The Representation ofEthnicity in the Media AS Media Studies MS1: Representations and Responses
Definition• ethnicity (n) a term which represents social groups with a shared history, sense of identity, geography and cultural roots which may occur despite racial difference This is very different from race which is defined below:• race (n) a human population considered distinct based on physical characteristics.
Activity• How many TV programmes can you list that focus on a main character of an ethnic minority background (e.g.. Non white-British)?• Do you feel the British population is being represented fairly or realistically?
Multicultural Britain• 4.6 million people in UK are from ethnic minority backgrounds.• 7.9% of total population.• Over half this are from Asian backgrounds.• One quarter of this number are from Black heritage.• Of the total number of ethnic minority people, 5.3% are Chinese and 5% from other ethnic backgrounds.
• 40 million people characterise themselves as white-Christian.• 815,000 black Christians, 353,000 mixed race Christians.• Second largest religion is Islam. 686,000 Pakistani Muslims.• 471,000 Indian Hindus, 307,000 Indian Sikhs, 261,000 Bangladeshi Muslims, 259,000 White Jews.• 45% of ethnic minorities live in London.
a)Blackb)Middle Eastern/Asian Heritagec)Far Eastern- Chinese etc…d)Polish
Ethnic & Racial Stereotypes• People of Black Origin: Historically Black actors were most commonly associated with light entertainment and humour.• Stereotypes arising from Hollywood – Uncle Tom and Aunt Jemima roles. (remnants of America’s history of slavery and apartheid)• The ‘black mammie’ in Tom & Jerry further enforces this stereotype.• http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=G0apku0rPLw• The Sambo Stereotype:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Myb-
Black Stereotypes• For many years the traditional stereotypes continued with black actors being cast as blue collar workers and other secondary characters.• This use of ethnic minority actors in this way is known as tokenism.• Tokenism is where members of a minority group are included in a text, usually creating a false appearance of inclusive practices, intentional or not. E.g.. purposely including a member of a minority race (such as a black character in a mainly white cast, or vice versa) into a group.
Black Stereotypes• However, more positively, we have also become accustomed to seeing black people as successful athletes.• But of course the problemwith these Representations is that black people have far more diverse talents than just those thesestereotypes suggest!
Black Stereotypes• Criminals/Black Gangsters• Recently, however, due to the increase in reporting of gang related crime, young black people have been associated with knife and gun crime and are frequently cast as criminals.• The rise in popularity of American Hip Hop music has also spread the stereotype of young black men as gangsters.
Challenging the Stereotypes• More Positive Representations:• President Obama:• http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=CuwQsY_EBzU• Will Smith: http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=s0f3JeDVeEo
Middle Eastern origin• Like other ethnic minority groups in the UK, many people of middle eastern origin are frequently represented as …• blue collar workers – shop-workers/owners, cab drivers etc... (Main stereotype)• This stereotype most likely originates from old colonialist views which placed white British people as superior and elite compared to those “from the colonies”.• Also, when many immigrants from this part of the world began to arrive in the UK seeking employment, many found job opportunities in the service area.• As with other minority groups in British TV, middle eastern actors were frequently cast in servile roles with the focus of drama being on the experiences of white-British.
Middle Eastern Origin• Other common stereotypes of people from middle eastern backgrounds are:• Studious and well-educated – Jobs as scientists or Dr’s.• Family-oriented.• Patriarchal , traditional and misogynist – reinforced by recent headlines and TV drama storylines about honour killings and forced marriages.• These stereotypes are the result of the clash between western and eastern cultures and religions, with the dominant view (the western view) taking precedence in media texts.
Islamophobia• Since the events of 9/11 there has been a growth in ‘Islamophobia’– an irrational fear of Muslims as people bent on imposing their religious and political views on the rest of society.• Media texts have perpetuated this negative stereotype through the use of crude and exaggerated stereotypes.• Stereotype: Asian people as terrorists and villains.
Far Eastern Origin• People from the Far East are difficult to find in British TV drama.• General stereotypes within the media as a whole include:• Computer experts/techies – almost always exclusively Japanese and featured in Sci-Fi.• However, this ethnic group is frequently absent from TV drama!
Other minority groups in the UK• Eastern Europeans (E.g. Polish) – whilst many people from eastern Europe now live in the UK, they remain under- represented in British TV drama.• Recently, both Coronation Street & Eastenders featured Polish workers as a cheap labour. Their roles, however, were limited to little more than extras, barely even a ‘token’ representation of this group!• Their cultural difference and heritage remains untouched upon.• Whilst Corrie has one Polish character, her role is limited to factory worker– another classic example of tokenism.
Extracts & Analysis• View the following extracts and for each, answer the questions below:• What stereotypes are being used?• Are they positive or negative? Why?• Is this representation progressive or regressive? I.e. Does it move the representation of this ethnic group forward in any way or just regress back to the limited stereotypes of the past?