To a certain degree, the actions of individuals have an effect on their environment. However, our surroundings more dramatically influence our everyday experiences and shape our personalities. Two of the most popular cultural mediums, film and television, extend to mass audiences who eagerly absorb all the messages they have to offer, especially the appealing topics of social taboo and political controversy. John Fiske and Adorno examine both the obvious and subtle effects of visual media, providing some similar and other contrasting theories on its portrayal of reality. Fiske argues a theory that more accurately relates to modern times. Fiske depicts a visual media defined by content deliberately chosen by conscious directors that is manipulated into the message they wish the public to receive. After comparing viewpoints, one might appreciate the amusing coincidence of today's most popular form of American television: Reality Television.
[...] Even though the content (the setting, people, and situations) is purely reality, the form of the show falls just short of utter fiction. The prominence of content vs. form in relation to film and TV's effects on audiences is where Fiske and Adorno disagree. Fiske argues that content is important but, is the form that produces the point of view from which we look at them [the agenda that constitutes the world]” (Fiske 23). Contrastingly, “Adorno's main focus is the content of the drama. [...]
[...] Both Fiske and Adorno disagree that our reality is reflected back to us through the mirror of television and explain that the product is more a distorted reflection. Adorno warns that television is not a reproduction of reality but actually far from it. When watching a Reality Television program, we must remember that film and TV are art forms and, as he accurately points out, “Film is a manufactured commodity. Its reproduction of the recognizable surfaces of the world represents the purposeful and skillful construction of calculated and predetermined effects upon the psyches of the mass consumer” Calling the theory pseudo-realism, he tells that film and TV produce a message that barely represents our true every day experiences. [...]
[...] However, in the case of the Columbine Massacre, those boys tragically were submissive, in a most extreme form, to the effects of their film and TV exposure. One cannot blame tragedy on the content of visual arts. Adorno states that ‘form' of television dramas manifests the standardization, repetitiveness and self-sameness that are characteristic of all products of the culture industry. As such, television tends to produce ‘automatized' responses in its audiences and weakens the power of the individual to resist” (Witkin 6). [...]
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