Duck Dynasty Quack Show

Duck Dynasty is a new reality T.V show that is also currently the #1 reality T.V show. It has been praised by fans for its down to earthness, upholding family values and providing genuine entertainment without the usage of the traditional recipe of materialism, opulence, fame and sex. However, through the intersectional analysis of gender and race I hope to bring to light how ‘hixploitation’ is utilized to reinforce the traditional gender roles and ‘American-dream’ families.

It is extremely prominent on the show, the blatant, stereotyped representation of hillbillies or ‘red-neck’ white individuals. The main cast, the Robertson Brothers are represented as stereotypical rednecks, always shown wearing hunting gear, even around the house in front of the dinner table. The show emphasizes the stereotypes to communicate their down-to-earthness as a backwardness/retardation to highlight the progress more upstanding Americans in the cities or the suburbs have made. To make matters worse, the show reinforces the idea that redneck individual’s poverty lifestyle is a choice, which enables upscale societal members to feel comfortable while laughing at the antics with the hillbillies in the center. Additionally, it pushes some people to embrace the stereotype as a badge of honor.

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What is not evident at all on the show is people of minority. By deliberately shying away from the representation of minority individuals, the show communicates a message that the stereotyping of redneck individuals is not being racist. As stated by Michelle Dean, “ hillbilly stereotypes have always made it easier for middle-class whites to presume that racism is the exclusive province of “that kind” of person. As Ta-Nehisi Coates has written, “It is comforting to think of racism as species of misanthropy, or akin to child molestation, thus exonerating all those who bear no real hatred in their heart. It’s much more troubling to think of it as it’s always been—a means of political organization and power distribution.”

Members of the Robertson Family could be used as a picture definition for the gender roles male and female. The show hyper masculinizes the Robertson brothers to reinforce traditional male roles. You kill things. You eat them. You take care of your family. And you grow a beard. Big beards, reserved for the men. Furthermore, through the representation of females on the show, it destroys generations’ worth of work towards female equality. There is a clear distinction between a man and a woman. The show has only managed to show the wives in their “traditional” habitat, in the kitchen cooking away, in a pedicure salon getting pretty, or the mall shopping. The show utilizes the portrayal of females to communicate a message that females are dependent on male to bring home the food and that the females ‘serve’ their husbands. Additionally, the men spend time with the boys teaching them how to be men. They give them warnings of the dangers that await them in the world, but also encourage them to be distinct in their manhood.  Likewise, the women teach the girls how to grow up and be women. This is utilized to reinforce the show’s portrayal of American Families; a picture of marriage that is between one male and one female. To further reinforce that message the show always ends with the Robertson Family sitting together with the dad sitting at the head of the table, leading the prayer and the family enjoying diner together.

What is completely void in the show is the representation of transgendered/multigendered individuals. By not representing this group the show delivers a message that these individuals are somehow unable to live the ‘rough, outdoor’ lifestyle. This communicates that transgendered individuals are somehow less-able, or too weak to ‘rough-it’ and hunt for their own food; basically unable to sustain themselves without help from others.

In Conclusion, Duck Dynasty may offer some light-hearted entertainment, however individuals without the tools to critically view the show, will fall pretty to the producers intentional and unintentional attempt to reinforce the traditional gender roles and ‘American-dream’ families.

What are your guys’ opinions about ‘hixploitation’? Do you think this might cause stereotypes about Americans or white people in general for people viewing it outside of North America?

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Only White Males Can Be Heroes in Hollywood.

I’m going to talk about an uncomfortable topic that has been bugging me about our society, Western society to be exact. Having been born and raised Seoul, South Korea until I was seven, I grew up watching and idolizing protagonists in films produced mostly by Korean production companies. Perhaps this is what made me more perceptive to this blatant marginalization. I’m talking about the marginalization of male actors of Asian racial background in western pop-culture.

In western media, Asian actors are marginalized to playing roles where they are portrayed as some type of martial arts fighter incapable of having emotional/sexual desires, an antagonist/side-kick, or as an emasculated, geeky, dismissive male. Through the marginalization of Asian actors in western media, white filmmakers and producers and ‘yellow-faced‘ performers are permitted to determine what it means to be Asian.

Korean Movie Industry

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In Hollywood:

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It is rare to see Asian male actors in a protagonist role unless you’re outside western media.  It’s a destructive, biased representation that perpetuates Asian stereotypes in western society.

Mako Iwamatsu, who is mostly-known for his Academy and Golden Globe award nominated role in the movie The Sand Pebbles, recalls a studio executive’s reaction when asked about featuring a non-Asian in the lead of “Kung Fu,” the classic 1970s TV show: “I remember one of the vice presidents — in charge of production, I suppose — who said, ‘If we put a yellow man up on the tube, the audience will turn the switch off in less than five minutes.’ ” Continue reading

Dare To Defend The Usage of Sex in Advertising

“Jovan Musk Oil, introduced in 1971, was promoted with sexual entendre and descriptions of the fragrance’s sexual attraction properties. As a result, Jovane, Inc.’s revenue grew from $1.5 million in 1971 to $77 million by 1978” (Sloan & Millman, 1979)

In a documentary, Killing Us Sofly by Jean Kilbourne, she portrays an endless collection of advertisements that utilizes sexuality in order to sell products. She argues are that “women are consistently turned into a thing – dehumanized” and that ad agencies unwarrently sexualize women for the sake of commerce.

Here are some of the examples of these advertisements: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTlmho_RovY

In spite of all the negative connotations with the usage of sex in advertisements (A recent University of Wisconsin study shows that audiences view ads 10% less favorably if they use sex to sell un-sexy products) the usage on the sex is on the rise (increasing from 15% in 1983 to 27% in 2003).

In spite of the fact that this is a blog for a Gender, Sex and Popular Culture class, I still found the communicated viewpoint on the usage of sex to be a very specific one.

Having been exposed only to what I consider to be extreme ‘right-wing’ views on the usage of sex in advertising; as a business student, I felt the need to at least communicate why businesses utilizes sex and dispel some of the myths and statements commonly made against usage of sex. Before I begin I would like to restate that I am merely attempting to offer some other viewpoints on this issue. Specifically, to explain the usage of sex from a business point of view so that people can view both sides of the coin; by doing so I am not implying that I support all usage of sex in advertising. After all one of the purpose of this course is to invite student inquiry.

One thing that really bugged me from “Killing Us Softly” was when Ms. Kilbourne makes the statement that sex is only used as a selling point, that advertisement is ‘selling sex’ that it’s a cheap tactic to make greater profits.
However, I disagree and frankly found this to be a superfluous statement. To be precise, in marketing, sex is merely a tool to grab an audiences’ attention, it is not what “sells” the product. Martin Lindstrom, a branding expert conducted a seven million dollar study which found that “sex does not sell anything other than itself”. What he was referring to was that at the end of the day sex cannot make up for a bad product. What sex is good at is grabbing a consumer’s attention; it is hardwired in our brain, a primitive INSTINCT. Granted, it is used as a selling tool and it does benefit products that have a correlation with sex (ex: beauty products, alcohol, clothing) but it is NOT solely used as a selling point because the end of the day, a consumer will not continuously buy/pay more for an inferior product just because they have a “sexy ad”.

Furthermore, Ms. Kilbourne talks about the use of only extremely skinny models and models with literally unobtainable beauty. She states satirically that this is the FIRST thing that advertisers do, “surround us with the image of ideal female beauty, so we all learn how important it is for a woman to be beautiful, and exactly what it takes.”

This is truly an unfair statement to make. She communicates that it is not important for a women to be beautiful as advertisers suggest. First, I must make it clear that the ‘ideal female beauty’ used by companies is the view of the vast majority of beholders, collected from various on-site research studies and questionnaires. The significance here is that the ‘ideal female beauty’ is not something created by the advertising industry. Secondly, originating from our primitive stages, we all have an innate idea of what is attractive about women. Is it fair to blame advertisers that we have this idea? Aside from the obvious blame to our hormones;  from the concepts of sex, gender and cultural hegemony, I would say that it is fairer to place the blame on cultural hegemony and more specifically the social institutions and parenting that largely influences an individual’s perception of cultural norms at a young age. Furthermore, contrary to what Ms. Killborne stated, Matrin Lindstrom concluded from his research that “Celebrities and ‘preternaturally beautiful’ people overshadow the message and brand… they add a sense of inauthenticity to the message.” Thus, it is in the interest of businesses to stray from the ‘Barbie-girl types’ and I believe it is becoming more diverse as media becomes more globalized and niche-driven.

The sole, fundamental reason for corporations to ‘live’ is to provide value to its customers in return for payments, which are then distributed to the corporations’ stakeholders (employees, shareholders, taxes to government, etc.) A simpler way to convey my point is that the customer is always the boss; without them a business cannot exist. For that reason I believe that corporations are changing the utilization of sex. I believe that some corporations have already begun to realize that the public view on the usage of sex is changing. More specifically, corporations are starting to adapt to its consumers’ changing view on the utilization of sex in advertisement. Take Dove for example that have begun to use plus sized models in their advertisements and started the Dove Foundation, the Self-Esteem Fund and a ‘Campaign For Real Beauty’.

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Or GAP’s “GAP- BE BRIGHT- BE ONE” Ad, with two homosexual men pressed together under a shared t-shirt. They are hugging each other and facing the camera cheek-to-cheek. “BE ONE” is in large letters which emphasizes the same-sex relationship.
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How do you guys feel about this change of tactic?

Do you agree or disagree with the usage of sex in advertisement and why so?

Do you believe it is fair to blame companies for some of the problems Jane lists such as: violence against women, eating disorders in women?