If it's crap ... We'll tell you
While this blog doesn't necessarily focus purely on the movie side of sexism which is so bizarre and infuriating, I've written this blog to reflect on the concerns of sexism and relationship roles all across pop culture. Spill definitely covers sexism very well in particular reviews, but I feel like it can't be stressed enough how movies try to sell positive relationships as being mean-spirited and apathetic. But with all of our technology, I believe our generation can counter against major forms of sexism within our culture.
Thank you, by Scott_PJ
Romantic relationships are very wonderful, but continuously confusion things that are structured upon the idea that intense emotional and physical attachments makes you want to spend lots of time with whomever you choose. I like to think that my parents, while not having a perfect marriage, have taught me how two people should love and respect each other. I’ve even been taught through psychology classes about the idea of Sternburg’s Triangular Theory of Love, where love is formed through a balance trio of intimacy, passion, and commitment, a policy that I can fully believe in. However, everyone has a peculiar idea of how a relationship should function, be it based on personal experience, how that person was raised, and through the uncountable number of examples shown in pop culture. Love can be viewed in a myriad of ways, from a constant power struggle to the greatest gift one can bestow to another, which is why it is still such a fickle thing for men and women to understand.
So, why does pop culture try to establish itself as the correct advisor to understanding the ways of love? Many series display that their characters can go beyond the borders of historical and social context and teach human beings the true way to treat one another. The media seems to send out a message from time to time, that good relationships can involve being emotionally empty, that showing signs of wanting to be intimate or within a committed relationship is a sign of weakness. New movies, books, and even commercials I’ve seen try to say that positive relationships don’t even have to involve acting nice and people can casually break social norms/laws over treating one another. It creates an attitude: “These two people love each other, that’s all that matters, and you have no right to question if it’s good or not because it’s LOVE.” It’s true that not every relationship is conventional, but pop culture has a nasty habit of representing relationships as frivolous, passé, and purely sexual. It portrays both genders in incredibly unwieldy, shallow ways, while also trying to teach a message that this type of treatment is normal and potentially more appealing.
What I believe people need to understand, is that when a romance novel or movie is created, it’s important to look at the creation as a whole. How does the fledgling or long lasting couple represent society? Does book or film come off as being harmless material or does it intentionally try to teach a message about love and affection? It may feel empty to put pop culture under major scrutiny, but as we are living in the 21st Century, why does so much of our entertainment continue to be so sexist?
It may not be as glaringly obvious and it might be under a new coat of trendy primer, but you can’t deny sexism still exists when certain movies and shows try to flat out tell you that relationships are only about looks:
This might come off as an extreme example, but think about the underlying messages that come from displaying this type of attitude. That love is to only exist between physically and psychologically perfect people. It states that men are proudly ignorant to only care what’s sexy and that women may demand power, but are scared bunnies that need to loved on the inside. I’m not saying that these kinds of people don’t exist, but this particular film is trying sell that this specific relationship is good, positive, and long lasting. It especially comes off as questionable when the two arguing characters actually get together at the end with the same persisting attitudes of reluctant emotions. I understand, you could doubt me in believing the movie is sexist, but I would prefer that one’s time should not be wasted on this kind of trashy material. And what comes off as rather baffling, is that while the movie is quite misogynist, it was written and produced by women.
Is it the same sex or minority is bashing itself, does it mean that it has a privilege to those portray harmful stereotypes? What’s important to understand is that even though a woman is poking fun at her own gender, it can still be sexist. One more serious example of this type of action would be juggernaut property of Twilight. Twilight is condemned for how its female protagonist represents women as a whole. The character Bella Swan accomplishes little as an actual person throughout the series, as detailed by, geek-centric blogger Harris O’Malley’s critical analysis of the series. His study of the main character identifies how this seemingly harmless novel can spread bad messages due to how she is depicted:
“Bella’s existence is literally defined by her relationship to men. She’s something to be fought over, angsted over and passed around like a kit-bashed hash pipe at a Phish concert. All of her relationships are entirely dependent on the men in her life, whether father, boyfriend or the platonic-friend-whose-emotions-you’re-not-above-using-to-your-own-ends. Her home town? All about her dad. Her friends? All of them are entirely based on her relationship with two guys. Her career goals? All about her man. No interest in college. No real interest in a career or life outside of her relationship.”
I have no idea how this series became so popular, but the harsh truth is that these novels and movies have a real impact on the media and impressionable people. The sales numbers were astronomical and even with the negative reviews and analysis made couldn’t stop the series’ influential orbit. (Hand) US Weekly shows that during Twilight’s peak in 2009, the adventures of Bella and Jacob really influenced people to make major decisions. I’m not surprised that this type of material exists, but it’s quite astonishing that something like Twilight could have such widespread unfiltered popularity and that young people hold up the ideals taught by the series as gospel.
Now, studying sexism does involve looking at how our culture has evolved. And it’s a shame that women have had to go through a lot of unnecessary turmoil to lead up to this point. But we all seem to acknowledge that how the sexes treated one another back in the 60s was realistically negative. We’ve come to understand what separates men and women both physically and emotionally. Sometimes it comes down to what our genitals makes us do and think, but while everyone seems to understand the issue, it feels like we are repelling the concern rather than trying to mutually recognize it. In older times, men used to be disgusted over just hearing about “periods”, but doesn’t it make more sense that we would have a more positive relationship with women by simply understanding it’s effects? It feels that people are aware over what makes men and women tick, but people would prefer to stay in gender-safe bubbles. Or it could be under the idea that “Relationships are bonded through respect, love, and insight” doesn’t have a better ring to it than “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”
This has legitimately concerned me in terms of, how does pop culture want to represent heterosexual relationships? Sexism and Bad Romance are an unholy matrimony, but the two often come into play as pop culture makes mediocre attempts to represent relationships. Does the media want to keep up a mysterious allure that men and women are so inherently different? It really strikes me as odd at times, because certain forms of entertainment want to keep our sexes separates and at war because it’s more interesting. Pop culture seems to prefer that relationships should be built and formed around haughty, snippy back-and-forth one-liners rather than words of concern and affection. This commercial being a baffling, but rather layered example:
Even if this commercial is based around the message of selling cheese…what is it trying to prove with the buildup and dialogue? Advertisers created and approved this couple, and other than selling a product, what is this trying to say? That partners don’t really have to respect one another to work? I cannot stand this commercial, because I have no idea what it’s really supposed to mean when you dish on a lot of this pointless filler. This bizarre attitude however, still exists, and wishes to view people in a specific way.
Sexism is a hard subject to tackle, and especially with older people dominating the sociological fields and the mediums of pop culture. No one knows what will become popular and it’s hard to predict what forms of entertainment will stick. Two and a Half Men is the most popular show on network television, but the show’s writers are constantly criticized for writing both genders horribly. However, with our generation, it feels like we can fully understand the struggles that both men and women have to go through. Information is everywhere, from textbooks to real life stories documenting what it’s like to have a true relationship. Our technology might expose us to too much pop culture, but it does offer several solutions and aversions from the rampant sexism that we see in our lives. It has been a really slow level of progress, but I believe our generation will strengthen the two genders over time, and we will have more balance, and less blatant diet soda commercials.
Tell me what you all think. Aside from Katherine Heigl, what else is really sexist that you are surprised is so popular or long-lasting?