Stereotypes in the media are about as new as the invention of the wheel. The news media’s framing of social events and issues has also become par for the course. Like news media, entertainment media often reflects or incorporates current events into its production. As I have noted before, the cultural production of entertainment media is often a subjectively creative replication or manifestation of hegemonic norms. For instance, in the 1990s, many box office films and television shows incorporated story lines displaying the crack epidemic of the time. In doing so, many African Americans, and African American males particularly, were frequently portrayed as ruthless drug dealers or users. In the same manner, Hispanic or Latino males are often cast as homicidal gang bangers with little to no empathy for human life. Of course, the perpetuation of media stereotypes has not excluded women of color, as women of color are often portrayed in a negative light as well (e.g., prostitute, crack abusing mother, etc.). (more…)
Each year, Hollywood celebrates what it considers to be the best in motion picture entertainment. The event, better known as the “Oscars”, presents awards to everyone they perceive as the best that year by category including best leading actress, best leading actor, best supporting actress, best supporting actor, best director, best musical composer, best screenwriter(s), etc. Nominees are decided based on a vote of The Academy, a collective body of persons deemed to possess expert knowledge in the respective fields of expertise within the business of motion picture development. Final award recipients are also determined by a vote of The Academy. Hence, it is widely perceived that a nod, or nomination, by The Academy, gives an individual or artistic endeavor even greater credibility.
It should go without saying that the Oscars are a monumental, cultural event. Television and print media outlets, morning shows, and web-based entertainment sites, to name a few, invest heavily in the coverage of the Oscars. All aspects of the Oscars are covered and speculated upon including the attendees’ fashion choices, after parties, menu, and of course, the nominees and eventual winners. Because of the attention that Oscar nominees receive, it is often a career validating or catapulting moment for those in the movie making business.
This year, as in previous years, there has been an enormous amount of discussion about the lack of diversity among this year’s nominees. (In fact, this year’s ceremony has earned the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.) Not one person of color was nominated for the categories of best lead actress, best lead actor, best supporting actress, and best supporting actor. This was especially an issue for many, as the movie Selma that, chronicled the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, did not receive the nominations many believed it deserved. A range of hypotheses have been offered in response to the lack of diverse nominations. Some have contended there simply was not an adequate number of persons of color in leading roles this past year while others have contended that the demographic composition of the Academy obscures the unbiased perception and subsequent equitable selection of nominees. (more…)
According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2012, more than half of babies under the age of 1 were a racial or ethnic minority. Such findings support the assertion that, ultimately, the United States will become a majority-minority country. Thus, cultural production via television should reflect such. For this reason, I am rather befuddled when I see television shows whose cast fails to reflect the demographics of the location in which the show is set.
As an example, although the state of California had the most single-race, non-Hispanic Whites in 2011, the state’s population is rather diverse with Asians, American Indians, Blacks, Hispanic/Latinos, Native Hawaiians, and bi-racial or multiracial persons collectively comprising 65 percent of the total state population. Looking more closely on the local level, Pasadena, CA, the setting of the Big Bang Theory, is similarly (more…)