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What Happened to the Beaver

In: Social Issues

Submitted By darby0306
Words 1802
Pages 8
Steven Darbyshire

Professor Gerald Spence

English 101

10 February 2013

What Happened to the Beaver? Wally and the Beaver have moved out of the neighborhood and the Kardashians have moved in. The fact that you know who the Kardashians are is a testimonial to the success of mass media marketing. What was once a platform to display the best qualities found in America has steadily become a means to display the worst. A modern day circus sideshow is just one click of your remote control away. What’s even more concerning is that our children can work the remote better than we can. Former President George Bush Jr. once said, “We cannot blame the schools alone for the dismal decline in SAT verbal scores. When our kids come home from school do they pick up a book or do they sit glued to the tube, watching music videos? Parents, don't make the mistake of thinking your kid only learns between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.”(qtd. in Alexis 247) .The connection between the desensitized youth of our nation and the American mass media is undeniable. American Children spend more than fifty-three hours a week watching TV or using video games, cellphones, and computers (Kaiser Family Foundation). That is an incredible amount of time for anyone, let alone a child. Sociologists believe that the media is used as a means to educate youth in regards to beliefs and values. Youth are shown that their lives can be better or more exciting by taking part in a certain behavior, which in-turn could lead to unrealistic expectations and problems later on down the road (Basirico 44). Television depicts violence as a means to solve problems, whether it is on a cartoon or in an action TV show. The message is in most cases the same; hurt the person making you angry. “ By the age of eighteen the average American has seen two hundred thousands acts of violence on television, forty thousand of these being murders” (Basirico 177). That means that on average kids are seeing about 2200 murders each year. Violence isn’t the only negative behavior reflected on the television. Youth are also shown and told what products to buy, how to act in relationships and what is and is not acceptable socially. The American media is truly shaping the future of our nation one impressionable mind at a time. The sociological theory of symbolic interaction comes to mind when discussing the media. Based on this theory, societies agree collectively that certain language and symbols both literally and figuratively have meaning. Problems arise when those mutually agreed upon symbols, such as marriage, sexuality, or religions take on different meanings to individuals (Basirico 44). The media tries to make individuals question their individual happiness, thus creating a “void” that needs be filled. That is where the product, service, or behavior displayed comes into play. The message conveyed is that by purchasing this product or acting in this manner your life will be better. The purpose is to make you question your beliefs and values. To persuade you to think life can be better if you only do what you see on TV. The realignment of gender roles in the media has never been more prevalent. American youth are viewing hours and hours of TV, which displays every type of family dynamic except the classic Ward and June Cleaver scenario. One popular TV show, titled “ Modern Family” has managed to cover all of the bases its seems.
Here we see a homosexual couple, on the right, who has adopted a child. The traditional gender roles have been changed dramatically in this scenario. Traditional family values and ideas about marriage are challenged daily during primetime TV programming. The wholesome “ Leave it to Beaver” world of yester-year has been replaced with a slow and steady deterioration of family values disguised as tolerance and acceptance. Many of America’s Christian youth are frowned upon for publicly stating their beliefs. The images on display in the American media portray alternate lifestyle choices as “O.K.”. Counterculture and subculture has become the norm and there is an attitude of intolerance towards the intolerant. I’ll bet you that if we told these fine people pictured below that in fifty years they would have two homosexual men living next door with an adopted child we would get a pretty doubtful and negative reaction. Show’s like “Leave it to Beaver” did a wonderful job of presenting family values, good morals and wholesome entertainment. “ It was a different time,” you say. You would be correct. In fact things were very different in the 1950s. Only nine percent of U.S. households had TV, and an average of four hours per day was spent watching those televisions. Compare that to the ninety-seven percent and eight hours each day of 2012. (TV Basics) Taking it one step further, there were forty-eight documented cases of school shootings with multiple casualties from 1980-2012 (Kirk). The correlation between the number of televisions, hours spent watching them, and the acts of school violence is hard to ignore. “The average American child sees an astonishing ten to twenty thousand commercials every year. Advertisers are no fools: They don't spend $700 million a year aiming advertising toward kids without expecting a return on their investment. Commercials create a desire in children—and in many adults—so strong that it approaches an absolute need”("How to Combat Commercials Aimed at Kids").
An article titled, “ How To Combat Commercials Aimed At Kids”(2010), discusses several interesting points. The first of which being that most advertising is for junk food and things we don’t need, just want. Secondly, the article talks about discussing commercials with your kids and timing commercials as well. The article finally recommends that you mute the commercial if possible and avoid watching the ad altogether. You have to ask yourself, “ If people are writing articles providing tips on how to avoid the advertising ploys of the media, then what am I doing letting my kid watch TV?” The youth of our nation are being bombarded on a daily basis by the American mass media. They are learning their values, beliefs and sense of morality from television programs and commercials. You can draw a direct correlation between the amount of TV our kids watch and the increase in school violence over the last sixty years. The traditional symbols of family, marriage, good and evil are under attack by the media. Gender roles are reversed and the youth of the nation are angry and confused. Advertising and the American media have desensitized the youth of our nation and degraded family values. Ironically, we could take some advice from the great actor and comedian Groucho Marx who once said, “I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book.”
( Brainyquote).

Works Cited
Basirico, Laurence A., Barbara G. Cashion, and J. Ross. Eshleman. Introduction to Sociology. Redding, CA: BVT, 2012. Print.

BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2013.

"Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds - Kaiser Family Foundation." Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds - Kaiser Family Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2013.

"How to Combat Commercials Aimed at Kids." - N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2013.

Kirk, Chris."An Interactive Chart of Every School Shooting and Its Death Toll." Slate Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2013.

"TV Basics." Http:// N.p., 2010. Web. 16 Feb. 2013.

Alexis, Jonas E. In the Name of Education: How Weird Ideologies Corrupt Our Public Schools, Politics, the Media, Higher Institutions, and History. (Longwood, Fla.)Xulon, 2007. Print.

Thesis statement:

Advertising and the American mass media have desensitized the youth of the nation resulting in an increase in school violence and confusion of gender roles.

1. Wally and Beaver have moved out of the neighborhood and it appears they have been replaced with the Kardashians. a. The fact that you know who the Kardashians are is a testimonial to the success of mass media marketing. b. American mass media killed the Cleavers. c. What was once a platform to display the best qualities found in American Families has become a means to show the worst. d. The connection between the desensitized youth of our nation and the American mass media is undeniable. e. George bush quote

2. American children spend fifty-three hours a week on average watching television, using video games, cellphones, and computers (Kaiser Family Foundation 2010). f. By the age of 18 the average American has witnessed two hundred thousand acts of violence with at least forty thousand of these being murders. g. “ The mass media also teaches values and needs.”(Basirico 2012) h. Sociologist believe that media shapes how and what we think. i. Many of life’s issues are solved by violent means in the media. j. Gender roles are being shaped and changed by the media. k. “Leave it to Beaver “vs. “Modern Family” l. Less reading and conversation results in less imagination and learning. m. Mass media plays a significant role in shaping values and beliefs of America’s youth.

3. History of television and school violence 1950-2012. n. In the 1950s 9% of US household had televisions compared to 97% in 2012. o. Additionally, the average family watched 4 hours of television per day. By 2012 the amount of time doubled to an average of 8 hours per day. p. Coincidentally, there were 48 documented cases of school shootings from 1950-1979 and an astounding 137 from 1980-2012. As the frequency increased so did the body counts. q. Television is still the primary means of marketing, 70 million per year. r. You would be hard pressed to find a video game that doesn’t display some type of violence. a. The correlation between the number of televisions, hours spent watching and acts of school violence is hard to ignore.

4. The youth of America are bombarded everyday with who to like, what to buy, how to dress, and more disturbingly, ideas of right and wrong. s. Shows like “ Leave it to Beaver” displayed a normal family. t. Problem, problem solved using values, teaching morals. u. Today’s television depicts a different set of values

5. The youth of our nation are learning their values everyday from several forms of mass media. In particular, television is the primary means of delivery. v. The amount of time spent watching is incredible. w. The connection between television and school violence is undeniable. x. The values on display and the definition of right and wrong is terrible. y. Groucho Marx

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