Hey everone, my name’s Nicole Main and I’m a student at Towson University. I’m taking a Media Criticism class to get to know the media better, I mean we live with it, might as well get close and understand the functionality of it. I’m beginning to realize the concepts covered in my class pertain to my life particularly more than I had realized.
The topics in class are things that I haven’t only found in a textbook, but I have gone on rants about it. Who hasn’t? I remember walking through the mall at the age of seventeen in the middle of winter in Connecticut, and we all know how cold it gets, yet I’d see twelve-year-old girls wearing halter tops and no coats. Come on, you all have seen it, the little girls who are trying to be old before their time, I know you all have complained about it at least once or twice.
How about the young girls wearing shorts and Ugg boots in December? Well, I’m realizing how important media criticism is. It shows how important the media is in our lives and how intricately it shapes and molds us without our knowledge or consent.
Not only is this class explaining how we are shaped, it is also defining what is okay in society. If we take a look at the I Love Lucy re-runs and then look at the Modern Family show, how much are we taking away? I Love Lucy came out in a time where women were the house wives and nothing strayed from the status quo, but then we turn to today’s Modern Family and see how much the status quo has changed.
Douglas Kellner, a critical theorist, articulates his ideas about production and its use in a political economy. He forms the opinion that “the system of production often determines what sort of artifacts will be produced, what structural limits there will be as to what can and cannot be said and shown, and what sort of audience effects the text may generate.”
Media Criticism focuses strictly on the effects of media and the intent behind the camera. The idea that the media is constantly shaping our thought process and our agenda was never before put so eloquently. It made me begin to notice that the problems I have consistently had with the media are real things, and not just a form of my misinterpreting.
We discussed in class that the media forms our agenda, and it does. What makes NBC or The Today Show decide to talk about Justin Bieber’s run-in with the cops and his DUI rather than the vastly overgrown areas of natural gas development?
What consumers of the media fail to realize is that the news can act as a magician would at a performance in front of hundreds of people. They tell you to look closely at what they decide is important or even crucial to talk about, while the real problems are occurring somewhere else without another thought.
Often I notice the commercials on television promoting natural gas, but I never see any articles discussing the negative impacts of it, how it is harming the economy. Natural gas is one of the things that will destroy this country, but no one is doing anything to stop it because they aren’t doing their own research.
Even President Obama glossed over this topic in his State of the Union Address, he announced that he is helping by creating natural gas, but that was it. He didn’t make another comment about it through his entire speech. Why? Is it perhaps because those in control don’t want the public to know about the harmful, lasting effects that are occurring across the country from natural gas production.
The issues don’t end there when it comes to the media. It appears that they enjoy promoting the idea of the “perfect woman.” The perfect woman weighs less than 115 pounds, has a flawless, clear complexion, is five foot five with a small waist. This is unachievable on every level, but still women want to look like this.
From the age of two, women are given Barbie dolls that, if they were in actual size they would have a 19 inch waist, which according to Daily Mail, an online magazine, is half the size of an average 19-year-old.
Then, on top of it all, add in the supermodels that are strutting their stuff on the pages of magazines. Photoshop is editors and models best friend when it comes to making them look idyllic. What happens when they are stripped of technology and online skin repair? They look just like you or me. It gives women an unrealistic view of what they should look like.
Even celebrities are having the problem of not “fitting in” like they feel they should. Jennifer Lawrence expressed this when asked to lose weight and Elle Varner reveals that in her song So Fly.
The biggest problem, if celebrities are having trouble coping with the ideal image, is there any real hope for the rest of us?
More than anything else, it is incredibly important that before taking the media’s word for something to be true, research it yourself. In the world of news and media, there is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. When you see something out there that intrigues you, don’t settle for the truth. Set out to discover nothing but the truth; find articles written from several points or view, videos, interviews, and even then you have only just scratched the surface of the problem. Keep looking, keep learning, and make sure that before you make an argument, you have all of your facts.