303 WK 4

All media messages are made or constructed by people. One of the most important media literacy skills is deconstruction – closely examining and “taking apart” media messages to understand how they work. Deconstructing a media message can help us understand who created the message, and who is intended to receive it. It can expose the point of view of media makers, their values, and their biases. It can also uncover hidden meanings – intended or unintended.

For this assignment, you will select and analyze the representation of a single non-human character (such as an animal, robot, alien, etc.) in a media text. Your task will be to report how the character has been racialized. To do so, you will need to deconstruct the media codes and conventions used in the character’s representation and portrayal. (See “What is Racialization?”, below.)

Note that the media text you select doesn’t have to be “about race”. In fact, deconstruction is often more effective when the media message’s cultural meaning is not explicit.

Keep in mind that Whiteness, like all the other racial categories, is a social construct and is also represented and given meaning in media messages.

Examples of possible characters to select could include, but are not limited to: 

  • Any animal from a Disney film, such as The Lion King or The Little Mermaid
  • Queen Watev’ra Wanabe from The LEGO Movie 2
  • Non-humanoid alien characters from films such as the Star Wars franchise
  • The robot Pal from the television show Annedroids
  • Personified inanimate objects, such as those in The Brave Little Toaster or Disney’s Cars
  • Monster characters, such as those in Monsters, Inc.

If you’d like to float an idea past me, I am happy to offer feedback on your selection and your preliminary ideas before you begin. Please message me using the inbox function in Canvas at your earliest convenience (not just a few days before the assignment is due), and I’ll reply as soon as I can.

What is Racialization? 

Omi and Winant define Racial Formation as “the sociohistorical process by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed and destroyed.” Further, they link “racial formation to the evolution of hegemony, the way in which society is organized and ruled.” Their analysis suggests that “race is a matter of both social structure and cultural representation.” 

In sociology (Links to an external site.),LINK: Sociology – Wikipedia

 racialization is the process of ascribing  racial identities (Links to an external site.) LINK: Race (human categorization) – Wikipedia to a relationship, social practice, or group that did not identify itself as such. Racialization is often borne out of the interaction of a group with a group that it dominates (Links to an external site.) LINK: Dominance hierarchy – Wikipediaand ascribes identity for the purpose of continued domination. While it is often borne out of domination, the racialized group often gradually identifies with and even embraces the ascribed identity and thus becomes a self-ascribed race or ethnicity. 

Racialization makes possible social practices and beliefs that contribute to unequal and unfair experiences for individuals, such as racial profiling or “driving while black”. It also “problematizes” systemic and structural issues like educational and income gaps in terms of race and justifying “interventions” that place the burden and stigma on the individuals rather than on society. 

Racialization is a social process of attributing superior/inferior status and giving rise to the ideological construction of “the racialized other.

Assignment details

You will deconstruct the racialization of the character you selected by conducting a critical analysis of the character’s representation: How it is portrayed in terms of behavior, voice, affect, decisions, relationships with other characters, etc.

In so doing,  you will reveal both the overt and the coded ways in which the mass media define racial categories or sustain ideologies of race.

You will do this by engaging with the media message from a critical position and by asking key questions in specific elements of the text.  These key questions are articulated in the Deconstruction Handout  (SEE ATTATCHED)

Please do notuse the handout to structure your report. Rather, please use it to help guide your analysis, then decide what argument you would like to present about the character you have selected.


Your report must be submitted as a 5- to 7-minute MP4 or MOV slide-show movie with voice-over and transcript.

You will submit:

1) an engaging iMovie slideshow featuring a voice-over in which you present your argument, and

2) a Word document (Times New Roman, 12 pt font, with clear paragraph breaks to help legibility) with a verbatim transcript of your voice-over.

  • Hint: Draft your transcript before recording, so that you are not speaking off the cuff in your narrated report.
  • Do also be sure to revise the transcript as you revise your slideshow into its final form, so that the transcript you submit to me reflects what is actually on screen when I watch your movie.

If you do not have access to iMovie but do have access to other comparable software, you may use that software instead, as long as you save it as an MP4 or MOV file.

Structure of your argument

You should structure your video as follows:

  • Begin by explaining which character you will analyze from which media text. Be sure to include images that represent the character and the media text right away. 
  • Share a little info about the media text. When was it released? By which media company? Who was its target audience? What was its reception? Was it a commercial success? Please find or create graphics that help illustrate these points.
  • Then, for the bulk of the video, you should present your argument. In what way is the character you selected racialized? Be specific and use images to help support your points. When possible, consider how the race representation interrelates to other variables, such as gender and class. (E.g., a character racialized as “white” will present differently depending on whether it is lower-class or elite, male or female, etc.)
    • In this analysis, be sure to use descriptive examples and direct quotes/dialogue from the film or TV show (if it features dialogue). Consider how the character looks, speaks, behaves, acts, reacts, and how s/he relates to other characters (particularly in relation to a hierarchy/subordination). You must provide evidence to support your argument.
    • If there are songs from the film or show that support your argument, you may select brief excerpts from them under the doctrine of “fair use,” as long as you are specifically critiquing those sections of the song. You may not use songs from the TV show or film in a “decorative” manner. It is only “fair use” if you are actively critiquing the excerpted music.
  • To wrap up your narrated slideshow, restate/summarize your main argument and explain why your findings matter. How is the character racialized, and why is it important to note that the character is racialized? Does the character’s racialization signify any broader societal/cultural issues/stereotypes/ideologies that are worth thinking about? 

Give credit where due: As you speak, be sure to give credits to any sources you consulted for this assignment. Any external sources you consulted must be clearly indicated in your transcript, with links / more detail included via footnotes.

Other requirements:

  1. The slide show movie must:
    1. Be made with still images (required) and short video clips (optional). Note that the Ken Burns effect of zooming and panning is allowed, as are 3D transitions, should you choose to incorporate them.
    1. Make sense, be legible, audible, and visually consistent
    1. Be about 5 to 7 minutes in duration
    1. Use minimal text. This means using voice-overs, rather than title and paragraph text on each slide.
    1. Include transitions and special effects that are well integrated, not dominating or taking away from the content delivery
    1. Be unique by not using the automatic decisions made by iMovie to control the duration of each slide and the duration and style of each transition.

Note: Your slide show movie can include additional imagery, titles, graphics, or background music, provided they enhance the delivery of the message. This can also help make your slide show unique. Music must be copyright-free (unless you pay the royalty fee) or your own original song. You can google free music tracks or use the ones in iMovie or GarageBand.

Hint: Your script for your voice over should contain full sentences and sound like a spoken story. It should not be overly formal or academic, but also should not be too casual or informal. For example, listen to the style Anita Sarkeesian uses in her Feminist Frequency video series for ideas.

Instructions on creating a narrated iMovie slideshow:

  1. Build your slide show movie in iMovie or other software using the online tutorial of your choice. This tutorial on Medium is a popular one: https://medium.com/tank-i-need-a-program/how-to-make-a-slideshow-with-voiceover-and-music-in-imovie-19614f67e137 (Links to an external site.)

LINK: How to Make a Slideshow with Voiceover and Music in iMovie | by Renee Roth | Tank, I Need a Program | Medium

  • Be sure to watch your slide show movie a few times before submitting and ensure everything you wanted to say and depict is included. Consider showing it to a family member or friend first for feedback on anything that is unclear or could use elaboration/revision.
  • When you are satisfied with your work, Export your slide show as an MP4 or MOV file and name your exported movie as follows: “Racialization-Report-Your-Last-Name”.  (If you are using iMovie, you can export it using the Share button or File > Share > File.)
  • Upload your MP4 (or MOV) file to this assignment page by the deadline. 

Other resources:

Critical Analysis of Media Texts (Handout) (SEE ATTATCHED

Explanation of Racialization  (SEE ATTATCHED )

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