“Do you agree that the Media can have a direct and measurable negative effect on vulnerable audiences?”
In our meeting, D2 came to a general conclusion of “Yes”. We all agreed that entities in the Media have the power and resources to create negative repercussions in society. Some more direct and measurable than others.
We all used different topics to illustrate this point. Harriet, Sofina and Nigel all cited elements of pop culture as being responsible for social conventions. Song lyrics, music videos and magazines all enforce ideas about how to act, how to look and what to care about. Insecurities and low self esteem can develop if you don’t feel like you’re hitting the targets.
Nigel made some interesting points about how urban youth culture can pressure people into getting involved with drugs. His cabinet of curiosities seems to dispute the legal status of cannabis, so it was interesting to see it approached from another angle. Glamorisation of cannabis is integral to certain music styles, so vulnerable first-timers can get involved without thinking of the side-effects.
Roxi came up from the opposite side, using an anti-fastfood animal rights propaganda film to show how it can put people off their KFC. When she showed footage of animal slaughter, the viewer said they would avoid fast food for a while. This exactly describes a direct and measurable negative effect on an audience- vulnerable perhaps from not having seen anything like this before.
It can also be said that the effects of an actual KFC advert may also be negative to a vulnerable audience, but it depends what you mean by negative. In the technical use of the word and from the agency’s viewpoint, if a KFC advert makes consumers buy fast food, that is a positive measurable effect. In a more general use of the word and from a moralizing viewpoint, it can be seen as negative to eat KFC that’s made from abused chickens.
Harriet included a study in her piece that shed some light on this “negativity” issue. A group of Harvard researchers conducted a study on the island of Fiji to see how the introduction of Western TV Media affected the girls’ ideal body image perceptions. It was found that after the introduction of mainstream mass media to the island, there was a significant increase in anorexia, bulimia and general body size issues. Click the link for more information: http://cdnedge.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/347637.stm
The study insinuates that media effects are regarded as significant and measurable when they are properly studied and the outcome is measured in statistics, e.g. a rise in mental illness, crime or even money. For sure, negative effects can still exist but they are made of opinions or cultural standpoints, instead of scientific or legal facts.