Limiting Violence on Television

I was pleased to read that the three major television networks have agreed to issue a "uniform set of guidelines" for reduction of violence on the air. In a society that has the dubious distinction of being one of the most violent in the world, one wonders why it has taken decades for network officials to reach a pact of this kind.

Now that there is hope for the elimination of violence from television, perhaps our esteemed media magnates will have the goodwill to purge the screen of racial stereotypes. Over the past few years the degradation of people of color (especially African-Americans) on television has increased at an alarming rate and become a national disgrace. This stigma will undoubtedly bedevil the image of black people (in their minds and in the minds of non-blacks) for the foreseeable future.

With distorted logic, some television producers have justified their presentations of ethnic stereotypes as a means of fighting racism. I would suggest they consult the brilliant book, "Minorities and the Media" (Sage Publications), by Clint C. Wilson II and Felix Gutierrez, which points out that "the studies that have been done show that negative, one-sided, or stereotyped media portrayals and news coverage do reinforce racist attitudes in those members of the audience who have such attitudes and can channel mass actions against the group that is stereotypically portrayed. The studies also show that bigoted persons watching television programs ridiculing bigotry interpret such programs as reinforcing their pre-existing beliefs."


Chairperson, Coalition Against

Black Exploitation, Compton

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