Morality in the Media and Misrepresentations

The chapter titled Molded by the Movies found in Our Movie Made Children by Henry James Forman begins with a case study performed by a man named Professor Blumer who made the bold claim that 77 million people went to the movie theater every week and 28 million of those were minors.[1] Although this is just one chapter from the book, Prof. Blumer is not identified or given any credibility, so honestly, who is this man and how accurate is he? Also, his numbers are neither proven in endnotes nor does he explain how he got them, so I had a difficult time taking anything he said seriously. Blumer’s research also includes interviews with young people asking certain questions about movies and their portrayal.

Through his research, Blumer found that when children were asked to draw pictures of actions scenes or write a story, they came out to be movie themed and similar to that of a motion picture. His conclusion here is that children’s minds are consumed in movies and they are exposed to them so much and they make such an impact on them, that when asked to be creative or think independently, they only express what was seen in a motion picture.  My question here is that isn’t that inevitable, first of all, people copy what they see, that comes without saying. Secondly, there is basically only one type of story, from the basics, the hero’s adventure, where authors add their own spin on it, but all stories basically follow the same pattern. It is no wonder that kids have this idea in their heads of a movie plot because they are all basically the same thing and follow the same pattern.

Blumer also explores the inaccuracy presented in movies that wrongly depict racial groups. When people see these stereotypes expressed on screen, they may begin to believe them, especially those children who cannot depict fantasy and reality when watching movies, simply because their brain has not developed that ability yet. Children may see a movie that is racist towards Hispanics or Asians and then incorporate that into their lives, because they cannot identify the misrepresentation and over exaggeration of such character. This made me think about the propaganda posters in World War II that depicted the Germans and Japanese negatively to inflict fear in Americans. The first image from this site exaggerates a Japanese soldier and distorts his facial features to look monkey-like and creepy. Not only do movies unjustly define racial stereotypes, they inaccurately depict love, sex, the ideal lifestyle, etc. and makes the viewers want to experience these because they seem to be perfect.

The ending paragraph of chapter 10 I believe sums up the argument of what the chapter is trying to convey and what people, movie producers and parents, need to think about. And that is this: Adults can choose what they see and are able to most likely distinguish real from fake. Children on the other hand, can be exposed to so many movies that can be harmful to their mental development and thinking/reasoning that there needs to be some action to address this issue. The last sentence reads children “deserve to be imbued with the best ideals that civilization affords”[2] because of their pure minds that can be distorted by the movies they watch. Morality in the media is still an issue prevalent today and because of the so many media outlets, TV, internet, social media, etc. children are getting even more opportunities to be exposed to incorrect information and are not able to distinguish the falsehood in it.

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[1] Henry James Forman, “Molded by the Movies,” Our Movie Made Children, (New York:The MacMillian Company, 1935).

[2] Henry James Forman, “Molded by the Movies,” Our Movie Made Children, 178.

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One thought on “Morality in the Media and Misrepresentations

  1. Jen I think you nailed this post. I really liked what you said about how movies sensationalize everyday life and make people believe things that they normally would not. I think that this reading related really well to the Comstock piece because both tend to believe that the influence that media has on the general public especially children and youths. I do believe however that Forman makes one of the same mistakes made by Comstock; he fails to consider the power of movies to instill positive values in people, believing that the viewing of movies by the youth of America would only lead to corruption. While I agree with the idea that there can be extremely negative consequences when children and youths are unable to distinguish reality from fantasy I think it is important to consider that maybe they could be used to instill positive values as well. Another thing that I really liked about your post was your comparison of movies to the propaganda posters of WWII. I think that this does a lot to prove Forman’s point that people, not just children, are easily influenced by media. These propaganda pictures, especially the one that you included prove just how easy it was, and still is, to make people think what you want through the use of the media. You really illustrated the power of the media to affect the lives of people very well, nicely done!

    Like

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