Sunday, March 30, 2014

Copyright, Trademark and Ownership

Copyright infringements, ownership and trademark issues are not easy to resolve. There is often a gray area between what is okay to publish and what is not. Sturken and Cartwright state the biggest factor in determining the fair use of property is whether or not the copy is promoting or adding to the original piece. (208) As our society adopts more advanced technologies it is difficult to prove clear copyright violations. Sturken and Cartwright ask the question: How do courts find the difference between transformation and the derivation of a piece of work?
Below is an example post I have written for this discussion. This commercial definitely made me question its intentions and reminded me of the California Celebrities Rights Act of 1984 (207) mentioned in the reading. You do NOT need to answer the questions in my example. 

In 2009, Direct TV released a commercial with David Spade promoting satellite television. The advertisement used a scene from the film Tommy Boy, which caused debate among viewers. Chris Farley's family approved the commercial, making this a case of morality. David Spade and Farley's family defended the commercial; however, people felt it was in poor taste. Is this an issue of exploitation of the dead or a way to honor the late actor's career? Since Farley is synonymous with the character Tommy from the film, does this affect his likeness?
Research an article, court case or issue that interests you! What you post is not limited to legal conflicts, but can touch upon what is morally right or wrong within this week's topic. From a celebrity's likeness/persona to the pros and cons of digital images compared to analog photographic images, there are numerous options to explore. Ask questions to engage others and give your opinion. 
Lone Ranger 

Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. “Copies, Ownership and Copyright.” 204-220. Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University., 2009. Print.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Perspectives on Infographics and The Guerilla Girls

Infographics are an integral part of conveying information within our society and so it is important to know how Infographics can potentially be misleading. From the reading on Infographics, the author explains how charts can lie, and how "even if the original data is good, your graphical representation of the data may not be" (11). Below are two graphs taken from different FOX News broadcasts which show extremely misleading information:
Figure 1 : Misleading Cost of Gas
In Figure 1, we can see how the bottom scale of the graph jumps from last year, to last week, to current. This is by no means an accurate time-frame to make a line graph out of, and so while the graph shows an increase in the cost of gas over time, it really isn't saying anything meaningful in terms of statistical data. Perhaps "last week" had particularly high gas prices, and "current" could mean literally anything from one week later to years later. Not only this, but the Y axis only measures 10 cents per line, making a small increase appear to be a huge jump when it's really not.
Figure 2: Misleading Unemployment Rates
Figure 3: Unemployment Rates with Indicator lines
In Figures 2 and 3, you can see directly with the added lines how the data is not portrayed correctly on the graph, as 8.6% is literally adjacent to 9.0%. In all of these graphs, the creator is manipulating the Y axis to make the change seem more significant than it actually is.

Prompt 1: Misleading Infographics are still a big problem in society, so for discussion, can you find any other examples of ways in which Infographics are being used to portray skewed or false information? In what other ways might Infographics be particularly harmful and/or helpful to society? Could Fox News be misrepresenting the data to promote a certain political ideology?

The Guerrilla Girls is a movement composed of female artists who fight for equality in the art world. Often, the posters they create are meant to incite a certain political or social ideaology pertaining to the status of female artists in a largely patriarchal society. From the reading on Guerrilla Girls, “The famous query by feminist artists and art historians goes, ‘Why haven’t there been more great women artists throughout Western history?’ The Guerrilla Girls want to restate the question: ‘Why haven’t more women been considered great artists throughout Western History?” Below are two Guerrilla Girl images.

Figure 4 - Michele Bachmann

In Figure 4, we see an image of Michele Bachmann with a caption that reads, “Even Michele Bachmann believes we all have the same civil rights” with an equal sign covering her mouth. The overall message seems to be calling for an equality that the person on the poster claims to exist, that clearly doesn’t.

Figure 5 - Guerilla Girl

Figure 5 shows a picture of a nude model wearing a gorilla mask. The caption suggests that women artists are under-appreciated and yet a vast majority of art depicting the naked human body are of women. The implication is then that even in the art world, women are seen as objects in a patriarchal society, something that the Guerrilla Girls aspire to change

Prompt 2: In Figure 4, what do you see as the overall message? Do you think there is something oppressive about the “equal” sign and where it is situated in the image, and if so do you think that it creates something contradictory? In other words, is the implication of “shutting out” Michele Bachmann contradictory of equality in sense of free speech? Feel free to share any other examples images that seem to incite messages of equality, specifically in terms of gender.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Applying Different Theories of the Gaze: bell hooks and Sturken & Cartwright

This week, we are reading bell hooks' "The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators" and Sturken & Cartwright's "Changing Concepts of the Gaze."  Each theorist provides a new insight and outlook on the gaze.  In bell hooks' article, she details the role of black women as spectators, both historically and in today's society.  Sturken and Cartwright's text examines a reversal of the gaze that occurs when men are portrayed as sexual objects.

Prompt 1:
Sturken & Cartwright's "Changing Concepts of the Gaze" states:
Contemporary visual culture involves a highly complex array not only of images and spectators but also of gazes.  Whereas many contemporary advertisements continue to sell products through traditional gender codes by portraying women in demure, seductive poses for a possessive male gaze, other ads play off these traditions by reversing them and showing both the pleasure of looking at men as objects and the power of women in action. (Sturken and Cartwright 133)
The text illustrates how modern media often reverses traditional roles of the gaze. Many films and advertisements turn men into sexualized objects and subsequently give women power as the gazers.
Figure 1: Movie Still from Magic Mike
Retrieved from: New York Times' Website 
Consider the film Magic Mike. One could argue that Magic Mike defies the concept of the traditional male gaze.  In the movie, Magic Mike's entire body is on display while he's dancing provocatively for the females surrounding him.  His character is ultimately subject to the gaze, as myriad women fawn over his physique. 

For this prompt, we propose that you find another example of a movie, commercial, or advertisement that contradicts the traditional concept of the male gaze. Please post your findings and discuss how they reverse the stereotypical male gaze.  You could also further examine Magic Mike as an example.

Figure 2: Magic Mike Film Trailer
Retrieved from: YouTube 

Prompt 2:
Figure 2: Man with Raw Steaks
Retrieved from: NY Daily News

This image is of a muscular man with multiple raw steaks on a plate looking directly at his viewers. In "Changing Concepts of the Gaze," it says that "contemporary theories that engage with issues of race, ethnicity, and sexuality as factors in the construction of the gaze allow for much more nuanced understandings of the processes of identification with the image and the complex ways in which images interpellate spectators" (Sturken and Cartwright 136).  This man's gaze can represent several things to many different people as suggested above.  Think from the perspective of either a vegetarian, an elderly woman, or a homosexual male.  What might his gaze mean?  Is it effective in advertising the meat?  How might this image be different if the gaze was on the meat instead of the viewer?

bell hooks, “The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators,” The Feminism and Visual 
Culture Reader, ed. Amelia Jones. London: Routledge, 2003. 94-105. Print.

Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. “Changing Concepts of the Gaze.” Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ., 2009. 130-136. Print.

Blog Post:
Brittany Andersen and Kayola Davis-Tabb

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Act of Looking: Difference, Representation, and Male Gaze in Media

Gaze and it's effects on the viewer is the subject for this week's readings, with a link to the MissRepresentation film in regards to how women are treated. The reading explains gaze, stating it “helps to establish relationships of power...awarding more power to the person who is looking than the person who is the object of the look.” (111) Being the viewer of the image grants authority over that which they are looking at, but also gaze within an image creates situations of dominance

There is a long tradition in art of understanding the female nude as the project and possession of the male artist. In these paintings, the women are posed as objects of an active or ‘male’ gaze, and their returning looks are more often downcast, indirect, or otherwise coded as passive.” (123-124)

1) The following Calvin Klein ad, a classic representation of male gaze in media, features three men fondling a nearly nude woman. In this image, male fantasies of domination are projected on to a passive female, successfully asserting the prominence of male perspective in our culture.

Figure 1, Calvin Klein jeans advertisement
Retrieved from:

Please respond to at least one of any of the following questions regarding Figure 1:

  • In systems of representation, meaning is established through difference” (111).
Only the men in the image are wearing the advertised jeans. What do you believe is the implication/purpose of this “difference?” What do you have to say about the ad’s disparities in representation--there being 3 men and only 1 woman? Does this say something about the ad’s intended audience?

  • The act of looking is commonly regarded as awarding more power to the person who is looking than to the person who is the object of the look” (111).
Who are we forced to focus on in this image--the three male figures, or the single female figure? Who is “looking” and who is the “object of the look?” What do you think this aesthetic choice says about gender roles, power and representation? Feel free to also draw on past readings such as Bordo’s "The Empire of Images", discussions we have had in class and on the blog, and the documentary we watched, Miss Representation.

2) “In systems of representation, meaning is established through difference.”(pg. 111) Essentially everything we understand about representation comes from knowledge of one side and basing the other side on it's opposite (in the sense that we know what culture is because it is the opposite of nature, or what Eastern countries are like because they are the opposite of our own Western ideologies).
I would like you, the viewer, to consider the following picture.

Figure 2, Opposite Sides (Illustration by Malcolm Evans from

From understanding only one side of the picture, we start to make generalized assumptions of the other side. These assumptions translate into stereotypes, and eventually, these become common ways of viewing these opposite side (here, “white” or western culture versus eastern culture). Instead of ask your opinion on this, I implore you to look over your initial thoughts on images of other countries, cultures, and people different from you (that I ask you put here). What are these thoughts and where do you think they stem from? (I am asking you to open up a bit and be honest about your own possible bias toward other cultures, and explore possibilities as to why and how to correct them)

Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. “The Gaze and the Other.” Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ., 2009. 111-120. Print.

Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. “Gender and the Gaze.” 123-136 Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ., 2009. 123-129. Print.