“Demonization” is one key idea from Schultze’s Communicating for Life that has resonated with me. “Demonization” is basically when media exaggerates any negative stereotypes about a people that masses either fear or dislike, usually minorities. This includes anyone who is different such as different races like African Americans or Mexicans, different religions such as Buddhists or Muslims, or handicapped people, either mentally or physically. All of these types of people are minorities and are thus ostracized to the outskirts of society. Schultze argues that this happens because the media has a need for victimization due to the lack of heterogeneity and fallen human nature. This propagates these negative stereotypes because the masses are consuming the exaggerated stereotypes and then, in turn, applying them to people in everyday life.
This made me think about Grey’s Anatomy, specifically the character known as April Kepner. In this show, April Kepner is portrayed as a Christian, but also as being extremely eccentric and arguably irrational. It always bothered me that Kepner identified as a Christian but was so utterly annoying. It made me angry because people would watch that show, see the annoying Christian, and then stereotype all Christians as being crazy. Now, after learning about demonization, I see how the media can manipulate entertainment like this to further a certain agenda.
I also think a lot about the show Modern Family simply because it casts such a diverse group of characters and pulls in a lot of stereotypes. You’ve got the stereotypical gay couple with a little girl, the average white family, then an older man married to a younger foreign woman with a child. While I don’t necessarily think that the stereotypes shown in this comedy are overwhelmingly negative, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people are upset that these characters are portrayed in certain lights. I mean not all gay men are flamboyant and act femininely.
I just think that demonization is an important consideration to make while consuming mass media, especially anything in the entertainment industry, and I am now certainly more aware of these influences.