Monday, November 28, 2016

Christensen- Blog Post

In her piece, Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us , Linda Christensen discusses the underlying messages, described by author Ariel Dorfman as a "secret education",  found in children's media such as books, TV shows, and movies. 

Christensen describes how this secret education "instructs young people to accept the world as it is portrayed in these  social blue prints. And often that world depicts the domination of one sex, one race, one class, or one country over a weaker counterpart" (126). This is the same one sex, race, class, and country which makes up Leslie Grinner's SCWAAMP. This information which is portrayed captivates and manipulates the views of societal members at a very young age. Growing up children only experience first hand their own way of life, their race, their culture, their social class, etc., and therefore to formulate an opinion of other cultures, that information is received second hand through various forms of media. Due to this these opinions are often formulated into stereotypes of these other cultures rather than fact. 

She then quotes Dorfman, who says, "we are also taught how to love, how to buy, how to conquer, how to forget the past and suppress the future. We are taught more than anything else, how not to rebel" (128). These media forces and the SCWAAMP-ness of them reinforce a society which only has one way to success. This relates back to Delpit and the culture of power. While it is shown through the media, it is wrapped in stereotypes which increases the value of the one culture of power, while decreasing the value of all others, making those rules and codes seem unattainable to those outside the culture of power. 

The majority of these stereotypes are most easily found in the older cartoons, where aspects are most blatantly portrayed. But it is also necessary to note that these stereotypes and the culture of power are still portrayed in the media today, you just need to use a more focused lens to locate and find them in some situations. Beyond the stereotypical representation, being accurately represented beyond just a background character itself is a rarity. A woman main character is hard enough to find, let alone a main character who is a woman of color, and even then having that be character be a strong established character is even more of a feat to find. 

One of Christensen's students wrote "Women who aren't white begin to feel left out and ugly because they never get to play the princess" (131). Controversy over Disney and their lack of proper representation in their princesses and movies is something which still is occurring and flourishing. In 2012 with the release of Disney's Frozen backlash broke out over the whitewashing of the native Scandanavians, as there was not a single person of color in the entirety of the movie, and the fact that it is a repeated pattern in Disney's movies. 

While searching for a picture of the story which Christensen mentioned
as representation, all the search results were still of a white Cinderella. 
As mentioned above, having a strong female lead character is something which is not easily found in children's media. Christensen explains how representation for women of color could be found in Mary Carter Smith's "Cindy Ellie, A Modern Fairy Tale", a retelling of the classic "Cinderella" where Cindy Ellie is a young black woman from East Baltimore. While it is a quality piece for representation, Christensen explains "if the race of the character is the only thing changing, injustices still remain" (132). The character of Cinderella is still only focused on winning a man, and her value is found in a transformation of beauty and consumption. While breaking down racial walls, typical gender stereotypes are still exemplified and young girls still see their only worth being found through getting the looks and getting the guy. 

Christensen focuses throughout on the importance of educating students about these issues in the media they have experienced their whole lives. While in many ways it is difficult for students to come to the realization that their perceptions of the world have been manipulated by the media, it allows for the beginning of a change to be made. The enlightenment to the manipulation of representation and views in the media moves beyond just that and is made applicable to other aspects of life and those walls and stereotypes can begin to be broken through and a change can begin to be made. 

1 comment:

  1. I love the screenshot of your google search! Insane it was all white cinderellas.