For my post today, I focused on the Gate’s reading about the Real Housewives of Atlanta and also my final project topic: sexism and female athletes. These ideas combined with the key word “affect” led me to find media for my project that helps combine these ideas and touch on the sexism found within the media today.
I clipped together photos of Serena Williams playing tennis, quotes from sport casters about her appearance, and finally a video of a Nike campaign of Serena and what it means to be a woman. I believe that paired together they help point out the issue our society has with strong and powerful women. I added in background music, because it starts soft and starts to build as I get to the ending and most poignant part of the video. This Nike campaign is fighting the stereotypes about female athletes, and I believe that Serena is the best face of the campaign because of her race, gender, and soaring success in her sport.
In the Gates reading, he analyzes the Real Housewives of Atlanta and reality TV in general and how it is perceived by the audience. This particular show was an extension of the Real Housewives series, however, this was the first with a predominantly black cast. Typically, these shows star rich and privileged white women who are seen as simpletons and do not discuss any opinions about important topics within society. These typically white women fit the mold of the typical “woman” that media has created, and dim witted pretty woman lacking a sense of what is truly important in society. When the Atlanta show was introduced, it began to rub people the wrong way and received large amount of negative press in the media. The most famous, or maybe more fitting infamous NeNe Leakes, quickly became a controversial character within the show. Leakes is a outspoken, confident, and self-proclaimed “realist” that tells it like it is. Society is not used to viewing women that strongly voice their opinions about everything, quite like Leakes does. Much of the negativity in the media talked about Leakes personality on the show. Most of these comments centered around the women’s femininity, speech patterns, and mannerisms. Each of these comments is saying that these women, namely Leakes, are too manly, too outspoken, or too garish. However, if this were a show about males, this would not be unusual for viewers. It is these molds that must start to be broken because of the affect it can have on society. The production of this show is good because it puts confident black women at the center of a television show for younger women to look up to and normalize the idea of a confident women. However, we must re-contextualize it so that viewers do not see it as uncomfortable or negative. These affects can be changed by changing the discourse that surrounds women like Serena Williams and NeNe Leakes. We should not be commenting on their femininity or their mannerisms, but their intellect and positive qualities. Also, because this is so called reality TV, viewer see an often negative portrayal of black people because the show is inherently meant to be more straight forward rather than a representation.
Also, Gates discusses the affect that reality TV can have socially. Gates wants to get away from media as strictly negative or positive, and states “reality television thrives on the tensions that result from the multiple versions of “reality” that circulate inside and outside of the programs. These realities emanate from the shows’ narratives, the types of individuals cast to participate, and audiences’ own lived experiences as racialized and gendered persons.” This analysis shows how the creation of reality within a show’s production can later affect the viewer.
This connects with the keyword “affect,” because this word is used to describe the relationship between the media and the viewer and how the viewer feels when watching. Media outlets have become the primary medium to communicate and circulate ideas, attitudes and prescription of action among them. The most important part of all of this is the action that some media can invoke because it intensifies a feeling in the viewer. Much of this affect can come from reading the bodies of those within the media, particularly the face. Some scholars believe that putting a literal face to feelings, whether that is emojis or facial expressions evokes greater emotions than words themselves. These emotions can then lead to social collectives that end up changing the social landscape and ideologies that media produce. Clearly, NeNe Leakes and Serena Williams have evoked emotions from viewers and have publicly responded negatively to their success. These affects on the viewers are what the media has created by publicly allowing confident black women to dominate the media. This hopefully will also evoke positive emotions and allow viewers to normalize the idea of strong, outspoken, and confident black women.
- Gate’s solution to reality television and its representation of a skewed reality is subversive reading strategy, do you think that this is a viable options for viewers that are subconsciously affected by these shows?
- What are the typical stereotypes surrounding confident women? and how do you think society can change its view of confident black women, and women in general?