Does the entertainment media reflect the standards of the American people, or does the entertainment media define the standards of the American people? This question is difficult to answer because of the complex interaction between American culture and the entertainment industry. To some extent, the entertainment media does gets feedback on what viewers want to see in the form of Nielson ratings and box office returns. But the simple fact remains that the content produced and delivered by way of television, the film industry, and the major music labels are controlled by a relatively small group of individuals.
Entertainment media does not reflect standards of American people. Instead, it defines what the people want. The mass media is controlled by a selected group of people who decide what shows get aired, and what the content of those shows should be. The television ratings system and box office returns provide some feedback, but the only real concern is over what is the most profitable. One major concern with the content of media is the effect it has on very young children. Disney movies have taken quite a beating over the years because of stereotypes they “force” into children’s minds.
Stereotypes in “The Little Mermaid” re a good example of this. Ariel, the star/role model in the movie, plays the part of a helpless, blundering female. As soon as she was left on her own, she immediately got herself into trouble. There was always a male needing to protect her. Another example of stereotypes is in the movie “Dumbo”, where the crows that gave Dumbo the magic feather were portrayed as very stereotypical images of African Americans. They were shown as jolly, easy-going, and vulgar. Disney’s animated films influence children in their formative years of life. Do we want our children growing up with these corrupt images in their heads?
Of course not! But there is not much that can be done about changing the content. If a young girl wishes to grow up to ! be “just like Ariel”, then what should you tell her? Maybe it is a perfect opportunity for her parents to sit her down and teach her about the differences between fairy tales and reality. Television sitcoms and prime time TV series commonly depict a family with a mom, dad (or even step mom or dad), several children, and a pet or two, all in a fairly stable relationship with one another. Never does abuse, neglect, or other common family problems actually occur in the main family of a sitcom.
Again it should be taught to the children at an early age (perhaps in elementary school? ) that TV fiction is not an equivalent to reality by any means, and that if their life does not “measure up”, it is normal, and nothing to be embarrassed about. Then there is product placement in television and movies. In some ways, seeing actual products that people recognize from daily life makes the television and movie sets appear more realistic. So in that way, entertainment media may be reflecting the American people.
But, a lot of the brand name products used on movie and television sets are there because a orporate sponsor paid to have their product included the media content. This has become fairly common, and is a smart means of advertising. What is shown on TV and movies looks real to people, so if their product is included in a popular sitcom or movie, the company will most likely find quite an increase in market sales. So, in turn, the entertainment media does in fact define what the public wants as a whole. If a person or group of people disagree with what they see on television, then they have every right to just flip the channel or educate themselves or their children to base their opinions more on individual thought.