chapter  5
94 Pages

Stories of Race in Popular Culture

The study of entertainment media and race is complex. Scholars, media critics and commentators, passionate media observers, and people who watch a lot of television and/or movies have conducted academic studies and have formed unscientific personal opinions about the images of various racial groups in film and television and music. There are competing theories and perspectives about how to evaluate and understand the impact and meaning of these images and themes. As we discovered in Chapter 4, the historical experiences of various immigrant and racial groups in the United States are profoundly different from each other. Since these varied histories are often inaccessible in our schools and personal lives, their representation in media takes on added significance. There is also a high degree of complexity within each so-called race. For example, images of Asians are often collapsed and homogenized as one in media when, in fact, the experiences and cultures of various immigrant groups (i.e., Chinese, Japanese, Mung, Vietnamese, Filipino) vary widely. And to add one more complicating factor, the work that has been done regarding the representation of various racial groups in popular culture is wildly uneven. Far more information is available about images and themes of African Americans and American Indians in entertainment media

than about Asians and Pacific Islanders or Latinas/Latinos. There has been very little research conducted on popular music in relation to Asians and Pacific Islanders, Latinas/ Latinos, or American Indians.