Saturday, January 23, 2010
The main assumption is that, because of Barack Obama’s candidacy for a president and his success during the last months prior US elections, newspapers would maybe find discussions on affirmative action and racial injustice not that necessary.
The findings can also reveal the opposite assumption, namely that the success of Barack Obama in the pre-election months, contributed to an increase in discussions on affirmative action and racial injustice in the American press.
Main theoretical considerations for this assignment are that the candidacy for a president of an African-American man provides an explicit example of racial progress, which on its own could bring about a decreased concern for issues of racial injustice. Even though this candidacy implies racial progress, people shall also be reminded that often exceptions to the rule are merely used for reinforcing that same long-existent rule, more specifically that an African-American running for a president could be a sign of racial progress but it could also be a reinforcement of racial injustice by implying that after such personal achievement, it is no longer relevant to discuss racial inequality and discrimination. The results could be important for revealing what the journalists’ practices were and if there is a need for a change.
The materials which have been used are articles from the two leading newspapers in the USA, namely the New York Times and the USA Today, where these articles were published a few months before the US presidential elections, namely in August, September, October and November 2008.
As for the two sources, the USA today is a daily broadsheet, said to be the most widely-read newspaper in the United States with a readership of 4.3 million readers, and also known for synthesizing news down to easy-to-read-and-comprehend stories.
The New York Times is also a daily broadsheet, which is said to avoid sensationalism in order to appeal to cultured, intellectual readers. Having in mind that both newspapers are quality daily broadsheets, the sources which have been used do not seem to be much different from each other, which is a good for the validity of the results.
In order to find out whether discussions on race and affirmative action have increased or decreased in American newspapers with the approaching of the election of the new president of the USA, we will use the AmCAT software and would use the keywords “affirmative” and “racis*”.
Initially, the words which were used were “affirmative”, “action” and “race” but the use of these words turned out to be problematic for the software, since any time the word “action” was used in an article it was presented as a result, although it had nothing to do with affirmative action. Another problem with the initial search was that “race” was not a good keyword, since “race” can have a number of meanings, ranging from any contest or competition (especially prominent word during elections and election campaigns), to a group of persons related by common descent or heredity.
Thus, the decision which was made was to include “affirmative” as a main keyword, due to the fact that almost always when newspapers/journalists use this word, it is used in relation to “action” and it refers to affirmative action (see Appendix 1). The second keyword which was used was “racis*”, which would mean that the words which have been counted in the articles are the words “racism” and “racist”, thus excluding words such as race, racing etc. The name of Barack Obama was not included in the word-search, since his election as a president is more important for marking a certain time period for this type of research question. After all, the main focus is on whether there is a change in discussing/mentioning affirmative action and racial injustice with the approaching of the presidential elections and not really the connections/associations between these words and the president himself.
The results of this research showed that with the approach of the US presidential elections, especially in the months of October and November, and after the US presidential election on 4 Nov 2008, newspapers mentioned/discussed racism and affirmative action less often, when compared to the month of August for example.
2008-8 14 21
2008-9 5 12
2008-10 3 26
2008-11 1 9
Count 23 68
Interesting is also the fact that, while for affirmative action the decrease over time is stable, for “racism” and “racist” this is not the case. A more detailed qualitative look at the 26 articles which include keywords “racis*” from the month of October clarifies the fact that during the month prior to the US elections both newspapers have published articles in which they’ve discussed the potential impact of racist sentiments among Americans for their electoral choice. Later this was found to be the case for the NY Times.
When we look at the distribution of articles per medium, The New York Times refers to these two keywords in 62 articles, while the USA today refers to them in 21. These findings could be indicative of the fact that overall, The New York Times is a newspaper which pays more importance to issues of racism and affirmative action than the USA Today. We can also imply that the newspaper with the most readership in the USA mentions issues of racism and affirmative action far less often when compared with the New York Times.
Additionally, while the trend of mentioning/discussing affirmative action and racism stably decreases throughout the months prior to the US elections in the USA Today newspaper, this is not the case of the NY Times, especially for the month of September.
From the findings now, it is clear that the overall trend in news reporting is that with the approaching success of Barack Obama in the presidential election, journalists found it less important to mention/discuss racism and affirmative action, maybe due to the racial progress which Obama’s successful candidacy implied. This decreasing trend can be better seen for issues of affirmative action and mainly for the USA today.
Introduction and Problem Statement
Roma, also known as gypsies, are one of the biggest and most quintessential minority groups in
According to the results of surveys on attitudes, stereotypes, prejudices and social distance toward ethnic and religious minorities in all the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Roma are the most rejected of all minority groups (Csepeli, 2004). A number of social, political and historical studies of Roma communities in different European countries explain the continual marginal status of the Roma as resulting from different factors such as the changes of political regimes and state policies in Eastern Europe (Gounev, 2006, Cooper, 2001/2002; Spirova, 2000; Marushiakova, 1997; Stewart, 1997), the negative social attitudes of majorities towards Roma (Csepeli, 2004), the differences in culture, customs, values behaviour, and appearance (Barany, 2002), the Romas’ own cultivation of their marginal status (Barany, 2002), their poor economic conditions and overcriminalization (Gounev, 2006), and the influence of the media in establishing and further enhancing the negative stereotypes of Roma (Pamporov, 2007).
Strangely enough, the media is not much recognized as an influential factor for the marginalization of Roma. Researches on the different media are few, most of them done by the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and focused on the local press in different Central and Eastern European countries (Bernáth & Messing, 1999; Fenyvesi, 1999; Galjus, 1999; Hanganu, 1999; Klimkiewicz, 1999, Russinov, 1999; Rougheri, 1999).
The local focus which the ERRC has in its researches has recently been criticized by some authors who state that the Center downplays instances of marginalization of Roma in Western societies, thus creating “the misperception that Roma marginalization is an issue emerging out of the problems of post-socialist liberal development” (Atanasoski, 2009).
Although the media encompasses many different forms of distributions of news and entertainment, most media researches on Roma are focused on the print press, widely neglecting media forms such as movies, soap operas, and series. This is a big shortcoming in the research on Roma, since popular culture is meaningful in shaping how we view ourselves and those around us (Croteau & Hoynes, 2000).
Although, much of the research on popular culture recognizes the influence of the West, the ERRC has not yet recognized the need to research how the West represents the Roma minority group. An understanding of the frames used for Roma in the Western media, especially in Western popular culture, is essential because this could provide us with clues about social cognition and behavior towards Gypsies (McCullick et al., 2003).
Last but not least, although
Research on Roma still lacks a decisive answer to many important questions. For example, how are Gypsies represented in Western popular culture? Can we develop a theoretical model for current Roma representations in Western popular culture? Are there changes in Roma representations during different time periods? Are there differences in the representation of Roma based on movie type and movie genre? Which sections of the Gypsy population are being represented in
Although the answers to these questions would provide us with important information, too little is known about how media entertainment represents the Roma minority group. The time is right, therefore, to develop a comprehensive stance and to inform the academic and the public debate. The goal of this research project is to initiate and develop a pattern of producing research on the representations of Roma in Western popular culture, as well as to develop a comprehensive theoretical model for the representations of Gypsies in the media.
Aims, Innovativeness and Importance of the Project
The aims of this proposal is to fill the gaps in previous research on Roma representations in the media by establishing two new foci – focus on the Western media, and a focus on popular culture, where popular culture is identified and influenced by images in Hollywood movies, series and soap operas.
My project is the first one to propose an investigation of Western representations of Gypsies in popular culture, something which, in my opinion, the ERRC needs, especially after the critiques which the Center has received, concerning the lack of focus on the marginalization of Gypsies in the West. On its own terms, this project will also be the first one to conduct research on Roma representations in a different form of media by distancing from newspaper coverage on Roma in Eastern and Central Europe and focusing on
Therefore, the goal of this project is three-fold: (a) to discover the representations of Roma in Hollywood productions (b) to look for patterns of different Roma representations based on year of production of movies and series, type of production, genre of production, production ranking (c) to develop a theoretical model of current Roma representations in popular Western movies.
Methods and Approach
In order to identify the Hollywood movies, series and soap operas which represent the Roma minority group, the materials/movies will be chosen by using the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), an online collection of international movie information, reviews and audience comments that claims to attract over 25 million site visitors a month (van Zoonen, 2007). The IMDb is considered the biggest movie database which deals with the filmographies for over 2.3 million people and over 931,000 titles as it has also been successfully used in previous academic researches (McCullick et al., 2003; Zuckerman et al., 2003; Gunasekera et al., 2005; Dodds, 2006; Sood & Dreze, 2006; van Zoonen, 2007). Since the 1990s, the web-based capabilities of the IMDb have improved, as it was expanded to include new features such as votes awarded to individual films (out of 10), updates on movie releases and film gossip as well as extracted quotations from films which identify the main plots, actors and stories in a movie.
The identification of the movie materials for this project will be done via the quotation search function of the IMDb, where the keywords used for the search will be “gypsy” and “Roma” (the movie-search with keyword “Roma” requires a second detailed manual selection of relevant movies from these search results, since the key-word has a number of meanings). After the movies have been identified, they will be viewed on tapes and analyzed.
It is important that the analysis of the movies happens within and between the authentic sources (the movies themselves) (Scott, 1990), so that the validity of the research is enhanced. If the identified quotations are the only data used for the analysis, this could seriously hinder adequate assessment of the quotation meanings, since the quotations are given out of context, without a reference to the images and the settings which accompany them. Therefore, the quotation search will be only used for the identification of films which represent the Roma.
The time period for the movie analysis will encompass the years from 1990 till 2010. There is a practical reason for this choice, namely the restricted availability of older movie productions in which Roma are represented/ referred to (e.g. “Room Service”(1938); “The House of Frankenstein”(1944); “The Loves of Carmen” (1948)). It is quite difficult to get hold of tapes of such old movies. However, the time period is not a hindrance for the project, since the main goal is to analyze movies that are relevant to the current attitudes towards Roma. It is rather logical to appoint the past two decades as the time period of the movie analysis.
Lastly, IMDb is by far not an all-encompassing movie database that includes all the movies and television series which refer to the Roma minority group. This might cause the exclusion of some movies representing Roma, especially if the reference to Roma is too vague on the database or if the part on gypsies in the movie is too small to be listed. Apart from this recognized shortcoming, the IMDb is still remains the most complete movie database which can be used for identifying relevant data.
After the data is collected, I will view the tapes of the movies independently while taking notes on the conversations and camera shots involving Roma. The notes will be later used for establishing and constructing themes regarding the representation of the Roma minority group in the movies and will later aid the development of a theoretical model for the representation of Roma in Western popular culture.
The main approach to the analysis will be qualitative. This approach allows that relevant meaning emerges from the data. The main tool for the identification of the themes and the categories of Roma representation will be ethnographic content analysis, a method proposed by Altheide (1996). This method is a media studies variation of another widely-used research method proposed by Glaser and Strauss (1967) – the constant comparative method (CCM) and its aim is to be systematic and analytic, but not rigid (McCullick et al., 2003). The method will aid the assessment and grouping of categories and themes of Roma representation, by constantly comparing the information within and between different movies. A system of classification will be developed by comparing notes and when certain commonalities are discovered in the data, they will be used for the development of a theoretical model for Roma representation (McCullick et al.,2003).
What is more, after the main themes and categories have been identified the analysis will proceed quantitatively. Thus, data such as the names of the movies/series, the year of release, the movie genre (fantasy, action, crime etc.), the movie type (being either movie or series) and the user ratings will be also recorded for each movie (Sood & Dreze, 2006). This data can be later used to questions of whether there are changes of Roma representations dependent on the different movie characteristics. The quantitative data model will also keep track on characters, namely which character is talking in the sections in which Roma are present, the character’s gender and ethnicity and whether the main representations of Roma have something to do with who is talking (Appendix 1).
In order to illustrate the proposed project, the following section presents two preliminary small scale studies based on the topic (a qualitative and a quantitative one).
Preliminary Small-scale Qualitative Study
The small-scale research on Roma in popular
The names of the movies/series, the year of release, the movie genre, user ratings, speaking characters, and their gender and ethnicity were also recorded (Sood & Dreze, 2006). This data was collected for the quantitative analysis on the topic.
While the qualitative case study aimed at answering the question of how are Roma represented in Western popular culture, the quantitative case study aims to answer questions such as: Are Roma representations dependent on some of the characteristics of the
Provisional Small Scale Qualitative Study
The quotations data which was collected was qualitatively analyzed by implementing Glaser and Strauss’s (1967) constant comparative method (CCM). In order to avoid the problem of analyzing quotations out of movie context, I read in advance the plots of the movies, their synopses and character descriptions (all of these are options are provided by the IMDb). The comparisons of the data happened on three levels:
- Comparison of quotes within one movie/series (open coding)
- Comparison of quotes within the same group (quotes from movies/series which were attributed to the same/similar categories or codes) (axial coding)
- Comparison of quotes within different groups
During the open coding, the line-by-line reading of the data yielded 133 codes in total. I arranged the array of codes into families, developing five provisional categories of Gypsy representation, namely (1) Gypsy and love, (2) Gypsy and the supernatural, (3) Gypsy and materialism, (4) Gypsy and music, (5) personal characteristics of Gypsies (see Appendix 2). During the second step (axial coding), a shift was made towards better description of the categories and thus defining the concepts which were involved in them. The aim of the comparison in this step was to find the concepts that were involved in the main categories and to identify the properties of these categories. The last step involved a comparison between the quotes from the different categories and the identification of potential patterns/relationships among them.
Some of the tentative results from this study revealed that there are five repetitive themes which occur in the representation of Roma in
Gypsy and Love
The “love theme” represents Gypsy women as promiscuous and seductive, often making non-Gypsy men fall in love with them and then leaving. This theme was also associated with the “supernatural”, and “personal characteristics” themes, since in a number of different movie quotations, gypsy women are portrayed as making men fall in love with them by using magic and then leaving those men, because of their personal characteristics and their inability to settle down (also related to claims of the nomadic nature of gypsies).
A quotation which represents some these claims is:
Gypsy and the Supernatural
The supernatural theme has been identified as one of the main themes in the representation of Roma in
Floretta the Gypsy: [about Barnaby while beating and bending his hand] Now this is the palm of a cad. A sly reprobate and a mean one. Corrupt and malicious. Conniving and vicious! A scoundrel if ever I've seen one.Babes in Toyland (1961)
The Spleen: So glad you asked. Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me. Well, it all started when I was just 13 years of age. One day, while walking with some friends, I accidentally cut the cheese. Well, in my adolescent awkwardness, I blamed it on an old gypsy woman who happened to be passing by. BIG MISTAKE! The gypsy woman placed a curse upon my head. Because I smelled it, she decreed I would forevermore BE HE WHO DEALT IT! Mystery Men (1999)
Gypsy and Materialism
The “materialism” theme represents gypsies in a number of categories. Apart from “materialism” being related to the “supernatural” theme and fortunetelling, materialism is also seen in the representation of Roma as robbers, kidnappers, and baby traders. The “materialism” theme is also related to the “personal characteristics” of Roma, namely that they are inclined to cheat and commit different types of crimes. What is unclear from this preliminary analysis, however, is that there are a few contradictions in this “theme” – on the one hand Roma are represented as having a great interest in money, while on the other, they are represented as extremely poor and uninterested in making money. A more detailed analysis is needed in order to find out the reasons for this contradiction.
Gypsy and Music
This theme represents Roma in close relation to music mainly due to a number of quotations of three biographic movies about a famous stripper, called Gypsy Rose Lee. The name of the stripper is also referred to in a few other non-biographic movies. What is more, this theme is also very closely related to gypsy promiscuity and the “love” theme.
Gypsies and Personal Characteristics
The “personal characteristics” theme is one of the least developed themes in this study, since it encompasses a number of various categories. Although the categories in this theme are very important for the representation of Roma in
Interesting to note are also other contradictions in the personal characteristics of Roma. It is unclear whether Gypsies bring about good luck or bad luck as well as whether Gypsies are honoured or ashamed of their origin. These two examples need to be better looked at, as well as the context in which they were used, in order to explain the contradiction.
Important to note, these findings are just provisional and not necessarily valid. The validity of the study will be later enhanced when the movies are analyzed in their entirety and the quotations are used in their original contexts. A suggestion for the future results is to better conceptualize and specify some of the categories/theme. This is especially true for the “personal characteristics” theme and the “music” theme. What is more, some of the contradictions which the data produced need to be better looked at and better explained. Important to note is that the time period was not restricted for this study which means that some of the representations could be no more relevant for the current representations of gypsies. Additional shortcoming is that the “Roma” key-word was not used for the identification of movie quotations therefore it is plausible that many movies are not yet included in the sample. Lastly, the findings of this study are still not good enough to be able to develop a theoretical model. These are still the goals of the actual project proposal.
Constant Comparative Method (CCM)
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Gypsies and love
Gypsy women making men falling in love with them
Dr. Gustav Niemann: No! You think I'd wreck the work of a lifetime because you're in love with a, a Gypsy girl?
Ramona: Look at him; Patrick Harper, my husband. Making a fool of himself, over a gypsy girl! You know what I'd like to do to her?
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Gypsies and promiscuity
-kissing a Gypsy
-no able of real love
-stripper image of
Gypsy Rose Lee
Gypsy Smith: I'm not the marrying kind
Children of the Dust (1995)
Frollo: You idiot! That wasn't kindness! It was cunning! She's a Gypsy! Gypsies are not capable of real love! Think, boy! Think of your MOTHER!
Angelus: Hey, open book. Anything you want to know. How sweet that virgin gypsy tasted? Special smell of a newborn's neck? My first nun. Now *that's* a great story.
Louise "Gypsy Rose Lee" Hovick: My sister's the actress, mother. And I'm *not* a cheap stripper. I'm the highest-paid in the business.
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Gypsy women fighting for men
Bride: Who did he marry, huh? Me! Not you, Gypsy garbage! Nobody would!
The Loves of Carmen (1948)
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Gypsies and the supernatural
Gypsies and fortunetelling (also witchcraft; prayers; magic)
Gypsy: [narrating] I am laying out three cards, Hungarian fashion, representing Pauline's past. The Empress, eternal symbol of the female and fertility. The Emperor, symbol of fraternity and masculinity. And, the Devil, symbol of the domination of matter over spirit, of revolution and incest. But I knew this would read so. I know Pauline. She has her grandmother's soul.
Johnny: This gypsy fortune-teller that's parked across the river. I hear that everybody who takes her advice is hitting it rich.
Floretta the Gypsy: [about Barnaby while beating and bending his hand] Now this is the palm of a cad. A sly reprobate and a mean one. Corrupt and malicious. Conniving and vicious! A scoundrel if ever I've seen one.
Acid Queen: Gather your wits and hold on fast, Your mind must learn to roam. Just as the Gypsy Queen must do, You're gonna hit the road! My work is done, now look at him. He's never been more alive. His head it shakes, his fingers clutch. Watch his body writhe! I'm the Gypsy, the Acid Queen, Pay me before I start. I'm the Gypsy, I'm guaranteed To break your little heart.
The Spleen: So glad you asked. Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me. Well, it all started when I was just 13 years of age. One day, while walking with some friends, I accidentally cut the cheese. Well, in my adolescent awkwardness, I blamed it on an old gypsy woman who happened to be passing by. BIG MISTAKE! The gypsy woman placed a curse upon my head. Because I smelled it, she decreed I would forevermore BE HE WHO DEALT IT!
Johnny: I ran into a guy who told me about a gypsy fortune-teller. She's got a hot cup of tea leaves
Frankie and Johnny (1966)
Borat: I arrived in
Borat: Cultural Learnings of
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Gypsies and materialism
Gypsies and interest in money
-asking for pay off
Gypsy: Nothing's free at Gypsy's
"Gilmore Girls" (2000)
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Gypsies and interest in money
Writer: Alright... Alright... So there's this baby with gigantism... In the old west... Whose also the sheriff... And he knows that the mayor knows that there's gold underneath the town... And the mayor's slowly poisoning the towns people... So the baby gets a team of rogue gypsy thieves... And they track down the mayor in his castle in
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Gypsies and Music
-Gypsy love songs
(Gypsy Rose Lee/stripper)
Manny: Oh? Yet again it is up to me to rescue the performance. Gypsy, come.
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Gypsies and personal characteristics theme
Gypsies and skills
-making unreliable machines
-no social security numbers
Frollo: You idiot! That wasn't kindness! It was cunning! She's a Gypsy! Gypsies are not capable of real love! Think, boy! Think of your MOTHER!
Joel: Ok Gypsy, what's one plus one?
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Gypsies and their nature
-nomadic (unable to settle down)
Dancaire: [about José and Carmen getting married] You will be a fine pair, you two. Payo and Gypsy, the tame and the untamed, the dog and wolf. Dog and wolf weren't created to live together. It won't work, Navarrés. You'll see.
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Gypsies and their lifestyle
Holly Hamilton: Can you believe it? The Teenage Gypsy has finally settled down. Now I don't just have a home page. I have a home.
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Gypsies and contradictions
-bringing bad luck
-bringing good luck
-ashamed to be Gypsy
-honoured to be Gypsy
Loretta Castorini: Oh, yes, you did! Oh, yes, you did! Y'know, you got them bad eyes, like a gypsy, and I don't know why I didn't see it yesterday. Bad luck! That's what it is. Is that all I'm ever gonna have? I should have taken a rock and killed myself years ago!
Daisy: [a gypsy is at Daisy and Onslow's front door] It's bad luck not to buy something from a gypsy!
Kim: Yes, I suppose i got... yes, 10p, here you go [hands over ten pence and puts on her gypsy voice] Now you come with me, and you will be lucky!
"No 73" (1982)
Sylvester: If you don't tell anybody I'm not a gypsy, I won't tell anybody you're not an idiot.
Gypsy Leader: [considers for a moment] On my honor as a gypsy, whatever you can carry
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Gypsies and their origin (mentioned)
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