Before one can decide how entertainment media affects American values, one must discern what exactly American values are. In 1965, Sociologist Robin Williams identified 12 American values:
o Achievement and success
o Activity and work
o Efficiency and practicality
o Science and Technology
o Material comfort
o Racism and group superiority
In 1975, Sociologist James Henslin added three more values
o Romantic love (Schissler, 2008).
In what ways have various forms of entertainment media shaped American culture and its values?
When people watch a TV show, the events depicted are already happening around them, they are already being exposed to these ideas. Music is created by the events in their lives, it rebels against the events, or it agrees with the events. Sometimes it is another point of view. Movies are anything from fantasy lands, to how the future might look, to an adventure a person can go on and forget the problems of the world, or comedies that make people laugh.
Television is a reflection of what is going on around us. In the 1950s, there was Lucille Ball, breaking from “traditional” gender roles, but it was already happening in the real world. Lucille Ball did not make millions of women get up and decide they wanted more in life; they had already decided that. Women were already pushing the boundaries of acceptable behavior. In the 1970s, Mary Tyler Moore depicted a single, divorced woman in the workforce which was also happening in the real world. Women did not suddenly decide they wanted divorces, or that they wanted to hold down jobs. Modern Family depicts the average blended American family which ...
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... a conscious choice people make, it is a disease. The show brings awareness to the public, not to denigrate people who live this way but so that people who see it, can help them instead of shunning them.
I have been told I have a very different way of looking at the world. I tend to see things differently than anyone else. I do not think entertainment media does shape American culture and values; I think American culture and values shape entertainment media. The events we live through on a daily basis; war, poverty, homelessness, crime, sacrifice, random acts of kindness, these are the things that shape the American culture. Our values begin at home, things our parents, churches, and society instill in us. As we go out on our own, sometimes those values can change because we learn that life is not black and white, it also comes in many shades of gray.
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