Media Stereotypes Glossary

Glossary for Media Stereotypes and Cultural Studies,

By students in MCJ 175, Fresno State University, Fall 2017

Activism, media activism. Media activists challenge mass media representations they think are harmful to society or particular groups. Some lobby policy makers about increased public access to marginalized groups. Other protest with counter-hegemonic materials about social, political, and economic inequalities. For instance, Media Watch focuses on harmful media stereotypes, including news that the #Blacktivist Twitter account was fake and linked to the Russian government.

American Dream ideology. The American Dream is that one can prosper through hard work and determination, providing a better life for their family and teaching others to t do what it takes to get what you want. This also means that everyone has rights, equality, opportunity, liberty and free to vote how they wish. Example of how the American Dream has changed through the years.

Appropriation. Is the act of someone taking intellectual and cultural expressions and uses those concepts outside of its culture, without fully understanding or respecting the culture itself. A good example is Halloween, when individuals are not aware that they could easily offend others with certain costumes, for instance wearing Native American headdresses, a geisha outfit or a Mexican sombrero. Such costumes incorporate and trigger prejudice, hate and discrimination. For example, when people dressed up as Colin Kaepernick, some people painted their face black, along wearing an afro and a sign stating “unemployed and needs a job” and “good on his knees”, appropriating black culture and perpetuating stereotypes.

Audience, active audience and audience reception,from classical Marxist ideas. The active audience theory is that different groups can understand a media message, but also interpret it differently, with differing responses. One of the most important goals in media creation is that it addresses the audience, the group most likely to understand an idea, position, or interpretation. For example,if someone is speaking about underrepresented Americans, their speech should likely address the hardships of these people. This theory in a nutshell puts forth the idea that the audience can interpret in several different ways, similar to how the interpretation of the Bible is constantly changing over time.

Binary (conceptualization). A binary is a set of related terms that have opposite meanings, such as the pink/blue binary about girls and boys, racial identification as either white/non-white, and class binary of rich/poor. For example, California currently contesting the binary idea of gender by recognizing a third gender on driver’s licenses.

Capitalism. An economic system focused on increasing the most possible amount of profit for private ownership of property and business. Can also include terms of survival, rights and morals of individuals so that everyone has an opportunity to acquire whatever capital that they want. In terms of media, this term is often associated with how corporate media ownership limits content, prolonging discrimination or stereotypes that get in the way of certain groups from advancing in property, business, capital and power (even power in their own lives). A good example of economic disparity is Explain Privilege.

Class, social class. Individuals or groups that can be arranged into hierarchical categories based on a number of shared influences. For instance, economic success and accumulation of wealth or lack thereof determine where you land in the following classes: Upper, Middle and Lower. Hegemony reinforces these classes as it allows certain groups to maintain leadership and dominance over lower social classes. Example: Trumps Tax plan is Class Warfare focuses on the tax breaks given to the top 1% while imposing more taxes on lower classes.

Codes: Rules by which we learn what signs mean, such as how we encode or decode meaning in this overview of the evolution of Starbucks’ logo. Related: Semiotic codes focus on the meanings of signs and symbols, including how they relate to things or ideas, e.g. why Nikes were placed in the form of a rose in China. Also, three media codes are: Symbolic (setting, objects, color); Written (headlines, captions, language); and Technical (camera angles, shots, placement, lighting). For example, it is up to the reader to decode messages in these different Trump ads that have different symbols, headlines, captions, and angles.

Colorism: People are discriminated against based on the shade of their skin color. Example: Shades of prejudice — Voters Obama had a political edge on other African Americans running because he was “light-skinned”

Commodity. A good that is traded or exchanged. As described by Marxists, capitalism defines everything in our lives as commodities. As a concrete example, Black Friday is seen as a mediated source of marketable commodities, e.g. this Black Friday ad.

Consumerism/consumerist. Consumerism is the idea to where someone can create a product and sell it someone for a profit and from those profits be prosperous and create a stronger or newer product for more individuals to buy and is a continuous cycle. For example, Nearly 70% of Americans Plan to Shop From Thanksgiving Day Through Cyber Monday.

Content analysis. A research method used to uncover patterns within texts, often used to study news reports and social media content. For example, our class used content analysis to code for certain factors in our study of the Top 100 Films of 2014 for the Grade My Movie project, headed by Dr. Caroline Heldman at Occidental College.

Convergence, media convergence. The flow of content across multiple media platforms, when media consumers choose multiple processes to get what they want. An example of media convergence is Net Neutrality which is the prohibition of phone companies such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile from slowing or speeding up, blocking internet content. An example of this is Alyssa Milano stepping up and giving her view on the repeal for Net Neutrality.

Critical race theory. Recognizes that racism is rooted in the fabric and system of the American society, especially in black/white binaries with “non-white’ identities as problematic. An example of how to study racial power today is a pattern of African Americans being targeted by police.

Cultural studies. Studies about how media texts are created and consumed in a world with many systems of inequality, such as politics, economics, and other factors that favor dominant values. Example: Philando Castile’s girlfriend, who filmed aftermath of fatal police shooting shows injustice in black lives and how they are wrongfully taken. This video was posted to social media: Woman streams graphic video of boyfriend shot by police

Deconstruct. The understanding that connotations and stereotypes have been created, or constructed, by society. Essentially, to deconstruct something is to break it down and analyze it in a more pure form, free from social norms. Example: The “adorkable misogyny” of the Big Bang Theory.

Demographics: Measurable characteristics (statistics) of populations such as media consumers. Example: Family Guy when Peter wants to be a “Redneck”

Discourse, discourse analysis. How we study or approach the use of language that is written, verbal, or even communicated via sign language. This can show, for instance, how power is strengthened by specific ways of writing and speaking. Example: President Trump tweets about Puerto Rico hurricane victims not helping themselves.

Encoding/decoding theory. First proposed by Stuart Hall, encoding is how a message (symbols, images, and text) is transferred between audiences. Decoding is how a receiver translates the message based on individual memories and experiences. Example: This Dove Ad is a created message for consumers, yet audiences did not decode it as a positive message.

Erasure: The tendency to ignore, remove, falsify, or re-explain evidence of race, class, gender, or sexual orientation in media. Example: Texas Mother Teaches Textbook Company a Lesson on Accuracy Slaves were called “workers” in a textbook.

Ethnography. A research method for the study of people using observations, focus groups, and interviews, and sometimes embedded research within groups of people. In media studies, ethnographers study how audiences help produce meaning, especially about their understanding of the text. Example: Brandwatch conducted research on specific groups of people to show masculine stereotypes and misogyny through social media and in addition, they recorded racial abuse that sports player received.

Feminism, black feminism. Feminism is a fight/argument for equal rights within the political, economic, and social world, plus the analysis of how media builds and disseminates inequities of gender. The term Black feminist focuses on way race and class changes gender issues, such as how African American women face issues of intersectionality not faced by others. Example: Comedic feminism in “Welcome to Hell.”

Gay and lesbian studies, lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer studies. See Queer theory, queer studies.

Gaze, male. Gaze, Male, as seen in rape culture, the idea that men are entitled to women. Example:Rape Culture in College when sex is praised by fraternities.

Gender Expression. How an individual presents their self, including physical appearance, clothing choice and behavior that communicates aspects of gender or gender role. How someone chooses to express their gender to the outside world. Drag is an example of using clothes to portray a gender other than the one a person is born into. Current event: Should public schools accommodate students’ freedom of gender expression?

Gender, gendering, gendered. Gender is a social self-identification not dependent on binary sex differences, such as anatomical or hormonal contrasts of the female (Feminine traits) or male (Masculine traits). Gendering is when you ascribe gendered meaning to something whether it be behaviors or articles, such as socialization of children by pink and blue .Gendered is what is described as things that already have meaning ascribed to it whether it be color, shape, style or behavior. Examples of gendering objects are where people give meaning off the basis of the object’s appearance.

Globalization, global media. Global Media is best described as the spread of information through media to a global audience, especially seen in multinational conglomerates and new technologies from richer nations. Examples: Globalization in the trump era and its true definition.

Hegemony, hegemonic. The ideal that those in power think they are above all other groups and subordinate “lesser” groups to go along with the hierarchy. This involves elite figures (such as politicians and other influencers) to control media, schools, and religious institutions. White supremacy is a great example of hegemony.

Heterosexism, heterocentrism, heteronormalitivity. Heterosexism is the discrimination against homosexual people and seeing them as invisible. An example is the ban against lesbian and gay military personnel. Heteronormalitivity is the assumption that heterosexuality is the standard or normal sexual orientation, such as male/female being the only two genders. Heterocentrism is the assumption that all people are and should be heterosexual, which is apparent in anti-equality laws. Example: This current event happening in Europe.

Homophobia. A psychological description for the fear and dislike of the LGBTQ community, in oneself or in others. For example, a student was expelled for homophobic posts on Facebook.

Hypersexuality. Media uses hypersexualized images (especially of young women) to sell items, such as this Carl’s Jr. ad with women washing cars in tiny bathing suits all to sell burgers. In terms of media stereotypes, this plays into normalizing sexuality, marginalizing people who are fat, older, or disabled.

Idealization. Occurs when media can portray situations as perfect in reality when they are not. For example, celebrity photos in online blogs can be photoshopped and create pressure for readers to live up to glorified stereotypes, such as Kim Kardashian’s leaked Mexico pictures where her body was not pictured as it “normally is”.

Ideology. A Marxist term to describe how ideas are embedded in our social institutions, including capitalism, communism, and socialism. Ideologies of class favor the upper class lifestyle and degenerate the lower working classes. Ideologies of gender highlight the sexist representation of women and oppressed groups. Ideologies of race/ethnicity use racist representations of people of color and other minority groups to make inequalities appear natural and induce consent to relations of dominations. Example: Campaigns of “The Ideal Woman.”

Image, media image. How reality is represented in media culture, such as the images of women in advertising in the Dove self-esteem project counteracts the artificial images of thin supermodels. By using models of different body types and races, the campaign can appeal to people across the world with less artificial representations.

Individualism. A philosophy that favors individual informed decisions, looking at individual interests rather than groups or classes. Example: Opinion of #metoo talks about how individual women share their opinions and experiences about sexual assault.

Intercultural Communication: The study of how we communicate across different backgrounds (such as race) and cultures (such as religion). Examples of cross-cultural communication can be seen in the comment sections of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. These comment sections can also be found on newspaper sites at the bottom of the article. The most controversial of commenting came from Colin Kaepernick and the NFL this fall when the athletes knelt for the flag salute.

Intersectionality. A term describing social identity that links categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group. These overlapping systems can depict patterns of discrimination or disadvantage allows coalitions based on different forms of equity to work together. Example: Patricia Arquette’s comments at the 2015 Oscar awards.

Intertextuality. The effect one textual work has on another, such as the influence of a text on an author even if the author does not explicitly reference that text, and it can also be the effect a secondary text has on a reader. Example of a primary media text using secondary sources: A news article about Army tanks in Zimbabwe references tweets,  

Liberatory. To liberate in the context of media studies, this term describes the emancipation or setting free of groups or individuals from social or economic stereotypes by analyzing texts for bias. Example: Skyline College critical analysis of media coverage of Serena William’s pregnancy.

Liminal, liminality. A term used to describe transitional stages of a process, as in ‘the space between’ starting and finishing a ritual or experience. Example: Gender fluidity as seen in media about transexuals, such as Caitlyn Jenner and Bruce Jenner bathrooms.

Marxism, Marxist, The theory and practice of socialism including a critique of capitalism. Karl Marx believed that one’s social class dictated one’s social life and that the upper class (which controls material production) controls the lower classes of laborers who grow up and continue to be in poverty. An example of this would be the companies in the United States. There are 6 companies, General Electric, Comcast, Disney, News Corp, CBS, and Time Warner. These companies own other corporations and are in charge of the news they send out. In the recent news there is an article where the wealth gap in the U.S is worse than Russia and Iran. This is a good example of what Marxism is against because we are living in a capitalist economy where the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer.

Masculinities. This concept ties down to gender stereotypes such as how men should behave, with traits such as aggressiveness and strength typically tied to biological men. This term has become less clear today because of gender equality, given that anyone can do “masculine” tasks, such as women replacing men in the workforce during World War 2. Example: Homer’s Phobia which shows a father wanting his son to do manly tasks such as hunting.

Media, mass media. The plural of medium, which is a term referring to means of mediated messages and images that influence people, as publishing, broadcasting, and the Internet. Mass media is distributed by producers for consumption by larger audiences. Example: Imbalance of information, what is shown and how it is portrayed.

Media literacy/media literacy skills. When a person can objectively access, analyze, evaluate, and create media. Being media literate allows a person to better understand the things that they see on Facebook, the Web, and other platforms. Think of the meaning behind everything when reading media.Example: PBS News talks of how we can teach kids to discern fake news.

Media platforms. The media today is a complicated network of connected platforms, which are also known as “Social Media”, for instance, facebook, twitter, instagram, tumblr and etc. These platforms allow of people to release content of their choice, in which has took communication and freedom a speech to the next level. A good example of how media platforms are being used is President Donald Trump’s posts on Twitter triggering individuals like Kim Jae-Bong.

Middle Class. This term is used to describe the income group between rich elites and poorer laborers, with some financial experts tying it to location and home ownership.

Misogyny. Trends and representations for women are often constructed through the media. Online, different perfections and standards are constructed in which creates a misogynistic mentality. In general terms, misogyny is the hatred for/of women. In relation to media, this term more specifically deals with women becoming more of a presence online, specifically within blogging. This has created a wave of feminism which has led to backlash and online misogyny. The hatred of women, including media images and text that continue negative stereotypes. Example: Actress Ashley Judd proposes a number of solutions for combatting misogynist online harassment, and specifically calls on the tech industry and “our friends: White Males”

Multicultural, multiculturalism. Is the presence of several different cultures or cultural elements. It can also mean the acceptance of other cultures and cultural diversity. An example of this is the term “melting pot” which is symbolic of the United States where many different cultures coexist together but do not sacrifice their particular identities or culture. However, media activists now work to validate perspectives of marginalized voices. For Example: Refugees seeking asylum in other countries keep their overall identity while also blending into the new culture.

Neoliberalism. A “new” form of economics associated with free-market ideas. Neo-liberalists believe the market should be deregulated and privatized, with no government involvement in the public sector. This type of system would favor the unregulated private sector over government to ensure the wellbeing of its citizens. Because every individual is supposedly able to achieve economic success, this system encourages “victim-blaming” for those less successful. In terms of media and stereotypes, neoliberal ideas encourages us to work hard and achieve our dreams without any government support. For example, recent news coverage about U.S. health care has swung from neoliberalist ideas (everybody should provide their own) to a preference for government-provided health care.

Objectify,objectification, objectifying. To objectify means to treat another person as if they are only an object or a thing instead of a human being. Objectification has been popular theme major advertisers have used in the past through present day to not only objectify women and men alike. Example Toothpaste Ad Banned for Objectifying Women focuses on a toothpaste ad that uses a visually naked woman.

Oppositional reading: As described by theorist Stuart Hall, this is a reading position that rejects the preferred meaning, such as audiences contesting a product’s message or setting, e.g: Nivea’s White is Purity campaign backlash.

Patriarchy. A social system where men have the power, such as men holding power in a committee, business, or government. e.g the movie The Wolf of Wall Street.

Political Economy of Culture. A framework to analyze how media is produced and distributed, so as to better understand the effects of the media on consumers. One such study would be the way in which information was absorbed by age groups 18-30 concerning the Hurricane Harvey Relief Telethon and Houston Texans player JJ Watt’s initiative via social media for relief efforts and the effectiveness of both.

Polysemic texts. Polysemic text refers to the idea any form of text can have multiple meanings or connotations. MSNBC to Sever Ties With Contributor Sam Seder After Resurfaced Roman Polanski Rape Joke

Pornography. A politicized term about graphic, sexually explicit texts that encourage sexual acts. Anti-pornography activists argue that such media should be considered violations of civil rights, rather than free speech/safe spaces for exploration. In terms of media stereotypes, its consumption is sometimes seen as a form of violence against both genders. For example, former Fox reporter Bill O’Reilly was tied to a “pornification of conservative media.

Postcolonialism. Study of the effects of colonialism on cultures and societies, emphasizing the cultural, economic, and political impact on formerly colonized countries. In terms of media stereotypes, it looks at how media prolonged the superiority of Western civilization and the inferiority of colonized cultures. For instance, the 2009 movie Avatar shows how greedy foreign governments seek to destroy an indigenous culture for its natural resources.

Postfeminism. This description of feminism began in the 1980s to challenge some claims that feminism was dead and no longer relevant to young women. Like postcolonialism and post-racial discourse, it refers to media that implies all goals have been met. A recent act of feminism was the women’s march during Trump’s inauguration. Here is an example of some post feminism culture and information.

Postmodernism. A break from modernism that includes intersectionality and uncertain outcomes from fragmented media. There has to be a comparison of experience versus previous normalities with the expectation that personal experience will always outweigh the “norm” and that media constructs meaning and identity. It can also reflect how we prefer scenes that we recognize from past experiences, such as Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy and Ed, Edd, & Eddy.

Queer theory, queer studies. The larger scope of behavior and concepts regarding fluid sexuality, conflicting with previous views of identity as permanent and fixed. Many schools now offer lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer (LGBTQ) studies. For example, “31 Same-Sex Celebrity Couples Who Put a Ring on It”, famous singer Ricky Martin proposed to Jwan Yosef in November 2016 and instead of saying, “Will you marry me?” He said, “I got you Something!”

Race, racism. Race is a social category that is often used today about prejudiced behaviors and attitudes; for instance, hating a certain person due to their skin color is a form of racism and bigotry. While some viewers may see hip-hop or rap music as continuing racial stereotypes, others see such media as expressions of unequal privilege. Example: KKK Leader interviewed by African American journalist.

Race Relations. This concept is about the relations that people of a different race have towards one another in society. We talked about this on week 7 where we talked about Racial Formation Theory. Example: Kids talk about race relations and explain why they can’t be friends with other kids of color.

Representation. Representation refers to the way reality is shown within any medium. These aspects of reality may include depictions of race, gender, and other stereotypes that do not actually reflect ‘real life’. Example: President Trump’s negative representation of Latinos as being an unlawful people (“Bad Hombres”) furthers negative cultural representations.

Scientific Racism. The practice of classifying people by different phenotypes and/ or genotypes into different kinds of races, usually to emphasize the superiority of one race, usually white. For example the article, “Is The Bell Curve Scientific Racism?”, mentions an example of Scientific Racism, talking about how White Europeans were more evolved than other races and therefore superior.

Semiotics, semiology. The study of signification, about signs and their meanings in society. These signs can be colors, objects, visuals, or text, and are either the signifier (the symbol itself) or signified (the meaning). It is a study of the exchange of information from sender to receiver using messages that are codes which are “encoded” by the sender and “decoded” by the receiver. A sign or representation can be anything that stands for something to someone or somebody. Example: An advertisement for Dettol, a hand sanitizer commercial, used semiotics to depict the germs on buses.

Sexism. Being discriminated or devalued by a person because of your gender, often seen in discriminatory behavior or attitudes. Also used to describe male-dominated cultural, social, and economic structures. Example: restricted job opportunities because you’re not the gender type or have the capability like the “gender” the company is looking for; also, this example of sexism in Hollywood.

Sexuality, sexualities, heterosexuality. The state of being sexual, including engaging in sexual activity. People often use the term sexualities to refer to sexual orientations. Examples include being gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, or heterosexual. Example: Fresno Bee article in which Brooke Ashjian said he feels LGBT education might make a student “sway” towards certain sexualities.

Spectacularize. In media it allows society the freedom to agree and disagree with many points of views. It explores the abstracts of the normal to make the normal stereotypes disappear to help society become a place of exploration. It is a place of expression of truth, martinezed believes, opinions, and sometimes bullshit. It allows people to express themselves. Media Spectacularize has a huge effect on society. It is specific to the younger generations who revolve around Media Spectacularize. A popular social media site for this would be Twitter. A great example of this is Donald Trump’s Twitter which splits the audience.

Stereotype. Stereotype is when someone sends out an idea about someone based of on prejudice. They are reductive images and texts that deal with race, ethnicity, class, and gender. Here is a link on gender stereotypes called Destroying girls killing boys.

Text, media text, textual analysis. Media text is any type of media that is tangible whether it be visual or sonically. Textual analysis, which is the study of text or media text in a critical research method used to interpret the meaning of messages. It can be used to closely to read all media, with ending data studied to formulate patterns.

Transgressive.The violation of socially accepted ideals that we as a community has agreed upon, going against social norms that are often traditional rules of oppression. Example: Miley Cyrus during her Bangerz era when she challenged expectations of a Disney teen star.

Trope. A figure of speech or image, often overused to prolong stereotypes. For example, having hair streaks is a trope used to exaggerate the “edgy” (rather than more passive) stereotype of Asian women.

Whiteness. A critical race theory that highlights the cultural construction of White people as a social category. In terms of media stereotypes, the term is used to analyze how ‘whiteness’ or ‘white skin’ is normalized and thus seem as invisible because it’s so dominant. An example is how Papa John’s Pizza was endorsed by white Supremacists for his ‘whiteness’, which hurt sales.

Womanism. A term of feminism that emphasizes women’s natural contribution to society, preferred by African American women over “black feminism.” Womanism is different in the way that it not only addresses gender issues but race issues as well. For example Leslie Jones bring to light sexual assault for African American Women.

Working Class. A term used to define a people who work in jobs that usually provide a low income, such as blue collar factory workers and some white-collar positions. Karl Marx describes the working class as the proletariat or the “foundation” of the wealth of many upper class societies. Example: How the rich classify the “working class”