Is Media changing the understandings of Morality?

In the book Our Movie Made Children, Henry Forman about how morality is being lost and clouded through the use of media especially films in chapter 5: Molded by the Movies. Forman views films as being a tool for shaping the youth in a damaging way. For example, that child would is exposed to a movie with violence and nudity is not going to understand that this behavior is not okay to display, and recreate in public. Forman uses a wealth of data the had been collected by social scientists that really explain how many people are being molded by the films themselves. “77,000,000 people that constitute the weekly movie audience…28,000,00 pare minors.” [1] In general many people were going to the movies, but with the number of 23,000,000 minors going to the movies weekly shows you there are many kids going to the movies, not being regulated what they are being exposed to.

Forman also points out how the excessive films watching was effecting the creative minds of young children. “When such children were asked to write stories or essays, what usually came to light were movie themes–Characters, situations, plots, conceptions made familiar by the movies.” [2] This is not allowing children to be able to think of something original and creative to write on their own, they are simply just using the same themes or characterization as something they saw in a movie and really liked. Film and media were also changing the way people had looked at race. In Forman’s book he describes what an African American high-schooler said about Chinese men, “I think all chinamen are crooks because I have seen a picture where the Chinaman almost burned a lady to death, try to make her tell a secret. This picture and similar ones have made me afraid of Chinamen.” [3] The media in this case is not helping people see that not all people are the same. Yes, you can have one bad person who happened to be Chinese but do you think that all chinese men are bad like that one man?  Forma is arguing that yes, many kids started to view the world like this. They based their opinions on things that were not real and could not tell the difference between fact and fiction.

With more and more minors going to see films two and three times a week the more they are exposed too. “When I go to see a modern picture like ‘Our Dancing Daughters,’ writes one high-school miss of sixteen, I am thrilled. These modern pictures give me a feeling to their intimate ways.” [4] These kids are watching movies that are more and more inappropriate for them without having thier parents knowing what the movie contains in substance. With girls watching the movie ‘Out Dancing Daughter’ the more they will want to reenact scenes and concepts from the movie. This is more apparent in violent action films and video games. Boys now are playing video games rated M for mature even though they are 13 and 14 years old. The game of Call of Duty is a game about shooting people, from what I gather that is it. With these games of this nature and more and more boys playing it the more they are interested in playing gun games outside of the video game world with their friends.

Kids nowadays who can be very impressionable and naive the media industry is growing and is clouding kids views of morality. They are not seeing the difference from fact or fiction. They are believing everything they see and hear. The more they look up into the tv when their parents are watching the news and hear a story about a man killing his wife and kids at night from playing guns with their friends because that’s what they do in their video games. Their judgment is getting reinforced through the media it is just getting tarnished.


[1]   Henry Forman, Our Movie Made Children, (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1935), 159.

[2] Henry Forman, Our Movie Made Children, 160.

[3]  Henry Forman, Our Movie Made Children, 161-2.

[4] Henry Forman, Our Movie Made Children, 164.




2 thoughts on “Is Media changing the understandings of Morality?

  1. Pcooney1,
    First off, this is a really awesome post and you raise some very interesting points about how media impacts individual’s judgement and creative skills. I particularly liked then you mentioned how films were impacting the creative thinking process of children and causing them to imagine within the confines of what they had viewed in films. I think that your point here is accurate; however I cannot help but think that this is true of everything in life. It is extremely difficult to imagine something from nothing, or in other words to come up with an idea that is not influenced in some way from past experiences or our own knowledge. In this way, is it completely fair to blame films for this phenomenon when it is perhaps a natural part of human thinking? In example, I am sure that prior to films, people’s thoughts or imaginations of far off lands or people were molded by books they had read or stories they had heard. With that being said, I do agree with your larger point that this power can be used for ill (as was the case of violent movies when exposed to children), but I would argue that the same effect could be seen if children were to read violent books or hear violent stories. Anyway, just a thought! Great post!


  2. Great post! Also the comment above from Kieran is great. I would have never thought of that without reading this post. However, I might disagree slightly but also could be wrong but doesn’t imagination supersede media? I feel like imagination is innate rather than a learned thing. I agree completely that it can get shaped by things we consume in the media, but I don’t think it can completely be proven or or disproved.


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