Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Urge to Buy and View

Assignment #2

Consumerism and Television

Living from day to day, we don't believe that we belong to any institution or cult, believing that we have free will. Kalle Lasn begs to differ. In the text "The Cult You're In," Kalle Lasn states that we are all part of a cult that we can't escape: consumerism. He is one-hundred percent correct in this statement, in my opinion. The average American consumer is exposed to thousands of brands per day. Consumerism has reached the point to where it defines you as a person, as you strive to obtain the newest pair of Nike's, or drive the fanciest car that you could afford. It is a cult, one that is very profitable to the people who run it: the corporations which sell the products that people buy.

Of course, one of the biggest mediums that influences the people indoctrinated in this cult is television. It serves as a conduit to which advertising and programming can both entertain the masses, and convince people to buy things that they do and don't need. In Harry Waters' "Life According to TV," Waters uses the research of George Gerbner to make the point that TV heavily influences the way people think and what people buy. The evidence speaks for itself: TV absolutely has an influence on the general population, in a myriad of ways.

For example, take the section of Crime from Waters' text. Critics are convinced that violence on TV has the effect of desensitizing viewers to violence, or helps make viewers more prone to commit violent acts. Gerbner's research states otherwise; it makes viewers believe that they will be victimized, or as Gerbner calls it, "mean-world syndrome." It causes heavy viewers of TV to grossly exaggerate the chances of a violent act occurring against them. In light of this evidence, I believe that Gerbner's research is right on the money. With consistent violent imagery, it causes people to become concerned for their own safety. This violent imagery is more common now than ever, due to an overzealous media, so there is very much reason to believe that TV can influence an audience to surprising effect. All it takes is a good ten minutes of television viewing, and it's easy to see what effect it can have on an impressionable audience.

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