February 11, 2014 by Welcome to the Jungle
February 10, 2014
The Influence and Outcome of Media in My Life
by Anna G.
I am a 17 year old girl from Fredericton who consumes lots of media, just everyone else of the general public. Being a teenager, I think that I might take in slightly more media than some other age groups. Being so involved with the technological world makes me more connected with what’s going on globally, but also more open to seeing advertisements and brands often and through different types of mediums.
For the most part, I am affected by advertisements when I’m already researching or looking at things that interest me already. When I see an ad before a YouTube video or on the sidebar while I’m reading an article or review, I’m much more likely to be interested and click on it, or even just keep it in mind. I don’t watch very much television, and I’m affected by the media primarily through the Internet. I like watching documentaries and when I’m in front of a television, I usually watch something like the National Geographic or Smithsonian channel.
When it comes to television in my childhood, the Disney channel immediately surfaces in my mind. My sister and I loved a lot of the shows on that channel, as I’m sure most kids our age did. Something that still sticks out to me about the shows we liked were that they appealed to a large audience. I remember my step-dad loving The Proud Family almost as much as my sister and I did. Nowadays when I catch a show on that channel, the humor is so watered-down and geared specifically towards kids. I think this might make the shows a little too simple for kids, and I really can’t stand the stupid kind of humor they include. The TV programs my sister and I watched dealt with a lot of relatable things and problems we would face in our lives. Not to mention, it is a huge bonus when parents can enjoy a show along with their child, and creates a sort of bonding experience.
Addressing the issue of ads for kids, I remember being completely mesmerized by toys for stupid pieces of plastic. On a few occasions when I had hassled my parents enough, I might get one of these novelty toys and realize their redundancy within a couple of days. Children are often very naïve and can’t yet tell if something would be useful, even through the sugarcoating ads do to their products.
I can’t remember many specific toys from my childhood, but a few favorites do stick out in my memory. One of the novelty-type toys that I mentioned previously was called a Pixel Chix. I must have seen some kind of advertisement, because I thought that they were positively the coolest. After begging my parents for one, I was ecstatic when I found one under the tree Christmas morning. This toy was a plastic house that had a screen in the middle. A 2D girl would walk out on the screen, and would interact with the things in her house. There were a couple things she could do, and a few simple games she’d play, but after a few hours I grew bored with it. Most of my other toys were simple toys like Polly Pockets or Groovy Girls. Polly Pockets were these small hard plastic dolls with rubber clothes that you could change. There were an endless amount of accessories and Polly Pocket-sized things to buy them. Groovy Girls were very simple plush dolls whose only real appeal were the unique clothes and characters they had. Each “girl” had a different name, hairstyle, skin tone, and facial features.
Looking back on my toys, none of them were even unisex, let alone toys made for young boys. This was a problem in my childhood, and has only been growing throughout the past few years. I think that is this issue is very concerning for our youth. It’s creating a clear divide between boys and girls at such a young and impressionable age. Girls are restricted to girl toys and boys are restricted to boy toys. It shapes what a girl and boy are “supposed” to be, and also creates a fear of crossing over and doing something out of your gender’s expectations or restrictions.
Music is major source of media for me. Compared to my music tastes a couple of years ago, I think I’ve really narrowed down my interests. I used to be very concerned with keeping up on current albums, particularly of the independent persuasion. Now I’ve taken the albums and artists who really impact and inspire me and listen to them the most.
One of my favorite artists is a current harpist named Joanna Newsom. Playing the harp myself over the years has led me to her beautiful music. I enjoy lots of harp music like West African, Venezuelan and traditional Scottish and Irish harp music. Joanna is by far my favorite, as she takes the instrument away from its typical genres, but still keeps its roots.
Aside from the harp, I love hip-hop too. From older rappers like Biggie Smalls and those from Wu Tang Clan, to new revolutionaries like Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. I love folk music, and old country like Hank Williams. A lot of rock groups put out really fun records like Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem or Silver Apples. I have a long-standing love for the Icelandic artist Bjork, as well as other remarkable characters like Lou Reed, PJ Harvey, and Fiona Apple. Currently I have been listening to and loving Beyonce’s new visual album. It’s been in my car’s CD player for nearly 2 months.
Right now, I don’t keep up with much TV. I watch Netflix with friends when we’re bored, and I recently watched the first season of American Horror Story, but other than that I am usually quite far from the television. In the past though, I have had my share of TV binging. I remember loving Gilmore Girls and the insane mother-daughter relationship as well as the lightning-fast dialogue. That show dropped so many pop culture references, they released a little glossary of the allusions they made. I also loved Dexter and the uniqueness of the main character and his plot. It was unusual because even though he was really a villain, Dexter was the only character I continuously loved throughout the series.
Because most of my TV watching happens in binges on Netflix and online, I miss almost all of the advertisements, and nearly none of them have made a lasting impression on me. Over the years I think I’ve liked certain cereal commercials like Cheerios or Rice Krispies. Sometimes those ads took a heartfelt angle and featured kids and their moms or dads, they’re always really sweet to watch and a nice break from whatever you were watching.
Most of the media that I concentrate on throughout a daily basis happens on the Internet. I love the Internet for social interaction, movies and television shows, research and adding to my own knowledge of the world and the things in it. It’s an excellent tool to use for what seems like practically everything. I use the Internet to access Netflix, so just within that website I have endless possibilities for shows, movies and documentaries. The Internet is main source for my expanding and learning about what I’m interested. I’m always reading reviews of albums or interviews with artists I’m interesting. My love for music relates nearly directly back to the Internet. I wouldn’t know nearly any of the bands and artists that I love now if I weren’t on the Internet. Websites like Pitchfork and other smaller music reviewers were a major part of my life for a while. I was obsessed with expanding my music tastes and absorbing as much information as possible. I love knowing that I can do that with nearly anything. From hobbies to schoolwork, I can access as much information as I want, and I often take advantage of that.
Never on TV
I don’t have distinct regulations on what is “too far” for me. If something is telling an important story that people should hear or see, I don’t think there is any line to draw. It doesn’t mean everybody has to watch everything, especially if it makes him or her uncomfortable. A great example of this is the movie Mysterious Skin, following two boys and the effect pedophilia took on their young lives. It is a highly distressing film, but deals with important and very real topics that effect actual people. Subjects like these shouldn’t be avoided— they should be addressed.
For some reason, television has become a better version of real life. By leaving out all of the really uncomfortable, bad, or inappropriate things, it’s now a pseudo-reality that tries to take on a one-size fits all kind of quality.
What I Will Learn
I’m hoping to learn more tactics of being critical towards the media I consume. I think it’s vital that people consciously criticize what they’re being surrounded with on a daily basis. No person should let things affect them while they idly stand by, without forming a real opinion on their world and culture. The media is now such a huge part of everyone’s lives they should be taught to observe it and form their own opinions. People should be encouraged to think critically of everything around them, the media included.