9.11.13

whoever controls the media controls the mind

Hello everyone!  I'm so sorry for not writing in such a long time- I've been really caught up with school work, SAT preparation and work for various extra curricular activities. Blegh. However, I did have some really exciting moments over the last month. I turned 15, got accepted as a student officer for THIMUN Hague (are any of you guys going?) and even dressed up as River Song for Hallowe'en. Fun stuff. Anyway, I'm not here to talk about my life right now. Today's post is centered around a simple and often discussed topic: messages from the media.


The media dominates our lives. It's everywhere - In our homes, at school, on the roads. Media reaches us through several different forms, from television, to the Internet, to the billboards we see on the highway and the advertisements on taxis and sometimes the stickers on cars. Wherever we look, we're being convinced to buy a certain product because it will make us more beautiful/intelligent/attractive to men or women/etc. However, many of the ideas conveyed by the media are negative and self-deprecating. The fact that we're constantly being bombarded with these messages means that the negativity is very, very hard to ignore.

One of the largest problems with mass media is the message that it sends regarding our body images. The women and men that you see in the media always fit exactly the same criteria: skinny, fair-skinned, glossy hair, and golden ratio facial features. This is not an accurate representation of humans. We're all of different shapes and sizes. We all have different skin tones, different hair types and different features. But the media tells us that only a select should be considered beautiful. They sell us products that they claim will help us become their definition of beautiful, such as the skin-whitening creams mentioned in my last post. Those of us who don't fit this criteria often suffer from a warped self image that drives some of us to develop life-threatening diseases, such as bulimia and depression just because they don't look a certain way. I've previously talked about that over here.

There are several other issues that plague the media. It contains a huge amount of glorified violence and abusive behaviour. Seeing violence in the media has negative, long-term effects on us: it causes us to become desensitised, meaning that we become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others. We may become more fearful about the world around us, or be more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways to others. Cultural stereotypes are prominent in the media, diminishing the richness of human diversity. The media also peddles gender stereotypes, differentiating products for young children through colours and labels, convincing them that the genders are completely different and they both require completely different items.


Messages from the media influence how we think. Mass media can be considered a shared system of knowledge, one that largely affects our mindset. It can affect how we feel about ourselves, how we interact with others and most importantly, our beliefs and values. Historically, beliefs and values are learnt through local communities. They are taught by family members, educational systems, cultural groups and our own balanced judgment. While we continue to learn much from those in our community circles, our values about what is 'right', 'true' or 'beautiful' are greatly influenced by the media. If something is depicted as positive in the mass media, then we tend to accept it, no matter how negative our balanced judgment or previous knowledge tells us that it is. 

Although right now, messages in the media are mostly negative, we can use it to do good. If the media influences the accepted norms around us, we should be able to use it in order to make sure that those norms are realistic. For example, H&M recently released an advertising campaign for their latest swimsuit line, where they used a plus-sized model. In recent years, companies such as Disney have begun to embrace diversity; in 2009, Tiana from The Princess and the Frog became the first African-American Disney princess. 

It's good to see the media tackling issues that are relevant to our world today because it is through mass media that our mindsets begin to change, as it influences our values. If models are of different shapes, sizes, races and looks, if violence is no longer glorified, if diversity is embraced, then the media will be influencing our world for the better. If the media begins to transmit positive messages, maybe the people who have negative self-images will begin to feel empowered. 

We can change the negativity that has plagued the media for so long if we just begin to question it. If we identify where it's going wrong, we can take measures to steer it back onto the right path and make a difference for the better. As Jim Morrison once said "whoever controls the media controls the mind."

9 comments:

  1. I love this post! It's kind of terrifying that everything we think/do nowadays is mostly influenced by the media

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    1. Thank you! And yeah I know, it really scares me!

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  2. This is sad to think about, but thanks for posting. Recently, I've started paying attention to the amount of photoshop used in the media... it's kinda sickening.

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  3. Love this post, I couldn't agree more. i'm often saddened or enraged by the things I see in the media...but on the other hand I recognise the power it has to spread good as well as evil. You are very knowledgeable about your topic, which is awesome. I love reading posts like this, where the person actually knows what they're talking about. Well done. And thank you for your last comment over on my blog :) xxx

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  4. Welcome back :) this post is amazing! I totally agree with you in every sense. The media controls power and 97% of media is controlled by men. So it doesn't take long to figure out why women are left with such one dimensional characters to aspire to, or exaggerated sexuality which is supposed to equate to power. Have you seen recently in social media - revelations regarding photographer Terry Richardson? I'm writing about it now for my blog but its exactly this... The treatment of women like objects in the media, which then normalises the objectification of women in society. Anyway, amazing post again:) welcome back. Www.whips-and-furs.blogspot.co.uk xx

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    1. Thanks so much x I haven't seen them! I can't wait to read all about it on your blog (:

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  5. Beautiful! You have a really nice blog here! I like your posts! :)

    My Fashion Jar

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  6. this is such a beautifully articulated post and exactly along the current lines of my thinking. i really hate cultural stereotypes for the reason you mentioned. and i think the idea of gender can be so harmful due to the limitations it puts on people from such a young age. sometimes i catch myself hardly reacting to something really really horrific and it bugs me so much how i've become desensitised to some things. like, just because something is factual it doesn't have to be dealt with coldly or indifferently.
    i would really like for the media to encourage people to use their brains more and give people things to think about. i get so disappointed when i pick up a magazine and see the same sorts of things with all the same features. for a world that's so diverse it's a shame our media doesn't seem to reflect that.
    x

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  7. This is really well written and well thought out, I completely agree with everything you said. If only the media would use its influence in a way that could widen people's perspectives, emphasise issues such as feminism and racism, redefine what is "normal", be inclusive of all types of people and maybe allow people to think for themselves?

    Btw, I've changed my blog url to http://perpetual-perplexities.blogspot.co.nz/ so you'll have to follow me again to see my posts on google reader or you can follow me on bloglovin' :)

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