Friday, January 16, 2015

A Rising Empire

Throughout class discussions and our TV Tokenism presentations, the show Empire has been brought up multiple times. Empire is a network drama on Fox with a cast only of African Americans that premiered a little over a week ago and has two episodes thus far. It comes on Wednesdays at 9/8 C, which is considered the most coveted hour for a TV show to run.

Fox took a gamble on this show, for a cast considered of so-called "tokens" may not appeal to the white majority in America. The pilot of the show got a surprisingly positive result; however, Fox was expecting the ratings and viewers to drop for the second episode. This is a common trend among new TV shows - many people tune in for the pilot, but then don't return next week.

However, Empire became even more successful this week. Empire had a total of 10.29 million viewers on Wednesday night. The number of people tuning into Empire went up 5% this week compared to the pilot episode. Usually, if the number of viewers decreases 12% after the pilot episode, then the show is considered very successful. The fact that the number of viewers rose clearly illustrates the surprising success of this show.

Compared to other shows on Wednesday night, Empire did remarkably well. Fox's American Idol, which came on right before Empire, got a total of 10.66 million views. This is only 0.37 million more views than Empire, and American Idol has already been running for 14 seasons. American Idol has had years to build up its audience, while Empire has only had one week. Criminal Minds, a popular show on CBS, also aired at 8/9 C on Wednesday night (same time slot as Empire). Criminal Minds only got 10.17 million viewers, so Empire had a larger audience than an extremely popular show. People chose to watch Empire over Criminal Minds on Wednesday night.

The early success from this show proves to Fox and all other networks that Americans will have positive feedback about an African American drama. Hopefully, the success can continue and we can continue to have more African Americans staring in shows for other reasons than just being a "token". 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Multipurpose Mug Shot

Mug shots are supposed to have a single purpose: to identify criminals. However, the North Miami Beach Police Department seemed to have other ideas. They hung up the mug shots of five men to use as "practice targets" at a shooting range in Medley last month.

But what is even more appalling then shooting at the photos of humans?

All five of them were African American.

One woman, Sgt. Valerie Deant, showed up to the shooting range with the Florida Army National Guard's 13th Army for their annual weapons training. To her surprise, one of the targets placed on the wall was of her brother. The picture of Woody Deant was taken 15 years ago, so the North Miami Beach Police Department did not just hang up the most recent mug shots - they were selective. Perhaps they selected five African Americans on purpose... what are the odds that all five just happened to be black?

One of the police chiefs named J. Scott Dennis acknowledges that what they did not make the best judgement, but denies racial profiling. He explains that they have minority officers on their team. Similar to the idea of TV Tokenism, I think Dennis is using the minority officers as real-life "tokens". His claims intended meaning was, "Of course we did not purposely select all blacks! We have minorities on our own team!"

The fact that the police department choose to paste the images of five black men is extremely inappropriate, especially with every thing that just happened in Ferguson. Policemen have shot innocent, black men, and this situation is an exact parallel to that, but on a smaller scale.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Are "Hot" and "Successful" Synonyms?

Upon searching "female news anchor" on Google, I got the following search results:

"Top 10 Hottest Women News Anchors"

"Top 10 Hottest Women News Anchors Around the World"

However, when I searched "male news anchor", the results were far different.

"List of CNN Anchors"

"List of NBC Personalities"

Even from just a basic Google search, the gender discrepancy is very clear. A search for "female news anchor" yielded results related to their image and ranked them in order of how "hot" they were. However, when searching the same thing for males, the results were what one would have expected, just a standard list of news anchors.

Women are recognized on television for looking "hot" not in terms of their talent. Their profession has become not only to broadcast news, but also to be "eye candy". It is ridiculous that in America today, successful females, such as news anchors, are being judged on how attractive they are in lieu of how good they are at their profession.

Unlike women, men do not have to fill this criteria of being "attractive" in order to broadcast news. Someone in class brought up how a male news anchor from Australia wore the same suit for one year and no one noticed because no one pays attention to the appearance of male news anchors.

The news anchor who sported the same suit for a year, Karl Stefanovic, said, "'I'm judged on my interviews, my appalling sense of humour - on how I do my job basically, whereas women are quite often judged on what they're wearing or how their hair is. Women, they wear the wrong colour and they get pulled up.'"   Stefanovic's quote clearly supports the idea that women are not being judged for the right reasons. Men are being judged on how well they execute their job, while women are judged on their appearance. If one women were to wear the same dress for a year, everyone would notice without a doubt. It might even cost her the opportunity to be included on the list of "Top Hottest Women News Anchors"...what a shame!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Identical Pictures... Different Response?

This Thursday, Sarah Palin posted on her Facebook page a picture of her six-year-old son, who is diagnosed with Down syndrome, stepping on her black lab. While Palin expected the comments to express how funny the picture was, they instead caused an extreme uproar and forced PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) to get involved.

Personally, I think the response to this picture was far too extreme. It simply was supposed to be a silly picture. I do not think the picture is too concerning, even as an animal lover myself. Her son is only six years old and has Down syndrome... how is he supposed to know this behavior is wrong? Also, the dog, Jill, does not appear to be disturbed by this behavior and it does not look like her son is putting his weight on the black lab.

However, I find it most surprising that PETA only became outraged with Sarah Palin, while Ellen DeGeneres posted a similar photo of a young child standing on a dog on her Facebook page on July 1, 2014. PETA did not get involved with this picture.

Not only did PETA not complain about Ellen DeGeneres' picture, but Ellen was also named the 2009's PETA Woman of the Year. PETA recognized Ellen as being an animal lover, yet she too posted a "silly" photo of the exact same thing, so why can't Palin post an almost identical photo?

Additionally, PETA did not seem to get angry at Obama when he admitted to eating dog meat in his memoir. Palin recognized this and posted another status on Facebook saying, "Chill. At least [my son] didn't eat the dog... Did you go crazy when your heroic Man-of-Your-Lifetime, Barack Obama, revealed he actually enjoyed eating dead dog meat?" Obama, similarly to DeGeneres, was recognized as being a role model for ethical animal treatment; however, eating "dead dog" is still a violation of that. 

People take pride in America's "equality", but why don't these two almost-identical pictures have an equal response?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Are College Majors Gendered?

The other day in math class, my teacher spent an entire period trying to convince us to consider majoring in computer science. While she was telling the whole class about the amazing things computer science has to offer, she was mainly targeting the girls in the class.

Most Americans are aware with the fact that the field of computer science and engineering is mainly composed of men, but I was not aware of just how extreme the male to female ratio in these programs until I did further research on it. These majors definitely need more females in their program. If it continues being such a male-dominated program, many females will continue to be scared off by it and the percentage will just decrease even more.

The above graph shows the percentage of females within a computer science and engineering major.

In 2010, only about 20% of people in a computer science or engineering program were female. Ideally, a program would be 50% female and 50% male, so there is a clear demand for females to major in these two areas.

In contrast, this graph shows the percentage of women within health, education, and social work programs. Women dominate these majors, with all of them having over 75% women. Clearly, all of these majors are gendered, whether having excessive amounts of men or excessive amounts of women.

Luckily, many schools are trying to get more females to consider majoring in engineering or computer science, in hopes to create a more even gender ratio in college majors, a clear problem that exists in America today. Only 19% of high school students who took the AP Computer Science exam in 2011 were female, so many schools are trying to get girls to acquire an interest for it in high school. By getting girls involved in high school, the goal is that many of them will learn to enjoy it and continue it in college. In math, we had to play a computer science game and watch a video about the perks of working as a computer scientist or engineer to try to build up our interest level.

The media has even joined in to try to raise the percentage of females in these majors. My mom showed me an article in Vogue about a young women who majored in computer science and is now an engineer at Pinterest, a popular site for many girls in which they "pin" items such as decor, fashion, and other items that they like. By showing how computer science could be used to do things that many girls like, such as the site Pinterest, many girls might start to develop an interest in this major.

However, even with all these strategies to get more females to join, many girls continue to be scared of being the "only girl". The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 1.4 million new jobs will be available in computer science by 2020, but if only males are majoring in computer science, these jobs will just be filled by men. Schools need to continue to raise interest in computer science for girls and show that it does not have to be a gendered subject. Computer science is a field that is on the rise, and if more women start to major in it, then they could fill these jobs. This could even help solve the problem of the lack of females in the workforce that America has today.