The Electronic Era

Media images and ideas guide people’s lives since they nurture a belief system which controls them and societal behaviors. Television communicates more images and ideas to many people than any other medium of communication. Numerous individuals rely on TV for entertainment and news which allows them to form their worldview. Indeed, TV delivers daily concepts and images that enable people to form ideas, develop norms, reinforce stereotypes, and mold their reasoning (Campbell, Martin & Fabos, 2015, p. 111).Since its invention, TV has a lasting presence in the lives of many individuals across the globe. With its appealing and extremely entertaining technology, it has attracted their interest to the extent that it competes with the manner people interact with others. TV has also influenced the viewers’ beliefs and attitudes significantly, especially about others’ cultural ethnic and social backgrounds(Campbell et al., 2015, pp. 199-203).Since the 1940s, TV has presented not only a wide-ranging and profound influence on culture and society but also has shaped the manner people develop views about vital social concerns such as class, race, politics, and gender

The introduction of TV in the late 1940s frightened the movie industry. In the 1940s, Hollywood was at the peak of its Golden Age such that its movies were prevalent in mass entertainment. However, from the 1940s to the 1950s, such success and dominance evaporated. Many movie studios, palaces, and theatres closed down, and some of the greatest screenwriters, directors, and actors in Hollywood stopped their production and acting. Such development was the outcome of the electronic era, and TV proved a useful tool that destroyed the Golden Age of Hollywood. Since then, people have become gradually accustomed to watching TV instead of going to the theater (Campbell et al., 2015, pp. 241-3).The TV did not only captivate its viewers but it also overturned everything people knew about the film business.

Hollywood had a successful business in the years before the 1940s. Business was booming, and profits were flowing every week. However, TV proved to be a potential and destructive rival in the movie industry since it offered media houses with an ability to broadcast directly to viewers in real time. Several studios bought stakes in TV stations, which gave them a majority of control. Movie studios were forced to reduce their control on theaters and split the business such that they did not combine exhibition, distribution, and production. Since TV was free, it became difficult for moviemakers to sway the audience from cheap medium accessible from their homes (Campbell et al., 2015, pp. 244-6). Many actors also left studios and joined TV.Such development forced movie studios to change its business model and diversify. In effect, they produced not only movies but also TV shows. Movie studios also licensed out their films for TV broadcast, developed theme parks, and established record labels to diversify their revenue streams. To appeal to the diminishing consumer market, they overlooked morality codes and produced more adult content. They also invested less in movie quality and took few creative risks (Campbell et al., 2015, pp. 251-3). All these actions were signs of despair in the movie industry.

The TValso played a considerable role in ending discrimination and segregation of minority communities. It was possible through the way TV represented minorities through programs and shows (Campbell et al., 2015, p. 248). Before the 1970s, many of the people that featured on TV programs were whites, from sports to ads, entertainment, and news. Even when TV featured a few minorities, it represented them as stereotypes (Phillips, 2011, pp. 23-4).During this time, outright racism did not allow the representation of minorities on TV. Many viewed that most viewers were white and could dislike watching programs about the minority. With the advent of the civil rights movement during the 1960s and 70s, TV programs offered comprehensive coverage of the protests, which played a central role in shaping the public’s opinion about the reason for equality.

TV increased awareness concerning racial discrimination. Because of this, many people realized that television shows lacked minority characters (Phillips, 2011, p. 25). Consequently, TV started to portray minority actors because of the rising need to boost the self-esteem of minority audiences, improve race relations, and foster understanding. From the 1970s, many TV stations featured minority programs as well as shows and actors from minority communities. Through these shows, TV became a central medium that minority groups could address their social challenges and struggles such as crime, unemployment, and discrimination among others. Consequently, many people identified with minority struggles. Many new channels directed their shows to minorities since they viewed that numerous major networks overlooked them. Then again, it resulted in the increased segregation of television programming and shows, as some shows featured either black or white people (Phillips, 2011, pp. 26-8). Usually, White and African Americans view different sets of TV programs and shows. Such diverse watching patterns prevent people of various races from having common cultural references and shared interests, an aspect that gives to the widespread race divisions.

TV not only portrayed the representation of women in society but it also contributed to the shifting gender roles. Like the issue of race discrimination, TV also discriminated against women. Since its invention, organizations that fight for equal rights for minority women played a major role in transforming the TV content. Such organizations opposed programs that stereotyped African American women actors (Seggar, Hafen & Hannonen‐Gladden, 2009, p. 277). From the start, TV featured white women actors in prominent roles. However, many women organizations realized the lack of representation of minority women and fought for TV to intensify diversity.

Gradually, TV increased the representation of minority women in prominent roles besides creating increased job opportunities behind the scenes. Many viewed that TV could play a significant part in shaping the views that people had about minority women and gender roles in society (Seggar et al., 2009, pp. 278-9). TV programs reflected the society’s viewpoints about gender roles. Many progressive TV shows helped the audience to accept the increasing gender roles of women. Initially, during the 1950s, TV focused on men, strong male actors with the ability and bravery to solve issues. Many TV shows lacked female characters except those that portrayed them as mothers and housewives. Later on, TV programs started to challenge conventional gender roles. Such programs explored the dissatisfaction of women about their roles and their ambition to do more in society. Such shows threatened the men of that time who believed that women should not do work outside the family setting(Seggar et al., 2009, pp. 280-1).TV’s introduction of women to more gender roles revealed the capacity of women to improve, helping many people to accept increased women empowerment. Apart from seeking equal opportunities and rights for women, TV programs started portraying many women in nonconventional roles and duties.

Given the capacity of TV technology to offer wide coverage, it played a central role in shaping the American government and politics in several ways. TV impacted the way voters and parties selected their candidates, the approach they used to campaign for election, and voters’ decision (Campbell et al., 2015, p. 408). Through TV, people can have an in-depth analysis about not only their leaders but also the government’s inner workings.TV has a negative effect on politics; for instance, voters use it to judge their prospective candidates based on their representation on TV instead of looking at their approach to vital societal issues. TV has become popular given the high cost of campaigning and political advertising (Gentzkow, 2005, pp. 931-2). Accordingly, this has created a gap between the poor and the wealth since it is only the rich who can afford the expensive campaigns and ads on TV. The TV served as the primary source of political information and news. Largely, its impact increased significantly throughout the 1960s since it allowed the audience to experience the main political happenings like nominations, conventions, and debates in real-time (Gentzkow, 2005, pp. 933-4). Today, a large number of people consider TV their main source of political opinions.

TV has proven to be highly influential; thus, the government has set regulations that govern the role it plays in its political processes. It has boomed in political processes given its ability to air campaign advertisements, portray the image of leaders, promote candidates, and sway voters’ views (Campbell et al., 2015, pp. 211-3). Such political commercials are now the most vital way presidential candidates communicate with their voters.TV offers political candidates the capacity to reach a large audience with a controlled and direct message. Conversely, TV has led to the emergence of negative campaigning(Gentzkow, 2005, pp. 935-8). Many commercials distort the reputation of political opponents to sway voters, an aspect that results in the declining repute towards the government and legislators.

Television has a profound and lasting effect on the use of media in society. TVplays a significant role in political processes, racial and discrimination issues, and gender roles. Since its invention, TV has resulted in significant effects. It has revolutionized the views people have about the world. Nevertheless, since the 1940s, the impact has been both negative and positive. The TV has transformed humanity, and such changes will continue in the unforeseeable future. It has expanded the way people view and understand social issues such as racial discrimination, representation of women,and politics. TV exposes people to societal problems, acting as a catalyst for global change. Apart from shaping public opinion, it allows people to engage in issues, which presents both societal and personal implications. Real-time disclosure of events, debates, and discussions offer the potential for transformation.



Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. (2015). Media & Culture Mass: Communication in a Digital Age (10th Ed.). Boston. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s. 1-570

Gentzkow, M. A. (2005). Television and Voter Turnout. SSRN Electronic Journal,121(3), 931-972. doi:10.2139/ssrn.607402

Phillips, G. (2011). Reporting Diversity: The Representation of Ethnic Minorities in Australia’s Television Current Affairs Programs. Media International Australia,139(1), 23-31. doi:10.1177/1329878×1113900105

Seggar, J. F., Hafen, J. K., & Hannonen‐Gladden, H. (2009). Televisions portrayals of minorities and women in drama and comedy-drama 1971‐80. Journal of Broadcasting,25(3), 277-288. doi:10.1080/08838158109386451


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