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Black Women in Reality Television Docusoaps

A New Form of Representation or Depictions as Usual?


Adria Y. Goldman and Damion Waymer

Black Women in Reality Television Docusoaps explores representations of Black women in one of the most powerful, popular forms of reality television – the docusoap. Viewers, critics, and researchers have taken issue with what they consider to be unflattering, one-dimensional representations. This book discusses images of Black women in reality television during the 2011 viewing year, when much criticism arose. These findings provide a context for a more recent examination of reality television portrayals during 2014, following many reality stars’ promises to offer new representations. The authors discuss the types of images shown, potential readings of such portrayals, and the implication of these reality television docusoap presentations. The book will be useful for courses examining topics such as popular culture; mass media and society; women’s studies; race and media; sex and gender; media studies; African American issues in mass communication; and gender, race and representation, as well as other graduate-level classes.
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Chapter 10. Why Are Viewers Calling for Boycotts?




Qualitative researchers often look for dominant themes that emerge from the analysis of data (Lucas & D’Enbeau, 2013). Using a qualitative perspective, we discussed dominant themes in the presentation of Black women in docusoaps and the various ways that viewers could interpret those presentations. Qualitative research often provides rich, thick description of the phenomenon under investigation. So when dominant themes emerge, they are revealing because of the repetition they present. In the preceding chapters, we have established that in totality, the images of Black women in reality television docusoaps are more positive than negative. Conflict was present in many instances, which has the potential to reinforce the Angry Black Woman stereotype. As mentioned earlier, this is troubling as it is an image that continues to find its way in media representations of Black women. But, many of the images found within the docusoaps were presented in a flattering light (e.g., professional women, working mothers). There are also some images that may result in multiple readings, depending on the audience. For example, the women’s sexuality could be viewed as natural expression or hypersexuality. Yet, the balance of these images and the possibility for different interpretations is steps away from a stereotypical cast of one-dimensional Black female characters. ← 111 | 112 →

In this chapter, however, we turn the tables a bit. We have already highlighted the dominant themes. We must now acknowledge some aspects of these docusoaps that were not...

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