Is representation in the media important?

Media has the ability to shape our views in many different situations and in this day and age where we spend so much of our time viewing and interacting with the media, the representation of people, partially those considered minorities, are very important.

A study conducted in 2012 titled, ‘The Impact of Media Stereotypes on Opinions and Attitudes Towards Latinos’ set out to examine the impact of “media narratives and stereotypes of immigrants and Latinos on non-Latino opinions and attitudes towards Latinos and immigrants.” This study was very interesting and I would urge everyone to take the time to read it, however in summary after conducting a two-part, multi-method research project, one of the three major trends to emerge out of this study was the strong influence that news and entertainment media had on the perceptions of Latinos and immigrants.

Keeping that in mind lets take the example of the controversial ‘Hey Hey It’s Saturday’ blackface incident where five backup dances involved in a tribute act to the Jackson 5 appeared in blackface. Firstly, the host, Daryl Somers, apologised specifically to an American judge who was appearing on the show,

“”I think we may have offended you with that act and I deeply apologise on behalf of all of us – because I know that to your countrymen, that’s an insult to have a blackface routine like that on the show, so I do apologise to you.”


This apology completely missed the point, apologising for offending the white American judge in the room rather than anybody of colour who may have seen or heard about the show.

Julia Gillard, who was Deputy Prime Minister at the time, and somebody in the public eye, made another comment about the show. She commented saying;

Whatever happened was meant to be humorous and would be taken in that spirit by most Australians.”

However as stated by Clarke (2010), Gillard made this statement not realising that considering this act humorous was in fact the problem.

Not only are we influenced by the representations that we see through the media but we also have the ability to be influenced by those within the media and in the public eye. This needs to be taken into great consideration by not only those directly involved with the media but also the audience consuming the media.



Clarke, Maxine. (2010). ‘White Australia has a blackface history’. Overland. Accessed 7 May 2014.

Mahony, Melanie. (2009). ‘What’s all the fuss about “blackface”?’. Crikey. Accessed 7 May 2014.

ABC News, (2009). ‘Hey Hey red-faced over blackface skit.’ ABC News. Accessed 7 May 2014., (2009). ‘69% of record nationwide response to poll on Hey Hey, It’s Saturday ‘blackface’ skit says the clip was neither racist nor tasteless.’. Herald Sun. Accessed 7 May 2014.

Latino Decisions, (2012). ‘The Impact of Media Stereotypes on Opinions and Attitudes Towards Latinos’. . Accessed 7 May 2014


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