Race and Popular Culture
The media is a powerful force in shaping perceptions about certain aspects in life. The films produced have the potential of influencing the viewer’s perceptions about the reality and tend to affect the way they relate with the people and the things around them. The Walt Disney Company for instance, is responsible for creating a worldview based on fun, magic and innocence. The gender representations in the films specifically the female characters perceived as the weaker gender always in need of help from the men influences the perceptions of the viewers. Mickey Mouse Monopoly highlighted the hegemonic ideologies about race and gender in Disney films but Madea Goes to Jail by Tyler Perry provides a counter hegemony on race and gender.
The blacks in most cases are perceived as thugs, drug addicts and are often represented as poor and inferior to the white race. In Madea Goes to Jail, Tyler Perry presents a different perception of the blacks (Harrison 23). In this film, the blacks are given priority and are represented in the top jobs in the society for instance the assistant district attorney Joshua Hardaway. Mickey Mouse Monopoly explores the perceptions created about race by the films in Disney (Monopoly, Mickey Mouse). With this in mind, it is easy to point out the counter hegemony presented in Perry’s film.
Additionally, the film counters racial discrimination in the society by presenting interracial dating. Linda, a white woman is Joshua’s fiancée who is black (Perry). Racial perceptions in most films show the distinction between the blacks and the whites and it is difficult to find interracial couples in Disney films (Pettit 14). The shaping of the ideas influences people’s view about such relationships. Finally, at the end of the film, Linda who is white is convicted for falsifying evidence countering popular belief that the blacks often end up in jail for crimes. It is uncommon to find women getting arrested in Disney films but this movie proves that females are also involved in crime.
The documentary is unfair for focusing primarily on Disney. Other media conglomerates also shape realities and create fantasies. The best way would have been to provide a comparison of the other media outlets and provide a conclusion on how the combination shape the perceptions of the viewers.
Disney is a great way to examine examining corporate media power as it is a powerful force in influencing children’s perceptions worldwide (Zornado 76). Given the nature of their audience, the company has the potential of affecting the views of generations based on the themes presented in their films. Children are vulnerable to adopting to certain perceptions based on what is presented to them.
All the media conglomerates are neither better nor worse in what they teach. They all fail in the lessons offered to their audience. Their misrepresentations of gender, race and religion affects people’s perceptions about realities (Shah 45). The focus on making money and little concern over the content created affects the role of the media in shaping the society.
It doesn’t matter who is better or worse in the industry. The focus should be to understand the conglomerates potential to affect the perceptions in life. The media acts as the gatekeeper in the society and when they fail in this role then then the social reality of the world is affected extensively.
The accusations against Disney are unique to Disney based on its global presence. The company’s main target is children. Their vulnerability to perceptions, therefore, puts Disney on the spot for creating perceptions targeted at the children (Wills 45). Additionally, the representations in Disney movies are hidden in innocence and fantasy hence protecting the true agenda created in the films.
In studying the modules, I learned that the media is a powerful tool in shaping our perceptions about realities. Working on the assignment in particular challenged my perception about the films we see. Initially, I viewed Disney movies as innocent portrayal of characters to flow with the story line. Watching the Mickey Mouse Monopoly, however, changed my perception about the agenda fostered by the films. I also learnt that this perceptions can be corrected by counter hegemonies that aim to change the popular perception about realities in the films attached.
Additionally, I understood how children are vulnerable consumers to the content presented by the media. Given their age and the desire to explore certain aspects of their lives, the perceptions of the children are largely informed by the things they consume (Honea, Heather, and Paula 134). Parents and teachers play a role in shaping the lives of the children, but the role of the media in upbringing is equally great. The presence of watershed periods in the media, for instance helps to regulate the kind of content the children are exposed to. Despite the regulatory mechanisms put in place to protect the children’s consumption, the children still get access content through the internet.
In my experience, watching stereotypical films affects the way we view the world. Watching Maid in Manhattan for instance, influenced my perception about the Latinos. It portrays the Latinos as maids and this influenced the way I perceived them as a result of watching the film (Gonzalez-Sobrino et al. 165). Other films also present the Latinos as drug dealers, thugs and gang members. Based on this, it is easy to assume that all Latinos are involved in criminal activities. The truth, however, is that criminal activity cuts across race, gender and age. The perception created by the media is misleading and can affect someone’s view of the world (Rodríguez 33). In reality, the Latinos are lawyers, teachers, nurses, doctors and pastors just like all the other races.
The influence created by the media is has the ability of shaping behaviors and realities. Understanding the role of the media, dominance and counter hegemony in the media will enable me to scrutinize the movies I watch onwards. Having an understanding of the power of the media will help me determine the agenda of a film. With the knowledge gained form these modules, I am able to analyze and criticize films and how they portray race and gender. Understanding the ideologies in the media will allow me to understand how producers of popular films work and what they aim to achieve. With a focus on making profit, most media conglomerates focus on what sells most ignoring the effects the films have on the society. Understanding how this pieces fit together in the creation of a film goes a long way in my perception about the gatekeeping role of the media.
In conclusion, the power of the media is underestimated in most cases and the extent of the damage is extensive. Interacting with children for instance reveals the effects of the movies watched and the reality created by the characters.