Do Exported US TV Programs Introduce or Reinforce Racial/Ethnic and/or Gender Inequality – American Style – to Other Countries?

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal 18 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Clara RODRIGUEZ, Fordham University, USA
A number of works have examined racial/ethnic/gender representation on US network television and found that the way in which television represents gender and particular racial/ethnic groups silently conveys and/or reinforces inequality.  Additional works, including my own, have found that racial/ethnic characters tend not to be cast in lead roles, but in supporting, or silent-extra roles, when they are included at all.   In addition, the way that racial/ethnic characters are often drawn suggests that they are not, or should not, be seen as an integral or important part of the legitimate social structure that is central to the story on the screen.  They are, in essence, “othered.” Given the popularity, accessibility and consumption of US entertainment programs abroad, how do people in other countries receive such patterns?  How do such programs affect their views about “otherness,” immigrants, gender, and/or racial/ethnic minority groups in their countries and/or in the US?  And do these views change (or not?) once these global viewers come to the US?   I addressed these questions by personally conducting in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 63 Foreign Nationals that had been working or studying in the US for six years or less. Utilizing an abridged form of this questionnaire, I also conducted an electronic survey of 171 undergrads at a large university in the U.S. to gauge what differences exist.  I found that many foreign nationals access US-TV to learn or improve their English, but how images of race, class, gender and ethnicity are received varies considerably -- from those who recognize that it privileges “whiteness” to those who view US TV as a medium that exposes them to greater racial/ethnic, gender, and class diversity and acceptance than they experienced in their homelands.  The US-born group is generally more cognizant of the privileging of whiteness on TV.