Dy-No-Mite! Stereotypical Images of African Americans on Television Sitcoms

Powerful Essays
DY-NO-MITE!
Stereotypical Images of African-Americans on Television Sitcoms

The more television changes, the more it stays the same for the genre of African American sitcoms. Some critics believe that African Americans will never accept the images they see of themselves on network television. Like whites, African Americans on television sitcoms should be portrayed “in the full array of cultures that exist in our society.” Most likely, the majority of white television viewers see a sitcom as no more than 22 minutes of broadcast time and eight minutes of commercial intertwined with a laugh track. Nothing serious. But look deeper. For African Americans, sitcoms have long been hotbeds of racial stereotypes disguised as entertainment. Put the laugh track on mute and there will be few African American community leaders and established entertainers joining in on the fun. The history of using African Americans as entertainment and not as entertainers began in post-World War II and continues to the present. Everywhere on the small screen, unflattering images persist. While African American sitcoms of the 80s and 90s offered more choices for viewers, those choices were not of high quality. For the most part, primetime television - even cable stations and the new networks - producers and show creators have failed to answer the needs of viewers for more realistic and flattering shows about African Americans.
It is not only that these harmful television images reinforce stereotypes. They are insulting and embarrassing, and have been proved to have a particularly destructive effect on the self-esteem of young African American viewers.

1.
As a group, young African Americans watch more television than their white peers, and are more likely to accept the validity of the images they are shown. To add to the dilemma, African Americans actors on these shows are given scripts with characters that demean each



References: 1. Gray, John. (1990).”Blacks in Film and Television: A Pan-African Bibliography of Films, Filmmakers, and Performers“. Greenwood Press. 2. Hill, George and Saverson, Sylvia. (1985). “Blacks on Television: A Selectively Annotated Bibliography.” Scarecrow Press. 5. Williams, Ta 'Hirah. (September 13, 2005). “Blacks in Television: “Negative stereotypes still exist on TV“. The Boston Globe. www.Boston.com. 6. Herman, Gray. (1995). “Watching Race: Television and the Struggle for Blackness". University of Minnesota Press. 7. Bogel, Donald. (1998).“Blacks, Coons, Mullatoes, Mammies and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Film“. Garland Publishing. 8. Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. (June 12, 1989).“The Black World Turns - But Stays Unreal”. The New York Times. www.nytimes.com. 9. Jeter, Jon. (June 23, 1996).“Viewing Habits of Black Children“. The Washington Post. www.washingtonpost.com. 10. Okwu, Michael. (July 25, 2002).“Sitcoms Reviving Racial Stereotype“. www.CNN.com.

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