I left class today wondering if television will ever be able to represent a race or group of people in a positive, non-stereotypical way. Color Adjustment (1991) showed through television’s history that this might not be possible. At the end of the film, the words “reality is being re-adjusted for you” are showed on the screen. Basically, television and films can never show true reality, it is always constructed in order for high ratings and expectations of audiences. People become trapped in their roles.

Yes, this is still going on today. The show EmpireĀ premiered earlier this year in January. It is about a man who runs his own hip hop record label called Empire Entertainment, and it focuses on the family dynamic of his wife and three sons. Critics have said that this show reinforces black stereotypes instead of them. Terrence Howard plays the hip hop mongol named Lucious Lyon who represents this criminal, animalistic, black brute that is often depicted of black men in the media. Even more stereotypical is his wife’s character Cookie Lyon, played by Taraji P. Henson, who plays this “angry-black woman” with a hot temper and loud mouth.

These black stereotypes are different than the ones we clown-like, comic character we saw in the movie. But they are still negative stereotypes nonetheless.

Here are links to see more about the shows reviews on negative racial stereotyping:




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  1. I was considering writing a post about Empire considering it has become such a phenomena, but I haven’t gotten around to watching the show yet, so I can’t say much about whether it relays on stereotypes or not. I would hope at least considering Lee Daniels co-created the show that it could avoid falling into that trap. At the same time though, it is a network show that relies on ads, and as we saw in Color Adjustment, that often means reinforcing and relying on negative stereotypes.

    However, I did come across an article from Vulture a few weeks ago that I think is relevant to Color Adjustment. Many of those interviewed recalled that they or their parents refused to watch certain shows because they reinforced negative black stereotypes. Audience, therefore, is important to consider. The article that I found about Empire shows a number of charts about Empire’s rise in popularity. As some of these charts show, Empire is supremely popular amongst African American viewers. Additionally, however, its non-African American audience grew each week. Furthermore, the show had the best ratings for the first season of a show in a decade. The damage of negative stereotypes is important to consider not only in their intrinsic employment but also considering the audience that they reach. Who is watching certain shows is vitally important.

    Here is the link: http://www.vulture.com/2015/03/empire-tv-rise-in-7-charts.html

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