Race and Representations presented in “Relevant comics”Green Lantern/Green Arrow

This post will be looking at race and representation. These theories and concepts will be analysed and applied to the 1970s “Relevant comics” of Green Lantern/Green Arrow created by comic writer Denny O’Neil and artist Neal Adams.

Starting with Green Lantern/Green Arrow vol. 2 #76, writer Denny O’Neil introduce racism, something that was still politically relevant in the decade of the 70s. “In his work, Cone acknowledges that racism harms whites yet he emphasizes that the need to recognize the difference between the hurt oppressors feel and the pain of the oppressed”. (Hooks 1992, p 9) In the issue an old African-American explains how he’s read that Hal has helped several different races and species in outer space, but how he’s forgotten to help the black skinned race. This revolutionised the character of Hal Jordan because Denny O’Neil highlighted that racism should be seen and talked about by the young generation of readers that were growing up in a racially divided America.

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In issue’s epilogue, Green Arrow advises Hal to not be a puppet of the guardians of Oa and to remember America for the beautiful country that it is. He details somewhat of a history lesson to both Hal and the readers as he explains how both Martin Luther King Jr and President JFK, where both good men of their respected races and how they both fell. The art of this panel, beautifully illustrated the haunting message, that Denny O’Neil wanted readers to take to heart.

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Vol. 2 #87, saw the introduction of John Steward; who would become a fan favourite through the Justice League animated cartoons (2001-2006).“The oppositional black culture that emerged in the context of apartheid and segregation has been one of the few locations that has provided a space for the kind of decolonization that makes loving blackness possible” (Hooks 1992, p 9). With the creation of John Stewart, O’Neil chose to represent him coming from the state of Detroit Michigan. The reason for this is prior to the 70s, Detroit suffered major problems which included; job losses, unemployment, increased crime and riots.Throughout the issue both Hal and John have conflicts with each other, with their opposing racial ideologies. It is in the last page of the issue where Hal’s bigotries about John is proven wrong. Both Hal and the readers are shown that black people are not defined by the their backgrounds or the negative representations the media has of them.

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With #79, O’Neil touched upon Native American culture and rights, “often it is only in the realm of fiction that this reality can be acknowledged, that the unspeakable can be named”, (Hooks 1992, p 12).The issue represents how Native Americans, are trying to keep and preserve their land from the “colonizing force” (Hooks 1992, p 12) of the white people who are trying to drive them out and take it from them. It is throughout the actions of both Green Lantern and Green Arrow, where they were helping “erase the horrors that white racists, had perpetrated against the red people” (Hooks 1992, p 12). O’Neil once gain presents a history lesson, by highlighting and detailing the struggles Native American’s were facing in the 70s.

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Whiteness – Friends & How I Met Your Mother

This post will be analysing and applying the notion of whiteness within the text of American sitcoms, Friends (D. Crane. & M. Kauffman. 1994-2004) and How I Met Your Mother (C. Bays. & C. Thomas. 2005-2014), respectively.

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Within the book; “The Matter of Whiteness”, Richard Dyer mentions how “Research into books, museums, the press, advertising, films, television, software repeatedly shows that in western representation whites are overwhelmingly and disproportionately predominant, have the central and elaborate roles” (Dyer, White: essays on race and culture). This is evident with the settings and cast members of both show. Similar to each other, both friends and How I Met Your Mother, represented a group of twenty something New Yorkers, all having stable employment and occupations. Although both shows featured white-blooded Americans, HIMYM included the recurring character of James Stinson (Wayne Brady), the brother of main character Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris), who is represented as an African-American.

Both texts presents somewhat of an idealistic representation with its main characters. This happens because white people are systematically privileged in western society, enjoy ‘unearned advantage and conferred dominance’ (Ibid.:14) (Dyer, White: essays on race and culture). With Friends the character Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston), starts off my having a simple waitress job, but with later seasons she climbs the latter by transitioning into the fashion industry, by becoming a personal shopper for big cooperate brands like Bloomingdales and Ralph Lauren.

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Likewise, with HIMYM, the character of Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segal), aspires to become an environmental lawyer; a lifelong dream of his, who helps out the little guy. He soon evolves into a cooperate sell-out when he accepts a banking job from his friend Barney, who also works there. With this his mind-set soon changes to that of the American Dream, as he begins worrying about making enough money for him and his wife Lily (Alyson Hannifin), to move from their small New York apartment to a suburban house where they can live and start a family.

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Shows like Pretty Little Liars and The Big Bang Theory, which both features a group of protagonist living their daily lives, shows to have a balance that there is in opposition to Whiteness. Both shows features Asian characters; Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell) and Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar), that make up the main cast. In the end however it is easy to see that these two show are only a few that choose to have an equality through their representation of characters, and by looking at the figures behind the creation of all media texts discussed, it is easy to agree that the quotes mentioned by Dyer; “Yet we have not yet reached a situation in which white people and white cultural agendas are no longer in the ascendant” and “The media, politics, education are still in the hands of white people, still speak for whites while claiming – and sometimes sincerely aiming – to speak for humanity”, (Dyer, White: essays on race and culture) are still true to this day.

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Bibliography

Dyer, R. 1996. ‘The Matter of Whiteness.’ In White: Essays on Race and Culture. London: Routledge, pp. 1-40.

Filmography

Friends (1994-2004) Network: Warner Bros.

How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014) Network: CBS

Pretty Little Liars (2010-present) Network: ABC

The Big Bang Theory (2007-present) Network: CBS

Spectatorship – Michael Bay’s Transformers

Since its conceptualisation, Laura Mulvey’s critique of the male gaze and its visual pleasures for cinema spectators has been a springboard for much feminist film criticism since 1975 (Mulvey 1994, 19).

The theories of Mulvey are still relevant today and can be seen being represented in many films and franchises. One director in particular; Michael bay who has become infamously known for his use of sexualised female characters, product placements and explosive action sequences, controversially presents the male glaze throughout the transformers franchise (M. Bay 2009-present).

Within in films Michael Bay presents a sexist representation, as he always includes sexualised lead female characters who are love interests for main protagonist Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). In the first instalment Sam is stranded on the side of the rode with a broken car, Mikaela having left and dumped her jock boyfriend offers to help repair his car. Sam Witwicky is the positioned as “the masculine spectator” (Mulvey 1994, p 20) as he heavily focuses on Mikaela’s bend over body fixing the hood his car. Michael Bay direction also highlights this as he uses “a selection of shots, close-ups and angles” (Mulvey 1994), when focusing on Mikaela cleavage, curves and buttocks. Likewise, the second instalment includes a scene of Mikael placed on top of a motorcycle that she’s repairing, with the camera zooming and focusing on her legs and tightly worn shirt and top.

With the characters and love interests of the first three instalments of Transformers, it not just Sam Witwicky who the masculine spectator but it can also be shown to be young teenaged males of the audience that are masculine spectators since they are enjoying watching attractive girls being placed new fancy sport cars. However, with the fourth instalment (Age of Extinction: 2014), director Michael Bay controversially depicts female lead (Nicola Peltz), which may raise strong debates about spectatorship and the male gaze. While on the run from federal agents, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) and daughter Tessa Yeager, are rescued by her boyfriend Joshua Joyce (Jack Reynor).

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The scene in which Cade Yeager first meets her daughter boyfriend he disapproves of the relationship between them as she is 17-years-old therefore underage to be dating the 20-year-old. If viewed male spectators may decide to take what Mulvey describes, a “passive spectatorship” (Mulvey 1994), since the scene in question can be viewed as being inappropriate on Michael bay’s part, however with his typical choice and casting of an attractive female actress, male spectators have the “privilege of invisibility of looking without themselves being looked at” (Mulvey 1994, p 21)

Comparisons can be made with and another popular franchise featuring the same element of cars. The fast and furious franchise (Multiple 2001-present), presents a male gaze through its representation of muscle sport cars and high octane action sequences. The film presents female characters (Michelle Rodriguez, Jordanna Brewster, Gal Gadot) who although are sexualized, are presented as strong and empowered who can keep up with the male characters. With these characters a female spectatorship is created by women in the audience who bring “their particular history and social identity” (Mulvey 1994, p 22)

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Bibliography

Stacey, J. ‘From the Male Gaze to the Female Spectator’ In Star Gazing: Hollywood Cinema and Female Spectatorship. London, New York: Routledge, pp. 19-48

Filmography

Transformers franchise. (2009-present) Dir. M. Bay. [Film] USA: Paramount Pictures

Fast and Furious franchise. (2001-Present) Dir. Multiple. USA: Universal Studios

 

 

Psychoanalysis – Partition

In this post several Freudian psychoanalytical theories will be applied to Beyoncé’s music video Partition, a song taken from her 2013 self-titles firth studio album.

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Throughout the video, Beyoncé is fetishised. This is evident with shots heavily focused on Beyoncé’s breasts, buttocks and legs. “Fetishism, Freud first pointed out, involves displacing the sight of women’s imaginary castration onto a variety of reassuring but often surprising objects – shoes, corsets, rubber gloves, belts, knickers and so on – which serve as signs for the lost penis but have no direct connection with it”. (Mulvey 1975, 10). A short second shot of the video depicts Jay Z’s hand placed on Beyoncé’s buttock, this highlights that he has created for himself a fetish, to help him cope with his fear of castration anxiety. For him it’s his wife buttocks, that serves as the “lost penis”, Freud described. In the drama of male castration complex, Freud discovered, “women are no more than puppets; their significance lies first and foremost in their lack of a penis and their star turn is to symbolise the castration which men fear” (Mulvey 1975), if we were to take into account this research we see how the use of heavily sexualised females represented in mainstream media, acts as a way for men to create for themselves fetishes, in hope of them not having the fear of their masculinity taken away for them.

“It is man’s narcissistic fear of losing his own phallus, his most precious possession which causes shock at the sight of the female genitals and the subsequent fetishist attempt to disguise or divert attention from them” (Mulvey 1975). When Beyoncé sings the line “he likes to call be peaches when we get this nasty”, demonstrates, “the sadistic aspect of the male fetishism” (Mulvey 1975, 8), Jay Z in choosing a pet name for his wife, diverts attention away from himself, with solely focusing on his wife who he views as his property. Beyoncé choice of clothing; “the high heel on high-heeled shoes, represents classical fetish imagery, which is both phallic extension and means of discomfort and constriction” (Mulvey 1975), highlights the role of penis she must play in order to receive pain and punishment from her and her husband’s role-played fantasies.

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Described by Mulvey, Jay plays the role of the male gaze, as he is seen enjoying the private striptease performed by Beyoncé. With the male gaze, Partition also offers the pleasure of scopophillia, a Freudian theory described as “pleasure in looking” (Mulvey 1975, 16). “Moreover, the extreme contrast between the darkness in the auditorium (which also isolates the spectators from one another) and the brilliance of the shifting patterns of light and shade on the screen helps to promote the illusion of voyeuristic separation”. (Mulvey 1975). The way in which this scene is shot and directed, connotes the dominion Jay Z has over his wife, much like Jay Z, the audience can see through his voyeuristic perspective as it allows them the pleasure of being able to watch Beyoncé dance, without themselves being judged and looked at by her who has no knowledge of their actions.

Bibliography

Mulvey, L. (1975) ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.’ Screen, 16(3) pp. 6-18

Filmography

Partition. (2013) Dir Jake Nava. [Video] Paris: Crazy House

 

 

 

Senses and Affect – One Tree Hill 3×16: With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept

This post will look at Affect Theory; which analyses what spectators experience with their body and senses when viewing media texts, with the sixteenth episode of the third season of One Tree Hill (2003).

The main premise of this episode deals with a school shooting when troubled and bullied teen, Jimmy Edwards (Colin Fickes), brings a gun to school. “Feelings are personal and biographical, emotions are social, and affects are pre-personal” (Shouse, 2005), this episode allows a connection to be formed as the episode not only shows the emotional mind state of Jimmy but it also depicts the perspectives of the main characters trapped in the school.

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Steven Shaviro, defined the use of contemporary editing as being used “directly towards a moment-by-moment manipulation of the spectators affect state” (Shaviro, 2010: 141). Within this episode the director has chosen to have scenes edited together which switch back-and-forth showing jimmy and the students inside the school and parents and adults outside the school. This creates the feeling of intensity and suspense as the audience wonder if the students are going to make it out alive to reunited with their respected families and friends, they are also left wondering what is going to happen next both inside and outside the school.

It is through the last sequence and scene that creates a haunting affect with the spectator both physically and emotionally. Here the character Keith Scott (Craig Sheffer); uncle of Lucas Scott, makes the decision to enter the school to reason with Jimmy Edwards. “Let me clarify that the transmission of affect does not mean that one person’s feelings become another’s” (Shouse, 2005), while this is true with the exchange of these two characters, Keith details and explains to Jimmy how he has been in the same position in life that Jimmy currently finds himself in. For the spectator, this highlights mental illness, as it shows that at the end of the day we are all human who often find ourselves struggle with depression and inner demons.

“Music provides perhaps the clearest example of how the intensity of the impingement of sensations on the body can “mean” more to people than meaning itself” (Shouse, 2005), the use of a haunting orchestral instrumental played after the suicide of Jimmy Edwards, creates a raw emotion for spectators, as they are affected by the fact that in the end Jimmy couldn’t be saved as, since it all became too much for him.

A monologue by Lucas Scott juxtaposes on top of the instrumental. “The transmission of affect is about the way that bodies affect one another” (Shouse, 2005), with slowed down editing the scene depicts shots of the student consoling each other after hearing the chilling sound of the gunshot. However, the scene comes full circle with the sudden appearance of Dan Scott (Paul Johansson), who proceeds to pick up the gun shooting his brother Keith, leaving audiences in a state of shock as they know after this day nothing will be the same before fading to black.

Bibliography

Shouse, Eric. “Feeling, Emotion, Affect.” M/C Journal 8.6 (2005). 12 Nov. 2016 <http://journal.media-culture.org.au/0512/03-shouse.php&gt;.

Filmography

One Tree Hill (2003). Season 3 Episode 16. Television Network: The WB. USA March 1st 2006

Marxism – The Social Network

The biographical drama film the social network  (FIncher. 2010) depicts a representation of the ideology Marxism, throughout the portrayal of its main characters and its main story narrative.

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The opening scene depicts protagonist Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) explaining to his girlfriend how he wants to be noticed and accepted into a final club; a fraternity made up of elite Harvard upper-class students. The description of the Harvard final clubs, places them as being a “ruling class”, which “rules material and intellectual forces of their society” (Marx and Engles 1970, 64). In the same scene Mark details how himself and his best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), aren’t likely to get noticed from a final club, despite his high SATs score of 1600 and Eduardo oil investment, “their position in life and personal development therefore is assigned to them by their class” (Marx and Engles 1970, 82), which is of a lower un-ruling class compared to the final clubs.

Before the creation of Facebook, Mark first creates Facemash with the help of his dorm mates and Eduardo. Facemash allows for the rating of hotness of female students all over the college campus, Mark and friends are “representative of a whole society”, which is the male demographic and it is through the action of hacking in to their network where “they are  the mass society that are confronting the ruling class” (Marx and Engles 1970, 82) which in the film’s first act is Harvard and their board members.

The Social Network

The social network presents the concept of capitalism with the characters the Winklevoss twins and Divya Nerendra (Armie Hammer and Max Minghella). These three characters are portrayed as athletes and businessmen who all hold membership with final club; The Procellian. Much like Mark, the characters seek to create a social dating website, Harvard.edu. “The right of property is, similarly a right of self-interest” (Marx and Engles 1970, 9), the characters already being a part of a ruling class, selfishly wish to gain even more of a higher position within Harvard, and for them Harvard.edu acts as a way for them to gain more business and for the attraction of female students with their exclusive private-property.

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Harvard and the board members where the security, the “concept of police” (Marx and Engles 1970, 9), when shutting down Facemash at the beginning of the film’s narrative. With the popularity of Facebook, Mark himself becomes security. With a new society of college students using Facebook in different states, Facebook preservers; “people, their rights and property” (Marx and Engles 1970). This is evident as Eduardo mentions earlier in the film, that with their profiles, there was nothing to hack with Facebook as “it allowed people to invite or not invite people they wanted”. (FIncher. 2010)

To conclude the works of Karl Marx are demonstrated and presented well when looking at this film theoretically. It is also the way which David Fincher has directed this film, having the non-linear narrative, shows the growth of not only the characters but also the class struggles and capitalist ideals, and these strengths points discussed above.

bibliography 

Marx, Karl, and Frederick Engles. “The German Ideology.” In The German Ideology, by Marx Karl, edited by C. J. Arthur, 158. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1970.

Filmography

The Social Network. (2010) Dir. D. Fincher. [Film] USA: Columbia Pictures

 

 

INFOGRAPHIC #4: STARK INDUSTRIES

For my final infographic I have decided to make an invitation flyer in the marvel comics universe of a Stark Industries expo; hosted by CEO and superhero Anthony ‘Tony’ Stark/ The Invincible Ironman. This final infographic is quite humours because it shows a program of whats happening at the fictitious expo and has some easter eggs and references to Marvel comics and the Ironman mythology.

Enjoy:

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