It can be funny. The problem regarding those and other minority groups is that they are typically underrepresented (likely less so for black Americans these days than other minorities, but they are probably still not proportionally represented in popular media). When already limited representation is further reduced with unflattering portrayals just to get a laugh, the blow dealt is proportionately bigger. Well, it probably is proportionately bigger. It's a matter of percentages.
So you don't think negative portrayals contribute to prejudicial opinions and stereotypes.
It seems like you are excusing false and unflattering stereotypes when they are about the majority or those in power.
No, it doesn't. I am stating that the damage caused is proportionate the saturation of the negative stereotype.
Imagine you have two populations: a majority population called 'greens' and a minority population called 'taupes. When polled, studies showed that 67% of greens love volleyball and the rest hate it, while 68% of taupes love cricket and the rest hate it.
Now you have a sitcom with a cast of four greens and one taupe. We all shrug and say there are less taupes in the population so there are less in the show. Not great, perhaps, but it is what it is.
In this show, the writers have three of the greens represent the volley-ball loving stereotype while the fourth hates it. The taupe? Well, there's just one taupe so he represents the majority of taupes and loves cricket.
Both groups are inaccurately represented weighed against the general population, but the taupes are disproportionately misrepresented.
Thing is, it's a sitcom. While the situation isn't ideal, we don't expect it to reflect reality exactly, so it's cool, yeah? We watch it distractedly and smile here and there at the canned humour. We see some jokes playing off of green stereotypes and some playing off of taupe stereotypes, but it's just one show and it's just jokes. Even with some of the less flattering stereotypes, we weigh it against the lighthearted intent and humorous presentation. It's not the end of the world to have some deprecating humour.
Well, what if almost every show repeats the same formula? There is always a token taupe and that taupe is always painted as a cricket-lover? What was a minor issue before is now a deeper problem. Now you have multiple sources perpetuating taupes as one-dimension while the greens -- also a bit misrepresented by the volleyball loving stereotype -- are at least shown with some diversity.
While it's possible that things don't play out that way in practice between the taupes and the greens, in our world it's a problem we've already seen happen more than once. It results in making a joke in good fun*, to taking that joke way too far. Men get less consideration because, in being overrepresented, we're shown with more diversity overall and while some stereotypes are abusive, we just haven't been taken as far down that road as others. That's why others get priority complaining ground.
*Obviously not all jokes are in good fun.
Asymmetrical Culturalism. (I made that up.)
I was trying to be funny (in a way probably unique to my brain circuits), but maybe instead should say there's a bit of retrospective motivation for the "activistic" response in entertainment and other media. That is, there's still cultural inertia on the side of the patriarchy, imo, and so I take the over-dufusizing of males with a grain of salt. It's been going on since All In The Family (at least).
Some historical perspective (in comedy):
I'm glad you clarified or else I'd have misread. I've always felt that dufu sizing has been pretty on target, and people only think it's overdone due to asymmetrical culturalism.
I don't think I've ever seen one full episode of Roseanne. I don't watch sitcoms as a rule.
Do you ever feel under appreciated?
Not where my gender is concerned. At times -- and this is not related to your post here -- I feel over-generalized. Generalization is natural -- there is a time and place for statistical measures, and there is a time and place to challenge one's ingrained perspective --, but some people don't know where to draw boundaries. Mostly, I don't like being told who I am or what my life is like on the basis of my chromosomal arrangement. But really, that's not something men endure; that's something people endure. For some reason, it bothers me most when people do it based on my gender though, more so than ethnicity, religious status, sexual identity or anything else.
I think you actually get it... Thanks for posting this. There is so much pro-woman rhetoric around now-a-days that I think people are forgetting about men entirely. Just last week I saw an article comparing magazine covers (I think it was Time), showing covers with men consisting of head shots and covers of women consisting of full body shots and scant, if any, clothing. The article went of to whinge about the objectification of women in our culture but no one even brought up how men might feel about this...
So I thought about it. And this same article that is "objectifying" women is also de-valueing men's bodies. It's saying that women have personality, intelligence, AND their bodies are nice, translating that analysis to men, it's saying that men CAN'T/DON'T have bodies worth "objectifying".
That's probably not the clearest explaination of how I feel but I'm at work and need to get back to it.