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I saw it in a movie so it must be true.

Popularity 15Viewed 5903 times 2015-6-15 11:15 |Personal category:Media|System category:Life| Influence, film, media

The powerful influence and effects of the media on social behaviour are well known but discredited by the tv and film industries who wish to sell their products to people who naturally crave for the excitement of "bad" things. It is rather like newspapers only wanting to report bad news in order to sell their product.

 In most countries there are regulations and standards about what can be shown on television or in film. Unfortunately America seems able to breach all standards and produces programmes and movies filled with filthy language, sex and violence. This has migrated into computer games. The effect on children and adolescents is very clear, though once again denied by these companies.

Young people learn by copying what they think is acceptable, normal or interesting. They will copy what they see as "normal" behaviour on the media. When they see ordinary people and their heroes on the screen, they will copy their behaviour. The more that the behaviours are repeated, the more likely it is that such behaviour will be accepted as normal. Unfortunately film and tv does not show what is normal. Normal is boring! To sell their product, companies must resort to sensationalism and exaggeration. Their portrait of the world is distorted and unreal. Look at American programmes and films. They are full of violence, car chases, guns and “loose” women and are a profitable product.

If you have been to America you will know that this vision is entirely false. It does not reflect real life. However, it does influence real life! Young children copy super-heroes. A few think they can fly like superman and fall before they understand that it is not real. A very few are killed by copying something they have seen on the media. Teenagers smoke, swear and copy the behaviour of gangs that they see at the movies. Particularly vulnerable are those young people in developing countries like China, who worship American “heroes” and believe what they see on the screen as normal. They copy the ridiculous fashion of film and pop stars who really only dress like that for media attention.Their education system does not address issues of what is real life and what is pretend. Many Chinese youngsters believe that Zombies and Vampires really exist! If they are on TV or in a film, they must be real!

If violence or sex is seen often enough a person becomes numb to its significance. Knifing someone is ok because it is unreal. There is less feeling of compassion, pity or remorse. Consider those men who slowly become sexual perverts as the excitement of  witnessing “normal” sex becomes ordinary. They crave for increasingly sensational and explicit scenes and behaviour.

I am horrified at the language used by some boys in China who openly and loudly copy the language they have heard repeatedly on films; f..k  mother f..ker  etc.  I ask where they learned such words and their answer is predictable. Even adult teachers unwittingly copy what they see as normal language with phrases like “Oh my god”…. I know this is pretty mild, but students copy it as part of learning English. There are western families who would be offended by this phrase.

When my son was a teenager he loved to play computer games and of course liked to watch action movies. This became a problem when their influence began to change his personality! From a kind, gentle and polite boy, he slowly began to lose his temper, swear and disrespect himself and everyone around him. This was not normal teenage rebellion. With strict control of the time he could spend on the computer and with supervision of what movies he accessed, his behaviour returned to normal.

 In ancient Greece, the foundations of theatre, drama, oratory and poetry were laid. They recognised the dangers that these posed to an audience. Their strict standards demanded that violence was only reported to an audience. The act supposedly took place away from sight off stage. They recognised that what people see and hear influences their behaviour and attitudes. When I was a teenager I went to see “The Italian job” at the cinema. How exciting, with car chases in Minis all over Turin. When I returned to my little Mini I felt that I was such a driver. I sped through the city like a maniac. I only came to my senses when I nearly crashed into a lamp-post.

They also believed that drama had a cathartic effect on an audience; a purgation of emotion, usually of fear or anger. To witness and feel the effects of anger or fear in the safety of watching a performance promotes safe learning of otherwise dangerous situations. It is a method used to help psychologically disturbed individuals.

 I therefore agree that smoking should not be, and need not be a part of a performance, just as explicit sex and violence is unnecessary. Media companies will say that they only reflect life by showing these, but this lie is blatant. The most important part of a film is its plot, well acted out. It is not to do with explosions and lurid bedroom scenes, swearing, smoking, drinking and reckless car chases. These only add to the attraction of the film to an audience. They should be used only when they are necessary in the development of the plot. Consider that some of the best films develop a plot without the unnecessary use of these.

So, which movies are the best examples of media at its best; movies that not only entertain, but raise standards of behaviour and emotion without sensationalism, ones that may suspend disbelief, yet maintain reality, ones that do not rely on violence, and swearing to increase their sales?

I am looking forward to watching “Chainsaw massacre” on my computer later. I have my cigarettes and drugs to hand, and my gun is loaded and ready to kill any zombies. I will wait for all those women knocking on my door offering certain services. Of course I will swear and use f..k in every sentence I utter. This is the life I know is real because I have seen it on American movies.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Reply Report seanboyce88 2015-9-26 14:02
Wow...looking for your selfie blog and stumbled upon this. The title stunned me as I literally said this in reply to someone who said I should wear a hat because I am british. They seen it in a movie...
Reply Report samlam 2016-1-4 10:18
Have the same feeling.

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