Cultural diversity and female representation have become something more than some issues to discuss by scholars. The contemporary globalized world requires development of proper communicative strategies which could fit numerous situations.
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Gender roles have changed significantly during the past decades. It is important to note that popular culture (TV, films, music, etc.) and media (the Internet, TV) play a very important (or rather essential) role in the development of effective communicative strategies.
Popular culture and media establish stereotypes, form specific opinions on various matters and reflect trends taking place in the societies. According to Brooks and Hebert “[m]uch of what audiences know and care about is based on the images, symbols, and narratives in radio, television, film, music, and other media” (297).
Therefore, it is important to take a closer look at the way specific groups are represented in pop culture and media. It is possible to trace the influence of media on communication strategies analyzing representation in terms of ethnicity and gender focusing on such group as Asians and females (and Asians females) in the US society.
In the first place, it can be important to focus on ethnicity. It is necessary to look at the way Asians (as well as Asian women) are represented in pop culture and media. This will help to reveal stereotypes which exist in the society and which shape the communication strategies. Secondly, it is necessary to focus on gender. It is essential to analyze the way women are represented in the US society.
It can be also important to understand some aspirations of females living in the contemporary world. This analysis will help to understand the extent to which pop culture and media affect the contemporary diverse society in terms of ethnicity and gender.
It can also help to understand some trends which are manifested in the society. The understanding of these issues can help to work out specific communication strategies to fit various situations.
Admittedly, the contemporary society is overwhelmed by numerous stereotypes which shape communication between individuals pertaining to different ethnic groups. These stereotypes are revealed (and what is more, formed) with the help of media and pop culture. At this point it is important to note that pop culture can also help to trace the change in stereotypes and representations.
For instance, in the beginning of the twentieth century Asians were depicted as hostile and inferior to the Western world (Shah 3). There have been many films revealing such stereotypes, e.g. Broken Blossoms, The Cheat, etc. These films created an image of “menacing, predatory, and lusting after white women” villains (Shah 3). Nowadays things changed.
However, some stereotypes still remain unchanged. Thus, contemporary films are still overwhelmed by stereotypes. Now the images are more favorable. Besides, now filmmakers started revealing the life of Asian Americans.
However, Shah claims that even these depictions are overwhelmed by stereotypes which distort the image of the Asian individual (5). The researcher reveals some of the major stereotypes: they “are treated as homogeneous group”, “diversity within a single national group… is almost ignored”, Asian culture is “understood as a single, unitary entity” (Shah 5).
Admittedly, when watching any film depicting Asians, one inevitably forms a specific opinion concerning the entire group. Many people are first exposed to such films, and only in some time they can encounter an Asian.
Of course, in this situation stereotypes and image of a fictional Asian can often affect real life communication. Thus, it is possible to state that films are based on stereotypes, and, at the same time, they form stereotypes in the society.
Fortunately, people have acknowledged the power of stereotypes and try to resist the great power of established stereotypes. Many films depict Asians as positive characters who cooperate with other people. Filmmakers also try to address existing stereotypes. One of the most conspicuous examples to discuss is the film Rush Hour 2.
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Park et al. suggest that humorous representation of Asians (as well as Black and White people) helps to resist the power of stereotypes (157).
Thus, the researchers argue that “the growing number of comedies arguing racial minorities has facilitated racial tolerance” and led to “a substantial shift in cultural representation of race” (157-158). Admittedly, laughing at various stereotypes the main characters of the film, make the viewers understand that stereotypes should not influence the way people communicate.
When it comes to gender stereotypes, there are many issues to address. Of course, the times when females were dependent on males are in the past (though in some countries nothing has drastically changed since the Middle Ages).
Nonetheless, women are often depicted as those who should only do “their jobs by nurturing” males whenever the latter may need them (Peirce 121). For instance, such an image of a woman was portrayed in an advertisement of Kleenex products.
Peirce claims that media “representations are just one piece of the values and ideologies within the culture” which are also “able to provide a sense of how to live appropriately within a society” (119).
Thus, when the advertisement reveals the image of a woman who is just waiting for anyone to be nurtured, this can be regarded as a sign that this kind of representation does exist in the society. Eventually, such ads can make males as well as females believe this is the only way to live in the contemporary society.
However, such cases are rather rare nowadays as females’ role in the society has changed. The shift in gender roles is also depicted in various films. Thus, independent and confident females are portrayed.
Such films as Sex and City or Bridget Jones provide quite plausible images of women in the contemporary societies. Angela McRobbie points out that these films provide really important insights into the development of feminist movement (262). The films show that
new young women are conﬁdent enough to declare their anxieties about possible failure in regard to ﬁnding a husband, they avoid any aggressive or overtly traditional men, and they brazenly enjoy their sexuality, without fear of the sexual double standard. (McRobbie 262)
It goes without saying that these films (as well as many other movies) reflect the major trends existing in the society. At that, the films encourage females not to be afraid of facing problems. Such films encourage females to be confident and active. These films shape the feminist thought and help females to find their place in the society.
It is necessary to note that all these stereotypes and trends affect significantly the way people communicate. Thus, media also shapes representations of different people.
It is possible to take a closer look at representations of Asian females analyzing the way Asian woman dress, the type of make-up they prefer, the way they communicate. At this point it is necessary to note that clothes and appearance play essential role in self-representations which, in their turn, shape the way people communicate.
Thus, Asian females pay a lot of attention to the beauty of the face. Frith et al. report that in Asian females “the defining factor is more related to a pretty face” (56). Asian women try to improve the beauty of their faces. Asian women also prefer putting on brighter make-up to draw people’s attention to their faces.
When analyzing female magazine’s advertising, Frith et al. claim that “Asian ads contained a large proportion of cosmetics and facial beauty products” (56). Thus, Asian females are concerned with the beauty of their skin and face.
Of course, it is possible to state that media and pop culture do influence the way Asian females represent themselves. However, this influence is not that strong when it comes to make up. Though some Western values are becoming more and more popular, this is not yet manifested in Asian females’ attitude towards beauty standards.
As far as clothes are concerned, it is possible to state that Asian females are more conservative than Caucasian women. Frith et al. claim that “in Confucian cultures, femininity is associated with virtue and modesty” (56). This cultural peculiarity shapes the way Asian women dress. While Caucasian women are not afraid to wear quite skimpy clothes, Asian female prefer more conservative styles (Frith et al. 62).
They often prefer casual style, which can be regarded as a sign of their timid nature. As has been mentioned above, Asian females are more concerned with the beauty of their faces, so they do not draw people’s attention to their bodies.
Nonetheless, Western culture has influenced this aspect of Asians’ life to rather great extent. Thus, many Asian females are not afraid of clothes that stress their sexuality. However, Asian females are still more reserved.
Admittedly, media and pop culture affect the way Asian females communicate with peers. However, it is important to note that this influence is also not that great. Asian females remain being reserved. Thus, Asian females can be characterized by “higher emotional self-control” (Park and Kim 47). They are not ready to reveal their emotions in public.
Of course, it is necessary to add that many Asian females tend to adopt new norms and values which are spread by media. Thus, Asian females have become quite ready to share their experiences with their peers. They often reveal their secrets to their close friends (Coke 10).
Of course, they remain rather reserved in public. Nonetheless, they also can assimilate with peers pertaining to other ethnic groups and adopt their behavioral patterns. When Asian females are among their friends, they can be open and emotionally unreserved even in public.
On balance, it is possible to claim that pop culture and media do influence the way people communicate and the way they represent themselves. On one hand, pop culture and media reveal latest trends existing in the society. On the other hand, these sources shape the way people communicate and represent themselves. Thus, Asian females who have always been characterized by self-control, start adopting new ways.
These females are not afraid revealing their sexuality, they are also ready to share their emotions. They are becoming more open. Of course, it is important to remember that cultural peculiarities still play the crucial role in the interpersonal communication. However, it is necessary to add that pop culture and media help to diminish these differences and find something in common to develop proper communication strategies.
Brooks, Dwight E. and Lisa P. Hebert. “Gender, Race, and Media Representation.” The Sage Handbook of Gender and Communication. Ed. Bonnie J. Dow and Julia T. Wood. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 2006. 297-319. Print.
Coke, Diet. Girl Talk. Social Issues Research Centre, 2005. Web.
Frith, Katherine, Ping Shaw, and Hong Cheng. “The Construction of Beauty: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Women’s Magazines Advertising.” Journal of Communication 55.1 (2005): 56-70. Print.
McRobbie, Angela. “Post-Feminism and Popular Culture.” Feminist Media Studies 4.3 (2004): 255-264. Print.
Park, Yong S. and Bryan S.K. Kim. “Asian and European American Cultural Values and Communication Styles among Asian American and European American College Students.” Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology 14.1 (2008): 47-56. Print.
Park, Ji Hoon, Nadine G. Gabbadon & Ariel R. Chernin. “Naturalizing Racial Differences Through Comedy: Asian, Black, and White Views on Racial Stereotypes in Rush Hour 2.” Journal of Communication 56 (2006): 157-177. Print.
Peirce, L. Meghan. “The American Mother: A Feminist Analysis of the Kleenex® “Get-Mommed” campaign.” Journal of Media and Communication Studies 3.3 (2011): 118-122. Print.
Shah, Hemant. “Asian Culture” and Asian American Identities in the Television and Film Industries of the United States.” Studies in Media & Information Literacy Education 3.3 (2003): 1-10. Print.