I’m sure it has happened plenty of times. When you finish watching a movie and afterwards feel so inspired. This is often when the movie hero was presented as someone we would like to be or has a personality that we admire. Sometimes it can be other characters that are shown to be “cool”, attractive, and popular that also inspires us to mimic their personality traits. Movies can also prompt us to try certain activities. Of course this can be seen as the beneficial side of media; the fact that there could be that one movie that has the power to influence someone to become a better person.
But like almost everything, there’s a downside to it too. The fact that media can be convincing in positive ways suggests that it can equally convey negative messages as well. The way that movies or television shows portray their characters is something that definitely needs to be paid attention to. The rebellious heroes, senseless social statuses, and unhealthy activities characters engage in are all factors that will influence the audience. Therefore it is important to consider whether it is worth presenting the characters in this way.
A large majority of movies are presenting their characters as bad people, yet the people that anyone would find themselves wanting to be. I believe that is wrong, thus movies and TV shows should include better role models for their audiences. Current movies portray violence without consequence, inaccurate representations of social statuses and social interaction, and encourage characters to engage in activities with more harm than good. Many of the heroes in movies happen to be quite rebellious and are often involved in violence.
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It’s usually the fact that they’re so involved in violence that helps them obtain their cool, heroic status. The characters we see as role models are always showing that violence can be used as a quick fix for conflicts to avoid negative consequences. K. A. Earles states, “This depiction of violence increases the probability that violence will be one of the first strategies chosen by a child. ” Bandura, a professor in psychology at Stanford University demonstrated that preschoolers learn aggressive behavior by watching television. Three groups of children were shown a film n which a man commands a human-sized doll to move, and when it did not he hit the doll with his fists, a mallet, and then rubber balls. In other words, he used violence as an immediate strategy. Group one saw the man rewarded. Group two saw the episode end without reward or punishment. Group three saw the actor receive a verbal lecture. After watching the film, the children in groups one and two were seen to behave more aggressively than the ones in group three. This proves that the consequences characters find themselves facing has quite a strong impact on how the audience will act.
What encourages violence even more is that it is often carried out by the hero in the story line who is then rewarded for his/her endorsement in violence. “Such constant exposure to portrayals of physical violence, some of which viewers do not even recognize as violent, may dull a child’s aversion to this behavior. ” says K. A. Earles. Reenactments of national worldwide disasters such as terrorism scenes or brutal wars are one thing. But for a fictional superhero to battle and beat his “enemies” with realistic and bloody dramatizations is not a good way to entertain kids.
There aren’t many positive or useful characteristics of the role model heroes for the children to gain besides their “charismatic” and “brave” personalities but they express these lovely character traits through violence. They care for the ones who are in danger so they save them with violence. As they stand up to their enemy and begin to battle them they show out their bravery. These heroes are showing young boys that if you are not strong enough, not brave enough to endorse in a physical fight then you are not capable to be someone as amazing and powerful as they are.
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Physical strength is spotlighted while intellectual strength is forgotten. Sharon Lamb, a professor of mental health at University of Massachusetts-Boston surveyed 674 boys aged 4 to 18 to analyze marketing trends for action figures and movies. This resulted in violence, emotional aloofness, and general hyper-masculinity being the main messages directors of these movies are promoting to young boys. This shows us that there aren’t many useful or healthy things these movies are promoting to their audiences. This only leads me to conclude that directors need to think over the way they are presenting their heroes.
Violence is not the only existing strategy. As well as action movies, there are the modern teenage soap operas. I’ve noticed that these programs have a distorted portrayal of the theoretically existing teenage social statuses. There are always the good people and the bad people, the “cool” people and the “lame” ones. Although most television programs are to entertain, having a message or lesson for the audience to gain is also important. As mentioned earlier, the way the characters are portrayed is very significant to the audience since they are what influence the audience.
There are the more obvious heroes which are the supermen in action movies but the less spotlighted ones in calmer, closer-to-reality programs. In these kinds of films, the “hero” would be a character the audience finds themselves admiring and looking up to. This depends on the way the characters in the film are presented. A person who our society would admire and want to be has very precise but general character traits; a confident, rich, bossy girl who has an attractive appearance and good leadership skills. It’s practically the same for boys.
Society’s image of a picture perfect female or male is neglecting the many other personality traits of a human being that makes them a good and interesting person. Movies present the “popular guy” typically as someone who is necessarily good at sports for instance, and send the message to younger boys that if they are not good at sports they can’t expect to be at the top of the theoretical social scale regardless of other good qualities they can have. The same goes for girls. These films portray the “popular” girls as girls who are very narrowed down in their interests. Female adolescents are portrayed as being obsessed with their appearance. ”
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Smart people are shown to be socially unaccepted. “Intellects are frequently viewed as social misfits. ” These movies are encouraging and strengthening society’s distorted image of who the “popular” kids should be and contribute to a very inaccurate picture of what social interaction and social status is built on in reality. Young girls or boys may start to think that if they are not what the “cool kids” are presented as in movies, then they will not be successful or liked. This is definitely not the kind of message that should be sent to the younger generations.
Lastly, quite a few of the activities characters in movies or TV shows engage in are not healthy and do not set good examples for young teens. The usage of alcohol and drugs is always by the cool, popular kids who will then convince the kids and teens a part of their audience to try them at one point. “Social Learning Theory suggests that children learn by watching, imitating, and assimilating. ” This only proves that the majority of the children that are exposed to media that is practically encouraging alcohol and drug usage will most likely try it in attempt to imitate their role models.
Movies propel the idea of these bad habits being “cool”. With teenagers picking up their first cigarette as early as 14 years of age, evidently there’s a problem. As many parents and adults may have noticed, kids/teens are beginning to have a distorted idea of what sex is all about and media may be the main cause for their way of thinking. Many movies and shows portray it as a normal thing to indulge in, therefore teens are enacting what they see from the media and often end up being pregnant or contracting a sexually transmitted disease. A study was done on 75 girls in which half were pregnant.
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It was found that the pregnant girls watched more soap operas than the non-pregnant girls and were found more surprised when told that their favorite soap opera characters used any sex protection. According to the National Survey of Children, males who watched more television were found to be more sexually active than the ones who watched less television. “Television may be a significant contributor to the sexual practices and attitudes of young people. ” All of these things may be a part of a movie to show what it’s like out there but there must be some sort of proof of it being a bad thing to no give out the wrong message.
Having characters in movies continuously smoking cigarettes and never even considering the consequences of having sex may influence kids in a completely wrong way. All of these reasons strongly suggest that the role models portrayed in movies and television shows can influence the younger audiences in negative ways. If teenagers are continuously exposed to such behaviors their minds will adjust to thinking in a certain way and no matter how hard their loved ones will afterwards try to convince them that these activities are wrong, that these behaviors are wrong, they will not be capable of changing their minds.
Dear parents, are you okay with your 14 year old daughter already indulging in sexual activity, and your 15 year old son reacting violently and aggressively to any confrontations? Dear world, do you believe it’s acceptable for young girls to stress about their appearance and feel bad about themselves simply because of the way they look? For boys to believe that sports are what they are bound to engage in to be liked? Directors of movies should start to think how to get society to think differently, rather than encourage its shallow beliefs.
Fighting scenes should not be the only entertaining scenes for kids. More creative ways of how to entertain children in a positive way could be thought of. The modern teenage popular kids should all have different interests and be liked for who they are and not what they look like. Pathetic assumptions and senseless social statuses in general should be presented in a brighter way in programs. Unhealthy activities should be portrayed as the bad things to do rather than the “cool” things. Kids will follow their role models, and if they’re role models are doing good things, it’s likely they will too.
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