Firstly I just want to apologise that this blog post is a day late. Just from the amount of people that visited the blog I’m guessing that some of you may have been looking for a new post and was left disappointed. Basically I spent the entire night waiting for an email and then a phone call… If everything works out well I’ll fill you in on this later.
When I first started thinking about this post, the only thing I had in my head was “It’s got to be positive!” and “I need to write about something happy!” and although I’m loving life at the moment I was struggling to come up with anything I thought that was happy and bubbly enough. As a writer this was very, very vexing. Nothing I’d done recently was particularly amazing or exciting, nor had any good news features caught my eye.
My swirl of thoughts eventually led me to question why? Why was I so suddenly transfixed on writing a positive post… something I’d never really thought about before now. Then I realised; I’d been brain-washed. Ok, maybe that’s a little bit dramatic, let me explain…
On the drive to and from work I had been listening to Radio 1; which just happened to be having an ‘online positivity week’ encouraging people to be nicer online. When I say ‘encouraging’ I mean the DJs had been ramming it down our throats rather than play any actual music. All week I had spent an hour a day being told by the radio to be positive online, and come Sunday I’m fretting I’m being too negative on the blog.
So instead of all rainbows and pink puppies, let’s step away from the positivity drive and look at how the media affects us. In reality we all probably consume more mass media than we know what to do with. From TV to Twitter, it is so easy and tempting to switch on and see what is going on in the world. In fact it’s very tempting, if I don’t check the news for a day I feel like I’m missing out… That some great world event is happening and that I haven’t been invited to the party.
If we getting right down into the nitty gritty, I think it can be argued that all of our decisions are based on the media in some way or another. When we go to the shop we might opt for carrots* instead of chips; because we are constantly told through the news that is the healthier option, or we may have found out through a blog or a magazine that a celebrity who’s legs we idealise subsist purely off carrots and credits them with their figure.
We may choose to bank with one firm over another because of news reports on its annual figures or look for a certain characteristic in a potential date because of a buzzfeed quiz.
As mostly logical creations, we base our decisions on fact. But what if the facts are not totally balanced?
Now then, we could probably pluck any tyrannical period from history – or at least you could, I’m not really up on all that. But I bet your last Rolo that media of its time played a part in it. Just to be a cliché when it comes to tyrants, we shall cast an eye over Hitler and Nazism. There are thousands of articles focusing on how propaganda played a part in dehumanizing the Jewish communities, leading to atrocities. The propaganda was mainly fed to its audience through the mediums of mass media.
If my memories of the American Literature segment of my degree is correct (be warned, they may not be) the rise of the KKK and the stereotype of the dark and dangerous man preying on the wholesome American girl came mainly to force after it was shown in cinema. Now some people may say that it has to be present before it is featured in a film, and that probably is true. However there is no denying that once the mass media picks an idea and repeats it across multiple channels (film/posters/books) the consumers of the media eventually begin to normalise the message. And what happens when something becomes normal? You become attached to it. If an idea is portrayed as normal, it is seen as being part of the culture, part of the people, part of you and me.
Which is a bit scary really.
70% of our news media outlets in the UK is owned by three companies. Yes, three. What happens if two of the companies were to join together in their interests? In this day and age we have the luxury of being able to access outside news sources, but that still doesn’t solve the problem for me. Call me paranoid, but the fact our lives revolve around decisions, which are based on the trust we place in three companies unsettles me slightly.
This video is a few years old now, it’s been floating around for a while and received lots of views but I think it’s still worth a mention and relevant to a blog post on this subject. It looks at how the mainstream media in America represents women and how it affects the young girls who consume it.
Now I’ve rambled on, what are your thoughts on this?
*Just kidding, nobody buys carrots – they are the worst.