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Media and How it Affects Culture

Updated on February 27, 2011

Media Affecting Culture

How is culture affected by media? It’s a trick question, really. We can analyze how media impacts culture, but since forms of media are abundant everywhere we turn, and media in some form or another has been around for thousands of years, it’s impossible to analyze how the absence of media impacts culture. For a mature and healthy culture, however, can media play a role in its development?  For the purposes of this question it should be understood that a mature and healthy culture is media literate. With that understanding, the question of whether or not this kind of culture exists is derived. 

The News

The news gives us information of everything that’s happening from local to international scales. Some news is good and some is bad. The news lets us people that live in colder climates no how long a snow emergency is going to last so we know if we have to park on a certain side of the street or not (Dec. 5, 2010, Wisconsin State Journal Online). We also are provided with horrible news like 23 fur seals being clubbed to death in New Zealand (Dec. 5, 2010, Yahoo! News). No matter what the news is, it’s there so that we know what is happening everywhere in the world. 

Other Forms of Media

The news isn’t the only form of media that informs us. Documentaries, news radio, and even blockbuster movies are educating. Documentaries, obviously, are nonfiction and they provide informative accounts of a situation. News radio keeps us up to date on local, national, and world-wide events. A lot of movies do provide us with useable information, as well; “The Day After Tomorrow” lays out a very real possibility of what might happen in our future (2004).

In the textbook, Media & Culture, Scott Lehigh of the Boston Globe is quoted, “If we’re a nation possessed of murderous imagination, we didn’t start the bloodletting. Look at Shakespeare… His plays are written in blood.”(pg. 475, 2010) This brings about the point that horror, blood, and violence aren’t a product of media in the free world; they’re a product of humanity. Blame for the things that are wrong with our culture always seems to shift to television, music, and books, but the things that are wrong have always been there. Media is just an easy scapegoat to point a finger at because people that would otherwise not be exposed to these things that are wrong see them on the news, and relate them to scenes that they saw on T.V. or lyrics they heard in a song. What the media is actually doing by exposing the public to things that are considered wrong and bad, is informing us on the way things are or could be, giving us knowledge that we can use to protect ourselves and even change the way that things are. A fictional movie that portrays the assassination of a foreign dignitary on U.S. soil plotted by corrupt government officials doesn’t mean that someone who saw that movie is going to play it out (2007, Hunter, S., & Lemkin, L.). What it does mean is that someone out there thought of this as a movie plot, the idea didn’t originate from the movie. It’s easier to think of a movie as a page in history that has never been written. It’s something that we can be educated from even if it is fictional.

How Much Are We Really Affected by the Media?

All of the forms of media would be useless if we didn’t understand them. If we believed the first thing we heard from the news all the time, we wouldn’t be able to form an educated opinion or response. If we reenacted what we saw in movies or T.V. shows because we thought that by watching someone else do something it’s okay for to do it too, then we wouldn’t be allowing ourselves to make our own decisions; it goes along with that excuse you made when you were a kid: “But my friends do that.” Your mother would then respond, “And if all of your friends jumped off a cliff would you do that too?”

Media in all forms is there to help us better understand the world, form educated opinions, and learn from others. According to Pew Research in June of 2010 the average American spent 70 minutes a day listening, watching, or reading up on the news (Sep. 12, 2010). That’s over 17 solid days of learning every year! Yes, there is some entertainment in the news, but mainly it’s there for reporting what’s happening, and even presenting some forms of research. There’s always going to be some form of media out there that may be harmful to certain groups or even to the vast majority of recipients, but in a mature and healthy culture we should be smart enough to understand what is for entertainment and what is important to know. With proper understanding, laws, and ethics media serves a large role in a flourishing society.  

References

Pew Research Center. (2010, September 12). Americans spending more time watching the news. In Pew Research Center. Retrieved December 5, 2010, from http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1725/where-people-get-news-print-online-readership-cable-news-viewers

Campbell, Richard, Christopher Martin, and Bettina Fabos. Media & Culture. 7th ed. Yes: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2010. 475. Print.

Emmerich, R. (Adapter). Emmerich, R. (Writer). (2004). The Day After Tomorrow [Online video]. Retrieved December 4, 2010, from IMDB.

Hunter, S., & Lemkin, L. (Writer). Wahlberg, M. (Actor). (2007). Shooter [Online video]. Retrieved December 4, 2010, from IMDB.

Lilley, R. (2010, December 5). 23 seals clubbed to death in New Zealand. In Yahoo! News. Retrieved December 5, 2010, from http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101206/ap_on_re_as/as_new_zealand_seals_clubbed

Staff. (2010, December). Snow emergency will be lifted Monday morning. In Wisconsin State Journal Online. Retrieved December 5, 2010, from http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/article_68a9c35a-00de-11e0-a143-001cc4c03286.html

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