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The truth of the relationship between youths, ethnicity and media representation is that there is a huge difference in the way youths and ethnicity are represented by the media in various kinds of national contexts.
At present, the media portrays youths as disrespectful, rebellious, lazy, promiscuous, drunkards, drug addicts and smokers. Most of the teen flicks or typical teenage horror flicks opens to a group of teenagers generally carousing about in a group being boisterous. This has led to the general public forming a perception on the behaviors of teenagers in a negative way.
The media portrays certain ethnic groups under different stereotypes. For example, currently the biggest type of media representation is from Hollywood films. For example, white characters are almost always the heroes and main characters. Black or Asian characters are usually the first to die or are characters of minor importance in a film. Non white characters are the leaders while other colored characters are subservient to them.
The analysis done for this essay came from observations from 2 contexts. One, from the American context. Two, from the Asian context. Youths in media representation will be first discussed for both contexts, and after that, ethnicity in media representation. Two case studies will be supporting the content in this research analysis for the essay.
In today’s context, youth usually refers to those that are usually aged between 16 to 24 and in some contexts until 30. These young people are often in the phase of life whereby there exploring options, form choices to make that will affect them in the future while adapting to certain regulations such as law, rules and social and psychological forces that deters them from accepting the myriad responsibility that is in tandem with adulthood.
For example, the legal age to enter the workforce in the American society is 18 and those that are under 18 are considered minors and aren’t allowed to enter the workforce, not able to participate in electoral politics and even purchase tobacco based products. Also sex with minors are considered a criminal offence even though it might be consensual. While societal constraints plays a active role in hindering the youths entrance into adulthood, American youth themselves are increasingly active participants in prolonging this stage of their lives. For example, its more common now that for those under the age of 25 to continue with school full time after graduating from high school. Consequently, seeking higher education delays the transition to adulthood with is associated with a career, family, home life and being parents.
In today’s context, to be young is to be cool, fun loving, carefree and being able to comfort and adapt to the ever-changing trends that keeps a youth “relevant”. We would say that being someone that has been in is inherently ambiguous as it juxtaposes and strives to achieve the perfect balance between being controlled by parents and individual freedom, dependance, responsibilities and relationships.
Culture itself is a whole new different ball game itself, it the combined definition of multiple factors, forms, variations and patterns that identifies an individual or a group of people that interact with their environment and express their beliefs. The younger generation then experience those way of life, condition, define and then respond to them and thus creating unique cultural forms and practises that we experience today. They are then shared with the rest of the community.
White American culture is the cultural framework of white Americans, but most cannot specifically name its characteristics. This reflects how culture operates, which is often at a deeper level of consciousness. Culture gives us norms, values, expectations, patterns of communication and many other things. But in day-to-day life these become background and we focus instead on the people, events and concerns of everyday experience. Culture only becomes apparent when it differs from the familiar or no longer works for us
White American are the majority of the youths that make up of the most part of the youths that is found in America, and are often depicted and associated with well-known terms and sub-cultures such as hip-hop music, hippies, skinheads, punks, graffitis writers, low riders, ravers, “mall rats”. Also they are portrayed mostly as the “superior” race because of the white supremacy culture which induces false ideals, expectations and negative behavior, also the media around the world are more white-centric, even movies produced with world famous studios such as disney studios often pushes the ideology because the culture is so known around the world and generally produces better results and feedbacks from the masses.
How are youths defined by the media? First of all, one must understand what it means when the word ‘Asian’ is being used in the essay. The word Asian does not mean the people of just 1 country. First, the word Asian has been loosely used in the media and everyday conversation, making it a gross generalisation and can be offensive to some. About more than half of the world are comprised of Asians, and the term is almost exclusively used for people living in the East, Southeast and East Asia. they do not include people like the Arabs or the Turks and are more often referred to as Middle Easterners. To make things simple, let us refer to ‘Asians’ as being Chinese in this essay.
How are Asian youths defined? Asians are generally portrayed as an exotic addition in a film or as a sex symbol. They usually represent martial arts, yoga or Buddhism. Other than that, positive portrayal or even any portrayal of Asian youths are close to non existence in most of today’s popular or mainstream movies.
We would regard a person to be an Asian as long as they are born and raised in any of the 49 countries that make up Asia itself. The definition of being an “asian” is too difficult to pinpoint due to the massive variation of race, languages and culture that makes a person a true “asian”. Because of that many different races are considered “asian”.
“Asia is the world’s largest and most populous continent with a population of 4.3 billion people. Located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres, Asia covers 8.7% of the Earth’s total surface area and comprises 30% of its land area. With approximately 4.3 billion people, it makes up 60% of the world’s current human population.” (World Population Statistics)
The question that most people who ask is “ so what exactly is white culture?”. White culture is usually associated with oppression or supremacy. From my personal point of view, there is a way to identify and quantify what white culture really is. This is where ethnicity is practical and is used as a benchmark for the boundaries and scales for which we categorize people are heavily subjective and determined by society itself, its definitely not a definite way because of how interchangeable cultures, behaviors, laws and trends are being formed by the Americans. Culture is often viewed as a common identity, also people feel more comfortable and at place with others that are of similar ethnicity because of the “similarities” that that individual and strangers might possibly have and compared to someone that isn’t similar. While this may be true for many white people, historically the entirety of white people in America hasn’t needed unity in the way minority groups have.If you are a minority, you may have an inherent sense of camaraderie with people of your ethnicity. To white people, others of their ethnicity are just people. However, this rule can change when you view culture more closely than the terms of white, black, etc. we so often use.Just as it is unacceptable to say all Asian heritage is the same, it is misinformed to say all white heritage is the same. Some culture associated with European countries trickled down to white Americans.This should seem evident in that even the cultures of minority groups seem to be not exact matches of their heritages, but adjusted versions of them
For the first case study, we will be basing it on a movie called ‘The Blind Side’. This case study will be analysing and discussing about youths, ethnicity of them as well as how the media chooses to represent them.
Giving an introduction to ‘The Blind Side’, it is a story centered around a true life story based in America, Northern Memphis, Tennessee. Michael(Big Mike) Oher is a black youth aged 17 years old and has been in foster care with many different families due to his drug addicted mother. Whenever he is placed in a new foster care, he runs away. A friend of his father who was impressed by Mike’s athleticism and size, Cotton, gets him admitted to the Wingate Christian School even though he had poor results academically. Mike later got befriended by Sean Jr. who is a younger white student at the school.
The school staff later informs Michael that his father died due to an accident. Later, after a volleyball game, Michael’s friend, Sean, noticed him picking up leftover food from the bleachers.
Some nights later, Leigh Anne, Sean’s mother, noticed Michael walking in the cold and rain on the road, alone. Knowing that Michael had planned to sit outside the school gym which was closed, she gave him an offer to sleep on a couch in their home. He disappears the next morning and Leigh Anne chases after him and invites him to spend Thanksgiving holiday with the Tuohys. Michael eventually grows closer to the family and becomes a member of them.
In this movie there is one key part in the beginning. It is where Michael approaches some young students playing on a swing and they all ran off. It is important to note again that Michael is a black youth while the students that ran were all white. The media always loves to represent the black race as being tall, fierce and imposing while the white race always should have a reason to be scared of them. This is the fault of the media and things have to be done to correct this issue. The general idea that people have of Black Americans are being tall, fierce, rash and scary. What can be done is to stop portraying Black people as well as youths to be the things stated above. Black youths should be portrayed in a more positive light as well as given more positive roles to play. It is also important not to portray movies that will enable white people to have a ‘white savior’ complex where it is always the white person who saves the day even though the cast has black people.
In a scene, a few of Leigh Anne’s rich, white friends wonders what Leigh Anne is doing and suggested that Collins, her daughter, was not safe around Michael. She rebukes them severely. After that incident, Leigh Anne asks Collins how does she feel about Michael and she replies that he is fine and their family cannot just throw him out.
Despite the stereotypes of the youths and ethnicity in the movie, there are some positive things about youths in the movie. For example, in the part mentioned above where a group of young white children ran away from Michael, Sean Jr. actually approached him and told him that he had to say hello instead of just smiling or waving as he looked imposing with his stature. Sean was not afraid of Michael and introduced himself first.
In a second scene not mentioned, Michael walks into a library to study and sees Collins studying with her group of friends. He sees an empty table and heads to it and sits himself down. Collins’ friends stares at him and gives him a look of judgement before returning to look at their books. This shows that despite not knowing Michael ,they have judge him already. This here is a negative portrayal of white youths of them being judgemental. However, in the next scene, Collins leaves her friends and heads to the other table to accompany Michael without saying a word. This is a good example of white youths and should be done more often in the media.
As stated in the section ‘Asian Youths And Media Representation’, positive portrayal or even any portrayal of Asian youths are close to non existent in most of today’s popular or mainstream movies. Even through hours of researching on what kind of Asian films there are which portrays Chinese youths, there are next to none. Chinese films are mostly about mythical, fantasy and ancient Chinese history. Chinese are usually portrayed in sexual and erotic films even from the Asian Chinese point of view. Chinese are portrayed as goddesses or fairies in typically revealing clothings to cater to both the Chinese and American market. Chinese films also comprises mainly of fantasy, mythical and when there is demand, there will always be supply. The supply must first stop, especially from script writers and filmmakers.
Asians are stereotyped in many ways such as kung fu fighters, geeks, foreigners and prostitutes.
For kung fu fighters, when Bruce Lee started to become famous in the United States, Asians took great pride in the fame. They were finally not portrayed as nerdy and effeminate as compared to most of the films in that time. However, before long, the American media started portraying Asian Chinese as kung fu experts. Now the downside is Asians who are applying for acting roles are commonly asked if they know any form of martial arts.
For the geek stereotype, Asians are often portrayed as being smart or very good in technology. Whenever they appear on advertising mediums, they are presented as technology experts either gifted in maths or an intellectual. These play on stereotypes that Asians are superior to the Americans in technology and intellect. This could be harmful
Although people of Asian descent have lived in the United States since the 1800s, Asian Americans are often portrayed as perpetual foreigners. Like Latinos, Asians in television and film often speak accented English, suggesting that they’re recent immigrants to the country.
These portrayals ignore that the United States is home to generation after generation of Asian Americans. They also set up Asian Americans to be stereotyped in real life. Asian Americans often complain about how often they get asked, “Where are you from—originally?” or complimented for speaking good English when they’ve spent their entire lives in the United States.
Asian women have routinely been featured as prostitutes and sex workers in Hollywood. The line “Me love you long time,” spoken by a Vietnamese sex worker to U.S. soldiers in the 1987 film “Full Metal Jacket,” is arguably the most famous cinematic example of an Asian woman willing to sexually debase herself for white men.
“There we have the promiscuous API woman stereotype: The one in which the Asian woman wants to have sex, willing to do anything, with the white man,” wrote Tony Le in Pacific Ties magazine. “The stereotype has taken many forms, from Lotus Blossom to Miss Saigon.” Le said that 25 years of “me love you long time” jokes endure.
According to the TV Tropes website, the Asian prostitute stereotype dates back to the 1960s and ’70s, when U.S. military involvement in Asia heightened. In addition to “Full Metal Jacket,” films such as “The World of Suzie Wong” notoriously featured an Asian prostitute whose love for a white man is unrequited. “Law & Order: SVU” also routinely depicts Asian women as prostitutes and mail-order brides.
In conclusion, it is a real and current problem that the media portrays youths and ethnicity in a mostly negative image or stereotype. White supremacy and oppressive behaviours are still being practised in our current day and time and such ideology on racist are often detrimental to our society as a whole. Society indirectly segregate people according to an individual or a community differences in wealth, power, and status. Some groups have higher status and greater privilege than others. This inequality in the system is what we call social stratification. In this unequal social system, there is often unfair treatment directed against certain individuals or social groups. This is referred to as discrimination. Discrimination can be based on many different characteristics—age, gender, weight, ethnicity, religion, or even politics. For example, prejudice and discrimination based on race is called racism. Oftentimes, gender prejudice or discrimination is referred to as sexism. Discrimination is often the outcome of prejudice—a pre-formed negative judgment or attitude. Prejudice leads people to view certain individuals or groups as inferior. I personally feel that because this issue is so “deeply rooted” into society, the most effective and efficient way to reduce the amount of prejudice that certain minority are facing is the educate the current and upcoming generation about equality, by doing so people will have more self-awareness, respect, knowledge and tolerance towards other ethnicity and cultures.”
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