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Analyasis of Culture and Society Today

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In 2001, an Iranian director by the name of Mohsen Makhmalbaf produced Safar-e-Quadahar (The Sun Behind the Moon), a powerful, moving film which tells the story of an Afghan-Canadian who returns to Afghanistan to seek out his younger sister who was left behind when the family escaped. There is one scene in particular that portrays the sign of how America lives today, a scene including images from emergency-food being dropped from Red Cross helicopters to Afghan men on crutches running and struggling to catch them. The scene itself does not literally show how we live in the present, but it has an underlying message portraying power, hope and fear, ethical, and social stakes that we deal with on an everyday basis. The way our society acts and thinks today can be based on three fundamental principles derived from the themes expressed in Makhmalbaf’s film scene.

First is how society copes with social trauma and structural violence. Indirectly, a large majority of the population today are not leaders. They are followers wishing to be led, and merely react when a situation arises. An example of this would be the tragedy of September 11th, 2001 and how people responded due to its negative effect on our society. This encompasses both social trauma and structural violence, and through this time of reconstruction the American people came together as one patriotic society. This social trauma led to people showing compassion, donating money, and volunteering their time.

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That basically just says that when faced with a problem, we as humans find ways to innovate and correct what is wrong, because we have a natural instinct to want what is best for us. Another example of this is the emergence of Scottish philosopher and political economist Adam Smith. As a result of people beginning to question abstract subject matters in 18th century Scotland, Smith derived his theory to economics. Though this theory was comprised to aid in economic success, it relates to society as well and the benefits that are to be gained from human nature. He created the theory of the “Invisible Hand,” which states that if an organism of any kind, namely humans, diligently works for their own self-interests, others will benefit as a result of this. This relates to how in today’s society humans are motivated to work for self-benefit, which has a secondary effect on the world bringing such advances as technological phenomena, government plans such as Social Security and Medicare, and many more. Smith’s theory was constructed for economics, but it certainly captures us as humans and our development as individuals.

The second fundamental principle is the involvement of the media, which affects our formation of public sentiments and manipulates our delineation of the public world as a whole.

“All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.”

- William Bernbach

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This quote by Bernbach states perfectly the endless possibilities and power the media holds. Depending on the desires of those running the media, they can, to an extent, subliminally deter someone’s beliefs and make them come to believe what the media thinks is best. The basic principle behind the media shaping society’s views is based on the idea of Socialization, which is “the process of developing a sense of self connected to a larger social world through learning and internalizing the values, beliefs, and norms of one's culture.” (http://www.public.asu.edu/~zeyno217/365/notes1.html) Today’s society and culture are led into taking certain roles based largely on what the media says is right. We act the way the media claims is socially acceptable, not necessarily what is really right. The group most largely affected by the media is today’s youth. Circa 2000 the media influence on children is the most it has ever been. As a child develops, they look up to their elders to form habits and behavioral characteristics. In a study done by Dr. Walsh, president of the National Institute on Media and the Family, it has been discovered that this “imitation adaptation” can start as young as fourteen months in young children. Today’s youth has been subjected to the electronical revolution far more than kids of the past. TV, videogames, etc. are at an all time high for exposure to today’s youth. It has developed the power to set cultural norms and shape their minds and thoughts, while at the same time remaining seemingly harmless. Adult media has also had in indirect effect on the children today. Today’s pop culture icons have

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