Monday, January 30, 2012

From Movies and Conduct

While reading Blumer’s “From Movies and Conduct,” I instantly thought of how this article from 1933 relates to modern day media. Blumer mentions that it’s insufficient to regard motion pictures as a fantasy world, or “unreality.” He goes on to say that motion pictures are educational, but may conflict or fill gaps in what is taught in school, the home or by the church.

Now in 2012, we have fully embraced “reality,” through reality TV shows. Shows like Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant have raised a great deal of controversy. These shows definitely contrast with many home upbringings and with what the church says about premarital sex. Some say the show scares teens from getting pregnant. But the show has also done the opposite and has made girls want to get pregnant. MTV, the favorite TV of girls 11-19, regularly includes girls and women in the traditional role of sex object, as seen in features on the network (think Spring Break) and many music videos.  Do you think modern day movies and reality TV are helping or hindering the minds of our youth? Do you think these shows accurately display “reality”?



  1. I was thinking about reality TV too when reading this article! Particularly with 16 and Pregnant or TeenMom, this girls became famous appearing in People Magazine. Even though the show was created to depict the trials of being a teenage parent, the show ended up making it look more glamorous - that is, if you can make it on TV. Reality TV seems to be created with the intent to capture "real life" but seems to instead create an idea of life. You can easily sympathize with Blumer's point in this article, particularly about molding young minds with new media. (Excuse me while I grab my robe and bunny slippers and yell at those kids to get off my darned lawn what with their shenanigans.)

  2. Belinda, I think you make a very interesting point with your modern day comparison.

    Blumer wrote that "When such forms of conduct are clothed with romance and attended by successful consequence, as they are likely to be in motion pictures, their appeal is apt to be particularly strong" (p. 93)--echoing Jane Addams' sentiments regarding the non-reality that is promoted via the theatre.

    Entertainment communication, then, is seemingly faced with a no-win situation when you consider the advent of the reality-based TV of today. Movies that thrive on fantasy supposedly fill impressionable minds with lies and set America's youth up for disappointment, yet reality-based shows are also accused of sending the wrong message.

    While "reality" shows are not entirely real, I do think they offer kernels of truth on subjects (like teen pregnancy) that might otherwise go untouched for adolescents. Just like movies based on fantasy foster(ed) imagination--equally as important.

    As discussed in class last week, there is really no single job or criticism that can be attributed to the media. It is an inescapable force of our society and I think it is better to responsibly embrace it--real or fictional--rather than stifle it.

  3. The ideas in this article tie well with one that I read for group 2 today (#39 - Information, Language, and Society).

    One of the things that Wiener talks about is the idea that the dissemination of information in a group -- especially one in a large society -- is controlled by the media. This becomes a problem when the media's secondary functions (money making) are considered. When issues of money are introduceD the messages tend to change. Wiener then explains that it is the wealthy white man who decides what information is brought to a group.

    If these ideas are still true, and I believe they are, to me this means that the networks don't care about the messages they are sending -- good or bad. Someone saw an opportunity to capitalize on the issues of teen pregnancy (in this case MTV), and took it knowing that they could continue to glamorize and publicize these girls' lives for as long as the profits outweigh the costs (the literal costs, not the welfare of the youth on the show or young audience).

    So, to answer your questions, Belinda, I think (arguing from Wieners perspective) that whether or not these shows are accurately portraying the lives if these girls isn't a concern of the network nor are the messages that the series is sending. In this case, and many others, it's all about the money.