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Stereotype and the Ethics of Representation

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Both terms from printing that refer to techniques that ... Iconic metonymy reducing the information from an observed representation into a caricature. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Stereotype and the Ethics of Representation


1
Stereotype and the Ethics of Representation
  • David Steiling
  • Ringling School of Art

2
Stereotype and Cliché
  • Both terms from printing that refer to techniques
    that facilitate the speed and lower the cost of
    production through the use of pre-set images or
    phrases.

3
Comics and Stereotype
  • the stereotype is a fact of life in the comics
    medium. It is an accursed necessitya tool of
    communication that is an inescapable ingredient
    in most cartoons
  • Will EisnerGraphic Storytelling

4
  • In comics, stereotypes are drawn from commonly
    accepted physical characteristics associated with
    an occupation. These become icons and are used as
    part of the language in graphic storytelling. In
    film, there is plenty of time to develop a
    characterIn comics there is little time or
    space. The image or caricature must settle the
    matter instantly.

5
Stereotypes
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Good and Bad Stereotypes
  • For Eisner the question is not whether one should
    use stereotypes but rather how to distinguish
    between good and bad stereotypes.

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Stereotypes
  • Are not metonymies like most icons but are
    representations of idealized character types that
    are not based on observation, but on previous
    representations, which themselves were often
    based on previous representations. These chains
    of representation are often not refreshed with
    new observation. Over time these stereotypes tend
    to become widely accepted standards of reference.

10
African-American Images in the Comics A Case
Study
  • Frederick Strömberg in his book Black Images in
    the Comics provides numerous examples that
    illustrate how stereotype is actually used in the
    comics.

11
Seven Black Stereotypes
  • The Native
  • The Tom
  • The Coon
  • The Piccaninny
  • The Tragic Mulatto
  • The Mammy
  • The Buck

12
Stereotypical Images
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  • None of these stereotypes tell us anything about
    black people.
  • These stereotypes tell us a lot about white
    people.

24
  • Stereotypical representations are not really
    present in a narrative to enhance the readability
    of the narrative or to develop the characters
    they are usually present to reassure the reader
    of the safety of their opinions and prejudices,
    whether this is known by the author or not.

25
Alternative Strategies of Representation
  • Observationforming a representation based on
    actual observation, representation that reflect
    individuality instead of stereotypicality.
  • Iconic metonymyreducing the information from an
    observed representation into a caricature.
  • Retaining the same level of caricature through
    all the representations in the narrative.

26
Observation
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Iconic Caricature
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Retaining the Same Level of Caricature
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36
Some Other Considerations
  • The position of the creator in relation to the
    representations.
  • The centrality or marginality of the character in
    relation to the narrative.
  • Active vs. Passive qualities in the character
    represented.
  • Biases reflected in the visual composition and
    character poses within the images.

37
Using Other Representation Conventions
  • Funny Animal Conventions
  • Superhero Conventions
  • Manga/Animé Conventions

38
Virtual Reality Implications
  • As narrative evolves into various modes of
    interactivity and virtual reality, will schemes
    of representation discard stereotype?

39
Image and Objectification
  • Are our fantasies focused more on individuals or
    on stereotypes?
  • The more stereotypical the objects of our
    fantasies are represented, the more easily we can
    objectify them.

40
Stereotype and Intimacy
  • Intimacy requires specificity and individuality.
    One cannot be intimate with a stereotype.
  • More virtual interactivity seems to require more
    individuality of representation. The more
    individuality, the more potential for intimacy.

41
Stereotypes abet Violence
  • Violence is easiest to perpetrate on stereotypes.

42
  • Until recently, representation in interactive
    gaming was capable of little individualization,
    so there was a natural dependence on
    representation that used stereotype or simple
    iconic forms of character design. As the range
    of possible representations widen, will gaming,
    and its virtual reality successors continue to
    depend on stereotypes?

43
  • Can the writers of the next generation of virtual
    realities learn from the history of the comics.
    It is not just a question of good stereotypes
    versus bad stereotypes. The use of stereotypes
    is corrupting in itself. One of the features of
    this corruption is how the use of stereotypes
    teaches the audience to read the narrative of
    their own reality in stereotypical terms.

44
  • The case history of Black Images in the Comics
    shows how the use of stereotypes has compromised
    the work of the most important and valued artists
    in the form. What may be betrayed is the compact
    between artist and audience that any reality the
    artist presents has been observed, observed no
    matter how interior, absurd, or personally scewed.

45
  • Ethics, effectiveness, reputation and empathy are
    all compromised when artists resort to
    stereotypes. Audience is narrowed and distanced.
    Any sense of fairness or equality within the
    narrative is disturbed. The promise of virtual
    reality is to enable the transfer of dreams. Will
    we all be able to place ourselves fairly within
    those dreams? Will the dreamspace of virtual
    reality be a place of empathy or one of violent
    unconcern? Choices in representation will shape
    that space.

46
  • Itunes Site
  • http//podcasts.rsad.edu/comics
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