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Afro-american Representation In The Media Essay, Research Paper

In Jacqueline Bobo & # 8217 ; s article, The Color Purple: Black Women as Cultural Readers, she discusses the manner in which black adult females create intending out of the mainstream text of the movie The Color Purple. In Leslie B. Innis and Joe R. Feagin & # 8217 ; s article, The Cosby Show: The Position From the Black Middle Class, they are analyzing black middle-class responses to the portraiture of black household life on The Cosby Show. In their several articles, Bobo, and Innis and Feagin are look intoing the representation of race, peculiarly African American race, in the mass media. The main concerns of their probes lie in how African Americans trade with the manner these representations portray them separately and their societal group as a whole. In this paper I will compare the issues in each survey, analyze the larger sociopolitical deductions of the media representations and use a similar model of concerns to my ain response analysis undertaking.

In Bobo & # 8217 ; s article, the main concerns of the writer are & # 8220 ; the barbarian and barbarous word picture of black work forces in the movie & # 8221 ; , & # 8220 ; black household instability & # 8221 ; , and the manner that black adult females embrace the movie and utilize their ain reconstructed significance of it to & # 8220 ; empower themselves and their societal group, & # 8221 ; ( 90,92 ) . Film as a medium starts out with many possible restrictions and jobs when it comes to stand foring a whole race of people. No two people are precisely likewise no affair what race they come from so there is no manner one movie can stand for all peoples. Unfortunately, many people believe that a certain word picture of black people characterizes all black people, which is surely non the instance. This is really unsafe because this perpetuates pigeonholing and favoritism. The sing public wages for films and hence film managers have to orient their merchandise so that the bulk of viewing audiences will bask, and agree with the thoughts behind the movie. The bulk about ever means white America so even African American based films are made for white audiences. Because of this, the representations of inkinesss in the medium of movie are about ever white thoughts of who black people are, non who they truly are.

The movie The Color Purple has been the centre of contention since it was made in 1985. Many people feel the movie is a awful portraiture of black household life and that it is stereotyped in its word picture of black work forces as immorality and barbarous autocrats who imprison and mentally and verbally mistreat adult female. Consequently, most work forces despise the movie and can non believe that so many adult females love it. The chief intent of Bobo & # 8217 ; s article was to happen out why black adult females loved it so much and what they saw as good about the movie. What Bobo found out was that though many adult females loved it, they besides saw that there were things inherently incorrect with the manner black males were portrayed. However, because black females were largely portrayed in a positive visible radiation, the black female respondents felt that the movie was good in that regard. Harmonizing to Bobo, & # 8220 ; Black adult females have demonstrated that they found something utile and positive in the movie, & # 8221 ; ( 101 ) . The adult females enjoyed seeing a adult female lift up against maltreatment and take control of her life. They identified with the hunt for power and their ain individuality. The Color Purple presented a new type of feminism to black adult females who were used to seeing black female characters depicted as slaves, amahs or mammies. Bobo found that though black adult females were cognizant & # 8220 ; of the subjugation and injury that comes from a negative media history. . . [ they ] are besides cognizant that their specific experience, as black people, as adult females in a stiff class/caste province, has ne’er been adequately dealt with in mainstream media, & # 8221 ; ( 102 ) . This was the chief ground why the adult females liked the movie so much. They were able to take their ain yesteryear experiences and use those as a footing for their reading of the text. In this manner, the black adult females didn & # 8217 ; t see the movie as all bad, they saw it as a small spot of truth wrapped in a cover of a few stereotypes and as a affecting narrative that needed to be told.

The larger sociopolitical deductions of The Color Purple are really serious. Black household life is presented in this movie as dysfunctional. Womans are seen as delicate and easy abused by their barbarian and barbarous work forces and everyone acts & # 8220 ; lower category & # 8221 ; even if they are supposed to be middle-class. Just about all black people were in fact lower category during the clip period of the movie so the fact that the household is middle-class creates an unrealistic feeling. The thoughts that are presented throughout the narrative seem trivialized by the fact that the characters act like folk singers, singing and dancing, as fresh fish for gags. This presentation perpetuates the stereotype of the black individual as an imbecile, barbarian, simpleton who knows no better but eventually merely can & # 8217 ; t take the maltreatment any longer and rises up against it. This could further a sense of hope, particularly for immature, abused adult females, nevertheless, more likely than non it could merely be used as an other alibi as to why white people don & # 8217 ; t take black people earnestly. The Color Purple may be an uplifting narrative about prevailing over abuse but it is besides a dark expression at the manner society thinks black work forces, adult females and households act. Of all the black people I know, this is a far call from the truth.

In Innis and Feagin & # 8217 ; s article, the main concerns of the writers are how the black middle-class positions The Cosby Show, and what influences their determinations about what they see. Unfortunately telecasting nowadayss many possible representational jobs. Because it is watched by such a broad

assortment of people, there has to be some placing features to state people who is being presented and what they stand for. Normally this placing information consists of stereotypes and minstrel-like bufoonish characters for amusing alleviation. Besides, due to the nature of patrons, telecasting is unable to undertake pressing issues and dispute the bulk. Alternatively it uses stock characters and scenes to state the same narrative over and over once more without stirring up any contention. This leaves small room for demoing world.

In carry oning 100 in-depth interviews with middle-class black Americans from 16 metropoliss across the US, the writers received responses refering the show that were immensely different. The responses varied from harshly negative to highly positive depending on how the black individual identified with the show, if in fact s/he did at all. The people who felt the show depicted African Americans negatively had no similar experiences to the Huxtable & # 8217 ; s and hence felt it was unrealistic. These respondents felt the show was excessively & # 8220 ; white & # 8221 ; and did non show the real-life life state of affairss of mundane middle-class inkinesss but alternatively an utmost instance that represented none of the black people they knew. The Cosby Show besides made respondents experience that existent jobs suffered by inkinesss on an mundane footing, such as racism, classism and deficiency of chance, were deemed irrelevant because they were non even mentioned on the show. Harmonizing to Innis and Feagin, & # 8221 ; the show & # 8217 ; s popularity has set back race dealingss because its position of black assimilation fails to take into history the context of the universe outside of the four walls of the Huxtable family, & # 8221 ; ( 692 ) . However, respondents who did like the show and felt it portrayed inkinesss positively shared similar experiences with the Huxtable household or how they dealt with certain issues. They felt the show depicted inkinesss in a unquestionably positive visible radiation, as human existences that are civilized, non barbarians who are gang-bangers and live in ghettos.

There are many larger sociopolitical deductions of the media representation of black household life in The Cosby Show ; nevertheless, the dominant and most terrorization of these deductions is the thought that the & # 8220 ; American Dream is existent for anyone who is willing to play by the regulations, & # 8221 ; ( 709 ) . It presents easy upward mobility and no mark of favoritism at all & # 8211 ; barely what anyone would name the & # 8220 ; typical & # 8221 ; black experience. If after watching The Cosby Show, White America takes the above statement as truth, inkinesss will hold an even harder clip deriving equality because Whites will believe that inkinesss are merely lazy and don & # 8217 ; t want to break themselves when in world it is a great battle and an tremendous challenge to get the better of subjugation. However, it does further a sense of hope which is likely the centre of black peoples & # 8217 ; ambivalency towards The Cosby Show.

In seeking to use the model of the above surveies to my ain response analysis survey, I have found that concerns such as sexism, agism, and criterion of beauty all figure in deeply with my respondents. My undertaking consists of working adult females & # 8217 ; s perceptual experiences of the manner adult females are portrayed on the Television show Ally McBeal. All of the respondents mentioned something about the sexy, immature, reasonably, scraggy stars of the show. Harmonizing to these adult females, if you don & # 8217 ; t autumn into all of the above classs, you & # 8217 ; re non a & # 8220 ; good & # 8221 ; individual. Merely people who fall into the above classs are presented on Television and movie, and when people outside of the & # 8220 ; norm & # 8221 ; are presented, it is for comedy or understanding. Barely of all time is there an old, fat adult female as the heroine. There is some exclusion such as Cameron Manheim on The Practice, but by and big it is a theoretical account & # 8217 ; s universe. The criterion of beauty today is a really chilling thing. It is promoting immature misss to hunger themselves, exercise themselves to decease or throw-up after every repast. If you don & # 8217 ; t look like what society dictates you & # 8217 ; rhenium headed directly for nowhere. I think sexism besides figures profoundly in the manner adult females look at Television because all of the respondents pointed to the fact that adult females are regarded as sex objects on Ally McBeal. None of them enjoyed seeing the adult females portrayed this manner, but they did state it seemed realistic. I think this alone tells us a batch about where our society is and the jobs people face mundane. Adding this model to the range of my survey could take to some really interesting decisions.

In analysing Bobo, and Innis and Feagin & # 8217 ; s surveies of how black people respond to their representations on telecasting and in films, we can see that there is a batch more land to be covered in the countries of equality and political rightness when it comes to media. We can see, nevertheless that people are non merely sitting blindly in forepart of the Television or film screen accepting what they see as truth but are truly believing and analysing the images presented to them. This shows that people can be good media consumers and can do picks about what is and is non good media. I don & # 8217 ; t believe Television or films will of all time be a rainbow colored state that represents us all but a batch more could be done to do it fairer. Hopefully one-day people will be able to acquire some satisfaction out of seeing representations of them on telecasting and in movie.


1. Bobo, Jacqueline. & # 8220 ; The Color Purple: Black Women as Cultural Readers & # 8221 ; ( pp. 90-109 ) , Ch. 5 in E.D. Pribram ( Ed. ) Female Spectators: Looking at Film and Television. London: Verso, 1988.

2. Innis, L. & A ; Feagin, J. & # 8220 ; Positions From the Black Middle Class & # 8221 ; Journal of Black Studies, 1995, Vol. 25, pp. 692-711.


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