Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Native American Question

The United States, founded upon the rights and liberties of all men, has a historical backdrop that leaves us in confusion and question of our moral principles. The Native American Holocaust, as few regard it in history, is the ugly side of U.S. colonialism and expansionism that many Americans are quick to sweep under the rug. However, the history is there. Broken treaties, expanding white society and blatant disregard for life are common themes in the sad untold history of the Native American.

It's not wonder, then, why much opposition has been made against sports teams that bare the Indian icon. The Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Washington Redskins, Chicago Blackhawks, to name a few, are all professional teams that use the Indian image as mascots for their teams. Often used to show signs of bravery, strength, and honor, the Indian mascot for many professional, college and high school teams is something they hold with great pride, whether for the honor of Native Americans or just the unity in their community of fans.

Since the 1970s, moves have been made to do away with the Native American mascot. At both the high school and college level, it has actually been quite successful. However, the professional level remains untouched and unwilling to move, with too much already at stake. Many Native American activists argue that the Indian symbol is offensive simply because Native Americans are not getting the fair chance to represent themselves. Many of the "Rain Dances", Tomahawk chops, and logos with the Native American image use no historical context. Not every Native American wore feathers in their hair or rode on horses shooting bow and arrows. In fact, the horse, not native to North America, wasn't even introduced to Native American culture until much later in their existence.

Yet these arguments aren't made from Native Americans themselves. As a 2002 Sports Illustrated poll revealed, 81% of polled Native Americans had no opposition to the use of the Indian image as a mascot. The support was even stronger for professional sports team, with 83% having no opposition. The numbers clearly show a difference in opinion between Native Americans and those fighting for the rights or image of Native Americans. But why?

The disconnect is because activists are telling  Native Americans how the should feel about these images and how they should react to them. The opinions of activists do not align with the actual feelings of the Native Americans and when this does not occur, it is time for the activists to fade into the background and resume some other sort of cause. It is both insulting and dehumanizing to tell someone else how they should feel. One might argue that it's because the self-esteem of the Native American is low, as Suzan Harjo is quoted saying in the article. However, if an individual does not feel an emotional, knee-jerk reaction to a "racist" symbol, then the symbol is no longer racist and has simply become just a symbol of a sports team and nothing else.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Music Videos and Common Sense

Music videos have always created a controversy for as long as they have been in existence. From Lil Jon to Lady Gaga to Eminem, there a numerous music videos out there that have caused a stir for one reason or another. If you've never seen Call on Me, it is just another video some have said objectifies women and is semi-pornographic. It leads to the debate on what effect music videos have on people and whether it promotes violence, especially against women. It is important to distinguish between the video and the music or lyrics. If you listen to Call on Me, the only lyrics are exactly that: call on me. If you were to hear this, you would have no idea that women are dancing in tight spandex. Music videos are often used to create a shock factor that is not attained with listening alone. 

So should the music videos be allowed to show acts of violence and discrimination against minority groups? Yes because it is covered by the First Amendment. But in a practical sense, no. These videos might be described as art but are more likely just attempts to create publicity for the artist via controversy. A good amount of judgment is needed in creating a music video, which Hollywood seems to lack. Unfortunately a lack of judgment can lead to a lack of reality for the audience, mostly comprised of children and young teenagers.

What is needed more than good judgment the production of a music video is the need for parents to talk with their children regarding the topics addressed in today's music industry. For examples, rappers such as Jay-Z and Lil Wayne often portraying women as objects to be used and disposed of. If a child grows up and watches how their parents behave toward each other, nothing sends a stronger message. Not only do they see the proper way a relationship should function, but they see it in real life. Nothing is more powerful than a positive life message relayed by adults present and active in the lives of children.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Diversity or anti white?

We have learned thus far in our class how to be aware of certain stereotypes that we as the white majority media  put out there. I will be the first to admit that they are there. I'll also be the first to admit that you can find whatever message you want if you look hard enough at anything, so interpreting media messages is subjective and nowhere near an exact science.
However, I'm surprised (but not really) at the lack of leniency for white people versus the leeway given to minorities in the media. There is not a more perfect example than this story about Torii Hunter, an outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels. The article written in 2008 was about a panel discussion with USA Today in which Hunter was asked about his opinion on why there aren't more African-Americans in professional baseball. (The percentage of black players on opening day was 10.2%, up from 8.2% the year before.) Hunter responded saying that black Latin American players were "impostors" and not "real" black people. (In case you didn't know, Torii, black slaves were brought in to Latin America just like the British Colonies that later became the United States.) He went on insult black Latin American players even more saying, "Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?' ... I'm telling you, it's sad," he said."

 Hunter has no room whether to decide who is black and who is not. The majority of African-Americans haven't stepped foot on African soil nor will they ever. So what room does someone have to decide? Are they culturally different? Yes. But so are white people. You have Russians, English French, Irish, Spanish, and the list goes on. But are they put into different racial groups. NO. They are all labeled as white because their skin is white. Same rule applies here. We are not discussing ethnic groups or cultural differences. Black is black. And the people who do these statistics need to rework how the categorize because it's giving people more reason to whine than they should. Is the NBA representative of the U.S. populations? No. There are 18% of the players that are white versus 77% black percentage of players. Should the NBA really get an "A" in diversity? *&!% no! That's not diverse by any means. If you are looking for what diversity really means according to the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, it's how many white men can we kick out of the work place. So what if there are only 10.2% African-American players in the MLB? It's because they play football and basketball! I'll listen to the argument when people are concerned with the lack of white players in the NBA. 

Misleading women

We went over advertising today in class and how women are constantly subjected the idea of "perfection". One only has to watch TV for a short amount of time to realize how saturated we are with these images of flawless women. It's no wonder why so many young girls, and women in general, suffer from anxiety, eating disorders, and general dislike of their bodies. However, if women took more time to talk to men, rather than rely on media to tell them what is and isn't pretty, it wouldn't be nearly as severe.

I'm pretty sure that men in general are not looking for perfection. Especially with today's generation, which is increasingly sensitive, men are more likely to choose a female partner based on personality, rather than just looks. While physical appearance does have an effect on initial attraction, that is but a minor part of what attracts us to a partner.

For me personally, what I look for in a girl is a best friend, someone I can confide in.
Like any message that is put out there, it is important to analyze the source, whether that source is a magazine, TV, or even a teacher. Unfortunately, the majority of our society is unwilling to put in the time to research these sources, and thus become empowered to diffuse any message that paints an unrealistic reality.