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Mona Bethke

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Satisfied with my quest

I have decided to share one of the final exam responses for my Mass Media and Society class.

It is my intent to affect and open minds to the reality of how influential the media is in society and how having the knowledge of the power it actually holds can foster understanding and change. This particular student put it in words I am excited to hear. My goal is to educate my students in a way that makes learning fun and exciting. I’m guessing I have accomplished that. This young man gave me permission to share his paper.

The topic is how Mass Media affects society. Enjoy.

(© May not be reproduced) “When I first entered this class I knew I was going to learn something. The curriculum wasn’t set up for a professor to just talk at you. When the professor teaches you through active discussions and using material a student directly relates to, it causes the student to actually learn. Coming into this class I had no idea what Mass Media really was. I thought it would be a bullshit class that I could get an A in. What I failed to realize off the bat was how much this class would have an impact on every class that I was taking this semester and how I perceive the outside world.

Mass Media affects every single aspect of our lives. It ranges from what we listen to on the radio or what we see on TV to what our best friend says in passing during a conversation. The average person doesn’t realize they are influenced by what they see and hear on a daily basis, but subconsciously we are all brainwashed to think a certain way and to buy into the concepts of stereotyping. Commercials are sexist, music is racist, TV is all of the above with a little religion slapped on. But we don’t see it this way. The average person sees it as comedy, or a rapper singing about the hardships of life. We ignore the negative effects these messages have on society because that is what we are programmed to do. Studying Mass Media helps us dissect what we are open to every day in a way that we normally wouldn’t do. There are so many videos and shows that I have seen during the duration of this semester that I didn’t necessarily either know about, or didn’t realize how offensive it truly was. We walk around with blinders on. We don’t see the big picture ever. We see what the media wants us to see and that is it. We don’t see that this song is racist or misogynistic or that this TV show is sexist and actually is pro white supremacy. It isn’t until you have someone sit you down and introduce these ideas to you that you start to think with an open mind and realize how fucked up the media we are fed really is.

Once you have someone open your mind up and show you the dark side of media and society as a whole, you can begin to think of ways to stop it. You can begin the revolution of equality. Right now things are not equal. Society is not being shown what they need to see, and the stuff we are shown helps solidify our preconceived notions of each other. We think every black person is going to rape, mug, rob, or kill us. We think that Germans are evil. We think that the South is full of KKK members and slaves. We think celebrities are flawless and that there is no war going on. But go take a Mass media class and you will see that what we are being show is nothing to what the real world should be like. It’s as if we are looking at the world with beer goggles on. Everything is unbalanced and swirly. You can start ignoring that racist thought in your head that “this black guy is going to murder me because I am walking past him at night time.” Just because he is black and it is nighttime doesn’t mean he will hurt you. All women aren’t whores. And celebrities are just like the average person….well maybe prettier but still. Mass Media helps us open our eyes and accept people on a different level than we would have before. It helps us cast aside our ideas of stereotypes and the Media. It helps us to delve deeper into what we read, or just delve deeper into the internet and search for things that we wouldn’t normally have read a few months back.
Once we are open to this change, we can go out into the world and try and be different. We can try and change the world by changing ourselves. We can take off those goggles and see the world for what it is and try and change it one person at a time. We go out, we change our perspective; we tell someone else about it and maybe change their perspective. We raise our children in a better way than we see on YouTube videos.

While I am not at the point of raising children yet, I am still growing and learning about media and what it puts out there. I don’t know everything I can about the world and I have not cast aside every prejudice I have and racist/sexist/misogynistic thoughts I have. But I am on my way to doing that and ultimately becoming a more well-rounded being because of it. Studying Mass Media in this class has helped to change 30 students in the course of one semester. And that is how I was wrong about this class. It was not a bullshit class to get an A in. It was a class that actually changed my way of thinking. That is how it is important, not just to society as a whole to study, but for me to study.” (© May not be reproduced)

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