The successes of multiculturalism in some media channels are evident but the world still has a long battle ahead to minimise the domination of white bread media. An obvious point being made is that due to media’s social, cultural and political role a moral panic regarding ethnic minorities can be sparked that leads to community tensions and contributing to racism in Australia (Dreher, 2014). This can be a problem when tensions in the area already exist, for example the Cronulla riots in 2005 was inflamed by local media outlets especially radio host Allen Jones who “encouraged violence and brutality” (Dreher, 2014).
The Australian media landscape is indeed highly diverse, but subtle incidences of white domination can be seen in the media that often tend to go unnoticed unlike that of the Cronulla riots racism slurs. Often in television series and movies the cast is predominately white cast members. Think about magazines seen on the shelves of supermarkets. When was the last time an individual of colour was seen on the front cover of popular Australian magazines, let alone a spread on the inside? The fashion industry often goes unnoticed when thinking about white bread media, but perhaps are the biggest offenders of all. The fashion industry bluntly admits “black girls don’t sell.” Ruby Hamad’s recent article titled ‘Why the World still Favours White Models,’ details examples of white bread media occurring in the fashion industry. There is evidence of non-white models in fashion magazines but they are merely used as local peasants to the area, chauffers or “props.”
Media channels have been accused of using tokenism. Tokenism is a technique used to cover the media outlet to ensure it applies with anti-racism policies. When really an ethnic minority can only be seen once or used sparingly which does not fix the problem of diversity in the media and places an immense amount of pressure on that one individual representative. An example of this could be seen in the Victoria’s Secret modelling world. Black model Chanel Iman was let go after being told they “have already found one black girl, we don’t need you anymore.” This statement also included in Hamad’s article is largely tokenistic.
Although media outlets such as SBS and ABC Australia are largely multicultural and diverse, some forms of media such as the magazine and fashion industry still show signs of being white bread media. Lauren Northover
Dreher, T. (forthcoming 2014), ‘White Bread Media,’ in the media and communications in Australia, S. Cunningham and S. Turnbull, Allen and Unwin.
Hamad, R. 2013, ‘Why the World still Favours White Models,’ Daily Life, Australia.