"Oppression tries to defend itself by its utility."

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hyperlinks: A Tangle of Discourses

In "A Tangle of Discourses", the author discusses the problems adolescents have with their parents, society, and each other. However, it's not the usual raging hormones or lack of respect for authority that the article is concerned with. It's the effects of adults and their behavior on adolescents. It is also the effects of warning society of the behavior of adolescents without sufficient data to support the claim. Further, adolescents are a targeted group of consumers. Combine all of these different social problems together and the question becomes is it teens, is the construction of age, or is it a combination?

The author points to the idea that many adults are going through a mid-life crisis about the same time their teens are going through adolescence. The link and the article both suggest that parents begin to go through a period of adjustment where they are morning the loss of their youth and may be hit relatively hard with the realization that they are envious of their children's youth. Instead of admitting to this fact, the pressure is then applied to the adolescent. The adolescent is told that she is hormonal, moody, and difficult-that this is how teenagers behave. In the article, some of the girls struggle with this very idea. They don't feel that they are behaving in these different ways. In Jess' case, she discussed the struggle with being tired-walking up several floors at school, having lots of homework, and the pressure of socialization. Regardless of what the teens say, adults see them as a burden to the daily routine. It's not only parents but an entire adolescent industry focuses on how different teens are without context. This includes doctors and therapists who often further instill these ideas:

Such conflicting ideas about how one is supposed to behave and how one actually behaves has quite an impact on the girls interviewed. They shun the word teenager as if it were an embarrassment. Yet they shunned the stereotyping of teenagers by adults especially over-exaggerations about violence and behavior. Often articles like the previous link focus on teen violent acts but do not ask the proper questions like is the threat of teen violence real? This dialogue becomes problematic because it only focuses on a perceived anger from teen males against society as opposed to discussing the facts that 25% of females under the age of 24 will either be the victims of sexual violence or partner abuse. This "dialogue" that is presented is a false one-teens are expected to conform to societal standards such as being nice and pleasent while encouraging the idea that teens are rude, abusive, and violent. This conversation prevents "us" from hearing from teens. This discussion limits their agency and attempts to force them into a passive defender of being aged 12-20.

The focus on teens is not healthy. They are bombarded with messages from where to shop, how to behave, and what is the proper way to be a female teenager. All of these messages that focus on negatives then create a negative experience for teens. Most teens are living a normal life, so why not represent that?

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Our Common Mythology

In Linda Christensen's piece, "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us," she conveys ideas about societal construction of the young minds through media. She considers this process to be "our society's culture industry" which effectively "colonizes their minds and teaches them how to act, live, and dream." The example from the article point to cartoons, children's books, and movies as the "most influential genre read".

Race, sexuality, gender, and their performances are constructed in each one of these pieces of media. Parents often do not realize how bad this is for their children because they grew up watching/reading the same sort of media. One of Christensen's students beautifully states, ""True death equals a generation living by rules and attitudes they never questioned and producing more children who do the same." Although the quote is dark, it reveals the real problem of this sort of hegemonic capitalistic media.

The easiest example of this sort of social hegemony is the Disney cartoons. Children watch the movies, read the books, wear the clothing, have birthday parties themed around the cartoons, and so on. Not only does the media tell young folks how to think about others and themselves, it also tells them what they want. This can only be countered by concerned parents, extended family, and educators.These three groups of people have a profound impact on children and limiting this sort of media is not lessening their childhood experience, rather it will only enrich their childhood. No one fits into the stereotypes that Disney presents and children should not inferior nor superior due to these falsehoods. But let's be honest, Disney isn't going anywhere so what do concerned people do?

Christensen's article prescribes some different approaches in countering the media targeted to young children and youth. One example is that she requests people focus on one particular cartoon. This way, they will be familiar with the content, are able to recognize the patterns, and are able to discuss the problems in the cartoons. Another example she gives is asking students to write about real world solutions that focus on the topic at hand. Such approaches make students teach others the knowledge they have gained and this is how you wake up one generation and prevent it from being passed on to the next.