, Research Paper
Sitting with her child in front of the television, Maomi Wolfs is astonished to see the content of her three-and-a-half year olds favorite cartoon. If you pay attention to the dialogue, the images of the value-laden messages, you ll get a queasy, dawning sense that your kids have entered into a cartoon moral warp, where everything that s cool and inviting to children is being given and genuinely perverse underlay. (42) In her article, The New Kiddie Porn , she describes cartoon shows that appear on the popular T.V. channel Cartoon Network and isolates the ideas of sexual suggestiveness in them. In an article by Dale Kunkel and Kristie M. Cope, the issue of sexual content in television is also addressed but in the form of research instead of personal experience. In their article, Sexual Messages on Television: Comparing Findings From Three Studies , the authors discuss three different studies on television programs and how much sexual content is found. This article is clearly an academic study due to the way that it is presented to the reader. Sexual suggestiveness, activities and behavior are analyzed by the way they appear in the media. In both of these articles, although structured in different ways, we see the effects of media, specifically sexual content, on people. In Wolfs article, the main focus is on children, whereas in Kunkel and Copes article, the focus is on adolescents.
The authors uses of ethos are formed in different ways, but still give the reader a feeling of confidence in the writer. In her article, Wolfs describes her experience with cartoons. She says, When I was growing up, the worst villains were Natasha and Boris, in Rocky and Bullwinkle; domestic strife was Wilma Flintstone in a huff if Fred forgot their anniversary-and all was forgiven with a kiss by the time the credits rolled around. (42) She gives the reader some information about what time period she grew up in. She also tells of her children and her experiences as a mother. She uses personal experience to develop her ethos. She says, It s the first choice [cartoons] whenever I need a quick pass of child-free time to make a phone call. (42). Her target audience, which is working parents with young children, is greatly affected because they can relate to putting their kids in front of the T.V. so that they can have child-free time . A strong reason that working parents are her target audience is because of the magazine that this article appears in. GEORGE, founded by JFK JR, is a political magazine which working people would read.
Wolfs shows that she has done her own research as well. She gives quotes from David Weiss, from the publication department of the Cartoon Network series Cow and
Chicken. This shows that she has examined the cartoons carefully and has interviewed important people to the cartoon so that she can get her opinions confirmed. She also refers to a website (www.lionlamb.com) which has involved the government in this issue as well. The fact that she includes the website, assures the reader that she is stating a valid fact and allows the reader to check her sources. Showing that she has done her own research helps her convince her target audience of her credibility.
In their article, Kunkel and Cope do not directly give information about their background, but by the research that is shown, the reader develops a sense of confidence in the writers of this article because the facts that are presented seem very accurate. Graphs and charts are included and the article s structure explains the experiments and their results in great detail. The writers show their experience and dedication to this topic to develop their ethos. Their target audiences vary. The article is for parents but also for learned scholars who are interested in the factual evidence that they have found. They give accurate examples of real television shows such as Seinfeld and Almost Perfect. Also many statistics are given to prove that they have looked into this topic in great detail. Two Americans under the ages of 20 become infected with HIV every hour (Office of National AIDS Policy, 1996) In the face of these sobering statistics, it is important to consider the extent to which media portrayal engage in or over look concerns such as these, which are very serious issues in the lives of young people today. (360) In both of these articles, the authors uses of ethos are formed in different ways, but still give the reader a feeling of confidence in the writer.
In both of the articles, the ideas of logos and pathos are also used. In Wolfs article, the predominant idea is pathos whereas in Kunkel and Copes article, the main idea is logos. Each article is trying to prove the authors point, but one with many statistics and the other uses more personal experiences.
Wolf s use of pathos is very dominant in her article. She is relating to her target audience and trying to build their anger at what is shown in cartoons today. When describing the cartoon, I.M Weasel, she describes a baboon as having an exaggerated red distended rear (2). This line is an example of her use of diction as the main strategy of her article that builds emotion in the readers. She goes on to describe parents and the view that cartoon shows had of parents when she was younger and the views of them now. She writes, To add to all this inappropriate sexuality and eroticized violence aimed at kids is the base message-a new one-of total disrespect for parents. (2) Again, she describes the situation with such words that the reader feels anger towards the cartoon show because of what they are teaching their children. Although she uses pathos in this way, she never directly makes the parent feel guilty that they leave their child in front of the television because it is a temporary babysitter. She tries to make the parent realize what is going on when they are not around. She states, parents are so busy and so overloaded that the foulness of this stuff has not registered into a form of a national outcry. (3) In the second part of this line, Wolfs is initiating her view that there needs to be a call to action about all of the sexual content in cartoons.
In Kunkel and Copes article, the idea of logos is much more prominent. Their use of examples, statistics and the way that their thoughts are presented help their target audience to better understand the experiments that were done. In the beginning of the article, Kunkel and Cope tell the reader about what the article is about. This report presents a summary view across three related studies of sexual messages on television. The content examined ranges from programs most popular with adolescents to a comprehensive, composite week sample of shows aired across the full range of broadcast and cable channels. (2) This line shows the work that they are going to do and how it will be beneficial to their experiments. Also two pages of references are included from scholars and respected journals such as the Journal of Communication . The target audience of learned scholars can relate to this article because of the vocabulary, tone and formal style used. They claim … if television is an important source of information about sex, then it is important to identify the prevailing patterns used for presenting sexual messages on television. (2) For the target audience of parents, the experiments are described in great detail, describing every scientific idea in detail and giving examples of them. They write, Table 4 presents a summary of our findings on the treatment of risk or responsibility concerns amidst all of the sexual messages found on television. (7)
In Wolfs article, I feel that she has gone to extremes with her ideals. Her ideas are very exaggerated, because children are bright but the ideas she presents about the cartoons are geared towards what an adult would think. One of her ideas is I encountered Cow and her red udder, whose enormous teats are drawn in such a way that their movement is central to the action. In her article she quotes David Weiss, public relations executive for the cartoon Cow and Chicken. She asks him What s with the udder? He says, There s a lot of humor involved in having an udder. We re aiming at seven-year-olds. We re not trying to corrupt them. (2) Wolf is aware that she is on the borderline of becoming oversensitive about this topic. She proves this by saying, (I don t want to be like those people who see SEX airbrushed into an ad for spaghetti.) (2). The way that she describes things are extremely exaggerated. How many seven- year-olds will think of Cow, a seven-year-old herself, as a sex object ?
In Kunkel and Copes article however, I found that their experiments were very accurate and they are not over exaggerated because their arguments are supported with valid examples. Rob and Gina, two young adults, meet at a party where they are introduced by their friends They begin kissing passionately and convey their intent to sleep together when they are interrupted by Rob s ex-girlfriend knocking at the door. (Almost Perfect, CBS, March 3, 1996) (6). I, as an adolescent, can relate to these examples because I view many of the shows that are presented. Although their article also claims that sexual content on television affects the way teens behave, this idea is also supported. In trying to understand the process by which young people acquire their sexual beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors, the study of media provides information about potential socializing messages that are an important part of everyday life for children and adolescents. (Greenberg, Brown, & Buerkel-Rothfuss, 1993) (1) This line appears in the beginning of their article and supports their ideas because in the rest of the article this line is explained thoroughly. The word potential is used, meaning that they are not directly accusing the media of corrupting adolescent minds.
In conclusion, as a student enrolled in a university, I find both of these articles interesting and informative. I am not necessarily a part of their target audiences, but the topics that are discussed interest me. If they wanted to include someone like me into their target audience, I would prefer if Kunkel and Cope conducted more personal interviews, especially with teenagers. This would draw a teenage crowd because we can relate to what other people our age are saying. Also the article would have to appear in another magazine because the majority of teenagers in this society do not pick up the first Journal of Sex Research . If Wolfs wanted to place someone like me in her target audience she would have had to develop a different kind of pathos which is directed to teens instead of adults. Instead of invoking anger, she would have to try to make us remember the times when we were children and the cartoons we used to watch. Even though the articles were not targeting teens like myself, they authors uses of ethos, pathos and logos help convince their target audience that what they are reading is an accurate example of sexual content in the media and how it affects children and adolescents.