Senior Thesis Paper

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Jasmine McMillan

Visual and audial techniques in the media are used as propaganda to promote desensitization to unwholesome ideas.

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Is seeing really believing? Can we trust everything we hear and see? The average American is exposed, on a daily basis, to television, radio, movies, music, newspapers, magazines, and other media. These things may seem harmless at face value but, with a more in-depth look, their dangerous intent can be seen. All media educates by teaching viewers not only “facts” but behaviors and standards as well.

The flow of information worldwide is controlled by an ever-shrinking number of transnational media corporations which are led by a handful of giant businesses. (Lasn, 186) These corporations have the power to influence the subconscious minds of viewers by use of subliminal messages. A subliminal message is a signal or message embedded in another medium and designed to pass below the normal limits of human perception. These messages are undetectable by the conscious mind and, in certain situations, can affect both the subconscious mind and the unconscious mind. They can negatively or positively influence subsequent thoughts, behaviors, actions, and attitudes, as well as belief and value systems. Visual techniques in the media are subliminally used as propaganda to promote desensitization to unwholesome ideas.

In America, our major sources of communication come from only a handful of large media corporations which control information disseminated by mainstream media. When these media groups have this level of control, honest information and cultural diversity can plummet. (Lasn, 25) Culture isn’t created from the bottom up by the people anymore – it’s fed to us top-down by corporations. (Lasn, 189) Pop culture, which is heavily influenced by mass media, permeates everyday society and it has the ability to determine what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

The number of corporations owning the majority of U.S. media outlets went from 50 to 5 in less than 20 years. (VC, 10) The five corporations influencing the world are AOL Time Warner, Viacom, The Walt Disney Company, Vivendi Universal, and Sony. Through a series of media mergers and buyouts, these companies have become more powerful and profitable, and better able to reach larger audiences. It is unlikely that any media-consuming American has escaped the influence of multiple inputs from the big corporations. (McCall, 123) This consolidation of media corporations has produced a standardization of the cultural industry. (VC, 9) Each media corporation owns multiple television networks, movie and video production companies, internet services, radio networks, magazines, and newspapers. The Walt Disney Company, for example, owns Disneyland and Walt Disney World, Hollywood Records, The ABC Network, The History Channel, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, and 27 radio stations. The five corporations are able to control messages from development through delivery. (McCall, 123) Media innovator, Ted Turner, recently commented on the dangers of big media corporations controlling so many studios, outlets, and Internet sites. “Big media today wants to own the faucet, pipeline, water, and the reservoir...” (McCall, 124)

Corporations have no heart, no soul, and no morals because they’re just processes – efficient ways of generating revenue. (Lasn, 157) Their central theme is to divide and conquer. Their goal is to create confusion among citizens and to dumb down the public by educating impressionable people. (West, 1) Walter Lippmann, an American intellectual, author, journalist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, wrote one of the first works concerning the corporations’ usage of mass media in America. In Public Opinion (1992), Lippmann compared the masses to a “great beast” and a “bewildered herd” that needed to be guided by a governing class. He described the ruling elite as a “specialized class whose interests reach beyond the...
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