Matchmaker. com: Sign up now for a free trial. Date Smarter!Television and RaceRace Televised: America’s BabysitterAt some point in the course of human events,America decided that the television was their Dali Lama, their culturaland spiritual leader. Overlooking its obvious entertainment based purpose,Americans have let the television baby-sit and rear their children.
I donot recall a manifesto from the television industry, but society put televisionin a role it does not have authority in. The only thing television setout to do was provide the passive entertainment American society wants. True, television does not accurately reflect race in America, but it isnot the job of the television industry to do so. Too much importance hasbeen put on television to provide guidance and information that Americansociety has grown too lazy and too indifferent to find for themselves.Order now
When society finds that their information is wrong or tainted they blametelevision instead of finding truth and accuracy for themselves. Althoughtelevision does not reflect race accurately, Americans have become toodependent on television to provide everything they know. In one of this generation’s most popularTV shows, The Simpsons, it is easy to find stereotypes. There are numerousexamples throughout the series, mostly toward Apu, the Indian storekeeper. For example, in episode 1F10, Homer and Apu, the writers do not overlooka single Indian stereotype. First of all they have an Indian man as a conveniencestorekeeper.
The episode starts with Apu committing the usual conveniencestore stereotypes. For example he sells a $0. 29 stamp for $1. 85, $2 worthof gas for $4. 20, etc.
Next he changes the expiration dates on rancid hamand sells them. When his customer gets sick from it, he offers a 5 poundbucket of thawing shrimp. Later he picks up a hotdog that he dropped andputs it back on the hotdog roller. A news team catches him on hidden cameraand Apu’s boss fires him. In this scene we find out Apu has a stereotypicalIndian surname, Nahasapeemapetilan. His boss also makes a joke about theHindu religion.
“Ah, true. But it’s also standard procedureto blame any problems on a scapegoat or sacrificial lamb. ” The stereotypes continue redundantly. Jokesabout Indian films, food, and other things fill the script. Then thereis the grand finale, where Homer, the main character, and Apu go to Indiato ask for Apu’s job back at the main office.
The president and CEO veryclosely resembles a Hindu leader, making Indian and convenience store clerkappear synonymous. Other minorities are also misrepresentedin The Simpsons. In the same episode, for example, Homer is watching anAfrican American comedian who stereotypically stereotypes “white” guys. “Yo, check this out: black guys drive acar like this. Do, do, ch.
Do-be-do, do-be-do-be-do. Yeah, but white guys, see they drivea car like this. Dee-da-dee, a-dee-da-dee-da-dee. “Reverend Jesse Jackson says that the mediadepicts African Americans in “5 deadly ways: less intelligent. .
. less hardworking. . .
lessuniversal. . . less patriotic. . .
and more violent than we are. ” Gibbons, documenting Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign and the mediacoverage of it, also said:”American journalism – excellent when itreports the facts, but is literally incapable of informed opinion withoutbias when dealing with matters concerning race. ” Indians and African Americans are not alone. All minorities are depicted inaccurately. Asian Americans, for example,are represented “as perpetually foreign and never American. ” They are depicted”as murderous and mysterious, as amorous or amoral.
. . symbols of danger,refuge, inspiration, and forgiveness. ” “Lipsitz finds this “degrading, insulting,and implicated in the most vicious and pernicious form,” as he is expectedto.
The problem is television ridicules everyone, and it is a source ofentertainment, not culture and politics, which is what seems to be expectedof TV by society. TV is even criticized for not taking sides in ideologicaldebates,”Preferring instead to assert that an unlimitedpotential for new achievement and wealth in America can overcome contradictionsor conflict. ” The reason being that it is not TV’s jobto tell people what to believe. That is each individual’s responsibilityto develop themselves. Television is entertainment and entertainmentis escapism. Television was originally created to provide an escape fromlife’s trials and tribulations.
America watched TV to slip into a worldbetter than their own; not to develop their stance on the current politicalplatform “du jour. ” As society’s pace quickened, and TV’s popularity grew,it became a member of the family. TV told the family everything that happenedthat day. Soon American society forgot how to verify the information theTV gave them, and became dependent on it for all news and entertainment.
It became natural to “turn on, and tune out,” as the saying goes. Fast-forwardmany years, and society suddenly wants the TV to bring them the world theyhave been to busy or lazy to see for themselves instead of the fantasyworld that it was designed to show. The saying, “you can’t please everyone,all the time,” applies to TV, too. I do not see activists changing TV anytimesoon.
It is not possible. TV was designed for entertainment purposes. Thecontinuous restraints and censorship will just cost taxpayers more moneyand do little good. With the increasing popularity and simplicityof the Internet, I hope, people will do more for themselves and not bedependent on the TV to regurgitate biased information.
The TV was designedfor entertainment, and the news is no exception. Limited time restrainsthe facts and leaves the viewer in the dark. Hopefully the Internet willopen new doors for coming generations. The only way to solve any problems andconflicts is to accept the television medium as pure entertainment.
Takingit seriously is a futile effort, producing feeble results. If anything,the TV should be a starting point. If something on it sparks an interest,one needs to conduct further study to get the facts, and not rely solelyon the TV. Whether it is The Simpsons or the news,African or Asian Americans, the TV should be treated as entertainment,or disregarded all together. This is the simplest and most logical solution.
There are much more important issues to be dealt with than TV. I hate seeingso much time, effort, and intelligence wasted on it. Works CitedBaker, Aaron and Todd Boyd. Out of Bounds:Sports, Media, and the Politics of Identity.
Bloomington, IN: Indiana U. Press, 1997. Gibbons, Arnold. Race, Politics & theWhite Media: The Jesse Jackson Campaigns. Lanham, MD: U Press, 1993.
Homer and Apu. Writ. By Greg Daniels. TheSimpsons. Fox.
10 Feb 1994. Lipsitz, George. Book Review: MonitoredPeril: Asian Americans and the Politics of TV Representation. By DarrellY. Hamamoto.
Journal of Asian American Studies 1998: 104-107.