Stereotyping – A Human Flaw
Stereotyping has been a human flaw for years and is just a matter of perspective. The media takes this to another level because of the bias that is present in most media. Any outlet has had the perspective that another person may take offense to or not agree with. Sometimes it could be the other way around where people agree with how the media stereotypes them, but because of the closed perspective of the “male gaze,” most people have seen through the eyes of white men only. That leads to problems across the board, but in recent years, it seems that entertainment and news outlets have tried to diversify their media, and stop the stereotyping clichés that many people have become accustomed to.
Stereotypes are about everything in the entertainment industry to sex, age, professions, ethnicity, and the list can go on and on, but in the years, I have seen television I think the most obvious stereotypes are about sex and race. Those are at least the ones that come into the question if they are too offensive or not more than any of the others. Women stereotypically in entertainment are depicted as overly emotional, dependent, or less intelligent than their male counterpart in the show. Now that is the drastic stereotype that TV has tried to stray from, but it is still apparent today. Shows like the Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, The Goldbergs, and so on. Another thing that is apparent in the media is that a female lead is more likely to be blonde compared to male counterparts, which are apparent in 2 out of 3 of the shows listed above. Even with the negative stereotypes, there are few positive ones that have also been clichéd like how woman are more nurturing than men and can tend to be caring and gentle than men. It may not be a lot, but with how the industry was and is still dominated by the “male gaze” as of now you got to take what you can get. Men are usually depicted as these adventurous or clever fellows that are more like a son than a husband to their wife. They tend to be more independent and don’t let emotions get to them, which is given men more credit that they made need sometimes. Also, they are usually the person who has the higher paying job or depicted as the one who pays the bills. In gender stereotyping, it is obvious that men get more positive traits, but they too also fall under the spell of generalization.
Another big issue of stereotyping done in the entertainment industry is racial stereotyping, which is controversial, to say the least. Maybe not as clichéd as once was, but they have some ridiculous ideas about different races. In people of Asian or Indian descent usually geniuses in their respected areas of expertise. They also can be doctors or anything of high knowledge level to get in. Even little kids shows like on the Disney channel that are of this ethnicity have this trait of knowing a lot and just being smart. Another racial stereotype is African Americans, and how in shows and movies they are depicted as athletes. Any sports show you will have a lot of the kids be African Americans. That is not bad, but it is a hasty generalization. Middle Eastern people are depicted as low paying workers like taxi drivers or even in some more adult shows like Family Guy they are depicted as a terrorist. Whether used for comic relief or not it isn’t necessarily right to do. Italians are your mafia members or greasers and your Irish people or people of that descent are drunks. Those barely scrap the surface of what is on TV or movies, but those are common traits that are seen that have caused controversy in the past. I do see shows trying to stray away from those stereotypes, but those are still apparent across the TV. Another big thing is that more shows have taken an approach of having different ethnicities be the leading families instead of your standard white family that has been a norm for generations of media.
In the news business, a recent example of stereotyping has been broken for what I have recently seen. The idea of diversifying a cast or set on a news station has been a leap for the general norm of yesteryear. I noticed on ESPN that more women have been on shows, and lead their own shows that have been for many years a male-dominated industry, but I have started to see more woman in for men. Fox has also done this with more female hosts and adding more ethnicities for other shows like Undisputed and Speak for Yourself. These ideas of diversifying are breaking a norm that has been in the media for years. This also will encourage more people to get involved with these networks, which will eventually break the “male gaze”, and bring stereotyping down because all perspectives will be heard. This movement has been happening for a while, but other networks have started to show steps in the same direction, which makes a big leap forward for media in general.
The reason most of stereotyping is apparent is because the media reflects our culture, and at times stereotypes were a bigger player in society than they are now. With that said, our culture is in a transitional period between the past and the future, which is why now we see the “norms” disappearing in front of us because media is trying to reflect the culture. That culture is not run by primarily whites anymore or men, it has a diverse cast now of many ethnic groups. Stereotypes will change over time along with the media, and I think that the “male gaze” will become a neutral party. That will make just about everything neutral, which is what it should be in this culture because of how many different lives are impacted by such a thing.