Television and Media - Stereotypes, Stereotyping and the Media

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Stereotypes and the Media

“Hey isn’t that Reverend Camden's daughter? I thought she was a Christian!”

“Isn’t her dad a policeman?”

“What! The President's daughters were arrested for drinking?”

These are statements that are frequently made by people like myself. I expect more from my peers whose fathers have jobs as prominent moral leaders because of the way the media portrays them. Our society places higher standards on pastors of Christian church, a policemen, and the President of the United States of America, because of their positions. These fathers are expected to be upstanding, moral citizens of their community, and are expected to have children that conduct themselves in the same manner. As college students we have learned from the media how to judge our peers' social actions based solely on their fathers' jobs. The nightly news broadcast, newspapers, and television sitcoms such as the The Cosby Show, 7th Heaven, and Dawson’s Creek are all examples of where we learn to judge based on these stereotypes.

Imagine you are at a party having a great time listening to a Marilyn Manson CD playing in the background, “Sweet dreams are made of these, who am I to disbelieve?” While filling up your glass of beer you spring a conversation with the person standing next to you. The music is loud so you both venture out to the porch to talk. Names, where you live, and your major are all exchanged in the beginning of your conversation. The two of you quit talking for a moment to take a sip of the beer you had both just filled up a few minutes ago. As the conversation gets deeper, the issue of your fathers' careers is brought up. Your dad is a real estate agent who sells homes for a living. The person standing across from you informs you that her father is a pastor of a Christian church. Your mouth drops, then your stomach. You quickly look down at your glass of beer, and then you look at her glass. A surprised eyebrow is raised, confused as to why this person is drinking, or why she is even at this party. Automatically, without any reason, you have already stereotyped this person and placed a higher standard of social prestige on her because of her fathers’ job.

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