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Effects of Mass Media and Entertainment on Culture

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Introduction

Culture is the knowledge and characteristics of a group of people defined by their religion, language, cuisine, music, art, and social habits (Lull, 2000). Culture also refers to the shared patterns of interactions and behavior, understanding and cognitive behavior that are acquired through socialization (Wilson, 1993). It is the development of a peoples’ identity enhanced by social patterns unique to the particular group. Culture is affected or influenced by many factors within the society among them mass media and entertainment. In America, today, parents and indeed the community complain that the mass media has taken over the minds of the young people and consequently affected culture. Entertainment too, adversely affects people’s values and customs. In this paper, I seek to highlight various ways, positive or otherwise, through which the two factors have affected how people think and behave in the society.

Literature Review

Mass media are various media technologies that strive to reach large audiences through mass communication. Main types of mass media are print and electronic. Scholars have identified different theories and models to explain how media affects people’s lives. The Direct Effect model asserts that media messages often tend to outweigh existing cultural influences like community and family. The proponents of this model, which was formulated in early 20th century contends that people tend to accept messages from the media and would produce predictable response to the messages (Huesmann, 2007). The other theory formulated is the Agenda –Setting theory which states that mass media determines the issues that affect the people than the people’s views. According to this theory, the issue that gets media’s attention is those that people debates, discusses and demands action. From this theory, we get the impression that the media dictates what stories and issues the public thinks. It is this theory that vividly explains why the media has such a great impact and influence on people’s lives (Huesmann, 2007). Mass media is by no means a bad thing. As a matter of fact, it has improved and revolutionized the way we live (Slater et al., 2003). We send and receive messages to our loved ones.

We use magazines and newspapers to read about news around the world. Radio and television ensure that we keep updated on what is going on around us and the world over. One of the positive effects of the media is that it has helped in the diffusion of cultural traits from the area of origin of neighboring regions and societies. The dissemination of habits such as the use of toilet soaps, hair oil, shampoo, toothpaste, detergents is as a result of television and other forms of media (Ostroy, Gentile and Crick, 2006). The cinema in the last century played a vital role in carrying and spreading cultural values around the world. Popular screenplays like Mahabharata and Ramayana helped in the introduction of Indian culture in America among the young people. The spread of other languages like Hindi language in America is due to Hindi cinema, specifically the songs which regularly play and broadcast in both radio and television programs. Most children in America, today behave, and probably think, like children in programs. This cultural diffusion is enormously influenced and impacted by mass media (Anderson et al., 2003).

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