Thursday, August 5, 2010

Media influence on society

Hafiza Sadaf Mahmood

Mass media plays a crucial role in forming and reflecting public imagination, opinion, connecting the world to individuals and reproducing the self-image of society. In the last 50 years the media influence has grown exponentially with the advance of technology, first there was the telegraph, then the radio, the newspaper, magazines, television and now the internet.
Our society is centered on media, it is the most influential factor in constructing our culture, but is it a positive culture? If we examine the effect that media has on children, we can say that it breeds a harmful culture, one that throws values and morals out the window. This is because the media is profit driven and has developed its own code of ethics of "anything-goes". As a result, children are exposed to things that they should not necessarily be exposed to yet and as a result it rushes their mental development and in fact moulds their mentality. This is a scary fact because these children's minds are susceptible to the trickery of those who run the media. With the media luring in the children, they are able to sell their own value system to the kids through actors, cartoon characters, and even musicians who are puppets in the media's propaganda. They in turn tend to become role models to the kids and can influence the children and manipulate their behavior
The media have a strong social and cultural impact upon society. This is predicated upon their ability to reach a wide audience with a strong and influential message. Marshall McLuhan uses the phrase “the medium is the message” as a means of explaining how the distribution of a message can often be more important than content of the message itself. It is through the persuasiveness of media such as television, radio and print media that messages reach their target audiences. These have been influential media as they have been largely responsible for structuring people's daily lives and routines. Television broadcasting has a large amount of control over the content society watches and the times in which it is viewed. This is a distinguishing feature of traditional media which New media have challenged by altering the participation habits of the public.
Media strongly affects youth culture. The media executives are quick to defend their role in youth violence and bullying while selling millions of dollars in ads focused on youth. TV producers, network executives, motion picture companies and others in the media deny any impact of their programs on the attitudes and actions of youth. Meanwhile they continue to spend millions on special effects and marketing geared to increase appeal to youth markets. While corporations spend millions on market research and advertising to create products and campaigns targeted at a youth demographic, they still deny their ability to influence youth. If this were true to fact, would NIKE continue spending millions every year on product development, marketing and advertising? Would McDonalds still be using cartoon like characters to sell hamburgers? Would music labels be increasing the level of violence and sexual content in the music geared towards the youth audience? Would liquor companies be using youth oriented activities in their advertising? Of course it works on influencing youth and its ideals advertising would not be a multi-billion dollar a year business. If it had no influence, M-TV would not have consultant on staff spending huge amounts of money to ensure them keeping up with youth culture.

The internet creates a space for more diverse political opinions, social and cultural viewpoints and a heightened level of consumer participation.
They include licensing in advance;censorship of offending material before publication;seizure of offending material;injunctions against publication of a newspaper or book or of specified content;requirement of surety bonds against libel or other offense;compulsory disclosure of ownership and authority;post publication criminal penalties for objectionable matter;post publication collection of damages in a civil action;post publication correction of libel and other misstatements;discrimination in granting access to news source and facilities;discrimination and denial in the use of communications facilities for distribution;taxes;discriminatory subsidies;and interference with buying, reading and listening.
Media should encourage art, science and literature but it is focusing on astrology, rebirths, religious myths, beliefs and aliens. Now days almost every news channel telecast astrological programmes where an astrologer or some baba is sitting and predicting about deaths, marriages and relationships. The funny part is that sometimes statements made by each astrologer are contradictory which confuses the audience. Superstition and myths are also encouraged as recently in one of the news channel there was programme based on a tantrik who claimed that he can kill a person within three minutes. It was telecast but the action failed and to escape from humiliation the tantrik said that it can only be performed at night.

In the 2000s, Bollywood began influencing musical films in the Western world, and played a particularly instrumental role in the revival of the American musical film genre.Bollywood films are mostly musicals, and are expected to contain catchy music in the form of song-and-dance numbers woven into the script. A film's success often depends on the quality of such musical numbers. Indeed, a film's music is often released before the movie itself and helps increase the audience
The release of “Aja Nachle“ enthused a dance craze. The teenage crowd completely overshadowed us with their enviable knowledge of Indian songs and dance moves. One such enthusiast, 14 year-old-Faiza confessed “I enjoy Indian dramas and films especially the remixed songs.
Television is very influential when it comes to new trends and fashion. Peoples get in touch with all the new trends related to dresses and same kind of things because of this.
Programs like Kaun Banay Ga Crorepati, Tariq Aziz Show and many others are doing a good job by providing information in an entertaining way. The Public Service Messages on Television are really influential.
Most importantly, by reading columns, peoples learn a lot about writing. They admit that their creative writing is good because of reading books and news papers’ columns.
As Television is the most common and powerful media form that is why it has a number of negative influences. Some peoples really get impressed by new trends of fashion and they waste their money on those foolish things after watching them in any program or advertisements.
Wasting time on surfing different channels of Television is the biggest negative point of peoples. Some times, young girls get impressed by different beauty products just because of their eye capturing advertisement campaigns and then they often get allergy. Cross-promotions between food products and popular TV and movie characters encourage peoples to eat more high calorie food.
Some times young boys keep long hair and say, “it is fashion”, a very negative influence of media. Furthermore, the constant ambush of messages from the media especially Television to lose weight and to appear waif-like in order to meet society’s expectations of the ideal woman are possibly behind youngsters little eating.
The time youngsters spend using internet displaces time they could be doing physical activities. Whenever peoples get some time spare, they listen to Radio. Again, that time could have been used for any other useful activity.
These were just few examples of media influence but I think, they were enough to show that how convincing and influential media is. The growth of media as an industry has accelerated over the past few years with new forms such as DVD and the internet changing the way we, the audience, consume and receive media.So concluding this topic, I would say that it is up to us that how we consume media. It has both pros and cons but let us try to focus on positive points, not the negative ones.
What remains to be seen is how tomorrow's young adults will show the effects of growing up in a time of computers, Britney Spears and supremacy of Indian media. We may just end up paying a higher price than we bargained for. In the race to “Indianise“ our media, are we evolving with the times or burying our own heritage? Will we be successful in statue our own position eventually, or will the technologically know-how Indian industry usurp our culture and society?

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