Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Portrayals of Whites Within the Media

For my final post, I have decided to examine the portrayals of whites within the media. After all, to be white is to belong to a racial group, despite the belief by many that discuss race is to exclude whites.

When discussing the issue of the reporting of criminal activity by the media, it must be acknowledged that you can find stories of white criminals (typically white men). The majority of the crimes you see reported regarding white men are more high-tech and of much higher “status” than the ones which you hear concerning minority criminal activity. By “higher status” I do not mean that I condone their behavior in any way. I simply mean that the white criminal activity that you see is usually that which resembles the scandals of Enron and Watergate. These crimes involved embezzlement on a grand scale, in contrast to the crimes involving drugs and gang activity which are characteristic portrayals of minorities.

In contrast to minority women who are often portrayed as hypersexualized, white women are characterized as “civilized” and “proper.” This is common in films which are more recent as well as those which are more dated. In the classic musical My Fair Lady—the film which is based on it—the overbearing, bossy, commanding bachelor Henry Higgins “shapes” the poor Eliza Doolittle (played by Audrey Hepburn), into what a woman of English high society was supposed to be. He teaches her how to speak as those in high society do and to walk with grace and poise, as well as how to address others. He actually wages that he will make her more civilized and presentable enough to attend a royal function. This portrayal of the “civilized” and “proper” white upper-class woman has become a paragon to many white women as well as many women of color. Hepburn’s character, after she becomes “civilized,” is a goal to be obtained to many women. She is the “superior” woman because she is accepted into high society and is even thought to be a Hungarian royal-born at the royal function that she attends.

Overall, the portrayals of whites within the media are vastly superior to those of minorities, even in the cases of criminal activity reporting. The inequities between these portrayals are exceedingly obvious to most people, but seem to be largely ignored.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its interesting to look back at all the action movie stars. You can see that the majority of action stars in American main stream movies are almost all men who are of European descent. Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Seagal, Keanu Reevs, Val Kilmer and Clint Eastwood to name a few. In all there movies the are portrayed as invincible heroes that have an endless amount of bullets and have lethal weapons for hands. If you see a black or Latino man as a action star they are usually portrayed as men with attitude who do what ever they want. Its interesting to see the contrast.

Chris Selix