What television shows do you watch when you sit home to relax in the evening? Do you watch sports? Do you have a favorite prime-time drama that draws your attention? Is it because of the plot or the characters? Are you more prone to see an action movie or a chick flick? We all find shows that we can identify with, or programs that give us something to strive for in life. They provide us with a way to escape our lives and be swept into the lives of others, whether it is for an hour or a few hours. If we’re lucky enough we can find a few characters and shows that draw our attention.
Why do we get so drawn into movies? Why do people love watching the same soap operas for decades? It is mostly because we love the escape from our own lives, but it’s also because we get to know certain characters so well over the years that we all feel like we know them. It’s why reality shows about celebrities and the celebrity newspapers that give further insight into their daily lives are so popular to millions of people. Whether we agree or disagree with the constant focus on celebrities, it happens because fans are watching and somewhat obsessed with their lives.
Television has changed over the years, from shows in black and white on stations that ended after the nightly news to a 24/7 industry raking in billions of dollars. Most stations keep running shows all night long, and if we can’t find our favorites on television, we can certainly get connected to them on the Internet through YouTube and other sites.
Adults and children are exposed to so much more than they ever have been before, which can be both positive and negative. The positive aspect is that children are more exposed to a diverse world if they choose to search for it. However, the negative side is that if the characters they see in movies, newspapers, and television shows only play to stereotypes, the viewers are being sent the wrong message. They are being exposed to situations that may not be true.
In her study “Straight Allies: Supportive Attitudes Toward Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals in a College Sample,” Rebecca L. Stotzer, a professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Hawai’i, wrote, “Along with personal encounters in their social lives, [college students] also utilized exposure from mass culture in forming their attitudes [about gay men and women]…”
How often have you seen a gay character save the planet in a serious action movie? I would venture to guess that “never” is the answer. More movies and television shows are offering gay characters, like Glee and Modern Family.
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