Thursday, June 01, 2006

Final Thoughts on the Class

I enjoyed this class unlike I have enjoyed many others. The arguements, although taxing, were fun. After some of the discussions/arguements/melees we had in class, I am glad no one knows which car I drive!! Here are some of my final thoughts on the class.

We are all different. We are all going to have different opinions that are going to be influenced by our race, gender, and disposition. No one is wrong for believing what they believe and as such we must learn to tolerate each other's...umm....beliefs for what they are. We dont always have to try to change each other's thinking.

One of the problems I had in this class is the unwillingness by many students not to listen to the ideas and thoughts myself and several others put forward. I must admit that at times, when others got heated up, I might have intentionally said something with the sole intent of fanning a flame and illiciting a reaction out of those individuals. :) I swear I am a nice person that loves learning about all races and especially loves learning more about women since I already known that will never fully understand them!

I dont think a women should ever have to experience violence, be sexualized or subjugated against her will but in all the images we saw in class, those women CHOSE to be depicted in that manner. Sure the media wanted a specific image and as long as there are men and women that willing to expose themselves physically or mentally for some reward (usually money) then the media will continue to fabricate the images they so desire. As soon as the supply of willing individuals runs dry, when we are no longer slaves to the dollar, then the media will be forced to change the images they desire to produce. Since this is unlikely to ever happen, since we are creatures of want, the media will continue to run amok as it pleases. Either we can hope for the best and hope we can tame it or we can jump on it and exploit media opportunities for all they are worth!!!!

Bienvenidos y Bueno Suerte!!

Final Project-WOOHOO!!!!

Summary of Findings
Uber-Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer definitely follows a formula in his films. The Bruckheimer Formula is a successful one that will guarantee his continued success but will also guarantee that his films will not be remembered as thoughtful, engrossing films but rather as mega-budget mainstream fluff. His films are unlikely to win at Cannes, Sundance, or take home an Academy Award for Best Picture but they will continue to provide enormous returns on the original investment.

Previous Study-
When I first had the idea to examine Bruckheimer flicks, I came across a paragraph that was the basis of my research. It is from the website, www.mediacircus.net, and says, “Moviegoers have become familiar with the Bruckheimer formula of movie-making over the years-- ordinary men placed in extraordinary situations, John Woo-inspired gunplay, larger-than-life pyrotechnics, car chases galore, and of course, flashy women.” I agree with this summation but I also wish to add a few more elements to the Bruckheimer Formula that I found in several of his films that I examined.

Corpus and Method-
I chose to use some of Bruckheimer’s most successful and high budget movies for my research. The pool of movies I used were: “Top Gun”, “Days of Thunder”, “Bad Boys”, “The Rock”, “Con Air”, “Armageddon”, “Gone in Sixty Seconds”, and “Pearl Harbor”. These eight films have a combined worldwide gross of nearly $2.4 billion. As a whole, Bruckheimer’s films have a combined worldwide gross of nearly 11.5 billion, making him the most successful movie producer of all time (Source: www.askmen.com). Once I had my corpus of films to examine, I examined the movies for several things. First, I looked to see who the main characters are. Next, I looked for the role of women in his films. Then, by using personal recollection of actually watching that movie and with help from www.imdb.com, I looked to see the interaction of the women and the men and examined the role the women played as sexual objects for the male leads. I then read online reviews of the movies and juxtaposed this with my own recollection and critiques of each of these movies as a way to formulate my version of the Bruckheimer Formula. Finally, as a way to measure the economic impact of Bruckheimer’s films, I used the website www.the-numbers.com/movies to find the production cost and worldwide gross for each of these movies. Curious about his economic impact? These eight films grossed almost $2.4 billion worldwide and cost almost $875 million to make.

Findings-
“Bruckheimer is the ultimate guy-movie guy. His films have entertained countless men with everything men like: fast cars, loud explosions and feisty babes. He has that knack of making you want more action a movie, and then delivering.”
(Source: www.askmen.com )

Ordinary Men-
One of the elements that make up the Bruckheimer Formula is the “Ordinary Man” theme. The heroes in his movies are not usually a likely hero. Rather, as said earlier, it is ordinary men placed in extraordinary situations that somehow manage to muster up the courage and bravery to save the day.

Top Gun gives us Maverick, a seemingly ordinary daredevil with an insane talent for flying jets. At the end of that movie, Maverick saves the day by going into combat against Arab pilots.

The Rock gives us Nicolas Cage playing a nerdy scientist that must infiltrate Alcatraz to thwart terrorist activities.

Con Air gives us another Nicolas Cage character. This time he is a former Army Ranger hitching a ride home after a stint in prison. Again, he must thwart terrorist activities.

Armageddon displays some oilfield roughnecks that must endure NASA training to go into space, not to thwart terrorist activities but rather to blow up a meteor.

Gone in Sixty Seconds gives us yet another Nicolas Cage character that MUST steal 50 cars in one night to save his little brother’s life. No terrorist activities are involved.

Pearl Harbor tells the story of two lifelong buddies from the cornfields in some unknown state that must fight in World War II after terrorist activities caused the destruction of Pearl Harbor.

"John Woo-Inspired Gunplay"-
Most of Bruckheimer’s movies have a large amount of destruction. A viewer is sure to see some stuff blow up when watching a movie by this producer. Here, it is worth noting that a few of these movies are rated R solely because of their stuff-gets-blown-up element. They do not get a R rating for sex, as explained later.

Top Gun-Hmm….Americans flying jets. Arabs flying jets. Lots of jets explode.

The Rock-Terrorist activities include trying to release VX nerve gas on the San Francisco Bay Area via rockets launched from Alcatraz. Stuff gets blown up.

Con Air-Convicts hijack a plane and eventually crash land it on the Las Vegas Strip. Cars, streets, and a hotel get blown up.

Armageddon-A very large meteor (“It’s the size of Texas!!”) gets blown up via a nuclear warhead placed along its fault line by a team of oil drillers. Needless to say, it gets blown up.

Pearl Harbor-A realistic sequence shows the entire destruction of Pearl Harbor and later another sequence shows the Bombing of Tokyo. Lots of airplanes, ships, and buildings get blown up.

Men Chasing Those Flashy Women-
One of the things I found most interesting in Bruckheimer’s movies is the role of women. Not once is a woman the lead character. Rather the beautiful woman is usually there only to serve as a love interest for one of the lead characters (always men). There are usually two leading men in these movies and at some point they are going to bicker and fight with each other and during this one of them is going to chase and get the girl. However, it is worth noting that although these women primarily serve as the love interest, they are not hyper-sexualized like one might expect. Rather, these movies hint at the idea of sex between the woman and whatever man is chasing her. The actual sex is not shown. Not one of Bruckheimer’s movies shows nudity.

Top Gun-Tom Cruise’s Maverick bickers with Val Kilmer’s Iceman while Chasing Kelly McGillis. They eventually make love to “Take My Breath Away”.

Days of Thunder-Tom Cruise bickers with Cary Elwes while chasing Nicole Kidman. They later get married in real life.

Bad Boys-Will Smith bickers with Martin Lawrence while saving and chasing Tea Leoni.

The Rock-Nicolas Cage bickers with Sean Connery while thwarting Ed Harris’s terrorist plot. His girlfriend patiently waits ashore for his safe return.

Con Air-Its Nicolas Cage again! This time he is bickering with John Malkovich en route to reunite with his wife, Monica Potter.

Armageddon-Ben Affleck bickers with Bruce Willis while chasing Willis’ daughter, played by Liv Tyler.

Gone in Sixty Seconds-Nicolas Cage bickers with everyone while stealing a boatload of cars in one night but still manages to chase Angelina Jolie.

Pearl Harbor-Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett bicker while fighting Japanese but still manage to chase the same girl, played by Kate Beckinsale. They each sleep with her at one time but not at the same time. That would be dirty.

The Music-
The last element to the Bruckheimer Formula is the use of music. Most of these movies featured a song by a well known artist or band. We can still recognize these songs and remember from which movie they came. If you were to ask most people to name a song from one of these movies, they probably would be able to. However, if you were to ask someone the same question but referencing non-Bruckheimer flicks, they would certainly be more hard pressed to name a song from the soundtrack.

Top Gun-Everyone knows and recognizes “Take My Breath Away” performed by Berlin during the tasteful love scene between Cruise and McGillis. We also remember Kenny Loggins “Danger Zone”.

Con Air-Even if you never saw this movie, you probably would recognize “How Do I Live?” by Trisha Yearwood that was featured in the film.

Armageddon-I remember the summer this came out because every radio station seemed to play Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” on a never ending loop. Affleck and Tyler have a very romantic scene to this song.

Pearl Harbor-Country superstar Faith Hill gave this movie the song “There You’ll Be”.

Bad Boys-The infamous Bad Boys theme (used also on the TV show COPS), came from this movie). Whatcha going to do when I come for you? Bad boys, bad boys….

Summary-
Alas, I am done explaining the Bruckheimer Formula. Simply put, here it is: Big budget, well known actors, beautiful women, lots of explosions, fast cars, a love interest (even better if it is a love triangle), limited sex but enough to hint at it, and a song from a well known artist or band. Obviously this formula is no secret to movie makers but it is simply Bruckheimer is the best at doing it. This is why he is the most successful movie producer of all times, having raked in over $11 billion in global receipts. Now he is branching into TV and is still using the same formula but with minor tweaks to suit TV audiences.

I am sure that you cannot help notice that nowhere is an exceptional script part of the Bruckheimer Formula. Perhaps I can best explain it like this. Scripts are not important to the kind of movie producer Bruckheimer is trying to be. They are secondary elements in his Formula, not primary ones like those listed above. One must realize that he wants only to make movies that are guarantee a great box officer return on the original investment. It is not in his money making scheme to worry about little details like exceptional scripts. His goal is to make money and not to win critical praise and adulations from the small market that actually care about fine writing. Most people go to the movies to escape reality and only want to get lost in some fantastic spectacle that Jerry Bruckheimer is a genius at producing.

While writing that last paragraph, William Randolph Hearst’s famous line from the Spanish American War popped into my head. He once said to a photographer stationed in Cuba, “You provide me with the pictures and I will provide you with the war.” I certainly feel that Bruckheimer has his own paraphrase of that line. His should be something along the lines of, “You provide me with the budget and I will provide you with the explosions, women, cars, and music that will guarantee enormous returns. We will worry about the script later.”

Bamboozled cont.

I forgot to mention something in my previous post regarding Bamboozled. Along with money, there is another reason why we allow wrongful depictions of our race and gender in media, the need and want to assimilate.

This is more for racial depictions than gender but gender is still part of it. It is our natural instinct to want to assimilate to be like those around us. That is why children of immigrants often try to drop any personal elements that make then seem different. These can include native dress, their native language, foods, customs, accents, etc.

As a Hispanic, my family seemed to often try to drop those elements that made us different then our surrounding communities. Sure our last name is still Rodriguez but I was never taught Spanish as a child even though my mom is completely fluent. I know today that my dad's mom urged her not to teach us Spanish perhaps so we could be more "white". We always had nice cars and not beatups. My parents let my sisters and me shop at whatever stores we wanted. My sisters never had quincinieras (which is similar to a bar-mitzvah but for Hispanic girls when they turn 15).

I today more closely associate with my white friends than I do with Hispanics. It is not such a wrong thing to assimilate but I often find myself wondering what part of my heritage I have given off to assimilate.

This assimilation is another reason why we allow wrongful and hurtful depictions of our race becuase we have chosen to give that typical race up for the race that most resembles our surroundings.

Bamboozled and Assimilation

This is going to be perhaps the most honest posting I have written yet.

We watched the Spike Lee film Bamboozled today in class and quite frankly that film rocked me to the core. As a minority, it made me question why we allow some of the media depictions of our own individual races to be so stereotypical and degrading. Further, it made me question why we sometimes particiapate in said degradations or even perpetuate that sort of ignorance. After all, if we are not trying to stop it, then we are fueling it.

I really question the whole idea of acutally participating in the degradations of one's race. I am reminded of a lyric in Tupac Shakur's Changes. In it he says

"But some things will never change/Try to show another way, but they staying in the dope game/Now tell me what's a mother to do?/Being real don't appeal to the brother in you/You gotta operate the easy way/"I made a G today"/But you made it in a sleazy way/Selling crack to the kids/"I gotta get paid"/Well hey, well that's the way it is."

This mentality goes in line with what the two actors in the movie felt. At first they didnt mind degrading themselves or the race and heritage in order to make some money.

Money is an underlying factor in most of what we discussed in class all Maymester. That is simply the reason why we will sometimes humiliate ourselves, our families, and out heritage. Look at the disgusting debacle that is Fear Factor. Contestants are willing to insanse stunts for the CHANCE to win $50k. Women portrayed in media are willing to pose naked or allow themselves to be depicted as purely sex objects just to make some money.

If we are truly tired of the depictions that offend each of us such as racial, sexual, etc. we must ask ourselves what we are NOT willing to do for some cash and work backwards from there until we get to a point where we understand that we will not allow wrong depictions of whatever it is that offends us to continue further simply because there arent any poeple that are willing to be depicted in such a way just to earn a few bucks. (I hope that makes sense!!)

Men as Sexual Creatures vs. Women as Emotional Creatures

Let me first start by saying that this is a gross generalization but in class today I was thinking about the differences between men and women. I really started to think about this during the gay images we viewed. It seems that men and women are generally wired totally differently. Women seem to want to create an emotional attachment with a sex partner whereas men are able to jump right on in. I think this can be generalized as one of the primary differences in the way women and men are wired.

Although gay men are said to exhibit more feminine and androgynous behavior, the behavior when it comes to sex is still similar to that of straight men. Likewise, gay women, which are said to display more masculine tendencies, still act as most straight women in matters of sex. The scene with the two gay men in a club is a perfect example. In that scene, the couple was laying the groundrules for their homosexual relationship. One partner was allowed to sleep with as many gay men simply as long as he did not kiss their mouths. As a counterpoint, the scene with Mariel Hemingway and Roseanne is an example of the emotional attachment women want to have with their partners.

I know these are generalizations and there are of course going to be exceptions to the norm but to provide a little more evidence that men might be more willing to sleep with someone they may not know, I went on to Craiglist. There I searched under the heading of Casual Encounters for the Dallas area. Almost all of the postings listed are for no strings attached sex and random meaningless "hookups". Not surprisingly, most of the ads were from men searching for women and these ads often had the male anatomy on display in hopes of enticing a potential unknown bedmate. There were a few from women and yes some of these all displayed the female anatomy but these were not nearly in the numbers of the men's ads.

I dont know why men and women are wired so differently but it is one of those very unique traits that seperates the needs and wants of men and women.

Final Project

No this is not my final project. I am going to simply state what I am going to do and the reasons why. I am doing it like this so that I can look back at this blog in a little while and see if it still makes sense to me and to others out there that may read this.

I am going to compare films by uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer to see if I can identify certain codes or themes in his film. Specifically I want to see if there is a "Bruckheimer Formula" that weave throughout his film and how this formula depicts the sexes, sex, and race.

I chose to use Bruckheimer flicks for several reasons. He is one of the highest grossing movie produces of all time. I read a few years ago that his films have grossed over 10 billion dollars in receipts. Obviously people are watching his movies. I watch his movies simply for their entertainment value. I think his films are the typical mainstream, mega-budget, special effects galore films that Hollywood had produced last year. You are not likely to see one of this films at an art-house theater or even an Angelika. There is little intrinsic educational value to his movies but they are great if watched solely as entertainment fluff.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Who Is Buying the Bling??

I thought I would write a little bit tonight on a thought I had last week but never really discussed. I did my mini-project on jewelry ads in magazines in hopes of finding who jewelry makers are targeting as their buyer. It has long been my suspicion that the intended buyer is not the woman that is going to wear most of the advertised jewelry but rather it is her man that is going to buy those pieces for her. For my mini-project, the results did not correspond with my hypothesis. I must point out that I used two magazines with a little higher affluent demographic and therefore a slightly higher appreciation for men and women with money. The women's magazine, InStyle, was very progressive in their ads in that the women was often the only character, she was not provactively displayed, and she was the intended buyer. I wonder if I were to look at magazines that feature ads from less-than-high-end manufacturers if I would find that the target consumer is women and the target buyer is a man. Any thoughts?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Midriffs=Plastics??

Here is a quick thought for a post I am trying to work on. Any input is helpful.

Do the tween midriffs turn into plastics when they are in the 20's-40's? By plastics I mean the middle aged divorcees with loads of plastic surgery. If not, from where do all these plastics come from? I will post more this weekend.
Who is Really Buying the Bling?

Two-sentence summary of findings:
Unexpectedly the two magazines I used were very fair in promoting various types of jewelry to specific demographics. The men’s magazine targeted their ads towards men using men in almost all of their ads and the women’s magazine targeted their ads solely to women using only women in roughly half of their ads and couples in the other half.

Summary of the previous study:
I could not find a similar study.

Its most important foundation literature and how it relates to your own project:
No previous study was used.

Corpus and method:
My corpus comprises all full-page ads for various types of jewelry, appearing in one men’s magazine and one women’s magazine. I used the 362-page December 2005 issue of GQ and the 532-page April 2006 issue of InStyle. GQ featured 17 full-page ads primarily targeted towards men’ high-end watches and InStyle featured 18 full-page ads advertising women’s high-end rings, necklaces, and watches. I used a simple quantitative analysis in which the main character of each ad was coded as well the target buyer and the dress of the character. I did not use descriptive analysis.

Findings:
Both magazines included a combined 34 full-page ads for various pieces of jewelry: 8 were men and 7 were female. Two ads had both a man and woman as main characters and 18 ads used no people (GQ used 8 and InStyle used 10). GQ had one ad with a woman as the main character and she was a demurely dressed Danica Patrick dressed in her NASCAR racing jumpsuit. InStyle had no ads with men as main characters. Combined, nine main characters were coded as demure in dress, three were coded as provocatively dressed, and two were coded in street or other dress. GQ had one sexualized depiction and InStyle had 2. The targeted buyer remained segregated to each magazines ideal reader gender. GQ targeted all 9 of its ads with people to men and InStyle targeted all 6 of its ads with people towards women

Conclusions:
Both magazines featured very tasteful jewelry ads and marketed those ads to their demographic. I had previously thought that a women’s magazine would advertise jewelry with the intent that the woman would not be the buyer but rather her man would be the one buying the expensive jewelry. We viewed an ad in class in which a woman was almost trading sexual favors for a necklace and neither one of the magazines used that sort of advertising. It should be noted that both GQ and InStyle are going to be among the most tasteful and therefore less sexualized in content among magazines targeted to men and women. I only used two magazines in this mini-study but if I were to do this on a larger scale, magazines that are not in the high-end demographic such as these two would have to be utilized and coded for content. It might be interesting to see how magazines in different demographics depict women as sexualized objects or men as sugar-daddy buyer.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Why can't we all enjoy our own sexuality??

I am going to keep this very short. We must all learn to embrace our own sexuality. Men and women were created to complement each other. It is not necessary of women to understand all the ways and needs of men and men are never going to understand all the complexitites of women. Today in class it bugged me when one woman failed to comprehend the reasons men sometimes want to release a little primal urge, be it in video games or other means. I brought up the point that I personally believe video games are a waste of time but I am not going to knock somebody that chooses to relax or relieve stress by playing games. I prefer to get outside and do some other activity like taking a gun down to the skeet shooting range and unloading a box of shells at clay targets!!

It is not out responsibility to feel like we have understand all the complexities of the opposite sex. We should all embrace who we are today with abandon for other judgemental people.

To the cute girl that sat behind me and wants to go skeet shooting, I am usually available Sunday afternoons, how about you?

Midriffs=Plastics?

I started this post last week but finally finished it tonight.....

Today in class we discussed the concept of the "Midriff". It is a term that pertains to the entire female population. It is sort of generational in that it refers primarily to younger females. In going along with this term, I have coined one of my own, the "Plastic". Yes I am aware that this term was used in the movie Mean Girls to refer to can be considered Midriffs. I want to use the term Plastics to refer to a different, and quite raunchy segment of the population, the middle-aged divorcee. I use Plastic to refer to the often large amount of plastic surgery these women have undergone in starting their post-marriage life.

I work at a job where we see many of these Plastics. My industry is one that serves no greater purpose to the public but to those few with enough disposable income (i.e. the new divorcee) to spend sometimes large amounts of money on a consummable product. In other words, I work in an industry that caters to excess. I make and sell wine.

This past weekend was an event called Main Street Days in Grapevine, TX, where my winery happens to be located. Friday night we had a large group of Plastics come in for some wine tastings as part of the 40th birthday of one of the women. These women came in quite joyous, probably because of some liquid courgage that had previously imbibed. Their behavior was quite engrossing. They took pictures posing in various poses with myself and one of the other winemakers. One of them also had a badge that said "Pecker Inspector" and when questioned as to its meaning, she said that whoever asked her that had to pull down their pants.

I would think that as Midriffs got older and turned into Plastics, they would become more demure in dress and attitude. Some perhaps do but there is a large segment out there that stay in the mentality of a Midriff well into their 40's. Midriffs are known for their revealing clothing that shows off and intends to highlight certain parts of their bodies such as breasts and stomach area. I have notices that the Plastics wear just as revealing clothing although more emphasis seems to be places on their surgically enhanced body parts.

I may be way off in generalizing that Midriffs are destined to turn into Plastics and it very well might be that a I am over-generalizing all Plastics and has-been Midriffs. I know generalizations and stereotyping are bad but at the root of all generalizations/stereotypes is a small nugget of truth. Any thoughts?

Monday, May 15, 2006

First Posting

Howdy,
Today has been one of those days where I could not wait for bedtime to come. I spent the last 7 hours at a couple of car dealerships trying to find a new car that gets decent gas mileage and that I could afford on my winemaker's salary. I was not all too successful. One dealership tried telling me my car was worth less than half than I thought it was and tried raping me on the interest (since I have always paid cash for everything, I dont have much established credit). I walked out of there and went to Carmax to have my car appraised and they said it was worth exactly what I thought it should be. Needless to say, I will not be returning to Toyota of Plano to make my buy.

I know the purpose of this posting is to reminisce about today's class but I have to vent a little bit. Summer school started today. I am taking 4 classes spread out over three summer school sessions which means I will pretty much not have a summer vacation since I will be either in school or working f0r much of my waking hours over the next three months. HOORAY!! I am taking a very interesting class called Race and Gender in the Media. I can honestly say this class is not going to be nearly as painful as I originally thought since it is four hours long four days a week. I am really looking forward to the discussions that I know will arise when we touch on some sensitive subjects. Being as downright opinionated as I am, I am sure I will manage to spread some of my personal wisdom on my fellow classmates. Once I get riled about a topic, I find it hard to stop. Oh well, should make for an interesting next two weeks.

Well it is getting late and I need to get some sleep.

Bienvenidos y bueno suerte! (Goodnight and goodluck!)