Why White Friends only?

I hold the attitude to acquire the native American language and get to
know the real American life and culture when I came to watch Friends, a
popular American television program portraying a white America has six
white characters: Ross, Chandler, Joey, Rachel, Monica and Phoebe. Not
long after, I began to notice how unpractical to gain the idea of the
real America just by watching the six unmarried, young Americans hanging
out at a café in the New York City. They are just impressing on viewers
the humorous all-white American lifestyle. However, Friends is popular,
because it poses all the qualities that people enjoy. Number one, the
characters are all beautiful or handsome. Jennifer Aniston, Courtney
Cox, and Lisa Kudrow are all irresistible female actresses, while
Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer, and Matt Leblanc are all good-looking
actors. They all fit into the mainstream glamour of today’s media.
People look up to and imitate popular actors and actresses as these.
Next, the show is very humorous. See Phoebe, she plays the funny,
stereotypical dumb blond role. Lastly they all fit into the category of
whiteness. Prominent people in America for the most part are white and
this is what people are used to. Only if we pay enough close attention,
can we be able to notice one or two African-Americans or
Mexican-Americans in the background. Friends is a lovable show that is
compelling to the public, reinforcing the idea that whites are dominant
figures over minorities. This is not what really happens in society.
People will not see a homogenous portrayal of all-white society as they
walk down a city block. Then why do television shows, for the most part,
display a perfect white homogenous society? As a viewer, a non-white
viewer, I cannot help asking, why don’t these characters have any
minority “friends”? Why does the television depict popular white America
while leaving out minorities?
No Asians in the main culture–this is always the case with American
television, not only with Friends, but also with many others: Desperate
Housewives, L.A Law, Will and Grace, for example. If there are some
exceptions, the Asian character must either be a maid, or be an owner of
a stinky, mucky little dark grocery around the corner. Those TV shows
impact viewers constantly, leaving the image of an all-white society.

  Text 2

Premiered on CBS on September 24, 2007, The Big Bang Theory [Chuck
Lorre, Bill Prady, 2007-2012] has enjoyed great popularity around the
world in recent years. And it is also one of my favorite sitcoms.
Although the four main characters in The Big Bang Theory are all male,
we can still find something very interesting about gender in this
sitcom.
It is quite obvious that in The Big Bang Theory, gender is closely
associated with intelligence, social position and occupation. Here
“gender” not only refers to the biological gender, but also the “gender
as an effect of actions and performances”. All of the four main
characters are male scientists who are highly intelligent and have
decent jobs. However, the only female main protagonist, Penny, is
portrayed as a good-looking but not-so-well educated and vulgar waitress
who only has passion for shopping and always fails on her dream of
becoming an actress. Other female characters in the Big Bang who seem to
be also intelligent as the male are somehow lack of feminine
characteristics both in the way they look and the way they act. For
example, Leslie and Amy, they are also scientists themselves, but they
are always dressed in dull clothes which totally cover their female
figures and they seldom have any social activities or romance
relationship. For the viewers, these clever female scientists seem more
masculine rather than feminine.
There are also apparent ethnicity and family background differences
between the 4 protagonists in Big Bang. Raj is from India. Howard is a
Jewish. Sheldon is from a Christian family in Texas, while Leonerd was
brought up in Princeton, whose family members are all extraordinary
scholars. These differences also make this sitcom more multicultural and
more appealing to me. In spite of the different ethnicities and family
backgrounds, these four clever guys are really good friends. This is
kind of anthem for American spirit, to some extents. It implies that no
matter where you are from, you can have a place in America as long as
you have the ability. In such a multicultural country like the USA,
“racial/ethnic subjects are treated as equals by the white majority and
immigrants are capable of ascending the ladder of social and economic
success.” However, stereotypes about these racial or ethnic groups still
can be seen in Big Bang. The most obvious example is Raj. His exotic
Indian accent and shyness to talk to a woman are very funny in this
sitcom, but this maybe reflexes the typical impression of Indians in
American WASP society. And Howard’s mother, though never shows up on the
screen, is remembered by the audiences as a fat, aggressive Jewish woman
with a loud voice and who always takes her son like a 5-year-old boy.
It is quite mean to make fun of the stereotypical characteristics of
these ethnic groups. But I think why most of the audiences, including
myself, don’t take it as a big problem of The Big Bang Theory is because
that it almost makes fun of every group. The Indian Americans, the
Jewish Americans and the white majority, male or female, they are all
laughed at. Perhaps it is a characteristic of the consumerism culture
that everything is consumed and entertained. Here I am not going to
further discuss this topic, as sitcom itself is an entertainment product
of the consumerism culture.
Romance is definitely an indispensable element for any sitcom, and Big
Bang is not an exception. But unlike other American sitcoms, Big Bang
not only describes romance between men and women. It hints at the
ambiguous homosexual relationship from time to time, especially between
Raj and Howard. And Sheldon, the most intelligent but socially-awkward
scientist, are even portrayed to be cut off from any romance
relationship. Many audiences have been wondering what kind of person
will Sheldon fall in love with, and there seems to be no answer. Though
since season 3, Amy, Sheldon’s blind date, has come onto the screen,
Sheldon always emphasizes Amy is “a friend who is a girl, not a girl
friend.” Actually, the actor of Sheldon, Jim Parsons, is a gay himself.
Just right after he got the Emmy Awards in 2010, he engaged with his
boyfriend Todd Spiewak. Only by then did a lot of audiences know that he
is a gay. But his sexual orientation does not affect audiences’ view
about Sheldon in a bad way. Conversely, many people think that the gay
identity enables Jim Parsons to be the most suitable actor for Sheldon,
for he is not interested in women at all, which is exactly Sheldon’s
image.

  In spite of “endless talk of difference,” American society is an
amazing machine for homogenizing people. This is “the democratizing
uniformity of dress and discourse, and the casualness and absence of
deference” characteristic of popular culture. People are absorbed into
“a culture of consumption” launched by the 19th-century department
stores that offered ‘vast arrays of goods in an elegant atmosphere.
Instead of intimate shops catering to a knowledgeable elite.” these were
stores “anyone could enter, regardless of class or background. This
turned shopping into a public and democratic act.” The mass media,
advertising and sports are other forces for homogenization.

  Immigrants are quickly fitting into this common culture, which may
not be altogether elevating but is hardly poisonous. Writing for the
National Immigration Forum, Gregory Rodriguez reports that today’s
immigration is neither at unprecedented level nor resistant to
assimilation. In 1998 immigrants were 9.8 percent of population; in
1900, 13.6 percent. In the 10 years prior to 1990, 3.1 immigrants
arrived for every 1,000 residents; in the 10 years prior to 1890, 9.2
for every 1,000. Now, consider three indices of assimilation-language,
home ownership and intermarriage.

  The 1990 Census revealed that “a majority of immigrants from each of
the fifteen most common countries of origin spoke English “well” or
“very well” after ten years of residence.” The children of immigrants
tend to be bilingual and proficient in English. “By the third
generation, the original language is lost in the majority of immigrant
families.” Hence the description of America as a graveyard” for
language. By 1996 foreign-born immigrants who had arrive before 1970 had
a home ownership rate of 75.6 percent, higher than the 69.8 percent rate
among native-born Americans.

  Foreign-born Asians and Hispanics “have higher rates of
intermarriage than do U.S-born whites and blacks.” By the third
generation, one third of Hispanic women are married to non-Hispanics,
and 41 percent of Asian-American women are married to non-Asians.

  Rodriguez notes that children in remote villages around world are
fans of superstars like Amold Schwarzenegger and Garth Brooks, yet “some
Americans fear that immigrants living within the United States remain
somehow immune to the nation’s assimilative power.”

  Are there divisive issues and pockets of seething anger in America?
Indeed. It is big enough to have a bit of everything. But particularly
when viewed against America’s turbulent past, today’s social indices
hardly suggest a dark and deteriorating social environment.

  21. The word “homogenizing” (Line 2, Paragraph 1) most probably
means_____.

  [A] identifying [B] associating [C] assimilating [D]
monopolizing

  22. According to the author, the department stores of the 19th
century_____.

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