Monday, December 13, 2010

Final Essay

Janette Fletcher
Professor Wexler
English 313---Popular Culture
8 December 2010
Radical Romance Challenges Traditional Romance
            The movie “Knocked Up” has been declared a radical romance with a traditional ending. Moreover, many of today’s popular romantic comedy movies are depicted as radical. Radical is breaking tradition, not the norm, and analytical. That is to say (Wexler), are romantic comedies really that much radical, or do they serve another purpose? Knocked Up has been dissected, and it was determined that it belongs to many categories. Some of these categories include identity, gender, tradition, culture, love, and language. These issues will be discussed throughout the essay as these topics are found in many romantic comedy movies. Knocked Up features two couples who are at the heart of the movie. The traditional couple or “the example”, stars Leslie Mann (Debbie), Paul Rudd (Pete), who are married with two daughters. By tradition, Debbie and Pete argue about family issues and spend less debating about their own freedoms. Instead, Pete gives Debbie matriarchal power by agreeing rather than arguing. Debbie asserts this power through control and making the final decisions. On contrast, Debbie’s sister and companion, Katherine Heigl( Allison) has a one night stand with Seth Rogen (Ben). Allison and Ben break tradition by allowing a few drinks impair their decisions. Language became private when both had a misunderstanding of protection. Language then became universal when friends and family heard of a new baby arriving soon. To go into further detail, two other movies will be used to highlight the radical love that turns traditional. Romantic comedies have blurred the lines between a radical meaning and traditional love.
            Radical romance has many different meanings to writers who have followed this genre of film. Because of its various meanings, only one will serve the purpose for now. Writer Tamar Jeffers McDonald, goes by “formula” for romantic comedies. Throughout Jeffers text, references have been made and the ending result is “Boy meets girl, loses girl, regains girl”. It’s a steady pattern in romantic comedies. Men are judgmental with romantic comedies. Gender has allowed them to put romantic movies in the “chick flick” category. By definition, “…radical romantic comedy is often willing to abandon the emphasis on making sure the couple ends up together, regardless of likelihood, and instead striving to interrogate the ideology of romance” (McDonald 59). Gender and identity play have a major influence through radical romance comedy films. Let’s start with a historical background. The 1970’s was a period where romantic comedies were of the essence. The seventies was a time for free sex, peace, and no war. McDonald writes about the significance of the 1970’s, “…evolution of the feminist, black and gay rights movements, but a number of other events of great social and political consequence” (60). Other movies that have become a study for romantic comedies are Annie Hall; Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail and My Best Friend’s Wedding. Annie Hall is radical in the sense that both Annie and Alvy have an attraction for each other, but think something else when speaking. One scene shows Alvy and Annie forming their true identities. Chris Barker explains the roles of male and female, “Women are more verbal, co-operative and organized then men; men show greater spatial, mathematical and motor skills than women” (286). The language shown on screen clearly depicted sex as the bigger issue among the two. 
            Gender and identity play important roles in romance comedies. There is a belief that this type of genre follows a heterosexual love. Today, romantic comedies still follow this “rule”. I argue that this genre has not been too accepting of showing homosexuals losing someone and getting them back. The popular television show, Will and Grace, has shared the spotlight with series such as LOGO, The L Word, and Queer as Folk. Professor of English at West Virginia University Dennis Allen claims, “Yet, if we concede that a gay romantic ideology might exist in which it was understood that a relationship need not be exclusive or last forever to e considered meaningful, if nonetheless has to be acknowledged that a uniquely gay romantic narrative has yet to emerge in any clear form” (75). Allen supports this by adding that “productions companies find romantic gay films risky, so they would rather led the gay content towards a more heterosexual insight” (75). Gender is an issue when it deals with radical romance comedies. Gender is the difference, the hierarchy of power, and the label. Being labeled anything matters. However, homosexuals love just like heterosexual couples. Its society and the media that control what other people want to see.  Digital media has a profound effect on this. Radical romance is found among these couples because of the formula that defines what is radical. On the other hand, some of the popular shows mentioned above have followed the formula and there is a happy ending. It’s controversial because of people looking through a conservative point of view. Liberals have deemed homosexual love as just love. Love becomes radical because it blurs lines of tradition. Judith Butler argues that, “Drag is not the putting on of any gender that belongs properly to some other group i.e. an act of expropriation or approbation that assumes that gender is the rightful property of sex that “masculine” belongs to male and “feminine” belongs to female” (722). Gender relates to radical romance definition of self-reflexivity. Self- reflexivity is how a person sees themselves in comparison to the world. Displaying homosexual radical romance has been an issue as many argue that love is defined by the couple, not culture.
            When referring to movies that have been linked to the radical romance genre, Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail seem to be popular amongst the genre. Both of these movies star Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan communicate through use of human interacting and the internet. While digital meaning is shown in You’ve Got Mail, Ryan and Hanks do not solely rely on technology for romance. In Sleepless in Seattle, Tom is a widower who’s a single parent. Meg works for a magazine, and already has a relationship. However, this movie becomes radial because Meg chases Tom. So now, the roles have reversed. Meg role takes on the masculine form, and Tom becomes “the good wife”, who nurtures and is home-centered” (Diana Meechan, 307). Trying to find a common connection, they go their separate ways. The radical part turns traditional when Meg, Tom, and his son all become a family. In You’ve Got Mail, Meg and Tom meet on the internet. Constantly engaging over the internet, the two find common grounds. On the contrast, the two develop self- reflexivity and cannot stand the presence of each other. Michael R. Meadows describes how fake identities brought two enemies together, “…she falls in love with his cyber alterego” (NY152). Joe (Tom) is NY152 and Kathleen (Meg) is Shopgirl. Meadow’s has called Got Mail, “Battle of the Sexes”. This movie also deals with the use of language and hierarchy of power. Language is important because it radically becomes privatized when the two are not aware they are falling for each other. Kathleen and Joe becomes a couple despite their differences. Meadow’s describes how they became a couple, “For Kathleen, the obstacles she must overcome involve giving up her store and forgiving Joe and Fox Books for putting her out of business” (206). In addition, Meadow’s discusses his reasoning the importance if digital media, “Avoiding the negative commentary that often accompanies films in which people date via non-traditional means, You’ve Got Mail views on-line romances as a legitimate means to find someone special” (210).
            In the next set of paragraphs, three movies will be dissected as they relate to radical comedies that turn traditional. These movies include The Time Traveler’s Wife, Just Like Heaven, and Wedding Crashers.
            The Time Traveler’s Wife stars Eric Bana (Henry, the traveler) and Rachel McAdams (Claire). The two meet in a very untraditional. Henry has been able to time travel since he was a little boy. This was also at a time when his mom would become a distant memory due to a car accident. Claire was also a little girl Henry met that would soon become his wife. Their romance continues as Henry and Claire both deal with Henry’s uncontrollable time travels. When she does meet him years later, she’s in college and his memory doesn’t know a Claire. Instead of Claire using digital technology to communicate, she wrote in a diary. A real love did exist. When others thought Claire was crazy, she knew Henry existed. Masculine and feminine roles were present throughout the movie. The images of women portrayed were desexualized because the main focus was love. However, Claire does portray the good wife (Barker). It’s radically defined throughout the film, because Claire and Henry’s love is interrupted when he time travels. But, this film is traditional because it allows the audience to nurture long lasting love. The way they met each other was not traditional but, traditionally there was a marriage and their daughter was born. Sadly, the movie ends, when Henry time travels sends him to be the mistaken identity of a deer being hunted. The ending doesn’t end as Claire and their daughter wait for Henry’s return.
Both Claire and Henry displayed traditional female and masculine roles.
  The next film to be discussed is Just Like Heaven. This film stars Reese Witherspoon (Elizabeth) and Mark Ruffalo (David). David’s character can be identified with Tom Hank’s character in Sleepless in Seattle.  David lost his wife due to a medical problem. Sadly, he falls into depression and finds it hard to move forward. He also stops his career as being a landscaper. Elizabeth is a workaholic at a hospital. She supports short term life support and she is fighting to be the lead doctor.  Abby, Elizabeth’s sister sets her up on a blind date. But, Elizabeth gets into an accident, which forces her into a coma. The guy she was supposed to meet was David. Instead, the film doesn’t let the audience know that until the end. David rents an apartment which happens to be Elizabeth. Elizabeth spirit is caught between the living and the dead. So, the story unfolds, as David believes he is seeing things. They develop a common interest. This film follows the boy meets girl, loses girl, regains girl. Stuart Voytilla and Scott Petri suggest space makes the heart grow fonder, “Distance in romantic comedies can be seen from different levels and perspectives” (98). Physically, they could not touch each other, so using other senses replaced a touch. In contrast, to Knocked Up, Allison and Ben worked for the most part. When they did spend time apart, both had to put their differences aside for a baby. Just Like Heaven ended in the traditional way that Elizabeth and David became an official couple in love. Films that suggest a radical plot and ending have been seen as creating traditional themes. And although Elizabeth forgets David’s identity, her self- reflexivity reminds her of the past.
            The last film that will be discussed is Wedding Crashers. Wedding Crashers demeans women, and supports the double standard notion. Barker quotes Hall when revealing how women are viewed in the media, “Stereotyping reduces, essentializes, naturalizes and fixes “difference” (Hall, 1997c:258). There are a few stereotypes of women that are included in this film. However, the focus of Owen Wilson (John) and Vince Vaughn (Jeremy) crashing weddings to sleep with women is viewed as humor. Although, this movie is a combination of a sex comedy and radical romance, there are still traditions. The movie starts off with two best friends who have imaginary identities and real identities. They have real jobs, but in their spare time, the joy of lying to women in exchange for sex is more enjoyable. The movie continues to unfold as we notice there’s a slight chance in plans. The one wedding they crash will be the last they share. It’s the US Secretary of Treasury William Clearly (Christopher Walken) eldest daughter wedding. The movie also stars Rachel McAdams (Claire) and Isla Fisher (Gloria). Later on in the film, John finds an interest in Claire, William Cleary’s other daughter. But, Claire is almost hitched to Zack (Bradley Cooper). Claire breaks off her traditional engagement and chases the bad boy (John). On the contrary, Jeremy’s plan of having sex with Gloria and leaving her didn’t go as planned. Instead, she became the “siren” (Barker 308). She tells guys she is a virgin when she’s not. Claire is seen as the “decoy” (Barker 307). Wedding Crashers ends when John, Jeremy, Claire, and Gloria all fall for each other. Jeremy and Gloria get married despite the bet him and John made. Claire left Zack, and fell in love with John.
            Women roles were seen as being subordinated to men. This deals with gender because most romantic comedies end with the man getting the girl, losing her, and getting her back. More depth shows that filmmakers do not do a good job at positioning a woman to be in a matriarchal position. Instead, romantic comedies keep tradition by making the women superior to men. This raises the question of whether, radical romance films are made through the lenses by way of patriarchal society. Would the effect be the same, if the roles switched? After all, it was Judith Butler that suggests, “Being feminine or being masculine has no clear definition”. It is culture that suggests this way of thinking and keeps this tradition vibrant in future movies. According to Simone de Beauvoir, she suggests, “And even today woman is heavily handicapped, though her situation is beginning to change. Almost everywhere is her legal status the same as men’s and frequently it is much to her disadvantage” (5). Beauvoir also a point out that double-standard rule is still in effect today. Much of this can be experienced, read, or seen throughout one’s life. Men and women are not equal when it comes to pay, promotions, jobs, education, or opportunities.
I confer that the ideology rests that women are superior to men unless women are given an opportunity to share the same scale as men.
            Romance comedies give the illusion of marriages through use of storyline. Heather Gilmour writes about one of the characteristics, “Not only is verbal conflict viewed as healthy but it is a reliable sign that the man and woman are meant for one another” (29). While some romantic comedies start the characters off as friends, this genre also suggests that love will be the ultimate ending.

Works Cited
Allen, Dennis. “Why Things Don’t Add Up in “The Sum of Us”: Sexuality and Genre Crossed in
            the Romantic Comedy.” Narrative 7:1 (1999): 71-88. JSTOR. Web. 6 Dec 2010
Barker, Chris. Cultural Studies Theory & Practice. London: Sage Publications, 2008. Print.
Beauvoir, Simone de. “Introduction Woman as Other.” 1949. Reading
Gilmour, Heather. “Different, Except in a Different Way: Marriage, Divorce, and Gender In the
Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage.” Journal of Film and Video 50:2 (1998): 26-39. JSTOR. Web. 6 Dec 2010
McDonald, Tamar Jeffers. Romantic Comedy Boy Meets Girl Meets Genre. London: Wallflower
Press, 2007. Print.
Meadows, Michael R. Re-Imaging Masculinity in the Nineties: Hollywood Movies and Genre.
Diss. Wayne State University, 2000. Detroit, Michigan. Print.
Voytilla, Stuart, Scott Petri. Writing the Comedy Film. Studio City, CA: Michael Wiese
Productions, 2003. Print.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Guess What???? I have NO facebook!!!

I've thought about getting one, but it's only because it's the hottest thing of the season. Not really. On a personal note...I just don't want one and I already have an account with I don't check that one. Call me old school....( I promise, i'm under 30years), but MySpace wasn't that hot when I started the account. I actually "DELETED" my first account. I guess once you agree to the terms, you really do agree to the terms. I started one in high school, but everybody I knew on MySpace called me on my phone or text me. I thought it was hilarious when my roommates FIRST looked my name up on Facebook. I guess since everyone and their mothers have one, I should have one also. There's so many. Why does someone need to know every minute of your life? When you're looking for roommates, the housing has a way for a person to look up potential roommates. I'm not hating on Facebook. I just don't understand why digital media replaces a simple conversation between human beings. Technology has made a way for people to never really be present if they really don't have to be. Telephones have now come equipped with applications that also support social networks. I try understanding the social network system, but i prefer to make human interaction. And for those who really benefit from social network, I parade them.

Facebook Addiction-Funny
Uploaded by wdc4. - See more comedy videos.

Living in a digital world_ Chapter 12

I liked how this chapter relates to how digital media has taken over. I feel like we live in a world where digital media has replaced simple human interaction. I want to relate this chapter to the group. That's now being replaced by Facebook, which is being replaced by Twitter. The next popular one seems to be Skype. I also want to make reference to Barker quote, "the majority of non-western nations and nearly 97 percent of the world's population remain unconnected to the net for lack of money, access or knowledge" (Trend, 2005:2). This statement is true in the fact that that everyone assumes technology is widely avaliable even in poorer areas. Then the chapter unfolds into cyberspace and identity. Cyberspace allows a person to create their own inner image. Critics say, sex is not always determined but it could be determined if the designers of the game wanted that. And guess what, blogs are also very important in the digital culture. Blogs remind me of a diary online. While it's imformative to know about a person's opinion, can a personal opinion really be judged? There are good sides to the internet and there are bad sides. Personally, I think the internet should be more controlled in te sense of someone finding personal information. I know that won't happen, due to hackers and the government. In addition, cell phone companies invade our privacy everyday. It's a wonder, do we really live in a free world? Of course not. Basic human interaction is replaced when cell phone companies encourage their customers to buy a phone with all the apps. It was a hard decision for me when I renewed my phone and contract. Most of Tmobile's up to date phones were equipped with Microsoft, 4G, and/or apps. Call me old school, but I still believe in a regular phone call. I'm not even a fan of texting. But, I do know my 15 year old twin sisters will one day be digitized by culture.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fiske_Television Culture and Seinfeld

John Fiske has a strong emphasis on codes, and how ideologies are based on codes. He points out a particular show, Hart to Hart, and dissects every angle. Some angles he constantly refers to are the hero/ine, villian/ess, class, gender, camera work, editing, make-up, and dialogue. Fiske points out the way class and gender play a role in creating its own code. He analyzes how both the hero and villain are dominant in the way they both want their partners to be lavished in jewels. Jewels is a code for class and luxury. Although both the heroine and villainess seem confident, they allow the male to have the final decision. Patriarchal roles intersect ideology codes when the women are depicted as seeming lost without a male influence. Throughout the excerpt, Fiske point out ideologies that surround the show. Many of these ideologies are formed based on the show itself. In addition, he discusses power and the patriarch society, which is also noted in Chris Barker's book, "Cultural Studies". Fiske definition of code is defined as, "rule-governed system of signs, whose rules and conventions are shared amongst members of a culture, and which is used to generate and circulate meanings in and for that culture". This holds true throughout the excerpt Fiske argues. Fiske claims could also true for the show Seinfeld. Bare with me...I do not watch Seinfeld. But, from the clip, we saw in class, Seinfeld seemed to follow television codes. The main characters were dressed in a way that fits their individual personalities. The music is already programmed to let the audience focus on "ECU's "or "extreme close ups" or "Jerry's stand up comedian part" is about to show.

Seinfeld does represent a real world. It would be hard to classify this show as an imaginary world. From what I heard in class, they all have a mutual friendship. The show depicts radical romance because there's always a window opened up for Jerry and Elaine because of their previous past history. In addition, she's the Only girl of the four. To an audience, Elaine role is already criticized because of double-standardness. We also discussed the use of language. In reference to Seinfeld, language is private among the four because the four create their own slang. However, their language changes when they communicate with the outside world. Therefore, we all experience language within the public and privatize language as well. Going back to Fiske's excerpt, television does influence culture and our ideologies. If it didn't why are people still saying coined phrases from Seinfeld?

John Fiske. Television Culture.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Space and Place_ Chapter 12

This chapter talked about space and place. The book used examples of a home to illustrate how different rooms have different meanings. It is true that many rooms in a home do have different meanings. Not everyone believes a living room should be occupied with people. Barker then goes into discussion of “gendered space”. Some places seem to take on a masculine identity while other places have feminine identity. Why these traditional roles still hold true in today’s time is a mystery. Women should cook and men should play football. Barker also writes, “Space is a construction and material manifestation of social relations which reveals cultural assumptions and practices” (379).  In my opinion, people make choices based on where they live.  Sometimes, a city location is symbolic within itself. In other words, some places just have meaning. I would like to say that Los Angeles is symbolic for its fast pace of life. That’s one reason why some people come to Los Angeles and to see Hollywood. In addition to that, the chapter talks about “privatizing public space” (389). We do this every day without even realizing it. Meeting at coffee shops or dinner at an airport is classic examples of this. The last part Barker discusses is technology. Technology is all around us and it’s something we cannot live without. This topic is brought up a lot because people are being replaced by machines, and the Internet. However, let’s get real. Technology is not always a plus, and a human being is needed in certain situations.

Chris Barker. Cultural Studies. Third Edition. Sage Publications. 2008

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Response Paper

                                                                                                                        Janette Fletcher
                                                                                                                        Professor Wexler
                                                                                                                        October 27, 2010
It’s More Than Sex
            Sex comedies mean what they mean. While there is an emphasis on how man and women want sex, there’s also another meaning that’s hidden. As I was reading the “Romantic Comedy” by Tamar Jeffers McDonald, I looked for meaning to understand why it seemed women for the most part wanted to wait until marriage to have sex. “The sex comedy pits woman against man in an elemental battle wits, in which the goal of both is sex. Only the timing and legitimacy of this differs from gender to gender, with women wanting sex after, and men before or without, marriage” (McDonald, 38). I wasn’t born in the sixties or seventies but we did talk about it in class. This was the period of Sexual Revolution. What doesn’t get shed light on is the ending of these movies. Most sexual comedies have a narrative that focuses on sex, but there’s also that couple (s) who actually have a relationship. Media, however, doesn’t do the best job letting the audiences know that upfront. Instead people are portrayed as looking to have that moment of satisfaction. Evidence that supports this is a movie I thought fit perfectly. Wedding Crashers. It stars Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Isla Fisher, and Rachel McAdams. While the movie introduces two funny and charming guys, it gets down to the dirty deed. John Beckwith (Owen) and Jeremy (Vince) crash weddings to get laid. While this excuse is already lame within itself, the movie leads to one wedding that turns into real love in the movie. The guys go on their merry lives and lie to women to get them in the bed. Of course, the women fall for the excuse, right. Eventually, the guys want something a little more edgy. They crash Rachel’s father, US Secretary of Treasury, wedding. By mistake, they end up spending time with the entire family. Eventually, eyes lock between John and Claire (Adams). A relationship actually happens; not just for them but also Gloria (Fisher) and Jeremy. Sex comedies portray media representations of stereotypes in movies.
            Images of women in (Wedding Crashers) show women as the harpy and the good wife (Chris Barker, 307-308). Barker claims, “A stereotype involves the reduction of persons to a set of exaggerated, usually negative, character traits” (307). While stereotypes can be offensive, some can also be true. The sex comedies have a habit of showing women as sexual creatures. And there is that double standard that still holds true to this day. Women are called a “bitch” for speaking too much whereas guys are called “sluts”, and that’s almost impossible to be called that. My point is that sexual comedies influence these stereotypes by portraying them in media. How we see these stereotypes in movies, versus reading about them in a book affects its audiences in different ways. The intent of the sexual comedies is meant to take favor of men having sex but not women. In McDonald’s book, she talks about things that influenced this period of the sexual comedy. One of them mentioned was Alfred Kinsey’s “Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female”. The American image of women staying virgins till marriage in the 60’s was a big issue. “It was shocking to the world to know that women have had premarital sex” (41). They also mention the magazine Playboy. Playboy is an example of a representation that is catching to men eyes, but it makes women look sex crazed. Till this day, women still pose completely naked, but men show only the chest. Why doesn’t a medium depict men this way? One last event that sparked attention was The Moon is Blue. It was a movie that showed a woman who openly talked about her sexual history. It was something big because it “was the first movie to mention “virgin” (42).
            This relates to the movie, Wedding Crashers, because it does explore sex as “disguise and masquerade and hierarchy of knowledge” (45). One example of this is John and Jeremy; has an alibi with every girl. John told Claire that he was working for the environment, which was a lie. She believed him, fell for him, and later found out the truth. It follows the boy meets girl, gets girl, loses girl, and regains girl criteria. On the contrast, Jeremy tells Gloria his lie, but then she lies about being a virgin, so they both got played. She would be considered the bitch (Barker). I would just call her playful, because that word has such a negative connotation meaning. Hence, Jeremy and Gloria get hitched and John gets his girl in the end. It’s considered hierarchy of knowledge because we all know what’s going to happen. The player eventually finds that one girl that makes him choose a different path. Jeremy and John were going to move on to the next wedding but love caught them first. Gallagher describes representations of women in media, “demeaning, damaging and unrealistic” (310). And it’s true. They still do not have many roles that depict women the way they really are. While Wedding Crashers was funny, it downplayed the guys’ behavior as normal, but the women were shown in a negative light. For the women that got laid, they were helpless, clingy, and dingy. For Claire and Gloria, they were two simple minded sisters from Salt Lake City who actually got a commitment over sex.

Works Cited
Chris Barker. Cultural Studies Theory and Practice. Third Edition
Tamar Jeffers McDonald. Romantic Comedy. Boy Meets Girl Meets Genre.

Television and Text

Televsion affects more people than any other medium. It shapes how we perceive things. Most people get information through television. "Though we are currently witnessing the rise of new digital media, television remains the most widely accesible mass media"(Barker, 315). He breaks down how television is interpreted. One of the topics he talks about is what is considered news. "What is news" is talked about in journalism classes. They get straight to the point. For example, the news is straight to the point. Some stories have more air time, while others are cut short. Lately, it's been about the Nov. 2nd vote. Who's going to be governor? Barker then talks about television using soap operas as another example. Soap operas have a certain criteria in which they fit in. The story line and the location all play a part. We also watched the movie, "Team America" World Police. I haven't seen in so long, but the story line involved a re-enactment of Bin Laden and terriost attacks. While this movie was funny, it also depicted images of reality. But this movie ties to Chapter 10 because it deals with how someone could interpret terriost attacks versus seeing images on youtube.

Chris Barker. Cultural Studies Theory and Practice. Third Edition. Chapter 10.