Sunday, October 27, 2013

Class Reflection #1 - the media's erasure of diversity and dissent

Something that we touched upon during our class discussion last week was the fact that most of the examples of representation in the media in the documentary we watched were people from East Asia. The American media, although it may have improved in recent years, does not do a good job of representing the true diversity of Asia, which is the most diverse place in the world.

That discussion ties a lot into this week’s readings about the Middle East, all of which demonstrate the media’s tendency to collapse entire regions and populations into singular images (e.g. Middle Eastern women as covered up and silent.) The documentary we watched also showcased the media's oversimplification of complex cultures, politics, peoples, and places.

The mainstream media make it seem as if there is only one narrative about all of the peoples, countries, and cultures of Asia. When people are not exposed to diversity, it’s often difficult for them to picture other people as having emotions and desires similar to their own. When you’re exposed to a broader, more realistic variety of stories and people, however, you’re more likely to find common ground with others.

I think that the lack of diversity presented in the media may be a deliberate form of social control. The perpetuation of stereotypes lead people to see one another as separated by race, rather than seeing the common experiences of oppression (esp. economic) that bind them (although everyone experiences oppression in different ways, the oppression all comes from pretty much the same places.) We see one another as color-coded enemies, which directs our attention away from the harm rendered by the dominant institutions and leads us to commit violence against each other instead.
Do you think that the media’s perpetuation of stereotypes is part of a “divide and conquer” plan to keep populations from colluding and overthrowing dominant institutions? Or are stereotypes perpetuated in the media out of habit or because it’s easier for us, as simple humans, to conceive of the world in terms of all-encompassing mental schemas?

- amanda fox-rouch

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