The Mediated Public sphere was first theorised by Jurgen Habermas, in 1962, as a metaphorical way for the general public to discuss what mattered to them in way which was still maintained by someone of authority. Yet since then it has been labelled and criticised with negative connotations of being too spectacular with impressive distractions from what would rationally matter, too fragmented in the greater picture, too trivialised, to commercially driven, apathetic to real issues and has been ‘feminised’ over time as a result.
Another issue which the public have arisen over the mediated public sphere is how their group is ‘misrepresented’ in thus, through continuously fitting the bill of stereotypes in popular TV shows and movies (McKee A 2005). One example of this I personally have found is in “The Walking Dead” aired on HBO. No I’m not referring to the millions of zombies portrayed on the show as brainlessly pathetic killing machines, rather the group of humans who survived the zombie apocalypse and miraculously could all be stereotyped down the their last catchphrase.
To sum this up the show has:
- The white overprotective family man. People sympathize with him because his (adulterous) wife is dead, a relate-able circumstance despite the post apocalyptic wasteland: Rick Grimes.
Although I’m not gonna lie, I’m absolutely in love with Glen Rhee and how there is an aspect of his character which is ultimately human despite all the other survivors losing their mind. There has been some discussion on how forward thinking his character is in representing the Asian Americans in Hollywood, although there is still the flesh out of a stereotype I believe, in how some of the characters act towards him in the first season, along with the audiences reaction.
- That white Christian family who are pro life for anything (including zombies): The Greenes
- Your hot buff best friend who screwed your wife and then (conveniently) gets killed: Shane Walsh
- Angry Black guy who’s characters first spotlight episode is him going nuts and getting in a fight with the two main protagonists: Tyrese
- And need I mention the cross-bowed redneck: Daryl Dixon
- The young daughter, turned babysitter, turned hot girlfriend material: Beth Greene
- The Mother Firgure (who in recent seasons appears to still be wearing foundation despite zombies): Carol
- Suicidal white woman who all viewers are sick of hearing whinge (gets killed off): Andrea
(sign reads: ‘How about a nice cup of shut the hell up’)
Now these examples are just to name a few.All of which we have seen before in movies and TV shows circulating the public sphere, but why do they keep cropping up? In a world with such diversity in each culture, countries and the people living in it, we are only being displayed such a fragmented perspective of the human race in the mediated public sphere.
Is this really how we pigeonhole each of these different personas? And do we really expect people in the real world who fit into a group to have the same characteristics as these on screen characters? Do Hollywood keep using them because we like consistency in every aspect of our life and we can relate to and understand these stereotypes? Or is this commercially driven and Hollywood are just abusing stereotypes to make money?
Or do we not really care about the human characters at all and just watch it for the zombies?
- Fang J 2013, Noc Recaps The Walking Dead: Diary of an Angry Black Man The Nerds Of Color, viewed 5 April 2014
- Fang J 2013, Glen of The Walking Dead is the Best Response to Anti-Asian Stereotyping on TV The Nerds OF Color, Viewed 5 April 2014
- Crook L 2010, Walking Dead Relies on Stereotypes, Abandons Original Characters Laura e. Crook, viewed 5 April 2014
- Pike B 2011, Southern Stereotypes in The Walking Dead Thought Catalog, viewed 5 April 2014
- McKee A 2005, Public Sphere: An Introduction An Introduction to the Public Sphere, viewed 5 April 2014