The Influence of Mass Media on the Social Life
Nowadays it is very difficult to overestimate the influence of mass media on the social life. It provides us with a quantity of information though movies, news, informative and educational TV-programs, and there is certainly a lot of commercial information such as advertising. In order to gain necessary material from the flow of differently oriented information, it is necessary to outline the general principles of its ‘consumption’ and to understand the principles of its work.
According to Hall (1973), it is possible to say that all people need information, especially commercial, at the subliminal level. In other words, advertising and propagandist films influence human mind indirectly with the help of specially developed psychological methods. Hall (1973) outlines four stages of communication theory which include the following steps: production, circulation, use and reproduction (Hall, 1973).
It is possible to outline three following hypothetical reader/viewer positions: first, the sender never determines the meaning of the message; second, it is very difficult to understand the essence of the message for the audience, since the message is not transparent; third, the audience is not a passive recipient of the meaning (Procter, 2004).
According to this concept, it is possible to say that the sender never makes a strict determination of the message, since each viewer will make the conclusions which are supported by his own moral standards and attitude towards some subject matters.
According to Ang (1993), the following interpretation of mass culture is specified: it makes a profound impact on the social life, while the popular serials, such as “Dallas”, are widely watched and discussed by the audience. Some people like this serial, others do not watch it, but they continue to discuss it, and it does not lose its popularity, since it has become a part of the social life. People empathize with the main characters, waiting for the new episode of the film in order to get the information concerning the plot development.
There exists the following attitude towards popular serials: some people feel comfortable and do not consider their life problems while watching serials. They empathize with their heroes and do not care about their own and global problems. Mass culture concerning serials development allows the directors (or filmmakers) to outline new ideas in the current culture and to create new mass culture. They include into the plot of the serial the issues and aspects which will make a significant influence on the social life, such as fashionable body parameters and behavior ideas. People will follow their beloved characters of the serials, and, therefore, they will try to resemble the main heroes of the serials (Ang, 1993).
According to Morley (1980), it is possible to make conclusions about the influence of the mass culture on different aspects of the human lives. Therefore, it is possible to create public opinion through involving public polls in order to outline the general attitude towards some event (and obesity in particular). As a result, the people who are not involved directly into the problem will be influenced by such ‘mass’ opinion. It helps to prevent panic, and, at the same time, such mass media tools mislead people concerning current situation in their lives (Morley, 1980).
Finally, according to Bobo (1988), it is possible to use mass media tools in order to focus additionally on the situation. In conclusion, it is important to emphasise that getting message from the author means understanding all ideas which lay the foundation of the movie, serial or online advertising. The quality of such message could be measured by the number of people who have made conclusions, corresponding to the authors’ ones (Bobo, 1988).
The issue of obesity is widely discussed in mass media. People who have such problem are the target audience of these messages. Moreover, this problem is commercialised, since there are different TV shows, movies where the people with overweight are involved. In addition, there are different remedies which are popularised and advertised, and people participate in various TV shows, such as “The Biggest Loser”, where this problem is solved in public manner. Such shows are popularised in US and in other Western countries where the problem of overweight is serious.
Therefore, it is possible to say that mass media provides people who have overweight with an option of social adaptation, problem solving and gives them opportunity to find the other individuals with the same problem and to manage it together.
To conclude, it is necessary to note that mass media create the attitude of the population towards some social events and persons. It is very important to support such movements and to direct their activities into the positive course. Only due to such methods it is possible to achieve the highest results and to reach the creation, support and development of mass culture.