Television and Citizenship
The US culture and cultural development story are not reflective of all the groups. The general culture of the American population is biased towards the Americans of Europe descent. The cultures of the minority groups such as the African Americans, the Asian Americans, the Latinos and groups such as the LGBT are not represented in the mainstream American culture. One of the reasons for this is that these groups are the minorities and are fairly underrepresented or sometimes shunned in some forums. However, the main reason is that there were various stereotypes that were used against and among minority groups.
This structure was uncured in all aspects of life and even in the television contents. The television in the olden days and even today seems to establish and even anchor the existing hierarchies. For this reason, the culture of the majority was depicted to be the best. The cultures of the European Descent were depicted to be superior with their arts, culture, music and cuisine receiving more air play. On the other hand, the minorities were miss-depicted and stereotypes were and are sometimes used to set each minority group against the other.
According to lecture seven, the majority groups viewed themselves as the legitimate Americans. For this reason, the minorities in the first place were not viewed as Americans and their cultures were largely ignored. The majority group thought that legitimizing the television included airing content from legitimate people (Mittell 154). So when the Asian Americans and African Americans featured in the TV content, they were given some pre-determined and stereotyped roles. Scholars, politicians and prominent business people for television and movies and featured more on screens were predominantly white. This is seen in the TV Series Saturday Night live. The Asian Americans and the African Americans only appeared in movies or their roles were the negative ones, such as the ones associated with the lower class of life. For instance, the two minority groups would be depicted with traits such as having culture shock, having financial problems among others.
Over some time, these minority groups have leant to curve their niche in the TV content by specializing with the live audiences. The stereotypes still exist where the Asian Americans are depicted as experiencing culture shock, maneuvering through financial hardships among others. The African Americans on their side are depicted as having issues with family, poverty, and drugs, crime among others (Palmer 77).
Lecture 9 brings Van Zoonen’s augment that depicts personalities upon which people are judged as modernist while others aren’t. It also brings about an idea where individualisms or personalities are chosen rather than substance in politics and other spheres of life. In the eyes of stereotyping, the ideas of the minority were not appraised to check whether they might have been useful. The same happened concerned to the culture, the music and the art. It was generally though that these people did not have anything to offer in any way. In other words, it would not make any differences by including them into the mainstream society’s culture. They were and are not included in the upper spheres of life. For instance, despite there is more than 18 million Americans of Asian origin, very few TV programs in which they feature. They are seriously underrepresented in all spheres of life, say politics, business, and mass media among others.
On the other hand, the Africans Americans can be said to be represented in several spheres including politics and the music. However, the stereotype here occurs in the form of the popular culture as seen in lecture 9. It is a phenomenon resulting from the inferiority complex of the black minority who think they must adopt the personalities of the white population in order to attract influence. This pays off as the blacks who subscribe to the popular culture become elected or easily integrated in the spheres of the lifestyles of the majority. This influences the potential influence that the black culture should have in shaping the overall culture of the US (Mittell 154).
It is extremely important to fund the mechanisms that are geared towards assisting the citizens to understand the citizenship. There are various ways through which this has been done and continue to be achieved; lecture six shows the chronology of funding for citizenship education in the public television from the late 1950s. Many broadcasting stations such as the Education Television Network and the National Educational Television NET were also engaged in the education (Ouellette & James 87). Large organization such as the Ford Foundation chipped in to ensure that that public education was not stalled for lack of finances. However, the greater question lies with the content of the broadcasting. The education depends on the content aired. This is regardless of the amount of funds involved. The federal government chipped in with some funding, but this did not prevent the existing information channels from being abused despite the president electing the 9-member board that was later confirmed by the senate for the purpose of equal representation across all cultures and social classes.
Organizations that paid for this form of education had their own interest. For this reason, the content aired was particularly important and leads to the current state of imbalance. The education was used to shape the overall culture towards the popular majority as seen in the lecture seven. Moves were made by several players to ensure that the culture of the majority remained as the most popular, transformative and the overall best. As seen in the document ‘Television Race and Citizen Ship’ the media education was and is sometimes used to shape the public perception in a given way. A good example is in the Minstrel TV Show where Sambo: a black character is portrayed as being extremely irresponsible, annoying, submissive, and unkempt among others. With such shows – and this being one of the very few shows in which the Black minority is featured, the white culture is depicted as the culture of choice for everyone seeking advancement and refinement. It is portrayed as the ideal culture of the Americans. In the PowerPoint Document – Scandal’ous -, Murdock argument insist on how the history of TV has made the Americans and the media to have a framed mindset in what is aired. Murdock points out to the current statuses where there are several TV channels but airing almost similar content.
The advantages of this case are most of the positive aspects of the culture of the American majority has now been taught to many. Additionally this was crucial as it contributed to the refined culture of the American majority being aired to the whole globe. Despite this culture being biased, the country was made to have a national culture (Palmer 77). It also set the trends for what would be aired in the future. Important to notice that despite the extremely many TV stations present in the US today, they seem to have a similar content of the ideal American citizenship. Although this culture was an idealized form in the past, it appears that the reality today and many people across the board can identify with it except few variations. The negative aspects of funding cultural citizenship are that the culture of the financiers is popularized over the others. For that reason, the culture of the minorities as well as the lower class that does not have enough money to fund the education is simply ignored. This leads to skewed culture that represents the upper class of the society without including the minority. The minority groups are taught into some culture that is not inclusive, which might make them feel not a part of the nation.
The writers Simon Jung Ashley Fuller, and Yi Wang sheds new light in the issue of television and citizenship that is particularly crucial. In all the education work done on the television, especially on the promotion of culture, social and political life, a trend appears in their work. In the PowerPoint Presentation named race television and citizenship, the trend that comes out is that the culture and the social lives of the minority groups are seriously tainted. The social life of the Americans of the African origin is systematically shown to be irresponsible and potentially dangerous as most of the males are seen to be extremely violent, childish and heavily addicted to drugs or attracted to criminal activities. In the same light, the Latino Americans are also negatively depicted as unintelligent and sometimes childish like their black counterparts. The Asian men and women are portrayed as being extremely asexual or hypersexual. These authors portray the willful miss depiction of the minority groups by the media and framing by the same media.
In other words, the authors show the concerted efforts by some parties in the media to portray the culture of the white Americans as the perfect culture that everyone should aspire to. With the same trend, the popular culture will consume all the other cultures, which are rich enough that should be used to further enrich the American culture. The central concept of these authors is showing the biasness in the favor of the popular culture of the majority, which is to some extent exposes some of the minority groups to police brutality among other undesirable consequences (Palmer 14).
The authors Alex Xiques and Sydney Davison wrote suggesting that the program the Saturday Night Live, which was brought by the women of SNL. The authors view this as a show of the sophisticated lives of the people. Although this was a milestone, it shows and sometimes depicts misrepresentation of the minorities. This was a show that represented the top class of the American society in politics, business and the social life, which represents a small percentage of the whole population. There should have been representation of all the people and all the cultures. This leads to the issue talked about by Van Zoonen where the few in these programs will be seen as the models and people try to adapt or learn this culture, which is thought to beneficial. It means that the population might be influenced to be more interested in personalities that issues. As much as Van Zoonen was only commenting on an observation that takes place, the phenomenon of people focusing on the personality instead of issues in politics and other walks of life is not desirable. This is because every personality has its strengths and weakness and everyone’s personality has something to offer (Ouellette & James 87). For that reason, every one person or personality can contribute positively to the culture of the nation.
Simon Jang and Lauren lee confers in their opinion where in Lauren lee suggest that Van Zoonen format occurs even in the political cycles as acted out in the TV series ‘Scandal’ where the opinions among the politicians do not matter. Politicians sometimes are not concerned about the issues. In the political circles, there is a top circle that is seen as modern and therefore more likeable. For that reason, many politicians will shape their character and their personality to fit into this class where the issues are tossed out.
Ouellette, Laurie, and James Hay. Better Living Through Reality Tv: Television and Post-Welfare Citizenship. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub, 2008. Print.
Mittell, Jason. Television and American Culture. New York, N.Y: Oxford University Press, 2010 Print.
Palmer, Gareth. Discipline and Liberty: Television and Governance. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2003. Print.