The Exnomination of Pain: Undoing Otherness. Viewer Reports on stereotyping and Multicultural Media Content

Joke Hermes
INHOLLAND University, Netherlands

Robert Adolfsson
INHOLLAND University, Netherlands

Ladda ner artikelhttp://www.ep.liu.se/ecp_article/index.en.aspx?issue=025;article=026

Ingår i: Inter: A European Cultural Studies : Conference in Sweden 11-13 June 2007

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 25:26, s. 249-260

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Publicerad: 2007-11-27


ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


Stereotyping is not always a bad thing in media content. Audience members can and will say that they don’t mind stereotypes because they at least represent their own group recognizably while it is otherwise so markedly absent in media content. Such remarks need to be understood as part of informant strategies in interviews. While stereotypes in their abundant richness of easy to recognize identity markers may be comfortable in some situations; and allow e.g. criticism of underrepresentation; they also evoke shame; pain and anger. Such emotions are slower to surface and clearly depend on the rapport an interviewer can establish with an informant. While non-white informants are almost always faced with a choice of either or not acknowledging the pain of unfair media representation; this is different for white informants. White informants face a choice too in representing themselves when talking about multicultural television as either politically correct; or as ‘in the know’ when it comes to the mores of the multicultural society. Neither position; however; bridges the gap between those talking and the ‘others’ who are portrayed. Two mechanisms are used as strategies in interviews. A strong ‘third person effect’ is one obvious mechanism: very good that multicultural drama is on television; but no; I don’t watch it. The problems and the pain of multiculturalism are thus exnominated by white and by middle-class non-white informants. Multiculturalism is about ‘others’; who are non-white; or of lower class backgrounds. Stereotyping is not even recognized in such evaluations. White and middle-class informants can also chose to use a second strategy; which does address the secret and exotic attraction in portrayals of characters from other class and ethnic backgrounds. Stereotyping is not politicized in such cases; but recognized as a lack of quality. Real multicultural drama should be able to make viewers understand something new about the ‘others’ who are portrayed and not regurgitate old tales or offer flat characters. In this paper we will discuss interview material from two qualitative audience research projects conducted in 2006; and in winter 2006/7; in which a group of young Moroccan-Dutch informants and a mixed non-white and white group of informants were asked to evaluate Dutch multicultural drama that was; at that moment; on television. After detailing discursive strategies and positions in the interviews; we will take a closer look at the television examples given; to see how multicultural television drama might help work through the pain of social change in the global era.


Inga nyckelord är tillgängliga


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