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    Shonda Rhimes and social criticism

    Shonda Rhimes, the creator of "Grey’s Anatomy," "Scandal," and, most recently, "How to Get Away with Murder," makes a point of including characters of diverse races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations, and is well-known for her portrayal of strong women. However, her portrayals are not without controversy. She is often accused of portraying women and minorities in powerful positions without addressing the trials and tribulations it took for them to get there. Does this do an injustice to her characters as a form of white-washing history, or is it progressive that she portrays minority characters without making their race, sexual orientation, etc. their defining character trait?

    This topic is especially timely for two reasons. First of all, Patrick Dempsey, the male lead of Grey’s Anatomy, recently left the show; it will now focus on Meredith Grey and her experiences as a single mother of two and successful surgeon. Audiences will likely be interested to see how Rhimes handles the topic of single motherhood. Second of all, Viola Davis recently received an Emmy for her portrayal of Dr. Keating in "How to Get Away With Murder," making her the first African American woman to receive an Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama.

    • You make excellent points and it is a great topic due to the popularity of Shonda's shows. On one hand, I want to say yes, it is white-washing history; yet why should there be explanations as to why people of color are successful? We never have that expectation when viewing successful white people on television. You raise interesting, relevant issues pertinent to society and I think this will make for a polarizing topic--the best kind. Even the fact that Viola Davis was the first African American woman to win an Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama is pathetic in a society that prides it's "diversity." The way in which Shonda handles minority characters is in a respectful, real, contemporary manner. Her shows revolve around characters, not their social identities, something I hope to see more of on television, and film. – danielle577 9 years ago
    • I think that a lot of people have opinions about this subject, which is a good reason, but not the only reason to write about it. Discussions of how gender ideologies, race, and other aspects of our culture are portrayed in the media (specifically in television) are important for furthering our development as a society. – Morgan R. Muller 9 years ago
    • Rhimes isn't really "creator" of "How To Get Away With Murder," though, she's a producer but neither writer or director (Peter Nowalk is the creator). It would be important to include a discussion of how her influence over a series varies by her role in that series. – ashleybrooke 9 years ago

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    Latest Comments

    Great piece! I especially like tip #8…I do that all the time. Even just journaling can be helpful; you never know when you’ll write a really beautiful turn-of-phrase to be used later . Another thing that’s super helpful is looking to established writers for inspiration. A lot of times, if I have a message I want to communicate and don’t know how to do so, I read a passage from a book with a similar theme and see what devices that writer used. Obviously, you don’t want to use an identical strategy, but it can give you some good ideas about relevant imagery, structure, symbols, etc.

    Attention Writers: The Myth of Writer's Block

    Solid piece. It’s a nice intro to the Beats and also very well-structured and organized. I do have a few challenges for your thesis, however. Was the goal of the beats to create an ideal society, or did the Beats aim for total disengagement? Ginsberg and Kerouac alike describe individuals so disillusioned with the state of the world that they retreat into the emptiness of drugs and casual sex. You point out this theme in “Desolation Angels,” but it is also present in more subtle ways in “Howl” and “On the Road.”

    Furthermore, “On the Road” is, arguably, the most popular piece of Beat literature today. I think it’s interesting that you point out that Kerouac was, in fact, the most conservative of the Beats. As I mentioned earlier, I also view “On the Road” as more of a lamentation over lost youth rather than a celebration of 1960s hippie ideals. I think this has real implications for how we view the true impact of the Beats on modern culture. Does our obsession with the somewhat cynical “On the Road” imply that we are more captivated by the Beat aesthetic than any real interest in peace, free love and all that jazz? Or, on a deeper level, does it represent the appeal of retreating into sex, drugs and rock n roll when we are politically and socially disillusioned?

    Just some things to think about. You describe the main impact of the Beats as encouraging people to push boundaries in an idealistic manner, but I think some of the cynicism in Kerouac’s work complicates that.

    Lastly, I know this is picky, but I wouldn’t equate Henry James and Marcel Proust. Proust is hardly formalistic — he pioneered stream-of-consciousness long before Kerouac did, and also tackled the topic of the dissillusionment of youth long before Kerouac.

    Does The Beat Generation Still Matter?

    Nice work! As a feminist, I’ve always felt ambivalent about Jane Eyre; her spirited childhood seems so at odds with her retirement to conventionality at the end of the novel, and especially with her unwillingness to marry Rochester so long as Bertha Mason is alive.

    I think your information about the ideology of “bad feminism” could use a little bit more elaboration. Gay argues that she is flawed, BUT is still a feminist — but is it possible that Jane is a feminist not in spite of those flaws, but BECAUSE of those flaws? Is feminism not about the right to be a wholly flawed individual without it reflecting poorly on womankind as a whole? Is it not about the right to exercise traits traditionally viewed as “feminine” proudly (i.e. romance, passion, maternal feelings), because feminine traits are not inferior? I think you have the opportunity to complicate your ideas about feminism a little bit.

    Also worth pointing out is that for many decades, Jane was viewed not as a “bad feminist” but rather, TOO feministic. Even Virginia Woolf, feminist and early LBGTQIA activist, thought that Jane was dour and “too angry for her own good” (or so she wrote in “A Room of One’s Own”). You touch on these ideas a little bit, and I realize that the development of feminist ideals is not the point of your article, but it might be interesting to expand upon how feminist views on Jane Eyre have evolved over the years.

    Analyzing Jane Eyre as a Contemporary "Bad Feminist"