Sunday, November 30, 2014

Shopping > Thanksgiving?

When Americans think of Thanksgiving, typically they think of food, family, and now shopping?

Almost two weeks ago, Rayna wrote a blog post about how stores were starting their Black Friday sales early by opening their stores to Black Friday costumers at six on Thanksgiving. Throughout the post, Rayna explained the idea that by starting Black Friday on Thanksgiving, Americans might possibly be lured away from family time on Thanksgiving in order to be the first to get the Black Friday deals. I agreed that this marketing technique would pull people away from their Thanksgiving; however, I secretly hoped this would not actually be the case.

Nevertheless, the prediction was accurate. The number of sales on the real Black Friday dropped seven percent and the sales on Thanksgiving jumped 24 percent. More than 15,000 people were lined outside of the Macy's in New York City by six on Thursday. These people must have gotten there even earlier than six in order to get a good place in line. How much time on Thanksgiving did these people devote to shopping? Americans spent 3.2 billion dollars on Thanksgiving, a day intended to focus on what you are thankful for, not what you need to get.

Major stores began starting their Black Friday sales on Thursday last year; however, this year even more stores, many of which are large retail stores, joined in. Unfortunately, it would be very hard to prevent stores from doing this, especially if the number of sales keeps raising exponentially every year. This is only going to cause more and more stores to do this, thus ending the traditional "Thanksgiving".

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A "Black Annie"

Yesterday, I was talking to one of my friends about the movie, Catching Fire; however, instead of telling me about the actual movie, she was talking to me about an interesting trailer that was playing before. The trailer was for Annie, a classic American movie and musical usually staring a white orphan with fiery red hair. However, in this upcoming version of Annie, the actress playing Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis) is African American.

In order from left to right: the 1982 Annie, the 1999 Annie, the 2014 Annie

While this adaptation of Annie is unusual, I think the idea of casting an African American to play Annie is extremely appropriate. America is a diverse country, and if each time Annie is played by a young, Caucasian girl, it is not an accurate representation of the large 14.4% African American population in the United States.

By simply casting Quvenzhané Wallis, progress has been made. In class, we have been discussing how African Americans are often used as "tokens" by playing a sidekick (the boss, best friend, etc.) for the sole purpose of having a minority on the screen. Annie is three-dimensional character, unlike the two-dimensional "token", so being cast to play Annie is a highly coveted role. By casting Quvenzhané Wallis, the producers believe Americans are able to accept having an African American play not only the lead, but a traditionally white lead.

While this choice of casting conveys progress, there is even more progress to be made. The upcoming version of Annie is produced by Jay-Z, Will Smith, and Jada Pinkett Smith - all of whom are African American. If the producers were all white, would they still choose to cast an African American to play Annie? Also, Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx are casted, both of whom are very successful and well-known actors. Did the producers only take a gamble on casting a black lead because they had two successful actors to support her role? Some Americans even showed they are unable to look past the stereotypes. Saturday Night Live has already made a spoof of "Black Annie" by portraying Annie as someone who is "hyper-sexualized, temperamental, physically opposing, and money hungry", all of which are black stereotypes.

In America, nothing changes overnight, and I am thrilled with this movie because it does show evidence of progress. As time progresses, hopefully America can become an even more accepting nation and the extent of progress can be even greater by white producers hiring more African Americans, the ability for African Americans to stand on their own without a famous actor as a "safety net" and without only being viewed by their stereotypes.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Media Spreading Positivity

Last week, I wrote a blog post about a disgusting article, which discussed the top reasons why a man should date a girl with an eating disorder. I stumbled upon this article on my Facebook newsfeed and was appalled to see how certain people are using the power of media to spread messages that encourage something as severe and harmful as an eating disorder. However, this week, I was beyond thrilled to see a positive video on my newsfeed about the same topic of body image.

I strongly encourage everyone to watch this video from 0:27-3:43.

This video asks fifty people of all different ages the same question: What would you change about your body? The adults all answered the question easily, saying things such as their skin, the size of their eyes, and their forehead. However, when kids were posed with the same question, it took them awhile to think about their response. Finally, they said things like, "I wish I had wings" or "I wish I had a mermaid tail" or "I wouldn't change anything really!".

I think this video is truly remarkable to say the least. It captures children's thoughts on their bodies. These children have yet to be exposed to the negative media such as articles like this that tells them how they should look and defines "beauty". The young children are perfectly happy with their bodies (with the exception of not having wings or a mermaid tail) due to their lack of exposure to harmful media. Unfortunately, the negative media in American society is inevitable, and this video shows just how much it impacts people. 

Thankfully, the Jubilee Project is using the generally harmful power of the media (in terms of body image) to promote confidence. They make short videos, like this one, to encourage good in the world in collaboration with non-profits. This video was created in collaboration with iNature Skincare, which makes this video even more powerful. Most skincare brands promote changing one's skin to make it better; however, by creating this video, this brand is promoting confidence in our own skin as it is. While it disturbs me that some Americans use the media harmfully (especially to the extent of promoting a mental illness), the Americans that are creating these inspiring videos with the sole purpose to help someone makes me proud to be an American. These businesses do not ask for any money in return, for they only care about promoting good in society. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Media is Out of Control.

My Facebook newsfeed is often overflowed with different links and advertisements, but the other day, I saw one that I could not just simply scroll past.

It was entitled, "Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder."

The title itself disgusted me; however, the article proved to be even worse. It gave reasons for boys to date girls with eating disorders such as saying they are more attractive, they are cheaper dates because they won't eat, they are vulnerable and fragile, and they are most likely wealthy. Not only are these reasons outrageous, but the author also generalizes the people who have eating disorders. The first sentence of the article reads, "'Nothing screams white-girl problems louder than a good old-fashioned eating disorder.'" He stereotypes all these people suffering with their appearance by saying they are all white girls, and later on goes on to saying they are all weak and wealthy. Even the picture associated with the article illustrates a white woman who clearly is upper-class due to her clothing.

When I looked at the date of this article, I was shocked that it was written almost a year ago; however, since it appeared on my newsfeed only one week ago, it proves the media really never disappears. Once something is online, it is permanent and anyone has access to it. The fact that this article was advertised on Facebook shocked me, for many girls on Facebook are already insecure about their bodies, and to girls with eating disorders, this article could further encourage them to obsess over their weight. 10% of college girls suffer from eating disorders, and I am sure almost all of those girls have Facebooks. Seeing this article could easily worsen their disorder.

The author of this article uses a pseudonym ("Tuthmosis") and writes posts for Return of Kings, the website in which the article was posted, and BuzzFeed, a very popular news and entertainment site right now. Many people hesitated to write frustrated responses about the issue because they did not want to draw more attention to the article; however, inevitably, if this article was on Facebook (and still continues to be a year later), people are going to notice it. It is important people discuss how wrong this issue is. One of the main things morals of American society is knowing right from wrong, and it is important everyone knows writing articles like this is wrong and needs to be prevented.