Representations Of Ethnic Groups In Tv Cultural Studies Essay

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Ladies and gentlemen, as you are aware, we are assembled here today to commence the summation of this legal appeal; that is, the prosecution of the media. The defendant is on trial for altering the construction of reality and, consequently, committing further acts of fraud, with deliberate intent to trick, to misinform, and to mislead the people of this nation. The media have, and always will be an influential source of informational access and entertainment; but where is the line drawn? How can we be assured that what we, the audience, are being exposed to is verbatim, legitimate information, or stereotyping, degrading entertainment? The media has continuously shown false representations of gays, ethnic groups, and of the youth in sitcoms, soap operas and TV news, which endeavors only to harm our society and its minorities. The time has come for the people of Australia to delegate justice, and to hold the media unconditionally liable for their altering the construction of reality.

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Professors Alexander Doty and Ben Grove at the Indiana University's Department of Communication and Culture, argue that when discussing homosexual representation in the mass media and popular culture, we must look "beyond understanding the 'mass' or 'popular' as necessarily meaning a mainstream media or culture that only addresses millions of heterosexuals". They acknowledge another, 'alternative' mass media that runs parallel to the 'mainstream' mass media but has often been pushed to the sidelines in the past. Ladies and gentlemen, a conservative viewpoint would state that this is because the mass media should convey the will and desires of the 'majority' and therefore should not be made to positively represent anything that contradicts society's dominant ideology. In laymen's terms: representations of gays and lesbians in the media is, more often than not, considered as an opposing ideology to a majority of viewers, and is thus rarely shown in a true or positive light. In his book The Celluloid Closet, Vito Russo analyses the representation of homosexual characters in Hollywood films from the 1890s to the 1980s, which quintessentially exhibits a history of homophobia. He argues that Hollywood's portrayal of lesbians and gay men has often been cruel and homophobic. Ladies and gentleman, gay and lesbian characters have been defined by their sexual orientation, and have traditionally lacked any complex character development in media representations. From the 1930s to the 1950s, religious and women's groups criticized Hollywood films for contributing to immorality. As a result, the industry introduced a self-censorship code that affected the portrayal of homosexuality. During these years, films could not feature overtly homosexual characters-so homosexuality was therefore suggested through a character's mannerisms and behaviour. An example of this can be seen in ABC's "Modern Family". A gay couple on the show is stereotyped with baby adoption, neatness, argyle cashmere shirts, flamboyant dance moves, snootiness, and Meryl Streep and Costco virginity among many others. Each branch of the family lives in a large, designer home in a SoCal suburb. Hardly anyone has to go to work, least of all the women, who are represented only as mother, wife, or sex object. Even the two young daughters in this family are labeled separately as "smart one" and "pretty one." Claire and Phil actually remark that their beautiful teenage daughter isn't good at anything, but that her looks will help her meet a man who is; and this, ladies and gentleman, brings us to where we stand as a society today - victims to misrepresentations and discriminatory stereotypes which often do not represent the majority of people who are homosexuals or working mothers, but give them inaccurate gender roles in the media as to create a quick link with the audience determining their sexual orientation.

The media is on trial today, ladies and gentlemen, for altering the construction of reality. Not only are representations of homosexuals inaccurate, harmful, and disingenuous; the same demeaning labels and stereotypes are also repeatedly placed upon ethnic minorities; in particular - Arabic or Muslim people, African Americans, Mexicans, Indigenous people, and anyone else who has a darker skin complexion than the white supremacists of the media. How can we, as a nation, progress forward in our aims to create a diverse multicultural society when these harmful representations exist? Are we willing to be thought of as racists and bigots? Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, why do we associate African Americans with rap music, theft, or murder? Why do we associate Arabic people with terrorism? Why do we associate all South Americans with illegal immigration, tacos, and drugs? These prejudices exist only because the defendant, who sits before you, burns these images and preconceptions into your minds. Featured in an episode of CSI, entitled "Fannysmackin", a mob of teenagers dress up in Halloween costumes, and then assault random tourists. When the CSI crew investigates the case, one white cop drives around the scene to look for evidence when he sees the gang beating up a young, white boy. As he approaches in his vehicle, the crowd disperses however one black member stands his ground and is subsequently hit by the car. The white boy saved by the cop lives; however the black boy hit by the car dies. Many areas of the media create stereotypes of ethnic minorities whose norms and values differ from their own. In addition to the threat of violence, ethnic minorities are portrayed as a threat in different ways. Ethnic minorities, particularly asylum seekers, are portrayed as people going to the western world to exploit the welfare state and steal the jobs, housing, and other facilities of the people who live there. These representations are simply not true for the majority of people, ladies and gentlemen, and the defendant must be prosecuted accordingly.

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Young people are tomorrow's leaders, offering fresh perspectives and energy as well as the willingness to learn. Yet the media often treat youth only as fodder for their next story, which usually revolves around shoplifting, underage drinking, violence, or graffiti. Frequently, young people are misrepresented in media stories or are absent altogether. Therefore, stereotypes of young people being trouble makers who have little value to society are perpetuated, creating distance between youth and other groups in the community. Again ladies and gentlemen, these generalisations, in particular of Generation Y, cannot be the only determining factor of society's position to view them. While there may be those who do fit this stereotype, like Melbourne boy Corey Worthington - there are a lot more Australian youths who are doing the right thing, and some, such as Jessica Watson - the youngest girl to sail unassisted around the world - who endeavour to do not only the right things, but remarkable things; however these stories are not the ones that tend to stick in the minds of Australian people, instead, the negative ones are.

In summation ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the facts have been provided here for you today; the media has been put on trial for altering the construction of reality, and has consistently shown a tendency to misrepresent and to misinform. Homosexuals, ethnic minorities, and the youth of this nation are harmed on a continual basis with fallacious prejudices - and these are only a handful. Where will it stop, ladies and gentlemen? To what end must we play victim to these lies and fabrications? You decide.