Concept of Black Stereotyping from Bell’s Book
Racial stereotyping is a formidable factor affecting the American society in many ways. It has been used to deepen the differences existing between the two primary races in America: the white and the blacks. There is always an attempt to extend the supremacy of one race over the other. In the context of American society, the antagonist is normally the white race while the protagonist is the black race. Looking at this association close, one would be quick to contend that it should be the other way round. This is because we expect the villain to be the problem factor, a notion driven by society’s view on members of the black race. Thus, in literary terms, the black race has been the center of target of society’s criticism, and this has further been strengthened by the continued stereotyping of the black race on television.
Indeed, Bell’s phrase “eating the other” depicts the virtue of exploitation and demeaning treatment promoted that is practiced against the blacks by the white majority. The relationship that exists between the black and white races reflects a symbiotic relationship in which one partner benefits while the other continues to suffer from the ensuing imbalance. Thus, by “eating the other” Bell further brings the cannibalistic association into the light. Bell reveals how one party is forced to eat humble pie regardless of the situation. According to Bell, the situation is so serious such that the celebration of differences presents blacks as a sacrificial offer to be “eaten, consumed, and forgotten” (39). Hence, it does not matter whether whites are justified in their actions; it is an issue of portraying the supremacy and ensuring that the tables are never turned in favor of the black race. Thus, using the media as a conduit, images of the black man and the black woman continue to strengthen their identity of villains instead of creating an identity of heroes to signify their strength by withstanding decades of unfair treatment.
Reading Selection to Showcase the Cultural Object
The essay “Eating the Other” written by Hooks Bell brings racial stereotyping into the light. In essence, Bell succeeds to show her reader how little transformation has taken place with regard to the ideological perspectives regarding members of the black race. This shows how the traditional role of the media has been modified leading to the transmission of hidden meanings in the characters created by focusing on the negative attributes of the black race. Bell gets support from Renee Melissa who suggests that “the desire to sustain ideologies and practices of mainstream media has prevented the erasure of black caricatures” (2). Thus, this provides significant support for Bell’s idea regarding the negative stereotyping of the black race which undermines the current transition to modernity. It also shows that there is an underground scheme that is strongly maintained through conspiracy to showcase the negative elements in the members of the black race.
Bell’s reading supports the fact that the media is being used to promote a populist culture about black people, which is misleading to the viewers who extend these images to their daily lifestyles. Bell’s reading shows that there is a missing link between perception and reality. Indeed, the images produced in the media are mere fantasy creations intended to suit the consumer’s expectations. However, the danger is in the fact that the viewers pick up these images and interpret them as real life happenings. Consequently, this kind of stereotyping promoted in the media has an impact on the expectations of the black people who by following the populist interpretation perceive themselves as the heroes even though in the real sense they acquire a criminal profile. Thus, it is not common to find stereotypes of movie stars and comic characters being emulated in real life situations.
Bell also shows that there is a poor reconciliation of the differences between the white and black races through the use of iconic and fanatical images (39). Thus, she enables the reader to see the fact that the current status quo is the plot to ensure the survival of the white race’s long-term interest of subduing the black in order to foster their supremacy. Since there is a significant progress that has been made in the contemporary society with regard to human treatment of subjects, the television provides a harmless channel for promoting the negative attributes of the black race. As a result, it has become popular to come across a poor feminist attitude in the black female character portrayed on the television.
Important Issues for Discussion
At this point, it is important to identify some of the most critical issues noted from the Bell’s analysis. First, it comes out clear that there is a deliberate effort to create unique gender characters of the black male and female in the television programs. Secondly, there is a strong use of imagery in capturing certain stereotypes of the black people. Thirdly, the thematic issues explored in the media content tend to be standardized; hence, there is little effort to create new themes that can foster a positive image of the black people. In this regard, the following questions can be used for discussion:
i. Do you support the existence of the white supremacist ideology in the themes chosen in television programs in which black characters are present?
ii.Are there unique gender roles that you can identify, which are assigned to black male and female characters on television?