Since the beginning of radio and television broadcasting, the world has had a new and faster way of learning about the world that had never been given to them before. Families sitting in a living room listening to the latest details of an ongoing war or having dinner watching the latest episode of Jackie Gleason, the way technology affected us and our daily habits was forever changed. The same also holds true today. From sporting events to election campaigns of the next world leaders, there has never been a better way of communicating to the masses anything that someone with the money and ability would want to share. This is good in some ways but worse in most, especially when it comes to the behaviors of the American people.
According to recent statistics, the average citizen of the United States and Britain watch more television per week than any other countries in the world. (NationMaster.com) This is no surprise in the fact that they spend the most money on television programs, commercials and movies than anyone on the planet. Average television actor earns hundreds of thousands of dollars per episode and movie actors earn millions of dollars per film. These people are known as stars and the more they get paid the more they are idolized by the common person. They are also the ones who are paid the most attention to. This is also true with athletes, singers, entertainment personalities and public figures. The United States has most of the highest paid in all these categories.
Americans are influenced the most by entertainers of their day. They grow up with the hopes and dreams of one day being stars themselves in whatever interest them the most. The bright of a young athlete may have posters on the wall of their favorite players, an aspiring young actress will study the ways of her favorite actress or a young singer may practice the songs of his favorite recording artist and in the eyes of each one of these youths, their favorite can do no wrong. They will try to emulate them in every way possible. Unfortunately not all stars of America are what one would call ideal roll models.
These same entertainers are used in every way possible when it comes to advertising. Companies know that older people are the ones who have the money so they will pay whatever they need to get their products in the hands of the stars. Americans tend to higher annual income per capita when it comes to the rest of the world so they are targeted the most. In addition, Americans place a higher than normal priority on material possession.
The amount of violence that is in Americans entertainment such as movies and television also has a huge impact of its people. Children see it from the time they are able to watch TV and Americans grow up with this type of behavior embedded in our minds and it is nothing new broadcast it to its viewers. Movies portray many criminals in lavish stories of wealth and power that it is always on the mind of someone living here who is trying to make it in an unforgiving world. If they can’t acquire material possessions the legal way, lots of Americans will turn to violence to get them. Movies such as “The Godfather”,” Goodfellas” and “The Departed” are all good examples of this.
The selling of illegal drugs is another way that Americans have chosen to try and make money. The United States ranks number one in the world with current drug users with over one third of its population trying or using drugs on a daily basis. (CBS News Health Watch)That’s over 100 million people every day experimenting with drugs. Movies have made the drug life seem exciting and profitable to many Americans. Movies such as “Scarface”, “Blow”, “New Jack City” and “American Gangster” all show drug dealing as such.
Americans number one expense is housing which is not surprising. That is usually the way it is in every country. What’s surprising is that Americans spend more money on their transportation then they do on the food that they eat. (Forbes.com) This is something that is definitely not seen in most countries. It can be attributed to the use of stars in television commercials and what they make us believe we need to drive to feel successful. Most countries are happy to get from point A to point B no matter what the mode of transportation. Americans are so caught up with what they have and don’t have that society and the media have made them believe, that they don’t realize everything they are privy to by just living in the United States. Americans have in the eyes of the world become spoiled and although we all know that that it not true for everyone, once again this is a media effect that affects the worlds view of us.
Commercials in the United States have also impacted the overall health of Americans. Besides the United Kingdom, the United States consumes the most fast food per person per year. Fast food companies spend millions of dollars advertising their high calorie meals to us and
when we are in quick need of something to eat, lots of Americans don’t think twice about going to the nearest McDonalds or Wendy’s for something to fill their appetite. It’s almost impossible to drive anywhere in the United States without seeing an ad for fast food. This has made Americans the most “obese” country on the planet with over thirty percent of its citizens considered over weight. (BBC News)
Media also has a huge impact on the way Americans define beauty. Magazines, television and billboard ads all show models with perfect skeleton structure and lean muscular bodies that most everyone defines as the perfect shape. Young Americans are affected the most by such ads. In trying to find themselves and fit in, teenagers look to these models as what they should look like to be beautiful on the outside and can become obsessed with trying to be like them.
Right along with how young americans define beauty due to these advertisements, large advertising companies also now define what young americans define as cool. According to studies done in recent history, young americans spend about one hundred billion dollars a year to achieve what main stream media has told them it is to be cool and the parents of these young americans spend another fifty billion on top of that for them. (Merchants of Cool 2001) Trend setters such as MTV are used as marketing tools to promote to teenagers what it takes to be cool in a world that is just trying to keep up with the fads they that are thrust upon them. There is nothing more important to the typical young american than to become popular with the world and media giants like this take full advantage. It doesn't matter what affect it has on the youth, they are just trying to make their money and make it fast.
Advertising techniques which are used in mainstream media used in the United States today are making young men more rebellious and crude and making young girls want to be older than what they are. Young girls use their premature sexuality to attract the male species without fully understanding it themselves and this causes lots of problems for them and their relationship with their families. Young men lose their manners and worry more about being abnoxious and dirty, techniques they learned by watching television and movies and try to get the attention of the young girls who are using their sexuality against them. It’s a dangerous combination which has led to many teen rape cases along with teen pregnancies. These kinds of problems themselves had been started by the companies who were just out to make a quick buck.
Which brings us to another problem that it causes in America. Many cases of teen suicides can be directly associated with the depression that is caused by never being able to achieve the perfect looks that these ads project as perfection. It’s a self-feeling of rejection when they believe they are fat or ugly when they can’t meet up with the unrealistic standards of physical appearance that society places on them to be beautiful. (Life Style Lounge) This never ending pressure that teenagers with their over active hormones causes them to act out these feelings of suicide with out ever getting the chance to realize that beauty is from within and not only what we look like.
On the completely other side of the spectrum, American politicians have been using the media more as an election tool rather than a way of expressing their own opinions. They use television to skew the minds of the voters to what they want them to believe so that
they will put a check mark next to their name when it comes time to vote. They will dig up dirt on their opponents and spread it like wild fire without even a second thought of the personal trauma it may cause the other. The only care for the politician is to get in office or to remain in office. How much money one is willing to spend on advertising and who someone knows is now more important than the truth. “All of the American broadcast media, and most of the print media as well, are owned primarily by wealthy individuals. Direct ties to the biggest of big businesses are almost unbelievably extensive and, we believe, these ties cannot help but seriously bias and compromise news coverage.” (Peter Phillips 1998)
Politicians also use the media as propaganda for war to fill their personal goals. Young men and women who serve in our armed services today are subject to fighting wars that have a person best interest in mind rather than a nation. By being able to mold stories to their likings and then unleashing it to the populations, leaders are able to gain support for their military offenses so that the questions that should be raised in any conflict can be kept to a minimum and people will wave flags at the highest levels of corruption. These exaggerated stories that are brought on by stories of atrocities, fighting and critical issues cause people to act before really thinking. (Media on War 2011)
The media will always be protected by the amendments of the United States so it will always be available to Americans for whatever use they can afford. The responsibly lies on the nation and how we choose to accept everything that we see and hear. People will accept whatever society accepts so it is important that people learn to make their own opinions about every important issue in their lives. Until this happens, the media will be the driving force in America and everything we do.
Nation Master. Figures for European countries are from Andries van den Broek, 'Leisure across Europe. Comparing 14 populations, conveying 1 pattern' (Paper to International Association for Time Use Research, Annual Conference, Lisbon, 2002). The American figure is from Sanchez-Tabernero, Media Concentration in Europe. The Australian figure is from Australian Commercial Television 1986-1995 (Bureau of Transport and Communication Economics, AGPS, Canberra, 1996. http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/med_tel_vie-media-television-viewing
Warner, Jennifer. CBS News, U.S. Leads the World in Illegal Drug Use. July 1, 2008. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/07/01/health/webmd/main4222322.shtml
Laurence H. M. Holland and David M. Ewalt. Forbes Magazine, How Americans Make and Spend Their Money, July 19, 2006. Retrieved from Forbes.com http://www.forbes.com/2006/07/19/spending-income-level_cx_lh_de_0719spending.html
FRONTLINE, Merchants of Cool, PBS 2001
Admin, Lifestyle Lounge, Why Suicidal Cases are Increasing among Teenagers. Rejection Retrieved from Iloveindia.com. (31-39) http://lifestyle.iloveindia.com/lounge/why-suicidal-cases-are-increasing-among-7728.html
Censored 1998: The News that Didn't Make the News, by Peter Phillips & Project Censored, The Center for Responsive Politics, stop-ftaa, www.ita.doc.gov/td/icp/isac.html
Admin, Media on War, The Impact of War on Society. July 9, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.mwaw.org/