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Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
Wilkinson U Navarra Day2
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Wilkinson U Navarra Day2


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  • 1. Representation of Social Groups in U.S. and International Media Kent Wilkinson Regents Professor in Hispanic and International Communication Texas Tech University Universidad de Navarra Lecture – Day Two, April 13, 2010
  • 2. Outline for Today’s Session
    • Discuss concept of social representation in media
    • Brief history of representation of African Americans, Asians and Hispanics in U.S. media
    • Discussion of ethnic-oriented media and the Native American sports names issue
    • Break
    • Discuss select student homework submissions
    • Focus on media representation of diverse cultures in international news and entertainment programming.
    • Examine representation of Arabs/Muslims in Western media.
  • 3. Key Concepts
    • Representation - The process by which a constructed media text stands for, symbolizes, describes or represents people, places, events or ideas that are real and have an existence outside the text. ( The Language of Media Literacy: A Glossary of Terms )
    • Symbolic Annihilation – a concept drawing a close relationship between media representation and social power: those groups that are underrepresented or invisible in media are devalued in society.
  • 4. Key Concepts: Cognition
    • In order to make sense of a complex world, people tend to form mental categories in which to organize information (called ‘ schema ’ by some cognitive psychologists).
    • Ethnicity, race and gender are common categories used to cognitively organize information about other people.
    • The media reinforce such categories by asking audiences to draw from generalized information to fill in the background on characters, social groups appearing in the news, entertainment content, etc.
    • When generalizations are overly simplistic or exaggerated they become stereotypes .
  • 5. Stereotyping
    • Stereotype – a schema for people we perceive as belonging to a social group.
    • Stereotypes can go beyond telling us who others are, they can tell us why they are that way.
    • “… the cultural stereotype seems to play an important role in how we process information about people from various groups regardless of whether we endorse it.” (R.A. Lind, 2004, p. 15)
    • People’s attributions about others’ behaviors are biased in favor of their ingroups. Thus members of dominant social groups support their own superiority and reinforce the subordinate position of minority groups.
  • 6. Representations of Non-Whites in the 19 th century U.S.
    • Native Americans as ‘noble savages’ and impediments to Western expansion of Anglo Americans. (Manifest Destiny)
    • Blacks treated as property, inferior beings, and morally ‘tainted.’
    • Hispanics portrayed as unclean, lazy, untrustworthy.
    • Asian immigration caused fear of ‘Yellow Peril;’ image of Chinese shifts from positive (hardworking, thrifty, honest) to negative (immoral, deceitful).
  • 7. African Americans
    • Often occupy comedic roles.
    • Whites played black characters in minstrel shows of early 20 th century. (“blackface”)
    • Black men often portrayed as shifty, lazy, clownish.
    • Black women often portrayed in one of two roles:
      • Sapphire – the ‘Mammy” figure. Overweight, dark-skinned, asexual, bossy.
      • Jezebel – Loose, sexually-aggressive woman who uses sex to manipulate men.
    • Video: “Small Steps: Big Screen”
  • 8. Hispanics
    • Negative portrayals of Mexicans in Hollywood ‘greaser’ films of the early 20 th century.
    • Ramirez-Berg identified these film stereotypes of Hispanic men :
        • El Bandido - treacherous, shifty, emotional, irrational, dishonest, violent
        • Buffoon - simple-minded, language-challenged, overly-emotional.
        • Latin Lover - dashing, magnetic male ‘Other;’ suave, sensual, sexually-dangerous
  • 9. Hispanics
    • Ramirez-Berg identified these film stereotypes of Hispanic wo men :
        • The Halfbreed Harlot - lusty, hot-tempered, dishonest, “a slave to her passions.”
        • The Female Clown - the male buffoon’s female counterpart; negates the Harlot’s overt sexual threat.
        • The Dark Lady - mysterious, virginal, aloof, circumspect; intriguing to Anglo men.
    • Video: “Fools Rush In”
  • 10. Asian Americans
    • Waves of immigration in the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries turned a largely positive image negative.
    • World War II and the communist revolution in China led to increased suspicion of Japanese and Chinese in 1940s. (Japanese internment camps)
    • Since World War II, Asian Americans have been stereotyped as a “model minority:”
      • Hardworking
      • Good students
      • Thrifty
    • The model minority stereotype masks less successful Asian Americans as well as anti-Asian discrimination.
  • 11. Ethnic-oriented Media
    • Vehicles to:
      • Inform and entertain specific populations in their own languages and cultural terms
      • Organize a population politically
      • Counter negative representations in mainstream media
    • As the “Ethnic Media in America” report indicates, ethnic media are growing quickly.
    • U.S. Census Bureau projections for 2050:
        • Non-Hispanic Whites 52.8%
        • Hispanics 24.3%
        • Blacks 13.2%
        • Asian/Pacific Islander 8.9%
        • American Indian/Eskimo 8%
  • 12. A Brief History of the Sports Team Mascot Issue
      • 1969 - Native American activists pressure Dartmouth College to change "Indians" nickname to "Big Green.”
    • 1970 - Protests against the Cleveland Indians’ use of "Chief Wahoo" mascot
    • 1972 - Petition by American Indian students at Stanford University lead the school to drop "Indian" sports team nickname and logos.
      • 1989 - Charlene Teters, a Native American graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, initiates efforts to eliminate that school's "Chief Illiniwek" mascot.
  • 13. A Brief History of the Sports Team Mascot Issue
    • 1992 – NFL Super Bowl between Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins drew ~2,000 protesters
    • 1995 – MLB World Series between Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians is called “World Series of Racism” by protesters and their supporters
    • 1997 - Jay Rosenstein's documentary "In Whose Honor" is aired nationally on the Public Broadcasting System TV show "Point of View.“
      • 1998 - National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) determines that "Indian mascots that promote Indian caricatures and mimic ceremonial rites do not comply with the NCAA's commitment to ethnic student welfare.“
  • 14. How Mascot Defenders and Opponents Differ
    • Mascot Defenders
    • Mascots honor Native Americans
    • Stress text (honor and intention)
    • Isolate argument from other social/historical factors
    • Minimize the importance of symbols
    • Deflect and deny the importance of race
    • Mascot Opponents
    • Mascots denigrate Native Americans
    • Stress context (history and racism)
    • Make connections to other social/historical factors
    • See symbols as powerful cultural forms
    • Highlight the importance of race
    From: Miller, Jackson B. (1999). “Indians,” “Braves” and “Redskins”: A performative struggle for control of an image. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 85 , 188-202.
  • 15. Cartoonists’ Editorials from
  • 16. The Third World on TV News: Western Ways of Seeing the ‘Other’
    • 2 dimensions of “Ways of Seeing”:
      • the world as depicted in TV news reports
      • the negotiated relationship between a medium and its audience
    • Dahlgren and Chakarapani’s goals:
      • reveal how U.S. TV network news creates the Third World for its viewers
      • understand how the audience makes meaning by interpreting news reports
  • 17. The Third World on TV News: Western Ways of Seeing the ‘Other’
    • Motifs and Sub-Motifs
      • Major themes and sub-themes the Western TV news uses in covering people, events and processes in the ‘Third World’
    • Bi-polar Opposites:
      • concept borrowed from structural anthropology (Claude Levi Strauss)
      • we understand others through their difference from us (and vice versa)
    • Dispositional Orientation:
      • the Western viewers’ attitude toward the Third World as evoked by frames used in TV news reports
  • 18. Dahlgren & Chakarapani’s model
      • What “ways of seeing” the U.S. do people in Spain (or other nations) through viewing local/national news reports about the U.S.?
  • 19. Entertainment Media
    • Narrative Utility of Stereotyping – fitting characters into established categories is efficient, having explain their traits is not.
    • Ideology, the set of beliefs that guides a culture, is often reflected in, and sometimes influenced by, media content. Ideology is often “naturalized.”
    • Viewers learn about society’s rules, norms and power structures (partly) through film.
    • Gender inequality is prevalent in film narratives.
  • 20. Representation of Arabs/Muslims
    • In Reel Bad Arabs (2001/2009) Jack G. Shaheen identified 5 archetypes of Arabs in Western media:
      • Villains - greasy womanizers hell-bent on destruction and violence
      • Sheikhs - “stooges-in-sheets, slovenly, hook-nosed potentates intent on capturing pale-faced blondes for their harem” (p. 25)
      • Maidens - bosomy bellydancers, Beasts of Burden, shapeless bundles of black, serpents and vampires, or bombers
      • Egyptians – deceitful, caricatured from mummies to Pharaohs
      • Palestinians – terrorists; never portrayed as victims or as innocents who suffer under Israeli occupation
    • Shaheen reminds us that only about 12% of Muslims are Arabs.
  • 21. Representation of Arabs/Muslims
  • 22. Representation of Arabs/Muslims
    • Recall the controversy over the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005 (self-censorship v. open criticism of Islam)
    • Other controversies regarding Muslims in Europe:
      • Ban on minarets in Switzerland (Nov. 2009 referendum)
      • Rioting by Muslim youth in France in 2005 after two men’s deaths
      • Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh killed in 2004
      • Islamic scarf (hijab) conflict in France (since 1989)
    • These incidents, others, and the War on Terror since 9/11 have intensified tensions between Islam and the West. Can media help ease tensions? If so, how?
  • 23. Closing Thoughts
    • Avenues for positive change in international media representations:
      • Encourage/Teach Critical Thinking – the ability to examine issues rationally, logically and coherently by providing adequate responses to key questions.
      • Advocacy - active support of an idea or cause, etc.; the deliberate process of influencing those who make policy decisions. (ex: Native Amer. mascots issues)
      • Teach Media Literacy – the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate media messages.
      • Producing media that is representative of and relevant to non-dominant, non-mainstream communities, experience and goals.
  • 24.
    • Thank you for your
    • kind attention.
    • Have a great afternoon.