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As people grow, they naturally align to certain people whether an actor, a pop star, athletes, television characters, dancers or even writers. The art we consume may seem impersonal but it turns personal when we align with the characters of the art. Klosterman argues that we are born to align with certain people who are largely based on pop culture (Klosterman 2010). Unfortunately pop culture and the artifacts related to pop culture are consciously designed for a white audience, regardless of the audience consuming the pop culture (Klosterman 2004). For this paper, I am choosing to review TV shows as artifacts of pop culture. TV shows are one of the largest influences on pop culture as people are likely to align to a certain character in any TV show based on their ideologies to even their fashion sense. I intend to demonstrate how TV shows are made with a predominantly white mindset and how such shows fail the non-white population and those who are not privileged to find common ground with the white base TV shows.
The first category of TV shows that I relate to is the reality shows. Reality shows are a huge part of pop culture with channels like the E! being the home of pop culture and dedicating a lot of their programs to reality shows. I watch a lot of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Rich Kids of Hollywood, Total Bellas, Nat &Liv and Flip It Like Disick. I resonate with this shows because they are a demonstration of the finer things in life that o would want to achieve. Not only do these shows contain a predominantly white cast, they are also made for the white race. All these shows are situated in affluent locations that are predominantly a reserve of the white people race. The activities depicted in these shows include a lot of travelling, shopping and eating out which a lot of its consumers cannot relate to in their daily lives.
The non-white population, in an effort to counter the white nature of reality shows, has tried to create their own reality TV show content in the hope that it will be something different for the viewers to emulate, but somehow this ends up looking the white race content. An example is the WAGS reality show that follows the lives of predominantly black women and their athlete husbands and boyfriends. Though the show is predominantly made up of a black cast, it is still revolves around locations that are predominantly white. The show also contains activities that are predominantly white just like all other reality shows.
TV shows with a family theme have the same characteristic of being predominantly white. I watch Modern Family as I resonate with living in a large diverse family that lives close to each other. However, not only is the cast white in the show, it also demonstrates the characteristics of a white family. The relationship between the children and their parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents is that which is typically associated with the white people. Black-ish, a production by Kenya Barris, tries to give the black community a show almost similar to Modern family but one which reflects the daily lives and struggles of the black community. Ironically, the set of the show is in a white neighbourhood where Dre and his family are the only black people. The children in the show even attend white schools because their parents have made it in life. This demonstrates that majority of the people will be influenced by the white pop culture which is a reflected in shows that are meant to be non-white.
Legal drama TV and crime show have to be the epitome of the white influence on pop culture. A show like Suits focuses of the largely white nature of corporate legal matters. The lawyers, Mike and Harvey, and their assistants are all white and so are majority of their clients. Boston Legal has a similar setting with even the lawyers being largely white. Crime solving shows like Castle, Hawaii 5-0 and Brookline 99 have continued to spread the narratives of the relationship between crime and different races. In most of these shows the arrested individuals will be black people or Latinas and the complainants of the crimes will be white.
The consequence of the white nature of entertainment through TV shows is that young people are trying to emulate what they see in an effort to find common ground with their favorite TV stars. By doing this, they continue the narrative of the white based pop culture. A positive effect is that more producers are now trying to create shows that are not white based and that try to reconnect with other races. Productions and especially those from Tyler Perry studios like Madea, have been made to cater for the black population and this creates an avenue where the larger black community can relate with the cast and the issues they face.
Klosterman, Chuck. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto. NewYork: Scribner, 2004.
Klosterman, Chuck. 33: Celtics vs. Lakers. NewYork: Scribner, 2010.