The Role of Ethnicity and Race in the Way Audiences Interpret Media Messages
According to the sociological definition of race and ethnicity, there is a close interrelation between race and ethnicity. Race has not been defined by the biological difference that it is stood on the social construct. Race does not discriminate the skin color from others which is related to the ethnicity. Race is defined on the social construct which based on physical and cultural features (Fulcher & Scott, 2007).
‘Ethnicity is a general category for describing collective identities’ (Fulcher & Scott, 2007:200). Ethnicity is based on the cultural and historical background that it means the people in this ethnic group is sharing the same language, religion and same experience of life. Ethnicity is the ethnic characteristic for the specific race.
Ethnicities represent the role for separating the different race. In terms of race, people might have the racism to the different culture of others which might base on the historical colonization, the control of the western culture and so on (Fulcher& Scott, 2007). This racism also occurs in the media. The western media may intentionally neglect the people of Black or Asian. Media are more likely to use the white people as their main character. Although media has increased the number of the Black and Asian people in recent year on the screen, there is still the inequality in the media product. The Black and Asian people might totally disappear in some scene which is shot in the place with the large number of Black and Asian people (Ross & Playdon, 2001). This phenomenon provokes the anger and dissatisfaction of the Black and Asian people.
Also, media may offer the wrong information for those minorities. Media tend to give the stereotype, which contain western notion of those minorities, for the audiences. The personal and cultural characteristics of the Black and Asian people might have the discrepancy between the reality and which show on the screen. The media are always showing something distinguishing and deviant about them. Moreover, for those minorities, this is not easy to stay on the screen for a long time (Ross & Playdon, 2001).
However, along with time, audiences tend to accept the minorities appear on the screen although they do not show the totally positive opinion of seeing the minorities on the screen that they tend to keep themselves in the neutral status. Despite of the high acceptance of the minorities, some media still rarely use the minorities in the media product (Dines & Humez, 2002).
It is not only race play a different role in the media product but also in the audiences’ interpretation of media messages. People in the different cultural background may decode the media messages to different way. Furthermore, audiences focus on different points of media messages in terms of the research that people have the same age, education background but different race which are grouped and asked...