Monday, February 3, 2014

Argument of Croteau's "Media and Ideology"

In this piece, Croteau argues that media and ideology play a key part in our perceptions and expectations of our everyday lives. He first explains his point by defining the role of ideology in the life of a society, in essence saying that ideology is a human experience of human expectations. When media expresses (varying and often contradictory) ideological themes and tropes, often times what is concerning to viewers and critics of media is which ideological messages are being broadcasted and what affects this has upon the consumers of media. After reading this piece, I have come to understand this as a reciprocal relationship between people in a society - who arguably have a culture - and the media - who is thus influenced by the cultural expectations of said society. What then becomes interesting is, like the cycle of Darwinian Theory of evolution, new messages of what can be acceptable are mixed in with dominant messages. Those who have the power in society - those who are valued in some form or another - define what power is. While Croteau argues also that as long as the "correct" message - i.e. the messages of the marketing teams and producers of media - are being displayed and consumed - and therefore employed by the consumers who absorb them, there is no critique to the dominant ideology. Critique thus comes when there is a fissure between "real life" and what our culture/media expresses to us. Therefore the more a message is given what I refer to as “airtime” the more this ideological message becomes a consumed and perceived reality for those at whom it is aimed. It is because of this reason that media, like culture and power, are constantly changing in its approach to find a type of balance with the society as a whole. Media consumption and production is a cycle that relies upon both a society that consumes and a source for consumption – you cannot have one without the other. In this way, we can look at the ways in which media and ideology create a cycle of destruction – the breaking down of “real life” images – and reconstruction – the repeated stereotypical images and tropes we understand and fall back onto that take different shape and/or change very slowly. Like a phoenix rising, media is a cycle of destruction which gives life to creation of human expectations.