Draft 2 Visual Essay w/ Framing Discussion

For my visual essay I chose to construct a conversation between what I perceive as quintessential 2nd wave feminists (older, white, middle class/wealthy, and generally privileged) and quintessential millennial feminists (younger, more diverse). I felt that this topic would lend itself well to a visual essay since the activism of millennial feminists so often has strong visual components simply by virtual of high volume use of social media tools. I also chose this topic because in the last year the campaign of Hillary Clinton for the democratic presidential nomination has highlighted some of the generational conflicts within the women’s movement.

For this essay, I chose quotes from 3 2nd wave feminists who express some negative sentiment towards millennial women for their engagement or lack thereof in the women’s movement. The quotes comes from Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz who is the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Gloria Steinem who has been a leader in the feminist activist movement since the 1970s, and Madeleine Albright who was the first woman to become Secretary of State. The Schultz quote accuses young women of being complacent about reproductive rights. The Steinem quote acknowledges the feminist activism of young women but insinuates that their choice of political candidate is based, not on the issues, but on the intention to impress boys. The Albright quote suggests that young women who do not support Clinton’s presidential campaign are somehow betraying their gender.

Through still images of protest events, screen captures of social media posts, clips of educational youtube videos, video of spoken word poetry performances, and music by an all-female punk rock band, I imagine millennial women responding to these criticisms. By alternating between critical comments by 2nd wave feminists and examples of the feminist work of younger women, I construct a dialogue in which young women argue back against the accusations made about them.

This was an interesting and enjoyable process for me. As I have put this essay together I realize that it has better helped me understand Mitchell’s assertion that “there are no visual media”. In this essay, which has been constructed as a conversation between generations, sound is equally if not more important than visual images. We are listening to these different women speak to each other, and their exact language matters. The importance of the words they choose is especially evident in the case of the Steinem quote because she later apologized but said that her words had simply been misinterpreted. However, what matters in this essay are the exact words she chose to use, because even presented in context they are still problematic (which is why I chose to present them within the context of her recognition of the feminist work of young women).

This is not to completely discount the importance of the visual images in this essay. The visual serves two important purposes here. The first is to give evidence of young women’s feminist work in a way which I feel is more impactful than mere statistics. The images of young women protesting, and examples of visual art that they have created better illustrate the passion of their activism than numbers can. Second, the visual component of this essay allows me to contrast the racial and ethnic diversity of the critical 2nd wave feminists and their millennial counterparts. Again, rather than simply stating that young women are more committed to intersectional feminism, I am able to illustrate this by showing a diverse group of young feminists engaging in this constructed conversation.

 

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Define a Term Visually

Beth Coleman: pervasive media

“What I demarcate with the term “pervasive media” is a global culture that engages a spectrum of networked technologies, such as virtual worlds, voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP), mobile rich-media and texting, and microblogging formats”.

“…one’s lived identity and one’s life online move closer to each other as social network affiliations become more robust across media platforms and are paired with face-to-face gatherings”.

Beth Coleman

Live-Blogging Tangerine

For this blog post I will experiment with live-blogging, or writing my reactions and thoughts about the movie as I am having them. In an effort to preserve my honest reactions, I won’t edit for content when I’m finished.

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The film opens with a very classical sort of title sequence as for an old hollywood musical.

After the first exchange at the donut shot across the table the cinematography gets a little more creative.

Shooting with the iphone gives the film a documentary/mockumentary feel. Knowing that it was filmed on a phone makes me very aware of where the camera and the camera operator are positioned in relation to the scene. If I didn’t have this information I might only think that the film had a fairly small budget but I doubt I would have guessed that the crew wasn’t using semi-professional equipment.

I knew about this movie before finding out that we needed to watch it for class. It received a lot of positive buzz from feminist blogs because, unlike such LGBTQ “lite” mainstream films like The Danish Girl, Tangerine actually cast transwomen to play transwomen on screen, instead of casting cismen.

I’m interested to see when Sin-Dee or Alexandra will cross paths with the Armenian cab driver (since I’m fairly sure he isn’t the elusive Chester).

The fact that a person can get work of this quality filmed on the type of phone owned by so many people is a positive example of how democratizing technology can be. Given how unlikely Hollywood is to green light films with women, POC, or transfolks in the lead, Tangerine shows us how accessible technologies make it possible for marginalized folks to tell their own stories. Again, in contrast to a film like The Danish Girl, Tangerine centers the experiences of marginalized folks from their own perspective rather than filtered through a sanitizing lens to make it more accessible to the “mainstream” audience. The Danish Girl focused less on Lili’s own journey and experience and more on how her transition affects her marriage to Gerda. Tangerine feels very raw and honest; transwomen are not portrayed as fragile victims but women fighting hard for their own survival.

Alexandra and the cab driver are on friendly terms; he seems to be a regular client of hers.

I know I keep comparing this film to The Danish Girl, but it’s difficult not to since they came out in the same year and engage such drastically different tactics to portray transfolks. The sad or painful moments in Tangerine feel less pitying than in The Danish Girl. The women in Tangerine aren’t struggling with their identity, but for survival. Alexandra and Sin-Dee have agency that seems denied to Lili.

Possibly because I keep thinking of these films in contrast to one another, or because of how raw Tangerine feels, it was difficult for me to recognize the comedy in this comedy/drama.

The lighting was most noticeable for me toward the end of the film as, after the final conflict at Donut Time, the characters go their separate ways and we see them spotlit by Christmas lights, porch lights, or headlights. In the final scene, the harsh florescent lighting in the laundromat shows us a tender moment.

Overall, I’m not sure what to make of Tangerine. I appreciate that it was a story about transwomen where the plot wasn’t necessarily driven by their trans-ness. I also appreciate that this a movie that might have been unlikely to happen without such accessible technology. Ultimately, though, I think I’m missing something critical about this project. I feel that my lack of technical knowledge and my tendency to focus very closely on issues of reputation in media mean that I am overlooking the exact reason for our watching the film for Visual Research Methods.

The result of this post is very stream-of-consciousness and lacks much critical thought. Again, I think my own habit of focusing on identity and representation means that I’ve failed to get to the heart of why we watched this specific film for our class.