Various debates exist on the influence of visual media on American culture and values. According to Thompson (1990), various ideologies exist on how the visual entertainment has shaped the modern culture. Studies on the interrelationship between visual entertainment media and American culture show that visual entertainment media influences American culture and values in various ways. One of the influences of visual entertainment media is on dressing and fashion. According to Kellner (1995), many Americans, especially the youths, want to identify themselves with many celebrities who appear in the media by imitating their way of dressing. A good example is the 17th century fashion, known as chic. It was characterized with stunning and stylish clothing and credited to Louis XIV. Further, it became popular in America. Nowadays, most of the emerging fashion trends are settled by celebrities and then embraced by other common Americans.
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As McChesney explains (2000), visual entertainment media has great influence on the Americans’ interest in political parties and particular politicians. Probably this is because people tend to follow political interests of major media celebrities. A good recent example is the influence of major celebrity Oprah Winfrey on the American presidential elections of 2008. It is argued that Oprah’s endorsement for Barack Obama influenced many Americans who voted for him as the American President. Apart from fashion and political interests, visual entertainment media is also believed to have great influence on American people’s beliefs, way of life, and their social behaviors. According to Oak (2012), the negative effects of visual entertainment media outweigh the positive ones. Negative influences of media include unhealthy lifestyles through imitating the body images of the models that appear on the screen, violence through films, and drug abuse through music such as hard rock among others.
In conclusion, visual entertainment media has had great influence on people’s social behavior and attitudes. Apart from influence on political interests and dressing codes, many TV films and videos are based on violent themes. Therefore, they encourage social behaviors, such as assertiveness, desensitization to violence, nervousness, and despair, especially among children and youths. Constant disclosure to violent media creates an attitude that violence is the most suitable problem-solving tool. When children and youths perceive threatening themes in visual media, they perceive that the world is an evil place. Recent research also indicates that people have embraced sexual-active behaviors because of the influence of visual media. Many TV series present themes based on sexual behaviors thereby encouraging a positive attitude towards sex, especially among youths, and this explains the increasing rate of teenage pregnancies and early marriages.
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