White collar is one of the famous series not only in America but also in different parts of the world, which premiered on October 23, 2009. The story revolves around the wits of a young man, Neal Caffrey, who has a criminal record with the FBI. He has been involved in crimes such as forgery, theft/robbery besides being a con man. The first part of the series begins with the main character, Neal, being held in a prison for the crimes that he had committed. However, it does not take long before he figures out a way to escape from the prison. He uses his knowledge that he had acquired through the many criminal activities that he had been involved in to develop a key card that enables him to walk from the prison to the outside world. Peter Burke, the FBI agent that put Neal behind bars, begins to search for Neal, finds him and takes him back to prison. To free himself from prison, Neal uses his knowledge to help Burke uncover as well as apprehend one of the notorious criminals in the city. On realizing Neal’s ability to solve the hardest crimes, Peter Burke hires Neal to assist in unveiling criminal tactics, which prove to be rather difficult. It is an ideal depiction of not only the formal but also the informal relationships between various members of the society.
The film has two types of audience. One of them is comprised of all the law enforcement bodies not only in America but also in other parts of the world. They need to look at the both sides of any person that is convicted with a crime(s). This can be achieved by looking at the criminal record of an individual and watching them closely to identify any skill that they might be having. Additionally, the activities of the criminals, while under surveillance, can tell much about the hidden aspects especially the special traits that they may possess. Unveiling the capabilities of the criminals can be useful in tackling complicated crimes that might need the services of an individual who has been involved in such or a similar crime. However, the film cautions the law enforcement agents that despite their usefulness in the society, such individuals even when out of the prison need to be kept under surveillance. Peter Burke portrays this aspect when he places Neal under house arrest and keeping a close eye on him. It is noteworthy that the law enforcement agent ought to give such individuals a chance to exploit their full capacity. Additionally, they should not look down upon such individuals to avoid steering them to committing more crimes. In the film, Burke, takes all precautions to keep Neal under close watch without interfering with the latter’s assignments. In addition, he did not allow the trained agents to look down upon him an aspect that enabled him to remain resourceful in the agency.
The second type of audience includes the young and vibrant individuals in the society. It informs them that no matter the circumstances, one can always use their potential to better their life. Despite knowing the risks that were involved in breaking out of the prison, Neal understood it was the ticket to a better life. The failure of his initial plan keep him out of prison did not make him give up. When he is taken to the prison for a second time, he devices a way of making the FBI agent believe in him and get him out of prison. This urges not only the young people but also the other members of the society not to give up the pursuit of their freedom or rather success. It also encourages the youth to remain resourceful to the nation despite the circumstances. Neal remains vibrant in the service to the community under the FBI despite his restricted movement-house arrest. It is noteworthy that Neal demonstrated the great knowledge in technology that could have helped him temper with the house arrest device-the ‘anklet’. However, he chose to remain faithful to the agency because he knew that he was helpful to the team as well as the society.
Peter Burke, the prominent FBI agent has been portrayed as an active male stereotype. Such a character is given a cluster of instrumental male traits. He has been portrayed as an active leader, aggressive, objective, independent as well as competitive. He is actively involved in the search for Neal and takes all measures in his power to keep him under control even if this means to disagree with some of the key people in the agency. For instance, he disagreed with Fowler, his superior, for interfering with Neal’s ‘anklet’. Additionally, he comes up with a plan to get his position at the FBI back after his expulsion from the agency. This portrays his aggressiveness. Burkes wife also is an active female stereotype. A cluster of affective traits describes female stereotypes: as emotional, subjective, tactful, aware of the feelings of others, and having their feelings easily hurt (Aeres 164). Throughout the entire first season, Burke’s wife possesses these traits that are evident in her interaction with not only her husband but also Neal. Some of the characters in the series were unfavorable stereotypes. The major character that portrays such a trait is Fowler. He is hardheaded, ruthless and boastful. He uses his power in the agency to manipulate people e.g. he withdraws Peter’s powers, as a senior FBI agent because they do not agree on certain issues among which is the position of Neal in the FBI. This can be termed as a show off-his power in the agency. Additionally, he withholds Kate (Neal’s girlfriend) and threatens to kill her if he does not avail the music box. Towards the end of the first season, though a mere speculation, he sets ablaze the jet that Kate and Neal were to travel in killing the former.
Women in the society are still under some form of male chauvinism as is the case of Fowler and Kate. Fowler uses Kate as a tool to get to Neal (her boyfriend). By withholding Kate, Fowler makes Neal to steal the music box from the Italian embassy. After he receives the box, he treats her as if she is expendable. As aforementioned, Fowler planted an explosive device in the plane that causes the death of Kate. In a different perspective, I believe that Kate undermined her power as a woman to overcome the chauvinistic behavior of Fowler. She even tells Neal not to come near her because she was afraid of what would happen to both of them.
As far as gender performativity is concerned, activities of the main characters in the film depict the ideal picture of men and women in the society. The woman remains submissive. She does everything within her power to be at par with the desires and wishes of the man in her life. She is not supposed to question his decisions and activities (Williams, and Dellinger 29). Peter Burke not only believes that it is his responsibility to take care of the wife, he does all he can to protect his wife from all sorts of harm. This is evident in the instance when he confronts Fowler and some FBI agents who wanted to put her under arrest due to some issues concerning her business. Additionally, he treats her with respect and does everything to please her. He goes to the extent of consulting Neal about the best place that he can take her for their anniversary. On the other hand, Neal is willing to do everything for the sake of the well-being of Kate. He risks his life by breaking into an embassy to obtain the object that would guarantee her safety-the music box. I believe that his determination to be with Kate was the main reason that he could not bid good bye to Burke since as he says, Burke is the only person who could make him change his mind.
Despite their careers, their value for gender and sexuality still hold in the lives of the characters. For instance, Elizabeth (Peter’s wife) understands her role as a woman and gives her husband all the support that he needs in his work. In one of the instances, when Peter is working as an undercover agent (a role that requires him to flirt with a woman), she gives him some tricks on how to do it. Both of them value their relationship/marriage and are devoted in doing everything to make it strong. They have been married for over ten years. It is my opinion that such an amazing relationship can only be attained by individuals who value who they are, as far as gender and sexuality is concerned. The other example or rather couple that has depicted such a stand is Neal and Kate. During the times when Neal and Peter’s work relationship becomes a bit sour, Neal always approaches Elizabeth for help. I strongly believe that the motherly nature of Elizabeth (as a woman) makes her to act as the bridge between the two-she treats him like a son.
Both men and women in the film have advanced in their careers. They are well able to manage their roles as defined by nature (gender) as well as excel in their careers. Women have been able to take up careers that are as challenging as those of their male counterparts are. For instance, Diana Barrigan is an effective FBI agent capable of performing all the duties within her job description. She works with both Peter Burke and Neal in investigative FBI missions. Another prominent woman in the film is Sara Ellis. She is one of the dedicated insurance investigators who have worked with Sterling Bosch and Neal. Elizabeth is also a successful businessperson. The film does not have instances that portray male gaze. I think that this is because most of the characters value the opposite sex. If one valued their gender or that of their colleagues, there would be minimal or no cases of male gaze as well as the objectifying of the females. Nevertheless, most of the scenes in the film depict people who are serious in their work an aspect that could override such behaviors in the characters involved.
White Collar is an ideal depiction of not only the formal but also the informal relationships between various members of the society. The main characters in the film are active favorable gender stereotypes. Burke and Neal are competitive, aggressive, objective and independent. On the other hand, the women such as Elizabeth portray the ideal nature of women. They are caring, submissive, supportive and emotional. They also understand the different emotions of the people in their life. As far as gender and sexuality is concerned, I believe that the characters value their gender and nothing that they do violates the cultural belief on their role in the society. Women support their husbands, as is the case with Elizabeth and Peter, while husbands do everything in their power to protect their wives. However, there are some traces of male chauvinism in the society- some men use women as tools of fulfilling their selfish interests (Mcllvenny 100). For instance, Fowler uses Kate to obtain the music box after which he kills her by planting a bomb in the jet she was to use in leaving the country. There are no cases of male gaze in the film. As aforementioned, I believe that two factors are essentially responsible for this aspect. First, everyone appreciates the essence of gender in the society. Secondly, perhaps the no-nonsense working environment hinders such behaviors in the film.
Aires, Elizabeth. Men and Women in Interaction: Reconsidering the Differences. Cary, NC:
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Mcllvenny, Paul. Talking Gender and Sexuality. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing
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Williams, Christine, and Dellinger, Kirsten. Gender and Sexuality in the Work Place. Bradford,
GBR: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd, 2010. Print.