Stereotyping in the Media
There are many recurring stereotypes throughout American media culture. One of the common reoccurring ones is the portrayal of comedic, low intelligence male characters, for example Patrick Star from Spongebob Squarepants, Goofy from Disney, John Arbuckle from Garfield and so on. Often these characters fall into the specific category of the father of a middle class family, such as Peter Griffin from Family Guy, Homer Simpson from The Simpsons and Fred Flintstone from The Flintstones. What biases does this specific stereotype bring with it? It could be several different things. If taken from a standpoint of the target audiences watching these shows, the middle class, this stereotype may be a way to identify with the setting but also to try and uplift their own conceptions about their position. The dim witted actions of Peter or Homer can easily cause them to think “at least I’m not like HIM” when comparing their own rational thought capability to the less capable thoughts expressed by these dim bulbs. A more uplifted middle class would result in better productivity and a greater satisfaction with their own position, something that could be conveyed by portraying these other similar positioned characters as inferior, making the audience believe they are better by comparison. If taken from a different standpoint, perhaps one more on a basis of sexism, it could be possible this stereotype is meant to be a blatant, frank equalizer towards the past social roles of women. To elaborate, as we know from history, women’s roles in the past were a steady increase from simple housekeeping and child raising to being on par with men on a social standpoint. Men often bared the “more capable, stronger gender” impression before women achieved their equal status. One could infer that as a way of furthering and solidifying this impression, creating dumb male characters that are quite frequently accompanied by a more rational, capable wife that holds the family’s sanity together (Such as Marge or Lois) creates this position of superior women roles that “get back” or “get even” with their previous positions and make the men appear to be the inferior between the two instead.