Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Women on TV

I recently saw an article which bemoaned the fact that there are a lot of movies and TV shows about battered or threatened women - and it seems to be going up in amount every year. They thought that was horrible.

Well, they are right: there is a rising amount of movies and TV shows which include battered or threatened women. There's also a rising number of movies and TV shows which include strong, dominant women - often the same shows. Often the same women.

I don't think it's horrible. I think it's good that we're getting this kind of stuff on air. When you hide something, that means it is acceptable. When you glorify something, that means you are trying to make it acceptable. But the shows - they aren't hiding, they aren't glorifying. They're talking about it.

By openly portraying this kind of thing, and by portraying it with a strong negative slant, it shows we are emerging from the time when it was acceptable to sweep these kind of events under the rug. It shows we are moving forward, which is good.

Ten years ago, there was a dichotomy in presentation. In men's media, women were portrayed winkingly inaccurately. They were usually either the worst stereotypes or extremely uptight men who wore skirt-suits. In commercials, they were the cheerfully dominant force, "oh, honey, you're so STUPID, of course it's TIDE!" In women's media, they were portrayed realistically enough - but women aren't the ones that need to be convinced women are people.

The incredible inaccuracy of these portrayals was due to an oversensitivity, a time of over-correction in the search for equality. Our steadily more accurate, more human presentations in all forms of media are, in my opinion, a sign we are now slowing down near the equilibrium and starting to address the real problems. Such as battered women.

Now, take a look at how black people are portrayed in the media:

In movies and TV for black people, black people are portrayed - I hesitate to say "realistically", but they are portrayed as black people, at least. In movies and TV for white people, black people are usually portrayed as either uptight white people, or the worst black stereotypes. It is rare to find a TV show or movie in which a black person is both black and respectable.

Rare, but getting steadily less rare.

Are they following the same curve? Is there a curve? How far behind are they, if there is?


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