CategoryGender/Sexuality

“22 Jump Street” Lesson 1: Practice what you preach

22 JSWhen I heard there was going to be a sequel to “21 Jump Street,” I couldn’t wait for “22 Jump Street” to premier.  I remembered how “21 Jump Street” flipped the traditional mediated high school stereotypes of whack nerds and popular jocks, completely dismantling age old stereotypes, while creating new ones in the process. So when “22 Jump Street” debuted this past Friday, I was curious to see how Schmidt and Jenko’s college experience would unfold. Here’s what jumped out at me:

Addressing a homophobic culture seems to be at the forefront of “22 Jump Street’s” hidden agenda. Schmidt and Jenko’s interactions are sprinkled with homosexual puns, suggesting they are a couple in the closet, unknowingly exploring the gender spectrum. Also, Jenko is placed in a sexuality class where he discovers the gay slurs he used in high school are now socially unacceptable.

Jenko’s new found respect for the LGBT community even causes him to blow his cover when he overhears drug dealers using gay slurs. When Schmidt yells at Jenko for blowing his cover, Jenko defends himself by claiming if you don’t call people out on their offensive language when it happens, you cannot expect to stop discrimination.

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Not only is homosexuality brought up in Jenko’s sexuality class, but (as mentioned before) it is also jokingly suggested throughout the movie that Schmidt and Jenko are in a homosexual relationship with each other. One scene in the movie shows them speaking with a college counselor (who assumes they are a couple) about their “partnership” problems. The movie also shows a “break up” scene  between Schmidt and Jenko and how that breakup is resolved throughout the remainder of the film.

In today’s media, it is rare that you see a male homosexual couple. And in the case of “22 Jump Street,” the idea of Schmidt and Jenko being a homosexual couple has a comedic spin.

My question is, would “22 Jump Street” have been a successful movie if Schmidt and Jenko was a real homosexual couple? The fact that a fake homosexual couple was used to address the issue of homophobia shows that the media industry, specifically Hollywood, has a long way to go in attempting to normalize homosexuality.

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Overall, I thought the movie was hilarious. I appreciate its effort to remove the taboo of homosexuality from our society. But I caution you all to be aware of the homoeroticism that has creeped into our media. It is as if the idea of homosexuality is fanticized but not accepted in reality. What do I mean by this? I mean that Jonah Hill (Schmidt) can play a sexually ambiguous character in “Wolf on Wall Street” and “22 Jump Street” but off screen, tell the paparazzi (out of anger) to “suck my dick, you faggot.”

So what does romanticizing homosexuality tell people? It tells them that homosexuality is okay only if you are fanaticizing about it and don’t actually act on it. That’s a problem. But playfully underlining Schmidt and Jenko’s relationship with homosexual puns is okay for a society that isn’t quite ready to welcome homosexuality with open arms but is willing to toy with the idea, right?

 

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While watching the Oscars on Sunday night, I thought of the perfect blog topic when I saw a commercial for Sophia Vergara’s Rooms To Go collection. Immediately, I thought about the hypersexualization of Latinas in the media. I pointed this out to my best friend as we sat together on my futon watching the Oscars. She seemed slightly annoyed and began to explain how she thinks it’s unfair to criticize Vergara for showing off her curves and being presented as a sexy Latina.

“Women should have a right to be sexy if they want to and express their sexuality,” said my friend.

I told her I agreed, but my issue wasn’t that Vergara was presented as a sexy Latina in a short, tight dress with high heels, and literally grrr’ed to explain how she likes her furniture. My issue was the overused image of the sexy Latina; it is often the only representation of Latina women I see in the media.

Last semester I took a class called Latino/as in the Media. In class, we discussed the hypersexualization of Latinas and the affect it has on media audiences. For non-Latino/as whose only exposure to Latinas is media representations of this group, they may think that all Latina women are sexy and voluptuous. And what do these types of images do to Latina women who feel like they have to fulfill these stereotypes? Hypersexualized media images can affect their self-esteem, especially young Latinas, by confirming the old stereotype that woman’s main worth lies solely in her appearance.

Not only is the hypersexualized depiction of Latina women in the media, stereotypical, it also over-simplifies a diverse group of people. For example, Vergara mentioned in an interview that when she first started auditioning for American acting roles, they didn’t know where to put her because she was a blond Latina; directors were used to casting women that looked more Mexican. So it’s no surprise to me that she is now featured on Modern Family as a brunet. All Latinas are not brunet, Mexican, and sexy.

With all of this said, I think it is important to question the assumptions that are being made in the media when it comes to the roles minorities are casted in. With this commercial, it was assumed that because Latinas are sexy, a commercial that features a Latina should be sexy too. This was no coincidence. If we are going to be completely honest with ourselves, how often is it that you see sexy furniture commercials? Think about that for a moment, and while you do, I’ll be busy writing my next blog post. In the meantime, leave your comments below! I’d love to hear what you all have to say about this commercial!


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