Influence of Entertainment Media Paper
Michelle Delamotte
December 21, 2015
Patricia (Mary) Morriss

Visual media has completely changed our American culture for the better and worse. Our values seem to be going down the drain, and may branch down further than that. TV started this visual media, and now it is becoming difficult instilling values in our children, appropriate ones at that. After TV came movies, music videos, games, reality TV, and YouTube.
American culture and the values that are held by society have been shaped by visual entertainment media in a few ways. As America does not have a royal family, many Americans are fascinated with visual entertainment celebrities. Americans not only focus on what these celebrities do while in a movie or television show, but also what they do in their own lives creating reality television shows that are like TMZ that follow the every moment of celebrities or shows that follow particular individuals, like Keeping up with the Kardashians. Visual entertainment media can have an immense influence what people drink, eat, buy and wear through advertisements, celebrity endorsements and product placements. American values have also been changed by the interrelationship between culture and visual entertainment media. For instance, many Americans no longer sit around the dinner table to have a family meal, but sit in front of the television while eating changing the family dynamic from one with communication to another focused on what programming is being shown. It can be said that negative behaviors are encouraged through many television and films, such as promiscuity, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, rampant consumerism and violence.
As with any social influence, there is debate as to whether visual entertainment media is positive or negative. It really does seem to be very mixed between the two as there are plenty of shows that seem to be a more negative influence on American society, such as Jersey Shore, Bad Girls Club, and even the local news. A person turning on their local news at the end of the day will probably be more likely to see news stories that are focused on more negative things in the news, such as political scandals, medical threats, crime and other violent acts with a few more positive stories here and there. Some believe that learning about violent acts, such as school shootings or the movie theater shooting, in explicit details can act as an influence on other mentally unstable individuals that are looking to copycat these events. There are positive influences that can be seen in the visual entertainment media, as well. For instance, celebrities are able to get attention to very important causes and charities that they are a part of and bring about public awareness. Also, there are plenty of shows and films that work as a teaching tool, such as documentaries about hunger or Sesame Street. Sesame Street and other children shows not only help to teach children about the alphabet or numbers, but can also help them learn how to interact well with others in a social situation or how to deal with their feelings.
In conclusion, visual media can not only influence social behavior and attitudes, but it will also reflect social behavior and attitudes. It could be said that outrageous television shows, such as Temptation Island and Big Brother are reflecting the social behavior and attitudes that Americans want to see on television as they could only remain on the air if there are those people that tune in to watch them. Visual entertainment media not only can act as an influence by providing a window into the lives of the rich and famous to be emulated by the general public, but also a mirror that reflects the culture of the general public back at them.