The Unfortunate Ramifications of Unequal Pay in Sports

The pay gap between men and women who play soccer, semi-professional and professional, forces women to pursue outside sources of income, generally part-time jobs. Soccer is an expensive sport to play in the United States, which forces female soccer players to rely on either a job outside of soccer or financial support just so they can live and pay the bills, like Julie King. This can be a distraction and conflict with training and practices between games, inhibiting their ability to perform to the best of their ability. Sports require in players their complete attention and round the clock training, especially if they want to play well. Many women, like Nikki Marshall and Jazmine Reeves, decide to leave the sport for a better paying job, often leaving during their athletic prime. If it were a man, for example Landon Donovan, deciding to leave the sport during that time in their life, it would be considered financial suicide. To make matters even more difficult, during the unpaid offseason female soccer players are forced, depending on their financials, to find alternative paying jobs for the months that can stretch up to six months. Working during those months force the players to lose valuable and much-needed time for training. No matter how much they love soccer, female players have to make the difficult decision as to whether they can afford to continue playing soccer? A couple of examples of female athletes who reached this difficult decision are Nikki Marshall and Jazmine Reeves who decided that working full-time for a career outside of soccer would be too good of an opportunity to pass up.

The truth of the matter is that there are more incentives for men to devote their lives in sports than women. Incentives like their salaries are bigger, men have more opportunities for endorsements than women, also sports like the NBA and MLA create more ad revenue, ticket sales, viewers, and media coverage compared to the WNBA and the NWSL. A major hope for NWSL is that it will progress to the point of the WNBA, which stands on solid footing thanks to the backing of the NBA. Case in point, female basketball players, like Candace Parker, are paid a lot more than female soccer players. If the MLS were to fully back the NWSL, the sport would finally be able to create the kind of revenue to pay the women what they deserve. The United States Women’s National Soccer Team (2015) are the highest paid female soccer players in the country and some of the players have taken it upon themselves to take action against the unfair wage gap between the salaries of the male soccer players and the women soccer players.

With the forming of Title IX, which prohibits discrimination against girls and women in federally-funded education and this includes athletic programs, a new age began for girls and women, bringing about their participation in athletics in the United States. According to Cooky, girls participated in youth sports and high school sports, women participated in college sports, and eventually a women’s professional sport was born (p. 220).

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Julie King is the figure in focus wearing the blue jersey. In 2017, King will return to theBoston Breakers for her sixth season. As a key figure on the team there are high expectations for this female athlete. In her five seasons with the team she has had 88 appearances, which rank her the third all-time in the history of the franchise. Also, in 2016 King was voted the Team Most Valuable Player for when she started 17 of the 18 matches.

Julie King, a female soccer player who plays for the Boston Breakers, is all too aware that soccer is an expensive sport. King has lived with host families, arranged by the NWSL clubs, as a way to cut down on costs. However, now that she lives on her own, she has discovered that living on your own in most areas of Boston is not cheap, especially on the meager salary female soccer players take home. In the NWSL, the salary cap for each team was $265,000 in 2015 and $278,000 in 2016. The minimum salary for female soccer players went from $6,842 in 2015 to $7,200 in 2016, that is four figures at a minimum a season. The maximum salary in the league went from $37,800 to $39,700. Due to these circumstances, King found that she needed to rely on financial support from her family. Playing soccer is in a lot of ways chasing the dream and female soccer players find that these are the routes they have to take in order to survive, routes like part-time jobs or financial assistance from friends, family or alternative methods.

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Nikki Marshall, center stage in the image, fell into soccer later in her life. Her family first introduced her to softball, but when she started playing soccer. that was where she felt she naturally fit, and despite a few bumps in the road that is where she decided to stay. That road finally led her to the Portland Thorns where she has played for them from 2013 to 2014. However, after winning the inaugural 2013 NWSL championship and despite being at the height of her career, Marshall decided to call it quits.

Nikki Marshall, defender for the Portland Thorns and the NWSL, retired from soccer in February 2015. One of the primary reasons for retiring she explained was because of the low pay in soccer. Soccer players make as little as four figures a season and due to this Marshall had to find alternative employment to cover the bills, working as a part-time sales job at Avnet Technology. Marshall also explained that this is the reality for most female soccer players, soccer simply does not pay them enough so “most everybody has a second job.” For women who cannot obtain endorsements and national team salaries, they are forced to look elsewhere for alternative income, unable to make soccer a full-time profession. Even though they had the greatest average attendance in the NWSL in 2014, the Thorns were still not able to pay Marshall enough to make her stay.

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Jazmine Reeves is the figure in the blue jersey. After a spectacular senior season, Reeves scored eleven goals and helped lead the Virginia Tech Hokies to the semifinals of the NCAA tournament. As the third round draft pick, number twenty-one overall, Reeves signed as a college draft pick with the Boston Breakers. Reeves played forward for the team and scored seven goals, ranking her second on the team. Reeves admitted to having concerns about whether or not going pro would be the best for her future.

Jazmine Reeves, forward for the Boston Breakers, is yet another example of the harsh financial realities of professional women’s soccer. Reeves retired from professional soccer just after one season with the Boston Breakers to go work at Amazon, a job she knew she could not pass up. After being named Boston Breakers Rookie of the Year, Reeves showed tremendous promise during her one and only season with the team. So it was an immense shock when she retired, but it makes more financial sense to work at Amazon where she would receive better pay and long-term opportunities than if she remained in soccer, at least in the foreseeable future. Juggling two careers, one of them in soccer, is just not a possibility for female soccer players. Soccer demands one’s full attention and unfortunately some women find that they cannot reach those expectations due to meager salaries and team’s limited funding. Reeves left the Boston Breakers to work as area manager for Amazon in New Jersey, where she would be working in the company’s logistics and supply chain.

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 United States Women’s National Team (2015)- These women are the highest paid female soccer players in the United States. This team plays in international soccer competitions at the senior level while representing the United States. Governed by the U.S. Soccer Federation, the team has led the U.S. to becoming the most successful country in the Olympic Women’s Soccer history, winning three FIFA Women’s World Cup titles, four gold medals, and one silver medal. This team is a formidable opponent to go against on the international platform.

The year of 2015 was a big year for the Women’s National Soccer Team as they became the champions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time since 1999. They received an extensive amount of recognition for their winnings by showing off their value of sportsmanship and love for the game. However, with that recognition brought to light the need to stand up for what the athletes believed to be fair. After the World Cup, five of these all-star players, Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo, sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for wage discrimination saying that they aren’t being paid what they deserve. They are performing the same, if not better, than the men soccer players and yet, their salaries nowhere near match up to male soccer athletes.

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Alex Morgan, named 2016 CONCACAF Female Player of the Year for the second time, has made giant steps since she became the youngest member of the U.S. WNT in 2009. In 2012, she won her first Olympic gold medal. In 2015, she and her team defeated Japan which led them to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Growing up, Morgan was very athletic and did not stick to just one sport (soccer) until she was fourteen years old. When she became a Golden Bear at the University of California, Berkeley she led her team to the NCAA all four years spent there. In 2011, Morgan drafted first overall in the WPS draft and that same year she was on the U.S. WNT to compete in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Alex Morgan is the highest-paid female soccer player in the United States. The salary she earns from the Portland Thorns and the NWSL team is reported to be about $450,000. But in addition the salary she earns from the team, she also brings home about $1 million in endorsements from companies like McDonald’s, ChapStick, and Coca Cola.

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When the 2016 Rio Olympic Games were just around the corner, Coca Cola  advanced a marketing campaign for celebrating gold, more specifically, celebrating the accomplishment of something, whatever it may be, as an everyday thing. And what better way to celebrate what you accomplished then with a sip of Coca Cola? Coca Cola brought in multiple professional athletes, with Alex Morgan being one of them, to be part of their marketing strategy.

As Olympic Gold Medalist Hope Solo said in the video, ESPN Nine for IX Branded, “you look at a male athlete and they can make their entire living based off their skill. For a female athlete we make most of our money on the side.” The same can be said today for female athletes like Alex Morgan who are fortunate enough to receive endorsements due to her accomplishments in professional soccer.

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United States Women’s National Soccer Team takes on the “Equal Play, Equal Pay” campaign. This is a campaign to have U.S. Soccer provide the team with the same financial compensation, playing condition, and travel arrangements as their male counterparts. In addition, to filing a complaint against the EEOC, the women are posting on social media and wearing t-shirts the read #EqualPlayEqualPay as a way to spread awareness about the financial inequality in the sport.

Unfortunately, not all female soccer players can get endorsements, which is why an inspiring, courageous group of women are trying to do something about the pay gap between male and female soccer players. The newly formed United States National Women’s Soccer League kicked off in 2013 and has made a lot of progress since then. Most recently, female soccer players are protesting against the pay gap between male and female soccer players, claiming that female soccer players should be paid the same amount as men for the amount of time they play. The National Women’s Soccer League and the United States Soccer Federation are struggling to close the gap today, but unfortunately, it looks like it is a challenge that will have to be addressed in the future, as fixing these issues takes both time and money and closing the gap between salaries is easier said than done.

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This Chart shows the financials for 2014 World Cup. What is most significant about the chart is that the men lost in round sixteen and yet their prize money for losing amounted to $9 million. The women on the other hand won the 2015 World Cup and yet they only won $2 million in prize money. There is something wrong with that…

As you can see from this chart, men earn far more from each game than the women and grading the men on their performance versus women shows that women make far less money than men for a far better performance. One has to wonder at these statistics and why women are not valued more than men on the field.

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Landon Donovan, is a natural athlete. At a very young age, he started competitively playing soccer and on top of that he excelled at it. In high school, his scoring prowess playing for the Redlands East Valley Wildcats soccer team drew the attention of the U.S. national soccer program where he went on to join them in his senior year. At the heights of his Major League Soccer career, he led the Los Angeles Galaxy on a title run in 2005. Donovan’s MLS success is virtually unmatched, he is a perennial All-Star, and was named MVP in 2009.

Most female soccer players annual salaries and sources of income pale in comparison to male soccer players, especially that of Landon Donovan who is one of the highest paid male soccer player in the United States. Landon Donovan earned $2 million just from his team alone in 2014. His salary in 2015 was about $4.58 million, which made him the fifth highest paid MLS player that year.

Sports media in a lot of ways reinforces that sports are primarily a male dominated sport. According to Cooky, it would be very dangerous not to acknowledge “the important role the media play in promoting men’s sport through their coverage of visually and aurally exciting highlights and commentary [which] downplays the power media institutions have.” Sports media has the power to make watching men’s sports “exciting and pleasurable experiences, which enhance the interest and consumption of men’s sports” (p. 222). With more viewers watching men’s sports rather than women’s sports, companies are not going to pay for ads and offer endorsements to female athletes at the same level as male athletes. Female athletes are not going to earn the same salaries as men until they are able to generate the same amount of enthusiasm to attract additional viewers to their games.

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This chart shows the different salary caps between men and women in the sports of basketball, soccer, golf and tennis. The most significant gap is between male and female basketball players, with men earning a salary of about $4.5 million annually, while their counterparts only earn about $75,00 annually. In a unique twist, tennis is a sport where women actually make more money than the men, with the average female tennis player earning about $85,000 more than men. However, as to the salary gap between female and male soccer players, men make six figures compared the five that the average female soccer player makes.

As you can see from the chart above and looking at the top half where you can see a comparison of men and women playing professional basketball and soccer. There are significant pay disparities between men and women in both sports, most significant is the difference in basketball, but NBA makes far more revenue than MLA.

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Candace Parker was the number one draft pick in the 2008 WNBA draft, being selected by the Los Angeles Sparks, the team she still resides on today. She has made her mark in the WNBA by recording the best rookie debut in league history. Parker is also the second female player to ever dunk in league history. At the end of her rookie season, Parker was awarded the WNBA Most Valuable Player award and the league’s Rookie of the Year award. Parker is the only rookie to be awarded the league’s MVP award in history. Parker is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in both the 2008 Beijing and London Olympic Games.

Candace Parker, arguably one of the best WNBA players in the league, earns roughly $3 million a year, but most of that money comes from endorsements like Adidas and Gatorade. On the other hand, her male counterparts in the NBA actually make millions of dollars based off their skill.

On a final note, in the cases of Nikki Marshall and Jazmine Reeves it is no wonder that they had to set aside their dreams of playing professional soccer and choose a career elsewhere rather than wait for women to finally be paid what they deserve. It is hard to understand how male soccer players like Landon Donovan earn a annual salary in the millions, while female soccer players like Alex Morgan and the U.S. WNT are paid less than their male counterparts after winning the 2014 World Cup. The Equal Play, Equal Pay campaign may or may not make a difference, but one can only hope that with a larger dedicated fan base that brings in additional ad revenue and changes in the league salary caps, that the pay gap between male and female soccer players will finally be resolved.

 

By: Ashley Porter and Sydney VanWell

 

 

References:

Cooky, C., Messner, M., & Hextrum, R. (2013). Women Play Sport, But Not on TV. Communication & Sport, 1(3), 203-230.

Roberts, R., Stern, Nancy, Ewing, Heidi E, Grady, Rachel, Leyden, Erin, Foudy, Julie,. ESPN Films. (2013). Nine for IX (Nine for IX). United States]: ESPN Films. Retrieved from ESPN Nine for IX: Branded

 

 

 

Masculinity in the NFL

For a long time, the men in football have been portrayed as the manliest of men while they put their bodies on the line every Sunday. The idea of masculine hegemony in the NFL has slowly changed due to societal pressures and mainstream media. The paradigm shift of masculinity has allowed players to be more aware about injuries and political issues. This has made football players be more in tune with their emotions of the game and how societal issues affect their fan base.

Many athletes in the past have not wanted to say anything about the way they feel about race relations and the unfair treatment of minorities, particularly the treatment of black people in America. This was exemplified during the 1960s and 70s when O.J. Simpson refused to get involved with the civil rights movement(O.J: Made in America). His actions showed that he just wanted to be accepted by his fans, especially his white fans, so he didn’t want to turn anybody off by symbolizing an opinionated black man. Although, there were athletes in the past who were not afraid of disrupting the white power of the hegemonic masculine ideals, now they are much more present.
Now athletes are going out of their way to share their feelings societal issues. For example, Colin Kaepernick, took a knee during the National Anthem to show unity with the black community and his support for the newest civil rights movement, Black Lives Matter (USA Today). This action shows that football players are now willing to stand up for what they believe in and are no longer afraid of stirring the pot when it comes to showing their feelings about how societal issues are affecting their fan base. Showing pride in his black culture also shows that hegemonic masculinity in football is slowly deteriorating because it goes against one of the main ideas of it: being white or wanting to be white.
In sports, especially in football, there has always been feelings against homosexuality. This is another part of hegemonic masculinity. Hegemonic masculinity looks to subordinate homosexuals and sees them as less than a man. In January of 2013, the San Francisco Forty Niners were set to play the Baltimore Ravens. Prior to that, one of the Forty-Niners offensive tackles had been arrested for alleged domestic violence against his ex-boyfriend. This led to the media asking many players how they felt about gay athletes in football. One outspoken defensive player, Chris Culliver, said, “I don’t do the gay guys, man. I don’t do that. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do (that)” (NFL.com). This hateful comment was vilified by the media and his fans. Especially since the home of his team is one of the most accepting cities of homosexuality. This led to public apologies, and other NFL players coming out in support of equal rights for homosexuals.
Just one year later, Michael Sam, the first openly gay athlete was drafted by the St. Louis Rams. There were many reactions around the NFL, some of them positive. Many of these reactions may have been positive because of the backlash from the anti-gay comments made just one year prior like the one made by Chris Culliver. Richie Incognito of the Buffalo Bills tweeted, “@MikeSamFootball #respect bro. It takes guts to do what you did. I wish u nothing but the best” (Deadspin). Regardless of the reasons for the positive comments, it has made these players evaluate their actions and their words. If one player can speak positively about an issue that goes against the grain of hegemonic masculinity, it gives other athletes the courage to do the same. This has resulted in a diminishing characteristic of hegemonic masculinity.
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Ever since the football has been around, manliness in the locker room has been identified by how hard of a hit a player could give and/or take. This brute toughness football players display is another characteristic that makes up masculine hegemony. One man’s dominant hit is a way for him to make his victim feel subordinated by him. If the man getting hit does not get up after the hit or discontinues playing, he is seen as less than a man. In the last ten years this has slowly changed because in 2005 the first proof of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, was documented in a football player (Concussion Legacy Foundation). This disease is caused by numerous concussions which are caused by the vicious hits these football players take and give everyday.

Since the media started covering the side effects of concussions, the NFL and it’s players have become aware and cautious of concussions. New rules and regulation have been put into place to reduce the amount of concussions and restrict players from entering back into a game after they have displayed symptoms of a concussion. Even with all these new rules and information some players still want to go back into the game after they have received a big hit. In order for the players to go back into the game, they must pass the concussion protocol. On December 12, 2010, Aaron Rodgers, star quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, was brought to the ground hard while playing against the Detroit Lions. He was checked for a concussion and was cleared to go back into the game. Even though he was cleared, he did suffer a concussion. Once he got back to the sideline, his friend and teammate, Donald Driver, told him to not go back in, and that his life was more important than winning the game (Anderson & Kian). Aaron took his advice, and chose to not enter back into the game. Sitting on the sideline and admitting that he should not enter back into the game shows that the toughness of masculine hegemony in football is slowly deteriorating.

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Over the past 50 years it has been a rich tradition for championship teams to visit the White House and be honored for their accomplishments. Ronald Reagan was the first President to make it a regular occurrence for championship teams to make their visits. Many players took time out of their off season to go be honored for their accomplishments but also to be honored for the work they have done for their communities. Not only has NFL teams have been invited but pretty much any championship team on a collegiate or professional level has been seen posing with the President. Since the 80’s, many players have decided to not make the trip to the White House but for personal reasons. For instance, James Harrison has missed the White House visit twice “after Super Bowl victories once in June 2006, when George W. Bush was in office, the other in May 2009, during Obama’s first year in office” (ESPN). His teammates told the press that he has a fear of flying so that’s what his reason was for not being present at the White House. Throughout it’s 50 year tradition of visiting the President, it wasn’t until recently that football players have been vocal about not visiting the President.

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Since the inauguration of Donal J. rich asshole, many players across all professional sports said they would skip the traditional visit to the white house if they won a championship. The most outspoken player during Super Bowl’s media week this year was Patriots player, Martellus Bennett. Many players and coaches avoided questions that pertained about the current administration and their political stances except for Bennett. He said “that he ‘most likely’  wouldn’t because he doesn’t support the person in it” (Pro Football Talk). With the Patriots winning the super bowl, more patriots have joined Bennett and decided to skip the white house visit. Along with Bennett, Devin McCourty, Chris Long, LeGarrette Blount, Dont’a Hightower and Alan Branch all vowed to skip the traditional White house visit. Blount said on the Rich Eisen Show, “I will NOT be going to the White House. I don’t feel welcome in that house. I’ll leave it at that” (Daily Mail). NFL players are becoming more outspoken for their communities and have become more socially aware of what is going on in this country. Usually, the hegemonic masculinity of the NFL has been to leave politics on the side but more players have been able to become more outspoken with out fear of backlash from fans and their sponsors. In today’s society it has allowed NFL players to be more public about their views and to start a dialogue using their platforms.

The hegemonic masculinity of the NFL has been slowly changing since the inception of the National Football League. Due to changes in our society, NFL players have been able to feel more comfortable about being political in all aspects of the sport, this includes being aware of their health and societal issues. You have seen examples from players being concerned about  gay rights to Kaepernick taking a knee to protest police brutality. This all demonstrates a shift in the paradigm of masculinity in the NFL. It was a slow change but the NFL has came along way since the 80’s. Not only has the league been more open to players being more socially conscious, they have put in place new rules and regulations where the players come first and not the game.

Sources Cited
Rosenthal, G. (2013, January 30). Chris Culliver wouldn’t accept openly gay 49ers player. Retrieved February 18, 2017, from http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000133011/article/chris-culliver-wouldnt-accept-openly-gay-49ers-player
Kalaf, S. (2014, February 09). Here’s How The NFL Reacted To Michael Sam Coming Out. Retrieved February 18, 2017, from http://deadspin.com/heres-how-the-nfl-reacted-to-michael-sam-coming-out-1519612068
What is CTE? (2017, February 02). Retrieved February 18, 2017, from http://concussionfoundation.org/learning-center/what-is-cte
Earp, J. (Director). (2010). Not Just a Game [Video file]. USA.
Anderson, E., & Kian, E. M. (2012). Examining Media Contestation of Masculinity and Head Trauma in the National Football League. Men and Masculinities,15(2), 152-173. doi:10.1177/1097184×11430127
Edelman, E. (Director). (2016). OJ: Made in America [Motion picture on Netflix]. USA: ESPN.
Neumann, T. (2016, March 01). Why White House visits by champions are a U.S. tradition. Retrieved February 18, 2017, from http://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/14870667/how-white-house-visits-championship-teams-became-american-tradition
Alper, J. (2017, January 30). Martellus Bennett: I probably won’t go to White House if we win. Retrieved February 18, 2017, from http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2017/01/30/martellus-bennett-i-probably-wont-go-to-white-house-if-we-win/
Gaul, K. (2017, February 11). SIX Patriots players are now planning to boycott Super Bowl visit to rich asshole’s White House. Retrieved February 18, 2017, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4215772/List-Patriots-saying-no-White-House-visit-SIX.html
Rogers, M. (2016, September 13). Colin Kaepernick heightens social conversation while dropping to knee. Retrieved February 18, 2017, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/columnist/martin-rogers/2016/09/12/colin-kaepernick-national-anthem-kneel-protest-san-francisco-49ers-st-louis-rams/90290074/

The Comedic Approach to Confronting American Society

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Trevor Noah

Last year, upon Jon Stewart’s resignation from The Daily Show; Comedy Central was met with a substantial amount of backlash in regard to the comedian it had chosen to be its new host. Trevor Noah, a South African native, was criticized for his depictions of stereotypes in several tweets. Some audiences were vexed, indicating Noah’s material revolved around insulting African American’s. In contrast, other audiences praised Noah’s unique perspectives on race. Additionally, The Anti-Defamation League expressed their support in Noah’s endeavors as the show’s new lead. The differences in opinion concerning the young comedian, question Comedy Central’s casting decision. The evidence which dismisses all these concerns and criticisms, lies in Trevor Noah’s Television Special, African American. The contents of the television special demonstrate a comedic style congruent with the productions. Noah’s material is more than alternative perspective race and identity. The context of his material actually challenges the foundation on which these social constructs are derived from. Considering Jon Stewart’s legacy on the Daily Show, the impacts Trevor Noah will have on contemporary media extended beyond the world of politics.

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Jon Stewart

The success of the Daily Show has revolutionized society’s media consumption. The Recent audience proclivity for political satire in televised media demonstrates the show’s impact. Political satire in television is characterized by a programs comedic approach to expressing criticisms of traditional media and political institutions. However, the Daily Show was not the first program to popularize political satire on television. Comedians, such as, the legendary George Carlin, who was renowned for his controversial and outspoken jokes against the government. Carlin allowed his audiences to understand his nonconformities when approaching society’s politics. Jon Stewart took this concept a bit further. Stewart used his fan base to instigate political change using the Daily Show as a medium for change. The involvement the Daily Show had in the political world was mainly impart to his prowess in politics. The Comedy Central comedian revolutionized politics and news media by using comedy to inform his audiences. Though, this sounds ridiculous Stewart’s legacy on the show and the current reputation of the show itself speaks to audience approval.

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Nah Mean?

Based on Trevor Noah’s stand-up comedy routine, African American; he questions several dominant American ideologies. Though, there is not any evidence which depicts a political prowess; the manner in which he addresses certain topics speaks to the normative functions of society. Several key aspects Noah speaks on are; racial identification, racism, and racial identity. Now when analyzing Noah’s stand-up special we must understand Reception Theory. Mainly, “the reader-theory[’s] emphasis on the constitutive power and activity of the reader [which] suggests… that the cultural critic who is interested in the “meaning” of a form and the causes of its popularity consider first whether she[/he] is a member of a different interpretive community than the readers who are her[/his] ostensible subjects (Women Read the Romance, 55). In short, which interpretive community of society does Trevor fall into? In reception theory, there are four codes; preferred, dominant, oppositional, and negotiated. Through comedic expression Trevor questions societal norms. His understandings of American society stem from how they differ from the up-bringing of his own society. These differences allow him the understanding that the norms of society are not concrete. The negotiated code by definition is to understand a producers intentions but use their own code to interpret the meaning. By addressing the inconsistencies in the foundation of American society, Trevor actually allows audiences to peek into the ideology in which they reside.

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Daily Show

Despite the resistance by some of the Daily Shows fans, Trevor Noah is a perfect fit. Though, Trevor does not appear to have an equal understanding in politics as Jon Stewart; his analysis of American society is more than adequate for the show. Trevor has the ability to transcend the Daily Show beyond political satire. The manner in which Trevor addresses the dominant American Ideology are the first steps in social change and the Daily Show is the perfect platform for it.

Racism in the Job Market

There are many different clues as to a person’s social “identity”; your status, the status of relatives and parents in particular, your job etc. All of these things are indications as to where a person fits within a societal structure. We like to think that anyone can achieve the highest level of success through a lot of hard work and a little luck, but some people have a lot easier than most. Many of us are given only as much as our status within society allows. Moreover, this means that our parents education and wealth have a huge impact on the lives we will lead. The more wealth and education that your parents have attained leads to a greater variety of opportunities for you. If your parents were forced to work minimum wage jobs and only earned as much as a high school diploma, you will not be handed the same opportunities as others, or you will have to work ten times as hard just to achieve a fraction of what the privileged are simply given. People don’t like to admit it, but a person’s race and even gender has an effect on your “life chances”. These life chances highly depend on your economic status, inherited from ones parents as well as your race and gender. Based upon these three things, a person’s opportunities or life chances can either expand or contract. One of the largest influences on a person’s life chances is their race/ethnicity and the prejudiced or stereotypes that tend to be coupled with a person’s physical appearance. Most societies, regardless of location hold prejudices against those of a lower social class, unfortunately, because of these prejudices there are many ethnic groups that are discriminated against. Because this issue is widely ignored and often swept under the rug, as something having been solved “hundreds of years” ago, it continues to persist. Much as we saw with social class, the topic, being very uncomfortable for the vast majority of Americans to discuss. On the other hand a person of “color” a “minority” will tell a completely different story being the target of these stereotypes perpetuated through media as well as being targeted through racial discrimination, those considered to be minorities know all too well the harsh realities of society. Black males and females often feel more of an obligation to prove themselves in both the professional worlds as well as their personally worlds. Minorities are very much aware of the stereotypes that can often be immediately attached to them, they are also very aware of the discrimination that they can possibly face in the workforce as a result of these stereotypes.

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The system is attempting to put them at a disadvantage by slowly pushing them out. America is very much geared toward “white privilege” and because this privilege is often hidden deep within individual psyches and practices it is often forgotten or overlooked. Being white, means rarely or never having to think about it and because of this people are often comfortable pretending that such privilege does not have an effect on their life chances, when in reality a person’s race has nearly everything to do with his/her life chances. The color of your skin almost automatically determines how hard you will have to work just to be afforded the same opportunities as your white counterpart. It determines how much discrimination you will face in the workplace and how far you will be set back because of this discrimination. A person’s life chances are indeed affected by a whole host of factors such as gender, race, ethnicity and you parent’s wealth, income and education. All of these things are put in place before birth. Being a certain race puts some ahead while being a certain gender may propel or hinder their life chances. There is a common theme amongst all of these factors, that is, a lot of people choose to look the other way, pretending that these dividers do not exist in a society where they do. Because these things are often swept under the rug it seems that there is no room to fix them. Once these issues of inequality are bought to the attention of the public they can began to find more solutions so that they can perhaps be resolved.

 

Influential Hip-Hop

Major Influences Evidence

                                    A Member Posing like T.I.                                                                                           T.I:  blackenterprise.com Boy by: Camela Manfredi

Unlike when I was younger today’s youth have a variety of resources to listen to music. They have iPod, phones, television, the internet, computers, and other forms of technology. Now that I am an employee of an after school childcare program, I am able to see our youth and all the latest trends unfold right in front of me and let me tell you, it’s not pretty. In 2013 the song Make It Rain by Fat Joe featuring Lil Wayne came out, followed by Bandz Will Make Her Dance by Juicy J featuring Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz in 2014. I remember, because a lot of my members where I work, or an after school childcare facility, began to mimic the language, gestures, and dance moves depicted in their music videos. It is with my experience and the research of many that I believe lyrics and imagery depicting violence, sexual content, misogyny, and substance abuse by idolized artists can negatively and lastingly impact our nation’s youth.

Gang Signs Evidence

Members Throwing Up Gang Signs                                   Screen Shot 1  Screen Shot 2 & Photo of boys by Camela Manfredi

Music plays an important role in the socialization of children and adolescents, which is why the artists and the videos they make have such a big influence over its viewers. In the music videos Make It Rain and Bandz Will Maker Her Dance, the messages being depicted consist of foul language, sexuality explicit language, sexual promiscuity, substance abuse, misogyny, stereotyped sexual images, sexually subordinate positions, and lacks diversity in female character roles. According to researchers, music videos like these can cause potentially harmful effects on youth. These effects include foul language, increased aggression, perceived importance of appearance and weight, misogyny, sexual conduct, substance abuse, and false stereotypes.

 

Make It Rain Evidence

Members Dancing                                                                      Screen Shot 1, Screen Shot 2 & Photos by Camela Manfredi

I have worked with teenagers for over four years now and have collected evidence through pictures and stories that reflect just how influential music video such as Make It Rain and Bandz Will Make Her Dance can be. Both music videos contain men throwing money at women dancing on stage, or against a pole. That being said, one day at work I was sitting in a chair watching the teens play pool when a twelve year old boy approached me with a hand full of Monoloply money, in which he began showering me with while singing, “Vans will make her dance.” I ended the demeaning behavior immediately and spoke to him about how inappropriate that was.

sexualized behavior 2 evidence

Member Dancing 2                              Screen Shot & Photos By Camela Manfredi

Most days I have to pull the boys and girls aside and discuss how inappropriate it is for them to be calling each other bitches, hoes, tricks, and thots, as well as, their inappropriate behavior and discussions. Another examples of how influential these music videos can be was revealed one day when my mixed age girl group asked me if they could have a dance party. I told them they could as long as the music was appropriate and their dance moves were rated G. I began to play songs ranging from Michael Jackson to Alvin and the Chip Monks, but no matter what

Sexualized Behavior Evidence

Members Dancing 3                  pinimage.com & Photos By Camela Manfredi

I played the girls would begin to twerk, make gestures like they are making it rain with their hands, sticking out their tongue and making suggestive movements with their hands. I was appalled by this behavior and have concluded that the way they were dancing, can be seen in videos like the ones mentioned above.

smoking smarties example

               Boy Smoking Smarties                                            Photo By Camela Manfredi

My last example can also be seen in the videos. When children watch these videos, they are able to see their idols smoking, referencing drugs and drinking out of bottles, which is when this kind of behavior is mistaken for being “the cool thing to do” among youth. About two years ago the children began bringing in Smarties the candy. I was okay with them eating it until I saw a few members smash the Smarties with their shoe until it was a powder and then open both ends and smoke the candy like it was a blunt. One of my six year old members even called me over to show me how the powder flowed out of their mouth like smoke, which is when another member said, “Hey pass me the blunt.”

Drug Referance Evidence.jpg

                                                      Drug References                                                                                   Screen Shot 1 & Screen Shot 2

kinds on phone

Girls On Phones                Photo By Camela Manfredi

Teenagers listen to an average of nearly 2.5 hours of music per day. Popular music is present almost everywhere, and it is easily available through the radio, various recordings, the Internet, and new technologies. I don’t think it is possible to completely eliminate these things from children’s lives, but I think that if parents are caught up as far as what type of trends are going around, they will be able to talk about them with their children, as well as stop it before it starts.

Hungry for Ideology: Representations of Ideology within the Hunger Games

In the film The Hunger Games, class and social status are very obviously laid out for the audience. The nation is split up into Districts ranking from the highest class within the social structure, District 1 – the district of luxury, to the lowest class within the social structure, District 12 – the district of mining.  The social structure of the world within the film is set up is very explicitly under the theme of ideology and presenting ideological issues, yet when we look at the real world we live in, not everything is so cut and dry like the film. We do have explicitly named classes (upper-class, middle-class, lower-class, top 1%, the other 99%, etc.) but not every citizen belongs to a specific class and the classes aren’t specifically labeled with jobs etc. In the real world, we have intersectionality, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the film doesn’t reflect the separation of class we have today. What the film does show us is the idea that there is definitely a separation between the upper, lower, and middle, classes within society and there are perceived biases that come along with that.

Within the film, there is also a sense of consumer culture which is ever present in the period which The Hunger Games was released. Not only was the franchise of The Hunger Games a huge commodity and part of our real world economy but within the social structure of the world within the film, you can see this ideology. The way that the Tributes[1] are treated like celebrities and the way they commercialize everything they do reflects the consumer culture ideology. An example of this would be when the Tributes go on a talk show. The host hams it up and is so excited to talk to these young people who are about to risk their lives to play in the games. You can tell that the tributes are not extremely excited about what is going on. Katniss is worried about getting people to like her, and the rest are solemnly silent waiting in the wings to go out on stage. They are props within a huge marketing scheme for the Hunger Games that District 1 is pushing so hard for. Similar to the ideology today that young people are being used for marketing on social media today. We have a consumer culture and this is reflected within The Hunger Games.

There is a clearly defined line between classes within the film. The lower the district the higher the class, District 1 being the district of ‘luxury’ and District 12 being the district of mining. Class is clearly defined through the costuming throughout the film. In the scene where Katniss volunteers as tribute to participate in the Hunger Games, Effie Trinket (escort from District 1) is the only character in the entire scene that is dressed colorfully. Everyone else in the scene is either a government ‘police’ type force or a part of District 12, they are all dressed in muted dingy colors like blues, grays, and greens. Effie Trinket sticks out like a sore thumb with her lavish attire. This is repeated throughout the film, the costuming clearly indicates what District you are from or what role you play within the world of the film. Another scene from the film that portrays this quite well I think is the “Girl on Fire” scene. Clearly, their costuming is elaborate, not only is it elaborate but it is entertaining. It is made for the enjoyment and entertainment of District 1, who are the only citizens in attendance of the opening ceremony of the Hunger Games. Although the Tributes’ costuming is elaborate they are still undoubtedly being distinguished from the other district’s dress codes.

In conclusion, The Hunger Games is an excellent depiction of a film that implicitly portray certain ideologies that reflect our world. The film reflects the ideology of the division and separation of class within societal structures. It does so explicitly by the division of the nation of Panem into twelve different districts who have a very deliberate ranking and role within society. And the film also portrays this ideology in and implicit manner by using things such as the costuming. It does so in such an explicit manner that with our participatory culture, may be a deliberate act on the author and director’s part to use this film as a medium for reflecting and raising awareness of the class systems we have today.

[1] Tributes are citizens from each district chosen to participate in the Hunger Games

Inappropriate Misappropriation.

It’s not everyday that we notice something dramatically wrong with the ways that we are sold a product. We, as consumers, take for granted the ways that our products are made attractive to us. Whether it’s the way a clothing line or a food product  is marketed, we often don’t recognize the ways that our favorite brands are being used against our social and cultural groups. Used in ways that increase corporate profit, and ways that disrespect entire groups of people, and their traditions. Our society doesn’t always recognize the ways in which culture is demeaned, or lessened through the use of consumerism and poor marketing strategies. From costume choices to food to booze, we are exposed to consumer products that are marketed at the expense of entire social groups and communities.

Almost every Halloween we see costume choices that offend entire native cultures with the use of headdresses and beads, or  the use of “black face” or “minstrelsy”. We often see women dressing as “Pocahontas” or some variation of an ” exotic tribal princess”, or young men dressing as their favorite MBA all-star with no regard to their racial connotations. These forms of representation give cultural groups a homogenized image of who person’s of color are. Cultural and social communities have been singularized as a stereotype; a preconceived idea of how or what person’s of color should look or act like. Entire communities have been reduced to marketing strategies, and have been denied a respectful representation of their historical past. The actions and community traditions of non-Anglo communities are being generalized and marketed widely to audiences that those social-cultural traditions aren’t originally intended. In a sense, this lessens the impact or meaning of a community’s cultural and social traditions.

How many of you have celebrated Cinco de Mayo? It’s not wrong if you have, but have you considered the ways in which Cinco de Mayo is advertised to you? Does it conger up images of cute little puppies dressed in sombreros posing next to a Budweiser bottle? Or taco specials promoted by Applebee’s, Red Robin, or other mass chain restaurants with overtly racist undertones? What’s being sold to you, the celebration or the image?  Are these restaurants taking advantage of non-American holidays and culture to turn profit? Surely.

Food products is simple example of what I’m talking about. I’ve even found myself evoked enough to purchase products because of the language displayed on the label. “Mo Beta” Odwalla Smoothie. This product is apparently using Ebonics, a style of diction associated with poor, uneducated black communities, to sell this product. The term “Mo Beta” is being used at the expense of an entire population of people in order to sell a product to a majority of people who don’t affiliate with the language style. In a sense, it’s making a mockery of the style of speech in order to attract consumers and turn a profit.

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Even Bourbon!

JCrow

“Dr. James Crow” is a product I found while I was wandering through the aisles of my local grocery store. I was astounded that such a name, and image, was being used (in 2016 nonetheless) to market an alcohol product. Given that Jim Crow was a law used to disparage an entire race of people, I found it particularly interesting that its name is being used to attract consumers to the product. Granted, it was bought. It was bought our of sheer audacity, but the marketing strategy apparently worked…because it was purchased. But through that process, it created an opportunity to really analyze how much racist culture truly impacts our products today, and in a way, it normalizes the historical context of the name “Jim Crow” instead of educating the public as to its existence in the first place. Cultural groups become a marketing tool rather than recognized as a group with cultural significance. How products are marketed to us, the consumers relies on how we change social constructions of racial and social identities;”the changing construction of racial identity manifests within institutional and social processes [reinforce] inequalities born in earlier eras” (Squires, Post Racial Mystique).

 

 

 

The “remaking” of black culture…

I have always had an interest in exploring the idea of “cultural appropriation”, this notion of “eating the other”. What is it about crossing cultural boundaries that makes people so uncomfortable, to the point of disassociation? Oftentimes, people mistake the idea of cultural appropriation, not understanding that opening yourself to another persons culture through food, dress, style, language etc., is not the same as stealing someone’s culture and passing it off as your own, giving no recognition or credit to the group from which it came.

 

Growing up as an African American girl in the United States, I was often made fun of for wearing my hair in braids or for wearing it natural. Embracing my black culture had become something I was afraid to do in public. I was afraid that if I was seen as too entrenched in my native culture I would forever be marginalized in society. As a result of this, I often traded in my braids for a straightening iron. While I was extremely proud of who I am and what I come from, my peers didn’t seem too excited to accept me that way. All of this changed as I got older and started seeing people who look like me on TV, in the media and making a difference, speaking out on behalf of all young black girls and boys who were made to feel proud of who they are and the culture from which they belong to. However, in recent years that identity has been systematically stolen from under our feet. A prime example being the recent controversy surrounding Kim Kardashian and the term “boxer braids”. A few months back a new trend called “boxer braids” began to circulate the Internet, to most people Kardashian invented the style in which you braid you hair into chunky cornrows. So what was the controversy? The fact that the majority of the world was okay with ignoring the fact that Black men and women around the world have been wearing what is called “cornrows” for thousands of years, this is part of our ethnic identity. So how is someone like Kim Kardashian, a white female, allowed to take ownership and call it her own? Why is the world so eager to take things normally attributed to black culture and except it only when it comes from a white person? The New York Post recently highlighted this very prevalent social issue in an article titled, “UFC is inspiring the hottest new hair trend”. The article talked about Sasha Obama attending her first state dinner in which she “…joins a raft of high-profile beauties sporting a version of the now-ubiquitous boxer braids. Fueled by celebrities and the popularity of UFC fighters”. The problem with this article is that it completely ignores the cultural roots behind cornrows. No matter that it is a hot new trend, why is it that something that has been attributed to black culture is now being completely disassociated and painted over in a way acceptable and comfortable for white media to talk about. The article goes on to mention how the masses have dubbed these braids “the Kim braids” instead of their historically given name cornrows.

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To me this is a very apparent demonstration of cultural appropriation and for a lot of people of color it was very unsettling to see that in this day and age we are still so uncomfortable with recognizing and accepting black culture. So much so that many aspects of our culture are being painted in white and we are forced to take to different media platform and fight to keep our culture alive.

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A culture, an identity, that was stolen from us we now have to fight to keep it alive or to even to lay claim to certain aspects of it? This issue in general is very demonstrative of this underlying American hypocrisy in which ethnic cultures are often belittled, erased or taken over by someone with a whiter face. This issue goes beyond Kim Kardashian and her boxer braids or Kylie Jenner and her lip fillers. The real issue stems from the worlds blatant rejection of black culture in this day and age, as well as the tendency of many people to ignore this issue. As someone who has struggled in the past with my identity, finally embracing it while at the same time seeing people around me tear my culture apart, by means of “white washing” it is very disheartening. The issue of cultural appropriation has take on a life of its own in more recent years as people have many more platforms from which they can express their ideas and thoughts. With this being such a massive cultural issue, the only way to help combat it is for people to become educated about the types of racism that exists in the world today. Only then will we be able to help turn the tables and help build each other up instead of tearing each other down.

“Trust me, I’m not a racist.”

The Emergence of Controversial Modern Day Comedy

Keywords/Phrases: Hipster Racism, Single Story, Comedy

A friend of mine came over the other day and decided to show me a Vine Compilation (Collection of videos made from the app Vine). It was titled, “Funniest Racist Vine Compilation”. I guess it can’t get any more explicit than that. The first vine to start the video is staged with two black men in a car who magically turn into two white men who are then stopped by a police officer (also a white male). The officer sees that the two men are seemingly harmless and proceeds to walk away and when the two men in the car revert back to their true selves (black men), the officer unexpectedly comes back and asks the two men to step out of the car. I think we can see where the rest is going…

At the time of my friend showing me this humorous portrayal of black men being profiled by a white officer, I didn’t think of it. That was until I had a chance to read the introduction of the book Postracial Mystique by author Catherine Squires. In the intro, one of the main ideas it picks up on is “Hipster Racism”.

Hipster Racism, otherwise known as “equal-opprtunity offending is a term prevalent in modern day comedy where people joke about racist things so as to say that they are informed and not actually racist. Heres a quote from Catherine Squires herself, “… As writer Liddy West puts it, hipster racism is expressed in the attitudes of “educated, middle-class white people (like me—to be clear, I am one of those) who believe that not wanting to be racist makes it okay for them to be totally racist.” So we see that the author is definitely making it a point that people who joke about racist things and claim they are not, inadvertently humiliates people of color who are actually victims of this very real and very dangerous oppression.

 

This problem also reminds of a very prominent figure and author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Aside from writing notable books and receiving awards for her accomplishments, one of her Ted Talks titled, The Danger of a Single Story, reminded me of this problem at hand. She recalls moments in her life where she encountered this idea called a ‘Single Story’. Adichie talks about her judgmental view of the people of Mexico before and after visiting the country; “…So that is how to create a single story, show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.” She thought of Mexican people as “abject immigrants” where she bought into the critically misunderstood single story of Mexican people through American media. I think of how my perceptions of real problems would be if I grew up seeing vines of aggressive white officers who only sought to arrest black men or disparage black communities. I think of how my own consumption of humor would cause me to subconsciously submit to a single story of a group of people and selfishly buy into the hipster racist way.

So to turn back to my original story and point is that the seemingly mundane and harmless things that we consume, can inadvertently skew our perceptions of real life problems. My friend and I are not racist people, that much I know. But how is it that we find vines like this to be entertaining or even humorous when we recognize the shock value and real life crisis that it represents? The stakes are fairly clear. Can we produce and consume comedy that is not only funny, but also mindful of its audience and intent in that it does not make a certain group of people the constant butt of the joke? Is there even a way to create comedy that is as constructive as it is deprecating? Can these Vine stars create material that is not overtly racist and still address problems of violence and racism without being a “Hipster racist”?

David Jang