Archive by Author

Media’s Influence In Creating Identities

9 Mar

Group: African Americans

I can recall experiencing the influence of television at the age of 4. An episode of My Three Sons showed Ernie ripping up a letter that had made him angry, so I decided to exercise my theatrical abilities by ripping up my sister’s monopoly money. My mother had to explain to me that we can not emulate or believe everything we see on television because what we see doesn’t always represent reality or the truth. I was blessed that my mother took the time to explain the basic realities of television. Unfortunately, too many people take what they see at face value and therein lies the problem. Although I had someone to make sure I challenged what I was viewing, I’m aware that television still had an impact in shaping my identity.

I find it disheartening that after so many years minorities are still protrayed more often than not in a negative light or they have to play second to their white counter parts (BBF), or the lighter the skin, the more acceptable. I saw an article addressing how critical it is for our society to embrace diversity. Even in a so called positive image the hegemonic theme is clearly visible with the white men front and center, while the darker men and women are strategically place in the back.

I believe the majority of Media moguls will continue to produce what they feel is more profitable, despite the fact that research has shown the unhealthy affects that negative and unrealistic images has had on our society.

I also believe that classes like Media and Identity will help change our society. Eventually the younger generation will be in charge and hopefully those who have chosen the field of media will make positive changes because of their exposure to the truths and dangers of media. Hopefully they will be able to create realistic and positive identities and we can experience real diversity.

In the meantime we need to promote and support pro-social media whenever possible, keep fighting for more positive representations of the marginalized groups and keep these awesome dialogues active.

Response: I have always considered myself to be a critical thinker, but Media and Identity has taken me to another level of consciousness.

No Good Deed Goes Unnoticed

2 Mar

Group: African Americans

Summary:  I chose Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds (2012). A successful, wealthy businessman, Wesley Deeds (Tyler Perry) has always done what’s expected of him, whether it’s assuming the helm of his father’s company, tolerating his brother’s misbehavior at the office or planning to marry his beautiful but restless fiancée, Natalie (Gabrielle Union). But Wesley is jolted out of his predictable routine when he meets Lindsey (Thandie Newton), a down-on-her-luck single mother who works on the cleaning crew in his office building. When he offers to help her get back on her feet, the chance encounter with someone so far outside his usual circle ignites something in Wesley. This one good deed may finally spark his courage to exchange the life that’s expected of him for the life he’s always really wanted. A moving, uplifting drama about coincidence, courage, and the defining choices we make on our paths to happiness. (iTunes)

Analysis/Application: My family was in total shock when I suggested going to see a Tyler Perry movie, because they all know how much his use of buffoonery and stereotypes grate on my nerves. However, this movie seemed to have a different feel, so I decided to take a chance. I should have known the stereotypes would make their appearance. The playbill is as follows: The angry single black female, the angry black male who demeans and disrespects women, the upper class snob, the handsome masculine males, the light skinned and thin women (mainstream’s idealized representations of beauty). This movie also delves into socio economic differences.

Well, I must confess; I actually enjoyed the movie. I felt it exhibited characteristics of the Para-social Contact Hypothesis. Tyler Perry’s approach was practically identical to our group’s pro-social project. He utilized a predominately black cast as the dominant group with a few whites as the minorities, making sure the members of the hegemonic dominant group were accepting and not oppressive.

I actually felt some of the stereotypical characteristics began to fade as we became more knowledgeable about each person’s background. The angry black woman was suffering from hardships in her life and most likely Post Traumatic Syndrome. Addressing real issues that many people deal with took the focus away from race, thereby making it a movie not just for and about black people. It’s now a movie that shows African Americans in the same light as the dominant group. He also demonstrated the pro-social concept by reaching out and helping someone in need, which often inspires others to pay it forward.

I just wish we could get rid of some of the idealized images and stereotypical characters. It would have been nice if Wesley’s true love could have been someone like Jill Scott or Vanessa Williams instead of Thandie Newton.

I’m also tire of the disrespectful black male. Many black men deal with serious issues, but not all black men act them out through anger, drinking and infidelity. My father died this past August at the ripe old age of 88 and I never saw him handle life’s problems or situations with anger. I never heard him say a curse word, he never abused my mother or spoke ill of her. He was a faithful husband and devoted father. That’s my reality and that’s what I would love to see portrayed in the media. It’s apparent, we need more Bill Cosbys.

Response: I guess you have to crawl before you can walk. This movie was at least a small step in the right direction. Hopefully Tyler Perry and others in the media will continue down that path.

Whiteness Reigns

24 Feb

Group: African Americans

Summary: Law Abiding Citizens (2009) Starring Jamie Fox (Nick Rice) and Gerald Butler (Clyde Shelton). Clyde Shelton’s family is brutally murdered. The ones responsible are caught. However, because of improper procedure, the D.A., Nick Rice only has circumstantial evidence. So he decides to get one of them to testify against the other. When Shelton learns of this, he is not happy. Ten years later, the one who was convicted is being executed but something goes wrong; his execution goes awry and he suffers. They learn that someone tampered with the machine. And the other one is found dead, killed in a gruesome manner. Rice suspects Shelton, so he has him picked up. At first, Shelton agrees to a plea agreement with Rice but changes his mind. It appears that Shelton is not done; it appears he blames the whole system and is declaring war on it going after everyone involved with his family’s case. So Rice has to stop him but Shelton is way ahead of him. (IMDb)

Analysis/Application: I’m sure a defense lawyer would present his case for this story as the portrayal of a man betrayed by the system who decides to teach the system a lesson. A man who wants us to really question whether or not the justice system is fair. It’s a story about a man who challenges us to exercise prudence in our decision process.

I would argue in my cross examination, it’s another message that reiterates and reinforces the superiority of the dominant group, via bait and switch. Initially Nick Rice is portrayed as the intelligent and handsome D.A. with high aspirations. He’s a loving husband and father who just want what’s best for his family. He is totally opposite of the stereotypical black male normally seen in the media.

Shelton is just an average guy who is relying on Rice to handle the murder trial of his wife and daughter. He appears discouraged and hopeless when the outcome is not what he expected. But in the blink of an eye Shelton takes the reins and begins to reign. He is now portrayed as the stereotypical white male, extremely masculine, highly intelligent, wealthy, manipulative and always in motion.

Shelton is fully exercising his power and Rice finds himself at Shelton’s beck and call, even while Shelton is in prison. Shelton makes it clear that he is trying to teach Rice a lesson. Rice is also being blamed for Shelton’s vicious behavior. His peers intimate that his personal goals and ambition fueled his trial decisions and they question whether or not he made the right call in the Shelton case. The audience may also view Rice as being self-serving and smug by the way he bragged about his 96% conviction rate. It’s obvious Rice’s self-esteem is taking a blow and his character and morality are being tarnished. Bash the brother, what a surprise!

Rice was eventually heroic by killing Shelton; but Shelton displayed a martyr stance as the flames began to form around him, which I’m sure eliminated many of the negative thoughts and feelings toward him. It’s sad to say, but I can see the audience still having sympathy toward Shelton, despite his diabolical acts, since he was a victim of circumstance.

Response: The hegemonic ideology has been a repeat offender and a threat to society; therefore, I hereby sentence it to death.

The Reincarnation of Buckwheat, Amos and Andy

17 Feb

Group: African Americans

Summary: This week’s assignment became a brutal task for the following reasons: My quest was to find brand new prime-time programming or programming that has brand new episodes featuring African Americans. To my dismay there were little to none, unlike the days of the 80’s and 90’s when there seemed to be a barrage of programs with a black cast or featuring black actors. The Jeffersons (1975-1983); Diff’rent Strokes (1978-1986); Gimme a Break (1981-1987); The Cosby Show (1984-1992); 227 (1985-1990); Amen (1986-1991); A Different World (1987 – 1993); Frank’s Place (1987-88); Family Matters (1989 – 1998); Fresh Prince of Bel Air (1990 – 1996); In Living Color (1990 – 1994); Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper (1992-1997); Living Single (1993-1998); Sister, Sister (1993 – 1999); Martin Lawrence (1992-1997); The Wayans Brothers (1995-1999); Malcolm & Eddie (1996 – 2000); Jamie Foxx Show (1996-2001); The Steve Harvey Show (1996–2002). Good news; I found two shows: The Finder and Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. Bad news; It was agonizing to watch them. I literally found myself in a house of pain.

The Finder airs Thursdays @ 9 pm on Fox. The show follows the adventures of Walter Sherman (white) an Iraq War vet who suffered brain damage in an IED explosion. The brain damage triggered in Walter the ability to “find” things, he sees connections between seemingly unrelated events, objects or people that other investigators would miss. Walter is assisted by his “legal advisor” and bar owner Leo Knox (black), US Deputy Marshal Isabel Zambada (white), and teen parolee and thief Willa Monday (white), who is serving her probation with the team (IMBd).

Tyler Perry’s House of Payne airs Fridays @ 9 pm on TBS. It’s a comedy series about a multigenerational, working class family who experiences all of life’s struggles with faith, love and most importantly humor (TBS).

Analysis/Application: To the naked eye The Finder is a show about two buddies living an adventurous life, while helping people find whatever it is they may have lost (a dead body, a missing father, a guitar pick, a murder weapon or a pair of lucky socks). To my investigative eye it’s clearly another show that promotes the use of hegemonic and BBF programming; just as I expected. For some strange reason I found the Leo Knox character to be slightly reminiscent of the Buckwheat character.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tzAcD9CGto&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0kkYW5s-KQ&feature=BFa&list=PLE040D0E52EAAFD79&lf=results_main

Although his character (a former lawyer) is not the negative stereotypical portrayal of a black man, it still had sort of a blackface aura to it. Somewhat like the characters played by Willie Best.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbaGrXQ2GTw

This show also continues to reinforce the white male dominance by making sure Leo always stays one – two steps behind his comrade. It’s somewhat of a modern day Green Hornet and Kato.

Tyler Perry is the creator of Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. Many people have accused him of perpetuating negative stereotypes of blacks in his movies and television programs. I must confess; I agree with mixed emotions. I truly believe he is trying to educate and promote prosocial behavior by addressing serious issues as gang violence, Alzheimer and domestic violence. I’m sure Perry would call it edutainment and if it helps someone then the method he used was not in vain.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qD5Yf8kn3Wk

I’m personally not a fan of buffoonery or slapstick in anyone’s message. I think the problem with using this method is the double standards in our society. When whites do something crazy it’s an individual thing, but if they’re black it represents of the entire community. There was a time when we didn’t have a say in our negative representations, so I really don’t understand why Tyler Perry wouldn’t use his power and influence to include more positive images. He seems to feel that most blacks can only relate if the message is delivered with an Amos and Andy method. Given his enormous fan base and success; he may be right.

http://www.tbs.com/video/?oid=225803&eref=sharethisUrl

http://www.tbs.com/video/?oid=224684&eref=sharethisUrl

Response: We’ve come a long way baby, but we have a long way to go.

Don’t Forget Your Place

3 Feb

Group: African Americans

Summary: I selected NCIS – Los Angeles for this week’s analysis, which airs on CBS, Tuesdays @ 9pm. This show is about the Los Angeles based Office of Special Projects, an elite division of the Naval Criminal Investigative Services that specializes in undercover assignments. The main characters are LL Cool J (Sam Hanna – black male), Chris O’Donnell (“G” Callen – white male), Linda Hunt (Henrietta “Hetty” Lange – white female), Daniela Ruah (Kensi Blye – white female) and Eric Christian Olsen (Marty Deeks – white male). This was my first time watching the program and for the most part, I enjoyed it.

Analysis/Application: The team was on the hunt for the perpetrator of a bombing incident. Sam Hanna had pretty much been placed in charge of this operation since he had experience dealing with bombs. I also got the impression that the temporary boss had a problem with Callen and that she was trying to annoy him by having someone else take the lead. Initially I had a good feeling about this show because Sam Hanna was being portrayed in a very positive light and on seemingly equal footing as Callen.

Hanna was the Black version of the representations of masculinity. So very fine, strong, intelligent, confident and almost the hero. It seemed as though the writers were actually trying to take steps towards changing racial attitudes. The show gave the appearance of subscribing to the theory that exposure to media images of successful African Americans may have positive effects on the racial attitudes of whites (Bodenhausen, 1995). They were doing so well until the subtle signs of the hegemonic ideology began to rear its ugly head. Normally Hanna and Callen were partners, but the temporary boss decided to mix up the teams. She partnered Hanna with Marty Deeks, someone who would be considered the beta of his partnerships.

Deeks wanted to find out about Hanna’s personality so he asked Callen “How do you house break an angry naval seal”, which in my opinion was an insinuation that Hanna was an animal, therefore less than.

Through out the show Deeks would question Hanna as to who was the alpha and beta in their partnership. It was extremely evident that Hanna was the alpha, but he was continuously challenged. I also noticed that in every scene Hanna was at the back of the team or he would always enter the room after Callen. I found it funny, yet sad how they’ve gone to such lengths to try and make Callen look as if he’s the more dominant figure when Hanna actually towers over him.

This was obviously an intentional strategy to convey whose actually leading the pack. I also noticed the close camaraderie between Hanna and Callen, which I  believe was the utilization of the BBF technique to appear racially diverse. A device that was probably used in the television show I Spy, starring Bill Cosby and Robert Culp (1965 – 1968).

Response: The photos are a clear indication that we’re moving ahead, but not truly making any stride. We have come from slavery to President of the United States, yet the media continues to place us at the back of the bus.

Somewhere Over the Advertising Rainbow is a Pot of Gold; If You’re White

27 Jan

Group: African Americans

Summary: I decided to select GQ, a predominately men’s magazine. Their largest age groups are 14-24 & 35-49.  People has a predominately female readership, ages 18 – 54, with a median age of 42.  Time has a fairly equal split of readers, males 53% and females 47%. According to Adweek and BurrellesLuce these are among the top rated magazines in the United States. BurrellesLuce’s information is based on circulation, visits, authority, or market share. Adweek’s rankings are based on financial performance metrics—ad page, ad revenue, newsstand, and overall circulation, growth—along with an influence measurement derived from social media footprint, press impressions, and search engine results. Also factored in is a product quality measurement, based on the number of edit pages, Web traffic, awards, and other reader satisfaction benchmarks.

http://www.adweek.com/news/press/hot-list-130747?page=1

http://www.burrellesluce.com/sites/default/files/Top_Media_2012_Final_January_2012.pdf?cid=tpm_FL_6YMLNTE6

Analysis/Application: And the winner of racialized media in magazine advertisements is GQ Magazine! 1st runner up, Time and 2nd runner up, People. If GQ is unable to fulfill its duties, I’m sure Time will have no problem stepping up to the plate.

The following categories and online percentage calculator determined the standings:

GQ: 52 ads

Black/People of color          No people                     White                      Questionable

4 – 7.69%                                 14 – 26.92%               33 – 63.46%                         1

Time: 25 ads

Black/People of color          No people                     White                      Questionable

2 – 8%                                       12 – 48%                      9 – 36%                              2

People: 66 ads

Black/People of color          No people                     White                      Questionable

8 – 12.12%                               25 – 37.87%             32 – 48.48%                         1

If these magazines purposely set out to achieve the presence of absence, mission accomplished. There is no question that the ads continue to perpetuate whiteness as a subjectivity that claims an exclusive racial position, and defend whiteness’ perceived purity through active exclusion of Others. (Phil Chidester, 2008). They have also utilized the absence of overtly racial depictions.

Response: Visually, Time magazine appeared to be the clear-cut winner based on the black/people of color category. A Toyota ad for the 2012 Camry featured a man of Hispanic or Middle Eastern descent in the forefront and what appears to be an African American male shadowing in the background. Their other ads featured three Indonesian boys and two questionable candidates.

GQ also ran the Camry ad along with an ad for Bacardi entitled: The Party Circa 1957. This ad featured four Blacks. A light skinned woman with long straight hair, who was only a smidgen darker than her white counterparts and a light skinned male frolicking with a couple of white women. The other two darker skinned male and female were positioned at the very back of the photograph. I actually took offense with that ad, because we all know that in 1957 Blacks would not have been hobnobbing with whites at a fancy cocktail party. Their other ads featured five men who were clearly of an ethnic descent, an ad for tobacco that has a Native American drawing on the package and one questionable candidate.

 

Finally, People magazine. It appears they’ve tried to put forth a little more effort in representing the people by increasing the number of Blacks that appeared in their ads. In my opinion, they’ve still fallen short and once again, the light skinned Blacks dominated the ads. Even Oprah has fallen prey to this mind set. The attached linked depicts the images represented in a People magazine  ad for her new show Oprah’s Next Chapter that airs on the OWN network.

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150437809052220.370494.22433917219&type=3

The advertisements in these magazines offered goods and services that would benefit all races, yet the idea of whiteness as a marker of racial privilege is prevalent through out the magazines. I believe this racial silence has become rhetorical, and I hear it loud and clear.

Losing Interest in this Person

21 Jan

Group: African Americans

 

Summary: This weeks’ Person of Interest on CBS at 9:00 was practically a repeat of last weeks’ episode. The main story line of each episode was a damsel in distress, eventually being saved, thanks to Reese and Finch. Last week a Hispanic super was being blamed for stalking a white woman. The actual stalker was someone she had been romantically linked with, a white middle – upper income male. This week, same scenario, but this time Detective Carter was permitted to assist in the rescue as long as she followed Reese’s commands. The victim was a Latino woman described as a scrappy young woman from the wrong side of the tracks who turned her life around and became a lawyer. Her life was in danger because of her newest case. She was representing a single African American father who had been sent back to prison, but this time he claimed to have been wrongly accused of violating his parole. As a result of his imprisonment, his son was sent to a foster home, which was part of a foster care scam.

 

Analysis/Application: Once again the African American male was treated as someone who is considered less than in our society. There was no regard for him or his family. Reese and Finch suspected the parole officer as the perpetrator, but they believed there was an accomplice (The African American female manager at Jobs and Family Services). Surprise! The accomplice was actually the white male social worker; nonetheless Reese was there to save the day with a little back up from Detective Carter. There’s no doubt that the male perspective is prevalent in this series and they never stray from hegemonic masculinity. This show also utilizes all of the representations of masculinity. The main character is attractive, strong, and confident and is always the hero. The creators of this program are doing an excellent job of perpetuating stereotypes and reinforcing the perception of our racial hierarchy, while bolstering the egos of our white male dominated society.

 

Response: I’ve read several blog comments from what appears to be a mixed audience and they have given this series a rave review. I would probably be in agreement if I was using the transmission paradigm, but I’m seeing it in a different light as I watch with a critical eye. There were close to 30 commercials during this program. They covered movies, makeup, restaurants, taxes, insurance, cars, phone companies, credit cards, home-improvement and one commercial for Dr. Charles Stanley, a televangelist. I believe the sponsors were targeting a white dominated audience, even though all races consume those products and services. Only one commercial during the program featured an African American and that was Weight Watchers with Jennifer Hudson. A commercial for Red Tails and a commercial for Phoenix University featuring James Craig, Chief of Police, Cincinnati Police Department aired after the show had ended. I’m sure the sponsors felt they reached their targeted audience, but I feel they missed the bull’s eye.

 

Person of Interest

14 Jan

Group: African Americans

Summary: I was drawn to Person of Interest on CBS at 9:00. An ex-CIA hit man (John Reese – white male) and a scientist (Harold Finch- billionaire white male) work together with the aide of a computer developed by Finch to prevent crimes before they occur. Finch and Reese are working on their new assignment generated by the computer, which involves an apartment building super (Ernie Trask/Ernest Machado – Puerto Rican male). The CIA has Detective Joss Carter (black female) under surveillance in an effort to locate Reese, but several mishaps by CIA agents (3 males, 2 blacks and 1 white) have the lead CIA agent (white male) exasperated.

Analysis/Application: The surveillance scene shows two agents following Detective Carter, but the black agent is always two – three steps behind the white agent at all times. Two of the three agents that were blamed for the mishaps were black males. The lead CIA agent addressed the mishaps by totally disrespecting and berating the agents like children. I question if the agent would have used the same tone if all of the agents were white. It’s clear the message benefits the white heterosexual male by perpetuating the hierarchy theory of white male dominance in our society. It’s obvious that Detective Carter is very intelligent and motivated, but she also exhibits traits of the stereotypical single, angry, black women.

Response: I believe that most people would see the dominant reading of a classic crime drama where the good guys catch the bad guys, because the racial undertones were somewhat subtle. I enjoyed the program, but I will admit that seeing the black males treated in such a demeaning manner and Detective Carter always having an attitude bothered me. Some would argue that the script was representing the characteristics of such an intense occupation. I say it represents the old adage “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”