Media and Cultural Analysis


Media and Cultural Analysis, Spring 2018

Browse Exhibits (9 total)

A Closer Look Into Barbie's World


Welcome to Barbie's World! She’s skinny, Caucasian, and blonde—an icon of femininity to generations of American girls. In this exhibit, we want to take the audience on a visual history of Barbie, from her first release in 1959 to the present day. Barbie is a clear representation of the culture of each decade she is a part of, whether that be through her representation of social movements, beauty standards, or gender roles. Our goal is to exemplify how culturally relevant Barbie is throughout the years and the way that she represents the major tensions of each era.



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African-American Artist's early Contribution to Rock n Roll


Rock and Roll is noted as one of the most controversial music genres in history, sending shockwaves across America. Rock and roll gave the world Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and many others who have gone down as the greatest artists of all time. However, rock and roll is heavily influenced by black music of the 50's, like blues, gospel, jazz, and boogie woogie. Some of the most popular rock songs of the 50s and 60s were written and originally performed by black artists, but, because they received little credit or compensation, we often hear only familiar white covers. All musicians are influenced by other musicians, but throughout music history most musicians worth hearing were influenced by musicians who had a different skin color than them. 

Through this exhibit, we hope to illuminate the vital and revolutionary contributions to the music world, specifically for rock and roll in the 50s and 60s, by black artists who have often gone unheard of and uncredited. We hope that by highlighting the contributions of these black musicians, that we can share the education of Rock and Roll's lineage further than Rock and Roll enthusiasts and music historians, ultimately reaching the common public. 


Controversial advertising

Through the years, what is deemed ‘okay’ to put on advertisements has changed drastically. From print magazines to billboards to commercials, advertisements are all around us. On average a person is exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ads in one single day (Marshall), so it’s not a surprise that some of them are too much for the public eye. While there are many regulations in place to what can be published/broadcasted/ect. Sometimes an ad that may be “offensive” or “a little too risque” slips through the cracks. “The harm lies in persuasive techniques advertisers use to influence our children”. Over the last few decades with social media and technology taking over our lives more and more content slips into the view of our young ones, “digital media allows companies more directly than traditional media.”



Disney Princesses: Then and Now

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Looking at the transformations of the first five Disney princesses over time allows us to see the changing social dynamics that revolve around the newer versions and where they came from. As society changes over time, and as new media is introduced, consumer tastes also change and the market adapts in order to supply the demand. In our counter-archive, we analyze the influence of the Disney princesses and how they have been transformed and referenced to over the years, allowing people to recognize the stories later on within the bigger main archive of popular movies. 

Hollywood's Reality



Men have dominated positions of power for a very long time, and for as long as men have had this power, they have abused it. They held this power over women, allowing them to abuse women as they pleased. But that time is (very slowly) starting to come to a close, with women gaining power and fighting back for their equality. We can see this expressed in the #metoo movement, with women standing up against men who have physically, emotionally, and sexually abused them. We have chosen to archive men who have been accused, are currently in trial, or have been convicted because of women's courage and bravery in speaking up. With this we hope to empower women and make sure that these men's successes came at extremely high costs: women's safety, wellbeing, and careers.


The American Way: Minority Life from 1935 to 1943

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This archive serves as a collection of photographs depicting minority figures taken by the Farm and Security Administration from 1935 to 1943 across the United States and Puerto Rico (Melville 11). Proclaimed as “the best known pictorial record of American life in the 1930s and early 1940s”, this archive counters the traditional pictorial narrative of the Great Depression by exploring the state of individuals outside of the typical white, male characters dominant in media coverage of this time (Melville 11).

We Built This House: Women In Tenements


The idea of tenement buildings started in New York. They were described as a shoddily constructed building in the early 20th century that were “nurseries of pauperism and crime” (Riis). Over the years, waves of immigrants have made their roots in America by first experiencing crowded tenement living. Tenement history is often told through the scope of the countless health violations, danger, and poverty that existed amidst its crowded rooms. However, there are more sides of tenement history to be told. 

This exhibit will expose the multifaceted lives of those, especially women, living in tenement housing in the late 1800s-early 1900s. It will specifically follow the life of a Puerto Rican immigrant mother from 1950-1980 as her journey helps reveal the integral role women played in the tenements. It will explore their roles as a mother, a worker, and a Puerto Rican-American. We hope to provide a different narrative to the telling of New York tenement history. 

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Women In Film: A Crew never Credited

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The motion pictures industry is a multi-billion dollar market that has been at the forefront of entertainment and innovation since its inception. A well-made movie has the ability to captivate its audience and evoke any emotion. Creating a movie is an incredibly laborious and lengthy process that requires the help of many behind-the-scenes workers. These workers rarely receive any of the fame but are undoubtedly pivotal to the foundations of what has allowed the motion pictures industry to become what it has become. Within these foundations, however, is an intrinsic sexism that has spanned across the whole of the industry's existence. Women in film are continually neglected and underappreciated for their accomplishments due to the social normative of culture. This is where we wish to intervene. We have categorized a list of 40 different women into 5 different categories. Directors, producers, writers, animators, and editors. A series of professions that take place behind that camera. Each of this profession has their own respective visionaries, your Spielberg's, Feige’s, Miyazaki’s, and your Sorkin’s. However, women are more often than not, forgotten amongst these list of greats. Their work has never received the recognition it deserves. We have chosen to omit certain professions such as cinematographers or costume designers because the women in these fields are either too great in numbers to pick from or too few. There are many unsung heroes in this industry. Behind every editor, there are entire companies dedicated to the art of post-production, and behind every director, there are hundreds of members on set decided to bring their vision to life. We are unable to give praise to every member that takes part in this process. What we can do is highlight the work of a few good women in hope that it will shine a light on their work and hopefully bring more names to the forefront.

We chose to leave out people in front of the camera such as leading and supporting actresses because while they to are inhibited in their own ways, they receive more gratification and fame than those behind the camera. We wanted to show appreciation for the women who create these movies that actresses can be apart of. The purpose of this archive is to show the how institutionalized sexism is in the entertainment industry. We are aware of the sexism actresses face in front of the camera whether it be unequal pay or overt sexual harassment. This archive wishes to show how something as simple as credit and recognition of one's work is a something that women are incapable of achieving in the film industry. Hopefully, others can use this archive to inspire their own searches for sexism in other industries or to further ivestigate this deep-rooted issue in film.

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Women in the United States Fashion Industry


Fashion publication companies started releasing magazines in response to shifting views of the role of women in society. They used models in order to depict to the consumers how they themselves should look and feel. Using these models, the companies claim to represent the masses idea of beauty and at the same times time help shape society’s idea of beauty and most popular standards, the “ideal standard”(Gershon). Particularly in the United States, there has been heavy representation of beauty equating to specific features such as thin waist, small nose, and light skin. As the United States is home to people of different cultures, backgrounds, and body types, this archive takes a look at the minoritive groups depicted in mainstream fashion publication companies in the United States, from the 1970’s to present day.

Primarily focusing on the top five publications in the United States--Vogue, Elle, Glamour, Marie Claire, and Harpers Bazaar-- and how they choose to represent their ideas of beauty and therefore influence the minds of a diverse fashion world, we chose to look at the archival material of the mentioned publications as well as documentary from major historical events in the United States that influenced the role and image of the "everyday" American woman. This will allow us to explore how they represent the array of women living in the United States and have managed to either embrace or discourage certain types of beauty.


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