In contemporary American society, media as a whole plays a part in most people’s day to day life. For some people media plays a bigger role in their life than for others. Looking at how our society has developed, it is almost impossible to avoid media altogether. Televisions are all over the place, music goes with us when we travel.
Even for those individuals who don’t watch television, actively listen to music, play videogames, or get on the Internet, it is still nigh impossible to go through their lives without having some exposure to media. There are advertisements plastered on billboards, public transportation, and on buildings. For the person who doesn’t willingly listen to things that the music industry has created they are still subjected to this music when they go grocery shopping, eat at a restaurant, and in some cases, while they wait at the doctor’s office. Places such as the doctor’s office (dentist offices, psychologist practices, etc.) are often laden with magazines.
With all of the exposure that people in contemporary American society receive almost daily, it is illogical to believe that this media does not have some effect on these individuals, and the society at large. Media being as prevalent as it is in American culture it is important to stop and think about what all of this media exposure is doing to society. Media criticism finds its place in society doing just that; looking at how media and society affect each other.
Sociologists, psychologists and doctors all look at how an individual’s mind and body are affected by the different things that surround them in their lives both at the personal and societal levels. Media critics also make it their purpose to look at what people are exposed to affects them and the culture of the nation as well. These critics focus on what the media that a person is surrounded by affected them.
This includes all of the television, video games, music, movies, and any other form of media that is available in the society. They look at what possible positive and negative consequences may occur in individuals and the whole community because of the media’s existence and availability. Media critics question how people might have been different if they were not exposed to the content of media. Does violence in media make someone less empathetic? Does seeing an excess of sex in media make it more likely for people to be more promiscuous then if they were never exposed to that content? How has educational programming actually help improve some part of society?
These are just a few questions that media critics might research. Their importance in society is to think about how the very thing that we are almost always plugged into, even when we may not notice, is affecting us? They ask the questions that consumers probably never think about.
Media critics also serve as a liaison between society and media in the opposite direction as well. The critics that look at how media affects society can also look at how society is affecting media. They research how what is currently happening in the society is affecting how people think about media and how they might potentially be morphing what the media industry produces.
This can help those who work in the media to know what type of material to create and distribute into the society. Companies want to know what people will buy and respond positively to. They want to make their customers happy so that these individuals will put more of their money into the products that the company releases.
The criticism that media critics propose is there for both the consumers and those who work in the media. It act as a two-way communication between these two groups. Media critics look into how to keep society content with the media that they are exposed to, as well as to help the companies prosper by these companies knowing what society wants at that moment. Media criticism can be that neutral, or at the very least informed, voice in the question of does the society create the media or does the media create the society.