Hi everyone. My blog entry is going to discuss cultivation theory, but rather than focus on how it relates to violence, I’m going to address how I feel it is visible in the portrayal of body images in the media.
In chapter 11 of our textbook, Baron and Davis define cultivation analysis as a “theory that television ‘cultivates,’ or creates a worldview that, although possibly inaccurate, becomes the reality because people believe it to be so.” (B&D 324) This theory, initiated and studied by George Gerbner, becomes implanted in our brains and lives through our constant and prolonged exposure to media. The text refers to the exaggeration of violence on television programs in relation to real-life violence. Violence occurs far more on television than it does in reality, causing people to believe what they see on TV and assume that violent acts in the real world take place in similar frequency.
Not only has the overestimation of violence come as a result of cultivation theory, but so has the portrayal of an inaccurate body image. For years celebrities and models, the people who cover the television channels and magazine pages, are photographed and depicted as having thin bodies and few imperfections. Seeing as nearly 100% of American households own televisions (McQuail 399), these are the images that surround the public. It makes sense, then, that audiences would believe this is how many, if not all, people truly are- fit, trim, and near perfect. These body images have become ingrained into our psyches as what is normal and common.
However, the majority of Americans do not even come close to these portrayed body images. The average American woman is a size 14, not a 2 or a 4 like most celebrities are shown as. Males, as well, typically do not have bodies resembling those of actors, singers, models, etc. Cultivation has skewed the American people into thinking that the average body image is much smaller than it actually is.
Recently, as I’m sure many of you know, Jessica Simpson and her body have become the subject of media scrutiny for a recent public appearance.
Tabloids, blogs and the like have bashed Simpson for her curves, weight gain, and getting “fat.” Now call me crazy, but fat would not be one of the first hundred words I would use to describe Simpson. Sure she may not be a size 0, but there’s nothing wrong with that. She breaks the Hollywood status quo and much more accurately represents the American public.
My question is, how do you all feel about this? Do you think media should make more of an effort to expose the truth and break cultivated views like these?