Bicultural Identity in the Entertainment Age

Identity is always a difficult thing to pinpoint. There always seems to be this nagging question of, “Am I this or am I that?” Fortunately for some, this line of thinking is quickly becoming antiquated as we, in the United States and abroad, undergo a massive cultural shift that ad executives and market research don’t quite know what to make of just yet. I am, of course, referring to the new line of thinking that we’re seeing in our media. Younger generations no longer want to be forced with the choice between this or that. More and more, we’re seeing a move towards this and that.
Entertainment is being faced with a new challenge. It isn’t enough to speak to the “average” American, because the concept of the “average American” is quickly proving itself to be outdated. Unfortunately for many companies, which rely on raw data and cold, hard, facts, this new attitude towards identity can’t really be quantified. As the article “Young, Bicultural Latinos Are TV ‘Language Neutral’” proves, there is more research being done in regards to this phenomenon, but it’s important to recognize that this is not the first time that a problem such as this has faced the television community.
Although this is new territory when you factor in the issue of language (which many bicultural Latinos have declared a non-issue), America has been forced to walk this line before. The show that comes to mind is the NBC sitcom, Will & Grace, which followed the life of a gay man and his heterosexual female best friend. The show was in many regards a record breaker for prime time, but it was forced into a very delicate balance. On one hand, the show was tasked with representing the gay community which was, at that point in time, very rarely represented in the mainstream. On the other hand, they had to do in such a manner so as to not alienate their heterosexual audience.
This type of multi-cultural entertainment has provided some difficulty for advertisers, but as television viewers and interpreters of media, we should embrace this multi-cultured offering. In fact, considering America prides itself on being a “melting pot” of different cultures, it only seems natural that this should be the norm for many more shows as well as ethnic groups. In many ways, this trend of bilculturalism shows a great deal of hope for future generations in regards to the importance of issues of cultural identity and racism.
However, as it stands now, it’s still a relatively new idea of creating content that crosses cultural borders. As it exists now, the only real trouble that this may present for studios is in monetizing the product. Ads may be difficult to sell for a multi-cultural themed show, but on the other hand, it may also prove to be entirely successful, considering it would virtually guarantee that more ethnic groups would see their product that might not have before the introduction of these bi-cultural shows. In the end, the idea of the bicultural show isn’t entirely new, but it has appeared in limited instances in American television history. Furthermore, it could provide a huge boost to its sponsors. However, considering much of this discussion of bicultural content is still largely theoretical, much of this has yet to be seen. Still, the potential is clearly there.

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4 thoughts on “Bicultural Identity in the Entertainment Age

    • Oh, I absolutely agree.
      It’s a problem that plagues many communities, but as the Latino population in America increases, obviously it’s corporate America’s biggest priority

  1. I hope entertainment will find a way to monetize bi-cultural shows so they’ll be more inclined to promote them. I think we’ve reached a point where most audiences are tired of the most cliched aspects of what passes for bi-cultural entertainment.

    • It’s just so generic. It doesn’t even attempt to delve into anything other than surface level issues for fear of alienating its own audience.

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