A stereotype may be defined as a popular belief about specific social/ethnic groups or types of individuals and it is broadly standardized or simplified conceptions of groups based on some prior assumptions. The stereotypes sometimes can have negative or positive impacts on individuals. We can see many traditional stereotypes such as Stereotypes of Irish people, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians, Native Americans or African Americans if we probe through the American history. We create the stereotypes when we are unwilling or unable to obtain all of the information about the people or situations if we need to make a judgment about them. However, the stereotypes that we created innocently to just fill in the blanks in our minds about the information we are lack of, lead a kind of unjust race discrimination. According to these stereotypes, all Asians seems genius as all Irish people seems quick-tempered brawlers; All white people seem sort of racists as all African Americans seem servile and primitive creatures. In sense of creating these stereotypes, the media has played a crucial role to substantiate them. In the beginning of 1920s, the television coming out just as a shilly-shallying device, it has been of an issue economically, politically, culturally and ethically for society in following years. The concept of stereotype has taken the lead the topic of racism. As for the concept of racism, has been raised by some concepts such as white person and the others. Mass media has been one of the main devices in the way white Americans perceive African-Americans. African-American people has been portrayed and lampooned in stereotypical and they have been represented in disparaging ways such as ignorant, joyous, lazy, superstitious, buffoonish and musical till the end of 1980s. That decade was the golden age for soap operas and TV shows like Dallas, Dynasty, Falcon Crest, and Knots Landing and the hit series like The Cosby Show, Cheers, and Family Tie. The references in these TV shows were mostly about the culture, consumer society, domestic issues and ethnicity in those years. Moreover, the Cosby Show can be assumed as a milestone in the racism policy of American history within its characteristic values. The way of reflecting traditional African-American stereotypes has been really surprising for the audiences. In this paper, I will examine the use of traditional stereotypes in sense of racism in the Cosby Show aired between 1984 and 1992.
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The media portrays many faulty stereotypes about various races and these stereotypes who are members of certain groups with which we have not had firsthand contact are reflected in a chagrining way in general. The media branches such as the television, books, comic strips, and movies are all exuberant sources of stereotyped characters. By stereotyping the people or some ethnic groups, we kind of mark the people with certain characteristics. For much of American history, The US media focuses in on specific races and negatively represents them. Thus, this situation perpetuates the racial stereotypes in American society. It is frankly seems that some certain ethnic groups who have not white skin -African Americans in particular – are mostly reflected as being less intelligent, more vulgar, and more violent than the Caucasian citizens when we go through the American history. The white people have seemed to have more privileges that the other ethnic groups. Furthermore, this situation kin of turns into an `internalized racism.` The black people have felt this inferiority in society as the white people have started to think that the black people are inferior compared to them in course of time. Ruth Fr°nkenberg (1996) mentions about someexamples in her research. She also mentions that she received a worse or poor service when she went in public places such as cafes when she was with other friends who has white skin.
The roots of whiteness concept date back to time of colonization. This concept has risen in Britain an the British people thought the the Ñ€eÐ¾Ñ€le Ð¾f the Middle E°Ñ•t as others. Edw°rd Ð…°id (1978) indicates that there were two different kinds of people in society as the Orient who is white and kind and the others who are not Westerners and civilized. In process of time, the concept of others w°Ñ• Ñ°rried tÐ¾ NÐ¾rth ÐmeriÑ° and it is transferred to the Native an African Americans.
In media, these others are shown as the threats for white people till the end of 1980s. Even in the cartoons, it can be frankly seen that many of the black characters with minority voices are not shown to be as smart as the whiter characters. These stereotypes have created the nature of prejudice in American society against the black people. In general sense of traditional stereotyping, the dominant culture consists of white middle class as African-Americans are unfairly and unrealistically portrayed as violent, angry, hostile and criminally minded. This misrepresentation of African Americans became the common image on television till the end of 1980s. The new media was not showing the reality in cultural sense as it seemed opportunity for equal representation and communication between the races.
The negative image of African American people which was developed by these stereotypes was perpetuated in some TV shows such as the Amos and Andy Show. This TV show began as a radio show featuring two white men portraying two comedic black men. This TV show showed up between 1920s an 1950s for the first time and it became very popular that time. In course of time, some alternative TV shows such as the Cosby Show have risen against the black inferiority.
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The Cosby Show showed up in a period the black people seeking for their own roles and identities in American society. In the show, there was Huxtable family that consists of Cliff and Clair Huxtable, and their five children: Rudy, Vanessa, Denise, Theo, and Sondra. The father was doctor as the mother was lawyer. This family was an upper-middle class Black family. This TV show was a new image of African American families presented and it was not accepted fully because it failed to represent the full cultural scope of African Americans according to the many people. A new trend showed up with the Cosby Show although it was not fully accepted and African American families started to tend to watch programs with primarily African American casts.
The media has a great power to influence the societies and the individuals in TV shows are accepted as real characters in real world. The American society has had a tendency to accept the false images as the truth and the images misrepresenting African Americans has had negative effects on American culture till the Cosby Show.
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