Sunday, August 15, 2010

Final Paper- Fat Feminism in Hairspray

Feminism is the idea that all women should have social, political, and intellectual rights just like men. There is a specific movement within the Feminism movement that has been debated for years. How women look in movies, specifically their weight is discussed in Fat Feminism. There are rarely overweight women that have the lead role in movies. Society has an image in their mind that actresses have to be skinny and gorgeous. When in reality more than half of our population is overweight. In the movie Hairspray an overweight teen named Tracy Turnblad defies societies norms so that she can dance on a popular television show. The female body has been critiqued for hundreds of years in our cultural. The overweight feminism movement is bringing awareness to the fact that you don’t have to be skinny to have a lead role in a movie. There are rarely lead roles given to overweight women in the movie industry but when they are they are stereotyped and are harassed by at least one of the skinny characters in the movie.

Hairspray, the movie, came out in 2007 and is a musical comedy film. The main character is a heavy set girl named Tracy Turnblad. All she dreams about is dancing on the 1960’s rock ‘n’ rock Corny Collins Show. In the film there are only two principal “female” roles and they are the two heavy set women. Tracey’s mother, Edna, who is oddly played by John Travolta, is extremely insecure about her weight and has not been outside in over ten years because she is afraid of what the neighbors will say about her. When Tracy’s goes and tells her mom that she wants to try out to be a dancer on the television show her mother shatters her dreams by telling her, “they don’t pick people like us, they will hurt you” (Hairspray) one of the main heavy set characters is played by a man. That is a slap in the face for fat feminism. They fight for overweight women to get roles in movies and when there is a lead role for one they give it to a man that dresses up in a fat suit.

Positive Tracy doesn’t understand why her mother would say that and runs to her room crying. She likes to see the good in people and refuses to see the negative aspects of mankind. Her soft spoken father encourages her to try out for the show and the following day she goes to the television studio. She takes her slim best friend Penny along to watch her. She starts dancing and the pageant winning size zero stage manager goes up to her and says, “your short and stout so were kicking you out” (Hairspray) and pushes her to the door. She was kicked out of the try-outs because of the way she looked and because of society’s standards, “the body- what we eat, how we dress, the daily rituals through which we attend to the body- is a medium of culture” (Bordo 2240) The Stage manager is so concerned about how the teenagers are portrayed on camera that she wants the “perfect” looking girl, not an overweight one dancing on the show. Tracy was crushed but doesn’t let that comment bring her down. Tracy plays the role of the upbeat overweight teen that doesn’t care when people make fun of her. Her character is unrealistic, it doesn’t show her true feelings. Getting picked on everyday for being fat would make anyone cry or angry but she doesn’t show any emotion.

Tracy ran into her crush Link who is the star dancer on the television show and he said that she should come by the studio to show the host her dance moves because she was very good.

Tracy than breaks into song stating that “everyone says a girl that looks like me can’t win his heart” (Hairspray) She is determined to break the stereotype of the heavy girl can’t get the good looking guy, “this heavy weight champion will take the prize” (Hairspray) She is put down numerous times for liking Link and told that “he won’t like me because of what they see but I know hell like the inside of me” (Hairspray). “Fat feminists” focus on women who are discriminated against because of their size. “The body is a powerful symbolic form, a surface on which the central rules, hierarchies and even metaphysical commitments of a culture are inscribed and thus reinforced” (Bordo 2240) Amber judges Tracy so harshly because that is what her mother taught her. Society has looked down against overweight people and has shut them out of opportunities because they are overweight. Throughout the movie Tracy is repeatedly told that she will not get the guy and not dance on television because of the way she looks. She is determined to break the boundaries and open up peoples minds. Just because she is heavier than the other dancers doesn’t mean she isn’t as good, she is better than all of them. Size discrimination should not be taken lightly and it is associated with, and is similar to racism, sexism, and ageism. The characters in this movie takes this topic of size discrimination too lightly because they were consistently picking on Tracy calling her the, “great white whale” (Hairspray) these jokes were not funny but Tracy seemed to brush them off and continue to fight for what she wanted.

Tracy goes to the studio and dances for the host Corny and he likes her so much that he puts her on. Penny runs to tell Tracy’s parents and her mother shouts, “imagine my little girl regular at last!” (Hairspray) Since Tracy is on the show now the ratings have gone up because the audience can relate to her and like that there is a “regular” girl in the show. Tracy is entered to dance for a contest for “Miss Teenage Hairspray”. Her competition is Link’s girlfriend, the wealthy and blonde beauty Amber, who’s mother is the stage manager. When Corny announces live on air that Tracy is in the competition Amber laughs and says, “but you have to vote for a person not one of the Himalayas” (Hairspray) Throughout the movie we see Amber bully Tracy because of her weight. She calls her derogatory names and plays pranks on her just because she is different.

Tracy’s popularity continues to sore with the public and she gets a phone call for the owner of “hefty hideaway” who asks her to be the spokes girl for his store. Tracy is so excited and asks her mother, Edna to be her manager and come with her to the clothing store. Edna quickly shuts down and says, “I don’t want to be seen like this. I will leave the house after my next diet” (Hairspray)

Tracy becomes disappointed in her mother and tries to convince her to embrace her body and to be proud of herself like she is. She finally gets her to go to the shop with her and the manager grabs a plate of donuts and says “here you can have as many as you want”(Hairspray) The store owner dresses both of the up in pink glittery pink dresses and they are feeling great about themselves. Though, “The film luxuriates in the joys of eating (donuts served on a platter at the plus-size women’s clothing store) and dieting is something to escape, not observe.” ( Givhan, Feminist Law) This Store owner is using Tracy and her mother to get business. They are consistently criticized about their weight and he gives them a plate of donuts because that is what he thinks they will enjoy. That store owner stereotyped them and thought nothing of it.

Tracy and her mother run into Amber and her mother. Edna tells Amber’s mother that she is so grateful that she put her on the television show when Amber’s mother says, “she certainly has redefined our standards” (Hairspray) Amber laughs when her mother takes a dig at Tracy and says, “nice outfits, you will certainly stop traffic in that” (Hairspray) Tracy‘s mom has an unhealthy way of thinking about her body. We see her struggle with loving herself and her body the entire time in the movie. She even tried to push her husband away because she thinks that she is too fat even when he tried to tell her she is beautiful and loves the way she looks. She cares more about what society thinks than her own family, she never listens to them when he tell her she looks nice or asks her to go out, she just hides at home. “this describes our contemporary aesthetic ideal for women, an ideal whose obsessive pursuit has become the central torment of many women’s lives” (Bordo 2241) Edna is the perfect example of this. She is at war with herself because of her weight. She doesn’t embrace her body till the very last scene in the movie.

When Amber finds out that her boyfriend has a crush on Tracy she throws in his face, “you could get sponsored by Good Year as her dance partner”. (Hairspray) Link leaves Amber for Tracy and during a song he tells her, “I am in love with you no matter what you weight”(Hairspray). “it makes a powerful statement that even heavier women can get the hot guy, fame, and happiness” (Givhan, Feminist Law)

During the entire movie everything is revolved around Tracy’s weight. She is judged constantly because of how she looks but she didn’t let society’s standards stop her from getting what she wanted. During the last song Tracy was singing about her weight and said, “you cant stop my happiness because I like the way I am” (Hairspray). Also her mother made a special appearance in a little dress and sang out to the crowd, “ if you don’t like the way I look I just don’t give a damn” (Hairspray). At the end of the movie is when we finally see Edna embrace her body and have confidence. She is happy with herself and doesn’t care what society thinks anymore. That is very unrealistic though because everyone struggles with liking the way they look. She just can’t shut off those feelings because they will come back.

Hairspray presents a stereotypical viewpoint throughout the movie of fat feminism. Many interpret this as a feminism movie and the two leading women are overweight. Tracy likes the way she looks and her mother doesn’t so throughout the film we see them struggle with how society views them. Femininity is built and shown differently because of society. Overweight is seen as bad and people are judged because they look different because culture has caused it to be that way.

Works cited
Bordo, Susan. “Unbearable Weight.” 2240-2253. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.
Gilbert, Sandra and Gubar, Susan. "The Madwoman in the Attic." 1926-38.The

Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Givhan, Robin. "July « 2007 « Feminist Law Professors." Feminist Law

Professors. Web. 06 Aug. 2010.

Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: W.

W. Norton &, 2010. Print

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ethnicity in the Color Purple

The Color Purple was a famous novel that was turned into a musical. the story focuses on female black life during the 1930s in Georgia. There are three main themes in the novel. The exceedingly low position in American social culture, racism and sexism. The two main characters lean on each other throughout the novel because both of their men treat them horribly. They find comfort in each other and look for each others support in their abusive relationships. Georgia was a difficult place for African American to live during that time. At one point in the novel that main character hit’s the white mayor back because he slapped her and she was sent to jail for 12 years. Throughout the entire novel women are degraded by men and treated as second-class citizens.

In Bell Hooks “Postmodern Blackness” there were many similarities to the Color Purple. Hooks wrote, the idea that there is no meaningful connection between black experience and critical thinking about aesthetics or must be continually interrogated” (Hooks 2510). Hooks writings stood up for African Americans in a postmodern way. She was very outspoken saying that women should be heard just as much as the men are.
In Langston Hughes “the Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” he stated that “one of the most promising of the young negro poets said to me once I want to be a poet- not a Negro poet” (Hughes, 1190) this relates to the Color Purple because they had tight restrictions on what they could do back then. Then he goes on to say, “I am ashamed for the black poet who says, I want to be a poet, not a Negro poet” (Hughes, 1196) He stresses the importance of a racial consciousness in these quotes just like the novel the Color Purple did.

Works Cited

Hooks, Bell. 2508-2510.The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: W.

W. Norton &, 2010. Print.
Hughes, Langston.1190-1195 The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York:

W. Norton &, 2010. Print.
Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: W.

W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A HUGE part of Feminism Analysis #5

“Fat feminism is a form of feminism that argues overweight women are economically, educationally, socially and physically disadvantaged due to their weight”
It originated in the late 1960’s and has been fighting for their rights ever since this group emerged. There is a new show on television called Huge. Huge follows the lives of seven teens and the staff at a weight-loss camp, as they look beneath the surface to discover their true selves and the truth about each other. This television show advocates size acceptance and shows teenagers that it is okay to look the way you do.

Nikki Blonsky plays a character named Willamina. She is a sardonic and opinionated, she resents being sent to fat camp by her parents. She thinks that "fat camp" teaches campers to hate their bodies, and rather than hate her extra weight, she'd rather embrace it. (ABC) Viewers feel that she is a great role model for this show because she embraces what she has and doesn’t want to change because society doesn’t like the way she looks.
“The body is a powerful symbolic form, a surface on which the central rules, hierarchies and even metaphysical commitments of a culture are inscribed and thus reinforced” (Bordo 2240) People tend to judge people by the way this look and this show is trying to change that. They want people to look on the inside instead of always judging. “Female bodies become docile bodies- bodies whose forces and energies are habituated to external regulation, subjection, transformation, “improvement” (Bordo 2241) Women are always judged by both men and women so their weight is on their mind a lot. The fat feminism group and Huge are a good outlet for women to use when they are worried about what they look like. We need to remember that making ourselves happy and how we feel should be more important than what other people think.

Works Cited

"ABC Family - Huge - Official TV Show Site." ABC Family - Online TV, Videos, and Blogs. It's a New Kind of Family. Web. 09 Aug. 2010.

Bordo, Susan. “Unbearable Weight.” 2240-2253. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: W.
W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Brass Balls Analysis #4

In class we watched a critical scene from the movie Glengarry Glenross. The scene relates closely to the Marxism theory. In this scene Alec Baldwin plays an abusive and authoritarian motivational speaker for a company. He belittles and degrades the three workers in a way that I have never really seen before. One action that surprised me was when his character walked over to his briefcase and pulled out a pair of brass balls and held them at his crotch. He then yelled, “You need brass balls to sell real estate!”. he told them that wouldn’t make it and repeatedly called them degrading names. Alec Baldwin’s character is the voice of the bourgeoisie that we discussed in class. His speech was representative of the superstructure in Marxist theory and the three workers represent the base. The base “the comprehends the relations of production — employer-employee work conditions, the technical division of labour, and property relations — into which people enter to produce the necessities and amenities of life. These relations fundamentally determine society’s other relationships and ideas, constituting the superstructure.” they both relay on each other to work so basically they both need each other to survive.
Alex Baldwin’s character was quick to tell the three men what would happen to them if they did not sell any, “first place is a shiny new Cadillac, second place is a set of steak knives, and third place is you’re fired” (Glengarry). He was blunt and scared these men with losing their jobs over these little note cards. Marx would be “shocked by the examination of capitalism and its costs to the men and women caught in its grasp” (Leitch 647)

works cited

Glengarry Glen Ross. Screenplay by David Mamet. Dir. James Foley. Perf. Alec Baldwin, Al Pacino, and Ed Harris. 1992.

Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Monday, July 26, 2010

"Pay Attention Pulease…I don’t want to call you honey" analysis 3

The founder of psychoanalytic theory was Sigmund Freud. Freud said that there are two parts of the brain, the conscious and unconscious. The conscious is everything that we are aware of. This is the aspect of our mental processing that we can think and talk about rationally. The unconscious is a reservoir of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories that outside of our conscious awareness. In this blog I was being talking about the show called the Real Housewives of New Jersey, specify housewives Theresa and Danielle. They both go against suppressing their unconscious by not reserving their real feelings by lashing out at each other.

The New Jersey Housewives is a drama filled show. There is a new fight every single week. The clip above is one of the most infamous fights that led to the popular saying “Prostitution Whore”. after every fight I have noticed that when the women talk about what happened during that episode they all give different versions of the story. This reminded me of Freud’s Unconscious and Conscious. After this fight happened, Theresa explained that what set her off was three harmless words, “pay attention please” that was said by Danielle. Freud stated that “the aspect of our mental processing that we can think and talk about rationally is our conscious” obviously Theresa was not thinking rationally when Danielle made that silly comment to her. She turned that sentence into something major and said that Danielle was insulting her. She didn’t flip a table when Danielle was cussing at her, only when she told her to pay attention. Danielle’s “slip of the tongue” (15) led to Theresa’s outburst that caused the men at the dinner to hold her back. When Danielle told Theresa to pay attention Theresa said in an interview that “that was totally uncalled for. Who is she God?” in her “fantasy” (15) of what happened Theresa said that was one of the most disrespectful things someone could say. Theresa went against Freud’s, “human reason and put up a precarious defense mechanism struggling against” and was “motivated by the unconscious desires and forces” (807) to flip the table over and try to attack Danielle. This was a fight that happened last season and was continued with a brand new one a few weeks ago.

Again Theresa and Danielle got into it because Danielle didn’t like that Theresa called her “honey”. Theresa’s unconscious side than came blurting out by saying, “I don’t want to call you honey, is bitch better.” that is when things really escalated and Danielle goes running to her Bentley to try to escape Theresa’s crazy rant. In Freud’s, The Interpretation of Dream, he says that “desires and wishes are suppressed through the unconscious.” In this case Theresa’s desires were not suppressed and she went against her conscious by telling Danielle how she really feels about her.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

De-familiarizing Lyrics

Glee Cast : (You're) Having My Baby Lyrics

Having my baby
what a lovely way of saying
How much you love me.
Having my baby
what a lovely way of saying
What you're thinking of me.
I can see it your face is glowing

I can see it in your eyes.
I'm happy knowin' that you're having my baby.
You're the woman I love and I love what it's doin' to you.
Having my baby
you're a woman in love and I love
What's goin' through you.
The need inside you
I see it showin'
the seed inside you
do you feel it growin'
Are you happy in knowin' that you're having my baby?

You're the woman I love and I love
What it's doin' to me.
Having my baby.
You're the woman I love and I love
What's goin' through me.

Didn't have to keep it
wouldn't put you through it.
You could have swept it from your life
But you wouldn't do it
you wouldn't do it.
And you're having my baby.

Group Project

my group did Enlightenment Theory, Formalism and Structuralism. since there was only three of us we each picked a theory to talk about. i picked Structuralism. i made an outline and the subject i focused on was Semiotics and one of the founding fathers, Ferdinand de Saussure. i shared with the class one of his famous quotes, "A sign is the basic unit of language (a given language at a given time). Every language is a complete system of signs". then i showed the diagram of the sign, signified and signifier to the class.

i wrapped up my presentation by showing them a baby Einstein video for them to tell me how it relates to Structuralism.

i found it very easy to work with Katie and Ernesta, they were laid back and we all got the work done and gave input to each others presentations through email. overall i thought we did a great job together!!!