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The Media and Adolescents: Creating Images, Defining Reflections - Essay Example

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There can be no denying that media plays an important role in the molding of social values and in the legitimization of personal perceptions. It has been said that media is even more potent than formal education, in that its effects seep into the subconscious and accost individuals wherever they may be, whatever time of the day…
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The Media and Adolescents: Creating Images, Defining Reflections
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Download file to see previous pages They have yet to develop sufficient maturity and discernment necessary to filter out potentially destructive messages and unhealthy ideas streaming in from various media sources.
This paper will discuss the unhealthy effects of media on adolescents, particularly with regard to the issue of stereotyping. The website Media Awareness Network states that "stereotypes act like codes that give audiences a quick, common understanding of a person or group of people-usually relating to their class, ethnicity or race, gender, sexual orientation, social role or occupation." However, stereotyping is dangerous in that it transforms assumptions into realities and it places individuals in simplistic categories without recognition of each person's uniqueness and gifts.2
For middle class, white adolescents, it is all too easy to forget that there are looming issues that need to be resolved and ugly truths that have to be confronted. And while much has changed since the 1800's, and new developments have been introduced that have sought to alleviate the racial divide not only in this country but in the world as well, it is incorrect to believe that the problem has been completely solved. We must be grateful that the world we have now is a better, more tolerant and more accepting world, but we must still try to think of steps to further reduce the racial divide.

Media has also done its part in perpetuating the racial divide. This seems to extend to choice in fashion, music, and the like. In movies, a particularly potent media form, African-Americans tend to dress alike, for instance, and have the same tastes in music. This of course, is certainly true. For example, Tennessee boasts of a long tradition of gospel music, commonly associated with African Americans. Jazz music is also another Tennessee tradition. The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920's - the period wherein blacks made their mark in the artistic scene - saw black musicals and jazz music emerging in the mainstream scene. Indeed, the differences in the musical tastes run deep and add a colorful flavor to the Tennessee cultural collage. Of course, there are many songs of recent vintage that cut across race, particularly among the younger generation.

While this kinds of depictions are benign and in fact celebrate cultural differences, it is entirely possible that adolescents are inflicted a barrage of unhealthy ideas which they are ill-equipped to filter. Indeed, factual and fictional media portrayals have a propensity to activate culturally shared racial and gender stereotypes and affect judgment involving those who belong to stereotyped groups3.

Even news reports, for all its declarations of impartiality and objectivity, may be guilty of racial stereotyping. In his landmark study, Ungerleider4, states that a news report has the implicit agenda of "casting" characters as heroes, victims or villains. Members of minority groups end up either ignored or cast in the role of villains. Since these stories are repeated over and over with this same angle, they become the "accepted ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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