In Chapter 5 of Sarah Banet-Weiser’s “Kid’s Rule: Nickelodeon and Consumer Citizenship”, Banet-Weiser explores the networks “racial ambivalence” and how it has been used for clever marketing strategies but how it also perpetuates existing stereotypes. In one section of the chapter she focuses on Nickelodeons representation of race. Although Nickelodeon prides itself on showing diversity in their content in “Transracial America” it still manages to commodify urban culture, African-American and Latino culture, continues to typecast in more inconspicuous ways and tokenizes people of color. This can be seen in shows such as Hey Arnold where The only African-American character, Gerald, is the street smart, all-knowing source for street legends. It can also be seen in the “Rugrats” spin-off “All Grown Up” where Suzie Carmichael (the only Black character) who is seen listening to music and dancing all the time is being associated with a long-standing stereotype of Blacks/African Americans being innately talented when it comes to rhythm and music. These characters are used to “add cool” to the shows that consist of an all-White cast. The issue that stands is when Nickelodeon, who claims their shows are post-racial (implying that they have moved on from an environment where racial tensions exist), are still thriving off of the lingering yet ignored about racial issues.

Although there is no “lack of image diversity” in the media environment, images of blackness and browness operate as a marketing strategy. Anything related to Black, urban youth is used to attract consumers and profit off of. “Race has become an even more important commodity within media culture, and the ironic construction of the authentic in this context is that it is sold as a mainstream consumer cultural identity.” This is seen in Nick’s show “Rocket Power” whose characters consist of Asian, African American and Hispanic characters who do extreme sports. Nick says they strive to be “accurate” and that their shows are about “real life” but the shows are “animated fantasies” and are built on stereotypes.

Strong work here - it makes me wonder whether any African-American or Hispanic characters are featured in the 3 disk set we're looking at this semester. Watch your punctuation, as shown in red here.