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1




This is a Black Screen
2




TV Tokenism
Spiro Bolos ➔ American Studies Day ➔ “Media & Democracy”
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




    Spike Lee’s Bamboozled
5




The Present

    Purpose of TV Shows

    Prized Demographics

    “Follow the Money”

    Dramas vs. Sitcoms
6




    30 Rock: “Racism is Back.”
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




“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




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




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




     30 Rock: “the Diversity Guy”
12




Examples...
              ABC: “LOST”
13



“LOST started out in Season 1
as an ethnically diverse show
with a lot of potentially
intriguing male and female
characters.”
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



“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




Examples...
              FOX: “Fringe”
17




Examples...
              ABC: “FlashForward”
18




     FlashForward: “Pilot”
19




     “Where’s my token minority partner?”




     FlashForward: “Pilot”
20




     1:43
21




     2:06
22




     3:46
23




     4:04
24




     5:15
25




     6:06
26




     “The Best-Dressed Man”
               7:08
27




     “The Authority Minority”
           7:08 - 7:27
28




     “Token Faces”
29




     “Token Faces”
30




     “Token Faces”
31




     “Token Faces”
32




     “Token Faces”
33




Examples...
              FOX: “House, M.D.”
34




Examples...
              CW: “One Tree Hill”
35




Examples...
              CBS: “CSI: Miami”
36




        CSI: Miami
     “Mystical Minority”
37




Examples...
              FOX: “24”
38




           24:
     “Pilot” Episode
39




next appearance              elapsed time

  43:00                        1:49
                               0:36




                  24:
     Sen. David Palmer (domestic)
40




                            elapsed time

                              2:57




                 24:
     Agent Jack Bauer (domestic)
41




What is the effect?

Max Weisbuch, Tufts University: “The Subtle Transmission of Race Bias
via Televised Nonverbal Behavior” (2009)
42




     The Experiment
43




     The Experiment
44




     The Experiment
45




     The Experiment
46




     The Experiment
47




     The Experiment
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




“...and viewers exhibit more
racial bias after exposure to
such negative responses.”

SOURCE: Tufts Journal, “Lessons in Black and White” (January 6, 2010)
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




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




Thanks.
     Kerry Brennan,
     John S. O’Connor,
     & Catherine Cristofani



     Songs:
     Public Enemy: “Burn, Hollywood, Burn”

     Wilco: “Kicking Television”
53




This is a Black Screen

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TV Tokenism

  • 1. 1 This is a Black Screen
  • 2. 2 TV Tokenism Spiro Bolos ➔ American Studies Day ➔ “Media & Democracy”
  • 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 Spike Lee’s Bamboozled
  • 5. 5 The Present Purpose of TV Shows Prized Demographics “Follow the Money” Dramas vs. Sitcoms
  • 6. 6 30 Rock: “Racism is Back.”
  • 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 “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 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 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 30 Rock: “the Diversity Guy”
  • 12. 12 Examples... ABC: “LOST”
  • 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 “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 “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 Examples... FOX: “Fringe”
  • 17. 17 Examples... ABC: “FlashForward”
  • 18. 18 FlashForward: “Pilot”
  • 19. 19 “Where’s my token minority partner?” FlashForward: “Pilot”
  • 20. 20 1:43
  • 21. 21 2:06
  • 22. 22 3:46
  • 23. 23 4:04
  • 24. 24 5:15
  • 25. 25 6:06
  • 26. 26 “The Best-Dressed Man” 7:08
  • 27. 27 “The Authority Minority” 7:08 - 7:27
  • 28. 28 “Token Faces”
  • 29. 29 “Token Faces”
  • 30. 30 “Token Faces”
  • 31. 31 “Token Faces”
  • 32. 32 “Token Faces”
  • 33. 33 Examples... FOX: “House, M.D.”
  • 34. 34 Examples... CW: “One Tree Hill”
  • 35. 35 Examples... CBS: “CSI: Miami”
  • 36. 36 CSI: Miami “Mystical Minority”
  • 37. 37 Examples... FOX: “24”
  • 38. 38 24: “Pilot” Episode
  • 39. 39 next appearance elapsed time 43:00 1:49 0:36 24: Sen. David Palmer (domestic)
  • 40. 40 elapsed time 2:57 24: Agent Jack Bauer (domestic)
  • 41. 41 What is the effect? Max Weisbuch, Tufts University: “The Subtle Transmission of Race Bias via Televised Nonverbal Behavior” (2009)
  • 42. 42 The Experiment
  • 43. 43 The Experiment
  • 44. 44 The Experiment
  • 45. 45 The Experiment
  • 46. 46 The Experiment
  • 47. 47 The Experiment
  • 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 “...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 “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 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 Thanks. Kerry Brennan, John S. O’Connor, & Catherine Cristofani Songs: Public Enemy: “Burn, Hollywood, Burn” Wilco: “Kicking Television”
  • 53. 53 This is a Black Screen