Study: American Television Fails to Reflect Population

A new study commissioned by the Screen Actors Guild charges that American prime-time and daytime television dramas significantly under-represent women, Latinos, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, senior citizens, the poor, and the disabled.

“Casting the American Scene” was the title of the report, conducted by Temple University telecommunications professor George Gerbner. In it, Gerbner noted that women over the age of 40 rarely appear on television dramas, and that older women “are likely to be more evil. The aging-women category is where the witches come from.”

In a surprising finding, Gerber noted that African-American males were actually over-represented in the dramas, as compared to their numbers in the U.S. population, and that they were frequently portrayed as wealth, prosperous individuals. Gerber noted that these characterizations “hid[e] the reality of African-American life, in which African-American males have a relatively higher proportion of unemployment and a relatively higher proportion of poverty.”

The report has been given to the major television networks of NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX.


New York Daily News - December 22, 1998

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