Tag Archives: Sloane

“Is your Favorite Character Hot?”: Pretty Privilege in Media

Does being beautiful make your life easier? More interesting? Have a dramatic soundtrack or endless close-up camera angles? Hollywood obviously thinks it does. It doesn’t take watching more than a few movies or TV episodes to realize the entertainment industry is saturated with inhumanly gorgeous actors and actresses. Does this change how we as viewers judge their characters though? Today, we will be examining “pretty privilege” in our media. 

What is pretty privilege? Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Characters can get away with more simply because the people who play them are pleasing to look at. They can be cruel, selfish, callous and downright evil. Yet, these qualities seem more acceptable because the actor is just “too cute to really be that bad.”

Let’s look at this stereotype of beauty and its correspondence to goodness through a movie most of us have seen: “Sleeping Beauty.” The main protagonist is kind, talented and innocent. How do we know this? Because she’s beautiful. With her golden hair, pink lips and glittering eyes (plus her being referred to as “Sleeping Beauty”),  it is not up for debate that the character is meant to be seen as lovely. The main antagonist on the other hand is malicious and harsh. How do we know? Because she’s ugly. It was not until the breathtaking Angelina Jolie took over this “antagonistic” role in the 2014 live-action film “Maleficent” that the character was redeemed as loyal and misunderstood. 

There is clearly a conditioned coordination between perceptions of beauty and perceptions of goodness. We have been taught to assume the best of attractive characters and the worst of unattractive ones. How does this idea of pretty privilege apply to less obvious examples of media though? To answer that, I will remind you of the once wildly popular musical TV show, “Glee.” Two characters share a shocking similar backstory: Santana Lopez and David “Dave” Karofsky. Both characters struggle with their sexualities in the show. Due to their insecurities about their sexualities, Santana and Dave lash out and bully many other characters. Despite their similarities, the fanbase tends to treat them considerably differently. Dave is treated with indifference or even hostility by most fans while Santana is widely regarded as a fan favorite. 

One could argue this treatment is because Dave threatened serious physical violence against another character, Kurt, in season two. However, the aversion to Dave by the fanbase predates this threat. In addition, Santana has also threatened physical violence against multiple characters and even made another character bleed by hitting him repeatedly with a dodgeball after the game was over. 

Both characters have the same drive behind their cruelness. Both characters display inclinations towards physical violence. Both characters are bullies. So, why is one loved and the other disliked? It could be because of how they look. 

Max Adler, who plays Dave, is certainly not ugly but he also isn’t depicted as the traditional Hollywood hunk either. Naya Rivera, who plays Santana, is known for her beauty though. Would fans have liked Santana so much and forgiven her so easily if Naya had been average-looking or even unattractive? While there is no way to say for sure, I’m tempted to vote no. 

Let’s look at an entirely different show to further explore pretty privilege in media: The crime comedy-drama series “Bones.” Just like in “Glee,” two characters stick out as having similar personalities that are perceived completely differently. Both characters, Oliver Wells and Rodolfo Fuentes are interns on the show who are incredibly brilliant but also incredibly arrogant. 

Now, what makes these characters different? Rodolfo is portrayed by the handsome Ignacio Serricchio. The show and audience is well aware of Rodolfo’s status as a beautiful man as other characters frequently comment on his attractiveness. He even has a line where he states “I’m handsome.” Oliver Wells, on the other hand, is played by Brian Klugman. Much like Alder, Klugman is not unattractive but is not depicted as extremely handsome the way Serrichho is. 

Despite having similar arrogance and intelligence, fans significantly prefer Rodolfo to Oliver. Even the review website “Screen Rant” ranked Rodolfo two places ahead of Oliver in their “Bones: All of Brennan’s Interns, Ranked” article. Could this fan favoritism be because of pretty privilege?

We have been taught from a young age to think favorably of attractive people so it’s no shocker that we’re often kinder to characters played by attractive actors. Next time you’re watching a show or movie, take a moment to think: Do I really like this character or do I just like the way they look? The answer may surprise you.

“covid learning” could revolutionize school for students with anxiety at UT

Heart beating, palms sweating, stomach churning, intensifying fear: These are all symptoms of social anxiety. Socially anxious students may be avoiding these symptoms this semester with the aid of the current era of remote learning. 

“It feels like my body is frozen…(like) a bucket of water drops on you. I want to speak but I can’t.”

Claudia Juárez, UT Austin Sophomore

In the age of COVID-19, pre-recorded classes are used to keep students safe from the pandemic, but these classes could also benefit students with social anxiety. Pre-recorded classes can reduce or eliminate the triggers of social anxiety present in in-person classes. There is currently an online petition created by members of the UT student government to continue the offering of distanced learning for students with disabilities such as social anxiety even after COVID-19 has eased.

“I was having anxiety attacks my first day (of class) every time I went somewhere new,” said Mackenzie Ulam, president of the UT chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Approximately 12% of Americans will experience debilitating social anxiety defined by significant impairment in regular functioning during the course of their lives, the National Social Anxiety Center reports. 

The emergence of an anxiety disorder can occur at any age but often will surface during a person’s teens or 20s, the UT Student Affairs Division wrote on its website. This age range means students often experience the emergence of social anxiety during college, potentially impacting their learning experience.  

“(In class) I don’t… want to ask certain questions,” Juárez said. “‘Cause it’s like I go to UT, am I really going to ask this? Everyone’s going to think I’m dumb. Even the professor might think I’m dumb and call me out on it.”

The fear of being perceived as dumb is a common trait in those with social anxiety. This fear can be triggered by numerous scenarios. Triggers of social anxiety include: introducing yourself, “small talk” with classmates, asserting your needs with those in authority such as professors and answering or asking questions in a formal setting, reports the UT Student Affairs Division. 

“You’re having to deal with having to do two things at once: trying to learn the content and trying to work through…anxiety,” said Althea Woodruff, UT’s project coordinator for well-being in learning environments. “You’re basically having to do double or more of the work emotionally and academically.” 

Last semester, UT student government officials introduced a petition in coordination with disability justice advocates to ensure access to online material such as recorded lectures to aid students with social anxiety and other disabilities even after the pandemic eases.

Vinit Shah, UT’s student government chief of staff, said recorded lectures aid students because they cannot just ignore their anxiety. 

“There is no way to challenge yourself out of anxiety,” Shah said. “It’s like learning to swim. When professors say… ‘just get over it,’ it’s really insulting…it’s like expecting a baby to be an Olympic swimmer right off the bat.”

Students with social anxiety may already be eligible for certain accommodations through UT’s services for students with disabilities department. However, accommodations are decided on a case-by-case basis rather than having pre-created accommodation plans available. 

Students must go through a five-part plan to qualify for accommodations. This plan includes providing documentation of their disabilities in an approved format by the department, scheduling and attending an intake appointment with the department, completing multiple forms and signing multiple documents, reports the department on their website

Woodruff said that having recorded lectures available is the type of accessible accommodation that gives students much-needed flexibility. 

“It lets the students know that you actually care about them and you’re being empathetic to their situation,” Woodruff said. “You want to try to be as accommodating as you can to as many students as you can.”

Featured Image by Kara Fields

A longhorn snow-day playlist

The entire state of Texas is under a Winter Storm Warning as parts of Austin are covered in up-to seven and a half inches of snow. Until the roads clear up and it’s safe for Longhorns to go out again, here is the ~ definitive ~ Snow-Day Playlist to keep spirits high even though the temp is low!

  1. “Baby It’s Cold Outside (duet with Michael Bublé)” – Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé

Come on, you knew this one had to be on here. I didn’t make the rules. Between Idina Menzel’s and Michael Bublé’s silky-smooth vocals and the temperature-based lyrics of the song, it demands being on every cold-weather playlist.

Snowiest Lyric: “Baby it’s cold outside.”

  1. “Sweater Weather” – The Neighbourhood

Is there a better song to play while cuddling with your SO on a cold day? Sweater Weather is super cute and temperature-relevant. Bonus points if you and your partner can get your hands on a set of matching sweaters.

Snowest Lyric: “‘Cause it’s too cold (woah) for you here and now. So let me hold (woah) both your hands in the holes of my sweater.”

3. “Let It Go” – “Frozen” Cast

Idina Menzel is iconic even to be on this playlist twice and I will NOT be accepting criticism on that matter at this time. This is the perfect song to play while you take a scenic walk around the snow-covered streets. P.S.: It is absolutely acceptable (and maybe even encouraged) to imagine your ice-cape blowing dramatically behind you as the song plays.

Snowiest Lyric: “The cold never bothered me anyway.”

4. “Oh Ms Believer ” – Twenty One Pilots

I’ll be honest, this song breaks my heart a little every time I hear it. The emotion is palpable and the lyrics are nothing short of poetic. I highly recommend listening to this one with a box of tissues and a lovely view of the snow to get the full experience.

Snowiest Lyric: “Your twisted mind is like snow on the road.”

5. “The A Team” – Ed Sheeran

Somehow this song just sounds like cold weather. The combination of acoustic guitar, melancholy lyrics and the unique comforting feeling of Ed Sheeran’s voice bring every connotation of the cold, good and bad, to life.

Snowiest Lyric: “It’s too cold outside for angels to fly.”

6. “Ice Ice Baby” – Vanilla Ice

We’ve had some sad songs, now get ready for the exact opposite. Ice Ice Baby is a timeless, upbeat masterpiece that makes everyone want to dance. Just don’t slip on the snow!

Snowiest Lyric: “Ice, ice baby, too cold, too cold.”

7. New Year’s Day – Taylor Swift

So, it’s a little past New Years’ but this song still gives out major “cozy on a cold day” vibes. It’s all about having someone who will go through the hard or just mundane parts of life with you instead of only being there for the highs. If that doesn’t give you the warm and fuzzy feelings to get you through the cold, I don’t know what will.

Snowiest Lyric: “I want your midnights but I’ll be cleaning up bottles with you on New Year’s Day.”

8. Banana Pancakes – Jack Johnson

Eating pancakes, sleeping in late and staying in for the day? YES PLEASE! “Banana Pancakes” is a fantastic song to listen to while making breakfast, or breakfast for dinner, on a relaxed snow-day.

Snowiest Lyric: “There ain’t no need to go outside.”

9. If the World Was Ending – JP Saxe and Julia Michaels

The cold can stimulate the cuffing season for sure. This song works through feelings of wanting someone who you know isn’t right for you long term. It’s part wish-fulfillment, part love song and all cold-weather vibes.

Snowiest Lyric: “The sky’d be falling and I’d hold you tight.”

10. I’m With You – Avril Lavigne

This song is bursting with nostalgia while still being an intriguing and unique piece of music. The lyrics mix messages of hope, anxiety and feeling left out in the ~ cold ~.

Snowiest Lyric: “It’s a damn cold night. Trying to figure out this life.”