Mass Media Essay, Research Paper
Have you ever had an original thought? Why do we dress the way we do, watch what we watch or even live the way we do. Through our means of entertainment, it is almost a guide in how one should live their life. With the technology we have in our world we are persuaded to believe what is right and what is wrong. Although we create our own world, our thoughts were imposed upon us since the day we are born. “What if the world is some kind of show. What if we are only talents assembled by the Great Talent Scout Up Above! The Great Show of Life! Starring Everybody! Suppose entertainment is the Purpose of Life,” says Gabler. We wake up in the morning where most of us have a daily routine we go through. Why do we put on makeup in the morning, why do we shave our body, these are questions that can be argued until the end of time. We see images on television and we will do anything to look like that certain someone. It is obvious that our influence on one another is key to our evolution and survival. However, in our society our influences on one have gone beyond ideas needed for simple living. Instead of merely helping us to live more efficient and healthy lives, the media almost makes our decisions for us about our own personal preferences. Although it is good that we have such a variety of choices, some of the ideals in our culture are pressed upon us so heavily and our sometimes even demanded of us that they could leave us with no choice at all. Seeing how there is so much social control within the media, we are as Gabler states, “Performing artists for a grand, on-going show-a show that was, often far more richer, more complex and more compelling than anything conceived for the most conventional media. In short, life was becoming a movie.”
Three areas that I have chosen to research on are as follows: magazines, television sitcoms/motion pictures, and advertising. These topics are very well known and used in our society. We read and watch television practically everyday of our lives. However they are specific areas that have taken over our society.
American magazines started in 1941 and were provided for a means for political disgression. In the 1800s, magazines grew by targeting women. In Seventeen or Cosmopology, it gives women tips on fashion, what you should wear on a first date, and how to cheat on your boyfriend. Women read these magazines that can easily take over their lives. Women care so much about their appearances, it is fascinating to watch what women will really do to fit in and look good. Women in magazines are usually tall, extremely thin, and their faces are covered in makeup. Women can easily develop insecurities in the way they look and feel about themselves because of magazines. Women choose to read certain magazines according to their interests. However, their interests are usually congruent with those of the majority of women or they wouldn’t be reading that particular magazine and those magazines wouldn’t stay in business. On the flip side of the sex factor, influences from magazines such as “For Him” magazine and “Maxim” weigh heavily on many men’s self security. These magazines teach men not only how they should look but also how they should view things. An example of this is a macho, semi sexist, tough guy, bull headed, over confident attitude. These magazines define for men the writer’s essence of a real man. Men as a whole atone themselves to such lifestyles probably out of fear of not living by these structures. Although magazines have a strong influence on the masses they are by no means the most influential medium there is.
This brings me to television programming and how it impacts out lives. Television is hands down the most influential form of media we have. Hundreds of millions of people sit down each day to plug themselves into their favorite sitcom or program. Television shows help us not only structure our appearance but also shape our morals and values. Along with this idea, running programs act as a publicly intriguing conversation piece. I would like to take this time to discuss one program in particular. Temptation Island was a program that aired for a mere two months and had an equal if not greater effect on the public than some programs that have aired for many more years. People would watch this sitcom every Wednesday to then see emotional destruction between two couples that were supposedly in love. There were four couples through out this show that were separated from their significant other to test their love. We as the audience are attracted to trash because it keeps our attention. We want to know what happens next and the more suspenseful and degrading it is, the more ratings that show will get. I, being a faithful watcher of Temptation Island will say that I was addicted to watching the show and at the same time questioning how something like that is aired on television. Another example I want to focus in on is 90210. All of my friends and I would sit around every Wednesday it was on and escape into the world of “LA.” Having all the money in the world, driving the nicest of cars, and never having to working at all was a pretty nice life these people lived in. Again it is a television sitcom but even now that it is off the air, there are repeats on everyday morning and night that my friends and I still watch because it is entertainment. We still get excited and sad knowing what is going to happen next but it’s a “fun” world to escape to. These are great examples how television itself takes over the mind of someone even if they know it is not real.
This brings me to escapism where anyone can let there mind go free of all worries and can set the mood towards fantasy. What other medium than movies can bring this to someone. You sit in a movie theatre, in comfortable chairs with amazing sound that helps with setting the environment of one’s “own world.” You can put yourself in the movie to feel good about yourself or even live in the life of a celebrity for two hours. Some movies offer and underlying political message and other movies reflect on changing social values. Still other movies are just pure entertainment. But all movies need an audience to succeed (Biagi2001). From a sci-fi fantasy like Star Wars to an emotional roller coaster like Forrest Gump, movies offer not only an escape but also the opportunity to learn and appreciate new things. The downside to this is that aside from fun or factual learning, movies can set trends and instill values that are taken on with almost little choice by the mind-numbed viewer. A great example of this was evident in a national phenomenon that took place just a few years ago. A movie called The Program entailed a story about the pros and cons of college football. A scene in the movie showed some student athletes lying in the middle of a road while speeding cars nearly hit them. Shortly after the movie was released young adults all over the country imitated their foolish behavior. For me, the scariest part about the occurrences is that I personally know someone who did it. I guess this paragraph can be ended well with the statement, “Don’t believe everything you see.”
From a different perspective of movies, The Andy Kaufman movie, Man on the Moon was an amazing film that correlates with my paper well. Andy Kaufman possessed the commercial genius to be adored and remembered for years to come. However, his true genius was his insight to the guiding influences of the media. Every con and/or performance by Andy had the ulterior motive of keeping his audience confused and frustrated for the soul purpose of entertaining and amusing himself. The movie quoted him saying that, ”Viewers of sitcoms are already dead.” By this he meant that the viewers were almost being programmed by the programs themselves. The movie leaves you questioning whether or not Andy Kaufman faked even his own death.
My last topic of discussion is advertising. Advertising is said not to be a medium. It carries a message that comes to you form the people who pay for the American Media (Biagi 2001). Advertising can be perceived as a false reality. Schikel says, “It doesn’t take much, you will have noticed, to become famous these days. Eating a rat or sticking a pig on survivor is enough to get you talked about around the water cooler the next morning.”
Millions of dollars are contributed towards advertising whether it is true or false. Through television and magazines, advertising uses celebrities, clever-phrases and sex to sell a certain product. Albom says, ”Who wants to live everyday when we don’t know what is going on? When people are manipulating you, telling you to buy this perfume, with this pair of jeans you will be sexy-and you believe them! It’s such nonsense.” It is used to make us think that the value of our person hood is measured by the quality of our possessions. It shapes and surrounds our culture and is a driving force that makes the business world go round. Not only does advertising use resources previously listed but it also utilizes advanced technologies such as computer imagery, mass publication and cable television.
In conclusion, mediums inform us, mis-lead us, disturb us, entertain us, and above all else mold us into the people we are expected to be by the standards of our society’s norm. Although we do live our lives through all of these mediums, what would our world be with out them? Epstein says, “Both film and television and magazines and advertising have considerable verbal elements: nonetheless, each imposes special rhetorical considerations because of the peculiarity of the nonverbal medium.” We should live our lives to the fullest and the way we believe in “our worlds” to be lived.