Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Jasper, Texas

I watched the movie "Jasper, Texas" the other night and thought it was worth talking about. I think that the most striking part of the movie was that it brought to light the fact that terrible, infuriating racism still exists in America today. In a lot of ways, it seems that there are people who haven't progressed very far since the Civil War, both blacks and whites.

For those who don't know, the movie is about the dragging death of a black man in the small town of Jasper, Texas, back in 1998. I don't know much about the case, but it was an unimaginably brutal, terrifying, and painful death that the man suffered. They showed images of his body in the movie, and although I'm not sure if they were real or recreated, it was clear that he was conscious of what was happening to him as he was dragged up until the moment that he was decapitated.

I think the movie was a little contrived at the end. The town cemetary had a fence that created a white side and a black side. The movie ends with people of all races taking down the fence, smiling and working together. I kind of thought, ok, we get it, Jasper is all about racial equality and peace now. But overall, the movie made a lot of interesting points.

I totally agree with the film that racism still exists today. One point the movie made was that, even if people don't act out on their racism, it still manifests itself in perhaps latent ways. I think everyone has ideas of what a white or black or Asian or Hispanic person should act like; it doesn't mean that we're gonna' start burning crosses or marching down the street with rifles. Most of us wouldn't even consider ourselves racist. But we have a long way to go in terms of becoming color blind.

Monday, November 28, 2005

GET WELL, DR.L!

We're all rooting for you. Take care.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Attempt at a post

I'm trying, but I got nothin'. The world is still racist. The world is still sexist. Maybe I'll have an opinion tomorrow.

Friday, October 28, 2005

I recently had to do a team project for Qualitative Research Methods. I used what we talked about at the beginning of the semester as a place to start: my partner and I decided to look at media coverage of white and minority missing persons cases. We focused on adult females and narrowed it down further to Natalee Holloway, Tamika Huston, Laci Peterson, Evelyn Hernandez, Latoyia Figueroa, Chandra Levy, and Ardena Carter.

We looked at newspaper articles that covered the girls' cases and examined the rhetoric they used to talk about and describe each girl. The results were disappointing, but not surprising.

Natalee Holloway and Tamika Huston had similar stories. They were both pretty young girls, not single mothers or drug abusers. What was interesting about these two was that they weren't really described differently. Natalee is portrayed as a beauty and an honors student; Tamika was vibrant and full of energy. I found that, in the case of these two girls, it was the numbers that were different. The sheer volume of stories about Natalee Holloway was stunning. Tamika got about a tenth of the coverage that Natalee got.

Laci Peterson, Evelyn Hernandez, and Latoyia Figueroa were all pregnant when they disappeared. But, as we expected, we found that Laci got much more coverage than the other two. In terms of the rhetoric used to describe them, certain facts were stressed about each woman that may have influenced why they did or did not receive media attention. Laci's pregnancy, her profession as a teacher, and her husband's extramarital affair were all highlighted. Evelyn and Latoyia were single mothers in low paying professions. They lacked the "angelic qualities" and the gossip-factor that Laci had.

One of the most interesting things that I found in my research was a scholarly article that made a valid hypothesis: the author said that poor minority women receive less attention because the public expects crimes like kidnapping and murder among people of a certain race or class. Even if there are statistics to back that up, there is no reason why white women should be covered more than minority women. They say that God is no respecter of persons, and the media shouldn't be either.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Quote of the Day (I'm in the middle of "The Proud Highway")

"As far as I'm concerned, it's a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hagridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity."
~Hunter S. Thompson

In defense of George Bush (the last thing you'd expect from this liberal)

I'm trying to think of something intelligent to write about for my weekly post, but I haven't noticed anything striking lately. So I'll point out some minor, random things.

I don't listen to rap unless my boyfriend makes me (I'm more of a Beatles fan), but we were in the car the other night and I heard a song that kind of bothered me. I don't know who the artist is (I think it's Kanye West, and don't laugh if I spelled that wrong) but the lyrics are all about how the black community was wronged during Hurricane Katrina. And there's this one line he says over and over again: "George Bush don't like black people," or something like that. And he changes it from George Bush to the cops, and various others who don't like black people. According to my boyfriend, there are a few versions of this song, one of which talks about the different kinds of girls in Dallas (something about Highland Park girls only dating guys who wear flip-flops and go to SMU). My point in bringing this up is twofold:

1.) I'm the biggest liberal and I'll be the first in line to admit that President Bush isn't the greatest guy in the world. But to say that he doesn't like black people...is that taking freedom of speech too far? I suppose some people would say that freedom of speech can't really be taken to far. But for three more years (ugh) he's the president. He deserves a limited amount of respect.

2.) Does anyone agree with the song? Does anyone feel that the president really doesn't like black people? I would argue that if there's anyone he doesn't like, it's Arab people (a la "we're gonna' smoke 'im out"). But as the Arab community is lacking in rap artists, we may not see a significant amount of backlash in that form. Indeed, response to the hurricane was horribly slow, but is the leader of the free world a racist? Food for thought.

Other than that song, I've noticed a few things in advertising. There's a new Swiffer commercial that shows a dad and his son cleaning the carpet. When I first saw it, I thought, "Sweet, look at forward-thinking Swiffer putting men in their commercials." But then the mom walks in (probably from shopping, because that's what women do) and says, "Can I try?" So they couldn't leave mom out. She's got the instinct to clean. Please.

I would encourage everyone to send angry emails to Hoover. Last year they had a commercial for a "quieter vacuum." This is how they tried to sell it: mom is vacuuming with her super silent Hoover, and when she's done, she looks in the living room to make sure she hasn't woken her husband and son who are SLEEPING ON THE COUCH. God forbid. I sent an angry email, and someone replied with some b.s. about how they have lots of men in their commercials. Yeah, sleeping ones.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Quote of the Day

"A good writer stands above movements, neither a leader or a follower, but a bright white golfball in a fairway of windblown daisies."
-Hunter S. Thompson

"Group Sex for Sale"

While doing some research for the paper due next week, I came across a great article in Esquire. The article seems to contradict the magazine's almost laughably excessive sexist advertising. It's called "Group Sex for Sale," and it's written by Chuck Klosterman.

Says Klosterman: "The longer I think about the premise of using group-sex scenarios to promote vodka (or shower gel, or a casino), the more this premise starts to seem both a) wildly impractical and b) weirdly predictable. And those two conditions should never exist at the same time."

So he's scrutinizing this form of sexist advertising (and it is sexist, because it's usually one man and multiple women, or just multiple women). But the very magazine that contains this rare moment of male insight boasts some of the very advertisements the article condemns. So it's like, ok, what's the point? Why bother?

I appreciate this attempt at admitting there's a problem, but I have yet to see something done about it. At least even it up a little. How 'bout a girl with a couple of shirtless guys? But on second thought, nevermind. I think that girls are better at understanding that just one member of the opposite sex at a time can be too much. They'd end up fighting over who has to do the cuddling.

Read the article for yourself and see what comes to mind. Let me know your thoughts.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Crash

I'm a little bit behind on movies because I generally wait until they come out on DVD instead of going to the theater. So it was only the other night that I finally saw "Crash," and it screams of the things we're talking about in class. Anyone who has not yet seen it should rent it as soon as possible.

The movie is incredibly courageous
in that it says and portrays the things that people think to themselves but are too scared to talk about. It hits on just about every racial taboo and stereotype possible. In it, black people steal cars and well-to-do black people are just trying to be white; white people are rich and racist; cops are bigots; Hispanics are thugs; Arabs (well, they're Persians, which we find out in a tragic way) own convenience stores; and Asians can't drive or speak English. The great part about the film is that the people in it all fit into these stereotypes to a certain degree. But said stereotypes are dashed when the humanity of the characters is revealed.

The "moral," if you will, of the movie is that, when you take away the money and the outward appearances and the opinions, we are all reduced to a common denominator. We all love and hate and have families that we care about. Sometimes we feel lonely and sometimes that's our own fault. Some of us are given second chances and some of us die. But we're all the same, really.

Even though the movie doesn't really have anything to do with the media specifically, I think its message is pertinent to our class. The media should portray people as people, not as colors or characteristics. When I read about a murder, I don't really feel the need to know the race of the killer. The point of the story should be the tragedy of a life lost. But that's just me. Stories like that probably don't sell.