Re: Media and Ethnic Groups

Pauline Shafer (pali@U.WASHINGTON.EDU)
Sat, 9 Mar 1996 22:26:38 -0800

On Fri, 8 Mar 1996, Nils Zurawski wrote:

> > The world of the media for example television and the Internet
> >has an impact on ethnic groups. Could one say that the media has a
> >goal to reduce the differentiation of ethnic groups by standerdizing
> >the society? In other words, amogn other caracteristics the media
> >whants to reduce the differentiation between individuals by imposing
> >commun standers for everyone and that could also diminish the
> >differenciation betwen all ethnic groups in genaral.
> >Please send some comments...
> > Etienne Paulin
> I don't think the intention of the media is to reduce the differences, but
> it is a lot easier to make one product and sell it all over the place, than
> do 100 different ones in small numbers and sell them to 'single' people.

I would have to say I do think some folk in the various medias do intend
to "reduce the differences". Unfortunately our desire to ameliorate
sufferings due to conflictings interests, also generate promptings to
discount difference, accenting similarities. This was especially evident
in early feminist efforts, until praxis demonstrated, No you cannot
articulate another's experience. For example, white middle-class feminist
statements that the nuclear family served to disempower women, did not
take into account that for ethnic women, "family" may have different
meanings (which it did) and could have supports for female empowerment.
Thus, I believe media commits similar acts, in the name of
attempting to address divisive situations, phenomena, etc....
This has been particularly heinious in regard to co-opting of Native
American imagery and representations.

> The interesting thing is how that is done. Standardisation of products and
> just adding a local flavour to it is one way. That is selling concepts
> rather than ready made products, as you can see in TV series.

Exactly. For example Benneton (sp.?), with the United Colors of Benneton
ads. It would be interesting to do a deconstruction of Those!

> But the coin ghas a flip side too. How do ethnic groups react to that or
> make even use of that, in order to get their voices and interests heard all
> over the world. The world seems to become more and more the place for
> lobbying for the own group. Therefore al lot of different groups (ethnic
> here) have to speak a common language. The wuestion then is, do these
> plitics afect the 'ethnicity' of these groups, or do they act on two
> levels?

I think actually here we're talking about the same thing, the difference
is just intention. Wuddya think, would this qualify for a marxist "false
consciousness" on the part of advertisers, radio announcers, artists,

> I do not believe in the argument of all becomes one, one world, one global
> society etc. . Our identities were formed under certain cirmunstances,
> which will affect our lives and our way of dealing with influences brought
> A strrengthend ethnicity can also be answer to these influences, i.e.
> ethnicity as a ressource of self-organisation, regarding the cirmunstances
> a given group is living in.
> Despite the narrative of 'one global society' our living environment is
> still pretty narrow compared to the planet earth, what makes my fellows
> closer than the stranger. There are exceptions, variations and all kinds of
> inbetweens, but as a model help to understand fundamentalism for instance,
> although working on a global level (Islam), it very much focused a region
> and a small (mental) horizon.
> That all for now.
> Comments?

One album I particularly like is Public Enemy's "Fear of a Black Planet".
They pose no easy answers and sometimes speak for multiple
positionalities. I personally like that. Reflecting the complexity of the
times. all folx

menial anthro first year grad student