This week’s topic: the ‘Media Effects’ model!
The ‘Media Effects’ model is based on erroneous assumptions that the audience are passive and impressionable recipients of media messages, when in reality, most consumers of media are independent, discerning, self-directed thinkers. The basis of this faulty assumption, the transmission model, is similarly flawed as it is an over-simplified perspective on communication. The path of communication is rarely ever as linear as this model claims. Individuals have different ways of ‘decoding’ and interpreting messages, and how they choose to respond to the information thereafter also depends on their distinctive values and principles. Thus, the ‘Media Effects’ tradition is fallacious.
Moving on to the topic of media anxiety — I believe this is caused by the dystopian views inspired whenever a new form of media comes into use by the masses. Numerous and various experiments have been conducted over the years, attempting to prove a causal relationship between the media and its audience. Often, conclusions drawn from these experiments are inaccurate and highly misleading. For example, in Bandura’s Bobo Doll experiment, children who were still unable to grasp the concept of reality were used. They were provided with violent tools and shown a video depicting violence which they had misunderstood as instructions, hence their violent behavior after viewing it. Yet, the conclusion that watching violence would induce violent behavior was drawn, and this proceeded to misguide the public into thinking that there is indeed a causality, ‘confirming’ the dystopian views and fueling the anxiety.
Finally, I believe that the notion of ‘television makes us fat’ is a myth. The causes of obesity range from biological factors like genetic predisposition to social factors like social eating. Physical factors including diet and level of activity also play a large role, and while watching television is a sedentary activity, that in itself is not the cause of obesity. It has to be combined with a number of other factors to actually cause obesity.
That’s all for this post! 🙂