Assess the view that representations of disability and sexuality are stereotypical

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  • Created by: khhmc98
  • Created on: 13-12-15 20:31

Disabled people are often symbolically annihilated, this means that they are largely under-represented in the media, especially the mentally disabled. However, the representations that are shown of the disabled are largely stereotypical, for example, the idea that they are 'peculiar' and 'abnormal.' Likewise, sexuality is often symbolically annihilated mainly including homosexuals, bisexuals, transgender and pansexuals. The representations of these groups are also very stereotypical, for example, that all gays are 'camp.'

Barnes (1992) identified a number of recurring stereotypes of disabled people in the media. A lot of media companies follow tokenism which means they just include a disabled person just so they can say that they cover diversity. One of the stereotypes is that disabled people are curio or atmospheric as they enhance the atmosphere of unease, mystery and deprivation. They can be used to fascinate able bodied audiences. For example, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo and in Finding Nemo many of the characters are shown as abnormal; Nemo has a 'lucky fin', Dory has short term memory loss, Gurgle has OCD and Gill has a facial deformity. Cumberbatch supports the work of Barnes as he identified 3 broad categories of disability stereotyped in cinema: the criminal, the subhuman and the powerless or pathetic. However, pluralists would argue that the new media can overcome misrepresentations and the active audiences can choose to reject the stereotypes. Despite this, the media representations of disability are largely stereotypical.

Philo and GUMG (1999) found that television and press reporting of people suffering mental disabilities often focuses on violent incidents despite the fact that only a tiny minority of people with mental health impairments are potentially violent. This links to the cultural effects model as the media coverage of particular issues results in most people coming to believe that media perspectives on particular issues are correct and these reflect a consensus that generally fails to challenge ruling class ideology.  The GUMG concluded that a high proportion of their sample of able bodied people felt fear and anxiety when in the proximity of people experiencing mental health problems because media coverage convinced them that mental illness was associated with violent behaviour. For example, when Gary in Coronation Street becomes violent towards his girlfriend supposedly due to his PTSD. However, there has been a recent increase in documentaries on bi-polar disorder, like Stephen…


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