M&M – Multiculturalism in the Media (W3)

Multiculturalism questions the ideology and concept of ‘One Nation’; This idea covers one language, one culture one way of doing things.

Benedict Andersen spoke of the idea of imagined communities and how they ar systems of cultural representations, or in short the way we perceive and view our society.

We used this to then look through the ideas of

  1. The Nation – Which is the imagined community
  2. The Nation State – The political/Admin/Schools/Hospital or Government within the nation
  3. Print Journalism – Which is important for standardising vernacular and language and creating communities (of readers)

Hobbaswm & Ranger spoke of the good example in Scotland using the Kilt as a symbol of the nation, where previously it wasnt specifically accredited to it.

We then spoke of how in the media we see our imagined community, or Nation several times over and over throughout the day. We see Union Flags on teddies and mugs, we always see maps with our country in the middle of maps or in the weather forecast on the BBC, we only get England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; despite showing the weather change over the Republic of Ireland. We spoke about how Scanell speaks about in Tv Radio and Life how this brings the nation into the living room.

This lead us to look at the Unity and Naturalness of a Nation and how it’s portrayed in the media. This brought up how this is done at the expense of difference because people ‘want’ to see the national identity they know and love. The media are expected to produce the shared experience of the nation or create a ‘Standard’ memory of an event or story. A good example of this, and its subsequent conflict s 9/11. The media were very good at displaying the joint suffering and grieving of Americans, however they daren’t touch Muslim Americans in this suffrage.

This introduced the US and THEM concept. The media has a poor record of including difference, for many it is almost ‘invisible’ making people feel voicelessness. We also explored that exclusion happened as well when stereotypes were badly portrayed in an attempt to include ‘the others’. This is caused by poor resources that often ghettoize minorities by giving special slots to eg Gay, Asian, Christian shows time on the schedule but only really early or really late in the day.

To Consider the reasoning behind this we read an excerpt from a United Nations speech that used trains and passengers as a metaphor

We are passengers in trains (our cultures), each moving on its own track, at its own speed, and in its own direction. The trains rolling alongside, going in similar directions and at speeds not too different from our own are at least reasonably visible to us as we look out from our compartments. But trains on an oblique or parallel track which are going in an opposed direction are not. We perceive only a vague, fleeting, barely identifiable image, usually just a momentary blur in our visual field, supplying no information about itself and merely irritating us because it interrupts our placid contemplation of the landscape which serves as the backdrop to our daydreaming.

From C. Lévi-Strauss, The View from Afar

He said from this that we walk around as ‘Windowless Semantic Monads’ or people who are happy to sit in our world and not question it. This leads to niches and minorities to create their own media which fragments the media landscape and weakens the national broadcasting landscape as these minority medias are often more globally based.

There have been methods and policies media institutions and the ‘state’ have tried to bring in to tackle this.

  • Insisting on cultural representation of diversity in the Media
  • Actual representation in media employment
  • Minority participation in their own representation.

Roza concluding by reminding us that multiculturalism had tried to re-configure the way the nation is portrayed to prevent the notion of ‘I know the nation, I learned it once and I don’t need to re-look at it’ because it is always changing, growing and expanding.