G.I. Jane is one of the most memorable feminist films ever created. Demi Moore plays a woman who is selected by a female Senator to enroll in the Navy Seals. Throughout training, nearly 60% of participants (typically men) fail to graduate. When a female steps up to the challenge, no one expects her to succeed.
This film is a representation of the ideological social structure of gender roles in American society, which believe that women cannot succeed on paths traditionally sought by men.
When Jane makes it part way through the rigorous training program, government officials become afraid of her success. Ultimately, the superior power is in opposition to the development of her female power. Her strength contradicts female stereotypes, and could catalyze a change in the American hegemonic masculine ideology.
Ironically, the female senator—who originally elected Jane into the program—attempts to jeopardize Jane’s reputation by hiring a journalist to frame Jane as a lesbian. Thus, both males and females are threatened by a change in the ideological system that constructs the expectations of male and female societal roles.
“Sexism rests on the assumption that men and women, by nature, are suited to different and unequal tasks” (160).
Yes, women and men are wired differently—physically, communicatively, emotionally…but by how much? How vast are the differences in male and female capabilities? As part of the American (and world wide) views, women are politically, domestically, professionally, and socially inferior to men.
As Croteau exposes,
“more than half—52%—of news stories in the United States reinforce traditional gender stereotypes through ‘generalized, simplistic and often exaggerated assumptions of masculinity and femininity…46% of news stories in Europe reinforce traditional gender stereotypes, and 81% in news media in the Middle East” (157).
Those gross representations have helped to normalize stereotypes and expectations of women.
However, within the 90’s decade there was a tremendous fleet of feminist films that rocked the U.S. box office:
Elizabeth (1998) Epic, Based-on-a-True-Story; The Piano (1993) Drama; Erin Brockovich (2000) Based-on-a-True-Story; G.I. Jane (1997) Drama; Dangerous Beauty (1998) Based-on-a-True-Story, Drama.
Interestingly, these films follow close behind the release of the 1980s Vietnam and War films, which,
“were part of a larger process of ‘remasculinization’ of American society, another key component of the ideology of the Reagan years, in which a masculinity defined by its toughness is reasserted in the face of the twin threats of the defeat in Vietnam and the growth of feminism,” (169).
Just ten years earlier the media was reacting to the rising voice of feminism by stifling it. Then, within a few years, the media realized the idea of feminism was marketable and would appeal to the majority of audiences attending the box office.
There are numerous factors that play a role in the shifting ideology of gender roles. Studying the representations of males and females in media, and how biases are framed, can help us to understand the ideologies that construct our realities, and how those ideologies have changed over time.
Blog #2: G.I. Jane Fights Gender Roles
Last fall I studied abroad in Italy. During semester break I traveled solo to Spain, France, the Italian Alps, and Switzerland. It was the greatest learning experience of my life. It was a tremendous challenge to research and organize the trip. It helped me to develop my critical thinking abilities because I had to create an itinerary, and every piece of the puzzle had to fit: each connecting flight, train, bus, hotel and hostel reservation—all within a tactfully balanced budget.
I talked with people who had visited the places I was going, and inquired what their experience had been. Where did they stay? What did they do? How much did it cost? Getting feedback from other’s experiences was a great way for me to decide my own route of action.
Though, the best way to learn how to judge quality was to have the experience myself.
The longer I spent in a destination, the better I could judge the quality of the resources offered by that location.
My growth during my adventure was incomparable and exponential. My skills—organization, planning, communication, punctuality, responsibility, and awareness—progressed. Most of all, my confidence grew. Just as Davidson explains, students “can propel themselves to all kinds of learning as long as there is a payoff…in the sense of self-confidence and competence. Learning…is…an earned conviction that, faced with a challenge ahead…You can count on your ability to learn…It is about knowing that, when tested by the most grueling challenges ahead, you have the capacity to learn what is required to succeed” (85).
Now, when I fear anything—an upcoming test, a new bus route, a new dance class—I remind myself of my trip. I crossed international borders and explored unknown cultures without knowing the native languages, and found a way to survive, connect, and communicate. Now, I know I can do anything.
I learned from my experience that getting an “A” on a test is not the most important measure of my success. Rather, I agree with Davidson when she says, “Instead of testing for the best answer to discrete questions, we need to measure ability to make connections, to synthesize, collaborate, network, mange projects, solve problems, and respond to constantly changing technologies…” (127). Learning experiences go beyond the classroom, and we should encourage that expansion—to synchronize our classroom lessons with reality.
Yes, technology did play a role in the research for my trip, but I did not depend on technology while I was traveling. I journeyed without a cell phone or computer.
For our boss-project, let’s set our goal high. We should create a video project that impacts others, at a global level. With the technology we have (and a group full of creative, caring individuals), why not? We should brainstorm and decide on the topic of the project collaboratively.
Blog #1: Beyond Borders
Probably one of the hardest movies to watch for a person of any race or culture is the film ‘Precious’. It was released in 2009 and really capture the public’s attention with the harsh realities of one poor African American’s life. However what is the film really saying about the life of Claireece P. “Precious” Jones? Upon closer examination, ‘Precious,’ although a heart wrenching film–only takes the view of a poor black family in the ghetto of Harlem and thus this is our view of African American families despite our knowledge of successful and middle/upper class families. Precious’ life calls extreme attention to no income families, abuse physically, mentally, and sexually, as well as the struggle for a 16 year old that is illiterate and pregnant with her second child.
This film probably appeals to the American public because it isn’t our life. What I mean is, the majority of the public that is going to the movie theater to see films like ‘Precious’ are the ones that can afford it and thus are mostly likely not in the extreme situation that Claireece faces in her life. The public goes into the theater wanting to be educated and to feel sorry about the life that isn’t theirs. When they leave the theater, yes there is remorse for the people who have life’s like Caireeces’ but at the same time there is a sense of relief, because that is not the majority of middle class societies life. Middle class doesn’t have to face being raped by their father, beaten by their mother, being illiterate and pregnant at 16.
The ideology presented in Precious is first a poor black family, which gives the notion that, that is the only way of life for African Americans, as well as that no white family has ever gone through the same struggle.
The next part that adds to a more white as superior view is the fact that Claireece wants to be a star and be on covers of magazines. But as a culture we reject the idea of a poor obese African American on the cover of say Cosmopolitan or Vogue, because the only girls to get on the cover of those are skinny, middle to upper class women. And very rarely is it of someone of a different race. the next idea presented in the video is that Precious can’t really help herself, he needs a catalyst. Now she finds that catalyst in her well educated lighter skinned teacher. There is underlined idea that only the well educated can help the uneducated. Although Claireece does decide to get out of her bad home situation she still need the help of her pretty (Mariah Carey) teacher and the white welfare worker. I think all the things that go into this movie; Claireece’s situation, her dreams, and the people that help her find a way out, all suggest a ‘white ideal.’
The idea that with education, the help of the pretty and well educated you can get out of the ghettos of New York and thrive. the ideology presented in ‘Precious’ gives the public the idea that all African American families are poor, uneducated, live an abusive life, and need the help of the educated to get out of the situation. However this is not the life of all black families.
When we are little often we are told to be unique, that our differences are what makes us special. Media for so long has contradicted this idea by telling the public or showing them how they should act, what they should like, essentially who they should be. By doing this, the media influences what we a society deem as the norm. This causes the general public to hide their differences in order to make an attempt to fit these ideals. Televisions shows, movies, and advertisements all give the public someone to emulate, look up to, or try to become. This however, strips people of their individuality and convinces them that they need to be someone else or conform to a specific type of person. For example most of the actors and actresses we see are fit, thin, toned to an extent that is almost unachievable to the average person. This people are paid to make themselves look this way and when they aren’t filming focus their energy on making sure they have the right body by working out, having chefs cook them special low calorie meals etc… People tried to be what those in charge of all these programs wanted them to be. Finally we are starting to see a change.
On the television show Glee the point of the show is that individuals are cool and should be celebrated. They cast people who are unique and aren’t the typical actor or actress. While the show doesn’t always have the best acting or plot it has become so popular due to the message it portrays: individuality should be encouraged and celebrated not discouraged or put down. In the spin off show The Glee Project the producers took this idea one step further by finding regular people to be on the show. This meant kids who weren’t already actors and actresses who were different, kids who are just like all the kids who watch these shows get to be stars and set and example. These two shows emphasized that not doing what everyone else chooses to do is a good thing it makes you special. This is a huge step forward for the media as we start to see different types of people appearing on show, movies, and in other forms of media as well who are representative of the masses.
After World War II ended many Americans sought out “The American Dream”. Families started settling down, living a traditional life with white picket fences. The play, “Death of a Salesman”, (turned into a movie) appealed to many Americans because they could relate to it. “Death of a Salesman” is a great study of the American Dream ideology. The main character, Willy Loman is a product of the growing capitalist society which has caused him to become obsessed with being successful. However, to him, success is measured by popularity and material wealth, similar to Americans during this time. Because of this, Willy Loman wasn’t as successful as he wanted to be. He ends up living in a world of reflection, afraid to face the present problems he has created for himself and his family.
Those that were worried about being successful could relate with Willy Loman’s ideology. For some, not having any success in the work-field meant turning to the social hierarchy. For Willy Loman, being well-liked was the definitive criterion of life success. The American dream of affluence became Willy’s dream. In his sixties, Willy realized he never achieved any of his aspirations. Not everyone was as successful as they lead on. The story “Death of a Salesman” taught those that could relate to Willy not to lose sight of what they need to do to receive the perks of “The American Dream”.
Willy’s story was easily relatable to those in the 1940’s that weren’t as successful as other people. Although it is a tragedy, it puts many things into perspective. The movie “Death of a Salesman” reminded people that it took more than popularity to achieve the ideology of the American Dream. In the end at Willy’s funeral, when only Willy’s sons, wife, and two neighbors show up, Willy’s wife asks where all of his friends are? Thus proving that where you stand in the social hierarchy does not dictate your success in life. In the movie “Death of a Salesman”, those that were struggling to be successful in the 1940’s can relate to Willy Loman and his failure at an attempt to live the American Dream.
When you grow up, you never picture the way your life will actually turn out. For some, dreams come true. For others, the hard knocks of life come to your door, and you have no choice but to answer. Joining the military is not something that I would have ever pictured myself doing, but with certain circumstances, there are obstacles you face that are almost impossible to avoid. The Army was most definitely a challenge for me. It was not just the adjustment to that way of living or the physical demands that one should expect, but it was the way you have to reprogram your mind and your way of thinking. I have always thought of myself as a logical thinker, but in the Army, there is no such thing as logic. I developed my critical thinking ability in high school by always challenging myself with classes that focus on development of certain thinking abilities. Rarely does the Army require critical thinking skills, but I was at an advantage when the time arose for such skills. The way that most things make sense in the “real” world, also known as the “civilian” world, plays no part in how the Army operates. I was taken completely out of my element, and everything I thought I knew, certain things that simply just made sense, had no value or definition in the Army. My experience was eye opening in that it showed to me what society neglects to show. The way people are portrayed in the media and in society is a highly distorted view from the perspective of the average “American” with no real knowledge about the specific thing they are generally discussing. Quality of anything done in the Army is not of the best, and I was more prepared than others and more equipped to judge certain qualities of bodies of work and other things that require critique in the Army. Technology and communication had little to no effect on this learning experience, but media did. Media played a huge part, because there was always a standard to be held to in the public eye, and how we were portrayed in the smallest sense, was how we were.
Many people see this generation as the generation that isglued to technology. These days everyone has a connection to everyone on the internet. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Skype we are all connected. Students spend hours a day on Facebook, checking their statuses and chatting with their friends. We have more relationships on the internet then we do in our daily lives where we interact with people. We are obsessed with the internet. Everyone cares how many notifications you got or how many people you are following.
When the Social Network came out many people wanted to see it because it can relate to them. In the story Facebook dominates the internet. It shows a worldwide attraction to be connected to people and to follow the latest thing. We are constantly trying to go with the trend and our generations trend is the internet and technological advances. If you have a Facebook then you are considered
cool and this movie shows that. Other generations sometimes call us the dumber generation because we are so
distracted by all the technology around us.
The Social Network showed how fast this new idea was spread simply because people wanted to be a part of something cool and hip to this generation. When people found out about this idea of Facebook they jumped on board. It spread from campus to campus like a virus. Relationships between people now are mostly through the internet. They wanted the entire world to be connected through
this technology and they wanted relationships to get stronger. It depicts how everyone is connected and how our generation can pick up one source of information so quickly. The ideology of this film is that we are the generation that created this technology that will be used by for many years. We are the generation that has taken technology and applied it to every part of our lives.