Media Effects Research Proposal

Pages: 5 (1377 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Film

Media Effects: Slumdog Millionaire

The mass media has grown to become a part of every American's daily life. Due to the increasing exposure to media not only in the United States but everywhere else in the world, scholars have theorized and researched on the effects mass media has on people. In this paper, the theatrical film Slumdog Millionaire, widely released in the United States in January 23, 2009, is used in order to analyze the effects of mass media content to the individual and the society.

Slumdog Millionaire takes place in Mumbai, India in 2006. It is a story about destiny with the basic premise that everything happens for a reason. Jamal Malik who works for a call center serving tea is one question away from winning the highest prize in the television program, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. He was taken by force by the police when the host of the show doubted Jamal's capacity and thought that he was cheating. Jamal was treated with brutality by the police. They tortured him through drowning, beatings, and electrocution with the intent of getting the truth.

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Jamal grew up in the slums witnessing and experiencing varied kinds of violence and cruelty where children are exploited and women are mistreated. Life in the slums was driven by hunger that people turn to petty crimes in order to subsist. Jamal lived in an environment where gangsters are the lords, slavery is part of everyday, and killings are a normal occurrence. All these are shown in film and they convey messages which are potentially crucial due to their potential effects. The reason for this is that the images of these scenes linger to an individual and leave a lasting impression.

Research Proposal on Media Effects Assignment

In analyzing the potential effects of the media content of Slumdog Millionaire, the Desensitization Theory as well as the social learning theory is applied in order to speculate on how it could affect the audience.

According to Comstock (as cited in Yates et al., 1998), the "desensitization theory states that individuals who watch large amounts of violence become less sensitive to future violent content than individuals who watch less violence." Explaining further, Rockler-Gladen (2008) said that "because people are exposed to so much violence in the media, violence no longer makes a strong emotional impact upon them." In a study conducted by Cline, Croft, and Courrier (as cited in Yates et al., 1998), it was found that "children who watched a lot of television (arguably a violent medium) became less physiologically aroused when shown the violent clip compared to the children who were not heavy viewers." Desensitization causes less sensitivity or a kind of numbness towards violence. For desensitization to occur there must be continuous, repeated or heavy exposure to violence.

Another theory with regards the effect of mass media on the individual is Social Learning Theory. This was developed by Albert Bandura and focuses on the learning that happens within a social context. Social Learning Theory proposes that individuals learn information and behaviors by observing or watching other people. An individual can learn new information and behaviors without experiencing or showing a change in behavior. Bandura described the four components of observational learning. "To successfully imitate a model we must 1) attend to the model, 2) have some way of retaining what we have seen, 3) have the necessary motor skills to reproduce the behavior" (O'Rorke,2006).

Bandura explained that reinforcement or motivation, the fourth component, is necessary for modeling or imitation to occur. According to the Social Learning Theory, when these conditions are met, an individual would most likely know how to imitate the model of the behavior. However, an individual may also choose not to imitate the socially learned behavior. Social Learning Theory hypothesizes that an individual "can acquire lasting attitudes, emotional reactions, and behavioral proclivities toward persons, places or things that have been associated with modeled emotional experiences" (O'Rorke, 2006). O'Rorke (2006) said that "the potential danger of heavy consumption of television is the exposure to this symbolic world may make the televised images appear to the authentic state of human affairs." And in the absence of someone… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"Media Effects."  Essaytown.com.  April 21, 2009.  Accessed July 6, 2020.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/media-effects/465062.