The Social Influences of the Visual Entertainment Media

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American culture has a bi-directional relationship with the visual media, in which expressions in television and film manifest in society but social norms also manifest on the screen. Therefore, visual media in the United States actually has the potential to alter social norms and interactions. The television shows that were popular in the 1950s and early 1960s reflect the conservative family values that were popular at that time in American history. The Brady Bunch, for example, shows a happy-go-lucky white family, and highlights the suburban American dream. More contemporary shows show how American social values and norms have evolved since the 1950s. In Will and Grace, gay characters feature prominently to reflect the fact that Americans are coming out of the closet and staying out. There are ample examples of how television reflects social norms, while actively working to shape those norms as well. For instance, the 1980s show The Cosby Show was one in which the middle-class African-American family was portrayed for the first time on television. The production was a deliberate attempt to teach new values that would help eliminate the standard stereotypes of African-Americans that do not fit into the white dominant culture. By producing The Cosby Show, Bill Cosby and other entertainers were actively shaping the values and worldviews of Americans. In a more direct way, children's television shows on PBS such as Sesame Street are written so that characters convey

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