Culture and Electronic Media Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

American pop culture has been cultivated and molded by mass media. The recent iteration of mass media, electronic media, has a profound and significant influence on the daily lives, thoughts, perceptions and desires of every single person in the United States, whether people are aware of this influence, or not. The potential for media to influence people has been the subject of much debate since the earliest forms of mass media; newspaper, radio, and television have all contributed to our individual and collective psyche in America. This paper will discuss the roles that music, radio, television, and the motion pictures have played in the development of American popular culture as well as discuss some of the trends propagated by the electronic media and will provide a personal perspective on the relationship between media representations and consumerism, the human body and justice, law, and order.

Bagdikian (2000, pg. 185) notes that "advertising is the art of arresting the human intelligence just long enough to get money from it." While the message is cynical, it seems evident given our "need" for the latest gadgets, gizmo's and widget's as advertised every day to millions of Americans. These messages permeate popular culture through music, radio, television, and cinema. We are literally surrounded with slogans, signs, hints and innuendo's, to buy more, spend more, so that we can be happier, better, and lead more enriching lives….with a simple purchase.

Advertising has created allusions by displaying suggestive, often nuanced, perhaps subliminal, messages of archetypical beauty, prestige, and wealth that is beyond ordinary. Without the ability to think critically, to discern fact from fiction, and to recognize exaggerated hyperbole in the media, people are easily swayed and persuaded to the vagaries of advertisements. The effects of repeated, unrelenting messages of idealized beauty, wealth, success and intelligence are significant. Bhattacharya (2003) notes that even incremental exposure to mass media messages can increase feelings of depression and further serve to lower self-esteem. Given the prominence of media advertising in the effort to increase consumerism, Zoubkov, et al. (2004) observe that the average American is now exposed to nearly 3,500 advertising messages/images every day. The influence of electronic media on consumerism and cultural values in America is as significant as it is effective. Children may be especially vulnerable to subjective messages to not only consume but to place value on over-consumption; as a capitalistic society, the be all, end-all is the dollar and while millions are spent advertising, billions more are generated through repeated messages concerning how we should look, how we should dress, how we should smell or not smell. Electronic media has created trends in American society such as our need to "stay connected" with the latest in cell phone technology, that requires we use our allotted minutes as often as possible; even during our daily commute to work or school. We are reminded…

Sources Used in Document:


Bagdikian, B. (2000) The Media Monopoly, Sixth Edition. Beacon Press.

Bhattacharya, P. (July, 2003) Back to the future: Urbanization, globalization and consumerism. Retrieved from

Zoubkov, P., Johnson, S., Young, N., Fletcher, H. & Thomas, B. (2004) Global Bits: Corporate influence in the media. Global Education Center, 3, 87-93 Retrieved from

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