Racial Stereotypes On Television Essay

1853 words - 7 pages

For many years, racial and ethnic stereotypes have been portrayed on multiple television programs. These stereotypes are still illustrated on a day-to-day basis even though times have changed. Racial or ethnic stereotypes should not be perpetuated on certain television programs. These stereotypes provide false information about groups, do not account for every person, allow older generations to influence younger generations, create tension between groups, and affect people in many ways.

To begin, racial or ethnic stereotypes on certain television programs provide false information about groups of people. The characters illustrated in these programs are formed by what writers believe. When a show is created, the writers take the basic features of a character and expand based on what they think viewers will enjoy. Yet these creations can be biased due to how hard the writer is willing to work.
For example, the show Everybody Hates Chris portrays an African-American family living in Bed-Sty, Brooklyn. The family is shown as living from paycheck to paycheck and trying to better their lives. Yet, the neighborhood around them influences many of their decisions. Many of the minor characters are portrayed as African-American people who will do anything in order to survive, such as murder or steal. It also shows the Caucasian persons as being superior and “better”.
Another example would be the show George Lopez. This show is based on a Mexican-Cuban family living in Los Angeles. The family goes through struggles, such as their son having dyslexia, their daughter joining private school, and George trying to find his biological father.

Many of the statements and visuals portrayed are those that negatively illustrate how Mexicans and Cubans act. It portrays the Caucasian group as successful and ambitious, while the Hispanic group is shown as lethargic and simple-minded.
An additional example would be Good Times, which illustrates the story of an African-American family living in Chicago. The storyline shows how hard this family works to attempt to move out of the “ghetto”. Their home is portrayed as a cramped apartment that constantly needs repair. The family also goes through many situations, ranging from marriage and happiness to death and sorrow. This family is seen by others in the program as “hard workers, even though they may not get anywhere”. Caucasians are portrayed as of a higher class and therefore carry more importance.

A well-known fact associated with stereotypes is that negative events and characteristics of out-group members are attributed to their personal dispositions while negative events and characteristics of in-group members are attributed to situational factors (Pettigrew, 1979) (Izumi and Hammonds). Stereotypes are thus distinct from racial attitudes, which reflect affective evaluations or preferences, where one group is consistently considered more positively and another more negatively (Pauker, Ambady and Apfelbaum)....

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