If television didn’t exist, would the world be just a little better? The influences of television shapes our view of gender roles and creates stereotypes on race. In particular, Asians/Asian Americans, African Americans, and Whites are portrayed in very distinct ways according to their gender and race. All forms of media “reflects how our society understands itself and also what it deems worthy of knowing.”
If “Americas ‘racialized notions of gender’ in television” is allowed to continue, it will create a never ending cycle of false representation and hate. All races are portrayed in stereotypical ways; however, the focus will be on the most common ways some genders and races are stereotypically shown in the television.
African American Portrayal in Television
Being a Black American myself, there is so much I can say, but the goal is to keep it sweet and short.
If a specific racial group is always shown as criminals or victims on the news, then that’s how viewers will perceive the entire race, therefore leading to racial stereotypes. When African Americans are shown as victims on the news, they are simultaneously shown as a criminal, leaving viewers to think that they somehow deserved what happened.
In the Ferguson case, Michael Brown was unarmed and shot dead by police officers. It clearly seemed like who the victim and criminals were. However, pictures later were released from Brown’s social media accounts with him basically doing what most children—and I do mean child since there seems to be a difference between a white “child” who is 18 and a black “man” who is 18—at his age do.
It’s only natural that people will believe and trust the news when they are basically saying that African American victims and the fact that they are being oppressed is irrelevant. It’s a stereotype that dates back to slavery; that black lives are irrelevant. “While whites can and do commit a great deal of minor and major crimes, the race as a whole is never tainted by those acts,” unlike African Americans.
White-on-black crimes are rarely covered in the news. When they are covered, they are quickly pushed out by stories that will distract Americans from important issues. This is exactly what happened with the Ferguson case; it was pushed out by the so called Ebola crisis.
This isn’t to say that Ebola wasn’t a serious problem, but it left people in a state of panic, and for a little while the Ferguson case had been forgotten, until some African Americans refused to let Ferguson be silenced. Switching news stories when the truth begins to come out is common, and it confuses people.
Reality television such as The Bad Girls Club, Love & HIP HOP, and even Preachers’ Daughters all portray African American females in extremely negative and stereotypical ways. These shows have multiple racial groups in them; however, African American women stand out the most in all of them.
What seemed to be the start of horrible reality television is, for example, the 2006 reality show Flavor of Love. The bachelor, Flavor Flave, treated these women as nothing but sexual objects on the show, and yet these women fought over him constantly, which created the ‘crazy black women’ serotype.
Music videos are no better; and in fact, they misrepresent both African American males and females in stereotypical ways. In Nicki Minaj’s music video Anaconda, she is shown in highly sexualized clothing rapping about money and sex. Music videos such as this one portrays African American women as “lust-crazed, money-hungry worshipers of foul-mouthed male generated filth.”
African American men are portrayed as thugs, murderers, and drug dealers. Specifically, in the 2014 music video Hot N*gga, a group of men and boys are shown drinking, smoking marijuana, and rapping about killing, selling drugs and even women as “hoes”:
“Like I talk to Shyste when I shot niggas
Like you seen em twirl then he drop, nigga
And we keep them 9 milli’s on my block, nigga
And Monte keep it on him, he done dropped niggas
And Trigger he be wilding, he some hot nigga
Tones known to get busy with them Glocks, nigga
Try to run down and you can catch a shot, nigga
Running through these checks till’ I pass out
Your shawty gave me neck ’til I pass out
I swear to God, all I do is cash out
And if you ain’t a ho, get up out my trap house
I been selling crack since like the 5th grade”
These lyrics, matched with the negative images placed to them leads to the stereotype that all African American men are killers, drug dealers and users, and only care about money.
Bloom, L. (2014, May 13). White People Commit the Most Heinous Crimes, So Why Is America Terrified of Black Men? Retrieved April 21, 2015, from http://www.alternet.org/books/white-people-commit-most-heinous-crimes-so-why-america-terrified-black-men
Dixon, T., & Linz, D. (2000). Race and the Misrepresentation of Victimization on Local Television News. Communication Research, 27, 547-573.
Minaj, N.(2014, August 19). Anaconda. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDZX4ooRsWs
Shmurda, B. (2014, August 1). Hot N*gga. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJwKKKd2ZYE
Wyatt, W., & Bunton, K. (2012). Ethics of reality TV a philosophical examination. London: Continuum International Pub.