Racism in Animated Media and its relation with Discourse Analysis
Racism is usually defined as views, practices, and actions reflecting the belief that humanity is divided into distinct biological groups called races and that member of a certain race share certain attributes which make that group as a whole less desirable, more desirable, inferior or superior. (Schaefer 2008)
There are many definitions to explain the term “racism.” Everyone has their own opinion about racism. The exact definition has been under considerable debate among scholars, what can be classified as the simple observation which can be stereotyped into racism as well.
According to my understanding, the definition of racism is “a doctrine or belief that human race has distinctive characteristics that usually involves the idea that our race is more superior than the other and having more rights.”
United Nations has made it clear that the term ‘racial’ discrimination and ‘ethnic’ discrimination are not different but one and there is no justification for racial discrimination in theory or in practical, anywhere. (UNHRC 2011)
Segmentation theory: Michael Reich in 1980s developed the Segmentation or Divide and rule Theory. In his theory, he tries to explain racism in the different perspective which is related to an economic viewpoint. He argued that the main goal of a society is to make greatest profits by using any means. The exploiters will used any resources to: (a) offer less pay to exploited class, (b) having full control on middle class, (c) promotion of bigotry, (d) separate the black and Asian society, (e) and make sure that the elite class gains maximum benefit from exploited black community. He further added that the major’s corporations such as Time Warner, Pepsi, General Motors and many other industries, their interest is to gain maximum profit.
In this topic, my core focus would be on the influence of racist theme (food, characters, culture and sets etc.) and also in animations such as films, dramas, cartoons, and advertisements.
Animated movies have nothing to deal with the “real” peoples or “real” environment, it is the careful imagination of a developer. It could be good or bad based on the thinking of a developer and can be fully expressed. This makes any slightest hints of racism in them a viable threat to the freedom and equality of human races.
If we look at the history of Animation, then we came to know that is basically for the adult’s audience and were seen in the theater. In the 1930s to 1950s, the animations were full with political and artistic reference, and always had a deeper meaning (it could be motivated for a cause or against). This portrayed the attitude of a population and agenda setting such as radical discrimination and racial stereotyping. Cartoons, which are one of the greatest source of animated entertainment for all group of ages especially target audience is children was badly affected by the racist. It was banned by mass media but still, much work had to be done to stop this disease. “The History of Racist Animation” is a documentary which offers a precious sociological lesson in the nastier side of Hollywood’s fun factory, with a remarkable collection of shocking cartoons. Ethnic humor is not uncommon even today. But, there had been a difference between cruel cheap racist humor and socially acceptable humor.
These animations have also played an important role to unite the audience against certain circumstances. The valid example would be, in WW2 the animation aimed at against the Japan in the USA. This is only propaganda just to manipulate the audience. The cartoons on wartime were full of bucked-teethed, slanted eyes and epicene Japanese villains. The animated cinema is full of such stuff. I’m giving you few examples although they are in great numbers. The interesting fact is that in classical cinema there is no restriction on early filmmakers they were free to do anything. First super hit animated film “Birth of a Nation” was directed by the American director; D.W. Griffith in 1915 is full of bigotry and Civil War in the early period of America. In this movie, African-Americans were sexually violent towards white women and describe African-Americans as a brainless creature. In cartoon named “Alladin,princes” there prince’sArab princess “Jasmine” her dress were not according to the traditions of Arabs. At the same time her dress shows the vulgarity and crudeness. The skin tone has been portrayed with the temperament and the disposition of a person. This is the stereotype that black women were more aggressive, violent and angry while the lady having the white color is kind, loving and malleable spoken. To understand the concept, we should have proper command on the word discourse analysis. This is mandatory to mention that discourse is very important part of the human communication. Discourse analysis is s term for a quantity of approaches to analyzing vocal, written or sign language use. Racism is everyone knows is a global problem and many organizations are still working to stop racism but they gain little success so far.
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Wohlgemuth B. Racism in the 21st century: how everybody can make a difference. (2005) Schaefer R. Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity and Society (2008). SAGE. NY
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