We love to be entertained with movies, music, books, magazines, video games, the Internet and TV shows.
The various media productions have become the vehicles for much of today's marketing. Using the media to create and sell the cool pop culture is a multi-billion dollar industry, making teenagers the hottest consumer demographic in America (Frontline: "The Merchants of Cool").
Here's the problem: The ultimate goal of today's media is not to provide good entertainment but to influence what we value and how we spend our money. The byproduct of this process is diluted values not only among the youth but also older generations. Consider two areas of life over the past three or four decades to see a shift away from the traditional, more Bible-based beliefs that once guided our society's morals.
1. Sex. Today many view premarital sex as the normal way relationships develop—"friends with benefits"—and view homosexuality as "diversifying" and not morally wrong. Sex is employed virtually everywhere in advertising.
In the '90s MTV created the Midriff character to hook the teenage girl consumer. This highly sexualized Midriff persona was prematurely adult, consumed by appearance and her "thing" was sex. She was used extensively in entertainment to drive up ratings and to sell movie tickets and products. Needless to say, Midriff portrayed the opposite of God's ideal of virginal purity and the sanctity of sex within marriage.
2. Men. Feminism and the subtle idea that women are typically superior to men has come to permeate our society, resulting in the devaluation of the role of men. Consider Midriff's male counterpart, the Mook character, which was pitched to the teenage male consumer. The boorish-behaving Mook was an in-your-face, crude, angry and clueless character.
Although introduced by MTV, this successful marketing character type is now also found throughout media productions, replacing the concept of the masculine, family-oriented, male role model that helped young men grow up to be the reliable, hard-working, loving leaders God intended.
Numerous shifted beliefs and standards are being dragged down in the marketing process. However, there are some manipulative media techniques that we can quickly beware of to guard our minds and faith while selecting good entertainment:
- Deceptive reasoning. Many lyrics and storylines entice audiences to root for evil (like a "good" thief). This tactic plays on the emotions to lead us to wrong conclusions—for instance, "if it feels right and you truly love someone, sex outside of marriage is okay."
- Changing definitions. As with the Midriff and the Mook characters, media conglomerates actively seek to redefine what's "cool" in order to sell more stuff. Redefining institutions like marriage and family makes ideas and behaviors like premarital sex or homosexuality seem less wrong and ultimately "acceptable."
- The bandwagon effect. This is a common and dangerous argument implying that if others do or have certain things, then you should too. Many films, songs and shows convey clear enough messages: get drunk, do drugs, be promiscuous, go shoplifting, be violent—because "everybody does it!" Wrong.
For added insight about media and entertainment, read, "Dethroning the Media Gods."
As vertical thinkers, our media mission is to b e vigilant and analyze everything that we allow into our hearts and minds. Let God guide your thinking and entertainment selections. Recapture and stick with the true values of life. VT