This is the third post in a series based on Professor Valerie Adams-Bass‘ UVA class, “Media Socialization, Racial Stereotypes And Black Adolescent Identity.”
Introduction by Valerie Adams-Bass, Ph.D.
TV talks. The characters we view on television shows and in movies speak to us through the written scripts and through the physical bodies of the characters. Media socialization—the exposure to mass communication (television, radio, internet, newspapers) messages, which teach people socially accepted behaviors that have: (a) a direct influence on cognitive ability and behavioral functioning, and (b) a mediating or facilitative indirect influence on learning (Adams & Stevenson, 2012), has been identified as a notable factor during adolescence. Arnett, 1995; Lloyd, 2002; Strasburger, Wilson & Jordan, 2014). Students in EDHS 3100, , are learning about the scripts that are associated with black media images and discussing the impact on African-American adolescents. Their blog entries reflect an understanding of the scripts viewed in television sitcoms, drama, reality shows, or movies and the potential impact of exposure to theses media images on viewers.
For this reaction paper, I chose to watch Boyz n the Hood. The film takes place in South Central Los Angeles, where a group of young friends navigate life within the gang culture that surrounds them. 10-year-old Tre Styles gets sent to live with his father, and viewers are exposed to the stark contrast in Tre’s life with his present and active father and his friends Ricky and Doughboy, half brothers living with their single mother. Throughout the film, Tre’s father Furious serves as a voice of reason, always lending a listening ear, sternly disciplining, and fiercely loving his only son. Doughboy, who from a young age begins stealing, spends time in and out of jail, and by 17 has joined a gang. Ricky becomes his high school’s number one running back and is easily his mother’s favorite child. Despite having a child out of wedlock with his live-in girlfriend, Ricky is presented as a responsible and noble young man, unlike his excessively violent and angry brother.