A couple of weeks ago we had a discussion question presented in class that really got me thinking. The question was if our culture influences the media, or if media influences our culture. We couldn’t come to a complete side in class.
On the one hand the editors and directors of the media are people themselves so there for what they present to the people comes from the people and their culture. But on the other hand media has opened many people’s eyes to things that they might not have been exposed to otherwise. For example, African Americans for the first time seeing how white America lived through their television sets. Many have speculated that this was a great beginning to the Civil Rights Movement. Without the media blacks in America wouldn’t have had an idea of how the “other” side was living. Not saying that this was the only reason for the Civil Rights Movement, but this helped illustrate the divide in American homes.
More recently we watched a film that was a little dated but talked about the different depictions we get when we watch television and the effects that we have from them. The message talked bout mainly race and gender on television. Women were shown on television for every three men; the example was the sitcom Seinfeld. A poll was taken and showed that people that are heavier television viewers were more likely to vote against a women being in political office. The film also depicted that there were many shows depicting African Americans with well established and successful lives, when on the contrary the majority of African Americans don’t live like that at all. Shows like the Fresh Prince, and Family Matters were used to help illustrate this point. According to another poll heavy viewers believed that there was no longer a racial issue in America and therefore no need for affirmative action.
Obviously what is being presented with these shows isn’t correct to American culture and what the influence would be if what was being present was correct. There are still issues of conflict dealing with race in America.
Taking in consideration that the film was dated, there was recently a female candidate for president. So therefore many people are willing to vote for a woman in a major political office. Could this mean that the media is taking a step in the right direction of illustrating true diversity and the true culture in America? More recently there have been very diverse subjects in our media, exposing people to new things. There are more powerful women that we see on television and soon Disney will release the first black major cartoon film. But the question still stands on if our culture has been influenced by the media, or if the media has just been influences by our culture as people.