at the Art Institute in Boston and doing great!
Raby’s text was such an eye opener for me because it just confirmed what I knew to be right.  “The Storm” molded into “Becoming” which transferred to “At-Risk”, which thankfully was the least worrisome stage for me as a parent but I think this stage is happening now.  Now that he is on his own and trying new things .  These stages, like Raby states, are “interweaving.” They work off of each other.  I am not convinced that the order is correct but as I reflect back I am happy and relieved that my son has gone through most of them with flying colors.
Point to Share - Do you think teenagers go through these stages in the order Raby states?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Christensen's "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us"

“Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us”  by Linda Christensen
In Christensen’s article “Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us,” she argues that our society, especially the young, are persuaded and culturally corrupted by the media’s representation of specific stereotypes.
Christensen makes a strong point that the media gives a “secret education” to our children.  This education of stereotyping and the delivery of unhealthy messages that the media is permeating into young minds starts very early and confirms the ‘myth” about people who are “different. ”  As much as we, as society, want to ignore this truth , and “stay ignorant about them and happy” we must understand that the role of women, men, people of color, and  heavy people  are blatantly being negatively  depicted  in all forms of the media.  Shockingly, even in the innocent venue of the cartoons our young kids watch.  Cartoons like Daffy Duck, who portray women as sexy, voluptuous characters to “look” at, and in Popeye in which Christiansen recalls an episode that depicts Popeye dragging Olive Oyl   through the desert by a dog collar.  She argues that this representation disrespects women and encourages racism.  Other venues include Disney movies that are notorious for portraying white America as the heroes and heroines. Her articles also discusses that young people, especially young girls, are given a distorted view of reality as a result of the media’s influence.  This leads to unhealthy messages and prejudice views and conceptions.  Two specific distorted myths: “Happiness means getting a man, and transformation from wretched condition can be achieved through consumption, in their case, through new closes and new hairstyle.”  These myths add to the unrealistic idea of happiness.
Discussion Point:  In what ways is parental influence to blame for the "Myths that Bind Us."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Who I am

Hi ,
I am very excited to continue my graduate courses at RIC.  I am a high school English teacher at East Providence High School.  I teach 10 and 12th graders. I love it.  It has been 4 years since my last college class but I am very excited.  I have two great boys; Jerry, who in his first year in college in Boston and .Quinn , who is in 8th grade.
My biggest challenge for this course I think will be learning the different technology, such as the blooging, but it will be great to learn it and become more tech. savy.