Who am I….What is media….Why is it important?
You have questions and I have the answers, so sit back relax and enjoy the ride!
My name is Shoareged Phillpotts and I am a senior at Towson University, currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in criminal justice with a minor in cultural studies. Pursuing a minor in culture studies led me to register in a course called media criticism. Based off of the name of the course I figured it would be based on media and how it is criticized. Little did I know it was much more to it and that media impacts so many aspects of our lives. In today’s society media is used as a source of education, entertainment, advertisement, and research.
First things first..what is media??
Now on to Media Criticism…
There are many different forms of text centered approaches in media criticism and a few that have been introduced to me are semiotic/ structuralism, narrative, and genre criticism. Television “text” is a very powerful media source that influences all of society in one shape or form. Television has the power to entertain, socialize, educate, inform, and even create community consensus. With that being said I am going to do some media criticism of my own using a text centered approach focused on the reality television show “Love and Hip Hop”.
The text centered approach that will be used to criticize this television text will be genre criticism. Genre criticism is focused on examining the type or category of a “text” by identifying the unique collection of elements that become familiar over time and attract attention of audiences and satisfy their expectations. Genre criticism also hones in on the conventions that develop familiarity and the innovations that sustain interest. Genre Criticism consist of three approaches; aesthetic, ritual, and ideological. For this analysis we will be using the ideological approach to criticize the text “Love and Hip Hop”. The ideological approach views television texts as instruments of power and control, and examines the genre to understand how it normalizes dominant ideology.
Love and Hip Hop is an American reality show that was debuted in 2011 to show the lives of several women in New York who are involved with hip hop music. The show has produced six successful spin-offs called Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, Chrissy & Mr. Jones, The Gossip Game, This Is Hot 97, Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood, and K. Michelle: My Life. Love and Hip Hop provided women who were often in the background of this male dominated industry the opportunity to tell their life stories and show how they live on a day-to-day basis.
This show falls under the genre of reality TV because this show documents each cast members day-to-day life for a period of time and provides you with insight on what occurs in people’s lives involved in the hip hop industry. The cast of this show usually includes five women and their male counter parts who then share their story of love, work, and what seems to be a drama filled industry. These shows have cast members that are usually upper class blacks and Hispanic. As mentioned above this show has had multiple spin offs and I will focus on two of the spin offs ( Love and Hip Hop Atlanta and Hollywood), as well as the original. These three shows are all the same genre and all have reoccurring themes that help to normalize dominant ideology’s of race, class, and gender . This show comes on VH1 cable network and has a diverse audience that includes people from all walks of life that watch and learn from the behavior of these cast members.
Using the ideological approach we are going to examine how this television text is used as an instrument of power and control to normalize dominant ideologies that become hegemonic forces in regards to race, class, and gender. In this show there are many dominant ideologies present that are normalized by the everyday lives of these cast members.
For race the ideology associated with hip hop being a black and Hispanic dominated industry is normalized by the cast of this show. Another dominant race ideology that is normalized in this show is blacks and Hispanics being drama filled and confrontational. This race ideology is supported by the display of the “crazy black women” or the “feisty Latino” because throughout all of these shows multiple cast members have confrontations with their lover, co-worker, and/or friends. In these three shows gender roles are displayed with the male counter part being the main bread-winner or dominating the hip hop industry and having an easy time in their careers . While the women on the show are in relationships and are often displayed as submissive/ dependent on their significant other for moral, emotional, and monetary support. As far as these woman’s careers go, they are all fighting to prove themselves and calm a spot in the business world or fighting to make it in the hip hop industry. The way the women and males are displayed in this text normalizes traditional gender ideologies that have been around in society forever.
As far as class goes ….well these cast members have none. Based on the lifestyle that these cast members portray one would believe that they are upper class for many reasons such as money, cars, clothes, the size of their homes, and the people they know. This genre of reality TV normalizes the ideology that upper class means money, status, and power. Each cast member displays this ideology through the way they live and this normalizes the dominant ideology that individuals that have money and live a particular lifestyle are upper class.
Using the ideological approach allows us to break down this show and examine closely how this text influences our perceptions of race, class, and gender and even how we value the culture of hip hop. This approach also shows the power of television text and how it becomes an instrument of power and control on its audiences perception of the reality of love, race, class, and gender. Many other aspects of this show can be examined and criticized closely but just from this basic analysis we see how one television text helps to normalize dominant ideologies created by those in control.
Why is Media Criticism Important??
Media Criticism is important because we are living in a media saturated world and everything that we know, understand, learn, identify with is demonstrated to us through media. We must have an understanding for media messages and their power to influence our lives, and media literacy is the key to this. Therefore this is why Media Criticism is important.