Monday, 8 November 2010

Explain how ethnicity is represented in the Hotel Babylon clip

We watched this video a few times and then were asked to answer; Explain how ethnicity is represented in this clip
There stereotypes portrayed in this Hotel Babylon clip are very typical and what you would expect from that ethnicity, mainly focusing on the well known bad points.

The clip starts off with the black man attending to the white man, which relates to the historical fact that white people had the status over black people, the fact that the hotel staff member was assisting the man on the deck-chair instantly shows who has the status. The camera then uses a long shot and follows the servant as he walks alongside the poolside when a black guy who obviously knows him gets out the pool and starts talking to him. They use shot reverse shot as they are talking. The man in the swimwear has a Jamaican vibe to him, his shorts are the colours of the Jamaican flag, he has braided hair, wearing a bit of bling and he over uses words such as ' bro, blud, man' which reflects where he comes from. The fact he's talking about having a party plays on the fact black people are always seen to be partying and not taking things too seriously. These two are binary opposites and the servant could be seen as challenging the stereotype of black people as he's in a suit, has an English accent and isn't up for partying like the other guy is. The music in the background is slightly hip-hop, which is also seen as music that black people stereotypically enjoy.
In the next scene the two stereotypes that are re-presented are maids and the Japanese. You see the maids bring their trolleys up to the room, when they speak to each other you immediately know they are from some eastern European country from their accent. They then go into a Japanese mans room who is sitting on the bed with just his dressing gown on, suggesting he was waiting for them. Shot reverse shot and over the shoulder shot is used in this scene, as well as close up. Japanese people are often seen as being very neat and tidy, which is shown as he already has the money for them in two piles on the table. They are also seen as being almost perverted, as he lets out a ' oh ' as they are starting to undress. A close up is used to show the Japanese man intensely staring at the maids as they undress, with his eyes wide open which is showing he is excited. The maids (especially the one on the right) are portrayed as being easy and would do anything for a bit of money. The music the Japanese guy turns on is Moulin Rouge, which has a burlesque feel to it which could show that that is the aspiration of the maids, and where they want to go in life.
The next scene is short, but shows a hotel staff member giving a British man 'Mr Taylor' some toilet roll, shows that British men are lazy and inpatient. You don't see Mr Taylor which leaves it up to the imagination to how his character would look judging on his situation.
The British stereotype continues with the two hotel supervisors gossiping about the chefs in the kitchen. They don't have any regional accents which indicated they are upper class and well educated. It re-presents the British as posh and liking a gossip, maybe that they are snobby and look down on other people e.g British hotel supervisors looking down on foreign kitchen staff. They clearly take a lot of pride in their appearance which illustrates to foreigners that British people are snobby and look down on others, especially foreigners. The camera watches them walk down a busy corridor switching between long shot and mid shot as they walk towards the kitchen.
The british stereotype continues again into a third scene, with the storyline that the Italian head chef has been sleeping with his collegues wife. This immediatley gives the impression that Italians are womanizers and like a bit of 'fun'. The music has a faster pace to it which could illustrate that tensions are running high in the kitchen, especially after hotel management leave you see the true feelings of the chef's, the italian instantly snaps at the british guy, who can't seem to stand up for himself which re-presents British people as a bit pathetic and wouldn't stand their ground against somebody of a higher rank. The Italian chef grabs a meat clever which could also show that he can't control his temper, which would reflect that all Italians are as temporamental as he is.
Throughout this clip cultural codes are used to imply specific nationalities; such as accents. They were very stereotypical of each country/nationality portrated. People living in Britain would mainly relate to this as all of the actors are speaking English; paired with what the actors look like we automatically assume a certain nationality, a few being European. This ensures the actors don't have to do much on screen acting to let the audience know their identity. 
Overall I think that 'Hotel Babylon' re-present stereotypes very typically, they don't particually challenge them; more pick out and emphasise the bad points on a specific ethnic stereotype. They show these stereotypes so viewers can quickly understand the character without the actors having to make their ethnic make-up overly obvious.


  1. Izzy. Try not to use the term servant. I know you've established the negative connotations of the afro Caribbean character speaking with the elderly man but he's not a servant.

    On the whole thisis good as you maintain the use of camera angles for the majority of the piece. Formality is still a slight issue but I'm sure we'll get that fixed by next summer.


    Try to think about how you could include Barthes narrative codes in this.

    Write some material for Fusion magazine.

  2. I've changed the first paragraph and I've added a paragraph before the final paragraph about cultural codes, I think that's a bit more formal than normal, is this better?

    And I'll need to talk to Miss Elger about Fusion, as I don't know any details like when i need to submit it by and exactly what I've got to do but I will do something for the magazine.

  3. It is but ideally you'd mention the cultural codes as they appear. The examiner is looking for clarity in your writing as well as LOTS of examples and technical vocabulary.

    Look at Emma Neary's effort for tips.