Television Programs: How They Affect Society Essay

This essay has a total of 1839 words and 8 pages.

Television Programs: How They Affect Society

Television Programs: How It Affects Society
"It was an accident," proclaimed Janet Jackson after her Super Bowl fiasco, "a wardrobe
malfunction." It didn't appear to be one to the millions of people who witnessed the
exposing of one of Jackson's breasts. Many were shocked and outraged, but this type of
thing isn't new for the infamous "boob tube". In 1977, the miniseries "Roots", was the
first TV show to air bare breasts (Clark 1070). Even still, television programs have come
a long way since that and the time of their creation.

Invented in 1923, television programs started off with airing sporting events, news hours,
and cookie cutter programs ("History of TV" History). These programs usually taught morals
and lessons at their closings and gave a false sense of reality. Today, you can see just
about anything on TV, from someone being gunned down to wild and risk-free sex between
couples (Gay couples too!). Studies have been done to see if these scenes seen by society
can affect us negatively, as children have been analyzed through adulthood to see if
violent and sexual behavior on TV has affected them badly. The results are children
starting to deal with adult issues at an early age due to the graphic nature of television
programs. Society now is more aggressive and losing it's values. With this said,
television programs have clearly evolved since 1923 and affected society negatively due to
it's violent and sexual content.

Since it's start television has grown in availability and reached the living rooms of
many. Television's expansion started off slow due to the Depression and World War II. By
the end of World War II, TV was certain to grow as fast as the radio had twenty years
prior (Jost 1139). Television has also developed better technology as it is now shown in
color with digital picturing. This started towards the late 1930's, when new technology
was being used to show baseball games and special events (Jost 1138).

With the rise in technology companies have come up with a new system, interactive
television. "With digital interactivity, consumers are in total control of the programming
they bring into their homes," declared Time Warner Chairman Gerald Levin on interactive
television (qtd. in Jost 1131). I have witnessed firsthand, interactive TV as my cable
company, Comcast, offers something similar called On Demand TV. With it I can choose
movies or shows I want to watch. This includes shows on the latest music and fashion news
that influence how I sometimes dress.

Television influences many people's physical appearance. An example of such is the
television network Music Television, better known as MTV. Surely, New York headquarters
didn't expect MTV to have the influence it does on 12-34 year olds, the audience it aims
for. MTV influences their dress, as you can see them wear rock band clothing and tattoos.
It also influences hair and speech. For Doug Herzog, head of MTV programming, it was
common in the 1980's to see teens with Madonna blond locks and M.C. Hammer dance moves
(qtd. in Givhan 1). Even today as hip hop is big on the scene, it is the norm to see young
adults wearing urban clothing and cornrows with colored weaves. These are just small
things that affect society, as nothing does like sex.

Early TV shows didn't touch on the matters of sex. In fact, in the first congressional
probe into TV's sexual content that occurred in 1952, showed that early television shows
were recognized for their mildness in dealing with sex (Clark 1033). It was common to see
TV show couples sleep in separate beds, as seen in "The Dick Van Dyke Show"(Clark 1033).
As time went on this all changed. Sex has become an open subject and widely seen in
television: According toRobert Lichter, the co-director for the Center for Media and
Public Affairs, monitored of more than a thousand shows from the 1950's to1990's, "Before
1970 sex on TV was left for people who were in love. After 1970, recreational sex was
okay, and by the 1990's it was happening twenty times as often, and being presented as a
positive, even among teens"(qtd. in Clark 1019). Sex has become so huge in television that
in a normal week, teen may see about 57 sexual acts on afternoon TV, during prime time,
the normal maturely rated TV movie can contain 14-21 intimate sexual acts (Clark
1024).Society's youth is bound to come into contact with these programs.

Sex also affects children. The scenes of sexuality they see on television can cause them
to emulate what they see. Young people are more sexually knowledgeable because of their
access to television. They are now open to asking more sexually explicit questions on the
details of sex (Jain 84). Society's youth is also starting to date younger:

According to Arun, a Class XI student at Frank Anthony Public School, "After class eight
everyone has girlfriends. It is a "status symbol". Boys who don't have girlfriends are
made fun of and joked about. Dating may not go beyond going around with a good friend. But
a name is given to it, and everyone is happy." Sometime's it's as early as class six (Jain
84).

In my school it started in third grade . These effects can stay with them all through
adolescence and develop into new ones.

Society is greatly influenced by the sexual content aired on TV. Programs commonly show
promiscuous sex daily with various partners. Television also gives a physical standard on
what we should look like. And how sexy we should be:

Feminists worry that overabundance of people who are perfect physical specimens in TV and
advertisements can damage the self-esteem of young girls. "All we ever see are young women
who are beautiful in every conventional, idealized way that communicates to girls the
ultimate standards of self-worth." says Jean Kilborne, a Boston media critic. "And what
the advertisements have done to our construct of what we think is sexy has more to do with
narcissism than sex" (qtd. in Clark 1024).

Young men also feel the pressure for them to look a certain way so that they may be
noticed by females. MTV's power of it's platform of influence has kept it under close
watch since it's birth. Television watchdogs turn their heads in disbelief at what they
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