Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Disposable Woman

1. The first reason the author gives as to why Charlie Sheen's abuse of women does not receive the same criticism by mainstream media as other abusers, is because he is a white male. Even though stars like Lindsay Lohan and Chris Brown have had scandals less outrageous than Charlie Sheen's, they face more career suffering and anger from the public because Sheen's race and gender allow the media to portray his actions as comical, rather than dangerous. Due to the fact that he is a white man, we are taught believe he is "safe," and most people just accept this generalization. When the media reports on Charlie Sheen, they refer to his antics as those of just a "bad boy" or a "rebel", enforcing this stereotype that he is just a rowdy hollywood jokester, and not a real threat - or criminal - doing something wrong.  The second reason the author states about why Charlie Sheen's abuse has not gotten much negative discussion is because of the woman he abuses. The women who have reported being abused by Sheen all fit into a certain category - they are not very well known, they definitely show-off their sexuality, and many of them are "sex workers." The image these girls give off is not one that is valued by the media or most people, therefore making us unsympathetic to what they have experienced. Because of the way Charlie Sheen is portrayed and the way his girlfriends appear, we make the assumption that it's okay for him to treat these women like that, since they are not worthy of more respect - at least that's what the media is subliminally telling us.

2. a) Reality TV portrays men who behave badly in a similar way to how the media portrays the antics of Charlie Sheen. When guys on TV get drunk and treat women badly, it's considered a joke. The media tells us that it's normal for men to act this way, and that their actions are simply funny. They also condone this message by showing their out of control lifestyle, and then never showing the consequences of it, teaching men that if they act outlandishly, there's no punishment for that in our society.

2. b) However, reality TV portrays women in a very different way than it portrays men. Whenever women behave badly, they are shown in a negative light, making them look stupid, immature, and often "slutty". Women don't have the same free pass that men do in the world of television - they are held to a higher standard and when they make mistakes people believe that they should just know better, quite the opposite of men. A great example of this double standard is shown on the hit series Jersey Shore. The Situation can go out to clubs, drink a lot, pick up girls, and he looks totally cool. When he's excessively drunk and has a "one night stand" with more than one girl, no one thinks about the disrespect of that situation, all they think is that he's the man! However, when Snooki or Sammie get involved in similar activities, they gain a terrible reputation. They are thought of as "wild party girls" and "whores," even though they are doing the exact same thing as many men on reality TV shows are known for.

3. This constant representation of "bad boys" on TV makes it easier for the public to accept Charlie Sheen and quickly forgive him for what he's done. Because we see these out of control guys so often in the media, and never being portrayed in a negative way or receiving consequences, we naturally get used to the acceptance of this behaviour. We have become so accustomed to it that the bad "shock value" has worn off and we are just waiting on the edge of our seats to see Charlie Sheen's next hilarious outburst.

4. a) The problem with reality TV is not only the way it portrays men vs. women, but also the way it promotes extreme violence and sexuality as "the norm." It shows the public that excessive drinking and constant partying are just part of "real life" and glorifies the outcome of this behaviour. In addition, besides just condoning it, the reality genre shows these attributes and actions as necessary, since in the end of most shows, a prize is often rewarded, showing this dramatic entertainment and behaviour will provide you with either monetary gain, or "happily ever after," (see marriage proposal picture from the Bachelor) completely ignoring the real consequences of this behaviour and this societal mindset.

4. b) I definitely agree that this is a problem. Reality TV producers, and the media in general, see one purpose - money. They focus all their attention and ideas around what will sell, and not what has good quality or messages. With this idea in their head that success is measured monetarily, they are forgetting how many people idolize behaviour seen in the media. Producers need to remember that the public, and the teenage generations especially, are extremely affected by what they see in the media, and that constantly giving us bad ideas will have a long-standing effect on the people we become and the behaviours we exhibit.

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