Article Reviews

Role of mass media as cultures dominant story tellers Essay

Posted on

We human beings come from a long line of storytellers. It is a fact that what we understand about the world, especially the society we lived comes from storytelling. The stories came in all different sizes and shapes. Some recounted the news of the day with a bit of drama, humor or exaggeration for spice. Some were for entertainment, while still others were intended for a moral lesson. Some were forgotten in minutes while others survived for thousands of years. In Malaysia, such example can be seen in Malay traditional culture such as ‘Wayang Kulit’, ‘Kuda Kepang’, and some story of the myth about the Malay which been known as ‘Hikayat’. One of the wonderful things about stories is that they have meaning for everyone, both children and adults, who hears or reads them, no matter what his or her age.

Storytelling has a great impact on how the culture of a society is being developed and shaped. During the day, the medium of the storytelling are books, old folk’s bedtime story, artifact, dance, and others. Some of the traditional culture seems to be lost in time and new culture keeps coming in as the world now has been globalized. Globalization does not only make economy and education goes beyond the border, but also influences the adaptation of new culture into a different society. Newspaper, radio, television, movie, and Internet are among those media tools that are being used as medium to influence the people to accept the concept of globalization.

Globalization throws open new windows of understanding and enables our stories to cross geographical and cultural boundaries. Storytelling does have powerful impact on human understanding and experience. However, some of the stories do not able to make the people understand the message since it is not something to be witnessed. The learning process of human is based from what they see, heard, smell, taste, touch (5 senses), and how they respond. The role of technology helps us to see clearly what message that
the sender (storyteller) tries to communicate to us.

Before the media comes in, newspaper is a dominant source of information for the people. Most newspapers are aimed at a broad spectrum of readers, usually geographically defined, some focus on groups of readers defined more by their interests than their location. General newspapers cover all topics, with different emphasis. While at least mentioning all topics, some might have good coverage of international events of importance; others might concentrate more on national or local entertainment or sports. Since the newspaper is one of the dominant source of information, the newspaper is among the most powerful modern storytelling tools due to the fact that the newspaper were once the most important medium for the information.

Basically, the newspaper becomes the culture’s dominant story tellers because the newspaper reporting what is happening around. In a smaller scope, a regional newspaper reporting what is happening in a certain region, this goes the same to the national newspaper. Such information includes the trends of the society, the problems faced by the community, and the mission of the nation (leader). As we know, those who control the newspaper are those who control the information and do have the power to influence the community. Since the people rely on the information from the newspaper, they have to follow the trend of the society. This fits the term ‘bandwagon’, where one’s must follow the others to be in the group and the role of the newspaper is to monitor and regulate the society. For example, in Malaysia the Utusan newspaper reporting about the problems faced by the nation, and in most occasions about the Malay community. By reporting this kind of information, the sender of the message actually wants to inform and influence the Malay community to respond and support the Malay’s leader. Other example can be seen during Adolf Hitler’s leadership of Germany (1933–1945), when the National Socialist use newspaper to influence the German people for acquiring and maintaining power, and for the implementation of their policies, including the pursuit of total war and the extermination of millions of people in the Holocaust.

Next, the advertising segment in the newspaper also a part of the culture’s
dominant story teller as it promoting of the so called the best product for the time. Generally, the advertisement in the newspaper use powerful words and images to influence the readers to consume the product of to respond the message. For example, an advertisement in the newspaper shows an advertisement for supplement product for ideal body shape uses a phrase such as “Shame of looking fat? Why not get slimmed?”, and with the image of a personality with nice looking face and body shape. How does this kind of advertisement influence the culture of the society? First, the phrases itself will create a negative the image of those who are overweight, so that they will react and consume the product. Secondly, the advertisement portrays the image of a nice looking personality as the desired by most people. Therefore, this kind of advertisement does give an impact on the norms of the society to which before personal appearance is not a big issue, but now becomes very important. ROLE OF DIGITAL MEDIA

Digital media such as movie and TV drama give us the clear image of what happened in the past, present and maybe the future. By reading the books or just listened to mouth to mouth story telling might cause us to wonder how things happened, how serious the situation, and sometimes we even lost the feeling and the emotion of the story that was being told by our forefather. As being discussed before, the experience of only one sense by a simple reading and listening may not bet powerful enough to influence the changes of the behavior. The digital media such as motion picture, movie and drama offers the real experience of both the ability to hear and watch therefore creating the actual feeling and emotion towards the scene. For example, in the scene of man being stabbed we may watch the blood flows and the scream of the man in pain. This is totally different from the experience of looking into the still picture in the newspaper.

Some movies functions to tell us about the history and give as clear image to understand how the things happened in the past. For example in Malaysia, Embun is a movie to tell the society how the Japan colonized the Malaya once upon a time, how people are suffering, how cruel is the colonial, and how the society against the colonial. This kind of movie triggers our emotion and builds our sensitivity towards nationalism. There are movies which try
to build the understanding about the history of a society. This is what meant by the media as the culture’s dominant story tellers, where the media is effectively able to build the understanding and create a perception towards something. However, there are also movies that try to instill a new culture into a different society.

Globalization has influence the movie industry to goes beyond the border. Discussing in a smaller scope of a society especially the Malay, the Malaysian no longer only watches Malay’s movie and drama only. Movies especially the Hollywood is now a preference to the society since the quality is much better, and the storyline is much interesting. Additionally, those movies have a great influence in changing the culture of the Malays society. For example, in the those movie and even television program tell the people how they should behave, how they should react, how they should wear , and other sorts of things. For instance, the television programs portray men with nice looking and with muscle body are those who are being after by the women and same goes to women with sexy body, this also includes the fashion trend, and fancy lifestyle. This can be seen through certain TV program such as MTV My Super Sweet 16, where teenage girls aged 16 celebrating their 16 birthday. In this program, it shows the girls celebrating their birthday by organizing a birthday party or prom night, and gets their birthday present of what they ever wish. However, in this TV program shows some negative attitude of the girls such as being rude to the parents by being forceful and in some occasion immoral activity such as uncontrolled birthday party. I did watch an episode of this program where the parents bought a car for their teenage girl. But the girl didn’t like the car, and that’s not the car she ever wanted. And then the girl starts to curse her parents of not being understanding. Later her parents had to listen to her and buy a new car for her. This kind of TV program does influence the audience to behave negatively against the norms culture. For example, in the Malay society the children must obey to their parents and not arguing what the parents did for them since the parent always do the best for their kids. In the Malay culture, fulfilling the wants of the children of being materialistic is not consider as fulfilling the needs and not a form of being a successful parents. But today’s culture, we can see
that the parent must fulfill the wants of their children to be successful parents in the eye of the children. For this reason, we can see that some cases of children run away from home and follow others because the parent fails to fulfill their wants. In some cases, we also may witness teenager cursing their parent in the public for fulfilling what they want.

As being discussed before, the mass media has been a very powerful culture’s dominant story tellers. The message by the mass media maybe telling the truth fact of something, while some may exploit the real fact for some purposes such as to create a propaganda or to build a new perception towards certain issues. For instance, there was a time when the United States uses the mass media to influence the American society to accept the ‘black’ people as the part of the society. At first, the American society rejects the African because the different of the skin color, but later they accept them into the society. Other example can be seen through movies that portray the United States a country which always win the war and the heroic of the U.S army as the savior during the time of conflict. This creates the image of United States as a strong military country in the eyes of the audience, including outside the country itself. This shows that the mass media successfully influence their audience to perceive things differently or accept a new culture since the media tells so.

Next, we can see the negative part of the mass media in exploiting the image of others. Such example can be seen through Hollywood movies that showing the Muslims as the terrorist and ruthless people. Islam is a peaceful religion but yet they manage to portray the Muslim differently from what they actually are. Meanwhile, the newspaper also successfully exploiting the image if Islam as terrorist by exaggerating in the news reporting. For example, they use the term ‘Jihadist’ which refers to the suicide bomber of Islam. This example does change the present acceptance of Islam globally. Islam once was seen as a peaceful religion, but now other culture sees Islam as a terror. CONCLUSION

The role of other mass media tools such as radio and Internet are not much
different from newspaper and digital media. These mass media tools have the same purposes which are to inform, educate, entertain, surveillance, and to regulate its targeted audience and the only differences is that the form and the use in different time and space. It is a fact that due to globalization, the preservation of owns culture may not be the same as before. However, the mass media may be a successful tool to be a culture’s dominant story teller. The only argument is that how the sender of the message uses the media to influence its audience and what is the effect of the message on its own society and also on others.