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Discursive Essay – Trailer spotting

From films, music and even to computer games, the media has a great influence on people today. On a regular basis, we listen to the radio, read the daily newspaper, or even “Go surfing” on the Internet. There is no escaping the worldwide power of the media. The power of the media is a very contreversial issue as some like myself believe that the media has the power to influence the mind to take actions such as purchasing goods that we would normally not consider, just as a result of the media. Others believe that if there were any actions taken, it would be comletley to their own gain, and they would have had next to no influence on the matter.

I intend to discuss this and my first point argues on how teenagers and even adults can be influenced from television and films into the dark life; smoking, sex, drinking and possibly drugs.

The media – television, radio, movies, music, music videos – are part of the social enviroment which surrounds us. A trend can be set as a result. Presenter Sarah Brown, who is the director of the National Campaign to prevent teen pregnancy, pointed ou that many younger teenagers may spend more thatn seven hours a day listening to the radio and Cd’s or watching many music vidoes. There is a tremendous amount of sexual inuendo and sexual social life portrayed in the media, and most of the sexual activity is between unmarried people according to Brown.

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In her reasearch, Monique Ward, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, found that 29 percent of interactions between television characters is secual in nature. She also pointed out that drinking permates televsion, with 70 percent of the prime time network shows are screening at least one instace of alcoholic consumption. There are also some indications that the portrayal of cigarette smoking is on the increase both in movies and on television. Although little reasearch has been done to ducument the effect of media portrayals of sexual behaviour or alcohol, tobacco, and drug use on the behaviour of teenagers Ward has found that young adults who watch television shows with high sexual content, such as late night television and music videos, tend to have more of a liberal approach toward sexual attitudes and believe their peers are more sexually active than those who do not watch such shows.

My second arguement is how advertisements can influence thoughts for both negative and positive actions. For Advertisers spend millions of dollars trying to influence product purchases. Many studies have shown that tobacco advertising and promotional activities may encourage young people to begin and to continue smoking such as the Centres for Disease control and Prevention since 1992. It was estimated that 34 percent of teenage experimentation with cigarettes in California between 1993 till late 1996 could be attributed to cigarette advertising and promotional activities such as t-shirts and “fake” items with cigarette logos.

However, so far all that have been shown are negative actions but the media may and does get used to present positive messages. The partnership for a Drug-Free America tries to use advertising information about influencing teenagers to create messages which discourage drug use. The Presenter Sean Clarkin, senior vice president and deputy dircetor of creative development at the Partnership for a Drug Free America, explained that the partnership’s work and expanded on the discussion of the mesages that might reach teenagers and affect their decisions. The partnership has held numerous focus gruops with adolescents, follows reasearch on Partnership Attitude tracking Study, From its focus gruops and surveys, the goal is to have a variety of messages. Clarking indicated that for youngeters who have not yet engaged in any drug use and are not interested nessges that emphasise the positive aspects of remaining drug free appear to be the best wasy to encourage them to remain so. For teenagers who are undecided about wheteher to try drugs, the partnership thnks that messages which emphasise the risks of drug use seem to be the most effective. Echoing a point made by presenter Robert Dennistion, director of the secretary’s initiative on youth substance abuse prevention in the UK department of the health and human services – Clarkin said the risks shown must be believable to the youngstes, must be concrete and immediate, and must focus centrally on the social risks rather than the health or legal risks.

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Other participants raised the issue of including prosocial messges in entertainment programming and not just in public service announcements. One participent pointed to a story line on the TV programme Beverley Hills 90210 several years ago that portrayed a character using good decision making techniques on deciding whter or not to become sexually active. Another mentioned that the effect of health-related themes on shows such as ER are being studied by the Kraiser Foundation. Clarkin noted that periodic attempts are to be made to interest Hollywood producers including a more prosocial messages, but these attempts were met with mixed results.

It has been calculated that the average 16 year-old in Western society has been seen about 13,000 violent murders on television, and it seems reasonable to assume that this may have some effect on their behaviour. There ism indeed, a positive relationship between the amount of television violence children hae seen aand the aggressiveness of their watching violent programmes causes aggressice behaviour. On the other hand it may be that naturally aggressice children choose to watch more violent programmes than non-violent children.

One of the most thorough studies of physical and verbal aggression was reported by Leyens et al. (1975). the participants of the study were juvenile delinquents at a school in Belgium. They lived in four dormitories (one high in agression and the other with low amounts) watched only violent films, whereas the boys in the other two dorms watched only nonviolent films. As a result there was an increased level of physical aggression among the boys who saw the violent filmsm but not among those who saw the nonviolent films. The findings were more complex for verbal aggression. This increased among boys in the aggressice dorm who saw violent films, but it actually decreased among boys from the non-aggressive dormitory. A final finding was that the effects of the violent films on aggression were much stronger shortly after watching them than they were later on. alimitation of this study is that the experimenters did not distinguish clearly between real and pretend aggression.

Fimls, were shown to have the highest influence then on Television or the internet. Because the Internet has filters and TV also does, films, usually from video have the biggest influence. Media, specifically visual, has had huge impact on our country. While not under direct government control, it onften influences the public’s view on issues prevalent at the time.

With the invention of television and computers, books and newspapers are being swpet away by a wave of new technology with its wider capabilities. In THE SEIGE, this is thrown back in the viewers face. Proving the fact that media, not laws, rules our society. The terrorists wait for media coveragem any type of camera to strike. Then when they recieve recognition, they wreck havoc. The government uses the military in such the same way. In all the scenes with televisions showing the millitary, Bruce Willis, or someone similar comes on a screen and makes a patriotic speech. In one press conference where he was first implementing martial law, he says he wants to find the terrorists, destroy them, and be home in time for the playoff’s. Using football, he has reached a large majority of the population.

Towards the future, faster and more powerful influences will have been introduced and reached the world. The extent of their power on the population will be uncertain, but one thing for certain is that more people will be conned, eventually forced into the media.

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