Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cultivation Theory

The cultivation theory states that the media can cultivate the ways in which audiences perceive reality.  According Gerbner and Gross, the founders of the Cultivation theory, television has a different kind of power to cultivate audiences than other mass media forms.  Viewers are sucked into “reality” television because they are told the events are genuine, when they are actually completely scripted.  Certain stereotypes are propagated through television, and the audience publicly accepts these stereotypes.  In our case study, we examined three prominent stereotypes: ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.  We used the example of the reality television show, Jersey Shore, to apply the Cultivation Theory because viewers generalize that all Italian-Americans have similar behaviors, when in fact, the behaviors portrayed by the characters are not real.  For gender, we used the example that the general public assumes all nurses are female.  On television, it is rare to see a male portray the occupation of a nurse, but when they are, the character is used as a tool for humor by being questioned about their choice in career, masculinity, and sexuality.  In both television and film, there has been an increasing number of characters that take on the role of a gay, lesbian, or bi-sexual character.  Scientists Sarah Gomillion and Traci Guiliano stated, “Media experiences contribute to individual’s development of their sense of self.”  In a nutshell, the things that both teenagers and young adults see on television can affect how they communicate with others and how they choose friends.  It can influence what they label as “cool” and what does and does not deserve ridicule. In conclusion, people are lured toward their views and opinions of cultures and individuals by the stereotypes perpetuated by television.  Cultivation is not something that can be avoided, as almost every U.S. household dominantly consumes media through television. 

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