Mass Media In America





The media is inescapable. At every checkout counter, there are ten different magazines showing us what the perfect girl looks like, who the sexiest men alive are, and Elvis is really an alien. Most people don’t think they are effected by this explosion of control the media has over us. That is because most people don’t realize that the media is actually controlling us. This is not a new idea, that people are ignorant to the fact they may not be as free as they think they are. The early Greek philosopher, Plato, wrote an allegory explaining how people are chained together and forced to only watch a blank wall with passing shadows. Although people in this day in age think that human kind is extremely civilized with it’s satellite tv and dvd players, media has us chained and controls what we see. The media finds us by radio, newspaper, and television. As Plato’s Allegory of the Cave depicts people as being deep in a cave, staring at illusions on the wall, people today are not so different as they stare at the illusions on the television screen.
Radio. It keeps us company as we sit in rush hour traffic and as we jog around the world on our treadmill. It gives a friendly wake up call in the morning. It is our friend. Or at least, that is what we, the consumer, are supposed to believe. Yet, little do we know, there are subliminal messages being transferred from the speakers to our heads every time we listen to the radio. Imagine you are listening to your favorite radio station and a song you have never heard comes on. You like that song so you wait anxiously at the end f the song for the DJ to announce who just sang that song. After hearing who sang it, we are encouraged to go to the Wherehouse and locate that CD so we can listen to that song whenever we want. After that idea is clicked in our brain, the radio station goes into a commercial break where we are exposed to more “must-have” items. Television is not different in that the programs that we watch so religiously are only there so that we watch the commercials in-between. Even news programs don’t deliver us the “real” news. They go for what we want to see; blood, violence, social disorder. News is also brought to us by way of newspaper. Newspapers are filled to the brim with stories, opinions, advice, comics, movie times, yet most importantly, advertisements. Ads are what keeps the newspaper in business as they keep radio and television shows in business. Companies spend thousands of dollars to make the consumer aware that life would be oh so much better if she wore their brand of lingerie. They control what we believe our needs to be. We need food, water and shelter. Yet, marketers would argue we need a swimming pool because a Santa Ana is coming; we need to buy their brand of cosmetics or else our skin with break out terribly. Advertisers propose problems to us we may never have known before, like how many pores our face has, and show us a solution. We, as consumers, believe because we see it.
In Plato’s allegory of the cave, the people sat in the depths of a dark cave, watching shadows pass by their eyes. One might ask why didn’t these people try to break free and get out of the darkness? They didn’t know they were being held captive. The images that danced before them were wonderful. They believed everything they saw to be correct. Because these people were so used to being chained, if someone came in proclaiming that there is so much more to life, they would have laughed that person away. This cave is where they are comfortable. It’s what they know and all they think they need to know. They may even feel they see more then they want to at times. These people Plato describes are not mythical beings. Instead, these people are ourselves. We completely trust that the news being brought to us every night and on every page of the newspaper is 100% factual and has no holes. We watch