XXY-Lucía Puenzo

XXY tells the story of an intersex girl named Alex. The film discusses gender identity and sexuality in a coming of age story. It makes a statement on how gender is not determined by physical attributes but instead by the person and who they feel they are.

Alex throughout the movie challenges gender norms and what it means to be a woman. In one scene she decides to stop taking her medication that stops testosterone, telling her mother she’s tired of taking it and pretending. Throughout the movie Alex struggles with trying to accept her body and tries to find herself. Everyone around her debates over whether or not she should get surgery. Her mother, the plastic surgeon, and the surgeons wife all discuss whether or not it would be best for her to get the surgery or not. Alex’s father is the only one who realizes that it is her body and her identity that she needs to discover. The scenes with Alvaro and Alex discuss sexuality and whether or not genetalia equates to gender. Alvaro struggles with questioning whether or not he’s gay if he had sex with Alex even though she is a girl. The movie discusses important topics on gender identity and sexuality throughout the movie.

Do you think the movie accurately portrayed struggles with gender identity and sexuality?

Miss Representation and the Bachelor

Miss Representation is a documentary on the representation of women in media and society today. It discusses important topics such as hypersexualization, the perpetuation of female stereotypes, and the lack of taking women seriously. The same way the documentary examines popular media and society can be used on the media seen in class, especially the Bachelor.

The Bachelor is a good example of reality televison and its representation of women. Women on the Bachelor are typically oversexualized and expected to compete against each other based on looks, personality, and other features that would make them the “ideal wife.” The women on the show fight against each other to win their engagement to the one man, the bachelor. They are expected to look sexy and beautiful and to act in a way that will win over the bachelor. This representation perpetuates the objectification and hypersexualization of women, as well as the standards and stereotypes placed on women in society. At the same time, there is a very unifying and supportive feeling to the show, especially the episode watched in class. The women stood by each other and supported each other against the bachelor and his decision to go back on an engagement and propose to another woman. There are positive and negative aspects in the Bachelor when looking at it the way Miss Representation examines popular media.

How does reality television perpetuate the stereotypes and hypersexualition of women in media?

The Bachelor

Becca is announced as the Bachelorette_1520424708412.png_13505769_ver1.0

The Bachelor is a reality TV show geared towards women, which is apparent throughout.  The sets are composed of what are traditionally thought of as feminine things such as roses, candles, and other small decorations.  The women on the show have a strong relationship together and support each other through their tough times, as seen in the finale episode.  The host also makes a reference to “Bachelor Nation”, which is the intimate public sphere that formed around the show.

After Arie’s decision to retract his engagement to Becca and instead propose to Lauren, the other women on the show rallied behind Becca to support her.  They also said they had no anger or hate towards Lauren, only that they hope it works out for her and that she is happy.  The “Bachelor Nation” also rallied behind Becca, raising money and sending her messages of support.  This intimate public sphere gives those in it a sense of belonging and support.  Even though the Bachelor is a reality TV show, the sense of belonging and support it provides people is significant.  The representation and example of women standing up for each other and supporting one another is also significant and should not be discounted because the show is part of pop culture.  Media from pop culture can have even more significance and impact on people than classic media.  Cultural references, like the premise of the Bachelor, are known by most people and can be heard in everyday conversation.  People can relate to characters and people in pop culture just as much as they can in classic media.  The intimate public sphere that comes with pop culture is also very important and is something that classic media can sometimes lack.  The concept of a “Bachelor Nation” is not something you could find easily for a classic piece of literature or other piece of media.  Pop culture is a living and breathing entity, an intimate public sphere, and is there to support those who need it.  People are able to find a sense of connection, belonging, and support from pop culture.

How has pop culture influenced you?  Is there any intimate public sphere that you feel you are part of?

Born Into Brothels – Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman


Born Into Brothels is a documentary on Zana Briski’s experience of teaching photography to the children living in the brothels of the redlight district in Calcutta, India.  The documentary shows the daily lives of the children and what their environment is like.  It also discusses the issues the children face, such as getting closer to the age where they are put on the line, absent parents, and other forms of abuse.  The photography Briski teaches them allows the children to have an outlet and form of expression.  The documentary discusses the effects human trafficking can have on children and the importance of having something to look forward to when there is nothing else.

The scene in which Briski takes all the children to the beach shows the positive effects of the photography.  By having an outlet and way to express themselves, the children are able to have something to look forward to and be happy about, even if their day to day lives are hard.  At the beach, the children are all having fun and are excited to get out out the redlight district where they live.  On the way back home they are still enjoying themselves on the bus, but once they have to walk back home there is a sense of dread and unhappiness from the scene.  The viewer can easily feel the tenseness that comes from the children having to return home to their everyday lives.  Throughout the documentary there is a tenseness and worry about what will happen to these children if they do not get out of the redlight district.  The documentary also discusses the issue faced by those in the redlight district, the lack of money and opportunities due to their place of residence and current occupations.  It was very hard for Briski to get the children into boarding schools, because no one would accept the children of prostitutes.  These families are being forced into a cycle of poverty and are unable to get anywhere due to the restrictions and limitations placed on them.  Born Into Brothels is a harsh awakening to the issues of human trafficking and the lives of the children that have to live in it.

What was your reaction to the end of the documentary, reading the updates on the children’s situations?

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Como Agua Para Chocolate – Alfonso Arau


Como Agua Para Chocolate or Like Water for Chocolate is a Mexican film about freedom and shaking away the binds that hold us from being happy.  Throughout the film, Tita is tortured by the family tradition upheld by her mother that the last child will not marry and take care of their parents until their death.  After the death of her mother, Tita is finally free from her suffocating grasp and able to live how she wants, even if it is not with her true love, Pedro.  The movie shows how much influence family can have on us, especially with Tita’s mother haunting her even after her death.  The movie also shows the strong influence other women can have on our lives, such as the influence Nacha, Chencha, and her sister’s Gertrudis and Rosaura had on Tita.

Tita’s relationship with her mother was a complicated one.  She had both love and hate and for her mother, after being forced not to marry her true love Pedro and watching him be married to her sister, Rosaura.  She carried this trauma with her through and after her mother’s death, plagued with the idea that she was doing something wrong by being in love with him.  The family tradition that caused this to happen is constricting and unfair to the youngest daughter, and watching Rosaura say that Ezperanza will have the same fate as her, angered Tita greatly.  Throughout the film, the influences of Nacha and Chencha on Tita are shown.  They help Tita through her troubles and give her the strength to go on.  Tita learns to cook from Nacha, finding a way to express her love to Pedro, and she always has a confidant and friend in Chencha.  Tita’s sister, Gertrudis, also shows Tita to be free and live her life how she wants.  Gertrudis runs away with a revolutionary soldier, later becoming a general and married to the soldier she ran away with.  Gertrudis followed what made her happy without any fear and always wanted Tita to do the same, ultimately helping Tita tell Pedro about the pregnancy and her love for him.  The women in Tita’s life helped shape who she is and would influence generations of family.

Were you influenced by any strong female figures in your life?

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Blue is the Warmest Color (2013) – Abdellatif Kechiche

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Blue is the Warmest Color follows the story of Adèle and her journey to figure out her sexuality.  She falls in love with a painter named Emma and finally feels secure in her sexuality, even though she doesn’t reveal it to others.  The movie shows the trouble that LGBTQ+ people go through when trying to figure out their sexuality and identity.  It shows the homophobia others can have, as well as the bittersweetness of love and heartbreak.  As a French film, it allows one to see that the troubles of women and LGBTQ+ people are similar around the world.

Worldwide, people are able to relate to the themes of love and heartbreak.  The story of Adèle and Emma is a common one, two people fall in love, grow apart, and break up.  Regardless of their gender and sexuality, their story is a universal one.  The homophobia Adèle experiences in high school is also another aspect of the movie to which many can relate.  Non-Western films offer many different perspectives on global feminism, and can also show the similar issues faced.  It allows for intersectionality and the coming together of people worldwide.  The ability to hear more than one story on a topic allows for the removal of stereotypes and assumptions.  Seeing Adèle’s story on her struggle with her sexuality was an uplifting one.  A lot of media is not about LGBTQ+ people and does not tell their stories.  Representation is important in media, as it combats the idea of a single story and the stereotypes that comes with it.  Seeing the homophobia thrown at Adèle by her classmates shows an accurate depiction of what most LGBTQ+ people go through in their life.  The struggles of homophobia, as well as the universal story of love and heartbreak of Emma and Adèle allow Blue is the Warmest Color to contribute to the representation of LGBTQ+ people and women around the world.

How can representation in the media help the viewer?

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Screenshot from movie


Cultural Criticism and Transformation, Orientalism- bell hooks and Edward Said




In Cultural Criticism and Transformation, bell hooks is interviewed about many topics, including pop culture, the impact representation has, and the motivation and construction of works.  She is also interviewed on some popular figures such as Madonna, Spike Lee, and O.J. Simpson.  hooks speaks heavily on the impact the media has on race, gender, and sexuality.  Overall, hooks speaks on the impact the media and its hidden intentions has on people.

Pop culture and media are heavily consumed by the world, and are some of the main ways people obtain information and develop ideas or opinions.  bell hooks talks about the impact this has on people when media perpetuates white supremacy and raises white male voices, while suppressing others.  She also discusses the impact capitalism, greed, and white supremacy can have on those who wish to combat these notions.  For example, hooks describes Madonna and her descent from a feminist icon to placating her audience with oversexualized content that would earn her more money.  She also discusses the fact that no one spoke about Madonna’s blatant racism because it was not a hot topic and would not make money.  hooks also speaks about Spike Lee and how he is seen as a failure due to the fact that white people only like to see movies about black people that are made viewable and interesting for them.  For example, hooks talks about Crooklyn and the review by white critics saying it had no plot, when in reality the plot was simple and white viewers just did not care enough to understand it.  Upholding, praising, and funding white male artists while suppressing other artists and calling them failures is an example of white supremacy.  In the interview, hooks also discusses movies with violence towards women, such as Kids, making a point on how if enough of this media is consumed, violence is normalized.  Overall, hooks makes a point on the importance of knowing who is making media, the intentions they had, and the impact it has on us as consumers.

The excerpt from Orientalism by Edward Said discusses the issue with Western Supremacy and the impact is has on the rest of the world.  Colonialism and white supremacy separated the East and West, the Orient and the Occident.  From the separation came a sense of supremacy from the West in thinking that their cultures were better and far more advanced.

The Western supremacy discussed in the excerpt is one of the main reasons of colonialism.  Said discusses how this idea that the West is superior to the East created terms like “third world.”  In the excerpt, Said speaks on how the West is European countries and other eurocentric places.  Overall, the idea of Western, and in turn European, supremacy has harmed the East, as well as other countries.  Both are divided into broad umbrella terms, required to speak for the multiple cultures in each.  The West and the East are defined by what they are not, the East being separate and different from the West and it’s “superior” cultures, while the West is not the East with its more “exotic” cultures.

From both pieces we learn about the importance of being aware of where stories come from, how they are written, who they are written for, and the impact these stories have on us.  Being aware of white supremacy, the purposeful suppression of voices, and the media we watch, read, and listen to is vital as a consumer.  Without knowing it, these works can impact us greatly, sometimes in negative ways.

What are some examples of media that play into the same ideas bell hooks discussed?

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The Humanism Of Edward Said.