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Topic Summary

Posted by: Giuliano Taverna
« on: May 17, 2009, 06:22:10 pm »

Television is an integral part of modern culture. There are currently hundreds of channels and thousands of shows. With all this variety one might ask why are many of these shows similar? The answer is that TV is what you want it to be.

Most Television is governed by advertising. Most of the television shows are actually there to get you to watch the commercials. The commercials are the main source of income of all television and media companies. This is why antenna TV is free; cable and why satellite TV aren’t free, due to the cost of maintenance.

Commercials are governed by the key demographics of the products being advertised in said commercials. Toy commercials are played during cartoons, feminine products are advertised during soap operas and day time television, car, boat, “enhancement”, and balding remedies are played during history, action, and sports shows. While seemingly bias this is simply done for the sake of practicality the key is generalizing and while slightly offensive is wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t effective.
Demographics are generalizations of social trends. It’s popular for kids to show off their toys and watch cartoons so, quite logically toy companies advertise their products during the cartoons and while not every child does this; most of them do. Now generalizations like this affect what is played too, take “Good Morning America” for example. Its parent companies is Waltz Disney so as a result it generally features new Disney movies. Also consider the infamous super bowl indecent many of the companies that back the super bowl left due to fear of a repeat, so that considerably affected the scope of the super bowl the following year as well as the number of the famous commercials that are played during it. This is also an example of a social trend, explicit sexuality and the trend of skimpy outfits verses the trend of morally censorship. In this case it was seen as too much and the outrageous behavior of the first trend was countered with an extreme backlash of the second.

It’s fitting that the issue will come full circle do to the simple fact that social trends are perpetuated by the same TV that they created. To put it another way the famous saying “art imitates life imitates art” is quite appropriate. Television shows are based on stereotypes and people who watch them often as a result become the stereotypes that the program was made for. Consider the late 90's trend of metro-sexuality or the emulation of gay culture, (which must be recognized as a stereotype and not necessarily representative of homosexual men in general) by non gay people. This was likely a result of shows that are based on that in much the same way as shows in the early to mid 90’s advertised black culture. Now it is possible that this trend of imitation is a symptom of a primitive herd instinct or maybe a lack of identity and self esteem but whatever the cause, it is a hard to ignore, if controversial fact.

In summation the circle of society influencing television and visa versa is a fascinating phenomenon. TV being controlled by advertising, being governed by the key demographics of society, which is then affected by the shows themselves, leads to an inevitable conclusion. Since there are many social groups and trends associated with them, TV is most likely what you want it to be.