Blog 6 – The Fosters

The Fosters is an American drama show, written and produced by Peter Paige and Bradley Bredeweg, that aired between 2013 and 2018. It follows the lives of a lesbian couple and their biological and adoptive twin children. It paints the portrait of a not so fair foster system and the complexity that comes with adding foster kids to the family. Indeed, everything is going fine in the house until Callie and Jude arrive. They have stayed in many different foster homes in the past, each as bad as the other. When they are placed with the Fosters, things are different this time, and they end up getting adopted. I chose that show because of how much it taught me, and because of the impacts it has had on our generation’s thinking and perception of social differences.

Firstly, Callie, the main character, is who I believe to be a perfect example of strength and perseverance. From the youngest of age, after the death of her beloved mother, she had to take on the role of caregiver for her brother. And that, even if far apart and in the worst of situations. The show actually begins with her getting out of juvenile detention after having wrecked her foster dad’s car with a baseball bat, trying to defend her brother from his violent acts. She is also the one who introduced Jude to the Foster family, once again trying to get him away from the vicious man. On multiple occasions, she had to do so as she was ready to do anything for her brother to live a regular life. These situations, as well as many others, caused her to be the victim of several crimes and injustices and to ultimately build herself a thick skin. It is also due to this that Callie became a social justice fighter after getting adopted, and that I believe her to be a model of determination.

Secondly, there are two other strong characters that I believe represent well a fundamental concept of feminism; equality. Indeed, Lena and Stef Foster make up an interracial lesbian couple who have five kids under their care. They are what one can consider as unique, and they are not scared to show off their colours. In the show, it is possible to see them teach their children, as well as the viewers, valuable life lessons. For instance, Stef experiences troubles trying to organize their wedding as she realizes internalized homophobia prevents her from enjoying the event. She then has a talk with her children about the importance of accepting oneself and of always trying to find the underlying meanings behind mental obstacles. This issue is one that is common among LGBTQ+ members due to the taboo nature of sexuality. They also teach kids that the traditional composition of a family is not one that is necessary to the development of a child. As long as a proper division of labour is done, everything can work out well in the end.

Lastly, another important character on the show is Aaron, played by actor Eliott Fletcher, a trans man. His character is also one of a transgender man who is Callie’s love interests. This relationship is not one that is really common on television – transgender people’s love lives are a complete mystery to some. This new-on-screen type of love demonstrated to the youth watching the show that it is fine to be different and to be attracted to difference. Throughout the episodes he was in, he tried to convey this message of positivity and acceptance of oneself. His presence in the show got the support of the trans community, furthermore spreading awareness and the normalization of trans individuals in the media.

All in all, The Fosters is one of my favourite shows for many reasons, the main one being that it paints the portrait of a world that actually represents modern society. It conveys incredible messages and, even if it controversial for some, this series demonstrates perfectly this need for change and acceptance that society longs for. I have yet to find another show that so brilliantly touches all taboo subjects, trying to normalize things such as the existence of other sexual identities and orientations. Hopefully, people will learn from the show and model their own version of it so that more generations get to understand the importance of living in a society promoting equality.


Final Project Blog: The Joker

Toxic masculinity can be perceived as a way to hold dominance over men, women and society. Although some may choose to agree that toxic masculinity mainly affects women, I’m here to talk about the contrary. We forget that even though men are men, they can still be easily affected by toxic masculinity. I chose to watch the film, The Joker directed by Todd Phillips in order to present the ways that men can harmfully dominant one another. The main character, Arthur Fleck is a failed comedian who is completely disregarded by society due to his mental illness. Towards the end of the film, toxic masculinity drives Arthur Fleck to the point of madness in which he turns into the well-known psychopath, “Joker”. Although this film is fiction, being beaten by men on the street, abused by male character Thomas Wayne and bullied by male character Murray Franklin, result in how Arthur Fleck transformed into the criminal mastermind, Joker. 

Towards the beginning of the film, Arthur gets his work poster stolen by a gang of men, which results in him being beaten up in an alley way. The purpose of this scene is to demonstrate just how cruel some men may be to others. In Michael S. Kimmel’s, Masculinity as Homophobia, he shares an example at the playground that if two boys pick a fight with each other, one will either have the option to run like a “sissy” or to stand up and fight like a “man”. In most cases, men will choose to fight for themselves because they don’t want to be perceived as the weaker individual. The scene relates to Michael S. Kimmel’s playground story because the gang of men chose to fight Arthur in order to hold power over him. I believe this is an example of toxic masculinity because it represents the men that choose to be violent instead of civilised to others around them.  

Towards the middle of the film, Arthur’s mother tells him that the character who plays the Mayor, Thomas Wayne is his father. When Arthur sneaks his way into the men’s room to speak to Thomas, he confronts him and tells him that he is his son. Thomas Wayne automatically tells Arthur that he and his mother never slept together, that he is adopted and crazy. When Arthur refuses to listen, Thomas results in violence and punches him right in the face. This scene relates to what bell hooks had to say about patriarchy in, Understanding Patriarchy. She mentions that, “Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak…through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence.” The scene in the film relates to patriarchy because it demonstrates how Thomas used violence to dominant Arthur because he knew he was weak. This ties along with toxic masculinity because once again men use violence as a tactic for defense instead of confronting their feelings in a different way. 

The end of the film is about how Arthur gets called to be on character Murray Franklin’s live show. Unfortunately, Murray Franklin only asked Arthur to be a part of his show in order to ridicule him in front of thousands of people. Once Arthur understands that he is being made fun of, he retaliates and reaches his character’s full potential. In Michael S. Kimmel’s, Masculinity as Homophobia, he explains that, “Manhood is equated with power.” I thought that this quote explained Murray Franklin’s behavior perfectly in the film because he only made fun of Arthur in order to feel like a powerful man. This scene relates to toxic masculinity because it demonstrates that some men bring other men down in order to feel powerful. Although the film ends off with Arthur killing Murray Franklin due to his frustration, it shows how toxic masculinity had a hand in making him this way. I choose to believe that if society had treated Arthur in a civilized way, then maybe he wouldn’t result to becoming a criminal mastermind.

To conclude, Arthur Fleck transforms into the Joker because he was abused, bullied and ridiculed by different men throughout the movie. In no way should one result in becoming a criminal mastermind like the fictional character Joker, but this film does demonstrate the ways that toxic masculinity could push one into madness. If men learned to go against toxic masculinity stereotypes, then society would have a higher chance of being civilised. Although this movie was quite disturbing, I thought the writers and directors had a brilliant way of showing how men could harmfully dominant other men. I would definitely recommend this film, not only did it keep me at the edge of my seat, but it educated me on how society could be so cruel to some people as well. 

By: Julianna Noto