Sunday, November 6, 2011

to GTL or to not GTL?

Last but not least, let’s not forget the resounding impact MTV’s Jersey Shore has had on pop culture.  Ever since it aired it has not only been met with praise and passionate viewers, but also with criticism and disgust. My own mother (of Italian decent) went on for month about the negative image that this show was creating for those of our nationality. Who were these “juice head guidos” and why were they the new poster children for Italian-Americans?  If one were to do their research two of the more popular cast mates, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, and Jennifer “JWOWW” Farley, are not even of Italian heritage. Polizzi is Chilean, adopted by two Italians from New York, and Farley is Irish from New York. While the other cast mates are indeed Italian, I would never consider them the representatives for Italians across the United States. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Above the Influence

Above the Influence is a youth-targeted campaign run by the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign created by Congress in 1998. Having national and local levels of effort, there are online, television, and print ads as a part of the campaign. The advertisements are designed to educate youth on the dangers of drugs and redirect their choices into something more positive. They are actively engaged in local level organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the YMCA. 
On their website, there are plenty tools and fact sheets for those interested in drug abuse and how to combat peer pressure. They have an interactive quiz on the effects marijuana have on the brain and a sheet of drug facts on all sorts of illegal narcotics.
Here are some of their television ad campaign commercials that are played regularly:

Learn more at:
Above The Influence

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Here's some sexually charged scenes from popular teen dramas:

While anyone who watches Gossip Girl knows that this is the short lived match of Blair and Nate, this scene gets pretty heated. Of course, there are adult TV series that show and do much more than this clip, one must keep in mind that these two are supposed to be no more than 17 years old, with a fan base of just that.

Here's a clip of a subtle but out there scene of a high school student receiving oral sex in the campus parking lot of his school. Really?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sexuality on TV

There’s no hiding the sexual explicit content on today’s television. A commercial, a music video, a teenagers TV series all share the guilt of portraying sexual content to audiences well below its understanding.  We can begin with the obvious vehicle of sexual content, MTV. Yes, we’re all aware of MTV’s falling out with its namesake of playing music on television and its turn to exploiting pregnant teenagers, drunk guidos and houses of raunchy and ridiculous twentysomethings. 

When I Love Lucy debuted the first pregnant woman playing a pregnant woman on television some sixty years ago, that was considered a break in social barriers and controversial. Today, there are countless shows based solely on the concept of pregnancy. One in particular has stirred up the idea that getting pregnant at the age of 16 is acceptable. 16 and Pregnant on MTV follows a few teenage girls who have accidentally gotten pregnant by their usually less than desirable high school boyfriends and the issues that follow. Yes, this show displays the girls in difficult positions based on their pregnancy and the rift it usually creates between them and their parents; but in the end, they have a television show on MTV, while girls who make wise decisions are do not. Even the spinoff of this show, Teen Mom, sends a sad message to young girls. As one of the mothers uses her minimal fame to kick start a modeling career, another has child abuse charges being brought upon her. Out of all the couples who produced a child, the couple who made the rational decision of placing their child up for adoption happens to be the only set still together. While this should send a positive message that there can be life after a pregnancy or adoption and that keeping the child may not be the best idea, the two are the only ones not in school or pursuing any form of higher education. None of the situations that arise from this series give a positive message to the viewers. 

One of the longest running MTV shows, The Real World, has gained success by housing 7-8 total strangers in an exciting city for three months. Of course, putting a handful of those between the ages of 20-25, in a house together for that amount of time is a recipe for televised sex. Throughout the 20 or so seasons of The Real World, we have seen dozens of onscreen hot tub hook-ups and in bed trysts.  There are night vision cameras in all of the bedrooms, a hot tub, and private confessional rooms all of which there have been roommate rendezvous.  There were even rumors within the 12th season, filmed in Las Vegas, that aphrodisiacs were pumped through the air vents for an even spicier season.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Law and Order: SVU.

According to Straubhaar, there are a few categories that fall under the realm of antisocial media. But the question is, if these themes apply to a television show, is it necessarily anti social? Take for example one of the popular strands of the Law and Order series, Law and Order: SVU, based on special victims (including rape, sexual abuse, or torture of predominately women and children).  This show presents violence, stereotypes, drug abuse, and sexual behavior; however, I believe a show of this nature does not reinforce negative behavior. 


Law and Order at its core is a cop show, so some of the stereotypes are clear. Elliot Stabler, Played by Christopher Meloni, is the rough and tough male lead. He’s an ex Marine Corps with tattoos who is afraid of vulnerability. He has a major anger management problem yet confides in his Irish/Catholic roots. Many of the episodes one finds that he defends his faith with total blindness. He portrays the standard male-cop role. Then there’s Olivia Benson, played by  Mariska Hargitay, who is the female lead. Compared to Stabler, she is compassionate and warm. She is also the product and eventual victim of rape, which reinforces the idea that women are more susceptible to rape than men. There are even a few episodes that toy with her sexuality, questioning if she is attracted to women, which is easily one of the more common female cop stereotypes found.  Aside from the two leading roles, there are also Detective Fin Tutuola (Ice-T) and Detective John Munch (Richard Belzer) one of them black, closely connected to the lower income side of New York and now the drug enforcement agency, and the other a Jew, whose religion is consistently the butt of jokes made within the series. 


The show is saturated in rape and murder. Often scenes show the body (or bodies) of the victims or the act of violence.  In court, gritty details of the attacks are revisited and certainly become content that is inappropriate for children. And while the sexuality featured here is not the kind found on teen dramas, there are episodes that have sexual content regarding to child molestation and rape. 

But the question remains: is it an antisocial or prosocial program? Even though there are elements of antisocial material in the series, the main goal is justice and to rid the greater NYC area of sexual predators and murders. While not all episodes lead to happy endings, they are precautionary tales of how to keep oneself safe, the effects such tragedies have on the victims, and (while marginally fictionalized) the legal process that keeps our justice system intact.It may not be the most recommended series for children to watch and learn from, but in terms of teen and adult programming, there are far worse influences roaming on the television. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

mini-project #2

For this segment of my New Communications Technology class project, I have taken on the experience of keeping a blog revolving around the antisocial and prosocial material found on television and the internet. What affects do these programs, images, and campaigns have on us and the children of our society? If something shares antisocial behavior, can it also be a tool for prosocial education?
Antisocial behavior is defined as something that lacks social grace and may cause damage to society. Within this broad category, there are a few distinct themes that are relevant to the media. Violence can be seen on any cop drama, video game, or action film, and ultimately places little positive influence on those watching. Many children’s shows present a trivialized version of violence, which some studies show that the viewer in question often mimics these transgressions as a norm. Then there is the question of sexual promiscuity or content. Sex and the City (while not the HBO version) plays on repeat on E! and TBS at all hours of the day, often glorifying the idea of sleeping around with multiple partners. It has risqué topics and scenes, including conversations on dildos, pubic hair, and even threesomes.  There are popular teen dramas that show sex scenes that are often only a bra away from full nudity. Even something as simple as stereotypes is considered antisocial content.  With this, there are tons of television shows, advertisements, and movies that stick to preconceived notions on others in society.  They create images of gender roles and of racial context that especially in today’s society, should be broken more than affirmed.
On the other hand, there is prosocial behavior, which can be defined as content or material that encourages the good in society.  This includes informative campaigns, political communications, and education. It encompasses the values that society wants our children to soak in and reiterate in their life, in essence, the exact opposite of antisocial content.  For example, this course can be considered a part of prosocial behavior. Since it is education based off the internet, it utilizes new world media to conduct an old world task.  Other examples of prosocial content include anti-drug campaigns, advertisements promoting safe sex, or even educational children’s shows.