In this essay I will be assessing the view that the mass media perpetuate (this means continue or carry on) stereotypes (this is a label that is given to a group, this label is often negative) of ethnic minorities. In other words I have got to see if the mass media
(television, films, video games, newspaper, magazines, news/weather, adverts and music/music videos) continues to have stereotypes of ethnic minorities. Some of the traditional stereotypes are exotic, dangerous, humorous, pitied (Alvarado 1987), criminal, threat, abnormal, unimportant and dependent.
I have examined 2 studies that explain how they think ethnic minorities are stereotyped; these 2 studies are Alvarado (1987) and Van Dijk (1991). I think both of these studies are relevant today, although not all of their findings are relevant in today’s TV but they are in different types of the media.
Alvarado believed that when ethnic minorities are stereotyped in the media, that they were seen part of categories; these four categories are the pitied, humorous, exotic and dangerous. I will now explain some information on each category-
* Pitied- Alvarado argues that ethnic minorities are stereotyped as victims. This is because in the media, usually the news, we hear and see pictures and stories about natural disasters that ethnic minorities have lost their family, friends, homes and belongings to.
* Humorous- Alvarado believes that in this category the media makes us feel comfortable about being racist, they do this by using humour. In the 1970’s a lot of comedies used racist humour as a way to make people laugh. Alvarado tells us ‘this made ethnic minorities look like a threat to the country by making them the butt of racist jokes’.
* Exotic- Alvarado believes that ethnic minorities are wrongly stereotyped on having specific ways that they, do rituals, dress, artefacts, the food they eat and the language they speak. ‘White people’ stereotyped ethnic minorities like this because they do not realise that these are part of a complex culture and social formations.
* Dangerous- Alvarado tells us that ethnic minorities are stereotyped as a ‘threat’ and as ‘criminals’. People who live in ‘white’ environments are more likely to comment on racial issues. Newspapers have blamed ‘blacks’ for the causes of social problems. Alvarado also found that immigrants were thought of to be ‘black’. They also got stereotyped as ‘scroungers’, ‘rioters’ and ‘muggers’.
Van Dijk studied ethnic minorities in the media, and he found that they are often stereotyped as criminal (this has a very close link with Alvarado’s dangerous).
Van Dijk found that black crime/violence is the biggest issue spoke about in the media. If an ethnic minority commits a crime or is an offender they are usually known as ‘the black youth’, very rarely is a white person called this if they are an offender. He also found that when an Afro-Caribbean is being stereotyped that they are seen as members of criminal gangs.
Clearly, there has not been very much improvement involving ethnic minorities in the media, although;
Curran (1996) noticed some changes in the American media. He noticed that ‘blacks’ in American TV fiction were given high-status roles. He noted that we see more African Americans in the media, and also that ethnic minorities are seen as less threatening in the US media.
After I have looked at ball of the studies I have come to a conclusion of the question first asked, and I believe that stereotypes have been mainly carried on, but with some improvements. I believe that, now instead of just seeing negative stereotyping we are seeing more and more examples of positive stereotyping such as more positive/ high status roles in the media, we are seeing more black athletes and musicians and we also see more black presenters in the media.
I strongly agree with Alvarado and his 4 categories. We still see these 4 categories in every day media;
* Pitied- appears in the news
* Humorous- appears in comedies (e.g. Bo-selcta, Kumar’s at No42)
* Dangerous- appears on the news (e.g. stories on terrorism and violence)
* Exotic- appears in holiday shows.
Although I also believe that improvement is needed amongst ethnic groups in the media.