One of the options you’re given with this assignment is a video by Sut Jhally called “Dreamworlds3…” !). The “Dreamworlds3” video, a 54-minute piece, is item #24 in the list. Some may find this film a bit shocking. It is certainly sobering. Jhally doesn’t just describe but shows the imagery that he is critiquing.
The same parameters apply to this assignment as for Option B, in terms of length, including a cover page, how to cite sources, making sure to use the course materials rather than going outside them, citing sources correctly. One further pointer I would add based on some problems I’ve seen in the submitted assignments is that you should strive to paraphrase as much as possible, rather than cutting and pasting verbatim material from the authors whose writings or videos you’ll be using.
Length: 2 pages, double spaced
What varieties of men and women prevail in this society and this period?
…the individual can understand his [sic] own experience and fate only by
locating himself [sic] within his period…(C. Wright Mills)
We must get the fish to think about the water. (Jhally, The Ad and the Ego
Your sex/gender, your social class and your ethnicity/race are three categories that intersect and have the most profound effects on your biography, self-image and life chances. As well, the mass media and popular culture are powerful socializers and affect your self-image and self-concept as you attempt to conform to their representations of the proper – ideal – self.
Auferheide contends that “images and music are more powerful than text” and, thus, make ads more potent. Music videos are “stories” (Jhally) that represent contemporary masculinity and femininity: do they affect YOUR sense of self, the “proper” self?
Sut Jhally has critiqued the mass media (e.g., advertising) and popular culture (e.g., music videos, wrestling) for several years. As a commentator in The Ad and the Ego and later, in his own production, Advertising and the End of the World, he has argued that we should ask:
What are the consistent stories told by the whole range of advertising –
and which values does advertising address?
Music videos, of course, are essentially ads for a product and, as Aufderheide points out, music is a particularly powerful medium.
Jhally has also directed his attention to gender: “Manhood on the Mat” (2000) critiques the messages inherent in professional wrestling while Tough Guise (video) offers insights into male socialization. An important video is Jhally’s Dreamworlds3: Desire, Sex and Power in Music Video. Here, Jhally asks, “How are we men?” “How are we women?” He also directs our attention to the racism, classism and heterosexism within music videos; the objectification of women (men, too, I would add); and the gendered ‘presentation of self’ (Goffman). Social analysts have expressed concerns about the socializing effects of pornography on young people; Jhally refers to aspects of music videos as pornographic.
The images in ads have been critiqued for some decades – particularly women’s images (men’s images are increasingly standardized, however). Indeed, these images have been linked to an increase in eating disorders and there has been outrage expressed about pro-anorexia web sites. In response, some fashion houses have set weight limits on their models and Dove has instituted new ads – yet, these changes have been found to be ineffective…the audience prefers the conventional cachectic or air-brushed model!
The purpose of this assignment is to provide you with an opportunity to examine how we are shaped by the mass media/popular culture – in this case, ads and/or music videos – and to make you conscious of their representations of the ideal/proper self. The assignment is designed to start to develop your understanding of the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that society ‘gets inside you’, an opportunity to see the general in the particular (and maybe the strange in the familiar) and to perceive the “machinery by which we have been moved” (Berger, Unit I).
Some new analyses are suggesting that there has been a recent, subtle shift in advertising: ads that are ‘plugged in’ to the successful self-esteem movement and have adjusted their message to the “already perfect (and entitled) self.” These ads flatter their audience and promote their products as your entitlement to maintain your ‘perfection’. You may see evidence of this new “pitch” as you analyze your sources.
Carefully read all course materials for Unit V (this includes the Aufderheide guide, to be used in your analysis). Chapter 5 is essential, of course.
If you have specific interests relative to videos or ads, you may wish to look at: Chapter 1 (“Seeing Sociologically: Marginality and Crisis” or Chapter 8: “Date Rape” or “Sexual Orientation” or Chapter 21: “Eating Disorders.”
Google Jhally’s Media Education Foundation (or particular titles [see above]).
View Jhally’s “Dreamworlds: Desire, Sex and Power in Music Videos” (video: available at UofGuelph library, other libraries, Jhally’s internet site) or view at least four (4) music videos or at least ten (10) ads (print, TV, internet). Aa an alternative, you may analyze the lyrics of eight (8) popular songs (attach lyrics). Students have also attached print ads – helpful, but not required.
Write paper that de-constructs – analyzes — the video or videos, ads or lyrics. Your paper should respond to the following questions:
Who ARE you?? (i.e., introduce yourself – the categories you belong to)
How do your sources represent masculinity, femininity? (What is the “proper” self?)
How do your sources represent relationships? What “stories” do they tell? WHOSE stories do they tell?
What norms and/or values do your sources endorse?
Whose ‘fantasies’ are portrayed?
Can you relate to these representations/values/stories? Are they “YOU”? OR – is there a disjunction between the ‘proper self’ portrayed and your ability (or desire) to conform?
6. Conclusions: Effects of pop culture on you, your self-image. What have you learned from this exercise?
Integration of course materials
Substance of response to questions: critique/insights
Recognition of effects of pop culture: subjective
Style (spelling, grammar, clarity, bibliography)
Tough Guise, Dreamworlds3, Advertising and the End of the World and The Ad and the Ego are available at many university and public libraries.
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