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Looking at the way in which media messages and values are conveyed. We need to compare the representations of ethnicity in a range of soap operas.

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Introduction

Looking at the way in which media messages and values are conveyed. We need to compare the representations of ethnicity in a range of soap operas. Ethnicity is 'a subgroup of people sharing a common origin, culture, religion'. When looking at the way ethnic roles are depicted in soap operas, we can see that there is a minimal amount of 'asian' or 'black' characters. The society we live in today is not fairly represented in the soap operas. They do not clearly embody the ethnic minorities. The way we need to consider ethnicity within soaps is in terms of how the characters are portrayed, what their social status is, what their occupation is and what their social 'desirability' is. Across the media spectrum soap operas are not an exception, they try to involve ethnic minorities but do not always succeed and most commonly use stereotypical views they have to portray the actual 'asian' characters. Since the year 2000 the cinema industry has embraced an Indian culture and this is what needs to be achieved by producers of soap operas. They need to concentrate on showing the 'multicultural world' showing that the world is no longer dominated by white people but that other ethnic minorities are having a significant contribution to society. ...read more.

Middle

In Eastenders we have seen a number of Asian characters who are seen to be portraying the ethnic communities. Eastenders is set in Albert Square in the east end of London. Only the residents of the square are featured and most of the action is centered around the local public house. There is a wide ethnic mix in Albert Square but the stories tend to revolve around established families. One family that was well known in Eastenders was the De Marcos. Rosa was a middle aged matriarchal figure who was the stereotype of an Italian 'mama'. The Italian culture was reinforced via the plot vehicle of the family business. The producers use their knowledge of the Italian culture to try and portray this family to the best they can. The older brothers Gianni and Beppe were both fiercely protective of their younger sisters. The Grandmother, who was also present in the storyline, helped in the restaurant, this is showing the idea of extended rather than nuclear family. Rosa De Marco had an affair with 'George' a middle aged, gangland character who we seemed to associate with 'the mob'. This could be seen as stereotyping because it is going on the basis of imagination. People might not know that there actually is a mob in Italy but would portray one because it is interesting. ...read more.

Conclusion

A critic Erwin Panfosky (1979) said that all of the personality 'types' that we see represented on our screens are actually derived from the theatre which was used in early cinema. 'Types' are characters who are 'defined by what they represent rather than being genuine individuals'. A 'type' is signified by an actor's appearance and behaviour and, unlike the stereotype, does not really exist in the real world. Types that exist in Eastenders are Winston and Tracy, that are just normally hanging around and don't have an actual storyline. Stereotypes offer a kind of sophisticated shorthand about characters and people in the real world. However in 'Image and Representation' by Nick Lacey, he tells us that although stereotypes are very common there are many assumptions (according to Tessa Perkins in her book 'Rethinking stereotypes') which people have about stereotypes. E.g. they are pejorative concepts, they are usually about oppressed or minority groups, they are simplistic and they are rigid and unchangeable. Because someone holds a stereotype of a group his or her behaviour towards a member of that group can be predicted Overall producers has attempted to portray ethnicity to the best of their ability and have not been able to at times due to lack of research, but it is noticeable that society is beginning to accept ethnic minorities in soap operas and accept them as part of the community. Mariam Yasin Media Coursework February 2003 1 ...read more.

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