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The media is a very powerful source when it comes to giving/providing information. The media provides all sorts of information when it comes to class, race and gender, but unfortunately the information being provided is not always accurate or true and unfortunately there are many individuals who believe what they see, read and hear as true facts. There are a lot of misrepresentation especially when it comes to how the media portrays whites versus non-whites. Stereotypes are often used when it comes to the portrayals of minority men and women.
The United States consists of many different cultures/races. Growing up in an area where about 95% of the people were like me (Latinos) I really didn’t have much contact with people of other races besides some of my teachers in school. I knew other races existed, but they did not live in my area. My way to the outside world was television, radio and magazines. Not until I was much older did I realize the way people are being portrayed in the media was based off stereotypes with whites (especially men) having the role of heroes, the highly educated person and having the power, women being underrepresented and minorities being misrepresented.
Women lack represented in media and often when white women are represented, they play stereotypical roles as housewives or the submissive partner. They are thin and beautiful and are dependent of their husbands. As for women of color they are even less represented and their characters are made to reflect cultural stereotypes.
For example African American women are represented as maids, always angry, loud or very promiscuous. We can see this in most of the rap music videos were the men are dressed in brand name clothes and women of color are degraded by dance around them almost naked and are made to look as sexual objects only. In the Medea films by Tyler Perry, he plays the role of Medea and her character portrays the stereotypes of black women as in loud, angry and sometimes violent.
As for Latina women they are also represented as sexual objects. They are prostitutes, damsels in destress who are waiting to be rescued or seductive women who do not have a problem using their sexuality to get what they want. They are also portrayed as maids or as being feisty. A good example of this is in the film Maid in Manhattan where Jennifer Lopez character Marisa Ventura plays the role of a struggling single mother who works as maid in a “first-class” hotel. At the end of the film she is rescued by the white powerful man.
These stereotypical representations of minority women may affect how others of a different race see Latinos and African Americans. They may actually believe these perceptions are true and base their opinions of others on these portrayals.
Where white men are portrayed as positive role models, they get the roles of the hero, the problem solver and Black and Latinos get the negative stereotypical roles. In film most of the time black men are portrayed as lazy, loud, criminals or drug dealers. They rarely play the role of a positive role model or a power figure and when they are in a role of power there is criminal things going on behind that power. A good example is the TV series Power. Omari Hardwick the main character of the show, is a person of power who calls the shots, but behind that power is a “high-level drug distributor” and he is also a nightclub owner in which he uses this business to help wash his money and move his drugs. Another example is in the movie Training Day where Denzel Washington’s character Alonzo Harris plays the role of a detective but is also a criminal. He steals and is involved in drug dealing. The hero in the film is Ethan Hawke who’s character a white Officer named Jake Hoyt becomes the hero in the movie when he overcomes all the obstacles Detective Alonzo Harris puts him through and surviving. At one point of the movie he even jumps out of a moving car to save the young foolish Latina (Letty) from being raped. Once again, the white man is the hero and does the right thing. In this film there is also the character of Sara which is played by Eva Mendez, she is a Latina who is has been having an affair with Alonzo. The film gives us the perception this affair has been going on for a while as they have a child together who seems to be around 5-6 years old. Once again the Latina character is a promiscuous person.
When it comes to Latino men, they also have very negative stereotypical roles. Latino men are portrayed as “drug-pushing cholos or dance-floor kings” (Anderson), thugs, immigrants or uneducated. Once again, I go back to the movie Training Day. There is a part in the movie when Detective Alonzo Harris takes Jake Hoyt the rookie cop into a house full of Latino gang members and they are going to kill him, but is miraculously saved when they found out the young girl he saved from being raped was their cousin. The white man is once again the hero and is saved. In another film called Mi Familia, there are a lot of Latino stereotypes. The father Jose Sanchez played by Jacob Vargas shows his journey from his small poor town in Mexico to California. When he meets a man on the road and asks for a directions to California, they show his ignorance when he thinks California is only a couple of days away & it turns out his journey took over a year. He worked as a gardener for the rich which is where he met his wife Maria Played by Jennifer Lopez who worked as the nanny. They had 6 children. One was a drug dealing gang member, another one was a criminal that was in and out of jail and one of the youngest one Guillermo was the successful one finishing school and becoming a lawyer. Guillermo changes his name and likes to be known as William. He wanted the American Dream and made as many changes as he could not to linked to his Spanish culture. He moved away from his family’s home and even got engaged to a white woman. This shows how the best thing to be is a white man and how some are even willing to leave their culture behind.
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