Mass Communications drives our country. Its mediums serve as sources where people obtain their information. Recent trends show that a decline in content may be a social problem for the United States.
It's not unusual for an American to admit that other countries have a negative view of our culture, or what they perceive to be our culture. In a book titled Learning to hate Americans: How the U.S. media shape negative opinions among teen-agers in twelve countries, Marvin L. DeFleur found that of the twelve countries surveyed (Argentina; Bahrin; China; Italy; Lebanon; Mexico; Nigeria; Pakistan; Saudi Arabia; South Korea; Spain; and Taiwan) only Argentina showed a positive outlook on American culture (Times, pop programs). American pop culture has branded all American culture as violent, corrupt and scandalous in the eyes of other cultures. The actual problem with this perception is that depending on where you look, the culture may directly reflect an image of pop culture stereotype. FOX's The OC or MTV's Laguna Beach (a "reality" show based on the lives of Californian teens) clearly reflect lifestyles that can sometimes project a negative image. The sensational plots that company agenda-setters formulate to draw in audiences are taken as actual portrayals of American culture by people in other countries. This limited exposure to American culture does a very poor job of representing how many Americans would view themselves in society. "Using the lessons of the media product, they [teens from other countries] learn to hate Americans because they seem like despicable people," said DeFleur (Times).
Another trend that is affecting American culture is the over use of foul language, especially by people in positions of influence. While comedians like Denis Leary, George Carlin and of course Andrew "Dice" Clay have used excessive profanity in their performances, recent political heads such as George W. Bush and John Kerry have been caught on record using profane language. Senator John Kerry was quoted saying, "Did I expect George Bush to [expletive deleted] it up as bad as he did?" (Christian Century, foul words). This comment on how Bush handled the war in Iraq is a direct example of how 'curse' words are used by nearly everybody in American culture. President Bush himself was caught referring to a New York Times reporter as a "Major league [expletive deleted]-hole" (Christian Century). Even peace advocate Bono, of U2 fame, dropped the "F-bomb" at the Golden Globes causing them to air the ceremony on a five minute delay (Christian Century). This use of coarse language negatively affects America’s youth and poses great social risks.
Jay Winsten, a professor at Harvard's School of Public Health, has utilized America’s pop culture to battle negative trends in society. He believes attitudes and behaviors can be changes by popular culture, and especially by TV (Chronicle of Higher Education, using pop culture). His work on popular shows of influence, such as Beverly Hills 90210, greatly influenced views in issues like domestic violence and drunk driving. His work even spurred Random House Webster's College dictionary to add a reference listing for the phrase "designated driver" in 1991 (Chronicle of Higher Education). Violent video games like Rock star’s Grand Theft Auto series and glorified violence in "gangster" rap music have attributed to a more violent society and changes need to be made because the street fights of our fathers (or possibly our grand-fathers), which seem like child’s play in comparison, are being replaced with drive-bys and random acts of violence like the Colorado and Montreal school shootings, which are viewed as a decline in society.
Mass Communications provides us with an outlet for change and a decision has to be made (by the people in power) whether this change is going to be for the better or for the worse. This decision needs to made quickly because if these negative trends continue to escalate, there may be no way to reverse the damage done to our image in the world and America’s actual values and morals.
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