Presently, since media has been progressing quite rapid, grasping every aspect of society in its visual representation and bringing about awareness to the masses, all over. In America, television has become a constant presence ever since it has been introduced. It has been keeping devoted to the many hours of its visually enticing content, bringing about a continuous stream of entertainment for people to devote hours upon hours to it. Considering this, it has been researched that television has been competing with other forms of possibly defined by human interaction, inclusive of interactions with family, friends, school, church, and work. Television has contributed towards educating youth on topics of social values, norms, assisting them develop an understanding of their surroundings, and providing knowledge compromised on diversity. Television, for the American households, has influenced their values, social values, beliefs based on their self-presumed values, as well as of those living with them, belonging to different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Television shows have undergone many changes throughout the years, evolving based on the changes in preference and viewer selection.
Television and its deliverance in the variety of shows for the audience has been a recent topic for researchers. Presently, one of the common questions that gets looked into the most is, “What role is Television exactly playing towards the wellbeing of society?” Decade after decade, it was noticeable that the world around us advanced with every new development in the field of technology. Presently, our societies develop through means of communication and the effective use of mass media. In consideration of media’s role, American citizens rely mostly on the news delivered to them by sports, news, and entertainment. This necessarily indicates that every household in American society deems it an important commodity. However, like most of the commodities owned by individuals, television too has its positive and negative impacts on its viewers. This brings it down to the fact of what kind of influence and information the viewer squeezes out of the content presented via television.
Television and its Racial Impact
In the past, American media mostly presented commercials and shows that featured Caucasians (White) actors and actresses. This continued on until the year 1970, until variations were introduced and diversity was brought around to revolutionize American media. The few minorities that did get to be featured in commercials and shows, were portrayed in a negative sense. For instance, the African American people who would get parts in shows, would get roles of servants while a Native American would get the prominent role of being featured as a warrior in a Western setting. This criterion implied a negative impact on the social standards and attracted a lot of criticism towards the depiction of racial values in media.
Around the years following after 1970, the media companies in America brought major changes in their representation of media, while focusing on the households. Media companies started collecting data based on the income, status, age, education, and ethnical criteria’s of the American households viewing their content. The data collected assisted in tailoring out content specific to accommodate their needs. During this time another evident fact that came about was the concern the television network companies shifted their focus from the rural and older audience, towards the urban and younger viewers (Kellner 1981, 31-62).
Television and Familial Values
During the year 1950, television was perceived as a source for bringing the family together, engaging them with entertaining shows. This was the most essential element that gave a proper meaning to “family entertainment.” It was observed in 1950 that most American households would only have one television set, meaning that many family would gather around to collectively watch the evening shows. Considering this fact enabled the network to create television shows that were comical and matched the preference of the masses. Most of the fictional families shown in TV shows had a dominating influence towards shaping the familial values and real lives of many families in America.
Most of the family around the time of 1950 also depicted various forms of diversity in their lifestyle, which is notable of not fully presenting the American lifestyle as a whole. Late 1950’s was the time when network created sitcoms (Situation Comedy) was rapidly gaining popularity among various American families. Many of the sitcoms shown on television presented fictional families that displayed the lives of middle-aged, Caucasian families living in the suburbs. Donna Reed Show, Father Knows Best, and Leave it to Beaver are a few of the notable shows that impacted the familial values, and became successful around this time. Start of 2000’s was when things picked up a new trend and many families started to own more than one television set. Around this time, the prior meaning to “family time” evolved and consisted of individual viewing mostly. Surveys indicated that families slowly started to drift apart, viewing shows of their preference. This conclusively gave rise to a pattern that had a negative impact on the conceptual perception of American families. Individual viewing paved way for social interaction and collective viewing slowly to decay and distanced children from their parents.
Although, television is mostly criticized for adding distances within families, but quite noticeably from recent surveys, it portrays that people have been drawn together. Most television shows have allowed for friends to come together to watch their favorite shows together. Television shows such as “Game of Thrones”, “The Walking Dead”, and “Breaking Bad” are among few of the examples of shows that gained rapid popularity among the masses and quickly became their most obsessed shows. Some of the television shows being aired today have displayed information based on society. The stories displayed in these television shows are relatable and describe the way an individual views the society around them and the facts they weren’t aware of before.
Television, ever since it was introduced brought around both positive and negative impacts on family values. It assisted towards reshaping cultural and social values, aided towards developing an understanding based on racial values and understanding various diversities in cultural familial values. 1950 depicted various forms of diversity in their lifestyle, which is notable of not fully presenting the American lifestyle as a whole. In consideration of media’s role, American citizens rely mostly on the news delivered to them by sports, news, and entertainment. Years following after 1970, the media companies in America brought major changes in their representation of media, while focusing on the households (Douglas 2016). Around the start of 2000 was when things picked up a new trend and many families started to own more than one television set. Around this time, the prior meaning to “family time” evolved and consisted of individual viewing mostly. Television has had a dominate impact on families and its prominent role towards reshaping societies. Some of the television shows being aired today have displayed information based on society. These television shows, based on fictional settings, brought forward the suppressed stories, bringing the focus of the masses towards educating themselves on different aspects of society. Families now, are more engaged in discussing television than they were in the past. Much criticism has been towards the negative impact on television, however there are positive influences that go unnoticed and less debated.
Douglas, William. “Television Depictions of the American Family.” The International Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Communication (2016).
“9.2 The Relationship Between Television And Culture | Understanding Media And Culture: An Introduction To Mass Communication”. Open.Lib.Umn.Edu, 2018, http://open.lib.umn.edu/mediaandculture/chapter/9-2-the-relationship-between-television-and-culture/.
Kellner, Douglas. “Network television and American society.” Theory and Society 10.1 (1981): 31-62.