UBC Supplemental Application – Media Studies

My first piece explores the concept of cultural rebellion. After consistently being told that my “naive thoughts” were unrealistic because I was “only a child”, I found myself doubting my own beliefs and turning a blind eye to the issues that angered me the most. Comparing this to Southeast Asian cultures that have elevated the status of the child in their families, I was inclined to create a piece that rebelled against Western ageism. I did this by painting an infant monkey caged within its own silhouette in front of a wall of childish yet rebellious graffiti.

My second piece also follows this theme of rebellion in a cultural context. I used steel wool to create trails of light using long exposure techniques. This photographic piece was created with the intention of highlighting the ‘dark’ underground culture of Germany that is often neglected and silenced in day-to-day German life. Because Germans pride themselves of their cleanliness and orderliness, my hope with this piece is to literally shine light on a more rebellious aspect of German culture, such as its graffiti scene, that through its charm makes Germany less robotic and more human.

My last portfolio piece is different from my other pieces in the sense that it is a writing sample. In this essay, I analyze the social impact an Intel advertisement has on our modern society. Using language as a means of analysis, I have deconstructed the advertisement to highlight the unjust representation of certain social groups, namely women and the Negroid race. Through my writing, I have not only heightened my overarching theme of “rebellion” by advocating for the unbiased representation of certain social groups in mainstream media, but I have also raised questions as to how the media should be used to reflect our social responsibility.

How and why is a social group represented in a particular way?

Word Count: 299

 

 

How and why is a social group represented in a particular way?

Prescribed Question: How and why is a social group represented in a particular way?

Task Focus:

This essay focuses on the marginalization of social groups, namely the Negroid race and women, as a result of the release of an Intel advertisement. With this advertisement, I wanted to discuss the oppression of these social groups with reference to the rudimentary visual and textual expressions of the text.

Such analysis has allowed me to raise questions as to how the Negroid race should or should not be represented in the media. After visually deconstructing this advertisement to deduce how the Negroid race was being represented, I used the same knowledge to further explore why the Negroid race was being represented the way it was. Additionally, I also used my visual analysis of the advertisement to highlight the lack of women in the advertisement, thereby opening myself to the analysis of another social group that is being silenced as a result of this controversial advertisement.

As a result, my findings have led me to not only question the societal responsibility the media has in our world today, but also acknowledge how language can be manipulated to completely misrepresent, or even silence entire social groups.

Six identical muscular black sprinters bowing down to a confident white businessman. A bold statement made by Intel which leads to a lot of questions. What if the sprinters weren’t all black? Why are no women depicted in this advertisement? Is the advertisement implying that in order to be successful, one needs to be white? Oppression based on race, gender, religion, class, or any other arbitrary feature, is simply a one-sided game of power and privilege driven by the human ego. It is a disgustingly common human tendency which empowers individuals to feel as if they are more worthy than others. Now, more than ever, this discriminatory practice has become a worldwide phenomenon with the help of mass media. One disturbing example of how power and privilege is often implemented by the media is with a 2007 print advertisement issued by Intel to publicize its Core 2 Duo processor chips. This advertisement not only marginalizes women in the workplace but it also represents black men in a way that is socially unacceptable in today’s standards. It also fails to achieve its aim of portraying the strength, efficiency, success and power of their product, for instead its radical portrayal of race inequality and gender imbalance raises questions that reach beyond the scope of the advertisement.

As previously noted, this advertisement depicts six identical black sprinters crouched in a starting position surrounding a self-assured white male dressed in casual business attire. He is standing underneath bold black text that reads, “Multiply computing performance and maximize the power of your employees.” Not only does this visual symbolism demean the black sprinters by objectifying them but it also fuels the audience’s ego by using forceful diction such as “maximize”, “power” and “your”. This diction empowers the potential customer and also sets apart who the intended audience of this advertisement is supposed to be. With the aid of visual and textual language, the advertisers knowingly marketed this product towards young white entrepreneurs as they are clearly depicted as the dominant figure in the advertisement. Furthermore, the advertisers might have thought that the harmless comparison between the speed of the processor and the speed of the sprinters was sharp-witted but they clearly failed to recognize the offensive position the black sprinters have been confined to. It reinforces the stereotype that ‘all black men are good athletes’, ‘all black people look the same’ and that ‘all black people are made to work’. Moreover, the visual and textual language of this advertisement proclaims the presiding white ideology that discerns the Negroid race as subservient to the whites. This is seen by the glaringly obvious parallel to white dominance and black slavery in Western history. By doing so, this advertisement encourages the old-fashioned ideology that the Negroid race should still be treated as slaves and the whites still as their owners.

Because the turbulent history of the Caucasian and Negroid race is a very sensitive topic of conversation in contemporary society, we often ask for political correctness in order to reduce the tension in this subconscious racial conflict we are still confronted with on a daily basis. Ultimately, questions are raised such as, would this advertisement have been more successful if it depicted races other than the Negroid or Caucasoid one? Why is it acceptable to display a race in a certain way but when the same is applied to other races, it automatically becomes a taboo? This is because it has become cognitively efficient. It is easier to organize our world into different social and physical categories that satisfies our awareness of the world. Once we have categorized a certain group, we no longer need to accept new information given to us about individual members of groups because all that we know and all that we want to know about the social world is contained in the stereotypes we have created for ourselves.

With these thoughts in mind, it is possible to conclude that women are also being misrepresented in this advertisement simply by not being present. Yes, it might have just been a coincidence that the advertisers chose male models instead of female models. But, what if it were a conscious decision? What if the advertisers deliberately chose to ostracize women in order to capitulate to the conventional portrayal of women in our sexist society? As a result of a long history of female oppression, we, as a society, have concealed the growing catastrophe of male dominance in our modern world. Unfortunately, this advertisement fortifies our concerning patriarchal views by strengthening the stereotype that ‘women do not have technical skills’, ‘women should be at home, not the workplace’, and that ‘women can only become successful as a homemaker’. Not only does the lack of women in this advertisement highlight the unjust merit we have given women in our society but it is also a clear representation of the heightened pedestal men are unjustly exhibited on. This sexist imbalance between these two social classes calls attention to how an advertisement’s visual and textual language has a great impact on the way a social group is represented, or in this case, not represented.

We live in a day and age, where everyone and everything can be categorised into assorted classifications. This societal need to categorise has distorted our open-minded nature and has even had a colossal influence on how social groups are represented, namely women and the Negroid race. This contentious advertisement, released by Intel, is a worrying exemplification of how language can be manipulated in order to commend these old-fashioned practices. In the context of modern society, this Intel advertisement has rendered any attempt to market the Intel Core Duo 2 chip as unsuccessful because of the way social groups are being misrepresented or even excluded. Thus, it is of utmost importance that one bears in mind the long-lasting and far-reaching implications such references have on the emerging feminist, intersectional and decolonisation movements, which values diversity in the human race above anything else.

Word Count: 995

Works Cited

Intel Core Duo 2 Print Advertisement. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <https://hitzakbesterikez.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/intel-racism-inside-3146.jpg>.

Creative Writing

For this Task, I constructed an additional scene for the play A Streetcar Named Desire, in which I explored and simulated the writing style of Tennessee Williams. By choosing to write an additional scene in the play, I have opened myself to many possibilities that allow me to demonstrate a deep understanding of Tennesse Williams’ application of plastic theatre to the way he assembles dialogue, positions expressive stage directions and uses simple elements such as punctuation and diction to personify his characters. The document is structured to display the last page of scene six and the first page of scene seven in order to properly emulate the conventions of the original text and to provide context on where this scene is situated in the play, which happens to be after Mitch and Blanche return from their romantic date and before Stanley reveals Blanche’s secrets to Stella. This restrictive time frame allowed me to recount the scene in which a supply man discloses many unknown secrets about Blanche to Stanley Kowalski. The purpose of this is to communicate a deeper understanding of the identity of Stanley and how Tennessee Williams uses language to communicate his dominant nature. For example, I incorporated diction such as “pressed firmly”, “unyielding” and “shrieks” to display his animalistic nature which is greatly evident throughout the play. Another echoing element I put into effect were the motifs of light and atmospheric transformations, used to highlight and mark the underlying idea of truth versus lies. Throughout the play, Blanche avoids light in order to mask herself. Hence, the presence of light acts as symbol for the truth. Using this key ingredient, I set up an almost supernatural scene in which a beam of light appears just as the supply man divulges the many concealed truths of Blanche.

Word Count: 299


Area of Knowledge – The Arts

As someone who is passionate about Art, I have always had a lot of trouble coming up with my own definition of the arts because of its complex interdisciplinary characteristics. By this I mean that the Arts can include so many different disciplines, such as dance, music, film, painting, printmaking, poetry, literature and more, that it is often very hard to create justified boundaries for what is and what is not art.

After reading the Art chapter in the TOK textbook, I feel as though I have become even more aware of what constitutes as art. Specifically, the textbook said it really nicely, “The arts embrace our sense perception and our feelings, our thoughts and critical perspectives. They reflect world views and feelings – and also create them”  (p.207)

In essence, as described, art is intended to evoke feelings and communicate perspectives. However, with the rise of digitalization and commercialization in our modern world, the boundaries of art have blurred. As a result, we need to question “what is art?” “how do justify what is or what is not art?”

I would like to think that I could come up with reasoned answers for both questions but the truth is that the arts has become such a big area of knowledge that is constantly evolving that it would be hard for anyone, professional or not, to come up with guidelines or even a definition that could apply to everything within the arts, from music to literature, or even to the fine arts. Personally, I think this is because the arts is such an emotion-based area of knowledge, that when we start to discuss issues related to the arts we cannot help but use our opinionated perspectives to argue over what is and what is not art.

How the Media can be misleading (TOK)

For my English FOA, I analysed an advertisement released by American Apparel which depicts a topless Bangladeshi Woman behind bold text that reads, “Made in Bangladesh”. Throughout my advertisement, I analysed the stylistic characteristics of the advertisement and came to a sound conclusion of the interpretation of the advertisement. I argued that as one might expect, to western cultures, this advertisement could be seen as sexist as the portrayal of a topless woman with unbuttoned jeans and messy hair insinuates strong sexual references. I also argued that to some people in western cultures, such an advertisement might not be seen as sexist but rather as empowering to Bangladeshi women. This is because, there are movements in western cultures such as “#freethenipple” that advocate for the empowerment of women. More specifically, such campaigns are calling out women to be proud of their body and not let any societal taboos restrict them from embracing their skin. It is here where I identified that media can be very misleading. Even though it is easy for us to assume that such messages of female empowerment will resonate with women in Bangladesh, it is also easy to forget the culture these women are coming from. Contrary to popular belief, Bangladeshi women are not restricted by laws to dress a certain way. They are not forced to cover themselves. As a result of these cultural values and morals, which predominantly lie with Islam, these women have the choice to decide how they want to dress, and the majority of women choose to cover themselves. Not because its forced onto them or because they feel a need to, but rather because they pride themselves of such cultural practices which they find valuable. Therefore, such a representation of Bangladeshi women in western media could not be further from the truth. Not only does such a sexual depiction sexualise the Bangladeshi woman to the point that they are seen as exotic treasures, but it also deviates from the matters that Bangladeshi women truly struggle with – this being that they are underpaid, overworked, and forced to work in unethical living conditions. It is such analysis of a simple advertisement that allow us to deduce that such a “westernised Bangladeshi” simply cannot represent the entirety of Bangladeshi women because of vast cultural differences. Even though I have only touched on some of the points I made in my FOA, I found it relatively interesting to find out how misleading the media can actually be.