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.
• The media, as we have learned, is in
business to make money. So, how do they
make the majority feel more comfortable
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
Check it out:
• What stereotypes do you associate with the
– African Americans
– Asian Americans
– Native Americans
– Gay or lesbian
Did you think of any?
• Discuss what the stereotypes were and
where you learned them.
• 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.
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
• How did the setting make you feel
• 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.
• 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
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?
Some shows with Token
• 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
• Another way that media
characters is through the
perspective of the
“Normative” characters. An
example of this would be a
Simpsons episode where
Homer befriends a
• By the end of the show, he
is over his prejudice.
• By the end of the show, all of the
normative characters get over their
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
• 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