Monday, October 28, 2013

Call for Participants: ICA 2014 Panel

Updated 10/30/13 

Dear friends:
Colleague Sarah Jackson and I are seeking participants for a panel on the ICA Conference theme of Communication and the "Good Life" as it is constructed in television in relation to issues of diversity and inclusion.   

Panel Proposal for Popular Communication and Ethnicity and Race In Communication Divisions

As Seen on TV: Identity, Inclusion, and the “Good Life”

This panel interrogates the conference theme of Communication and the “Good Life” in relation to the concepts of multiculturalism and inclusion in diverse, industrialized, postcolonial societies like the United States, the United Kingdom and others through the prism of mediated entertainment. What does the good life look like in the 21st century according to popular culture? Who is able to partake of it? What norms, values and social hierarchies are communicated in relation to race, gender, and sexual identity in these programs and through what means? Where is inequality acknowledged and how/is it challenged? 


To answer these questions, this panel will examine representations of identity and identity politics in major television dramas featuring diverse casts. We define the concept of diversity broadly and intersectionally to include race/ethnicity, ability, gender, and sexual orientation. Given the role television plays in constructing aspirational Western democratic values like equality, inclusion, and, in the United States, the “American Dream,” papers should illuminate the ways contemporary TV drama communicates dominant or subversive constructions of the good life in increasingly multicultural and multiracial societies.




Prospective participants should send submissions including a 150-word abstract, title and their institutional affiliation to c.bell@neu.edu and s.jackson@neu.edu by Saturday Nov 2nd. Please include specific ideas re programs to be analyzed. We also welcome questions, and suggestions. 

Please feel free to share this with colleagues who may be interested.

Note, the final ICA deadline is November 4th: http://www.icahdq.org/conf/index.asp.



Saturday, May 04, 2013

Running, Writing and Fundraising...

I've now committed every minute of the next month to writing, running or raising money--for Cory Booker's Senate campaign and Boston Children's Hospital. Two amazing ways to make our world a better place. Please choose one and show your support.

Boston for Cory Booker: www.corybooker.com/bostonforcory

Boston's Children's Hospital: Carole's Run to Remember Fundraising Page


Excellence in medical care, exemplified by Boston Children's Hospital, is one of principle things that makes Boston strong.


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

A Historic Night.


This is a historic night. I'm proud of President Obama, and I think that much respect is due to President Clinton. He played an important role with a key demographic. 

It's also a good night for progressive values and candidates in general though, which says a lot. Marriage Equality passed by popular vote in two states, two new Democratic senators were elected (both progressive and powerful women). One, Elizabeth Warren, accomplished this against a popular incumbent. Last but not least, legalized marijuana passed in CO and WA. 

All of this was accomplished amidst obstacles--long lines, new voter id laws, not to mention a hurricane that devastated Democratic strongholds on the east coast. If you lived in a city, especially in a swing state, it was harder to vote this year, harder to register to vote. These are not the accomplishments of a depleted liberal movement or an ineffectual party out of step with the country. Maybe Democrats just need a bit more optimism and conviction.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The one bright spot in an otherwise soul sucking, seemingly endless presidential campaign? Some pretty creative celebrities are reinventing the political endorsement with liberal doses of (admittedly adult) humor. So is it Whedon, Jackson or Dunham for the win?


Best Pop Cultural Resonance. Mitt's not afraid to face the horde... Zomney Pocalypse:


Somehow Dunham's seems to be eliciting the most controversy:


Most unabashedly unofficial and NSFW

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Real Romney and the Electoral Math

Does the secret video reveal "the Real Romney"? I'm not so sure. I think he's smarter than this.

A new Pew Research report provides a detailed look at key demographic patterns in presidential preference, comparing 2008 results with 2012 polling. The numbers, which show President Obama leading Romney 51 to 42 and ahead with a variety of demos, across multiple age groups and income categories, with women but not with men, and behind by 7 points with Whites overall. There are significant racial and gender gaps, but nonetheless it's a pretty diverse group.

This broad range of Obama voters is not new--the breakdowns are fairly similar to the 2008 exit poll results--but it is a reminder. The numbers make it harder to ignore something that seems to have been glossed over in the discussion of Romney's controversial comments about the 47%. Romney made his remarks about dependency and victimhood in response to a donor's question about how he would win over more voters between then and the election.  His answer was that he needed to focus on winning over a small group (5 to 10% of the electorate) of the independents but that president Obama  had a built in advantage because the Republican message of lower taxes wouldn't appeal to the 47%-- all the people at the bottom (really the bottom plus a large chunk of the middle, nearly half of all Americans) who had gotten used to dependence on the government and weren't paying any (federal income) taxes.

This explanation would justify Romney's lackluster performance in the polls so far and explain his strategy of focusing a a narrow section of the electorate moving forward, the electoral equivalent of target marketing. It makes sense except the argument is based on a bizarrely inaccurate claim about the relationship between income and voter preference. Obama doesn't own the lower and middle of the income scale and Romney, despite the electoral shorthand so many engage in, doesn't really own the upperclass.  In reality, the relationship between income and presidential preference is more complicated and variable than that. People vote their values, they vote their ideology, and yes they vote on the economy but not in a self interested, individual pocketbook way but rather with an eye to how the country or their community is doing as a whole.  35% of the lowest income folks say they're voting for Romney and about half of the high income folks making more than $100k annually plan to vote for Obama.

So this all begs the question:  Is Romney really so uninformed about who his voters are and what motivates them, or does he just not mind misleading his donors? Given all the attention to social issues and family values on the stump and at the convention, I'm guessing he and the RNC understand the complexities of voter choice. So what does that say about his belief in the 47% argument? Maybe it's not the poor and middle class that Romney disdains? Or maybe he was just reaching for a reason to lower expectations, one other than the disadvantage of his not being Latino...
'via Blog this'

Sunday, May 15, 2011

‘Bridesmaids,’ "Tossing the Bouquet Out of the Genre"

Megan Angelo's "Tossing the Bouquet out of the Genre" isn't the Times review of Bridesmaids. It's a profile about the making of the movie. But it's the most revealing piece I think I've read about Bridesmaids. It describes a not completely minor clash of perspectives between the female screenwriters Wiig and Mumalo and the movie's famous male producer Judd Apatow.

I really liked the movie, but I think I was more put off by the two, inconsistent tones and styles than other viewers. The friend I saw it with said I was confusing real life with the movies when I complained that one scene in particular didn't make sense to me. But for me, movies work best you suspend disbelief or at least when the film pulls you into its fictional universe enough to forget about whether it's realistic.

My point was that some of the over the top parts in Bridesmaids didn't seem either that funny (as opposed to The Hangover) or authentic to me and didn't feel organic, like they fit the characters. So I'm not surprised that some of those moments were elements pushed by Apatow rather than Wiig. I love Apatow's movies by the way. He portrays guys, male aspirations and male friendship really well (as far as I can tell). I don't know if this article is an accurate portrayal of the creative process or just a good narrative to sell on opening weekend. But if it is accurate, I think Apatow would have done better to defer just a little more to the women on this one.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Women Stay in the Picture

Cut out of the Picture: Secretary Clinton and NSC Official Tomason
Here's another example of the impact of "modesty laws": two women (Sec of State Hillary Clinton and a National Security Council Director of Counterterrorism) get cut out of the situation room picture when the photo is published in a Hasidic newspaper. 


This story reminded me so much of a conversation I had Friday with friends about the implicit chauvinism in restrictive religious covering for women. Here's where my multiculturalism conflicts with feminism. I believe in religious freedom, but this type of protection just really troubles me to the core. I almost want to thank Der Zeitung (based in Brooklyn) for calling attention to the fact that traditional, protective "laws of modesty" have the perhaps unintended (if we assume the best possible scenario) effect of constraining women's choices and power: 
"In accord with our religious beliefs, we do not publish photos of women, which in no way relegates them to a lower status," Der Zeitung said. "Publishing a newspaper is a big responsibility, and our policies are guided by a Rabbinical Board. Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging to women, which is certainly never our intention. We apologize if this was seen as offensive."
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20061215-503544.html

So women can never be part of the visual history created by this paper. But that in no way relegates them to lower status? This is their argument.