Growing up, my favourite movies to watch were definitely Disney. At home I have three shelves of different Disney films, including all the Disney princess ones of course. I basically thought I was a princess and apart of Disney World. These movies truly fascinated me. I was a young girl who was mesmerized by their lives and the fairytales they were living in. I agree with the previous post in that these Disney movies highlight many negative stereotypes concerning gender and race. All of the princesses are beautiful, thin, and attractive young girls. These are the stereotypes and sexual scripts that are unfortunately instilled in the minds of children at such a young age.

Similarly, these stereotypes and sexual scripts are apparent in television shows today. In my opinion, I believe the degree to which television shows portray certain stereotypes is quite obscene in popular culture. The majority of television programs that adolescents watch nowadays are filled with gender stereotyping, racial stereotyping and as mentioned earlier sexual scripts. However, I also feel that some shows are trying to bush the boundaries of stereotypes and show the truth of it all. I will do an analysis of several shows comparing the differences some being very stereotypical and others not. For example, on Modern Family, Cam and Mitchell are homosexuals and the way they behave on the show is very stereotypical to gay men, such as the way they talk and act. Max Blum, a character on the show Happy Endings is portrayed as the gay best friend, however his character is very different than Cam and Mitchells. Blum’s character portrays a man who is “a hairy, horn-dog, no-good single gay dude…who spent more time eating Cheez Whiz than applying ‘product’” (Pinkert, 2013). As I was watching this show, I immediately thought this to myself. He is not depicted as the typical, stereotypical gay guy on a TV show. His character is hilarious and he’s essentially the joker in their friend group, but the majority of his jokes are not about him being gay or even homosexuals at all. I thought this was very interesting to compare the two TV shows and compare the portrayals of these two homosexual men. Another interesting comparison I would like to address is Sofia Vergara’s character on Modern Family, Gloria. I am a fan of this television show; therefore I am quite familiar with each character. Gloria does not go an episode without mentioning her ethnicity, her promiscuous clothing or acting in a certain way because she is “Colombian.” Of course, Gloria is always dressed in revealing clothing with her breasts out. This is typical and also very stereotypical, which is quite apparent in many episodes. On the other hand, April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation is also Latina. Her character is very different from Sofia Vergara. The humor on the show got me hooked immediately along with the cast and their personalities. The majority of the characters are presented without all the typical stereotypes that are visible in the majority of television shows today, such as Modern Family. April is “vivacious” and never goes on a rant in Spanish or even with a heavy accent as Gloria takes on in Modern Family. Also, Tom Haverford played by Aziz Ansari in Parks and Recreation is without a doubt comical and charming. His role on Parks and Recreation breaks the barrier of stereotypes as he is not portrayed like most South Asians would be – “proud and macho” or even “effeminate and nerdy,” however he is sweet, comedic and definitely considered the coolest guy on the show by far. The last example I feel is really prevalent in TV shows today would be the typical dumb blonde. On the Big Bang Theory, Penny definitely fulfills this character of a dumb blonde that is dating a nerd. On the other hand, Dallas Royce played by Cheryl Hines is very good at handling things, has great judgment with a good head on her shoulders as much as she comes off as a blonde bimbo.

These TV shows show us how gender and racial stereotypes are so apparent in popular culture. However, some shows in popular culture are able to push these boundaries and make great television. I believe it is quite distressing that children are being instilled with these stereotypes at such a young age and I believe more television programs should stop trying to make their show more comical by being extremely stereotypical.

Sofia Vergara, Modern Family

Sofia Vergara, Modern Family

 

 

Max Blum, Happy Endings

Max Blum, Happy Endings

 

Modern Family

Modern Family

April Ludgate, Parks and Recreation

April Ludgate, Parks and Recreation

Penny, Big Bang Theory

Penny, Big Bang Theory

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4 thoughts on “

  1. The two opposing positions you take to decipher television shows is quite interesting. I agree that not all television shows portray stereotypical people, but I believe that the majority portray stereotypes because that is what is our society is accustom to and as a result can easily identify with. I think these TV shows have a negative affect as people start stereotyping themselves into specific groups, for example, if I am blonde, I must be dumb. In Psychology, how personalities change and are created has been studied broadly. It was concluded that genetics and the environment influence a person’s personality. In accordance with this, wouldn’t it be accurate to say that children, whose environments are bombarded with stereotypes on television, personalities will be effected by the stereotypes they encounter? As a result I believe that the few non-stereotypical characters presented in the media get engulfed by the overriding stereotypes that have been engrained in our society for decades.
    In addition, while watching these television programs it is important to think about positionality. Positionality is where one stands in society and how it effects how you view things. Regarding the television shows mentioned it is important to recognize that in North America Modern Family is a huge success because we view the stereotypical Latina girl as funny and sexual, but if a Latina person were to watch this show they would probably view it as a mockery and be offended. Consequently, although it may come off as great television here, it may be seen as degrading somewhere else, depending on a person’s positionality.

  2. In week four we read about traditional family ideals and familial values and how what we assume to fall under these categories inherently result in hierarchies, exclusion and marginalization of those who do not succumb to the supposed norm. The title of the show is supposed to speak for itself – “Modern Family” is supposed to represent a newer label found on the hypothetical definition of a family. The show is acclaimed for the representation of three very different families, and many (myself included) tune in week after week. I found this blog post very interesting because it pointed out how a show that houses different, yet conventionally normal relationships, highlights both good and bad things.
    The show really highlights the love between all relationships, especially that of the two gay men and their adopted daughter. You are completely accurate in stating that both Cam and Mitchell are highly stereotyped gay men – each week their characters do yet another series of actions that people acquaint with “gay” behavior. The same is said for Gloria – married to a man much older than herself, her character normalizes a common relationship that is unreasonably frowned upon. Yet, as a character, she is racialized and ultimately discriminatory towards Latina immigrants and Columbian culture.
    Most of the stereotypical jokes towards Cam, Mitchell and Gloria are done to achieve laughter; after all the show is a comedy at its core. However, I struggle with accepting how society finds humor in stereotypes. When did we, myself included, arrive at this point that we can laugh collectively at other people, their ethnicity and their sexual orientation, and it be deemed acceptable? The show is credited for shedding light on “modern” and “different” relationships. But has it crossed a line? Has it gone to far to make these relationships acceptable by adding humor through categorical jokes and exaggerated behaviors? Personally, I think so. Does anyone disagree?

    • The words “Modern Family” really stood out to me in this last comment. While I have never watched the show myself, I have of course heard much chatter about it and have seen images and clips all over the internet surrounding the show. What I find problematic with the bold statement of being “Modern”, is that there is very little representation of visible minority groups, particularly of Native Americans or African-American characters in the show. For a title that is so bold as to call itself “Modern” I wonder where the aspects of Modern come in. It seems to me from an outsider position that this show very much reflects white-privilage and caters to an audience of higher socio-economic status. With so much talk surrounding tolerance, openness, and inclusiveness of multiculturalism, I strongly feel as though there has been little policies and changes set in place to actually “walk the talk”. With respect to Canadian Aboriginal communities, the socio-economic depression exhibited in reality is still apparent with the lack of representation of Aboriginal actors and characters in television shows that appeal to a highly privileged audience.

      It is to this end that I find it conflicting that the show is named “Modern Family”, simply because there are one or two queer characters in the show. Yes, that is a step in the direction of diversity and equality, but I sure hope that does not equate to what is now deemed modern.

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