Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Bond Project: Villain Files

“Bond. James Bond.” Who would have known that one of the most well known characters on the silver screen would be remembered not by the style, but by negative stereotypes. Can it be true that James Bond films have racist and other negative stereotypes in them? Well that’s what The James Bond Project: Villain Files is all about, trying to find the meaning of James Bond villains by searching what's under the surface. By randomly selecting three James Bond films and then putting them through the blender; I set out to find a common trend in James Bond – good or bad. Armed with a few scholarly works, a film book, and other articles, I dove into the world of Bond and shifted through the secret agent’s style, voice, and women to find what was really under the surface. The data is interesting and the conclusion shocking.

The James Bond Project: Villain Files (Quicktime 7 Required)

Added Bonus Research:
I asked myself one question: Can villains in James Bond movies be easily spotted, and what makes them a villain to the audience? So, I decided to play a little game with my niece (5yrs old) and nephew (7yrs old) that would test my theory of stereotyping villains. I took the bond villains and heroes pictures and randomly picked a few to test against each other. I had four rounds of villain versus hero faces against each other. I made the last question hard, to see what the responses would be.

Test
Answers for Test

As you can see, each character has one frame to make their impression. Can a 5yr old and a 7yr old spot the differences and if so, what gave them the idea that they were the villain or hero. The results were very interesting. The 7yr and 5yr both missed the hardest question. These young kids that have no previous experience with James Bond films were able to pick out the villain in 3 rounds of the 4. So this research proves one thing - James Bond films do a very nice job of separating their villains from heroes by using their defects or differences against them. Best quote, "He's the bad guy. Bad guys were sunglasses." She got the question right, so I guess my niece reads pretty deep on accessories, and didn't notice the metal arm holding a chicken.

Sources:

Newton, Dale, and John Gaspard. Digital Filmmaking 101: An Essential Guide to
Producing Low-Budget Movies. Studio City: Michael Wiese Productions, 2001.

“The Codes of Television,” John Fiske, Media studies: A reader,
edited by Paul Marris and Sue Thornham (1996), Edinburgh UP.

James Bond Multimedia. May. 2006-June 2006.

Great Articles (Sources):
What We Can Learn from James Bond
Licence to Thrill
CommanderBond.Net Forum

Just a gnome's final project...

Never Give Them...

A chance to make a commerical for you. Them - everyone out there with a dislike for your vehicle. In the Dark Gnome Shop, you can pretty much see my hate for car commercials - well for all advertising that is horrible, really. However, when Chevy let regular people (the two of you) take a crack at making them a commercial for the new Tahoe the surprise was on them. I went ahead and listed in order my favorites. So for your viewing pleasure...

AdOne
AdTwo
AdThree

If you want to check out more of these just head to YouTube and in the search field type: Chevy Tahoe Commercial or Chevy Commercial. Enjoy the laughter.

Just a laughing gnome...

Gas Guzzling Ads

How many times a day do you see a commercial for a motor-vehicle? How many times do those commercials seem to be of the same cookie-cutter style? Now wouldn't it be fun to slap the person/people responsible for creating it across the face? I guess that is a little extreme...or is it? Where are the creative motor-vehicle commercials you scream at your television set after watching for the million-plus-one time a standard black SUV pile kids into it, and then swerve about on the most uninteresting roads? I concur with the people out there that actually do yell at the television set (have to exercise some how). So I went out to find some good ones that break the mold of your typical motor-vehicle commercial.

Car Ads:
Honda
Mini
Nissan (Shift Series)
Toyota

Interesting, I don't have any American made vehicles in my commercial list. Why is that? Do these companies refuse to challenge the grain like Mini, or is it they have no talent on the advertising side (I find this hard to believe). I just want more creative advertising in the motor-vehicle world - is it too much to ask?

Just a tired gnome...

Monday, May 29, 2006

Jetta Report

A lot of commercials bother me; they are either horribly done, or just plain worthless. Then again, there are a few select gems in the steady flow of waste that make me proud of the field I work. Volkswagen has done it again with the "Don't Stereotype" series of commercials. These blend stereotypes into a new twist that is enjoyable to watch and humours. They also plug their website at the end of the commercials, The Jetta Report, which got even myself to visit. Check it out!

Advertising at its best. Hope you can enjoy the commercials as much as I do. (can't find any links to them - will update when I do)

Just a gnome watching the Mavs...

Friday, May 26, 2006

Movie Monster Madness!

For a holiday project (sounds like an oxymoron), I decided to watch Jeepers Creepers 2, a monster-horror movie. I watched to find out if the more recent horror movies revamped the old-grain-horror formula (racism/stereotypes). My findings didn’t quite surprise me. Jeepers Creepers 2 has a little new age spice, but a lot of old horror formula dripping from its fangs.

Movie Synopsis:
The Creeper is back for some more action, and this time it involves a school bus load of cheerleaders, basketball players, and the random motorist. Can the human characters outlast him? Can he be slain? But remember, on the 23rd spring for 23 days...

Notes:
I kept a nice little note list while watching the film and had the best time marking off characters as they bit the dust. I did this to keep track of the old school stereotypes that were used and see if, maybe, there was some new edge techniques used.

New Age:
Girl actually stabbed the Creeper while it was attacking a schoolmate.
A minority made it to the end of the movie! (5 to 1 white/black survivors though!)
First person to die in movie was a white child! (wasn’t a main character but first one!)

Old School:
First person to die (main characters) was a minority.
Women were portrayed as the "screamers", and “chicken-head” gossip type.
Women had little say in what the group was to do.
Women needed to clutch to the men around them.
Strong majority of basketball team were white.
Main authority figure(s) were white males.
Minorities were not included in the “save-us” idea.
Main hero(s) were white males.

Interesting Notes:
The minority that made it to the end of the movie was the only one to ever touch and fire the gun (flare-gun).
Only people that touched the radio were white student and white bus driver – one male other female.
Second authority figure (basketball captain) was a racist! Quote, “I guess I have the wrong skin color to play on this team.”
Minority character was shown as the comedic relief, and was shown taking the flare gun off a dead body (a minority stealing!).
Authority figure (white) was fast to point the finger and blame other people (minority) for why this “horror” was happening.
Speaking lines in the movie were limited to majority characters, and the minority cheerleader had two lines.

I was glad to analyze a film like this under the microscope. Although, if digging too deep one might misread what was really going on; i.e., black character takes an item off a dead white person’s body. This was for survival, and he had to (I would have), but still I interpreted it as: “Look they are showing a minority stealing from a majority figure.” Overall, I really enjoyed my holiday project and can’t wait to hear what others found.

Just a horror film watching gnome…

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Picture This!

Just a little television ad for the topic about how digital cameras use sex to sell their products. After I saw that ad, I said, "I wonder what camera that was for and why do I feel so dirty now?

Also, here are some more for your viewing pleasure (some aren't sexual):
Sony (Spain)
Digital Camera (Japan)
Camera Phone (France)

Just a gnome ad mining...

Mini-Shadow Project

"Sex, Lies, and Digital Cameras- Sex in Digital Camera Ads "

Two-sentence summary of findings:
Digital camera ads in three issues of a popular digital camera magazine mostly depicted the products without sexual images or sexual innuendoes. The ads could be broken into two groups: either containing sexual images/ innuendoes, or devoid of any.

Summary of the previous study:
I used the study done by Jonathan E. Schroeder and Pierre McDonagh (“The Logic of Pornography in Digital Camera Promotion,”) in the text book for Jouralism 4250 class (LEA 2006, Lambiase and Reichert, Sex In consumer Culture: The Erotic Content of Media and Marketing). The study revealed digital camera advertisers were using sexuality in their ads without concern for the emotional, physical, political, or cultural complications of sexual activity, therefore, blending digital camera branding with pornography content and consumer culture (Lambiase and Reichert).

Its most important foundation literature and how it relates to your own project:
The past studies done by Jonathan E. Schroeder (untitled only by date) were the most relevant in the previous study. Schroeder defines what “sexual” is, and this definition is what keeps the study on a straight base. Once this is defined, the categories (coding scale) can be expressed in the terms surrounding the definition; without this definition my study of sexual themes wouldn’t be categorized in the same way.

Corpus and method:
My corpus encompasses all full-page ads for digital cameras, appearing in the Jan., Feb., and March 2005, issues of Digital Camera World. The method I used was both quantitative and qualitative content analysis. I would first decode the ad into two groups: ones depicting a sexual theme or devoid of any. Of those depicting any sexual theme, I then did a qualitative analysis to establish the extent of the sexual message- innuendoes or sexual image- and where the message was found (body, headline, image, etc.).

Findings:
Overall, the three issues of Digital Camera World contained a total of 12 full page ads for digital cameras: 10 were devoid of any sexual theme and only two contained a sexual theme. Of the two containing a sexual theme (2 page ad containing many photographs and motorbike girl), it was mostly composed of sexual innuendoes. The motorbike girl ad used sexual theme- the sexual gaze. It actually took me nearly a minute to process that she was holding a photo of the bike’s engine (her gaze held my attention). The Fujifilm ad (2 page ad) contained many mini-photos and a large majority of those contained the human body in nude form or sexual gestures, poses. The 10 ads that had no sexual theme seemed to carry the same framework: a giant picture of the product (camera), headline and copy that highlight the key selling points of the product, and/or amazing photo with the product pictured near the bottom.
Examples of ads used: Pentax - Nikon - Fujifilm

Conclusions:
Contrary to the past study, I found that the vast majority (83%+/-) of digital camera ads held no sexual themes. Although, I believe that my mini-study would reveal more in the form of sexualized themes if I was able to get my hands on popular men’s magazines that contained at least one or two digital camera ads. My conclusion is that based on type of reader populous of Digital Camera World, advertisers won’t use the sexual approach, because the content in the magazine is closely linked to how-to’s, tricks, tips, and best features of cameras and photos. Therefore, stereotyping the reader of the magazine as the type of person that would rather see what the product can do (photo wise), or the benefits, over a sexual themed ad. Nonetheless, two ads with sexual themes did still showed up. I was surprised with the overall results.

Just a gnome's assignment...

Thinking Before Placing

After a recent discussion in class, I realized how easy it is to tell apart amateur and professional ad designers. The ads in question were from Planned Parenthood. The problem was the use of a minority person's picture next to headlines like: "Are you sleeping with someone to die for?" and "How often do you have killer sex?" Moreover, the body text also contained material that lead the reader to think they referred to the people in pictures (minorities). The worse part of it was the use of a white person's portrait next to text that was not at all so abrasive, which lead readers to view whites in better light. The design was horrible for the text the ad contained.

This corner picture framework, text interwoven in the middle, title on top, and company information on bottom is pretty simplistic. The overall framework isn’t the problem, but the text and with/how the pictures were used in each ad created the problem. The design used was probably done to separate the pictures-portraits of people-creating an individual aspect to each so as not to suggest that the two people were a couple. However, the designer didn’t factor in what text would be used. So when they used a minority next to a bad headline and body text negative connotation is seen.

If the designer would have put some thought into his layout, I think he would have changed his whole design. Hopefully, he didn't do it deliberately, which is a sad thing to think about. Moreover, if a professional or at least someone who thought about the end product might have changed the design; placing a group photo (different races, sexes, etc.) at the top of the ad and moving the headline underneath it. This takes away the individual blocking and makes the ad less problematic.

We don’t know all the aspects behind creating these ads in question, but one would hope the designer/creator would have put some thought into the final project.

Just a gnome thinking…

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

No Girls Allowed!

In the world of sports, we all know that it was and will always be a man’s place. Women have no place in sports, and they should stay in the kitchen where they belong. Apparently, some people feel this way. They believe that women playing sports, talking about sports, or thinking about sports is sacrilegious. Andy Rooney thinks female sportscasters are ridiculous. Watch the video on the link (top right area of web page) and enjoy a laugh with the article. It shouldn’t matter who you are-sex, race, history-if you are good, then you should have a shot at it.

I hate all televised sports casting, or at least the way it is done presently. Why must I have three men sitting within four inches of each other all talking about a play I just watched. It seems to be overkill. Is there such a huge populous of sportscasters that networks feel the need to “house” them? Or some law that states: “Sports casting is only good if there are least two or three men chattering about what nice guys the sports players are?”

I would like to see a more diverse sports casting breed, and bring along with that a different way to do it. A way that makes sports fans such as myself, actually stop using the mute button while the game is on.

Also, here's an interesting article about women in the sports casting world.
Women in Sports Casting

Just a sports loving gnome…

Sunday, May 21, 2006

BLT- Bacon, Lettuce, and Testosterone

Men, we are a meat-eating-chest-beating-beer-gouging- over-consuming animal of burden that has a one-track mind only craving flesh of other creatures! It’s true, because television shows this. This is degrading. I truly emphasize for women that feel they are portrayed as a sexual image only good for caretaking of the above description of men.

Two new commercials have taken me on this road. A Burger King commercial and a TGI Friday’s commercial (no link) that portray men as savage creatures that need meat. In the TGI Friday’s commercial a group of four friends sit around the table and praise their freshly cooked meals with the yells of wild men. “BEEEEEFF!”, screams one. The next man returns the primal call with, “POOOORK!” An echo across the table chimes, “CHICKKEN!!” And lastly, a fellow calls out, “BROCHILI!” His fellow men glare at him, until he gives the correct answer - beef. What a fantastic way to portray man.

Yes, I watch football on Sundays. Yes, I enjoy a great steak. Yes, I like to partake in having a few beers at parties or for a night on the town. However, I don't look like a primal ass while doing it, and I don't know any men that do. I for one don’t want to have my intelligence called into question, because of my sex. Nor do I want to be classified as a de-evolved creature no better than we were thousands of years ago clubbing creatures and grunting to each other. Maybe that’s why I hated the television show Home Improvement. The main character Tim would walk around grunting and acting like an ass, while his wife had to fix everything he broke. We as men should ask ourselves if we really want to be shown like that, and how many times have you ever made a grunt or beat your chest?

Just a really mad gnome…

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Zoom! Zoom!

Have you seen the new Volkswagen commercials – Low Ego Emissions?

What about the British aired Mini-Cooper commercial? Well I don’t have a link for that one; however, I can describe it for you. It’s basically a game show where a woman is guessing what vehicles men drive by the size of their “package." When she gets to the Mini-Cooper owner a sound of a horse chimes in the back ground and the crowd gasps at the models’ “package." No nudity is shown in the commercial; however, it is very apparent what the contestant is using to guess. She did guess right incase you are wondering.

Now you’re wondering why I would even bring this up. The Volkswagen and the Mini-Cooper commercials all have one thing in common – stereotypes on people based on the cars they drive. The commercials are enjoyable to watch, because everyone has experienced stereotyping people based on their “rides." They also address it in a humorous way. It’s like stereotyping someone based on the clothes they wear. Although, for clothes it’s a little easier to show a reflection (they do reflect how a person is feeling and their mind-set for the day, etc.) but a vehicle? A one time purchase that you are going to be stuck with for a long period of time? Can I assume the man in the monter SUV is compensating for something? Is the woman in the 1972 Pinto also living in a trailer down by the river? Is my hand-me-down Ford Explorer a reflection of who I really am?

The commercials addressed these issues in a humorous way, but what can the viewer take away from them after his laughter has died away? Will they take them as truths and start to stereotype people on the road? I hope he sits and thinks about his own vehicle, and finds if it really defines him. Interesting what the answers would be. Is it true you bought that Porsche 911 so it takes attention away from some “other” matter, or is it just the car you wanted based on looks, etc?

The commercials will probably make the companies money; however, I just hope they don't end up conjuring hard-set stereotypes.

Just a gnome playing out his thoughts…