As a class we have collectively analyzed the ways in which media fail to accurately represent gender and sexual desire. Furthermore, we have discussed how these failings can often be problematic– leading to the appropriation of male violence and the objectification of women. Though our discussions have been comprehensive on addressing problems, we have underscored the role of free will and failed to offer solutions on how we can transcend and defy our media-generated culture.
For an answer to this, we can turn to Bell Hooks and her essay Oppositional Gaze. Though her writings concerned black female spectatorship in the cinema, the sentiments apply to anyone dissatisfied with representations in cultural narratives, including young people in modern mediascape. Bell Hooks does not endorse isolation or passivity, but a critical gaze that actively questions and deconstructs convoluted expectations. Using Hooks method of a critical gaze, we can reject the ridiculous expectations of thinness and beauty that media teaches us to pursue, and we can reject the expectation of men to be violent and dominant. Though it may seem like consumers are helpless victims of unhealthy media images, our spectatorship gives us the “power of agency” as Bell Hooks call it, and we have authority on how we resist media and construct our own identities.
hooks, bell. “The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators.” Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston: South End, 1992. 115-31. Print.