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Women in Movies and TV: Why Does Hollywood Always Portray Women as Weak and Helpless?
So brainwashed is the public that women should always be portrayed as weak, hapless and defenseless, that a most-brilliant Nike commercial was pulled shortly after it was aired on TV: Woman is sleeping. Man with chainsaw breaks through front door. Woman bolts awake and escapes through window into the dark. The chainsaw man storms through house and out same window. Woman is running through woods. Viewer hears chainsaw man in pursuit.

But something is peculiar here. The woman is running with beautiful strides, easily clearing forest-floor obstacles, and doesn't stumble! The scene switches back and forth between the agile woman and the increasingly out-of-breath man. Woman continues to run effortlessly, while man eventually slows, panting heavily, stops completely and can barely catch his breath.

Next scene against a black screen are the words: Why sport? It just might save your life. Nike. Just do it.

This brilliant ad was pulled because of complaints it was "offensive." Shame on anyone who complained. These overly sensitive viewers just couldn't grasp the concept of a woman outrunning a man. Yet I wonder how many of these feeble-brained viewers have enjoyed movies and TV shows showing women clumsily running from men, then tripping and falling, then being captured by the men.

A solid rant, with several good points to keep in mind when it comes to those damned drama wrist-grabs. Sheesh. Carrying on:

Images of Femininity: Media Portrayals of Women
Another problem with television today is the unreality it is showing. While it is admirable of producers to make shows with women as positive role models, Americans lose sight of what reality is like and are lulled into a false sense that everything's okay now. Equality won and women all across the country are empowered. There is a sense that women have no reason to fight to further improve things. This is because today's shows, depicting a higher than average number of women in well paying jobs, give the idea that women have achieved job equality (Weimann, p. 125).


On the Translation of Dreams
One of my students ... is an enormous fan of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series; according to her, the show perfectly encapsulates the hellishness of high school in Korea. And believe me, if you think high school was bad for you, it could have been worse. Korean society is obsessed with education, in a way that a number of my Korean friends agree is unhealthy or even destructive. The stories my university students tell me (with affable smiles and quiet resignation) about physical and psychological abuse in dingy hallways at the hands of teachers, of their senior year spent doing nothing but studying for the university entrance exams that will hyperdetermine many of their adult lives, and the outright fascism of the high schools most of them attended — their stories are nothing short of horrifying.

Little wonder that not only the Yeogo Gwoedam, but also many other Korean horror films, revolve around high schools and high school children. I was not surprised too much when I was told that, while in the West we are obsessing about terrorists and fascist governments, Korean genre stories feature recurrent glimpses of classrooms and students and study.

Each society’s dreams and nightmares reflect its waking life. And with literary SF, when the nightmares and the dreams are more powerfully locked into the society’s preoccupations, which must, absolutely, make translating the stuff a herculean task.


What Is Aegyo And How Can We Kill It? (part one), part four (five parts total)

From a discussion of 'aegyo', a Korean woman-gendered behavior (though not exclusive to women, just predominantly women-used and -identified).
I got to thinking about aegyo (애교) after reading the definition given by James Turnbull:
[a] collection of childish speaking styles, gestures, and mannerisms

James’ intention here is clearly not to give a rigorous definition, but the very act of trying to break down what it means set my gears in motion.

Childish? I hadn’t thought to apply the word ‘childish’ to the aegyo phenomenon, but obviously that’s my bad. But rather than pick apart someone else’s off-the-cuff definition of aegyo, it’s only fair that I attempt my own ill-fated definition, so here goes:
Aegyo (애교): affected sweetness

I’ll unpack it a bit for you. Aegyo is affected, in that it describes conscious performance on the part of the person displaying aegyo. One does not normally use the term to describe innate features. A voice does not contain aegyo simply because it sounds like that of a child. It’s all about what one does with the voice that defines the presence or absence of aegyo. I choose the word ‘sweetness’ because all of the other choices lack some thing or another. ‘Charm’ is an obvious possibility, but it is too general. ‘Affected charm’ would define a very broad category of which aegyo is but a small subset. Korean-English dictionaries often use the word ‘winsome’, but frankly I doubt many of us have a really clear mental image of what winsomeness entails. Other words used in dictionaries (lovely, alluring, courtesy, etc.) all fail to capture what aegyo is all about. ‘Coquettishness’ probably comes closest in sense, but carries a connotation of flirting which is absent from aegyo. The concept of aegyo is independent from the concept of flirting, although the two can and do overlap on occasion. I also considered and rejected ‘affected weakness’, as although I think this is more accurate than ‘affected sweetness’, the popular understanding of the word ‘weakness’ would overshadow what I’m getting at.

From part 4:
Here’s a quote from Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class:
Apart from this general control exercised by the norm of conspicuous waste over the ideal of feminine beauty, there are one or two details which merit specific mention as showing how it may exercise an extreme constraint in detail over men’s sense of beauty in women. It has already been noticed that at the stages of economic evolution at which conspicuous leisure is much regarded as a means of good repute, the ideal requires delicate features and diminutive hands and feet ad a slender waist. These features, together with the other, related faults of structure that commonly go with them, go to show that the person so affected is incapable of useful effort and must therefore be supported in idleness by her owner. She is useless and expensive, and she is consequently valuable as evidence of pecuniary strength.

But we live in a knowledge society. For a large part of the Korean populace exemption from physical labor is a given. Thus the question becomes this: if men are driven in their ideal of beauty to women who can evince the man’s capacity to waste through their own ‘incapability of useful effort’, and we live in a society in which useful effort entails manipulating symbols and information and commanding the respect and attention of people rather than plowing fields or assembling cars, then what features would such men seek in women? How could a woman display her uselessness in as clear a way possible?

By acting like a moron.


Reading the Lolita Effect in Korea, Part 2: The role of K-pop and the Korean media in sexual socialization and the formation of body image

[The] notion that the feminist sexual empowerment of girls and women is what primarily motivated the appearances of Wonderbaby, the girls in the After School videos, the tight pants of 15 year-old Sulli, and 16 year old Bae Su-ji’s pose above is simply absurd, and indeed there is solid evidence that most young female entertainers are in fact pressured to wear their supposedly empowering skimpy clothing (and dance provocatively) rather than doing so out of choice. But although such arguments have still been made in Korea nevertheless, the overwhelming public attitude is to stick one’s head in the sand and deny the existence of teenage sexuality at all (let alone child sexuality), as this Korean commentator complains himself.

And in a sense, this is the official Korean government position too, if the article “Swept up by Girl Groups” by Jeong Deok-hyun is anything to go by. You can find it on pages 44-48 of the March 2010 edition of Korea Magazine, the official magazine of the Korean Culture and Information Service (downloadable here), and about this specific part on page 48…
The shadow of recession and nostalgia:  Some are so surprised by the elder generations’ enthusiasm for girl groups that they cannot help but mention the Lolita complex. Nevertheless, that would be an example of an exaggerated principle that remains from the past authoritarian era. In the course of shifting from a masculine-dominated era to one of feminine equality, the imposing frames of age and gender are being slowly torn down. The time has come in pop culture where a man in his 40s can cheer for teenage girl groups without being looked at suspiciously[.]

…my friend Dr. Stephen Epstein, Director of the Asian Studies Institute at Victoria University wrote to me:
The logic here is almost comical: the empowerment present is not that it brings young women to a heightened sense of their own possibilities in the world (which is mentioned nowhere in the piece), but rather that pop culture commodification of sexuality has reached the point that middle-aged men now have the privilege of ogling teenage girls in bands without fear of embarrassment. Now that’s what I call empowerment….

Handbook of Social Pschology by Susan T. Fiske, Daniel T. Gilbert, Gardner Lindzey [google books]
from page 952:
Prescriptive gender-role stereotypes aim to preserve the status quo, controlling the behavior of both genders (Ruble & Ruble, 1982(. Men must conform to high-status male roles requiring agency (action, leadership, autonomy) and not especially communion (emotional sensitivity and expressivity, social harmony). Indeed, according to meta-analyses, male agency appears consistently: Boys are more active and intense, compared with girls, who are more inhibited and perceptually sensitive (Else-Quest, Hyde, Goldsmith, & van Hulle, 2006). Men resist another's incivility as a status challenge more readily than women do (Porath, Overbeck, & Pearson, 2008). Masculine negotiating styles produce more one-sided outcomes (Kray, Reb, Galinsky, & Thompson, 2004). Men aggress physically and overtly, whereas women aggress socially (Eagly & Steffen, 1986). Men help heroically, whereas women help by care-taking over the long haul (Eagly & Crowley, 1986). Small wonder that men and women embody power differently: Men associate physical force with power, whereas women associate physical force with loss of power (Schubert, 2004). Violating these gender rules invites ridicule and rejection (Carranza, Larsen, & Prentice, 2009). Similarly, women who behave agentically, by self-promoting, for example, risk rejection, sabotage, and backlash (Rudman, 1998; Rudman & Glick, 1990, 2001) and forfeit romantic appeal (Rudman & Heppen, 2003). For both men and women, gender-atypical success threatens peers (Rudman & Fairchild, 2004), so both genders tend to conform.

(Not that this is news to anyone, but I wanted to save the summary as well as the citations.)

Propp's Analysis of Folk Tales
I wonder how these would line up if I were to analyze the average rom-com or drama plot in light of folk tale structures.
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kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
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"When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

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