Values Portrayed in Popular Media
ENG 122: English Composition II
Instructor Mary Harmon
March 12, 2012
The mass media plays a key role in today’s society. From the young to the old, most everyone relies upon some form of popular media for entertainment, information, communication and education. Additionally, a large part of our beliefs, values and knowledge are gained through some type of popular media. The numerous sources of media in use today make it close to impossible to avoid being exposed to its content. Whether it be newspapers, television, radio, magazines, video games, Internet or one of the many other sources, there is no doubt that the media is everywhere. Furthermore, when something is everywhere, it is certain to have influential effects. If these conditions are accepted as true, then, concluding that the popular media must have influential effects on society, must also be accepted as true. Indeed, society is greatly influenced by the media, specifically, by the values that are being portrayed. Moreover, children/adolescent teens (youth), ages 8 – 17, are the group in society most significantly influenced by media content. It is in this age range that finding individuality and a sense of belonging, or fitting in, is of utmost importance. A youth’s development is effected by what they see and hear, as well as, peer pressure. From eating disorders, behavior issues and self-doubt to teen pregnancy (sex), drugs, alcohol, smoking, and even death, the media’s portrayal of values through TV, magazines, music, and video games can have potentially devastating effects, both physically and mentally on a child. Even though the media can be a positive influence on society, for instance, by keeping society informed in a crisis situation, such as natural disasters, action needs to be taken to protect our youth by reducing the negative influences resulting from immoral and unethical media content. To begin with, the media’s portrayal of the “ideal” female (or male) depicted on TV, in magazines, and in music videos, are causing children to go to extremes in order to fit the ideals fed to them by various media sources. According to the A.C. Nielson Co., the number of 30 second TV commercials seen by a child in a year is 20,000 (Herr, 2007). Research indicates that teen magazines promote the message of perfection by portraying models with perfect features, such as, eyes, teeth, hair and bodies. To adolescent teens, the message depicts the” ideals of thinness presented in seemingly attainable fashion” (Chow, 2004). There are multiple factors that contribute to the cause of eating disorders; one of which are socio-cultural factors which include family, peers and the media (Almond, 2000). In addition, research revealed that “exposure to thin models in magazines induced depression, stress, guilt, shame, insecurities and body dissatisfaction in females” (Chow, 2004). Indeed, the conducted research shows that adolescents are influenced by print ad media. It is true, “Women (and Teenagers) don’t set out to be anorexic, they begin by thinking they’re too fat because everywhere they go the media is telling them that they are right” (Almond, 2000). In turn, a teen’s quest to become “idealistic” can have serious effects on their health. The print media targeted towards adolescent teens take advantage of their impressionable age. While, not all teens fall prey to the tactics used by the media, some will go to any lengths to achieve what the media has projected upon them. As a result, they subject their young, immature bodies to cosmetic surgery and extreme dieting, ultimately, making themselves vulnerable to anorexia, bulimia, and death. Next, there is a growing concern over adolescent’s suffering behavioral effects from exposure to violent and sexual content contained in popular adolescent music lyrics, music videos, and video games. In an article analyzing the effects of video game content on youth...
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