Assignment #9: Women’s Representation in TV


To start, I absolutely love Orange is the New Black. I’ve watched both seasons more than once, and I think the show itself is incredible. Before I speak about the roles that these women portray, I just wanted to point out that the characters are not average supermodels. While shows like Sex and the City and Friends focus on skinny, fashionable women such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Jennifer Anistion, Orange is the New Black is more realistic. There are big women, old women, black women, and Hispanic women. There are lesbians, transgenders, and cellulite; something that was unheard of at one point is now more acceptable than ever.


Now to answer how the women in these shows are portrayed have changed the playing field in television. For starters, these shows have taken the pressure off for women who think they have to be in the shadows of men. We live in a patriarchal society, but programs like  and Orange is the New Black show independent women who are in control. Of course every story line has to be interesting to have an audience, and these shows include male figures that are vital to these women, but at least men are not the main focus. The show Girls is not just about Lena Dunham’s character having to decide who she wants to be with, there’s more important things she deals with, such as life. Life in New York, and how difficult it can be. Or the other character who was fired from her job and was basically going through a mid-life crisis. I think both shows try to steer away from the typical ‘finding the right guy’ and go towards ‘surviving in life as a woman’.


Assignment #5: Iris by Jessica Gonzalez


Last week, we watched the documentary ‘Iris’ by Albert Maysles. And it was very entertaining, despite the common idea that all documentaries are usually boring. After reading the review that the New York Times wrote about Iris, I agreed with them for the most part.They summarized her early life in two sentences; writing that she married her husband Carl, “with whom she ran a textile company and engaged in extreme globetrotting.” They failed to mention that she helped recreate designs in the White House for different presidents. A textile company is hardly the word for what she did with her husband. She was an interior designer, and a business woman. I think mentioning that she and Carl worked with Jackie O (and had trouble with her) is definitely significant and should have been mentioned in the article. And she was different from the beginning. I remember her mentioning in the documentary that she would badger a poor salesman to let her buy a pair of jeans, because women were looked down upon for wearing pants back then. And finally she convinced him to sell her a pair. Now in my opinion, this is the ‘Ideal New Yorker.’ Someone who doesn’t take no for an answer. Iris also wasn’t afraid to show off her sense of fashion and doesn’t hold her tongue. In an interview, she stated that she doesn’t have any style icons: “Years ago I was influenced by my mother who was extremely chic and by Pauline de Rothschild and Millicent Rogers. Nobody is original anymore. Nobody has any original style.” And when I read that I was shocked, because she is considered a fashion icon, and she can still make controversial comments against the fashion industry like that and get away with it; simply for the fact that she’s right.


Her obsession with collecting countless accessories and clothes is not the ideal past time for a rich matron. Instead she created a life where she can be happy and influence the fashion industry at the same time. For me personally, I think she worked hard with her husband as both an interior designer and a business woman who deserves the lifestyle she has now. She is the example of the American Dream. She worked hard for her money; as did her husband, and she got to travel with luxury. And look what she sacrificed in order to do that! She chose not to have kids, because she already knew that she would not be able to fulfill a child’s needs with the busy life she had. And her husband was completely devoted to her; we saw him wearing crazy designs on his pants and a bejeweled red hat that he wore proudly as well. What stood out about their marriage is how much they cared for each other, and how important they are to each other. Iris didn’t even want to mention to Carl that she had previously broken her hip; the love they have for each other is extremely rare now.

All in all, I believe this documentary was amazing, and the majority of reviews were positive and agreeable. Iris is definitely one of a kind.

Assignment #4: Hester Street by Jessica Gonzalez

Assimilation is the process of adapting or adjusting to the culture of a group or nation,or the state of being so adapted.


With that being said, New York City’s lower east side should have been considered its own country, with the amount of different people that had arrived from all around the world. And each new person that did arrive to this foreign place, had to adjust to a completely different life. In the film Hester Street, Gitl and her six year old son arrive from Europe to reunite with her husband, Yekl. Who now calls himself Jake. I think this is the first example of adapting to a new country, in which you change your name, and I believe that once you step foot in a new country, everything changes.


Jake immediately adapts, cuts off his hairs, and shaves his beard which is not traditional for Orthodox Jewish men. And he goes straight to work, and makes money and becomes involved with Mamie, another immigrant who came at the age of 16 and adjusted quickly as well. Jake has immediately given up all his roots, and acknowledges himself as an American, or a ‘Yankee’. Gitl, on the other hand, does not adjust so quickly. She refuses to show her real hair to anyone who is not her husband, and wears a traditional dress that does not reveal anything. It even seemed like she was uncomfortable talking to Bernstein, because he was not her husband and it seemed disrespectful. Gitl does not assimilate as fast as Jake wants her too.

Fix Yourself Uphhh

Bernstein has not been in Lower East Side for very long, but he has chosen not to assimilate. He has his traditional yamaka, he has a beard and hairs, and he reads and studies the Torah. He’s not married, but he chooses not to be involved with just any girl, he believes in a traditional wife who shares his beliefs. He is much different than Jake, and doesn’t adjust easily with how different life is in America.


In general, the Russian/Jewish traditions and values of the ‘Old Country’ are far different from the ones in America. In the ‘old country’ life is simple, and you stick to your roots and there are no questions or hesitations. In America, a student can become a teacher without anyone’s approval. The idea is that you can be anyone you want to be and you can believe anyone you want to, and there is no punishment. In the beginning, Jake and Mamie are introduced to a new immigrant who has just arrived and is clearly shaken; they do not speak Yiddish immediately, and Mamie makes it a point that she “almost forgot” what it’s like to speak it. Jake only speaks Yiddish because the immigrant obviously doesn’t understand English. And same goes for when his wife arrives although he makes a point to make sure that she’s going to learn English right away.

Since we are discussing assimilation, I thought I would write my own input on how it has affected my family.

Personally, it is extremely difficult to stick to your culture and your roots in America, because no one else follows what you follow and I learned that growing up with immigrant parents. It’s rough to go to school and participate and be social when you’re not accustomed to what the “norm” is in the United States are. Living in a small town in Florida, I knew that it would be different for me. I would bring food to school and people had no idea what I was eating, because my mom came from Poland when she was 30, and cooked traditional polish meals. Stuffed cabbage and white borscht was far different from your average peanut butter and jelly. In the polish church, the priest was supposed to put the Host (bread) on your tongue, you were not allowed to touch it whatsoever. In American catholic churches, the priest put the bread right in your hands.

I do have to add that it wasn’t so difficult for me as it was for my mother, who to this day will still ask me what a word means. I’ve adjusted, as has my entire family. But I will repeat myself when I say how difficult it is to grow up in America, with parents who are not from here. (As a side note, my father came here from Mexico when he was 18 years old, and became Ramon instead of Refugio, which was his given name. He explained that it was easier for people to pronounce.)

Assignment #3: Regeneration by Jessica Gonzalez

After watching the film Regeneration, I thought that the world that both Owen and Skinny were a part of life that was incredibly rough, as they both seemed to be living dangerous lifestyles. This film was made in 1915, and it was in fact a completely different world. Hygiene and medicine in general were not as advanced as it is today, and living conditions were not great in certain areas.

Owen in love

Owen’s mother died when he was 10, leaving him as an orphan (as it doesn’t seem he had a father) and this was typical to lose people early because modern medicine wasn’t around. Owen was then taken in by a couple next door, and didn’t have much of a positive upbringing. A child’s mind will absorb everything. When you see your “foster father” drink aggressively and constantly while abusing your “foster mother” or seeing violence in general, something will eventually stay inside your mind, and you’ll grow up believing that what you saw was considered normal.

Owen Cafe' scene

Which eventually was the reason why he grew up living on the streets, and became the person he was. Being in a gang, drinking, gambling, which were all negative factors. It was only when he saw Marie Deering that he decided to change his ways. This was a socialite, someone who had class and gave you the impression that you weren’t worth her time. Yet instead she was the complete opposite. She gave Owen a chance to view life from a different perspective. She taught him how to read and write, and her beauty mesmerized him to the point that he wanted to impress her and make her be proud of someone like him.

Regeneration 2 images

Like any realistic situation, there was always a chance that Owen could go back to his dark past, which at one point he did and lied to Marie when it came to Skinny, and covering for him as a favor. But Marie had such a pure heart that she forgave him. I believe that this was the point that Owen had been saved, because although he screwed up, he would’ve easily been thrown out of Marie’s life. And he wasn’t. I don’t think he understood what forgiveness was, and perhaps he didn’t expect to be forgiven. But she did, and that’s what made him realize that he always wanted to be good from that point. In other words, he wasn’t treated badly anymore, someone finally saw the good in him.


Skinny, who we did not get much  background information from, I assume had the same upbringing as Owen. As did many immigrants or children of immigrants did in that time period. The reason that Skinny did not survive like Owen was that he always chose crime over a fresh start. And personally, I wouldn’t blame him because if you only grow up knowing a certain lifestyle, the chances of changing it so dramatically is rare. You have to make an effort, which he did not want to do. When there are limited opportunities, you stick with what you’re good at. And I don’t think there was anyone in his life who he thought believed in him.


In conclusion, I think that Owen had someone positive who was able to save him from a dangerous lifestyle which eventually would have led to his death. Had Marie not shown him life in a different way, the ending would be different. As for Skinny, who didn’t have the same opportunity, unfortunately he died living life the only way he knew how.

Assignment #2 Gangs of New York by Jessica Gonzalez

blog pic

The scene I chose to blog about was when Bill the Butcher viciously murdered Walter “Monk” McGinn, in public, and no one stopped him. In the scenes leading up to his death, Monk was running for the local sheriff position in the Five Points, and Boss Tweed had supported him in hopes that the entire Irish community would vote, and ultimately win over the Butcher.

Boss Tweed is the head of Tammany Hall, which was the Democratic Party in New York. Although Tweed was actually being controlled by the Butcher. The Butcher is extremely hateful towards immigrants, especially Irish men, and if it were his way, there wouldn’t be any of them in New York. So to go back to the main point, the Butcher viewed Monk as a threat, seeing that Monk was an Irishman who had the majority of the vote and would allow immigrants to continue to live and stay in New York.

Boss Tweed actually approached Amsterdam himself and wanted Monk to run and wanted Monk to win. Amsterdam was the son of Monk’s mercenary, the Priest. The both of them were prominent figures in the Dead Rabbits. Monk actually ended up winning by a landslide, which aggravated the Butcher.


In the scene, the Butcher challenges Monk outside his barber shop. When Monk says that they should go inside and “resolve this in a democratic way”, he goes to turn his back, and Bill throws a butcher knife into Monk’s back. He then takes Monk’s club and kills him.


I believe the main themes in this movie are loyalty and betrayal and vengeance among others. The main focus here was vengeance for the Butcher towards Monk for defeating him, and him not being able to accept this as the final answer.

Assignment 1 – Jessica Gonzalez

There are many opinions about Thomas Edison, but one person can argue that he was goal oriented in the least. I think his vision for the kinetograph and the kinetoscope was based on the influence that had started in Europe. Edison had recalled innovators such as Eadweard Muybridge who was famous for the horse photography, as well as Parisian Ettienne-Jules Mary who had also studied recording animals and experimenting with motion. Edison saw a potential future with this, and decided to go with it. He and William Kennedy Laurie Dickinson (an assistant) decided to construct a device for recording movement on film, and another for viewing the film. Basically, I believe that Edison wanted this new vision to serve as a new outlook of life. Before cinema, people had to perform live and taking a photograph was simple, but there was a rather difficult process to actually developing these pictures.

All in all, Edison was an intelligent man, who cared about money which made complete sense because everyone wants to make it big in life. I think that because Edison was so far ahead of his game, he took advantage of cinematography, and later initiated rivalries and competitions. He also took advantage of others to get ahead, but I believe he knew that patents were needed; they are extremely important, and he didn’t want anyone else taking his credit. Because he knew that he had competition, he obtained patents, and tried to intimidate other companies who wanted to copy him by coercion. He felt threatened and instead turned it onto other people in order to ensure that it was known that he was in grandfather of all inventions and that he was a genius.