Final Major Project Research

macbookair2 maxresdefault iPhone-5c-For-the-colorful 130214105230-pistorius-nike-ad-story-body mcdonalds images Topman_Generation_00 114100916__341964c coke_share_with-620x231 nike-iniesta I was looking through the different types of advertisements and looked for examples which i can fit in with my FMP proposal and above were the examples which were famous examples of examples which i felt i could use. People would recognise these advertisements straight which i feel would make my final pieces more powerful as the viewers will instantly recognise the pieces and take more interest in the message being put across in the poster. I started to brainstorm the ideas based on these advertisements to get across my message of advertising neglecting the elderly. Such as the apple advertisements, instead of young people in a silhouette i decided to replace them with an elderly character such as the image below. I played with this idea such as making them listening to an Ipod or having a old telephone instead of the latest Iphone in the advertisement poster. vector-silhouette-old-woman-white-background-47629582 I picked at the Mcdonalds advertisement because it is perhaps one of the most famous advertisement logo and slogan with “Im Lovin’ It” so people will instantly recognise the advertisement and will realise if anything has been changed from the image. I got the idea of changing the slogan which people will realise making the meaning behind the image stand out. I was playing with the idea on changing the text to “I loved it” which will give the viewers the sarcastic message of why perhaps it isnt aimed on older people. ilifab_rm_b_l_p I thought i could play with the Yorkie slogan which again is a well known one of “It’s not for girls” which i instantly thought i could change to match my project and the image of the girl in the warning signs gave me ideas. The nike advertisements are a good advertisement to use because whilst looking through them i realised a lot of them are aimed towards the younger generations which is perhaps inevitable due to the high intensity sports and activities being advertised however it still is an example of the elderly being overlooked in the media. I particularly liked the ‘The future has been written” motto in one of the nike advertisements which i plan to use quite literally when coming to creating my products. Nike is again a world wide known company so the viewers can automatically relate to the advertising poster. I wanted to include another one of the main advertisements all over the world which is the Coke advertisement. coke_side_life1 i was thinking of the ways in which i could of changed the Coke advertisements so i could get across my message of how perhaps Coke doesn’t aim their product to the elderly. I was thinking of using this poster above and include items linked to older people coming out of the Coke bottle but time restricted me which is something i had hoped to have done. I instead will use the image from above with the names on the coke bottles and use old fashioned names which will make the viewers look as they are normally modern and popular names on the bottles. I saw the Android advertisement and saw ways in which i could change the image of the android to appeal more to the elderly by stereotyping old people and making the image look like an old person stereotype. This again is a sarcastic image portraying the message in a funny way. The motto in the Topman image stood out to me straight away and gave me ideas on how i could make it relevant to my project which was “Topman Generation.” I also thought this was a good idea to play on because Topman and Topshop are very popular fashion brands which are largely aimed towards the older people and will stand out to people viewing my advertising posters. As you can see in the poster a young man is pictured in the image which is straight away showing that it is aimed at a younger audience. I also looked at JD Sports advertisements to see what ideas i could bring that would suit my final major project. JS35907812 I was not as confident when looking through the JD sports advertisements as i didn’t find any suitable ways in which i could portray my meaning through the advertising posters. I was initially looking for a shoe advertisement in which i would put an old persons slipper again showing a sarcastic approach to the advertisement. Questionnaire  To get feedback from the public about my project idea and to get their opinion on some of my designs i decided to create a questionnaire and start asking about my project. Below is a copy of the questionnaire that i carried out. VOV Questionnaire copy This questionnaire has a few of my initial designs on the top of the page and in the first question i ask which of the colour coordinated images do they prefer so i get a good indication which of the images appeal more to the audiences visually. Then i asked what the images say to the people as i want to find out how easily the message that is being put across is realised. I also directly ask them what they think the message is which is trying to force them to look into the image and look for the hidden meanings. Then i ask them if they think that the elderly are considered in the advertising and marketing world and if not i ask them if they think that it is fair. This is the whole meaning behind my project which is to find if people are aware that elderly are not focused much in media and perhaps why they are not being included in advertisements. I wanted to ask a variety of different people but i mostly focused on the age of people i was asking. I wanted to ask people of different ages so i could get a fair response to my questionnaires and hopefully gain different views to these posters and perhaps provoke different responses. I also made sure i asked different genders as males and females may have different views on the advertising posters. Questionnaire Responses Response 1 Q1Right, Left, Left Q2 They are quite funny advertisements. Making fun of modern advertisements. Q3 Perhaps that advertising should be aimed more towards to older people. Or that older people are not as modern and not as interested in these products. Q4 Thinking about it now you don’t see many products being advertised especially for older people. Q5 I suppose it isn’t fair, i haven’t thought that much into it to be honest. I can understand why companies do tend to aim for younger audiences because of the more success they will get in sales but that doesn’t make it fair. Response 2 Q1 Right, Left, Left. I would include the older generation logo thing in the second left image though. Q2 They seem to be advertising products for older people. Q3 That apple should aim their products towards older people rather than young. Q4 Not much, you only see health insurance etc advertised towards older people really. Q5 No it isn’t fair Response 3 Q1 Right, Left, Right Q2 They seem like they are showing products towards older people rather than aiming towards the younger audience which you normally see. Q3 That the elderly should be considered in advertising more often Q4 Yeah you don’t see many old people being advertised in media. Q5 Don’t think it is fair at all thinking about it. Why are the elderly considered more in advertising? Response 4 Q1 Right, Left, Left Q2 That apple products grow out of fashion very quickly and are quickly replaced. Q3 That products that are being released are growing out of style quicker and that technology keeps moving on. Q4 Not an awful lot. You don’t see many advertisements including older people. Q5 I think it is fair in a way because a lot of the advertising are for the younger audiences and they are more likely to be consuming these advertising posters. Response 5 Q1 Right, Left, Left Q2 Pointing out that old people are not being aimed at in apples advertising. ‘For the traditional” “Old Generation” Q3 That perhaps media companies should be aiming their products towards older people more instead of the younger people. Q4 A lot of todays advertising campaigns are for younger people and not so much older people which isn’t fair. Q5 Last answer Response 6 Q1 Right, Left, Left Q2 Rotten apple may mean something is getting old. Maybe that why cant older people use the apple products which are being advertised. Q3 That old people should be able to buy products such as technology specifically apple products? Q4 Not much at all, like the first blue images have young people as the silhouettes which is quite clever how it is an old person. Q5 I don’t think it is fair as they deserve to be included in advertising more. Response 7 Q1 Right, Left, Right Q2 These images tell me that old people are not being focused on in advertising in todays world. Q3 That it is unfair that old people are not being aimed at in media and advertising. Q4 You hardly see older people in advertising. Everything is geared towards younger people. Q5 No it isn’t fair. Its the fact you hardly ever see content for older people at all. It is nearly all for younger people. Response 8 Q1 Right, Left, Left I would use the older generation image or the second poster Q2 It looks like old people are using technology which are for younger people. Q3 That companies such as these are aiming their products towards younger people. Q4 Not an awful lot. You often see them advertised for insurance companies etc. Q5 I think that older people should have more products aimed towards them in adverts and stuff. Questionnaire Analysis Overall I was happy with the feedback i got as i got some constructive advice which will help me improve my work and i also got results on which images were preferred out of the colour coordinated ones. I also got good responses to what people thought the images meant and the special meanings behind them. It made people realise that old people are not in much advertising of today which all respondents agreed with that they aren’t. The majority preferred the right image of the blue images and the left images of both the blue and black images which is very helpful to me as i want to find out which are more visually attractive. Both Response 2 and Response 8 both mentioned that i should include the “Older Generation” on the poster on the left out of the green posters even though they both preferred the left image. I thought this was very useful to me as i like to hear ways in which i can improve my work. I also found out in these responses that in Responses 4, Response 5 and Response 6 that the person thought that i was just aiming my work at Apple which is  not the feedback i wanted as it does look like i am criticising Apple from not aiming their products towards old people. I also thought that the eighth response was interesting because it is like they have been brainwashed by advertising due to their answer to question 2. They stated that the images look like ‘old people are using technology which are for younger people.’ This shows that they initially thought that it was assumed that the adverts should be for younger generations in which later on they admitted they didn’t think its fair. Screen shots These screenshots show myself working and making changes to all of my images on Photoshop because that is the program i used to create my posters. Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 13.44.20 Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 13.46.13 Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 13.50.23 Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 14.41.43 Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 13.34.20 Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 13.39.05 Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 13.36.49 These images show some of the techniques i used when creating my final pieces. I used a lot of the features on photoshop. I used a lot of placing images when i wanted to insert pictures as seen above and i used the selection tool as you can see in the top image. In the second image there is an example of my saving my poster as a JPEG image. As you in the third image you can see that i used the selection tool to select parts of the image. I used the selection tool a lot during creating my Final Projects and in the fourth image you can see that i have used it again and used the paint tool to colour in the background behind the Nike logo. I wanted to replicate the gold used in some of Nikes advertising posters so i used the eyedropper tool to get the exact colour of gold being used. I also used the free transform tool a lot when creating my work as you can see apple dial up phone advert. I did this by pressing command and T and resized the image to the size that i wanted it to be by dragging.


Writing tasks

Andrew Shepherd

Task 1 10 minutes

The lamp, the rain, the wind, the night, the chill, the birds, the waves, splash. Fear, man, sea, uncontrollable, clash, smash, broken.

Panic, death, worry, struggle, fight. Silence.

Task 2 It’s a dogs life

Looking up, he isn’t here. Stretch my old legs to a stand and slowly make my way to the couch and I look up calculating if I can make the jump. I spring from my back legs making it onto the couch with my front paws on the windowsill glazing through the glass window. The car has gone. I watch the next-door neighbours dog walk past with their owner enjoying the fresh air outside. They have left me again, what if they don’t come back? Will they leave me here on my own forever? What have I done wrong? Was it because I ripped up all of those papers by the front door? Wait, did I leave some? I slowly crawl back down the couch to the front door to find the mess has been cleared. However, more papers slide through the door.

There before me is a heap of unimportant looking papers. I doubt they need them; they hardly look at them anyway. Springing towards the pieces of paper on the floor, eyeing up, which I want to attack first. Before I even know it, I am in a heap of shredded paper on the floor with bits of paper in my mouth. I hear the rattling of keys in the lock. I have done it again!

Night Hawks Image


We had been in Phillies bar for hours now. In fact after closing hours, however owner Alphonse was allowing us to stay in after hours after celebrating our engagement. Everyone had departed into the dark night lashing with rain. The streets of Chicago had been cleared with the occasional headlines illuminating the glass fronts of the high streets and the bar. Alphonse was leaning over wiping the surfaces removing the spillages left on the wooden surface polishing with his cloth. The jukebox was echoing into the empty room playing swing with the pink and blue neon lights bouncing onto the clear white walls and colouring the diamond on my fiancés new ring. There was a great anticipation that Lucia and I were venturing into new territory and clearing any past bad memories with this engagement. A lone figure walked by the sidewalk with the streetlights bouncing off his trilby hat and edged towards the entrance. The door swung open as we were greeted by the sounds the bells from the door opening and the beating of Chicago rain on the concrete of the floor. The suspicious figure raised his flushed face from the cold and sharp cutting rain with the water dripping on the recently polished floor. He shouted over “May I have a drink, I have the money to pay for it?” Alphonse looked at me in a way to get my approval and I looked back with a nod to which Alphonse allowed the man to advance to the bar. The man was obviously wet, but he was not drenched, as one would expect judging by the heaviness of the rain.

You could hear his wooden soles tap against the floor as he walked over and jumped on the stool to our right. He was a well-dressed man, dressed head to toe in expensive clothes. I thought to myself that it was unusual that he was walking around Chicago at this time of the night in the pouring rain without anything to protect himself. He took his wallet out of his pocket and the water from his drenched clothes dirtied the polished surface again. “Black coffee please”. I was watching this man in the corner of my eye and saw he was reaching into his pocket and pulled out a gun and pointed it towards our direction. My instinct was to cover my fiancé and get out of the way of any incoming bullets targeted at us. “Bang, Bang”.

I was on the floor, blanked out as I heard the wooden soles running out of the bar. My vision was slowly blurring and I could feel the blood dripping down my chest and onto the floor around me. “I am going to die!’

Feminism in Boardwalk Empire

What does the portrayal of women in Boardwalk Empire say about the power balance between men and women in a relationship?

In my article I wanted to focus on how women are shown in the HBO hit series Boardwalk Empire as it is set at a time when women were perhaps not portrayed as equal as men were. I wanted to look at how the examples I find of feminism in this TV show can link to the power balance between men and women in a relationship we see today and how to relationship between men and women in this era may be exaggerated so I will be analysing the show through the eyes of a feminist. This American period crime drama projects all of the illegal based activities carried out by gangsters during this era and covers all of the difficulties with family and business life combining the fear of losing lives, the intentions to grow the separate crime based families and the many difficult and confusing love lives. As one can imagine, women are a large theme that runs throughout the show raising concerns towards how the audience can judge how the show has modeled women to be seen as objects that may stir opinions of those who are feminists. Nucky Thompson is the main character of the show that is a corrupt politician played by American actor Steve Buscemi. The audience follow Nucky through the growth of his criminal career in Atlantic city where we see the protagonist character of the show come across many issues such as balancing the life of a politician, a leading member of Atlantic City’s gangster/mafia activity and looking after a family being Margaret Schroeder and her children. Nucky Thompson is the centre to a lot of the bootlegging activity in the city that even spreads to wider parts of the country as the criminals are making the most of the high demand and high price of alcohol due to the introduction of the prohibition era.

As mentioned before, women are a very strong theme in the television series and play very important roles in the running of the series. Women in Boardwalk Empire are seen as quite powerful figures in the show with Margaret Schroeder and Gillian Darmody being examples of these. Despite these women being given main roles in the television series plot, audiences can easily interpret that women are being objectified and unfairly treated by the male gender of the show. There are a lot of mature scenes and sexual references involving the females of the show which directly links to the qualities that a feminist critic would look for as women are often sexualised and only valued for their attractiveness. Evidence of this is the constant referral and use of prostitutes in the show such as Jimmy sleeping with Pearl, a prostitute in an Illinois brothel, whilst he was still with Angela. These concerns run throughout the show as women are often only seen for their physical appearance but the males of the show are responsible for painting the women in this light due to the language, text and actions of the show where perhaps the producers are portraying an unfair image of males of the setting of the show. One particular scene where males clearly disrespect the female population of the time in ways that would anger a feminist critic due to the dialogue used in the show. During a get together at a table with Nucky Thompson and associates a lot of the talking is anti feminism such as the joke “What do you tell a woman with two black eyes? Nothing, She’s already been told twice” ( see online video which is clearly an indication towards the views that women are seen as being inferior and weaker than men at this time. These quotes will quite likely discuss the audience of the show due to the change in equalities between men and women in more modern times. Although this quote was said in terms of a joke, the audience still senses some truth in the quotes due to the violence shown towards women in the series as analyzed in the next piece of text.

The women of the show are also shown as seen as a way to get revenge on rival gangsters which the couple of examples involve Jimmy Darmody. This scenes show that the women are again seen as being inferior to men as they are being used to get to the men which shows the injustice which may have been towards women of this time. The first example of this is Pearl which was a prostitute based in Chicago with links to Jimmy who came in-between forcing the links of male violence towards females in this era. Whilst with Pearl, a rival mobster says “you’re friend there jimmy, he’s got good taste.” ( see online video The mobster then slashes her face just to send a message showing the injustice towards females and another example involves Angela Darmody. Again, in aim to getting revenge on Jimmy Darmody, Philadelphia based butcher and crime boss entered the house looking for Jimmy and ends up killing Angela and her mistress. His final words to her were “The most important thing in life darling, you have. Your husband did this to you” (see online video showing that women are being used to give a message to the males of the show again showing the injustice to the females of the show. These scenes enforce the point that those who follow feminist critics showing that they are seen as being physically weaker than men and again that they are seen as being objects.

One of the main plots of the television series is Margaret Schroeder making advancements to try and gain women the rights to vote. This is where the show takes more of a positive approach towards women in the show as Margaret Schroeder as portrayed as a very intelligent woman especially during her speech in season one episode four. The speech came as a shock to the males in the show due to the fact that they couldn’t believe a woman was speaking with so much knowledge and confidence making Nucky Thompson impressed with how much she knew on the topic. Despite the intelligence shown by Margaret with her knowledge on politics and general running’s, the exact opposite side is shown in the same episode in the same scene as mentioned before. The below is the dialogue from the scene when Lucy Danziger was asked about the league of nations she replied:
Lucy – “The what?”
Nucky – “The league of nations, it was a big meeting in Paris three years ago”
Lucy – “Well I don’t know about that league thing but Paris sure sounds swell. Want to take me daddy?”
Whilst these conversations were going on, Nucky Thompson had an embarrassed look about him which could resemble that Nucky was impressed with Margaret Schroeder’s intelligence possibly signalling the want for more equality between men and women in a relationship. This can also be conceived by the audience that the woman is playing with the men of the scene to appear dumb in order to gain control using her gender to her advantage. However those who are more sceptical to the balance between men and women in the show will not be too happy with the way the show has portrayed women’s intelligence in this scene. Lucy Danziger also has another example of where a critical audience may be unsettled by some of the contents of the show. When Lucy becomes pregnant with Van Alden’s child, he locks her up in an apartment to which she responds “this is a jail” (Season 2 Episode 4, A Dangerous Maid.) These scenes go on for a number of episodes where Van Alden keeps Lucy in the apartment and isn’t allowing her any freedom to go out and even denying her talking to anyone. This would concern those who are judging the TV show in the eyes of a feminist critic as the female in question is being kept against her will and is shown as being domesticated and again seen as being inferior to men where the man in this situation clearly has all of the control.

This television series has many examples of how women of the shows era may have been unfairly treated mainly through objectifying and sexualising the females of the show. These qualities of the show may be exaggerated such as some of the violent scenes however the show portrays an unbalanced relationship between men and women of these times where men are seen as the more powerful and the ones who hold the most control. This may be an unfair analysis to make from this show due to the types of men being focused on and the dramas of gangsters and criminals lives. The Margaret Schroeder story is more of an example of the balance between men and women in a relationship and perhaps an indication to the advancement of women being seen as more of an equal in a relationship showing more of a reflection to how the balance in relationships are in current day.



Boardwalk Empire Season one Episode four ‘Anastasia’ written by Lawrence Konner and Margaret Nagle air time October 10, 2010
Boardwalk Empire Season two Episode four ‘A Dangerous Maid’ Written by Susanna White air date October 9, 2011

Feminism in Boardwalk Empire Research Log

Research Log

For my article i wanted to look at how women are shown in the HBO hit series Boardwalk Empire as it is set at a time when women were perhaps not portrayed as equal as men were. I wanted to look at how the examples i find of feminism in this TV show can link to the power balance between men and women in a relationship we see today and how to relationship between men and women in this era may be exaggerated so i will be analysing the show through the eyes of a feminist. Below is the title i came up with for the article i am to write which clearly suggests the topics i will be looking at.

“What does the portrayal of women in Boardwalk Empire say about the power balance between men and women in a relationship”

Boardwalk Empire

America in 1920: The Great War was over, Wall Street was about to boom and everything was for sale, even the World Series.

It was a time of change when women got the vote, broadcast radio began and young people ruled the world. From Terence Winter, Emmy Award-winning writer of The Sopranos and Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese, Boardwalk Empire is set in Atlantic City at the dawn of Prohibition, when the sale of alcohol became illegal throughout the United States.

On the beach in southern New Jersey sat Atlantic City, a spectacular resort known as The Worlds Playground, a place where the rules didnt apply. Massive hotels lined its famous Boardwalk, which featured nightclubs, amusement piers and entertainment that rivalled Broadway. For a few dollars, a working man could get away and live like a king legally or illegally.

The undisputed ruler of Atlantic City was the towns treasurer, Enoch Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), a political fixer and backroom dealer who was equal parts politician and gangster and equally comfortable in either role. Because of its strategic location on the seaboard, the town was a hub of activity for rum-runners, minutes from Philadelphia, hours from New York City and less than a days drive from Chicago. And Nucky Thompson took full advantage.

Along with his brother Elias (Shea Whigham), the towns sheriff, and a crew of ward bosses and local thugs, Nucky carved out a niche for himself as the man to see for any illegal alcohol. He was an equal-opportunity gangster, doing business with Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg), Big Jim Colosimo (Frank Crudele), Lucky Luciano (Vincent Piazza) and Al Capone (Stephen Graham).

As Boardwalk Empire begins, Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), Nuckys former protg and driver, returns home from the Great War, eager to get ahead and reclaim his rightful place in Nuckys organization. But when Jimmy feels things arent moving quickly enough, he takes matters into his own hands, forming a deadly alliance with associates of Nuckys that sets the Feds, led by Agent Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon), on his mentors tail. Complicating matters further is Nuckys burgeoning relationship with Margaret Schroeder (Kelly Macdonald) a woman in an abusive marriage whom he tries to help.

Season Two begins in January 1921, and sees Nucky’s rule of Atlantic City come under threat as a group of disgruntled former allies plot a coup to remove him from power.  This betrayal brings havoc to Atlantic City as deals are made with notorious criminals and much blood is shed as the balance of power is upset.

A relative calm is restored to the boardwalk in Season Three, as many of our heroes are forced to deal with the bloody aftermath of the attempt to oust Nucky as Governor. A new crime boss, Gyp Rosetti arrives on the scene and causes problems for Nucky’s business affairs and Eli struggles to cope with his new role in the political world of Atlantic City.
The Feminism and Anti-Racism of ‘Boardwalk Empire’ 

Boardwalk Empire returned for its fourth season on Sunday, Sept. 8. This season is poised to continue important representation of struggles involving gender and race in the award-winning show, which is aesthetically gorgeous and well-written.The few, but incredibly important, female characters on Boardwalk Empire arefascinatingI wrote last year about the remarkable story lines in season 3 that focused on birth control and reproductive rights. Boardwalk Empire has alwayskept a keen eye on women’s issues–from suffrage to health care.

Season 4 is set up to be more of the same–long-form debauchery and violence with moments of poignant sub-plots featuring the female characters. Gillian is slipping deeper into a heroin addiction, and is selling herself instead of selling her house. Cora escapes a violent bedroom scene (which we will revisit in a moment). A young actress attempts to take Billie’s place in Nucky’s life for her own gain, but he rejects her. Richard has traveled to reunite with his twin sister, Emma, on her farm.

As often is the case in these seemingly masculine dramas, women are essential to the plot, even if they often aren’t the focus of most reviewers, or even the bulk of the action. Nucky is king, Al Capone is pulling strings, and Chalky is set to be a power player.

Drink, talk, shoot, repeat.

But those moments that the women of Boardwalk Empire are on screen are among the best of each episode. Their parts are small. Their scenes are brief. But each is meaningful and powerful. The women characters are complex–evil, moral, conflicted, good mothers, bad mothers, addicts and everything in between. They are three-dimensional. This is a good thing.

The female-centric subplots in Boardwalk Empire are treasures buried in a pile of empty whiskey bottles. Most reviewers, however, focus on the men. Hollywood Life only mentions the male characters (except for the mention of Nucky getting smarter about women). The Huffington Post mentions Gillian briefly and Cora (but not by her name). Rolling Stone does do a better job of fully describing and summarizing the episode.

The fact that critics often ignore or reduce women characters isn’t surprising, although it’s always frustrating. What’s horrifying, however, are a few critics’ responses to the aforementioned violent sex scene.

Just like Boardwalk Empire has woven in subplots of women’s struggles, it has also presented the endemic racial tension in Nucky’s world in a way that makes viewers uncomfortable (especially since our culture is still so steeped in racism). Not everyone seems to get this, though.

From left, Dickey, Cora, Dunn and Chalky.

At Chalky’s new club, he sits watching the new talent with his right-hand man, Dunn, and a white talent agent, Dickey, and his girlfriend, Cora. Cora sketches an erotic drawing of her and Dunn, and asks him to come upstairs. The two start having sex, and Dickey makes himself known in the room as he draws a gun against Dunn. Dunn scrambles to put on his pants, and Cora immediately says he had forced her. This is all a game, though, for Dickey and Cora. Dickey forces Dunn to resume having sex with Cora, and all the while Dickey is throwing racial epithets, heavily peppering his slurs with the N-word and claims about how black men behave.

Dickey starts masturbating. “It’s all just some fun,” Cora says with a smile.

Then Dickey says, “There’s no changing you people.” With this, Dunn breaks a bottle over Dickey’s head and proceeds to stab him repeatedly and viciously. We are surprisingly comfortable with this outcome of the scene, because Dunn’s humiliation and objectification is so visceral, as is the racism. This scene is indicative of not only the racism and degradation of black Americans at the time (echoed by Nucky’s almost-mistress who says the Onyx Girls are “deliciously primitive”), but also the demand that they perform as objects for whites’ entertainment and sexual purposes, without agency. The power that Dickey wields over Dunn–his whiteness, his gun, his hand down his pants–is nauseating and historically accurate. This scene is about racism. This scene is about power, humiliation and resistance when one is caught up against a wall of disgusting degradation.

However, the aforementioned reviewers had a different reading of this scene.

From Hollywood Life:

“…Chalky finds out that being the boss requires a lot of cleanup. Like when after his sidekick Dunn Purnsley (Erik LaRay Harvey), in the most awkwardly violent scene of the episode, murders a booking agent after the guy catches him sleeping with his wife — and then forces Dunn to continue while he watches. Boardwalk Empire, ladies and gentlemen!”

Certainly a brief show recap isn’t always the place for heavy cultural analysis, but to brush off the scene with such flippant commentary? Privilege, ladies and gentlemen!
Not to be topped, the Huffington Post saw Dunn’s actions as self-defense:

“So Dunn did what he had to do, smashing the guy’s head with a liquor bottle to get himself out of danger. And then he went the extra murderous mile, repeatedly stabbing the guy in the throat with the broken bottle, because it’s Boardwalk Empire.”

Are you kidding me? Dunn murdering Dickey had nothing to do with him being in danger. It had everything to do with him being degraded and humiliated.

Rolling Stone acknowledges Dunn’s true motivations, but still misses the mark:

“He may have moved up the ranks from jail antagonist to kitchen worker to Chalky’s right-hand man, but Dunn doesn’t know shit about doing business, especially with white folks in 1924. I can’t blame him for pounding a broken bottle into Dickey’s face repeatedly – not only was he forced to have sex with Cora at gunpoint, but Dickey degraded him even further with regular use of the n-word and vicious taunts like, ‘There’s no changing you people.’ Except Chalky knows that you can’t go around killing Cotton Club employees (Cora manages to escape) just for ’15 minutes’ worth of jelly.’”

Yes, perhaps Chalky knows how to do business with white folks, but his “jelly” comment is inaccurate–that’s not what Dunn killed for. Except for killing Dickey (which even this reviewer acknowledges a motivation for), Dunn didn’t really do anything wrong.

And perhaps most egregious, buried in an approximately 2.5-million-word recap from New Jersey:

“‘It’s all just some fun,’ the wife assures. Not to Purnsley who, after they begin the humiliating deed, blasts a whiskey bottle clear across Dickie’s face. It’s doesn’t just stop there, however, the beating continues until the booking agent is dead and his wife, in horror, escapes through the window, naked. Purnsley stands there a bloody mess.”

There are some pretty pertinent details missing here. In this review, Dunn seems to be painted as a savage villain, lashing out for no clear reason. That’s not what happens.

Reviewers saw Dunn acting in self-defense (which further reduces his perceived power), not understanding how to do business with white people (blaming his sexuality and ignorance), or lashing out in savage violence without clear motivation.

Reviewers ignore the implications of racism.

Reviewers sideline female characters.

Reviewers do this because too frequently, the lens they are looking through is of the white male experience. This is privilege.

Even when the artifact itself deals with gender and race in a way designed to challenge viewers, reviewers often overlook it. I was uncomfortable, horrified and excited during the premier of Boardwalk Empire this season. I continue to see complex female characters and pointed commentary on racism.

Sally, Margaret and Gillian.

I’m disappointed, then (and even horrified), when critics ignore these aspects, or get them terribly wrong. Their recaps and analyses help shape the conversations surrounding these shows, and if they just focus on those smoke-filled rooms and the power brokers, without fully paying attention to the other characters, they are insulting women, people of color and those who work so hard to write about and represent them.

However, if we can look past the critics, there is much to be excited for in season 4. Still to come this season, Patricia Arquette will play a speakeasy owner andJeffrey Wright will play a Harlem gangster who is seeped in the politics of the Harlem Renaissance. These moments that have made Boardwalk Empireexceptional–the moments of clear gender and racial historical context and commentary–are poised to take center stage in season 4. Hopefully we can all look through the clouds of white male smoke to see what lies ahead.

Boardwalk Empire’s Lady Problem


So, last night’s Boardwalk Empire was pretty great! Seven episodes in and the show is blossoming, the story developing, the characters becoming more nuanced, more interesting. This week we learned about Nucky’s (Steve Buscemi) not-so-great childhood, Margaret (Kelly MacDonald) continued to map the limits of her special relationship, Jimmy (Michael Pitt) took further steps toward becoming a full, frightening bad guy, and we were introduced to a psychologically rich, heartbreaking character who had half of his face blown off during the war. It’s in the context of this — the series’ now established ability to create compelling characters with deep psyches — that we have to call bullshit on one of the show’s now established tendencies: to use the female characters not named Margaret Schroeder as little more than purveyors of the tits, ass, and, in last night’s episode, hot lesbian action HBO feels contractually obligated to provide its viewing audience.

Last night, it was revealed that Angela (Aleksa Palladino), Jimmy’s baby mama, is having sex with a woman. Previously, it had been intimated that she was having sex with said woman’s husband, but nope! Angela is actually in the throes of a Sapphic affair, rendered in golden light, with half-opened robes and much protracted nudity. We’d be more optimistic about this as an interesting character development if, up until now, the character had been interesting. Prior to this, Angela’s been accorded little solo screen time. Mostly, we know that she’s unsettled by Jimmy’s postwar personality but is willing to go down on him anyway, and that she’s not really keen to abandon her toddler son to be raised by his stripper grandma.

Sure, Boardwalk is taking place in a different time, when women were more likely to be thought of as sex object or mothers than equals — but so does Mad Men, and even Betty Draper’s a model of the well-rounded character compared to these chicks. Furthermore, Boardwalk is taking place as women are about to get the right to vote, a historical moment the show has written about. Yet, somehow, this looming event only affects the life of Margaret Schroeder, the show’s one well-developed female character. The other three women are stuck without the vote, just naked plot devices.

This leaves Jimmy’s mother, Gillian (Gretchen Mol), who has flitted in and out of this season, trailing suggestive relationships with both her son and Nucky behind her. Mostly, however, she has appeared servicing Lucky Luciano and his formerly malfunctioning penis. Despite services rendered, he still calls her a “slash” in public. Gillian, like Angela and Lucy, is another underdeveloped character with an overdeveloped sex life.

Sure, Boardwalk is taking place in a different time, when women were more likely to be thought of as sex object or mothers than equals — but so does Mad Men, and even Betty Draper’s a model of the well-rounded character compared to these chicks. Furthermore, Boardwalk is taking place as women are about to get the right to vote, a historical moment the show has written about. Yet, somehow, this looming event only affects the life of Margaret Schroeder, the show’s one well-developed female character. The other three women are stuck without the vote, just naked plot devices.

In the first episode of the series, Nucky and his crew arrive at a working funeral home to inspect the distillery hidden underneath. A mortician is readying a body for burial: It’s a completely naked woman, with autopsy scars and a bouffant of pubic hair. Creepy goofball Mickey Doyle, who has since proven to be a distasteful, sneering moron of the highest order, leeringly points her out. Nucky and Jimmy, our heroes and protagonists, are unimpressed, too mature and worldly to get cheap thrills off a naked body. Maybe in the second half of its first season, Boardwalk Empire will remember to follow their lead.

Boardwalk Manpire

Warning: This post is filled with spoiler alerts for Boardwalk Empire. I tried to avoid them but it was impossible.

Boardwalk Empire is an HBO series based on the bootleggers during the prohibition in Atlantic City. It is written, produced, and often directed by The Sopranos producer/writer Terence Winter, stars ex-Sopranos actor Steve Buscemi, and is produced by Martin Scorsese. When these three men join forces to create a gangster series two things are guaranteed: the show will be brilliant and visually stunning and that the audience will not have to search hard to find sexist tendencies upheld. When I first began this blog I simply started writing all the sexist stereotypes I saw, but considering that this show has already logged 30+ hours of screen time the list became quite exhaustive. Through further analysis I have noticed that the ever apparent sexism can be simplified down to typical Freudian ideals exemplified by the fulfillment of the Oedipus complex, the Victorian virgin-whore dichotomy, as well as a strong case of penis-envy.


In Freidan’s The Feminine Mystique she points out how Freud supports the classical Victorian view of women(1) and Harry Bensoff’s paper(2) points out that the Victorian view of women includes the virgin-whore complex which is easily noticed in Boardwalk Empire. Perhaps the easiest character to fit into a stereotype is Lucy, as the quintessential whore. Buscemi’s character, Nucky Thompson runs the whole city politically and financially as a Republican political boss. To begin the series, Lucy is Nucky’s girlfriend . She is constantly the most provocatively dressed woman on the show (see above image), she is sexually agressive, and has no other role than to solidify Nucky’s role of masculine power by being a concrete sign of his own sexual endeavors. Nucky only introduces her at private parties and never during his public events. If Lucy ever attempts to speak to Nucky about anything substantial he deflects the conversation or ignores her altogether. Nucky leaves Lucy altogether when she takes her sexuality too far and scratches his chest. After Nucky, Lucy sleeps with a prohibition agent Nelson and becomes pregnant. Her pregnancy with Nelson does not reveal anything about her character (except that she is depressed when she cannot be drinking and sleeping around) but the interaction exists purely to develop the character of Nelson as Lucy’s pregnancy marks the beginning of a dramatic character shift. While one could argue that Lucy’s character is representative of a more sexist 1920’s, the fact that her only role in regards to character development and plot progression is to make for more dynamic male characters shows that the present day filmmakers are upholding sexist tendencies. In simpler terms, Lucy could portray the 1920 whore while still playing an important role in the show, but she doesn’t.


Margaret Schroeder is the main female role in the show and really the only female character that is arguably transgressive. She is introduced as the Irish Catholic, housewife, Victorian “virgin” stereotype. She is married to an abusive alcoholic husband, dresses in very modest clothing (see above image), and has no visual sexual life whatsoever. Her husband is killed and she is taken in by Nucky. As her relationship with Nucky grows she gains a personal voice and power in the plot. She becomes overridden with guilt as she becomes involved with such an immoral man. Her guilt is first exposed in this scene with her priest:

She expands her virgin stereotype to become a religious zealot and lowers her own standards to those of the greedy bootleggers that surround her. This leads her to become distant if not disliked by many of her formal friends. This show celebrates men who disregard morals to support their alcohol sales/rise to political power but as soon a women takes part in semi-ganster activities to support her church and other benevolent causes (such as a prenatal center in the hospital) she is ostracized by both her fellow characters and the audience.

Outside of the Lucy-Margaret, virgin-whore complex Freudian sexism comes to light in the form of the Oedipus complex played out by Nucky’s right hand man Jimmy. The Oedipus complex can be summed up by saying every child has the inner desire to kill their father and sleep with their mother. Jimmy doesn’t fulfill the Oedipus complex is some metaphorical way; he LITERALLY kills his father and sleeps with his mother. While Freud presents this complex as applicable to both sexes, it really is male centered. The character of Oedipus was a male and the entire theory rests on the age old father-son competition. A main opponent of Freud was Carl Jung and he recognized the fact that the Oedipus complex was too male centered so he developed the Electra complex, which is the female counterpart of the Oedipus complex (3). So Jimmy fulfills the perfect Freudian man as he adheres to his unconscious desires. Although this didn’t prove to be helpful to Jimmy’s character the exploration of the Oedipus complex shows how Boardwalk Empire is entirely male-centered.

Another way the Oedipus complex can be seen as sexist is by looking at Freud’s proposed mechanism for coping with our unconscious desires; men develop castration anxiety and women develop penis envy. It does not take a psychology expert to understand how that phallic centered viewpoint does not bode well for feminine expression. There is a case of penis envy in the show as well by the female character Gillian. It is first introduced in this clip:

It is then supported (more metaphorically) throughout the season as Gillian constantly battles for the power that the men have over the city. She is sexually expressive as a female but she still desperately craves the authority that comes with being a man in this era.

It is very difficult to understand feminine role in Boardwalk empire because it is a modern day show set in a more sexist society and it falls into the gangster genre which is historically male dominated. It is up to every viewer to decide how much of this sexism is by design and how much comes through subconsciously from the filmmakers. I believe that through the scope of Freudian psychology it can be understood that the show is entirely male centered and the opportunities for women to grow into favorable, powerful roles are shut down by the filmmakers just as quickly as the women would be shut down in the 1920s. And by doing research into the full cast it can be seen that 2/20 credited producers, 0/4 cinematographers, 0/4 art and production designers, and 2/9 writers are women(4) it is tough to argue that the filmmakers are paying particular attention to the role of women.

-Max Jacobs