A essay I encoutered on the Power Prep. I would be grateful if someone can provide a critique on it, even shred it to ground
“The media (arts, television, books, music etc.) tends to create rather than just reflect the values of a society”
Does media possess the propensity to innovate and create new values? While there can be little doubt on the role modern media has come to play in accelerating change as well as in nurturing new values, it is my contention that the seeds of those values are laid elsewhere: in our minds, in our hopes, in our aspirations, and in the future we envision for ourselves. It is the society, a group of individuals, sharing common visions, traditions, and mores, which creates new values. Media serves only to reflect these in the manner it sees them in the society.
A society is a not a static entity; rather it is on an ephemeral path. Change is the name of the game. The society presses to continuously change and evolve as the individuals encompassing it undertake a change in their perspectives and thought. Old values that are no longer deemed relevant within this flux of change are modified or discarded; new values are created. Media is a looking glass through which one can view a society, much like the proverbial ‘Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?’. As such, media provides a glimpse into the changes taking place in the society at large, at times accelerating them, even molding them to its caprice. Due to this one might be tempted to jump prematurely to the conclusion that it is the media that initiates these changes, that creates these new values and not the society itself.
This leads us to a fundamental question: how indeed are values created? To answer this question, one needs to look into the nature of the species which biology calls the ‘homosapien’. Man is a gregarious animal, human history is a witness to that, and the society is an indication of that. Through our social interactions, our mores, our hopes, ambitions and dreams, the future we desire for ourselves along with our past traditions, we all strive to make a change in our surroundings. When these aspirations and dreams are shared by a significant populace, they become the catalyst to change, thus creating new values.
Media forms a part and parcel of the society. It provides a reflection into these hopes, aspirations, and dreams. Why is that? Because the very thing we call media is an agglomeration of the individuals making that society: authors, journalists, directors, actor and actresses, publishers etc. It is from among the society that these people rise to make up the media. However it needs to be kept in mind that the people in the media form a small, though influential, portion of the overall populace. While it can certainly influence the way value are popularized or besmirched, it is actually the society, the people at large, who tend to sow the seeds for new values, rather than any other entity, say, the media.
To support this, I wish to advert the reader’s attention to an example so very obvious before us. What do we today consider our most important values? Democracy, freedom of speech, and personal freedom. I refer to the passage of 'US Bill of Rights'. While the media of the time did indeed help the American society accelerate towards the achievement of this goal, it must be remembered that it was actually the people who initiated this movement, and laid the seeds for it. The media played a positive, albeit auxiliary, role in promoting this movement that led to our most treasured and cherished value: freedom.
Agreed that the media plays a role in affecting and changing our ideas by presenting different point of views and perspectives, but in a vast majority of cases it does not create any new values. It only presents a picture of the prevalent views and values in the society. An example that supports my contention is of the recent controversy behind cloning research in the United States. Did media create the moral dogmas and values which led to this controversy? I believe not. It is the people and the society who created this value that the power to alter life is a sacred thing, and shouldn't be handled in so frivolous a manner.
In summary, it is my contention that while the influence of media on our value system cannot be ignored and in some cases it has been revolutionary, it generally provides just a reflection of the values of a society rather than creating them from scratch.
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