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News of the Week: Cultural Thinness, Race, and Django Unchained


Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

News of the Week: Cultural Thinness, Race, and Django Unchained

Nickie Phillips

This is our latest installment of Dr. Demetra M. Pappas' "News of the Week" in which she uses short topics as a teaching tool to stimulate conversation in her sociology, anthropology, criminology and legal studies course.

  1. GENDER/FAT B****HES (AS OPPOSED TO OSCAR-WINNING ACTRESSES PHAT B****HES)/DEVIANCE/SOCIOLOGY OF MEDICINE/MEDIA/NON-MATERIAL CULTURE AND THE CULTURE OF THINNESS;  New York Observer film critic Rex Reed, reviewing the movie Identity Thief, called actress Melissa McCarthy “a female hippo” and “tractor sized” in an excoriating review of her work,  This has set off a storm in the Twittersphere and I note that McCarthy, who is Emmy nominated for her work in Mike and Molly a comedy about a fat couple) and Oscar nominated for her work in Bridesmaids is laughing all the way to the bank.  Question – would Reed have said these comments about a fat male actor (such as, say, John Goodman, of Roseanne fame, and this year’s Oscar nominated Argo)?  Note that the Hollywood community, ordinarily known for a culture of thinness, had attacked Rex and defended McCarthy.
  2. RACE/SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS/RELIGION:  Unless you have been in a cave and not at SFC AND not watching news or surfing the net or reading papers, you know that Pope Benedict is retiring (the first such retiree in approximately 700 years).  Among the candidates for the next Pope is Ghana native, Peter Cardinal Turkson, who is black.  On yesterday’s “Hot Topics” segment of The View, Whoppi Goldberg (who is African American, just in case you don’t know that already), asked “What about a black Pope? We have a black President…”  ( PS In today’s issue of The Daily News, Christine Roberts and Corky Siemasko note that the Cardinal was nearly arrested for being in the upstate seminary after hours (where he was working and cleaning, not to suggest racial profiling…).
  3. RACE/DRAMATURGY/MEDIA:  Why did Frank Rich, writing for New York Magazine, February 11, 2013, say (indeed, in the cover story), “How Django Unchained Renewed My Faith in America (and Other Notes on the Oscar Race)?

For more information on Dr. Pappas' pedagogical approach, see her article, "Creating an Antidote to Student Apathy: The News of the Week," in Teacher Scholar:  The Journal of the State Comprehensive University, Volume 3, Number 1 pp. 45-51.