GAME OF THRONES: DOMINATE CULTURE AND GENDER

Cultural hegemony is an idea created by Marxism philosophy. It is the idea that there is a dominant culture that influences and has power over the culture of society. When referencing the ideas of cultural hegemony with the show Game of Thrones we have to look at the idea of a dominant group having president over another group. Cultural hegemony is represent in the show through gender and culture.

SPOILERS BELOW

 

 

            It is clear when watching the game of thrones that there is a dominant race, that race being white. All major characters in the show are white and any ethnic characters are slaves, barbarians, whores, cheats, and pirates. My first outrage with this is why all of the powerful characters are white. Is this an example of white privilege?

The idea of this show is that many people believe that they have the right to the iron throne and they battle for it. However why are none of the warriors ethnic? The first show of ethnicity in the show is with the Dothraki culture. The Dothraki are a powerful native clan. Now this could be considered a plus for ethnic cultures because they have a non-white group showing power. However this power does not come from the idea of royalty, riches, or anything else you many descried as power. This power comes from the idea of fear, people fear the Dothraki because they rule with the ideals of rape and murder. They are savage barbarians who believe in men being the dominant gender and women are only useful for sex. This gives the general public the idea that any ethnic group can only represent a barbaric mindset. The show continues to have little roles for ethnic characters.

Three black characters were introduced into the show in the 3rd season two were slaves and one was a high rich noble. Many believed that the black character as a noble would be a great stepping-stone to have successful ethnic character. However that was not the case. The black noble was discovered to be considered an evil character wanting to force Daenerys into marriage and taking over the population with force. The noble now tainted with the idea of being an evil character was killed. I find it surprising that any sort of chance an ethnic non-white character has of gaining a major role is tainted. I first believed that this was a problem with the author of the novel however; he came out with a statement saying that “It is true that we’ve lost several black characters who appear in the novels” (Martin). This brings up the question, is it the media that surprises ethnic characters? If so why? Game of Thrones is just one example of a show that has dominant white characters. The problem is why can there not be a show with dominate ethnic characters?

This Cultural hegemony is not only represented with race and culture but also with gender.

 Many people praise the show for having Daenerys Targaryen as a dominant female character. She is a role model for many women being that she is independent, strong, and determined. Her goal is to revenge her father’s death and gain what is rightfully hers, the iron throne. However, I disagree strongly with the majority’s idea. Before this dominant female character was created she was first very submissive. Daenerys was being used as a pawn to gain an army. Her brother sold her to the Dothraki for the use of marriage. During that period there were many scenes of her being forced to have sex with her husband and also scenes of her nude. During these episodes it is clear that the dominant culture is male. Daenerys was sold by a male (her brother) to a male (Dothraki leader) in order to please a male (have sex). Once her husband died Daenerys’ independent female role came through she ousted her brother and took control of the Dothraki to help her complete her goal. My outrage with the show is that in order for her dominant character to form she has to be represented as submissive first. She has to be raped, sold, and have her breasts displayed on the screen. However, when we discuss the male characters in the show none are put through this. Why can’t we have a dominant female character from the beginning? Why does she have to be nude? This problem is not only with the character Daenerys but with most woman in the show. The majority of female characters in the show have been nude at some point and not only nude but in a whore house working for men.  Media seems to portray females as sexual beings and prizes and that is wrong, again Game of Thrones is just one example and in order to change we need to address this issues with all shows.

 references:

http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Daenerys_Targaryen

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_hegemony

http://www.themarysue.com/grrm-thrones-race/

http://www.racialicious.com/2011/04/19/can-i-just-watch-a-game-of-thrones-in-peace-brown-feminist-fan-rant/

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Is Beauty Always White?

Imagine the first time your heart was broken, the pain and anguish you felt when the love of your life left you. Alone you sat thinking, racking your brain around all the things that could have gone wrong, struggling to find a reason, a reason why he or she left you. You needed a reason because without one you were lost, confused, and hopeless. When out of nowhere a reason pops up and it was not your personality, hair colour, lack of humor, or even your crazy family driving him or her away, but it was the colour of your skin. The pigment forced on you at birth, the pigment that represents your genes and culture, the pigment that determines your self-worth. All that confusion and hopelessness you were feeling before is now replaced by hatred, hatred for the colour of your skin and dreams that you could change it. You need to change it to win him or her back, but what can you do? It’s impossible.  When BAM out pops a magical cream that can change your skin colour, making it lighter and “more attractive”. A cream that can single handedly wash away all of your genes and culture showcased by your skin colour and make a brand new ‘better’ you.

Ridiculous right? Well that is not what the advertising agency of Ponds cream thought when they were creating a commercial (Ponds advertisement). They believed that the fictional scenario I described to you earlier was the perfect way to manipulate and convince viewers that Ponds Cream is desirable. In the ad there is what appears to be a South Asian couple breaking up in an airport, the male is clearly leaving the female and not the other way around.  The ad then goes forward into the future by 3 years when the female from earlier sees her old boyfriend in a magazine with his new girlfriend (who is white). Later in the advertisement the male and female form earlier pass each other on the street, with the males new love on his arm. The South Asian female looks longingly at the couple as they pass. We then see the South Asian female looking at a television screen in a window that is displaying the product, and the tag line is said “new ponds white beauty gives you a radiant pinkish white glow, pale white or pinkish white, ponds, white beauty” (Ponds Commercial). After seeing that ad the South Asian women grabs the necklace that was given to her by her Ex-boyfriend and has a look of determination in her eyes. It is implied that with the knowledge of this new cream, that can help to make her skin whiter she can get he loved one back. The ad ends with “to be continued…” (Ponds Commercial), this is because this commercial is not that only to the story, in fact the company made a whole story using this idea. Without getting into to much detail, the ads all put together make a love story about how the South Asian woman used the Ponds cream to make her skin white and she was able to win her boyfriend back.

Here are all of the ads: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgx6xrc0gBs

 

I have many problems with this advertisement, the main one being how openly racist it is. Of course the ad never clearly states that the only way to be beautiful is if you are white, however the implication is there and visible. It is clear when looking at the first commercial and comparing it to the last, the South Asian woman is a lot lighter and almost white when she wins back her old boyfriend. The message given to viewers is that the only way to be beautiful is if you become white and if you do not then you will lose your man and he will go to a woman that is lighter. What kind of message are we sending to society? Especially when children can access televisions so easily. Simple advertisements like these are going to be the cause of our population taking many steps back and becoming racist again. The reason for that is because children can access the media much easier nowadays, now that the Internet is available. The problem with this is that although some adults can see the problems with these ads, children cannot and they are learning from them.

This is evident in the studies done by Anderson Cooper and Bridgit Vanhoult called Black or White colour chart and Black doll vs. White doll. The first study is done by having two identical dolls beside each other the one difference between them is that one is black and one is white. They gather kids of a wide variety of culture and ethnic groups (black, white, Mexican, etc.) and ask them a series of questions.

1)   Which doll is the black doll?

2)   Which doll is the white doll?

3)   Which doll is the pretty doll? Why?

4)   Which doll is the nice doll? Why?

5)   Which doll is the bad doll? Why?

6)   Which doll do you like to play with? Why?

7)   Which doll looks most like you?

 

We as a society would like to believe that the answer for questions 2-6 would be neither they are both the same. However this study showed that that was not the case. The majority of children when asked which doll was bad and ugly would reply that the black doll was and the reason for that was plane and simple “because it’s black” (Black doll vs. White doll). That was even the majority answer when black children were asked about the dolls. I blame the media for this. The media constantly portrays beauty and niceness with white people in books, movies, tv shows, and advertisements, because of this they have put a stigma on races that are not white and that stigma is not good. There was also a shocking percentage of kids who preferred the white doll to the black, “15 out of 21 children chose the white doll over the black” (Vanhoult). This is very alarming because this could be a representation of picking significant others in the future based off of their skin colour.

Some argued that maybe it was just this study that showed this outcome, so CNN and Anderson Cooper came up with another test. This study again was with a mixture of different races and culture but instead of dolls they used a sheet of paper showing the different colours of race, starting at one end with black and ending with white. The questions they asked were:

1)   What skin colour do you want? Why?

2)   What colours do adults not like? Why?

3)   What colour do adults like? Why?

4)   What colour do you look like?

5)   Which is the ugly child?

6)   Which is the smart child?

7)   What is the good child?

8)   What is the bad child?

 

Some of the answers gathered from the study were:

“I just don’t like the way brown looks because brown looks nasty for some reason

She’s ugly because she’s a lot darker

She’s bad because she’s black black

He’s dumb because he has dark brown skin

He’s the mean child because he’s brown” (CNN)

 

The clear racism is not what breaks my heart in this study, what breaks my heart is the look on the children of colours face’s when they are asked at the end which doll or which picture looks most like them. The sadness that shows on their face when they realize that all the stereotypes they just placed upon the doll (being dumb, ugly, not wanted, etc.) are what stereotypes are on themselves.

You can watch the studies here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-CWKCwrbwc

 

This study alone shows the impact advertisements like Ponds cream makes on children in todays society and if we do not put an end to them and try to show children that beauty, intelligence, and worth fullness are not dependent on ones skin colour. Then society will spiral back into what it was like before, when racism was so open and accepted.

 

 

 

 

 

How Comedy Helps Society

Going to the ReelOut Film Festival to watch the film G.B.F directed by Darren Stein was an experience I am glad I got to enjoy. I would recommend everyone go to the festival no matter the film; being in the building was amazing.  There was this abundant feeling of acceptance and understanding throughout the building, if I went there in pajamas I don’t feel like I would have been judged or given a second glance. Being in an atmosphere like that was very refreshing compared to my hometown and Queen’s University.

Although Queen’s is taking many strides in the right direction we are still stereotyped as a judgmental white dominated school, and sometimes these stereotypes can make people feel uncomfortable and unaccepted.  Being a minority at Queen’s it can some times be overwhelming even though my hometown is a white dominated city, being away from family can sometimes make you feel out numbered.

 

*SPOILER*

 

Relating to the film G.B.F (standing for Gay Best Friend) directed by Darren Stein, I enjoyed it. The film is a comedic representation of a teenager coming out as a homosexual to his high school. The main character Tanner Daniels attended North Gateway High School and was “out-ed” before he was ready to come out, when his fellow schoolmates tracked him using a dating app made for homosexuals. This outing changed his life, instead of being a wallflower; he became the next “object” to win by the three Queen Bee’s at the school; Shlee, Caprice, and Fawcett. Every girl wanted a gay best friend.

 

The film portrays the ridiculous stereotypes placed on homosexuals by society. It successfully does this by using comedy and stereotypes about high school. It references the popularity struggles in high school, and the different social groups. The main idea of the film is that the three Queen Bee’s are struggling to gain the most power/popularity to win prom queen and the only way to do that is to have the next best fad, which in this case is a gay best friend. However once Tanner is “out-ed” the three Queen Bee’s are a little upset that he does not follow the typical stereotypes places on homosexuals.  He does not have impeccable fashion taste, he does not want to have girl chats, and he reads comic books. Their upset was evident when they said, “You’re not like the ones on Bravo…” ones referring to the homosexuals on bravo who depict the stereotypes society places on gays. Stein’s use of exaggerated stereotypes was brilliant, t caused viewers to laugh and then also assess their own perceptions and stereotypes they believed to be true. One that really stuck out to me was when in the movie they stated “we don’t have a real live gay”, at first I laughed along with the audience but then it got me thinking that in fact during high school we had no openly homosexuals. They only came out during the summer of grade 12 year going towards university. That got me thinking, was my high school not accepting enough, were we to judgmental?  If you asked me that question before the movie I would have sworn that we were an accepting high school with a great community but now I have to think long and hard if that was actually the case. Did we not make a safe environment?  Another comedic example that was used to show the unrealistic stereotypes and judgment placed on homosexuals by some portions of society is a quote that my friend showed me from the website wittyprofiles.com.

 

“ I went to subway today to get my favorite. The man in front of me ordered a different sub. I got really pissed because he didn’t get the same thing as me, even though it didn’t affect me in any way.”

 

“This is what people sounf like when they say gay marriage affects them.”

(http://www.wittyprofiles.com/q/6769016)

 

 

 I think the use of comedy and outrageous stereotypes is a great way to make society think and assess situations better because they realize how ridiculous some of them are.

 

An example of a successful use of comedic stereotypes to breakdown barriers and show the general public how stereotypes can hurt people is done by a comedic tour called The Axis of Evil. In the United States of America, axis of evil refers to a act of terror made against the homeland, particularly by Muslims. To show how ridiculous it was to stereotype all Muslims as terrorists and scary human beings comedians Ahmed Ahmed (from Egypt), Maz Jobrani (from Iran), and Aron Kader (whose father is Palestinian) created the tour called Axis of Evil. The goal of this tour was to show the burdens Muslims are faced with because the stereotype of them being terrorist exits, it also was to show that Muslims are people just like everyone else, the laugh, they make jokes, and they are not all evil.  One of the most popular lines in the comedy tour is “As a Middle Eastern male, I know there’s certain things I’m not supposed to say on an airplane in the U.S. I can’t walk down the aisle and be like, ‘Hi, Jack.’ Even if I’m there with my friend Jack, I say, ‘Greetings Jack,’” (Jobrani, Axis of Evil Tour) I feel that this line in his comedy act is a clear show of the breakdown of stereotypes. People listening to this joke laugh because they think how ridiculous it is but then they realize that it is actually true.

 

If you would like to watch some of the jokes and comedy acts they have here is the link: http://blog.ted.com/2012/12/12/a-sampling-of-maz-jobranis-stand-up-sprinkled-with-the-work-of-his-axis-of-evil-comedy-tour-collaborators/

 

I believe the use of comedy in both the movie and in the comedy act of the individuals is the best way to show controversial ideas to the general public because it gets them thinking. 

The Wussification of Men

Society has created cookie cutter descriptions on what it is to be a man and what it is to be a woman. Men are suppose to be masculine; qualities or appearance traditionally associated with men (Oxford Dictionary); they are suppose to be independent, non-emotional, aggressive, competitive, strong, active, self-confident, hard, sexually aggressive, and rebellious. Whereas woman are suppose to be feminine; having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with women (Oxford Dictionary); they are suppose to be dependent, emotional, passive, sensitive, quiet, graceful, innocent, weak, flirtatious, nurturing, self-critical, soft, sexually submissive, and accepting.  But what happens when people want to breakout of those stereotypes, men want to be feminine and woman want to be masculine? Should we stop them? Should we conform them back to what society thinks is right?

According to Nick Adams the author of American Boomerang, he believes that men in general are becoming feminine and that it needs to stop. His beliefs are obvious when he states “men have gone from wrestling crocodile to wrestling lattes, it is a phenomenon that is really dangerous and having an adverse effect on men around the world”  (Nick Adams). He claims that there are just angry woman left in the world and wussy men and all of this is due to feminism. But why is this dangerous? Why are strong independent women considered angry? Why is the idea of gender roles switching such a danger? In Adams’ mind the danger is the mind set change in America.

Adams has an infatuation with American even stating in his book that he “loves America because it is confident, competitive, … and courageous… It is everything as a nation that (he) wish(es) to be a person” (Adams, 2). Is it surprising that the qualities he “loves” about America are those to define masculinity?  Adams’ belief is that with the loss of America’s “masculine” men or more accurately the acceptance of non-traditional men characteristics, the characteristics of the nation are going to change to those of less masculine tendencies and more feminine ones. This in his mind is dangerous because it will leave America venerable, weak, passive, and soft, and will create a national security threat. He states that “Wimps and wussies deliver mediocrity, and men win. And what America’s always been about is winning.” Adams believes that the only way to save America is to teach our boys at a young age to be “manly” men and stay away from the metrosexual characteristics and ideals.

I have many problems when it comes to Adams’ beliefs alone. The first problem with his argument is the stereotype he is placing on men. Adams believes that all men have to be masculine and that without that masculine tendency the nation is threatened. This belief that all men have to be masculine is not only offensive but also wrong. Adams is targeting all men that are not following that stereotype and calling them a threat. Is the fact that my Dad likes to read rather than hunt a threat to our nation? Are men who enjoy dancing and singing over football and hunting a threat to our nation? The last time I checked a man showing that he’s sensitive does not destroy or corrupt a country on the contrary I personal think it makes the country stronger. My other problem with Adams’ beliefs is that he believes feminism is breeding angry women. Why is it okay for men to be independent and strong but women are its considered a threat and a show of anger. The inequalities Adams displays in this article towards girls and guys is prominent when he agrees with the point that girls should be raised as girls and guys should be raised as guys. Who is to define what a girl is and what a guy is?

As I looked more and more into this news cast I began to wonder how Fox news could support such lucrative views and not notice the inequality and stereotyping in Adams statements, and I found research that Fox News actually agrees with Adams and his views. Fox News has on mulitiple occasions talked about the Wussification of America and the top 10 things that need to change.

  1. Firing abusive coaches
  2. Co-ed sports teams
  3. Human Resources
  4. Helmets for youth soccer leagues
  5. Common core math strategies
  6. The possible redskin name change
  7. Paid interships
  8. A police officer who was suspended for cursing
  9. Fines for poor sportsmanship

10. Yoga for children.

(http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/12/23/top-ten-things-fox-decided-will-lead-to-the-wus/197334)

I personally agree with all the items stated above, everything done by society; the firing of abusive coaches, Co-ed sports teams and HR; was not done to “wussy” a nation but was put in place to make a nation more accepting, safer and accessible to everyone.