20 March 2012 Racism and Harassment in American Animated Sitcoms It has been more than a decade since animated sitcoms were used to propagate satire and political point of view (Hughey 206). A few examples of American cartoons that have racist and essentialist nature include the following: The Simpsons, South Park and Family Guy…
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In the late 90s, two animated sitcoms were launched which based their humor on criticizing U.S. cultures and current events, usually on politics and black comedy. Much of the AMESA related satire started after the 9/11 incident in 2001, wherein the representations of the aforementioned adopted a negative and racist tone (207). This kind of representation was based on the genealogy of “Orientalism” and “Islamophobia” that positions people, places, and ideology conceptualized as Arab, Middle Eastern, South Asian and even of Muslim to be inferior with the “tripartite relationship of Whiteness, Christianity, and U.S. Nationalism” also referred to as the “White Racial Frame” (207). Popular animated television sitcoms in the U.S. adopt its own unique approaches on “hyper-irony and manic-satire” (228). South Park is a U.S. animated television series which is created, written and voiced by Trey Parker and Matt Stone (Hughey 229). “It satirizes many aspects of U.S. ...
to produce comedy, biting social and political commentary, and counter-hegemony (208), thus making it an important study point in understanding the relationship between satirical humor and social relationships and interaction, the “forms of irony that involves system of domination and resistance, such as racism and nationalism”(208), and lastly, on the reaffirmation and normalization of social relations through popular media (208). There is great influence in media representations. According to the American Psychological Association, the absence of sufficient materials that provide information of the views of a certain group would result in a blind acceptance of the television representation of the group (214). A psychologist from UCLA suggests that a vast effect of the media on the perception by children of a minority group is highly influenced by the way it is shown in the television (214). An example of a long term effect this kind of shows has is the occurrence of workplace bullying (Fox 439). According to Suzy Fox (439), bullying “is an umbrella concept for these various conceptualizations of ill-treatment and hostile behavior toward people at work, ranging from most subtle, even unconscious incivilities to the most blatant, intentional emotional abuse.” This also includes single incidents and especially those of escalating patterns of behavior (439). Recent studies identified two types of bullying, general bullying and racial/ethnic bullying. In general bullying, behaviors happen to anyone with no reference to its race or ethnicity while racial/ethnic bullying occurs with reference to race and ethnicity (439). In addition, another aspect of bullying is also introduced which is the particular dynamic of abusive supervision, also known as supervisory
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Most of the characters depicted in this animated comedies have continually used a language characterized by vulgarity and racial based issues. The directors of these animated films like Seth McFarlane in family guy, Trey Parker and Matt stone in
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