Monday, 5 March 2012

The Last Ever Fictional Character Race Assessment

My friend has just flat out refused to do another month and I think we have enough data to answer our main question if only we could remember what the question was. This February I will be answering a question from much closer to home namely - Do London stories dominate the national news agenda? I say 'no' grumpy northerners say 'yes' - we shall see.

Back to racial representation on American TV and the question of whether non-white non-regulars are more likely to be portrayed as criminals? The answer is yes! Plus... they're massively under represented in the first place by a significant margin.

Month     nw%     wc%     nwc%
December 21% 34% 50%
January 19% 30% 40%
February 21% 30% 34%
Overall 20% 31% 40%

 nw% = percentage of non-white non-regulars.
wc% = percentage of white non-regulars who were criminals.
nwc% = percentage of non-white non-regulars who were criminals.

As you can see the actual proportion NW characters remains consistent over the 3 month period as does the percentage of white characters who are portrayed as criminals. It would have been nice to see whether  the percentage of NW criminals continued to fall  but some people lack the mental toughness to carry on(1).

But Ben what you've got to understand is that black people are a minority in the US and so the shows are bound to reflect that.
You're absolutely right Straw Man but according to the US census (via Wikipedia) non-white people constitute 27.6% of the total population so 20% is an undershot by 7.6%.

Yes but... all the TV industry is based in California and so it's bound to reflect the ethnic mix of that state rather than the country as a whole.
Okay California's non-white population is 25.5%...
I meant Los Angeles, duh, obviously I mean they're not making TV in Sacramento are they?
Well Los Angeles has 49.2%...

But the shows are set in specific regions so some are bound to have more ethnics in than others - right?
But you said....
Never mind - moving on. It just so happens I have a break down by region.

Show nw%
Setting nw%
Prime Suspect 41%
New York City 56%
Hawaii 5.0 37%
Hawaii 75%
Person of Interest 33%
New York City 56%
Law and Order: SVU 22%
New York City 56%
The Closer 19%
Los Angeles 49%
Justified 19%
Kentucky 19%
Unforgettable 17%
Queens 59%
CSI 17%
Las Vegas 23%
Leverage 17%
Boston 36%
Burn Notice 16%
Miami 27%
Blue Bloods 16%
New York City 56%
The Mentalist 14%
California 26%
Castle 10%
New York City 56%
Once Upon A Time 10%
Maine 4%
Supernatural 9%
United States 28%
Grimm 8%
Portland 22%

Look see - Once Upon A Time and Justified have more black people than there are in the state. Obviously it all balances out in the end.
Really, you're going with that are you?
Nope I'm going to ask whether British TV is any better and even if it was you'd still be speaking German if it wasn't for us - so there!
I'm certainly not going there with you Straw Man but for the sake of completeness I'm going to post the final show by show break down.

Show nw% wc% nwc%
Prime Suspect 41% 30% 48%
Hawaii 5.0 37% 28% 37%
Person of Interest 33% 37% 33%
Law and Order: SVU 22% 27% 24%
The Closer 19% 28% 86%
Justified 19% 64% 78%
Unforgettable 17% 21% 33%
CSI 17% 27% 33%
Leverage 17% 42% 64%
Burn Notice 16% 43% 50%
Blue Bloods 16% 28% 29%
The Mentalist 14% 25% 50%
Castle 10% 20% 0%
Once Upon A Time 10% 2% 0%
Supernatural 9% 30% 0%
Grimm 8% 32% 14%

So next month the question will be; London centre of the Universe or merely the most logical choice for the Capital of the World?

(1) Apparantly it was the prospect of another 4 episodes of Law & Order: SVU that tipped the balance.


Ben Toan said...

Looking forward 2 next survey, especially as I live in the north west and feel that southern stories major in the news, and northern stories shown appear 2 be more negative.

Leslie said...

I knew there was a reason I liked Justified! Besides Timothy Olyphant being dead sexy in that coat. And hat. And boots.

Thanks for your hard work, it's appreciated.

pbristow said...

A big thankyou and a [ROUND OF APPL(ES)AU(C/S)E] for this sterling effort of research! Please pass a chunk same on to your friend.