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on portrayals [Dec. 15th, 2004|08:11 am]
I'm incresingly frustrated with the stereotypes portrayed on television. The question will be, are they annoying enough for me to want to shut the box off for good?

I didn't see the "nick and jessica" christmas special, only heard snippets on the radio. I can't honestly say whether or not the portrayal was accurate. The segment featured was concerning a magical house in which the wishes of the residents are always fulfilled. Instant snow, instant presents, and instant costume changes. (barf, but not my thesis today)

Jessica Simpson also drew attention, multiple times, to the fact that the magical house also had a magic switch which turned the lights on, and off. Apparently such self-effacing humor is traditional: in the variety show, like Sonny and Cher; or Lucy and Ricky. However, I'm becoming sickened by the ongoing portrayal of stupid stereotypes.

When is it acceptable to feature as humorous another person's stupidity?

I've been watching TV commercials and have noticed a trend: about half to two thirds of commercials that feature "characters", the man involved is stupid. How many people resort to the old saw that a man never asks for directions? I feel that it's different in an ongoing series, like "Home Improvement", where the stupidity of Tim Taylor is not a constant but a starting point- you see him evolve as a person over the course of an episode and season, particularly after consulting with the wiser Wilson, often not perfectly but in a personal way. Learning happens.

I don't think the dumb blond sterotype is any better than the sagacious mother versus dumb dad stereotype. I realize that not everyone is equally intelligent, but it should never be acceptable for someone to stay unintelligent, and just because a person is smart doesn't mean that they should have the power to run things, either. I bristle at the portrayal of couples as one leads, the other follows. I'm all for the death of the patriarchal society, but a matriarchy is no replacement.

The "know it all" mom is just as bad as the dumb blond, because both are incapable of change due to input. Functioning couples work because they are able to influence and create change in each other without having to infantilize the other.

And, when did it become acceptable again to portray women so often as dumb blondes?

I'm wondering if it's just me, or if it's slowly becoming more acceptable to be a dumb blond. Anna Nicole Smith, Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson: when did it become acceptable again for these people to be propped up and given so much air time, letting them become role models for what girls can become? Or did it never stop, and I just didn't notice it because I was surrounded by women who refused to permit such sterotypes to be let air?

I'm hoping that it's just my overactive imagination, and not a trend.

[User Picture]From: en_ki
2004-12-15 11:29 am (UTC)
I get my TV on DVDs these past couple of years. I can't even tolerate The Simpsons anymore: the repetitiveness of commercials and reruns and the intrusive way commercials carve up every story into very short "acts" really get to me. It's really nice watching The Sopranos on Netflix.

Certainly a lot of TV humor is based on reinforcing stereotypes with stock characters. It seems to me, though, that the "dumb blonde" stereotype has been around for a long time, and that it's always had celebrity examples (if not exactly "role models"). I think the increasingly tight feedback that TV provides is reinforcing a sort of national average culture more and more, eroding difference and complexity of ideas in people who watch it.
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[User Picture]From: hbergeronx
2004-12-15 01:10 pm (UTC)

on always beens

I agree that the dumb blonde trope has existed for a long time: on television, back to Goldie Hawn on Laugh-in in the 60's/70's, and beyond. There was an overt sexism to the humor that I was under the impression was becoming "less acceptable". To see it resurge must have an explanation. There have always been lots of things, which doesn't imply they are appropriate or even relevant or necessary now.

It's nice to watch series on pay cable, like "Sopranos", because of the no-commercials thing.
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[User Picture]From: diamond_j
2004-12-16 05:10 am (UTC)

Re: on always beens

Sometime, when I have 5 or so hours, I could explain to you why I think that the pervasiveness and glorification of the porn industry has lead to the glamorization of the beautiful but empty-headed ideal and how it's being marketed to our youth to sell more product.

Geez...even that felt like it took 5 hours.
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[User Picture]From: en_ki
2004-12-16 06:14 am (UTC)
Where's that icon from, if you don't mind my asking? I'm a sucker for wildly exaggerated shapes.
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[User Picture]From: en_ki
2004-12-16 06:14 am (UTC)
...of, like, faces.
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