Mendoza 1 Austin Mendoza 11 October 2018 Jane Sullivan English Composition 1 Representation for different groups of people is fairly common in media today, but was it always like this? How has it evolved to the diversity that is present now to say ten, twenty, or even five decades previously? This study will bring light to the portrayal of minorities in the media and how it has changed, showing the good and the bad to prevent history of repeating it’s malicious take on marginalized people.
In the beginning of media, African Americans have been in the media since 1888, first solidifying the infamous black face and lazy, violent, uneducated and childish stereotypes that follow them even today. The first black man in a feature film was Lincoln Perry, who was portrayed as the laziest man on Earth. In many of his films such as, David Harem (1934), Judge Priest (1934), The County Chairman (1935), and many more, he is portrayed as the fumbling incompetent character who is dimwitted, mentally handicapped, and has excessively wild and impulsive behavior.
In reality, he is nothing like this however, as he is completely different than his character in every way. Perry was described as a very complex and literate man– and he was anything butMendoza 2 what people took him to be. Meaning he was portrayed falsely in limelight for racist, demeaning, and comedic reasons. However, in the 1930s, black leaders were putting pressure on Hollywood to stop the screening of stereotypes that were created by Perry in his character Stepin Fetchit. African Americans believed that they were painting a picture for white people to not view them as capable or coherent members of society. Even with his rapid success in becoming an actor and advocate for harmful portrayals of black people, he struggled with a battle of equal pay, something he could not achieve, after that his career subsided and as the civil rights movement was on the rise by 1940, Stepin Fetchit was a scar left on the community they wanted absolutely no memory or part of. When Perry became bedridden in 1976, his producer found him in a nursing home still fighting to reconstruct that image. The projection of black people since the very beginning was riddled and controlled in racist ideologies that had started the foundation of hateful representation. The purpose of these illustrations is the show that black people are not and will never be like white people meaning calm, smart, and literate, even when those depictions are far from the truth. Live action films are not the only culprits for stereotyping black people. There are plenty of other mediums to slip it under the radar, and one of them is what a lot of Americans rely on for information surrounding their local area and areas from all around the country and that is the news media.Mendoza 3 If you watch the news, then perhaps you also view most African American families as poor, on welfare, gangsters, or criminals.The distorted imagery of black people in america has affected them not only in a social way, which gives white people the opinions of black people being dirty and unstable, but also in a political way. A lot of welfare restrictions, unwarranted drug testing, and even more strict work requirements were instituted due to these stereotypes played by hollywood producers. It was later found according to Nicole Rodgers, founder of Family Story that Overtime, political leaders and the media worked pathologize black families to justify slavery and the Jim Crow laws as well as mass incarceration, economic inequity, and urban disinvestment. Due to documents such as the Fair employment law, It makes it must more difficult for employers to discriminate before even meeting the potential employees based on inaccurate stereotypes. However, hen these news outlets choose not to highlight the many instances of when black people are discriminated, receive harsher punishment by the criminal system, or obtain less attention from medical professionals, white people are absolutely convinced that things are getting better for black peopleMendoza 4 The true media has plenty of racist projections of minorities, however there is still another media that pushed the stereotypes to the surface, especially for small children and that is animated media, which became popular in the early 1949 to 1960s. Racists cartoons sooned flooded televisions and movie screens all across America. Cartoons such as Jungle Jitters, Bugs Bunny’s All this and rabbit stew, and Tom and Jerry’s Plane dumb All feature racial stereotypes of black people being ridiculously illiterate, ignorant, and idiotic. The characters always lose or fail and never accomplish their objective, nothing but unfortunate things happen to the characters, and the depictions are almost all identical showing them with large black lips, extremely dark skin, broken english, and buck teeth. These depictions were exposed to small children, whom the demographic became popular for. The cartoons put these behaviors in kids impressionable minds, most likely an agenda to prove at a young age that blacks are inferior early. However, surely these cartoons and racist depictions in them have subsided from sixty years ago. Well, here in 2018, a racist comic cartoon depiction of Serena Williams, famous tennis athlete, has surfaced. After being penalized in a tennis match, Serena snapped her racket in half and was penalized again. Mark Knight, a comic artist, created a racist depiction of an angry Serena stomping on her racket next to a baby’s pacifier, while the referee is asking the white, thin opponent if she could just let her win. All of this occurred just last month in September. This is a reflection of our progress and recent progress and obstacles in media.Mendoza 5 The media and its producers are not interested in progressive with their content but would rather appease and accommodate the offended audience members with token characters. These characters are finite and only appear to calm down audience members who demand representation. These minorities who seem to be extinct give the impression that there are less of them or they are unimportant to the white counterparts. This also raises arguments from ignorant viewers or children when they do in fact see representation in the spotlight such as Why does this character have to be black, gay, latino, female, fat, etc. Minorities in the real world are in no way a separate species or entity from whites, their presence is just as apparent as caucasians. The Industry is making agonizingly slow progress to break the mold of white straight male that is the foundation of all storytelling from to past to this moment forward. It’s become such a huge high-scale issue that it takes big names at the top of the tier list of celebrities and the industry as a whole to convince these producers and media content creators to make appropriate changes. The impact of representation is very important for many reasons. According to Nicole Martins of Indiana University, there is a hardwired notion in people’s mind called symbolic annihilation which is that If you do not see people like you in the media, you are somehow unimportant in the world and that stories affect our lives, how we live them, or how we think of ourselves. Representation in media has definitely improved in media today. Powerful movies such as Black Panther’ has evolved the inclusion ofMendoza 6 black actors and non white main characters. The movie has set a landmark for casting as well as raised the standards of representation in media. In the movie, the portrayal of the characters is very true to how real Africans as well as African Americans truly behave in that yes the villain is black however it proves not all black people are angelic. They act like normal human beings with goals, some with advanced intelligence, signs of competence, and depth beyond their skin color. Black Panther truly marks the progression of the depiction of minorities of featured films in media in Hollywood and it would do well to continue the trend. Not only has the film ‹Black Panther ‹improved the presence of black people in media, but it’s also had a significant impact on cultural awareness and acceptance. By exposing audience viewers to more cultural differences, the stereotypes of minorities has subsided and the characters for Asians, Italians, Blacks, and Latinos became more sensitive in how they are handled. Backlash for portraying characters in a negative way prevents the use of stereotypes and harmful depictions, making them extremely rare in mainstream media. The news, however, is still guilty of portraying black people as malicious and violent to further the agenda that there are no bad policeman, only bad black people.Mendoza 7 The portrayal of minorities, specifically african americans has changed a significant deal from the past six decades to present year. What started with extreme racial stereotypes, evolved to systemic propaganda and manipulation of the public eye to paint blacks as poor and unmanageable, and then to outright having them star in the biggest and most progressive movies for blacks of all time in the most present year. The representation has certainly painted a bright future for the depictions of minorities going forward, although there is still hurtful stereotypes lingering subtly in some media today, the progression is steadily making its way into the center of media and minorities are receiving the representation they’ve been longing for, however, there is still a long ways to go and only by supporting the media that does not endorse these stereotypes, can the portrayal of minorities in the media truly change for the absolute better.Mendoza 8 Works Cited