Articles tagged with: week 7

“Here Comes the Judge: The Dancing Itos and the Televisual Construction of the Enemy Asian Male”

on Monday, 30 May 2011. Posted in Student Notes


  • Judge Lance Ito: A third generation Japanese American son of WWII internees presided over “the most extensively covered criminal trial in U.S. history.
  • Most important item is his recognition and readability as Asian: “his figure, a stern face behind his glasses, mustache, and beard.
  • “The jokes of guests and hosts expressed a desire to investigate and expose what hid underneath the black judicial wrapper (under his robes)”
  • The Dancing Itos: A troupe of a half dozen smiling men performing standard chorus-line routines
    • Visual markers- Marked by their long black judicial robes, straight black hair parted on the side, glasses with thick lenses, and exaggerated black mustache and beard.
    • Also impersonated 1970s gay disco band the Village People and Parisienne can-can dancers

White Responses: The Emergence of “Enlightened” Racism

on Monday, 30 May 2011. Posted in Student Notes


Everyone recognized the Huxtables in The Cosby Show were unusual black people. White viewers saw the show as a contradiction; it proved that “anyone can make it” yet the vast majority of black people were not like the Huxtables. The show demonstrates the opportunity for African Americans to be successful, though at the same time implicates that the majority of black people have failed. The Cosby Show emphasized the value of education. This provided the viewer with an explanation for the comparative failure of most other black people: if they had only tried harder in school, maybe they would have succeeded. “This is an American family- an American family- and if you want to live like they do, and youʼre willing to work, the opportunity is there.” -Bill Cosby of the Huxtables. Shows like The Cosby Show allowed a new form of insidious racism. The Huxtables gained inferiority of other black people by their achievements.

Reaganism and the Sign of Blackness By Herman Gray

on Wednesday, 18 May 2011. Posted in Student Notes


In his essay, "Reaganism and the Sign of Blackness," Herman Gray traces the propagation of the post civil rights mentality by the Reagan administration. Gray proposes that, by adopting a highly symbolic rhetoric, one in which "Reagan expressed...nativist impulses and at the same time resolved them," blacks under Reagan's administration were collectively associated with the decadence in America that impeded the proliferation of ostensibly classically-American values (Gray 33). This was accomplished in part by the victimization of rich white taxpayers. Reagan frequently appealed to the post civil rights notion that we had escaped a period of racial discrimination, and that institutions such as welfare and affirmitive action were unwarranted, and ultimately exploited by the "undeserving" and predominantly black lower class. This idea was corroborated by portrayals of single black mothers, drug addicts, and gang members on the news, which instilled within well-to-do white audiences a sense of resentment, as a significant chunk of their taxes was being used to support people that seemed to stand against the ideals of decency, family values, and personal responsibility. In this sense, "black male and female bodies served as the psychic and emotional surfaces onto which whites projected their fears and desires" (Gray 32). By tapping into the sentiment that the civil rights movement had ended and simultaneously emphasizing values that the impoverished public seemed to undermine on the nightly news, Reagan generated a racist rhetoric, as he was seen as the embodiment of the wholesome American ideals the nation had strayed from, and the liberalism that generated many programs designed to help the disadvantaged was seen as the cause of that straying.


on Wednesday, 18 May 2011. Posted in Student Notes



Although there has been argument on how to categorize the show, The Obsbournes marked a signifigant milestone in the development of Reality Television. Rather than address The Obsbournes as a new hybrid form of factual entertainment TV, initial news articles characterised the show as a parody of more traditional family sitcom fare. The show emphasized the dysfunction of the Osbournes, “the family that put ‘the fun in dysfunctional’”. The Osbournes were likened to cartoon versions of the traditional American family and contrasted with the representative functional 1950s television family. They are contrasted to any show that represents some kind of idealisation of the family such as The Waltons or The Partridge Family. Even though Reality TV can claim to be less contrived than scripted sitcoms, its producers deliberately cast players who represent a spectrum of different personality types and thereby guarantee certain actions to happen in predictable ways.

"Roseanne" Unruly Women as Domestic Goddess

on Wednesday, 18 May 2011. Posted in Student Notes

Notes Prepared by Matt Reed

Synopsis:  In Kathleen K. Rowe's article "Roseanne" Unruly Women as Domestic Goddess" she describes a  moving of unruly women from a contained subject to a positive image of a "domestic goddess". She also examines a conflict brought up within the show Roseanne, which is a conflict between female unruliness vs. the ideology of true womanhood.   Roseanne goes against the idea, and image of the perfect domestic lady, in her appearance and her more masculine role in the household. "How our pleasure in Rosanne's show arises, not so much from narrative suspense about her actions as hero, nor from her one liners, but from the economy or wit by which the show brings together two discourses on family life... one based in tradition. The other on feminism and social class."  She also quotes Patricia Mellencamp that "Roseanne ventures farther than her comic foremothers into the masculine terrain of tendentious joke." That through her comedy, although it's funny is also bringing up real issues.  "Roseanne uses a 'semiotics of the unruly' to expose the gap she sees between the ideals of the new left and the women's movement of the late sixties and early seventies on one hand, and the realities of the working class family life two decades later on the other." There a lot of topics at play here and a combining of the old and new.

White responses: the emergence of “enlightened” racism

on Wednesday, 18 May 2011. Posted in Student Notes


The article centered around a study done about the response of deferent viewers to The Cosby Show and its representation of race, versus other shows with all black or mostly black casts. For the most part, people described the Huxtables as a “regular family”, and mentioned that they had relatable dramas. They compared this to shows like Good Times, where they complained that the show didn’t feature realistic problems, and had ‘stereotyped’ characters. They argued that this was proof of a new, more subtle racism appearing more and more often.

The viewers also mentioned that race wasn’t as big a factor in The Cosby Show, that “You can’t notice it [the Huxtables’ race] at all”. This shows that racism has shifted from the classic color racism to the new, ‘enlightened’ cultural racism. Viewers didn’t care if the cast was black, as long as they didn’t act in a way that would be considered ‘stereotypically’ black. It is also interesting to note that, in claiming that the Huxtables were just like ‘regular people,’ but then later separating the show from other ‘black comedies’ like The Jerffersons or Good Times, they inadvertently show the dominant ideology that white culture is the base culture, and all other cultures should be judged based on their differences and similarities to white culture.



on Wednesday, 18 May 2011. Posted in Student Notes

NOTES PREPARED by will kreiser

Gillan roots the basis of the reality star sitcom – the genre under which she classifies The Osbournes - to the star sitcom, a sub-genre prevalent in US TV in the 1950s. Some examples of couples in those early star sitcoms include Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Gracie Allen and George Burns, and Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. Specifically she states, “I contend that the 1950s star sitcoms are an embryonic form of Reality Television and that The Osbournes, in turn is a development of that form.”(page 56) She focuses on a comparison between the Nelsons and the Osbournes throughout the article, as Ozzie Nelson and his TV wife were actually married, and as Ozzie claimed they “relive[d] before the camera the everyday events of their own home and neighbourhood”. This is extremely similar to the ‘so-called’ real events depicted on The Osbournes, which we are led to believe are the everyday events of the Osbourne home.

Gillan points out that the Nelsons are indicative of a normal TV family. She contends that though it may not seem so at first, the Osbournes are a similar sort of normal TV family. It is this state of “normal”-ness that makes the show relatable and enjoyable. Gillan goes on to point out the real personalities of the Osbournes are “updates” to character types (listed paragraph 3 page 57) of 50s sitcom characters.  She claims, “the shows that centre on family each offer the same implied message: this family might seem different to yours at first but you will soon see that it is essentially the same.” (Page 56)


Roseanne: Unruly Woman and Domestic Goddess

on Wednesday, 18 May 2011. Posted in Student Notes

Notes prepared by Lucero A.

“Roseanne” Facts

American sitcom broadcast on ABC from October 18, 1988 - May 21, 1997. The series reached #1 in ratings

The show centered on the Conners, an American working class family struggling to get by on a limited household income in the fictional city of Lanford, Illinois.

Roseanne tackled taboo subjects or joked about issues that most other popular shows at the time avoided, such as poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, sex, menstruation, birth control, teenage pregnancy, masturbation, obesity, abortion, race, social class, domestic violence, and gay rights.


Is This What You Mean by Color TV?

on Wednesday, 18 May 2011. Posted in Student Notes


· In the midst of the Civil Rights Era’s most turbulent times, NBC introduced the first situation comedy to feature an African-American as the starring role since the racist depictions of Amos ‘n’ Andy and Beulah.

· Julia – created and produced by Hal Kanter, and starring Diahann Carroll – focused on the story of a nurse who, after the death of her husband in a helicopter crash in Vietnam, moves to a middle-class apartment complex and raises her son Corey as a single mother.

o NBC did not expect the show to succeed, but it was their attempt at incorporating blackness in prime-time.

· Julia has been consistently denounced by critics for being significantly detached from the realities of African-American life in the late 1960s.

o The show displayed contradictory representations of African-American life: While the majority of the black population was living in ghettos, Julia and Corey enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle that would be impossible to attain on a nurse’s salary.

Looking for Latinos

on Wednesday, 18 May 2011. Posted in Student Notes


In a given week, prime time network television shows over 100 programs, all which give insight into a collective social landscape and information about the world through the transmission of information. In doing so, television marginalizes and ignores the experience of minorities through a lack of representation on television. During fall 2004, eight series set in Los Angeles were presented on television. Latinos accounted for only 14% of regular characters (through only one series) on television during fall programming, even though Los Angeles was 45% Latino. There were no Asian American regular characters, even though Los Angeles remained 12% Asian American. In relation, sixteen series were set in New York City, where Latino and Asian American characters only accounted for 9% of regular characters, even though NYC remained 27% Latino and 10% Asian American. Overall, 16 prime time shows featured regular Latino characters, while 93 series had none. Around 40% of prime time series have all white characters, and eighty percent of shows were “white-themed”. Conclusively, television does not present or account for the reality of our nation’s demographics, and therefore distortedly represents a larger society.