Skip to main content

Does television reflect society or does society reflect television?

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

That's right girls, turn it off.

What are they really learning from the images they watch?

What are they really learning from the images they watch?

Thoughts on this question, late at night

It is an ongoing debate; does television (and other media) reflect society or does society reflect the influence of television? It’s one of those circular questions, like the old chicken and egg, that seems so obvious in answer, until you stop to think about it.

Why, you wonder, am I pondering it? Why am I writing about it? (When I should be doing something else, it’s true.) I’ll be happy to share that answer. During one of my many coffee breaks today, I took the time to read pgrundy’s excellent and much anticipated article “Bimbo bashing and other inglorious sports.” It was indeed thought provoking, but no more so than some of the comments. One in particular caught my attention and sparked another inconvenient train of thought. (I am never going to get these rewrites done.)

I hope the author doesn’t mind my using it here. Well, you did post it in a public place for all to see, but I’ll take your name off.

“I'm sorry, but the media did not create this phenomenon. It can be faulted for not giving critical insight, which used to be the media's gift to us. But what it does with women is simply a reflection of a culture-wide bias which, the words of a few of you notwithstanding, is shared by women as well as men. In my household, the women are more absorbed by the Victoria Secret commercials than even the men.”

Let’s leave the reference to Victoria’s Secret for now – although it does bring up a point I’ll come to later – the enshrining of the nubile (pre-baby) female form as representative of universal sexuality, and exploited as such.

It is the first statement that deserves further examination. Is it true?

Is the media the follower, the mirror-image of the society we live in? Once upon a time, it may have been. I had to do a lot of remembering. What were television’s influences on my youth?

In my elementary school days, I passed the time watching good old Sheriff Andy in Mayberry, which could have been the town I lived in, except for the accents and lack of snow. Aunt Bea looked and acted just like my Aunt Marge. I could truly relate to that one. Then there were shows that even as a young child I knew couldn’t possibly be real: Father Knows Best and Donna Reid – too perfect, too clean, and too preachy. Who does housework in a full skirted dress, high heels and pearl earrings anyway?

A few years went by and the faces I watched changed.

I loved the Beverly Hillbillies, and never questioned why Ellie Mae was so scantily dressed and clueless. At least she wasn’t as dumb as Jethro, who to my adolescent eyes more than made up for the lack with other attributes. (She would have been a bimba and he a bimbo, to quote another very clever comment found on the same hub.)

I’ll admit to the wearing of equally short cut-offs that summer – at least when my mother wasn’t around. Would my twelve-year-old mind have conceived of the idea without Ellie Mae’s example? Probably not. Nor would I have dared.

By the age of thirteen, I was a true fan of Star Trek. Again, I didn’t question why it was that women had to fly into outer-space in dresses that barely covered their fannies, worn with up-to-the-knee black leather boots. I accepted it, and my own skirts rode higher.

My father liked crime and legal dramas, and in those days, the few women represented, always as secretaries and receptionists, wore severely businesslike attire. I remember an episode where Perry Mason chastised a woman client for not wearing a girdle – which would definitely give the jury an altogether seamy impression of her morals. I didn’t question why women were only support staff, and had to cram their bodies into uncomfortable undergarments.

My mother presented me with a girdle when I was thirteen, with the order “You don’t go out without it.” I did go out without it. I hated the thing and at the age of thirteen, who could tell? However, message received -- in duplicate -- from Mum and Perry Mason.

The commercial content was also different. Some commodities, like menstrual equipment or women’s undergarments didn’t exist, according to the airwaves. What I remember most from commercials in those days would be a woman, dressed very nicely under the circumstances, not able to clean her house to some unattainable standard, and this man showed up with just the right product and instructed her on how to perform her domestic duties properly.

If I added up all the messages I received from the media in my formative years, they’d run like this: A girl can grow up to be a nurse, not a doctor; a school teacher but not a professor; a secretary but not a lawyer; never a police officer (but for the occasional police matron who looked like a refrigerator in sensible shoes and was mean) or a firefighter; certainly not an astronaut (but even if she did she’d wear skimpy clothes.) Women are to be well-groomed, made up and bejeweled at all times and that included all the uncomfortable under-riggings that made sure her flesh didn’t jiggle. Women came in two forms – good girls who married, and marry they must to men who instruct them in life, cleaned their houses all the time, cooked three heavy meals a day for their families, didn’t work outside of the home, and were usually blonde – and bad girls, who didn’t wear girdles, partied, chewed gum with an audible snap, were unabashed about runs in their nylons, smoked, were usually brunette and ended up needing Perry Mason.

If it all sounds distorted – it was, but what twelve or thirteen-year-old girl gets the whole picture. In all honesty, this was life for women as absorbed from the media by girls of that age and time. I know it wasn’t only me thus influenced. This is a discussion I’ve had with many women of my age.

Was it a true reflection of society at the time? No. Many women went to work, and our neighbor was a female doctor. Another taught at the local college. Still another was a renowned paleontologist. I knew women on ranches who spent all day working beside their male partners, and then came home to make dinner while he “took it easy.” None of them lived by the roles as portrayed by the television, not in attitude, and certainly not in dress and appearance. Somehow, though, the electronic messages were the stronger ones, the ones we ate up, that left us desperate to break out and at the same time, afraid we weren’t normal.

The sixties came along, and for me, fifteen in 1968, that wonderfully bizarre year, everything changed. Then I no longer wanted to be a ‘good’ girl – and if that meant I was headed for ruin, so be it. But it took a lot of work to unravel all this programming, and I still feel the after-effects.

Scroll to Continue

So, I applied my remembrances and theories to the girls of today, and to the media of today. And again, I ask, is the media merely a reflection of society’s true state?

What does a girl see when she turns on the television? Many things have changed. Women are portrayed in all roles in society, which is good, but along with their professional success, they must above all be glamorous and sexy, which is not good.

Sometimes it’s almost funny. My granddaughter, who loves to watch TV, didn’t pick up on it until I pointed it out. She was watching CSI, and commented, “Nana, see the women here are equal to the man – you’re wrong.”

“But haven’t you noticed that all of them look and dress like pole-dancers?” I asked. “Even the police officers are walking around with their tits hanging out, and pants that look like they’re painted on. And the coroner – look at her. She’s dressed like she works over at the Emerald City Gentlemen’s Club. Do you honestly think this is how real women in these professions look?”

After her show, when I wanted to take her out for dinner, she went to change and came back dressed just like them. She’s a cute girl, with a nice figure, but in a tee-shirt that showed not only a third of her breasts but her belly button, and pants that barely covered her pubic area, too tight and not at all flattering considering the roll of baby-fat above them, she looked ready to turn tricks on the seamy side of Highway 41.

“It’s the fashion,” she grumped, seeing my displeasure.

“Says who?” I asked, knowing her father, were he here with us, would never let her out of the house dressed like that.


I didn’t argue, but vowed we’d discuss “everyone” over dinner. Once inside the restaurant, I looked around. There were a number of girls out with parents, some older girls out on dates, and many women of various ages. Aside from a few daring décolletages, everyone’s clothes covered their bodies.

Quite a few shot less than admiring glances at my sweet baby girl, and by the flush on her face when we seated; I knew she’d realized she’d misjudged the situation. I watched as she fidgeted with her napkin, trying to cover herself, and took pity on her. I slipped off my light jacket and handed it to her.

Embarrassed tears filled her eyes. “I thought everyone dressed like this here in Florida.”

“What made you think that?”

“It’s what you see on TV.”

Point made.

Not only did I raise my own daughters, but I parented a series of foster daughters over the years and I’ve watched them as they try to emulate what they think is society’s norm as fed to them by that electronic pimp. I’ve seen them diet to stick-thin proportions after watching Calista Flockhart, dress like tarts because they so loved Madonna (or whoever it is flaunting their flesh on videos now), spend all their money on labeled clothes just like Beverly Hills 90210, speak like idiots from The Valley, and talk of implants and lipo-suction after some hideous reality show based on plastic surgery. They do it to feel normal.

They are led. Television does not reflect our reality – it makes it.

Young girls are so very sensitive and unsure of themselves. They wake up one day, look in the mirror and ask, “Whose body is this? It doesn’t feel like mine anymore. And is it good enough? Am I normal? Do I fit in? Or am I the freak I feel I am?”

They look to the media for guidance, because as every parent knows, at a certain age Mum and Dad know nothing. And what do we give them?

Isn’t that gorgeous DA, going to court in a tight black suit with a red teddy peeking out about as realistic as Donna Reid prancing around her immaculate house dressed for a White House reception? Little girls of eleven or twelve parade across the screen as sexualized parodies of fashion dolls. Women in positions of power and prestige are portrayed as slightly aging beauty queens, not intelligent, regular, women-down-the-street. How does a girl cope?

Now I’m ready to come back to the Victoria’s Secret thing. I’d be willing to bet that while the men are ogling the parade of perfect bodies, the women are looking at the lingerie and thinking, would I measure up in that? The hidden message is buy this and you too will look as sexy as me. Strange how sex has degenerated into a ‘look’, don’t you think? It would seem to me that as long as we worry about how we look, sexually speaking, we’re not free to feel, and I thought that was what it was all about.

The nubile female body is now enshrined as the universal symbol of sexuality, so of course it has come to be as compelling to women as to men, but for entirely different reasons.

It is the media that has led us here, no doubt – no doubt at all.

What adds particular insult to this injury is that the men can look like anything at all. Picture Sam Waterston as Jack McCoy on Law and Order, a gifted and compelling actor no doubt – but handsome? No, I don’t think so. And yet over the years we’ve seen a bevy of stunning women pass through his office as his assistants, all learning their law and tactics from this ordinary looking man. Not a plain one in the bunch – a situation I’ve heard wryly described as “eruditing to a high-fashion model.”

Picture David Caruso strutting about the gaggle of almost-bare-breasted, beautiful women supposed to be police officers, scientists and lawyers on CSI Miami. Is he a hunk? Not in my books. (In fact, he looks suspiciously like my grade seven English teacher.)

There are so many examples, but I’ll stop here. It’s unfortunate, but the media’s lesson has been learned far too well in our society.

Some time ago, doing some research, I interviewed men recently released from prison. One of them had enjoyed a correspondence with a woman for years while in prison, but had rejected her once they met.

“She was a dog,” he said, showing me her picture. She was an ordinary looking woman, reasonably attractive, but no show-stopper to be sure.

I looked at this overweight, butt-crack displaying, bald, saggy-faced loser who after a decade in prison felt that he too, was entitled to a gorgeous thing on his arm. After ten years spent where the only women he saw were those on television, I suppose his expectations probably were a little skewed. Before I could stop myself, my temper took over and I snapped, “Have you looked in a mirror lately? What makes you think you’re a ten?”

Yes, the media has much to answer for, I believe. It does not reflect our society other than in the most distorted manner, pandering to our basest fantasies. No sir, Mr. Comment-Writer, I disagree with you. The media has created this phenomenon. We have reached the age of life imitating art, not vice verso, where the appearance of things outweighs the content.

I imagine we’ll get the leaders we deserve in this media age.

It is important that we point out the “bimbos” of the airwaves – for the benefit of our girls, so that they don’t buy into it, any more than they already have. I believe the term is calling a spade a spade.


Sanxuary on March 26, 2017:

Regular society is far worst. Telivision doesnt come close to how rude and stupid then people have become. Really the Family Guy makes Peter Griffon look smarter and less like an a-hole then a lot of people I meet then most days. I would have neverv said this 5 years ago and that tells you how close we are to imploding as a society. Thank God I am getting older and will die soon.

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on February 09, 2013:

Wow. Quite a message. Lots to think about. Thanks for taking the time to express your views here, though I think some of your ideas would be better stated without the second person imperative tone which comes across like orders from a higher authority. Not that I disagree with much of what you say, only in how you've chosen to say it. None of us have the answers for others, only for ourselves. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

Sanxuary on February 09, 2013:

I never watched TV for 30 years and my job never allowed me to be a part of normal society. In the last several years I caught up to both and I took up writing because I was so shocked by all this. My research finds that we have been living this lie for a good 80 years. First of all everything on TV is distorted and most all of it is a lie. We are Consumers in all aspects of our lives and addicted to an imaginary program of instant gratification. This is such a shallow pool that we swim in that I no longer swim because everyone is peeing in the water. The great age of greed is crumbling and the false imaginary life program that people believe exist is beginning to lose its lustre. Monetary freedom is the greatest freedom one can have, because it is the new slavery. Imaginary tickets can not be punched to provide happiness or any sense of true achievement in our lives. Unfortunately people have learned nothing. We are approaching a decade where all programs were exposed as lies and holding no substance, yet we circle back to the ones who lied to you before. Robbing us blind we still buy the very things that stand in our way. I have yet to buy a product that provides me a sexual experience not created by me. I know my health and mental health is determined by my choices and avoiding the lies they sell. A life change is required to change anything in my life. If you work in a hostile work place stop working their. If you our heavy or in poor health stop eating the things that are making you sick. Stop dating advertisements and find a real person. Discover real people are human and carry a lot of baggage. Most of this baggage is from living a life time of lies they have been taught. If something does not present something good why do we keep buying it and supporting it. Think of the truth and think of one place that never stops doing evil and terrible things. Now ask yourself why do we keep buying there products? Stop supporting evil and force some change in this World.

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on April 28, 2012:

I agree -- though I've never watched the Kardassians, nor am I likely to do so.

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on March 24, 2012:

Ah, I see. That was the point I was trying to make in this hub: does television (and other media) reflect or affect? I lean to affect.

ofnipsdfjgdfn on March 23, 2012:

No idea how to reply to that, Immartin. I thought about it for a while before writing this comment - and came up with no answer.

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on March 22, 2012:

Hi ofnipsdfgdn. Does it merely reflect or does it affect us? That's the real question. Thanks for the comment. Lynda

ofnipsdfjgdfn on March 22, 2012:

As a child myself - I'd say that television does relfect on society and play a big part in our everyday lives. It'affected my generation massively, there's no denying that. You made some good points though - Immartin and I agree with you for the most part.

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on February 23, 2012:

You're very welcome, Amelia. Happy to have been of assistance.

Hi John, I suspect you are not a parent of teenagers or you would not speak so blithely about "filtering" what the media feeds them. There's no doubt there are some fine programs available on television, but getting your child to watch with interest can be another matter entirely. Most kids want to watch what the other kids are watching, not history, not nature, not science, not even serious drama. There is no shielding your children from the popular media. Thanks for your comment. Lynda

John on February 23, 2012:

I hope you understand that not ALL television programs are necessarily "horrible" in a way to put it.

Most programs on our televisions can empower society and make people realize that yes, we do have many good motives and messages out there! I do agree with you for your argument that society is being controlled by our media. But, if we council our young, growing generation, we can "filter" in a way what the media feeds to them. Thank you for all of your opinions on this subject, they are very fascinating!

Amelia on February 23, 2012:

For my psychology course I have to research how media and society is reflecting onto younger people and this piece really hit everything that I needed for my paper! Thank you so much for your input.

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on February 21, 2012:

But what are they learning, Solomon? Have you watched our television? Does it reflect reality? Not as I see it.

Solomon neo hlongwane on February 21, 2012:

It doesn't affect society because many children they get better understanding or gaining more knowledge from television

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on February 19, 2012:

Why thanks, okaygrace. This was one of my heartfelt ramblings at the time. But so true! We look to the media to guide us as to what we should be, but what do we see? No, more and more I am convinced it is the media leading and we the sheople following. Thanks for taking the time to comment on this old hub. Much appreciated. Lynda

okaygrace on February 19, 2012:

Spot on, glad I came across this as you did a good job conveying your message and keeping me entertained at the same time. Loved the David Caruso reference btw! :P

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on October 30, 2011:

Glad that works for you. I do find some programming of value and would not give it up. To each their own I suppose. Commercials are made for bathroom breaks and beyond that, I agree they are banal and ridiculous, particularly when repeated ad nauseum as they often are. I also prefer commercial free TV, but try to avoid football. Not an easy task when I live with an avid fan, but I do my best.

SanXuary on October 29, 2011:

I do not find to many documentaries on TV. I do find plenty by other means and yes I do watch them on a television but minus the commercials I do not consider that to be television in the same sense. I watch football and by the time it is over I am driven insane by the dumb commercials. I could list dumb commercials that have no advertising value or purpose each week. After football I actually watch no actual television programming the rest of the year.

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on October 29, 2011:

No argument, though there are many times when I've just enjoyed the mindlessness of a good laugh at Frasier, for example, and love the many good documentaries. So I guess I have to say we should be careful not to use too broad a brush in painting it all bad. Thanks so much for commenting. Lynda

SanXuary on October 29, 2011:

Television is nothing but a commercial turning us into consumers and revoking our ability to be citizens. For many people it is all consuming dictating who and what they are and what they should be. There is very little reality in it and what reality there is we are slowly growing numb to it. Worst then sex and murder on the screen is what it sells is constant greed and instant gratification of all the things you will probably never experience. Television can be a very powerful tool. Serving the truth, explaining the actual decisions occurring in our lives and educating people. Instead its mindless, senseless and useless garbage convincing us of lies and acts of inhumanity and stupidity most of the time.

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on May 26, 2011:

Hi Alexandra -- You're welcome to use anything you find here but ... a resource page for facts? There are no facts used in this OPINION piece except my own perceptions and memories. If you want more info, you may email me through my contact under my avatar. Lynda

alexandra on May 25, 2011:

i really would like to use some of you information to back up my research paper, but i don't see a resource page for how u know these are good facts? can u help me out?

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on March 25, 2011:

Hi USCIS gov forms -- your name gives me shivers having just completed the immigration process. (shudder!) However, on to your comment. So you believe the media is in the lead. I agree. But I disagree that the media offers something new or fresh. What they do offer is skewed, a distortion of reality where everyone is beautiful, well-dressed, wealthy and has perfect teeth and behaves in ways that are not at all reflective of the reality of society. In order to keep us coming back, the must constantly push the envelope. For impressionable (or feeble) minds, this becomes reality. A dangerous situation, I think. Thanks for commenting here. Lynda

USCIS gov forms on March 25, 2011:

living in the new age era where everything is electronic worries the hell out of me.what is shown by the media can be seen in the society, and what you see in the society is reflected in the media.but i always think that the media is one step ahead. it is the one responsible for feeding people with stupid thoughts and ideas which people used to think of as impossible before.for a medium to be able to reach a big number of viewers and listeners, it usually needs to offer fresh ideas and insights. though we usually tend to go to things which we are familiar with, we are usually fascinated to learn something new--and this is what media will feed will offer something fresh to something which is already known..then,wham!we're all mutants!

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on February 22, 2011:

Why thank you aisha. And no, I haven't been called awesome a whole lot. Glad to be of help. Lynda

aisha on February 22, 2011:

Has anyone told you that you are AWESOME lately? Because you definitely are! I loved this hub and it helped me a ton on my comp paper. Thank you for your wisdom. =+D

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on February 01, 2011:

Sweetie, I'm her grandmother, not her mother. And I have my own ways of teaching her a lesson, ones that do not include dividing young females into good,nice and decent versus not-nice, bad and indecent. Believe me, she'll remember that lesson much longer than if I had just put my foot down. I try to teach my grandchildren not to be judgmental. Also, not every girl wearing sexy clothes is 'bad,' and nor every girl dressed conservatively is 'nice'.

Not that I disagree with you at all. A mother has a different relationship than a grandmother does with a girl. We have to be devious. Thanks so much for commenting here. Lynda

Pamela N Red from Oklahoma on February 01, 2011:

I agree with this and have noticed the same things over the years.

You are more lenient than I am. I won't let my daughter out of the house in revealing clothes. She also tries the everyone is wearing it speech but then I tell her that good girls aren't doing it and point out nice girls dressing decent.

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on January 18, 2011:

Well call me foolish! Of course it has social reflections. Television is a major influence, particularly for the young. Foolishness is to be blind to reality.

Shahid Bukhari from My Awareness in Being. on January 18, 2011:

Every Nation has had its Opiates ... The Chinese suffered Opium, to the advantage of their Emperors ... In modern Democracy, its the Opium of Television ... to the advantage of politicians.

And the TV Opiate is "Entertainment" ... The only thing, motivating Television Productions, and Sponsorships, is Money ...its foolish to think about other motivators and Social Reflections.

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on January 02, 2011:

Thanks Mr. Happy. Here's the link you wanted and go to how to reserve your copy. You could also google either my name Lynda M Martin or the book title, as I've worked so hard to get up there on the search engines.

About the TV, I agree that it has become a vehicle of drivel and the worst kind of manipulation, but it is here to stay, I think. Best we talk with our children and help them keep it all in perspective.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on January 02, 2011:

I was trying to find a comment of yours where you linked the site where I can sign-up for the up-coming book and I came across this blog which I had not read. I got stuck here lol. How convenient though: the link I needed is in your last comment here.

Now, on the issue of the stupid box. There is so much to say ...

Growing up in the dictatorial communist regime in Romania, as a kid I could care less about the television. There was only one channel and the program started at seven PM. Until ten o'clock the program was filled with news of what our great communist leader (the brutal dictator Nicolae Ceausescu) was doing: oversea trips, conferences ... all propaganda, all boring. At ten o'clock a movie would be played but they were so bad that I am not sure if many people watched them. It was all about the communist defeat of the Nazis, the communist comrades who were always under-geared and out-numbered always won. We had our own versions of Rambo I suppose. Dull. Thus, I never watched television.

My television as a kid was black and white too so there was very little incentive on ever turning it on. When I was ten we got a VCR (that was illegal though and tapes were traded only by people who trusted each other). So, I did watch some Tom and Jerry cartoons, Snow White ... Disney stuff but very little. Can you imagine Disney movies being illegal? lol I can because that was the reality for me as a kid.

I think I was about thirteen when my family got the first coloured TV ... that was exciting, not as exciting as running around outside though, or riding the streets endlessly on my bicycle. For me the television never reflected my life. Even now, it sits on news channels and/or the Discovery Channel.

I get very angry with the television all the time. The endless pharmaceutical commercials that have a drug for me for anything at anytime drive me mad: if my head hurts, if I'm itchy, if I'm tired or too energetic or if I sleep too much or too little - there's always the right drug... I want to take a base-ball bat to it sometimes.

I shall write something on commercials, eventually. Cheers for a great blog!!

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on September 14, 2010:

Hi tiggerinma,

The first in this planned series of three is scheduled for release January 27, 2011. Here is the website for the book: The second is in edit and the third is still in pieces on my computer and in my mind.

Thanks for the comment. Lynda

Tiggerinma from Massachusetts on September 14, 2010:

Very well written. Boys too were and still are strongly influenced by media. I'm just a touch older, but movies too were a strong influence of the standards we were to strive for. Today there is not only TV and movies, but music videos as well as personal web pages UTubes, and everything else now out here over the Internet.

I sure got a couple of great chuckles though from your article, likely because they are so true.

Expectations and perceptions!

"I interviewed men recently released from prison. One of them had enjoyed a correspondence with a woman for years while in prison, but had rejected her once they met.

“She was a dog,” he said, showing me her picture. She was an ordinary looking woman, reasonably attractive, but no show-stopper to be sure.

I looked at this overweight, butt-crack displaying, bald, saggy-faced loser who after a decade in prison felt that he too, was entitled to a gorgeous thing on his arm. After ten years spent where the only women he saw were those on television, I suppose his expectations probably were a little skewed. Before I could stop myself, my temper took over and I snapped, “Have you looked in a mirror lately? What makes you think you’re a ten?”

Great writing. I've read several of your other hubs too. I think that I saw the cover of a book on one of them. Is it yours and is it now available? In fact, I think you said that you have now written two novels that address abuse. Can you provide a link to where they can be purchased?

In His service,

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on September 07, 2010:

Thank you, Jim King. We can have the chicken and egg argument for a long time, but in the end run, what you say is correct. Lynda

Jim King, London on September 07, 2010:

rSept 7 2010

TV eflects back society, that lowest of common culture adopts the worst, believing it is the correct way.

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on September 05, 2010:

Thank you Mark. You are so right. Lynda

Mark Monroe from Dover De on September 05, 2010:


A well writen hub, media, whether in the from of movies, video games, TV, internet, or the writtne word has always created an illusion of reality. I know as a parent of four it is a constant challenge teach my children that what people tell you though these fourms only represents a part of the story of life. That they have to go out and expereince the world.

Again great hub

thank you


lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on August 17, 2010:

Thank you dChosen -- so which did come first, chicken or egg? I understand your frustration with stereotyping on television, and playing to the lowest common denominator. It is unfortunate that a medium that could have done so much for the elevation of mankind had sunk to little more than a burlesque barker, and the huckster selling his wares. Thank you so much for commenting.

Dchosen_01 on August 17, 2010:

As an African living in Ukraine, I could imagine what the Television had done to them. Some still do not believe there are houses in Africa. After this world cup, more than 80% of my friends finally believe me on what I tell them about Africa. The TV could be one sided and streotypic. It only gives you what the presenters or directors wants to fee you with.

Nairobi as beautiful as it is, with the luminous buildings which glows like the skyscrapers of New York and its roads which reflects and sparkle like the high ways of Tokyo, yet, when Obama won his presidential election, aljezeera news showed a news cast live from Niarobi in a nearby village near the capital in a bush with some black people jumping up and down.

Nevertheless, it has made life easier and has made information better. The TV itself is not to be blamed. Its those using it to convey information to the Public. Finally, the Tv and the society is like the Chicken and her Egg. Think of which came first, then you will see how inter-related the Tv and the society is.

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on August 14, 2010:

Thank you Words by Mike, so I assume it's all right with you if I link your recent related article on the same subject to this one. Will do in the next few days.

Words by Mike on August 14, 2010:

Lynda, I love the hub. This is what I want people to realize before they leave their children’s impressionable minds to suffer the impossible bar of Hollywood before them. I also believe that having an open discussion is just as equally important as you did with your grand daughter. To many people neglect discussing issue with their children leaving to their own demise in determining what is realistic and or appropriate from the endless parade of inappropriate design on the Digital babysitter. Well written. Cheers~

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on February 11, 2010:

I don't blame you one bit. Still, most of us haven't quit, and I wonder about all the damage done to those young developing minds, not to mention the old ones that never did develop. Thanks for the comment Moulik Mistry.

Moulik Mistry from Burdwan, West Bengal, India on February 11, 2010:

Since the last decade, I have stopped watching TV. It is damn boring caricaturing the so-called reality of society...

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on January 09, 2010:

I raised two daughter, foster daughters and have two granddaughters and you're right, you can't shield them from these influences, only help them to understand and see through them. It's good that you talk to her about the subject, and share your own influences, too. She's lucky. Thanks so much for dropping by and leaving your comment, and I hope you come back and read some more.

kj8 from Australia on January 09, 2010:

This is the best hub I have read to date. My daughter is twelve I started talking to her about the portrayal of women in the media and advertising from about the age of three - when the opportunity arose and at age level of course. I still don't think I can completely protect her from these influences.

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on January 06, 2010:

Unfortunately, many viewers are too young to be discriminating as to what choices they make. Youth is more inclined to accept such influences without question, and without involving choice. Adults may make choices -- our children do not have the mental equipment. That's my issue.

But you are right -- it is everywhere. Thanks for reading and leaving your comment.

Cathy Nerujen from Edge of Reality and Known Space on January 06, 2010:

In media studies that I am studying at the moment, it's natural for the TV networks to influence real society. In the UK right now, SKY TV are running a campaign to get Gordon Brown to agree to do a TV debate with the other main political parties. Every day, a radio station is doing a survey and asking a question about a relevant topic of one kind or another. TV influences because it also sells us things. In America's Got Talent, the judges all have a mineral drink in front of them, and the name is always visible. Not so much over here in the UK, but it is coming. It can be control or it can be choice. We get to choose to what degree the control is applied. But it goes way beyond TV. It's everywhere!

pjk_artist from Turkey Point, ON on December 12, 2009:

I struggled using the word control too. Influence is a better word.

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on December 12, 2009:

Hi pjk artist. I'm not sure control is the appropriate word. Control is a mandatory force which one cannot resist, whereas influence suggest we choose to respond -- which is the case. For many of us, it's too much work to think for ourselves.

pjk_artist from Turkey Point, ON on December 11, 2009:

How about a hub like:

"Does television (and other media) CONTROL society or does society CONTROL the influence of television?"

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on December 08, 2009:

Hello Mortgagestart, (interesting pen name) There is a fine line between social change and propaganda. Beware. Be afraid - very afraid. An interesting thing I learned in my travels: most cultures view North American women as sexy, available, but not someone you would trust and take home to Mama, because of TV programming and the image it projects. Interesting don't you think?

Mortgagestar1 from Weirton,West Virginia on December 08, 2009:

Television is written and controlled by people with agendas. These agendas once propagated repeatedly will filter into social tolerance. Television once mirrored America, now television is a tool for social change.

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on December 07, 2009:

Thank's Set's all Set, You're right. Until someone finds the fortitude to turn the thing off and forego the glittering images, they don't understand how they've been affected by them.

Set's All Set from New England on December 07, 2009:

Sorry I took so long to come back. I want to clarify. Most people will answer your question but they, themselves, continue to watch television. Until they've quit television, they can't truly understand the question and be able to answer it objectively. Not watching television myself and having watched it in the past, I have a clearer understanding from both sides of the spectrum.

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on November 27, 2009:

Thanks for reading this hub and your comment. I'll read your hub and you're smart to quit television. I don't quite understand the sentence -- most people talk with no real experience from both sides. Are there people with no experience of television or society? Or am I missing your meaning? I hope you come back and explain.

Set's All Set from New England on November 27, 2009:

to answer your question, definitely both BUT society reflects television more. Most people talk with no real experience from both side. I wrote a hub telling my story on how I quit television.

ColdWarBaby on November 27, 2009:

All stories in amerika are completely one-sided. If they can't be spun to make us the good guy, they simply aren't told.

I think the chord is struck simply because we're both hearing the same music. Right now it sounds ominously dark and funereal to me.

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on November 26, 2009:

Hi Coldwarbaby -- your comments strike a strong chord in me. It is true, that many of us consider ourselves well informed when what we are is programmed. Beyond misinformation, lack of coverage of the rest of the world continues to keep us insular and give us no background with which to judge the truth of what we are told.

Thank you for your reflections on this issue.

ColdWarBaby on November 26, 2009:

The availability of ACCURATE information is essential to any FUNCTIONAL civil society. As John Mayer put it so well, "When you trust the television, what you get is what you've got. WHEN THEY OWN THE INFORMATION THEY CAN BEND IT ALL THEY WANT."

If misinformation is all that's available, most, if not all, people will remain misinformed.

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

--Johan Goethe

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on November 25, 2009:

Hi Amanda, I know what you mean by our children accepting images as reality. You forgot to mention the perfect teeth. I always thought everyone in the U.S. had perfect teeth, so white you had to turn the contrast on your TV down.

Hi Coldwarbaby, Yep, you're right. And it's time we all understood that, and possibly held the media accountable for the false images and ideals to promote.

ColdWarBaby on November 25, 2009:

Once upon a time, when there was this thing called art, it often took its inspiration from life. There have been many variations, back and forth, art imitating life and vice versa. An "artist" might do something inspirational enough to affect the general public, to start a "trend".

Since television took over the media, it has become nothing more than a tool of indoctrination and almost all "art" has been commodified.

Amanda Severn from UK on November 25, 2009:

Hi lmmartin,

There can be no doubt that our ideas and beliefs are to some extent determined by what we see on TV. I have a 14 year old who is obsessed with visiting America. She firmly believes that American girls all look and dress like Hilary Duff or Miley Cyrus, and that they all get their own car at 15 and live near a beach. Of course it's always summer, everyone lives in enormous houses with swimming pools, and all the boys are really cute too. Oh, if only! My ten year old boy, on the other hand, is very keen on both the Simpsons, and the endless re-runs of Friends. I haven't quite figured out how his mind-set is being affected by this, but hopefully he doesn't imagine that all American men are fat, yellow, bald and stupid, or that the women have bouffant blue hair! LOL!

Great hub BTW

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on November 21, 2009:

HI Martyjay,

We are subject to so much propoganda today, we make the past look entirely amateur. This applies in particular to those political divisions that are so rampant, as well as the sexual stereotyping. You are right -- we all need to learn to think for ourselves and stop buying into "the party line."

Thanks for dropping by.

martyjay on November 21, 2009:

Control the media and you will control how people think and behave. This principle goes back to WWII. The Germans with their ministry of propaganda through films and radio. The Japanese with Tokoyo rose. The lesson taught here was passed on to our modern media.

Sex sells. I can promote my products by having them displayed in the movies, television and advertising using perfect women. The bonus that not only will men watch they will influence the women they know and date to accept the appearance they are selling.

This also works on our local and national news levels. When news reports stopped being about the news and more for entertainment purposes I cannot remember. However, I do know that women news reporters have become more attractive and the news more sensationalized. The most watched news reports attract the most advertising dollars.

Thanks for the wake up call. We as a society can no longer just view what is being presented to us by the media. We must stop and think about and analyze everything that is being fed. If we accept everything that is presented to us as the truth, then we will be certainly be deprived of the ability to think for ourselves.

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on November 19, 2009:

Hi pgrundy, your comments on sex in the media and dominance hit yet another chord. If you think back to before sex existed (according to the media) dominance was still very much a theme. The helpless housewife who need the man to come in and tell her how to solve her problems, the programing that showed all these women whose lives were controlled by men -- even Lucy, poor woman always having to worry about Ricky. And then by the time it came to the seventies -- women were always the victims to be rescued by the men. Almost every drama ran on this theme.

Hi kartika, You are so right. No matter what my reality of the world back in the early '60's in Canada (which probably correlated to the late 50's here) with the working women all around me, including my mother, and the professional women I did know, that electronic media, that box that was my only window out to the big world told me differently. I lived near a small prairie town in south-eastern Alberta -- population 20,000. Conservative as anything you'd find anywhere -- think Mississippi in the late 50's. Girls typically got pregnant before graduating high school and then married and lived happily ever after. (Uh-huh.) So, in spite of the reality before our eyes, that women did work, we all still bought in to Dick Van Dyke and Lara, Ethel and Lucy, the Bradys -- "your father's right."

Actually, the more I think about this subject and this hub -- which now seems to be better than when I wrote it -- I see that my musings have opened up a whole new way of looking at TV and its effects. Hmmm -- more thought needed.

And to both you and pgrundy -- yes, this feeding off one idea that takes us all in different directions, and sharing that is wonderful, and I find it satisfying to be caught up in it.

Nan, hello my dear. You are right as well. Our girls have all been caught up in and buy into the idea that there physical state is all they are. And it is disturbing. I hope you read Kartika's comment about how things progress -- the line is drawn but it becomes ordinary, so it is extended, and then that becomes ordinary so it is extended. I know you well enough from your writing and the comments we have shared to know that you would find your granddaughter's attitude very upsetting. If it is of any comfort, the truth dawns on all of us sooner or later, but rarely soon enough to spare us pain. It seems to be the pattern of life and your granddaughter too, will find her way through it.

kartika damon from Fairfield, Iowa on November 19, 2009:

Yes pgrundy, and as a little girl I never got the message women needed to work even though my mother worked as a school teacher part of the time because my father died. But, every other mom I knew stayed home and that's what I thought I would do. I was not prepared to work and at least the young girls now get that they will have to make their own living - that is the upside of the times because every woman should know she can earn a living!

pgrundy on November 19, 2009:

Hi Immartin--I like the back and forth we have going between our hubs. Not an argument so much as an ongoing discussion. You write something that inspires a tangent in me, and vice versa. To my mind, that is one of the best things about Hub Pages, and I like that kind of dialogue. Not adversarial so much as conversational, if that makes any sense.

Gail Collins has a new book out I'm looking forward to reading about how everything changed for women during our generation, and she does talk about what you point out here--that the 50s were not all about stay-at-home moms and sexism to the degree that the media suggested. About 40% of mothers in the 50s worked, and that's no small thing. You wouldn't know it from watching 50s TV.

An interesting statistic in the books was that when girls of that time were asked what they wanted to do when they grew up, most chose 'full-time wife and homemaker', yet only about one in ten got to be a stay at home wife--9 our of 10 had to work at least for part of their marriage and motherhood. So basically, girls were not encouraged to prepare for work, even though statistically it was almost assured they would have to work.

What I find weird about sex is how dominance is always assumed as part of the mix. Why? Sex sells, but it's a particular KIND of sex--sex with the woman (sic:girl) as product, owned and operated for the pleasure of the male. I think part of the reason so many modern men are homophobic is that men loving men cuts through the dominance thing and is therefore destabilizing and terrifying.

I'm rambling. Sorry. Great hub, thanks. :)

Nan on November 19, 2009:

I liked your article better on Heros, Dogs. They are trainable to be reliable and dependable, and help mankind. Society does not know where they are going. The new generation is show your goods! My granddaughter is endowed with a wonderful body, and says she should show it. She is in competition with other women, and needs to look better! TV does not help them to be conservative, they show everything.

kartika damon from Fairfield, Iowa on November 19, 2009:

I think the why is - sex sells and the more it's out there, the more people buy - the more tv they watch, the more product they buy, etc. And it is also a fact they have to keep upping the ante - so once something becomes ordinary, marketing needs to push the boundaries more and it just keeps escalating - and parents do have a harder job and I think parents, more than ever, need to be involved with kids - and that is harder with parents overwhelmed working to make ends meet, etc. There have been times when girls and young women had more role models that didn't rely on sex to sell themselves - we thought they were cool and they helped us redirect our thinking - I remember adoring Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell! They weren't selling sex - they were making art and they were also beautiful and we looked up to them. I also think Gloria Steinem was a role model and other feminists at that time. Now it seems it's Britney Spears. So, without these images, parents have to fight against the media and that is brutal. I'm happy I'm not dealing with granddaughters now! And, when I think of the difference a Britney Spears could make by wising up, I see she's wasting lots of leverage!

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on November 19, 2009:

Yes -- it's everywhere, but why? Again the questions remains unanswered -- is TV a reflection of real life, or the reverse. I'm voting for the reverse, based on a lifetime of watching girls soak it up and act it out. As for the overt sexuality -- I've overheard girls of eleven, twelve and thirteen discussing the proper techniques of a blow job. It's expected of them -- or so they think -- to be normal, to fit in, to be part of what they are told is society.

So it then brings up questions -- how do parents, grandparents and other adults deal with this electronic message? Just saying you can't watch isn't the answer -- and it won't work. Kids of this age don't think adults know anything -- and the media is there instructing them quite explicitly on how they should be.

kartika damon from Fairfield, Iowa on November 19, 2009:

Well said, lmmartin! I had the experience yesterday of going to utube and watching a Carrie Underwood video - home grown Texan country singer - I actually was in the mood for something kinda real. There was Carrie, undulating her hips and thrusting her crotch forward - I then took a detour to see some of the videos of women singers I like to listen to, and again - they were selling sex as much as music - maybe more. It's a requirement - not enough to be just beautiful anymore - you have to be overtly sexual - and overtly sexual keeps upping the ante. And, the preteen and teen girls are told they have to be that to be successful and successful means have friends, get guys, and fit in. So, your hub is a great analysis of this sad state of affairs!

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on November 19, 2009:

Thanks highvoltagewriter. I often have the TV murmuring in the background -- sometimes just on the weather channel. Why? I don't know, except that I am alone here in my little house with only my dogs for company. I think it gives me the illusion I have life around me. There are some programs I enjoy and work into breaks in my schedule, but very few. I used to leave the "news" on, but after three days now of Sara Palin on her book tour -- I'm disgusted. I eagerly await the BBC news reports and take time out for them. They do real reporting -- and on the entire world! Something alien to American culture -- the world.

William Benner from Savannah GA. on November 19, 2009:

You have got "some work done" for your observations are right on target! Even though writing hubs take you away from your other assignments, it is still worth the time for you make points worth making...I am my self, do not even own a TV at this time, for I find it to much of an attraction. Thanks again for an honest insightful hub!

lmmartin (author) from Alberta and Florida on November 19, 2009:

Hi ralwus -- yes I agree with you, regular programming sucks. While you are mature enough to find better things to watch, our children are not. I don't think it's fair to say TV is just a reflection of our society. We were the first generation to grow up with it, now look at the second and third. TV has become a dictator of fashion and mores.

Just an addition, I've always enjoyed British programming and often watch dramas from the BBC, because there the actors look like regular everyday people, and it's refreshing -- not to mention real.

Hi papajack -- Yes, I've noticed that on CNN, and others. TV would give us the idea our world is populated with nobody except the beautiful people. Imagine the impact on our sensitive, insecure little girls. (And boys too, I'm sure.)

Thanks to both of you for reading my hub. Today, I'm going to get some work done, I am.

papajack on November 19, 2009:

Inspired and strangely poetic :-)

How about your favorite CNN? Ever notice how all the female anchors are "eye candy" except the real Candy Crowley who has shed a huge amount of weight in the last year, hmmmm? One small correction, the head of the new CSI's character was in fact a Vegas pole dancer in her prior life.

ralwus on November 19, 2009:

Well you called that spade right on. Great hub. So, you thought ol' ralwus was at it again. Hehe funny. I see in this hub you are younger than I. I wish I could have seen you dressed like Ellie May back then. woo hoo Cowgirl! Back to the hub now; the Television we have today mostly sucks, I don't watch any prime time shows. I watch PBS, History. International History, Discovery, Science and nature stuff. Mostly I am on the PC reading or writing when I am not reading a book or painting. The media does affect our youth as it did us back then as well. Great hub, CC

Related Articles