Ralph, Fred, Archie and Homer Response & Disco. Question

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The more readings we complete, the more amazed I become at how much the media industry influences content. I become more aware of the incredibly complex system behind each and every media text and more surprised at the fact that most people (including me, before this class) don't know about it. Richard Butsch's article provides an eye-opening account of how the media industry influences class representations. He describes how, for decades, big network television productions featured almost exclusively characters from the middle to middle-upper classes: businessmen, lawyers and doctors, for example. When a working class man did appear (which was very rare) he was characterized as a dumb and lazy "buffoon" surrounded by more respectable and successful females. As I was reading the first half of this article, I was thinking to myself, "Wait, he's talking about shows from the 1970s and 80s...Times have changed! Nowadays there are plenty of shows featuring working class men." King of Queens immediately came to my mind. Much to my surprise, he later mentioned this very show, and reminded me that, although modern working class characters are more common, they are STILL buffoons! On King of Queens Doug is a goofy, sloppy delivery driver while his wife Carrie is polished and put-together. Butsch reminded me that just because a certain image has become more common (working class men) doesn't mean that the associations with the image have changed (stupid, unsuccessful). More, Butsh tells us that the only reason the image has become more common is because of, once again the industry. Everything ties back to the industry. When the big broadcast networks started to suffer, they "began to seek a downscale audience on the premise that they had already lost the upscale audience to pay-cable" (582). Many viewers may applaud television producers for widening their scope in recent decades, for finally featuring working class people and thereby giving them an identity. But this is why it is so important to be media literate, to realize the industry and profit-driven motives behind everything on television. And to realize that the "identity" being granted to working class folks is an insulting, pejorative one.

Discussion Question:
Can you think of any media texts that disprove Butsch's theory about the working class buffoon?

1 Comment

Really insightful post!

Thanks Lisa.

-Liora

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This page contains a single entry by miche306 published on February 23, 2013 10:16 AM.

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