Pop culture and the media has firmly imbedded itself into the mindset of today’s society resulting in people emulating and interpreting as hard fact everything that they see and hear through TV, magazines or radio. This is due to the fact that popular media has becomes a window into the rest of the world for most people because of its availability, entertaining qualities and popularity with a majority of ones pears. This has caused a mindset to develop wherein individuals believe that what they see in the media and what is being espoused in popular culture is what they should be like.
As a result what has been created is a culture of emulation wherein people dress like what they see on T. V. and in magazines, act the same way as their idols, develop systems of beliefs based on what they perceive to be the norm and finally go so far as to change their very bodies all in an effort to become what they perceive to be the way they should be as dictated by pop culture and the media. The novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a depiction of the end result of a cultural attitude of relying too much on popular media as source of information in ones daily life.
It portrays a dystopian society where books are illegal and people get all their information from TV or the radio shows resulting in a society where no new ideas are created and suffers from a distinct lack of being able to learn from its mistakes or to think for itself. Compared to today’s media based society where people have become increasingly reliant on popular media in the form of TV and radio to nearly the verge of addiction the future described by Bradbury doesn’t seem far off.
What this paper will seek to examine is the positive and negative effects of popular media on society and how it effects the behavior of society in general. Positive effects of pop culture and the media Cultural Understanding Popular culture and the media has given rise to an assortment of cultural attitudes adopted by different cultures around which are distinctly American. As a result cultures and societies which normally wouldn’t have anything to do with the U. S. all of sudden have adopted American customs as their own due the influence of pop culture and the media.
This has resulted in the spread of the English language, the creations of a distinct appreciation of the American movie industry as well as a growing dependence on American programming as way to pass the time. Through mass media people have been connected in a way that hasn’t been present since the start of civilization. Movie stars have fans in the millions, along with various TV actors and music artists. It has come to a point wherein American pop culture has an almost religious following in the form of the numerous fans who idolize American stars (Hollander 2010).
Growth of American business Pop culture and mass media is an ever growing industry brining in hundreds of billions of dollars in annual earnings. In the form of advertising deals, satellite TV fees, merchandising and other forms of money making schemes generated by the industry. As a result the pop culture of American is actually helping to support the U. S. economy since not only are there people willing to buy products that they see on TV or in magazines in the U. S. but there are foreign buyers as well who are just as adamant in buying these products, if not more so (Hollander 2010) .
Negative Effects of Media Creation of a materialistic culture Due to the obsession of the public over what they see in magazines and TV the result has been a culture that is obsessed over brand name goods, unique gadgets or anything that their idols on TV are shown to be using whether it be a brand of water or a type of earring the general public becomes so obsessed with trying to look like them that they spend thousands of dollars doing so. No where is this more obvious that with the brand of shoe wear Nike.
In order to get specific shoe models like the Air Jordans or other such version associated with a famous star a lot of shoe aficionados are willing to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars just to collect items that for them are associated with a famous individual. This is due to the proliferation of commercials portraying their stars using these sort of products which results in people buying just for the sake of being more like their idols even if the product is grossly overpriced and overrated.
Not only that but people in the process of buying these products develop huge credit card debt because of another development of pop culture namely the use of the credit card wherein instead of waiting and saving to obtain a certain product people satiate their immediate desires by using a credit card with its “buy now pay later” attractiveness. Which unfortunately has resulted in a attitude of bad spending and debt as a result of the America’s credit card culture. Creation of a TV centric culture
Pop culture and the media has created a culture literally obsessed with televisions. Individuals spend hours on end watching TV and not moving from a single spot. This is due to the fact that a lot of shows are so entertaining and geared toward keeping an audience riveted in their seats that few people have the inclination to do otherwise. It is due to this that most people prefer watching TV than reading books or even going out for regular exercise resulting in a rise in the number of cases of people being overweight or even being obese due to lack of exercise.
Not only that but a slow mental deterioration has occurred with a percentage of the population since instead of books they prefer the convenience of televisions resulting in a population that is actually more insular and less prone to new ideas and concepts as a result of this preference of TV over books. Effects on Society Development of Stereotypes Since popular forms of media such as TV, magazines and radio are thought of as windows to the world most individuals believe that the cultural connotations and the portrayal of individual ethnicities in TV programs as well as their unique characterizations are based on reality.
The truth is that most of what is being portrayed is meant to entertain and amuse and audience and not be taken as hard fact. The end result is truth blended with fiction to such an extent that the distinction between the two is blurred and results in false impressions and perceptions. These impressions can cause a negative impact on how a particular ethnic group is thought of in reality. In movies and television series different ethnic groups always seem to have a generic characterization of the way that their particular race is suppose to act.
This has resulted in a situation wherein these ethnic groups are rarely seen as anything else even outside of realm of media and popular culture. An example of this sort of perception is the characterization of African Americans in movies and programs. They are shown as loving to wear expensive jewelry, oversized clothes, have gold plated teeth or that nearly all of them are related to gang affiliated violence, have tattoos prominently placed on enjoy sporting shaved heads (Associated Content 2010).
In reality this particular perception may not be true at all as evidenced by the current U. S. President who is an African American and does not seem to conform to the image portrayed by the media as what a black person is like. Unfortunately due to their portrayal in the media black Americans are often thought of as having criminal tendencies and being inherently violent with no actual basis on this perception aside from what is in the entertainment industry.
Another ethnic group that is often maligned in movies and television shows are Asians. They are commonly associated as possessing the distinct inability to be understood, having a distinct inability in speaking the English language, are in possession of strange accents and strange association with all Asians as being of Chinese origin. As a result of their portrayal in popular media discrepancies occur in what people believe Asians to be and how they really are.
Image Issues The power of the media is such that people are easily influenced by what they see. They choose to emulate even when that emulation leads to disastrous consequences. For adolescents the idea of what it means to beautiful is based upon their impressions of what is being portrayed by the media, these days the image that the media has been espousing is the idea that being thin equates to being beautiful.
This is shown through the numerous commercial, magazine and billboard models who are all nearly stick thin and shallow faced. This has led to today’s popular notion that “being thin is in” resulting in the numerous cases of eating disorders of adolescents who are desperate to look thin in order to appear beautiful in other people’s eyes (Kendrick 2008). The popularity of dieting is such that based on studies that have been conducted nine out of 10 people have tried dieting in the past in order to lose weight.
This obsession with dieting is due to constant references to it via popular media either through magazine articles, sitcom characters and even models quoted during interviews. It is a fact that the media has created the concept that in order for women to attract men they have to be beautiful and since the idea being popularized by the media is that being thin makes you look beautiful a lot of women wind up dieting in order to conform to this image of beauty to attract a potential partner (Perez – Cueto 2009).
The media through its proliferation of programs, advertisements and articles that portray thin women as being beautiful and popular is definitely at fault for the growing number of adolescents who have been affected by eating disorders. Adolescents are at the age wherein they are easily influenced by whatever they see and hear. This results that they possess the need to be accepted by others and feel like they are needed.
With the media showing that being thin means being popular and well accepted it is no wonder that cases of adolescent anorexia have risen. Conclusion While American pop culture and mass media does have a good side since it does support the proliferation of the American culture to other societies around the world the advantages do not outweigh the disadvantages. Mass media has actually caused a devolution in the way people think since they prefer the mind numbing effects of television than that of mental stimulation from books.
That through the spread of popular culture misconceptions arose about the different ethnic groups out there which people believe as the truth due to their reliance on popular media. That people have been becoming lazier, more easily influenced and more likely to cause irreparable damage to their bodies due the influences that have affected their minds. In the end American pop culture and mass media while being immensely popular is also a source of immense deterioration of the common sense and intellect of society.