One of the most influential media because of its accessibility is the television. Television show’s portrayals of specific group of people are very powerful in the creation of common perception of those groups by other people not belonging to that group specially the mainstream Americans. Two of these groups who are greatly stereotyped in televisions are the Asian Americans and the African Americans. Certain studies have found out that about half of white American children get their information on these two groups of people on television shows. These children are then made to believe that the stereotype portrayals of the Asian Americans and African Americans are true to life.
Asian Americans are generally invisible in mainstream media. A few chances of getting roles in both films and televisions almost always portrays them as a people who are martial artists or either masters, people who are hardworking but submissive, geek or nerds who does not have any fashion sense or the opposite (fashionistas but they lack wit), people belong to close-knit families where parents are very strict rule over their children’s desires, people who are financially handicapped but would be doing everything finish their education usually getting their degrees in foreign lands and sometimes portrayed as stingy persons.
Asians are usually seen in televisions playing minor roles and those without much depth and substance because they are typically seen as background characters. It is just recently that some Asian Americans have been cast in more high-profile jobs such as lawyers or doctors. In some cases, they land major roles but those roles of drug-lords or smugglers. Although Asian Americans have been stereotyped in Charlie Chan movies as “model minority”, they are still the passive types who are intelligent but unassertive. This stereotype of Asian Americans does not create a positive effect on them.
Like the Asian Americans, African Americans are also stereotyped in American media as submissive people or treated as slaves. Usually, they are seen as violent people who are always attached to some form of criminal acts and dumb and un-Christian savages who are uncivilized. These stereotypes of African-Americans have been there since the 20th century and the negative stereotypes continued until the 1970’s. It has greatly influenced the Americans, giving them the perception that the white Americans are superior to them. It took passing of several laws and some great acts of African Americans to improve this stereotype created. However, in the 1960’s a little improvement is seen on the stereotype created as they have been portrayed as great singers, dancers and athletes. This is stated when great African American athletes and artists started to surfaced. They have even been portrayed as the kind of persons who are good-natured, witty, honest and kind in both television and movies.
For both set of people, the stereotypes given them have greatly influenced the perception of people around them. They tend to conclude that what is seen in the televisions and other media are also happening in real-life. Mostly, it tends to keep them in lower socioeconomic positions. For example, since female Asian Americans are often stereotyped as geishas and female African Americans as servants, they are treated as “low class females” often labeling them with lustful adjectives which are degrading to the women.
The stereotype of African Americans as savage also has bad effects on their social relations as usually when there are violent crimes in an area where there are African American’s living, the first perception is that they committed the crime. The tendency is that they feel inferior in a society or they will be avoided for fear that their savage nature might come out. On the other hand, although Asian Americans are perceived to be masters in martial artists, martial artists still have the impression that they fight in equal situations removing the fear factor, however, they are still avoided in the society for fear that they might show their martial arts prowess when involved in some misunderstandings.
Asian Americans are seen as hardworking but submissive and with great intellect but are unassertive. Also, African Americans are also seen as hardworking people but because of their history of being slaves they are also seen as impulsive people. Likewise, they are also seen as intellectual people but are assertive. This stereotype alone would show differences in how these two groups of people are treated. The Asian Americans can be treated in a more subtle manner because the perception is that no extra force would be needed because they will do as you say even though they have a different idea. The perception for the African Americans would be that a little force is needed because even though they are hardworking people, they tend to be insistent on their ideas and may fight for it.
Televisions and other forms of media are really influential of the real world attitudes of viewers towards these groups of people because their messages can be directly absorbed by the viewer’s especially when there is little contact with them. The prolonged exposure to these certain stereotypes could create long-lasting impressions on them that can be hard to rectify.
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Race and the Citizen Consumer (2014). 17 Dec 2014
TV, Ethnicity and Postwar Consumer Culture (2014). 17 Dec 2014