The media has a large influence on the way we structure and even live out our lives, according to Brad Kaye, a media and communications scholar.
As behaviors are performed within media texts, we encode those in our long-term memory.
In simpler terms, what we see performed or demonstrated on television or any other medium is retained by our cognitive minds and transformed into messages.
For example, if one watched a television show where the lead female character was African American and she aggressively disciplined her child, many could perceive that other African American women are aggressive and unfriendly toward their children. This perception can be referred to as a schema, which Kaye defines as: “The processes through observing media behavior.”
With this idea that we may perceive our reality based on the mass amounts of media messages presented to us, Kaye suggests this could explain the wide divides we see in determining racial differences within our culture. With various messages embedded in our heads, it’s hard not to assign labels to all individuals we see or encounter.
In the film “The Road Home,” Pico, the runaway boy, seeks to go back to Great Britain to reestablish his connection with his identity and culture there. He feels displaced because he believes that he is simply British and not Indian like his physical appearance projects.
In the film, Pico exclaims, “Why is it difficult for you to understand” that he isn’t a member of the Indian culture? Yes, by his appearance he fits into the traditional Indian schemas, but this identity doesn’t resonate with him.
According to Kaye:
I think schemas function most often by telling us who and what we are not.
Like Pico, people are likely to identify with groups that oppose schemas.
This film constructs a great lesson to those who struggle to embrace or see deeper within their own identities. By ignoring our own preconceived schemas, we are better equipped to embrace people for who they are rather than who we think the ought to be.
Pico’s struggle to label himself into this Indian role is apparent in the film because we likely have schemas that conflict and contradict with our own identities.