Babes in Danceland

Babes in Danceland
Article by Julia Jacobs, appeared in issue (Re)Vision; published in 2014; filed under Broadcast.
When did competitive dance get so sexy?

Asia Monet Ray, 7, strutted onstage like a tiny Beyoncé in a white, high-cut leotard, complete with a fluffy dog tail made to wag when she gyrates.

Titled “Rock That,” her dance was a fusion of classic jazz, sexy pop-locking, and crowd-pleasing gymnastics that hasn’t yet been given a name. At one point, Ray, tail facing the audience, slapped each hand to her backside as she knocked her hips from right to left. Later, the 4'2" diva slowly sunk into the splits, fixing a sharp gaze at the judges with pursed cherry lips.

The Rachel Papers

Article by Jonanna Widner, Illustrated by Omar Lee, published in 2009; filed under Broadcast; tagged lesbian icons, media, MSNBC, Rachel Maddow, women in news.
Now you can quit camping out for the USPS to deliver your copy of "Buzz" and start reading Jonanna Widner's piece on Rachel Maddow, exploring the the pundit's prime time rise and unprecedented fan club around the country, and offering a social critique to the madness around Maddow! Click on the article for interactive reading!

Factory Girl

Factory Girl
Article by Lois Leveen, Illustrated by James Hindle, appeared in issue Genesis; published in 2008; filed under Broadcast; tagged children, Dora, global economy, global trade, globalization, NAFTA, tv.
Dora the Explorer and the Dirty Secrets of the Global Industrial Economy

Dora the Explorer, eponymous Latina star of the animated Nickelodeon series, is a bilingual problem solver who confidently traverses unknown territory in every episode. In “City of Lost Toys,” a typical episode, Dora sets out to find her missing teddy bear, Osito, and other toys her friends have lost. She’s helped along the way by her sidekick (a monkey named Boots), her trusty map, and a group of magical stars she and Boots catch. The first landmark Dora reaches on her journey is a Mesoamerican-style pyramid where she must complete basic counting and arithmetic problems.

Weighing Reality

Weighing Reality
Article by Jacob Anderson-Minshall, Illustrated by Ai Tatebayashi, appeared in issue Anniversary; published in 2005; filed under Broadcast; tagged beauty standards, body image, eating disorders, fat phobia, health, obesity, reality tv.
Who's Really the Biggest Loser?

“Obesity,” declares Charlotte Cooper, author of 1998’s Fat and Proud: The Politics of Size, “is just a word used by people to medicalize fat.” Extra weight, once considered a genetic short straw, is increasingly characterized as a crisis threatening the physical, political, and moral health of our nation—even as large bodies are becoming increasingly visible in popular culture.

The Nan Show

The Nan Show
Article by Summer Wood, Illustrated by Erin and Kelly Carty, appeared in issue Fun & Games; published in 2005; filed under Broadcast; tagged childcare, children, class, gender roles, mannies, motherhood, nannies, parenting, race, stereotypes.
How Nannies Rewrote the Rules on TV Parenting

In this era of social conservatism, the so-called mommy wars, and renewed cultural clashes about gender, work, and “family values,” it’s hardly surprising that nanny narratives are making a comeback. Faster than you can say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” nannies have popped up in movies (Uptown Girls) and bestselling novels (The Nanny Diaries, I Don’t Know How She Does It), as characters on tv shows (Friends, Kevin Hill, Desperate Housewives), and even as a subgenre of reality tv (Nanny 911, Supernanny).

Period Pieces

Article by Wendy Weiner, appeared in issue Home & Away; published in 2004; filed under Broadcast; tagged menstruation, period, reality tv, survivor.
The Last Taboo of Reality TV

Detailed discussions of diarrhea (Survivor). On-camera vomiting (The Bachelor, The Biggest Loser). Extensive cosmetic surgery (The Swan). Endless hot-tub makeout sessions (take your pick). On reality tv, no subject is too personal to reveal, no biological function too intimate to discuss—except for one final taboo too terrible to mention: menstruation.

Compromising Positions

Gender by design on <em>Merge</em> and <em>Mix It Up</em>

Mass media, particularly so-called family television, from Bewitched to Everybody Loves Raymond, has long portrayed the home as women’s domain, an ultra-feminized realm in which housewives bustle and cluck while their hapless husbands do little more than hand out spending money and retreat to the most masculine part of the house: the study, or their favorite chair. There’s no denying the cult of the man’s chair in TV history: Those who knew Archie Bunker knew never to sit in his chair.

The Buffy Effect

Article by Rachel Fudge, appeared in issue Issue #10; published in 1999; filed under Broadcast; tagged Buffy, tv.
Or, a tale of cleavage and marketing

In the early 1990s, vampire mythology, horror revival, teen angst, and kick-ass grrlness congealed in a new figure in the pop culture pantheon of the paranormal: the vampire slayer. Not just any vampire hunter, mind you, but Buffy, the Valley-dwelling teenage slayer.

Backlash in Action

Article by Lisa Jervis, appeared in issue Issue #2; published in 1996; filed under Broadcast; tagged backlash, Murphy Brown, stereotypes, tv women, victimization, women's studies.
The Supposedly Feminist Murphy Brown

Murphy Brown’s a feminist show, right? I know it seems pretty old hat by now, but featuring a successful single mother and criticizing the Vice President is big stuff—for a sitcom, that is. Sometimes we have to take whatever we can get.


TV's Culture of Categorization

Talk shows are the scariest thing on the planet today. You think I’m exaggerating, don’t you? Think about it: not only are they the lowest common denominator of American pop culture, but they’re also—because they’re in the form of “real” people talking about their “real” lives—taken to be some measure of truth.

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