I have brushed over topics similar to this one in some of my previous blog posts last semester for BCM110. I discussed topics such as Miley Cyrus and the social anxieties surrounding her sexualisation in the media, and the image this portrays to her former child fans, as well as the TV show Breaking Bad and how some argue that it normalises drug use to the public. Both of these topics have caused moral panic in society, particularly for parents who are anxious about the influences that media like this can have on their children.
The idea of moral panic surrounding the media influences on children has become quite a prevalent idea, and is even discussed quite often in the media itself, particularly by the channel 10 network on their shows such as Studio 10 and the Project. I have discovered that the way we go about these media anxieties is in a very strange and ironic way. These moral panics of how the media effects and influences society are discussed by those who are employed by the big media giants (e.g. channel 10, 9, 7, ABC etc- most of which are owned by the government or rich individuals and subject to bias), through the media. It is kind of a bit of a vicious cycle!
In terms of people perceiving technology and the media through a dystopian lens, predicting the harmful effects it has on society, it will often go a little like this:
The media → anxieties about the medias effects → perceived need to regulate media use → audience research to prove we should be anxious, to prove we need regulations.
There have been anxieties about the media and its influences on society since way, way back. There was a push for cinema reform in 1916 (movies had been produced for 20 years already). The media was perceived as a threat, and this was the beginning of audience research as we know it. The Motion Picture Research Council began in the late 1920’s, seeking to lobby for social control over the movie industry. Since then there have keen countless audience studies, trying to measure the effects the media and technology has on individuals and society at large, concerning various different topics and target audiences.
Relating all of this back to my personal experiences, I have been thinking a bit lately about violent video games and the effect it has on our emotions and reactions to real life violence. My housemate has recently started playing COD (Call of Duty) again, and the violence in this game has come to my attention. However, I am absolutely torn about how I feel about it. Should violent games be regulated in how violent they can make them? Should there be more than an age limit restricting the purchase of these sorts of games? Games like these certainly do desensitise us to violence seen on screens, however, what about in real life? Does seeing this type of violence encourage people to be violent themselves? Does it make us react any differently to how we should to violence in real life? To answer this, I will leave you with a link to an article on phys.org, as well as an article by Time magazine, addressing these very questions. Comment your thoughts if you have anything to contribute to this tricky topic!
Bowles, K & Turnbull, S 2014, BCM240 Media Audience Place, 2014 lecture notes 15 September, University of Wollongong, Spring semester, 2014.