Television and Society Since the Sixties

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Televisions have been entertaining families in America for many years, reflecting the social norms of different time periods. Since the 1960s, social rules and norms governing what is “right and wrong” in America have changed profoundly. As journalists, my group and I were interested in how changing social boundaries affected what shows were on television, resulting in this research question: How has television entertainment reflected the social movements over the last 50 years? I focused on how social movements and society’s acceptance of racial equality affected how African Americans were showed on television. Since the 1960s, there have been multiple social changes impacted African Americans. I was interested in how these changes reflected how the minority was casted on television. For many white Americans, television has been the only insight of African American people. Because of this, their judgments of African Americans can be affected by television as much as television is affected by social movements. If the American population is to continue growing towards racial equality, we must understand how television impacts our judgment. Anne Gray Perrin’s article “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: The Web of Racial, Class, and Gender Constructions in late 1960s,” examined how a popular movie in the late 60s reflected the social movements of the time period. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner came out in 1967, and was one of the first American movies to show an interracial couple. According to Perrin, it was released just months after Justice Earl Warren decided to legalize interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia. Other directors had tried to show interracial couples before, but theatres were prohibited to play them. Two years before ... ... middle of paper ... ...e occurred since the 1960s. I would then make a separate list of the popular movies and television shows representing African Americans during the same time periods. Lastly, I would analyze the connections between the two lists. While doing the research, I would expect to find more positive portrayals of African Americans in more recent television shows and movies. However, since racism still exists, stereotypes and negative characteristics are also to be expected. The scholarly articles I have researched came from credible sources and allowed me to draw connections between society, television, and African Americans. They brought attention to themes I may have otherwise ignored, such as stereotypes and television’s impact on society. However, only Perrin and Berry made a direct connection between social movements and the portrayal of African Americans on television.

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