Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Media, especially TV is a powerful agent of socialization.


Here is the group activity that we are working on today.  Please read the post below and answer the questions on your discussion sheet as a group.

By watching the documentary Consuming Kids and doing the The Un-TV experiment, I hope you became more aware of how the media impacts you.

Part I. First, discuss the Consuming Kids video.  Hopefully, the Consuming Kids video helped illustrate the socialization messages that TV has for us and the reality that it is more like a two-faced back stabber than a friend. Below is the trailer for Consuming Kids. But you can see the whole video by clicking here and logging into mediacast, or in parts at youtube and find more info on the Media Ed website.
video
Part II. The Un-TV experiment.  Hopefully you were really able to experience this experiment. If you did, you may have noticed the mindless trance that TV creates. You may also have seen that TV is in its essence quite boring and so it uses technical events as well as tv's own message that you should believe it is entertaining and exciting. Regarding the news on television, it is really one more entertainment program that presents itself as news. Very little of the news is actual news (in the sense that it is information that you need to know). See this post about headlines that you won't see in the news. Furthermore, the news is there to give you a sense that it is important. Here is a video making fun of the typical news magazine story. Isn't that funny? How true is that? Another one that is pretty funny, though politically charged is comedian Lewis Black's critique of Glenn Beck.

Besides the "news" TV is interspersed with a message to you to be a consumer and a conformer.  It is also produced so that as a viewer you don't question what you are doing, certainly not while you are watching the TV.  The TV is in many ways like a good friend of ours waiting for us in our living room. It's there with us giving us the feeling that we are connected and engaged to society, when the reality is exactly the opposite.

Part III.  Quizzes.  And if you are skeptical that you have been socialized by the media, try playing one of the corporate logo games here. See how much you have been influenced.  Or try this quiz of tv show theme songs.Or this quiz from sporcle for commercial jingles.  Or this commercial jingle quiz from business insider.  What is interesting to me is that none of us ever consciously tried to learn the logos or the theme songs and jingles, but we know so many of them.  TV influences us without us realizing it.

Part IV. FIJI.  Even more evidence of the powerful force the TV has on us comes from the small Pacific island of Fiji. Ann Becker studied Fijian norms before the island was able to get satellite TV. After getting satellite TV, in a very short time period, just a few years, the island had reversed its norms and was now experiencing the body dysmorphic disorders of the United States. Here is one summary from Harvard. And Here is one from the NY Times. Here is an excerpt:
'You've gained weight'' is a traditional compliment in Fiji, anthropologists say. In accordance with traditional culture in the South Pacific nation, dinner guests are expected to eat as much as possible. A robust, nicely rounded body is the norm for men and women. ''Skinny legs'' is a major insult. And ''going thin,'' the Fijian term for losing a noticeable amount of weight, is considered a worrisome condition. But all that may be changing, now that Heather Locklear has arrived. Just a few years after the introduction of television to a province of Fiji's main island, Viti Levu, eating disorders -- once virtually unheard of there -- are on the rise among girls, according to a study presented yesterday at the American Psychiatric Association meetings in Washington. Young girls dream of looking not like their mothers and aunts, but like the slender stars of ''Melrose Place'' and ''Beverly Hills 90210.'' ''I'm very heavy,'' one Fijian adolescent lamented during an interview with researchers led by Dr. Anne E. Becker, director of research at the Harvard Eating Disorders Center of Harvard Medical School, who investigated shifts in body image and eating practices in Fiji over a three-year period.
Here is a poster called "What are you missing?" from Media Ed.

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