Thursday, April 05, 2007

Modern Day Minstrel Shows

Amongst my friends and family, I have discussed my sorrow for the typecasting of entire groups of people in the media. People that I feel is portrayed in a horrible fashion are African-Americans. Black Americans have been through way too many horrible things in the history of their people to be portrayed in the manner that they commonly are in mainstream media. One show that does nothing to help the modern, black American image is I love New York. I Love New York (ILNY) is a modern day minstrel show.

Minstrels shows were a horrible form of entertainment in the 19th century. They portrayed black Americans in broad stereotypes. These stereotypes were negative and demeaning. A sad truth to their impact is that the majority of blacks in America prior to the 20th century lived in the South. The only contact Northerners had with blacks were through slaves they held, freedmen, and brief encounters down South or by going to a minstrel show. This is kind of like white kids from Vermont and Maine only knowing black culture through MTV, rap music, and The Chappelle Show. If you read more of the link above about minstrel shows, you might start to recognize the same archetypal characters in some modern shows and movies.

ILNY is a modern day minstrel show because it portrays black Americans in stereotypical forms that white Americans can be entertained by: the sassy, bitchy woman, the vampy hypersexual voluptuous temptress, the thug in baggy clothes, the sexual chocolate brother, etc. "hahaha she's so crazy" or "oh no, they are going to fight" could eb said in just about every show. These reality tv characters participate in events geared towards charming the young, black woman with their ability to earn the big bucks, play basketball and box. Alcohol is provided liberally, and fights, arguments and all sorts of drama are aired on tv. As I watched the show, I did laugh at different moments, but felt sad that this is a nationally televised show featuring a predominantly black cast.
If you look deeper at television shows, movies and even commercials, you will see a pattern of the image of an African American male. Not even in a 30 second commercial can a black male be portrayed unless he is A) wearing a baseball hat crooked B) rolling with some r&b blasting C) speaking in an ad man's version of hip hop or D) ogling some woman. It just is so easy to see through, and you have to wonder who the directors or producers are trying to speak to with these depictions. Black women are always portrayed in the sister sassy, old auntie nurturer, or seductress mold. Pay close attention to the way that a black seductress is portrayed on tv. A black woman is rarely portrayed in a sexual manner unless her "curves" are on display. A show that was horrible at this was Ally McBeal (which I rarely ever watched). Whenever the black woman was trying to make a move on a man, they put her in something low cut and boosted her twins. Every other scene, she was dressed for church. I'm just tired of this stereotypical BS, and I hope the rest of the nation is as well.
Don't even get me started on every Hispanic woman on tv being a housekeeper or a salsa dancer with jet black hair, a slight Spanish accent, and dark skin. So stupid.

1 comment:

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