Week 11; March 24th-30th Blog Entry #3 (Done by J).

A Manly Mistake? Or a Preposterous Parody?

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Generation Z’s, or more fittingly, iGeneration’s understanding of gender, race, and culture are unavoidably flooded and influenced by technology and media. As a result, media provides society with gender specific constructions about masculinity, femininity, how to act, think, and feel. In particular, advertisements are a form of media that are guilty of enforcing gender stereotypes, especially in the form of parody. A parody is a widely used tool that humorously exaggerates certain themes or messages about society, while leaving an underlying message. They tend to be effective because of their relatable content that can be passively digested by the general public. Parodies, however, are quite frequently created as heedless attacks towards controversial topics such as gender. A commercial titled Summer’s Eve uses parody to sell gender specific body wash, revealing the inappropriate use of gender socialization, a homozygous view on male intelligence, and heteronormativity, ultimately contributing to the commercial’s flawed representation of gender.

The Summer’s Eve commercial is intended to sell a distinctly female body wash by enforcing its femininity. Using humour, Summer’s Eve makes the clear distinction between what is appropriate for males versus females. The complex plot involves a man showering, when his wife reveals that he is using a female body wash made safe for a woman’s ‘v’. Horrified, he feverishly sets off to remind himself and gain back his manhood, which the soap supposedly washed away. He dramatically engages in stereotypical male activities that represent strength and aggression such as painfully belly flopping into a pool, and pulling a car with him teeth. Not only are these stereotypes completely inaccurate, but they are too often taught to viewers through media and gender socialization. 

As outlined in Gender, Race, & Popular Culture, gender socialization is a process of interaction in which individuals learn the gender norms or their society, and how they fit within them (3). Children especially, develop and understanding of masculinity, femininity, and androgyny. The Summer’s Eve commercial is a tool for gender socialization because it teaches the viewers that “womanly products” are strictly for women, and men must display “masculine traits” to be a true man. The creators of the commercial may have believed the stereotypical male activities were natural or necessary in order for the man to reassert his masculinity, however this can damaging to the viewer. Creating an individual dimension on what is considered male, or how one should act to be male reinforces gender stereotyping. Associating aggression, self-confidence, and competition with men may not capture or define what is means to be male to certain people. Whether individuals do so at all, or only at certain times, all men are bound to express so-called “female traits” such as sensitivity and innocence at some point in their life. The truth of the matter is, men and women really aren’t all that different, yet the Summer’s Eve commercial encourages unnecessary gender distinctions. 

A significant concern in this commercial that may go unnoticed, but should be noted, is the offensive remarks made towards men. The Summer’s Eve commercial is visually humorous because of the heavy implication that men are mindless and immature enough to think that a body wash can actually rid them of their Y chromosome. It suggests that men are wrapped up in assuring themselves of their gender identity and will go to extreme lengths to prove their manly power and maintain their pride. This “joke” reinforces the homogenous viewpoint of men and their intelligence. Homozygosity refers to everyone being the same or similar in kind (Tolmie). In the Summer’s Eve commercial, their reference to masculinity on a large scale implies a large-scale homozygous depiction of all men as virile and idiotic. Not only is this a flawed representation of men, but as with gender socializing, viewers are learning stereotypical ideas of what it means to be a true man; muscular and fearless, but a fool. This parody might be funny at surface level, but is actually quite offensive towards male intelligence. 

The emphasis on heteronormativity in the Summer’s Eve commercial should also be questioned. Heteronormativity refers to lifestyle norms associated with the “natural” roles in life, that is male and female, and where heterosexuality is the only normal sexual orientation (Tolmie). So, how might this commercial be different if it didn’t feature a heteronormal couple, rather a trans-sexual, trans-gender, lesbian, or gay couple? Even further, consider how this commercial would differ if the couple were disabled? Or a couple of colour? It’s easy to laugh at a typical, heterosexual, able, and white couple in a parody, however any other couple may not evoke the same response. Privilege and relation are dominant factors that let us laugh at the heteronormal couple, compared to those who are oppressed and tied down to controversial issues about them that are ingrained within society. Such issues are an unforgettable part of history, and are slowly being brought to the attention of society. Unfortunately, however, I don’t think society is at a point just yet where we are able to laugh at the oppressed in a parody.

Thus, instead of digging past the surface, parodies remain within their comfort zone, silencing important issues. They are only able to discuss uncontroversial issues that can be laughed at and taken lightly. By using parody, the Summer’s Eve commercial attempts to sell their product with humour and personal relation. It’s baffling to think that with society’s persistent drive for equality, gender stereotyping is still seen as a humorous topic. But then again, this commercial doesn’t highlight humour a parody’s method to resist. Instead, initial laughter occurs when the male goes against the norm by using the female body wash, however this commercial focuses on how this is unacceptable. Resistance towards existing norms and the idea of challenging what normally goes unchallenged is seen as intolerable in the Summer’s Eve commercial.

Overall, the Summer’s Eve commercial is a parody that attempts to use humour in selling a specifically female body wash. However, it reinforces inappropriate gender stereotypes that many people are striving to eliminate in society. It’s one thing to market a certain product to males or females, but this commercial unjustly stigmatizes gender roles in society. 

– J.

Works Cited

Gender, Race, & Popular Culture. Toronto: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2014. Print.

Tolmie, Jane. “Lecture 7-1.” Queen’s University. Queen’s University, Kingston, ON. 18 February 2014. Lecture. 

Tolmie, Jane. “Tolmie (1).” Queen’s University. Queen’s University, Kingston, ON. 25 February 2014. Lecture.

 

Week 11; March 24th-30th Blog Entry #3 (Done by L).

Hail to the V

Summer’s Eve is a company that specifically sells feminine hygiene products and has been around for almost four generations (Summer’s Eve). Their latest commercial features a woman putting make up on in a bathroom while conversing with her implied long term boyfriend during his shower. She casually mentions that Summer’s Eve products are, “PH balanced, gentler than soap, and perfectly formulated for a woman’s v.” He was unable to hear her over the water and when he discovered that he was using the product meant for vaginas he became disturbed and rushed to prove his manliness in any and every way conceivable.

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Parody is used to sell this product through its play on the standardized middle class white couple, the exaggeration of the man’s masculinity, and the scandal of vaginas. Let me start off by stating that I like this commercial. I find it comedic, effective and relatable. I know that my boyfriend would react similarly to the man in the commercial and I would be laughing the entire time thinking, “What a complete dink”. It is not entirely informative about the range of products, and that is most likely related to my third point, but it does provide you with enough information to know what is going on and what it is you would have to research to find out more about their products.  

The characters that Summer’s Eve chose for their commercial are able bodied, white, attractive, heterosexual, middle class, and in a monogamous relationship. This commercial is arguably conventional in the sense that men are generally the greater focus in advertisements and that fact proves true in the Summer’s Eve one at question (Gendered Worlds, 397).  The woman, who is in the commercial for only one third of running time despite it being for feminine hygiene products, is depicted as calm and collected. She comes across this way because of her nonchalant response to her boyfriend’s over the top reaction to using her body wash. The setting of the commercial is in a large house with a pool, two cars, and spacious garage in a suburban neighbourhood. It severely plays on the American dream home lifestyle. Even though the commercial stars a male lead for the majority of air time, it is still heavily directed towards women. Whether or not they were in a relationship, the majority of all women have dealt with a senseless man at some point in their life which makes the commercial relatable. The combination of a gorgeous clean home and a simple, but caring man is attractive to the majority of women so it shows a lifestyle that is appealing without truly focusing on the woman at all. I prefer this attempt at relating to women far more than a guilt trip into making a woman believe that she needs to use their product. The company could have taken the route similar to Ponds cream where a woman is left by a man because of questionable odours and was coaxed into using Summer’s Eve products to “keep” her man and dream life.

A potentially problematic area of the commercial are what activities the man believed will assure him of his masculinity after using the body wash. The man in the advertisement can be described as a settled down man’s man. He’s clearly strong and appears to be laid back and easy going, looking almost completely like a man in a beer commercial. A few of the activities that the man engaged in are chopping wood in his backyard, drinking a raw egg, raging on the drums, boxing, doing a belly flop swan dive into a pool, breaking wood with his bare hands, pulling a car by a rope with his teeth, making an iron helmet similar to ones that Roman warriors wore, mowing the lawn on a power lawn mower, and finished off with the most classic, chugging a beer and crushing the can with his hand. The notion that beer helps make a boy a man is expressed in this commercial and is rather troubling. This character fits into the “rugged individual” category of men in commercials. In 1995, Ian Harris reviewed men’s roles on television and came up with the four categories of standard bearers, workers, lovers, and rugged individualists. Rugged individualists are men who engage in dangerous and adventurous acts and athletics (Gendered Worlds, 400). The ridiculous need to prove his manhood after using the body wash is done through these activities. So many of these things are perceived to be me male activities and by having a man perform all of these activities, this commercial only enforces that belief and snowballs it even further.

Despite the commercial being for vaginas, the word is not used once. The company’s slogan is “Hail to the V” and it is used at the end of the advertisement while showcasing their products. During the actual commercial, the letter “v” is used in lieu of saying the word vagina. This is a smart move on Summer’s Eve’s end because what they are talking about is still clear, but by not ever using the word, they are able to avoid the backlash of people claiming that the commercial is inappropriate and offensive. The idea of the word being scandalous and shameful is unfortunate, but if I was pitching the idea for the commercial, I would probably make the same decision. Even if the advertisement does not specifically focus on the products, the point of it is to make people aware of them and they do that effectively and amusingly.

 -L

Works Cited

“Summer’s Eve.” Summer’s Eve. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.

Aulette, Judy Root., and Judith G. Wittner. Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford UP, USA, 2012. 397. Print.

Aulette, Judy Root., and Judith G. Wittner. Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford UP, USA, 2012. 400. Print.

 

 

 

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Week 11; March 24th-30th Blog Entry #3 (Done by S).

The Boundaries of Beauty; L’Oreal, Can You Be Worth It?

What, or rather who defines beauty? The common, well known phrase ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ suggests that beauty is defined as something different for each person but is it really? Beauty is hegemonic, reflecting the dominant or ruling thoughts found in the confinement of race, gender, sexuality, appearance and being able-bodied. In this way hegemony separates bodies into what is accepted as beautiful despite the vast genetic diversity reflected in the multitude of shapes, sizes and appearances of people. Looking at life experiences and positionalites through an intersectional analysis I will identify and analyze the power of hegemony applied to beauty in L’Oreal’s ‘Beauty for All’ campaign illustrating the deceptive subtleness and social conditioning of these influences to remain practically invisible. 

Week three’s lecture focused on the power of advertising highlighting it’s control over changing perceptions, enforcing ideologies, educating and imparting subconscious material into popular culture. The presentation of Jean Killborn’s video “Killing us Softly” reinforced that the majority of people are unaware of the subtle yet consuming power of advertising imagery. According to Killborn, advertisements have become more aggressive over the last forty years selling more than just the advertised product with the target audience being white women more often than any other recognized group.

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As I watched the L’Oreal ad for the first time I thought finally a company has made a beauty ad aligned with the multicultural diversity of Canada’s population based on the opening images of individuals who are not white (Pearson 85). However, armed with knowledge learned from class, the phenomenon of white privilege and the notion that the ad adheres to whiteness is not apparent to white viewers because hegemonic influences have conditioned members of the dominant race to be oblivious to its existence (White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack – McIntosh). The impact of whiteness in the ad is only revealed when it is viewed through the lens of race acknowledging that nine of the seventeen individuals portrayed are white. The damage inherent in the sublimity of this lies in the ads unequal representation of races combined with a benevolently generated message that L’Oreal offers beauty for all; “whoever, you are, wherever you’re from, beyond all frontiers and cultures…believe[ing] in the power of beauty for each and everyone of us.” L’Oreal sets the white individuals apart from the others identifying them by name and attaching to each a specific life event compared with the unified identity of other racial groups as discussed in week eight’s lecture material. I believe this form of racial construction of hierarchies reinforces notions of superiority and dominance subjected subconsciously into the minds of viewers. Hegemonic influences continue to permeate the ad through the images presented and those omitted with respect to gender and sexuality.

By focusing primarily on women, the ‘Beauty for All’ campaign complies with naturalized gender hierarchies illustrating differential treatment that women are subjected to daily in regards to appearance (Pearson 8). In addition, the women share a connection through the portrayal of distinct feminine qualities; their femininity exacerbated by the attachment of specific female roles including mother, expectant mother and bride. Defined as beautiful according to hegemony, these images of emphasized femininity reflect the media version of womanhood re-calibrating social norms that women are subjected to through advertisement control (Oxford University Press 10).

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Interspersed between the images of the women are five males exuding their masculinity expressed as a muscular torso, a child, where the foundation of gender identification begins and man who portrays his masculine role in a heterosexual relationship. These expressions of culturally revered masculinity known as hegemonic masculinity uses advertising as a source of social, cultural and economic influence to perpetuate the boundaries of beauty (Oxford University Press 10). L’Oreal’s total lack of reference to the gender spectrum reinforces the binary mindset of two genders; male and female, excluding all other identities reinforcing norms of heterosexual relations perpetuating ideas of homophobia as beautiful (Gender Spectrum). Imagery selection highlights the intended target of defined beauty, namely emphasized femininity, hegemonic masculinity, and heterosexuality leaving many individuals within society questioning their positionality as hegemonic boundaries delineate the confines of beauty.

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L’Oreal’s ad reinforces the social response to disability and ableism as discussed in week six lecture. Images of physically attractive, able-bodied individuals with blemish-free skin inundate us daily through multiple media forms establishing parameters of beauty and L’Oreal’s ‘Beauty for All’ campaign is no different. Many individuals find themselves outside these artificially constructed boundaries; the reflection they see daily in the mirror looks nothing like the images in the ad (Tolmie Week 6 Lecture). Reality is a stark contrast to the hegemonic manufactured definition of beauty; people come in all shapes and sizes and lets be honest life isn’t just about physical perfection. Ableism abounds in L’Oreal’s ad even in the image of the woman who appears to be dealing with cancer, whose face does not attest to the wasting effects of the disease on her body. Reinforcing and celebrating the perfection of beauty through appearance and ableism exacerbates the point that hegemonic boundaries exclude the vast majority of the population and may lead to negative associations connected with appearance generating stigmas and stereotypes because many don’t fit the cookie-cutter mold (Pearson 69).

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L’Oreal’s slogan “because I’m worth it” is in many ways false. Analyzing the ‘Beauty for All’ campaign reveals that beauty really is not for all, it’s for individuals who fit the hegemonic standards, adhering to boundaries within race, gender and sexuality, appearance and able-bodiedness. The images portrayed in this ad deceptively overwhelm the subconscious using subliminal advertising to define what beauty is, who is beautiful and how beauty should be classified. In truth this ad is destructive, offering little insight into how beauty should look. Sitting in quite spaces, watching people pass by and embracing the parade of genetic diversity showed me how important it is to break down the boundaries of hegemonic beauty standards and see people not as walking advertisements but as humans who in and of themselves are beautiful.

– S entry. 

Sources Used
– L’Oreal Advertisement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McCUVz-5Ygc&feature=youtu.be
– Tolmie, Jane. “Lecture #.” GNDS 125. Bioscience Auditorium. January – March 2014. Lecture.    
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (McIntosh) Link on Week 2.
Gender Spectrum Link on Week 1. 
– Eitzen D. Stanley, Maxine Baca Zinn, and Kelly Eitzen Smith. Gender, Race, and Popular Culture GNDS 125: Custom Edition for Queen’s University. Toronto: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2014. Print.
– Aulette, Judy Root and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds: Second Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.

Pictures Used
– Picture #1: http://media.edusites.co.uk/images/uploads/music-magazine-collage-495w.jpg
– Picture 2: Screenshot from ad- 0:43/2:00
– Picture 3: Screenshot from ad- 1:08/2:00
– Picture 4: Screenshot from ad- 1:34/2:00
– Picture 5: Screenshot from ad- 1:38/2:00
– Picture 6: Screenshot from ad- 1:23/2:00
– Picture 7: Screenshot from ad- 0:51/2:00 

 

Week 7; February 24th-March 2nd Blog Entry #2 (Done by L).

            “In Your Pocket: What’s Your Sex?”  is a film with seventeen short works screened in it that are each no longer than four minutes long. The inspiration for Marc Wisniewski, the curator of the film was to allow members of the LGBT community to represent themselves through digital and video recording. Self-documentation is a new possible way of expression for the directors in the community and because they are the ones making the recordings, they are able to avoid being misrepresented by filmmakers who tend to enforce and contribute to growing LGBT stereotypes. The directors in this film were told to only film with their smartphones and had no official direction or design. The LGBT community is often represented by people who are not members themselves and because of this, they control the depictions of LGBT people in their films. The hope behind In Your Pocket: What’s Your Sex? was to give personal control to LGBT members to their representation. Overall, the film opened up new ideas and I was able to better understand the views of labeling, sexual liberty and how sex does not define gender. The LGBT community proves that through expression comes a greater understanding of their views.

            The power of labels, liberty of sex and how people should not be defined by their sex or sexual orientation are all recurring themes throughout the film. One of the clips in this film that was sent in by YouTube sensation Kiley May is entitled “You Are Not Your Genitals”. They used their phone to make a video explaining the difference between a person’s sex, sexuality, and gender. There are many misconceptions about these words and the synonymic use of them is what May was trying to advertise against by informing people of their technical meanings. They describe sex as a physical act as well as the biological anatomy between a person’s legs while heavily emphasizing that sex and gender are not to be used interchangeably. Sex has been defined as a simple categorization between male and female bodies. As mentioned in a lecture by Professor Tolmie “…queerness, anything to do with the gender spectrum, racial diversity or even tolerance” (Twilight & 50 Shades of Grey) are not marketed enough in today’s popular culture. Kiley emphasizes that gender is “between the ears” and that is more important than what is “between the legs”. This view rejects the stereotypical views that gender is based on one’s sex. Instead, he emphasizes the importance of “acquiring ourselves as feminine, masculine or even androgynous” (Burack 3). He also emphasizes the importance of an all-inclusive spectrum. For example, one can feel more masculine one day and more feminine another; gender is never static.

              Furthermore, all clips voiced a battle between the stereotypical viewpoints on sex and the highly disputed novel perspective. The first group clips include Tunnel Vision, My Sex is Genderless, Labels, and Pigeon Hole. As depicted through the titles, all clips expressed the narrow mindedness and limitations that come with labeling others. My Sex is Genderless consisted of two persons making out and touching one another. The way it was filmed made it hard to judge the sexes of both people because it was only filmed the waist up. When I couldn’t determine their sex I realized that labeling comes with the obsession for knowing. By being unable to identify their sex, the labeling that comes with gender or sexual orientation is then diminished, leaving less power towards categorizing sex. These set of films emphasize the need for one to just be themselves without labels, and the only way to start is to first understand the power labels have and take its entitlement of categorizing people away. It is a misunderstanding that “…people tend to think sex as primarily a biological function…biology in only one part of the context of desire” (Auletter 42). This means that a human’s biology does not dictate their sexual desires.

            Ageless, Fucking Butterflies, Take it off, and Creature Probably, all focus on the freedom of sexual expression. The LGBT community in these films express the happiness and pure joy that can come from the freedom to love and be who you want to be. While Creature Probably includes people dancing around with one another having a good time expressing open sexuality while answering the question “What is Your Sex?” The answer as to the identification of one’s sex or gender is insignificant because it is a spectrum and the possibilities are infinite. The main message that was obtained is that happiness comes with freedom of expressing and representing any sex, gender and sexual desires even if they break the boundaries that societal norms build. “As gender variations becomes normalized they become arenas, ‘for playful exploration’ of our possibilities” (Auletter 61) and these possibilities are why people must rethink the basic gender binary. The belief of gender binary should be replaced with the idea of an existing spectrum and that gender is never static.

-L

Works Cited

Auletter, Judy Root, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2012. Print.

Burack, Cynthia. “Gender Socialization.” Gender, Race, & Popular Culture. Canada: Pearson, 2014. 3-6. Print.

Tolmie, Jane. “Twilight & 50 Shades of Grey.” Queen’s University. Queen’s University, Kingston, ON. 4 February 2014. Lecture.  

Winiewski, Marcin. “IN YOUR POCKET: WHAT’S YOUR SEX? SHORTS.” Reelout. http://www.reelout.com/event/7pm-whats-your-sex-shorts/ Accessed Feb 25 2014. 

 

Week 7; February 24th-March 2nd Blog Entry #2 (Done by M).

A Reelout Experience

The Reelout Queer Film and Video Festival put on an interesting display of short films, covering a range of contentious issues about sex and gender, like in the movies “The Reading Salon”, and “You Are Not Your Genitals”. The festival also put on more lighthearted varieties, like “Fucking Butterflies”, which was about exactly that. At the end of the production, students were given the opportunity to ask the filmmakers questions, which was both necessary and useful to the students due to the abstract nature of the films. For this blog, I will review class concepts that these short-films touched upon, namely, the socially constructed nature of society, and notion of sex versus gender.

During the question and answer period, it was revealed that all of the films were made on the camera of an iphone, which was especially ironic in one of my preferred films, called “Obsession”, because the premise of the film was to stereotypically show the online dating persona homosexual people use on cell phone applications like “Grindr”. This film was focused with placing a satirical take on the outrageous descriptions, pictures, and messages the filmmakers often see on this very application. “Obsession”, in contrast to most films on the market today, proved to be unconventional. This is largely because of whom the film was targeted to: whereas most films made today are marketed at bigger demographics, like heterosexual people, “Obsession” was meant to be a humorous movie for the users of applications like “Grindr”. However, in doing so, this movie still, accidently or not, related to heterosexual men and women, because the point of the film was not only to mock the stereotypical profiles of people who use applications like this, but also to stress that these people conform to what they think society expects of them. To put this into perspective, consider the fifth lecture of GNDS125 when we discussed the movie “Twilight”. In “Twilight”, there is an abundance of “whiteness”, “female virginity”, and “heterosexuality”. These are the qualities moviegoers often look for when choosing a movie. This is contrary to the types of films represented at the Reelout Queer Film and Video Festival, particularly, “Obsession”. Overall, “Obsession” points out unacknowledged flaws in society, the fact that most people feel they must conform to a socially constructed standard to be accepted. The irony comes at the end of the movie when the iphone is dropped, and a passerby leans down to pick up the phone for the cameraman. This is ironic because at this point, the two men seem to fall in love, which challenges the online dating application as a legitimate means of meeting “real” people.

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Another film that especially left an impression me was “You Are Not Your Genitals”. This film starts with Kiley May, a self-described “two-spirit, trans, queer and genderqueer human being”. This video is unlike any other video featured at the festival. May breaks the fourth wall immediately, and announces that they (as they clarify trans people should be referred to) are making this video as a response to the question, “what’s your sex?” May believes that they must clarify the difference between sex and gender. “Sex is fucking”, May says, and gender is “not what is in between your legs but your brain, psychology and consciousness”. This relates back to greater class themes of sex vs. gender, and the common misuse of the two. However, as we have learned in class “gender is not inherently connected to one’s physical anatomy”(“Understanding Gender”), it is the “complex interrelationship between those trains and one’s internal sense of self as male, female, both or neither” (“Understanding Gender”). Sadly. Western society sees gender as a binary notion, with two harshly unchanging options of male or female. This is a very contentious issue, as gender-ambiguous supporters advocate for equal treatment of all people, which would include public washrooms for gender-ambiguous people, and official recognition of their choices. This has yet to be seen in a liberal society that claims to be progressive. Overall, during their brief video, May was able to hammer home the point that “you are not your genitals”.
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The Reelout Queer Film and Video Festival presented a unique opportunity to discover new genres of film not represented at your average movie theatre. The Festival exceeded my expectations, because I have not attended anything like that before at Queen’s University. I was surprised to hear that Reelout tradition has been going on for fifteen years, and has expanded into schools, specializing in “diversity and gender diversity education” (“Reelout”). One thing I mentioned that I especially enjoyed was the question and answer period, in which the students had the opportunity to learn some of the inspiration behind these films. While some of the films were for humor and entertainment, others had deep meaning behind them. Overall, the Reelout Festival opened my eyes to the diverse groups that Queen’s has to offer.

– M

“Understanding Gender.” Gender Spectrum. N.p.. Web. 28 Feb 2014. <https://www.genderspectrum.org/understanding-gender&gt;.

“Introduction.” Reelout Arts Project Inc. . N.p.. Web. 28 Feb 2014. <http://www.reelout.com/about/introduction/&gt;.

Week 7; February 24th-March 2nd Blog Entry #2 (Done by R).

Objectifying the minorities

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While this fun, flirty and easy to watch movie “G.B.F” directed by Darren Stein is a light and funny movie, it also touches on some extremely important issues in our modern day society. Every character in this film is portrayed by a classic stereotype and the film does a fantastic job of showing the immediate labeling of high school students based on their appearance and sexuality. The three popular girls who ‘rule the school’ are stereotypically skinny, tall and well dressed. There is the blonde haired, blue eyed beauty Fawcett (Sasha Pieterse), the stylish and preppy Mormon ‘Shley  (Andrea Bowen) and the sassy and outgoing Caprice (Xosha Roquemore). Throughout the film, important issues such as racism and homophobia are addressed and highlighted as well as the power that popular culture holds over many high school teenagers.

In this shiny and plastic world in which these girls live in, anything that could possibly boost them even higher on the popularity scale is fought over desperately. In this film, that just so happens to be a shy young boy named Tanner who was forced to ‘come-out’ by accident to his school. The new trend that month was having your own ‘G.B.F’, which stands for Gay Best Friend. Tanner was immediately targeted by these three girls and fought over in desperation to skyrocket to the top of the popularity charts.

Tanner was not treated as a human being, or as a young boy struggling with his identity; he was treated as an object at the disposal of the popular, higher-class society. That was one of the main morals that this movie was trying to get through to the viewers. These fads and trends that claim to make one ‘more popular’ will soon go out of style, they always do. So making one of these fads an actual person who will be used to propel someone higher into the social rankings, then just dumping them when something else comes in fashion is horrible. At one point in the movie, ‘Shley confided in her friend “it’d be really neat to meet one.” Tanner and the other homosexual boys and girls around him were objectified and not treated equally at all. People in this movie saw them as a whole other species, being isolated into their own bubble that made them feel and appear to be so different to everyone else around them. “G.B.F” did a great job of over exaggerating these issues that are common problems in many high school students everyday lives. A Rotten Tomatoe critic Sherilyn Connelly stated, “[G.B.F is a] very funny and thoughtful take on how straights often objectify queers – and how increased visibility in the media can result in an expectation to conform to stereotypes.”

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Identified in this movie were also the issues of racism as well. In one part of the movie, Candice told Tanner of the typical issues that there had never been a non-white or gay couple to win the title of prom King and Queen. Yet there is also some controversy in the portrayal of Candice herself. In the film she appears to dress and have the same outlook as the other two popular white girls. Yet, the sassiness and attitude that overwhelmed her personality took on the stereotype that is placed on black women.

This whole movie is based on the strong popular culture influence that has a hold over teenagers. One of the readings we read for this class, “Same Shit, Different World,” written by Lauren Bans spoke of many peoples constant fear of not fitting in and changing their appearance to seem more beautiful and feel more accepted. In her chapter she spoke of an alternate reality, a computer game, in which people can change their appearance to however they want in order to appear more beautiful and attractive (57). This not only happens online but it happens in our day-to-day lives too. We are constantly forced to read magazines and watch TV commercials of people telling us what will make us seem more popular or appear more beautiful and comparing us to the impossible. In the case of this film, the ‘must-have’ was acquiring a G.B.F. and immediately it was a priority for these girls to hunt down a fellow student to objectify and use in hopes of becoming more popular.

I loved going to the Reelout queer film and video festival because it really opened my eyes to the whole other culture that is not the typical Hollywood movie. I actually went twice and the second time saw Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, which was very different to G.B.F, but also a fantastic movie. I thought the diversity in films that were being shown was amazing. The films still had the common themes of social acceptance and human rights that I thought came through clear and powerful.

G.B.F. had a very powerful message that I thought was portrayed very well through light-hearted humor and an attention-grabbing storyline. Just because someone identities differently to the majority, they should not be objectified and used to the advantage of these mainstream ‘privileged’ people. The influence of popular culture in many people’s everyday lives is so prominent that it can have major negative effects. No matter how different someone appears to be from the majority, they should never be abused or objectified and G.B.F. showed that very well through their film.

-R.

Works Cited

Bans, Lauren. Same Shit, Different World. Toronto: Pearson Canada, n.d. Print. Vol. 8 of Gender, Race and Popular Culture. 12 vols.

Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster, n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014. <http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/gbf_2013/&gt;.

Week 7; February 24th – March 2nd Blog Entry #2 (Done by J).

pocket

 

 

 

 

In Your Pocket: What’s Your Sex?

Through the Lens of LGBTs

Opinions surrounding the meaning of the term “sex” have been closely restrained by society. Sex has been commonly limited to the conventional definition where only male and female divisions exist. In an attempt to break away from this flawed definition, In Your Pocket: What’s Your Sex? successfully opens up the boundaries on the meaning and importance of sex to the LGBT community. Through a series of shorts, each under 4 minutes, filmmakers use smart phones to document their unheard voices surrounding sexuality. While this film addresses the bigger picture of sex as a dynamic term, it also speaks on a personal level, allowing individuals to form genuine views. Its simplicity and modern twist are effective at capturing the true essence of sex.

In Your Pocket: What’s Your Sex? does not follow a specific plot throughout, rather each short consists of a unique view on the theme of sex. While a few shorts have distinct perspectives on sex, most fall under one of three categories: one-sidedness, freedom, and the idea that one is not tied down to their sexuality. Further, all the shorts address the struggle between the stereotypical understanding of sex, versus the newly growing, but sometimes controversial perspective. The first repeated sub-theme is one-sidedness, specifically regarding how society views members of the LGBT community. As the names suggest, Tunnel Vision, Labels, Pigeon Hole and Obsessions each uniquely express how society refuses to see past homosexual typecasts, but instead maintain a narrow, fixed judgement on LGBTs. These films emphasize society’s lack of motivation and desire to stop labelling. Personally, I believe these shorts bring rise to the idea of choice as addressed by Professor Tolmie in lecture. With careful consideration of morals and ethics, one is able to select a stance on how they feel towards other heterosexual or homosexual individuals. The film emphasizes the damaging impact of society’s unfortunate choice to view LGBT members in a stereotypical way – through a homophobic lens. As described by George Weinberg in Gendered Worlds, homophobia is hatred expressed towards lesbians and gay men (Aulette and Wittner 117). Thus, these shorts remind us of the irrational nature of homophobia and the need for it to stop.

A second sub-theme is depicted through six other shorts including Dufferin Mall, Fucking Butterflies, Take it Off, Serpientes y Escaleras, Creature Probably, and A Thousand Birds. Each film incorporates a slightly more hopeful theme: the idea of freedom amongst LGBT members. Creature Probably, Fucking Butterflies, and Serpientes y Escaleras approach freedom from a positive perspective. I interpret the lyrical dancing, the butterflies “fucking” shamelessly, and the men acting carefree with their genitals as indications of their own freedom form societal conventions. However, Dufferin Mall, Take it Off, and A Thousand Birds emphasize the lack of freedom LGBT members experience. Dufferin Mall and Take it Off address the limiting relationship between race and sex. These films show the struggle LGBT members face with whiteness and the overpowering need to conform (Tolmie). A Thousand Birds focuses on the hope for breaking free form the many unjust societal expectations and assumptions about homosexuals. I also think this grouping of shorts addresses individuals’ sexual rights and individual autonomy. The Declaration On Sexual Rights, as mentioned in Gendered Worlds, states that individuals have the right to make free and responsible choices on all aspects of sexuality. Everyone is entitled to a sense of sexual freedom, equality, and dignity (Aulette and Wittner 107). According to my interpretation of the film, I think the shorts display examples of infringements on LGBT members’ rights. Ideally, every individual should be granted equal privileges and freedom, yet the films show LGBT members who still remain trapped and mistreated by society. 

The idea that ‘your sexuality does not define you’ is the third reoccurring topic within the In Your Pocket: What’s Your Sex? shorts. While this is the ideal, society unfortunately perceives marginalized individuals based on the discrimination they experience (Gender, Race, & Popular Culture 73). My Sex is Genderless, Lavender Technicalities, and You Are Not Your Genitals each address this issue by stressing that individuals should not feel restricted by their gender. These clips are more empowering than the former as they emphasize the satisfaction, happiness, and triumph one will feel once they themselves, along society, accept and understand who they are. I see this grouping of shorts as representative of how society should be; no one should be disadvantaged or embarrassed because of their sexuality or sexual preference.

Aside from the content and themes in In Your Pocket: What’s Your Sex?, the technical aspects also contribute to the overall film. As previously mentioned, filmmakers were limited to smart phones to create their short. With the rise of technology, smart phones have become the leading device for self-representation; social media cites, online dating, and ‘selfies’ all focus on the individual. However, this film attempts to use smart phones in the opposite way, rather use them to create stories that represent everyone anonymously in the LGBT community. Further, both the simplistic yet eccentric editing and music contribute to the entertaining aspect of the film. Finally, the short clips kept me enticed because of the stories continually changing to new perspectives on the same overall theme of sex. In my opinion, the technical aspects of the films were executed well. 

Overall, In Your Pocket: What’s Your Sex? effectively combines a variety of shorts that draw upon different understandings of sex. Using only smart phones presents a current style that is easy to understand and particularly relatable to the 21st century. Together, the shorts address the different ways members of the LGBT community view sex as opposed to society’s preconceived ideas. A combination of the emotional content, subliminal messages, and captivating film style contribute to the success of the film. Further, my experience attending the Reelout queer film festival was enlightening. This was my first time viewing personal films about sexuality and it made me further appreciate the challenges LGBTs face. During my time at Queen’s thus far I haven’t directly encountered controversy over issues between homosexual and heterosexual individuals. Regardless, this film reminds me that even though it may not be visible, many individuals are constantly pressured to conform to society’s definition of sex, whether it be applicable to all individuals or not. It is my hope that with more films like this, people become aware of the many misconceptions about LGBT members. In Your Pocket: What’s Your Sex? Shows that the ability to share the message about how homosexuals understand sex lies in the palms of our hands, making it an undoubtedly accomplishable task. 

 

Works Cited

Auletter, Judy Root, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2012. Print.

Tolmie, Jane. “Twilight & 50 Shades of Grey.” Queen’s University. Queen’s University, Kingston, ON. 4 February 2014. Lecture.  

Gender, Race, & Popular Culture. Toronto: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2014. Print.