This research study is dedicated to analyzing how gender is represented and
perceived in the comic book medium, specifically in American superhero comic books and Japanese action-adventure shonen manga genre comics.
The comic book medium has cemented itself as a creative cultural cornerstone
valued by many fans. Despite this, the comic book industry is predominantly male and female comic book characters are scrutinized. (Roberts, 2016).
In response to occurrences like these, survey and interview questions were created for this research study and given to comic book fans and artists respectively for insight into how comic book fans and creators feel about gender representation. As a result, it has been discovered that both male and female comic book fans have diverse opinions on preferable gender representation but tend to agree on certain kinds of character attire being desirable/impractical and how to detect or trust specific kinds of female characters.
Directioners. Believers. Beatlemania. Swifties. Selenators. Trekkies. Hiddlestoners. All of these fandoms are based on one very important factor -- parasocial relationships. A term coined by Donald Horton and Richard Wohl in 1956, a parasocial relationship is used to describe the form of communication between ordinary people and performers in the mass media. These relationships are controlled by the performer based on what they chose to share with their audience. They also lack reciprocity, as the performers don't know nearly as much about each individual as the audience as a whole knows about them. Nonetheless, nearly 70 years after being defined, this perception of a relationship between a performer and a fan has expanded and intensified as mass media consumers our lives and we, the fans, begin to think of the people who we once idolized as friends.
The study conducted took a look at parasocial relationship and the way in which they affect our interactions with celebrities on social media. In addition to basic questions used to understand the demographics of the sample, participants were asked a series of questions involving social media, celebrities, and their tv-watching and music-listening behaviors using Likert scales to allow the individual to express how much they agree or disagree with a particular statement. Although the participants may disagree, some questions were simple, asking for their favorite television shows and musicians. Others required more self-reflection and thought about how they relate to these strangers they say are their favorite people and why they even like them in the first place. Finally, participants were asked to criticize their own use of social media, from the posts they like, their willingness to unfollow a celebrity, and their tendency to comment on posts, if they do at all. Since this study was conducted at a primarily Hispanic, majority-female institution, ethnicity and gender are not as relevant in this study but it is still remarkable that females seem to be more open about their interactions with their favorite celebrities.
More often than not these are people we have never met or spoken to yet we know more about them at times than we know about our friends, family members, or even ourselves. Why is this a thing? How is this a thing? Is there a benefit to it all? These are just some of the questions that arose throughout the study. Through the research conducted, it seems that although there is no end to the extent of a parasocial relationship, there are ways in which they can legitimately benefit people. Of course, today parasocial interactions have grown from simply what we see of television personalities on the shows the star into celebrities and influencers in general, really anyone we interact with through social media.
For the 2016 United States Presidential election, 61.4% of the voting-age population reporting voting, "a number not statistically different from the 61.8% who reported voting in 2012," ("Voting in American", 2017). While race, economic status and age are seen as obvious factors that contribute to an active voter, there are factors that are just as important but have been less researched. If a person was raised in a household that openly discussed politics, are they more likely to actively vote in local, state and national elections? If a person's parents or friends subscribe to a specific political party, how likely is it that a voting-age adult will feel pressured to vote for a certain candidate? Does the type of media that of media that one consumes have an effect on a person's voting habits?
Theses are just a few of the questions that were answered through the research conducted. With the use of printed surveys and later on, an online survey, 102 respondents were asked 24 questions about the voting habits, and the habits of the friends and family. The study shows that most young adults do consider themselves "active voters, and vote in local, state and national elections, although the emphasis is placed on the national election. The research also showed that individuals who grew up in politically active households (their parents voted, they discussed politics, etc.) were more likely to become active voters themselves versus individuals who had parents who did not vote and did not discuss politics. This was despite the fact whether the individuals agreed with their parents about politics. These results suggest that a person's upbringing and who they hang around with does have an effect on the type of voter that they are.