SOCA01H3 Lecture Notes - Benjamin Demott, Soup Kitchen, Film Studio

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Published on 4 Dec 2011
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Mapping # 38 - Media Magic: Making Class Invisible
- Mass media arguably most influential in modeling public consciousness
- Unlike other socializing institution - ownership & control of mass media are highly concentrated
o E.g. t 23 cooperation owns more than ½ daily newspaper, magniz, movie studio, radio &
TV in US
o # of media companies shrinking while control of industry is expanding
- Media key role in defining our cultural taste, helping locate ourselves in history, establishing
national identity, ascertain range of national & social possibilities
- US most stratified in industrialized world
- Class distinction operates every aspect of our lives determine nature of our work, quality of
schooling, health & safety of our loved ones
o But have illusion of living in egalitarian society by media hiding gross inequities from
public view
When exposed come up w/ excuses by blaming the victims for their own plight
About the Poor
- News media meager coverage of poor people & poverty coverage they provide is distorted &
misleading
The Poor Do Not Exist
- Most part media ignores poor
- Rate of poverty is increasing 2 as fast as population growth in US
- When media does turn its attention to poor often a series of contradictory messages &
portrayals
The Poor Are Faceless
- Each year Census report news on poverty & its results duly reported in media this coverage
emphasizes annual fluctuations ( showing how the numbers differ from previous years) &
ongoing about the validity of the numbers ( some argue number should be lower, most thought
number should be higher)
- This desensitizes us to poor by reducing poverty to a number & ignores human tragedy of
poverty
o Poor becomes stats than people
The Poor Are Undeserving
- Media provide us w/ sensational stories about welfare cheats, drug addicts, greedy panhandlers
( almost always urban & black)
o Compares these images & emotions evoked by them w/ media’s treatment of middle
class ( usually white) “tax evaders”, celebrities who have a chemical dependency or
wealthy business people who use unscrupulous means to make profit
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o While these are consider deviations from norm & impropriety poor’s behavior is
considered repugnant indicative of the poor in general & worthy of our indignation &
resentment
The Poor Are an Eyesore
- Media does cover poor often presented via the eyes of the middle class focusing of middle
class opposition to the poor than plight of the poor
o E.g. poor are an inconveniences & an irritation
The Poor have only themselves to Blame
- Media tell us that poor live in personal & cultural cycle of poverty that hopelessly imprisons
them
- Center on black urban population & focus on the perceived personality & cultural traits of doom
the poor
o E.g. women have attitude leads to promiscuity which leads to single motherhood &
men posses immediate gratification that leads to drug abuse, unquenchable greed that
leads pursuit of fast money
- These images are sexist, racist & classist Census revel most poor are white not black or
Hispanic , that they live in rural or suburban areas not urban center , holding jobs at least part of
the year
- BUT in understanding & sympathetic tone were told that the poor have inflicted poverty on
themselves
The Poor are down on their Luck
- Christmas season news media sometimes provide us w. accounts of poor individuals or
families (usually white) who are down on their luck
o Linked to stories about soup kitchen, or other charitable activities & sometimes call for
charitable contribution
o “Yule time” stories are much about the Affluent as they are about the poor
represent affluent in our society as kind, understanding, giving people we NOT
- These are temporary situation that will improve w/ time & luck
- w/ each variation media inform us about what poverty is not ( i.e. systematic & American US) by
informing us what it is
- media tell us poverty is either:
o aberration of American way of life (e.g. temporary situation or number -it doesn’t
exist)
o end product of poor themselves (are nuisance, don’t deserve better, have bought
predicaments upon themselves) William Rayan called “blaming the victims”
blunt hostile or cloaked sympathy the message is that there is something
fundamentally wrong w/ victims hormones, psychological makeup, family
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