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" Here, at last, are media representations of successful and attractive black people whom white people can respect, admire, and even identify with." ( Jhally & Lewis, 1992)

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But who will the black audience identify with and for what reasons will they identify?

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Although we ALL can not live like the Huxtables or the Banks, it is still assuring to view successful middle to high class black families on mainstream television. Whether we choose to compare our lifestyles with those on screen or develop para-social relationships with the characters embedded, it provides black audiences with the opportunity to identify culturally. It also provides white audiences with the opportunity to view different aspects of black culture just as they can view different aspects of their own.

Jhally and Lewis would probably argue that "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" reinforces the myth that black people have themselves to blame if they don't make it to Bel-Air, and that Will may be symbolic of the urban blackness bombarding high class societies and rural neighborhoods. On a different note, one might suggest that Will is symbolic of integration and that his character is used to suggest that regardless of where you come from, we're all similar in more ways than one. Essentially, Will may be symbolic of change and adaptation. Most black audiences are able to identify with at least one episode on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" mainly because of Will Smith's character. Furthermore, the continuum of blackness provides for every character to have their own trait and position in the family whereas the characters from "The Cosby's" are very similar and concrete. Overall, the " positive black sitcom" is still very new to society so the messages that are directed towards the viewing audiences are being seen in a very dramatic and reflective way. Regardless of the genre of the sitcom, every portrayal of black culture depicted will be criticized because of the ancestrial history of black people. Comedy is the great equalizer in mass media and I feel that Will Smith did an exceptional job exempifying the idea.



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‍‍Avery, J. (Performer) (1992). 1.4 min. [Youtube video clip]. In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Philadelphia: NBC. Retrieved from Uncle Phil Actin' "Urban"
Cosby, W. (Comedian) (1989). .56 min.[Youtube video clip]. In The Cosby's. Philadelphia: NBC. Retrieved from The Cosby Show Theme Introduction


Garrett, B. (Comedian) (2010). 1.15 min.[Youtube video clip]. In The Cosby's. Philadelphia: NBC. Retrieved from Impersonation of Bill Cosby


Jhally. (1992). elightened racism. 28. Retrieved from https://d2l.lincoln.edu/d2l/lms/content/viewer/main_frame.d2l?ou=7669&tId=3189

Marcell, J. (Performer) (1994). 1.17 min. [Youtube video clip]. In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Philadelphia: NBC. Retrieved from Geoffrey Butler 2‍‍

Marcell, J. (Performer) (1994). .4 min. [Youtube video clip]. In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Philadelphia: NBC. Retrieved from Geoffrey Butler


Smith, W. (Performer) (1991). 1.5 min. [Youtube video clip]. In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Philadelphia: NBC. Retrieved from The Fresh Prince Theme Introduction


Smith, W. (Performer) (1993). 3.26 min. [Youtube video clip]. In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Philadelphia: NBC. Retrieved from The
Will's Princeton Interview

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‍ALL IMAGES COPIED FROM WWW.GOOGLE.COM © Jamal Johnson (Intro to Mass Comm: Fall 2011)