Last Updated 21 Apr 2020

Are media evils?

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The mixture – that mixture of visual and aural information so ubiquitous in modern society – has been blamed for a myriad of problems. These problems range from social ills such as moral degradation in society, to more individual-specific maladies, such as introverted-ness and violence amongst teenagers. However, proponents of the evils of the media at times overstate the facts, blowing minor maladies out of proportion. The extent to which this occurs is still up for debate; the media may yet be fully culpable for that which it has been blamed for.

Firstly, the media has been blamed for causing violence, or aggressive behavior amongst youths, ostensibly because of the rampant images of celebratory violence and wanton aggression shown to the general public through various mediums such as television and cinema. In James P. Steyer’s book, “The Other Parent”, he blames commercialized violence for the rising crime rate in America, basing his assertions on interviews with children and trends in violence over the years. However, such assertions cannot explain the results of a comparison between the United States and Canada.

In a heavily publicised example in the movie “Bowling for Columbine”, a comparison between the two countries showed that even though violence on television in Canada was just as graphic and rampant as in the United States, the violent crime rate in Canada – even amongst youths – was still lower. Furthermore, there are other factors which might cause an increase in violent activity amongst youths such as the rise in the number of dual-income families, a proven contributor to childhood delinquency as the child is not cared for as much as in past times.

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Therefore, although there is some truth in the allegations that the media is responsible for violence in society, to say that it is solely responsible for violence amongst youths while eschewing the other factors as well would be an exaggeration, but not a gross one, as there is still evidence to show that it could possibly be as evil as purported. The media has also been blamed for causing general moral degradation in society through its display of immorality not only through television but through radio and video games as well.

A recent Emmy award winner, “Desperate Housewives”, portrays married women in compromising situations, or adulterous situations. A blockbuster video game, “Grand Theft Auto 3”, allows the gamer’s character to have sex with prostitutes. However, if the media is such a strong negative influence on questions of morality, why is it that countries such as Iran and Singapore have had a fall in teenage abortion rates in the last 5 years even as the number of television sets in households has increased?

Therefore, although television immorality may be a factor in contributing to societal degradation, it must be concatenated with other factors such as an increasingly liberal culture, with less emphasis placed on moral education by parents, with an increasing double-parent workforce. Just like blaming the media for violence amongst youths, blaming the media for moral degradation would be an exaggeration, as the impact of the media on societal morality is comparatively less than the changing culture in society. Contrary to what people purport, the evils of the media in this exigent is not as serious as claimed.

However, there are ills that the media is blamed for that may be too far from the truth. For example, the media – especially through billboards and television advertisements – is supposed to be the main harbinger of consumerist tendencies and materialistic values in society. These evils are supposed to have been brought about by the increasing proliferation of advertisements on television. Close to home in Singapore, the time allocated to advertisements on local television has gone up from 1 minute slots every 15 minutes to 3 minute slots every 15 minutes.

In addition, advertising companies have studied statistics and concluded that advertising does encourage people to consume in abundance, even for luxury goods, sometimes increasing sales by a factor of 2. With this kind of attitude, people will spend money on things they do not need, an ill that does not have evident societal effects, yet a waste in disposable income. Therefore, this is one example of the charges levied against the media being less than exaggerated as the media is indeed the main factor in contributing to consumerist tendencies, the situation as dire as portended.

In addition to the media being blamed for consumerist tendencies, there are scientific articles claiming the media encourages antisocial behavior. People use statistics such as average television viewership of 2 hours a day by the average American. Furthermore, television ostensibly encourages us to be lethargic and not proactive. Although television does contribute to these human characteristics, the onus is still on the individual to display outgoing behavior and to go out and interact, therefore to blame the media on these maladies would be an exaggeration.

As well as those media evils that are well documented and publicised, there are also evils that are not so scrutinised by the public eye. The media also serves as a government mouthpiece and a means to indoctrinate the people with a certain set of values. This is particularly evident in North Korea, where the government controls what the people see or listen to through the media. In this case, the evil of the media is quite clear and hardly exaggerated. With control of the media, one can control opinions and knowledge, clearly shown by Kim Jong Il’s regime.

In peroration, to the question of whether the evils of the media have been grossly exaggerated, the answer is yes. The media does not stand guilty to the extent it has been blamed for, however, it is still culpable for some of evils it is blamed for, such as spreading consumerist tendencies. Even so, one must consider that there are other groups and factors responsible for the aforementioned evils. Therefore, in conclusion, I agree with the statement in that the media evils have been exaggerated, but I disagree because they have not been grossly exaggerated for the most part.

Are media evils? essay

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