The Effects of Television on American Citizens

When researching the affects that television and advertising have on us citizens of America, it would be impossible to rule out these forms of media as key opportunities for media companies to attract viewers. The world today is surrounded by commercialism in multiple forms, which affects virtually every person at one point or another throughout the day. It is nearly impossible to shelter yourself from the millions of advertisements, meanings of television programs, and meanings of movies and other source of media. In order to understand the meaning of what the communication researchers and media researchers are looking at, one must look beyond the surface of the television’s purpose to uncover the hidden messages within the numerous outlets that the TV offers.

Take for instance, the article “On the Social Effects of Television,” written by James D. Halloran. This article deals with how the television effects citizen’s social abilities and takes a glimpse at how the television acts as a powerful force in our culture today. Halloran states, “Some people still write and talk about television as a powerful direct influence and of its tremendous potential for good and evil.” This statement provides much truth to what the television has done to our society in terms of affecting violence and the whole false sense of reality. Halloran also says how one of the dangers of today is that so much attention is given to factors that we are in danger of neglecting what should always be central to the Communications field, the medium of television itself.

In the views of American experience over the years, it could be argued that we do not require research in order to teach lessons to citizens, however it is worth it to emphasize certain public figures of today’s society. You also have to look into the attitudes of people, even though the American people may feel hostile towards an idea or image, it is still worth it to show them what the world has to offer, and many times the only way to do so is through the television. It is essential to present social issues on television in order to make it clear the differences between information and change in attitudes, and knowledge. Even if one believes that television doesn’t influence us like some believe, it must be recognized that influences can have many forms. We cannot only limit ourselves to what forms of influence we allow ourselves to take in, influences come in all shapes and sizes, even the television.

When analyzing the impact of television, one must take the time to look at specific segments of the influencer, such as the power of images in television. After looking at the article, “The Power of The Image,” by Annette Kuhn, one realizes that the feminist movement is helping the women population and is raising interest and disgust in the way that females are portrayed on television. Unfortunately, the television is one area where women are still not receiving equal rights when it comes to their personalities, intellect, and power in the corporate world. However, on the contrary, women are using their knowledge to their use in order to allow people to understand their lives. With the feminist activists and the strong representation of females, the odds seem to be rising and women seem to be gaining speed in the world of TV. The Twentieth Century has brought about a new wave of Western feminism that has distinguished itself from other social and political movements in several valid and important aspects, however television still ‘uses’ the female to gain ground in terms of programming and ratings.

The second part of Kuhn’s article explains the critiques of stereotypical representations of women in advertisements and films, and the studies of how their language both defines and confines the female population. Take for instance a program that aired for BBC entitled Ways of Seeing. This program dealt with the female being nude, both in the European art tradition, and mass production photographs. This program dealt with looking at the female body as a commodity, in other words objects that are bought and sold, which encompasses exchange value. Unfortunately, humans are constructed by the ideas of society, and society affects our thinking of the world, even if it is a negative aspect, we still look at it as naturalized. Basically, the meanings of our culture and who we are do not lie in images; they lie in the representation of the spectators and the way our societies form.

In order to understand the meanings of television and the underlying representations that particular television programs portray, one must look at the different codes that television uses in order to get across messages and attitudes. After reading “The Codes of Television” by John Fiske, one realizes that the different levels that programs follow are the basis for all of TV. The first level of television deals with reality, and states that these attributes include appearance of actors, dress, make-up, environment, behavior, speech, expression, sound, etc. In today’s society viewers focus so much on the materialistic values and attributes that people in the television business encompass. Let’s face it, the people of society would much rather watch a program with actors that are attractive and take an active role to make their overall appearance appeal to the audience.

The second level deals with representation of the camera, lighting, editing, music, and sound. Many times a simple movement of the camera grabs the attention of a viewer and lures them into what they are watching. You have to consider the framing, focus, distance and movement when looking at the camera. All of these attributes help to promote the image and meaning of the programs on television. Take for instance; the camera distance is used in order to persuade our sympathies away from a villain and to pay attention to the hero of a program. Another instance of the camera deals with extreme close-ups of people. This shot can be damaging when an interview is scripted and the cameraman is instructed to pull tightly in on the interviewee’s face at the toughest question. As for the lighting, editing, and music, all these items affect the way television programs are portrayed. Depending on the tonality of the music, the viewers either are in fear or have happiness or are left in suspicion, all because of simple musical pieces. Lastly, the casting of characters affects the whole production itself. The actors who are cast in order to play roles are not only figures that are encoded by our social codes, but also are media figures at the same time. They bring with them meanings from fan magazines, show biz gossip, and television criticism.

The third level of television codes deals with the ideology behind television itself. These ideas are formed into coherence and social acceptability as a result of individualism, patriarchy, race, class, materialism, and capitalism to name a few. The reading position of television points to the social point when the mix of televisual, social, and ideological codes come together to form coherent images and messages that make sense to the viewers. In other words, we take part in the same practices that are personified on television and we are maintaining the dominant ideology ourselves. Our reward for this pleasure is the adequacy of the familiarity with these situations and ideas. The ideological practice of television is working very hard in order to be better narrators for different devices. One example that television often promotes is the feminisms of women in society, also referred to as their “domestic discourse.”

On top television codes, the social aspects behind the production of the news affect viewers of all stations. In the article, “The Social Production of News,” the authors discuss how the media does not just simply report events which are naturally newsworthy, but news is the end product of a very complex process. One aspect of the news structure deals with newspapers with regards to the regular types of news. Since newspapers are dedicated to producing news on a regular basis, the organization process and factors affect what news is selected for the paper itself.

There are two aspects in terms of the social production of news. The first one is the bureaucratic organization of the media, which in turn produces certain types and the structure for which news values rank particular stories. The other aspect deals with the moment of the construction of the actual news story, which is just as important but less obvious than the bureaucratic organization. The construction involves the presentation of the material to the assumed audience that the material is chosen. The events must be identified so that the framework of meanings and events are familiar to the audience. Basically, ideas and stories are newsworthy because they represent a changing and unpredictable nature with the conflict of nature in society today. We all represent and belong to basically the same culture, which allows for writers to follow the same central value system. In conclusion, the major social, political, and legal institutions of society are never absent from the news. Reporters take the time to report on issues that are subject to economic and legal problems, however they have to focus on the dominant social issues of culture and report news to the people of the world.

When looking at young people, it is no surprise to advertisers that they are the easiest and most influenced group of people to target. The article “Discriminating or Duped? Young People As Consumers of Advertising/Art,” focuses on Paul Willis’ provision for young people. The Enquiry was first promoted for the recognition that most young people see the arts as a remote and institutional, not part of everyday life. Art is what young people are forced to do in school; they don’t attend the preservation of the art galleries, theatres, and concert halls. The image of young people and advertising is not the one that circulates the most frequently though. Basically society is influenced by work of culture. However, advertisers manipulate people more than they think or allow themselves to think about the fact.

Large efforts are being made to channel our habits of purchasing of products and our thought processes’. However, there is still a more demanding view of youth than what is held by the advertisers themselves. The young people have a unique mystery of how the commercial grammar affects them and what the commercial groups stand for. Advertisers work hard in order to capture the young’s discerning views to with their esteem. These advertisements are most likely to appeal to a certain sect of a population with the most developed analytical skills, the young regardless of the suitability of the product.
When looking to Advertising, one must look at how the marketers appeal to the audiences and what there true purpose of the programming selections and so fourth are in terms of advertising. According to this article, “The people making television are programming not just their fall lineups; they’re programming us.” Over the past years, the advertisers use sophistication in which they package and deliver their messages to the viewers. It almost seems as if the marketers are in a race with their potential consumers. The youth of today have been inundated with the commercial media and advertisements since the day they were born.

One way that advertisers guarantee the quality of their products is through branding not only their products, but in tern branding the people as well. The advertisers use specific images, logos, words, and other things to make the people realize and become familiar with the quality items they are purchasing. An example of this would be, when you go to buy oatmeal, you can look for the Quaker Oats man and realize that this product has a high quality and is well known. However, there is no way to tell if this product promotes high quality oats, but this is the image that has been pounded into our minds from the advertisers. Advertisers also take the opportunity to advertise in dramas and other sitcoms. Through advertising a product as simple as a Dell computer or something of that sort, the viewers of the program are enticed to purchase the products that are used in the particular show in order to feel as if they too encompass whatever their favorite drama or sitcom on television might be.

All in all, the media and television affect us in numerous ways. Between advertising, news, soap operas, art, they all effect the interpretation of the images and meanings that the media portrays to society. Whether society fesses up to the impact the television and the different entities that affect the overall meaning of it, is unknown, however the television and other forms of media will continue to affect human culture until the day we die or the television no longer exists. Culture has the ability to ignore images, but with the inundation of the media and the advertisers, in today’s world that is an impossible fete. The most we can do is make ourselves aware of how the media affects culture and understand that when we watch a television program or advertisement, that there is a deeper meaning that what appears on the surface.

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