Lily and Blair Waldorf, or “queen bee,” from childhood

Lily GardnerMrs. MackSociology 727 December 2017Gossip Girl The American teen drama Gossip Girl is a television series created by Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz based on the series of books Cecily von Ziegesar wrote.  It contains six seasons originally running for “The CW” premiering from September 19, 2007, to December 17, 2012, and is now available for showing on Netflix.  Each episode runs about forty-two minutes long and is told by an omniscient narrator, voiced by Kristen Bell, who blogs under the pseudonym “Gossip Girl.”  The plot consumes the fictional lives of Manhattan’s privileged adolescents and their romantic entanglements with various antagonists being rotated in and out.  Screenwriter Joshua Safran develops Serena van der Woodsen, also known as the “it girl,” and Blair Waldorf, or “queen bee,” from childhood best friends at Constance Saint Jude prep school to stunning socialites who occasionally engage in reconciliations as their secrets trigger rivalries.  The story also follows the Brooklyn aspiring writer and scholarship student Daniel Humphrey, or “lonely boy”; the womanizing “bad boy,” arrogant heir of Manhattan’s elite Chuck Bass; and the Vanderbilt descendant and most qualified bachelor Nate Archibald.  The supporting actors in the scenes are: Vanessa Abrams, Daniel’s friend from childhood; Jenny Humphrey, Daniel’s rebellious sister; Rufus Humphrey, Daniel and Jenny’s father and former Lincoln Hawk rockstar; and Lily van der Woodsen, an heiress and Serena’s mother.  Viewers may be too distracted by the flashy, overpriced lives of New York’s Upper East side to detect the show’s following hidden concepts: stigma, ascribed status, achieved status, conformity, media framing, role conflict, symbols, and class.  These sociological concepts are reinforced and selected in Gossip Girl to address specific portrayals of stereotypes, social norms, and values. In today’s society having an illness is a stigma.  A stigma is any physical or social attribute or sign that disgraces a person.  One not only has to deal with the symptoms and treatment of the disease, but also the challenge of society’s prejudices that can result in the devaluation of the person.  Moreover, stigmas may disqualify a person from full social acceptance.  In season one of Gossip Girl, viewers first meet Serena’s brother Eric van der Woodsen when Serena visits him at the Ostroff Treatment Center.  Lily van der Woodsen locked Eric away in this mental institution because of his suicide attempt even though the doctors did not mandate his stay.  Because of Lily’s fear of public accusations and disapproval of her parenting skills, she states that Eric is in Miami visiting his Aunt Carol.  Lily was concerned with the stigma that came along with Eric’s mental illness, because, unlike a physical illness, the public may perceive Eric as responsible and in control of his decision.  Furthermore, society is more likely to degrade Eric labeling him weak and neglected by his family rather than to pity him.   Money and connections are imperative in forming a status in the Upper East Side.  The status of these adolescents, either ascribed or achieved, defines their social position, relationships, and power attached to them.  An ascribed status is a social position that is a birthright or received involuntary later in life.  In Gossip Girl, having an ascribed status of wealth is a norm.  The show revolves around the recipe of trust funds, prep schools, skyline penthouses, luxurious parties, designer clothes, and absentee parents.  Their summers are fueled by an appetite for cocktails and romance in the Hamptons with their family’s money.  Daniel Humphrey, for example, is referenced throughout the show as an “outsider” because he is from Brooklyn and struggles to achieve a new status.  Being from Brooklyn in this show is a sin and enough to assign someone a master status of a pariah.  Chuck Bass is another character who ascribed his career from his parents.  Chuck inherited Bartholomy Bass’s multi-million dollar construction business called Bass Industries after his father’s death.  Also, this birth rite of wealth creates opportunities and unfair advantages, such as when applying for college.  A few seasons of the show focus on the stress of Ivy League interviews and acceptance letters.  Attending one of these expensive, prestigious institutions is a norm for Constance Saint Jude prep school students.  Because Daniel Humphrey is from Brooklyn and excluded from this premise of privilege, he has trouble getting into a school even though his grades are exceptional. The ideal, effortless world of the Upper East Side is a facade.  Some of Gossip Girl’s characters do achieve a status through direct effort, merit, and personal choice.  An achieved status is a social position assumed voluntarily through personal ability and competition.  However, that achieved status does not always have to be positive.  Howard Archibald, Nate’s father, achieved the master status of a convict after getting into trouble with drug use and possession.  His arrest for fraud and embezzlement makes the front page of the paper, as he was a famous stockbroker prior to the incident.  He achieved this status because of competition within the industry and his drive to succeed at any means possible.  Even though achieved statuses are deeply influenced by ascribed statuses and those who have privileged ascribed statuses are more likely to achieve a more prestigious status in later life, Howard’s piles of money led him to boredom and experimentation.  Therefore, the money ultimately paved his path to abusing his wealth and making bad choices. The Upper East Side is mirage-like in its decadence and failure to conform will leave a person labeled as an outcast.  Conformity is the change in social behavior due to the group’s social behavior influence.  Jenny Humphrey is a prime example of an interloper who finds herself looking from the outside in on this lifestyle.  The challenge of her getting into an elite private school is not a struggle at all; rather, it is for her to survive by keeping up with the latest bag trend and arriving in a limo.  Her personality, style, and priorities adjust to match the tone of Blair’s minions.  Instead of being responsible and studying, Jenny spends her time going on yogurt runs and writing exclusive party invitations.  This is due to the fact that, in reality, if she was not a slave to Blair, she would be belittled.  She even goes the extra mile of sewing fabrics together to make knock-off pieces of high-end brands to keep up with the fad.  In the end, Jenny Humphrey thrusts back into the “real world” of Brooklyn coffee shops and public school boyfriends and fails to conform.      Gossip Girl relied on the premise of drugs, sex, and a roller coaster of romances to cajole their audience into becoming fixated on this series.  Because of the show’s massive success ratings after season one, many companies saw Gossip Girl as a marketing opportunity for media framing.  Media framing is the postmodern perspective on the sociology analysis of culture.  The concept questions when entertainment ends and advertising or product placement begins.  Product placement is a pricey strategy in which companies, manufacturers, and providers of goods incorporate their product into a form of media with the goal of gaining exposure for the product.  Gossip Girl is infamous for product placement.  Verizon Wireless was the first company to jump on this marketing opportunity and sign a contract with the show.  For five seasons, the characters were seen using the phone of the company’s choice.  In return, Verizon Wireless created a website where Gossip Girl ringtones could be downloaded.  During filming in the Hamptons, executives of Vitamin Water inquired The CW for a partnership.  Agreeing, Joshua Safran wrote the drinks into the script.  The placement deal helped to pay for the immense costs of shooting in this location.  Other deals, such as HP TouchPad in season six, L’Oreal, Target, and Johnson & Johnson, helped Gossip Girl earn a total of about twenty eight million dollars in 2007.   Young girls imitate the characters’ bags and clothing; therefore, the hypothesis that viewers will also copy the technology, shampoo, and more is reasonable.The characters in the turbulent scenes of Manhattan occupy a number of roles.  Each role contains a set a rights, expectations, norms, and behaviors that a person has to meet.  Over time, the amount of incompatible demands placed on a person increase and lead to role conflict.  Gossip Girl uses this sociological concept to portray the role conflict between Blair and her mother, Eleanor Waldorf.  In season five, Eleanor tells Blair she wishes to retire from Waldorf Designs and designate her as chief executive officer.  However, a short time after Blair turns the well respected fashion empire’s style to promiscuous and sexy, Eleanor suggests that she return to the company and work together.  Being a mother and a boss is a prime example of a role conflict.  This relationship will pull a person in multiple directions and force him or her to balance the many statuses they hold.  Because Blair is still an adolescent, the two find themselves in power struggles quite frequently.  In season one episode four, Eleanor confronts her daughter about a prior business meeting that took place,  “And as my daughter I knew that you would forgive me.  In time.  But if my company had lost this deal because of you… I’d never forgive myself.”  This quote is a situation in which an individual is fulfilling two conflicting roles and forced to prioritize.The dazzling Blair Waldorf is the toast of Gossip Girl’s blasts and, furthermore, envied by an entire population of followers.  Her marriage to Chuck Bass was the pinnacle of Gossip Girl’s posts and symbolized a new era.  However, the physical wedding ring symbolizes a much greater meaning than just the bondage of love between two human beings.  Symbols are anything that meaningfully represents something else.  The symbol can produce loyalty or division because it does not have to have the same meaning for everyone.  The wedding band for Blair not only represented her eternal love and faith to Chuck, but also freedom.  When Blair walks in on a confrontation between Chuck and his father, she is a key witness of Bart’s accident death.  Because only a spouse has the privilege of asserting their right to not testify against their significant other, Blair married Chuck.  A second example of a symbol in Gossip Girl, follows this incident when Lily van der Woodsen mourns the death of her husband.  She wears black to symbolize her feelings of grief and sorrow.Gossip Girl’s representation of class on the Upper East Side is very twenty first century.  Class refers to a group of people with similar levels of wealth, influence, and status.  Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz glamorize the character’s upper class so much that the poor is inevitably ignored.   The so called “charity galas” are more for respect and social perks than benefiting the poor.  Moreover, Gossip Girl is known for blowing up simple issues of the wealthy and making them seem drastically more strenuous than how they are in reality.  Blair Waldorf expresses her disgust for anyone lower than her numerous times in the show.  The steps of the Met are territorialized by Blair, and the higher anc loser you sit the Blair the more power you have.  Gossip girl points out Serena’s intrusion in season one by blogging, “Spotted on the steps of the Met: an S. and B. power struggle.  Did S think she could waltz home and things would be just like they were?”  Blair’s ascribed status is a prime factor on how she emulates her power. The models of sociology are illuminated in numerous forms of mass media, such as movies, documentaries, books, and television shows.  A lot of pop culture today broadcasts a misrepresentation of the rags to riches American dream in an attempt to reach the audience’s attention.  Gossip Girl brings to light some of the stereotypes and misconceptions found in these concepts.  The series directs attention to society’s prejudices, ideologies regarding class, the problems wealth endures, the difficulty to integrate, and compartmentalizing roles in exaggerated depictions.  Overall, the show’s outlook on the rich can be greatly shown through the explanations of sociology approaches.