[Originally posted on the A4KeyConcepts group blog; reposting it here for reference]
The media objects we analysed in our individual tasks included:
The first comments in our group were that it was quite difficult to focus on negative effects of things we put in our cabinets, because these were primarily things we loved. Still, it turned out there are quite a few aspects of the media that could have a negative effect on ‘vulnerable’ audiences; and that, a big number of people in the audience are actually in this ‘vulnerable’ group.
- all media items we pulled together are aimed at the age group 15-24, which we are in;
- we found that each object could have a negative effect on exactly this age group, because young people are vulnerable – they are inexperienced and can be easily influenced.
- we found that this age group is easily influenced and impressed, partially because they are still inexperienced in ‘real life’, so if you can teach them to think in a certain way in this age, they will grow up with this view of life.
- we found that people in the 15-24 age group can be vulnerable, regardless of their social grade.
- although each media item is aimed at those in different social grades, they are still highly influenced by the media they love and enjoy. Eg., an artistic film about Andy Warhol promotes drugs as something ‘cool’ and stylish; therefore to not be involved would make you a trivial and boring person.
- some of the films we researched had drug and alcohol abuse, portrayed in a positive way – it’s used to make people feel better, more confident, cool, and rarely anyone mentions the negative effects of drugs. People might get the impression that, even though illegal, drugs are a normal thing to use – and if you are not using drugs (or at least alcohol), you would not fit in this group
- most media items we analysed give a single and biased view on what they are selling, promoting, and talking about. It makes the audience confine without questioning – it’s a statement they should simply take for granted.
- for example, if people read and see media without questioning, it’s easy to grow up with the stereotypes of what a woman should be (good-looking, slim, a good wife and cook, good professional etc., balancing all these things in her life), what a man should be (agressive and confident, etc.); actually, we can even look at people as products – because we’re trying so hard to fit in these categories and ‘market’ ourselves, to make ourselves attractive and acceptable in society
- the notion that we need to fit into a certain image of a ‘woman’ or ‘man’ puts people under pressure because it’s not easy to balance all. As a result, people start feeling inconfident and insecure.
- Often the way we think we can beat this insecurity is buy a specific product or act in a specific way which might make us more acceptable, and we end up being heavy consumers of these products and ideas
- brands and media target us with their messages or products when we’re young and easily influenced so we grow up with this belief more easily
- interestingly, we believe the 15-24 is a vulnerable age group and in the same time we’re in it ourselves; what is more: the media objects we chose are aimed at this age group and are all things we like (so we put them in our Cabinets) => that makes us vulnerable as well, and we can be influenced like everyone else.
- since most people are constantly exposed to media (usually selling the same ideas), it’s the only thing we see; it then creates interest only in these themes, because it’s the only point of view we know of – a ‘ripple effect’
In conclusion, the overall effect of influencial media on vulnerable audiences is that it suggests a certain way of thinking and acting, people tend to mimic what they see, and if not introduced to an alternative point of view, they don’t have a choice but to go with the flow.