A Girl’s Guide to Happiness (As Seen on TV)
Here’s my video and write up. I’ll miss our wonderful class!!
Originally, I intended to create a visual representation of the deployment of sexuality described in Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1. I wanted to display the ways in which different discourses in the media have represented sexuality and influenced me (whether consciously or not). My initial plan did not have a sharp focus and so when I set out to create the final video project, things were not cohesive and my statement was not clear. I decided to revise my plan in order to incorporate my interest in the deployment of sexuality, but also add in Judith Butler’s theory of performativity as it appeared in my final essay.
It was evident as I began working on the project that, even though I wanted to use a hodge-podge of media sources (TV, film, ads, etc.) I should pick one source and one type of media reference in order to make a video that flows and makes a clear statement. I chose to look at television advertisements from 1991-2012. I wanted to use the creative project as an opportunity to reflect on my own immersion into an understanding of sexuality and gender performance, so I chose to start the time frame in 1991, the year I was born.
The process of finding and cutting down clips was fun and also very frustrating. I was interested to look at the ways that certain commercials so explicitly oversimplified gender roles and sexuality (e.g. the Barbie wedding commercial in the beginning). Also, as I began my search for clips, I realized how challenging it was to think of specific examples of sexuality within media, because it’s everywhere. Ultimately, I decided that the best way to keep things focused and show meaningful clips rather than an onslaught of unrelated images, was to think about my own growth into my idea of what a woman is, and how certain influences in the media may have shaped this notion.
I framed the final video so that the oversimplified ads of childhood led into more complicated notions of gender roles as they are related to appearance and gesture. I found this set up a good reflection of how I understand the deployment of sexuality in the media and the insisted performance of “woman.” I thought it was necessary to set up the same idealized notion of love and marriage that is presented to young girls before showing how those same girls are ultimately exposed to other images that suggest they have to act a particular way in order to reach that ideal. In many cases the images suggested by the media as the best female performance contradict the notion of a fairy tale wedding or lifestyle. At the end of the video I chose to take small parts of the clips I showed in full length to make a quick “review” of what it takes to be a happy girl (according to TV). I chose to show these clips without sound so that the suggestions could really set in without humorous words or outdated phrases, which can distract from what’s really being said.
Though the project could have gone more in depth, I think it was successful in terms of reflecting course themes as well as demonstrating how I’ve come to think about sexuality in different ways after participating in this course. Perhaps more strategic planning would have allowed for a more complex project, but all in all this video was a really interesting and thought provoking project to create. I realized just how immersed within sexuality as a part of many discourses I am and have been since a very young age.