This post relates to previous one of Plato’s Allegory Of The Cave (which is explained in my previous post) as it evaluates the construction of society through shadowed and distorted views of reality to form its own, leading to individuals growing up in a world in which they think these mirages are the only versions of truth to aspire to be. It is not only via acknowledging the light, but seeking to understand and interpret images that we gain a sense of freedom from our imprisonment in the darkness.
What is reality and why do we believe it to be so? The media represents its own idealistic reality which favors itself through its construction of societal norms built on the premise of stereotypes, gender and racial hierarchies to determine what information we see to abide by its rules of conduction.
The media expresses the dominant ideology of the current society in which it operates and continuously reiterates those messages in order to connect to more people as well as spread its beliefs.
In this way we see that the media selects and constructs a reality, Wallis (2012), it is not an accurate reflection of it, such as the shadows casted on the wall in The Cave.
Although women rights campaigns had started, women during 1960s America were still subjected to social expectations of submissiveness and objectification.
Compared to the 2011 television series, Suits, which shows a young, mixed-race paralegal and law student, Rachel Zane as a supporting character.
In this way we see society’s shift of norm and acceptance by displaying a smart and ambitious women in the corporate world on such a public scale. And I know, we could argue about some of the revealing outfits and beauty standards of the female casts in this show, but we have to give credit to the creators for moving us out of the kitchen.
The media can never be truly objective as it is created by people, which are emotive. This can be seen in the Allegory as the prisoners defined the images that they were seeing based on their interpretation of it not knowing any other view or connection to it, but their mere exposure to it.
It is also important when analyzing media to note who is representing whom and the power relations which dictate such. We can look at this through the representation of the Vietnam war by the government versus the people.
The Vietnam War happened during the time of the Cold War and thus America’s aim was to prevent communism from spreading and so the government promoted the support and participation of its citizens in the war for the patriotism of its country and defending its beliefs via propaganda.
|WHO||The American Government|
|MESSAGE||Communist are terrorizing and violent individuals which seek to dominate and take over our country|
However when citizens started seeing the inhuman tactics in which the American troops were using against the Vietnamese and the death toll of their men, public opinion began to change and people started calling for the war to end. The media played a role in exposing the horrors in Vietnam via its journalist and helped gain support for the movement through greater exposure of it.
|MESSAGE||Communist are young children being terrorized by our people.|
In this way we see the different perspectives of the same situation and the media’s ability to aid both for different purposes via its representation of it.
The media acts as a middleman between the world’s reality and its audiences. However this is not a mono directional flow. There is a constant exchange between the media and us and the world and the media and it is in this way it is constantly reinventing its representation. With this we conclude that there are no passive audiences as we actively participate by reading the messages that are being sent and respond to it in different ways.
Reality <- -> Media <- -> Audiences
The main arguments to substantiate media studies evaluation of a constructed reality are:
We do not see a three-dimensional reality in the media.
Just like the shadows in the cave that appear real, the media’s reality is unobtainable to our grasp. We can hold a magazine, we can scroll through a feed, but we cannot reach out and touch its contents.It is in this way we argue that the media is consumed by subjective perspectives. As Brook&Hébert (2006) state how the media is built upon hierarchies of all divisions of society ranging from race to class, and it is with this it is able to express its creators beliefs.
Media gives a partial view of what it displays.
As the media cannot provide a three-dimensional view in which we can see all aspects of its information, it selects the images in which we see and it is via this omission it constructs a reality as it is only a particular view.
A prime example of this would be cinema. Editors construct the film with selected shots in order to tell a story from the directors vision, and this does not just apply to fictions.
The German Concentration Camp Factual Survey was a documentary which sole
purpose was to uncover the atrocities of the camps, Jones (2015). The shots constructed to produce the film only displays this view of the Third Reich. Although greatly needed, this documentary does not show the entire story of Hitler’s rise to power, but only the view of its consequences. In this way the filmmakers vision was to omit any means of justification for Nazi crimes and thus emphasized their inhumanities by only revealing such.However, due to its gruesome displays of the devastating situation and events in the camps, it was never aired at the time. This poses a question: When the media’s reality so closely resembles the horrors of our own, it is then we decide to cast it away?
The media hides its own processes of construction.
To create images that are believable and resemble reality, photographers, filmmakers etc., hide their means to do so by only focusing on the action to be captured in a view which hides its tools to create it.
Whether fiction or not, the media borrows from the realities in society to construct its own in a way in which we can interpret its messages as believable and in this way it is able to communicate with us by making connections between our reality and its. It is only by evaluating our social realities and stratified society do we being to understand how the media distorts reality and why.
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