Jonah From Tonga: Sterotyping.

What is stereotyping?


A stereotype is known as: a generalised image or attitude of a particular type of person. Stereotypes are predominately based around, race, religion, sexuality, gender or disabilities. When a type of people is stereotyped in media, the audience will begin to form an ideology and list of assumptions on how a person should react and behave. StanfordGSC‘s research recognised that there was a connection between social deviance and negative stereotyping. When being viewed through a negative lens, people felt disrespected and expected unfair treatment from others. This on many circumstances lead them to rebel and challenge normality. StanfordGSC‘s research also conducted a study which challenged a selected group of people to attempt unsolvable anagrams. The ones who claimed they had solved the anagrams were more likely to have cheated after being devalued based on their “group identity”.


Noticeably film and television are one of the biggest influences in society and have the potential to shape the ideologies of media audiences. Studies show that at least 38% of primary school children spend their spare time watching television and films whilst for students it was 37%. The control that films and televisions have over the audience has meant that filmmakers have had to be cautious of the way they display and depict different characters. While stereotypes can bring great humour to shows and movies. stereotyping can often offend, humiliate, and provoke unfair treatment from others. A study reported that just under 20% of parents in Australian households believed that stereotyping had a positive effect.


The television show “Jonah From Tonga” by comedian Chris Lilley follows the rebellious 14-year-old schoolboy Jonah Takalua through school life. The show received huge backlash with many comparing it to Blackface and even starting a #MyNameIsNOTJonah. The show even sparked activist Candy Royale to speak up in an ABC news interview to say “Australia is so far behind in its racial policies”. A petition to pull the show was able to recruit 10,000 signatures. Many articles were written about the controversy caused by the show, two in particular were by The Huffington Post and The Guardian both addressing the concerns from the Tongan community over how this show to them is considered racist. The show was only cut from Maori TV although its overall reception was people found the show funny and did not consider it as racist. Chris Lilley’s stereotyping was considered as satire as it was only a “Mockumentary” and not to be taken seriously by the viewers in New Zealand and Australia, therefore there was no breach of any Vilification Laws.


Human Rights Commission of Australia explained that HREOC’s work shows developments and study that work towards the shutting down of false information to and stereotypes. Stereotyping is the main reason for prejudice beliefs and HEROC’s report explained that “The way we treat others reflects the way we have been taught to treat others”. The majority of filmmakers realise how effective their projects are, explaining the reason why there are very few shows taken off air in comparison to commercials. Most film-makers include stereotypes for comedic reasons such as a Mockumentary, but when creating a documentary film-makers will often avoid the situation as the results of breaching vilification laws may lead to 6 to 24 months imprisonment.


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