Monday, May 12, 2014

Media and its Influence: An Ongoing Theory

Hey y'all.  So I just got done watching the season finale of the My Little Pony Show.  I have a sort of perverse desire to watch it, mainly to see why the thing somehow has a ton of fans while not really being all that much better than other cartoon fare, and not as good in some cases.  I suppose I could nitpick it, and chances are I will, but for now I'll just say that it was a collection of meh plotting, Dragonball Z visuals (that's good or bad depending on how much you like DBZ), a half-horrid moral, and some intriguing implications for later seasons of MLP.  Of course, they mostly screwed up whatever interesting implications they created by making Twilight a princes by the way they meh'ed through season four, so this season finale is probably going to come to nothing as well.

In other words, have fun with your show, brony boys.

My interest in this show has been a part of a larger idea I'm stewing around with in my head.  Thing is, the obsession that MLP's fans have is very comparable to Star Trek's fandom.  To Trek's credit, it's actually marketed to the adults that watch it.  To MLP's credit, the fans don't seem to be fooled into thinking the future will one day be what is on their show.  To neither of their credits, they both seem obsessed with tricking the emotionally weak into molding exactly into their singular-culture, friendship is everything newthink.

I say all that to say this: people don't believe that media has an affect on them, but my observations seem to conclude otherwise.  Sure, you can call bronies and Trekkies losers, but recall a story once I told of a couple of guys who came to buy a violent video game at my used bookstore.  They proclaimed that everyone should be shooting people.  While they were most certainly joking, they were most certainly creepy.  It's hard to say violent games have no effect on anyone when you see two prime examples of violence in culture.

It's weird.  There are those who claim modern culture is too violent, but then you point a finger at video games and they accuse you of being a forty year old screaming prude mother (judgementalism is a weapon, by the by).  They roll their eyes and act as though you're a moron for suggesting that perhaps the world at large isn't exactly how they see it, and say that since Mario doesn't cause people to jump on mushrooms and smash blocks, then surely Grand Theft Auto can't cause someone to want to shoot others.  What they seem to miss is that there's subtlety in influence, and it's not always about the obvious.

So my basic hypothesies are as follows:
- Everyone is potentially open to being led as though on a leash by a show, book series, or musical artist.
- There are certain personalities that exist in every culture who are especially vulnerable to being influenced by media.

I don't really have evidence for these, other than some anecdotal/personal issue stuff.  I mean to make this an area where I continually learn more through my life and make some philosophic comments when I'm older. Why not?

So I want to do some classifications.  INTPs are good at that.  Huh, I need to get into Myers-Briggs for this. In any case, there are three levels of media.  There's the one-input, which is books and music.  Books are one input because you're just using your eyes to receive information.  Music, because it's just your ears. People can underestimate books, as they seem old fashioned, but music is generally regarded as very influential.  Or at least treated that way.

Two-input media is movies and television.  This involves the use of both eyes and ears.  Naturally, video games are three-input, as they use eyes, ears, and hands (or the whole body depending on the game, but we're just going to say hands for simplicity).

Also, we need to get some influence levels.  There's commercial, physical, obsessive, political, and ego-driven influence.  Possibly more, but that's enough until more levels make themselves obvious.  Commercial influence is as defined as, well, marketing.  I like Eowyn, so I bought the Eowyn sword when the Lord of the Rings movies came out.

Physical influence can be confusing, and it's definitely an area where more study will be needed.  I mention it based on a weird experience.  I walk a lot, and I listen to my Ipod when walking.  I noticed that unless I was in a rush to get somewhere, I generally walked to the pace of the song playing, whether it was fast or slow.

Obsessive influence is essentially just spending your time thinking about a franchise, band, or series rather than other things.  Political influence is exposing the audience to certain concepts so often that the audience gets used to them, even without necessarily agreeing.  Ego-driven influence means trying to appeal to people based on making them feel better or more intelligent than the "ordinary masses" and give them a reason to believe they are superior.

Okay, so this is my base.  I'm not entirely sure where to go from here, but at least I have some labels I can stick to stuff in the effort to figure things out.

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