Media has consistently had an impact on the views and actions of individuals throughout history. Take tobacco advertisements, for example. The people smoking cigarettes on those fliers look happier than a child at Disneyland, and some of them even portray doctors having a blast with their bundle of carcinogen containing fun!
The obvious reaction from society is the idea that smoking, no matter how damaging to one’s health, is entertaining and if a prestigious doctor is doing it, it MUST be alright. So they go out and purchase themselves a pack of cigarettes, something they would otherwise never even look at, simply because of the way the media presents it.
The false impression most people are under is that media only influences bad behavior. In some instances, conformity as a result of propaganda can have positive outcomes . In WWII, there was a vast amount of media directed at women to influence their behavior and attitudes in the area of work during wartime. The pressure to keep the US running while our soldiers were away left women in the factories, which proved to be imperative to the country’s survival. Becoming part of a bigger and better cause was more important than the feeling of being an independent person at that time and it was historically significant.
Modern media has more power than ever before. With huge advancements in technology, it can be accessed with the touch of a finger. I am partial to the idea of breaking down media’s roles into simplistic categories. Howard Owens does a better job at it than I ever could. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the prime examples of the strength of media in recent time.
Politicians love the media. They use it to convey their ideas to voters in their election campaigns. TV shows, radio, commercials, and live debates are just a few ways that politicians attempt to sway the vote in their direction. In the 2012 election last year, there were heated debates over twitter and Facebook on President Obama and the smashing of his competitor Mitt Romney. Some tweets even reached news stations, where they could be shared with a large American audience on television. Whether this changed the outcome of anything or not can’t be said but the bottom line is that ideas were put out there. One is still allowed to have their own political views, but there are always biased pushing you in a certain direction.
Democracy has a hold on the media. People vote on movie ratings, TV and internet censorship, radio censorship, and more. The power of the media is still stronger than it ever was in history, but democratic processes do have some control over what media can do.
Censorship in video games is always a heated subject. Yes, they are rated and you have to be a certain age to purchase games containing inappropriate material, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, these regulations are extremely easy to get around, and then children have access to violent games such as Mortal Kombat. There are countless studies on the correlation between video game violence, a form of media, and actual violence and depletion of morals by kids who play them. This is just another example of the force that is media and how independent thinking is hindered by its power.