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Minorities in the media


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Media Studies: What is a minority? How does the media use minorities and why?

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Minorities in the media

  1. 1. Minorities in the Media
  2. 2. What defines “Minority”? • Minorities are any group of people who are considered by the majority to be different from that majority. • They may be of a different race, religion, or sexual preference.
  3. 3. Comfort Factor • The media, as we have learned, is in business to make money. So, how do they make the majority feel more comfortable about minorities?
  4. 4. The Normative Gaze • The Normative gaze is just the perspective of the majority, so media will try to make the majority feel a certain way about minorities by placing them in settings that play up to the stereotypes. • Not all stereotypes are considered negative either.
  5. 5. Check it out: • What stereotypes do you associate with the following groups? – African Americans – Asian Americans – Native Americans – Gay or lesbian – Catholics – Protestants – Mormons – Muslims
  6. 6. Did you think of any? • Discuss what the stereotypes were and where you learned them.
  7. 7. Comfort • One way the media skews the perspective is to make the minorities experience the same things that the majority experiences. For Example: The Cosby Show depicts a Black middle class family whose experiences are very much like those of any white household. The use of humor makes the show even more comfortable to the majority viewers.
  8. 8. Take a look • Let’s watch a little of the show and make note of how this family compares to the average white family of the 1980’s. Look for obvious things that you may take for granted.
  9. 9. Setting • How did the setting make you feel comfortable? • Try to think of a show today that makes you feel more comfortable about minorities that we mentioned earlier. Think of a universal experience that we share as humans if you can’t think of one off the top of your head.
  10. 10. Avoiding discussion • Often, media will soften the blow of discriminatory plots by making them seem like part of the norm and the characters themselves, though a minority, will not be chastised or discriminated against. • For example: A teen gets pulled over for driving an expensive car in a show. There is some discrimination there, but the character is not ostracized in the scene. The characters do not discuss the stereotyping of the other characters.
  11. 11. Token or Minor characters • Media also uses the minor character to portray minorities. The minor character plays second fiddle to the primary character, who is usually white. • Think about the shows you watch…who are the token characters?
  12. 12. Some shows with Token Characters: • NCIS LA • Burn Notice • The Big Bang Theory • The Closer • Mike & Molly Did you ever notice that in horror movies, the first two to die are the black man and the blonde!?
  13. 13. The Big Bang Theory Cast
  14. 14. Mike & Molly Cast
  15. 15. NCIS LA Cast
  16. 16. Normative Characters • Another way that media represents minority characters is through the perspective of the “Normative” characters. An example of this would be a Simpsons episode where Homer befriends a homosexual. • By the end of the show, he is over his prejudice.
  17. 17. Normatives • By the end of the show, all of the normative characters get over their prejudice.
  18. 18. Final thoughts on this… • The last way to get the characters and the audience to accept the minorities is for the protagonist to “save” the minorities from themselves.
  19. 19. Saviours • Michelle Pfifer starred as a teacher who was able to reach troubled inner city kids. • In Freedom Writers, Hillary Swank portrays teacher, Erin Gruwell, who reached the students in her LA classroom and many went onto college and lucrative careers.
  20. 20. The Freedom Writers
  21. 21. Feel good… • All in all, the games the media play are numerous and clever. It is all about letting the majority feel good about themselves and accepting those who are not in their social circles.
  22. 22. Self Check: • What is the Normative Gaze? • In what ways does the media present stereotypical characters so as not to appear prejudiced?