Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: Aniket Venkatesh

Corrupted Justice in Jessica Jones

From the beginning of my journey into Jessica Jones’s world back in Season 1 to where I stand now, halfway through Season 2, an aspect that always interested me more than any other, while equally intriguing me, was the law system in the show, more specifically its corruption. Anomalies within the justice system was present in many episodes, such as in the very first, when a married male strip club owner caught having an affair with another woman by Jessica, and issued a subpoena to attend court, still leaves with a verdict of not guilty, to the episode I am on in Season 2 where Jessica and her step-sister Trish are released from prison after falsely being accused of a murder committed by, pretty much, a monster. This constant repetition of false trials and incorrect decisions, in addition to representing the inevitable inconsistencies in the justice system in the real world, especially in a populous city such as New York (the show’s setting), also demonstrate the fact that justice is simply a relative term that can easily be manipulated by people looking to take advantage of its inconsistencies.

Jessica Jones is presented as an ideal example of someone who not only endures a lack of justice provided in the first place given her minority status in the overall population around her (a female with super-powers), but also someone who constantly has to endure the consistently manipulated justice. From the reaction of passersby whenever Jessica reveals a snippet of her superhuman strength to the reaction of the jury whenever her super-powers came into picture in the court, which she has visited plenty of times due to falsely being accused of crimes, it is obvious that the society dislikes anyone with such abnormalities, even if they have them without their consent, as is the case for Jessica as she was experimented upon as a child. In addition, she has also witnessed several instances of people using this flimsy justice system to their advantage, a prime example being Kilgrave, who, as Jessica herself has recalled several times, has raped her, forced her to kill someone, and provided her with a strong case of PTSD because of those reasons and his mind-controlling abilities, all without suffering any consequences. Jessica, however, after successfully managing to kill him in the end of Season 1, is sent straight to prison for murdering someone who has tormented her and several other lives.

Finally, as it can be seen by the instances above, Jessica Jones has made many more visits to courts than any male character in the show, including her neighbor Malcolm, who has been present with her following many of the murders (although to help her most of the time) and still remained unquestioned by the police. This trend can therefore relate the justice system in the show to gender axes as well, making the law system in the show that much more corrupted but still interesting to discover more corruption of.

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“One, keep denying it…”

“AKA Girl Power”: A Look at Gender Representation in Jessica Jones

Episode 4 of the second season of Jessica Jones, titled “AKA God Help the Hobo”, contains several gender representations that provide a strong structural gender background of the whole show itself. From the name of the show and its first episode of the first season itself, it became obvious who the central character is in terms of representation by time, decisions and actions: Jessica Jones. She is already portrayed as unique from the general public due to her superhuman strength, matched only by her close friend Luke Cage’s indestructible skin and her previous enemy, Kilgrave’s, mind-controlling capabilities. In addition to her unique power and being the only female, and human, to possess it, she is also the main protagonist of the show, with the show’s plotline revolving primarily around her, from her dark past (summarized very well by her in the opening scene of the episode mentioned above: “My whole family was killed in a car accident…someone did horrific experiments on me…I was abducted, raped, and forced to kill someone… ”), to her quest to hunt down and kill Kilgrave, which was achieved by the end of Season 1, to now find more clues about the company that gave her the superhuman abilities following the accident that killed her parents.

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Jessica at her first anger management therapy…

 

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5 minutes later

“AKA God Help the Hobo” is an episode that re-emphasizes all these previously established gender roles in the show, along with provide some new ones. One of the re-emphasized gender roles is of Malcolm’s, Jessica’s neighbor and partner investigator in his and Jessica’s co-founded detective agency, presence on the outskirts of the company he has half the ownership of. After a failed anger management class, Jessica returns to her agency/apartment and is met by a demanding Malcolm who begs for more opportunities to help her in her investigations, showing Jessica’s independence even though she eventually agrees after reluctance because of wanting to keep him safe. This inverse relationship of a man being on the outskirts and under the decisions of a woman is an important factor within the show that makes it especially worthwhile to watch in the modern day due to its proactive message.

 

The first new gender role it provides is in relation to Jessica’s female lawyer, who was initially shown to be self-employed but gets fired by a male investigator in this episode who is apparently at a higher power, showing a stark change in the pattern of gender representation thus far in the show as women, such as Jessica and her closest friend and step-sister Trish, have usually maintained dominant roles. The show also grounds itself to reality due to the reason the lawyer was fired: her developing ALS, a nervous system disease that weakens muscles and impacts physical function, displaying a common limitation to many in the workforce today, especially women: an unavoidable factor such as disability.

Not all Heroes Wear Capes…Or Smiles: Exploration of a Common Theme in Jessica Jones

The last episode of the first season of Jessica Jones, titled “AKA Smile”, was quite a packed one, from Luke Cage’s revival from Jessica’s reluctant gunshot on him while he was under control of the mind-controlling Kilgrave to the astonishing death of Kilgrave from Jessica’s bare hands. This sudden death of who has been the show’s main antagonist raises several interesting points, from putting the plots of coming episodes in question as the show has suddenly lost a focal character, to the shift in general perceptions of the townspeople of Jessica. From the beginning of the season till the moment she snaps Kilgrave’s neck to his death, it could easily be seen how the general surrounding around Jessica, excluding those who have genuinely gotten to know her over time, such as her step-sister Trish, neighbor Malcolm, and “love” Luke Cage, viewed and treated her much like her own personality: sassily and rather harshly. Even the people supposedly representing the law who she had to testify her innocence to multiple times throughout the episodes, including those who questioned her following her “unlawful murder” of Kilgrave after him taking control over multiple people throughout his life and unlawfully murdering many of them, treated her similarly to her personality and her possession of superpowers rather than her actions. This show therefore presents Jessica Jones as an ideal example of someone who is constantly judged based on most any other factor than her actions and the overall benefit she is truly providing to the people around her and many more, and argues that though they do not contain superpowers like Jessica, there are many people in our society whose positive actions also go unnoticed since they are judged based on other less important factors.

In addition to her actions and physical powers, the show also presents multiple instances where Jessica displays immense mental strength, the most common one being her withstanding the trials, questions, and often going about unnoticed or even looked down upon. The last episode of the first season itself displays many of the other instances of her mental strength, such as the way she kept herself from breaking down consistently as she witnessed Luke Cage being transported to the ER after she shot him and as the nurses tried but failed to perform many medical procedures on his indestructible skin. But perhaps the strongest instance will have to be the moments before Jessica succeeded in her mission of Kilgrave’s death, which included her having to pretend to be under his control and listen to him as he falsely declares his love for her step-sister and promises to torture her until he thought she was actually under his control and let his guard down. In the end, the only people who actually witnessed Jessica’s actions and strengths, such as Trish in the scene above, over time grew to support her along the way, a recurring theme in the show that closely mirrors the real world.

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Jessica pretending to be under Kilgrave’s influence.

Silence is Golden: A Look at Dialogue and Writing in Jessica Jones

The episode I am writing about, Episode 7: “AKA Top Level Perverts”, is written by Jenna Reback and Micah Schraft. Reback has been a production staff member of 7 episodes of the show “Red Window” and 9 episodes for Jessica Jones, including this episode, while Micah Schraft has been a production staff member of and written episodes for several shows, including 3 episodes for Jessica Jones and 14 episodes for Jane the Virgin!

Going back to the writing of episode 7, dialogue in this episode, much like many other components, is structured similarly to the other episodes: short segments of people conversing, Jessica Jones included, followed by long segments of the episode focused on Jessica herself either voiced over at times with certain quotes from Jessica or simply joined with jazz background music as she is either planning out a new idea involving capturing Kilgrave, coping with her traumas of the past, or even just walking around the bustling New York City at night-time. This emphasis on Jessica for the majority of the time in this episode, and others alike, continues to put the viewers in her point of view and empathize with her as she makes each decision and carries out each of her decisions, including her decision to first take the blame for Kilgrave’s murder of her lover in order to end up in a high-security prison to capture Kilgrave, to finding him in the police station and deciding to go with him to save the lives of the people around her.

A standard supermax prison cell, one that   Jessica wanted to go to

Silence, due to its continued prevalence in this episode as a large portion of it focuses on Jessica formulating the plan above and making mental decisions, is key in each episode as it allows for the viewers to learn more about her through her mental recollections. One of the things that become obvious is that she never liked her stepmother who took her from an orphanage and initially seemed like a nice person, due to her bad actions and intentions for her actions, something that took several moments of flashbacks by Jessica in each episode for the viewers to notice.

Finally, something that stood out to me about the writing of this episode, compared to the previous ones, is the way Kilgrave is somewhat justified in his actions, especially for his love for Jessica as he declared it when in the police station. He told her that he fell in love with her since she was the only one who was able to resist him to an extent, as in his power of mind control, showing that he admired her physical and mental strength. The writers therefore wanted to present Kilgrave as being somewhat rational, even though very over-the-top with many of his actions, which is definitely a unique idea present in this episode that was not present in previous ones.

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Kilgrave before admitting his love for Jessica

Women in International TV Advertisements (East and South Asian Edition)

  1. Gender representations in East Asian advertising: Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea (Peer Reviewed)

Prieler, Michael, Ivanov, Alex, and Shigeru Hagiwara. “Gender Representations in East Asian Advertising: Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea.” Communication & Society, vol. 28, no. 1, 2015. Research Library, ProQuest, doi:10.15581/003.28.1.27-41.

As suggested by the title, this source concerns mainly around the differences between female and male representations in approximately 1,694 television advertisements, as stated by the authors, from Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea. However, rather than simply focusing on observable characteristics such as age difference between males and females on average, clothing, beauty appeal, etc. of each advertisement, this source goes into a more in-depth analysis of possible reasons these differences exist and how they came to be. It looks into the Confucian past of the geographical region and how the several ideologies that had separated the genders physically and socially continue to play a role in modern television. In addition, the source also demonstrates relationships between the degree of gender stereotyping in each nation’s advertising and some common gender indices, such as Project Globe’s Gender Egalitarianism Index, Gender-Related Development Index, Hofstede’s Masculinity Index, etc. Overall, I found this source very effective in not only determining many of the ways in which each gender is represented in a part of the Eastern Asian region and how they differ from themselves, but also in explaining these differences through deeper analysis into the past culture and use of popular statistical indices.

  1. Melanin on the Margins: Advertising and the Cultural Politics of Fair/Light/White Beauty in India (Peer Reviewed)

Parameswaran, Radhika, and Kavitha Cardoza. “Melanin on the Margins: Advertising and the Cultural Politics of Fair/Light/White Beauty in India.” Research Library, ProQuest, 2009, search.proquest.com/pqrl/docview/220814710/2623F0A5B15C46EDPQ/1?accountid=11107.

Although this source does not directly talk about gender representation in Indian advertisements, it focuses on a significant underlying concern that plays a large role in many female representations in modern Indian advertisements: the social pressure for women to invest in “fairness cosmetics”, as the authors phrase it. This, in turn, explains why such a large percentage of Indian women’s representation in advertisements revolves around the cosmetics sector over any other areas. Many of the companies involved in cosmetics and beauty products essentially take advantage of this insecurity of skin color derived from colorism’s influence in castes, ethnicities and other aspects of the social landscape of the past, along with rapid economical growth and escalating lifestyle consumerism of the present. Although it was a very complex read, I found this article very interesting and valuable, especially its analysis of the persuasive narratives of commercials for fairness cosmetic products to encourage greater sales, including their choices of advertisements and women’s purpose and representation in them. I also found it interesting how the authors also dissected several advertisements’ linguistic methods of persuasion rather than just visual, such as incorporating modern and traditional science and even some of the past heteronormative ideals.

  1. Chinese Advertising Practitioners’ Conceptualisation of Gender Representation

Shao, Yun, Desmarias, Fabrice, and C. Kay Weaver. “Chinese Advertising Practitioners’ Conceptualisation of Gender Representation.” International Journal of Advertising, vol. 33, no. 2, 7 Jan. 2015, pp. 329–350., doi:10.2501/ija-33-2-329-350.

As stated by the source itself, this source analyzes how Chinese advertising practitioners’ social and cultural perceptions of gender relations influence the types of advertisements and gender representations within them that they help create. In a sense, this source digs deep in the psychological aspects behind each Chinese advertisement’s development, specifically the aspects that help explain the differences in gender representation in many advertisements such as stereotypical depictions of women’s shopping behaviors, use of certain products, lack of women in major roles, etc. However, rather than examining multiple Chinese advertisements and dissecting each to explain differences in gender representations, this source instead examines multiple interviews with creative directors, copywriters, art directors and other staff members of China’s advertising industry to further gauge at their psychological thought process behind the development of some of their advertisements and justifications of gender relations within each. I found this aspect of this source very interesting and informative, along with how this source also lists some of western and other global influences in terms of social, professional and even cultural attributes in advertisements as guides used by many members of the Chinese advertising industry.

  1. Asian-Americans: Television Advertising and the “Model Minority” Stereotype (Peer-Reviewed)

Taylor, Charles R., and Barbara B. Stern. “Asian-Americans: Television Advertising and the ‘Model Minority’ Stereotype.” Research Library, ProQuest, 1997, search.proquest.com/pqrl/docview/236497795/8CF085648FCE48C9PQ/4?accountid=11107.

Despite focusing primarily on social and gender representation of Asian-Americans in US advertisements, this source points out a similar trend to that of the first source: Asian women are rarely depicted in major roles and, in most advertisements, appear under the shadow of Asian males, even though both genders are slightly overrepresented based on their population. In a sense, this source delves into the observation that even within a minority group usually described here as affluent, high in education and partake strict work ethic, there still exists some unequal gender representations in advertisements. In addition to that, Asian women, whether in advertisements or the ones viewing them, also have to contend with similar stereotype experienced by their male counterparts of being portrayed as overly concerned with aspects mentioned above, more so that other aspects of their lives seldom appear in television advertising. Although it was rather short for the amount of depth it covered, I found this article to be valuable in the sense that it analyzed gender and social portrayals of a minority group in US television and explained how over-representing some positive aspects eventually forms a stereotype for the minority group to deal with.

  1. This Amazing Hair Commercial Portrays Gender Labels Effectively

Tulshyan, Ruchika. “This Amazing Hair Commercial Portrays Gender Labels Effectively.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 6 Dec. 2013, www.forbes.com/sites/ruchikatulshyan/2013/12/06/this-amazing-hair-commercial-portrays-sexist-labels/#1ebc4ba48cfb.

This source analyzes a hair commercial from Philippines as “Simple. To the point. Effective”, to say the least. The commercial begins with a man leading a meeting with the word “Boss” behind him and a woman in another room with “Bossy” behind her, followed by each one performing identical actions but with different labels, such as “Persuasive” for man and “Pushy” for woman, and so on. It ends with the words: “Don’t let labels hold you back. Be strong and shine.” I found this source’s analysis of this advertisement very interesting and informative at the same time, especially when it focuses on the fact that even though the advertisement was only for a shampoo company, it can be applied universally for the message it delivers of women’s increasing prevalence in the workforce and yet their continued battle against societal traditions to get the office and even during their work. I also found it interesting when the source explained that that advertisement still succeeds in convincing consumers to buy the product since, rather than focusing on “selling the product”, it instead appeals to their values and emotions and allows them to make informed choices after weighing multiple options.

  1. 6 Indian Ads that Broke Gender Stereotypes Over the Years

“6 Indian Ads That Broke Gender Stereotypes over the Years – #Breakingstereotypes.” The Economic Times, 8 Mar. 2017, economictimes.indiatimes.com/slideshows/advertising-marketing/6-indian-ads-that-broke-gender-stereotypes-over-the-years/airtel-boss/slideshow/57538927.cms.

This source, unlike the others, includes some visuals of six Indian television advertisements in addition to a brief description of the events that occur in each advertisement. It then explains how each advertisement is helping “break gender stereotypes” in not only Indian television, but the society as a whole through the messages each advertisement delivers. I share the same view as the writers of the web source about many of the advertisements the source mentions, having lived in India for ten years myself: they particularly effective in helping achieve the goal of breaking gender stereotypes. The first advertisement features a couple sitting at a registrar’s office, with the husband announcing that he will be taking his wife’s last name; a brief scene that displays a large shift from the cultural norm in a densely populated country. Other advertisements display similar shifts from the social norms of the past, such as a female executive leader of a company who handles her work till late in the evening, then comes back home to prepare food for her husband who is still at his workplace, and many more. Although descriptions for many of the advertisements were short, each one was well chosen.

 

 

Visual Design that Fits the Protagonist: Cinematography in Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones, the character, is rather bitter, sarcastic and owns a dark personality, as revealed by the first episode of the show Jessica Jones. She often displays rudeness, foul temper, and lives alone in an apartment without a lock in the vast New York City. The cinematography of the show therefore exemplifies many dark elements, from certain dialogues to settings to color schemes, to mirror closely to her dark personality.

Jessica Jones’s Apartment

The first episode begins with a backdrop of New York City during night time, followed by Jessica Jones’s narration: “New York City may be the city that never sleeps, but it sure does get sleepy around here” while overlooking a shady part of the city. In addition to laying the foundation of her current job as an investigator, this opening scene gives a glance towards her sarcastic personality and her self-confidence due to her preference of being a night owl in such a vast and potentially dangerous city. This self-confidence begins to mold into more of self-centeredness as the viewers begin to find out that despite being an investigator and wielding superhuman powers, Jessica Jones’s main motive is to simply be able to thrive each day and keep her powers under cover over excelling in her job, even though she has managed in completing each investigation assigned.

During one of her sleepless nights, Jessica Jones leaves her apartment to pretty much stalk on other people through a balcony of a run-down building like her own apartment, appearing to be one of the side effects of being an investigator. Then, all of a sudden, a man-like figure approaches to her face then disappears instantly, sending her into what appeared as a PTSD panic. This same PTSD panic, which initially seemed very uncharacteristic of the otherwise emotionless Jessica Jones, repeats again two days later in the morning, one of the few scenes during daytime in the first episode. The imaginary man therefore appears to the viewers as some sort of villain who may not only know about her secret powers and be stronger than her but may very well have encountered her before and tortured her, as the echoing audio following each time she encounters him in her mind suggests.

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Jessica Jones’s Only Weakness: Her PTSD

Finally, the first episode successfully lays the cinematographic foundation of, for the most part, all other episodes of the show, starting with the title pattern of “AKA” before its name to display Jessica Jones’s sarcasm regarding most everything. A few of the following episodes also run for nearly an hour, with several long takes to not only make each episode function like a small version of a movie, but also to center most of it around Jessica Jones, the self-centered protagonist. Overall, although the episode was rather dark for my taste, it is rather intriguing to see a female encompass a role such as Jessica Jones in television and I am certainly excited to see more of it!

A Short Story of Someone Who Managed to Stay Under the Word Limit!

Hey there! My name is Aniket Venkatesh, my major is Biomedical Engineering, and my anticipated year of graduation is 2022. Throughout my school years, starting from India, due to English being the secondary language at the school, I was only an average student in English classes. When I moved to the US during 5th grade, I was still only an average English student due to its increase in difficulty, while at the top of math and science classes throughout middle and high school. However, the breakthrough occurred during 12th grade, when I decided to take my first AP English class, AP Literature, simply because one of my friends took it. Not only did I do well in the class despite its difficulty, but also learnt from the teacher herself that I’m better at English than I thought before. With the newly gained skills and increased confidence, I put in the same full effort in the English 1101 class during summer semester at Tech and was rewarded an A.

As stated in my Common First Week Video, I’d say that the part of the communication that I struggle with the most would be oral, especially forming complete chains of thoughts on the go while orally presenting them with as few hesitations as possible. Although I had several opportunities to practice it throughout high school, and have significantly improved since then, I’ll always appreciate more opportunities to keep improving upon the hesitations in this class, be it in the form of oral assignments, projects, etc.

I don’t know if admitting this is a good thing or not, but I don’t watch much TV. This can again be partially traced down to my childhood in India, where playing outside with friends took way more time off each day than sitting indoors and watching TV, although watching Tom and Jerry once in a while was irresistible. After moving to the US, although I didn’t play outside too much as I didn’t have many friends, I still only watched some of the old nostalgic cartoons and tennis occasionally and began watching some news as I began high school. This class will therefore be a brand-new experience for me, and I am excited to see what all I have missed out on in the past when it comes to television.

I’m still always down for more Tom and Jerry.

Finally, the TV show that I’ll be reviewing is Jessica Jones, mainly because of my love for Marvel and many of its superhero-themed movies. Jessica Jones is about a private investigator with the same name whose primary goal is to simply get through each day in the bustling New York City more than saving the world. Her detective agency, Alias Investigations, which she herself founded, focuses primarily on people who have special abilities, inspired in part by her own short-lived career as a superhero in the near past. I’m excited to see how this show turns out, while learning more about television and feminism along the way!

                              Jessica Jones

 

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