Do the media shape identity? Discuss The media has a very influential power over people within society. As a collective we are constantly internalizing a large influx of media all around as. This sort of media includes television, magazines, the internet, television and social media. Particularly in this postmodern era we are more than ever internalizing media and its information because of its normalization and use of it in everyday life (Gauntlet, 2008) . The media is a production of consumerism; this has been so since the industrial revolution.
Consumerism intends for us to buy products that we see in the media. So the media depicts what we think we want to see which creates our identities or a perception of what and who we want to be (Gauntlet, 2008). According to Anthony Giddiness, information and ideas in the media do not Just reflect the social world but also contribute to its shape (Gauntlet, 2008). He also states that the media mirrors social expectations creating social reproduction (Gauntlet, 2008). The following essay will discuss how the media shapes identify.
To do this, the essay will discuss gender construction in magazines and other forms of media, how sex and appearance are perceived in the media and lastly the essay will look at how children’s/teenagers identities and genders may be socialized by the influence of the media. Gender is a performance which is reinforced by repetition (Gauntlet, 2008). Gender performance is reinforced particularly by the media. We can look at the media as the key role is spreading images of a certain type of femininity (Gauntlet, 2008). An example of such media is magazines. Magazines such as cosmopolitan promote social constructions of woman hood (Gauntlet, 2008).
The content almost always includes fashion and beauty which takes up the majority of pages within the magazine (Gauntlet, 2008). The shows the emphasis of aesthetics which has traditional been the ideal of femininity. In addition to this they do not show much variation in gender representations (Gauntlet, 2008). Not only are magazines promoting a certain type of femininity they are also promoting a particular body image type. The media depicts images of ‘skinny fashion models and or celebrities (Gauntlet, 2008). This ‘skinny trend is a particular identity in which many teen age girls may pick up due to its emphasized exposure and normality.
The reading woman’s magazines and female identities look at this particularly. Several interviews with teenage girls showed that the ‘skinny trend is embedded into the social structure of this postmodern world (Gauntlet, 2008). One interview from a teenage girl said this “I’m 18 years old, 5’4″ and a size 8! Recently my friends have been nagging me about how fat I am and that is should consider losing some pounds”, this clearly identifies that the media is creating social constructions of a particular identity and expectation about what is a feminine appearance (Gauntlet, 2008).
Men’s identities in the media can be depicted by a variety of masculinity. Men’s auscultations like women are depicted in men’s lifestyle, hobbies and interest’s magazines (Gauntlet, 2008). Men’s masculinity can even extend to magazines such as men’s health and fashion (Gauntlet, 2008). However hegemonic masculinity in men’s lifestyle magazines has become globalizes (Gauntlet, 2008). A Magazine which is an example to this is FEM. The theme in this magazine promotes sport, drinking and “scantily- clad” women (Gauntlet, 2008).
The article men’s magazines and modern masculinity argue that men once didn’t need life style magazines because they knew what I man was (Gauntlet, 2008). In this postmodern society it seems that their identities are fragmented because of the large amounts of media and consumerism. Anxiety about masculinity associated with men magazines and media such as articles about beatifying, disciplining and articles of being a heterosexual in this society has entered a state of confusion (Gauntlet, 2008).
For women femininity has always been repeated with variations but however men in this postmodern society there are so many more products available which could be considered feminine and challenge which identity they are influenced by. The above two paragraphs outline the two says in which media, particularly magazines can shape identity, however the paragraphs did not mention sex in the media. Sex in the media such as movies, television shows, radio and magazines even radio objectifies the ideologies of hegemonic femininity and masculinity (Lumpy, 1997).
The statement ‘sex sells’ is used in media today as sex is no longer private but over exposed in the public and emphasis the power of appearance (Lumpy, 1997). The power of appearance is both selected upon men and women. The power of appearance and sex is emphasize in the articles men’s magazines and modern masculinity and women’s magazines and male identities (Gauntlet, 2008). The men’s magazine articles discusses women exultation’s in magazines such as FEM. while also the women’s magazine article discusses that women have also become subject to the expose of men exultation’s in magazines such as cosmopolitan (Gauntlet, 2008).
Men’s exultation’s is not only in women’s magazines but also in underwear ads such as Calvin cline, showing muscular men in Just under pants (Lumpy, 1997). This sort of advertising is in magazines, billboards and the internet. This is a form of advertisement but also the use of movies/ film clips with people such as Madonna and Arnold Schwarzenegger Lumpy, 1997). This two celebrity examples and the ideologies in which media look to for the hegemonic feminists and masculinity. The expose of sex in public life normalizes and exposes individuals to possible new identities and ideologies which can possibly be absorbed and adopted.
Femininity, masculinity, sex and appearance are aspects of the media in which are proliferation influences over our identities. However how does the media effect children and teenager identities physically and personally. A young child is very susceptible to market, advertising and consumption n society practically up to age 8 and it is believed that we watch up to and over 4 hours of television a day which equals children watching up to 40 000 advertisements each year (Calvert, 2008). These advertisements include products for sugar coated cereals, fast foods restraints, leslies and toys (Calvert, 2008).
The exposure to children and commercial message can lead to negative outcomes such as cynicism, obesity and materialistic attitudes (Calvert, 2008). Not only are advertisements affecting children but also movies and TV programs which depict genders of femininity and masculinity in a traditional manner. TV shows which show this set a message to children of gendered stereotypes of what it is to be a boy and a girl. This is starting the solicitation of social expectations and constructions in the later years of development. This can be seen in paragraph two in the women’s magazines particularly the teen years.
A study was done on a group to teenagers on a media study which asked the question, do the mass media images and messages about love, sex and relationships interact with what teens learn about sexuality at home? The study mentioned that teenagers work at defining the ‘real me’ including the ‘sexual me’ (Steele, 1999). Fifty years ago children/ teenagers would have had to access sexual information thought there family, and or friends but because of the mass media the media brings teens images of sexuality on television, movies and magazines (Steele, 1999).
The study showed that teenagers took notice of media that was of their lived experiences and what was most like them according to their class, race and gender similar to adults (Steele, 1999). The study undertaken test what teenagers internalize from media and what they do not. One of the girls related too were my so called life and 90210 (Steele, 1999). Another girl an African- American did to relate to the show 90120 because she thought it was ‘stupid’ and it had no real context to her life (Steele, 1999). This was in fact because she had not had the exposure to those lived experiences as stated in the study.
Television shows such as this as a way in which teenagers develop their identities. Their identities can only be developed by their lived experiences and this would include the media in which they participate in. The above essay attempts to discuss the few different types of influences the media has over identities. In this postmodern society influences of the media such as indemnity, masculinity, sex and appearance are becoming almost inevitable as we associate with media on a daily basis. The media depicts what it is to be feminine though beauty and body image thought consumer products such as make up, what it is to be masculine.
In a world where media is in our daily lives every day children and teenagers identities will be even more influence by the media as we become more technologically advanced. The study on the teenagers however did how that they were only influenced if it had context to their life. From this it can be identified that the media does have its limits. The media does a power to reproduce social constructions, however everyone has agency, and identities are not fixed only through systems of domination.