Assignment #9 Women’s Representation in Current Television

“Girls” and “Orange is the New Black” are both created by fearless, revolutionary, and commanding women, Lena Dunham and Jenji Kohan respectively. Both shows have found success in new and less regulated formats of media such as online distribution through Netflix and premium cable outlet HBO. What makes these shows what they are? The women behind the scripts and production. In television men have dominated the voices of the opposite sex, projecting their ‘perfect version’ of a woman. Miss Dunham and Mrs. Kohan have broke the chains confining ‘real women’ from television since the dawn of the mediums inception. Even HBO’s ‘Sex and the City’ was created by a gay man but still a man. I’m sure Darren Star’s voice didn’t completely mesh with a majority of women watching the show.

The premier of ‘Girls’ second season is Lena Dunham’s response to critics reactions to the first season, as well as containing an ending which consists of a long shot of Lena Dunham nude and ready to participate in intercourse with her ‘Black Republican boyfriend’. I believe this ending was a big ‘f$&$ you’ to critics of the show and the Internet for observing the lack of ‘minorities’ in the show. Dunham also in the episode switches the roles of the normal girl sub servant to boy she is ‘seeing’ by making the boy fragile and dependent on her character’s strength to take care of him. “Girls” is a definite game changer for women in television and in media in general.

“Orange is the New Black” has allowed the voices of non-white, non-naiive women of differing backgrounds to share a space in entertaining television. Characters such as Taystee, Red, Boo, Gloria, etc. would have never seen the spotlight on them on “normal television”. The prison setting is perfect for the talented women who have finally been given a chance to shine.

Assignment #8 “The Visitor”

The highly praised film “The Visitor” directed by Thomas McCarthy is truly understated in its elegance. The film deals with social themes still fundamental in a post 9/11 world. The crisis of immigration and its impact on the people who are effected by its tragic consequence. To never be able to see a loved one again over a piece of paper that affirms you as a person, is cruel and senseless. The audience is able to see the pain of this reality beautifully in “The Visitor”. Tareq’s deportation to “his country” after years of assimilating and personalizing his American experience is heartbreaking, especially when the audience bares witness to Zainab’s reaction towards the news. The film focuses on trying to pick up the pieces after the loss of a loved one. The main character, Walter died along with his wife but was rejuvenated through the shared experiences and connections made with Tarek, Tarek’s mother, and Zainab.

Penny Arcade & Steve Zehentner

Penny Arcade and Steve Zehentner’s collaborations are inspiring to me. Their combined efforts construct a magnificent vision of free expression led by luminous ranting by Penny Arcade. Bitch!Dyke!Faghag!Whore! Is a performance of free expression at its most personal and intimate level. I admire Penny Arcade’s willingness to ‘put it all out there’ and the shows ability to expand internationally.

Penny Arcade has constructed a plethora of media content along with Steve Zehentner’s technical prowess in film production. They stated that their shared values play a major part in their artistic collaboration. Penny is the concept/idea/detail person, while Steve organizes her visions into something tight nit and polished to make the pieces connect to the audience visually. I respect the fact that both Penny and Steve are self-made professionals who are able to do the work they want to do and contribute to society in a profound personal manner.

The L.E.S. Bio Project created by Penny Arcade and Steve Zehentner, shines a light on individuals within the community that stray from the crowd and contribute to society the way they truly want to. An Avant Garde filmmaker, ‘Mother of the Community’, activist, experimental artist, lead singer, and theater director are just some of the subjects of these documentary shorts that highlight the personal authenticity of these rare individuals within the community and society as a whole.

Assignment #2 “Gangs of New York”: The Loss of Innocence

The period film “Gangs of New York” directed by Martin Scorsese , released in 2002, depicts America, more specifically the tenements of New York right before America’s Reconstruction Era, during the Civil War between the North and the South. The film’s central character, “Amsterdam” Vallon, the son of “Priest” Vallon, played by actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Liam Neeson respectively, is transformed in the beginning of the film which takes place in 1846, 16 years before the Civil War (1861-1865), in the midst of a battle amongst his father’s “gang” or sect consisted of Irish Immigrants and outcasts  called the “Dead Rabbits” and his rival Bill “The Butcher” Cutting’s gang “The Natives” composed of true Americans who are taking it upon themselves to rid their country of immigrants and their differing beliefs.

The scene I chose to analyze begings at 11:34 into the film “Gangs of New York” which is right after Bill Cutting softly butcher “Priest” Vallon, all the while “Amsterdam” as a child witnesses the account of his father’s slaying. The shot at 11:34 is of a fallen “Priest”  who is focused on in a close up on a backdrop of blood trickled snow as the back of “Amsterdam”s” head and body covers the left side of the frame. The snow is wisely used as a symbol for “Amsterdam’s” innocense which is lost at the sight of his father’s death. This scene continues with “Priest Vallon” placing his blood stained hand on his son’s almost pale white face, symbolizing the evil and death that “Amsterdam” will face throughout the film. At 12:02 into the film, the scene continues with “Priest” telling Bill to “Finish it” after telling “Amsterdam” “Don’t never look away” which leads to the catalyst of the movie, the vengeance for “Priest” Vallon. All three characters are connected by touch in the close up which leads to a low angle shot of “The Butcher” ending “Priest’s” life.

The scene is integral to the film’s central plot of revenge at the behest of “Amsterdam’s” character for his father because it depicts the incident that leads to the abandonment of “Amsterdam’s” childhood, which is symbolically shown through “Hell’s Gate Institution”, the detention center his character is sent after the death of his father.

Assignment #1 Edison & Early Cinema Mouloud Neggaz

In regards to Thomas A. Edison and the origins of cinema, he was an ultimate opportunist who believed in the medium’s ability to attract an audience and make a profit in the process. After all it is Thomas A. Edison who developed “The first commercially successful modern motion picture system…” according to the film “Edison: The Invention of the Movies”. Edison approached and worked alongside William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, his co-inventor. Edison developed the film’s potential through the addition of sound by working with Edward Muybridge and his invention the zoopraxiscope, which was an early form of a projector. Edison combined his phonograph, which recorded and reproduced sound as stated in the documentary “Edison: The Invention of the Movies”, with Muybridge’s zoopraxiscope to introduce the concept of image and sound synchronicity or the primitive version of a film.

After 1888, Edison dominated the film market for about 4 years, further enhancing technical aspects of the film-making process by investing in inventions that have left a last impact on the industry and culture of society en masse.

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