Posted: July 28th, 2023
This paper is about TV shows and other media ‘doing the race thing right, kind of’. Pick one or two good TV shows, movies or even ad campaigns. Avoid the obvious, like ‘The Cosby Show’ and ‘Fresh Prince’. Though a great shows, most people would pick them for this assignment (even amid the current Cosby controversy). The paper has two main sections that deal with the HOW and WHY questions of your research. Word count is only 1,0001,250 words, DOUBLE SPACED, but make those words count. Mention key terms, people, ideas, references.
Here is a basic outline . . . INTRO: short . . . what is your topic? describe it briefly w/a little context. is it on network (NBC, etc.) or cable channels (like HBO, showtime, etc. which tend to be a bit more edgy)? what kind of ratings/viewership does it have (as a way to quantify popularity)? the cosby show was about a black uppermiddle class family living in brooklyn, ny. describe a bit more here: family dynamics, sets, dialogue, etc. it aired on NBC and was no. 1 show for a few years in 80s. on for eight years. averaged 13 to 20 million viewers each week, 30 million at its peak. any other backstory you can find. 1. HOW is it different? this is a key part! why YOU think it’s different is not enough. frame it in a larger context. one context is other tv shows/media. why is cosby different than most tv shows featuring black characters or storylines? cosby was significant in primetime tv history b/c seldom were black folks portrayed in such an affluent, positive and multidimensional way. the other context is society and culture. the cosby show challenged many assumptions about black culture by moving beyond the ‘hood’ and into the mainstream consciousness while still maintaining black cultural realities. give one or two examples. 2. WHY is this important or progressive (or not, talk about the critiques as well) cosby and shows with more complex and positive portrayals of marginalized folks nudge the general public a bit closer to acknowledgement and reality. conversations about black professionals, solid/quirky family dynamics and black pride changed somewhat because of this show. also, countless studies have shown children aspire to images they see on television. cosby was a beacon for young black folks because they’d never really experienced such a TV family and the possibilities it presented. critics of the show thought it was too unrealistic, idealistic to present such an accomplished family on TV most black people don’t live like that, so critics pushed for a more representative family. be sure to point out the good parts, but be aware of the critiques as well in the paper. kind of like the conversation we had in class about ‘orange is the new black’. finally, often our first reaction to shows about race comes as a critique about stereotypes and legacy discrimination. while true, this assignment is an attempt to expand beyond the stereotype to find ways producers are trying to create shows and other content that propels the conversation about race and identity in U.S. media and culture forward. in essence, acknowledge the archaic, narrow representations we so often see, but accentuate some of the positive, more complex content out there. IN SUM context is the key to this and most research/essay papers you’ll write in college. connect the dots. fold your opinion into larger contexts to make your findings more accessible and to give them more relevance. CITATIONS use intext citations, MLA style and sources at the end sources required: books: one title research journal articles: two titles web sources: use what’s relevant. don’t cite wikipedia, but you can use it as a launching point to other sources and information.
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