COMM 411 Final Smore Project

By Ellen Taylor

The Feminine Mystique

After reading The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, I determined several conclusions concerning the ideas about women in the sixties. The pressure to be perfect in every area of their life drove them to the brick of emotional, physical, and mental collapse. Having a beautiful home and a picture-perfect family wasn’t enough for them; they wanted more. They wanted to be challenged and pushed, and to not feel the pressure to live up to the world’s standards at the time. I thought it was interesting that this “problem” that a vast majority of them were struggling with was never discussed. They hid behind their shame and confusion instead of seeking help and looking for answers.

Magazine Project

After selecting the year 1991, Myles Osborne and I decided to focus our project on the magazine, Essence. This magazine is targeted towards African-American women and seeks to empower them through the articles and stories that they present in the magazine. After analysis, I thought it was interesting that the most highlighted category we found was the Beauty section. I believe that this communicates the desire that all women have to look and feel beautiful, no matter the time period. Another category that I found interesting in this magazine was the Health and Fitness section. This section was hardly touched on at all throughout the year, but when they did, the articles focused on being happy and being apart of a community instead of how to lose weight. Overall, this project increased my awareness of what it was like to be a woman and what African-American women were being shown and marketed to.

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Music Project

For this project, I selected the song “Mom” by Garth Brooks to create my video. I enjoyed this project because it allowed me to reflect on my own relationship with my mom. This song highlights the importance of a mother-child relationship and how a mom is always there for their child and will fight for them constantly. My mom has always been a huge supporter of whatever I do, and she is the first to encourage me and even tell me when I am wrong. This project also taught me the importance of saying thank you to my mom for all that she had done for me and to seek to continue to make our relationship better.

Novel Project

I read The Honey Thief, written by Elizabeth Graver for this project. It occurs during the early 2000’s and follows the story of Miriam and her eleven-year-old daughter, Eva, after they move away from New York City to the quiet countryside in order to pursue a “normal, everyday life” after Eva had been caught shoplifting for the fourth time. This novel chronicles the relationship between Miriam and Eva. At the beginning of the novel, they have a very strained relationship. Eva is angry and frustrated with her mother and Miriam is terrified to tell Eva the truth about her father. After Eva befriends a beekeeper though, she begins to see her mom in a new light and slowly opens up. I enjoyed this novel because it illustrated the redemptive qualities that one friendship can have, that is with Eva and the beekeeper, and the power that comes with being open and honest with one another.

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Film Project

Although it is set in the time period of 1935, The Sound of Music was released during the year 1965. It takes place in Salzburg, Austria and follows the lives of the widower Captain von Trapp, his seven children, and their new governess, Maria. Through her love of music and the mountains, Maria slowly opens up the once hard-hearted Captain and teaches the family what it looks like to love and enjoy life again. Although Maria is not the children’s real mother, she immediately assumes the role of one through her kind demeanor and generous spirit. Maria is also full of wisdom and boldness; she is not afraid to stand up to the Captain and remind him what being a parent is all about. She is not shy about speaking her mind and, although in some eyes she lacks discipline, she chooses to be the type of mother that encourages and shapes the children. This is one of my favorite movies so I enjoyed being able to study Maria as a mother and how her influence greatly impacted the Von Trapp family.

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TV Moms

This project was very unique in that it allowed me to study some of my favorite TV shows from the eyes of the mother figure. I enjoyed highlighting some of my favorite TV characters and getting to delve into them as characters instead of focusing on how they supported the main characters (since most of them weren’t the main characters themselves). The moms that I focused on were Karen from One Tree Hill, Kitty from That’s 70s Show, Lorelai from Gilmore Girls, Claire from Modern Family, and Meredith from Greys Anatomy. What I found to be the most intriguing about this group of moms is that even though they came from all different backgrounds, ages, and had different story lines, they all strived to be present in the lives of their children, no matter what.

Moms in Disney Films

This was one of the most interesting units that we discussed in class. I grew up watching Disney movies almost every day and I never knew the extent that mothers were left out until now. Some of my favorite movies like Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, and Aladdin, all lack a central mother figure throughout their story line. As a young child, there being an absence of mothers in these films never even crossed my mind. I also found Bruno Bettelheim’s theory about the absence of mothers in Disney films interesting. The idea that children’s personality can develop when they are on their own and that by killing their mother, they can preserve the good in the mother without having any bad influence was something that I found unique to Disney films. Disney tends to be a little prideful about having strong character development in their movies, so I was intrigued that they chose to not have a central mother figure in most of their movies in order to accurately create this type of development.

Advertising Project

For this project, I focused on three different commercials; the Thank You Mom Olympics ad by P&G, the Sanitize ad by Luvs, and The Origins of Stains, a #MomConfessions Video ad by LG Appliances. After surveying a group of moms, I found that the vast majority of mothers liked the Thank You Mom ad the best. I believe this is because a lot of the time, moms are not recognized for the work that they do, especially behind the scenes. This ad does a great job of illustrating the important role that mothers have in developing who their child will become and the dedication they have to their families. Another interesting thing I found after surveying the moms about these commercials is that a large majority of them believe that the reason that most household goods are targeted towards them is because they are the primary purchasers of those goods. Even in today’s modern society, women tend to be the ones that do most of the shopping, cooking, and cleaning as opposed to men.

Thank You Mom - P&G Commercial (Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games)

Mom in the News

I really enjoyed the Mom in the News presentations throughout this past semester. Even though a lot of them were sad and presented mothers in a negative light (like the mother who dropped her child in a cheetah pen and the countless mothers who harmed their children in some way), I believe that it is important to be aware of what is going on in the world, especially when the stories deal with families. These presentations opened my eyes to the reality of the world we live in, and also challenged me to find the good in all the sad and tragic news stories being covered today. My favorite story I presented on was a video of a little boy who was born deaf getting to hear his mother’s voice for the first time. It was heartwarming and showed the true power of a mother child relationship.

Surveys

I think that this portion of the class was very unique and thought provoking. It is not often that we get to take a step back and ask real mothers about their experiences and thoughts concerning motherhood. Every time I sent out a survey, I always enjoyed getting to read the responses and hear feedback from my group of moms. I had several moms tell me that these surveys made them think, and that they influenced how they now see motherhood. For the most part, they all loved taking them, as well as, getting to see the results afterwards, and their answers challenged me in the way I view motherhood and made me appreciate my own mother even more.

Moms in Children and Teen Fiction

This section of the class was interesting because it focused on several books and movies that I have seen or read recently. I liked being able to study books (and movies), such as Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, from a mothers perspective, and seeing how vital or even hindering these mothers were to the main character and their development. My favorite mother we discussed was Mrs. Weasley from Harry Potter. Although she wasn’t Harry’s biological mom, she made it a point to look out for him and to be there when he needed her most. She is portrayed as strong, a little bossy, and compassionate; always making sure her children are behaving, as well as, teaching them life lessons along the way.

A Letter to My Mom

Dear Mom,

I want to say thank you for all the hard work and dedication you have put in to raising me. You have sacrificed countless hours and lost a lot of sleep in order for me to have the best life possible. You have been a shoulder to lean on, the best support system, and someone who continues to challenge me to be better. You encourage me to do what I love, and to be bold and courageous. Mom, you are kind, selfless, humble, thoughtful, generous, and forgiving. Even on the days when I act selfish and rude, you still choose to love me unconditionally. I am incredibly thankful and honored that you are my mom.

Throughout this past semester in my COMM 411 class, we have studied mothers through the lens of film, novels, TV, magazines, advertisements, and the news. I have learned that being a mom doesn’t necessarily mean being someone’s caretaker, friend, personal chef, and chauffeur. While all of these components can be included in motherhood, I believe that being a mom is a selfless act; a job full of compassion, late night talks, lectures, organizing chaos, and teachable moments. From this class I have learned that motherhood can be hard, confusing, frustrating, and even terrifying. But, most importantly, I have learned that you, Mom, need to be recognized more. That you have the ability to influence so many people, just as you have influenced me. Motherhood is about second chances, sacrifices, and unconditional love. This class has taught me to be open and honest with you more, Mom, and to continually thank you for what you have done for me. Words can never truly express how grateful I am for your presence in my life. I love you!

Sincerely,

Ellen