A tweet with some interesting visual content came into my timeline this afternoon, which summarised a very clear message about how a dominant part of American culture thinks about and represents itself.
I have used a screenshot of the tweet at the top of this post, and the original can be found here:
The graphic for the tweet is of a montage of 54 faces — all of them racialised as white, all having blonde hair, and the majority (51) of whom are identifiable as women (I am not sure what the original source of this is, but will try to find it and provide a link). The tweet by John Rehling contextualises this imagery, noting that only 8% of American adults are blonde.
The point of reference here is that the faces are apparently of presenters on the US Fox News channel. The clear implication of Rehling’s tweet is that the composition of presenters on Fox is not representative of the majority of Americans.
However, the montage does tell its own story of the construction of race, gender, and religion in the media.
The power of whiteness is not simply about pointed hoods, or even a POTUS who is careful to only use the n-word when there’s no mic (or a politician who ‘jokes’ about burqas).
Whiteness is what is carefully chosen and molded to go in front of the camera. Its imagery is literally bottled (as dye) and styled.
And it relies so much on the image of the white woman (indeed plural women reduced to a singular look) — for ratings, for acceptance, for conveying the powerful ideology of dominance.
And religion is built into this message: unity of not only skin and hair colour, but also of course of particular forms of Christian identity/representation.
Gender is racialised and race is gendered, as what can be called ‘assemblages’ (or intersections).
And religion is also there, deep within the mix.
Religion Bites is edited by Malory Nye, an academic and writer teaching at the University of Glasgow (until the end of June 2018). He can be found on Twitter (@malorynye) and on his website, malorynye.com.
Malory Nye is also the author of the books Religion the Basics (2008) and There Shall be an Independent Scotland (2015). He is currently working on a new edition of the Religion the Basics book, together with a new book on Race and Religion, which will be published by Bloomsbury Academic.
He is the editor of the Routledge journal Culture and Religion.