Just a thought: Media influence and where to draw the line?

I’ve been meaning to write about this article about an Israeli TV show’s opening episode sparking a bit of controversy among Israelis some time ago, but I never had the chance to get around to it.  I finally have a minute now though; I was given some generous down time from my weekend boss.  (There was a fourth article I wanted to cover about a heartwarming article I found about two dogs, but I’ve decided against it because there really isn’t anything different I can really say outside of what’s already been stated in the article, so I tweeted it some time ago instead.)

This particular article, however, piqued my interest because it resonates with what I am currently studying, which is the analysis of cultural texts specific to the Israeli-Arab conflict.  I can’t boast that I know a lot about this show, and I only loosely followed the story of Gilad Schalit.  The reason why this particular show caused an uproar in the Israeli community is because of how similar the show was to real life events.  The line between reality and fiction was greatly blurred, upsetting many, including Schalit’s family.  The episode aired a year before Schalit’s release.

A couple thoughts came to mind after reading an article.  The first was just how powerful is the media, anyway?  There have been arguments that television shows and video games can awaken violent tendencies in people, particularly children.  For those of you that remember Casey Anthony, that particular case was greatly hyped up by the media, and a lot of people were shocked that the verdict wasn’t what the media led people to expect.  What I’m trying to get at is after reading the article, I couldn’t help but speculate what if the show helped in inspiring what ended up happening in Schalit’s situation?  I’m not saying that the episode was the sole factor though.

The other thought that came to mind after reading this article was where should media draw the line?  I think that the role of the media has not only greatly evolved over the years, but has also grown progressively more corrupt with time.  A longer rant for another day, but sometimes I think it is at times overlooked how powerful the media’s influence can be.  In regards to this particular article though, I wonder if the media should be expected to adhere to some sort of code for sensitivity.  For example, one of my favorite Korean singers, Wax (who has written several songs with comedic lyrics), I believe had to delay the release of one of her songs, “Take the Subway” (or 지하철을 타고), because of a train wreck that had happened around the time the song was created.  On the one hand, I think that action like this makes sense.  On the other hand, people can argue that banning or delaying something from being aired/distributed/etc. impedes on the right to free speech and expression.

Another side to the argument that I can see comes from what I’ve been taught in many a creative writing course; write what you know.  It helps people to relate to what you are writing about, and you are more likely to reach a much broader audience if you write about something familiar rather than a specific topic, which would get you less of a following.  Yet again on the flip side, I would like to make a momentary reference to one of my favorite movies of all time, Inception (starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, Ken Wantanabe, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt–written and directed by Christopher Nolan).  Terrific movie, wonderful cast–but I digress.

In that movie, DiCaprio’s character says something along the lines of (mini-spoiler alert, by the way) never create things from what you know, because it blurs the line between fiction and reality–which can cause an individual to lose sense of what is actually real.  I think this idea is what this article is trying to address.

So is any topic up for grabs, or should the media be more mindful of current trends and events before doing heavy media coverage or creating television shows on the topic?  Should certain topics be considered taboo altogether, or is there just a certain period of time that needs to pass before a particularly sensitive can be touched upon?

These are just my thoughts on the matter, but as it is with most topics, I think it’s all a matter of personal opinion and individual perspective.

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