Discourse & Identity III (Discussion)
Television on the study of race and ethnicity
- Group 4: Sociologists Michael Omi and Howard Winant reject the idea of racial essentialism and propose an approach based instead on a racial formation. Explain these concepts and compare them to the "gender identity" approach we discussed last week. Is there anything in the Girlfriends, Fresh Off the Boat, or black-ish episodes we watched that helps explain these concepts?
- Herman Gray identifies three African-American discourses in TV.
- Groups 5 & 1: Explain what he means by the assimilationist category and why he puts Designing Women into it. Should the Fresh Off the Boat and black-ish episodes we watched be put in this category? Why or why not?
- Groups 6 & 2: Explain what he means by the pluralist category and why he puts Girlfriends into it. Should the Fresh Off the Boat and black-ish episodes we watched be put in this category? Why or why not?
- Group 3: Explain what he means by the multiculturalist. Should the Fresh Off the Boat and black-ish episodes we watched be put in this category? Why or why not?
Beretta Smith-Shomade (pronounced "show-ma-day") examines "four intertwined elements in [1990s] television comedy that define and give meaning to Black women's representation there: work roles, characterization, class, and identity" (48). Each group should consider one key aspect of these elements and discuss how the 21st-century sitcoms we viewed—Girlfriends (2000-2008), Fresh Off the Boat (2015-), and black-ish (2014-)—illustrate that aspect (or don't).
- Group 4: work and class
- Groups 5 & 1: identity: language
- Groups 6 & 2: identity: skin shade
- Group 3: identity: hair
- All groups: characterization (i.e., conventional roles and stereotypes). Do Girlfriends and black-ish rely on African-American stereotypes? E.g., "mammy," "sapphire," "tragic mulatto," etc. Does Fresh Off the Boat rely on Asian (specifically, Chinese) stereotypes?
- William Dent (Reggie Hayes)
- Toni Childs (Jill Marie Jones)
- Maya Wilkes (Golden Brooks)
- Joan Clayton (Tracee Ellis Ross)
- Lynn Searcy (Persia White)
Fresh Off the Boat
- Eddie Huang (Hudson Yang)
- Louis Huang (Randall Park)
- Jessica Huang (Constance Wu)
- Emery Huang (Forrest Wheeler)
- Evan Huang (Ian Chen)
- Grandma Jenny Huang (Lucille Soong)
- Andre "Dre" Johnson Sr. (Anthony Anderson)
- Dr. Rainbow "Bow" Johnson (Tracee Ellis Ross)
- Zoey Johnson (Yara Shahidi)
- Andre ("Junior") Johnson Jr. (Marcus Scribner)
- Jack Johnson (Miles Brown)
- Diane Johnson (Marsai Martin)
- Ruby Johnson (Jenifer Lewis)
- Earl "Pops" Johnson (Laurence Fishburne)
- Josh Oppenhol (Jeff Meacham)
- Leslie Stevens (Peter Mackenzie)
- We've looked at identity (gender and race/ethnicity) through the lenses of:
- Stereotyping of women, races, and ethnicities ("Images of women" and "Images of race/ethnicity")
- Gendered viewing and raced viewing
- Gender identity and the closely related concept of racial formation
- Third-wave feminism
- Which of these approaches did you find the most useful way to analyze identity? Why? Which was the least useful? Why?
- Email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- All responses received by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, 12/11, will earn one extra credit point on the exam.
- The two most thoughtful responses will earn two extra credit points on the exam and will be posted here.
- Jeremy G. Butler, Television: Visual Storytelling and Screen Culture (NY: Routledge, 2018).
- Beretta E. Smith-Shomade, “Laughing Out Loud: Negras Negotiating Situation Comedy,” Shaded Lives: African-American Women and Television (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002), 24-68.