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Friday, June 02, 2006

Case Study and Character Analysis of Grey's Anatomy Season One

Overview:
I watched episodes 7, 8 and 9 of season one of Grey's Anatomy, a relatively new hospital drama airing on ABC Sunday nights. Meridith Grey, a young white female intern, narrates the story as she and four other interns struggle to make it at one of the nations leading hospitals. Episode plots always contain some type of sexual twist between the interns, doctors, patients etc. and are infused with some sort of ironic humor.
At first glance the cast seems to be very diverse and consist of a good cross section of society and actual hospital life. Yet as I was preparing a character list some all to familiar sterotypes jumped out at me.
Character List:
1. Meridith Grey~ white female intern/ main character/narrator
2. Derek Sheperd~ aka "Dr. McDreamie" white male neurosurgen/ main character
3. George O'Mally~ white male intern/main character/nerdy guy
4. Isobel Stephens~ white female intern/main character/worked as a lingere model to pay for med school
5. Christina Yang~ Asian female intern/supporting character/ very intelligent but no people skills
6. Alex Karev~ white male/supporting character/ cockey jock who wants to be a plastic surgon
7. Marinda Baily~ black female/supporting character/overbearing and mean, immediate boss to interns
8. Richard Webber~ black male/supporting character/Chief of Surgery/wise
9. Preston Burke~ black male/supporting character/well known surgon

Analysis:
All of the main characters are white, two being female and two being male, while the rest of the characters all play a supporting role to the drama. Story lines and action centers around these four characters while the other characters develop the story or play a more major role depending on the episode. Meridith Grey is the young, vounerable doctor who is thrust in to this fast-paced enviorment, both Dr. Shepard (her boss) and Dr. George O'Mally (fellow intern) have a crush on her, due in no small part to her perceved vouneriablity. There is the impression she needs someone to take care of or watch out for her.
Dr. Baily plays the very sterotypical, loud-mouthed, pushy, black woman as she dominears over the interns and is constantly snapping at them to preform to her expectations. We don't really know much about Dr. Baily's character andthe viewer gets the distinct impression that is the way she wants it. Dr. Christina Yang (intern) plays the role of the smart overachiving asian in the show. She is very intelligent yet, she has little or no bedside manner and her lack of people skills often impact the type of care she gives.
Dr. Richard Webber and Dr. Preston Burke both of whom are black surgons play a relatively minor role, Dr. Webber holds the highest position in the show as chief of surgery but he is primarily show as the wise, mentor type who all the doctors go to for advice. Dr. Alex Karev plays the sterotypical white male jock type (think Stifler from American Pie) obnoxious and sometimes rude he is used to getting what he wants and expects it.

Coding:

Level One: Reality
Appearance and dress in this show are relatively similar because of the setting, all the doctors are in hospital scrubs, sometimes the more senior doctors (Dr. Sheperd, Dr. Burke and Dr. Webber) can be seen wearing long, white medical jackets while the interns primarily wear scrubs. Make-up is done very lightly on all characters, they are supposed to look a little worn down and overworked, yet still attractive :).
Level Two: Representation
The four main characters get the most lines and close up camera shots compaired to their counterparts in the hospital. Meridith would definately get the most air time as she also narrates the story even when she is not directly in the scence. Lighting is pretty sterile due to the fact htat the story is primarily set in a hospital enviorment. Yet during dialogue between Dr. Grey and Dr. Sheparhthe lighting softens and the background often fades out, giving the viewer the impression that the hectic hostpital has some how slowed down in order to let the interact.
Music plays a large part of the show the soft rythmic feel of the music contrasts the busy feel of a hospital music has been featured from such artists as Get So and Go, The Ditty Bops and Tegan and Sarah.
Level Three: Ideology
There were not any plot lines that delt directly with race or class, yet due to the other two levels discussed it plays a very pivitol underlying role in the story. Dr. Isobel Stephens character is uptight and works extreamly hard. She feels she has to prove herself to the other residant doctors because she grew up in a trailor park and waited tables and modeled lingere to get through college. In contrast Dr. Grey's mother was already a well established surgon and Dr. Grey gets more respect from the other surgons. There is an interacial relationship between Dr. Burke and Dr. Yang yet it seems that this is destined for falilure due to their cultural differences.
~ Arielle Eaton

How race and gender impact Amber Alert's

Amber Alert Backgrounder:
On January 13, 1993 9-year-old Amber Haggman was abducted from her neighborhood while riding her bicycle my an unidentified man. Local news and media took hold of the story and broadcast it to mass audiencesin the hopes of Ambers safe return. Four days later Amber was found dead ner her Arlington home and her abductor has never been caught. Since Amber's story several states have voluntarily developled programs aimed at harnising the media's power and quickly brodcasting information in order to find missing children.

Summary:
My findings actually suprised me in several ways, hispanic females were the most reported missing in the last year through the Texas Amber Alert system. Males were the least reported and their missing cases were mostly through family abduction or a runnaway.

Previous Study:
A study I was able to find within the text which seemed to have some correlation to the racial and gender depictions within the media was table 11.1 Lifestyle, Race and Age by Year. This study examines how different races and genders are depicted in advertising over the last twenty years. The study found depictions were overwhelmingly white and often male.

Corpus:
Through the National Center for missing and exploited children I searched for all the children reported missing through the Amber Alert system from May 1997- May 1998, and also May 2005- May2006 in the state of Texas. You can then pull up a listing of their missing posters and demographic information. I categorized these children according to both gender and race in order to determine the spread.

Findings:
Within the last year a total of 47 children were reported missing through the Amber Alert system in the state of Texas. Of those 47 children 10 were males and 37 were female. There were 12 white, 11 black, 22 Hispanic and 2 asian. During the 1997-1998 year 6 children were reported missing using the Amber Alert system,
5 were female and 1 was male. There were 3 white, 1 black, 1 hispanic and 1 other. Also, I did not keep exact numbers but 10 years ago all the children reported through the Amber system were missing or kidnaped and by the 2005-2006 year a large majority of the children reported were endangered runaways.

Conclusions:
It seems that Amber Alerts have become more common in society and that there is deffinately a difference in the racial spread of children reported using the system. Yet the relatively few males represented is troubling. There seems to be a lingering "macho male" sterotype working agianst missing boys. Boys it seems are conditioned to be more independant and macho verses their female counterparts. I wonder if this leads to missing boys being under reported or just not as acknowldeged by the Amber Alert program.

~Arielle Eaton

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Fox Sports Network aired a program entitled "Beyond the Glory Sex in Sports". I thought it was particularly intresting because they talked about the dicotomy that exists with women in sports. Women's sports from a financial standpoint gross less revenue verses mens. Thus some women athletes feel they have to give that extra "push" to gain recognicion for themselves as well as their sport. What often happens then is that women pose for magazines such as Sports Illistrated and FHM.
The female athleates felt much more pressure was put on them for what they were doing outside of their sports(such as who they were dating etc.) than their male counterparts. Several athleates and sports commentators explored the difficulty of sex particularly in regards to women in sports. In a way it put their names out there in the public eye, but then it also caused them to loose som credibility in the process.
~ Arielle Eaton

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What about personal responsibility?
I guess I am beginning to notice a viscious cycle occuring in the media as well as advertising. As we discussed in class people should think of themselves as humans verses consumers. Yet some people alluded to the idea that "the media made me do it" in class. Such as oversexualized teens, objectifying women and continuing stereotypes. Where did the accountiability go? This is the very reason that there should be more of a focus on media literacy with children and adults combined. The media doesn't MAKE anyone do anything, it is however a proponent of behaviors and activities. After all, the media is always selling something.
People it seems need to let themselves be aware of the effect media has and then actually be a "person" not a machine and make informed decisions baised on that.

~ Arielle Eaton

Saturday, May 20, 2006

How low can we go?
Music and sex have been inextricably linked; Elvis and his now infamous "hip swivel" are the first thing that comes to mind. Parents, at the time, were shocked at the images coming out of their tv's on the Ed Sullivan show. Not soon after the Beatles emerged a shaggy-haired boy band from Englend who all the girls swooned after.
Now days much hasn't changed, parents still get upset about the amout of sex seen by their children in music videos and on television as a whole. The only difference is that the pop stars of today have continually upped the sexual/exposure antie and are intent on following this trend in order to achive more fame or notoriety.
The discussion in chapter three regarding how sex generates sales and helps music stars attain an indentity raises certian questions for me, it seems as if the roots of this issue stem from the days when televsision first became a household item. As we have also discussed in class, during the 40's and 50's American society was particularly focused on fufilling gender roles and relied heavily on sterotypes. As music became more of a part of television with shows such as American Band Stand and the Ed Sullivan show, these same sterotypes were being represented with a more edgy (sexual) twist.
Could this be a reason why cable as a whole emerged and in particular channels such as MTV etc. ? It would seem such programming ws more geared towards a nitch audience particullary teens, and in the days before cable such contriversial characters were likely to not satisfy a mass audience.
~Arielle Eaton

Thursday, May 18, 2006

media sensitivity to a point...
I class we have been discussing various aspects of gender, sexual orientation and bias as represented in the media, and just to play a little devil's advocate is there a point where we go too far? While the media should most definately be sensitive to these aspects, it also seems as if we could easily become so wrapped up in the language or diction used we loose some of the unique personal aspects of a writer.
The media is a unique industry, it has great power over people's day to day lives and yet has the enormous responsibility of policeing its' self to a large degree. Journalist's are supposed to be autonomous beings who see and report the news with no preconcived ideas or beliefs. Yes, I see how this is the primary duty of a reporter, and how it should be up to the public to create their own opinions baised on the information.
Yet, are reporters not more than that? Running around mechanicanically relaying information in such a homoginized "pc" enviorment that their hands are tied. Should reporting not also strike emotion with its' readers, jolt thiem into action or spark debate over issues or injustices?
~ Arielle Eaton

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I found it ironic that after our class discussion over consumerism and media impact, I found myself in the optometrist's office reading a copy of US News entitled "Spending Spree". The article details the changes in the Chinese economy and the spending habits of the new tech savvy genenration. According to the research conducted, marketers estimate that China's youth will become the most powerful consumer force the the world within the next 20 years. Basically, the article discusses how young "Chuppuies", Chinease yuppies, are becoming the new nich market for western brands due to a multitued of factors, such as more economic stability and a rise in western commercialism. "Chinese consuption is estimated to increase by 18 percent a year over the next decade, comparied with just two percent in the United States.
In class we covered the impact on commercialism in the United States, yet the issue of "western" culture and advertising effect the entire world. Zigrone's philosopy of a "simplex" seems very plausable in the context of the world as a global village and the impact mass media forms have on it. This begs the question of what constitutes mass media, and who dictates the ideas of the masses? Is all media/advertising geared soley for the purpose of selling and idea, and how does this impact other cultures who may be encountering it for the first time.
Article Link: http://www.usnews.com/usnews/biztech/articles/060501/1global.html

Arielle Eaton
5/16