Thursday, June 16, 2011

Who want a wife

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Uses & Gratifications Model

A systematic and widely used model in social sciences study of media influence over the effects on an audience concerning behaviour, attitudes and beliefs, is the theory of uses and gratifications.

This theory can be linked to the notion of social belonging and how an audience can be deceived into believing that this concept can be achieved. The tenet underlying this approach to studying audiences was that individuals actively consume and use the media in order to meet certain needs. In reality, with the power belonging in the focus of the media, it can be defined as a tool of subliminal persuasion. (O’Sullivan, Dutton, Raymer 18)

Blumler and Katz (174) concluded that audience’s fulfilment of needs came within the broad generalisation of four desires

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• Diversion � a form of escape or emotional release from

everyday pressures.

• Personal Relationships � companionships via television personalities and

characters and sociability through discussion about television with other people.

• Personal Identity � the ability to compare one’s life with characters and

situations within programmes, and hence explore personal problems and perspectives.

• Surveillance � a supply of information about what is going on in the


It is believed that this need to gratify its audience with the pursuit of an idealistic social fulfilment provides the media the opportunity to convey subliminal messages that may influence our opinions, interpretations and understanding of societal factors.

The thought that the media is an overwhelming force that influences their audiences through the means of appealing to their desires and needs, must be examined in contrast with the notion that “every one is free”. Meaning that the mass media’s audience can resist being controlled, simply through choice. An individual always has the option of simply not watching that programme or not reading that particular newspaper. An individual makes the choice, and the selection that is made will merely underpin the views and inclinations that they already have.

Television Violence

It is believed that the most prominent sign of the mass medias influence is the link to violent programmes and violence within society. Some, technological determinists extend to the belief that the television has altered the world, and it is an evil thing that rots the minds of youth.

Television characters are repeatedly recognized as heroes, due to the gaining of respect and numerous other rewards through their actions, they are especially likely to be imitated. For instance at the height of it’s British dominance of children’s television, The Power Rangers were the cause of a large number of accidents, injuries and quarrels that its young audience endured due to the imitation of the characters movements and actions.

It may also act as a cue to aggressive behaviour, through desensitisation, uninhibitedness and stimulation. Scenes of violence in a horror film allegedly influenced the two accused ten year olds involved in the infamous James Bulger murder, in which a young boy was abducted and killed. It is said that they undertook the resulting actions after becoming intrigued and excited by the violent scenes within the horror movie Childs Play. At the accused’ trial the defence made an attempt to present an argument that their actions could be explained through their fascination to television and films which distorted their understandings of society, reality and moral values.

Also, it has been noted that naturally aggressive people may simply choose and prefer to watch more violent programmes than of any other nature. Friedrich and Stein found that aggressive-prone children are likely to become even more aggressive after watching violent television.

A report made by the United States Surgeon General concluded that television violence is influential, as many as 5% of child viewers may be affected. But what it doesn’t take into account is that other research undertaken had shown, that from over 00 studies using numerous amounts of children, there was no direct effect of the violence portrayed through the mass media on the youth of contemporary society, though there is considerable disagreement between different studies. For instance it could be concluded that violence can never be considered the sole cause of delinquent behaviour, it may possibly just act to reinforce or affect those that are already prone to such tendencies.

These examples have been noted as possible indications of the effects of the mass media through the means of expression of television violence, but the media is accused of also acting in more subliminal ways when looked at through the vehicle of the print based and television news.


The mass media present a stereotyped picture of life, which can often lead to undesirable prejudices within not just national, but international, society. The mass media and in particular the television and print based news are often accused as being a significant source, in wide ranging and varied ways, of enhancing common stereotypes. It is argued now that in the case of women, ethnic groups, the disabled, certain professions, the old, the physically unattractive and even nationalities are all presented according to accepted stereotypes.

As “the war on terrorism” in Afghanistan rages on the news that has come from that region has had exactly the same type of subliminal messaging that was continually occurring in the Gulf War press. The aim of that journalism was to distinguish the language concerning both sides that were at war. During the Gulf War the descriptions given to the opposite sides were of a distinct nature as to enhance the British reputation and to condemn the Saddam regime. British troops “took out”, “suppressed” and “eliminated” their opposition because of an “old fashioned sense of duty” because they are “professionals”, “brave” and “lion-hearted”, whereas Saddam’s army simply “killed” and “destroyed” because they “feared Saddam” and were “cowardly” and “Bastards of Baghdad” (O’Sullivan, Dutton, Rayner 1880).

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