I found the Hart’s reading about representing gay men on American television extremely insightful, and I feel like a lot of his opinions also talk to other underrepresented or misrepresented minority groups as well.
The concept of the four stages of media representation – nonrecognition, ridicule, regulation, respect (Clark, 1969) - is a very important for us to understand how an non-represented groups gradually blend into the mainstream images of mass media and own the right images. However, a lot of underrepresented groups have not come into the “respect” stage yet, and it will be a long journey to reach it. Even today, homosexuality is still typically associated with AIDS and other sexual diseases, which is definitely a misrepresentation formed with the aid of mass media. Just as Media is such a strong force which can shape the public view. It almost has an ideological effect, and it is controlled by the powerful few to manipulate the masses. Because more than often, I feel like some groups are misrepresented on purpose. They are misrepresented not because of the ignorance of the producers, but because of the profit-driven mentality of the stakeholders. Think about this, if every gay man on television shows appears to be just like everybody else, there would be less stimuli to audience’s curiosity thus less viewing rate. This also reminds me of some other untruthful stereotypical perceptions that formed by media to exploit audiences, for example, Asian women being sexually submissive.
Today, as networked media develops at an amazing speed and scope, I can’t help wondering: how would the new media alter the path of the four stages of media presentation? And how would it help to correct the misperceptions of the underrepresented groups in a new way?