Sample Cause and Effect Essay on Media Effects on Society
Different media have projected various issues about our lives in various ways. It is no doubt that the opinion and the views of the public, especially the young children and preadolescents, can easily be swayed (or controlled) by manipulating the content on the various media artifacts. People's opinions can be shaped by what their views are on a certain issue. Children learn about fashion and accessories from television and movies at an early age and they start to imitate these. Also, aside from making the children aware of the things that are meant for the older people, the media also serves to instill certain images of things and ideas into their heads. For example, many television shows and movies tend to stereotype different groups, like some movies showing how typical teenagers act in schools or how every man in a turban and a beard is a terrorist. These stereotypes become ingrained in the children's minds and they tend to follow these stereotypes in their real lives.
Since there are many different kinds of media in the world and since different people prefer different media as their source of information, the choice of media and the way the issue of information security is presented in each media is very important in making decisions as well as shaping people's ideas and attitudes. Today, we are being bombarded with information coming from television, movies, radio, newspapers, magazine, and most of all, the internet. This means that we have so much information coming to us these days that it has become very hard for us to filter out the relevant information and to also differentiate what is right and truthful from what is wrong and untrue. We find that the youths are most affected by television and movies since they are visual media and almost everyone is exposed to the most because they are very easily available and provides the highest level of stimulation. Being so visually stimulating, it can also be derived that television and movies have a different kind of effect on the people. What the people watch on television would then work to shape determine the attitude that the public holds for or against various issues. Television and movies can work to provide us with the information that determines our attitudes towards that issue. For example, if programs on the television keep showing young children wearing makeup and fashionable clothes, and the children keep seeing the same images, views, and ideas, as they are enforced on related media such as magazines and the internet, it is very likely that they will start accepting and believing these ideas too. Similarly, television and movies can work to create many stereotypes (e.g. popular girls in high school being rich and fashionable) and these become ingrained in our minds because we are seeing them everywhere. Thus, images on the television and in movies causes people to form certain ideas, notions, attitudes, and stereotypes towards the people and events around them by presenting what its controllers want us to see and what might not necessarily be the truth.
One of the things that the television and movies cause us to do is to formulate stereotypes for people around us who are from various different social and cultural backgrounds. Television and films provide materials out of which we form our very identities. These have created our sense of what our selves mean to ourselves; how we feel about being a male or a female; which class, ethnicity and race, of nationality we belong to, and of our sexuality; and of “us” and “them.” Perhaps the most important misconception that one can derive from the media is that of the other cultures, and thus makes us form some misinterpreted and false assumptions about people who are from a different culture. It is by observing the media that we learn how to behave, and how to think, what to feel, believe and fear of people from other cultures. For example, most of the action movies depict a woman who is in trouble and a man comes to save her. This is a typical stereotyping of the gender, where the woman is depicted as the weaker sex who always needs help from a man to save her life.
We learn how to react to members of different social groups by learning from the media and its artifacts. For example, many television shows and movies have popularized on many occasions that African Americans are always good at sports. This is why whenever we see people playing, say, basketball, we automatically assume that the black athlete would be better than the white one. Similarly, many television shows, for example Speedy Gonzales, has portrayed the Mexicans to be a lazy. This has affected our perception of the Mexicans and we tend to think that all Mexicans are in fact lazy. Thus, it becomes very important how a certain group of people is portrayed in television and in the movies. This becomes their identity in the eyes of the society.
This is not to say that television shows and movies cannot be used for good. Many television shows and movie out there work for the sole purpose of providing and spreading information. These include channels like the Discovery Channel and the National Geographic, or documentary films about the various issues and events in our lives. This is the positive side of media, where it is being used responsibly and in a very focused and factual manner. Television is best viewed when it is giving news, not views. All the information that are contained in knowledge-based television and movies are mostly fact-based. This means that the public is given facts that they have the option to evaluate for themselves. This is very much unlike popular media that works to instill opinions and views into our heads.
Thus, another thing that television and movies do is that they instill many different ideas into us as they shape our attitudes and opinions towards various events or issues at hand. News on the television, if not relayed responsibly, can cause many problems. Take, for example, the Rodney King Trial. In the early 1990s, a few police officers were filmed beating up Rodney King and this filmed was released all over the media. This caused a lot of problems in the United States as riots erupted in many parts of the country. This is where the responsibility of television broadcasting kicks in. Some images can cause a lot of problems if they are not discreet.
We know that television and movies can have various effects on us, our lives, and our society. We must understand that much of what we see on television or in the movies are there in order for us to change our minds about certain views or opinions. What is this but social control? In the current era of globalization, we must all be aware of the different factor that go into the production of television and movies and their implications on the different cultures and sections of the society. The media culture of today does tend to support many capitalist values, by undermining the minority interests, and shows a strong effort that exists between different races, classes, gender, and social groups. We must fully understand and comprehend the nature and effects of the production techniques of the media artifacts and its effects on the certain group of people. We must look deeper into the lines and understand the media culture as to its working, and how it works to change our attitudes, preferences, and views, leading to a social control at the hand of the media.
The film industry has grown and evolved rapidly since its inception in the early 1900’s. Over the years, it has gained the attention of every culture in every part of the world. These days, thanks to Hollywood, it is instrumental in shaping the social culture by transforming the viewers’ opinions or swaying them one way or another. The idea that a film can have such an enormous impact on people can be difficult for some, however, this same impact can also be a great tool when used properly and for the right reasons.
Rise of the Giants
The roaring 1920’s gave us five major movie studios from the Hollywood area. These studios included Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Paramount, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and RKO Radio. Their growth gave rise to movie viewings and the overall popularity of this form of entertainment.
The question is, does such a sudden rise in the popularity of movies impact the viewers’ opinions around the world. Moreoever, why are movies considered to be a mass communication medium and in what ways? To answer the above questions, we need to examine a few areas.
The term ‘mass’ suggests great volume. It also refers to the extent and reception of messages/communication. Communication is where movies come into play. It entails understanding the meaning and receiving the message. Put together, mass communication is the distribution of an idea or message to a large number of people.
Films fit perfectly into this description. Just examining the revenues some of these movies generate attests to their popularity around the world. The movie Titanic holds the record as the world’s highest grossing movie at almost two billion dollars. There are many more movies that made close to the one billion dollars.
Films do have an impact on people. The tricky part is to understand why and how. One way of looking at movies as a medium of mass communication is to observe how they convey information.
Influence on Culture
Some movies portray historical events. These movies are like history lessons to the audience since they show something we were not able to witness or take part in. Consider war movies such as The Tuskegee Airmen and Memphis Belle. Though not one hundred percent accurate, both depict actual events of historical wars. They are examples of how movies can teach the newer generations about what their distant relatives did for their country.
Another type of informative movies describes the cultures and societies around the world. City of God is a prime example. These movies show the hardships that people in other countries face in their day-to-day lives.
Again, these are just two simple examples of how movies can be learning tools for a mass audience. Of course, the opposite can and often does happen as well. I am referring to the so-called ‘informative’ movies that present skewed information. When people accept the presented information as absolute truth, they form baseless opinions.
Advertising and Marketing
Movies also play an important role as advertising grounds Companies pay large sums of money for their product names to appear in movies. This form of advertisement is very popular and works because people see their favorite actors using these products and imitate them. Fans mimic their idols in how their dress, eat, even act.
Looking at a different aspect of how movies influence American culture, we look at the idea of violence used in movies. As time has gone on, we see violence appearing more often and more graphically within movies. This can have a huge influence on people in a couple different ways.
Life Imitating Art
A boy once had his friends bury him, head first, in a sand box to imitate something he had seen on an anime show. People, especially children, act out what they see. There have been other stories of children acting out violence they had seen movies leading to injuries and death.
Besides acting out, repeated graphically violent scenes lead to desensitization. Each year the media industry raises the bar of gore, abuse, and gun violence to shock the viewers. As violence becomes more common, children become more aggressive and desensitized to the images they see.
We have now seen both the positive and negative effects of movies on the society. Now let’s consider how the society affects a film’s cultural, ethical, social, and aesthetic values.
Creating a Culture
In order to appeal to the segment of the masses, filmmakers take the cultural value of that section of society into account. Take, for example, the teen movies.. These typically contain features such as conversations at the school lockers (Dazed and Confused), prom (Carrie), cheerleaders (Porky’s), the shopping mall (Mall Rats), the juvenile delinquent gang (Rebel without a Cause) and the sensitive, alienated teenage hero (Rebel).
Another place we see filmmakers influenced by the society is when they depict foreign cultures. For example, City of God tells the story of a lower class section of Rio de Janeiro. The filmmakers emotionally tied the American viewers to the movie by beautifully demonstrating the cultural values of the city.
Even ethical values came into play in the above movie. With a corrupt government and police system, people within this area grew up knowing that they could die at any point. They lived in a fear that we just do not understand.
Another example of how ethical values influence movies is the filmmakers’ take on greed or money. They make movies with rich characters, living perfect lives, like Richie Rich. Through the movie, the viewers can transport themselves into a fantasy. Conversely, certain movies may contain lessons about greed. In No Country For Old Men, the main character’s greed hurts him and his family.
In summary, movies have the capacity to influence society, both locally and globally. But the society, its trends, and people’s reactions to those trends influence the movies. In each case, the influence can be positive or negative.