By: Lacey Worsham
As I was reading Chapter 6 in the Sitcom Reader about the 1960s Magicoms, I found the explanation of McLuhan’s theory of the relationship between egotism and media extremely interesting. This Narcissus theory insists that because we, as humans, are intrigued and obsessed with our own reflection, that we use media to extend this reflection. As a result, media becomes a part of our senses and we do not observe it as an external intrusion, but rather as familiar ideas and beliefs. This is dangerous, because it means we do not take the time to process ideas or beliefs that could be wrong or harmful to us. We readily accept them instead of exposing racist or sexist statements or opinions for what they truly are.
I began to wonder in which shows are we doing this exact same thing today. Where are we being complacent? As I thought about the shows often discussed in class or the sitcoms I keep up with, I realized viewers everywhere practice this complacency. The perpetuation of racist stereotypes appears in many shows, including Glee. The Asian character is super smart (but only wants to sing and dance of course!) and the black character is a large girl with an even larger voice and personality. Friends and Sex in the City consist of all white casts in a bubble where they do not have to interact with anyone that looks different than they do. These stereotypes also occur in other shows pertaining to women and the way they are treated by themselves and other men. How I Met Your Mother demonstrates Barney’s continuous mistreatment of women, but because it is hilarious, we often bypass its underlying meaning. 2 Broke Girls make fun of themselves using crude sexual humor. Amy and Penny in the Big Bang Theory are one-dimensional characters: the stupid, pretty one and the smart, ugly one. Sex and the City also revolves around four girls and their relationships with men. Their careers and real lives sit far away in the backseat while they are mostly defined by who they are dating or hooking up with at the time.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love almost every single one of the shows I just mentioned. But I do think it is important to realize that the shows we know and love can be sneaking into our subconscious with wrong ideas that we are not taking the time to consider or process. Therefore, instead of allowing these ideas to enter our minds and stay there, we should be careful to process what we are watching and decide
whether or not we agree with the statement or claim being made.