Stereotyping in media

Essay by sweet_pondsUniversity, Bachelor's November 2002

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Communication and the Media - Assignment One - Topic One

In western society, stereotype is commonly placed onto what Anglo-Saxons believe that they are not normal to their culture. Fundamentally, the media also play a part in how people "think" and generalise a group of individuals, based on the other's gender, race, religion, hair colour and so forth. This essay will discuss the stereotype that is reinforced in specific print and broadcast media representations, concentrating on three examples of gender-roles, blondes, and African-Americans, and what it tells about dominant ideologies.

Firstly, we have fixed beliefs, opinions and attitudes that individuals hold about typical characteristics of female and male gender roles. These may relate to personality, where males are tough and intensive, while on the other hand, the females are usually the weak and sensitive (Williams, La Rose & Frost, 1981). A popular example of this is in the television series of "The Simpsons", an American cartoon series.

In "The Simpsons", the man (i.e. Homer Simpson) is portrayed as a drunken, obese ogre who is stupid and doesn't know how to behave appropriately, or be a proper father figure to his children. The woman (Marge Simpson, the wife and mother of three children) however, is portrayed as a sensible, musically orientated, and fun-loving person (Jorian, 1997).

Furthermore, Gunter argues that there are two major traits to female stereotyping; firstly, there is a severe under-representation of women in action-drama films in terms of actual numbers relative to the males. Secondly, even when women do appear, they tend to be portrayed only in a very selected range of roles. An example of this the James Bond movie "The World Is Not Enough", where he is the witty, handsome hero, while the female actress is portrayed as the helpless victim, even though she plays...