Tag Archives: hollywood

LAPD seeks to restore relations with bicycle commuters

By Kevin R. Betts

“As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.” Although it is unclear who first said this, there is no doubt that many people feel this way. In California, this recently became clear when an officer of the LAPD was filmed kicking a bicycle commuter who followed several hundred others riding in Critical Mass, a monthly mass bicycling event. Making matters worse, officers then surrounded and tackled the cameraman! Unfortunately, cities across the U.S. have seen similar confrontations between police and bicycle commuters in recent years.

While friendship may not be in the cards, peaceful relations between police and bicycle commuters are essential as the popularity of bicycle commuting grows. Every day, thousands of people around the globe commute to work, school, and other locations by bicycle. In one U.S. city, bicycle couriers were found to deliver between 3000 and 4000 items per day at a financial steal of only about seven dollars per delivery (Dennerlein & Meeker, 2002). Indeed, bicycle commuting offers an important contribution to society as it is cost-effective, as well as reduces pollution and traffic congestion. Standing in the way of these societal advantages, however, may be fears among potential bicycle commuters about confrontation with aggressive police. For these cyclists, it is imperative that police understand their role as protectors of those that legally share the road. When bicycle commuters abide by traffic laws, they should be treated by police in the same manner as motorists.

In response to the incident in California, LAPD officers joined a Critical Mass ride this past Friday to show their support for lawful bicycle commuting. Whether most bicycle commuters in California have taken this peace offer at face value is unclear, but nonetheless, the actions of the LAPD are commendable. Considering the societal advantages of bicycle commuting and the potential role police can play in protecting lawful bicycle commuters, peaceful relations are imperative.

Read more:

LAPD officers attack Critical Mass riders

LAPD pledges to join Critical Mass ride

Dennerlein, J.T., & Meeker, J.D. (2002). Occupational injuries among Boston bicycle messengers. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 42, 519-525.

View other posts by Kevin R. Betts

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The Look of Young Hollywood

This month Vanity Fair magazine released their Young Hollywood issue, featuring celebrities that they proclaim are the new wave in Hollywood. However, a quick glance at the cover reveals that their selections seem to be particularly homogenous: all of the picks are attractive, thin, white, and female. Undoubtedly some of the recognition is deserved – the issue features actresses from Oscar nominated films (Anna Kendrick) and incredibly popular movie franchises (Kristen Stewart). But notably missing are minority actresses such as Gabourey Sidibe, who is an Oscar nominee for her starring role in the film Precious, and Zoe Saldana, who was widely acclaimed for her roles in Star Trek and Avatar.

The so-called “white-washing” of the Vanity Fair cover may be due to a number of factors. One possible reason is the selections may simply reflect the lack of diversity that has been present in Hollywood for decades. Another possible reason may be the “halo effect”.  Particularly, as has been seen in the impression formation literature, attractive individuals are often attributed with a number of other positive qualities (i.e., warmth, competence, intelligence). Thus, it might be the case that celebrities such as Sidibe and Saldana, who do not meet the traditional Hollywood standards of beauty, are not appropriately recognized for their talent while actresses who do meet these standards are praised before they’ve actually had a chance to prove themselves.

What is particularly surprising is that past issues of Vanity Fair have featured a more diverse set of actors, including minorities and a mix of men and women. It has only been in the past few years that those recognized have begun to look more and more similar. It remains to be seen whether the magazine, and Hollywood, will continue this trend into the next decade.

USA Today: Vanity Fair criticized for the lack of diversity.

Fiske, S. T. (2000). Stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination at the seam between the centuries. European Journal of Social Psychology.

Kruglanski, A. W., & Ajzen, I. (1983). Bias and error in human judgment. European Journal of Social Psychology.

Benevolent Sexism and Hollywood

HannahmileyThis week some people in Hollywood have drawn attention to a double standard regarding photos of two teenage stars. In 2008, the 15 year old teen singer and actress Miley Cyrus appeared in a photo shoot for Vanity Fair magazine in which she was shirtless and wrapped in a sheet. Shortly after these images were released, many criticized the photographer and magazine for taking advantage of the young star and sexualizing her to sell magazines.

taylorlautner

A similar phenomenon is currently occurring, but this time with Taylor Lautner, one of the teenage stars of Twilight. Many of the promotional images and videos for the film have featured the 17 year old start appearing shirtless. However, unlike with the situation involving Cyrus, there has been little criticism or media attention about his photos and whether the marketing campaign unfairly sexualizes him to promote the movie.

This double standard, that a young male can appear shirtless to help publicize his movie while his female counterpart is criticized for similar behavior has brought attention to the differential treatment of men and women in Hollywood. Consequently, many are left wondering why only the Miley Cyrus pictures brought such staunch criticism while the Lautner ones have not. One possible explanation is that of benevolent sexism (Glick & Fiske, 1997). Ambivalent Sexism Theory states that sexism may exist in two forms: hostile or benevolent. Hostile sexism seeks to relegate women to subordinate roles typically through overt and derogatory characterizations. Benevolent sexism, while problematic because it also relegates women to subservient roles, is often more covert. This form of sexism typically views women as weak or objects that need to be protected.

From this perspective then, widely held benevolent views may prompt people to act protective of the female Cyrus  and characterize her as being otherwise unable to take care of herself. Conversely, the male Lautner is not viewed as helpless and escapes any potential scandal. Such behavior, or in this case the lack of action, may be at least one illustration of modern sexism.

square-eyeA Hollywood Double Standard?

square-eyeGlick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1997). Hostile and Benevolent Sexism.