Advancement in technology in the 20th and 21st centuries led to a great revolution in the media. Despite this revolution, the roles of the media remain unchanged. The role of the media is to educate, persuade, entertain, and express opinions in society. This paper will look at issues concerning the politics of media representation, how race and gender complicate the concept of representation, and finally, the paper shall suggest how sociologists can study the issue representation in the media.
Media representation creates most perceptions in the society. These perceptions created by the media are not always true but influence the behavior, values, and attitudes in the society. The media often propagates stereotypes along gender, political, racial, nationality, class, and ethnic lines. These biased stereotypes created by the media often lead to silent hatred between the opposing groups with a section having a desire to out-do the other. These intrigues have created a society that is suspect of each other and hinders free interaction among people from different political, racial, sexual, gender, class, and ethnic backgrounds. Furthermore, there are issues of employment, content and demography within the media itself (Gray, 2016). Due to these stereotypes, men of color were not also well represented in the employability in the media industry (Gray, 2016).
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In addition, the media has strangled the small existing space of democracy. In most occasions, the media will try to push their products and opinions down the throats of their listeners. For example, in the previous presidential campaigns in the United States, the media could be seen as openly supporting one candidate over the other, even though the situation in the ground was otherwise. This representation by the media has, therefore, turned more commercial than informative and dictatorial too.
The two main media misrepresentation has been evidenced in the propagation of racial and gender stereotypes. Through the news, music videos, films, movies, and advertisement, there has been a consistent exaltation of the white man and woman over the other races. The white man has been depicted a place in which manhood, masculinity, and nationhood meet. He is often portrayed as the perfect man and protector of the value of nationhood (Brooks & Hebert, 2004). The black man is perceived as a criminal and a sexual spoiler of the white woman, inherently angry, potentially violent, and sexually aggressive. Most of these racial biases in the United States is very pronounced between Black and White Americans. The Asian and Latino man has not received much media misrepresentation in the media compared to the black men.
Women have not been spared by the media. The black woman is portrayed as ‘mammies, matriarchs, jezebels, welfare mothers and tragic mulattoes are a core theme in black feminist thought ‘(Brooks & Hebert, 2004). Most local news depicts the African women as Jezebels, wicked women, and lazy bags. In most music movies, the black woman is the centre of all sexual attention. The video can have a single man surrounded by seemingly ‘sex hungry’ African women. Asian and Latino women, on the other hand, are always portrayed in the different forms of media as the exotic and sexualized. In the film industry, the Asian women are either depicted as passive figures existing to meet the love interests of white men or else they are dragon ladies and partners in crime of men of their kind ‘(Brooks & Hebert, 2004).
Apart from the racial biasness, women in the media are portrayed as servants of the men. The women are portrayed as existing to meet the sexual needs of men, give them children and take care of the kids. The women take the lower level jobs, in most cases, as the men serve as their bosses and instructors.
Sociologists’ study of representation in the media is multi-pronged. Sociologists argue the media has a far-reaching effect on a person’s behavior and attitudes. The masculinity and feminism of men and women can be seen as defining the roles of men and women as those which most should aspire to. On the contrary, women would view their roles as less important to those of men. Again, the modern man has evolved with time. This has created a situation where men are now going for surgery to get in touch with their feminine side to look more attractive. Racial representation creates bad blood between the races and affects the esteem of the races which are portrayed inferior and negatively. This created perceptions which, even though they are not true, most people would use as a basis of their argument, or view of the other person.
On the flipside, sociologists would argue that as a man, one has an edge in working in most departments in the media industry. This could be due to the fact that the production part of the media is one of the most tasking departments of most media company. Men also are thought to still have an edge over their female counterparts in the technical skills which might give them an advantage. On the other hand, the men of color have to resign to roles which the media has portrayed them. In most cases, especially in the TV production, most media house will have more white presenters than their black counterparts. The blacks, therefore, work behind the scenes most of the time.
- Brooks, E. D., Hebert, P. L.. (2004, January 12). Gender, Race & Mas Representation. Retrieved March 7th, 2017, from https://trdemetrius.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/gender_race_and_media_representation_au1.pdf
- Gray, H. (2016). Precarious Diversity: Representation and Democracy. In K. S. Michael Curtis, Precarious Creativity: Global Media, Local Labor (pp. 241-254). California: University of California Press.
- Kellner, D. (n.d.). The Media and Social Problems. Retrieved March 7th, 2017, from https://pages.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/essays/medsocialproblems.pdf