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Mass Media: A Destructive Force Essay

1333 words - 6 pages

“People are sheep. TV is the shepherd.” Mass media is simply communication – whether written, broadcast, or spoken – that reaches a large audience and it is a significant force in today’s world. We live in a society which is dependent on it for news, entertainment, health, and education. Media reflects and shapes our world as well as influencing our thoughts, opinions, ideals, and thinking. There are many types of media such as radio, television, video games, films, newspapers, billboards, and the Internet. It is used for many purposes ranging from advertising and propaganda to entertainment through television shows and for public announcements and emergency alerts. However, the advantages of mass media come with many consequences. Most news sources tend to oversimplify and sensationalize news stories, and as a result, they introduce and reinforce stereotypes and set unrealistic standards of beauty and wealth, leading to negative effects on younger generations. Furthermore, agenda setting, the ability of the media to influence the thinking and behaviour of the public, can and has been misused often by the government and large corporations. Lastly, it has been shown time and time again that most media sources are heavily influenced and controlled by large corporations who use mass media to benefit themselves. Although the media has both positive and negative effects, the depiction of unrealistic ideals and stereotypes, agenda setting, and the corporations’ tight grasp on mass media ultimately makes it a destructive, and potentially devastating, force.

Most news articles, commercials, and advertisements have a precious amount of space to squeeze various information into and others need to generalize otherwise complicated topics so readers can understand the content. To solve this problem, many of the workers in the media resort to sensationalizing and oversimplifying their work. These oversimplifications lead to the formation of many different kinds of stereotypes, including racial and gender stereotypes. Similar to the shadows in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, stereotypes are also used to create unrealistic and, sometimes, impossible standards of beauty, living, and wealth. Some analysts conclude that the reasons for these standards are economical. “By presenting a physical ideal that is difficult to achieve and maintain the cosmetic and diet industries are assured continual growth and profits.” Furthermore, it is estimated that the diet industry alone earns more than 60 billion USD every year, with 80% of dieters regaining lost weight. Marketers realize that women and females are insecure about their body, and to sell a larger amount of products, the media have developed an entire industry around fuelling this insecurity. However, men are also affected by these ludicrous standards of beauty and fitness. A 2006 study “found a relationship between the increase in idealized male bodies in media and the rise in body dissatisfaction and weight...

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