African American Stereotypes

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For many years the entertainment industry has been heavily criticized, particularly by groups representing various minorities, for the way ethnic groups have been portrayed in films and television programs. Although considerable progress has been made in the fight against unfair and unflattering portrayals based on false information, nevertheless the mass media is often still guilty of insensitivity in this area. African Americans as a group have been primarily stereotyped as animalistic brutes in American culture: physically rather than intellectually oriented, hedonistic, criminal-minded, violent, and willing to rape. They are more likely to be portrayed as unrestrained, hot-tempered, and profane than Whites or others in movies and television shows.

The counterpoint to the young male image is the female "Mammy archetype"; often this mature woman is portrayed as grossly overweight, poorly made up and dressed in gaudy clothing, but genial, churchgoing and spiritual to the point of delusion, and passive in the face of White authority. Aunt Jemima and the Hattie McDaniel's character from the film Gone With The Wind are standard portrayals of this stereotype. "Lord Have Mercy" is a phrase often associated with this character, in contrast to the ghetto dialect, profanity, and general disrespect of young males. Young African American females are often stereotyped as promiscuous, generally ill-kept with the exception of hair extensions and fake nails, verbally loud, greedy and self-serving. They are considered "Welfare Queens" and baby machines incapable of experiencing love. As a result, the stereotype can be physically and sexually abused without the guilt which normally would accompany the act. Mature African American males have a rich history of negative stereotypes including Uncle Tom and "house nigger", the subservient Pullman Porter and loyal butler, or the Uncle Remus character, always willing to tell a story to the master's children, while...
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