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The effect of digital broadcasting on viewing patterns popular culture and audience identity

Identify ways in which American culture is reflected on television.

Racial minorities on TV

Identify ways in which television affects the development of American culture. Since its inception as an integral part of American life in the 1950s, television has both reflected and nurtured cultural mores and values. But the relationship between social attitudes and television is reciprocal; broadcasters have often demonstrated their power to influence viewers, either consciously through slanted political commentary, or subtly, by portraying controversial relationships such as single parenthood, same-sex marriages, or interracial couplings as socially acceptable.

  • Most of these types of dramas did not have any regular female characters;
  • Literary Influences Ray Bradbury, one of the most revered science-fiction authors, has had many things occur in his life which directly influenced his style of writing.

The symbiotic nature of television and culture is exemplified in every broadcast, from family sitcoms to serious news reports. Chief among these types of shows was the domestic comedy —a generic family comedy that was identified by its character-based humor and usually set within the home.

Presenting a standardized version of the White middle-class suburban family, domestic comedies portrayed the conservative values of an idealized American life.

Studiously avoiding prevalent social issues such as racial discrimination and civil rights, the shows focused on mostly White middle-class families with traditional nuclear roles mother in the home, father in the office and implied that most domestic problems could be solved within a 30-minute time slot, always ending with a strong moral lesson.

Although these shows depicted an idealized version of American family life, many families in the 1950s were traditional nuclear families. Following the widespread poverty, political uncertainty, and physical separation of the war years, many Americans wanted to settle down, have children, and enjoy the peace and security that family life appeared to offer.

During the booming postwar era, a period of optimism and prosperity, the traditional nuclear family flourished. However, the families and lifestyles presented in domestic comedies did not encompass the overall American experience by any stretch of the imagination. Migrant workers suffered horrific deprivations, and racial tensions were rife. None of this was reflected in the world of domestic comedies, where even the Hispanic gardener in Father Knows Best was named Frank Smith Coontz, 1992.

Not all programs in the 1950s were afraid to tackle controversial social or political issues. In March 1954, journalist Edward R. Murrow broadcast an unflattering portrait of U.

McCarthy, a member of the Senate Investigation Committee, had launched inquiries regarding potential Communist infiltration in U. His portrait cast the senator from Wisconsin in an unflattering light by pointing out contradictions in his speeches. This led to such an uproar that McCarthy was formally reprimanded by the U.

Marshal Matt Dillon James Arness stood up to lawlessness in defense of civilization. The characters and community in Gunsmoke faced relevant social issues, including the treatment of minority groups, the meaning of family, the legitimacy of violence, and the strength of religious belief.

During the 1960s, the show adapted to the desires of its viewing audience, becoming increasingly aware of and sympathetic to ethnic minorities, in tune with the national mood during the civil rights era. This adaptability helped the show to become the longest-running western in TV history. Wikimedia Commons — public domain. With five camera crews on duty in the Saigon bureau, news crews captured vivid details of the war in progress. Although graphic images were rarely shown on network TV, several instances of violence reached the screen, including a CBS report in 1965 that showed Marines lighting the thatched roofs of the village of Cam Ne with Zippo lighters and an NBC news report in 1968 that aired a shot of South Vietnamese General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a captive on a Saigon street.

Further images, of children being burned and scarred by napalm and prisoners being tortured, fueled the antiwar sentiments of many Americans. This pressure was especially great during periods of tension throughout the 1950s and 1960s, such as the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, a confrontation that caused many people to fear nuclear war.

As a result of the intense stress faced by many Americans during the 1960s, broadcasters and viewers turned to escapist programs such as I Dream of Jeannie, a fantasy show about a 2,000-year-old genie who marries an astronaut, and Bewitched, a supernatural-themed show about a witch who tries to live as a suburban housewife.

  • By contrast, the women in working-class TV families have tended to be more intelligent and sensible than the men;
  • He said of his own work, I have formulated my own directing style in my head, proceeding without any unnecessary imitation of others.

Both shows typified the situation comedyor sitcom, a comedy genre featuring a recurring cast of characters who resolve zany situations based on their everyday lives. None of the 1960s sitcoms mentioned any of the political unease that was taking place in the outside world, providing audiences with a welcome diversion from real life.

Other than an occasional documentary, TV programming in the 1960s consisted of a sharp dichotomy between prime-time escapist comedy and hard news. Diversity and Politics in the 1970s During the 1970s, broadcasters began to diversify families on their shows to reflect changing social attitudes toward formerly controversial issues such as single parenthood and divorce. In 1972, the U. Divorce rates skyrocketed during the 1970s, as states adopted no-fault divorce the effect of digital broadcasting on viewing patterns popular culture and audience identity, and the change in family dynamics was reflected on television.

Between 1972 and 1978, CBS aired the socially controversial sitcom Maude. Featuring a middle-aged feminist living with her fourth husband and divorced daughter, the show exploded the dominant values of the White middle-class domestic sitcom and its traditional gender roles.

Throughout its 7-year run, Maude tackled social and political issues such as abortion, menopause, birth control, alcoholism, and depression. During its first four seasons, the show was in the top 10 in Nielsen ratings, illustrating the changing tastes of the viewing audience, who had come of age during the era of civil rights and Vietnam protests and developed a taste for socially conscious television.

Even wholesome family favorite The Brady Bunch, which ran from 1969 to 1974, featured a non-nuclear family, reflecting the rising rates of blended families in American society. Featuring a different celebrity guest host every week and relatively unknown comedy regulars, the show parodies contemporary popular culture and politics, lambasting presidential candidates and pop stars alike.

Earlier NBC sketch comedy show Laugh-In, which ran from 1968 to 1973, also featured politically charged material, though it lacked the satirical bite of later series such as SNL. By the end of the decade, television broadcasting reflected a far more politically conscious and socially aware viewing audience.

The effect of digital broadcasting on viewing patterns popular culture and audience identity

However, as cable services gained popularity following the deregulation of the industry in 1984, viewers found themselves with a multitude of options. New markets opened up for these innovative program types, as well as for older genres such as the sitcom. During the 1980s, a revival of family sitcoms took place with two enormous hits: The Cosby Show and Family Ties.

Both featured a new take on modern family life, with the mothers working outside of the home and the fathers pitching in with housework and parental duties.

With a growing number of households subscribing to cable TV, concern began to grow about the levels of violence to which children were becoming exposed. In addition to regularly broadcast network programs, cable offered viewers the chance to watch films and adult-themed shows during all hours, many of which had far more violent content than normal network programming. One study found that by the time an average child leaves elementary school, he or she has witnessed 8,000 murders and more than 100,000 other acts of violence on television Blakey, 2002.

Although no conclusive links have been drawn between witnessing violence on television and carrying out violence in real life, the loosening boundaries regarding sexual and violent content on television is a persistent cause for concern for many parents.

Specialization in the 1990s and 2000s Although TV viewership is growing, the vast number of cable channels and other, newer content delivery platforms means that audiences are thinly stretched. In recent years, broadcasters have been narrowing the focus of their programming to meet the needs and interests of an increasingly fragmented audience.

This trend toward specialization reflects a more general shift within society, as companies cater increasingly to smaller, more targeted consumer bases. Pre-dating MTV by a year, BET initially focused on Black-oriented music videos but soon diversified into original urban-oriented programs and public affairs shows.

Cultural Influences on Television

Although BET compensated somewhat for the underrepresentation of Blacks on television African Americans made up 8 percent of the prime-time characters on television in 1980 but made up 12 percent of the populationviewers complained about the portrayal of stereotypical images and inappropriate violent or sexual behavior in many of the rap videos shown by the network.

During times of national crises, television news broadcasts have galvanized the country by providing real-time coverage of major events.

Televised coverage of the news has had several cultural effects since the 1950s. Providing viewers with footage of the most intense human experiences, televised news has been able to reach people in a way that radio and newspapers cannot. The images themselves have played an important role in influencing viewer opinion.

During the coverage of the civil rights movement, for example, footage of a 1963 attack on civil rights protesters in Birmingham, Alabama, showed police blasting African American demonstrators—many of them children—with fire hoses. Coupled with images of angry White segregationist mobs squaring off against Black students, the news footage did much to sway public opinion in favor of liberal legislation such as the 1964 Voting Rights Act.

Conversely, when volatile pictures of the race riots in Detroit and other cities in the late 1960s hit the airwaves, horrified viewers saw the need for a return to law and order. The footage helped create an anti-civil-rights backlash that encouraged many viewers to vote for conservative Republican Richard Nixon during the 1968 presidential election. During the past few decades, mass-media news coverage has gone beyond swaying public opinion through mere imagery.

Trusted centrist voices such as that of Walter Cronkite, who was known for his impartial reporting of some of the biggest news stories in the 1960s, have been replaced by highly politicized news coverage on cable channels such as conservative Fox News and liberal MSNBC.

As broadcasters narrow their focus to cater to more specialized audiences, viewers choose to watch the networks that suit their political bias. Middle-of-the-road network CNN, which aims for nonpartisanship, frequently loses out in the ratings wars against Fox and MSNBC, both of which have fierce groups of supporters.