Token Black from ‘South Park’ (Image courtesy of: http://southparkzone.blogspot.com/2012/06/students.html)
This week’s lecture by Tanja Dreher was on the issues of white bread media and the lack of diversity in the media, and how this representation manifests itself in wider issues in society.
White bread media in Australia means casting predominantly Anglo Australians in roles, ignoring other ethnic groups such as people of different ethnic or cultural backgrounds, as well as people of different sexualities, people with disabilities and indigenous Australians.
One of the readings for the week, the article ‘Diversity still out of the picture’ by Paul Kalina for the Sydney Morning Herald, discussed the lack of diversity and predominance of white, Anglo Australians in Australian media, described as ‘whitewashing’. I think the lack of diversity of representation in the media is a significant issue for myself as a media student and for wider society as a whole, because not only does this ‘whitewashing’ restrict and ignore the voices of minority groups, but it also leads to bigger issues in society such as racism and xenophobia. Media portrayal of the ‘Arab Other’, along with many political and cultural factors, ignited racial tensions in Australia and around the world. Diversity in the media could ideally nurture understanding and relationships between different groups in society, as the media can become a platform for the sharing and discussion of ideas and opinions.
In our tutorial we discussed examples of television shows that supported or ignored the diversity of representation, and I could not help think of the character of ‘Token Black’ from the series South Park, whose name alone is a play on words of the idea of a ‘token’ black character in films and television, to introduce racial diversity. Token’s character quite effectively sums up what has been the situation of diversity in the media for so long, and continues to be, with the Anglo predominance and lack of diversity in the media.
Kalina, P (2012) ‘Diversity still out of the picture’ Sydney Morning Herald available online at http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/diversity-still-out-of-the-picture-20120229-1u1jg.html