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Television Programs - How They Affect Society

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Essay title: Television Programs - How They Affect Society

Television Programs: How It Affects Society

“It was an accident,” proclaimed Janet Jackson after her Super Bowl fiasco, “a wardrobe malfunction.” It didn’t appear to be one to the millions of people who witnessed the exposing of one of Jackson’s breasts. Many were shocked and outraged, but this type of thing isn’t new for the infamous “boob tube”. In 1977, the miniseries “Roots”, was the first TV show to air bare breasts (Clark 1070). Even still, television programs have come a long way since that and the time of their creation.

Invented in 1923, television programs started off with airing sporting events, news hours, and cookie cutter programs (“History of TV” History). These programs usually taught morals and lessons at their closings and gave a false sense of reality. Today, you can see just about anything on TV, from someone being gunned down to wild and risk-free sex between couples (Gay couples too!). Studies have been done to see if these scenes seen by society can affect us negatively, as children have been analyzed through adulthood to see if violent and sexual behavior on TV has affected them badly. The results are children starting to deal with adult issues at an early age due to the graphic nature of television programs. Society now is more aggressive and losing it’s values. With this said, television programs have clearly evolved since 1923 and affected society negatively due to it’s violent and sexual content.

Since it’s start television has grown in availability and reached the living rooms of many. Television’s expansion started off slow due to the Depression and World War II. By the end of World War II, TV was certain to grow as fast as the radio had twenty years prior (Jost 1139). Television has also developed better technology as it is now shown in color with digital picturing. This started towards the late 1930's, when new technology was being used to show baseball games and special events (Jost 1138).

With the rise in technology companies have come up with a new system, interactive television. “With digital interactivity, consumers are in total control of the programming they bring into their homes,” declared Time Warner Chairman Gerald Levin on interactive television (qtd. in Jost 1131). I have witnessed firsthand, interactive TV as my cable company, Comcast, offers something similar called On Demand TV. With it I can choose movies or shows I want to watch. This includes shows on the latest music and fashion news that influence how I sometimes dress.

Television influences many people’s physical appearance. An example of such is the television network Music Television, better known as MTV. Surely, New York headquarters didn’t expect MTV to have the influence it does on 12-34 year olds, the audience it aims for. MTV influences their dress, as you can see them wear rock band clothing and tattoos. It also influences hair and speech. For Doug Herzog, head of MTV programming, it was common in the 1980's to see teens with Madonna blond locks and M.C. Hammer dance moves (qtd. in Givhan 1). Even today as hip hop is big on the scene, it is the norm to see young adults wearing urban clothing and cornrows with colored weaves. These are just small things that affect society, as nothing does like sex.

Early TV shows didn’t touch on the matters of sex. In fact, in the first congressional probe into TV’s sexual content that occurred in 1952, showed that early television shows were recognized for their mildness in dealing with sex (Clark 1033). It was common to see TV show couples sleep in separate beds, as seen in “The Dick Van Dyke Show”(Clark 1033). As time went on this all changed. Sex has become an open subject and widely seen in television: According toRobert Lichter, the co-director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs, monitored of more than a thousand shows from the 1950's to1990's, “Before 1970 sex on TV was left for people who were in love. After 1970, recreational sex was okay, and by the 1990's it was happening twenty times as often, and being presented as a positive, even among teens”(qtd. in Clark 1019). Sex has become so huge in television that in a normal week, teen may see about 57 sexual acts on afternoon TV, during prime time, the normal maturely rated TV movie can contain 14-21 intimate sexual acts (Clark 1024).Society’s youth is bound to come into contact with these programs.

Sex also affects children. The scenes of sexuality they see on television can cause them to emulate what they see. Young people are more sexually knowledgeable because of their access to television. They are now open to asking more sexually explicit questions on the details of sex (Jain 84). Society’s youth is also starting to date younger:

According to Arun, a Class XI student

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