Intertextuality and Women

Focusing on Women in the Media

Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll April 29, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paige @ 5:09 pm

We’ve caught up with ourselves and viewed two episodes from our present. Sex and the City and Weeds, two shows that reveal a more realistic version of our multi-faceted present-day woman. The women on TV in the 50s would have shielded their eyes after viewing episodes of these two shows. Although, Miranda, Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Nancy are all extremely different women, they represent just how complex the female is. Women are constantly defined by stereotypes and generalizations, but it isn’t that easy. Women are a complex breed and cannot be easily defined. We see that in these five women.

The episode of Sex and the City we watched was titled The Power of Female Sex. This theme reverberates in several shows we’ve watched before like Alice, Charlie’s Angels, Police Woman and so on and so forth. However, not all the woman in this episode feel that using sex for power is ethical like Miranda, the lawyer. It seems fitting that Miranda is the lawyer, she’s always the one second guessing everyone’s morals and would stereotypically be called the frigid bitch (Even though it seems Miranda has a sure hold on her sexuality, and seems to be using the man in her life in this episode.) Carrie, the journalist, is like Miranda in the fact that she also seems to be in control of her  morals and personal values. When Carrie is paid $1000 for a one night stand she questions whether to send the money back to the man who left it for her.  Samantha, the owner of her own Public Relations firm, immediately chips in and says something along the lines of why should you? If Samantha were a man we could liken her to Charlie Sheen, she is a full fledged sex addict, and she isn’t afraid to shout it out loud. She is proud of her sexuality. Samantha believes whole heartedly that money is power, and sex is power. Most importantly that sex is power. Then there is Charlotte, she wears pearls and is the closest we will get to June Cleaver. Charlotte works at an art gallery. She has the chance to meet one of the most famous artists of her time, and when she does her values are put to a test. The artist, a male version of Georgia O’Keefe, only painted cunts. Cunt was the word he used several times and he had no problems saying it. He believed that the cunt was the most powerful source in the universe, and that truth can only be found in the cunt. Then he asked Charlotte if he would like to model for him. Charlotte seemed extremely nervous but realized if she modeled for him she would have the opportunity to have him in her gallery. To Charlotte, the ends justified the means, and she modeled for him. So the artist was right, the cunt is the most powerful source in the universe. Later in the episode another frigid bitch appears in the form of a female maitre d’. Carrie calls her the most powerful woman in the city because she has the power to turn people away at the door, or seat them if she deems them worthy. Carrie meets this woman in the bathroom and the maitre d’ asks Carrie for a tampon. Honestly, if it were me I would probably have said no. Carrie, however, said yes and handed her the tampon. That tampon gave Carrie a table at that restaurant whenever she needed. Sex is power. The question is how do we use it?

Weeds is a different show, but we get the same message. Nancy Botwin is a widow, a mother, and a drug dealer. She lives in a suburban neighborhood, in a big house, and drives a big nice car. When she had a husband there was no need for Nancy to work, she was a stay at home mom. However, there are bills to pay and children to feed so Nancy needs to find a way to provide for her family. In the pilot episode titled, You Can’t Miss the Bear, we are introduced into the world that is Nancy’s. The show opens with Nancy at a PTA meeting discussing a possible ban on all sugary drinks. My mother never went to those PTA meetings. So far Nancy is shown as a caring and present mother. Then we see her at a soccer game! So Nancy is a soccer mom, but she is also a drug dealer. At the soccer games, she sits under a tent and waits for the other parents to come up to her and right in front of everyone, a transaction takes place. However, Nancy has her morals, she won’t deal to children. Nancy is a woman working in a man’s world. Not only is she a woman, she is a pretty woman working in a man’s world. In the episode we saw it wasn’t clear whether or not she actually used her sexuality as an advantage, but it seems clear that her sexuality must be an advantage. However, her sexuality could also be a disadvantage. Nevertheless, Nancy is a devoted mom who will go to any length to put food on her children’s table.

I plan on using Weeds in my final screening blog post. She is a widow who brings her work into the home, and later brings her children into her work as well.  Is she a good mother, or is she a horrendous mother? Will her parenting scar her children forever? Or are they already scarred because their father died, and they only have one parent? These are the questions that interest me, and I would like to use Weeds to help me answer these questions.

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Don’t Speak- The Simpsons and Buffy the Vampire Slayer April 18, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paige @ 8:28 pm

Women’s words have never really been valued as much as the words of men. For a while women weren’t even allowed to write or read. People just didn’t really see the point because women weren’t as smart as men. This has been especially evident throughout the history of television. However, it is also evident that women have started to gain of level of respect in the industry throughout recent years. Women have been given a voice, or rather our voice has just been recognized. Women’s voice has also gained a level of respect and is no longer shot down as mindless drivel. This change in how women are perceived and listened to is evident in two episodes recently viewed in class.

In the episode of The Simpsons titled, Lisa vs Malibu Stacy, the whole family is given money by their grandfather. They take a trip to the mall and there Lisa spots the newest speaking version of Malibu Stacy, she must have it. When Lisa brings it home and pulls her string she realizes Stacy is sending out horrible messages to little girls. For example, when Lisa pulls her string we hear, “thinking too much gives you wrinkles” or “don’t ask me, I’m just a girl.” Lisa is appalled at these messages and decides she must speak directly to the source and stop the sexist messages. In response to Lisa’s determination, Marge tells her to stop standing up for what she believes in so much. Marge is the prime example of a sitcom mom; she has the pearls, and no back bone. I would like to use this scene in my final screening post. It is the perfect example of how the moms portrayed in the 50s never told their daughters to go after what they wanted, they only told them to follow their predetermined paths. However, Lisa is the perfect example of the modern day woman. She stands up for her beliefs and challenges social norms and big corporations, and builds her own doll named ‘Lisa Lionheart.’  Lisa has something to say, and when she has something to say it isn’t just mindless drivel, but worthwhile lessons that all women can learn from.

In the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer titled, Hush, the whole town is stripped of their voices. It is up to Buffy and her team to save the day, and get back everyone’s voice. Buffy is not only blonde and beautiful, she kicks ass too. In this episode when her prospective man is in danger, she comes in to save the day, not the other way around. Voice is a strong theme in this episode and is portrayed in several different ways. In the beginning we are introduced to Buffy’s love interest, and we are aware that they both have feelings for each other. However, when it comes to making the move both become tongue tied and their babbling ruins the moment. Later in the episode, Buffy’s roommate is at a wicken meeting. She speaks up and inquires that they start working on the real stuff like spells. Most of them laugh at her but one girl tries to speak up. The girl is too nervous to speak up and misses the mark. Then the whole town’s voice is stolen by a group of fairy tale ghouls called, “the gentlemen.” They steal people’s voices so they can’t scream when the gentlemen are stealing their hearts. In the end Buffy saves the day and screams, killing the gentlemen. In turn, the townspeople have gotten their voices back and all normalcy is returned. This episode proves that sometimes words aren’t even necessary, but nonetheless shouldn’t be taken advantage of.

 

No More Glass Ceiling? Roseanne & Ellen

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paige @ 7:57 pm

Throughout this class we have seen women on many different levels. Some have been at the very bottom, and others have worked there way up to about as far as they could go. However, as we progress further into the 80s and 90s, we begin to see women take on a whole new role, a role of power. Ellen and Roseanne, both aired during the 80s and 90s, were complete different shows. Ellen, set in an urban area, was about a woman who worked in a coffee shop and was constantly surrounded by her friends. Roseanne, set in a rural area, was about a mother in a blue collar household and her every day life. However, both these shows were created in response to both their stand up acts. Ellen and Roseanne are in control not only on the screen, but behind the scenes. Both Roseanne and Ellen challenge the norms of television, and provide a break to the common sitcom.

In the episode of Roseanne titled, The Clip Show, we are taken back in time throughout the history of the show. One recurring theme found in this episode is the idea of motherhood. Roseanne is constantly questioning herself as a mother and comparing herself to others. We also see the supposed affects of her mothering on her youngest child Jeff. The main issue is that Roseanne is not the stereotypical mom found in most sitcom shows, she is her own breed. She raises her children in somewhat questionable ways, but who’s to say what is the right way to raise a child? Roseanne is a new kind of mom, perhaps the more realistic portrayal of a mom. Either way, Roseanne gives mothers across the country a chance to take a break and realize that life isn’t perfect, and there isn’t a right or wrong guide book to raising children, you just have to wing it. In the scenes where Roseanne is visited by the sitcom moms of the past it is evident that times are changing, and women are changing. Women no longer have to be stay at home moms, they can be the sole bread winner or executive producer of a hit television show.

Just like Roseanne challenged the idea of the sitcom mom, Ellen challenged the idea of the presence of a gay woman as the star of a sitcom. In one of the most controversial episodes of Ellen, for many different reasons, Ellen DeGeneres decided that she would have her character on her show come out of the closet. This wasn’t the first time a gay character was portrayed on television, but it was among the first to have the star of the show be openly gay. This episode titled, The Puppy Episode was basically a two part PR stunt. However, it further proves that women are gaining a level of equality and respect within the media and society. Ellen and Roseanne were both powerful women who used their power as a way to gain respect in their industry. These two examples are evidence as to how far women have progressed and moved forward since the early days of television.

 

Hands up- The Fight Between Feminism and Anti-Feminism April 9, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paige @ 5:41 pm

As the tension between third wave and second wave feminists grew, the depiction of women interacting with other women on television also was facing dramatic change. The producers and writers of many popular television shows saw this as an opportunity to exploit such issues, and highlight the tensions between feminism and anti-feminism. As of recent, the theme revolving around the shows we’ve been viewing have focused on female independence and proving themselves worthy of recognition. However, as tensions rise we see a different tone resonating within the females on screen.

In class we watched an episode of Charlie’s Angels titled, Angels in Chains, and an episode of Cagney and Lacey titled, Affirmative Action. In these two shows alone the shifting relationship between feminists and anti-feminists is quite evident.

In this episode of Charlie’s Angels, we see three sympathetic and helpful women looking out and protecting other helpless women. These three beautiful women don’t need men to help them, they are quite fine on their own. Their mission is to check out a sketchy prison. This prison has been picking up women on drug charges and later the women somehow disappear completely. The “Angels” are sent undercover into prison.  There are several women working in the prison that seem to be in on the funny stuff. The warden herself is running the whole scam. The girls discover that the prison is turning their prisoners into prostitutes and sending them to parties with the suppliers.

The main problem here is that the women working in the prison and the warden are exploiting their own sex. Who needs men when women treat other women just as degrading? This is anti-feminism at its peak. While the Angels are trying to help other women, these women are just bring other women down a notch. The anti-feminist message here is clear, and quite disturbing.

Cagney and Lacey also showed a strong sense of the fight between feminism and anti-feminism. In this episode titled, Affirmative Action, a new police woman is put on the force. Cagney and Lacey are a bit put off by the idea of having another woman on the force and also are annoyed by how well received she was by the other men. Diane, the new girl, is assigned to work with Cagney and Lacey. They are told to patrol and see if they can find anything they can help with. While driving around they come upon a fire and start to investigate. Diane claims its a murder but Cagney and Lacey disagree. It turns out Diane was right, it was a murder. This only furthers their annoyance. The tensions between Cagney, Lacey and Diane are quite evident. They are jealous and don’t want other any other women stealing their thunder. They are quite content being the only females on the squad, and are obviously pretty proud of how far they’ve come and how much they’ve achieved. In this episode the tensions are clear, these women don’t care that she is one of them. It’s every man for himself, or in this case, every woman for herself.

As a side note and a reference to our intertextuality discussions, I found it interesting how in this episode Diane goes off by herself and finds herself in a great deal of trouble. Usually when the woman goes off by herself, like in Police Woman, the men come to save the day. However, in this episode Cagney and Lacey appear to save the day and save the damsel in distress. In this situation we see that maybe Cagney and Lacey aren’t as hard as they seem, and when it is necessary they can drop their facade and help another woman out. Although, that is their job.

 

Independent Woman March 31, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paige @ 8:14 pm

Lady Godiva was a freedom rider
She didn’t care if the whole world looked.
Joan of Arc, with the Lord to guide her
She was a sister who really cooked.

Isadora was the first bra burner
Ain’t ya glad she showed up. (Oh yeah)
And when the country was falling apart
Betsy Ross got it all sewed up.

And then there’s Maude.
And then there’s Maude.
And then there’s Maude.
And then there’s Maude.
And then there’s Maude.
And then there’s Maude.
And then there’s

That uncompromisin’, enterprisin’, anything but tranquilizing,
Right on Maude.

The theme song to Maude explains it all. She was a pioneer. In one of the most controversial episodes of Maude, Maude’s Dilemma Part 1 and 2 (which aired two months before Roe v. Wade) Maude was faced with an important decision. She became pregnant at the age of 47, should she keep the baby? This is the first time abortion has been mentioned on television, and the affects it had on the audience were overwhelming.  In this episode we see Carol, Maude’s daughter, tell Maude that abortion isn’t a bad word anymore. We are introduced to the idea that women have some control over their bodies now. Carol exclaims, “we’re free!” She goes on to tell her mother that there is no reason to go through with this. After discussing the pregnancy with Walter, he gives her the responsibility of making the decision. Another shift in womens independence is shown here, Maude is wearing the pants. She is the one that is able to make this decision, rather than the husband making it for her. Maude is a strong and independent women much different to the women depicted on television in the past.

The idea of female independence is also evident in two other episodes viewed in class. In the pilot episode of Alice, we see a widowed mother trying to make it on her own. Of the three women, Alice seems to be the only one with a clear head on her shoulders. She know’s what she wants, and has a good idea of how to get it. Although not as blatant as Flo, Alice has a grasp on how her sexuality can help further her role in life. Alice dreams of being a singer, and has a glimpse of opportunity when she meets a so-called agent in the diner she works at. Alice agrees to a date with this agent, only after she realizes he may have the ability to make her dreams a reality.  Alice is using her sexuality as a way to get ahead. She has a goal and a child to care for, she will do anything to make her dreams come true.

In the pilot episode of, One Day at a Time, we are introduced to the hyper liberated single-mother of two, Ann. One Day at a Time was the first show to star a divorced mother with kids. At a time when divorce rates and out of wedlock births were high, this show was perfect. Ann Romano, an Avon worker, is the quintessential liberated women. My favorite quote of this episode was when she said something along the lines of, my father made my decisions for the first seventeen years, then my husband made my decisions, now I finally get to make my own decisions. She is an independent woman, able to make her own decisions. She wants to teach that to her kids as well. After an argument with her daughter about a camping trip, Ann lets her daughter make her own decision about whether or not she should go.  Ann, is in control of her life. Although she may have trouble at times, in the end she knows what she is doing. She is dating a younger guy and knows exactly where the relationship is not going, it is not headed towards the altar.

All of these women demonstrate a step towards equality of women on television. They are independent and are able to make their own decisions and solve their problems.

I would like to include these women in my screening blog. They are all mothers raising their children in different, and sometimes questionable, ways. Although their children are being raised differently,  the mothers seem to have a firm grasp on mothering and child rearing. These women would be a perfect addition to my investigation on the portrayal of childrearing throughout television.

 

Childrearing Throughout Television March 27, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paige @ 4:37 pm

 

Throughout the years the portrayal of parenting has changed dramatically. As a child, growing up with two working parents, I never knew what it was like to have the quintessential “TV mom.”  To this day I still wonder if I would have rather had my mom at home while my dad provided and supported our family financially.

Looking back at the stereotypical TV mom’s like June Cleaver, Donna Reed, and Margaret Anderson it is amazing to see how much parenting has changed. It also makes you wonder if the parents portrayed on television actually reflected the parenting going on off screen.

For my screening blog I plan to focus on the ever-changing portrayal of parenting and childrearing throughout the years of television. I find it particularly interesting that as of recent, fathers have been becoming more and more prevalent in the role of parenting. Single-parent homes are also a semi new addition to the TV repertoire.

Some questions I’d like to answer in my screening blog post are…

  • When did the shift from mothers as the primary child rearer to fathers having a bigger role take place in television?
  • When did we start to see more single-parent homes on television?
  • When did we start to see same sex parenting on television?
  • What was the context of these changes?
  • Are the changes portrayed in a positive or negative light?

Parenting and child rearing is a subject that greatly interests me. I am excited to see what this screening blog post reveals about the portrayal of parenting in television, and the truth behind it.

 

The Power of the Sexual Being March 19, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paige @ 4:35 pm

 

After viewing episodes of Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie, and Police Woman, the differences between these woman are quite obvious; These woman have power, and they know how to use it.

Samantha, of Bewitched, may seem like an ordinary house wife (that is until she wiggles her nose and disappears to Paris.) Normal house wife is really all Sam wants to be though, but her magical powers prevent her from doing so. Her magical powers bring Samantha the kind of power that an ordinary house wife longs for, and this makes Darren obviously uncomfortable. Darren doesn’t like Samantha using her powers, and tells her not to use them. Darren is exerting what power he has over Samantha and attempting to tame her.

It is a different relationship with Samantha and Darren than many other television shows we see at this time. Although we see the stereotypical submissive wife in Samantha, we also get a sense that she is using it in a sort of manipulative way. It seems that the true man in the house is Samantha, and although she acts like a normal house wife, she has the power.

Jeanie, of I Dream of Jeanie, is another example of woman having dominance over their men. It is quite obvious that the more sexual and in control you are of your body, the more power you have. I would argue that Jeanie uses her sexual powers rather than her genie powers in taking control of her master, Tony. Tony has absolutely no control over Jeanie for two reasons, the first being that he granted her her freedom in the beginning of the series. The second reason is that she is a purely sexual being, she wears racy clothing and is confident about her sexuality.

Once Tony set Jeanie free he relinquished whatever power as a man he had over woman, and is now under the spell of Jeanie.

Angie Dickinson, the actress who played Penny Anderson in Police Woman, had no magical powers. Instead, her power was her sexuality and confidence as a woman. In an all male squad Penny held her own and took control over most situations. She was not portrayed as a ditzy working woman, but rather as a strong independent sexy woman who knew what she was doing. Although she often used her sexuality as a way to fight crime, it’s obvious that that wasn’t the sole cause of her success.

It takes a strong man to be a cop, and an even stronger woman to be a police woman.