by Ellen Gillingham
I attended the Black Museum on November 7, 2012 at 6:30PM in Holzapfel Hall at the University of Maryland, College Park. The event consisted of several exhibits of graduate student work. Themes focused on identity formation and ranged from African women to transgender iconography.
One particular display resonated with me the most because it connected to our class, Gender and Spectacular Consumption. This was “Mapping the Black Subject in Online Trans Vlogger Networks” by Avery Dame (Dame). It was a very technologically advanced piece, which featured a mapping of transgender presence on the internet with subscriptions on YouTube. Transgender people of color are less visible on the internet. The graphic showed how few images there are for this community and how YouTube increases the iconicity and visibility. Definitional images are sought out and take meaning beyond the singular individual. Additionally, it shows how the internet, which is supposed to be this virtually visible space, still marks certain bodies invisible and unavailable.
I found it interesting to see this piece after reading Gender and Popular Culture. The section about representation shows how there is an issue of representation examining how women and men are portrayed. Milestone and Meyers suggest that popular culture reflects a dichotomy of women as “vamps or virgins” (Milestone and Meyer 107). The normative bodies and stereotypes are the iconic images.
Representations of femininity are often problematic as displayed by both Flash Mob projects, while Dame’s piece asked for more representations of black transgender individuals. This raised the question: What makes more representations of a group helpful? and What keeps the representations from reinforcing negative stereotypes?
Dame, Avery. Mapping the Black Subject in Online Trans Vlogger Networks. University of Maryland. Black Museum. College Park, 2012. Web.
Milestone, Katie and Anneke Meyer. Gender and Popular Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012. Print.