A Slight Misunderstanding Essay, Research Paper
Section 12, Freshman Comp 2
Due: May 2, 2000
A Slight Misunderstanding…
The media sure has its hands full! First off, it’s changing the physiology of grown men, transforming their brains into those of sixteen-year-olds with its cathode tubes, according to Steven Stark in his essay, “Where The Boys Are.” Next on the list is the task of convincing our youth that “murder is cool and fun,” a statement courtesy of John Grisham’s essay, “Unnatural Killers.” The media is making today’s youth somehow disregard everything they’ve ever heard about it being wrong to kill someone and consult their television for guidance instead! That job can’t be easy! Never having a moment’s rest, the media has also been sighted by Marie Winn. It was in the act of changing our entire families into groups of distant acquaintances, which we read in, “Television: The Plug-in Drug.” Finally, add to this list “screaming.” Deborah Tannen states that the media is making us scream at each other, an enlightening fact one may find in her essay, “The Triumph of the Yell.”
Some new light has recently been shed on the subject, though: the media is not a concrete being. To say the media is sending out a message is akin to saying that your TV is talking to you. This being not possible, we must now examine those who control the media. This is a tough crowd to figure out. We do not know anything about these people. They could be the guy on the corner, or your favorite bartender… probably not, but with all the face-less notoriety this industry has been painted with, one might think so. We are led to believe that we are being controlled and manipulated by unknown egomaniacs that are systematically destroying every facet of good ole’ fashioned life. Life, though, was fashioned many moons ago and has not changed much since.
We have always craved to live our lives vicariously through art. The concept of real life imitating art was not born with the advent of slasher films and rap music: the heyday of the Wild West
spurned multitudes of dime novels that city kids grabbed up and relived on their stoops. And the media, throughout the course of its evolution, has always attempted to tap into our innermost desires, desires to step into surrealism. It has to. It’s the product it’s selling. Some may say that they’re exploiting our vulnerabilities. Of course they are. But so isn’t McDonalds. Practically every product on the market exploits our vulnerabilities. It’s part of their game, part of the business they’re in.
Recently, however, it has become an “issue.” If it’s such an issue, why are we still paying $7.50 at the movies to receive these manipulative messages? It’s interesting to see the level of denial in America: we have a huge problem taking responsibility for our own actions. Indeed, the only uncontroversial issue in this controversial issue is that we are, without a doubt, choosing to buy what they’re selling. How nice it would be if we could truly be brainwashed and didn’t have to pay for it all. But unfortunately, this is not the case. We continue to fork over millions of dollars to the entertainment industry, perhaps because we question whether the media can really be as corrupting as they say. The scariest hypothesis has yet to be posed: the media’s not corrupting society, but society’s corrupting the media.
To know, we’ve got to know what’s really going on with these nefarious media moguls. The first question we should ask: would they purposely attempt to sell a product based on corruption capability instead of demand? Put yourself in their shoes. You leave the house in the morning, kiss your wife and kids goodbye and head over to the office. Once you get there, you have a mission. This being America, that mission is forward movement: making money and becoming successful. No matter how high up on the ladder you are, if you don’t produce then you don’t have a job.
At this point you have two options. If you’re the demonical, brainwashing type, you can carry out a highly devious scheme to brainwash the youth into, let’s say, Mozart-heads by convincing everybody that Mozart is the man. But you’re not 100 percent sure this will work. Or you can act on 500 pages of research that tells exactly what any person in any city at any given time of day wants to watch, hear or read. Next to this research is presumably a chart that will pinpoint how many millions a minute you’ll make off this move. Which option would leave you feeling secure that that wife and those kids will be eating this month?
Our manipulators may be shrouded in malevolent secrecy, but we do know one thing about them: their assault on our temporal lobes is part of their job. It’s the one common ground we have with these Men In Black: if they don’t produce, their lives as faceless egomaniacs are over and they better be hitting up Wal-Mart for an application if they want to put food on the table.
The problem is starting with society. They just provide; we ask for it. For some reason, we want to entertain ourselves with experiences that are, at best, different from what we have wanted in the past; and at worst, unhealthy for us. But blaming mass murders, drugs and sex on electronic devices, pieces of paper and musical notes is scapegoating at its finest. The media has no impact on society’s problems. The only impact that takes place is ours on the media, by asking them to fulfill our demands. We must be more honest with ourselves and find the real roots of modern-day woes. As for the media, its message is as innocent as it has always been: “Buy Me.”
All quotes taken from “The Blair Reader”