Tuesday

Does media shape our society?

Based on the Reading by Alexander, A., & Hanson, J. (2009). Taking sides: Clashing views in mass media and society (10th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. 
Unit 1, Issue 1 "Are American Values Shaped by the Mass Media," 

We have grown to rely on communication by way of electronic media.  It is who we are now as a society.  Employers will before or after interviewing someone go to their Facebook profile to see there friends and if their personal life is “ethical.” Employers will also create Fan Pages to attract brand recognition and loyalty. 


After reading Shiller’s perspective on the media and how it has shaped our values; manipulation stood out to me.  He talks about manipulation as an art and science mixed together like coffee and cream.  I especially want to highlight the statement he made on manipulation... “The means of manipulation are many, but, clearly, control of the informational and ideational apparatus at all levels is essential.  This is secured by the operation of a simple rule of the market economy.  Ownership and control of the mass media, like all other forms of property, is available to those with capitol.” Pg 5 This statement alone changed my perspective of how we view media and what is made available for us to view.  When we live a passive, automatic life and we don’t question things most people just accept what is available as being normal.  In this respect media can aid in bringing us harm because it gives us an elusion of control and belonging which can shape our values, beliefs, and cultural norms.   Media Pluralism was also a topic that Shiller brought up that was intriguing because it is masterfully hidden if one is not looking for it.  Shiller says that choice and diversity, though separate concepts, are in fact inseparable; choice is unattainable in any real sense without diversity.  If real options are nonexistent, choosing is either meaningless or manipulative.  It is manipulative when accompanied by the illusion that the choice is meaningful. Pg 9-10 I find this to be true in my experience with detective shows.  I like to watch them all but they usually come on at the same time on different stations so I usually watch one and record the other because I can’t watch them both at the same time.  To turn the tables; for people who don’t like detective choices and don’t have cable the choices are really no choice at all.  It’s hard not to agree with Shiller; his argument is strong and still relevant.

After reading Horace Newcomb and Paul M. Hirsch perspective on media in our society; the liminal stage stood out to me.  Is his argument electronic media is used to produce another world; a place where we as “common sense” dwellers can go to be “bizarre.” He also suggests that electronic media acts as a cultural forum for things that as unspeakable to be voiced.  He made it clear that familiarity is economically beneficial for producers of these shows. Pg 18 I then asked; is this because we are an automatic, route routine society?  I don’t know the answer to this question; I am though encouraged by his argument that we do have an opinion in what the producers produce on television. 

Considering the readings I still don’t think that electronic media does more harm than good.  I agree with Shiller that manipulation takes place; but I also agree with Newcomb and Hirsch that we are critics and have a say.  Entertainment and a means for cultural forum gives us a place to go that is not home or work; this is an important part of life. How much is too much is hard to say.   I also think that television opens up possibilities. An example of this is when the series Star Trek first aired in September 1966.  The technology used in this show was amazing for it’s time and I believe was one thing that helped jumpstart our imagination for a society with technology.  Shortly after the airing of Star Trek, IBM and Apple was created and the computer was now not just in a liminal stage it was in our homes.  I will end by saying as we continue to use electronic media in our lives we should be aware of the manipulation but not so overpowered or intimated by it that we lose site of the joy of it.  We are emotional people and it’s in the balance of logic and emotion that we are most productive.

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