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THE MEDIUM Vo l u m e I V * Wi nte r 2 0 16

C O N C O R D I A ’s U N D E R G R A D U AT E J O U R N A L o f C O M M U N I C AT I O N & C U L T U R A L S T U D I E S

THE MEDIUM co n co rdia’s undergraduate journal of communic at ion and cultural studi es

VO L . I V WINTER 2016

Editor-in-Chief & Layout Designer

Kelann Currie-Williams

Co-Editor Co-Editor

Catherine DubĂŠ Amanda Macri

Cover Photo

Estelle Beauchemin-Daoust

Faculty Advisor

Liz Miller

“Theory and critique are provisional, pragmatic activities. As Stuart Hall has argued, there are no guarantees... Even more importantly, they may provide us with the tools with which we can intervene into cultural and communicational processes in order to facilitate more democratic societies. We have no guarantees, but we do have the ability and the duty to continue improving. To paraphrase Marx, our task is to change the world, not merely to describe it.� Dr. Martin Allor (1954-2016) Cinema, Culture and the Social Formation: Ideology and Critical Practice, 1984

To Marty -- for his unwavering support of our academic pursuits, for being a mentor to so many and for instilling a love of communication and cultural studies in us all.

ED I TORS ’ NOTE Dear reader, The COMS Guild (Communication Studies Student Association) is proud to present you with the fourth edition of the Communication Studies department’s very own academic journal. The Medium’s creation stems from an effort to showcase the academic work of students from the Communications department. The department has initiated a multitude of endeavours in order to present the video, sound and intermedia productions of students, and The Medium offers an outlet for students to get their academic work recognized and published. Communication Studies students have a unique critical perspective to offer on a myriad of subjects, ranging from hacktivism to the ritual viewing of cult films in this issue, and we hope to spark your curiosity and get your critical thinking gears turning. Sincerely, Steffi Matheos, President Catherine Dubé, Councillor Amanda Macri, VP of Internal/External Affairs Kelann Currie-Williams, VP of Academic Affairs Chanel Manzone, VP of Communications Toni Macris, VP of Cultural Studies Marisa Sollazzo, VP of Finance Christopher Czich, First Year Representative

GU E ST LE TTE R Dear reader, The Medium is a unique publication the Coms Guild puts together each year to showcase the exceptional talent of Concordia Communication Students. Papers are submitted and reviewed by members of the Guild and this issue marks the 4th year of this innovative journal. This 2016 issue included papers covering hactivism, audience reception, feminism, the role of comedy in an increasing complex society and more. Students artfully apply theoretical frameworks to contemporary issues such as privacy, power, and privilege. This provocative collection demonstrates the kind of originality, rigorous argumentation, and ethical frameworks that make Communication students stand out.

Sincerely, Liz Miller, MFA Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies



Lindsay Coll


Emma Flavian

22 27 33 37 41

“Nuzzling up to the prickly joke”: An Analysis of Jon Caramanica’s article in the October 4th Issue of the New York Times

The Revolution will be Televised: Scandal, Cixous, and the Liberation from the Phallus

Catherine Poitras Auger Hacktivism and the Global Cybar War

Zynor Majeed

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Community FormationThrough Ritual Viewing

Valerie Smith

Louis Agassiz’s Slave Daguerreotypes: How Context and Hegemony Dehumanized Slavery

Amanda Vitaro

Like the Child and the Fairytale: A Story on Childhood and the Creation of the Children’s Market

Jihan Mourad

Checking the “Other” Box: An Analysis of the “Fetishization” of the “Exotic” Arab Woman


By: Lindsay Coll October 3rd marked the premiere of the 41st season of the popular sketch-series Saturday Night Live. The show has seen many comedians come and go over the years, each leaving their own mark through their performances of varying characters. Tina Fey, Will Ferrell and Gilda Radner will be remembered for their performances of Sarah Palin, George W. Bush and Roseanne Roseannadanna, respectively. Some cast members leave their mark based mainly on their own personality or comedic approach: Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Adam Sandler and John Belushi, to name a few. One of the show’s newest cast members, Pete Davidson, has managed to distinguish himself from the rest of the recent additions, namely Leslie Jones, Colin Jost and Michael Che. At age 20, Davidson, now 22, joined the cast as one of the youngest members in history, only behind Anthony Michael Hall, Eddie Murphy and Robert Downey Jr.. Through his dark humour, Pete Davidson challenges the idealistic approaches to mainstream comedy, highlighting the power and freedom that is expressed through this type of public speaking. In the New York Times’ October 4th 2015 issue, Jon Caramanica’s “Nuzzling Up

to the Prickly Joke” article reflects on the ways in which SNL‘s first 90’s baby demonstrates alternative humour techniques. This paper will examine comedy as its own form of discourse, with a particular focus on the governmental control of accepted comedic techniques. Further, this paper will analyze the ways in which comedy can approach and tackle real-life issues through humour. Through comedy, humourists have made significant changes in the political landscape. Satirical comedy in particular has proven to successfully question the authoritative styles of hard news channels such as FOX News or CNN. Evidenced in the wildly popular The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, soft news uses comedy to urge audiences to think critically about the news they consume. The subjects in question are generally similar to mainstream news stories but the approach taken by the satirist differs, exposing content that is not generally talked about on major news networks. For instance, the sound clips singled out from one of George Bush’s speeches for hard news stories are edited


to make the former president’s deliverance sound like a “tightly constructed set of words that suggest clarity of thought and purpose”, whereas The Daily Show decided to show alternative snippets which “call into question his focus and perhaps his sincerity” (Baym, ). News satirists, comedians who use sarcasm as humour to address news stories, have the platform of popular television programs to speak of serious issues in the world more lightly and use this platform in alternative ways than hard news anchors would; their goal being to entertain. Soft news anchors such as Colin Jost, Michael Che from SNL’s Weekend Update, and Jon Stewart also have the ability to educate audiences. Former SNL head writer Seth Meyers has admitted that the joke structure of Weekend Update is basic. Each segment begins with a real news story, such as “Disney has developed a new video game called ‘Disney City Girl’, which lets players shop and work their way up the social ladder”, followed by a humourous spin: “to win the game, you just have to defeat all the progress women have ever made”. Through this type of humour, viewers learn about real news and can understand it from a different perspective; a perspective which generally deems mainstream news as ridiculous. These often ignored and avoided points of view in the mainstream news media are covered thoroughly in mock-news where taboo comments and seemingly bold statements often leave a crowd in shocked laughter. Comedy has the ideal platform for addressing hard-hitting news in a way that mainstream news does not. Sensitive and emotional events, such as the 9/11 tragedy, are rarely joked about on television at all due to the backlash that might follow from audiences. However, Pete Davidson’s entire persona on SNL is largely based on his real-

life experiences, most of which a lot of people would not be comfortable talking about. Caramanica’s article quotes Amy Schumer’s opinion about Davidson’s honesty in his writing: “some people do comedy and you just feel they don’t have to. Like, ‘why are you doing this?’ But we have to do this”, insinuating the importance of Davidson’s humour (Caramanica). The author quotes Davidson’s opinion about his dark humour on SNL, writing “I’m like ‘Heyyyy, I just want to talk about this, that everybody’s uncomfortable about’. I like doing that. I like making things that are dark, awkward, weird things that you don’t really find funny, funny” (Caramanica). Davidson, a featured cast member on SNL, integrates his personality into the characters he plays, notably the recurrent The Resident Young Person on Weekend Update. His nonchalant attitude towards heavy and awkward topics encourages audiences to laugh, albeit reluctantly. In bringing up such topics, Davidson familiarizes audiences to subjects from his personal point of view, inciting viewers to be more comfortable with this type of humour. In fact, studies show that satirical humour proves to be educational for viewers who do not take the humour too seriously. According to Kristen Heflin in her article “Laughter Helps Interpret the News”, “[The Daily Show] does more than make viewers laugh: it exposes the workings of political and social institutions, giving viewers valuable insight into the way our democracy functions” (Heflin 26).


Judith Butler’s article “Sovereign Performances in the Contemporary Scene of Utterance” reflects on the ways that language has the potential to be culturally powerful. In regards to pornography and racism, the author explains the implications of uttering hate speech. The regulation of hate speech by the state,

according to Butler, gives them authority to “actively [produce] the domain of publically acceptable speech, demarcating the line between the domains of the speakable and the unspeakable and retaining the power to make and sustain that consequential line of demarcation” (Butler 356). In fact, the Federal Communications Commission in the United States is responsible for regulating foul language on television. The FCC defines profanity as “including language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance” (FCC). Like indecency, profane speech is prohibited on broadcast radio and television between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

to be that outlet for the unspeakable to be spoken in a way that’s acceptable. If you’re not offending someone, you’re not doing your job. (Cohen and Richards) This relates directly to Caramanica’s article about Pete Davidson’s style of humour. As the first performer on Justin Bieber’s Comedy Central roast, Davidson addressed Bieber, “I lost my dad on 9/11, and I always regretted growing up without a dad… until I met your dad, Justin. Now I’m glad mine’s dead” (Caramanica). The reaction from the crowd was shock and then awkward laughter, just the response Davidson looks for. The regulations surrounding the content audiences cannot handle are evidenced here where Caramanica notes that “Only four of the 11 minutes of material Mr. Davidson did at the Bieber roast made it to air” the rest was deemed unspeakable for broadcast. Davidson admits, “My favourite joke was cut. It was, ‘Kevin Hart is literally the biggest comedian in the world—according to Robin Williams’s suicide note” (Caramanica). Bruce Handy’s article in the New York Times, “Humor: Bob Odenkirk’s ‘A Load of Honey,’ and More”, discusses the point that Eric Kaplan, writer for The Big Bang Theory, tries to get across:

The control of what is being said on television by the state determines the content that societies deem as “taboo” or “foul”. Shock humour is only considered as such when it surpasses the lines that have been drawn by the state, using loopholes to address topics that make audiences uncomfortable. Roger Cohen and Ryan Richards conducted interviews for their article “When the Truth Hurts, Tell a Joke: Why America Needs Its Comedians” in July of 2006. Stephen Rosenfield, director of the American Comedy Institute, and stand up comedian Greg Giraldo’s comments on the topic of “taboo” comedy found in said article are pertinent to this argument:

Kaplan stands up for certain rape jokes, cancer jokes and Holocaust jokes on similar grounds: as ways to grapple with the contradictions of being human and with the meanings — if there are any — behind life’s cruelties… By laughing at something ostensibly inappropriate, Kaplan argues, we honor the awfulness of whatever it is we are laughing at and also acknowledge our distance from it… Put another way, some of the darkest jokes are profoundly empathetic. (Handy)

America needs its comedians to start conversations about taboo subjects it’s afraid to confront. We also need stand-up comedy as a venue for minorities to challenge the assumptions of mainstream society. What makes all of this work is the laugh. If it’s funny, people can treat heavy content lightly… It’s a comedian’s job to go too far. Otherwise he’s not fulfilling his functions. Comics are the court jesters. There has


Judith Butler recognizes that the utterance of hate speech could hinder the progress of racial and gender equality by perpetuating negative ideas and comments. While the shock comedy performed by Pete Davidson is by no means considered hate speech since he is not being hateful, Butler’s remarks regarding the state’s discursive power are applicable to Davidson’s act. The reason for “the giggling in the room [being] cut with a palpable gasp [after Davidson’s 9/11 joke], as if a few hundred people had all been simultaneously kicked in the sternum while being tickled” is that audiences are not used to this type of “post-trauma, posttrigger-warning comedy” in mainstream TV (Caramanica). Addressing serious topics through his comedy, the stand-up in question challenges the authoritative figures by, according to Amy Schumer, “deliberately walking on eggshells” (Caramanica). The distinction between humour that perpetuates stereotypes and shock humour is relevant to bring to light at this stage. While they seem interrelated, the two are not the same. Racist jokes, while they are merely meant as entertainment, are often not well received by critics, regardless of whether the audience laughs or not. In fact, this type of joke is accused of being at the foundation of racism today. In understanding communication as a form of conduct, Butler argues that “racist speech in particular both proclaims the inferiority of the race to whom it is addressed and effects the subordination of that race through the utterance itself ” (Butler 352). As Amy Schumer, who formerly made racist and sexist jokes during her stand-up shows, admits, “once I realized I had more eyes and ears on me and had an influence, I stopped telling jokes like that on stage” (Schumer). The comedian, however, supports Davidson’s humour fully,

understanding its role in bringing up topics that are too often left untouched. A distinction to note here, evidenced in Schumer’s interview with, is that racist humour’s goal is “shock value” by wrongfully depicting cultures, whereas shock humour looks to raise issues that make the audience uncomfortable without directly targeting an individual or group (Bailey). One tactic is educational, while the other is counter-productive in terms of making progress on racial equality. This essay has consistently argued the educational importance of the type of shock humour adopted by Pete Davidson, as demonstrated in Jon Caramanica’s “Nuzzling Up to the Prickly Joke” article in the October 4th issue of The New York Times. In relating Davidson’s tactics to those adopted by The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, this paper has effectively shed light on the ways these humourists have the ability and platform to raise questions about mainstream news networks. Judith Butler’s article proved most relevant in distinguishing shock value, such as racist humour, from shock humour, where the comedian does not use hate speech to evoke laughter. Butler’s focus on a public’s perception of “taboo” has been analyzed throughout, establishing that governmental control of content indeed shapes our understanding of “normal”. Multiple scholarly studies on the subject, as well as interviews with relevant figures in the industry, have proven to be foundational in supporting the argument. Davidson’s spot on SNL as the youngest current cast member secures his position for delivering shockingyet-educational humour to large audiences.


Bailey, Rob. “’Trainwreck’ Amy Schumer Loves Staten Island, Wu-Tang, Pete

Davidson.”, 19 July 2015. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.

Baym, Geoffrey. “The Daily Show: Discursive Integration and the Reinvention

of Political Journalism.” Political Communication 22.3 (2005): 259-

276. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.

Butler, Judith. “Sovereign Performance in the Contemporary Scene of

Utterance.” Critical Inquiry 23.2 (1997): 350-377. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.

Caramanica, Jon. “Pete Davidson Nuzzles Up to the Prickly Joke.” The New

York Times. The New York Times Company, 01 Oct. 2015. Web.

Cohen, Roger, and Ryan Richards. “When the Truth Hurts, Tell a Joke: Why

America Needs Its Comedians.” Humanity in Action. Humanity in

Action Inc., n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.

FCC. “TV: Obscene, Indecent and Profane Broadcasts.” FCC Consumer Help

Center. Federal Communications Commission, n.d. Web. 06 Dec

2015. Handy, Bruce. “Humor: Bob Odenkirk’s ‘A Load of Hooey,’ and More.” The

New York Times. The New York Times Company, 05 Dec. 2014.

Web. 06 Dec. 2015.

Heflin, Kristen. “Laughter Helps Interpret the News.” Television Quarterly

36.3-4 (2006): 26-31. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.

Schumer, Amy (amyschumer). Twitter. 06 Jul. 2015, 12:07 p.m. Tweet.




By: Emma Flavian It’s a frustrating thing, the unending ambiguity of the term “feminism.” We are women: we are subjects of gender (de Lauretis, 1987, p. 6). We are feminists: we are subjects of feminism, too (de Lauretis, 1987, p. 9), and it is not the same thing, but we are, like gender, always within and with-out it; feminism’s historical women in search of liberation, and feminism’s symbolical women, in search of our selves (de Lauretis, 1987, p. 26). Or, perhaps, that should read: in search of our recognizable selves. In search of our better selves. In search of our real selves. Feminism needs not, de Lauretis writes, be pulled between academia and activism—as if these two fields could ever be mutually exclusive—yet she argues the positioning of this dialectic as one beneficial for the field (1990, p. 27), and I tend to agree. Academia is one thing, and activism is another, and neither could be fully contained or fully free from either theory or practice, but let both of them exist as distinctively, separate categories; to force them together would be to lose the ambiguous space where they meet. So, too, should the historical woman and the symbolical woman of feminism be allowed space from one another. The spaces where they meet—equal though distinct—are both

necessary, as liberation cannot be found if our selves are still waiting to be recovered and we cannot regain our maligned, lost identities when our freedom has yet to be won. In her paper “The Laugh of the Medusa,” Hélène Cixous writes the symbolical woman for the historical woman (1976, p. 875). She writes her liberation so that it may be legible. The symbolical for the historical - could fiction not be described under these terms? It is de Lauretis, too (though she is not the only one), who writes of the en-gendering of historical subjects under the reproduction of a representation (1987, p. 10) because, what is fiction but a representation, continually caught in the ideologies of its creator? What is theory, de Lauretis continues, but the exact same thing (1987, p. 24), if without the double-blind plaguing fiction: that of its verisimilitude? Scandal, like Cixous, speaks of symbolical subjects for historical subjects. That its characters are the de facto historical subject of the symbolical realm it constructs is tangential to this paper. Like Cixous, again, I find the symbolics embedded in their reality to be of more interest. Few TV programs, after all, do the semiotics of


power in its gendered existence quite like Scandal and less even, that I have seen, allow for a reading of its premise and characters which subsumes them fully to their symbolical value. Like Cixous’s woman, the women of Scandal are not merely the subject their history has made them, they are the essential Woman (different, here, than de Lauretis’s Woman—the alleged essence permeating all women). They represent (or rather have the potential to represent), in their symbolism, all women in their historicity (Cixous, 1976, p. 875). Their battle, however, is not that of all historical, that is individual women - though I hold that it is in their name and benefit - it is that of the feminist subject, as presented by de Lauretis and delineated in Cixous’s essay. It is of the modality and necessary ethics of their liberation, in its accordance to Cixous’s advocated insubordination of phallocentric laws, that I shall speak; and so, too, will I speak of the necessary transformation it demands and incurs in women from the dismantlement of de Lauretis’ fallacious Woman to the appearance of the subject of feminism - that is, the woman outside of the hegemonic order (de Lauretis, 1987, p. 25). Let’s start with the phallus. Cixous begins her essay with what woman’s writing will do (1976, p. 825) and I shall begin mine with what hinders it. We cannot talk about gender in the same way that we cannot talk about liberation without talking power; even though talking power, even feminist power, so often leads to essentializing that same male dominance, that same order, which has kept this talking down (de Lauretis, 1987, p. 1). But we can’t go about fixing something that we don’t speak and there must, Barrett writes, be a space given for interrogation of male power and ordained female subservience which does not, by necessity, reify these two

factions in an unshakable binary dynamic (as cited in de Lauretis, 1987, p. 8). So, let’s talk phallus: signifier of male power, harbinger of its own (self-reifying) laws, foundation of psychoanalytic thought which Cixous cites and challenges—that same thought which ties this power and its attributes to the center of manhood, under its order: the penis (1976, p. 884). Lacanian thought may have taken leaps to disembody this signifier, but it remains unshakably, in the phallocentric discourse it promotes and is promoted by, tied to the idea of the man (Lacan, 1977, p. 1303) and thus, unavoidably, tied to what has been defined as “his” body, in its difference (and superiority) to “her” body. It is important, when studying gender relation, to watch for the phallus; to recognize its link to male power. It is less important, I posit (along with many theoreticians of gender), to hold onto the binary it espouses (de Lauretis, 1987, p. 1). We are not beholden in using the logic of the phallus; we do not have to hold onto its link to the penis, when doing so would force us to give credence to an ideology—that of the sexgender system—which, by design, maintains the hierarchical notion of gender which phallocentrism thrives on (de Lauretis, 1987, p. 9). Let’s, if only here, remove the phallus from the body completely. Let’s imagine a definition of male power through more than what the sex-gender system assigns as male attributes. If the holder of the phallus is the one in power, then let us imagine a phallus that allows for all representations of power, and not merely one which hinges upon a natural difference between an essential “him” and “her”—while still recognizing this construct as one necessary to phallocentric thinking, and the phallus as representation of a specific power, that of the man (Cixous, 1976, p. 884).


Phallus as the signifier of the power of the man.

Phallus as the signifier of the power held by the man, but perhaps not inherent, not fixed, not solely “his”. Take the phallus away from the body—take the body away from phallocentrism— and who’s to say it cannot be grasped by a woman? Not, then, that it would become feminine power, as the phallus is masculine power, and there resides its specificity. Phallocentrism breeds hierarchy - breeds asymmetrical power relations - breeds (lawful) exploitation of those under by those above (Cixous, 1976, p. 893). These are the attributes of the rule of the phallus—the attributes which benefit men— and where better to find their representation than in the political world of Scandal—a show which, at every turns and amidst its romantic center, relentlessly sings odes to the incommensurate, capitalistic, masculinist power which lies in the Oval Office and in the hand of the man (or woman) within it? In Scandal’s Washington, D.C, power relations permeate every room, every interaction and nowhere so obviously than in the symbol of political power that is the White House. Scandal’s President Fitzgerald Grant is, we are reminded times and times again in patriotic diatribes praising the man and the Office, the man with the power. A power which, certainly has been granted to him through ownership of the Oval—of the phallus—but also a power which, in his societal privileges as a white, heterosexual cisgender man, he is fit to wield by phallocratic standards of powerful masculinity (Consalvo, 2003, p. 30). Lastly, a power, in which, not-so-tangentially, he is continually supported by those in positions of lesser power than he: his wife, a white woman; his Chief of Staff, a gay man; and his lover, a Black woman - all of whom are not only central to the exercise of his functions (of which he takes credit), but, both symbolically and quite textually to his rise to power and

arrival into the presidency—and thus into his role as he who has the power; the phallus (Cixous, 1976, p. 886; Consalvo, 2003, p. 30).


Not-so-tangentially, I said, because the rule of the phallus necessitate, in some form or another, to be reified through alterity (Cixous, 1976, 887). We won’t speak, here, of bodily alterity—the original recourse of phallocentrism in the maintaining of the heteropatriarchy under which it thrives (Butler, 1998, p. 524)—since we have waded in the symbolic, where positions of power have substituted the organ which originated the phallus. If we choose to link the Oval Office, and more broadly the White House West Wing—locus of the power of the presidency—to masculine power and all of its derivative, then it stands as reason to position, as Scandal does, the East Wing—locus of the domestic sphere of the White House and of the First Lady, of the normative femininity necessitated when forming normative heterosexuality (Butler, 1998, p. 524)—as that space whose lack of power enables that of the phallus (Cixous, 1976, p. 884). It is the symbolical realm of Cixous’ Old Woman (1976, p. 878) or de Lauretis’ Woman, for they are one and the same, though one is the essence foisted upon the historical other (1987, p. 9); it is the realm of the Woman as phallocentrism needs her to be - the Woman compelled to the constant reproduction of a representation which silences the self in “herself” (Cixous, 1976, p. 878; de Lauretis, 1987, p. 10); the realm where Woman may be kept silent by being reminded of her place at the outskirts of the public, political, active sphere (Cixous, 1976, p. 880; Carson, 1994, p. 125), and may forfeit autonomy over her body, both by having the children demanded by the phallus in our heteropatriarchal society (Butler, 1998, p. 524; Cixous, 1976, p. 890), and embodying the

means to the satisfaction of he who holds the phallus (Lacan, 1977, p. 1307)—whether wife or mistress. Scandal calls it a “prison,” (Van Dusen & Wilson, 2015) a “cage” (Wilding & Verica, 2015); Cixous would call it the “room” in which women are incarcerated and taught to fear moving into another space where they might be free—where they might find their selves (1976, p. 877). Both of them demand the modifier “symbolical” to be attached to the realm they describe; quite evidently in Cixous’ case (I pray there isn’t any actual rooms suited expressively to the purpose which she describes), and rather more importantly in that of Scandal, for the implications of an East Wing - which is not being written (and read) as a commentary on the ostracizing of women from positions of power in normative, heteropatriarchal, phallocratic orders, and their—women’s use by men to further their own power - would imply an obliteration of traditionally feminine occupations from the creation and existence of the feminist subject which Cixous (and I) judge as detrimental—both to the field of study, and to the movement of activism (1976, p. 890).

bid for freedom from the phallus and its constraints, and the acts through which each embodies Cixous’ New Woman, where she who goes beyond the Old, beyond what she has been taught, in her “room,” that she could do—that she could be. By the end of this fifth season, each has freed herself—and, to an extent, the other—and, by following Cixous’ path to the “new” from the “old” (1976, p. 875), regained a life devoid of limitations upon how to perform, embody, and exist in her self. Olivia and Mellie have “returned,” letting go, in doing so, of the shame permeating their bodies and voices (1976, p. 877). At the crux of Cixous’ revolt against phallocentrism is the capacity inherent in all women (if tragically dormant) for insurgence, for noise, for the sort of strength and will which could topple empires as strong as that which the phallus and its laws has constructed within women and their world (Cixous, 1976, p. 880). The act of speaking, then, of speaking against, of speaking out, of causing disorder with the willfulness of one’s voice and the desire to be silenced no more, is essential in woman’s re-appropriation of her full humanity (Cixous, 1976, p. 881). Mellie Grant, branded as the sempiternal First Lady of Scandal for four seasons, and by the middle of the fifth one finally free from the East Wing, gets one such opportunity in the winter finale “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (Wilding & Verica, 2015). As a newly minted Senator, she sits in the locus of her function—the space of politics, and thus, too, the symbolical space which the phallus carved out as his—while men engender their power through political action (Wilding & Verica, 2015). As the President of the Senate readies for the closing of the Senate floor, she asks to be recognized; stands up in front of men who want her to sit down; and speaks—without stopping,

By the fifth season of the series, both of the main female characters of Scandal—the protagonist, the President’s lover Olivia Pope, and the President’s First Lady, Mellie Grant— suffer and, eventually, thrive in an exchange of roles from within to without the East Wing and the role of Woman, where each of them, in their time free from it, emphasize to the audience (and to the other) the suffocating nature of their restriction in the role of alter to the phallus. It is made clear that neither is, has ever been, of could ever be content, or whole, within this construct, or in this place. From a shared, yet oppositional, desire to be with the man who has the phallus, the narrative moves by the close of the season to each woman’s


for sixteen hours (Wilding & Verica, 2015).

of veracity they a’re instinctively given, by the simple virtue of being male in a phallocentric world (de Lauretis, 1987, p. 25). Female texts, on the other hand, find their place in the space-off, as de Lauretis puts it, of discourse, unread by men, unrepresented and unable to represent hegemonically (de Lauretis, 1987, p. 25)—that is, when women dare write them and when they dare assess their identity as subjects, rather than phallocentrism’s object (Cixous, 1976, p. 876). A text, under these terms, can be a novel, a poem, a theory - this is what Cixous mostly refers to in her own (1976, p. 879). A text may also be, as we have seen with Mulvey, a film, in which women’s subjectivity is constantly overhauled by the male’s need to make her an object, and to make phallus (Mulvey, 1975, p. 6; Cixous, 1976, p. 886). But a text could also be a gaze, a manner of reading; of assessing a reality, and one’s subjectivity. Bell hooks’ paper on the Black woman oppositional gaze, and its importance in the rejection of white patriarchy’s pervasive beliefs about the place of women and that of Black women, is testament enough to this (hooks, 1992, p. 122). Imposing one’s subjectivity in a world which does not want to hear it, in simpler terms, is just as insurgent an act as speaking out and killing joy (Cixous, 1976, 880).

A filibuster, at its basis, is long hours of standing up and speaking for the enactment of one’s beliefs. It is the showcase of the weapon of the logos, it is the alliance of the strength of speech with that of the body, it is the admittance - in American politics - of the force of individual will. A woman filibustering, by definition, is a woman who speaks too much, who speaks when no one else wishes her to speak (Ahmed, 2003, p. 8; Carson, 1994, p. 133; Cixous, 1976, p. 881). It is a woman who is no longer afraid to do so (Cixous, 1976, p. 880; Ahmed, 2003, p. 3). It is a woman who forces her speech in the “deaf male ear” and who forces herself in the practice of logos which he’d taken for himself (Cixous, 1976, 881). It is, too, a woman whose willfulness kills joy when speaking out against political injustice— especially when, as is the case of this woman, a political injustice made to women (Ahmed, 2003, p. 8). It is a woman who takes command of a room which, if not filled solely by men, is marked as made for men in phallocentric discourse (Cixous, 1976, p. 881). It is a woman who uses her full body to enact her desires, whose willfulness passes through her whole being (Cixous, 1976, p. 881) and whose will to stand up, means all others must remain seated. It is a woman who cannot, will not, be controlled by men. The woman who dares to speak out in a world which desires only her silence holds Cixous’ esteem, and is essential for such liberation (Cixous, 1976, p. 881). I have mentioned the issue of agency when analyzing depictions of women in their feminist or oppressive attributes; I find it useful to go back to it when discussing Cixous’ other form of “insurgent” rewriting (1976, p. 880). A significant advantage held by male texts, in their hegemony, is the weight


“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (Wilding & Verica, 2015) begins as Olivia, the President’s lover, takes her turn in the East Wing and in the role of First Lady—of Woman. Willingly, if not willfully, she partakes in the (re) creation of the text of enchanted coupledom which excuses and seeks to normalize the heterosexual phallocentric rapport in its asymmetry of power (Butler, 1998, p. 524). She does so not by speaking out, but by cowriting the phallocentric text (strong-armed into it as she would have been), by being silent, by averting her gaze, by accepting

her place in the periphery; the way most women, as describes Cixous, are conned into allowing phallocentrism, its laws, and its texts, to perpetuate (1976, p. 877). It is by seeing Mellie - the woman who was who she is now - the Old Woman who made herself a New Woman (Cixous, 1976, p. 878), speak out (of turn) and demonstrate in this way her full subjectivity as the subject she feels herself to be (Cixous, 1976, p. 880) that Olivia finds in herself the text which had been erased, silenced, put in the margin, but which had to be written in order for it to replace the one which phallocentrism had wrapped around her life and experience (Cixous, 1976, p. 886). It is this with gaze, this new text, which refuses to yield to that of phallocentrism’s, that Olivia rejects the call of the signifier, of being solely that which power (the man holding the phallus) is not (Cixous, 1976, p. 887). She takes back her body by rejecting the potential role of Mother, hoisted onto her by her place as Woman—where Woman, in psychoanalytic terms, is equal to Mother and her desire to possess the phallus, of which the child is a representative copy (de Lauretis, 1987, p. 9; Chodorow, 1996, p. 220)—through having an abortion and expresses her subjectivity from within the East Wing, locus of her disempowerment, by speaking out against her position to the man with the power— her lover, the President, who had gotten her in this very place through a false narrative of love, a text which she refuses to acknowledge as her reality. In the climax of the episode, she leaves the East Wing; she leaves him, and through leaving both this symbolic room and the man holding the symbol - which proves, under its laws, her powerlessness, and by rejecting these very laws and this very symbol as defining her subjectivity - she, like Mellie before her, is liberated (Cixous, 1976, p. 884).

In these actions, the women of Scandal relinquish the Old Woman and her trappings by taking up the spaces from which they were previously banned; they leave the locus of their disempowerment, and the man who would hold them there so that he may play phallus through their presence as merely signifier (Cixous, 1976, p. 886). It is liberation, certainly, but as Cixous writes it, it is not liberation enough. It is not enough for women to leave the room of the phallus; they must themselves start imagining, building, and inhabiting rooms in which it could not survive (Cixous, 1976, p. 892). In their freedom and the acts leading up to their liberation, they must reject the instinctual desire to reproduce the laws of phallocentrism (the supposedly natural existence of imbalanced power relations) and the need to be powerful, when it is equality that is truly transgressive (Cixous, 1976, p. 893). In Scandal, the law of the phallus is in every room, and tempers every interaction, including those between the two women mentioned; opposed in purpose by vying for the phallus, in the antilove, the hatred of women, which is the most vicious attribute of the phallocratic order (Cixous, 1976, p. 878). True revolution, then, lies not solely in re-taking the weapons and the rooms which the phallus claimed for itself, nor in leaving them altogether—just as Cixous’ woman may be tempted to swear off motherhood on the baseless fear of a necessary reproduction of the phallocentric order (1976, p. 890). True revolution lies in inhabiting rooms where the phallus cannot follow. Mellie and Olivia, in the episode I mentioned, have one such scene (Wilding & Verica, 2015). Where, before, all of their relation hinged upon a battle for power over the other, here, they find a sort of détente. Bonded by the acknowledged experience of the prison that is the East Wing, they come


together in the practice of the “other love”; that in which they allow themselves to be each other’s recognized equal, to help, to understand each other, and see in the other woman traces of themselves (Cixous, 1976, 893). Between the fighting—needed as it may be—present in this episode, it is this act of wholehearted rejection of all that the phallus needs to exist, to thrive, to survive, which rings as most transgressive - most insurgent. There’s a place for a violent-less aggressiveness in the dismantling of patriarchy; for a strength which is based in the common accord to live in a space where it is not needed. If the phallus breeds hate, breeds hierarchy, breeds inequity, then nurture, redemptive love, and acceptance are the tools which may, finally, dismantle its house (Lorde, 1984, 112).

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HACKTIVISM AND THE GLOBAL CYBERWAR By: Catherine Poitras Auger The internet was once seen as a wonderful tool for everyone around the globe to erase distance and frontiers and share resources. Today, it is obvious that cyberspace is more than just a tool; it is the main stage of a battle for ownership. Hacktivists, a word that is a blend of hacking and activists, are claiming back “their” territory. The main question here is how is hacktivism affecting politics on a global and local scale? I will demonstrate that hacktivists are changing the digital landscape in a significant manner. While the internet space is being threatened in terms of some basic human rights, freedom of speech and the right to privacy, hacktivists are shedding light on what is going on behind the state’s closed doors and are raising public awareness on important issues. I will use examples from the Anonymous collective in Canada, as well as the international impact of the revelations of Edward Snowden to demonstrate my point. I will conclude on how hacktivists are not only acting as watchdogs for democracy, but are also re-programming the internet. Far from being a neutral tool for everyone to use, the internet space is in fact a privatized space. Demonstrations, a legal tactic for


activists, have no equivalent in the cyberspace. The author of The Coming Swarm: DDoS Actions, Hacktivism, and Civil Disobedience on the Internet, Molly Sauter, states that the internet lacks public space, such as streets. This leads activists into different tactics than those used in the physical world in order to get attention for a cause and thte methods used are then criticized for their highly disruptive quality. Sauter writes, “‘Why,’ the critique goes, ‘can’t you come up with a way to protest that doesn’t step on somebody else’s toes?’ But the internet, as it were, is all somebody else’s toes.” (4). The author also posits that activists can have blogs to display their opinions on the internet, but the impact that these will have against the giants is minimal. The fact that the internet does not have a public space explains why hacktivism is left with a label of criminality. Furthermore, hacktivism has a stigma of laziness. The hacktivists’ credibility is often underscored in contrast to the courageous activists of the physical world, such as those of the Civil Rights Movement. Hacktivists are described by some as “slacktivists”: people who remain hidden behind their computer screen to do small and inefficient political acts (6). For Sauter, it is unfair to discredit

the efficiency of hacktivism by the fact that it is not physically threatening for the activists involved, when the tactics used are effective and meaningful. Furthermore, some tactics such as DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) allow a lot of people to participate in a direct action (6). From disfiguring a website to trolling, hacktivism encompasses a wide range of actions and is, therefore, hard to define. How is hacktivism useful? The Anonymous collective is probably the most widely known example of hacktivism. In 2012, the collective threatened the RCMP and successfully managed to re-open a rape case in Steubenville, Toronto (Coleman 343). Anonymous has demanded accountability for perpetrators in other cases of rape as well. The quest for transparency and accountability is important for the collective and it is what propels them to be involved in stories where the system does not give justice to the victims and their families and instead protects the perpetrators. More recently, Bill C-51 sparked controversy in Canada. The bill contains a vague and questionable definition of what ‘terrorism’ is, allows for a significantly bigger amount of arrests without a warrant, and makes it so that personal information can be claimed by different governmental agencies (Watters). Following the adoption of the controversial bill in June 2015, the collective launched a series of attacks on Canadian governmental websites (“‘Anonymous’ Says”). Anonymous justified its actions by referring to and asserting its stand on the right to privacy and freedom of speech. The collective appropriated public responsibility for the hacking and explained its intent and values through a widely-shared video, as it often does. Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney had to comment on the inconvenient events, and the story caught the media’s attention

(“‘Anonymous’ Says”). The collective disseminates information through journalists, but it also relies on its own media channels. On December 7th 2015, its main Twitter handle (@yourAnonNews) had 1.59 million followers. Needless to say, Anonymous not only sheds light on events and pressures governmental agencies into accountability and transparency, but it also does so in an impactful way. Tom Sorell, in his article “Human Rights and Hacktivism: The Cases of Wikileaks and Anonymous”, defines hacktivism as a type of political activism which targets powerful institutions through the use of computer skills (Sorell 1). I consider the political actions of the whistleblower Edward Snowden to fall under the abstract category of hacktivism. Firstly, he had to hack into the national security apparatus in order to get a massive amount of documents without being intercepted, and he used a web crawler software in order to complete the task (Carroll). Furthermore, he shares similar political concerns with Anonymous and a strong commitment to maintaining a democratic society. In the documentary Citizenfour (Laura Poitras, 2014), Edward Snowden declares during an interview that he decided to leak top secret documents because he believes that the mass surveillance of the government is a serious threat to democracy. He also says that because people expect that they are being watched on the internet, it limits the “boundaries of intellectual exploration” (Citizenfour), and that he rather risk prison than to see this freedom being limited. The documents that were leaked to journalists have had worldwide repercussions, and their implications are still being investigated today.


The Snowden revelations have demonstrated the extent to which citizens are under

indiscriminate global surveillance. The documentary work of Poitras relays his testimony about the existence of the Five Eyes countries. Whenever regulations forbid collecting data of ordinary citizens in their own country, the state can use the absence of global regulations in order to circumvent the regulations and get information on their citizens through an allied country. Amnesty International describes the Five Eyes as “spying and intelligence-sharing agreements between the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand” (“Mass Surveillance”). Gabriella Coleman, in her book Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous, mentions how the Five Eyes countries use different strategies in order to spy on their citizens and how discouraging the situation seemed in 2013 when Snowden first released the NSA classified information. She described the situation as “a troubling and pervasive curtailment of rights” (Coleman 350). The revelations of Snowden confirmed what a lot of groups and activists already knew, and it gave them a deeper knowledge of the situation (Coleman 351). It showed them the extent of the secrets the state hides from the population and how important decisions are being taken without public consent. Furthermore, Coleman links the broad surveillance of the NSA with a serious breach to the right to privacy, as well as the right to dissidence and free association (352). The US and the UK target especially Muslims, environmentalists, and hacktivists in the general population (353). Coleman posits that, in the highly monitored environment in which we live, it becomes increasingly less tempting to hold a view that differs from the norm and to speak our mind freely, which pressures us to censor ourselves. This is a threat to a “healthy democratic dissent” (354).

Are our current legal tools sufficient to work against this pervasive mass surveillance? If not, how can we create legislation in order to preserve the rights to freedom of speech and the right to privacy on the Internet? The authors of “The Internet and the Right to Communicate”, William J. McIver, William F. Birdsall and Merrilee Rasmussen, have tackled an interesting point regarding human rights. The Declaration of Human Rights contains an article on the right to the access of information, entitled Article 19. The article was written at a time when the digital world was much less interactive than today. The idea of a right to communicate is a concept that started to be discussed in the mid1950s when the media landscape changed, notably because of satellites (McIver et al.). It is a “conceptual framework” that allows for building legislation around the Internet in times when Article 19 offers insufficient legal covering. According to McIver, it is in creating soft laws or laws that operate outside of the judicial system that we can initiate a way to deal with the right to communicate. It is important to start working on the issue both on an international as well as a national level because both are co-dependent. However, McIver also mentions that ownership is a potential threat to a project in terms of instigating the right to communicate (McIver et al.). In Citizenfour and in Glenn Greenwald’s book No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, and Google are revealed to be collaborating with the Five Eyes. The fact that corporate platforms are affiliated with a massive spying enterprise coordinated by different states is highly alarming in regards to our rights. Knowledge is power and the activists


for a free internet as well as states and corporations know it. Hacktivists help bring public awareness on issues of state mass surveillance and their collaboration with journalists plays a crucial role in holding governments accountable for their acts. In his book, Glenn Greenwald writes about how film director Laura Poitras has been harassed and interrogated by the Department of Homeland Security several times when returning from her trips outside of the United States (11). However, soon after Greenwald wrote an article about her experiences, the harassment ceased. Greenwald explains this by saying that the national security officers are abusive only when they are not being watched. In his own words, “Transparency is the only real antidote” (11). Greenwald also writes about how difficult it is to engage an audience about issues of state surveillance because these are highly complex and abstract issues (19). Greenwald further mentions that during his early correspondences with Snowden, Snowden confessed that his biggest fear was for his revelations to be met with a cynical audience who would not care, and his sacrifices would then have been for nothing. In the same way, Coleman writes that “cynicism can disable political change” (Coleman 370). Greenwald writes that the fact that Snowden was coming as an insider of a governmental spying agency was probably going to add weight on the output of his leaked documents (Greenwald 19). The collaboration between hacktivists and whistleblowers, journalists such as Greenwald, scholars such as Coleman, and a growing number of documentary filmmakers such as Poitras, in bringing awareness to the public about the “cyberwar” is a demonstration of the strong and powerful efforts that are being done to reverse the current unsafe global situation of the internet.

Action and Carnivalized Politics in the Present”, by Graham St. John, describes hacking as not only a practice of disruption of the established order, but also as reprogramming (St. John 172). The alterglobalization movement brought the creation of various carnivalesque events to unmask power relations in society, a process St. John labels “festal hacktivism”. The practice of wearing masks links to the idea of a masquerade and was used by movements such as the Zapatistas and the Black Bloc (St. John 184). Anonymous follows from these traditions of both disruption and celebration; of destruction and reconstruction. It has not only hacked the system, but has also created a movement of its own and produced an action of “un-masking”, a term by Graham St. John, and revealed a hidden part of the state. The iconic Guy Fawkes mask, visible during demonstrations associated with the Anonymous movement, is a material enactment of this action. Coleman mentions the power that lies behind the mask: the power to choose anonymity (Coleman 373). Anyone in the world can be Anonymous and, therefore, the movement will always perpetuate itself. In the documentary We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists (Brian Knappenberger, 2012), the power that lies behind the collective is brought to light when Egypt was under a massive internet shut down during the Arab Spring. Supporters of Anonymous used their hacking knowledge to provide ways to access internet despite the attempt of the state to censor the dissidents’ voices. Anonymous participates in a re-programming of tomorrow’s world with open source, borderless technologies, and a leaderfree movement. Through technology, the collective developed a sense of identity and belonging (Stryker 14). As a powerful agent of enchantment, it acts against cynicism

The article “Protestival: Global Days of

(Coleman 367). Furthermore, since one of


the biggest issues with the internet is the lack of global regulations which would efficiently prevent the Five Eyes from spying indiscriminately and sharing information, a notion of the internet as a borderless international space is key for addressing future legislations. Anonymous, as a collective acting against global censorship, is a pioneer.

“’Anonymous’ Says It Cyberattacked Federal Government to Protest Bill C-51.” CBC News. CBC/Radio-Canada, 18 June 2015. Web. 01 Dec. 2015. Carroll, Rory. “Snowden Used Simple Technology to Mine NSA Computer

Networks.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited, 09

Feb. 2014. Web. 01 Dec. 2015.

Citizenfour. Dir. Laura Poitras. Praxis Films, 2014. Film. Coleman, Gabriella. Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of

Hacktivists are legions at the forefront of the cyberwar. The planet is marked by geopolitical frontiers and by ownership. In the same way, we need to change our perspectives of the internet as a tool and look at it more in terms of a space that is being conquered and from which ownership is contested. The current internet legislations are not sufficient in order to allow a balance of power between state and citizens, and the concept of a right to communicate could help in re-establishing a balance. Hacktivists such as the Anonymous collective, Edward Snowden, and their allies are bringing light as to who is profiting from the current situation of the internet. They are also changing the cyberspace in a more democratic way and are bringing hope for a better future. Open source technologies and encryption devices are some of the tools that allow for a democratization of the cyberspace. Thinking of the internet in terms of space rather than a simple tool allows for re-interpreting freedom of speech and rights to privacy in a way that is current.

Anonymous. New York: Verso, 2014. Print.

Greenwald, Glenn. No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S.

Surveillance State. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2014. Print.

“Mass Surveillance.” Amnesty International. Amnesty International Canada,

n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2015.

McIver, William J., William F. Birdsall and Merrilee Rasmussen. “The

Internet and the Right to Communicate.” First Monday 8.12 (2003).

Web. 01. Dec. 2015.

Sauter, Molly. The Coming Swarm: DDoS Actions, Hacktivism, and Civil

Disobedience on the Internet. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing,

2014. Print.

Sorell, Tom. “Human Rights and Hacktivism: The Cases of Wikileaks and

Anonymous.” Journal of Human Rights Practice (2015): 1-20.

St. John, Graham. “Protestival: Global Days of Action and Carnivalized

Politics in the Present.” Social Movement Studies Vol. 7 (2008):

167-190. Stryker, Cole. Hacking the Future: Privacy, Identity, and Anonymity on the

Web. New York: Overlook Duckworth, 2012. Print.

The Hacker Wars. Dir. Vivien Lesnik Weisman. Over 9000 Pictures, 2014. Film. Watters, Haydn. “C-51, Controversial Anti-terrorism Bill, Is Now Law. So,

What Changes?” CBC News. CBC/Radio-Canada, 18 June 2015.

Web. 01. Dec. 2015.

We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists. Dir. Brian Knappenberger.

Luminant Media, 2012. Film.

We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks. Dir. Alex Gibney. Jigsaw, 2013. Film.



By: Zynor Majeed The cult film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a cinematic adaption of the 1973 musical by Richard O’Brien The Rocky Horror Show, and the traditions of its fanbase, are known within popular culture as an unprecedented sociocultural phenomenon. The film itself was a unique work in many regards as it merged the genres of science-fiction and horror into a musical parody of the tropes that were associated with both and tackled themes such as transvestism, sexual identity, and sexual freedom in no timid manner. Upon release, the film received mixed reviews, most of which would have been unfavorable to its longevity, were it not for the experimental screenings that were subsequently organized. At regular intervals, often on a weekly basis during the peak of the phenomenon, individuals would gather at select venues to partake in the revelry of The Rocky Horror Picture Show experience. While many participate in the event by adorning the outfits of the characters that they most identify with, most audience members simply engage in a verbal exchange of sorts with the on-screen actors. They yell out comments and responses to the scripted dialogue in the film, an indulgence that would be perceived as heckling in the


context of a conventional movie screening. Through the audience’s participation and engagement, and through the sexually liberal ideology that pervades the film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is known to its fans as an outlet for expressive freedom through which one learns that they ought to embrace nonconformity and feel free to exist as they are, however it may deviate from preconceived norms (Tyson et al., 60). Due to this theme, the participatory nature of the events, and the pleasure that fans take in returning to it time after time, these screenings resulted in one of history’s longest standing traditions in regards to cult films, one that continues to occur 40 years after the film’s release (Ebert). As such, it will be argued that the interactive screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show have functioned as means of forming communities through ritual repetition and audience participation, through which individuals are invited to engage in subversive sexual discourse while discovering themselves within a shared locus of social non-conformity. The plot of The Rocky Horror Picture Show follows the newly engaged couple Brad and

Janet through an evening of strange events. As they make their way to the home of their friend Dr. Everett Scott to announce their engagement, their car gets a flat tire next to a mysterious castle. Looking for a phone, they venture towards it, only to stumble upon a group of revellers, the Transylvanians from the planet Transsexual, and the servants of the castle, Riff-Raff, Magenta, and Columbia. As they try to make their way out, they encounter Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a cross-dressing Transylvanian scientist. He invites them to his lab. He is about to unveil his creation, the muscular man Rocky Horror, a creature destined to be the object of his sexual desires. Throughout the night, Brad and Janet witness murder, indulge in new sensations, and experience sexual awakening as they are dragged into the lustful world of pleasure that their hedonistic host, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, introduces to them (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975). The plot of the film itself can be subject to extensive analysis, as it conceals symbolism relating to social taboos that are touched upon without reservations. In their sociological reading of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Kinkade and Katovich present it as a “provocative text that can be interpreted and reinterpreted from varieties of perspectives, ranging from the artistic to the social scientific” (200). While observations pertaining to the artistic qualities and symbolism of the film relate to its appeal, one must first consider The Rocky Horror Picture Show as a “multilayered document that requires more than a first time reading” (idem). It is known that active fans return to the screenings regularly, with certain “people who, with an almost religious devotion, participate in this ritual every Saturday night, week after week, month after month, even year after year” (Boe, 63). It could

be argued that their desire to engage in such a repetitive event stems from the film’s explicit revolt against sexual repression and gender norms. Dr. Frank-N-Furter shamelessly crossdresses in front of his guests and servants, and incessantly tries to seduce Brad and Janet. He urges his visitors to “give [themselves] over to absolute pleasure [and to] swim the warm waters of sins of the flesh” (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975). Dr. Everett Scott, the most conservative character in the film (and, simultaneously, the metaphorical epitome of sexual repression) eventually succumbs to the “thrills,” despite saying that he must “be strong and try to hang on” before “this decadence saps [his] will” (idem). Through such characters and themes, The Rocky Horror Picture Show engages in liberal discourse about sexuality and grants fans means by which they may counter their anxieties in regards to it (Siegel, 311). Although this may be achieved through simply viewing the film alone, as the themes exist within it, the attributes of the sociocultural phenomenon that it has become are a direct result of the context in which it is screened. The Rocky Horror Picture Show “ought to be celebrated in public spaces, late at night, in the dark, and not trivialized by suburban solitude” (Aviram, 183), as it facilitates the formation of communities assembled in shared belief of its themes, which in turn consolidates the common values of each community member. As such, an analysis of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and its sociocultural impact would be incomplete without observations in regards to audience participation at its numerous screenings.


Although experienced veterans comprise a large portion of the audience at each of the film’s screenings (a safe assumption to be made, as audience participation would not occur if the majority of attendees were

unfamiliar with the show’s interactive components), it is common for them to be accompanied by first-timers, traditionally labelled as “virgins” (Boe, 63). The various traditions that have developed over the years are learned by observing and participating in them and “further emb[ed] or socializ[e] regular habitués and newcomers into the celebration (Kinkade & Katovich, 203). The provocative nature of the film is echoed in how rapidly one becomes initiated to it; before even entering the venue at which it is being screened, it is possible to come across cross-dressing fans, some of which go to great extents to replicate the costumes of their favourite characters (Boe, 63). Many of them come equipped with props, such as newspapers, water pistols, toast, and playing cards, among other things. These objects are used at specific moments during the film. For instance, when Brad and Janet exit their car into the rainstorm, audience members squirt each other with their water pistols, and shield themselves with their newspapers (Kinkade & Katovich, 201). When Dr. Frank-N-Furter proposes a toast, toast is flung around, and when he sings “cards for sorrow, cards for pain,” attendees throw playing cards into the air (idem). The adoption of props as an interactive act becomes the most accessible form of participation to a newcomer, as they may follow what veterans do around them. In addition to this, they are often told what to bring by a friend, and may occasionally be able to purchase the essentials from other fans at the venue (Oppenheim, 27). Some aspects of audience participation involve greater physicality. A group of costumed individuals, comprised of veterans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, participate in the show by acting out the roles of the film’s numerous characters, from Dr. Frank-


N-Furter to the Transylvanians themselves, in front of the screen in synchronization with the film (idem). Regular audience members may also partake in this sense by momentarily adopting the personas of Transylvanians during the “Time Warp” number; when the music begins, they “rise en masse and […] all commence to dance” (Tyson et al., 62, author’s emphasis). Through this, all fans are given the opportunity to be involved in one same ritual in the show. They are all invited to dance along with the film, regardless of their social status in the world outside of The Rocky Horror Picture Show or of how many times they have been to the show. In addition to the use of props, these become moments during which newcomers are elevated past their initial “virgin” status, as they demonstrate their adherence to the rituals of the show by participating in them, and thus successfully express themselves within the assembled community that they may now consider themselves to be a part of. Membership to this community requires nothing more than their active involvement in the rituals of the show, although devotion to The Rocky Horror Picture Show film beyond the events contributes to their experience. Aside from the numerous prop-related acts and participation in the “Time Warp,” which constitute the physical forms of interactivity, audience members are invited to partake in verbal interactions as well. In between lines of dialogue, attendees shout out witty comments and unscripted lines to highlight the absurdity of the film’s content and script (Boe, 63). Often, these remarks will target a specific character or event, or will constitute a vulgar response to a specific line of dialogue. For instance, when Brad and Janet appear on screen, audience members shout “asshole” and “slut” respectively, referring in an obscene fashion to their behaviour in the film. In keeping with

the provocative and deliberately offensive nature of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, such language is glossed over in many cases. It is understood that “ritual chants and other responses from the audience are a ‘normal’ phenomenon” (Siegel, 306). Many audience members join in during songs, which constitute a more constrained form of verbal involvement. (Oppenheim, 27). By participating in the physical and verbal traditions, the audience becomes a part of the show that they have come to see, and those who “return to view [the film] and participate in the construction of an audience text related to the ongoing screen text exhibit their expressive understanding of its intertextuality through their play” (Kinkade & Katovich, 200).

the film and their transactions in celebrating its showing to recognize their common affiliations within uncommon circumstances” (202), which refers back to Carey’s notion of the ritual view of communication. Through this view, communication is understood as being “linked to such terms as sharing, participation, association, fellowship and the possession of a common faith” (James Carey as cited in McQuail, 71). Fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show gather in a common location to celebrate their passion for the film and the event. They adorn outfits to physically embody this devotion, and to consolidate their association with the community. By repeating the traditional rituals associated to the screenings of the film, they ensure that the community remains strong and faithful to them; by engaging with them by means of props, physical participation, and verbal interactions, fans become a part of the very show that they love.

The phenomenon of The Rocky Horror Picture Show can be examined through an understanding of the ritual view of communication, which views the process “less as sending or gaining information and more as attending mass, a situation in which nothing new is learned but in which a particular view of the world is portrayed and confirmed” (Carey, 20). Fans of the film gain no new knowledge of it from attending its numerous screenings, but repeat the same rituals and traditions that have been associated to it through time. While some people, mainly newcomers, may become familiar with rituals that are new to them, or lead to the creation of unprecedented ones, the phenomenon stems from their shared experience within a community bound together by the event that they all participate in. As such, nothing new is learned, but their adherence to the themes of the film is confirmed and manifested by means of the rituals that they engage in or create to demonstrate such a claim. Kinkade and Katovich write that “viewers use


Screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show therefore become a site of inclusion and community, one where individuals are free to rediscover parts of themselves that may have been repressed within the norms of society, or be welcomed into a community if they were outcasts in their regular lives. In an interview, the creator of the play The Rocky Horror Show (who also co-directed and co-wrote the film adaptation The Rocky Horror Picture Show) Richard O’Brien, stated that “the show brings all sorts of alienated people together” (Chalmers, 62) in a place where, for the first time, these individuals may feel that “they are the in-group” (Tyson et al., 60). Any deviance from social norms are bracketed within the shared locus of the event, as individuals are perceived as being included or excluded from the communities based on their love for the film. It has also been theorized that the film

screenings “may serve as a kind of child-toadult rite of passage, as the event offers [fans] a place to experiment not so much with sex […] as with expressions of sexuality,” which remains a taboo topic in many areas of social discourse today (Oppenheim, 30). As such, the fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show become “a sort of weird extended family” (Ebert).

equivalent to a priest in the film would be Dr. Frank-N-Furter, as he preaches his values of pleasure and freedom to his devoted followers, the fans of the film. Staskiewicz describes attending a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show as being present at “a service at the Church of Dr. Frank-N-Furter” (48); the repetitive nature of the rituals, the spoken exchanges between the preacher and the audience, as well as the sense of groups that derives from the event liken its fanbase to a religious community, one united in their shared revolt against identity norms and sexual repression.

The rituals that take place during the screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show have been compared to religious practices on multiple fronts (Oppenheim, 29). One may observe that traditions associated to both religious groups and to The Rocky Horror Picture Show fans occur in a shared public space, where devotion to a text and its themes are demonstrated by means of repeated rituals, all of which are guided by the experienced and knowledgeable members of the community. If the validity of such a comparison can be supported, it would simultaneously confirm the communityforming agency of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, insofar as it pertains to the many rituals carried out at the screenings. These traditions are key to the formation of a community, as “the text that forms in viewing [the film][…] makes the viewing a multilayered experience that requires repetition” (Kinkade & Katovich, 200). The experience of attending the film’s screenings stems from the active engagement of the audience members, just as churchgoers are expected to partake in certain rituals such as attending mass and confessing their sins to priests to have a positive experience of their religious beliefs. The lines of unscripted dialogue that audience members shout during the The Rocky Horror Picture Show can be compared to spoken passages of the Bible, in which a congregation engages in dialogue with their priest. (Siegel, 307). Expanding upon this metaphor, the figure

As a community, the fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show unite in their stance “against sexually repressive traditional mores and social institutions” (Siegel 306). By crossdressing at the event, they challenge gender norms that dictate that specific attire should only be worn by individuals of a certain gender or sex. In regards to the verbal rituals, it has been observed that “many of the responses are designed specifically to ridicule the sexually ‘straight’ and repressed characters in the film, Brad and Janet, and the symbols of straight authority” (Siegel, 307). The only character that appears to evade jokes pertaining to sexual repression is Dr. Frank-N-Furter, who is perceived as “sexually powerful because he is able to experience, and encourage others to experience, the ‘absolute pleasure’ of revelling in the spectacle” (Robbins and Myrick, 274). He becomes a source of admiration to both the characters in the film and the audience members, as he represents the essence of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, freedom to exist, and to indulge in pleasure. By means of its midnight screenings, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has evolved from a film into a sociocultural phenomenon. The film itself “has earned the distinction of


being the longest-running movie in history” (Latson), mainly because of the cult following that it has developed over the years. The fans of the film are what make it significant in popular culture, as “the film and its cult following are a package [in which] any significance, or entertainment value, [is] to be found in their combination” (Tyson et al., 62). It can be argued that fans derive comfort from the ritualized repetition of the show (Oppenheim, 30), much in the same way that religious groups feel a sense of community and belonging in engaging in their religious rituals, but far from conventions of social institutions, The Rocky Horror Picture Show “breaks down barriers, allowing people to shout obscenities in a crowded theater, to dress outlandishly (and cross-sexually), and to leave their seats and dance at the movies” (Boe, 64). The film’s existence may only be perceived as socially significant in regards to its relationship with its followers, but to them, as is the case with any group united within a common faith or shared belief, The Rocky Horror Picture Show means community.

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By: Valerie Smith The media holds tremendous influence over the way people perceive and digest the world around them. Photographic images of war, of womens’ bodies, of aftermaths of disasters, to name a few, while seemingly innocent, reveal more about the predominant ideology of a given society than any objective truth or reality. Even sources deemed “trustworthy”, like scientific journals or news sources, often deliver images that fit a certain political or social agenda. An early example of this phenomenon can be found in Louis Agassiz’s Slave Daguerreotypes (Wallis 1995) where images of plantation slaves in the Southern U.S were used as scientific evidence to substantiate the claim that Africans were of a different species, and therefore their enslavement was a natural outcome of their biological inferiority to the white race.

a belief system that was dependent upon an overwhelmingly subjective distortion of reality; namely, that one human being is different than another based on the colour of their skin and variations in their features. The collection and use of Louis Agassiz’s slave daguerrotypes reassured a slave holding society steeped in a creationist ideology that their race was given slaves by God to drive the white man’s fortunes on earth. The irony here, is that something as progressive and promising as the invention of photography, was put in a service of a regressive and racist ideology. By examining the fallacy of objectivity and realism in photographic images, the imbalance of power between photographer and subject, and the way knowledge is constructed and shared, this paper will demonstrate how this new medium was not only manipulated in order to rationalize slavery, but participated in and perpetuated the dehumanization of Africans.

Painting, the only known way to recreate nature during this time, made the accuracy of the image dependent upon the subjective interpretation of the artist. The advent of Today, society is well versed in the ways photography promised a kind of “realism,” photographs are manipulated through lighting, where the captured image could be presented shadow, photoshop, and contextualization. as an objective truth. However, as this paper However, in the mid-nineteenth century will argue, these photos helped promote the photograph promised the idea of a


mirror image of reality to its audience. Agassiz’ photographs, showing solitary slaves, without expression or clothes, gave the illusion of scientific specimens and not human beings. The illustrations of that time presented Blacks as both animal-like and vulgar (Wallis, 1995), and Agassiz’s compositions perpetuated this idea. His belief in polygenesis and role as a scientist, informed the composition and the reception of the photos. Previously, daguerrotypes were mostly seen in the style of portraits, and if an individual possessed one, it affirmed their right to personhood, which was “a fact underlined by legal and social structures” (Wallis, 1995). Agassiz mimicked the general style of portraits, but through his composition, he denied the right of “personhood” to his subjects, making his photos typological and further undermining the humanity of his subjects. As Wallis asserts,”the type discourages style and composition, seeking to present the information plainly and straightforward as possible” (Wallis 1995). Although Agassiz did not personally take the photographs, he had given Joseph T. Zealy vision for his research, and instructions on how he wanted the slaves to appear in the photos (Rogers 2006). He directed the photos in a typological way by solely emphasizing the surface of the bodies, because to expose the subject’s internal organs would undermine his theory by proving that we are all composed of blood and bone. Agassiz also denied the subjects any emotional thrust (although this is also part of their reception to the intended audience of the time, while to a contemporary viewer, the posture and the expressions of the slaves are disturbing on many levels). The slaves are seen sitting or standing

naked in the images, seemingly void of any sexual connotation or shame, and “their attitudes are detached, unemotional, and unworkmanlike” (Wallis 1995). Of course, this is a distortion of the truth, as today’s society knows the history of slavery is also one of mass rape and the oversexualization of the black body. The inherent violence of these representations is that it robs an already degraded subject of any agency, as the typological photograph marks “a form of representational colonialism. Fundamentally nonreciprocal, it masks its subjective distortions in the guise of logic and organization. Its formations are deformations” (Wallis, 1995). As Agassiz was arguing polygenesis, he distorted the photos into a representation of science and “[g]iven the newness of photography […], photographs provided a certain level of legitimacy” (Brown, 2010). What the daguerrotypes revealed was “imposed by the mentality controlling the photographic mechanism, infusing the end result with an entirely predetermined context, and content” (Richardson, 1976), a photograph can capture more than an image, it can manipulate said image to represent an ideology.


In conjunction with the already inculcated ideological beliefs in America concerning the African race, the status of Agassiz as an “internationally renowned naturalist (and his role as interpreter of scientific ‘evidence’) contributed to a framework in which scientific meaning could be attached to the daguerrotypes” (Rogers, 2006). Prior to the creation of his daguerrotypes, Agassiz had already voiced his opinion through lectures in the United States about how “Negroes quite probably were not descended from the same stock

as whites, and their ancestry could not be traced to the sons of Noah” (Lurie, 1954). His own inherent racist beliefs and the bigotry of the South (where Agassiz visited plantations and chose his subjects) provide the context for the photographs. In turn, the photos were taken into a political context by white supremacists in order to further explain and defend slavery (Wallis, 1995). While the photos were never mentioned in his written work, he put them to practical use in his lectures at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts in October 1850, where he used the daguerreotypes as reference to prove the differences between the white and the black race (Rogers, 2006). The lectures and photos were spoken about in a newspaper called the Tri-Weekly South Carolinian in 1850, which was published miles away from Cambridge, proving the influence that they held over audiences across the United States (Rogers, 2006). The role of Agassiz is valuable in understanding the interpretation of the daguerreotypes as ‘scientific evidence’, as without his credibility as a scientist, he may not have been taken as seriously (Wallis, 1995). Further, while the subjects of the photographs were denied agency both in representation and reality, the intended audience for them only reaffirmed and reigned the belief systems of a racist society. In effect,“[t]he daguerreotypes of slaves did not prove the theory of polygenesis, they proved science itself ” (Rogers, 2006). While the paradox of being a good Christian and a slaveowner was used as fuel for abolitionist to highlight the moral wrong of slavery, the use of science as a legitimizing agent had the potential to trump this idea by showing Africans as “other” and therefore exempting them from the same moral laws as Christians. The believe that photographs were mirror representations

of reality and that science only presented objective truths, provided irrefutable evidence, along with legitimate reason and rationale for the institution of slavery. Other burgeoning sciences, in addition to polygenesis, assisted in corroborating the racist ideology of the time. The slaveowners allowed Agassiz to choose slaves from their plantations as they wanted him to prove the ‘science’ behind the inequality of the two races in order for further justification of the exploitation of slaves (Wallis, 1995). To prove scientific differences, the daguerreotypes needed to be perceived as scientifically sound. It is with the resemblance to lithographs, due to frontal and profile positioning of the body, in addition to nudity, that they were acknowledged as scientific evidence (Rogers, 2006), and other instances of presenting information about Black Africans being inferior to Caucasians, fostered exploitation in America (Wallis, 1995). Racist ideologies were a “heavily encoded and naturalized belief that racial characteristics and behaviours were grounded in biology and conformed to a qualitative hierarchy” (Wallis, 1995).


As well, prior scientific knowledge aided Agassiz’s impact. Colleague Dr. Samuel Morton, a craniologist and author of Crania Americana (1839), was remarkably recognized and ushered the study of Ethnological science in America (Rogets, 2006). Morton’s work on the differences in skull shapes to classify race greatly influenced conceptions of race in the U.S, showcasing the superiority of Caucasians as most superior through analyzation of 600 skulls. He proved that Egyptians “were not Black and in fact employed Blacks as their slaves” (Wallis, 1995). This reference bolstered the notion of Africans being less than human, and thus

rationalized slavery and dehumanization. The daguerreotypes categorized differences between African tribes, and specifically differences between whites and Blacks, which was, as stated by Wallis, “strengthened by the seeming transparency of photographic realism, [where] these categories and the divisions between them soon took on the authority of natural ‘facts’” (1995). The classification of images guaranteed beliefs that Blacks were unequal - derived from a different species, thus allowing slaveholders to answer any objections to slavery with the hard facts of science. The construction and reception of Louis Agassiz’s Slave Daguerreotypes reveal the fallacy of objective truth: that any image can be manipulated to suit the dominant ideology. What the images portray, rather than racial differences, is the violence done to Africans. The use of the daguerreotypes in 1850 show why it is of continued importance to consider the role of photography in presenting distorted ideas about race, beauty, ethnicity and justice, in a larger critical context. This does not mean that the camera is unable to produce realism, but it does mean questioning the context and culture of photographs is crucial before extracting knowledge from them. The author plays a pinnacle role in providing context for the viewer in that the images are seen through the perspective that the author chooses to depict them. Moreover, when provided with cultural knowledge, it is important to consider temporal and cultural contacts in which the information has been constructed. Agassiz’s daguerreotypes rationalized racism and slavery because, as an educated and well respected white male (arguably the most powerful position in the United States), the preexisting claims of Africans being inferior to Whites were, more often than

not, in complete agreement with his views. Since the beginning of media, people in positions of authority have distorted the media in order to portray their own ethnocentric views on minorities. Moving onwards to the present day, with more access to different sources of information, people are less susceptible to blindly believing information, however this distortion is still rampant. The power of hegemony is that we are not even aware of why our emotions are stirred this way, we take it as natural, when in fact, through repeated media intervention, these reactions have been carefully constructed in service of a dominant ideological belief that still perpetuates the idea that one group of people are superior to others.

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By: Amanda Vitaro Many different routes can be taken when been organized by dates, but according to the attempting to construct a linear account of ideological values that define them. As such, a given past. While what need and need not three ‘categories’ emerge: pre-childhood, be included is ultimately at the discretion emerging childhood, and childhood of the historian, the integrity of the subject crystallization. I will attempt to show that must not be discredited. Indeed, sewing the normative shifts of these three ‘periods’ the thread of pastness is a compelling and prove compelling sources of understanding overwhelming challenge, especially when for the crafting of a history of the children’s discussing matters which seem evident today. market. Pre-childhood, as its title suggests, The children’s market, for instance, appears is characterized as a time before the notion standard within the dynamic of contemporary of childhood existed. To be young did not Western culture. However, children were amount to breaks or luxuries of any kind, not always recognized for their power as but conversely, to existences which were consumers. Not only were children excluded “essentially no different from those of adults” from the marketing scene for the majority (Kline 46). Children became contributing of history, but the ideologies embedded in members of the family “almost as soon as they their absence are rather telling. A closer could walk” (46), performing laborious tasks in look at the creation of the children’s market the field and in the home. As psychohistorian reveals another story, one in which the very Lloyd deMause describes in the foreword of notion of childhood was molded into being. his book The History of Childhood, “children Through an analysis of the interplay between were often treated more as slaves than as normative and commercial conceptions of humans” (deMause para 4). From a marketing children at different time periods, it can be perspective, children were not considered to argued that the creation of the children’s require any particular commodity or service. market is best understood when analyzed In fact, this period is characterized by the very synonymous to the very story of childhood. opposite, as children were seen as deserving of less rather than more. Starving, for instance, For the purposes of this essay, time has not was used as a method of discipline, with even


the wealthiest of children allocated “meager allowances of food” (deMause 37). Similarly, swaddling was a “near-universal practice”, used to tame children by “entirely depriving (…) the use of its limbs” by dressing them in an “endless length bandage” (37). The process was so extreme that it could take up to two hours to complete (37). That children once experienced such acute levels of deprivation in terms of health and play is, in retrospect, especially perplexing–both nutrition and diversion play a key role in the contemporary notion of childhood. As the period of ‘emerging childhood’ will show, this change from less to more occurred alongside radical social movements in which justice for the child became not only important, but imperative. Various political and philosophical movements can be accredited to having fostered the grounds on which the concept of ‘childhood’ was built. However, The Age of Enlightenment proves a particularly fascinating ‘beginning’ of sorts. Denoted by “dramatic revolutions in science, philosophy, society and politics”, the Age of Enlightenment experienced humble beginnings over the course of the sixteenth century, and persisted throughout the eighteenth century (Bristow para 1). With scientific discoveries disproving presumptions that had come to define all realms of knowledge at the time, thinkers were incited to “challenge the old and construct the new” (para 1). The foundation upon which children could finally be considered worthy of special attention was thus established. Indeed, Enlightenment theory is said to have ignited in Europe a “new confidence in the possibility of human happiness” (Robertson 407), leading some philosophers to consider children in a different light. French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a key figure in this shifting perspective.

He advocated “an interest in the process of growing up rather than just the product” (407). Rousseau, “for the first time in history”, challenged people to “believe that childhood was worth the attention of intelligent adults” (407). The way for children’s rights was thus paved, as reflected in the inauguration of policies such as the Prevention of Cruelty to, and Protection of, Children Act of 1889 in which the neglect and abuse of children was made punishable under British law (Kline 47). While Enlightenment theory preceded the creation of the children’s market by at least two centuries, its teachings would come to serve as the principles upon which a winning marketing mix was to emerge.


By the start of the twentieth century, adults were beginning to pay closer attention to the welfare of children. Their incentive to care for children, however, was not yet ‘purely’ motivated as the notion of childhood was not so much about a happy today as it was about a successful tomorrow (Kline 53). The importance of “structured game play and organized sport”, for instance, lay not in its ability to amuse the child, but in its capacity to prepare them for the “competitive society” that awaited them in the future (Kline 51). In the world of marketing, the hope of a more promising future translated into two separate trends: (1) the child was now advertised; and (2) the child was now advertised to. This first trend addresses the integration of children into advertisements as a means of connoting specific values and ideas about a brand’s product; the latter focuses on advertisers’ appealing to children as a means of marketing to their mothers. Together, these two trends culminated to advertisements that “repeatedly articulated the need for parents to become aware of the unique needs, vulnerabilities and sensitivities of their child” (54). Advertisers

propagated an “anxiety about children” (54) that aroused parental–and especially maternal–desires to purchase products specifically crafted for children. Specialty breakfast foods as well as children’s medicines were marketed as ‘solutions’ to the frailty synonymous to children’s “natural innocence” (54). As Kyle Asquith explains regarding the marketing strategies of the Cream of Wheat company, “mothers could be scared into buying branded foods to protect the health of their children” (Asquith para 17). Out of the angst of physical health emerged concern for the psychological health of the child. Parents became expected to cultivate in their children specific tastes and behaviors that would help them grow to be “properly civilized” (Kline 52). That “the full spectrum of cultural development” could only be achieved if cultural fostering began at a young age placed on parents a pressure to involve children in diverting activities (52). With children now engaged in arts, sports, music and dance, advertisers saw an opportunity for other forms of entertainment to become valorized–thus emerged the rise of the toy market, and ultimately, the possibility for ‘childhood’ to become a crystallized reality. The integration of toys into children’s lives stood, at first, as an indicator of good parenting (Kline 59). Indeed, the child surrounded by “books, toys, wagons, special furniture, games and learning equipment” (59) was not so much a reflection of the child’s happiness as it was a sign of parental excellence. As Kline puts it, “the imagery of childhood became vital in the tapestry of the consuming family”, revealing “family pride and virtue” (58). Although most toys were marketed as “vehicles and objects to encourage (…) children’s development” (59), advertisers began to wonder if an appeal for toys could be created independent of these

ulterior, future-driven motives. As such, child’s play began to be recognized for its potential to stimulate children’s imaginations rather than its capacity for socialization. Playtime, then, provided the grounds upon which children could be appreciated for their whimsy and creativity. Not only did this perspective fortify the concept of childhood innocence, but it also introduced the notion of childhood autonomy, an idea that marketers were especially drawn to for its capacity to justify the creation of an entirely new market–a children’s market.


If play inaugurated the concept of childhood autonomy, the end of the Second World War crystallized its reality. With the war over, an incredible anxiety to raise a happier and stronger generation endured, and childrearing counselling was adjusted accordingly (Kline 64). Rather than pushing parents to socialize children in a certain way, experts encouraged parents to facilitate the child’s capacity to “discover themselves” (64). Innocence was no longer an excuse to coddle children, but rather, became the very reason for which children merited freedom. As Kline explains, “maturation in the new era demanded psychological space–an arena free from guilt and parental interference” (65). From a marketing point of view, this newfound conception of childhood autonomy consolidated advertisers’ will to act upon “the short-term benefits of targeting children”, a venture which had begun to take shape over the course of the 1920’s when an increase in children’s own spending money was first noticed (Jacobson 28-29). Now, advertisements were no longer crafted with the hidden agenda of luring parents, but instead, aimed specifically to win over the child, who–thanks to the “new, more permissive childrearing practices advocated by child experts” (30)– had developed a sense of entitlement that “far

outweighed their limited ability to earn” (18). As Jacobson explains, “children nurtured in such environments (…) came to expect greater sympathy from their parents” (30). With children’s needs no longer tethered to parent’s intentions, the child’s independent will triumphed. Not only did this amount to the creation of the children’s market, in which children became powerful and to a large extent self-determining consumers, but childhood had transformed from concept to reality. The innocence of youth was to be understood as the very reason for which children deserved a unique experience of freedom, imagination, and indulgence.

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By: Jihan Mourad “Otherness” is a category many minorities living in North America face, as the mainstream media can be detrimental in proper representation of non-Caucasian ethnic groups. Scholar Jean-Francois Staszak defines “other” as, “ a member of a dominated out-group, whose identity is considered lacking and who may be subject to discrimination by the in-group” (Staszak 1). As much as we would like to imagine the groups of the world on a single equal scale, that idea is simply not true. The lack of realistic representation in the mainstream media divides minorities by casting them as simple stereotypical, one-dimensional characters in both depictions of fiction and real life, which solidifies the idea of the “normal” and the “other”. The harmful effects of this system perpetuate inequality, lack of empathy, and an overall disjointed society.

media, we are very much still dealing with these misrepresentations, even if the stereotypical characters he deals with have slightly shifted form. In reading Hall’s essay, I began to notice that not only were African Americans being pigeon holed in this tridimensional way, but that Arabs were as well. I had been shaken awake, shocked to realized these images I was seeing in the media were not just “attempted representations” of my people, they were a predetermined, skewed embodiment of what the media knew would pander and sell best to the masses. In accordance with Hall, I would argue that although the Black representation plight is similar to the Arab’s, our stereotypes are slightly different. My research led me to identify three Arab stereotypes present in the media: the “oppressed victim”, the “extremist” (also known as the terrorist), and the “exotic sensual woman”. Throughout my research I was most interested in understanding the Stuart Hall discusses the idea of the “exotic” sensual woman, as this stereotype misrepresentation of minorities in his essay has been forced on me many times. The entitled “The Whites of Their Eyes” (1981), remainder of this essay will be a further when he writes that inferred racism is present examination of this objectification and in the media when African Americans are its potential harmful effects on the power represented through repeated tropes. Decades relations between Arab women and Western after Hall wrote about inferred racism in the civilians, in a North American setting.


The first two stereotypes are not surprising considering the current political climate of Western countries. The “othering” or “the transforming of a difference into otherness so as to create an in-group and an outgroup” (Staszak 1), has always played a role in social agendas and political agendas. The trope of the “extremist” or the “victim” is still highly regarded in present media as confirmed by the recent political coverage on the niquab in Canadian politics (Wente) or the mischaracterization of refugees as ISIS members (Greenfield). The third trope, however, is harder to understand. The “exotic woman”, why did we need her in the media as a representative of Arabs or Eastern women? Perhaps more concerning to me was why focus on the sexualized “other” when the preferred standard of beauty around the world is the North American/European body type (Yan 2014)? There is no shortcoming of the sexualized Caucasian women in the Western mass media. Why then, is there such a heavy demand for the “exotic” woman? We know there is a demand because we have seen this particular woman in film and literature throughout the decades from the Geisha all the way to the belly dancer. In light of these questions, I researched the origin of the word “exotic” and its ties with imperialism. The late scholar Edward Said coined the term “orientalism” in 1979. Said writes about the fact that “orientalism” is a way of viewing the “orient”, or the Eastern side of the world including the Middle East, from a specifically “Western” point of view. The key idea for Said is that the depictions, writings, and representations of those who fall under “orientalism” are not necessarily true. Rather, they are imagined or hyperbolized by Western thinkers, thus become ideologies and stereotypes. According to Said, it is a


way for Westerners to rationalize the massive differences encountered by Europeans during the years of colonizing. Said writes that the West depicts the East as not only different but also inferior to their way of life. The only “solution” sought out by the West was the Westernization of the East. He writes, “therefore as much as the West itself, the Orient is an idea that has a history and a tradition of thought, imagery, and vocabulary that have given it reality and presence in and for the West. The two geographical entities thus support and to an extent reflect each other” (Said 5). Regardless of the accuracy of the “orient”, the idea of “orientalism” has become real in relation to the West in the sense that it plays as the foil to the West’s protagonist. The problem does not lie solely in these ideas of the East but in the presentation that they are fact and accurate representations. How then did these orientalist ideas of sensual Eastern women grow into the massive fetishization of the “other”? We can all agree that the stereotyping of Arabs into a helpless victim or a monstrous enemy has negative implications on societal relations. In reality, favorable attitudes towards Arabs by Americans are decreasing according to the Arab American Institute’s biyearly surveys. However, some may stop at the “exotic” stereotype and wonder how this would be cause for concern. After all, being found sexually arousing is usually desired. However, categorizing someone as “exotic” is much more than being aroused by them. Essentially, labeling someone as “exotic” presents them once again as an “other”, therefore different (and sometimes inferior) from the normal. It also presents the word with seemingly non-historical implications, which we now know is not true, due to orientalist writings and dealings with

the word “exotic”, as they have on me countless times, it is with a tone of surprise. As if to be visually appealing, but not apart of the Western idealized beauty standards, is a spectacle to gawk over. By using the term “exotic”, they are not showing an acceptance or appreciation for who I really am. They are showing a fascination in the idea of how foreign features can (surprisingly) be visually appealing.

Revolution: The Jasmine Diaries Part I). It is also important to note that Jasmine is the only Disney princess that has ever tried to seduce someone, and used her body to do so. The act occurs in the scene where she is attempting to distract the antagonist Jafar. This sexualized act in a children’s film has gone unnoticed by many, and this is probably because the act of seduction fits in so well with the exotic stereotype. The difference stems directly from orientalism and imperialistic ideals that continue to present themselves in everyday media, regardless of the time period. I find great unease with the image of Jasmine because although I identify with her visually, the thought that she was constructed via romanticized imperialistic ideals makes me uncomfortable with accepting her as part of me.

Furthermore, it has been argued that using the word “exotic” as a compliment for a person is a micro-aggression. A microaggression is a “subtle but offensive comment or action directed at a minority or other nondominant group that is often unintentional or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype” (Conger, 2014). Similar to the idea of the “orient” as a production of the (Conger, 2014). In other words, the term “exotic” is standing in for this sentence: “you cannot be identified as beautiful because your appearance does not adhere to the normalized standard of beauty but you are peculiar and somehow appealing, for a foreigner”. One of the most well known “exotic” figures in Western media to date is Disney’s Princess Jasmine. Princess Jasmine is the embodiment of the “exotic” beauty with her small waist to plump hip ratio, long dark hair, almond eyes, and non-threatening toffee skin tone. Disney’s presentation of Jasmine, sensual and alluring, differs greatly from the way the white princesses are depicted. A blogger who writes under the pseudonym “Tssja” writes, “It’s no coincidence that, while Belle and Ariel … are undoubtedly sexualized, that they’re sexual allure is composed of a wide-eyed innocence, a girlish shyness and naiveté, while Jasmine and Esmeralda move in deliberately sinuous lines, their bodies openly sexual and beckoning” (Irresistible


The women that Jasmine is supposedly representing are not respected. They are represented as objects dancing, barely clothed, in front of their bearded owners for mass entertainment: easy to watch, easy to have. “Orientalism was in the fetishizing of power and conquest, whereby women of the ‘East’ were imagined as exotic temptresses beckoning alluringly to white men from behind sheer veils in sumptuous harems” (Tssja). They were raped and beaten due to these ideas and their suffering and torment is soaked into the term “exotic”. I cannot accept it as commonplace to use on a woman of colour. The orientalist ideals of exoticism seep into our 21st century conversations even though we are taught that Western colonization and imperialism is a thing of the past that has no place in our society today. My veins do not run with sexuality and sensuality. I am no more a harem dancer than a Caucasian woman is a pilgrim’s wife, and yet only the “exotic” woman is

continuously painted in a hyperbolically traditional image.

women is the dominant white man’s fantasy and ultimate exertion of power. This kind of exotification has been happening since early colonizing missions in ‘the Orient.’ Images of harems come to mind. Tents full of veiled brown women, waiting to be ravished. Oppressed and in need of saving. Cue the white man... The conqueror.”

The exotification of the Eastern woman is harmful on its own but in the capitalistic society we inhabit today, it has been turned into a commodity. The exotification has twisted into a fetishization, which has turned into a massive profitable industry. In this way, “the visual vocabulary of fetish has become a staple of the culture industries, television, fashion, film, music video, comic books, and advertising, which often draw on the cultural stereotype of the fetishist” (Schroeder 2). The exaggeration of exoticism has led to the fetishization of women of visibly Eastern decent. This commodification makes profit and it also helps continue the perpetuation of the fetish and locks in the idea of the “exotic” as a sexual faceless being.

Clearly Khalifa’s fame has little to do with her actual acting, as the only main difference between her and the millions of other sex industry workers is her ethnicity. There is something taboo about her and the millions of viewers watching her are interested and willing to pay to continue to watch. Eidah Hilo, an Arab American writer analyzes further when she writes, “The video is a white man’s erotic twisted fantasy of what it would be like to “try out” an Arab Muslim woman who, through what the Islamophobic xenophobic media teaches us, is off limits, far off, exotic, different, opposed to our “noble” Western ideals” (Hilo, 2015).

Another example of the fetishization of the “exotic” is that the highest ranked porn star on the second most popular porn website (Ruvulo, 2011) PornHub, the recently infamous Mia Khalifa. She sparked a lot of controversy over her career choice simply because she is Lebanese. Mia Khalifa received major news coverage from mainstream media like CNN to all sorts of alternative media, all due to the simple fact that she is Arab (Ruvulo, 2011). Khalifa used this initial fame to gain even more fame with more controversy. Khalifa’s top rated video is the one where she is wearing a hijab (Ruvulo, 2011) and it is important to note that the male preforming with her in the video is white. Mira Abouelezz from states: “The abundant eroticism from which Mia profits comes from the idea of ‘conquering’ the mysterious, strange, different, exotic brown woman. Accessing these brown


Chris Hedges, in his article “Pornography Is What the End of the World Looks Like, writes, “Women in porn are packaged commodities. They are pleasure dolls and sexual puppets. They are stripped of true emotions. Porn is not about sex, if one defines sex as a mutual act between two partners, but about masturbation, a solitary auto-arousal devoid of intimacy and love. The cult of the self—that is the essence of porn—lies at the core of corporate culture”. Regardless of one’s feelings pertaining to porn, as there is a debate on whether it is liberating or deprecating, I believe the importance here is that the porn industry is cashing in on the fetishization of the “other” because the porn industry has made sex about conquering one another rather than about intercourse, which ties into

the orientalist history that the world is built on. People are clearly more drawn to watch the “foreign” looking woman rather than North American women, which creates a double standard as the “beauty” ideal is usually marketed with copious amounts of white models (Denardo) who fit better to the accepted North American beauty standards. The controversy about Mia Khalifa is the embodiment of the fetishization of the “other” because she has chosen to actually step into the mold of “willing exotic sexual being”. This could only have been possible and successful because of the fetishization of the exotic, and in doing so she has secured a place for herself as the real face for the “exotic fantasy” that has been presented by imperialists and recycled throughout history through various media platforms. Unfortunately, the implications of this system of fetishization have harmful implications on the power relations between women of colour, specifically speaking Eastern women, and Caucasian society. Hedges, in efforts to expose the relationship between the violence against women of Eastern decent and imperialistic ideals and orientalism, quotes Said when he writes, “[The local] women are usually the creatures of a male powerfantasy. They express unlimited sensuality, they are more or less stupid, and above all they are willing.” Moreover, he went on, “[w] hen women’s sexuality is surrendered, the nation is more or less conquered” (Hedges 1). I concur with Hedges’ link between imperialism and the violence taken against women. When we deconstruct the origin of orientalism, as we have done, we realize that these original misrepresentations of what the East is and what the people are supposed to be like are recycled and brought into the twenty first century. It must be said that the

way that “exotic” beings are presented in the media usually does not stem from a place of empowerment. As Princess Jasmine and Mia Khalifa demonstrate, it is not their wit or their charm that makes them the most appealing to the masses, but their difference and sexuality.


Another thing to consider is the idea that the exotification of “others” does not rely solely on visualization. It also affects the voice of these people, mainly removing their voice from the picture entirely. From the beginning of the depiction of the “exotic” orient, the harem girls are usually depicted with semitransparent cloth covering their mouths because they rarely speak. The focus is on their eyes and body language and their gaze that is all about allure and seduction. Ella Shohat and Robert Stam bring up this importance of voice, in their book Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media, when they write, “the question is less of the colour of the face in the image than of the actual or figurative social voice or discourse speaking “through” the image” (214). The importance of the image is unquestioned, but what these images are saying, if anything at all, is crucial as well. If these women are dancing around in transparent clothing with their mouths covered, or lowering their voice to a low and sultry level, as Jasmine does when she attempts to seduce Jafar, the agency is being stripped away from them completely and the image of the clad woman is left to stand for herself in a sea of men who are portraying her as an object. By removing the voice of the “other”, leaving her solely with a sexualized appearance, we are allowing these real women to become simple sort of “fill in the blanks” in which whoever is doing the viewing is also filling in the story whichever way they want. There is very little chance that the voiceless exotification of “others” is going

to lead us to understanding one another or to providing future Eastern women with a platform to speak up for themselves. There is never going to be “proper” representation of Arab women, or Arabs in general, when they are continuously presented as voiceless, submissive, sexual creatures. It is crucial that we begin to produce or take part in media that relays a more diverse and realistic voice of the Arab population. Perhaps by giving these exoticized women a voice, focusing on their agency rather than their curves, we can remove the idea of a submissive “exotic other” from normalized thought and speech. When someone uses the word “exotic”, even if they are attempting to be kind, they are foregoing the historical implications of the word and through this act they are continuously reinforcing imbalanced power relations.

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Funding for the journal has been generously supplied by Concordia University’s Arts and Science Federation of Associations. The opinions expressed by the contributors do not necessarily reflect those of Concordia University’s Department of Communication Studies, our financial sponsors, or the COMS Guild editorial team. Printed and bound in Montreal, Québec by Rubiks Printing.


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