World War II Oppositional Decoding

Jews resist SS Guards supremacy

By now most, if not all, of society have heard or seen something about the Michael Brown case in Ferguson. Social media helped construct the situations in Ferguson to the point where Twitter established its newsworthiness. According to Marfo in “Why #BlackTwitter was Essential to Media Outrage Over Ferguson,” this was in part due to Black Twitter adding their voices to media coverage since 39% of users were Black, based on a 2013 survey. But, I am not here to discuss this recent event. Instead, I will explore the issue surrounding Hitler and Nazi Germany in the 1940s.


WWII SS guards search new arrivals.

WWII SS guards search new arrivals.

We are aware of the atrocities that occurred at concentration camps, but there is one story, in particular, which sheds light on the idea of oppositional decoding. Oppositional decoding is when the reader’s connotative reflection of the hegemonic reading contradicts hegemonic meaning and leads to acts of resistance.


Prisoners at the Treblinka Death Camp, in Eastern Poland, had arrived. Out of 800,000 to one million prisoners, 90 percent were killed within two hours after arrival. SS guards claimed the prisoners’ work of cleaning up pits for bones within the ashes tired the Jews so much that no uprising would occur. The date was Aug. 2, 1943. Half of the remaining prisoners, approximately 750, invaded the armory building after three Jews stabbed guards. The now armed Jews opened fire on the SS guards while others lit kerosene inside of each building, despite watchtower guards shooting back. Eventually almost 600 men and women prisoners fled the camp. Unfortunately, only 40 were never found while the other 560 were recaptured and executed shortly thereafter.


The coordination amongst the Jews to achieve such a massive victory across Camps I and II is evidence to the power of communication. Hall argues communication is a “complex structure in dominance.” This example shows how the population of Jews interpreted the supremacy of Nazi Germany differently. Although the SS guards had more access to weaponry to maintain their power status, the Jews were a larger population and could overtake them. The Jews were aware of the risks for acting out of line, but they resisted further exploitation through action. According to Gladwell, joining an activist group depended on one’s network involvement. If I knew friends and family who were in the group, then I was more likely to get involved. This is a simple example of the bandwagon approach where most of the Jews fought back so if I’m a Jew, then I should fight back too.


In the 21st Century, however, society typically does not actively participate in public demonstrations. Instead social media has created a platform in which anyone can contribute and feel connected to an issue anywhere in the United States and even the world. But, the so called “Twitter Revolution” is supposed to give a voice to groups with limited access due to societal barriers. Still, this passive interaction with issues frames social media as a power tool to instigate change due to the agenda setting function of equal voice for everyone. I am not denying the power of social media although there is a stark contrast that needs to realized. When there were sit-ins and marches during the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement, activism occurred without the help of social media. People were united in the streets with family, friends, neighbors, and strangers to fight for their right to equal access to education, work and housing. Now, social media created weak ties amongst people via a platform like Twitter. These protests and pleas for activism rarely result in social change since online activism is not as high-risk as historical activism.


It is this distinction that society must realize hinders social activism. Although Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and any other social media platform are a form of activism, it cannot be the only one. Without a personal connection with the issue, it is harder to create a movement against a social injustice. The Jews used interaction and collectivism as tools to riot the camps and fight their oppressor. Today, society may use social media as tools to initiate awareness on an issue, but the final step of taking action will never change.


Funny Comedian or Rape Enthusiast

Bill Cosby: what will he be remembered as?

Beginning in the 1980’s, family night was filled with laughter as the Huxtables invaded televisions. This upper-middle-class, African American family showcased class and success from going through the education system. Bill Cosby’s character, Cliff Huxtable, warmed our hearts with his humor, but will he be remembered for that?

Bill Cosby’s recent rape accusations call into question what his legecy will entail after his death. Another important question centers on what image will newspapers and television news use when discussing his life? Will it be the Cliff Huxtable American families have grown up with? Or will it be the old Bill Cosby images that have surfaced after accusations? You may wonder: why does it matter which photo they choose? Because the perpetuation of African Americans as criminals, gang members, and drug addicts showcases a false sense of the true person. If the media frame Bill Cosby as the perpetrator, Leonard argues the frames justify his loss of his public image or in other cases his death.

A recent issue surrounding photo choice was the Ferguson, Mo. case involving Michael Brown. In a New York Times article, author John Eligon perpetuates the hegemonic image of African Americans with his quotes. In the article, Michael Brown Sr. (father) said, “that’s why I had to keep my foot on his neck.” However, the reference to drugs, stealing, gangs, and family issues only perpetuate the idea of hegemonic beliefs and prove that the issue of race is still prevalent in today’s society based upon the association with black males and crime.

Michael Brown, left, in cap and gown hold his high school diploma. Michael Brown, right, in t-shirt and pants creates a symbol with his right hand while looking tough.

Michael Brown, left, in cap and gown holds his high school diploma. Michael Brown, right, in t-shirt and pants creates a symbol with his right hand while looking tough.

The power of the media to frame Mr. Brown in two differing images begs the question of Cosby. Due to his privilege and access to power, the negative repercussions from media hype could hinder the rest of his career. Currently, Cosby has 10 women: Joan Tarshis, Therese Serignese, Angela Leslie, Carla Ferrigne, Louisa Morite, Janice Dickinson, Barbara Bowman, Beth Ferrier, Kristina Ruehli, and Renita Chaney Hill, who have come forward accusing him of rape. But, it is important to understand the racial element at play. Eight of these women are white, one is African American and one is Spanish.  Thus, the issue of crime between a black man, Cosby, and mostly white privilege women is newsworthy. Although The Cosby Show represented hyper-authority where the frames and schemas mirrored policy of the time, Bill Cosby’s actions are not ideal for the hegemonic culture. By no means am I here to label Bill Cosby as a rapist. Nor am I here to say such acts are acceptable. According to the CDC, “1 in 5 women (18.3%) and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) reported experiencing rape at some time in their lives.” Rape culture is consistently reiterated through popular culture and the hype surrounding Bill Cosby should be redirected to the larger, systemic issue of patriarchal society’s engagement in stalking and harassment reframed as romantic and desirable.

But the allegations surrounding Bill Cosby did not gain much attention until the Twitter #cosbymeme was created to let Cosby have it. The affordances of platform, how people can and do use the social media platform to articulate ideas about an issue, can challenge white privilege and policy. The fact that Twitter’s demographics are younger, 18-29,  the purpose and application of Twitter varies greatly from other social media such as Facebook and Instagram.

Tweet #cosbymeme

Still, if social media has the power to sway society’s opinion about an issue or person, in this case Cosby, what images are coming to the forefront as a means to justify the acts? Bad images. Images white culture would associate with violence and drugs and a lack of education or a dysfunctional family. Without knowing the truth about whether Cosby did or did not sexually assault those women, we cannot allow the schemas about African American culture to be recalled because of media’s interpretation on the problem. The lack of evidence and comments may leave some questioning, but we have to ask ourselves: what image of Cosby do we want to be his last? Exhibit A or Exhibit B? With A we reflect the comedian and All-American hardworking Dr. Huxtable. With B we perpetuate stereotypes of African Americans and devalue Cosby’s life work.

bill cosby

Exhibit B. Bill Cosby as he ages looks rougher than the groomed upper-middle class character of Cliff.



Exhibit A. Cliff Huxtable’s humor and insight made viewers laugh.



Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up: Multicultural Advertising

Life Alert ads niche audience

I have seen several versions of this commercial while watching the Price is Right; however, this particular advertisement has an eerie beginning to attract the audience’s attention. The language is the hegemonic norm, white people addressing an issue. But, it is targeted toward a higher income bracket and an older age than I am. Thus, I rarely see these commercials and do not feel like they are applicable to my life. While looking for the clip, I thought it was interesting how many young people showed the commercial and then inserted a laughing segment at the end. This proves that we are not the intended audience seeing how some younger people may find the product pointless. Also, considering the age of our parents, who are not old enough for this product, there is a lack of purpose from our perspectives. This proves Blumler’s and Katz’s research about uses and gratifications. As viewers, we have the power to choose what media source fulfills our needs. For the older generations, the social, emotional, and psychological needs are easily met with television and personal relationships whereas younger generations utilize social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter for those connections.

The visual presentation of a nice home with family pictures around the home signal the audience that this is a middle aged or older individual, since younger people do not have an established income to live in a nice neighborhood, usually. The images frame the commercial around a white family and women, who are more than likely heterosexual.

Since children and adults, aged 20-40, are at school or work by 9 a.m., the only age demographic typically not working are the elderly or middle-aged individuals, in most situations. Thus, this advertisement airs from 9 a.m. until mid-afternoon, 3 p.m. According to the Washington Post, the broadcast and cable television audience has steadily increased into the mid-50 year old and above range. The Washington Post also noted a trend away from television in younger people so this advertisement is targeted at television viewers, not online or via radio, since that is where Life Alert’s target audience tunes in. So, Life Alert’s advertising committee use an alternate media vehicle of television to effectively reach the older audience being targeted in the advertisement. Even though television may not be viewed as an alternate media vehicle, it is due to the social constructs of television in the older generations lives. This commercial also utilizes cultural awareness, values held by that audience that vary across cultures, about the dominant class’s value of family through display of pictures and the woman surrounded by laundry, a domesticated, feminized job. This product is also aimed at older people who wish to reclaim their individualism and avoid uncertainty of a tragedy in their lives, which Kent and Taylor articulate in two of the five Hofstede’s cultural variables that influence communication and relationships. These variables act as a connection point between the public relations sector and the audience. The use of male voice overs and visuals at work correlate to the cultural awareness where the man typically works. Hence, it would make sense that the dominant, male group is taking the phone call. Furthermore, it briefly displays a background patio with a family in the background. This is also a cultural adaptation that may not be present in all cultures, since family gatherings are less frequent.

Life Alert’s advertisement campaign involving the well-known phrase “Help me! I can’t get up” provides the larger society with insights about what each subculture of white culture values and how those trends change over time. Although young adults may not find the commercial correlated with our current lifestyles, we will find how age determines what is most valuable. Eventually our parents will become a member of the Life Alert age demographic and the pictures on the walls will reflect our family and our fears of losing them. Thus, we see the power advertisements surrounding social justice and well-being are only effective when you are personally invested in the product because of life’s circumstances.

Invisible Abuse and Empowerment

Popular culture music disguises sexual desires

Music makes us feel emotions where we dance, sing in the car, and cry.  But the meaning behind the words becomes more apparent in music videos. Catchy tunes frame songs happily, when in fact it promotes sexual wants and needs.

It would be unfair to cast the blame on one decade or genre of music; therefore, we will explore the persistent abuse and empowerment battle from the 1970’s into the present decade, 2010’s.

Val Halen 1984 “Hot for teacher”

“Hot for teacher” displays female teachers as sexual runway models, who wear bras and underwear, in the classroom and cafeteria. In doing so, it objectified women to men’s pleasures while also arguing that deviant behavior is okay because your punishment is to hang out with the teacher after class.  The camera angles lead the eye to her bottom or her chest. Thus, all women are parts and will never be seen for the minds and hearts that sexism damages.  Women face societal hurdles based upon sex, which provides men with hegemonic ideas of women from the 1950’s working in the domestic field, for him and the family.  It is apparent that the media’s objectification of the sexes is so intertwined in society we cannot differentiate between it and the reality.

Whitney Houston 1990 “I’m your baby tonight”

Whitney sings about being captivated by a boy’s love. She explains “Whatever you want from me, I’m giving you everything. I’m your baby tonight.” Her want for love and affection is a means to attract the male audience toward her. It is up to the man to make the next move and she is in no hurry. This sexual depiction of her desires perpetuates the limited worth of a woman to male pleasure and at his mercy. Sexualization of women leads to rape culture and street harassment. The creepy part about this music video is the shadow of a male figure on her apartment’s walls. Then she drives a motorcycle toward the shadow when a random man jumps on the back of her motorcycle. This is the epitome of rape culture. To have a one night stand with a stalker, who has followed Whitney around her apartment and her shows, without knowing who he is leads to a cultivation theory how seduction and abuse are indistinguishable toward women.

Shania Twain 2002 “I’m gonna getcha good”

Shania is also captivated by love that she will do whatever is necessary so he falls in love with her.  Although she is chased by a giant robot, the message parallels the rest of the music industry. Persistence is acceptable. Men and women are allowed to repeatedly ask their crushes out until coerced to say ‘yes’.  The music video is set up like a cat and mouse game where Shania runs while the robot tries to catch her.  This eggs him on since she is playing hard to get.  Once again, a prime reason rape culture and stalking plague society.

Usher 2010 “More”

The facet of Usher’s concert blinds us to lyrics like “I’m that monster in the mirror” as he fights for a girl’s attention. Subtle images of female silhouettes resemble Whitney’s song of a mysterious person. However the roles are reversed so we see Usher’s privilege and access to women and ability to terrify her. This depiction is script for horror movies. A girl is in her house when a guy comes from behind and grabs her as the screen is cut to black. Usher’s video also makes me recall a primal form of humans. Due to the quick cuts, Usher looks animalistic “…where size, strength, and brutality are rewarded.”

Markets appeal to patriarchal society so men’ access and power trumps women’. This perpetuation made society buy into sexism, prejudice and discrimination, where privilege allows men to tell the woman she wants it and for the woman to say I want intimacy.  Rape culture is proliferated by these messages. Battle between sexism and privilege are factors in rape culture based upon who has access to the weaker individual. Typically, women and the LGBTQ community are blamed for the harassment since we wear provocative clothing and are weaker targets. Still, men are victims something rarely portrayed.  For society’s benefit, we must criticize music’s continuance of rape culture by standing up for one another, regardless of sex or sexual orientation, since most males are not sexual animals who prey on females like media claims.

Wild Wild West Cowboy

Truth About the Beloved American Cowboy

When we hear the word cowboy we recall characters like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and maybe even Woody from Toy Story.  However, we rarely associate the roots of the cowboy to Mexican culture because of columbusing.

Columbusing is when white culture claims discovery of something and makes it a pop culture fanatic despite the historical existence of that something.  This is the case with the columbusing of the cowboy.  The Mexican cowboy was established shortly after the Spanish inhabited Mexico in 1519.  Throughout the creation of ranches, these cowboys were called vaqueros, which is Spanish for cow, due to their cow roping abilities.

Don Quixote de la Mancha was a Mexican cowboy whose adventure were set in Spain.  The tales depicted damsels in distress and Don Quixote have brave battles, even with a windmill.  Still he and his side-kick Sancho set out to fight evil and to seek the affection of a lover.

Painting depicts Don Quixote and his side-kick Sancho on horseback. Don Quixote de la Mancha was a Mexican cowboy created by Miguel de Cervantes. The plot was set in Spain.

Don Quixote de la Mancha was a Mexican cowboy created by Miguel de Cervantes. The plot was set in Spain.

John Wayne sitting atop a horse was the ultimate cowboy in American culture.

John Wayne was the ultimate cowboy in American culture.

The plot lines featuring John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and many other noble Americanized cowboys played off similar plots of the Mexican original.  Although the depiction of the cowboy is honorable in this culture, the symbolism of the cowboy for Mexicans was lost along the way.

Thus, cowboys were trendy in America and good husband since they stood for justice, but at the cost of turning Mexican culture into a widespread commodity that was sought after.

Why did popular culture frame cowboys as an American idea when it was stolen? Because the intention was inconsequential, meaning white privilege unintentionally acknowledged that term without analyzing the negative implications of those acts.  This comes back to previous posts where we have to understand the power we have over others in order to better understand how class status is shaped.

The process of othering is associated with columbusing because after the group claims innovation of a concept, the original founders are deemed as less than the new group due to invisible privilege. In essence, Americans created a system where columbusing the Mexican cowboy placed us as superior, since we made it popular, and the Spanish as inferior, since the rules were stacked against them.

However, the cultural consequences are rarely realized. By this I mean the cultural significance of what a cowboy is and means is lost from the history books, as if it did not matter.  It does matter though because history provides society with themes that continue to reoccur as a result of injustices and one society’s privilege over another’s. In essence, American popular culture has made copious amounts of profit off of western films from a plagiarized  term used to describe Spanish ranch hands who cared for their vacas (cows) and caballos (horses).

So the next time you watch a western show, acknowledge the Mexican history that made this genre of movie popular.   Without the Spanish, there would be no John Wayne, no Clint Eastwood, no Woody, and no western genre of film. But, we have to understand this is not the only occurrence of columbusing; a recent issue involves big bootays. Columbusing may occur on large scale issues like the Mexican cowboy or on a small scale issue like the big behind features of African Americans. Both cultures’ heritages become white commodities where “ethnicity becomes spice, seasoning that can liven up the dull dish that is mainstream white culture.”

Sandy and Danny acculturation

Becoming a Pink Lady and a Jock

Throughout the movie Grease, Sandy Olsson and Danny Zuko forego their identities in the hopes of being like the other. This process is known as cultural assimilation: becoming a member of a new culture while losing apart of yourself in the process.  However, there are four outcomes possible when a person partakes in the acculturation process. Assimilation is when the person moves toward dominant culture while leaving the old culture behind. Integration is the blending of the old and new cultures in a bi-cultural identity. Rejection is when the person disagrees with the new culture, which leads to reaffirmation of his traditional culture. Marginalization is separation from both cultures and an individual cultural identity.

With a basic understanding of cultural assimilation, we can better analyze the transformation Sandy and Danny exhibit in the movie.

When we first meet Sandy, we notice her struggle to fit in at Riddle High School. She assimilates into the group of cheerleaders, which shapes the interactions she has with the football players. Her assimilation as a cheerleader, and thus attraction to football players, reinforces the hegemonic belief that cheerleaders date football players. From the portrayal of Sandy, at this point in the movie, it seems as though she consents to the pom-pom label. However, during a Pink Ladies sleepover, Sandy partakes in the integration process. She wants to become a member of both and is willingly coerced into smoking and drinking, after Rizzo persistently forces the issue. Afterward, Frenchy convinces Sandy that she can pierce Sandy’s ears after Sandy’s multiple shrieks from being poked by a needle. The Pink Ladies continue this micro-aggression, daily interactions to change Sandy, throughout the movie until Sandy succumbs to the image of a Pink Lady. Due to this micro-aggression, Sandy rejects her bi-cultural identity to avoid marginalization from the Pink Ladies, and ultimately her chance to be with Danny.

Danny is a member of the T birds and is the cool guy at Riddle High School. But, during the past summer he rejected this identity to assimilate to the more socially accepted, hegemonic “nice guy” – all for love. He was attracted to Sandy and even dressed in white sweaters to appear groomed. But, when he encounters Sandy at a football rally, he assimilates back into the T birds culture. Unfortunately for Danny, Sandy is upset and calls him a phony. From that point on, Danny is determined to get Sandy back so much so that he decides to become a jock. He tries to become a wrestler, a baseball player, and finally a track and field athlete. In order to be welcomed into the dominant, sports culture, Danny utilizes code-switching. Code-switching is when a person shifts his dialect throughout different situations in order to showcase his status and worth to be a member of that culture. That means Danny cannot punch people when he is losing to even the stakes since violence is not accepted in the hegemonic society. Danny is successful in the acculturation of his attitudes and behaviors so he is absorbed into the cultural body and will be able to be with Sandy.

As Sandy assimilates into the Pink Ladies group, since she was the only pom-pom, Danny rejects his new jock identity and assimilates back into a member of the T birds. In the end, the process of acculturation changed Sandy and brought Danny full circle before both exclaimed, “You’re the One I Want, Oo-oo-oo“.


Uncle Eddie, working class humor

Christmas Vacation depicts working class etiquette jokingly

Clark: …and an a**hole, in his bathrobe, emptying a chemical toilet into my sewer.”

This quote not only paints a picture of Cousin Eddie on the white, Christmas morning, but also it explains the lack of intelligence among the lower classes. Christmas Vacation is one of my all-time favorite Christmas shows due to my enjoyment of the family chaos. However, if we focus on how television shows and movies portray working class members, we realize that there are five criteria. The Working Class show: lack of taste, lack of intelligence, disinterest in politics, poor work ethics and dysfunctional family values. If we apply these criteria to Cousin Eddie, we see that his taste is indecent seeing that he dumps his fecal material into a storm sewer and drinks beer from a can. In doing this, it displays his lack of intelligence since Clark said, “he oughta know it’s illegal.”  This comment shows a class distinction between Clark, middle-upper class, and Eddie, working class. This clip does not discuss Eddie’s disinterest in politics, but based upon his poor education, we assume this to be so. We also see, throughout the show, how Eddie and Catherine, his wife, do not earn enough money to buy Christmas presents for their children. Thus, if we extrapolate Eddie’s depiction, the audience concludes his work ethic is poor because working hard, ‘pays off’. This poor work ethic exemplifies Eddie’s complacency to keep holding out for a management position – 3 years and counting.  Also, his family is dysfunctional since his son has lip fungus, the dog, named Snot, drinks half a quart of Pennzoil at home, his daughter is in a clinic being cured off a wild turkey, and the eldest son is working in the carnival. These experiences act as a boundary between the working class and the hegemonic, normalcy of middle class life. This stereotype acts as justification for blaming Eddie for his own circumstances. If he would have worked harder and “pulled himself up by his bootstraps,” Eddie would have achieved upward mobility. The idea of ”pull himself up by his bootstraps” is portrayed in the media to show how the “crème rises to the top”. Because of this depiction, it distracts society from the systemic issue of poverty and economic disparities. The media further distract us from these societal and policy issues through use of humor. While watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, I found myself laughing out loud at the stupidity. Therefore, I was blind to the idea of Enlightened Racism which relieves white viewers of responsibility for inequalities, hides and distorts the truth about working class life, passes the blame to those members of society and if they are white, the media labels them as a sub-culture or sub-group which deviates from the hegemonic norm. Analyzing the last point, we will find that being white does not always lead to privilege. So, the media justifies it through the open bashing of characters associated with said sub-group. Even though Cousin Eddie may look just like us, his actions denounce his privilege and counter-hegemonic lifestyle. This frame, where Cousin Eddie is the subject, would argue the problem is Eddie’s lack of education resulted in a low standard of living; therefore, we feel like his behaviors are idiotic and the treatment is to laugh at him. This promotes the systemic problem of class segregation and lower class members abilities to work their way up the corporate ladder. This problem of class segregation perpetuated by white, hegemonic power focuses on comparison by ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is negatively judging a different culture, or in this case a sub-culture, by the standards of the white, dominant group. Through this act, the media help to reinforce the middle-upper class person’s superiority over other groups and sub-cultures. It is plain to see in Christmas Vacation that Eddie’s presence in Clark’s house will destroy Clark’s cultural class of education, taste and lifestyle through damage to the cultural capital of cleanliness and decency.  Although the reaction to Eddie’s behavior is humorous, this humor functions as a façade to the personal and societal problems of poor and working class people. Instead, the media frames it as a threat to middle class values.

Frames show Lewinsky caused Clinton scandal

In the article “Monica Lewinsky breaks silence on affair with Bill Clinton,” by Bob Fredericks, the rhetorical frames and visuals reinforced the author’s frame against Lewinsky. Priming enforces rhetorical frames, mentally or verbally, which teach us how to think about a person, group or issue correlated to previously presented information about that group. Frames also impact the cause, moral evaluation and solution about the issue.

In paragraph 18, Fredericks describes Lewinsky by saying, “she also whines about how the Internet magnified the story after it broke in 1998…” The use of the word ‘whines’ acts as a rhetorical frame to discredit what Lewinsky says about the media’s later coverage. This impacts the framing of the story to pit Lewinsky against the scandal and the Clinton administration.

In a subsequent paragraph, Fredericks utilizes another rhetorical frame when he said, “She also said her decade-long silence fueled suspicions that she’d had been paid off to keep her yap shut.” The word ‘yap’ is another rhetorical frame to discredit Lewinsky’s words. The negative connotation primes the audience for information that is not important and is synonymous to the word rant. Both illicit a cognitive reaction in the reader to ignore the following phrase or phrases.

The last example from this article to utilize rhetorical devices to drive the framing of the story occur in paragraphs 32 and 33.

She also adds in a girlish style that she does regret the whole thing.

“I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton. Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened.”

The above two paragraphs further enhance Lewinsky’s immaturity and inability to voice her side of the story, due to her age. Thus, the word “girlish” makes her quote, in subsequent paragraphs, less intellectual because of one word sentences.

Each of these carefully crafted words illicit a negative connotation among members of the audience as a priming mechanism to highlight her youth to explain the cause of the scandal. This is an example of salience in which one piece of information is more noticeable for the audience and is therefore the focus of the story.

When looking at framing in the media, there are four elements to dissect to grasp the story’s purpose: problem, cause, moral evaluation, and treatment. The problem, also called the subject, would be a scandal between President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, an intern. The cause was Monica Lewinsky displayed “undisguised lust for the married president” in a professional environment, which the audience may feel like she is “the girl who cried wolf.” This suggests the treatment is to punish Lewinsky for her breach in professionalism.

It is important to recognize the power of rhetorical frames in establishing cause and treatment. Media utilize this method to uphold the Clinton family while passing the blame solely to Lewinsky, which explains why she continues to struggle in the workforce.

But, there is another aspect that is commonly overlooked in regards to how to frame a story. That aspect is visuals. Although Bill and Hillary Clinton did not get a divorce, as a result of the scandal, the images of them display confrontation based upon the look Hillary gave her husband after an address and also her face in the last photo when Bill whispers in her ear. This friction symbolizes the struggle this administration faced throughout the scandal. The pictures of Lewinsky with President Bill Clinton and her holding up her right hand work together to show a correlation between her and the problem; but, it fails to clarify that correlation does not equal causation. Still, the video of Clinton speaking to the press begins with business as usual with only a 30 second clarification about the scandal. Thus, each visual element further perpetuates the problem was caused by Lewinsky.

Frames are powerful tools the media has at its disposal. It emphasizes small elements salience to call upon a common belief in American culture, eg. the President of the United States is a leader and role model who always looks out for the best interest of the American people. Based upon that culture, it is easy to frame Monica Lewinsky as the problem since she was a naïve girl who lacked privilege, in comparison to President Clinton, and who had no control over her emotions. Thus, white privilege disassociated Clinton with a scandal due to his privilege and access to power, which is common among celebrities.

Unjustified media perspective about killed man

Black man killed by police woman based upon false accusations by white caller

In a recent Ohio incident, in Walmart, an African American man was shot dead by a police woman after police received a phone call stating the man was pointing the gun at children. This issue is an example of agenda setting where the media shape and filter reality and tell us how to think about the situation.  After viewing the security cameras video, with the accompanied audio of the phone call, it is clear that this issue was an issue of race.

James Crawford, 22, was shot inside a Beavercreek, Ohio, Wal-Mart for being accused of point an AR-15 at children. Later investigation proved he was carrying a BB gun that was empty and questions arise that the officer had no probable cause to shoot John.

John Crawford, 22, was shot inside a Beavercreek, Ohio, Wal-Mart for being accused of point an AR-15 at children. Later investigation proved he was carrying a BB gun that was empty and questions arise that the officer had no probable cause to shoot John.

The media’s coverage failed to provide the full context of the situation and thus made it appear that the police woman was justified in shooting the man. The idea of agenda setting is a means of telling people what to think about an issue instead of providing the facts and allowing the viewer to have his own opinions, which also makes the issue seem more salient, noticeable, compared to other issues. This definition coincides with the Hypodermic Needle theory which argues the media has all the power since the audience is weak. Why do media utilize agenda setting? It correlates to hegemonic belief. The media conveys messages that interest the dominant, white population based upon the privilege of that group to hold positions of power. When covered issues deal with race, they usually focus on racial aspects for justification of actions. This practice makes the media’s broadcast of violent crime seem episodic. Media are episodic when they state a black man does x, y and z and police defend public safety by whatever means necessary , which results in death of African Americans. Usually this is where the conversation ends; it should not. If we take issues and focus on solution-based thinking, then we can prevent future incidents from maintaining the episodic nature. If you will notice, the man on the phone accuses the black man of pointing his weapon at two young children; this is false. It should also be noted once the police go around the end cap, in the aisle, the police woman pursues shooting the man even though he is disarmed, at that point. Some may argue, he went back for his gun after disarmament. This is true; but why? This question brings up the important right we, as American citizens, have to protect ourselves. Continue reading

Forbes Magazine invisible privilege

Harm men face from viewing women as legs

Forbes page 1 advertisement showing white male wearing swimwear and two legs. Text reads "Fresh prints. Sometimes a swimsuit can make a splash..."

Four page advertisement in summer 2014 edition of Forbes magazine.

A white woman and an african-american man laying in swimwear. There is a set of legs from the man in the first half of the page.

Four page advertisement in summer 2014 edition of Forbes magazine.

Do you know how your actions affect me and you? Will I ever be viewed as more than parts but someone who has a brain and a heart?  These questions may seem puzzling since their root is invisible to society. Privilege. This term is what established advantages and rights for members of a class or sex and made those who did not belong disadvantaged. The readers of Forbes magazine exhibit a privilege that separates them from society based on class, gender and economic status. Based upon a fall 2013 demographic analysis of the magazine, 73% of the readership identified as male. In addition, the readers ranked into a high income bracket of $100,000 or greater. Thus, the audience is predominately male, businessmen, in the upper class. Now, what privileges  do they have that the middle and low classes don’t have access  to? Compared to the lower class, their access to higher education provided them with a greater knowledge of business. Due to earning an advanced degree, their income bracket is significantly higher than those who do not earn a degree. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, “college graduates ages 25 to 32 who are working full time earn more annually – about $17,500 more – than employed young adults holding only a high school diploma,” (Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends 2014).  Hence, a majority, if not all, of these readers have more privilege in society to live more luxuriously than members below them whose paychecks are much lower. But privilege is typically ignored throughout society because those who have privilege did not ask for it or earn it any more than anyone else. So how does the advertisement in the summer 2014 Forbes magazine demonstrate this idea of privilege.  Well, at first glance the ad seems to be selling the idea of summer clothing that “can make a splash”.  The first page of the ad contains a baby blue background to set a mood that is tranquil.  All the members of the ad are looking toward the viewer as a means to draw them into the page. With further analysis, one may notice the hidden message on page two. Continue reading