Impact of Film and Television: 1950’s to Present
Today, Film and Television are among the most internationally supported commodities. Financially, their contributions are enormous: both industries are responsible for the circulation of billions of dollars each year. Since their respective explosions into the new media markets during the mid-twentieth century, film and television have produced consistently growing numbers of viewers and critics alike. Sparking debate over the nature of their viewing, film and television are now being questioned in social, political, and moral arenas for their potential impact on an audience. Critics claim that watching films or television is a passive activity in which the viewer becomes subconsciously absorbed, and creates a reliance or "addiction" to the media. Advocates, however, argue that viewing such programs is an active process in which audience members are able to choose to what they are exposed, and interpret messages based on their individual needs and background. Perhaps both views are too extreme. Film and television from the 1950s to present, as will be explored in this essay, are extremely useful media, often underestimated within the label of "entertainment"; unfortunately, they may be partially responsible for current socio-cultural problems, too.
A few of the benefits of these media are obvious. It is generally agreed that film and television create a psychological escape and state of relaxation for the viewer, and that as communications devices they deliver important information within a moment’s notice.
The most widespread argument in support of film and television, however, is their power as a tool of education and awareness. As they deliver varying global perspectives to a small screen, they promote diversity on a local and community level. In bringing exposure to issues race, religion, sexuality and gender, film and television also help to promote tolerance and acceptance of differing cultural values and morals. Greater emotional and intellectual responses surface as foreign issues become "closer to home" from an instant access to news. As the public receives such unbiased information, it can make more informed decisions, and has a better chance to affect change. (At this time, television and film are the most powerful catalysts for social change.) Thus it can be argued that film and television productions help to create positive social changes, promote multiculturalism and diversity, and create a common cultural identity among viewers.
Unfortunately, this utopian argument doesn’t account for the countless studies correlating film and television viewing to perpetuated hate and stereotyping, and unhealthy lifestyle choices....