Monday, 19 December 2016

Ecofeminism in Mass Media Imagery

Reading Mass Media Imagery: Ecofeminism

It is normal practice to associate female imagery whenever mass media deals with Nature. The mass media is all about popular, shallow and superficial human psychology. It deals with what is popular and at superficial shallow level of memory. At this conscious level of memory, people readily accepts imagery which are floating at upper surface of memory. That is the reason why nature is so easily and conveniently associated with female. Without any question, it is readily accepted by the people of all cultures.

That is the reason that this political newspaper print advertisement gets accepted without any question.



Who will help us to critically examine this and similar mass-media imagery where female is equated with nature (and sometimes children too - the innocence of children is also exploited in similar manner in mass media imagery. Here both images are used)?
Well, let us quote Richard Kerridge at length to contextualize this hypothesis in proper theoretical framework.
"In 1974, an influential essay by Sherry B. Ortner, 'Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?', sought to explain, in terms of structuralist anthropology, the presence in diverse cultures of the idea that women were subordinate to men. The underlying idea, Ortner discovers, is that woman is closer to nature. (Buell, Lawrence, The Environmental Imagination). This helps to explain the acquiescence (agree to something passively: to agree or comply with something in a passive or reserved way) of women in their own subordination: they accept the general logic of human domination of nature.Beliefs that legitimate the oppression of women also legitimate environmental degradation. This is ecofeminism's key insight. Certain fundamental binary oppositions fit neatly over one another, creating the ideological basis for both sorts of harm:
Male     |    Female
Culture  |      Nature
Reason    |    Emotion
Mind    |     Body" 
(Kerridge)


Sherry Ortner concludes the essay with remarkable observation wherein she brings out the debate of Nature vs Culture equating it with Female vs Male:
"Ultimately, it must be stressed again that the whole scheme is a construct of culture rather than a fact of nature. Woman is not “in reality” any closer to (or further from) nature than man – both have consciousness, both are mortal. But there are certainly reasons why she appears that way, which is what I have tried to show in this paper. The result is a (sadly) efficient feedback system: various aspects of woman’s situation (physical, social, psychological) contribute to her being seen as closer to nature, while the view of her as closer to nature is in turn embodied in institutional forms that reproduce her situation. The implications for social change are similarly circular: a different cultural view can only grow out of a different social actuality; a different social actuality can only grow out of a different cultural view. It is clear, then, that the situation must be attacked from both sides. Efforts directed solely at changing the social institutions – through setting quotas on hiring, for example, or through passing equal-pay-for-equal-work laws – cannot have far-reaching effects if cultural language and imagery continue to purvey a relatively devalued view of women. But at the same time efforts directed solely at changing cultural assumptions – through male and female consciousness-raising groups, for example, or through revision of educational materials and mass-media imagery – cannot be successful unless the institutional base of the society is changed to support and reinforce the changed cultural view. Ultimately, both men and women can and must be equally involved in projects of creativity and transcendence. Only then will women be seen as aligned with culture, in culture’s ongoing dialectic with nature."
In short, we must be absolutely clear about what we are trying to explain before explaining it. We may differentiate three levels of the problem:
1. The universal fact of culturally attributed second-class status of woman in every society. Two questions are important here. First, what do we mean by this; what is our evidence that this is a universal fact? And second, how are we to explain this fact, once having established it?
2. Specific ideologies, symbolizations, and social-structural arrangements pertaining to women that vary widely from culture to culture. The problem at this level is to account for any particular cultural complex in terms of factors specific to that group-the standard level of anthropological analysis.
3. Observable on-the-ground details of women’s activities, contributions, powers, influence, etc., often at variance with cultural ideology (although always constrained within the assumption that women may never be officially preeminent in the total system). This is the level of direct observation, often adopted now by feminist-oriented anthropologists.
Three types of data would suffice: (1) elements of cultural ideology and informants’ statements that explicitly devalue women, according them, their roles, their tasks, their products, and their social milieux less prestige than are accorded men and the male correlates; (2) symbolic devices, such as the attribution of defilement, which may be interpreted as implicitly making a statement of inferior valuation; and (3) social-structural arrangements that exclude women from participation in or contact with some realm in which the highest powers of the society are felt to reside.2 These three types of data may all of course be interrelated.
It all begins of course with the body and the natural procreative functions specific to women alone. We can sort out for discussion three levels at which this absolute physiological fact has significance: (1) woman’s body and its functions, more involved more of the time with “species life,” seem to place her closer to nature, in contrast to man’s physiology, which frees him more completely to take up the projects of culture; (2) woman’s body and its functions place her in social roles that in turn are considered to be at a lower order of the cultural process than man’s; and (3) woman’s traditional social roles, imposed because of her body and its functions, in turn give her a different psychic structure, which, like her physiological nature and her social roles, is seen as being closer to nature.
Kolodny's The Lady of the Land examines the way in which colonial nature writers in the USA represented the land as female. Louise Westling's The Green Breast of the New World (1996) extends this analysis to twentieth-century novels. 
Some may argue that the use of female imagery in this ad along with female Chief Ministe of the state (West Bengal) Mamta Banerjee is to display female as source of strength and power.
Some ecofeminists also argue that the identification of women with nature should now be seen as a source of strength. But this sounds double trap for women. Thus, Janet Biehl Finding Our Way: Rethinking Ecofeminist Politics (1991) and others are wary of any strategy that, by accepting women as essentially less estranged from nature than men, and problematizing rationality too prohibitively, risks leading women back into the old cultural spaces.
Isn't it time for our ad makers to awaken their gender conspicuousness or read more into the theories of gender studies to sensitize their creative genius?
The Ministry of HUman Resource and Development which heads higher education institution in India, comes up with various schemes to sensitize students towards gender issues. But the fact remains that our political leaders are still not aware about new though and concepts regarding gender issues. Our creative geniuses in mass-media caters what is popularly consumed by mass.

More ever, what is interesting is to see the way she comes to this conclusion. We may agree or disagree with the conclusion but the process of questioning in the essay demands attentions.
The essay is subdivided in parts with sustained argument on nature as female and culture as male.
She proves Universality of female subordination with the help of these three points:
In Nature and Culture, she argues that universal devaluation of women can be explained on terms of biological / genetic determinism.

She furthers her questioning by asking: Why Is Woman Seen as Closer to Nature?
In her own words:
The discussion on following arguments is based on universal human and cultural values:
1) Woman’s physiology seen as closer to nature.
2) Woman’s social role seen as closer to nature.
3) Woman’s psyche seen as closer to nature. 
One must read an essay for detailed discussion on these arguments. Click here to read the essay.
This essay / paper provides significant insights into reading such mass-media imagery.

Feminist environmental justice campaigners, such as Vandana Shiva, points out also that women and children are disproportionately vulnerable to environmental hazards. This particular ad makes use of both mother and child.

Kolodny's The Lay of the Land examines the way in which colonial nature writers in the USA represented the land as female. () Louise Westling's The Green Breast of the New World (1996) extends this analysis to twentieth-century novels. () (Kerridge) 

Some may argue that the use of female imagery in this ad along with female Chief Ministe of the state (West Bengal) Mamta Banerjee is to display female as source of strength and power.

Some ecofeminists also argue that the identification of women with nature should now be seen as a source of strength. But this sounds double trap for women. Thus, Janet Biehl in Finding Our Way: Rethinking Ecofeminist Politics (1991) and others are wary of any strategy that, by accepting women as essentially less estranged from nature than men, and problematizing rationality too prohibitively, risks leading women back into the old cultural spaces. (Biehl)

Isn't it time for our ad makers to awaken their gender conspicuousness or read more into the theories of gender studies to sensitize their creative genius?

The Ministry of Human Resource and Development which heads higher education institution in India, comes up with various schemes to sensitize students towards gender issues. But the fact remains that our political leaders are still not aware about new though and concepts regarding gender issues. Our creative geniuses in mass-media caters what is popularly consumed by mass.


Works Cited

Biehl, Janet. Finding Our Way: Rethinking Ecofeminist Politics. Montreal: Black Rose Books, 991.
Buell, Lawrence. The Environmental Imagination. Cambridge, Mass. and London: Harvard University Press, 1955.
Danone. "Vandana Shiva: an ecofeminist environmental activist." n.d. http://downtoearth.danone.com/. Danone.com. Web. 12 Dec. 2016. <http://downtoearth.danone.com/2013/07/19/vandana-shiva-an-ecofeminist-environmental-activist/>.
Kerridge, Richard. "Environment and Ecocriticism." Literary Theory and Criticism. Ed. Patricia Waugh. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007. 530-543.
Kolodny, Annette. The Lay of the Land: Metaphor as Experience and History in American Life and Letters. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975.
Ortner, Sherry B. "Is female to male as nature is to culture?" Woman, culture, and society. Ed. M. Z. Rosaldo and L. Lamphere. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1974. 68-87. Web. 12 Dec. 2016. <https://www.uio.no/studier/emner/sv/sai/SOSANT1600/v12/Ortner_Is_female_to_male.pdf>.
Westling, Louise. The Green Breast of the New World : Landscape, Gender, and American Fiction. University of Georgia Press, 1996.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Snooker

Learning #snooker at Sir Bhavsinhji Tennis Club, Bhavnagar

Apart from Snooker, also tried these features of Google Plus Photo editing tools. This vidoe and the collage of image is created on Google Plus Photo App. Withing no time, one can create, add background music and upload video on YouTube.



Saturday, 5 November 2016

Friday, 4 November 2016

Harry Potter Film Series: Mini Reviews

Mini Reviews of Harry Potter Film Series

1) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Two posters, one with photographs and the other hand-drawn, both depicting a young boy with glasses, an old man with glasses, a young girl holding books, a redheaded boy, and a large bearded man in front of a castle, with an owl flying. The left poster also features an adult man, an old woman, and a train, with the titles being "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone". The right poster has a long-nosed goblin and blowtorches, with the title "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone".
Link
 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (released in some countries as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) is a 2001 British-American fantasy film directed by Chris Columbus and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. The film, the first instalment in the Harry Potter film series, was written by Steve Kloves and produced by David Heyman. The story follows Harry Potter's first year at Hogwarts as he discovers that he is a famous wizard and begins his magical education. (Wikipedia).



Mini Review: 

In a 2000 interview with the BBC, J.K. Rowling described Lord Voldemortas a self-hating #bully:"Well I think it is often the case that the biggest bullies take what they know to be their own defects, as they see it, and they put them right on someone else and then they try and destroy the other and that's what Voldemort does."

2) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets movie.jpg
By Source, Fair use, Link

 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a 2002 British-American fantasy film directed by Chris Columbus and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. The film, which is the second instalment in the Harry Potter film series, was written by Steve Kloves and produced by David Heyman. The story follows Harry Potter's second year at Hogwarts as the Heir of Salazar Slytherin opens the Chamber of Secrets, unleashing a monster that petrifies the school's denizens. (Wikipedia)

Mini Review:

#ChildrensLiterature is accused of being replete withh racim,xenophobia and conventional cultural overtones. J.K. Rowling plays safe and thus portrays her protagonists belonging to lowly births (Harry Potter is #HalfBloodHarmione is #MudBlood) and villains and side-kicks wither of #PureBlood or shown craving for world order based on the #MasterRace(The master race was a concept in Nazi ideology in which the Nordic race—a branch of what in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century taxonomy was called the Aryan race—represented an ideal and pure race.

3) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a 2004 British fantasy filmdirected by Alfonso Cuarón and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. The film, which is the third instalment in the Harry Potter film series, was written by Steve Kloves and produced by Chris Columbus (director of the first two instalments), David Heyman, and Mark Radcliffe. The story follows Harry Potter's third year at Hogwarts as he is informed that a prisoner named Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban intending to kill him. (Wikipedia)

Mini Review:

If this film has @JKRowling's didacticism ("#Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light" . . . And . . . "It is only we who can help us, there is nothing/nobody outside of this world who can help us") at its best, at the same time, it is darker than earlier films. Even @HarryPotter's dark side, first time, is visible: "I hope Sirius Black finds me, when he does, I am going to kill him".
Well, it's fine to show the struggle between the good and and the evil. It works in children's literature. In 'real' literature , the struggle is Not with evil power but with the power which turns the victim into evil.

4) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a 2005 British fantasy filmdirected by Mike Newell and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.[2] It is based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. The film, which is the fourth instalment in the Harry Potter film series, was written by Steve Kloves and produced by David Heyman. The story follows Harry Potter's fourth year at Hogwarts as he is chosen by the Goblet of Fire to compete in the Triwizard Tournament. (Wikipedia)

Mini Review:

In Harry Potter series, Lord Voldemort and his followers are prejudiced against #Muggles and in 'Goblet of Fire' Hermione Granger forms a group to liberate Hogwarts' house-elves who have "been indentured servants so long they lack desire for anything else". 
When asked why she explored this theme, Rowling replied, "Because bigotry is probably the thing I detest most. All forms of intolerance, the whole idea of that which is different from me is necessarily evil. I really like to explore the idea that difference is equal and good."
Bigot = somebody with strong opinions, especially on politics, religion, or ethnicity, who refuses to accept different views.

5) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a 2007 British fantasy filmdirected by David Yates and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. The film, which is the fifth instalment in the Harry Potter film series, was written by Michael Goldenberg (making this the only film in the series not to be scripted by Steve Kloves) and produced by David Heyman and David Barron. The story follows Harry Potter's fifth year at Hogwarts as the Ministry of Magic is in denial of Lord Voldemort's return.(Wikipedia)

Mini Review:

Dolores Umbridge is newly appointed Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, as a part of larger schema - from the corrupt Ministry of Magic. She comes up with new rules to 'prohibit' demonstrations and teach theoretically only. New syllabus, new books are introduced. She implements medieval discipline and punishment. The students resist. She considers resistance as disloyalty. Harry Potter openly speaks up the truth. He is forced to write on his hand that "I must not tell lies".
How interesting! Unbelievable parallels!
"There is, in fact, no need to drag politics into literary theory . . . it has been there from the beginning" ― Terry Eagleton, Literary theory: An Introduction.

6) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a 2009 British-American fantasy film directed by David Yates and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. The film, which is the sixth instalment in the Harry Potter film series, was written by Steve Kloves and produced by David Heyman and David Barron. The story follows Harry Potter's sixth year at Hogwarts as he becomes obsessed with a mysterious textbook, falls in love, and attempts to retrieve a memory that holds the key to Lord Voldemort's downfall. (Wikipedia)

Mini Review:

#Memory is tempered. It is tempered by the person whose memory it is.
But why would he temper his memory?
I suspect he's ashamed of it.
This memory is everything. Without it we are blind. Without it, we leave the fate of our world to chance. (Dialogue between Prof. Albus Dumbledoreand Harry Potter.)

7) 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 is a 2010 British-American fantasy film directed by David Yates and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is the first of two cinematic parts based on the novel by J. K. Rowling. The film, which is the seventh and penultimate instalment in the Harry Potter film series, was written by Steve Kloves and produced by David HeymanDavid Barron, and Rowling. (Wikipedia)

Mini Review:

As soon as the new ministry of Magic (under the influence of Lord Voldemort) takes charge, they start persecuting #MudBloods. 'Mudbloods and the Dangers They Pose to a Peaceful Pure-Blood Society' is a pamphlet that was printed and distributed enmasse and contained propaganda against Muggle-borns, disparagingly referred to as "Mudbloods". The pamphlets were pink, with the title in orange letters. Beneath the title was a picture of "a red rose with a simpering face in the middle of its petals, being strangled by a green weed with fangs and a scowl". Evidently, this was the metaphor the Death Eater-controlled Ministry wanted to make regarding Muggle-borns being allowed into the wizarding world, which they believed should be reserved for pure-bloods. Presumably, the pamphlet also perpetrated the bigoted belief that Muggle-borns are inferior to those with wizarding heritage.

8) 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

A girl and two boys, standing outside of a building with high turrets.
By Source, Fair use, Link
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is a 2011 British fantasy film directed by David Yates and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.[4] It is the second of two cinematic parts based on the novel Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling.[5] The film, which is the eighth and final installment in the Harry Potter film series, was written by Steve Klovesand produced by David HeymanDavid Barron, and Rowling. It is the sequel to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1. The story continues to follow Harry Potter's quest to find and destroy Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes in order to stop him once and for all.

Mini Review:

#SelfHelp culture of our days serves as a tool of social control: it sooths political unrest . . . one blames oneself for not getting better off is society and remains in one's own pursuit of self-invention, blaming oneself for the failure rather than the systems.
The Harry Potter saga approves of this cultural phenomenon of late 20th century which continues in our days. It ends with some cliche positive attitude lessons.
"Help will always be given to those who ask for it"
This is rephrased: "Help will always be give to those who deserve it" - making it more politically correct for majoritarianism.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day




The Remains of the Day is a 1993 drama film adapted by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala from the Man Booker Prize (Fiction-1989) novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. It was directed by James Ivory and produced by Ismail Merchant, Mike Nichols and John Calley. It starred Anthony Hopkins as Stevens and Emma Thompson as Miss Kenton with James Fox, Christopher Reeve, Hugh Grant and Ben Chaplin.

The protagonist is butler Stevens who narrates the story in first person. At the superficial level, the narration is about 'too much of dedication' for work at the loss of personal relations (Butler prioritizes his work against dying father and fails to reciprocate the love for which he longs in old age). The layered narration can be read as postcolonial narrative written by Japanese-English writer who narrates the readiness of servant class for subjugation to upper class and it is so internalized that even if the 'Master' changed to an American instead of an English man, the 'serventhood' of Stevens the Butler is unflinching. The last scene of the film shows a pigeon trapped in mansion. The window is opened and the new American Master flies away the bird and with it the camera flies sway in the clouds - showing us the large Mansion as a sort of cage, and it get tinier as camera flies higher - within which Stevens is 'happily' trapped / prisoned.


The other layer is much deeper. The background is that of 1930s - the beginning of WWII. It is significant to know how something we are so proud of at a given moment of time in history turns out to be something we are utterly ashamed of. The Nazi sympathizer rich elite British aristocrats are presented of whom the servant class was once very proud of but where ashamed of it in the verge of the unfolding of the events in history.

How symbolically Ishiguro signifies the entrapment of time and history! What so ever class one belongs to - the imprisonment of time and history is terrible. The remains of the 'time' is what remains with us to torment us and we have to live with it. There is no escape from the remains of the time.


Watch Full Movie here: