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The sociological issue, to be researched is, the representation of the physically challenged in the mass media, concentrating on popular films. I’ve decided to use four main stereotypes, which are most common in the media. After reading into “Media and Mental illness” by The Glasgow Media Group, I became intrigued and started to reflect on the images portrayed. As I have a physical disability, I thought that I would have a better understanding of my research, and a good empathy for people who are being portrayed badly.
After researching on the Internet, based on the research I developed my hypothesis: There will be no physically challenged people portrayed in “normal” roles, instead they will fit into one of the four stereotypes. Contexts and concepts The Broadcasting complaints Commission study showed that in television programmes 7% of persons were disabled. They showed that disabled people were mostly in broadcast films, drama and soap operas. Langmore (1987) Studied on the different forms of representations of disabled persons, and how the audience reacts to seeing a disabled person on the television as a pose to an able bodied person.
The results show that people generally feel a lot more sympathetic, pitiful and patronizing towards disabled people. Sheridan in “A physical challenge for the media: The effects of portrayals of wheel chair users. He says that whilst there are many images of wheelchair users, they are not always accurate or helpful to the disabled community. To portray a wheel chair user in a film is so that they can be used as a dramatic and provocative tool. He states that it is possible to categorise portrayals into four main stereotypes, the pitiful handicapped, the bitter cripple, the inspirational hero and the set dresser.
These are the four stereotypes that I have decided look into. This introduces the concept of stereotypes. A stereotype is a one sided, exaggerated and usually prejudicial view of a group. One myth about physically challenged people is that people with disabilities have a poor standard of life, this is not the case. The stereotypes may have some factual basis, but in most cases are incongruent with reality. Sheridan raises the question that because these portrayals are prevalent, are they an accurate account of what goes on in real life situations.
He answered, as there is much diversity as there is commonality in the wheelchair community. There is no consensus as to what is accurate. He offers no solution but says that there are advances in advertising, as people in wheelchairs are not seen as disabled but as consumers. He thinks advertisers will continue to add positively to the way society perceives wheelchair users, and that maybe one day we will change our perception from archaic stereotypes to more realistic portrayals.
This brings me onto the concept of identity. To acquire a sense of self identity and an image of your self is through socialization. If some body is labelled a specific type of person, it can be said that a social identity has been added to your self. Your social identity will then be seen as a label to show what kind of person you are. Resulting from the label you have now been given, you might start to think you are that type of person.