understanding media

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Welcome to the forum for the Oxford Brookes University module U75102 Understanding Media.  The forum is currently closed.

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Author Topic: Stereotypes and Comedy  (Read 5544 times)

libra123

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Stereotypes and Comedy
« on: October 21, 2014, 05:40:03 pm »

As William James said reality is a ‘great, blooming, buzzing confusion’ and he thinks that as a society generalisation is necessary. Branston and Stafford elaborate on the subject of needing certain stereotypes in terms of comedy; they say ‘comedy also seems to depend on the exaggerations of stereotyping, understood playfully by audiences’. For example, if you watch this clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIhU3mQTp1U you can see clearly that Jimmy Fallon and Channing Tatum are clearing playing on the stereotype of teenage girls which is creating a comedy sketch. Do you think that without stereotyping comedy is still as funny?
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Mimz

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Re: Stereotypes and Comedy
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2014, 10:31:56 pm »

To answer ‘libra123's question if a comedy is still funny without stereotyping, I believe it is necessary that stereotypes appear in all types of comedies. What defines the comedy genre is that it is supposed to be a easy-watching fun drama were the characters can easily be familiarised and were it is not necessary to use a lot of our senses to understand the context. You most likely need to have some kind of stereotypes and use generalisation to define it as a comedy.
 
In the video of Jimmy Fallon and Channing Tatum the stereotypes teenage girls is extremely exaggerated and it is clearly used as a main tool which is shaping the comedy. This type of comedy can be defined as a low comedy because of it’s more physical action and vulgar jokes. The opposite is high comedy were you usually need some more insight or context to perceive the comedy as amusing. The television show ‘The Big Bang Theory’ can be seen as a high comedy because it is more expected that you should know the cultural references to understand the comedy.

William James perspective about that the reality is a ‘great, blooming, buzzing confusion’ can be interpreted that generalisations helps us to easier make sense in this complex world. I believe that the more generalisation is used in comedies, the easier it is to understand – and I do believe that it is absolutely necessary to use generalisations in comedies for it to be defined in the comedy genre.

Do you think it is necessary with generalisation in comedies?
Do you agree with William James that our complex world is easier to understand by using generalisation?
« Last Edit: October 21, 2014, 10:45:48 pm by Mimz »
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Paris95

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Re: Stereotypes and Comedy
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2014, 03:37:38 pm »

In response to Mimz's reference to The Big Bang Theory I would like to point out that that show still uses many stereotypes. For example, Penny conforms to the 'dumb blonde' stereotype, which is highlighted through the four parts to a media stereotype; appearance, behaviour, comparison to 'normal behaviour' and fitting to a particular medium.

Penny is noticeably attractive and her tops are often low-cut to highlight her chest area. Additionally her blonde hair adds to this stereotype. In terms of behaviour, Penny often says dumb things, but she appears even more dumb in comparison to all her friends as they are all scientists (hence intelligence being 'normal' within the show). Finally, Penny fits well into the medium of comedy as her dumb comments create humour for the audience.

With this in mind I would like to answer Libra123's closing question by saying no, as I do not think The Big Bang Theory would be as funny without the use of stereotypes.
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snowflake

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Re: Stereotypes and Comedy
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2014, 04:11:17 pm »

While watching a film or a TV show, we have some expectations, before even starting it. For this particular genre, which is the comedy, we expect jokes, funny comments and funny situations.  To do this, I strongly believe that stereotypes are necessary, otherwise for whom or for what the jokes are going to be about?
In response to “libra123”, the video with Channing Tatum and Jimmy Fallon is clearly stereotyping teenage girls, but I think that using it in such an exaggerating level, at the end it is just not funny anymore.
To answer “Mimz”, without the stereotyped groups in the Big Bang Theory, the TV show won’t be that funny. I think that it is very interesting that they have linked Penny and the “scientific group” of guys; they are friends just because they are neighbors. If they were not, do you think that they could have been friends? 
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leaf

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Re: Stereotypes and Comedy
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2014, 09:21:07 pm »

I agree with "Mimz", "Paris95" and "snowflake" that stereotyping are necessary to make comedy funny. As all of you have quoted, William James suggested that reality is a ‘great, blooming, buzzing confusion’, and we need generalisations as a general picture and they make us understand things easier.

But here I would like to bring some more questions into discussion. Sometimes I would wonder, where is the line between using these stereotypes just "for fun" and actually offending some groups of people? It is true that we need stereotypes in comedies to act as common grounds , in order for us to understand what are so funny about them. But do these stereotyping in comedies actually reinforcing our stereotypes? Some studies found out that children would be shaped by stereotypes around them, for example, they would pick up and learn the stereotypes held by their parents (Tenenbaum & Leaper, 2002). For example, if a child watch some comedies making jokes about coloured people, will he or she develop some stereotypes against them, and even lead to some discriminations?

What do other people think? How can we define the line between using these stereotypes just for comedies and offending other people? If we, especially children, watch comedies with stereotyping too often, will we absorb and adopt the stereotypes subconsciously?
« Last Edit: October 26, 2014, 09:47:07 pm by leaf »
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25031996

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Re: Stereotypes and Comedy
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2014, 12:54:47 pm »

Stereotypes have always been used in comedies, theatres, or even sketches.
Of course I think that it gives a funny touch, because using or putting forward the most obvious characteristics of a group of people excessivly could be ridiculous.
But the humor based on stereotypes could be offencive for certain people. Gay people for example must be tired to always see themselves represented as the good and funny friend for girls, over reacting and always instead of laughing loudly. It is not a subtil humor and people must be carefull about using stereotypes, and should not go too far.
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