Mass Media & Society December 8, 1999 COM 150 Final Exam Essay #5: In what ways, and to what extent, has television transformed modern American culture? How is it likely to impact America in the future? Spokesmen for the broadcast industry have taken the position that violence on television has had no effect on the behavior of the viewer. However, considering that television is an industry that sells commercial time with the specific intent to influence the viewer’s purchasing behavior. Both broadcasters and media activists have collected data on the number of violent acts portrayed during entertainment programming and effects of viewing television violence. More important, the industry conducted research and subscribed to rating systems to ascertain what people were watching. Numbers were most important because network and station revenues were not impacted by the effects of television, but by the numbers of people of a specific age range (market segment) who were watching television. As time went on, it became clear to media researchers that no single study points to television violence as a “cause” of aggressive or violent behavior, but that television is certainly a “contributing factor” to an individual’s aggressive behavior and to the problem of violence in American society.
Research has also pointed towards two other effects. They are developing insensibility to violence and an excessive fear of violence. According to Dr. George Gerbner, this is called the “mean world syndrome” where the viewer perceives the world as more violent that it actually is. In 1993, a law was passed that requires manufacturers to install a V-Chip in new television sets. But there are many doubts that it will make a big difference in children in society today.
Teenagers will find a way around it. Children will still see programs at the homes of other children. It will take years to get the V-chip installed in every television. The V-chip is a gimmick, and what about computer censorship? Children are on the computer almost as much as they are watching TV, how are we to control this factor also? America has been revolving its world around television for the last 40 years. It has had seem negative effects on society and children especially, but now how are we supposed to deal with the Internet? Web browsers like America Online have parental controls which can limit e-mail, control chat, instant message conversations, and more.
I think that this is getting to be almost as big as an issue as television. Modern American culture is made up of Briteny Spears, Ricky Martin, the GAP , and Pokemon. Children are growing up faster than normal and in the future who knows what will happen to innocence that children usually had until their mid-teens at least. For example, my cousin who is in the fifth grade, told me that one of her friends was telling people that she had unprotected sex without a condom and was pregnant at the age of 11. When I was 11, I don’t think I knew what sex really was, and that was only eight years ago.
Specialists may say that media and television isn’t effecting our world today, but then what is? What is our excuse for the increased violence in schools and shootings that seem to happen every couple of months? I remember in high school when some of the “bad” kids would get sent home for bringing a swiss army knife to school and I thought that was bad behavior. It makes me wonder how my kids are going to be in 10 or 15 years from now, and it scares me to death. Essay #4: If one morning you woke up and found that somehow you had been transformed into Bill Clinton and could propose Congress federal legislation to change the regulation of any mass media, what would (or wouldn’t) you do, and why? What would the manifest effects be? What latent effects might also occur? Even though I just wrote an essay on how violence on television effects the behavior of people, I don’t know what else can be done to prevent it. Broadcasters aren’t going to take their multi-million dollar industries off the air just because some analysts have said that it effects society in a negative way. Besides, what do they care as long as they are making money? Parental controls work to an extent, but its not enough.
If I were President, I would propose a law for more censorship on the Internet. It is definitely something that we can control and it is a debate that has been fought over within the last few years. I do not know any parents that want their children to have access to pornography and nudity for free, and more shockingly, in their own home. The idea that people are against this is absolutely absurd in my opinion. Maybe in some technical ways censorship is not right, but there is a time to draw the line when it comes to children.
There are arguments that it is legal to print pornography so how could it be illegal to be online. Who is writing these types of things? The people running the sleazy internet sex companies? The act that is currently being proposed is the Decency Act. The Decency Act stands for the premise that it is wrong to provide pornography to children on computers just as it is wrong to do it on a street corner or anywhere else,” stated senator Jim Exxon, who is in favor of this law to pass through. Adult oriented web sites such as the Playboy web site prompted organizations such as Enough is Enough, a non-profit, non-partisan women’s organization, to lobby Congress for legislation protecting their children from adult oriented content. Bills such as The Protection of Children from Computer Pornography Act of 1995 (PCCPA) began to appear before the House and Senate.
The Internet is unlike any information medium in history. Though there are many similarities between the Internet and other means of communications, the free flow of information that the Internet provides makes it a completely unprecedented information medium. Unlike television and radio, the Internet affords users the capacity to access information beyond just a channel-changer with only a limited number of stations. The capacity of the Internet is only limited by those who do not use it. Unlike traditional print media like the newspaper, the Internet is relatively cheap and widely accessible.
With a computer, network connection, and the proper software, anybody can become a web publisher. There is virtually no limit to how much content can be published on the Internet, whereas newspapers are limited by physical costs such as the cost of paper. The Internet is truly an unprecedented information medium. Under Texas law, it is a felony to knowingly possess pornographic pictures, videos, slides, or negatives featuring minors. It is also a misdemeanor to promote or possess obscene material, which is defined as patently offensive sexual acts, normal or perverted, actual, or simulated.
So what happens when Texans access pornographic web sites? Are they all committing misdemeanors? Something needs to be done about this issue. Although it may be many years before a conclusion is made, there are two very dogmatic groups involved and it is going to be a war against the media yet again. Essay #6: If tomorrow Bill Gates gave you $20,000,000 to spend on any of the mass media to improve our society what would you do? Personally, I would leave the country with the money and move to Italy. But that could take pages and pages to write about. So I would use the money to create programs that would help kids fight the “war” against violence on television.
This issue is something I feel very strong about, so I think that it should be dealt with in a much more serious way than a lot of people may think. Some facts on media violence on the American family are stunning when I conducted research on the topic. 54% of U.S. children have a television in their bedroom. The average child spends 28 hours a week watching television. The average American will witness over 200,000 acts of violence on television including 16,000 murders before the age of 18! Americans even choose restrictions on television violence over gun control! If this isn’t an issue today than our society is on a downhill slope to nowhere.
The money given may not accomplish everything I would want it to, but I would make programs such as letting kids be aware that violence on television is not real and that people do not do those kind of things on a daily basis. We need to educate children and almost brainwash them the way the television does by telling them to go out and play sports, play tag or read a book. A BOOK! Most kids think books are things you need to read at school. What they need to learn is that in order to learn, reading will get you to where you want. My cousin, the one with the “pregnant” friend, she is a student in a Center City grade school.
She watched “The Man In the Iron Mask” in school last week. For some reason I remember Leonardo making love in the movie and I am pretty sure that it is rated PG-13. If this means that our schools are promoting this, then we need all the funds we can get to help prevent this type of material to be sent out to young undeveloped minds. Some people do not realize that children are left to watch whatever they want on television, let alone what they are watching in school. Creating a program with 20 million dollars might not save the world but, if it would effect just a small part of today’s children, that is enough for me. Films and Cinema.