TV Tokenism

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Presented with John S. O'Connor at the 2011 CASE Conference: "What Does It Mean To Be An American?" …

Presented with John S. O'Connor at the 2011 CASE Conference: "What Does It Mean To Be An American?"
http://www.casechicago.org/

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  • 1. 1This is a Black Screen
  • 2. 2TV TokenismSpiro Bolos & John S. O’Connor ➔ New Trier High School ➔ CASE
  • 3. 3The 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 Spike Lee’s Bamboozled
  • 5. 5The Present Purpose of TV Shows Prized Demographics “Upfront” Presentations Dramas vs Sitcoms/Reality TV
  • 6. 6“Basically, network TV goes outand creates a bunch of pilotshows. They’re basicallypractice shows...SOURCE: NPR’s Talk of the Nation, “After Chaotic Year, Dramas Play atTV Upfronts”: Eric Deggans, TV/Media critic, St. Petersburg Times
  • 7. 7[E]ach network could createsomething like 30 pilots, andthey may only pick ten. Ten is alot, if they pick ten.SOURCE: NPR’s Talk of the Nation, “After Chaotic Year, Dramas Play atTV Upfronts”: Eric Deggans, TV/Media critic, St. Petersburg Times
  • 8. 8So that’s a pretty low battingaverage to spend an average ofa million, maybe $2 million apilot, and then only pick up afifth...that you actually produce.SOURCE: NPR’s Talk of the Nation, “After Chaotic Year, Dramas Play atTV Upfronts”: Eric Deggans, TV/Media critic, St. Petersburg Times
  • 9. 9 “Come to think of it, I saw a white judge on Law & Order last night!” — Grizz 30 Rock: “Racism is Back.”
  • 10. 10The Future What is TV Tokenism? Is it 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?
  • 11. 11“Networks scrambled to createmore diverse casts after beingcriticized by the NAACP threeyears ago.”SOURCE: “US Watches TV in Black and White”, Duncan Campbell inThe Guardian, 2/6/03
  • 12. 12Result? “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
  • 13. 13Result? “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
  • 14. 14 30 Rock: “the Diversity Guy”
  • 15. 15Examples... CBS: “NCIS”
  • 16. 16Examples... CBS: “NCIS”
  • 17. 17Examples... FOX: “Fringe”
  • 18. 18Examples... ABC: “LOST”
  • 19. 19Examples... ABC: “FlashForward”
  • 20. 20 FlashForward: “Pilot”
  • 21. 21 “Where’s my token minority partner?” FlashForward: “Pilot”
  • 22. 22 1:43
  • 23. 23 2:06
  • 24. 24 3:46
  • 25. 25 4:04
  • 26. 26 5:15
  • 27. 27 6:06
  • 28. 28 “The Best-Dressed Man” 7:08
  • 29. 29 “The Authority Minority” 7:08 - 7:27
  • 30. 30 “Token Faces”
  • 31. 31 “Token Faces”
  • 32. 32 “Token Faces”
  • 33. 33 “Token Faces”
  • 34. 34 “Token Faces”
  • 35. 35Examples... FOX: “House, M.D.”
  • 36. 36Examples... CW: “One Tree Hill”
  • 37. 37Examples... CBS: “CSI: Miami”
  • 38. 38 CSI: Miami “Mystical Minority”
  • 39. 39Examples... FOX: “24”
  • 40. 40 24: “Pilot” Episode
  • 41. 41next appearance elapsed time 43:00 1:49 0:36 24: Sen. David Palmer (domestic)
  • 42. 42 elapsed time 2:57 24: Agent Jack Bauer (domestic)
  • 43. 43What is the effect?Max Weisbuch, Tufts University: “The Subtle Transmission of Race Biasvia Televised Nonverbal Behavior” (2009)
  • 44. 44 The Experiment
  • 45. 45 The Experiment
  • 46. 46 The Experiment
  • 47. 47 The Experiment
  • 48. 48 The Experiment
  • 49. 49 The Experiment
  • 50. 50“Black characters elicitespecially negative nonverbalresponses, such as facialexpressions & body language,from other characters.”SOURCE: Tufts Journal, “Lessons in Black and White” (January 6, 2010)
  • 51. 51“...and viewers exhibit moreracial bias after exposure tosuch negative responses.”SOURCE: Tufts Journal, “Lessons in Black and White” (January 6, 2010)
  • 52. 52“The takeaway message is thatbias can be contagious andcan be transmitted throughnonverbal behavior.”SOURCE: Tufts Journal, “Lessons in Black and White” (January 6, 2010)
  • 53. 53Questions 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?
  • 54. 54Thanks. Kerry Brennan, John S. O’Connor, & the Bolos Girls Songs: Public Enemy: “Burn, Hollywood, Burn” Wilco: “Kicking Television”
  • 55. 55This is a Black Screen