March 15, 2018
The Message of Television
As we know, television is one of the main sources of media in today’s society and has an extreme impact. Television gives us a view of real-life situations and perspectives that one can, or view things and some of those situations include an abundant amount of violence. This violence is portrayed in many aspects such as the ones Marianne Dainton and Elaine D. Zelley (2011) give us examples of, “…Cartoon violence, comedic or humorous violence, and so-called accidental violence…” (p. 174). These violent acts portrayed would be defined by George Gerbner (1998) as, “Overt expression of physical force (with or without weapon, against self or others) compelling action against ones will on pain of being hurt and/or threatened to be so victimized as part of the plot” (p. 280). Being exposed to this type of violence can alter how people see the world and the people in it. It’s not only about how violence is portrayed, but how reality in general on television begins to influence how people view the world. This would be called cultivation theory.
Cultivation is seen in many television viewers, specifically those who watch an abundant amount of television. The two specific ways it has an effect on them is through resonance and mainstreaming. Resonance is when the viewer sees something on the television and begins to constantly think about and relate it to their own personal experience, “…When individuals who have actually faced acts of violence in their own lives then watch the violent TV programming, they are forced to replay their own life situations again and again” (Dainton & Zelley, 2011, p. 176). Mainstreaming is how the viewer begins to view the world based off what’s presented through the television, “…Develop a common view of social reality based on their frequent exposure to the repetitive and dominating images, stories, and messages depicted on TV” (Dainton ; Zelley, 2011, p. 176). When it comes to violence on television, Daiton and Zelley (2011) inform us that people look at the world as a, “Mean and scary world” (p. 174). These views of cultivation are only taken by excessive TV viewers.
I would be under the category of an excessive or, heavy viewer as said by Gerbner and other authors (1980), “Heavy viewers, or “television types”…Television types average 4 or more hours of TV viewing each day…” (p. 175). I remember speaking with my friends one day about how people tell us so often they’d kill for our shape and how it’s perfect, and we really felt good about it because that’s what you see on so many women in magazines and television and we had it naturally. As I got older I began to see a lot of girls grow into their bodies but not me. The bodies in magazines and on television changed as well. I used to hear almost every day about how small I am and how I’ll always look like this forever and it started to get to me. All I wanted was to look how the girls in the media looked and not have my body talked about 24/7.
This connects with the cultivation theory because we are given many different representations of the ideal perfect body from women in the media. We are so used to seeing that specific look on women that we being to develop the ideal that any other shape or size doesn’t hold as a great of a value as the image that’s constantly presented to us. Body image is one of the main situations that resonate with me every time I look at media, as well as what’s considered a beautiful face based on skin color. Lighter skin is always said to be more beautiful over darker skin and more lighter skin women are on the cover of magazines and it makes me think about how I’ve heard people tell me, “You and your friends are so pretty, and that one girl you’re always with is so pretty for a dark skin girl.” I’ve never noticed until now how much media shifts the way we think and how we view the world. Personally, if I wasn’t such a heavy viewer I don’t think I would have the same mentality about body image and my view on myself would be stronger and I wouldn’t be praising the ideal perfect body image.
In conclusion, television, being one of society’s main sources of media, can have an extreme impact on how we view the world. We allow it to connect to our reality through resonance and mainstreaming. It tells us what violence is and makes us afraid, shows us beauty and makes us insecure or judgmental of others, it shifts our way of thinking and only negatively, “…This content of TV programming negatively affects heavy viewers by creating a distorted attitude about people and the world” (Daiton & Zelley, 2011, p. 177).
Dainton, M., & Zelley, D. E. (2011). Explaining theories of mediated communication: Cultivation theory. Applying Communication Theory for Professional Life: A Practical Introduction, 2nd
Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Signorielli, N., & Morganl, M. (1980). Aging with television: Images of
television drama and conceptions of social reality. Journal of communication, 30:1,
Gerbenr, G. (1998). Cultivation Analysis: An overview. Mass communication & society, 1, 175-