McDaniel's Miscellaneous

Friday, October 13, 2006

One of my pet peeves came up in class recently, so I must use this space to rant. The use of IM speak in everyday life. I don't use it personally, but I can deal with other people using it. The problem I have is with people who don't realize there is a time and place for it. That place is not in a high school term paper, and teachers who allow students to use it are not helping them. When they enter college, using that language won't be acceptable. I come from a school that was lacking in many areas, English among them, but I learned early-on what words were not acceptable for use in papers that were to be graded. In formal essays the words I and you should not be used, and using the word things in my senior English class would leave you with an 90 as the highest grade you could receive. In a similar vein, a single run-on sentence would lead to 20 points being taken off. Two run-ons meant you weren't going to pass on that paper.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I find it amazing that AMC and TCM will show old Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland where the cast wears black-face, yet Cartoon Network won't show Speedy Gonzales cartoons because they are degrading to Hispanics. I'm also amazed that there has never been an uproar over Aunt Jemimah and Uncle Ben, though I don't know the history behind these companies. For all I know the company or companies that produce these products are fully owned and operated by African-Americans.

I have been thinking about another stereotype that has been getting more and more play in recent years, and the people who fit the general image are playing it to the hilt. This stereotype is that of the nerd, the dork, the geek--though I refuse to let anyone call him/herself a geek after learning that a geek in carnival days was the person who bit the heads off of chickens. I learned this through having to read a book called "Geek Love." If you want to read something that is really off the wall try reading that book.

But back to the point. We have been trying for decades to rid the world of stereotypes based on gender, race and culture, but stereotypes based on what a person does in life or their intellectual interests are free game, and that is something I just don't understand. Why is it not okay to "joke" about anything to do with a person's appearance, but it is okay to make fun of other things that can't be controlled, like a person's intellect.

I know I would be considered a nerd, in fact I have actually been called a nerd before, but that ignores the fact that I am also an athlete and a photographer and a klutz. I am many things, I can't be relegated to just one.

I don't know if I just didn't see the discrimination happening around me in high school or if it really wasn't there, but I never had to see the things we have talked about in class in an up-close, personal way. The only discrimination that I ever saw was not based on the social standing of the parents of the students I was in class with. Mostly, the students who got away with the most were the ones whose family had lived in town for several generations, or who had a parent on the school board. One of the two times in my life that I can think of that I was discriminated against had to do with a parent being a school board member.

But even now, at the end of my fourth year out of high school, I've not seen racial discrimination. None of my roommates have ever talked about it and I have never had the nerve to ask, and I know that it's out there, this is no way trying to say that it isn't, it is just saying that I've never had to deal with it personally.

And this is where I'm going to insert a comment that I've had in my head for awhile. I don't think it's an offensive phrase, but if someone thinks it is, just let me know and it can come down. I don't have a problem with people who are pro-African-American--in fact, I support them. What I have a problem with is people who are anti-white. And believe me there is a difference between being pro-African-American and being anti-white. It is very similar to the difference between listening and hearing.

People always talk about how black and white can not overcome their differences and "live together in peace and harmony," but I can honestly say that that is a statement that I find hard to believe. If those people could just learn to live peacefully with those they share space with, they might learn that it takes time to work through differences, but those differences don't have to be discussed at the highest level, they should be first be discussed at the local level. Before a person in Abilene uses gangs in Los Angeles as an example and says that all African Americans are bad, that person should talk to at least one African-American that lives in Abilene to see if their opinion has any merit in the place they are actually living.

I don't fit

The first time I can remember someone trying to put me into one of those easy-to-sort cookie-cutter boxes was kindergarten. When the teacher discovered I had been able to read since before I began my first class, they decided to put me into the "smart kid" group. Yes, I could read; and yes, I loved to read; and yes, I was reading at a grade level beyond what I should have been reading at age 5, but all of that doesn't mean that I should have been put into that mold before I had a chance to learn anything about myself.

I was sent to take the G/T test that summer and apparently passed with flying colors because that was the group that I was put in whenever we had study groups. But even though I liked the trips we took in elementary school with the program, I didn't like the program itself. The people who designed the G/T program, at the time at least, believed that if you were "smart" then you must be creative and have a wonderful imagination and be able to do all kinds of things with your hands. But as I have said, I am not the stereotype. I am not a creative person. I can take photographs that you would not believe, I just have the eye for a certain type of shots, but I cannot create. That's just not me.

This is why I know that people, especially children, should not be labeled as one certain thing; or if you must label a child, label them into as many groups as possible, don't put them into one thing that they cannot get out of.

As I sit here and think about all of the girls and women that I know, I can only think of one that might fit into any of the stereotypes of women that I can think of. She is a beauty pageant winner who is a twirler, but that is as far as the stereotype fits. She wasn't the dumb blonde in high school who got by on her looks and she didn't only compete in beauty pageants. We competed in academic UIL together, she was into golf and tennis, she has graduated from college.

So while I can see how she might be put into the role of the beauty queen contestant, the people who put her in that role need to realize that she is so much more.

I will fully admit that I love cheesy movies from the '80s and early '90s and my favorite has to be "Strictly Ballroom." This is one of the first movies directed by Baz Luhrmann, the director of "Moulin Rouge," and I actually couldn't sit through "Moulin Rouge."

The reason I bring up this movie is that Luhrmann, even when showing the Latinos in the movie as living basically in the slums of New Zealand, is still able to show some respect for the culture of the characters he is representing.

And even though this is one of my favorite movies of all time, I still have problems with the portrayl of women in it. The female lead, Fran, begins the movie as, let's face it, an ugly girl with frizzy hair, huge glasses and acne. As the movie progresses she loses the glasses, her skin clears up and her hair smooths out. As all of these things happen the main male lead, Scott, falls in love with Fran.

I've always seen this as Luhrmann showing that the woman must be physically perfect for the man to fall in love with her. I know some people would say that it's Scott's love that makes Fran become beautiful, but I've never been able to see it that way.

I recently met up with my parents at my grandmother's house and my dad gave me some interesting news. McMurry University recently lost one appeal that they filed with the NCAA and still have one more chance to appeal a decision made by an NCAA committee. The decision being appealed is one that will make McMurry change the mascot that has been a part of its history since the very beginning. It has always been the McMurry Indians, yet the NCAA is trying to change that. The Florida Seminoles have appealed the decision and had it granted, yet McMurry has not.

Now, I don't know any of the specifics of the court case; I only know what the ARN stated in their article, which was that McMurry's portrayal of Native Americans had been found offensive. Actually, it said that the fans at the games had been using imagery that was degrading to Native Americans and the decision might have nothing to do with what the university itself had done.

Now, I come from a high school that uses Indians as its mascot and I can fully understand why the people attending the university are fighting the decision, what do they want the mascot to change to. This mascot is part of the school's history.

Is the NCAA going to make Notre Dame change its mascot from the Fighting Irish because it's perpetuating the stereotype that Irish people are all brawlers? No, the Fighting Irish is such an integral part of the school that there is no way that it will ever be changed.

The same goes for the Aggies at A&M. The Aggie always bears the brunt of the joke and is shown as a dullard, yet the fact that the name is for agriculturists is never brought up in all of the NCAA's dicussions of degrading stereotypes.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

“African-American Males in Advertisements in Primarily African-American Magazines”

Summary of Previous Findings
In study one, African-American men are often represented in ads, but mostly in ads for clothes shoes and accessories. In study two, African-American men were not seen often but they usually played major roles when they were shown.

Summary of the Previous Study
The study conducted by Ainsworth Anthony Bailey was done in two different parts. The first part used ads from two magazines aimed at an African-American audience and the second used two African-American magazines and two “mainstream” magazines. The first part of the study showed that African-American males are often only shown in nonoccupational roles or had limited portrayals in business or work-related settings, and while the second study showed a broader range of products advertised, the settings and roles were still similar.

Most Important Foundation Literature and Its Relation to the Current Study
The most important literature used by Bailey was a combination of two studies. The first was Shuey, King and Griffith’s “Stereotyping of Negroes and Whites: An Analysis of Magazine Pictures” from 1953 which described how African-Americans were portrayed in the .6% of ads they were in. The second was Taylor and Lee’s “Portrayals of African, Hispanic, and Asian Americans in Magazine Advertisements” from 1995 which showed an increase in the number of ads depicting African Americans rising and the role portrayals and products advertised improving. This literature was a basis for Bailey’s study of how African-American men are portrayed in the new genre of magazines directed toward the African-American market.

Corpus and Method
My corpus consists of full-page ads found in the January 2006 issue of Ebony and December 2005 issue of VIBE. This is a quantitative and qualitative content analysis of the number of ads featuring African-American males, the products being advertised and the role the man seems to portray.


The men shown in the VIBE issue studied were advertising one of four things—shoes, clothes, liquor or CDs—with almost no exceptions. They were mostly shown with nothing around them to indicate class, though the products advertised would indicate that the people would have money. Most of the men shown are well-known, successful and respected in their fields. The men in Ebony, on the other hand, were shown advertising cars, the U.S. Navy, and a service offered for cell phone ring tones. The men in these ads appear to be more successful than those in VIBE. The men in VIBE are dressed in what is typically thought of as “hip-hop” fashion whereas those in Ebony are all well dressed. Only one ad in each magazine puts the man in the setting of his job. One is the director of “A Raisin in the Sun” sitting in the middle of an empty theatre and the other is a man who is a law student standing in the middle of a courtroom—oddly enough, this ad is for Honda.

This study fits the previous study pretty much exactly. Though the men in Ebony’s ads were portrayed in more professional and successful ways than in VIBE, the percentage of ads featuring African-American males is almost insignificant in comparison. One difference between this study and the previous one may be the use of all of the full-page ads in the magazines. The previous study does not say if Bailey used ads that did not include people in the design. The portrayal of African-American men in television commercials as compared to print ads might be a study that would be worthwhile to conduct.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A heated discussion

Today in class we talked about racism in how news stories were brought to the public. Before this discussion started we read one article and one op-ed piece that dealt with the Natalee Holloway and Latoyia Figueroa cases, with most of the discussion centering on the op-ed piece. Most of the people in class were talking about the concepts and ideas the author was trying to express and whether or not she was being facetious in the blatant hypocrisies she employed in her writing, and I understood and fully agreed with some of the points brought up in class, but as a copy editor I was looking more at the not-so-obvious discrepancies that appeared. There were little ones, like the use of unwed mother instead of single mother, or saying a woman was an immigrant and later saying she was here legally rather than saying she was a naturalized citizen or using other, not-so-loaded, terminology for her status.

Then there was a less obvious but, to me, more egregious one; this one was how the columnist used the names of the women. After the first reference to Latoyia Figueroa and the Hernandez woman--I'm sorry I don't have the article in front of me so I can't remember her first name--the author only identifies these women by their last names, occasionally with Ms. preceding it. Natalee Holloway, on the other hand, is never referred to by anything other than her full name and Laci Peterson is either referred to as Laci or Laci Peterson. The only time either of these two women is not listed by both names is when the article talks about the Peterson case, which is not so much a reference to her as it is to both her and her husband.

These are just a few of the problems that I found with the way this columnist wrote about this subject.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"We don't make the news, we just report it." This quote was used in the video today, and I just have to comment on it and some other aspects of today's discussion. My hometown has barely more than 3,000 people in it and I received my bachelor's from a college that had just fewer than 7,000 people attending. Both put out weekly papers, and I worked on the paper at ASU so I have some experience with small newspapers. In both places it was very easy to see that there was never really any news; we had to scrape the bottom of the barrell to fill a six page paper in a week. When that is how the paper is being filled, the editors are not just reporting the news, they are making it; because, honestly, who is interested in reading a 300 word article about the show in the planetarium. I wrote it and saw the whole six people who were there for the FREE show. Nobody cared.

Another issue I think should be discussed at some point is how diversity is achieved in the newsroom. The authors touched on newspapers hiring of minorities, mostly in reference to race, using affirmative action. Affirmative action is one of the movements that I think had good intentions behind it initially, but it doesn't always work in the intended way. I'm all for newsrooms being diverse, but I don't think that diversity should be forced above all else. If qualified people apply for positions, then, yes, hire them no matter if they are "black, white or polka-dotted" but don't limit the search to those in a minority group. If you have to go to extreme measures to find a qualified applicant that is part of a minority group, rather than finding a minority who is interested enough to search out your company, then that applicant is probably not who you want working for your media company.

By all means, go to schools with a higher percentage of minorities attending to let them know of job opportunities that they might not know of, but don't JUST go to those schools because you might miss out on a great young writer who is a part of the majority.

Stereotypes. They are seen in everything, but how true are they; should they all be deleted from memory, is it possible to completely get rid of them, or will new just pop up in place of the old ones? Many stereotypes are slowly coming into disuse in the public, but that is never talked about; neither is the fact that some stereotypes are in no way derogatory. All the stereotypes discussed are the ones that are negative and very visible to the public. This needs to change.