Everyone's identity is shaped by media representations.
More specifically minorities and dominant culture are represented in various ways. It is important to examine these representations in order to discover how our identity is influenced by them. This section of our hypertext will show the different ways that people of various cultures are represented and will allow for the viewer to draw his or her own conclusions. The identity section will provide more information on how identity is shaped by representations.
The minority culture includes various groups. Some groups are merely excluded from being represented and others are badly distorted in their representations. One group that has been represented in various ways is the Native American culture. Movies such as "Dances with Wolves" and "Pocahontas" develop a certain stereotypical Native American image. This culture is no longer a group with many individual personalities. It has become a group with spiritual and environmental connections etc. It has been said that a Native American film can not be called thus unless it has flute music, buffalo, and flute music.
"The Indian in the Cupboard" is another movie portraying Native American's . Native American consultant Jean Shenandoah was brought in during the production of the movie to assure accurate portrayal of the Iroquis nation. I am sure that other consultants were available for the other movies. Shenandoah consulted the elders of her tribe before making any decisions. Are these opinions breaking through dominant culture?
These people have also been represented in television. A recent movie portraying the life of General Custer dealt largely with the repression of the Native American people. Are these movies presenting an accurate picture of the Native Americans?
Are these representations accurate? Perhaps we can no longer answer the question. Everyone has been so influenced by these representations that we may no longer know the truth.
Native Americans are also represented in the print media. National Geographic has tried to sucessfully portray the Native American culture. Many books have also been written about Native Americans. A large consideration should be about how many people actually look for these print sources and shy away from the dominant mass media representations. These pictures try to tell the truth as they know it. Do movies such as those previously seen worry more about money or accuracy?
African Americans and Hispanics have also been portarayed in the media. Although these groups are largely under-represented. African American actors are prevelant in the sitcoms, but is this a good representation? Movies such as "Glory", "Roots" and "The Color Purple" have tried to portray the African American plight. Once again it is questionable as to whether these shows have suceeded.
The dominant culture, although we consider ourselves superior, is also affected by the representations of the media. White females have been portrayed in a negative way. Sex, violence, and superiority have been common themes among representations of women. It is difficult for women to detangle themselves from these representations and to form their own identity.
Although males representations are often ignored men are affected. Themes of stoicism, distance, strength and superiority are common. Where does the caring father fit in among these representations? Pictures like the one below leave men with a lasting impression of what women want.
Although many questions have been left unanswered one thing is clear. Everyone is influenced by representations. They are a part of what shapes us.