TV Gangstas = Our Inner Reality?

… the recently deceased professor of communication George Gerbner claimed that when consumed in sufficient quantities, modern media, like television, substitute their realities for the reality out in the streets, ‘on the ground.’ He claimed that people who watch a lot of TV begin to live their lives as if the TV reality were an accurate reflection of the world outside. After a while the TV reality takes precedence over the ‘real’ world. Given what’s on TV, this televised version of reality paints a picture of the world as a dangerous place, full of crime, suspicious characters, and double-dealing – and with an inordinate portion of the population devoted to law enforcement. Cities as portrayed on TV are filled with blatantly sexy men and women, stereotypically oddball characters and disreputable agents, and the cops who are there to deal with all of them. The world is divided up into beautiful party people, lawbreakers, and enforcers. To some extent this skewed picture of the world, according to Gerbner, eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When the TV-saturated public begins to act as if the TV reality is real and behaves accordingly – reacting fearfully and suspiciously to a world perceived as being primarily populated with drug dealers and con men, according to Gerbner’s scenario – then eventually the real world begins to adjust itself to match the fiction. The fact is there are such things as cops, drug dealers, sleazy bitches, and attractive folks with ready banter and clever quips. These stereotypes are not entirely made up. Their existence can be confirmed, just not in the proportions seen in TV land. But as any marketing or advertising person will tell you, perception is all … Now if we were to take what we are presented literally, the world would be made of smart-asses, cops, sexy bitches, and gangsters. But maybe they are all just a vehicle for the same old stories, stories we love and need, but don’t really take seriously as a mirror of reality … Maybe all those exaggerated characters always simply mirror a different kind of reality – the one inside. – David Byrne, Bicycle Diaries.

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