Appalachian culture and reality TV: The ethical dilemma of stereotyping others

Journal of Mass Media Ethics 23 (3):183 – 200 (2008)
Stereotypical images of Appalachians abound in entertainment media. When CBS proposed transplanting a poor Appalachian family to California for a reality television show titled The Real Beverly Hillbillies, Appalachians and advocacy groups were outraged. This article explores ethical issues raised by stereotypical portrayals of Appalachians and potential harm from those stereotypes as well as the reality from which they emerged. Using the theories of Levinas, Kant, and Aristotle, we then examine the ethics of stereotyping Appalachians and other subcultures in entertainment media. Finally, we propose a decision tree to aid producers of entertainment media in creating ethical portrayals of fictional characters and real people.
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