Since the beginning of time, media has had a presence in society. Spanning from the caveman era, all the way to today. Media is used to create entertainment, spread ideas, and to inform everyone around the world. After reading multiple articles, they all seem to try and explain how media affects society. Media can be argued to have a large or little impact on society, however, these conflicting ideas will continue until society begins to question the media. The first way the media has impacted society is the creation of new art forms such as video games, or web artists.
In Henry Jenkins’, “Art Form For The Digital Age” he describes this new style of art. When most people think of art, they think of paintings and large displays inside a gallery. However with today’s highly advanced technology, web artists and games are beginning to find a way into the art world. Museums have begun to exhibit the work of web artists. Even video games have been a talk of critics. Some may be opposed to the idea that digital art is not true “art,” but the computer is just another tool the artists may use.
Creativity and artistic ability is still needed to create any piece with this technology. A digital artist uses a computer just like an artist would use a canvas and paintbrush. Video games today are able to open entirely new experiences for their users. These game artists are able to create whole new interactive environments that users can explore. Henry relates the new emergence of these art forms to the silent film era of “expressive art. ” During this time, silent films became a hit where they were able to create an environment in which the viewer could become emotionally attached.
This is the same as today’s digital age, Henry Jenkins says that these, “environments can convey powerful atmospheres and provokes users excitement and motivates them to explore” (201). Video games and web artists have the same artistic credibility as any movie or other style of art (200-203). Media has the ability to create new fantastic art forms for society, but some claim media can also have a debilitating effect. The second impact of media is conveyed in the essay, “Aggression: The Impact Of Media Violence” by Sissela Bok.
She identifies the connection between Media violence and violent acts of viewers. The main idea that has been associated with this connection is the “aggressor effect. ” This is when viewers of violent media have a lower barrier to using aggression. After seeing violent acts on TV or in movies, the viewer begins to not have as much restraint to committing aggressive acts against other people. Viewing these acts desensitizes viewers and creates a desire to carry them out as well.
These people begin to see violence as an attractive way to deal with problems. When the violence is carried out by an exciting figure in a film or show, this “aggressor effect” is stronger on the viewer because it gives them the idea it is acceptable. Not only that, but when there are no consequences for their actions, viewers are able to associate with the character, making these actions more justifiable (224-229). Many people I’m sure have experienced this effect before. A personal experience for me is when I once went to see the movie “Never Back Down. The movie contained lots of fighting and after, I became amped and believed that the solution to any problem with another would be to fight them. This was only because I had just watched the movie, but I still believe I had experienced this, “aggressor effect” and I’m sure many others did as well. The impact of media violence is said to have a rather significant impact on society, but this opinion is not shared among all. In contrast, others say that the connections between media violence and violent acts do not have a significant impact on society.
In “Stop Blaming Kids And TV” by Mike Males, Mike has a polar opposite view on the impact of media violence. He says that the relation between the two is no “real” relation. For example, in other places around the world, media violence is still viewed as brutal but their murder rates among teenagers are drastically lower. Not only that, but with America having the same media all over the country, certain cities have much higher rates than others. A second point the author makes is that the correlation for media violence is based upon race and social class.
If media were to be accountable for violence, then why would it not affect all races and social classes the same. Ever since the impact of media has been examined, there has never been proof that this correlation does exist. Then Mike Males begins saying that instead of causing defiance, media actually plays a role in helping kids conform to society. With the large amounts of ads for liquor and fashion, it seems to target middle aged teens. Teens want to grow up and begin to exhibit what they see as the social norms, which is portrayed by media (252-256).
After he worked with multiple youth programs, Mike Males began to realize the effects on youth that was thought to be from media, is usually transferred across generations. For instance, teen smoking “mimicked adult smoking by gender, race, locale, era, and household” (255). Instead of media teaching youth these destructive acts, they were usually influenced into this behavior because of their social class and families. Ultimately, Mike Males claims that media does not have a violent impact on society and that it’s impact is much smaller than some may believe.
The last article, “Drinking Hemlock and Other Nutritional Matters” by Harold Morowitz, says that media will have an effect on society until individuals begin to be skeptical and question what they see. He does not say whether or not media has a large or small effect, instead he explains why media will have an effect. An incident he gives is when commercials will claim that a certain food is “unnatural” and bad for you. At first, the average person will take this as a fact without question.
What many people do not know is that claims like these would completely baffle experts since it goes against everything they learned. The media is tricking viewers into believing something that is false. This leads into Harold talking about epistemology. Epistemology is the study of knowledge and essentially raises the question of “how do we know that? ” (363). From a young age, people are taught to not question what they learn from their superiors. How their superiors actually know this information is never analyzed. This process is then transmitted into every aspect of life, for our case, media.
So whenever someone hears something on TV, or reads a random article, they take all of the information presented to them as true since that is what they have been taught to do. This is where Harold says that education has failed. Epistemology is usually only taught to grad students in college so a majority of the population has no knowledge of it. The author says that this should be taught to kids from the beginning of their learning careers, “should not every high school graduate be prepared to cope with the many incorrect and misleading assertions that come his way every day? (362-364). People must become skeptical of what they see and hear. So the solution to how much media can affect society is simple. People must learn and begin to understand how real information is found. All in all, media can have a strong or weak effect; it all depends on how people begin to process the information. There is no exact answer to how media can or does affect society. It all comes down to ones personal opinion and how they decide to interpret their information. Some may consist of concrete examples. Such as new art forms that have emerged.
It is hard to refute or claim that new technology like web artists and video games have not had an effect on society. Others may be based upon personal opinion and research. For example, people claiming the media violence has a direct connection to people committing violent acts. Then in other cases individuals saying that media violence does not have a significant impact on society and that their research is incorrect. But in the end no matter the impact, small or large, it will continue to affect society until it begins to question what they see.