The media has the potential to either promote or call into question the stereotypical views portrayed against various social groups, races, gender, ethnicity and sexual identity. The represented images in the media do not usually contain a black and white portrayal of the multiple segments of the society but rather encourage how the viewers' perception and interpretation of their representations. The latter can be done either willingly (with knowledge of enhancing the stereotypes) or passively. Various segments of the society are continually making an effort to address the stereotyping role played by the media through education efforts aimed at mitigating the exposure to narrow and negative depictions of the various social groups and possibly create and enhance a positive influence of the coverage. However, despite these efforts, the role of the media as a misrepresentative of racial, cultural and gender stereotypes persists.
The mainstream media reproduces ethnic and racial stereotypes in a manner with which they interact with gender and class, hence creating a condition which maintains the existing status quo that fortifies the racist, sexist and classist in the society (Castaneda, p.5). By emphasizing pro-capitalism and white supremacist ideology in entertainment programming and news coverage, the various forms of social control are sustained as people of color are portrayed to be an embodiment of negative racial stereotypes, thus considered to be unworthy of economic, cultural and educational resources. The failures of a black or African American individual are portrayed as a typical attribute of an African American as there is limited clarification offered by the same media presenting these failures.
The underlying values established between the whites and blacks or Latinos concerning affirmative action seems to construct distinctive boundaries that are based along racial lines and define the political ideologies, interests, and values of these social groups. Surveys that were carried out in the mid-1995 showcased more support from whites or affirmative action that it was portrayed by the media (Rojecki and Etman, p.107). The Los Angeles Times also carried out a poll that depicted that seventy-one recent of white American supported affirmative action whether it was with quotas or not (Rojecki and Etman, p.107). The same sentiment was supported by three different surveys carried out by NBC Wall Street Journal, ABCI Washington post, and CNN by emphasizing that seventy percent of white Americans were in favor of affirmative action compared to twenty-nine that were not. Evidence from the polls reveals that support for affirmative action remained constant despite alterations by the media that affirmative action is expected to cause a massive shift among the various races in the United States (Rojecki and Etman, p.111). The extreme arousal of the white by the media in their choice of what to air seems to be focused on highlighting the negative impacts rather than focusing on the sentiments of the more substantial majority. The same scenario is seen in current media activities and representations where exploitation of functionality based on racial and ethnic lines is given priority with the aim of forcing group thinking among individuals.
Additionally, the action of the media in depicting solidarity among various groups being aligned based on social, ethnic or cultural position results in a rise of racial zero-sum game. Rojecki and Etman, (p.117) highlight the story of 3rd, December 1997 that was run by NBC about two students who lost a lawsuit against the University of Michigan for not being admitted despite their exemplary academic and extracurricular performance. The report fails to highlight all the factor considered before university admission and paints everything in black and white. Significant factors that play a role in the admission to the university such as parental wealth, donations, and alumni relationships are also not stressed in the report (Rojecki and Etman, p.124). The role played by the media as an influencer of social thinking is enormous and if there is no change in the way information is represented then racial and ethnic disintegration will constantly gnaw at the society. The subtle or sometimes not subtle message from media representations confines individuals to constructs of the society based on stereotypic depictions. The mainstream media may not be acting out to promote stereotypes but the minute details of what is presented or covered help in stimulating racial predicaments. These finer details are not usually clarified by highlighting both the negative and positive attributes to limit the room for racial thinking. Instead of conflicts and issues of importance re dramatized giving them influence on how people view them in a negative light without recognition of basic facts.
The very customariness of television, fiction film, newspapers, radio and pop music conceivably masks their prominence as part of individuals of a specific area and controls the fabric of their daily life in a manner that it is focused on the popular consciousness. According to Castaneda (p.3), the media fails to represent the minority social groups adequately. The limited diversity in the media, in turn, limits the society's understanding of the various segments of the society resulting in the significant risk of conformity to what is presented for the first time. "The physical attacks and anti-immigrant conversations, as well as the continued ICE deportations approved by President Obama through his government, encouraged immense hate speech from the radio increased hate crimes mostly touching the people of color" (Castaneda p.3). Although most representatives of the media argue that media on its own and the popular culture, have little power in creating actual effects in the world, they fail to recognize their power in influencing social thinking and behavior due to the reliance on what they present by the public (Arias, p.17).
Moreover, the persuasive and pervasive nature of the media is why ethnic and racial stereotypes continue to persist in the society. The increased innovations in digital technology made it possible for and transformed access and omnipresence to media content and media representations on a twenty-four-hour basis. Additionally, the individual mobiles enable audio-visual images to be consumed from anywhere at any time. Reality television further, transforms the popular culture from being a mere fiction to possible daily life constructs (Castaneda P.3). Stereotypes are thus portrayed as a reflection of things are, thus seen as potentially unquestionable and real. These cognitive and social impacts affect the lives of both adults and children by shaping their perspectives into a racist, capitalist, and sexist notions (Castaneda p.3). For example, the rise of contagious racist derisions at K-12 schools during the 2016 political primaries is a result of the political media setting that advocates for white supremacist ideologies which aim at diminishing the people of color in relation to social-political positions (Castaneda p.3).
Media representations based on positions influence the stereotypes in the society. The Latino ladies, for example, are sexualized as maids or baby mamas while their men are frequently given roles of being passive gardeners, alcoholics, gang members and drug dealers (Castaneda p.8). African American women, on the other hand, are usually given the tasks of drug addicts or prostitutes. These problematic stereotypes are typically used to undermine the human representatives of racialized groups since the representations of the media are transformed and believed to be "real knowledge" and yield the notion that these ethnic groups are somewhat outcasts in a perfect society (Castaneda, p.8). Consequently, such representations further create a belief that minority groups lack the fertile social, cultural and political ability while the white communities have what is necessary to gain the resources of the nation (Castaneda, p.8).
The media also influences how women and men are perceived concerning images of sexes that are unrealistic, with limited perception and stereotypical. These perceptions are woven into our daily lives by the media insinuating these messages into the consciousness. Advertisements and images in magazines, the internet and televisions depict the representation of women posing with beauty care, foodstuff, jewelry, baby diaper, cleaning products, and slimming supplements (Lim, p.1). These images convict the female gender to passive roles in the society such as cooking, taking care of the baby, cleaning, and having a longing for expensive things thus reinforcing the stereotypes that women are inherently materialistic, domestic and superficial (Lim, p.1). "The advertising magazines portray the women as being young, beautiful and slim as the accepted standards for the audience (Brooks, Dwight, and Lisa, p.301). Thus as the unmentioned rule women are portrayed on a narrow range to be fictitious sex objects that satisfy the dominant masculinity or domestic representatives" (Davtyan-Gevorgyan, p.1). The media raise the Patriarchial perspective of matters related to the female gender with little or no say by the women due to their scandalous or superficial nature that drives immense attention (Lim, p.2). There are insufficient projects and programs where women are given the role of main actors due to the underrepresentation of the already few women in the sphere compared to men (Davtyan-Gevorgyan, p.1). These scenarios being normalized by the media stops individuals from viewing others for who they are but rather as a boxed specific identity that is shaped by the few dominant power holders in the society.
"Berns identifies that the media also helps in the filtering of social problems in a manner that the specific sexual group" (p.1). The central argument of Berns focuses on the overlap, slippage, and occasional integration, notwithstanding the depiction of domestic violence of victims and what they should do to end their toleration of the continued abuse (Berns, p.1). The latter suggests that the media carries weight and therefore can construct the reality for most individuals by instantaneously individualizing the problem and blaming the victim of the abuse. For women magazines, the press unwittingly does this in the name of empowerment of the victim while in men's magazines it is done intentionally as a means of encouraging men empowerment and equality for men's rights. By individualizing these discourses, the media can meritoriously silence alternatives aimed at directing the attention to the abusers and institutional, structural, and cultural forces that nurture the abuse. Further, the fragmentation and objectification of the female gender and the various scene represented in the media crates discriminatory attitudes against women as regular occurrences. Such normalization, in turn, creates a negative impact that is later engrained in the social value system.
The media continues to foster stereotypes in the way they portray information and roles assigned to their representatives whether in print, internet or televised programs. These stereotypes usually aim at creating conflicting ideologies about the minorities in the society. The audiences are not necessarily robots to accept anything broadcasted to them by the media. However, the social context in which this information is presented has a completely major impact on the culture, politics, and economics of the society. Therefore, understanding the role of the media as an effective communicative stimulus is vital to deconstruct the racial, ethnic and gender stereotypes perpetuated.
Anna Davtyan-Gevorgyan, Women and Mass Media. April 2016. R...
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