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20 Awesome Quotes From The Most Badass Women In Television

20 Awesome Quotes From The Most Badass Women In Television | Health and Wellness | Scoop.it
From Dragon mothers and mothers-turned-lawyers, to zombie killers and D.C. fixers—today’s TV ladies are emboldened, intelligent, hilarious, and inspiring.
Kaitlin McKinnon's insight:

This is a step in the right direction! All of these women are fantastic role models (though I would be a little concerned if you exclusively looked up to Claire Underwood) and portray multi-dimensional women. These characters are 'strong' not because they can fight and look good doing it, but because they're smart, make hard decisions, have both sexual and non-sexual desires, and don't allow themselves to be controlled by men. This is fantastic. 

Less fantastic is the fact that only a quarter of the women on this list are main characters. Most of them are side characters, and while that still counts as representation, it's a lot harder to make a role model out of a side character. The next step is to have more female leads, especially in shows that aren't exclusively about women.   

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Bechdel Test Movie List

Kaitlin McKinnon's insight:

Here are the stats I promised you! Please keep in mind that these are rated by normal people, rather than professionals. 

I looked at the movies from this year, and out of the 72 currently out, there are 34 that pass all stages of the Bechdel Test. (Though it should be noted that six of these are disputed.) 

Overall, that's heartening. Not exactly empowering, but on the way there. Of course, I haven't seen most of the movies, so as the site says "A movie [passing] does not mean it is at all "good" or feminist friendly, just that it passed all the tests".  

So why is this important? If half the movies we watch don't even allow women to talk to each other, much less develop their characters and show that there are things in their life that matter that don't include the opposite sex, (Career, or children, for instance) than we as a culture don't believe women's lives matter for anything other than an accessory to romance. It's statistics like this that contribute to the objectification of women, and though we're progressing, we won't have true equality until closer to 90% (or all) movies pass the Bechdel test.

Also, I haven't done this yet, but I've been intending to look at a number of movies and look at the male minor characters and see if they pass the male version of the Bechdel test (assuming I don't count the main character) if you guys are interested in that, send me some movies, and I'll post those stats too.  

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Thoughts on Role Models

Kaitlin McKinnon's insight:

I've been thinking a lot about one of the question I asked in the first weeks of this project- what kind of representation is the best representation? At the time, I thought it was more important to represent diverse worlds where every minority has some sort of representation. This vision demonstrates that there are other people besides white heteronormative men in the world. Who would have thought that given the demographics we see in most movies? The second is main character representation, the only way to make a movie or tv show truly about a minority.

I don't mean to suggest that the former is less important, but it sends a very different message.  A representative cast shows that those people exist in the world, but that doesn't mean much. They can still be stereotyped, objectified, tokenized. A college website with African American kids on the front page doesn't mean anything. That's nothing but a marketing ploy.

What we need is relatable main characters. Minorities need characters with backstories and flaws and triumphs that don't entirely revolve around their gender/racial/intellectual/whatever identity.

No one makes a role model out of a minor character (How many kids want to be Robin when they can be Batman?) but most movie protagonists are able bodied, heteronormative, white, men. What does that mean for the majority of the audience, the people who aren't represented in that mold? We have to either idolize the white male or pick from the meager supply of diverse characters we get every once in a while.

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‘Orange Is The New Black’ Season 2: ‘People’s Minds Are Going To Be Blown’

‘Orange Is The New Black’ Season 2: ‘People’s Minds Are Going To Be Blown’ | Health and Wellness | Scoop.it

“So many students have said, trans students have said; now I can have a point of reference when I talk about who I am. My friends are like, ‘Oh, like Sophia from ‘Orange is the New Black?’’ and they’re like, ‘yeah,’ and then they just move on and it’s not an issue,” she said. “I got a letter from a young, from a trans youth’s mother who said that he transitioned because of me and because of seeing me on the show it gave him the courage to talk to his parents about who he was and they’re supportive and loving and now he’s started his transition. It’s insane. It’s really beautiful.”

 
Kaitlin McKinnon's insight:

Laverne Cox, a transwoman who plays a transwoman in the show "Orange is the New Black" demonstrates how important media representation is for invisible/underrepresented people can be. 

 

Jared Leto portrayed a transwoman in "Dallas Buyer's Club" but his involvement, while good for visibility, didn't have the same impact as Cox's because Leto is a cis-man outside of his role. Laverne Cox was nominated for Time's 100 Most Influential people this year by a staggering majority, but unfortunately (and for many, infuriatingly) was not placed on the list. 

 

Although I don't agree with everything she says, the fact remains that Laverne Cox is one of the most visible transperson in the media right now and she's inspired a lot of people and made them feel safe expressing their identities. This is why representation is important. 

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Amy Argenal's comment, June 10, 2014 8:49 PM
Yes, and her and Janet Mock's work have been really powerful around the representation of trans women of color.
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Star Wars and the 4 Ways Science Fiction Handles Race

Star Wars and the 4 Ways Science Fiction Handles Race | Health and Wellness | Scoop.it
The genre has no problem imagining a future full of spaceships and aliens. A racially integrated society, though? 
Kaitlin McKinnon's insight:

1) Metaphor (District 9 as a metaphor for apartheid--> usually has the message 'it's okay to be different')


2) Tokenism (A racially diverse side character that is technically present but doesn't do much. See Christina in Divergent)


3) Diversity (The norm is not white. The Earthsea books are an example.)


4) Directly addresses the issue (Race is a barrier for this character in their everyday life. This article suggests that District 11, the poorest, segregated district, in the Hunger Games uses this method.)
This article is a great introduction to the issue of representation because, like a lot of articles on the topic, it points out the problems without proposing any solutions. Of course, the fact that the four methods of approaching race exist at all is a positive sign, it means the science fiction is trying to do something to address racism, even if it's just because diversity heightens their viewing statistics. 

The problem, however, arises when there's an imbalance of methods. Metaphor and tokenism are utilized far more often than diversity and directly addressing the issue. Unfortunately these two are also the least effective of the methods. Tokenism can easily be ignored, and often the movie/show itself ignores it. Very few people care about a character who just gets pushed to the side when the real character development and plot comes along. Metaphor is a great method so far as pointing out the issues go, but it's most helpful when it addresses blatant racism, or legislation that specifically isolates individuals. Most metaphorical movies fall short when it comes to everyday, internalized and invisible racism because the intended audience doesn't know they're doing anything wrong, so they don't recognize that the movie is pointing out problems they themselves contribute to. 

Unfortunately, like the article above, I don't have any solutions yet, but as I hope that by the end of this project I'll be able to propose some concrete answers. Until then, I'll leave you with a quote from the article that emphasizes a theme I'm sure I'll talk about again. 

"Star Wars encapsulates a pop-culture tradition of space operas that can easily invent spaceships and robots and aliens, but that helplessly acquiesce to old, stereotypical treatments of gender and race." 

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Amy Argenal's comment, June 10, 2014 8:47 PM
Great post, Kaitlin
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Guiding Question

A question to guide my research

 

Kaitlin McKinnon's insight:

How does minority representation in the media reflect/inform upon the perception of those groups in real life?

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Hugh Jackman Fought to Show You His Naked Ass

Hugh Jackman Fought to Show You His Naked Ass | Health and Wellness | Scoop.it
Tired of seeing women be the only ones who have to let it all hang out in love scenes? So is Hugh Jackman. Here he is discussing why he felt it was important -- nay, necessary -- for Wolverine to give you the full cheek peek in X-Men Days of the Past of the Futures that Have Passed:
Kaitlin McKinnon's insight:

In one scene in "X-men: Days of Future Past" Hugh Jackman gets out of a bed butt naked- and we see his butt. His director wanted to disguise his nakedness. 

Hugh Jackman's argument was that if Wolverine was waking up in bed with a pretty girl, he sure as hell wouldn't be wearing shorts, but a couple of people have interpreted his defiance as a feminist statement- if women are so easily objectified in the media (and near-nude scenes /are/ common in Pg-13 movies- just look at the most recent Star Trek) then shouldn't men be too? 

It's subtle, but it's a step in the right direction.
 

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Amy Argenal's comment, June 10, 2014 8:38 PM
Creative post, Kaitlin!
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The Bechdel Test

How to tell if a movie is arguably not sexist. 

Kaitlin McKinnon's insight:

The Bechdel test, designed by comic book creator Allison Bechdel, is a simple way to understand if a movie is doing anything helpful for female representation. There are three criteria a movie needs in order to pass. 

1. It must contain more than one named female.

2. These two women have to talk to each other at some point.

3. This conversation cannot revolve around a man, especially one that they are both romantically interested in.

 

That's it. Relatively simple, right? Basically, treat women like human beings and you'll pass the test. Apparently it's more difficult than you'd think, because most movies don't pass. (Unfortunately the site with the statistics is currently down, but I'll post those as soon as I get them).   

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Kaitlin McKinnon's comment, June 10, 2014 11:01 AM
And that's exactly the problem. Yes, it's true, many white males are also written as one sided stereotypes (especially in Action movies and blockbusters) but there are so many of them that it doesn't matter as much. The stereotypes are diverse enough that there's no single way to categorize a white male, and they're clearly being catered to. I wouldn't say that every female in a movie is either a bimbo, feminist or boring, because I think that brings us one step closer to the dangerous belief that all women are like that, but minor characters definitely aren't as developed as they should and need to be.
Education's comment, June 10, 2014 11:07 AM
(The above above comment is Celeste)
Amy Argenal's comment, June 10, 2014 8:40 PM
Thanks Celeste! And a very interesting article! I have never heard of this before.
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How to Talk to Asians: Pitch Perfect - YouTube

I love Pitch Perfect. The writing was amaze-balls. Except for the Asian characters. What lonely racist did they dig up to write the Asian characters? Don't f...
Kaitlin McKinnon's insight:

Mike makes a great example of how popular movies and shows can negatively affect minorities by using "Pitch Perfect" as an example. 

 

"Pitch Perfect" does not create any of the stereotypes is portrays (which, he notes, are mostly negative) but it does perpetuate them, which is just as harmful. 

 

Although Mike has a sense of humor about this issue, he's clearly insulted and feels misrepresented. 

 

As a white girl, I can't speak to the personal offense the Asian viewership of "Pitch Perfect" feels, but the amount of comments pointing out Mike's erasure of all but East Asians suggests the importance of (positive) representation. 

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Amy Argenal's comment, June 10, 2014 8:43 PM
This is really good!
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Lupita Nyong'o: interview with a rising star - Telegraph

Lupita Nyong'o: interview with a rising star - Telegraph | Health and Wellness | Scoop.it

"The Color Purple, the film adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel. ‘It was first time I’d seen someone like me on screen,’ Nyong’o says. ‘Whoopi Goldberg had my kind of hair and was dark like me. I thought, maybe I could do this for a living.’"

Kaitlin McKinnon's insight:

Key point: Lupita Nyong'o began acting because she was inspired by Whoopi Goldberg. She felt that if Goldberg could do it, so could she. 

 

Although we should aim for more than a single good role model, the importance of representation through even a single person cannot be underestimated. Lupita Nyong'o is a great actress and an inspiring person, and her story is sure to be repeated. As more people watch "12 Years a Slave," Nyong'o's interviews and her work in the future, more people will be inspired to act, despite, or perhaps because of, the color of their skin. 

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How does TV have anything to do with Health and Wellness?

(Essentially a mission statement for the blog) 

Kaitlin McKinnon's insight:

This blog will primarily focus on the topic on the representation of minorities in the form of race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. I believe that the media plays an essential role in all of our lives, and both demonstrates and propagates problematic stereotypes and opinions in our supposedly media-free lives. 

Positive portrayals of minority groups, especially from lead characters, assure people both in those groups and outside of them that's it's okay to be transexual or adopted or hyperactive and allow people to feel good about themselves and their differences. Consequently, harmful or ignorant stereotypes can cause stress or validate -ist ideas, and as a result can harm people's mental health, making this a health and wellness issue.  

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Cassie May's comment, June 9, 2014 11:03 AM
Or mostly technology and healthcare
Cassie May's comment, June 9, 2014 11:04 AM
but the advancements in technology have created incredible medical opportunities and access that can help people even in the most remote countries.
Amy Argenal's comment, June 10, 2014 8:45 PM
I really appreciate your questions and goals of this blog!