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• Race, ethnicity and colour, like sex, comprise sets of genetically defined, biological characteristics.• However, as with gender, there are also cultural elements in those defining characteristics.
Representation of race in the media canconsist of the same sort of rigid stereotypesthat constitute gender portrayal. However, stereotyping of race is seen asmore harmful than stereotyping of gender, asmedia representation may constitute the onlyexperience of contact with a particular ethnicgroup that an audience (particularly anaudience of children) may have.
Racial stereotypes are often based on socialmyth, perpetuated down the ages. Thus, the media depiction of, say, NativeAmerican Indians, might provide a child withtheir only experience of Native AmericanIndian culture and characters, and mayprovide that child with a set of narrowprejudices which will not be challengedelsewhere within their experience
The need for a more accurate portrayal of thediversity of different races is a priority for politicalagendas, but, as ever, it seems as though it will take awhile for political thinking to filter through to TVprogramme and film-making. Hollywood movies seemto be particular offenders when it comes to lazy racialstereotypes.
African-American Representation A lot of work on Race & Media has focused on the representation of black men and women. This has partly been because there is a strong African- American counter-culture which provides viable alternative role models and demands that they are represented, and partly because some of the early racial stereotypes were so obvious and offensive.
Little Black Sambo (1935)Little Black Sambo demonstrates rigid, reductivestereotyping. But back in 1935 it was seen as harmlessentertainment. If nothing else, this clip helps showthe tremendous cultural shift that has occurred, asthis kind of representation is no longer acceptable Little Black SamboSee also the history of Coon Caricature
In recent years, the success of actors asdiverse as Denzel Washington, Will Smith,Halle Berry, Taraji P. Henson, Naomie Harris,Laurence Fishburne, Keke Palmer and MorganFreeman in roles across the board has meantthat black characters in movies and on TV areno longer stock types. Some of the time.
However, there are many negative representations ofblack people, portrayals which seem deliberatelydesigned to inflame the fear and hatred of othercultures - how positive a representation is thearchetypal African-American gangsta?Yet these are representations coming from withinblack culture itself...
Different viewpoints of African- American RepresentationStop Whining About the Media - is blackrepresentation now proportional?The Persistent Issue of Black Representation onTelevision and why more roles wont fix a thingI Know Black People— effective satire from DaveChappelle
Latinos and Asians (US TV)Attention is now being paid to the representation ofother ethnic groups, notably Asian Americans andLatinos, who represent a much larger proportion ofthe US population than their TV coverage wouldsuggest. Things are changing, but not fast enough.
MANAA Media Action Network for Asian AmericansAsian Stereotypes - A memo demanding some action from Hollywood producers who keep resorting to stock Asian characters:
Asian Americans as foreigners whocannot be assimilated. Because they areracially and culturally distinctive fromthe American mainstream, Asian peoplehave been widely seen as unable to beabsorbed into American society.According to this view, anything Asian isthus inherently "alien" to America.
Asian cultures as inherently predatory. For decades,Americans have viewed Asian immigrants as "taking"from this country without giving anything back. Thisperception was reinforced by early laws making itdifficult for Asians to immigrate and impossible forthem to become naturalized citizens. Although theselaws have since been repealed, the image of the Asianas alien predator still infuses popular media. In the1993 movie "Falling Down," for example, the whitemain character accuses a Korean grocer of drainingAmerican resources without bothering to fit intoAmerican society.
Asian Americans restricted to clichédoccupations. Asians and Asian Americans make theirliving in a wide array of professions, but too often,Asian American professionals are depicted in a limitedand predictable range of jobs: restaurant workers,Korean grocers, Japanese businessmen, Indian cabdrivers, TV anchorwomen, martial artists, gangsters,faith healers, laundry workers, and prostitutes. Thismisrepresents the diversity of the Asian Americanwork force
Asian racial features, names, accents, or mannerismsas inherently comic or sinister. Because distinctiveAsian characteristics are less common in the UnitedStates, movies and TV shows often fall back on themfor quick and easy gags or gasps Fisher Stevens as Ben Jabituya Ben Jabituva
Asians relegated to supporting roles in projects withAsian or Asian American content. Usually, when aproject features Asian subject matter, the maincharacter will still be white. "The Killing Fields" and"Seven Years in Tibet" are only two efforts that followthis "rule."
Asian male sexuality as negative or non-existent.Although Asian women are frequently portrayed aspositive romantic partners for white men("Sayonara," "The World of Suzie Wong," adinfinitum), Asian men are almost never positivelypaired with women of any race. Western society stillseems to view Asian male sexuality as a problem.Consequently, Asian men are usually presented eitheras threatening corrupters of white women or aseunuchs lacking any romantic feelings.
Unmotivated white-Asian romance. In "Daughter ofthe Dragon," the daughter of Fu Manchu lays her eyeson a British detective and instantly falls in love withhim. "The Bounty" and "Come See the Paradise" alsocontain scenes where an Asian woman falls in lovewith a white man at first sight. The repetition of thisconceit sends the signal that Asian women areromantically attracted to white men because they arewhite . It insinuates that whiteness is inherently moreimportant than any other romantic quality andinherently more appealing than any other skin color.
What, no Asians? The movie "Robin Hood:Prince of Thieves" commendably found aplace for a prominent black character in theunlikely setting of Medieval England. Bycontrast, contemporary TV shows set in largecities--"L.A. Law," "Chicago Hope," "MurphyBrown," etc.--dont include a single regularAsian American character. Whats wrong withthis picture? Asian people live all over theworld and in every region of the U.S.
Anti-Asian racial slurs going unchallenged.Words such as "chink," "Chinaman," "Jap,""Nip," "gook," "slope," "slant-eye," and"wog" are offensive to most Asian Americans.Unfortunately, not all non-Asians recognizethe offensiveness of these terms. Forexample, the 1997 movie "Absolute Power"has one of its heroes use the word"Chinaman" in an off-handed manner
See Also:Letter from MANAA to Paramount re: The LastAirbenderAn overview of Asian portrayals from The MediaPortrayal ProjectLatino Presence on and in US MediaLatino Portrayals in the MediaRace And Culture on Dexter
Race on UK TVRacism on TV in the UK exploded as a global issue in2007, as Shilpa Shetty was subjected to vicious racialslurs by her (white) housemates. As Shetty is a well-loved Bollywood star, there was an outcry inIndia, and there were widespread objections to bothher treatment and Channel 4s decision to broadcastit.
A record 40,000+ complaints were logged bythe broadcasters watchdog, OFCOM. The rowreached the House of Commons, and becamepart of a national debate on theundercurrents in the UKs supposedly multi-cultural society. Subsequently, Channel 4became very sensitive when it came toallegations of racism, and housemate EmilyParr was speedily removed from the non-celebrity house later that year for using aracial epithet
However, race remains a hot buttonissue on UK TV, both in fiction and non-fiction programming, largely becauseits always going to attract headlines —and sell copies of the Daily Mail.
Race is inextricably tangled with theimmigration issue and questions ofnational identity.What does it mean to be British in the2010s? Given that modern Britain ispopulated by a diverse range of people,do national media outlets representdifferent colours and ethnicitiesproportionally?Fairly?
Whether its an "all black" episode ofEastenders or a hard-hitting edition ofPanorama about teenage racists on aLondon housing estate, there willcontinue to be heated discussions abouthow different races are represented,and how that representation affects theway people treat each other in reality
Task:Find a clip of any UK TV Drama where there is a negative,stereotypical representation of race and explain why youthink this a negative portrayalFind a clip of a UK TV drama where this negative portrayalisnt presentExplain the differences and contrast the 2 characters,focusing on how the key micro elements reinforce thisrepresentation.Your work should be presented as a word document withannotated images.