TV Tokenism

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Slides without video clips of the updated version of TV Tokenism for American Studies Day at New Trier High School.

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TV Tokenism

  1. 1. 1 This is a Black Screen
  2. 2. 2 TV Tokenism Spiro Bolos ➔ American Studies Day ➔ “Media & Democracy”
  3. 3. 3 The Past Spike Lee’s Bamboozled Multiple examples of the negative portrayal of African- Americans in last 50 years Similarities to today’s sitcoms?
  4. 4. 4 Spike Lee’s Bamboozled
  5. 5. 5 The Present Purpose of TV Shows Prized Demographics “Follow the Money” Dramas vs. Sitcoms
  6. 6. 6 30 Rock: “Racism is Back.”
  7. 7. 7 The Future Is TV Tokenism real? If so, is it a problem? If it is a problem, what, if anything, should be done? How does it mirror the tokenism in our society? What are some other examples you can cite?
  8. 8. 8 “Networks scrambled to create more diverse casts after being criticized by the NAACP three years ago.” SOURCE: “US Watches TV in Black and White”, Duncan Campbell in The Guardian, 2/6/03
  9. 9. 9 Result? “TV Tokenism” Dramas: Main Character is white or white-looking Main Character is center of story-line (obviously) Main Character is complex and can be morally ambiguous (conflicted) Main Character receives bulk of screen time
  10. 10. 10 Result? “TV Tokenism” Dramas: Supporting Character is a “token” minority Supporting character may be in a prestigious and/ or “buddy” position Supporting character is rarely complicated Supporting character receives little screen time or relegated to subplots, only
  11. 11. 11 30 Rock: “the Diversity Guy”
  12. 12. 12 Examples... ABC: “LOST”
  13. 13. 13 “LOST started out in Season 1 as an ethnically diverse show with a lot of potentially intriguing male and female characters.”
  14. 14. 14 “Now it is, to a large degree, a story about the epic, heroic or anti-heroic journeys of a bunch of white men.”
  15. 15. 15 “Non-white or female characters — with a few exceptions — just aren’t in the foreground of the main narrative most of the time.” SOURCE: “Let’s Talk ‘Lost’: Mother Load”, Maureen Ryan in the Chicago Tribune, 5/12/10
  16. 16. 16 Examples... FOX: “Fringe”
  17. 17. 17 Examples... ABC: “FlashForward”
  18. 18. 18 FlashForward: “Pilot”
  19. 19. 19 “Where’s my token minority partner?” FlashForward: “Pilot”
  20. 20. 20 1:43
  21. 21. 21 2:06
  22. 22. 22 3:46
  23. 23. 23 4:04
  24. 24. 24 5:15
  25. 25. 25 6:06
  26. 26. 26 “The Best-Dressed Man” 7:08
  27. 27. 27 “The Authority Minority” 7:08 - 7:27
  28. 28. 28 “Token Faces”
  29. 29. 29 “Token Faces”
  30. 30. 30 “Token Faces”
  31. 31. 31 “Token Faces”
  32. 32. 32 “Token Faces”
  33. 33. 33 Examples... FOX: “House, M.D.”
  34. 34. 34 Examples... CW: “One Tree Hill”
  35. 35. 35 Examples... CBS: “CSI: Miami”
  36. 36. 36 CSI: Miami “Mystical Minority”
  37. 37. 37 Examples... FOX: “24”
  38. 38. 38 24: “Pilot” Episode
  39. 39. 39 next appearance elapsed time 43:00 1:49 0:36 24: Sen. David Palmer (domestic)
  40. 40. 40 elapsed time 2:57 24: Agent Jack Bauer (domestic)
  41. 41. 41 What is the effect? Max Weisbuch, Tufts University: “The Subtle Transmission of Race Bias via Televised Nonverbal Behavior” (2009)
  42. 42. 42 The Experiment
  43. 43. 43 The Experiment
  44. 44. 44 The Experiment
  45. 45. 45 The Experiment
  46. 46. 46 The Experiment
  47. 47. 47 The Experiment
  48. 48. 48 “Black characters elicit especially negative nonverbal responses, such as facial expressions & body language, from other characters.” SOURCE: Tufts Journal, “Lessons in Black and White” (January 6, 2010)
  49. 49. 49 “...and viewers exhibit more racial bias after exposure to such negative responses.” SOURCE: Tufts Journal, “Lessons in Black and White” (January 6, 2010)
  50. 50. 50 “The takeaway message is that bias can be contagious and can be transmitted through nonverbal behavior.” SOURCE: Tufts Journal, “Lessons in Black and White” (January 6, 2010)
  51. 51. 51 Questions for Discussion Is TV Tokenism real? If so, is it a problem? If it is a problem, what, if anything, should be done? What are some other examples you can cite? How does it mirror the tokenism in our society?
  52. 52. 52 Thanks. Kerry Brennan, John S. O’Connor, & Catherine Cristofani Songs: Public Enemy: “Burn, Hollywood, Burn” Wilco: “Kicking Television”
  53. 53. 53 This is a Black Screen

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