Stereotype Issues In Television And Films In The Past Research Paper Example

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Women, Cinema, Media, Film, Television, Democracy, Minority, Culture

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2020/12/25

Innovation of Television and films: Representation of Minorities and Women

Minorities and women have for a long time been under-represented in popular culture productions like television and films. Television and films may have varying storylines but the majority of protagonists are white males (Williams 825). The white male protagonists represent the majority groups, and this leads to under-representation of minority groups and women. Additionally, the common trend has been the allocation of minor roles and their depiction mostly as racist people whenever they have had a chance to feature in popular culture productions. Minority groups have borne the effects of under-representation in popular culture due to failure to showcase their cultural practices leading to obscurity of these groups. Moreover, women’s issues fail to be articulated in fictional productions creating ignorance among the population about these issues. Ultimately, this becomes the genesis of blatant disregard of women issues leading to unfair treatment of women. This widespread practice needs to be challenged because it is purely a misconception that has taken root and spread its tentacles. Biased and unfair representation of characters from minority groups was widespread in the television programs and films of the past but the situation has been changing for the better owing to the continued innovation in these popular culture productions in recent and current times.

For a long time, African-Americans were depicted as savages or street thugs in television productions and films. Women on the hand have always been given small roles such as nurses, communications officers, or mere love interest of male protagonists. There have been many television productions and movies in the past which have propagated these same old stereotypes. Example of films that carried the long held unfounded stereotypes of blacks include “The Family Man,” “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” “What Dreams May Come,” and “The Green Mile.” In “The Green Mile,” a black man who had been incarcerated heals a prison of an ailment by simply touching him (Gonzalez, n.p). By this action, the black inmate essentially is depicted as a savage that has noble characteristics of healing. Curing a disease should involve some medication and not merely an act that appears to be a miracle. In “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” has a black man that has immense powers who teaches a white male how to play golf with the instinct of a champion (Gonzalez n.p). The representations of blacks as people who have immense powers serve to depict them as not normal human beings but savage people. The film is hell-bent on depicting males as savage creatures with immense powers and this had the potential to exacerbate the practice of lynching blacks common in Georgia; the location of the film. On television productions, the BET network is geared towards serving the African American audiences. On most of the productions on this television network, African-Americans are depicted as rappers, basketball players, and people engaged in drug peddling. The television rarely does carry shows that depict African-American as scientists, professors, or engineers, and leads to unavailability of positive influences that can serve to guide young African-American children.
Moreover, women are mostly depicted as merely sex objects so as to enchant the male viewers. Female sexuality is an issue that is manipulated to entertain the male audiences. In the film “Basic Instinct,” the female actor Sharon Stone shows the audience her crotch to depict her aggressiveness. In most of Bond movies, women are depicted as seductive and dangerous. In the film “Catwoman,” female characters are depicted as sexually aggressive because that enchants the male audiences hence bring in the revenues. In the movie “Scary Movie” a woman is depicted unfairly whereby a blast of semen is used to blast her to a ceiling. Such a character depiction is outright wrong because it presents women as sex slaves which is devastating and lowers the dignity of women. Women have the potential to take up other roles that do not paint them in bad light and celebrate their capabilities like being pilots, environmentalists or professors.

Innovation in television and film

Innovation in television and film involves translating the creative ideas into programs and films that enchant viewers from of all cadres regardless of their racial background or gender. This involves characters from minority groups and women being protagonists in the popular culture production or playing major roles. Moreover, it involves dropping the initial stereotypes that represented and inculcation of a balanced depiction that is focused on judging the characters based on their content of their character and not gender or color of skin. Television and film has undergone immense innovation with characters from minority groups taking important roles and women being depicted as capable characters. There has been immense progress in the way minorities are depicted in television and in films. Television is exceedingly influential especially for children because the stereotypes and beliefs they convey is what children will pick up as the correct ones.
Stereotyping in TV programs and films still persists but great innovation and improvement has taken place. Some of the comedies and dramas where characters are female and take lead roles include “The Playboy,” “Luther,” and “Supah Ninjas and (Hunt et al, n.p). In all these characters from minority groups are given major roles to play. The unbiased depiction of these characters is also done away with.
Some of the recent broadcast dramas and comedies that had women playing lead roles include “Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse,” “Nikita “Scandal,’ and.” “Single Ladies.” The common practice of giving female characters minor roles is turned upside down as women play major role in these productions. The protagonist in “Nikita” is a female Chinese woman. The uptake of lead roles by women in films indicates that there is innovation that has taken place and the earlier practice is fading away (Lotz 23). It is necessary for television and film industry to undergo innovation so as to be more valuable and be able to be appealing to all people regardless of their racial background or gender.
The issue of under-representation of minority groups and women in popular media production elicits varying views among people. Some people can develop the tendency to shrug off this misrepresentation and under-representation of women and minorities as a non-issue. Their reason for this is that, the productions are merely virtual creations that take place a fictional universe (Giroux 10). This view is ill-informed because the productions as much they are virtual creations, they have an effect in the real world. The marginalization of people from minority groups fans the creation of stereotypes that these people carry no significance in the entire societies. Moreover, the underrepresentation is unnecessaryconsideringthatwomenandminoritygroupsformthelargestgroup of viewers of these popular media productions be it on television, film, or movies. By the virtue that they comprise the group of major consumers, they should be represented even more in the same. They should get chances to watch characters that they can relate to and identify with. Additionally, the under-representation of women and minority groups in popular media productions creates a loophole for these groups of people to escape in a world where they are non-existent or where they are caricatured poorly beyond limits or repair. To avoid this, women and minority groups should be represented even more in movies, games, and films to avoid the possibility of the groups disappearing into oblivion or being unfairly caricatured. Characters from these groups may not be ready to play roles that demean their cultural backgrounds or belittle them. There is a strong likelihood that these characters will play roles that further the appreciation of their cultures and societal roles. Moreover, the inclusion of women and characters from minority groups as protagonists in these popular culture productions serves to put these groups in the limelight and acknowledgment of their potential. This makes the playing field be level and reinforces the necessity of judging people by the content of their character and not their skin pigmentation, cultural background, sexual orientation, or some biased basis.


Despite the widespread biased and unfair representation of characters from minority groups and women in the television programs and films of the past, there has been immense innovation in popular culture productions in recent and current times. The kind of innovation television programs and films are undergoing is very welcome. The innovation remains minimal but there is hope that television programs and films keep innovating and improving in the future. That it will reach a time when characters from minority groups and women are not unfairly stereotyped or denied major roles. A fair and unbiased representation of characters from minority groups and female characters is important because a popular media production that is hell-bent on marginalizing particular segments of society does a great disservice to society since it leads to unwanted classification that may lead to the breakdown of the social fabric (Sunder 125). The excess use of male whites as protagonists in popular culture leads to sweeping of women issues under the carpet. Moreover, this has the potential to sow seeds of racism and unwarranted distaste among people with varying racial, cultural, and geographical backgrounds. The importance of television programs and films in creating stable societies cannot be underestimated. They can easily achieve a wide reach and an alarming viewership. Hence they can leverage on this potential to influence societal cohesiveness, creating a platform for every segment of society to thrive (Brown et al. 5). Moreover, television programs and films have the potential to address important global issues like racism and disregard of women issues through their content and the biased and unfair representation of the same is counterproductive since it negates any gains made.

Works Cited

Brown, John Seely, and Paul Duguid. The social life of information. Harvard Business Press, 2002.
Giroux, Henry A. Disturbing pleasures: Learning popular culture. Routledge, 1994.
Gonzalez, Susan. "Yale Bulletin and Calendar." Yale Bulletin and Calendar. Yale University, 2 Mar. 2001. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.
Hunt, Dr. Darnell, Dr. Ana-Christina Ramon, Dr. Zachary Price, and Amberia Allen. "2014 Hollywood Diversity Report." Http:// 1 Feb. 2014. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.
Lotz, Amanda D. Redesigning women: Television after the network era. University of Illinois Press, 2006.
Volpp, Leti. "The citizen and the terrorist." UCLA Law Review 49 (2002).
Sunder, Madhavi. From goods to a good life: intellectual property and global justice. Yale University Press, 2012.
Williams, Dmitri, et al. "The virtual census: Representations of gender, race and age in video games." New Media & Society 11.5 (2009): 815-834.

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