Part A: Analysing images
When you stereotype people, you describe them in a simplified way, usually by referring to just one or two main characteristics. 'Dumb blonde' is a common example of a stereotype. People can be stereotyped because of how they look, their personality, race or religion. Stereotypes can be either positive or negative, but they always reduce people to just one dimension rather than recognising the many characteristics that make them an individual. Stereotypes are not fair and can limit relationships between Australians.
Many characters in television programs are based on stereotypes. A typical drama or soap opera will have a 'beauty', a 'rebel', a 'victim', a 'rogue' and a 'carer' amongst its characters.
Consider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander characters in films or television. One way in which they are stereotyped is that they are often portrayed as living in remote areas of Australia. Look at the graph below to see why this portrayal might be simplified and misleading.
Place of residence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
This graph is based on Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006 data.
In what other ways do you think Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are stereotyped in films and television?
Watch the following video where Baressa shares her perspectives about the way Aboriginal characters are portrayed in films and on television.
While Baressa is pleased with the way that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been portrayed in some films, it is worth exploring specific examples to see how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be represented. Your task is to analyse some promotional shots from recent films and television. These images are carefully constructed to communicate meaning to the viewer. Some things to consider when looking at the images are:
Framing: Is the image framed as a close up or wide shot? What impact does this have?
Perspective: What angle is the shot taken from? How does this impact on the way you relate to the people in the image?
Focus: What is the focus of the image? What influence does this have?
Positioning and gaze: How are the people standing? Where are they looking? What message does this send?