In general, “media” refers to the tools of mass communication. Media today consists of television, Internet, cinema, newspapers, radio, magazines, direct mail, fax, and the telephone. Viewers can see some form of pictorial representation of messages through certain types of broadcasting and advertising. Images are visual representations, pictures, graphics, and include video, movies. Images are very useful in media to help get across messages effectively.
Media images are ubiquitous in modern society. We know this because when we go almost anywhere, for example, drive on the roads, we can see billboards promoting famous brands and the latest products. When we are attracted to advertisements, we may begin to imagine or visualize using it. The media can give us information to tell us what a product, service or message is. In fact, media influence has become so powerful today that they can easily influence people positively and/or negatively. We also live in a society that depends on the media as a source of entertainment and information. Indeed, the media images affect both individuals and society which includes women, men, teenagers and younger children.
Today, our life will remain incomplete without media. For example, it provides an easy means of communication where people are able to contact friends and family from another side of the world. At the same time, media like television, radio and the Internet enhance our knowledge by providing access to information from all over the world. We can also receive different types of news or daily events through media, almost instantly, for example, through the Internet. For example, when the video of people protesting on the streets of Cairo in Egypt to change the government in Egypt was broadcast over the Worldwide Web, these images actually influenced more people from other countries to join the street protests in support of the Egyptian protesters. Something similar happened in 2010 in Thailand where the ‘Red’ Shirts protested in the streets to oppose and change the Thai government. The Thai government then had supporters who wore the ‘Yellow’ Shirts, and also marched in the streets. These kinds of images when seen on TV, newspapers or the Internet by individuals and “society” in general, can influence viewers to either support or not support those who are in power.
At the same time, media like television enhances our knowledge by providing access to information all over the world. We can also receive different news or daily events through the television. It can also be such a powerful educational tool for the younger generation helping to put them on the right path. For example, “Sesame Street” is one of the TV programs that has a positive influence among many of the younger generation. They taught kids to communicate effectively, to spell correctly, choose healthy food and have fun with learning. First and foremost, they taught us to communicate with the deaf. It brings out the talents of the people. Television provides a good influence in education by helping to teach right values.
Newspapers have a positive influence on society. Newspapers not only give information or the latest news. They also help in the positive linkage between government and the people. As a people in Malaysia, we need to have a greater concern for the economic and political issues of our country, which we can get from newspapers. Newspapers even help to increase knowledge that we cannot get from books. For example, a girl from Malacca killed herself after falling from a building. This news was reported by the Star newspaper. Through the news, we know that she died because she injured her head. If we want to know more about what is happening in the world around us, newspapers are a resource to get the daily information.
On the other hand, mass media can at times have a negative influence. Advertisements can be created to convince people to buy or give support for certain products. In addition to advertisements, some messages may have hidden motives. For instance, advertisements may show images of young people enjoying fried chicken, burgers, snacks, and sweet drinks. These advertisements of images can have a powerful influence on the young. The ‘hidden’ messages behind these advertisements are to persuade the younger generation to buy and to enjoy these types of foods. However, these images do not show or tell viewers that these foods may not be good for their health.
Images in the media can have a powerful influence on our behavior. Movies, another form of mass media, today may show violence in one form or another. For instance, younger people may show disrespect or even bully older people. Images of violence somehow influence individuals and especially the younger generation to think that violence is accepted by society when it is not. Movies can also be used to show sexual images. Such images have a powerful influence on the mind and soul of young people. People who watch these images may be influenced to react in a socially unacceptable or even criminal manner. The movie “The Tourist”, is a romantic movie that shows the relationship between actors Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. He acts as a brilliant thief who steals a large sum of money. He is so smart that nobody can identify who he is. At the end of the story, he is not caught and goes free. This show somehow teaches the younger generation that it is right to steal and be smart they think is right.
Magazines display visual images that can deeply influence female readers. Young girls and adult women spend time reading magazines partly or mainly because of fashion trends. Most of the models in the magazines are tall, slim and have nice hair. Based on the research from Internet, 70% of women feet insecure after they read the magazines such as Vivi, Mina, Allure, Instyle and Teen Vogue. In this example, women wanted to slim down to look like the model. They will go on diet until they see some result. They will also try to do some medical things that will cause some side effects to their bodies. These types of media images may have a huge impact on society, and may even influence public opinion on how females, especially young girls and women should look.
In conclusion, the use of media images can be both positive and negative to the individual or society. In a positive way, media makes our lifestyle easier, for example, we can get to know what is going on out there, locally or globally, within a short space of time. Even though there are so many benefits from media images, we have to be careful not to let them influence us unknowingly. We need to be wise when using the media.