Dec 10

So Long, Farewell, TTYL

OMG! TMI is sad to announce that we are about to sign off with our very last words. Considering this is going to be our last blog post, we have decided it is only fitting to recap all of the interesting topics we have covered throughout the semester. As all of you know, we created TMI to give an insight look on what teens are being exposed to throughout the media. Specifically, we wanted to discuss and analyze current media topics that could potentially be giving teens a skewed version of “reality”. Over the course of 12 weeks, we rotated on three specific media topics: Cinema, Television, and Social Media. With each of our unique voices we were able to discuss a variety of teen-related topics while applying our own individual lens. Every week you were able to read something new, current, and different, depending on each author’s unique perspective.

With the rise of the media’s portrayals of teens being overtly sexual and enacting very adult-centric behaviors, we found various examples of current media topics that allowed us to open up discussion. We gathered information that provided us with knowledge of current popular media trends, and based off of that we were able to choose what we wanted to discuss within our blogs. For example, we covered television shows such as Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, Girl Code, and Ridiculousness – based off of our findings of what television shows and television

networks were the most popular amongst teens. On the social media side, we covered popular teen social networking sites such as Facebook and Tumblr. And last but not least, we commentated on one of the most popular pastimes of teens – movies. Within the Cinema section we analyzed a variety of films including Carrie and

Thor. Not only did we focus on the adult-centric behaviors and experiences teens portray in the media, but we also offered critical insight to other important issues regarding race, gender, and sexual orientation.

 

Throughout our analyses of the given topics of each week, all of us were able to gain insight on certain aspects of media teen life that we may have never thought about before. Particularly we learned that even parts of the media that we may think are just a part of everyday life, like Facebook for example, can be extremely detrimental to teens’ self esteem and perceptions of relationships. Also, we gathered that even though teens watch television and go to movies frequently, there aren’t very many shows or films that are specifically geared towards teens. Consequently, teens are still watching television and films, except they are watching and interpreting what adults do – which can be problematic.

Overall, our main goal of this blog was to open up conversation on issues that teens might be experiencing through their interpretations of the media available to them. It was never our intention to discourage anyone from the media altogether, but rather to look at it from a different angle. As a society we tend to fall into the pattern of going with the flow and taking things as is because that’s what is simply handed to us. TMI, however, hopes that now you’ll dig a little deeper into what the media is handing you, and instead of just taking it asking whether or not you think this is actually a good perception of reality.

If you are interested in the topics that we have presented and would still like to learn more, check out these awesome blogs that discuss similar issues with teens and media!

Raising Teens

This blog examines general topics regarding teens, but there are a lot of blogs about teens and the media (particularly social media). It is mainly a site for parents on raising teens and what to do in certain situations.

Day of the Girl

This blog discusses the negative impact of media on teenage girls. It has extremely interesting blogs that analyze young adult novels, Halloween costumes, celebrity role models, etc.

How Media Effects Teenage Girls

This blog explores how the media negatively affects teenage girls. It is written from the point of view of a teenage girl herself, so the topics are extremely relevant.

Impacts of Media Technology on Teenagers

This blog discusses the negative affects of media on teenagers, but also talks about the positive affects that the media can have on teens.

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our blog and continue to dig deeper on the influences of media!

 

XOXO,                    TTYL,              Until Next Time,

Gossip Girl             Christine          J

Nov 25

Cyber-Feminism

By: Christine McClellan

Being that this is my final personal post on TMI, I decided to finally write an overall positive post. My topic has consistently been “social media” – an easy target for negative comments and for me to point out problematic details. However, the Internet isn’t all that bad, right? Social media can help individuals deal with their personal problems, it can provide a support group, it can bring people together, and it can promote new ideas.

Something that I’ve noticed a lot in recent years, particularly on social media/blog site Tumblr, is the spread of feminism. With the relatively huge popularity of Tumblr blogs like “Who Needs Feminism?”, “F*** Yeah Feminism!”, “Everyday Feminism” and more, Tumblr users (mainly teens) are being exposed to new ideas that they may not see in movies, on television, or elsewhere.

On Tumblr, these blogs’ posts often spread like wildfire. Even if a user does not follow any one of these, there is a high chance that they will eventually see their popular posts. Users re-blog posts, and their followers can re-blog those – and the especially popular posts are seen by thousands more than the blog’s writer had intended. This way, if a Tumblr blogger posts a picture or text post with a feminist message, users that may not have ever been exposed to feminist views is able to see it and possibly change their beliefs accordingly.

I’m not saying that everybody needs to identify as a feminist, or that every “feminist” blog on Tumblr stays true to feminism. However, feminism promotes beliefs that are beneficial to all people – equality among every gender, race, class, sexual orientation and more. As we’ve looked at in our blog’s previous posts, these elements of feminism are not commonly seen in mainstream media or reality today, and its rising popularity on the Internet may eventually change that.

The more popular feminist Tumblr blogs benefit the Internet world in different ways. Below I elaborate on how their popularity can help the spread of feminist ideals among the general Tumblr community:

 

Who Needs Feminism?

Started by students at Duke University, this blog collects user-submitted photos of individuals with written signs describing reasons why they personally need feminism. The submissions come from men and women alike, and their reasons range from dealing with catcalls, being scared to walk alone at night, rape culture and more. Because of the diversity of the submissions, it’s almost guaranteed at least one relates to any given Tumblr user. Aside from only the Tumblr community, this blog has been featured on Buzzfeed, Mashable, Huffington Post, and more – exposing these messages to audiences outside of Tumblr. Given that feminism often has a bad reputation, relating to one of these images may change some peoples’ opinions.

 

We Are What Feminists Look Like

Another blog made up of user submitted photos, these pictures show photos of average people with a caption that says something along the lines of “This is what a feminist looks like!” Again, given the negative stigma that feminism often carries, these photos show people that look like our family, friends, or neighbors and make viewers realize that feminists are not all radical – they are everyday people. This blog’s popularity spreads the idea of feminism along with the encouragement that it’s not a weird thing to identify as a feminist or agree with its beliefs.

 

Everyday Feminism

Combining the previous two blogs plus more, this blog points out examples of feminists or feminism that they see every day in the media, online, in real life, etc. The bloggers post and re-blog GIFs, quotes or photos from films, television, celebrity interviews, and other people in the feminist community. With this, viewers can witness what feminism in the media looks like and why its message may be more beneficial than anti-feminist views. By recognizing this, feminist views would be better supported and may become more common in mainstream media.

 

These blogs, among many, many others, are working to normalize feminism – and personally, I think it’s working. The Tumblr community seems to lean toward more feminist views. Anti-feminism blogs exist, but often their posts are verbally shot down numerous times by the feminist blogger community. Again, I’m not saying feminism is something every person should identify with, but the normalization of its beliefs online may eventually spread to mainstream media and real life; therefore promoting equality and rights for all genders, races, classes, sexual orientations, and more.

 

TTYL,

Christine

Nov 18

to Gay, or Not to Gay

By: Justin S. Motto

Last year was a year for the history books.  According to a GLADD report, the 2012-2013 television season marked a record breaking 4.4% representation of LGBT characterization in network television.  As of this fall, that number has dropped to 3.3% of the 796 characters on prime time television.  According to my math that accounts for approximately 26 characters.  As an avid television viewer, this number is further complicated by the representations of those particular characters.  I think it is fair to assume that accurate representations is important no matter the minority represented.  Although this is not comprehensive, I want to explore the LGBT representations in the television series I frequent.

According to my TiVo, I have a season pass for the following series by network:

Compliments of http://entertainista.com/

FOX:  Sleepy Hallow

CBS:  The Crazy Ones, How I Met Your Mother, The Good Wife, Mom, 2 Broke Girls, Mike & Molly, and The Big Bang Theory

ABC:  Agents of SHIELD, Grey’s Anatomy, Once Upon a Time, Super Fun Night, and Trophy Wife

NBC:  Dracula, and Sean Saves the World

CW:  The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, and The Tomorrow People

 

The 18 series I have here cover the spectrum of all major networks, and a broad range of comedy and drama.  A final disclaimer that is a must, is that Glee is not on my list.  I once was an enthusiastic viewer of series.  My exclusion is not of ignorance, but rather a change in personal taste.  It is a wonderful thing to have a broadcast series tackle the issues that Glee does; however, the weight of the LGBT community cannot be carried by one series and it is time other shows to step up and treat their representations with respect.

The major issue I take with the series I enjoy is their haphazard use of the LGBT character.  This year I was particularly attentive to LGBT representations after reading the GLADD report.  Many of the LGBT characters that portrayed are those already employed, and the others appear like an afterthought.  If you take a close look you will notice that many of shows I record are new this season—10 of the 18 to be exact.  To show you this difference I will explore shows that most notably have had LGBT characters in comparison to how the new series use LGBT characters.

RETURNING

Grey’s Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy shocked viewers nationwide when, after years of airing the character Callie as a straight woman, Callie kissed Dr. Erica Hahn.  Since the debut of the first kiss, Callie has explored her sexuality.  We witnessed the coming out of Callie to her parents, asking for Arizona’s hand in marriage, and brining baby Sofia into a same-sex marriage.  The relationship is neither idealized nor deglamorized.

The Good Wife

In contrast to Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Wife has Kalinda.  Kalinda is portrayed with many secrets, and that is how her sexual orientation is treated.  Kalinda’s sexual orientation is just a “fun” fact of that keeps you guessing if she is going to sleep with a man or a woman.  My deep investment in the series makes me want to make excuses for the series and say, “but it isn’t important to the show.”  I think that is what the writers want me to think.  A show that is rife with sexual scandal that explores affairs and relationships of the top billed cast should be exploring such a pivotal character beyond brief intimate scenes that just give nod to a possibility.

Once Upon a Time

This fairytale driven adventure has never explored a gay character in its two past seasons.  This year, it still hasn’t—well, sort of.  I know that much time goes into production, but the GLADD report and the random blip of a possible lesbian on the show seems too coincidental.  In a random episode, ABC dedicated about 30 seconds to a possible one-sided affection from Mulan.

NEW

Sean Saves the World

Sean Saves the World is positioned around a gay man.  I will not be exploring this show because my interest has started to fade.  The series attempt to revive the magic of Will and Grace through Sean Hayes has not proved itself a keeper to me or the network.  The show had a real shot at exploring a single gay father, but fell into the trap of trying to revive stereotypical jokes that helped ease viewers into prominent gay characters over a decade ago.

The Originals

In its freshman debut, The Originals has not developed a major LGBT character. They did manage to sandwich a supporting LGBT character in last week.  By sandwich, I mean a 15 second mention by a vampire reflection on his past with a young witch.  He stated that he use to just be the gay party kid.

The Crazy Ones

Last week, The Crazy Ones introduced a new partner to its advertising firm.  Gordon Lewis, portrayed by Brad Garrett, has been introduced as a reoccurring character.  He is a gay man who exemplifies gay stereotypes.  He is the dominant partner, who is on the phone with his nagging partner regularly.  At this point we don’t much more than the neat stereotypes brought to light in last week’s episode.

The six shows I have explored briefly, are only my perspective.  I will say that I tried to remain fair to the shows given my biases.  I bring these six to light because out of the 18 on my list these are the only ones that really give attention to the LGBT community, and it is not always flattering or done with any justice.  I think most can agree that accurate representations are important to society to help alleviate the prejudice and stereotypes that plague today’s world.  More exposure is nice, but I would question whether the characterization should be included if it is just going to be an afterthought with no development.

Until next time,

J

Nov 12

Mythically Failing Society

By: Justin S. Motto

Thor: The Dark World Preview

“Ask yourself: What would you sacrifice, for what you believe,” many people don’t stop and ask themselves this question enough.  This inquiry comes from an unexpected place.  The villain, Malekeith, in the blockbuster hit Thor: The Dark World thrusts this deep inquisitive thought upon its audience.  This upcoming holiday season will be chucked full of films from some the biggest titles of the decade along with some newcomers.  As this season approaches I am asking you to stop and ask yourself this very questions before your child makes their way to enjoy the week’s hottest hit.  Thor: The Dark World is the just the tip of the iceberg, but exploring some of the questionable messages tucked away in the plot may make you think or at least consider having a conversation with your child.

Courtesy of comicbookmovie.com

 

I’m not going to start by bashing the series.  That would be an act against my beliefs.  I am a strong advocate for the cinematic arts, and Thor: The Dark World is no exception to that confidence in the industry; however, I am an adult that has experienced more of the world knowing that some of the indirect messages are nothing more than a poor decision on the part of the casting director and writer—in some cases the Motion Picture Association of America.

Some of the issues I find myself concerned with in the film may seem small, but could very well have a lasting impression on teenager’s concept of race and gender.  Thor had its opportunity to be more inclusive, but directors, writers, and producers decided to make poor decisions in the way the cast would be portrayed.  The series is based on Norse lore—an opportunity to bend the rules based on its mythical cornerstone.  The following is a list of those complaints:

  • An eradication of racial diversity

Thor is based on lore that there are nine realms in the world, which is inhabited by six races—one of which is the human race of Midgard (Earth); however, we find a film dearth of racial diversity.  The only major racial diversity existent in the film is that of an Asian guardian, an African American guardian, and an African American elf—who is evil.  The lead representations of earth are that of Caucasian descent.  Last time I checked, the world’s population is made up of more than one race.

  • Vilifying of a race

If the previous point was not frustrating enough, let’s look at one of the two racial diverse characters, Algrim.  Algrim is the loyal lieutenant of the dark elf king, but his race is only shown briefly before being transformed into the monstrous beast, Kurse.  It is one thing to try to incorporate other races, but to have only one of the three minorities portrayed as a monster is horrifying.  This portrayal sends a bad message.  My personal experience of growing up in a predominantly white area, left me with little exposure to other races.  The only interaction I had was through the movies I viewed.  It created a fear of other races, which I overcame.  As much as I want to give today’s youth the benefit of the doubt, I can’t help but see the reality that only seeing other races in vilified roles provides limited knowledge

  • Women advanced and held back

Women? What woman should I take on?  Sif the guardian who is portrayed as an emotionless powerhouse? Jane the brilliant scientist helpless and endangered by her eagerness to reunite with love? How about Darcy? The babbling intern whose only purpose is to provide comic relief throughout the perilous and brutal onslaughts. Better yet, let’s explore Frigga the silent mother who in her last moments puts up an outstanding sword fight to protect her family.

If you haven’t noticed I find myself torn due to the conflicting descriptions of the characters.  Every female character is limited by stereotypical roles of women.  None of the women were developed, and their diverse characteristic—if you could call it that—seems like an afterthought.  Jane couldn’t be brilliant, smart, strong, and independent; she had to be a fool for love who just so happened to be a scientist.  Figga, a mother, who has little speaking parts, but miraculously wields a sword in her last moments to defend her family.  Sif, who plays a much larger role than I lead onto here, but she is a mere object; one that should be of Thor’s desire. Finally, Darcy, an intellect by trade, but a fool by design.  The role was clearly developed for the great come back lines and foolery; she is nothing more than a prop.

Now, as I write from week to week, I find it a struggle to critique cinema.  I do believe that your teens should enjoy the film they are seeing, and I think that they should embrace the entertainment it was designed to create. I do worry that, as developing minds, teens create models and expectations from these films.  Maybe it isn’t directly and maybe it isn’t prominent, but a small seed is all it takes to start building a template that one day may become the source of discrimination or a shortcoming that may prevent some of the greatest friendships never experienced.  So if you are like me and you see people as people—and not of color and gender—I echo, “What would you sacrifice, for what you believe?”

Until next time,

J

Nov 04

Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

By: Christine McClellan

 

In today’s world, almost everything goes on Facebook. All of a person’s friends and sometimes family are able to constantly keep updated on their life – whether it be little details of what they did that day, a new job they started, and even the status of their current romantic relationship.

It seems silly to go to the relationship section of your Facebook profile and click “single” the night you and your boyfriend broke up, but people do it all the time! Maybe to make the break-up seem more finalized, maybe to inform their friends all at once, or maybe just because it’s the new norm.

Facebook has changed romantic relationships, especially for teens who have never seen a relationship outside of the Internet realm. Has it changed for the better? For the worse? In Facebook relationship lingo, I’d say, “it’s complicated.”

I was in ninth grade when I first got my Facebook account, so, like many teens today, I’ve really never experienced a real relationship that hasn’t been showcased on my profile. When I think about this, a part of me feels pathetic, but I feel that this is going to just be the new norm for relationships. There are many ways that Facebook can help a couple’s relationship (i.e. it makes communication easier, seeing your significant other post about you boosts self-esteem), but there are just as many areas of critique in the new Internet era of romance.

The Green-Eyed Monster

It’s hard to talk about relationships on Facebook without talking about jealousy. Seeing every detail about your significant other, seeing every person they talk to, and constantly keeping tabs on what they are doing – this isn’t what a relationship should be about, however it is difficult to avoid. Couples can become nearly obsessed with checking up on one another online, and it often leads to arguments that really shouldn’t be taking place.

A recent study confirms that Facebook may be damaging to relationships solely because of the jealousy factor. In fact, a survey of divorce lawyers in 2012 showed that a third of the causes of divorce were related to Facebook. Of course, this is divorce and not a teenage relationship, but it’s not crazy to assume that Facebook has the exact same effect on any romantic relationship.

It’s important to talk to your teen about jealousy online. Encourage them to stop checking up on their partner online, even if it is just for a week. Chances are that they will then notice how much more trust they have gained for their partner just by not constantly knowing what they are up to.

Breaking Up

Facebook makes communication easier. This has been well known for a while now, that it takes less confidence or thought to type something out rather than say it to a person. This can sometimes be helpful; especially for those who are shy and struggle for the courage to speak to people they don’t know. However, once peoples’ feelings get invested in the conversation, typing it out on Facebook chat may not be the best way to go.

Some teens meet their significant others and get asked out on Facebook, but the break-ups on Facebook are where the problem comes in. Breaking up is hard to do, and Facebook makes it painless. All a person has to do is send a message or update a status and the relationship is over – no real conversation needed. I’ve even heard of people just changing their relationship status to “single” without saying anything to their significant other about the decision.

Just like any other break-up, being on the receiving end is miserable. Being broken up with on Facebook, however, gives the relationship no closure. It’s important to end a relationship in person, out of respect for the other person, and to talk things through so that the relationship doesn’t end on such a sour note. Make sure your teen knows that breaking up is an in-person process – plain and simple. If your teen gets broken up with online, encourage them to delete the other person as a “friend,” as this may give them the closure they need. Although this gives them some closure, also encourage your teen to talk to their ex in person, as this is key to resolving any issues they may have had.

Living in the Public Eye

When you’re in a relationship on Facebook, everybody knows about it. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it can lead to a potentially embarrassing break-up process. Once your relationship is over, each person has to go to their profile and change their relationship status to “single.” This then shows up on your timeline for the world to see. Of course, this can be deleted, but people are bound to find out eventually that your status no longer says “in a relationship.”

Sometimes, updating the status to “single” can bring on a stream of condolences – all your friends feel so bad and are there for you if you need them. This could be annoying, but at least you feel less alone. But at the same time, everybody at school the next day will know the break-up happened. Being so public all the time isn’t always the best idea – some things are better off being private.

 

Almost every teen is on Facebook, but their relationship doesn’t have to be. Facebook seems to harm romantic relationships more often than help them, so maybe it’s best if the relationship status starts to become outdated. Encourage your teen to be careful about how they interact with their significant other online, and let them know that relationships are always best in-person.

TTYL,

Christine

Oct 28

True Life: Confessions of Contradictory TV

By MeiLi Smith

While working the overnight shifts this past weekend, I decided to take a break from studying and check out what was on TV. I figured it was the perfect opportunity to take a flashback to high school and indulge in some teen television. I couldn’t think of a better channel to flip to other than the most well known teen network: MTV. Now we are all aware that MTV has been known to promote partying and sex with shows like Jersey Shore and Spring Break. And while those aspects of MTV are important to recognize when analyzing the media’s influence on teens, we must also look at the positive aspects that MTV provides as well.

During the time I spent viewing MTV this weekend I noticed that a certain theme kept reoccurring: Partying. Practically every show, every commercial, and every preview had some sort of reference or link to partying. One of the first things I watched when I switched to MTV was Rob Dyrdek’s show Ridiculousness. The show doesn’t have much to it other than a group of “stars” commenting on clips of people doing ridiculous things, which usually involves getting hurt in some way.

When I first turned to it though, it was showing a bunch of different clips of men humping women at various parties. The clip that disturbed me the most was a clip of an old man vigorously thrusting his pelvis against a young girl, while the stars of the show laughed hysterically in the background. None of the cast members seemed to think that these clips of men aggressively dry humping women were inappropriate or wrong. At one point Rob Dyrdek even pointed at one of the girls that was getting thrusted upon and said, “oh, look at that face! That’s pure joy! She loves it!” while the rest of the members laughed and nodded in agreement.

This scene was particularly problematic for me because it reminded me of a very similar scene that I witnessed last spring break in Mexico. I was at a club called CoCo Bongo and a girl that I had met at my resort earlier that week was dancing up on the stage. The club was an entertainment club, so there were performers doing different acts. One of the performers was dressed up like the guy from The Mask and was swinging around the club on a rope. At one point he grabbed the girl off of the stage and wrapped her legs around him and proceeded to hump her in the air while they swung around on the rope. Everyone in the club either laughed or said nasty things about the girl being a slut. I ran into her afterwards and heard her repeatedly tell her friend how violated she felt. The girl was only seventeen.

The reason I brought that scene up is because unfortunately, it is not uncommon. We see acts like this in the media and in real life all the time and people joke about them as if they don’t matter. The fact is the scene I described is not a joke and is not funny. Quite frankly it could be considered sexual harassment. When the media jokes about instances of sexual aggression they are telling their audience that it is okay to joke about it too. It also gives teen boys the misconception that it’s okay to make unwanted sexual advances as long as it can get some laughs. I can almost guarantee you that no girl, or boy for that matter, wants some random strangers pelvis thrust upon him or her. But when networks like MTV, and various others, promote that type of behavior it becomes normalized and deemed as acceptable. This is especially problematic for teens as they are already trying to figure out whom they are and how they should behave, and the media provides an easily accessible model to imitate.

Now even though MTV thrives on their use of sex and partying, they also have started to bring in some new shows that cover some important issues. Shows like Awkward and Girl Code talk about the discomforts of high school and important issues of sex and women that have been otherwise seen as taboo.

I watched Girl Code for the first time this weekend and at first I was pretty hesitant towards the content. In the beginning, the show seemed like just another thoughtless MTV “real life” show that perpetuates traditional gender norms. Basically, it was a bunch of women (actors, comedians, and other D-list stars) and a couple of men, commenting on different topics and the “girl code” behind it. Not to mention, the docu-comedy’s beginning preview feeds into MTV’s reoccurring party theme, with a bunch of girls at a club taking shots together. So it’s not surprising that I didn’t have too high of hopes for this seemingly stereotypical show. However, as I continued to watch a few episodes it became more and more clear that even though they were playing off of the stereotypical role of women, they were actually debunking those stereotypes simultaneously. They touched on topics of masturbation, farting, and sex in a way that most television shows do not. Most of the women were pretty vulgar, but they talked about the subjects in a very realistic way. Most teen television shows have very narrow views of how women and men should view sex, but Girl Code made it clear that sex and farting are normal things in life and even though they can be awkward at times it’s okay because everyone goes through it.

Overall, it seems as if MTV definitely has some negative messages that they are conveying, but at the same time can have some really great messages to give teens as well. I have yet to find a teen TV show where there is healthy communication about sex, and MTV provided that with Girl Code even if it was approached in a strange way.

XOXO,

Gossip Girl

Oct 21

The Return of Dirty Pillows: The Blossoming of Women in Horror

By:  Justin S. Motto

WARNING:  May contain disturbing images and spoilers!

 

Picture this, it is the 1970’s and a sheltered teenage girl is caressing her body in the locker room shower when out of nowhere she starts bleeding from her vagina.  Unaware of what is happening to her body, the terrified girl runs screaming for help.  In her moment of desperation the young women is confronted by a frenzied group of girls shouting and taunting the terrified girl with tampons and pads.  If you haven’t guessed already, I am describing the iconic—and mortifying—scene from the classic 1976 horror film Carrie.

It has been nearly 40 years since the horror classic Carrie terrified the masses.  Now, Hollywood has resurrected Stephen King’s fabled novel on the silver screen.  Both excited and skeptical of the remake, I made my way to the theater.  I have to say that I found myself intrigued by the new vision, yet a little disappointed.  Both the classic 1976 and updated 2013 film are limited in both scare tactic and gender portrayals.  Assessment of the two films reveals the great strides and setbacks the film industry has produced in gender and teen life in the past 37 years.

Rewinding the clock to a much simpler time with limited technology we find a hokey movie that boarders on soft-core porn.  The original Carrie presented an audience with many sensual and unnecessary naked scenes of teenage girls.  During the scene described previously, the slow moving camera zooms in to Sissy Spacek caressing herself with a bar of soap—as if fantasizing of intimate desires.  If the blood had not started flowing, you would assume another individual would be joining Ms. Spacek on set to engage in some X-rated activities.  During my first viewing I wanted cover my eyes as my parents made me do if a scene in a movie was not appropriate for my watching; I was 25 years old.  In contrast, the 2013 remake removes the disturbing fantasy of naked teen girls, and approaches the scene from behind a shower stall revealing little skin of the young Chloe Grace Moretz.  The difference between these two scenes alone made me lean over to my friend and question the rating of the film.  Even though I am an adult, I felt more comfortable knowing a teenage audience could possibly find their way into this blockbuster.  To clarify, both the classic and remake are R-rated; however, it is clear the remake received its rating for reasons other than nudity.

A major plot line in both films is the scene I initially described.  Carrie’s maturation is the key plot element that leads to everything else in the film.  It is why she starts to have powers, the reason she is asked to the prom, and the reason a fellow classmate seeks revenge that leads to the climactic terror.  The terrorizing of young women has clearly developed, and it is shown in the latest version of the film and used throughout.  Carrie is recorded on a smartphone while being made fun of and naked in the shower.  The video is then released to the internet for everyone’s viewing pleasure.  As much as I want to consider this a drawback, it is hard to deny the reality of today’s society.  Teens have taking their bullying to a new level due to the resources they have available.  Unlike many young girls today, Carrie is able to fight back.  I would like to say the ending is horrifying, but there is something to be said about the new film.  Carrie’s rage is far more focused, and her revenge is enacted only on those that brought about her torment.  I found myself rooting for Carrie in the remake, where as in the original I found her destructive and out of control.  It was as if the remake actually had a message to share.

In character development alone the 2013 release displays great improvements over the original.  The characterization of the women of the film is much more developed allowing for the women to be multi-dimensional and less as objects.  The lead role of Carrie was originally portrayed as a helpless young woman with little knowledge and even fewer faculties.  It is only through her mystical telekinesis that the young girl is provided with any hope.  Although the 2013 version does show young Carrie as sheltered, we are able to see her as intelligent.  In both the original and latest version, Carrie researchers the unexplained supernatural occurrences; however, the newer version we see Carrie develop both as a person and as a supernatural being through research and experimenting.

Now, this wouldn’t be a true Carrie critique if I did not mention the crazy mother.  Margaret White, now played by Julianne Moore, was a far more complex character.  The original portrayed Ms. White as an almost-psychotic women on the brink of going off the deep end.  The latest portrayal shows a religious women clearly struggling with some mental issues; however, a love is clearly shown for her daughter.  Ms. White is shown to be a single mother trying her best to raise her daughter in “godless times.”  Even when she is trying to kill her daughter due to her fear of the devils’ hold, Ms. White is more sound and focused.  The original portrays the mother becoming overcome by her sexual thoughts and touching herself while explaining her disturbing past to Carrie.  If you haven’t picked up just quite yet, I’m a huge critic of the classic version’s sexual overtones.

So, as you read, you may be curious as to why I am critiquing a film you would assume your children would never see.  Considering I admit I didn’t see the original until this past year; however, the truth is that I was an easily spooked teen.  My shadow could terrify me on the right day.  I recognize many may have similar children, but those of you that have braver children should take into consideration the possibility of your child making their way into see this film.  Now, I’d never advocate bringing your child to see the film, or say they should see it. It has cursing, a brief nod to teenage pregnancy, and some pretty gruesome death scenes. I will say that I feel more comfortable knowing that the new film tells a better story with stronger women than the original.  Aside from the possible nightmares that may come from viewing the film, I am less worried that teens will walk away with an objectified and limited view of female characters in horror.  I stand by my title stating that women in horror have started to blossom, they just aren’t in full bloom quite yet.

Until next time,

J

Oct 14

Please Go Like My Profile Picture

By: Christine McClellan

I know, I know… You’ve all seen the articles and studies over the last few years about Facebook making us unhappy, lonely, insecure, etc. But I feel like none of us take those very seriously! We know Facebook is hurting us mentally, emotionally, and socially – yet it remains the most popular form of social media among both teens and adults. In fact, 94% of teenagers in 2012 have a Facebook account.  Chances are your teen is on Facebook, and it is potentially negatively affecting their happiness.

I’m not saying you should try to convince them to delete their account – I’m not even saying Facebook is always a bad thing! There may be some signs you should watch out for to make sure your teen isn’t taking this whole Facebook thing too seriously, so make sure you let them know how to use Facebook in a smart way.

 

1. Let them know that ‘likes’ aren’t everything.

A perfect example of being obsessive about ‘likes’ is my best friend’s cousin, Rachel. Right now, Rachel’s a freshman in high school, which makes her about six years younger than I am. I’ve known her since she was little, so it’s been interesting seeing the differences in how she has grown up compared to me.

One night when I was out to dinner with my friend and her whole family (Rachel included), Rachel asked my friend to go like her profile picture on Facebook. My friend (being the sassy older cousin she is) refused to like it. After about ten minutes of arguing, I eventually deciphered from the yelling that Rachel wanted my friend to like her picture because Rachel always likes hers. My friend never gave in, and as a result, Rachel de-friended my friend from Facebook; they didn’t speak to each other again for a few months.

Of course, my friend didn’t care at all that Rachel was mad at her, but I kind of felt bad for Rachel. Not because I think she deserved one more like on her picture, but because that like was so important to her. Would she have really felt a lot better about herself if my friend liked her picture, even if Rachel explicitly told her to?

This made me realize that for the teens that grew up on Facebook, the amount of likes you get on a picture determines whether or not you can feel good about yourself. It’s important to make sure your teen knows how to find their self-esteem from a place other than Facebook.

 

2. Let them know they shouldn’t always believe what they read.

Something that teens are good at doing online: bragging about what they’re up to. I feel like, as I grow older, this definitely still happens, but not nearly as much as it does as a teenager. On Facebook, anybody can represent themselves in any way they want, and people will believe it. I could easily go on Facebook right now and say, “I’m so excited for the Vampire Weekend concert tomorrow!” and then tomorrow night post a picture I found online of a ticket stub – but this whole time I could just sit on my couch at home.

Of course, not many people go to those lengths to trick people into thinking they have a “cool” life, but to some extent many people have a made-up life online. Most people only like to post about the exciting things they’re doing, so in comparison, you may be jealous of how they seem to always have fun.

For teens, fitting in is something they all hope to do. They may see all their peers on Facebook posting pictures with their friends and having a blast, and they will probably feel bad that they aren’t having that much fun. Let them know that what their peers post online is just a façade – their lives are most likely just as normal and mundane as your teen may think theirs is.

 

3. Let them know that real-life communication is still important

A major critique that Facebook and other social media networks has had since their conception is that it’s ruining communication. Critics are worried that people won’t be as good at talking to each other face-to-face, and since teens have grown up online, this may be harmful for future careers, forming healthy relationships, etc. I don’t totally agree that communication is doomed for eternity because of Facebook (critics did have the same response to the invention of the telephone), but I do think that it makes communicating with one another easier and faster – which could be good or bad.

Facebook makes everything from break-ups to bullying something that takes no effort at all, and it can be harmful. Tell your teen to be careful of what they say and what other people say online. It’s easy to say mean things, so it is important for your teen to know that if they wouldn’t say it to the person’s face, it shouldn’t go on Facebook. The depersonalization online makes it easier to say destructive things, but that doesn’t mean the message doesn’t hurt the same way.

 

Being a teenager has always been hard enough as it is, so Facebook shouldn’t make it any harder. Facebook is a great way to stay connected with friends and family, but if your teen gets caught up in getting a ton of ‘likes’ on their picture or constantly jealous of their peers, it’s important to show them how to use Facebook in a smart, non-harmful way.

 

TTYL,

Christine

Oct 07

TV Sex vs. Real Sex: About as Real as Vampires

By MeiLi Smith

SPOILER ALERT!

A couple weeks ago we talked about a few of the upcoming teen series and the impact these shows may or may not have on teens regarding attitudes towards personal appearance, drinking, sexual activity, and healthy relationships. This week we are going to dig in a little deeper as the fall series premier of Vampire Diaries debuted last Thursday. Vampire Diaries happened to be one of my favorite shows when I was in high school—it’s still one of my favorites; however, I wanted to make sure that it was still popular amongst teens. So I did a Google search on the most popular teen shows.  Every search resulted with Vampire Diaries at the top of the list for the most popular teen dramas.  Apparently, I’m not completely out of the loop.

When I say I want to “dig in a little deeper” on the season premier of Vampire Diaries, I really just want to take a look at the messages that are being portrayed to teens. I also want to take a look at how teens might interpret said messages, specifically the messages regarding sex. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the show, Vampire Diaries is a teen drama about vampires,  and everything else supernatural including: wolves, witches, ghosts, you name it. Basically, it’s a more intense version of Twilight and a less intense version of True Blood.  There’s still all of that vampire lovin’ but it’s also pretty brutal in the violence department.

First, let’s begin by giving you a break down of what happened in this first episode. Most of the main characters had just graduated from high school and are all returning from their summer breaks to attend college, work, and/or fight evil supernatural people. The episode then proceeds to a typical Vampire Diaries chaotic mess of drama. Which usually consists of everyone trying to help save everyone else, but alas the episode ends with some crazy evil vampire trying to ruin all of humanity with no hope in sight. If you want to get a more in-depth look at this episode, you can watch the trailer here:

http://cdn.clevver.com/video_thumbnails/vCm.1920×1080.jpeg

Okay, so now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s really sink our teeth in. See what I just did there? Like I said, the episode begins with all of the main characters returning from their last summer break from high school and it opens up with a brief excerpt of each character’s summer, most of which consisted of sex—lots of it. Not only did it seem like the only thing these characters did during the summer was have sex, but again (like I mentioned in my last blog post) there were no parents to be found. These freshly graduated high school students don’t even have to be excited about college because they’ve been living an adult/parent-free life for most of their adolescence.

Vampire Diaries also lacks any type of couple that isn’t of the straight variety. This heteronormative depiction of teen relationships leaves no room for homosexuals or questioning teens to place themselves in a “typical” high school/college experience. And I mean sexually, because there’s nothing typical about being a teenage vampire. Even though the opening scene did have two girls kissing and on the verge of having sex, it was only shown because it was a threesome with another guy. This just demonstrates the idea that homosexual activity, or lesbian activity, can only be done if it is in the pleasure of a male.

The idea of sexual activity is nothing to be ashamed of, but when teen shows like Vampire Diaries are glamorizing (heterosexual) hyper sexuality without the context of what a healthy sex life looks like, it can be extremely misleading for teenagers. Vampire Diaries is known for it’s promiscuity, and the sexual activity that it often shows is extremely aggressive, however it’s taken for “passionate”. This interpretation of sexuality can also be harmful for teens, because not only is it showcasing a very limited view of what sexuality is but it’s highlighting sexually aggressive behaviors which may or may not be what a certain individual prefers. Unfortunately though, without the context of a healthy sex life and healthy sex communication, it’s easy to internalize the sexual images like the ones in Vampire Diaries as what is “normal” and acceptable in sex.

The other thing that I wanted to touch on briefly is the beauty ideals that are portrayed within this show. These characters aren’t only attractive, they’re drop-dead gorgeous. It’s not just one of the characters, it’s every single one. So what message does that send to teens? That in order to even have sex you must be beautiful too? The idea of beauty is not one that we are unfamiliar with, but it’s important to keep in mind when the few shows that are geared towards teens have freakishly beautiful characters. How might this impact the way they view themselves? Not to mention, these characters look much older than just the age of 18. It’s no wonder why I see seventh grade girls trying to look like they’re 20.

The main point that I wanted to get across in this blog was to highlight the representation of sex and how that can be harmful to teens without the proper dialogue to back it up. I’m not saying that I think teens should simply abstain from sex, because I don’t. I do think, however, that teens should only engage in sexual activity if they’re ready. And if teens are getting their sexual preferences based off of shows like Vampire Diaries, then I also think that they should have the knowledge to know and understand the difference between TV sex and real-life sex before they make those decisions.

 

XOXO – Gossip Girl

 

 

Sep 30

Lights, Camera–Grow up!

By: Justin S. Motto

 

I’ve always loved going to the movies.  From the first day I could drive, I enjoyed picking up my friends and heading to town for dinner and a movie.  I would like to think much hasn’t changed since my time as a teen, but almost 10 years has passed.  Reluctant and slightly in denial, I googled to find out if my teen passion still remains the same with teens today.   It is exciting to discover that much of what I loved is still relevant today.  According to a Stanley Morgan report, movie-going is still the social event it was during my time.  The question that seems most pertinent is:  What movies are teens exposed to today?

Naturally, I must ask if teens are as cunning as I was.  I wish I could say I was the golden child that chose rating appropriate films, and stuck to what the mainstream media deemed teen appropriate; realistically, I used every trick I could pull out of my sleeve to get into whatever film I wanted.  That meant getting into 40 Days and 40 Nights when I was only 15 years old to enjoy an R-rated comedy about abstaining from sex during Lent.

The hard truth is that, as much as movie going hasn’t changed, neither has teen behavior.  When headlines are including lines like, “…Streak of Teen Movie Misfires,” it is hard for teens to not want to explore other options; especially, when movie going is all about the social experience, so making the best of the night is a must.

Autumn is a big time for film companies due to the upcoming holiday season.  As an avid movie goer, I am on the lookout for the upcoming hits—I think you should be too.  If not for yourself, then think about your teens.  Some appear to be harmless, and others create some pause—even for me.  I’ve included a couple to just give you a sample of some of the films I hope to delve into further as this blog continues.

Although some teen films may not be fairing well, others are, so The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire should be on your list.  I would like to think that this series builds on the idea of strength of the “little [wo]man,” but it too misfires.  I think that the idea is a little mature.  The films are handled well; I just find the thought of killing others for food is a bit morbid.  I think the film even finds itself further flawed with the limited dimension of Katniss—a savior from beginning to end.  The industry had a great opportunity to utilize the film to show the many qualities of a female lead, but they fell into the common trap of strong, or weak.   Will this film make up where the first one lacked?  I guess we will have to wait and see.

On the flip-side we will see the return of the Shakespearean classic Romeo and Juliet for another stab at trying to bring life to an old classic that—sad but true—once you’ve seen one, you have seen them all.  Here is where I really begin to struggle with my thoughts on the film industry versus what is exposed to teens in other ways.  Undoubtedly, this film will be rated PG-13.  Why wouldn’t it?  You read the text in ninth grade—that is if that hasn’t changed.  I know these are the classic tragedies, but reading about killing yourself over love is a little deep for a 14-15 year old in today’s world.  I say today because one quick search will reveal heightened teen suicide, and a sensitive generation that seeks instant gratification.  I’m not trying to razz on the generation, or group them all together.  I just think we should consider that change has happened, and a teen today may not be the same as a teen was 10 or 20 years ago.

Now, it is not without great pause that I ask:  Do you care?  This may cause some ruckus, but I think it is a worthy question.  I recently saw We’re the Millers–A very adult comedy film filled with drug trafficking, nudity, and foul language.  To my dismay, two parents walked in with what appeared to be a five year old boy, and a seven year old girl—using my niece and nephew as a reference I would assume my guess was close.  I think that the clip explains itself, and it tore me up when I heard the little girl exclaim, “Mommy, I want to watch cartoons.”  I’m not saying you would do this, but it definitely may raise a question or two in your mind about how children get exposed to adult media at such young ages.  Add in Romeo and Juliet and I think we have an interesting dilemma.  Do we start talking about the movies? Do we start talking about access?  Or do we start talking about mature expectations?

I will let you decide!  All I can do is provide my thoughts and opinions, where you take it is up to you.

Until next time,

J

 

 

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