How Alcoholism is shown in the Media Sector
Visual culture refers to all the things in a culture that have a visual appearance and play a major role in their existence. It entails the provision and utilization activities of the elite groups' personal and popular types of media. Media refers to all channels of communication, targeting the masses in the form of sports, news, social sites, education etc. These include; Television, radio, newspapers, social sites such as face book and twitter, and the internet. The media portrays alcoholism in various ways; both good and bad. The media generally plays a crucial role in determining the intake of alcoholic drinks and especially among the youth. Currently, the media gives alcoholism a lot of attention in one way or another and as a result, more people have become adequately convinced to become alcoholic.
People believe that the media has significantly contributed to alcoholism and that it is to blame for the high rise in alcoholism in the country. The media often associates alcohol with sexuality. Many alcoholic drinks advertising in a way to suggest that alcohol will increase the person's sexual appeal. This approach often targets the men and persuades them to get involved in drinking. As a result, many of them and especially the youth get into alcoholism in order to become heroes in their sexually.
In this image, the drink “Jose Cuervo” is advertised with the picture of a man and woman in each other’s arms dripping wet. This advertisement is sexually oriented-the drink slogan being “pursues your dreams”. This suggests that the drink will enable the person taking it pursue their sexual dreams. As a result, many way ward characters will opt to try this drink in order to find out whether or not the promise of sexual fulfillment and satisfaction is true. The advertisement also has great influence due to the fact that it is present in several magazines, bill boards and television stations. It is however, necessary to note that different people interpret things differently. The advertisement's slogan for instance, may catch the attention of people whose lives are miserable and dream to have a better life. Such people may decide to take the beer in order to escape their miserable lives and “pursue” their dreams.
In this image, there is a man holding two glasses of the drink “bacard”. The disturbing thing about this image is the fact that he is sandwiched between two half-naked women. This advertisement is unquestionably sexually oriented. As seen earlier, this nature of advertisement usually targets the men. The media here portrays alcoholism as a field for sexual heroism and a place for one to escape their problems. The slogan that is given by the “bacard” beer advertisement is “zoning inspector by day, bacard by night”. This message tries to create the impression that it is necessary for one to take their brand of alcohol in order to have a successful sex life. Consequently, many people engage in taking alcohol so as to improve their sex lives and better their chances of interaction. Obviously, these are just marketing gimmicks that are not necessarily true. From these advertising methods, one can deduce that the media promotes alcoholism and promiscuity and tends to show sexual perversion and drunkenness as something for the cool people. This explains why there are so many rehabilitation centers in the country and unwanted pregnancy cases.
Alcoholism is seen as a way of adding spice to one's life. In this image advertisement, the “macallan” drink is as a key ingredient to adding colour to life. In the picture, there are two men; one living a normal, boring life, or, so they want the audience to think, and another with colorful wings. The media makes the audience imagine that taking the particular brand of whisky would give them wing in life. Here, alcohol is portrayed as something vital in the life of a person as it gives certain advantages-wings. In other words, a life without alcohol is a dull and dreary life and is not worth living. This is extremely misleading especially for youth, and is not in any way true. Unfortunately, few people think critically about such advertisements and tend to take them very seriously. Since nobody wants to live a boring life, many people take to drinking thinking that it will add flavor and spice to their lives. They end up being miserable alcoholics who have no control whatsoever over the course of their lives, and spend the rest of their lives struggling with alcohol addiction.
Being seen as stylish and cool is something that a lot of people value. The sad thing about this is that many people have become alcoholics due to what the public thinks. In this picture, the advertisement refers to the beer “miller” as the nectar of the guys. Such a statement can easily influence many men to take it since it suggests that real men drink. Every man wants to be seen as stylish and cool, at least most do. As a result, people who would have otherwise, not been alcoholics take up the habit and become drunkards in order to fit in with the rest of the people in the society. It is also, pertinent to note that the visual representation of the image also, contributes to increase or decrease in its consumption rate and or degree. Therefore, advertisements are usually visually presented in a certain way that will be appealing to a certain group or groups of people.
Advertisers are very conversant with visual culture and how it works. This is the reason why the choice of words and images for an advertisement is very important and must be able to relate to the needs of the consumer. In order to appeal to the eyes of the audience, classy packaging is used to advertise the drinks. In this image, the statement above the bottle is that every other person has bought wine instead of the silver; it ends by stating that to be perfect. This is so as to make the audience think that silver tequila is more superior to wine and thus make them opt for it as opposed to buying wine which everyone else uses. This in a way also encourages the consumption of alcohol. The last is a photo taken of a billboard advertisement. The message there is extremely deceptive as it suggests that the light beer is more important than anything else including sleep. This message also creates a mental picture of how short life is and that the target audience should see to it that they do not let life pass them by without having enjoyed themselves. The form of entertainment in this case is the beer branded 'light'.
The media shows alcoholism and drunkenness as a way to pass time and have fun. It also portrays as glamour as whatever celebrities do is seen to be stylish and glamorous. When people, the youth especially see that a certain celebrity drinks, they take it to be cool. As a result, many young people have engaged in both drunkenness and immorality in order to emulate the ways of celebrities. Movies and other television programs also portray taking alcohol as part of the life, of any regular person. In such programs, the people who do not drink appear boring and backward people, while those who drink seem fun and stylish. The effects of alcohol often shown on television and other forms of media are often not realistic. This therefore, creates a false opinion in the minds of the viewers. These effects are usually sexual arousal, laughter and addiction. As a result, people tend to view drinking as an essential part of life and end up doing it so as to blend in with the stylish people, not knowing the true effects of alcohol.
Alcohol consumption is also greatly promoted by social networks such as face book, twitter and Skype among others. This is through the pictures posted by people of their parties, night outs bonfires and hikes. These pictures often contain people taking alcohol with their friends for fun. As a result, people who do not have such experience may admire having such a lifestyle. Peer pressure on social networks also contributes to the increased rate of alcoholism. This is because the people who drink may shun and ill-treat those who do not. Consequently, the non-alcoholics may start drinking so as to be accepted by the stylish people. Social groups and pages on social networks also contribute to an increase in alcoholism. Pages and groups with names like “drink till you drop” or “Alcohol is for the cool ones, say no to the losers”, may cause many members of a certain social network to start drinking.
It is however, important to note that the media also plays a role in discouraging the use of alcohol. This is due to the efforts made by certain groups geared at banning the consumption of alcohol. This can be seen through the anti-alcohol campaigns throughout the country. The same media used to establish and maintain the consumption of alcohol, is in use by a different group of people to discourage and eliminate its use. Documentaries show casing the negative effects of alcohol for instance show the consequences of alcoholism. Such features may successfully cause some people who were previously drunkards decide to stop taking alcohol. It may also cause people who admired alcoholics lose interest in the same and opt not to get involved with alcohol.
In conclusion, the media plays a very significant role in the consumption of alcohol. The media's depiction of alcohol and alcoholism is bad and greatly promotes the use of it. As seen earlier, sex and alcoholism to the audience, go hand in hand and advertisements often deceive the audience that taking alcohol could increase their sexual appeal to the opposite sex. Alcohol is also seen as a source of pleasure and is associated with glamour, class and style. Programs on television, newspapers, magazines and social networks view drinking as a natural part of life, and although there are some cases through which the media is used to, fight against alcoholism, most of the time it encourages it. Therefore, the media supports the use of alcohol more than it discourages it.
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