Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Explain how ethnicity is represented in Hotel Babylon

We watched a clip from Hotel Babylon that featured numerous different ethnicity's. Straight away we see a long shot of a stereotypical representation, as we see a black employee waiting on a white man, which immediately represents black people as a lower class. He is lowering himself to serve the man which symbolises him being lower status wise. Only adding to this is the characteristics of the white man; he is evidently wealthy and clearly relaxing, as he is dressed in a comfortable looking white dressing gown. With him wearing white and the employee wearing black; not only do we see their ethnicity represented by their clothes, but because the white man is wearing white there are connotations of goodness and innocence, whereas black suggests more negative aspects. The editing of this is quite slowly paced and with the lighting colours, it gives the scene a relaxed mood. Then we are introduced to another black character. He gets out of the pool to talk to Ben and so he arrives in the shot from below, straight away suggesting he is of lower importance, as if we look back at Ben’s encounter with a white man he lowered himself yet, this man is lifting himself to meet Ben’s level, showing how ethnicity affects status. The two black characters are binary opposites; we initially see this by their appearance.  Ben is dressed smartly in uniform, with everything neat and correct, but the other man has got his hair braided, is wearing a lot of jewellery or ‘bling’ and has several obvious tattoos. He is a stereotypical young black person, who we associate with hip hop music and rappers, as this is typically what they look like. Ben could be described as going against this stereotype as his appearance is more suggestive of a stereotypical white man. This stereotype and binary opposition is again seen in the way this man speaks. He uses colloquial ‘black’ language that we associate with his ethnicity such as ‘bro’ and ‘bredrins’ whereas Ben keeps his language very formal. The music throughout this scene could be described as having a kind of hip hop beat to it, which links into the black characters and their association with that genre.The editing of the characters interaction is a faster than the earlier shots and is also reverse shot reverse, which shows how Ben has gone from being calm to more anxious.

Next we are introduced to two European cleaners. The initial shot pans out slightly from the cleaning trolley she is pushing. The fact that this is the first thing we see in the shot immediately shows the stereotype of European women in Britain being quite poor and considered very low in society and how they stereotypically have low paid jobs, hence why there is a focus on it. This is of course a cultural code as this is how we in Britain view Europeans that live here. Their uniform is also a symbolic code of their ethical stereotype. It is grey and very basic which shows which shows their jobs to be dull and not well paid or ambitious. The fact that the two girls also look very similar with their hair and uniform suggests that they have no individuality or anything of value to offer and are of very little interest to society. There is an enigma code as the two women stand outside a room, leaving the audience to question what 'double' is. The music subsequently changes from the first scene and could be described more as sexy; which then prepares us for the next scene where we see the two women go into a man’s room and strip for money. The music they dance to is from the film ‘Moulin Rouge’ which centres on a French burlesque club; it adds to the stereotype of European women using their bodies for money, which we see in both Hotel Babylon and Moulin Rouge. This could be a cultural code as those who haven't seen or are unaware of the film Moulin Rouge would not understand the link. There is an extreme close up of a pile of money, which is a symbolic code of how the money is the main focus as to why they are doing this. Another ethnicity is brought in along with the European women. The man watching is old and Japanese, and old Japanese men are stereotypically perverse. His actions are stereotypical of this as he is paying cleaners to strip for him. He is dressed in a dressing gown similarly to the first man, this again shows wealth and that he can afford luxury.Although he is paying 'double' for the maid service his room is, as his stereotype would suggest, very neat and clean, but again this is a cultural code as it is a British stereotyping of the Japanese.

As we enter the kitchen, the music starts to become more rhythmical, just as we are introduced to an Italian chef; so we immediately see a mood set for this stereotype. Italian men are typical lothario’s which we already know to be true about this character due to the previous gossiping about him. He is also very affectionate to the female manager, again showing his typical Italian attitude. This is a cultural code as it is what we know to be an Italian stereotype. We again see how the colour of clothing affects the character. Italians can also be stereotypically seen as temperamental and with him wearing black, when usually chefs wear white, we assume him to be an evil character. Whereas the Englishman is in white and we see him as the person who has been wronged and therefore the good character.  We also see this in the way when the Italian man greets the Englishman; he pulls him down, suggesting he is of a lower morality and is pulling this man down with him. The fact that during the argument he grabs a cleaver shows his stereotypical temperament.

Overall, we see a range of ethnicities represented in different ways. Mostly the stereotypes are negative, or compare good and bad, but we can see how the makers of the show represent ethnicity to show clear character stereotypes straight away.


  1. Rebecca.

    Honestly, the Pigeon Detectives. I was half way through marking this and they came on. That musical crime aside this is quite good. You are going to need to include some of the theorists we've encountered so far in the course to elevate your work into the higher bands. Think about including Barthes codes etc.

  2. In my defence sir, there's only one song from them on there and it's good!
    But ok, I'll try and add the stuff you talked about in the lesson today.