Affect and Representation in the Media

In the Gates reading, he talks a lot about African American representation in the media, more specifically representation in reality television shows. The first example Gates uses is the tv show The Real Housewives of Atlanta to highlight representation of African Americans in the media and the response to the show. Gates states; “As the first primarily nonwhite offering in the Housewives franchise, the show presented race as a significant character from the outset. In the premiere episode, the words African American or Black are mentioned no less than three times in the first thirty seconds, all before the opening credits.” Many people had a negative response to this, commenting on the women’s feminity, speech patterns, and mannerisms, all things that made them “different” from the previous housewives in the franchise. Connecting this with the Keywords reading, affect plays a large roll in how people viewed this representation because it placed the body as a form of media, interpreting signs and communication and basing judgments off of externalized actions and body language.

In my video I use two clips, the first is the introduction of Real Housewives of Atlanta Season 7, I chose this to accentuate what Gates was saying when he talked about how the women are represented. I decided to keep the audio for this clip because firstly, the normal theme song to the franchise has a drum beat added, giving it a very intentional Hip-Hop flare, and secondly, because noting the words and body language of the women is extremely important when looking for what type of characteristics the show is looking to emphasize about these women. The quote I chose also goes with this clip, it is a comment about the show, “‘This show needs subtitles. I don’t think anyone speaks English. Must get out my Detroit Ghetto Translation Guide. Holy shit, what a mess of ugly, gross bimbos.'” This quote accentuates how the women in the show were perceived negatively because they were “different” and portrayed differently than the other versions of the show with predominately white characters.

The second clip I chose was from The Bachelorette because when reading this article I couldn’t help think of Rachel Lindsay, the first black Bachelorette, and how she consistently talked about the pressure that having this title came with. She felt the pressure because she knows how important it is for black females to be authentically represented in the media. This clip specifically is her getting emotional about the pressure she was feeling from herself, and the outside world. The image that I chose also relates to this same season of The Bachelorette, it is an image of a tweet someone saying their roommate jokingly mistook the show for Love and Hip Hop because of Rachels race, this emphasizes Gates point about how African Americans are viewed and represented in media.