Thursday, June 26, 2014


The movie Salt is an American movie that came out in 2010. The movie plot includes many elements of the movie: Equilibrium. That is because the person who wrote Salt was the same as the Equilibrium’s writer.  Initially this movie was written for a male character to be interpreted by Tom Cruise. Cruise refused to make the movie and to complete the scripts because he thought that his role in Salt was very similar to that of the character he was performing in the Mission Impossible saga, Ethan Hunt. Ultimately, it was decided to rewrite the plot with a woman as the main character, Angelina Jolie. Because of this change, the main character, a woman in this case, was renamed as Evelyn Salt. The female main character was not chosen randomly. A very popular actor, pretty, skillful and recognized by her many outstanding performances, was chosen for Salt (pathos). She was also involved in the intense action film, Mr. and Mrs. Smith (logos). This film gives the audience a glance at her action skills. The movie Salt is filmed primarily in Washington DC and other major American cities. The reality of the political issues, though are some of the problems that have grown in the mind of the Americans over time and inspired this film. Many Americans thought of the possibility that the Soviet Union would take the revenge from the Cold War (ethos).
As mentioned earlier the protagonist of the movie is a woman, Angelina Jolie being chosen this role. This movie gained a lot of popularity for having a female protagonist. Some critics have argued that it was even better than the latest James Bond’s movies. This movie fails in the way that it does not include a black female that plays any role on the film. It was well done, though, in the way that it does not include one scene in which women are treated different than the men. In the CIA and spying fields, she plays the same role as those of his male partners. Salt is even considered better skilled than her male partner agents. Salt is also ‘’object for the male gaze’’ as she catches men’s eye wherever she goes. There is an instant in the movie in which Salt displays her sturdy character. It happens when Orlov, one of the leaders of the Soviet Union, killed her husband expecting that she, as a good Soviet soldier, would not mind. He also gave the strict order without giving her any choice to react. In this movie, however, Salt would do anything to show the power of women and her strong personality. She would kill anyone who had been involved with the Soviet Union to show her real character. I have not found the exactly age of Salt, but she surely does not look older than 45 years old. The movie also failed the Bechdel Test, which consists on having a moment in which two women are talking about a topic other than men. I have not even seen one moment in which two women were not talking about men.
The skills of Salt are the same as a man’s skills. I think they make a great job incorporating and adapting the movie to a woman. Also the movie shows that she has not one weakness. The movie relates to the fact that the women can be as strong as men. The majority of characters who act in the movie are men. They also play significant roles in the movie, but many of their performances are made to foreground the protagonist’s action. In the movie, a black man is included who is one of the main agents in the CIA where Salt work. As it is in several action movies, the film does not have sexual scenes on it, and the men do not display an extreme and unhealthy body ideal. Also the movie does not include any characters of the LGBT people group. People with disabilities are also excluded from the film.
According to the representation test the movie has been graded with a B. I was surprised at the beginning, but then when I started to look at the specific points of the test, I saw there is not much relevance to the movie. This representation test has been a great way to measure the character diversity. The film Salt does a good job to avoid the continuous pattern of giving white men the power of performing leading actions, which in the end only cause racial stereotypes. I do not think the rating of racial issues should be critically important. Today’s society does not care too much about these issues as in previous eras. The critics, however, are the ones who look into the deeper meanings of the movies. In conclusion I think the test has good points to discuss, as it encourages more female characters as film protagonists, as well as people from “minority” races such as black people, or just people with different taste who may not be attractive to the audience.

I would rate the movie as 3, and the representation test as a 2 because as I said sometimes the diversity does not mean all.

Seeing the Blind Side

The Representation Test is really important because it does shed light on the significance of diversity in the media. Audiences enjoy movies that contain a little bit of everything, but this can be ineffective when the diversity trumps the realistic development of the setting. In The Blind Side, characters are chosen to represent the true essence of the plot and the town that the story takes place in. It is important for the people and their personalities to capture the culture. In this case, the Representation Test does not serve as an accurate measurement of success, talent, or overall value. Producers should not prioritize checking all of the boxes over developing a powerful message through their story. Imagine if all movies got perfect scores on this test – all of their diversity would make them so unexcitingly similar.

The role of women in The Blind Side is very interesting. While Michael is a focal character in the film, Sandra Bullock also plays a lead role as Leigh Anne Tuohy. Beyond being very central, she is also acting as the guardian and heroine in the movie. She is equally matronly and tough toward her family and the community. Her caring side opens up to Michael and brings him in her home despite the fact that he is from an entirely different world. On the other hand, Leigh Anne understands how to motivate people and how to do what is best for them. Something else that is unique about Leigh Anne as the protagonist is that she is older. Perhaps she isn’t forty-five, but she’s a mother figure who talks about issues beyond men. However, all of the women of color in the film are present as stereotypical figures. After all, a main theme of the movie is overcoming stereotypes. In this case, this stereotype is a colored person who is underprivileged and undereducated.

As far as men in the film, there are many and they play in a variety of capacities. It’s quite obvious though, that Michael is the lead male. Michael beats his odds of being a black male who ends up unemployed, addicted, or convicted. Despite him defeating the stereotypes that would normally consume him, his role does not earn a check mark on the Representation Test for including men of color who are not reduced to racial stereotypes. This is because it is the stereotype that brings his character the attention. There is some violence present in the movie, but most of the men are supportive, especially Leigh Anne’s husband Sean and their son SJ. What is interesting about their behavior, though, is that it seems to be heavily influenced by Leigh Anne’s. They seem to pick up on her decisions and as a result, this portrays her even more strongly as a female leader. Overall, there are many instances when people – women in the community, school administrators, and coaches – doubt Michael Oher’s potential so it is really amazing to see the ones who grow to love him and empower him on his journey to success.

There is a lot to be noticed about gender display (Image Based Culture, 5). Leigh Anne Tuohy actually violates what is expected of her as a Southern woman. Technically, by her society’s standards, she is not supposed to take a black boy into her home, much less one who is illiterate and headed nowhere without her. In this situation, she should mind her own business and take care of her own family. Instead, she goes against her down-home Stepford wife façade to recreate the definition of family. Leigh Anne draws attention to her inner strength over her sexuality (Image Based Culture, 5). She is the one who leads the family forward and holds everyone together.

Black and white are really the only two races that show up in the movie. But it wouldn’t make too much sense to see anything else. After all, this is a smaller and more traditional city in the South. Furthermore, there are no disabled or homosexual people. It takes away from the diversity in the movie, but the setting itself is not supposed to be very diverse. It would distract from the heart of the film’s message. Sometimes too much embellishment is not necessary when the lessons being taught are already dramatic and powerful. This movie never glorifies violent or criminal behavior. But rather, it praises people and opportunities that overcome such obstacles. Substance abuse, undereducation, unemployment, and violent conflict are all issues that plague our society. This true story and interpretation through film show people that possibilities are endless despite the hardships that may overshadow them at first.

Ultimately, The Blind Side gets a solid B on the Representation Test. However, it gets an A+ from me. This movie deserves three/three because it truly embodies the feeling of the true story and setting. Changing the actual events for the sake of adding unnecessary diversity would take away from the unique victory won by the Tuohy’s, Michael Oher, and their community at large. The Blind Side teaches us that where a person comes from or what he looks like is not important. It’s what is inside, a man or woman’s genuine character and potential that matters. There is not a staged mixture of people who are wheelchair-bound, lesbian, Asian, or even White that could reach the audience better than it already did.

Shaken not stirred

James Bond: Skyfall is a very ironic film to talk about in a sense of determining of it is gender broad, racially broad, and has a diverse cast of less than womanizing people. The reason I say it is ironic is that fact that James Bond has always been know as a womanizer, these movies were men to watch other men kill each other and have sex with woman. The new age of James Bond took a different route in that sense.

          The first category of discussion on the test was women. This was a fun part of the test to add up because of how much it made me laugh due to the diverseness of the movie. The first box I checked was “Does the film include one or more women of color, in speaking roles, who are NOT reduced to racial stereotypes?” This couldn’t be truer. There is a character Eve, who is one of the newest field agents for the BSS (British Secret Service), she is an African American woman who actually speaks with a British accent, very intelligent, and loyal woman. She in now way was stereotyped and made to look like a fool. The next box I checked for a point was, “Does the film represent women as more than “objects for the male gaze”?” One of the main characters of the movie or movies if I may, is “M,” she is the head of the BSS and hold many prestigious awards for her duty and loyalty to the people of Great Britain and her queen. In no way is M ever looked upon for the male gaze. For obvious reasons its because she is like 70 something years old, but that aside its because she is a woman strictly for business and business only. My next added point was, “Does the film include women in speaking roles with diverse body types?” Yet again I can use my go to women M and Eve but I will as well add in Severine to this one. All of these woman are of different races, nationalities, and sizes for that matter. M is an older woman who is not fit as a fiddle, but looks good for 70 years old. She is intelligent, always in command, and has her wits about her in any situation. Eve is more of the everyday woman who has her shot at being a field agent. She is about average woman height, average woman body type, and just nothing outrageously gorgeous or ugly, she is just a easy to look at woman. Of course there is the opposite side to this track as well. We have Severine, she is a GORGEOUS Italian woman who has everything a man would desire in a woman. In the movie she is basically enslaved to some very wealthy and dangerous men and uses James Bond as her way out. The last point I received for the women category was, “Does the film pass the Bechdel Test? (Feature two or more named characters who are women, who talk to each other about something other than a man?)” There are actually numerous times in the movie that women discuss things other than talking about men, or frankly just about James. For example the Eve is on a mission attempting to assassinate someone and she is hesitating before taking the shot, while in the background M is on the phone screaming orders.
M: Can you get into a better position?
Eve: Negative, there's no time.
M[beat.] Take the shot.
[Eve hesitates.]
M: I said take the shot!

Over all this portion of the test scored quite high in my opinion giving women a major roll in the movie. Its funny to think about women getting major rolls in a James Bond movie, but hey sometimes even the sky falls.
            The next portion of the test was men. This section actually one received one check mark only because it is mainly geared toward men, in a sense of killing and being a secret agent. The only box that received a point was, “Does the film avoid perpetuating an extreme and unhealthy body ideal for men?” Daniel Craig is James Bond in this movie. And if we know anything about Daniel Craig it’s that he is as in shape as any human on the planet. This couldn’t be the more ideal situation for a male body or at least for what it really should look like. He is very active in the movie showing that someone of a less fit male could never achieve the things he does. When he is running through cities or climbing and scaling buildings, it takes a man of fitness and endurance to achieve these things. These are not the qualities that a man who is out of shape and lazy. Out of the 4 in this section it scored a 1.

            Race, Ethnicity, and Culture:
            This is the last section that scored any points for my test. As there is only one question it did in fact get the check box. The question was, “Does the film avoid celebrating offensive racial, ethnic, and cultural stereotypes?” In no way does the film in my personal opinion cross any boundaries of racial, ethnic, or culture. There are however scenes in the movie that show black men in a boat portrayed as poor and or pirate type people.  But at the time James is in a different part of the world were everyone is poor and the men on the boats are in fact pirates or thugs.
            All and all my film scored a 6 out of 27 points. To me, I say bullshit on the whole test. This is a test in my opinion is set-up so that almost any film in the industry will fail and be considered either racist, sexists, or the equivalent for gays.  If a movie like James Bond can do wonderful things in the empowerment of women why wouldn’t it score big on the test? Well, that’s because if it does good in one category it will fail, unless it is about the empowerment of lesbian women. “Despite having three strong female characters in Arwen, Eowyn, and Galadriel, they’re all in completely different parts of Middle Earth and they never even meet, much less talk to each other.”(Bechdel fails) Needless to say I was pretty surprised at the results of my film in the end because I did think this movie was a diverse and incredible film for all to see. But…according to this test there will be many offended by it. All and all I really do think that this test needs to be reevaluated and looked at. Because if I had a test whether that test was fair, it would fail…BAD! So I guess my movies gets a 2 out of 3

Match Maid in Heaven

"No matter who you are, destiny will find you."

Maid in Manhattan is a movie about a single mother working as a maid at a luxury hotel in New York City. Jennifer Lopez plays the main character, Marisa Ventura. Marisa is struggling to raise her ten-year-old son. She is also in the process of applying for a management position at the hotel. One day, while cleaning a woman’s room, a friend convinces Marisa to try on some very expensive clothes. When she does, Christopher Marshall, a single man running for U.S. Senator, walks into the room. He is automatically attracted to Marisa and assumes she is a guest at the hotel. Marisa pretends to be the rich socialite that is really staying in the room and tells him her name is Caroline. They spend some time together and begin to fall for each other. Christopher is advised not to see her because nobody knows her or anything about her background and associating with her could hurt his reputation and affect the results of the election. Marisa is advised not to see him because it could put her job in danger and she would not get the promotion if anyone found out. However, they continue to see each other. Eventually, the real Caroline figures out what has been going on and reports Marisa to the hotel manager. Marisa is fired and Christopher is upset that she had been lying. Several weeks later, Chris and Marisa are brought together again. They decide to be together because they both still really like each other, even though the press will be all over them.

Using the Representation Test, this movie scores a B. It received eight points out of a possible twenty-seven. Under the category for women, this movie got two points for having a female protagonist and another point because she is a woman of color (Jennifer Lopez). Even though her character was a single mother working as a maid and living in a rundown borough, Marisa is doing an amazing job of raising her son and is not willing to let her background define who she is or what she is capable of doing. The movie received another point for having multiple women with speaking roles that portray diverse body types. Out of the group of maids that are friends, there are various shapes and sizes and colors. This movie would pass the Bechdel Test because there are multiple scenes where several women are discussing a topic other than men. However, the movie does not have one or more woman of color that is not reduced to a stereotype. I think that all of the women of color are portrayed stereotypically. The women that you see are all maids that are cleaning up after rich socialites to make a living. Under the category for men, the movie scored two points. One point was for not glorifying violent men and the other point was for not perpetuating extreme or unhealthy body types for men. The main male character, played by Ralph Fiennes, is an average looking middle-aged man. There is not more than one male character that is of color and is not reduced to a stereotype. Most of the men in the movie are white. There are also no men that play non-stereotypical parts, such as caregiver. They are business men that tend to be overly devoted to their jobs. The movie did not receive any points for having characters with disabilities or a character that is either lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. However, it did receive a bonus point because the movie was directed by Wayne Wang, a Chinese man.

Having a variety of people portrayed in a positive way gives a movie credibility. It shows that you do not have to be a certain race or like a certain gender to have a good life. If viewers can relate themselves to one of the characters, then that helps build pathos. The audience sees a character going through some of the same struggles they have gone through and then feel emotionally attached to that person. However, if a film portrays a certain race or lifestyle in a negative way, they can get a bad reputation. If people know that movie directors or production companies created a movie that did this, they might be suspicious about future movies they produce and may not go see them, which would end up hurting their logos.

At first, I did not think that this was a fair test because there are so many requirements. It would be extremely difficult to incorporate all of these (or even half of these) elements into one movie. If someone was creating a movie and was going to make sure that all of these items could be checked off, the movie would probably not be very good. It would look over worked. Trying to create a story that incorporates characters with all of these traits would not be able to focus on the humor or typical love connection seen in most movies. However, the movie only needs to score eleven out of twenty-seven points to receive an A. Since that is less than half, I decided that the test was pretty fair. I would give this movie two out of three. 
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Life dvd movie cover.jpg

The protagonist of this film is not a woman, but is a male. Throughout the film, there are very few scenes which involve women. In this film, there are only two women shown throughout the whole entire one hundred and nine minute film. There is no question that the women are just placed in the movie to be “objects for the male gaze.” When the women are shown, they are portrayed as a woman who will have sex for money, and as a woman who cheats on her husband. The woman who portrays a prostitute is of African American ethnicity, and the woman who portrays the adulterer is of Caucasian ethnicity. For the time period of the movie, which is the 1930’s and 40’s in the scenes that they are in, I would say that both of these women fit into racial stereotypes.  White women in this time period had more of a curvaceous body type, along with black women. This film does not pass the Bechdel Test, as it does not feature two or more women, who talk to each other about something other than men.
              This movie is about two men who discover the meaning of life while spending theirs in prison. In the first scene with the two main characters, they encounter a meeting with several of the inmates, who introduce themselves and tell their stories of how they got in prison. As the scene unfolds and the men talk amongst each other, they do it in such a way that the man with the scariest or most gruesome story of how he got in prison is idolized or considered a “bad ass,” by the other prisoners. I would say that they did a good job of avoiding perpetuating an unhealthy body ideal for men. Of the thirty prisoners that are shown throughout this film, only one is obese, and he is the prisoner who is idolized for committing such a terrible crime. In this film, there are only two men of color shown: white and black. All of the prisoners are black, and the warden and man in charge of watching over the prisoners are white. These definitely fit into the racial stereotypes of the time period as racism was still very active. This film however, does not include men in non-stereotypical roles. They do a good job of not celebrating offensive racial, ethnic, and cultural stereotypes. In the scenes that do show racism occurring, they show how bad racism is, and each of the individuals who did racist acts, were punished during the movie. There are several scenes in which they show the struggle of what black men went through in the forties, and they do so in a way that draws sympathy (pathos) from the audience.   The protagonist in this film is not gay, bisexual, or transgender. But they do portray two gay men in the film. Both are reduced to stereotypes though, because we do know that men in prison tend to prefer a different sexuality when they are going to be in prison for a long time. The protagonist in this film does not have a disability, but they do include one character that does have a disability. This characters story line is limited to their disability. In the two scenes that that this character is shown, he is incapable of speaking and when he does, it is very quiet stuttering. He is a talented baseball player that with the help of the protagonist in this film is able to be granted a pardon to play in the major leagues.
            This film is written, directed, and produced by all men. The only of these that is of color, is the producer, Eddie Murphy, who is a well-known and highly respected actor as well. None of these however, are of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender sexuality. Nor do any of these men have disabilities. Although this movie lacks diversity, and would appear to be a very simple black and white film, it does have comedy and a touching showing of a “bromance” type of relationship that keeps the viewer interested. I consider this a classic movie, one that I can watch over and over again without wanting to shoot myself. This film receives a “C” as I could only check four of the boxes on the REP Test. I rate this film one directors cut.

The Not-So-Representative Representation Test

There are many, many stereotypes at play in the 2008 comedy Pineapple Express, a comedy chronicling two marijuana enthusiasts journey after finding themselves in trouble with drug dealers and the law. This film scored an F when I filled out the representation test for it, obtaining zero points and I can’t disagree. While there are many problems with this test-which I will get to later-this film certainly fails in representation while also reinforcing, often popular, but false stereotypes.
            Pineapple Express really only has one major female role, if you even want to call it that. A female police officer is played by an attractive actress and commands very little respect throughout the film, disqualifying the role for any of the points for women on the representation test. Also, the actress, Rosie Perez, was 44 at the time of the film and doesn’t pass the over the age of 45 question as well. Next, the men in this film are violent in parts and are overly stereotypical. One of the most famous lines of the film includes James Franco shouting an obscenity then attempting to gun down police. This, to me, can be classified as glorifying violence. In terms of characters in the film, the low-lever pot dealer and his customer-turned-friend are young, lower-middle class, disorganized, goofy, white males. This is the first sign of a stereotype being introduced in this film. Continuing the trend of cultural and racial stereotypes, you would never guess what race the “thug” working for the big time drug dealer is. Finally, when the Asian gang arrives towards the end of the movie, the same, worn out, Asian jokes and stereotypes are turned into humor once again. In terms of the representation test, this disqualifies the film from the final question about men and the only question in the Race, Ethnicity and Culture section. Finally, the film has no use of LGBT people or people with disabilities and gains no bonus points.
Now, this is not to say that “the representation test” is the be-all-end-all for determining films credibility. In fact, I have many problems with this test and its criteria. First, something as elaborate as a film or script certainly cannot be judged by 16 simple questions, most of which are irrelevant, in my opinion. First, the test asks if the protagonist is a woman or a woman of color. It is absurd to me that a films credibility can be damaged by simply not having its protagonist be a woman of color. Every film is unique and has a different storyline and setting. Just because a film may need certain characters doesn’t mean it is racist or unfairly represents society. Some films take place in small-town, rural America, requiring a mostly Caucasian cast while others may take place in African-American neighborhoods, requiring a very different cast. Using this example, both films could accurately represent their respective settings and still score very poorly on this test. Similarly, a film about a lesbian, of color, under the age of 45, would score very highly on this test. However, that does not reveal in the slightest whether this film would be truly accurate of this society. This hypothetical film could greatly misrepresent what is means to be a woman of color or homosexual, and could even be offensive, yet would still do well on this test. This leads me to believe that what the test attempts to address is simply meaningless, in addition to the very poor criteria selections. The statement at the bottom corner tells us “an “A” does not guarantee that a film addresses every structural issue of inequality, but simply represents a diverse array of people and experiences.” These 16 questions still do not even guarantee that a film will actually represent these “experiences” they claim of. These “experiences” could be false and even harmful, yet all this test shows is whether they’re there. This is like telling someone “well, the menu at restaurant X looks like it may or may not have a good selection, but we can’t tell you anything about the actual food.” This is meaningless advice, as is this test.

            Although I am not a fan of the representation test, I do approve of the low score for Pineapple Express. The film does nothing but reinforce social stereotypes and fails to “represent” any characters that would make an argument to the contrary. While this film mostly received good reviews due to its humor, much of which is based off of these stereotypes, in that sense it does a poor job of representing society accurately.  Comedian Steve Hardy told The Hollywood Reporter, “Hollywood is more racist than America is. They put things on TV that they think the masses will like.” No movie portrays this better than Pineapple Express. The masses seem to enjoy Asian jokes or African-American stereotypes in film, regardless of how offensive we may find it in real life. All producers do is cater to this mass and their demands. Because film is not reality, as shown in Pineapple Express, Hollywood truly is more racist than real-life America.