Why does the media always get the blame? Why do we seem to make excuses for certain situations in our society by simply putting the media at fault? Time for some Media Mythbusting!
Firstly, it is quite obvious and prevalent in society that the media definitely influences people’s fears and effects their behaviours. Media has caused anxiety in society for a very long time, since the 19th century even. This is mainly due to the introduction of ‘mass media’, it allows the media to be released to the mass (the audience). The first gateway of mass media dates back to when the very first steam printing press was created. Media anxiety comes from many strands of media such as Literature, film etc. For example the Slasher flick ’Wolf Creek’ created great anxiety for young travellers to hitchhike in remote and isolated areas. It also added to the international concern of travelling in the “already dangerous” Australian Outback. These examples of media effects don’t only cause anxiety for young travellers but also for many societal groups such as children, uneducated people and women. The media(sender) may not intend to send a negative message, but the audience(receiver) may decode the message in a different way and absorb it negatively, thus creating negative media effect. This is where the ‘Cultivation theory’ by George Gerbner comes into discussion. It’s basically “the theory that television can cultivate our perception of reality“.
Furthermore, the question ’What’s wrong with the media effects model’? is explained throughly by David Gauntlett in the reading this week ‘Ten things wrong with the effects model’. Gauntlett strongly puts forward his belief that the effects model is somewhat manufactured, artificial and inadequate. An example of this is the ’bobo doll experiment’ in 1961 by Albert Bandura. Sure the children committed violent acts on a doll after watching a person on the television hitting the doll senselessly, but does this explain why the children copied the act? All Bandura wants to convey is the simple saying ‘Monkey see, monkey do’ in an attempt to get the mass audience to believe that letting children watch violent acts will make them commit the same. The experiment does not explain the child’s upbringing or personality and just brashly concludes that just one viewing of violence can create little psychopaths! This is where Gauntlett shows how artificial the effects model is, and how researchers essentially blame the media before societal factors, plus treat children as an inadequate breed.
But more importantly, ask yourself these questions. Why do we think the media never affects ourselves? Why do we make other people’s decisions on their behalf? Why are they allowed to not watch violent programs but we are? Why do we always start the blame with the media? Why don’t we look into the society where the problem lives and address that primarily?