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!

smediaMy 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??

 Media is the means of communication, delivered through radio, television, newspapers, and magazines, that reach and influence people widely. From this definition it is clear that media is all around us in every aspect of our lives and it impacts our culture and beliefs. Media contributes to educating society on how they should think, feel, believe, fear, and even desire. ssmedia

      All generations are influenced by media in many different aspects of their lives. Children now grow up on different technological devices that introduce them to media at a young age which makes them media literate and even dependent. For teenagers and young adults mass media is now their main source of communication, their way of life, everything is one click away and done through a media channel. Even working adults and elders have no choice but to conform and accept this media saturated way of life. Media outlets provide materials  that help us to form our identities, our sense of self, our ideas about male and female, understanding for class, ethnicity, race, sexuality, what we see as good and bad, and so much more. Media also shows who has power and who doesn’t, and who dominates and exercises true control over society. All of society is now shaped by media and media helps to create our understanding for how the world works.

Now on to Media Criticism…

  Living in a media saturated world has led society to realize the importance of learning how to understand, interpret, and criticize media messages. The power that media has over society has led to the development of Media Criticism. Many people may think that media criticism is a negative opinion based way to criticize different media outlets. Yet in all reality it is the opposite of that. Media Criticism is a systematic study of how media messages/text are powerful forces that shape our lives as individuals and as a culture. Media “text” are TV programs, advertisements,  magazines, news papers, etc.  Media criticism provides “tools” to systematically evaluate these texts. These tools are classified as critical methods and approaches which are text, production, reception, and socio/ cultural centered. These tools provide us with the ability to properly interpret and understand media culture for what it really is and not just what is being delivered to us. Each tool allows us to learn how to read, criticize, and resist media manipulation and gain true meaning behind these text.Social-Media-Kentcuky-Louisville1


         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.ssslove

         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.

Critic Time…

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.

sshiphopFor 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.  Cut-the-cake-rsz

            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?? 

social_media_people1Media 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.


7 thoughts on “MediaTakeover

  1. Love and Hip Hop Atlanta is one of my guilty pleasures. I love how you used pictures to give visual analysis. I get bored reading long posts and the pictures helped me tremendously. I also love how you discussed the idea that Hip Hop is mainly for African-Americans and Latinos and the stereotypes they put on our personalities. Joseline Hernandez is my favorite character and it never occurred to me that she is a walking stereotype. You caused me to sit back question my own prejudices against Latinos and determine if I want to be the type of person who is entertained by caricatures instead of real, three dimensional characters.
    You broke down very precisely what the media is and why it’s important to critique it in a scholarly way. I saw the elements of the class that have taken you by surprise. You mentioned in your opening paragraph that the class is more than just criticizing the media. Having a child, I enjoyed reading how the media is making kids “media dependent” and that media literacy is a great way to keep this from happening.
    For your analysis, I love how you discussed race and class ideologies. I would’ve loved for you to delve deeper into the ideology of feminism being that the cast is comprised of mainly female leads. Is Joseline Hernandez a feminist in the traditional or radical sense? How do the women interact with each other and what do we learn about the ideologies of women and friendship?
    I read a wonderful article that expands on your theories:
    This information is relevant because it delves deeper into the wonderful points you made about race and class and interpolates feminism into the mix. I do not disagree with any statements you made. I think you did a wonderful job of making concise and clear points within the framework of the assignment.
    I found myself wanting more at the end. I wanted you to discuss more ideologies and intersect them with why, if we’re not careful, the media will have us entertained by stereotypes instead of real people. You did great work and I just want more, more, more. You discuss your ideas in a fabulous way,


  2. Hey Shoa!

    I really enjoyed your blog. It had a nice flow and was very informative. What I enjoyed about the blog discussion was that it is about a show, or series of shows that I actually watch in my free time. It helped me identify the different roles within the shows and apply them to media criticism.
    What I learned from your blog post is that Genre Criticism is used to attract the attention of the audiences. I think it is a relevant approach to critique a media text because a lot of people often don’t think about how and who is being targeted and how the media uses different factors such as drama, clothing, and nationalities in order to attract a specific audience. Though the cast for the Love and Hip Hop series is relatively diverse, the viewers for the series vary, but the majority is usually minority women.
    You did cover the discussion of race, class, and gender, but I think you could have went further into the race topic. It would have been nice to know your personal views of how these shows affect the different races that are portrayed in the series.
    I think it’s important to further discuss race on Love and Hip Hop because the series is leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of a lot of African American viewers because we all do not act like the characters in this series, yet, it is what the media is portraying us to be.
    You could find additional information on your topic in an article entitled “Study: Reality TV, Reality Unfair to Blacks” ( This article talks about how blacks in reality TV are often portrayed as violent, while those who may not be black are looked up to as organized and creative. This information is relevant because it talks about how blacks are stereotyped even in shows that don’t have a majority of minority characters.
    I agree with most of the points made in your blog. One thing that I don’t quiet agree with is what you said that the Love and Hip Hop series single handedly defines a race. I think that other shows such as Real Housewives of Atlanta, Black Ink and She’s Got Game also support the stereotypes when It comes to a specific race, not just one individual show.
    You can improve your discussion more by going more in-depth about race, class and gender. I think it is important to go more in depth about that because it is a major, unspoken factor in these reality TV shows.


  3. Shoa, I enjoyed reading your comments about how the women in the show are working to come out on top, but still face repercussions of a male dominated industry. I’ve seen commercials for the show, but I haven’t seen the series. I was under the impression that the women in show played a “housewife “role. I didn’t realize that the show was almost entirely about the women who were competing in a field where they don’t get nearly as much recognition for their efforts. You had a lot of additional links to support your arguments, especially the article about gender ideology. I like that you mentioned some of the archetypes that people box women of color into in reality television. I feel like many women of color in reality television shows are dehumanized and made fun of when they express their frustrations. I would have been interested to see you compare Love & Hip Hop to a show like the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Though they share common themes about gender ideology, both of these shows have different approaches about race, femininity, and power. There are different stigmas about each show, but there is more white privilege being demonstrated in various Real Housewives series. Nonetheless, you were very thorough in your analysis.



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