Tagged: representation

Visual Culture, Identity & Representations in the Media

Media representation of tattooed individual tend to be limited to dangerous machismo and “otherness”, outlaws and outcasts.

Here are some examples:

Vern Schillinger in HBO TV series Oz (1997-2003) – Aryan brotherhood crime syndicate

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That ’70s Show: Season 3, Episode 22: Eric’s Drunken Tattoo (2001)
The bookish character of Eric get’s a tattoo to prove how masculine and dangerous he is

Psychotic criminal Max in Cape Fear (1991) – classic representation of “other”, machismo and danger

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) represents both outlaw and outcast with her behaviour, her style and her tattoos

Reference

Beeler, Karin E. Tattoos, Desire and Violence: Marks of Resistance in Literature, Film and Television. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006. Print.

Visual Culture, Identity & Expressions of Subculture Association

Tattooing was introduced to Western culture the 18th century through Captain Cook and his tales of polynesia and the tatau.  Tattooing was then transformed into a visual culture practice for sailors that went to exotic places or eccentric arististocrats who could afford to have someone reproduce this quaint cultural practise as part of their fetish obsessions  the ‘other’  and with orientalism.

By the 20th century, the invention of the electric tattoo gun and the production of tattoo art as ‘flash’ made tattooing accessible to the working classes and less unique. Consequently the practice fell out of favour with the elite as it became popular among military servicemen, the lower, working classes and their so-called “low” culture like tattooed circus sideshow ladies.

Tattooing became more “fragmented” in the 1960’s and the practice was appropriated among subcultures such as bikers, prison convicts, punks and the gay/leather subcultures to create marks of identity. Today. although popularity has resurged among the middle class, the act of getting a tattoo is still connected with deviance and resistance to the mainstream, which in itself can mark a body as different “other”  which is part of identity. In addition to this however, there are specific symbols that are chosen to mark one’s identity within a specific group or a desired association with that group.

Here are some examples:

Lebian

West Coast Gang Affiliation

 

Russian Mafia

Neo-paganism

Hardcore Scene

BDSM

Straight edge

My references and excellent reading about tattooing history and representation:

Beeler, Karin E. Tattoos, Desire and Violence: Marks of Resistance in Literature, Film and Television. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006. Print.

DeMello, Margo. Bodies of Inscription: A Cultural History of the Modern Tattoo Community. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2000. Print.

Hemingson, Vince, and Lars Krutak PhD. “Tattoo History – History of Tattoos and Tattooing Worldwide.” Tattoo History – History of Tattoos and Tattooing Worldwide. Vanishingtattoo.com, 1999-2010. Web.

Hesselt, Van Dinter, Maarten. The World of Tattoo: An Illustrated History. Amsterdam: Kit, 2005. Print

Mifflin, Margot. Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo. New York: Juno, 2001. Print.

Representation and SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification)


I find I am quite exasperated reading academic work on gender or sexual representation.

There is much discussion about male and female representation in medial culture, in addition to homosexuality or heterosexuality. Everything in neat binary categories.

One category if you have certain chromosomes, a penis and testes and another if you don’t. One category if you are attracted to the same sex and another if you’re not.

And all the while lamenting on the ‘marginalized’ of society and how communication and cultural studies should seek to emancipate individuals from oppression.

Isn’t this a little hypocritical when in reality there is an entire spectrum of sexualities and genders that are not being acknowledged in academic discourse? isn’t that oppressive?

Indeed even the language used in such discussions “opposite-sex attraction” implies a binary.

When we are born we are defined as ‘boy’ or a ‘girl’ on our government paperwork that will be used for the rest of our life.

When we are in public spaces, we have to make a decision on whether it is more acceptable to use the ‘men’s’ toilet or the ‘women’s’

When we are given forms  we are asked to tick one of TWO boxes: M or F.

When we are in social situations, if we are not attracted to a member of what could be perceived as the ‘opposite-sex’, it will be assumed that there is only one alternative.

It is endless…

Media culture representation discourse focuses on men or women, gay or straight and discusses the aetiology of these artificial social constructs, but not the continuum of alternative possibilities.

Gender has nothing to do with binary categories or medical dictionary definitions and sexuality is far more complex than just “who “you are attracted to, or if indeed you are attracted to anyone at all.

Our society needs some additional constructing apparently, because the limited binary role models we currently have are not adequate or inclusive.

Who we are, who we identify as, is affected by our biology, and our environment. Our gender and sexuality reflect the complexities of these relationships that two simple categories do not adequately encompass.

Fotoshop by Adobé by Jesse Rosten (2011)

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Filmmaker Jesse Rosten has created a great satire on the common beauty ad with funny one-liners like: “Just one application of Fotoshop can give you results so dramatic they’re almost unrealistic” and “Brighten eyes, whiten teeth, even adjust your race!” – check it out on Vimeo

Counter-stereotype Women in Media

Political & Celebrity Public Figures:

  • Sandra Oh
  • Margaret Cho
  • Jenny Shimizu
  • Aung San Suu Kyi
  • Lucy Liu
  • Fann Wong
  • Aishwarya Rai (Bachchan)
  • Sheetal Sheth
  • Gong Li
  • Kelly Hu
  • Shu Qi
  • Devon Aoki
  • Grace Park
  • Joan Chen
  • Lynn Chen
  • Karin Anna Cheung
  • Kieu Chinh
  • Tamlyn Tomita
  • Jessica Yu
  • Michelle Krusiec
  • Hiep Thi Le
  • Lisa Ling
  • Marie Matiko
  • Ming-Na (Wen-Zee)
  • SuChin Pak
  • Chandra Wilson
  • Michaëlle Jean
  • Dana Owens (Queen Latifah)
  • Naomi Campbell
  • Iimaan Maxamed Cabdulmajiid (Imam)
  • Pam Grier
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
  • Tyra Banks (?)
  • Carol Diann Johnson (Diahann Carroll)
  • Whoopi Goldberg
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Halle Berry
  • Michelle Obama
  • Jada Koren Pinkett Smith
  • Maya Rudolph
  • Shanaze Reade
  • Raven-Symoné
  • Roasario Dawson
  • Nikki Blonsky
  • Rachel Ray
  • Suzy Chaffee
  • Natalie Portman
  • Emma Watson
  • Keira Knightley
  • Lisa LaFlamme
  • Claire Martin
  • Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (Lady Gaga)
  • Ellen Degenres
  • Nikki Yanofsky
  • Adele Laurie Blue Adkins (ADELE)
  • Alecia Beth Moore (Pink)
  • Mariska Hargitay
  • Angelina Jolie
  • Wendy Mesley
  • Mary Walsh
  • K D Lang

Behind the scenes:

  • Joan Sauers (script editor)
  • Deepa Mehta (film director)
  • Temple Grandin (author)
  • Lubna Hussein (journalist)
  • Wajeha al-Hawaidar (author)

0ther suggestions:

  • bell hooks
  • Arundati Roy
  • Lisa Nakamura
  • Sherene Razack
  • Sunera Thobani
  • Sook-Yin Lee
  • Alice Dreger
  • Lera Borditsky
  • Sonya JF Barnett
  • Heather Jarvis
  • Faith Gemmill
  • Monica Vela