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Do you feel sexualised?
This is a loaded question and I know that, as a female, we are always sexualized in one way or another and that’s not okay but a place seen in the outside world to be known for this is Comic-con. As an avid fan of this event for the last three years, I have seen the community of people that are linked together with all of their different fantasy worlds. I wanted to find a way to focus on representing females and representations in media I looked into my personal life and looked into what I see as entertainment. This then resulted in me then linking, my anime life and my university life into one. In October Conic Con came back to London to once again be one of the largest comic book and anime conventions in London and I had booked my tickets got my t-shirt and I was ready to go and be a part of Comic-Con 2017.
See by watching Sailor Moon as a kid I became a large anime, comic book and gaming fan , and as stated before I am a yearly goer of the event and have analysed the way that female fans have been sexualised and criticised by the world and the media with headlines such as “41 Of The Hottest Ladies at Comic-Con”. Done by Buzzfeed and although it is a parody and an attention-grabbing headline it still speaks loud and clear of what people are looking for when they hear of people dressing up as characters. The fantasy world is seen as a man world, a world full of the cast of the big bang male nerds, males playing dungeons and dragons ( As seen on Stanger Things), but no one has ever asked the females who participate in comic con to their faces “Do you feel sexualized?” so with a microphone and a camera I plan to ask that question and get the answer from the horse’s mouth.
- Which existing media texts inspired your production and how.
The inspiration for the idea of asking females what they feel comes from a reading on how girls have reclaimed the term slut and the negative quotation within the term with events such as Slut-Walk which has celebrities such as Amber Rosie as supporters, and others around the world to show female empowerment. And although my argument is not a political one or have a form of left or right wing feminism it does focus on female empowerment and breaking stereotypes. This extract from the reading was the main source of inspiration.
“We consider the SlutWalks to be a significant form of feminist political action because they enliven what Butler (1997 Butler, J. 1997. Excitable speech: A politics of the performative, London New York: Routledge.) has theorised as a politics of ‘re-signification’. Taking the word queer as the most common example of this dynamic, re-signification theorises how an injurious term is re-worked in the cultural domain from one of maligning to one of celebration. This dynamic is apparent in the use of slut as a point of celebration and a banner for political action, rather than shame (Attwood 2007 Ringrose, J. 2006. A new universal mean girl: Examining the discursive construction and social regulation of a new feminine pathology. Feminism and Psychology 16, no. 4: 405–24). The SlutWalks as a collective movement are thus attempting to turn the blaming the victim of sexual violence for an attack on its head! One of the goals is to push the gaze of the dress and behaviour of the victim of sexual violence back upon the perpetrator, questioning the normalisation and legitimization of male sexual aggression.”(Ringrose, Jessica, & Renold, Emma. (2012)1
The quote above gained my attention on the way that women have been able to claim back terms such as “Slut” as a form of empowerment which is something I hope to give to the women who participate in Comic-Con a sense of empowerment by answering a question that most of the time is answered for them by males who believe they understand what they experience.
Who the production is aimed at/target audience.
The end product will be in the style of a professional photo book with a quote from the participant’s answers to the question “do you feel sexualised in what your wearing”. aiming is to give a view of the participant’s opinions. The target audience is both people who enjoy the fantasy world as well as people who question the lifestyle. This is because we all know that “Normal” people also consume the medium, but the people who dress up in the style of a character are seen as eccentric with there style of devotion towards a show, animation or game. Dressing up as a character is much more than just doing it for he looks its a connection that you have and a way to show your thanks.
” By dressing up as a certain character and reproducing images and/or stories based on an original work, fans express and exchange their feeling toward the work, and at the same time, enjoy their creative activities. This ‘participatory culture’ of fans has been highlighted as a part of media consumption in an era of media convergence”(3 Jenkins, Henry. 2006)
So the girls I want to question I want to be able to look at the information
I collected to be seen as an insight into a fans mind as the dress up, does the way the character looks to make them not want to show appreciation, do they feel that the can’t be a character because they are do not fit the mould etc.
When looking at the rise of celeb culture in every part of modern media videos as the one below have begun to emerge with western media needing to find a way to connect with a large number of people consuming Japanese cartoons. My reading resulted in me finding “This article that discusses the aesthetic characteristics of Japanese animation and shows how anime experienced a creative transformation that ended up innovating with its originality and indigenous inputs, to such an extent that anime style productions are no longer performed only in Japan; anime series such as Code Lyoko (2003) or Ben 10 (2005), and others close to the surrealist imagery of Japanese mythology, such as Adventure Time (2010), have become hugely popular in the West.”4 which links to my previous point of how cultures have begun to blend together.
Linking back to the question that I have set answer “ do you feel sexualised” Test results in needing to look at the way females are represented in the media so might go to theory Laura Mulvey’s male gaze which can be seen as the backbone of most theories looking into female representation in mass media. Women and their sexuality is seen as the forefront of any argument, we have become sex symbols due to the way we dress or do not dress and when looking at it from the point of view of Comic-con and its fans, do we blame them for being sexualised or do we blame them for wanting to be a the character because they do not see the way they dress but see a character who the connect with because of what the represent to them. Do we blame fans for the way that women have been portrayed in mass Media? “The mainstream mass media (television, magazines, movies, music, and the Internet) provide increasingly frequent portrayals of sexuality. We still know relatively little about how this content is used and how it affects sexual beliefs and behaviours. The few available studies suggest that the media do have an impact because the media keep sexual behaviour on public and personal agendas, media portrayals reinforce a relatively consistent set of sexual and relationship norms.”6(1965 Journal)
Ethical questions, as well as health and safety, is something I looked into when deciding to go to comic con. I will make sure to ask for verbal consent from each participant before taking an image ask well as interviewing them. I will also be travelling with a friend to feel safe the whole day.
Once I returned from Comic-con I began the editing process on the images spending a few days changing the lighting, and exposure of each image the end result was six images that focus on the faces of those I interviewed.
Once the images where edited I began working in InDesign to create a photo book, which would have quotes from the interview that I transcripted which will be added into the appendix. I decided to use Indesign as it was a software I was comfortable in using.
However, as seen on my first try was cluttered and felt forced with the images not being placed in order. As seen in the image above you can also see another person I interviewed whose information I later decided to cut as it did not answer the question set out.
My next attempt at the production work I tried to focus on the comic heroes that are the focus of comic con itself. However I once again I was not visually pleasing it was too plain and looked unprofessional. (Image 2)
After discussing with my seminar leader on how the pages looked plan we looked into transforming my photography book into a Zine, which is a fan-made magazine which would then allow for more visual creativity. My first attempt at this mirrored that of Image 2
This then resulted in me also changing formats after seeing that InDesign was not the software needed for this so as seen above I began using Microsoft Word as my platform. This allowed for easy access as well as allowing me to work from home.
What Did I Learn?
I was able to answer my question each person answering my question was honest and truthful many shocked that they were asked but then felt happy to answer. I learned how to word it in a way and was able to read a person from the way they interacted with me before the question was asked. I also learned that microphones even if they are there to record are quite scary to most people so speaking to them with your phone or a notepad is easier. Once I had finished each interview most had the recording theme that they did not mind the attention but only if people asked, and they wanted people to remember that they are people under the costumes. Which is why each image even though I took many are of the girl’s faces, of the happiness they felt and how proud they were of there costumes bought or handmade over six months. I wanted to include emotion in the final piece because that is what I saw at Comic-Con. The Women did not care about a few men that sexualised them because a larger amount of people just thought that there costumes where cool. They were so, cool.
Risk Assesment :
- Lets Go Gif: https://media.giphy.com/media/l4EpepRhJXX6HIXCg/giphy.gif
- Ringrose, Jessica, & Renold, Emma. (2012). Slut-Shaming, Girl Power and “Sexualisation”: Thinking through the Politics of the International SlutWalks with Teen Girls. Gender and Education,24(3), 333-343.
- Jenkins, Henry. 2006“Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars?: Digital Cinema, Media Convergence, and Participatory Culture.” In Media and Cultural Studies: Keyworks, Revised ed., edited by Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Douglas M. Kellner, 547–576. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
- Horno-López, A. (2016). The particular visual language of anime: Design, colour and selection of resources. Animation Practice, Process & Production, 5(1), 39-56.
- youtube video: Top Ten Surprising Celebrity Anime Fans WatchMojo
- Society for the Scientific Study of Sex. (1965). The Journal of Sex Research.
- Pop Art Image In final product:https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/250794272975447850/
- Crisis On Infinite Earths: http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Crisis_on_Infinite_Earths
- Fonts Used in Assessment: http://www.1001fonts.com/
- Princess Peach:
ALL SCREENSHOTS ARE IMAGES OF PREVIOUS WORK AND ALL IMAGES OF PARTICIPANTS WHERE TAKEN BY ME AND A THEREFORE MY OWN.