M2A1: Mini Paper: Gender Roles in Hollywood
There are four mini papers in this course, each requiring you to complete research on a given topic and to integrate the course material.
Mini Paper #1 is due at the end of Module 2 and focuses on gender roles as portrayed in Hollywood films.
The United States is a nation of moviemakers and moviegoers. Based on 2009 numbers, the Motion Picture and Television Industry is made up of more than 95,000 small businesses spread across all 50 states, producing 2.4 million jobs (mpaa.org, 2010). In terms of our national appetite for film, moviegoers bought almost 1.3 trillion tickets in 2010, generating over $10 trillion dollars in gross sales at the box office (the-numbers.com, 2011). This figure doesn’t include the average American’s money spent on DVDs and the hours devoted to watching DVD versions of films or those aired on television.
It is evident from these numbers then that, as a society, we watch a significant number of movies, whether in the theater or at home. Peter C. Rollins, author of Hollywood as Historian: American Film in a Cultural Context (1997) proposed a significant question based on the tremendous presence of movies in our lives: Does Hollywood influence society or is it the other way around?
For this assignment, do the following:
Select a film dealing with gender, and analyze it using material from the course.
Write a summary and analysis of the gender-related issue(s) you observe in the film.
Organize your paper into the following sections:
Table of Contents
Introduction (1–2 paragraphs summarizing the topic briefly)
Background (brief synopsis of the film and identification of major gender issues)
Analysis (brief analysis of the gender topic(s) you uncovered and their specific relation to the course material)
Conclusion (1–2 paragraph review of your findings)
List of suggested films
The movies listed below are meant only as recommendations. You may select one of these or choose one of your own. If you choose your own film, be sure to confirm the appropriateness of the selection with your instructor.
9 to 5 (1980)
Best Years of Our Lives, The (1946)
Blackhawk Down (2001)
Born in Flames (1983)
Boy A (2007)
Color Purple, The (1985)
Erin Brockovich (2000)
Fatal Attraction (1987)
Married Life (2007)
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Mr. Mom (1983)
North Country (2005)
Pillow Talk (1959)
Revolutionary Road (2008)
Stepford Wives, The (1975 or 2004 versions)
Thelma and Louise (1991)
Waiting to Exhale (1995)
Wedding Banquet, The (1993)
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Working Girl (1988)
An example to illustrate what is expected out of this assignment is the film The Snake Pit, an Academy Award winning film from 1948 that depicts the struggles of the heroine Virginia, who finds herself in a mental institution. The film documents her journey from a troubled female, who appears detached and unfulfilled, to a cured woman reunited with her husband and emotionally ready to move on with her life.
Though many critics viewed the film as an important social statement about the need for change in the deplorable condition of mental institutions of the time, the producers and the author of the book on which the film is based conveyed a deeper meaning—a look at the female’s struggle between the roles of mother and wife and that of educated career woman. The result is a slip of sanity and a need for therapy to find her way back to an acceptable role in society (Fishbein, 1979).
Following the structure outlined above, a paper on this film would include a background section that would provide details of the plot and characters. The analysis section would introduce, define, and discuss concepts from the course that help explain the gender issues in the film. Finally, the conclusion section would briefly summarize the major points about how the heroine’s initial struggle is connected to issues with gender identity and resistance to gender stereotyping in addition to anxiety over her husband’s struggle to fulfill his expected role as successful breadwinner.
Your work should be submitted in a Word document, 2–3 pages in length (excluding the title, the table of contents, and the references pages), typed double-space in 10- or 12-point Arial or Times New Roman font. The page margins on the top, bottom, left side, and right side should be 1 inch each. Use APA guidelines for citing and referencing sources.
See the Course Calendar for due dates.
Keep the following points in mind:
Gender roles as portrayed in Hollywood films are appropriately identified and examined and include pertinent examples.
Answers are well developed and supported by proper reasons and research information.
Compose your work in a .doc or .docx file type using a word processor (such as Microsoft Word, etc.) and save it frequently to your computer. For those assignments that are not written essays and require uploading images or PowerPoint slides, please follow uploading guidelines provided by your instructor.
Check your work and correct any spelling or grammatical errors. When you are ready to submit your work, click “Upload Submission.” Enter the submission title and then click on “Select a file to upload.” Browse your computer, and select your file. Click “Open” and verify the correct file name has appeared next to Submission File. Click on “Continue.” Confirm submission is correct and then click on “Accept Submission & Save.”
This course has Turnitin® fully integrated into the course dropbox. This means that you should only submit your assignments to the dropbox below. Please do not submit your assignment directly to Turnitin.com.
Once submitted, your assignment will be evaluated by Turnitin® automatically. You will be able to view an Originality Report within minutes of your first submission that will show how much of your work has been identified as similar to other sources such as websites, textbooks, or other student papers. Use your Originality Report as a learning tool to identify areas of your assignment that you may not have cited appropriately. You may resubmit your assignment through this dropbox as many times as you need to check to see if you have made improvements, until the due date of the assignment. However, once you have made your first submission, you will need to wait 24 hours after each subsequent submission to receive a new Originality Report. Plan accordingly as you draft your assignment. Once the due date has passed, your assignment submission will be considered final.
This assignment will be graded using the SBT Mini Paper Grading Rubric located on the Course Rubrics page within the Start Here section of the course. Please review the rubric prior to beginning your work so that you ensure your submission meets the criteria in place for this assignment. Collectively, these assignments are worth 10% of your final course grade.
Gender Roles in Hollywood
Background: Erin Brockovich (2000). 3
Analysis of Gender Issues in Erin Brockovich. 4
Hollywood has grown to become the symbolic center of the United States film industry. Moreover, Hollywood also dominates the world motion-picture industry, with the world’s highest grossing films of all time being made in the United States. Movie stars and movies are an influential medium since they have a great impact on society (Bordwell, 2012). As such, Hollywood, having a stronghold on the film industry, exerts strong cultural, moral, and political influences on society. The influences of Hollywood, most of the time, perpetuate a way of thinking that is narrow-minded. Hollywood films have a tendency of portraying things as black and white, which makes people think that the world is black and white, which is not true. Films tend to exaggerate people’s differences and show the problems that society faces. They constantly bombard society with stereotypes of gender, age, sexual preference, and race. When stereotypes are portrayed on a continuous basis, it becomes hard to overcome them. All in all, Hollywood movies have both positive and negative effects on society.
Actress Julia Roberts stars as the main character in this film, Erin Brockovich (Soderbergh et al., 2000). She is in a very tight spot after she is involved in a car accident. Erin pleads with her lawyer, Ed Masry, to employ her at his law company. While working at the company, Erin Brockovich comes across some medical records which were placed in real estate documents. Erin manages to convince her employer to allow her to conduct an investigation into the medical records. Brockovich discovers a cover-up that involved contaminated water in the local community. This contaminated water was causing people in the community to suffer from illnesses. Erin dedicates her efforts towards fighting the company responsible for water contamination and serving justice to the affected residents. The film showcases the various challenges that Erin faces, balancing her duties as a mother while being an individual advocating for justice. The various challenges that women face in society are highlighted in the film (Hendriyati, 2008). Erin, despite not being on the wrong during the car accident, walks out of the lawsuit against the offender without a penny. She works in a male-dominated field and suffers from a lack of respect. People judge her based on her dressing and based on stereotypes leveled against the female gender.
Erin sued the doctor who caused the car accident that she was involved in, with the help of her attorney. When Erin was testifying against the doctor, the case prosecutor probes into whether the father of her children helps her. Erin, knowing what the prosecutor was getting at, replies with “which one?” since the fathers of her children were two (McCann & Haltom, 2008). The prosecutor intended to make Erin look like an immoral woman, one who cannot stick with one man. It is clear that she needs money for her medical care and the care of her children. However, she ends up losing the case after blowing up in court. People tend to judge women who have children with multiple men negatively (Hendriyati, 2008). Erin does not get the respect that she deserves from co-workers and other people (Baumann & Schmidt-Haberkamp, 2010). This is because she was working in a male-dominated field. Moreover, people judged her negatively based on her mode of dressing. Since she did not dress conservatively, Erin, people see her as being disrespectful and provocative. Even fellow women treated her differently. She, however, does not care about how other people see her and goes on dressing as she pleases.
Erin plays the role of a powerful woman in society, doing things that are done by men (Banks, 2002). She can negotiate better than Ed, her employer, and shows that women in society and at work can be powerful. She works hard and smart to get past the gender-based stereotypes that exist in the society and ensure that justice prevails. Erin does not allow the negativity that people show her to affect her. Rather, she ignores the judgment passed on her by society and remains focused on her goal. Erin Brockovich is a classic example of a film that portrays the struggle and stereotypes that women face in society today.
Banks, S. (2002). The Erin Brockovich Effect: How Media Shapes Toxics Policy. Environs: Envtl. L. & Pol’y J., 26, 219.
Baumann, U., & Schmidt-Haberkamp, B. (2010). Gendered (re) visions: constructions of gender in audiovisual media (Vol. 4). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.
Bordwell, D. (2012). Introduction. In Poetics of Cinema (pp. 13-20). Routledge.
Hendriyati, H. (2008). STEREOTYPING OF SINGLE PARENT REFLECTED IN STEVEN SODERBERG’S “ERIN BROCKOVICH” MOVIE: A LIBERAL FEMINIST APPROACH (Doctoral dissertation, Universitas Muhammadiyah Surakarta).
McCann, M., & Haltom, W. (2008). Ordinary heroes vs. failed lawyers—Public interest litigation in Erin Brockovich and other contemporary films. Law & Social Inquiry, 33(4), 1043-1070.
Soderbergh, S., Roberts, J., Finney, A., & Eckhart, A. (2000). Erin Brockovich. Columbia Tristar Home Video.
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