Friday, November 13, 2009

Media Influence

There are many outdated theories and communication models that label media as a negative force in society. One in particular is the Hypodermic model, also known as the silver bullet model. The flow of communication moves in one direction, from media to audience and implies that media directly injects its beliefs into the blood stream of audience members.

I found a video on YouTube, Kittens inspired by Kittens, that demonstrates an updated communication model in which communication is multi-directional. In the video, a young girl reads a book about kittens. She can’t actually read the words, but she draws her own meaning from the pictures or images on the page.

What I find most interesting is that the young girl identifies the kittens but creates imaginary scenarios.

For example, one kitten in the book is standing alone outside. The girl says the cat is a “secret agent.” There is another picture of two cats sitting inside of a basket. The girl says the kittens are in Hawaii.

When I look at the images I see something completely different. The first example does not look like an undercover cat. To me, it looks like a cat who just heard a noise and wants to know what or who is behind him. The second example simply looks like two cats in a basket. The background looks nothing like a tropical place or Hawaii.

The point is that each audience member has the ability to interpret images in their own way based on personal experience. Media definitely has the ability to influence social norms, but there are other factors involved in the process.

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