Thursday, May 29, 2008


Reality television is believed to have a main focus of capturing the minds of individuals and steering the ethics, behaviors, aspirations, and routines of ordinary people”(Ouellette & Hay, 2). Reality is able to accomplish this through a variety of tactics; one method is the relatedness of the characters to the viewers. The individuals on reality shows are strategically chosen to fit the criteria of viewer’s personalities. Also, women contestants are often representative of the stereotypical female: tiny frame, fit body, and large breasts. If a woman does not fit these standards, she is eliminated within the first few episodes. As a result, the viewers are drawn to different aspects of the character profiles and develop the impression that the television show is actual “reality” because they have similar qualities as the characters; or, they may feel as if they should work towards achieving the same features in order to gain love and affection. The mix of perspectives can be dangerous for reality television viewers who watch contestants searching for love. If viewers relate too intensely to the “fabricated” character personalities, they receive a false impression of love. One reality television show that addresses all of these issues is VH1’s “Flavor of Love.” This reality show has been running for three seasons in hopes that Flavor Flav will find his true love. Thus, reality shows, such as “Flavor of Love,” gives specific examples of degrading of women, and portrays stereotypical factors that are often not present in real life situations which in return creates a fabricated television show about searching for love.

“Flavor of Love” stars William Drayton, better known as Flavor Flav, a popular rap star from the group “Public Enemy.” His reality show, however, focuses on finding “true love.” The past three seasons were all filmed at a house in California that must have been a private location because it was on a hill without any neighbors. The producers allowed the girls to live in Flav’s “house” even though it was only rented; hence, “producers located proper settings, participants, and conditions in order to produce a kind of televised experiment…” in order for the show to be successful (Ouellette and Hay 177). Therefore, it is obvious that the girls who wanted to be part of the show, had to agree to live in a location that was not allowed to be undisclosed. This factor already seems unrealistic. The women and the bachelor are not even residing in a familiar location. Even though most reality shows are filmed in an undisclosed location, the difference between “Flavor of Love” and another similar dating show “The Bachelor,” is the fact that Flavor Flav does not fit the typical stereotype of the eligible bachelor on American television because he is petite in stature, thin, and black.

Flavor Flav is probably affluent after being the star of several reality shows and a onetime popular rapper, he is not the picturesque “TV Prince…[with a] firm ass,” but the contestants on his show certainly fulfill the typical stereotype of women (Pozner 99). The majority of the women on all the seasons of “Flavor of Love” were thin and curvy. By having such an abundant amount of girls (25) competing for the love of Flav, it reinforces that women are looked upon for their beauty and not their intelligence (Ponzer 97). Also, the women are not identified by their real names but given nicknames such as “Luscious D” or “Hotlanta.” The reason why they are given nicknames is because Flav stated at the beginning of the season that he was bad at remembering names. However, what is ironic with his statement is if he has difficulty recalling names, how does labeling the women with nicknames make the task of remembering any easier? The use of nicknames further supports the idea that Flav only wants to associate with these girls as sexual objects rather than on personal levels. Girls were often in scandalous dresses during the elimination ceremony, and one event in particular was when the women had to compete by dressing provocative for a calendar—the winner was determined by who took the sexiest picture. When the last several episodes aired, the women were on a boat, and needless to say their miniscule bikinis on their tiny bodies and large breasts were highly visible to the viewers. Especially when one woman told him she would not have sex with him, she was conveniently the one removed from the show on elimination night.

The twist that occurs on “Flavor of Love” when compared to other dating shows is the fact that besides Flavor Flav being black, most of the women are also black. Therefore, the black women are never eliminated completely, a statistic that usually occurs on other reality shows because black women are usually tokenized and kicked off the show quickly (Ponzer 98). Regardless of race, many of the women still personify the archetypes of women from the standard reality show. For instance, “Seezinz,” a woman who was in the final three elimination, often stated she was not there to make friends and nonverbally declared herself to be the “Antagonizer.” The woman Flavor Flav chose to date at the end of season three personified the “Weeper” for a short time, who wondered what she did wrong because she was eliminated about four episodes before the finale and kept repeating “why Flav?” Due to her persistence that she felt as if she had a strong connection, her role actually changed and was brought back onto the show, and won the chance to “date” the man they were competing for from the start of the show.

Another factor that was odd when compared to other dating shows was that Flavor Flav greeted all his former contestants on a reunion show, and after 6 months, the winner, a woman given the nickname “Thing 2,” and Flavor Flav were finally reunited. Unlike reality, when Flavor Flav chose a woman to date, they were not allowed to have visible contact with one another because it would obviously leak who won the TV show before all the episode had time to air. Accordingly, when the two lovers were reunited on the reunion show, Flavor Flav admitted to dating the mother of his child while he was separated from the winner, and after the time
apart, did not want to date the winner of his reality show. Flavor Flav said he realized he had love in front of him the entire time he was participating in his reality show. However, he was not referring to the love on his show, but his child’s mother at home. Therefore, on the reality show, he dumbed Thing 2 and proposed to Liz, his baby's mother. This situation is also unique because Flav’s “true” love was not the same skin color as himself; rather she was a white, large woman. Her physique is completely opposite of the contestants on his reality show. They can be considered “perfect 10’s” because they were pretty, passive, and intellectually unthreatening (Pozner 98).”

The bizarre circumstances at the end of the reunion show became further unraveled in an interview conducted by Vh1, revealing Flav’s truthful feelings regarding season 3 of his show. Flav was asked when the approximate time period was that he decided that he did not want to continue with the reality show. He responded, “I kinda realized it around Flavor of Love 2, but we had to get past Flavor of Love 3. You know what I’m sayin’ and the whole 9? (VH1 2008).” Basically, in so many words, he is admitting that he was not seeking “love” in season 3 and could not break his contract. These aspects of the interview depict the contestants as being naive and foolish, especially the winner, Thing 2. Regardless if she was aware that this was the ultimate outcome, she still seemed humiliated. Basically, the contestants and viewers wasted time participating or watching the program. Many do not feel sorry for the contestants because no one forces these women to appear on reality television (Pozner, 99). However, many women appear on these shows because of what they have watched as a prior viewer. They are drawn to the normative features of the characters in prior seasons and develop a sense of relatedness toward the stereotypical characters. The reality show then depicts “everyday” women as finding true love on television. Since these viewers can relate to the show’s characters, they feel they can also find love, but in reality are being fed an unrealistic impression of the concepts of love.

Overall, “Flavor of Love” seems to follow a pretty typical plot carried out with love and reality television. These individuals are placed a mansion rented by the broadcasting company and filled with characters that are specifically placed together to fit certain roles or cause drama. The characters also fit stereotypical roles based on appearance, using their sexuality to attempt to gain power. However, many of the women who played the role of seductress had this position backfire when they were eliminated (Whitehead 4). The sexual acts and persona these women insinuate give a clouded impression to the viewers of the way a woman should be behave. Also, the personalities of the characters are fabricated to be relatable, giving viewers a false impression of love. Lastly, “Flavor of Love” also follows the not-so-happily-ever-after ideal of reality television by dumping the women he ultimately picked to win. Pozner says it superbly that the chosen girl is dumped and the fairytale of finding true love while filming the reality show for several weeks ultimately dies because fairytales are “not real” (99).

Works Cited
"ADDICTED TO REALITY TV Long Sleeve Mock T-Shirt." This Next. 29 May 2008 .

Jebbicz. "Flavor Flav Proposes on Reunion Show, But Not to Thing 2!" Gravy and Biscuits. 27 May 2008. 29 May 2008 .

Natiuk, David. "Reality TV." Things I Find Funny. 2 May 2008. 29 May 2008 .

Ouellette, Laurie, and James Hay. Better Living Through Reality TV. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008.

Pozner, Jennifer L. "The Unreal World." (2004): 96-99.

"The Celebreality Interview - Flavor Flav." VH1. 26 May 2008. 27 May 2008 .

"Thing 2/Flavor Flav." Flavor of Love World. 2008. 29 May 2008 .

Whitehead, Anna. "Girls, Sexuality, & Popular Culture." The Feminist News Journal (2002).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Blog Post #2-- What's Cheaper? WOMEN OR BEER?!?

When products such as alcohol, cologne, and video games were intended to be bought by men for men, the use of women’s sexuality was exploited in order to advertise the product. Therefore, it is apparent that the products were designed to intrigue heterosexual men even though the products can be universal despite the sexual preference of the buyer. The discussion that follows represents a masculine point of view and clarifies that provocative women are used to sale products based on cultural embodiment of fulfilling the desires of how men will view themselves if they purchase the product.

Sut Jhally, author of “Image-Based Culture: Advertising and Popular Culture,” notes several relevant aspects about advertising. Jhally affirms that advertisements produce false notions of “real people” and therefore, viewers believe a hierarchical status is achievable (250). Thus, advertisement suggests that if the person buys a certain product, such as cologne, the man will be able to attract at least one extremely sexual and beautiful woman. As a result, the hierarchical status is achieved because American culture has currently deemed “beauty” to consist of highly desirable flawless features, as depicted by the men’s advertisements (Kilbourne 260). Therefore, a man who is looking at the P.Diddy advertisement may think that the cologne will bring him one step closer to being similar to P.Diddy in the advertisement who has apparent “control” over a beautiful woman that is pinned against a wall. Or, as the Tom Ford cologne shows, full and sultry breasts will want to be near the man who is wearing the scent. However, take note that the picture does not portray the face of the woman, because her face may imply a personality which is irrelevant to achieving a superficial hierarchical status of beauty because it is not the men who need to look beautiful (remember men only need to smell good, hence the cologne) it is the beautiful woman attracted to the men which in return represents a powerful man. Thus, females used for male advertisements does degrade women because it is the perfection of female’s curvy and fit bodies that is being sexually admired based solely on specific American cultural standards of “beautiful” bodily proportions.

Jhally also makes reference to the fact that as advertisements have progressed in American culture since the mid twentieth century, few words are needed to represent culture if a strong visual image is available for the viewer (250). Nevertheless, male advertisements that are similar to feminine products require many words and explanations to justify that the product is still masculine. For instance, facial products and cleansers by Clinique made especially for men—hence the title “Clinique Men”— are bottled in dark, neutral containers, with clear and simple explanations of the reason why the product is necessary and should be purchased (Kirkham and Weller). Accordingly, beer is a masculine drink and needs no explanation to justify the product since it has been drunk by men for decades. Furthermore, there is a connection between how products are being advertised and how men identify domains in life based on the ads. Beer also sends the message of enjoying the “good life” while consuming the drink, and is tied to “eroticism,” as well (Jhally 251). Thus, beer and sex become united through a masculine point of view as an outcome helix of one leisure activity. Since sexuality also gets attention instantaneously, there can be miniscule debate that most of the beer ads feature sexually desired thin women because men want to associate those aspects to pleasure. Therefore the “sex” that is selling in all of the advertisements is related to images of women who represent sexual pleasure which leads to acquired power for men as they achieve a hierarchical status in American culture.

Works Cited

"Ads for Alcohol." Comparing Sexual Symbolism in the 18th and 20th Centuries. 20 May 2008 .

Dowell, Thomas. "Driving Women Crazy One Can At a Time." Untitled. 4 Mar. 2007. 20 May 2008 .

"Flirt Vodka Sexy Advertisements." Caffeine Marketing. 25 Sept. 2006. 20 May 2008 .

Haines, Lester. "Paris Hilton Burger Cavort Crashes Website." The Register. 24 May 2005. 20 May 2008 .

Jhally, Sut. "Image-Based Culture." Gender, Race, and Class in the Media. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2003. 250-251.

Kilbourne, Jean. "The More You Subtract, the More You Add." Gender, Race, and Class in the Media. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2003. 259-260.

Kirkham, Pat, and Alex Weller. "Cosmetics: a Clinique Case Study." Gender, Race, and Class in the Media. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2003. 269.

"LUST." Center for Interactive Advertising (CiAd). 20 May 2008 .

"Rag Trade: P. Diddy Says You'Ve Been a Bad, Bad Girl... and Smell Like It Too." Jezebel. 20 Apr. 2007. 20 May 2008 .

"Sega Saturn." Game Pro. 2006. 20 May 2008 .

"Tom Ford Pimpin." Curios / Huan. 11 Nov. 2007. 20 May 2008 .

Monday, May 19, 2008

Blog Post #1- Bratz Are Designed For Girls

Using the product line of Bratz Dolls, for females, ages 8-11 years old, several issues were evaluated to decipher if the Bratz Dolls play a role in the gendered socialization of children. The criteria to evaluate the dolls were the following: Do the dolls promote a typical female American stereotype (i.e. what does the doll represent—is it a hairdresser, a teacher, or a police office?); does the doll look like a stereotypical image of an ideal, American female (i.e. tall, slender, curvy, and flawless); is the doll universal to attract male and females in the age group. After identifying the Bratz dolls’ attributes, the dolls fulfilled two of the three specified criteria for being a gendered toy, which results in the judgment that Bratz is a doll for the stereotypical girl. Therefore, the analysis provided will elaborate on the reasoning that Bratz Dolls are normative to the gender roles for American females ages, 8-11.

While searching the “Toy ‘R’ Us” website, it was very easy to categorize what type of toy one was searching for due to the drop down menus simple navigation. Therefore, using the Bratz as a key search word, the toys immediately popped up and an assortment of products could be seen on the main screen. At first glance, the majority of the dolls were in bare midriff shirts, of extremely tight dresses. After picking a few dolls to examine, one in particular was called “Bratz magic hair styling torso.” The doll consisted of only a torso and a head, which was meant for girls to put makeup on the face and the style the doll’s hair. The doll was a stereotypical image of what girls should be playing with: makeup and hair; hence it was influencing girls to use tools that beauty schools would need. Another example was Bratz “Movie Starz-Styling Body.” The styling body doll predicted that girls like using makeup and the description of the doll stated, “Every little girl loves the movie star treatment! Help Yasmin [the doll] by performing a little makeover magic before her big Hollywood debut.” Moreover, girls led to believe by advertisements, such as the Bratz dolls, that clothing and their beauty is important—hence the fact teenage girls spend over $4 billion on cosmetics (Kilbourne 259-260). Thus, again, the image given off by the Bratz doll is that their “female” toys represent the stereotypical image that women should be beautiful by wearing makeup, and should use the Bratz makeup to anticipate their future of being famous, because as the slogan insinuates, “every” girl loves changing their appearance to look flawless like the movie stars at Hollywood events.

It was interesting to discover that under the “boys” category on the Toys “R” Us website, two Bratz dolls were considered to be for males: A Shrek and Spiderman themed doll. Both dolls came with a wearable object—the Spriderman doll had funky shaped sunglasses, and the Shrek doll a headband with horns on it to represent the main character of the movie. What was surprising, however, the Shrek themed doll came with lip gloss, even though it was considered to be for boys. Yet, using the criteria relating to what the Bratz dolls represent, it is clear that some of the dolls represent merely fantasy figures, like super heroes, but under the “girls category” the dolls represent stereotypical images of what girls should aspire to be: beautiful females walking the red carpet. Nevertheless, if they are not on the red carpet, then they should be making the dresses because a Bratz toy also sold is the “sewing machine” and the “knitting machine.”

Continuing with the gender criteria, it was also apparent that the image of the Bratz dolls could be quite controversial. Unlike the blonde hair blue-eyed Barbie Doll, Bratz dolls consist of an array of images with several doll characters being repeated, depending on the product. For example, the doll Yasmin is a stereotypical Latina name and also looks as if she could be Spanish because of her dark features. Yasmin could be used for the fashion line of dolls, and also the makeup line. Cloe, Phoebe, Sasha, Jade, and Dana are also that are repeated throughout the various products, and appear to break the stereotypical appearance since each doll had different colored eyes and hair texture as well. Yet, the physical shape of the doll are trite: large angled eyes with perfect eyelashes, unusually large lips with bright lipstick and lip liner, small petite noses, perfectly even eyebrows, and flawless skin tone. The bodies of the dolls are extremely curvy and thin, long slender legs, and their heads and feet are oversized in comparison to their bodies. Yet, American girls live in a culture that supports slim and “glossy images of flawlessly beautiful” women (Kilbourne 260). Therefore, the disproportionate body of the dolls make it is difficult to decide if their physical shape can be evaluated, but Bratz dolls should at least be applauded for the fact that the array of characteristics depicts a more universal group of dolls which represent a variety of cultures in American since the main dolls do not all have blonde hair.

The last decisive factor measured asked if the Bratz Dolls were universal for both boys and girls. Referencing the previous example of the Shrek and Spiderman themed doll, it does not seem as if boys or girls will find the toys useful without using their imagination to play with the doll. One of the main gimmicks used by Bratz is that they wear a lot of make up and encourage girls to wear the makeup that is sold with the doll. The dolls also promote the buyer to braid their hair, put on fake nails, and dye their hair (or wear a wig) since all the products mentioned are sold with the doll, or sold separately, like the wigs. Therefore, in the American society, boys are looked down upon if they were to wear wigs or have fake nails glued on. Even though some boys have recently been painting their nails black as sign of a punk rocker, they are not influenced to glue on glitter pink nails. As a result from the findings, it is the normative gender role that females use fake nails and lipstick, and therefore, Bratz is not a toy for males.

What is quite interesting is that Bratz Dolls represent the opposite lifestyle of Barbie. None of the dolls are teachers; none of the dolls are astronauts. The dolls are simply toys that represent the stereotypical preteen female, acknowledging the growing presence for the need to learn how to use makeup and dress fashionably. As Mary Roger’s argues in “Hetero Barbie,” it may be true that Barbie represents a bisexual or homosexual lifestyle because Barbie has no family and does not dedicate herself to caring for a family (95). Accordingly, Bratz represents the opposite of the culture Barbie depicts: a heterosexual lifestyle for a young adolescent. Even though both Bratz and Barbie illustrate the anti- feminist culture of being portrayed to be seen as a “girlie girl,” Bratz dolls do not have careers and therefore, fit the heterosexual lifestyle better because they can aspire to be mothers one day since no obstacle, like a career, will stop hinder their natural breeding capabilities.

Recalling the thesis that Bratz Dolls are in fact facilitating the normative gender roles and stereotypes in childhood by sending messages to young girls that they should gear their attention towards cosmetics and physical appearance, it can become quite frustrating to break the norm of dolls sold to American girls. Accordingly, if young girls are being fed messages that they should buying dolls that are being sold to the certain demographic of young girls, then the product will also have an effect on the formulating opinions about gender roles of the young adolescents. Hence, if the girls are buying toys based on the body image of the dolls, then boys will be buying opposite toys, and therefore, both sexes begin to acknowledge what type of product they should continue to consume. The research from Kilbourne and Rogers also emphasizes the fact that culture and stereotypes does influence kids and can affect their attitude towards toys, gender roles, and society. In summarize, the criteria that was used evaluate the dolls pertaining to the American female stereotype shown that the Bratz production line of toys is gender specific towards young girls

Works Cited

"Bratz Movie Starz - Yasmin Styling Body." Toys "R" Us. 2008. 19 May 2008 .

"Bratz Spider-Man Doll." Toys "R" Us. 2008. 19 May 2008 .

Kilbourne, Jean. "The More You Subtract, the More You Add." Gender, Race, and Class in the Media. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2003. 259-260.

Rogers, Mary F. "Hetero Barbie?" Race, and Class in the Media. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2003. 95.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Test Post

This is a test!