Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Proud Family Television Series: Is it Really Prideful?

The Proud Family is a television series that aired on Disney Channel in the early 2000s, based on teenager Penny Proud and her African-American family. Although the television series ended in 2005, it is still relevant today because, since it first aired when I was so young, it was one of my generation’s first encounters with racial stereotypes. Throughout the television series, The Proud Family perpetuates some racial stereotypes while also rejecting others because some individual characters, like Trudy Proud, do not follow common stereotypes versus black mothers while, in contrast, other characters, like the Gross Sisters, perpetuate racial stereotypes throughout the series.

The series rejects many common racial stereotypes throughout the episodes. In general, the series itself was the first Disney Channel television show to have a black lead, breaking a large racial barrier on a very popular network. In the series, one prominent character who rejects common racial stereotypes against African Americans is Trudy Proud, Penny’s mother. Black motherhood is historically denounced and constantly questioned so it is extremely rare to see a strong black motherhood role in the media. Trudy Proud is a strong woman, who is the main financial, emotional, and physical supporter of her family and works as a veterinarian. In addition to her job, she is the mother of three children and an influential mentor to her oldest daughter, Penny, helping her as she navigates her teenage years. This rejects racial stereotypes because Trudy is caring and concerned with family affairs and makes good money at a respectable job, characteristics not commonly given to African-American characters on TV shows.

While the series rejects some common stereotypes against African-Americans, it also perpetuates many more. As previously mentioned, black mothers are commonly stereotyped as absent caregivers. This stereotype is perpetuated by Penny’s best friend, Dijonay, who has many misbehaved siblings whom she has to care for herself because there is no other authority figure to do so. This also perpetuates the idea that black children are disobedient. In addition to Penny’s friend, Penny’s father takes the role of the stereotypical “coon” because he is known to be a business failure who is lazy and irresponsible. Oscar Proud preserves the stereotype of a lackadaisical black father. Finally, the criminal stereotype which states that black people are dangerous, is perpetuated by the Gross Sisters. These are girls at Penny’s school who bully and take kids’ lunch money. To make the stereotype more real, they wear ragged clothes and their skin is blue to illustrate that they are “ashy”.

In conclusion, The Proud Family is still relevant today, even though it ended over ten years ago, because it planted the seed of African-American stereotypes in young viewers of Disney Channel, like myself. Before I realized it, the television show set a standard for what I expected to see in the media. While it rejected a few stereotypes, it also accepted many more, giving me false ideas about what to expect in my life and in media. The series also connects to other works of culture because the generalizations made against certain races remains a common factor in many popular television series, movies, and many more.

No comments:

Post a Comment