Audience Perception of the Stereotypical Black Image on Television.
In the introduction to the section on understanding social control in Race, Class, and Gender in the United States, Paula Rothenberg states "The most effective forms of social control are always invisible"(507). One of the most prevalent forms of invisible social control the creation and perpetuation of stereotypes. Studies have shown that stereotypes can become so ingrained in the minds of those exposed to them that the target of the stereotype might not only believe the mythological image, but also inadvertently act out the image they are expected to play (Snyder). In addition, those who subscribe to the stereotypical images of others will "notice and remember the ways in which that person seems to fit the stereotype, while resisting evidence that contradicts the stereotype"(Snyder 514). Stereotypes control by creating false images that work to maintain the status quo and keep those who hold power in their positions of power.
For stereotypes to be an effective method of social control, they must be created, dispersed and perpetuated. Though the process of using stereotypes as social control is invisible, as Rothenberg declares, the distribution of those images is anything but invisible. The average American watches between 30-31 hours of television per week (World Book). That constitutes the number of hours for a full-time job. This statistic illustrates that television is an incredibly powerful medium for dispersing information, entertainment, and misinformation: "negative images of African-Americans propagandize misinformation about African-Americans"(Cosby 137). .
Misinformation about disadvantaged groups in America has historically found plenty of airtime on television: "television brings to an otherwise heterogeneous audience a single set of values and social descriptions produced to the specifications of the owners of the broadcast industry and their advertising sponsors"(Matabane 21).