poniedziałek, 27 lutego 2017

"The elephant man" - portrayal of the disabled in the media

Podobny obrazMedia, as I wrote multiple times, is an important part of our everyday life - we consume media content all the time and we have to finally accept that. Unfortunately, the influence that media hold over all of us has not always been used to our benefit. Take the representation of the disabled people for example. As Barnes said in his article about discrimination (1991) the media can’t be held responsible for all what’s going on but on the other hand, its impact cannot be overlooked.

“The Elephant Man” (1980) is a movie about Joseph Merrick, he suffered from proteus syndrome which according to Wikipedia “causes skin overgrowth and atypical bone development, often accompanied by tumors over half the body”. Considering the study of Paul Hunt (1991) in which he described 10 stereotypes that media use to portray disabled people this character would score 8/10. Joseph is portrayed as pitiable object of curiosity and violence, atmosphere, his worst enemy, non-sexual, laughable, a burden and being unable to participate in daily life. Even going to a train station is a huge deal for him, people laugh at him and perceive him as a disgusting creature when he is just suffering from a very rare syndrome.

As Shakespeare said (1999;64) “impairment is made the most important thing” and disabled characters are “objectified and distanced from the audience”. John is portrayed as a pitiable human being, in one of the scenes he screams “I’m not an elephant, I’m not an animal, I’m a human being” which is his biggest dream to be perceived as a human not weird creature. Character of John Merrick is shown as a laughable one – he’s treated like a thing by an owner of a ‘Freak Show’.

Haller argues that “even something as mundane as the words used to refer to a group are important because they have ramifications both for the self-perception of people with disabilities and what the general public believes about disability’ (2006; 64). It’s a main point in the story of Merrick. Dr. Frederick Treves treats Merrick as a human not looking first at his disability which leads to building a true friendship between those two characters. On the other hand we have also the rest of the society which looks at Merrick as a freak, not a human being which leads him to feel bad about himself and finally accepting the fact that he is a freak and believing in it to be true.

Podobny obraz

Disability is unfortunately still a hook that writers and filmmakers use to draw an audience into the story. Shakespeare was right writing in 1999 that “Above all the dominant images [of disabled people] are crude, one-dimensional and simplistic” calling it a lazy shortcut as well. The saddest thing about this particular character is that it’s based on a true story – John Merrick lived in the UK in XIX century and this movie is a great insight into his life. Summing up disability is a key point only if media makes it be so. Fair representation can change so much not only in the media content but in other people’s lives so next time looking at a picture of “the super cripple” don’t be afraid to say it out loud that disability is not a thing that defines who the person is.

Sources I’ve used to write this blogpost:
1) Barnes, C. (1992) Media Guidelines. In: Pointon, A., and Davies, C. (eds.) (1997) Framed: Interrogating          Disability in the Media. London: British Film industry.

2) Shakespeare, T. (1999) Art, and lies? Representations of disability on film. In: Corker, M. and French, S. (eds.) Disability Discourse Buckingham: Open University Press.

3) Haller, B. et al. (2006) Media labeling versus the US disability community identity: a study of shifting cultural language. Disability and Society, Taylor and Francis Group Ltd, 21(1), 2006

4) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proteus_syndrome

5) http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/elliot-r-Robert-H.-Elliott-Dissertaton-Final.pdf

sobota, 11 lutego 2017

Ramona Mag Publication! 'Liars'

GUUUYS! My piece got published at Ramona Magazine! To check out their page - click - here. And I hope you enjoy reading it. Cheers!


Writing by Monyca Piter // Photograph by Olivia Dileo
I didn’t want him to leave. I was slowly examining every part of his face. One by one. Touching every spot, each mole, his thin cheeks, red marks. Trying to memorise as much as I possibly could. Blonde hair fell on his pale skin hiding few pimples.  He was lying on my lap looking at me with those big green eyes, the same way as he did when we first met. His eyes were filled with happiness back then, not watering, not looking away. He didn’t realise that I was already missing him terribly. I was scared that he would do something stupid. Well… I knew that he was not one of those guys making smart decisions. Twenty-five years old, but behaving like a kid.
I kissed the red, heart-like mark on his forehead and looked at him smiling. He was holding my hand. Slowly pressed my palm to his mouth at the same time showing “always&forever M2” on his wrist. The tattoo he got few nights ago. I told him that was stupid of him to mark his body for his entire life just because of a girl he met in a store, but now I felt happy about that. A quick sigh escaped from my lungs. I was sad. My heart got stumped with millions of needles at the same time. Slowly falling apart, drifting away from each other and neither of us could do anything about it. I bit my lip trying to say something, but remained silent. It was so quiet, almost calm. His eyes closed. Looking so vulnerable, so innocent. I knew it. No-one had to tell me about it, explain it or translate into another language. He knew it as well.
We had spent a wonderful three months lying to each other. Living an illusion that would soon disappear. Just like him. I wouldn’t visit him in Malaysia, he wouldn’t stay with me. We wouldn’t be able to call ourselves a family, he wouldn’t be the father of my kids. We would never settle down. Maybe we would meet one day. Different. Being strangers to each other, knowing so much about ourselves. Hugging instead of casual greeting, getting to the same club as we used to, he would introduce me to his new girlfriend secretly gazing if I still had that ring. I would smile seeing a little tattoo on his wrist, which used to mean so much. We would talk about those few years when we were not keeping in touch, maybe we would even go out together. Just the two of us. Just like old, good friends trying to catch up after months. And again I would laugh at his jokes. But in the end he would not be the one on whose lap I would be sitting on in a pub. He would not get my name tattooed on his forearm, nor would I be the one kissed on the forehead by him. I wouldn’t dance with him, he wouldn’t say anything about how nice I was looking. I knew it and I was also sure that it had to be like that. Was I about to do anything with it? No. Nobody is able to stop the time running away from us, I didn’t want to hold even a single minute of those months. Trying to remember only good things about him.
Everything has its end. Ours came way too soon. In a month time I would be in Taipei, while he was moving to Shanghai. Meeting new people, making bad decisions, falling in love one more time, even though he was so sure that I was the one. Just as he came to my life, quickly, without saying a thing, not asking for permission, he would disappear the same way. Leaving me in an empty kitchen sitting on an old, dirty sofa that once used to be brown. Saying how much he loved me, that I was the one and would always be. Kiss my forehead and leave. What about me? I would stay and not even a single tear would go down my cheeks. I would not feel sad or alone. Nothing would change. Next morning he would seem so distant to me, as if he never existed, as if we never met. Only once would I sit alone crying, wondering if I should call him, to ask if he was alright. But I wouldn’t do that. Maybe one day I would forget about that handsome, charming guy who could always cheer me up. After years I would probably forget his name. Not saying hello when seeing each other in a public place. Remembering would be just too painful, too many lies had been told already, we didn’t need more of them.
I touched his neck, slowly sliding my finger towards his chest. I could feel his breath on my cheek. Slow and controlled. I had enough. Somebody had to stop this, end the illusion. I stared at his luggage for a minute, then I got up and briskly came to the doors. That was it, it was his time to go and to never come back. He got his bags and came to me. My hair was stuck between his fingers. My breath stopped for a second. Sudden warmth came through my body one last time. His eyes reminded me of flooded meadows. No flowers could be rescued. Not this time. And then… there was just an echo, old, dirty sofa, broken microwave and a cup of unfinished coffee. Still warm. It seemed to be so empty although the room was filled with furniture and electrical equipment. My heart broke into thousands of pieces. He left me. Quick. Quiet. Without any sign of regret. Without a single word. He left me and we were supposed to never see each other again.
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Monyca Piter

Monyca Piter is almost not a teenager, but desperately avoiding being called an adult. As an aspiring writer and journalist, she studies journalism and creative writing in England. Blogger, (time) traveller, model, daughter and a dog person. Tea lover and coffee addict trying to find the best way to live, not just exist. Pierced and inked, fluent speaker in 3 languages. You can find more of her creative work at her blog – www.make-it-to-the-top.blogspot.co.uk
(Visited 381 times, 23 visits today)

Olivia Dileo

Olivia Dileo is 17 and lives near Rome, Italy. She recently started to be fascinated by photography; she loves the fact that sentiments are stuck inside photographs. Check out her work here.
(Visited 1,512 times, 10 visits today)

sobota, 4 lutego 2017

Why only "white" is perceived as beautiful - portrayal of race in media.

Considering the portrayal of beauty in the contemporary media we can easily spot one major problem. If someone is beautiful, the person, according to media, must be white. In this blogpost, I will critically discuss the images of black women in media considering adverts, which are nowadays a huge part of our everyday life and media content as well. 

Representation of race in media consists of pretty much the same stereotypes as those in the gender portrayal.  This is visible considering, for example, various commercials, which show that white women are somehow superior to black, but both of them are perceived as sex-objects, or they spend their whole life in the kitchen. 

Although multiple examples can be given I'll focus on one advert, which is a pure definition of a racist portrayal in the contemporary media. PSP billboard, which caused a lot of controversy in America. Thanks to the public, it wasn't widely published. On the black billboard, we can see a white woman in the center of it aggressively looking at the black woman, who is almost invisible on the billboard. The white woman grabs black woman’s face (or rather tries to squeeze it?).

According to the Oxford Dictionary racism is "the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.". The accuracy of this definition considering this ad is huge. The white woman is superior, she represents something better, innovative and desired.

Bell Hooks argues that in the broad media spectrum people perceive as feminine only women who are white, so in order to achieve the idealized standard of beauty one can go to great lengths... 

According to Abhik Roy (2005) commercials glorifying fair complexion upheld the elitist aesthetic that only woman with light skin can be classified as part of the upper-class as the skin reflects her aristocratic fragility. So just like in this ad – white means better.

Fiske claims that white part of the population regards other ethnicities, especially black people, not only as worse race, but also as a threatening one to the perfect, white world order.

Some people claim that there is no such thing as the "white privilege", but when we consider produced images of a race all over the media we can see how the portrayal of different ethnicities varies and somehow still, always the white person is the supreme one. 

Looking at that PSP billboard one can easily notice the misrepresentation of race, how one ethnicity is shown to be superior to other. As we almost can’t see the black women it seems that she’s not important.  
My example shows not only how black people are portrayed in the contemporary media, but also it shows how the images like that are being consumed in our times. People start to see how ads, movies, cartoons or tv-series are racist and they start to speak up. Thanks to others defending the equality we will soon be able to live in the world without controversies around ethnic groups. There’s just one race in world and it’s the human race.

If you are interested in TOP 10 most racist ads of the modern era - CLICK HERE. 

1) Dyer R. 1997: White. London and New York, Routledge
2) Fiske J. 1994: Media matters: everyday culture and political change. Minneapolis, MN and London: University of Minnesota Press, in UK distributed by UCL Press
3) Hooks B. 1992: Black looks race and representation. Boston, MA, South End Press
4) Roy A. 2005: The 'male gaze' in Indian Television Commercials: A Rhetorical Analysis. Lanham, Boulder, New York, Toronto, Oxford,  University Press of America.