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SXSW Interactive 2015

Screens&stereotypes: How socialTV amplifies images

Stereotypes of women of color are leaping from TV screens to smartphone and tablet screens with the help of networks. Reality shows that feature women of color rely on ancient and ugly stereotypes to draw audiences. SocialTV amplifies those images and networks are powerful socialTV influencers that use those images to promote TV shows. SocialTV challenges networks to go beyond typical marketing strategies to push shows. Networks such as Vh1 use social constructions of race and gender to promote shows such as Love & Hip Hop using tag lines such as: Empire State and booty shakes. Vh1 even rewards viewers for creating outrageous memes, most often racist and sexist ones, by featuring them on the network’s website. African-Americans are major social TV players. They watch TV two hours more than the national average and use Twitter more than other Americans, but TV images of blacks remain flat and stereotypical. SocialTV is recycling those images on new platforms and among new audiences.

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  1. How are networks playing on racial and gendered stereotypes to promote television shows on social media, and how are networks rewarding fans of the shows who create demeaning memes of women of color featured on television shows?
  2. What role do photo and video social networks play in the role of transferring stereotypes of women of color from the television screen to the second screen?
  3. How have network-generated images and audiences' reactions to those images impacted show ratings, engagement and sentiment?
  4. How does the practice of using social media while watching television promote stereotypical images of women of color in pop culture?
  5. Why do television shows with black casts and themes dominate social media when they are broadcast and what does that dominance mean?



Sherri Williams, PhD candidate/media researcher, Syracuse University

Meta Information:

  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Dual
  • Track: Diversity and Emerging Markets
  • Level: Advanced
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