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The Role of Media

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When most people hear the word Media, they assume News Media.

But, it consists of all mediums through which data is sent from source to one or many destinations.

And the truth is, News Media as we know it now forms a slow, but, definitely diminishing fraction of that. I won’t be getting into the why, which is a different and more polarizing topic.

The mediums I have chosen to write about in this post are Television Shows and Movies.

Television Shows and Movies fall under the category of Entertainment. In India, they usually fall under the category of Mindless Entertainment.

But, the thing is it is probable these two forms of medium reach a larger no of people than news media does. I cannot provide any citation for this claim.

Regardless, Movies in particular can influence public behaviour because of the actors in them. Over the years, some people have raised concerns about the behaviour of these movie characters.

I would like to do the opposite. I decided to showcase one initiative to show how these mediums can be used for positive social change.

The initiative in Question is The Harvard Alcohol Project .

Mentioned in the Designated Driver page along with a few TV shows which worked with the initiative.

The Harvard Alcohol Project was done by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Center for Health Communication. It aimed to, from the linked page,

demonstrate how a new social concept, the “designated driver,” could be rapidly diffused through American society via mass communication, catalyzing a fundamental shift in social norms relating to driving-after-drinkingThe project joined forces with television networks and started out with Public Service Announcements.

But, as the project page acknowledges,

The Project broke important new ground when TV writers agreed to insert drunk driving prevention messages, including references to designated drivers, into scripts of top-rated television programs, such as “Cheers,” “L.A. Law,” and “The Cosby Show.” Entertainment not only mirrors social reality, but also helps shape it by depicting what constitutes popular opinion, by influencing people’s perceptions of the roles and behaviors that are appropriate to members of a culture, and by modeling specific behaviors.This Huffington Post Article about the project states that,

Over a four-year period, more than 160 prime-time programs incorporated sub-plots, scenes, and dialogue on the subject, including frequent references to the use of designated drivers.It is not hard to imagine the types of behaviour that can changed in the Indian context.

The simplest examples that come to mind are those of spitting and littering. There are more examples of behaviour like this that these forms of media can influence. If you do come up with such examples, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

What worries me is that the role of person with a disregard for society is the one that the hero takes on. There are many examples of movies where a characters questionable behaviour goes unnoticed, uncommented.

The end result is that these behaviours are often emulated in real life.

I am not trying to impress upon the reader that these are bad movies. I’m trying to say that since these are enjoyable examples in these mediums, they could be put to good use.

This has been a subject that I’ve been thinking about for quite a while now. I’m certain this has either been in the back or the forefront of several other peoples minds too. I do not claim ownership of this topic, I’m just putting my thoughts on this out there.

Feel free to leave your comments below. Thank you for reading.