Diasporic Media

‘Diaspora’ refers to a dispersal or scattering of people for many different reasons, either voluntarily or forced. Therefore, the term ‘diasporic media’ has been derived to define any media that is produced, represented or relevant to these types of groups (WiseGeek, 2014). Communication and media can link members of diasporic communities together all over the world, where global migration trends have produced transnational groups related by culture, ethnicity, language and religion.

“The identities of individuals and groups within specific ‘diasporas’ are formed by complex historical, social, and cultural dynamics within the group and in its relationships with other groups” (Karim, 1998, p. 3).

This is apparent in groups who usually operate within small media outlets (weekly local newspapers, magazines etc.) that meet the needs and wants of their communities, to now having this emergence of digital and new technologies that enable them to expand these communication activities onto a global scale (Karim, 1998).

‘Bend It Like Beckham’ was a comedy-drama film released back in 2002, which displays a perfect example of how transnational communities are shown in a positive light, however also shows the dilemmas of placing a Sikh Indian family in the middle of Hounslow West London. The main character, Jesminder “Jess” Bhamra, is a young Indian girl who loves to play soccer. Her parents forbid her to play because she is ‘a girl’, and in their culture, to be a good woman she needs to marry a fine, upstanding Indian man, and know how to cook and clean (Clarke, n.d)

Jess and her friend Jules, who became good friends through their love for soccer

The film was very popular in the way it portrayed diverse communities (Indian and British) and stereotypical characters (Jess’s traditional Indian mother) in a more humourous, light-hearted way. The film integrated two diasporic communities, which allowed us as viewers to enjoy and appreciate this ‘hybridity’ of cultural production (Karim, 1998, p.15)

Jess's stereotypical Indian mother

Jess’s stereotypical Indian mother

References

Clarke, N n.d ‘Bend It Like Beckham’, Intervarsity: Multiethnic Ministries, viewed 24th May 2014, <http://mem.intervarsity.org/mem/resources/bend-it-beckham>

Karim, K 1998, From Ethnic Media to Global Media: Transnational Communication Networks Among Diasporic Communities’, International Comparative Research Group Canada, viewed 24th May 2014, <http://www.transcomm.ox.ac.uk/working%20papers/karim.pdf>

WiseGeek, 2014, ‘What is a Diapora?’, WiseGEEK, viewed 24th May 2014, <http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-diaspora.htm>

Race, ethnicity and the media

Race and ethnicity have long been an issue represented within the media, and it plays an important role in the ways in which we understand race and ethnicity as part of our identity, our history and our everyday lives. Race classifies people based on physical characteristics, and ethnicity delineates nationality, cultural background and belief systems (Critical Media Project, 2013).

Back in 2009, the hit show ‘Hey Hey Its Saturday’ aired its second reunion special, where ‘The Jackson Jive’ appeared on one of their talent segments. The show was heavily scrutinised, as they happily put five men in black face makeup and fake afros to perform a Jackson Five routine. Much to Harry Connick Jr’s disgust, who was a guest judge on the show at the time and whose father was district attorney in the race-torn city of New Orleans for 27 years (Overington, 2009), this form of ‘black humour’ has a very negative connotation, both in America and the rest of the world (Mahony, 2009).

Entertainment known as ‘blackface’, portrays white actors dressing like black people by “exaggerating the size of their lips, wearing torn clothes and using burnt cork or show polish to blacken their faces” (Mahony, 2009). Back in high school, I remember studying one of Shakespeare’s plays “Othello”, and the 1965 film was based around the actor, Lawrence Olivier playing Othello in ‘blackface’. At the time I suppose I didn’t think much of it, I just that it was an unusual portrayal of the character, however I can now see how disrespectful and unappealing to most this form of ‘entertainment’ really is.

Lawrence Olivier playing Othello in ‘blackface’ in a 1965 film

After the ‘Hey Hey Its Saturday’ skit, many Austrlian took to social media, suggesting that the skit wasn’t racist, it was harmless, funny and a tribute to the Jackson Five.  One of the performers spoke out and said “The worst consequence of what we did is that the skit has raised the question of are Australians racist. We’re genuinely horrified that our mistake could cause people to think that” (Mahony, 2009). I feel that no matter how funny or harmless people think this form of ‘entertainment’ is, it should not be displayed across our media platforms in any way, especially living in such a culturally diverse nation as we do.

References

Critical Media Project, 2013, ‘Race and ethnicity’, The Critical Media Project, viewed 11th May 2014, <http://www.criticalmediaproject.org/cml/topicbackground/race-ethnicity/>

Mahony, M, 2009, ‘What’s all the fuss about “blackface”?’, Crikey, viewed 11th May 2014, <http://www.crikey.com.au/2009/10/08/crikey-clarifier-whats-all-the-fuss-about-blackface/>

Overington, C, 2009, ‘Hey Hey It’s Saturday blackface skit makes some red faces’, The Australian, viewed 11th May 2014, <http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/hey-hey-its-saturday-blackface-skit-makes-some-red-faces/story-e6frg6n6-1225784618497>

Gender and the Media

In todays society, we are constantly surrounded by media, whether on TV, on our phones or online. The media influences and affects how we perceive the world around us, and helps to shape our understanding of people and places (Goddall, 2012). Unfortunately, the media that we consume today is saturated with stereotypes, especially issues revolving about women’s role within workplaces.

A prime example of this is Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series, ‘The Newsroom’, where many scenes ‘involve men setting women straight, men supervising women, a man teaching a woman how to use email etc.’ (Ryan, 2012). According to sources, ‘The Newsroom’ seems to enjoy putting ‘loud’ women in their place or to portray them helpless and dramatic (Lacob, 2012).

Having only watched a few short snippets of the show myself, these comments seem to be true, although Sorkin’s work in the past is seen to be very popular. Critics have said Sorkin has a habit of creating one-dimensional female characters in male-dominated settings, with references made to one of his previous works, ‘ The Social Network’ (Spencer, 2012).

This is obviously not the first show to portray women in this way, and definitely not news to anyone; this idea that, even more than men, women in broadcast news are judged on their looks. (Ryan, 2013). Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Centre, was quoted: “While media is the most powerful economic and cultural force today, it still falls far too short in its representation of women… the numbers demonstrate that the glass ceiling extends across all media platforms… we’re still not seeing equal participation. That means we are only using half our talent and usually hearing half of the story.” This is a very strong view on the matter, however I do feel that public stations still have work to do if their male-female journalist balance is to mirror the larger society (Marcotte, 2012).

References

Marcotte, M, 2013, ‘Gender Inequity in Public Media Newsrooms’, MVM Consulting, viewed 3rd May 2014, <http://www.mikemarcotte.com/2013/03/gender-inequity-in-public-media-newsrooms.html>

Ryan, M and Lacob, J, 2012, ‘“The Newsroom”: Women Problems Abound in Aaron Sorkin’s HBO Series’, Huffingtonpost.com, viewed 3rd May 2014, <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maureen-ryan/the-newsroom-women-aaron-sorkin-hbo_b_1641982.html>

Spencer, R, 2012, ‘Are Aaron Sorkin’s women ‘silent bearers of sexism’?’,  The Guardian, viewed 3rd May 2014, <http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jul/02/aaron-sorkin-the-newsroom-sexism>