Summary of May the circle stay unbroken - Essay Example

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The article “May the Circle Stay Unbroken: Friends, the Presence of Absence, and the Rhetorical Reinforcement of Whiteness” by Phil Chidester discusses the concept of “whiteness” within the media (2008). The absence of acknowledgement that this concept actually exists…
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Summary of Chidester’s Circle The article “May the Circle Stay Unbroken: Friends, the Presence of Absence, and the Rhetorical Reinforcement of Whiteness” by Phil Chidester discusses the concept of “whiteness” within the media (2008). The absence of acknowledgement that this concept actually exists even though it is widely portrayed in various capacities and reinforces racial identities without ever being mentioned directly is highlighted as a relevant format of television (Chidester, 2008). The sitcom Friends is projected as a fundamental example of how the concept of “whiteness” is frequently portrayed in visual formats but never discussed as an actual component with relevant racial positioning within society (Chidester, 2008). Chidester also addresses how the “whiteness” has assumed a strong racial position that is able to preserve a critical role in present-day American racial political arenas because it remains an unspoken subject (2008). This summary will highlight the major aspects of Chidester’s arguments as presented within the article and factors that the author believes has or will disseminate the air of invisibility that has historically cloaked the concept of “whiteness” (2008).
The article continues to point out the historical implications of this concept in that the invisibility of the concept also empowered it and carried an assumption of privilege that may not bear the scrutiny of a public outing (Chidester, 2008). It is postulated that visual conceptualization of the concept will help minimalize the political power structured around it, which may fixate it and diminish its overall power (Chidester, 2008). Chidester continues to argue that visual media tends to represent “whiteness” as a moniker of privilege and reinforces the concept’s claim to the right to uphold its core sense of “purity” against other races by limiting and regulating contacts with the “racialized Other” (2008, p.160). The role of Friends as an example of a consistent portrayal of “whiteness” despite the absence of any racial context is highlighted as an example of the absence of “whiteness” through rhetoric (Chidester, 2008). The consortium of racially and socio-economically homogenous cohorts despite being set in one of the most racially diverse cities in the world is emphasized throughout the sitcom through reinforcement of the closed circle, which symbolizes the exclusivity or “whiteness” without ever mentioning the concept (Chidester, 2008).
NBC’s partnering of Friends with Seinfeld in their primetime lineup is an additional reinforcing characteristic of the show’s portrayal of “whiteness”, with both shows sharing similar formats in the exclusive circle of established friendships, an established hangout spot, and numerous other aspects (Chidester, 2008). The closed circle is additionally analyzed for its purpose to emphasize the extent to which it serves as a visual boundary between included and excluded members and all that may challenge the group’s physical solidarity and cultural unity “on race-related issues, legitimating particular interpretations of oppressed groups, and drawing wealth boundaries’’ (Chidester, 2008, p.163). The introduction of an African-American female into the group dynamics is met by verbal statements that carefully avoid any recognition of her racial differences, although her visual exclusion from the group’s circle clearly establishes her as Other (Chidester, 2008). The analysis of Friends seeks to promote an awareness of the visual messages present within the media that can subliminally “reinforce, contradict, and diverge from” our established beliefs (Chidester, 2008, p.171).
Chidester, P. (2008, June). May the Circle Stay Unbroken: Friends, the Presence of
Absence, and the Rhetorical Reinforcement of Whiteness. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 25(2), 157-174. Read More
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