There is no surprise that nowadays media has become a large part of everyday life for most of people. Media usage is integrated in almost all spheres of our lives, which exerts a significant influence on our personality and the way of thinking.
According to the survey conducted by Elizabeth Tisdell and Patricia Thompson (2007), people, who don’t consume entertainment media frequently, are still fully aware of modern TV shows, their characters and main story lines. This finding can serve as a proof of the entertainment media power to affect users, even without their being conscious.
Nowadays entertainment media, particularly TV and movies, refers to the most popular types of media and consequently has its peculiar features. As Giroux (2002) notes, entertainment media often represents traditional norms and general values of the prevailing culture. Therefore most movies’ or TV series characters contain a number of particular features that correspond to the cultural or social norms of society. Elizabeth Tisdell and Patricia Thompson (2007) in their article ‘ Seeing from a different angle’ depict this common character as a heterosexual married or hoping-to-get- married adult, who belongs to the middle or upper middle class and behaves according to his or her gender, race or class.
On the contrary, some entertainment media challenges usual norms and depicts characters, whose personality and way of life go against traditional norms and views. In this case, race, gender, social status, sexual orientation often become the subject of contradiction and heated disputes.
Sometimes entertainment media can be a sarcastic or even aggressive reflection of particular social issues, cultural or political events. People should be careful in consumption of the entertainment media with such an acute content. Eventhough, most of the users claim that they watch TV series or movies in order to get some entertainment, they can’t be certain that they won’t be influenced by the content of the developing plot and the ideas it contain.
Since media provides people with enormous variety of information and ideas, the importance of media literacy is growing at a rapid rate and, professionals are trying to find out more effective ways to teach this subject to youngsters. For example, professionals claim that the content of pop culture can be a good learning material for practicing critical thinking skills (Armstrong 2005; Giroux 2002; McLaren 1995).
The findings by Tisdell and Thompson (2007) indicate that most of the educators confirm that entertainment media can serve as an effective medium for developing youngsters’ media education. For this reason, in order to increase youngsters’ media literacy, more than 40% of educators have already started to include discussions of the popular culture in their class activities.
The author Daria Erofeeva is a student in an international Master’s Degree Program in Media Education.
- Armstrong , P. (2005) Satire as critical pedagogy. In J. Cardwell et al. (eds.) What a Difference a Pedagogy Makes: Researching lifelong learning and teaching. Conference Proceedings, Stirling: Centre for Research in Lifelong Learning, University of Stirling.
- Tisdell, E. & Thompson, P. (2007) ‘Seeing from a different angle’: the role of pop culture in teaching for diversity and critical media literacy in adult education, International Journal of Lifelong Education, 26:6, 651-673, DOI:10.1080/02601370701711349
- Giroux, H. (2002) Breaking into the Movies: Film and the culture of politics. New York: Blackwell.
- McLaren, P., Hammer, R., Scholle, D. and Reilly, S. (1995) Rethinking Media Literacy: a critical pedagogy of representation. New York: Peter Lang.