From its inception, visual entertainment media has not only shaped American culture, but also its values. While both TV and movies aired only what was socially moral and politically correct in their beginnings, they soon began to air what would garner the most ratings and money. We are a society that has made movie stars what they are today, yet we also criticize their every move. Visual entertainment media has come a long way from the censorship and monopolies of the 20th Century.
While American culture has been shaped by visual entertainment media over the decades, isual entertainment media has been shaped by American culture at the same time. TV is a type of visual entertainment media that has truly shaped American culture, while we as a nation have shaped TV. Before we had the TV, we had the radio; we could do anything while listening to the radio, but the TV has to be watched.
The technology of one being able to sit in their home and watch the same event thousands of others were watching simultaneously, left Americans in awe, and everyone had to have one, making the TV a staple in over half the American households by the mid-50s. The TV programs of the 50s such as Leave it to Beaver and The Donna Reed Show were not realistic, depicting only nuclear families with moral dilemmas and problems conveniently fixed within a 30 minute show.
Gunsmoke, a western that ran from 1955-1975, changed with the times, and dealt with issues that the public could relate to, such as religion, family values, and the discrimination of minorities. During the Civil Rights movement in the 60s, Gunsmoke changed its show based on what was going on in the country, depicting the sympathy toward minorities. This resonated well with the public, making it the longest running western of all-time. This is a prime example of how TV changes with the times.
TV turned a little dark in the 60s, covering the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the Vietnam War. Though the war was not as highly covered as one would be today, there were several instances of violence that did get aired. One that showed the effects that napalm had on children after being bombed, and the way prisoners were tortured by our troops, so anti-war groups began to become even more outspoken, and the country became divided. This was the greatest driving force behind the Americans that protested the Vietnam War.
This would be one of the first instances of TV shaping American culture. Had the images of the war not aired, I doubt the war would have been protested to such an extent, since Americans would have never had to see a live war, nor would they have seen the effects and devastation of a war. This was a time when the younger generation of America wanted to be more free, rebelling against the war, the government, and trying to peacefully accept the Civil Rights movement that Martin Luther King, Jr. ught so hard for, then consequently died for. This is the generation that began to experiment with drugs and be one with nature. Movies of this era, such as Easy Rider and Bonnie and Clyde were appealing to this generation also with sex and realistic violence for the first time on film, making movie sales pick back up after declining with the “Golden Age” of cinema in 1946. Other movies such as The Godfather and Jaws were released in the 70s, gaining a cult following, which they still have today, 4 decades later.
TV shows today, as well as movies and news today, are all based on how much rofit can be made. Companies making these shows want to reach their target demographic, so they create shows that appeal to their target audience, whether it be those of a certain age group, gender, ethnicity, religion, or belief system, and all the advertisements shown along with these different visual media target the same specific audience. Why advertise a commercial for denture cream on Hannah Montana?
Visual entertainment shapes and influences our culture by what it puts out there for us to see. There have been critics saying it promotes violence in our youth, lamorizing drugs, sex, and alcohol, while others believe that parents should simply monitor their children better. There have been instances where children who use guns on others claim that a TV show, movie, or video game inspired them to act out in this horrific manner.
While video entertainment media may glamorize all the things that we know are bad for us, it is still Just that – entertainment. We have grown as a society enough to know what influences are bad and which are good for us. We have become a society that chooses to watch reality TV over fiction, though we know that ost of them are scripted. Though visual entertainment media has helped shape American culture, Americans have in turn begun to shape visual entertainment media.
With the advancements in technology over the decades such as cable television, satellite television, and then the Internet, we now can watch what we want whenever we want, so the shows and movies being made can no longer disregard society, for it is society that will make or break a TV show, movie, or even a news show. We are also a society that cares more about artists having the ability to be omplete free in their artistic expression, and caring about our artists as human beings. Take Brittany Spears, Robert Downey Jr. or Tom Cruise for example – these are all mega-stars that at one time or another have looked bad in the public eye, either for their actions, beliefs, or both, but yet Americans have forgiven them and given them another chance, and each of them is back on top today because of the forgiveness of these stars by their fans. There are still naysayers and critics, but that comes with being in the public eye. For the most part, Americans have come to ealize that those who entertain us are humans also, and they get second chances also.
They have also come to be role models for youth, showing them how bad drugs can be for someone, and then also showing them that with hard work, faith, and strength anyone can beat their demons and get back on their feet, so the influence visual entertainment media has on society is positive for the most part, but there will always be things out there affecting anyone who sees it negatively. This is why we monitor what our children watch, but not everything can be monitored, so this is why e teach our children what is right and what is wrong and that not everything depicted in TV and movies is real.
We, as a society, have come to see visual entertainment media as a way of life; therefore most could not live without it. Americans have shaped visual entertainment media as much as visual entertainment media has shaped American culture and its values (Lule, 2012). Reference Lule,J. (2012) Exploring media and culture (1st. ed. ) Irvington, NY: Flat World Knowledge, Inc Hum,’176 . – Retri from University of Phoenix Media and American Culture- september 7, 2013