African Americans Portrayl On Television Essay Research

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African Americans Portrayl On Television Essay, Research Paper Ever since the invention of the television in 1939, African Americans have been portrayed as maids, servants or clowns. These negative perceptions started to appear in sitcoms such as in Amos and Andy, who were the stereotypical blacks who never took anything seriously. All those views changed during the 1970?s when black sitcoms were becoming more reality based. Although blacks have been, and often still, portrayed in a negative way on TV, there has been some improvements of stereotypical images of African Americans on television. There were five stereotypical roles of blacks between 1940-1970, they included, the Tom, Coon, Mammy, Tragic Mulatto, and the Buck (Gray ?Recognizing?). The ?Tom? was always insulted,

but kept to his faith and remained generous and kind. The ?coon? (most used image) was always lazy, unreliable and constantly butchered his speech. The ?mammy? was more distinguished than the coon only because of her sex. She was usually big and plump and full of life. The ?tragic mulatto? was fair-skinned, trying to pass for white. They were well liked and believed that their lives could have been enhanced if they were not born biracial. The last stereotype was the ?buck?. He was the big, oversexed black man (Gray ?Recognizing?). In the late 1960?s, there were shows like ?I Spy? and ?The Flip Wilson Show? which had blacks starring in them. Starting in 1971, shows were premiering everywhere with black casts (Crenshaw ?Cosby Show?). Sanford and Son appeared on NBC on January

14,1972, to replace another show (Booth 2). The show took place in South Central California, where Fred Sanford and his son Lamont lived and owned a junkyard. Fred was satisfied with his little business. However, Lamont, wanted something bigger and better. Fred would do any and everything in his power to keep his son from abandoning him and the business. Every time Lamont threatened to leave, Fred would do his famous act and fake a heart attack and start moaning to his late wife, “I’m coming, Elizabeth, I’m coming.” Lamont, never fooled by his father’s scheme loved him and, despite his future aspirations and what he said about his future, really would not have left him (?Network and Cable?). They were rated the 6th most popular show during the 1971-72 season, and 10th

during the 1976-77 season (?20 Most?). The stereotypes were still there, but realistic views were appearing on the show of realistic lives of black men. After Sanford and Son aired, many others followed. Good Times appeared in 1974 (Ingram ?Good times?). Florida and James Evans were lower middle-class blacks, with their three children in a high-rise located in the ghetto on the south side of Chicago. J.J., an amateur painter, was the oldest, Thelma was a year younger than he, and Michael was five years younger than she. James, who was always in and out of jobs, made their lives difficult at times, but there was always plenty of love in the family. The famous catch phrase from J.J ,”Dy-No-Mite” became very popular in the mid 1970s (Ingram 69). During its first season, Good

Times was the 17th most popular show (?20 Most?). Many black families related to the characters. Each character complemented the other and you saw for the first time how black families showed their love. Moreover, this was the first black show that had controversial issues such as gun control, murder, and drug use, and abortion (?Network and Cable?). These were topics previously unexplored on television. Good times were one of the most original shows on television in its time. The Jefferson?s were seen often on ?All in the Family? from 1972-1975 (?Network and Cable?). The Jefferson?s was an extremely popular TV show during the 70s and 80s. It focused on a black family making it to the top in New York City. George Jefferson was a successful dry-cleaner, who owned and operated