Media & Identity lecture 1 from feminism to post-feminism Cláudia Gabriela Marques Vieira See the option page on Media2 From the traditional feminist critique of media representations to post-feminism Media as a battleground over representations of gender Is it important? Critics Germaine Greer in The Whole Woman (1999): “Every woman knows that, regardless of her other achievements, she is a failure if she is not beautiful... The UK beauty industry takes £8.9 billion a year out of women‟s pockets. Magazines financed by the beauty industry teach little girls that they need make-up and train them to use it, so establishing their lifelong reliance on beauty products…” Critics Anthony Cortese in Provocateur (1999): “The exemplary female prototype in advertising, regardless of product or service, displays youth (no lines or wrinkles), good looks, sexual seductiveness, and perfection (no scars, blemishes, or even pores). The perfect provocateur is not human; rather, she is a form and hollow shell representing a female figure. Accepted attractiveness is her only attribute. She is slender, typically tall and long-legged.” Contemporary concerns - women “The image and representation of women and girls in the media has long been a subject of concern. Research shows that there are many fewer females than males in almost all forms of mainstream media and those who do appear are often portrayed in very stereotypical ways. “In everything from advertising, television programming, newspaper and magazines, to comic books, popular music, film and video games, women and girls are more likely to be shown: in the home, performing domestic chores such as laundry or cooking; as sex objects who exist primarily to service men; as victims who can't protect themselves and are the natural recipients of beatings, harassment, sexual assault and murder. Mediawatch (Canada division) at http://www.mediawatch.ca/medialiteracy.html Contemporary concerns - men …“Men and boys are also stereotyped by the media. From GI Joe to Rambo, masculinity is often associated with machismo, independence, competition, emotional detachment, aggression and violence. Despite the fact that men have considerably more economic and political power in society than women, these trends - although different from those which affect women and girls - are very damaging to boys. Mediawatch (Canada division) at http://www.mediawatch.ca/medialiteracy.html From the MediaWatch „Hall of Shame‟… http://www.mediawatch.com/gallery Mediawatch comment: “Dehumanized unattainable looking dolls” Mediawatch comment: “La Perla ad with dog-like leash” Mediawatch comment: “Video games teaching hatred of women and girls” Mediawatch comment: “Vuitton's dead woman” Mediawatch comment: “Notice how many women are in supine position” Comment on Mediawatch site: “I‟m a very sexual female, and even I find this offensive to women. We are not submissive dogs. ” Mediawatch comment: “PeTA doesn't believe in the ethical treatment of women. Animals are more important than women's dignity. Boycott PeTA!” Mediawatch comment: “PeTA doesn't believe in the ethical treatment of women. Animals are more important than women's dignity. Boycott PeTA!” PETA: ‗―All animals have the same parts—have a heart, go vegetarian.‖ That is the message of PETA‘s ad starring Traci Bingham, the curvaceous vegetarian actor, known to TV viewers from Baywatch, Comedy Central‘s Strip Mall, and variety of other shows on BET and MTV. The sexy ad encourages people to view animals as something other than walking entrées.‘ http://www.mediawatch.ca/imagegallery.html Also… ―It's sexy and eye-catching‖, says Janet Hogan, 42, co-creative director of the advertising agency Streamline, who created the campaign for her client Kolotex. ―Women love the ballsiness of it.‖ – Sydney Morning Herald, April 13, 2002 [http://www.wilsonsalmanac.com/strategy.html] A few current / recent movie posters… Marjorie Rosen (1973) Popcorn Venus: Avon Books ‗…the Cinema Woman is a Popcorn Venus, a delectable but insubstantial Hybrid of cultural distortions.‘ (10). E. Ann Kaplan (1983)Women and Film: Both sides of the camera: Methuen ‗In Hollywood films…women are refused ultimately a voice, a discourse, And their desire is subjected to male desire. They live out silent Frustrated lives, or, if they resist their placing, sacrifice their lives for their daring.‘(7-8). Susan Faludi (1991) Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women Such films as Fatal Attraction (1987) were part of a wider backlash against women‘s liberation and women‘s careers, stretching throughout pop media. Sara-Jane Finlay, ‗If You‘ve Got a Vagina and an Attitude, that‘s a Deadly Combination‘, Sexualities, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2005 ‗a consideration of the heterosexual identities and the heterosexual sexual practice (heterosex)…can offer opportunities for the disruption of hegemonic heteronormativity…Basic Instinct…displays alternative forms of feminine sexuality, but ultimately returns to a publicly sanctioned form of heterosexual identity. [Yet] heterosex, heterosexuality and feminism incompletely conforms to a heteronormative framing, offering space for the viewer to possibly reassess sex and heterosexuality‘ (49). POSTMODERN FEMINISM(S) postmodern as a de-categorizing term for very specific kinds of feminisms Imelda Whelehan (1995) Modern Feminist Thought (N.Y. Uni Press) postmodern feminisms produce their own ‘meta-narrative[s] of gender’ (195) these meta-narratives attempt to break away from the „trapp[ing] of feminists in ethno/heterocentric truth claims, which no longer have any currency in a postmodern world‟ (ibid.) feminism one of the ‘flawed grand-narratives of modernity’ (Featherstone, in Whelehan 1995: 195) postmodern feminist meta-narratives attempt to escape the reiteration of the binarism The Avengers TV series (Sydney Newman, ITV) :: courtesy: CANAL + IMAGE UK (1961-9) The Avengers (‘67-’68) on TV thu 17 nov :: 7pm :: BBC 4 “It was only the sci-fi, surreally comic genre of The Avengers that prevented most men from glimpsing the terrible truth: that the enigmatic, leather-clad Mrs Peel was a femme fatale of the Pop Art order. The Peel appeal lay in her maturity, in the combination of athleticism, ruthlessness and cool intellect which had her dispensing verbal and physical karate chops without so much as a flinch of guilt. She was the Bond girl with a first-class brain and a 24-carat steely blitheness” Alvarez, Maria Feminist icon in a catsuit, New Statesman, 14 August 1998 AMBIGUITY AND SELF-INVENTION “Mrs Peel enjoyed the kind of freedom to swap her bourgeois exterior for more dangerous and exciting roles at the flick of a switch in her blue Lotus. One minute she was a dancing girl in a harem, the next she was in Restoration England. Here was Woolf's Orlando for the swinging sixties: postmodern self- invention” Alvarez, Maria Feminist icon in a catsuit, New Statesman, 14 August 1998 BBC, How Emma Peel (and Steed) influenced the X Files writers, video interview with Frank Spotnitz, writer/executive producer, X Files “It's a typical starlet's career. She starts out in video-games, one cult success leading to a number of sequels. Then the media get hold of her - Time magazine, Newsweek, The Face. Pretty soon there's a string of look-alikes, websites, some with supposed nudie pictures, soft drink commercials, even feature films. Only this starlet doesn't really exist. This is the story of her non-existance” 'History', Croft Central, eidos.net BIMODAL APPEAL "There was something refreshing about looking at the screen and seeing myself as a woman. Even if I was performing tasks that were a bit unrealistic… I still felt like, Hey, this is a representation of me, as myself, as a woman. In a game. How long have we waited for that?” Nikki Douglas, in Cassell and Jenkins (1999) From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games. London; N.Y.: MIT Jacques Lacan there is a vast difference (and not just in size) between the common or garden anatomical penis and the symbolic phallus. The latter stands for a mythical virility or power. And as such its fetishizing symbolism can be transferred to chocolate bars, post office towers or women cited in, Alvarez, Maria Feminist icon in a catsuit, New Statesman, 14 August 1998 Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (Simon West, 2001) :: courtesy: www.tombraidermovie.com Lara Croft wallpaper :: courtesy: www.deskpaper.com Grant Morrison, Seven Soldiers: The Bulleteer #1 (OF 4) (Grant Morrison, Yanick Paquette, Michael Bair) The Seven Soldiers saga continues… Obsessed with the idea of becoming a famous super-hero and preserving his beautiful wife's youth, Professor Lance Harrower invents Smartskin — a steel- hard living fiber which bonds with skin collagen. When his experiments go awry, Harrower is suffocated under a coating of steel skin. His wife Alix survives the horrific accident only to find herself an outcast and a freak. Now encased in super-hard, living metal, she is a truly reluctant super-human. ―Ballistic: How the Bulleteer Began‖, DC Universe, November 2005 courtesy: www.dccomics.com ―Unlike the cheesecake in All-Star Batman, we're invited to examine and reflect on the representation of Alix, through the sub-plot about the online porn. The story encourages a critical perspective on the art. The episode is about sex, and porn, and cultural ideals of femininity in our society and the Seven Soldiers world… Her appearance and presentation is integral to the story's themes‖ kovaks - 'With regard to the "cheesecake" and the representation of Alix, Barbelith courtesy: NEWSARAMA EMBODYING LARA :: FIRST PERSON PERSPECTIVE ―through having to play Tomb Raider as Lara, a male player is transgendered: the distinctions between the player and the game character are blurred. One potential way of exploring this transgendering is to consider the fusion of player and game character as a kind of queer embodiment, the merger of the flesh of the (male) player with Lara's elaborated feminine body of pure information‖ Kennedy, Helen ‗Lara Croft: Feminist Icon or Cyberbimbo? On the Limits of Textual Analysis, Games Studies‘, International Journal of Computer Game Research, vol 2, issue 2, december 2002 Tomb Raider: Legend website GENDER EVASION ONLINE ―For the participants, MUDding throws issues of the impact of gender on human relations into high relief. Fundamental to its impact is the fact that it allows people to experience rather than merely observe what it feels like to be the opposite gender or have no gender at all‖ Bruckman, Amy Gender Swapping on the Internet Proc. INET'93 Barbara Konopka, ―Illuminations on-line: Binary man‖ :: courtesy: cfront.org Media, Gender and Identity "Even when the other is only me, me playing the part of another "me" in a double role: of the sender and of the receiver. Between those two roles, between me and the others (even if I am "them" myself), a split appears which makes any completeness of identity quite impossible" Barbara Konopka, "Binary Man‖, quoted in Ukasz Ronduda, Cyber and my sp@ce - Netizens and the new geography, Communication Front, 21 August 2000 So is gender in media still important?