Damn them all to hell in a handbasket

This blog is my outlet for skepticism in the media and culture. That and comments about class discussions in race gender in the media.

Location: Denton/Dallas, Texas, United States

I'm an Advertising major at the University of North Texas.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Final Project

Research Question
How is female beauty defined in music videos based on the portrayal of female music artists and extras?
What kinds of thoughts/morals/ideas are emphasized in popular music videos?
What do viewers believe they are being told?
What is considered to be the social norm in these music videos?

My corpus consists of six, full length (between three to four minutes long) music videos currently at the top 20 in the pop/hip-hop genre according to downloads in iTunes and views on MTV.

My method drew from both quantitative and qualitative content analysis. Quantitative content analysis consisted of how many males to females were shown in music videos, as well as how they were dressed. Coding was simply separating female and male artists as well as female and male extras. Type of dress was also coded with the music artists featured as demure, suggestive, scantily clad, or nude. Qualitative content analysis was prominent within the six popular music videos. In each video, theme, focus, mood, and lyrics were analyzed to find out what kind of message the artist was sending and how viewers may perceive the content. Also important was the juxtaposition between the visuals in the music video at the content within the lyrics.

(More in e-mail)

Sexualized Images in Media do lead to Mass Market Pornography!

I was looking at my daily Adrant and found something utterly
disturbing. A french clothing company had an ad agency create a
website that is porn (not more or less, but is!). One can scroll over
the clothing to see what it is, but as soon as you move the mouse
outside of the window, sex acts start being preformed. When I first
read about it, I had not expected anything this graphic! It looks
like the day finally came when models are now actually having sex and
not just tempting viewers with it. I'm now terrified to see what else
will come and really don't ever want to have children, because I don't
want to bring them into a sick, twisted, and dimented world like ours.

I don't understand how they can get away with calling this art! This
is crap! I suppose one's arguement might be that it does not showcase
violence, but they probably have a more preverted mind then me,
because I find this offensive and shameful.

Here is the link for the article and within the article, it has the
link to the website.

CAUTION!!! It is extremely graphic! I could not watch it and had my
hand on the screen for the majority of the time. Don't watch if you think it might make you uncomfortable.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Becoming a well-rounded person

I know I criticize others quite a bit on my blog and the current state of pop culture, but, it's not all bad. I think it's what we decide to take in is what could be bad. I know that I take in a bunch of crap on a daily basis from radio, TV, and just about everywhere else. I'm sure there aren't many others who love to shop as much as I do. However, I also love to do many other things that many may not see on a surface level. This is probably the same with (hopefully) a large majority of the population. It's probably because the visual aspect of a person is the predominant theme when making their first impression.

Anyway, in today's culture, it seems so much harder to lead a well-balanced, diversified life. Is it because of what the media shows as a priority or just the portrayal of simplex concepts? I don't think there's anything wrong in having an appreciation of style and putting your life on hold once a year for New York's fashion week. As long as we have interests and appreciation for other parts of life, such as art, nature, and education. Why not also spend a weekend getting lost in a museum (my local favorite has always been the Fort Worth Kimbell Art Museum) , volunteering at one of many reputable charities (the government even has a site listing great Charities ), or demonstrating for a humanitarian effort you believe in ( InvisibleChildren.com )? There are so many layers of the human life that the media just can't peel away.

So, I was listening to NPR while coming back up to Denton tonight, and realized that I can subscribe to their podcast! How cool is that! I've been looking through what's available, rather than going to sleep, and found many casts teaching foreign languages! Now, rather than listening to just brainwashing/killing music, I can also learn stuff! How cool is it to have so many choices in just one area of life. Now, when I'm bored and stuck somewhere, I can learn Italian.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Random things that might be interesting...?

So I am currently babysitting in a very quiet house with sleeping kids who seem to have mega jetlag! Don't think they're going to be waking up. Anyway, I started looking at other blogs and I came across Todd Dominey's Blog . He's the guy who created the HTML layout for the design I am currently using in blogger. He's a creative director with a massive blog. Anyway, thought this link was awesome! Check out 10 Things I Hate About Commandments on YouTube! That movie actually looks kinda good with the way it's advertised. It goes to show you that, most of the time, the commercials of movies are better than the movies themselves.


P.S. If you haven't noticed, I'm brushing up on my HTML "skills." So if you're wondering how I'm linking things or doing other cool stuff (in the future), that's it.

The definition of female beauty according to magazine advertisements

Two-sentence summary of findings:
I was pleased to find that most women in the advertisements of the May and June issue of Cosmopolitan and Vogue were not as sexualized as I had previously assumed. However, I was shocked to find a serious lacking in the diversity of race, as well as hair and eye color.

Summary of the previous study:
Although there have been many studies found between the differences in attractive females, there has not been much of a definition nor distinction between beauties. They therefore found differing definitions of beauty by editors and model agencies and tested the prevalence to magazines and music videos.

Its most important foundation literature and how it relates to your own project:
The relevance of Beauty before the Eyes of Beholders: The Cultural encoding of Beauty Types in Magazine advertising and Music Television(Ashmore, Englis & Solomon, 1994, Journal of Advertising) was the finding that beauty was defined by a select few who are the cultural ‘gatekeepers’ of the time and that the qualities change over time. As opposed to earlier times when there was just one form or model of beauty, there are now differing views due to the “multiple and diverse cultural ideals of beauty.” Although there are now differing types of beauty, they “appear disproportionately across subcultural genres.” Although the coding scale was broader than what I choose to use, it did influence my more detail orientated coding. They’re coding scale was as follows: Feminine/Classic Beauty, Sensual/Exotic, Cute, Girl-Next-Door, Sex Kitten, and Trendy.

Corpus and method:
My corpus was of the first 20 full-page ads in the May and June 2006 issues of Cosmopolitan and Vogue. My method was quantitative content analysis, looking at the subject of the main character (whether Female, Male, or Product) and further coding only the female main character by physical attributes. As the study sampled fashion magazines that had a readership excess of one million 18- to 34-yearolds during March 1992, I sample two during May and June 2006 (Cosmopolitan and Vogue).

There was not just one ideal look as found by Ashmore, Englis & Solomon. The majority of advertisements were of white females. Coding which would suggest a demure or sexual undertone was diverse, but physical features were not. Out of 80 advertisements, the main content was 56 female and of those 56 females, 50 were white, 2 were Hispanic, 3 were black and 1 was undefined due to the masking of the ad. There were also more Blondes (18) and Brunettes (24) over other hair colors, but eye color varied a bit more.

Although face shapes and body types differed more so than previous expectations, race in advertisements was not nearly diverse enough. Because these ads were only of the first 20 pages in each magazine, it would be interesting to see if my findings differed over a larger number. Another positive fact was that most females were not depicted in a sexual way, with 24 being dressed as demure, 12 as suggestive, 8 as partially clad, 3 as nude and 14 that were not applicable.

Main findings came from the 1994 issue of the Journal of Advertising by Ashmore, Englis, & Solomon (Beauty before the eyes of beholders: The cultural encoding ob beauty types in magazine advertising and music television.)

Monday, May 22, 2006

More ad stuff...

How can they justify showing a really stupid commercial (in my opinion) to not allowing a conservative billboard with a "provocative" tagline?

Stupid commercial:
Little more info
http://www.stunningnikon.com/ (their website)

Info about the billboard
www.supriseparties.com (their website)

I'm kinda getting mixed signals here. I might be overanalyzing this, but is this supposed to say that women may only be sex objects for other's pleasure, but may not have their own pleasure? Just a thought...

Go Mavs!

The Mavericks are F*#%ing awesome!

Responsible ads and just plain stupid ads.

So after seeing the new smirnoff ice commercial one too many times depicting two fat, scruffy guys surrounded by scantly clad, "gorgeous" women, I had to comment. I'm not quite sure what to think. It pisses me off, because I feel like it's a social commentary on how it's ok for men to have big pale bellys, but women have to have perfectly taned bodies in order to 'get attention.'

I'm still trying to find a link for the commercial, but I've had no success. If anyone finds the link, please send it to me!

Smirnoff, however, isn't nessecarrily the bad guy. They have made responsible ads in the past as well. One played in the super bowl was a witty commercial with a woman, Alex, waiting for a blind date. She mistakes a guy as Brad, when she sees the real Brad as an obviously BAD blind date, the first guy saves her, saying that he is Brad. It's not only cute, but the Ad Agency, JWT, made sure they weren't pushing any wrong buttons by conferring with smirnoff's lead gay marketing personal. (More Info) That's the kind of responsibility that should be out there.

Other Smirnoff Ads:

Saturday, May 20, 2006

People are getting tired of being considered one-dimensional and the media should start taking notice.

While watching a show with my dad, a commercial for a new tv show struck me. It's another one of those everyone's beautiful, young, and rich and lives in a gorgeous place. The one thing that I found interestesting was that the characters were actually portrayed as complex. They were neither perfect, nor tainted. Maybe that's why so many adolecents tune into those "teenage dramas." Because they're in some ways like everyone else. They are both good and bad, and make mistakes. Granted these shows aren't ideal shows, they seem to be taking the path to complex, multi-dimensional characters which better portray people. Let's hope the trend evolves into something better!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Why the Double Standard?

So today we had a guest speaker who just finished her dissertation. She had researched working female journalists, as well as newspaper content in regard to women. Although some newsrooms had a large percentage of women journalists, there were still a larger amount of front page quotes and pictures by men. Generally 70% to 75% of front page quotes and pictures are of men.

How is it that there are more men portrayed in newspapers that may give their intellectual opinion, whereas the only place that has a higher percentage of women in pictures are magazines? Women seem to only be placed in the media as sexual objects and are only allowed to be seen if they are "perfectly fit."


I've also been watching the Mavericks playing the Spurs tonight. I try to watch most every game the Mavericks play, and it just occurred to me that the commentators are almost 100% male. They're mostly African American or White, and you never see anyone else of a different race or ethnicity other than American. There is one female commenting on the finals, however. She was in the WNBA and now interviews players after the game. She is the only female I can recall as a major commenter on a national station (TNT) in the past 5+ years I've been watching the Mavericks. The NBA is becoming even more diverse, with players coming from different countries, such as Germany, France, Brazil, China, etc. How is it that there are only African American or White Americans? There are only two races being represented and one ethnicity.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Do certain types of people sell better in the media, or is there another agenda going on?

After refreshing my memory about the stories of POWs in the Iraq war, my mind raced. I first compared searches on google between Jessica Lynch and Shoshanna Johnson. There were approximately 5,980,000 hits for Lynch, whereas Johnson only received approximately 159,000. What might even be more distressing is that the search result for male POWs only yielded 249,000. Although more than Johnson, we have to remember that she is just one person, whereas male POWs are a large group. Maybe it would have yielded more if I would have put a particular male’s name in, but I doubted it.
I also have to admit that I had never heard, or at least not remembered, the name Shoshanna Johnson, until in class today. I doubt many others have as well. I do remember, however, Jessica Lynch very vividly in the news. I even remember her on the cover of one of my Time magazines with many pages about her. Johnson, supposedly, was in the media as well, just not as mainstream. Now was this due to the differences in race? Or were there other factors involved?
Jessica was described as a “soft-spoken,” “petite, blond haired” soldier (CNN) . Her physical characteristics not befitting of a “typical soldier.” So, was she in the news because something bad happened to such a sweet, little, white girl, who received such a heroic rescue? She did seem to fit the stereotype of sweet and innocent rather well. She came from a small town, had plans to marry, and also set a fund for one of her fellow fallen soldier’s family. She also seemed to have true fear in her while being rescued and has ever since been very grateful to the “true heroes.”
In contrast, there was not much information given on Shoshanna. The articles seemed shorter, and there were more facts, than personal observations presented. Because I haven’t heard much about her, I can’t speculate much. Was it because she was black? Or maybe because she seemed to already be “more grown-up.” The article mentioned her daughter, but nothing of a husband. Would that detract from her? After all, Jennifer Briggs Kaski says that the “media… treat women as whores or virgins.” And with so much speculation, small truths turn into large lies. With a war going on, soldiers must always look like the good guy, or face opposition on something that’s not even there and/or not at all important.
Then again, was Jessica Lynch more prevalent in the media because of other things that were going on that day? Did the military have a certain agenda, therefore escalating coverage on Lynch? The day she was captured was the “heaviest loss of life for an individual US unit since the Mogadishu debacle of 1993 (BBC) .” After all, there were plenty of articles about Lynch and possible cover-up theories when searching for her name in BBC, but not one result came from searching Shoshanna Johnson’s name. Did they want to detract from what happened that day? In reports from BBC and Time Magazine, the doctors in Iraq were doing everything they could to help her and at one point tried to bring her back to a military station in a medical unit. It was also reported that the guns the soldiers fired while saving Lynch actually had blanks in them and since Afganistan, the Pentagon had been taking cues by Jerry Bruckheimer.
But even if there were such serious theories going on, the media would not have constantly reported developments on Lynch, had there not been interest by the public. This interest in this young lady was really a human-interest story, just as it seems to be the case with the missing girl, Natalie Halloway. Both are young, blond girls portrayed as sweet and harmless. Of course, everyone wants to know what’s going on with them until they are safe, because they care about them.
I think I am now rambling on, so I will have to comment on this more at a later time when I have something relevant to say.

Resource Links (click to go to link):

Lynch on CNN
Johnson on CNN
Saving Private Lynch story 'flawed' (by BBC)
US rejects BBC Lynch report (by BBC)
The other side of the Lynch story (by BBC)